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How Fake News Works: Millions of Americans Would Flunk Any Basic Civics Class

Posted on November 9th, 2017 at 13:26 by John Sinteur in category: News


Gore Vidal once remarked, “Half of the US population reads a newspaper. Half of the US population votes. Let’s hope it is the same half.”

Now, fewer than half of Americans read the newspaper, and an increasingly alarming amount report that they rely on social media for news, but many of them are still participating in the Democratic process. I often see bumper stickers that announce, “I’m Catholic and I vote” or “I’m NRA and I vote.” It seems that a lucrative merchandising opportunity exists for someone who invents the sticker, “I don’t read and I vote.”

The documentation of Americans’ ignorance on fundamental issues of history and governance is by now so thorough that it hardly bears repeating. For example, only 26 percent of Americans can name all three branches of government. These are people commonly referred to as “elitists.”

The problem is not just that Americans don’t know. It is that they don’t know what they don’t know, and they don’t know how to figure it out.


The most consequential offenders in the dissemination, and success, of fake news are not the Russians or social-media company executives, but the American education system, and the parents who are content with raising children who know little about their country, much less about the rest of the world.

Only nine states require civics as part of the high school curriculum, and many colleges have reduced or eliminated requirements in history and political science. As unimaginable as it seems, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni published a report last year that only seven of the nation’s top 25 liberal arts colleges require their history majors — this is not a joke — to take a course in US history.

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  1. I am surprised the percentage able to name the branches of government is so low, luckily in the UK we just have one branch of government, no constitution and negligible legal redress, so it’s much easier.

A �

Posted on November 8th, 2017 at 22:41 by John Sinteur in category: News


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Transgender Candidate Defeats 13-Term Catholic Homophobe in VA Delegate Race

Posted on November 8th, 2017 at 9:49 by John Sinteur in category: News


Danica Roem didn’t just win a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates tonight. She became the first transgender elected official at the state level anywhere in the nation.

And she beat one of the most homophobic Republicans in the country on her way to victory.

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  1. Cheers!!!

  2. And Bob Goodlatte says he won’t run again! And I made $400 selling junk out of my garage in the last couple of days – what a GREAT week this has been!!

What do you mean you threw away that crumpled beer can? IT WAS MY PASSWORD

Posted on November 8th, 2017 at 9:04 by John Sinteur in category: News


Scientists from Florida International University and Bloomberg have created a custom two-factor authentication (2FA) system that relies on users taking a photo of a personal object.

The act of taking the photo comes to replace the cumbersome process of using crypto-based hardware security keys (e.g., YubiKey devices) or entering verification codes received via SMS or voice call.

The new system is named Pixie, and researchers argue it is more secure than the aforementioned solutions.


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  1. Lol. security can be so secure it locks out the actual user but does nothing to protect your data.

  2. Truthfully. Software engineers must spend a week with actual users.

Automatic Donald Trump

Posted on November 7th, 2017 at 22:40 by John Sinteur in category: News


I always wanted to implement a Markov chain. They are used all over: in compression, speech recognition, telco error correction, Bayesian inference, economics, genetics, biology. They run your smartphone’s writing suggestions. Hell, even Google’s PageRank (the thing that kind of pays my bills) is defined using a Markov chain.

Markov’s idea is actually pretty simple — but its simplicity is often obstructed by thick layers of mathematical formulas and formal definitions. Few people actually grok it.

This is my shot at explaining Markov chains in a palatable and maybe even enjoyable way. How do I want to make this article enjoyable? Two things:

  • Actual code.
  • Donald Trump.

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26 Dead in Yet Another Mass Killing

Posted on November 7th, 2017 at 9:14 by John Sinteur in category: News


Now it’s time for a pop quiz: What race was the killer, and what means did he use to kill? You get three guesses, and the first two don’t count. Time’s up! His name was Devin Patrick Kelley, and of course he was white and used a gun to kill. The President’s verbiage here was his usual for a white-guy-with-a-gun attack; if it had been a person of color and/or a Muslim, he would have responded with things like “politically correct” and “terrorists” and “tougher vetting.” He also would have sent 10 tweets rather than one. This CAP Alert graphic, comparing the words Trump most commonly uses on Twitter in each of those two situations, is instructive:

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  1. Empty space. Empty feelings.

    If I begin to feel that I need a gun to protect myself from the criminals & crazies, would it be wrong to expect the gov to provide me said protection????

Vorticity (4K)

Posted on November 6th, 2017 at 14:55 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Monsoon IV (4K)

Posted on November 6th, 2017 at 14:53 by John Sinteur in category: News

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MINIX — The most popular OS in the world, thanks to Intel

Posted on November 6th, 2017 at 11:58 by John Sinteur in category: News


That’s right. A web server. Your CPU has a secret web server that you are not allowed to access, and, apparently, Intel does not want you to know about.

Why on this green Earth is there a web server in a hidden part of my CPU? WHY?

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  1. Andy wrote an open letter to Intel about it. Apparently he did not even know where to send it. See: http://www.cs.vu.nl/~ast/intel/

Donald Trump Asked Why ‘Samurai’ Japan Isn’t Shooting Down North Korean Missiles

Posted on November 6th, 2017 at 11:47 by John Sinteur in category: News


According to the Japan Times, diplomatic sources confirm that with a Monday meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looming, our very lucid leader has set low expectations with complaints that “he could not understand why a country of samurai warriors did not shoot down the missiles.”

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  1. You think *that* is bad form, read this quote from the same article:

    In a speech to troops, the president told troops, “We dominate the sky. We dominate the seas. We dominate the land and space.” He ominously added that, “Every once in a while, in the past, they underestimated us. It was not pleasant for them, was it? It was not pleasant.”

    Well, at least he was not in Hiroshima or Nagasaki when he spoke those words…

The Great College Loan Swindle

Posted on November 5th, 2017 at 23:18 by John Sinteur in category: News


Americans don’t understand the student-loan crisis because they’ve been trained to view the issue in terms of a series of separate, unrelated problems. They will read in one place that as of the summer of 2017, a record 8.5 million Americans are in default on their student debt, with about $1.3 trillion in loans still outstanding.

In another place, voters will read that the cost of higher education is skyrocketing, soaring in a seemingly market-defying arc that for nearly a decade now has run almost double the rate of inflation. Tuition for a halfway decent school now frequently surpasses $50,000 a year. How, the average newsreader wonders, can any child not born in a yacht afford to go to school these days?

In a third place, that same reader will see some heartless monster, usually a Republican, threatening to cut federal student lending. The current bogeyman is Trump, who is threatening to slash the Pell Grant program by $3.9 billion, which would seem to put higher education even further out of reach for poor and middle-income families. This too seems appalling, and triggers a different kind of response, encouraging progressive voters to lobby for increased availability for educational lending.

But the separateness of these stories clouds the unifying issue underneath: The education industry as a whole is a con. In fact, since the mortgage business blew up in 2008, education and student debt is probably our reigning unexposed nation-wide scam.

It’s a multiparty affair, what shakedown artists call a “big store scheme,” like in the movie The Sting: a complex deception requiring a big cast to string the mark along every step of the way. In higher education, every party you meet, from the moment you first set foot on campus, is in on the game.

America as a country has evolved in recent decades into a confederacy of widescale industrial scams. The biggest slices of our economic pie – sectors like health care, military production, banking, even commercial and residential real estate – have become crude income-redistribution schemes, often untethered from the market by subsidies or bailouts, with the richest companies benefiting from gamed or denuded regulatory systems that make profits almost as assured as taxes. Guaranteed-profit scams – that’s the last thing America makes with any level of consistent competence. In that light, Trump, among other things, the former head of a schlock diploma mill called Trump University, is a perfect president for these times. He’s the scammer-in-chief in the Great American Ripoff Age, a time in which fleecing students is one of our signature achievements.

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  1. “Scammer-in-chief in the Great American Ripoff Age” Well said. ….Now if just can teach people two things in high school: 1) Basic Compound interest and 2) the real view of how this f_cked up country is run by and for the rich, then maybe the entertain me set will begin to change into the vocal protest set.

How the Democrats Are Failing the Resistance

Posted on November 5th, 2017 at 23:06 by John Sinteur in category: News


And next Tuesday, we will get a dose of outside-the-bubble political reality. Ed Gillespie and Ralph Northam will be duking it out in the Virginia governor’s race in an evenly balanced, but Democratic-trending, state. It has morphed into a real-life test of how strong Trumpism will be in 2018, how effective the Democrats are as an alternative, and the future of the country. I don’t know what the result will be. But it is not looking good — for the Democrats or the country as a whole.

Northam seems to me almost a classic Democratic politician of our time. I have no idea what his core message is (and neither, it seems, does he); on paper, he’s close to perfect; his personality is anodyne; his skills as a campaigner are risible; and he has negative charisma. More to the point, he is running against an amphibian swamp creature, Ed Gillespie, and yet the Washington lobbyist is outflanking him on populism. Northam’s ads are super lame, and have lately been largely on the defensive, especially on crime, culture, and immigration. He hasn’t galvanized minority voters, has alienated many white voters, and has failed to consolidate a broader anti-Trump coalition. In Virginia, Trump’s approval rating is 38/59, but Northam is winning only 81 percent of the disapprovers, while Gillespie is winning 95 percent of the approvers. Northam’s early double-digit lead has now collapsed to within the margin of error.


Now go to Northam’s website and you see a near-copy of Clinton’s agenda last year. Drenched in wonky micro-policies, one of its exhausted themes is actually “Working Together.” If you plumb the message, behind various poll-tested good-government bromides, he even has policy proposals on concussions and STEM curricula, and a smoking ban. This is Establishment Democratic boilerplate. And Democratic turnout, in response, looks wobbly, especially among minority voters.

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There’s One Unspeakable Fix That Would Help Pay for the GOP’s Tax Cuts

Posted on November 5th, 2017 at 23:02 by John Sinteur in category: News


Paying for tax reform is easy—as long as the White House and Congress don’t mind fixing climate change at the same time.

That’s the counterintuitive pitch of Robert Litterman, a financial economist who became famous on Wall Street in the 1990s for co-inventing a method (PDF) for allocating assets within a portfolio. He went on to become Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s top risk manager and then led its quantitative asset management investments until he left in early 2010. Today, he’s the chairman of the Risk Committee at Kepos Capital.


A $25 per ton carbon tax would go a long way—almost $1 trillion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office—toward balancing out the cost of reforms. Congress has approved a 2018 budget resolution that allows room for enough tax reform to increase the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years, not accounting for growth sparked by the changes.

 Yet, to call a carbon tax dead on arrival would be an insult to dead things, since they have spent at least some time being alive.

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Donald Trump mocked by Hawaiians holding ‘welcome to Kenya’ signs

Posted on November 4th, 2017 at 23:07 by John Sinteur in category: News


Protesters in Hawaii mocked Donald Trump with signs that said “welcome to Kenya” as the President touched down on the first leg of his Asia-Pacific tour.

Making light of the President’s past enthusiasm for the so-called “birtherism” conspiracy that targeted Barack Obama, who was born in Hawaii, demonstrators also held signs that read “Aloha means goodbye” and “Immigration gave me my family”.

State congressman Kaniela Ing told Hawaii News Now: “Hawaii is the most diverse state in the nation, and just a few days ago Trump literally said, ‘Diversity sounds like a good thing, but it is not a good thing.’ That statement alone undermines the values that make Hawaii, Hawaii.”

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Inside story: How Russians hacked the Democrats’ emails

Posted on November 4th, 2017 at 22:49 by John Sinteur in category: News


The day began badly, with Hillary Clinton’s phone buzzing with crank messages after its number was exposed in a leak from the day before. The number had to be changed immediately; a former campaign official said that Abedin, Clinton’s confidante, had to call staffers one at a time with Clinton’s new contact information because no one dared put it in an email.

The same afternoon, just as the American electorate was digesting a lewd audio tape of Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women, WikiLeaks began publishing the emails stolen from Podesta.

The publications sparked a media stampede as they were doled out one batch at a time, with many news organizations tasking reporters with scrolling through the thousands of emails being released in tranches. At the AP alone, as many as 30 journalists were assigned, at various times, to go through the material.

Guccifer 2.0 told one reporter he was thrilled that WikiLeaks had finally followed through.

“Together with Assange we’ll make america great again”, he wrote.

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Poll: Democrats Want To Ditch Their Leaders And Move To The Left. They’re Right.

Posted on November 4th, 2017 at 19:53 by John Sinteur in category: News


A new poll shows that most Democratic voters want the party to move left, with new people in charge. In other words, they want a political revolution.

They’ve got the right idea.

If the party establishment thinks Robert Mueller’s investigation will save it, it’s probably wrong. After President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew were both removed from office for malfeasance, Jimmy Carter barely eked out a win in 1976. Four years later, Ronald Reagan’s victory ushered in 12 years of Republican leadership in the White House.

That’s a lesson for today’s Democrats. High crimes and misdemeanors don’t automatically translate into enthusiasm for the other party, especially in today’s murky political environment. Corruption is more likely to lead to cynicism than to citizen involvement, unless voters are given something to believe in.

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Republicans Sneak Anti-Abortion Language Into Tax Bill

Posted on November 4th, 2017 at 10:19 by John Sinteur in category: News


Republicans slipped anti-abortion language into the draft of the tax reform bill they released on Thursday. The move is part of an effort by the Trump administration and House Republicans to define life as beginning at conception, with an eye to rolling back Roe v. Wade.

Buried on page 93 of the 429-page tax proposal is a provision that would allow fetuses to be named as beneficiaries of college savings accounts known as 529 plans ― investment vehicles that come with a range of tax breaks.

Abortion rights advocates were quick to call out the language. “This is a back-door attempt to establish personhood from the moment of conception,” Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, said in a statement. “The tax code is no place to define what constitutes an ‘unborn child.’ What’s next, giving a Social Security number to a zygote?”

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One Bitcoin Transaction Now Uses as Much Energy as Your House in a Week

Posted on November 3rd, 2017 at 18:06 by John Sinteur in category: News


Bitcoin’s incredible price run to break over $7,000 this year has sent its overall electricity consumption soaring, as people worldwide bring more energy-hungry computers online to mine the digital currency.

An index from cryptocurrency analyst Alex de Vries, aka Digiconomist, estimates that with prices the way they are now, it would be profitable for Bitcoin miners to burn through over 24 terawatt-hours of electricity annually as they compete to solve increasingly difficult cryptographic puzzles to “mine” more Bitcoins. That’s about as much as Nigeria, a country of 186 million people, uses in a year.

This averages out to a shocking 215 kilowatt-hours (KWh) of juice used by miners for each Bitcoin transaction (there are currently about 300,000 transactions per day). Since the average American household consumes 901 KWh per month, each Bitcoin transfer represents enough energy to run a comfortable house, and everything in it, for nearly a week. On a larger scale, De Vries’ index shows that bitcoin miners worldwide could be using enough electricity to at any given time to power about 2.26 million American homes.

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The suspect told police ‘give me a lawyer dog.’ The court says he wasn’t asking for a lawyer.

Posted on November 3rd, 2017 at 17:57 by John Sinteur in category: News


When a friend says, “I’ll hit you up later dog,” he is stating that he will call again sometime. He is not calling the person a “later dog.”

But that’s not how the courts in Louisiana see it. And when a suspect in an interrogation told detectives to “just give me a lawyer dog,” the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that the suspect was, in fact, asking for a “lawyer dog,” and not invoking his constitutional right to counsel. It’s not clear how many lawyer dogs there are in Louisiana, and whether any would have been available to represent the human suspect in this case, other than to give the standard admonition in such circumstances to simply stop talking.

So… it should have been:


“Excuse me fine sir, although I am a minority, historically underrepresented and overlooked in your systematically and problematic societal hierarchy, I would like to exercise my constitutionally granted right to obtain an attorney forthwith*, who may be able to assist me in navigating your admittedly biased judicial system.”

probably followed a few seconds later by

“I see now you are utilizing violence as a means to exert your authority and control my behavior, as you evidently feel threatened by some aspect of my presence. Although such activities, from my perspective, are counter productive and, in fact, underscoring the very disparity I was just mentioning, I once again assert that a legal representative would be best for both our interests in this instance and could help alleviate the fear that seems to be being experienced mutually presently.”


*“We don’t have an attorney named Forthwith. Start confessing to things or we give you a rough ride.”

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  1. To me it appears to be a sensationalist article.

    1. The suspect was advised of and waived his miranda rights in both interviews
    2. The suspect wasn’t asking for a lawyer. If you look at the full quote:

    “if y’all, this is how I feel, if y’all think I did it, I know that I didn’t do it so why don’t you just give me a lawyer dog cause this is not what’s up.”

    To me, any reasonable person would see it’s clear from the context that he wasn’t “unambigously” asking for a lawyer, dog or not kind. And (whether it is ethnically right or not) according to the justice: ““[m]aybe I should talk to a lawyer” is not an unambiguous request for a lawyer”

  2. **** Bah, i meant **ethically**, not *ethnically*

  3. Here’s the actual sentence from the opinion:

    In my view, the defendant’s ambiguous and equivocal reference to a “lawyer dog” does not constitute an invocation of counsel that warrants termination of the interview and does not violate Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 101 S.Ct. 1880, 68 L.Ed.2d 378 (1981).

    How clear do you want people to get?

    Defendant: “Pursuant to my 5th Amendment Rights I demand a lawyer before I will submit to questions.”

    Judge: Because the 6th Amendment, not the 5th is what provides a right to counsel, this court holds that the defendant did not clearly ask for counsel, and the police were not obliged to stop questioning.”

    Defendant: “I exercise my rights under Miranda v. Arizona 384 U.S. 435, to refuse to sit for interrogation without being provided counsel.”

    Judge: “384 U.S. 435 is Jenkins v. Birzgalis and was dismissed for want of Jurisdiction. The defendant did not clearly exercise their rights under Miranda v. Arizona 384 U.S. 436, and the police were not obliged to stop questioning.”

    Defendant: “I want to talk to an attorney.”

    Judge: “Defendant didn’t specify that he wanted an attorney-at-law, and there’s no right to talk to an attorney-in-fact. Defendant was ambiguous.”

    I mean, REALLY, how clear do you have to be?

    “Defendant requested counsel per his rights under the 6th amendment, but of course the sixth amendment does not apply to the State of Louisiana except by way of incorporation through the 14th amendment. Absent a clearly specified legal mechanism by which the constitution extended a right of counsel to the defendant, police could not possibly have known whether he was requesting an attorney.”

    In any sane country, even “maybe I should talk to a lawyer” should be enough to invoke right to council.

    And yeah, “ethnically” may be relevant too in this particular case.

Jenna Abrams, Russia’s Clown Troll Princess, Duped the Mainstream Media and the World

Posted on November 3rd, 2017 at 17:28 by John Sinteur in category: News


Abrams, who at one point boasted nearly 70,000 Twitter followers, was featured in articles written by Bustle, U.S. News and World Report, USA Today, several local Fox affiliates, InfoWars, BET, Yahoo Sports, Sky News, IJR, Breitbart, The Washington Post, Mashable, New York Daily News, Quartz, Dallas News, France24, HuffPost, The Daily Caller, The Telegraph, CNN, the BBC, Gizmodo, The Independent, The Daily Dot, The Observer, Business Insider, The National Post, Refinery29, The Times of India, BuzzFeed, The Daily Mail, The New York Times, and, of course, Russia Today and Sputnik.

Many of these stories had nothing to do with Russia—or politics at all. Instead, stretching back to 2014, Abrams’ account built up an image of a straight-talking, no-nonsense, viral-tweet-writing young American woman. She was featured in articles as diverse as “the 15 funniest tweets this week” to “#FeministAMovie Proves Why Twitter Can’t Have Nice Things.” Then, once she built her following, she would push divisive views on immigration, segregation, and Donald Trump, especially as the 2016 election loomed.

Abrams’ pervasiveness in American news outlets shows just how much impact Russia’s troll farm had on American discourse in the run-up to the 2016 election—and illustrates how Russian talking points can seep into American mainstream media without even a single dollar spent on advertising.

And why this дезинформация campaign is working so well is something you can blame the Republicans for:


The US is experiencing a deep epistemic breach, a split not just in what we value or want, but in who we trust, how we come to know things, and what we believe we know — what we believe exists, is true, has happened and is happening.

The primary source of this breach, to make a long story short, is the US conservative movement’s rejection of the mainstream institutions devoted to gathering and disseminating knowledge (journalism, science, the academy) — the ones society has appointed as referees in matters of factual dispute.

In their place, the right has created its own parallel set of institutions, most notably its own media ecosystem.

But the right’s institutions are not of the same kind as the ones they seek to displace. Mainstream scientists and journalists see themselves as beholden to values and standards that transcend party or faction. They try to separate truth from tribal interests and have developed various guild rules and procedures to help do that. They see themselves as neutral arbiters, even if they do not always uphold that ideal in practice.

The pretense for the conservative revolution was that mainstream institutions had failed in their role as neutral arbiters — that they had been taken over by the left, become agents of the left in referee’s clothing, as it were.

But the right did not want better neutral arbiters. The institutions it built scarcely made any pretense of transcending faction; they are of and for the right. There is nominal separation of conservative media from conservative politicians, think tanks, and lobbyists, but in practice, they are all part of the conservative movement. They are prosecuting its interests; that is the ur-goal.

Indeed, the far right rejects the very idea of neutral, binding arbiters; there is only Us and Them, only a zero-sum contest for resources. That mindset leads to what I call “tribal epistemology” — the systematic conflation of what is true with what is good for the tribe.

There’s always been a conspiratorial and xenophobic fringe on the right, but it was (fitfully) held in place by gatekeepers through the early decades of America’s post-war prosperity. The explosion of right-wing media in the 1990s and 2000s swept those gatekeepers away, giving the loudest voice, the most exposure, and the most power to the most extreme elements on the right. The right-wing media ecosystem became a bubble from which fewer and fewer inhabitants ever ventured.

(oh, and more about this “Internet Research Agency” in this 2015 NYT article)

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Teachers spend nearly $1,000 a year on supplies. Under the GOP tax bill, they will no longer get a tax deduction.

Posted on November 3rd, 2017 at 14:29 by John Sinteur in category: News


It’s well known that teachers — even those who earn meager salaries — dig deep into their own pockets for supplies to do their jobs, with one study estimating they spend an average of nearly $1,000 a year on everything from pencils to batteries.

For now, teachers can get a small tax break — deducting up to $250 from their taxes — for what they spend on supplies. But under the GOP tax reform bill, that deduction would go away for teachers and other categories of workers, including certain state and local officials and performing artists.

For modern Republicans, the real treasure is the suffering they caused along the way.  If it helps a person who’s not part of their gang, if that person’s losing it would cause hardship that could otherwise be avoided, they’re all for it.

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  1. Here’s a pitch for the tax cut bill.

    Join the brotherhood who is striving to overthrow our current tyranny of taxes. Join the Coup Cuts Clan.

Russia organized 2 sides of a Texas protest and encouraged ‘both sides to battle in the streets’

Posted on November 2nd, 2017 at 10:27 by John Sinteur in category: News


Russian trolls organized a protest and a counterprotest in the same place at the same time in May 2016, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Richard Burr, said on Wednesday. The revelation shows how far Russia was willing to go to foment unrest and division in the US in the months leading up to the election. Burr said that organizing and promoting these protests cost Russia “about $200.”

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Grand Jury Docs Have Been Unsealed, and It’s Looking Even Worse for Manafort

Posted on November 1st, 2017 at 23:11 by John Sinteur in category: News


When the Special Counsel tried to get Manafort’s lawyer on the stand, it was met with a very predictable obstacle: attorney-client privilege. Usually, lawyers are not compelled (or even permitted) to testify against their own clients, and revealing attorney-client communications is usually a major ethical breach. Courts are very hesitant to pierce privileges, whether the privilege at hand is attorney-client, spousal, doctor-patient, or priest-penitent. And on the spectrum of privileges, attorney-client is perhaps the second-most sacrosanct (it’s tough to get even the most liberal judge to invade the confessional). Judges know that the practice of law in our adversarial system would be seriously disadvantaged if lawyers could be called upon to give testimony against their own clients.

However, privileges are not absolute; among other exceptions is the “crime-fraud” exception to attorney-client privilege. Under this exception when a privileged relationship is used to further a crime, fraud, or other misconduct, the lawyer doesn’t get to use that relationship as a shield. The concept is easy, but getting a court to agree to use the exception is pretty challenging.


“Through its ex parte production of evidence, the SCO has clearly met its burden of making a prima facie showing that the crime-fraud exception applies by showing that the Targets were “engaged in or planning a criminal or fraudulent scheme when [they] sought the advice of counsel to further the scheme.”

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Awaiting Trump’s coal comeback, miners reject retraining

Posted on November 1st, 2017 at 22:57 by John Sinteur in category: News


When Mike Sylvester entered a career training center earlier this year in southwestern Pennsylvania, he found more than one hundred federally funded courses covering everything from computer programming to nursing.

He settled instead on something familiar: a coal mining course.

”I think there is a coal comeback,” said the 33-year-old son of a miner.

Despite broad consensus about coal’s bleak future, a years-long effort to diversify the economy of this hard-hit region away from mining is stumbling, with Obama-era jobs retraining classes undersubscribed and future programs at risk under President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget.

Trump has promised to revive coal by rolling back environmental regulations and moved to repeal Obama-era curbs on carbon emissions from power plants.

“I have a lot of faith in President Trump,” Sylvester said.

Oh you poor bastard.

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  1. If one were unscrupulous enough, one could set up a private training center offering nothing but coal-centered skills training courses. If it were done legitimately, one could even get Federal or State funding. By partnering with a bank (not necessarily a local one), loans could be offered to the Trump-loving Schlubs (sorry, devoted, keen, educated and informed voters in a vibrant democracy) while they take the courses, go (heavily) into debt and wait for those coal jobs to return.
    And wait, and wait…
    And no crime would have been committed either.
    John, many moons ago, you posted an excellent story about two guys hiring villagers to catch monkeys, ending with the villagers without food, heavily in debt and with far too many, entirely useless monkeys.
    You should repost that as a public service to the Trump lovers…

  2. [Quote:]

    Once upon a time in a village, a man appeared and announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for $5 each. The villagers seeing that there were many monkeys around, went out to the forest and started catching them.

    The man bought thousands at $5 and as supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their effort.

    He further announced that he would now buy at $10. This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again. Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going back to their farms.

    The offer increased to $15 each and the supply of monkeys became so little that it was an effort to even see a monkey, let alone catch it.

    The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50. However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would now buy on his behalf.

    In the man’s absence, the assistant told the villagers “Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will sell them to you at $45 and when the man returns from the city, you can sell them to him for $50 each.”

    The villagers rounded up with all their savings and bought all the monkeys. Then they never again saw the man nor his assistant, only monkeys everywhere!

    And THAT ladies and gentleman is how the stock market works…

Looks like Jeff Sessions perjured himself.

Posted on November 1st, 2017 at 22:53 by John Sinteur in category: News


Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the election has entangled the attorney general. In his sworn testimony during his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions was asked by Senator Al Franken, “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?” Sessions responded: “Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I didn’t have—did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”

But George Papadopoulos’s guilty plea indicates that there were attempts in the Trump campaign to arrange a meeting with Putin, and that Sessions was aware of them. As CNN reports this morning, “The chairman of Trump’s national security team, then Alabama Senator and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, shut down the idea of a Putin meeting at the March 31, 2016, gathering, according to the source. His reaction was confirmed with another source who had discussed Sessions’s role.”


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Posted on November 1st, 2017 at 16:06 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Protesters are being labeled as domestic terrorist threats, experts worry

Posted on November 1st, 2017 at 15:49 by John Sinteur in category: News


The FBI counterterrorism division’s identification of a new movement it calls “black identity extremists” is the latest addition to the broadening list of protesters and dissidents the agency puts under the “domestic terrorism” umbrella.

But many national security experts say the designation doesn’t describe a movement at all – let alone a terrorism threat; rather, it’s simply a label that allows the FBI to conduct additional surveillance on “basically anyone who’s black and politically active,” according to Michael German, who left the FBI in 2004 and did undercover domestic terrorism work.

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Remarks on Encryption

Posted on October 31st, 2017 at 23:30 by John Sinteur in category: News


Protecting people from abuse by the government is an important aspect of the rule of law. But

I stop at the word “but” for a reason. Whenever some public official uses it, you can safely translate it as “I’m going to piss all over the preceding sentence”.

Today, thousands of seized devices sit in storage, impervious to search warrants. Over the past year, the FBI was unable to access about 7,500 mobile devices submitted to its Computer Analysis and Response Team, even though there was legal authority to do so.

So you’re telling us your officers are disappointed the devices they tried to steal are useless?

Responsible encryption is achievable. Responsible encryption can involve effective, secure encryption that allows access only with judicial authorization.

Actually, I lied. I only wanted to post this article for that phrase. “Responsible encryption”. It’s a beautiful example of doublethink (™1984) in the same way as “Smart $X” (foreach ($X in (“TV”,”Phone”, etc)) and carries the hidden threat that technical people better be responsible with their encryption if they don’t want to be incarcerated.

Now the EFF has a much better take-down of the actual content of the article, calling out the BS for what it is in all it’s glory. And I could go on ranting about it for a few more pages. Let’s instead turn it around. If “responsible” encryption is as easy as you seem to think it is, Rod, then assign a few interns on it for a weekend or two. Then, let’s see if Donald Trump, Michael Pence, Jeff Sessions and all other cabinet officials are willing to use an encryption system with “key escrow” or other back doors for all of their correspondence and file storage. Come back to us when they are fully willing to demonstrate the success of your system.

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  1. lol…if they were smart they’d be going back to manual typewriters!

Facebook Tries to Save Its Bacon

Posted on October 31st, 2017 at 19:05 by John Sinteur in category: News


Donald Trump & Co. aren’t the only ones suffering from Russia-induced headaches. Facebook is facing some uncomfortable scrutiny after serving as unwilling dupes (a.k.a. useful idiots) while the Russians tried to meddle in the 2016 election. On Monday, they were compelled to admit that the number of users exposed to Russian propaganda was much, much larger than they previously said—instead of 12 or 13 million, it was more like 126 million. But, they say, they have “taken steps” to make sure it doesn’t happen again. They’ve announced new guidelines for advertisements, and have tweaked their algorithms to make it more difficult to spread salacious content.

Very likely, this is too little, too late for the social media platform. Congress is considering the passage of the Honest Ads Act, a measure that would require Facebook to create a public database of who purchased each political ad, and for how much. The Act apparently has bipartisan support, and is likely to pass both houses of Congress. Of course, once the government is regulating Facebook in one way, other fingers in the pie are likely to follow. So, social media’s wild, wild West days are likely drawing to an end, no matter how much Mark Zuckerberg might wish otherwise. (Z)

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  1. And do you really thank the average facebook “useful idiot” will even look at the database? I doubt it.

  2. thank = think… above

Trump’s Emergency Declaration Uncorks Exactly Two Cents For Each Opioid Addict

Posted on October 30th, 2017 at 19:44 by John Sinteur in category: News


With nearly 2.6 million Americans addicted to prescription opioid painkillers or heroin, the Trump administration declared a public health emergency on Thursday, unlocking roughly two cents per person in new funding for the effort.

Trump’s official declaration, initially promised on August 10, allows the executive branch to dip into the Public Health Emergency Fund. This fund holds only $57,000, as The Intercept reported in August. No other funding was immediately made available by the declaration.

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