Wednesday, December 30, 2015

George Torwell



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

It's for Your Own Good

The Cyclically Adjusted Budget (CAB) is a statistical estimate that aids government officials when they decide what to spend money on and how much they’re going to tax you. It is mostly federal governments that use it, but also international institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Economists will tell you this tool is imprecise. Yet national and international institutions still rely on it to justify important decisions about government spending and taxation.

But there’s something the experts aren’t telling you: the cyclically adjusted budget can be easily maneuvered depending on which way the political winds are blowing. And it appears technical and obscure enough so that regular people tend to look at it as objective and undisputable.

[...]

It’s one thing to say to students in the streets that their education and economic wellbeing are not a priority for the government while saving banks is. It’s quite another to say that politics has nothing to do with it and the economy requires taking certain actions, sometimes painful.

[...]

Politicians and government officials using the CAB can limit the range of political choices that appear viable to a community. Policymakers can avoid the hassle of taking political responsibility for these choices, too. We had to do it! The budget says so!

[...]

I suppose this shows the limits of democracy when information, knowledge, and ultimately power are unequally distributed.

  Alternet: Orsola Costantini, senior economist at the Institute for New Economic Thinking
Ironically, the CAB was originated in the 1940s as a way to bolster the New Deal among business owners and get people back to work.
This obscure theory validates, with its authority, a big economic mistake that sounds like common sense but is actually snake oil — the notion that the federal government budget is like a household budget. Actually, it isn’t. Your household doesn’t collect taxes. It doesn’t print money. It works very differently, yet the nonsense that it should behave exactly like a household budget gets repeated by politicians and policymakers who really just want to squeeze ordinary people.

[...]

Usually we hear arguments that suggest we have to cut social programs and workers’ rights and benefits or face economic doom. Tune in to the presidential debates and you’ll hear this played out — and it isn’t strictly limited to one party.

[...]

Our education system is increasingly unequal and deprived of public resources. When children don’t get good educations, the production of knowledge falls into private control. Power gets consolidated. The official theoretical frameworks that benefit the most powerful get locked in.

In the economic field, we need to engage different points of view and keep challenging dominant narratives and frameworks. One day, human curiosity will save us from intellectual prostitution.
Yeah, I'm not that optimistic. To begin with, our education system is designed to squelch curiosity, and in its place force feed approved texts to children. And secondly, entertainment and consumerism are encouraged, and asking questions about the system will bring you under the full force of system authority.


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

Fasten Your Seatbelts

Meteorologist Bob Henson notes that 2015 is the first year since 1875, when records began, that there have been more tornado-related deaths in December than in the entire rest of the year combined.

[...]

[A]t the exact same time that tornadoes were bearing down on Dallas, a record-setting blizzard was burying cars under snowdrifts 10 feet deep on the western side of Texas. Snow fell as far south as northern Mexico. The system also helped bring record-breaking freezing weather to southern California, a fierce ice storm to Chicago and Michigan, and the first significant New England snowfall of the season—just two days after temperatures climbed into the 70s as far north as Vermont.

[...]

As it departs North America this week, the storm will rapidly intensify over the northern reaches of the Gulf Stream and draw tremendous amounts of warm air northward from Spain and the Mediterranean Sea toward the Arctic. As the storm approaches Iceland, it will have strengthened to the equivalent of some of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in terms of atmospheric pressure.

[...]

Unlike other recent episodes of extreme weather around the planet, this storm is probably not related to El Niño, which has limited influence in Europe. The storm will be strengthening over the exact spot that North Atlantic temperatures have been cooling over recent years, an effect that scientists have linked to a slowdown of the basin’s circulation triggered in part by melting sea ice—the same scenario that was highly dramatized in the movie The Day After Tomorrow.

[...]

[T]he North Pole itself will be pushed above the freezing point, with temperatures perhaps as warm as 40 degrees. [...] Keep in mind: It’s late December and dark 24 hours a day at the North Pole right now. The typical average high temperature this time of year at the North Pole is about minus 15 to minus 20 degrees. To create temperatures warm enough to melt ice to exist in the dead of winter—some 50 or 60 degrees warmer than normal—is unthinkable.

[...]

James Morison, the principal investigator of the North Pole Environmental Observatory, said he’s “never heard of” temperatures above freezing in the wintertime there.

[...]

On Wednesday, the North Pole will be warmer than Western Texas, Southern California, and parts of the Sahara.  [emphasis added]

  Slate
It's a topsy turvy world.

Star Wars





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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Cue Calls for Impeachment

UPDATE 12/30: Almost.





Original post:
President Obama announced two years ago he would curtail eavesdropping on friendly heads of state after the world learned the reach of long-secret U.S. surveillance programs.

[...]

After the [Snowden] revelations and a White House review, Obama announced in a January 2014 speech he would curb such eavesdropping.

[...]

But behind the scenes, the White House decided to keep certain allies under close watch, current and former U.S. officials said. Topping the list was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

[...]

The National Security Agency’s targeting of Israeli leaders and officials also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.

[...]

White House officials believed the intercepted information could be valuable to counter Netanyahu’s campaign. They also recognized that asking for it was politically risky. So, wary of a paper trail stemming from a request, the White House let the NSA decide what to share and what to withhold, officials said. “We didn’t say, ‘Do it,’ ” a senior U.S. official said. “We didn’t say, ‘Don’t do it.’ ”

[...]

In closed-door debate, the Obama administration weighed which allied leaders belonged on a so-called protected list, shielding them from NSA snooping. French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders made the list, but the administration permitted the NSA to target the leaders’ top advisers, current and former U.S. officials said.

  WSJ via Fox
He spied on Netanyahu. Surely by House standards that's an impeachable offense. Not to mention, it was probably Republicans who were caught up in the process.

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

Almost As If It Could Go on Forever

Keeping our one remaining export business in business.
Even as the Obama administration scrambles to confront the Islamic State and resurgent Taliban, an old enemy seems to be reappearing in Afghanistan: Qaeda training camps are sprouting up there, forcing the Pentagon and American intelligence agencies to assess whether they could again become a breeding ground for attacks on the United States.

  NYT
You think?  How much will we pay for the task forces to assess?

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

Prevention Is Never as Profitable

There’s more money to be made investing in drugs that will extend cancer patients’ lives by a few months than in drugs that would prevent cancer in the first place.

  NYT

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

War on Christmas

The 27 people killed by guns in America on Christmas this year [not including suicides] is equal to the total number of people killed in gun homicides in an entire year in Austria, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Estonia, Bermuda, Hong Kong and Iceland, combined.

[...]

So far this year, we've averaged roughly 36 gun fatalities and 73 gun injuries each day, according to the Gun Violence Archive. So the Christmas Day tally represents something of a temporary de-escalation in the violence, but not a huge one.

  WaPo
USA! USA! We're Number One!

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

A Coup



I think I get Glenn's point.

Unless he's saying that the military can't overthrow the country's president  (which I don't think he is).  How many times has that happened in other countries?  I do believe it could happen here.  Especially considering the majority of the populace with guns would back the military.

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

You Want Freedom, Too?

In 2006 – years before ISIS replaced Al Qaeda as the New and Unprecedentedly Evil Villain – Newt Gingrich gave a speech in New Hampshire in which, as he put it afterward, he “called for a serious debate about the First Amendment and how terrorists are abusing our rights–using them as they once used passenger jets–to threaten and kill Americans.”

[...]

With rare exception, Gingrich’s desire to abridge Free Speech rights in the name of fighting terrorism was dismissed as a fringe idea.

[...]

I argued that the Gingrich/McCarthy desire to alter the First Amendment to fight The Terrorists was extremist even when judged by the increasingly radical standards of the Bush/Cheney War on Terror, which by that point had already imprisoned Americans arrested on U.S. soil with no due process and no access to lawyers.

[...]

There are now once again calls for restrictions on the First Amendment’s free speech protections, but they come not from far-right radicals in universally discredited neocon journals, but rather from the most mainstream voices, as highlighted this week by The New York Times.

[...]

The NYT cites two recent articles, one in Bloomberg by long-time Obama adviser Cass Sunstein and the other in Slate by Law Professor Eric Posner, that suggested limitations on the First Amendment in order to fight ISIS.

[...]

It also notes that the desire to restrict the internet as a means of fighting ISIS has seeped into the leadership of both parties: Donald Trump said the “internet should be closed up” to ISIS, while “Hillary Clinton said the government should work with host companies to shut jihadist websites and chat rooms,” a plan that would be unconstitutional “if the government exerted pressure on private firms to cooperate in censorship.”

  Glenn Greenwald
Sounds like a capitulation to me. 

Ass #1: 'Hey! They're still trying to kill us! What do we do?' 

Ass #2: 'Well, they hate us for our freedoms. Maybe if we didn't have any....' 

Or else it's finally an admission that they don't hate us for our freedoms?

All of these proposals take direct aim at a core constitutional principle that for decades has defined the First Amendment’s free speech protections. That speech cannot be banned even if it constitutes advocacy of violence has a long history in the U.S., but was firmly entrenched in the Supreme Court’s unanimous 1969 decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio. [...] The Brandenburg ruling “overturned the criminal conviction of a Ku Klux Klan leader who had threatened violence against political officials in a speech.
The Court ruled that “except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action” — meaning conduct such as standing outside someone’s house with an angry mob and urging them to burn the house down that moment — “the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force [...]”

[...]

The solution to [the free expression of] dangerous ideas is to confront and refute them, not outlaw them.

[...]

Trying to dictate which views can and cannot be expressed on the internet, aside from being futile, is the modern-day hallmark of an authoritarian.
What makes all of this especially ironic is that not even a year has elapsed since the western world congratulated itself for its flamboyant street celebration of free speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders. Remember all that?
Not all madmen look and act like madmen. I'm currently watching a documentary series on Netflix about WWII. From the films of Mussolini and Hitler, you can only wonder how their people didn't recognize them for what they were (or, more terribly, maybe they did), but Stalin...he looks perfectly sane.

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

Monday, December 28, 2015

Two of a Kind

Israel and the US.

This article is written by Israel’s former internal security service chief Yuval Diskin. It is as much a picture of the US as it is of Israel.
Religious Zionism still isn’t the majority in Israel, but as a very significant elite it has succeeded in making an ugly contribution toward the de facto establishment of the State of Judea, and it’s on its way to try and take over (democratically) the State of Israel.

[...]

It gave birth to extreme religious nationalism, which in turn gave birth to its own right-wing competitor of extreme Jewish messianism, which itself gave birth to the Hilltop Youth, who are anti-authoritarian, violent, and extreme and who support the “revolutionary” values of Jewish supremacy (yes, Jewish supremacy) as well as a halakhic state, terrorism, hatred toward the other, and racism.

[...]

As far as I’m concerned, the main problem is that religious Zionism has given birth to the value of the sanctity of the land and has placed it practically before the sanctity and unity of the people, and without unity we cannot exist.

[...]

[N]othing could be more dangerous for the survival of the people of Israel than extremism, sectarianism, and hate.

[...]

This is a slow but persistent process, taking place every day. It’s very hard to notice this process until it builds up a critical mass, but when it does it irreversibly changes reality.

  Tablet
We can hope that his vision of what can be done does not have to be the reality, but I'm a pessimist, and I've been saying for the last few election cycles that things here have to get even worse before they can get better, and hope it's not too late when we wake up.  I had hoped that would be the result of Bush 2's re-election, but apparently, that didn't make things bad enough.
What can we do? My conclusion is to wait for it to get worse so that it might get better. Because in order to change the course of things we must recruit the people, and the people, sadly, only start to see things clearly when things are very bad indeed. Therefore, we can only wait for things to get worse, and only then maybe we’ll start realizing that we must save this mighty Zionist enterprise called the State of Israel and that is growing further and further from the vision of our Founding Fathers. And I’m almost certain this will succeed, and that it will really get much worse.

Would it get better thereafter? It’s up to us. Only if we realize that “where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint,” and that we got here because of a lack of leadership and a lack of vision, and that those leading us have a fundamentally wrong set of priorities, maybe only then will things begin to change for the better.
Also...
The appointment four months ago of Dani Dayan, a former head of the Jewish settlement movement, did not go down well with Brazil’s left-leaning government, which has supported Palestinian statehood in recent years.

Most world powers deem the Jewish settlements illegal.

  Guardian
And as we all know, most don't count.
“The State of Israel will leave the level of diplomatic relations with Brazil at the secondary level if the appointment of Dani Dayan is not confirmed,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Israel’s Channel 10 TV, saying Dayan would remain the sole nominee.

[...]

Tensions rose last year when an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman called Brazil a “diplomatic dwarf” after Brasilia recalled its ambassador from Israel to protest a military offensive in Gaza.

[...]

Brazilian government officials declined to comment on whether Rousseff will accept the nomination of the Argentine-born Dayan. But one senior Foreign Ministry official told Reuters: “I do not see that happening.”


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

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Outrageous

If you ever thought the US was not serious about defeating IS, you've just been validated.
Washington will not share intelligence data on Islamic State positions in Syria and will not accept Moscow’s offer to cooperate on rooting out terrorism until Moscow changes its position on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s future, the Pentagon said

  RT
Russia and France have agreed to bolster efforts to share intelligence relating to the Islamic State jihadist group after the two countries vowed to cooperate militarily on the issue.

"We have agreed to strengthen our exchange of military information, both on the strikes and the location of the different groups (in Syria)," French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said following talks with Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu.

"Our intelligence services will strengthen their already existing ties, which require increased cooperation."

  Pakistan Defence
Do we hate the French again? It's hard to keep track.

The report about the Pentagon's refusal to cooperate with Russia on IS came from a Russian news source. No word about the Pentagon's response. I suppose we should wait and see how they respond. That is, if anyone in the US media asks them.
"We are not going to cooperate with Russia on Syria until they change their strategy of supporting Assad and instead focus on ISIL,” US Defense Department Spokesperson Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza told Sputnik on Friday.

  RT
Maybe they'll fire Ms. Baldanza.

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

Friday, December 25, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Beautiful World



If you want to see it in person, you might hurry before the US and its NATO allies bomb it off the map.

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

Red Scare Redux

Russia has bolstered its military and asserted itself on the world stage with a forcefulness not seen since the Cold War, ratcheting up tensions with the West. Here is what Russia has been doing to reclaim its influence.

[...]

Russia has made big increases to its military budget, including a jump of nearly $11 billion from 2014 to 2015.

[...]

“The image that Russian official sources convey is that they’re preparing for large-scale interstate war,” said Johan Norberg of the Swedish Defense Research Agency. “This is not about peacekeeping or counterinsurgency.”

[...]

“Putin is trying to provoke the United States and NATO into military action and create the appearance that they are posing a threat to Russia, in order to bolster his own popularity,” said Kimberly Marten, a professor at Barnard College and director of the United States-Russia Relations program at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute.

  NYT
They're coming after us!
Analysts say Russia’s efforts in the Arctic are driven in part by climate change, as the country seeks to exploit and defend maritime trade routes and oil and natural gas resources in areas made more accessible by melting ice.
Oh.
According to Moscow, it is making up for years of disinvestment after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But sanctions from the Ukrainian conflict, dropping oil prices and other financial problems have weakened the Russian economy, and analysts expect military spending to slow.
Oh.
The country is buying, updating and developing its military equipment, with the intent to modernize 70 percent of its military by 2020.

“This is Russia catching up on where the West has gotten itself technologically,” said Nick de Larrinaga at IHS Jane’s.
Well, that's scary. How close are they?



Oh.

UPDATE:



Leaked Video Always Requires a Response

Senior Israeli politicians and religious figures have condemned an incendiary video showing a hall packed full of Jewish extremist teenagers cheering the death of a Palestinian toddler murdered in an anti-Palestinian hate crime earlier this year.

  Guardian
My first question: Surely they're condemning the action of the Israelis and not the airing of the video?  But, I wouldn't be certain had I not read further.
The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, immediately condemned its “shocking images”, which he said displayed “the real face of a group that poses danger to Israeli society and security”.

[...]

Even MPs associated with the hardline pro-settler right joined in. “The evil ideology of price tag is not the path of religious Zionism,” said Bezalel Smotrich of the Jewish Home party. “That surreal dance with the picture of the baby who was murdered in his sleep represents a dangerous ideology and a loss of humanity.”
Shocked.  Didn't see that coming.  It can't be that years and years of brutal Israeli occupation, oppression and slaughter of Palestinians as official policy has anything to do with what's happening.  Or the fact that the crime has not yet been solved.
[In the video g]uests also sing: “Let me with one blow get revenge on the Palestinians for my two eyes.”

[...]

Underlining the fact that this was not a unique event, the owner of the wedding hall told the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth: [...] “There are dozens of these kinds of weddings every month. Every time, after the adults leave, the youngsters remain, the teenagers, and they begin with their dancing and those songs."

[...]

“Those kids were literally awash with hatred,” recounted one guests at the wedding. “I’ve attended these kinds of weddings for several years, and those songs repeat themselves – but the weapons and the punctured photograph of the toddler Ali Dawabshe were a real crossing of a red line.”
Surprised?
The video emerged alongside a report of a knife attack by a Palestinian on Israelis on Thursday.
Way to go, Guardian. "Balance" that report.  And not for the first time.
The assailant was shot dead.
...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Who Will Come to Their Aid?



This looks like a job for special ops -  the Christmas Seals.

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

It's Official

Muslims (from England, no less) are being denied entry to the US.
A British Muslim family heading for Disneyland was barred from boarding a flight to Los Angeles by US authorities at London’s Gatwick airport amid concerns of an American overreaction to the perceived terrorist threat.

US Department of Homeland Security officials provided no explanation for why the country refused to allow the family of 11 to board the plane even though they had been granted travel authorization online ahead of their planned 15 December flight.

[...]

[Mohammad Tariq Mahmood] said the children had been counting down the days to the trip for months, and were devastated not to be able to visit their cousins as planned.

He said that the airline told them that they would not be refunded the $13,340 cost of their flights. They were also forced to return everything they bought at the airport’s duty-free shops before being escorted from the airport.

“I have never been more embarrassed in my life. I work here, I have a business here. But we were alienated,” Mahmood said.

[...]

The case [...] has been raised by the British Labour MP Stella Creasy, who believes a lack of information from US authorities is fuelling resentment within British Muslim communities.

“Online and offline discussions reverberate with the growing fear UK Muslims are being ‘trumped’ – that widespread condemnation of Donald Trump’s call for no Muslim to be allowed into America contrasts with what is going on in practice,” Creasy writes in an article for the Guardian.

[...]

Two days after the family was stopped from boarding their flight, another British traveller, Ajmal Masroor, an imam and lecturer based in London, was turned away from boarding a flight to New York.

“USA has the right to issue and revoke visa – I fully understand that,” Masroor wrote in a Facebook post. “However not forwarding any reasons infuriates ordinary people. It does not win the hearts and minds of people, it turns them off. I am amazed how irrational these processes are but does USA care about what you and I think? I don’t think so!”

  Guardian

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Turn Off Your TV

Or blow it up.


A video news release (VNR) is a video segment made to look like a news report, but is instead created by a PR firm, advertising agency, marketing firm, corporation, or government agency. They are provided to television newsrooms to shape public opinion, promote commercial products and services, publicize individuals, or support other interests. News producers may air VNRs, in whole or in part, at their discretion or incorporate them into news reports if they contain information appropriate to a story or of interest to viewers.

Critics of VNRs have called the practice deceptive or a propaganda technique, particularly when the segment is not identified to the viewers as a VNR. Firms producing VNRs disagree and equate their use to a press release in video form and point to the fact that editorial judgement in the worthiness, part or whole, of a VNR's content is still left in the hands of journalists, program producers or the like.

  Wikipedia
Crazy Cassandra Frank Zappa described it in the late 80s in an appearance on Arsenio Hall's program, giving an example. He said he'd seen a CNN report purported to be about Dan Quayle preparing to take on a bigger role as Vice President. The image they showed for this segment was one of George Bush in the foreground with a box of popcorn and Dan Quayle walking around in the background. Behind Bush were Dan Akroyd and Kim Bassinger. They're all at the premiere of "My Stepmother is an Alien", a movie produced by Weintraub Entertainment Group. Jerry Weintraub was a friend of George Bush.


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

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Meanwhile in the World of Technology

Elon Musk's SpaceX has successfully launched the first reusable rocket.  It went into orbit, did its thing (put up 11 satellites), flipped, and came back down precisely on the launch pad.  And the crowd went wild....

click:  


By the way...Elon Musk - that's got to be one of the coolest names ever, but it sounds like someone in the cosmetics industry, or a runway model.

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

Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy Winter Solstice


And enjoy your coming longer days.

Solstice 2015

Today in Missouri Weather

Unparalleled balmy end of December.  The grass is still green, and the temperature is 57.  Sixty is predicted for Wednesday.

Am I wrong to love this climate change?



What Could Bring Donald Trump Down?

If he gets any cozier and enough of his supporters hear that he's cozy with Vladimir Putin.
Donald Trump has fiercely defended Vladimir Putin when an ABC host cited “allegations” accusing the Russian president of killing reporters. Try to prove it, the Republican presidential hopeful said, reminding the media of the presumption of innocence.

[...]

Trump has never concealed that he approves Putin’s policy, including Russian military operation in Syria. In October, he said that he likes that “Putin is bombing the hell out of ISIS.”

Earlier in December, Putin praised Trump during his traditional end-of-year Q&A session with journalists for wanting deeper ties with Russia. Putin also described Trump as the “absolute frontrunner in the presidential race.”

  RT
And this won't help Trump's case with his base:
In fact, "our country does plenty of killing," Trump added, referring to the United States. 
Unless they take it to be a positive remark.

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

Speaking of Fail

I usually think of the (family owned) UK Guardian site as reliably informative, but this is crap.  Here's their headline for a story out of Venezuela.


What?  Why, if you weren't an insane dictator, would you jail people for not making enough Pepsi?  The answer is, you wouldn't.  And no one did.

The company blamed the production pause on a lack of raw materials but the country’s president, Nicolas Maduro, has routinely accused Polar, the country’s largest food and beverage producer, of slowing production or hoarding goods to spur product shortages in the Opec nation’s struggling economy.

[...]

Venezuelan media reported that labor ministry inspectors, along with local police, ordered the arrest of the manager, two human resources workers and a lawyer at the plant.

Maduro has described the country’s chronic product shortages as the product of an “economic war” led by opposition leaders and private companies.

  Guardian
Also, the "freed Pepsi workers" were in jail over the weekend.

These are the same kinds of things the opposition did to try to oust Hugo Chávez, as when PDVSA went on strike to halt oil production - to bring the economy down.  Ruin their own country to get rid of a democratically elected socialist leader.  They are the monied and powerful capitalists in Venezuela, and this is how they work.

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

Beauty Pageant Fail

In so many ways.

After Steve Harvey announced the winner of the Miss Universe Pageant as Miss Colombia, something dreadful happened to these beauties.  And after all they'd already been through!


Miss Universe indeed.   When asked why she should be crowned, Miss Philippines said she is  "Confidently beautiful with a heart."   Miss Colombia only wanted to "empower women all over the world."

No, I didn't watch the pageant.  I actually thought beauty pageants were a thing of the past.

Like you, no doubt, I just saw the viral shot of Harvey's last job in show business, but unlike you, I followed it to this:


And this tidbit:
NBC Universal and Donald Trump co-owned the Miss Universe Organization until earlier this year. The real-estate developer offended Latin Americans in June when he made anti-immigrant remarks in announcing his Republican presidential run.

That led Spanish-language network Univision to pull out of the broadcast for what would have been the first of five years airing the pageants and NBC to cut business ties with Trump.

The former star of the Celebrity Apprentice reality show sued both companies, settling with NBC in September, which included buying the network’s stake in the pageants.

That same month, Trump sold the organisation that includes the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants to entertainment company WME-IMG.

  Guardian

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Can They Send a Little Our Way?

A strong showing by a pair of upstart parties in Spain's general election on Sunday is threatening to upend the country's traditional two-party system, with exit polls projecting that the ruling Popular Party won the most votes but fell far short of a parliamentary majority and risks being booted from power.

[...]

Podemos and Ciudadanos both gained strength by portraying the Popular Party and the Socialists as out-of-touch behemoths run by politicians who care more about maintaining their own power than citizens' needs.

  MSN

Some Sick Fuck's Idea of a Christmas Project

I know! Let's play a trick on some low-income kids in Atlanta.



“It’s really driving home the true meaning of Christmas that it’s better to give than receive.”

And in that spirit, the network ultimately let the kids keep both gifts.

  WaPo
Just who is getting/needing that message?  Obviously the kids already knew it.

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

UPDATE:

To make matters even more cynical, the effort—while in conjunction with the “marketing specialist” at the Atlanta Boys and Girls club—was designed to promote a schlocky, third-rate corporate network called UP TV. A media channel “dedicated to uplifting programming,” it’s owned by $1 billion private equity group, InterMedia Partners.

[...]

The poor need food, housing, jobs and—not least of all—dignity. Billion-dollar companies playing their plight off the prejudices of the viral video–sharing masses isn’t just in bad taste, it’s a perfect microcosm of how the media covers poverty. Typically, the right-wing press addresses it in cruel fear-mongering or poor-shaming, while the nominally liberal media all too often reduces it to this type of “inspirational” claptrap. But the poor aren’t our props; they’re not the raw material of viral content who, if edited properly, will subvert our “prejudices” and play the role of noble savage. They’re individuals. Human beings. Complex and nuanced.

[...]

Poverty isn’t a marketing gimmick, it’s a scourge, a cancer and a national shame.

  Adam Johnson

It's Sunday

Thirty-five fellow Republicans have signed onto the resolution as co-sponsors.

The measure comes after Starbucks encountered controversy this holiday season for unveiling minimalist red cups.

  The Hill
I am never going to understand what Starbucks' - a wholly private coffee company - design and PR decisions have to do with either religious rights or the public interest.
Joshua Feuerstein, an Arizona-based evangelist with nearly 2 million followers on Facebook, said “Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus.” He further called on his followers to give their names as “Merry Christmas” when ordering drinks as a means of forcing Starbucks baristas to say the phrase.
Or maybe the baristas can just smile and nod.  Or say, "Thank you."  Or, better yet, say, "And happy holidays to you."    (How come Mr. F didn't tell his followers to boycott Starbucks like Donald Trump did?)

Why doesn't Starbucks tell people to fuck off and make their own Christmas cups? Or remind these ridiculous and ignorant people that Starbucks actually has a "Christmas blend" variety of coffee they can buy if they need something purchasable to make them feel like good Christians?

And why, for the love of Pete, is Congress involved?

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

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Staggering Indeed

The number of people who have been forced to flee their homes has reached a staggering level, with 2015 on track to break previous records, according to a United Nations report released Friday.

People who have been forcibly displaced — including those who fled domestically as well as international refugees and asylum-seekers — has likely "far surpassed 60 million" for the first time, reads the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees report. Last year, 59.5 million had been displaced.

"In a global context, that means that one person in every 122 has been forced to flee their home," the agency said in a statement.

  WaPo

Devil in the Details

That Virginia school assignment...



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

Beyond Damage Control

Sanders campaign on the offensive:
The Sanders operative added: “Clearly, they were very concerned about their prospects in court. Now what we need to restore confidence in the DNC’s ability to secure data is an independent audit that encompasses the DNC’s record this entire campaign.”

  Guardian
It should be interesting to see if any of this comes up in the debate tonight. My guess is not unless the moderators bring it up. At any rate, I imagine there was a lot of damage done to Sanders that can't all be repaired even by these following events.


Bernie was getting too popular.

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

Damage Control



He'll lose the lawsuit.


UPDATE:  Hey, I was wrong.  The suit didn't even make it to court:
Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has regained access to the Democratic party’s master voter file after a day of conflict and litigation between the insurgent Vermont senator and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Just hours after Sanders filed a lawsuit against the DNC, the national party agreed to restore the Sanders’ campaign access to a crucial voter database.

  Guardian

Just a Mistake



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

Backdoors Bite US in the Ass

[D]espite all the attention focused on backdoors lately, no one noticed that someone had quietly installed backdoors three years ago in a core piece of networking equipment used to protect corporate and government systems around the world. On Thursday, tech giant Juniper Networks revealed in a startling announcement that it had found “unauthorized” code embedded in an operating system running on some of its firewalls. Juniper released patches for the software yesterday and advised customers to install them immediately.

[...]

The security community is particularly alarmed because at least one of the backdoors appears to be the work of a sophisticated nation-state attacker.

[...]

But the backdoors are also a concern because one of them—a hardcoded master password left behind in Juniper’s software by the attackers—will now allow anyone else to take command of Juniper firewalls that administrators have not yet patched, once the attackers have figured out the password by examining Juniper’s code.

Ronald Prins, founder and CTO of Fox-IT, a Dutch security firm, said the patch released by Juniper provides hints about where the master password backdoor is located in the software. By reverse-engineering the firmware on a Juniper firewall, analysts at his company found the password in just six hours.

“Once you know there is a backdoor there, … the patch [Juniper released] gives away where to look for [the backdoor].

  Sired
Great patch.
Green says the hypothetical threat around NSA backdoors has always been: What if someone repurposed them against us?

[...]

Regardless of the precise nature of the VPN backdoor, the issues raised by this latest incident highlight precisely why security experts and companies like Apple and Google have been arguing against installing encryption backdoors in devices and software to give the US government access to protected communication.

“This is a very good showcase for why backdoors are really something governments should not have in these types of devices because at some point it will backfire,” Prins says.

[...]

Prins says the larger concern now is whether other firewall manufacturers have been compromised in a similar manner. “I hope that other vendors like Cisco and Checkpoint are also now starting a process to review their code to see if they have backdoors inserted,” he said.


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

Of Course It Did



Need a refresher on CISA?

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

Friday, December 18, 2015

That Oughta Work

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Burr, R-N.C. — eager to do something about ISIS’ social media prowess, whether or not it actually makes sense — have reintroduced a previously rejected provision that would force technology companies to report to the government any instances of “terrorist activity” that they notice online. The measure was stripped out of the 2016 intelligence authorization bill in late September; now it’s being proposed as standalone legislation.

The proposed bill is “modeled on existing law requiring companies to report child pornography,” according to a press release sent out by Feinstein’s and Burr’s offices.

  The Intercept
If I had to guess, I'd say it's a lot easier to recognize child pornography than it is to discern free speech from actionable terrorist threats.

Besides, if there weren't so much focus on trying to "collect it all" on every American, maybe the actual agencies charged with preventing terrorist attacks would have time and money to put a team on monitoring social media.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., held up the intelligence bill until Feinstein’s provision was removed, saying he “[took] the concerns that have been raised about its breadth and vagueness seriously.”

“It would certainly be fair to say that in addition to a perverse incentive for companies not to share, there could also be an incentive for companies to overshare,” Keith Chu, Wyden’s spokesperson, wrote in an email to The Intercept. “Both would be reasonable responses to the ambiguity the bill would create, and could well undermine efforts to identify legitimate terrorist threats.”

[...]

“Asking people to report — see something say something — creates this tidal wave of information,” said Michael German, a former undercover FBI agent who now works at the Brennan Center for Justice. “This system that they set up is designed to cast suspicion on a lot of people unnecessarily, which is then impossible to remove.”

[...]

“Social media companies are not intelligence agencies,” said Lee Rowland, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. “When we export the job to private actors who don’t have training in identifying terrorists, that line between a crime and totally protected speech gets thinner and thinner.”
Until....poof!

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

Good Arguments Against Democracy - Part 2

The most recent poll from the Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling finds that 30% of Republicans nationally would support bombing the fictional kingdom of Agrabah.

PPP– which is known for asking Republican primary voters trolltastic questions— found that an additional 13% do NOT support bombing the setting of Disney’s Aladdin. 57% of Republicans have no opinion on the matter.

[...]

Research has shown that 20-40% of the population will consistently voice firm opinions on issues and legislation that do not exist.

  Mediaite
Because there is no requirement in a democracy that people be educated. In fact, those running the show would prefer they not be, and given the opportunity, will mislead and "dumb down" the populace.



(Part 1)

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

Protecting the Queen

Limit the number of debates, and schedule them when nobody will be watching.
There was much discussion over the number of Democratic debates that would be held in this cycle, with Martin O’Malley and Senator Bernie Sanders pushing for more opportunities to face off publicly with Hillary Clinton. They ultimately settled on six, of which two were scheduled [by the DNC] for Saturday evenings and one for a Sunday.

[...]

As in the previous Democratic debate, which was held at the same time as an important college football game, the candidates will clash on Saturday night with the New York Jets and the Dallas Cowboys.

[...]

A spokeswoman for [Democratic Presidential hopeful Martin] O’Malley’s campaign said that avoiding prime-time debate slots was a way for the Democratic Party to “protect” Mrs. Clinton, and that it had given Mr. Trump and the Republicans [whose debates are held on weeknights] a better platform to express their views.

[...]

“We’re playing the hand we were dealt,” said Michael Briggs, a spokesman for Mr. Sanders. “I guess Christmas Eve was booked.”

  NYT

UPDATE:
Late Thursday night, the DNC took the drastic step of cutting off the Sanders campaign’s access to its comprehensive 50-state voter file that lists voter patterns and preferences, effectively shutting down the campaign’s voter outreach operations just over a month before the critical Iowa caucus and a little over 50 days before the New Hampshire primary.

The punishment came about as the result of a 30-minute glitch in NGP VAN — the vendor that handles the DNC’s voter data — in which internal models for each Democratic presidential campaign were briefly available to other competing campaigns while NGP VAN was applying a patch to the software. Michael Briggs, a communications aide for the Sanders campaign, said this isn’t the first time they’ve reported security bugs in the DNC’s voter file.

[...]

The DNC has vowed to not grant the Sanders campaign access to the voter file until it has proved that it destroyed all of the Clinton campaign data it inadvertently accessed as a result of the glitch. However, as Reddit user bastion_of_press pointed out, the Sanders campaign cannot prove it destroyed something it doesn’t have, meaning the ban on accessing critical voter information could be indefinite.

  US Uncut
Other outlets simply posed this as a case of Sanders' campaign doing something unethical, if not illegal. Some Sanders people were fired. Apparently, neither Clinton or OMalley campaigns looked at the others. ??
The Clinton campaign had no comment.
But, there's a debate coming up.


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

UPDATE 12/19/15:  Bernie sues the DNC.  He'll lose.

UPDATE:  Hey, I was wrong.  The suit didn't even make it to court:
Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has regained access to the Democratic party’s master voter file after a day of conflict and litigation between the insurgent Vermont senator and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Just hours after Sanders filed a lawsuit against the DNC, the national party agreed to restore the Sanders’ campaign access to a crucial voter database.

  Guardian

FBI Fail

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., FBI Director James Comey revealed to the Senate Judiciary Committee that one of the two Islamic State-inspired shooters in the May 3 attack in Garland, Tex., “exchanged 109 messages with an overseas terrorist” the morning of the attack. He followed up by saying that the FBI was unable to read those messages. His implication? Better regulation of message-disguising encryption technology could have revealed the shooters’ plans earlier and could help prevent attacks.

However, [...] Jihadists’ main tool for planning and executing attacks in recent years has been social media — to which the government has full access — not encrypted messaging.

[...]

The Garland, Tex., shooting — the only example Comey used as an impetus to regulate encrypted technology — in fact makes the opposite point. Attacker Elton Simpson, who was under previous FBI terror-related investigations, used Twitter to openly follow and communicate with high-profile terrorists. His account was followed by prominent English-speaking Islamic State fighters and recruiters Abu Rahin Aziz and Junaid Hussain — both of whom for a long time were known to provide manuals on how to carry out lone-wolf attacks from Raqqa, Syria, before they were killed. Simpson also followed and communicated with Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, a known American jihadist in Somalia who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.

[...]

The encrypted messages Comey mentioned before the Judiciary Committee were discovered by the FBI only after the attack took place, but Simpson’s open-source communication was available far in advance.

[...]

[I]ncitement for the Texas shooting came from Hassan’s 31st Twitter account. Simpson, a friend and follower of Hassan, retweeted the call and later requested that Hassan send him a direct message. We at SITE, using only open-source information, reported on the call before the attack took place, and the FBI had a week to investigate the matter before the shooting.

[...]

Our research, investigations and reporting are based on open-source information — social media, forums, websites, blogs, IP addresses — which can be immensely powerful if used wisely. Government agencies, however, seem blind to this bountiful intelligence resource, and too often rely solely on classified documents and back-end access to websites.

Rather than try to create backdoors to encrypted communication services, or use the lack thereof as an excuse to intelligence failures, the U.S. government must first know how to utilize the mass amount of data it has been collecting and to improve its monitoring of jihadist activity online.

  WaPo
That supposes the real goal of the government's push to eliminate encryption is to stop terror attacks.

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

UPDATE 3/29/17:  60 Minutes investigated the Garland, Texas, attacks.  What they discovered is outrageous.  An FBI agent was on the scene in what was just one of many FBI "foiled terror attacks" that most likely would never have happened without the FBI's input.

 

The Fed Still Boosting Banksters?

That would be shocking.
The Federal Reserve announced on Wednesday (December 16) that it would raise policy interest rates by ¼ to ½ of 1 percent end the seven year policy of keeping Fed interest rates near zero, and would embark on a path of “gradual” interest rate increases in order to “normalize” interest rates. This announcement had been long expected by pundits, economists and the financial markets, and, more to the point, had long been pushed by Wall Street and their supporters

[...]

Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) wrote almost immediately after the decision multiple reasons why data do not support a decision to raise rates: He points out that while the official unemployment of 5% is not particularly high, “most other measures of the labor market are near recession levels”. [...] Finally, wages stagnation is still significant, even despite some recent low gains.

[...]

[The] problem is exacerbated by the fact that the European Central Bank is moving in the opposite direction by lowering interest rates — even into negative territory.

All of this raises the obvious question of how did Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve justify their rate increase now, despite strong signs that there is little economic basis for doing so?

[...]

Part of the reason they believe inflation will rise despite the increase in interest rates and other negative forces, is that they believe with lower unemployment, workers will achieve the bargaining power to raise their real wages.

  Naked Capitalism: Gerald Epstein, Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Oh sure, because unionization is so strong in America now.
Here is an example of the Fed trying to play the classic game of the “confidence fairy” – we will raise your confidence by pretending we are confident. But it is rather more like “whistling past the graveyard”: with the data out there for everyone to see, most are unlikely to be fooled. It is also a little like saying: we are going to get in our truck and run you over because we are confident that you are strong enough to take it.

[...]

The final example is the argument that they want to raise rates pre-emptively now, before there is any clear sign of excessive inflation, because lags in monetary policy mean that if they wait they might be too late and then they will have to raise rates more abruptly and this will be even more disruptive.

We must ask the question: who does more rapid increases disrupt? The answer is likely to be the speculative financial markets, and the banks who might find that the speculative positions they take have been mistaken. So here, in paying excessive concern for the financial speculative markets, the Fed is willing to raise interest rates before the labor market is really ready.

[...]

[T]he more standard pattern identified by the IMF and BIS economists of lower interest rates hurting bank profits has likely returned. And with it has been the blistering pressure to raise rates.

[...]

Yellen and allies should be engaging in much more creative, direct job promotion and direct promotion of local infrastructure investment, as proposed by groups like QE for the People in the UK associated with Jeremy Corbyn and the Fedup Campaign, here in the US. To make that happen, we need to keep pushing.

[...]

The fact that the Fed is embarking on a policy that will perpetuate the financial system being outsized relative to the real economy, particularly when more and more academic studies confirm that that is negative for growth, confirms that the Fed needs fundamental governance changes to reduce bank influence and increase democratic accountability. A place to start might be having all the regional Fed presidents be nominated by the President and subject to Congressional approval.
Yeah. Somehow, I don't think THAT will be a big help.

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

Annoying

Since October, residents near a natural gas storage facility in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Porter Ranch have suffered nose bleeds, nausea, respiratory trouble, and headaches.

The gas leak, due to a rupture 8,000 feet below ground, was discovered Oct. 23, and it may not be sealed until March or May. Gas company officials have stressed that the leak, which is about a mile from the closest home, is not dangerous — though they have said the odor is annoying.

  Buzzfeed
I've always found nose bleeds, nausea, respiratory trouble and headaches annoying.
Now, 25 families are taking Southern California Gas as well as its parent company to court, seeking financial relief to cover temporary housing, medical bills, and potentially lost property value.

[...]

The lawsuit is one of several already filed against the gas company.

[...]

The leak is spewing out 100,000 pounds of methane every hour, according to the Los Angeles city attorney, upping California’s output of the greenhouse gas by 25%.
Holy shit! And this hasn't been addressed?
Work on a relief well, necessary to plugging the leak, began on Dec. 4, and officials expect it to be complete in three to four months. In the meantime, 1,675 households have been paid to relocate, the move of another 1,200 is in the works, and air filters have been provided to others.
Oh. It HAS been addressed. Since December 4, although the leak began in October!

You should read the article that describes some of the outrageous effects on people and how the gas company has responded, not properly addressing it at all. Unbelievable.

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

Another Leaker of Police State Secrets

THE INTERCEPT HAS OBTAINED a secret, internal U.S. government catalogue of dozens of cellphone surveillance devices used by the military and by intelligence agencies. The document, thick with previously undisclosed information, also offers rare insight into the spying capabilities of federal law enforcement and local police inside the United States.

[...]

Some are designed to be used at static locations, while others can be discreetly carried by an individual. They have names like Cyberhawk, Yellowstone, Blackfin, Maximus, Cyclone, and Spartacus. Within the catalogue, the NSA is listed as the vendor of one device, while another was developed for use by the CIA, and another was developed for a special forces requirement.

[...]

A few of the devices can house a “target list” of as many as 10,000 unique phone identifiers. Most can be used to geolocate people, but the documents indicate that some have more advanced capabilities, like eavesdropping on calls and spying on SMS messages. Two systems, apparently designed for use on captured phones, are touted as having the ability to extract media files, address books, and notes, and one can retrieve deleted text messages.

[...]

[D]omestically the devices have been used in a way that violates the constitutional rights of citizens, including the Fourth Amendment prohibition on illegal search and seizure, critics like Lynch say. They have regularly been used without warrants, or with warrants that critics call overly broad. Judges and civil liberties groups alike have complained that the devices are used without full disclosure of how they work, even within court proceedings.

[...]

The catalogue obtained by The Intercept, said Wessler, “fills an important gap in our knowledge, but it is incumbent on law enforcement agencies to proactively disclose information about what surveillance equipment they use and what steps they take to protect Fourth Amendment privacy rights.”

[...]

The Intercept obtained the catalogue from a source within the intelligence community concerned about the militarization of domestic law enforcement.

  Jeremy Scahill
Who will be hunted down like a dog.

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

Back to Libya?

Haven't we fucked them up enough?
Libya’s air force said in a Facebook post that 20 US commandoes arrived at Wattiya airbase and disembarked “in combat readiness,” only to be told to leave. Pentagon sources confirmed the US had sent a special forces unit to Libya as part of a mission.

The Libyan Air Force said the 20 soldiers arrived at the airbase on Monday, but left soon after local commanders asked them to go because they had no right to be at the base “without prior coordination with protection force base.”

[...]

It noted the 20 soldiers had disembarked “in combat readiness wearing bullet proof jackets, advanced weapons, silencers, handguns, night vision devices and GPS devices.”

When questioned by Libyan soldiers, the American troops said they were “in coordination with other members of the Libyan army,” the Libyan Air Force said. The Libyans were unconvinced.

[...]

Commandoes have been “in and out of Libya” for “some time now,” unnamed US officials told NBC, but the outlet reported they were there “purely to advise Libyan forces rather than conduct combat operations or training.”

[...]

Libya has been in chaos ever since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown by NATO-backed rebels in 2011.

  RT
But at least we got rid of Qaddafi!

SNAFU

More than 30 Iraqi soldiers have been killed and 20 more injured in an airstrike carried out by the US military, an Iraqi said in a statement cited by Sputnik.

[...]

Hakim al-Zamili, the head of the Parliamentary Security and Defense Committee, said [...] he called upon the Iraqi prime minister “to carry out an immediate investigation into the airstrike on the 55th brigade that earlier achieved success in battling” Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) militants.

[...]

The US has been bombing IS positions in Iraq since August 2014. However, according to Iraq's former PM Nouri al-Maliki, this campaign has been "unbelievably" ineffective in fighting the terror group.

  RT
"Ineffective" strikes me as a very diplomatic spin.

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

Protest the Royal War on Christmas

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have released a Christmas family photo with their two children, taken in the autumnal gardens of Kensington Palace, as they announced Prince George is to attend a nursery specialising in Montessori teaching.

  Guardian

Okay, all you Starbucks denigrators...have at it. Does that look like a Christmas photo to you?
Releasing the festive image, the family said that Prince George will attend the West Acre Montessori school nursery in Norfolk from January, close to their country home, Anmer Hall.
What's "festive" about it? That tiny red choo-choo?  Unbelievable.  Let's see a huge campaign against this sacrilege, Christmas warriors!

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

All Life Is Spectacle for American Consumers

Nothing more.


We know where two of "the cast" are.  But they aren't mentioned in this Vanity Fair "promotion".

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

The Terror Threat Is Real in August County, Virginia

AUGUSTA COUNTY, VA (NEWSPLEX) -- All public schools in Augusta County will be closed Friday.

[...]

Sporting events and other extra curricular activities have also been cancelled for Thursday night and into the weekend.

  Newsplex
Another bomb threat?

No.  A calligraphy assignment.


Following parental objections to the World Geography curriculum and ensuing related media coverage, the school division began receiving voluminous phone calls and electronic mail locally and from outside the area. As a result of those communications, the Sheriff's Office and the school division coordinated to increase police presence at Augusta County schools and to monitor those communications. The communications have significantly increased in volume today and based on concerns regarding the tone and content of those communications, Sheriff Fisher and Dr. Bond mutually decided schools and school offices will be closed on Friday, December 18, 2015. While there has been no specific threat of harm to students, schools and school offices will be closed Friday, December 18, 2015. All extra-curricular activities are likewise cancelled for tonight, Thursday, December 17, through the weekend.
[...]

The calligraphy message was the Shahada, or Muslim statement of faith that translates as "There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."

[...]
Although students will continue to learn about world religions as required by the state Board of Education and the Commonwealth's Standards of Learning, a different, non-religious sample of Arabic calligraphy will be used in the future.
There will no doubt be a bill introduced into the Virginia state legislature to remove that requirement.

A non-religious sample of calligraphy for a religious subject. Of course.


UPDATE  12/19:


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

Thursday, December 17, 2015

That's Entertainment

Spectacle. That's the name of the game.

[I]n the recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Trump was the first choice of 27 percent of the Republican voters who responded. Given the weighted samples in this poll (38 percent identify as Republican or leaning Republican) this translates into Trump capturing the support of about 11 percent of American voters in total.

In the same poll, 37 percent of Democratic voters supported Democratic contender Bernie Sanders. Given the weighted samples (43 percent identify as Democrat or leaning Democrat) that translated into roughly 16 percent of all American voters.

Additionally, in a recent Quinnipiac poll, Sanders beat Trump in a head-to-head matchup – by an even larger margin than Hillary Clinton did.

But in terms of coverage by the mainstream media, Trump is besting Sanders 23 to 1, by some estimates.

  The Intercept
But maybe what we need to know from this is that Hillary Clinton did beat Donald Trump.  Because Bernie Sanders isn't the Crowned Candidate in this game.

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