10,000 on ignore, Book 202, Gethsemane, Part 5.....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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TTM note: Long thread detailing all the nutsackery from the same hearing yesterday........


 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Johnson & Johnson hides its 120-year-old baby powder business behind one-week-old company
Mark Sumner

In May of 2007, the nation’s largest coal company—Peabody Holdings—spun off its properties in West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana to a new company: Patriot Coal.
In October 2021, Johnson & Johnson spun off a company called LTL Management and gave it one of their most iconic products.

What do these two things have in common? Corporate bankruptcy law. Corporations are by their nature artificial structures set up to protect investors and corporate executives from taking personal responsibility for their actions. But there are some aspects of corporate bankruptcy law that turn that up to 11. Because here’s how the rest of these two stories play out.

What Peabody spun off to Patriot were its oldest mines, oldest miners, and generations of retirees who were entitled to both pensions and black lung benefits. In 2013, Patriot Coal filed for bankruptcy, asking the court to “slash healthcare and pension benefits for about 13,000 union workers.” At the same time, Peabody made it clear that “it no longer owes benefits to Patriot retirees.” A bankruptcy judge agreed, saying that Peabody “was relieved of that burden.”

What Johnson & Johnson spun off to LTL Management was even simpler: baby powder. Not just the product, but all the lawsuits and all the responsibility related to claims of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder products. Two days after LTL Management was created, it was in federal court filing bankruptcy. And now Johnson & Johnson says it’s been relieved of dealing with lawsuits over the powder.

And now, as a bankruptcy expert explains to NPR, “Johnson & Johnson doesn't have this liability anymore. They pushed all of it into the company they created just to file for bankruptcy."
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Corporations spin off other corporations all the time. It can happen when the corporation gets too broad and needs to focus on a core business. It can happen when a technology or investment creates an opportunity that might grow into something new. But all too often, corporations create spin-offs to act as dust bins—bins into which they can deposit their obligations to workers, local governments, lawsuits, environmental cleanup … everything.

In some cases, like that of Peabody and Patriot, there are obligations to keep the spin-off running for a certain length of time. In others, like Johnson & Johnson and LTL Management, the funding provided at the outset covers that obligation. But the key thing in both cases is that these spin-offs are designed to fail. They’re set up with full knowledge that the obligations they carry far exceed any assets they’ve been given.

Peabody knew that the aging mines, old equipment, and undeveloped properties it handed to Patriot could never support the pensions and health care benefits it owed to over 13,000 miners. Johnson & Johnson knows that the $2 billion it provided to LTL won’t come close to meeting the tab for the thousands of lawsuits currently underway around its powder products.

Everyone knew that going in. That’s why they do this.

The result in the case of Johnson & Johnson, as NPR’s bankruptcy expert makes clear, is that "consumers can't recover [damages] against a big solvent company. They have to recover against this smaller fictional company ...”

A smaller, fictional company with limited assets that are slipping down the drain with every lawsuit, settlement, and passing hour. Which makes for the kind of situation in which injured women are tempted to take far less than they deserve before the last drop runs out of the bucket.

As Rep. Katie Porter tweeted last week, Johnson & Johnson knew that some bottles of its baby powder were laced with asbestos, but kept it a secret for decades. And now, “Tens of thousands of women with ovarian cancer are suing, and the company wants to shield its assets.”

ScreenCapture.jpg


This kind of situation shows again just how much power corporations have when compared to individuals. Not only do their massive assets give them far more ability to go to court, stay in court, and drag on cases for years or decades, but the ability to create a dust bin spin-off allows them to shed responsibilities and move on without a backward glance.

Johnson & Johnson’s Chief Financial Officer Joseph Wolk explained the maneuver to investors in a call last week, pitching it as a way to defend the massive company from those bad women who have suffered as a result of a contaminated product.

"There's an established process that allows companies facing abusive tort systems to resolve claims in an efficient and equitable manner," Wolk said. "It's really the bankruptcy courts that will ultimately decide this. It's not plaintiff attorneys. It's not Johnson & Johnson.”

Bankruptcy courts have demonstrated again and again that they’re incredibly deferential to corporations. So long as companies have tagged the right bases in setting up their get-out-of-obligations-almost-free spin-offs, there’s an extremely good chance that a bankruptcy judge will side with them and inform those who had a claim against the original company that they’re simply out of luck.

Another way that corporations are privileged far beyond normal people is that they get to engage in extensive court-shopping. For example, Johnson & Johnson is headquartered in New Jersey. However, it formed LTL Management in Texas to take advantage of how laws in that state allow for a high-speed shift in both assets and obligations. Then J&J attorneys climbed on a plane to file bankruptcy in North Carolina, assuring that their case will be heard in a district where they feel like they’ll get the best results.

All of which seems like a big f##k you to women facing ovarian cancer possibly related to the use of Johnson & Johnson’s product.

Many of the largest and most profitable corporations in the United States pay no taxes, and a distressing number of those in Congress seem to be happy about that idea. But it shouldn’t be too much to ask that when these corporations cause harm, they aren’t able to simply toss off a born-to-fail spin-off and keep on going without so much as a regret.

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Author's note:
The reason I’m so familiar with the situation at Peabody is that I was employed by a

subsidiary of Peabody Holdings at the time of the Patriot spin-off. However, I was never a
corporate officer and hold no inside knowledge of the spin-off, assets, or obligations

involved.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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QAnon streamer convinced Democrats are pedophiles turns out to be registered sex offender
April Siese

A QAnon streamer whose incendiary rants accusing Democrats of running a pedophile cabal earned him thousands of followers and led to his deplatforming on YouTube has been revealed to be a registered sex offender. David Todeschini, who goes by the name David Trent on his Net4Truth BitChute channel, was convicted of one count of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of second-degree sodomy, according to the New York sex offender registry.

Todeschini’s real name and convictions were revealed by Right Wing Watch, which is dedicated to monitoring right-wing activists. The site was tipped off by Gabe Hoffman, who executive produced a documentary aiming to expose pedophilia in Hollywood, titled An Open Secret. Todeschini is considered a “level three threat,” defined by the New York sex offender registry as “high risk of repeat offense and a threat to public safety exists.”

The conspiracy theorist was 45 years old in 1996 when he coerced and sexually violated an 8-year-old boy. Todeschini was convicted a few years later and sentenced to 28 months to 7 years in state prison. He was released from prison in 2006 and has gone on to make a name for himself in the QAnon community.
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The year prior to his release, Todeschini published a book he claimed exposes government secrets like “CIA drug smuggling, the JFK assassination, Operation Phoenix, Covert Operations, etc.” A surprisingly prolific writer, Todeschini’s works include a book purporting to teach readers to become human lie detectors and a book titled Psychiatry, Mind Control, Genocide, and Infanticide. Right Wing Watch notes that in 2006 Todeschini wrote a blog post defending Michael Jackson against child sexual abuse allegations.

Todeschini is a prolific streamer and frequently posts videos like “CABAL ARRESTED absolute proof” and “Epstein NOT Dead - on board his boat surrounded by military” packed with memes, rants, and outright threats to lawmakers. His latest show, titled “THE DS BS NEVER ENDS,” was released the day after Right Wing Watch’s report was published. Throughout the 46-minute video, Todeschini complains about the mainstream media, the trailer park he manages, and once again makes violent threats against Democrats. He does not, however, mention his registered sex offender status.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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The Wall Street Journal's Opinion section published a lengthy letter to the editor from Donald Trump on Wednesday that was full of the former US president's debunked claims and conspiratorial falsehoods about the election he lost last year.

Former Journal staffers said the letter fell far short of the publication's standards. And some current staffers expressed frustration on condition of anonymity.

The Journal's opinion operation is separate from the newsroom — and sometimes downright oppositional toward the news side. But both are part of Rupert Murdoch's cherished newspaper, which is a key part of the News Corp portfolio.

Several Journal reporters grumbled about the letter after it came out on Wednesday, but none were surprised it was published, given the Opinion section's right-wing and contrarian bent.

"I think it's very disappointing that our opinion section continues to publish misinformation that our news side works so hard to debunk," one of the reporters said. "They should hold themselves to the same standards we do!"

It is especially striking since the Journal's newsroom has been lauded for its extensive coverage of Facebook misinformation. Whistleblower Frances Haugen shared documents with the Journal that formed the basis of the Facebook Files series.

Yet the Opinion section is providing a forum for the same sort of bogus content — in this case, election denialism — that Facebook (FB) has been criticized over.

"Putting falsehoods and misinformation in your newspaper and website is a terrible disservice to your readers. It violates their trust and tarnishes your brand," said Ken Herts, a veteran Journal executive, wrote on Twitter. Herts is now COO of The Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

Herts was responding to a former deputy managing editor of the Journal, Bill Grueskin, who wrote, "Why didn't the editorial page fact-check it, or delete the most egregious lies? Good question!"

Similar disputes over differing standards have broken out in the past between the news and opinion camps and have sometimes spilled into public view.

On Wednesday, some Journal newsroom staffers hinted at their dissatisfaction through retweets that were critical of the Trump letter. At least one reporter retweeted The Daily Beast's Matt Fuller, who wrote, "Newspapers don't exist so that powerful people can publish whatever lies they want. In fact, that may be one of the very opposite reasons newspapers exist."


So what was the justification for publishing the letter to the editor? No comment, thus far. A spokesman for the Journal did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
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The 14 things you need to know about Trump’s letter in the Wall Street Journal


 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Tucker Carlson has created a very special pack of lies, all about defending white supremacists
Mark Sumner

Tucker Carlson is, of course, a jackass. But he’s not just any jackass. Carlson is an authoritarian propagandist who is just a quarter-inch of upper lip hair away from going full Führer at any given moment.

When it comes to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, Republican leadership in Congress might have had 15 minutes in which they were concerned that an attempted overthrow of democracy was a bad thing. Carlson never suffered any such qualms. He’s been right there all along, defending the horned and the handcuff-carrying and explaining how it’s the people who tried to protect Congress and preserve the outcome of the election who are the real villains of the piece.

But just in case his viewers haven’t gotten the message—the very, very loud, screamy, sneery message—that the people smashing through windows and smearing their poo in the halls of the Capitol are the good guys, dammit, Carlson intends to drive it home with (duh, duh, dah) a very special presentation. Those who want to see Tucker’s new series are going to have to keep their Orville von Richthofen popcorn warm until Nov. 1.

However, an equally special preview of that series is out now, in which Carlson devotes almost all of his time to defending America’s most sacred institution: white supremacy. Oh, and Joe Biden pulled out of Afghanistan so he could use the helicopters to attack Republicans. You have been warned.
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Though including a link to a Tucker Tweet violates all rules of good taste, and certainly good journalism, I’m posting it here because this has to be seen to be believed.



In just a few seconds of trailer footage, Carlson informs his views that:
  • “Half the nation” is now the target of a “patriot purge” being conducted using helicopters pulled from Afghanistan.
  • The left is “hunting the right,” sticking American citizens in Guantanamo Bay and “leaving them there to rot.”
  • And most of all, that Jan. 6 is a “false flag” operation designed to give the left an excuse to can all those poor, peaceful patriots.
But the peachiest, most patrioty part of the video may be the way that Carlson scorns the idea of considering white supremacy as a threat. Because that section includes a nice video of KKK members marching in Washington. No big deal, y’all.

There are also lots of helicopters and … is that a drone? It looks like a drone popping out of the Capitol to pursue Republicans. Whether the drone can transport them straight to Guantanamo isn’t made clear.

All of this seems ridiculous, because it is ridiculous. But as we’ve seen over and over again in the last five years, ridiculous doesn’t mean harmless. It has never meant harmless. Just because everything Carlson is saying is a lie, doesn’t matter when Fox will do nothing but deliver the information without correction. That what he is doing is lifting up poor picked-on white supremacists is even worse, Because, just as they quickly determined that whatever Trump supporters did on Jan. 6 was just fine, Republicans have quickly determined that whether they’re called Proud Boys or the KKK, white supremacists are more than just okay. They’re the good guys in the fight with that monster Antifa and all his Black friends.

Carlson is far from alone in his embrace of white supremacists. On Wednesday night, right-wing propagandists Judicial Watch sent out their latest missive, bragging that they had obtained a collection of documents from the Park Service Police. Documents that just happened to already be in the public domain, but in any case, what the folks at Watch learned from looking through letters back few months before events of Jan. 6 was that the park police were concerned about Proud Boys and other groups planning violence at pro-Trump events. From this, Judicial Watch concludes that the police were “closely monitoring the First Amendment-protected activities of Americans.”

Judicial Watch also goes out of the way to insist that the email warning:

“Pantifa/bLM Balt/DC branches are already bussing in people to disturb Jan. 6. Orders given to dress like ‘MAGA’ blend in cause trouble especially around cameras. At night arson has been ordered. All to be blamed on Trump supporters attending.”

This “warning” was actually just police noting a tweet from some guy’s Twitter account that claimed the user is “a Senate candidate for MD in 2022. He retweets a lot from Lin Wood.” So a false claim goes out from Lin Wood, pick it up when it’s retweeted by a GOP “Senate candidate in 2022,” and then Judicial Watch recycles it to keep the mythology of “false flag” waving.

What Carlson and Judicial Watch are feeding their eager right-wing consumers is a stream of not just justification for Jan. 6, but fear. Heaping helpings of fear, delivered with claims that make Q Anon seem like Snopes.

And to do it, they’re championing not just white people, but white supremacists as a put-upon minority. Whether that’s the most dangerous portion of what these people are selling is debatable. But it’s certainly the most disgusting.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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New SEC filing uncovers call made from Sen. Burr to brother-in-law minutes before stocks dumped
Rebekah Sager

If it isn’t suspicious enough that Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina dumped millions of dollars worth of stocks a week before the economic trash fire ignited by the COVID-19 pandemic, new information has come to light that he advised his in-law to do the same.

According to a new Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, Burr spoke with brother-in-law Gerald Fauth for a little less than a minute, but long enough for Fauth to immediately hang up and call his broker and sell between $97,000 and $280,00 worth of shares in six companies.

Per reporting by ProPublica, Fauth, a member of the National Mediation Board, dumped his stocks the same day as Burr, but the new information was released in an effort by the SEC to impel Fauth into complying with a subpoena he’s stalled on for more than a year. He claims to have a medical condition that inhibits him from complying.
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The new SEC filing indicates that there’s an ongoing investigation of insider trading by both Burr and Fauth, accusing Fauth of “a relentless battle” to elude the subpoena, and alleging that Burr had private information about the economic tsunami poised to hit the U.S. in the wake of the pandemic based on his role at the time as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as well as through staffers who were intimately involved in the government’s response to the virus.

Burr sold off between $628,000 and $1.72 million in stocks on Feb. 13 in 33 transactions, according to ProPublica.

But the most egregious of his actions was lying to the public about how well the pandemic was being handled, even writing an op-ed on Feb. 7 assuring Americans that “the United States today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus, in large part due to the work of the Senate Health Committee, Congress and the Trump Administration.” And we all know how that turned out—741,000 people are dead in the U.S. in large part due to the lack of handling from former two-time impeached, one-term President Donald “It’s Going to Go Away” Trump.

Also, according to a secret recording obtained by NPR, Burr warned a group of bigwigs at a social club of the coming economic disaster that would hit thanks to the coronavirus.

“There's one thing that I can tell you about this. It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything we've seen in recent history. It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic,” Burr said.

“As the chairman of the intel committee, there's no message I could come with today that would have been uplifting,” he added. “Every company should be cognizant of the fact that you may have to alter your travel. You may have to look at your employees and judge whether the trip they're making to Europe is essential or whether it can be done in a video conference. Why risk it?”

Of course, Burr denies he used his inside information and claims he made his stock decisions based on public information.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Charlottesville neo-Nazi gets legal advice from white supremacists and news from ... Tucker Carlson
Walter Einenkel

In the middle of August 2017, a bunch of neo-Nazis calling themselves “white nationalists” stormed into Charlottesville, Virginia, under the pretense that participants wanted to show off how organized they were. Over two days, the Unite the Right rally devolved into violence, with one person dead and dozens others injured. The impetus for the rally was the proposed removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The devolution didn’t have to go very far to become dangerous. While counterprotester Heather Heyer lost her life after convicted murderer James Fields plowed his car into her section of peaceful protesters, then-President Donald Trump characterized a large swath of the white supremacists there that day as “very fine people.”

In October 2021, a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by the victims in the community who were intimately affected by the white supremacist violence that day began its trial phase. There are 24 defendants in the case, including alt-right racist Richard Spencer and white supremacist podcaster Christopher Cantwell, which has made the jury selection and proceedings thus far a somewhat unbalanced display of antifa conspiracy theories and general white persecution complex gunk. The two snowflakes are seemingly trying to represent themselves in court. It hasn’t gone well, and attorneys who have tried to represent Cantwell in particular have had to drop him, citing “repugnant or imprudent” behavior on his part.
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Cantwell, who was known almost exclusively in right-wing white nationalist supremacist circles, is best known as the “crying Nazi.” After at least three attorneys declined to represent him, Cantwell reportedly hired a lawyer who “appeared in court wearing an early-1800s-style red waistcoat with gold buttons, bowtie, white muttonchop whiskers, black velcro shoes, and a 1910s-style straw boater hat.”

Before this civil lawsuit, Cantwell was convicted of extortion and threatening other racists and antisemites he was fighting with in September 2020. When he was arrested, federal officials found “7 guns, a machete and a crossbow in the residence and his car.” Since the pre-trial began a few weeks ago, there have been reports from the courtroom of all kinds of unhinged interruptions, objections, and ...



Buzzfeed News reports that Jarrett William Smith, a man who spent five months in the same medium-security unit with Cantwell in Marion, Illinois, has some insight into how Cantwell has gotten his news, and the articulation of his thoughts during this time. Smith told the media outlet that Cantwell was a part of a group of white supremacists who banded together. How did they stay in touch with what was happening in the world around them? By way of Tucker Carlson, that’s how.

Cantwell, Smith said, felt emboldened by the TV host’s diatribes, and thought they echoed those he promoted and that helped fuel the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017. Those messages included ones about the “Great Replacement Theory,” a white supremacist delusion based on the bogus assumption that Democrats and liberal progressives are working to replace white people of European descent with non-European immigrants.

Carlson has been working the ins and outs of white supremacy, with dog whistles as well as right on the nose white supremacist propaganda like “great replacement theory” for some time. He dedicated an entire rant to it at the end of September. The fact that a bigot like Cantwell would look to Carlson as his North Star is no surprise. Carlson and his team of craven cynics have dedicated a lot of programming to defending people like Cantwell.



According to Buzzfeed, besides taking notes on how to be Christopher Cantwell on television and not in a federal prison,* he has been getting some free legal advice from … fellow imprisoned white supremacists.

The men who helped Cantwell with his legal strategy are other white supremacists who are incarcerated in the same federal prison, Matthew Hale and William “Bill” White. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Hale “earned a law degree from Southern Illinois University and successfully passed the bar exam” but “the Illinois State Bar Association deemed Hale unfit for practice due to his racial activism.” He was once also the leader of the World Church of the Creator, which the SPLC described as once being "one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in America.” It doesn’t appear that White, who started the American National Socialist Workers’ Party, has had any formal legal training.

Matthew Hale is serving a 40-year prison sentence for soliciting the murder of federal Judge Joan Lefkow. William White was convicted and sentenced to 42 months in federal prison back in 2013 “for soliciting violence to the foreman of a federal jury in Chicago that convicted” the aforementioned Hale. White has had more time added to his incarceration after he attempted to extort money from his ex-wife and continued making threats against public officials. Real “fine” people there.

Spencer, who briefly enjoyed some public level of notoriety, has mostly disappeared from public view as he deals with mounting debt for his part in the Unite the Right riots and the carnage it begat. His mounting legal and financial problems are just the tip of the karmic iceberg he deserves.

*Spoiler alert: You need to be born rich!

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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OH YES! FOX News Ranter Dan Bongino Gets Bumped From His Radio Show - Over Vaccine Mandate?
News Corpse

The Great Vaccine Mandate Debate rages on - exclusively on Fox News! Ever since President Biden proposed a plan to save more American lives from the ravages of COVID-19 by getting more people vaccinated, Fox News has engaged in a brazenly dishonest campaign to portray it as tantamount to tyranny. Never mind that Fox News imposed their own stricter mandate prior to Biden's initiative.

Among the most hyperbolic blowhards on Fox News making a fuss of this issue is the weekend host of Unfiltered, Dan Bongino. He has recently joined with his Fox colleagues in "doubling down as a giant middle finger to Joe Biden’s tyranny." It was an explicit admission that their opposition to vaccines is rooted in politics, not science or humanity.

Bongino has also babbled his anti-vax banter on his radio show. He even went so far as to pick an on-air fight with his syndicator, Westwood One/Cumulus Media, over their corporate vaccine mandate. Bongino virtually dared Cumulus to fire him for not being vaccinated. And while he is basking in the faux-tough guy image he wants to present, he is still too cowardly to give Fox News the same ultimatum.

Now it is being reported that Bongino has been removed from the schedule this week. Neither Westwood One nor Cumulus is commenting on why they have replaced his show, but Bongino, as is typical of right-wing gasbags, is clucking about it himself:

"Several affiliates have told Radio Ink that Westwood One has put The Dan Bongino Show into 'best of' mode for the remainder of the week. His program was not on the radio yesterday. Bongino has been ranting on his show about Cumulus’ vaccine mandate."

No one has bothered to explain what would constitute the "best of" Bongino. Some one would say that dead air would do the trick. But this is what Bongino had to say about it:

"They didn’t consult with us content providers. I strongly object to the mandate. The fight with them is having a real impact. Behind the scenes it’s getting a little ugly here. I wasn’t on the radio today. I don’t know what they did, played the ‘best of’ or whatever. You don’t treat people this way. You don’t let people go because they insist their body is theirs."

Bongino has every right to decline to get vaccinated. But he doesn't have the right to become a potential deadly danger to others. Upwards of 90% of all new coronavirus infections - and deaths - are among the unvaccinated (and most of them are among Fox News viewers). What's more, corporations have the right and obligation to maintain a safe work environment and provide for the welfare of their employees.

So if Bongino doesn't want to get vaccinated, he can make that choice. But he must be prepared to accept the consequences. And if he had any integrity he would resign from both his radio gig and his program on Fox News out of a commitment to his "principles," warped and selfish as they might be.