Texas Fracking Billionaires Drew Covid-19 Aid While Investing in Rivals – WSJ

“WASHINGTON—As the coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices walloped U.S. frackers this spring, Texas billionaires Dan and Farris Wilks got a $35 million relief loan to help one of their fracking companies stay afloat. At the same time, they were on a buying spree in the country’s oil patch.

Since spring, businesses controlled by the Wilks brothers have hunted for deals among fracking firms going through bankruptcy and taken or increased stakes in at least six other companies, corporate filings show. But when it looked like the oil-and-gas industry would be shut out of a key pandemic lending program, they and others in the industry turned their attention to Washington, making an appeal for help in meetings with home-state senator Ted Cruz.

The twin dynamics of acquisitions and government rescue show how the economic tumult caused by the pandemic has reshaped the landscape for a key U.S. industry. One result: The Wilkses have expanded their presence in a still-youthful industry where they first invested in 2002, soon to become billionaires as fracking flourished.

But the industry was already under pressure from international competition and a sagging oil price by the time the pandemic hit, and its mounting woes prompted the Wilkses and others to turn to allies in Washington, including Mr. Cruz. The Republican senator helped convince the Trump administration and the Federal Reserve to change the rules for pandemic loans to ensure oil and gas firms could participate.

Soon after the U.S. government changed the rules of its lending program in April, a Wilks family company, ProFrac Holdings LLC, applied for and received a $35 million loan, federal records show. ProFrac, a supplier of pumping equipment and services, is just one slice of the sprawling portfolio of fracking businesses that the Wilks family owns in part or outright across the American West and Canada.

Source: Texas Fracking Billionaires Drew Covid-19 Aid While Investing in Rivals – WSJ

My arguments to a friend and Trump Supporter on why to support Biden – by David Lindsay – Inconvenient News.net

11.02.2020

I played tennis this early morning with Mr. Migs, and since the election is tomorrow, I asked him if he did his homework. No he said, but he might tonight. Since he voted for Trump four years ago, and plans to vote for him again tomorrow, I had asked him to watch just the first 20 minutes of the first debate between Trump and Biden. He agreed to do this, but hasn’t.  Migs said he decided during the second debate between Al Gore and George W Bush, that because Gore made faces of condescension while Bush was talking, he realized that he could never vote for Gore, and therefore his vote went to Bush. The fact that Migs was an engineer for an oil company probably had more to bear on his world view than he admits.

Migs usually beats me 6-1, 6-0, but today was headed towards one of those 6-0, 6-0 days, and I decided to make my case for Biden. I mentioned that Trump was un-presidential, and damaging to our society, when he declared things that weren’t true, such as his recent tweet, that Obama ordered the 6 navy seals who supposedly killed Osama Bin Laden,  killed themselves, to hide the fact that they had not assassinated Bin Laden, but had in fact killed a body double instead. After that comment, Migs served a ball hard as he could toward my stomach, so all I could do was bounce it defensively into the netting between the indoor courts. I mentioned the powerful op-ed in the NYT on Sunday by Roger Cohen, who described how Trump was undoing all of our alliances that we forged after winning WW II, and that the great peace, or the Pax Americana, was coming to a dangerous end.

I asked him if he knew why Trump was impeached, and he said he didn’t know or remember. I reminded him that President Trump told the president of the Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, that the $400 Million in military aid for their hot war with Russia would be held up, unless he did Trump a favor, and announced an investigation into the corruption of Joe Biden and his son Hunter, regarding their relationships with the Burisma Gas Company.  After hemming and hawing, the young president of Ukraine finally agreed to do so, but one of the various American analysts listening in on the call reported the crime to the Justice department anonymously, under the whistle blower act. Trump had essentially committed a form of treason, by hurting the US policy to aid Ukraine in their war with Russia, unless they agreed to try and besmirch one of Trump’s expected political rivals.

I lost another hard fought game. Migs was hitting so hard, I couldn’t drive his cross court ball down the line, and keep it inside the court.  Did he know of one, Jamal Khashoggi.  No he didn’t. I explained that Khashoggi was a journalist in Saudi Arabia, who after criticizing the royal family, had to flee to the US, where he became a writer for the Washington Post, and grew more vocal in criticizing the house of Saud. While back in the middle east, he went to a Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, to get the papers to legally marry his fiancé, but he was apprehended by about 12 Saudi agents, and never heard from again.  A security film showed a man in his clothes left the building,  but it wasn’t him. The Turkish Government produced a sound tape of his torture and dismemberment by small bone saws. He was apparently packed into a small suitcase for disposal. The point, I mentioned, was that Trump refused to criticize the Saudis, and he sent a message to the world that as far as his administration was concerned, it was OK to murder journalists.

And lastly, I reminded Migs of a story I’d related months earlier, of how Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asked Trump to remove his  500 American soldiers from northern Syria, which he did, at Erdogan’s request, leaving our Kurdish and Syrian allies in that part of Syria unprotected. These were the fighters who had fought and over ten years had defeated ISIS with our support. The Kurds were the most democratic forces in the region. After the withdrawal, the airforces of Syria, Turkey and Russia bombed our Kurdish and northern Syria militia allies back into the stone age. It was a bloodbath, targeting schools, hospitals and mosques. It appeared that Trump was working for Putin of Russia, not for the American people. This was treason on a tragic scale. The American military leadership was caught off guard, shamed and embarrassed.

Migs, said, stop worrying, Trump has no chance, he will lose. I agreed that he was probably right.  I pointed out though, that Jeff Greenfield was on the PBS Newshour last night reporting that one forecasting group says that Biden will have to win by at least 6 percentage points, to also win the electoral college. We set our next time to play, and left each other in peace to start the work day.

Opinion | My Grandmother’s Favorite Scammer – By Frankie Huang – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Huang is a writer and illustrator.

“BEIJING — One day last winter my mother sent me an odd message over WeChat. “Has Laolao said anything strange to you today?” she asked.

I immediately sensed that something was amiss. My mother is a typical Chinese parent. She always feels obliged to withhold bad news from me until she has no other choice. Why was she worried about my grandmother?

I thought back to my most recent visit to Laolao’s shabby apartment here. She had just turned 88, and other than the usual age-related forgetfulness and grumbling about kids these days, she was her usual self.

My mother’s next message unnerved me even more. “Was she of sound mind?”

“You have to tell me what’s going on,” I messaged back.

I fought the urge to berate her and began to scour the internet for information on bank scams that involved sworn secrecy. My heart sank when results filled my screen, describing our situation exactly. I was in an airport, on a business trip, so I messaged Laolao’s assistant at her office and told her to freeze all my grandmother’s bank accounts. But it turned out the bank couldn’t do anything unless Laolao herself requested it.”

Five Black Teenagers, Innocent, Face a Lifetime of Guilt – The New York Times

“THE news that five young black men were accused of raping a young woman in a Brooklyn park in January captivated the city for weeks. The defendants were tried — and immediately convicted — in the court of public opinion. But as details emerged, it became clear that they were innocent, and the prosecutor dropped all charges. However, the dismissal of charges does not undo the damage to the reputations of the so-called Brownsville Five, teenagers ages 14 to 18, including one who is my client. Because they were tried in adult court, their names were made public and were reported widely in the news media, smearing them for the rest of their lives.The incident should prompt a serious public discussion about the need for both sealing laws to help protect the identities of the accused and reform of New York’s archaic discovery laws, which deprive defense attorneys of the evidence gathered by the police and the prosecutor.

Source: Five Black Teenagers, Innocent, Face a Lifetime of Guilt – The New York Times

Ugly story, interesting comments. And New York. Yuck. “There is something rotten in Denmark.”

To Fight Critics, Donald Trump Aims to Instill Fear in 140-Character Doses – The New York Times

“Cheri Jacobus, a Republican political strategist, did not think she had done anything out of the ordinary: On a cable television show, she criticized Donald J. Trump for skipping a debate in Iowa in late January and described him as a “bad debater.”But then Mr. Trump took to Twitter, repeatedly branding Ms. Jacobus as a disappointed job seeker who had begged to work for his campaign and had been rejected. “We said no and she went hostile,” he wrote. “A real dummy!” Mr. Trump’s campaign manager told the same story on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”Mr. Trump’s Twitter followers, who number about six million, piled on. For days, they replied to his posts with demeaning, often sexually charged insults aimed at Ms. Jacobus, including several with altered, vulgar photographs of her face.”

This is an ugly story of a real bully. The twittersphere lit up with ugly attacks on the woman, twitter bullying. In fact, the article reports that the attack by Trump was a complete lie.

Source: To Fight Critics, Donald Trump Aims to Instill Fear in 140-Character Doses – The New York Times

How America Was Lost Why is the death of a Supreme Court justice bringing America to the edge of constitutional crisis? nytimes.com|By Paul Krugman

Krugman starts: “Once upon a time, the death of a Supreme Court justice wouldn’t have brought America to the edge of constitutional crisis. But that was a different country, with a very different Republican Party. In today’s America, with today’s G.O.P., the passing of Antonin Scalia has opened the doors to chaos.

In principle, losing a justice should cause at most a mild disturbance in the national scene. After all, the court is supposed to be above politics. So when a vacancy appears, the president should simply nominate, and the Senate approve, someone highly qualified and respected by all.”

Why is the death of a Supreme Court justice bringing America to the edge of constitutional crisis?
nytimes.com|By Paul Krugman

Vindication for Planned Parenthood – The New York Times

“One after the other, investigations of Planned Parenthood prompted by hidden-camera videos released last summer have found no evidence of wrongdoing. On Monday, a grand jury in Harris County, Tex., went a step further. Though it was convened to investigate Planned Parenthood, it indicted two members of the group that made the videos instead.The Harris County prosecutor, Devon Anderson, a Republican who was asked by the lieutenant governor, a strident opponent of Planned Parenthood, to open the criminal investigation, said on Monday that the grand jurors had cleared Planned Parenthood of any misconduct.Yet despite all the evidence, Texas’ Republican governor, Greg Abbott, said on Monday that the state attorney general’s office and the State Health and Human Services Commission would continue investigating Planned Parenthood. This is a purely political campaign of intimidation and persecution meant to destroy an organization whose mission to serve women’s health care needs the governor abhors.”

Source: Vindication for Planned Parenthood – The New York Times

Indictment Deals Blow to G.O.P. Over Planned Parenthood Battle – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — A grand jury’s indictment on Monday of two abortion opponents who covertly recorded Planned Parenthood officials is the latest, most startling sign that a Republican campaign against the group has run into trouble.In a dozen states including Texas, where the grand jury in Houston examined Planned Parenthood at the request of Republican officials but ended up indicting the opponents, various investigations have concluded without finding any wrongdoing by affiliates of the group. Eight states have declined to investigate since videos began surfacing in June alleging that Planned Parenthood illegally sells tissue from aborted fetuses.”

Source: Indictment Deals Blow to G.O.P. Over Planned Parenthood Battle – The New York Times

Strong Unions, Strong Democracy – The New York Times

“IF the questions that came up during oral argument in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association on Monday are any guide, the ruling bloc of conservative justices appears ready to render a decision later this year that would significantly weaken public sector labor unions.By stripping these unions of key financial resources — their fair share of fees provided by nonmembers — the court would upend a longstanding precedent. A decision in favor of the plaintiff would effectively slam the door on an era in which some conservatives joined liberals in recognizing that vibrant unions help make our democracy work. This is radicalism, not conservatism.”

I wish I could see clearly through this swamp of conflicts. To stop moving like a yo yo, I need to bring up ultimate goals. First, we need to make Police and Prison Guard unions illegal, because too often they protect bullies, scoundrels and criminals. Ideally, we would simply dismantle these unions, because they have played a part in crimes against humanity by overprotected police officers and prison guards. If necessary, I would weaken most unions, just to dismantle these two types, because crimes against humanity are not acceptable. These people are our guards and enforcers. Who guards the guards is a critical part of our safety, and should not be up to the guards themselves. The guardians of public safety require external oversight. Their unions are guilty over and over again of protecting their bullies and scoundrels from external oversight.
I might support the new restrictions under debate, because teacher unions are guilty of putting seniority over quality, their comfort over excellence in education. Since they have not acted in the public interest on such core matters, they should be trimmed down till they wake up to the need to take care of their students, as well as themselves.

Source: Strong Unions, Strong Democracy – The New York Times

The Brutalism of Ted Cruz – by David Brooks, New York Times

“In 1997, Michael Wayne Haley was arrested after stealing a calculator from Walmart. This was a crime that merited a maximum two-year prison term. But prosecutors incorrectly applied a habitual offender law. Neither the judge nor the defense lawyer caught the error and Haley was sentenced to 16 years.Eventually, the mistake came to light and Haley tried to fix it. Ted Cruz was solicitor general of Texas at the time. Instead of just letting Haley go for time served, Cruz took the case to the Supreme Court to keep Haley in prison for the full 16 years.”

Source: The Brutalism of Ted Cruz – The New York Times