07/18/2014 archive

Edward Snowden Calls on Professionals to Protect Private Communications

On July 10, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden sat down for an interview with Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of the Guardian, and reporter Ewen MacAskill in Moscow.

Over the course of seven hours, he talked about the need for professionals to protect the confidentiality of their clients in the light of the surveillance by spy agencies. He also spoke about his life in Moskow and the specious accusations that he was spying for Russia or had given the information he took from the NSA to Russian authorities.


• Said if he ended up in US detention in Guantánamo Bay he could live with it.

• Offered rare glimpses into his daily life in Russia, insisting that, contrary to reports that he is depressed, he is not sad and does not have any regrets. He rejected various conspiracy theories surrounding him, describing as “bullshit” suggestions he is a Russian spy.

• Said that, contrary to a claim he works for a Russian organisation, he was independently secure, living on savings, and money from awards and speeches he has delivered online round the world.

• Made a startling claim that a culture exists within the NSA in which, during surveillance, nude photographs picked up of people in “sexually compromising” situations are routinely passed around.

• Spoke at length about his future, which seems destined to be spent in Russia for the foreseeable future after expressing disappointment over the failure of western European governments to offer him a home.

• Said he was holding out for a jury trial in the US rather a judge-only one, hopeful that it would be hard to find 12 jurors who would convict him if he was charged with an offence to which there was a public interest defence. Negotiations with the US government on a return to his country appear to be stalled.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Paul Krugman: Addicted to Inflation

The first step toward recovery is admitting that you have a problem. That goes for political movements as well as individuals. So I have some advice for so-called reform conservatives trying to rebuild the intellectual vitality of the right: You need to start by facing up to the fact that your movement is in the grip of some uncontrollable urges. In particular, it’s addicted to inflation – not the thing itself, but the claim that runaway inflation is either happening or about to happen. [..]

More generally, modern American conservatism is deeply opposed to any form of government activism, and while monetary policy is sometimes treated as a technocratic affair, the truth is that printing dollars to fight a slump, or even to stabilize some broader definition of the money supply, is indeed an activist policy.

The point, then, is that inflation addiction is telling us something about the intellectual state of one side of our great national divide. The right’s obsessive focus on a problem we don’t have, its refusal to reconsider its premises despite overwhelming practical failure, tells you that we aren’t actually having any kind of rational debate. And that, in turn, bodes ill not just for would-be reformers, but for the nation.

MArk Gongloff: Austerity Is Poisoning The Economy, In 2 Charts

Austerity is like a bad tattoo: It’s going to be with us, causing misery, for years to come.

The broad spending cuts that were the fruits of the Republican Congress’ budget obsession of the past few years have already cost the U.S. economy $351 billion in lost economic activity, according to a new study by the Center for American Progress. This austerity will cost a total of $633 billion by the year 2020, according to the study. [..]

“Congress has severely damaged the economy with deep spending cuts in a misguided attempt to solve a short-term debt crisis that simply does not exist,” wrote CAP economists Harry Stein and Adam Hersh.

The progressive think tank’s analysis is based on the latest budget outlook from the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan congressional research group, which was released on Tuesday.

Ana Marie Cox: Voter ID’s last stand: let’s finally declare laws what they are – racist on purpose

How is a concealed-carry gun permit OK to get in the voting booth, but an elderly woman’s Medicare card is not? Liberals have argued. Now it’s time for a verdict

This week, the US Department of Justice and the state of Texas started arguments in the first of what will be a summer-long dance between the two authorities over voting rights. There are three suits being tried in two districts over gerrymandering and Texas’s voter identification law – both of which are said to be racially motivated. In its filing, the DoJ describes the law as “exceed[ing] the requirements imposed by any other state” at the time that it passed. If the DoJ can prove the arguments in its filing, it won’t just defeat an unjust law: it could put the fiction of “voter fraud” to rest once and for all. [..]

But meeting that higher standard of explicit exclusionary intent comes with the opportunity to show some of the many skeptical Americans the ugly racism behind Republican appeals to “fairness” and warnings about fraud. Progressives have tried, and mostly failed, to show the institutional racism underpinning the sordid history behind voter ID laws; that may have been too subtle. In courts in Texas and North Carolina, the DoJ will make the jump from accusations that laws have a racial impact to straight-up calling voter ID laws racist.

This ought to be interesting.

David Cay Johnston: Stop the tax inversions of free-riding corporations

Walgreens, Pfizer, Medtronic and some other big American companies are working on a tax trick known as inversion. By acquiring or merging with a foreign company – the inversion – big companies can reduce or eliminate federal and state taxes on profits in the U.S.

The latest inversions have drawn a lot of criticism, even from sources usually considered cheerleaders for big business. “Positively Un-American,” declared Fortune magazine’s latest cover, while its story inside expressed revulsion at these moves.

Inversions, if not stopped, will spread. When Congress last enacted laws to thwart these moves in 2002, in part because of my reporting on an earlier round of inversions, I warned that the new laws included loopholes. As predicted, the inversion problem is back and could cause serious damage to both our economy and the rule of law.

Inversions are just part of a larger problem – one of the most important issues in economics and public policy, in fact. It’s the very same problem addressed by the Affordable Care Act, mandatory auto insurance requirements and motorcycle helmet laws.

It’s known as the free-rider problem. A free rider is someone who gets benefits that others pay for.

Tom Engelhardt: The Strangest Disaster on the Planet Right Now

Who even knows what to call it? The Iraq War or the Iraq-Syrian War would be far too orderly for what’s happening, so it remains a no-name conflict that couldn’t be deadlier or more destabilizing — and it’s in the process of internationalizing in unsettling ways. Think of it as the strangest disaster on the planet right now. After all, when was the last time that the U.S. and Russia ended up on the same side in a conflict? You would have to go back almost three-quarters of a century to World War II to answer that one. And how about the U.S. and Iran? Now, it seems that all three of those countries are sending in military hardware and, in the case of the U.S. and Iran, drones, advisers, pilots, and possibly other personnel.

Since World War I, the region that became Iraq and Syria has been a magnet for the meddling of outside powers of every sort, each of which, including France and Britain, the Clinton administration with its brutal sanctions, and the Bush administration with its disastrous invasion and occupation, helped set the stage for the full-scale destabilization and sectarian disintegration of both countries. And now the outsiders are at it again.

Cori Crider: A nurse at Gitmo refuses to force feed any more prisoners. Others should too

What the US military does to detainees at Guantánamo is shocking. Perhaps change can come from within

Last week, I was on the phone with my client, Abu Wa’el Dhiab – a detainee of the US government at Guantánamo Bay who has been cleared of any involvement in terrorism – discussing our litigation and whether he had reason to believe he might one day be released. He has been on a hunger strike for over a year and is fighting in court to stop the government from abusively force-feeding him, so he was listless, as is typical. But then he perked up. “I have great news”, he said. “Someone at Guantánamo has made a historic stand.”

One Navy nurse at Guantánamo had refused to force-feed detainees anymore and declared the practice unethical: I have come to the decision that I refuse to participate in this criminal act, Dhiab told me the nurse said. [..]

Since it isn’t technically a disciplinary matter – and frankly, even if it were – the rest of the doctors and nurses at Gitmo ought to join their colleague’s boycott. They should return to first principle of medicine, which is patient autonomy. They should insist on using force-feeding only when absolutely necessary and in ways that minimize, not maximize, the suffering it causes – a compromise my client would accept. In so doing, they would have the support of the American medical community, which has already condemned force-feeding and urged health professionals not to participate.

The Breakfast Club: 7-18-2014

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Everyone’s welcome here, no special handshake required. Just check your meta at the door.

Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpg

This Day in History

The Bankruptcy of Democratic Wing of the Institutional Democratic Party

The Calm Before The Calm

By Charles P. Pierce, Esquire

7/17/2014 at 12:45 PM

The annual Netroots Nation gathering is an almost placid affair. For example, in contrast to the CPAC convention, at which every wingnut with delusions of grandeur showed up and at which enough red meat was thrown out to give the Potomac atherosclerosis, this hootenanny is remarkably uncontaminated by major politicians, and especially by those national politicians who allegedly aspire to a higher office than the one they presently hold. The only real marquee names are Senator Professor Warren, who speaks on Friday morning, and Vice President Joe Biden, who pops in this afternoon to inflame the masses as only he can. Hillary Clinton is too busy having a really bad book tour.

Nevertheless, having been to CPAC, it’s hard not to conclude that the two national parties continue to have conspicuously different attitudes toward their respective bases. At CPAC, every high-profile Republican showed up, whether or not they happened to have five votes in the hall. Chris Christie got hooted at by the denizens of the monkeyhouse, and nobody seemed to know quite what to do with Rand Paul and his devotees. But they showed up. Here, once again, it is fair to conclude that the national Democratic party — at least as represented by its high-profile national figures — can still be scared away from its base and its issues by a strong breeze. The people at Netroots are being held at arm’s length in a way that national Republicans never would dare hold CPAC. And with the triangulated, deadening specter of an inexorable Clinton Restoration looming over everything, and that includes everything here, it’s difficult to see that changing very much. I’m sure Senator Professor Warren will get a wild ovation tomorrow. How long and how profoundly that ovation echoes in our politics is still very much an open question.

Yeah, Markos.  Things are better than ever.  How’s that working out for your business model Bucky?

Le Tour 2014: Stage 13, Saint-Étienne / Chamrousse

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

Well you could call it a Sprint because most of the usual suspects were involved less André Greipel who fell on a roundabout 3.5km from the finish and Marcel Kittel who dropped out of the leading group on the Monts du Lyonnais.  The commentators keep talking about how frustrated Peter Sagan must be without a stage win but seriously, how frustrated can you be when you’ve been wearing Green for so much of Le Tour and your point position is so dominant that you could practically walk to the Champs-Élysées and still win the class you’ve chosen to compete in and not some wienie also-ran honor like most stage victories or Youth rider?  As far as I’m concerned Sagan has run a near perfect multi-stage race to date, you don’t get a fancy Jersey just because you cross the line first on any given day.

Yesterday that rider was Alexander Kristoff who’s Katusha team was able to deliver in a way that Cannondale could not.

Three withdrawls since the rest day, Fabian Cancellaria, Andrew Talansky who gave us that gutty ride on Tuesday (turns out he has a respriatory infection too), and David De La Cruz Melgarejo who had a specatcular crash out and was sent to the hospital.  Flaming chunks of twisted metal I tells yah.

On the stage there was certainly a bunch with 60 riders finishing on the lead time.  The actual leaders were Alexander Kristoff, Peter Sagan, and Arnaud Demare.  In the General Classification Vincenzo Nibali, Riche Porte closest (2:23), and Alejandro Valverde BelMonte (2:47).  Romain Bardet (3:01), Thibaut Pinot (3:47), Tejay Van Garderen (3:56), and Jean-Christophe Péraud (3:57) round out those under 4 minutes behind.  Bauke Mollema (4:08), Jurgen Van Den Broeck (4:18), Jakob Fuglsang (4:31), and Michal Kwiatkowski (4:39) make up those under 5 minutes away.  Geraint Thomas (5:17) and Rui Alberto Costa (5:34) are less than 6 minutes back, Mikel Nieve Iturralde (6:03) and Pierre Rolland (6:47) 7.  Christopher Horner (7:33) and Laurens Ten Dam (7:42) under 8; Haimar Zubeldia Adirre (8:01), Leopold Konig (8:25), and Tony Gallopin (8:57) under 9; Cyril Gautier (9:12) under 10 minutes.

Why so deep (21 riders) into the GC ek?  It’s the Alps and 10 minutes is not so far behind.

For the Green Jersey, same as it ever was.  Peter Sagan has a commanding lead (341), Bryan Coquard (191), Alexander Kristoff (172), Marcel Kittel (167), Mark Renshaw (118), André Greipel (117), Greg Van Avermaet (100), Vincenzo Nibali (95), Tony Gallopin (87), and Samuel Dumolin (80).  In the Climbing competition Joaquim Rodriguez (51), Thomas Voeckler (34), Tony Martin (26), Vincenzo Nibali (20), Alessandro De Marchi (18), Blel Kadri (17) and Thibaut Pinaut (16).  Everyone else is at least 4 points behind.  Between the Teams it is AG2R, Astana (3:19), Belkin (4:25), and Sky (4:56).  Everyone else is over 21 minutes behind.  In Youth competition it is Romain Bardet, Thibaut Pinot (:46), and Michal Kwiatkowski (1:38).  Tom Dumoulin is 14:16 back, Peter Sagan (your prohibitive Points leader) is 38:07 behind.  Everybody else is about an hour or more off the pace.

And we come to the big hills.  123 miles, only 3 climbs.  We start off with a gentle Category 3, 90 km of  bumps and flats, mostly descending, then a Category 1, Sprint Checkpoint after the descent, and an uphill finish to a Beyond Category at Chamrousse.

Distance Name Length Category
Km 24.0 Col de la Croix de Montvieux 8 km @ 4.1% 3
Km 152.0 Col de Palaquit (1 154 m) (D57-D512) 14.1 km @ 6.1% 1
Km 197.5 Montée de Chamrousse (1 730 m) 18.2 km @ 7.3% H

Once again, looks are deceiving.  Overall Col de Palaquit is rated at 6.1% but it has 3 sections at 10% gradient or better.  Likewise Montée de Chamrousse which has 2 sections at 10%+ but is very long, though it levels off to a mere (mere?  Merde!) 3.1% at the top.

On This Day In History July 18

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge

July 18 is the 199th day of the year (200th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 166 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1940, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who first took office in 1933 as America’s 32nd president, is nominated for an unprecedented third term. Roosevelt, a Democrat, would eventually be elected to a record four terms in office, the only U.S. president to serve more than two terms.

Roosevelt was born January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York, and went on to serve as a New York state senator from 1911 to 1913, assistant secretary of the Navy from 1913 to 1920 and governor of New York from 1929 to 1932. In 1932, he defeated incumbent Herbert Hoover to be elected president for the first time. During his first term, Roosevelt enacted his New Deal social programs, which were aimed at lifting America out of the Great Depression. In 1936, he won his second term in office by defeating Kansas governor Alf Landon in a landslide.

Election of 1940

The two-term tradition had been an unwritten rule (until the 22nd Amendment after his presidency) since George Washington declined to run for a third term in 1796, and both Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt were attacked for trying to obtain a third non-consecutive term. FDR systematically undercut prominent Democrats who were angling for the nomination, including two cabinet members, Secretary of State Cordell Hull and James Farley, Roosevelt’s campaign manager in 1932 and 1936, Postmaster General and Democratic Party chairman. Roosevelt moved the convention to Chicago where he had strong support from the city machine (which controlled the auditorium sound system). At the convention the opposition was poorly organized but Farley had packed the galleries. Roosevelt sent a message saying that he would not run, unless he was drafted, and that the delegates were free to vote for anyone. The delegates were stunned; then the loudspeaker screamed “We want Roosevelt… The world wants Roosevelt!” The delegates went wild and he was nominated by 946 to 147 on the first ballot. The tactic employed by Roosevelt was not entirely successful, as his goal had been to be drafted by acclamation. The new vice presidential nominee was Henry A. Wallace, a liberal intellectual who was Secretary of Agriculture.

In his campaign against Republican Wendell Willkie, Roosevelt stressed both his proven leadership experience and his intention to do everything possible to keep the United States out of war. In one of his speeches he declared to potential recruits that “you boys are not going to be sent into any foreign war.” He won the 1940 election with 55% of the popular vote and 38 of the 48 states. A shift to the left within the Administration was shown by the naming of Henry A. Wallace as Vice President in place of the conservative Texan John Nance Garner, who had become a bitter enemy of Roosevelt after 1937.

Thank Democrats Some More…

The nazis tried this shit on their neighbors and look what happened to them. netanyahoo better find himself a bunker to off himself in. obama will fix this, and is just pretending to support what he’s doing to make him overconfident while obama rallies his allies to prepare a d day landing on israels’ coast.

What? Oh. Sorry. I must have dozed off. What a weird dream I had. Total unreality. Never mind. The nazis were amateurs. They could never get away with this kind of shit.

The US and Israel are professionals at being animals. And “good germans” were rather pathetic. They had nothing on most Americans and Israelis, who are in a league good germans could never equal and will eat up even the most transparent bullshit propaganda from their governments.

TDS/TCR (Poor Lucy)


Paul is Dead

The New Falcon

Fortunately there is no extended interview with Seinfeld, but for the real news and next week’s guests join me below the fold.