Note:This has to be one of the best speeches Pres. Obama has ever given…but read it for yourself.
(Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar/EPA)
Remarks by the President on Economic Mobility
Washington, D.C. 11:31 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. Thank you so much. Please, please have a seat. Thank you so much. Well, thank you, Neera, for the wonderful introduction and sharing a story that resonated with me. There were a lot of parallels in my life and probably resonated with some of you.
Over the past 10 years, the Center for American Progress has done incredible work to shape the debate over expanding opportunity for all Americans. And I could not be more grateful to CAP not only for giving me a lot of good policy ideas, but also giving me a lot of staff. (Laughter.) My friend, John Podesta, ran my transition; my Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, did a stint at CAP. So you guys are obviously doing a good job training folks.
I also want to thank all the members of Congress and my administration who are here today for the wonderful work that they do. I want to thank Mayor Gray and everyone here at THEARC for having me. This center, which I’ve been to quite a bit, have had a chance to see some of the great work that’s done here. And all the nonprofits that call THEARC home offer access to everything from education, to health care, to a safe shelter from the streets, which means that you’re harnessing the power of community to expand opportunity for folks here in D.C. And your work reflects a tradition that runs through our history — a belief that we’re greater together than we are on our own. And that’s what I’ve come here to talk about today.
Over the last two months, Washington has been dominated by some pretty contentious debates — I think that’s fair to say. And between a reckless shutdown by congressional Republicans in an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and admittedly poor execution on my administration’s part in implementing the latest stage of the new law, nobody has acquitted themselves very well these past few months. So it’s not surprising that the American people’s frustrations with Washington are at an all-time high.
But we know that people’s frustrations run deeper than these most recent political battles. Their frustration is rooted in their own daily battles — to make ends meet, to pay for college, buy a home, save for retirement. It’s rooted in the nagging sense that no matter how hard they work, the deck is stacked against them. And it’s rooted in the fear that their kids won’t be better off than they were. They may not follow the constant back-and-forth in Washington or all the policy details, but they experience in a very personal way the relentless, decades-long trend that I want to spend some time talking about today. And that is a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain — that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead.
I believe this is the defining challenge of our time: Making sure our economy works for every working American. It’s why I ran for President. It was at the center of last year’s campaign. It drives everything I do in this office. And I know I’ve raised this issue before, and some will ask why I raise the issue again right now. I do it because the outcomes of the debates we’re having right now — whether it’s health care, or the budget, or reforming our housing and financial systems — all these things will have real, practical implications for every American. And I am convinced that the decisions we make on these issues over the next few years will determine whether or not our children will grow up in an America where opportunity is real. Continue reading Pres. Obama’s Speech on the ecomony: Dec. 4th, 2013
For some time now, the daily commentary has focused on the public’s increasing anger and frustration about the sluggish economic recovery, dysfunctional government and a failure of leadership. But all this analysis misses the more fundamental point, which is that Americans’ alienation from our political system and its leaders has been building for more than a decade. This extended period of dissatisfaction has had an extremely corrosive effect on the nation’s social fabric.
The current discontent with the leadership in our country, coupled with long-term domestic economic trends dating back to the early 1980s, is beginning to force a redrawing of the political lines that have separated Americans since the culture wars of the 1960s. An emerging movement in our country is calling for change to the status quo and to the leadership class. Across the political spectrum, there is an growing populist push for a retrenchment from global affairs, with a renewed focus on the problems here at home. Americans are worried about the struggles of the battered middle class, whose real incomes have not improved in more than two decades, the elimination of special deals for the wealthy and big business and the protection of the public’s privacy from what they see as predatory companies and an intrusive federal government. These are the issues that will dominate our politics going forward, and we will see populists from the left and the right increasingly come together to force change. Continue reading Doug Sosnik’s latest – on the state of our Union
Way back in the last decade we had a huge housing bubble which was propelled in large part by junk loans that were packaged into mortgage backed securities (MBS) by Wall Street investment banks and sold all around the world. Unfortunately few people in policy positions are old enough to remember back to the this era, which is why they are now in the process of altering rules so that investment banks will be able to put almost any loan into a MBS without retaining a stake.
As Floyd Norris explains in his column this morning, the Dodd-Frank financial reform has a provision requiring investment banks to retain a 5 percent stake in less secure mortgages placed in the MBS they issue. This gives them an incentive to ensure that the mortgages they put into an MBS are good mortgages. However the definition of a secure mortgage has been gradually weakened over time. Originally many considered the cutoff to be a 20 percent down payment, which is the traditional standard for a prime mortgage. This was lowered to 10 percent and then 5 percent, even though mortgages with just 5 percent down default at four times the rate of mortgages with 20 percent down.
Norris tells us that the latest proposed rules would allow mortgages with zero down payment to be placed into pools with no requirement that banks maintain a stake. This change would mean that banks would have the same incentive as in the housing bubble years to put junk mortgages in MBS. If this rule is coupled with the Corker-Warner proposal for having a government guarantee for MBS, it will mean that banks will likely find it far easier to pass on junk and fraudulent mortgages going forward than they did in the years of the housing bubble.
Further facilitating this process is the gutting of the Franken amendment. This amendment (which passed the Senate with 65 votes) would have required investment banks to call the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to pick a bond rating agency for a new MBS. This removed the conflict of interest where bond rating agencies would have an incentive to give a positive rating in order to get more business. In the conference committee, the amendment was replaced by a requirement that the SEC study the issue. After two and a half years the SEC issued its study and essentially concluded that picking bond rating agencies exceeded its competence. This left the conflict of interest in place.
If Congress wants to set up the conditions for another housing bubble fueled by fraudulent mortgages it is doing a very good job.
One of the men that won the Nobel Prize for economics this year says that “bubbles look like this” and that he is “most worried about the boom in the U.S. stock market.” But you don’t have to be a Nobel Prize winner to see what is happening. It should be glaringly apparent to anyone with half a brain. The financial markets have been soaring while the overall economy has been stagnating. Reckless injections of liquidity into the financial system by the Federal Reserve have pumped up stock prices to ridiculous extremes, and people are becoming concerned. In fact, Google searches for the term “stock bubble” are now at the highest level that we have seen since November 2007. Despite assurances from the mainstream media and the Federal Reserve that everything is just fine, many Americans are beginning to realize that we have seen this movie before. We saw it during the dotcom bubble, and we saw it during the lead up to the horrible financial crisis of 2008. So precisely when will the bubble burst this time? Nobody knows for sure, but without a doubt this irrational financial bubble will burst at some point. Remember, a bubble is always the biggest right before it bursts, and the following are 15 signs that we are near the peak of an absolutely massive stock market bubble… Continue reading Stock Market bubble?
BAGRAM, AFGHANISTAN — A top secret weapons development program has been scrapped after countless allegations of misconduct and numerous injuries were sustained by soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan, The Duffel Blog has learned.
Dubbed “The Lightsaber,” the weapon (nomenclature MR2D2) was a near perfect imitation of those carried by Jedi Knights in the iconic Star Wars movies.
“Even with having the most professional military in the world,” said Pentagon spokesman George Little, “we did not anticipate the unintended consequences. Apparently, when you give soldiers a weapon they’ve dreamed about their entire lives, their intelligence drops to the level of a retarded monkey.”
While the original intent behind the program was to provide a new, stealthy device for entry into suspected insurgent hideouts, the program quickly descended into chaos when infantry and special operations units were given lightsabers to test on the battlefield.
Less than 30 minutes after being issued the new weapon, one soldier severed his hand reenacting the infamous “Star Wars kid” YouTube video. Another had his confiscated for sketching sexually explicit images on the side of concrete bunkers and two Marines were arrested for poking lightsaber peep holes into female showers.
“What were they thinking?” said Capt. John Douglas. “My infantry company is now at 50 percent strength. Every single one of my soldiers took a brain dump. Even my first sergeant, who’s a huge Star Wars and 2Pac fan, wanted me to brand his arm with ‘Jedi 4 life.’”
While most incidents have not been officially reported as officers scramble to salvage their careers, rumors have circulated to the most egregious uses by service members.
One special forces soldier was caught trimming his beard, a group of soldiers held a lightsaber jousting tournament using donkeys and a Marine was flown to Germany for surgery after joking to a female, “is that a lightsaber in my pocket or am I just happy to see you?”
Despite being carried on numerous missions, the lightsaber was never once used for its intended purpose. Allegations of detainee abuse have surfaced after special forces raided a suspected IED bomb makers house and threatened to ‘Dooku his ass.’
The test program — which was supposed to last three months — was pulled less than 36 hours later. The final nail in the coffin came when Private Derrick Jones asked a seemingly innocent question.
“Dude,” said Jones. “Do you think I could block a bullet?”
Australian textbook rental startup Zookal will begin utilizing drones to make its deliveries in Australia next year, with ambitions of bringing the unique, unmanned delivery method to US customers by 2015. The company says this marks the first commercial use of fully automated drones worldwide. It will fulfill deliveries in Sydney using six drones to start, dropping off textbook purchases at an outdoor location of the customer’s choosing. To wipe away any potential privacy or surveillance fears, the drones aren’t equipped with cameras. Instead, built-in anti-collision technology keeps them clear of trees, buildings, birds, and other potential obstacles.
Both the location of the user and the drone’s GPS coordinates are transmitted via a smartphone app, and Zookal claims deliveries can be completed in as little as two to three minutes once a drone takes flight. You can track the drone’s progress from the app (which will only be available on Android at launch) and head outside once it’s getting close. The drone never fully lowers itself to ground level, but rather hovers overhead and lowers its textbook delivery with the tap of a button on your smartphone.
“As one of the few countries in the world to allow commercial drone activities, Australia is uniquely placed to create a new drone industry and shape the development of regulations in this space,” said Zookal CEO Ahmed Haider. Flirtey, the company that’s providing the drones for Zookal’s ambitious plan, is in the process of seeking regulatory approval with Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). A test flight is slated for November, and if all goes according to plan, proper commercial deliveries will begin in March. The FAA will need first need to outline a clear policy for commercial drone usage before such a system can make its way to the US, something it hopes to do in 2015.
* * *
Note: Jeff Bezos gave a presentation on 60 Minutes, Dec. 1st giving information on Amazon’s own quad copter delivery service
I’m Anthony Goytia, a Walmart worker and MoveOn member. I started a petition on MoveOn.org to Walmart’s owners, the Walton family, which says:
For too long, many Walmart employees have been forced to rely on public assistance just to scrape by. I was shocked to hear that Walmart held a food drive for its own employees. Walmart’s owners, the Walton family, have an estimated $144.7 billion, more wealth than 30% of the bottom 30%, (9 Million people), combined. It’s time for Walmart to pay its workers a decent wage. I work hard at Walmart and I shouldn’t have to donate plasma just to pay my bills. But as the father of three, I struggle each month just to keep my kids fed. It’s gotten so bad that I’m forced to live payday loan to payday loan. This year, I’m on track to make just $12,000 at Walmart.
And I’m not the only one. Recently, news broke that Walmart was actually running a food drive asking its own employees to donate to hungry coworkers so they could enjoy Thanksgiving. That isn’t right.
While the Walton family has more wealth than 42% of our country combined, so many Walmart workers like me are forced to turn to government assistance just to pay our bills. It’s time for a change. That’s why I’m calling on the Walton family to publicly commit to paying us a decent wage.
Thanks so much for your help, and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
This petition was created on MoveOn’s online petition site by Anthony Goytia, along with OUR Walmart (the Organization United for Respect at Walmart). Nobody paid us to send this email—we never rent or sell the MoveOn.org list.
Legal Disclaimer: UFCW (the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union) and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Walmart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Walmart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Walmart publicly commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.
Want to support our work? MoveOn Civic Action is entirely funded by our 8 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in here.
This email was sent to Richard on November 29, 2013. To change your email address or update your contact info, click here. To remove yourself from this list, click here.
Seems every few months we’re treated to another episode of the trope: ”We’re spending too much on foreign aid – especially by giving it to people who hate us.” But the thing is we don’t donate much in true Foreign Aid. If one separates out the “military aid” we “give” to other countries as a segment of “foreign aid” our real, ODA, (socially focused) foreign aid is less per capita than any other industrialized country in the World. Military aid is a sinkhole; but it’s what America’s economy increasingly dependent upon. We are the Arms Merchant of the World, followed by Russia, then China, then France, then Germany. Conflating peace, prosperity, social progress, and security with one’s level of amassed military might is utter stupidity.
In reply to a complaint that the figures don’t include private aid, the graph does indeed include it. It uses “real numbers” since it uses ODA, official development aid, and GNI, gross national income, figures. Any US entity operating as a 501.c(x) charity has to register with the IRS, so yes, the GNI figures include those monies: government, public, and private. The ODA does NOT include military “assistance”; but does include everything else.
As to the validity of sending aid to America’s enemies: it depends, (a phrase the Wingnuts go ape-shit over)…for example, can they cause us harm if we don’t: like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or Nigeria? Are they current or only past enemies: like Spain, Mexico, England, France, Germany, or Japan. Are they yoked to America based on a questionable construct: like Israel/Jerusalem and Columbia/War on Drugs; but have a government system which is anathema to American ideals. In a realist’s Post WWII perspective – American helped create many of our present “enemies” – from Iran, to Cuba, to Somalia, to the DRC, and now in Iraq and Afghanistan. We frequently have not been a benevolent superpower – nor has any other one been throughout history.
Some would assert the biggest threat to America comes primarily from within, while externally it would be our fealty to Israel, and our single minded economic and strategic focus on the military – intelligence – industrial complex which blows through a trillion dollars a year of GNI – and provides little value in return. If you need something precise on the military component, consider MWRAPs and F-22.
(by Richard @ Bizmarts – Nov. 22nd, 2013) (Baseball in first section of article, then Football after the jump)
Recently, news surfaced in the local media about the Atlanta Braves pending relocating to a newly developed 62 acre site in Cobb County, vacating their former home since 1997 at Turner Field in Atlanta’s Fulton County. The Braves Management, chaired by John Schuerholz, said they are being forced to move for several reasons, including:
the Turner Field lease with the City of Atlanta expires in 2016, and negotiations between the parties for renewal broke down over funding issues
Schuerholz asserted the current stadium requires $150 Million in “structural upkeep”, plus $200 Million additional for “fan improvement” renovations – but the City of Atlanta’s Mayor, Kasim Reed, said the City cannot afford to put anything like that amount into the stadium.
in 2003, and again in 2009 the City paid approximately $30 Million to the Braves for renovations at Turner Field
Schuerholz said another reason for the relocation is the lack of MARTA service, and parking space adjacent to the stadium
Some things have not been so frequently mentioned:
Turner Field is adjacent to the former Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium site which was the Braves home from 1965 to 1996.
The Atlanta Falcons shared use of the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium facility from 1965 to 1992, and then moved to the Georgia Dome.
Negotiations between the Falcons and the City of Atlanta commenced in 2013 for the construction of a new stadium in Atlanta for the Falcons.
Turner Field was built for the 1996 Olympics, and 81.3% of the money for the stadium came from private entities, including NBC as part of their Olympic coverage.
The City of Atlanta put in approximately $30 Million in 1996-97 for renovations to the stadium and grounds to convert it to a ballpark format
The construction cost for Turner Field, in 2013 money, was $311 Million; whereas the anticipated cost for the Cobb County site is $672 Million.
The Cobb County site is a public/private venture; but the funding ratios there are 60% public, 40% private vs 19% public and 81% private at Turner Field
The original Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium lasted 31 years, from 1965-1996; Turner Field will last 19 years from 1997-2016
Cobb County does not participate in the MARTA regional transportation system, so the new stadium also would not be served by MARTA. Proponents say the site will be served by Cobb County RTS buses.
Parking specifics for the new site have not been disclosed, but preliminary discussions suggest fees will be paid to the Braves organization directly, instead of to the City as they were at the A-FCS.
No specifics have been offered by Cobb County officials detailing how the $400+ Million public share would be raised, or repaid
Cobb County has been, and remains, one of the most politically conservative County’s in Georgia, while the City of Atlanta one of the most liberal
The Congressional representatives of the Atlanta suburban counties of Forsyth, Fayette, Cobb, and Cherokee: Price, Broun, Gingrey, and Westmoreland are among the group of radical House Republicans who engineered the 2013 Government shutdown – over Government funding issues
Seating capacity at the various locations has declined from 52k at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to 49.6k at Turner Field, to an estimated 41.5k at Cobb
However, the biggest complaint by actual Braves baseball fans is the questionable or perceived level of security in and around the ballpark. Too many know of someone who was the target of hooligans or criminal elements while attending a game.
In the September 2013 issue of The Atlantic Magazine, Gregg Easterbrook wrote an article about the NFL which is appropriate as corollary reading material on this subject: Continue reading Atlanta Braves Relocation
Plugging: The Pentagon routinely fudges its numbers through the use of “plugs” – false numbers – according to a Reuters investigation of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. Reuters’ Scot Paltrow: “…At the DFAS offices that handle accounting for the Army, Navy, Air Force and other defense agencies, fudging the accounts with false entries is standard operating procedure, Reuters has found. And plugging isn’t confined to DFAS (pronounced DEE-fass). Former military service officials say record-keeping at the operational level throughout the services is rife with made-up numbers to cover lost or missing information. A review of multiple reports from oversight agencies in recent years shows that the Pentagon also has systematically ignored warnings about its accounting practices. ‘These types of adjustments, made without supporting documentation can mask much larger problems in the original accounting data,’ the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said in a December 2011 report.”
Bottom line: “Plugs also are symptomatic of one very large problem: the Pentagon’s chronic failure to keep track of its money – how much it has, how much it pays out and how much is wasted or stolen.”
“In its investigation, Reuters has found that the Pentagon is largely incapable of keeping track of its vast stores of weapons, ammunition and other supplies; thus it continues to spend money on new supplies it doesn’t need and on storing others long out of date. It has amassed a backlog of more than half a trillion dollars in unaudited contracts with outside vendors; how much of that money paid for actual goods and services delivered isn’t known. And it repeatedly falls prey to fraud and theft that can go undiscovered for years, often eventually detected by external law enforcement agencies.
“The consequences aren’t only financial; bad bookkeeping can affect the nation’s defense. In one example of many, the Army lost track of $5.8 billion of supplies between 2003 and 2011 as it shuffled equipment between reserve and regular units. Affected units ‘may experience equipment shortages that could hinder their ability to train soldiers and respond to emergencies,’ the Pentagon inspector general said in a September 2012 report.
And there’s this: “Because of its persistent inability to tally its accounts, the Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with a law that requires annual audits of all government departments. That means that the $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for. That sum exceeds the value of China’s economic output last year.” Read the rest here. Continue reading Gobbledygook economics at the DoD
(via Wikiepedia) – “The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a number of resolutions saying the strategic relationship with the United States encourages Israel to pursue aggressive and expansionist policies and practices. The 9th Emergency Session of the General Assembly was convened at the request of the Security Council when the United States blocked efforts to adopt sanctions against Israel. The United States responded to the frequent criticism from UN organizations by adopting the Negroponte doctrine.”
Note: the so-called Negroponte doctrine asserts that the United States will oppose Security Council resolutions concerning the Israeli–Palestinian conflict that condemn Israel without also condemning terrorist groups. But many resolutions both in the Security Council and the General Assembly have done exactly that; but still the United States has never joined with the rest of the members in condemning Israeli actions in contravention of the resolutions which could lead to sanctions on Israel. The U.S. delegation votes against every resolution with “teeth” – while the amendments and actions it proposes and supports are mis-directed non-starters or favorable only to Israel, almost never to the United Nations membership as a whole, or other member States in the region. Israel, a country of 8 million continues to be surrounded by 120 million people who want responsible government behavior from it; but instead suffer tremendous injustices as recorded in numerous U.N. and E.U. findings. Israel responds by claiming anti-semitism is the basis, and that they continue to face an existential challenge to their existence and therefore are justified using exceptional means to address State issues- an orientation that has served Jews for thousands of years – including after the ’67 War when they vanquished all their adversaries in six days of fighting, which some historians point out was started by Israel when it realized, courtesy of a spy’s tip-off, it could remove its only serious military threat, the Egyptian Air Force, with a sneak attack on June 5th, 1967.
A disinterested viewer can easily question why every other State in the World has agreed with at least several, if not most of these resolutions – yet the United States has not. Many of the votes come down to 191 countries for punitive responses to Israeli actions, and only the U.S. abstains or votes opposed. Can it be that every other country in the World is mistaken on the evidence? Mistaken on the cause? Mistaken on the proposed solution? Perhaps it can be attributed to geo-political, military, American Empire issues, or as atonement for projected U.S. failures in the 1930′s.
No. Something else must be involved.
As a contrarian, the only possible reason is due to Israel’s location and proximity – to Jerusalem. The loci for three faiths has been a cauldron for millennia. For decades, Israel has received more U.S. “foreign aid” than any other country in the World - ten to four hundred times as much as any other country per capita – except for countries America occupies like Afghanistan and Iraq. The evangelical Christian and AIPAC lobbies are powerful in Washington D.C., and across the country. AIPAC has targeted more than one U.S. Congressman for electoral defeat who advocated reigning in this open-handed support.
Israel’s defense and intelligence agencies have deployed countless agents to sabotage any entity which attempts to coerce it into compliance with international law. It routinely attempts to conflate criticism of the Jewish State with anti-semitism. It unilaterally sends military force into neighboring countries without approval of the international community. It assassinates people in the occupied territories based solely on its own authority. It seizes land and resources specifically assigned to the Palestinians by international agreements. It refuses to join Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaties and agreements. It seizes physical and intellectual property from other States, on land, in the air, and on the high seas beyond it’s recognized borders. It has attempted to force the incorporation of the whole of Jerusalem into its domain, and make it the capital of Israel – in direct contravention of at least four U.N. resolutions condemning such attempts.
It is in the process of coercing the U.S. and France into punitive measures against Iran based on its desire to prevent Iran from enriching uranium, but refuses even to acknowledge it possesses a large cache of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons. It continues to strictly control land, sea, and air access to the population of the occupied territories. And it continues to fund all-expense-paid junkets to Israel for U.S. Congressional personnel and entities. Equally important: it makes the U.S. complicit in its malfeasance, and criminal behavior.
The U.S. must sever the unconditional support given to Israel – which it grants it to no other country, just as no other country in the world grants it to the U.S.
The only way “peace” will ever be achieved, especially in the Middle East, is when all parties adhere to internationally approved rules and standards. Whenever any country asserts it is not bound by international law and norms, it thus guarantees it will perform actions that are not beneficial to the World community.
Remove the yoke of unconditional support for Israel which America carries. Make it conditional on behavior in accord with international law. And hopefully make it a National and Congressionally developed process – Mossad and its Wingnuttery children play hardball, as Yitzhak Rabin discovered.
ReutersDo you own a smart phone? Do you know how easy it is to break the law using only that smartphone?It’s this easy: After your current contract with your wireless provider (perhaps Verizon) expires, change the software on your phone such that you can use it to make calls with a different provider (say, T-Mobile). There, you just broke the law.
That’s right: Using a phone—purchased by you—to legally connect to another mobile network has broken federal law since October 2012. But on Thursday, the lead regulator of the mobile phone industry took a major, formal step to not only making phone unlocking legal—but making it easier, and making it free. This dispute has long pitted consumers and their advocates against some of the major mobile carriers: AT&T, Verizon, and US Cellular among them. Some mobile carriers, including T-Mobile and Sprint, already allow unlocking.
Unlocking a phone became illegal last year when the Librarian of Congress decided to remove it from a list of valid exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA is the stringent, massive 1998 law that governs a great deal of how copyright works online. To unlock a phone is to alter a phone’s firmware (firmware is the program that controls how the software in a device talks to its hardware) and that firmware is copyrighted by the major carriers. Because the DMCA prohibits changing any device’s copyrighted firmware, the DMCA prohibits unlocking a phone. It’s funny to think that tinkering with a device you bought breaks copyright law, of all things, but, hey: That’s America. Continue reading Freely migrate smartphones to an alternate provider? Not yet!
“Law enforcement officers now are part of the revenue gathering system,” Carson tells me in a phone interview. “The ranks of cops are young and competitive, they’re in competition with one another and intra-departmentally. It becomes a game. Policing isn’t about keeping streets safe, it’s about statistical success. The question for them is, Who can put the most people in jail?”
Which would make the question for you and me, how can we stay out of jail? Carson’s book does a pretty good job of explaining—in frank language—how to beat a system that’s increasingly predatory.
Be Invisible to Police
Carson has four golden rules, the first of which is, “If police can’t see you, they can’t arrest you.” The simplest application of this concept is that if you plan on doing something illegal, you should do it in the privacy of your home. Yes, you can be arrested while at home, but you can’t be profiled sitting in your living room, and profiling is what you’re trying to avoid. Continue reading Avoid arrest – by being boring
Note: The following is a comment by a reader JillCB, on The Atlantic, responding to the news that the Gates Foundation will be providing funding for Upworthy.
* * * * * * *
Upworthy/Uproxx are just another version of the cynical “weird trick to lose belly fat” ads, and almost as infuriating. Journalists, please don’t get desperate enough to mar your lovely columns with their appalling content-less headlines. The point of a headline is to quickly convey information, and users scrolling through Facebook and newsfeeds, even while wasting time, want to be able to waste their time efficiently by being able to quickly judge whether or not to click on a particular link. It’s infuriating to be scroll through a page of headlines that are each essentially a mystery box with a carnival barker pointing at it and crowing over the amazement to be found if only you will please open it up and watch the video inside. Sure, clickbait headlines drive traffic, but they are also the worst, and spreading like a virus to The Atlantic, Slate and Gawker. It slows down your ability to decide what to read/skip by making every link a guessing game, and 90% of the links you end up clicking on are just things you’ve already seen on other websites. Couldn’t the Gates Foundation dump these guys and like, get Buzzfeed to just make GIF listicles instead?
We’re three years from the next presidential election, and Hillary Clinton is, once again, the inevitable Democratic nominee. Congressional Republicans have spent months investigating her like she already resides in the White House. The New York Times has its own dedicated Clinton correspondent, whose job it is to chronicle everything from Hillary’s summer accommodations (“CLINTONS FIND A NEW PLACE TO VACATION IN THE HAMPTONS”) to her distinct style of buckraking (“IN CLINTON FUNDRAISING, EXPECT A FULL EMBRACE”). There is a feature-length Hillary biopic in the works, and a well-funded super PAC—“Ready for Hillary”—bent on easing her way into the race. And then there is Clinton herself, who sounds increasingly candidential. Since leaving the State Department, Clinton has already delivered meaty, headline-grabbing orations on voting rights and Syria.
Yet for all the astrophysical force of these developments, anyone who lived through 2008 knows that inevitable candidates have a way of becoming distinctly evitable. With the Clintons’ penchant for melodrama and their checkered cast of hangers-on—one shudders to consider the embarrassments that will attend the Terry McAuliffe administration in Virginia—Clinton-era nostalgia is always a news cycle away from curdling into Clinton fatigue. Sometimes, all it takes is a single issue and a fresh face to bring the bad memories flooding back.
The last time Clinton ran, of course, the issue was Iraq and the gleaming new mug was Barack Obama’s. This time the debate will be about the power of America’s wealthiest. And, far more than with foreign policy, which most Democrats agreed on by 2008, this disagreement will cut to the very core of the party: what it stands for and who it represents. Continue reading Democrats looking ahead to 2016
With Congress having now sunk to a 9% approval rating, it might be time for citizens to exercise one of their fundamental rights specifically enumerated in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That right, called the “Petition Clause”, allows citizens to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances”. But more precisely, citizens can also sue any branch of the Federal Government for failure to perform, including the Legislative Branch. It should not be difficult to prove “standing” for a petitioner, or demonstrate a failure to abide by statutes and provisions as stated in the Constitution. Environmental groups have been filing suit against several Federal Departments with generations of activists, and have been successful in many cases.
There is no shortage of evidence to demonstrate “failures to perform” by more than one branch, or department of Government. The most apparent flaw, and readily addressable issue, is directly related to political representation, the role of money in politics, the primacy of party driven fealty, and the damage being done to the body politic by powerful interests which are at odds with the best interests of the general public.
For example, in the 2012 General Election, the top five SuperPACs raised $380 Million Dollars - of that, 93% was spent opposing a candidate, only 7% to support a cause or their preferred candidate. In fact, there were 1,310 total groups organized as SuperPACs in 2012, which had reported total receipts of $828,224,595, or roughly half of all money spent by both Romney and Obama in the 2012 campaign. The disparity in representational clout and affiliation is even more pronounced when seen from the perspective of the average individual donation size for each candidate: 57% of Obama supporters contributed less than $200 while 24% of Romney supporters were in the same bracket, yet the net funds available to each candidate’s campaign was roughly equivalent.
If most people still don’t understand how SuperPAC are damaging our democracy: by their emphasis on negative propaganda specifically- then we are condemned to continue suffering the inevitable consequences – a government funded, supported, and controlled only by well-capitalized special interests with no interest in cooperation, consensus, and compromise.
So the question of the moment is: “What are you going to do about this?” Since the Petition Clause of the First Amendment protects the right “to petition the government for a redress of grievances” – and approximately 60 million people vote – it is thus reasonable to assume that a collective of 40-50 million citizens united to demand change, will affect it. Maybe an American Spring before the Nov. 2014 election? It should be obvious to anyone regardless of orientation, that the system will not change from within without adequate stimulus. Plus, the famous dictum from philosophy, ie: the truth, value, validity, or proof of a system must be obtained and defined external to it.
We don’t have to mass on street corners, or in public demonstrations…we have the Internet…we only need a neutral country to host the servers, social media methods to form a collective, and bitcoins to amass monetary resources. Build a robust network, assemble the people, provide funding, assemble the legal team, and go…we can do this.
Former LulzSec leader Sabu (Hector Xavier Monsegur) accused by the hacker Jeremy Hammond to have incited state-sponsored attack for the U.S. Government.
LulzSec was a popular group of hacktivists that breached many high profile targets during the last years, we all remember the Sony Pictures occurred in 2011. The group also claimed responsibility for taking down many other notorious targets such as AT&T, Viacom, Disney, EMI, and NBC Universal, The Sun, The Times and the CIA. But we all remembers LulzSec for one of its leaders Hector Xavier Monsegur, better known as “Sabu” , that once arrested decided to collaborate with law enforcement to track down other component of the collective belonging to Anonymous. Thanks to the information provided by Sabu various members of the popular group of hacktivists have been identified and arrested, the man is now awaiting trial and its sentence has again been delayed. Sabu pleaded guilty to a dozen criminal counts two years prior and he risks a maximum sentence of more than 124 years, despite numerous security experts are convinced that the help provided for the arrest of its colleagues will give him a highway exit. Continue reading Sabu to finally be sentenced…maybe
Jeremy Hammond could face 10 years in prison for leaking emails, but some say the whole thing was rigged by the FBI
On March 5, 2012, more than a dozen federal law enforcement agents broke down the door of Jeremy Hammond’s Chicago home and promptly arrested him.
Hammond — a then-27-year-old self-identified “hacktivist” — was accused of hacking the servers of global intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, and leaking 5 million emails to WikiLeaks.
Among other revelations, the leaks suggested that Stratfor was actively searching for links between U.S. Day of Rage, a campaign finance reform website that catalyzed the Occupy movement, and Islamic fundamentalist groups.
If Hammond’s case had gone to trial, he could have faced a sentence of anywhere from 37 years to life in prison. However, in May of this year, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in a plea bargain that reduced his sentence to a maximum of 10 years.
Hammond has spent 18 months in solitary confinement, where he has been denied bail and access to his family. He will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in a New York City courtroom on Friday.
His supporters see him as a whistle-blower in the league of Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden and are calling for leniency.
Suspected FBI entrapment
Hammond has a long activist history both on- and offline and, though he kept a low profile, was an active member of Anonymous. At 22, he was arrested for hacking ProtestWarrior.com, a conservative website, and making off with 5,000 credit card numbers with the intent to charge donations to progressive causes. The hack earned him both celebrity status in hacking communities as the “electronic Robin Hood” and two years in federal prison.
One of the effects of international criticism has been the impact on social psychology of the Israeli Jewish public – according to a survey more than half of Israelis believe “the whole world is against us”, and three quarters of Israelis believe “that no matter what Israel does or how far it goes towards resolving the conflict with the Palestinians, the world will continue to criticize Israel”.
via Huffington Posted: by Robert Scheer – 11/12/2013 2:59 am
Good old George can stop spinning in his grave. Yes, that George, our most heroic general and inspiring president, who warned us in his farewell address “to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism. …” It’s an alert that’s been ignored in the nation’s hysterical reaction to the attacks of 9/11 that culminated in the NSA’s assault on our Constitution’s guarantee of “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. …”
That right was reaffirmed boldly and righteously Monday, for the entire world to hear, by F. James Sensenbrenner, the Republican chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which unanimously had produced the USA Patriot Act. Speaking on Monday at the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament, Sensenbrenner blasted the misuse of the Patriot Act by the NSA and other government agencies entrusted with ensuring the nation’s safety.
“But the NSA abused that trust. It ignored restrictions painstakingly crafted by lawmakers and assumed a plenary authority we never imagined,” the Wisconsin congressman said. “Worse, the NSA has cloaked its operations behind such a thick cloud of secrecy that even if the NSA promised reforms, we would lack the ability to verify them.
“The constant stream of disclosures about U.S. surveillance since June has surprised and appalled me as much as it has the American public and our international allies,” Sensenbrenner continued. “I have therefore introduced legislation along with Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that will curtail surveillance abuses and restore trust in the U.S. intelligence community.”
Their bill is titled the “USA FREEDOM Act,” the acronym a shortcut for United and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection, and Online Monitoring. As Sensenbrenner points out, “The title intentionally echoes the Patriot Act because it does what the Patriot Act was meant to do — strike a proper balance between civil liberties and national security.”
The Sensenbrenner-Leahy bill, endorsed by the ACLU and the National Rifle Association, more than 100 bipartisan members of Congress, leading Internet companies and major newspapers, stands in principled contrast to the one pushed through the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who has long been the most shameful apologist for the antics of the NSA. Continue reading Yes !! bipartisan, progressive legislation can happen
Troika means three. Linux/Android is just two. And, if you actually knew anything about operating systems, you’d know that Chromebooks and Android tablets use significantly different OSs and have substantially different feature sets – even though they are both based on Linux. Indeed, the author makes the same mistake, concatenating Chromebooks and tablets. Chrome is a keyboard/trackpad oriented OS; Android is a touchscreen/gesture based OS. And, at the moment, Android tablets have many more apps available and thus serve a different market niche than the Chromebook, which has very few apps to choose from. The only similarity between Chromebooks and tablets is price, something the author makes much of while ignoring the substantial differences between them. They both use ARM processors as well, but are vastly different in what they do and how they operate. Continue reading Chromebook vs tablet vs laptop
“Like many world citizens I subscribe to the wisdom of mankind as expressed in the U.N. “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, initially passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 – which carries the weight of international law. You will note that several Muslim countries, specifically Saudi Arabia, had difficulty acknowledging the principles included in that article, because it would conflict with Sharia law which they considered superior to international law.
Again, the problem demonstrated by the selection of Maulana Fazlullah is the folly of adherence, and assigning supremacy to religious doctrine created before the advent of modern society. What do any of the major faith group writings specify, for example, about flying on the Space Shuttle or a commercial airliner, having heart surgery and being implanted with a pacemaker, eating GMO foods, or even posing public access writings on the Internet- which can be seen by women – and worse yet for the chauvinists – to females who will never accede to being cloaked in a burka, or chador while males can get by without having to wear either.
To be “enlightened” in the modern age is to be guided by that which can be shown to be ethical, just, functionally useful, preferably rational, and generally beneficial to both adherents and deniers. Taking any of these out of the process tends to cause additional problems. Activists and apologists for violent jihad are not unlike radical U.S. House Republicans who adhere to fundamentalist dogma that is explicitly not “enlightened” – based solely on their understandings, and their acceptance of the assigned supremacy of a “higher power”. In both cases, citizens should beware of dogma, regardless of its source, which is not subject to peer review, and rules of evidence.
After a week of defending their reporting, CBS News’ Lara Logan on Friday morning made a stunning apology to her viewers for a much-hyped story about the Benghazi attack, based on an interview with a security contractor that directly contradicts what he told the FBI.
“We were wrong to put him on air and we apologize to our viewers,” Logan said on the CBS’ This Morning on Friday. “We will apologize to our viewers and we will correct the record on our broadcast on Sunday night,” she added.
On Sunday, CBS’ venerable 60 Minutes newsprogram aired what they hailed as a shocking new report on what really occurred the night of an attack on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya last year. Promoted as the culmination of a year-long investigation, the segment heavily featured an interview with Morgan Jones — a pseudonym for Dylan Davies, a security officer hired to help protect the U.S. assets in Benghazi — who claimed to have rushed to the scene the night of the attack, making him the first eyewitness of the attack to come forward for interviews.
Jones’ story was quickly questioned from various outlets, especially the progressive media watchdog site Media Matters, which published multiple stories over the course of the week about the holes in Davies’ story. Davies in response took to other media outlets, including The Daily Beast to defend himself against what he called smears.
CBS in turn stood by its reporting for days, insisting that while Jones’ story was different from an incident report he submitted to his employer filed after the attack, the version promoted on the air was the truth. Executive Producer Jeff Fager went so far as to tell the Huffington Post that he was “proud” of the reporting that went into the segment.
“Our effort was to give our viewers a better understanding about an event in which a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed,” Fager, who is also CBS News’ chairman, wrote in his statement to the Huffington Post. “We are proud of the reporting that went into the story and have confidence that our sources, including those who appeared on ’60 Minutes,’ told accurate versions of what happened that night.”
On Thursday evening, however, the situation seemed to shift suddenly. “60 Minutes has learned of new information that undercuts the account told to us by Morgan Jones of his actions on the night of the attack on the Benghazi compound,” CBS said in a brief statement on the 60 Minutes website last night. “We are currently looking into this serious matter to determine if he misled us, and if so, we will make a correction.” Only minutes after CBS’ statement went live, the New York Times reported that Davies’ story completely differed from the statement he gave the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
That revelation caused CBS to completely reverse course, taking down the storyfrom its website and sending Logan out to apologize. “What we now know is that he told the FBI a different story to what he told us,” she said, “and that was the moment for us when we realized that we no longer had confidence in our source.” Logan insisted that the documents that Davies had provided and his role working for the State Department in Benghazi were confirmed, “but we were misled and we were wrong and that’s the important thing,” she continued. “That’s what we have to say here. We have to set the record straight and take responsibility.” Continue reading Benghazi on 60 Minutes: Oops…
In this slide from a National Security Agency presentation on “Google Cloud Exploitation,” a sketch shows where the “Public Internet” meets the internal “Google Cloud” where user data resides. Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing.
The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials. By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.
According to a top-secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, the NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from internal Yahoo and Google networks to data warehouses at the agency’s headquarters at Fort Meade, Md. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — including “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, as well as content such as text, audio and video.The NSA’s principal tool to exploit the data links is a project called MUSCULAR, operated jointly with the agency’s British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters . From undisclosed interception points, the NSA and the GCHQ are copying entire data flows across fiber-optic cables that carry information among the data centers of the Silicon Valley giants.
The infiltration is especially striking because the NSA, under a separate program known as PRISM, has front-door access to Google and Yahoo user accounts through a court-approved process.
The MUSCULAR project appears to be an unusually aggressive use of NSA tradecraft against flagship American companies. The agency is built for high-tech spying, with a wide range of digital tools, but it has not been known to use them routinely against U.S. companies. Continue reading NSA infiltrates fiber backbones at Google & Yahoo
Bitcoin, an online-only currency scarcely four years old, is breaking out to new highs this week and now sports a total value of $2.8 billion. Just a few months ago, it looked like this economic experiment as the world’s first decentralized technology-based form of money would crash and burn. Since then, ConvergEx’s Nick Colas points out that the U.S. government has shut down a large drug website which accepted bitcoins and promised further scrutiny of its uses; and computer science experts have warned that bitcoin is neither especially private – one of its notional values – or especially well constructed. The market doesn’t seem to care, with incremental demand from U.S. citizens (through Second Market) and Chinese nationals leading the path higher. Could bitcoin still fail? Sure. But, as Colas notes, its success to date speaks to how much the world is changing… Technology – properly packaged – can engender enough trust to develop a new asset class. Continue reading The skinny on bitcoin circa November 2013
“Ellen and I ate at Reinhardt cafeteria today, first time in a while. We used to eat there often. Good food, low price, lots of choice. Only catch is you have to get in before 2pm lunch closing. While there we were again reminded of Frank Gordy, one of Reinhardt’s big sponsors and owner of Georgia Tech Varsity restaurant – once known as biggest hot dog stand in U.S. and employer of famous car hop “Flossie Mae”..You may recall Flossie was a gay black male car hop always in in drag and singing Varsity menu to the delight of customers. He sang the menu a few times on Johnny Carson show. When I worked for AJC a few of us staffers would sometimes drive to the Varsity for lunch. Frank usually stopped by our table to ask if food okay, probably in hopes of getting more publicity. He bragged that the large room near the entrance on North Avenue was only for ”ketchup” storage.
When you ordered lunch a black waiter behind the counter would yell out “a bag of rags and a PC” – meaning you wanted a hot dog & bun covered with chili, a chocolate milk and fried onions. If you asked for raw onions on hot dog, what you saw thru a six inch hole in the counter was a black hand dropping raw onions on dog. I once did creative work for the Presbyterian Church US and the Interfaith Magazine Group, before finishing my last years with the trade group of business magazines published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
I’m boring you with my “creative” credentials to suggest something that might be right down your creative alley. After our last conversation I thought a great job fit for you would be an instructor at Reinhardt. You are well qualified, in my opinion, to put together a curriculum and teach a class on “how to start, run and survive in your own business”. With scarcity of jobs would be great for students to know they could look forward to something other than pounding the pavement for a job.
********************************And my reply******************************
Thanks for the email, and the thoughts therein. I came to Atlanta in 1971, mostly based on the presentation from WSB radio, talking about “the city too busy to hate.” In later years I learned of The Varsity, but only ate there twice. As a professional chef I marveled at the place, and its menu, presentations, and preparations; but my taste buds and stomach rebelled at the food. My take-away opinion was how important it was for their food to be eaten hot – if allowed to cool, or put away in the fridge for the next day, it would have been considered inedible.
And regarding the teaching: I would love to; but I did not finish my senior year at Florida State, so I only have the AA degree from junior college which I don’t think is sufficient to be allowed to teach undergrads. While I owned my bakery at Briarcliff and LaVista in the early 1980′s I taught pastry-making classes there for about two years: thirteen week sessions, about twenty students per class. It was exceptionally gratifying, but did require serious work, preparation, and a bit of showmanship to impart knowledge, appreciation, and skills to students. At the end of several classes some of the students became quite emotional about it ending – which was…hmm…sorry, words escape me on that now.
Anyway, the only folks I have dealt with at Reinhardt are Ginny Tomlinson and Larry Shrout from the I.T. department, so I have no idea who to approach about the prospect of teaching a class on small business. If you have the name, or campus location for a contact, please let me know and I’ll check it out.