Conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism is deliberate sophistry

❝ “…anti-Semitism is so entrenched in our society, so depressingly persistent, that to trivialise it is to trivialise the blueprint of prejudice itself. It is a barometer of moral cowardice: when someone doesn’t want to take responsibility for their own faults or problems, they blame the Jews.”

❝ At the moment, two phenomena are taking place in UK politics. For the first time in nearly 40 years, a politician with seriously left-wing ideas, and pro-Palestinian sympathies, is approaching political power. Over the past two years, that same politician’s party has been going through a series of anti-Semitism allegations so comprehensive and systematic that we may employ the term “blanket coverage”.

❝ There is definitely a long-overdue debate that needs to be had over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party – but the current barrage of media attention is not that debate. There are definitely some voices who claim to support the Labour Party, and who allow their anti-Zionism to spill over mindlessly into anti-Semitism. What we are witnessing in the UK media, however, is a near-complete evaporation of critical debate. So many aspects of this coverage are disturbing: the widespread assumption among TV hosts and commentators that anti-semitism is a problem exclusive to the Labour Party (polling suggests it is clearly not); the alarming paucity of any evidence or statistics, so that the sentence “anti-Semitism in the Labour Party”, repeated ad nauseam, becomes its own self-generating fact; the frankly ridiculous allegations of anti-Semitism levelled at the leader Jeremy Corbyn himself (Alan Sugar, one of the most famous faces in British business, tweeted a photo of the Labour leader sitting next to Hitler); the unconditional authority and respect given to voices who have been widely criticised elsewhere for bias – the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, for example, whose unreserved equation of anti-Zionism with antisemitism drew a letter of protest from 88 Jewish celebrities; the lack of journalistic professionalism in giving any sense of proportion to the actual problem (the membership of the British Labour Party is 570,000 – the number of cases pending for expulsion from the party for anti-Semitism, the Guardian reported this week, is 70). Media coverage has been so appalling that, earlier in the summer, a group of 40 senior British academics accused the media of relying for its sources on a handful of “well-known political opponents of Corbyn himself”.

Discussion overdue. No less a problem in the US Congress.

How to Spot Fake News

❝ Fake news is nothing new. But bogus stories can reach more people more quickly via social media than what good old-fashioned viral emails could accomplish in years past.

Concern about the phenomenon led Facebook and Google to announce that they’ll crack down on fake news sites, restricting their ability to garner ad revenue. Perhaps that could dissipate the amount of malarkey online, though news consumers themselves are the best defense against the spread of misinformation.

❝ Not all of the misinformation being passed along online is complete fiction, though some of it is. Snopes.com has been exposing false viral claims since the mid 1990s, whether that’s fabricated messages, distortions containing bits of truth and everything in between. Founder David Mikkelson warned in a Nov. 17 article not to lump everything into the “fake news” category. “The fictions and fabrications that comprise fake news are but a subset of the larger bad news phenomenon, which also encompasses many forms of shoddy, unresearched, error-filled, and deliberately misleading reporting that do a disservice to everyone,” he wrote…

My advice, the advice of the folks at factcheck.org –

Consult the experts. We know you’re busy, and some of this debunking takes time. But we get paid to do this kind of work. Between FactCheck.org, Snopes.com, the Washington Post Fact Checker and PolitiFact.com, it’s likely at least one has already fact-checked the latest viral claim to pop up in your news feed…

❝ On our Viral Spiral page, we list some of the claims we get asked about the most; all of our Ask FactChecks can be found here. And if you encounter a new claim you’d like us to investigate, email us at editor@factcheck.org.

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..

#standwithapple

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?