Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Leader

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Boycott, Divest & Sanction

The United Church of Christ Palestine/Israel Network has voted to join the BDS movement, "calling for boycotts and divestment from companies that profit from Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands."

And good on them.

But, what companies do profit?  Also, check out the BDS movement website.  And a list of six things at Alternet, and 9 brands you can boycott.

Sadly, you cannot withhold your taxes that go to supporting the Israeli military.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Greece Backdate

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Greece Update


In Case You Missed It

CNN was reporting an ISIS flag carrying man at a gay pride rally.

Sometimes it's a good idea to be certain of your story before you run with it.

Here's the story:
CNN journalist Lucy Pawle told viewers she had seen “a man dressed in black and white waving what appeared to be very bad mimicry, but a very clear attempt to mimic, the Isis flag – the black and white flag with the distinctive lettering.”

She added: “I mean, If you look at the flag closely, it’s clearly not Arabic, in fact it looks like it could be goobledygook, but it’s very distinctive – the Isis flag.”

Pawle said she was the only one to have spotted the “distinctive” banner.

She continued: “I seem to be the only person who had spotted this, and nobody seems to be raising any questions or pointing it out, so I immediately went to an events organiser who said he didn’t know anything about it.

The flag is actually not ISIS symbols but butt plugs and dildos.

And the latest Guardian headline on the matter:

CNN took down the video from its website, but as of now, it's still on YouTube.  Pretty funny stuff, as they are claiming a media coup, and voice-over reporters are seriously speculating why the man would be flying an ISIS flag at this event.  Perhaps, one reporter suggests, it's a warning, since it's known that ISIS is anti-gay, and in fact throws gays from roofs, one of their principal goals being to kill gays.  On the other hand, they suggest, maybe it's a gay person mocking ISIS.

Flotilla Update

Sunday, June 28, 2015

And, Even As We Speak

Further Greece Update

Thar she blows!


Greece Update

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

A Little Universe Humor

Meanwhile in Greece


And 3.5% was the CONCESSION -- original target was a primary budget surplus of 4.5%. "Since 1995 all the countries of the euro area reached an aggregate primary surplus of 3.6% only once, in 2000." "Even Germany, the Federal Republic of Austerity, reached its own peak of 3% only twice, in Q4 2007 and Q1 2008." And Greece has ALREADY gone through most severe fiscal adjustment of any peripheral country. Eurogroup's demands make me think of a tweet I saw today: "The EU is just one big happy family. Unfortunately, it's the Manson Family."

Greece!  The birthplace of democracy.  Can nothing be done?

And here's a tidy Twitter summary from Club des Cordeliers for you to read in order to understand better:  https://storify.com/cordeliers/obscureobjet

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Moving Forward Without the "Christians"

A giant leap...Supreme Court ruling: same sex marriage is now legal in the entire country.

Far more interesting than that sort of naked hypocrisy masquerading as lofty intellectual principles are the historical and cultural aspects of today’s decision. Although the result was expected on a rational level, today’s ruling is still viscerally shocking for any LGBT citizen who grew up in the U.S., or their family members and close friends. It’s almost hard to believe that same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states.

  Glenn Greenwald
Can Glenn come back to the US now with his husband David? Would he want to?
[T]he advent of gay marriage no more means an end to harmful anti-gay bigotry than the end of Jim Crow laws (or the election of a black president) ended racism. Particularly for poorer LGBT citizens, ones who live outside of coastal cities, and transsexuals, discrimination remains potent.


Still, that the Supreme Court has now ruled that the Constitution bars discrimination even in marriage laws is a remarkable development for a country that has for centuries imposed untold ostracization, misery and legal punishment on its citizens for the crime of being gay. It demonstrates that real political change typically comes from citizens, not leaders. It highlights how difficult it is to demonize and Otherize people when they’re not invisible. And it exposes the myth of defeatism: that people are incapable of undermining and subverting entrenched institutional injustices.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Interesting Timing

France has launched a terrorism investigation after police found a decapitated body and a flag with Islamist inscriptions after an attack on a factory belonging to a US gas company in the south-east of the country.

“It is a terror attack. There is no doubt about it,” the country’s president, François Hollande, told reporters in Brussels before leaving a European council summit to return to Paris.

And so soon after France harrumphing about giving Snowden and Assange assylum.

I bet we don't hear any more about that.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

I Wouldn't

It's just because they're pissed about finding out the NSA spied on the last three presidents.  Or rather, about the rest of the world finding out.  I certainly wouldn't trust them if I were either of those gentlemen.

They won't do it anyway.  Noise making.  Public indignity.  Harrumphing.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!

Trump?!  What the hell are they smoking in New Hampshire?

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Speaking of Total Information Awareness

The DOD recently pitched a technology, intel and defense companies conference on the need for the government to be able to see everything on the planet in real time.
The National Security Agency, while primarily occupied by sweeping up billions of phone calls, emails, texts and social media messages each day, wants better visual information about the earth and its residents, too, Admiral Michael Rogers said Wednesday.

“Signals intelligence … ain’t enough, you guys,” the NSA chief told a gathering of contractors in the geospatial intelligence business. “We gotta create a much broader picture.”

We need “the ability to visualize,” he explained.


Also at the conference on Tuesday, Therese Marie Whelan, a Department of Defense official, pointed to the power of geographical imaging for war. “We are now able to convey information that is reliable and uniquely capable of filling gaps from other intelligence disciplines to warfighters and policymakers with incredible speed,” Whelan said.

  The Intercept

A Clear Message from the Federal Government

A US District attorney issued a grand jury subpoena to a website asking for information about commenters to an article and then issued a gag order barring them from talking about it when they informed the targeted commenters of the subpoena.
Is there anything more likely to make you shit your pants out of a mix of fear and anger than getting a federal subpoena out of the blue?
Well, yes, there is: getting a gag order that prohibits you from speaking publicly about that subpoena and even the gag order itself. Talk about feeling isolated and cast adrift in the home of the free. You can’t even respond honestly when someone asks, “Are you under a court order not to speak?”


Even when you have done nothing wrong and aren’t the target of an investigation, you can be commanded, at serious financial cost and disruption of your business, to dance to a tune called by the long arm of the law.


You can read a detailed account of how events, including the lifting of the gag order, played out here. As the legal blogger Ken White of Popehat has argued, the episode is plainly a huge abuse of power.


For starters, the subpoena was unnecessary because the comments obviously weren’t real threats. […] Even the more outrageous comments—“ “Its (sic) judges like these that should be taken out back and shot” —wouldn’t exactly stir fear in the heart of anyone who has accessed the Web since AOL stopped charging by the hour.


But here’s the thing us non-lawyers might think of first: To the extent that the feds actually thought these were serious plans to do real harm, why the hell would they respond with a slow-moving subpoena whose deadline was days away?

  Nick Gillespie: The Daily Beast
They don't think they're real threats. They're just collecting information. Total Information Awareness – remember? It didn't go away.
Even worse, the feds are doing the same to readers who may or may not have any resources to help them comply with legal proceedings that can go very wrong very quickly.
Be afraid. Keep your mouth shut. March in line. That's the message. We're getting it.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

You Knew They Would

And so did I.
We've been sold out again. Without a vote to spare, the Senate just voted to Fast Track the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), handing off our sovereignty to multi-national corporations who have assured themselves higher prices for pharmaceuticals, preemption over many environmental protections, and veto power over our legislatures that seek to protect the public from dangerous foods and products. Way to go to the prostitutes who screw the people as they serve the interests of the multi-national corporations that have bought off our government (including the President and much of the Democratic Party) lock, stock, and barrel.   Rocky Anderson FB Post
...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Time to Move Forward

Britain needs to draw a line under the debate about mass surveillance by the intelligence agencies sooner rather than later to stop them getting distracted from their work, Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, said on Tuesday.

The senior Conservative said his party would legislate early in the next parliament to give the security services extra powers and address legitimate public concerns about their oversight.

But he said the debate about privacy sparked by the American whistleblower Edward Snowden, whose revelations about mass surveillance by the agencies were published by the Guardian and others, “cannot be allowed to run on forever”.   Guardian
Your concerns have been noted. Now go home. You are wasting our time here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

An Interesting Development

In wake of the shooting deaths of nine people inside a historic South Carolina church, some major department stores [including Walmart, Sears, Etsy, Amazon and eBay ] announced they would stop carrying the controversial Confederate Flag.   Tennessean
Making all the rest collectors' items with an increased value.
On Tuesday, protesters rallied at South Carolina's statehouse to ask legislators to make good on South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's vow to remove the Confederate battle flag from its place of honor on the Statehouse grounds, where it has stood since legislators removed it in 2000 from atop the Capitol dome. The South Carolina House and Senate passed resolutions Tuesday to allow debate on the issue.
That should be interesting.
In Mississippi, citizens started a petition to erase the stars-and-bars image from its emblematic position on the state flag of Mississippi.

In Virginia, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe vowed to pull it as choice of emblem on vehicle license plates — a step allowable since a recent Supreme Court ruling found that it was not protected speech.


And Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday he also wants the flag removed from license plates, and the bust of Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forest pulled out of the Tennessee statehouse.
Suddenly everybody is sensitive. Nine more people had to die first.

But Surely No One Is Surprised


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Birthday Ed

Today is Edward Snowden's 32nd birthday.  It's on my calendar as a date to commemorate.  It should be a national holiday - no - an international one.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Provide Your Own Post Title Here

State Sen. Clementa Pinckney, a black Democratic lawmaker and minister, was among the nine people killed by a lone gunman accused of committing a hate crime.


The Confederate flag flying at the Statehouse in Columbia became part of the Charleston church shooting story Thursday after the U.S. and South Carolina flags were lowered in mourning but the rebel banner was left flying at its full height.


Officials said the reason why the flag has not been touched is that its status is outlined, by law, as being under the protected purview of the full S.C. Legislature, which controls if and when it comes down.   Post and Courier

UPDATE 6/19:


Yeah, I'm Still Not Ready



...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Trying to Blame Everything on Ed Snowden

reported that a Downing Street source said: "It is the case that Russians and Chinese have information. It has meant agents have had to be moved and that knowledge of how we operate has stopped us getting vital information."

The Sunday Times also quoted one senior Home Office official as saying that Snowden had “blood on his hands” - despite also quoting a Downing Street source as saying that no one had been harmed.


The newspaper quoted a senior Home Office source as saying: "(Russian president Vladimir) Putin didn't give him asylum for nothing. His documents were encrypted but they weren't completely secure and we have now seen our agents and assets being targeted."   HuffPo
Sure. Didn't we just read that the Chinese have successfully hacked into our secrets for the second (admitted) time?

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Will be watching for Glenn Greenwald's article ripping the story.


No sooner said than done:

Saturday, June 13, 2015

That's Why the NSA Needs to Know Everything

So they can protect you.
Hackers linked to China have gained access to the sensitive background information submitted by intelligence and military personnel for security clearances, U.S. officials said Friday, describing a cyberbreach of federal records dramatically worse than first acknowledged. The forms authorities believed may have been stolen en masse, known as Standard Form 86, require applicants to fill out deeply personal information about mental illnesses, drug and alcohol use, past arrests and bankruptcies. They also require the listing of contacts and relatives, potentially exposing any foreign relatives of U.S. intelligence employees to coercion. Both the applicant's Social Security number and that of his or her cohabitant is required.


"This tells the Chinese the identities of almost everybody who has got a United States security clearance," said Joel Brenner, a former top U.S. counterintelligence official. "That makes it very hard for any of those people to function as an intelligence officer. The database also tells the Chinese an enormous amount of information about almost everyone with a security clearance. That's a gold mine. It helps you approach and recruit spies."   AP


Germany's top public prosecutor closed a year-long investigation into the suspected tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone by U.S. spies, saying there was a lack of evidence that would stand up in court.   Reuters
Yeah, right.
Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert declined to comment on the prosecutor dropping the probe.

"The federal prosecutor has made his decision," he said. "Such a decision should not be commented on by the government."
A series of classified files from the archive provided to reporters by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden [...] confirm for the first time that, in March 2013, the NSA obtained a top-secret court order against Germany as part of U.S. government efforts to monitor communications related to the country. Meanwhile, the British spy agency Government Communications Headquarters targeted three German companies in a clandestine operation that involved infiltrating the companies’ computer servers and eavesdropping on the communications of their staff.


One undated document shows how British GCHQ operatives hacked into the computer servers of the German satellite communications providers Stellar and Cetel, and also targeted IABG, a security contractor and communications equipment provider with close ties to the German government.


GCHQ’s aim was to obtain information that could help the spies infiltrate “teleport” satellites sold by these companies that send and receive data over the Internet. The document notes that GCHQ hoped to identify “access chokepoints” as part of a wider effort alongside partner spy agencies to “look at developing possible access opportunities” for surveillance.


The order on Germany was issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on March 7, 2013.


GCHQ issued a standard response when contacted about its targeting of the German companies, insisting that its work “is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate.” But German authorities may take a different view on the legalities of the clandestine intrusions. Earlier this month – prior to the latest revelations – German Federal Public Prosecutor Harald Range told the newspaper Die Tageszeitung he was already conducting a probe into possible “espionage offenses” related to the targeting of the country. “I am currently reviewing whether reasonable suspicion exists,” Range said, “for an actionable criminal offense.”   The Intercept
Yeah, right.

 ...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Fast Tracking the TPP Failed in the House

Good, but.

I'm not sure it was even a glitch.  They act up now and then.  Rarely, to be sure, but they do. When they want to pretend they have some muscle, but then they cave.  They'll cave.

My guess is they've already heard from their $ constituents and have already assured them there's no worry - they'll cave.  They just needed to pretend to listen to their voting constituents first.  And then, there'll be some little tweak that gives them the cover to cave.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Was That Quick, Or Am I Just Jaded?


...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

In the Meantime...

Sanaa (AFP) - An air strike by the Saudi-led coalition on the old quarter of the Yemeni capital killed five people on Friday and destroyed three houses in the UNESCO-listed heritage site.

UNESCO condemned the air strike on the historical area it described as "one of the world's oldest jewels" of Islamic culture, urging warring parties to respect Yemen's heritage.   Yahoo News

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Don't Be So Gloomy

Monday, June 8, 2015

Serious Computer Issues

Can't blog..hopefully it will be resolved soon.   Till then,  read Glenn Grenwald.

..but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Very Long Shot

Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced he is running for president on Wednesday, becoming the third Democrat to challenge Hillary Clinton.


His announcement speech focused on finding "a way to wage peace." The former Republican highlighted his opposition to the Iraq war, called for an end to drone strikes, and said he would reinvigorate the United Nations and further engage Russia.

He also said Edward Snowden should be allowed to come home and the U.S. should rethink the war on drugs. And, in one of the more unique policy positions outlined in a campaign speech this year, Chafee proposed the U.S. switch to the metric system.

He also said we should do better for Native Americans and disadvantaged Americans. Now, THERE’s a low bar.
"Here's a bold embrace of internationalism: let's join the rest of the world and go metric," he said. During a question and answer session the former senator said it would be "symbolic integration" and a good-faith gesture to the rest of the world.
What?! Since when do we care about the rest of the world?

...but hey, you go Linc!

The "USA Freedom" Act

Exactly two years after journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras traveled to Hong Kong to meet an NSA whistleblower named Edward Snowden, Congress has finally brought itself to reform one surveillance program out of the multitude he revealed — a program so blatantly out of line that its end was a foregone conclusion as soon as it was exposed.

The USA Freedom Act passed the House in an overwhelming, bipartisan vote three weeks ago. After hardliner Republicans lost a prolonged game of legislative chicken, the Senate gave its approval Tuesday afternoon as well, by a 67 to 32 margin. The bill officially ends 14 years of unprecedented bulk collection of domestic phone records by the NSA, replacing it with a program that requires the government to make specific requests to the phone companies.


Its rejection by Congress is hardly a radical act — it simply reasserts the meaning of the word “relevant” (the language of the statute) as distinct from “everything” (how the government interpreted it).

At the same time, the Freedom Act explicitly reauthorizes — or, rather, reinstates, since they technically expired at midnight May 31 — other programs involving the collection of business records that the Bush and Obama administrations claimed were authorized by Section 215 of the Patriot Act. In fact, even the bulk collection of phone records, which was abruptly wound down last week in anticipation of a possible expiration, may wind up again, because the Freedom Act allows it to continue for a six-month transition period.


It leaves untouched formerly secret programs the NSA says are authorized under section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, and that while ostensibly targeted at foreigners nonetheless collect vast amounts of American communications. It won’t in any way limit the agency’s mass surveillance of non-American communications.


Indeed, the Freedom Act represents the single greatest surveillance reform package since the 1970s.

But that’s a low bar.

  Dan Froomkin: The Intercept
[On June 2,] the Senate passed a version of the USA Freedom Act, a bill touted by its authors as surveillance reform that will end the NSA’s mass, suspicionless collection of Americans’ personal data. Given that parts of the Patriot Act expired on June 1st, and that the government is pretending the expiration is a “crisis” rather than an opportunity, President Obama is expected to sign the bill as soon as possible.

While the bill has many significant flaws, the USA Freedom Act vote is also historic: it’s the first time since the 1970s that Congress has indicated its intention to restrict the vast powers of intelligence agencies like the NSA, rather than exponentially expand them. It also shows the power that investigative journalism and brave whistleblowing can have on even the most entrenched government interests. Two years ago, debating these modest changes would’ve been unthinkable, and it is absolutely a vindication for Edward Snowden.

  Freedom of the Press Foundation
Too bad he can’t come home.

He doesn’t need vindication. He did his duty as an American citizen by blowing the whistle on illegal activity.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Speaking last month in Tampa, Florida at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) — an annual gathering of elite military decision-makers and their partners in the private sector — the new commander of Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Army Gen. Joseph Votel, said the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, otherwise known as TALOS, is “on track.”

But behind the scenes, critics continue to question whether the military’s “Iron Man” suit would ever be used in battle.


According to informational materials distributed at SOFIC, the military envisions TALOS as having half a dozen distinction functions that will integrate “state-of-the-art technologies into a single, purpose-built combat suit system.”

  The Intercept
Will we be getting rid of drones?

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Here's to Your Health

The Post-Launch Problem: The Affordable Care Act’s Persistently High Administrative Costs

Almost like it was designed by the insurance industry, eh?

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.