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02.08.16

Links 8/2/2016: Zenwalk 8.0 Beta 2, Q4OS 1.4.7

Posted in News Roundup at 7:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • Chemnitz Linux Days 2016 Is Happening In Just Over One Month

      Alongside FOSDEM, the Czech events like this week’s DevConf.cz, one of the interesting and longstanding German Linux events that pairs open-source/Linux with beer is the Chemnitzer Linux-Tage that’s happening next month.

      Chemnitzer Linux-Tage (Chemnitz Linux Days) is happening this year from 19 to 20 March 2016. There are both German and English tracks with this year being around 90 lectures and 15 workshops.

    • DevConf.cz 2016 Videos Now Available

      Happening the past few days in Brno, Czech Republic has been the Red Hat sponsored DevConf.cz developers conference. For those that missed it and the live streaming, the videos are available to watch on YouTube.

      DevConf featured a variety of open-source / Linux talks particularly around Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora, and CentOS. If you wish to watch this year’s videos, you can find the RedHatCzech playlist or start from the embedded player below.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

    • Open Source and .NET — Why It’s Not Picking Up

      Open-source in .NET is not picking up. Despite good efforts from many good people and companies, it seems as if the Microsoft developers scene is far from embracing open-source. Why is this happening, and is there still hope for change?

      [...]

      But, this doesn’t seem to be enough. OSS projects in .NET are not striving; there is not much innovation happening in this space; and OSS communities aren’t being formed. It is all left as a dream we keep dreaming, but never actually getting to fulfil.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 10.3 Now In Beta

      FreeBSD developers have released today their first official development media for the upcoming FreeBSD 10.3.

      FreeBSD 10.3 Beta 1 is now available from their FTP server.

    • LLVM Clang 3.8 Compiler Optimization Benchmarks With -Ofast

      A few days ago I posted a number of LLVM Clang optimization level benchmarks using the latest code for the upcoming Clang 3.8 release. Those tests went from -O0 to -O3 -march=native, but many Phoronix readers wanted -Ofast so here are those results too.

      I didn’t include -Ofast in the original tests since I don’t know of many using this optimization level within a production capacity considering it has the potential of doing unsafe math as it disregards standards compliance in the name of performance. However, since several readers requested it and I still had this LLVM/Clang 3.8 build around in the same system configuration, I added in extra runs with -Ofast and -Ofast -march=native.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • Why I fought for open source in the Air Force

      I wanted an open source solution and faced a fair amount of resistance from our lawyers, management, users, and proprietary vendors. It was a difficult struggle at times, and it wasn’t until the DoD published their first official guidance on the use of open source software that we started to gain traction. Finally, in the middle of all of the drama, the DoD leadership issued a policy update explicitly stating that open source software was acceptable as long as there was support for it, and that the support could come in the form of government programmers, if necessary.

      This memo was a game changer, but it took more than just a policy update to get momentum to shift toward open source.

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • Hardware

    • Apple error 53 foils low cost repairs – bricks iPhone

      If you have an iPhone or iPad repaired by a company other than Apple, you are likely to encounter Error 53 that only it can fix – at a considerable cost.

      The error usually occurs if you save a few [hundred] dollars by having a third party replacement of the glass, screen, home button, or touch ID sensor regardless of whether genuine parts are used. The iPhone goes into a continual boot loop after attempting a future iOS software update.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Washington Post’s Food Columnist Goes to Bat for Monsanto–Again

      I pointed out that her columns are biased in favor of those industry groups, particularly on the topic of GMOs, even though her column is presented to readers as an unbiased effort to find middle ground in debates about our food system.

      My article was met with crickets of silence from Haspel, her Post editor Joe Yonan and the band of biotech promoters who prolifically praise Haspel on Twitter. I figured that, soon enough, Haspel might write another column that would warrant raising the concerns another notch up the pole. She didn’t disappoint.

    • Female Genital Mutilation Is Not a Uniquely Muslim Problem

      The Independent reports that about 5,000 girls and women in Britain are subjected to female genital mutilation each year: “FGM is carried out for cultural, religious and social reasons within families and communities where it is believed to be a necessary preparation for adulthood and marriage.” Ian Tuttle is exasperated by their kid-glove treatment of the practice:

    • Flint’s Crisis Is About More Than Water

      What is in the mind of someone who knowingly poisons children and impairs their lives? Why did the politicians, regulators and bureaucrats who knew the water in Flint, Mich., was toxic lie about the danger for months? What does it say about a society that is ruled by, and refuses to punish, those who willfully destroy the lives of children?

      The crisis in Flint is far more ominous than lead-contaminated water. It is symptomatic of the collapse of our democracy. Corporate power is not held accountable for its crimes. Everything is up for sale, including children. Our regulatory agencies—including the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality—have been defunded, emasculated and handed over to corporate-friendly stooges. Our corrupt courts are part of a mirage of justice. The role of these government agencies and courts, and of the legislatures, is to sanction abuse rather than halt it.

    • Hillary’s Flint Gambit

      I’m completely agnostic about whether this particular trip will hurt or help (it’s very clear that Hillary’s focus on Flint two debates ago helped draw attention, though of course that came months after the lead poisoning was first revealed in October).

      It could be that next week Democrats in the Senate will be able to get Republicans to relent to their demand for Flint funding. But it could also be that Republicans will dig in, given that denying Flint funding becomes a way to deprive the presumptive Democratic nominee a win. That’s true, especially since John Cornyn already accused Democrats of trying to embarrass Republicans on this issue.

    • Why Is the Postal Inspection Service Investigating the Flint Water Crisis?

      They often get brought in as an investigative partner if the government needs to track what has been mailed, and mail fraud charges can serve as hand add-on charges in cases where someone used the mail to help commit a crime.

      I can imagine a lot of things the FBI might be investigating. But I know of no facts, thus far, that involve mail-related crimes.

    • Hillary Clinton’s Flint Strategy

      Clinton needs that firewall of African-Americans voters if she’s going to fend off Sanders’s surge. A clean water campaign—one that elevates the inequities that make African-Americans twice as likely to rely on substandard plumbing as non-Hispanic whites—helps her do that. But her clean water campaign isn’t just a narrow primary tactic to edge out Sanders. Flint is also a prime example of what happens when the government, on all levels, fails to do its job.

    • Flint Crisis: Harvey Hollins Not Giving Task Force Information that Implicates Harvey Hollins

      Some weeks ago, I noted that Rick Snyder had picked his Director of Urban Initiatives, Harvey Hollins, to coordinate response with his hand-picked Task Force to respond to Flint, in spite of the fact that Hollins was intimately involved in all his prior decisions involving Flint.

    • “Lies, Lies and More Lies” – GMOs, Poisoned Agriculture and Toxic Rants

      Have you ever read all of those pro-GMO scientists-cum-lobbyists professing their love of science? They are always talking about how science must prevail over ignorance and ideology then they play on the public’s ignorance by using ideology and sloganeering to try to get their points across.

      As as been well documented (see here and here), it is the pro-GMO lobby/industry that distorts and censors science, captures regulatory bodies, attacks scientists whose findings are unpalatable to the industry and bypasses proper scientific and regulatory procedures altogether.

    • Corporations Killed Medicine. Here’s How to Take It Back.

      For most of human history, life-saving drugs were a public good. Now they’re only good for shareholders.

  • Security

    • ‘White hat’ then, Red Hat now

      “From white hat to Red Hat,” was the joke a senior executive of Red Hat quipped to Alessandro Perilli, after hearing excerpts from The Manila Times interview with him, to which Perilli answered back with a wink, and a seemingly knowing smile. In the vast world of technology, a “white hat” is an internet slang, which refers to an ethical computer hacker or a computer security expert who hacks with the intention of improving security systems.

      Perilli is currently the general manager for Cloud Management Strategy for Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of open source solutions. The technology company recently hosted a full-house Red Hat Forum Asia Pacific in Manila, where key senior executives were in attendance.

    • Vulnerability in Font Processing Library Affects Linux, OpenOffice, Firefox

      Four vulnerabilities in the Graphite (or libgraphite) font processing library allow attackers to compromise machines by supplying them with malicious fonts.

    • Air Force to develop cyber-squadrons, Gen. Hyten says at Broadmoor symposium

      The Air Force plans to revolutionize how it handles computer warfare by beefing up its force of cyberspace experts while contracting out easier jobs, like running the service’s network.

    • USENIX Enigma 2016 – Usable Security–The Source Awakens
  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Thousands take part in anti-Islam Pegida protests across Europe

      Protesters from the anti-Islam PEGIDA movement marched in cities across Europe today.

      With around 2000 attendees, the largest was in Dresden, the home town of the group, the Daily Mail reported.

      There were also far right demonstrations in the Netherlands, Austria, Ireland, Poland, France, Czech Republic, Slovakia and even Australia.

    • Clashes in Calais as anti-migrant Pegida calls for protests across Europe
    • Virginia Man Is Accused of Trying to Join ISIS

      Another day, another faux-terrorism arrest by the FBI. Who do we really need to be protected from anyway?

    • Deadlock: North Korea’s Nuclear Test and US Policy

      The longstanding US approach to North Korea’s nuclear weapons is way off the mark.

    • America’s Myth of a Peaceful Nation

      A survey of history shows that America has either been involved in armed conflict or conducted some form of military operations during 223 years of its 240 years of existence as a nation. This is over 90 per cent of the time.

    • What we’ve learned from fifty years of Saudi arms deals

      Aside from the financial gains that al-Yamamah provided for the British government, BP, Shell and above all BAE, there is substantial evidence that Saudi Prince Turki bin Nasser was also a beneficiary of a specially-created BAE “slush fund.”

      Peter Gardiner, one of the men “who lavished luxury on Prince Turki for more than a decade” through his travel agency, revealed to the BBC in 2004 how “on BAE’s instructions, he would lay on a seemingly endless stream of five-star hotels, chartered aircraft, luxury limousines, personal security and exotic holidays for Prince Turki and his entourage”, initially costing BAE “two hundred thousand pounds or three hundred thousand pounds” a year, before increasing “to about a million pounds a year and quickly to two and three and by the time it was completed it was moving up towards seven million pounds a year.”

    • Hillary Clinton, Conscription, and Militarized Feminism

      For hundreds of years in America, women did not have the same rights as men. They – more or less – do now and for some, the final flourish of equality is seen in decisions such as the Pentagon’s 2015 choice to open up all combat jobs to females. While the military exist, it makes practical sense to admit anyone who can hack it.

      However, this week the logical consequences of equality in all things, good and bad, came up in a news item. Turns out there are several important officials who believe that women should be required to register for the Selective Service if they are let into any branch of the military. At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Marine Gen. Robert Neller said they supported this plan, and other high-up military guys said they wanted the matter discussed.

      The proper feminist – or anyone who supports women’s equality, no matter how they label themselves should support this, right? After all, the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment would have included a mandate. And yet, this is insane. The draft is wrong. Expanding a sexist evil does not alleviate it.

      Civil rights movements can always be co-opted. The San Francisco Pride Parade decided back in 2013 that Chelsea Manning was not worth honoring after all. Feminism just happened to start pretty early in terms of picking and choosing who matters, and how willing it is to be assimilated into the militarized whole.

      [...]

      Walsh, it seems, was much more tepid about Clinton in 2008. But darn it, today she is “With Joy, and Without Apologies” in her support. Sen. Bernie Sanders is getting all the youth vote momentum – and even The Nation endorsed him – but Walsh argues that Clinton is “the right and even radical choice” today. She writes line after line about sexism, reproductive freedom, and then this teeny, laughably qualified truth finally appears: “I continue to wonder whether she’ll be more hawkish on foreign policy than is advised in these dangerous times.”

    • Obama Readies To Fight in Libya, Again

      No one is laughing in Washington now. President Obama came, saw and created the very opposite of what he sought, a hardly unusual outcome for the Obama and Bush Administrations in the Middle East. Instead of a pliable dependent government willing to do the bidding of Washington and its NATO foreign legion, there has been an explosion of civil war and Sunni jihadism.

    • Controversial Israel Supporter Funneling Millions Into Clinton Campaign

      Recent disclosures show media mogul and controversial Israel supporter Haim Saban is pouring millions of dollars into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

      Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl together contributed $5 million to the Hillary Clinton Super PAC—Priorities USA Action—between 2015 and 2016 alone, according to disclosures available on OpenSecrets.org, affiliated with the Center for Responsive Politics.

    • Cruz and Rubio: Heirs to Bush-Obama Militarism

      I see no point splitting hairs over whether Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio is the more egregious warmonger. Both love the bloody and costly U.S. empire. Both believe in American exceptionalism. (Rubio arrogantly calls for a “New American Century.”) Both want to make war in the Middle East (and beyond) and “stand behind Israel,” though such policies provoked the 9/11 attacks. Both want to pour money into the military, as though America were militarily threatened. (The US military budget equals the budgets of the next seven highest spending nations.) Both want to prevent détente with Iran, which poses no danger. Both hype terrorism as an existential threat. Both want the government to spy on Americans, especially Muslim Americans. Both want to “control the border,” code for violating the natural right of people to move freely and make better lives without government permission.

    • Capitalism, cronyism and Clinton

      A similar dilemma is at hand in any critical examination of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner for this year’s US presidential election. Doug Henwood, an American journalist and a contributing editor at The Nation, has written a short, punchy book challenging Clinton’s campaign narrative, particularly her self-identification as a plucky underdog, by highlighting her cosy relationship with big business and her dubious track record on policy.

    • Hillary Is the Candidate of the War Machine

      Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sat down for six consecutive television interviews in Kabul, Afghanistan on October 20, 2011. Clinton shared a laugh with a television news reporter moments after hearing deposed Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi had been killed. “We came, we saw, he died,” she joked when told of news reports of Qaddafi’s death by an aide in between formal interviews.

      There’s no doubt that Hillary is the candidate of Wall Street. Even more dangerous, though, is that she is the candidate of the military-industrial complex. The idea that she is bad on the corporate issues but good on national security has it wrong. Her so-called foreign policy “experience” has been to support every war demanded by the US deep security state run by the military and the CIA.

      Hillary and Bill Clinton’s close relations with Wall Street helped to stoke two financial bubbles (1999-2000 and 2005-8) and the Great Recession that followed Lehman’s collapse. In the 1990s they pushed financial deregulation for their campaign backers that in turn let loose the worst demons of financial manipulation, toxic assets, financial fraud, and eventually collapse. In the process they won elections and got mighty rich.

    • More Bombs, More Boots: The US War on ISIS Is Heating Up

      The intensified effort against ISIS won’t come cheap. The Obama administration is asking for more than $7 billion—a 35 percent increase—in the 2017 budget for the fight against ISIS. Despite the sudden military and financial push, Lt. General MacFarland assured reporters earlier this week, “We are closer to the end of the beginning of this campaign…The beginning of the end would be when we get Raqqa back.”

    • Close-Fisted Wealthy Nations Are ‘Failing the People of Syria’: Oxfam

      While some small European countries are donating more than their fair share to aid Syrians, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Russia are still far behind

    • Dragon & Phoenix: Khamenei Lauds New Sino-Iranian ‘Strategic Partnership’

      Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Iran this weekend, pledging new bilateral of $600 bn. Over 10 years.

    • Netanyahu demands more billions from US after Iran Deal, insults US Envoy, Steals more Land

      Netanyahu made the claim on the US taxpayer in the wake of his harsh words for the US ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro.

      Shapiro had addressed a conference earlier this week in which he said that the Obama administration now questions the commitment of Netanyahu’s government to peace with the Palestinians. Shapiro said that Israel wasn’t acting credibly to curb the violence of Israeli squatters on the Palestinian West Bank against Palestinians, and that it should open more land to the Palestinians: “Too much vigilantism goes unchecked, and at times there seems to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law, one for Israelis, and another for Palestinians. . . Hovering over all these questions is the larger one about Israel’s political strategy vis-a-vis its conflict with the Palestinians.” He also criticized Palestinian violence.

    • Suicide Bomber Strikes near US Base; 125 Killed Across Iraq

      Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi rejected plans for building a concrete barrier and trench around Baghdad. Instead, Abadi said, checkpoints would be reorganized to provide added security and easier transit.

    • Optimism of the Will

      So now we have another anti-Semite. Mazal Tov (“good luck”) as we say in Hebrew.

      His name is Ban Ki-moon, and he is the Secretary General of the UN. In practice, the highest international official, a kind of World Prime Minister.

      He has dared to criticize the Israeli government, as well as the Palestinian Authority, for sabotaging the peace process, and thereby making Israeli-Palestinian peace almost impossible. He emphasized that there is a worldwide consensus about the “Two-state Solution” being the only possible one.

    • “Bandage Me Quickly!” The Death of a Journalist in Yemen

      On January 17, Yemeni journalist Almigdad Mojalli was killed in a Saudi-led airstrike while reporting on civilian casualties in Jaref, a resort about 32 miles south of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. Mojalli was on assignment for Voice of America. Bahir Hameed, a photojournalist who accompanied Mojalli that day, was injured in the attack. The following is Hameed’s account of what happened, as told to Mohammed Ali Kalfood, a journalist in Sana’a.

    • Hands Up, Don’t Execute

      Many liberals passed sentence on the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom (CCF) weeks ago. The cowboys occupying the Malheur Wildlife Refuge headquarters in Oregon were criminals. Even worse, they were culturally unsympathetic criminals. “Y’all Qaeda,” was the taunt of choice for the smart set, which rocked with laughter when enterprising wags delivered sex toys to the squares.

      Yet when they put joking aside, many progressives called for these “militants” to be dealt with as “the terrorists they were”: lethally and with extreme prejudice. Besides, many said, the right-wing nuts were probably a bunch of Islamophobic racists.

      [...]

      During the Ferguson unrest however, the law-and-order right would have none of it. To them, Michael Brown was just a “thug,” a known criminal who had recently shaken down a store. If he didn’t want to get shot, he shouldn’t have resisted a cop, thought many of the same conservatives now outraged over the bloody government response to CCF’s armed defiance.

      Both sides reduce all questions of justice to identity politics, and effectively treat rights as a sympathy-based concept.

      For the left, Michael Brown was a sympathetic figure (an underserved youth of color), so he had Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights which were violated by Officer Darren Wilson. On the other hand, LaVoy Finicum was an unsympathetic figure (a right-wing, gun-owning good ‘ol boy), and a potential threat, so he was fair game to be gunned down in the snow.

    • U.S. Air Force Veteran, Smeared as “an ISIS Fighter,” Just Returned to the U.S.

      The smearing of Long as an “ISIS fighter” by the rabidly anti-Muslim website “Pajamas Media,” based on anonymous government officials, was a sham. From the start, Long and his family were held only in a deportation center after the Turkish government claimed he intended to stay in the country without the proper visa — largely due to the fact that he was on the U.S.’s no-fly list — and he was never charged with (let alone convicted of) anything remotely to do with terrorism or ISIS.

    • Danger Ahead

      The prospects for peace are dimming

      [...]

      The US military is preparing another invasion of Libya – Yes, they want to go back to the scene of their crime. Because more violence is going to “fix” the problems they created in the first place! Without congressional authorization, and without debate, US troops are getting ready to occupy Libya and put us in the middle of yet another war.

      More US troops are pouring into Iraq – So you thought the Iraq war was over? Think again! They’re not only sending as many as 800 more American soldiers on to Iraq, but they’re just now admitting that there are 4,000 already there – a lot more than they led us to believe. So much for President Obama’s pledge of “no boots on the ground”! This is just the first step toward Iraq War III.

    • Peace is the Keystone of Liberty

      The anti-war movement desperately needs libertarian leadership. And the libertarian movement urgently needs to be strongly anti-war. So in this essay I will offer some chief reasons for every libertarian to be 100% non-interventionist and actively engaged in the cause of peace.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • One Reason CIA Is Claiming Drone Emails Are Top Secret: ACLU’s FOIA

      The NYT has a really helpful description of the emails to Hillary that intelligence agencies are claiming are Top Secret. It explained how several of the emails almost certainly couldn’t derive from the intelligence the agency claimed they came from, such as this one on North Korea.

    • Pentagon Releases 200 Photos of Bush-Era Prisoner Abuse, Thousands Kept Secret

      The Pentagon on Friday was forced to release nearly 200 photographs of bruises, lacerations, and other injuries inflicted on prisoners presumably by U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      The record-dump was the result of a Freedom of Information Act request and nearly 12 years of litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which fought to expose the Bush-era torture.

    • 11 Million Pages of CIA Files May Soon Be Shared By This Kickstarter

      Millions of pages of CIA documents are stored in Room 3000. The CIA Records Search Tool (CREST), the agency’s database of declassified intelligence files, is only accessible via four computers in the National Archives Building in College Park, MD, and contains everything from Cold War intelligence, research and development files, to images.

      Now one activist is aiming to get those documents more readily available to anyone who is interested in them, by methodically printing, scanning, and then archiving them on the internet.

    • Pentagon Releases Photos of Detainee Abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan

      These photos appear to be the most innocuous of the more than 2,000 images that the government has fought for years to keep secret. Lawyers for the government have long maintained that the photos, if released, could cause grievous harm to national security because they could be used for propaganda by groups like al Qaeda and the Islamic State. The legal case has stretched on for more than a decade, since 2004, when the American Civil Liberties Union first sued to obtain photos beyond the notorious images that had been leaked from the prison at Abu Ghraib.

    • Establishment Family Values

      Joanna Gosling of BBC News won my prize for the news presenter who exuded the highest level of shrill indignation that the UN should dare to query the actions of the British Government. There was not, of course, any acknowledgement by the BBC that she is married to Craig Oliver, Cameron’s spin doctor in chief.

    • When in Rome: ‘Criminal Consequences’ for Assange’s Tormentors?

      When we consider the context and background – namely that Sweden and the UK have served and continue to serve as proxies for the United States in its pursuit of Assange for his role in exposing US war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere – an array of possible charges before the International Criminal Court quickly begin to look quite plausible.

    • Philip Hammond’s Astonishing Lie

      The official statement by the UK Foreign Secretary, Phillip Hammond:

      “I reject the decision of this working group. It is a group made up of lay people and not lawyers. Julian Assange is a fugitive from justice. He is hiding from justice in the Ecuadorian embassy.”

      These are the cvs of the group (including the ex-chair who started the work). Hammond’s statement that they are lay people and not lawyers is a blatant, a massive, an enormous, a completely astonishing lie. Yet nowhere has the media called him on this lie.

    • Kafka 2016

      To my astonishment, the FCO Official Spokesman has just confirmed to me that the FCO stands by Phillip Hammond’s statement that the members of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention are lay persons, and not lawyers. Even though every single one of them is an extremely distinguished lawyer.

      I confess I am utterly astonished. I know there is nothing more dull than an old buffer like me droning on about falling standards in public life. But when I was in the FCO, the vast majority of colleagues would have refused to advance what is a total and outright lie, about which it cannot be argued there is an area of interpretation, doubt or nuance.

    • Why the Assange Allegation is a Stitch-up

      I am slightly updating and reposting this from 2012 because the mainstream media have ensured very few people know the detail of the “case” against Julian Assange in Sweden. The UN Working Group ruled that Assange ought never to have been arrested in the UK in the first place because there is no genuine investigation are and no charges. Read this and you will know why.

      The other thing not widely understood is there is NO JURY in a rape trial in Sweden and it is a SECRET TRIAL. All of the evidence, all of the witnesses, are heard in secret. No public, no jury, no media. The only public part is the charging and the verdict. There is a judge and two advisers directly appointed by political parties. So you never would get to understand how plainly the case is a stitch-up. Unless you read this.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • No Questions About Climate Change at GOP Debate Sponsored by Big Oil

      The Republican presidential candidates were asked about the Super Bowl but not the future of the planet Saturday night — there were no questions about climate change or global warming in the debate in St. Anselm College in New Hampshire.

    • Beyond Paris: avoiding the trap of carbon metrics

      Instead of changing our economic system to make it fit within the natural limits of the planet, we are redefining nature so that it fits within the economic system.

    • Useful waste offers win-win benefits

      The future is increasingly bright for renewable energy, with the US aiming to cut the price of solar photovoltaics by 75% between 2010 and 2020. Denmark plans to obtain 50% of its energy from wind just five years from now.

    • DEQ Employees Seem Unwilling to Take the Fall for Flint

      In the email, the supervisor noted that a spike in Legionnaires coincided with the switch to Flint’s water. Jerry Ambrose was then the Emergency Manager of Flint; it’s unclear why he was using a GMail address as EM.

    • The Republican Refusal to Aid Flint

      A House oversight committee held a hearing on Wednesday whose purpose was purportedly to identify those responsible for the Flint crisis and determine what could be done to alleviate it. But the committee failed to summon Rick Snyder, the Republican governor of Michigan, whose environmental officials and emergency managers were the ones who made monumental blunders that led the city to draw water from the polluted Flint River without treating it properly. Instead, Republicans heaped blame on the Environmental Protection Agency, which made mistakes but was a bit player in this drama.

    • Rick Snyder Wasn’t Asked To Testify At Congressional Hearing About Flint Water Crisis

      On Wednesday, Congress will hear testimony from government officials and Flint residents about the years-long problem of contaminated water. Missing from the event, however, will be Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) as well as all of the emergency managers who were appointed to run the city over recent years.

      The Republicans who run the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform subpoenaed Darnell Earley late Tuesday night, the former emergency manager who served during the water switch and ensuing contamination issues, after he refused an earlier call to testify. They also invited the director of the state’s Department of Environmental Quality. But no one else in state or city leadership was called to testify.

    • FBI is Now Involved in the Investigation Into the Flint Water Crisis

      The FBI is joining the investigation into the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, the Detroit Free Press reported on Monday.

      Gina Balaya, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit, told the Free Press that federal prosecutors are “working with a multi-agency investigation team on the Flint water contamination matter, including the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, EPA’s [Environmental Protection Agency] Office of Inspector General, and EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division.”

    • Can Burning Forests To Power The Grid Be Carbon Neutral? The Senate Just Said ‘Yes’

      When the first major update to the nation’s energy laws in nearly a decade began last week in the Senate, environmentalists were cautiously sympathetic to it. The bill didn’t open new land for oil and gas drilling, coal was mostly ignored and the Obama administration’s recent climate change policies were left unscathed.

      But environmentalists around the country are now incensed over an approved amendment categorizing bioenergy as carbon neutral — a move that groups say puts forests and even portions of the Clean Power Plan at risk.

      “I think it’s a very dangerous amendment,” said Kevin Bundy, senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, in an interview with ThinkProgress. “It tries to dictate that burning forests for energy won’t affect the climate, that’s what the term carbon neutral is supposed to mean and that’s just not true. You can’t legislate away basic physics.”

    • New Study Ties Fracking Water Disposal To California Earthquakes

      Injecting old, used water from oil and gas drilling in California has been tied to earthquakes for the first time, according to a new study released Thursday. Wastewater injections have already been tied to earthquakes in Colorado and Oklahoma.

    • NY Governor Sounds Warning After Radioactive Water Leaks from Indian Point Nuclear Plant

      Radioactive water has reportedly contaminated the groundwater surrounding the Indian Point nuclear power plant, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday.

      A statement issued from Cuomo’s office reported evidence that “radioactive tritium-contaminated water leaked into the groundwater” beneath the facility, which sits on the bank of the Hudson River, just 25 miles north of New York City in Buchanan.

    • The Pipeline Strikes Back: the audacity of TransCanada’s $15b suit against the U.S.

      But as any good Star Wars fan knows, the Empire strikes back. True to form, TransCanada filed a $15 billion legal action against the U.S. government on January 6. The company is demanding that U.S. taxpayers compensate it for the profits it had hoped to make from a pipeline it won’t get to build.

      How can the company do this? TransCanada is making use of a legal weapon so powerful that even Darth Vader would be envious—international trade rules.

      Here is how the system known as “Investor State Dispute Settlement” works. Tucked neatly away inside the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and more than 90 percent of the thousands of other international trade agreements in force around the world are provisions that allow foreign corporations to sue governments whenever a change in policy interferes with the company’s profit-making plans. Companies are allowed to drag governments before closed-door tribunals operated by the World Bank, the International Chamber of Commerce, and others. Companies can force compensation not only for the funds they actually invested, but for many, many times more than that for supposed “lost profits.”

      Who uses these secretive tribunals? The San Francisco-based engineering giant Bechtel sued Bolivia, the poorest country in South America, after the Cochabamba Water Revolt of 2000. This was a massive public uprising against the privatization of the city’s water and subsequent rate hikes for residents. After protests pushed Bolivia’s leaders to reverse the privatization, Bechtel sued Bolivia for $50 million, although it had invested just $1 million in the project.

  • Finance

    • Young Women For Sanders Not to Be Underestimated

      Normally, I would just stay silent if Gloria Steinem said something with which I did not agree. I admire her so much. She has shown so much courage on behalf of women’s issues throughout the years that it is a bit absurd for someone such as me to even consider challenging any comment she makes regarding women.

    • Are The Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?

      US economics statistics are so screwed up that they do not provide an accurate picture.

      Consider the latest monthly payroll jobs report. According to the report, in January 151,000 new jobs were created. Where are these jobs? According to the report, 69% of the new jobs are accounted for by retail employment and waitresses and bartenders. If we add in health care and social assistance, the entirely of the new jobs are accounted for. This is not the employment picture of a First World economy.

      According to the report, in January the retail sector added 57,700 jobs. Considering that January is the month that followed a disappointing Christmas December, do you think retailers added 57,700 employees? Such a large increase in retail employment suggests an expected rise in sales, but transportation and warehousing lost 20,300 jobs and wholesale trade added only 8,800.

      Perhaps it is mistaken to think that employment in these sectors should move together. Possibly the retail jobs, if they are real, are part-time jobs replacing a smaller number of terminated full-time jobs in order that employers can avoid benefits costs. If this is the case, then the retail jobs are bad news, not good news.

      The reported unemployment rate of 4.9% is misleading as it does not count discouraged workers. When discouraged workers are added, the actual rate of US unemployment is about 23%, a number more consistent with the decline in the labor force participation rate. In January 2006 the labor force participation rate was 66%. In January 2016 the labor force participation rate is 62.7%.

    • Sanders Argues for “Yes We Can” While Clinton Counters “No We Can’t”

      Who is the establishment? And why does it think people supporting Bernie Sanders are asking for too much?

    • Rebuke Swift After Albright Declares: ‘Special Place in Hell’ for Women Who Don’t Vote Clinton

      During a campaign event in Concord on Saturday, the former Secretary of State declared: “Young women have to support Hillary Clinton. The story is not over!”

      “They’re going to want to push us back,” she continued. “It’s not done and you have to help. Hillary Clinton will always be there for you. And just remember, there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”

    • The “Bernie Bros” Narrative: a Cheap Campaign Tactic Masquerading as Journalism and Social Activism

      The concoction of the “Bernie Bro” narrative by pro-Clinton journalists has been a potent political tactic — and a journalistic disgrace. It’s intended to imply two equally false claims: (1) a refusal to march enthusiastically behind the Wall Street-enriched, multiple-war-advocating, despot-embracing Hillary Clinton is explainable not by ideology or political conviction, but largely if not exclusively by sexism: demonstrated by the fact that men, not women, support Sanders (his supporters are “bros”); and (2) Sanders supporters are uniquely abusive and misogynistic in their online behavior. Needless to say, a crucial tactical prong of this innuendo is that any attempt to refute it is itself proof of insensitivity to sexism if not sexism itself (as the accusatory reactions to this article will instantly illustrate).

      It’s become such an all-purpose, handy pro-Clinton smear that even consummate, actual “bros” for whom the term was originally coined — straight guys who act with entitlement and aggression, such as Paul Krugman — are now reflexively (and unironically) applying it to anyone who speaks ill of Hillary Clinton, even when they know nothing else about the people they’re smearing, including their gender, age, or sexual orientation. Thus, a male policy analyst who criticized Sanders’ health care plan “is getting the Bernie Bro treatment,” sneered Krugman. Unfortunately for the New York Times Bro, that analyst, Charles Gaba, said in response that he’s “really not comfortable with [Krugman’s] referring to die-hard Bernie Sanders supporters as ‘Bernie Bros’” because it “implies that only college-age men support Sen. Sanders, which obviously isn’t the case.”

    • Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?

      “Self-described socialist” … How many times have we all read that term in regard to Vermont senator Bernie Sanders? But is he really a socialist? Or is he a “social democrat”, which is what he’d be called in Europe? Or is he a “democratic socialist”, which is the American party he has been a member of (DSA – Democratic Socialists of America)? And does it really matter which one he is? They’re all socialists, are they not?

      Why does a person raised in a capitalist society become a socialist? It could be because of a parent or parents who are committed socialists and raise their children that way. But it’s usually because the person has seen capitalism up close for many years, is turned off by it, and is thus receptive to an alternative. All of us know what the ugly side of capitalism looks like. Here are but a few of the countless examples taken from real life:

      * Following an earthquake or other natural disaster, businesses raise their prices for basic necessities such as batteries, generators, water pumps, tree-removal services, etc.

      * In the face of widespread medical needs, drug and health-care prices soar, while new surgical and medical procedures are patented.

      * The cost of rent increases inexorably regardless of tenants’ income.

      * Ten thousand types of deception to part the citizens from their hard-earned ages.

    • Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem

      What was not clear until now is potentially as important. In Iowa it was demonstrated, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it is possible, here and now, to stave off a Clintonite Restoration – possible, that is, to free the country and the world from the thrall of neoliberal-neoconservative politics.

    • Canada and the TPP

      What are we to make of the Trudeau government’s schizophrenic attitude towards the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)? Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland formally signed the agreement yesterday in New Zealand but repeated her assurances that critics shouldn’t worry – the government hasn’t committed to ratifying it and consultations and a full Parliamentary debate will precede any ratification. Fair enough – ratification is at least two years away. Yet so far the consultation process has not penetrated the ideological bubble created by her trade department officials. In spite of the fact that by far the biggest concern of critics of the deal (including Joseph Stiglitz and a United Nations report) is the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) feature (the one that allows corporations to sue governments for regulating), she seems to be either ill-informed or misled about its impact. At a panel discussion in Vancouver in January she seemed unaware of the ISDS. Her fellow panelists, both economics professors, actively downplayed the threat of ISDS.

    • TPP ‘fundamentally flawed,’ should be resisted – UN human rights expert

      The top United Nations expert on human rights has called on the 12 nations considering the Trans-Pacific Partnership to reject the massive trade agreement since in its current form it “is out of step with today’s international human rights regime.”

      Acknowledging global opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because of the agreement’s “undemocratic pedigree,”Alfred de Zayas, the UN’s independent expert on the promotion of democratic and equitable international order, said the largest trade agreement in decades “is fundamentally flawed and should not be signed or ratified unless provision is made to guarantee the regulatory space of States.”

    • Sanders Vows To Kill TPP If Elected. Will Clinton?

      As the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free-trade” agreement was signed in New Zealand by representatives of the 12 participating countries, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders strongly voiced his opposition and committed to doing what he can to kill the deal if he is elected president.

      Rival Hillary Clinton has also stated opposition to the TPP, but will she also vow to kill it if elected?

    • New Yorker Shooting Blindly at Bernie Sanders

      It’s clear that Bernie Sanders has gotten many mainstream types upset. After all, he is raising issues about the distribution of wealth and income that they would prefer be kept in academic settings, certainly not pushed front and center in a presidential campaign.

    • Credit Occupy in Bernie Sanders’ Surge

      For insight into Bernie Sanders’ unexpected surge, go back to 2011, to the then-scorned Occupy Wall Street movement and its drive against the 1 percent and income inequality.

      Written off that year as disorganized and ineffective, the Occupy movement has contributed volunteers and—even more important—its powerful message to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. The combination of progressive volunteers and a powerful attack on economic injustice helped Sanders come extremely close to beating Hillary Clinton in Iowa and could be of great help to him in the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.

    • WATCH: Bill Maher Doubles Down on Bernie Endorsement: ‘F*ck Yeah’ He’s Ready

      On Friday night’s Real Time Bill Maher made his love of Bernie Sanders even clearer and more unequivocal than before, issuing his most enthusiastic endorsement of the Vermont Democratic Socialist yet.

    • Yanis Varoufakis – the origins of the European and global economic crisis

      In this video, acTVism Munich interviews Yanis Varoufakis, a world renowned economist who was a former member of the Greek parliament. He gained immense popularity when he served as finance minister (27 January 2015 – 6 July 2015) for the Greek government, a post that he left shortly after he found out that Greek government made the decision to i mplement the austerity package of the Troika against the popular vote (OXI) of the Greek people.This interview focuses on the history of the global economic system, the transformations that it underwent after World War II and attempts to connect it to the current economic crisis that is sweeping throughout Europe and the globe.

    • VIDEO: Jeremy Corbyn Takes Down Big Banks During Surprise Appearance

      Corbyn began and ended his rousing speech by thanking his supporters and reminding them of the work they have cut out for them in the years leading up to the 2020 election, when he plans to run for prime minister of the United Kingdom. Reflecting on his campaign for Labour leadership in 2015, the British politician said, “The bankers created a crisis, the government’s responded by cutting services, increasing the costs of the poorest people and making the richest even richer. And we said, ‘No, that is the wrong way around.’ ”

    • We Can’t Afford These Billionaires

      In its 2015 report the World Economic Forum, aka the globe-grabbing business elite, pronounced from its opulent mountain fastness in Davos that, “Inequality is one of the key challenges of our time.” Paying $25,000 to attend this billionaires’ bash, and that’s after shelling out the compulsory $52,000 WEF membership fee, the said elite isn’t pronouncing on inequality out of any empathy for the poor and oppressed. This becomes perfectly clear on page 38 of the Global Risks Report 2016 where the reader is informed that inequality has consequences:

    • No ‘Artful Smear.’ Clintons Paid $153 Million in Speaking Fees, Analysis Shows

      There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about the speaking fees paid to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and an analysis published Saturday sheds some light on exactly how much Wall Street and other major corporate powers ponied up for the former Secretary of State and her husband, President Bill Clinton.

      $153 million, CNN concludes, is the amount the power couple raked in between February 2001 and the launch of Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid in May 2015. What’s more, the Clintons received an average pay of $210,795 for each of the 729 addresses given during that time period.

    • California’s Deep Debt Problems

      For those who wonder about the practical importance of transparency, I offer as evidence the latest result of a modest rule change in California from a mind-numbingly named organization—the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, or GASB (pronounced Gaz-bee). The group’s stated goal is to promote accountability through “excellence in public-sector financial reporting.” This is exciting stuff for people who wear green eyeshades.

    • Clinton’s Pitch to New Hampshire: Electing a Woman Is the Real Revolution

      The presence of Klobuchar, Stabenow, and Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire had another effect: It reminded voters that, notwithstanding her claim to not be a member of the Democratic establishment, Clinton has the backing of almost all of Sanders’ colleagues in the Senate Democratic caucus. And they’re not shy about explaining why.

    • Here’s What Hillary Clinton’s Paid Speaking Contract Looks Like

      So what exactly does Hillary Clinton ask for when she gives a paid speech, like the ones she gave at Goldman Sachs? A contract for a speech she gave at the University of Nevada Las Vegas provides some answers. The contract was obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal in August, through the state public records law.

    • On Pluralism, Bernie Sanders, and the Fight for 15

      But having set the table like that, there’s little prospect the large numbers of workers who haven’t been as active in Democratic politics of late will have much sway in face of the powerful banks who don’t appear to have traded away key issues for their time with Hillary.

      Notably: these lower income voters, along with the more widely noted younger voters, are precisely those whom Bernie is winning (though as the primary moves to more racially diverse states, that is expected to change).

    • Ahead of Primary, NH Workers Declare: Want My Vote? Raise the Wage!

      Want my vote? Then raise the wage.

      That’s the message that low wage workers in New Hampshire sent to the presidential contenders on Saturday when fast food employees and others walked off the job days before the state’s pivotal primary election.

      “I’ve never walked off the job before, but I can’t wait any longer for fair pay,” said Megan Jensen, a mother and KFC employee who lives off of $8 an hour. Jensen said that this is also the first year she plans to vote in the state’s February 9th primary.

      “Everyone deserves at least $15 an hour and the right to a union,” Jensen continued, “and candidates who are flying into New Hampshire this week need to know that we are taking this demand to the polls.”Want my vote? Then raise the wage.

      That’s the message that low wage workers in New Hampshire sent to the presidential contenders on Saturday when fast food employees and others walked off the job days before the state’s pivotal primary election.

      “I’ve never walked off the job before, but I can’t wait any longer for fair pay,” said Megan Jensen, a mother and KFC employee who lives off of $8 an hour. Jensen said that this is also the first year she plans to vote in the state’s February 9th primary.

      “Everyone deserves at least $15 an hour and the right to a union,” Jensen continued, “and candidates who are flying into New Hampshire this week need to know that we are taking this demand to the polls.”

    • Eric Holder Makes Ads for Hillary Clinton While Making Deals for Corporate Clients

      Former Obama administration attorney general Eric Holder is prominently featured in a Hillary Clinton campaign ad running in South Carolina. “If you want to make sure Republicans don’t take us backward, help Hillary move us forward,” Holder says.

      Meanwhile, in his post-public service life as a partner with white-collar defense firm Covington & Burling, Holder is upholding his Justice Department’s tradition of negotiating lower fines for corporate offenses, albeit from the other side of the negotiating table.

    • Hillary Clinton Won’t Say if She’ll Release Transcripts of Goldman Sachs Speeches

      During the Democratic presidential debate Thursday evening, MSNBC moderator Chuck Todd picked a question offered by a viewer and pointedly asked Hillary Clinton if she would release the transcripts of her paid speeches to giant investment bank Goldman Sachs. Todd then broadened the question, asking: “Are you willing to release the transcripts of all your paid speeches?”

      It was the second time Clinton has been asked if she would release transcripts of the paid speeches she gave behind closed doors. When I asked her in Manchester, New Hampshire, two weeks ago, Clinton simply laughed and turned away.

    • Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Brawl Over His “Insinuation” That She’s Corrupt

      Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton had a series of momentous exchanges Thursday night over what Clinton called Sanders’ “artful smear” — the suggestion that taking massive amounts of money from corporate special interests had corrupted her.

      Clinton told Sanders during Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate that he would not find a single example of money changing her mind or her vote, and she attacked him for his criticism “by innuendo, by insinuation” that “anybody who ever took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought.”

    • Bernie Sanders Said Hillary Clinton Is Not A Real Progressive. Here’s How She Responded.
    • Michael Bloomberg’s Possible Entry Into the Race for President Is No Surprise

      Just what this presidential campaign needs, another know-it-all billionaire. Whip out your checkbook, Michael Bloomberg, and come on in.

    • Remember ‘Liar Loans’? Wall Street Pushes a Twist on the Crisis-Era Mortgage

      These mortgages, which are given to borrowers that can’t fully document their income, helped fuel a tidal wave of defaults during the housing crisis and subsequently fell out of favor.

    • An Idiot’s Guide to Prosecuting Corporate Fraud

      A new group called Bank Whistleblowers United have just pushed out a comprehensive plan they think would put the executive branch back in the business of enthusiastically identifying, indicting, and convicting financial fraudsters — restoring accountability while protecting the public.

    • Anti-Corruption Crusader Zephyr Teachout Running for Congress

      Anti-corruption activist and law professor Zephyr Teachout announced this morning that she will be running for the U.S. House of Representatives to represent New York’s 19th congressional district.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • On Hillary, Lloyd, Us and Them

      For those puzzled by the rancor and mistrust so many feel towards Hillary Clinton – and no it’s not mindless misogyny – the ever lucid Matt Taibbi offers a clear-eyed look at the cool millions Clinton made speechifying to big banks and corporations, her hypocrisy on the subject of being tough on them, her longtime allegiance to and support from them, and bearing it all out, just what she said in those now-infamous, $675,000 speeches to Goldman Sachs. His analysis, coupled with her constant egregious shifts on issues even as she denies the shifts, provides solid grounds for the memorable time Anderson Cooper asked the cagey candidate who now brashly proclaims herself a progressive, “Will you say anything to get elected?”

    • Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
    • Hillary May Be in Serious Trouble: This Election So Far Is an Insurrection Against a Rigged System
    • Trump Visit To College Campus Sparks Protest

      Fewer than a dozen people showed up to Sunday’s protest, huddled together as temperatures hovered just above freezing. Connors said some were afraid to come, while Dutton added that many more students wanted to come, but chose instead to spend the day canvassing for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

    • Bernie Sanders Tells Berniebros To Knock It Off — ‘We Don’t Want That Crap’

      The “Berniebro” phenomenon, where a mob of online Sanders supporters attack politicians and writers who express views critical of the Vermont senator or supportive of his Democratic rival Secretary Hilary Clinton, launched numerous thinkpieces from journalists unfortunate enough to encounter them online. At their worst, Berniebros have accused Clinton supporters of voting “based on who had the vagina” and have invented novel sexist terms such as “clitrash.”

    • Koch Brothers’ Propaganda Pushes Economic Pain on All But the Very Rich

      Last week, Steve Inskeep of NPR’s “Morning Edition” sat down with Charles Koch, co-owner and CEO of Koch Industries and the more vocal half of the infamous Koch brothers duo, to talk to him about his unprecedented political campaign spending.

      One year ago, the Koch brothers announced that they were budgeting nearly $900 million for campaign spending for the 2016 election year, a figure that was on par to match the spending of both major political parties. And according to Koch’s interview with NPR, he’s behind on that budget, and plans to really lay on the moola as the poltical battles start to heat up, especially those in Congress, prompting Inskeep to aptly label the Kochs as “a political force unto themselves.” But it’s not only for reasons of money that the Kochs might be seen as the third major party in American politics. Once the shock and awe at the depth of their wallets subsides, the reasons behind their spending habits become the real topic of interest

    • “Millennials Rising” Super PAC Is 95% Funded by Old Men

      According to recent FEC filings, 95 percent of the donations to the Super PAC “Millennials Rising” — originally called “Millennials for Jeb” — comes from men 60 years and older.

      Of the $54,960 total raised by the Super PAC, $50,000, or 91 percent, comes from the snowy-haired 72-year-old billionaire Robert A. Day. He is the grandson of Superior Oil founder William Myron Keck and a former investment manager. Day has also given $1 million to the pro-Bush Super PAC Right to Rise.

      The twitter account of Millennials Rising describes Millennials Rising as “started and run by Millennials.” Its website calls for “limited government” and simultaneously decries both the national debt and taxes as too high.

    • FBI Arrests Nearly Every Single Elected Official In A Texas Town

      Only two of the elected officials in a remote Texas town were left unscathed after the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) arrested six members under a federal indictment that accuses them of taking bribes and helping an illegal gambling operator in exchange for favors, the Associated Press reported. Those arrested in Crystal City, Texas include the mayor, the city attorney who is also the city manager, two current councilmen, and a former councilman.

      “The indictment alleges that these public officials and this businessman solicited and accepted bribes in exchange for official action, such as voting to award city contracts to, waive certain tax payments by, and conduct certain inspections to give unfair advantage to those paying bribes,” Richard Durbin, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, said in a press release. One of the two remaining top officials was previously arrested on federal charges of smuggling immigrants across the southern U.S. border.

    • Ted Cruz’s Promise That Big Donors Will Match Campaign Donations Could Break Rules

      Taken at face value, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s latest fund-raising pitch to supporters is either impossible, illegal, or a scam.

      In an email his campaign blasted out on Tuesday, Cruz wrote: “I just got off the phone with a few very generous supporters who — after our big win in Iowa last night — have pledged huge support for my campaign.”

      The donors “have agreed to match all online donations to my campaign made through the links below,” he said. The page he linked to allowed supporters to give up to $5,400 ($2,700 for the primary election; $2,700 for the general election) and, for a 48-hour period, have their donations matched dollar for dollar.

      The email did not say exactly how that would work.

    • Democrats Have Wasted No Time Trolling Marco Rubio for His Debate Malfunction

      Dressed in cardboard and tinfoil robot costumes, two reps from Democratic super-PAC American Bridge greeted Rubio fans at his first rally of the day, a pancake breakfast in Londonderry, New Hampshire. The two Rubio-bots handed out broken gaskets and mechanically repeated barbs about Rubio’s repetition of the line, “Let’s dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing.” As Rubio sparred with Chris Christie during last night’s debate, the New Jersey governor finally called him out for reciting the same talking point. “There it is,” Christie bellowed. “The memorized 25-second speech.” By night’s end, the Rubio-as-robot-meme was born.

      “We weren’t planning to do any stunts, but Chris Christie gave us a good idea,” said one of the bots, Kevin McAllister, deputy communications director for the super-PAC. “We could all see last night that Marco Roboto has lots of talking points but there’s not a lot of substance.”

    • Did Fox News Help the GOP Establishment Get Its Groove Back?

      And those big donors who went ahead and poured over $100 million into Jeb’s empty vessel campaign just watched it get spent with an almost unprecedented ineffectuality. They’re ready to jump to a viable alternative. And Rubio—who may have gotten a little bankshot help from Roger Ailes and even from his campaign’s part in ginning up the Dr. Ben Carson rumor-mill—is certainly the guy with the demonstrated willingness to soak-up cash from billionaires and toe the Neoconservative lines they want to draw in Middle Eastern sand. And his team is adept at playing fast and loose with IRS restrictions on non-profit status to wash campaign cash through their well-developed laundry machinery.

    • Donald Trump Tweets That Cruz ‘Illegally Stole’ Iowa

      Trump has been able to dominate the political conversation by advancing outrageous claims that attract the attention of the media and the public.

    • Donald Trump’s Russian cousins

      The current media frenzy over the darling of the Republican anti-establishment, Donald Trump, seems to fit particular American stereotypes about our political propensities. We Americans like a scrapper, a stubby, come-from-behind, up-by-the-bootstraps, half-Rocky Balboa, half-Horatio Alger amalgam of anti-establishment and egalitarian tropes. In this iteration, Donald Trump is the self-made man that he wants to appear as, and we appreciate how compulsively he weaves this ostentatious narrative.

    • WATCH: The Trump Interview That Should Have Ended His Candidacy Once and for All

      The topic turns to President Obama’s recent nuclear agreement with Iran. Trump unwittingly displays for all to see that he simply does not understand the most basic elements of the agreement.

      Trump proclaims his familiar boast that he is the best deal-maker ever and the best negotiator ever, and that the Obama administration completely botched the negotiation with Iran. And then Trump graced us with an inside account of how he, as a master deal-maker, would have negotiated the agreement with Iran and obtained a much better outcome for America.

    • Big bucks, shadowy companies: Election mystery money returns
    • Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

      She says she’s been fighting for progressive causes for years, but when? Where? Even on the micro-bore social “wedge” issues that her husband relied upon as president, she’s in trouble. Gays won’t forget her support of the Defense of Marriage Act. Straights think she’s a reed in the political wind.

    • Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Pack New Hampshire Arena For Democratic Lovefest

      When Clinton took the stage around 930 p.m., she noted the significant lead Sanders holds on her in the polls for New Hampshire’s primary (which drew boos from the remaining Sanders supporters), but said she refused to give up on trying to win the state. Like Sanders, she also stuck closely to her typical stump speech, but her supporters (a good number of whom were applauding while seated in the media section) lapped it up and applauded with the thunder stix passed out by the campaign.

    • Ted Cruz’s Logo Is Hilariously Appropriate

      “A transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) is an ultrasound technique that is used to view a man’s prostate and surrounding tissues. The ultrasound transducer (probe) sends sound waves through the wall of the rectum into the prostate gland, which is located directly in front of the rectum.”

      Yup, that’s the very top Google result. Basically, it’s an anal probe.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Elliot D. Cohen

      Peter and Mickey spend the hour in coversation with Elliot D. Cohen. In his latest book, “The Technology of Oppression,” Cohen explores the many ways that federal agencies are spying on Americans, and offers proposals to rein in these invasions of privacy.

    • NSA reorganization to combine offense, defense

      The plan, which the agency calls NSA21, is expected to be detailed publicly next week. A congressman who has been briefed and a former intelligence official described the outlines to The Baltimore Sun.

    • Windows 10 telemetry network traffic analysis, 30-hour update

      In 30 hours of idling on the default installation, there are a total of 113 non-private network ip addresses that this installation of Windows 10 Enterprise wants to connect to.

      Requests for anti-telemetry app/operating system testing: There have been several requests for different tests of various anti-telemetry apps, system configurations, and different operating systems. I would like to test these ideas out, and indeed I will do some testing, but I do not have the resources to test everything. If you have a specific request of testing that I can setup and walk away from until its time to compile the traffic data, let me know, and I’ll consider it.

      Firewall considerations: Many have taken the idea to incorporate these results into their own firewalls. Keep in mind that these results are ALL traffic from this test, including innocent connection attempts to the private network 192.168.1.0/24 as well as innocent connection requests to NTP. If you were to outright ban all the resulting traffic, you might lose some necessary functionality that you did not anticipate.

      Keep in mind that this is simply a hobby of curiosity of mine, and the results are the unscientific results of a hobbyist. If it’s useful to you, I’m glad to have helped.

  • Civil Rights

    • Rubio Takes A Trump-Like Tone On Immigration In New Hampshire

      Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has been offering increasingly tough talk on immigration as he steadily gains on Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in New Hampshire ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation primary on February 9.

      As Trump has won over angry crowds across the state with speeches linking immigration to crime and terrorism, Rubio has begun to mimic his hard-line stance.

    • A Nice Paragraph About Why Humans Are So Damn Paranoid

      This is just another way of saying that human intelligence evolved too fast for human emotions and morals to keep up. Either way, though, it sure rings true. Just take a look at the current presidential race. If any country should feel self-confident and safe, it’s the United States. But boy howdy, we sure don’t, do we?

    • Refugee Camps Are Factories for Terrorists? Not Really.

      Rawlence writes that no evidence emerged that Westgate was plotted in Dadaab. Yet Kenya used the attack to try to shut down the camp. The international community, especially the United States, reiterated its support for the Kenyan government and largely ignored the abuses committed in its war on terror.

    • When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine

      Did Hillary Clinton really win the diversionary spectacle known as the Iowa Caucuses by two-tenths of a percent? Probably not. But we will never know. Why? Because Bernie Sanders refuses to call the results into question and demand the release the raw vote totals, which would likely show the senator won the actual vote by a decisive margin.

    • Let’s End Torture in U.S. Prisons

      Solitary confinement is exactly what it sounds like.

      A prisoner is kept in a small cell — usually 6 feet by 10 — alone, for 23 hours a day.

      For one hour a day, he or she may be taken into a small cage outside, with the opportunity to walk in circles before being taken back in. Even the outdoor cage can usually be opened and closed remotely.

      The idea is to keep the prisoner from having any human interaction. Those who’ve been through it call it a “living death.” The United Nations calls it torture.

    • Immigrant Mom Finally Released From Detention Center After Suffering 7 Seizures

      A Salvadoran woman who suffered seven seizures while being held in an immigration detention center has finally been released, according to officials in Texas. The woman’s release follows weeks of outcry from advocates who were concerned her health was deteriorating in detention without proper medical care.

      Susana Arévalo was arrested at the beginning of the new year in the first round of controversial immigration raids authorized by the Obama administration. Ever since, she’s been detained at the Dilley family detention center in Texas.

    • The Guantánamo in New York You’re Not Allowed to Know About

      Yet most of Hashi’s time in solitary confinement occurred before he had been deemed guilty by the justice system. Prolonged isolation prior to or in the absence of trial, sensory deprivation, and a lack of independent monitoring are normally associated with the detention center at Guantánamo Bay and CIA black sites overseas. But the MCC’s 10-South wing, which houses terrorism suspects, is no different in these respects. A former MCC prisoner and a psychologist specializing in trauma told The Intercept that the kind of extreme isolation imposed on defendants there can pressure them to accept a guilty plea, irrespective of actual guilt.

    • The Logic of Hunger Striking Palestinians: When Starvation Is a Weapon

      Under the “administrative detention” law, Israel has effectively held Palestinians and Arab prisoners without offering reasons for their arrests, practically since the state was founded in 1948. In fact, it is argued that this law which is principally founded on “secret evidence” dates back to the British Mandate government’s Emergency Regulations.

    • What Would It Take for the Government to Obtain Google’s Counter-Terror Ads Algos?

      Congress hasn’t passed legislation requiring tech companies to report their terrorist users. But does having Google use its algorithms to determine who is an extremist give the government a way to find out who Google thinks is an extremist?

    • Satanists Have Trolled A Major City Into Submission

      The move follows a 2014 Supreme Court decision that, ironically, was widely viewed as a huge blow to the separation of church and state when it was handed down. That impression, however, did not anticipate the Satanic Temple’s efforts to troll lawmakers who wish to begin their meetings with an endorsement of religion.

    • Bundy Militants Could be Forced to Repay $3.4 Million to Taxpayers Over Illegal Stunt

      An Oregon Democrat introduced legislation that would require Ammon Bundy and other out-of-state militants to repay taxpayers for the cost of their armed takeover of a wildlife sanctuary.

    • Terrifying Ted and his Ultra-Conservative Vision for America

      According to Cruz, he will have the right as president to dictate to the rest of the world how they should live because, as his campaign states, “The United States of America is the exceptional nation, the nation other countries aspire to be like. We should stand as a shining beacon of what free people enjoying a free market and system of government can achieve.” And if the “free people” of other nations should decide that they don’t want to live in a free market under a US-style liberal democratic government then we will just have to force them to because they simply don’t know what’s best for them. In actuality, Cruz doesn’t really care about their freedom anyway. Upon assuming office he intends to “prioritize American national security interests in every instance” by strengthening the military to ensure the continuation of US imperialism throughout the globe.

    • NYPD Throws People Out of Their Homes Without Ever Proving Criminal Activity

      It is not unusual for cities (both large and small) to have nuisance abatement laws that allow for landlords or government officials to evict people from residences when there’s chronic illegal behavior taking place there. Often it’s tied to the relentless, doomed war against drugs and vice, trying to shut down drug dens and brothels (that exist because of the black market the bans create in the first place, but never mind).

    • The only plan B for Europe is rebuilding power for change

      Europeans today are caught between a failing and undemocratic EU and equally failing and undemocratic national states. As Yanis Varoufakis prepares to launch a new movement for the democratisation of the EU, what’s the way out of the impasse?

    • A different Europe or bust

      As David Cameron’s renegotiation nears its uneventful conclusion, the big picture of what kind of Europe we want to live in is in danger of being lost. What can we do to change it?

    • After Brexit: the Eurosceptic vision of an Anglosphere future

      In the last couple of decades, eurosceptics have developed the idea that Britain’s future lies with a group of “Anglosphere” countries, not with a union of European states. At the core of this Anglosphere are the “five eyes” countries (so-called because of intelligence cooperation) of the UK, USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Each, it is argued, share a common history, language and political culture: liberal, protestant, free market, democratic and English-speaking. Sometimes the net is cast wider, to encompass Commonwealth countries and former British colonies, such as India, Singapore and Hong Kong. But the emotional and political heart of the project resides in the five eyes nations.

    • Someone in New Hampshire Is Leaving These Anti-Immigration Fliers on Cars

      At some point during Hillary Clinton’s rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on Saturday night, I got a note on my car. Thankfully it was not a parking ticket—closer inspection revealed that it was single-page double-sided leaflet hitting both Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders for their position on immigration. It accuses Sanders of choosing “to value current and future Hispanic votes over progressive principles” by supporting a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. And it asks Clinton, “Should the President of the United States primarily represent the interests of American families or the interests of families of other countries who have entered the United States illegally?”

    • LKY’S VINDICTIVE LEGACY: A S’POREAN POLITICAL REFUGEE DIES IN THE U.S.

      Francis Seow, once a high-ranking Singaporean official, died on Jan. 21 in the United States, where he had spent the past 25 years as a refugee from the late Lee Kuan Yew’s petty vindictiveness. He died at the age of 88 in Boston, where he was an adjunct professor at Harvard University.

      Singapore has supposedly loosened up in its treatment of dissidents. However, the cases of Roy Ngerng, who dared to question the operation of Singapore’s Central Provident Fund earned him a libel suit that bankrupted him from Lee’s son, the current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and teenager Amos Yee, who was temporarily committed to a mental ward for an obscenity-filled video criticizing the country, show that it hasn’t lightened up that much.

      But what Lee ordered up for Seow is a prime example of just how far the elder Lee would go to crush his enemies.

      After two years as the island republic’s solicitor general, Seow quit in 1972 and went into private practice. He was also appointed senior counsel to a Commission of Inquiry after Chinese students boycotted an examination in 1963. He had the cheek to challenge Lee on several different fronts, and he paid for it by losing his country.

    • GOP chairman warns Obama of deadline for Gitmo plan

      The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is pressing President Obama to share his plan for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility ahead of a February deadline.

      The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires the administration to send Congress a “comprehensive strategy” by Feb. 23 on how to detain current and future prisoners.

      “So far, the only communication Congress has received regarding the administration’s intention to comply with its legal obligations is [Defense] Secretary [Ash] Carter’s recent public statements,” Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) wrote in a letter to Obama released publically Thursday.

    • Overnight Defense: Bill would require women to register for draft

      Women would be required to register for the draft under a bill introduced Thursday by Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), two veterans.

      Hunter said he introduced the bill to force Congress to consider the ramifications of the Pentagon’s recent decision to open all combat jobs to women. The Marine veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and member of the House Armed Service Committee has been a vocal opponent of that move.

    • Guantanamo’s Last Year
    • UN rights experges urge US to close Guantanamo
    • The National Shame Still Remains, Guantanamo’s 14th Birthday
    • The Racial Subtext To The GOP’s Immigration Policies

      There is a strong racial context and subtext to the debate about immigration reform taking place in the GOP presidential primary.

      Frontrunner Donald Trump rocketed to the top of the polls after saying Mexican immigrants were “rapists,” “drug dealers,” and “criminals,” and as his campaign has gotten stronger and stronger, his opponents have raced to keep up and show just how tough they are on the immigration issue.

    • The impossibility of the citizen terrorist

      The goal, in the words of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, is to make a “strong symbolic act against those who have excluded themselves from the national community.”

    • The Rule of Law Enforcement

      THE VITAL STATISTICS of my stomping grounds here at Three Rivers, then, are as follows. The prison is home to a bit more than 1,000 inmates, of whom about 60 percent are Mexican nationals, another 20 percent are U.S. Hispanics, 10 percent are black, 5 percent are Latin American, and 5 percent are white (the ofay percentage of 15 percent I cited last time appears to have been out of date). About half of the Mexicans “run with” (institutional slang for “are affiliated with”) the Paisas, a relatively amorphous prison gang that draws its ranks almost exclusively from Mexican nationals; a smaller percentage of U.S. Hispanics run with Tango Blast, a more organized gang with a much cooler name; while blacks and whites for purposes of prison riots and dining arrangements both act mostly as race-based units.

    • VIDEO: Bernie Sanders and Larry David on SNL Together Was as Hilarious as You’d Imagine

      Comedian David dedicated a long bit on “Saturday Night Live” to a mashup of his character on his HBO show “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and the Sanders presidential campaign.

      And that’s not all that happened: The Vermont senator joined his doppelgänger on stage in a comical sketch about inequality.

    • British press ‘most right-wing’ in Europe

      It’s a common criticism of the British press that journalists are too biased, although it can be hard to tell which side they are supposed to favour. The BBC is a case in point – in the run up to the election Labour criticised it for giving such prominence to fears over a deal with the SNP, and at a similar time Nigel Farage became outraged after being booed on Question Time. It was a “remarkable audience even by the left-wing standards of the BBC”, he said.

    • Ex-CIA chief Petraeus’ former lover escapes probe in leaked military secrets case
    • ‘Eyewash’: How the CIA deceives its own workforce about operation
    • ‘Playing with fire’: CIA intentionally misled employees with ‘eyewash’ practice
    • How the CIA deliberately misleads its own employees by spreading false information in internal memos

      The CIA misleads its own staff by sending its employees false memos known as ‘eyewash’ that deliberately mask details about killings, drone strikes and other clandestine activities, it is claimed.

      The practice begins when a regular internal memo is distributed to wider groups of staff containing false advice about operations or agency sources.

      A second memo is then sent to a much smaller, select group, explicitly telling them to disregard the previous instructions and passing on the real information.

    • FBI creates Facebook page in Farsi for case of missing CIA agent who has a $5million recovery reward after he vanished in 2007
    • CIA’s ‘Queen of Torture’ who was inspiration for Jessica Chastain’s character in Zero Dark Thirty secretly married her former supervisor who openly calls for war between Sunnis and Shias

      A CIA official nicknamed the ‘Queen of Torture’ secretly married a former supervisor who openly called for war between the Sunnis and Shias.

      Alfreda, whose last name authorities are taking pains to protect, is believed to have married Michael Scheuer, who was her boss in the 1990s, more than a year ago.

    • Secrets of Donald Trump’s Cult: This Is Why the Angriest White Voters Will Not Leave His Side

      Donald Trump is a political cult leader. In that role, he is also a political necromancer, beating a drum of nativism and fear to control the right-wing political zombies that follow him.

      The Republican Party’s base of voters is rapidly shrinking. Contemporary conservatism is a throwback ideology that is unpopular with a large and growing segment of the American public. The result of these two factors is a Republican Party and American conservative establishment that is under threat, obsolescent and in a deep existential crisis.

    • 5 Worst Foreign Policy Moments of GOP New Hampshire Debate

      Virtually the only good thing anyone knows about the sleazy Ted Cruz is that he came out against torture.

    • Obama Condemns hatred of Muslim-Americans, Affirms their Importance to Nation

      President Obama spoke Wednesday at a Baltimore mosque in an explicit pushback against the hatred for Muslims being promoted by billionaire real estate developer Donald J. Trump and others among the Republican presidential candidates.

    • Number of Victims of Female Genital Mutilation Is 70 Million Higher Than Thought

      The real scale of female genital mutilation (FGM) worldwide has been revealed in alarming new statistics on the eve of International Day of Zero Tolerance of FGM. At least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone ritual cutting, half of them living in just three countries, according to UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency.

    • Facing Execution at 72, Georgia’s Oldest Death Row Inmate Exposes Death Penalty’s Racist Roots

      Evidence that the state’s death penalty was racially biased was a major contributing factor that led to Furman v. Georgia, the landmark Supreme Court case that in 1972 suspended the death penalty across the country. (The plaintiff, William Henry Furman, was a black man deemed “mentally impaired” by a state psychiatrist, who had been convicted in a one-day trial in Savannah.) Furman forced states to amend their death penalty statutes to avoid the “arbitrary and discriminatory” imposition of capital punishment.

      Just four years later, the Supreme Court upheld Georgia’s new death penalty law in Gregg v. Georgia. Yet the law showed clear continuity with decades past: Of the first dozen people to die in the electric chair following Gregg, nine were black.

    • Overwhelmingly White Maryland County Bans All School Field Trips To Baltimore

      Elected officials in Baltimore blasted the decision. “When I heard about this continuing ban on school travel to Baltimore, I was, frankly, totally flummoxed. It seems so outrageous as to be actually sad,” said Brooke Lierman, a Maryland delegate who represents Baltimore.

      Harford schools did modify the ban to allow students to compete in sporting events in Baltimore saying such activities take place in “more controlled environments” and may have “playoff implications.”

    • Jeb Bush, Debate Audience Destroy Donald Trump for Loving Eminent Domain

      Donald Trump still supports eminent domain—the government-backed confiscation of private property—but his stance earned a harsh rebuke from Jeb Bush and a round of boos from the audience at the Republican debate.

    • Lies, Correctness and Oliver Kamm

      In this interview with LBC Oliver Kamm went on to insult and lambast me and say that I claimed that the rape charges were founded on political correctness. I tried to point out that I said no such thing, but LBC had cut me off. LBC later put up the version you hear on that link in which Kamm’s remarks are given in full and my own are edited. But it is very plain indeed that I did not say what Kamm goes on to accuse me of saying.

      [...]

      Kamm’s reactionary friends can congratulate him all they like. What he is doing is spreading a deliberate lie about me. But it may just lead to a few more people researching what is really happening in the Assange case, and that would be karma.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Pharma Executives Worry About Presidential Candidates Demanding Reform

      Pfizer, since the beginning of last month, has raised prices an average of 10.6 percent for more than 60 branded products. Bloomberg reports that prices have doubled over the last year for over 60 brand-name drugs.

      Meanwhile, PhRMA has reportedly invested in a new marketing campaign to boost the image of the industry.

    • Copyrights

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