31 May 2016

Even With a Slam Dunk, the Guantanamo Courts Collude with Prosecutors

You would have to figure that if there were one case where the prosecutors at Guantanamo would have a conviction in the bag, it would be the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Well, it turns out that the prosecutors and the judge colluded to destroy evidence:
The judge overseeing the premiere military tribunal at Guantánamo Bay effectively conspired with the prosecution to destroy evidence relevant to defending the accused architect of the 9/11 attacks, according to a scathing court document.

Army Col James Pohl, who this week at Guantánamo is presiding over a resumption of pretrial hearings in the already troubled case, “in concert with the prosecution, manipulated secret proceedings and the use of secret orders”, the document alleges, preventing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s defense team from learning Pohl had permitted the Obama administration to destroy the evidence.
Worst Constitutional Law Professor, Ever!
………

The accusation comes in a 10 May defense filing that the military commissions have recently unsealed. It contains significant detail about an episode that Mohammed’s attorneys say has permanently tainted the most high-profile test of the US’s post-9/11 turn toward military justice for terrorism cases.

………

Mohammed’s attorneys argue that the secret maneuvering left them unable to challenge the destruction of evidence. They contend that the case ought to be scrapped entirely. Their brief quotes a famous 1932 supreme court case, Powell v Alabama, to argue that failing to provide the defense access to evidence “would be little short of judicial murder”.

“Whatever legitimate national security interests might purportedly justify the near-Star Chamber proceedings that have riven this case, there can be no articulable excuse for so clearly misleading Mr. Mohammed’s counsel and preventing them from seeking remedies to prevent the destruction of crucial evidence,” they continued.

………

But on 19 December 2013, Pohl ordered the US to “ensure the preservation of any overseas detention facilities still within the control of the United States” – a reference to the secret “black site” prisons where the CIA and its allies tortured Mohammed and his co-defendants.

According to the defense filing, six months after Pohl issued an evidence-preservation order at the defense’s behest and over the prosecution’s objections, the judge “authorized the government to destroy the evidence in question”. Pohl’s reversal of course was “the result of secret communications between the government and Judge Pohl, which he conducted without the knowledge of defense counsel”, the motion asserts.

That order, issued exclusively to the prosecution, carried with it a direction to provide the defense with a “redacted version”. But Pohl “did not actually instruct the prosecution to proffer any proposed redactions of the order until 18 months after granting the government permission to destroy the evidence, and over a year after it was apparently actually destroyed”, the defense team claims.

“[B]elatedly,” Mohammed’s attorneys say, the commission gave them a version of Pohl’s destruction order “by attaching it to another secret order,” and concluding, “without benefit of ever having examined the actual evidence, that the government’s proffer or a summary of a substitute for the original (now destroyed) evidence provided the defense with an adequate alternative to access to the evidence in question.”

Destroying the evidence in secret while permitting the defense to believe it had been preserved has “substantially gutted” the credibility of the military commission and “irreparably harmed” Mohammed’s ability to defend himself in a death-penalty case, the lawyers say. The episode “call[s] into question Judge Pohl’s impartiality”.

………

Karen Greenberg, the director of Fordham University Law School’s Center on National Security, said the allegation of collusion to destroy evidence could prove to be a tipping point for the military tribunals more broadly.

“This may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in underscoring the unviability of the military commissions,” Greenberg said.

“Remember, a main reason they couldn’t have this [trial] in federal court was that it would have been such a circus. And now you have a full-blown circus, with judicial and every other kind of misstepping.”
Gee, you think?

This has been a complete clusterf%$#, and it has been since it's begun.

They wanted to create a system that would allow for no possibility of acquittal, and they wanted to be able to claim that it was fair.

They got neither.

BTW, Colonel Pohl should be removed from the case, and probably fired from the military, and if he has a civilian law license, he should be disbarred.

This makes a mockery to the very idea of justice and due process.

Yes, I Know that it's Boris Johnson………

But when he says that, "The only continent with weaker economic growth than Europe is Antarctica," he's right.

Unfortunately, the Germans run the EU, and they are dead set on repeating the mistakes of the Reichsbank during the great depression, where mindless monetary tightening made the impact of the Depression unusually brutal, and led to the rise of the Nazis.

Now we have an EU dominated by the Germans and by their fetish for austerity continues, and the rise of the right wing throughout Europe.

If I were in Britain, I would vote to leave for two reasons:
  • It would cripple the UK's financial industry, which is a good thing.
  • It would show the rest of the EU that there are alternatives to German hegemony.

Snark of the Day

Peter Thiel Does the Impossible!

Nobody’s ever sympathized with Gawker before.
Jack Shafer
Too True.

30 May 2016

The Worst Democrat in Congress Just Did a Good Thing

Dan Lipinsky is by most measures the worst Democrat in Congress, a light weight who inherited the seat from his father, and has used it to oppose abortion, support anti-gay bigots, oppose healthcare reform, and sh%$ting on immigrants.

He is a complete clusterf%$# as a Democrat, and this is the party that not long ago had Steve Israel heading the DCCC.

That being said, his declaration that, in the event of a contested convention, he will vote for Bernie Sanders because that is how is district voted, is a righteous move:
If there’s a contested Democratic convention this summer, Illinois Congressman Dan Lipinski says he’ll be voting for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Lipinski, who’ll be a superdelegate at the convention, says he’d support Sanders because the Vermont senator beat Hillary Clinton in Lipinski’s district.

“As a Democratic member of Congress, I have a vote at the Democratic National Convention as a superdelegate. Before the Illinois primary I told Democrats in the 3rd District that I decided that I would pledge my vote to whichever candidate won the district,” Lipinski said Tuesday in a statement. “When the votes were counted, Sen. Bernie Sanders received 54 percent and Secretary Hillary Clinton received 45 percent in my district. Therefore, if there is a contested vote at the Democratic National Convention in July, I will vote for Sen. Sanders.”
Props, but I will still support whoever runs against him in the primary.

What is Wrong with the Clinton Wing of the Democratic Party Succinctly Stated

I am not at all surprised that it is a Brit who notes that aggressive identity politics has pushed economic justice out of the political spotlight.

I would argue that some political factions, most notably the Clinton political machine, have done so deliberately, because it allows them to check the "right" boxes while still aligning themselves with what Theodore Roosevelt called the "Malefactors of Wealth".

People like Wal-Mart (Hillary was a member of its board for years) and Goldman Sachs (Hillary's speeches, and they funded her son-in-law's hedge fund) are Hillary's peeps, because they all agree that focusing on identity politics, as opposed to the the increasingly ferocious war on the average American worker or the financialization of our economy, is a good thing:
The rise of identity politics means that the personal is commonly understood to be political. Being a radical today relates as much to who you are as to what you think. Class struggle, at one time the raison d’être of the socialist movement, has been usurped on the left by the personal grievances of women, gays and ethnic minorities.

Identity politics was an understandable response to some of the injustices of the twentieth century. Despite the loftiness of much left-wing rhetoric, sexism, racism and homophobia have never successfully been eliminated from socialist politics for the simple reason that these movements reflect the societies in which they were conceived. It was often made apparent to women in particular that the priorities for leftists lay strictly within the class framework.

It would be wrong to imply that today this dynamic has been turned on its head. One can still find sexism, racism and homophobia on the left as easily as one can find it in wider society. In an article for Slate about the US Democratic primaries, Michelle Goldberg wrote in late 2015 about a cultural phenomenon of so-called 'Bernie Bros' – male supporters of US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders who 'seem to believe that their class politics exempt them from taking sexism seriously'.

………

Ultimately, though, the left should seek to move beyond identity politics for the simple reason that it is compatible with neo-liberal economics. Identity politics can co-exist with the corporate boss who makes more money in a week than his cleaner takes home in a year – as long as the chances of being the boss are assigned proportionally among different ethnic groups, sexualities and genders. Individual winners and losers remain as remote from each other as ever; they are simply sorted in direct proportion to their numbers in society. The ultimate aim of identity politics is to 'tune up' the elite rather than to abolish it.

………

Class politics must certainly evolve with the times – at the very least it should take account of the legitimate grievances of people who feel marginalised for reasons other than their class. However, liberal identity politics is increasingly a zero-sum game in which white men must invariably lose out so that women, ethnic minorities and LGBT individuals can prosper. With no account for the impact of class, this will simply give rise to another injustice, or at the very least, compound an existing one.
(emphasis mine)

I think that the author, James Bloodworth, undersells the deliberate nature of this transformation.

When one looks at the professional class, doctors, lawyers, and (most significantly) college professors, the top 2-5%, this focus on identity politics benefits them.

While they have not benefited to the degree of the top 1% of 1%, they have benefited, and now it's easier to for them to find inexpensive domestic help.

Linkage


A fire tornado.  Do not try at home:

29 May 2016

About F%$#ing Time

After months of Terror Bombing by the House of Saud in Yemen, the White House has finally blocked the transfer of cluster bombs to their military:

Frustrated by a growing death toll, the White House has quietly placed a hold on the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia as the Sunni ally continues its bloody war on Shiite rebels in Yemen, U.S. officials tell Foreign Policy. It’s the first concrete step the United States has taken to demonstrate its unease with the Saudi bombing campaign that human rights activists say has killed and injured hundreds of Yemeni civilians, many of them children.

The move follows rising criticism by U.S. lawmakers of America’s support for the oil-rich monarchy in the year-long conflict. Washington has sold weapons and provided training, targeting information, and aerial refueling support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. It has also sold Riyadh millions of dollars’ worth of cluster bombs in recent years.

Asked about the hold on the shipments, a senior U.S. official cited reports that the Saudi-led coalition used cluster bombs “in areas in which civilians are alleged to have been present or in the vicinity.”

“We take such concerns seriously and are seeking additional information,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The US foreign policy establishment has viewed the House of Saud as a crucial ally in the region for longer than I have been alive, and I cannot imaging that this decision appears not to have come from there.

I am pretty sure that this came from the Oval Office, and cynic that I am, I am thinking that this decision was driven by electoral considerations, specifically that Trump would use our cozy relationship with Riyadh against Hillary Clinton in the upcoming election.

Now I Know Why Bakers are So Cranky

I just did a big batch of pasty dough.  I've done Cornish Pasties before, but I was doing a large batch to evaluate some dessert pasties, which requires more than just 4 called for in the recipe.

My forearms ache, because you need to work the dough, which is made with bread flour, which is stiff.

On the bright side, we did some cheese and veggie pasties for dinner from the excess dough.

The remaining dough is in the fridge, and I will be doing apple and various berry fillings.

28 May 2016

Why Billionaires are a Plague on the World

Well, we now know that Hulk Hoagan's lawsuit against Gawker was bankrolled by PayPal founder and billionaire Peter Thiel.

It appears that he was incensed about Gawker outing him almost 9 years ago in what was actually a rather adulatory article. He had been out in all but press release at the time.

It turns out that this incensed him because he literally made his fortune off of gay bashing when at Stanford University:
………

On the Gawker site, the most popular—I don’t say best--defense appears to be that “outing” Thiel was beyond the pale—so the suit accomplishes belated justice (that’s dubious in itself). Setting aside whether an outing actually happened or what prevailing ethical/journalistic standards are, I think Thiel’s time at Stanford (overlapping mine) bears renewed scrutiny.

Keeping it brief: Thiel essentially got his public start by founding the Stanford Review. That publication quickly, if not at its inception, was devoted mainly to “anti-PC” arguments, defending in particular fellow reviewer Keith Rabois, another future PayPal zillionare who, as a Stanford Law student was involved in "screaming 'Faggot! Hope you die of AIDS!' and 'Can't wait until you die, faggot,' in the direction of the resident fellow cottage of lecturer Dennis Matthies.”

According to a Stanford news release at the time: "first-year law student Keith Rabois ... sent a letter to the Stanford Daily confirming the allegations."

"Admittedly, the comments made were not very articulate, not very intellectual nor profound," Rabois wrote, according to the news release. "The intention was for the speech to be outrageous enough to provoke a thought of 'Wow, if he can say that, I guess I can say a little more than I thought.' "

Both Thiel and Rabois were/are gay.

This wasn’t just a youthful indiscretion. ... Thiel rode the incident to a book deal and publication in the Wall Street Journal. I assume his conservative bona fides, rooted here, played a serious role in his public profile and early business network? They also weren’t straightforwardly voicing some political/religious position: they were rather rancidly scapegoating other gay men as part of some closeted psychodynamic.
So his declaration of outrage is fueled by rank hypocrisy.

Will Bunch has the most succinct description of what is going on here, "Thiel's Gawker gambit lifts the veil on how the American kleptocracy hopes to control the American media in the 21st Century -- by buying and controlling some key news sites...and using their endlessly deep pockets to destroy journalists who are non-compliant."

I would also direct you to essays from Feliz Salmon and Bob Lefsetz.

I would also note that Theil is a reactionary nut-job, (scroll down toward the bottom) who opposes women's suffrage, supports the establishment of floating cities exempt from law, and funded James O'Keefe's successful jihad against ACORN.

There is nothing inherently wrong with being a rich nut-job.  Our history is filled with this.

But when that rich nut-job begins to think of themselves as a God, whether the Randian Übermensch in the case of Thiel or the brothers Koch, or an actual denizen of Olympus in the case Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (Caligula), it's the rest of us who bear the cost of their delusional excess.

They are Full of Crap

The Maryland Transit Authority (MTA) is now refusing to release footage from Mondawmin at the start of the Freddie Gray riots because they claim that it would increase the risk of terrorism.

I have not seen such a transparent load of bullsh%$ since Hillary Clinton started making excuses for not releasing her speeches at Goldman Sachs:
The Maryland Transit Administration has once again denied a Public Information Act request by The Baltimore Sun for surveillance footage from the Mondawmin Metro station on the day last April that riots broke out in Baltimore, saying that releasing the video would "facilitate the planning of a terrorist attack."

On April 27, 2015, large numbers of police officers staged in the area around the Metro station and adjacent mall based on intelligence they said they had received that large numbers of students planned to gather in the area en masse to protest the police-custody death of Freddie Gray.

Many in the city, including teachers at nearby Frederick Douglass High School, have blamed the police for provoking students and stranding others by canceling bus service at the transportation hub just as they were getting out of school.

The Sun has sought the footage from the MTA station for nearly a year in order to glean more information about how the clashes that began there, grew, and ultimately turned into rioting, looting and arson in the city that night.

In denying the Sun's first PIA request last year, the MTA said that the office of Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby had asked it not to release the footage because it was still being used in criminal investigations.

………

The Sun sent the MTA another PIA request for the footage last month, noting that there is a statute of limitations of one year for misdemeanor charges, and that it had been a year since the incident in question — limiting the number of pending investigations there could be.

………

When the MTA responded last week, it made no mention of pending investigations in the state's attorney's office. It said instead that the footage could not be released because of Homeland Security concerns.

………

The MTA responded Friday, explaining that The Sun would have to ask the federal Transportation Security Administration for written permission to review any of the footage from the cameras, because they were funded through Homeland Security grants.

But if The Sun were to get that permission, it said, the MTA still would deny the footage based on its belief that the footage "would reveal the facility's safety and support systems, surveillance techniques, and security systems and technologies," as well as "jeopardize the security of the facility; facilitate the planning of a terrorist attack; and endanger the life or physical safety of the public."
Please, take them to court.  Because their arument is 6 pounds of sh%$ in a 5 pound bag.

The only question is whether the MTA is protecting itself, or if the Baltimore PD strong armed into the coverup.

27 May 2016

Gets a Friday Music Post


Epic!
It doesn't get any cooler than playing Hendrix on a gayageum:
Korean artist Luna Lee takes modern songs and gives them a chill twist by playing them on a modified gayageum, an ancient Korean string instrument. On her fundraising page, Lee explains that she modernized the gayageum herself to play contemporary tunes.

We also recommend Luna's versions of "Back in Black," "Stairway to Heaven" and "Creep."
This is awesome.

Another Myth Busted

It turns out that rich people do not relocate when a state raises taxes:
When it comes to taxes, millionaires have short fuses. Ratchet up their rates and they'll blow you off and move to a low-tax, or no-tax, state.

Or so goes one argument against taxing the rich: States that levy a “millionaires tax” risk chasing those millionaires away to Florida, Texas, and other places with no income tax. Hedge fund manager David Tepper's recent decision to move from New Jersey to Florida, possibly creating a billionaire-size hole in Jersey’s budget, raised alarms. Golf great Phil Mickelson, shortly after his infamous Dean Foods stock trade, complained about his high tax rate in California and threatened to move to Florida.

Now, a study based on 13 years of tax data finds that most millionaires don’t move cross-country just to avoid a tax bill. It turns out that the rich, while perhaps different from us, aren’t all that mobile. When they do move, it’s often for reasons that have nothing to do with taxes. For one thing, they appear to like the beach.

The study, published in the June issue of the American Sociological Review, suggests that states—and countries—may have some leeway to raise taxes on the wealthy without scaring away their tax base. It has obvious political implications, possibly serving as ammunition for those who favor taxing the rich. It could help advance the arguments of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, for example, who have both proposed higher taxes on upper-income Americans.
And if they did leave, good riddance.

If they leave, they lose political influence where they formerly lived, and the less influence that the self-obsessed pampered assholes have, the better.

Trump Wimps Out

Now he's not going to debate Bernie Sanders:
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) had a bemused response on Friday to Donald Trump’s decision to back out of a suggested debate between the two.

“Well, Mr. Trump, what are you afraid of?” the Democratic candidate said.

Sanders said reporters were the first to inform him that Trump pulled out of the prospective debate, shortly after a tech firm offered to put up the $10 million donation the presumptive Republican presidential nominee had named as a condition.

“Mr. Trump comes across as a big tough guy,” Sanders said. “If you’re so tough, let’s sit down and have that debate.”
He's a punk and a wimp, and Sanders called him out as such.

Good.

26 May 2016

This is a Very Smart Move

Donald Trump was on Jimmy Kimmel, and in response a question from the late night host, Trump said that he would be willing to debate Bernie Sanders, and Sanders promptly picked up the gauntlet:
On ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" Trump was asked if he would consider holding a debate with Sanders. Trump agreed to the idea.

"If he paid a sum toward charity I would love to do that," said the business mogul, noting that a Sanders vs. Trump debate "would have such high ratings."

In a campaign stop in North Dakota, Trump said Sanderrs would need to raise $10 million for charity in order for the debate to happen.

Sanders quickly responded with a tweet reading, "Game On. I look forward to debating Donald Trump in California before the June 7th primary."
I don't expect Trump to follow through, but there is no way that this is a losing proposition for Sanders.

If Trump backs out, he looks weak.

If Sanders does poorly in the debate, Clinton is not harmed, and her campaign gets a preview of Trump's debate performance.

Sanders gets another chance to sell his movement and his campaign.

If Bernie trounces Trump, he gives a big boost to his chances in California.

There are no downsides for Sanders, and only one downside for Clinton, here, and all likely outcomes are bad for the "Short Fingered Vulgarian."

Well played.

This is F%$#ed Up and Sh%$

The Federal Election Commission is so dysfunctional that it cannot even decide that an employer coercing its employees to make political contributions is wrong:
Last week, the Federal Election Commission deadlocked over whether to investigate allegations that coal baron Robert Murray coerced employees at his company, Murray Energy Corporation, into making campaign contributions. It’s a move that watchdogs warn will give the green light to workplace political coercion, which experts say is on the rise.

The case stems from a complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) alleging that Murray Energy coerced its salaried employees to contribute to the company’s PAC. Sources within the company had alleged that their year-end bonuses depended on their levels of political giving.

FEC staff had advised the commission that there was a strong case for enforcement, based on evidence that included internal company documents reportedly showing that the company told managers, “We have been insulted by every salaried employee who does not support our efforts.” Staff members recommended that the commissioners find that Murray and his company’s PAC had violated federal election law by "coercing Murray Energy employees to make contributions to federal candidates and participate in fundraising activities supporting federal candidates."

When the commission finally voted on whether to take action last week, the FEC split along party lines, with the three Democratic commissioners voting in favor of investigation, and the three Republican commissioners voting against action. FEC rules bar the agency from taking action unless a majority of commissioners agree. It’s just the latest in a long list of FEC disputes that have ended in stalemates and inaction—involving everything from complaints over super PAC coordination with campaigns to nonprofits’ political activity, straw donations to LLCs, and end-runs around contribution limits.
Seriously?  An employer threatening loss of pay and perhaps loss of a job you don't contribute to their candidates is OK?

Seriously?

We are completely f%$#ed.

That's Gotta Be Driving the Turks Crazy

Green Berets assisting the Kurds in Syria are wearing Kurdish militia insignia on their uniforms:
Photos have emerged of American special operations troops in Syria wearing uniform insignia affiliated with a Kurdish rebel group known as the YPG, whose connection to Turkish terrorists could could fuel tension between the U.S. and a key ally in the Islamic State fight.

The images were taken in a village about 40 miles north of the Islamic State group’s self-declared capital of Raqqa, which is the target of a newly announced offensive being led by a disparate group of Kurdish and Arab fighters, and backed by American military advisers and air support. They highlight the complicated network of alliances the U.S. is trying to forge in Syria, and the ethnic and sectarian tensions that could tear apart this fragile coalition.

Speaking Thursday, a top Pentagon official said it's fairly common for Green Berets and other operators to wear allies' patches.
This has got to be putting some kinks in Erdogan's mustache.

Live in Obedient Fear, Citizen

It looks like the FBI managed to sneak language into the intelligence authorization bill allowing the FBI to demand email and logs from an ISP without a warrant:
A provision snuck into the still-secret text of the Senate’s annual intelligence authorization would give the FBI the ability to demand individuals’ email data and possibly web-surfing history from their service providers without a warrant and in complete secrecy.

If passed, the change would expand the reach of the FBI’s already highly controversial national security letters. The FBI is currently allowed to get certain types of information with NSLs — most commonly, information about the name, address, and call data associated with a phone number or details about a bank account.

Since a 2008 Justice Department legal opinion, the FBI has not been allowed to use NSLs to demand “electronic communication transactional records,” such as email subject lines and other metadata, or URLs visited.

The spy bill passed the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, with the provision in it. The lone no vote came from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who wrote in a statement that one of the bill’s provisions “would allow any FBI field office to demand email records without a court order, a major expansion of federal surveillance powers.”

Wyden did not disclose exactly what the provision would allow, but his spokesperson suggested it might go beyond email records to things like web-surfing histories and other information about online behavior. “Senator Wyden is concerned it could be read that way,” Keith Chu said.
I know what you're thinking:  That the FBI would never abuse its power to go after people they disagreed with politically and abuse their powers.

That's why their headquarters is named after J. Edgar Hoover, because they would never function as a private army for a rogue director.

Well, Here is a Hearty F%$# You to Larry Ellison

Oracle just lost its lawsuit against Google.

It was attempting to claim that its Applications Programming Interface (API) was a copyrightable element, which would have had the effect of allowing Oracle, and other makers of software platforms, to charge programmers for writing compatible programs:
A jury ruled in favor of Google on Thursday in a long legal dispute with Oracle over software used to power most of the world’s smartphones.

Oracle contended that Google used copyrighted material in 11,000 of its 13 million lines of software code in Android, its mobile phone operating system. Oracle asked for $9 billion from Google. Google said it made fair use of that code and owed nothing.

The victory for Google cheered other software developers, who operate much the way Google did when it comes to so-called open-source software. Unlike traditional software created by corporations and tightly held, open-source products are released, often with some restrictions, for anyone to use and modify.

………

The particular areas of copyright protection in Java involved the so-called declaring code in Application Programming Interfaces, or A.P.I.s., which have become the common way that networked programs on the Internet share data.

Declaring code establishes standards and meanings by which future lines of software, the actual effects the software seeks to create, will operate. This distinction compelled the 10 jurors — eight women and two men — to hear extensive testimony by engineers and economists about the nature of code, and the copyrightable implications of this type of creativity.
The idea that APIs are copyrightable is insane.

It makes independent development of software impossible.

25 May 2016

Too True

Over at The Nation, James Carden exhibits a shocking grasp of the obvious, and notes that Neocons are freaking out over Donald Trump because he represents a reduction in their influence, status, and paychecks, not because they are deeply concerned about the future of the nation:
The past year has been a difficult one for the leaders of the neocon right. First, their campaign to torpedo President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran came to naught. Then their preferred candidate for the Republican nomination, freshman Florida Senator Marco Rubio, ran a lazy and uninspiring campaign and was easily routed by Donald Trump. And now, with Trump about to be crowned king of the Republican castle in Cleveland, the neocons are experiencing something of an existential meltdown over the prospect of a future Trump administration.

Last week, a Politico piece surveyed the broken hearts among the neocon elite, in which they were described as being marooned on “The Lonely Island of Never Trump.” Just how lonely is that island, however, is open to question. If Politico is to be believed, nearly the entire GOP foreign-policy establishment is ready to bolt and join Team Hillary.

………

Kagan, Cohen and Boot quite rightly denounce Trump’s promise to ban Muslim immigrants. Yet their newfound concern for the well-being of Muslims is striking, given that they were among the most vocal supporters of the Bush administration’s “Global War on Terror” and the Iraq debacle which, according to the Nobel Prize–winning organization International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, has “directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million.”

………

Indeed. Are we really supposed to rue the possibility that the armchair warriors who’ve done the yeoman’s work of constructing an intellectual framework for endless foreign interventions and an overweening surveillance state might be excluded from the next administration?

It is hard to escape the conclusion that it isn’t Trump’s policies that are really bothering the neocons. Rather, it is the possibility that, come January 20, 2017, they could be frozen out of the corridors of power for the next four years. But what must really sting is this: Republican voters, given a choice between a neocon revival or Donald J. Trump went resoundingly for the latter. Deep down, I suspect, they know that they have no one to blame for Trump but themselves.
These guys have a hell of a racket:  They are wrong about everything, and the profiteers who benefit from this evil incompetence get them gigs at think tanks, and pay to publish their books.

As Upton Sinclair once observed, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

Time to Stop Covering for Our Friends in Riyadh

At a Congressional hearing, former 9/11 commissioners refused to contradict an implication that the House of Saud knew of the attacks before they occurred:
A former member of the 9/11 Commission on Tuesday left open the possibility that the Saudi royal family knew about the 9/11 terror plot before it happened.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., asked members of the panel at a House Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing to raise their hands in response to this question:

“How many of you there believe that the royal family of Saudi Arabia did not know and was unaware that there was a terrorist plot being implemented that would result in a historic terrorist attack in the United States, in the lead-up to 9/11?”

Two of the four panelists raised their hands, but Tim Roemer, 9/11 Commission member and a former congressman from Indiana, did not. Neither did Simon Henderson, director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

………

Those 28 pages remain classified despite calls for their release from several former members of the 9/11 Commission — a bipartisan blue-ribbon panel that from 2002 to 2004 investigated the 9/11 attacks and the intelligence failures that allowed them to succeed.

Sen. Bob Graham, co-chairman of the congressional inquiry into the attacks, has suggested that the pages contain “substantial” evidence of Saudi involvement — both by the government and private citizens. “I think it is implausible to believe that 19 people, most of whom didn’t speak English, most of whom had never been in the United States before, many of whom didn’t have a high school education — could’ve carried out such a complicated task without some support from within the United States,” Graham said on 60 Minutes last month.

………

Graham and his Republican co-chair, former Sen. Porter Goss, have joined 9/11 victims’ family members, activists, and congressional leadership to call for the release of the 28 pages. The chapter was initially classified by the George W. Bush White House, fearful of upsetting a U.S. ally. Despite twice promising to release the pages, President Obama has withheld them.
We really need to stop coddling the Saudis.  It's bad policy, and with a Presidential election coming up, it is piss poor politics.

This Has Fail Written All Over It

Some whiz kid (as in urine for brains) at Google has decided that they can simply profile you well enough to do know who you are:
Google will begin testing an alternative to passwords next month, in a move that could do away with complicated logins for good.

The new feature, introduced to developers at the company’s I/O conference, is called the Trust API, and will initially be tested with “several very large financial institutions” in June, according to Google’s Daniel Kaufman.

Kaufman is the head of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, where the Trust API was first created under the codename Project Abacus. Introduced last year, Abacus aims to kill passwords not through one super-secure replacement, but by mixing together multiple weaker indicators into one solid piece of evidence that you are who you say you are.

Among the pieces of evidence that Google suggests the Trust API could use are some obvious biometric indicators, such as your face shape and voice pattern, as well as some less obvious ones: how you move, how you type and how you swipe on the screen. With the service continually running in the background of the phone, it can keep track of whether those indicators match how it knows you use your phone.

Individually, it would be ludicrous to use any of those methods to secure web services. Even facial recognition, now built in to many Android phones, is significantly less secure than a fingerprint scanner, according to Google’s own metrics. But combining them can, the company suggests, result in something more than 10 times as secure as a fingerprint.
This is a verification system that would fail when, for example, you have a migraine coming on, or when you have fallen and broken your wrist, or when you are shaken up following a car crash, then you cannot unlock your phone.

I understand why Google likes this,  "With the service continually running in the background of the phone," it means that they can invade your privacy, and sell your data to identity thieves even more efficiently.

For the rest of us, it does not make a whole lot of sense.

3 "Democrats" Who Think That Your Financial Advisor Should Be Allowed to Cheat You

The Senate voted to prohibit regulators from requiring financial advisors to work in their own client's best interest:
The Senate voted Tuesday to strike down a controversial Obama administration rule for financial advisers, setting up a showdown with the White House.

Senators voted 56-41 to overturn the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule, which requires financial advisers to act in the best interest of retirement savers.

The Senate's vote paves the way for a battle with the White House, which has pledged that President Obama will veto the legislation once it reaches his desk.

"The final rule reflects extensive feedback from industry, advocates, and Members of Congress, and has been streamlined to reduce the compliance burden and ensure continued access to advice, while maintaining an enforceable best-interest standard that protects consumers," the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement.

………

Americans for Financial Reform, an advocacy group, defended the regulation.

The rule "simply says that financial professionals who claim to offer honest, unbiased advice on retirement savings should actually have to do that," the group said.

"The motive for this resolution is not a genuine concern about the wellbeing of retirement savers. Instead, some Wall Street salespeople and their firms are worried about losing out on the billions of dollars in excess profits they have been making by recommending investment products that serve their own interests."
If you look at the vote you will find 3 "Democratic" senators who voted to allow grandma to be cheated out of her retirement, former Congressional "Blue Dog" Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Jon Tester (D-MT).

They need to be primaried, big time.

They are all up for reelection in 2018

Chemical Coat Hangers

In Texas, women are going to Mexico to buy chemicals to induce n abortion, because it is next to impossible to get a safe abortion in Texas:
Susanna was young, single, broke and pregnant in southern Texas where, thanks to the state's strict laws, her chances of getting a surgical abortion at a clinic were slim to none.

So she did what an estimated 100,000 women or more in Texas have done - had a self-induced abortion.

With the help of a friend, some online instructions and quick dash across the Mexican border for some pills, she addressed the issue of unwanted pregnancy in a state where women are finding abortion services too expensive and too far away.

Restrictive laws took hold in Texas in 2013, forcing so many clinic closings that fewer than 20 remain to serve 5.4 million women of reproductive age.
The Texas legislature sees The Handmaiden's Tale as a blueprint for the file.

24 May 2016

How Utterly Proper

Karl Rove's Crossroads PAC has endorsed Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in the Democratic primary for her Congressional seat:
The super-PAC founded by GOP operative Karl Rove on Tuesday mocked Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s (D-Fla.) leadership as a boon to Republicans and "endorsed" her reelection bid.

American Crossroads said Wasserman Schultz's management has led to electoral gains for Republicans and more tension among Democrats.

“Congresswoman and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has played a critical role over the past several years in the massive Republican gains we have achieved at the state level, in the U.S. House of Representatives, and in the U.S. Senate,” Crossroads President and CEO Steven Law said in a statement.

"Wasserman Schultz’s leadership has also been a catalyst for the emerging civil war in the Democratic Party this year, ensuring that their nominating process will drag on far longer than that of Republicans,” he added.

The GOP group is backing her over her insurgent primary challenger Tim Canova.

"Voters of the 23rd District of Florida should know — American Crossroads stands with Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in her primary against ultra-liberal outsider Tim Canova, and they should too.”
Obviously, this is trolling, but it is very high quality trolling.

Amurika, F%$# Yeah!!!!!



H/t JR at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Well, This Explains a Lot

It turns out that over the past 70 years, many medical conditions that were considered normal are not considered pathologies that require aggressive treatment.

There is a lot of money in this, which raises the obvious question, "cui bono?"
As many as 16 million Americans are prone to screaming and pounding on the dashboard when someone cuts them off in traffic. Another 7 million are fully capable of devouring a whole box of cookies in front of the TV.

There are 14 million men with low testosterone, 9 million women with low sexual desire -- and tens of millions of people with bladders that are too active and blood sugar that's a little too high.

The common thread: All have non-life-threatening conditions that for most of the 20th century were not considered a part of mainstream medicine. Some did not exist at all as formal disorders.

Each of the conditions, from intermittent explosive disorder to overactive bladder disorder, is the product of a new or expanded definition. These definitions come from medical societies or researchers who get money from drug companies.
Not to worry though, I'm sure that the invisible hand of the market, and the "skin in the game" required by Obamacare, will fix all this.

And yet I find just the opposite to be true. The replacement is even more extreme

What a surprise.  The US policy of assassination makes extremest groups more extreme and more dangerous:


The elimination of Taliban leader Mansour will only increase the danger to Afghan civilians, a US terrorism analyst, whose research focuses on the impact of targeted killings, predicts.

Dr Max Abrahms, from Northeastern University in Boston, said the US Government does not look carefully enough at the strategic implications of its strikes on extremist leaders.

He said he had done a number of studies on leadership decapitation of a militant group and he had not found a statistically significant reduction in the amount of violence perpetrated by the group after a leader was removed.

"In fact these decapitation strikes can actually be counter-productive, because one of the assumptions of the targeted killing campaigns is that the replacement of the leader that you killed will be more moderate," Dr Abrahms said.

"And yet I find just the opposite to be true. The replacement is even more extreme.

"So for that reason, in the immediate aftermath of a successful targeted killing, like over this weekend, the group's violence tends to become even more extreme, in the sense that it's even more likely to attack civilian targets."

………

"What I've seen is that the younger people to emerge in the Taliban are actually even crazier, if you will, than the old guard."
And then Abrams says that, "He did not think the US Government very carefully studied the strategic implications of taking out Mansour."

Gee, you think?

The problem here is that there are way too many people out there who think that our "Freedumb Bomz" will make the world a better place because they are our weapons.

Like the bite of a dog into a stone, it is a stupidity.

H/t Empty Wheel.

Tweet of the Day


The Washington Post OP/ED pages: Making the Wall Street Journal editorials look sane and coherent for 16 years.

H/t naked capitalism.

Linkage


Charlie rocking out on a mandolin:

23 May 2016

This Sucks………

2 trials, and no convictions against the cops who killed Freddie Gray:
Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams rejected the state's case Monday against Officer Edward Nero, acquitting him on all counts for his role in the arrest of Freddie Gray.

The verdict, which followed a five-day bench trial, is the first in the closely watched case. Nero, 30, had faced misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office. The 25-year-old Gray died last year of injuries sustained while riding in the back of a police transport van.
I'm beginning to think that all these cops are going to walk.

Legal Exchange of the Day

If someone threatens me with a libel suit, I have to remember to cite Arkell v. Pressdram.

It involved an English magazine, Private Eye, which had a uncovered that a man named James Arkell had been taking kickbacks to throw debt collection business to some firms.

Arkell's solicitor demanded a retraction:
9th April 1971

Dear Sir,

We act for Mr Arkell who is Retail Credit Manager of Granada TV Rental Ltd. His attention has been drawn to an article appearing in the issue of Private Eye dated 9th April 1971 on page 4. The statements made about Mr Arkell are entirely untrue and clearly highly defamatory. We are therefore instructed to require from you immediately your proposals for dealing with the matter.

Mr Arkell's first concern is that there should be a full retraction at the earliest possible date in Private Eye and he will also want his costs paid. His attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of your reply.

Yours,

(Signed)

Goodman Derrick & Co.
Private Eye, published by Pressdram, Ltd., made this response:
Dear Sirs,

We acknowledge your letter of 29th April referring to Mr. J. Arkell.

We note that Mr Arkell's attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of our reply and would therefore be grateful if you would inform us what his attitude to damages would be, were he to learn that the nature of our reply is as follows: f%$# off.

Yours,

Private Eye
(%$# mine)

I'm going to have to remember the legal citation.

22 May 2016

This Headline is Not an Honest Mistake

Uranus Takes a Pounding More Frequently Than Thought.

One hopes that the editor-in-chief is having words with the headline writer.

My Beloved


It's complicated.

It involves theater people, and I can certify that there were no ocular injuries sustained in the process of obtaining the picture.

21 May 2016

PICTURES: Saab rolls out first Gripen E fighter







Saab has rolled out its first Gripen NG, which structurally is pretty much a new plane.

As compared to the travails of the F-22, where upgrades and modernization have been expensive and difficult, and the F-35, which is late, expensive, under performing, and unreliable.

By comparison, all the major systems for the new Gripen have flown, the first aircraft is a production unit, and it is expected to start flight testing this year:
Saab is targeting the on-schedule delivery of its new Gripen E fighter to the Swedish and Brazilian air forces late this decade, as it steps up export campaigns involving both the advanced model and its earlier C/D-model jet.

The first of three Swedish test aircraft to be involved in the project was unveiled at the manufacturer’s Linköping facility on 18 May, in front of an international audience of current and prospective Gripen users.

Lead aircraft 39-8 will be handed over to Saab’s flight test department “this summer”, and should make its flight debut at the end of the year, the company says. It will be used initially to verify the general systems, airframe and aerodynamics of the evolved design, which – while visually resembling earlier iterations – is entirely new.

Powered by a GE Aviation F414 turbofan engine capable of generating 22,000lb (98kN) of thrust, the Gripen E has an empty weight of 8,000kg (17,600lb) and a maximum take-off weight of 16.5t. The latter represents a 2.5t increase over the C/D. At 15.2m (49.8ft), it is also 30cm longer than its predecessor, while its wingspan has increased by 20cm, to 8.6m. With 40% more internal fuel, the new model has increased range, payload and endurance, and features an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, other updated avionics and new electronic warfare equipment.

Saab chief executive Håkan Buskhe reveals the cost of developing the Gripen E and producing its three Swedish test aircraft will be less than $2 billion.
This is chump change by the standards of modern fighter development.
………

Stressing that aircraft 39-8 is not a prototype, Ydreskog says: “Assembly of the first test aircraft – with 60,000, mostly new parts – was shorter than number 204 for the C/D.” The programme’s other test units are in different stages of structural assembly and only minor adjustments are expected as the shift to series production occurs. “There is some optimisation to do – we can reduce some weight,” he notes.

But Saab believes one of the biggest advances with the Gripen E comes through its use of an all-new integrated modular avionics system, which splits flight-critical and tactical management software. It says the latter’s software, hardware and algorithms can be rapidly changed – like apps on a smartphone – to keep pace with evolved operational requirements or technological advances in computing over the life of the type’s use.
(emphasis mine)

The updated software has been in development for far less time than the (still not up to snuff) avionics package for the F-35 JSF, and it will be trivial for countries using the aircraft.

The reason is that critical functions are segregated from one another, which, as any programmer can tell you, simply works better than tightly integrated all in one software as used in the JSF, even after billions of dollars have been spent.

Of course, for Lockheed Martin, their hairball of a software platform is not a bug, it's a feature, because it allows charge tolls on users who want to make upgrades.

As Aviation Week notes:
………

Gripen E is scaled up from the early Gripen C/D with 40% additional fuel capacity, more thrust from its General Electric F414 engine and more weapon stations. Internally the aircraft has been given a new sensor suite, with active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and infrared search and track (IRST).

Key to the aircraft is a federated software system that separates critical flight control systems from the tactical systems. Saab claims this will make the Gripen E’s avionics and mission systems more easily and quickly upgradable. Just 10% of the aircraft’s system code will be devoted to flight-critical systems; the remaining 90% will be mission-system related. Saab officials say tactical upgrades could be tested and introduced in weeks rather than months.
(emphasis mine)

The direct operating cost, as well as the fly away cost, of the Gripen looks to be less than that of its competitors.

Compared to its competitors, the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale, and the Lockheed-Martin Lightning II, this aircraft should better suit the needs of most countries out there, but Sweden lacks the connections behind the other platforms, so it looks likely that while it will be a market success, it will be a only a modest success.

I love New York


I was in  The Strand  bookstore on Broadway and 12th.
Well, they were selling "Donald Trump hands."
BRILLIANT!




Posted via mobile.

20 May 2016

Light Posting for the Next Few Days

Off to collect my daughter from AADA in Manhattan for the end of the school year.

I will return on Sunday, and I have some stuff queued up.

Why Not Both?


Angry Bear wonders if, "Economists Idiots or Just Delusional?"
If reducing the value of the policies If held by those who are continuously employed, either by taxing them or forcing those people to move to a less comprehensive plan than their risk-aversion preferences, is going to “reduce costly distortions in U.S. health care,” the only possible conclusion is that total health care spending is going to get costlier on average.

Yes, you might argue this will reduce “distortion.” But you would have to be an idiot—or, apparently, Alan Auerbach (Strongly) or Austan Goolsbee—to believe that is a good thing.

It does explain many of the policy shortcomings of the Obama animation.

Posted via mobile.





19 May 2016

I'll Call These Folks Welfare Queens

I've had a fair amount of exposure to various Ultra Orthodox communities, and as a result, I view the fact that the Heredim communities in Brooklyn have the one of the highest percentages of Section 8 recipients in the nation is as a result of a sophisticated attempt by leaders in this community to game the welfare system.

I call them Schnorrers (שנאָרער).

What is going on here is that people are spending their days studying instead of working to support their families.

As noted in Perkei Avot (Literally Wisdom of the Fathers), "Do not make the Torah into a crown with which to aggrandize yourself or a spade with which to dig."
………

New York City’s 123,000 vouchers make this the largest Section 8 voucher program in the country. Reluctant landlords and rising rents are making vouchers nearly impossible to use in many areas of the city. Tenants, especially larger families, are often relegated to the edges of Brooklyn and the Bronx. That’s why this cluster of Hasidic households stands out.

The neighborhood is home to one of the highest concentrations of Section 8 housing vouchers in the city, according to federal data analyzed by WNYC and the Daily News. In several of its census tracts, Section 8 tenants compose more than 30% of residents, a level reached only in scattered pockets of the Bronx.

The difference: In Brooklyn, the Section 8 tenants live smack in the middle of one of the city’s hottest real estate market.

The juxtaposition happened over years, not overnight. Leaders leveraged longstanding political connections to win favorable zoning changes. Local developers bought and built to meet the need. Residents organized to get in line for rental subsidies. Block by block, the community created a de facto free market, affordable housing plan.

………

A sliver of the community makes money in diamonds, real estate and trading. But many men favor religious study over work, and most women stay at home, so money can be tight. Those who work are often relegated to low-wage jobs due to a lack of secular education.
Here is a news flash: Despite sporting similar facial hair, Orthodox Jews are not the Amish.

Jews are required to engage the rest of the world and to learn about it.

What we have here here is parents deliberately giving their children a 2nd rate education and creating multi-generational poverty.

My nephews and niece are frum (Orthodox), and their mom and pop are principals at the local religious school, and they have, or are studying for, real careers like systems engineer, lawyer, and therapist.

One can be learned in Torah and make their way in the world, and parents, regardless of religious affiliation, have an obligation to prepare their children to function as self-supporting adults.

We Are So Boned

Who knew that my house would one day be beach front property:
Scientists ringing alarm bells about the melting of Antarctica have focused most of their attention, so far, on the smaller West Antarctic ice sheet, which is grounded deep below sea level and highly exposed to the influence of warming seas. But new research published in the journal Nature Wednesday reaffirms that there’s a possibly even bigger — if slower moving — threat in the much larger ice mass of East Antarctica.

The Totten Glacier holds back more ice than any other in East Antarctica, which is itself the biggest ice mass in the world by far. Totten, which lies due south of Western Australia, currently reaches the ocean in the form of a floating shelf of ice that’s 90 miles by 22 miles in area. But the entire region, or what scientists call a “catchment,” that could someday flow into the sea in this area is over 200,000 square miles in size — bigger than California.

Moreover, in some areas that ice is close to 2.5 miles thick, with over a mile of that vertical extent reaching below the surface of the ocean. It’s the very definition of vast.

Warmer waters in this area could, therefore, ultimately be even more damaging than what’s happening in West Antarctica — and the total amount of ice that could someday be lost would raise sea levels by as much as 13 feet.

………

The gist is that while Totten may be in a relatively stable configuration now, if it retreats far enough, then it can start an unstable backslide into deep undersea basins and unload a great deal of ice, raising seas first by close to a meter and then considerably more than that.

………

Scientists believe that Totten Glacier has collapsed, and ice has retreated deep into the inland Sabrina and Aurora subglacial basins, numerous times since the original formation of the Antarctic ice sheet over 30 million years ago. In particular, they believe one of these retreats could have happened during the middle Pliocene epoch, some 3 million years ago, when seas are believed to have been 10 or more meters higher (over 30 feet) than they are now.
A 10 meter sea level rise is end of the world sh%$, but clearly anthropogenic climate change is a hoax, because James Inhof threw a snow ball in the Senate.

18 May 2016

Millions Benefiting, and Republican Heads Exploding.

It's a win-win.  Obama just doubled the minimum pay at which salaried employees can be denied overtime:
The Obama administration unveiled a new rule Wednesday that will make millions of middle-income workers eligible for overtime pay, a move that delivers a long-sought victory for labor groups.

The regulations, which were last updated more than a decade ago, would let full-time salaried employees earn overtime if they make up to $47,476 a year, more than double the current threshold of $23,660 a year. The Labor Department estimates that the rule would boost the pay of 4.2 million additional workers.

The change is scheduled to take effect Dec. 1.

The move caps a long-running effort by the Obama administration to aid low- and middle-income workers whose paychecks have not budged much in the last few decades, even as the top earners in America have seen their compensation soar. The last update to the rules came in 2004, and Wednesday’s announcement is the third update to the salary threshold for overtime regulations in 40 years.

………

About 35 percent of full-time salaried employees will be eligible for time and a half when they work extra hours under the new rule, up significantly from the 7 percent who qualify under the current threshold, according to the Labor Department.

The shift was swiftly criticized by small business owners, nonprofit groups and universities that say they may have to switch some salaried workers to hourly positions to afford the new threshold. And instead of seeing bigger paychecks, some salaried workers may be assigned fewer hours, they said.
It means that you won't be getting free labor out of people by pretending that they are management.

And then there is this bit from the halls of overpaid administrators in education:
Some colleges said they worried they might have to cut services or raise tuition to keep up with the guidelines. Linda Harig, vice president of human resources for the University of Tennessee, estimates that the university would need to spend an additional $18 million to afford overtime pay for employees who would become eligible under the new guidelines, such as admission staff, hall directors and people with post-doctoral positions. That is the equivalent of a 4.3 percent increase in tuition, Harig said.
Because working 60 hours a week for 40 hours worth of pay is such a good thing.  And post docs aren't basically legalized slavery.

If there additional costs, I would suggest cutting the pay people of people like, "Linda Harig, vice president of human resources for the University of Tennessee."

Why does the head of HR need to be a VP level position? Now there is some useless fat to trim.

This Is Either a Scam, or This Will Become a Scam

The latest thing in crowd funding is something called a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) and my nose tells me that this is, or is going to be, a new way for people to have their money stolen:
We’ve flagged cryptocurrency enthusiasts’ distinctly mystic beliefs in spontaneously emergent headless organisms before.

Now something called the “Decentralised Autonomous Organisation” — The DAO, not to be mistaken with Tao — project has begun to attract actual column inches in mainstream publications, albeit in keeping with the new style of journalism… i.e. devoid of critical evaluation and taking all claims at face value.

The DAO is currently raising Ether tokens (the pre-mined currency of the Ethereum blockchain, itself funded via a bitcoin capital raising) — $110m at mark-to-market rates today — in exchange for DAO, a token which “grants its holder voting and ownership rights.” As Techcrunch put it, holders of DAO “can use their tokens to vote on big governance issues (akin to traditional shareholders) but also on minute details of how The DAO spends its resources. In this way, token holders have total control over The DAO’s assets and its actions.”


The DAO explicitly states its tokens are not a form of equity — even if to the average bystander everything about the DAO token looks, smells and feels like common equity. (Perhaps the feeling is that if you dazzle them with “tokens” instead of stocks, those pesky unlicensed stock solicitation rules won’t apply? We’re not sure regulators will see it that way.)

We won’t go on about how the world has had 100 years (or more) of feedback with respect to what happens when you remove the professional executive/management function from corporate identity, or transfer all day-to-day decision making to amateur committees. Any cursory review of modern history (or a quick read of Animal Farm) will flag up the problems: indecision paralysis; wasted time and resources on voting and bureaucracy; entirely non-diplomatic means of grabbing power just to get things done; uninformed decision making; exploitation of the ignorant; tragedies of the commons scenarios and last but not least: a lack of skin-in-the-game accountability for poor decision making leading to post-facto due diligence processes with dire consequences for capital, human resources and environments.

We won’t even mention that $110m raised in illiquid tokens based on mark-t0-market valuations is akin to a paper profit only, and might create a helluva Ether currency collapse if it’s actually spent on resources in the real-world…
I don't know if this is a scam now, but I do know that it it isn't, it will be, and it will be sooner than later, because this is what happens when people set up a business based on self delusion.

Trump is Right on This

For more the 20 years, we have had a problem with out negotiations with the DPRK (North Korea).

We haven't even been able to end the Korean War.*

The problem is that one of the parties is not negotiations is not acting in good faith, and engages in meaningless posturing, threats of dire consequences, and a general lack of seriousness.

The other, of course, is the DPRK.

Since the Clinton administration stiffed the DPRK on formal diplomatic relations in 2004, the US has refused face to face negotiations, because ……… Hell, I don't know why, but it appears that Donald Trump finds this similarly absurd:
Presumptive US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says he is willing to meet North Korea's leader to discuss its nuclear programme.

"I would speak to him, I would have no problem speaking to him," the businessman said of Kim Jong-un.

Such a meeting would mark a significant change of US policy towards the politically isolated regime.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton decried Mr Trump's "bizarre fascination with foreign strongmen".

The statement, delivered by one of her aides, added that Mr Trump's foreign policy "made no sense".
Because talking with people instead of threatening them works so well?

The DPRK has tested nukes, probably including a boosted fission device, and they have conducted launches of SLBMs in the 22 years since we promised to exchange ambassadors.

Talking to someone is not a reward. Rewarding someone is a reward.

In fact, talking to Donald Trump is one of my definitions of cruel and unusual punishment.

The Washington, DC consensus on the DPRK is nuts, and stupid, and nuts.

Trump is right here, a generation of US diplomats are wrong.

BTW, f%$# the Donald for being right, and f%$# the idiots at Foggy Bottom for making him right.

*Seriously. This is not a joke. Technically hostilities are still active, we are just in a temporary truce.

To Protect and Serve

It's confirmed.

The Baltimore PD is nothing at all like the TV series Homicide: Life on the Street.

First we learn that for many years, the company doing psyche evals for would be BPD cadettes was phoning it in, which explains a lot:
Baltimore's spending panel has cut ties with two contractors.

Baltimore's spending panel voted unanimously Wednesday to take action against two companies accused of violating contracts with the city.

The Board of Estimates, which is controlled by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, voted to immediately end a contract with a psychology firm that conducted mental health screenings for many prospective Baltimore police officers. The screenings were far shorter than required.

The $730,000 contact for Psychology Consultants Associated of Lutherville had been on suspension since last year, pending the results of a city investigation. The city's inspector general reported this week that its investigation found that nearly three-quarters of officers and trainees said that their pre-employment screenings with the firm lasted 30 minutes or less.

The contract required at least an hourlong interview for each job candidate.

In a letter to the inspector general, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis accused the firm of "cutting corners" and putting the public and the department "at risk."
This might explain a lot, including the fact that Baltimore cops were caught looting during the Freddie Gray unrest:
Three Baltimore police officers were accused of theft in two separate investigations — including two charged after being caught on video looting a store during the unrest that followed the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.

According to the Baltimore Sun, correction officers Tamika Cobb and Kendra Richard were suspended without pay after footage showed them exiting a local convenience store holding Slim Jims and Tostitos chips on April 25.

That same day, riots broke out in the city after six hours of peaceful protests calling for charges to be filed against the officers who arrested Gray earlier that month. Six officers were later charged in connection wih Gray’s death.

Both Cobb and Richard were assigned to corrections facilities downtown, near the site of the unrest. They face charges of burglary and theft, and bail was set for each of them at $35,000.
Yes, I know that the 2nd story is from a year ago, but I came across both of them today, so I just had to comment.

They seemed to segue nicely one into the other, or as Zathras would say, "At least there is symmetry."