Later On

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Archive for October 14th, 2015

How our culture requires women to talk in meetings

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Alexandra Petri reports in the Washington Post:

“A few weeks ago at work,” Jennifer Lawrence wrote in an essay for Lenny (yup, I guess I’m subscribed to Lenny now! Well played, Lena Dunham). “I spoke my mind and gave my opinion in a clear and no-[BS] way; no aggression, just blunt. The man I was working with (actually, he was working for me) said, ‘Whoa! We’re all on the same team here!’ As if I was yelling at him. I was so shocked because nothing that I said was personal, offensive, or, to be honest, wrong. All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner, and you would have thought I had said something offensive.”

Nailed it.

“Woman in a Meeting” is a language of its own.

It should not be, but it is. You will think that you have stated the case simply and effectively, and everyone else will wonder why you were so Terrifyingly Angry. Instead, you have to translate. You start with your thought, then you figure out how to say it as though you were offering a groveling apology for an unspecified error. (In fact, as Sloane Crosley pointed out in an essay earlier this year, the time you are most likely to say “I’m sorry” is the time when you feel that you, personally, have just been grievously wronged. Not vice versa.)

To illustrate this difficulty, I have taken the liberty of translating some famous sentences into the phrases a woman would have to use to say them during a meeting not to be perceived as angry, threatening or (gasp!) bitchy.

“Give me liberty, or give me death.”
Woman in a Meeting: “Dave, if I could, I could just — I just really feel like if we had liberty it would be terrific, and the alternative would just be awful, you know? That’s just how it strikes me. I don’t know.”

“I have a dream today!”
Woman in a Meeting: “I’m sorry, I just had this idea — it’s probably crazy, but — look, just as long as we’re throwing things out here — I had sort of an idea or vision about maybe the future?”

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
Woman in a Meeting: “I’m sorry, Mikhail, if I could? Didn’t mean to cut you off there. Can we agree that this wall maybe isn’t quite doing what it should be doing? Just looking at everything everyone’s been saying, it seems like we could consider removing it. Possibly. I don’t know, what does the room feel?”

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Woman in a Meeting: “I have to say — I’m sorry — I have to say this. I don’t think we should be as scared of non-fear things as maybe we are? If that makes sense? Sorry, I feel like I’m rambling.”

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2015 at 8:23 pm

Posted in Daily life, Memes

Ben Carson is incredibly ignorant

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In the NY Times Alan Steinweis has a strongly worded and carefully considered rebuke to Ben Carson for his claim, which is included in his book, that gun control was a key factor in the Nazi takeover of Germany. Read the whole Steinweis column to see how foolish and uninformed Ben Carson is.

From the column:

. . .  Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in January 1933, but it was only in March 1938 that the Third Reich promulgated its Waffengesetz, or weapons law, which required police permission for ownership of a handgun. Other firearms were left unregulated. If, as Mr. Carson maintains, the Nazi regime made it a priority to disarm the German population, then why did it wait more than five years to issue such a law, and why did it limit licensure to handguns? Mr. Carson also fails to mention that the democratic Weimar Republic, which had preceded the Nazi regime, had passed its own gun law, which in some respects had been more restrictive than the later Nazi version.

On Nov. 11, 1938, on the basis of the weapons law, the regime issued an order prohibiting Jews from owning weapons of any kind, including swords, which many Jewish army veterans had kept as mementos from World War I. This order was issued just one day after the Kristallnacht pogrom, during which Nazi mobs attacked Jews and destroyed synagogues.

The newly imposed ban on Jewish ownership of weapons must be understood as an element of the propaganda campaign launched by the Nazi regime in the wake of the pogrom. As a pretext for the Kristallnacht, the Nazis had seized upon the assassination of a low-ranking German diplomat by the Jewish teenager Herschel Grynszpan in Paris on Nov. 7. Then, in order to justify the orgy of anti-Jewish violence retroactively, the regime tried to depict German Jews as posing a physical danger to the German population as a whole.

The Jews of Germany constituted less than 1 percent of the country’s population. It is preposterous to argue that the possession of firearms would have enabled them to mount resistance against a systematic program of persecution implemented by a modern bureaucracy, enforced by a well-armed police state, and either supported or tolerated by the majority of the German population. Mr. Carson’s suggestion that ordinary Germans, had they had guns, would have risked their lives in armed resistance against the regime simply does not comport with the regrettable historical reality of a regime that was quite popular at home. Inside Germany, only the army possessed the physical force necessary for defying or overthrowing the Nazis, but the generals had thrown in their lot with Hitler early on.

The failure of Jews to mount an effective defense against the Waffen-SS in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943 provides a good example of what happens when ordinary citizens with small arms go up against a well-equipped force. The uprising in the ghetto possesses enduring symbolic significance, as an instance of Jews’ determination to resist their oppression. But the uprising saved few Jewish lives and had little to no impact on the course of either World War II or the Holocaust. Jews around the world did, to be sure, react to the Holocaust by concluding that they needed to protect themselves from anti-Semites more effectively. But they understood that this would be accomplished not through the individual acquisition of firearms, but rather through the establishment of a Jewish state with an army to defend it. . .

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2015 at 8:07 pm

Posted in Election, GOP, Government, Guns, Law

Very interesting start to a discussion about Al Gore, Generation Investment Management, and the James Fallows article

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Read it here. This will clearly be a lengthy discussion. It does seem as though Felix Salmon is complaining that Fallows’s article is not the article Salmon would have written. Duh. That’s true of anyone. Now discuss the article at hand (which he does).

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2015 at 6:22 pm

Posted in Business, Media, Writing

Wow! Vatican politics in the open—and confirmed by the Vatican

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From this report by Eisabetta Polvoledo in the NY Times:

. . . Asked about the pope’s public apology on Wednesday, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said the pope had pointedly not identified any one scandal, adding that if he had wanted to, he could have.

Indeed, some Vatican watchers interpreted the pope’s apology as a pointed reference to yet another scandal, more central to the synod itself.

This week, an Italian blog published what it said was a private letter written to the pope before the gathering of some 300 prelates had even begun.

In it, a group of 13 conservative cardinals expressed their concern that the outcome of the synod would be a foregone conclusion, and not the result of open debate.

After the letter was published on Monday, several of the cardinals cited as signatories denied any involvement, while other cardinals said they had signed a letter with a markedly different content, adding to the intrigue.

The letter not only highlighted the liberal and conservative divisions within the Vatican, but also prompted a frenzy of behind-the-scenes speculation in the news media that the pope’s authority was being challenged, or even subverted.

Some said it evoked the so-called VatiLeaks scandal in 2012 — when letters leaked by Pope Benedict XVI’s butler revealed internal clashes and allegations of corruption and cronyism at the Vatican. Benedict eventually become the first pope in 600 years to resign.

On Tuesday, the Vatican confirmed that the letter was authentic, but called it a “disruption that was not intended by the signatories (at least by the most authoritative),” and said that it would be “inappropriate to allow it to have any influence.”

Francis opened the synod 10 days ago by urging participants to speak freely and without reservation. . .

More at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2015 at 6:15 pm

Posted in Politics, Religion

The US today: You must prove your innocence

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Radley Balko reports in the Washington Post:

Over at Vox, German Lopez has the details on the latest outrageous case of civil asset forfeiture.

Charles Clarke entered the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport last February eager to go back to his mother after a months-long visit with relatives. But instead of a quick, easy trip home to Orlando, Clarke lost his life savings — $11,000 in cash — to law enforcement officials who never even proved he committed a crime.

Clarke, a 24-year-old college student, said losing that $11,000 was “devastating.” He’s been forced to live with his mom, trumping his plans to move closer to school. He’s fallen back on other family for financial support. And he had to take out loans for school instead of paying for it up front — for which he’s still in debt. “It’s been a struggle for me,” Clarke, who’s now fighting in court to get his money back, said.

That’s an uphill battle that could take months. Clarke will also have to demonstrate that he earned the money legitimately —he’ll basically need to prove his innocence. And in Clarke’s case, like many others, the cost of winning back his money may be more than the amount of money that was taken from him. Most people like Clarke can’t find anyone to take their case. Not surprisingly, attorneys aren’t exactly jumping at the chance to represent people whose life savings has been confiscated by the government. If they lose, the attorney doesn’t get paid. And the other side is well-funded. In Clarke’s case, the Institute for Justice estimates that 13 different police agencies are fighting for a cut of what he says are his savings.

So what did Clarke do to lose his money? His bag smelled like pot. That’s it. There was no pot actually in his bag. It just smelled that way, to police and to a drug dog. He did admit to smoking some pot before he arrived at the airport. But that at worst is a misdemeanor. And of course in several states it’s perfectly legal.

Lopez points out that, since 2008, the number of seizures at the Cincinnati airport in which local police operate through the federal government (known as equitable sharing) has increased nine-fold. That’s what happens when police agencies are promised a cut of whatever cash they seize. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2015 at 4:34 pm

Cute: Media edits out Sanders’s criticisms of the media

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The media turn out to have very thin skins, unable to report any criticism of them. Read Lee Fang’s article at The Intercept, which includes the edited videos reported by media and the unedited original.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2015 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Media

Corporate America’s Campaign to Ditch Workers’ Comp

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A modern corporation focuses intensely on doing whatever it can to increase profit, and since $1 cut from costs means $1 more in profit (unlike $1 increase in revenue, which contributes much less to profit due to the need to deduct materials costs, production costs, marketing costs, and overhead from the $1), corporations are intensely focused on cutting costs. One way to do this is to “externalize” the costs: have the costs paid by someone other than the corporation. For example, many corporations have the pubic at large pay for the clean-up of their toxic sites: the government pays the cost, which means you and I pay the cost.

Corporations now are working to avoid the costs associated with worker’s compensation, as described by Michael Grabell of ProPublica and Howard Berkes of NPR:

STANDING BEFORE A GIANT MAP in his Dallas office, Bill Minick doesn’t seem like anyone’s idea of a bomb thrower. But backed by some of the biggest names in corporate America, this mild-mannered son of an evangelist is plotting a revolution in how companies take care of injured workers.

His idea: Let them opt out of state workers’ compensation laws — and write their own rules.

Minick swept his hand past pushpins marking the headquarters of Walmart, McDonald’s and dozens of his other well-known clients, and hailed his plan as not only cheaper for employers, but better for workers too.

“We’re talking about reengineering one of the pillars of social justice that has not seen significant innovation in 100 years,” Minick said.

Minick’s quest sounds implausible, but he’s already scored significant victories.

Many of the nation’s biggest retail, trucking, health care and food companies have already opted out in Texas, where Minick pioneered the concept as a young lawyer. Oklahoma recently passed a law co-written by Minick allowing companies to opt out there. Tennessee and South Carolinaare seriously considering similar measures. And with acoalitionled by executives from Walmart, Nordstrom and Lowe’s, Minick has launched a campaign to get laws passed in as many as a dozen states within the next decade.

But as Minick’s opt-out movement marches across the country, there has been little scrutiny of what it means for workers.

ProPublica and NPR obtained the injury benefit plans of nearly 120 companies who have opted out in Texas or Oklahoma — many of them written by Minick’s firm — to conduct the first independent analysis of how these plans compare to state workers’ comp.

The investigation found the plans almost universally have lower benefits, more restrictions and virtually no independent oversight.

Already in Texas, plans written by Minick’s firm allow for a hodgepodge of provisions that are far different from workers’ comp. They’re whyMcDonald’s doesn’t cover carpal tunnel syndrome and why Brookdale Senior Living, the nation’s largest chain of assisted living facilities, doesn’t cover most bacterial infections. Why Taco Bell can accompany injured workers to doctors’ appointments and Sears can deny benefits if workers don’t report injuries by the end of their shifts.

And it’s Minick’s handiwork that allows Costco to pay only $15,000 to workers who lose a finger while its rival Walmart pays $25,000.

Unlike traditional workers’ comp, which guarantees lifetime medical care, the Texas plans cut off treatment after about two years. They don’t pay compensation for most permanent disabilities and strictly limit payouts for deaths and catastrophic injuries.

The list of what the plans don’t cover runs for pages. They typically won’t pay for wheelchair vans, exposure to asbestos, silica dust or mold, assaults unless the employee is defending “an employer’s business or property,” chiropractors or any more than 75 home health care visits. Costco won’t cover external hearing aids costing more than $600. The cheapest external hearing aid Costco sells? $900.

The plans in both Texas and Oklahoma give employers almost complete control over the medical and legal process after workers get injured. Employers pick the doctors and can have workers examined — and reexamined — as often as they want. And they can settle claims at any time. Workers must accept whatever is offered or lose all benefits. If they wish to appeal, they can — to a committee set up by their employers.

In many cases, ProPublica and NPR found, the medical director charged with picking doctors and ultimately reviewing whether injuries are work-related is Minick’s wife, Dr. Melissa Tonn, an occupational medicine specialist who often serves as an expert for employers and insurance companies.

Workers’ comp was founded on the premise that employers owed a duty to injured workers and their families. And laws in every state require them to pay workers’ medical bills and some of their lost wages until they recover — or for life if they can’t.

Earlier this year, a ProPublica and NPR investigation detailed how states have chipped away at these guarantees. . .

Continue reading. It gets worse.

The government is supposed to protect the public, not assist corporations in undermining the general welfare.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2015 at 11:03 am

A Twisted Path to Equation-Free Prediction

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Gabriel Popkin has a fascinating article in Quanta:

Sometimes ecological data just don’t make sense. The sockeye salmon that spawn in British Columbia’s Fraser River offer a prime example. Scientists have tracked the fishery there since 1948, through numerous upswings and downswings. At first, population numbers seemed inversely correlated with ocean temperatures: The northern Pacific Ocean surface warms and then cools again every few decades, and in the early years of tracking, fish numbers seemed to rise when sea surface temperature fell. To biologists this seemed reasonable, since salmon thrive in cold waters. Represented as an equation, the population-temperature relationship also gave fishery managers a basis for setting catch limits so the salmon population did not crash.

But in the mid-1970s something strange happened: Ocean temperatures and fish numbers went out of sync. The tight correlation that scientists thought they had found between the two variables now seemed illusory, and the salmon population appeared to fluctuate randomly.

Trying to manage a major fishery with such a primitive understanding of its biology seems like folly to George Sugihara, an ecologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. But he and his colleagues now think they have solved the mystery of the Fraser River salmon. Their crucial insight? Throw out the equations.

Sugihara’s team has developed an approach based on chaos theory that they call “empirical dynamic modeling,” which makes no assumptions about salmon biology and uses only raw data as input. In designing it, the scientists found that sea surface temperature can in fact help predict population fluctuations, even though the two are not correlated in a simple way. Empirical dynamic modeling, Sugihara said, can reveal hidden causal relationships that lurk in the complex systems that abound in nature.

Sugihara and his colleagues are now putting their insight to use. Earlier this year they reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that their method predicted the 2014 Fraser River salmon run more precisely than any other method. Sugihara’s technique predicted a run of between 4.5 million and 9.1 million fish, while the Pacific Salmon Commission’s models predicted anywhere from 6.9 million to 20 million fish — a forecast so broad as to be of little benefit to, for instance, a fisher wanting to know how many boats to deploy in the coming season. The final count was around 8.8 million.

This success built on an earlier result Sugihara and his colleagues had achieved with Pacific sardines, and they’re working with scientists at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to apply the methods to Gulf and Atlantic menhaden. Leading ecologists hope Sugihara’s methods can provide the field with some much-needed predictive power, and not just for marine fisheries but for many other ecosystems. Don DeAngelis, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Miami, calls it “a huge theoretical breakthrough.”

Sugihara and others are now starting to apply his methods not just in ecology but in finance, neuroscience and even genetics. These fields all involve complex, constantly changing phenomena that are difficult or impossible to predict using the equation-based models that have dominated science for the past 300 years. For such systems, DeAngelis said, empirical dynamic modeling “may very well be the future.”

A New Set of Coordinates

The roots of empirical dynamic modeling go back more than 30 years. In the late 1970s, the Dutch mathematician Floris Takens was studying chaos theory, which had begun to emerge in the 1960s as scientists recognized that many of nature’s complex phenomena seem to defy prediction. In chaotic systems, small perturbations can have large and seemingly unpredictable effects, as in the archetypical example of a butterfly’s flapping wings influencing the weather thousands of miles away.

Takens helped find order in the chaos. Along with the physicist David Ruelle, he developed the notion of a “strange attractor” — a set of points in a coordinate system made of the variables that influence a system, around which the system’s state, plotted over time, swirls like a ball of yarn.

In many natural systems, however, the number of relevant variables that make up the coordinate system is immense. The factors that determine the weather in a certain place at a certain time are almost limitless, and some of these can be very hard to measure — the air pressure three miles above the North Pole, for example.

But let’s say you could consistently and accurately measure one variable, such as the temperature in New York City. Takens found a way to use present and past measurements of that one variable to capture all the information in the system. The method involves creating an alternate coordinate system from those past measurements; in other words, one coordinate axis might be the temperature in Times Square today, a second axis might be the temperature yesterday, a third the temperature two days ago, and so on. Takens showed that the full state of a chaotic system can, in theory at least, be embedded in a time series of a single variable. He published his “embedding theorem” in 1981.

The theorem “caused a big hullabaloo,” said Timothy Sauer, a mathematician at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., who has extended the original theorem so it can be applied more generally.

The next step was . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2015 at 10:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Math, Science

Eric Holder’s contribution: Talk of Criminally Prosecuting Corporations Up, Actual Prosecutions Down

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David Dayen reports in The Intercept:

A new analysis of federal data from Syracuse University finds that the Justice Department’s criminal prosecutions of corporations fell 29 percent from 2004 to 2014, even as criminal referrals to the Justice Department from other federal agencies have risen.

In fiscal year 2014, the Justice Department brought 237 cases against corporations, the lowest number since 2010, and well below the high-water mark of the decade: 398 cases in 2005. The number of convictions fell to 162, well below the Bush administration average of about 240.

The data comes from the Justice Department itself, obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) through a Freedom of Information Act request. TRAC also synthesizes data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a division of the federal courts, to arrive at its totals.

[Article at the link has a chart: Corporate Prosecutions Filed, FY 2004 — 2014 , U.S. DOJ via TRAC – LG]

TRAC’s report on criminal prosecutions mirrors the data released in August on enforcement of individual white-collar cases. That showed prosecutions at a 20-year low, down 36.8 percent from the peak.

It’s not for lack of possible cases. Despite the pullback in prosecutions, available data shows that federal agencies continue to find similar amounts of potential corporate misconduct. TRAC’s analysis shows that criminal referrals actually increased by 2.6 percent between fiscal years 2004 and 2014. The Justice Department last year received over nine times as many criminal referrals as they brought criminal cases.

There are also far more corporations today. TRAC’s numbers, based on the most recent IRS data from 2002 and 2012, show a 24 percent increase in total corporations and partnerships. Criminal prosecutions of both employees and the businesses themselves fell, despite the expansion.

The numbers say little about the seriousness of the cases referred or brought. But they do identify a trend of less stringent enforcement.

Just a month ago, the Justice Department, seeking to rehabilitate its image as a diligent enforcer of the law, announced new guidelines for corporate prosecutions, with a focus on individual accountability. But the guideline only pertained to new cases, meaning it could take years to reverse the shrinking trend in the TRAC data.

As it happens, TRAC blames another memo, written by Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip in 2008, for the reduction in prosecution rates. The Filip memo warned prosecutors to “take into account the possible substantial consequences to a corporation’s employees, investors, pensioners and customers” when filing a case.

That preoccupation with collateral consequences has roots in a memo from former Attorney General Eric Holder, back when he was a Justice Department official in 1999.

By highlighting the threat to corporate employees and other possible consequences, the political leadership at the Justice Department gave prosecutors a convenient excuse to neglect to pursue criminal cases, using a standard that no bank robber or drug kingpin ever has the privilege of receiving.

In the five years before the Filip memo, DOJ filed 1,677 cases against corporate criminals. In the five years after, they filed 1,309 cases, a 21.9 percent drop. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2015 at 10:19 am

What Hillary Clinton got wrong about the big banks

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Hillary Clinton is a Wall Street Democrat seemingly more interested in protecting big banks and Wall Street than the public. Pam Martens and Russ Martens report:

In the minds of millions of viewers, Hillary Clinton came across in last night’s Democratic debate on CNN as polished, articulate and knowledgeable about the issues. But for those of us who understand that the greatest threat to America is not some foreign power but home-grown financial terrorists wielding trillions of dollars in high-risk derivatives in taxpayer-insured banks on Wall Street, she is the same old problem, not the solution.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, on the other hand, who calls himself a Democratic Socialist, was in Congress leading the fight to stop the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 and is still leading the charge to restore it before the next financial crash destroys what’s left of the U.S. economy. (The Glass-Steagall Act prohibits insured banks from being affiliated with high risk investment banks or stock brokerage firms.)

It was during the exchange between Sanders and Clinton on the Glass-Steagall Act that the defining difference between the two emerged: Clinton admits to listening to “experts” who told her that the real danger is not the mega banks but “shadow banking.” She said her plan “is more comprehensive” than Sanders and that it would “empower regulators to break up big banks if we thought they posed a risk.”

The above quote from Clinton is fatal to her candidacy. The “experts” she’s listening to apparently don’t know that regulators have had the ability to break up the big banks since the Dodd-Frank reform legislation was passed in 2010. The regulators just don’t have the guts to take on the Wall Street lobby and their sycophants in Congress. Senator Elizabeth Warren has lectured the Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen, in Senate hearings on using that authority instead of allowing Wall Street mega banks to flunk their stress tests and simply come back the next year and try to get a passing grade.

It’s also fatal to Clinton’s candidacy that she’s bought into the idea that shadow banking is the threat and not the Wall Street banks with $1 to $2 trillion in assets. Yes, their shadow banking customers may get into trouble and threaten their balance sheets, or their shadow banking counterparties may get into trouble and threaten their balance sheets, but it’s the mega Wall Street investment banks with insured deposits backed by the taxpayers that ultimately pose the real threat to the stability of the financial system, the U.S. economy, and the already crushing national debt that exploded to resuscitate the economy the last time Wall Street cratered it in 2008 and 2009.

There is also an embarrassing naiveté to Hillary Clinton’s grasp of what it takes to effectively rein in Wall Street. Here’s how she explained on the debate stage what she’s done in the past to tackle Wall Street:

“You know, I — I respect the passion and intensity. I represented Wall Street, as a senator from New York, and I went to Wall Street in December of 2007 — before the big crash that we had — and I basically said, ‘cut it out! Quit foreclosing on homes. Quit engaging in these kinds of speculative behaviors.’”

Anyone who thinks that wagging a finger at Wall Street and telling them to “cut it out” is going to get the job done has just not been paying attention. Just this past May, only seven years after collapsing the U.S. financial system from the weight of their own corruption, two U.S. based Wall Street banks, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, were charged with criminal felonies for rigging foreign currency markets and admitted to the charge. More collusive activity by Wall Street mega banks remains under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

Hillary’s experts are clearly not the experts at the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Financial Research (OFR) – the office that advises the top U.S. regulators that sit on the Financial Stability Oversight Council. Just this past February, OFR released a report which found the following: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2015 at 10:15 am

What Hillary Clinton Got Wrong About Edward Snowden

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Jason Koebler in Motherboard and Glenn Greenwald in The Intercept have quite valid criticisms of Hillary Clinton’s unwarranted statements about Edward Snowden, and the fact that Hillary made such a statement is an example of why I cannot trust her or warm up to her. Koebler writes:

Hillary Clinton made her stance on Edward Snowden perfectly clear at Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate. In her mind, Snowden is a person who called attention to important issues, but went about it in an improper way. She said he should have been a whistleblower, and that by stealing and leaking data, he put Americans at risk. She’s wrong.

Clinton said that Snowden “stole very important information that has unfortunately fallen into a lot of the wrong hands.”

Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept has a nice writeup asking what, exactly, Clinton meant with that comment: There’s been no evidence that Snowden’s document stash has ended up with the Russians or Chinese, and there’s been no evidence whatsoever that any of his leaks have had a negative impact on national security or have led to the deaths of any Americans.

But perhaps more importantly, Clinton made the assertion that Snowden could have had just as much of an impact on the surveillance debate had he raised his issues with the NSA through the proper whistleblowing channels.

“He broke the laws of the United States. He could have been a whistleblower. He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistleblower,” Clinton said. “He could have raised all the issues that he has raised. And I think there would have been a positive response to that.”

This answer is naive at best, but more likely it’s a calculated way for her to dodge the issue of what should happen to him. Either way, her assertion is patently false. (For the record, Lincoln Chafee is the only candidate who said Snowden should not be prosecuted; Bernie Sanders suggested Snowden should be prosecuted but that the beneficial information he leaked should be considered in his sentencing.)

First of all, Edward Snowden testified to European Parliament last year that he made 10 complaints within the NSA before deciding to go rogue. As a private contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton, he also wouldn’t have been by the laws that protect government whistleblowers.

“I had reported these clearly problematic programs to more than ten distinct officials, none of whom took any action to address them,” Snowden testified. “As an employee of a private company rather than a direct employee of the US government, I was not protected by US whistleblower laws, and I would not have been protected from retaliation and legal sanction for revealing classified information about lawbreaking in accordance with the recommended process.” . . .

Continue reading. Clinton either knows that and is cynically ignoring it or she does not know it and is terribly uninformed.

Greenwald writes:

Hillary Clinton asserted at Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “stole very important information that has unfortunately fallen into a lot of the wrong hands.”

She seemed to be darkly intimating that the information Snowden gave to journalists in Hong Kong before he was granted asylum in Moscow also ended up with the Chinese and/or Russian governments.

But that conclusion is entirely unsupported by the evidence; it’s a political smear that even the most alarmist Obama administration intelligence officials have not asserted as fact.

As Snowden has repeatedly explained, after turning over copies of the heavily encrypted files to reporters, he destroyed his own before he left Hong Kong.

He did not take the files to Russia “because it wouldn’t serve the public interest,” he told the New York Times in 2013. “There’s a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents,” he said.

The Rupert Murdoch-owned Sunday Times newspaper ran a front-page story in June asserting that Russia and China had “cracked the top-secret cache of files” that the paper, citing anonymous sources, claimed Snowden had brought with him to Moscow. But the story was thoroughly debunked and a video clip of the reporter acknowledging that “we just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government” went viral.

Apparently, Clinton was engaging in similarly hyperbolic, unsupported scare tactics – that is, unless by “the wrong hands” she meant ours: Journalists and the public.

Snowden’s attorney, ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner, was one of many who suggested as much on Twitter on Tuesday night:

Government transparency advocate Daniel Schuman reached the same conclusion:

Or did she mean us?

Snowden turned over his cache of documents to Intercept founding editors Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, and the result has been the exposure – to the public – of the extraordinarily expansive and invasive surveillance apparatus that the U.S. government had secretly built over the years.

In the U.S., laws have already been changed – if only a little. Europeans are balking at sending their data to U.S. servers. And surveillance and privacy are now major issues in the presidential campaign. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2015 at 10:07 am

Wolfman dual-guard (comb and bar)

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SOTD 14 Oct 2015

Very smooth shave today. I photographed both Mühle travel brushes—the one I used yesterday and the nickel-plated brass one that I like less, and as you can see, it is substantially larger. It does, however, have a very nice synthetic knot, and it made a fine lather from the Razor Emporium shave stick.

Three passes with the Wolfman dual-guard razor. It felt a little more aggressive than the bar-guard version, and in fact I did get a small cut on the upper lip—but I also got a BBS result. I used my alum block as the styptic—something I only recently learned: wet the block, press it against the cut, and hold it in place for 30-45 seconds. It seems to do an even better job than My Nik Is Sealed.

A good splash of Barrister & Mann’s Fougère Classique and the shave is finished in fine style. The small bottle is excellent for travel, and its contents are an excellent aftershave.

Written by Leisureguy

14 October 2015 at 9:53 am

Posted in Shaving

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