Thursday, November 26, 2020

A K-5 Appropriate STEM Activity, From NASA's OSIRIS-REx Team...

Something to do, over the long weekend away -- to keep the minds of all the bright little ones (and bright they all are!). . . engaged in STEM-related science projects (with a series of them here, actually -- linked, as well). Use this the same way the "Flat Stanley" was used in the early 2000s, at school show and tell time. . . . smile.

And a Happy Thanksgiving evening -- goes out, to one and all -- of good will. . . .


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

[U] The Departing Agent Orange Team Continues To Violate Lawful Federal Court Orders, As To CHILDREN In ICE Custody. Deplorable.

In this matter, the remaining 55 or so days will seem. . . an eternity, until Mr. Biden can order the end of this foot =-dragging set of violations -- supervised by one Sarah Fabian. I suspect she will be asked to leave her position, on the second day, if she hasn't already departed voluntarily by then.

This is from the latest status report, filed overnight in LA's federal district courthouse:

. . .Settlement ¶ 28A provides: “The INS, through the Juvenile Coordinator, shall also collect information regarding the reasons for every placement of a minor in a detention facility or medium security facility.” Settlement ¶ 29 provides: “[T]he INS shall provide to Plaintiffs’ counsel the information collected pursuant to Paragraph 28, as permitted by law, and each INS policy or instruction issued to INS employees regarding the implementation of this Agreement.” Defendants have not reported the reasons for holding Class Members (1) in CBP detention facilities, (2) in ORR facilities where Class Members are detained (i.e. not free to leave the facilities even if they are licensed), or (3) in ICE holding rooms, hotels, or transport companies under contract by ICE. . . .

DEFENDANTS’ POSITION: Defendants are providing, or have committed to provide, all of the information required by Paragraphs 28.A and 29 of the Agreement. Plaintiffs’ characterization above of their continued requests for information is incomplete and therefore misleading as to what information they continue to request. To the extent that Plaintiffs continue to request that Defendants report information that is not required by the Agreement, Defendants decline to provide this additional reporting. . . .
Updated, on "Pandemic" Thanksgiving Morning 2020: Some better karma -- from a time long ago, in the "before times" -- and an erstwhile commenter's reminder of what we all thought, back then -- about changing things:

In other words, the government has NOT provided. . . all the information required. How does Sarah Fabian sleep at night (only after walking her friends' dogs, as a more important priority than making sure complete reports, about the safety of very young children in jails, are delivered to their lawyers. . . immediately, and with specificity -- as ordered)? How?!


Some More Good News: Eleventh Ebola Outbreak Has Been Declawed; "All Clear" In The DRC.

As of late last week, the latest Ebola after-shock, the eleventh, which arose almost immediately after the end of the tenth outbreak. . . was declared over. An "all clear" has been declared by the WHO.

We must not become so focused on the now over 265,000 dead here, that we forget there have been eleven such episodes, localized in sub-Saharan Africa, with much higher death rates, albeit on much smaller patient populations. The Merck/NewLink vaccine there works. When either the Moderna or Pfizer version becomes available here for COVID-19, please do line up to take it, when your turn is made available. Here's the latest from the European verson of the CDC:

. . .The declaration came 42 days after the last case tested negative twice.

This most recent outbreak in the DRC took place in Equateur Province in the north-west of the country. It was first declared an outbreak on 1 June 2020 and affected a total of 130 cases (119 confirmed, 11 probable), of whom 55 died and 75 survived, in 13 health zones. Three healthcare workers were also reported among the cases.

This latest outbreak in the western DRC arose during the period in which the 10th outbreak in the eastern DRC was coming to an end, which genetic sequencing results confirmed as a separate event. However, the 9th Ebola outbreak occurred between May and July 2018, in the same part of the country as this most recent outbreak, and led to a total of 54 cases and 33 deaths. . . .

Good news, indeed -- with deep lessons for the continuing efforts to arrest another highly contagious virus: COVID-19. Contact tracing, and ring vaccinations -- after the vaccination of all front line health care workers probably ought to be the first marching orders Mr. Biden gives, in January 2021.

Onward -- stay safe and healthy this holiday weekend -- but most of all, stay. . . away from larger gatherings. Missing one or two holiday meals is a small price to pay, to save your life -- or the life of an elderly or immuno-compromised relative.

Travel well, but travel light, Dr. Sol Flores. . . . 98, and the first Filipino dentist ever licensed in Illinois. . . COVID respects no one. Just the same, we will see you, when we meet again. . . . नमस्ते

Monday, November 23, 2020

Arecibo: Bidding A Fond Farewell -- Via A Fine Longer Read, In Slate...

I'll simply link to it.

Okay, I lied -- I have to quote just this bit, as it is precisely what captured my imagination, back then, as well:

. . .But then, we have "Contact", which is to me the film that matches the heart of what Arecibo means to the world: a physical representation of our most human longings, our deepest desires. It’s in our nature to ask questions, to ask, especially, Are we alone in this world? To have even a chance at finding that answer holds so much power.

My entire life I’ve dreamed of going there, of standing on that ledge like Ellie, just contemplating the possibilities of what the dish could find. I wanted to be like her, to be that intelligent and brave. My own obsession with those big questions grew, and it eventually led me to writing about space and all the incredible things we learn by looking and listening to the universe. Ellie proudly and firmly states she is not studying pulsars or quasars or globular clusters -- no, she is looking for signs of life. And when she’s told that work is nonsense, she answers, “I don’t consider what could potentially be the biggest discovery of the human race; the most impactful moment. . . in the history. . . of history. . . to be nonsense. . . .”
Me either, Dr. Arroway -- me either. So we will continue on, now at the VLA and at the Allen array, and in about two years, via the James Webb Space Telescope (during slack cycles). . . we will just keep. . . looking, and listening -- and hoping that a [signal] will rise. To the beat of a four count rythm -- perhaps even at a frequency of. . . hydrogen, times Pi. . . .

Travel well; but travel light. . . my good and long-suffering friend.


We Are Likely To See The Video And Notes From The September 1, 2020 "Barr Star Chamber" Meeting, In Kenosha, WI: With Pictures!

It was closed to the press, but the Tangerine Oaf and Billy Barr, as well as numerous state and federal law enforcement officers were there -- deciding how to more fully militarize local police forces, in secret.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund sued, correctly pointing out that we don't cotton to star chambers here in the New World. It is more than a little bit why many of the early ship-loads of people landing at Plymouth Rock -- and in what would become Virginia -- left England and Europe: to end the peril of trials held by secret tribunals, in abstentia. For that, Old World serfs could be imprisoned for life, tortured into a confession by the rack -- or worse -- beheaded.

So some of them came to the new land, and firmly established a government that would be transparent: it would let her people know what decisions were being made -- about them. Especially as regards law enforcement.

Just look (at right) at how the dotard rolled heavy, into Kenosha, and then sealed off a south Kenosha public high school, with camo-clad militia units, and automatic weapons drawn, while he and his boys. . . met. That's not cricket -- and the able USDC Judge John D. Bates (sitting in DC) said so three weeks ago. Just this afternoon, he's entered a new order in DC, requiring essentially real time disclosure of the notes, minutes and recordings of all such meetings. Read it all, but here's the bit:

. . .ORDERED that, prior to releasing the Commission’s report and by not later than November 25, 2020, defendant shall release (1) any records (including transcripts) of the June 16, 2020 meeting between Attorney General William P. Barr and the Commission that are covered by 5 U.S.C. app. 2 § 10(b); and (2) the most recent draft of the Commission’s report covered by § 10(b). The parties agree that, given the Court’s conclusion that the Commission is subject to FACA, any “records, reports, transcripts, minutes, appendixes, working papers, drafts, studies, agenda, or other documents which were made available to or prepared for or by each advisory committee” should be available for public inspection. See 5 U.S.C. app. 2 § 10(b); Joint Status Report [ECF No. 55] at 5, 9. Records of the June 16 meeting and the most recent draft of the Commission’s report are easily available and clearly covered by the language of § 10(b) -- and defendants have not argued to the contrary. Thus, requiring the immediate release of these materials allows plaintiffs the opportunity to use the materials in promptly challenging the report upon publication without unduly burdening defendants. . . .

It is further ORDERED that, by not later than December 4, 2020, defendants shall (1) make an initial public release of other materials covered by § 10(b) [Ed Note: this doubtless includes the materials from the Septmeber 1, 20202 South Kenosha High School sessions]; (2) provide plaintiff an estimate of the volume of remaining materials that are subject to disclosure under FACA and a proposed schedule for releasing those materials; and (3) provide plaintiff a description of any categories of documents, including working group documents, that defendants possess but contend are not subject to disclosure under § 10(b). . . .

It is further ORDERED that, by not later than December 16, 2020, the parties shall submit a joint status report that details their progress towards completing document release, identifies any areas of disagreement regarding what documents are covered by § 10(b), and includes proposals for resolving any areas of dispute. . . .

If nothing else, the current occupant of 1600 Penn has left middle-school children a rich legacy of why it is our Constitutional rights and immunities should never be taken for granted. He literally has found almost every possible way to violate the ideas upon which are charters are based.

I guess that's the only silver lining I can find, in my playbook (well. . . that, and it led me to meet loads of great people in Kenosha just three days later, on a return trip -- touring by invitation, with Mr. Biden's team -- and then flipping Wisconsin back to blue, by registering tons of new voters who firmly believe in all the ideas that are. . . the best of what people mean when they say "America").

Onward, smiling all the same -- we only need endure about another 57 more days now. . . .


About A Week Ago -- Parker Solar Data [From Plunge No. Five] Was Released To The Public...

We continue to be enthralled by the only spacecraft named for a still-living person. The solar discoveries data sets are promptly made available to the public -- since our tax dollars fund it -- and. . . we now have set number five.

Here's to the U of C.'s Prof. Parker's lithe and speedy little craft!

From the Parker team's release [with links to the data -- in that press release]:

. . .This latest batch of science data was collected by Parker Solar Probe’s four instrument suites this past summer, and covers the mission’s fifth solar encounter -- including closest approach to the Sun, called perihelion, on June 7 -- and a special observation period for the mission’s third Venus flyby in July.

The data can be accessed through NASA’s Space Physics Data Facility (SPDF) and Solar Data Analysis Center (SDAC), the APL Parker Solar Probe Gateway, and the Science Operation Centers of the four science investigation teams (the University of California, Berkeley; Princeton University; Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; and the Naval Research Laboratory). . . .

Smiling widely, as we watch. . . undulating purples move with unwasted grace, anew. . . onward. . . ever, onward.


Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Above, Explained... Later Tonight -- To Open The Holiday Week, With Better Karma...

Ahem. Coming shortly: the poetic -- and scientific -- explanations, for why the purples undulate, while the greens form long spears -- picket fences, if you will. . . in the northern night skies, of late summer.

The ribbons and picket fences were dubbed "STEVEs" in 2014 -- from "Over the Hedge" the 2006 animated feature, in which all the denizens assign the name "Steve" to any being they cannot identify. It now seems clear that the combination is not an aurora, in the traditional sense -- as it occurs in lower latitudes, and true auroras don't exhibit these long, streaking spears -- the green picket fence optical effect, below the traditional swaying bands of purple. Interestingly, the back-ro-nym "Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement" was coined by Robert Lysak, at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, almost exactly four years ago, tonight -- which was subsequently adopted by the scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The green "fence" emissions seem to be related to eddies in the supersonic flow of charged particles, similar to the eddies seen in a river, which move more slowly than the other water around them. The green bars in the picket fence are moving more slowly than the structures in the purple emissions, and some scientists have speculated they could be caused by turbulence in the charged particles from space.

We may soon know (with fairly high confidence) the specific mechanics of the celestial physics in play here. But for now, NASA | Goddard will continue to study it -- thus:

. . .In 2018, a new aurora-like discovery struck the world. From 2015 to 2016, citizen scientists reported 30 instances of a purple ribbon in the sky, with a green picket fence structure underneath. Now named STEVE, or Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement, this phenomenon is still new to scientists, who are working to understand all its details. What they do know is that STEVE is not a normal aurora – some think maybe it’s not an aurora at all – and a new finding about the formation of streaks within the structure brings scientists one step closer to solving the mystery.

“Often in physics, we build our understanding then test the extreme cases or test the cases in a different environment,” Elizabeth MacDonald, a space scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, explains. “STEVE is different than the usual aurora, but it is made of light and it is driven by the auroral system. In finding these tiny little streaks, we may be learning something fundamentally new in how green auroral light can be produced.”

These “tiny little streaks” are extraordinarily small point-like features within the green picket fence of STEVE. In a new paper for AGU Advances, researchers share their latest findings on these points. They suggest the streaks could be moving points of light – elongated in the images due to blur from the cameras. The tip of the streak in one image will line up with the end of the tail in the next image, contributing to this speculation from the scientists. However, there are still a lot of questions to be answered – determining whether the green light is a point or indeed a line, is one extra clue to help scientists figure out what causes green light.

“I’m not entirely sure about anything with respect to this phenomenon just yet,” Joshua Semeter, a professor at Boston University and first author on the paper, said. “You have other sequences where it looks like there is a tube-shaped structure that persists from image to image and doesn’t seem to conform to a moving point source, so we’re not really sure about that yet.”. . . .

Grinning. . . regular diaspora Zoom fam call, completed now.

And, in motion, the purples:


Rudy G. Says He'll Quickly Appeal The Latest PA Loss To The Supremes -- Where He Will... Lose, Again (Not Even Get A Hearing).

I'll just finish fleshing out the record here, on a couple of cases -- as I sip my hot coffee over Sunday brunch. First one, Rudy says he "welcomes" (Hah!) the completely humiliating loss of last night, in federal court in Pennsylvania -- as he can't wait to get to the Supremes. . . erh, good luck with that, Mr. Kraken/Leaky-Head.

An additional thought on Rudy's G.'s quixotic quest: it is not clear whether he'll file first in the Third Circuit, in order to at least marginally increase the chances that he might get a hearing at the Supremes, or whether he'll go straight to the Supremes, and be all but assured of a. . . summary order list (no opinion) denial. Either way, the ultimate outcome is entirely free from doubt.

He. . . loses.

Agent Orange loses. Full stop.

Yes, Mr. Biden is the 46th President-Elect.

Finally, and of at least slightly more substance, I've been meaning to link the full opinion in the Marland case, also out of Pennsylvania, now on appeal -- it is the OTHER TikTok injunction against Agent Orange, and Wilbur Ross orders. We just haven't covered it, as it largely duplicates the DC efforts -- but both are in full force and effect, and prevent any action against TikTok. The old adage here applies: "Belts, suspenders. . . and then. . . staple your pants, to your hips [that is. . . always have a back up plan]."

Housekeeping note: later this afternoon, I'll post an update on the space science front (a more joy-filled one, at that) -- on the graceful, undulating deep purple and green "picket fence" structures. . . lately seen here up north, in auroras. Smile. Onward. . . ever, onward.


Saturday, November 21, 2020

In Which Team Rudy G -- No Longer Furtively Tucking His Shirt -- But Instead Bleeding, At The Ears, Some Dark Chestnut Ink... Gets Bounced Outta' PA

It must be said: all the boot black in America won't make Rudy a lawyer able to win. . . any of these stupid suits. And, no surprise -- he's lost in a truly humiliating way, tonight, in federal court in Pennsylvania.

He made wild eyed assertions, along with Sidney Powell (Ex-Gen. Flynn's lawyer), not two days ago at a cringe-worthy press conference. . . as shoe polish streaked down the sides of his face. Humiliating. Tonight, the able federal district court Judge Brann bounced him out, and told him his claims were so laughable, and his requested remedies so unsupportable -- that he is not allowed back, for another (amended) try. Essentially, there is nothing he could now say or do, to make out a legally cognizable claim of the sort he suggested. Credibility is fragile, in a court of law -- once lost. . . it rarely may be regained:

. . .Plaintiffs [Rudy and Trump] ask this Court to disenfranchise almost seven million voters. This Court has been unable to find any case in which a plaintiff has sought such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election, in terms of the sheer volume of votes asked to be invalidated. One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption, such that this Court would have no option but to regrettably grant the proposed injunctive relief despite the impact it would have on such a large group of citizens.

That has not happened. Instead, this Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence. In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more. At bottom, Plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Therefore, I grant Defendants’ motions and dismiss Plaintiffs’ action with prejudice. . . .

Leave to amend is denied. “Among the grounds that could justify a denial of leave to amend are undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, prejudice, and futility.”140 Given that: (1) Plaintiffs have already amended once as of right; (2) Plaintiffs seek to amend simply in order to effectively reinstate their initial complaint and claims; and (3) the deadline for counties in Pennsylvania to certify their election results to Secretary Boockvar is November 23, 2020, amendment would unduly delay resolution of the issues. This is especially true because the Court would need to implement a new briefing schedule, conduct a second oral argument, and then decide the issues. . . .

Unsurprising -- that Rudy's "drippy octopus ink temples". . . don't know much about any actual election-, or Constitutional- law, any longer. Onward, grinning, anew.


The "Voice of America" Will Remain... Voice Of AMERICA (Not Of Trump): USDC (DC Dist) Judge Howell.

The outcome was always fully-expected (at least in these quarters -- as the autocrats rang the bell, clear, loud and long -- as an assault on the First Amendment free press clause).

But to see it in a black and white opinion and order is. . . reassuring. Our free-wheeling, open democracy, all as covered by a truly free press. . . will march on. And with this opinion, our executive branch's nightmare of flirtation with autocracy. . . is now ending. 60 days -- 60 days.

We haven't mentioned this case before, but the occupant of 1600 Penn put a guy named Michael Pack (no actual NEWS media chops) in the lead, at Voice of America -- a media outlet our tax dollars fully fund. [It had been a US-charter story, ever since 1942 -- to combat Hilter's propaganda, at the time.]

Enter Pack (at 45's behuest), who utterly unlike any of his 80 years' worth of predessors, tried to turn it into a full time Trump propaganda arm, globally. That nonsense has rightly been enjoined, in the federal courts, in DC -- by the able Judge Howell -- here's her well-reasoned 78 page opinon, and a bit:

. . .In 1942, the first transmission made by Voice of America (“VOA”), the official, publicly funded news outlet of the U.S. government abroad, promised foreign VOA listeners: “The news may be good or bad; we shall tell you the truth. . . .”

Together with his five co-defendants, who are individuals with no discernible journalism or broadcasting experience but nonetheless appointed by Pack to senior political leadership positions within USAGM, Pack has sought to interfere in the newsrooms of the USAGM networks, in violation of their eighty-year practice, enshrined in law, of journalistic autonomy, and has allegedly worked systematically to eliminate those USAGM employees and network journalists who both oppose his interference and produce journalistic content that, in Pack’s view, does not align with the political interests of [now departing] President Trump. In pursuit of this goal, Pack allegedly seeks to quash not only coverage that is insufficiently supportive of President Trump, but also any coverage, unless unfavorable, of President Trump’s political opponents.

As this Court has previously observed, “[w]idespread misgivings about Pack’s actions raise troubling concerns about the future of these great institutions designed to advance the values and interests of the United States by providing access to accurate news and information and supporting freedom of opinion and expression in parts of the world without a free press.” Open Tech. Fund v. Pack (“OTF”), No. 20-1710 (BAH), 2020 WL 3605935, at *2 (D.D.C. July 2, 2020), appeal filed, No. 20-5195 (D.C. Cir. July 6, 2020). Further steps taken by Pack and his appointees since that observation was made only deepen those misgivings and prompt plaintiffs’ challenge in the instant suit. Plaintiffs, five senior management officials at USAGM and the Program Director for VOA, claim that defendants’ actions violate the First Amendment, U.S. Const. amend. I, the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (“IBA”), as amended, 22 U.S.C. §§ 6201–16, the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq., and Pack’s fiduciary duties to USAGM as its CEO, and exceed Pack’s statutory authority, through their disregard for the statutory and regulatory “firewall” intended to protect the USAGM networks from Executive branch interference in their daily operations and journalistic endeavors. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 159–201, ECF No. 36. Plaintiffs seek an order preliminarily enjoining defendants’ “unlawful and unconstitutional conduct. . . .”

Upon consideration of the briefing and exhibits submitted by the parties and amici curiae, as supplemented after a hearing on the pending motion for preliminary injunctive relief, the Court concludes that plaintiffs have made the requisite showings, including a likelihood of success on the merits of at least one of their claims, to obtain part of the extraordinary relief they seek. Consequently, as explained in more detail below, their motion is granted. . . .

Very good news.

I am smiling, and smiling widely, as I know kiddos' sweet Christmas photos with Santa will once again become a normal, maskless event -- by this time next year, up here. . . in the great cold white north. With the vaccine nearly in our grasp. . . we must make it available to all, by this time next year. We must.


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Sad Close-Out, From Three Years, And Then Just Months Ago -- At The Iconic Arecibo, Puerto Rico Dish...

The facility was damaged in late 2017 -- now three years ago, as we mentioned. But then it got worse.

We last mentioned this about three and half months ago. I was then hopeful the money could be found.

But between a series of major hurricanes hitting the island, and the ongoing pandemic -- I can easily understand how strained resources are, globally -- and for certain, feeding and sheltering children on the island should always come first. So I guess we bid farewell to a dear old friend:

. . .On Nov. 18, NASA was informed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that, after careful assessment and consideration, they have decided to decommission the 305m radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which recently sustained structural damage from failed cables. The planetary radar capability at Arecibo, funded by NASA’s Near-Earth Object (NEO) Observations Program, has served as one of two major planetary radar capabilities. It has allowed NASA to fully characterize the precise orbits, sizes, and shapes of some NEOs passing within radar range after they are discovered by wide-field optical telescope survey projects. . . .

For decades, the facility has been an important emblem of Puerto Rico’s commitment to international science research and education, and the discoveries enabled by Arecibo’s 305m radio telescope will continue to inspire the next generation of explorers. While the 305m radio telescope is being decommissioned, the Arecibo facility and its STEM education and other assets will continue.

While NASA was not directly involved in the investigation of what led to the observatory’s damage in August, the NSF communicated with stakeholders, including NASA, as their investigation proceeded. NASA respects the National Science Foundation’s decision to put the safety of those who work, visit, and study at the historic observatory above all else. . . .

Travel well. . . but do travel light -- do not let this unfortunate turn of events slow your search for the Infinite in all of us. . . indeed. And perhaps one day, at least possibly, we might -- with a much larger, gymbaling successor device, in China -- hear a signal. One that might suggest we are not alone in this Universe. I firmly believe we are not -- but as a scientist -- I'd like even just a small hint, of some proof of that idea. Be excellent to one another -- for at least for now -- we are all we know we have.


[O/T] "The Rest Of The Story" -- As Paul Harvey Used To Say... On Ex-Riot Director Remo Mancini. "Sunshine, As Antiseptic" Dept.

Or, "In Which Ex-Lead Director Remo Mancini Channels... L. Frank Baum's "Wizard Of... GREED," As Updated -- For 2020."

Well, it is not like we didn't say this was afoot.

It turns out, that only a few days after amending the stock plan for executives (with only one-tenth of the outstanding shares voting in favor of that move -- and without calling out this new and material discretion, in any of the proxy materials), the plan administrator of the executives' stock plan exercised its discretion under the plan, to accelerate a grant. The largest grant ever made under that plan, in its history -- 100 per cent in full, of a grant made only nine months earlier.

It did so, as Mr. Mancini resigned as a director -- at exactly midnight on November 16, 2020 (I told you there would more "back-story" in the official SEC filings, didn't I? Yep -- I did!). At that moment, Riot shares were quoted at $7 per share, on the NASDAQ. His discretionary payout then (as if by magical wizardry, no less!), instantly totaled PRECISELY $3.3 million, on the nose. To walk away without a fight. To retire. To be severed, by the company.

So -- all in, I guess he made well north of $6.8 million for perhaps 40 half-day meetings a year, over a little more than two years.

He took it from a company that has never posted anything but eye-watering losses for its shareholders. [Ed. Note: The total at left below, in my now-dated graphic, from late 2019, calculated the $2.73 million by relying on a much older (i.e., lower) NASDAQ trading price. At over $5.50 a share today, his haul is well over $6.8 million -- when we add in the cash fees he paid himself, for each meeting. Insane.]

It made him, by a factor of ten times, the most highly paid person on Riot's compensation expenses line.

The CEO is making $330,000 a year -- still way too much, but that's one-tenth of what Mancini paid himself.

It strains credulity that Riot's stock popped on the night of the 16th, to exactly $7, when it was $6 and change that afternoon, and returned to about $6 and change the subsequent day -- and is now trading with a $5 handle, on Thursday morning. The figure was painted (likely by sycophant market makers) so Mancini could get exactly $3.3 million in this accelerated vesting.

Sure -- this sort of abuse of small public company shareholders happens pretty regularly, but it just so happens we were watching, this time.

So -- I think a detailed, factual letter is on its way to the SEC enforcement staffers. . . this is abuse, plain and simple.

In any event, good to be rid of Mancini's avarice -- and mendacity. Let's hope this next guy. . . is. . . better.

Onward, grinning now -- on a sunny, and for the city of big shoulders, quite warm day here, by the lake.


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

[O/T] Hapless Lil' Bitcoin Miner Update: Something Weird Is Afoot At Riot Blockchain...

I haven't mentioned this public company in over a year, at least. . . but some truly bizarre stuff went on there today. And the least bizarre part is that it out-ran Bitcoin by about five to one, on the day -- up nearly 60 per cent, for the day. Almost one and a half times all its outstandings changed hands. In a day. At a company losing money, hand over fist for three years without interruption.

Then right after NASDAQ market close, the lead director resigned with immediate effect (he was paid almost $4 million in stock for the past year, at a micro cap company). And a new director was announced, also a Canadian, but no word on whether the 76 year old new guy will be the Chair/Lead director. I expect more SEC disclosures, before dawn tomorrow -- and will update. . . but something is afoot.

This is from my other property on it all, as of 8 PM EST tonight:

Why The Crazy Rush Here, Boys?!

So. . . after taking what now equates to about $4 million, in stock for about nine to twelve months' work (actually, like 50 half-day meetings. . . or so) -- Remo Mancini resigned as lead director today, with immediate effect. [Just yesterday we learned that under one fifth of the outstanding shares were cast for his re-election.]

Wanna' bet he sold all of his shares, effective today -- during the insane run-up?

Wanna' also bet. . . some sort of dispute -- perhaps about number of Bitcoin mined (and the payments in Bitcoin owed to Coinmint in Massena, New York) is in the offing?!

To say this is highly unusual -- on a day with what obviously looks like a pump and dump underway... is a model of understatement. [If Mr. Mancini sold today, SEC rules do not allow him to avoid disclosing that fact, simply by resigning his seat. Stay tuned, for an SEC Form 8-K. . . or several of them -- two day window for disclosure here; then the company is tardy. I would argue that the fact that the stock is up over 50 per cent, on a single day, with more than all the outstandings changing hands... means the legal duty actually becomes a "tonight, or tomorrow -- before NASDAQ market open" one.] Hard to imagine anything much more material, here -- and the SEC rules are qualitative, more than. . . quantitative -- meaning that a disclosure duty is owed before trading begins again on the NASDAQ, if anything is really afoot. So is the midnight oil burning -- in Castle Rock, Colorado, guys?

Then the question becomes. . . does this new Canadian (and former TSX exec) become the new Lead Director, or Chairman -- or does one of the 30-somethings, the other two names on the board?

Finally, did the company have to agree to give Hubert Marleau the same crazily over-laden stock bolus, in compensation?

The mind boggles. . . more in a bit, as I'd rather not just rely on press releases to tell the story -- the official SEC filings may tell more of a back story, as required by Reg S-K. [They have until 10:30 PM Eastern, tonight to get it in, otherwise it goes as a pre-market filing, tomorrow.]

Onward, grinning -- late night here too, perhaps.


Status Update, On Bill Barr's "Star Chamber" Police Commission Injunction Proceedings, In DC -- NAACP LDF Killing 'Em!

The able Legal Defense Fund lawyers at the NAACP are eating Barr's lunch (and thus, since Barr is acting as the personal lawyer of the occupant of 1600 Penn -- eating his lunch, as well). Here is the overnight 17 page updating status report in full.

Preposterously, the government asserts that because it is "deciding" whether to appeal the limited use injunction, the NAACP ought to be required to tread water, on discovery related to the wilfull violations. Of course, this view is supported by no actual case or statutory authority. The able USDC Judge is likely to take a dim view of this nonsense, by Barr's appointees.

The most likely outcome here is going to be that no report gets published before Barr is gone in January 2021. And the whole dispute will be mooted, as Mr. Biden will just ash can this malfeasance. But we will keep an eye on the DC federal district courthouse, just in case. Here's some of the overnight back and forth:

. . .Defendants’ statement that the Solicitor General is considering an appeal from this Court’s November 2, 2020 order, see infra, is of no consequence. Until and unless an appeal is filed and a stay issued, mere indecision on Defendants’ part does not relieve them of the duty to follow FACA’s requirements and this Court’s order effectuating those requirements. To date, Defendants have not filed a notice of appeal or sought a stay. Nor have they provided any indication that this Court has abused its discretion. It is immaterial, therefore, that Defendants may eventually appeal, and they must now promptly comply with this Court’s order. . . .

Defendants admit -- for the first time -- that they did not employ any procedures to prevent inappropriate influence on the Commission’s work [Ed. Note: from Barr or Trump, himself -- who was present at one such meeting in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Septemberr 1, 2020 -- I actually have video of that propaganda day, by the militarized Trump forces -- and was just outside the high school where they met, as they met. It was also (of course!) closed to all press and/or observers]. They argue, however, that FACA imposes no substantive requirement that advisory committees be free of inappropriate influence. This is wrong. Advisory committees
must be substantively free of inappropriate influence, as courts interpreting FACA have long recognized. See, e.g., In re Cheney, 406 F.3d 723, 727 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (noting that FACA provides that “each such [advisory] committee. . . may not be inappropriately influenced by the appointing authority or by any special interest”). . . .

Is. It. January 21, 2021. . . Yet?! Geez. . . these guys are the worst crooks I've ever seen -- both stupid and ineffectual. Out -- glad we registered so many new voters, using that propaganda event by Barr and Voldemort, as contrasted with the real listening undertaken three days later, by Biden (by invitation!) -- in Kenosha -- to turn Wisconsin blue, anew. Smile. . .


From The "Way-Back Machine": 12 Years Ago, This Month: Fred Hassan Was Paid $189 Million -- In Bridge Troll Taxes, To Get Sch-Merck Deal Done...

There have certainly been dozens since the below late-2012 rich old white guys' "census" was taken (I think Mr. O'Neal was the only person of color -- beside Hassan, that made the list), but here are -- as of a decade ago -- at least 21 CEOs who were paid over $100 million each, to walk away. For his part, Mr. Hassan was paid more (per year of "service"), for a shorter time in the job, than nearly anyone on the list. End update.

It is good to see that more and more main stream media outlets are making a more fullsome and realistic accounting of what Ex-CEO Fred Hassan's severance package was really worth, in equity values, to him. Recall that in late 2009, it was widely reported that he was "only getting" around $50 million to leave Schering-Plough, on merger day. [UPDATING NOTE FOR GRAPHIC, AT RIGHT: Add about $4.4 million for each additional dollar of Merck NYSE stock price, above the last SGP quoted NYSE price of $28.15, on merger day, November 3, 2009 -- and with Merck at around $38.50 on the NYSE this morning, the chart at right would yield. . . yep, about $220 to $225 million for Fred Hassan.]

While ABC still isn't fully valuing the equity (by my calcuations, Mr. Hassan carted off around $225 million -- which would place him at No. 4 or 5 on the list), it does peg his exit pay at just under $190 million -- which places him at No. 7, all-time.

Just a bit from the ABC article then -- do go read it all:
. . . .21 CEOs over $100 million

Company | CEO Name | Tenure | Total Payout

1. General Electric | John F. Welch Jr. | 1981-2001 | $417,361,902

2. Exxon Mobil Corp. | Lee R. Raymond | 1993-2005 | $320,599,861

3. UnitedHealth Group | William D. McGuire | 1991-2006 | $285,996,009

4. AT&T | Edward E. Whitacre Jr. | 1990-2007 | $230,048,463

5. Home Depot Inc. | Robert L. Nardelli 2000-2007 | $223,290,123

6. North Fork Bank | John A. Kanas | 1977-2006 | $214,300,000

7. Merck & Co., Inc./Schering-Plough | Fred Hassan | 2003-2009 | $225 Million $189,352,324

8. IBM | Louis V. Gerstner Jr. | 1993-2002 | $189,005,929

9. Pfizer Inc. | Hank A. McKinnell Jr. | 2001-2006 | $188,329,553

10. CVS Caremark Corp. | Thomas M. Ryan | 1998-2011 | $185,415,435

11. Gillette Co. | James M. Kilts | 2001-2005 | $164,532,192

12. Target Corp. | Robert J. Ulrich | 1994-2008 | $164,162,612

13. Merrill Lynch & Co. | E. Stanley O'Neal | 2002-2007 | $161,500,000

14. U.S. Bancorp | Jerry A. Grundhofer | 2001-2006 | $159,064,090

15. Omnicare, Inc. | Joel F. Gemunder | 2001-2010 | $146,001,476

16. Wachovia/South Trust | Wallace D. Malone Jr. | 1981-2004 | $125,292,818. . . .
Fred Hassan ahead of Louis Gerstner at IBM, and Stan O'Neal at Merrill Lynch? I am sorry, but that is. . . disgusting.

To be clear, I will never begrudge Jack Welch (No. 1) his walking pay -- for whatever else one might say about the man, he truly enhanced shareholder value at GE by orders of magnitude -- not just percentages. Hassan is precisely the opposite story -- a bridge troll, and one that required payment, to get a deal done -- i.e., to cross the bridge.

In a year obliterated by a global pandemic -- these times, of a decade or more ago -- or even. . . six to eight years ago, now -- seem an entirely lost life-time ago. But smiling, just the same. . . onward, as mRNA is "the new hotness", where Vytorin was even then "the old and busted joint". . . grinning.


Monday, November 16, 2020

I Think This Is Now A FIFTH Corporate Name Change, Due To The Shkreli-Stigma/Stink...

But it may be the sixth. . . honestly, I've lost count.

And, I suppose (to be fair) the August 2019 flame out of the drug candidate at right may have been the more immediate cause of the renaming. But as we documented, Martin called people questioning him about it "idiots" in a widely rebroadcast lecture from one of the Ivies in 2018, if memory serves.


So -- we will put this name change, along with... KaloBios, Humanigen, Turing, Vyera and Phoenixus. . . on his tab.

Onward, grinning -- in spite of myself. . . yes, name change -- that's the ticket. . . .


Exceedingly Good News! Moderna's mRNA Vaccine Also Over 90% Effective: Preliminary Data

Sure, it is "early look" data, but we continue to think Moderna may actually file with the FDA within days, and thus get FDA approvals a bit ahead of Pfizer. But to be sure, both companies will sell every dose they can produce. And there will be room for multiple others.

Overall this is very good news, and the stock, which could be had at around $35 early this Spring. . . is now pre-market trading at over $100. Nice -- and the reality is (despite 1600 Penn's wilder statements), the dosing of the public is not likely before mid-March 2021.

And, in what may turn out to be the most important advantage for Moderna -- its vaccine is stable, and may be stored at "regular" freezer temperatures (-2 degrees F) for up to 30 days, while the Pfizer candidate needs near liquid nitrogen temps storage and transport logistics, which only major metropolitan hospitals are equipped to support. All of which means the Moderna vaccine may be trucked into very remote areas, with just a regular refrigerator truck. That will make a very important difference in how accessible this is, for the rural US, and the rest of (less infrastructure developed) world. Yes, extremely good news, per the UK's The Guardian:

. . . .Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College, London, said the Moderna results were “tremendously exciting” and boosted optimism that a choice of good Covid vaccines would be available in the next few months.

He said the inclusion of high-risk and elderly people in the Moderna trial suggested the vaccine would protect those most vulnerable to the disease, while the reported side effects were “what we would expect with a vaccine that is working and inducing a good immune response”.

“Moderna have also announced that the vaccine can be kept in a conventional freezer at -20C for up to 6 months, and that once thawed the vaccine can be kept for up to 30 days at standard refrigerator temperatures of 2 to 8C. This makes the vaccine much easier to deliver,” he said.

“This announcement adds to the general feeling of optimism about vaccines for Covid-19. What we still don’t know is how long any protective immunity may last. For that, we will need to wait,” he added. . . .

I am feeling pretty sanguine about a next holiday season (2021) that might be relatively normal -- at least mostly like "the before times". Smile. . . still a lot of travel, between and through the dark, tangled woods, to be sure -- but. . . better.

[Trivial footnotes department: BTW, Moderna was picked by Martin Shkreli, as one of his top shorts, in mid-2019. And that too is grin-worthy -- as I repeatedly called it a great long term holding, over the prior three years.]


Of Over Eight Years, On Barsoom: About Five Of It Marched On, In Utter Silence -- Yet So Much Is/Was Gained... Curiosity Posts A Selfie, While Drilling.

It was August 18, 2012, that Curiosity first pinged back to Earth with a color image, of its surroundings.

Much the same happened here, on other fronts -- while over these eight long years, much of the work has been completed in. . . silence, alone -- in the deep dark distance of space and time.

Even so, as R.A. Delmonico reminds us -- though discovery is often solitary work, it need not be lonely -- it is all ultimately a matter of. . . "rearranging possibilities," afterall. Smile. In any event, here is the latest, from NASA's JPL -- of selfies, and the slow work of drilling of a rock, on Barsoom, called Mary Anning. We will keep a weather eye on our southern skies:

. . .Made up of 59 pictures stitched together by imaging specialists, the selfie (at right) was taken on Oct. 25, 2020 – the 2,922nd Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's mission.

Scientists on the Curiosity team thought it fitting to name the sampling site after Anning because of the area's potential to reveal details about the ancient environment. Curiosity used the rock drill on the end of its robotic arm to take samples from three drill holes called "Mary Anning," "Mary Anning 3," and "Groken," this last one named after cliffs in Scotland's Shetland Islands. The robotic scientist has conducted a set of advanced experiments with those samples to extend the search for organic (or carbon-based) molecules in the ancient rocks.

Since touching down in Gale Crater in August 2012, Curiosity has been ascending Mount Sharp to search for conditions that might once have supported life. This past year, the rover has explored a region of Mount Sharp called Glen Torridon, which likely held lakes and streams billions of years ago. Scientists suspect this is why a high concentration of clay minerals and organic molecules was discovered there. . . .

It will take months for the team to interpret the chemistry and minerals in the samples from the Mary Anning site. In the meantime, the scientists and engineers who have been commanding the rover from their homes as a safety precaution during the coronavirus pandemic have directed Curiosity to continue its climb of Mount Sharp. . . .

Onward, and though it works in silence, there alone -- soon (around Valentines, 2021) it will share the red planet with another, called Perserverance. . . . and that makes it not so lonely, afterall. Grin.

Indeed, we shall keep a close watch on this particular horizon -- as the light winds of Barsoom stir us, viscerally.

. . .Mars, a coal of fire is rising,

Rising slowly in the summer twilight sky
Fierce it glows beyond the pine trees,
With a redness all its own,
Rising lonely, while the night breeze
Stirs the branches, with a moan. . . .

-- Catherine Cate Coblentz,
Mars Hill, Lowell Observatory
Flagstaff, Arizona 1924

Indeed. She climbs into the colder winter night's skies. . . with a moan. Smile.


Sunday, November 15, 2020

[U: MI Lock-Down, Part II] Tomorrow At 9:30 AM Eastern, The Supremes Release Orders... The End Of PA GOP Election Challenges, Among Them?

UPDATED -- And here at 7 PM EST, on Sunday, it seems the spike has driven the able Michigan governor to lock down her state, to the same levels last seen in early April 2020. These are sadly, not unrelated matters, as she was threatened with a kidnapping plot by deranged hard right white separatists / lunatics / domestic terrorists, all who have indicated they were inspired by the occupant of 1600 Penn. BTW, Mr. Biden won by a 14 times greater number of votes in Michigan, than HRC lost by, in that state in 2016. End update. And on Pennsylvania, we shall see.

But it would not be at all surprising for the court, despite Alito's earlier largely grandstanding order -- putting in a purported pause -- where one already plainly existed at the state court level. . . to find five Justices had voted to simply dismiss the whole mess (as series of them) as being. . . not (yet) ripe, for Supreme review.

Given that none of the relief requested could ever move Pennsylvania vote totals enough to shift it into the GOP's column. . . this matter is likely to die shortly one way or the other.

Now you know -- smiling, and feeling fairly sanguine. Sanguine, if sad, about having been at least third if not fourth fiddle (if thought of at all), for over two and a half years (never knowing any of that) -- only to be re-met, when all three other options were DOA. So it goes -- but that alone makes the idea it was to begin "atoning" -- seem more a ruse, than anything else. Puzzling, indeed. Onward.


Elon Musk Has "Moderate" COVID-19; Erykah Badu Was Positive In One Nostril, But Not The Other...

For his part, Mr. Musk also first received conflicting results (and made some rather inane, and immature comments about it all). Here is the story on Ms. Badu. It points up the need for a gold-standard so-called polymerase chain reaction test being conducted, if the symptoms are mild / non-existent, before taking the more drastic, and side-effect laden, therapies. So we mention these two cases -- as object lessons.

I will also note that the occupant of 1600 Penn has tweeted that Mr. Biden won the election. Progress of a sort, but the tweet goes on to rant about a "rigged" election process.

Whatever, moron. Here's the headline story, from the Beeb:

. . .Mr. Musk, who has 40 million followers on Twitter, said about his symptoms that he was "a little up & down. Feels just like a regular cold, but more body achy & cloudy head than coughing/sneezing".

On Friday, he had questioned the veracity of rapid antigen testing, tweeting: "Something extremely bogus is going on. Was tested for covid four times today. Two tests came back negative, two came back positive. Same machine, same test, same nurse."

He said he was awaiting the results of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, which are regarded as the gold standard by epidemiologists and the one used most around the world. . . .

It is time to smile more. . . and fret. . . less (ref. Hamilton), methinks. Onward, grinning. . . .