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Gender: Male
Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 40,054

About Me

Blocked on Twitter by that rat bastard fuck @ggreenwald

Journal Archives

Poll: 42% oppose private drone ownership

According to a Reuters/Ipsos online poll, 42 percent of Americans oppose private ownership of drones.

That’s an impressive number, particularly considering that the pollsters say many of the respondents were surveyed before a quad copter crashed on the White House grounds last week. I wonder too if some respondents had confused small consumer unmanned aerial vehicles for the “killing-machine” drones utilized to an unprecedented extent by the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, the percentage of people calling for mere regulation of the small aircrafts almost seems low, at 73 percent. That a full 27 percent of Americans who believe flying robots carrying cameras or other invasive devices, should go fully unregulated (or else they don’t know). This regulation from the Federal Aviation Administration has been late in coming, after two years of debates and revisions.


Hong Kong bitcoin exchange MyCoin believed to be a $386M ponzi scheme

It’s been just two weeks since the bitcoin ecosystem celebrated news of the first regulated United States bitcoin exchange, launched by Coinbase. Today, the industry is once again being reminded just how important this level of oversight and scrutiny can be. The South China Morning Post reports that Hong Kong’s MyCoin exchange has shut down, taking with it as much as $386 million of investor funds.

Unlike most prior bitcoin scandals – of which there are many – the funds in question are not client trading deposits, but rather a form of equity investments. MyCoin was selling what it described as bitcoin contracts, under which the company would give its “clients” a return of 90 bitcoin ($19,080) after just four months on an investment of just HK$400,000 ($51,560). The victims are everyday citizens who authorities now suspect were the unwitting participants in a ponzi scheme. The company previously claimed that it had raised at least HK$1 million ($128,900) from 3,000 clients. Authorities have yet to corroborate this astonishing sum.

The Post now reports investors were promised to see their money more than double in four months, causing many to mortgage their properties for additional funds to invest. Others report being offered prizes like cash or Mercedes cars for recruiting additional investors. Investors were prohibited from cashing out their investments unless they recruited additional clients. The company hosted fundraising events at luxury hotels across China throughout the last year.

The biggest victim is believe to have invested HK$50 million ($6,445,000). Clients reportedly don’t have any physical documentation backing up their investment, only trading contracts on the MyCoin’s erstwhile exchange.

One female victim with the surname Lau, who lost $1.3 million, tells the Post, “No one seems to know who is behind this. Everyone says they too are victims … but we were told by those at higher tiers that we can get our money back if we find more new clients.”



How the ACLU, Ron Paul and a former EFF Director helped jail a CIA whistleblower

CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, who went public about torture programs and was later jailed for leaking the name of a covert CIA agent, was just released from prison to serve out the remaining months of his sentence under house arrest. Kiriakou is the first CIA spy ever jailed for leaking secrets, and only the second American ever convicted under a 1982 law making it a crime to publicly identify covert CIA agents.

The story of how that law, the “Intelligence Identities Protection Act,” came to be is an important and depressing story in its own right, one that’s been totally forgotten. And for good reason: Bad memories are best suppressed, until they creep back up and become a serious “now” problem, and you need to figure out how things got to this point.

The story behind the 1982 law used to jail Kiriakou fills in some of the blanks about how the modern secrecy apparatus was first put together beginning in the Reagan-Bush years. It also reveals the complicity and collaboration of our leading civil libertarians in creating the secrecy-and-censorship leviathan that these same civil libertarians claim to be fighting today on our behalf. Everyone from the ACLU, libertarian hero Ron Paul, even the first executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation was complicit in giving us the anti-whistleblower law that put John Kiriakou in prison.

First, some background. Before 1982, there was no law making it illegal to publish the name of a covert CIA agent. And until the early-mid 1970s, there was no need for one: self-censorship in the establishment media kept this problem to an absolute minimum. But by the mid-1970s—with Watergate, the humiliating defeat in Vietnam, and shocking exposés on CIA programs spying on American dissidents at home, assassinating foreign leaders overseas, and running bizarre behavior modification drug experiments—the country’s mood had swung sharply leftward, anti-authority, and especially anti-CIA.

Journalists and whistleblowers who uncovered CIA spies and operations were suddenly the new pop culture heroes, while the CIA became Hollywood’s pop culture villains, whose evil needed almost no explanation. Polls showed the percentage of Americans who distrusted government rose from 22 percent in 1964, to 62 percent in 1974. Ratings that the CIA would’ve envied: polls showed the Agency was “highly regarded” by just 14 percent of Americans, and just 7 percent of college students. As the Church and Pike Committee hearings exposed CIA scandal after scandal, liberals in Congress like Ron Dellums and Mo Udall were calling for completely gutting or abolishing the Agency outright.


The case for a non-white Spider-Man

Spider-Man will soon be joining the likes of Iron Man and Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but will the man underneath the mask be black or white?

Here's how thousands of social media users have reacted to news of a deal between Sony Pictures and Walt Disney that means Spiderman may now be in an Avengers movie: they've begun a debate about Spidey's race. So far there have been two big-screen iterations of Spiderman swinging through New York, and in both of them Spidey's alter-ego has been the lily-white Peter Parker. But now, some comic books fans online now say it is time for a different webslinger to take over - specifically they want a teenager named Miles Morales.

The Morales character has a Hispanic and black background, and has been featured in the comic book version since 2011. Morales took over when Peter Parker died in the Ultimate line of comics, and his looks were based on US President Barack Obama and actor Donald Glover.

So will the new film incarnation of Spider-Man follow suit? Over the past 24 hours, around 5,000 people used Miles Morales' name on Twitter and a hashtag of his name seems to have been briefly trending. On Tuesday, #donaldforspiderman - a reference to the possiblity of Glover playing Morales in a movie version - also got a boost with more than 3,000 tweets. However, many more people online were discussing Peter Parker and the most recent Spidey actor, Andrew Garfield.

"I would be so excited to see #MilesMorales Spider-Man on the big screen!" said one fan. "MCU definitely has enough white guys."

Heroes from minority backgrounds have been rare in the comics world. Most of the ones featured actually have the word "black" as part of their alter egos (Black Lighting and Black Panther, among others). And so when Morales came along, he was seen as a breakthrough by many - an A-list non-white character with critically acclaimed stories and a sizeable fan base.


ARGUMENT: What Germany Owes Ukraine

a state visit to Hungary on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated what has become her mantra ever since Russian tanks, men, and materiel began pouring over the border into Ukraine last spring. “I am convinced that this conflict cannot be solved militarily,” the Queen of Europe, now entering her 10th year as the most powerful leader on the continent, said.

If only Vladimir Putin agreed.

Almost immediately following its stealth invasion of Crimea and subsequent illegal annexation of the peninsula last march, Russia began supplying arms and tactical support to rebels in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region. Soon thereafter, Russian soldiers themselves joined the fight. Official Russian claims to the contrary, the steady trickle of body bags back to Mother Russia over the past year has attested to the presence of Russian forces fighting (and dying) in Ukraine. In the past two weeks, pro-Russian rebels, emboldened by the support they have received from regular Russian military forces, have killed dozens of Ukrainian civilians, including children, by firing shells indiscriminately into non-combatant areas like transit stops.

Putin’s strategy is clear. He intends to punish Ukraine for ousting its pro-Russian leader, Viktor Yanukovych, and for having the gall to seek a western political orientation. And he intends to do so by rendering it a failed state. A semi-permanent condition of low-intensity armed conflict in the East serves that function. To secure his grip on Crimea, Putin also seeks to establish a land bridge connecting it to the Russian mainland, which explains the increased military activity around Donetsk and Mariupol in recent weeks.

Putin seems to have no misgivings about using military means to achieve his goals.Putin seems to have no misgivings about using military means to achieve his goals. Which is why, according to the Ukrainian government, there are currently some 15,000 Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory and an untold higher number amassed at the border, ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice. A cease-fire agreement signed in Minsk last fall — in which Merkel and other European diplomats naively invested much hope — is no longer worth the paper it was written on, if it ever was.


Why Russia Will Escalate

The war in Ukraine will not be settled by negotiations and is likely to see a further escalation of Russian military involvement. Russia’s war against Ukraine is an outcome of three objectives pursued by Moscow. First, Moscow wants to have Ukraine in its exclusive sphere; second, it aims to destabilize the European political order by maintaining an open conflict on Europe’s frontier; and third, it wants to avoid a protracted war of attrition.

The first goal has been amply examined: Putin considers Western institutions – EU and in particular NATO – as enemies that threaten not just Russia but also the stability of the existing regime in Moscow (and in Putin’s mind the two – Russia and his personal power – are congruent). The second goal is related to the first one. Given that Russia cannot compete with Europe on the basis of economic efficiency and political appeal, it has to do so with the form of power in which it has some advantage: brute force. Finally, the third objective is a negative one. Putin cannot afford to fight a protracted war because of the economic costs (including those imposed by sanctions) as well as political ones (a steady trickle of Russian casualties will do little to shore up Putin’s popularity).

The problem for Moscow is that these three objectives are difficult to align. In fact, the pursuit of one may undermine the ability to achieve another. Continued tensions sponsored by Moscow in Eastern Ukraine will result in even stronger anti-Russian sentiments in the Kiev, and correspondingly deeper aspirations for close relations with the West. Similarly, a war of attrition may be difficult to avoid if Moscow wants to maintain a prolonged presence in Ukraine in order to keep it a source of geopolitical instability generating divisions within the European Union.

The preferred scenario from Moscow’s perspective would be one in which the war ends quickly, before Ukraine gets its act together militarily (and before the U.S. decides to arm Kiev), while achieving some version of the first two objectives. A territorially truncated Ukraine, with a Russian puppet statelet in the eastern oblasts linking Russia with Crimea, will of course satisfy such objectives as Kiev is unlikely to accept such loss. An unresolved territorial conflict will impede Ukraine’s westward march while at the same time it will be a violent reminder of Europe’s inability to deal with military threats, the Achilles’s heel of the post-modern political architecture built in Brussels.


Charlie Sifford, Pioneer of the PGA

Long before Tiger Woods, there was Charlie Sifford.

A far less-heralded trailblazer, Sifford became the first black man to hold a PGA Tour card in 1961, doing for the highly-segregated world of professional golf what Jackie Robinson had done for baseball a decade-and-a-half earlier. He died Tuesday night in Cleveland at the age of 92, having finally earned the recognition toward the end of his life that had eluded him during his prime playing days. Sifford became the first African American inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2004, and 10 years later he joined Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer as the only professional golfers to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Tributes to Sifford poured in on Wednesday from leaders in sports, entertainment, and politics. President Obama lauded him "for altering the course of the sport and the country he loved." Woods, who said his father might not have picked up the game had it not been for Sifford, called his death "a terrible loss for golf and me personally."


Chinese hackers may be responsible for the Anthem breach

Source: WaPo

The massive computer breach against Anthem, the nation’s second-largest health insurer, exposes a growing cyberthreat facing health-care companies that experts say are often unprepared for large attacks.

Hackers gained access to the private data of 80 million former and current members and employees of Anthem in one of the largest medical-related cyber-intrusions in history.

Authorities said the breach, which was discovered late last month and disclosed this week, did not involve private health records or credit card numbers but did expose Social Security numbers, income data, birthdays, and street and e-mail addresses.

Investigators suspect Chinese hackers may be responsible for the breach, according to a person briefed on some aspects of the probe. There are also some indications that other health-care companies may have been targeted, said the individual, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

Security experts said health care has become one of the ripest targets for hackers because of its vast stores of lucrative financial and medical information. Health insurers and hospitals, they added, have often struggled to mount the kinds of defenses­ used by large financial or retail companies, leaving key medical information vulnerable.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2015/02/06/the-switchboard-chinese-hackers-may-be-responsible-for-the-anthem-breach/

In before the usual dismissive "But the U.S. does it too" -derpitude....

Right on cue, Glenn Greenwald turns an ISIS atrocity into an anti-Obama screed...

(and no, I am not linking to it--although even his most ardent defenders must notice an unmistakable pattern by now)

What kind of alchemy is this? There isn't a single newsworthy tragedy in the world that Greenwald doesn't try to negate with something directly related to Obama or U.S. foreign policy...

Anybody finally want to start admitting I've been right about him and his "brand" of agenda-based slant journalism?


I rest my case...Does anyone still want to defend his "because-America-did-something-once-everyone-else-should-stfu" moral equivocating?

The fiction ends here

There’s war between Russia and Ukraine. If you are new to this conflict, or have relied on nothing but radio and TV news, you might however think it’s a war between a horrible nazi state and peace-loving rebels.

So-called “established media” – championed by BBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera, New York Times, The Guardian, The Independent and what have you – as represented by their indifferent, disinterested and ill-researched journalists, have dished out a Russian propaganda narrative ever since the Russian military invasion of Crimea. The narrative, or “story”, wants you to believe that fighting in Ukraine is a clash between Ukrainian regular troops (or even “troops loyal to Kiev”) and so-called “rebels”, “separatists” and “pro-russia forces”. The latter category is usually writ without citation marks, a not so minor omission that lends a measure of validity to a shaky concept.

This is a fiction.

It is high time to puncture the myth and the fiction surrounding these “rebels” and “separatists”, and to STOP using Russian semantics in reports and commentary about Ukraine.

The fiction has gained traction through a wide distribution of these concepts, not merely in media but also through politicians, security experts and other pundits who are widely cited among peers, thus making the wrongful use of misleading words permanent and exceedingly difficult to dislodge.

It’s a question of semantics: of the meaning and use of words, of association, of reference, substitution, concept and interpretation – classic topics that journalism schools worldwide should have on the curriculum. However, a quick glance shows that a very large proportion of commentators must have slept through that particular class.

The standard interpretation of “rebel” turns your mind to romantic guerilla warriors rising against an oppressive central power: Che Guevara, Pancho Villa, Guiseppe Garibaldi, Spartacus et al – or popular culture rebel icons such as James Dean, Robin Hood and Marlon Brando. It’s easy to like the rebel: he’s an underdog fighting for the people, for justice, for freedom. The Russian “rebels” have NOTHING in common with that concept or such role models.

The dictionary says that a rebel is someone rising in opposition against an established regime, brandishing pitchforks and Kalashnikovs doled out of cupboards and illicit crates. This is a decent description that could also apply to the “rebels” in Ukraine – were it not for the fact that 80-90% (opinions vary) of the “rebels” in Donbas comprise uniformed citizens of Russia, some hailing from Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Belarus and the farthest reaches of Wherever. The homegrown component of the”rebel army” is melting away daily and is used primarily as a fig leaf for regular Russian troops in their own or borrowed uniforms.

If these “rebels” were truly rebels, they would, as Russians, turn around and train their guns on Moscow, not Kyiv.

It is therefore gravely misleading to use the “rebel” title as description of Russian and/or Russian-backed militants fighting in Ukraine.


Much, much more at the link...Sadly, 99% of the DUers who most need to read this won't...But they'll still be calling anyone opposing the Russian invasion a "neofascist" or whatever...
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