Saturday, January 10, 2015

necropolitics: sleep&eat ain't gone do a dayyum thing...,

NYTimes |  The F.B.I. and Justice Department prosecutors have recommended bringing felony charges against David H. Petraeus, contending that he provided classified information to a lover while he was director of the C.I.A., officials said, leaving Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to decide whether to seek an indictment that could send the pre-eminent military officer of his generation to prison.

The Justice Department investigation stems from an affair Mr. Petraeus had with Paula Broadwell, an Army Reserve officer who was writing his biography, and focuses on whether he gave her access to his C.I.A. email account and other highly classified information.

F.B.I. agents discovered classified documents on her computer after Mr. Petraeus resigned from the C.I.A. in 2012 when the affair became public.

Mr. Petraeus, a retired four-star general who served as commander of American forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan, has said he never provided classified information to Ms. Broadwell, and has indicated to the Justice Department that he has no interest in a plea deal that would spare him an embarrassing trial. A lawyer for Mr. Petraeus, Robert B. Barnett, said Friday he had no comment.

The officials who said that charges had been recommended were briefed on the investigation but asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it.

Mr. Holder was expected to decide by the end of last year whether to bring charges against Mr. Petraeus, but he has not indicated how he plans to proceed. The delay has frustrated some Justice Department and F.B.I. officials and investigators who have questioned whether Mr. Petraeus has received special treatment at a time Mr. Holder has led a crackdown on government officials who reveal secrets to journalists.

The protracted process has also frustrated Mr. Petraeus’s friends and political allies, who say it is unfair to keep the matter hanging over his head. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, wrote to Mr. Holder last month that the investigation had deprived the nation of wisdom from one of its most experienced leaders.

Friday, January 09, 2015

rule of law: child-murdering overseer timothy loehmann operating a few points shy of IQ-75

cleveland |  Timothy Loehmann, the Cleveland police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice in November, previously failed the written test to become a deputy with Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department, according to records released on Wednesday.

In September 2013, Loehmann scored a 46 percent on the department's written cognitive exam, administered by Cuyahoga Community College and given to potential recruits. Seventy percent is considered a passing score. Recruits are tested on problem-solving, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation and spelling.

Other records show Loehmann did pass the department's physical exam, which requires applicants to perform at least 27 pushups in a minute and run a mile and a half in less than 16 minutes and 36 seconds, among other tasks.

Northeast Ohio Media Group reported on Tuesday that Loehmann had been rejected for a deputy sheriff job that he had applied for in September 2013. The county released Loehmann's job application and exam scores in response to a public records request. (Scroll down to read them.)
Loehmann was among 35 applicants who passed the physical exam but failed the written test, the records show.

Loehmann previously also was unsuccessful in getting jobs with police departments in Akron, Euclid and Parma Heights. He had been looking for a police job since he resigned from the Independence police department in November 2012 following a poor performance review. He had worked there for five months.

invasion of america

Aeon Magazine | Between 1776 and the present, the United States seized some 1.5 billion acres from North America’s native peoples, an area 25 times the size of the United Kingdom. Many Americans are only vaguely familiar with the story of how this happened. They perhaps recognise Wounded Knee and the Trail of Tears, but few can recall the details and even fewer think that those events are central to US history.
Their tenuous grasp of the subject is regrettable if unsurprising, given that the conquest of the continent is both essential to understanding the rise of the United States and deplorable. Acre by acre, the dispossession of native peoples made the United States a transcontinental power. To visualise this story, I created ‘The Invasion of America’, an interactive time-lapse map of the nearly 500 cessions that the United States carved out of native lands on its westward march to the shores of the Pacific.

what message was this terrorist sending

Denver Post | An improvised explosive device was detonated against the exterior wall of a building housing the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP on Tuesday, officials said.
The explosion knocked items off the office walls but no one was injured.
Agents from the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives went to the scene after the blast to gather evidence and place markers.
The FBI said that a gasoline can was placed next to the device but the contents did not ignite.
According to the the FBI, officials are seeking a "potential person of interest," described as a balding white male, about 40 years old.
"He may be driving a 2000 or older model dirty, white pick-up truck with paneling, a dark colored bed liner, open tailgate, and a missing or covered license plate," the FBI said in a statement said.

rule of law: proxy war on the impoverished 15% no longer needed for non-existent manufacturing jobs...,

pbs |  For the past 40 years, the war on drugs has resulted in more than 45 million arrests, $1 trillion dollars in government spending, and America’s role as the world’s largest jailer. Yet for all that, drugs are cheaper, purer, and more available than ever. Filmed in more than twenty states, The House I Live In captures heart-wrenching stories of those on the front lines — from the dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to the federal judge — and offers a penetrating look at the profound human rights implications of America’s longest war. 

The film recognizes drug abuse as a matter of public health, and investigates the tragic errors and shortcomings that have resulted from framing it as an issue for law enforcement. It also examines how political and financial corruption has fueled the war on drugs, despite persistent evidence of its moral, economic, and practical failures. The drug war in America has helped establish the largest prison-industrial system in the world, contributing to the incarceration of 2.3 million men and women and is responsible for untold collateral damage to the lives of countless individuals and families, with a particularly destructive impact on black America.

“It’d be one thing if it was draconian and it worked. But it’s draconian and it doesn’t work. It just leads to more,” says David Simon, creator of the HBO series, The Wire.

Instead of questioning a campaign of such epic cost and failure, those in public office generally advocate for harsher penalties for drug offenses, lest they be perceived as soft on crime. Thanks to mandatory minimum sentencing, a small offense can put a nonviolent offender behind bars for decades — or even life. Many say these prisoners are paying for fear instead of paying for their crime.

“If you stand in a federal court, you’re watching poor and uneducated people being fed into a machine like meat to make sausage. It’s just bang, bang, bang, bang. Next!” says journalist Charles Bowden.

But there’s a growing recognition among those on all sides that the war on drugs is a failure. At a time of heightened fiscal instability, the drug war is also seen as economically unsustainable. Beyond its human cost at home, the unprecedented violence in Mexico provides a daily reminder of the war’s immense impact abroad, and America has at last begun to take the first meaningful steps toward reform. At this pivotal moment, the film promotes public awareness of the problem while encouraging new and innovative pathways to domestic drug policy reform.  Fist tap DD.

rule of law: who feels incompetent and inhumane overseer loehmann needs to be underneath a jail somewhere?

NYTimes |  The two Cleveland police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was carrying a pellet gun, stood by without rendering medical aid as the boy lay wounded next to their patrol car, a newly released extended surveillance video shows.

Then, about a minute and a half after one officer had shot Tamir, the other officer tackled the boy’s 14-year-old sister as she tried to reach her brother. Tamir was shot Nov. 22 after someone called 911 to report “a guy” who had been pointing a “probably fake” pistol outside a community recreation center on Cleveland’s west side.

The video, obtained by the Northeast Ohio Media Group, provided fresh detail about a shooting that roiled Cleveland and quickly became the latest shooting to be absorbed into a broader national narrative about police violence in African-American communities.

The surveillance tape also seemed to clarify an issue in the shooting investigation: that the officers provided no immediate medical assistance to Tamir, who was not pronounced dead until more than nine hours later at a Cleveland hospital. An autopsy by the Cuyahoga County medical examiner later found that Tamir died from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. In addition, it confirmed the account that Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, gave in the weeks after the shooting, that the police had tackled and detained her daughter as she rushed out of the recreation center, trying to reach her brother’s side.

rule of law: a costume and a badge only confer extra powers in a comic book...,

rollingstone |  The few police spokespeople who are saying anything at all about the slowdown seem to be saying they're doing this for a variety of reasons. The New York Post reports that some of the reduction may be due to safety measures recommended by union members after the Ramos/Liu murders:

Cop union leaders told their members to respond to all calls with two patrol cars — and make arrests only when "absolutely necessary" — to avoid potential copycat attacks following the Ramos and Liu assassinations.

But then Edward Mullins, head of the Sergeants' Benevolent Association, who admitted that "people are talking to each other" and that the action has "became contagious," told the Times that police are still responding to essential calls, and only ignoring "financial" infractions:

All of the 911 calls are being responded to...The lack of summons activity, we're talking about financial fines. That's one of those things that will correct itself, I'm sure.

But then there was this bizarre quote in the Post yesterday:

Michael Palladino, the head of the detectives union, responded with frustration.
"You can't win," he said. "When cops make arrests and give summonses, they are accused of being robotic with no feelings, When cops exercise discretion and express feelings, theyre accused of being political and disrespectful."

So which is it? Are police cutting down on arrests out of concern for their safety post Ramos/Liu? Are they merely pulling a slowdown by specifically abandoning non-essential, financial infractions?
Or are they "exercising discretion" and showing "feelings" by doing away with the harassing, often arm-twisting, day-ruining barrage of useless and expensive summonses that have been handed out in low-income neighborhoods in massive numbers since the early Nineties?

I'm not buying the "feelings" line, although I know for a fact that a lot of police hate the endless regime of Broken Windows tickets (not as much as the people getting the tickets hate it, but still).
I'm guessing police are trying to make the public and the Mayor feel the pain of their absence as much as possible without opening themselves up to accusations of deliberately making the city unsafe, and this is the only way they can think to do it.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

superb demonstration of why cats with bass in their voice aren't allowed on teevee anymore...,

rule of law: is the NYPD under the control of its democratically elected civilian commander-in-chief or not?

Lynch on NPR again demanding an apology from De Blasio

NYTimes |  Who is to apologize for bias in policing in general, and generations of racially biased criminal justice, both of which have contributed to mass incarceration?

This isn’t only about where the apologies should begin, but where they should end.

Sure, we can search for ways to rationalize behaviors and responses, talking about personal choices, culture, crime and family structures, but those discussions mustn’t be — can’t be — separated from the context of history and the confines of institutional structures.

Lift that rock and all sorts of uncomfortable things come crawling out — a privilege made possible by plunder and oppression, intergenerational transfers of hopelessness bred by intergenerational societal exclusions — truly ugly things.

We have to decide what racial conciliation should look like in this country. Does it look like avoidance and go-along-to-get-along obsequiousness, or does it look like justice and acknowledgment of both the personal parts we play and the noxious structural bias enveloping us?

How is mutual understanding achieved without mutual respect being given and blame taken?
How do we reconcile ourselves to one another without the failures of the systems that govern us being laid bare before us?

It seems to me, in the New York standoff, that the mayor owes no apology for fighting to overturn stop-and-frisk, disclosing that he talked to his son about encounters with police officers, or being compassionate to protesters. That is the man New Yorkers elected.

This, to my mind, is an attack on him as an agent of change. It is a battle to see which arm has the most muscle: the one that wants to deny bias, explicit or implicit, in the exercise of its power while simultaneously clinging to that bias; or the one committed to questioning the power and acknowledging the bias. Eventually, we will have to wrestle with the question of which of those forces must win for us to be true and whole.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

pope going full-in on warsocialism

Western Catholic Reporter | Pope Francis, who has already broken new ground in his outreach to a suffering humanity, has put the weight of the Catholic Church behind a new humanitarian movement to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
The pope sent a message to the recent conference in Vienna, attended by more than 150 governments, to advance public understanding of what is now called the "catastrophic humanitarian consequences" of any use of the 16,300 nuclear weapons possessed by nine countries.
In his message, delivered by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, a leading Holy See diplomat, Pope Francis stripped away any lingering moral acceptance of the military doctrine of nuclear deterrence: "Nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence."
He called for a worldwide dialogue, including both the nuclear and non-nuclear states and the burgeoning organizations that make up civil society, "to ensure that nuclear weapons are banned once and for all to the benefit of our common home."
Pope Francis has now put his firm stamp on the Church's rejection of nuclear weapons, to the enormous satisfaction of the delegates crowding the Vienna conference. No longer can the major powers, still defending their right to keep possessing nuclear weapons, claim the slightest shred of morality for their actions.
The pope's stand was supported by a remarkable Vatican document, Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition, also put before the Vienna conference. The document did not mince words: "Now is the time to affirm not only the immorality of the use of nuclear weapons, but the immorality of their possession, thereby clearing the road to abolition."
The Church has now put behind it the limited acceptance of nuclear deterrence it gave at the height of the Cold War. That acceptance was given only on the condition that nuclear deterrence lead progressively to disarmament.
Washington, London and Paris, the three Western nuclear capitals where the Church's words influence, to some degree, government policy, used this limited acceptance to justify their continued nuclear buildup.
When the Cold War ended, they continued modernizing their arsenals and refused demands, reiterated at the UN many times, to join in comprehensive negotiations with Moscow and Beijing.

rule of law: overseers and their tribal supporters furious about a little sunlight and disinfectant...,

theatlantic |  in the course of defending the NYPD, the right is now lending credibility to the notion that harsh but totally nonviolent criticism of public employees makes one partly responsible if they are attacked by a lunatic–as well as the idea that public employees who feel disrespected by elected officials ought to be appeased with an apology. As City Journal takes well-desserved shots at Sharpton, condemns the rare protestors who disgustingly chant for dead cops, and publishes plausible defenses of Broken Windows policing, it would do well to start regarding misbehaving police with as much concern as it routinely marshals for misbehaving teachers, rather than proceeding as if cops are the one category of public employees who can do no wrong, despite ample evidence to the contrary and even as police unions openly intervene to keep the worst cops from being terminated.

A publication with a proud history of urging necessary reforms in New York City ought to be on the front lines of improving its scandal-prone police department and protecting the Fourth Amendment rights of innocents, rather than overlooking all manner of misdeeds so long as crime rates are low. At the very least, it should stop acting as if those who do criticize misbehaving police officers are any more responsible for the extremely rare instances in which they're murdered than City Journal would be responsible for an assault on a representative from the California Teacher's Association. For good reason, City Journal authors bristle at the propagandistic notion that they are "attacking all teachers." Neither are police reform advocates attacking all officers, not any more than black and brown men with badges who say racial bias exists in New York City. NYPD defenders believe that further crime reductions can only occur if police are afforded a larger degree of respect. They ought to dedicate some time and energy to reforming the police department so that it is more respectable.

*Consider the fact that the overwhelming majority of Stop-and-Frisk encounters involve people who've committed no crime and are sent on their way without arrest or citation. NYPD defenders are fond of arguing that every statistic about racial disparities in arrests and stops are explained by the fact that blacks tend to live in more dangerous neighborhoods and commit crimes at higher rates. What of the large majority of blacks who are following the law when police mass in their neighborhood? Their liberties seem to be regarded as collateral damage.

In fact, police who mass in the same neighborhood day after day have a heightened responsibility to make sure that their attempt to catch criminals and increase order doesn't continually violate the rights of innocent residents–the NYPD is, after all, obliged to abide by the 4th Amendment. They make a mockery of "reasonable suspicion" when the people they purportedly suspect are doing no wrong 8 or 9 times out of ten. How many times would you need to be stopped and frisked while doing no wrong to develop resentment of the officers detaining you? NYPD defenders never assign any responsibility for the rift that results to police, even though any community of any race subject to Stop and Frisk would resent it. Imagine how Wall Street bankers would react if subjected to it for a single week.

why are conservatives fighting legalization?

theatlantic |  Normally, conservative states like Nebraska and Oklahoma champion state prerogatives, while progressive ones fight for federal uniformity. But this time the roles are almost perfectly reversed, with some conservative states championing federal uniformity, and progressive ones arguing for state diversity. The controversy has revealed an interesting fissure in the conservative movement, between pro-government “law and order” types, and anti-government “stay out of my life” types. The implications could go far beyond the happy Rastafarian admonition: “Legalize it, don’t criticize it.”

When state and federal laws are inconsistent, the default setting is that both are enforced, by their respective enforcers. State and federal governments are independent sovereigns whose laws operate independently on the citizens subject to them. If you have a Texas driver’s license, you can drive on highways in west Texas and run over all the lizards you want—as far as Texas is concerned. But some of those lizards are endangered species under federal law, and running them over is prohibited—as far as Congress is concerned. You can keep your license, but you may get an unpleasant visit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

As long as citizens can comply with both sets of laws and Congress can successfully operate its own laws, there should be no conflict. But where there is a conflict, state law must give way, because the Constitution provides that federal law is the supreme law of the land. For example, when state law “stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress,” the Supreme Court has said that state law is preempted.

Does state legalization of marijuana interfere with “the full purposes and objectives of Congress” in its own prohibition of marijuana? It does, but only in a very peculiar way. And here’s where the story gets really interesting.

kunstler's 2015 forecast: one smart black friend can save you from public "intellectual" foolishness at least on race...,

kunstler |  Race relations turned very sour in 2014 with more highly publicized killings of young black men in ambiguous circumstances. The chief martyr of the year, Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo., was a poor candidate for sainthood, and did not help advance the credibility of claims that police brutality rather than the misbehavior of young men is behind a lot of strife abroad in the land. One gets the feeling that black race hustlers are in the driver’s seat recklessly pushing African Americans toward open warfare with everybody else. My view of the situation is not popular with Progressives, viz: that black separatism and its offshoots in “diversity” politics and multi-culturalism tragically promote an antagonistic, alienated, oppositional black politics at the expense of a common culture for blacks and whites with common values and common standards of behavior. It has gotten so bad that reasonable people can sadly conclude that the long civil rights project has ended in failure. We are treading on dangerous ground here, with foolishly outmoded ideas about what to expect from each other, and of course all this begs the questions: What now? What next?

rule of law: powerlessness of civilian governance to control men with guns...,

NYTimes |  The madness has to stop. The problem is not that a two-week suspension of “broken windows” policing is going to unleash chaos in the city. The problem is that cops who refuse to do their jobs and revel in showing contempt to their civilian leaders are damaging the social order all by themselves.

Mr. de Blasio, who has been cautious since the shootings, found his voice on Monday, saying for the first time that the police officers’ protests of turning their backs at the slain officers’ funerals had been disrespectful to the families of the dead. He was right, but he needs to do more.

He should appeal directly to the public and say plainly that the police are trying to extort him and the city he leads.

If the Police Department’s current commanders cannot get the cops to do their jobs, Mr. de Blasio should consider replacing them.

He should invite the Justice Department to determine if the police are guilty of civil rights violations in withdrawing policing from minority communities.

He should remind the police that they are public employees, under oath to uphold city and state laws.

If Mr. de Blasio’s critics are right and the city is coming unglued, it is not because of what he has done. He was elected by an overwhelming vote, because he promised action on police reform, starting with the end of stop-and-frisk tactics that corralled so many innocent New Yorkers into the criminal-justice system. The city got the mayor it wanted — and then, because of Mr. de Blasio, it got Mr. Bratton.

Mr. Bratton’s faith in “broken windows” needs rethinking. But nothing will be fixed as long as police officers are refusing to do their jobs.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

does believing overseers are constantly under fire serve a productive function for society?

theatlantic |  Here's Radley Balko quantifying those "risks" police officers face:
Policing has been getting safer for 20 years. In terms of raw number of deaths, 2013 was the safest year for cops since World War II. If we look at the rate of deaths, 2013 was the safest year for police in well over a century .... You’re more likely to be murdered simply by living in about half of the largest cities in America than you are while working as a police officer.
Nearly half of those deaths are from automobile accidents. Balko is somewhat frustrated that despite the empirical facts around policing, nothing seems to penetrate the narrative of police living under constant threat. Why? Is it that most people are just basically ignorant of the information? Is it that most people just believe, uncritically, what police officers tell them?

Or is there something more? Forgive me. I have not yet fully worked this all out. But Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn describes the prisoners headed to the Soviet Gulag as waves flowing underground. These waves "provided sewage disposal for the life flowering on the surface." I understand this to mean that the gulag was not just mindless evil—was not just incomprehensible insanity—but served some sort of productive and knowable purpose.

Could it be that believing our police to be constantly under fire is not mysterious—that it serves some productive function, that society actually derives something from its peace officers engaged in forever war? And can we say that the function of the war here at home is not simply a response to violent crime (which has plunged) but to some other need? And knowing that identity is not simply defined by what we are, but what we are not, can it be that our police help give us identity, by branding one class of people as miscreants, outsiders, and thugs, and thus establishing some other class as upstanding, as citizens, as Americans? Does the feeling of being besieged serve some actual purpose?

I am not sure this is all correct. But if the direction is right, then it becomes possible to understand the NYPD's protest (and the toothless admonitions of the commissioner) not as mindless petulance, but as something systemic, as a natural outgrowth of our needs.

searching for wizard of watts I chanced upon a magical bon mot...,

Monday, January 05, 2015

about time...,

WaPo |  How is the Pentagon going to replace its very own Yoda? We’re about to find out.

The Defense Department just advertised that is searching for a new director for its Office of Net Assessment. The position was held for decades by Andrew W. Marshall, 93, who founded the Pentagon’s internal think tank in 1973 and was the only leader it ever had. Marshall, who decided to retire this past fall, was widely known by the nickname Yoda, after the wise alien character in the “Star Wars” franchise.

A job advertisement on the Web site says the position pays up to $183,330 per year, with a base of $121,957. The position will remain a Senior Executive Service job, putting it on par with other senior Pentagon jobs. It’s basic “futurist” function is the same: Consider crises and apocalyptic scenarios that could occur, and possible responses.

“The Director of Net Assessment is the Principal Staff Assistance and advisor to the Secretary of Defense for net assessment matters,” the job ad says. “The Director’s primary function is to develop assessments that compare the standings, trends and future prospects of U.S. military capability and military potential with that of other countries.”

[It's been 6+ years since I put up anything about the old wizard of oz]

before they classified a bunch of the reports and anonymized the members - this used to be one of my favorite websites..., |  The Defense Science Board (or DSB) is a committee of civilian experts appointed to advise the U.S. Department of Defense on scientific and technical matters. It was established in 1956 on the recommendation of the second Hoover Commission.

The Board's charter states its mission as:
"The Board shall provide the Secretary of Defense, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and, as requested, other Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Principal Staff Assistants, the Secretaries of the Military Departments, the Commanders of the Combatant Commands, independent advice and recommendations on scientific, technical, manufacturing, acquisition process, and other matters of special interest to the Department of Defense. The Board is not established to advise on individual DoD procurements, but instead shall be concerned with the pressing and complex technology problems facing the Department of Defense in such areas as research, engineering, and manufacturing, and will ensure the identification of new technologies and new applications of technology in those areas to strengthen national security. No matter shall be assigned to the Board for its consideration that would require any Board Member to participate personally and substantially in the conduct of any specific procurement or place him or her in the position of acting as a "procurement officials," as that term is defined pursuant to law. The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics or designated representative shall be authorized to act upon the advice and recommendations of the Board."[1]
The DSB conducts multiple simultaneous studies each year. Study topics are selected from requests made by Department of Defense or Congressional leaders. In addition to studies that can start and stop at any time during the calendar year, the DSB usually conducts one or more "summer studies" each year; the term "summer study" refers to the fact that the panels meet as a large group in August each year (usually in Irvine, California) to work on these particular studies. Given the fact that these meeting dates are well-established, it is a normal practice for senior DoD personnel interested in the particular study topics for that year to come to the last day of the meeting and be briefed in person on the study findings to-date. All DSB studies result in a written report, many of which are released to the public.[2]
Current study topics are also mostly listed on the DSB web page.[3]

why did the hon.bro.preznit say pyongyang did it?

cbsnews |  Fixing blame for cyber attacks is frustratingly difficult, partly because originators often employ proxies, partly because attack analysis turns up diversionary red herrings that implicate innocents. And that's just the start of the problem. 

It goes without saying by now that cyber weapons enlarge and blur understood definitions of war. Cyber aggressors include nation states, their private contractors, non-state evildoers, and corporate interests. There are no norms or conventions framing acceptable behavior in cyberspace -- the cyber version of arms treaties. There's no playbook for proportional retaliation, nor protocols for cooperative defensive action that join public and private interests. (As evidence of our own cultural confusion, some called news coverage of looted Sony data "near treason" -- as if the embarrassing email rants of studio execs are akin to nuclear launch codes.) 

Any rapid, unequivocal, on-the-record conclusion about who perpetrated what should raise eyebrows. This is especially true with Europeans, who harbor broad hesitation about such U.S. pronouncements after all those keenly recalled 2003 assurances about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. 

Here the burden of proof is also high, and the skeptics are rightfully speaking up in greater numbers.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

peak empire (is the u.s. military past its peak ROI and subject to collapse?)

cluborlov |  In the case of the US empire, it has not continued to expand by territorial acquisition. The last territory acquired was the Marshall Islands in 1947, which then became a UN Trust Territory, followed by Independence in 1986. What has continued to expand is the presence of US military installations all over the world. As the recently deceased analyst Chalmers Johnson explained, the US is an “empire of bases”, not an empire of colonies. The US has 800-1000 foreign military bases and 4-5000 bases in the US. Colonies are so passé these days. Why bother with colonies when you can impose your will with a few bases, and you don’t have to manage the whole country. Besides you can outsource most everything to contractors, so you don’t even need the consent of the governed. All you need is their tax money, which the sheeple continue to provide with barely a bleat.

Looking at the DOD Base Structure reports it is possible to graph the total acreage owned by the US military both in the US, in foreign countries, and in US foreign territories. Since both foreign countries and territories are occupied, I will lump them together. It is also valid to use total military acreage including the US, since the 50 states of the US are essentially occupied territory of the US military as well.

 I was unable to find data before 1957, but total acreage under management by the US military had a recent peak in 2007, while foreign acreage peaked in 2004. This data is from official US DOD base structure reports, which according to Chalmers Johnson leaves out quite a bit, but from a relative point of view over time, it is probably adequate. I have included the excel sheet data, and others are welcome to add to the data and do a more thorough job graphing this data.

Military spending

Looking at US military spending below, it has continued to rise, despite the recent decline in acreage under management. This is entirely consistent with Tainter’s theory of declining marginal utility to expanding empires, as imperial overstretch becomes more and more expensive, and returns to expenditures begins to decline, and even become negative. It would be entirely consistent for the expenditures to continue to rise as the empire attempts to hold onto its existing level of military acreage, until interest on the debt causes a default, and then expenditures also collapse.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

by his own admission, scalise is duke without the baggage (he will be whip and not held to account)

WaPo |  That David Duke had a following and a constituency was undeniable, given the support he attracted in his campaigns. Conservatives like Scalise, who came along later, wanted the support of many of Duke’s supporters — even if they rejected his racist politics. 

Robert Mann, who has worked for a number of Democratic elected officials from Louisiana and is now a professor at Louisiana State University, made another point in an e-mail message sent Tuesday. “Duke’s racial views were — and still are to some degree — pretty mainstream among a significant percentage of whites here,” he wrote.

It’s noteworthy that Republicans now have a diverse set of statewide elected officials in the South and elsewhere: an African American senator (Tim Scott of South Carolina), two Indian American governors (Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Nikki Haley of South Carolina), and two Hispanic governors (Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada). 

Equally noteworthy is the degree to which the Republican Party still struggles to expand its voter coalition to include more minorities. That Democrats still command 90 percent of the African American vote and that Mitt Romney won just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012 underscores the distance Republicans must travel.

Today, the two major parties highlight the racial gaps that exist in society. Scott Clement of The Washington Post’s polling unit looked at the racial makeup of the two political parties, based on surveys conducted in the past 15 months. In those polls, the percentage of self-identified Republicans who were white averaged 85 percent. Among Democrats, the average percentage of whites was 53 percent.

Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute wrote recently in the National Journal that, with the continuing decline in support for Democrats among working-class whites and the failure of Republicans to attract more support among minorities, “it is possible to see a future where the GOP is clearly and distinctly a white party, while Democrats are clearly a majority-minority party.”

uhmurkan antics through a veblenesque satirical lens...,

farmingpathogens |  On the first day of the year 2015, the local team of “student-athletes,” an untranslatable term of earnest irony, was roundly crushed by a more highly ranked and skilled team from another apartheid state, Missouri. And yet in a periodical widely distributed across the region before the game, every one of five indigenous commentators predicted the local contingent would win. 

The pressures of in-group affirmation appear ritualized even among specialists paid with community surpluses to exercise critical judgment. 

The rites of prestidigitation, here a representativeness heuristic violating Bayes’ Theorem, extend to other domains of being and becoming. These include attempts at mutual wish fulfillment, presenting, for instance, racial redlining and reverse reparations as mindful liberalism.

Friday, January 02, 2015

the tragedy of the american military

theatlantic |  Ours is the best-equipped fighting force in history, and it is incomparably the most expensive. By all measures, today’s professionalized military is also better trained, motivated, and disciplined than during the draft-army years. No decent person who is exposed to today’s troops can be anything but respectful of them and grateful for what they do.

Yet repeatedly this force has been defeated by less modern, worse-equipped, barely funded foes. Or it has won skirmishes and battles only to lose or get bogged down in a larger war. Although no one can agree on an exact figure, our dozen years of war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and neighboring countries have cost at least $1.5 trillion; Linda J. Bilmes, of the Harvard Kennedy School, recently estimated that the total cost could be three to four times that much. Recall that while Congress was considering whether to authorize the Iraq War, the head of the White House economic council, Lawrence B. Lindsey, was forced to resign for telling The Wall Street Journal that the all-in costs might be as high as $100 billion to $200 billion, or less than the U.S. has spent on Iraq and Afghanistan in many individual years.

Yet from a strategic perspective, to say nothing of the human cost, most of these dollars might as well have been burned. “At this point, it is incontrovertibly evident that the U.S. military failed to achieve any of its strategic goals in Iraq,” a former military intelligence officer named Jim Gourley wrote recently for Thomas E. Ricks’s blog, Best Defense. “Evaluated according to the goals set forth by our military leadership, the war ended in utter defeat for our forces.” In 13 years of continuous combat under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the longest stretch of warfare in American history, U.S. forces have achieved one clear strategic success: the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Their many other tactical victories, from overthrowing Saddam Hussein to allying with Sunni tribal leaders to mounting a “surge” in Iraq, demonstrated great bravery and skill. But they brought no lasting stability to, nor advance of U.S. interests in, that part of the world. When ISIS troops overran much of Iraq last year, the forces that laid down their weapons and fled before them were members of the same Iraqi national army that U.S. advisers had so expensively yet ineffectively trained for more than five years.

ebola in mosul?

zerohedge |  Forget targeted US airstrikes, ISIS faces a new existential threat. Citing an unnamed source in a Mosul hospital, Iraq's official pro-government newspaper, al Sabaah, said Ebola arrived in Mosul from "terrorists" who came "from several countries" and Africa. Mashable further confirms, three outlets reported that Ebola showed up at a hospital in Mosul. For now, it's unclear if any disease experts or doctors in Mosul are even able to test for the Ebola virus; but it would mark the first time the virus had been detected in an area controlled by ISIS, a group that doesn't embrace science and modern medicine.

Reports that Islamic State militants in Mosul have contracted Ebola swirled though Iraqi media sources on Wednesday. World Health Organization officials said they haven't confirmed the cases, but the organization has reached out to offer assistance.

"We have no official notification from [the Iraqi government] that it is Ebola," Christy Feig, WHO's director of communications told Mashable.

Feig added that WHO is in the process of reaching out to government officials in Iraq to see if they need help investigating the cases, a task that could be a challenge, given the restrictions that would come with operating in ISIS-controlled territory.

It's unclear if any disease experts or doctors in Mosul are even able to test for the Ebola virus. A Kurdish official, who was convinced the cases are Ebola, told the Kurdish media outlet Xendan that the militants' symptoms were similar to those of the Ebola virus.

Citing an unnamed source in a Mosul hospital, Iraq's official pro-government newspaper, al Sabaah, said the disease arrived in Mosul from "terrorists" who came "from several countries" and Africa.

If the cases in Mosul turn out to be Ebola — a scenario that, at this point, seems highly unlikely — it would mark the first time the virus had been detected in an area controlled by ISIS, a group that doesn't embrace science and modern medicine.

Over the past few weeks, militants affiliated with ISIS have executed more than a dozen doctors in Mosul, according to Benjamin T. Decker, an intelligence analyst with the Levantine Group, a Middle East-based geopolitical risk and research consultancy.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

here's one way to know

Google Play | *This app requires root access and will only run on devices with Qualcomm chipset.*
SnoopSnitch collects and analyzes mobile radio data to make you aware of your mobile network security and to warn you about threats like fake base stations (IMSI catchers), user tracking, and SS7 attacks.
To use SnoopSnitch, a rooted device with a Qualcomm chipset running stock Android 4.1 or higher is required. Unfortunately, custom ROMs are often unsupported at the moment as they can lack necessary proprietary drivers. (Some successful CyanogenMod installs have been reported.)
This application uses data contributed by other users. By choosing to upload your measurement results or security events, you can help improve this data base and support future research.

are they listening to you

Motherboard | ​Are the police tracking you with a fake cell phone tower? Maybe! Probably, even. But, until now, there was absolutely no way of knowing if your phone was automatically connecting to a so-called "Stingray" or other location tracker. Finally, there's an app that is supposedly able to detect the tools police use to track people en masse.
Law enforcement all around the world have been using International Mobile Subscriber Identity catchers, popularly known by the most popular brand name, Stingray, for several years now to track criminal suspects, all the while snatching up the location data of everyone in a geographical radius. Their use is highly controversial because, due to the nature of the way they work—by posing as a cell phone tower and routing cell connection traffic through the device to actual cell phone towers—it's impossible to avoid snatching up the data of innocent bystanders.
Because of this limitation, their use is illegal in some countries and has been ruled unconstitutional in several states (most recently in Florida).
Beyond that, we generally have no idea where the hell law enforcement is actually using them. Thanks to a combination of Freedom of Information Act requests, court cases in which evidence from IMSI catchers were used, media reports, and information leaks, we now know that at least 12 federal agencies and 19 states use Stingrays, but we have no idea when they're used, the parameters for when they can be used, and where, specifically, they are used. As for the other 31 states? We have no idea.
That's all a long way of saying that the introduction of SnoopSnitch, an app that can detect the use of IMSI catchers in real time is long, long overdue and extremely welcome. The app was announced and released at the Chaos Computer Congress conference this weekend by SRLabs, a team of German security experts led by Alex Senier, Karsten Nohl, and Tobias Engel.
"Your every movement can be tracked all over the world," Engel said. "You, as the subscriber, cannot do anything. You can tell your operator to take action, or you can throw away the phone, but you can't do anything because it's happening at a network level."

does cia/fbi top the society of jesus, or, does the society of jesus top cia/fbi?

Wikipedia |  United States, 28 colleges and universities in 19 states[83]

a human, humane, smiling and intelligent face looking at the core human tragedy of social exclusion...,

esquire |  Papal encyclicals are odd beasts. In the lives of even semi-devout Roman Catholics, an encyclical can simultaneously be a complete anachronism and every bit  as immediate as a trip to druggist to buy your birth control. In Bare Ruined Choirs, historian Garry Wills gives a fine thumbnail history of them in the context of Humanae Vitae, the ruinous encyclical on artificial birth control circulated by Pope Paul VI. Wills traces how encyclicals began as a call from orthodox bishops to ally themselves against various beliefs that they believed to be heretical, specifically Arianism. As the Church centralized itself around the papacy, the collegial aspect of encyclicals withered away and they were transformed into a way for the pope to propound his views to the bishops, and to the Church itself. More to the point, as Wills illustrates through the example of how theologians of both the left and the right found reasons to support Humanae Vitae while the great majority of Catholic laypeople were ignoring it entirely, the former group  used the "old trick of curial theologians" whereby the Clan of the Red Beanie would go about "sneaking generally accepted things up to the scale of authority to 'practical' infallibility," even though encyclicals are not issued under the strict parameters required of infallible pronouncements designed by the First Vatican Council by that prince of fools, Pius IX. Basically, in my experience, and in my own very limited study of the matter, encycicals are basically what you make of them. And, if Papa Francesco is seriously about to do what he's apparently about to do, this is a very big deal, indeed.

In 2015, the pope will issue a lengthy message on the subject to the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, give an address to the UN general assembly and call a summit of the world's main religions. The reason for such frenetic activity, says Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences, is the pope's wish to directly influence next year's crucial UN climate meeting in Paris, when countries will try to conclude 20 years of fraught negotiations with a universal commitment to reduce emissions. "Our academics supported the pope's initiative to influence next year's crucial decisions," Sorondo told Cafod, the Catholic development agency, at a meeting in London. "The idea is to convene a meeting with leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion."  Fist tap Dale.

fascinating how an emphasis on christian morality is greeted as "radical"...,

democracynow |  Given the sheer number of people who identify as Catholics worldwide, the pope’s clarion call to tackle climate change could reach far more people than even the largest environmental groups. Globally, there are 1.2 billion Catholics, of which around 75 million live here in the United States. The pope also plans to address the United Nations General Assembly and convene a summit of the world’s main religions in hopes of bolstering next year’s crucial U.N. climate summit in Paris.
Last year, during his first Christmas mass as head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis called for protection of the environment from human greed.
POPE FRANCIS: [translated] Lord of heaven and Earth, look upon our planet, frequently exploited by human greed and rapacity. Help and protect all of the victims of natural disasters, especially the beloved people of the Philippines gravely affected by the recent typhoon.
AMY GOODMAN: This year, Pope Francis shocked cardinals, bishops and priests by using his annual Christmas remarks to deliver a scathing critique of the Vatican itself, the central governing body of the Catholic Church. He said the Vatican is plagued with "spiritual Alzheimer’s," "existential schizophrenia," "social exhibitionism" and a lust for power—all of which have resulted in an "orchestra that plays out of tune," he said. Pope Francis also lambasted the gossip, pettiness and rivalry he said were infecting the church. This is part of what he said.
POPE FRANCIS: [translated] There is also the sickness of the stony mind and spirit, of those who have a stone heart and a hard neck, of those who along the way lose their inner serenity, their vivacity and their audacity, and end up hiding behind papers, becoming machines for practices and not men of God. It is dangerous to lose the human sensitivity that we need to cry with those who cry and to rejoice with those who rejoice.
AMY GOODMAN: Pope Francis has also captured global attention for his criticism of capitalism, his softer tone on key social issues including abortion and homosexuality, and his calls to refocus the church toward the needs of the poor. In his personal life, the pope has chosen to live simply at the Vatican, residing in a guest house instead of the Apostolic Palace, forgoing a chauffeured Mercedes in favor a plain black sedan.

He’s also made headlines for his everyday acts of extraordinary compassion. He invited a teenager with Down syndrome, Alberto di Tullio, for a ride in the Popemobile. He embraced and kissed Vinicio Riva, a man severely scarred by a genetic disease. And he washed a dozen prisoners’ feet at a jail for juveniles in Rome. The pope also responded to a letter from a rape survivor by personally calling to console her, saying, "You are not alone."

Most recently, the pope has emerged as a star diplomat, a key player in the thawing of relations between the Cuba government and the United States. Cuban President Raúl Castro thanked him for his support.
PRESIDENT RAÚL CASTRO: [translated] This decision by President Obama deserves respect and recognition from our people. I would like to thank and recognize the support of the Vatican, and especially that of Pope Francis, in helping improve the relations between Cuba and the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this month, the pope offered to assist the United States with another diplomatic hurdle: its efforts to close Guantánamo prison. The Vatican has reportedly offered to help find adequate humanitarian solutions through its international contacts.

jesuitical rigor and morality on a collision course with evangelical ignorance and hypocrisy...,

guardian |  In recent months, the pope has argued for a radical new financial and economic system to avoid human inequality and ecological devastation. In October he told a meeting of Latin American and Asian landless peasants and other social movements: “An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it.
“The system continues unchanged, since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. It is no longer man who commands, but money. Cash commands.

“The monopolising of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness,” he said.

In Lima last month, bishops from every continent expressed their frustration with the stalled climate talks and, for the first time, urged rich countries to act.

Sorondo, a fellow Argentinian who is known to be close to Pope Francis, said: “Just as humanity confronted revolutionary change in the 19th century at the time of industrialisation, today we have changed the natural environment so much. If current trends continue, the century will witness unprecedented climate change and destruction of the ecosystem with tragic consequences.”

According to Neil Thorns, head of advocacy at Cafod, said: “The anticipation around Pope Francis’s forthcoming encyclical is unprecedented. We have seen thousands of our supporters commit to making sure their MPs know climate change is affecting the poorest communities.”

However, Francis’s environmental radicalism is likely to attract resistance from Vatican conservatives and in rightwing church circles, particularly in the US – where Catholic climate sceptics also include John Boehner, Republican leader of the House of Representatives and Rick Santorum, the former Republican presidential candidate.

Cardinal George Pell, a former archbishop of Sydney who has been placed in charge of the Vatican’s budget, is a climate change sceptic who has been criticised for claiming that global warming has ceased and that if carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were doubled, then “plants would love it”.