August 1, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 5:52 PM


Posted by orrinj at 5:49 PM


Robots are replacing managers, too (Sarah Kessler, July 31, 2017, Quartz)

As its name implies, Orchestra conducts a swarm of workers, most of whom are freelancers, and other "robots" to complete projects. When a client requests website improvements, which B12 sells a la carte, Orchestra generates a new Slack group, identifies team members who are both available and appropriate to complete specific tasks, and hands off work to humans and automated processes in the appropriate order. It constructs a hierarchy of workers who can check and provide feedback on each other's work.

Automation is often associated with repetitive work such as torquing a bolt or combing through contracts during an audit. Orchestra and other systems like it demonstrate that the management of that work, and even work too complex to fully automate, also involves tasks with high automation potential. 

Posted by orrinj at 5:45 PM


Republican makes first move to work with Democrats on healthcare (Susan Cornwell, 8/01/17, Reuters) 

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander on Tuesday made the first move by a senior Republican to work with Democrats on repairing Obamacare after his party failed to repeal and replace the healthcare law, announcing work on bipartisan legislation to stabilize the individual health insurance market.

Alexander, who chairs the Senate health committee, urged U.S. President Donald Trump to drop his threat to cut government subsidy payments to insurers that make Obamacare plans affordable and to allow the payments through September. The senator also said fellow lawmakers should fund those payments for one year.

Governors May Have a Bipartisan Fix for Obamacare (Kevin Lamarque, 8/01/17, Fiscal Times)

The apparent demise of the Republican drive to scrap the Affordable Care Act may open the door to bipartisan fixes to the law. If it does, some of the proposals being touted by a bipartisan group of governors may get a hearing on Capitol Hill.

The seven Democrats and six Republican governors who crafted the proposals want federal money to stabilize the ACA's health insurance marketplaces, and greater power to manage them. They argue it should be easier for states to customize Medicaid, the joint federal-state health insurance for the poor, and they want new tools to curb fast-rising drug prices. And they insist that states should continue to regulate the health policies sold within their borders.

Posted by orrinj at 5:41 PM


McConnell brushes off Trump's call to get rid of Senate filibuster rule (Lisa Mascaro, 8/01/17, LA Times)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear Tuesday that he does not side with the president's approach to Senate procedures.

"It's pretty obvious on healthcare our problem was not the Democrats," McConnell said Tuesday. "The votes were simply not there."

Posted by orrinj at 5:31 PM


The Conservative Case for Universal Healthcare : Why in five years, the American right will embrace socialized medicine. (CHASE MADAR • July 25, 2017, American Conservative)

Don't tell anyone, but American conservatives will soon be embracing single-payer healthcare, or some other form of socialized healthcare.

Yes, that's a bold claim given that a GOP-controlled Congress and President are poised to un-socialize a great deal of healthcare, and may even pull it off. But within five years, plenty of Republicans will be loudly supporting or quietly assenting to universal Medicare.

And that's a good thing, because socializing healthcare is the only demonstrably effective way to control costs and cover everyone. It results in a healthier country and it saves a ton of money.

That may seem offensively counterintuitive. It's generally assumed that universal healthcare will by definition cost more.

In fact, in every first-world nation that has socialized medicine-whether it be  a heavily regulated multi-insurer system like Germany, single-payer like Canada, or a purely socialized system like the United Kingdom--it costs less. A lot, lot less, in fact: While healthcare eats up nearly 18 percent of U.S. GDP, for other nations, from Australia and Canada to Germany and Japan, the figure hovers around 11 percent. (It's no wonder that smarter capitalists like Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway are bemoaning the drag on U.S. firm competitiveness from high healthcare costs.) Nor are healthcare results in America anything to brag about: lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and poor scores on a wide range of important public health indicators.

Why does socialized healthcare cost less? Getting rid of private insurers, which suck up a lot money without adding any value, would result in a huge savings, as much as 15 percent by one academic estimate published in the American Journal of Public Health. When the government flexing its monopsony muscle as the overwhelmingly largest buyer of medical services, drugs and technology, it would also lower prices--that's what happens in nearly every other country.

The more conservative alternative--universal HSAs--is better because it is a surreptitious way of building wealth.

Posted by orrinj at 4:44 PM


Acting DEA chief: Trump "condoned police misconduct" (Alayna Treene, 8/01/17, Axios)
America's top drug enforcement officer, acting chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration Chuck Rosenberg, shot down President Trump's remarks about police use of force in a worldwide memo to DEA agents Saturday, stating that they should disregard any suggestion that roughing up suspects is okay, per the WSJ. [...]

A longtime Justice Department official, Rosenberg perviously served George W. Bush's first attorney general, John Ashcroft. He also worked for the now-Special Prosecutor in the Russia probe, Robert Mueller, when he was FBI director; and ex-FBI Director James Comey, first when he was deputy AG and again when he became FBI director.

Posted by orrinj at 1:02 PM


Behind Fox News' Baseless Seth Rich Story: The Untold Tale (David Folkenflik, 8/01/17, Morning Edition)

The Fox News Channel and a wealthy supporter of President Trump worked in concert under the watchful eye of the White House to concoct a story about the death of a young Democratic National Committee aide, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The explosive claim is part of the lawsuit filed against Fox News by Rod Wheeler, a longtime paid commentator for the news network. The suit was obtained exclusively by NPR.

Wheeler alleges Fox News and the Trump supporter intended to deflect public attention from growing concern about the administration's ties to the Russian government. His suit charges that a Fox News reporter created quotations out of thin air and attributed them to him to propel her story. [...]

The lawsuit focuses particular attention on the role of the Trump supporter, Ed Butowsky, in weaving the story. He is a wealthy Dallas investor and unpaid Fox commentator on financial matters who has emerged as a reliable Republican surrogate in recent years. Butowsky offered to pay for Wheeler to investigate the death of the DNC aide, Seth Rich, on behalf of his grieving parents in Omaha, Neb.

On April 20, a month before the story ran, Butowsky and Wheeler -- the investor and the investigator -- met at the White House with then-press secretary Sean Spicer to brief him on what they were uncovering.

Posted by orrinj at 11:08 AM


Solid earnings drive stock indexes higher (Associated Press, 8/01/17)

More solid earnings reports from U.S. companies are sending stocks higher in early trading on Wall Street.

Banks, technology companies and retailers were among the early winners Tuesday.

Posted by orrinj at 7:39 AM

NICELY PLAYED (profanity alert):

The Scaramucci Show (TONY LEE, 27 Jul 2017, Breitbart)

Move over President Donald Trump. You are yesterday's news. It seems like this is now The Anthony Scaramucci Show. And Trump better get used to it.

They certainly knew how to get Little Finger to fire him.

Posted by orrinj at 7:34 AM


Why people prefer unequal societies (Christina Starmans, Mark Sheskin & Paul Bloom, 4/07/17, Nature Human Behaviour)

[W]hen people are asked about the ideal distribution of wealth in their country, they actually prefer unequal societies. We suggest that these two phenomena can be reconciled by noticing that, despite appearances to the contrary, there is no evidence that people are bothered by economic inequality itself. Rather, they are bothered by something that is often confounded with inequality: economic unfairness. Drawing upon laboratory studies, cross-cultural research, and experiments with babies and young children, we argue that humans naturally favour fair distributions, not equal ones, and that when fairness and equality clash, people prefer fair inequality over unfair equality. 

Which is why a universal basic minimum will work.
Posted by orrinj at 7:29 AM


Senate Democrats offer Republicans help on tax reform - with conditions (David Morgan 8/01/17, Reuters) 

U.S. Senate Democrats offered to work with Republicans on a bipartisan tax reform package on Tuesday but only if it does not cut taxes for the wealthy, add to the federal deficit or allow Republicans to enact legislation on their own.

The conditional offer may not attract immediate response from Republicans. But it adds to growing signs of interest in bipartisan cooperation since the collapse of Republican healthcare legislation in the Senate last week.

Posted by orrinj at 6:41 AM


EXCLUSIVE: Kelly called Comey to express anger over firing, sources say (Shimon Prokupecz and Pamela Brown, July 31, 2017, CNN)

New White House chief of staff John Kelly was so upset with how President Donald Trump handled the firing of FBI Director James Comey that Kelly called Comey afterward and said he was considering resigning, according to two sources familiar with a conversation between Kelly and Comey. [...]

"John was angry and hurt by what he saw and the way (Comey) was treated," one of the sources said.

Comey learned of his dismissal on May 9 from televisions tuned to the news as he was addressing the workforce at the FBI office in Los Angeles, law enforcement sources said at the time. Comey made a joke about it to lighten the mood and called his office to get confirmation.

Comey, who took Kelly's call while traveling back from Los Angeles to Washington, responded to Kelly by telling him not to resign, one of the sources said.

The sources said Comey and Kelly are not close friends but that they had a professional relationship and a deep mutual respect for each other.

All we really need to know about the man is that not only did he not resign, he's become Donald's factotum.

Posted by orrinj at 5:22 AM


Ron Swanson's Lesson in Property Rights (Joy Buchanan, July 31, 2017, FEE)

When a local school takes a field trip to city hall on an episode of the show Parks & Recreation, Ron Swanson, a freedom-loving curmudgeon who works for the local government, meets a 9-year-old girl named Lauren. He is uninterested in engaging with her, until he learns that she's writing an essay on why government matters.

Wanting to help her, Ron begins with a lesson in property.

"This is your lunch," Ron says to Lauren as he empties her lunchbox onto the table. "Now, you should be able to do whatever you want to with this, right?" Lauren nods.

"... But here I come, the government," Ron says, picking up her sandwich and chomping into it. "And I get to take 40% of your lunch," he says as he shoves a handful of her chips into his mouth and washes it all down with a slurp from her juice box.

"And that, Lauren, is how taxes work," Ron concludes. "That's not fair!" Lauren protests.

The hilarious scene ends when Ron gives the girl a landmine as a parting gift to protect her property.