Category: Politics

Donald Trump – you’re fired! Sincerely, NBC


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NBC is ending its business relationship with Donald Trump over his recent comments about Mexican immigrants.

“At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values,” NBC said in a statement. “Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.”

The network will no longer air the annual Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants that were part of a joint venture with Trump, the statement added. Its relationship with “Celebrity Apprentice” will continue, as Trump ceased his involvement with the reality show during his presidential bid…

Univison previously announced that it would cease its relationship with the Miss Universe Organization over the comments. Trump has said he will sue that network for breach of contract and defamation.

Trump responded to the news after an appearance in Chicago, telling reporters: blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!

No need to repeat crap lies from a reactionary clown show like Donald Trump. His deceit, foolishness, lifelong dedication to self-aggrandizement and bigoted causes is well-enough known.

The Republican Party deserves him. My only hope is that his billion$ buy him a candidacy.

Let’s-pretend-to-be-journalists at CNN think sex toys sign is jihadist flag!

On Saturday, CNN ran an entire segment on the possible sighting of an Islamic State flag at a pride parade in London.

“Just in: ISIS flag spotted at gay pride parade,” read a banner stretching across the bottom of the news channel’s TV feed as cameras repeatedly panned and zoomed in on what turned out to be a flag featuring crude drawings of sex toys.

“ISIS flag amongst a sea of rainbow colours was spotted by a CNN international assignment editor,” CNN’s anchor said.

The flag was apparently spotted by CNN International reporter Lucy Pawle, who joined the segment via phone to talk about her startling discovery.

“This man dressed in black and white was waving what appears to be a very bad mimicry, but a clear attempt to mimic, the ISIS flag,” Pawle said. “The black and white flag with the distinctive lettering.”

Though Pawle seemed to grasp the inauthenticity of the flag, she failed to realize the humor in it and even reported it to nearby police.

“If you look at the flag closely, it’s clearly not Arabic. In fact, it looks like it could be gobbledygook.”

CNN’s mistake quickly went viral, earning derision from a variety of online news sources. CNN has since removed the video from their website. Mediaite, however, posted a clip of the incident for posterity’s sake.

Amateur entertainers pretending to report on news. The American disease spreads worldwide.

Obamacare upheld by SCOTUS


Click to enlargeJim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Chief justice John Roberts has come to the rescue of Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms for a second time as the US supreme court struck down a Republican-led challenge to Obamacare that could have gutted the legislation and stripped millions of Americans of their health insurance.

Rescue? No. Roberts may be a conservative dork; but, his style of judgement rests on the intent of Congress and law. Passed by a Congress lightyears ahead of what we’ve had to bear since Year 3 of Obama, the intent of the ACA was clear and Roberts supported the law – as far as Congress went.

The decision in the high-stakes case of King v Burwell all but guarantees that Obamacare will survive intact until at least the 2016 election, giving its supporters hope that it will become impossible to reverse even if a Republican is elected to the White House.

The case, which turned on the meaning of four words – “established by the state” – was brought by Virginia limousine driver David King, who sued the then health secretary, Sylvia Burwell, on the grounds that insurance subsidies erroneously paid to those on low to middle incomes forced him to take out cover against his will by pushing him above an affordability threshold…

In most respects, the same as laws establishing minimum levels of automobile insurance. Opposed just as vehemently in its day by cheapskate conservatives who hate paying for anything.

But six of the nine justices, including Roberts, sided with the government in agreeing that other parts of the legislation made the broader meaning clear and allowed subsidies to be paid to exchanges run by states or the federal government.

“Given that the text is ambiguous, we must turn to the broader structure of the act to determine the meaning,” wrote Roberts in a passage that represents a huge victory for the Obama administration…

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton…praised the court’s decision, tweeting: “SCOTUS affirms what we know is true in our hearts & under the law: Health insurance should be affordable & available to all.”

Fellow presidential candidate and leftwing Vermont senator Bernie Sanders praised the court for recognizing “the common-sense reading of the Affordable Care Act” but went on to call for replacing Obamacare with a “Medicare-for-all, single-payer system”.

If and when we get a Congress that not only fights for the needs of average Americans; but, has the courage to provide a bit of leadership – we’ll get round to Bernie’s proposal. Only a bit over a half-century after the rest of the industrial West did so.

Which prompts me to note why I – as someone who has nothing more than contempt for the 2-party/electoral college bordello our politics are chained to – still suggest voting for Democrats when there isn’t a progressive 3rd-Party alternative. If we leave a mediocrity to fall into the hands of truly corrupt class-worshippers, we’re really in line to be screwed. And we will be getting what we deserve for our inaction.

I wonder how much money the DEA stole, this week?

joseph rivers

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and two other members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee want to know more about why federal narcotics agents seized $16,000 from a 22-year-old African-American man in April when the Amtrak train he was taking to Los Angeles stopped in Albuquerque.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents made the seizure after they had talked to Joseph Rivers about where he was going. He was not charged with a crime, but the money was seized because agents said they believed, based on their conversation with Rivers, that it was somehow linked to narcotics trafficking…

Lujan Grisham and fellow Democrats Sheila Jackson Lee and John Conyers Jr., the ranking minority member, asked the DEA in a letter this week for more information about the stop and to answer their concerns that it might have involved racial profiling.

“These stops appear to involve individuals who have not committed any crime,” Lujan Grisham said in a telephone interview. “Many of these people don’t have the resources to fight a forfeiture action.”

The letter cited the Journal‘s story on the so-called “cold consent” search of Rivers, who was still on the train after it stopped at the station in Downtown Albuquerque…

Rivers said he was carrying $16,000 in cash he saved and relatives gave him to fulfill his lifelong dream of making a music video when he was approached by a DEA agent who was asking passengers where they were going and why.

The agent asked to search Rivers’ bags, he complied and the agent found the cash in a bank envelope.

“I even allowed him to call my mother, a military veteran and (hospital) coordinator) to corroborate my story,” Rivers told Gutierrez Krueger. “Even with all this, the officers decided to take my money because he stated that he believed that the money was involved in some type of narcotic activity.”

Rivers was not arrested or charged with any crime. But his money was seized under civil forfeiture laws in an administrative process that can last years.

Rivers said he was the only passenger singled out for a search by DEA agents and the only African-American on his portion of the train…

DEA agents have denied they racially profile people, arguing that they use other indicators such as people buying expensive one-way tickets in cash at the last minute…

Under civil asset forfeiture laws, it is the money or property that is considered the guilty party. The person carrying the money doesn’t have to be charged with a crime.

No judge, no hearing, nothing evidentiary required other than the “feelings” of a DEA copper. About as criminal as any extortion on the street.

Keep on rocking in the Free World.

Of course a country that spies on its citizens spies on its allies?

American security

France has summoned the US envoy in Paris over claims that the US spied on President Francois Hollande and his two predecessors…

Whistleblower website Wikileaks reports the US National Security Agency (NSA) spied on Mr Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac between 2006-12.

Mr Hollande called the allegations “unacceptable” and is expected to speak with President Obama over the claims.

The US said it would not comment on “specific intelligence allegations”.

Is there any reason to expect the United States to tell the truth about trust and honesty?

The French president called an emergency meeting to discuss the issue and insisted France would “not tolerate” acts that threaten its security…

The NSA has previously been accused of spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on Brazilian and Mexican leaders…

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has summoned US Ambassador Jane Hartley to discuss the latest claims…

A statement from the French presidency said the US must respect a promise not to spy on French leaders. The statement came after the emergency meeting of security chiefs in Paris.

A senior French intelligence official is meanwhile expected to visit Washington to discuss the spying claims…

The NSA has come under increased scrutiny since revelations by former employee Edward Snowden…One of the files, dated 2012, is about Mr Hollande discussing Greece’s possible exit from the eurozone. Another one – from 2011 – alleges that Mr Sarkozy was determined to resume peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, possibly without US involvement…

According to the summary of an intercepted exchange, the French envoy to Washington and Mr Sarkozy’s diplomatic adviser discussed Mr Sarkozy’s plan to express his “frustration” over US unwillingness to sign a “bilateral intelligence co-operation agreement”.

The main sticking point is the US desire to continue spying on France,” the intercept says.

“Lafayette we are here” no longer describes the arrival of American forces coming to aid of our oldest ally. France, the one nation that stood beside American rebels in our struggle for freedom and democracy.

Not anymore, man.

Doctors/Public Health prescription for healthier planet

Some top international doctors and public health experts have issued an urgent prescription for a feverish planet Earth: Get off coal as soon as possible.

Substituting cleaner energy worldwide for coal will reduce air pollution and give Earth a better chance at avoiding dangerous climate change, recommended a global health commission organized by the prestigious British medical journal Lancet. The panel said hundreds of thousands of lives each year are at stake and global warming “threatens to undermine the last half century of gains in development and global health.”

It’s like a cigarette smoker with lung problems: Doctors can treat the disease, but the first thing that has to be done is to get the patient to stop smoking, or in this case get off coal in the next five years, commission officials said in interviews…

Dr. Anthony Costello…called it a “medical emergency” that could eventually dwarf the deadly toll of HIV in the 1980s. He and others said burning coal does more than warm the Earth, but causes even more deaths from other types of air pollution that hurt people’s breathing and hearts…

Virtually everything that you want to do to tackle climate change has health benefits,” Costello said. “We’re going to cut heart attacks, strokes, diabetes.”…

In a companion posting in Lancet, World Health Organization director general Margaret Chan also compares fighting climate change to fighting smoking and saving lives. Both Chan and the Lancet commission quote WHO studies that say by 2030 climate change would “be likely to cause about 250,000 additional deaths per year” around the world.

Overdue.

NSA and Brit spy-flunkies responsible for cyberattacks on security software firms


NSA burning the midnight oil in Utah

The U.S. National Security Agency and its British equivalent, the Government Communications Headquarters, have both been launching attacks against security software in order to track individuals and break into networks…

One of the primary targets has been Russia’s Kaspersky Lab, according to documents leaked by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, obtained by The Intercept. The agencies have been reverse-engineering Kaspersky software to discover potential exploits, the documents show, and the NSA in particular has allegedly taken things a step further by intercepting data sent from Kaspersky apps to the company’s servers. Much of that app data is reportedly unencrypted, although Kaspersky told The Intercept that it was unable to reproduce similar findings in testing.

One specific piece of evidence for reverse engineering is a GCHQ warrant renewal request from 2008, asking for the legal sanction to deconstruct apps from Kasperksy and others because they “pose a challenge to GCHQ’s CNE [Computer Network Exploitation] capability and SRE [Software Reverse Engineering] is essential in order to be able to exploit such software and to prevent detection of our activities.” The agency also indicated that SRE was being used to judge the suitability of anti-virus programs for use by separate government organizations…

Another NSA method involves scanning the email traffic of foreign anti-virus companies in order to pick up hints of new exploits and malware. In the case of malware, the agency has a group that can repurpose it to launch an attack against a desired target.

An internal 2010 presentation on the monitoring program, known as “Project CAMBERDADA,” mentions 23 foreign anti-virus firms apart from Kaspersky such as Avast, F-secure, and Check Point. Major American and British companies are excluded, such as McAfee, Symantec and Sophos.

Which raises the inevitable question: are the major security software corporations excluded because they’re already cooperating with the NSA?

Dust from abandoned mine smothers Canadian town

s3_reutersmedia_net

Heavy dust clouds blowing from Cliffs Natural Resources’ abandoned Wabush iron ore mine into a small township in the eastern Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador is putting a focus on the liability of miners that seek creditor protection and walk away from assets.

Iron ore and coal miner Cliffs Natural Resources Inc announced in February 2014 it was shutting down its Wabush mine. This year it sought creditor protection for its Canadian assets.

The fate of the deserted mine is in limbo until it is either acquired by a rival or Cliffs is able to restructure and exit creditor protection.

Local residents say the abandoned site has many open pits, with drilling equipment, trucks and other equipment stranded on the site…

Vardy said the company used to spray water on its tailings to control dust, but now that the mine has been closed dust is casting a pall around the town and causing health concerns.

The provincial environment department says air quality monitoring stations show that pollution levels are still at low risk levels, which may mean the dust is more of a nuisance than a health risk. Vardy was skeptical.

“When I walk through the community and I can feel the dust on my teeth and I can feel it in my mouth and I can feel it in my nose,” said Vardy, adding the town is urging the provincial government to intervene and release funds from a security bond paid by the company of about C$50 million to cover mitigation costs.

Newfoundland Environment Minister Dan Crummell on Thursday said the government has told Cliffs it is responsible to remediate the land, despite being under bankruptcy protection. He told the provincial legislature that Cliffs recently issued a contract to revegetate the tailings area.

Both Cliffs and U.S. Steel have sought creditor protection for their Canadian arms in a bid to isolate losses and insulate their shareholders.

Critics say the creditor protection filings are thinly veiled attempts by the companies to wash their hands of closure costs and pension liabilities around their assets. U.S. Steel has significant environmental clean-up costs around its Hamilton operations.

Cliffs and U.S. Steel were not available for comment.

As is acceptable in proper society, nowadays, they will let their lobbyists, lawyers, bought-and-paid-for politicians speak for them. The federal government will sit on their hands except when politely applauding.