It’s A Sabotage
May 15, 2020
“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”
“A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.”
― Robert A. Heinlein (At Daily Pnut we generally aren’t fond of Naval Academy graduates. Every now and then good people decide to attend and graduate from there and Mr. Heinlein appears to be that rare case.)
Scott Olson via Getty Images
Big Brother Meets Big Professor
- As college students are finishing up their semester in their bedrooms instead of the classroom, many are alarmed at the rise of digital proctoring software designed to deter cheating on online tests. The proctoring services that are suddenly monitoring hundreds of thousands of students taking millions of at-home exams are worrying privacy advocates as well.
- An April survey by a nonprofit organization focused on technology and education revealed that 77 out of 312 institutions polled said they were administering or planned to administer take-home exams online with some sort of remote monitoring, ranging from human surveillance via webcams to software that lets a test temporarily take over a student’s browser.
- The need for monitoring, however, was evidenced by reports that students were uploading questions from their take-home tests to an online tutoring service based in Santa Clara, CA, then copying the answers. The information prompted Boston University and Georgia Tech to begin investigating in April.
- On Tuesday shares in the tutoring company, Chegg, spiked after it announced a 35 percent year-over-year revenue increase. The online education market was already on an upward trajectory, but the pandemic accelerated the trend to warp speed. There will be no going back, university officials predicted. (NYT)
- Not only is Big Brother watching but so are Big Brother’s hackers: Hackers hit Chegg for the third time since 2018 (TechCrunch)
- How Coronavirus Will Disrupt Future Colleges & Universities (NY Mag)
- Kid Culture: In most cultures, kids tag along with grownups or mooch with friends but American life is heavy with ‘kid-friendly’ artifice (Aeon) We are of the mindset that adults should play more (like kids) and kids should help out around the family more (and of course still play).
- Here’s what’s going on in your kids’ minds (CNN)
- The myth of being ‘bad’ at maths (BBC)
Black Days in Burundi
- Burundi’s government has ordered the immediate expulsion of an expert team from the World Health Organization who were in the country to help back up the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
- A letter dated May 12 from the foreign ministry to WHO Africa headquarters said the UN agency’s top doctor in Burundi and his three colleagues are declared “persona non grata” and must leave by Friday.
- The letter gave no reason for the decision. A Burundian official speaking on condition of anonymity said the health minister had accused the WHO of “unacceptable interference” in the country’s management of the coronavirus. Investigators for the UN’s Human Rights Council have been in the country since 2015 examining “killings, disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions, acts of torture and ill treatment and rape” against political opponents of President Pierre Nkunrunziza.
- The human rights commissioners warned recently that both the humanitarian and economic situation inside the country have deteriorated. National elections for president and National Assembly representatives will be held on May 20. (Guardian, UN News)
Conspiracies Run Amok: I Can’t Stand It, I Know You Planned It
- Get Ready for a Covid-19 Vaccine Information War (NYT)
- ‘Obamagate’: Fox News focuses on conspiracy theory rather than Covid-19 (Guardian)
- Obama’s former aides angry, hurt over Ronny Jackson’s embrace of Trump’s conspiracy theories (WaPo, $)
- A disgraced scientist and a viral video: how a Covid conspiracy theory started (Guardian)
- A Guide to Pandemic Scams, and What Not to Fall For (NYT)
- The Atlantic devotes significant coverage on the rise of conspiracy theories (and this coverage has compelled us to become a paid subscriber): The Conspiracy Theorists Are Winning (Atlantic, $)
- QAnon Is More Important Than You Think: American conspiracy theories are entering a dangerous new phase. (Atlantic, $)
- ‘Survivor,’ 20 Years Later, Keeps Teaching Us to Trust No One (Atlantic, $)
- Birtherism and trump (Atlantic, $)
- How “truth decay” is harming America’s coronavirus recovery (Vox)
- Additional reference and song: Beastie Boys – Sabotage
- Daily Pnut also has been charting the rise of conspiracy theories for quite some time
Additional World News
- Good news: France passes law forcing online platforms to delete hate-speech content within 24 hours (TechCrunch)
- China’s ‘OK Boomer’: Generations Clash Over the Nation’s Future (NYT, $)
- US increases military pressure on China as tensions rise over pandemic (CNN)
- NATO and Russia Flex Their Muscles, but Coronavirus Is a Common Foe (WSJ, $)
- Malaysia to recover $107.3 mln after settling 1MDB case against ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ producer (Reuters)
- Global report: WHO says Covid-19 ‘may never go away’ and warns of mental health crisis (NYT)
- US medical mask maker blasts government for failing to prepare for pandemic: ‘I’ve been ignored for so long’ (CNN)
- U.S. faces ‘darkest winter’ if pandemic planning falters: whistleblower (Reuters)
- McConnell admits he was wrong to say Obama administration failed to leave a pandemic playbook (CNN)
- ‘Wild, wild West’: Wisconsin reopens for business (Retuers)
- FDA Cautions About Accuracy Of Widely Used Abbott Coronavirus Test (NPR)
- India’s ‘Maximum City’ Engulfed by Coronavirus (NYT, $)
- Questions remain over whether data collected by Covidsafe app could be accessed by US law enforcement (Guardian)
- Ousted Scientist Says His Pandemic Warnings Were Dismissed As ‘Commotion’ (NPR)
- How Trump and the CDC Failed the COVID-19 Test (Rolling Stone)
COVID-19 & Money
- 36.5 Million Have Filed For Unemployment In 8 Weeks (NPR) We are grateful we have a job here at Daily Pnut.
- White House would likely support a new round of stimulus checks, sources say (CNBC) There might not be such a thing as free lunch but there is such a thing as free stimulus checks.
- The Pandemic Helped Topple Two Retailers. So Did Private Equity. (NYT, $) Today’s most unsurprising news: companies fail when they are overloaded with massive debt.
- Cities Crack Down On Food Delivery App Fees As Restaurants Struggle To Survive (NPR)
- Firms that took a PPP loan under $2 million are about to get a break (CNBC)
- Tech Workers Consider Escaping Silicon Valley’s Sky-High Rents (Bloomberg)
Image via Getty Images
Burr, It’s Cold In Here, Let’s All Go To The Insider Trading Room Where It’s Hellish Hot
- Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), GOP chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Thursday he would temporarily step down from his committee post after his cellphone was seized Wednesday evening by the FBI. The Justice Department is conducting a probe into whether Burr was acting on inside information from coronavirus briefings when he sold a substantial portion of his stock portfolio just prior to the stock market plunge.
- Burr received classified intelligence briefings throughout January and early February that contained dire warnings about the coming pandemic. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in his sale of up to $1.7 million in stocks on Feb. 13. Many of Burr’s trades involved industries hit hard in the wake of COVID-19’s spread throughout the US.
- Other lawmakers were also questioned. The husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) sold shares of a biotech company on January 31 that were worth between $500,000 and $1 million. But that move didn’t affect any potential future losses, as the stock sells for more now than when he sold it. GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga) and her husband, New York Stock Exchange chairman Jeffrey Sprecher, also made several large stock sales in the early weeks of the pandemic, which have since drawn scrutiny from federal investigators.
- Burr is still finalizing his committee’s bipartisan report on the investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. The final report represents the culmination of years worth of work both by Burr and by the committee’s ranking member, Senator Mark Warner (D-Va). (CNBC)
- Sen. Richard Burr and the coronavirus insider trading scandal, explained (Vox)
- Loeffler Got Lucrative Parting Gift From Public Company en Route to the Senate (NYT, $)
Additional USA News
- US expelling hundreds of child migrants, citing coronavirus pandemic (Guardian)
- Trump Administration Plans to Extend Virus Border Restrictions Indefinitely (NYT)
- To Fight Waste and Hunger, Food Banks Start Cooking (NYT)
- No insurance, no savings, no support: what happens when LA’s least privileged get Covid (Guardian)
- Family Asks Houston Police Not To Release Fatal Shooting Video Of Gospel Singer (NPR)
- Elon Musk’s Boring Company finishes digging Las Vegas tunnels (The Verge)
It’s A Bit Of A Fixer-Under
- Preppers, and survivalists, are people who anticipate and attempt to adapt for what they see as probable or inevitable, including impending conditions of calamity ranging from low-level crises to extinction-level events.
- Hardcore preppers are convinced that a disaster could strike at any time, overwhelming first responders and the social safety net; that a crisis could disrupt supply chains, causing scarcity and panic and social breakdown; that authorities might invoke emergency powers and impose police curfews.
- These beliefs seemed crazy to most people. That is, until the coronavirus pandemic hit and preppers and survivalists already had lots of N95 masks and toilet paper. It’s not just supplies they’ve stocked up on. A lucky few have even built luxury bunkers to survive calamity and collapse.
- In 2008 Larry Hall, a former government contractor, property developer and self-confessed “doomsday prepper” purchased something quite unique from the federal government. From the outside it looks like a concrete pill box, perched on top of a small hill, flanked by cameras and surrounded by a military-grade chain fence and Kansas cornfields. It looks like a secret government installation, because it once was. The Atlas F missile silo was built during the cold war to protect nuclear-tipped Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.
- In the years since purchasing the silo, Hall has transformed this subterranean megastructure into a 15-story inverted tower block — a “geoscraper” — now called Survival Condo. It is designed so that up to 75 people can weather a maximum of five years inside a sealed, self-sufficient luxury habitat. When whatever calamitous event that occurred passes, the residents expect to be able emerge into the post-apocalyptic world and rebuild society. According to nearly 100 preppers from six countries, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is merely a “mid-level” event — a warm up for what is yet to come. (Guardian, BBC )
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