UK betting firms' move to redirect problem gambling funds

07-05 14:35 - 'Prepare for worse to come from Donald Trump, panicker-in-chief. Like a gambler in a casino on a losing streak, the US president has doubled his bet on the fears of white America. It is unpleasant politics,...' ( by /u/roku44 removed from /r/politics within 606-616min

Prepare for worse to come from Donald Trump, panicker-in-chief. Like a gambler in a casino on a losing streak, the US president has doubled his bet on the fears of white America. It is unpleasant politics, appealing to the worst of the nation’s character
Go1dfish undelete link
unreddit undelete link
Author: roku44
submitted by removalbot to removalbot [link] [comments]

Google’s decision to shift control of UK user data to the US looks like a calculated political bet that Brexit will be a privacy disaster

Google’s decision to shift control of UK user data to the US looks like a calculated political bet that Brexit will be a privacy disaster submitted by appstools232323 to europe [link] [comments]

Analysis: Google’s decision to shift control of UK user data to the US looks like a calculated political bet that Brexit will be a privacy disaster

Analysis: Google’s decision to shift control of UK user data to the US looks like a calculated political bet that Brexit will be a privacy disaster submitted by isosafrole to europrivacy [link] [comments]

Google's decision to shift control of UK user data to the US looks like a calculated political bet that Brexit will be a privacy disaster

Google's decision to shift control of UK user data to the US looks like a calculated political bet that Brexit will be a privacy disaster submitted by Dutchlawyer to brexit [link] [comments]

Analysis: Google’s decision to shift control of UK user data to the US looks like a calculated political bet that Brexit will be a privacy disaster

Analysis: Google’s decision to shift control of UK user data to the US looks like a calculated political bet that Brexit will be a privacy disaster submitted by isosafrole to brealism [link] [comments]

/r/politics [removed] Sports betting sites bump Obama victory probability to 71% after Ryan announced as VP (US odds: -250, UK odds: 2/5)

/politics [removed] Sports betting sites bump Obama victory probability to 71% after Ryan announced as VP (US odds: -250, UK odds: 2/5) submitted by ModerationLog to ModerationLog [link] [comments]

Here’s your morning coffee!

Good morning, hope everyone trades responsibly, let’s make some money!


Boeing Company (BA) - Air Lease (AL) updated on its order book deliveries, sales and new significant financing occurring in Q2; at the end of the quarter, its fleet was comprised of 301 owned aircraft and 81 managed aircraft, with 398 new aircraft on order from Boeing and Airbus (EADSY) set to deliver through 2026; it delivered one new Airbus A320neo aircraft from its order book, and sold four aircraft.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) is facing calls from over 170 nonprofit groups to stop selling its talc-based Baby Powder worldwide, over concerns that it contains cancer-causing Asbestos, while some are also calling for the clearing of existing inventories.
Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) Q3 20 (USD): Adj. EPS 0.83 (exp. 1.17), Revenue 34.6bln (exp. 34.36bln), FY20 Adj. EPS view 4.65-4.75 (exp. 5.42); Suspending share repurchase programme, raises quarterly dividend to USD 0.4675/shr, a 2.2% increase. US Retail Pharmacy SSS +3.0% (exp. +1.2%). Most significant COVID-19 impact was in the UK market which required a review resulting in a non-cash impairment charge of USD 2bln. Boots (UK) will be cutting around 4,000 jobs. Annual cost savings to be in excess of USD 2bln by FY2022.


Alphabet Inc (GOOG/GOOGL) said it has shut down its cloud project named “Isolated Region” and added that it was not weighing options to offer its cloud platform in China; earlier reports had stated that GOOG had shelved the project in China and other politically sensitive countries in May, partly due to rising geopolitical tensions and the pandemic; GOOG, however, added that the project’s shutdown was not due to either of those two reasons and that it has not offered cloud platform services in China.
American Airlines Group (AAL) / United Airlines (UAL) have temporarily halted flights to Hong Kong after its government-imposed coronavirus testing requirements for airline crews, according to Politico.
Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) June sales update saw comparable sales (ex-gasoline and FX) rose 13.6% in the June five-week period, accelerating from the +9.2% seen in May, beating forecasts for around 9% growth.
Facebook, Inc. (FB) announced it is starting a chat with a business using QR codes, where people can scan QR codes businesses show at stores, product packaging or receipts to start a chat. It notes there are over 50mln WhatsApp Business app users globally every month.
Gilead Sciences (GILD) plans to make more of its drug remdesivir available for Germany and Europe from the fall, and will decide how much each country gets based on the rate of infection; it added that it could increase its worldwide monthly production from currently 190,000 treatment cycles to two million treatment cycles in December. Remdesivir is currently the only drug granted a conditional marketing authorisation by the EU for its use in COVID-19 patients.Oracle Corp. (ORCL) (Information Technology/Application Software) has been awarded a cloud services agreement by the Canadian government.

S & P 500

Carnival Corp. (CCL) Aida cruises are to recommence sailing vacations in August.
Ford Motor (F) said its China vehicle sales increased 3% in April-June from a year earlier, its first quarterly sales rise in China in almost three years; China sales grew by 158,589 units in Q2, attributed to the rise to a stronger vehicle line up and “strong demand following the lifting of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions”.
Mylan NV (MYL) announced it received FDA approval for its Hulio, a biosimilar to AbbVie Inc. (ABBV) Humira, for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
Twitter, Inc. (TWTR) has been accused of being biased against conservatives and demanded information about its reactions to two tweets by President Donald Trump; two GOP lawmakers allege TWTR’s content moderation was not neutral. Meanwhile, analysts at Citi note its shares overreacted to the potential subscription service reports yesterday. Analyst Jason Bazinet says although it makes sense, there are many unknowns, such as the price and whether or not it will have advertisements. The analyst highlights that a consumer survey shows roughly 10% of its respondents were willing to pay for a USD 5/mth plan without ads and more analytic services. Citi estimates if such a service were to occur, it would be priced at USD 20/year internationally and USD 60/year in the US, assuming a 5% penetration for base case and 10% for its bull case with advertisements, the analyst believes the revenue contribution would be limited. Citi maintain a neutral rating.
United Continental Holdings (UAL) expects to recognise USD 300mln in employee separation charges in Q2, with USD 50mln to be in cash.
ViacomCBS (VIAC) reached a deal to stream all the UEFA Champions League and Europa League matches starting in August.


Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) Q1 20 (USD): Adj. EPS -1.96 (exp. -1.22), revenue 1.31bln (exp. 1.39bln). Announced it is to close 200 stores over two years as sales fell around 50% during pandemic; BBBY said it was not reporting comp sales due to temporary store closures.
DocuSign (DOCU) had its PT upgraded at Wedbush to USD 240 (prev. USD 165, prev. closing price 206.35). The analyst “continues to believe DOCU’s deal flow is holding up well/stronger than expected in this Covid-19 pandemic environment which bodes well for strong underlying metrics/headline numbers during FY2Q”.
DraftKings (DKNG) and Twin River Worldwide (TRWH) Mardi Gras Casino announced the opening of DKNG’s temporary sportsbook at the casino in Black Hawk, Colorado. Guests can place bets at the sportsbook from 10th July.
Energy Transfer (ET) provided further clarification around news reports regarding the operations of the Dakota Access Pipeline, stating that it has never suggested that it would defy a court order. Rather, Dakota Access Pipeline was seeking appropriate relief from that order through the established legal process.
Japan Display (6740 JT) : FY group net loss JPY 101.42bln (prev. net loss JPY 106.59bln), operating loss JPY 38.54bln (prev. loss JPY 27.23bln), recurring loss JPY 57.76bln (prev. JPY 40.37bln).
Moderna (MRNA) announced a collaboration for large-scale commercial fill-finish manufacturing of its vaccine candidate with Rovi.
PTC (PTC) expects to deliver fiscal third quarter 2020 ARR growth of 9% year over year, 10% in constant currency; and also expects to deliver double-digit revenue and free cash flow year-over-year growth for the fiscal third quarter 2020; it will report results on 29th July.
Restaurant Brands (QSR) Burger King in the UK is warning of 1,600 potential job losses as it could close up to 10% of its restaurants
SAP (SAP GY, SAP) – Q2 prelim: total revenue EUR 6.74bln, +2% (+1% non-IFRS), operating profit EUR 1.28bln, +55% YY (+8% non-IFRS), non-IFRS cloud revenue EUR 2.04bln +21% YY (19% non-IFRS). At present, cloud backlog seen at EUR 6.65bln, +20%, cloud backlog remains strong but cloud revenue in Q2 was impacted by lower pay-as-you-go transactional revenue given COVID-19. Reiterates FY20 outlook. For FY20: confirm non-IFRS revenue EUR 27.8-28.5bln vs. Prev. EUR 27.6bln, cloud revenue EUR 8.3-8.7bln vs. prev. EUR 7.0bln, operating profit EUR 8.1-8.7bln vs. Prev. EUR 8.2bln. Have seen a strong sequential improvement compared to Q1 regarding software license revenue. Q2 & H1 results will be released on 27th July.
Siemens (SIE GY, SIEGY) – Are to spin off 55% of Siemens Energy to shareholders will equate to 1 Siemens Energy share for 2 Siemens shares. Initial listing of new shares is scheduled for 28th September 2020, will commence with a BBB rating at S&P. Siemens will retain a 35.1% stake in the spin-off and the Siemens pension trust an additional 9.9% stake, as such Siemens no longer has a controlling share. Further stake reductions could take place at a significant scale in the next 12-18 months. Separately, Co. are not planning any job reductions from COVID-19. For reference, in FY19 Siemens Energy generated revenue of circa EUR 29bln according to Siemens AG combined statements.

Additional US Equity Stories

Of note for Social Media names (FB, TWTR, SNAP), ByteDance is reportedly considering a change in the corporate structure to distance the app from China, and is also considering a TikTok HQ outside of China, according to WSJ.
Peloton (PTON) new product will probably not be a rowing machine or exercise bike, its CFO announced, but it could potentially be a lower price treadmill. The CFO stated the co. believes “the running and boot camp category is two-to-three [times] the size of the bike category”, adding it is first and foremost on their minds, reports Barron’s.
Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) CFO says towards the end of Q3 online volume sales reached Black Friday levels on a daily basis, and May sales increased almost 120%, with June sales growth even higher.
Tesla (TSLA) CEO Musk announced the automaker was "very close" to developing fully autonomous vehicles and could work out the basics of that technology as soon as this year; he reiterated that the electric vehicle maker has solved most of the essential challenges toward achieving fully self-driven cars that needs no human behind the wheel. The Tesla and SpaceX chief was reaffirming a goal first expressed in 2019.
Delta AIrlines (DAL) CEO reiterates urge for workers to consider voluntary departure., and announced it flew 20% of customers over the July 4th weekend.
submitted by WSBConsensus to wallstreetbets [link] [comments]

Megathread: Bernie Sanders in narrow win over Buttigieg in the New Hampshire Democratic primary

Bernie Sanders narrowly won the New Hampshire Democratic primary by a margin of about 4,000 votes, or less than 2 percentage points, over Pete Buttigieg, according to an NBC News projection.
Sanders, who represents neighboring Vermont, had been leading in the polls, so his victory wasn’t a surprise. But he and Buttigieg were closely bunched with the third-place candidate, Amy Klobuchar, allowing all three to claim either victory or solid momentum going into the next round of voting.
At the same time, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., were headed toward poor showings and failed to get any delegates, NBC News projected.

Submissions that may interest you

Sanders edges Buttigieg in New Hampshire, Dem front-runners
Bernie Sanders Wins The New Hampshire Democratic Primary
Bernie Sanders wins New Hampshire primary
Hey Everyone, Bernie Is 2-0': Sanders Wins First-in-the-Nation Primary. After nabbing popular vote victory in Iowa, Sanders takes the Granite State. "What we have done together here is nothing short of the beginning of a political revolution," Sanders declared.
Bernie Sanders Has Won The New Hampshire Primary. What’s Next?
Bernie Sanders wins New Hampshire Primary
Bernie Sanders Wins New Hampshire
Sanders wins New Hampshire Primary
Socialist Bernie Sanders Wins New Hampshire
New Hampshire primary: Bernie Sanders wins, CBS News projects
Sanders projected to win the New Hampshire Democratic primary
New Hampshire Feels the Bern: Sanders Wins First-in-the-Nation Primary
Bernie Sanders projected to win New Hampshire primary: NBC News
New Hampshire primary: Bernie Sanders projected to win as Democrats look to clarify muddled race
Bernie Sanders wins the New Hampshire Democratic primary
Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg locked in another tight race in New Hampshire
Bernie Sanders wins New Hampshire primary, making him the new national frontrunner
Bernie Sanders just won the all-important New Hampshire primary
NBC News Exit Poll: Income divides Sanders and Buttigieg supporters in New Hampshire primary
New Hampshire: Bernie Sanders leads in early results from key primary
Bernie Sanders wins New Hampshire Democratic primary
Bernie Sanders sweeps New Hampshire, eyes oligarch
Sanders wins New Hampshire primary in narrow victory over Buttigieg
'Hey Everyone, Bernie Is 2-0': Sanders Wins New Hampshire Primary
With New Hampshire Behind Him, Sanders Looks to Nevada Workers as Vegas Union Bosses Rally Against Him
Sanders on NH victory: Win is 'beginning of the end for Donald Trump'
Bernie Sanders wins New Hampshire Democratic primary; Buttigieg, Klobuchar are top moderate candidates
Bernie Sanders wins New Hampshire primary - 'We are putting together an unprecedented, multi-generational, multi-racial movement, and this is a movement from coast to coast'
Sanders wins three-way contest in New Hampshire primary
Another split decision: Sanders narrowly beats Buttigieg in New Hampshire - Amy Klobuchar captures headlines with strong third-place finish; Warren and Biden far back in fourth and fifth
Democratic field narrows after New Hampshire but race is far from settled - The Democratic presidential primary now appears to be a battle between Bernie Sanders and any candidate who can stop him
Sanders edges Buttigieg in New Hampshire, cementing Democratic front-runners
Bernie Sanders' uneasy New Hampshire win
Sanders Wins In New Hampshire, Narrowly Beating Buttigieg
Bernie takes New Hampshire as Buttigieg, Klobuchar fight to be his main opponent - Sanders emerges as frontrunner, but dropoff from 2016 suggests his campaign falls far short of a "revolution"
Sanders wins vote; Buttigieg leads in total delegates
Bernie Sanders has crushed his Left-wing rivals while moderates fight each other - The battle among centrists to find an alternative is further boosting Bernie Sanders
How Sanders Held Off Buttigieg And Klobuchar In New Hampshire
Sanders Is The Front-Runner After New Hampshire, And A Contested Convention Has Become More Likely
Bernie Sanders wins New Hampshire primary, narrowly beating Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar
Bernie Sanders a limp leader after barely squeaking by in New Hampshire
Bernie Sanders wins New Hampshire, DOJ turmoil and Westminster names new top dog: The Morning Rundown
Sanders Is Winning Because He's Popular - Voters like the senator from Vermont—it’s socialism that makes them nervous.
Bernie Sanders Got More Young Voters in New Hampshire Than Everyone Else Combined
Fueled by Diverse Working Class Voters, Sanders' New Hampshire Win Celebrated as 'Major Victory for Progressive Movement'
Did Bernie Sanders underperform in New Hampshire?
Watching Bernie Sanders Claim Victory In New Hampshire
New Hampshire resident tells MSNBC that its anti-Bernie Sanders coverage made her 'angry,' inspired her to vote for him in primary
With Back-to-Back Wins for Sanders, Pundits Proven Wrong in Iowa and New Hampshire
What New Hampshire's exit polls tell us about the primary - Bernie Sanders cleaned up among younger voters but was spurned by older ones. For Amy Klobuchar, it was the opposite.
Sanders rolls forward amid moderate divide - His triumph in New Hampshire also illuminated his vulnerabilities.
In New Hampshire and Beyond, Medicare for All Is Fueling Sanders’s Rise
Ex-Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein laid into Bernie Sanders after his New Hampshire win, saying he'll wreck the economy and let Russia 'screw up the US'
'Do They Never Learn?': Progressives Rip Media Attempts to Downplay Bernie Sanders Win in NH Primary
Why Bernie Sanders's New Hampshire primary win should terrify you
Former Goldman Sachs CEO rips Sanders after NH win: 'He'll ruin our economy'
Democrats eye Nevada, South Carolina after Sanders wins in New Hampshire
Bernie Sanders’ New Hampshire Victory Is a Big Deal for Socialism in America. Here's What To Know About the History of the Idea
Analysis: Bernie Sanders' New Hampshire win ups pressure on moderates to coalesce
Bernie Sanders lost among New Hampshire voters focused most on beating Trump New Hampshire shows Bernie Sanders still has an “electability” problem.
What changed for Sanders in New Hampshire since 2016? The electorate, for one.
Health Insurance Giant Reacts to Bernie Sanders' Slim Win
Bernie Sanders claimed victory in the New Hampshire primary. Here's what that win means
Progressives to Voters Skeptical of Bernie Sanders: This 'Big Tent' Movement Is a Winning and Practical Choice — "Sanders is much more pragmatic and less ideological than his opponents would like to admit."
Bernie Sanders’ New Hampshire Win Was Fueled By the Sunrise Movement . Organizers with the Sunrise Movement and New Hampshire Youth Movement mobilized the youth vote in New Hampshire, helping Bernie Sanders win the primary.
New Hampshire 2020: In Supreme Irony, the Horse Race Favors Bernie Sanders
What revolution? New Hampshire results show Bernie Sanders base of support shrinking
Bernie Sanders wins New Hampshire primary; Buttigieg leads in delegate count
The Night Socialism Went Mainstream - Bernie Sanders’s victory in the New Hampshire primary marks a turning point for Democratic politics.
Elon Musk tweeted a bizarre 'Sonic'-themed meme of Bernie Sanders after he won the New Hampshire primary
SC’s Joe Cunningham slams Bernie Sanders’ ‘socialism’ ahead of 2020 Democratic primary
Investors bet on Sanders after New Hampshire win as Biden plummets: Smarkets
Bernie Sanders and No One are tied for winning the Democratic Primary according to 538
'South Carolinians don’t want socialism': Democrat slams Bernie Sanders ahead of state primary
Sanders Would Bring the Center-Left’s Collapse to U.S.: Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic nomination wouldn’t be a freakish occurrence outside the experience of other advanced democracies.
‘Terrified of Bernie’: Sanders’ socialism spooks swing-district Democrats
AOC’s Speech Snub, ICE Remarks Rankle Bernie Sanders Campaign- AOC’s people were said to be unhappy at being called on the carpet and expressed concern over Sanders’s Joe Rogan embrace—but now AOC is back on the stump in New Hampshire.
Bernie Sanders's New Hampshire Win Confirms He is the Front-runner, Like It or Not
Why Does Mainstream Media Keep Attacking Bernie Sanders as He Wins?
Bernie Sanders on His Big Win in New Hampshire
submitted by PoliticsModeratorBot to politics [link] [comments]

We are the paper-clip maximizer: observations on idealism

Wherein I attempt to convince you that the better angels of our nature are iterations of Patrick Bateman.
I grew up in Eastern Europe. My family was pretty well off: after the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, my father got a Fulbright scholarship at Stanford. He returned with dollars and, more importantly, American connections.
My people, perpetually more interested in acerbic word play than doing anything constructive, are fond of the following bon mot: are idei putine, dar fixe. It translates to something like, "he's a man of ideas that are few, but fixated."
This template of inverted expectation (instead of insult-but-compliment, insult-but-insult) captures the soul of Balkan cynicism beautifully, and the phrase describes my father to a tee. He had the bedrock conviction of a religious man, expanded by the confidence of two doctorates. A sampling of his beliefs, routinely proselytized among his single-digit aged kids:
The Internet will define the future. Jews are the smartest people, ever. Anything comfortable aligning itself with the label socialism kills the soul. Reagan is a mix of Superman and the Pope. Assorted musings on said themes.
If ever there's a market for an Eastern-Euro flavored All In the Family, I've got things to pitch to the writers.
As befitting a pre-schooler, I was pretty whatever about les idees fixes de mon pere at the time and instead played Spectre and messed around with ClarisWorks on the PowerBook 100 he brought back from the land of plenty.
Exposure plus inertia equals three quarters of belief, so about a decade & a half later, after benefiting from a lottery both literal as well as figurative, I found myself circa early aughts, enthusiastically--albeit unconsciously--ticking off my father's boxes:
  • The Internet will define the future: holler atcho boy with the second set of Warglaives on the server, what's up
  • Jews are the smartest: Einstein & Rothbard, hell yeah
  • Anything comfortable aligning itself with the label socialism kills the soul: the Shahaadah of Eastern Euros, double hell yeah
  • Reagan is a mix of Superman and the Pope: A contrarian attending the People's Republic of U.C. Berkeley, what do you think?
And so I internalized the litanies littered across the only lot I could reasonably inhabit on the political compass: that remote, much-memed-on mountain top called libertarianism.
Thankfully enough, I avoided the ditch of Ayn Rand worship. I'm stupid but not stupid enough to fall for anybody who's that bad of a writer[1]. I painted well within the Hayek lines of respectability instead, eschewing gold-buggism, doom-prepping or the crass embarrassment of formal Libertarian politicking while nursing a chip of feral anti-collectivism on my shoulder.
It worked. Ish.
Then, at first slowly--then, rapidly--it didn't.
Axiomatic assumptions about America's place in and influence around the world (remember: I grew up with people who thought Radio Free Europe was basically the burning bush) were the first to go. I went into the Iraqi war with full "save them from Saddam!" gusto, and one of my snarky descriptions of Berkeley campus anti-war fervor got linked to by Andrew Sullivan, then one of the patron saints of the pro-incursion nomenklatura. The ensuing decade-long debacle disabused me of several elaborate fictions.
2008 torpedoed several comfort blankets[2] about markets always being right and deregulation always being good. Most of the damage got patched up with elaborate circumlocutions: manipulated markets aren't real markets, ratings agencies are an elaborate shell game, nominal outcomes are impossible when Clintonite-birthed obscenities distort risk.
But Agent K's admonition, Carlin's line for the ages and a slow drip of behavioral economics all began registering. Maximizing everybody's freedom started sounding less and less like a good idea, much less ethical imperative.
I was lucky enough to meander through Denmark, Belgium, Sweden. No democratic-socialist commissars demanded my papers.
I got mind-fucked several times by Crichton[3]. The Lizardman Constant upset me. Moldbug's Nosferatu-like meditations rattled my cage. Even more dangerously, instead of stopping at 1984 and Animal Farm, I expanded my exposure to Orwell: Road to Wigam Pier, Homage to Catalonia. Goddamn socialist, that one.
Through the last few years, my time online revealed an Internet unlike playful territory of experimentation that I experienced as a teenager. Monetization and mass psychosis rue the day.
TFW I realize that various idealistic impulses (America land of the free! Liberty for all! Communism bad!) lined me up behind objectively, measurably, conclusively Wrong Things.
At times, Bad Things.
Contrary to what you might imagine right about now o'clock, I don't consider myself an interesting topic. The expansive autobiographical detour had to preface what's next, or else it would've read (too) accusatory and obnoxious.
I had to show work: me first.
I fucked up.
If a socialist professor from Toronto U & full-on Objectivist both deploy the same unlikely phrase, one might wonder what, exactly, predatory altruism means.
I yield the floor to Thiel Capital's managing director:
When powerful people use their advantage to engage in new involuntary transfers of wealth, safety or freedom from those too weak to defend themselves, the winners are almost always forced to create a type of idealism as a cover for their syphoning.
In simpler terms: these idealisms are cover stories or bespoke fig leaves which almost exactly fit the extraction or taking that they're tailored to mask. Once this is understood, we realize that to test this theory, each wave of idealism would have to be matched to a highly specific effective confession for an injustice that pervaded the era in which it was found. (...)
(The idealism of U.S. competitiveness in the 80s and early to mid 90s) wasn't really about the need of managers, owners and workers to pull together through shared austerity to re-invigorate American industry. It was a false idealism that instructed American labor to give up hard-won gains that were not matched by comparable sacrifices from the other groups.
Once U.S. labor had been sufficiently humbled and attenuated (...) the drumbeat of patriotic competitiveness gave way to the post-national Davos idealism of a world without borders signing the praises of financial inclusion, trade, immigration and philantropy. The purpose of the post-national movement wasn't to include those overseas but instead to allow the wealthy of the industrialized world to break bonds with their fellow citizens of the working class and access cheaper labor abroad using far-flung supply chains.
In Extremely Online parlance, this is called, I believe, a black pill.
You might be compelled to observe that for a self-professed snake-bitten Eastern Euro harboring Iron Curtain obsessions, I'm parroting awfully Marxist-sound lines. Ok, let me dig myself into a deeper hole:
Second and third wave feminism were championed in popular culture because they radically expanded labor markets, leading to decades of wage stagnation and massively increased the purchasing power of those who control most economic consumption.
Intersectional orthodoxies have reached the power and reach they have now largely because they've been systematically championed as a cheap alternative to labor-based politics.
Environmentalism has been deployed as sword and shield for entrenched rent seeking, literal and figurative, excusing rapacious NIMBYism and boxing entire generations into a corner where starting a family or building generational wealth have a risk profile similar to betting everything on red.
And so on.
You get the gist of it[4].
This is neither a chronicle of nor a plea for Going Full Kropotnik: the last thing I'm after is convincing somebody to change their leopard spots.
I'm pointing out that we have a nearly universal diagnostic: "social unrest about legitimate issues has been co-opted, hollowed and weaponized out by opportunistic bad actors." It applies to Build the Wall, #believewomen, the role of national and local government when responding to health crises, BLM, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.
An optimizing, pro-social function of being human seems to have gone haywire.
THESIS: The scale of contemporary societies and tech accelerationism have created a situation where the sheer rate of New, compounded by how powerful the New is, have permanently tilted the scales in the favor of societal defectors.
Those who have the means and inclination to co-opt, hollow-out and weaponize cooperation.
You're welcome to expurgate your dissatisfaction with the above by calling it Kaczsynski With More Steps. One must take refuge & shelter in the small pleasures of life, such as summary dismissal of apocalyptic online ramblings.
ANTI-THESIS: We're living through the Reformation Wars, and it's up to each and every one of us to carve out, in whatever small way we can, a path to the Peace of Westphalia.
We're fucked, now and forever, at an increasing rate, OR:
We're fucked and the only way out is to dig through corpses and broken shards of idealism while nursing paranoid suspicions, especially about those who shout loudest about their willingness to help digging.
I don't know what the latter looks like. Something along the lines of "have exit plans ready" for communities that matter (theMotte) and Actually Matter (your family.) Something like, delete your Twitter accounts. Invest in functional, proven crypto. Get a haircut and a meal to a homeless person who needs them.
[1] You're welcome to disagree and be wrong about this.
[2] Mixed metaphors, best metaphors.
[3] With something between terror and smug self-satisfaction, I note that finding these essays via one of my Official Outgroups, large search engines, takes a substantial amount of effort.
[4] I realize that these are Large Claims with zero evidence to support them. Perhaps each paragraph merits 5,000 word treatments, but there are limits to my throughput and, more to the point, reader attention span.
submitted by sl1200mk5 to TheMotte [link] [comments]

Megathread: William Taylor, envoy to Ukraine, testifies Trump tied Ukraine aid to politically motivated investigations

The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine testified on Tuesday he was told that President Donald Trump made the release of security aid to Ukraine contingent on Kiev publicly declaring it would carry out politically motivated investigations that he sought, according to a copy of his statement to lawmakers.
Link to opening statement

Submissions that may interest you

US' top diplomat Taylor was told Trump wanted aid withheld until Ukraine said it would investigate Biden
Diplomat’s Testimony Drew “Direct Line” Between Military Funds and Biden Probe
William Taylor testifies about deep-seated push for Ukraine quid pro quo
Diplomat says he was told U.S. aid for Ukraine tied to request for probes: Washington Post
Read:Top US diplomat to Ukraine's opening statement for impeachment inquiry
Bill Taylor’s Testimony Paints a 'Damning' Picture of Trump's Ukraine Quid Pro Quo; "It was the most damning testimony that I've heard so far" says Wasserman Shultz
US’ top Ukraine diplomat testifies he was told ‘everything’ depended on Ukraine announcing investigations
Diplomat says he was told that Ukraine military aid was linked to investigations into Bidens and 2016 election
Read: Taylor’s Damning Testimony On Ukraine Pressure Campaign
Top Diplomat Confirms There Was Quid Pro Quo Demand In Trump's Ukraine Call: Reports
Donald Trump 'lynching' comment on impeachment probe is condemned as US diplomat William Taylor testifies
Opening statement of Ambassador William B. Taylor
Top diplomat Bill Taylor gave 'disturbing,' 'explosive' testimony on Trump's Ukraine dealings, Democrats say — Democrats said a "direct line" between the president's demand for an investigation by the Ukrainians into his political rivals and U.S. military aid.
Diplomat says Ukraine aid was tied to political investigations
3 takeaways from Bill Taylor’s crucial opening statement
U.S. envoy: Trump tied Ukraine aid to Biden, DNC investigations
Ukraine ambassador says in 'damning' testimony that he was told Trump wanted quid pro quo deal, report says
Ukraine Envoy Testifies Trump Linked Military Aid to Investigations, Lawmaker Says
Today’s Impeach-O-Meter: Gasp-Inducing Testimony Confirms Corrupt Quid Pro Quo for Billionth Time
Democrats Say Ambassador William Taylor's Testimony On Ukraine Is 'Disturbing'
Ambassador testifies he was told "everything" depended on Ukraine announcing investigations
Trump Wanted Zelensky to Publicly Say He Was Investigating Biden
‘Sighs and gasps’ from House Members Hearing Latest Testimony in Impeachment Inquiry
Volker urged Ukraine’s Zelensky to convince Trump he would investigate corruption - Weeks before Trump July 25 phone call, U.S. diplomat discussed investigations with Zelensky at a Toronto meeting
Volker pressed Zelensky to convince Trump he would launch investigations before call: Report
I was told Trump wanted quid pro quo deal, Ukraine ambassador reportedly testifies – live - US news
Taylor: Sondland And Volker Separately Compared Trump’s Ukraine Aid Holdup To A Biz Deal
Top US diplomat in Ukraine tells Congress investigating Bidens and election interference tied to aid money
Ambassador William Taylor Ties Ukraine Aid Holdup Directly To Trump
The Top US Diplomat To Ukraine Was “Alarmed” The US Insisted Ukraine Help Trump With Investigations In Exchange For Aid Money
Legal Experts Sum Up U.S. Diplomat’s Testimony on Ukraine as ‘Devastating’ for Trump
Testimony by Top Diplomat Bill Taylor on Trump and Ukraine Elicits 'Holy Sh*t' Responses From Members of Congress
Bill Taylor may be blowing the Trump-Ukraine scandal wide open
6 Key Revelations of Taylor’s Opening Statement to Impeachment Investigators
The 5 Bombshells From Bill Taylor's Testimony on Trump and Ukraine
White House Attacks ‘Radical Unelected Bureaucrats’ After Explosive Taylor Testimony
William Taylor's testimony should be game over for Trump
Diplomat Bill Taylor testifies Trump used Ukraine aid, White House meeting as leverage for probes
Highlights: Top U.S. Diplomat In Ukraine Delivers Explosive Statement To Congress
Top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine offers damning testimony
Amb. Bill Taylor's 'Devastating' Opening Statement Draws 'Direct Line' To Trump - Deadline - MSNBC
Bill Taylor opening statement: Read the full text of the top U.S. diplomat's statement to Congress - Top diplomat tells lawmakers Ukraine aid was directly tied to investigations
Diplomat worried Trump would stiff Ukraine after leveraging favor
Ukraine ambassador William Taylor’s testimony backs Senate Republicans into a corner
‘The directive had come from the president’; Longtime diplomat details quid pro quo with Ukraine
5 explosive lines from Bill Taylor's statement
Every major TV network except Fox News thinks William Taylor's testimony was just awful for Trump
US diplomat: Trump tied Ukraine aid to demands for probes
Trump launches lackluster attack against Bill Taylor after testimony
Trump and Rudy just got nailed: Bill Taylor unveils the whole sleazy Ukraine scheme. Acting Ukraine ambassador's Capitol Hill testimony blows the lid off Trump's conspiracy — and hints at much more
Trump impeachment inquiry catch-up: where we are right now. The president’s denial of dirty dealings in Ukraine took a serious hit on Tuesday with Bill Taylor’s closed-door testimony.
Bill Taylor’s testimony removes any last plausible line of defense for Trump
Taylor’s Testimony Goes Way Beyond Quid Pro Quo
When We Investigated Benghazi, We Longed for Evidence This Clear: If Mike Pompeo and Jim Jordan had received the kind of bombshell testimony we heard from William Taylor, they would have moved to impeach.
Taylor Testifies Trump Tied Ukraine Aid to Investigation of Hunter Biden
Key GOP senator: The "picture coming out" of diplomat's testimony is "not a good one"
Watch: GOP Rep. Yells At CNN Reporter When Asked About Bill Taylor’s Testimony
Top Senate Republican Calls Impression Of Taylor Testimony ‘Not Good’
Nolte: Adam Schiff Desperate to Hide William Taylor Testimony that Would Kill Ukraine Hoax
Team Trump Is Withholding Bill Taylor's Detailed Ukraine Notes From Congress
Trump impeachment odds hit record high of 75% on popular betting website after diplomat's 'damning' testimony
“The Walls Are Closing In”: Bill Taylor's Testimony Puts Trump's Impeachment in Overdrive
Bill Taylor's Ukraine testimony left "jaws dropped," says Democratic congressman: "This wasn't just a smoking gun, it was a smoking cannon"
Republican lawmaker 'destroyed' Bill Taylor's testimony says McCarthy
Sondland seeks to align himself with Taylor after bombshell testimony
No. 2 GOP senator: 'Picture coming out of' diplomat's testimony 'not a good one'
Team Trump Is Withholding Bill Taylor's Detailed Ukraine Notes From Congress
Trump calls Pompeo-appointed Ukraine ambassador Bill Taylor a "Never Trumper"
submitted by PoliticsModeratorBot to politics [link] [comments]

SO told MiL that we don’t want to talk with her about politics anymore. She manages to turn this into a moral failing

She started talking about BLM. We’re in the UK and she proceeds to say that we don’t have a race problem, and reel off conspiracy theories about it being a made-up liberal issue (consistently talking as if only white people are protesting, as if black people don’t exist. Which isn’t surprising considering the bubble she lives in). Anyway, I don’t want to repeat the things she said.
My Partner finally said the words I’ve wanted him to say for a long time: we’re never going to agree so I think we just need to stop talking about politics and human rights with each other. I’m not going to change your mind, and I don’t want to argue.
What did I expect her to say? To be honest I expected her to agree, and I hoped she also wouldn’t want to argue. This is the first time she’s been in our house since lockdown and the first time she’s held our baby since Feb. Our daughter was doing things she’s never seen her do before, all while she was looking the other way at my SO and talking absolute garbage.
Her actual response? She said she thinks it’s bad that we don’t want to talk and be open to having our opinion changed, it’s almost like a religious belief that you don’t want challenged. It’s a shame that we are so set in our ways we can’t even have a discussion.
If I wasn’t so blindsided by that, the best response from us would have been to be steadfast: “you can think that if you want, but we didn’t invite you here to argue. We will not discuss politics with you any more”.
The sad thing is I bet if I said “let’s please not keep arguing in front of the baby” she’d take that as a ‘liberal’ moral failing and start on about how ‘the real world is full of conflict, do we think we can hide her from arguments forever?’
Please tell me why boomers are so pig headed and stupid and why won’t they just read a fucking book or shut up. (Yes I am aware I’m generalising but you know what I mean).
Edit to clarify my “boomer” position: if you’re born between 1944-1964 you are not automatically a bad person. Everyone knows this.
submitted by irmaluff to JUSTNOMIL [link] [comments]

A Brief History of Aditya Pancholi's Lengthy Problematic Behavior

The Pancholi family is back in spotlight in connection with Sushant Singh Rajput's passing away. What do we know about Aditya Pancholi? Aside from him being an actor, the son of a producer, he also has an unusually lengthy criminal record.
1989: Aditya Pancholi raped his girlfriend Pooja Bedi's 14-year old maid
1994: Anil Kapoor complained to the police about calls from the underworld threatening him to not accept a role in the 1995 film Trimurti. Police investigations found that it was Pancholi who was making the calls, because he wanted the role Anil was offered. When Kapoor learnt it was Pancholi he took his complaint back. (Source)
September 2005: Aditya Pancholi involved in a cricket betting scandal with cricketer Muralidharan and bar dancer Tarannum.
May 2007: Aditya Pancholi assaults Kangana Ranaut, she files a police complaint against him.
Details It was midnight and Kangana was traveling in an autorickshaw with Pancholi's car in her pursuit. Eventually Pancholi caught up, grabbed her by her hair and tried to force her into the car. When eye witnesses heard her screams and came to help, Pancholi warned them to stay out saying this was a 'family matter.' Kangana scaled a high wall to escape from Aditya’s rage and hid in a garbage bin 50 meters away till the early hours. Breaks up eventually.
Later Pancholi admits to hitting her and says "We were as good as husband and wife. I was actually building a house for both of us on Yari Road."
July 2011: Aditya Pancholi Gets Into A Fight With Airline Crew
June 2013: Pancholi is booked - but not arrested yet - for attacking his 55-year-old neighbour Bhargav Patel for the 2nd time this year. He gets bailed out two days later.
July 2013: An FIR was registered against actor Aditya Pancholi and his domestic help for allegedly trespassing into his neighbour, Bhargav Patel's house and attacking Patel’s servant.
October 2013: Aditya Pancholi slammed the door of his car on a journalist’s hand on being asked questions related to Jiah Khan's suicide case, snatched her camera away and smashed it into pieces.
February 2015: Drunk Aditya Pancholi Creates A Ruckus On ‘Bajirao Mastani’ Sets
March 2015: Aditya Pancholi arrested after drunken brawl at Juhu night club, gets bail
When he was presented before the court for this case, he allegedly misbehaved with the lawyers and the cops while waiting for the magistrate to arrive. According to the reports of a daily, Pancholi stated offensive remarks at the lawyers and threw humiliating words at a sub-inspector while he was made to sit in order to wait for the magistrate. The actor's comments had to do with the appearances of the lawyers, their height and the colour of their hair. He even went over the board by telling one of the lawyers that most of them have come from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in rigorous hunt for jobs. (Source)
July 2015: Aditya Pancholi’s bad acting pisses director Sanjay Leela Bhansali off on Bajirao Mastani set.
August 2015: Aditya Pancholi slapped co-actor Vije Bhatia on set of their upcoming film, 'Lakhon Hain Yahan Dilwale'.
November 2015: The Supreme Court asked Pancholi to vacate rented Juhu bungalow, hand over its possession to the legal owner and pay arrears.
November 2016: Aditya Pancholi sentenced to one year jail for assaulting neighbour Pratik Pasrani and breaking his nose at their building in 2005.
2017: Aditya Pancholi filed 4 defamation cases against Kangana Ranaut and her sister, after she spoke about their abusive relationship on Aap Ki Aadalat.
January 2019: Aditya Pancholi has been charged for allegedly threatening a car mechanic, who says Pancholi refused to pay him the Rs 2.8 lakh he is owed.
June 2019: Kangana Ranaut files lawsuit against Aditya Pancholi for rape, criminal intimidation, wrongful confinement, extortion

It blows my mind that in spite of this long list of shitty behavior, Pancholi still walks free. It's a shocking reminder of how ruthlessly Bollywood treats outsiders like Sushant, Kangana by blacklisting them from projects and targeting them as troublemakers, unprofessional, sexual deviants, etc. while they carefully support their abusive, criminal friends and family.
Recently Sanjay Leela Bhansali has supported Sooraj Pancholi in relation to SSR's case. SLB said "he has ‘no airs about being a star son. I must say Zarina and Aditya have done a good job of bringing him up." Not many know that the Pancholis and Bhansali live in the same building, though on different floors. Aditya Pancholi’s wife Zarina Wahab and SLB’s mother Leela are best friends. (Source)
India's police, legal and political systems are also super corrupt for this guy to still get bail. This raises hard questions about the ability of Mumbai police to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of Sushant Singh Rajput's case. It's about time audience wakes up and calls out their bullshit!
submitted by VieuxCarre38 to BollyBlindsNGossip [link] [comments]

Lost in the Sauce: Trump Tower inflated profits to obtain larger loan...again

Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater… or a global health crisis.
TOMORROW: I’m going to post a keep_track look at issues involved in police brutality, prosecution of cops, protests, etc.


Trump announced Saturday he is postponing the annual G7 summit, which was due to be hosted in the U.S. in June, until September — and plans to invite four additional non-member nations including Russia. Boris Johnson responded by saying that he will veto any push by Trump to readmit Russia to the G7 gathering.
The U.S. National Security Agency says the same Russian military hacking group that interfered in the 2016 presidential election has been exploiting a major email server program since last August or earlier. The NSA might have issued an advisory to publicize the IP addresses and a domain name used by the Russian military group, known as Sandworm, in its hacking campaign — in hopes of thwarting their use for other means.
A Russian oligarch is reportedly backing an effort to smear Biden and states he is working with the Trump administration to leak additional damaging material… The oligarch, Oleksandr Onyshchenko, gave tapes of Biden on a phone call with then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to pro-Russia Ukrainian politician Andriy Derkach, who then leaked the tapes. The audio consisted of edited fragments of phone conversations from years ago when Biden joined other leaders in pressing for the ouster of Ukraine’s corrupt prosecutor general.
  • Derkach met with Rudy Giuliani last year. Onyshchenko worked with another Giuliani associate, Pavel Fuchs (also a co-developer of Trump’s Moscow Tower), to launder hundreds of millions in frozen Yanukovych assets bought from a Russian tycoon. Now, this same group of oligarchs tied to Trump and Giuliani are leaking tapes of unknown provenance to try to undermine a US political campaign.
  • Pro-Trump One America News Network wanted Onyshchenko to come to the US to help with Rudy's disinformation campaign. OAN tried to help him get a visa to travel to the U.S.
Giuliani is also trying to raise $10 million to finance the production of a Biden-Ukraine documentary that can be released this year. Giuliani and his partners have considered the possibility of drawing in investors from overseas, raising the possibility that Giuliani is (again) attempting to orchestrate foreign involvement in the current presidential election.

Flynn-Kislyak transcripts

Last week, the DNI office released the transcripts of the December 2016 calls between former national security adviser Michael Flynn and then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak… The transcripts confirm that Flynn lied to the FBI when he claimed that he had not discussed the sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration in response to Vladimir Putin’s attack on the 2016 election.
The transcripts show Flynn encouraged the Russians to not retaliate severely, suggesting that when Trump took office things between Moscow and Washington could be smoothed over… At no point does Flynn castigate Kislyak for Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election. As the Obama administration was trying to impose a punishment on Putin for that attack, Flynn, on behalf of the Trump gang, was sending an utterly different message: We don’t care about that.
  • In fact, Flynn was signaling to Putin that once Trump took office, Trump wouldn’t be pursuing the matter and, instead, would be reaching out to Russia as a partner. (A few months later, Trump, in the Oval Office, would tell Kislyak that directly.)
Kisylak argued that the Obama administration sanctions were aimed at damaging the incoming Trump administration just as much as they were the Kremlin… “I just wanted to tell you that we found that these actions have targeted not only against Russia, but also against the president elect,” said Kislyak, adding that he hopes “within two weeks we will be able to start working in [a] more constructive way.
Tidbit: Mueller’s team asked Trump a series of questions about Flynn's calls with Kislyak; the president simply ignored them.
Tidbit: Flynn told Kislyak in December 2016 that "the boss" (Trump) was aware of Russia's request to have a secure teleconference between Trump and Putin.

Personnel issues

The FBI's top lawyer Dana Boente was asked to resign on Friday following criticism by Fox News for his role in the investigation of Flynn… Two sources familiar with the decision to dismiss Boente said it came from high levels of the Justice Department rather than directly from FBI Director Christopher Wray.
  • Before he moved to the FBI General Counsel job, Boente was the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia—the last US Attorney appointed by President Obama to leave office during the Trump era.
Trump’s given reason for firing the State Dept. Inspector General last month was proven to be a false pretense… Trump claimed he was fired for leaking to the media when, in fact, IG Steve Linick was cleared earlier this year by an independent investigation. Pompeo recommended Linick’s removal at a time when the office was investigating multiple instances of abuse of power by the Secretary of State.
Members of three House and Senate committees will interview former State Department Inspector General Steve Linick on Wednesday, as part of an investigation into his abrupt firing. Linick will speak to members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee behind closed-doors.
  • The committees also plan to call Brian Bulatao, undersecretary of State for management; Lisa Kenna, Pompeo's executive secretary; senior adviser Toni Porter; Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper; former Deputy Assistant Secretary Marik String, a legal adviser to the department; Deputy Assistant Secretary of Political-Military Affairs Mike Miller; and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Charles Faulkner.
Mike Pompeo's CIA advisory board rankled agency veterans… As CIA director, Pompeo and his wife Susan organized an undisclosed board of outside advisers while he was director of CIA that some at the agency viewed as inappropriately weighted toward wealthy individuals and well-connected political figures.
Op-Ed: Mike Pompeo Is the Worst Secretary of State Ever. The F.B.I. said a Saudi Air Force trainee who killed three U.S. sailors and wounded eight others at a Navy air base in Pensacola, Fla., on Dec. 6 was an act of foreign-planned “terrorism.” ...That sort of intelligence failure — the first foreign-planned terrorist attack on U.S. shores since 9/11 — is something you’d expect Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to be particularly upset about… He just smirks and marches on. But every American should care. The morale and effectiveness of our State Department — and our standing in the world — are both the worse for him.
Last week we learned that the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general exaggerated his credentials… Joseph Cuffari’s official government bio claims “Dr. Cuffari earned a Ph.D. in philosophy,” but new reporting revealed that his degree is from an unaccredited “diploma mill” that required no classroom instruction and issued degrees for low flat fees. Additionally, the Ph.D. is in management, not philosophy.


Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday about the origins of the Russia probe. "Mr. Rosenstein will testify about the new revelations contained in the Horowitz report concerning the FISA warrant applications and other matters," Chairman Lindsey Graham said in a statement. "This will be the first in a series of oversight hearings regarding all things Crossfire Hurricane and the Mueller investigation."
  • Reminder: After Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein begged for his job, reportedly trying to assure President Trump that he was on his team. “I give the investigation credibility,” Rosenstein[said on a call with Trump. “I can land the plane.”
Top Republicans are suing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over new proxy voting plans that will allow some members of the House to vote from home amid the coronavirus pandemic. The decision to allow proxy voting was approved by the House earlier this month, largely along party lines, and is only temporary.
House Republican introduces bill to hold up members' pay if they vote by proxy… Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.), who is leading the effort, said: “Outsourcing the duty of a member of Congress is unconstitutional and wrong. House members should not be allowed to send someone else to do their jobs for them.”
Last week, Trump unexpectedly withdrew his support from a FISA reauthorization bill, leading Republicans to abandon the proposal and the House to pull a vote on the legislation. However, as Rep. Justin Amash pointed out, in 2018 Trump himself signed into law the long-contentious spying authority he recently began railing against.

Judicial news

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham urges senior judges to step aside before the November election so Republicans can fill vacancies… Graham said:
“This is a historic opportunity. We’ve put over 200 federal judges on the bench. … If you can get four more years, I mean, it would change the judiciary for several generations. So if you’re a circuit judge in your mid-60s, late 60s, you can take senior status, now would be a good time to do that, if you want to make sure the judiciary is right of center…”
  • Op-Ed: Should Trump lose, you can bet that the day after, McConnell will be on the phone to the White House Counsel’s Office demanding that they nominate someone for every vacant seat, ASAP. It won’t matter who — somebody’s neighbor, somebody’s nephew (there isn’t even a requirement that judges be lawyers) — so long as they’re committed conservatives, and as young as possible so they can serve for decades
Democratic lawmakers are scrutinizing one of President Donald Trump’s outside advisors and his multimillion-dollar “dark money” network for rigging the judicial nomination process… The Senate Democrats’ report details how an interlocked group of anonymous donors has been directing the judicial nominations process through media and lobbying campaigns. Leading this effort is allegedly Leonard Leo and his conservative organization, the Federalist Society.
The Supreme Court late Friday rejected a California church’s challenge of the state’s new pandemic-related rules on worship services, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s liberals in the 5-to-4 vote… Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s dissent falsely accused the state of religious discrimination in an extremely misleading opinion that omits the most important facts of the case. Roberts went out of his way to scold Kavanaugh’s dishonest vilification of the state.


DOJ memo offered to buy out immigration board members… The buyouts were only offered to Board of Immigration Appeals members hired before Trump took office. Critics view the move as an effort to push out the civil servants on the board and stack it with new hires who would align with the Trump administration’s restrictive immigration agenda.
An immigrant woman sued a private prison company on Wednesday alleging she was raped inside an ICE detention center in Texas that resulted in her giving birth to her attacker's daughter. The woman, identified in the complaint as Jane Doe, was detained at the Houston Processing Center, operated by CoreCivic.
The Trump administration is accelerating efforts to seize private property for Trump’s border wall, taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to survey land while its owners are confined indoors. However, landowners are largely fighting the effort in court. Since December, the administration has obtained only seven miles of land.
Family separation returns under cover of the coronavirus… Citing the coronavirus to seal the border, the Trump administration is engaged in a pressure campaign against immigrant parents to get them to give up either their kids or their legal claims to protection in the U.S.

Trump corruption

Trump Tower’s 2010 Profits Magically Grew By $3 Million In New Loan Filings. One set of reports listed the tower’s 2010 profits as $13.3 million; a second put them at $16.1 million. That helped the Trump Organization borrow $73 million more than it had before.
Last year, ProPublica revealed another set of income discrepancies at Trump Tower and other company-owned buildings, ones that seemed to hark to the testimony of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who testified that Trump would inflate income figures when seeking a loan and deflate the figures when filing taxes. Other Trump Organization properties investigated by ProPublica reported higher profits in the CMBS filings than they did in tax filings. A Trump Organization spokesperson said at the time that “comparing the various reports is comparing apples to oranges” because reporting requirements differ.
Trump Towers Istanbul partner lobbied the president and White House cabinet to sizably boost trade with Turkey in response to the novel coronavirus. Asked whether the president performed favors for a business associate, a senior White House official emphasized the longstanding trade relationship with Turkey, a NATO ally.
Lawmakers urge Trump to cancel DC's July 4 event… "Given the current COVID-19 crisis, we believe such an event would needlessly risk the health and safety of thousands of Americans," the lawmakers wrote. "Further, this event would come at the cost of millions of taxpayer dollars while we are facing an unprecedented economic downturn due to the pandemic," they added.
The Republican National Committee held its winter meeting in January at Trump’s struggling Doral golf resort, giving Trump more than half a million dollars from the RNC and 13 state GOP committees. The state Republican party committees of West Virginia, Texas, Connecticut, Minnesota, Iowa, North Carolina, Alabama, Colorado, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Georgia, and Wyoming all contributed to the massive tab.
Trump’s Spent Nearly $20 Million on Lawyers to Carry Out His Political Vendettas… A large part of recent spending is aimed at curbing mail-in voting.
submitted by rusticgorilla to Keep_Track [link] [comments]


That reminds me of a story.
Yeah, Es and I are still in Dubai. We’re still going slowly out of our minds.
It’s gotten so bad that I actually leave our suite now and again to wander the hotel (too bloody hot to go outside) actually looking around to see if there’s anything to alleviate this tedium.
Maybe, even find someone to talk with…
Yes. Gad. I’m that bored.
Sure, I’m writing about 10-15 very technical pages a day, rounding up my references, bashing out bibliographies and other such scholarly shenanigans for the articles I’ve been asked to publish on my way to my next degree.
But, c’mon, man. I need a fucking break now and again.
And to focus on something greater than 20” away from the tip of my nose.
And there’s nothing here that immediately looks like it needs demolition. Not a blasting cap super-booster or keg of dynamite in sight. I’d wager you couldn’t rustle up a single kilo of C-4 if your life depended upon it.
“Klytus. I’m bored.” And “Forward: Drink!” sort of go together.
So, once again I’m sitting in the Seeker’s Lounge in the Gold Market Bar of the JW Marriott Hotel, in the air-conditioned patio section of course, drinking cold potato juice and citrus cocktails, with lime wheels, of course. Wild Turkey 101 Rye on the side, and full-pint Little Kings Cream Ale beer chasers, hiding from the brutish realities of this increasingly intensely foul year, two thousand and twenty, CE.
The bar is almost empty, save for the bartender and one or two unidentifiable expats growling about the lack of flights, and the ridiculous stringency the airport has saddled travelers with in this age of Pandemic Phobia and COVID Craziness.
I’m smoking my usual double Churchill cigar, having a sip or eleven, lazily looking around the drinking establishment and out over the next-door hotel pool.
The pool is fucking huge.
It extends from the inside, under a half-wall, to the outside of the 29th floor. I’ve been in it on occasion, but venturing outside, nearly 300 feet in the air in a glass-bottomed puddle, sort of overwhelms my inner ear. And my desire to continue metabolizing.
It really does get me all vexed and vertiginous.
So, I reserve my laps for the Jacuzzi in our suite.
That’s a joke, by the way. It’s not that large.
Close. But not quite.
There’s a family outside on the pool veranda. A very handsome African family with the obligatory couple of kids running around, screaming and generally confirming my desire to stay inside where it’s air-conditioned and the drinks are cold and close.
Well, kids will be kids. One is approximately 15 or 16 and the other is 8 or 9. I spoke briefly with Workneh Chernebereck, the patriarch of the family. He was looking rather lost after he wandered into the bar in his flip-flops, bathing attire, and robe.
Pool service here is abysmal with the lockdown and overall 15% hotel occupancy in Dubai right now.
He slowly shuffled in. Since I was the first one he saw, he came over and asked if I thought he could get a couple of cold drinks for him and his family.
“I guarantee it”, I said and gave Shabdiz, the redoubtable Pakistani bartender, the high sign.
Shabdiz came over and with a thumb over the shoulder, I said to give this guy what he wants and put it on my tab.
I’m very gregarious when someone else is paying the bills.
He orders a selection of soft drinks for his family and I tell him that it’s OK here if you want a beer or something stronger by the pool.
“Yeah, it’s a Muslim country, but when there are dollars involved, they tend to look the other way.” I smiled. “You have any proscriptions against drinking alcohol?”
“No, sir. None. ”, he replied.
“Good. Well first, cut out that “sir” shit. Call me Rock.” I smiled and extended my non-cybertronic hand.
‘Work’, as he liked to be called, beamed a dazzlingly-white smile as we shook hands and I offered him a cigar. Work was amazing. Very, very dark; and muscled like a pile of boulders stacked one atop the other. But soft-spoken and evidently educated.
He smiled and accepted my hand. He also grinned canyon-widely when I ordered him a quick beer.
“The wife will never know”, I said in an otiose conspiratorial manner.
Work was from Ethiopia originally but was now in Dubai with his family as he was just hired to be a department manager or something like that for some global telecommunications concern.
“First time an ex-pat?” I asked.
“Oh, yes, sir...umm…Rock”, He said, “I have to admit, it is somewhat disorientating.”
“Schooled in the UK, were we?” I grinned.
“Yes. How did you know?” he asked and sipped his beer while Shab went to get the soft drinks.
“Most normal people would say ‘disoriented’. Brits always add a few extra syllables when words aren’t long enough, evidently.” I say.
“You are correct. Manchester.” Work replies.
“I won’t hold that against you”, I chuckled and wondered where the hell Shab got off to. My glass was all dry and empty.
We laughed and chatted while Shabdiz scouted up some plastic tumblers with lids for the kids out by the pool. Work was a very interesting sort of character. Evidently, Ethiopia has much more in its history than just producing exquisite coffee.
I ask him how long they’ll be at the hotel and explain a bit of what Esme and I are up to. I’m sure Es would be interested in talking with Work and his wife, Moneereh and their two children, Yekameh and Zarrineh, in order of eldest to youngest.
Esme’s like that. She likes to meet new people, chat with them, and find out their story. Besides, she and Tash were in Ethiopia some years back for some American School All Invitational Track and Field thingy.
I scribble my room phone number on my business card.
“If you and Moneereh would like to have some dinner, my treat, just give us a call. My wife and I would enjoy the chance to talk with some new folks.” I said, handing Work my business card.
Work took my card, the drinks, which had now arrived, and replied:
“I will do so. Please to expect a call in the soon time.” He smiled as he headed for the door.
I didn’t know or care if he would. It was a pleasant little diversion for a few minutes. I wouldn’t mind Es and me having dinner with them if the ‘soon time’ came soon enough.
I looked out to the veranda, and Work was pointing my direction as his kids grabbed the drinks and demolished the bowl of bar nibbly bits I sent out with him.
He waved to me. Moneereh waved to me. I waved back.
It was a nice little diversion in a series of long, uneventful diversionless days.
I sat at the bar, drank my drink, smoked my smoke, and futzed with this new Dell Latitude 7424 Rugged Extreme computer I got in Dubai Duty-Free.
Esme said it matched our luggage. I was looking for a new portable and well, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquis of Salisbury is your mother’s sister’s husband.

So, I sat at the bar, enjoying another cold libation, a new cigar from the hotel’s walk-in humidor, and playing around with my new toy. I had already transferred the few hundred gigs of dissertation data over and was spending some time fucking around with Zotero and Mendeley. I looked up every now and again to see what Work and his brood were doing.
They were out enjoying the Dubai sun and heat, as they found the hotel, kept at a brisk 26C ‘a bit too chilly for them’.
Gads. They must have lived on the sun if they find this hotel anything but uncomfortably warm.
I note that the lifeguard chair out by the pool is empty. Shabdiz brings me another tot and I ask him about that.
“Shab, last time I went for a swim, there was this asswipe of a lifeguard. Said I couldn’t smoke around the pool. He shut up and left me alone when I pointed out the ashtrays strewn about the deck.” I remarked.
“Yay. Todd. He’s a gomer, that soulless fucker. Never there. Always out getting baked. You know, the ganja man? He’s a pothead. Hotel don’t care because it’s so empty. Most bosses out anyway vacationy.” He relates to me.
“That’s seriously fucked,” I replied and tipped my glass his direction.
“Thanks, boss” Shabdiz says, “It is, how you say, very dusty here today.”
He helps himself to a top-shelf tot on my tab.
I’ve either trained the hotel staff well or I’m a real bad influence on them.
Either way, it keeps my drinks full and iced and my ashtrays empty.
I return to my translations. Damn, my Russian’s gone all to hell and back. Still, it’s keeping me occupied and I have to read these bloody .ПДФ files anyways…
A couple of hours later, I glance over at the pool and see Work and company have departed. I suddenly realize I haven’t visited the euphemism for a couple of hours and my bladder’s sending out an urgent SOS.
I call over to Shabdiz, “Gotta go make a fatter bladder flatter, Shab. Watch my shit for me while I’m gone?”
“Sure, Doc”, San smiles, “Awfally thirsty work watching your shit…”
“Go ahead, you pirate.” I laugh and head off to the head. He taps another tot off the top-shelf for himself.
I’m gone a few minutes. No hurry, quick comb through the locks, a quick comb-comb-comb of the beard and I’m looking my Grizzly Adams best.
Which isn’t all that good. But I care not, he says.
I wander back to the bar and the two ex-pats and Shabdiz are staring out the bar window toward the pool.
“What’s up? I ask. “Another clandestine nude photoshoot?”
“Naw, man”, Shabdiz says, “Looks like a kid’s over in the deep end of the pool. Maybe being in trouble all lonesome there by herself.”
I look out and see a small African child thrashing in the deep end of the pool, obviously in way over her head.
“Holy shit! It’s Zarrineh!”, I say. I tear off the Stetson and toss it on the bar. I rip off my watch and hand Shabdiz that and my wallet.
“Hold these!”
I didn’t wait for an answer.
I was gone as fast as my scarred and battle-worn carriage would allow.
I hit the pool doors, flung them open, and did a pretty creditable aging Johnnie Weissmuller maneuver into the pool.
One thing about being from Baja Canada and growing up cheek-by-jowl with the greatest of the Great Lakes. Everyone there knows how to swim like the state fish, the mighty muskellunge, by the time they can walk.
I am no exception.
I may be old, beat-up, MS-addled, scarred, keloided, and road-weary, but I can swim like a goddamned narwhal.
Take that, Johnny Tremain.
I was under the divider and suddenly outside, some 300’ directly above the distant pavement in a motherfucking glass-bottomed pool.
Fuck that. There’s a kid in danger. That’s my first priority.
Two strokes later, I’ve got her around the waist, facing away from me. I’ve enough natural buoyancy to keep both of us out of the danger zone; even though she’s thrashing around and clearly panicked.
All those years of API RP T-7 offshore survival training and HUET drills come flooding back like a tsunami.
“Zarrineh! I know your father! Calm down. I’m a trained rescuer, not some dingbat off the boardwalk. Settle down, I’ll get us out of here. But you’ve got to help me. Now, Zarrineh, chill out or whatever you kids say these days. I got you. Let me do my thing” I said, in calm, clear, reassuring registered tones.
She turns to look at me.
I’m surprised she didn’t faint or go completely bananas.
I must have been a sight. A sodden, soaking, gray 1/3rd of ZZ Top.
“I’m a very young Ethiopian child and this old, very large, very white behemoth has me around the waist.” She must have been thinking.
“But he talks nice. I guess I’ll listen to him. Not much else I can do.” I would suppose her inner dialogue was going.
She calmed down, and we just bobbed there for what seemed like a few minutes. It was actually probably all of 60 seconds, but I was doing a quick assessment to see if she swallowed any water and was going to dry-drown on me once I got her to the side.
“OK. That’s much better. Zarrineh. Are you OK? Swallow any water? Can you breathe OK?” I asked.
“Yes. Sir. I’m OK. No water. Just got too deep so fast. Floor is slippery. Now I’m OK sir”, she said, much calmer.
“Call me Rock”, I said. “Let’s get out of here. I’ll swim backward and hold you, you just go along with the flow. OK?” I asked.
“OK, Rock. We go.”, she said, absolutely calm.
I slowly paddled over to the divider, and we slipped silently under. The water’s much shallower here and I just kind of instinctively sort of aim for the side when my feet hit bottom. A few more feet and I can stand up.
I gently undo my death-grip on her and stand up. I pick her up bodily and set her, feet-first, on the side of the pool.
“Give me a minute”, I say, “I’m an old cigar smoker. It takes me a minute to work up a head of steam to get out.”
I get out and take her over to a poolside lounge chair.
I have her sit and I go over her vitals, as best as observation and inquiry allow. She hadn’t aspirated any water nor had any in her lungs, that much was clear. She looked scared but OK.
“Looks like I got there just in time”, I said.
“It got so deep so fast”, she said. “I’m a good swimmer and told daddy I’d stay on this side of the pool. There was even a lifeguard here. He left, and I didn’t think it was so slippery and deep.” She said, somewhat shakily.
“See?”, I said, “Your parents set rules for reasons. But, you’re OK and I’ll bet you won’t do that again.”
I give the high sign to Shabdiz for him to call hotel security.
There’s supposed to be a lifeguard here.
Someone’s just catapulted himself onto my shit list.
“So, you’re OK. That’s the main thing. Bet I scared you when you were thrashing around out there. The look on your face when I grabbed you was priceless”, I chuckled.
“I was scared. Ascared of drowning and scared of you. You’re so big and old and…hairy. And white. Then you grabbed me…” she said, stiffening a bit.
“Yeah, hey. I’m all that”, I chuckled.
“But you knew my name. You said you knew my daddy. Then I didn’t have ascared anymore. I knew I was OK.” She smiled at me.
Fuck if something tough inside didn’t melt a little at that declaration.
“That’s what’s important.” I said, “Ah, blast. Could you hand me that towel?”
She did and I ripped off my left-hand glove.
My new techno-digits are supposed to be waterproof, but that’s yet to be seen. Shower? OK. Jacuzzi? No worries. Full-on laps in the pool? Ummm…
I removed the sodden leather glove and dried off my Kevlar-ed faux-fingers…

“Nope”, I exhale heavily, “Everything’s OK.”
Zarrineh stares mouth-agape at my left hand. She sees all the keloids, the scarring, the mangled paw, and those outrageous black fingers in that ever so white hand.
“Oh, sorry. Industrial accident. Years ago. These are new, just got them. Still trying to figure them out.” I say.
She stands and stares.
“Don’t be scared. They’re just replacements for the ones I lost in Russia years ago.” I said.
“What do they do?” She asks.
“Same things yours do, just a bit faster and more strongly”, I said, flexing them so she could see how they work.
“That is so cool! Wait until I tell Yekameh!” she squealed, “I got rescued by a robot man.”
“Cyborg-American, if you please.” I chuckled.
Right at that moment, a certain Todd showed up.
He walks right past us and heads towards his chair.
“Hey, Chuckles. You work here?” I asked.
“Well, duh!”, he scoffs.
“Were you supposed to be on duty over the last hour?” I asked.
“Yeah. There wasn’t hardly no one here. I left for a bit.” He slurred.
“Oh, really. You always leave when there are young kids alone in the pool?” I quizzed him.
“There weren’t no one here”, he said with bacon-shot eyeballs.
“You were out getting high, weren’t you?” I asked.
“Yeah. So the fuck what?” he scoffed.
“The fuck about doing your job, asshole. I usually don’t swim in a Hawaiian shirt and Chinos, you prolapsed fuckhole. I was in the bar and saw Zarrineh here drowning in the deep end. I had to jump in to get her before she died. That’s what the fuck about, you shithead sumbitch!” I growled.
“Ah, yeah? One less pickaninny, more or less. Big deal.” He scoffed and tried to turn to leave.
“YOU SORRY COCKSUCKER!” I roared, reached out and grabbed him by the neck.
He was such a fucking pipe stem, I swear my new fingers could have wrapped twice around his scrawny collar.
I lifted this asshole bodily off the ground, by the throat.
I dragged him to within 10 centimeters of my face and snarled:
“You want to ever take another goddamned breath, you apologize to this young lady like your life depends on it. Because it fucking damn well does!” I snarled.
I hadn’t been this seeing-red angry for many, many years.
It was most refreshing.
“I’m so..sorr…sorry…” he croaked.
“Um, Rock, I think you’re crushing his little neck bones there”, a voice from behind me says.
I turn to look and it’s Work.
“This cocksucker…out getting high…Zarrineh was in trouble…he…made me angry. Very angry indeed.” I said.
‘That we can see”, Work says, “Zarrineh’s OK, Rock. Let it go.”
“’ Let it go?’ What a great idea.” I said, walked over to the pool and threw the miscreant as hard as I could at the wall divider.
Fucking gravity got the better of the situation. Either that or I’m losing my arm. Whatever the case, he made a sufficiently satisfactory splash upon re-entry.
“Asshole!”, I spat in his general direction.
He was already crawling out of the pool, on the opposite side, and slinking away like the soggy ferret he was, towards his perch.
“Yeah, you fucking Jobbernowl! Like now is a good time to watch an empty pool. You clodpate!” I go all archaic when I’m really spitting angry.
Work and Zarrineh are talking. I wander over, splotching over in my soaked shirt and sodden shorts.
“Rock, Zarrineh just told me. Thanks. Thanks so much, we owe you the world.” He said.
‘Well, probably wasn’t the brightest idea to leave her here alone.” I mentioned, cautiously. No need to add insult to near-miss injury.
“There was supposed to be a lifeguard here.” He said, “But You’re right. We’re all a bit muddle-pated with all the flying.”
“That’s a good word.” I chuckled, “However, all’s well that ends well. Let me go terrorize Todd a little more. That was fun. I haven’t had that much fun in a while.”
Work talks me out of having a spot more fun just as hotel security, a day late and a dollar short, shows up and asks “Right. What’s all this then?”
I tell the tale of how Todd was AWOL and Zarrineh, as any inquisitive 8 year-old would be, was checking things out. She got into a spot of bother, how I jumped in, and rendered aid.
“That’s all”, I said, “Except for that Todd motherfucker cowering over there!”
“Sir!”, the hotel security guard exclaimed."Language!"
“That’s right. I tossed that ignoramus knucklehead in the pool, only because I didn’t think to toss him off the fucking ledge first. After he was derelict of duty and very nasty and bigoted to this young lady.” I said.
“Is that so? And you are?” he asked.
“I’m the Motherfucking Pro from Dover, Scooter. I’m DOCTOR Rocknocker, a native of these here parts. And I don’t like skinny, little douchebag job-toking retards. Especially when they’re out fucking off, and leaving a child alone in a huge, dangerous pool.” I replied.
“Ah, yes. Doctor. Sorry, sir. Didn’t recognize you sopping. We’ll look into this. Thank you. “ he said and shuffled off Todd-ward.
Work and Zarrineh were sitting on a chaise lounge, and she was telling her daddy of the big, crazy-haired white guy that hit the water like an angry erne, grabbed her in the deep end, calmed her down and got her back to safety and out of the pool.
“All while Todd, the sorry…scumbucket, was out toking up.” I snarled Toddward.
He leaped back seeing me giving him the stick-eye.
“Rock”, Work, says, “What can I say? But I thank you. I owe you a huge debt. We owe you a debt that cannot be repaid.”
“Look, let’s your family and mine do dinner.” I say, “That way, we can call it even.”
“How is that even?” He asked.
“It’s even in my book”, I said, “Since I’m currently writing a book, that’s the way it is.”
Work looks at me puzzling. Zarrineh breaks the tension by mentioning to her dad that she was rescued by a robot-man.
I hold up my left hand and waggle my fingers.
“Industrial accident. Years ago. New techno-fingers. All your base are belong to us.” I chuckled.
Now Work thought I was really off the deep end.
We shook hands and I slogged back to the bar.
Shabdiz was there with the bar manager.
“We saw what you did.” The Arab manager, one Mohammad, said.
“Don’t worry. I don’t charge extra for the show.” I lamely replied.
“Shabdiz here watched your gear. Your bar bill is paid. We thank you.” he said.
“That’s mighty nice of you. Thanks. Twernt nothin’. I’d do the same for either of you.” I laughed. “Just make sure that Todd asshole finds employment elsewhere, like Afghanistan.”
I gathered up my gear and splooped off to the elevator.
“Ding dong”, dinged the doorbell.
My hands were full, I didn’t want to bother searching for the key.
“Yes? Rock, what the hell?” Es says as she opens the door.
“I was bored. I went swimming.” I replied.
“Get in here. You’re making a mess.” Esme commanded.
After changing into some dry duds, Es had a very tall, very cold libation waiting for me.
“OK, give”, she commanded.
So, I told her the story, in full three-part harmony.
“Whatta bastard.” She exclaimed, referring to Todd. “I’m surprised he’s still breathing.,”
“Yeah. Pity stayed my hand. It’s a pity I didn’t want to talk to the local constabulary if I killed him. At least, he’ll be off breathing somewhere’s else. He’s lost his job for certain. At most, he’s breathing on a jet plane, taking him back to Schmoeland or from wherever the fuck he originated”
“Good. Dubai’s got enough assholes as it is without importing more.” Es smiles.
Esme Rocknocker knows the score.
I go back to work on my dissertation/paper for ‘Precambrian Research’ magazine.
Esme is busying herself doing jigsaw puzzles.
I loathe and despise jigsaw puzzles. Long story. Remind me not to tell you about it some time.
The phone rings. It’s for me.
“Work! How are you and yours?” I ask.
“I am calling to see if you and your wife would like to meet me and my family in the Al Cadence restaurant around 1900 hours tonight. Our treat.” He asks.
“No. Sorry. Can’t make it tonight.” I reply.
“Tish tosh. Tomorrow?” He asks.
“Nope. Can’t do it.” I reply.
“OK, you tell me the time.” He says.
“Time’s got nothing to do with the situation. We’re not going if I’m not paying.” I said.
“Rock. You can’t. We owe you so much….we can’t let you pay” Work protests.
“I’m on retainer with a generous expense account and per diem,” I say.
Silence for two ticks.
“So, tonight at 1900 hours then. We’ll all be there.” He laughs.
“See you then.” I chuckle back.
“Esme! Break out your good Sunday-go-to-dinner duds. We’re going out and hit the town. Or a restaurant, actually.” I say loudly.
“With Work and Moneereh?” she asks.
“Yep. Should be interesting., They’re from Ethiopia. You and Tash were there, right?” I said.
“Oh, yes”, Es whooshes, “I remember their food. Holy wow! Was that hot!”
“Esme, my darling. You think ketchup is hot.” I replied.
“I remember you tearing up over that bottle of hot yellow-pepper sauce I brought back from Addis Ababa, so don’t go here.” She scolded.
She was right. That stuff was thermonuclear. Nice, fruity, and 6.023x106 Scovilles. It hurt so good.
“Hmmm…better check the restaurant. See the cuisine de jure." I said. “Hope it’s not TexMex.”
“Remember, they might not drink. If they don’t, you can’t either. Wouldn’t be right.” Es admonishes.
“No worries, my dear. I’ve already done my homework. No such problems here.” I said, having already vetted the situation in the bar with Work.
“Good.” She replies, “But remember now, if they order a well-done steak, it’s not polite to toss them out of a high window.”
“Of course, of course. “ I replied, “I’ll just dangle them for a brief time.”
They ordered lamb and chicken that evening. Es had her a nice filet mignon.
They ruined all my fun. Although it was a splendid evening.
Zarrineh insisted I show her sister my electro-digits. “They’re so cool.”
Yekameh was less than impressed. “Nice.”
Teenagers. Am I right?
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Tea Leaves, Pork Futures, and chickens running loose. A brief update.

Previous Post:
First, we skipped yesterday. Why did we skip yesterday Diicembr? Well, yesterday was boring boring boring, AND it fit right in with our model, which for reminder is that we're in the float before the fall. Or, since everyone likes Pictures:
So, we have some due diligence to start looking at:
Super Interesting, the fed is going to try and make it illegal to shut down a commercial factory? This will be interesting to watch play out.

Chicken problems affecting India too:

Potatos and Onions affected:

Oil Has crashed, and continues to look poor:

Over extended models (like airbnb) feeling the squeeze:

Evictions bans being used to hide the mess under the rug for the time being:
and evictions are happening anyways:

Somewhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of mortgage deferments:

We got a stimulus, and as predicted, the larger companies are having an easier time getting millions of dollars than the small companies are getting thousands.
Even Basketball players got money faster than small businesses:
Meanwhile small businesses:

And Jobs? What jobs? 26+ million unemployed, over 20%+, and its not like its going back up tomorrow.

Don't worry though, if we start having record jobs growth right away, it'll only take up 95.23 years to re-hire 26 million people!

Remember when we started talking about states running out of money, and needing to steal it from other programs just to make an extra payment or two? Nah, just file bankruptcy, duh

So we're pretty much on track for exactly what we thought. Meanwhile the Gov't has promised unlimited QE spending to fix this, but...cut unlimited in half? Hey, if it sounds good in the presser at 5pm, :stonks go up:

So. Where does that put us? Well. No where exciting. The days continue exactly as previously stated, trends of 1-2% green, and 1.5% negative, although we did see about a 10% bump in volume today at 105m. We did have a super exciting night last night, if you're on a platform with real after-hours market info (no, not Robinhood). So far tonight we're seeing another similar movement in the post market, but we'll see if holds up tomorrow or produces anything meaningful. We did notice a pretty solid rejection of SPY 290 today, and if I were a betting man I'd put tomorrow red too, and maybe starting a leg to re-test the 270 region.
But, because we're firmly in our model, and our signals are lining up, we're really in a 'wait and hold' pattern. That's OK, you can make some monies here and there off smaller movements. Remember, we're not invested one way or the other with if it should crash, we're just watching indicators, which are still on track for some time in the next 1.5-3.5 weeks. We're also about to really ramp into the first month we're expecting to see more and more about rent/mortgage problems, and mortgages can tumble the markets quick if 2007 taught us anything.
edit: I forgot to add, if we do see some sort of monthly stimulus, we should expect this to fuck with our timeline quite a bit. Free moneys though!
For now, we wait. Happy hunting.

tl:dr The pins are starting to get placed on the lane markers, now we're just waiting for the ball to arrive up the mystery chute the balls come out of. Why do bowling shoes always fit so weird?
edit edit: for you people who can't see the real after-market stuffs. edit edit edit: updated the overnight market picture. Fancy charts and shit.
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A Lengthy, Comprehensive Analysis of “The Last of Us: Part II”’s Controversy, Responding to Prominent Criticisms, and Discussing Criticisms of My Own

About a month ago, I wrote a post to provide some clarity regarding the leak Naughty Dog sprung about a month ago. In it, I addressed some of the criticisms that were being levied at the time without unveiling any of the spoiled material, that way my curious spoiler-virgins would go unsullied until release day. There, I explained why all the major criticisms at the time weren't (and still aren't) warranted. Toward the end of the post, I noted that the outrage was not only political, but also emotional. I correctly predicted that there would be some spoiler-virgins that would not be pleased with the game's controversial narrative direction. I wish I'd been taking bets because not only was I right, I was right to an extent I never imagined. The response to this game has been chaotic, to say the least. This post will explore this phenomenon, directly respond to the most prominent criticisms and those who make them, and address my own criticisms of the game (as well as how I believe those flaws can be fixed).

Part 1: The Chaotic Controversy

I need to lay my cards on the table: I thought this was a fantastic game. Having purposefully indulged in the leaks back in April, I knew about every major death/plot twist before it happened, and I approached the story with an open mind. While I thought TLOU was a great game, TLOU2 blew me away with its darker, more complicated themes, the tiny details that collectively enrich the game's themes of gray morality, superb character interactions, the gosh diddly darn adorable relationship between Ellie and Dina, the endearing big sister-little siblings dynamic between Abby and Yara/Lev, and the excellently crafted set pieces that made each part of the game unique. I also loved the new gameplay mechanics that made stealth satisfying, such as crafting silencers for the pistol or taking cover in tall grass/ferns. It irks me to no end that such an obviously great game has received so much undeserved abuse. Can it be criticized? Of course it can. There's always room for criticism, but I think this is downright pathetic.
It should be noted that this avalanche of negative reception is not coming from a single body of grievances. It is, in fact, coming from up to at least three different factions. Sometimes there is crossover between factions, but a member of one faction should not be immediately assumed to belong to another.
Faction 1: "Get Woke, Go Broke!"- The Reactionaries
Not every person who dislikes/criticizes TLOU2 is a homophobe/transphobe/racist/misogynist. Make no mistake, though: there is a significant portion of "h8ers" that most certainly are angry at this game solely for its unapologetic progressivism. These are The Reactionaries. The anti-SJWs.The anti-feminists. The "YouTube skeptics". The traditionalists. Whatever you want to call them. Back in 2018, TLOU2 took E3 by storm with not only a gameplay trailer but also a front-and-center kiss between Ellie and Dina, marking a historic moment for LGBT inclusion in video games. While the explicit romance did receive some negative feedback from The Reactionaries1, the worst was yet to come. Fast forward to April of 2020. Naughty Dog sprung a devastating leak that revealed every card TLOU2 had up its sleeve. Controversy ensued, particularly around a new character named Abby, who was presumed to be male-to-female transgender due to her masculine features and silhouette. A contemptuous amount of abusive anti-transgender slurs and jokes were subsequently forwarded against Abby on places like 4chan, Reddit, and even YouTube. These assumptions ended up being bullshit, but that didn’t stop TLOU2 from solely representing itself. No, April 2020 was the moment this game became more than itself; it became a symbol for progressivism in high-profile video games–a perceived weapon in a culture war. If you think these people and their audiences only make up a small portion of this outrage mob, think again:
1Name: "Naughty Dog's SJW Agenda in Gaming Exposed"
Uploaded by: No B.S.
Views: 160,000+

Name: “Last of Us Part 2 Ending Leaks Reveal Progressive Agenda”
Uploaded by: No B.S.
Views: 70,000+

Name: “Last of Us 2 Influenced by SJW Anita Sarkeesian”
Uploaded by: No B.S.
Views: 100,000+

Name: “Last of Us 2 Spoiler Talk, This Gets Really Woke!”
Uploaded by: No B.S.
Views: 65,000+

Name: “LGBT Activists: The Last of Us 2 Needs MORE WOKE Representation!”
Uploaded by: Lauren Chen (Roaming Millennial)
Views: 30,000+

Name: “The Last of Us Part 2 LEAKS ONLINE | Another Franchise Falls To SJW Pandering”
Uploaded by: Geeks + Gamers
Views: 180,000+
Sometimes it seems like TLOU2 goes out of its way to stick it to these people, what with its female-driven narrative, unapologetic pro-LGBT stance, and racial diversity. It should be said that TLOU2’s progressivism is a neutral element in terms of how it contributes to the story’s quality, and the game should be neither defended or criticized solely on these grounds. It is, however, a heartening sign that these people’s neanderthalic values are dying out. Stay mad, you slobbering troglodytes.
To close this section, it is undeniable that this specific contention with TLOU2 is not in the minority of the overall controversy surrounding the game. If you are not a fan of this game for unrelated reasons, I’m afraid it is a fact of life that you are going to have to perpetually disavow and distance yourself from these people when you criticize the game. Some of The Reactionaries are wise enough to realize that “it’s bad because it’s woke” is a flimsy criticism, so they will cling to any other criticism that simultaneously grants them credibility and tears the game down, no matter how unwarranted or slanderous that criticism is. They are disguising themselves as one of you. If you are arguing about this game with someone, do not get mad at your interlocutor when they have to verify that your criticism doesn’t come from a place of bigotry, and stop pretending everyone is eager to use bigotry as a scapegoat that dismisses good-faith criticism.
Faction 2: “Neil Disrespected the Fans!” - The Entitled Fan
The Entitled Fan thinks TLOU2 is a poorly-written game simply because they did not like the themes it explores or the narrative direction it takes. Whatever it was they wanted, TLOU2 didn’t do it, so that means the game had bad writing!
Faction 2, on the surface, is similar to another group of people I dub “The Disappointed Fan”, but there’s a key difference that separates the two: whether or not they think the game was poorly written, and if they do think the game was poorly written, why they think the game was poorly written. The Disappointed Fan is not its own faction because they can fall into either Faction 3 (which I will discuss next) or Faction 2. When The Disappointed Fan falls into Faction 2, that is when they evolve into The Entitled Fan.
Before we proceed with my addressal of this faction, let me make something really clear: if you didn’t like the game because it wasn’t what you wanted it to be, this section doesn’t apply to you unless you think the game was poorly written because it wasn’t what you wanted it to be. Got that? This isn’t me calling you entitled just because the game disappointed you. With that said, let’s move on.
Never go into a piece of media with expectations.
Judging by a lot of the discourse I’ve seen regarding this game, many people were expecting to simply get more of what TLOU was, this time with prettier graphics. As such, I’ve seen several posts, videos, comments, etc. that keep comparing TLOU2 to TLOU, then criticizing it for not containing a certain element that was in TLOU.
“TLOU Ellie was funny, but now she’s not.”
“TLOU was about a blossoming father-daughter relationship, but TLOU2 shits all over that.”
“TLOU had Ellie’s immunity as a source of hope. TLOU2 is just nihilistic and depressing.”
“TLOU didn’t throw a character I don’t like at me and force me to play as her.”
Stop. Stop judging this game for what it’s not. Judge this game for what it set out to do and how well it did so.
So what did this game set out to do? TLOU2 sought to be a dark tragedy surrounding the true toll of violence on the end of the perpetrator and the recipient. It’s a tale showing how a tragedy blackened our plucky heroine into a beast aching for destruction which, in the end, only resulted in more tragedy. It’s a tale that explores how the heroes in our eyes may be the villains in the eyes of another and vice versa. Hot dog did it depict these themes with brutal proficiency. Whether or not you personally like these themes or the writer’s decision to explore them is irrelevant to the story’s artistic quality. To act otherwise is beyond annoying; it’s childish and entitled. Yeah, I said it. I think it’s outrageously entitled for someone to lash out at a writer for not writing a story the way they wanted it to be written.
I think TLOU2, for its depressing themes/atmosphere, is of a specific, bitter taste many may not find appetizing. That's fine. Personally, I get a thrill out of stories that take the Shakespearean tragedy angle because stories that give its protagonist(s) an undeservedly tragic ending are rare and particularly gutsy. I think this direction, on top of being unique, is fascinating... and most of all, especially fitting for a world like TLOU. Let me ask you something: did you honestly think this game was going to give Ellie or Joel a happy ending? TLOU has always been a grim series about the loss of everything people held dear. Their homes. Their security. Their family. Their friends. Their own lives. Those who are calling TLOU2 "ToNaLlY iNcOnSiStEnT" must've missed how TLOU depicted this inescapable aspect of this hellscape: it sucks for everyone, and nobody is safe! If TLOU2 never had the guts to pull off what it pulled off, the series as a whole would've wound up bankrupt of stakes and suspense. Who the hell’s going to care about an action scene if we knew the author couldn't scrounge up the temerity to disrobe the main characters of their plot-armor?
If you were disappointed that the game did not meet your expectations... I'm sorry. I genuinely am. It sucks when something you've been looking forward to ends up being different from what you were expecting. This is why I said what I said near the beginning of this section: never go into a piece of media with expectations. Chances are, they won't be fulfilled. Not only will expectations leave you disappointed, they'll also close you off to something you may have otherwise appreciated.
Unfortunately, many fans were already too emotionally attached to Ellie and Joel to possibly consider the idea that they're villains in another perspective (especially the latter). The game wasn’t even asking the players to like Abby and co. over Team Jackson; it just wanted you to at least acknowledge that Abby’s course of action was sympathetic in her perspective. There's nothing inherently bad about being emotionally attached to a character, but Jesus Christ is it frustrating when that emotional attachment makes people unreceptive to an unconventional narrative direction.
Naughty Dog decided to take a controversial, but fitting, route with the next chapter of TLOU, and whether some people like it or not, they did an outstanding job. No, the professional critics were not bribed by Sony. No, the defenders are not deliriously fooling themselves into liking the game because they spent years emotionally invested in the project. No, the defenders are not SJWs who “secretly know the game sucks but are defending it because it advances their political agenda”. We've simply looked beyond our emotional biases and saw this game for what it is: a nuanced, gut-wrenching tragedy. I'm sick of hearing otherwise from a bunch of entitled children who are too busy longing for a game that isn't there instead of analyzing the game that is.
Faction 3: “Why ‘The Last of Us: Part II’ Doesn’t Work” - The Good Faith Critics
The final hostile faction against this game are The Good Faith Critics. While they accuse TLOU2 of being poorly written, they do so not through an emotional or political lens, but through a critical lens. While I have counterarguments to almost all of their criticisms, Faction 3 tends to be the least toxic of the three factions. For that, I tip my hat to most of them for actually behaving like civil adults that are capable of having a critical discussion about TLOU2’s potential hiccups.
I will address their most prominent criticisms one-by-one in the next part of this post. But first I need to mention the last combatant in this bloody battleground:
The Opposing Side: The Professional Critics
While the audience response to TLOU2 is almost literally split straight down the middle, the professional response to has been overwhelmingly homogeneous in TLOU2's favor.
It has been a common sentiment that professional art critics/reviewers are pompous and not worth listening to–that their "professional opinion" is not worth more than the average Joe's. This sentiment stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of the job of a media critic. It is the job of critics and analysts to know how to take a story apart and understand what makes it tick. Once they've arrived at a proper diagnosis, they relay it to their audience. The audience can then make an informed decision over whether or not that movie/game/book/etc. is worth their time or money. Professional critics are supposed to abandon their personal opinions and emotions while reviewing a work and view it strictly through an analytical lens.
That said, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that almost all of this game’s praise is coming from the people who are specifically trained to disassemble and analyze the inner mechanisms of a story… and almost all of the antagonism is made by... oh, how do I put this... casuals who in large part have no interest or experience in the art of storytelling (in addition to the YouTubers who’ve realized they can make some sweet ad revenue off the outrage).
And no, I'm not siding with the critics here because they affirm my enjoyment of this game. There are plenty of cases in which I agree with critical praise for pieces of art I personally don't like, my favorite example being "Persona 5". I went into "Persona 5" with an open mind genuinely believing I'd fall in love with it. The opposite happened. I couldn't connect or empathize with the characters for the life of me. I thought the gameplay was restrictive and repetitive. I didn't like the jazzy music style. I didn't like the minimalistic, toon-shaded art style. Suffice it to say I don't like "Persona 5". However, despite my personal opinions on "Persona 5", I'd be insane to dare insist it is a bad game. While they failed to click with me, the characters were fleshed out, rarely written with inconsistent behavior, and had a ton of rich dialogue. While it's not to this metalhead's taste, the snazzy music is competently composed and played. The gameplay features unique mechanics that were sturdily programmed (i.e., very few bugs/glitches). "Persona 5" deserved every 5/5, 10/10, 90%+ score it got because it is a well-crafted game. Anybody who's honest should be able to say the same for TLOU2, regardless of whether or not they personally enjoyed it.
It is worth mentioning that there is a certain sect of the internet, usually those from Factions 1 and 2 (or both), that insist there was an under-the-table quid pro quo that occurred between Sony and major game reviewers. As I do with every conspiracy theorist I encounter, I’ll simply quote the late Christopher Hitchens to these people: “that which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
Let’s move on.

Part 2: Responding to Criticisms

"If I were to lose you, I would surely lose myself."
Joel's song at the beginning of the game foreshadows Ellie's spiral into darkness. The blackening of Ellie's personality over the course of the game was not bad or inconsistent writing, it was intentional and seamlessly executed. One of the first things that struck me as I played through the first few hours of the game was how consistent Ellie's dialogue was with the last game. As the game progresses, Ellie devolves into a restless, cold-blooded girl who is fixated on nothing but vengeance, even if that means throwing away a peaceful life. All of this culminates into one of the game's most important scenes, where Ellie finally realizes that her pursuit of revenge stripped her of everything she held dear–even herself.
A tragic hero at its finest.
I appreciated how TLOU2 starred a variety of characters that fall under the LGBT umbrella. Not only does it normalize LGBT people (which is good), it was also a refreshing change of pace that truly makes this game stand out. I also appreciated how TLOU2 had this sort of diversity without patronizingly pandering to these groups. TLOU2 treats every LGBT member of its cast as real people whose status doesn't make them exempt them from hardship. Dina and Ellie's disagreement is a component of this, for it is treated no differently than any straight couple's. They're not two lesbians who have a bitter end; they're two romantic partners who have a disagreement, which, believe it or not, happens to people in relationships. If Ellie were Elliot, the dynamic between him and Dina wouldn't have to be altered. That, friends, is how you write LGBT people: you don't treat them any differently than non-LGBT people!
I should briefly lay another one of my cards on the table: I approached Abby with an open mind, but also trepidation. Unexpectedly, she ended up becoming my favorite character from the franchise. What is discussed in my response to this particular criticism is part of the reason why.
Ellie and Abby are different people with different backgrounds. Unlike Ellie, Abby is a literal soldier who distinguished herself in the WLF as one of their top Seraphite killers. The result is a jaded girl who copes with trauma on an internal level; she bottles up her sorrows, seldom making them outwardly apparent. When her stoicism does slip, her insecurities usually escape in the form of snappishness2. No, this isn’t me desperately clawing to delegitimize this criticism. It is simply a fact that (and I hate to sound pretentious here) Abby is indeed a well-written but also complicated character that is difficult to read on a surface-level. Diagnosing her thoughts2,3,4, motivations5, reactions, and desires6 often requires a more attentive analysis, as they are rarely expressed in a straightforward manner (except in extraordinary circumstances). Here are some independent points that should paint a picture of what I mean:
2Abby: "Hey. Why have you been avoiding me?"
Mel: "I wasn't avoiding you."
Abby: "C'mon. You've barely said anything to me since Jackson."
Mel: "I don't know... I guess I was... Shook by Jackson too."
Abby: "You don't think Joel deserved what he got?"
Mel: "I think he deserved worse, I just... I just wish I didn't take part in it."
Abby: "I get it. What kind of person could do that, right?"
Mel: "I'm not saying that."
Abby: "Let's see if there's a way to the hatch."
Mel: "All right..."
This exchange from Seattle Day 1 more than suggests Abby has begun to internally acknowledge that the way she killed Joel was inhumanely brutal, and she’s already having second thoughts.
2. 3Since the player is not always directly told Abby’s thoughts, they are often relayed through dream sequences. Each of Abby’s dreams return her to the exact same hall in St. Mary's Hospital and end with her opening the door to the operating room where her father was murdered. The repetitiveness of these dreams communicates that Abby has never gotten over Jerry’s death, and it is constantly on her mind. This is further exemplified by her continued interest in collecting state quarters: one of the only connections she still has to her father. You'll notice, however, that Abby never speaks of this issue–not even to her friends. Compare this to Ellie, who is very open about her grief over the death of Joel.
3. 4At the end of Seattle Day 1, Abby finds Owen in the cabin cruiser at the aquarium. This is when Owen reveals his plan to travel to Santa Barbara to find the remaining Fireflies, a decision for which Abby chides Owen. We then get this exchange:
Abby: Sorry I grew up. You should try it.
Owen: Oh yeah? How do I do that, Abby? Should I go find the people who killed *my* family? Cut into 'em? I could torture them until they're crying in their own-"
Abby interrupts Owen violently, shoving him into the cabin’s walls. She does this because she knows what she did to Joel was cruel and perhaps unjustified, and she cannot bear to listen to Owen remind her of her monstrous actions. Their clash then shifts into a rough lovemaking session. This sex scene was not implemented arbitrarily; this is Abby trying to make the guilt go away. She’s desperate for any kind of temporary pleasure (like a night of coital bliss with the man she loves) that could distract her from her regrets. Unfortunately, this rash action ultimately exacerbates her guilt.
4. 5Abby’s motivations for returning to Yara and Lev are externally dubious. Some players may think Abby helped them out of pity or a sense of obligation since they saved her from being lynched. Mel suspects that Abby wanted to use the kids as a means to manipulatively gain the favor of Owen (who’d begun to grow sympathetic toward the Seraphites). In reality, it’s none of those things. Abby was motivated by a desire to cleanse herself of guilt. Guilt for animalistically torturing Joel to a degree that even made her friends uncomfortable2. Guilt for betraying Mel by sleeping with Owen. Guilt for not being there to save her father. The most beautiful part of Abby’s arc, I believe, is how these selfish motivations evolve into a fiercely protective fraternal love for Yara and Lev.
5. 6In the scene where Abby prepares to slice Dina’s throat, her enthusiastic “good” upon discovering that Dina was pregnant was born not out of sadism, but a grief-fueled desire for Hammurabian justice. This is a component of how she copes with losing her friend Mel, who was also pregnant. “Good”, in this instance, translates to: “oh, you killed my pregnant friend? Then I’ll kill your pregnant friend”. Lev, thankfully, pulls Abby out of her vengeful tunnel vision before she could follow through with the deed.
6. All of this is not to say Abby is 100% a hardened killer who never reacts to trauma in the moment; during gameplay, after you kill your first two Wolves as Abby, she is programmed to always exclaim: “oh shit… shit!” in a severely distressed tone. She is mortified that she is killing her own comrades to protect Lev.
Does this complex style of characterization make Abby difficult for many to empathize with? Probably. I can understand why many people are unreceptive to her semi-abrasive disposition, especially if they’ve already decided to hate her from the get-go. Is it impossible to empathize with her? Absolutely not, especially if you are willing to analyze her with an open mind. Does her polarizing depiction make her poorly written? Hell no. A well-written character is not always universally likable, and Abby is an exemplar of this. For her nuanced portrayal, subtle execution, endearing dynamic with Yara and Lev, and continued mercifulness toward Ellie, I think Abby is a remarkable (and woefully misunderstood) character.
While Ellie does hate Abby for killing Joel, she also hates Abby because she represents something Ellie has spent years wrestling with: what Joel did in Salt Lake City, an act for which Ellie has never forgiven Joel. It was never revealed to Ellie that Abby's quest to kill Joel was to avenge her father, so she has always operated under the notion that Abby and co. traveled to Jackson to avenge humanity, which had been robbed of its only chance at a cure. Thus, in Ellie's perspective, Abby is an agent of karma–the inevitable consequence of Joel's actions. Abby's very existence, to Ellie, is a reminder of how Joel took away her chance of making her life meaningful.
While drowning Abby, a glimpse of Joel strumming his guitar on his porch flashes through her mind. It isn't too long later in the game when it is revealed that this is a memory of the night Ellie makes her first conscious effort toward forgiving Joel for his selfishness. When Ellie releases Abby, this isn't her forgiving Abby; this is her forgiving Joel.
This particular criticism is so silly I almost consider it to tread in the “dishonest” territory. While TLOU2 is undoubtedly more violent than a bulk of its M-rated peers, it has most certainly not earned the crown of that category. Here is a fatality from “Mortal Kombat (2011)”, where Kung Lao drags his opponent crotch-first through a buzz saw until they’re sliced perfectly in half. Here is the first combat scene in “Bioshock: Infinite” where Booker DeWitt slams the face of a policeman into an operating Sky-Hook. Here is a scene from the beginning of “Resident Evil 2: Remake” where Elliot Edward’s hip is torn off his torso, entrails hanging out in all their glory. Here is a scene from “Spec Ops: The Line” where the player is revealed to have deployed white phosphorus on military relief efforts and civilians. For Satan’s sake, here is Joel getting his jaw torn off his face by a Bloater. This objection against TLOU2 is nothing more than a red herring that has been brought up and blown out of proportion for dishonest purposes. Since when were Gamers™ concerned about violence in video games? That’s the job of Karens and Republican politicians. If we take a step back from the outrage, we’ll see that the degree of violence portrayed in TLOU2 is not abnormal–if anything, it’s tamer than some of its contemporaries.
But even if TLOU2 were the most violent video game ever made, that has no bearing on whether or not the story is well-written. If anything, its exorbitant violence is justified since it actually serves a narrative and thematic purpose in this game, unlike the scenes I mentioned above (except “Spec-Ops: The Line”). In a story that focuses on the emotional consequences of horrendous acts the main characters perpetrate, violence is an excellent tool that adds stakes, highlights the ruthlessness of its world, and most importantly, shows the audience how traumatizing brutalization can be, which helps you empathize with distraught characters. If your stomach is too weak to handle this kind of violence, that’s fine, but it isn’t an objective mark against the game.
Frankly, I'm of the opinion that TLOU2 respects Joel by making him the most important figure in the entire game. Joel is at the center of everything. His morally gray legacy lives on in an adult Ellie, the privilege she gets to experience in her peaceful life with Dina, her pursuit of revenge, Abby's pursuit of revenge, and the continued misery the rest of the world faces with the Cordyceps fungus. Killing off a character is not always the end of that character’s role, and that’s especially the case with Joel. His presence, be it implicit or explicit, can be felt everywhere in the game. I believe this was an excellent way to handle a character as morally dubious as Joel. It wouldn’t be right if the story allowed him to live the rest of his life peacefully in Jackson–not after condemning humanity. Millions will continue to die and suffer because of what he did. However, it would also be cruel of the story to simply kill and leave him by the wayside. Selfish or not, he was still a grieving father who obeyed the urge to save the one he loved, something anyone can empathize with. Joel deserved death for his betrayal of humankind, but he did not deserve to be demonized. TLOU2, as demonstrated by the flashback sequences, treated Joel as anything but a villain.

Part 3: Criticisms From Yours Truly

It's time for me to lay down my shield and pick up my sword. Here we go!
A neat addition to the game was how human enemies call out to their fallen comrades by name. This humanizes the enemies and tremendously adds to the game’s exploration of the consequences of violence. However, this remarkable detail falls flat on its face thanks to one hiccup: names are repeated a lot. By the time Ellie killed her third Ashley, I was having a difficult time taking this detail seriously.
But that’s just a nit-pick. Time for me to break out the big guns. My biggest grievance with this game can be summed up in two words: Santa Barbara. Santa McFreaking Barbara. Like a malicious Cordyceps that hijacks the mind and distorts its host into something unrecognizable, the Santa Barbara segment takes TLOU2 and warps it until you have to keep reminding yourself you're playing the same game you were playing an hour ago. The characters it built. The message it built. The themes it built. It is all thrown out the window. Here's why:
1. The Rattlers and their portrayal betray the game's theme of ambiguous morality. The Rattlers are unapologetically sinister, what with how they enslave their captives with a degree of brutality that makes death preferable. They keep and taunt their captives even after they become mindless zombies, which is unjustifiably sadistic. They tie up and leave their misbehaving slaves to die in a macabre yard of decaying bodies that wouldn’t be out of place in the middle ages. Unlike the Seraphites or the WLF, both of which are shown to have sympathetic qualities, the Rattlers are blackened to the bone and indefensible. This results in the most explicit case of thematic inconsistency I've ever seen in any professionally-written story.
2. Finally, the worst offender: the time skip. While I felt a tense emotional investment in the Ellie vs. Abby fight in the theater, I felt the opposite during the Ellie vs. Abby fight on the coast of Santa Barbara, which was supposed to be the emotional peak of the story. Here's the difference between these two events:
-In the theater, I had a deep investment in both of the involved characters. I'd spent 25+ hours watching both girls brave the dangers of Seattle. I saw Ellie banter with Dina, cope with the trauma of losing Joel, discover a new type of infected, chase and beat the snot out of Nora, discover the Seraphites, kill Owen and Mel, and surrender to Abby to protect Tommy. I saw Abby's interpersonal drama with her WLF comrades, meet and bond with Yara and Lev, cross the bridges, descend deeper and deeper into the infected hotel, face the terrifying Rat King, refuse to move from Isaac's line of fire, and grieve after discovering her murdered loved ones. These were the characters I was with every step of the way as they seamlessly evolved during the trio of days in Seattle, and I wanted neither of them to get hurt by the end of it.
-On the shores of Santa Barbara, I didn't know who either character was. I guess Ellie helped Dina start a farmhouse and deliver a baby, dealt with chronic PTSD attacks, and shared a peaceful life with Dina and JJ on the farm, but I never saw any of that, so why should I care about the person these experiences made her into? I guess Abby had been enslaved, beaten, starved, and on the cusp of escape (only to be denied it), but I never saw any of that, so why should I care about the person these experiences made her into?
Whoever these new characters are, they're not the ones we spent the entire game getting to know. Those characters are long dead and gone, lost in the 1-2 years between Seattle Day 3 and the moment we first find Ellie in the farmhouse. As much as I hate to say it, the Santa Barbara segment, in only a mere hour, renders all the hours that came before it obsolete. Worthless. A waste of time.
This isn't me getting upset at the ending. I have no qualms with it at all. How we got there is where the issue lies. Is there a solution to this massive problem? Yes, and it's quite simple: time. It would've been worlds better if this game ended with Abby and Lev leaving the theater (preferably on this screen), which makes for a juicy cliff hanger that leads into Part III (which is probably inevitable with sales like these). If Part III was almost or entirely dedicated to fleshing out the Santa Barbara segment, I firmly believe these problems would cease to exist.
Time would allow us to marinate in the aftermath of Seattle. Maybe we get to see Ellie and Dina search for a farmhouse to claim. Get some sheep. Plant their crops. Dust up the house and make it a home. See Ellie's simultaneous terror and joy when JJ finally comes into their lives. See the ups and downs of Ellie and Dina's shared parenthood. In the meantime, packs of infected and wandering bandits are sure to spring up, providing the player with some stimulating combat as Ellie and Dina defend their new home and family. But in the meantime... Ellie wrestles with night terrors. She continues to see and hear Joel in his final hour. She sees Abby lurking in the theater, but she can't reach her weapon fast enough! The PTSD Ellie carries provides an undercurrent of negativity to her and Dina's otherwise peaceful life, and the pressure only builds over time. It makes her colder. Snappier. Maybe she even occasionally lashes out at Dina, only to quickly apologize afterward. But one day, Tommy pays his first visit in months, and he's brought a map and some information...
Time would allow us to see Abby and Lev's journey to Santa Barbara and their search for the Fireflies. Their big sister-little brother bond grows stronger in their adventures. They probably have lots of run-ins with the infected. A trader probably tips them off to the Rattlers in the area. When they're ambushed and kidnapped, Abby does everything in her power to resist their captors to make sure Lev isn't mistreated, as his transgender status likely puts him at considerable risk for abuse. Resistance is her initial instinct, but she quickly realizes that she can exchange her compliance for Lev's safety. So she works gruesome jobs for gruesome hours. Maybe after realizing how much leverage they have over this talented soldier, the Rattlers give her a weapon and force her to help hunt for escapees and unfortunate travelers (of course, if she turns her weapon against her captors, they'll make sure Lev faces a fate worse than death). After months, Abby finally builds up the confidence to stage an escape with Lev... but their operation fails. She is punished severely for her misconduct. She's starved. Tortured. Beaten. We see her spirit break, and her body emaciates until she is just as weak and helpless as the man she killed in Wyoming. She thinks of him and wonders if this was how he felt. Once the Rattlers are through with making an example out of her and Lev, they're strung up and left to die among dozens of corpses... until a familiar voice comes calling through the fog...
Unfortunately, as it exists now, the rushed nature of the Santa Barbara segment alienated the player from all of the characters involved-even Ellie, who the player is in control of throughout the entirety of the segment. Now, alienating an audience from characters via a time jump can certainly be used to great effect in some stories, but one such story is not this one. For 30ish hours, TLOU2 established itself as the kind of story that earned your investment through subtle character growth. What is the natural predator of incremental character growth? Time skips that gloss over major character-altering events. This was a disastrous decision on the writer's part, and it critically injures what I'd otherwise call a nigh flawless game.


Yes, my criticism of the Santa Barbara section was harsh, but it heartens me to remember it was only ~1.5 hours long. I wouldn't dare condemn the entire ~30-hour game for a fraction of a fraction of its content, especially not when the rest of it was as masterful as it was. A poorly paced ending does not make a story bad, and shame on anyone who thinks it does. It's about the journey, after all, not the destination, and by Satan was this an emotionally thrilling journey indeed. Excluding its ending, I’m glad to give it the highest praises I can offer. Unfortunately, due to a perfect storm of circumstances, this sequel may have cemented itself as the most controversial game ever made. I think that’s a crying shame because this is a great game that often goes where no game has gone before. It is one of the few games that not only challenged its players mechanically, but *mentally,* for it encouraged them to question their biases and see the reasons behind every seemingly evil action. It made giant steps forward for social progress, playing a part in making the world a better place for everyone. I sometimes fear the vitriolic reaction to this game may intimidate future screenwriters from making such bold decisions for their stories, and I believe that would ultimately hold the medium back from its fullest potential, particularly in the storytelling department. I have hope and a little bit of faith that this work of art will eventually stand the test of time, especially once the outrage simmers. Cheers to the developers for making such a wild ride, and I look forward to seeing what happens next.
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