Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Of Technocrats And Tyrants: Back Off!

Technocrats and tyrants typically go hand in hand and tend to surface at the same time during chaotic periods like the COVID-19 pandemic. Tyrants are being identified in droves across America amongst civic leaders such as mayors, police, health officials, governors, etc. ⁃ TN Editor

The whole country is on an anxious edge. We’re dealing with a deadly virus, one we have no history with and no immunity from yet. There’s no vaccine. Tests are still spotty. It has killed more than 22,000 Americans to date and infected hundreds of thousands more. And it came from a hostile China that lied, directly resulting in all the chaos we’re dealing with. And our elites have shipped untold numbers of jobs to China over the past few decades, leaving us more vulnerable to them than we should be.

The viral chaos has also killed millions of jobs and plunged everything from our retirement savings to our toiletry needs into serious doubt. When you find toilet paper at the grocery store now you feel like you’re Indiana Jones discovering the lost ark. There are possible meat and other food shortages on the horizon. And there’s no end in sight yet. Some officials are talking about opening things up, but that’s all they’re doing so far. Talking. Meanwhile we’re still locked up in our homes, and millions worry if they’ll even be able to keep their homes and looking ahead, how we’ll feed our families. The sheer scale of the problems we face was unthinkable a few weeks ago and seemingly inescapable now.

Into this crisis has stepped not a generation of serious and sober leaders rising to the moment, but a whole bunch of opportunists who are happily flying their tinpot tyrant flag. And it needs to stop, right now. It’s making a really bad, no good and quite terrible situation even worse. Too many of our elected and unelected officials are acting like toddlers testing their boundaries.

There are the police officers who thought it was a good idea to pester a little girl shooting baskets alone in a park. She was socially distanced. She was fine. If a game of street 3-on-3 suddenly broke out, well, that’s a different story. But she was alone. So leave her alone. The police later apologized, but they should have just used some common sense and avoided the whole situation. And there are the police officers in Colorado who arrested a dad playing ball with his daughter in a park. Leave people alone or this could start getting ugly. Most Americans support the police, but we don’t support a police state.

There are the officials who decided Easter weekend was a good opportunity to start messing with churches struggling like everyone else to deal with the new reality. California’s Mendocino County is banning church singing on a livestream. How does this help stop the spread of coronavirus? Kentucky’s Democrat governor took to taking down Christians’ license plates for going to church in their cars. How does this help halt the virus from spreading? It doesn’t. It just makes people who are already on edge that much edgier. Elections matter. Remember this in a few years and do better.

Michigan should also do better. It elected the cluelessly tyrannical Gretchen Whitmer as its governor. A few weeks ago Whitmer was a rising Democrat star. Now, she’s a petty thug who’s in over her head (which doesn’t rule her out of still being a rising Democrat star). She’s awful. She has gone on a power trip worthy of Blofeld, the nutty Bond villain who built a fortress in a volcano and fed his underlings to piranhas. Whitmer is telling people who own more than one home that they cannot drive between those homes. How does this stop the spread of the virus? She’s telling people they can’t buy carpet and paint because they’re not “essential.” Tell that to anyone who suddenly has to repair something in the home they’re suddenly hanging onto because they suddenly lost their job because Whitmer arbitrarily closed their business. Tell that to the guy whose whole job is home repair and remodeling. Who is she or any of these so-called leaders to say what is and isn’t “essential”? Broadly speaking, a legal job that enables someone to feed their family is essential to that family. Tell them they’re not essential and they’ll tell you exactly what they think of you. There will be choice words and gestures.

USA Today asks if Whitmer went too far with her dictatorial orders. The answer is yes, Gov. Whitmer went too far — way too far. And she’s far from alone.

Elected officials don’t take the Hippocratic Oath when they’re sworn into office, but maybe they should. It’s an oath some doctors take that says they should first, do no harm. Be humble, have the mind of a servant and don’t make a bad situation worse. Many officials already have too much power, and in times of emergency they take on vastly more power. This is legal to a point. That’s what the emergency declarations are for. They formalize temporary legal and financial arrangements in times of crisis, emphasis on “temporary.”

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Jenna Ellis

Why It’s Unconstitutional To Keep Grocery Stores Open While Closing Churches

This is a must-read article by constitutional attorney Jenna Ellis on the slippery slope of Constitutional degradation when government authorities pick winners and losers in private society. ⁃ TN Editor

It’s a dangerous precedent that government could consider itself the arbiter of private essential services.

In response to the Wuhan coronavirus, state governors and local leaders have issued wide-ranging executive orders requiring closure of “non-essential” businesses. This affects churches, including imposing criminal penalties for noncompliance in some instances. Some churches have pushed back by simply holding mass services anyway, and several pastors — most prominently in Florida and Louisiana — have been criminally charged.

Many people are wondering, how is this America? Is this constitutionally sound when we have First Amendment protection?

Where We Came From

Our Founding Fathers recognized the inherent tension between protecting fundamental individual rights (such as religious liberty and freedom of assembly) that are God-given and pre-political but not absolute, and the necessary regulatory and enforcement power of government that is specific and limited. Necessary power is proper, because how could a government protect individual rights and overall health, safety, and welfare without the power to do so? But give a government too much power, and it will trample individual rights and liberty.

James Madison contemplated this paradox in Federalist 51: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. … In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

This paradox to balance government power and individual rights has been litigated throughout American jurisprudential history and always goes back to the U.S. Constitution. Our supreme law was shaped upon our founding premise: American individuals retain all our rights; government has limited powers through our consent.

So while this COVID-19 pandemic presents new facts and circumstances, the underlying principles are the same ones attorneys have analyzed since the founders argued about what specific powers to grant the government at the 1787 Constitutional Convention.

American jurisprudence has in general kept a good balance between protecting individual rights and preserving necessary powers for government. Our balance of powers has also recognized within our federalist system that state governments are closer to the people. Because of that, the federal government has fewer and very specific, limited powers.

The 10th Amendment provides the basis for the state government’s inherent police powers, which have been acknowledged by the judiciary to establish and enforce laws to protect the health, safety, and welfare of all people within the state’s jurisdiction. We’re familiar with examples of this authority in fire codes, food safety regulations, and the state criminal code.

Where We Are Now

Most states appear to be implementing stay-at-home orders through legislatively determined emergency powers granted to the governor. However, some states are attempting to impose orders beyond state constitutional authority.

In South Carolina, for instance, the executive must get consent from the state’s General Assembly to continue a state of emergency beyond 15 days. Virginia’s governor imposed a stay-at-home order until June 10, well beyond a reasonable definition of “emergency,” as even the federal government has provided guidance and recommendations for only 30 days beginning March 31. In Texas, litigation has already reached the 5th Circuit over what type of business is considered “essential,” and many people are concerned elective procedures such as abortion are considered “essential” in some states while church services are not.

This notion of deeming private business “essential” or not is probably the biggest challenge and constitutionally problematic issue in state and local orders. This is arbitrary, and it’s highly doubtful this action would pass constitutional muster. While government has inherent police power via the 10th Amendment, private actors have the right to equal protection via the 14th Amendment.

Government can determine essential versus non-essential workers within its own employees in the context of a shutdown, which we saw as recently as last year. But there is no constitutional authority on the federal or state level that allows government to subjectively determine who and what is essential for private workers, including during a national health emergency. States are issuing orders without providing complete criteria for how they are making these determinations. There is arguably no metric that could possibly satisfy constitutional scrutiny.

It’s alarming that some ongoing litigation concedes the threshold question of a government’s ability to determine essential private services, and instead only argues for a particular service to be included in the “essential” list. That threshold question should be challenged.

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Bernie Sanders rally in Portland

Global Dissatisfaction With Democracy Prepares The Way For Technocracy

Pollsters discover that 57.5% of people everywhere are discontent with democracy. The winds of social change closely follow the anti-capitalist promoted by the UN.

Historically, Socialism and Communism have only succeeded in raising human suffering, misery and poverty on planet Earth. However, these wrecking balls are very proficient at tearing down the societal structures, which is necessary to pave the way for Technocracy to sweep in.  ⁃ TN Editor

The world is unhappier with democracy than ever, new research has claimed.

In a report published Wednesday, researchers from Cambridge University analyzed the political sentiment of more than 4 million people, using data from survey projects that covered 154 countries between 1995 and 2020.

The proportion of people who said they were dissatisfied with democracy over the last year hit 57.5%, according to the report, with researchers saying 2019 marked “the highest level of democratic discontent” on record.

Authors noted that over the last 25 years, the number of individuals dissatisfied with democratic politics around the world rose from a third to more than half.

Shifts in satisfaction levels were often a response to “objective circumstances and events” such as economic shocks and corruption scandals, the report said.

Following the financial crisis in 2008, for example, global dissatisfaction with the functioning of democracy jumped by around 6.5%.

Many large democracies, including the U.S., Australia, U.K. and Brazil, were now at their highest-ever level of dissatisfaction with democracy.

According to the report, the U.S. in particular had seen a “dramatic and unexpected” decline in satisfaction with democracy.

When the surveys began in 1995, more than 75% of U.S. citizens were satisfied with American democracy. The first big knock came with the financial crisis, the report showed, and satisfaction has continued to deteriorate year-on-year ever since.

Fewer than 50% of Americans are now content with democracy in their country, marking the first time on record that a majority of U.S. citizens were dissatisfied with their system of government.

“Such levels of democratic dissatisfaction would not be unusual elsewhere,” the report said. “But for the United States, it marks an ‘end of exceptionalism’ — a profound shift in America’s view of itself, and therefore, of its place in the world.”

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Google

Google: A New Breed Of Dictator Never Before Seen In History

Google is an existential Technocrat threat to all other forms of government and governance. Run by unelected and unaccountable Technocrats, Google pushes toward Technocracy, or Scientific Dictatorship. Ironically, people have voluntarily signed up for it. ⁃ TN Editor

Robert Epstein, who received his Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard in 1981 and served as the former editor in chief at Psychology Today, is now a senior research psychologist for the American Institute of Behavioral Research and Technology, where for the last decade he has helped expose Google’s manipulative and deceptive practices. He explains what got him interested in investigating the internet search monopoly in the first place:

“In 2012, January 1st, I received some emails from Google saying my website contained malware and that they were somehow blocking access. This means I had gotten onto one of Google’s blacklists.

“My website did contain some malware. It was pretty easy to get rid of, but it turns out it’s hard to get off of a Google blacklist. That’s a big problem. I started looking at Google just a little bit differently.

“I wondered, first of all, why they were notifying me about this rather than some government agency or some nonprofit organization? Why was a private company notifying me?

“In other words, who made Google sheriff of the internet? Second, I learned they had no customer service department, which seemed very strange, so if you have a problem with Google, then you have a problem because they don’t help you solve the problem.

“I learned also that although you can get onto a blacklist in a split second, it can take weeks to get off a blacklist. There have been businesses that have gotten onto their blacklists and have gone out of business while they’re trying to straighten out the problem.

“The thing that really caught my eye — because I’ve been a programmer my whole life — was I couldn’t figure out how they were blocking access to my website, not just through their own products … Google.com, the search engine, or through Chrome, which is their browser, but through Safari, which is an Apple product, through Firefox, which is a browser run by Mozilla, a nonprofit organization.

“How was Google blocking access through so many different means? The point is I just started to get more curious about the company, and later in 2012, I happened to be looking at a growing literature, which was about the power of search rankings to impact sales.

“This was in the marketing field and it just was astonishing. In other words, if you could push yourself up one more notch in their search results, that could make the difference between success or failure for your company; it could mean a lot more income.

“It turns out that this initial research was saying that people really trust those higher ranked search results. I simply asked a question. I wondered whether, if people trust those higher rank search results, I could use search results to influence people’s opinions, maybe even their votes.”

What Epstein discovered through his subsequent research, which began in 2013, is that yes, biased search results can indeed be used to influence public opinion and sway undecided voters. What’s more, the strength of that influence was shocking.

He also eventually discovered how Google is able to block website access on browsers other than their own. His findings were published in 2016 in U.S. News & World Report.1

Google’s Powers Pose Serious Threats to Society

Google’s powers pose three specific threats to society:

1. They’re a surveillance agency with significant yet hidden surveillance powers. As noted by Epstein:

“The search engine … Google Wallet, Google Docs, Google Drive, YouTube, these are surveillance platforms. In other words, from their perspective, the value these tools have is they give them more information about you. Surveillance is what they do.”

2. They’re a censoring agency with the ability to restrict or block access to websites across the internet, thus deciding what people can and cannot see. They even have the ability to block access to entire countries and the internet as a whole.

The most crushing problem with this kind of internet censorship is that you don’t know what you don’t know. If a certain type of information is removed from search, and you don’t know it should exist somewhere, you’ll never go looking for it. And, when searching for information online, how would you know that certain websites or pages have been removed from the search results in the first place? The answer is, you don’t.

For example, Google has been investing in DNA repositories for quite a long time, and are adding DNA information to our profiles. According to Epstein, Google has taken over the national DNA repository, but articles about that — which he has cited in his own writings — have all vanished.

3. They have the power to manipulate public opinion through search rankings and other means.

“To me, that’s the scariest area,” Epstein says, “because Google is shaping the opinions, thinking, beliefs, attitudes, purchases and votes of billions of people around the world without anyone knowing that they’re doing so … and perhaps even more shocking, without leaving a paper trail for authorities to trace.

They’re using new techniques of manipulation that have never existed before in human history and they are for the most part, subliminal … but they don’t produce tiny shifts.

They produce enormous shifts in people’s thinking, very rapidly. Some of the techniques I’ve discovered are among the largest behavioral effects ever discovered in the behavioral sciences.”

While surveillance is Google’s primary business, their revenue — which exceeds $130 billion a year — comes almost exclusively from advertising. All that personal information you’ve provided them through their various products is sold to advertisers looking for a specific target audience.

A Dictator Unlike Anything the World Has Ever Known

Another, and even more frightening possibility, is that Google could allow its biased algorithm to favor one candidate over another without caring about which candidate is being favored.

“That’s the scariest possibility,” Epstein says, “because now you’ve got an algorithm, a computer program, which is an idiot … deciding who rules us. It’s crazy.”

While this sounds like it should be illegal, it’s not, because there are no laws or regulations that restrict or dictate how Google must rank its search results. Courts have actually concluded that Google is simply exercising its right to free speech, even if that means destroying the businesses they demote in their search listings or black listings.

The only way to protect ourselves from this kind of hidden influence is by setting up monitoring programs such as Epstein’s all over the world. “As a species, it’s the only way we can protect ourselves from new types of online technologies that can be used to influence us,” he says. “No dictator anywhere has ever had even a tiny fraction of the power that this company has.”

Epstein is also pushing for government to make the Google search index a public commons, which would allow other companies to create competing search platforms using Google’s database. While Google’s search engine cannot be broken up, its monopoly would be thwarted by forcing it to hand over its index to other search platform developers.

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Governor Martin O'Malley

Former Governor O’Malley Preaches Virtues Of Technocrat Governance

The former Governor of Maryland and Mayor of Baltimore believes that Smart City technology is the wave of future ‘evidence-based’ governance. In short, cities should better model themselves after Silicon Valley ‘entrepreneurs’ and ‘innovators.’ ⁃ TN Editor

Western democracies have some catching up to do with consumer expectations. According to a 2015 study completed by the Pew Research Center, 65% of Americans go online to find information they need about their government — but only 11% report finding the government effective at sharing data.

If Amazon, Uber, and a host of other companies can provide better service thanks to the new technologies of the Information Age, why can’t our governments? If the GPS system in my car can navigate me to the quickest route through traffic congestion and fender benders, why can’t my government use these same technologies to better anticipate these routine accidents?

Technology isn’t the problem. The technology is proven. Nor is cost a barrier; the availability of these new technologies is widespread and relatively inexpensive. The problem is the great human variable of leadership.

Old habits die hard. And over the course of time, public administration has developed a very slow, cautious, and risk-averse approach to embracing new technologies — the tyranny of “the way we have always done it” in public service.

In Silicon Valley, people who keep trying new things — even though they sometimes fail — are called innovators and entrepreneurs. The operative myth in government, however, is that people who try new things and fail are fired or voted out of office. What many people remember most vividly about the implementation of Obamacare was not its successful passage, but in many states, its failed launch.

But a new way of leading and governing is emerging. And it is rising up from cities.

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Europe’s Big Fail: Technocrat Government Erodes Democracy

Several European nations have adopted Technocrat-run governance and none have met expectations. However, when the economy again turns south, there will be populist demand for even more Technocrats. ⁃ TN Editor

The EU’s economy has essentially been flat over the past year. The slump in manufacturing is deepening. Companies are cutting work hours and issuing profit warnings. The dominant mood in the European and international markets today is anxiety. Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, announced on 14 August that its GDP had contracted by 0.1% in the second quarter of 2019 compared with the previous three months.

This has left many analysts to conclude that Europe is heading for an outright recession.

Whenever there is an economic or political crisis on the horizon, there is one particular pattern…societies often look for a technocratic government to solve their problems. This happened in several European countries in the wake of the 2008 recession and the Eurozone crisis. Caretaker technocrat-led administrations have been historically popular in crisis-prone democracies, particularly in Southern and Eastern Europe.

There are several examples of technocratic cabinets in Italy, Greece, and Bulgaria that were appointed in times of economic difficulties to avert imminent economic disasters. Technocratic cabinets are also often appointed following a major crisis caused by a political scandal or when parties fail either to establish or to keep a partisan cabinet. In Finland, for example, several technocratic cabinets followed the break‐up of a ruling coalition. Since the establishment of the Czech Republic as an independent country in 1993, three of its cabinets were technocratic.

In today’s UK, the mother of parliamentary democracy, there are calls that the post-Brexit shake-up must include apolitical experts who should sort-out the political mess that began in 2016 when Britons voted in favour of leaving the EU. And yet, more than three years on and the Parliament still finds the EU’s terms for the exit to be unacceptable. With the EU showing little willingness to renegotiate, Boris Johnson, the UK’s new prime minister, is pulling his country closer to the cliff of a “no-deal Brexit”, which the Parliament is opposing.

In today’s Europe, traditional political parties are no longer liked or trusted by voters the way they used to be. One reason is that many politicians often cannot deliver after overpromising. Coming to power, they face difficulties in solving major problems and have no political courage to outline either difficult or unpopular choices to their base. Their partisan cabinets often fail to respond to challenges or deal with the consequences.

In the current economic and political climate in Europe, one may expect calls for technocratic cabinets to raise. There will be arguments and the accelerated expectations that apolitical experts can outperform partisan cabinets. Some will even argue that technocrat-led caretaker governments are among the most advanced forms of power-sharing between elected politicians and experts in contemporary European democracies.

I have my share of a technocratic experience. As an international attorney, I left the private sector in 2015 when I was called to join the so-called technocrat-led government of post-revolutionary Ukraine to serve as the First Deputy Minister of Economy. There were several other such technocrats in the Ukrainian government. Some, like me at the time, were expats who had been granted Ukrainian citizenship. The expectation then was, just as it is with any technocratic administration, that the non-partisan experts may set and enact policies that were independent of parties, their political decisions, and elected party representatives.

Those expectations had failed.

More often than not, politicians put unelected and unempowered experts in front to face the public only to hide the politicians’ own incompetence and lack of courage to take political responsibility for not being able to deliver. In the meantime, the politicians continue pulling the strings, not allowing the experts to govern on one hand, and on the other, they let the technocrats assume the responsibility for the politicians’ failures.

From that perspective, technocratic governments erode democracy and keep bad politicians in power. Although such governments have sometimes been long-lasting, they are illegitimate and democratically dysfunctional. They are a symptom of high levels of state exploitation by irresponsible leaders and political parties. Their occurrence in Europe is part of a broader sense of malaise in Western democracy where, instead of being bailed out, politicians need to be held responsible and accountable.  Any claims for having a successful record to defend such technocratic governments and their legitimacy disregards their unfavourable legacy and political conditions to which they are contributing.

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New Lebanon PM Seeks To Install 18-Member ‘Technocrat Cabinet’

Technocrat rule is not just seen in Europe, China and India: The Islamic world is also strongly attracted to Techno-populism and Technocrat governance. In Lebanon’s case, even Hezbollah approves. ⁃ TN Editor

Informed ministerial sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday that Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab is about to form an 18-member cabinet, free of politicians, and capable to meet the demands of the popular movement.

On Friday, Diab held his second meeting this week with President Michel Aoun to discuss the form and content of his next government.

Observers consider the announcement as a “drawback” from the techno-political cabinet that Aoun and his two Shiite allies, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, were attached to form.

“The Aoun-Diab meeting was good. The two men discussed the distribution of ministerial portfolios and the names of some suggested figures to be appointed ministers,” the sources explained.

They denied reports saying that Diab plans to announce his cabinet in the next hours.

Earlier on Friday, Aoun hoped that with the new government, the situation will gradually start to improve and overcome the crisis, and Lebanon will return to its prosperity.

During a meeting with Commander of the Lebanese Army, General Joseph Aoun, accompanied by a delegation from the leadership, the President said, “Today, we live in a period of austerity at the individual level and on the level of the state and its institutions, but this is required at present to help overcome the current crisis.”

Meanwhile, Hezbollah also commented on the developments.

“Hezbollah supports a government comprised of competent specialist candidates who enjoy integrity and loyalty to the nation and whose concern is to save the country and its economy,” Hezbollah’s Mount Lebanon and North representative Sheikh Mohammed Amro said after visiting Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai to extend greetings on the holy season.

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Technocrats: To Fix Government, Speed Up Implementation Of Technology

The Technocrat’s hammer is ever-advancing technology and every perceived problem in the world is a nail. Thus, Technocrats liken themselves to the saviors of the world, if only we would let them run free to create Utopia.

This is a completely false and dangerous notion. Technology that is only understood by a small Technocrat elite quickly becomes the paradigm for command-and-control. This article answers its headline, Is Automation the Key to an Effective Government Workforce? ⁃ TN Editor

New technologies are poised to automate everything from infrastructure to traditionally human jobs, and some fear a coming robot takeover. But the real problem is it isn’t happening fast enough.

The U.S. economy is on the precipice of an unrelenting wave of automation that will eliminate a massive number of jobs and destabilize our society, according to Democratic presidential primary candidate Andrew Yang and his growing throng of supporters. Indeed, this concern is shared by many policymakers who have turned a critical eye toward Silicon Valley, asking whether technological innovation is worth the effort. This past year has seen a steady stream of policymakers publicly castigating the tech industry for not doing enough to protect privacy, respond to fake news, combat hate speech and protect children.

While some of these critiques are valid, even if overblown, in this heated environment, it is easy to lose sight of the real problem, which according to a new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation is that automation isn’t happening fast enough, and achieving faster automation is an urgent societal imperative necessary to address less-than-stellar productivity growth. Higher productivity will be necessary to make U.S. companies more competitive globally, boost reshoring of work back to the U.S., reduce government spending and raise living standards. For example, an aging population means that there will be more retirees, so unless the remaining workers become more productive, overall output will shrink — resulting in less tax revenue for government agencies even as demand for social services remains high.

The remedy to this problem is greater automation, driven by digital transformation, in both the public and private sectors. There are two steps to this process. First, organizations need to modernize their IT infrastructure. In practice, this means replacing legacy applications and expensive data centers with cloud computing solutions. While state and local governments are investing heavily in the cloud, many are putting most resources in private cloud solutions, which don’t offer the same scalability and cost benefits of the public cloud.

Second, organizations must consider how to leverage emerging data-driven technologies, like machine learning, robotic process automation and chatbots, to create strategic changes in how they produce value. For example, some cities use digital twins — virtual models of their infrastructure combined with real-time data feeds from sensors — to allow first responders to run simulations of emergency scenarios and enable city planners to predict environmental and energy changes of proposed developments.

The problem for many agencies is that even as they consider digital transformation, they don’t focus on achieving productivity gains, i.e., becoming more efficient at producing government services. Indeed, this lack of focus on productivity creates a compounding problem where government agencies are slow at adopting new technologies, and then even slower at using the new tech to become more efficient. But a look at the workforce of many government agencies shows that even as IT budgets are growing, there are few signs of disruption.

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California Sinks Into Third World Status As PG&E Cuts Power To Millions

As California’s largest utility PG&E spins out of control, citizens are regressing to violence, prompting the company to erect concrete barricades around its facilities to ‘protect its employees.’

This is the long-term result of regulatory mismanagement and corporate malfeasance. The ultra-leftist leadership in California has literally turned the Golden State into a banana republic that is a national disgrace. ⁃ TN Editor

Officials at Pacific Gas and Electric Co. on Wednesday called for the public to let employees do their jobs safely amid frustrations with a widespread California power shutdown, after authorities reported that a bullet was fired at one of the energy provider’s vehicles.

The plea came the same day that police say a threatening letter was reported at a PG&E facility, as the utility switched off electricity to hundreds of thousands of people. The planned outage – the biggest in the state’s history, announced as a measure to reduce wildfire risk – comes as PG&E faces massive liabilities for starting a blaze that killed 85 people and destroyed the town of Paradise last year.

“We realize and understand the impact and the hardship as the result of this decision that we’ve made,” Sumeet Singh, vice president of PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program, said at a news conference. But employees and contractors “have families that live in your communities, they have friends that are members of your communities,” Singh added. “So let’s just ensure their safety as well as they are doing this work in the interest of your safety.”

Power companies worried about California’s devastating wildfires are increasingly turning to planned shutdowns. PG&E says this latest, unusually disruptive measure, which could last several days, was prompted by the dry winds like those that helped fuel disastrous fires before. The outages have upset customers, closed schools and workplaces and raised fears that people who rely on electricity for medical needs could be caught unprepared.

Some have questioned this week’s shutdown, which PG&E expects to affect 800,000 people, as excessive. About 650,000 customers were expected to lack power Wednesday evening, according to the company.

“This cannot be something that can be acceptable nor long term,” state Sen. Jerry Hill, a Democrat, told the Los Angeles Times, saying power shutdowns should be “surgical.” “This is Third World, and we are not,” he added.

Lawmakers have also accused PG&E of fueling the risks that prompted the shutdown with poor management and maintenance. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said at a news conference Wednesday that he was outraged by the outage “because it didn’t have to happen.”

Affected residents who spoke to The Washington Post blamed PG&E, too.

“It’s ridiculous, all political,” one Napa Valley man, Gregg Bowman, said. “This company is so screwed up.”

PG&E officials are quick to acknowledge people’s anger but maintain that they are prioritizing people’s safety and balancing dueling threats.

“There are risks of keeping the power on when there are really dangerous fire conditions, and there are risks with turning the power off,” PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith told The Post. “We’re constantly weighing those two factors.”

While PG&E responded to the alleged attack on a company vehicle with calls for customers’ understanding, law enforcement has not announced a motive.

A PG&E employee was driving a truck Tuesday evening in Northern California’s Colusa County – before the electricity cutoffs – when a bullet shattered one of the vehicle’s windows, the California Highway Patrol told The Associated Press. The driver was not hurt, according to the AP.

CHP is investigating the incident, which occurred north of the town of Maxwell as the staffer headed southbound on Interstate 5, according to authorities. A white pickup may have pulled up beside the PG&E truck before the shooting, CHP Officer J. Sherwood told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Singh expressed particular concern over the vehicle’s reported targeting.

“When you see a marked PG&E vehicle or contractors that are working on our behalf, again just a reminder, they are no different than our customers, and their families and their kids go to the same schools that our customers do,” he said.

Other incidents were raising security concerns elsewhere in the state where PG&E serves about 16 million customers.

Police in Oroville increased their patrols around PG&E properties Wednesday after an “angry customer” egged an office and left a “threatening note,” a department spokeswoman said. The extra patrols will continue for as long as the power outage lasts, she said.

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Hong Kong

Elite US Institutions Cave To China’s Political Demands

Entanglement with China has allowed it to pressure the West to bow to its demands for censorship and accept its aggressive oppression of Hong Kong protestors.

Meanwhile, protestors in Hong Kong are waving American flags, singing our national anthem and begging for Western support to help throw off the yoke of Technocrat oppression. ⁃ TN Editor

 

America’s elite institutions are catering to communist China.

The NBA provided the latest example Sunday night, when league commissioner Adam Silver apologized for Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Rockets star James Harden followed suit and apologized to China for Morey’s tweets.

The Brooklyn Nets’ new billionaire owner, Joseph Tsai, slammed Morey in a Facebook post Sunday night. Tsai, the co-founder of Chinese internet titan Alibaba, described Morey’s tweet as “so damaging to the relationship with our fans in China,” adding that “the hurt that this incident has caused will take a long time to repair.”

China Daily, the communist government’s propaganda arm, used the NBA’s conciliatory reaction to warn other companies to learn “a lesson: The big Chinese market is open to the world, but those who challenge China’s core interests and hurt Chinese people’s feelings cannot make any profit from it.”

The NBA isn’t alone in bowing to communist China.

American universities have allowed the Chinese government to fund centers called Confucius Institutes that provide the communist regime with avenues to infuse pro-China propaganda into American academia. Eighty-nine Confucius Institutes were operating in the U.S. as of September 2019, according to the National Association of Scholars.

Hollywood has self-censored for years in order to ensure access to the Chinese market. The U.S. government published a report in 2015 detailing how filmmakers tailor their messaging to appease Chinese audiences and—more importantly—Chinese government censors.

“U.S. filmmakers self-censor scenes, dialogue, images, and themes they fear will jeopardize their film’s chance of receiving Chinese approval for import,” stated the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s report, titled, “Directed by Hollywood, Edited by China.”

“For a type of movie, particularly the global blockbusters, they are not going to go and make something that the Chinese would reject for social or political reasons,” Peter Shiao, the CEO of an “independent Hollywood-Chinese coproduction studio,” told the commission.

MGM Studios digitally altered the 2012 remake of “Red Dawn” to change the invading army’s nationality from Chinese—as was the case during filming—to North Korean.

The Walt Disney Company threatened to boycott Georgia in May if a pro-life law took effect, even though the company apparently has no issue doing business with the Chinese regime, which is a notorious human rights violator. (RELATED: IHOP Boycotts Tucker Carlson But Not Saudi Arabia)

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