Category Archives: lees and orts

Lees and Orts

Drive the demons from the NSA data collection building known as “Titanpointe”! Mass exorcism ritual to purify data, reject false gods… and defend freedom of thought!

In the interests of metaphysically purging the edifice of the data it hoards and invoking a less maniacal version of citizen-government relations, on April 15th at 12 p.m. a cadre of priests, supplicants, and a volunteer choir affiliated with The Quiet American will exorcise the malevolent energy coursing through the so-called ‘Long Lines Building’ at 33 Thomas Street. This sacred day falls approximately one day before the rising of Christ, and three days before tax day.

Beginning with a prayer for the building’s physical materials and an invocation of the gods this architectural fiasco has insulted, exorcisors will then lay a perimeter of salt around the building to render ineffective the sinister frequencies it broadcasts. In a rite of liberation and fertility, thousands of pages of personal data, bouquets of flowers, and an ostrich egg will then be sacrificed to the building, thereby triggering a massive spiritual data hemorrhage that will release the banal facts of our lives back into their proper home – the ether — and expel the demons of fear and suspicion from the temple.

Windowless, monolithic, and creepy as all hell, the building at 33 Thomas Street is an altar to a false god, a monument to the bottomless fear that locks us in permanent war and makes us suspicious of our neighbors, our own towns and cities, our own capabilities and impulses. Windowless, shuttered to the world that it is intended to spy on, the building at 33 Thomas Street is a maelstrom of negative energy, a black hole that sucks up light in the form of our personal communications, then in some alchemical sleight of hand returns that light in the form of a panic and dread which we are assured is the real common currency of our civic life. Rather than allay fears of the end however, this brutalist heap – designed to withstand a nuclear assault and sustain the employees working within its bowels for two weeks – broadcasts paranoia.

No word yet as to whether the demons were removed… 1

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Jebus H. Fucking Kerist On a Pogo Stick… Could this look any more like a payoff?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s low-selling 2014 memoir netted him another $218,100 last year, pushing his total book payments to $783,000 over the past four years, according to his tax returns.

Cuomo’s 2016 tax records, which his office made available for review Tuesday, showed the latest round of payments from HarperCollins, the major publisher that gave him a lucrative book deal in 2013.

The governor’s memoir — “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics in Life — did not perform well: Just 3,200 copies sold since its release, including just 100 copies over the past two years, according to NPD Books, which tracks book sales nationwide.

It was a money-loser for HarperCollins, which ultimately paid Cuomo about $245 per book sold. It retailed at $29.99.

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By now you’ve heard Jason Chaffetz has decided not to run for reelection next year, much less attempt to claim Orin Hatch’s Senate seat. 2 You can find Chaffetz’s stated reasons for his decision here.

Immediately the second guessing began: Does Russia have компромат on Chaffetz? Snopes is unwilling to say one way or the other, but the more cynical among us assume someone does.

Another theory is Chaffetz realized at a recent “town hall” meeting that his days of running roughshod over America in the name of ReThuggery is fast coming to an end. Another school of thought is that he’s positioning himself for a run at the Utah governor’s office in 2020. 3

Regardless which, if any, of these speculations holds true, the sooner the corrupt jackass takes his leave, the better.

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Georgia don’t want no damned Dixie Democrat!

Five civil rights and civic engagement groups have filed suit against Georgia and its secretary of state for attempting to block registered voters from participating in a closely watched runoff election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

On Thursday, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a complaint in the federal district court in Atlanta, arguing that the state is violating the National Voter Registration Act. That law sets 30 days before a federal election as the earliest permissible deadline for voter registration.

Georgia complied with the provision for the special congressional election held this past Tuesday. But because no candidate won 50 percent of the vote, there will be a second election on June 20 ― a runoff between the top two finishers, Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel.

Georgia election officials contend that the June runoff is simply a continuation of the special election this week, so they don’t have to allow newly registered voters to participate. The registration deadline for Tuesday’s election was March 20, and officials say anybody who registers after that day is not eligible to vote in the June runoff.

Ezra Rosenberg, co-director of the voting rights project at the Lawyers’ Committee, argues that under the federal law, Georgia can’t set the registration deadline for the June 20 runoff any earlier than 30 days before that election ― that is, May 22.

“The case is actually a very, very simple case,” Rosenberg told reporters on a conference call Thursday. “Federal law specifically defines elections as including runoff elections.”

We’re surprised Kris Kobach isn’t down Georgia way, offering his tried and true services, if only to distract himself from yet another court loss.

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What we’re (re)reading…
The Stars My Destination

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Show 3 footnotes

  1. Reminds us of the mythical skyscraper in The City that was purposely designed to put a dangerous edge on anything left in its confines; razor blades, knives, sharp suits… No word on whether Emperor Norton started that one. Or even Bear himself. The City has always been full of characters.
  2. In fact rumors were swirling yesterday afternoon that Chaffetz could step down as early as today. As of this post…crickets.
  3. Perhaps even the presidency; his campaign people have parked the following two domains – jason2028.com and jasonchaffetz2028.com.

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When longtime friends and associates of (OMP) want to reach him, they don’t go directly to the White House. Instead, they call the woman who’s been the gatekeeper at Trump Tower for a quarter century: Rhona Graff.

Since (OMP) took office in January, Graff has become a conduit for those who want to quietly offer advice, make personnel suggestions or get on the president’s calendar when he’s at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The list includes investor Ken Langone and Hank Greenberg, the chairman & CEO of CV Starr whose assistant recently went to Graff about trying to set up a lunch with (OMP) , according to a person with knowledge of the call.

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Campaign promises, amirite?


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In what could be one of Hong Kong’s most significant data breaches ever, the personal information of the city’s 3.7 million voters was possibly compromised after the Registration and Electoral Office reported two laptop computers went missing at its backup venue for the chief executive election.

The devices also stored the names of the 1,200 electors on the Election Committee who selected Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor as Hong Kong’s new chief executive on Sunday.

The two computers were stolen from a room at the AsiaWorld-Expo on Lantau, which the office described as the election’s “fallback venue”.

While the committee members’ full names are publicly available information, the personal data of Hong Kong’s voters could include their ID card numbers, addresses and mobile phone numbers.

The office said the computers had been put in a locked room. It reported the case to police.

Suspects? Anyone guessing China? Anyone, anyone, Bueller…?

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With as many as 45 million British one-pound coins suspected fake, the Royal Mint is now making 1.5 billion new ones, which will enter circulation Tuesday. Security features include a 12-sided bimetallic design, a hologram, fine lettering and even some secret tricks to beat crooks, the modern equivalent of Sir Isaac Newton’s efforts to make the currency more secure in his tenure as Master of the Royal Mint some three centuries ago.

His successor, Mint chief executive Adam Lawrence, calls it “the most secure circulating coin in the world.”

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From the start of his presidency, (OMP ’s) “war on terror” has entailed the seemingly indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people in the name of killing terrorists. In other words, Trump has escalated the 16-year-old core premise of America’s foreign policy — that it has the right to bomb any country in the world where people it regards as terrorists are found — and in doing so, has fulfilled the warped campaign pledges he repeatedly expressed.

The most recent atrocity was the killing of as many as 200 Iraqi civilians from U.S. airstrikes this week in Mosul. That was preceded a few days earlier by the killing of dozens of Syrian civilians in Raqqa province when the U.S. targeted a school where people had taken refuge, which itself was preceded a week earlier by the U.S. destruction of a mosque near Aleppo that also killed dozens. And one of Trump’s first military actions was what can only be described as a massacre carried out by Navy SEALs, in which 30 Yemenis were killed; among the children killed was an 8-year-old American girl (whose 16-year-old American brother was killed by a drone under Obama).

In sum: Although precise numbers are difficult to obtain, there seems little question that the number of civilians being killed by the U.S. in Iraq and Syria — already quite high under Obama — has increased precipitously during the first two months of the (OMP) administration. Data compiled by the site Airwars tells the story: The number of civilians killed in Syria and Iraq began increasing in October under Obama but has now skyrocketed in March under OMP.

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VICE: Why did you decide to go to the inauguration on acid?
Zachary: I feel like if there is any inauguration to go to in this age, of course it is President Trump’s inauguration. And if I’m going to do anything, I might as well do it on acid to throw a curveball into the mix…

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Forbes, that staunch defender of capitalism, is sorta worried about…um…capitalism:

  • Capitalism has generated massive wealth for some, but it’s devastated the planet and has failed to improve human well-being at scale.
  • Species are going extinct at a rate 1,000 times faster than that of the natural rate over the previous 65 million years (see Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School).
  • Since 2000, 6 million hectares of primary forest have been lost each year. That’s 14,826,322 acres, or just less than the entire state of West Virginia (see the 2010 assessment by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN).
  • Even in the U.S., 15% of the population lives below the poverty line. For children under the age of 18, that number increases to 20% (see U.S. Census).
  • The world’s population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050 (see United Nations’ projections).

How do we expect to feed that many people while we exhaust the resources that remain?

Human activities are behind the extinction crisis. Commercial agriculture, timber extraction, and infrastructure development are causing habitat loss and our reliance on fossil fuels is a major contributor to climate change.

Don’t let the ReThugs hear this, else it’s the reeducation camps for Forbes!
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A divided federal appeals court is ruling for the First Amendment, saying the public has a right to film the police. But the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, in upholding the bulk of a lower court’s decision against an activist who was conducting what he called a “First Amendment audit” outside a Texas police station, noted that this right is not absolute and is not applicable everywhere.

The facts of the dispute are simple. Phillip Turner was 25 in September 2015 when he decided to go outside the Fort Worth police department to test officers’ knowledge of the right to film the police. While filming, he was arrested for failing to identify himself to the police. Officers handcuffed and briefly held Turner before releasing him without charges. Turner sued, alleging violations of his Fourth Amendment right against unlawful arrest and detention and his First Amendment right of speech.

The 2-1 decision Thursday by Judge Jacques Wiener is among a slew of rulings on the topic, and it provides fresh legal backing for the so-called YouTube society where people are constantly using their mobile phones to film themselves and the police. The American Civil Liberties Union says, “there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs or video in public places and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply.”

A dissenting appellate judge on the case—Edith Brown Clement—wrote Turner was not unlawfully arrested and that the majority opinion from the Texas-based appeals court jumped the gun to declare a First Amendment right here because one “is not clearly established.”

Previously, a federal judge had dismissed Turner’s allegations, saying the officers involved held so-called “qualified immunity” because the right to film the police was not “clearly established” at the time of the incident. And on appeal, the appellate court upheld this lower court’s position. However, the majority then went on to declare a prospective First Amendment right to film the police within the circuit’s jurisdiction, which includes Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas…

The Supreme Court still has not ruled on the issue.

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How would repealing the Affordable Care Act affect health care and jobs in your state?

Across the country, 29.8 million people would lose their health insurance if the Affordable Care Act were repealed—more than doubling the number of people without health insurance. And 1.2 million jobs would be lost—not just in health care but across the board.

Link to maps showing jobs and health care losses.

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the world of yesterday

Perhaps tellingly, World Cat can only find copies of the book in the Shanghai Library and the Hong Kong university system…

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Food for thought in an era where OMB is expected to ease all sorts of pollution regulations…

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Let’s start with some minor news: The White House comment line (202-456-1111) has been shuttered.

Oh, you can still call, but you get a recording stating the “comments line is currently closed.” 1 Why? Simple – Our Manchurian President doesn’t want to hear from you.

The recording relates the following:

Thank you for calling the White House comment line. The comment line is currently closed, but your comment is important to the president, and we urge you to send us a comment online at www.whitehouse.gov/contact or send a message through Facebook Messenger. For government information by topic, visit www.usa.gov or call 1-800-FED-INFO. Thank you for calling, we look forward to hearing from you soon. Goodbye.

If you don’t want an automated email response from the White House, or a sad moji posted to your FB IM, try calling Our Manchurian President direct here.

Brought to you by the ingenious Sanders technical team.

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You know how middle-of-the-roaders are always shaking their heads in disappointment whenever you mention that anti-abortionists have a larger plan in mind? Well, tell them to suck it – you were right.

Following a considerable amount of cross-talk over services that Planned Parenthood provides with Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life, host Reid pulled her panel up and said she wanted to talk about something everyone could agree on: that contraception should be legal.

Not everyone was in agreement.

“I believe certain forms can be legal, yes,” Hawkins agreed, adding, “I don’t believe abortion causing contraception should be legal.”

“What kind of contraception are you talking about?” Reid asked, with Hawkins replying, “Hormonal contraception.”

“You think IUDs should be illegal?” Reid pressed.

“I don’t think they should be legal, “Hawkins replied. “They put women at risk and they kill children.”

“What about the birth control pill?” the unrelenting Reid asked.

“I do not think it should be legal, I think that shouldn’t be legal,” Hawkins replied before trying to change the subject.

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The notion that it’s easier to pass moderate policies than extreme ones takes its plausibility from the notion of the average or centrist voter. You can read about this voter in polling on policy issues. If your policy is fairly close to the views of the centrist voter, he’s likely to vote for you and you’re likely to win elections; the farther you get from this average view, the more difficulty you’ll have. An extreme candidate will turn off centrist voters for the simple reason that they disagree with him. (It is through this logic that Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum mistakenly concluded that Bernie Sanders would have lost against Donald Trump.)

The trouble with this theory is that in modern US politics it is by definition impossible for a major party to embrace policies which are ‘extreme’ in the sense of ‘far from the consensus views of the average voter.’ The average voter’s policy views, to the extent that these exist at all outside this context other than as artifacts of polling, are largely determined not by any particular factual information about the issues or ideological commitments concerning the role of government but by the policy positions of the major parties. If one of these parties embraces a particular position on any given issue, the 40% of American voters who consistently support that party will come to adopt that position wholesale, while most of the rest will come to believe (and be encouraged by the media’s carefully even-handed reporting to believe) that this position is at least reasonable and defensible if not correct. There are very few views so extreme and so indefensible that they can’t garner mass support if repeated frequently enough by a major US party – just think of ‘global warming is a hoax.’

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Candidate Trump promised to take on Wall Street. As deregulator-in-chief, he will be Wall Street’s best friend. History teaches us that financial regulations die from a thousand cuts rather than a signifying event. As Cornell University law professor Saule Omarova puts it, ‘Financial reform is like a big onion. The more layers you peel off, the harder you cry.’ For example, by the time the Gramm-Leach-Bliley law removed the Glass-Steagall firewall between commercial and investment banks in 1999, that separation was already effectively wiped out – by administrative waivers granted by regulators. The 1994 Riegle-Neal Act that formally allowed banks to open branches across state lines came after a decade of states altering rules to undermine local control of finance. Deregulation of mortgage rules that led to the housing bubble rolled out over a 20-year period, spanning Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. And even then, it took the George W. Bush administration’s laissez-faire supervision to really supercharge predatory lending. So while Donald Trump, populist rhetoric notwithstanding, promised on the campaign trail and on his transition website to ‘dismantle’ Dodd-Frank financial reform, he probably won’t do it in one shot. He won’t even have to do it through Congress. Here’s the likely blueprint.”

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Can’t remember the last time a general strike shut down the United States? That’s because it has never happened.

“General strikes don’t happen in the United States,” Kevin Boyle, a historian at Northwestern University who specializes in modern American social movements, told DW.

What do happen are general strikes on a local level, but even those are exceedingly rare, explained Andrew Wender Cohen, a history professor at Syracuse University.

“The last major general strike was in Oakland, California in 1946,” he said. Back then tens of thousands of workers walked off their jobs in a fight over unionization in the city.

Extraordinary idea

While regionally based general strikes like the one in Oakland – involving more than 10,000 workers and shutting down a local economy – happened earlier in the United States in places like San Francisco or Philadelphia, even those regional general strikes always were unusual.

“It is very, very uncommon in US history,” Cohen told DW, adding that for some time now there have been only 20 to 30 larger strikes per year in the entire country.

Against that backdrop, calls for a general strike by the organizer’s of the Women’s March as well as by other groups are not just noteworthy, but daring. 2

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Attention needs be paid:

On March 21, The Islamic Republic of Iran will cease using the U.S. dollar in all of its financial reporting. The decision to stop using the dollar as a reference has been in the works for some time but was expedited after the Trump administration decided to include Iran as one of the seven countries banned from entering the United States.

…In fact, the United States is already preparing for potential conflict with Iran, the US has introduced H.J.Res.10 – Authorization of Use of Force Against Iran Resolution. This resolution was quietly introduced last month with absolutely no media attention in spite of the fact that it ‘authorizes the President to use the U.S. Armed forces as necessary in order to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.’

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et’s start with

Show 2 footnotes

  1. You know, wherein currently equals permanently.
  2. If this sounds familiar it’s because a general national strike was supposed to happen January 20th was mostly a non-event. We”’ see how this second proposal fares.

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We’ve just finished Part 7 of the Intercept’s David Dayen’s The Penny Stock Chronicles. Read for yourself how “they’ have given up even pretending the game is rigged…

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Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has been suspended from the bench for telling probate judges to defy federal orders regarding gay marriage.

It’s the second time Moore has been removed from the chief justice job for defiance of federal courts – the first time in 2003 for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary (COJ) issued the order Friday suspending Moore from the bench for the remainder of his term after an unanimous vote of the nine-member court.

“For these violations, Chief Justice Moore is hereby suspended from office without pay for the remainder of his term. This suspension is effective immediately,” the order stated.

The court found him guilty of all six charges of violation of the canons of judicial ethics. Moore’s term is to end in 2019, but because of his age, 69, he cannot run for the office again.

Moore is filing an appeal to…wait for it…the Alabama Supreme Court.

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File this one under “Doh!”

Police officers across the country misuse confidential law enforcement databases to get information on romantic partners, business associates, neighbors, journalists and others for reasons that have nothing to do with daily police work, an Associated Press investigation has found.

Criminal-history and driver databases give officers critical information about people they encounter on the job. But the AP’s review shows how those systems also can be exploited by officers who, motivated by romantic quarrels, personal conflicts or voyeuristic curiosity, sidestep policies and sometimes the law by snooping. In the most egregious cases, officers have used information to stalk or harass, or have tampered with or sold records they obtained.

No single agency tracks how often the abuse happens nationwide, and record-keeping inconsistencies make it impossible to know how many violations occur. But the AP, through records requests to state agencies and big-city police departments, found law enforcement officers and employees who misused databases were fired, suspended or resigned more than 325 times between 2013 and 2015…

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A report by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation reveals that the largest mercenary army in the world, Blackwater (renamed Xe Services, then “Academi“) clandestine intelligence services, was sold to the multinational Monsanto.

Because, you know, agriculture NEEDS hardened mercs to deal with GMO activists.

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It turns out the CIA and Blackwater were using a variety of “enhanced interrogation” technics we were unaware of, to include electric chairs. At least, the CIA threatened to use them. I’m sure they were just for shock value…

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Remind me again as to why there weren’t more prosecutions of the banks and financial houses in the wake of The Big Recession?

Big Data — those sprawling algorithms that can track and predict patterns in human behavior — often conjures up fears of a big-brother police state. But those same data-sets could be harnessed to uncover and expose Wall Street excesses.

That’s the implication of two new new academic studies about the financial crisis. One study suggests politically connected executives traded on non-public information about the government’s subsequent bailout after the crisis hit. The other suggests that despite their claims to the contrary, many bank executives understood the risks they were taking in the lead-up to the crash, and sold their personal holdings in their firms before the crisis hit.

The findings emerged as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, is demanding a formal investigation of why the Obama administration did not more forcefully prosecute financial firms after the crisis.

The first paper used publicly available information to chart the possibility that individuals with close ties to regulators and politicians engaged in insider trades in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 financial crisis.

“Politically connected insiders had an information advantage during the crisis and traded to exploit this advantage,” concluded the study by researchers at the University of Colorado, Stanford University, the University of Navarra and the University of Pennsylvania. The study zeroed in on those who made trades after the announcement of the government’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which bought up so-called “toxic” assets — mortgages and securities that had plummeted in value.

Crunching data from 7,300 corporate officers at 497 financial firms eligible to get cash from TARP,  the researchers found political connections paid off — big time.

“We looked at bank boards who had a director or officer who had work experience, current or past, at a bank regulatory agency, the Senate or the House, and we found that the boards of those banks that had those political connections traded more heavily during the financial crisis,”  explained Daniel J. Taylor an accounting professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, in an interview with the school’s business journal.

In other words: while the government was supposedly deciding in private who would get TARP funding, politically-connected individuals traded as if they already knew the outcomes of those decisions — before the decisions were made public. That information translated into cash: The politically connected saw between 4-5 percent return in just three days. Those with political connections also traded more than three times the average volume in the 30 days leading up to the announcement of who would get how much in bailout funds.

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Moyers & Winship have an item up over at Truth Out that perfectly sums up why I won’t be viewing the presidential debates, even though I’ve watched them since the inaugural ’60 Kennedy-Nixon debate. 1 Indeed, I may never watch them again unless & until an outside organization reclaims then for the American public; if I wanted to watch gilded stump speeches disguised as intellectual honesty, I’d spend my time hanging out down at city hall, waiting for Mayor James to come out of his office and offer up some bullshit.

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Also at Truth Out:

We’ll have to do something drastically different to employ people in the future. Our jobs are disappearing. The driverless vehicle is here, destined to eliminate millions of transport and taxi-driving positions. Car manufacturing is being done by 3-D printing. An entire building was erected in Dubai with a 3-D printer. Restaurants are being designed with no waitstaff or busboys, hotels with no desk clerks, bellhops, and porters. Robot teachers are interacting with students in Japan and the UK….

Most of our new jobs are in service industries, including retail and personal health care and food service. The only one of the eight fastest-growing occupations that pays over $33,000 per year is nursing — and even nursing may give way to Robotic Nurse Assistants. The evidence for downsized jobs keeps accumulating. A US Mayors study found that ‘recovery’ jobs pay 23 percent less than the positions they replaced. The National Employment Law Project estimates that low-wage jobs accounted for 22 percent of job losses but 44 percent of subsequent job gains. Business Insider, Huffington Post , and the Wall Street Journal all concur: the unemployment rate is remaining low because of low-paying jobs.

We’re fooling ourselves by believing in a future with satisfying middle-class jobs for millions of Americans. It’s becoming clear that income should be guaranteed, so that recipients have the wherewithal and incentive and confidence to find productive ways to serve society.

Credible research overwhelmingly supports the concept. A World Bank analysis of 19 studies found that cash transfers have been demonstrated to improve education and health outcomes and alleviate poverty…concerns about the use of cash transfers for alcohol and tobacco consumption are unfounded. An MIT/Harvard analysis of seven cash transfer trials found “no systematic evidence that cash transfer programs discourage work.” The Brooks World Poverty Institute found that money transfers to the poor are used primarily for basic needs. Basic Incomes have been shown to lead to reductions in crime and inequality and malnutrition and infant mortality.

One of the earliest experiments with guaranteed incomes was the “Mincome” (minimum income) program conducted in the town of Dauphin, Manitoba during the 1970s. The results were never made clear, partly because of a change to a more conservative government, which put the program’s records in storage, unevaluated. One study, however, found improved health outcomes for the recipients of the basic income payments.

In the U.S. , the Alaska Permanent Fund has thrived for 35 years, even with anti-socialist conservatives in power. Texas has long employed a “Permanent School Fund” to distribute funds from mineral rights to the public education system. Wyoming has used a similar “Mineral Trust Fund” to help eliminate state income taxes. Nebraska distributes low-cost electricity from a publicly owned utility. Oregon has used the proceeds from wind energy to return hundreds of dollars to households. Vermont has proposed “Common Assets Trust” to raise money from taxes on pollution and pay dividends to residents. A pilot basic income experiment is set to begin in Oakland.

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So it turns out Bernie Sanders was right.

The long and short of it? The poor are poorer and deeper in debt, what’s left of the middle class has gained no traction, and —surprise, surprise, SURPRISE— the rich are getting richer: “The distribution [of wealth] among the nation’s families was more unequal in 2013 than it had been in 1989.”

The CBO notes that the average wealth of the richest families was $4 million, as opposed to $36,000 for those in the 26th to 50th percentiles – half of all American families.

Care to guess which group opposes basic income?

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You knew it had to be something like this, right?

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Twins born in Toyama aquarium’s female-only shark tank stump officials…

We expect the Phelps clan, the Family Research Council and Y’all Qaeda to immediately declare the event as yet another sign of The (eternally) Coming Apocalypse.

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The Guardian’s documentary on guns – well worth the watch.

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Oh fuck sweet baby Jebus on roller skates! OF COURSE we need to increase the defense budget!

defense-1

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Show 1 footnote

  1. “I know how to win,” Trump will undoubted respond to one of Clinton’s finely honed skewers. He will say it sneeringly, forgetting that he didn’t win in New Jersey when his casino {a casino (allegedly) backed by the Mob} failed. Miserably. “What are the odds?”, says the man not able to run a casino profitably.

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I took a daily break at Café Parvis while Nora and the Astas went about consuming…stuff.

The consensus among both wait staff and customers was that Hair Furer is not tanking this election on purpose, rather his candidacy is an elaborate prank 1; the USA is trolling the rest of the world. Montrealians believe we will fess up soon, call the whole thing off, laugh, shake hands and apologize for carrying the joke too far.

Then we’ll go ahead and elevate the usual economically retarded, xenophobic, hidebound Christian zealot (Mike Pence) as the GOP presidential candidate.

Failing that, they intend –quite rightly, IMHO– to build a wall.

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And speaking of Canadian maple syrup

The 20,000 litre-batch of maple syrup was supposed to be shipped to Japan last Thursday, but Mexuscan Transport had been forced to store the shipment at the holding facility due to a delay.

Police recovered the trailer in the west Montreal borough of Saint Laurent, but the maple syrup was gone.

Although the theft could prove costly for Mexuscan, it’s not the sweetest heist ever pulled off in Quebec. That distinction belongs to the massive maple syrup heist of 2011-2012, in which 2.7 million litres of the stuff were stolen from a warehouse in Quebec. The syrup was estimated to be worth $18 million. More than a dozen individuals were later arrested in the case.

There’s a $10K reward offered if “you” return the syrup. 2

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The Dallas Police Department is trying to suppress all evidence it has relating to its use of a bomb robot to kill the man suspected of killing four police officers at a Black Lives Matter protest last month. It has asked the Texas attorney general to allow it to withhold information that is “embarrassing” and has said that much of the evidence is “of no legitimate concern to the public.”

And we’re supposed to let the Dallas police decide what is “of no legitimate concern to the public”? Third world shithole, here we come… 3 4

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In other Baphomet news

The mundanity of a local council meeting in Alaska was astonishingly broken when a decision to open up the forum to all religions resulted in a Satanist presenting the opening prayer – to Lucifer.

When the local government of Kenai Borough decided to welcome other faiths to their assemblies they probably didn’t envisage opening up their doors to the Lord of Darkness.

On Tuesday, Iris Fontana – reportedly a member of the Satanic Temple organization that views Satan as a symbol for rebellion and rational inquiry – gave the assembly invocation usually reserved for pastors.

Meeting attendees were reminded that they did not have to participate in the opening ritual.

Assembly members stood silently in a circle while Fontana asked them to “embrace the Luciferian impulse to eat of the tree of knowledge.” She then ended the surreal prayer with the words “Hail Satan.”

These temples are springing up everywhere: Kansas City soon?
Of course there’s video!

Lees and Orts

And in today’s Homer Simpson’s “Doh!” category, lots of newspapers discover that paywalls don’t work.

Of the paywalls erected in the past few years, many have delivered lackluster results, said Ken Doctor, a media consultant who writes the blog Newsonomics.

“The ones that were launched in 2012 to 2014 had good early results and they all largely stalled,” he said.

“They are no longer gaining much in the way of new digital subscriptions, and their print is in rapid decline.”

…Paywalls can backfire also “because they put a barrier between the newspaper and the casual reader,” he added.

“They are truncating the size of the digital market, when the most important factor for digital is scale.” 5

This might explain the Star’s on again, off again paywall. Or it might just be poor tech. Either way…

Lees and Orts

Last minute sale on necessary school items…

Trojan Horse

Show 5 footnotes

  1. Obama and Clinton created ISIS: What fresh fuckery is this?”
  2. This was BIG news last Friday; couldn’t get anyone in Café Parvis to talk about anything else.
  3. Seriously, how embarrassing could the videos be? Do they record the DPD saying shit like “We’re not letting this jackoff leave here alive”? Granted, that’s embarrassing, AND actionable. Though I’m sure some of the officers involved may have muttered same, and ALL of the officers involved were thinking same, chances are the whole operation was your standard seat-of-your-pants clusterfuck: totally disorganized and replete with operational failures up and down the chain of command.
  4. Or maybe the DPD is just ashamed of the fact their department is so behind the times, or financially inept, that they could not deploy the latest technology: miniature assignation drones.
  5. Evidence of this is the fact the WSJ is adjusting its paywall to make it easier for non-paying users to access their site.

Lees and Orts

That whole internet of thangs idea just keeps sounding better and better, n’est-ce pas? Internet-connected medical devices (MRI machines, CT scanners and dialysis pumps for pity’s sake) are increasingly being targeted by hackers looting patient medical records. Attackers consider the devices soft digital targets, seldom guarded with same security as client PCs and servers within hospitals. And that’s because the idiots making this shit are using EoL versions of Windows that a.) aren’t supported, b.) updated or, c.) otherwise secure. I mean, these guys/gals are using Conficker, which was sparkling new back in say…2009.

Meanwhile, over at the internet of cars meme, some folks are fairly insistent about what they think on-board WiFi is going to need: Public Knowledge and The New America Open Technology Institute filed a petition last month with the FCC that demands, among other things:

  • Limit DSRC to life and safety uses only. The auto industry plans to take spectrum allocated for safety of life and monetize it with advertising and mobile payments. This compromises cybersecurity and potentially violates the privacy of every driver and passenger.
  • Require automakers to file a cybersecurity plan before activating DSRC systems. This plan should not only show that auto manufacturers have taken appropriate precautions today, but explain how they will update security over the life of the vehicle.
  • Data transparency and breach notification. Auto manufacturers must inform purchasers of DSRC-equipped cars what personal information they collect and how they will use that information. In the event of a data breach, the manufacturer collecting the information must notify the customer.

I’ve no idea what idiot thought adding WiFi to your car in order to browse the internet while you’re already texting was a good idea, but he should be summarily shot.

This is a good read on the hackers the NSA employs, done by Peter Maas of I Hunt Sysadmins infamy.

Back in the middle of June Apple announced some new security and privacy features, including a little gem called “Differential Privacy” in order to improve the privacy of their data collection practices.

I don’t know about you but I knew little about the workings of differential privacy and so went digging for source material, which I found here.

It’s a bit of a read but the long and short of it is Apple plans on collecting even more data from your iPhone. The rationale for this is to improve service, NOT collect individual users’ usage habits. And to assure this happens Apple will apply the differential privacy formula to ensure that the aggregate data doesn’t leak individual contributions.

We’ll see…

Lees and Orts

This report summarizes the results of our review of the GEMS election management system, which counts approximately 25 percent of all votes in the United States. The results of this study demonstrate that a fractional vote feature is embedded in each GEMS application which can be used to invisibly, yet radically, alter election outcomes by pre-setting desired vote percentages to redistribute votes. This tampering is not visible to election observers, even if they are standing in the room and watching the computer. Use of the decimalized vote feature is unlikely to be detected by auditing or canvass procedures, and can be applied across large jurisdictions in less than 60 seconds.

Lees and Orts

One of the reasons America’s “wars” last so long is the absence of bodies.

The military does not make available photographs of bullet-ridden, blown-to-shit or otherwise combat mangled soldiers to journalists. In a treasonous conspiracy, the vast majority of daily newspapers tacitly allow the US Government to get away with this, failing to publish any photos of dead military personnel.

The reason for this should be patently obvious: it decreases civilian morale. Which is another way of saying normal human beings are disgusted, repulsed and downright scared of the actual cost of sending their children to corporate America’s everlasting wars; out of sight, out of mind.

Daily images of exploded humans, point-blank executions, endless child endangerment, perpetual rape, burning monks and other atrocities went a long way to changing US public opinion about Viet Nam and shortened the conflict significantly.

Likewise were the coroner’s photos of the bodies of the Sandy Hook massacre, as well as any of the other mass murders in recent memory, released to the public, we believe the public would force Congress to quit sucking the fuckin’ NRA’s dick and actually establish sensible gun regulations.

To that end WNBTv hereby call on Anonymous to find and publicly post as many photos of the fatalities of America’s mass murders as possible, with the aim of mobilizing public opinion against the fuckin’ NRA and their lackeys in Congress such that, at a bare minimum, Congress outlaws all automatic and semi-automatic weapons in this country, to include the massive ammunition clips that go with them.

We can not think of any more pro-American activity for Anonymous to engage at this point in time.

Lees and Orts
Speaking of hackers and the fuckin’ NRA…

Lees and Orts

You may have heard that last night Bernie conceded the Democratic primary without either a.) conceding, or b.) endorsing Hillary?

You would be correct; you can find his complete speech here.

Lees and Orts

The Onion nails the ReThug’s attitudes toward guns and gun massacres.

Lees and Orts

Omar Mateen was in the employ of security firm G4S.

G4S claims expertise in vetting and screening employees: “A robust employee screening programme helps organisations minimise the risk of making inappropriate recruitment decisions,” G4S tells potential customers. “We have a wealth of experience in developing and implementing background checks and security clearance for companies in the private and public sector.”

But time and again racist, misogynist and otherwise dangerous people have slipped through the company’s own screening process and been given power over vulnerable people. Repeatedly the company’s readiness to act in response to warnings has been found wanting.

Shades of Blackwater…er, we mean Academi.

Lees and Orts
Taibbi on how the Dems will take all the wrong lessons from Bernie’s run:

…This was no ordinary primary race, not a contest between warring factions within the party establishment, á la Obama-Clinton in ’08 or even Gore-Bradley in ’00. This was a barely quelled revolt that ought to have sent shock waves up and down the party, especially since the Vote of No Confidence overwhelmingly came from the next generation of voters. Yet editorialists mostly drew the opposite conclusion….

Politicians are so used to viewing the electorate as a giant thing to be manipulated that no matter what happens at the ballot, they usually can only focus on the Washington-based characters they perceive to be pulling the strings. Through this lens, the uprising among Democratic voters this year wasn’t an organic expression of mass disgust, but wholly the fault of Bernie Sanders, who within the Beltway is viewed as an oddball amateur and radical who jumped the line. Nobody saw his campaign as an honest effort to restore power to voters, because nobody in the capital even knows what that is. In the rules of palace intrigue, Sanders only made sense as a kind of self-centered huckster who made a failed play for power. And the narrative will be that with him out of the picture, the crisis is over. No person, no problem.”

Lees and Orts

Part of the reason I’ve never been a Hillary supporter is she’s just more of the same: a backer of American hegemony that’s been proven to not only be despised by the rest of the world, but a policy that actively creates the “terrorists” that plague our country.

It’s not that she just “doesn’t get it”, it’s that she’s an integral part of the corporate hegemony driving US policies.

Lees and Orts

Lees and Orts

George Will is the penultimate supercilious dyed-in-the-wool conservative, the East Coast’s GOP leading intellectual light.

Or he was up until the last few years, when for some idiotic reason the ReThugs started lapping up the stupid stew ladled out by Bill Kristol, a gentleman so infamous for his risibly 1 erroneous political analyses that the Guinness World Records people permanently closed that particular category. In fact, one could say Kristol is naught but a political whore.

And George Will certainly knows his political whores…

The Caligulan malice with which Donald Trump administered Paul Ryan’s degradation is an object lesson in the price of abject capitulation to power. This episode should be studied as a clinical case of a particular Washington myopia — the ability of career politicians to convince themselves that they and their agendas are of supreme importance.

The pornographic politics of Trump’s presidential campaign, which was preceded by decades of ignorant bile (about Barack Obama’s birth certificate and much else), have not exhausted Trump’s eagerness to plumb new depths of destructiveness. Herewith the remarkably brief timeline of the breaking of Ryan to Trump’s saddle…

On May 12, a Trump meeting with Ryan resulted in a cringeworthy (sp) joint statement that had to be read to be properly disbelieved. The two spoke about the “great conversation” they had about “our shared principles.” They celebrated their “many important areas of common ground” while offhandedly mentioning “our few differences.” Those who know, or thought they knew, Ryan doubted that he could name a single shared principle, and he did not do so…

By June 2, Ryan had heard enough. He endorsed Trump. He did so because President Trump would sign Ryan’s House “agenda.” Well…

In March, Trump said of Ryan: “I’m sure I’m going to get along great with him. And if I don’t, he’s going to have to pay a big price.” Ryan has now paid a staggering price by getting along with Trump. And what did Ryan purchase with the coin of his reputation? Perhaps his agenda.

Lees and Orts

Yesterday’s leaked OIG report on Clinton’s emails justifies the FBI’s push for Hillary Clinton indictment; good top cover, as they say. However I’ve yet to read or hear an official statement that Clinton did anything indictable.

Doesn’t mean some people appear certain said indictment is coming…the second after she’s officially nominated.

Lees and Orts

Seizing on the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) reluctant concession allowing him to appoint five members to the committee that writes the party platform, Bernie Sanders on Monday announced a suite of picks that included activists across the progressive sphere.

Sanders’ appointees to the 15-member Platform Drafting Committee include: racial justice activist and scholar Dr. Cornel West, 350.org co-founder and noted environmentalist Bill McKibben, Native American activist Deborah Parker, Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and James Zogby, a pro-Palestinian scholar as well as founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI).

The announcement came roughly two weeks after Sanders sent a letter to DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) accusing her of stacking the party’s three standing committees, including the drafting committee, with “Clinton loyalists.”

Way too early to tell if this will push the Democratic party back from the corporate edge it’s been occupying of late, but it is better than nothing at all. Which is what we would have had had Bernie elected not to saty in the race to the bitter end.

Lees and Orts

Waaaaay past time for this one.

President Obama’s 2017 budget proposal has removed a $10 million annual grant that goes towards funding “abstinence-only” sexual education classes in public schools. By eliminating the grant, Obama would end the financial incentive for states to continue teaching the debunked sex-ed program.

“Abstinence Only” is a sex education course that refuses to teach about condoms or other forms of birth control in favor of encouraging teens to abstain. The outdated and ineffective curriculum is favored by many Christian sects, and is supported by many Republican lawmakers.

The program often skips information about anatomy, puberty, sexual health and orientation. In addition, it’s been theorized that the courses can create a hostile environment for same-sex couples, couples that have premarital sex, or other people who don’t fit in with the image of sexuality described in the class.

Seriously, I can’t fucking believe this bullshit was EVER federally funded. It pisses me off  Dems continued to fund bullshit even after they took the White House and the largest majorities in a generation in Congress. This is why the ReThugs are able to get away with so much.

Lees and Orts

Of course the ReThugs are ever busy trying to screw over the public at their corporate master’s behest:

House Republicans yesterday released a plan to slash the Federal Communications Commission’s budget by $69 million and prevent the FCC from enforcing net neutrality rules, “rate regulation,” and its plan to boost competition in the set-top box market. The proposal is the latest of many attempts to gut the FCC’s authority, though it’s unusual in that it takes aim at two of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s signature projects while also cutting the agency’s budget. The plan is part of the government’s annual appropriations bill.

Just like the ReThugs – tacking on utter crap to enrich the rich on a must pass bill.

Lees and Orts
And let’s leave you with one terrifying read:

The US military’s nuclear arsenal is controlled by computers built in the 1970s that still use 8in floppy disks.

A report into the state of the US government, released by congressional investigators, has revealed that the country is spending around $60bn (£40.8bn) to maintain museum-ready computers, which many do not even know how to operate any more, as their creators retire.

The Defense Department’s Strategic Automated Command and Control System (DDSACCS), which is used to send and receive emergency action messages to US nuclear forces, runs on a 1970s IBM computing platform. It still uses 8in floppy disks to store data.

We’re not even talking the more modern 3.5in floppy disk that millennials might only know as the save icon. We’re talking the OG 8in floppy, which was a large floppy square with a magnetic disk inside it. They became commercially available in 1971, but were replaced by the 5¼in floppy in 1976, and by the more familiar hard plastic 3.5in floppy in 1982.

Shockingly, the US Government Accountability Office said: “Replacement parts for the system are difficult to find because they are now obsolete.”

Lees and Orts

Show 1 footnote

  1. Risible being one of Will’s favorite adjectives.