Member since: Tue May 13, 2008, 03:07 AM
Number of posts: 8,012
Number of posts: 8,012
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Smearing a Progressive Website to Support Israel
Like many other news websites, Common Dreams has been plagued by inflammatory anti-Semitic comments following its stories. But on Common Dreams these posts have been so frequent and intense they have driven away donors from a nonprofit dependent on reader generosity. A Common Dreams investigation has discovered that more than a thousand of these damaging comments over the past two years were written with a deceptive purpose by a Jewish Harvard graduate in his thirties who was irritated by the website's discussion of issues involving Israel.
His intricate campaign, which he has admitted to Common Dreams, included posting comments by a screen name, "JewishProgressive," whose purpose was to draw attention to and denounce the anti-Semitic comments that he had written under many other screen names. The deception was many-layered. At one point he had one of his characters charge that the anti-Semitic comments and the criticism of the anti-Semitic comments must be written by "internet trolls who have been known to impersonate anti-Semites in order to then double-back and accuse others of supporting anti-Semitism"--exactly what he was doing. (Trolls are posters who foment discord.)
The impersonation, this character wrote, must be part of an "elaborate Hasbara setup," referring to an Israeli international public-relations campaign. When Common Dreams finally confronted the man behind the deceptive posting, he denied that he himself was involved with Hasbara. His posting on Common Dreams illustrates the susceptibility of website comment threads to massive manipulation. As another illustration, he even audaciously tricked the white-supremacist Vanguard News Network, posing as "DeShawn S. Williams," a "Pro-White/Black, anti-jew." On Vanguard, where this African-American persona posted more than 1,400 times, he encouraged the malevolence of Frazier Glenn Miller, the neo-Nazi accused of killing three people whom he believed were Jews outside a Jewish community center and retirement home in Kansas in April. The character Williams was engaged in a comment thread more than 200 times with Miller, whose screen name was Rounder.
In a Vanguard post under the Williams screen name the commenter asked rhetorically, "Are left wing folks finally waking up to the jew?" He then referred the Vanguard online community to a thread of anti-Semitic comments on Common Dreams--most of which he had written himself under several screen names. A typical DeShawn Williams comment might include: "Israel is a stain on the world that needs to be expunged once and for all." Or: "The jews are the most racist people on earth. Just look at their Talmud. They consider the 'goyim' (non-jews) to be cattle whose only purpose on earth is to serve them." But on Common Dreams, DeShawn S. Williams was only one among dozens of screen-name characters this poster created. They seemed to be in competition to revile Jews. Here's how "HamBaconEggs," the site's most prolific anti-Semitic persona, began a conversation last October:
A few posts later the HamBaconEggs character was taken to task for his hatred of Jews by the JewishProgressive character, who responded to another (sincere) poster who had pointed out the anti-Semitism :
Posted by Segami | Wed Aug 20, 2014, 12:22 PM (21 replies)
Last month, Jon Stewart challenged John McCain to a "Wrong Off," betting that all the times Senator McCain has been wrong about, well, anything, far outnumbers the times Stewart has been proven wrong. I thought about that, when John McCain was on a Sunday talk show last weekend (State of the Union on CNN), this time as some kind of supposed expert on Iraq. The network, as pretty much all the other networks have, gave him an unfettered block of TV time to criticize the president, and lay out what he would do. Why? The number of times that Senator McCain hasn't just been wrong, but deadly wrong, on matters of our security is nearly impossible to count. Maybe the DC fishbowl has convinced itself that Senator McCain has been prescient. Well, I'm here to give them a quick education, because many of us who have served in the these conflicts are less convinced.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN -- WRONG ON IRAQ
In the leadup to the Iraq war, Senator McCain told anyone who would listen that there was a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Among many, many others, the 9/11 Commission found that not to be true. Senator McCain said he, like Dick Cheney, thought we would be welcomed as liberators. Of course, we now look back at that warm welcome -- over 4,400 dead American troops, tens of thousands upon tens of thousands wounded. In Iraq in 2003 it became apparent quickly there were no WMD on the ground, a complete error in judgement. After seeing that he was so, so wrong on Iraq, you think people would stop asking him about it. Or, you would think Senator McCain would slip out the back door. But, nope. He kept talking....
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN -- WRONG ON THE SURGE IN IRAQ
Instead of saying, "Wow, John McCain was wrong on Iraq. Let's not ask him about the disaster it is turning in to," everyone in DC apparently had collective amnesia, and turned to Senator McCain as a legitimate opinion on what to do. Having screwed up badly in supporting the launch of a war in Iraq, John McCain didn't quit. He didn't just support the idea of surge of troops in Iraq -- he wrote the Senate resolution in support of it. That resolution stated that a surge of troops would help the Iraqis meet all sorts of benchmarks -- from disarming militias, to creating a power sharing government, to settling and splitting oil revenues. Of course, that didn't happen, as I, and others, predicted, when we opposed the surge. The reason was simple -- the surge was a "shaping operation." It might set conditions for success by providing greater security, but the definitive endstate -- the true goal of the surge -- fell to Iraqi political leaders, who were nowhere near ready to settle their differences. And, here we are today. The surge failed at doing what Senator McCain predicted it would. Iraq still doesn't make all groups feel inclusive (which has led to Sunnis letting ISIS get as far as it has). There is no settlement on oil revenues. Sunnis have been isolated by the Maliki government. All the surge did was keep the cork on the bottle, but all of the underlying issues remained, to the point that we now have to send special forces back into Iraq.
read the other John McCain 'wrongs':
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN -- WRONG ON THE END OF THE WAR IN IRAQ
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN -- WRONG ON ARMING SYRIAN REBELS
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN -- WRONG ON THE SURGE IN AFGHANISTAN
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN -- WRONG ON LIBYA
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN -- WRONG ON THE GI BILL
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN -- WRONG ON DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL
Posted by Segami | Wed Aug 20, 2014, 01:03 AM (6 replies)
A new petition on the Whitehouse.gov site has reached more than the necessary number of signatures to receive an official response from the government. The petition is calling for the creation of a, “Mike Brown Law,” which would require officers active on duty to wear a helmet or body camera that would record their interactions with the public at all times. The idea is not new. In 2012, Rialto, California adopted a policy essentially the same as the proposed Mike Brown Law. The city began requiring police officers on duty to start wearing small cameras that could be attached either to an officer’s sunglasses or collar. The cameras cost about $900 dollars each. They can hold up to 12 hours of full color footage and upload their footage via a cloud system. After one year researchers found that after requiring the Rialto police to wear the cameras complaints against officers from citizens dropped by 88% and “use of force” dropped by 59% of the policy yields similar results on a nation-wide basis. Mike Brown or many of the nearly 5,000 other Americans killed by the police between 2003 and 2009 could still be alive today had a nationwide policy that produces a 59% “use of force” decrease.
The idea is very popular. In just six days the petition has received approximately, 123,000 signatures. The threshold a petition must receive to have an official response from the Obama administration is 100,000 signatures in 30 days. The language of the petition reads as follows,
“Create a bill, sign into law, and set aside funds to require all state,county, and local police, to wear a camera. Due to the latest accounts of deadly encounters with police, We the People, petition for the Mike Brown Law. Create a bill, sign into law, and set aside funds to require all state,county, and local police, to wear a camera.The law shall be made in an effort to not only detour police misconduct(i.e. brutality, profiling, abuse of power), but to ensure that all police are following procedure, and to remove all question, from normally questionable police encounters. As well, as help to hold all parties within a police investigation, accountable for their actions.”
Posted by Segami | Wed Aug 20, 2014, 12:11 AM (19 replies)
"..Zephyr Teachout will change the Democratic Party. For real. This is a big one. Help out now..."
Almost every week, we write to you about a great Democrat who deserves your support. This one's different, and here's why:
It's not that Zephyr Teachout isn't a great candidate and a great progressive; she is. She was the online organizing director for Howard Dean's antiwar Presidential run more than ten years ago, and since then she's gone on to a remarkable career as a law professor, scholar and anti-corruption advocate. Her work has even been cited by the Supreme Court's dissent in Citizens United, and she has been a general thorn in the side of power. And it's not that her opponent is any good. Andrew Cuomo, the conservative New York Governor, is as bad as they come. He's a Democrat, I guess, but that hasn't stopped him from what looks like witness tampering in an anti-corruption panel he himself convened. He's bad. And he's a Democratic incumbent who is quite vulnerable to just the kind of challenge that Zephyr's bringing.
If you're already convinced, you can donate here.
But if you want to know more, well, this one's different because Zephyr is promising to do something that no other politician can credibly claim to do: Stop the merger of Comcast and Time Warner cable. Yeah, you heard me. And she means it. Zephyr Teachout isn't just saying she worries about inequality, she's going to tackle it at the root. She'll go after corporate power directly. If Comcast buys Time Warner cable, one company will control one third of all internet and cable access in America. That's wayyyy too much concentrated power for one CEO. By stopping this, we can reverse the corporate consolidation trend that good old Ronald Reagan kicked off in the early 1980s.
So how will Zephyr do this? Good question!
New York has what's called a Public Service Commission, and this commission can prevent Comcast from buying Time Warner cable in New York state. And since a lot of Time Warner cable is mostly in New York, that would make this merger really hard to complete. If Zephyr wins, this will be a blow to the corporate agenda, and to cable company monsters everywhere. Imagine that. All those irritating customer service calls to your cable company, random billing charges, times your repairman doesn't come, and just generally unpleasant experiences-- you can get revenge by supporting Zephyr. You can strike back, for real. She's already filed a complaint with the Public Service Commission on the Comcast-Time Warner merger, so she's on the record.
Posted by Segami | Mon Aug 18, 2014, 01:05 PM (1 replies)
Events follow the norm until they don’t.
Democrats can continue to disregard Rand Paul at their peril, especially when he begins to sound like liberal Detroit activist Maureen Taylor. Simply put, Democrats must take heed of Paul's Time op-ed titled We Must Demilitarize the Police, in which he writes:
When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury—national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture—we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands.
Given these developments, it is almost impossible for many Americans not to feel like their government is targeting them. Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them.
This is part of the anguish we are seeing in the tragic events outside of St. Louis, Missouri. It is what the citizens of Ferguson feel when there is an unfortunate and heartbreaking shooting like the incident with Michael Brown.
Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention. Our prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent mistakes in their youth.
In those few paragraphs, Paul is taking a chip out of the Obama coalition with a perceived acknowledgment of a racial issue that many Democrats do nothing about. At the same time, he keeps his base by framing it as an overreaching government. He is doing this with many other issues, aiming at different sections of the Obama coalition. A few months ago I wrote two articles. The first, Is Hillary Clinton the president we need at this time?, examined some of the potential problems Clinton would face as the Democratic nominee. In that piece, I explained how she could be triangulated by a populist Republican:
If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, as a Democrat it would be better than any Republican getting elected. Given Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street baggage however, the triangulation used by the Clintons against the Republicans in the past may just be used against them in 2016. A populist Republican with limited Wall Street ties, with a fairly liberal social stance on marijuana, marriage equality, immigration reform, incarceration (mandatory minimums), and women’s rights is out there waiting. Anyone following the news can see that Republican in the making.
Many had assumed that I was referring to Rand Paul at that time, and it's true that I had him among many in mind. A few weeks later I wrote Don’t laugh, but Rand Paul could be our next president. Many laughed and assumed anyone who believed Rand Paul could win the presidency was naïve or simply did not understand his past utterances on civil rights, his past associations, and past faux pas. That is not the case.
Anyone who reads Daily Kos and other liberal and progressive blogs cannot be fooled by Rand Paul—he's a true Republican Libertarian with a touch of "Dixiecratocracy." The problem is that most voting Americans are not the well-informed, and most members of the traditional media are lazy or programmed to misinform by the plutocracy.
Paul does not need to blow up the Obama coalition to win—he simply needs to skim the fat. His little excursions into the liberal base can do just that. And the truth is, his base is much more committed to winning and voting than our base. Just take a look at the recent FL-13 special election for evidence.
It would be irresponsible if liberals do not start taking concrete steps now to be inoculated on the populist flank. Taking the threat seriously will help not only in the presidential race, but in every district.
The biggest fear is that if there is a coronation of a select few, many potential candidates will remain undeveloped. Worse is the inability to recover from an unknown. The fact that Ronald Reagan and George Bush were elected presidents of the United States means it is not all that farfetched to wake up and discover that Rand Paul could be our next president.
Posted by Segami | Sun Aug 17, 2014, 11:45 PM (10 replies)
"...Captain Ron Johnson delivered an apology and statement of solidarity to the family of Michael Brown today that should be preserved for the ages..."
There isn't much to write about this speech because it just stands on its own as a moment of amazing transparency and character. When Johnson describes his own son, it's apparent just how deeply this past week has wounded him, as it has the community as a whole. I don't think it's possible to watch him and not be moved. Or changed.
Posted by Segami | Sun Aug 17, 2014, 10:42 PM (3 replies)
When former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized her old boss’s foreign policy last week, many saw it as her first step toward distancing herself from President Barack Obama in preparation for her presidential run in 2016. But if read closely, her words don’t signal something new — they signal something old: Third Way policy and the politics of triangulation. That’s both good news and bad news for Americans. Here’s what most people are paying attention to in that interview with The Atlantic:
“Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” she said.
That’s true enough, but she says far, far more in her next statement.
“You know, when you’re down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you’re not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward,” she said. “One issue is that we don’t even tell our own story very well these days.”
Let’s look at that closely. She’s charting a Third Way here; she rejects the “lead from behind” doctrine of Obama and many on the left, and she rejects the neo-conservative approach of nation-building. She’s not explicit about what that Third Way actually is, but that’s not the point. It never was when President Bill Clinton employed the tactic, either. Bill Clinton faced a divided government not unlike what Obama faces now — and presumably, Hillary Clinton could face if she won the presidency in 2016. His approach was a “triangulation” strategy that led to some conservative wins and some progressive wins. In a June 2000 interview with PBS, Clinton advisor Dick Morris explained the strategy, and how it applied to issues such as welfare reform.
“From the left, take the idea that we need day care and food supplements for people on welfare,” he said. “From the right, take the idea that they have to work for a living, and that there are time limits. But discard the nonsense of the left, which is that there shouldn’t be work requirements; and the nonsense of the right, which is you should punish single mothers. Get rid of the garbage of each position, that the people didn’t believe in; take the best from each position; and move up to a third way. And that became a triangle, which was triangulation.”
The good news here is that a resurgence in Third Way politics could be an answer to the divide that separates many in our nation. Polls show that Americans are more partisan than ever. Perhaps a pragmatic, Third Way approach could be the bridge we need. The bad news, of course, is that as practiced by the Clintons, Third Way politics was devoid of principle. It’s poll-driven in a way we’ve not seen from the current White House (which ignores the unpopularity of its actions). And polls make for bad long-term policies. The political divide in America is, at its base, philosophical. It’s about what government should be, as much as what government should do. The return of Third Way politics won’t answer any of these questions.
Posted by Segami | Sat Aug 16, 2014, 02:34 PM (35 replies)
When police arrest people, they are read their miranda rights. But in the city of Rialto, California, they hear something else added to their interactions with police officers.
You are being videotaped
The police chief of Rialto, California, William Farrar, helped oversee the outfitting of all 66 police officers with cameras for use while they are on duty.
When you put a camera on a police officer, they tend to behave a little better, follow the rules a little better. And if a citizen knows the officer is wearing a camera, chances are the citizen will behave a little better.
This may sound strange, but in reality, it is scientific. The act of observation changes the observed, as first demonstrated on the quantum level by Werner Heisenberg. As reported in Scientific American, even the illusion of observation causes people, on a subconcious level, to behave better. Called the Observer Effect, it has dramatically changed life in Rialto.With an 88% reduction in complaints filed against the police department, and a 60% reduction in police use of force, the city of Rialto has seen a savings in court costs, legal paperwork, and lawsuits. In addition, the video recorded evidence has improved conviction rates. As William Bratton, a former leader within both the New York and Los Angeles police departments, as said,
So much of what goes on in the field is ‘he-said-she-said,’ and the camera offers an objective perspective. Officers not familiar with the technology may see it as something harmful. But the irony is, officers actually tend to benefit. Very often, the officer’s version of events is the accurate version.
While police chief of Los Angeles, Mr. Bratton fought hard to add video cameras to patrol cars. The success of these cameras demonstrates how much benefit they can be. Body cameras take this to the next level, and in departments which have followed the same path as Rialto, the benefits have far outweighed the concerns so far. Even the ACLU, long an advocate for privacy is in agreement with this position. As told by Peter Bibring, a senior lawyer with the A.C.L.U. of Southern California,
Cameras hold real promise for making it easier to resolve complaints against police. They do raise privacy concerns, but ones that can be addressed by strong privacy policies.
Posted by Segami | Sat Aug 16, 2014, 08:57 AM (62 replies)
Aaaah,.....Did the little Texan-pin-head faw down?......................
Texas Gov. Rick Perry could be facing 109 years in prison after being indicted by a grand jury for abuse of power.
According to KXAN:
A grand jury has handed up an indictment against Gov. Rick Perry in connection with the investigation into an effort to force Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign.
At the center of the issue is a complaint about intimidation stemming from Perry’s threat to veto of $3.7 million in state funding to the Public Integrity Unit run by Lehmberg’s office. The threat came after she pleaded guilty to drunk driving and served a 45-day sentence; Perry called on her to step down but she refused to resign her position. Perry then vetoed the funding for the PIU.
A grand jury was called to determine whether or not Perry broke the law when he threatened to veto the funding. As a result they issued indictments on two felony charges: abuse of official capacity and coercion of public servant. If found guilty on the charges, Perry could be sentenced to a maximum 109 years in prison.
Instead of worrying about a potential 2016 presidential campaign, Perry better start thinking about avoiding prison. Unlike Chris Christie, Rick Perry was engaging in an obvious and overt abuse of power. In April, PoliticusUSA reported that Perry was the focus of a criminal investigation. Gov. Perry abused his power by trying to pressure another elected official to resign. He crossed the line when he withheld funding for the state’s Public Integrity Unit. The potential 2016 Republican candidates are dropping like flies. Scott Walker is saddled with the John Doe investigation. Chris Christie has Bridgegate, but Rick Perry is the only one of the three to go the full Bob McDonnell route and face criminal charges. (Criminal charges against Walker and Christie have not been filed yet.) Rick Perry’s Twitter account responded to the indictment by asking for money to help elect Republican candidates:
Rick Perry ✔ @GovernorPerry
Help RickPAC elect candidates who support a strong border, new jobs, smaller gov’t, and fiscal responsibility. https://cards.twitter.com/cards/b98e9/32wk …
Republican gets indicted, and he responded with a plea for money to help elect more Republican leaders who are just like him. Rick Perry is officially toast. He may still try to run for president as long as he isn’t in prison, or a convicted felon by 2016, but Perry career is officially over.
Posted by Segami | Sat Aug 16, 2014, 08:21 AM (18 replies)
The Ferguson, Mo., police officer who shot Michael Brown Saturday did not initially stop Brown because he was a suspect in a convenience store robbery that took place minutes before, the city police chief said Friday.
"The robbery does not relate to the initial contact between the officer (Darren Wilson) and Michael Brown," Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson said at a Friday afternoon press conference. "The initial contact between the officer and Mr. Brown was not related to the robbery."
The police released information earlier Friday that Brown, 18, had been the "primary suspect" for shoplifting cigars from a convenience store minutes prior to his fatal confrontation with Wilson. Jackson had said earlier in the day that a description of the suspect had been circulated prior to Brown's shooting. But the police chief sought to clarify later Friday that Wilson did not stop Brown because of the robbery. Jackson emphasized repeatedly that the robbery had "nothing to do with the stop." Wilson stopped Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson "because they were walking down the middle of the street, blocking traffic," Jackson said.
Reporters repeatedly asked Jackson why the police had released the report about the robbery if it was unrelated to the shooting. Brown's family has accused the city police of "trying to assassinate the character of their son," and the police have declined to release various information related to the shooting itself, citing the ongoing investigation by St. Louis County police. Jackson said that he released the robbery report and the accompanying surveillance footage of the alleged robbery "because the press asked for it." He also said that stolen merchandise had been found on Brown after the shooting.
Posted by Segami | Fri Aug 15, 2014, 05:42 PM (4 replies)