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Member Since 03 February 2012 - 03:42 PM
Offline Last Active Jul 08 2020 06:01 PM

Topics I've Started

Right-Wing Media Fell for Completely Fake Middle East "Expert"

07 July 2020 - 04:23 PM

This so-called expert was completely fabricated. What I want to know is how many of them were actual chumps, how many just wanted to grab anything that told them what they wanted to hear, and how many knew what they were putting out was pure propaganda.


If you want a hot take about the Middle East, Raphael Badani is your man.

As a Newsmax “Insider” columnist, he has thoughts about how Iraq needs to rid itself of Iranian influence to attract investment and why Dubai is an oasis of stability in a turbulent region. His career as a “geopolitical risk consultant and interactive simulation designer” and an “international relations senior analyst” for the Department of Labor have given him plenty of insights about the Middle East. He’s printed those insights at a range of conservative outlets like the Washington Examiner, RealClear Markets, American Thinker, and The National Interest.

Unfortunately for the outlets who published his articles and the readers who believed them, Raphael Badani does not exist.

His profile photos are stolen from the blog of an unwitting San Diego startup founder. His LinkedIn profile, which described him as a graduate of George Washington and Georgetown, is equally fictitious.

Badani is part of a network of at least 19 fake personas that has spent the past year placing more than 90 opinion pieces in 46 different publications. The articles heaped praise on the United Arab Emirates and advocated for a tougher approach to Qatar, Turkey, Iran and its proxy groups in Iraq and Lebanon.

Following this article’s publication, the Washington Examiner removed its article written by “Badani,” leaving only an editor’s note: “This op-ed has been removed after an investigation into its provenance and authorship.” Spiked, a British libertarian site, added a note atop both its articles by a fake persona, saying the outlet “takes seriously any claim of questionable authorship.”

The National Interest, The Post Millennial, and The Jerusalem Post, meanwhile, all deleted their articles without any statement. Newsmax deleted all articles by “Badani” and scrubbed his profile page listing him as an “insider”—all without any editor’s notes.

On Monday, Twitter suspended Badani’s account along with 15 others after The Daily Beast shared the results of its investigation into the network for violating the company’s “policies on platform manipulation and spam.”

Woodward Talked Out of exposing Kavanaugh as Anonymous Source

30 June 2020 - 04:29 PM

Oh, Bob. What did you do? If Kavanaugh leaked grand jury information it means he was a criminal motivated by political purposes. (OK, we already knew that but it confirms it.)


Bob Woodward was prepared to unmask Brett Kavanaugh during his contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings as an anonymous source for a book the Watergate icon wrote more than 20 years ago but was talked out of it by the Washington Post's top editor, The New York Times reported on Monday.

Woodward was reportedly set to expose Kavanaugh as an anonymous source for his 1999 book "Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate." At the time the book was being written, Kavanaugh served as a lawyer on independent counsel Ken Starr's team in its investigation of President Clinton.

The revelation would have publicly contradicted what Kavanaugh said in a letter to the Post in 1999, the Times noted.

Woodward's unmasking of Kavanaugh was set to be published in October 2018, according to the Times, which added that Post executive editor Martin Baron urged Woodward to not burn his source because it would be "bad for Bob" and the newspaper itself if Kavanaugh were exposed.

Woodward's story never ran as a result.

Statehood for Washington, D.C.

23 June 2020 - 03:25 PM

Color me skeptical but if 2020 is a blue landslide could this actually happen?


If the House of Representatives passes a bill granting statehood to the District of Columbia on June 26, as is expected, it will be the first time in the nation’s history that either house of Congress approved legislation granting full statehood and congressional representation to DC’s more than 700,000 residents.

For at least the next several months, the bill is highly unlikely to travel far beyond the House. There’s little chance that the Republican-controlled Senate will agree to give two senators to an overwhelmingly Democratic city. And even if the bill somehow managed to pass the Senate, President Donald Trump has said that Republicans would be “very, very stupid” to allow DC statehood. He’s all but certain to veto the bill.

But statehood for the District of Columbia, whose residents pay federal taxes but have no vote in Congress, is arguably closer than it’s ever been. Trump trails Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who endorsed DC statehood in 2015, by more than 8 points, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. Polls now indicate that Democrats have a good chance to regain the Senate as well, despite malapportionment that gives Republicans an unfair advantage in the fight for control of Congress’ upper house.

Not that long ago, DC statehood found little support within the halls of Congress. The last time the House voted on statehood, in 1993, the bill failed 153-277. Democrats, in what now looks like an extraordinary act of political malpractice, did not push statehood when they last controlled both houses of Congress and the White House in 2009-2010. President Barack Obama did not endorse DC statehood until 2014.

But Democratic support for statehood swelled as the party was forced to confront the impact of a malapportioned Senate that overrepresents white and rural states, effectively giving extra seats to Republicans. Among other things, that malapportionment cost Democrats control of the Supreme Court. If the Senate were fairly apportioned, Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland would be a justice right now.

If DC becomes a state will red states start trying to divide up simply to maintain control of the Senate? Sure DC has a much greater intellectual case since they pay the same taxes but receive no representation (Hmmmm. What's that phrase about people having no representation but they are subject to taxation?) but then again when was the last time an intellectual / reality based argument meant a thing to the Republican Party?

The Evolution of Electric Vehicles

19 June 2020 - 10:18 AM

While Tesla has without a doubt pushed further and faster than anybody else I think we can expect the competition to be heating up fast. Here are two entries into the electric pickup truck market that have announced they will be delivering in the next year or two.

The first is a startup called Rivian. They have an interesting approach that shows they aren't just going after market share with completed vehicles. They are creating a "skateboard" chassis that contains the battery, motors, suspension, and control system. On top of that they or anybody they sold it to could build whatever body they wished. Here's their new R1T pickup truck. If reasonably successful I could see them getting sucked up by one of the bigger automakers very easily.

The second is a company called Nikola Motor Company that currently manufactures electric semi trucks. They are also working on a hydrogen fuel cell electric. Their pickup is called the Badger and will be available as either all electric or with a fuel cell. One of the things they touted was that their truck is designed to go after the wildly popular Ford F-150 and not the Tesla. They said this made to be a work truck so its sized and outfitted as one.

Don't Invest If You Don't Know What You're Doing

18 June 2020 - 01:27 PM

This is actually quite sad. The kid was only 20 and jumped in way over his head or even basic understanding. He may have had little real indebtedness but didn't understand the numbers on his screen.


The note found on his computer by his parents on June 12, 2020, asked a simple question. “How was a 20 year old with no income able to get assigned almost a million dollars worth of leverage?” The tragic message was written by Alexander E. Kearns, a 20-year-old student at the University of Nebraska, home from college and living with his parents in Naperville, Illinois. Earlier that day, Kearns took his own life.

Like so many others, Kearns took up stock investing during the pandemic, signing up with Millennial-focused brokerage firm Robinhood, which offers commission-free trading, a fun and easy-to-use mobile app and even awards new customers free shares of stock. During the first quarter of 2020, Robinhood added a record 3 million new accounts to its platform. As the Covid-19 stock market swung wildly, Kearns had begun experimenting, trading options. His final note, filled with anger toward Robinhood, says that he had “no clue” what he was doing.

In fact, a screenshot from Kearns’ mobile phone reveals that while his account had a negative $730,165 cash balance displayed in red, it may not have represented uncollateralized indebtedness at all, but rather his temporary balance until the stocks underlying his assigned options actually settled into his account.


“I thought everything was going fine,” says Bill Brewster, Kearns’ cousin-in-law and a research analyst at Chicago-based Sullimar Capital Group. His father said he was loving the markets and really enjoying investing, Brewster told Forbes, “and then on Friday night, we got this call from his mom, and he had died.”

Kearns apparently fell into despair late Thursday night after looking at his Robinhood account, which appeared to have $16,000 in it but also showed a cash balance of negative $730,165. In his final note, seen by Forbes, Kearns insisted that he never authorized margin trading and was shocked to find his small account could rack up such an apparent loss.

“When he saw that $730,000 number as a negative, he thought that he had blown up his entire future,” says Brewster. “I mean this is a kid that when he was younger was so conscious about savings.”

Never authorized margin trading? I smell an investigation and possibly a HUGE lawsuit.