Monday July 30

√ What so-and-so said on TV is usually spin, not news. We’re on the lookout for news that matters to American culture. Let’s see now … 

Walmart’s cheapskate plan to con workers into after-hours deliveries fails — as you knew it would
Reuters via Yahoo Finance
— In New Jersey, Walmart started the program with the idea that store employees could courier all items that would fit in a car. But the initiative failed to gain traction with skeptical employees who had to use their time after work, according to sixteen workers who participated in the trial.

All town’s cops suspended (but not all guilty) in moonlighting scandal
— All police operations in Southport have been suspended and the entire force placed on paid administrative leave after the city’s police chief and a lieutenant were arrested Thursday and charged with double-dipping at a second job while on the clock at the police department.

Gary Smith (left) and Michael Simmons

Immigrant youth shelters (aka prisons): A paradise for predators
— Just five days after he reached the United States, the 15-year-old Honduran boy awoke in his Tucson, Arizona, immigrant shelter one morning in 2015 to find a worker in his room, tickling his chest and stomach.
— When he asked the man, who was 46, what he was doing, the man left. But he returned two more times, rubbing the teen’s penis through his clothing and then trying to reach under his boxers. “I know what you want, I can give you anything you need,” said the worker, who was later convicted of molestation.

“Quiet Skies” program spies on US travelers
— Thousands of unsuspecting Americans have been the target of surveillance in the airport and aboard flights by small teams of air marshals. They look for such behaviors as being abnormally aware of surroundings;  excessive fidgeting, excessive perspiration, rapid eye blinking, rubbing or wringing of hands; with an appearance that was different than information provided; or if the person slept during the flight.
— The TSA says: “The program absolutely isn’t intended to surveil ordinary Americans. Instead, its purpose is to ensure passengers and flight crew are protected during air travel — no different than putting a police officer on a beat… ”

Why your doctor is probably sick of practicing medicine
Stat [Opinion]
— In an increasingly business-oriented and profit-driven health care environment, physicians must consider a multitude of factors other than their patients’ best interests when deciding on treatment. Financial considerations — of hospitals, health care systems, insurers, patients, and sometimes of the physician himself or herself — lead to conflicts of interest. Electronic health records, which distract from patient encounters and fragment care but which are extraordinarily effective at tracking productivity and other business metrics, overwhelm busy physicians with tasks unrelated to providing outstanding face-to-face interactions. The constant specter of litigation drives physicians to over-test, over-read, and over-react to results — at times actively harming patients to avoid lawsuits.

All that whining about a trucker shortage comes down to this: their pay has fallen dramatically
Business Insider
— Drivers’ salaries are seeing “unprecedented” jumps, Gordon Klemp, principal of the National Transportation Institute, said. But analysts say the increases aren’t enough to make up for the drop in drivers’ real wages since the 1970s and ’80s. Truckers’ hourly pay, when adjusted for inflation, has dropped by as much as 35% in some places.

A $100-Billion train: Or maybe not
NY Times
— Work began two weeks ago on one of the more ambitious pieces of the project — an overpass that will carry trains over a major highway in Fresno — and ground will be broken on three more viaducts in the next few months. Nearly 2,000 workers are on the job, starting as early as 5 a.m. to avoid the 110-degree afternoon heat. “Simply put, dirt is flying in the Central Valley,” the High-Speed Rail Authority declared in a recent business plan.
— Yet for all the cranes, crews in orange vests, beeping trucks and fresh concrete, it remains far from certain that this project will ever be completed. In addition to the lack of funding, it faces opposition from both so-called Trump and Kevin McCarthy, the Bakersfield Republican who is the House majority leader.
>>> A 2-hour, 40-minute trip from LA to SF … or maybe not
LA Times
bullet train2

Happy fat cats cashing in after tax cut
— Since the tax cuts were enacted, Oracle Corp. CEO Safra Catz sold $250 million worth of shares in her company — the largest executive payday this year. Product development head Thomas Kurian sold $85 million. The sales came after the company announced a $12 billion share repurchase.
— Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga sold $44.4 million of stock in May, the largest single cash-out by an executive of the company in at least 10 years, months after the company announced a $4 billion buyback of its own stock.
— Two days after Eastman Chemical announced it would purchase $2 billion of its own stock, CEO Mark Costa sold 55,000 shares for $5.4 million.

Caterpillar, facing $200 million tariff costs, will raise prices
The Hill

U/Virginia hires Trump stooge, so two top historians quit
The Hill
— Two top historians are resigning from their roles at a public policy center at the University of Virginia citing its hiring of a former aide to so-called Trump for the decision.
— William Hitchcock and Melvyn Leffler made the announcement on Monday in protest of the university’s decision to grant a “senior fellowship” to former Trump legislative affairs director Marc Short.

Banks demand to know whether you’re a citizen
Kansas City Star 

BOA citizen 072718 JAT 028F
Josh Collins and his wife, Jessica Salazar Collins, were notified by Bank of America that Josh, who was born in Wichita, had to prove his citizenship. They thought it was a scam until the bank cut off access to their assets. The Collins family, Joshua Collins (from left), Jessica Salazar Collins, Trinidad Collins and Josh Collins live in Roeland Park. [Jill Toyoshiba]
The (legal) sports betting era begins
— Two Atlantic City casinos owned by Caesars Entertainment will start taking sports bets this week, and another two in Mississippi will do so in mid-August.
— Caesars Entertainment tells The Associated Press its Bally’s casino in Atlantic City will start taking sports bets at 11 a.m. Monday. Its sister casino in Atlantic City, Harrah’s will start taking sports bets on Wednesday.

Duck boat company slapped with $100 million wrongful death suit
USA Today
— “
Duck Boats are death traps for passengers and pose grave danger to the public on water and on land,” the estates of Irvin Coleman, 76, and 2-year-old Maxwell Coleman-Ly said in a suit filed Sunday in the U.S. District Court.
— The lawsuit blames the July 19 tragedy on “decades of unacceptable, greed-driven and willful ignorance of safety by the Duck Boat industry.”

Firefighters win “small victories” in Redding,
but whole swaths of the city are evacuated
Redding Spotlight, update page



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