Baltimore Faces Major Bridge Cleanup Operation - The Friday AM Quickie 3/29/24

Baseball season is here and my troubles are over. -Jacob

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Baltimore Musters Resources to Cleanup and Rebuild After Bridge Disaster

The cleanup operation surrounding the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which was destroyed after being hit by an errant container ship earlier this week, has officially begun. A massive 1,000-ton crane, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and tens of millions of dollars in financial assistance are on the menu. Huge pieces of twisted steel must be pulled out of the water so that ship traffic can resume. The debris-strewn river bed will need to be dredged, according to The Washington Post.

The ship, which had lost power and navigation, struck the bridge pylon with the force of a rocket, wrote The New York Times. Almost any bridge would have buckled in an encounter with a ship of that size and mass.

Federal authorities have approved $60 million in emergency relief funds, with more likely to come. Maryland Gov. Wes Moore also spoke of the importance of recovering the bodies of the remaining missing workers. From traumatized survivors to the threat of hazardous material to getting one of the country's largest ports back online to actually rebuilding the bridge, numerous challenges await.

"We have a very long road ahead of us," said Gov. Moore, acknowledging that the process could take months. "We understand that, and we’re prepared."

Sam Bankman-Fried Sentenced to 25 Years in Federal Prison

On a rainy Thursday in lower Manhattan, Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for crimes relating to his theft of at least $8 billion in customer funds from FTX, the once high-flying cryptocurrency exchange he founded. I was there, along with a lot of journalists, crypto influencers, SBF's family, and random gawkers, most of us confined to the overflow room. Judge Lewis Kaplan repeatedly admonished Bankman-Fried for his apparent lack of remorse and the sweeping nature of his crimes. He said that Bankman-Fried committed perjury at least three times and that he seemed almost certain to do it again, should he have the opportunity. It seemed like perhaps Judge Kaplan was building up to a very long sentence – the prosecution requested 40 to 50 years – but ultimately 25 years is substantial. Bankman-Fried, who is 32, will be in his fifties before he is eligible for parole.

Four Presidents Hit New York

It sounds like a bad musical: four past, present, and maybe future presidents in New York at the same time, doing the campaign shuffle. At Radio City Music Hall, President Joe Biden held a fundraiser that was hosted by Mindy Kaling and attended by former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and a gaggle of entertainment stars. It was expected to pull in $25 million.

Former and aspiring future President Donald Trump went to a wake for an NYPD officer killed during a traffic stop. The New York Times captured the glib hypocrisy of a multiply indicted conman speaking about the scourge of crime:

Mr. Trump, who is facing four criminal cases, including one in Manhattan that is going to trial in less than three weeks, stood in front of more than a dozen police officers and proclaimed the need for the country to “get back to law and order.”

Saddled with court hearings, Trump has mostly met with donors in private at Mar-a-Lago. But he has an April 6 fundraiser hosted by hedge funder John Paulson in Palm Beach, which organizers claim will raise $33 million.


  • Boston University Dean Recommends Replacing Striking Grad Students with AI A Boston University Dean recommended using generative AI tools to handle student assignments. Members of the BU Graduate Workers Union are currently on strike over low pay and inadequate healthcare and childcare benefits. via The Daily Beast.
  • RFK Jr. Super PAC Brings in $2.1 Million American Values, a super PAC that supports the candidacy of RFK Jr., raised $2.1 million at a fundraiser. One million dollars came from Limewire co-founder Mark Gorton, who praised RFK's choice of Silicon Valley lawyer, and vaccine skeptic, Nicole Shanahan as his VP. via Politico.
  • Texas Appeals Court Throws Out Conviction For Woman Who Illegally Voted Crystal Mason, who was sentenced to five years in prison for illegally casting a provisional ballot in the 2016 election, has had her conviction thrown out by a higher court. Mason had been convicted of a tax crime and didn't know she wasn't eligible to vote. via The Guardian.
  • US Police Killed 1,000 People With "Non-Lethal" Practices A new study has found that police killed more than 1,000 people with methods that were supposed to be non-lethal. Most of those killed were men in their 30s and 40s. A third of them were Black. via Associated Press.



That's how high a ton of cocoa reached on public markets this week – the first time it's ever hit that threshold. Climate change and a financial crisis in Ghana, a major cocoa producer, have contributed to the runup in prices. Ivory Coast is also expecting a smaller harvest than usual this time of year. A highly traded commodity and futures product, cocoa happens to be delicious and widely consumed as a treat, especially at Easter time.


3/29: It's Friday!


So Long, Bozo!

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman is dead but his obstructionist, war-mongering governing ideology lives on in some other maddeningly bad politicians.

Reclaiming Open Borders

John Washington, the author of "The Case for Open Borders," presents a different, more humane vision for what the border could look like.


"The Court observes that Palestinians in Gaza are no longer facing only a risk of famine, as noted in the Order of 26 January 2024, but that famine is setting in, with at least 31 people, including 27 children, having already died of malnutrition and dehydration according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs."

-- From a new order by the International Court of Justice that essentially reaffirms its previous order that Israel not commit genocide and facilitate the provision of aid. Israel appears to be doing the former and blocking the latter.

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