Jeffrey Epstein almost certainly committed suicide. Not that that will quiet the conspiracy clowns.

Jeffrey Epstein

Jeffrey Epstein’s death looks like suicide though the Federal Bureau of Investigation hasn’t completed its investigation.[1] But, as predicted:[2]

It’s not hard to find more tweets like this on Twitter. Last night I saw one offering to sell me snake oil if I believed it was suicide.

The hell of it is, the first three points in the tweet I quote above are confirmed, albeit in a context of severe understaffing,[3] which means that conspiracy theories surrounding Epstein’s death are better founded than most.

As to the fourth point, “while cameras are prevalent in the facility, [E. O. Young, the national president of the Council of Prison Locals C-33] did not believe they generally captured inmates’ cells.”[4] I’m honestly not sure what to think here: Prisons already dehumanize. Cameras peering into cells would effectively reproduce the panopticon, an especially dystopian form of prison, intensifying that dehumanization.

Meanwhile, William Barr is making clear that it will be the prison, “which long was considered to be among the best-run facilities in the Bureau of Prisons system,” that takes the blame for Epstein’s death,[5] saying “[w]e are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation,”[6] though “[i]n congressional testimony earlier this year, . . . Barr conceded the bureau was ‘short’ about 4,000 or 5,000 employees and said he had lifted the hiring freeze and was trying to ensure a steady pipeline of new officers to replace those who leave.”[7]

Tom Winter, Doha Madani, and Alex Johnson, “After autopsy, cause of Jeffrey Epstein’s death awaits ‘further information;’” NBC News, August 11, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/after-autopsy-cause-jeffrey-epstein-s-death-awaits-further-information-n1041216

Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Corrections officers did not check on Epstein for ‘several’ hours before his death, violating protocol, person familiar with case says,” Washington Post, August 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/it-was-inevitable-officers-watching-epstein-were-on-overtime-due-to-jail-staffing-shortage-union-president-says/2019/08/11/2b611404-bc5e-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html

David Shortell and Evan Perez, “Barr cites ‘failure’ at NYC jail that held Epstein, says ‘co-conspirators’ should not rest easy,” CNN, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/12/politics/barr-new-york-jail-epstein/index.html


Brexit

It still looks like a hard Brexit.[8] Now, a report from the Institute for Government

said that while a majority of MPs appeared to oppose no deal, they would “need new tactics” to actually block it, given the lack of Brexit-related legislation on to which to tack amendments or new motions, unlike when Theresa May was seeking to pass her deal.

Simply passing motions opposing no deal would not be enough, the report argued, as Johnson’s government has indicated it will not be bound by these. Amending primary legislation would carry more weight, but this would depend on bills being brought to the Commons, which might not happen.

Even what the report called the “nuclear option” of a no-confidence vote against Johnson’s government might not block no deal, the report said, as Johnson could sit out the 14-day period dictated if he lost such a vote, even if a new government seemed viable.

The report said that if an election was called, given a five-week campaign period and a possible week needed to finish parliamentary business before dissolution, it would be very tight to arrange before 31 October.[9]

Which amounts to that the Institute doesn’t know how to stop a hard Brexit either. That’d be the question I asked before.[10] Thanks, Tories for being inexcusably absolute fucking idiots.[11]

Peter Walker, “MPs opposing no-deal Brexit will ‘need new tactics’, report says,” Guardian, August 11, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/11/mps-opposing-no-deal-brexit-will-need-new-tactics-report-says


Ridesharing

Rich Alton argues that since Uber and Lyft rides are essentially interchangeable, and therefore commodities, price is one of the few ways the two companies have to compete. This doesn’t go away with self-driving cars; instead, the temptation to engage in a new price war will, he believes, be irresistible, cutting the companies’ margins to approximately what they are today. They’re unprofitable today, therefore unprofitable even with self-driving cars tomorrow.[12]

I assume the companies would deflect this critique by pointing to their other businesses, things like bike and scooter rentals, and food delivery. But it seems to me that these are “commodities” in the way Alton uses the term as well: What difference whether GrubHub or Uber Eats, really? And even if these other lines are profitable—I haven’t heard one way or the other—if the ridesharing business is doomed to be unprofitable as Alton suggests, then why throw good money after bad by continuing to flog it?

The way one or the other of these companies survives is if one of them goes out of business first, allowing the other to raise prices and widen its margin. Right now, everything I’m seeing points to it being Uber that goes down first.[13] But only just:

[Uber] stock dropped 7.6% to $37.00, falling below its previous low of $37.10 on May 13. Since its debut on the public markets in May, Uber shares have shed about 18% of their value from the company’s IPO price of $45 per share.[14]

In contrast, “[s]hares of Lyft fell 4.9% on Monday.”[15]

But the murmurings of a recession are getting louder.[16] A panic, or even a sudden contagion of clear-sightedness, could take out both of them.

Rich Alton, “Basic economics means Uber and Lyft can’t rely on driverless cars to become profitable,” Marketwatch, August 12, 2019, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/basic-economics-means-uber-and-lyft-cant-rely-on-driverless-cars-to-become-profitable-2019-08-12


  1. [1]Tom Winter, Doha Madani, and Alex Johnson, “After autopsy, cause of Jeffrey Epstein’s death awaits ‘further information;’” NBC News, August 11, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/after-autopsy-cause-jeffrey-epstein-s-death-awaits-further-information-n1041216
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Jeffrey Epstein is dead. Send in the conspiracy clowns,” Not Housebroken, August 11, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/11/jeffrey-epstein-is-dead-send-in-the-conspiracy-clowns/
  3. [3]Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Corrections officers did not check on Epstein for ‘several’ hours before his death, violating protocol, person familiar with case says,” Washington Post, August 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/it-was-inevitable-officers-watching-epstein-were-on-overtime-due-to-jail-staffing-shortage-union-president-says/2019/08/11/2b611404-bc5e-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  4. [4]Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Corrections officers did not check on Epstein for ‘several’ hours before his death, violating protocol, person familiar with case says,” Washington Post, August 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/it-was-inevitable-officers-watching-epstein-were-on-overtime-due-to-jail-staffing-shortage-union-president-says/2019/08/11/2b611404-bc5e-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  5. [5]David Shortell and Evan Perez, “Barr cites ‘failure’ at NYC jail that held Epstein, says ‘co-conspirators’ should not rest easy,” CNN, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/12/politics/barr-new-york-jail-epstein/index.html
  6. [6]William Barr, quoted in David Shortell and Evan Perez, “Barr cites ‘failure’ at NYC jail that held Epstein, says ‘co-conspirators’ should not rest easy,” CNN, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/12/politics/barr-new-york-jail-epstein/index.html
  7. [7]Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett, “Corrections officers did not check on Epstein for ‘several’ hours before his death, violating protocol, person familiar with case says,” Washington Post, August 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/it-was-inevitable-officers-watching-epstein-were-on-overtime-due-to-jail-staffing-shortage-union-president-says/2019/08/11/2b611404-bc5e-11e9-a5c6-1e74f7ec4a93_story.html
  8. [8]David Benfell, “A bicycle on a steep downward slope towards a brick wall,” Not Housebroken, August 10, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/10/a-bicycle-on-a-steep-downward-slope-towards-a-brick-wall/
  9. [9]Peter Walker, “MPs opposing no-deal Brexit will ‘need new tactics’, report says,” Guardian, August 11, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/11/mps-opposing-no-deal-brexit-will-need-new-tactics-report-says
  10. [10]David Benfell, “Okay, so really now, assuming they choose to do so, how do the British avoid a hard Brexit?” Not Housebroken, July 26, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/26/okay-so-really-now-assuming-they-choose-to-do-so-how-do-the-british-avoid-a-hard-brexit/
  11. [11]David Benfell, “Boris Johnson might think he’s playing poker with the European Union, but he’s actually playing ‘chicken’—with a brick wall,” Not Housebroken, August 2, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/02/boris-johnson-might-think-hes-playing-poker-with-the-european-union-but-hes-actually-playing-chicken-with-a-brick-wall/; David Benfell, “Tories need their own island, well away from the European Union,” Not Housebroken, August 11, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/11/tories-need-their-own-island-well-away-from-the-european-union/
  12. [12]Rich Alton, “Basic economics means Uber and Lyft can’t rely on driverless cars to become profitable,” Marketwatch, August 12, 2019, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/basic-economics-means-uber-and-lyft-cant-rely-on-driverless-cars-to-become-profitable-2019-08-12
  13. [13]David Benfell, “Watching the ridesharing shit go down the toilet,” Not Housebroken, July 30, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/30/watching-the-ridesharing-shit-go-down-the-toilet/; David Benfell, “Uber appears to be going down,” Not Housebroken, August 11, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/11/uber-appears-to-be-going-down/
  14. [14]Annie Palmer, “Uber falls to all-time low as investors grow more skeptical,” CNBC, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/12/uber-stock-falls-to-all-time-low-as-investors-grow-more-skeptical.html
  15. [15]Annie Palmer, “Uber falls to all-time low as investors grow more skeptical,” CNBC, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/12/uber-stock-falls-to-all-time-low-as-investors-grow-more-skeptical.html
  16. [16]David Benfell, “Forsaken,” Irregular Bullshit, August 9, 2019, https://disunitedstates.com/2019/08/09/forsaken/; John Kemp, “Global economy is probably in recession,” Reuters, August 7, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-global-economy-kemp/column-global-economy-is-probably-in-recession-idUKKCN1UX1OF

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