10 December 2017

As Atrios Would Say, "Time for a Blogger Ethics Panel"

It appears that LA Times senior security reporter in Washington DC, made a habit of taking direction from the CIA on the content of his stories:
A prominent national security reporter for the Los Angeles Times routinely submitted drafts and detailed summaries of his stories to CIA press handlers prior to publication, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.

Email exchanges between CIA public affairs officers and Ken Dilanian, now an Associated Press intelligence reporter who previously covered the CIA for the Times, show that Dilanian enjoyed a closely collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication. In at least one instance, the CIA’s reaction appears to have led to significant changes in the story that was eventually published in the Times.

“I’m working on a story about congressional oversight of drone strikes that can present a good opportunity for you guys,” Dilanian wrote in one email to a CIA press officer, explaining that what he intended to report would be “reassuring to the public” about CIA drone strikes. In another, after a series of back-and-forth emails about a pending story on CIA operations in Yemen, he sent a full draft of an unpublished report along with the subject line, “does this look better?” In another, he directly asks the flack: “You wouldn’t put out disinformation on this, would you?”


Dilanian’s emails were included in hundreds of pages of documents that the CIA turned over in response to two FOIA requests seeking records on the agency’s interactions with reporters. They include email exchanges with reporters for the Associated Press, Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other outlets. In addition to Dilanian’s deferential relationship with the CIA’s press handlers, the documents show that the agency regularly invites journalists to its McLean, Va., headquarters for briefings and other events. Reporters who have addressed the CIA include the Washington Post‘s David Ignatius, the former ombudsmen for the New York Times, NPR, and Washington Post, and Fox News’ Brett Baier, Juan Williams, and Catherine Herridge.

Dilanian left the Times to join the AP last May, and the emails released by the CIA only cover a few months of his tenure at the Times. They show that in June 2012, shortly after 26 members of congress wrote a letter to President Obama saying they were “deeply concerned” about the drone program, Dilanian approached the agency about story that he pitched as “a good opportunity” for the government.
It appears that the AP has conducted a review and called it all hunky-dory.

Of course, Google and Facebook are doing their level best to ensure that this sort of corrupt incestuous "journalism" is never challenged, by filtering out alternate views as, "Fake News."

At Least, There is Symmetry

The Russians made an offer to stop trying to effect US elections.

It was rejected out of hand, because the US was unwilling to promise not to meddle in Russian elections:
The Trump administration has rejected a sweeping Russian proposal seeking a mutual ban on foreign political interference, three senior US administration officials tell BuzzFeed News.

Russia first broached the subject in July, when one of Vladimir Putin’s top diplomats arrived in Washington with a sheet of proposals aimed at addressing a top concern of the US government: A resurgence of Russian meddling in the 2018 elections.


To test the possibility of a mutual agreement, Putin dispatched Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov to Washington for a July 17 meeting with Under Secretary Tom Shannon, the No. 3 official at the State Department. The official US account of the meeting offered only a bland summary of conversations on “areas of mutual concern.” But three US administration officials, including one inside the meeting, said Ryabkov handed over a document containing a bold proposal: A sweeping noninterference agreement between Moscow and Washington that would prohibit both governments from meddling in the other’s domestic politics.

After examining the proposal, which has not previously been reported, US officials told Moscow there would be no deal.

“We said ‘thank you very much but now is not the time for this,’” said a senior State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic discussions.


The US official described the Russian proposal in historic terms, likening it to the 1933 accord between President Franklin Roosevelt and Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs Maxim Litvinov that ended 16 years of American nonrecognition of the Soviet Union in exchange for a pledge not to interfere in US politics.

Ryabkov proposed “that we come to terms and agree not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs,” said the senior US official. “Historically, it relates back to the agreements that were done at the beginning of Franklin Roosevelt’s administration when we were establishing a relationship with the Soviet Union for the very first time,” said the senior official.


When asked if the president weighed in on the proposal, a spokesman for the National Security Council said only that the White House and State Department “coordinated closely on the United States’ response.” The spokesman was quick to point out that deliberations over the noninterference agreement never advanced to the stage of formal bilateral negotiations.


A second senior State Department official said any potential gains would come at too high a cost. “We would have to give up democracy promotion in Russia, which we’re not willing to do,” said the official.


Advocates of a deal point to President Barack Obama’s 2015 accord with China aimed at reducing commercial cyber espionage as an instructive case study.

“While Obama was criticized at the time for what looked to some like capitulation, experts now agree that the deal had at least some positive benefit,” said Kimberly Marten, the director of Columbia University’s program on US-Russia relations. Martin cited a 2016 report by the network-security firm FireEye finding that Chinese hackers had carried out fewer attacks on US targets.

She also said Putin’s paranoia about US meddling in Russia’s upcoming election could produce serious negotiations with Moscow. Putin “will almost certainly win another six-year term, unless the United States disrupts things by, say, releasing a cache of compromising material that turns the Russian population against him,” she wrote in a recent article. “To avoid that possibility, Putin might just find an anti-doxing agreement to be useful.”
(emphasis mine)

Apart from the misuse of the term "Doxing," these reports place allegations of meddling in elections in a different light:  The US openly, and aggressively, meddling in foreign elections.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who follows history.

Canada is Trying to Save the American Labor Movement

The Canadian government is meeting with some of the country’s biggest labor groups to discuss Nafta as talks on the deal are set to resume.

Labor Minister Patricia Hajdu will meet union leaders Friday in a round-table discussion near Toronto to get input on the North American Free Trade Agreement. It’s the latest sign that labor has the Trudeau government’s ear in talks that could hinge, in part, on Canada’s push to raise working standards in both the U.S. and Mexico.

“That’s an indication of how much we value our labor movement, and we want to make sure as we go into negotiations that the rights of Canadian workers are protected,” Hajdu said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We’ll do everything in our power to make sure of that.”

Nafta talks resume Monday with a partial round in Washington, without political leaders at the table. Canada wants the U.S. to undo so-called “right to work” provisions in some states, while also calling on Mexico to raise labor standards. One of Canada’s top union leaders, Jerry Dias, has met often with the Canadian negotiating team and regularly predicts Nafta talks will fail.

Trudeau has been pushing to add “progressive” elements like labor, gender and the environment into all trade negotiations -- a move derided by political opponents as “virtue signaling” that could make it tougher to get a deal. That strategy was a driving factor in the surprise false start this week of trade talks with China, a country that typically shuns the bells and whistles Canada wants in any trade deal.

Those added elements are among Nafta’s sticking points. Canada wants its two North American partners to ratify eight core conventions, including the right to organize, laid out by the International Labour Organization to make Nafta work. “We did put forward a very ambitious proposal on labor,” chief negotiator Steve Verheul told lawmakers this week. While Canada has adopted all eight and Mexico has nearly done so, the U.S. has adopted only two, Verheul said. “The U.S. is resisting that proposal.”

Canada’s call to claw back U.S. “right-to-work” laws, which ban unions from requiring workers to pay dues, is another obstacle. “The U.S. is also resisting that,” Verheul said.
As Yves Smith pithily observes, "Sounds like the Canadians are doing better by labor than our own Democrats."

The history of the modern Democratic Party does not show meaningful support for organized labor.

When Republicans pass so-called "right-to-work " laws, Democrats never repeal them, and the Obama administration dropped its support for the Employee Free Choice Act (Card Check) before the last states were called in 2008.

The positions pushed by Trudeau benefit workers in all three of the signatories of NAFTA, so I expect Democrats, or at least the current Democratic Party establishment to vociferously oppose labor justice, because they have sold their souls to big donors.

09 December 2017

Best Political Tweet Ever

This encapsulates the Democratic establishment, and what needs to be done with it, in a nutshell:
This is brilliant.

My computer finally finished updating.

Light Posting Tonight

After 2 hours, Windows 10 is still updating.

Posted via mobile.

08 December 2017

Snark of the Day

A Second Chance: This Amazing Organization Helps Disgraced Pedophiles Rebuild Their Lives By Getting Them Elected To Political Office
We have finally found a positive social value to the Republican Party, they keep perverts off the streets.
We just had the 11th credit union closing of the year, Riverdale Credit Union in Selma, ​AL.

11 credit union failures, and only 7 commercial bank failures.

I still have no explanation for all of this.

This is Some Weird Sh%$

It's clear that the sexual harassment situation in Congress is a bipartisan phenomenon, but the Republicans have really nailed the skeevy side of things.

Case in point, Trent Franks (R-AZ) will be resigning because he tried to coerce his women staff members into renting out their uteruses (uteri?) to him:
Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican who is among the most conservative members of the House, said he would resign his seat after House officials learned that he had asked two female employees to bear his child as a surrogate.

Franks’s announcement came as the House Ethics Committee said it would create a special subcommittee to investigate Franks for conduct “that constitutes sexual harassment and/or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment.”

His resignation, which Franks said is effective Jan. 31, will end the ethics investigation.

Franks said in his statement that the investigation concerns his “discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable.”

While Franks’s statement left the circumstances of the “discussion” murky, three Republicans familiar with the allegations said that he had asked the staffers, who worked for him at the time but have since left his office, if they would serve as a surrogate mother for his child. A spokesman for Franks did not respond to a request for comment on that claim.
Seriously, this is just f%$#ing creepy.

One would have thought that natural selection should have made them extinct by now, because it appears that the required preparation for coitus would require some seriously sick, and hard to find, sh%$.

So Not a Surprise

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is claiming that more disclosure can be a substitute for net neutrality, but his proposed changes gut disclosure.

Rule number one of Republicans is that they lie about everything.  Rule number 2 is, "See rule number 1."

Hidden fees that show up on broadband bills after customers sign up for service have long been a source of frustration for Internet users.

Because advertised prices often don't reflect the full cost of service, the Federal Communications Commission in 2015 forced ISPs to be more transparent with customers about hidden fees and the consequences of exceeding data caps. The new requirements were part of the net neutrality rules—and are therefore going to be eliminated when the FCC votes to repeal the rules next week.

While FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing to keep some of the commission's existing disclosure rules and to impose some new disclosure requirements, ISPs won't have to tell consumers exactly what everything will cost when they sign up for service.


Here are the disclosures that ISPs currently have to make—but won't have to after the repeal:
  • Price—the full monthly service charge. Any promotional rates should be clearly noted as such, specify the duration of the promotional period and the full monthly service charge the consumer will incur after the expiration of the promotional period.
  • Other Fees—all additional one time and/or recurring fees and/or surcharges the consumer may incur either to initiate, maintain, or discontinue service, including the name, definition, and cost of each additional fee. These may include modem rental fees, installation fees, service charges, and early termination fees, among others.
  • Data Caps and Allowances—any data caps or allowances that are a part of the plan the consumer is purchasing, as well as the consequences of exceeding the cap or allowance (e.g., additional charges, loss of service for the remainder of the billing cycle).
Pai's proposed net neutrality repeal says those requirements and others adopted in 2015 are too onerous for ISPs.

07 December 2017

First, Walk the Damn Walk

The problem here is that in order for this message to work, Democrats would have to actually support the average working man against their big dollar donors in finance.

If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell to you:
Democrats are ready to embrace a class war — and blame Republicans for starting it.

The GOP’s controversial dual effort to revamp the health care system and tax code has convinced Democrats they should bluntly assail Republicans as the defenders of out-of-touch plutocrats, a message party operatives have already begun to poll-test, include in attacks ads, and use against vulnerable incumbents even before Saturday’s passage of the Senate GOP bill.

And rather than wince at the inevitable retorts that the party is trying to instigate a class war, leading party strategists say they welcome the attack — confident the GOP’s legislative priorities make them a more likely culprit in the public’s mind.

“If Democrats are worried about class war, well, the Republicans started it,” said John Lapp, a veteran Democratic strategist. “And bring it on.”

Quipped one party operative: “If we’re eating the rich, they bit first.”

An avowed focus on the middle class is part of a well-worn playbook for Democrats, who traditionally regarded themselves as the defenders of workers. But they think the message has fresh resonance now, in the face of the GOP’s legislative agenda, and especially after President Donald Trump’s populist campaign promised repeatedly to defend the working class.
 Yeah.  NAFTA, TPP, CAFTA, the bank bailout, HAMP, etc.

You really build some meaningful credibility on that issue before trying to campaign on it.

Because people won't believe you otherwise, and they would be right.

Well, a Bit of Good News

MSNBC has decided to review their decision to capitulate to the alt-right pro rape flying monkeys, and so they will renew Sam Seder's contract:
Progressive radio and television personality Sam Seder will be offered his MSNBC contributor job back and plans to accept, according to multiple MSNBC sources.

Seder and MSNBC were set to part ways when his contributor contract expired next year, with reports indicating the departure had to do with a 2009 tweet from Seder surfaced by the far-right provocateur Mike Cernovich. After initially caving in to right-wing internet outrage over the tweet, MSNBC reversed its decision to not renew Seder’s contract.


Cernovich is a right-wing provocateur and conspiracy theorist who works in hand-in-glove with white supremacists. Cernovich dug up a 2009 tweet from Seder and claimed it endorsed rape. The tweet was meant as a satirical criticism of accused rapist Roman Polanski’s liberal defenders, but MSNBC took Cernovich’s bad-faith reading at face value and fired Seder.

“Sometimes you just get one wrong,” said MSNBC President Phil Griffin in a statement to The Intercept, “and that’s what happened here. We made our initial decision for the right reasons — because we don’t consider rape to be a funny topic to be joked about. But we’ve heard the feedback, and we understand the point Sam was trying to make in that tweet was actually in line with our values, even though the language was not. Sam will be welcome on our air going forward.”
Basically, the entire internet started going medieval on their asses for their craven cluelessness, and they realized that it was time to surrender to a different force.

What part of, "Mike Cernovich" is a pro-rape racist lying asshole don't you get?

I Hate Feet of Clay

Sen. Al Franken announced Thursday that he will resign from the Senate amid a growing number of women accusing the Democrat of kissing, groping and touching them without their consent.

Franken, who said some of the allegations were not true and others he “remembered differently,” was considered by many to be a “rising star” in the Democratic party that might have run for president in 2020.

“In the coming weeks, I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate,” he said on the Senate floor.

“I of all people am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,” Franken said in reference to President Donald Trump and Republican Senate hopeful Roy Moore.
Why couldn't this have been Joe Manchin?

Love Me, I'm A Liberal

Roll Phil Ochs
Liberalism is all well and good for papered staff at elite educational institutions when it doesn't actually cost them anything personally:
Georgetown University this week refused to support a movement by graduate students to unionize, arguing that teaching and research assistants are students, not employees.

The decision arrives a month after the Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees asked university president John DeGioia to support their union campaign. The students said that embracing a union would align with the school’s Jesuit values affirming the dignity of labor. University leaders, however, maintain the work that graduate students contribute is fundamental to their studies and should be considered part of their education.

Georgetown’s decision echoes opposition to graduate student unions at other prestigious universities. Yale University, Boston College and Columbia University have railed against a 2016 National Labor Relations Board ruling that granted teaching and research assistants the legal protection to unionize. Yale, Columbia and Princeton posted information on their websites warning students that unionizing could alter their relationship with faculty and limit their individual rights once a union becomes their collective voice.

In a letter sent this week to the school’s graduate student alliance, Georgetown provost Robert M. Groves and Edward B. Healton, the school’s executive vice president for health sciences, said the university is “eager” to address issues that affect graduate students, but not through collective bargaining.


The union organizers want to join the American Federation of Teachers. To do that, they need to file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board for an election. Organizers say they wanted the university’s backing, but will forge ahead regardless.

“We were hoping to negotiate with Georgetown administrators about the terms of the election, but now we’ll have to proceed on our own, without their help and anticipating their active push-back,” said Hailey Huget, a doctoral candidate in philosophy and a member of the graduate student alliance. “We hoped that Georgetown would be better than this.”

University leaders say they have discussed the collective bargaining campaign with the faculty senate, academic departments and the executive committee of graduate studies, the principal policy-making body for graduate programs. That committee has since passed a resolution affirming the position that students enrolled in degree programs are students and should be treated as students, not employees.
Silly grad students, don't you realize that respect for human dignity and labor rights is only for OTHER people, and that it cannot be allowed to INCONVENIENCE the august denizens of the ivory towers of academy.

You need to focus on the bad people, you know  ……… The "Deplorables".

20 Years

Michael Slager, the former North Charleston, SC police officer filmed shooting Walter Scott in the back, and then planting his Taser on the body, has been sentenced to 20 years in a federal prison for civil rights violations after the judge determined that the underlying misconduct was murder:
Michael T. Slager, the white police officer whose video-recorded killing of an unarmed black motorist in North Charleston, S.C., starkly illustrated the turmoil over racial bias in American policing, was sentenced on Thursday to 20 years in prison, after the judge in the case said he viewed the shooting as a murder.

The sentence, which was within the range of federal guidelines, was pronounced in Federal District Court in Charleston about seven months after Mr. Slager pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of Walter L. Scott when he shot and killed him in April 2015. The case against Mr. Slager is one of the few instances in which a police officer has been prosecuted for an on-duty shooting.

“We have to get this type of justice, because being a police officer is one of the most powerful jobs in the country, and it should be respected,” L. Chris Stewart, a lawyer for Mr. Scott’s family, said after the hearing, which was punctuated by tears and grief. “But that doesn’t mean you’re above the law. That doesn’t mean you can do as you please.”

Federal prosecutors had urged that Mr. Slager be sentenced to life in prison for a shooting that they contended amounted to second-degree murder. Mr. Slager’s defense lawyers, as well as the United States Probation Office, had recommended that the judge, David C. Norton, treat the shooting as akin to voluntary manslaughter.

On Thursday, the fourth day of the sentencing proceedings, Judge Norton said he had concluded that the killing should be considered murder for the purposes of determining Mr. Slager’s punishment. The shooting, he said, was “reckless, wanton and inappropriate.”


“I see him with a Taser in his hand as I see him spinning around,” Mr. Slager, who was 33 at the time of the shooting, testified later about the skirmish with Mr. Scott, who was 50. “That’s the only thing I see: that Taser in his hand.”

But Mr. Scott soon broke away, unarmed, and began to run again. Mr. Slager raised his pistol, pointed it at Mr. Scott’s back, and fired eight shots. Mr. Scott, who was at least 17 feet from Mr. Slager when the officer opened fire, fell to the ground. Moments after the shooting, Mr. Slager approached Mr. Scott and dropped his Taser near him, an action that prosecutors believed was an attempt to plant evidence and skew the investigation.

A barber who was walking to work, Feidin Santana, recorded the shooting and its aftermath on his cellphone. Mr. Santana did not immediately come forward with his recording, and the authorities initially believed Mr. Slager’s account of the encounter with Mr. Scott. But Mr. Santana’s footage transformed the case.


But the plea agreement with the Justice Department left open a central issue — whether the killing of Mr. Scott had been tantamount to second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter. More than semantics was at stake: The answer was crucial to calculating what is known as a guidelines range for sentencing in the federal courts. Until Thursday morning, it was not clear how Judge Norton would rule.

Prosecutors argued for murder because Mr. Slager “acknowledged he willfully used unreasonable force when he shot Walter Scott, even though Scott was unarmed and posed no threat.” They also said that the judge should increase Mr. Slager’s sentence because Mr. Slager had violated Mr. Scott’s civil rights under color of law and because he had “willfully obstructed justice.”
Slager dropped the Taser moments after shooting Mr. Scott in the back 8 times.

This wasn't manslaughter, and the judge was correct in his assessment of the underlying acts that led to the civil rights violation.

Here's hoping that there are more successful prosecutions of bad cops.

Snark of the Day

Ireland To Receive €13bn From Apple After Getting Unlocked By Chinese Guy In Market
The Irish government will finally be able to collect the €13bn in taxes owed by the Apple corporation, after having the entire country unlocked by a Chinese guy working out of a shop in Moore Street called Extra Good Phone Unlock & Afro Caribbean Hair Product Store.


[Irish Minister for Finance Paschal] Donohoe proudly announced that the newly unlocked Ireland was now free of the tax loopholes that allowed the massive multinational corporation to pay next to no tax for a number of years, and that the 50 euro bill for the unlocking would be subtracted from the Department of Social Protection’s budget next year.

“We’ve now got a country that is not stuck in contract, so we can do whatever we want,” beamed Donohoe, picking up a few punnets of cherries while waiting on Moore Street for the country.
 This if f%$#ing brilliant.


One of Monty Python's weirder sketches:

76 Years Ago Today

Military forces of the Empire of Japan launched a sneak attack on Pearl Bailey, or some-such like that.