Midday open thread: Solar jobs fall by 8,000; Alex Jones to be deposed on Sandy Hook 'hoax'
Today’s comic by Ruben Bolling is The Latin American Lucky Ducky: Pato Afortunado comes to America:
• Legal Action: Crackpot Division—Infowars’ Alex Jones will be deposed: In a huge win Wednesday for families of eight of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre victims and a first responder who are involved in a defamation suit against wild-ass conspiracy-monger Alex Jones, a judge has ruled that the founder of Infowars must answer questions in a sworn deposition. Guests on Jones’s web show have pushed the idea that the slayings of 26 students and staff at the Newton, Conn., school in 2012 was a staged government operation and many of those interviewed by the media were paid “crisis actors.” Previous lawsuits have noted that some of the families have been harassed and threatened with death by Jones’ followers. The judge also ruled Wednesday that the families can depose several other defendants in the case, “including those critical to Infowars’ business operations.” Jones himself says the discussions were just examples of free speech being exercised and that he personally believes the slayings occurred. The families have already been granted access to his financial records.
• Brexit now estimated to be costing the British economy £40 billion a year. That’s 2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product: That breaks down as £800 million a week of lost income since the June 2016 vote to sever Great Britain from the European Union. Another estimate put the annual loss to the average UK household at £900, $1,152 at current exchange rates. The campaign to cut ties had claimed that this move would save about £350 million a week on EU membership fees, money that could then be spent on the National Health Service.
• Did somebody wash their pants and throw away the unidentifiable mush of paper found afterward in a pocket? The winner of a $1.537 billion Mega Millions lottery jackpot in South Carolina in October still hasn’t collected. It’s estimated the winner would pay $61 million in state income taxes, adding that money to South Carolina’s budget. That’s 0.5 percent of the $9 billion budget that lawmakers have authority over. If the prize goes unclaimed past the mid-April deadline, the money will be returned to the 44 states, District of Columbia, and U.S. Virgin Islands that participate in Mega Millions. The state Board of Economic Advisors is expected to recommend that the $61 million be removed from the state’s spending plan.
— Lorenzo The Cat (@LorenzoTheCat) February 14, 2019
• Remember the Trump tariff on solar panels that was supposed to boost U.S jobs? Each year, the Solar Foundation conducts a comprehensive “census” of solar-related jobs. And while the rise in such jobs was soaring up to two years ago, 2018 marked the second annual drop in solar employment, by 8,000 jobs, to 242,000 jobs nationwide. In 2010, the first year of the census, the solar total was 93,000:
On the surface, this might indicate a troubling trend for the industry. But to Ed Gilliland, senior director of The Solar Foundation, this is something of quick a breather, rather than a sign of decline to come. Part of the slowdown stems from the tariffs that the Trump administration set on solar imports at the beginning of 2018. “In the time leading up to the hearing last January, there was a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace, and a lot of utility-scale solar developers who work on large projects with long lead-time were delaying their projects,” Gilliland says. “When we went in to do our census in October, there just wasn’t as much activity going on, particularly in utility-scale solar.”
The balance of expert opinion is that there is still a lot of resistance left in Iran’s oft-proclaimed “resistance economy.” While it is hurting badly and is more vulnerable today than during the last period of prolonged U.S. sanctions, from 2012 to 2015, Iran’s economy is not nearly as dysfunctional as that of Venezuela, another target of U.S. sanctions meant to weaken the longtime ruling regime. U.S. sanctions there threaten to absolutely cripple Venezuela’s ability to pump and export oil, essentially cutting off all government income.
“The [Iranian] economy is much more resilient than some hawks in the White House and Washington in general seem to assume, but things are bad and are going to get worse,” said Henry Rome, an Iran analyst at Eurasia Group. That doesn’t mean, however, that the regime is one good push away from collapse.
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Border deal votes today. TV loons still mad, but MAGA fans insist the wall’s underway. Elliott Abrams haz a sad. Trump pollutes prayer breakfast. Should Coons understand he’s not welcome? Election protection gutted. Trump pushes TVA to buy a donor’s coal.