Daily Archive: 05/28/2015

May 28 2015

A Conversation with Julian Assange

It was 5 years ago that Chelsea Manning was arrested for leaking classified information to Wikileaks. A few weeks later, Wkikleaks released thousands of classified documents, the largest breach of security in military history. In an exclusive interview with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman discussed a number of topics from the NSA surveillance programs and the so-called free trade agreements being negotiated by the Obama administration to his life inside the Ecuadoran embassy in London.

Despite Congressional Standoff, NSA Has Secret Authority to Continue Spying Unabated

Transcript can be read here

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Secretive Deal Isn’t About Trade, But Corporate Control

Transcript can be read here

British Nuclear Sub Whistleblower William McNeilly Revealed Major Security Lapses

Transcript can be read here

“Pretrial Punishment”: Julian Assange Remains in Ecuadorean Embassy Fearing Arrest If He Leaves

Transcript can be read here

May 28 2015

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Trevor Timm: Republicans’ ‘plans’ for Isis would drag us into Iraq for another ground war

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of the groundwork being laid for US ground troops to return to Iraq for another indefinite war with no end game.

Republican presidential candidates (of which there now seem to be more than a dozen) have spent the past month ripping President Obama for his administration’s approach to the war against Isis, in which the US military has dropped tens of thousands of bombs, sent 3,000 troops back to Iraq, and killed over 12,000 people, all without any legal authorization. Predictably, the Republicans have no problem with the war technically being illegal, or the tens of thousands killed – only that we haven’t used more of our military weaponry yet.

The New York Times detailed many of the Republican candidates’ nebulous “criticisms” of the Obama administration, most of which assume a fantasy world in which Obama is not sending the US military to fight Isis at all, even though he’s authorized thousands of airstrikes per month in both Iraq and Syria. Most of the candidates, while competing with each other over who can sound more “muscular” and “tough”, are too cowardly to overtly call for what they likely actually want: another ground war in the Middle East involving tens of thousands of US troops.

Dean Baker: Pro-TPP arguments show desperation

If trade agreement supporters are going with their best sell, there’s clearly little to be said in its favor

The push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is reaching its final stages, with the House of Representatives soon voting on granting the president fast-track trade authority, which will almost certainly determine the pact’s outcome. The proponents of the TPP are clearly feeling the pressure as they make every conceivable argument for the deal, no matter how specious.

In the last few weeks, TPP advocates have repeatedly tripped up, getting their facts wrong and their logic twisted. This hit parade of failed arguments should be sufficient to convince any fence sitters that this deal is not worth doing. After all, if you have a good product, you don’t have to make up nonsense to sell it.

Leading the list of failed arguments was a condescending editorial from USA Today directed at unions that oppose the TPP because they worry it would cost manufacturing jobs. The editorial summarily dismissed this idea. It cited Commerce Department data showing that manufacturing output has nearly doubled since 1997 and argued that the job loss was due to productivity growth, not imports.

David Cay Johnson: Free-market dogma has jacked up our electricity bills

Prices for electricity are higher in states that embraced market pricing and are likely to rise even more

A new analysis shows that people pay 35 percent more (pdf) for electricity in states that abandoned traditional regulation of monopoly utilities in the 1990s compared with states that stuck with it. That gap is almost certainly going to widen in the coming decade.

Residential customers in the 15 states that embraced wholesale markets paid on average 12.7 cents per kilowatt-hour last year versus 9.4 cents in states with traditional regulation. [..]

You might think that the higher prices in the 15 states with markets would encourage investment, creating an abundance of new power plants. That, at any rate, is what right-wing Chicago School economic theories on which the electricity markets were created say should happen. The validity of these theories, and flaws in how they were implemented, matter right now because Congress is considering a raft of energy supply bills that include some expansion of the market pricing of wholesale electricity. [..]

If unregulated markets are invariably better, as the Chicago School holds, why was 94 percent of new generating capacity built in traditionally regulated jurisdictions? Don’t owners and executives detest regulation? Why isn’t regulation hobbling investment?

One answer is that Wall Street prefers stability to volatility. Why would investors make risky bets when they could put their money into virtually guaranteed returns in those states that rely on traditional regulation of electricity prices?

David Goldblatt: The Fifa fiasco proves it’s time to dismantle football’s edifice of corruption

In comedy, football and politics, timing is everything and today’s events in Zurich have brought all three together with quite exceptional synchronicity. Just two days before Fifa’s annual congress and a fiercely contested presidential election, the Swiss attorney general’s office and their American equivalent in the Eastern District of New York have done what much of the football world has been longing for and launched separate criminal investigations into bribery, corruption and money laundering in world football in general and into the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar in particular.

This is going to be good. There are going to be a lot of questions asked about who did what, who knew what and who got what. But important, tantalising and outrageous as the answers will no doubt be, it is worth taking a moment to ask two other questions. First, how did we get into the mess? Why is it that Fifa, as an organisation, has been so profoundly dysfunctional and incapable of reform? Second, what kind of Fifa are we going to replace this with, how we are going to make it happen and who, if anyone, is going to lead this? [..]

Reform should not be confined to chucking out the bad apples – it’s too late for that. Instead, Fifa’s constitution should be rewritten, specifying and intensifying the democratic and social obligations of its constituent members, and transforming its mode and rationale for awarding World Cups. This is the bare minimum that the situation demands. That neither candidate for the presidential election is running on anything close to this agenda is testament to how badly political reform is needed and how hard it is going to be to achieve.

Jeb Lund: Bernie Sanders doesn’t have to win the Democratic primary to do a lot of good

Bernie Sanders is running for president, settling your bet over what sticker you’re most likely to see on the back of a vintage Volkswagen for the next several years.

Ordinarily, we could stop here at the natural terminus for the proudly left-wing presidential contender – the joke. But at the risk of indulging that last bit of “hope” that wasn’t stamped out by watching the spiritual uplift of electing a black president in America be followed by obdurate meathead American racism and six years of global drone whack-a-Muslim, let us say this: there are reasons to feel good about Bernie Sanders, for all the many things he is not. [..]

This is probably overly optimistic, but this is a good time for democratic and grassroots activism. So maybe having millions of Americans – who might have dipped a toe in the Fight for 15 or in #BlackLivesMatter or in signing petitions for Dreamers or women’s rights – meet a candidate who speaks directly to them, is beholden to them and energizes them and then watch him inevitably lose because he lost the pre-primary of donor collecting will provide that other kick in the pants. Perhaps it’ll be the kick in the pants that tells Democrats that they can’t just vote every four years and hope for a candidate who gives telegenic speeches about some new branded synonym for change, then elect him or her to the top job in the land and find themselves stunned that, as it turns out, trickle-down politics doesn’t work any better than trickle-down economics.

Norman Solomon: Jeffrey Sterling vs. the CIA: An Untold Story of Race and Retribution

A dozen years before his recent sentencing to a 42-month prison term based on a jury’s conclusion that he gave classified information to a New York Times journalist, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was in the midst of a protracted and fruitless effort to find someone in Congress willing to look into his accusations about racial discrimination at the agency.

ExposeFacts.org has obtained letters from Sterling to prominent members of Congress, beseeching them in 2003 and 2006 to hear him out about racial bias at the CIA. Sterling, who is expected to enter prison soon, provided the letters last week. They indicate that he believed the CIA was retaliating against him for daring to become the first-ever black case officer to sue the agency for racial discrimination. [..]

At the CIA and the Justice Department, authorities routinely depicted Jeffrey Sterling as a “disgruntled” employee. During interviews for “The Invisible Man,” he addressed how that depiction has played out for him: “I think the label ‘disgruntled’ came from the moment that I complained, in any aspect. I was not being part of the team. … People say that individuals play the race card. What about the other side of that? The race card was certainly being played with me. And you can say it was the white race card because I wasn’t white. They had all those cards. … And if there isn’t going to be a true, real, honest investigation with any veracity, the natural conclusion is going be ‘disgruntled.’ It’s a very easy label to place.”

May 28 2015

The Breakfast Club (You Know My Methods)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpg“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

This is the essence of deductive reasoning, the elimination of the impossible.  Inductive reasoning (which is just as reasonable) argues from similarity- because the sun rises in the east every day it is not unreasonable to assume that this replicatable experiment (get up some morning and watch) also expresses truth in the sense that science understands it.  Testable conjecture, experimental evidence that confirms it, theory that relates it to what we already know to be true enough.

You know all that hype about a holographic universe?  What serious physicists mean when they say that is that their equations that predict the observable perfomance of the universe can be resolved using only two dimensions which really says more about the math than the universe.

And why is math the arbiter?  Well, because equations give predictions that should be testable by experiment and give duplicatable results.  No, Karl Rove does not get his own very special kind of math where one and two make five.  Brother Maynard, read us from the Holy Book of Armaments-

There you go. 5 is right out.

So this problem should be a piece of Π.  Expressed algebraicly-


Didn’t get that?  Well, you’re not alone because there are over 100 unique solutions.  Be careful about the maths because they are tricksy and in some cases (Economics anyone?) simply represent fictional concepts reduced to Cartesian curves (the Universe is a hologram!).

Today’s problem is deductive.  The solution is to eliminate the impossibilities one by one.

Albert, Bernard and Cheryl became friends with Denise, and they wanted to know when her birthday is. Denise gave them a list of 20 possible dates.

17 Feb 2001 16 Mar 2002 13 Jan 2003 19 Jan 2004
13 Mar 2001 15 Apr 2002 16 Feb 2003 18 Feb 2004
13 Apr 2001 14 May 2002 14 Mar 2003 19 May 2004
15 May 2001 12 Jun 2002 11 Apr 2003 14 Jul 2004
17 Jun 2001 16 Aug 2002 16 Jul 2003 18 Aug 2004

Denise then told Albert, Bernard and Cheryl separately the month, the day and the year of her birthday respectively.

The following conversation ensues:

Albert: I don’t know when Denise’s birthday is, but I know that Bernard does not know.

Bernard: I still don’t know when Denise’s birthday is, but I know that Cheryl still does not know.

Cheryl: I still don’t know when Denise’s birthday is, but I know that Albert still does not know.

Albert: Now I know when Denise’s birthday is.

Bernard: Now I know too.

Cheryl: Me too.

So, when is Denise’s birthday?

Science Oriented Video

The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)

Science News and Blogs

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

May 28 2015

On This Day In History May 28

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 image to enlarge

May 28 is the 148th day of the year (149th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 217 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1961, the British newspaper The London Observer publishes British lawyer Peter Benenson’s article “The Forgotten Prisoners” on its front page, launching the Appeal for Amnesty 1961–a campaign calling for the release of all people imprisoned in various parts of the world because of the peaceful expression of their beliefs.

Benenson was inspired to write the appeal after reading an article about two Portuguese students who were jailed after raising their glasses in a toast to freedom in a public restaurant. At the time, Portugal was a dictatorship ruled by Antonio de Oliveira Salazar. Outraged, Benenson penned the Observer article making the case for the students’ release and urging readers to write letters of protest to the Portuguese government. The article also drew attention to the variety of human rights violations taking place around the world, and coined the term “prisoners of conscience” to describe “any person who is physically restrained (by imprisonment or otherwise) from expressing…any opinion which he honestly holds and does not advocate or condone personal violence.”

“The Forgotten Prisoners” was soon reprinted in newspapers across the globe, and Berenson’s amnesty campaign received hundreds of offers of support. In July, delegates from Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland met to begin “a permanent international movement in defense of freedom of opinion and religion.” The following year, this movement would officially become the human rights organization Amnesty International.

Born in London as Peter James Henry Solomon to a Jewish family, the only son of Harold Solomon and Flora Benenson, Peter Benenson adopted his mother’s maiden name later in life. His army officer father died when Benenson was aged nine from a long-term injury, and he was tutored privately by W. H. Auden before going to Eton. At the age of sixteen he helped to establish a relief fund with other schoolboys for children orphaned by the Spanish Civil War. He took his mother’s maiden name of Benenson as a tribute to his grandfather, the Russian gold tycoon Grigori Benenson, following his grandfather’s death.

He enrolled for study at Balliol College, Oxford but World War II interrupted his education. From 1941 to 1945, Benenson worked at Bletchley Park, the British codebreaking centre, in the “Testery”, a section tasked with breaking German teleprinter ciphers. It was at this time when he met his first wife, Margaret Anderson. After demobilisation in 1946, Benenson began practising as a barrister before joining the Labour Party and standing unsuccessfully for election. He was one of a group of British lawyers who founded JUSTICE in 1957, the UK-based human rights and law reform organisation. In 1958 he fell ill and moved to Italy in order to convalesce. In the same year he converted to the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1961 Benenson was shocked and angered by a newspaper report of two Portuguese students from Coimbra sentenced to seven years in prison for raising their glasses in a toast to freedom during the autocratic regime of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar – the Estado Novo. In 1961, Portugal was the last remaining European colonial power in Africa, ruled by the authoritarian Estado Novo regime. Anti-regime conspiracies were vigorously repressed by the Portuguese state police and deemed anti-Portuguese. He wrote to David Astor, editor of The Observer. On 28 May, Benenson’s article, entitled “The Forgotten Prisoners,” was published. The letter asked readers to write letters showing support for the students. To co-ordinate such letter-writing campaigns, Amnesty International was founded in Luxembourg in July at a meeting of Benenson and six other men. The response was so overwhelming that within a year groups of letter-writers had formed in more than a dozen countries.

Initially appointed general secretary of AI, Benenson stood down in 1964 owing to ill health. By 1966, the Amnesty International faced an internal crisis and Benenson alleged that the organization he founded was being infiltrated by British intelligence. The advisory position of president of the International Executive was then created for him. In 1966, he began to make allegations of improper conduct against other members of the executive. An inquiry was set up which reported at Elsinore in Denmark in 1967. The allegations were rejected and Benenson resigned from AI.

While never again active in the organization, Benenson was later personally reconciled with other executives, including Sean MacBride. He died of pneumonia on 25 February 2005 at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, aged 83.

May 28 2015

The Daily/Nightly Show (No Such Thing As A Retired Marine)

This is the Cleveland Show

Yes, there actually is a land of the Cleves.

Tonightly- The Duggars! (well, maybe).  Our super secret guest Bobby Cannavale and our panel is Jermaine Fowler, Constance Zimmer, and Sabrina Jalees.


No Such Agency

This week’s guests-

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is a Harvard professor of economics but maybe not as bad as most because her specialty is utopian communities where she finds that those that the demand the greatest sacrifice and discipline are the longest lasting.

I’d ask you maggots to drop and give me 20 except that’s fatiguing to even watch and requires too much commitment from your faithful bard who’s only spent 10 years educating.  Have a good time instead, go or stay, my job is not to transform but merely amuse or perhaps inspire.

Anyway she’ll be on talking about her latest book, Move: Putting America’s Infrastructure Back in the Lead, which is unsurprisingly about public transportation, especially rail, but also covers our deteriorating roads and bridges.

Rand Paul’s surprisingly uncrazy 2 part web exclusive interview and the real news below.