December 2015 Archives

Police and Prosecutorial Dominance


Basically, research shows why so many men prefer to be violent assholes.

Research Suggests Why Grand Juries Fail to Indict

Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy, playing with a toy gun in a Cleveland park, was shot and killed by police called to the scene by a neighbor. On Monday, a grand jury failed to indict the cops who killed Rice. The failure to indict anyone in the murder of a child is sickening, but not in any way surprising. The non-indictment of these Cleveland cops responsible for Rice's murder stands in a long and depressing list of recent failures to indict: in the death of Eric Garner, in the death of Sandra Bland, in the death of Michael Brown.

Someone unfamiliar with the U.S. judicial system might glance at this string of failed indictments and imagine that it's fairly common for grand juries to not bring indictments. In fact, it's just the opposite. Grand juries almost always indict every case brought before them by a prosecutor. So why this succession of failed indictments?

There is a ton of research that suggests some explanations.

  • Police & Prosecutorial Dominance. "The house always wins," and in police-involved shootings, the "house" is the police. Even in the rare cases when officers are indicted for shootings, such as in the killing of Amadou Diallo, the indicted officers are likely to be acquitted, restored to their jobs, and later promoted. This police and prosecutorial dominance is not merely a case of closing ranks behind a blue wall of silence, but part of the larger fabric of the systemic racism known as the New Jim Crow. The dominance of police and prosecutors is now, over the last 30 years, become part of the legislative and judicial system, as Michelle Alexander has detailed in her work.

michelle alexander - new jim crow book cover

(Michelle Alexander, author of New Jim Crow)

  • White Dominance of Police Departments. Throughout the U.S., police departments tend to be whiter than the general population. For example, Maple Heights, the neighborhood in Cleveland where Tamir Rice lived, went from being mostly white to nearly two-thirds black in the last few decades. But the police force there remains predominantly white, despite a 1977 affirmative action deal in which the city agreed to hire more people of color. Overall, in the U.S. the percentage of whites on a police force is more than 30 percentage points higher than in the communities they serve, according to an analysis by the NYTimes drawn from a government survey of police departments.


  • Whites' Anti-Black Views Shape Policing. The perspectives of whites, as policy makers, police and as plain citizens who call 911 on a neighborhood boy playing in a nearby park as a cause for concern, shape the way policing is done in the U.S. Nearly half of whites believe "many" or "almost all" black men are violent. Whites overestimate the amount of crime, in particular violent crime, involving blacks.

graph - whites overestimate black part in crime

(image source)


When describing the events surrounding the killing of Tamir Rice, the prosecutor described a "perfect storm of human error." It seems that the right to be a human being, is not one that Tamir Rice, or Sandra Bland, or Eric Garner, or Amadou Diallo will get.

New Bank Paradigm : Run for the Hills


Ellen Brown - Addressing A Digital Divide



Digital currency is destined to change almost everything about our money systems and management. The traditional gatekeepers of credit, and the types of credit issued, are also changing.  This week Ellen talks with Scott Smith, an author, financial innovator and presidential candidate who achieved great success in the old mechanics of money but sees a brighter path ahead with simple changes that can do away with income tax and the national debt.  Co-host Walt McRee speaks with the CEO of a community-dedicated credit union choosing to leave the business because of harassment from the federal agency that oversees them.

radio show

Banks Own the Deposits You Make

| A Debt They Owe You.... So you are just another unsecured creditor if they go bust...get in line.

A Crisis Worse Than Islamic State? Bank 'Bail-Ins' Begin

By Ellen Brown / Web of Debt

BailIn.jpgAt the end of November, an Italian pensioner hanged himself after his entire €100,000 savings were confiscated in a bank "rescue" scheme. He left a suicide note blaming the bank, where he had been a customer for 50 years and had invested in bank-issued bonds. But he might better have blamed the EU and the G20's Financial Stability Board, which have imposed an "Orderly Resolution" regime that keeps insolvent banks afloat by confiscating the savings of investors and depositors. Some 130,000 shareholders and junior bond holders suffered losses in the "rescue."

The pensioner's bank was one of four small regional banks that had been put under special administration over the past two years. The €3.6 billion ($3.83 billion) rescue plan launched by the Italian government uses a newly-formed National Resolution Fund, which is fed by the country's healthy banks. But before the fund can be tapped, losses must be imposed on investors; and in January, EU rules will require that they also be imposed on depositors. According to a December 10th article on

The rescue was a "bail-in" - meaning bondholders suffered losses - unlike the hugely unpopular bank bailouts during the 2008 financial crisis, which cost ordinary EU taxpayers tens of billions of euros.
Correspondents say [Italian Prime Minister] Renzi acted quickly because in January, the EU is tightening the rules on bank rescues - they will force losses on depositors holding more than €100,000, as well as bank shareholders and bondholders.
. . . [L]etting the four banks fail under those new EU rules next year would have meant "sacrificing the money of one million savers and the jobs of nearly 6,000 people".

That is what is predicted for 2016: massive sacrifice of savings and jobs to prop up a "systemically risky" global banking scheme.

Bail-in Under Dodd-Frank

That is all happening in the EU. Is there reason for concern in the US?

Tragedy So Deep and Too Frequent


Cleveland's Terrible Stain


tamir_NYT OPED.jpgPhoto Credit Oliver Munday

Tamir Rice of Cleveland would be alive today had he been a white 12-year-old playing with a toy gun in just about any middle-class neighborhood in the country on the afternoon of Nov. 22, 2014.

But Tamir, who was shot to death by a white police officer that day, had the misfortune of being black in a poor area of Cleveland, where the police have historically behaved as an occupying force that shoots first and asks questions later. To grow up black and male in such a place is to live a highly circumscribed life, hemmed in by forces that deny your humanity and conspire to kill you.

Those forces hovered over the proceedings on Monday when a grand jury declined to indict Officer Timothy Loehmann in the killing and Timothy McGinty, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, explained why he had asked the grand jurors to not bring charges. Mr. McGinty described the events leading up to Tamir's death as tragic series of errors and "miscommunications" that began when a 911 caller said a male who was "probably a juvenile" was waving a "probably fake" gun at people in a park.

The fact that those caveats never reached Officer Loehmann -- who shot the child within seconds of arriving on the scene -- was more than just an administrative misstep. It reflects an utter disregard for the lives of the city's black residents. That disregard pervades every aspect of this case and begins with the fact that the department failed to even review Officer Loehmann's work history before giving him the power of life and death over the citizens of Cleveland. Had the department done so, it would have found that Officer Loehmann had quit a suburban police department where he had showed a "dangerous loss of composure" during firearms training and was found to be emotionally unfit for the stress of the job.

Officer Loehmann joined a police department that itself had acquired a well-documented reputation for wanton violence and for shooting at people who posed no threat to the police or others. In a particularly striking event, documented by the Justice Department last year, officers mistook the sound of a car backfiring for a gunshot. They chased down and fired at the vehicle 137 times, killing two occupants who turned out to be unarmed.

The lengthy Justice Department report shows clearly why the black community viewed the Cleveland police as dangerous and profoundly out of control. In May, the Police Department entered an agreement with the Justice Department, enforceable by the courts, under which it is to adopt sweeping reforms.

The Police Department's disregard for life was fully evident in the way the officers behaved after shooting Tamir. A surveillance video shows them standing by the child for four minutes without giving medical assistance, which was finally provided by an F.B.I. agent who happened to be in the neighborhood. Officer Frank Garmback, Officer Loehmann's partner, nonetheless tackled the wounded boy's 14-year-old sister as she tried to rush to his side. One can only imagine her suffering as she watched in handcuffs from the back seat of the squad car while her brother lay bleeding on the ground.

In addition to portraying the killing as a result of a tragic misunderstanding, prosecutors have also suggested the officer's decision to kill Tamir was shaped by the fact that the surrounding neighborhood had a history of violence and that the boy appeared to be older than 12 because he was big for his age.

These arguments sidestep the history of violent, discriminatory police actions that led up to this boy's death. They also have the reprehensible effect of shifting the responsibility for this death onto the shoulders of this very young victim.

There Is No Option


but to remove these "people" ...permanently.

For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions

The very richest are able to quietly shape tax policy that will allow them to shield millions, if not billions, of their income.

By Noam Scheiber and Patricia Cohen

taxfortherich.jpgThe hedge fund magnates Daniel S. Loeb, Louis Moore Bacon and Steven A. Cohen have much in common. They have managed billions of dollars in capital, earning vast fortunes. They have invested millions in art -- and millions more in political candidates.

Moreover, each has exploited an esoteric tax loophole that saved them millions in taxes. The trick? Route the money to Bermuda and back.

With inequality at its highest levels in nearly a century and public debate rising over whether the government should respond to it through higher taxes on the wealthy, the very richest Americans have financed a sophisticated and astonishingly effective apparatus for shielding their fortunes. Some call it the "income defense industry," consisting of a high-priced phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists and anti-tax activists who exploit and defend a dizzying array of tax maneuvers, virtually none of them available to taxpayers of more modest means.

In recent years, this apparatus has become one of the most powerful avenues of influence for wealthy Americans of all political stripes, including Mr. Loeb and Mr. Cohen, who give heavily to Republicans, and the liberal billionaire George Soros, who has called for higher levies on the rich while at the same time using tax loopholes to bolster his own fortune.

Counting Cop Kills


How do you take the violence out of American culture? You kill them all. - American pundit

Harvard's idea for tracking police killings

By Thandisizwe Chimurenga


As a means of accountability and transparency, activists and academics have hammered home the position that police killings are a public health issue for the last year and a half. Researchers at Harvard have seconded that proposition, calling the issue an "epidemic" and have now put forth a proposal to get it done. Simply making a death by police a "notifiable condition," similar to a death from a "notifiable disease" such as botulism, cholera or smallpox, is all that's needed. The researchers state:

"No act of Congress is needed. No police department need be involved. Public health agencies can do the job. Public health experts, working with the US Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (which issues recommendations for notifiable conditions) and with public input, can together create uniform case definitions and surveillance protocols to compile, in one uniform system, both: (a) deaths caused by law-enforcement officials (whether in the public or private sector, e.g., both local police officers and private security guards) and (b) occupational fatalities of law-enforcement officials."

The researchers at Harvard decried the fact that folks in the U.S. are (somewhat) reliant on a United Kingdom-based publication such as The Guardian to find out how many folks are killed over here by police. They did not mention that the Washington Post is also giving the tally a shot. No pun intended.

The Harvard study and its authors make a clear case for why such a proposal is necessary:

"The role of public health is to document the deaths that have occurred; it is a separate matter, in the realm of the legal system, to determine the circumstances under which the deaths have occurred (e.g., whether use of force was justifiable or not). However, in addition to the harms experienced directly by individuals due to law-enforcement-related violence, there is another important casualty: the public health harms that arise from the damage rendered to the body politic itself. Police are one of the most visible "faces" of government, whose work daily puts them in view of the public they are sworn to protect. Combine excess police violence with inadequate prosecution of such violence, and the ties that bind citizens and their democratically elected governments become deeply frayed, with vicious cycles of distrust and violence fueling dysfunctional policing and dysfunctional governance more generally. The direct effects and spill-over effects matter for public health and medicine alike, as reflected in the impact on emergency medical services, trauma units, mental health, and the trust required to deliver and implement any government-sponsored program, public health or otherwise."

Here's to hoping they are successful on this front of the struggle for accountability and transparency, as well as an end to rampant police killings.

We Are All Cowards Against the Altitude


Here it is...Hedges lays out the exact truth that unless we are willing to destroy the corporate and elite mechanisms of control, we are doomed. There is no other way and history proves it.

The Illusion of Freedom

Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity. "Patriotism" is its cult. It should hardly be necessary to say, that by "patriotism" I mean that attitude which puts the own nation above humanity, above the principles of truth and justice; not the loving interest in one's own nation, which is the concern with the nation's spiritual as much as with its material welfare -never with its power over other nations. Just as love for one individual which excludes the love for others is not love, love for one's country which is not part of one's love for humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship.

Erich Fromm, The Sane Society

By Chris Hedges

The seizure of political and economic power by corporations is unassailable. Who funds and manages our elections? Who writes our legislation and laws? Who determines our defense policies and vast military expenditures? Who is in charge of the Department of the Interior? The Department of Homeland Security? Our intelligence agencies? The Department of Agriculture? The Food and Drug Administration? The Department of Labor? The Federal Reserve? The mass media? Our systems of entertainment? Our prisons and schools? Who determines our trade and environmental policies? Who imposes austerity on the public while enabling the looting of the U.S. Treasury and the tax boycott by Wall Street? Who criminalizes dissent?

A disenfranchised white working class vents its lust for fascism at Trump campaign rallies. Naive liberals, who think they can mount effective resistance within the embrace of the Democratic Party, rally around the presidential candidacy of Bernie Sanders, who knows that the military-industrial complex is sacrosanct. Both the working class and the liberals will be sold out. Our rights and opinions do not matter. We have surrendered to our own form of wehrwirtschaft. We do not count within the political process.

This truth, emotionally difficult to accept, violates our conception of ourselves as a free, democratic people. It shatters our vision of ourselves as a nation embodying superior virtues and endowed with the responsibility to serve as a beacon of light to the world. It takes from us the "right" to impose our fictitious virtues on others by violence. It forces us into a new political radicalism. This truth reveals, incontrovertibly, that if real change is to be achieved, if our voices are to be heard, corporate systems of power have to be destroyed. This realization engenders an existential and political crisis. The inability to confront this crisis, to accept this truth, leaves us appealing to centers of power that will never respond and ensures we are crippled by self-delusion.

The longer fantasy is substituted for reality, the faster we sleepwalk toward oblivion. There is no guarantee we will wake up. Magical thinking has gripped societies in the past. Those civilizations believed that fate, history, superior virtues or a divine force guaranteed their eternal triumph. As they collapsed, they constructed repressive dystopias. They imposed censorship and forced the unreal to be accepted as real. Those who did not conform were disappeared linguistically and then literally.

The vast disconnect between the official narrative of reality and reality itself creates an Alice-in-Wonderland experience. Propaganda is so pervasive, and truth is so rarely heard, that people do not trust their own senses. We are currently being assaulted by political campaigning that resembles the constant crusading by fascists and communists in past totalitarian societies. This campaigning, devoid of substance and subservient to the mirage of a free society, is anti-politics.

No vote we cast will alter the configurations of the corporate state. The wars will go on. Our national resources will continue to be diverted to militarism. The corporate fleecing of the country will get worse. Poor people of color will still be gunned down by militarized police in our streets. The eradication of our civil liberties will accelerate. The economic misery inflicted on over half the population will expand. Our environment will be ruthlessly exploited by fossil fuel and animal agriculture corporations and we will careen toward ecological collapse. We are "free" only as long as we play our assigned parts. Once we call out power for what it is, once we assert our rights and resist, the chimera of freedom will vanish. The iron fist of the most sophisticated security and surveillance apparatus in human history will assert itself with a terrifying fury.

The powerful web of interlocking corporate entities is beyond our control. Our priorities are not corporate priorities. The corporate state, whose sole aim is exploitation and imperial expansion for increased profit, sinks money into research and development of weapons and state surveillance systems while it starves technologies that address global warming and renewable energy. Universities are awash in defense money but cannot find funds for environmental studies. Our bridges, roads and levees are crumbling from neglect. Our schools are overcrowded, decaying and being transformed into for-profit vocational centers. Our elderly and poor are abandoned and impoverished.

Young men and women are crippled by unemployment or underemployment and debt peonage. Our for-profit health care drives the sick into bankruptcy. Our wages are being suppressed and the power of government to regulate corporations is dramatically diminished by a triad of new trade agreements--the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trade in Services Agreement. Government utilities and services, with the implementation of the Trade in Services Agreement, will see whole departments and services, from education to the Postal Service, dismantled and privatized. Our manufacturing jobs, sent overseas, are not coming back. And a corporate media ignores the decay to perpetuate the fiction of a functioning democracy, a reviving economy and a glorious empire.

Clintons in the 70's


Who knew?


Gravity Lenses


A century after Albert Einstein proposed that gravity could bend light, astronomers now rely on galaxies or even clusters of galaxies to magnify distant stars.

George Clayton Johnson (1929 - 2015)


The iconic sci-fi author/screenwriter George Clayton Johnson, who holds the distinction of writing what turned out to be the first Star Trek episode ever to air, died on Christmas Day at the age of 86, several days after inaccurate news of his passing had circulated.

Johnson's Star Trek: The Original Series episode was, of course, "The Man Trap."

GeorgeClaytonjpg.jpgJohnson wrote two other proposed TOS stories, but neither was realized. In addition to his Trek work, Johnson wrote stories or scripts for dozens of movies and television shows, including the original Ocean's 11, The Twilight Zone (several seminal episodes, including "Kick the Can"), Kung Fu and Logan's Run (with both the movie and ensuing series based on the novel of the same name he'd co-written with William F. Nolan). Additionally, he wrote many essays, poems, short stories and more, was a welcome presence for decades at conventions, and was proud to be a hippie.

Speaking in 2003 to the Archive of American Television, Johnson said the following:

"I want to be remembered as a person who early on in his life took control of his life and set goals. When people gave me a lined paper, I wrote the other way. When people expect some certain behavior from me, I will frustrate their expectations."

Quote of the Day #62


Marian Griffth in reply to cranky_mccrankenstein ( via Truthdig )

Good to know you disengaged your brain when you read the letter 'A'

Assuming you're the same frankenstein who polluted previous discussions and didn't comprehend much of what you read then, here's the abbreviated version of the arguments.

    - Birth control fails. A staggering high percentage of the times it is used in fact.

    - A disgustingly high percentage of women have no choice in when they have intercourse(*)

    - Pregnancies go wrong every day, sometimes disastrously so,

    - You clearly show that the thought never got through your smug entitlement that a man has at least as much responsibility(**)

    - Most of all: /You have no right to dictate how other people live their lives/.

If you want to be an atavistic caveman who drags women by their hair to do your bidding, go swim from Miami to Riyadh. Or emigrate to southern Afghanistan where they force women to stay indoors, unless it is closely chained to a male relative, and where they force women to dress like black ghosts because men are too precious and too fragile (of ego) to even be expected to control their own d*cks...

(*Between one in ten and one in five men believe that if, in their
deluded opinion, a woman shows 'interest' in them, they have a right to
force her to have sex with them. Yes, about 10 percent of American men
believe there are situations they have a 'right' to /rape/ a woman.
Hundreds of women in the USA alone run afoul of that atavistic
patriarchal belief, Every day.)
(** Oh, I forgot, you can't ever be asked to use even a condom because it would diminish /your/ pleasure, and the idea of a vasectomy probably sends you into a murderous rage, right? No, in your patriarchal twisted worldview it is women who get pregnant so women who bear all the burden and responsibility for that)

Say No More


Say no more...

hat tip to Michael Manley ala Truthdig comments

click pic to enlarge

The Peculiar American Cancer


Slavery has existed seemingly wherever human societies have warred and taken prisoners...but race of the slaves was never the point until the Americans institutionalized it. Racism is peculiarly American and a major impediment to its evolution...but now it is being seen a direct cause of early death among Blacks as purely health issue in and of itself.

The Most Racist Areas in the United States

By Susan Grigsby

racism map.jpgDarker color means more racist

There are neighborhoods in Baltimore in which the life expectancy is 19 years less than other neighborhoods in the same city. Residents of the Downtown/Seaton Hill neighborhood have a life expectancy lower than 229 other nations, exceeded only by Yemen. According to the Washington Post, 15 neighborhoods in Baltimore have a lower life expectancy than North Korea.

North Korea.

And while those figures represent some of the most dramatic disparities in the life expectancy of black Americans as opposed to whites, a recent study of the health impacts of racism in America reveals that racist attitudes may cause up to 30,000 early deaths every year.

The study, Association between an Internet-Based Measure of Area Racism and Black Mortality, has just been published in PLOS ONE and has mapped out the most racist areas in the United States. As illustrated above, they are mostly located in the rural Northeast and down along the Appalachian Mountains into the South. How they did it and what it may mean are below the fold.

Ku_Kluxxers_in_august_1925.pngWe already know about the racism that led to Jim Crow, the KKK, and lynchings. We also know about the racism that has become embedded in our justice system, from cops who kill, to prosecutors who ensure that blacks receive longer prison terms than do whites. We know that those sentencing disparities lead to greater disenfranchisement of blacks.

We think we know how racism has injured and killed black Americans. But do we really? There are the obvious cases, like Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner, but what about the silent killers? The hypertension and the chronic medical conditions that lead so many more blacks to an early grave than they do whites. Could racist attitudes lead to 30,000 early deaths every year?

According to the authors of the study, current research points to a variety of causes for the disparities in health between white and black Americans, many of which can be traced to racial segregation. Many blacks are restricted to high-crime neighborhoods that are lacking in outdoor recreational areas, access to healthy foods, and decent health care. Discrimination in employment leads to lower wages that further impact the ability to enjoy healthy food, exercise, and recreation.

The authors also point out that:

... racial discrimination may also directly impact health by engaging psychobiological mechanisms induced in the stress response

Bertrand Russell's Message to the Future


What fools these a-holes be.

Kentucky Governor Lowers Minimum Wage, Strips Voting Rights

By Alexandra Jacobo


The newly elected governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, filed five executive orders this week. Among them were decisions that will strip former felons of voting rights and will lower the minimum wage for government workers and contractors.

Governor Bevin is a Tea Party Republican who took office less than a month ago from former Democratic Governor Steve Beshear.

While in office, Gov. Beshear restored voting rights to 140,000 former felons that have served their sentences. Now Gov. Bevin has reversed this.

Bevin stated:

"While I have been a vocal supporter of the restoration of rights, it is an issue that must be addressed through the legislature and by the will of the people."

His decision will affect mainly African Americans and individuals from lower income brackets, it will not, however, affect those who have already received a certificate confirming their restoration of rights.

Now former felons will have to petition for the restorations of their civil rights from the governor's office. This is disappointing, as studies have shown that ex-felons that have their voting rights restored are less likely to end up back in jail.

The decision was a shock to many, as Bevin promised during his election campaign that he would keep Beshear's reinstatement of voting rights.

Gov. Bevin also reversed former Gov. Beshear's executive order that raised the minimum wage for state government workers and contractors to $10.10 an hour. Those that have already received the raise will be able to stay at that rate, but anyone that is newly hired will start at only $7.25 an hour.

Bevin's reason for this was the following:

"The minimum wage stifles job creation and disproportionately impacts lower skilled workers seeking entry-level jobs."

He also believes that "Wage rates ideally would be established by the demands of the labor market instead of being set by the government."

A third executive order was filed to remove county clerks' names from marriage licenses. This was the well known request of County Clerk Kim Davis. Davis is a county clerk that had her 15 minutes of fame this summer when she refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses in Rowan County based on her religious beliefs. Bevin has now granted Davis's request as well as her additional demand: allowing for clerks to designate a third party to sign the marriage licenses.

The other two executive orders involved a hiring freeze for all positions in state government and abolishing the Governor's Employee Advisory Council.

Find the Panda (w/ Answer)


And yes there is one:

pandan.png click pic to enlarge


Military Psychosis in 1950's US


The Republican rhetoric from the likes of Rubio and Cruz and Christie are of this ilk.

1950s U.S. Nuclear Target List Offers Chilling Insight

By Scott Shane


Target category No. 275 from the nuclear target list for 1959 may be the most chilling. It is called simply "Population."

For the first time, the National Archives and Records Administration has released a detailed list of the United States' potential targets for atomic bombers in the event of war with the Soviet Union, showing the number and the variety of targets on its territory, as well as in Eastern Europe and China.

It lists many targets for "systematic destruction" in major cities, including 179 in Moscow (like "Agricultural Equipment" and "Transformers, Heavy"), 145 in Leningrad and 91 in East Berlin. The targets are referred to as DGZs or "designated ground zeros." While many are industrial facilities, government buildings and the like, one for each city is simply designated "Population."

"It's disturbing, for sure, to see the population centers targeted," said William Burr, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive, a research group at George Washington University that obtained the target list in response to a request first made in 2006. Mr. Burr, who specializes in nuclear history, said he believed it was the most detailed target list the Air Force had ever made public.

The targets are identified only generically, with code numbers that correspond to specific locations. The exact addresses and names of facilities from that period are in a still-classified "Bombing Encyclopedia," which Mr. Burr said he was trying to get declassified.

The 800-page document, marked "Top Secret" and in a fuzzy gray typescript, comes to light as the issue of air power and the possible targeting of civilians is again in the news. The United States has avoided bombing the Islamic State's headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, for instance, because of the presence of civilian prisoners in the same complex.

But some presidential candidates have criticized President Obama for not ordering more strikes, including Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, who has called for "carpet bombing" the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. When challenged, Mr. Cruz said that "the object isn't to level a city."

"The object is to kill the ISIS terrorists," he added, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

Civil Rights Are Threat to Public Safety


Or so the police would have us believe. Here's an article on the push back from law enforcement and why it is pure BS.

This piece first appeared at TomDispatch. Read Tom Engelhardt's introduction here.

Welcome to Cop Land

Matthew Harwood

windsheild bullet.jpg

If you've been listening to various police agencies and their supporters, then you know what the future holds: anarchy is coming--and it's all the fault of activists.

In May, a Wall Street Journal op-ed warned of a "new nationwide crime wave" thanks to "intense agitation against American police departments" over the previous year. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie went further. Talking recently with the host of CBS's Face the Nation, the Republican presidential hopeful asserted that the Black Lives Matter movement wasn't about reform but something far more sinister. "They've been chanting in the streets for the murder of police officers," he insisted. Even the nation's top cop, FBI Director James Comey, weighed in at the University of Chicago Law School, speaking of "a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year."

According to these figures and others like them, lawlessness has been sweeping the nation as the so-called Ferguson effect spreads. Criminals have been emboldened as police officers are forced to think twice about doing their jobs for fear of the infamy of starring in the next viral video. The police have supposedly become the targets of assassins intoxicated by "anti-cop rhetoric," just as departments are being stripped of the kind of high-powered equipment they need to protect officers and communities. Even their funding streams have, it's claimed, come under attack as anti-cop bias has infected Washington, D.C. Senator Ted Cruz caught the spirit of that critique by convening a Senate subcommittee hearing to which he gave the title, "The War on Police: How the Federal Government Undermines State and Local Law Enforcement." According to him, the federal government, including the president and attorney general, has been vilifying the police, who are now being treated as if they, not the criminals, were the enemy.

Beyond the storm of commentary and criticism, however, quite a different reality presents itself. In the simplest terms, there is no war on the police. Violent attacks against police officers remain at historic lows, even though approximately 1,000 people have been killed by the police this year nationwide. In just the past few weeks, videos have been released of problematic fatal police shootings in San Francisco and Chicago.

While it's too soon to tell whether there has been an uptick in violent crime in the post-Ferguson period, no evidence connects any possible increase to the phenomenon of police violence being exposed to the nation. What is taking place and what the police and their supporters are largely reacting to is a modest push for sensible law enforcement reforms from groups as diverse as Campaign Zero, Koch Industries, the Cato Institute, The Leadership Conference, and the ACLU (my employer). Unfortunately, as the rhetoric ratchets up, many police agencies and organizations are increasingly resistant to any reforms, forgetting whom they serve and ignoring constitutional limits on what they can do.

Indeed, a closer look at law enforcement arguments against commonsense reforms like independently investigating police violence, demilitarizing police forces, or ending "for-profit policing" reveals a striking disregard for concerns of just about any sort when it comes to brutality and abuse. What this "debate" has revealed, in fact, is a mainstream policing mindset ready to manufacture fear without evidence and promote the belief that American civil rights and liberties are actually an impediment to public safety. In the end, such law enforcement arguments subvert the very idea that the police are there to serve the community and should be under civilian control.

And that, when you come right down to it, is the logic of the police state.

For Those About to Die


On this Winter Solstice remember

Even without some faith in an afterlife to guide you Science has shown that nothing ever disappears without a trace... Nature doesn't know absolute extinction...only transformation... In essence we are all made up of the same atoms born in the heart of ancient exploded stars and in that manner we are all as eternal as the universe itself.

Eating in the 50's


Humorous Americana from John D

Pasta had not been invented. It was macaroni or spaghetti.

Curry was a surname.

A take-away was a mathematical problem.

Pizza? Sounds like a leaning tower somewhere.

Bananas and oranges only appeared at Christmas time.

All chips were plain.

Rice was a milk pudding, and almost never, ever part of our dinner.

A Big Mac was what we wore when it was raining.

Brown bread was something only poor people ate.

Oil was for lubricating, fat was for cooking.

Tea was made in a teapot using tea leaves and never green.

Cubed sugar was regarded as posh.

Chickens didn't have fingers in those days.

None of us had ever heard of yogurt.

Healthy food consisted of anything edible.

Cooking outside was called camping.

Seaweed was not a recognized food.

'Kebab' was not even a word, never mind a food.

Sugar enjoyed a good press in those days, and was regarded as being white gold.

Prunes were medicinal.

Surprisingly muesli was readily available. It was called cattle feed.

Pineapples came in chunks in a tin; we had only ever seen a picture of a real one.

Water came out of the tap. If someone had suggested bottling it and charging more than gasoline for it, they would have become a laughing stock.

The one thing that we never ever had on/at our table in the fifties...was elbows, hats and cell phones!

Buying Puerto Rico


A vital read...

Inside the Billion-Dollar Battle for Puerto Rico's Future

By Jonathon Mahler and Nicholas Confessore ( NYT )

The money poured in by the millions, then by the hundreds of millions, and finally by the billions. Over weak coffee in a conference room in Midtown Manhattan last year, a half-dozen Puerto Rican officials exhaled: Their cash-starved island had persuaded some of the country's biggest hedge funds to lend them more than $3 billion to keep the government afloat.

There were plenty of reasons for the hedge funds to like the deal: They would be earning, in effect, a 20 percent return. And under the island's Constitution, Puerto Rico was required to pay back its debt before almost any other bills, whether for retirees' health care or teachers' salaries.

But within months, Puerto Rico was saying it had run out of money, and the relationship between the impoverished United States territory and its unlikely saviors fell apart, setting up an extraordinary political and financial fight over Puerto Rico's future.

The investors with a stake in the outcome are some of the wealthiest people in America. Many of them have also taken on an outsize role in financing political campaigns in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision. They have put millions of dollars behind candidates of both parties, including Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. Some belong to a small circle of 158 families that provided half of the early money for the 2016 presidential race.

To block proposals that would put their investments at risk, a coalition of hedge funds and financial firms has hired dozens of lobbyists, forged alliances with Tea Party activists and recruited so-called AstroTurf groups on the island to make their case. This approach -- aggressive legal maneuvering, lobbying and the deployment of prodigious wealth -- has proved successful overseas, in countries like Argentina and Greece, yielding billions in profit amid economic collapse.

The pressure has been widely felt. Senator Marco Rubio, whose state, Florida, has a large Puerto Rican population, expressed interest this year in sponsoring bankruptcy legislation for the island, says Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut. Mr. Rubio's staff even joined in drafting the bill. But this summer, three weeks after a fund-raiser hosted by a hedge-fund founder, Mr. Rubio broke with those backing the measure. Bankruptcy, he said, should be considered only as a "last resort."

On the surface, it is a battle over whether Puerto Rico should be granted bankruptcy protections, putting at risk tens of billions of dollars from investors around the country. But it is also testing the power of an ascendant class of ultrarich Americans to steer the fate of a territory that is home to more than three million fellow citizens.

And this past week, House Republican leaders said any financial rescue for Puerto Rico may not come until the end of March.

The Reproductive Rights Rollback of 2015

By The NYT Editorial Board

nyt.abortion.jpgHow many laws making it harder to get an abortion will pass before the Supreme Court sees them for what they are -- part of a tireless, coordinated nationwide assault on the right of women to control what happens with their own bodies without the interference of politicians?

One answer is, no fewer than 288. That's how many abortion restrictions states have enacted since the beginning of 2011, when aggressively anti-choice lawmakers swept into statehouses around the country.

The trend accelerated in 2015, as state legislators passed 57 new constraints on a woman's right to choose. Hundreds more were considered, most of which could come up again in 2016. Most of the time, lawmakers are clever enough to disguise their true intent by claiming that their interest is in protecting women's physical or mental health. But now and then the facade falls away, as when the Mississippi governor, Phil Bryant, called a set of restrictions he signed into law in 2012 "the first step in a movement" that aims to "end abortion in Mississippi."

This is the ominous purpose the justices must not ignore as they hear a major lawsuit from Texas early next year. The case involves a state law passed in 2013 requiring abortion clinics to meet the same building, equipment and staffing standards as ambulatory surgical centers, a costly and medically unnecessary standard. The law also requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.

Laws like this -- known as TRAP laws, for targeted regulation of abortion providers -- have sprouted up in dozens of states as abortion opponents test the limits of the Supreme Court's vague standard on abortion rights, which asks whether a restriction poses an "undue burden" to a woman's right to choose.

That doesn't matter to anti-choice activists in places like Wisconsin and Indiana, where efforts by conservative lawmakers and governors have forced even those Planned Parenthood clinics that don't perform any abortions to shut down. A result is that many lower-income women lose access to basic health care as well as contraceptive services that would make them less likely to have unintended pregnancies.

By any reasonable measure, Texas' law places an undue burden on women seeking abortion services and should be struck down. Beyond doing that, the justices must send a clear and broad message affirming the constitutionally protected right of women to determine the course of their reproductive lives. Political opponents have shown how quickly they can regroup and find ways to restrict or obliterate programs and services women need.

All That Fraud


And no one jailed...
Because if you screw with their money they will have you killed.

OK PBS doesn't go that far...but this is still a great program

Krugman on "The Big Short"


'The Big Short,' Housing Bubbles and Retold Lies

Paul Krugman

In May 2009 Congress created a special commission to examine the causes of the financial crisis. The idea was to emulate the celebrated Pecora Commission of the 1930s, which used careful historical analysis to help craft regulations that gave America two generations of financial stability.

But some members of the new commission had a different goal. George Santayana famously remarked that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." What he didn't point out was that some people want to repeat the past -- and that such people have an interest in making sure that we don't remember what happened, or that we remember it wrong.

Sure enough, some commission members sought to block consideration of any historical account that might support efforts to rein in runaway bankers. As one of those members, Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute, wrote to a fellow Republican on the commission, it was important that what they said "not undermine the ability of the new House G.O.P. to modify or repeal Dodd-Frank," the financial regulations introduced in 2010. Never mind what really happened; the party line, literally, required telling stories that would help Wall Street do it all over again.

Which brings me to a new movie the enemies of financial regulation really, really don't want you to see.

"The Big Short" is based on the Michael Lewis book of the same name, one of the few real best-sellers to emerge from the financial crisis. I saw an early screening, and I think it does a terrific job of making Wall Street skulduggery entertaining, of exploiting the inherent black humor of how it went down.

The film achieves this feat mainly by personalizing the tale, focusing not on abstractions but on colorful individuals who saw the rot in the system and tried to make money off that realization. Of course, this still requires explaining what it was all about. Yet even the necessary expository set pieces work amazingly well. For example, we learn how dubious loans were repackaged into supposedly safe "collateralized debt obligations" via a segment in which the chef Anthony Bourdain explains how last week's fish can be disguised as seafood stew.

But you don't want me to play film critic; you want to know whether the movie got the underlying economic, financial and political story right. And the answer is yes, in all the ways that matter.

I could quibble over a few points: The group of people who recognized that we were experiencing the mother of all housing bubbles, and that this posed big dangers to the real economy, was bigger than the film might lead you to believe. It even included a few (cough) mainstream economists. But it is true that many influential, seemingly authoritative players, from Alan Greenspan on down, insisted not only that there was no bubble but that no bubble was even possible.

And the bubble whose existence they denied really was inflated largely via opaque financial schemes that in many cases amounted to outright fraud -- and it is an outrage that basically nobody ended up being punished for those sins aside from innocent bystanders, namely the millions of workers who lost their jobs and the millions of families that lost their homes.

While the movie gets the essentials of the financial crisis right, the true story of what happened is deeply inconvenient to some very rich and powerful people. They and their intellectual hired guns have therefore spent years disseminating an alternative view that the money manager and blogger Barry Ritholtz calls the Big Lie. It's a view that places all the blame for the financial crisis on -- you guessed it -- too much government, especially government-sponsored agencies supposedly pushing too many loans on the poor.

Martian Selfie


Comment of the Day #323


The article is by NYT columnist Roth Douthat, a typical Republican die-hard apologist tryjng to define the party modern situation by describing the positions of its top contenders...

The G.O.P. at a Crossroads


Sir Douhat continues to confuse Republicanism with a political party instead of the weird religious tribal cult of evangelical, racist and misanthropic Whites R Us Know Nothings and 0.1% Greed Over People ringmasters that it actually is.

The modern Republican Party's fundamental raison d'etre is personal greed and selfishness, which is generally accomplished by leading its disinformed masses to the economic slaughterhouse and sweeping all the proceeds to a handful of Robber Barons behind the Republican Wizard of Oz curtain of unfettered, rapacious, psychopathic greed.

The only thing conservative about Republicanism is the 'con'.

The GOP electoral strategy remains the same - how do we con and disinform enough people to vote against their own interests AND vote for the interests of the shamefully rich and powerful ?

These are the fundamental questions of today's Republican Party:

How do we make people hate healthcare and government ?

How do we make people hate the minimum wage and a living wage ?

How do we make people hate workers, worker rights and the poor ?

How do we make people hate science, contraception and higher education ?

How do we make people adore the rich ?

How do we make we the entire tax code an extravagant Christmas buffet for the rich while feeding 'delicious and nutritious' sand to the masses ?

The GOP remains at the crossroads of psychopathy and sociopathy, courting the cultured insanity of the masses to vote for the best Con Artist they've got.

Want Viagra?


S.C. Bill Would Make Men Go Through What Women Do to Get Abortions

She doesn't expect it to pass, but a South Carolina lawmaker has introduced legislation to force men to jump through the same hoops to get Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs as women do to gain access to abortion services.

mia-mcleod.jpg"I purposely tried to make it as invasive, as intrusive, as hypocritical and unnecessary as possible to make the point," state Rep. Mia McLeod, a Democrat from Columbia, said Tuesday.

McLeod -- a lawyer and public relations specialist -- told NBC station WCBD of Charleston she wants to make sure men in the male-dominated Legislature know what it feels like to have their reproductive rights targeted.

Under the full bill, which was prefiled Thursday, a man seeking Viagra, Cialis or any other drug intended to treat ED would have to:

  • Cool his heels for a 24-hour waiting period.
  • Submit a notarized affidavit from at least one sexual partner affirming that the patient has experienced symptoms of ED within the last 90 days.
  • Be examined by a state-licensed sexual therapist to make sure his ED isn't "attributable solely to one or more psychological conditions."
  • Attend three sessions of outpatient counseling within six months, "including sexual counseling and resources for patients to pursue celibacy as a viable lifestyle choice."

"Oh, I don't think it'll pass," McLeod told WCBD. "I really just want to broaden the discussion and get people thinking about and talking about some of the issues that women face who are seeking legal abortion services in this state."

The EU Leads the Privacy Fight


Europe Approves Tough New Data Protection Rules

Mark Scott

European officials approved long-awaited data protection regulations on Tuesday, the latest effort in the region to give people a greater say over how their digital information is collected and managed.

The changes, expected to go into effect by early 2017, would put into law across the 28-member European Union some policies now enforced after court rulings or in specific countries only. They are intended to bolster Europeans' privacy rights, which are viewed by the bloc as on a par with freedom of expression.

"These new Pan-European rules are good for citizens and good for businesses," Vera Jourova, the European justice commissioner, said in a statement on Tuesday. They "will profit from clear rules that are fit for the digital age."

The new rules were approved at a meeting of representatives from the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union; the European Parliament; and member states. The officials had been meeting regularly since the summer to reach a compromise, though they often differed on how far Europe's privacy rules should go in capping companies' access to people's online information.

Europe's national governments and the European Parliament are widely expected to back the proposals later this week, support that is necessary for the rules to go in effect.

Among the new policies approved on Tuesday:

■ Allowing national watchdogs to issue fines, potentially totaling the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars, if companies misuse people's online data, including obtaining information without people's consent.

■ Enshrining the so-called right to be forgotten into European law, giving people in the region the right to ask that companies remove data about them that is either no longer relevant or out of date.

■ Requiring companies to inform national regulators within three days of any reported data breach, a proposal that goes significantly further than what is demanded by American authorities.

■ Obliging anyone under 16 to obtain parental consent before using popular services like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, unless any national government lowers the age limit to 13.

■ Extending the new rules to any company that has customers in the region, even if the company is based outside the European Union

A New Fundamental Particle?


Physicists in Europe Find Tantalizing Hints of a Mysterious New Particle


Dennis Overbye

Does the Higgs boson have a cousin?

Two teams of physicists working independently at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, reported on Tuesday that they had seen traces of what could be a new fundamental particle of nature.

One possibility, out of a gaggle of wild and not-so-wild ideas springing to life as the day went on, is that the particle -- assuming it is real -- is a heavier version of the Higgs boson, a particle that explains why other particles have mass. Another is that it is a graviton, the supposed quantum carrier of gravity, whose discovery could imply the existence of extra dimensions of space-time.

At the end of a long chain of "ifs" could be a revolution, the first clues to a theory of nature that goes beyond the so-called Standard Model, which has ruled physics for the last quarter-century.

It is, however, far too soon to shout "whale ahoy," physicists both inside and outside CERN said, noting that the history of particle physics is rife with statistical flukes and anomalies that disappeared when more data was compiled.

A coincidence is the most probable explanation for the surprising bumps in data from the collider, physicists from the experiments cautioned, saying that a lot more data was needed and would in fact soon be available.

"I don't think there is anyone around who thinks this is conclusive," said Kyle Cranmer, a physicist from New York University who works on one of the CERN teams, known as Atlas. "But it would be huge if true," he said, noting that many theorists had put their other work aside to study the new result.

When all the statistical effects are taken into consideration, Dr. Cranmer said, the bump in the Atlas data had about a 1-in-93 chance of being a fluke -- far stronger than the 1-in-3.5-million odds of mere chance, known as five-sigma, considered the gold standard for a discovery. That might not be enough to bother presenting in a talk except for the fact that the competing CERN team, named C.M.S., found a bump in the same place.

"What is nice is that it is not a particularly crazy signal, in a quite clean channel," said Nima Arkani-Hamed, a particle theorist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., speaking before the announcement. "So, while we are nowhere near moving champagne even vaguely close to the fridge, it is intriguing."

Official Brutality


An Inmate Dies, and No One Is Punished

By Michael Winerip and Michael Schwirtz

Inmates who have served time at the Clinton Correctional Facility here tell of being taken aside by a sergeant soon after they arrive and given a warning: Cross the guards, and bad things can happen.

And they do. Inmates describe being ambushed by guards and beaten, taunted with racial slurs, and kept out of sight, in solitary confinement, until the injuries inflicted on them have healed enough to avoid arousing suspicion.

One story in particular has been passed along over the last few years as a kind of parable of brutality and injustice on the cellblocks. Leonard Strickland was a prisoner with schizophrenia who got into an argument with guards, and ended up dead.

In the inmates' telling, the guards got away with murder, ganging up on Mr. Strickland and beating him so viciously that he could barely move. The guards deny this, saying they acted only in self-defense and did what was necessary to subdue an out-of-control prisoner.

But what came next is indisputable. In a security video obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Strickland is seen in handcuffs, barely conscious and being dragged along the floor by officers, while a prison nurse standing close by does nothing. Even as he lies face down on the floor, near death, guards can be heard shouting, "Stop resisting."

By the time an ambulance arrived, medical records described Mr. Strickland's body as cold to the touch and covered in cuts and bruises, with blood flowing from his ears.

Today's Quote #302


"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe".

- Frederick Douglass

PSA: New Ransomware Steals Passwords


A new variation of Ransomware is stealing your passwords - before locking down your files for ransom.

ALERT: This New Ransomware Steals Passwords Before Encrypting Files Thursday, December 03, 2015 Swati Khandelwal
The First Payload infects the victim's PC with a widely used data thief exploit known as Pony that systematically harvests all login usernames and passwords stored on the infected system and then sends them to servers controlled by hackers.
This allows attackers to obtain working logins for a number of websites, e-commerce sites, and even corporate applications, from which the hackers could steal more data.
The Second Payload drops the widely-used CryptoWall 4.0 Ransomware that locks user files until a ransom amount is paid.

Prevention is the Best Practice
As I previously recommended, one of the best defense measures to mitigate the Ransomware attack is to:
1. Keep your systems and apps up-to-date
2. Create awareness within the organizations
3. Maintain backups of your files on an external hard drive regularly
Most malware and viruses are introduced by clicking on links usually contained in spam emails and opening attachments from unknown sources.
So, DO NOT CLICK on any suspicious link provided in the emails and attachments from unknown sources.

How to Prevent & Avoid Ransomware

Leo Notenboom

You protect yourself from ransomware exactly like you protect yourself from all viruses and malware.
1. You should have a firewall. A router is probably good enough and an additional software firewall is fine if you're paranoid. Turning on the Windows 7 firewall these days is usually enough.
2. Run up-to-date anti-malware tools. I happen to recommend Microsoft Security Essentials, but there are many, many others. Make sure that they are running and up-to-date.
3. Keep your system and software up-to-date.
4. And of course the usual advice applies: don't download random things from the internet; don't open attachments that you aren't completely certain are valid and correct. The most recent and virulent ransomware seems to arrive most often in the form of an email attachment.
Basically, do all the things you should already be doing to keep yourself safe on the internet. In fact, that's the article that I'm going to point you at ("Internet Safety: 8 Steps to Keeping Your Computer Safe on the Internet") because that's really all this boils down to doing.
This happens to be just one style of threat - a particularly nasty one - but one that you protect yourself from it in the exact same way that you protect yourself from all other styles of attack... all other styles of malware.

GW on the GOP Field


Post Racial America is a Myth


How the Bitter White Minority in the South Ended Up With Huge Power in Washington

By Paul Rosenberg / Salon

Donald Trump's recent failed attempt to surprise the political world with a sizable group endorsement by black ministers occasioned a very sharp observation from Joy Reid on The Last Word. After Jonathan Allen noted that Trump was desperately looking for "a racial or ethnic or any other type of minority that he can go to and not already have basically poisoned the well," Reid helpfully clarified the why of it all: "Republican primary, that's not about black and Latin voters, because there really aren't any in the Republican primary," Reid said. "That's about white suburban voters who want permission to go with Donald Trump."

The entire article is here.

Reducing Disease Spread on Airline Flights


Raymond Wang is only 17 years old, but he's already helping to build a healthier future. Using fluid dynamics, he created computational simulations of how air moves on airplanes, and what he found is disturbing -- when a person sneezes on a plane, the airflow actually helps to spread pathogens to other passengers. Wang shares an unforgettable animation of how a sneeze travels inside a plane cabin as well as his prize-winning solution: a small, fin-shaped device that increases fresh airflow in airplanes and redirects pathogen-laden air out of circulation.

Think You Know Your Religions?


Test Your Religion Savvy


I'm hoping Donald Trump will read my column today and take my quiz on religion. But I don't think he'll do very well -- or appreciate its larger point.

Here, you try it!

The column came out of a frustration about the public debate today about Trump's proposal to bar Muslims from the United States. I find the proposal grotesque, but it feels as if much of the discussion in public has become simply name-calling, so I thought a quiz would be a chance to address head on some of the public's wariness of Muslims.

I had offered a similar quiz, for similar reasons, in 2010. I was also amused by the account of a Dutch team that disguised a Bible as a Koran and read some of its more violent passages to people on the street. The reaction, when people thought it was the Koran, was along the lines of: That's why Muslims are so violent! When they were told it was actually the Bible, there was some embarrassment.

Another hot topic lately has been the student protests about race on American campuses. Check out this interesting statistical analysis of what the students actually want. It turns out that while the radical demands get the most attention, the most common demands are pretty tame, like more faculty diversity.


Anonymous declares today 'ISIS Trolling Day'


A post reported from the hacking group known as Anonymous declared today as "ISIS Trolling Day," a day devoted to disrupting the terrorists group's online presence. NBC's Cal Perry reports.

The hacking group Anonymous has formally announced its next target: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. An Anonymous-associated Twitter account said on Friday that the group had taken down the website for New York City's Trump Towers as a "statement against racism and hatred."

Newsvine comment of the day #20



In reply to: Gingerbread Mamma #1.3

Hi Gingerbreadmomma,

Perhaps you misunderstand what America is if you believe we have 'gone off track'. The truth is we were never on the magical land of joy and wonder where everything is perfect track to begin with. We strive to 'improve' and we do over time but, we have simply never really lived up to our ideals, that is why they are ideals.

America started out as a land grab by a few wealthy guys using the concepts of 'Freedom and 'self determination' to get the masses to fight the battle for them and just went on form there. We made deals with the native peoples and promptly broke them, and then slaughtered them at will or forced them into reservations.

America has had Slavery and indentured servitude, we have abused every group of migrants from the early Irish to the Chinese that built the rail roads. We have had internment camps (not the same as concentration camps but hardly 'freedom') and we are the only nation on earth to have used a nuclear bomb in anger.

We have spent the last 70 years meddling in almost every country in the world outside of our European allies. We have propped up strongman dictators, created and funded 'rebel' groups to overthrow democratically elected leaders we did not like, and spent billions funding arming and equipping terror groups (granted at the time we called them 'freedom fighters' and used them against other powers).

I am an American and I love my country, by default I guess, beats anywhere else I have been but, you need to recognize the fallacy that we ever actually lived up to our ideals. Is America perfect, No, is anyone or any nation anywhere, of course not but, nothing has really changed, except maybe the degradation of our educational system, people are just more naive now it seems.

I do not say all this to 'America Bash' to me there is nothing 'bashing' about being honest about your history, I take no responsibility for any of it and do not feel any need for reparations or anything as it is all well in the past. There is nothing about the past that any Modern American could have done or that we can change so there is no need for anything except an honest recognition of the truth.

Trump Hate and US History


Top 6 Times US government Excluded Millions based on Race or Religion

By Juan Cole

Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and other bigots on the far right are nothing new in American history. Rather, they remind us of the worst and most shameful detours of the American Republic in the past. From the mid-nineteenth century racial theory became prominent in European and American discourse, in which peoples were conceived of as endogamous (only marrying among themselves and so producing 'pure' and 'less pure' 'races.') In contrast, in the 18th century most Western thinkers believed the differences among peoples had to do with climate and diet. The nineteenth century Romantic notion of race is a fantasy- people get all mixed up over time.

But it would be a mistake to think race was the only consideration in American xenophobia (hatred for foreigners). Powerful Christian revivalist movements created movements to missionize the world that had a horror of having heathens on the continent.

These twin pathologies of racism and religious bigotry were implicated in a whole series of white, Christian supremacist laws aimed at excluding whole swathes of the world from immigration to the United States enacted between 1882 and 1924. Here are the highlights. Or, lowlights.

1. Chinese Buddhists Both racism and religious bigotry built up toward Chinese-Americans brought in from 1849 to build the trans-American railroad. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first time a whole people was excluded from the United States. In the prejudiced language of the day, that Chinese were Buddhists, Confucianists or Taoists, i.e. "pagans" or "heathens" from an Evangelical point of view, was one of the reasons they should be kept out of the country. The total exclusion lasted until 1943, when 100 Chinese a year began being admitted, which was not much different from total exclusion. In 1965 the Immigration Act ended racial and religious exclusions based on racism and religious fanaticism, including of Chinese. Chinese-Americans have made enormous contributions to the United States, despite the long decades during which they were excluded or disrespected.

2. Japanese Buddhists. In 1907-08, the US and Japan concluded a "gentlemen's agreement" whereby Japan would limit the number of passports it issued to Japanese wanting to come to the United States. In turn, the city of San Francisco agreed to end the legal segregation of Japanese-Americans in that city (yes, they had their very own Jim Crow). Not satisfied with the agreement, in 1924 racist Congressmen ended Japanese immigration completely. This action angered Japan and set the two countries on a path of enmity.

3. Indian Hindus & Sikhs and other Asians. Not satisfied with measures against Buddhists, white Christians next went after Hindus and Sikhs. The 1917 Asiatic Barred Zone Act excluded from immigration everyone from the continent of Asia- it especially aimed at Indians, including especially Sikhs, but also Koreans, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesians, etc. etc. The American Immigration Council writes:

"During the same period, Asian Indians, particularly Sikhs from the Punjabi region who were originally brought by the British to work the Canadian-Pacific railroads, began to move south into the U.S. Pacific Northwest and California as farm workers. In response, nativist rioters burnt out the Asian Indian settlements in Bellingham and Everett, Washington in 1907. In the following decade, protectionist and racist groups, epitomized by the Asian Exclusion League, campaigned against the "Hindu invasion" or "Turban tide" that was perceived as an economic threat to native farmers. Laws were passed in California to strip land ownership from Asian Indians and Japanese in 1913 and 1920. In response, many Asian Indians married Mexican-American women, which for a time exempted them from the law. Asian Indian students who were supporters of independence from the British Empire were expelled from the country by order of President Theodore Roosevelt."

"Finally, sustained political attacks against Asian Indians such as those orchestrated by Democratic Representative John Raker and immigration commissioner Anthony Caminetti culminated in the imposition of the 1917 Barred Zone Act. Asian Indians joined other Asian country nationals (except Japanese and Filipinos) who were excluded from immigrating to the United States. The final injustice to Asian Indians was exacted by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Bhagat Singh Thind (1923), which considered to which race Asian Indians belonged. The Court decided that although Asian Indians were Caucasian, they were not "white" and therefore could not be U.S. citizens. Harassment of the Asian Indian population continued, forcing many to return to India. By 1940 half of the Asian Indian population had left the country, leaving only 2,405."

The provision in the act barring "polygamists" was aimed at Muslims. Would-be Muslim immigrants were asked at their port of entry if they believed a man could have more than one wife, and if they said yes, were turned away.

Japanese were not part of the act only because the Gentlemen's Agreement already mostly excluded them. Filipinos were not excluded because the
Philippines was then an American territory (i.e. colony).

Practical Solutions


I love this guy

modernworld3.jpg click pic to enlarge

Trump is WISIS


Trump's Jet Fuel: Hate/Fear/Ignorance


Hacking Group Anonymous Declares Friday 'ISIS Trolling Day'

by Holly Ellyatt

Activist hacking group Anonymous have declared this Friday, December 11, a "trolling day" against the so-called terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS) as part of its cyber campaign against the militant Islamist group.

In an online message, Anonymous asked people to mock ISIS, or "Daesh" as it is also known in the West (a derogatory term for the group) online as part of its "Operation ISIS" campaign.

"We ask you to show your support and help against ISIS by joining us and trolling them // do not think you have to be part of Anonymous, anyone can do this and does not require special skills."

"We ask you to take part of this on Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Youtube //In the "Real World," the post on file-sharing website Ghostbin added.
Hacker Group Anonymous Declares War on ISIS 1:54

Trolling is the term given to abuse, insults or threats made online with celebrities often being the targets of internet "trolls."

Anonymous asked them to use the Twitter hashtags #Daesh and #Daeshbags and post "mocking photos" of the group - such as posting picture of goats to ISIS members with captions talking about their wives, amongst other trolling tactics.

Related: Cyber War: What Can Anonymous Really Do to ISIS?

Known as "hacktivists," Anonymous is a collective of unknown hackers who have carried out various cyberattacks on governments and corporations. Following the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris in which 130 people died, the group declared "war" on ISIS and announced it would conduct "massive" cyberattacks on the group.

More from CNBC: 'Anonymous' hackers declare war on Islamic State"

Islamic State," or "IS" as it is also known, operates in parts of Syria and Iraq in its mission to establish a caliphate, but has recently orchestrated more attacks abroad, the latest being last month's attack on bars, restaurants and a concert hall venue in Paris.

A manhunt has begun in Europe to find those that helped the attackers, most of whom wore suicide belts. France retaliated at the weekend by launching more air strikes against IS positions in Syria.

In Anyonmous' latest video, the masked spokesperson says in French that "the French people are stronger than you and will come out of this atrocity even stronger," although the video was not on the group's official channel.

However, a tweet from the group's official Twitter account on Sunday said the group was at war with Daesh, (another name for Islamic State).

The hacker group rose to prominence after a series of cyberattacks against individuals, governments and organizations that it does not approve of, including PayPal, Mastercard and the Church of Scientology, among numerous others.

Crossing the Line


trump_dealwithit.jpgUnless Trump has some sort of suck-in flip-flop that will spell the demise of the Republican party by getting their votes and exposing them intentionally as the fascist idiots they are, he needs to be stopped now.

If he is actually believes the shit he is spreading, the damage has already been done and his threats are terrorist threats from a terrorist...and we will have no choice to other than to deal with him as such.
Trump might be clever, but his base are full blown meat heads.

They already have been fr almost a century.

The World's Largest Muslim Group Has Been Opposing Radical Islam for 90 Years

Though over one billion people in the world subscribe to the faith of Islam, every time a Muslim individual commits a violent and highly-publicized attack in the West, Americans demand unequivocal apologies and condemnations from all adherents to the religion. They cannot be bothered, of course, with the exact, same terroristic slaughter of non-whites in far-off lands.

Over and over, Islamic groups around the world condemn terrorist attacks and reiterate that violent radicals do not truly adhere to the religion. Even so, this never seems to be enough for the Fox News-inclined, who often falsely claim Muslims remain silent because they are uncivilized, violent savages. They insist 'good' Muslims must do more to combat extremism.

Such rhetoric, however, is increasingly, conspicuously false. One of the biggest blows to this mentality comes from Indonesia, where the largest independent Islamic organization in the world not only condemns acts of radical Islam, but has launched a massive, worldwide initiative to counter the ideology that breeds it.

Nahdlatul Ulama, or NU, was founded in 1926, and boasts 50 million members. As Huffington Post explained, it is "part Sunni religious body, part political party and part charity." NU says its goal is "to spread messages about a tolerant Islam in their respective countries to curb radicalism, extremism and terrorism," which the organization argues "often spring from a misinterpretation of Islamic teachings." To do so, the group launched a global anti-extremism campaign last year.

In December of 2014, NU began building a center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to serve as its headquarters for the international project. NU is also planning "an international conference and cultural event in Washington, D.C.," scheduled for Spring 2016, according to NU General Secretary, Yahya Cholil Staquf.

Further, NU has collaborated with the University of Vienna to create the Vienna Observatory for Applied Research on Radicalism and Extremism (VORTEX). Staquf says the aim of this project is to "produce counter-narratives against radical ideas and propagate them globally." NU is also working on initiatives with the Swedish and British governments.

NU condemned last month's attacks in Paris, and only weeks afterward, participated in the International Conference of Islamic Scholars' annual forum on the "importance of promoting a peaceful Islam to combat radicalism worldwide."

The group also believes its efforts should apply "equally to local radicals" in Indonesia.

Indonesia is home to one of the most liberal Muslim populations in the world, and its constitution provides for freedom of religion. Though the government recognizes only six religions (and/or denominations) -- Islam, Protestantism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Catholicism, and Buddhism -- religious minorities live in general harmony.

Even so, 88% of Indonesia's population is Muslim -- and sectarian conflicts persist.

Terrorist attacks in Indonesia have increased in recent years, and multiple groups have moved to tackle the problem. The country's leading clerical body, the Indonesian Ulema Council, which includes groups like NU, recently launched an initiative to "mobilize 50,000 preachers to spread moderate, or 'Wasathiyah,' Islam within Indonesia." It has also launched a training center in the country to teach Arabic-speaking students how to counter extremist rhetoric and ideology.

Domestically and globally, NU is taking a proactive approach to curbing the proliferation of Islamic extremism. What is most relevant about its goals, however, is its condemnation of Wahhabism, a sect of Islam with roots in Saudi Arabia. Like NU, Wahhabism is derived from the Sunni sect of Islam, but their approaches could not be more different. As Huffington Post summarized:

"Wahhabism is the ultra-conservative reform movement based in Saudi Arabia that advocates for puritanical laws from the time of Islam's origins. It rejects the modern notion of 'religion as a purely private activity' and the separation of church and state. The Islamic State is highly committed to Wahhabi principles, using its religious textbooks and embracing its hardline tradition of killing unbelievers."

Because of Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia has been directly linked to the Islamic State, though the United States has failed to highlight this relationship, much less acknowledge the many human rights abuses its monarchical ally commits. In fact, NU was aware of the dangers of Wahhabism when the organization launched, inspired by a direct intention to counter the Saudi-linked ideology.

In light of these facts, the Western response to radical Islam seems woefully insufficient. While NU evidently seeks to strike at the root of the world's most radical Islamic beliefs, the United States and its Western allies align themselves with the very purveyor of, and inspiration for, ISIS. High-level officials have argued that the U.S. military directly contributed to the rise of the terror group -- but all the while, Western populations condemn Muslims for 'not doing enough' to counter this ideology.

NU's actions run in direct conflict with this repeatedly disproved notion. The organization's spiritual leader, A. Mustofa Bisri, has said,

"The spread of a shallow understanding of Islam renders this situation critical, as highly vocal elements within the Muslim population at large -- extremist groups -- justify their harsh and often savage behavior by claiming to act in accord with God's commands, although they are grievously mistaken."

"According to the Sunni view of Islam," he added, "every aspect and expression of religion should be imbued with love and compassion, and foster the perfection of human nature."

Can Kansas Get Any More Absurd


A Kansas man says being a sperm donor for a now estranged lesbian couple doesn't mean he's a parent. The state disagrees.

GOP: Like 12 Year Olds


While You Were Sleeping


Beyond ISIS: The Folly of World War IV

By Andrew J Bacevich, TomDispatch | Op-Ed

Assume that the hawks get their way -- that the United States does whatever it takes militarily to confront and destroy ISIS. Then what?

Answering that question requires taking seriously the outcomes of other recent US interventions in the Greater Middle East. In 1991, when the first President Bush ejected Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait, Americans rejoiced, believing that they had won a decisive victory. A decade later, the younger Bush seemingly outdid his father by toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan and then making short work of Saddam himself -- a liberation twofer achieved in less time than it takes Americans to choose a president. After the passage of another decade, Barack Obama got into the liberation act, overthrowing the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in what appeared to be a tidy air intervention with a clean outcome. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton memorably put it, "We came, we saw, he died." End of story.

In fact, subsequent events in each case mocked early claims of success or outright victory. Unanticipated consequences and complications abounded. "Liberation" turned out to be a prelude to chronic violence and upheaval.

Indeed, the very existence of the Islamic State (ISIS) today renders a definitive verdict on the Iraq wars over which the Presidents Bush presided, each abetted by a Democratic successor. A de facto collaboration of four successive administrations succeeded in reducing Iraq to what it is today: a dysfunctional quasi-state unable to control its borders or territory while serving as a magnet and inspiration for terrorists.

The United States bears a profound moral responsibility for having made such a hash of things there. Were it not for the reckless American decision to invade and occupy a nation that, whatever its crimes, had nothing to do with 9/11, the Islamic State would not exist. Per the famous Pottery Barn Rule attributed to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, having smashed Iraq to bits a decade ago, we can now hardly deny owning ISIS.

That the United States possesses sufficient military power to make short work of that "caliphate" is also the case. True, in both Syria and Iraq the Islamic State has demonstrated a disturbing ability to capture and hold large stretches of desert, along with several population centers. It has, however, achieved these successes against poorly motivated local forces of, at best, indifferent quality.

In that regard, the glibly bellicose editor of the Weekly Standard, William Kristol, is surely correct in suggesting that a well-armed contingent of 50,000 US troops, supported by ample quantities of air power, would make mincemeat of ISIS in a toe-to-toe contest. Liberation of the various ISIS strongholds like Fallujah and Mosul in Iraq and Palmyra and Raqqa, its "capital," in Syria would undoubtedly follow in short order.

In the wake of the recent attacks in Paris, the American mood is strongly trending in favor of this sort of escalation. Just about anyone who is anyone -- the current occupant of the Oval Office partially excepted -- favors intensifying the US military campaign against ISIS. And why not? What could possibly go wrong? As Kristol puts it, "I don't think there's much in the way of unanticipated side effects that are going to be bad there."

It's an alluring prospect. In the face of a sustained assault by the greatest military the world has ever seen, ISIS foolishly (and therefore improbably) chooses to make an Alamo-like stand. Whammo! We win. They lose. Mission accomplished.

If Only


The GOP Is on the Eve of Destruction

Turn on your TV or computer, pick up a paper or magazine and you can see and hear them baying at the moon.

By Bill Moyers, Michael Winship


For reasons hard to fathom, the Republicans seem to have made up their minds: they will divide, degrade and secede from the Union.

They will do so with bullying, lies and manipulation, a willingness to say anything, no matter how daft or wrong. They will do so by spending unheard of sums to buy elections with the happy assistance of big business and wealthy patrons for whom the joys of gross income inequality are a comfortable fact of life. By gerrymandering and denying the vote to as many of the poor, the elderly, struggling low-paid workers, and people of color as they can. And by appealing to the basest impulses of human nature: anger, fear and bigotry.

Turn on your TV or computer, pick up a paper or magazine and you can see and hear them baying at the moon. Donald Trump is just the most outrageous and bigmouthed of the frothing wolf pack of deniers and truth benders. As our friend and colleague Tom Engelhardt of TomDispatch writes, "There's nothing, no matter how jingoistic or xenophobic, extreme or warlike that can't be expressed in public and with pride by a Republican presidential candidate."

Like the pronouncement of the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's 1984, ignorance is strength, whether it's casting paranoid fantasies about thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering 9/11, or warning about terrorists in refugees' ragged clothing and Mexican rapists slithering across the border.

Just four-and-a-half years ago, Washington mainstays Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein shocked the inside-the-Beltway establishment (especially the press, with its silent pact to speak no evil of wrongdoers lest they deny you an interview) when they published their book, It's Even Worse than It Looks. The two esteemed political scientists wrote, "The Republican Party has become an insurgent outlier - ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."

Someone...Stuff this turkey...please


Trump's Embrace of Fascism Is America's Dirty Little Secret
By Henry A. Giroux


Business Mogul, reality TV star, and presidential candidate, Donald Trump recently mocked Serge Kovaleski, a New York Times investigative reporter with a disability, at a rally in South Carolina. This contemptuous reference to Kovaleski's physical disability was morally odious and painful to observe, but not to comprehend, at least not politically. Trump is a hate-monger, and spreads his message without apology in almost every public encounter in which he finds himself. Some reporters claim he stepped over the line with this act of reprehensible cruelty. That is only partly true. In this loathsome instance, he just expanded his hate-filled discourse, making clear his embrace of a politics founded on arrogance, cynicism, unchecked wealth, and a deeply ingrained racism. In actuality, he stepped over the line the moment he announced his candidacy for the presidency and called Mexican immigrants violent rapists, gang members, and drug dealers. Or for that matter when he called, along with other right-wing extremists, to put refugees in detention centers and create a data base for them. These comments sound eerily close to SS (SS chief) Heinrich Himmler's call for camps that held prisoners under orders of what euphemistically called "protective custody. To quote the Holocaust Encyclopedia:

"In the earliest years of the Third Reich, various central, regional, and local authorities in Germany established concentration camps to detain political opponents of the regime, including German Communists, Socialists, trade unionists, and others from left and liberal political circles. In the spring of 1933, the SS established Dachau concentration camp, which came to serve as a model for an expanding and centralized concentration camp system under SS management."

What is truly sad, dangerous, and even cowardly is how few people along with the corporate media and his intellectual defenders recognize that Trump is symptomatic of the brutal seeds of totalitarianism now being cultivated in American society. Donald Trump represents more than the anti-democratic practices and antics of Joe McCarthy. On the contrary, he signifies how totalitarianism can mutate and take different forms in specific historical moments. Rather than being dismissed as a wild-card in American politics, it is crucial to recognize that Trump's popularity represents what one writer calls a dangerous "political space ... in both the wider culture and in recent history." This is evident not only in his race baiting, but in his increasing support for violence against protesters at his rallies, and his call to "make American great again" by any means necessary, none of which is new to American society. What is new is the degree to which this endorsement of violence, racism, and the call to violate civil liberties are expressed so visibly and without apology.  How else to explain the muted criticisms, if not almost non-existent public and media response, to his comments that: "we're going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule... And so we're going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago..." This call to do "the unthinkable" is a fundamental principle of any notion of totalitarianism, regardless of the form it takes.

Trump merges a hyper-nationalism, racism, and bigotry with a flagrant sense of lawlessness. His hate-filled speech is matched by his endorsement of violence against immigrants and other oppositional voices issued by his supporters at many of his rallies. This type of lawlessness does more than encourage hate and the muting of dissent; it also legitimates the kind of inflammatory rhetoric that gives credibility to acts of violence against others. There has been an eerie silence by Trump and other Republican Party presidential candidates in the face of the killing of three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, white supremacists shooting at Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis, the increasing attacks on Mosques throughout the United States, and the alarming number of shootings of Black men and youth by white police officers. There are historical precedents for this type of violence and the hate-filled speech by politicians who create the climate that legitimates it. We heard it in the words of Hitler, Mussolini, Pinochet, and other demagogic orators, ranting in a tone of neurotic hysteria against Jews, communists, and others alleged "infidels."

Trump's recent call to bring back waterboarding and to support a torture regime far exceeds what might be called an act of stupidity or ignorance. Torture in this instance becomes a means of exacting revenge on those considered "Other," un-American, and inferior--principally Muslims, immigrants, and members of the Black Lives Matter Movement. We have heard this discourse before in the totalitarian regimes of the 1930s and later in the dictatorships in Latin America in the 1970s. Heather Digby Parton is right when she writes that Donald Trump "may be the first openly fascistic frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination but the ground was prepared and the seeds of his success sowed over the course of many years. We've had fascism flowing through the American political bloodstream for quite some time."

This is a discourse that betrays dark and dangerous secrets not simply about Trump, but more importantly about the state of American culture and politics.  Trump's brutal racism, cruelty, and Nazi-style policy recommendations are more than shocking, they are emblematic of totalitarianism's hatred of liberalism, its call for racial purity, its mythic celebration of nationalism, its embrace of violence, its disdain for weakness, and its anti-intellectualism. This is the discourse of total terror. These elements of totalitarianism have become the new American normal. The conditions that produced the torture chambers, intolerable violence, extermination camps, squelching of dissent are still with us. Totalitarianism is not simply a relic of the past. It lives on in new forms and it is just as terrifying and dangerous today as it was in the past.

Mark Summer is right in arguing that the ghost of fascism runs through American society indicating that it never went away and that the threat of fascism has to be taken seriously. He writes that fascism didn't win on the battlefield, but it won ideologically.

"It won because the same fears, the same greed, the same hatred that fueled its growth in the first part of the twentieth century never went away. The symbols of fascism became anathema, but the causes ... went deep. And gradually, slowly, one step at a time, all those vices became first tolerated, then treated as virtues, and then as the only acceptable view... [For instance]  our long, stumbling lurch to the right; the building force of corporate power; the relentless need for war; a police whose power of enforcement is divorced from law; a preening nationalism that rewards the full rights of citizenship only to those who fit an ever-narrower mold... I'm not saying we're moving toward fascism. I'm saying we started that drift a long time ago, and now we're well across the line."

Forget Wi-Fi. Meet the new Li-Fi Internet


What if we could use existing technologies to provide Internet access to the more than 4 billion people living in places where the infrastructure can't support it? Using off-the-shelf LEDs and solar cells, Harald Haas and his team have pioneered a new technology that transmits data using light, and it may just be the key to bridging the digital divide. Take a look at what the future of the Internet could look like.


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