Monday, May 15, 2017

(Intimidation Watch?)  Fibrillating in Fear and Bankrupting By False Security  (How the U.S. Electorate Has Been Denied Its True Voice for Over 40 Years)  John Dean Sees Trouble?  (The Real New Climate)  Self-Interest or Values Voting?  (Violence Our Most Important Product)  Lee Camp on No More Net Neutrality  (Max and Stacy on Fake Health Care Tax-Payer Insurance Scam and Education Freight Train of Fraud)  Comey Cooped?

Bullshit works.

And I'm quoting Fareed Zakaria (believe it or not):

They're calling it "impeachment watch," but it seems more like bare-knuckled intimidation.

Trump Threatens Comey With Secretly Recorded “Tapes” of Their Conversations

Trump’s attempt to intimidate Comey appeared to be in response to reports from the Wall Street Journal and NBC News that the former director had let it be known, through associates, that the president had lied in the termination letter he had his bodyguard deliver to FBI headquarters on Tuesday. The letter included a bizarre aside in which Trump claimed that he was grateful to the director for assuring him, in three conversations, that the president himself was not under investigation. Trump’s claim, one associate of Comey’s told the Journal, “is literally farcical.”

“I actually asked him, yes,” Trump said of his conversation with Comey, at a dinner requested by the president the day after the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, had informed the White House that the FBI had proof that the national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had lied about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. (Perhaps not coincidentally, Trump reportedly asked Comey, that night, if he would be “loyal” to him. Comey refused to make such a pledge, his associates told The New York Times.)
. . . Moments later, Trump admitted that ending the federal investigation into his own campaign was central to his thinking when he made the final decision to fire the FBI director leading the probe.
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“Misunderstanding Terrorism”:  How the Us Vs. Them Mentality Will Never Stop Attacks

Finding and stopping terrorists before they strike is often compared to looking for a needle in a haystack, a cliché that speaks to the difficulty of preventing a crime that, while deadly, is uncommon. Counterterrorism officials still suggest that the task would become easier if they could use profiling to target Muslim communities. In other words, if they could shrink the size of the haystack.
But a new book by Dr. Marc Sageman, a veteran counterterrorism researcher and former CIA operations officer, argues that this approach, even if carried to its fullest extension in a nightmare scenario for civil liberties, would still be ineffective, because jihadist terrorism is such a statistically rare phenomenon.
In his book “Misunderstanding Terrorism,” Sageman counts 66 Islamic jihadist terrorist plots in Western countries between 2002 and 2012, involving a total of 220 perpetrators. This figure works out to an average of 22 terrorists per year, across a population of roughly 700 million people. Even narrowed to just the Muslim population in Western countries, estimated at roughly 25 million people, that’s less than one in 1 million Muslims a year who could be considered terrorists.
Describing a hypothetical dragnet conducted by Western countries that correctly identified terrorists 99 percent of the time, but accused innocent people 1 percent of the time, Sageman asks us to imagine the following:

If all the various police departments operating in the West collaborate and carry out a gigantic sweep by applying this profile to their respective Muslim populations in order to catch terrorists hiding in their respective societies, they would arrest all 22 terrorists that emerge in a given year. However, they would make a mistake 1 percent of the time for 25 million people, which comes to 250,000 people. Therefore, in order to catch all 22 global neo-jihadi terrorists, they would put 250,000 Muslims in jail by mistake.

Because terrorism is so uncommon, he writes, any strategy for combating it that involves policing entire communities is likely to end up harming huge numbers of innocent people — thus feeding the same climate of alienation and hostility that fosters political violence in the first place.
In the 1980s, Sageman helped organize Afghan resistance fighters against the Soviet Union. Over the decades since, he has interviewed hundreds of individuals accused of involvement in jihadist terrorism, documenting the circumstances of their cases and their personal motivations.
“Misunderstanding Terrorism” analyzes every jihadist terrorist plot that occurred in the United States and Europe over a 10-year period ending in 2012.
The study excludes nonviolent terror-related cases, such as those involving financial donations or other material support charges, as well as sting operations in which plots were developed by agent provocateurs — a tactic favored by U.S. law enforcement agencies but viewed with skepticism in many European countries. His research comes to two broad conclusions. The first is that violent terrorist plots in Western countries are a statistically tiny phenomenon, which makes blanket counterterrorism approaches an ill-suited response. The second takeaway is that “social identity theory” — that is, how people self-identify in a crisis — is the primary motivating factor behind terrorist attacks.
Despite efforts to protect civil liberties, Sageman writes that profiling-based approaches have led the United States to “grossly overestimate the violent terrorist threat and commit a very large number of assessment errors.” The politically driven manipulation of the threat of terrorism has led Americans to “fibrillate in fear and bankrupt [themselves] with security” in response to a threat that is much smaller than they have been led to believe.
. . . Sixteen years after 9/11, the war on terror still appears to have no end in sight, driven on by a circular logic of violence and retribution. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. government tried to frame its counterterrorism programs as not specifically targeting Muslims, while still carrying out airstrikes overseas and launching controversial “countering violent extremism” programs in Muslim communities. Although in recent years some national security experts like Sageman have begun to point out the self-defeating nature of American counterterrorism policies, Donald Trump’s approach – focusing explicitly on Muslim communities, implementing discriminatory immigration policies, expanding military action abroad, and declaring an open-ended war against the amorphous concept of “radical Islam” – isn’t a course correction.
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Just what we said was really coming (and may have been the raison d'etre of) after 9/11.

NYU Accidentally Exposed Military Code-breaking Computer Project to Entire Internet

In early December 2016, Adam was doing what he’s always doing, somewhere between hobby and profession:  looking for things that are on the internet that shouldn’t be. That week, he came across a server inside New York University’s famed Institute for Mathematics and Advanced Supercomputing, headed by the brilliant Chudnovsky brothers, David and Gregory. The server appeared to be an internet-connected backup drive. But instead of being filled with family photos and spreadsheets, this drive held confidential information on an advanced code-breaking machine that had never before been described in public. Dozens of documents spanning hundreds of pages detailed the project, a joint supercomputing initiative administered by NYU, the Department of Defense, and IBM. And they were available for the entire world to download.
The supercomputer described in the trove, “WindsorGreen,” was a system designed to excel at the sort of complex mathematics that underlies encryption, the technology that keeps data private, and almost certainly intended for use by the Defense Department’s signals intelligence wing, the National Security Agency. WindsorGreen was the successor to another password-cracking machine used by the NSA, “WindsorBlue,” which was also documented in the material leaked from NYU and which had been previously described in the Norwegian press thanks to a document provided by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Both systems were intended for use by the Pentagon and a select few other Western governments, including Canada and Norway.

Adam, an American digital security researcher, requested that his real name not be published out of fear of losing his day job. Although he deals constantly with digital carelessness, Adam was nonetheless stunned by what NYU had made available to the world. “The fact that this software, these spec sheets, and all the manuals to go with it were sitting out in the open for anyone to copy is just simply mind blowing,” he said.

. . . All of this leaky data is courtesy of what I can only assume are misconfigurations in the IMAS (Institute for Mathematics and Advanced Supercomputing) department at NYU. Not even a single username or password separates these files from the public internet right now. It’s absolute insanity.
The files were taken down after Adam notified NYU.
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And it now comes down to this:

John Dean on Trump:  I Can't Imagine It Ending Real Well for Him

14 May 2017 
hite House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had just refused to confirm or deny that President Donald Trump is secretly recording people in the Oval Office when I reached John Dean by phone on Friday afternoon. The former White House counsel to President Richard Nixon has become, in the 42 years since the Watergate scandal, a historian of that moment in American history of which he was a crucial figure. With Trump acting more Nixonian than ever — even firing the man who was investigating his campaign, FBI director James Comey — Dean’s astute political analysis is especially relevant. Dean spoke to me about Trump, Nixon, and taping systems as he drove home from a television appearance in Los Angeles. Our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.
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The New Climate

Ever since the American elections of November 2016 things have become clearer. Europe is being dismembered:  it counts less than a hazelnut in a nutcracker. And this time around, it can no longer rely on the United States to fix anything.
. . . By far the most significant event is not Brexit or the election of Donald Trump but the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, where on December 12, 2015, delegates finally came to an agreement. The significant thing is not what the delegates decided; it is not even that this agreement will take effect. (The climate-change deniers in the White House and the Senate will do everything they can to hamstring it.) No, the significant thing is that all the countries that signed the accord realized that if they were to go ahead and follow their individual modernization plans, this planet simply would not be big enough.
. . . If there is no planet, no earth, no soil, no territory for the globalization to which all countries at COP21 claim to be heading, what should we do? Either we deny the existence of the problem or we seek to come down to earth. This choice is what now divides people, much more than being politically on the right or the left.
The United States had two options after the election. It could recognize the extent of the change in global circumstances, and the enormousness of its responsibility, and finally become realistic, leading the free world out of the abyss; or it could sink into denial. Trump seems to have decided to let America dream on for a few more years, and to drag other countries into the abyss along the way.
We Europeans cannot allow ourselves to dream. Even as we are becoming aware of many different threats, we will need to take into our continent millions of people — people who, thanks to the combined impact of war, the failure of globalization, and climate change, will be thrown (like us, against us, or with us) into the search for a land where they and their children can live. We are going to have to live together with people who have not hitherto shared our traditions, our way of life, or our ideals, who are close to us and foreign to us — terribly close and terribly foreign.
The thing we share with these migrating peoples is that we are all deprived of land. We, the old Europeans, are deprived because there is no planet for globalization and we must now change the entire way we live; they, the future Europeans, are deprived because they have had to leave their old, devastated lands and will need to learn to change the entire way they live.
This is the new universe. The only alternative is to pretend that nothing has changed, to withdraw behind a wall, and to continue to promote, with eyes wide open, the dream of the “American way of life,” all the while knowing that billions of human beings will never benefit from it.
Most of our fellow citizens deny what is happening to the earth but understand perfectly well that the immigrant question will put all their desires for identity to the test. For now, encouraged by the so-called populist parties, they have grasped only one aspect of the reality of ecological change:  it is sending huge numbers of unwanted people across their borders. Hence their response:  “We must erect firm borders so we won’t be swamped.”
But there is another aspect of this same change, which they haven’t properly realized:  for a long time, the new climate has been sweeping away all borders, exposing us to every storm. Against such an invasion, we can build no walls. Migration and climate are one and the same threat.
If we wish to defend our identities, we are also going to have to identify those shapeless, stateless migrants known as erosion, pollution, resource depletion, and habitat destruction. You may seal your borders against human refugees, but you will never be able to stop the others getting by.
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A recent study shows that oceanic oxygen levels began to drop in the 1980s as temperatures began to rise. Melting polar ice, air pollution, and changes in ocean circulation all contribute to the problem. Not good:  falling oxygen levels kill fish, crabs and many other organisms. 
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Nearly half of the US school districts use shaming tactics to get kids' parents to pay their lunch bills, according to a 2014 report. Sometimes lunches are thrown into the trash, attracting attention and ridicule from fellow students. One Alabama child was given a stamp on the arm that said "I need lunch money." A new law in New Mexico directs schools to work with parents to end the humiliating practice.
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Voters Vote for Their Values, Not Their Self Interests

Berkeley author George Lakoff, who predicted Trump's 2016 win, says progressive candidates just don't get it and continue to stick to facts. But "what happens when you hear facts that don’t fit in your worldview is that you can’t process them:  you might ignore them, or reject or attack them, or literally not hear them."
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Violence is our most important product. We have been spending nearly $80 billion a year on the military, which is more than the profits of all American business, or, to make another comparison, is almost as much as the total spending of the federal, state, and local governments for health, education, old age and retirement benefits, housing, and agriculture.

These millions of Americans who have a vested interest in the expensive weapons systems spawned by our global military involvements are as much a part of the military-industrial complex as the generals and the corporation heads." - Sen J. William Fulbright - Pentagon Propaganda Machine, p11 - Vintage Books, 1971.
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Tasked with overseeing an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, the now-fired FBI director earned the chagrin of both parties.

FBI directors are given 10-year terms in office, precisely to insulate them from politics. It is very rare to fire them. The last time it happened was 24 years ago, when Bill Clinton sacked William Sessions, who had clung to office despite a damning internal ethics report detailing abuse of office, including the use of an FBI plane for family trips.

Comey’s sacking has taken place in very different circumstances. It came on a night when CNN reported that a grand jury had issued subpoenas in the investigation of the Trump camp’s contacts with Russian officials, and after had confirmed to Congress that more than one person connected to the Trump campaign was the subject of an FBI counter-intelligence investigation. He had also indicated that he was investigating leaks from inside the FBI to the Trump campaign in the course of the election.
The New York Times has reported that Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, was “charged with coming up with reasons to fire him”. The official reason offered was Comey’s handling of the enquiry into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for classified information. Comey’s announcement in July 2016 that there would no be prosecution, while criticising the Democratic presidential candidate and her aides for being “extremely careless” in their handling of classified material, is singled out in a memo by the newly appointed deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.
In one of the first acts in his new job, Rosenstein said Comey had exceeded his authority with that announcement.
Comey was castigated from both sides for his handling of the Clinton emails. But Democrats were adamant on Tuesday that was not the real reason for his dismissal. It was pointed out that during the campaign, Trump and his team warmly praised Comey’s decision to speak up. 
. . . Matthew Miller, a former justice department spokesman in the Obama administration, said:  “Trump came up with the most convenient excuse possible to fire the person investigating him, but it’s just that:  an excuse. This is legitimately terrifying.”
Several commentators compared Comey’s sudden sacking with the 1973 “Saturday night massacre” when President Richard Nixon dismissed Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor appointed to look into the Watergate affair.
“This really is astonishing,” said Scott Horton, a New York attorney and expert in international law. “The most immediate comparison is the Saturday Night Massacre … by firing Comey, Trump is asserting his control over the FBI on the political level.”
Malcolm Nance, a former navy cryptographer and author of a book on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, said:  “This is a Nixonian move clearly designed to take out the man who was investigating collusion with a foreign power. 
“We are in a completely new space. It will blow past Watergate. Nixon was being investigated for crimes. This is when the FBI is in the middle of a counter-espionage investigation. This is a spy hunt. We have never had that in the White House. This is third world dictator stuff.”
Jeffrey Toobin, a lawyer and legal commentator, called the move “a grotesque abuse of power by the president of the United States”.
“This is the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies,” Toobin said.
On Monday a former acting attorney general, Sally Yates, had given an account of her warnings to the White House, less than a week into the Trump presidency, that his national security adviser Michael Flynn had been compromised by Russia and was vulnerable to blackmail.
It took 18 days before Trump fired Flynn – and he only did so after the details of undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador to Washington were leaked to the press. The White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, said Yates’s warnings had not been acted on immediately because the administration had seen her as “a political opponent”. Trump, of course, also fired Yates.
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Jill Stein, for example, attempted recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. She fought corrupt officials in all three states (Pennsylvania has a Democratic governor) and hit nothing but brick walls.
Clinton sent “legal observers” but no financial or other meaningful help. Liberal pundits continually attacked Jill for her efforts. Despite the horrors of Trump fascism, the Democrats have said and done nothing about the total fraud that put him in the White House.
Al Gore essentially disappeared immediately after losing 5-4 in the US Supreme Court. So did Kerry and Clinton immediately after their own losses. Not one of them is working to abolish the Electoral College, or for a reliable election system. But the corporate Democrats and liberal pundits have plenty of energy to scream at the grassroots left.
Of course, in 2008 and 2012, that’s precisely who put Barack Obama in the White House. We have reported widespread electoral fraud in both years. But a powerful and diligent grassroots upheaval curbed enough abuses to save Obama from what doomed Gore, Kerry and Clinton.
Obama also used that grassroots energy to build a popular vote margin too big to steal.
In 2016, Bernie Sanders again unleashed that grassroots power. As an avowed socialist, he inspired millions of precisely the activists a legitimate Democratic Party should have welcomed — young, committed, energetic, idealistic, ready to work for a social democratic future.
. . . In these dark days we must recall that in the spring of 2016 we enjoyed the HUGEST social democratic movement in a century, with tens of millions of optimistic Americans ready to work and win a bright and fair future. 
Instead we face the grim realities of tangible fascism. It doesn’t help when liberal pundits and corporate Democats attack the grassroots activists who are on the frontline of the resistance.
The Democrats will stay out of power until they can convince the American public (even us “deplorables”) they can deliver on civil liberties, social justice, ecological sanity, and more. And that they can construct an electoral system that actually reflects the popular will.
Clinton, Kerry, Gore and the liberal punditocracy must finally deal with how they lost these three presidencies. And then DO something about it, so it doesn’t happen again.
They could start by demanding universal automatic voter registration; transparent registration rolls immune to Jim Crow stripping by programs like ChoicePoint and Crosscheck; universal hand-counted paper ballots; a four-day natonal holiday for voting; an end to gerrymandering, the Electoral College, and the corporate purchase of campaigns.
They might also THANK rather than scapegoat what was once the Democratic Party’s energetic base, including activists like Nader, Stein, Bernie and the rest of the grassroots movements that form our last and strongest barrier against the harsh realities of Trump Fascism.

And if this group of committed activists does not somehow coalesce (again) to save the United States electorate from whatever far-fetched conspiracy of the hidden forces that are extremely powerful (or unbelievably corruptly inept) that seems to have been ongoing since the 1980s . . . the country's claim to being a democracy is terminal.

Although this may be soon proved a redundancy.
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Lee Camp educates us/US about net neutrality.

No, it's not a highly technical matter that won't affect your internet usage.

And the Trumped Troops are ready to deny it to the masses immediately (a Verizon attorney is in charge!).

Max and Stacy are just about the most courageous video journalists on the scene today.

Here is the best discussion of fake health care you will hear for a while probably. Yes, it's a Medicare/Medicaid tax-payer insurance scam, not real health care.

Ready for a freight train of fraud? Try not to look too closely at the new U.S. education system. (You can thank me later.)

And some further insight into Comey being shown the door.

The coup has been cooped?

Enjoying that discussion of more multi-dimensional chess?

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