Monday’s Long Reads

An amazing in-depth analysis of SC Civil Forfeiture Laws consisting of multiple parts. Here is part one. Here are the rest. Lawmakers are already working on reforms.

Private Mossad for Hire: Inside a plot to influence American elections, starting with one small-town race.

A toxic crisis in America’s coal country (featuring Wyoming County in West by God Virginny)

Facing A Critical Shortage Of Drivers, The Trucking Industry Is Changing

According to Kevin McCarthy and AIPAC, this post is anti-Semitic.






33 replies
  1. 1
    eemom says:

    That’s great, Cole. Kick things off by trivializing anti-Semitism when the issue du jour does NOT involve the tired old trop of a right wingnut exploiting that term to silence criticism of Israel — but rather, as anyone with any sense agrees, statements by a Congresswoman that DO perpetuate anti-Semitic tropes. And by all means throw in the old AIPAC boogeyman.

    I’m disappointed. I frankly thought better of you.

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  2. 2
    eemom says:

    why the fuck is THAT in moderation??

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  3. 3
    different-church-lady says:

    I like this new literate Cole.

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  4. 4

    According to Kevin McCarthy and AIPAC, this post is anti-Semitic.

    LOL John, I thought about that as I incorporated that article into my post that will be coming up in a bit.

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    CarolDuhart2 says:

    People are tired of justifying the land disposession and the Palestinian oppression for religious reasons and for seemingly “democratic” Israel. Israel can stand on its own two feet and finally let Palestinians have either their own land or citizenship along with reparations for those who cannot return. The justification using terrorist memes is designed to have us ignore the massive military and economic disproportion. Hamas (usually brought out at this point) has the military and economic power of say, the IRA at the height of the Troubles at best. So no, letting Palestinians be citizens will not destroy anything. There will be hard feelings on both sides, but people will adjust. And a nation that needs an anti-BDS law has lost its mind and its way. Boycott and Divestment is peaceful and encourages negotiation and quiet pressure for justice.

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  8. 8
    Brachiator says:

    Can I also throw in a medium long read about Finland’s experiment with Universal Basic Income?

    Finland Gave People $640 A Month, No Strings Attached. Here’s What Happened.

    A shorter summary story from the BBC

    Finland basic income trial left people ‘happier but jobless’

    Giving jobless people in Finland a basic income for two years did not lead them to find work, researchers said.

    From January 2017 until December 2018, 2,000 unemployed Finns got a monthly flat payment of €560 (£490; $634).

    The aim was to see if a guaranteed safety net would help people find jobs, and support them if they had to take insecure gig economy work.

    While employment levels did not improve, participants said they felt happier and less stressed.

    Apologies if this has already been discussed.

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  9. 9
    Yarrow says:

    Re: the “private Mossad” article, Harvey Weinstein hired former Mossad agents who now run a private security agency to investigate Rose McGowen.

    Harvey Weinstein allegedly hired an “army of spies”, including former Mossad agents, in an attempt to stop accusers from going public with sexual misconduct claims against him, according to a report in the New Yorker.

    Among the private security agencies hired by Weinstein starting around autumn 2016, the magazine claims, was Black Cube, which is largely run by former officers of Israeli intelligence agencies, including Mossad. Another was corporate intelligence giant Kroll.

    The report, published on 6 November, alleges that two Black Cube investigators met with actor Rose McGowan, who later publicly accused Weinstein of rape, to obtain information.

    Link.

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  10. 10
    ruemara says:

    You’re managing to read a lot of interesting things, John. Are you still sick?

    @Brachiator: I really felt that article in the BBC was misfocused. If the job market isn’t improved, then what work are they supposed to find? UBI won’t shift the market.

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  11. 11
    khead says:

    One more. Look, I know the douchebag that is Pete Hegseth is just trolling folks to “own the libs” now. But in my perfect world there would be a time machine that would send him to Andersonville prison circa spring 1864.

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  12. 12
    Brachiator says:

    On truckers

    The American Trucking Associations figures companies need about 60,000 drivers, a number that could top 100,000 in just a few years.

    Interesting that Trump’s new tax law makes it hard on truck drivers who are employees by eliminating miscellaneous itemized deductions such as per diem expenses, union dues, work clothes, etc.

    Also, a lot of hot takes on the future of self-driving trucks:

    Self-driving trucks: what’s the future for America’s 3.5 million truckers?

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    @Yarrow: Hmmm. Black Cube, eh?

    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/ap-exclusive-undercover-spy-exposed-nyc-1-many-012012517.html

    “… the operatives were “looking for dirt and irrelevant information about people involved.” “

    Smearing witnesses before they can testify? Sounds oddly familiar.

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  14. 14

    @Brachiator: This is starting to be a self-fulfilling prophecy – there aren’t enough drivers, so companies look to automate. The strides to automation give potential new drivers pause, and may discourage new talent. This compounds the problem of not enough drivers. Why go through the trouble of getting clean (legally and biologically) getting a CDL, only to get paid shit until your job gets eliminated by automation.

    For a second or two I thought about getting a CDL for post-retirement opportunities. A couple of years of being on the road sounds pretty appealing, until I see the shit these folks have to go through to earn a living. No thanks.

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  15. 15
    Brachiator says:

    @ruemara:

    I really felt that article in the BBC was misfocused. If the job market isn’t improved, then what work are they supposed to find? UBI won’t shift the market.

    A good question. You could also ask what people are supposed to do if automation and other changes eliminate more jobs?

    In the US, I think that one thing that could help would be to nationalize unemployment and widen health insurance to make it easier for people to move to cities and regions with better employment opportunities.

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  16. 16
    Pogonip says:

    I think civil forfeiture should be outlawed entirely.

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    John Cole says:

    @ruemara: I read this much every day, just realized I should be sharing it because I don’t have time to write about all of them.

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    @Brachiator:
    One thing I haven’t seen discussed is that driverless trucks are really only practical for point-to-point driving like long-haul trucking. There is still a lot of trucking that involves making deliveries at multiple stops, where the driver also serves as a delivery person. They may be able to automate the driving in the near future, but it will take a while longer before they can automate the delivery side.

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    khead says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Yup. I don’t mean to get all Atrios up in here, but I will believe in driverless trucks when one makes the journey over the mountains from Tazewell, VA to Welch, WV.

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    Dev Null says:

    @John Cole: Props!

    Please continue to do so.

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    Brachiator says:

    @Roger Moore:

    One thing I haven’t seen discussed is that driverless trucks are really only practical for point-to-point driving like long-haul trucking. There is still a lot of trucking that involves making deliveries at multiple stops, where the driver also serves as a delivery person. They may be able to automate the driving in the near future, but it will take a while longer before they can automate the delivery side.

    Very interesting point. So, you segment the industry. And then ultimately you deploy drones to make the deliveries. More automation.

    @khead:

    Yup. I don’t mean to get all Atrios up in here, but I will believe in driverless trucks when one makes the journey over the mountains from Tazewell, VA to Welch, WV.

    Yep. It’s not going to be easy. But even if you could use these vehicles on easy routes, the impact on the industry would be significant.

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    @khead:
    It’s important to remember that you don’t have to replace drivers on all the routes to make things work. You start by replacing drivers on the easiest routes and work your way to harder and harder jobs. By the time you have robot delivery trucks that can handle urban traffic, technology may have advanced enough to give it a robot to do the deliveries.

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    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @khead:

    My paternal great-great-great-grandfather, John Hogan, and his son, John Hogan Jr, my great-great-grandfather, were both captured (quite separately) by Confederate soldiers, imprisoned at Andersonville, and died there — one of dysentery, one of typhoid. They were locked up in separate, well-distant stockades or whatever the buildings were called, and in all likelihood neither one ever knew the other was there. I have no data on how often or thoroughly they washed their hands.

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    Martin says:

    @BruceFromOhio: There are two benefits to automation – and I think people focus on the wrong one. About ⅓ of trucking costs is the labor of the driver. Now, cutting ⅓ of your costs is nontrivial, but there are significant capital costs in terms of replacing equipment to get there. The other, more important benefit is the 10 hour driving limit being eliminated. That gets you double the throughput of your long-haul fleet and allows you to compete with air freight for at least a few more highly perishable goods.

    Automation is inevitable. It’s just a question of how long before it’s really viable.

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  26. 26
    Martin says:

    @Brachiator: Another mistake I think a lot of people make is assuming that all of these problems need to be solved on the vehicle, when I believe a fair number of them will be solved in the infrastructure. I think it’s unavoidable that we’ll put sensors and electronic transmitters in roadways to make autonomous vehicles more reliable. Combined with high torque electric drive which can do double duty as braking motors, even fairly challenging roads shouldn’t be all that hard.

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  27. 27

    @Martin:

    The other, more important benefit is the 10 hour driving limit being eliminated.

    *shivers* great, 20 tons rolling at 65mph by a human who has been at the wheel for ten hours. Somehow ‘benefit’ isn’t the word that comes to mind.

    Automation is indeed inevitable, agreed.

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  28. 28

    @Martin:

    Now, cutting ⅓ of your costs is nontrivial, but there are significant capital costs in terms of replacing equipment to get there.

    I think this is much less of a big deal than you’re making it out to be, and for two reasons:

    1) Trucks have a limited lifespan, so you’re going to have to replace them anyway. When it’s time to replace existing trucks, the companies will pay extra to get self-driving models.

    2) The cost is likely to be fairly reasonable. The article Brachiator linked to mentioned Otto (a company founded by Google alumni) promising to be able to retrofit trucks to driverless technology for $30K. It seems unlikely that getting it built in from the factory will be any more expensive. Even if it’s several times that much, it pays for itself in reduced driver pay pretty quickly.

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  29. 29

    @Martin:
    I think smart infrastructure helping driverless vehicles will be nice, but most of the smarts will have to stay in the vehicle. From a practical standpoint, it’s going to be a long time before we can retrofit every road and street in the country with assistive infrastructure, so driverless vehicles will need to be able to do without for the foreseeable future in any case. That would also be necessary to deal with infrastructure failure like power outages. There’s also a security risk; we don’t want people to be able to hijack trucks or cause accidents by hacking the road network.

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  30. 30
    Brachiator says:

    @Martin:

    I think it’s unavoidable that we’ll put sensors and electronic transmitters in roadways to make autonomous vehicles more reliable. Combined with high torque electric drive which can do double duty as braking motors, even fairly challenging roads shouldn’t be all that hard.

    As others have noted, rebuilding roads to benefit these vehicles is a daunting task. But I think you are right on the money when you point out some of the benefits of high torque electric drive for future generations of trucks, etc.

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    khead says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I just like throwing that route out there as an example of roads that will never be ok for automation. The infrastructure cost is too much. But the interstates? Especially rural ones? Yeah, I can see that. But probably not in my lifetime. If a young adult wants to be a long haul trucker I think they could still make a career out of it – but probably not their kids.

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  32. 32

    @khead:
    As I said to Martin above, I think most of the smarts will have to stay in the vehicle rather than the road. Smart infrastructure will mostly be about avoiding congestion and accidents rather than something necessary for autonomous vehicles to work. Back roads will be harder because they’re harder to drive on in general, not because they won’t get upgrades that are required for autonomous vehicles to work at all.

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    Gvg says:

    We aren’t spending and thinking about the roads, bridges and railways we have. I just can’t see this happening anytime soon. It seems almost as unlikely as cold fusion. I generally believe tech is going to advance dramatically as it has my whole life. But this one seems to complicated in ways we aren’t dealing with at all well right now. If we ever get to doing taxation and spending the way we should on other things, then infrastructure like this could become doable, but not now. I also think it’s not going to be a priority once global warming problems take over.

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