[Plura-list] No health care for part-time TSA screeners, Akil Augustine on Radicalized, Wendell Potter rebuts Joe Biden, best Covid-19 explainer

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Thu Mar 12 11:43:44 EDT 2020

Today's links

* TSA boss doubles down on taking away health care from part-time
screeners: They're touching your junk with diseased hands.

* Akil Augustine on Radicalized: My book's Canada Reads champion lays
out the case for Radicalized.

* A former top Cigna exec rebuts Joe Biden's healthcare FUD: Wendell
Potter is the prodigal corporate villain.

* Ars Technica's Covid-19 explainer is the best resource on the
pandemic: Beth Mole has outdone herself.

* Boeing is even worse at financial engineering than they are at
aircraft engineering: The $43B they incinerated through stock buybacks
would sure come in handy about now.

* Senate Republicans kill emergency sick leave during pandemic: Sick
leave is cheaper than pandemics, but pandemics generate cost-plus
contracts for the donor class.

* The EU's new Right to Repair rules finally come for electronics:
Snoods cocked at Apple and other US Big Tech monopolists.

* How to run a virtual classroom: Masterclass from the 14-year-old
Stanford Online High School.

* This day in history: 2010, 2015, 2019

* Colophon: Recent publications, current writing projects, upcoming
appearances, current reading


🎲 TSA boss doubles down on taking away health care from part-time screeners

TSA agents handles the personal belongings and touch the bodies of
millions of fliers. Part time agents don't get health-insurance. If they
think they might have Covid-19, they might not be able to afford to seek


TSA chief David Pekoske told Congress that the Trump administration's
decision to take away health-care from part time TSA employees was a
good one: "I have no intention of restoring health care coverage for
part-time workers. I think that was a good decision."

About 100 TSA agents have been sent home after it was believed they came
into contact with Covid-19. The TSA will not try to track down
passengers who also might have come into contact with sick people.


🎲 Akil Augustine on Radicalized

My book Radicalized is a finalist for the Canada Reads national book
prize. Each of the five finalists is defended by a Canadian celeb: my
champion is the amazing and articulate Akil Augustine.

Akil just appeared on the @CBC's Canada Reads podcast to give us a
preview of his defense, which he will field during several nights of
nationally televised debates next week.


He did an OUTSTANDING job! Here's the MP3:



🎲 A former top Cigna exec rebuts Joe Biden's healthcare FUD

In a recent and important essay, Maria Farrell wrote about the
road-to-Damascus conversions that ex-techies are having in which they
recant the damaging product design work they did and begin to campaign
against their former employers.


Farrell noted that these techies had missed an important step in their
transformation from venal attention mercenaries to noble attention
freedom-fighters: they had yet to hit bottom, to truly repent their
earlier sins.

They skipped like stones over the waters of privilege, and never sank,
unlike so many of their victims.

Contrast those journeys with that of Wendell Potter, the former Cigna
exec turned whistleblower, who has devoted decades of his life to
revealing dirty tricks and lies. Potter campaigns tirelessly – and
shrewdly – for Medicare for All, and is always at pains to point out
that the anti-M4A talking points his adversaries parrots were all
developed by him, when he was on the wrong side of history.

Take this thread, rebutting Joe Biden's FUD about M4A, delivered in the
midst of a pandemic that has been worsened by the 77 million un- and
underinsured people who can't get care or screening and
disproportionately work in food-service and cleaning.


As Potter points out, Biden's assertion that M4A costs $35T is just a
lie. Once you factor in the savings of not paying for private
healthcare, M4A SAVES at least $450B/year.


Biden's plan to cap premiums on a public option at 8.5% of your income
is more than double what M4A would cost you. The corporate plans Biden
lionizes shackle good workers to bad employers, and put millions at risk
of having their care arbitrarily withdrawn or limited. And, of course,
private care doesn't cover much. Surprise bills, deductibles, co-pays,
out-of-pockets… Our plan – a blue-chip employer's top-of-the-line Cigna
plan – costs us $24K/year.

We're rationing our family's health care because in addition to the
$20K/year we're paying out of pocket, Cigna refused to cover a pain
procedure that my doc – the most-cited pain doc working in California,
who runs a major university pain clinic – says I would benefit from.
That procedure might let me get a good night's sleep for the first time
in 15 years and allow me to live a more normal, pain-free life. But
because Cigna won't cover it, it would cost $55K, which we do not have.
So I'm foregoing it.


🎲 Ars Technica's Covid-19 explainer is the best resource on the pandemic

I've been reading Beth Mole's outstanding science journalism for many
years and I've always admired it, but even by the high standards of a
Beth Mole explainer, this soup-to-nuts Covid-19 explainer is just
spectacularly good work.


Mole's calm and comprehensive coverage relies on the most reliable
sources and turns the results of our best evidence-based studies into a
coherent narrative, from the disease's origins to its spread to its
symptoms to its resolution.

Just this symptom-by-symptom breakdown was enormously informative and
filled in a huge gap that I had previously mentally signposted as

According to data from nearly 56,000 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19
patients in China, the rundown of common symptoms went as follows:

* 88 percent had a fever

* 68 percent had a dry cough

* 38 percent had fatigue

* 33 percent coughed up phlegm

* 19 percent had shortness of breath

* 15 percent had joint or muscle pain

* 14 percent had a sore throat

* 14 percent headache

* 11 percent had chills

* 5 percent had nausea or vomiting

* 5 percent had nasal congestion

* 4 percent had diarrhea

* Less than one percent coughed up blood or blood-stained mucus

* Less than one percent had watery eyes

The sections on transmission, self-protection, and care during a social
distancing lockdown or quarantine are likewise levelheaded, clear and

This is a tab you should just keep open in your browser, IOW. Mole's
updating frequently, too.


🎲 Boeing is even worse at financial engineering than they are at
aircraft engineering

Boeing is experiencing a potentially terminal slump. Between losses due
to its 737 Max scandal (a self-inflicted injury), and the dropoff in
travel during the pandemic, it has had to draw down its entire line of
credit and institute a hiring freeze.


Obviously, Boeing can't be blamed for the pandemic.

But you know what is *absolutely* the company's fault? Its financial

Since 2013, Boeing squandered $43 *billion* on stock buybacks, whose
sole purpose was to goose its share-price.

As Wolf Richter writes, Boeing, this "master of financial engineering –
instead of aircraft engineering – blew, wasted, and incinerated $43.4
billion on buying back its own shares."

The company just had to borrow $13.825B. Its shares are down 46% since
March 2019.

The entire company – a jewel of American industry – might not survive,
because it focused on short-term enrichment of shareholders, rather than
safe aircraft or financial prudence.

Reality has a well-known anti-capitalist bias, part MMMLVII.


🎲 Senate Republicans kill emergency sick leave during pandemic

Senate Republicans have killed emergency sick leave legislation, a move
that will force millions of low-waged cleaning and food-service workers
to choose between homelessness and potentially spreading Covid-19.


The GOP says that paid sick leave will endanger the fragile bottom lines
of employers and also that the feds have no money to pay for such a
thing – despite finding it easy to blow $2.3 *trillion* on tax-cuts for
the super-rich.


They also found $20 BILLION in the senate's sofa cushions to give to the
Pentagon, an agency whose auditor found more than a trillion dollars in
off-the-books transactions in its financial records.


Refusing to help poor Americans stay fed and sheltered isn't just cruel,
it's lethally reckless, and it demonstrates the moral hazard of
oligarchic capitalism. Subsidizing sick-leave would merely afford
survival to millions of Americans, after all.

Whereas the crisis that this will produce – a pandemic that is made
worse and longer – will cost billions more, but that money will go to
the donor-class, the Beltway Bandits whose cost-plus, no-bid contracts
will transfer even more money from the poor to the wealthy.

It's disaster capitalism at its worst. The Senate GOP is dooming you and
everyone you love to the risk of disease and death because preventing
that risk would help millions of poor people, whereas creating the risk
helps a handful of ultrarich people.


🎲 The EU's new Right to Repair rules finally come for electronics

The EU Commission's latest "Circular Economy Action Plan" has enormous
significance for Right to Repair and electronics.


In addition to a host of eminently sensible, long overdue measures (bans
on single use items and the destruction of unsold goods), there's a
renewed emphasis on electronics, through the "Circular Electronics


The initiative mandates that components be reusable, repairable, and
upgradable, and requires long-term software support to keep IoT devices
useful for longer. These mandates – also long overdue – show that the EU
is finally willing to ignore the priorities of Apple and other US Big
Tech companies in favour of Europeans' rights to the long-term enjoyment
of their property and the right not to drown in e-waste).



🎲 How to run a virtual classroom

For 14 years, Stanford Online High School has been running fully virtual
classrooms, with continuous, ongoing improvements in their tech and
methods. They've just published a new guide to "the essential steps for
preparing to teach online in a short period of time." They're also
conducting a series of webinars on the subject.


(I just realized that I've got a decade-old mail rule that autodeletes
anything containing the word "webinar" that I probably need to turn off
now that the term is being used by people other than hustling spammy


🎲 This day in history

#10yrsago Leaked UK record industry memo sets out plans for breaking
copyright https://craphound.com/BPDigitalEconomyBillweeklyminutes.pdf

#5yrsago Portland cops charge homeless woman with theft for charging her

#5yrsago How Harper's "anti-terror" bill ends privacy in Canada

#5yrsago RIP, Terry Pratchett

#1yrago Security researcher reveals grotesque vulnerabilities in
"Yelp-for-MAGA" app and its snowflake owner calls in the FBI


🎲 Colophon

Today's top sources: Slashdot (https://slashdot.org), Naked Capitalism

Hugo nominators! My story "Unauthorized Bread" is eligible in the
Novella category and you can read it free on Ars Technica:

Upcoming appearances:

* Museums and the Web: March 31-April 4 2020, Los Angeles.

Currently writing: I'm rewriting a short story, "The Canadian Miracle,"
for MIT Tech Review. It's a story set in the world of my next novel,
"The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation. I'm
also working on "Baby Twitter," a piece of design fiction also set in
The Lost Cause's prehistory, for a British think-tank. I'm getting
geared up to start work on the novel afterwards.

Currently reading: Just started Lauren Beukes's forthcoming Afterland:
it's Y the Last Man plus plus, and two chapters in, it's amazeballs.
Last month, I finished Andrea Bernstein's "American Oligarchs"; it's a
magnificent history of the Kushner and Trump families, showing how they
cheated, stole and lied their way into power. I'm getting really into
Anna Weiner's memoir about tech, "Uncanny Valley." I just loaded Matt
Stoller's "Goliath" onto my underwater MP3 player and I'm listening to
it as I swim laps.

Latest podcast: A Lever Without a Fulcrum Is Just a Stick

Upcoming books: "Poesy the Monster Slayer" (Jul 2020), a picture book
about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Pre-order here:

(we're having a launch for it in Burbank on July 11 at Dark Delicacies
and you can get me AND Poesy to sign it and Dark Del will ship it to the
monster kids in your life in time for the release date).

"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a very
special, s00per s33kr1t intro.

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