Uber’s woes continue to mount: Daily Bullshit, March 27-April 1, 2017

A gentle reminder that while I have always regarded April Fools Day as stupid and pointless, there are a great many folks, journalists included, who plainly derive a great deal of pleasure from it.


Updates

  1. March 28, 1:59 pm:
    • What it was like on earth following the meteor impact that killed off the dinosaurs and most of the life on earth.[1] (Extinction)
    • Democrats are threatening to filibuster Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court and Mitch McConnell is threatening to go nuclear.[2] (Neil Gorsuch)
    • Republicans can still kill Obamacare without new legislation.[3] (Obamacare)
  2. March 29, 3:01 am:
    • Do I really need to say more than, “Fast Radio Bursts,” “aliens,” and “space arks” or “world ships?”[4]
    • Scotland’s parliament has enabled Nicola Sturgeon to ask for a second Scottish referendum on independence.[5] (Scottish Independence)
    • The Brexitprocess will begin on Wednesday just after 1.30pm in Brussels.”[6]
  3. March 30, 2:09 am:
    • The letter invoking Article 50 to begin the Brexit process was delivered.[7]
    • The judge in Hawaii who issued a restraining order against Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban has converted that order into a preliminary injunction.[8]
  4. March 30, 11:58 am:
    • Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed, Republicans say, even if it means the “nuclear option,” as Democrats oppose him and threaten a filibuster.[9]
    • The British government has rejected the Scottish bid for a new referendum on independence.[10] (Scottish Independence)
    • Uber has a hostile workplace culture, probably pretty much regardless of who you are.[11]
  5. March 30, 12:48 pm:
    • The Trump administration is looking at regulatory remedies to its perception of the Obamacare problem.[12]
  6. March 31, 2:50 am:
    • Donald Trump criticized the House Freedom Caucus for its failure to support the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare,[13] which I had associated with authoritarian populism—the larger part of Trump’s base.
    • The BBC is reporting that a claim in the dossier (the one which includes allegations that Trump at least viewed “Golden Showers”) has been verified by intelligence agencies, suggesting that the entire dossier is being treated as more credible.[14]
  7. March 31, 1:59 pm:
    • Updated commentary on Golden Showers, Uber.
    • The April Fools Day reminder above.
    • The judge in Waymo’s suit against Uber has threatened to grant the injunction Waymo (Google) requested.[15]
  8. April 1, 1:47 am:
    • Nicola Sturgeon has formally requested a second referendum on Scottish Independence—and bared her teeth for the likelihood that Theresa May will not acquiesce.[16]
    • The European Union will probably view the matters of Brexit and any future trade deal between the E.U. and the United Kingdom as separate issues—to be negotiated in that order,[17] which would seem to me to cast doubt on the ability of Scots to make a “fully informed” decision on Scottish Independence on the timetable that Sturgeon expects.[18]
    • Trump’s (already!) former national security advisor has offered to be interviewed in connection with the Trump team’s alleged contacts with Russia in exchange for immunity.[19] (Golden Showers)
    • Neoconservative Charles Krauthammer, who favors market-based solutions to health care, believes we are now on the road to a single-payer system.[20] (Obamacare)
    • Caitlin Dewey looks at the biblical passage Republicans frequently invoke to require food stamp recipients to work.[21] (Social Safety Net)

Uber

Uber’s woes[22] continue to mount,[23] although the latest setback, a collision involving one of its self-driving cars in Tempe, Arizona, appears to have been temporary. The outcome of legal action taken by Waymo against Uber for allegedly stealing its technology for self-driving cars, however, remains to be seen.[24]

As to that lawsuit, the judge noted that former Waymo executive Anthony Levandowski “download[ed] 14,000 documents and [took] them, if he did. But I don’t hear anybody denying that.” Uber’s strategy, apparently, is not to deny that the theft occurred but “to convince the court that Uber was ‘not using any of these things’ Waymo says he stole.”[25] This looks to me like Waymo is relying on circumstantial evidence, damning circumstantial evidence, but circumstantial evidence nonetheless and I’m not seeing, yet anyway, how Levandowski’s testimony would alter this—he would be just another Uber executive denying Waymo’s allegation. This is a civil suit so the standard of evidence required to find for the plaintiff is far lower than the “reasonable doubt” standard in criminal prosecutions. So this is looking to me like Waymo may well prevail.

The harder question would be how an injunction that Waymo is requesting to bar Uber from using its secrets could be enforced. Uber, denying that it is using Waymo’s secrets, could just carry on with its self-driving car testing. Unless the judge shuts down that program, which Uber has apparently bet its bank on.[26] This is looking very, very ugly for Uber.

Greg Bensinger, “Uber Resumes Self-Driving-Vehicle Program After Arizona Accident,” Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-resumes-self-driving-vehicle-program-after-arizona-accident-1490641844

Adrienne LaFrance, “Can Uber Survive Without Self-Driving Cars?” CityLab, March 27, 2017, https://www.citylab.com/tech/2017/03/can-uber-survive-without-self-driving-cars/520911/

Georgia Wells and Greg Bensinger, “Uber Releases Workforce Data Amid Criticism of Company Culture,” Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-releases-workforce-data-amid-criticism-of-company-culture-1490721521

Alexandria Sage and Dan Levine, “Waymo-Uber judge says may grant injunction if key witness doesn’t testify,” Reuters, March 30, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-uber-tech-alphabet-lawsuit-idUSKBN17206X


Calexit

Tim Shipman, “The bad boys of Brexit join fight to break up California,” Times, March 26, 2017, http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/the-bad-boys-of-brexit-joinfight-to-break-up-california-k86ptklw3


Extinction

Brian Switek, “What Happened in the Seconds, Hours, Weeks After the Dino-Killing Asteroid Hit Earth?” Smithsonian, August 9, 2016, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-happened-seconds-hours-weeks-after-dino-killing-asteroid-hit-earth-180960032/


Neil Gorsuch

Jordain Carney, “Path to 60 narrows for Trump pick,” Hill, March 27, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/326042-path-to-60-narrows-for-trump-pick

Byron Tau, “More Than Half of Senate Democrats Say They Will Vote Against Neil Gorsuch,” Wall Street Journal, https://www.wsj.com/articles/more-than-half-of-senate-democrats-say-they-will-vote-against-neil-gorsuch-1490741697


Obamacare

Given the visceral Republican reaction to all things Obama, this option[27] must seem awfully tempting.

Stephanie Armour, “After GOP Bill’s Failure, Health-Law Lawsuit Takes Center Stage,” Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/after-gop-bills-failure-health-law-lawsuit-takes-center-stage-1490643053

Juliet Eilperin and Mike DeBonis, “Trump administration still plans to undo parts of the ACA, Tom Price testifies,” Washington Post, March 29, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-administration-still-plans-to-undo-parts-of-the-aca-tom-price-testifies/2017/03/29/236f633a-14a5-11e7-9e4f-09aa75d3ec57_story.html

Charles Krauthammer, “The road to single-payer health care,” Washington Post, March 30, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-road-to-single-payer-health-care/2017/03/30/bb7421d0-156c-11e7-ada0-1489b735b3a3_story.html


Fast Radio Bursts

Jake Ellison, “Coolest thing about theory of fast radio bursts powering starships,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 26, 2017, http://www.seattlepi.com/local/science/article/Here-s-the-coolest-thing-about-fast-radio-11024387.php


Scottish Independence

Deutschewelle, “Scotland: Lawmakers back independence vote,” March 28, 2017, http://www.dw.com/en/scottish-parliament-backs-second-independence-referendum-vote/a-38173306

Jason Douglas, “U.K. Government Rejects Move for Another Scottish Independence Vote,” Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-government-rejects-move-for-another-scottish-independence-vote-1490722198

Elizabeth Roberts, “Scottish lawmakers back call for independence vote,” CNN, March 28, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/28/europe/scottish-indy-vote/index.html

Hamish Macdonell, “Don’t stand in our way, PM told,” Times, April 1, 2017, http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/scotland/don-t-stand-in-our-way-pm-told-h0djtmgxf


Brexit

British Broadcasting Corporation, “‘No turning back’ on Brexit as Article 50 triggered,” March 29, 2017, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-39431428

George Parker and Alex Barker, “May ready to compromise as Brexit letter heads for Brussels,” Financial Times, March 29, 2017, https://www.ft.com/content/d4be8236-13a8-11e7-b0c1-37e417ee6c76

Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-rules-out-u-k-trade-deal-before-brexit-is-finalized-1490950492


Muslim Ban

Laura Jarrett, “Federal judge in Hawaii extends ruling halting travel ban indefinitely,” CNN, March 30, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/29/politics/hawaii-trump-travel-ban-extended/index.html


Golden Showers

It’s important to note that we still don’t know how much of the information in this dossier is true. But my suspicions run deeper.

To come out with an unsubstantiated (publicly) allegation, as the U.S. intelligence services have done,[28] and then to claim afterwards that a supporting dossier is gaining credibility[29] looks too much like a post hoc rationalization. There’s still no real evidence here. Only investigations being conducted by folks who are seeking to protect their own credibility and political interests. Sorry, still bullshit.

Paul Wood, “Trump Russia dossier key claim ‘verified,'” British Broadcasting Corporation, March 30, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39435786

Philip Bump, “Why Michael Flynn may be seeking immunity,” Washington Post, March 31, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/03/31/why-michael-flynn-may-be-seeking-immunity/

Nolan D. McCaskill, “Chaffetz: ‘Very mysterious’ why Flynn suddenly wants immunity,” Politico, March 31, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/jason-chaffetz-michael-flynn-immunity-donald-trump-236749

Byron Tau and Carol E. Lee, “President Trump Backs Michael Flynn’s Request for Immunity,” Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-urges-mike-flynn-to-seek-immunity-in-witch-hunt-1490963697


Social Safety Net

Caitlin Dewey, “GOP lawmaker: The Bible says ‘if a man will not work, he shall not eat,’” Washington Post, March 31, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/03/31/gop-lawmaker-the-bible-says-the-unemployed-shall-not-eat/


  1. [1]Brian Switek, “What Happened in the Seconds, Hours, Weeks After the Dino-Killing Asteroid Hit Earth?” Smithsonian, August 9, 2016, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-happened-seconds-hours-weeks-after-dino-killing-asteroid-hit-earth-180960032/
  2. [2]Jordain Carney, “Path to 60 narrows for Trump pick,” Hill, March 27, 2017, http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/326042-path-to-60-narrows-for-trump-pick
  3. [3]Stephanie Armour, “After GOP Bill’s Failure, Health-Law Lawsuit Takes Center Stage,” Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/after-gop-bills-failure-health-law-lawsuit-takes-center-stage-1490643053
  4. [4]Jake Ellison, “Coolest thing about theory of fast radio bursts powering starships,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 26, 2017, http://www.seattlepi.com/local/science/article/Here-s-the-coolest-thing-about-fast-radio-11024387.php
  5. [5]Deutschewelle, “Scotland: Lawmakers back independence vote,” March 28, 2017, http://www.dw.com/en/scottish-parliament-backs-second-independence-referendum-vote/a-38173306; Elizabeth Roberts, “Scottish lawmakers back call for independence vote,” CNN, March 28, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/28/europe/scottish-indy-vote/index.html
  6. [6]George Parker and Alex Barker, “May ready to compromise as Brexit letter heads for Brussels,” Financial Times, March 29, 2017, https://www.ft.com/content/d4be8236-13a8-11e7-b0c1-37e417ee6c76
  7. [7]British Broadcasting Corporation, “‘No turning back’ on Brexit as Article 50 triggered,” March 29, 2017, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-39431428
  8. [8]Laura Jarrett, “Federal judge in Hawaii extends ruling halting travel ban indefinitely,” CNN, March 30, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/29/politics/hawaii-trump-travel-ban-extended/index.html
  9. [9]Byron Tau, “More Than Half of Senate Democrats Say They Will Vote Against Neil Gorsuch,” Wall Street Journal, https://www.wsj.com/articles/more-than-half-of-senate-democrats-say-they-will-vote-against-neil-gorsuch-1490741697″ target=”_blank”>https://www.wsj.com/articles/more-than-half-of-senate-democrats-say-they-will-vote-against-neil-gorsuch-1490741697
  10. [10]Jason Douglas, “U.K. Government Rejects Move for Another Scottish Independence Vote,” Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-government-rejects-move-for-another-scottish-independence-vote-1490722198
  11. [11]Georgia Wells and Greg Bensinger, “Uber Releases Workforce Data Amid Criticism of Company Culture,” Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-releases-workforce-data-amid-criticism-of-company-culture-1490721521
  12. [12]Juliet Eilperin and Mike DeBonis, “Trump administration still plans to undo parts of the ACA, Tom Price testifies,” Washington Post, March 29, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-administration-still-plans-to-undo-parts-of-the-aca-tom-price-testifies/2017/03/29/236f633a-14a5-11e7-9e4f-09aa75d3ec57_story.html
  13. [13]John T. Bennett, “Trump Ready to Fight House Freedom Caucus,” Congressional Quarterly Roll Call, March 30, 2017, http://www.rollcall.com/news/70187-2
  14. [14]Paul Wood, “Trump Russia dossier key claim ‘verified,'” British Broadcasting Corporation, March 30, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39435786
  15. [15]Alexandria Sage and Dan Levine, “Waymo-Uber judge says may grant injunction if key witness doesn’t testify,” Reuters, March 30, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-uber-tech-alphabet-lawsuit-idUSKBN17206X
  16. [16]Hamish Macdonell, “Don’t stand in our way, PM told,” Times, April 1, 2017, http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/scotland/don-t-stand-in-our-way-pm-told-h0djtmgxf
  17. [17] Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-rules-out-u-k-trade-deal-before-brexit-is-finalized-1490950492
  18. [18]Hamish Macdonell, “Don’t stand in our way, PM told,” Times, April 1, 2017, http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/scotland/don-t-stand-in-our-way-pm-told-h0djtmgxf
  19. [19]Philip Bump, “Why Michael Flynn may be seeking immunity,” Washington Post, March 31, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/03/31/why-michael-flynn-may-be-seeking-immunity/; Nolan D. McCaskill, “Chaffetz: ‘Very mysterious’ why Flynn suddenly wants immunity,” Politico, March 31, 2017, http://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/jason-chaffetz-michael-flynn-immunity-donald-trump-236749; Byron Tau and Carol E. Lee, “President Trump Backs Michael Flynn’s Request for Immunity,” Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-urges-mike-flynn-to-seek-immunity-in-witch-hunt-1490963697
  20. [20]Charles Krauthammer, “The road to single-payer health care,” Washington Post, March 30, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-road-to-single-payer-health-care/2017/03/30/bb7421d0-156c-11e7-ada0-1489b735b3a3_story.html
  21. [21]Caitlin Dewey, “GOP lawmaker: The Bible says ‘if a man will not work, he shall not eat,’” Washington Post, March 31, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/03/31/gop-lawmaker-the-bible-says-the-unemployed-shall-not-eat/
  22. [22]Associated Press, “Uber to ban ‘greyball’ tool used to stymie regulators,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, March 8, 2017, http://www.startribune.com/uber-to-ban-greyball-tool-used-to-stymie-regulators/415730554/; Laura Bliss, “Is Uber Over?” CityLab, March 9, 2017, https://www.citylab.com/commute/2017/03/is-uber-over/518727/; Ryan Felton, “Uber Is Doomed,” Jalopnik, February 24, 2017, http://jalopnik.com/uber-is-doomed-1792634203; Reuters, “Uber’s turmoil continues as president Jeff Jones quits,” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, March 20, 2017, http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/uber-president-jeff-jones-quits-turmoil-1.4032107; Melanie Zanona and Ali Breland, “Uber shifts into damage control mode,” Hill, March 4, 2017, http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/322317-uber-shifts-into-damage-control-mode;
  23. [23]Adrienne LaFrance, “Can Uber Survive Without Self-Driving Cars?” CityLab, March 27, 2017, https://www.citylab.com/tech/2017/03/can-uber-survive-without-self-driving-cars/520911/
  24. [24]Greg Bensinger, “Uber Resumes Self-Driving-Vehicle Program After Arizona Accident,” Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-resumes-self-driving-vehicle-program-after-arizona-accident-1490641844
  25. [25]William Alsup, quoted in Alexandria Sage and Dan Levine, “Waymo-Uber judge says may grant injunction if key witness doesn’t testify,” Reuters, March 30, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-uber-tech-alphabet-lawsuit-idUSKBN17206X
  26. [26]Adrienne LaFrance, “Can Uber Survive Without Self-Driving Cars?” CityLab, March 27, 2017, https://www.citylab.com/tech/2017/03/can-uber-survive-without-self-driving-cars/520911/
  27. [27]Stephanie Armour, “After GOP Bill’s Failure, Health-Law Lawsuit Takes Center Stage,” Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/after-gop-bills-failure-health-law-lawsuit-takes-center-stage-1490643053
  28. [28]David Benfell, “Blaming the Russians,” Not Housebroken, December 17, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=9151
  29. [29]Paul Wood, “Trump Russia dossier key claim ‘verified,'” British Broadcasting Corporation, March 30, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39435786

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