31 August 2018

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!

Still no bank closings this year, but we have had 2 credit union closings this month:
  1. Ukrainian Future Credit Union, Warren, MI (Forced Merger on 18 August)
  2. Melrose Credit Union, Briarwood, NY (today)
Not sure why credit unions are failing, and banks are not.

Here is the Full NCUA list.

Andrew "Rat Faced Andy" Cuomo Does it Again

What a surprise, Andrew Cuomo's free tuition at state schools program does not apply to over 2/3 of applicants:
After New York officials announced a plan to pay college tuition for middle-class students last year, Domonique Baker was pretty sure she would qualify for the money.

“When I first heard about the scholarship, I read everything,” the now 27-year-old hospital registration representative said. Through her research, Baker learned that she met what she thought were the major requirements: Her annual income was below the $110,000 maximum and she was pursuing a bachelor’s degree at one of New York’s public universities, SUNY-New Paltz. Baker filled out the application and waited to hear back, calling multiple times to check up on her status.

Shortly before she was set to start her last year of classes, Baker said learned she didn’t qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship, as it’s known, because she was attending school part-time, balancing her schedule with a full-time job working overnights at a hospital. “It was marketed to middle-class families and working families and, unfortunately, everybody’s reality is different,” Baker said, adding that hers includes a full-time job.

Just over 20,000 students received the Excelsior Scholarship last year or about 3.2% of the state’s 633,543 undergraduates during the 2017-2018 academic year, according to an analysis of New York State higher education data released last week by the Center for an Urban Future, a New York City-based think tank focused on economic equity.


Perhaps more telling of Excelsior’s challenges than the relatively low number of students receiving the scholarship is the number of students who were rejected. Of the 63,599 students who applied, 43,513 were denied or about 68%, Hilliard’s report found.

Those findings don’t jibe with numbers from the governor’s office, which found that roughly 95,000 students applied for the scholarship and between 22,000 and 23,000 ended receiving it.
Actually, they do: Both have a rejection rate of over 2/3.

This is a feature, not a bug.

Rat Faced Andy does not want to help the poor and middle class, and an even less educated populace, which might see through the bullsh%$ that he is serving up as meaningful government action.

He wanted credit for a political moment while creating a program that is small enough, and cruel enough, that he can kill it at a later date, because it does not help his rich donors.

FWIW, I did not coin the term "Rat Faced Andy". Spy magazine, the same rag that coined the term, "Short Fingered Vulgarian," to describe Trump, did.

30 August 2018

Oh, Snap!

US Telcom, a lobbying firm for the incumbent phone companies, just accidentally mailed it's strategy and talking points to a reporter.

Much hilarity ensues:
It's not every day that big telco lobbyists email me their internal documents about how they're going to try to shift all the negative press about themselves and try to flip it onto internet companies. But it did happen yesterday. In what was clearly a mistake a top exec at the telco's largest lobbying organization, USTelecom, emailed a 12 page document of talking points yesterday, asking the recipients to "review the document for accuracy and other thoughts" in order to help USTelecom President Jonathan Spalter for when he goes on C-SPAN next week. I found it a bit odd that I would be on the distribution list for such an email -- especially when 13 of the 15 recipients of the email were US Telecom employees. And me. The one other non-US Telecom person works at a firm that provides "subject matter experts" and "in-depth legal analysis."

The talking points are not all that surprising, if you're at all familiar with the telco industry, so there aren't really any huge smoking guns here, but they do cover a huge range of issues, from net neutrality, competition, privacy, cybersecurity, and more. Amusingly, on the net neutrality front, there's a section on "Verizon Throttling Fire Responders." Tragically, that appears to be one of the few sections in the document that they hadn't yet filled in yet -- perhaps because the industry still doesn't have a good response to Verizon throttling fire fighters in California as they were battling wildfires.

One thing that's clear, however, is that the big telcos really want to play up the recent attacks on social media companies ("edge providers," as they like to say), and throughout the document there are statements about taking advantage of the current political attacks on those companies. For example, in the "Privacy" section, the talking points for Salter appear to be for him to try to pivot to making it about Facebook and Google as quickly as possible, saying they are the bigger risks:

29 August 2018

Well, this is Amazing

A Dallas jury has convicted former Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver of the murder of 15 year old Jordan Edwards .

It's amazing because the Jury convicted a white cop who killed a black child.

It's amazing because his partner testified that Oliver's justification for the shooting was complete pants.

It's amazing that this happened in Texas.

More of this.

Not Surprised, but Appalled

The invaluable Murray Waas has been digging, and he has discovered that the Trump administration knew about Michael Flynn and his lying to the FBI before the WaPo reported it, but did nothing:
In early February 2017, a senior White House attorney, John Eisenberg, reviewed highly classified intelligence intercepts of telephone conversations between then-National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Russia’s ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, which incontrovertibly demonstrated that Flynn had misled the FBI about those conversations, according to government records and two people with first-hand knowledge of the matter. It was after this information was relayed to President Trump that the president fired Flynn, and the following day allegedly pressured then-FBI Director James Comey to shut down a federal criminal investigation into whether Flynn had lied to the FBI.

Eisenberg reviewed the intercepts on or about February 2, 2017, according to confidential White House records and two former White House officials. Despite the fact that not only Eisenberg but presumably also other senior White House officials learned this information, they apparently took no immediate action. Only on February 8, 2017—after The Washington Post contacted the White House to say that it was about to publish a story about the intercepts showing that Flynn had lied about his conversations with Kislyak—did administration officials do anything. That same day, confidential White House records indicate, then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, White House Counsel Don McGahn, and Eisenberg directly confronted Flynn about what they learned from the intercepts. On February 10, Vice President Mike Pence, Preibus, and McGahn spoke to Flynn again, but received no satisfactory explanations from him, and recommended to President Trump that Flynn be fired. On February 13, 2017, Flynn resigned.

A former senior White House official, with first-hand knowledge of the matter, expressed disbelief at the inaction: “You have a White House lawyer learning that the national security adviser to the president of the Untied States has possibly lied—about his contacts with Russians—not only to his own White House, but also to the FBI, which is a potential felony, and nobody does anything?” The person added: “I have no reason to question John Eisenberg’s integrity or that he is an exceptional attorney. I guess I buy into narrative that this was a White House in disarray, because the alternative is too painful to contemplate.”
This is f%$#ed up and sh%$.

When you have tapes showing that your f%$#ing National Security Advisor f%$#ing lied to the f%$#ing FBI, and then this guy f%$# lies to you, and you f%$#ing do nothing until the f%$#ing Washington f%$#ing Post publishes a story about it?

This takes dysfunctional to a whole new level.

Oh, My!

Last year, a political firestorm erupted when journalists revealed that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer David Boies gave $10,000 to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. in the months after Vance declined to prosecute the movie producer on sexual assault charges. Now, less than a year later, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has halted an investigation into the handling of the Weinstein case just as Boies’ law firm gave Cuomo’s campaign $25,000, according to state records reviewed by Capital & Main and Sludge.

The controversies spotlight ongoing questions about whether law enforcement actions in New York are being inappropriately influenced by campaign donations.

Amid explosive headlines about Boies’ donations to Vance and the district attorney’s decision not to prosecute Weinstein, Cuomo in March called for the New York Attorney General’s office to investigate the handling of the case, which revolved around accusations that Weinstein groped an Italian model.

While Vance in May opted to reverse course and charge the Hollywood producer, Cuomo declared that an investigation into Vance’s original decision to not prosecute Weinstein was necessary because, the governor said, “it is critical not only that these cases are given the utmost attention but also that there is public confidence in the handling of these cases.”

However, BuzzFeed on Tuesday reported that Cuomo reversed himself in June, sending a letter to New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood asking her to suspend the investigation for six months. The suspension effectively shields Boies from scrutiny of any potential relationship between his 2015 donation to Vance and Vance’s decision not to prosecute Weinstein.

Cuomo’s June order came six days after Boies, Schiller & Flexner gave $25,000 to Cuomo’s reelection campaign, according to New York campaign finance records. In all, Boies and his law firm have given Cuomo’s gubernatorial campaigns more than $245,000 since 2009.
A Cuomo Flack is now claiming that they didn't want to interfere with the Weinstein investigation.

If you believe that, I'm sure that Rat Faced Andy Cuomo* has a bridge concession in Brooklyn that he wants to discuss with you.

There was a debate tonight between Cuomo and Nixon, and it appears that this bit of creative finance did not come up. (Go figure)

*Not my bon mot. Spy magazine, the same one that described Trump as a, "Short fingered vulgarian," coined that one.

Clearly, Self Driving Cars are Just Around the Corner

Arizona is working very, very, hard to make itself the go to location, largely by subsidies and lax regulations.

It appears that these efforts are beginning to annoy the locals, who have come to hate the rolling roadblocks:
Alphabet’s Waymo unit is a worldwide leader in autonomous vehicle development for suburban environments. It has said it would launch a driverless robo-taxi service to suburban Phoenix residents this year. Yet its self-driving minivan prototypes have trouble crossing the T-intersection closest to the company’s Phoenix-area headquarters here.

Two weeks ago, Lisa Hargis, an administrative assistant who works at an office a stone’s throw from Waymo’s vehicle depot, said she nearly hit a Waymo Chrysler Pacifica minivan because it stopped abruptly while making a right turn at the intersection. “Go!” she shouted angrily, she said, after getting stuck in the intersection midway through her left turn. Cars that had been driving behind the Waymo van also stopped. “I was going to murder someone,” she said.
This is literally the most self-driving car corner in the world. It's right next ti Waymo HQ, and it still does not work.*
The hesitation at the intersection is one of many flaws evident in Waymo’s technology, say five people with direct knowledge of the issues in Phoenix. More than a dozen local residents who frequently encounter one of the hundreds of Waymo test vehicles circulating in the area complained about sudden moves or stops. The company’s safety drivers—individuals who sit in the driver’s seat—regularly have to take control of the wheel to avoid a collision or potentially unsafe situation, the people said.

Suburban Phoenix, with its generally flat, straight roads and relatively light traffic, has been an ideal test location for Waymo and other developers of autonomous vehicles. Apple, which is working on its own self-driving car, recently set up a facility for testing prototype vehicles near Surprise, Ariz., west of Phoenix, according to a person briefed about the matter, a move that hasn’t previously been reported. (An Apple spokesman didn’t comment.) Uber was conducting tests in the area until it halted activity after a deadly collision in March.

But Waymo’s experience in the Phoenix surroundings is the latest evidence that it could be many years before fully autonomous vehicles replace human drivers, even in relatively easy driving environments, at any meaningful scale. While established automakers like Ford and GM, as well as startups like Aurora Innovation and Voyage, also are making incremental advances, the race to make such vehicles an everyday reality hasn’t progressed far beyond the starting line, say people in the field.
This is why self-driving car "experts" are suggesting things like basically banning pedestrians.

This stuff is not ready for prime time.


I now knows a 2nd person uninvited to John McCain's funeral, Sarah Louise Heath Palin:
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has reportedly not been invited to attend funeral services for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), her onetime running mate.

NBC News reported Wednesday that Palin had not been invited. A source within the Palin family told NBC News that “out of respect to Senator McCain and his family we have nothing to add at this point.”
I know that this should not amuse me so much, but it does.

My Hands Hurt

I just spent a LONG time deboning and trimming about 12 pounds of lamb neck.

On the bright side, all those bones, and sinew, are going into the oven for a quick roast, and then into a crock pot, and I am making a sh%$ load of stock.

It's all good.

28 August 2018

Another Progressive Upset

Andrew Gillum who was massively outspent by his opponents, won the Democratic primary for Governor in Florida.

Here is my favorite bit:
“My opponents have spent, together, over $90 million in this race. We have spent four” million, he said. “Money doesn’t vote. People do.”

Mr. Gillum edged Ms. Graham, a former North Florida congresswoman who finished second, and Mr. Levine, the former Miami Beach mayor who finished third after dropping nearly $30 million of his personal fortune into the campaign. Ms. Graham, a moderate, had been considered the favorite in a midterm year in which many Democratic women have fared well.
Also this:
Mr. Gillum’s unexpected nomination represents a sharp break with recent Florida midterm elections in which Democratic voters nominated somewhat bland moderates to try to win in a purple state. Instead, they lost over and over again: Democrats have not held the Florida governor’s mansion in two decades, and they lost the past two governor’s elections by a single percentage point.
Yes, they ran a colorless candidate and then a former Republican political hack and they both lost to governor Bat Boy.

This time, the establishment wanted Bob Graham's kid, because nepotism works so well at getting candidates elected.

North Carolina Just Got Interesting

The appeals court has ruled that the Congressional districts in North Carolina are unconstitutional, and they may demand that the districts be redrawn before the election.

That's 10 weeks:
A panel of three federal judges again declared North Carolina’s congressional district map to be unconstitutional, ruling on Monday that it was gerrymandered to unfairly favor Republican candidates.

The decision, which may have significant implications for control of Congress after the midterm elections, is likely to be appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which for the moment is evenly split on ideological lines without a ninth justice to tip the balance.

Though North Carolina’s voters tend to divide about evenly between the two parties, Republicans currently hold 10 of the state’s 13 House seats. A redrawn district map may put more of the seats within Democrats’ reach.

The three judges had ruled unanimously in January that the state’s House map violated the First and 14th Amendments by unfairly giving one group of voters — Republicans — a bigger voice than others in choosing representatives.

But the Supreme Court declined in June to hear an appeal in the case, sending it back for reconsideration under guidelines it had set out in a different case about who had legal standing to challenge the map.

In a lengthy ruling on Monday, the panel reached largely the same conclusion that it had in January. And the judges agreed that the plaintiffs in the case — voting-rights advocacy groups and residents of each of North Carolina’s 13 districts — had standing to bring the suit.

The judges left open the possibility that they could order new maps to be drawn before the 2018 election, either by the North Carolina General Assembly or by a special master appointed by the court.
Pass the popcorn.

Ken Starr is Pond Scum

While he was trying to coverup sexual assaults by athletes at Baylor, he planted a mole to spy on sexual survivor support groups.

What an awful, evil,, pathetic, little man:
Baylor University infiltrated sexual assault survivor groups to shape PR strategy and talking points on how to handle the groups and student demonstrations, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

A Title IX lawsuit, filed by 10 unnamed former students, has alleged Baylor downplayed sexual assaults at the university. Some of the Jane Does say they were assaulted as far back as 2004, according to court documents.………

In the same month that Ukwuachu was convicted, Baylor’s office of general counsel retained [big league PR flacks] Ketchum for comms support, according to Jason Cook, Baylor’s VP for marketing and comms and CMO.

James Peters, former partner and director of Ketchum South, served as the account lead. A Ketchum representative declined to make Peters available for comment.


One source familiar with the matter identified the "mole" as Matt Burchett, director of student activities at Baylor, whose job is to coordinate student pursuits such as picnics, parties, and demonstrations. The source said Burchett, acting as a liaison with university officials, played damage control on their behalf.

Burchett helped to arrange demonstrations for survivor groups and passed on what he learned to school officials and the communications department, sources said.

"Baylor had – I don’t know what else you’d call it – a mole that would interact with survivor groups," said the source.


When these groups organized on campus to comfort each other and demand action from former chancellor Kenneth Starr, "[Burchett] would coordinate with them, befriend them, and pretend he was helping them organize vigils and demonstrations [about] sexual assault," the source added.

Burchett would pass on what he learned to school officials, the communications department, and Ketchum, the source added. In an email described to PRWeek, Kevin Jackson, VP of student life and Burchett’s supervisor, said the director of student activities was "adept at this kind of thing."


[Baylor VP for Marketing and Communications Jason] Cook objected to the notion that Burchett collected information without the survivor groups’ knowledge. When counsel for the plaintiffs deposed Burchett on July 31, "[Burchett] indicated in his deposition testimony that he had advised the students up front that he would be coordinating with university personnel, including media, security, parking, facilities, pastoral care, and so on," Cook said. "This is standard operating procedure for any significant student event on our university campus."


Since 2015, Baylor has jettisoned administration and athletic department officials, including former head football coach Art Briles, former athletic director Ian McCaw, and former chancellor Starr
Spying on rape survivors to undermine their efforts:  What a bunch of contemptible excuses for human beings.

27 August 2018

Today in ……… D'oh!!!!

I have so been there.

Like at DMCA Takedown Notices ……… On Acid

It appears that abuse and misuse of the DMCA, with its lawsuits against printer ink manufacturers and extortion by corrupt lawyers has not informed the people in Washington, DC, who want to legalize revenge hacking, which, of course, will be outsourced to incompetent and malicious contractors:
Imagine this: Facebook is set to release a slew of shiny new features designed to win back users and increase engagement. But before it can release its products, Renren (one of China’s Facebook clones) releases the same features across its platform, beating Facebook to the punch. Infuriated, Facebook security officials claim they know with near certainty that their plans were stolen by a hacker on behalf of the Chinese social-media giant. Some furious employees put in motion a plan to load a devastating malware attack on the hackers’ networks as payback.

Is that even legal? Can Facebook retaliate with a hack of its own? Under current U.S. law, the answer is no, but a growing number of legislators are attempting to change that. Yesterday, Rhode Island Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse became the most recent lawmaker to express support for revenge hacking.

“We ought to think hard about how and when to license hack-back authority so capable, responsible private-sector actors can deter foreign aggression,” Whitehouse said. “If [a major CEO] wanted permission to figure out how to hack back, I don’t think he’d know what agency’s door to knock on to actually give him an answer.”

Hacking back (also known as revenge hacking) involves a retaliatory response by a private company or an individual after they are attacked by a malicious actor. While anyone can monitor and enforce their own network and devices, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act prevents people from going a step further and hacking into someone else’s network, even if they were hacked first. In his recent book, The Perfect Weapon, journalist David Sanger likens hacking back to a retaliatory home invader.

“It’s illegal, just as it’s illegal to break into the house of someone who robbed your house in order to retrieve your property,” Sanger writes.
The idea that legalizing hacking by Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos will make anyone any safer is a corrupt fiction.

They're Bond villains, and granting them immunity to pull this crap will end in tragedy.

Quote of the Day

Anyone..Close To President Trump Is Getting A Legal Colonoscopy
Marc Lotter, Mike Pence's former press secretary

Tweet of the Day

Yeah, pretty much.


This cut away about McCain's death is marvelously surreal. (watch the whole thing)

26 August 2018

You Cannot Read This without Hearing an Australian Accent

The existing Liberal Party (actually conservative) Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, was turfed out, and the slavering reactionary racist who engineered his departure, Peter Dutton, was unable to properly count votes, so he did not succeed.

This essay about these developments, is perhaps the most Australian thing ever: (Evah, Mate)
Go Home C%$#, Says Nation


The nation of Australia has extended a polite request to the Former Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton today.

Australia as a collective country has asked the highway cop from the Sunshine Coast to ‘please, go home, c%$#.’

The request comes after Peter Dutton, and his conservative backbench allies and media backers have held the country to ransom over the last fortnight, in a vain attempt to “regain control” of the Liberal Party of Australia.

After destabilising the Coalition Government for months, Dutton looked crushed this afternoon after realising he isn’t very good at counting and had to come to terms with losing the leadership ballot.

Scott Morrison won the leadership ballot 45-40 against Dutton, with Josh Frydneberg taking the reigns as Deputy Prime Minister after edging out Greg Hunt.

After it was announced that Scott Morrison will be the next Prime Minister of Australia, it was confirmed that Peter Dutton, the man who walked out on the National Apology to the Stolen Generations, should just head back to the Sunshine Coast and look out for people changing lanes without an indicator.

Whether, Dutton, the man who refused to bring asylum-seeking children needing urgent medical attention to Australia, will in fact just go home remains to be seen.
(%$# mine)

This is beautiful.

What a Surprise: Trigger Happy Militarized Policing Does Not Make Us Safer

As a result of of a Maryland law requiring SWAT raids to be documented, a study has shown that SWAT teams do nothing to make the public, and the cops, safer:
A study has been released confirming what many have suspected: militarization of law enforcement doesn't make communities safer, has zero effect on officer safety, and is rarely deployed as advertised when agencies make pitches for the acquisition of military gear.

The most frequent recipient of military tools and training are SWAT teams. Professor Jonathan Mummolo's research -- published by the National Academy of Sciences -- gained unprecedented access to SWAT deployment numbers, thanks to a public records request and a Maryland state law requiring documentation of every SWAT raid performed. (That law was allowed to expire by legislators who apparently felt it provided too much transparency and accountability.)

With these numbers, Mummolo was able to compare SWAT deployments to other stats, as well as see just how often SWAT teams were deployed to handle dangerous situations like robberies, shootings, hostage-taking, etc. What he discovered was, sadly, unsurprising. Police officials talk about the necessity of SWAT teams and military gear using references to barricaded suspects, terrorist attacks, active shooters…. pretty much anything but what they actually use them for. From the paper [PDF]:

[R]oughly 90% of SWAT deployments in that state over 5 fiscal years were conducted to serve search warrants. Previous work has shown that the use of SWAT teams to serve warrants, a practice which escalated as a result of the war on drugs, is an extremely disruptive event in the lives of citizens and often involves percussive grenades, battering rams, substantial property damage, and in rare cases deadly altercations stemming from citizens’ mistaken belief that they are experiencing a home invasion. [...] less than 5% of deployments involved a “barricade” scenario, which typically involves an armed suspect refusing to surrender to police. Violence to people and animals is rare, and gun shots are fired 1.2% of the time—roughly 100 deployments during this period. While the data suggest that indiscriminate violence is less common than some anecdotal reports suggest, they also show that the vast majority of SWAT deployments occur in connection with non-emergency scenarios, predominately to serve search warrants.
Similarly unsurprising is data showing SWAT teams are deployed far more often in areas with a higher concentration of African American residents. Mummolo's research shows a 10% increase in African American population resulted in a 10.5% increase in SWAT deployments. 


All the gear obtained by police agencies to make officers safer doesn't seem to have an effect on officer safety. The data shows negligible effects on officer injuries or deaths. Despite being touted as essential tools to combat a supposed increase in criminal firepower, SWAT teams and their military gear spend more time serving warrants than facing dangerous situations. Maryland SWAT stats -- compared against other data reported by law enforcement agencies -- results in this conclusion:
[T]here is no evidence that acquiring a SWAT team lowers crime or promotes officer safety.
Surveys conducted by Mummolo show SWAT teams -- and police militarization in general -- have a negative effect on public perception. SWAT teams make the places they're frequently deployed seem less safe, even if crime stats don't back that up. Dressing up in military gear increases distrust of the law enforcement agency -- something especially pronounced in African American respondents.

Mummolo's conclusion, based on stats supplied by law enforcement agencies, is devastating. And it's likely to be ignored by every law enforcement agency in Maryland.
Live in obedient fear, citizen.

The Devil is in the Details

I'm cynical enough about the Democratic Party establishment to wonder what sort of trap is in the small print.
The Democratic National Committee voted Saturday to neutralize the votes of unpledged convention delegates, part of a package of hard-fought reforms designed to prevent a repeat of the bitter 2016 presidential primary as the party looks toward the 2020 election.

“We listened and we acted, and I’m proud that our party is doing everything we can to bring people in and make it easier to vote,” said DNC Chairman Tom Perez after the reforms were unanimously approved.

The new party rules undo decades-old reforms that empowered hundreds of party activists and elected officials, often referred to as “superdelegates,” whose presidential convention votes were not bound to the results of primaries or caucuses. They also affirm the decision of six states to move from caucuses, which have favored insurgent candidates, to primaries, which tend to have higher turnout.

The Democrats’ journey to that decision lasted more than two years, and divided party leaders even as activists who had supported both Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) organized behind them. Anger at the results of that primary campaign, and at Clinton’s defeat, has dogged the DNC under Perez’s leadership; despite a run of election wins, it has raised $116.5 million since the start of the cycle, compared with $227.2 million for the RNC.


“This is a way for us to heal the wounds of the 2016 election,” Martin said in an interview before the vote. “Minnesota was a 62 percent Bernie state. People cared about this. We were dealing with a perception problem more than a reality problem, but that perception problem mattered. People believed so passionately that this issue cost their candidate the nomination, that we had to fix it.”


Perez and other delegate reform supporters succeeded in weakening the establishment opposition by giving it more time to protest. But the opposition made one final push, picking up on a theme that the Congressional Black Caucus had aired last month — that to take away the votes of black superdelegates was to effectively suppress them. The unofficial leaders of that faction, former party chair Don Fowler and California DNC member Bob Mulholland, are white. But Mulholland, a gruff Vietnam veteran, invoked the legacy of the civil rights movement to argue that his party risked alienating its most loyal voters to appease a faction of elite Sanders fans.


Perez and other delegate reform supporters succeeded in weakening the establishment opposition by giving it more time to protest. But the opposition made one final push, picking up on a theme that the Congressional Black Caucus had aired last month — that to take away the votes of black superdelegates was to effectively suppress them. The unofficial leaders of that faction, former party chair Don Fowler and California DNC member Bob Mulholland, are white. But Mulholland, a gruff Vietnam veteran, invoked the legacy of the civil rights movement to argue that his party risked alienating its most loyal voters to appease a faction of elite Sanders fans.


But that message did not unify the DNC’s black members, some of whom pointed out that the 2016 pool of superdelegates skewed whiter than the delegates elected through primaries. While former party chair Donna Brazile gave a 10-minute speech decrying the reform, Nina Turner, president of the Sanders-founded group Our Revolution, whipped votes in favor of it.

“Real voter disenfranchisement is living in a state where you forfeit your rights if you’re a felon,” Turner said. “Real disenfranchisement is officials closing down polling places that disproportionately affect black voters. This is a false equivalency, to talk about something that happens in the DNC and compare it to the hard, bloody fight to secure the franchise in the real world.”
The entire colloquy with representatives of CBC is depressing:  Even though the elimination of superdelegates makes the votes less white, "Superdelegates skewed whiter than the delegates elected through primaries," they are unwilling to look beyond their own personal prerogatives.

It's on par with James Clyburn's attacks on Bernie Sanders' proposal to eliminate tuition at public schools because it would be bad for the HBCUs.

There is way too much pulling up the ladder after themselves here.

25 August 2018

Good News from the Last Place You Would Expect

No. Really.

A blow for human decency in corrections was just struck by Texas prison system, literally the last place one would expect, where they have lowered the cost of inmate calls by 77%:
The Texas prison system on Friday voted to drastically slash the cost of inmate calls home by more than 75 percent with a new phone contract more favorable to inmates and their families.

Now, instead of paying an average of 26 cents per minute, prisoners will pay 6 cents per minute - no matter the destination of the call. Also, the limit on phone calls was increased from 20 minutes to 30 minutes.

"That is just fabulous, thank you so much - it means so much," said Jennifer Erschabek of the Texas Inmate Families Association. "I'm speechless."

The shift, which drew accolades from lawmakers and activists alike, comes amid national conversations about the price of prison phone calls. Last year, a federal court struck down an Obama-era Federal Communications Commission rule that would have capped the costs at 11 cents per minute.

Though that was seen as a blow to the hard-fought efforts of inmate advocates nationwide, Friday's contract approval represented a win for advocates in the Lone Star State.

"This should have done it a long time ago," said state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston. "I've raised hell for years about how they were gouging inmates and their families."

Currently, a 15-minute call usually costs around $3.90, officials said at the Texas Board of Criminal Justice meeting.

Starting Sept. 1 when the new contract takes effect, a typical 15-minute call will cost just 90 cents.
The idea that the Texas correctional system would do something this humane truly boggles the mind.

Sarah Palin's 2008 Running Mate Just Died

John McCain has died at age 81 of brain cancer.

There is an argument that one should not speak ill of the dead, but John McCain was a public figure, and his fans will no doubt use this as an opportunity to shape his legacy, so I feel that speaking the truth is essential at this juncture in any public forum except for his funeral or wake.

In my case, I will start with a list of positive things about his positive contributions to the public discourse and public policy in his time in American politics:
That is all.

It's Teach Your Daughter to Drink Day

Tasting List Pictured
Today, the family went to an SCA demo at the Royal Rabbit Vinayards.

Because we were a part of the entertainment, we got to do a tasting, so I sat with Natalie (I had to drive) while she tasted small samples of about a half-dozen wines.

I talked to her about how to use her nose, how to let all of her tongue to taste the wine, and what sort of foods are good for different sorts of wines.

Nat turned 21 in June, so it was a perfectly legal, though somewhat surreal, child parent bonding.

24 August 2018

I Simply Cannot Be to Cynical or Pessimistic Enough

The latest trial balloon floated by the Trump administration is using federal grant money to put guns IN schools.

I cannot even………
When Congress created its academic support fund three years ago, lawmakers had in mind a pot of money that would increase student access to art and music, mental health and technology programs at the nation’s most impoverished schools.

But back-to-back school shootings this year and inquiries from the state of Texas have prompted the education secretary, Betsy DeVos, to examine whether to allow states to tap the school enrichment fund for another purpose: guns.

Such a move would reverse a longstanding position taken by the federal government that it should not pay to outfit schools with weaponry. It would also undermine efforts by Congress to restrict the use of federal funding on guns. As recently as March, Congress passed a school safety bill that allocated $50 million a year to local school districts, but expressly prohibited the use of the money for firearms.

But the Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law in 2015, is silent on weapons purchases, and that omission would allow Ms. DeVos to use her discretion to approve or deny any state or district plans to use the enrichment grants under the measure for firearms and firearm training, unless Congress clarifies the law or bans such funding through legislative action.
The Every Student Succeeds Act is, "Silent on weapons purchases," because no one in their wildest dreams believed that someone so clueless and so bat sh%$ insane would be running the Department of Education.

Well, This Has "Dystopia" Written All Over It

There is now speculation that Facebook's new trustworthiness ratings will legally make it a credit rating agency.

I'd sooner get rated by the Chinese Social Credit System:
Facebook, it seems, has developed a system of rating users trustworthiness. It's not clear if this is just a system for internal use or if users' trustworthiness scores are for sale to third parties, but if the latter, then would sure seem that Facebook is a Consumer Reporting Agency and subject to CRA provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

FCRA defines a CRA as
any person which, for monetary fees, dues, or on a cooperative nonprofit basis, regularly engages in whole or in part in the practice of assembling or evaluating consumer credit information or other information on consumers for the purpose of furnishing consumer reports to third parties, and which uses any means or facility of interstate commerce for the purpose of preparing or furnishing consumer reports.

A consumer report is, in turn, defined as:
any written, oral, or other communication of any information by a consumer reporting agency bearing on a consumer’s credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living which is used or expected to be used or collected in whole or in part for the purpose of serving as a factor in establishing the consumer’s eligibility for [credit, insurance, employment or government license].
Thus, if Facebook is selling information about a consumer's general reputation—trustworthiness—to third parties that might reasonably be expected to use it for credit, insurance, or employment, it's a CRA, and that means it's subject to a host of regulatory requirements as well as civil liability, including statutory damages for willful noncompliance.
The author, Adam Levitin, clearly believes that this might subject Facebook to additional regulatory oversight as a CRA.

This ignores the fact that courts have ignored the text of the law to in order not apply this to similar entities.

Facebook sees a buck here, and the courts will not subject them to CRA regulation or potential liability, because in the USA, rich people do not have to follow the law.

The National Enquirer is Run by a Pecker

I Love NY Daily News Headlines
I have heard a number of people suggest that the scandal rag is run by a pecker.

Little did know that this was literally true, and that the schmuck has been granted immunity by prosecutors, which means that he can be forced to testify before a grand jury:
Prosecutors reportedly granted immunity to David Pecker, the CEO of the company that publishes National Enquirer, as part of their investigation into President Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen.

Pecker met with the prosecution to discuss Cohen's involvement in Trump's hush-money deals with women leading up to the 2016 presidential election, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Pecker has emerged as a central figure in the scandal involving the payments. CNN last month released audio of Trump and Cohen discussing payment to a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, in which Cohen apparently references Pecker, telling Trump that he needs “to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David."

Dylan Howard, the chief content officer at American Media, the Enquirer's publisher, will also not be criminally charged, according to the Journal. Neither the two men nor American Media responded to the newspaper's request for comment.Pecker's possible involvement in the payments first drew attention when The Wall Street Journal reported in November 2016 that the Enquirer had withheld a story about an alleged affair McDougal had with Trump.

The Enquirer reportedly paid McDougal $150,000 for a story about the alleged affair in 2006, but never published it.
Seriously, this is too absurd for a Blackadder series.

23 August 2018

Snark of the Day

Hillary Clinton steps back into the fray to fundraise for Democrats this fall NBC. So, this time will the Party actually get the money?
Naked Capitalism
Tru Dat

Quote of the Day

It's filled with white supremacists and sadists who understandably don't think there are any limits on or accountability for their behavior. Burning (metaphorically) the whole thing to the ground is the only way.
Atrios on ICE.
I'm not sure how, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has become a deeply and ineluctably evil organization.

I agree with Mr. Black:  You cannot fix this organization by making small changes around the periphery.

The DNC Could F%$# Up a Two Car Funeral

Remember the attempted Russian hack of the DNC from about a week ago?

Well, never mind:
What the Democratic National Committee this week thought was an attempted hack of its valuable voter file turned out to be a security test organized by a state party, unbeknown to the national organization.

The committee on Tuesday alerted the FBI to a fake online portal it thought had been set up as an elaborate attempt to trick DNC staff into giving up their log-in credentials — through a hacking technique known as “phishing” — as a way to gain access to the party’s VoteBuilder database.

Late Wednesday night, DNC Chief Security Officer Bob Lord reversed course. “We, along with the partners who reported the [fake] site, now believe it was built by a third party as part of a simulated phishing test on VoteBuilder,” he said in a statement. 


The mix-up resulted from a state Democratic organization seeking to test employees’ ability to avoid falling prey to phishing attempts.

The test was conducted at the behest of the Michigan Democratic Party, using “white-hat” security personnel with the group DigiDems, who provided their services to create the mock site, a Democratic official said. The state party did not notify the national committee or NGP, the firm that hosts the voter database, the official said.
There is actually a deeper problem here:  The party apparatus in general, and the DNC have become completely dependent on overpriced (and under-performing) outside consultants, and as a result, they have no internal expertise to provide even a basic evaluation of potential problems.

22 August 2018

Clearly, This Calls for a Market Based Solution

Verizon throttled the accounts of the Santa Clara fire department at the heights of the Mendocino Complex Fire:
Verizon Wireless' throttling of a fire department that uses its data services has been submitted as evidence in a lawsuit that seeks to reinstate federal net neutrality rules.

"County Fire has experienced throttling by its ISP, Verizon," Santa Clara County Fire Chief Anthony Bowden wrote in a declaration. "This throttling has had a significant impact on our ability to provide emergency services. Verizon imposed these limitations despite being informed that throttling was actively impeding County Fire's ability to provide crisis-response and essential emergency services."

Bowden's declaration was submitted in an addendum to a brief filed by 22 state attorneys general, the District of Columbia, Santa Clara County, Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District, and the California Public Utilities Commission. The government agencies are seeking to overturn the recent repeal of net neutrality rules in a lawsuit they filed against the Federal Communications Commission in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.


Santa Clara Fire paid Verizon for "unlimited" data but suffered from heavy throttling until the department paid Verizon more, according to Bowden's declaration and emails between the fire department and Verizon that were submitted as evidence.

The throttling recently affected "OES 5262," a fire department vehicle that is "deployed to large incidents as a command and control resource" and is used to "track, organize, and prioritize routing of resources from around the state and country to the sites where they are most needed," Bowden wrote.

"In the midst of our response to the Mendocino Complex Fire, County Fire discovered the data connection for OES 5262 was being throttled by Verizon, and data rates had been reduced to 1/200, or less, than the previous speeds," Bowden wrote. "These reduced speeds severely interfered with the OES 5262's ability to function effectively. My Information Technology staff communicated directly with Verizon via email about the throttling, requesting it be immediately lifted for public safety purposes."

Verizon did not immediately restore full speeds to the device, however.

"Verizon representatives confirmed the throttling, but rather than restoring us to an essential data transfer speed, they indicated that County Fire would have to switch to a new data plan at more than twice the cost, and they would only remove throttling after we contacted the Department that handles billing and switched to the new data plan," Bowden wrote.


Bowden argued that Verizon is likely to keep taking advantage of emergencies in order to push public safety agencies onto more expensive plans.

"In light of our experience, County Fire believes it is likely that Verizon will continue to use the exigent nature of public safety emergencies and catastrophic events to coerce public agencies into higher-cost plans, ultimately paying significantly more for mission-critical service—even if that means risking harm to public safety during negotiations," Bowden wrote.


Santa Clara apparently switched to the $99.99 plan, more than doubling its bill. "While Verizon ultimately did lift the throttling, it was only after County Fire subscribed to a new, more expensive plan," Bowden wrote in his declaration.
This is why even Republic ans oppose net neutrality repeal:  They know that the telcos and the cable companies are complete dicks.

Burn, Motherf%$#er, Burn

The Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Nick Lyon, has been charged with manslaughter for his role in the Flint water crisis:
A judge on Monday ordered Michigan’s top health official, Nick Lyon, to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter charges in two deaths linked to the Flint water crisis. Genesee District Judge David Goggins determined that there was probable cause that Lyon committed involuntary manslaughter against Robert Skidmore and John Snyder in 2015. The two men died during an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease, which researchers have connected to the devastating use of improperly treated water in Flint starting in 2014.

Lyon, the director of Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services, is the highest-ranking official in the state to stand trial in connection with the catastrophe. An additional 14 current or former state and local officials have been criminally charged in connection with the water issues.

As Ars has reported previously, prosecutors allege that Lyon specifically had “willfully disregarded the deadly nature of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak” and failed to warn the public in time to spare lives. He allegedly knew about the outbreak in early 2015 but waited until early 2016 to release a public advisory.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder was clearly involved in the obfuscation and I really hope that Lyon flips on him.

If not, I want him to go to jail for a very long time.

About F%$#ing Time

A bill has been submitted in the Senate to require paper ballots and routine audits.

Seriously, this is OpSec 101: If you are worried about people hacking your computers, use pencil and paper:
The Russians can't hack paper.

On Tuesday, nine Senators introduced a bill that would require state and local governments to use paper ballots in an effort to secure elections from hackers. The bill would also require rigorous audits for all federal elections to ensure that results match the votes.


The Protecting American Votes and Elections Act of 2018 was drafted amid intense scrutiny of voting systems ahead of the mid-term elections in November. Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has elevated concern over the security of the country's voting systems.

The senators said rigorous audits will ensure votes are legitimate. Currently, 22 states don't require post-election audits, according to the release.

Using paper ballots will also save money, even when the costs of manpower to tally the votes is included, Wyden's office said. "We believe paper ballots would be significantly less expensive than purchasing new insecure voting machines," Wyden's office said in an email.
All the bills sponsors are Democrats, probably because there are fewer opportunities for politically connected donors to get a sweetheart deal for a simple print job.

We Could Power All of Prague from the Rotational Momentum of Kafka's Corpse

A MEP wrote about how automated copyright tools would lead to removal and delisting by search engines and an automated filter had her article delisted:
Last week, Tim Cushing had a post about yet another out of control automated DMCA notifier, sending a ton of bogus notices to Google (most of which Google removed from its search engine index, since the sender, "Topple Track" from Symphonic Distribution was a part of Google's "Trusted Copyright Program," giving those notices more weight). The post listed many of the perfectly legitimate content that got removed from Google's index because of that rogue automated filter, including an EFF page about a lawsuit, the official (authorized) pages of Beyonce and Bruno Mars, and a blog post about a lawsuit by Professor Eric Goldman.

But, seeing as we're getting towards September when the EU Parliament will again be voting on the big Copyright Directive proposal there, including Article 13, which will require mandatory filters or other automated tools for preventing copyright infringement, I thought it was important to do a separate post calling out one of the other pages taken down by Symphonic Distribution's out of control Topple Track. And that was that it got Google to de-index an article by Julia Reda, a member of the EU Parliament who has been leading the charge against the problematic provisions in the Copyright Directive proposal.

Specifically -- and it would be hard to make this up if we tried -- Topple Track's automated filter got Google to de-index this blog post by Reda, in which she details the problems in Article 13 and how it will create mandatory censorship machines, that would likely lead to massive internet censorship of perfectly legitimate content. Let's repeat that so it can sink in. An automated filter helped take down an article by a Member of the EU Parliament, explaining how a (still being debated) proposal would create automated filtering systems that would take down all sorts of legitimate content
Calling this Kafkaesque is a serious understatement.




It looks like Nanci Pelosi is once again decided that there will be no impeachment, because that bit of political posturing worked so well for the whole f%$#ing world:
As Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, was pleading guilty in a federal court to campaign charges implicating the president, House Democratic leaders were on a conference call warning rank-and-file lawmakers: Don't use the word "impeachment."

Speaking to members back home in their districts, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team Tuesday cautioned lawmakers to frame Cohen's plea deal as further evidence of a corrupt administration that needs a Democratic check in Congress, they said. Or, play up Hill Republicans’ apathy in the face of Trump’s endless scandals, they encouraged.

But be wary of impeachment, they insisted — it could backfire.

With 76 days to go until the midterm elections, Democratic leaders are adamant that they will not turn Nov. 6 into a litmus test for impeachment — even though Cohen accused Trump of directing him to break campaign-finance laws to win the presidency. Party leaders believe that’s the wrong hill to die on and the issue won’t register with voters. And most rank-and-file Democrats in both chambers are following that advice.
Seriously, it's like they are TRYING to demotivate their base.

Cowardice and lack of vision are not political winners.

Tweet of the Day

I am posting this for both the content and the identity of the Tweeter.

21 August 2018

Boy Oh Boy, This Day Just Keeps on Giving

Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and his wife have been charged with illegally diverting campaign funds to their personal use:
The Justice Department on Tuesday charged a Republican congressman and his wife with using more than $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for family vacations, theater tickets and other personal expenses.

Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (Calif.) and his wife, Margaret, were charged in a 47-page indictment that details how they allegedly used campaign money to live beyond their means, funding trips to Italy, Hawaii and other places, as well as school tuition, dental work and theater tickets. The Justice Department said in a news release that the couple also allegedly spent tens of thousands of dollars on more modest items, such as golf outings, video games and even home utilities.

Hunter’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He and his wife, who was paid $117,000 from the campaign for work between 2010 and 2017, are scheduled to be arraigned in court Thursday.………


The Justice Department alleged the couple falsely described their purchases in Federal Election Commission filings as “campaign travel,” “dinner with volunteers/contributors,” or by using other seemingly innocent descriptions. They allegedly described the payment of their family dental bills as a charitable contribution to “Smiles For Life,” and tickets to see “Riverdance” at the San Diego Civic Theater as “San Diego Civic Center for Republican Women Federated/Fundraising.”

The indictment also alleges that Hunter spent campaign funds on social outings with another congressman, who is identified only as “Congressman A.” In March 2010, for example, the indictment alleges that Hunter spent more than $120 at Birchmere Music Hall with that congressman and two others, and the next month, Hunter claimed a $256 reimbursement for driving his car on a trip to Virginia Beach with the same group.

He also spent $238 in December 2013 while watching a San Diego Chargers game at a Washington-area restaurant with another unnamed congressman, the indictment alleges.

The Justice Department said Hunter’s campaign treasurer made “repeated inquiries” about his purchases. The agency alleged in its indictment that the Hunters dismissed the treasurer’s concerns as “silly,” and Duncan Hunter said staffers were accusing campaign staff of disloyalty by “trying to create some kind of paper trail on me” when they raised concerns.
I wonder who is, "Congressman A" is.

It does seem that the Republican Party is going pear shaped lately.

There is No Such Thing as a Moderate Republican

When push comes to shove, self proclaimed Republican moderates always find a way to vote with the party when it counts.

Case in point, Susin Collins (R-ME) who is now saying that Brett Kavanaugh can be expected to support Roe v. Wade, because he told her that it was "settled law".

Seriously, just how f%$#ing stupid does Collins think we are?
A Republican senator whose vote could ensure the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh offered an upbeat assessment of their meeting Tuesday, highlighting the judge’s statement that the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion is “settled law.”

Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), a centrist who supports abortion rights, appeared to be leaning toward backing President Trump’s nominee after a one-on-one session that lasted more than two hours. Collins said she would announce her decision after confirmation hearings next month.

Collins said Kavanaugh told her that he agreed with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who said during his 2005 confirmation hearing that Roe was “settled as a precedent of the court.” The landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision established a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.

“He said that he agreed with what Justice Roberts said at his nomination hearing, in which he said it was settled law,” Collins told reporters. She praised her session with Kavanaugh as “excellent.”
She knows what she is doing, and she is lying through her teeth, and she has been for years.

Tweet of the Day

If you want to know who Barack Obama REALLY is, this is all you need to know.

What more would you expect from the man who hired Timothy Geithner?

Busy Day

And the award for best tweet goes to………

And then there is this Doonesbury classic
Trumpsters have not had a good today.

First, Paul Manafort was convicted on 8 counts of fraud, with the jury deadlocking on the remaining 10 counts.  It still means that he is facing decades behind bars:
Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, was convicted on Tuesday in his financial fraud trial, bringing a dramatic end to a politically charged case that riveted the capital.

The verdict was a victory for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, whose prosecutors introduced extensive evidence that Mr. Manafort hid millions of dollars in foreign accounts to evade taxes and lied to banks repeatedly to obtain millions of dollars in loans.

Mr. Manafort was convicted of five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failure to disclose a foreign bank account. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the remaining 10 counts, and the judge declared a mistrial on those charges.


Mr. Manafort faces a second criminal trial next month in Washington on seven other charges brought by the special counsel, including obstruction of justice, failure to register as a foreign agent and conspiracy to launder money.
Bummer of a birth mark, Paul.

Meanwhile, former Trump lawyer, and fixer, Michael Cohen has pled guilty to campaign finance violations at the request as a yet unnamed candidate:
Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, made the extraordinary admission in court on Tuesday that Mr. Trump had directed him to arrange payments to two women during the 2016 campaign to keep them from speaking publicly about affairs they said they had with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cohen acknowledged the illegal payments while pleading guilty to breaking campaign finance laws and other charges, a litany of crimes that revealed both his shadowy involvement in Mr. Trump’s circle and his own corrupt business dealings.

He told a judge in United States District Court in Manhattan that the payments to the women were made “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office.”

“I participated in this conduct, which on my part took place in Manhattan, for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016, Mr. Cohen said.

The plea represented a pivotal moment in the investigation into the president, and the scene in the Manhattan courtroom was striking. Mr. Cohen, a longtime lawyer for Mr. Trump — and loyal confidant — described in plain-spoken language how Mr. Trump worked with him to cover up a potential sex scandal that Mr. Trump feared would endanger his rising candidacy.
The New York Times editorial board released an OP/ED titled, "All the President’s Crooks."

I think that we shortly have a race to prosecutor by people trying to avoid jail time.

I really hope that Cohen flips.

This is almost too much schadenfreude.

20 August 2018

ALIS is an Off Switch

Lockheed-Martin has tightly integrated its Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) into the F-35, and now nations that are taking deliveries are concerned about the massive volumes of data being sent back to servers in Fort Worth, Texas, and they are demanding that they gain control of this data:
Lockheed Martin received a $26.1 million contract to develop data transmission controls for foreign customers of the F-35 and its autonomic logistics information system (ALIS).

International development partners and foreign customers of the F-35 have expressed concern that ALIS, which manages and analyses the fighter’s systems, training and flight logs, would automatically transmit information back to Lockheed’s hub in Fort Worth, Texas, possibly giving the company and the USA insight into their military operations.

“This effort provides F-35 international partners the capability to review and block messages to prevent sovereign data loss,” says the contract notice online. “Additionally, the effort includes studies and recommendations to improve the security architecture of ALIS.”

Previously, international development partners and foreign customers of the F-35 had programmed short-term software patches for ALIS that allowed them to control what data was sent back to the USA.
The F-35 does not fly without ALIS after a few days without a deep access to the source code, which only LM and the DoD have.

It isn't just a matter of the ALIS system being a massive security hole for our allies, it is an off switch.

Millenials Get it Right

It appears that the young generation has had a much needed epiphany over US foreign policy.

Since the fall of the USSR, the goal of US foreign policy has been the maintenance of a unipolar world which sustains US military and economic hegemony, and the results have not been good for the United States or the world:
Millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1996, see America's role in the 21st century world in ways that, as a recently released study shows, are an intriguing mix of continuity and change compared to prior generations.

For over 40 years the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which conducted the study, has asked the American public whether the United States should "take an active part" or "stay out" of world affairs.

This year, an average of all respondents – people born between 1928 and 1996 – showed that 64 percent believe the U.S. should take an active part in world affairs, but interesting differences could be seen when the numbers are broken down by generation.
The money quote is, "In a related response, only one-quarter of millenials saw the need for the U.S. to be the dominant world leader."

It gives me a little hope for the future of this country.

Yes, We All Need to Apologize to Sinead O'Connor

I actually saw this live, and was completely clueless
When she tore up a picture of John Paul II on Saturday Night Live in protest of church abuse, some of which she was the personal target of, she got a LOT of grief.

Now, people are recognizing that she was right and justified, Even in her native Ireland:
Her declaration back in 1992 that the Catholic Church was rotten to its core and pedophile priests and their enablers were the real enemy was true.

It caused a massive worldwide reaction when she tore up a picture of the then Pope on Saturday Night Live in October 1992 and declared, “Fight the real enemy.”

We now know that the pedophile scandals were rampant during the era of Pope John Paul, who chose to turn a blind eye. O’Connor was calling out the right person.

Before Spotlight, before the worst of the American and Irish church scandals, O'Connor called it right and only got abuse in return.

The enemy has become very obvious since then. The revelation that a Pennsylvania grand jury found that more than 1,000 children in six dioceses there had been molested by 300 Catholic priests over the past 70 years while successive church officials covered it up is truly shocking.
The scandal, which has been going on for decades, and the coverup, which was particularly ferocious under John Paul II, has proven her right.

Good Points

Why yes, we do have our oligarchs, and corporate money is far more of a worry.