Just Whose Side Are They On?

The New York City Council is at it this time.

A new bill would require the New York Police Department to disclose and describe all “surveillance technology,” which it defines as “equipment, software, or system capable of, or used or designed for, collecting, retaining, processing, or sharing audio, video, location, thermal, biometric, or similar information.” The cops would have to post this information online annually and respond to public comments.

Naturally, the ACLU thinks this is a good idea, too.

Yeah.  It is a good idea to tell criminals and terrorists just how they’re being identified and might be preempted.  Sure.

The Mueller Investigation

Is Robert Mueller running a legitimate investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign or officials in it and Russia?

Robert Mueller hasn’t decided whether to actually investigate Trump: Report

Special counsel is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, officials say

Mueller Seeks to Talk to Intelligence Officials, Hinting at Inquiry of Trump

Special counsel is investigating Jared Kushner’s business dealings

It isn’t possible for the Mueller investigation to be legitimate with all of these leaks about his investigation and its status and findings that he’s permitting to occur.  Or that, Comey-esque, he’s doing himself.

The Supreme Court is Considering the Limits of Partisan Gerrymandering

The case stems from a Wisconsin state districting case

where a three-judge lower court last year invalidated a redistricting plan enacted by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin legislature in 2011.

That court insisted that, following the 2010 census, the Republican State legislature redrew its legislative districts to favor Republicans and disfavor Democrats.

Election results since then have shown the redistricting had its intended effect, with the GOP winning a larger majority in the state assembly, even as the statewide tally of votes was nearly even between Republicans and Democrats, the lower court said.

The Nub of the Thing

In a Deutsche Welle piece on the likelihood of Emmanuel Macron being able to reform French labor and pension law, is this statement by Julie Hamann, a political scientist with the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin.

The French have high expectations of the state, for it to fulfill its protective function with regard to social welfare.  As soon as reforms are announced that may lead to cuts in social services or labor market insecurity, this very quickly gives rise to very great and very emotional fears.

Another Example

…of the failure of government intervention in “green” energy.  And of the lack of understanding of the problem by the participants.  This four minute video via Deutsche Welle tells the tale.

A group of Spanish farmers, in order to “improve their pensions and to do something for the environment,” banded together to build a solar farm, Spain’s biggest cooperative solar park, an operation of solar cell collectors at roughly €90,000 per module.

The central takeaway:

[T]he modern facility is currently losing money because the conservative government has drastically cut the subsidies for solar power.

Pseudo-Science

I got an email ad over the weekend, inviting me to join the American Association for the Advancement of Science—AAAS, which used to be a respectable organization.  The ad said in part,

Organizations that have propelled us forward—NIH, NOAA, and the EPA, just to name a few—are facing major funding cuts.

Because fraud, waste, and abuse are important only when it’s the other guy’s FWA.  We wouldn’t been involved with any of that.  Not us.

No, even were these organizations sound, their spending can be tightened, and they can absorb budget cuts.  They can do the same amount of work, or more, did they only spend with efficiency rather than profligacy.

It’s About Time, Ollie

In a move met by applause from at least one congressman, the Energy Department announced a pilot program for research into domestic mining of rare earth elements.

Rare earths are minerals critical to computing technologies and to various military and civilian sensor technologies.  China currently dominates the production and market for these elements, with about 85% of the world’s production from its domestic mines.

Another major source for rare earths, not yet exploited, is the South China Sea floor.  Part of the purpose of the PRC’s seizure of the South China Sea and of its island-building and militarization of those constructs is to control access to those rare earths and to reserve them for itself.

Foolish

The Justice Department is clashing with career site Glassdoor Inc over the company’s refusal to identify users who posted anonymous employee reviews of a veterans health-care company under federal investigation.

That’s been fought over in civil courts, but this is a first for a potentially criminal matter.  The Federal government is the one making the demand this time because the Feds want witnesses for a grand jury investigation into Glassdoor.

Whatever the parameters of any possible criminal case involved here, there are some questions that need careful consideration.  Leave aside 1st Amendment questions regarding a right, especially but not necessarily limited to political discourse, to discourse anonymously.

Leaks, Again

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on leaks about ongoing investigations:

Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories any stories attributed to anonymous “officials,” particularly when they do not identify the country—let alone the branch or agency of government—with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated.

Indeed.  And here’s Peter Carr, a Robert Mueller spokesman, assuring us that Mueller’s special counsel operation

has undertaken stringent controls to prohibit unauthorized disclosures that deal severely with any member who engages in this conduct.

Then, I have to ask, why is Mueller still allowing these leaks to occur?  Why hasn’t he hailed his leakers into court, civil or criminal?

This Must Be Rejected

Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló is coming to the mainland to stump for statehood for the territory on the basis of the just completed referendum on matter.  The referendum had only a 23% turnout after heavy boycotting by several other interests; the last referendum had a 78% turnout.  That tiny turnout, though, voted strongly for statehood rather than the status quo or independence, the alternatives on the ballot.

Rosselló’s effort should be strongly rejected.