Weekly Headlines

Politics

Roger Stone was recommended to serve upwards of nine years by federal prosecutors. The crimes he committed allow for this sentence, and it is rare for the DOJ to step in. Well, following a Trump tweet about the lengthy sentence, Barr intervened and recommended a lighter one. This resulted in the dominoes beginning to fall. Four prosecutors resigned from the case sending shock waves through Washington.

The optics are horrible, even if the move is justified. On the surface it looks like another abuse of power. One also needs to wonder if Trump, and his higher ups at the Department of Justice, fell right into a planned setup concocted by the left. How so? Don’t think for a minute that four partisan attorneys would collude with ranking Democrats to present an incredibly strong sentence recommendation with the hope of triggering exactly what happened. The line was cast, and the fish took the bait.

When will the cat and mouse game end between these orchestrations from the left, and the gullibility on the right. Don’t be the least bit surprised if this sets up yet another high ranking investigation.

International

The Department of Justice was in the news earlier this week for a story that was much more important. Barr indicted four members of the Chinese military in conjunction with the Equifax hack back in 2017. This is a big deal. America is trying to fix its relation with the pseudo-communist regime, and this will undoubtedly be a step back in mending the fences. Just what were these members of the Chinese military doing? How high up the chain of command did this extend within the Chinese government? Why were they phishing for this information?

Yet again, it seems to be another act of cyber crimes against US citizens sponsored by a foreign government.

This story comes on the heels of the US and UK trying to iron out an agreement with regard to the treatment of Huawei. The UK seems to be OK with allowing Huawei into their nation by use of their telecommunication equipment. The American government is vehemently opposed to American allies using this equipment as the trust factor is all but destroyed with regard to China. Americans don’t want information transmitted on lines owned by the Chinese. What a mess.

The coronavirus remains in the news. There is one thing we know. If we trust the numbers from China, the virus isn’t even close in severity as it is to the annual influenza virus. The problem is if.

There is a laundry list of sketchy reporting leaking out of China showing the situation to be considerably more dire than the government is letting on. We know it’s very difficult for the citizens of China to tell the world what is really going on, and with so many people in China, it’s also important we don’t trust every citizen journalist.

There is also a long list of worrisome information we do know. This leads one to believe that the virus was genetically engineered as a biochemical weapon to be used against other nations, or against their own people. It is also possible the virus was created and escaped from the lab by accident. All three scenarios seem to be the most likely origin of the virus. The story we originally heard about bat soup transmitting the virus is all but a fallacy.

Why do we know this? The only lab in all of China that studies dangerous pathogens is in Wuhan. This cannot be a coincidence when you have a country that covers two continents comprised of over one billion people. Also, the origins of the virus trace back to Canada, and stem to a researcher in that nation. Well, he was recently found dead in Africa. Finally, China has a recent history of theft with regard to pathogens. Furthermore, the virus embodies similar traits to HIV, which further the odds it was engineered. We also know that the head researcher in Wuhan was obsessed with studying bats and the resistance they have to diseases. Finally, the Chinese government has declined all support from US officials. All of these seem to be too much of a coincidence. Something sinister was going on, but we’ll likely never know.

The Catholic Church was on the precipice of shocking the world, and their own members, had Pope Francis done what most considered a foregone conclusion. Instead, he ruled against allowing married men to become priests in the Amazon, and also declined the local bishops’ suggestion to allow female deacons.

The move would have been earth shattering for the church rooted in deep tradition. The backstory is local bishops have been asking the Vatican to change the rules so they can deal with the priest and deacon shortage in the area. The liberal Pope Francis seemed like the guy who’d break the mold and make the move.

Well, it seems like the ranking conservatives in the Vatican led by (the still alive and able minded) Pope Benedict. It’s been years since he stepped down, but his presence has remained. His force seems almost more powerful than it was back when he was Pope.

South America was split on the move. About half the nations polled around and above 50% in favor of the move, while the other nations were around 25% – 40% in favor. For context, American Catholics poll above 60% in favor of the move.

Expect the church to not revisit the issue during Francis’ tenure, and the debate will carry over into the next generation. Also, expect the problem plaguing parishes in the Amazon to spill over into other dioceses across the world, if church attendance doesn’t continue its free fall as well. Evolve or die?

Sports

The Sixers have become a team that everyone in the sports media world has loved to pile on in recent weeks. This is warranted. The team was 10-10 in their last twenty, before a home win against the playoff bound Clippers. The Raptors are the hottest team in the NBA today, but expect them to pass the torch to the Sixers to end the season.

The Sixers have 27 games left. Fourteen of them are at home, where they have lost a league-best two games this season. Odds are they win 13 of these games. They have only 8 games left against teams above 0.500. This includes the one game above 0.500 Memphis Grizzlies. The other seven are a pair against the LA juggernauts on the road, a home and away versus the East’s best Milwaukee Bucks, and one each against Toronto, Indiana, and Houston.

Assuming they split these games, the Sixers may only lose four or five more. That likely puts them at 56-26, a record better than the previous two years, and a two or three seed in the East. The team will be fine, healthy, and most importantly, hot as they enter the playoffs to avenge the infamous bounce in from Kawhi that crushed their hopes in a dramatic game seven exit to the ultimate NBA champs.

The Houston Astros are a joke. Reports continue to trickle in about the now infamous cheating scandal staining their 2017 championship. Most reports are trying to blame a few head honchos within the organization, as well as the team’s coaches. Now, Beltran has been bearing the brunt of the blame with regard to players. Bregman’s name has been in the mix all along.

What a mess. We still have no discipline on the Red Sox despite Cora being canned. Baseball is not going to see this story go away. The Astros need to show contrition as well. As of now, it seems they will try once Spring Training begins, but expect it to fall flat.

The season will be a wreck. Their numbers are going to be heavily scrutinized, the team will be considerably booed, and most pitchers will take out their frustration on the team. Bench clearing brawls, and endless warnings and ejections from the umps, as well as the league, will be commonplace through the entire season. There is still plenty of explaining to do. You really have to believe that until players are disciplined by MLB the story is not going away.

Baseball is also proposing radical changes to their current playoff structure. The changes make sense. More teams means more money, and increased interest from the fans. The additional teams drive higher fanfare because the organizations remain in contention longer. That’s always a win win. The league has yet to realize the timing of their playoffs makes no sense, as does the outlay of their schedule in the regular season.

Shorten the regular season, and start the playoffs earlier. Real estate is key with TV ratings, and baseball is going against almost every sport in October. In contrast, they are the only game in town from July through September. This is a perfect opportunity to move the playoffs up a bit to drive further interest.

Also, no one likes inter-league play sporadically spread about the season. The NFL had this problem a few years back and got smart. They moved the meaningful divisional contests to the end of the season. Baseball has to take a page from their book, especially if they expand the playoffs. In short, what the league is doing is a step in the right direction.

It’s been a busy off season for baseball. The league just announced a new rule change for 2020, and it’s safe to say most traditionalists will not be impressed. Managers are only allowed to replace relief pitchers after the player faces three batters, or ends the inning. No more calls to the bullpen resulting in a player pitching for one out.

The league says this will increase the action. Yes, it certainly will. It will likely bring fans some late inning crooked numbers, and subsequent lead changes. That’s fun, but it doesn’t speed up the game. In fact, it likely adds a few minutes to the game. Replace warmup pitches with additional live game pitches, and less roster changes with more hits and batters on base.

Traditionalists will mourn the loss of the manager being able to make decisions that impact the game in the later innings. They are correct with their initial sentiment. But, this will bring back workhorse pitchers, and increase the amount of innings from starters. The game will adjust in these first few seasons, but it’ll eventually be just fine. The game will adapt to this nicely.

It will make postseason play much more enjoyable. Especially for TV viewers, and those fans sitting in the seats at cold, late October evening games.

In short, the move takes away an aspect of analytics that has swept through baseball in recent years, resulting in strategy that’s brought about unusual bullpen moves, and subsequent World Series winners. The Kansas City Royals are a team that comes to mind.

This will take baseball back to a simpler time when pitchers pitched, and batters hit. Managers sat idly by, and didn’t worry about which reliever had a higher statistical advantage against every hitter in the opponents order.

Entertainment

Jussie Smollett is back in the news. A grand jury has indicted him on multiple counts. His lawyers say it is a political tactic because the state’s AG is in an election, as well as claims of double jeopardy. The public largely wants to see him face justice, but only time will tell if this never-ending story will actually come to an end.

Business

The FAA has fallen further out of grace with some damning reports out of the Wall Street Journal. We’ve already seen that the FAA had a very cozy relationship with Boeing. In turn, the MAX Jets were approved with minimal push back resulting in two fatal crashes. Now, it seems like members of the FAA had a similar relationship with Southwest Airlines. They looked the other way for years. They’d allow the planes to fly with known mechanical issues.

You really have to imagine that it’s time for the Trump administration to step in and fix the systemic issues inside the FAA. It seems that they have been playing a game of Russian roulette for years with the airlines and their mechanical problems. This obviously boils down to profit.

A plane not in the air is a plane not making money for the company. God knows what else we find if these journalists continue investigating. Who knows how many back room handshakes have taken place. But, what’s worse is when you imagine the back and forth in terms of favors. We know the FAA was granting the airlines favorable inspections, but what were the airlines returning to the inspectors. How much money was changing hands in the form of bribes? It seems we are only at the tip of the iceberg. Finally, how long until another fatality? Let’s hope the preliminary findings have put the FAA and the airlines on notice.

Twitter’s CEO is a bit wacky, especially since he’s moved to Africa for six months. But, it’s important to listen to his most recent comments about San Francisco. He said he will no longer build out his workforce in the city, and intends to diversify his employment strategy across multiple cities. The intent at its surface doesn’t seem to be due to the rampant problems we’ve been hearing about the city in terms of their homeless crisis.

Instead, it seems the cult of personality that’s materialized in Silicon Valley is impeding growth. He wants to diversify the background of his employees in terms of their creativity, beliefs, and culture. This is a big win for business if we see it catch on.

A company is unquestionably better if they bring in different people. As of late, different has been surface level appearances. Skin color and gender. Now, it seems the top brass at major companies is realizing they need a difference of opinion. They can only capture this by geographically diversifying their workforce. A big win for America, and business. Let’s hope this trend catches on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s