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THE BIG NEWS
Pathetic Loser Elon Musk Turns to War Profiteering
Last time I remember checking in on obnoxious billionaire Elon Musk, he set a world record for losing money. He's still awful rich though. Problematically rich. Too rich to do any good!
This week the president of Musk's SpaceX, a major contractor for NASA and the U.S. military, announced that the company was shutting off Ukrainian military access to its Starlink satellites. Musk previously made a big show of deploying the satellites to Ukraine to help civilians and military forces alike access the internet in the wake of the Russian invasion. Then, around the time he began suggesting that Ukraine should capitulate to Russian territorial demands, he tried to extort the war-ravaged country by demanding it pay more to use the satellites. Now SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell says "was never intended to be weaponized," which is absurd, and that the company will again restrict Ukrainian military use of the satellites -- unless, it goes without saying, they or the Pentagon cough up more money. This is despicable war profiteering, there are no other words for it.
Meanwhile, over at Twitter, which broke down this week due to Musk's extreme cost-cutting, he's making up for lost corporate ad revenue with hate speech. Citing a study by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Washington Post reports that Musk's decision to restore 10 previously banned accounts belonging to charming folks like the abusive pimp influencer Andrew Tate and the neo-Nazi propagandist Andrew Anglin had likely generated $19 million in revenue for the social media company. "Under Elon, the revenue model seems to rely on increasing rage-bait to create quick returns," explains Nandini Jammi of the nonprofit Check My Ads Institute, another nonprofit watchdog group. Speaking of rage, the tech news site Platformer reports that a furious Musk recently fired an engineer who relayed some bad news about why his view counts on the site were cratering. The bad news was that Twitter employees found "no evidence that the algorithm was biased against" Musk and causing his numbers to drop. The problem is that many people are turned off by Musk's terrible personality and even worse politics!
Also yesterday, it came out through Reuters that the Transportation Department is investigating Musk's monkey-torturing brain-implant company, Neuralink, for improperly dealing with animal pathogens in a way that "may pose a serious and ongoing public health risk." Cool!
Finally, according to CNBC, President Joe Biden's proposed billionaire minimum tax would have cost Musk $55 billion in 2020 and 2021, but for last year, because of Tesla's nosediving stock price, "the government would then have to send him a $23 billion refund check." It seems like Biden's tax proposal might need a little work. Here's my take: SpaceX should be nationalized immediately, Twitter should be run as a public communications service like PBS and NPR, and the personal fortune of Musk should be taxed out of existence, as with all billionaires.
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Body Cam Footage Complicates Official 'Cop City' Story
Atlanta police released four body cam videos yesterday from officers near, but not directly involved in, last month's shooting that left forest defender Manuel "Tortuguita" Paez Terán dead, riddled with at least 13 bullets, and one officer injured. Police initially claimed the "Stop Copy City" protester shot at them first but the videos do not corroborate this. Per Vice News, following an audible barrage of gunfire, officers can be heard speculating that one of their own may have been hit by friendly fire: "Man, you f*cked your own officer up," says one. Jack, who has covered the protest closely, says "this entire tragedy really needs an independent investigation that is not under the purview of Georgia law enforcement."
Progressive Julie Su Favored as Next Labor Secretary
I mentioned this week that Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, who's gotten generally positive reviews from within the labor movement, will become the first of President Biden's cabinet secretaries to step down when he departs "very soon" for a job heading up the National Hockey League Players Association. NBC News reports that Walsh's deputy, Julie Su, who served as California's secretary of labor, "is the heavy favorite" to replace him. But for some reason, NBC didn't lead its story with the news of Su's likely nomination. Instead, it headlined the fact that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- who is now just another Democratic Rep. from California -- has been lobbying for Biden to replace Walsh with one of her flunkies, former New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. The former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Maloney has a reputation as a "corporate hack" and no ties to the labor movement. I suspect NBC's reporter was cynically currying favor with his Capitol Hill sources here, and inshallah, Maloney's candidacy is a nonstarter.
- First Aid Convoy After Quake Arrives in Rebel-Held Syria The official death toll in Syria and Turkey surpassed 20,000 yesterday. via the Washington Post.
- DOJ Special Counsel Subpoenas Mike Pence The demand from special counsel Jack Smith pertains to his investigation into Donald Trump's Jan. 6, 2021 coup attempt, and Pence's role in it. via ABC News.
- George Santos Conned His Way Out of Theft Charges The fabulist New York Rep. "was charged with theft in Pennsylvania's Amish Country in 2017 after a series of bad checks were written in his name to dog breeders...[but t]he charge was dismissed and his record expunged after Santos claimed someone had stolen his checkbook." via Politico.
- Second New Jersey Council Member in Two Weeks Shot Dead Milford borough councilman Russell Heller was found dead in a parking lot one week after another Republican council member, Eunice Dwumfour of Sayreville, was killed in her car. via the Wall Street Journal.
- Reverse Robin Hood Hackers Plunder Food Stamp Benefits "In Los Angeles County, officials say more than $19.6 million in EBT benefits were stolen in 2022 — a more than 20-fold increase from the year before." via the LA Times.
- James O'Keefe Stole a Sandwich from an 8-Months Pregnant Woman The incident is one of many examples of bad behavior collected by Project Veritas staff who are revolting against their boss, the very well-paid right-wing operative. via the Daily Beast.
That's how many Americans, in public polling, think the country spends too much on Social Security. President Joe Biden attacked congressional Republicans in his state of the union speech this week for pushing Social Security cuts, and Donald Trump is taking the same tack against his likely Republican presidential primary challenger, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
ON THE SHOW TODAY
2/10: It's Casual Friday! Sam and Emma host Heather Digby Parton, contributing writer at Salon.com and proprietor of the blog Hullabaloo, to round up the week in news. Then they are joined by Judy Gold, host of the Kill Me Now podcast!
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
This heckling plays so well for Biden.
That's one way to make a living I guess.
"Exaggerating or hyping up the 'China threat' narrative is not conducive to building trust or improving ties between our two countries, nor can it make the U.S. safer."
-- Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning, speaking one day before the U.S. House voted unanimously, 419-0, to pass a resolution condemning China's deployment of a high-altitude surveillance balloon as a "brazen violation of United States sovereignty."
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