Shared posts

04 May 14:00

United Nations Expresses Concerns About Serious Human Rights Violations In Flint

by Sarah P

The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner has put out a statement ahead of President Obama's visit to Flint, Michigan regarding ongoing human rights violations following the nearly two-year poison water scandal.

It starts by recognizing that water is a human right, regardless of poverty or income:

“The Flint case dramatically illustrates the suffering and difficulties that flow from failing to recognize that water is a human right, from failing to ensure that essential services are provided in a non-discriminatory manner, and from treating those who live in poverty in ways that exacerbate their plight"

It goes on to say what we all know to be true - this would never ever in a million years have happened if the town of Flint was well off or white. Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights said:

“Decisions would never have been made in the high-handed and cavalier manner that occurred in Flint if the affected population group was well-off or overwhelmingly white."

Bingo. He went on to say:

“Elected officials would have been much more careful, there would have been a timely response to complaints rather than summary dismissals of concerns, and official accountability would have been insisted upon much sooner.”

read more

29 Apr 16:13

Lemur demands backrub

by Mark Frauenfelder
Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 9.12.57 AM

Before humans descended on the island of Madagascar there was a species of lemur as a big as gorilla. Today, the largest lemur weighs 20 lbs. (The smallest, the mouse lemur, weighs 1.1 oz, and has "the smallest known brain of any primate, at just 2 grams," according to Wikipdia.). I'm not sure what kind of lemur this is, but it likes to have people scratch its back. (And this is not a video that should make you feel good, says Barbara J. King, an anthropology professor at the College of William and Mary.)

26 Apr 03:03

archatlas: micdotcom: Watch: Lin-Manuel Miranda tops off John...



Watch: Lin-Manuel Miranda tops off John Oliver’s Puerto Rico segment with a rap for Congress.

To all my followers unaware of this, archatlas is from Puerto Rico and I wish the US would pay attention to this and Congress would put an end to this situation. We are being played with by Congress because by definition we are their property, not a state or an independent country. If this was happening in NY or California there would be a number of bills to help the state get back on their feet. And if you think that we are just parasites or beggers, think that we pay a tax to the US every time a product reaches our shores, we go to war with you, we don’t get to vote for the President, we don’t have a vote in Congress and we cannot have political or economical ties with anyone but the US, by law. 

10 Apr 20:48

American Airlines Removes Young Turks’ Host from Flight for Recording Customer Service Chaos

by Carlos Miller

American Airlines kicked a well-known reporter off a flight after he complained about it being delayed while live streaming inside a terminal at Los Angeles International Airport Saturday.

Cenk Uygur, who hosts the liberal-leaning Young Turks online news show, was told the “captain didn’t feel comfortable” with him getting on the flight.

He was escorted away by a police officer, whom he said apologized to him for having to remove him.

But it was only after he posted his initial video to YouTube where it went viral that he was informed by American Airlines that he had been removed from the flight for video recording.

Turns out, American Airlines introduced a policy in December 2014 forbidding passengers from video recording its employees on planes and inside terminals, including ticket counters, which obviously includes an customer service interactions.

The policy came in place after several instances on other airlines where passengers uploaded videos of interactions with rude employees, sparking national embarrassment for the airline.

So American Airlines figured it would save itself that embarrassment by removing Uygur for recording during a four-hour delay for a flight from Los Angeles to Miami.

But that plan may have just backfired on them as they did not appear to be aware of his online clout, which resulted in dozens of readers contacting the airline to complain about his removal. They even created a hashtag on Twitter, #Cenkonaplane, to spread the word as far as possible.

American Airlines does not appear to have any intention to even reimburse him for his ticket, which he said cost him about $1,000.

Another man also was removed from the flight after he was accused of smoking marijuana, but Uygur said nobody saw him smoke pot.

American Airlines told the Washington Post last year the policy forbidding photography was in place to “protect employees and customers.”

Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration has long allowed videography at security checkpoints, even though screeners many times like to pretend otherwise.

Uygur ended up having to switch to JetBlue to make his flight to Florida, apparently flying into Fort Lauderdale because JetBlue does not fly into Miami International Airport, which was his original destination.







The post American Airlines Removes Young Turks’ Host from Flight for Recording Customer Service Chaos appeared first on PINAC News.

23 Apr 03:30

Open Thread - A Solution For North Carolina

by Frances Langum
Open Thread - A Solution For North Carolina

Open Thread below...

21 Apr 04:03

A Native American Chief Should Have Replaced Andrew Jackson on the $20

by Paul Ratner

The decision to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 brought up an opportunity to feature historical Native American leaders on U.S. currency. 

Read More
19 Apr 19:28

Powerful photographic portraits of Veterans For Bernie Sanders

by Xeni Jardin


My photographer friend Clayton Cubitt, whom I met here in the Boing Boing comments a decade ago, did an amazing project to support the campaign of U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.


12 Apr 17:00

What You Should Know About Congress's Latest Attempt to Criminalize Encryption

by Eric Ravenscraft

A new draft bill in Congress will force tech companies to undermine or break their own security features and encryption anytime law enforcement asks them to. Sound terrible? It is. Here’s what the bill says, and what you can do about it.


10 Apr 12:00

Sunday Morning Bobblehead Thread

by Heather
Sunday Morning Bobblehead Thread

(The Daily Show's Trevor Noah with the most cringe worthy Donald Trump clip yet, speculating about the potential physical attributes of his then infant daughter.)

Happy Sunday morning everyone! Presidential politics are dominating the talking head shows once again this weekend, and for some unknown reason, President Obama has decided to appear on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace and give the "fair and balanced" GOP TV propaganda channel some fodder to attack him over as soon as the interview finishes airing.

Why is beyond me, but no one from his team of advisers is asking me for my input on what television appearances he should be making.

The rest of the shows are dominated by the usual suspects, which means, as always, that any actual liberals that are allowed on these shows are outnumbered by a margin of five or ten to one by their right wing or beltway both siderist counterparts.

Here's the lineup for this Sunday, courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel (check your local listings for times and stations in your area): Obama, Clinton, Sanders: Sunday guests:

Obama talks to "Fox News Sunday" at 10 a.m. on WOFL-Channel 35. The panel will be Juan Williams, George Will, Anne Gearan of The Washington Post and Karl Rove, former Bush White House adviser. The interview repeats at 2, 6 and 9 p.m. Sunday on Fox News Channel.

read more

06 Apr 17:30

The GOP is finally being honest about Voter ID

by (digby)
The GOP is finally being honest about Voter ID

by digby

They're admitting it up front:

29 Mar 16:18

New Video Shows Trump Campaign Manager Grabbing a Reporter. Here Are All the Times the Trump Campaign Denied It.

by Pema Levy

The worst part is, he thinks he is innocent because he thinks what he did is ok,

Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump's campaign manager, was charged with misdemeanor battery on Tuesday for forcibly grabbing Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields on March 8 in Jupiter, Florida. According to the Palm Beach Post, Lewandowski turned himself in to police in Jupiter on Tuesday morning, about two weeks after Fields filed a complaint with the police. The Jupiter Police Department released this video of the incident on Tuesday:



Despite the new evidence, and multiple earlier reports that Lewandowski had grabbed Fields, the Trump campaign is still proclaiming Lewandoswki's innocence, declaring in a statement that he "is absolutely innocent of this charge" and "will enter a plea of not guilty and looks forward to his day in court." It's hardly the first denial from the Trump campaign. Here is a list of those denials.

Continue Reading »

28 Mar 10:00

This Is What It's Like to Try to Sue Donald Trump

by Hannah Levintova

Of the many targets of Republican presidential contenders' attacks on Donald Trump—and there have been plenty to choose from—one of their favorites has been Trump University. The now-shuttered educational enterprise (forced to change its name to the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative after the New York education department found its moniker to be misleading) is accused, in three separate lawsuits, of defrauding thousands of students into taking on massive debt they now can't pay back by falsely marketing itself as a road to Trump-level wealth and business success.

But Trump University isn't the only Trump endeavor that has landed in court. The tycoon has launched—or lent his name to—a slew of business ventures that have yielded frustrated customers and investors who have sought legal recourse. There are hundreds of lawsuits extending over 43 years that name Trump or one of his businesses. Here's an incomplete list of some of those legal skirmishes that began when Trump joined his father's business and continue through his run for the GOP nomination.

Trump Management: In 1973, the Department of Justice brought a lawsuit against Donald Trump and his father's company, Trump Management, for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act in connection with 39 buildings it operated. The DOJ alleged that building administrators racially coded apartment applications to secretly ensure that black applicants would be denied. The case was settled in 1975, without an admission of guilt from Trump Management.

Trump Tower: In 1980, Trump hired a contractor to demolish an old building to clear the way for Trump Tower, the midtown Manhattan skyscraper that today houses Trump's main digs and the headquarters of the Trump Organization. To meet Trump's deadline, the contractor hired 200 undocumented Polish laborers and kept them off the books, paying them $4 or $5 an hour—the minimum wage in 1980 was $3.10—and often requiring that they work 12-hour days with no overtime. In 1983, members of the local Wreckers Union filed a class-action lawsuit against Trump for $4 million in unpaid union pensions and other contributions that would help increase benefits for some of the Polish workers. Many of the workers also alleged that they hadn't been paid the full wages they were due. Throughout the case and even recently, Trump has insisted that he wasn't aware his contractor had hired these Polish workers. The courts didn't buy it. "We find that a conspiracy to deprive the funds of their rightful contributions has been shown," wrote the district court judge in a 1991 ruling. "There is strong evidence of tacit agreement by the parties…to employ the Polish workers and to deprive them of the benefits ordinarily accorded to non-union workers on a union job, including contributions to the funds based on their wages." The case was settled in 1999 for an undisclosed amount and sealed, but Rubio brought it up several times during a GOP debate in February.

Trump's Atlantic City casinos: Between 1991 and 2009, four Trump ventures declared bankruptcy, three of them involving his hotel and casino empire in Atlantic City, New Jersey. These bankruptcies spawned a number of lawsuits. Here are three, including one from his own lawyer:

  • Trump was sued by a market analyst who predicted the bankruptcy of the Trump Taj Mahal casino years before it opened in 1990: When Trump was planning the Taj Mahal in the late 1980s, a market analyst named Marvin Roffman made it clear that he thought the venture wouldn't succeed. Two weeks before the casino's opening, after his dismal prediction about the casino's future was quoted in the Wall Street Journal, a furious Trump called the Philadelphia brokerage firm where he worked, Janney Montgomery Scott, demanding an apology and threatening to sue. Roffman issued an apology, rescinded it, and was then fired. First Roffman sued his former firm for wrongful termination—settling for $750,000—and then, in July 1990, he sued Trump, later settling for an undisclosed amount.
  • Trump's shareholders begged the bankruptcy court to derail Trump's plan to reorganize his Atlantic City casinos as a "basket of goodies" for himself: In 2004, Trump Hotel & Casino Resorts declared bankruptcy. When the company and the bankruptcy court came up with a plan to reorganize the business, stockholders in the company filed documents with the bankruptcy court asking the judge to cut off Trump's exclusive right to direct the reorganization of the casinos. They wrote in their filing that the current plan gave a "basket of goodies" to Trump—including a $2 million-a-year salary for his job as chairman—leaving virtually nothing for investors. Ultimately, the shareholders' appeals were acknowledged and Trump Hotel & Casino Resorts agreed to pay the investors $17.5 million. It is unclear what happened to Trump's salary.
  • A law firm won $50 million for Trump Entertainment but then had to sue its former client after Trump Entertainment tried to avoid paying its legal fees by claiming bankruptcy: In 2008, the law firm Levine Staller began filing tax appeals for the Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza, and Trump Marina. Its work saved Trump's company lots of money: In 2012, Levine Staller won a settlement that returned $35 million in overpaid taxes and cut $15 million from the company's future liabilities, leading to a total savings of $50 million for the corporation. Trump agreed to pay $7.25 million to the law firm in legal fees, but then only paid Levine Staller $6 million before trying to claim the rest as unsecured debt in ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. In response, Levine Staller sued its former client, Trump Entertainment, and in 2014, a judge rejected Trump Entertainment's request to be absolved of this debt and told the company to pay up.
  • Two Trump casino dealers filed (and later lost) a sex discrimination case after they were fired for wearing ponytails: In 1996, two male casino dealers at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City got fired after repeatedly refusing to comply with a new grooming policy at the casino that required men's hair to be no longer than "mid-collar." Both dealers wore ponytails and received multiple warnings before being terminated. Once officially fired, they filed a case against Trump Plaza alleging that sex-differentiated hair policies are discriminatory, as well as several other charges. Both a lower court and the superior court of New Jersey ruled on behalf of Trump Plaza, saying that the hair length policy did not constitute sex discrimination.

Trump SoHo: In 2010, a group of buyers who had purchased condos at Trump SoHo, a luxury hotel and condo building in lower Manhattan, sued the Trump Organization, which managed the building, and the group of developers who had constructed it. They alleged that they were duped into buying these properties by representatives of Trump SoHo, who had exaggerated the building's sales and instilled a false sense of confidence in future buyers about the project's potential for success. The building was planned as a mixed-use condo and hotel project: Buyers could live in their properties only for a designated number of days each year, and the rest of the time their homes would be rented to hotel guests, with the buyer and Trump SoHo sharing rental revenue. In their complaint, the buyers said they had been misled in the personal pitches and statements to the press made by representatives of Trump SoHo, who said the project was "30, 40, 50, 60 percent or more" sold. In reality, only 16 percent of the building's units were sold—just 1 percent more than is needed to start an offering plan, a document for buyers that outlines the details of a construction project that is under development. A year later, the buyers settled with the sponsors of Trump SoHo after they promised to refund 90 percent of the apartment deposits. Trump SoHo was completed in 2010 and was purchased by CIM Group in 2014 after going into foreclosure proceedings because it couldn't find enough buyers. Roughly two-thirds of the units still haven't been sold.

Trump Tower Tampa:  In 2009, a group of at least 20 condo buyers sued Trump for overselling his role in the development of a luxury condo project in Tampa, Florida, that was ultimately never built and remains an empty lot to this day. Buyers put down 20 percent deposits on 190 units that cost between $700,000 and nearly $6 million, in part because the project's marketing materials persuaded them that Trump was behind the development of the building. In fact, he had only lent his name to the project through a licensing agreement. The case was ultimately settled, with some buyers getting back as little as $11,115, after investing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Trump Baja: Tampa was not the only place where condo buyers sued Trump for overselling his role in a project. In 2010, more than 100 condo buyers sued Trump after they lost millions of dollars in deposits they'd put down on apartments in Trump Ocean Resort Baja, a planned luxury oceanfront hotel and condo building near Tijuana, Mexico, that was never built. The property was foreclosed on in 2008, in the middle of the financial crisis, before construction had begun. Buyers had been given the impression that Trump was developing the property—a selling point for many—but when the project was foreclosed on, it turned out that he had merely licensed his name to the venture. The lawsuit accused Trump of fraud and violating federal disclosure laws, among other charges, and a confidential settlement was secured in 2013.

Trump Model Management: In October 2014, Jamaican fashion model Alexia Palmer filed a lawsuit against Trump's modeling agency. She alleged that Trump Model Management had engaged in "fraudulent misrepresentation" and violated immigration and labor laws when it agreed, as part of her visa application, to pay her a $75,000 annual salary, but then didn't pay anywhere close to that amount. Palmer says she was paid just $3,880.75 over three years. Trump Model Management filed a motion to dismiss the case, and a New York district judge dismissed the case in March 2016.

The chefs: In June 2015, while announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination, Trump memorably described Mexican immigrants as criminals and "rapists." On July 8, acclaimed restaurateur José Andrés  announced that he was pulling his restaurant from Trump's planned Washington, DC, hotel due to the candidate's comments. Shortly after, Geoffrey Zakarian, a second chef with an agreement to open an eatery at the hotel, also withdrew. In July and August, Trump sued Andrés' company and Zakarian's firm for breach of contract, asking each for $10 million in damages and lost rent. About a month later, both chefs countersued Trump, alleging that the real breach of contract was on his side. As Andrés explained in his lawsuit, which sought $8 million in damages, Trump's decision to disparage immigrants made it difficult to run a Spanish restaurant associated with his name. From Andrés' complaint: "The perception that Mr. Trump's statements were anti-Hispanic made it very difficult to recruit appropriate staff for a Hispanic restaurant, to attract the requisite number of Hispanic food patrons for a profitable enterprise, and to raise capital for what was now an extraordinarily risky Spanish restaurant." BLT Prime, a steak restaurant chain, has since agreed to open a location in Trump's DC hotel.

In February, as proceedings in the Andrés-Trump legal battle moved forward, internal Trump organization emails were submitted as part of court proceedings. After an email from Andrés' company said the company was getting blowback over Trump's statements on immigrants, a Trump Organization vice president sent an email to Ivanka Trump. "Ugh," the vice president wrote. "This is not surprising and would expect that this will not be the last that we hear of it. At least for formal, prepared speeches, can someone vet going forward? Hopefully the Latino community does not organize against us more broadly in DC/across Trump properties."

23 Mar 13:00

The cheapest patient is a dead one by @BloggersRUs

by (Undercover Blue)

The cheapest patient is a dead one

by Tom Sullivan

A doctor's letter to the editor:

I had the pleasure of taking care of a North Carolina constituent recently. She is in her early 60s with severe heart failure acquired as a genetic abnormality. She works in a small diner here and makes $9,000 a year. She needs a defibrillator, which costs from $50,000 to $80,000.

She does not have health insurance since she cannot afford to buy on the open market. She tried the Affordable Care Act. The cutoff is above her pay so she is not eligible. Since Republican lawmakers are fiscally responsible, she understands why they rejected money that was coming from Washington to expand Medicaid. After all, they have to do what is best for the people in other states that expanded Medicaid or what is best for their friends in the insurance and pharmaceutical industry.

She fully supports GOP policies because, after all, what is one life worth? She also understands that the general Republican thought that Medicaid expansion is a Democratic socialist ploy had nothing to do with why they did not adopt it.

I regret to inform you that she died a few days ago. I am pretty sure she and her family are thankful to Republicans for saving all this money. She totally understands the position that the cheapest patient is a dead patient.

The letter might have been written in any of the 19 states that have refused Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Count her as "died quickly."

05 Mar 21:18

Louis CK fires off a desperate email about Donald Trump: 'He's an... - Business Insider

Business Insider

Louis CK fires off a desperate email about Donald Trump: 'He's an...
Business Insider
Louis C.K. fires off a desperate email about Donald Trump: 'He's an insane bigot. He is dangerous'. Erin Fuchs. 3h; 19,642. facebook · linkedin · twitter; email; print. louis ck Reuters/Robert Galbraith ...
Louis CK goes “there” in anti-Donald Trump letterHot Air
Comedian Louis CK writes letter: Trump 'is Hitler'
Louis C.K. begs fans not to vote for Trump: 'The guy is Hitler'My Fox Boston
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03 Mar 19:20

Young Republican Writes Obama To Thank Him For The ACA

by Karoli Kuns
Young Republican Writes Obama To Thank Him For The ACA

This letter to President Obama about the Affordable Care Act made me cry. It's also why I get so angry whenever those Republicans talk about repealing the ACA.

President Obama is visiting Milwaukee today, because the city successfully managed to get health care to poor families in spite of Governor Scott Walker failing to expand Medicaid. Brent Brown will join the President to celebrate Milwaukee's work to help get access to health care for people.

The letter speaks for itself.

To My President,

I sincerely hope that this reaches you, as far too often praise is hard to come by. Apologies to people who deserve it perhaps even less so.

I did not vote for you. Either time. I have voted Republican for the entirety of my life.

I proudly wore pins and planted banners displaying my Republican loyalty. I was very vocal in my opposition to you–particularly the ACA.

Before I briefly explain my story allow me to first say this: I am so very sorry. I understand written content cannot convey emotions very well–but my level of conviction has me in tears as I write this. I was so very wrong. So very very wrong.

You saved my life. I want that to sink into your ears and mind. My President, you saved my life, and I am eternally grateful.

read more

02 Mar 14:42

Apple v FBI isn't about security vs privacy; it's about America's security vs FBI surveillance

by Cory Doctorow


Dan Kaminsky, one of the Internet's essential squad of "volunteer fire fighters" who oversaw the largest-ever synchronized vulnerability patching in Internet history, has written a stirring editorial for Wired explaining what the FBI puts at risk when it demands weaker encryption: it's not our privacy, it's the security of finance, health care, roads, and every other piece of tech-enabled infrastructure in the land. (more…)

02 Mar 04:30

Open Thread - Everybody Knows.

by Frances Langum
Open Thread - Everybody Knows.

Open Thread below....

01 Mar 17:14

Trump could make the press great again, all they have to do is their jobs

by Cory Doctorow


The media made Trump: he's the perfect, click-driving mashup of fearmongering and demagoguery, and if it bleeds, it leads. (more…)

29 Feb 15:00

FBI claims it has no records of its decision to delete its recommendation to encrypt your phone

by Cory Doctorow


Two years ago, the FBI published its official advice to "protect your mobile device," including a recommendation to encrypt your storage. This year, the FBI is suing Apple to force it to break its encryption. (more…)

29 Feb 20:30

The quintessential Trump summary #makedonalddrumpfagain

by (digby)
The quintessential Trump summary

by digby

John Oliver delivers:

22 Feb 21:53

John Oliver on American states' absurd, punitive abortion laws

by Cory Doctorow
animation (4)

Ever since the Supreme Court ruled that states could restrict access to abortion provided the restrictions weren't "unduly burdensome," Republican thinktanks have been spreading "TRAP" ("Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers") rules that have a veneer of reasonableness but have the effect of making abortions impossible to procure for the majority of women in those states. (more…)

21 Feb 22:00

Amy Goodman Tells CNN Host: Stop Your 'Obsession With Polls' And Report On 'People's Records'

by David
Amy Goodman Tells CNN Host: Stop Your 'Obsession With Polls' And Report On 'People's Records'

Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman told CNN host Brian Stelter on Sunday that his network should focus less on presidential polls and more on candidates' records.

"The media is so commercial, it's so driven by corporate interests," Goodman explained to Stelter during an interview on CNN's Reliable Sources. "And it's so important though that people recognize that there is a whole independent media world out there."

"We do not emphasize the polls," she pointed out. "I would love the media, there to be a month without polls. What is the value of these polls? If I am making a decision about a candidate, I want to weigh their record."

"Do I care what my neighbor thinks or the person next to me? I want to make an independent decision."

Goodman noted that even though the media had an "obsession with polls," they were often wrong.

"Instead, pour that energy, investigation and money into people's records," she advised. "Whether they're a businessman like Trump or they're politicians like Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Look at their records, what have they done. Compare their rhetoric to what they have done throughout their life."

Stelter argued that there was "value" in knowing what proportion of the electorate supported a candidate's message.

"Well, you find that out with an election," Goodman replied. "You find it out with a primary and a caucus."

"People should just count the times that every network flashes the polls," she remarked. "Are we telling people what to think?"

16 Feb 17:01

Financial Times' response to ad-cutting threat from HP is great

by Rob Beschizza

Maybe journalism is alive.

Artist's impression of what they were really thinking

The Financial Times ran a column critical of Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman. The company's marketing chief, Henry Gomez, threatened to cut the advertising it ran in the newspaper. Lucy Kellaway's response is perfect.

My piece was not biased and I fear you misunderstand our business model. It is my editors’ steadfast refusal to consider the impact of stories on advertisers that makes us the decent newspaper we are. It is why I want to go on working here. It is why the FT goes on paying me.

Kellaway seems almost happy to have gotten such a direct threat in the first place, in an age of smarmy PR outreach and cold silence. But it's no surprise that HP is the one to break ranks. When did it get its reputation for this sort of "nice ads you have there" nastiness?

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…)