Shared posts

31 Jan 15:11

Ten hard truths about the Flint water atrocity

by Cory Doctorow


Years before the complaints from Flint's citizenry about their water provoked action from the state, Governor Rick Snyder spent $440,000 to supply better water to the GM factory, where the new water supply was corroding the car parts on the assembly line. (more…)

07 Jan 02:30

DHS Predicted Armed Standoffs In August. Why didn't FBI or DOJ Act? @spockosbrain

by (Spocko)

Using fear as a tool in an attempt to cause political change is the definition of terrorism. How fast would a saw team be in there is they were people of color.

DHS Predicted Armed Standoffs In August. Why didn't FBI or DOJ Act?

by Spocko

In August 2014 I predicted that if the FBI and DOJ didn't act following the actions by  Bundy supporters in Bunkerville, Nevada in April, armed stand-offs like the current one in Oregon would happen.

I'm pretty good at predicting the future, but I don't expect people to listen to a time traveling Vulcan. But why didn't they listen to the Department of Homeland Security?

Bundy supporter and armed protester Eric Parker
from central Idaho aims his weapon from a bridge
next to the BLM's base camp near Bunkerville, Nev
April 12, 2014 Photo Jim Urquhart -Reuters via KLAS-TV 8
In August 2014 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) put out a report, titled “Domestic Violent Extremists Pose Increased Threat to Law Enforcement and Government Officials,”

Bill Morlin from the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote about it.,
The report found that Cliven Bundy’s militia-backed standoff with Bureau of Land Management agents in April galvanized “some individuals, particularly militia extremists and violent lone offenders, to actively confront law enforcement officials, increasing the likelihood of violence.” Furthermore, the report adds, “this perceived success likely will embolden other militia extremists and like-minded lone offenders to attempt to replicate these confrontational tactics and force future armed standoffs with law enforcement and government officials.”
I understand the PR "optics" of not wanting a blood bath at the Bundy Ranch. But I don't understand the failure to arrest people months later. Was it a law enforcement/prosecution issue or a PR concern? Did they want to bust them for additional crimes that were indefensible to the anti-government movement?

I didn't know the reason they didn't act back in August so I wrote my friend David Neiwert from the Southern Poverty Law Center, asking:
"I'm thinking of doing a follow up on how the Bundy Ranch protesters were treated at the time and then afterwards vs. how the Ferguson protesters are being treated now and will be afterwards."
He explaining that "the federal law-enforcement agencies involved in the Bundy Ranch standoff and its aftermath are seriously pursuing federal criminal cases against the men who were aiming their loaded weapons at federal agents on April 12." (He wrote about the investigation in May for Hatewatch.)

I was going to call the FBI but figured I'd get a "No comment, active investigation, blah, blah, blah. are you a registered alien Mr. Spocko?" The FBI are professionals and I didn't want to tip off the guys they were investigating, since I know they read everything I write. However, Ryan Lenz, from SPLC, did check in with the Feds in October and there was still no movement.

If some people from the Bundy ranch did get arrested Fox News would happily whip up multiple stories from the jailed suspects about "government over reach" and arguing, against video evidence, that the poor patriots "totally didn't point their guns at Federal officers!"  

I'm wondering if the FBI was looking for other evidence to make people like Sean Hannity disown various "patriots" like they did with Bundy himself? Did they want to produce additional evidence showing the public that these are domestic terrorists?

I don't want to second guess the FBI's actions, but now might be the time to show the public that pointing loaded guns at law enforcement officers constitutes assault against an officer and is a federal crime. A crime that can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison when a deadly weapon is involved.

If the government doesn't act, then the message sent is clear: It's okay to bring guns to your protests. You will be taken seriously, you won't be arrested now or later.  It looks like peaceful, non-violent protests are for suckers.

Based on this evidence, Maybe my friends in the anti-war movement and Occupy Wall Street should follow the exact model that was laid out in Nevada.

"But Spocko, you have to be white to not get shot!"

Really? I'm tired of people suggesting that the police and government won't treat you the same as the Bundys if you are black or Muslim--and armed.  I'll bet people of any color or religion can do this. You just need to follow the exact model of behavior that was laid out in Nevada.

(Of course since I pass for white, I won't be able to test this model, but I'm totally sure it would be worth it to prove my point that these days armed protests work better than unarmed. I mean if Fox News and the entire right wing doesn't get behind--and welcome--black and Muslim armed protests they would look like anti-American hypocrites.)

Is this reckless for me to suggest this? Based on evidence to date, who is more likely to be shot, tear-gased, beaten and arrested?  Unarmed non-violent protesters or armed, ready for violence, protesters?

Next up: Getting advice from the armed right wing

A new wave of left-wing armed protesters are blatantly defying the law and are pointing guns at duly elected state and local law enforcement officers. How do you recommend arresting them and taking their guns away, without causing a blood bath?" Then apply what we learn to them.
06 Jan 00:00

Judgment Day

It took a lot of booster rockets, but luckily Amazon had recently built thousands of them to bring Amazon Prime same-day delivery to the Moon colony.
05 Jan 15:00

Data recovered from Gene Roddenberry's floppies—but what's on them?

by Rob Beschizza


Several years after Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry died, his heirs found a cache of floppy disks. It's taken until now, some 20 years later, for the data to be recovered. The reason it took so long is awe-inspiring: he made his own computers, only switching to commercial products near the end of his life.

The floppy disks were used with the custom computers, but unfortunately one of those computers had been auctioned off and the other one was no longer operational. Roddenberry’s estate sent the floppies to DriveSavers, which spent three months writing software that could read the disks in the absence of any documentation or manuals for the custom-built OS.

But what did they find? They're not saying, yet!

This, of course, leaves one more question: What, exactly, is on the disks? Mike Cobb, director of engineering at DriveSavers, confirmed that they found “lots” of documents. The company will undoubtedly have a confidentially clause signed with the Roddenberry estate, which likely explains why it won’t be revealing what it found. But in a major anniversary year that will see a new Star Trek movie come to fruition, with a new Star Trek TV series premiering on CBS All Access in 2017, there could be some surprises in store.

The custom computer looks wonderful, and very focused upon its word-processing purpose. I wonder how hard it'd be to make a replica (or perhaps an homage, with a Raspberry Pi, a cap-swappable mechanical keyboard, elbow grease...)

05 Jan 15:15

An org for left-wing US municipal politicians is transforming American politics

by Cory Doctorow


Local Progress is a national coordinating organization for left-wing US city councillors that supports initiatives like higher minimum wages, bans on fracking and deportation detention centers, multilingual information for voters, guaranteed sick leave, predictable working hours for part-timers, restricting foreclosures, and improving access to voting. (more…)

23 Dec 11:12

Solstice Illuminated: A Year of Sky

Can you find which day is the winter solstice? Can you find which day is the winter solstice?

22 Dec 14:20

The evolution of anti-evolution bills

by Cory Doctorow


In a new paper in Science (paywalled), Nicholas J. Matzke from the National University of Australia demonstrates the evolutionary connection between anti-evolution bills introduced into US state legislatures in a series of iterated attempts to ban or weaken the teaching of evolution by natural selection and to promote Biblical creationism in various guises in its stead. (more…)

18 Dec 21:28

Danny Trejo as Princess Leia

by Xeni Jardin


“Princess Fea.”


15 Dec 07:14

Hartmann: Bernie Sanders Is Being Snubbed By The Corporate Media

by Heather
Hartmann: Bernie Sanders Is Being Snubbed By The Corporate Media

As Donald Trump has continued to surge in the polls, there's been a media blackout of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, despite the fact that recent polling shows Sanders beating every single Republican frontrunner in a general election.

Here's more on that from Hartmann:

Symone D. Sanders, Bernie Sanders Campaign, joins Thom. According to recent polls - Bernie Sanders would beat every single Republican frontrunner in a general election - and he'd win by more than Hillary Clinton would. The numbers are in - and the media is still snubbing the longest serving independent in Congress - and his campaign for president.

According to a report at "Tyndall Report" Donald Trump's campaign has received 234 minutes of coverage from all the major network nightly news shows on ABC - CBS and NBC. But somehow - Bernie Sanders has only received a total of 10 minutes of coverage - from all three networks - combined. Sanders got 6.4 minutes of coverage from CBS Evening News -- as opposed to 65 minutes for Trump.

read more

10 Dec 19:49

Pay what you want for the “White Hat Hacker” training bundle

by Boing Boing's Store

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Get it now in the Boing Boing Store: White Hat Hacker Bundle

10 Dec 00:08

The crypto explainer you should send to your boss (and the FBI)

by Cory Doctorow


Whenever a clueless authority figure who apparently knows nothing about security (like, apparently, FBI director James Comey) calls for a ban on crypto, here's the article you should show them.


08 Dec 23:15

Watch This Navy Admiral Destroy Ted Cruz's Climate Myths

by Jeremy Schulman

Ted Cruz is certain that global warming stopped 18 years ago. He said that repeatedly during a Senate hearing he chaired Tuesday afternoon devoted to examining what he described as "the science behind claims of global warming." Satellite data, insisted Cruz, shows that "there has been no significant global warming for the past 18 years."

Cruz—who is currently one of the GOP front-runners in Iowa—has made this claim before. Back in March, Kevin Trenberth, a leading climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told Climate Desk that Cruz's theory is "a load of claptrap…absolute bunk." And Ben Santer, a researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, blasted Cruz for "embrac[ing] ignorance with open arms." The scorn of those leading scientists apparently wasn't enough to get Cruz to change his tune. But perhaps what happened at Tuesday's hearing will make a difference.

"I would note this chart…which shows for the last 18 years, that there has been no significant warming whatsoever," said Cruz. He then asked Retired Rear Admiral David Titley—a meteorologist who previously served as the oceanographer of the Navy—about this so-called "pause in global temperatures."

Titley's response was fantastic, and you should watch the whole exchange above.

He started out by explaining that Cruz's dataset begins just before the exceptionally warm El Niño year of 1998. Out of context, this makes recent warming appear less dramatic. As the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change points out [PDF], the warming trend looks much bigger if you pick 1995 or 1996 as the beginning of your dataset.

Titley, who is now a meteorology professor at Penn State, then pointed to his own chart—more than a century's worth of temperature data that shows an unmistakable warming trend. "I'm just a simple sailor," said Titley, "but it's hard for me to see the pause on that chart. So I think the pause has kind of come and gone."

Cruz then noted that his own chart focused on data from satellites (whereas Titley's uses data from thermometers on the Earth's surface). But Titley shot back that the satellite measurements—which are frequently touted by climate change deniers—have a number of significant problems. Indeed, as my colleague Tim McDonnell explained in March:

[T]here are a couple important caveats with satellite temperature data that Cruz would do well to make note of. One, Santer said, is that it has a "huge" degree of uncertainty (compared to land-based thermometers), so it should be approached with caution. That's because satellites don't make direct measurements of temperature but instead pick up microwaves from oxygen molecules in the atmosphere that vary with temperature.

Fluctuations in a satellite's orbit and altitude and calibrations to its microwave-sensing equipment can all drastically affect its temperature readings.  More importantly, satellites measure temperatures in the atmosphere, high above the surface. The chart above shows the lower troposphere, about six miles above the surface. This data is an important piece of the climate and weather system, but it's only one piece. There are plenty of other signs that are far less equivocal, and perhaps even more relevant to those of us who live on the Earth's surface: Land and ocean surface temperatures are increasing, sea ice is declining, glaciers are shrinking, oceans are rising, the list goes on.

07 Dec 18:56

#GOPdildo: shooping dildos into GOP gun-totin' photos

by Cory Doctorow


Matt "Metafilter" Haughey's got a new election-season pass-time: he's taking photos that GOP politicians post of themselves holding guns and replacing the BFGs with massive sex-toys, exposing a deep and comic truth. (more…)

19 Nov 02:23

The US government turned down Anne Frank's visa application

by Cory Doctorow


Otto Frank sought help from his college friend Nathan Strauss Jr, the son of the owner of Macy's, to get a US visa, but the US State Department turned him and his family down. (more…)

17 Nov 04:30

Open Thread - Tweet Of The Day

by Bluegal aka Fran
Open Thread - Tweet Of The Day

Via @OWillis, who also tweeted, "why that is right jennifer aniston and kerry washington, i DID have a tweet go viral"

Open thread below...

15 Nov 16:35

Brother Of Paris Victim Worries 'We'll Make The Same Mistake As When The U.S. Was Attacked'

by David
Brother Of Paris Victim Worries 'We'll Make The Same Mistake As When The U.S. Was Attacked'

The brother of a woman killed during the terrorist attacks in Paris said over the weekend that he hoped authorities would not respond to violence with violence as the United States had done after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Alexis Breuil, 26, told Time magazine that his family found out from a friend that his 23-year-old sister, Elodie, had been killed while an Eagles of Death Metal concert.

The friend, who wished to remain anonymous, overheard one of the gunman say that the attacks were “for everything that’s happening in Syria.”

“Can you imagine?” Breuil lamented to the magazine. “One day you’re just a happy teenager, playing video games. The next you’re laying in a pool of blood with corpses all around you.”

“I understand the anger. I’m not angry. Maybe I will be, but I’m not right now,” Breuil continued. "I worry that we’ll make the same mistake as before, when the U.S. was attacked, by responding to violence with violence."

Elodie's brother hoped that authorities would "show the other cheek."

"Instead of responding with violent acts we have to understand what is the cause of the problem and work together to try and prevent it," Breuil said, adding a Bible verse from Mathew 5:39: “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”

Breuil noted, however, that he believed religion was part of the problem.

read more

06 Nov 19:00

How to easily search the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership for bullshit

by Rob Beschizza


The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a very long, legalistic proposed treaty full of paid-for corporate graft. The Washington Post has made it easy to search, lest its inaccessibility dissuade scrutiny (which seems unlikely, though anything that makes it accessible to laypeople will annoy the right people)

06 Nov 17:16

Want to Find Yourself? Try Playing Dungeons & Dragons.

by Natalie Shoemaker

Coates describes how D&D gave him an appreciation for descriptive language

Role for insight.

Read More
05 Nov 22:16

Dinkel River

Dinkel River

03 Nov 18:30

This Video Perfectly Points Out the Issue With Media Coverage of Female Athletes, By Treating Male Athletes the Same

Submitted by: (via CoverTheAthlete)

Tagged: gender , sexism , Media , Video , win
03 Nov 10:34

Citizen Maths: free/open adult math education for practical real-world numeracy

by Seb Schmoller
26 Oct 17:40

After CEO Raised Minimum Salary To $70,000, Revenue Doubled

by Susie Madrak
After CEO Raised Minimum Salary To $70,000, Revenue Doubled

Remember this guy? I'm glad it all worked out, because it was a good thing to try:

In April, Dan Price, CEO of the credit card payment processor Gravity Payments, announced that he will eventually raise minimum pay for all employees to at least $70,000 a year.

The move sparked not just a firestorm of media attention, but also a lawsuit from Price’s brother and co-founder Lucas, claiming that the pay raise violated his rights as a minority shareholder.

But six months later, the financial results are starting to come in: Price told Inc. Magazine that revenue is now growing at double the rate before the raises began and profits have also doubled since then.

On top of that, while it lost a few customers in the kerfuffle, the company’s customer retention rate rose from 91 to 95 percent, and only two employees quit. Two weeks after he made the initial announcement, the company was flooded with 4,500 resumes and new customer inquiries jumped from 30 a month to 2,000 a month.

read more

18 Oct 07:01

The Fourth Film by Matta Napkin

by Matta
29 Sep 19:00

Tony Benn's Ten-Minute History Lesson on Neoliberalism, by @Gaius_Publius

by (Gaius Publius)
Tony Benn's Ten-Minute History Lesson on Neoliberalism

by Gaius Publius

I had a different group of pieces I've been working on recently, revolving around a recent interview by Noam Chomsky that touches on our so-called "capitalism" and also on the Bernie Sanders candidacy. But this video sets that up nicely. It's a ten-minute speech by long-time British politico and Labour Party member Tony Benn, sadly recently deceased.

Our thanks to the people at Naked Capitalism for bringing this to our attention. There it's presented without comment. I'd like to print some of the text, just to emphasize some of its points.

First the video. (I've bumped the start to about two minutes in, but you can back it up if you like.)

And now from a self-made transcript. You've seen all of these points before, but to see them assembled and rounded back to where it all begins is quite striking. My emphasis below:

This country and the world have been run by rich and powerful men from the beginning of time. ... The only real wealth in the world is land, and resources that lie under it, and the people. ...

In 1834, only 2% had the right to vote ... Out of trade unionism came the change ....

The [20th century] slumps were not acts of god ... but a direct result of too much economic power in the hands of too few men who behaved like a totalitarian oligarchy in the heart of our democratic state. The had and they felt no responsibility to the nation. ...

In wartime there are no economic arguments at all. I've never heard a general say, "I can't bomb Baghdad this month because I've exceeded my budget." In wartime you do whatever is required. We should adopt the principle that in peacetime you do whatever is required. People want jobs, they want homes, want a decent income, a good education, health care ...

When you come to the Thatcher period, this is what's so interesting. Thatcher was a much cleverer woman than we give her credit for. She knew perfectly well the strength of the labor movement lay in three sources of power. One was the trade union movement. So she took on the miners ...

What she said, and this is very clever, "You can buy your council house so you'll be a property owner. You may not be able to get a wage increase, but you can borrow." And the borrowing was deliberately encouraged because people in debt are slaves to their employers. That's how the whole thing began. The borrowing was a deliberate policy ...

She also attacked local government ... Local councilors now are agents of the Treasury. They can only spend money the Treasury give them on things the Treasury tells them they can spend it on. ...

And she attacked the public sector and privatized it. And this privatization is international. I met an old friend of mine, Kenneth Kaunda, the president of Zambia. ... He said, "We had a great debt and the IMF came along and said, 'We'll lift your debt if you sell off all your schools and hospitals to multinational corporations.'"

So privatization is a deliberate policy, along with the destruction of local democracy and the destruction of the trade unions to restore power back to to where it was. And what we're now back in, that's what the whole crisis is about, the restoration of power to those who've always controlled the world, the people who own the land and the resources and all the rest of it. And that is something we need to understand. ...

There's more in the speech besides just this. Check out his action as Postmaster (at 8:00). And his plan for the banks. And his statement about how popular his ideas are among actual voters. (Reminds us that Sanders has the same wind at his back; actual wishes of the people.)

There really is only one story in this country — the "flow of funds" story, the massive passing of money to the rich from everyone else. Whatever else we've been made to suffer, and are going to be made to suffer, comes from that one story. With that in mind, I'd like to close where Benn closes, and to ask you to return to these comments as we consider Noam Chomsky's remarks later in the week.

It's very important to keep optimism. ... Progress has always been made by two flames burning in the human heart. The flame of anger at injustice. And the flame of hope you can build a better world.
Exactly. We'll come back to this when we turn to the Chomsky interview.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)


29 Apr 21:24

Baltimore Man Lets Geraldo Have It Over Fox News Coverage

by Susie Madrak
Baltimore Man Lets Geraldo Have It Over Fox News Coverage

Watch the video, it's great. Geraldo, as usual, is exaggerating his own importance:

The situation heightened when one protestor stepped in front of the camera and Rivera tried to move him out of the way.

"Don't touch me!" the protester shouted.

"Stop blocking my camera!" Rivera yelled back.

Protesters can be heard in the background screaming that Fox News "lies" and accusing the network of "making money off of black pain."\

[...] Rivera commented on the incident Wednesday morning, telling "Fox & Friends" that the protester he argued with was being "truly annoying and obstructionist."

"I had an important story to tell standing there," he said. "It’s exactly that kind of youthful anarchy that led to the destruction and pain in that community.”

28 Apr 19:29

Baltimore gang members call bullshit on police reports that gangs called truce to kill cops

by Xeni Jardin

Baltimore members of the Black Guerrilla Family, the Bloods and the Crips talk to a Baltimore TV news reporter, and say they did not make a truce so that they could unite and harm police officers. (more…)

28 Apr 18:25

One guy in Baltimore's thoughts on Baltimore riots

by Xeni Jardin

I get the anger that drives the violence, but this was really well said.

Maurice Kane Carter: “I am all for fucking shit up if it gets us closer to a solution.”

[via] (more…)

03 Apr 18:40

64 horrible things about the Internet

by Mark Frauenfelder

That sentence is the best thing I read all day.

"iTunes is like having your hand held by a robot who wants to walk into the ocean and die." How very true these feel. Read the rest
30 Mar 16:00

Down with April Fools' Day

by Mark Frauenfelder

John Oliver hates April Fools' Day. I agree with him. I propose we turn April 1 into "April Friendly Day," and delight friends and strangers with wonderful things.

17 Mar 06:33

Playing the unplayable Death March (but not releasing the penguins)

by Cory Doctorow

John Stump's 1980 composition Faerie’s Aire and Death Waltz (from 'A Tribute to Zdenko G. Fibich') is a parody of a composition and not intended to be played -- but someone did! Read the rest