Obama proves that Hope doesn’t include Trust

An Obama administration working group has explored four possible approaches tech companies might use that would allow law enforcement to unlock encrypted communications — access that some tech firms say their systems are not set up to provide.

The group concluded that the solutions were “technically feasible,” but all had drawbacks as well.

The approaches were analyzed as part of a months-long government discussion about how to deal with the growing use of encryption in which no one but the user can see the information. Law enforcement officials have argued that armed with a warrant they should be able to obtain communications, such as e-mails and text messages, from companies in terrorism and criminal cases.

Senior officials do not intend to advance the solutions as “administration proposals” — or even want them shared outside the government, according to a draft memo obtained by The Washington Post.

Why? — They’re afraid Americans still believe our government should protect our privacy.

“Rather than sparking more discussion, government-proposed technical approaches would almost certainly be perceived as proposals to introduce ‘backdoors’ or vulnerabilities in technology products and services and increase tensions rather [than] build cooperation,” the memo said.

…National Security Council spokesman Mark Stroh stated in an e-mail that “these proposals are not being pursued.”

And we’re supposed to believe him…after the Obama White House spent a month trying to figure out how to get away with achieving these proposals.

Instead of offering technical solutions, the working group drew up a set of principles to guide engagement with the private sector. They include: no bulk collection of information and no “golden keys” for the government to gain access to data.

All of which were suggested by assorted government experts in the Obama administration.

All four approaches amount to what most cryptography experts call a “backdoor” because they would require developers to alter their systems by adding a surreptitious mechanism for accessing encrypted content, according to Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy & Technology…

Technologists have said such approaches weaken the security of encryption by adding layers of complexity that might hide bugs and creating new potential targets for hackers.

In general, creating an “aftermarket solution” instead of designing a solution into the platform from the start “brings in additional vulnerabilities” that could be exploited, the law enforcement official acknowledged.

These are some of the reasons why federal officials say they want the companies themselves to craft solutions based on their own systems.

A number of encryption solutions are built by groups of open-source developers, who make the software available for free on the Internet. The open-source nature of the code makes it harder to hide a backdoor. And because the developers are often dispersed among different countries and volunteers who are not working for any company, it is impractical for law enforcement to serve an order on one that’s enforceable on all.

“These challenges mean that inaccessible encryption will always be available to malicious actors,” the memo said…And to individuals who still think their privacy trumps a government run to satisfy police above all else..


Animated map shows how sea-level rise will swallow Trump’s Florida property

Oh, the irony. Observe the GIF above, which illustrates how one of Donald “Donnie Boy” Trump’s properties will be affected by rising sea levels in South Florida. The map is part of a great series BuzzFeed created with data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The kicker, of course, is that Donald Trump doesn’t believe in climate change. Speaking with Bill O’Reilly last year, Trump referred to the Paris climate talks as “ridiculous,” and called climate change “a big scam for a lot of people to make a lot of money.”

Trump, it seems, knows nothing of science…Although [Trump’s] buildings may remain just above sea level, access will likely be a problem by the end of the century, as much of the surrounding area disappears beneath the waves.

“Even though a certain property might be sort of dry, there’s going to be absolutely no way of getting to it,” says Billy Brooks, a geospatial analyst at NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management…

Regardless of the timing, one thing is clear: If these very real threats to Donald Trump’s own fortune can’t make the man change his mind, clearly, it can’t be changed at all.

Changing Trump’s mind presumes reasoned rational processes. Opportunism is the only reason for anything Trump does or says.

How far will a Republican bend over to kiss NRA butt? Ask Chris Christie

Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday nixed a bill that would have barred carjackers or anyone convicted of gang activity or terroristic threats from owning or purchasing a firearm.

Christie, who’s seeking the Republican nomination for president, failed to act on the bill (A4182) by its end-of-legislative session deadline, effectively killing a measure that received overwhelming bipartisan support in the state Legislature…

That’s called a pocket veto. He has more than bills in his pants, obviously.

Under current law, people convicted of certain serious crimes, such as aggravated assault, arson, burglary, homicide, extortion, endangering the welfare of a child, stalking and burglary, are not allowed to own or purchase a firearm in the state.

The bill sought to add people convicted of “carjacking, gang criminality, racketeering and terroristic threats” to that list.

The bill passed the State Assembly 68 to 0, the State Senate 37 to 0.

Christie’s office declined to offer insight into the reason for the veto…

Some people choose intelligent allies. Some pick friends for favors. Some kiss butt because they’re opportunists and cowards. Which one is Christie?

FBI sent MLK this letter to try to convince him to kill himself.

When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech before huge crowds on the National Mall in August 1963, the FBI took notice.

“We must mark him now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro and national security,” FBI domestic intelligence chief William Sullivan wrote in a memo two days later. A massive surveillance operation on King was quickly approved, and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover became increasingly fixated on proving that King had Communist ties, and discrediting him generally.

The surveillance failed to show that King was a Communist, but it did result in many tapes of extramarital sexual liaisons by King. So, the next year, Sullivan sent the following unsigned letter to King’s home. An unredacted version of it was only recently unearthed by Yale historian Beverly Gage, and published in the New York Times in November:

Click to enlarge

RTFA for all the racist and reactionary crap involved in this FBI project. Understand one thing – one thing the nicely-nicely journalists who published this in the NY Times and at Vox.com online will not say.

The miserable lowlife pricks who think like this have infected our government since before we won our independence. They have occasionally been shut down. They never left. Preserving creeps like this, saving them to get their taxpayer-funded pension, is part of what Good Old Boys Clubs are for. They’ve learned not to be as public about their racism, they don’t even use code words like the smarmy bigots in the Tea Party.

But, they’re still here. They still get their chances at character assassination every time someone decides security is a higher priority than democracy and transparency.

Man infected with Ebola misinformation by casual contact with CNN & Fox News

(The Borowitz Report) — An Ohio man has become infected with misinformation about the Ebola virus through casual contact with cable news, the Centers for Disease Control has confirmed.

Tracy Klugian, thirty-one, briefly came into contact with alarmist Ebola hearsay during a visit to the Akron-Canton airport, where a CNN report about Ebola was showing on one of the televisions in the airport bar. “Mr. Klugian is believed to have been exposed to cable news for no more than ten minutes, but long enough to become infected,” a spokesman for the C.D.C. said. “Within an hour, he was showing signs of believing that an Ebola outbreak in the United States was inevitable and unstoppable.”

Once Klugian’s condition was apparent, the Ohio man was rushed to a public library and given a seventh-grade biology textbook, at which point he “started to stabilize,” the spokesman said.

But others exposed to the widening epidemic of Ebola misinformation may not be so lucky. “A man in Oklahoma was exposed to Elisabeth Hasselbeck on Fox for over three minutes,” the C.D.C. spokesman said gravely. “We hope we’re not too late.”

We’re only about three weeks from the mid-term election. Be prepared for the next wave of infection from Republican Candidates – for any office, local, state or national – demanding our borders be closed to prevent Africans entering the United States via Canada or Mexico while pretending to suffer from hayfever.

Thanks, Mike

Mitt Romney is Paul the Octopus for this year’s Republican primaries

Paul the Octopus — animal oracle of the 2010 World Cup — did not survive long enough to pick the winners in Brazil this year…No such tradition for paranormal prediction has caught on for American politics, and it seems imprudent to think it will during the midterms. Why rely on a lion or tiger or bear for your election predictions when you can conscript the prophesying skills of Mitt Romney? The former presidential candidate has been busy during the primary season, picking favorites in some of the most important party infighting of the year. And, about halfway through the midterms, all of his endorsements have led to victories at the polls, as other news organizations have noticed.

Last week, he endorsed Nevada state senator Mark Hutchison in the Nevada lieutenant governor primary — a race he won. One week earlier, Joni Ernst, whom he endorsed in the Senate primary in Iowa, and Neel Kashkari, whom he endorsed in the California governor race, both won. On May 20, Monica Wehby won the Republican primary after a Romney endorsement. Romney also picked winners in the North Carolina Senate race and House races in Idaho, Pennsylvania and California.

This is an example of correlation not equaling causation. These candidates aren’t winning because of Romney’s adapted Midas touch. He is just proving a knack for knowing what’s on voters’ minds — and the minds of those who spend money trying to influence voters. (The Chamber of Commerce’s winning primary picks this year closely follow Romney’s.) It’s a knack for choosing winners he’d like to cement before the 2016 Republican primaries finally roll around, if the tea leaves scattered around his GOP summit this weekend are to be believed.

NBC News reported on Friday that Romney told reporters, “As someone who has run and has served, I would like to be able to, if you will, push our party and our nominees toward the positions that I think are the most effective for the country.”

In other words, Romney is hoping that the party remembers his clairvoyance in a year or two…

Romney’s ability to pick general election winners, however, has yet to be tested — as does the Chamber of Commerce’s. According to the Sunlight Foundation, 6.9 percent of the money the Chamber spent in 2012 went to winning candidates…

Red State’s Erick Erickson wrote after Romney lost the 2012 election, “Just please, GOP, PLEASE — in four years let’s not go with the “he’s the most electable” argument. The most electable usually aren’t.”

The Republicans may yet decide to run the ghost of George Wallace. Why listen to an opportunist moderate when you can go all out with someone truly contemptible and bigoted.

Oh, the RedState dude? Last time around he hosted the campaign kickoff for Rick Perry. ‘Nuff said.

Hedge funds planned on a killing in Iceland. Iceland says, “Piss off!”

Tourists steaming in the Blue Lagoon

When Iceland’s banks failed in 2008 under $85 billion of debt, dozens of hedge funds flocked to the island betting they could make money buying up creditor claims. Five years later, they’re still waiting.

The firms, including Davidson Kempner Capital Management LLC and Taconic Capital Advisors LP, snapped up the claims on the lenders’ assets at prices far below face value. They were wagering, as they did when Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. went bust, that they’d profit as markets recovered, bank assets were sold off and creditors repaid. Over the years, about 80 firms joined, including Paulson & Co., which had made more than $1 billion betting on Lehman claims…

What the investors, some of them managing more money than Iceland’s $14 billion economy, may not have factored in was the backlash in the country of 320,000 people against the speculative Wall Street culture that, in their view, helped cause the failures of Glitnir Bank hf, Kaupthing Bank hf and Landsbanki Islands hf. While Lehman has paid out more than $40 billion to claim holders in the past five years, the hedge funds have yet to get any distributions from the Icelandic banks’ estates. The government, elected in April on a platform that included providing mortgage debt relief to Icelanders, has proposed paying the funds only part of their claims and using the difference to finance its campaign promise…

Attacks on the country’s banks “give off an unpleasant odor of unscrupulous dealers who have decided to make a last stab at breaking down the Icelandic financial system,” Morgunbladid newspaper editor David Oddsson said at the central bank’s annual meeting. “They will not get away with it.”

Keep on rocking in the Free World. Especially when the center of that world apparently is Reykjavik.

Hollywood conservative unmasked as notorious Holocaust denialist – decides to return to his old ways


To those who knew him, or thought they knew him, he was a cerebral, fun-loving gadfly who hosted boozy gatherings for Hollywood’s political conservatives. David Stein brought right-wing congressmen, celebrities, writers and entertainment industry figures together for shindigs, closed to outsiders, where they could scorn liberals and proclaim their true beliefs.

Over the past five years Stein’s organisation, Republican Party Animals, drew hundreds to regular events in and around Los Angeles, making him a darling of conservative blogs and talkshows. That he made respected documentaries on the Holocaust added intellectual cachet and Jewish support to Stein’s cocktail of politics, irreverence and rock and roll.

There was just one problem. Stein was not who he claimed. His real name can be revealed for the first time publicly – a close circle of confidants only found out the truth recently – as David Cole. And under that name he was once a reviled Holocaust revisionist who questioned the existence of Nazi gas chambers. He changed identities in January 1998.

“That was when David Cole officially expired,” he told the Guardian in an interview this week. “That was the end of Cole. Or so I thought. That was when David Stein was brought into this world.

For 15 years I have been David Stein. Now the genie is out of the bottle. I’m done. I’m finished. I’m not going to try to remain as David Stein…”

The unmasking shocked and angered the small, tight-knit community of Hollywood conservatives, setting their Facebook groups ablaze and prompting emergency meetings.

Some of Stein/Cole’s erstwhile friends are media figures with blogs, newspaper columns and syndicated radio shows. They put a lid on the story. Not a word has been published or broadcast. “When people found out it was, ‘Oh my God, get the fuck away from him.’ There was debate about whether everyone would look guilty by association,” said one entertainment industry artist, a member of Republican Party Animals, who requested anonymity. “The reason we were all so pissed at him is it plays into every horrible stereotype about the right…”

…Cole today still challenges established Holocaust scholarship, including the certainty about Nazi gas chambers. “The best guess is yes, there were gas chambers” he says. “But there is still a lot of murkiness about the camps. I haven’t changed my views…

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, said Cole’s views on the Holocaust could no longer be attributed to youthful naivete. “I’m very disappointed that someone who abused his Jewishness to get his five minutes of notoriety still stands by his lies. It’s disgusting and puts him in the camp of bigotry.”

Not a lot of anything new either about opportunistic bigots disguising the disgusting truth for their own profit and position. Another reason why – sometimes – stereotypes aren’t stereotypes; but accurate.

RTFA for beaucoup details about this slimeball.

Christianity and Secularism at a crossroads in America

This week millions of “Chreasters” — Americans who attend church only on Christmas and Easter — will crowd into pews to sing carols and renew their vague relationship with the Christian God. This year, there may be fewer Chreasters than ever. A growing number of “nones” live in our midst: those who say they have no religious affiliation at all. An October Pew Research Center poll revealed that they now account for 20 percent of the population, up from 16 percent in 2008.

Avoiding church does not excuse Americans from marking the birth of Jesus, however. Most of us have no choice but to stay home from work or school — and if you complain about this glaring exception to the separation between church and state, you must be a scrooge with no heart for tradition. Christmas has been a federal holiday for 142 years.

Yet Christianity’s preferential place in our culture and civil law came under fire this year, and not simply because more Americans reject institutional religion. The Obama administration subtly worked to expand the scope of protected civil rights to include access to legal marriage and birth control. Catholic bishops and evangelical activists declared that Washington was running roughshod over religious liberty and abandoning the country’s founding values, while their opponents accused them of imposing one set of religious prejudices on an increasingly pluralistic population. The Christian consensus that long governed our public square is disintegrating. American secularism is at a crossroads.

The narrative on the right is this: Once upon a time, Americans honored the Lord, and he commissioned their nation to welcome all faiths while commanding them to uphold Christian values. But in recent decades, the Supreme Court ruled against prayer in public schools, and legalized abortion, while politicians declared “war on Christmas” and kowtowed to the “homosexual lobby.” Conservative activists insist that they protest these developments not to defend special privileges for Christianity, but to respect the founders’ desire for universal religious liberty — rooted, they say, in the Christian tradition…

How accurate is this story of decline into godlessness? Is America, supposedly God’s last bastion in the Western world, rejecting faith and endangering religious liberty?

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