Tuesday, March 03, 2015

in about half an hour, netanyahu is going to permanently overplay his phenomenally weak identity-politics hand...,

WaPo |  Nowadays, Marshall would be called a foreign-policy realist. He argued that the United States was risking its position and prestige in the Middle East just to placate a domestic lobby. He further insisted that the beneficiary of Truman’s Palestine policy would be the Soviet Union. To put it succinctly, Truman took the side of a tiny people with no oil against a plenteous people with lots of it.

Nothing much has changed since then. Israel now has some offshore energy, but it’s hardly an emerging Saudi Arabia. It still is loathed by its neighbors and, to complicate matters, it persists in a settlements policy that the United States opposes and much of the world abhors. Nonetheless, Americans by and large support Israel, and Washington, even under the supposedly cool Barack Obama, maintains a very special relationship with it. That, now, is in danger.

But the fault line in the U.S.-Israel relationship is hardly the current clash of personalities. Instead, it’s that the relationship is based mainly on affection. Americans like Israel. They like its democratic values and they like its spunky underdogness. Conservative Christians like Israel for reasons having to do with religious dogma but they, too, have come to admire it for its secular values. Still, none of this is based on self-interest — the underpinning of a successful foreign policy. In power politics, it’s usually not enough to be liked. A nation has to be considered essential. Israel may be beloved, but for American security, it is not essential.

The fact is that the United States does not need Israel. Our special relationship was not forged, as it was with Great Britain, in two world wars, not to mention a common language and, in significant respects, culture. It is based on warmth, emotion, shared values — and, not to be dismissed, a potent domestic lobby. But these ties are eroding. Support for Israel remains strong, but where once it was universal, it has increasingly drifted from left to right. In the liberal community, hostility toward Israel is unmistakable. Some of it is openly expressed, some of it merely whispered. 

Netanyahu has made matters worse. He has tethered Israel to the Republican Party. He was criticized for seeming to prefer Mitt Romney to Obama in 2012 and now has been enlisted to speak to Congress in a partisan effort by the Republican House speaker to embarrass the president. In doing so, he dissed an American president who happens to be black, hardly a way to shore up support in the African American community. (Many African American members of Congress say they will boycott the speech.) Netanyahu has started — or exacerbated — a process in which support for Israel may become not just a partisan issue, but a liberal-conservative one.

sophistry, spells, livestock management and the war of words...,

aljazeera |  According to conservatives, political correctness was hampering free speech, restricting behavior and hindering ostensibly objective policies such as school admissions. America the great, birthplace of freedom and liberty, taken hostage by college students armed with ideas from Franz Fanon, Judith Butler or Michel Foucault and a rising tide of people who insisted their identities and experiences be accurately described and taken into account. I was one of those college students and was rigorously trained to deconstruct everything from your coffee cup to your favorite television show to ensure you understand the full meaning of what you are seeing, hearing and saying.

Building off the civil rights movement and feminist activism of the late 1960s and early 1970s, identity politics as a field emerged in response to the unfair treatment that people from marginalized groups received in daily life and the ways in which American culture did not reflect or include our experience or realities. Identity politics emerged in academia as a response to history’s not including the plight of Native Americans, women or black people. It was a response to racism, sexism and homophobia that pushed back on the assumption that everyone was straight, white, cisgender and middle-class. Identity politics — also known as the fields of women’s studies, ethnic studies, African-American studies, queer studies and the like — paved the way for Edward Said to study colonization’s role in how the West understands “the Orient,” Kimberle Crenshaw to consider a politics of intersectionality and the powerlessness of women invisible to the legal system and Audre Lorde to insist that her words as a lesbian and woman of color mattered.

This group of supposed pc bullies paved the way for generations to feel as though they belong to something even if they don’t see themselves reflected in the world around them. The development of identity politics was a transformative moment: the beginning of a push to make the country a more inclusive, less hateful place for those who are different — the very values politicians of all stripes tout as a great characteristic of a great nation. It was also an important intervention to political dialogue and intellectual thought production and pushed academic institutions to be more thorough and rigorous in their assumptions, values and research. And it refuted the idea that there is an objective truth, as opposed to subjective realities, when it comes to telling stories about our lives.

But the rise of identity politics as an academic, political and cultural movement came with some baggage. A side effect of people feeling invisible for generations is anger. While identity politics pushed culture and politics, it also released decades of anger and animosity that previously went unexpressed in our finest educational institutions. This scared those who preferred to assume that everyone was happy in the good old days or believed that certain ideas were universally true. Of course, fear and anger had always been under the surface; it just finally had a chance to breath.

This isn’t to say that the sanctimonious overreliance on saying the right thing can’t be distracting and self-serving. Looking back at my college activism, I am slightly embarrassed by the emotional energy and time I spent judging other people’s politics and decisions. It was a natural part of growing into a political thinker and differentiating myself, but in other ways it distracted me from looking at broader issues outside my day-to-day life.

Monday, March 02, 2015

american denial

pbs |  Follow the story of Swedish researcher Gunnar Myrdal whose landmark 1944 study, An American Dilemma, probed deep into the United States' racial psyche. The film weaves a narrative that exposes some of the potential underlying causes of racial biases still rooted in America’s systems and institutions today. 

An intellectual social visionary who later won a Nobel Prize in economics, Myrdal first visited the Jim Crow South at the invitation of the Carnegie Corporation in 1938, where he was “shocked to the core by all the evils [he] saw.” With a team of scholars that included black political scientist Ralph Bunche, Myrdal wrote his massive 1,500-page investigation of race, now considered a classic.

An American Dilemma challenged the veracity of the American creed of equality, justice, and liberty for all. It argued that critically implicit in that creed — which Myrdal called America’s “state religion” — was a more shameful conflict: white Americans explained away the lack of opportunity for blacks by labeling them inferior. Myrdal argued that this view justified practices and policies that openly undermined and oppressed the lives of black citizens. Seventy years later, are we still a society living in this state of denial, in an era marked by the election of the nation’s first black president? 

American Denial sheds light on the unconscious political and moral world of modern Americans, using archival footage, newsreels, nightly news reports, and rare southern home movies from the ‘30s and ‘40s, as well as research footage, websites, and YouTube films showing psychological testing of racial attitudes. Exploring “stop-and-frisk” practices, the incarceration crisis, and racially-patterned poverty, the film features a wide array of historians, psychologists, and sociologists who offer expert insight and share their own personal, unsettling stories. The result is a unique and provocative film that challenges our assumptions about who we are and what we really believe.

the GOP would squeal like pigs under a gate if the Hon.Bro.Preznit treated them like they demand he treat Islam...,

slate |  On Feb. 6, Obama went to Indiana and lauded Dick Lugar, the state’s former Republican senator. The next day, in his weekly radio address, he repeated: “I’ll work with anyone, Republican or Democrat, who wants to get to ‘yes.’ … We should stop refighting old battles and start working together.” Even last Friday, in his speech to the Democratic National Committee, five of Obama’s nine references to Republicans were positive. “If Republicans are serious about taking on the specific challenges that face the middle class,” he pleaded, “we should welcome them.”

That’s how Obama treats his domestic adversaries. He doesn’t take the bait. He doesn’t define the whole opposition party by its worst elements. He rejects polarization. He emphasizes shared values. He reminds his own partisans that they, too, are sinners.

For Democrats, this can be exasperating. It’s especially exasperating when Republicans refuse to take responsibility for, or even disown, outbursts from their colleagues, such as Rep. Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” or Rudy Giuliani’s “I do not believe that the president loves America.” Rep. Darrell Issa, who as chairman of the House oversight committee has led investigations of the Obama administration, claims Giuliani didn’t deny that Obama loves America—“He said he didn't believe” Obama loves America. Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, a 2016 presidential hopeful, says of Giuliani’s remark: “If you are looking for someone to condemn the mayor, look elsewhere.” Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana backs up Giuliani’s insinuation that Obama favors the enemy over his own country: “[Giuliani] is understandably frustrated with a president who, as I said before, is fully willing to lecture the people of this country about the Crusades but is unwilling to call Islamic extremism for what it is.”

Please. If we’re going to start calling out religious and political groups for extremism, we could start at home with Republicans. Too many of them spew animus. Too many foment sectarianism. Too many sit by, or make excuses, as others appeal to tribalism. If Obama were to treat them the way they say he should treat Islam—holding the entire faith accountable for its ugliest followers—they’d squeal nonstop about slander and demagogy. They’re lucky that’s not his style.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

the root of extremism

nbcnews |  The city of Cleveland claims the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice at the hands of a police officer and the "losses" suffered by his family were a result of the boy's and his family's own actions that day. The city's denial of any wrongdoing was filed Friday in response to a wrongful death lawsuit brought by lawyers for the Rice family last month. 

The city wrote that Tamir's injuries were caused by him failing to "exercise due care." In addition, the complaints brought on behalf of Tamir's sister and mother were also "directly caused by their own acts" — not the officers involved, the response said. 

Tamir was fatally shot on Nov. 22 by Cleveland rookie cop Timothy Loehmann, who with his partner, Frank Garmback, were called to a recreation center where Tamir was holding a pellet gun. Police responding to the scene initially believed the pellet gun, which did not have an orange tip identifying it as a replica, was real. Loehmann fired on Tamir within less than two seconds of arriving, surveillance footage shows, and the boy died in the hospital the next day. 

The Rice family filed an 8-page wrongful death suit against the two officers and the city of Cleveland in December. But after retaining a new legal team, including high-profile civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, the family filed an amended 65-page suit against the same defendants, which brought at least 27 allegations against the city and the officers.

are whites unwittingly complicit in racism?

bostonglobe |  Is white racism a kind of toxic cloud that drifts over our country, invisible to many or most white-skinned citizens but terrifyingly visible to the black and brown-skinned? We may believe — with good reason — that we are not racists; but does our passivity or indifference to the racism of others make us their enablers? It is stunning to learn that hundreds of millions of dollars are paid out annually in court settlements to victims of police brutality or misconduct — and these millions are paid by taxpayers. In effect, unwittingly, yet not altogether innocently, we are all supporting police brutality and misconduct.
In the late 1990s, while I was being driven back home to Princeton from a literary event in New York City, a New Jersey state police vehicle stopped the car. It was not evident why; the driver had not been speeding or driving erratically, and there was nothing wrong with the Lincoln Town Car.

Two state troopers demanded that the (black) driver show them his driver’s license and the auto registration. They then ordered him to get out of the car. What I could hear of their interrogation was repeated questions: Where are you going? Where do you live? Whose car is this? 

No doubt accustomed to being harassed by white law enforcement, the driver answered the questions in a quiet and courteous voice. Yet the officers kept repeating the questions, as if they had some reason to suspect that the driver was lying. Seeing me in the back seat, they walked the driver away from the car, along the shoulder of the highway, and proceeded to interrogate him for what seemed like a very long time — 40 minutes? By this time I had called my husband on my cell phone and told him about the situation — “I don’t know when I will get home,” I remember telling him. 

I do remember opening the door of the limousine, thinking that I would stand outside, but one of the troopers yelled angrily at me: “Get back inside that car, lady!” 

Whatever they were saying to the black driver, however they might have been threatening him, they did not want a witness. Especially, they did not want a white woman witness.

How naive it seems to me now to have imagined that I might have been a more helpful witness to what was obviously, in retrospect, a flagrant example of police profiling. At the time, I did not even have a cell phone that could record anything; it was a very minimal phone, indeed. And I have to confess, what I felt when the trooper yelled at me was sheer visceral fear, dread — there was no way, there is no way, that a lone individual can stand up to law enforcement officers who are not only armed but, usually, physically domineering. Out on the Jersey Turnpike, in the dark, as traffic rushes past, no one can assert his or her rights to the police without inviting immediate retaliation.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

the long reach of the sunniphilly beard

aljazeera |  Overseas the moustacheless, bushy beard is not so identifiably hip-hop and has caused considerable controversy, with security officials in Europe and the Middle East mistaking the Philly for a jihadi beard. In February 2014, for instance, Lebanese police arrested Hussein Sharaffedine (aka Double A the Preacherman), 32, a Shia rapper and frontman for a local funk band. Internal Security Forces mistook him for a Salafi militant and handcuffed and detained him for 24 hours. In Europe hip-hop heads such as French rapper M├ędine — a Black Powerite who wears a fierce beard that he calls “the Afro beneath my jaw” — complain of police harassment. French fashion magazines joke now crudely about "hipsterrorisme." European journalists are descending on Philadelphia to trace the roots of what they call la barbe sunnah and Salafi hipsterism.

But there is more to the story than these superficial inquiries. The synergy between Islam and black music in Philadelphia has a long history. As such, the global spread of the moustacheless beard cannot be understood in isolation from the rich blending that took place between various strands of Islam and music in black America.

City of Brotherly Love

Philadelphia’s Muslim elders are quick to list the jazz greats who lived in or came out of the City of Brotherly Love since the 1930s — John Coltrane, Lynn Hope, Pharoah Saunders, Sun Ra, McCoy Tyner, George Jordan and the Heath Brothers. Many of these artists had an intimate relationship with Islam. Saxophonist Hope was featured prominently in Ebony magazine’s famous 1953 article on Muslim jazz artists, sitting on the floor of his Philadelphia home smoking hookah with his two young sons in fezzes.

“The history of Islam in Philadelphia is reflected in the music. Some artists were openly Muslim, others more private,” says Imam Nadim Ali, a celebrated jazz deejay and community leader who spent his youth in Philadelphia. “We knew Pharaoh Sanders as Abdulmufti. One of his first albums from 1966 was called “Tawhid.” Likewise, George Howard was a great funk/smooth-jazz artist. Kenny G co-opted his style. We knew Howard as Tahir — I grew up with him in West Philly. But when he died, his family buried him in a Christian cemetery. This sometimes happens when converts to Islam don’t leave a will.”

Jazz artists in the 1940s and ’50s came to Islam through the Ahmadiyya movement, a heterodox Islamic movement that emerged in 19th century India and developed a significant presence in Philadelphia. As the Nation of Islam gained followers, it cast its cultural influence on the music scene. Sun Ra, who lived in Germantown for 25 years, for instance, was not Muslim. But he claimed to be a distant cousin of Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad and was inspired by the movement’s teachings. Sun Ra traveled to Cairo and collaborated with Egyptian drummer Salah Ragab, recording numbers such as “Ramadan in Space Time.”

As members of soul and R&B groups such as the Delfonics, the Five Stairsteps, the Moments, Kool & the Gang and Earth, Wind & Fire embraced Islam in the 1960s, the dialogue and tensions between Sunni Islam and the Nation of Islam found expression in music in various cities. In Philadelphia old heads recall Kool & the Gang’s visiting from New Jersey in the early 1970s to perform songs such as “Whiting H&G” (a reference to the frozen fish that the Nation of Islam was selling) and “Fruitman,” both tracks praising the Nation of Islam’s economic initiatives and dietary rules. Even non-Muslim artists paid homage to what they saw as a positive movement that taught self-reliance. Philly native and Grammy-winning crooner Billy Paul never embraced Islam, but he recorded an album called “Going East” in 1971 and gave a shout-out to Muhammad and Malcolm X in his 1976 track “Let ’Em In” — perhaps the first popular song to sample a speech by Malcolm X (“You’ve been misled/ You’ve been had/ You’ve been took …”), years before hip-hop artists began doing so.

Urban renewal
At the heart of these decades-old attempts to use faith and art for community building stands Luqman Abdul Haqq, a real-estate developer who has harnessed the energies of diverse Muslim groups to revitalize Philadelphia’s southeast area. Better known as Kenny Gamble, he is the founder of Philadelphia International Records and is considered one of the fathers of disco and R&B — specifically, a subgenre called the Philadelphia sound. In the 1970s, with longtime partner Leon Huff, he recorded dozens of hits for artists such as the O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass and Patti Labelle, producing almost 200 gold and platinum records.

In the early 1990s, Luqman moved back to Philly and established Universal Companies, a nonprofit that includes a housing-development initiative, a charter school and a social services agency. Universal has since refurbished more than 1,000 homes and created enclaves where Muslims own businesses and live near mosques. “We are continuing the cultural revolution that began among African-Americans in the 1960s, a cultural revolution based on Islam,” he says. “The Nation of Islam was a vehicle that came to the need of African-Americans, teaching do for self.”

rap and radicalism: does hip hop create extremists?

aljazeera |  On January 1, the French rapper Medine uploaded his latest track "Don't Laik". 

Surrounded by youth from the banlieues, he sounds off against secularism, taking swipes at Nietszche and the neo-conservative journalist Caroline Fouret, a former staffer at Charlie Hebdo. His harshest words are directed at the French system of laicite, which bans headscarves in public institutions and burqas in all public spaces.

About a week later - just after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, Medine was back in the news again, this time explaining his lyrics, noting that when he rapped about crucifying "les laicards" and chopping down the "tree of their secularism" - he was actually presenting a "caricature" of secularism; that version which looks down upon the religiously observant. His critique of laicite, he said, was very much in the spirit of Charlie Hebdo.

Hip hop in France - and in Western Europe more broadly - has come under scrutiny in the last few weeks. Prominent French artists - Youssoupha, Diam's, Kool Shen, Maitre Gims, Oxmo Puccino - have denounced the attacks in no uncertain terms, some even composing impromptu tracks in honour of the victims.

Called for explanations
But hip hop artists have also been called upon to explain the reasons for youth alienation, and the relationship between hip hop and extremism. The fact that Cherif Kouachi, the younger brother, was at one point an aspiring rapper, featured in a television documentary, where he is up on stage, cap backwards, rapping and dancing, has counterterrorism experts again asking if youth are radicalised through rap.

Friday, February 27, 2015

brooklyn isis sting: jes dayyum....,

Slate |  The two men arrested in New York this week for attempting to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS might at first seem to be a confirmation of the warnings often voiced by politicians and law enforcement that the group poses a threat not just in the Middle East but to the U.S. homeland. These were, after all, young men radicalized through the Internet who expressed a desire to either travel to Syria to wage war or carry out attacks at home. But a Times story this week under the wonderful headline “Eager to Join ISIS, if Only His Mother Would Return His Passport,” is pretty reassuring about the actual level of threat the group poses to the U.S.

The fact that this plot to wage holy war against the infidel depended on 19-year-old Akhror Saidakhmetov being able to sweet-talk his mom into giving him back his passport isn’t the only indication in the FBI’s case against the men, released just after their arrest, that we aren’t exactly dealing with future Bin Ladens here.

The men first popped onto the FBI’s radar when Abdurasul Juraboev wrote a post on an Uzbek-language website last August saying that he wanted to shoot Barack Obama and asking whether he could swear his loyalty to ISIS in absentia. When the FBI paid a visit to him, he not only acknowledged writing the post and acknowledged a desire to fight for ISIS and kill Obama, he put it in writing and identified Saidakhmetov as someone who shared his ambitions.

the newburgh sting: terrorists or targets?

wikipedia |  The Newburgh Sting (2014) is a documentary film about the Federal Bureau of Investigation's sting operation on four Muslim men involved in the 2009 Bronx terrorism plot. Beginning in 2008, an FBI informant, Shaheed Hussain, recorded hours of conversations with the men who were ultimately arrested and convicted of planting three non-functional bombs next to two synagogues in Riverdale, Bronx and for planning to use Stinger missiles to shoot down United States military cargo planes near Newburgh, New York. The point of view of the documentary is that it was later brought to light that the plot with the four men who were coaxed into participating was created by the FBI. The men argue that this was a case of entrapment. In April, 2014, the film was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival.

i wonder if this applies to overseer unions too....,

HuffPo |  Spelling more trouble for organized labor in the U.S., Republican legislators in the Wisconsin state Senate approved a right-to-work bill here on Wednesday, sending the measure to a GOP-controlled Assembly where it's also expected to pass. Republican leaders chose to fast-track the bill in what's known as an extraordinary legislative session, allowing for less debate than usual.

Debate over the bill drew an estimated 2,000 protesters to the state Capitol on both Tuesday and Wednesday, reminiscent of the passionate labor demonstrations surrounding Act 10 in 2011, though vastly smaller in scope. As with that earlier legislation, which stripped most collective bargaining rights from public-sector employees, vocal opposition from the state's unions wasn't enough to stop the right-to-work bill in its tracks.

Legislators are expected to take up the measure early next week in the state Assembly, where Republicans enjoy a comfortable majority. The office of Gov. Scott Walker (R) has already said he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

The fight in Madison is just the latest indication of how state Republican leaders, often controlling both the statehouse and the governor's mansion in their respective states, are managing to enact laws that weaken the clout of organized labor. If the Wisconsin measure is approved, the Badger State will become the 25th right-to-work state in the country, following two other Midwestern states, Michigan and Indiana, that passed such laws in 2012. 

"It is a symbolic tipping point, or an inflection point," Paul Secunda, a labor law professor at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, said of potentially half the states in the country being right-to-work. "For the longest time there were 22 right-to-work states. Now the right-to-work people have the momentum."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Technological progress in a market economy is therefore self-terminating, and ends in collapse

The Archdruid Report | Now of course there are plenty of arguments that could be deployed against this modest proposal. For example, it could be argued that progress doesn't have to generate a rising tide of externalities. The difficulty with this argument is that externalization of costs isn't an accidental side effect of technology but an essential aspect—it’s not a bug, it’s a feature. Every technology is a means of externalizing some cost that would otherwise be borne by a human body. Even something as simple as a hammer takes the wear and tear that would otherwise affect the heel of your hand, let’s say, and transfers it to something else: directly, to the hammer; indirectly, to the biosphere, by way of the trees that had to be cut down to make the charcoal to smelt the iron, the plants that were shoveled aside to get the ore, and so on.

For reasons that are ultimately thermodynamic in nature, the more complex a technology becomes, the more costs it generates. In order to outcompete a simpler technology, each more complex technology has to externalize a significant proportion of its additional costs, in order to compete against the simpler technology. In the case of such contemporary hypercomplex technosystems as the internet, the process of externalizing costs has gone so far, through so many tangled interrelationships, that it’s remarkably difficult to figure out exactly who’s paying for how much of the gargantuan inputs needed to keep the thing running. This lack of transparency feeds the illusion that large systems are cheaper than small ones, by making externalities of scale look like economies of scale.

It might be argued instead that a sufficiently stringent regulatory environment, forcing economic actors to absorb all the costs of their activities instead of externalizing them onto others, would be able to stop the degradation of whole systems while still allowing technological progress to continue. The difficulty here is that increased externalization of costs is what makes progress profitable. As just noted, all other things being equal, a complex technology will on average be more expensive in real terms than a simpler technology, for the simple fact that each additional increment of complexity has to be paid for by an investment of energy and other forms of real capital.

Strip complex technologies of the subsidies that transfer some of their costs to the government, the perverse regulations that transfer some of their costs to the rest of the economy, the bad habits of environmental abuse and neglect that transfer some of their costs to the biosphere, and so on, and pretty soon you’re looking at hard economic limits to technological complexity, as people forced to pay the full sticker price for complex technologies maximize their benefits by choosing simpler, more affordable options instead. A regulatory environment sufficiently strict to keep technology from accelerating to collapse would thus bring technological progress to a halt by making it unprofitable.

it's natural, every country does it....,

Forbes |  Big Data and Big Data analytics have become hot topics in recent years. Unlike traditional methods of cause and effect deduction, Big Data analytics generate predictions based on such enormous volumes of data, that only the tools of association and inference are useful for finding relevance or meaning.

An interesting case study on the use of Big Data analytics was the prediction of a flu pandemic in the United States by Google GOOGL +1.6%. The Internet giant detected the spread of a flu virus before any medical organization or national agency based on search results data that showed people researching flu symptoms and remedies. Google’s findings were completely aligned with the health authority reports filed after the flu pandemic occurred.

Big Data analytics enables us to generate reliable analyses, even in the absence of clear links or causes.

So why so long before we could begin to leverage the value of Big Data? For one, the processing and analysis of large volumes of data required advanced computing and storage resources not yet available.

New types of database management systems have also needed to be devised. Traditional databases use data synchronization techniques to determine causality and, while Big Data analytics do not require the use of synchronization for the same purpose, it gives rise to other challenges in the areas of networking, storage, and computational architecture.

why WaPo call this a dangerous revolt?

WaPo |  By the time Heiney graduated in August 2014, she said she had racked up $18,810 in debt, with nearly 80 percent coming from federal loans. This month marks the end of the six-month grace period on her student loans, which means the government will starting asking Heiney for its money. But she won’t pay.

Heiney has landed a job as a home-health care attendant, but still feels trapped. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to have my job, but my dream is to go back to Africa and start a medical clinic. Because I’m now a slave to these loans I can’t pursue my dreams,” she said.

Heiney and the other 14 protesters have been working with an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement known as the Debt Collective. The group organized a campaign last year, called Rolling Jubilee, to buy student loans from debt buyers for cents on the dollar and wipe out the debt. To date, the campaign has erased over $30 million in medical and education debt, including $13 million in private student loans for Everest students.

Organizers reached out to Corinthian students as the for-profit schools ran into trouble. After months of pleading with the Education Department to forgive the federal loans, the students and the organizers came up with the idea for the strike, said Ann Larson, a Debt Collective organizer.
More than 100 borrowers have contacted the group since the strike started this week. Before any of them can join, they must attend a financial literacy workshop on the consequences of not repaying their debt, Larson said, noting that most people are already in default.

An attorney working with the Collective is helping the Corinthian students file what’s known as a defense to repayment claim, an appeal to the Education Department to discharge the federal loans on the grounds that the for-profit school broke the law.

“Our attorneys say it’s a very untested law and no one has really done it because the process is unclear,” Larson said. “But rather than wait for the Department of Ed to clarify the process, we’re just going to dispute the legitimacy of the debt and see what happens.”

why don't lawful overseers check and correct awful overseers?

theatlantic |  What I found alarming was the fact that those other cops didn't stop or report the bad apples.

In fact, even after higher-ranking officers were alerted to Sampson's experience, that did not put an end to his repeated jailing. Neither a public defender nor a judge was able to spot or stop this miscarriage of justice either. No one inside the system successfully exposed or remedied the abusive situation. Things only changed for Sampson when the store owner got video evidence and took it to the media. And even then, the egregious misbehavior of the police officers went unpunished.

Most of the perpetrators are still on the job.

What do police officers make of this story? How do they explain the fact that such abusive behavior continued for so long? What do they regard as an appropriate punishment? What would they suggest to guard against similar abuses elsewhere? What would they do if they encountered fellow officers treating a man this way? I don't mean to suggest that police are of one mind about this or any other controversy, or that Miami Gardens reflects how police behave everywhere. But when the public reads or listens to stories that document egregious police abuses, it is rare to encounter any members of the police community who express alarm, or champion reforms, or denounce the bad apples, or articulate why they have a different view than the conventional wisdom.  

If you're a police officer, maybe no one asked for your opinion on a case like this before. I invite any of your thoughts.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

homan square is definitely an unusual place...,

guardian |  The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.
Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:
  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.
At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.
Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.

sim maker gemalto was hacked by ghcq and the nsa..,

bbcnews |  The Dutch Sim card maker at the centre of NSA-GCHQ hacking claims has said it believes that the US and UK cyberspy agencies did indeed launch attacks on its computer systems. 

However, Gemalto denied that billions of mobile device encryption keys could have been stolen as a result.
The Intercept alleged last week that spies had obtained the "potential to secretly monitor" voice and data transmissions after hacking the firm.
Gemalto operates in 85 countries.
Its clients include AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint among more than 400 wireless network providers across the world.
GCHQ and the NSA have not commented directly on the allegations.
Fake emails
In a statement, Gemalto said it had carried out a "thorough investigation" following the claims, which were based on documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
"The investigation into the intrusion methods described in the document and the sophisticated attacks that Gemalto detected in 2010 and 2011 give us reasonable grounds to believe that an operation by NSA and GCHQ probably happened," the company said.
It highlighted two "particularly sophisticated intrusions" that it suggested the agencies were responsible for.

“watching people when they move, it’s natural: every country does it. ”

WaPo |  Cellphones didn’t just arrive in Pakistan. But someone could be fooled into thinking otherwise, considering the tens of millions of Pakistanis pouring into mobile phone stores these days. 

In one of the world’s largest — and fastest — efforts to collect biometric information, Pakistan has ordered cellphone users to verify their identities through fingerprints for a national database being compiled to curb terrorism. If they don’t, their service will be shut off, an unthinkable option for many after a dozen years of explosive growth in cellphone usage here.

Prompted by concerns about a proliferation of illegal and untraceable SIM cards, the directive is the most visible step so far in Pakistan’s efforts to restore law and order after Taliban militants killed 150 students and teachers at a school in December. Officials said the six terrorists who stormed the school in Peshawar were using cellphones registered to one woman who had no obvious connection to the 

But the effort to match one person to each cellphone number involves a jaw-dropping amount of work. At the start of this year, there were 103 million SIM cards in Pakistan — roughly the number of the adult population — that officials were not sure were valid or properly registered. And mobile companies have until April 15 to verify the owners of all of the cards, which are tiny chips in cellphones that carry a subscriber’s personal security and identity information.

In the past six weeks, 53 million SIMs belonging to 38 million residents have been verified through biometric screening, officials said. 

“Once the verification of each and every SIM is done, coupled with blocking unverified SIMs, the terrorists will no longer have this tool,” said a senior Interior Ministry official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the government’s security policy. “The government knows that it’s an arduous job, both for the cellular companies and their customers, but this has to be done as a national duty.”