Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for June 11th, 2013

Well said on Plan B

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Very well said.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 3:34 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Medical

Legalizing marijuana: The devil’s in the details

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In the NY Times Dan Frosch describes just one small aspect:

With the recreational use of marijuana now legal in Colorado, officers who patrol the state’s roads face a new set of challenges. Though smoking or possessing small amounts of cannabis is no longer breaking the law, anyone who drives while impaired is still subject to arrest.

Which raises a knotty question: How many tokes can a driver take before the ability to control a vehicle is compromised to the point of being a danger on the road?

Unlike alcohol, which has an undisputed — and usually quite apparent — influence on driving, there is no clear-cut consensus on the amount of marijuana that must be consumed to impair a driver’s ability.

This year, as Colorado lawmakers worked out regulatory matters, including taxes on sales, they also passed legislation that set legal limits on marijuana levels in the bloodstream. Under the new law, which took effect on May 28, a driver is assumed to be impaired if a blood test shows a level of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, that is five or more nanograms per milliliter. A nanogram is a billionth of a gram. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 3:19 pm

Posted in Drug laws

Why nerds become leakers

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Very interesting essay by Timothy Lee in the Washington Post:

When The Guardian unveiled its profile of Edward Snowden, it included a picture of the 29-year-old contractor with his laptop. On its back were stickers for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties group, and Tor, software that allows people to browse the Internet anonymously.

Edward Snowden (The Guardian)

Laptops with EFF or Tor stickers are common at technology conferences, and people who have them tend to have a lot in common. They tend to be technically-savvy, skeptical of authority, and comfortable defying social conventions. Like Snowden, a high school dropout, they tend to have unconventional career paths.

These personality traits describe Bradley Manning, the young soldier who is accused of leaking secret documents to the WikiLeaks Web site. They also describe WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. And that probably isn’t a coincidence.

The Silicon Valley investor Paul Graham has argued that the same personality traits that make people good at programming also cause them to have a disobedient attitude toward authority figures and social conventions. These programmers, who often describe themselves as hackers, are experts at examining complex systems and finding ways to make them work better. They tend to think about society as just another complex system in need of optimization, and this sometimes leads them to conclusions starkly at odds with conventional wisdom.

Our own Dylan Matthews recently wrote about Jason Trigg, a Wall Street programmer who concluded that he was morally obligated to give half his income to charity.

In the 1980s, an MIT programmer named Richard Stallman decided that it was immoral to distribute or use proprietary software. The result, three decades later, is the modern free software movement.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 2:14 pm

Posted in NSA

Put the NSA on trial

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The ACLU is going to file suit against the government—and I immediately went to join the ACLU to support that (don’t know why I wasn’t already a member)—and David Sirota finally brings up something people don’t seem to mention: that lying to Congress is, as I understand it, a crime (for reasons Sirota points out in his article), and I think Clapper should be immediately charged. Hell, we have a videorecording of the crime as it was being committed! What more do they want?

Sirota writes in Salon:

“When the president does it that means it is not illegal.” These infamous words fromRichard Nixon appear to summarize the public legal justification for the Obama administration’s unprecedented mass surveillance operation. Perhaps worse, Permanent Washington would have us believe that this rationale is unquestionably accurate and that therefore the National Security Administration’s surveillance is perfectly legal.

For example, Richard Haas of the Council on Foreign Relations said of Edward Snowden: “‘Whistleblower’ is person who reveals wrongdoing, corruption, illegal activity. none of this applies here even if you oppose U.S. government policy.” Likewise, the Boston Globe’s Bryan Bender insists, “I wish media would stop calling Snowden a whistleblower — it maligns those who truly reveal corrupt or illegal activity.” And theNew Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin definitively states: “These were legally authorized programs.”

The idea here, which has quickly become the standard talking point for partisans trying to defend the NSA program and the Obama administration, is that while you may object to the NSA’s mass surveillance system, it is nonetheless perfectly legal as is the conduct surrounding it. Therefore, the logic goes, Snowden isn’t an honorable “whistle-blower” he’s a traitorous “leaker,” and the only criminal in this case is Snowden and Snowden alone.

The first — and most simple — way to debunk this talking point is to simply behold two sets of testimony by Obama administration national security officials. In one, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper categorically denies that the government “collect(s) any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.” In another, the Guardian reports that NSA Director General Keith Alexander “denied point-blank that the agency had the figures on how many Americans had their electronic communications collected or reviewed.”

Both of those claims, of course, were exposed as lies by Snowden’s disclosures. So at minimum Snowden deserves the title “whistle-blower” (and the attendant protections that are supposed to come with such a title) because his disclosures outed Clapper and Alexander’s statements as probable cases of illegal perjury before Congress. In other words, in terms of perjury, the disclosures didn’t expose controversial-but-legal activity, they exposed illegal behavior.

That’s not some technicality, by the way; the whole reason perjury before Congress is considered a serious crime is because if executive branch officials like Clapper and Alexander are permitted to lie to the legislative branch, then that branch cannot exercise its constitutional oversight responsibilities. Harsh punishment for perjury is considered a necessary deterrent to such deception.

There’s also the issue of whether . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 1:59 pm

Misunderstanding whistleblowers—totally

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Kevin Gosztola has a good analysis:

Pundits and those with ties to the power elite, whom media conglomerates allow to appear on television regularly, happen to have a profound appreciation for all apparatuses and mechanisms of the national security state. They all also hold the view that if Congress and federal judges have not opposed the expansion of massive and secret surveillance programs then it must all be legal and not in violation of the Fourth Amendment or any other laws.

From that view flows the reaction that anyone can see on television right now as the media discusses Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency whistle-blower whose disclosures on top-secret surveillance programs were published by the Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald.

Jeffrey Toobin, a senior CNN legal analyst and contributor to the New Yorker, was leading the charge against Snowden in the media by characterizing him as a “grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison.” He appeared on Piers Morgan’s program later in the evening and said, “I think there are right ways to do it and there are wrong ways to do it, and by a 29-year-old kid, just throwing open the safe and giving away documents that people have devoted years of their lives to creating and protecting. That’s the wrong way to protest.”

Toobin appears to cling to this faith in institutions that are wholly subservient to the national security state, believing that if abuses of power were truly occurring Congress or an inspector general would listen to someone like Snowden and it all would be corrected.  But, when NSA whistle-blower Thomas Drake went to the inspector general to expose fraud, waste, abuse and illegality related to a private contractor boondoggle at the NSA, according to writer Marcy Wheeler, he became the target of a leak investigation.

Jesselyn Radack, who sought to expose how the Justice Department was involved in the coverup of torture American Taliban John Walker Lindh experienced, told Harper‘s Scott Horton in 2012 that an inspector general can start investigating the whistle-blower instead.

“After seven months of a pretextual investigation, the IG told my attorney that he had ‘looked into’ my whistleblower allegations, and that he was ‘not going to pursue it,’” according to Radack. “Obviously the IG didn’t look very deeply. He didn’t even bother to ask me, the whistleblower, what had happened. Not bothering to interview the complainant shows where the IG’s priorities lay. Moreover, Justice never responded to the congressional request.”

Thus, sheer ignorance or the will to make excuses for the national security state is one of the few ways to explain the arguments of people like Toobin, who persistently maintain that nothing foul could be happening.

Kathleen McClellan of the Government Accountability Project was also on CNN during the day and had an opportunity to rebut Toobin during one of his many appearances. She told Toobin, “You can ask some other NSA whistle-blowers that are clients of ours at the Government Accountability Project, Thomas Drake, William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe, who raised concerns years ago about this same exact kind of surveillance. And not only were their concerns ignored, but the government prosecuted them, criminally investigated all of them, and prosecuting Mr. Drake under the Espionage Act.”

Toobin spent most of the day, like others, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 1:43 pm

More signs of breakdown

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And of those in positions of authority presuming that they can do anything without suffering any consequences. Alex Kane reports at AlterNet:

Employees from Clark County family court in Nevada are under investigation for covering up an alleged sexual assault by a court officer,according to KLAS-TV, a CBS affiliate. [3]

An internal affairs investigation has also revealed larger problems at the court, like more allegations of sexual assault and violence.

The story KLAS-TV focuses in on is what happened to Monica Contreras. The mother of a two-year-old daughter went to family court in August 2011 on a routine divorce case. Her husband didn’t show up, and so his request for a temporary restraining order was denied.

Things went downhill for Contreras from there, and there’s video to prove it. Court officer Ron Fox told Contreras she needed to be searched for drugs. According to Contreras and an internal investigation that verified her story, Fox touched her breasts and ordered her shirt to be lifted up. Contreras then went to the hearing master, Patricia Donninger, to tell her that Contreras’ requests for a female officer to conduct the search were ignored.

A second officer then begins to arrest Contreras. Fox says that it was because Contreras made “false allegations.” The news outlet notes [3]that they could not find a “law that would support the arrest. It is also highly unlikely a sexual assault victim would be placed under arrest by the alleged assaulter.”

Meanwhile, the hearing master was looking away while Contreras was pleading with her to pay attention to what was happening to her. “How can you do this to me? How can you watch?” she asks.

The court lieutenant did not inform anyone about the alleged sexual assault.

Two months after the arrest, Contreras filed a complaint, and an internal affairs investigation got underway. But eventually, Fox was fired, though he maintains his innocence. His attorney said the arrest of Contreras was legal because nobody in the court tried to halt his actions.

But nobody informed Contreras about the investigation, Fox’s firing or that her claims were verified. The news outlet had to do that.

The internal investigation isn’t over yet. KLAS-TV reports: “Clark County courts are widening their investigation into why this incident, and a growing number of assault allegations, were never reported by family court management to internal affairs.”

And more: Reality show with cops shooting and killing a 7-year-old.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 1:39 pm

Posted in Government, Law

Why does America lose its head over ‘terror’ but ignore its daily gun deaths?

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I have to admit I’m puzzled: the US will sacrifice its freedoms, liberties, and travel convenience for fear of a terrorist, but phlegmatically accepts weekly mass shootings without turning a hair. And yet we lose many more citizens to domestic shootings than we ever have to terrorists. Michael Cohen writes in the Guardian:

The thriving metropolis of Boston was turned into a ghost town on Friday. Nearly a million Bostonians were asked to stay in their homes – and willingly complied. Schools were closed; business shuttered; trains, subways and roads were empty; usually busy streets eerily resembled a post-apocalyptic movie set; even baseball games and cultural events were cancelled – all in response to a 19-year-old fugitive, who was on foot and clearly identified by the news media.

The actions allegedly committed by the Boston marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, were heinous. Four people dead and more than 100 wounded, some with shredded and amputated limbs.

But Londoners, who endured IRA terror for years, might be forgiven for thinking that America over-reacted just a tad to the goings-on in Boston. They’re right – and then some. What we saw was a collective freak-out like few that we’ve seen previously in the United States. It was yet another depressing reminder that more than 11 years after 9/11 Americans still allow themselves to be easily and willingly cowed by the “threat” of terrorism.

After all, it’s not as if this is the first time that homicidal killers have been on the loose in a major American city. In 2002, Washington DC was terrorised by two roving snipers, who randomly shot and killed 10 people. In February, a disgruntled police officer, Christopher Dorner, murdered four people over several days in Los Angeles. In neither case was LA or DC put on lockdown mode, perhaps because neither of these sprees was branded with that magically evocative and seemingly terrifying word for Americans, terrorism.

To be sure, public officials in Boston appeared to be acting out of an abundance of caution. And it’s appropriate for Boston residents to be asked to take precautions or keep their eyes open. But by letting one fugitive terrorist shut down a major American city, Boston not only bowed to outsize and irrational fears, but sent a dangerous message to every would-be terrorist – if you want to wreak havoc in the United States, intimidate its population and disrupt public order, here’s your instruction booklet.

Putting aside the economic and psychological cost, the lockdown also prevented an early capture of the alleged bomber, who was discovered after Bostonians were given the all clear and a Watertown man wandered into his backyard for a cigarette and found a bleeding terrorist on his boat.

In some regards, there is a positive spin on this – it’s a reflection of how little Americans have to worry about terrorism. A population such as London during the IRA bombings or Israel during the second intifada or Baghdad, pretty much every day, becomes inured to random political violence. Americans who have such little experience of terrorism, relatively speaking, are more primed to overreact – and assume the absolute worst when it comes to the threat of a terror attack. It is as if somehow in the American imagination, every terrorist is a not just a mortal threat, but is a deadly combination of Jason Bourne and James Bond.

If only Americans reacted the same way to the actual threats that exist in their country. There’s something quite fitting and ironic about the fact that the Boston freak-out happened in the same week the Senate blocked consideration of a gun control bill that would have strengthened background checks for potential buyers. Even though this reform is supported by more than 90% of Americans, and even though 56 out of 100 senators voted in favour of it, the Republican minority prevented even a vote from being held on the bill because it would have allegedly violated the second amendment rights of “law-abiding Americans”.

So for those of you keeping score at home – locking down an American city: a proper reaction to the threat from one terrorist. A background check to prevent criminals or those with mental illness from purchasing guns: a dastardly attack on civil liberties. All of this would be almost darkly comic if not for the fact that more Americans will die needlessly as a result. Already, more than 30,000 Americans die in gun violence every year (compared to the 17 who died last year in terrorist attacks). . .

Continue reading.

The enormous (and horrendously expensive: hundreds of billions of dollars) NSA machinery is to prevent 17 deaths a year? Of course, the NSA spies on other countries as well as the US, but the impetus to spend those billions came even as more people were dying by gun violence than were ever threatened by terrorists.

Home of the brave? Hardly. Land of the free? Getting much less so.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 12:40 pm

Posted in Daily life, Guns, Terrorism

Send in the Lawsuits: Parents of Navy SEAL Killed in Afghan Crash File the First Suit on NSA Spying

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Maybe we’ll get some answer through the courts, though the Obama Administration, like the Bush Administration before it, likes to play the “national security” card to keep things secret. Dashiell Bennett writes at the Atlantic Wire:

A couple in Philadelphia has filed a class-action lawsuit against the National Security Agency and Verizon, claiming they and their phone records were targeted for surveillance because of their outspoken criticism of Barack Obama and the U.S. military. This is believed to be the first official lawsuit filed against the government and the company, since it was revealed that Verizon had been ordered to turn over phone metadata for all of its customers.

The couple who filed the class-action suit are not just any disgruntled Verizon customers, however. They are Charles and Mary Ann Strange, the parents of a Navy SEAL who was killed along with 37 others, when his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan in 2011. Several of the families of those lost in the attack have questioned the Defense Department’s official story of the incident — one of the deadliest single events of the entire war for American troops — and they specifically blame President Obama’s polices for leading to those deaths. Among their many complaints: that Afghan forces working with the Americans may have set them up; that because many of those killed that day were members of the same unit that killed Osama bin Laden, publicizing their role in the earlier mission made them targets for retaliation; and that rules of engagement prevented the helicopter and the men on it from fighting back. They also claim that a Muslim cleric was invited to speak at the funeral, who then insulted the dead servicemen in Arabic, although there’s little evidence to support that charge.

The Stranges have already filed one lawsuit against Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, the Taliban, and the governments of Afghanistan and Iran, because of the helicopter attack, and they now claim that their phone records were accessed by NSA because “these Plaintiffs have been vocal about their criticism of President Obama as commander-in-chief,” as well as the U.S. military. The new case names President Obama; Attorney General Eric Holder; NSA director Keith Alexander; and Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam among the defendants. The lawyer leading the way in both lawsuits is Larry Klayman, the founder of the controversial Judicial Watch, which sued President Bill Clinton 18 times when he was in office, and sued President George W. Bush and Dick Cheney over their secretive Energy Task Force in 2003. Klayman even sued Judicial Watch after an acrimonious split with the organization in 2006.

While this inaugural lawsuit may not have the strongest case against the NSA or the president, you can bet it won’t be the last. You can read the whole filing below. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 11:47 am

Three good Tuesday columns

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J.K. Trotter rounds up five columns in the Atlantic Wire. The three that struck me:

Ai Weiwei at The Guardian on the NSA’s behavior The Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei sees, in the NSA’s widespread surveillance projects, more hints of his homeland’s government: “In China, basically there is no privacy at all — that is why China is far behind the world in important respects: even though it has become so rich, it trails behind in terms of passion, imagination and creativity,” he writes. “Of course, we live under different kinds of legal conditions — in the west and in developed nations there are other laws that can balance or restrain the use of information if the government has it. … If we talk about abusive interference in individuals’ rights, PRISM does the same. It puts individuals in a very vulnerable position. Privacy is a basic human right, one of the very core values.” The similarities also shed light on China’s relationship with the U.S., and whether it will extradite Snowden. “When conflict arises between China and the United States, the diplomatic resources in both countries tend to do a great job of quietly solving the problem,” says Jonathan Galaviz at Forbes.

Alex Pareene at Salon on Edward Snowden’s personality “The debate we’re supposed to be having now is over whether or not our vast surveillance capabilities are constitutional, whether or not it operates with sufficient oversight, and why we entrust tens of thousands of private military contractors with access to potentially intimate details about anyone who uses a computer regularly,” writes Alex Pareene, after taking stock of how prominent outlets are covering NSA leaker Edward Snowden. “The story of Edward Snowden is fascinating, and if and when law enforcement catches up with him his intentions and methods will certainly be worth arguing over, but right now it’s just an excuse to apply an idiotic cable news frame to the story.” On TwitterForbes columnist Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry summed up the difficulty of such coverage: “It’s possible to be a criminal AND a traitor AND insane AND right.” . . .

Chris Hughes at The New Republic on how we control technology Facebook co-founder and New Republic owner Chris Hughes considers the inevitability of “big data”: “Technologists see the rise of big data as the inevitable march of history, impossible to prevent or alter … they say that we must cope with the consequences of these changes, but they never really consider the role we play in creating and supporting these technologies themselves.” He goes on: “These well-meaning technological advocates have forgotten that as a society, we determine our own future and set our own standards, norms, and policy. … Big data is not a Leviathan that must be coped with, but a technological trend that we have made possible and support through social and political policy.” At ForbesWendy S. Goffe considers the impact of data on a smaller scale: “We need to think seriously about what we hold onto and what we leave behind, not just because it opens us to electronic surveillance by the government, but also because of the burden it creates for our descendants.” . . .

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 11:43 am

Moore’s Law, J. Edgar Hoover and the real roots of the NSA surveillance scandal

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Neil Irwin in the Washington Post:

The lines are already being drawn over whether to view Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker, as a hero who blew the whistle on a dangerous government intrusion into privacy or a villain who criminally endangered our national security. But the debate over government surveillance should start with a different name: Gordon E. Moore.

Moore is the co-founder of Intel who in 1965 came up with “Moore’s Law,” which predicted that computing power would double every year. The trend has kept up for two generations and counting, causing exponential growth in computers’ ability to process information.

When Moore’s Law was conceived, and J. Edgar Hoover was at the height of his power running the FBI, a world in which the government could plausibly suck in all the data created by hundreds of millions of Americans or billions of earthlings was simply beyond imagining. (Well, not completely beyond imagining. George Orwell did a quite good job).If you were a federal agent who wanted to intercept somebody’s mail, you had to go down to the post office to get it. If you wanted to wiretap a phone call, you needed to  physically install a wiretap. Read, for example, John Judis’s account of being tailed by the FBI as a young radical in the 1960s and ’70s, and think of the sheer manpower — and money —that was deployed to monitor every minor lefty activist of that era.

Of course, that variety of surveillance state was largely done away with in the post-Watergate reforms. Domestic spying was limited to investigations that obtained a warrant, which in turn required credible evidence of a crime before G-men could snoop. But the entire legal regime was still based on the premise that state monitoring of private communication was something that could only really be done by those traditional means of investigating a possible crime.

Fast-forward 30 years. Digital storage and computing speeds are such that it is within the technical capacity of the government to archive every telephone conversation on earth. I have at my fingertips, thanks to my Gmail account, every e-mail I have written since 2005, nearly 26,000 separate conversations — and if Snowden’s accusations about the NSA’s Prism program are accurate, so does the National Security Agency (though there’s a lot we don’t know about what steps the government has to go through to exploit the technology). The Google servers alone contain vast quantities of information, instantly searchable, belonging to their many millions of customers, like me.

In proving Moore’s Law, all the world’s information can be stored, cataloged and accessed in ways that would make J. Edgar Hoover leap with delight.

Meanwhile, the old system of separating domestic and international spying is looking more and more antiquated. It’s fine to have a 1970s-era principle that the FBI can’t spy on radical citizen activists unless it has evidence that they are looking commit a crime, while the CIA can spy on the Soviets with few limits. But in a world where loose networks of terrorists incite our biggest fears and where information is pinged around the world with little respect for national boundaries, the old distinctions aren’t particularly useful.

What could or should the intelligence agencies have done with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the deceased Boston Marathon bomber? He was a legal resident of the United States who was not known to have committed any crimes before the attack but may have had connections to Chechen radicals. These situations rapidly become a legal knot, and it’s hard to know from constitutional principles exactly where the lines ought to be.

Couple that with the extreme secrecy around what exactly the U.S. government’s technical capacities are, and what legal authorities they are based upon, and you have a nasty combination. The people (up to and including the president) who know what Prism and similar programs are truly capable of argue that disclosing those details would make it too easy for bad guys to evade government monitoring. So we have to just trust that they aren’t overstepping any boundaries of legitimate civil liberties.

So, it’s: Just trust us on this.

Put it all together, and we end up here: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 11:38 am

How Big Is the NSA Police State, Really?

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Very interesting look at the NSA empire by Philip Bump at the Atlantic Wire:

As you probably know, “the cloud” in Internet parlance isn’t an actual cloud. The Internet’s cloud refers to remote storage of information and the network that connects to it. What tech companies pitch as a nebulous intangibility is really just stacks and stacks of servers with direct connections to the rest of the world. Things that take up physical space, in other words.

For the National Security Agency to do its spying, they need servers. They need buildings, perhaps ones clad in black, patrolled by guards, in remote places across the country. Indeed, the NSA is building a massive facility in Utah. But they need big buildings to hold the data infrastructure. But just how big, physically, is the NSA’s privacy invasion? We decided to try and figure that out.

But to answer that question, we needed to answer three other questions. What information is being collected in the surveillance operations? How much of that information is the NSA housing? And, how much space would saving that much information actually take up? What we learned from talking to a variety of experts is that the calculus is not simple, and any answers are largely estimates. But we got answers.

What information is being stored?

Early last month, even while he was finalizing his discussions with Edward Snowden, The Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald reported on a conversation between Tim Clemente, a former FBI agent, and CNN host Carol Costello. In the interview about the Boston Marathon investigation, as seen at right, Clemente makes the claim that “all digital communications are — there’s a way to look at digital communications in the past.” Costello refers to a previous appearance in which Clemente claimed the government could access phone calls, even “exactly what was said in that conversation.”

This is an important claim for two reasons. The first is that Clemente, who also served on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, suggests a massive breadth of information collection. The second is that he doesn’t say who is actually collecting the data, which we’ll come back to.

Clemente indicates that entire phone calls are being recorded and stored, which is a far stronger claim than that Verizon is sharing metadata with the government. Both from a privacy standpoint and for our calculations. Metadata on a call — the number from which it originated, who it was placed to, duration, location information — is tiny. Perhaps a few hundred bytes could contain all of it. But a call is much larger — and as the call goes on, the amount of storage space it takes up increases dramatically, running into multiple megabytes. Same thing with email: a text email message is small; embed a photo, and it gets much bigger; embed a video, and it gets much, much, much bigger.

So if Clemente is right, and the government has access to “all digital communications” — videos, calls, audio recordings, emails, photos — that’s taking up a lot of physical space somewhere. Which brings us to the second reason Clemente’s claim is important, and to our second question.

How much of that information is the NSA housing?

Continue reading.

One question: The heavy-handed threat of retaliation against Katherine Russell if she doesn’t divulge a private communication with her husband, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

First, I thought that communications between husband and wife were privileged—and, even more generally, people had the right to remain silent and could not be forced to answer questions from the authorities.

Second, if they can get the content of the phone call anyway, what earthly difference does it make whether she tells them or not? Is it some kind of power play, to show that they can “break” her? What’s up with that?

Third, we’ve been told by James Clapper that the NSA keeps only metadata, not the content of the calls. Of course, James Clapper is a known liar—he lied quite deliberately to Congress—so presumably he’s also lied about the metadata, at least according to this guy.

It seems more and more that we, the public, need to know what the government is doing in its spying on us. And we also need a much better Congress, since Congress has obviously not been doing its job. Too busy fund-raising, I imagine.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 11:34 am

Plan B makes conservatives crazy

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Kevin Drum gives a good example at Mother Jones:

Over at The Corner, Wesley Smith passes along the story of a mother who pretended to be her 12-year-old daughter and successfully trapped an online sexual predator. Then, for some reason, he adds this:

Now, think about this story in the context of the Obama Administration’s decision to allow “women of all ages”—in the parlance of the radical reproductive rights crowd—to obtain the morning-after-pill without supervision. It will be yet another way in which parents could be kept in the dark about what is happening to their own children, perhaps even when they are victims of sexual predation. Truly sickening.

These people don’t even make sense any more. Apparently the existence of online creeps is a good reason to prevent teenagers from deciding whether or not they want to bear children. Or something. Jesus.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 11:17 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Medical

When businesses give judges money, they usually get the rulings they want

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And the same goes with politicians: Our government and its functions seem to be up for sale. Dylan Matthews writes in the Washington Post:

You’re probably pretty familiar with the way the federal government picks its judges. The president selects a nominee, the Senate confirms or rejects the nominee (or else declines to bring them up for a vote), and if the Senate confirms, then the pick gets to serve as long as he or she likes. If they serve for 15 years and make it to age 65, and aren’t on the Supreme Court, they can even enjoy a genteel form of semi-retirement known as “senior status,” where they get to oversee cases but don’t have to work full-time.

State judicial systems don’t work like that. In fact, according to a new report by Emory law professor and economist Joanna Shepherd, released by the left-leaning American Constitution Society, only three states grant lifetime tenure to judges on their highest court. Indeed, barely over half – 28 – rely on gubernatorial or legislative appointments for the initial selection of the highest court’s judges at all; they’re the states in shades of red below.

judge_initial_selection_map1

The ones in light red use “merit selection,” or a system where a bipartisan commission selects a shortlist of candidates for appointment, who then sends the list to the governor, who then must pick one of the candidates from the list. Missouri’s version of that system is perhaps the best known.

In the states that don’t have lifetime tenure, appointed judges either have to be reappointed after a given period by the governor, legislature, or a judicial nominating committee, or they have to be retained by the people in what’s called a “retention election.” And in the 22 states where judges aren’t initially appointed, it’s elections all the way down. In fact, nine states (the ones in dark blue on the map) use partisan elections to decide the membership of their highest court.

When judges are elected, that means they have to raise campaign money — a lot of money, in fact. And the amounts in question have risen considerably in recent decades: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 11:15 am

How Dystopian Secrecy Contributes to Clueless Wars

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Chase Madar has an excellent piece at TomDispatch.com, and as usual Tom Engelhardt provides a good intro:

Okay, give them this much: their bloodlust stops just short of the execution chamber door. The military prosecutors of the case against Bradley Manning, assumedly with the support of the Obama administration, have brought the virulent charge of “aiding the enemy” against the Army private who leaked state secrets.  Yet they claim to have magnanimously taken the death penalty off the table.  All they want to do is lock Manning up and throw away the key because, so they claim, he did nothing short of personally lend a hand to archfiend Osama bin Laden.  This echoes the charge repeatedly made by top U.S. officials that he and WikiLeaks have “blood on their hands” for releasing a trove of military and State Department documents.

We’re talking about the very officials who planned and oversaw Washington’s wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the backlands of the planet and who have searched their own hands in vain for any signs of blood.  (None at all, they don’t hesitate to assure us.)  Among them are those, military and civilian, who set up our torture prisons at Guantanamo and in Afghanistan, are ultimately responsible for the perversions of Abu Ghraib, and oversaw kidnappings off the streets of global cities.  These are the folks whose Air Force blew away at least six wedding parties in Iraq and Afghanistan, whose drones have killed hundreds, if not thousands of civilians, and whose special operations forces recently seem to have been involved in the torture, murder, and secret burial of Afghan civilians.  I could go on, but why bother since it was all done “legally,” which means they can retire to corporate boards of their choice, rake in money from speeches, and write their memoirs, while Manning, whose motive (to judge by the online conversations he had) was to end the bloodletting, reveal information about American crimes, and to shut down our wars will have no memoir to write, no life to live.   It can’t get worse than that, can it?

Given what we now know about the U.S. military’s unwillingness to pursue prosecutions of rape in its own ranks, its eagerness to pursue Manning to the edge of the grave should be considered striking.  We’re talking about a national security state that — as recent revelations have made clear — can imagine just about no boundaries when it comes to surveilling its own population and none whatsoever when it comes to protecting its own actions from the eyes of the public.  In that sense, Manning truly crossed a red line.  Rape?  A mere nothing compared to his crime.  After all, he was aiding the most dangerous enemy of all: not Osama bin Laden, but Americans who want to breach the ever-expanding secrecy of the National Security Complex.

As TomDispatch regular Chase Madar (covering the Manning trial as a blogger for the Nation) suggests today, right now there seem to be few crimes more dangerous than shining a light on the secret workings of the U.S. government and its military.  Admittedly, President Obama entered the Oval Office promising on Day One to let the “sunshine” in on government operations.  Manning fulfilled the president’s promise in the only way a 22-year-old who had seen terrible things in Iraq could imagine doing.  Maybe it wasn’t elegant by the president’s high standards, but it was effective.  He deserves something better than the worst the U.S. military and Washington can throw at him.  He deserves a life, and if that life in the end proves as valuable as it’s been so far, a memoir. Tom

How Dystopian Secrecy Contributes to Clueless Wars
Bradley Manning Has Done More for U.S. Security than SEAL Team 6 
By Chase Madar

The prosecution of Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks’ source inside the U.S. Army, will be pulling out all the stops when it calls to the stand a member of Navy SEAL Team 6, the unit that assassinated Osama bin Laden.  The SEAL (in partial disguise, as his identity is secret) is expected to tell the military judge that classified documents leaked by Manning to WikiLeaks were found on bin Laden’s laptop.  That will, in turn, be offered as proof not that bin Laden had internet access like two billion other earthlings, but that Manning has “aided the enemy,” a capital offense.

Think of it as courtroom cartoon theater: the heroic slayer of the jihadi super-villain testifying against the ultimate bad soldier, a five-foot-two-inch gay man facing 22 charges in military court and accused of the biggest security breach in U.S. history.

But let’s be clear on one thing: Manning, the young Army intelligence analyst who leaked thousands of public documents and passed them on to WikiLeaks, has done far more for U.S. national security than SEAL Team 6.

The assassination of Osama bin Laden, the spiritual (but not operational) leader of al-Qaeda, was a fist-pumping moment of triumphalism for a lot of Americans, as the Saudi fanatic had come to incarnate not just al-Qaeda but all national security threats.  This was true despite the fact that, since 9/11, al-Qaeda has been able to do remarkably little harm to the United States or to the West in general.  (The deadliest attack in a Western nation since 9/11, the 2004 Atocha bombing in Madrid, was not committed by bin Laden’s organization, though white-shoe foreign policy magazines and think tanks routinely get this wrong, “al-Qaeda” being such a handy/sloppy metonym for all terrorism.)

Al-Qaeda remains a simmering menace, but as an organization hardly the greatest threat to the United States.  In fact, if you measure national security in blood and money, as many of us still do, by far the greatest threat to the United States over the past dozen years has been our own clueless foreign policy.

The Wages of Cluelessness Is Death

Look at the numbers.  The attacks of September 11, 2001, killed 3,000 people, a large-scale atrocity by any definition.  Still, roughly double that number of American military personnel have been killed in Washington’s invasion and occupation of Iraq and its no-end-in-sight war in Afghanistan.  Add in private military contractors who have died in both war zones, along with recently discharged veterans who have committed suicide, and the figure triples.  The number of seriously wounded in both wars is cautiously estimated at 50,000.   And if you dare to add in as well the number of IraqisAfghans, and foreign coalition personnel killed in both wars, the death toll reaches at least a hundred 9/11s and probably more.

Did these people die to make America safer?  Don’t insult our intelligence.  Virtually no one thinks the Iraq War has made the U.S. more secure, though many believe the war created new threats.  After all, the Iraq we liberated is now in danger of collapsing into another bitter, bloody civil war, is a close ally of Iran, and sells the preponderance of its oil to China. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 10:58 am

America’s Most Anti-Democratic Institution: The Imperial Presidency

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Fred Branfman writes at AlterNet:

Editor’s Note:This is the first article of a four-part series by Fred Branfman on the U.S. Executive Branch’s military, police and intelligence agencies which have aggregated far more power, committed far more evil by destroying the lives of countless innocents, and operated far more illegally, than any other governing institution in the world today.

The Executive Branch is also America’s most undemocratic and thus unamerican institution. The U.S. Executive justifies its mass murder, incarceration of the innocent, authoritarianism, secrecy, deceit, lawlessness, spying, and prosecution of whistleblowers, the press and activists on the claim that it is protecting U.S. “National Security.” As this article and chart below it entitled “Experts Say U.S. Secret War Is Not Working” demonstrate, however, the Executive’s present campaign in the Muslim World is only the greatest of its many strategic failures to protect U.S. national security. It is in fact today endangering American lives and democracy as never before. A U.S. Executive Branch which constantly deceives its own people, robbing them of the “informed consent” required by the Constitution, cannot legitimately claim to rule in their names. And its citizens are under no moral obligation to obey or support it with their tax dollars, sons or daughters until such time as public and Congressional action have made it subject to truly democratic rule.

If you aren’t familiar with Branfman’s work, here’s some background from his long-time colleague and collaborator, Noam Chomsky [3]: Branfman “worked for years, with enormous courage and effort, to try to expose what were called the ‘secret wars’ [against Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam War]. The secret wars were perfectly public wars which the media were keeping secret, government. And Fred …  finally did succeed in breaking through, and [helped prompt] a tremendous exposure of huge wars that were going on.”

Many have expressed surprise that under President Obama – a former Constitutional Law Senior Lecturer who promised transparency [4], protection for whisteblowers [4] and respect for international law [5]when running for office – U.S. Executive Branch agencies have:

  • Built up a fleet of 7,000 drones [6], operating from a growing number of secret bases [7] around the world, as they train [8] more drone than conventional pilots; waged automated war in an ever-expanding [9] number of nations, lawlessly murdering thousands of human beings [10] without [11] even knowing their names, while greatly strengthening America’s foes (see chart below), destabilizing [12] allied governments and, in the case of Pakistan, greatly increasing the risk of nuclear materials [13] falling into anti-American hands;
  • Created the top-secret Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) consisting of 60,000 [14] persons operating in 75 nations [15], the first unit of American assassins in U.S. history, who have illegally murdered many thousands more [16] people and conducted night raids recalling World War II Gestapo movies which, according to Afghan President Karzai [17], have helped strengthen the Taliban and destabilize his government;
  • Collected records of millions of phone calls of Americans citizens from Verizon [20], Sprint [21], ATT and other phone carriers, and spied[22] on millions more Americans’ search histories, email content, file transfers and live chats while on the Internet;
  • Authorized [23] the use of drones in the United States, which the Federal Aviation Administration estimates could lead to 30,000 drones in U.S. skies by 2020, leading privacy advocates to fear their massive use by police departments to spy on Americans;
  • Increased paramilitary [25] training and equipment, and created secret police spying operations in thousands of states and cities around the nation (see chapter 7, “Report Suspicious Activity”, Top Secret America, by Dana Priest and William Arkin);
  • Created “huge biometric databases – with fingerprints and iris scans – of nearly 100 million people” (Top Secret America, p. 53);
  • As Priest and Arkin have also revealed, the Executive Branch has created “a jaw-dropping 1,074 federal government organizations, and nearly two thousand private companies involved with programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence in at least 17,000 locations across the United States – all top secret. The biggest growth had come within the many agencies and large corporations that had existed before the attacks and had since inflated to historic proportions.” This has amounted to “a parallel top secret government whose parts had mushroomed in less than a decade into a gigantic, sprawling universe of its own, visible only to a carefully vetted cadre, and its entirety, as Pentagon intelligence chief James Clapper admitted, visible only to God.” (pp. 52, 86).

Under Mr. Obama, America is still far from being a classic police-state of course. But no President has done more to create the infrastructure for a possible future police-state. This infrastructure will clearly pose a serious danger to democratic ideals should there be more 9/11s, and/or increased domestic unrest due to economic decline and growing inequality, and/or massive global disruption due to climate change, and/or a President with even less scruples than Mr. Obama.

What gives? How could a fellow who spoke so eloquently of the need for the rule of law when running for President now be presiding over a lawless “industrial-sized killing machine” [26] abroad and a massive threat to civil liberties at home? Why has Mr. Obama made the U.S. evenmore hated [27] in the Muslim world than when he took office – even though his stated goal [28] in 2009 was to reshape U.S. policy in the region? How is it that both he and Mitt Romney both ran on essentially the same foreign policy [29], despite significant differences between them on domestic policy?

Much of the answer to such questions lies in something that we rarely do in this nation – seeing the U.S. Executive Branch Mr. Obama nominally heads for what it really is: the most powerful institution in the history of the world, one that has killed, wounded or made homeless well over 20 million human beings (“Dollars and Deaths,”Cong. Record, 5-14-75, p. 14262), mostly civilians, since 1962 – far more than any other government in the world.

Nothing demonstrates this institution’s power more than Mr. Obama himself. The fact that he has so violated his own values and belief system as Commander-in-Chief is not merely a matter of personal hypocrisy; it is a dramatic illustration of how the Executive’s institutional violence, secrecy and deceit overwhelm even Presidents who begin their terms with relatively good intentions.

Just six days before Mr. Obama’s recent speech [30] stating that “perpetual war — through drones or Special Forces or troop deployments — will prove self-defeating”, Pentagon officials gave testimony [31] to Congress calling for just such perpetual war. If Mr. Obama is serious about actually changing present U.S. policy, he will find himself blocked at every turn by powerful Executive Branch officials whose salaries, promotions, agency budgets and future well-paying private sector jobs depend upon perpetual war, at home and abroad.

Americans have been conditioned to focus on the personality of the President, and to see the giant Executive Branch as a mere servant of its “Commander-in-Chief.” Countless books and newspaper stories have been written about the differences between the “Reagan”, “Carter” or “Clinton” foreign policies. There are of course significant differences between Administrations, though often due as much to differing objective conditions as Presidential desires. But the simple fact is that these differences have been far outweighed by a remarkable consistency in U.S. foreign policy since the end of World War II. And a President is far more limited in his options than popular folklore suggests. It is only when one understands the Executive Branch as an institution that one can make sense, not only of Mr. Obama, but much of both America’s postwar history and frightening future.

Famed Watergate reporter Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars reporting on Mr. Obama’s Afghanistan Policy Review in the fall of 2009 provides an instructive case-study of just how limited a President’s options are when faced with institutional opposition from within the Executive Branch.

Woodward reported that after Mr. Obama had acceded to the military demand for an addition 21,000 troops shortly after taking office, he asked them to produce a set of options that would include a reduced U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. The Pentagon refused to do so and instead began publicly lobbying for an additional 40,000 troops. Joint Chief of Staff head Admiral Mike Mullen first pushed [32] for a troop increase at a September 15 Senate Armed Services hearing. White House aides Rahm Emanuel and Tom Donilon were, Woodward reports, “furious. The president is being screwed by the senior uniformed military, they (said). The generals and admirals are systematically playing him, boxing him in.” Mullen apologized and said it wouldn’t happen again.

But then two weeks later, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 10:45 am

Top Ten Reasons to Legalize Marijuana Now

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Carmen Yarrusso at TruthOut:

10. [Industrial] Hemp benefits are denied. Hemp can be made into paper, paneling, plastics, clothing and thousands of other useful products. The highly nutritious seeds can be used to make flour, cooking oil and cattle feed.

This environmentally friendly plant grows without herbicides, nourishes the soil, matures quickly and provides high yields. It’s the number-one biomass producer in the world – ten tons per acre in four months. It could be an excellent fuel-producing crop.

Hemp, “nature’s perfect plant,” could bring a bonanza to hurting American farmers while greatly reducing America’s dependence on fossil fuels, which could significantly mitigate climate change.

9. Prohibition diverts billions from the needy. More than 50 government agencies feed at the drug war trough. Food stamps and other social programs are being slashed while billions are spent trying to stop adults from using marijuana.

8. Prohibition is clearly counterproductive. Guaranteeing massive profits to anyone on earth who can produce and deliver marijuana to our streets cannot do anything but assure that even more will be produced and delivered.

7. Criminalizing marijuana lacks moral justification. A real crime implies a victim and a perpetrator. Can you imagine being jailed for robbing yourself? As insane as this sounds, our government has done the equivalent by making adult use of marijuana a crime.

Only a depraved, corrupt government could invent a crime you commit against yourself.

6. . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 10:41 am

Posted in Drug laws

Problems with pork

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Martha Rosenberg takes a look at what the pork industry is selling as food:

You know things are bad in the pork industry when the whistleblowers aren’t animal rights activists, but the government itself. In May, the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of the Inspector General exposed extreme sanitation and humane violations in 30 US swine slaughterhouses it visited and in records of 600 other US plants slaughtering pigs.

“During FYs 2008 to 2011, FSIS [Food Safety and Inspection Service, the regulatory agency within USDA] issued 44,128 noncompliance records (NRs) to 616 plants; only 28 plants were suspended, even though some plants repeated violations as egregious as fecal matter on previously cleaned carcasses,” says the Office of the Inspector General report. “In one plant, flies hovered over an area where blood was being collected to be sold for human consumption” (for products like blood sausage and blood soup). Twenty-two of the 28 plants that were actually suspended were allow to “continue to operate within a short period–some as little as one day after suspension,” says the report. There’s a deterrent for you.

This is not the first time the USDA Office of the Inspector General has sounded the safety alarm about the meat supply. A 2010 report warned that farmers were feeding drug-laced milk, banned for human consumption, to calves. “When the calves are slaughtered, the drug residue from the feed or milk remains in their meat, which is then sold to consumers.” Two years earlier, an OIG report warned that USDA officials “believed the sanitizer spray was sufficient” to kill the prions that spread Mad Cow disease. Prions are not inactivated by cooking, heat, autoclaves, ammonia, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, phenol, lye, formaldehyde, or radiation!

The OIG swine report comes as US regulators consider the proposed acquisition of 87-year-old, Virginia-based Smithfield foods by Shuanghui International. If approved, the $4.7 billion deal would be the biggest takeover of any US firm, not just a food company, by a Chinese company. Some worry Smithfield will suffer from China’s scandal-ridden food climate in which thousands of pig carcasses were recently seen in a river that supplies Shanghai’s drinking water and rat meat was billed as lamb. (And don’t forget the US pet dogs killed from tainted Chinese dog food in 2007.) But others say the US hog industry has managed to eliminate all wholesomeness, purity, ethics and animal welfare without China’s help.

Here are some of its worst features.

1. Diseased Animals

You don’t have to be a mathematician to conclude that if a plant slaughters 19,000 pigs a day, the line moves pretty fast. OIG officials write that “Inspectors are required to check ‘the head, tail, tongue, thymus gland, and all viscera of each animal slaughtered . . . [and to] observe and palpate the mesenteric lymph nodes’ as well as ‘grasp, turn, and observe both sides of the kidneys’ to find parasites, inflammation, swelling, or masses that might indicate disease.”

But some inspectors are sleeping on the job, says the report. Two inspectors who failed to palpate kidneys and lymph nodes said they were “distracted,” a third had a “history of performance issues,” according to the plant and a fourth was “new.” Another risk is a new plan called HACCP Inspection Models Project that stresses microbiological tests on a sampling of carcasses rather than visual checks on all animals. (HACCP has been called a gift to industry from regulators.) “We question whether this is a better measure for food safety,” says the report because it can’t catch “tuberculosis nodules embedded within the lymph nodes, parasites within the intestine, and inflamed or degenerated organs that are unusually sticky to the touch or excessively firm.” Yum.

2. Filth . . .

Continue reading. The USDA is not doing its job and plant operators are never held criminally liable regardless of what they do.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 10:30 am

The fight rages on for Medicaid expansion in Texas

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In Texas we see the GOP at it most spiteful: spending money to make sure poor people do not get medical care. In other words, providing medical care to the poor would cost the state and its taxpayers less than what the Texas government is doing. Texas is willing to pay extra in order to stick it to the poor. What a state. Khalil Abdullah reports at New American Media:

Health care advocates and business groups, whose efforts failed to move Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas legislature to expand the state’s Medicaid population under the Affordable Care Act, are digging in for a protracted struggle that might extend until 2015 or beyond.

Had Medicaid expansion been enacted during the legislative session that ended last week, individuals earning between 0 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level (an individual earning up to roughly $15,000, or, for a family of four, up to $31,000) would have been eligible for Medicaid health coverage beginning in 2014. The federal government would have paid the entire cost of Texas’s expansion for the first three years through 2016, and 90 percent in years thereafter.

Texas’s Tea Party-driven political leadership shunned an estimated $100 billion over time, money that would have assisted in providing health insurance to an additional one million Texans, according to the state’s Health and Human Service Commission, at a proportionately small cost to the state.

“When the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) first got approved as a federal program, Texas didn’t take it, but we kept on working and working, and finally they did take it,” said Rev. Vincent Fana, Community Projects Facilitator for Texans Together Education Fund, Inc., a civic and community advocacy organization based in Houston that serves the city and its metropolitan area, where about a third of the state’s 3 million African Americans reside.

“So we need to use our efforts on CHIP as the model, in terms of how to get Medicaid expansion. We need to educate people about what it was the [federal] government was trying to bring in and who opposed it.”

Given that the Texas legislature meets every other year, Medicaid expansion won’t come up again for consideration until 2015, unless public pressure persuades Perry to moderate his position. He could call legislators back to Austin for a special session to consider the issue, as he has already done this year on redistricting. Such sessions are typically used by governors only to promote legislation they support, and Perry’s opposition to Obamacare has been unwavering.

Texas leads the country in the highest rate of those without health insurance – 26 percent out of a total population of 26 million. And of the 6 million residents who are uninsured, 58 percent – or 3.6 million – are Latino, including 1.3 million children under age 18. . .

Continue reading.

Seldom do we see so clearly the eagerness of the GOP to harm the poor. The GOP hates poor people—whether that’s true or not, it is the simplest explanation of their policies and actions: Occam’s Razor.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 10:09 am

Posted in GOP, Government, Healthcare

The IEA thinks we can still avoid 2°C of global warming

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A hopeful report, though I believe that in fact nothing will be done until it’s too late. We are saddled with an aggressively ignorant public, cowardly and venal politicians, and corporations whose only focus is growing profits regardless of any damage to the environment or life or health. Brad Plumer reports in the Washington Post:

For anyone who’s in favor of preventing the planet from heating up, there’s bad news and good news in the latest big report from the International Energy Agency.

The somber stuff first: Global carbon-dioxide emissions from energy reached a record high in 2012, after rising 1.4 percent over the past year. The U.S. and Europe did reduce their emissions, but those gains were swamped by growth in China and India.If the current emissions pace continues, the report warns, global average temperatures could rise as high as 5.3°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. That, said IEA chief economist Fatih Birol, “would be a disaster for all countries.”

Okay, so… what’s the optimistic part? The IEA still thinks it’s technically possible for the world to cut emissions by 8 percent by 2020 and stay on track for its declared goalof keeping global warming below 2°C. Just four policies, the agency says, would do the trick: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 10:05 am

The sordid history of image manipulation

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Via Kafeneio, a fascinating report (with examples) of the manipulation of images/photos since the middle of the 19th century. Take a look at that Times cover photo of O.J. Simpson, compared to the Newsweek photo.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 June 2013 at 9:44 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

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