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Lucre, Lies and Losers

In this edition: (1). Conflict in the Caucasus; (2). Protests over lack of charges in Breonna Taylor killing; (3). Bannon lies; (4). U.S. Census not to end at the end of the month; (5). Chinese persecution of the Uighurs reaches into Pakistan; (6). charts on student debt; (7). Bezos opens a school, and more.


Question: “What are you reading today?”. Answer: a lot. International conflict, financial and corporate corruption, politics and the courts, etc. Just another week, though it has been rich in news.

Amy Barrett, who was anticipated by the pundit class, was announced as Trump’s nomination to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who inauspiciously died of cancer earlier this month. Erika Bachiochi, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and senior fellow at the Abigail Adams Institute, wrote to say Barrett is a “new feminist icon” in POLITICO. Bachiochi argued that Barrett marks a direction in feminism which emphasizes male responsibility in child-rearing rather than reproductive control “sloganeering”. Points for originality, I guess. Of course, one need not take aim at Roe v. Wade to do that, which sorta makes a mess of Bachiochi’s point, no?

The U.S. Justice Department let slip that it is preparing to file an antitrust claim against Google, relating to its vice-grip on internet searches and possibly also it advertising practices. Google also said, perhaps related, that it would block political ads in the weeks following the November election.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, currently the minority whip, has hinted that “abolishing” filibusters may be in the cards, according to Vox. California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a “plastics recycling law” that will mandate that the plastic in bottles be at least 50% recycled.

Those were the big ticket items. Here are some other stories, some of which you may have missed:

  • Territorial conflict in the Caucasus: Armenia and Azerbaijan clashed over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory. Sitting within the borders of Azerbaijan, the region has a high population of ethnic Armenians. Military and civilian deaths are being reported by NPR. Armenia has imposed martial law.

  • Open Wounds: Protests have continued in America since protestors learned the Kentucky Grand Jury decided to charge only one cop for Breonna Taylor’s killing.

  • Filthy Lucre: FinCen files. Matt Taibbi breaks down the FinCen leak in a piece, “Revenge of the Money Launderers” on his site. Upshot: the tagline sums it up rather tersely, “getting caught doesn't stop banks from taking dirty money. It may even encourage them.” But read the piece and make up your own mind.

  • Lies and losers: A little more than a week ago, Steve Bannon gave his first interview since his arrest to Tucker Carlson, who lovingly got on his knees to help Bannon spew bullshit. During the interview, Bannon claims his arrest was a form of persecution in an attempt to weaken the Trump election. Bannon, of course, has not been particularly visible in his involvement with the Trump campaign this election and his indictment was for fraudulently bilking Trump supporters out of millions of dollars. If the Trump sheep were angered by the drooling wolf Bannon, they have yet to voice that. The extremity of partisan sorting has left them open to fleecing.

  • Keep Countin’: A federal judge says the Census must continue, extending it at least another month. The 2020 U.S. Census, mandated by the Constitution, has unintentionally become wrapped up in larger questions of electoral politics in the country. Demographics will always be a political question in representative systems. The U.S. demographics are shifting, and conservatives expect this to work against them. Expect the immigration debates from the last decade to grow stronger.

  • Persecution and oppression: An LA Times article unspools how Chinese persecution of the Uighurs has moved across the border into Pakistan. A timely reminder that human rights abuses don’t respect borders, even if humanitarians often do. It trudges through the misery of a Pakistani father, Sakandar Hayat.

  • Student debt in America: Students in America have racked up loan debts of $1.6 trillion, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve. And the debt is rising like a helium-filled balloon, having increased nearly 75% over the last decade, comments a recent Phenomenal World piece. That piece offers daunting graphics showing the vertiginous summit of student debt in this country. Debt shackles students, keeping them in serf-like obeisance to financial institutions at a time when the country needs to encourage risk-taking and novel solutions to existential problems.

  • Sixteen Tons: Jeff Bezos will open a “nonprofit” Montessori preschool in Washington state next month. Corporate towns, anyone? A society that off-loads questions of public concern to for profit businesses is one that has failed to uphold the public interest. Any serious anti-monopoly program that targets Google and skillfully avoids Amazon seems suspect.

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