February 3, 2021

Posted by orrinj at 5:44 PM

IT'S A 60/40 NATION:

Posted by orrinj at 2:31 PM


Posted by orrinj at 1:41 PM


GOP lawmakers seek to remove Omar from committees as Dems press to drop Taylor Greene from panel (Thomas Barrabi, 2/03/21, Fox News)

The Hill columnist Joe Concha says a Republican lawmaker in a similar situation would receive more coverage from mainstream media outlets.

House GOP lawmakers are seeking this week to oust Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota from her committee assignments as Democrats push for similar action against embattled Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Fox News has learned.

...so too are the Democrats defined by a female black refugee. 

Posted by orrinj at 1:25 PM


Police Violence and COVID Spurred 30% Spike in U.S. Homicides in 2020 (NICOLE FALLERT, 2/3/21, Newsweek)

The authors compared their findings with increases in violence following the August 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Homicides in large cities rose by nearly 22 percent from 2015 to 2016, and analysts attributed the increase to what is called a "Ferguson Effect."

The two-part "Ferguson Effect" provides a potential explanation for the increase in homicides last year. First is "de-policing," or law enforcement stepping back in "fear they will be unfairly scrutinized" and potentially lose their jobs. The effect's second part maintains "de-legitimizing," or that "breached trust" and lack of confidence urged communities to pull back from relying on the police. The latter makes criminal investigations and resolutions more difficult, according to the study.

"There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time."

Posted by orrinj at 1:21 PM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


PDF: THE FACE OF AMERICAN INSURRECTION:  Right-Wing Organizations Evolving into a Violent Mass Movement (DR. ROBERT A. PAPE (PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR)

Wealthy old white men.  

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


GameStop Isn't a Popular UprisingAn exclusive look at the data indicates that big players are driving the price, not the little guy trading "stonks." (Robert J. Shapiro, February 3, 2021, Washington Monthly)

The nearly five-fold jump in GameStop's average trading volume from July to December signaled that large institutional investors were buying the stock. SEC filings show that they bought 40.8 million shares in 2020 and another 18.2 million shares in January of this year. These are banks, insurance companies, hedge funds, and mutual funds that manage large holdings on behalf of sovereign wealth funds, "high net worth" individuals, pension plans, 401(k) plans, and endowments.

There are hundreds of institutional investors, but 38 major ones each manage financial assets of more than $500 billion, totaling $37.8 trillion in assets among them. They trade stocks in blocks of 10,000 shares, and their trades accounted for an estimated 90 percent of all daily U.S. trading activity in 2019. By some accounts, their sway has ebbed to 75 percent of all trading since the pandemic began. Still, either way, decisions by some 20 or 30 investment committees of the biggest players typically determine whether most stocks rise or fall on a given day.

Their dominance is the rule because money talks in stock markets. By these measures, "retail" investors -- the rest of us -- are just along for the ride. On occasion, small investors move as a herd into or out of a particular stock, purportedly the current story of the Reddit crew and GameStop. The truth is, in most cases, the herd follows a big price increase or decline from the big players buying or selling large blocks of shares.

Based on the data, that is what happened when GameStop's share price and trading volume took off. Big players were driving the price up (and sometimes down), not the rascally Reddit crowd. On January 13, the stock's trading volume ballooned to 145 million shares, and its price jumped from $19.95 to $31.00. In one day, the total shares held by all investors (46.9 million) turned over more than three times - and that was only an overture. By Friday, January 22, GameStop's share price reached $56.04 on volume of 197 million shares, and the following Monday, it jumped to $76.79 per-share on trading of 178 million shares. Over the rest of last week (January 26-January 29), GameStop's share prices gyrated from $148 to $347 to $194 to $325 on average trading volume of 126 million shares per day.

Unless most of the Reddit bunch have assets in the top one-tenth of one percent of Americans, they were mere bystanders to last week's trading of 682 million shares at an average price of $218.20 - purchases totaling nearly $150 billion in a wildly volatile market. Only institutional investors have such resources to trade stocks, not self-styled populists with Robinhood on their iPhones. Since most big players are regulated public corporations with fiduciary responsibilities to avoid the enormous risks involved in this high-stakes game of chicken, the GameStop players almost certainly are all lightly regulated hedge funds.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Why countries with 'loose', rule-breaking cultures have been hit harder by Covid (Michele Gelfand, Feb. 1st, 2021, The Guardian)

It turns out Covid's deadliness depends on something simpler and more profound: cultural differences in our willingness to follow rules.

All cultures have social norms, or unwritten rules for social behaviour. We adhere to standards of dress, discipline our kids, and don't elbow our way through crowded subways not because these are legislative codes but because they help our society function. Psychologists have shown that some cultures abide by social norms quite strictly; they're tight. Others are loose - with a more relaxed attitude toward rule-breakers.

This distinction, first noticed by Herodotus, is in modern times capable of being quantified by psychologists and anthropologists. Relative to the US, the UK, Israel, Spain and Italy, countries like Singapore, Japan, China and Austria have been shown to be much tighter. These differences aren't random. Research in both nation-states and small-scale societies has shown that communities with histories of chronic threat - whether natural disasters, infectious diseases, famines or invasions - develop stricter rules that ensure order and cohesion. It makes good evolutionary sense: following rules helps us survive chaos and crisis. On the flipside, looser groups that have faced fewer threats can afford to be more permissive.

Neither type is better or worse - until a global pandemic hits. Back in March, I started to worry that loose cultures, with their rule-breaking spirit, would take longer to abide by public health measures, with potentially tragic consequences. I was hopeful that they would eventually tighten. All of our computer models prior to Covid suggested they would.

But they didn't. In research that tracked more than 50 countries, published this week in the Lancet Planetary Health, my team and I show that, taking into account other factors, loose cultures had five times the number of cases that tight cultures did, and more than eight times as many deaths.

Of course, the flip-side is that the tight nations can never really be our economic peers because they aren't innovative. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Growing pains: Biden slowed by early stumbles in first two weeks (Naomi Lim, February 02, 2021, Washington Examiner)

Biden hosted a Monday evening Oval Office meeting with Senate Republicans, for example, after complaints he hadn't adequately consulted them and their colleagues regarding a coronavirus relief package. That's despite Biden repeatedly saying that he would prefer to broker a bipartisan deal rather than resorting to a budgetary procedure called reconciliation to ram his $1.9 trillion "American Rescue Plan" through the Senate with only Democratic support.

Political analyst Dan Schnur, a Republican-turned-independent now at the University of Southern California, said Biden should be more concerned about challenges from his own party than across the political aisle.

"Biden wants to be a bipartisan president, but he doesn't seem to want to push back at congressional Democrats," Schnur told the Washington Examiner. "There might still be a sweet spot that allows him to do both of those things. But right now, he might be the only one in Washington who can see it."

Reconciliation requires a simple majority instead of a 60-vote, filibuster-proof margin in the Senate. But rather than trying to earn Republican support, the administration seems nervous that it won't even be able to muster all 48 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them behind the package after what was widely regarded as a ham-handed attempt to pressure centrist Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

There was never a realistic chance he'd be good at this, but making exactly the same mistakes as the UR is pretty bad.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Hanover votes to join municipal energy coalition to cut electricity costs; Lebanon may follow suit (Tim Camerato, Feb. 2nd, 2021, Valley News)

By offering up thousands of customers, he said, the coalition could attract offers from electric suppliers at competitive rates. Towns also would get to decide where the energy comes from, allowing them to set and meet greater sustainability goals, added Kreis, a state official who represents the interests of residential ratepayers before the Public Utilities Commission.

"That would make them a formidable presence in the wholesale market," he said.

Lebanon Assistant Mayor Clifton Below said the coalition is based on similar groups in Massachusetts, Vermont and California that allow municipalities to procure electricity for residents and businesses through the open market.

Below, a former public utilities commissioner, worked over the last 18 months with consultants and officials from neighboring towns to get the coalition started, following on the heels of a 2019 state law that opened the door to municipal aggregation.

Community power, he said, could lead to several cost-saving initiatives. For instance, the city could choose to buy from a supplier offering lower prices, or it could implement newer, more dynamic ways of calculating bills, such as "real time" pricing that would offer lower rates for running a dishwasher overnight, when the demand for power is less.

Below also said the program could offer options for people to get a larger share of their energy through renewable sources, such as solar and wind.

"To keep customers around, we want to create options where people can see savings compared to utility default service," he said.