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usaf-vet

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Member since: Mon Sep 15, 2008, 09:33 AM
Number of posts: 3,098

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Monologue: Rich Daddy Pays For It Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)

NSFW - Robosexuals Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)

There's no point in fighting Democratic candidates are wasting their time -- and hurting their chanc

There's no point in fighting Democratic candidates are wasting their time -- and hurting their chance
Democratic candidates are wasting their time — and hurting their chances — bickering over policies they’ll never get to implement.

It was a sight to behold: a former vice president, two senators and a former mayor on a stage in New Hampshire a week ago, arguing over the impossible. Would Sen. Bernie Sanders deliver Medicare-for-all immediately, as he promised to do? Would doing so double the federal budget, as former vice president Joe Biden countered? Should they maybe go with Medicare-for-all-who-want-it, as former mayor Pete Buttigieg suggested? It didn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but he has said it would put the United States on a “glide path” to something he called “a Medicare-for-all environment.” And what of the fact, raised by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, that Buttigieg tweeted a pledge two years ago to “indubitably” support Medicare-for-all?

Given what actually happens in the nation’s capital these days, the men and women on the stage may as well have been arguing over the price of unicorn at the local market and how they’d cook it. Set against the current political backdrop, the elaborate policy debates among the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination (Will college be free for everyone, or for everyone but the rich kids? Would a tax on wealth over $50 million be a flat tax or a progressive tax?) feel increasingly delusional.

t’s not just because President Trump, an incumbent in a strong economy, stands a good chance of winning a second term. Even if one of the Democratic candidates were to beat him in November, they would become president, not emperor. As such, they’d have to deal with the Senate, an institution where fast and sweeping legislation is difficult to pass in any scenario, to say nothing of one dominated by Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Using tactics that push the limits of what’s acceptable, he has transformed the chamber from the “cooling saucer” the framers envisioned to a Sub-Zero freezer, a place where 300 bills passed by House Democrats don’t even merit debate, let alone votes, even with the insurance policy of Trump’s veto.

It’s healthy to debate policy, but Democrats aren’t doing it in a vacuum. Research shows that contentious primaries hamper a party’s performance in the general election. Candidates are bickering about blue-sky proposals — with Sanders supporters destroying backsliders, Biden invoking segregationists to insist that legislative compromise works and Buttigieg going after Biden for his vote to invade Iraq 17 years ago — but they’re having a semantic argument. The stalemate moots their differences. The next Democratic president will be lucky to seat a Supreme Court nominee. In a climate of such vicious and total partisan obstruction, the only real issue is electability.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/02/14/democrats-are-wasting-time-fighting-over-policies-senate-will-never-pass/?arc404=true

Trump bucks Barr's request to stop tweeting about Justice Dept., declaring a 'legal right' to seek i

Source: Washington Post

A day after Attorney General William P. Barr publicly warned President Trump not to tweet about the Justice Department, Trump did just that, declaring that he has the “legal right” to ask his top law enforcement official to get involved in a criminal case.

In his tweet, Trump quoted Barr from a television interview Thursday in which he asserted that the president had never asked him to do anything related to a criminal case.

“This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!” Trump added in his own voice.

His tweet followed a remarkable interview with ABC News, in which Barr said, “I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” adding that such statements “about the department, about people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending here, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors and the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.”

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-appears-to-escalate-standoff-with-attorney-general-and-justice-dept-declaring-on-twitter-a-legal-right-to-influence-criminal-cases/2020/02/14/8c152c36-4f2f-11ea-bf44-f5043eb3918a_story.html

McClatchy: newspaper publisher bankruptcy 'a loss for democracy', experts warn

Source: The Guardian

Struggling firm insists there’ll be no changes in its 30 newsrooms but experts worry powerful journalism could be lost

The publisher of the Miami Herald, the Kansas City Star, the Sacramento Bee and dozens of other newspapers nationwide is filing for bankruptcy protection.
The publisher of the Miami Herald, the Kansas City Star, the Sacramento Bee and dozens of other newspapers nationwide is filing for bankruptcy protection. Photograph: Rich Pedroncelli/AP
To executives of McClatchy, Thursday’s bankruptcy of the second largest newspaper chain in the US is the fault of its pensioners, who outnumber current employees by a margin of 10 to one.

To industry analysts of the troubled newspaper sector it was simple economics, the inevitable consequence of a company expanding its empire through accumulated debt at the same time its customer base was shrinking.

Yet whatever the reasons for the failure of a company that publishes many of the biggest titles in American journalism, including the Miami Herald, Fort Worth Star Telegram, Charlotte Observer and its hometown Sacramento Bee, there is no doubting the cost: truth and knowledge in an era of rampant fake news and misinformation.

“It’s a big, big loss for American democracy,” said Nicholas Lemann, the dean emeritus of the Columbia school of journalism.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/feb/14/mcclatchy-bankruptcy-newspapers-democracy

Feds to track how private Medicare info gets to marketers

Source: AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — A government watchdog plans to launch a nationwide probe into how telemarketers may be getting hold of seniors’ personal Medicare information, a red flag for potential fraud and waste.

An official with the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office told The Associated Press the audit will be announced next week. It would follow a narrower probe which found that an electronic system designed for pharmacies to verify Medicare coverage was being used for searches that appeared to have nothing to do with filling prescriptions. The official spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement.

The watchdog agency’s decision comes amid a wave of relentlessly efficient telemarketing scams targeting Medicare recipients and involving everything from back braces to DNA cheek swabs.

For years, seniors have been admonished not to give out their Medicare information to people they don’t know. But a report on the initial probe, provided to the AP, details how sensitive details can still get to telemarketers when a Medicare beneficiary thinks he or she is dealing with a trustworthy entity such as a pharmacy or doctor’s office.

Read more: https://apnews.com/dad0e6d4f6b461dc3414843c86aca43f

Esper defends shifting defense funds for Trump's border wall

Source: AP

MUNICH, Germany (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Friday defended his decision to divert billions of dollars in funding for Navy and Air Force aircraft and other military programs to help pay for President Donald Trump’s promised wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Esper was asked by a reporter about criticism from Democrats and Republicans in Congress, including Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Republican from Texas, who called the diversion of funds contrary to the constitutional authority of Congress.

“Border security is national security,” Esper said, “and national security is our mission.”

He added, “The action we took is legal under the law, and so it should be no surprise, and I’ll just leave it at that for now.”

Esper spoke on the sidelines of an international security conference in Munich.

The Pentagon announced on Thursday that Esper approved shifting $3.8 billion in funds that Congress had previously authorized for F-35 fighter aircraft and other military programs. The money is being diverted to help the Department of Homeland Security build portions of the border wall. The Pentagon indicated that more such actions could be coming to provide additional funding for Trump’s signature campaign promise.

The action drew sharp rebukes from Democrats as well as Republicans.

Read more: https://apnews.com/80e3a6eb9a20ffa8f31c02c0529cb53b Click to copy RELATED TOPICS Mexico International News General News Immigration Border security Politics Germany Latin America Munich National security Europe Mac Thornberry Mark Esper Donald Trump Esper defends shifting defense funds for Trump’s border wall

Why paper is considered state-of-the-art voting technology. SAFE ACT H.R.2722 116th Congress.

H.R.2722 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)
See here:https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/2722/text


On June 27, the House passed a bill that would bolster America’s high-tech voting infrastructure with a low-tech fix: paper. Introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), the SAFE Act requires that all voting machines involve “the use of an individual, durable, voter-verified paper ballot of the voter’s vote.” While the inclusion of paper ballots may seem like a technological step backward, the SAFE Act’s affinity for paper is not a quirk. Election security experts from Harvard, Stanford and the Brennan Center for Justice all recommend the phasing out of paperless voting, and twelve of the thirteen Democratic candidates who have declared a position on election security support mandating the use of paper ballots.

Yet despite expert consensus, political activism, and availability of funding, opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate makes it unlikely that the SAFE Act or any paper ballot standard will be implemented by 2020. With no method to verify votes in the case of software or hardware failure, paperless voting machines represent a large vulnerability. Failure to act on election security risks not only a loss of trust in the next election, but in the democratic process as a whole. [BOLD my addition for emphasis]


THE ROLE OF PAPER BALLOTS IN VOTING MACHINES
Broadly speaking, there are three classes of voting machines. Today, the most commonly used devices are optical scan machines. In this system, poll workers use an optical scanner, a device which registers marks on a page, to process voters’ paper ballots, storing the results electronically. This system has a paper audit trail by design, and election officials can compare the paper ballots each voter fills out with the scanner’s tabulation.

A less common class of voting machines is ballot marking devices, in which voters select their choice on a screen. Rather than storing the selections electronically, the machine then prints a paper ballot to be either hand counted or scanned by a computer.

The only widely used machines that do not incorporate paper as a necessary part of their design are direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines. When using DREs, voters select their choices onscreen, transmitting the data straight into the voting machine’s memory. While DREs can record voters’ choices onto paper, many do not. These DREs that completely forgo paper ballots are among the most vulnerable parts of American election infrastructure.

FROM PAPER TO PAPERLESS AND BACK AGAIN
America’s turn to paperless voting has its roots in the confusion caused by ambiguous ballot marking during the 2000 election. In its aftermath, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which allocated $3.9 billion to help voting precincts replace old lever and punch card systems with state-of-the-art equipment. While computer scientists warned Congress at the time of the dangers of paperless systems, HAVA passed both chambers of Congress without requiring that funds be used to purchase systems that utilize paper ballots.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2019/08/14/why-paper-is-considered-state-of-the-art-voting-technology/

MIT: Hackers could alter ballots in widely used voting app

Source: AP

By ANTHONY IZAGUIRRE

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — An internet voting app that has been used in pilots in West Virginia, Denver, Oregon and Utah has vulnerabilities that could allow hackers to change a person’s vote without detection, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The analysis of the Voatz app, which has mostly been used for absentee voters and overseas military personnel, found that attackers could “alter, stop or expose how an individual has voted.”

Voting security experts have long argued that online voting is dangerously insecure.

“We all have an interest in increasing access to the ballot, but in order to maintain trust in our elections system, we must assure that voting systems meet the high technical and operation security standards before they are put in the field,” Daniel Weitzner, an MIT scientist who oversaw the report, said Thursday.




Read more: https://apnews.com/708a578811bfdcffec1f2cfbae3cc063



All forms of electronic voting are vulnerable to hacking. Paper ballots might still be the most secure method of providing secure election results. Including a reproducible audit of the vote tallies and the legitimate winners.

As Trump grows more dangerous, Republicans face another big test.

It’s true that the basis for this new Senate measure — the 1973 War Powers Act — has generally proved to be a flimsy constraint on presidents. It has been regularly abused by presidents in both parties, including Barack Obama, helped along by Congress’ regular abdication of its authority.

It’s also true that even if this measure does pass the Senate — even without it getting gutted by Cotton’s amendment — Trump will veto it.

But it would nonetheless constitute a powerful statement for a majority of both chambers of Congress, including the one controlled by the president’s party, to stand for the principle that Trump cannot exercise his warmaking authority without authorization. Forcing him to veto this would underscore for the country his dangerous efforts to consolidate his powers.

Right now, GOP senators are engaged in a massive exercise in excuse-making to explain away Trump’s latest abuse: his open and explicit command that Attorney General William P. Barr interfere in the case against longtime confidant Roger Stone.

This has focused intense attention on senators such as Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), all of whom have comically asserted in one way or another that they hope Trump has learned from his impeachment.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/13/trump-grows-more-dangerous-republicans-face-another-big-test/
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