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Journal Archives

Borowitz: Americans Favor Legalizing Pot and Criminalizing Congress

Americans Favor Legalizing Pot and Criminalizing Congress
BY ANDY BOROWITZ * The New Yorker * Feb. 26, 2015

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—By a huge majority, Americans support laws legalizing marijuana and criminalizing Congress, according to a poll released on Thursday. While the poll reflects a relaxation of attitudes about recreational pot use, it also suggests that many Americans now view membership in Congress as a problem ravaging the nation.

Harland Dorrinson, an activist who has spent years mobilizing support for the criminalization of Congress, said that “this poll reinforces what many of us have been saying for a long time: Congress destroys lives.”

“I’ve seen productive members of society get involved with Congress and completely lose the will to work,” he said. “They just sit there, totally numb and out of touch with reality.”

He noted that the once prevalent view that membership in Congress was “harmless” is now being discredited. “If you look at what happens to someone’s brain after ten, twenty, or even thirty years in Congress, it’s devastating,” he said. “There is severe impairment.”

Additionally, he warned that Congress is a “gateway elective office” that leads many to try running for President.


Another Take on the Kitz/Hayes Debacle: How dirty media brought down Oregon’s clean-energy governor

It's a rather longish article, but makes some valid points IMHO.

How dirty media brought down Oregon’s clean-energy governor and his activist fiancée
By John de Graaf * The Grist * Feb. 25, 2015

Full disclosure:
I know and admire Cylvia Hayes.
I support the initiatives that she actively promoted.
I have no special knowledge of her financial dealings.

Regardless, I believe the recent attacks on Hayes and her fiancé, former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), have been sensationalized, and are at best misleading. They feel like more of a witch hunt than honest muckraking. Indeed, there was little real muck to rake. A close look at the public record and the media stories attacking the couple reveals a pattern of innuendo, conflicting accusations, and shameless scandal mongering. But before we get to that, let’s go over some background.

Much More: http://grist.org/politics/how-dirty-media-brought-down-oregons-clean-energy-governor-and-his-activist-fiancee/


By Glenn Greenwald * The Intercept * Feb. 26, 2015

The FBI and major media outlets yesterday trumpeted the agency’s latest counterterrorism triumph: the arrest of three Brooklyn men, ages 19 to 30, on charges of conspiring to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS (photo of joint FBI/NYPD press conference, above). As my colleague Murtaza Hussain ably documents, “it appears that none of the three men was in any condition to travel or support the Islamic State, without help from the FBI informant.” One of the frightening terrorist villains told the FBI informant that, beyond having no money, he had encountered a significant problem in following through on the FBI’s plot: his mom had taken away his passport. Noting the bizarre and unhinged ranting of one of the suspects, Hussain noted on Twitter that this case “sounds like another victory for the FBI over the mentally ill.”

In this regard, this latest arrest appears to be quite similar to the overwhelming majority of terrorism arrests the FBI has proudly touted over the last decade. As my colleague Andrew Fishman and I wrote last month — after the FBI manipulated a 20-year-old loner who lived with his parents into allegedly agreeing to join an FBI-created plot to attack the Capitol — these cases follow a very clear pattern:

The known facts from this latest case seem to fit well within a now-familiar FBI pattern whereby the agency does not disrupt planned domestic terror attacks but rather creates them, then publicly praises itself for stopping its own plots.

First, they target a Muslim: not due to any evidence of intent or capability to engage in terrorism, but rather for the “radical” political views he expresses. In most cases, the Muslim targeted by the FBI is a very young (late teens, early 20s), adrift, unemployed loner who has shown no signs of mastering basic life functions, let alone carrying out a serious terror attack, and has no known involvement with actual terrorist groups.

They then find another Muslim who is highly motivated to help disrupt a “terror plot”: either because they’re being paid substantial sums of money by the FBI or because (as appears to be the case here) they are charged with some unrelated crime and are desperate to please the FBI in exchange for leniency (or both). The FBI then gives the informant a detailed attack plan, and sometimes even the money and other instruments to carry it out, and the informant then shares all of that with the target. Typically, the informant also induces, lures, cajoles, and persuades the target to agree to carry out the FBI-designed plot. In some instances where the target refuses to go along, they have their informant offer huge cash inducements to the impoverished target.

Once they finally get the target to agree, the FBI swoops in at the last minute, arrests the target, issues a press release praising themselves for disrupting a dangerous attack (which it conceived of, funded, and recruited the operatives for), and the DOJ and federal judges send their target to prison for years or even decades (where they are kept in special GITMO-like units). Subservient U.S. courts uphold the charges by applying such a broad and permissive interpretation of “entrapment” that it could almost never be successfully invoked.

Once again, we should all pause for a moment to thank the brave men and women of the FBI for saving us from their own terror plots.

MoJo: GOP Congressman to DC Mayor: "You Can Go to Prison" for Legalizing Marijuana"

Republican Congressman to DC Mayor: "You Can Go to Prison" for Legalizing Marijuana
GOPers threatened District leaders with jail for implementing a voter-approved initiative.
By Sam Brodey * Wed Feb. 25, 2015 * Mother Jones

On Wednesday, a tense back-and-forth between congressional Republicans and the District of Columbia government over marijuana laws escalated into a dramatic showdown. In November, DC voters passed Initiative 71, which legalized marijuana—though with some major caveats—by an overwhelming margin. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared this week that the law would take effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. But Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who chairs the House committee that oversees District governance, has taken a hard line, suggesting that Bowser and other city officials could be arrested for moving forward with the law because it goes against the will of Congress. Here's the breakdown of what's happening in our nation's capital.

What Initiative 71 does: The bill, which was approved by 70 percent of DC voters, is relatively modest in its aims, compared to the more robust legalization laws of states like Colorado. It makes the possession of two or fewer ounces of marijuana legal for people 21 and over, and it permits consumption on private property, as well as the cultivation of a limited number of marijuana plants. Marijuana sales remain strictly prohibited—although people can transfer as much as an ounce to each other as long as no money or goods changes hands—and smoking in public is forbidden, too.

How Congress fought it: Congress' central role in overseeing DC law presented obstacles for the implementation of Initiative 71 from the beginning. Chaffetz, a conservative Republican who won a tight contest to become chairman of the House oversight committee, is a longtime foe of legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana. Once the new Congress convened, it had 30 days in which to approve or disapprove the law. Instead, Republicans chose to undermine it through the federal budget: They attached a rider, or amendment, on this year's $1.1 trillion budget that shuts down the pot law. The rider bars DC from using any funds to "enact or carry out any law, rule, or regulation to legalize or otherwise reduce penalties associated with the possession, use, or distribution of any schedule I substance."

How DC fought back: The city government has argued that since voters passed the law before Congress attached the rider, the prohibition is not valid, and the law should stand. Pro-pot Washingtonians have insisted the only legitimate way Congress can block legalization is through a Resolution of Disapproval, in which the entire body votes against the law after the review period. No such action was taken.

MORE: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/02/washington-dc-mayor-bowser-jail-legalize-marijuana

Coalition of Cops Heads to D.C. to Demand the Broken and Brutal Police System Be Fixed

But will Obama & Congressional Dems Listen? I certainly hope so.

Coalition of Police Officers Heads to D.C. to Demand the Broken and Brutal Police System Be Fixed
By Jay Syrmopoulos * February 24, 2015 * Free Thought Project

Washington, D.C. – The National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice, Reform and Accountability (NCLEO) is a contingent of current and retired law enforcement officers and whistleblowers. NCLEO will be meeting with a congressional delegation that includes civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to discuss policing reform.

These former officers seek to assist in helping to reform a system that is severely broken and many times entirely devoid of justice. Problems that range from racial profiling and police brutality to the lack transparency in relation to allegations and complaints of misconduct by officers will be addressed.

“Modern policing is in a crisis that could lead to a revolution. We need a paradigm shift to get rid of antiquated policing. The insular culture of law enforcement and mental health issues in cops need to be addressed, as well as ingrained racism,” said NCLEO member Alex Salazar, a former LAPD cop turned whistleblower, in an interview with The Free Thought Project.

All too often we see the police, as well as prosecutors, ignore officer misconduct and in effect passively support the status quo of a broken justice system. To the public at large the “us vs. them” mentality held by law enforcement emboldens an anti-police response from the public and only serves to create a greater divide.

This group of former, retired, and current officers heading to D.C. represents departments from across the U.S.. LEOs from St. Louis, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC Metro, Albuquerque, East Orange, New Jersey, Brockton, MA and the US Marshal Service will be in attendance.

Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/police-officers-head-d-c-lobby-systemic-policing-reform/#rp8gp4TZIjcxPJLW.99

Suck it up, Snowden-haters: New Yorker on "Why Citizenfour Deserved Its Oscar"

Why “Citizenfour” Deserved Its Oscar
BY AMY DAVIDSON * FEBRUARY 22, 2015 * The New Yorker

“Thank you to Edward Snowden for his courage,” Laura Poitras, the director of “Citizenfour,” said as she accepted the Oscar for best documentary. Neil Patrick Harris, the award show’s host, noted that Snowden couldn’t be there “for some treason.” Treason isn’t one of the crimes Snowden has been charged with—the government wants to prosecute him under the Espionage Act—but both the praise and the joke point to why this Snowden Oscar mattered. What he did was useful, and dangerous.

That wouldn’t have been enough if the movie were bad. But “Citizenfour” is worth watching, as well as celebrating. One still has to ask where the cinematic romance is. At the Oscars, an answer was provided by the young woman onstage with Poitras: Lindsay Mills, the woman whom Snowden at first left behind when he left his job and everything else for a hotel room in Hong Kong. One of the minor revelations of “Citizenfour” was that Mills had joined him in Moscow.

“Just walk me through it,” Glenn Greenwald tells Edward Snowden, in that Hong Kong hotel room. The guidance Greenwald and his colleagues look for is of three distinct kinds: How do you keep secrets? Why would Snowden tell secrets? And what has the government been hiding?

The first is the most one-sided. Greenwald, as the narration delicately makes clear, initially can’t figure out or can’t be bothered to set up the encrypted line of communication needed to satisfy the mysterious source who e-mails him—this is why Snowden turns to Laura Poitras, who knows exactly what he’s talking about when he asks, in their first exchanges, about her public keys. (George Packer wrote a Profile of Poitras for The New Yorker.) Snowden shows Greenwald how to do it (“It seems hard, but it’s not—this is super-easy”), and why he should. Here is one of the practical, paradoxical gifts of the Snowden affair: don’t give up on the idea that your words can be secret, at least slightly more secret than is convenient for companies or spies. If you are a little disciplined, you can be freer. There is a lovely shot of Greenwald’s face when Snowden, who is about to enter a password, asks for his “magic mantle of power,” a red sweatshirt, and pulls it over his head, as if he were a man running in the rain, or a teen-ager with a flashlight under his blankets. Looking at him, Greenwald, whom we’ve already encountered as a big talker, is, for a moment, only quiet and curious, with barely a flicker in his expression before he asks, “Is that about the possibility of—overhead?” Greenwald adds that nothing will surprise him anymore. His tone in that instant is one that the film, for all the scenes with angry activists, ultimately shares, and why the film works—neither titillated nor portentous, and just abashed enough to keep its importance from becoming self-importance.

More: http://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson/is-citizenfour-worth-celebrating

Orwellian Police Software Scans Social Media & Assigns Citizens a Threat Rating (VIDEO)

This is our future folks, brought to you by the 1% Oligarchy with a lot of help from Koch Bros. the GOP and (sad to say) Third Wayers. Police will undoubtedly use this to decide the level of deadly force to use in police SWAT raids on homes, which is already highly problematic.

Take-Away: So BE VERY CAREFUL WHAT YOU POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA, because it may well incite lethal police violence against you down the road. Free speech my ass.

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Orwellian Police Software Scans Social Media and Assigns Citizens a Threat Rating
By Cassandra Rules * February 22, 2015 * Free Thought Project / ABC News

Fresno, CA– Don’t use the word “rage” on social media, or you may have an anti-police mentality. At least that’s the case according to Chief Dyer of the Fresno Police Department and their new social media scanning software called “Beware.”

Embedded ABC News VIDEO: http://thefreethoughtproject.com/fresno-police-threat-level-software-responding-calls/#VvH15wCW5XuXJgy2.99

The Orwellian software, which we have previously reported on, is designed to assess the risk involved when officers respond to calls at any given address. However it is likely to build even more mistrust among trigger happy police and create more danger for those they like to claim that they “protect and serve.”

The software compiles all information on any given person, or people at an address in which officers are responding. It then computes a numerical threat score or risk index for each person to assign a color-coded threat rating. Not only does the Beware software pull up social security numbers, previous and current addresses, phone numbers, and other personal information but it scans your social media as well.

A reporter from ABC who voluntarily had himself assessed turned up a threat rating of ‘green’ with a score of zero. Another woman who had simply tweeted about a card game involving the word “rage” triggered a higher threat rating since the word “rage” apparently signifies an anti-police mentality.

“It doesn’t make them a criminal necessarily, some of those comments, but it certainly gives the officer an awareness that this person may have an anti-police sentiment and be an increasing level of threat to them,” Chief Dyer told ABC regarding the woman’s threat level.

This software has already been rejected in one city in Washington state. It is also majorly contended by privacy and human rights activists. However, Fresno has decided to jump on the opportunity to use the product for free for 18 months as a test market of sorts.

More: http://thefreethoughtproject.com/fresno-police-threat-level-software-responding-calls/

New Yorker: Jeb, Hillary, and the Money Primary

Jeb, Hillary, and the Money Primary
by John Cassidy * FEBRUARY 18, 2015 * The New Yorker

In today’s political news: Presidential candidates, money, Wall Street billionaires, and foreign governments. If you want to read an uplifting story about Jeffersonian democracy in action, this post isn’t for you. If you want to be reminded of how American politics actually works, keep reading.

First up: Jeb Bush. For a couple of months now, journalists have been going along with the fiction that he isn’t yet fully committed to the 2016 Presidential campaign, and is merely in the preparatory stage. In a lengthy story on Politico, Ben White and Marc Caputo reveal the truth: the Bush campaign is already in full flight, but for now it is concentrating on one-per-centers rather than on the electorate at large.

Last week, on his sixty-second birthday, Bush travelled to New York, where Henry Kravis, the private-equity tycoon, threw him a party-cum-fundraiser. Here’s a description of the event, from White and Caputo:

Bush celebrated in Kravis’ 26-room penthouse with more than 40 of the richest people in New York. Among them were Bush’s cousin, George Walker IV, the chief executive of the investment management firm of Neuberger Berman, and real estate mogul Jerry Speyer, along with Ken Mehlman and Alex Navab of Kravis’ firm, KKR. The admission price: a minimum of $100,000, also the going rate for other Bush fundraisers. Guests took an elevator straight to the foyer and noshed on salmon and other hors d’oeuvres while listening to Bush talk about strategy for the upcoming campaign.

Fund-raising isn’t an incidental part of Bush’s preparations; in fact, it appears to be the main reason he delayed a public announcement that he’s running. Since he’s still not officially a candidate, he isn’t bound by campaign-finance rules governing Presidential campaigns. This means that he can raise large sums of money with fewer restrictions. Speaking in Iowa last week, Joe Biden suggested that 2016 could be the first four-billion-dollar campaign—two billion for each candidate, versus the estimated $1.1 billion and $1.2 billion spent by Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, respectively, in 2012. Biden might not be too far off the mark. In any case, Bush has cleverly structured things so that he can raise a boatload of money. Next week, he’s scheduled to attend another lavish fund-raiser, this one in Palm Beach, where he could raise five million dollars. Kenneth Gross, a former attorney for the Federal Election Commission, suggested to White and Caputo that Bush was creating a new template for Presidential campaigns: money first, politics later.

The other news of the day that’s attracting the attention of the political world also relates to fund-raising, and it involves the Clinton Foundation, which Bill Clinton set up in 2001 to promote anti-poverty programs and other philanthropic projects around the world. In today’s Wall Street Journal, James V. Grimaldi and Rebecca Ballhaus revealed that the New York-based charitable foundation has recently received a number of donations from overseas governments, including those of Germany, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Canada’s Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development Agency, which is responsible for promoting the Keystone XL pipeline.



THIS is our "Democratic POTUS's" NSA spying agency at work, operating above the law, committing felonious crimes in broad daylight, to spy on ALL OF US, at will. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the scope of this revelation, but so far, it's a painful 'fit'.

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BY JEREMY SCAHILL AND JOSH BEGLEY * Feb. 19, 2015 * The Intercept

AMERICAN AND BRITISH spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data.

The company targeted by the intelligence agencies, Gemalto, is a multinational firm incorporated in the Netherlands that makes the chips used in mobile phones and next-generation credit cards. Among its clients are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world. The company operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities. One of its three global headquarters is in Austin, Texas and it has a large factory in Pennsylvania.

In all, Gemalto produces some 2 billion SIM cards a year. Its motto is “Security to be Free.”

With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider’s network that the communications were intercepted. Bulk key theft additionally enables the intelligence agencies to unlock any previously encrypted communications they had already intercepted, but did not yet have the ability to decrypt.

As part of the covert operations against Gemalto, spies from GCHQ — with support from the NSA — mined the private communications of unwitting engineers and other company employees in multiple countries.

Gemalto was totally oblivious to the penetration of its systems — and the spying on its employees. “I’m disturbed, quite concerned that this has happened,” Paul Beverly, a Gemalto executive vice president, told The Intercept. “The most important thing for me is to understand exactly how this was done, so we can take every measure to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, and also to make sure that there’s no impact on the telecom operators that we have served in a very trusted manner for many years. What I want to understand is what sort of ramifications it has, or could have, on any of our customers.” He added that “the most important thing for us now is to understand the degree” of the breach.


BOROWITZ : Bush Says He Will Harm Nation Differently from His Brother

Bush Says He Will Harm Nation Differently from His Brother
BY ANDY BOROWITZ * FEBRUARY 18, 2015 * The New Yorker

CHICAGO (The Borowitz Report) — In an effort to distance himself from the legacy of his brother, George W. Bush, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will use a major foreign-policy speech on Wednesday to assert that, if elected President, he would harm the nation in completely different ways.

“A lot of people are looking at me and thinking that I’m just going to be a rerun of my brother,” Bush told reporters before the speech. “They are greatly underestimating my ability to create chaos and destruction in ways that are uniquely mine.”

As an example, Bush said, he was unlikely to invade Iraq for a third time, calling such an action “too derivative.”

“George already did it, and Dad did it before him,” he said. “Call it my independent streak, if you will, but I want to spawn some disasters of my own.”

To that end, Bush said that he and his foreign-policy team were already scanning the globe for “new and different places” where the United States could become involved in open-ended and pointless quagmires.

“I see boundless opportunities for the reckless and totally optional insertion of American military force,” he said. “No offense to my brother, but there were a few spots that George missed.”

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