Thur. May 17

Just because something “goes viral” doesn’t mean it’s news.
So on we go, trying to focus on what matters.

Tillerson: Ethics lapses will lead to America’s “twilight years”
The Independent
rex2— “If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom”.
— The former Secretary of State also warned that if Americans fail to address the ethics crisis now, it could mean “American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years.”

Jesus, does it ever end? Price fixing canned tuna now?
AP via Yahoo
— U.S. prosecutors filed a criminal charge Wednesday against the CEO of Bumble Bee Foods as part of an ongoing investigation into price fixing in the packaged seafood industry.
— A grand jury in San Francisco indicted Christopher Lischewski on one count of price fixing, alleging that from November 2010 to December 2013 he conspired with others in the industry to eliminate competition by setting prices for canned tuna.

US has spent insane $2,800 Billion fighting terrorism
Wall Street Journal
— The report from the Washington-based Stimson Center think tank said the figure included spending on the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, in addition to homeland-security efforts and overseas programs. Spending on counterterrorism reached a peak of $260 billion in 2008, accounting for more than a fifth of the government’s discretionary budget.
— The report said the U.S. lacked a system for accounting for spending on counterterrorism and that loopholes have increasingly allowed billions to be spent on items that shouldn’t qualify for emergency funding.
(The cost works out to about $35,000 per family of four.)

Did you sneer during a pat-down?
— Are you on the TSA’s secret watch list?
NY Times
— The Transportation Security Administration has created a new secret watch list to monitor people who may be targeted as potential threats at airport checkpoints simply because they have swatted away security screeners’ hands or otherwise appeared unruly.

“If I’m running late, having a bad day and I’m rude to the screeners, do I get put on the list?”
— Fred Burton, chief security officer at Stratfor, a global intelligence company in Austin, Tex.

Michigan State to pay $500M to Nassar’s victims
The burden will fall mostly on taxpayers. Meanwhile, the folks who enabled and ignored all this will happily collect their pensions and move to Florida.
— Michigan State University has agreed in principle to pay $500 million to settle claims by hundreds of women and girls who say disgraced former sports doctor Larry Nassar abused them.
— The school will pay $425 million to those 332 current claimants, with $75 million set aside in a trust fund for any future claimants who allege sexual abuse by Nassar.
— MSU president Lou Anna Simon resigned in disgrace but …
Detroit Free Press
— She can choose to return to the faculty, at which point she will get a 12-month research leave at her current salary of $750,000. She then gets her current salary for the next year and 75% of her salary for the next two years. She also gets office space and secretarial support. She also gets the title of “president emeritus.”

Speaking of absurd pensions:
Florida cop who hid from school shooter gets $100K yearly pension
— A Florida sheriff’s deputy who failed to confront a gunman during a Feb. 14 school massacre is receiving a monthly state pension of $8,702.35.
— The SunSentinel reports 55-year-old Scot Peterson, who resigned and retired after the shootings, began receiving payments in April.
— Pension payments are based on the 32 years he worked and the average of his five highest-paid fiscal years.

San Fransiscans need to earn $333K a year to afford modest home
SF Gate
— About 15% of households qualify.

Mortgage rates reach 7-year high
Market Watch
… setting up a test of affordability for the housing market.

Don’t sit down in Durango
Fox News
Or you’re under arrest.

Remember the hole in the ozone? It’s back
Emissions of ozone-destroying chemical mysteriously rising
— A new study from NOAA shows an “unexpected and persistent increase” in global emissions of an ozone-depleting chemical even though an international treaty forced production to completely halt by 2010.
— CFCs—including the second most abundant ozone destroyer, CFC-1—were banned under the landmark Montreal Protocol of 1987, and since then parts of the ozone layer have been slowly recovering.
— NOAA scientists suggest that emissions are most likely from new, unreported production from an unidentified source in eastern Asia.
Gee, you mean the Chinese might be a bit lax on environmental enforcement?

Bitcoin is sucking up so much energy it may not be profitable
— The bitcoin network could use 0.5 percent of the world’s energy consumption by the end of this year, and it could soon cost so much to mine the cryptocurrency that it stops being profitable.
— These figures come from a new commentary published in the journal Joule.

12 years in prison for shoplifting? Wal-Mart’s influence on the law
The Guardian
— The case of a man facing 12 years in prison for shoplifting shows a growing trend in America: corporations successfully pushing state prosecutors to increase shoplifting charges to felonies.

On immigrants:
“You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals.”

— Donald J. Trump, whom the Electoral College anointed as President of the United States.






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