Later On

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

Archive for November 25th, 2014

Very interesting interview (audio and transcript) with journalist James Risen

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Glenn Greenwald interviews James Risen at The Intercept:

Jim Risen, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for exposing the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program, has long been one of the nation’s most aggressive and adversarial investigative journalists. Over the past several years, he has received at least as much attention for being threatened with prison by the Obama Justice Department (ostensibly) for refusing to reveal the source of one of his stories, a persecution that, in reality, is almost certainly the vindictive by-product of the U.S. Government’s anger over his NSA reporting.

He has published a new book on the War on Terror entitled “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War.” There have been lots of critiques of the War on Terror on its own terms, but Risen’s is one of the first to offer large amounts of original reporting on what is almost certainly the most overlooked aspect of this war: the role corporate profiteering plays in ensuring its endless continuation, and how the beneficiaries use rank fear-mongering to sustain it.


That alone makes the book very worth reading, but what independently interests me about Risen is how he seems to have become entirely radicalized by what he’s discovered in the last decade of reporting, as well as by the years-long battle he has had to wage with the U.S. Government to stay out of prison. He now so often eschews the modulated, safe, uncontroversial tones of the standard establishment reporter (such as when he called Obama “the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation” andsaid about the administration’s press freedom attacks: “Nice to see the US government is becoming more like the Iranian government”). He at times even channels radical thinkers, sounding almost Chomsky-esque when he delivered a multipletweet denunciation – taken from a speech he delivered at Colby College – of how establishment journalists cling to mandated orthodoxies out of fear, arguing:

It is difficult to recognize the limits a society places on accepted thought at the time it is doing it. When everyone accepts basic assumptions, there don’t seem to be constraints on ideas. That truth often only reveals itself in hindsight. Today, the basic prerequisite to being taken seriously in American politics is to accept the legitimacy of the new national security state. The new basic American assumption is that there really is a need for a global war on terror. Anyone who doesn’t accept that basic assumption is considered dangerous and maybe even a traitor. The crackdown on leaks by the Obama administration has been designed to suppress the truth about the war on terror. Stay on the interstate highway of conventional wisdom with your journalism, and you will have no problems. Try to get off and challenge basic assumptions, and you will face punishment.

I spent roughly 30 minutes talking to Risen about the book, what he’s endured in his legal case, attacks on press freedoms, and what is and is not new about the War on Terror’s corporate profiteering. The discussion can be heard on the player below, and a transcript is provided. As Risen put it: “I wrote ‘Pay Any Price’ as my answer to the government’s campaign against me.” . . .

Continue reading for the interview and transcript.

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2014 at 4:36 pm

Interesting development: The United Nations Just Came Out Strong Against Mass Surveillance

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Here’s the report in Motherboard.

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2014 at 3:48 pm

Posted in Government, NSA

More signs that Congress is owned by corporations

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Igor Volsky has a post at ThinkProgress titled “Congress Poised To Eliminate Key Tax Breaks For Middle Class, Provide Permanent Tax Breaks For Corporations.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has reached a compromise with House Republicans on a package of tax breaks that would permanently extend relief for big multinational corporations without providing breaks for middle or lower-income families, individuals with knowledge of the deal tell ThinkProgress.

Under the terms of the $444 billion agreement, lawmakers would phase out all tax breaks for clean energy and wind energy but would maintain fossil fuel subsidies. Expanded eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit would also end in 2017, even though the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that allowing the provisions to expire would push “16 million people in low-income working families, including 8 million children into — or deeper into — poverty.” The proposal would help students pay for college by making permanent the American Permanent Opportunity Tax Credit, a Democratic priority.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of the package would make permanent tax provisions that are intended to help businesses, including a research and development credit, small business expensing, and a reduction in the S-Corp recognition period for built-in gains tax.

The costs of the package will not be offset.

“This Congress seems willing to give huge tax cuts to big businesses—who are already doing better than ever—but somehow can’t prevent tax increases on 50 million working Americans that will occur when expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit expire,” Harry Stein, the Associate Director for Fiscal Policy at American Progress Action Fund, told ThinkProgress. “This is a great deal for CEOs and a terrible deal for struggling families.”

On Monday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew also blasted the emerging agreement as “fiscally irresponsible” and doing “very little for working families.” He said, “Any deal on tax extenders must ensure that the economic benefits are broadly shared. We are committed to working with Congress to address the issue in a manner that is fiscally responsible and extends critical tax benefits for working families.”

In April, the Senate Finance Committee extended most of the 56 expiring tax provisions through 2015, while the House voted to make permanent breaks that primarily benefit businesses.

Congress is expected to vote on the package next week.

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2014 at 1:03 pm

USA Today editorial against civil asset forfeiture

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The only group in favor of civil asset forfeiture seems to be the police and prosecutors, who live the free money. Here’s the editorial.

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2014 at 11:56 am

Posted in Law, Law Enforcement

Dried scotch looks pretty

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Who knew?

Dried whisky

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2014 at 11:26 am

Posted in Drinks, Science

BBS with ATT

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SOTD 25 Nov 2014

A very nice shave indeed—D.R. Harris is a great shaving soap, and the Arlington shown is quite nice. As shown in the photo, the soap (unlike Martin de Candre, for example) does not come up to the very brim of the bowl: there’s a 1/4″ space above the soap, with the total height of the bowl at 1 1/4″. So there is a bit of a rim for loading the brush. I note again that I now seem to automatically give the dripping-wet brush a shake before starting the loading, and there is no spillage or excess water.

Morris & Forndran brushes are very nice indeed, and this one loaded readily. I did add a good driblet of water in the process of working the lather up on my beard, and the lather was excellent.

Three passes with the Above the Tie razor, using the R1 baseplate and a Personna Lab Blue blade, and the result was BBS with one tiny nick under the chin that did not require a styptic.

A good splash of Arlington aftershave and we move closer to the holiday.

Written by Leisureguy

25 November 2014 at 9:32 am

Posted in Shaving

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