July 9, 2021

Posted by orrinj at 8:44 AM


Feds agree to pay $6.1M to create database for Capitol riot prosecutions (JOSH GERSTEIN and KYLE CHENEY, 07/09/2021, Politico)

The Justice Department has agreed to pay $6.1 million to a technology contractor to create a massive database of videos, photographs, documents and social media posts related to the Capitol riot as part of the process of turning relevant evidence over to defense attorneys for the more than 500 people facing criminal charges in the Jan. 6 events, according to a court filing and government records.

To take on the daunting task, the federal government has turned to Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, a firm prosecutors called "a litigation support vendor with extensive experience providing complex litigation technology services."

Prosecutors are trying to organize thousands of hours of body-worn camera footage, closed-circuit surveillance camera footage, more than a million social media videos, data from phones and email accounts, and the responses to more than 6,000 grand jury subpoenas, according to a court filing Thursday.

"Following the Capitol Breach, the United States recognized that due to the nature and volume of materials being collected, the government would require the use of an outside contractor who could provide litigation technology support services to include highly technical and specialized data and document processing and review capabilities," Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nadia Moore and William Dreher wrote in their submission.

"The government is working to provide an unprecedented amount of materials in the most comprehensive and usable format to defense counsel," Moore and Dreher said.

Then Open Source it. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:56 AM


Posted by orrinj at 7:42 AM


This American Strategy Didn't Work On the Soviet Union and It Won't Work On China Either: The lesson is don't overestimate your opponent. (Michael Peck, 7/09/21, National Interest)

 If it turns out that China's naval power has been overblown, and American defense dollars were better spent elsewhere--perhaps on aircraft, or drones, or cyberwarfare--then the Chinese navy will have won a victory even before the first shot is fired.

Back in the 1980s, a war with the Soviet Union seemed like a naval nightmare.

Fiction writers like Tom Clancy and John Hackett painted a future where Western navies faced hordes of Red bombers, cruise missiles, submarines and surface warships. Naturally, in these novels the Good Guys won, but only at tremendous cost.

In hindsight, some of this looks silly. We know now--and some suspected back then--that the Soviet Navy was undercut by major deficiencies in technology and training. It was no paper tiger, but neither was it some aquatic beast that would have devoured Western fleets.

A bear and a dragon walk into a bar....

Posted by orrinj at 7:38 AM


U.S. set to add more Chinese companies to blacklist over Xinjiang (Humeyra Pamuk & David Shepardson, 7/09/21,  Reuters) 

The Biden administration is set as early as Friday to add more than 10 Chinese companies to its economic blacklist over alleged human rights abuses and high-tech surveillance in Xinjiang, two sources told Reuters.

The U.S. Commerce Department action will follow its announcement last month adding five other companies and other Chinese entities to the blacklist over allegations of forced labor in the far western region of China.

The additions to Commerce Department's Entity List are part of the Biden administration's efforts to hold China accountable for human rights violations, the sources said.

He had such a good deal when a U.S. president was endorsing Uighur concentration camps and putting down Hong Kong "riots".  But he didn't understand the Deep State.

Posted by orrinj at 7:36 AM


Virginia Republicans demand investigation into mean tweets by Prof. Larry Sabato (Bob Brigham, July 08, 2021, Raw Story)

Republicans in Virginia are demanding that University of Virginia President James E. Ryan open an investigation into tweets by Center for Politics founder Dr. Larry Sabato.

"A reasonable taxpaying citizen can readily conclude that Dr. Sabato is demonstrating the rankest form of bitter partisanship," Virginia GOP Chair Rich Anderson wrote in a letter printed on Republican Party of Virginia letterhead.

All comedy is conservative, which is why the Right can't endure it. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:35 AM


Wind turbine blades to get second life as long duration energy storage (Sophie Vorrath, 9 July 2021, Renew Economy)

A joint venture between Italian renewables giant Enel Green Power and Swiss tech group Energy Vault is seeking to use recycled wind turbine blades as a key ingredient for an innovative, long-duration energy storage system.

In a statement this week, Enel Green Power says the two companies aim to integrate gravity energy storage technology with the recycling of end-of life wind farm materials, "applying a circular economy across the entire wind power value chain."

Posted by orrinj at 7:05 AM


We Have Become "Comfortably Numb" (Henry T. Edmondson iii, 7/08/21, Law & Liberty)

Several other Floyd songs are helpful in dissecting this troubling condition. One element of the diagnosis is the loss of yearning. David Gilmour's composition, "Learning to Fly," (1987) employs the metaphor of flying to describe a longing for something more than the everyday:

A soul in tension that's learning to fly
Condition grounded but determined to try
Can't keep my eyes from the circling skies
Tongue-tied and twisted, just an earth-bound misfit, I

Though the dream seems out of reach, hope, fueled by an "attraction" with an "irresistible grasp," is not extinguished:

Across the clouds I see my shadow fly
Out of the corner of my watering eye
A dream unthreatened by the morning light
Could blow this soul right through the roof of the night

Yet again, in the closing song to Pink Floyd's fourteenth album, the wistful "High Hopes" (1994), admits to being "encumbered forever by desire and ambition / There's a hunger still unsatisfied."

Another element of the numbed state is a kind of thoughtlessness that means the shallow soul ignores his mortality. Too many, in public and private life, seem to live as if they had no soul. "Time" (1973), addresses the tragedy of a life unlived, precisely because its end was never contemplated. Think of it as a "memento mori" with a beat.

At a late juncture in life, the individual realizes the decades have passed, but he has lacked the ambition necessary for a meaningful life."

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

But at that point, it seems too late as "every year is getting shorter" until "the time is gone, the song is over" even though the individual "thought I'd something more to say." The imagery is striking:

And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

The collective politics of the band were decidedly left-of-center, especially those of Roger Waters, who could be arrogant and obnoxious, especially to his bandmates. Pink Floyd's acclaimed album "Animals" (1977) repurposes George Orwell's Animal Farm so that the oppressors include the commercial class as well as the political. But the band's insight into the human condition has appeal across the political spectrum. Their diagnosis of our present state is remarkable, and when that acumen is expressed through their art, it is arresting.

Aristotle, in his Ethics, develops the idea of the cardinal virtues. In Aristotle's scheme, for every virtue, there are two vices: one vice is too much of the virtue; the other two little. One of those virtues is temperance or moderation. It is flanked by two vices, indulgence on the excessive side and insensibility on the defective side (Nicomachean Ethics, III, 11).While self-indulgence may be easy to recognize, insensibility may not, and that vice may offer a clue to the state of comfortable numbness. Whereas lust and desire may run amok in the vice of excess; in the defective vice of insensibility, the passions that support virtue, including honor, ambition, love, pride and fear, are scarce. Consequently, the insensible life is bland and driftless: comfortably numb. Aristotle warns such a state is barely "human." Curbing the vice of excess seems relatively straightforward, at least compared with awakening someone from the insensible state, precisely because the motivating passions are enervated. Perhaps ruminative artists like Pink Floyd can be of assistance in the quest for a cure.

It's a Puritan nation.

Posted by orrinj at 6:59 AM


Guaranteed Income for the 21st Century: A Proposal with Promise (ED DOLAN, JULY 8, 2021, Niskanen)

In a promising contribution to the debate over poverty policy, the Institute on Race and Political Economy at the New School has released a major welfare reform proposal that it calls a Guaranteed Income for the 21st Century. Details of the proposal (abbreviated GI21 in what follows) are set out in a report written by Naomi Zewde, Kyle Strickland, Kelly Capatosto, Ari Glogower, and Darrick Hamilton. The proposal makes a full-scale assault on America's social protection gap. It includes several features that the Niskanen Center has long championed, such as an emphasis on cash assistance, broad eligibility, and payment in monthly installments with appropriate provisions for the unbanked. Although the proposal is not budget-neutral, its estimated cost of $876 billion per year is considerably less than that of several other proposals for a universal basic income.

All proposed reforms of the social safety net face a set of tradeoffs among the goals of income security, affordability, and work incentives. This commentary will examine how GI21 deals with those tradeoffs, beginning with the areas where it is strongest and then turning to aspects of the plan that could benefit from some further thought.

The first priority of Guaranteed Income for the 21st Century, clearly, is income security. "Our goal here," Zewde et al. write, "cannot be to simply reduce poverty, but instead must be to abolish absolute poverty as we know it." To that end, GI21 calls for a cash grant of $12,500 per year for each adult in a household and $4,500 for each child, payable in monthly installments. For single-parent families, that schedule of payments approximates the 2021 poverty guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services ($12,880 for a single adult with an allowance of $4,540 for each additional family member, whether child or adult). For two-parent households with children, the GI21 schedule comes in well above the official poverty level.

Not surprisingly, the goal of completely eliminating poverty is costly. The CBO projects that the federal government will spend a total of $812 billion on means-tested poverty programs in 2021, of which about two-thirds will go to healthcare programs and one-third to income support. The $876 billion estimated cost of GI21 would more than double that. However, as Zewde et al. point out, the cost of GI21 is modest compared to that of other basic income proposals, such as that of Andrew Yang ($2.8 to $3 billion) or one discussed by The Architecture of a Basic Income Miranda Perry Fleischer and Daniel Hemel ($1.8 billion).

The solution to poverty is wealth.