08/17/2015 archive

Microsoft and CISA (CISPA)

Let’s make it clear that CISA is nothing more than CISPA missing a ‘P’.

Now, why I won’t soon be moving to Windows 10-

How Would Microsoft’s User Agreement Work with CISA?

By emptywheel

August 17, 2015

(W)hen I hear about the many privacy problems with Microsoft 10 – including the most recent report that it will send data to Microsoft even if you’ve disabled some of the spy features on the operating system. Is this the kind of thing Comey had in mind?

I’m even more intrigued given the report that Microsoft changed its Services Users Agreement to permit it to scan your machine looking for counterfeits.

Add that to this part of the Users Agreement, which permits Microsoft to retain, transmit, and reformat your content, in part “to protect you and the Services.”

The two together seem to broadly protect not just Microsoft sharing data with the government under CISA, but also deploying countermeasures, as permitted under the Cyber Intelligence Sharing Act.

This Service Agreement would seem to imply consent for automatic updates including those that disable what gets called a cybercrime under the bill (that is, counterfeit software) and a general consent to let Microsoft do what it needs to to “protect you and the Services.”

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: The Cooperative Movement vs Capitalist Domination in the Global Economy

By Geminijen

I’ve been running around to various left conferences this spring and summer and everywhere I go the cooperative movement is touted as the potential savior of the global economy. Admittedly, cooperatives are only “a grain of sand on the beach” (to use a summer metaphor)when one views the entire global economy. At this point it is also not clear that the interest in a cooperative economy is not just a desperate hope that something  – anything – can save us from total economic catastrophe as capitalism seems to be in its last throes with levels of inequality that cannot be sustained.

Do cooperatives really have the potential to be a transition to another more fully progressive economic form that can replace capitalism? Or is it – as cooperatives generally have been – a temporary safety valve during depressions which disappear or are assimilated over time or a capitalist reform as capitalism regains its footing (i.e., the mines in England, the paper plants in the Northwest United States, the electric cooperatives in the Southwest United States).

Since the cooperative movement is currently the fastest growing movement for systemic economic change it deserves an overview of what it is and where its going –which I will attempt to do, in a very limited way.

I will briefly comment on the recent changes in the cooperative movement in:

1) Venezuela which has attempted to use coops as part of its transition to socialism;

2) In the Mondragon cooperative network which applies the cooperative principles in the capitalist system;

3) In the United States because it is in the belly of the beast of capitalism and as such has special problems, and

4) In Cuba which is using cooperatives to transition away from a fully socialist economy to a more mixed economy. (I will write a separate article on cooperatives in Asia or Africa as BRIC countries have unique problems, although India has a highly developed cooperative economy and China has the most cooperatives in the world.)

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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New York Times Editorial Board: The Problem With House Prices

In the housing bubble, prices rose beyond all reason. In the bust, they fell even more than they had risen. For a long time since then, they recovered in fits and starts.

Recently, however – as is fitting in a saner real estate market – house prices have been rising in line with personal income and other economic fundamentals in local areas. But a return to a more stable growth pattern does not mean that housing will once again become the economic engine it was in the decades before the bubble.

One reason is that millions of homeowners still owe hundreds of billions of dollars more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Those borrowers tend to live in areas that were hard hit in the bust and still have weak economies, a mix that makes it nearly impossible to outgrow earlier losses. Their plight hurts the broader economy, because underwater homeowners are less likely to spend, relocate or build wealth.

Paul Krugman: Republicans Against Retirement

Something strange is happening in the Republican primary – something strange, that is, besides the Trump phenomenon. For some reason, just about all the leading candidates other than The Donald have taken a deeply unpopular position, a known political loser, on a major domestic policy issue. And it’s interesting to ask why.

The issue in question is the future of Social Security, which turned 80 last week. The retirement program is, of course, both extremely popular and a long-term target of conservatives, who want to kill it precisely because its popularity helps legitimize government action in general. [..]

Despite the political momentum coming from the G.O.P.’s victory in the 2004 election, despite support from much of the media establishment, the assault on Social Security quickly crashed and burned. Voters, it turns out, like Social Security as it is, and don’t want it cut.

It’s remarkable, then, that most of the Republicans who would be president seem to be lining up for another round of punishment. In particular, they’ve been declaring that the retirement age – which has already been pushed up from 65 to 66, and is scheduled to rise to 67 – should go up even further.

Dean Baker: Want more teachers? Pay more

Recruiting workers to a field is easy if you’re willing to offer the market wage

Last week the New York Times ran a long piece calling attention to school districts across the country that are having a difficult time attracting new teachers. The piece reported that many school districts are relaxing standards in order to get teachers, in some cases hiring teachers who have not yet completed their training. Others have increased the intensity of recruiting, making more effort to court good applicants. It also reported on some districts going to Puerto Rico or even Spain in search of teachers.

The one tactic that is not mentioned is higher pay. While the piece notes that many recent college grads are opting for higher-paying alternatives to teaching, it does not discuss why school districts are not raising wages as a way to pull some of these people back into teaching.

This is not the first time that we have seen assertions about labor shortages even though wages don’t appear to be growing. It is a regular theme in reporting on the economy. Times columnist Thomas Friedman has repeatedly complained that employers can’t get qualified workers due to inadequate training. Last year Slate told its readers there is a shortage of truck drivers. And The Wall Street Journal ran a long piece on the shortage of skilled workers in manufacturing.

The traditional way to attract qualified workers is to offer higher wages. This is the basic logic of supply and demand. If the price rises, or in this case the wage, then it will also increase the supply.

RobertReich: The Fraud of the New “Family-Friendly” Work

Netflix just announced it’s offering paid leave for new mothers and fathers for the first year after the birth of adoption of a child. Other high-tech firms are close behind.

Some big law firms are also getting into the act. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe is offering 22 paid weeks off for both male and female attorneys.

Even Wall Street is taking baby steps in the direction of family-friendly work. Goldman Sachs just doubled paid parental leave to four weeks.

All this should be welcome news. Millennials now constitute the largest segment of the American work force. Many are just forming families, so the new family-friendly policies seem ideally timed.

But before we celebrate the dawn of a new era, keep two basic truths in mind.

James P. Hoffa: China’s Currency Manipulation Should Serve as a Warning About TPP

Currency manipulation has long been a drag on the U.S. economy and our jobs. But China’s decision last week to devalue the Yuan shows the kind of damage such tinkering can bring to America. And it’s why Congress cannot approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) until something is done about it.

The Teamsters for years have talked about how the issue is a cancer for trade deals like the 12-nation Pacific Rim pact. It makes imports cheaper to buy in the U.S. but drives up the cost of goods workers make here and export to the world. That, in turn, increases our trade deficits and forces U.S. manufacturers to either move overseas or close up shop.

The practice creates an unfair trade advantage that has already cost millions of jobs in this country and shuttered thousands of U.S. factories. And it will only get worse if America proceeds with the TPP. Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, for example, are part of the trade agreement and have a long history of engaging in currency manipulation. China’s decision to lower the value of the Yuan after four years of relative stability will likely cause others nations to do so as well.

The Breakfast Club (Han Shot First!)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgLook, let’s be clear.  The fact that Han shot first is absolutely essential to understanding the Solo character and his actions and motivations for the rest of the trilogy and you Lucas bootlicking naysayers probably liked Jar-Jar.

Oh, yeah, I’ll go there.

But today we’re talking about another Solo, much cooler and more black and white.

I must confess I had a mad English teacher that thought The Magnificent Seven was the best picture ever and devoted 6 weeks of independent study to it’s intricacies (which I could bore you with, but I got a 98 so whatever).  Among his favorite story arcs is Robert Vaughn’s Lee, the gunslinger that has lost his edge and lives in constant fear of both dying and being exposed as a coward.

“There was a time when I would have have caught all three.”

Vaughn’s career has sunk so low that his must memorable current stuff is standups for Mall Lawyers, but there was a time when he was the next Bill Shatner (I remember the 5th season of The A-Team).  You’d be surprised to know he was a recurring character on Coronation Street as Milton Fanshaw.

Number One of Section Two was a mini-Bond created by Ian Fleming for the show.  Looking at the episodes is instructive in an early ’60s Feminist sense of demonstrating many of the common tropes and memes of that time.  Remember, while tongue-in-cheek, the character is supposed to exude an inescapable charm of wit and elegance.  Vaughn brought a perfect edge of arrogance, ennui, and superficiality.

If you were a brainiac like me though the one you totally dug was Illya.

He holds a Master’s degree from the Sorbonne and a PhD in Quantum Mechanics from the University of Cambridge, though he admits to not keeping up-to-date with the field. He appears to have been an undergraduate at the University of Georgia in Tbilisi, where he practiced gymnastics. Kuryakin is a polymath. He is well-read in English literature, he has an in-depth knowledge of music and plays the bass viol, the English horn and guitar. He also sings, and he speaks many languages, including French, German and Japanese.

His technical skills are also well honed. He is an explosives expert who stayed on at the U.N.C.L.E. Survival School a month after he graduated to teach a class on the subject.

David McCallum is now known as “Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard” from NCIS which is just as ridiculous a name as I can possibly imagine but he’s still a heart throb at 80, which is not so bad for the guy they used to call “the blond Beatle”.

Now neither the cinematic reboot’s box office or critical reception are as bad as you might think although it’s already generating negative buzz so it’s unlikely to be Warner’s summer blockbuster.  I’ll probably watch it as I did the Avengers (no not that one) on free TV when it comes around.

Zaki’s Review, not the worst one, from Huffington Post

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is less about any particular surprises the script (by Ritchie and Lionel Wigram) may offer — though, admittedly, there are a few. Instead, it’s similar to the Bond formula in that it’s all about the simple pleasure of knowing things have to come to a preordained conclusion, and watching it done well. Stylistically, U.N.C.L.E. is very much of a piece with Ritchie’s two Sherlock Holmes flicks (the first of which I enjoyed quite a bit, the second less so), so I suspect one’s appreciation for it will depend greatly on their tolerance for the Snatch helmer’s specific tics.

Of course, the real joy of the film is in watching the game cast (which includes Hugh Grant and Jared Harris) go through their paces. Cavill in particular is a lot of fun as Our Man Solo, adopting an exaggerated affect to his delivery that neatly mimics Vaughn’s staccato style and also feels like the character’s sly commentary on the genre itself, as if he’s standing to the side and winking at the audience. Hammer arguably has the tougher job: trying to make his character seem sympathetic and understandable all while speaking in a Russian accent that could very easily tip into Boris Badanov territory. Luckily, he manages to pulls it off admirably.

From Kingsman earlier this year and Mission: Impossible last month to the 007 epic Spectre in November, 2015 is proving quite the fertile year for big screen spying (and that’s not even mentioning Melissa McCarthy in Spy!). Though The Man From U.N.C.L.E. lacks the wit of Kingsman and the spectacle of Rogue Nation (any comparisons to the new Bond will have to wait, natch), it nonetheless sits comfortably alongside its spy movie siblings.



On Thursday Little League Baseball starts its World Series (which is really worthy of the name involving, as it does, other countries).


  • Caribbean (Los Bravos de Pontezuela, DR) vs. Europe-Africa (AVRS Secondary School, Uganda)
  • Southwest (Pearland West, Pearland, TX) vs. Northwest (Wilshire/Riverside, Portland, OR)
  • Latin America (Cardenales, Barquisimeto, Venezuela) vs. Australia (Cronulla, Sydney)
  • Great Lakes (Bowling Green Eastern, Bowling Green, KY) vs. West (Sweetwater Valley, Bonita, CA)


  • Canada (White Rock South Surrey, BC) vs. Mexico (Seguro Social, Mexicali)
  • New England (Cranston Western, Cranston, RI) vs. Southeast (Northwood, Taylors, SC)
  • Japan (Tokyo Kitasuna) vs. Asia-Pacific (Tung Yuan, Taipei)
  • Midwest (Webb City, MO) vs. Mid-Atlantic (Red Land, Lewisberry, PA)

Saturday is the Semi-Finals (two teams will emerge) of the National and International Championships, I’ll probably tell you about the finals next wee.

Mets 4.5 games up after a miserable series.

Damn Yankees, still half a game in front.

Bonus Baseball- We’re in a golden age of hitters who can pitch – but some guys are better than others.

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.


Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

On This Day In History August 17

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.

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

August 17 is the 229th day of the year (230th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 136 days remaining until the end of the year.

The Dakota War of 1862 (also known as the Sioux Uprising, Sioux Outbreak of 1862, the Dakota Conflict, the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 or Little Crow’s War) was an armed conflict between the United States and several bands of the eastern Sioux or Dakota which began on August 17, 1862, along the Minnesota River in southwest Minnesota. It ended with a mass execution of 38 Dakota men on December 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota.

Throughout the late 1850s, treaty violations by the United States and late or unfair annuity payments by Indian agents caused increasing hunger and hardship among the Dakota. Traders with the Dakota previously had demanded that the government give the annuity payments directly to them (introducing the possibility of unfair dealing between the agents and the traders to the exclusion of the Dakota). In mid-1862 the Dakota demanded the annuities directly from their agent, Thomas J. Galbraith. The traders refused to provide any more supplies on credit under those conditions, and negotiations reached an impasse.

On August 17, 1862, four Dakota killed five American settlers while on a hunting expedition. That night a council of Dakota decided to attack settlements throughout the Minnesota River valley to try to drive whites out of the area. There has never been an official report on the number of settlers killed, but estimates range from 400 to 800. It is said that until the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the civilian wartime toll from the Dakota conflict was the highest in U.S. history (excluding those of the Civil War).

Over the next several months, continued battles between the Dakota against settlers and later, the United States Army, ended with the surrender of most of the Dakota bands. By late December 1862, soldiers had taken captive more than a thousand Dakota, who were interned in jails in Minnesota. After trials and sentencing, 38 Dakota were hanged on December 26, 1862, in the largest one-day execution in American history. In April 1863 the rest of the Dakota were expelled from Minnesota to Nebraska and South Dakota. The United States Congress abolished their reservations.