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Hullabaloo


Friday, July 31, 2015

 

Facebook's aerospace team

by Tom Sullivan

Now there's a phrase to give one pause. This just came in over the transom:

MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — Facebook says it will begin test flights later this year for a solar-powered drone with a wingspan as big as a Boeing 737, in the next stage of its campaign to deliver Internet connectivity to remote parts of the world.

Engineers at the giant social network say they've built a drone with a 140-foot wingspan that weighs less than 1,000 pounds. Designed to fly at high altitudes for up to three months, it will use lasers to send Internet signals to stations on the ground.

Facebook's engineers at engineers at Connectivity Lab are designing a laser-based communications system to deliver the Internet to remote regions of the world the NSA cannot currently monitor from ‎Fort Meade or Bluffdale.

The plan calls for using helium balloons to lift each drone into the air, Parikh said. The drones are designed to climb to 90,000 feet, safely above commercial airliners and thunderstorms, where they will fly in circles through the day. At night, he said, they will settle to about 60,000 feet to conserve battery power.

Each drone will fly in a circle with a radius of about 3 kilometers, which the engineers hope will enable it to provide Internet service to an area with a radius of about 50 kilometers.

Facebook drones at 90,000 feet. Amazon delivery drones below 400 feet. Large military drones in between — commingled with your Aunt Millie's flight to Omaha. Amateur idiots anywhere, anytime. And one FAA NextGen air traffic control system to rule them all. (They're only having a little trouble meeting the September 2015 deadline for writing those rules.) And c'mon, Zuckerberg, right? No worries. Not until one takes down an airliner or crashes into a school.

Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should. — Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park (1993)
And instant communications. Anywhere. Anytime. It's been a dream of techies since at least George Orwell.

But, you know, all that hardware to maintain. So much needless expense. TPC had a better idea for handling that little problem back in 1967:

(h/t Barry)


Thursday, July 30, 2015

 
Huckabee and Huckleberry have Hitler on their minds

by digby

They just can't quit him. You heard Huckabee's "oven remark." Here's Lindsay Graham:

"I don't question President Obama's motives. That's where Mike has gone down the wrong road," Graham said at the time. "I like Mike Huckabee, but this is about the most sensitive subject matter I can imagine."

But during his Thursday interview on Newsmax TV's "The Steve Malzberg Show," Graham went with a Hitler reference anyway.

"The Munich deal would have made sense if Hitler just wanted German-speaking people under the German umbrella. Munich partitioning Czechoslovakia, and giving him more power and reenforcing his belief that the West was weak, was a terrible deal. He in fact, wanted to kill the Jews and have a master race," Graham told the Newsmax host. "This is a bad deal because the Ayatollah gets more money and more weapons and a clearer path to the bomb. Here’s what the deal does: It gives him a bomb, a missile to deliver and the money to pay for it. What would he do with a missile and the bomb? Does he feel compelled by his religion to attack Israel and destroy democracies like ours? I say yes."

So much for that sensitive subject matter ...


.
 
Hairgate Redux all over again

by digby


Helaine Olen at Slate has a good piece up about the latest "hairgate" scandal, this one involving, who else, Hillary Clinton who is being dinged for being a rich, elitist for paying big bucks to get her hair done at Bergdorf Goodman. (Click over for the details...)

I just want to point out that women, in general, particularly older women, can't win on this one. If they don't go out of their way to at least look presentable they're called an "old crone" and if they do they're derided for spending so much time and money to try to look presentable. And none of it prevents the world from being casually vocal about how revolting they look look either way.

Take a gander at this grotesque image:


That's from a respectable mainstream magazine.  You don't even want to know what the rightwingers are doing.

Olen points out rightly that Republicans, with the notable exception of Sarah Palin, have not been subject to this particular criticism. But Democratic men certainly have.  She writes:

[W]hen it comes to Hairgates past and present, men—or at least male Democrats—are as likely to get dinged for their choices as women. Maybe the celebrity haircut is a gender-neutral easy get—an instant way to paint a candidate as privileged, out of touch, narcissistic. That it takes more than a bit of narcissism even to consider running for president is conveniently forgotten.

It's not really gender neutral though. She mentions the scandal over John Edwards' expensive haircut, but it's important to note that the tactic had a specific purpose: feminizing the Democratic candidate. They called him "The Breck Girl."

Here's Mike Huckabee using it to good effect:

"Congress is spending money faster than John Edwards in the beauty parlor."

So the purpose of these "hairgate" scandals is different for men than it is for women. For men it's to make them seem less than manly. For women, it's to highlight how much work it takes to hide the fact that they're ugly old beasts or frivolous little featherweights. Either way it's sexist and creepy. But the media always has a good time with it --- as if they've never spent any time primping in front of the mirror.

.


 
Violence at gay pride parade ... in Jerusalem

by digby

Oh, lordy ...

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man stabbed and wounded six participants, two of them seriously, in the annual Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem on Thursday, with police saying the suspect was jailed for a similar attack 10 years ago.

About 5,000 people celebrating the event were marching along an avenue when a man jumped into the crowd, apparently from a supermarket, and plunged a knife into some of the participants, witnesses said.

"We heard people screaming, everyone ran for cover, and there were bloodied people on the ground," Shai Aviyor, a witness interviewed on Israel's Channel 2, said.

Netanyahu called it a "hate crime." Apparently, "terrorism" is a word reserved for Muslim extremists there too...


.

 
No police don't need to "stand their ground" with unarmed suspects

by digby

I wrote about the Samuel DuBose killing at Salon this morning:

Despite the almost instant drawing of the gun and firing, the Police One commenter harbors doubts that the officer didn’t, in fact, fear for his life, saying, “If any part of that officer was attached to that motor vehicle — then he can clearly articulate his life was in fear.” He adds,”this officer will pay- – solely based on the current political climate in America. Sad.”
Actually, the current political climate in America is finally forcing some authorities to question this belief that being able to “clearly articulate” that you felt your life was in danger in a situation like this automatically means it was a reasonable fear. The tape shows it clearly was not. And if it weren’t for that tape, we wouldn’t know that, showing clearly that body cams and dash cams are a necessity in law enforcement. But body cams are only part of the solution to this problem. This “fear factor” mindset stems from the same fundamental philosophy that Stand Your Ground and castle doctrine laws come from: If you feel afraid, you have no obligation to retreat if possible; you may legitimately shoot and kill someone.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder made the following comment about this recent legal movement, which is backed by conservative groups like ALEC and the NRA, in the wake of the Trayvon Martin killing:
“There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if — and the ‘if’ is important — if no safe retreat is available. But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely.
“By allowing — and perhaps encouraging — violent situations to escalate in public — such laws undermine public safety. The list of resulting tragedies is long and, unfortunately, has victimized too many who are innocent.
“It is our collective obligation. We must ‘stand our ground’ to ensure that our laws reduce violence and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent.”
That logic applies to police as well as civilians. In fact, it applies more to police than civilians, because police are charged with protecting the public, and act in our name...
There are many unanswered questions about this latest killing. But one thing we know for sure: If there had not been any video, the officer’s account would have closed the books on this incident immediately. Obviously, that happens with some frequency. Making body cams mandatory will help as it did in the DuBose case. But to truly fix this problem our society must confront the root causes — racism, police militarization and rampant abuse of authority.

More at the link....
 
"Classy" Trump reveals his immigration plan

by digby


I watched this CNN Trump interview yesterday and was struck by the honesty with which Trump answered the question about what to do with undocumented immigrants:

Donald Trump, the Republican presidential hopeful who shot up to the head of the pack over his controversial comments about illegal immigrants, is finally starting to lay out an immigration policy.

Trump said Wednesday in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash that as president he would deport all undocumented immigrants and then allow the “good ones” to reenter the country through an “expedited process” and live in the U.S. legally, though not as citizens….

Trump would not say how he would locate, round up and deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants he says must go. Instead, he deflected, saying that while it may be a task too tall for politicians, it isn’t for a business mogul like himself.

“Politicians aren’t going to find them because they have no clue. We will find them, we will get them out,” Trump said. “It’s feasible if you know how to manage. Politicians don’t know how to manage.”

He said over and over again that all "illegals" had to go and then he'd let some of the "good ones" back in temporarily to pick our lettuce and clean up after us but they can never become citizens. Ever.

It's important that he said this and important the people understand that is what his supporters want to hear.

John Heielman conducted a focus group of Trump supporters in New Hampshire. They had some reservations about Trump's ability to win the election but weren't in the least bit bothered by his demeaning comments about immigrants.

Here's how they describe him:
“Classy,” said Cheryl, a real estate agent.

“I think it would be exciting,” Roger said. “I really do. I look forward to it. It'll be an interesting thing every day.”

“I think he'd be calling out everybody,” John, a construction worker, said. “I think it'd be pretty good.”

Some even foresaw that day in terms familiar to many Democrats.

“He would surround himself with the best and the brightest,” retired school teacher Don said. “To the American people it would be a presidency of hope.”

Oy.

Ed Kilgore looks at Trump's "proposal" realistically:

Estimates of the cost of mass deportation of the undocumented start at about $265 billion and range on up from there; one key variable is whether a sufficiently terroristic atmosphere would encourage some of these people to “self-deport,” as Mitt Romney surmised. Trump might even claim some of these folk will self-deport to get a prime place in the line to reenter the country as a permanent helot class if they pass muster. In any event, it would indeed make this country a very different place.

Now that Trump’s forced this issue right out in the open, it’s time for us all to ask him and other Republicans who won’t endorse a path to legalization exactly how much they are willing to spend in money and in lost civil liberties to implement their plans. No sense weaseling around and dog-whistling this issue any more.

What are the odds that Fox News will open that can of worms in the August 6th debate?

Update: CNN also interviewed some Trump supporters. Double oy:

Asked whether Trump's comments questioning Arizona Sen. John McCain's heroism offended them, some said they were actually more offended by McCain's comments when he called those who showed up for Trump's rally "crazies."

"Don't forget McCain insulted the 'crazies,' which is a blanket insult," Susan DeLemus said.

And Paula Johnson pointed out that some of Trump's supporters are also, veterans.

"Mr . Trump did say four times that McCain was a war hero and again," Sean Van Anglen, a Republican, said, adding that "the media and everyone is only playing that one clip."

And Jerry DeLemus, a veteran, said that Trump has an issue with McCain as a "sitting senator," not as a veteran.

"As a Marine ... we like guys who don't get captured, too," he said. "I don't think that he meant that as an insult to POWs or the military at all."


"I like that he's not a politician. I'm tired of politicians," Johnson, a Republican said. "I'm tired of the sugar-coating that they tell us that they're going to fix this economy. I believe Mr. Trump really wants to make America great again."

"Our country is in terrible economic condition and middle class America has been decimated over the last 30 years. Donald Trump has taken businesses and companies and turned them around, made them profitable again," DeLemus said.

"He says what he means. I honestly believe he's telling the truth," Susan DeLemus said, echoing a sentiment shared by all six supporters.

When Camerota asked the group whether Trump's tone is presidential, Johnson said "Well, what's presidential anymore?"

"I mean we have a president sitting in the white house right now. He's taking so many vacations its costing the tax payers dollars," Johnson said. "What has he done for America?"

Trump, Johnson said, "will take us above that" and make "America the way we once were."

Some said that the issue of immigration would not have risen to the national spotlight had Trump not highlighted it.

"I think that immigration is the most important issue facing our country today," said Ryan Girdusky, a Republican.

"What do you think is Donald Trump's immigration policy?" Camerota asked.

"Certainly, to crack down on sanctuary cities," Girdusky said. "I don't think that Katherine Steinle's death would have gotten the coverage it did had Donald Trump not been speaking about this."

Donald Trump heads to the border

And none of the six Trump supporters were bothered by his comments that Mexican immigrants are "rapists" and drug dealers.

"He didn't say Mexicans, he said Mexico," Jerry DeLemus said, which is also a distinction that Trump has repeatedly made. "His point was that Mexico is outmaneuvering America and they are out maneuvering us. What other country in the world would allow that type of illegal immigration to come across the border?"


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Polling Perspective

by digby

This is a very useful piece by Brendan Nyhan at The Upshot which basically says that people should chill a little bit about polling, gaffes and pay closer attention to endorsements and the natural rhythm of polling as the campaign wears on. All of this is based on political science observations over other campaigns, which is a limited data set. But it's still worth thinking about as we fully launch into the presidential campaign.

Here is his conclusion:

Polls play an important role in presidential primaries, influencing the strategies of the candidates, the coverage they receive from the media and the choices of voters who want to avoid wasting their vote. For political mavens they’re also often an amusing way to follow the horse race.

So go ahead and pay attention to the polls if you want, but do it smartly. Don’t overreact to individual polls or fall for weak pundit analysis. Instead, remember that campaigns have predictable rhythms and that endorsements may be a better predictor of who will ultimately prevail than who’s up or who’s down right now.

Wise words ...

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One Way to Ease the Worldwide Water Crisis — End Water Privatization

by Gaius Publius


Silicon life forms declare war on "ugly giant bags of mostly water" — in other words, us.


by Gaius Publius

Water is literally the stuff of life for living beings. All life began as single-celled organisms floating in water. In their earliest and simplest form, living things are organized bags of water capable of reproduction, whose "inside" water is held together by a permeable or semi-permeable membrane ("sack" or "skin") through which nutrients borne by the "outside" water (the environment) pass in, and through which waste passes out.

The simplest organisms live like that today. Bags of water, floating in water, taking what they need from water, passing what they don't need back to water.

What one organism doesn't need, another does. Water is the soup, each life takes from other lives via the medium. Without water the planet is barren, a Moon, a Pluto.

Later, living things developed mouths — so much for the peaceful passing of nutrients through the outer membrane — and skin and shells. With skin and shells, the inner water could be retained even in non-water environments. With mouths, the nutrients didn't need to be water-borne. To sustain itself, a being could simply ingest the nutrients and water in other "sacks of water" by ingesting the sacks themselves. So armed, life would eventually roam and inhabit the non-watery parts of the world.

But the basis of our life starts with our ability to contain and maintain our inner water environment. We began in water. We must remain in water — retain and maintain our inner water — or we die. In the physical world, water is the god that gave us birth and keeps us living.

So why, in a drought, are we allowing water to be ring-fenced by the few, "appropriately priced," marketed and sold back to us by the only people capable of buying it in quantity? Or does "promote the general welfare" have no meaning?

I want to explore two aspects of the water discussion here. First, the drought itself — it's not ending anytime soon. Second, the way to end one of the great squeezes on our remaining water supply — end the death grip of privatizers.


The Bad News for Western Drought: 'Monster' Hot El Nino on the Way

This report is from western Canada, but it applies to the western U.S. as well, especially California and the Southwest (my emphasis throughout):
In the dead of a Prairie winter, when cars won't start and exposed skin freezes in 30 seconds, people pray for a searing hot summer. But across Western Canada this season, many may be recalling the old adage, "be careful what you wish for" as forest fires, drought and pestilence invite biblical comparisons.

More worrisome, though, than the sight of Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia wilting under 30 degree [Celsius; 86°F] temperatures in June and July — and rationing scarce water supplies in some areas — is that this might just be the start of an even bigger problem.

Many meteorologists are chalking up today's weird and wacky weather in the West to the fact that this is an El Nino year, referring to the cyclical Pacific Ocean phenomenon that disrupts global weather patterns.

The problem with that, according to Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips: "It's not even arrived in Canada yet."

"We don't see the effects of El Nino until late fall, winter and early spring," he says.

What that likely means is at least three more consecutive seasons of warmer, drier weather when farmers are already, quite literally, tapped out in the moisture department.

As for what that could mean for drought conditions next summer and beyond, Phillips says it's "not looking good."
So the drought will likely continue through next year at least. Again, not good. "Game over" for ranchers:
Canada's Prairies have just experienced their driest winter and spring in 68 years of record keeping. "So they were behind the eight-ball before the summer season ever came," says Phillips.

That, coupled with a record low snow pack in North America, and few of the traditional June rains needed to grow crops, has had a cumulative effect that's hit some producers harder than others.

Says Phillips: "For ranchers it's pretty much game over."

The tinder dry land has kept pastures for grazing cattle from turning green and producing feed, forcing cattle ranchers to sell down their herds or ship the animals around looking for alternative feed sources.
And farmers:
"Our cereal fields, our oats, our wheat, our barley essentially baked in the field," says Garett Broadbent, agricultural services director for Alberta's Leduc County, just south of Edmonton.

The municipality voted unanimously this week to declare a local state of agricultural disaster as soil moisture and crop conditions continue to decline to the worst levels in half a century.
And here's a NOAA scientist saying that there is a trend, and it will continue "as long as greenhouse gas levels continue to rise year after year":
NOAA climate scientist Jessica Blunden says, in addition to the dwindling snow pack, "glaciers are melting, sea ice is melting, sea levels reached record highs last year, the ocean heat was record high last year, sea surface temperatures were record highs last year, so you put it all together and there's a definite trend."

It's a trend Blunden expects to continue into 2015 and beyond as long as, she says, greenhouse gas levels continue to rise year after year.
I'm feeling more than a little confirmed for disagreeing with other NOAA scientists quoted in the ProPublica Colorado River report. It's going to take at least a decade or more of better-than-normal rain and snowfall to bring us back to where we were before the drought began.


"We have 15 years to avert a full-blown water crisis; by 2030, demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent"

There's also an excellent piece in The Nation that gets to this issue, but also offers solutions. First, the drought analysis. The writer is Maude Barlow:
The California Drought Is Just the Beginning of Our National Water Emergency

For years, Americans dismissed dire water shortages as a problem of the Global South. Now the crisis is coming home.

The United Nations reports that we have 15 years to avert a full-blown water crisis and that, by 2030, demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent. Five hundred renowned scientists brought together by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that our collective abuse of water has caused the earth to enter a “new geologic age,” a “planetary transformation” akin to the retreat of the glaciers more than 11,000 years ago. Already, they reported, a majority of the world’s population lives within a 30-mile radius of water sources that are badly stressed or running out.

For a long time, we in the Global North, especially North America and Europe, have seen the growing water crisis as an issue of the Global South. Certainly, the grim UN statistics on those without access to water and sanitation have referred mostly to poor countries in Africa, Latin America, and large parts of Asia. Heartbreaking images of children dying of waterborne disease have always seemed to come from the slums of Nairobi, Kolkata, or La Paz. Similarly, the worst stories of water pollution and shortages have originated in the densely populated areas of the South.

But as this issue of The Nation shows us, the global water crisis is just that—global—in every sense of the word. A deadly combination of growing inequality, climate change, rising water prices, and mismanagement of water sources in the North has suddenly put the world on a more even footing.

There is now a Third World in the First World. Growing poverty in rich countries has created an underclass that cannot pay rising water rates. As reported by Circle of Blue, the price of water in 30 major US cities is rising faster than most other household staples—41 percent since 2010, with no end in sight. As a result, increasing numbers cannot pay their water bills, and cutoffs are growing across the country. Inner-city Detroit reminds me more of the slums of Bogotá than the North American cities of my childhood.

Historic poverty and unemployment in Europe have also put millions at risk. Caught between unaffordable rising water rates and the imposition of European-wide austerity measures, thousands of families in Spain, Portugal, and Greece have had their water service cut off. An employee of the water utility Veolia Eau was fired for refusing to cut supplies to 1,000 families in Avignon, France.

As in the Global South, the trend of privatizing water services has placed an added burden on the poor of the North. Food and Water Watch and other organizations have clearly documented that the rates for water and sewer services rise dramatically with privatization. Unlike government water agencies, corporate-run water services must make a profit for their involvement.
Talk about heartless — "An employee of the water utility Veolia Eau ["Veolia Water"] was fired for refusing to cut supplies to 1,000 families in Avignon, France." Veolia is the largest privatized water company in the world according to this list.


World's ten largest privatized-water companies (source; referenced here; click to enlarge)


Veolia had $50 billion in revenue in 2009. No doubt they've grown since then. The writer clearly notices that this is predatory behavior. (In fact, it's behavior that kills for profit, so we're in psychological territory here. If Veolia were human, they'd be diagnosed as psychopathic and put away forever.)

The story of over-stressed water resources is the same everywhere in the world. Barlow discusses China ("more than half the rivers in China have disappeared since 1990"), Africa, Brazil and ends in the U.S.:
The story repeats itself in the North. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the Ogallala Aquifer is so overburdened that it “is going to run out…beyond reasonable argument.” The use of bore-well technology to draw precious groundwater for the production of water-intensive corn ethanol is a large part of this story. For decades, California has massively engineered its water systems through pipelines, canals, and aqueducts so that a small number of powerful farmers in places like the Central Valley can produce water-intensive crops for export. Over-extraction is also putting huge pressure on the Great Lakes, whose receding shorelines tell the story.
I'll say now there will be no "Chinese Century" or "American Century" or "Basque Century," for that matter. A century of chaos is coming if we don't get a grip and end carbon emissions fast. (I've been told by renewable-energy industry professionals that the only barrier to fully transforming the U.S. to renewables in ten years is political — we have the money and the physical and technical ability. We just have to want to use them.)

A critical-mass cry to do that — end emissions fast — could be coming, by the way, as the climate screws turn tighter and tighter. What governments do when that cry comes will determine how we fare as a species. Will governments remain wealth-captured, or will they take up the cause of the people they claim to represent?


The Growing Water Justice Movement

In that vein, Barlow writes the following:
There is some good news along with these distressing reports. An organized international movement has come together to fight for water justice, both globally and at the grassroots level. It has fought fiercely against privatization, with extraordinary results: Europe’s Transnational Institute reports that in the last 15 years, 235 municipalities in 37 countries have brought their water services back under public control after having tried various forms of privatization. In the United States alone, activists have reversed 58 water-privatization schemes.

This movement has also successfully fought for UN recognition that water and sanitation are human rights. The General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing these rights on July 28, 2010, and the Human Rights Council adopted a further resolution outlining the obligations of governments two months later.

Working with communities in the Global South, where water tables are being destroyed to provide boutique water for export, North American water-justice activists have set up bottled-water-free campuses across the United States and Canada. They have also joined hands to fight water-destructive industries such as fracking here and open-pit mining in Latin America and Africa.
And the global goal:
Water must be much more equitably shared, and governments must guarantee access by making it a public service provided on a not-for-profit basis. The human right to water must become a reality everywhere. Likewise, water plunder must end: Governments need to stand up to the powerful industries, private interests, and bad practices destroying water all over the world. Water everywhere must be declared a public trust, to be protected and managed for the public good. This includes placing priorities on access to limited supplies, especially groundwater, and banning private industry from owning or controlling it. Water, in short, must be recognized as the common heritage of humanity and of future generations.
Saying it should be so doesn't make it so, Captain Picard to the contrary. But an organized force pushing back against the "plunder" is both needed and welcome.




Pickpockets on board the Titanic; they would be comic if death-for-dollars weren't part of the plan.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)

GP



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Next come the phony quotes

by Tom Sullivan

Donald Trump continues to wow the GOP's nativist base. Jeff Tiedrich explained why yesterday in a Tweet:

Michael Savage interviewed Donald Trump on his radio show yesterday, declaring, “I’m for Trump. Point-blank. Best choice we have.” The two discussed voter identification laws, immigration and the Iran nuclear agreement.

Savage called Trump the "Winston Churchill of our time."

Next come the phony Trump quotes, I guess: "You can always count on Americans to pick the right president – after they've tried everybody else."


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

 
GOP campaign ad o' the day

by digby

Ben Carson, world renowned pediatric neurosurgeon:



Huh?


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A mirror of conflicts tearing up regions of the world

by digby

It's only going to get worse folks. When one part of the world is in chaos (which, by the way, the west helped cause) people vote with their feet. They have no choice.
Migrants rushed the tunnel linking France and England repeatedly for a second night on Wednesday and one man was crushed to death by a truck in the chaos, deepening tensions surrounding the thousands of people camped in this northern French port city.

To get to the tunnel, migrants must cross a busy highway, scale or cut through barricades and fences, and pry open cargo doors or crouch in the freight cars that cradle the tractor-trailers. It's not clear how many have successfully made the 35-minute journey to Britain, but Eurotunnel said it had blocked more than 37,000 attempts since January. Nine people have died trying since June.

There were wildly conflicting totals of people involved Wednesday, ranging from 150 to as many as 1,200. But French authorities and the company agreed there had been about 2,000 attempts on each of two successive nights. British Home Secretary Theresa May said "a number" of migrants made it through overnight.

Attempts have been increasing exponentially as has the sense of crisis in recent weeks, spurred by new barriers around the Eurotunnel site, lack of access to the Calais port, labor strife that turned the rails into protest sites for striking workers, and an influx of desperate migrants.

Many British officials are alarmed at what they see as a potential influx of foreigners, while French officials are concerned about the makeshift Calais tent camps derisively called "the Jungle."

"This exceptional migrant situation has dramatic human consequences," said French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. "Calais is a mirror of conflicts tearing up regions of the world."
America's "border problems" are nothing like this, by the way. People have been migrating back and forth over the invisible line we call "the border" for centuries. It's always been part of America. It's just that a certain group of white Americans are being focused on them at the moment for the political benefit of some very rich people who need their votes.

But that does not mean that immigration isn't a very real problem in other parts of the world due to chaos caused by war and that it won't be an even bigger problem going forward due to chaos caused by climate change. This is going to be the new normal and I don't think western leaders have even begun to think through a rational policy to deal with it.

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Dispatch from Torture Nation

by digby

Holy moly...

Correctional officers at an Alabama jail used giant snakes as a “means of torture, harassment, control and intimidation against the inmates,” according to a federal lawsuit filed Monday.

Plaintiff Trawick Redding Jr. says he was heading to the Dale County Jail kitchen when he saw two jail staffers, Zeneth Glenn and Ryan Mittelbach, bring a 6- or 7-foot-long yellow Burmese python into the jail and told them he was afraid of snakes. When he went back to his bunk and fell asleep, Glenn allegedly snuck in with the snake and held it within an inch of his face. Redding woke up, screamed, and hit his head. Afterward, he was reportedly treated for depression and post-traumatic stress and remained in the jail for a year.

Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson told WFSA that Glenn and Mittelbach were fired less than half an hour after he learned about the snake incident. But Redding says he still gets nightmares and experiences intense anxiety after his stint in jail. He is seeking $3 million in damages against the two officers, the sheriff, the jailer, and Dale County.

The complaint also alleges that the jail ignored his mental distress after being confronted with a snake, and refused to give him the proper psychiatric care. Redding says his heart issues and diabetes became worse since leaving the jail.

Jail and prison guards frequently take advantage of the power they hold over inmates, and Alabama jails are among the most notorious in the nation. Last month, correctional offers at Pickens County Jail were indicted for forcing female inmates to dance naked for them in exchange for doughnuts. Madison County Jail, meanwhile, is facing three federal lawsuits over the deaths of inmates from treatable conditions: a broken bone, gangrene, and constipation. And federal investigators recently turned their sights to Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham, where teenage inmates say they are being kept in solitary confinement for long stretches of time.

The good news is that Americans are not barbaric like those other people. We only torture people who deserve it.

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Trump's goodfellas

by digby

I wrote a little piece about Trump's "special counsel's" tirade the other day for Salon this morning:


[N]one of Cohen’s comments are likely to hurt the Donald with his fans. Even if they think Ivana Trump was telling the truth in her original deposition, they would tend to think she had no right to deny him his marital prerogatives. This is why they like Trump — he takes what he wants.
As McKay Poppins wrote in this Buzzfeed article about Trump’s coterie of advisors, headline “Meet Donald Trump’s Proud Bullies, Goons, And Thugs“:
Trump’s key lieutenants tend to fit the same consumer profile as his discount luxury-brand targets: They are men with middle- and working-class roots; lacking in elite credentials; mesmerized by made-for-TV displays of lavish wealth. They are impressed with brashness and bored by subtlety. They are amused by dirty jokes and averse to irony. They are likely to buy a Trump-branded necktie sometime this year, and if they feel like splurging they’ll get the matching cufflinks, too.
This isn’t a caricature I came up with; it is central to the ethos of Trump’s political operation. On the day after the 2012 election, one of Trump’s advisers described for me the billionaire’s appeal to blue-collar voters: “If you have no education, and you work with your hands, you like him. It’s like, ‘Wow, if I was rich, that’s how I would live!’ The girls, the cars, the fancy suits. His ostentatiousness is appealing to them.” That may be crass, but it didn’t strike me as elitist: Trump’s political advisers see themselves as descendants of this same tribe.
That description is very reminiscent of another tribe with which one might be familiar if you watched “The Sopranos.” The swagger, the ostentatious show of wealth — and the threats.
But if you recall Henry Hill’s narration in “Goodfellas,” you might also see the rather ugly subtext to that up-from-the-working class identification:
“To us, those goody-good people who worked shitty jobs for bum paychecks and took the subway to work every day, and worried about their bills, were dead. I mean they were suckers. They had no balls. If we wanted something we just took it. If anyone complained twice they got hit so bad, believe me, they never complained again…” 
That’s what Donald Trump’s candidacy really promises. Goodfellas only look out for themselves.

Read on ...
 
The weepy billionaire's BFF

by digby

From Jonathan Schwarz at The Intercept:

Phil Gramm, a former three-term Republican senator from Texas who once ran the Senate Banking Committee, told the House Financial Services Committee yesterday that “it was an outrage” that his friend Edward Whitacre, the CEO of AT&T, only got “$75 million” when he retired in 2007.

“If there’s ever been an exploited worker” it was Whitacre, said Gramm, testifying on the 5th anniversary of passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. Gramm appeared genuinely aggrieved by Whitacre’s shabby treatment and literally pounded the table while speaking.

Whitacre actually received a retirement package totaling $158 million.

Gramm attributed public anger at CEOs like Whitacre to “the one form of bigotry that is still allowed in America,” which is “bigotry against the successful.”

This is a clearly a long-standing belief of Gramm’s, who said almost the same thing, word for word, in 2001.

Why the next thing you know, these rich people are going to be forced to retreat to their estates and spend all their time counting their money and ordering the servants around.

#Billionaireslivesmatter


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Dehumanization 101

by digby

Wingnuts are obsessed with human feces

Immigrants:


Gitmo detainees:
Rear Admiral Harris is adamant that the people in his care are well looked after and are enemies of the United States.

He told me they use any weapon they can - including their own urine and faeces - to continue to wage war on the United States.

Occupy:

Friday, October 14, 2011

 
Dehumanizing the protesters

by digby

Amato has been watching Bill O'Reilly so you don't have to:

Bill O'Reilly had his wingnut mojo working Thursday night. He tries to paint Occupy Wall Street protesters as drug trafficking potheads who are also boffing each other outdoors in the squalid conditions of Zuccotti Park.

Billo asked one of his favorite culture warriors Margaret Hoover, who lives a few blocks away from the riff-raff if she smelled the weed. She says, yes, but really no since she didn't actually smell it, but her friend did.
O'Reilly:...three weeks is enough. It's dirty and filthy, there's rats running all over, there's dope all over the place. They're having sex outside at night around. (inaudible) Does that say anything about the entire movement?

This is the oldest story in the wingnut playbook. During the anti-war movement, the cries of "smelly, dirty hippie" were everywhere. Famous case in point: “a hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane, and smells like Cheetah” --- Ronald Reagan.

I think most people believed that this aversion to hippies probably went away around the time that country music stars started growing their hair long and smoking pot. But the stereotype as it applied to the left never really went away. Back in 2004, you'll surely recall thislovely Ann Coulter bon mot: "My pretty-girl allies stick out like a sore thumb amongst the corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie-chick pie wagons they call 'women' at the Democratic National Convention." Liberal women are commonly derided as being smelly, hairy and fat, regardless of the reality of the situation. In fact, according the Coulter, they aren't even women.

Around the same time, there was this widely held sentiment about the journalist in Iraq who reported the shooting of an unarmed Iraqi by American marines. You may recall that the journalist had shoulder length hair (which is fine when Ted Nugent sports the style.)

The Marine who killed the wounded insurgent in Fallujah deserves our praise and admiration. In a split second decision, he acted valiantly.

On the otherhand, Kevin Sites of NBC is a traitor. Beheading civilians, booby-trapped bodies, suicide bombers?? Sorry hippie, American lives come first. Terrorists don't deserve the benefit of the doubt. This Marine deserves a medal and Kevin Sites, you deserve a punch in the mouth.
So, these derisive stereotypes of smelly, traitorous hippies have had remarkable staying power.

There are a couple of images, however, that seem to really get these people going. The first is the idea that protesters are having sex in the open. I don't need to explain why that would excite them. But they seem to get even more stimulated by the notion that protesters are relieving themselves in public. When I was a kid living in the South, I remember my parents looking at a book that was being passed around featuring alleged pictures of civil rights protesters defecating in the streets. The thing had the neighborhood all aquiver, it was like pornographic contraband. Just recently, Fox Nation got very overexcited by a story from San Antonio about homeless migrants without toilet facilities using an alley.They really love to show pictures of this sort of thing for some reason.

Billo didn't specifically refer to this, but this ridiculous story was circulating all over the rightwing web swamp last week and they were clearly extremely energized by the idea. The police car isn't from Manhattan, so it doesn't appear to be related to the Wall Street protests at all, but the truth of it has never mattered. It's the idea. (On Bill Maher last week, GOP spokesperson Nicolle Wallace said her main worry about Occupy Wall Street was where people were going to the bathroom.)

The left gets dinged, sometimes fairly, for wrongly imputing racist motives to the right wing. But it's clear that there is a strain of rightwing thinking that needs to see their rivals as as traitorous, animalistic beasts who screw and defecate in public. They cannot even be acknowledged as human beings who observe the most basic levels of decent behavior. I'm not sure that has anything to do with race, but it is a very primitive form of tribalism nonetheless. And it's exceedingly creepy to see famous talk show hosts evoke those images. If history is any judge, I would expect to see more of it.

Dehumanization is how they roll.


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QOTD: Politico's Mike Allen

by digby

Look who's going to the Koch brothers' auditions for President of the United States of Koch?

DRIVING THE WEEKEND: I'll interview five of the Republican candidates - Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker -- for 25 minutes each in my native Orange County, Calif., at the biannual conference of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the Koch brothers' political network. We have complete editorial control of the questions, and the policy discussions will be livestreamed.

No, there's nothing inappropriate about this, why do you ask? Allen is simply doing the tough shoe leather work of a political journalist by helping the Koch brothers decide which candidate's campaign they plan to pour a hundred million or more into. It's perfectly fine.

Four leading GOP presidential candidates – Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker – are traveling to a Southern California luxury hotel in coming days to make their cases directly to the Koch brothers and hundreds of other wealthy conservatives planning to spend close to $1 billion in the run-up to the 2016 election.

The gathering – which also will include former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, but notably not Sen. Rand Paul — is hosted by Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, the umbrella group in the Kochs’ increasingly influential network of political and public policy outfits. It represents a major opportunity for the candidates at a pivotal moment in the presidential primary.

The crowded field of GOP contenders is competing aggressively for the support of uncommitted mega-donors as the campaign hurtles towards its first debates in what’s expected to be a long and costly battle for the Republican nomination.

Freedom Partners’ annual summer conference is set for August 1 through August 3, and is expected to draw 450 of the biggest financiers of the right for sessions about the fiscally conservative policies and politics that animate the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch and many of the donors in their network. Most have the capability to write seven- or even eight-figure checks to the super PACs fueling the GOP presidential primary, and a significant proportion have yet to settle on a 2016 choice, or are considering supporting multiple candidates. That includes Charles and David Koch, as well as Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and hedge fund billionaires Paul Singer, both of whom will be represented at the conference by advisers, and a number of other attendees of past conferences whose 2016 leanings are being closely watched.

Mike Allen is no longer a journalist. He's a pimp.

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Goldman Sachs: Masters of the Eurozone

by Gaius_Publius


Interesting headline, yes? I have a two-point intro and then the piece.

First, when a "private" group's chief individuals flow back and forth constantly between government and that group, the group can be said to be "part" of government, or to have "infiltrated" government, or to have been "folded into" government. (Your phrasing will be determined by who you think is the instigator.)

For example, a network of private "security consulting" firms does standing business with the (Pentagon's) NSA, and by some accounts performs 70% of their work. Are those firms part of the NSA or not? Most would say yes, to a great degree. It's certain that the NSA would collapse without them, and many of these firms would collapse without the NSA (though many have other ... ahem, international ... clients, which starts an entirely different discussion).

As another example, the role of mega-lobbying firms as a fourth branch of government was explored here. Same idea.

In the case of the security firms, one might say they have been "folded into" government. In the case of the lobbying firms, one might say they have "infiltrated" government. I hope you notice the difference; both modes of incorporation occur.

Second, consider how in general the "world of money" and the parallel world of "friends of money" — its enablers, adjuncts, consiglieri and retainers — flow in and out of the world of government, of NGOs, of corporate boards, of foundation boards, attends Davos and the modern Yalta (YES) conference, and so on. Now consider how someone like Hillary Clinton — not money per se, though she has a chunk, but certainly a "friend of money" — ticks off most of those boxes (foundation board, corporate board, government, Davos, Yalta, and so on). There are many people like Hillary Clinton; she's just very front-and-center at the moment.

What we're about to see is the infiltration of "friends of money" into key positions in the eurozone, and in particular, the infiltration of friends of money from one huge repository of money and guardian of its perquisites — the megabank Goldman Sachs — into those governmental positions.


"Goldman Sachs Conquers Europe"

I stole the subhead above from the U.K. paper The Independent. I'm not sure it's a metaphor. Check the chart below and notice how many Goldman Sachs alumni are actually in charge of economic policy in Europe, much like GS alumni are in charge (literally) of economic policy in the U.S. government.


From a 2011 report by The Independent. Click to enlarge.



Which suggests the questions:
  • Where are the current loyalties of these Goldman Sachs employees?
  • Does Goldman Sachs run economic policy in the U.S.?
  • Does Goldman Sachs run economic policy in the eurozone?
A fascinating piece. I'm guessing the authors think the answers above are:
  • To global banking, to "rich take all" economics, and to Goldman Sachs.
  • Yes.
  • Yes.
Now the piece from The Independent (my emphasis). Note that it was written in 2011.
What price the new democracy? Goldman Sachs conquers Europe

The ascension of Mario Monti to the Italian prime ministership is remarkable for more reasons than it is possible to count. By replacing the scandal-surfing Silvio Berlusconi, Italy has dislodged the undislodgeable. By imposing rule by unelected technocrats, it has suspended the normal rules of democracy, and maybe democracy itself. And by putting a senior adviser at Goldman Sachs in charge of a Western nation, it has taken to new heights the political power of an investment bank that you might have thought was prohibitively politically toxic.

This is the most remarkable thing of all: a giant leap forward for, or perhaps even the successful culmination of, the Goldman Sachs Project.

It is not just Mr Monti. The European Central Bank, another crucial player in the sovereign debt drama, is under ex-Goldman management, and the investment bank's alumni hold sway in the corridors of power in almost every European nation, as they have done in the US throughout the financial crisis. Until Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund's European division was also run by a Goldman man, Antonio Borges, who just resigned for personal reasons.

Even before the upheaval in Italy, there was no sign of Goldman Sachs living down its nickname as "the Vampire Squid", and now that its tentacles reach to the top of the eurozone, sceptical voices are raising questions over its influence. The political decisions taken in the coming weeks will determine if the eurozone can and will pay its debts – and Goldman's interests are intricately tied up with the answer to that question.

Simon Johnson, the former International Monetary Fund economist, in his book 13 Bankers, argued that Goldman Sachs and the other large banks had become so close to government in the run-up to the financial crisis that the US was effectively an oligarchy. At least European politicians aren't "bought and paid for" by corporations, as in the US, he says. "Instead what you have in Europe is a shared world-view among the policy elite and the bankers, a shared set of goals and mutual reinforcement of illusions."

This is The Goldman Sachs Project. Put simply, it is to hug governments close. Every business wants to advance its interests with the regulators that can stymie them and the politicians who can give them a tax break, but this is no mere lobbying effort. Goldman is there to provide advice for governments and to provide financing, to send its people into public service and to dangle lucrative jobs in front of people coming out of government. The Project is to create such a deep exchange of people and ideas and money that it is impossible to tell the difference between the public interest and the Goldman Sachs interest.

Mr Monti is one of Italy's most eminent economists, and he spent most of his career in academia and thinktankery, but it was when Mr Berlusconi appointed him to the European Commission in 1995 that Goldman Sachs started to get interested in him. First as commissioner for the internal market, and then especially as commissioner for competition, he has made decisions that could make or break the takeover and merger deals that Goldman's bankers were working on or providing the funding for. Mr Monti also later chaired the Italian Treasury's committee on the banking and financial system, which set the country's financial policies.

With these connections, it was natural for Goldman to invite him to join its board of international advisers. The bank's two dozen-strong international advisers act as informal lobbyists for its interests with the politicians that regulate its work. Other advisers include Otmar Issing who, as a board member of the German Bundesbank and then the European Central Bank, was one of the architects of the euro.

Part of the story involves the former attorney general of Ireland, former voice in Ireland's finances, and current chair of Goldman U.K. broker-dealer operations:
Perhaps the most prominent ex-politician inside the bank is Peter Sutherland, Attorney General of Ireland in the 1980s and another former EU Competition Commissioner. He is now non-executive chairman of Goldman's UK-based broker-dealer arm, Goldman Sachs International, and until its collapse and nationalisation he was also a non-executive director of Royal Bank of Scotland. He has been a prominent voice within Ireland on its bailout by the EU, arguing that the terms of emergency loans should be eased, so as not to exacerbate the country's financial woes. The EU agreed to cut Ireland's interest rate this summer.
I'd love to know what he did as a public official and advisor to government to grease his skid into Goldman, or what Goldman did with him while he was AG to grease his slide to them.

Now notice current ECB head Mario Draghi:
Picking up well-connected policymakers on their way out of government is only one half of the Project, sending Goldman alumni into government is the other half. Like Mr Monti, Mario Draghi, who took over as President of the ECB [European Central Bank] on 1 November, has been in and out of government and in and out of Goldman. He was a member of the World Bank and managing director of the Italian Treasury before spending three years as managing director of Goldman Sachs International between 2002 and 2005 – only to return to government as president of the Italian central bank.
These men are not alone. This is a well-trod two-way street. But that's not the worst of Goldman's sins, in the view of many. This kind of thing is...


How Goldman Sachs Screwed Greece

There's a special place in hell, though, for what Goldman did, and through its "alumni" is doing, to Greece. This has been much covered (if not much read), so I'll quote The Independent, then send you to other sources.
Mr Draghi has been dogged by controversy over the accounting tricks conducted by Italy and other nations on the eurozone periphery as they tried to squeeze into the single currency a decade ago. By using complex derivatives, Italy and Greece were able to slim down the apparent size of their government debt, which euro rules mandated shouldn't be above 60 per cent of the size of the economy. And the brains behind several of those derivatives were the men and women of Goldman Sachs.

The bank's traders created a number of financial deals that allowed Greece to raise money to cut its budget deficit immediately, in return for repayments over time. In one deal, Goldman channelled $1bn of funding to the Greek government in 2002 in a transaction called a cross-currency swap. On the other side of the deal, working in the National Bank of Greece, was Petros Christodoulou, who had begun his career at Goldman, and who has been promoted now to head the office managing government Greek debt. Lucas Papademos, now installed as Prime Minister in Greece's unity government, was a technocrat running the Central Bank of Greece at the time.
Quoting Matt Taibbi from my own 2012 examination of how Goldman screwed Greece and also Jefferson County, Alabama:
In other words, banks like Chase and Goldman knowingly larded up the nation of Greece with a crippling future debt burden, then turned around and helped the world bet against Greek debt. … [D]oes a human being do that deal?

Operations like the Greek swap/short index maneuver were easy money for banks like Goldman and Chase – hell, it’s a no-lose play, like cutting a car’s brake lines and then betting on the driver to crash – but they helped create the monstrous European debt problem that this very minute is threatening to send the entire world economy into collapse, which would result in who knows what horrors.
Here's Taibbi and Thom Hartmann. Here's Taibbi and Democracy Now on the same scam in Jefferson County. A special place in hell...


What Does "National" Government Mean if International Organizations Run Them?

But we're going meta here, and not into hell with Goldman Sachs and the humans who made these decisions. Just as modern so-called "trade" deals are vehicles to bypass sovereign national courts on behalf of the international "investor class," the infiltration of government by organizations that hold much of the wealth of that class is, in effect, a nullification of sovereignty from the inside.

Take just the case of Greece. Goldman Sachs helped make their problem worse. European bankers and other big investors held a ton of Greek sovereign debt when the global crash occurred. Mario Draghi, head of the ECB, former IMF member, former Italian Treasury official, former Goldman official, is now helping put the screws to Greece so bankers like Goldman and their friends, among others, can be paid back despite making risky (and in some cases, immoral) deals.

Bankers profited when the deals were created. Draghi is making sure they won't now suffer harm. Who is Mario Draghi, ex-banker, working for?

Or am I asking the wrong question. Is Goldman Sachs called "Government Sachs" because they — along with the rest of the global investor class — own these governments?

Or are they called "Government Sachs" because they are these governments, ruling their economic policies from a network of corporate boardrooms?

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)

GP


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“If we’re not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens ..."

by Tom Sullivan

“If we’re not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation.”

Acting Under Secretary of Defense Michael W. Wynne speaking in 2006 about using nonlethal weapons such as microwave emitters. Wynne signed the 2004 DoD Airspace Integration Plan for Unmanned Aviation.

Ponder that a moment.

Meanwhile, those little drones are getting just a bit pesky. On July 17:

Fire officials said aircraft sent to battle a wildfire that swept across a Southern California freeway were briefly delayed after five drones were spotted above the blaze.

U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Lee Beyer said it was the fourth time in a span of a month that a drone disrupted efforts to suppress a wildfire in the region. He said some firefighting planes that were in the air were grounded, while several other aircraft that were on the way to the blaze had to be diverted until the drones left the area.

On July 21:

A Lufthansa plane with 108 passengers on board nearly collided with a drone as it approached Warsaw's main airport on Monday afternoon, the airline said on Tuesday.

But those little Chinese-made drones do not worry me so much. I'm worried about "the big Corellian ships now," the kind the military plans to fly from 144 U.S. locations — the Reapers, and Global Hawks with wingspans greater than a 757's. (Go back and re-read the quote at the top.)

At Al Jazeera, Joshua Kopstein is worried about drones used by the police and the FBI:

As I’ve written before, letting police fill the streets and skies with networked cameras is a fast-approaching nightmare scenario for privacy and civil liberties. The combination of persistent aerial surveillance tech with already widespread facial recognition — for example, in the form of drones or manned aircraft making secret surveillance flights for the FBI — robs us of a fundamental right to control what information we reveal through our mere physical presence. When anyone with access to a database can instantly identify and track anyone walking down the street, it destroys the protective barrier between one’s private and public self.

Technology has a multiplier effect, and it’s naive to think police won’t use these tools to optimize predatory practices such as stop and frisk, civil asset forfeiture and discriminatory violence and surveillance. In India, police have adapted drones to shoot pepper spray at protesters. In the U.S., aerial surveillance systems already exist that enable authorities to monitor entire cities and zoom in on objects as small as 6 inches. These ubiquitous, soon-to-be-automated systems and sensors combine to create what Rob Kitchin, a geographer and spatial analysis expert at Maynooth University, calls the “smart city,” which he describes as “an all-seeing, all-tracking, all-reacting system that stifles dissent before it has chance to organize.”

Right out of "Minority Report." There's no chance the NSA would avail itself of all that surveillance tech to violate Americans' privacy, right?

For a panel looking at drafting drone rules in Illinois, Kopstein writes, "not a single privacy or civil liberties group has been invited." Furthermore:

Another panel on facial recognition, which will inevitably be used by police drones, ran into similar problems in Washington, D.C., last month. Nine major privacy and consumer advocacy groups walked out of the talks, convened by the Commerce Department, because tech lobbyists refused to agree to the basic premise that people should be able to walk down the street without being identified and tracked by unknown parties.

But being tracked anywhere is a small price to pay for having Amazon drop a cold six-pack on your doorstep during halftime. Plus, if you have done nothing wrong....


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

 
"An activity I love"

by digby

Just as I cannot bear that little kids are starving or dying from disease, and just as I abhor violence, war and all warlike activity, I am deeply concerned about the fate of animals on our planet. I make no apologies for that.  This makes me heartsick.
Mr Palmer is said to have shot Cecil with a crossbow, injuring the animal. The group didn't find the wounded lion until 40 hours later, when he was shot dead with a gun.

The animal had a GPS collar fitted for a research project by UK-based Oxford University that allowed authorities to track its movements. The hunters tried to destroy it, but failed, according to the ZCTF.

On Monday, the head of the ZCTF charity told the BBC that Cecil "never bothered anybody". 
"He was one of the most beautiful animals to look at," Johnny Rodrigues said.
[...]
The American tourist, who is believed to have paid about $50,000 (£32,000) to go on the hunt, is said to have shot the animal with a crossbow and rifle.

It was later skinned and beheaded, according to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF), a local charity.

Two Zimbabwean men - a professional hunter and a farm owner - have been charged with poaching offences because the group did not have a hunting permit.

They could face up to 15 years in prison in Zimbabwe if they are found guilty. They are due to appear in court on Wednesday.

'An activity I love'

But Mr Palmer, who is thought to be back in the US, insisted that his guides had secured "all proper permits" for the hunt.

"I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

He said he had not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or the US but said he "will assist them in any inquiries they may have".\

"Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion," he added.

Killing lions is anything but responsible and his regrets are worth nothing. This beautiful creature was killed by a rich, American ... sociopath who loves killing rare exotic animals. He shot him with a crossbow and the poor thing suffered for almost 2 days until they found him.

RIP Cecil:


 
The laboratories of democracy settled this Latino issue

by digby

Joe Trippi wrote a useful little primer on one of those experiments in the states which should show the Republicans something:
In 1994, two future GOP presidential hopefuls, Pete Wilson of California and George W. Bush of Texas, formed near-opposite relationships with the Latino community. Their fates, and the fates of their state parties, should tell the national GOP everything it needs to know about how best to handle immigration.

Twenty-one years ago, California was a swing state that leaned GOP. It had voted Republican in six of the last seven presidential elections and sent two of the last six presidents, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, to the White House. Wilson's 1994 reelection marked the fourth straight time the GOP won the governor's mansion.

Now California is overwhelmingly Democratic. What happened? Among other factors, Wilson made the unfortunate decision to support Proposition 187.

Today no Republican holds elected statewide office in California, and Democrats hold a nearly 2-to-1 majority over Republicans in both the state Senate and the Assembly.
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The so-called Save Our State, or SOS, initiative prohibited immigrants in the U.S. illegally from using healthcare and public education in California, effectively denying these services to hundreds of thousands of their children. Anti-immigrant activists spun divisive slogans like “Deport Them All” and “Send Them Home,” while Wilson and the California Republican Party strongly endorsed Proposition 187. Those who stood on the other side were called traitors. When the coauthor of Proposition 187 said at a rally that “you are the posse, and SOS is the rope,” the entanglement of GOP support for 187 with racially intolerant rhetoric was complete.

Proposition 187 passed, but a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional. As Mexico's president, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, decried the law as xenophobic, Wilson and his fellow Republicans doubled down and appealed the court's decision. Although they ultimately failed to enact the law, they did succeed in driving a lasting wedge between the GOP and California's Latino community.

Latino participation in California's elections increased dramatically, and Republicans found it harder and harder to attract their votes. In 1998, Dan Lungren, the GOP nominee for governor, received just 14% of the Latino vote.

Today no Republican holds elected statewide office in California, and Democrats hold a nearly 2-to-1 majority over Republicans in both the state Senate and the Assembly. Since Proposition 187, the state has never voted Republican for president. And Wilson's campaign for the White House in 1996 lasted barely more than a month.

Now let's turn to Texas. In 1994, the Texas Democratic Party was thriving. Two of the last three governors — Mark White and Ann Richards — were Democrats. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, a Texan, had run on the national Democratic ticket for vice president in 1988 and was serving as U.S. Treasury secretary. George W. Bush had narrowly defeated incumbent Richards, but Democrats had been reelected to the offices of lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller and state treasurer.

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When it came to illegal immigration, Bush opposed “the spirit of 187” for Texas, saying he felt that “every child ought to be educated regardless of the status of their parents.”

From his first days as governor, Bush signaled that Mexico was not the enemy. He invited the governors of the five Mexican states closest to Texas to his inauguration and in his speech that day welcomed them, saying, “Friends bring out the best in each other. May our friendship bring much good to both our countries.”

The Texas GOP actively recruited Latinos into the party ranks. Continued outreach — emphasizing inclusion and respect for Latinos — helped the party achieve dominance in a state in which Latinos now approach 40% of the population.

No Democrat has won statewide office in Texas since 1994. As for Bush, he was reelected president in 2004 with one of the highest vote percentages among Latinos ever achieved by a Republican.

So the inclusive approach, derided by many conservatives today, led to dominance for the Republican Party in Texas. And the exclusionary approach, which seems to please the base, led to its virtual extinction in California.
I think the calculation among some Republicans just comes down to the misapprehension which many true believers on both sides always have: "most people agree with me."

The GOP base --- the Tea Party --- doesn't worry about stuff like this because they genuinely believe the country agrees with them on immigration. The party elites know better but there's nothing they can do about it except try to nominate someone who can plausibly keep the base energized without coming across as a screaming xenophobe. Trump's making that very, very difficult for them.

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Blue State Governor Chris Christie must be following a Southern Strategy

by digby

He's writing off the Blue States and even some of the swing states with this:
“If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” Christie, a Republican campaigning for the 2016 presidential nomination, said Tuesday during a town-hall meeting at the Salt Hill Pub in Newport, New Hampshire. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.”

At a time when a majority of Americans say recreational pot use should be legal, and four states have already made it so, Christie remains opposed. The former federal prosecutor said Democratic President Barack Obama has selectively chosen which laws to enforce.

Christie is trying to pump up his candidacy ahead of the first Republican debate on Aug. 6 by talking to voters in New Hampshire, the state with the first primary. Fox News, the debate sponsor, plans to winnow the party’s field of 16 candidates down to 10 using an average of five national polls. The RealClearPolitics polling average currently has Christie in ninth place.

The governor said he believes marijuana alters the brain and serves as a so-called gateway to the use of harder drugs. Pointing to his own administration of New Jersey’s medical marijuana program that he opposes, he said elected officials can’t unilaterally choose which statutes to enforce.

“That’s lawlessness,” he said. “If you want to change the marijuana laws, go ahead and change the national marijuana laws.”
But he's also a big states' rights believer:
As he responded to the question on gun rights, Christie said that "all our rights are given to us by God," not by the government.

It was the second time during the 90-minute meeting that Christie spoke of rights coming from God. He also articulated his support for states' rights: "It was the states that created the federal government, not the federal government that created the states. We need to get back to that philosophy."
If that gives you a headache only a huge hit of indica could cure, it should. He believes in states' rights except for guns, the unfettered rights for which are federally guaranteed, and marijuana which is federally illegal. And probably some other stuff too. Depending on what he wants.

This is not unusual among so-called "states' rights" believers. Liberals use the separate laws in states to advance their agenda too, as they have with pot,  but with a few exceptions they tend to simply say that if states agree with them they'll certainly take it but they believe that since we are one country the laws should apply equally everywhere. They simultaneously work to pass national gun safety and marijuana legalization laws. Conservatives believe in states' rights as a principle --- unless the states are doing something they don't like.

Christie is desperate. He was supposed to be the prime asshole who told voters to "sit down and shut up" and Trump has out-assholed him. Now he's saying Trump is unseemly. Poor guy.

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