“This is the most dangerous idea in American politics that most people know nothing about.”
— Karen Hobert Flynn, president, Common Cause
Beyond the elections, some groups pushing to change the Constitution via a convention of states.
…. the next chapter of decades of work on the far right transforming the federal judiciary and supporting cases that go on to make broad constitutional points, all while suppressing votes and gerrymandering districts.
…. There are proponents of an Article V convention on the left who see it as a possible way to overturn the Citizens United campaign finance decision, pass the Equal Rights Amendment and otherwise address what they see as a stacked deck that has helped the GOP get an unfair advantage. But with more red states than blue ones, it seems an unlikely path to abolishing the Electoral College, reengineering apportionment of the Senate or otherwise devising a democracy they believe is more reflective of the American public’s views.
… It’s baffling to some observers that conservatives are the ones pushing a convention.
— “I don’t know what exactly they’re unhappy with. When I look at the current politics, it seems to me things for them are going really well,” said constitutional law professor Michael Klarman of Harvard University. “They’re already getting what they want from the Supreme Court. Gerrymandering is fine. Unlimited money in politics is fine. The Electoral College is OK. Voter purges, photo ID laws are OK. So I don’t know exactly what they’re looking for.”
Author of “Ph Miracle” books ordered to pay cancer patient $105 million
San Diego Union Tribune
… jury sided against the author of the bestselling pH Miracle books this week, ordering him to pay $105 million to a cancer patient who said the author held himself out as a doctor and counseled her to forego traditional medical treatment.
— The large award — more than double what the woman had sought — comes roughly 16 months after a criminal case ended with the author, Robert Oldham Young, going to jail for a few months for practicing medicine without a license.
— Young’s work — and treatments provided at his Valley Center ranch — were based on the theory that acidity in the body is the cause of disease, and that an alkaline diet is the answer.
… … During the criminal trial, Deputy District Attorney Gina Darvas painted Young as a charlatan who made money peddling pseudoscience to desperate, dying people.
— She argued that Young’s degrees came from a nonaccredited “diploma mill” where Young went from a bachelor’s degree to a doctorate in about eight months in 1995.
— The criminal case highlighted his controversial theories and the pricey treatments he offered to seriously ill or dying patients, who in some cases were given intravenous fluids mixed with baking soda at $500 a pop.
Why the future of Social Security, Medicare is on Tuesday’s ballot
The Hill (Analysis)
— Sen. Mitch McConnell is trying to use the exploding deficit as an excuse to drastically change these lifelines – programs that families pay into their entire lives – because of his own party’s irresponsible financial decisions.
— Republicans got us into this mess when they handed out more than $1 trillion in special tax breaks to billionaires and big corporations.
— At the time, they claimed that the tax cuts would pay for themselves. Now that they’re faced with the consequences – a ballooning deficit – they want to pay for it out of Americans’ health care and retirement security.
Thunderstorm causes fatal Amazon building collapse
The Well-Armed Militia strikes again
3 dead, including shooter, in Florida yoga studio rampage
Supreme Court steps back from kids climate change lawsuit
— The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday rejected for now a bid by the President Donald Trump’s administration to block a trial in a lawsuit filed by young activists who have accused the U.S. government of ignoring the perils of climate change.
— The loss for the administration means it now faces a high-profile examination of U.S. climate change policy during the trial that was due to begin on Oct. 29 in Eugene, Oregon but has since been postponed by the judge.
— Chief Justice John Roberts on Oct. 19 had temporarily put the case on hold while the court as a whole decided how to proceed.
— The Supreme Court’s three-page order noted that the administration may still have grounds to take its arguments to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
>>> Kavanaugh afraid to take traditional Supreme Court inaugural walk
In attempt to save Great Barrier Reef, robot sprays it with coral larvae
— “We aim to have two or three robots ready for the November spawn. One will carry about 200,000 larvae and the other about 1.2 million,” Matthew Dunbabin, a professor of science and engineering at Australia’s Queensland University of Technology, said.
As seen on Breaking Bad?
Khashoggi’s body dissolved in acid?
— A top Turkish official, presidential adviser Yasin Aktay, has said he believes Jamal Khashoggi’s body was dissolved in acid after being cut up.
— The “only logical conclusion”, he said, was that those who had killed the Saudi journalist in Istanbul had destroyed his body “to leave no trace behind”.
— Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi rulers, was killed inside the country’s consulate on 2 October.
–No forensic evidence has been provided to prove his body was dissolved.
TSA gives green light to test new technology that can screen passengers from 25 feet away
— The Transportation Security Administration has given the go-ahead to test technology that is designed to screen multiple airport passengers at the same time from a distance of up to 25 feet away.
— The technology, described as “passive terahertz” screening, is one of several advances that the TSA and airlines hope will help U.S. airports handle the growing demand for air travel that is already creating bottlenecks and frustration at airports across the country.
— The TSA has purchased several terahertz screening devices from Britain-based Thruvision to test in a TSA facility near Arlington, Va. If the devices pass the initial tests, they may be used on a trial basis at U.S. airports, said Kevin Gramer, vice president of Thruvision Americas.
— The screening device, which is about the size of an old-fashioned PC computer tower and weighs about 50 pounds, reads the outline of people to reveal firearms and explosives hidden under their clothes.
Pentagon giving White House the finger on border troops order
… the Department of Defense felt that active duty troops do not have the authority to conduct that type of mission unless they are granted additional authorities by the President.
… Defense officials have repeatedly emphasized the troops at the border are there to support civil authorities and that they are not expected to come into any contact with migrants.
So-called EPA backs use of nasty weedkiller
— For months, farmers from Mississippi to Minnesota have been waiting for the Environmental Protection Agency to make up its mind about a controversial weedkiller called dicamba. Some farmers love the chemical; other farmers, along with some environmentalists, consider it a menace, because it’s prone to drifting in the wind, damaging nearby crops and wild vegetation.
— This week, the EPA finally announced its decision. Calling dicamba “a valuable pest control tool,” it gave farmers a green light to keep spraying the chemical on new varieties of soybeans and cotton that have been genetically modified to tolerate dicamba.
NOTE: Farmers turned to dicamba because glyphosate, (Roundup) their previous favorite weedkiller, isn’t working so well anymore. Important weeds like Palmer amaranth have become immune to it.
(Anyone who knows biology must realize that the use of this shit not only poisons soil and water, but it actually makes weeds stronger.)
Strong rise in US payrolls
Slightly heavier than a toothpick, the first wireless insect-size robot takes flight
— … RoboFly, a robo-insect powered by an invisible laser beam that is pointed at a photovoltaic cell, which is attached above the robot and converts the laser light into enough electricity to operate its wings.
On hold for 45 minutes? It might be your secret customer score
Wall Street Journal (paywall, so we provide some here)
— Two people call customer service at the same time to complain about the same thing. One waits a few seconds before a representative gets on the line. The other stays on hold. Why the difference?
–There’s a good chance it has something to do with a rating known as a customer lifetime value, or CLV. That secret number is used by all manner of companies to measure the potential financial value of their customers.
— Your score can determine the prices you pay, the products and ads you see and the perks you receive.
— Credit-card companies use the scoring systems to decide what to offer customers who want to cancel their cards. Wireless carriers route high-value callers immediately to their most skilled agents. At some airlines, a high score increases the odds of a seat upgrade.
— “There’s no free lunch,” says Sunil Gupta, a marketing professor at Harvard Business School who has researched models for calculating lifetime value. “The more profitable you are, the better service you will get.”
— These days, companies are resorting to all sorts of data and scores to size up consumers and predict their behavior. Retailers use risk scores to try to limit merchandise returns and prevent e-commerce fraud. There are scores to measure the likelihood a person will become sick, cancel a subscription or bad-mouth a company.
— Everyone with a bank account, cellphone or online shopping habit has at least one CLV score, more likely several. And most people have no inkling they even exist, let alone how they are used, what goes into them or how accurate they are. Unlike credit scores, CLVs aren’t available to consumers and aren’t monitored by any government agency.
— “There needs to be a public conversation around the accuracy of the scores being used,” says Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum, a nonprofit digital-privacy research group. “You can essentially be accused of being cheap or a fraudster, and it may not even be true.”
— To determine how the scores are compiled and how they are used, The Wall Street Journal interviewed data scientists who develop the models and employees of the software and analytics firms that help companies put them to use.
— Most CLV score users contacted for this article declined to comment on how they score customers, citing competitive reasons. Many say the scores make them more comfortable offering costly services and products in the short term because they are confident they will pick up more business in the long term. Some say they aim to increase each customer’s lifetime value by encouraging repeat business.
— In some respects, the scores are just a high-tech version of what shopkeepers have done for generations—make judgments on a customer’s value based on how they look or behave. As far back as 20 years ago, academics were publishing models to calculate the future value of customers.
— Now there are hundreds of analytics firms that calculate customer lifetime value, each with its own approach. Some of them put a value on shoppers based simply on what they spend, while others use hundreds of data inputs, adding and deducting points for demographic information such as ZIP Codes or behavioral details such as the number of returns they make or when they shop.
— “Not all customers deserve a company’s best efforts,” says Peter Fader, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who helped popularize lifetime value scores. His scoring method is based on transaction history, which he says is all companies need to determine how customers will behave in the future. This year, he sold the firm he co-founded, Zodiac Inc., which performs such analysis, to Nike Inc.