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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Member since: Mon Sep 24, 2012, 11:07 AM
Number of posts: 1,706

Journal Archives

Georgia GOP Chairman owes Law Firm $340k for defense of Discrimination Charge

John Padgett has gotten sued again, this time by the law firm that was defending him on a charge of race discrimination:

The head of the Georgia GOP has reneged on more than $340,000 in outstanding legal fees owed to a law firm that’s representing him in a high-profile discrimination lawsuit, according to a legal complaint filed this month.

The Atlanta law firm Fisher & Phillips said in the complaint filed in Athens-Clarke County Superior Court that John Padgett refused to pay the fees he incurred after he was sued by former Georgia GOP employee Qiana Keith. In a lawsuit, Keith claimed the organization’s employees humiliated her and referred to her with a racial slur.


Poor, poor Padgett.

Why do we still support Saudi Arabia?

It is almost a rhetorical question, but it is a real one. I know the pat answer is Oil and security, but could there be a more crooked, immoral regime? There are literally hundreds of examples of this, but this one stood out to me today:


The man himself could not be made out in the video. But I saw clearly that he was striking Raif with all his might. Raif’s head was bowed. In very quick succession he took the blows all over the back of his body: he was lashed from shoulders to calves, while the men around him clapped and uttered pious phrases. It was too much for me. It’s indescribable, watching something like that being done to the person you love. I felt the pain they were inflicting on Raif as if it was my own.

A heartbreaking story about a journalist/blogger in Saudi Arabia sentenced to 10 years and 1,000 lashes. The story is from the perspective of his wife who fled the country.

The inhumanity of it is simply shocking. Words fail.

And we fail as a nation by continuing to prop-up this evil, evil regime.

Nest cam livestreams bald eagle parents feeding a cat to their eaglets

“While many may cringe at this, the eagles bring squirrels, rabbits, fish (and other animals) into the nest to eat multiple times each day,” the society said. “To people, the cat represents a pet but to the eagles and to other raptors, the cat is a way to sustain the eaglets and help them to grow.”

The cat should not have been outdoors. Who knows how many smaller birds and other animals it killed before it found its place in the food chain.

If you are a cat lover, please keep them indoors - for their sake and for the sake of all the other animals out there.


Life imitates DU

Came across this article about the "Sanders Surge." Great points overall, but I swear every one of them has been made, and made more elegantly in many cases, right here on DU. Still a great read, and pretty damn on point.

Berserk Clinton Bigwigs Launch Nixonian Attack Against Surging Sanders

In an astonishing political development, as a CNN/WMUR poll shows Bernie Sanders defeating Hillary Clinton by an astounding 27 points in the New Hampshire primary and an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds him defeating Donald Trump in the general election by a whopping 15 points, a long list of prominent Clinton supporters has launched an all-out negative attack against Mr. Sanders reminiscent of the red-baiting attacks Richard Nixon once deployed against liberals.

Second, an observation on the meaning of the Sanders surge: these and other polls demonstrate what I have long argued is the great truth that will be revealed in the 2016 election. There is a progressive populist majority in America that exists beneath the tectonic plates of American politics that Mr. Sanders to his advantage is galvanizing in his campaign and Ms. Clinton to her disadvantage has been resisting in hers.

Third, a word of advice to Team Clinton: calm down and back off the panicked attacks against Mr. Sanders that are highlighted in a New York Times story in which one Democratic Senator who supports Ms. Clinton, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, reached a new low by suggesting that Republicans will run an ad against Mr. Sanders alongside the hammer and sickle which, in other words, would paint him as a communist.

Eleventh, Mr. Trump can continue to boast of his poll ratings, but it is media malpractice for any journalist to not directly challenge him about why Mr. Sanders is kicking is butt in general election match-ups in a number of recent polls, and why Ms. Clinton has begun to kick his butt as well in those polls, though (and this is important) by a smaller margin than Mr. Sanders.

Ladies and gentlemen, we now have a real campaign where the voice of the people will now be heard. Let the real debate begin and let the voters decide.

The progressive populist message is now front and center on the great stage of national politics, and this is good news for Democrats and great news for America.


So Glad Bloom County is back

Berkeley Breathed has been on a roll.

If we may take a quick break from inter-party sniping, What We Really Should Be Focused On:

The threat of ANY republican getting the presidency. I am a proud Bernie supporter, but lets not forget the true evil, as so ably laid out by Matt Taibbi

The GOP Clown Car Rolls On
On the campaign trail with the most dishonest, bumbling and underqualified pack of presidential candidates in history


Not one of them can win, but one must. That's the paradox of the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, fast becoming the signature event in the history of black comedy.

Conventional wisdom says that with the primaries and caucuses rapidly approaching, front-running nuts Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson must soon give way to the "real" candidates. But behind Trump and Carson is just more abyss. As I found out on a recent trip to New Hampshire, the rest of the field is either just as crazy or as dangerous as the current poll leaders, or too bumbling to win.

Disaster could be averted if Americans on both the left and the right suddenly decide to be more mature about this, neither backing obvious mental incompetents, nor snickering about those who do. But that doesn't seem probable.

Instead, HashtagClownCar will almost certainly continue to be the most darkly ridiculous political story since Henry II of Champagne, the 12th-century king of Jerusalem, plunged to his death after falling out of a window with a dwarf.

If it was another country this was happening too, it GOP primary would be most excellent Kabuki theater. But it is happening here, and it should scare the bejesus out of us. So my modest plea to DU citizens. Fight hard for your candidate, but fight fair. Make sure it is only non-mortal wounds you inflict, as it is going to take us all pulling behind our nominee to stop the crazies from taking control.

Activists perform "Exorcisim" on Law Firm Likely to Benefit from TIPP

Have to give them credit for creativity in bringing the message to the masses. They brought in clergy and held a public exorcism to "exorcise them from this brutal slab of architecture."

King & Spalding is a huge multi-national law firm that, when not defending tobacco companies, often represent corporations when they sue governments for doing crazy things, like "governing."

One controversial TTIP provision, called Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), would allow foreign investors to sue an EU state or the EU itself for damages from policies that they think have hurt their corporate profits.
Global Justice Now in the U.K. and European groups such as the European Citizens Initiative that oppose the TTIP say it would increase the power of multinationals at the expense of democracy and the rule of law.

Global Justice Now's website says it targeted King & Spalding because of the firm's large foreign investor-state treaty arbitration practice.
King & Spalding represents multinational corporations in similar arbitration claims against national governments before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes at the World Bank, under the provisions of bilateral investment treaties.

Global Justice Now highlighted King & Spalding's representation of French utility company Veolia in a $92 million investment treaty suit that it filed against Egypt in 2012 after the country raised the monthly minimum wage from 400 to 700 Egyptian pounds ($56 to $99).
Veolia is claiming breach of a waste disposal contract that it has with the city of Alexandria, because the city refused to change the contract to meet higher costs from the wage increase. Veolia is claiming additional damages because the local police failed to prevent the widespread theft of trash cans by Alexandrians.

"This is a taste of what the EU-U.S. trade deal TTIP could bring us if it is implemented," Global Justice Now said.

Read more: http://www.dailyreportonline.com/id=1202725385488/Activists-Perform-Exorcism-on-King-amp-Spalding-in-London#ixzz3ZrJAfVei

Google to NSA - F*ck You

That is not an official quote, but it is what they wish they could say:

“At first we were in an arms race with sophisticated criminals,” says Eric Grosse, Google’s head of security. “Then we found ourselves in an arms race with certain nation-state actors [with a reputation for cyberattacks]. And now we’re in an arms race with the best nation-state actors.” Primarily, the US government.

But perhaps the most authentic expression of betrayal came from a relatively unknown Google security engineer named Brandon Downey in a post on his personal Google+ account. He prefaced his message by stating that he was speaking only for himself—but he might as well have been channeling his colleagues across the industry:

Fuck these guys. I’ve spent the last ten years of my life trying to keep Google’s users safe and secure from the many diverse threats Google faces. I’ve seen armies of machines DOS-ing Google. I’ve seen worms DOS’ing Google to find vulnerabilities in other people’s software. I’ve seen criminal gangs figure out malware. I’ve seen spyware masquerading as toolbars so thick it breaks computers because it interferes with the other spyware. I’ve even seen oppressive govern­ments use state-sponsored hacking to target dissidents … But after spending all that time helping in my tiny way to protect Google—one of the greatest things to arise from the internet—seeing this, well, it’s just a little like coming home from War with Sauron, destroying the One Ring, only to discover the NSA is on the front porch of the Shire chopping down the Party Tree and outsourcing all the hobbit farmers with half-orcs and whips.

For all you NSA apologists out there, all you defenders of the state, your government's actions have consequences. And one of those consequences is it harms Americans and American companies:

Certainly the tech companies felt worse off. In November, the German newsweekly Der Spiegel—another recipient of Snowden leaks—described an NSA/GCHQ exploit that seemed tailor-made to erode trust. In an attempt to gain access to the Brussels-based telecommunications firm Belgacom, the agencies set up bogus versions of sites like Slashdot and LinkedIn. When employees tried to access the sites from corporate computers, their requests were diverted to the phony replicas, which the spies used to inject malware into their machines.

Using considerable understatement, LinkedIn’s general counsel, Erika Rottenberg, says, “We are not happy that our intellectual property is being used in that way.” It is not hard to see why. If foreign customers can’t know whether they are using a legitimate social network or a spy-created fake, they are liable to log off altogether.

For years, companies from espionage-happy countries like China have been spurned by overseas buyers who didn’t trust their products. Now it’s America’s turn.

Folks, this is not for our "own good". It is not for "flag and country". It is not likely even terribly effective. But it is damn destructive.

“The NSA is willing to compromise the security of everything to get what they want,” security expert Bruce Schneier says.

“Think about the damage this does to America,” says US Representative Rush Holt (D-New Jersey), who is the rare member of Congress with a PhD in physics—and one of a number of legislators pursuing measures that would curtail the NSA’s activities. “The NSA is saying, ‘We’ve got to make sure the encryption has flaws so we can decrypt.’ Isn’t that the pinnacle of arrogance? No one else knows how to do it or is as smart as we are. They won’t realize we’ve degraded our product. But the truth always comes out. And America is worse off because of it.”

Fuck You NSA. And Fuck You to every politician that supports it.

Oh yeah, and thank you Mr. Snowden. We need more heroes like you willing to take a principled stand.

Wired - How the US Almost Killed the Internet

The Banality of Systemic Evil

From the NYTimes: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/15/the-banality-of-systemic-evil/

In recent months there has been a visible struggle in the media to come to grips with the leaking, whistle-blowing and hacktivism that has vexed the United States military and the private and government intelligence communities. This response has run the gamut. It has involved attempts to condemn, support, demonize, psychoanalyze and in some cases canonize figures like Aaron Swartz, Jeremy Hammond, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.

In broad terms, commentators in the mainstream and corporate media have tended to assume that all of these actors needed to be brought to justice, while independent players on the Internet and elsewhere have been much more supportive. Tellingly, a recent Time magazine cover story has pointed out a marked generational difference in how people view these matters: 70 percent of those age 18 to 34 sampled in a poll said they believed that Snowden “did a good thing” in leaking the news of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program.

So has the younger generation lost its moral compass?

No. In my view, just the opposite.

In “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” one of the most poignant and important works of 20th-century philosophy, Hannah Arendt made an observation about what she called “the banality of evil.” One interpretation of this holds that it was not an observation about what a regular guy Adolph Eichmann seemed to be, but rather a statement about what happens when people play their “proper” roles within a system, following prescribed conduct with respect to that system, while remaining blind to the moral consequences of what the system was doing — or at least compartmentalizing and ignoring those consequences.

This is a great Op-Ed piece by Peter Ludlow, a professor of philosophy at Northwestern. He advances the proposition that normal people basically lose their moral compass when subjected to bureaucracy, especially if their livelihood is dependent on such compliance. This has happened throughout history and is what is happening now with the prosecution of principled whistleblowers acting outside the rules of bureaucracy (and outside the law codified law, though within moral law). It also pretty much decimates the arguments advanced here and other places that Snoweden, et al, was evil and a meglomaniac, etc. My favorite passage:

But wasn’t there arrogance or hubris in Snowden’s and Manning’s decisions to leak the documents? After all, weren’t there established procedures determining what was right further up the organizational chart? Weren’t these ethical decisions better left to someone with a higher pay grade? The former United States ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, argued that Snowden “thinks he’s smarter and has a higher morality than the rest of us … that he can see clearer than other 299, 999, 999 of us, and therefore he can do what he wants. I say that is the worst form of treason.”

For the leaker and whistleblower the answer to Bolton is that there can be no expectation that the system will act morally of its own accord. Systems are optimized for their own survival and preventing the system from doing evil may well require breaking with organizational niceties, protocols or laws. It requires stepping outside of one’s assigned organizational role. The chief executive is not in a better position to recognize systemic evil than is a middle level manager or, for that matter, an IT contractor. Recognizing systemic evil does not require rank or intelligence, just honesty of vision.

For all you NSA / Administration sympathizers out there, I just have one thing to say - you have plenty of company throughout history; it is just not the kind of company with whom I would want to be associated.

Your Computer May Already Be Hacked - NSA Inside

Below is an excerpt from a blog post by Steve Blank (original at http://steveblank.com/2013/07/15/your-computer-may-already-be-hacked-nsa-inside/). Steve Blank is a very well respected entrepreneur and angel investor in silicon valley. His history makes him particularly well situated to analyze this type of information and understand its possibilities (including stints in the military and "spook stuff" - his term: http://steveblank.com/about/).

Bottom line - If you are not scared of the NSA's power AND THE POTENTIAL FOR ITS ABUSE, you should be.

Bypass Encryption
While most outside observers think the NSA’s job is cracking encrypted messages, as the Prism disclosures have shown, the actual mission is simply to read all communications. Cracking codes is a last resort.

The NSA has a history of figuring out how to get to messages before or after they are encrypted. Whether it was by putting keyloggers on keyboards and recording the keystrokes or detecting the images of the characters as they were being drawn on a CRT.
Today every desktop and laptop computer has another way for the NSA to get inside.

Intel Inside

It’s inevitable that complex microprocessors have bugs in them when they ship. When the first microprocessors shipped the only thing you could hope is that the bug didn’t crash your computer. The only way the chip vendor could fix the problem was to physically revise the chip and put out a new version. But computer manufacturers and users were stuck if you had an old chip. After a particularly embarrassing math bug in 1994 that cost Intel $475 million, the company decided to fix the problem by allowing it’s microprocessors to load fixes automatically when your computer starts.

Starting in 1996 with the Intel P6 (Pentium Pro) to today’s P7 chips (Core i7) these processors contain instructions that are reprogrammable in what is called microcode. Intel can fix bugs on the chips by reprogramming a microprocessors microcode with a patch. This patch, called a microcode update, can be loaded into a processor by using special CPU instructions reserved for this purpose. These updates are not permanent, which means each time you turn the computer on, its microprocessor is reset to its built-in microcode, and the update needs to be applied again (through a computer’s BIOS.).

Since 2000, Intel has put out 29 microcode updates to their processors. The microcode is distributed by 1) Intel or by 2) Microsoft integrated into a BIOS or 3) as part of a Windows update. Unfortunately, the microcode update format is undocumented and the code is encrypted. This allows Intel to make sure that 3rd parties can’t make unauthorized add-ons to their chips. But it also means that no one can look inside to understand the microcode, which makes it is impossible to know whether anyone is loading a backdoor into your computer.

To be clear, he is not saying Intel is working with the NSA and has already installed backdoors on all our computers. What he is saying is that they have the absolute capability to do so, and there is no way for us to know if they have already done so or will do so in the future.
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