Class War

Amazon VP VIP Tim Bray Quitfires Self Over 'Chickensh*t' Activist Quitfirings

Let's not eat this one.

Now with fun update: Tim Bray approves of this story. See end of post.

After so many stories about terrible rich greedheads grabbing up money that should be helping small businesses, let's raise a glass to former Amazon Web Services VP Tim Bray, who last week quit his job in protest over the company's retaliation against warehouse workers who just wanted safer working conditions. As Techdirt explains, Bray was a big name in internetting, having "helped develop XML and a variety of other standards/technologies the internet relies on." But Bray said he couldn't let himself be a part of any company that would respond to legitimate criticism by firing and smearing the workers calling attention to the problems. Fittingly, he left on Friday, International Workers' Day.

Come the revolution, let's remember not to eat this one.

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coronavirus

Super Negotiator Trump Pays Four Times Contracted Price For Ventilators, Not One Penny Less

Probably ordered the undercoat, too.

Back in 2014, the US Department of Health and Human Services signed a contract with Dutch electronics giant Philips to develop an inexpensive, easy to use ventilator that could be manufactured quickly and provided to hospitals for use during a possible pandemic. HHS paid Philips Respironics $13.8 million to develop the ventilator, which the health agency wanted for the Strategic National Stockpile. In July of 2019, the ventilator, called the "Trilogy Evo Universal," was approved by the FDA, and in September, HHS signed a contract for Philips to make 10,000 of the things for the low, low cost (seriously, that's very low!) of just $3,280 per unit.

(This is a totally different low-cost-ventilator deal than the one that was in the news a few weeks ago. That one was signed under Obama and was moving along nicely until a medical giant bought the company and asked to get out of the contract; it is suspected they bought the smaller company to keep it from undermining their own more expensive ventilators.)

But instead of filling up the stockpile with inexpensive ventilators, Philips dedicated its American factory, in Pennsylvania, to churning out pricier commercial versions of the Trilogy Evo, which it sold to American and overseas customers. Exactly zero Trilogy Evo Universals went into the stockpile, and the government didn't even demand delivery of the inexpensive models once the actual COVID-19 outbreak started to hit the USA.

But there's some excellent news this week, at least if you're Philips Respironics! HHS announced Wednesday that it's signed a new contract with Philips to buy 43,000 ventilators from the company. Not the inexpensive model developed at taxpayer expense, which has never gone into mass production, but instead the commercial variant, the Trilogy EV300, for which HHS will pay more than $15,000 each, at a total cost of $646.7 million.

Isn't America just the best?

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coronavirus

Stimulus Normal, All Fuqqed Up

But remember what a mess the Obamacare website was?

The White House Excuse Machine will have to run overtime this week, since it turns out that a lot of people haven't been getting their Donald Trump Signature Edition coronavirus relief payments on time, thanks to a variety of glitches, as the Washington Post reports. But not to worry! It's only millions of Americans, and at some point they'll probably get the payments, eventually. The problems range from no checks at all for people who filed their taxes using big tax-prep companies (which are evil to start with but in this case, only partly to blame), to some parents receiving their own stimulus payments, but not the $500 per child payment they're entitled to. And to add to the fun, the IRS "Get My Payment" website, where people are supposed to be able to check the status of their payments, often turns out to be useless for lots of people, returning only a "Payment Status Not Available" message.

We figure it's almost certainly all Barack Obama's fault. Or maybe Deep State operatives who sabotaged the stimulus payments to make Trump look bad.

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Environment

Trump Administration Takes Time Out Of Busy Pandemic To Make Cars Dirty Again

It's a fuck-you to Obama, so it must be done.

The Trump administration rolled out the final version of its vehicle fuel-efficiency rules Tuesday, meaning that Trump will finally have eliminated tougher standards put in place under Barack Obama. The auto industry didn't particularly want the new rules, and several automakers plan to support higher gas-mileage standards planned by California, but now the rules are here and they're going to make you happy if you know what's good for you. The administration has had a hard time presenting any logical rationale for the rules beyond the fact that Obama wanted to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that cause climate change, which of course is all the reason needed to dump his regulations.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a joint statement with the Transportation Department that the new rules delivered "on President Trump's promise to correct the current fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards." No, of course he didn't explicitly spell out what needed "correcting." But clearly, dirtier air is a good thing for everyone:

Our final rule puts in place a sensible one national program that strikes the right regulatory balance that protects our environment, and sets reasonable targets for the auto industry. This rule supports our economy, and the safety of American families.

The statement reads a lot more plausibly if you imagine a guy in a suit making the universal jerking-off gesture.

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