Long list, we reckon.
Y'all might have heard there is a Facebook whistleblower. You also might have heard that Facebook was down almost all day yesterday, and oh God it was so nice. Whenever you'd forget Facebook was down and then out of some fucked up habit you'd go try to look at Facebook, THERE WAS NOTHING THERE and then you'd smile, because it was like it had never been there at all.
Anyway, about that whistleblower!
Her name is Frances Haugen, and she is testifying before a Senate Finance subcommittee this morning. According to Reuters, she will say Facebook is "one of the most urgent threats" facing the country, and we guess she'd know, because she worked on Facebook's "civic misinformation team." Reuters explains more:
"The core of the issue is that no one can understand Facebook's destructive choices better than Facebook, because only Facebook gets to look under the hood," she said in written testimony prepared for the hearing. [...]
Haugen came forward this week to reveal she was the one who provided documents used in a Wall Street Journal investigation and a Senate hearing on Instagram's harm to teen girls.
If you think Facebook is horrible, as most patriotic Americans do, this should be an important hearing.
Watch live! Oh, and if you missed Haugen on "60 Minutes," we also put that below.
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He's kinda funny lookin'. More n' most people even.
MyPillow guy and elections expert Mike Lindell has in recent weeks moved beyond insisting there was massive fraud in all the states where Donald Trump lost in 2020, and is now going around claiming that vast computer fraud stole votes from Trump even in states the Great Man won, like Alabama, and now Idaho, which is, dear readers, not exactly full of progressive liberal hippie types, at least outside certain parts of Boise and the college towns.
But when you have a racket, you have to keep flogging it, so Lindell recently sent a very serious letter to elections officials in Idaho, insisting that electronic voting equipment had switched votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden in every single one of Idaho's 44 counties. Lindell also promoted his "analysis" on such social media he hasn't been kicked off of, prompting angry calls and emails to county elections officials, too. Mike Rosedale, the Republican county clerk for Bonner County, up in the panhandle, said the reaction from outraged Lindell fans felt like "a freight train coming at me."
Now, let's just remind you that Donald Trump won Idaho in 2020 with 64 percent of the vote. In Bonner County, Trump did even better, winning just short of 67 percent of the vote, with 18,369 votes to Biden's 8,310 votes, plus the expected smattering of votes for fringe candidates. Kanye West somehow got 102 votes in Bonner. Go figure.
But you see, in Lindell's very smart "analysis," Trump really should have gotten far more votes, so the only possible explanation has to be massive fraud. Not that he presented any evidence of it, beyond a spreadsheet he cleverly titled "The Big Lie," which pretended to specify exactly how many votes were supposedly stolen from Trump and switched to Biden in each county.
Astonishingly, the document didn't bowl over the folks at the Idaho Secretary of State's office, who quickly noticed a bit of a problem with Lindell's assertion of statewide electronic vote theft, as they explained in a statement this week:
"Once we had the document in hand, we immediately believed there was something amiss" says Chief Deputy Secretary Chad Houck. "This document alleged electronic manipulation in all 44 counties. At least 7 Idaho counties have no electronic steps in their vote counting processes," states Houck, "That was a huge red flag, and one we knew we could either prove or disprove fairly directly."
Houck told the Spokane Spokesman-Review that his office considers the vote tabulation process in those counties to be protected by a "'Flintstone gap,' because there's no equipment in the process. It's still Stone Age."
Well there's a lesson for Lindell: Don't go around making accusations of computer hacking in places where the votes are still tabulated on the county clerk's fingers and recorded on clay tablets. We could pretty much stop right here, but the details are kind of fun if you're a big election process nerd.
Just to be on the safe side (and no doubt to forestall outraged howls that Lindell's bullshit accusations weren't being taken seriously), the secretary of state's office sent examiners to the clerks' offices in two of Idaho's smallest counties, Camas and Butte, to conduct an in-person inspection of the ballots, and presumably to look in every closet for a hidden Fraud-O-Matic 9000 machine. To make it all official, the examination was conducted with representatives from both the Democratic and Republican parties observing.
While both recounts were videotaped, we'll admit we didn't review them to see whether any of the participants commented on what a colossal waste of time it was. (Butte County Recount / Camas County Recount) We'd check, but we have a whole lot of anime to catch up on this weekend, including the series finale of the Higurashi When They Cry sequel.
In any case, the investigations found that both counties' vote totals were indeed consistent with the official canvas, except that in Camas County, there was one extra vote for Trump, out of 675 ballots total, a .14 percent discrepancy. Lindell's spreadsheet had somehow decided Trump had to be missing 54 votes in the tiny county.
In Butte County, Joe Biden still had the same 188 votes as in the official canvas, not the 130 votes Lindell insisted he "should" have had. But the hand recount did find an error! Donald Trump actually received nine fewer votes than the official tally of 1,202 votes reflected. So there's your massive fraud: the official count was .63 percent greater than Trump's real total. The mistake seems to have resulted from
thermal printed ballots that come from assisted voter terminals, which are the same size as the absentee envelopes contained in the same storage boxes. As such, adjusted sorting and storage policies were recommended should a recount occur in the future.
Thank Crom for Mike Lindell's fog and phony show, since by promoting absolute hogwash, he inadvertently led the county to make a minor adjustment to its election processes that had nothing to do with any bizarre tampering conspiracy.
After the recount, we'll assume the local officials took everyone out for Bronto-burgers in their foot-powered car.
Meanwhile, up in Bonner County, Mr. Rosedale announced that his office would conduct a hand recount of the county's 2020 ballots as well; that show is being livestreamed right now if you want to waste a perfectly good Saturday. He too is certain that the official results are accurate, and that the recount will not find anything like the 2,200-vote undercount that Lindell insists happened.
Rosedale also pointed out to the Spokane Spokesman-Review that there's no way Bonner County's election equipment could be hacked, either:
"I said, 'That's impossible,' " Rosedale said. Bonner County does use a machine to tally its votes, but that machine is not connected to internet, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and thus has no IP address to be hacked.
Weirdly, according to the Bonner County Daily Bee, when the accusations of vote tampering were first circulating on Lindell's website, Rosedale issued a press release endorsing Lindell's big lies — but only in those damn Democrat states, it seems:
While I generally agree with Mike Lindell's focus on massive voter fraud in 6-plus key states, his facts regarding Idaho quite miss the mark. Well, completely miss the mark.
Gosh, he's really helping to tamp down the paranoia and fearmongering that have led Americans to distrust the voting process, you bet.
So what the hell was Lindell's made-up claim based on, if anything? Houck thinks he's figured it out.
Houck said such a result [in Camas and Butte counties] was to be expected, because it appeared the spreadsheet circulated by Lindell took a vote discrepancy and applied it universally across all counties. He estimated it took him and his office 45 minutes, perhaps less, to determine that the document was using a formula, rather than verified accounts of fraud, in its estimations of ballot numbers.
Houck doesn't appear to have specified what wrong data point Lindell started with, but the point is, yet again, it's all bullshit, and Donald Trump did just fine in Idaho, even without running up an imaginary score, the end.
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Also 11,000 new jobs in Kentucky and Tennessee.
Ford Motor Company announced yesterday that it's partnering with South Korean energy firm SK Innovation to build two new factories in Tennessee and Kentucky to manufacture electric vehicles and the batteries that go in 'em. The two complexes — wait, they're "hubs!" — will employ some 11,000 workers total when they open in 2025.
"vertically integrated ecosystem" consisting of a vehicle assembly plant, a battery plant jointly operated by Ford and SK, as well as facilities for suppliers and battery recycling operations. Ford says the new assembly plant will be carbon neutral with zero waste to landfill when it's fully operational in 2025.
Ford says it will be "among the largest auto manufacturing campuses in US history."
Ford and SK will also construct two battery factories in Kentucky, which will produce batteries to be used in Ford and Lincoln EVs built at other assembly plants around North America. An industry insider we just made up right now said the Kentucky and Tennessee sites were "chosen deliberately to fuck with Doktor Zoom," who can never keep the two states straight.
In a press release, Ford kvelled that the company's $7 billion share in the joint venture will be "the largest ever U.S. investment in electric vehicles at one time by any automotive manufacturer," and that the company intends to "lead America's transition to electric vehicles and usher in a new era of clean, carbon-neutral manufacturing," according to Executive Chair Bill Ford.
The press release said the new plants are part of a more than $30 billion investment in EVs, and that it "expects 40% to 50% of its global vehicle volume to be fully electric by 2030."
Jim Farley, Ford's president and CEO, said that the company's EV offerings will aim at expanding the market for EVs beyond wealthy early tech adopters and granola-munching greenies, albeit not in those exact terms: "We are moving now to deliver breakthrough electric vehicles for the many rather than the few." We aren't sure if that was a Star Trek reference or not.
Marketing bafflegab aside, Ford's green bafflegab about the Tennessee plant sounds pretty darned impressive:
Through an on-site wastewater treatment plant, the assembly plant aspires to make zero freshwater withdrawals for assembly processes by incorporating water reuse and recycling systems. Zero-waste-to-landfill processes will capture materials and production scrap at an on-site materials collection center to sort and route materials for recycling or processing either at the plant or at off-site facilities once the plant is operational.
That sounds pretty good, as does the goal of "localizing the supply chain network, creating recycling options for scrap and end-of-life vehicles, and ramping up lithium-ion recycling," which Ford says is vital to making EVs a sustainable business. Seems like a good idea to focus on. You certainly wouldn't want to have too many lithium ions in the fire.
Also too, the artist's rendering of Blue Oval City in Tennessee looks pretty nifty, what with the employee parking all covered with solar panels.
Ford Motor Company
You know what would be pretty damn nice? For Congress to pass the Build Back Better reconciliation bill and get a bunch of EV recharging infrastructure and grid upgrades built, plus tax credits for people buying all those EVs.
If we get to feeling all socialisty, we can even fantasize about future legislation that would make it easier for lower-income folks to trade their gas guzzlers for an EV. Like Obama's cash for clunkers, but juiced. Eventually, all those cars out there running on Direct Current might even demand DC statehood.
And that's all for your current news.
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First Amendment, how does it go?
We are about three news cycles away from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis threatening to beat up Mark Zuckerberg behind the gym after fourth period. And even that would probably be more credible than the latest round of bullshit spewing from the governor's mansion in the vague direction of Palo Alto.
The latest fucktussle was sparked by the Wall Street Journal's recent series on problems at Facebook. The first article revealed that the social media platform had an internal "whitelist" of celebrities and politicians who were exempt from the rules banning harassment, incitement, and even nudity. Normal people might think, "Yeah, no shit, you guys left that maniac on there, and we wound up with an attempted coup." But Ron DeSantis is not normal people.
So yesterday Gov. Florida Man directed Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee to "immediately investigate this alleged election interference caused by Facebook through its whitelisting program — and any other previously undisclosed program within Facebook — in order to determine whether any violations of Florida's election laws took place."
Note that he doesn't specify which laws might have been violated. Because no such law exists. And even if Florida's preposterous social media law purporting to make it illegal to deplatform political candidates hadn't been immediately blocked in court, the statute wasn't scheduled to go into effect until July 2021 — well after the 2020 election when these supposed "violations of Florida's election laws took place."
DeSantis's theory, if his rancid babbling can be dignified with that term, rests on internal documents admitting that whitelisting politicians amounted to an advantage for incumbents. DeSantis himself passed a law which would have mandated a similar whitelist for all political candidates, forcing Facebook and every other website to allow politicians to violate the sites' rules with impunity. (Well, not Disney, because Ol' Ron knows who butters his moldy bread, so he made sure there was an amusement park exception.) But logical consistency has never been DeSantis's forte.
"If the Wall Street Journal report is accurate, Facebook has created a privileged class of speakers and has empowered them to manipulate our elections with impunity," he babbled. "Even more disturbing, these elite users on Facebook's 'whitelist' were allegedly selected by the tech giant behind closed doors."
All of which sounds quite ominous, but not illegal. Because Facebook is a private company, and thanks to the First Amendment, it can put whatever it bloody likes on its own website. As Ron DeSantis, a graduate of Harvard Law School, knows perfectly well. And if he forgot the first semester of ConLaw, US District Judge Robert Hinkle just reminded him in June when he barred enforcement of that dumbass social media law.
"[L]eveling the playing field—promoting speech on one side of an issue or restricting speech on the other—is not a legitimate state interest," he wrote, blocking the law because forcing platforms to carry specific content is a "violation of their editorial judgment and the First Amendment."
Which is perhaps why DeSantis directed his performative outrage to the secretary of state, rather than the Florida Department of Law Enforcement which investigates actual crimes. As Politico's Gary Fineout points out, election officials don't usually investigate or prosecute election crimes, and are mainly concerned with the timely filing of campaign finance reports.
"The Division of Elections does forward information to the state elections commission for inquiry — but that's usually if someone filed their campaign finance reports late," he writes. "Any Florida reporter can recite the time they brought up some potential violation of law only to be told the Division only has a 'ministerial' role and does not investigate."
Nonetheless, DeSantis directed the Department to "use all legal means to uncover any such violations, including but not limited to, issuing subpoenas, conducting witness interviews, reviewing all available information and consulting with law enforcement."
Violations of what? Well, Ron's not saying. But he does know that "Floridians deserve to have faith that their elections are free from Big Tech interference, and corporations like Facebook deserve to be held accountable for actions that erode the legitimacy of our institutions."
Look out, Zuck, Florida Gov 'bout to do some LOCK HER UPS before that 2024 campaign gets underway.
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