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You can now be fined €2,000 in Spain for leaving cardboard in the street

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It’s not uncommon in Spain to see large cardboard boxes sitting on the street next to the bins, instead of inside them.

Whether it’s as a result of the contenedores de basura (bins) being full and the boxes not fitting through the slits, leaving cardboard by the side of the bin is something that most of us living in Spain have probably been guilty of at some point.

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The alarming news is that if you commit this misdemeanour in Spain, you can now actually be fined for it.

A law was passed by the Spanish government in April 2022, but it is only now coming to light following two cases of people being fined for doing exactly this.

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Article 108 of law 07/2022 states that “the abandonment, including littering, the dumping and uncontrolled management of any type of non-hazardous waste puts people’s health at serious risk or is causing serious damage or deterioration to the environment”, and it is therefore an offence.

Article 109 of the same law states that the fine for minor infractions can be up to €2,001, for serious infractions penalties range from €2,001 to €100,000 and for very serious offences penalties go from €100,000 to €3.5 million.

In late September 2022, a man in the Barajas neighbourhood of Madrid received a fine from the Madrid City Council, for “leaving a box outside the dumpster meant for the disposal of cardboard”. The city hall decided that he should pay €2,001.

This is the second fine that has occurred recently, with another woman being fined in Madrid’s Aravaca neighbourhood for leaving a large cardboard box outside the bins, which contained baby nappies she bought on the internet.

She was identified because her name and address were on a sticker on the outside of the box, but she has claimed that it wasn’t her who left the box by the side of the bin but rather one of the building’s concierges who was responsible for taking out the neighbours’ rubbish. 

There is no evidence that towns and cities in other regions in Spain are currently handing out such large fines to their citizens, but Spanish law states they are now at liberty to do so, and municipalities can also implement their own laws and fines relating to incorrect waste disposal. 

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Madrid City Council has defended its actions pointing out that it has recently drawn up its own new law for the Cleaning of Public Spaces, Waste Management and Circular Economy, and that those who are fined can reduce the amount by 40 percent if they pay in the first 15 days after receiving the fine.

The aim of this is to have a cleaner city by implementing measures that “enable the reduction of waste generation to guarantee the protection of the environment and people’s health, and to promote a greater collective awareness,” the council said in a statement.

The draft bill is set to be approved in December and includes new penalties for offences such as leaving large cardboard boxes outside their corresponding bin, with proposed fines of up to €750 for not properly recycling bottles or other glass objects.

Madrid also plans to hand out €3,000 to revellers who don’t throw away bottles and other waste from botellones (outdoor drinking gatherings).

Between now and December, when the bill will be approved, citizens can put forward their arguments stating whether they believe the sanctions are too high and if they are justified before it is voted upon by the council.  

Madrid city mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida said he was “surprised” by the high fines but explained that the final amounts will be enshrined in the new decree. He hasn’t indicated what will happen to those who have already been slapped with the higher €2,001 penalties.

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bogorad
2 hours ago
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Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
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Trump fired Peter Strzok. Now Biden is defending that decision | Washington Examiner

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TRUMP FIRED PETER STRZOK. NOW BIDEN IS DEFENDING THAT DECISION. There have been endless news reports about the Biden Justice Department's pursuit of former President Donald Trump. There is, of course, the Mar-a-Lago classified documents affair. There is the Jan. 6 investigation. And lately, there have been reports that the department is also investigating some unspecified aspect of Trump's post-presidential fundraising.

So the current president's Justice Department is clearly going after his predecessor. That raises some interesting issues and precedents. But there is at least one case — it hasn't received a lot of attention — in which the Biden DOJ is defending a Trump decision. And the department has just released documents in a lawsuit that shed new light on one of the department's worst moments of the Trump era.

The case is Strzok v. Garland et al. The "Garland" is Attorney General Merrick Garland. The "Strzok" is Peter Strzok, the disgraced former FBI agent who was fired for his blatant anti-Trump bias during the Trump-Russia investigation. In August 2019, Strzok filed suit against the Justice Department — the case was then known as Strzok v. Barr et al — alleging that he had been wrongfully terminated. "The decision to fire Special Agent Strzok in violation of his constitutional rights was the result of a long and public campaign by President Trump and his allies to vilify Strzok and pressure the [FBI] to terminate him," the lawsuit said.

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The Justice Department responded that Strzok had demonstrated unacceptably bad judgment in his Trump-hating text conversations with another FBI official, his extramarital girlfriend Lisa Page. This is part of the department's response, from November 2019, noting that Strzok was so determined to bring down Trump that he decided that doing so was worth giving up a possible promotion:

A Department of Justice Office of Inspector General investigation found that [Strzok] had exchanged over 40,000 texts with [Page] on their government-issued phones, among them texts written in 2016 in which [Strzok] called the president — at that time, still a candidate for president — a "disaster" and suggested that "we'll stop" him from taking office. And in a text he wrote in 2017 — after the president had taken office and during [Strzok's] tenure as lead investigator for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team — [Strzok] described his own "sense of unfinished business." As he wrote to [Page] in that text: "I unleashed it with [the Clinton email investigation]. Now I need to fix it and finish it. ... Who gives a f***, one more [assistant director] ... [versus] an investigation leading to impeachment?"

The lawsuit dragged on through the end of the Trump administration. Strzok v. Barr became Strzok v. Garland. With the change, the Biden Justice Department could have dropped its opposition to Strzok on the grounds that he was mistreated by the bad old Trump administration. Instead, the department is, so far, defending the decision to fire Strzok, just as it did when Trump was in office.

The news today is that in a new court filing, the Justice Department made public an extraordinary letter, actually a draft of an extraordinary letter, that a top FBI official wrote to Strzok confirming Strzok's firing. The FBI official who fired Strzok was Deputy Director David Bowdich. When Strzok appealed his dismissal, as was his right, Bowdich reviewed the evidence again. In an Aug. 8, 2018, letter, just released as part of the lawsuit, Bowdich told Strzok that he, Bowdich, had taken another look at the assessments of the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility and all the relevant evidence. Bowdich's decision was that the decision to fire was justified.

"It is difficult to fathom the repeated, sustained errors of judgment you made while serving as the lead agent in two of the most high profile investigations in the country," Bowdich wrote in the draft. "Your sustained pattern of bad judgment in the use of an FBI device has called into question for many the decisions made during both the Clinton email investigation and the initial stages of the Russian collusion investigation. In short, your repeated selfishness has called into question the credibility of the entire FBI."

There was more. "In my 23 years in the FBI, I have not seen a more impactful series of missteps which called into question the entire organization and more thoroughly damaged the reputation of the organization," Bowdich continued. "In our role as FBI employees we sometimes make unpopular decisions, but the public should be able to examine our work and not have to question our motives." Bowdich concluded that Strzok had inflicted an "extremely damaging impact to the [FBI], which will take years to overcome."

Bowdich has been deposed as part of the lawsuit. In court papers, the Justice Department included part of what Bowdich said in that deposition:

I looked at those texts over and over and over again, and I was seeing the damage that it was doing to our organization. We had new agent classes coming in on a regular basis, and when FBI agents come into Quantico, it is made crystal clear, crystal clear to them, check your political beliefs at the door. Check your biases at the door. Objectivity is 100% important as an investigative organization. That is something you are taught from the time you are an infant entering the organization. So, I am taking all — all the noise, all that stuff, I try to clear that out completely and really focus on, What is the message that we are sending internally across the board? Because this isn't a ... brand new agent. This is a deputy assistant director with ... 20 years of experience, extensive experience in counterintelligence, of all things.

Trump constantly complains about the way he was treated during the Russia investigation. He also complains about the 2020 election. He repeatedly attacks leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). There are many other grievances. Sometimes, it is tempting to dismiss all of Trump's complaints as sour grapes. But as far as the Russia investigation is concerned, it is important to remember that the FBI relentlessly pursued Trump starting even before he took office. Special counsel Robert Mueller, for whom Strzok worked before his texts were discovered, knew early on that investigators could not establish that any conspiracy or coordination between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign ever occurred. Yet Mueller allowed the investigation to go for another year and a half, meaning the president was under a constant shadow in the Russia matter even though investigators could never determine that a crime had even occurred. That, plus the leaks that happened nearly every day, did enormous damage to the new Trump presidency.

So it is good to remember what the FBI did. Strzok v. Garland is helping us do that.

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bogorad
17 hours ago
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The first real evidence mRNA shots RAISE the risk of Covid hospitalization and death over time

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On Sep. 20, using data covering 9 million people, Swedish researchers published a paper showing mRNA jabs may increase the risk of Omicron infection after three months.

That finding received attention. But an even more intriguing nugget in the paper has so far gone unnoticed.

Based on one statistical analysis vaccinated people had a HIGHER risk of death or hospitalization from Covid roughly a year after receiving their second dose. The charts — b and d below — show that vaccine protection against death and hospitalization begins to decline slowly after about five months and then plunges about nine months.

(The top chart shows the relative risk of infection, hospitalization, intensive care, and death by week after two vaccine doses. The red line marks zero effectiveness; when the blue line falls below it, it is suggesting vaccinated people are at higher risk of infection.)

(This is the same chart, but only including the risk of death)

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This data provides real-world evidence of possible vaccine-caused “antibody dependent enhancement.” In ADE, vaccines cause our immune systems to produce antibodies that help a virus or other pathogen to attack us.

Still, the finding should not be viewed as definitive. It is based on relatively few deaths in the later time periods, which is why the confidence intervals (the dashed lines around the blue line) widen hugely after 40 weeks.

When the researchers used a different statistical method known as standard polynomial regression to analyze the data, they found the vaccines remained moderately effective against hospitalizations and death. In fact, protection actually appeared to increase slightly around a year - a trend that is counterintuitive at best.

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Dr. Yiyi Xu, the paper’s lead author, did not endorse either method as superior but said via email the researchers need more data to know which finding might be correct.

Both types of analysis “provide more accurate estimates if there is a sufficient number of cases,” she wrote. “There are very few cases of death and a relatively low number of hospitalization cases around week 40 and later, so the estimation is quite uncertain for both analyses.”

So which statistical method is more likely to be accurate? Is the finding that the vaccines actually increase risk real?

Independent experts on statistics disagreed. One suggested the technique showing the negative efficacy - called a cubic spline — actually is likely to be more correct than the other:

With “standard” (aka single polynomial) regression – blue line – you can fit any data, if you give it enough freedom. The price for that, is that the better it fits the data you give it, the worse it will be at explaining new data, and especially so at the edges… Splines, due to the way they are built, avoid this problem and produce more sensical (hence more useful) predictive models.

But another wrote:

I personally happen to believe strongly that these vaccines will have negative efficacy… But as a statistician I feel you simply cannot make that claim with confidence off the back of a spline like this.

In any case, even the standard model shows a sharp decrease in the value of a two-dose regimen over time. It falls below 45 percent protection from death around nine months before making its odd turn up.

Yes, mRNA vaccines will save you from dying from Covid.

For months, I tell ya, months!



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bogorad
17 hours ago
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The Story Behind DeSantis’s Migrant Flights to Martha’s Vineyard - The New York Times

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bogorad
1 day ago
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Now NYT is doxxing state employees. But it's fine, it's the enemy.
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A Radical Step in the Right Direction

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This July, Arizona became the first state to embrace universal school choice by enacting legislation that allows all students to participate in the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA). Approximately 12,000 students currently enroll in the ESA program, which deposits 90 percent of the state’s share of per-pupil education funds—about $7,000 per child—into an account that parents can use for various educational costs. Qualified expenses include: private school tuition, micro-schooling, homeschooling, tutoring, and online classes. Previously, the ESA program limited student eligibility to, for example, kids with disabilities, children attending failing public schools, children of active-duty military parents, foster children, and siblings of current or former ESA participants. With the new law, an estimated 60,000 students currently enrolled in private schools and 38,000 homeschooled students are immediately eligible for ESA funding, and 1.1 million children attending district and charter schools have the option to get funding as well.

School-choice foes gathered signatures to introduce a November 2024 ballot initiative to invalidate the legislation. On September 24, one day before the law expanding the ESA was to take effect, the organization behind that effort, “Save Our Schools Arizona,” temporarily blocked the expansion by filing what they jubilantly claimed were 141,700 signatures supporting the ballot initiative—a number well over the 118,800 required. A few days later, Save Our Schools Arizona confessed error, acknowledging that it had fallen far short of this number. As a result, the program became effective on Friday, September 30. Demand for ESA funding is so high that the Arizona Department of Education has extended the application deadline by two weeks and reports that funding requests may take several months to complete because of the large number of applications.

School-choice proponents have accused Save Our Schools Arizona of dishonestly obstructing the ESA expansion by claiming to have sufficient signatures. Save Our Schools Arizona denies the allegations, claiming that it was impossible to tally the signatures at the last minute. “I think we will end up short, yes,” admitted Beth Lewis, the group’s executive director. “Our counts were necessarily estimates.” (This assertion is in tension with the numerical specificity provided when the group submitted the signatures.)

Though the ballot-initiative effort fell short, it demonstrates the intensity of the opposition to expanding the ESA program. Seething about the prospect of universal school choice in Arizona, opponents have characterized the new law as a radical effort to “kill public education” and the “nail in the coffin” of public schools. They argue that letting parents redirect education funds to non-public schooling options will worsen inequalities by draining much-needed resources away from underfunded district public schools.

These arguments are as incorrect as they are predictable. Expanding ESA eligibility does not drain resources from public schools but rather sensibly permits public funding to follow children to the school of their choice. Arizona’s already-expansive school choice options have the same effect. Moreover, empowering parents to determine how to spend the funds allocated for their children’s education makes it more likely that the money will be spent on kids’ unique educational needs, not on the administrative overhead that consumes far too many resources in public schools.

While Arizona is the first state to embrace universal school choice, the ESA expansion is consistent with a national trend toward expanding educational options for families. Last year, for example, several other states extended eligibility for private-school-choice programs to more, half, or most residents. And even before its new law, Arizona already provided the most expansive school-choice options in the United States. In addition to the ESA program, the state operates three programs that provide a one-to-one tax credit for donations to nonprofits that provide private school scholarships. Together, these three scholarship-tax-credit programs enable approximately 90,000 children to attend private schools in the state. In addition, more than 213,000 Arizona students—or nearly 20 percent of the state’s public school enrollment—attended one of the state’s 560 charter schools. (Nationwide, only 7 percent of public school students attend a charter school.) Arizona also has an open-enrollment policy for district public schools, which lets students apply to attend any school in the state—free of charge—based on available classroom space.

Is the ESA expansion “radical”? Yes, it is—a radical step in the right direction. The American education system is an irrational, jerry-rigged apparatus, the result of countless ad hoc institutional decisions (for example, the haphazard consolidation of school districts in the early twentieth century); of our shameful history of anti-Catholicism (which cemented the practice of funding only government-operated schools in the nineteenth century); and, more recently, of the rise of charter schools (an important addition to the previously monolithic public-education landscape, though they were partly motivated, at least at the outset, by a desire to ward off private school choice).

The expansion of Arizona’s ESA will rationalize the state’s public education system, not destroy it. Arizona will soon become the first state in the nation to align its system of education funding with international norms. As Ashley Berner has ably documented, most other countries, in both the developed and developing world, fund a variety of school types—public and private, religious and secular—pairing government funding with accountability requirements. Moreover, by making public education funds fully portable and eliminating arbitrary and complex ESA eligibility criteria, Arizona will take a much-needed step toward addressing educational inequities, both by decoupling schooling options from a child’s residential address and by subjecting district public schools to more competition—which, according to many studies, improves their academic performance. By entrusting parents with the decisions about their children’s education, the state will stimulate authentic educational pluralism and encourage the development of more schooling options to serve kids’ diverse educational needs.

We should all hope that other states follow Arizona’s radically sensible decision to embrace universal school choice.

Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post

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bogorad
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Bruce Willis refutes a report that he sold his digital likeness rights to Deepcake, which confirms and says the company created his "digital twin" for 2021 ads (Ryan Gajewski/The Hollywood Reporter)

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Ryan Gajewski / The Hollywood Reporter:
Bruce Willis refutes a report that he sold his digital likeness rights to Deepcake, which confirms and says the company created his “digital twin” for 2021 ads  —  Recent reports claimed that the star had become the first Hollywood figure to sell his rights to a company …

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bogorad
2 days ago
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