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Lifted from comments, reader likbez alerts us to this issue:

 

In the meantime happening live in the USA but hardly on this blog…

https://www.popsci.com/story/environment/why-us-lose-power-storms/

US has more power outages than any other !!! developed country. Our grid is outdated and rundown, but utilities aren’t willing to do much about it… oops (Generator-Industries bribes, lol ??!!)

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The UAE-Israel Deal

The UAE-Israel Deal

 Several days ago the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel have agreed to have diplomatic relations, with this being the third Arab nation to officially recognize Israel, following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. President Trump and his supporters are claiming that this is a great breakthrough to world peace, with Jared Kushner supposedly the key player on the American side.  But most observers think that this is an exaggeration, to put it mildly.  The standard summary is that this deal is a win-win-win-lose: a win for the US, UAE, and Israel, but a lose for the Palestinians.

Let me give the Trump people, including even the usually incompetent Jared Kushner, some credit.  They have managed to achieve only a handful of international agreements.  And given the long and difficult relationship between Israel and the Arab nations, it must be recognized that making such an agreement is difficult, so they deserve some congratulations, even if this is far less than what they claimed they were going to achieve, which was supposed to be a much broader agreement. But given the administration’s strong tilt to Israel from the beginning, supporting moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing the annexation of the Golan Heights, and supporting a plan that would countenance annexation of territories in the West Bank, it is unsurprising that the Palestinians simply withdrew from any negotiations being pushed by the Trump administration. There simply was not going to be that more general agreement.

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Progressive politics and the pandemic

How will the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests over the police murder of George Floyd and other black people affect the political mood in the United States?  The libertarian-leaning economist Tyler Cowen suggested in March that the COVID-19 pandemic would mark the “death of the progressive left.”  It would erode support for key progressive goals, including redistributive economic policies and aggressive action on climate change.  He asked provocatively what we have heard about climate activist Greta Thunberg recently, and suggested that the pandemic will make protecting the climate “seem like another luxury from safer and more normal times.”

Cowen may be proved right, but progressives and Biden apparently did not get the memo.  Since Cowen wrote Biden has moved to the left and expanded his polling lead over Trump, and there are reasons to think the pandemic and the protests over police violence will shift the center of gravity in this country to the left.

There are some specific ways the pandemic is likely to increase support for the policy agenda of progressive Democrats.  The pandemic has highlighted gaps in our health care system that will likely increase support for universal health insurance.  The pandemic-induced recession may create an appetite for government spending to create jobs, including jobs to fight climate change.  Biden has proposed a massive green infrastructure program that polls well.  The plight of parents trying to balance work with the need to take care of children may increase support for childcare.  Covid-19 has revealed serious weaknesses in our aging unemployment insurance system, which seems ripe for a make-over.

These examples share a common logic that undermines the case for laissez-faire and may shift the mood of the country to the left in a fundamental and enduring way.

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The 2020 Presidential and Senate nowcasts: Positions are getting entrenched, and spreading down-ticket

The 2020 Presidential and Senate nowcasts: Positions are getting entrenched, and spreading down-ticket

Here is my weekly update on the 2020 elections, based on State rather than national polling in the past 30 days, since that directly reflects what is likely to happen in the Electoral College. Remember that polls are really only nowcasts, not forecasts. There is nothing inherent in their current status which tells you they will remain in the same category in early November.

Which brings me to the matter of Nate Silver, who unveiled his “forecast” this past week.

Here are the two problems: (1) it is not falsifiable; and (2) it’s *not* a forecast! At best it is a forecast of what he currently expects his nowcast to be on Election Day.
Here are a few of his tweets that demonstrate the problem:

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Birthday Party & Quest for WiFi led to the Wakashio grounding off of Mauritius

“The 58-year-old captain of the ill-fated Newcastlemax-type bulk carrier WAKASHIO could face negligence charges” after it was discovered the crew was celebrating a crewmember’s birthday  as the ship edged closer to the Mauritius coastline seeking wifi signals just prior to the bulk carrier’s grounding on a reef off the island’s south coast. It appears seeking close proximity to the populated shore is a common practice for ships out to sea weeks at a time. It is done so crews can pick up TV signals, internet, and cell phone access. Crews can call home or catch up on the news.

First reported by local newspaper “L’Express,” these bombshell revelations come from investigators interviewing the crew of the Japanese-owned WAKASHIO a Panamanian-flagged ship.

The WAKASHIO grounded on a reef near UNESCO protected sites on the evening of July 25. Before the catastrophe, local authorities noticed the close proximity of the WAKASHIO to the Mauritius coastline and had been trying to contact the ship before the accident to warn it off from its flawed course. A later story after talking to the crew revealed the crew was celebrating a birthday and had missed the initial and urgent calls. The wrecked ship is now on the verge of breaking up (and has done so), has spilled around 1,000 tonnes of bunker fuel into the pristine Mauritian waters, and has created the republic’s greatest ecological disaster.

The “Newcastlemax” designation refers to ship size; Maximum beam 50 meters with a maximum overall length of 300 meter. It is the largest vessel to be able to enter the port of Newcastle, Australia at about 185,000 DWT.

Some of the comments (unnamed) are interesting and speak of the issues with the manning of the huge cargo ships over long periods of time at sea.

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Questions for Postmaster General Louis DeJoy

Save the Post Office is edited and administered by Steve Hutkins, a literature professor who teaches “place studies” at the Gallatin School of New York University. Prof. Hutkins (Steve) is the author of this commentary.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has been on the job just two months, but he can already boast of many accomplishments, including these:

  • He has become the subject of a review by the USPS Office of Inspector General concerning allegations of a conflict of interest over his investments and his controversial policy changes; the review may lead to an investigation.
  • He has provoked calls for his immediate resignation from Senators Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin and Representatives Gerry ConnollyPeter DeFazio and Alma Adams, as well as 700,000 people on a MoveOn petition.
  • He has implemented changes to postal operations that are delaying the mail and heightening fears about the Postal Service’s ability to deliver election mail on time.
  • He has inspired 175 members of Congress to write a letter calling on him to reverse his overhaul of the Postal Service, citing the coronavirus pandemic and upcoming elections.
  • He has also inspired four House Republicans — Reps. Peter King, David McKinley, Brian Fitzpatrick and Daniel Webster — to join 80 House Democrats in signing a letter expressing “deep concerns” about DeJoy’s changes and calling for them to be reversed, and Montana Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte have separately sent their own letters criticizing the mail delays.
  • He has caused U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. to call on the New Jersey Attorney General to convene a grand jury to investigate him for election subversion, and Arizona Secretary of State to ask the Election Integrity Unit of the Attorney General’s office to investigate him for deliberate delay of ballots.
  • He has spurred protestors to take to the street in front his house rallying against his complicity in Trump’s effort to suppress voting by mail.
  • He has demoralized thousands of postal workers by implementing changes they view as undermining the mission of the post office.
  • He has helped to undermine “the most trusted brand in the nation” and “America’s favorite federal agency.”

The Postmaster General needs to appear before Congress immediately, not a month from now, as currently scheduled, and he needs to speak to the American people in a press conference.  Here are some of the questions he should be asked.

Conversations with the president; When the president was asked about your cutbacks on August 9th, he said he hadn’t spoken with you, but news report later said you had met with him a few days previously, on August 3. How many times have you met with the President or spoken with him over the phone? Have you discussed mail voting in conversations with the president or with other members of the White House or Cabinet, including Secretary Mnuchin?

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Trump ally Louis Dejoy Making ‘high-risk’ changes at USPS

Trump ally making ‘high-risk’ changes at USPS, says former postal service deputy,” The Guardian, Sam Levine, August 12, 2020

I received a message from former NC Postmaster Mark Jamison and Angry Bear contributor about a brief interview he did with The Guardian for part of its story on the changes being done at the USPS by the new Postmaster General.

A former top official at the United States Postal Service (USPS) has warned about recent Louis DeJoy mandated changes being implemented just months ahead of the election which could “disenfranchise” Americans just as a record number of them are expected to vote by mail. Ronald Stroman, who stepped down earlier this year as the second in command at USPS, said “he was concerned about the speed and timing of changes that appeared to be implemented after Louis DeJoy took office in June.” Also, due to decreased business and a congressional manufactured liability of prefunding decades of future postal worker retirement now, the USPS faces a financial crisis. Ronald Stroman adds, “while every Postmaster General is interested in cost savings and efficiency, the question is how to balance those risky changes with the public’s needs.

As a supply chain and logistics consultant and manager, I find the timing of these changes to be unnecessary and incredibly dangerous. Processing and delivering mail during a pandemic is difficult enough due to workers becoming ill. Tossing functional changes in on top of the pandemic which people will have to learn is incredibility ignorant when much of the management has been let go or has left due to the politics of the management change. Furthermore, I doubt we will see “Louis” with sleeves rolled up on the line somewhere making sure the mailed-in ballots are clearly postmarked and delivered on time to their destinations. He has spent far too many decades sitting in an office issuing mandates elsewhere.

Angry Bear contributor and retired NC Postmaster Mark Jamison also contributed to The Guardian article stating the idea of leaving first class mail behind for latter processing, as proposed by DeJoy to reduce OT costs, which includes letters with a regular stamp – was anathema to the culture of USPS.

“The rule has always been you clear every piece of first-class mail out of a plant every day, period. There has never been, never, in the 30 years I worked for the post office . . . there has never been a time when you curtail first class mail.”

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The rational self-interest theory of politics meets Donald Trump

In a semi-rational world, Trump and Senate Republicans would have agreed to a reasonably generous economic relief package along the lines of the HEROES Act approved by the House.  Without an extension of the special pandemic unemployment benefits and aid to state and local governments, a humanitarian disaster is inevitable and a macroeconomic disaster a real possibility.  Trump’s executive orders are grossly inadequate to prevent mass homelessness and hunger.  This will quickly become evident.  Layoffs of government workers will mount.  How on earth do Trump and Republican members of Congress think they can avoid electoral accountability for the coming train wreck?  How will Trump explain breaking off talks and rejecting a much more generous aid package, when it will be obvious that a bigger package was needed?  What will Republican Senators say to their constituents?  Remember, the party of the president gets the blame for bad outcomes, deserved or not.

Maybe Trump still wants to win but doesn’t have the mental capacity to game this out.  Krugman argues that Trump is way out of his depth and has surrounded himself with sycophants who promise miracle cures; payroll tax cuts are just another hydroxychloroquine.  Some Trump critics have consoled themselves with the thought that even if Trump is evil, at least he’s incompetent and lazy.  There is something to this idea.  But it’s hard to shake the feeling that a president who understood where his electoral bread was buttered would be a real asset on economic policy right now.

There are other possibilities.  Perhaps McConnell feels his position as party leader will be threatened if he tries to move a bill without majority support within his caucus.  A few days ago I expressed cautious optimism that Republicans would not try to hobble a Biden presidency by destroying the economy in the run up to the general election.  But maybe I was wrong.  Or maybe Trump and McConnell are betting that their indifference to suffering will let them get a relief bill without measures to protect the November vote, or with more corporate goodies, or with less overall spending.  Whatever is going on, Republicans are playing a dangerous game.

 

 

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The 2020 Presidential election nowcast: polling trends favorable to Biden continue

The 2020 Presidential election nowcast: polling trends favorable to Biden continue

 

Here is my weekly update on the 2020 elections, based on State rather than national polling in the past 30 days, since that directly reflects what is likely to happen in the Electoral College.

Let me begin with a reminder that polls are really only nowcasts, not forecasts. There is nothing inherent in their current lean which tells you they will remain in the same category in early November. Which is why I take issue somewhat with the following tweets by forecaster Harry Enten:

This past week Prof. Allan Lichtman, who predicted Trump would win in 2016, predicted that Biden will win the election this year, based on his 13 “keys.”

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An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Make Election Mail Free

Mark Jamison’s commentary on USPO matters have been featured at Angry Bear Blog a number of times over the years. A retired postmaster, Mark Jamison serves as an advisor, resident guru, and a regular contributor to Save the Post Office. Mark’s previous posts concerning the USPO can be found here at “Save The Post Office” or by doing the search function at Angry Bear.  Mark can also be contacted on USPO matters markijamison01@gmail.com

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A common thread that runs throughout the history of the United States is the expansion of the franchise.

Early in our history the right to vote was limited to white males, often with strict property qualifications. By the time of Andrew Jackson, the franchise had extended to white males generally. While the primary reason for the Civil War was the elimination of slavery, the logical conclusion of that conflict was the Fifteenth Amendment, which prohibited denial of the franchise based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” The Nineteenth Amendment extended the franchise to women, and the Snyder Act of 1924 extended the vote to Native Americans by granting them full citizenship rights. The Twenty-sixth Amendment extended the voting age to eighteen-year-olds, acknowledging that if one was old enough to fight and die for their country they were old enough to exercise the franchise.

The fundamental premise of our Constitution is that sovereignty lies within the entity known as We the People. Voting, the exercise of our basic right to choose our leaders, should be our most cherished right because it enshrines voice and participation granting the dignity of self-government.

And yet for all its acknowledged value and importance there have still been reactionary and revanchist powers that sought to limit and confine the franchise. The powerful and elite rarely willingly share their wealth and power.  Each step in extending the franchise was met with resistance.

Ninety-five years after passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, the 1965 Voting Rights Act finally enshrined mechanisms to fulfill the vision of participation that is the cornerstone of American Democracy. The VRA was renewed by Congress several times, most recently in 2006 when it passed in the House by a vote of 390 – 33 and in the Senate unanimously. And yet elements, small recalcitrant elements of our society, still begrudge this most fundamental and basic of rights. In an infamous decision that stands with Dred Scott as among the most unjust acts of the Supreme Court the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision eviscerated key parts of the VRA. Predictably the same bad actors who have fought voting rights took the opportunity to find new and effective ways to suppress voting, especially among minority communities.

Now we have a president who, fearing he will lose an honest and fair election, takes every opportunity to call into question the integrity of our elections and voting practices. While we struggle as a nation with a deadly pandemic, this president has done everything in his power to call into question an obvious solution that will make voting safer, easier, and more accessible. That solution is voting by mail.

Several states already vote exclusively by mail and every state has some provision for mail voting even if limited to excuse-required absentee ballots. In this time of pandemic, voting by mail makes sense and we should make every effort to assist states in providing vote by mail.

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