Can you pick The Onion without hovering your mouse over the links? Not much of a challenge really, but if you just looked at the headlines you’d have an easy 50 / 50 shot at being wrong. Henryetta abolishes decades-old dance ban HENRYETTA, Okla. — Kick off the Sunday shoes: Dancing in public is …
Feb 26 2017
Odds or Onions Challenge XXIX
Aug 22 2016
Not Going Gently Into That Good Night
Last Thursday night Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” signed off for the final time with its host making the promise that he would be back. The show opened conversations on topics that are rarely discussed on network or cable often making us wince but none the less truthful and important. As the …
Feb 11 2015
Jon Stewart Is Leaving The Daily Show
After 16 years hosting Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” Jon Stewart announced that he will be leaving the show this year. It has left many of us stunned and saddened. That news, and the news that NBC’s Brian Williams, host of “The Nightly New,” had been suspended for 6 months without pay, dominated the nightly cable shows, especially MSNBC. It was very apparent that Jon’s departure was more important than anything else.
After announcing Williams suspension, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow devoted the next two segments of her show to Jon’s retirement and the impact that his style of humor has had on the news and the news media for a generation:
The tributes are still pouring in:
Jon Stewart: comedian, satirist, newsman
By Amanda Holpuch, The Guardian
He insists he’s a comedian, but the outgoing Daily Show host has treated us to more than a decade of influential, and often devastating, political speeches
He’s been called the “most trusted news source in America” – but Jon Stewart has repeatedly insisted that he is a comedian first, and has played down the influence of The Daily Show on American political life.
His work has toed the line of political action, and has sometimes abandoned comedy altogether to provide the serious, though short, dose of reality absent from almost all American broadcast journalism.
A Dear Jon Letter: A TV Writer’s TV Marriage Suddenly Ends
By David S. Simon, The Huffington Post
I got dumped last night.
A 17-year relationship ended just like that and I have no idea how I will go on. Okay, it was with a married man and I knew that sooner or later that son of a bitch would go back to his family. But the thing is I just cannot imagine life without my TV life partner Jon Stewart.
Here’s the thing. Like most relationships the most significant, intimate part of our life together is at bedtime. During the day he went his way and I went mine, but at the end of the day we were there together in the bed zone to discuss not only the day’s events but the state of our lives on a level that would be incomprehensible with anyone else.
Jon Stewart Leaving His Fake News Desk Is A Loss To Real News
By Frazier Moore, The Huffington Post
Jon Stewart’s fans were gobsmacked by the sad news he delivered on Tuesday’s edition of “The Daily Show”: He’s leaving his phony anchor desk and ending his reign as phony newsman, and the loss is to real news.
“This show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host and neither do you,” he told his audience. He said he might depart in July, September or maybe December. He didn’t say what he means to do next.
To appreciate the impact of his 16-year Comedy Central reign, and the loss his impending exit represents, the distraught viewer need only consider Monday’s broadcast. [..]
Stewart didn’t invent satire, but he modernized it and tailored it for an information age ruled by TV and the Internet. In compact “Daily Show” segments, he struck a blow against the flabby boundlessness of cable-news and talk-network fare.
No wonder political leaders, authors, scholars and others with useful things to say flocked to his show right along with celebs who came to pitch their latest projects. Stewart, playing his designated role as court jester, goaded them with humor to get them to say what they meant in ways “serious” interviewers can’t or won’t. In the process, he usually displayed them to their best advantage.
And on those rare occasions when the news was too awful to abide the usual sassiness and Stewart’s passion burned through, viewers knew to take special note. On “The Daily Show,” unlike so many “real” news dispensers, everything that happens ISN’T “Breaking News.”
This was Jon very first appearance as host of “The Daily Show”
Below the fold are the videos from “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” which devoted the majority of the show to Jon Stewart. Lawrence O’Donnell was joined by Rachel Maddow, Hunter Walker, Kevin Avery, Beth Fouhy, Lizz Winstead and Harry Enten.
Jan 20 2015
Questions, Questions, Not a Lot of Answers
In an extended segment of MSNBC’s “All In,” host Chris Hayes spoke with author and co-founder of “The Intercept” Jeremy Scahill about the claim by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) that they were responsible for the shooting at the satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo.” Later in the segment, Hayes speaks with satirical cartoonist, Ted Rall about the limits of free speech and expression.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: We Directed Paris Attack as ‘Vengeance for the Prophet’
By Jeremy Scahill, The Intercept
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has now officially taken responsibility for the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris last Friday, but denied any involvement in the subsequent attack on the kosher supermarket in Paris. [..]
As we reported earlier this week, “In analyzing AQAP’s potential role in the Paris attack, it’s worth remembering the four-month delay between the group praising the 2009 underwear plot and the group releasing evidence it actually orchestrated the act. Short of such video or photographic documentation, and even with an official statement from AQAP’s leadership, it would be difficult to prove that AQAP indeed sponsored the raid on Charlie Hebdo.” If such photographic or video evidence exists, AQAP will undoubtedly release it. When pressed as to whether the group has and will publish proof of this nature, an AQAP source told The Intercept, “We are not in a hurry.”
For in-depth analysis of AQAP, Anwar al Awlaki and the Paris attacks, see our previous coverage here and here.
On Charlie Hebdo and the Real Free Speech Weenies
By Ted Rall, A New Domain
Not everyone believes in free speech.
I’m not talking about those on the authoritarian right. No one expects them to stand up for the right to dissent. They are ideologically consistent; for them, the rights of the individual always is a distant second to the prerogatives of the state and its incessant campaign to maintain the status quo that keeps them in power.
Today I’m pointing to those – liberals, progressives, left libertarians – who purport to support freedom of expression, and must be seen to do so in order to continue to identify as members of the antiauthoritarian left, but only state their defense of press and personal freedom with reservations. [..]
If those cartoons hadn’t been outrageous, the cartoonists who drew them probably wouldn’t have gotten shot to death. (Similarly, my cartoons about 9/11 icons were over-the-top. That’s why they stirred a fuss.)
To believe in freedom of expression, to truly defend satire, we must stand up for it unequivocally, without reservation – not despite our distaste for the cartoons or standup routines or humorous essays or films drawing fire from critics and potential murderers, but because they make us uncomfortable.
If you can’t compartmentalize, if you can’t refrain from playing the critic even when the cartoons or whatever have gotten their creators blown away by automatic weapons, then you are not with us. You are with them.
Jan 14 2015
Anonynous Launches #OpCharlieHebdo
Fighting fire with cyber attacks:
On January 9th, the hacker group Anonymous launched #OpCharlieHebdo to take down websites and social media networks of Islamic extremist groups] as avenge the attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The announcement was made on You Tube
The threat has produced results:
Anonymous blocks jihadist website in retaliation for Charlie Hebdo attack
By David Goldman and Mark Thompson, CNN Money
Hackers claiming to be with the group Anonymous say they have hacked a jihadist website in retaliation for the terror attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The website ansar-alhaqq.net, a French jihadist site, currently redirects to Duck Duck Go, a search engine. Hackers using the Twitter handle @OpCharlieHebdo claimed responsibility.
Anonymous also named dozens of Twitter accounts that the hacktivist group says belong to jihadists.
The hackers posted the Twitter handles on Pastebin, a website that lets people post information anonymously online.
Jan 14 2015
Terror Attacks: Rogue Actions or Global Conspiracy
By Jeremy Scahill, The Intercept
n the days since the siege at the Paris magazine Charlie Hebdo, the press and social media sites have been consumed with the possible answers to one question: Beyond the two shooters, Said and Cherif Kouachi, who is responsible for the attack that killed 12 people at the magazine’s offices?
On Friday, shortly after the gunmen were killed by French forces in a raid on a printing plant outside of Paris, a source from within al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) provided The Intercept with a series of messages and statements taking responsibility for the attacks, asserting that AQAP’s leadership “directed” the raid on the magazine to avenge the honor of the Prophet Mohammed.
Moments after The Intercept published these statements, an AQAP official, Bakhsaruf al-Danqaluh tweeted, in Arabic, the exact paragraphs the AQAP source provided us. Within an hour of that, AQAP’s senior cleric, Sheikh Harith bin Ghazi al-Nadhari, released an audio statement through AQAP’s official media wing, praising the attack. “Some of the sons of France showed a lack of manners with Allah’s messengers, so a band of Allah’s believing army rose against them, and they taught them the proper manners, and the limits of freedom of speech,” Nadhari declared. “How can we not fight the ones that attacked the Prophet and attacked the religion and fought the believers?” While heaping passionate praise on the attack on Charlie Hebdo, Nadhari stopped short of making any claim that AQAP directed or was in any way involved with the planning.
Historically, when AQAP has taken credit for attacks, it has used al Qaeda central’s al-Fajr Media to distribute statements and video or audio recordings through the AQAP media outlet al-Malahim to a variety of jihadist forums. But over the past year, AQAP has broadened its distribution strategy and has begun using Twitter and other social media sites. While AQAP continues to use al-Malahim, “the vast majority if not all of the releases are now released onto Twitter first via authenticated Twitter accounts that have become the first point of release,” says Aaron Zelin, an expert on al Qaeda and other militant groups and a senior fellow at the Washington Institute. “This has been the case ever since late July 2014, though AQAP had been making a slow transition going all the way back to early 2014.” Zelin’s analysis of this new distribution strategy tracks with how AQAP sources began to assert responsibility for the Paris attacks last week, with the one caveat being that an AQAP source provided the tweets in advance to a media outlet, The Intercept.
In the past, AQAP publicly took responsibility through its official media and communication channels. None of that has happened yet in the case of the Kouachi brothers’ Paris attack. [..]
In analyzing AQAP’s potential role in the Paris attack, it’s worth remembering the four-month delay between the group praising the 2009 underwear plot and the group releasing evidence it actually orchestrated the act. Short of such video or photographic documentation, and even with an official statement from AQAP’s leadership, it would be difficult to prove that AQAP indeed sponsored the raid on Charlie Hebdo.
Scahill, the co-founder of The Intercept, spoke with Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman about these claims
Transcript can be read here
Jan 13 2015
Privacy Under Attack After Charlie Hebdo
Well, this didn’t take long. President Barack Obama and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron didn’t let any dust settle.
Cybersecurity bill: privacy activists warn of unnecessarily ‘broad legal immunity’
By Dan Roberts, The Gusrdian
White House hoping legislation will toughen private sector response by allowing companies to share information with government agencies including NSA
Barack Obama plans to announce new cybersecurity measures on Tuesday amid warnings from privacy campaigners about unnecessarily “broad legal immunity” that could put personal information at risk in the wake of attacks like the Sony Pictures hack.
Just a day after the Pentagon’s own Twitter account was compromised and Obama pushed a 30-day window for consumer security breaches, his administration was hoping the proposed legislation would toughen the response of the private sector by allowing companies to share information with government agencies including the NSA – almost immediately and under broad protection. [..]
The administration believes the legislation is necessary partly to give companies legal immunity for sharing information on attacks so that counter-measures can be coordinated, but the White House has stepped back from suggestions that companies should be allowed to individually retaliate against hackers, fearing such encouragement could lead to an escalation of cyber warfare.
A White House statement released in advance of Obama’s speech on Tuesday said it “encourages the private sector to share appropriate cyber threat information with the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center”.
David Cameron pledges anti-terror law for internet after Paris attacks
By Nicholas Watt, Rowena Mason and Ian Traynor, The Guardian
PM calls for new laws to break into terrorists’ communications but Nick Clegg warns of encroachment on civil liberties
Britain’s intelligence agencies should have the legal power to break into the encrypted communications of suspected terrorists to help prevent any Paris-style attacks, David Cameron proposed on Monday.
The prime minister said a future Conservative government would aim to deny terrorists “safe space” to communicate online, days after a warning from the director general of MI5, Andrew Parker, that the intelligence agencies are in danger of losing the ability to monitor “dark places” on the net.
His proposed legislation, which would be introduced within the first year of Cameron’s second term in Downing Street if the Conservatives win the election, would provide a new legal framework for Britain’s GCHQ and other intelligence agencies to crack the communications of terror suspects if there was specific intelligence of an imminent attack. Political approval would also be necessary.
They aren’t the only ones leaping on the security train wreck, the French and Italian governments have hooped on board.
More Surveillance Won’t Protect Free Speech
By Jillian York, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Following a terrorist attack, it is not uncommon to hear calls from politicians and government officials for increased surveillance. Fear and grief can lead to quick “solutions” that have significant consequences; as we pointed out last week, some of the most far-reaching surveillance and law enforcement powers around the world were devised in the wake of tragedies.
That’s why what we’re hearing this week-in the wake of the attack on Charlie Hebdo-alarms us. On Friday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls suggested that “it will be necessary to take further measures” to address the threat of terrorism, despite the fact that French intelligence had collected “reams of intelligence” on the terror suspects, and despite a draconian anti-terror law established last November. As our German colleagues point out in a joint statement, France already has some of the strictest security measures in Europe. [..]
Italian authorities are planning new legislation that would enable the government to seize the passports of those suspected of traveling to Syria to join the Islamic State. Interior Minister Angelino Alfano stated Friday that Italy also needed “greater access to conversations between extremists online,” demanding help from Internet companies to provide the Italian government with better access to such data in order to create a “black list” of those who pose a security threat. [..]
Mass surveillance doesn’t only infringe on our privacy, but also our ability to speak freely. As a recent PEN American study found, for writers around the world, surveillance has the effect of chilling speech. The knowledge, or even the perception of surveillance, can prompt writers to think twice before touching upon a given issue.
Let us resist attempts to use this tragic moment as an opportunity to advance law enforcement surveillance powers. Freedom of speech can only thrive when we also have the right to privacy.
And last but not least, there is Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat, scared that your i-phone is harboring criminals
New York’s Top Prosecutor Says We Need New Laws To Fight iPhone/Android Encryption
By Tim Cushing, Techdirt
from the because-child-murdering-drug-dealers,-of-course dept
The greatest threat to law enforcement since the motocar continues to receive attention from entities aghast at the notion that peoples’ communications and data might not be instantly accessible by law enforcement. Apple’s decision (followed shortly thereafter by Google) to offer default encryption for phone users has kicked off an avalanche of paranoid hyperbole declaring this effort to be a boon for pedophiles, murders and drug dealers.
New laws have been called for and efforts are being made to modify existing laws to force Apple and Google into providing “law enforcement-only” backdoors, as if such a thing were actually possible. New York County’s top prosecutor, Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance — speaking at an FBI-hosted cybersecurity conference — is the latest to offer up a version of “there ought to be a law.”
Mark Jaycox and Lee Tien of Electronic Frontier Foundaton released this statement regarding the president’s proposal.
Statement on President Obama’s Cybersecurity Legislative Proposal
More needs to be done to protect cyberspace and enhance computer security. But President Obama’s cybersecurity legislative proposal recycles old ideas that should remain where they’ve been since May 2011: on the shelf. Introducing information sharing proposals with broad liability protections, increasing penalties under the already draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and potentially decreasing the protections granted to consumers under state data breach law are both unnecessary and unwelcome.
The status quo of overweening national security and law enforcement secrecy means that expanded information sharing poses a serious risk of transferring more personal information to intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Given that the White House rightly criticized CISPA in 2013 for potentially facilitating the unnecessary transfer of personal information to the government or other private sector entities when sending cybersecurity threat data, we’re concerned that the Administration proposal will unintentionally legitimize the approach taken by these dangerous bills.
Instead of proposing unnecessary computer security information sharing bills, we should tackle the low-hanging fruit. This includes strengthening the current information sharing hubs and encouraging companies to use them immediately after discovering a threat. [..]
The administration’s proposals to increase penalties in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act are equally troubling. We agree with the President: “Law enforcement must have appropriate tools to investigate, disrupt and prosecute cyber crime;” however, the past two years of surveillance disclosures has shown law enforcement certainly doesn’t need more legal authorities to conduct digital surveillance or prosecute criminals. [..]
Federal Data Breach Law
The President’s legislative proposal also follows up on yesterday’s announcement to pursue a federal data breach law. Consumers have a right to know when their data is exposed, whether through corporate misconduct, malicious hackers, or under other circumstances. Over 38 states already have some form of breach notification law-so the vast majority of Americans already get some protection on this score. While the President has not yet released detailed legislative language, the Administration’s May 2011 Cybersecurity legislative proposal would preempt state notification laws, removing the strong California standard and replacing it with a weaker standard. [..]
Many of these proposals are old ideas from the administration’s May 2011 Cybersecurity legislative proposal and should be viewed skeptically. While the Administration information sharing proposal may have better privacy protections than dangerously drafted bills like CISPA, we think the initial case for expanding information sharing requires much less secrecy about how intelligence and law enforcement agencies collect and use data on our networks. And instead of increasing penalties under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, we’ve long advocated common sense reform to decrease them.
Here’s hoping there are enough sane heads left in legislatures to stop this in its tracks, on both sides of the pond.
Jan 10 2015
Charlie Hebdo in 2006
From the New York Times Op-Docs.
By Jérôme Lambert and Philippe Picard
In February 2006 the editors of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo met to discuss a matter of what turned out to be deadly consequence: Would they publish a satirical image of Muhammad on their cover? We were making a documentary about Jean Cabut, known as Cabu, one of the most famous cartoonists in France. So we were there, filming his conversation with his colleagues as they chose the cover. The issue that came out of this meeting – with a Cabu cartoon on the cover and the images they discussed here – turned out to be one of the most popular in the magazine’s history. Almost nine years later, gunmen stormed this very meeting and killed 10 editors and cartoonists, including three of the people in this film: Cabu, Bernard Verlhac (known as Tignous) and Georges Wolinski.
Jan 07 2015
Nous Sommes Charlie Hebdo
This morning’s attack on the satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo“ in Paris, France that killed ten journalists and two police officers was an attack on freedom of the press and free speech everywhere.
!!! RT @jk_rowling: Sometimes a picture says it better than any writer could. #CharlieHebdo pic.twitter.com/2HpTGOtV3P
— Ellie Hall (@ellievhall) January 7, 2015
Nov 19 2014
Ratmach Needs Our Help
Our dearest friend poor ratmach is trapped under ten feet of snow in Buffalo.
What a shitty time to be a fucking Bills fan!