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7 Right-Wing Absurdities This Week: Colbert Causes Conservative Meltdown Edition

April 12, 2014 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

Apoplexy after Stephen Colbert takes CBS late-night reins from Letterman.

1. Various conservative clowns: Stephen Colbert will single-handedly destroy America.

The hysteria on the right about Stephen Colbert’s elevation to CBS’s Late Night post has been nothing short of hilarious. Even before news hit that Colbert would replace David Letterman when he retires, Bill O’Reilly frantically declared that Colbert is responsible for the “destruction of America.” That’s quite a distinction, when there are so many other things vying for the title of “America’s Top Destroyer.” (Wait, reality contest show idea: “Who will be America’s Next Top Destroyer?”)

More than failing infrastructure, abject refusal to deal with the coming climate catastrophe, rampant, spiraling inequality to rival the Gilded Age, near daily mass shootings, the criminalization of poverty; or deportation of millions of legions of innocent undocumented immigrants [insert your favorite scourge here], it is Stephen Colbert who is ushering in the decline of this great nation. In addition, O’Reilly also said, Colbert is an “ideological fanatic,” a “deceiver” and responsible for the mayhem following UConn’s March Madness win.

No, we don't really get that last one either.

Rush Limbaugh sputtered that Colbert’s promotion was “an assault on the heartland of America,” prompting millions of heartlanders to scurry to their bomb shelters with multiple firearms, canned goods and bottled water. He also said it represented a “redefinition of comedy,” a “redefinition of what's funny.” This is true, Rush. Comedy has been redefined to mean something that makes actual people laugh.

And, after numerous attempts to identify the full extent of the outrage, Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro finally landed on this metaphor: In making a career out of pitch-perfect conservative pundit mockery, Stephen Colbert was guilty of no less than the moral equivalent of “vile political blackface.” Clever wordsmith Shapiro called this “Conservativeface,” a neologism that seems destined to catch on.

No word on whether Colbert is the Anti-Christ.Although a few years back a little outfit called Christfire implied as much, calling Colbert Stalinesque, Hitleresque and a bigger threat to America than Islamic terrorism.

All right ye liberals! You’ve been warned! Laugh your way straight into Satan’s clutches.

2. …read more


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Global Corporations Are Scheming to Take Control of Our Economy — We Can Put a Stop to It

April 12, 2014 in Blogs

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, AlterNet

Round 2 in the battle to stop the horrific TPP trade agreement begins. Time to correct the failures of globalized trade.

The broad movement for fair trade has stalled the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  When fast track trade promotion authority was introduced by former Senator Baucus, the Chairman of the Finance Committee, it was announced dead by Harry Reid and many of the members of the Finance Committee. A similar bill in the House also died quickly, not even proceeding to mark-up in the Ways and Means Committee, despite being introduced by its Chairman, David Camp (R-MI).

Congressional leadership including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) all announced that they opposed the Baucus-Camp version of fast track. Vice President Biden acknowledged that trade promotion authority was unlikely this year. This happened because a movement of movements engaged in protests across the country, the issue was raised at town hall meetings and hundreds of thousands of phone calls and emails went to Capitol Hill saying “no” to fast track for the TPP.

But, we knew that efforts to rig global trade in the favor of trans-national corporations would not stop there. The movement of movements that stopped the first version of fast track has been preparing for the next stage.

The new chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), made a speech this week announcing that he was working to introduce a new version of trade promotion authority that he is propagandistically calling “smart-track,” but which sounds more like fast track in sheep’s clothing.  Wyden was vague on the details, but this far into the process any fast track bill being pushed will still rig trade in favor of transnational corporations.

For people who care about worker’s rights, the environment, Internet freedom, health care for all, regulation of banks and big finance, healthy food, access to water and other issues, the fundamental question is: will trade put the necessities of the people and environment before the profits of transnational corporations and the already wealthy? From what …read more


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This Week’s 5 Most Ridiculous Innovations — the Selfie-Photo Enhancer You Don't Want or Need

April 12, 2014 in Blogs

By Sarah Gray,

There are some world-changing tech innovations being developed. These five are not among them.

Every week, tech publications report on some really innovative new products: Smartphone apps, life hacks and gadgets that have astounding effects on our society. OoHo! is an edible membrane that holds water. The product costs under 10 cents to make and if successfully implemented could reduce the use of disposable plastic water bottles.

And then there are the gimmicky, silly and even sexist tech inventions that call into question why they were created in the first place. Here are this week’s most ridiculous innovations:

1) S.E.L.F.I.E.: Self Enhancing Live Feed Image Engine

Tired of having your smartphone costar in your mirror pics? Arm not long enough to take a proper selfie? Is using Photobooth on your MacBook just too darn difficult? Well, a team of researchers have created the perfect marriage of technology and narcissism: The S.E.L.F.I.E. It was built with a two-way mirror, facial recognition software, LED lights and Arduino processor. All you need to do is stand on a floor sensor, wait for the LED light countdown and, presto, the perfect selfie. The image appears on the smartphone app, and you can share it with all of your friends! I can see this having a market in bar-bathrooms across the country.

2) Lumi Deco Nails

Wearable tech is the next great gadget frontier: Smartwatches, Google Glass, fitness bands and nail decals! Now you can have perfectly manicured nails that also light up when you hold an Android cellphone, video game controller, tablet or smart wallet. The $12 set, designed by Japanese company Takara Tomy Arts, includes a nail file, 16 normal nail decals and one specially equipped with a built-in LED. The LED light contains near-field communication (NFC) sensors, and lights up when NFC-enabled devices are detected. Soon there will be an app to control the pattern of your LED nail-light. So when you are texting in a dark room you can also be giving a fabulous light show. Innovation!

3) Pluto Mail

If former Chris Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly had Pluto Mail, we might never have found out …read more


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Belle Knox, Duke University Porn Performer, Becomes Media Star and Target

April 12, 2014 in Blogs

By Ayesha Adamo, AlterNet

Knox shows herself to be a teenager with more nuanced social concerns and a greater depth of human understanding than many of the more mature adults around her.

Since the last time I wrote about Belle Knox,Duke University’s rising porn starlet, she’s claimed her throne as belle of the ball in the New York media circuit, gracing the full spectrum of talk shows, and receiving the full spectrum of responses from their hosts. While Knox’s interview with Ricky Camilleri had all the elegance and in-depth, thoughtful interviewing you’d expect from Huffpost Live, Dr. Drew used his airtime with the porn star to prove that not every host can be the class-act that Artie Lange or Howard Stern showed themselves to be—both of whom gave respectful interviews and covered the issues at stake through entertaining, non-judgmental open dialog. 

Sadly, Dr. Drew was not the only purveyor of foot-in-mouth moments. Here are a few selections from Knox’s media tour.

Knox on The View

The first stop on Knox’s media tour was ABC’s The View, where the 18 year-old left many bunched panties in her wake. If it were only a matter of former Playmate of the Year Jenny McCarthy asking, “What happened?” (i.e. that turned you to porn), it wouldn’t even have been all that weird. 

But when Knox mentioned that she began watching porn at age 12, and Barbara Walters asked if she did so with her parents (assuming abuse?), and everybody (quite naturally) laughed at the absurdity of it all — that’s when things get really weird. As Knox rather sweetly put it later in her interview with Howard Stern: “She (Barbara) didn’t know what was going on.” It’s the Internet where tweens are watching porn these days…without their parents. 

But you kind of have to give Barbara Walters the benefit of the doubt, even when she asked wince-worthy things like, “I just wondered if you have other ambitions?” 1) because she’s endearingly bewildered and sort of sweet about it; 2) because she’s from a completely different generation; and 3) because it’s nothing compared to what Sherri Shepherd had in store.

It was as though the sole purpose …read more


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Barack Obama Pulls A George W. Bush: Lies, Misinformation and Chemical Weapons

April 12, 2014 in Blogs

By Patrick L. Smith,

Remember the almost-war in Syria last year? An amazing new report — which our media won't touch — is a must read.

Am I misjudging our time, or have we entered some accelerated cycle of American subversions, and then another cycle of coverups and disinformation that do not quite come off? In less than a year, the Obama administration has mounted four covert coup operations, all variants of the classic Cold War model, all costly of human life, all assuring us the contempt and animosity of many people for years to come.

In chronological order:

* The American-authorized coup in Egypt last July. In the disinformation universe, Washington watched at a distance. Since the coup, dead silence in the face of a blood bath, except for Secretary of State Kerry’s applause for the Egyptian army’s “restoration of democracy.”

• In the war to depose Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, the linchpin event is the chemical-weapons attack last Aug. 21. We are invited — required, actually — to believe Assad allowed U.N. inspectors in to determine responsibility for previous gas attacks and then launched another attack near Damascus while the inspectors were settled in their hotel rooms.

* The role of the U.S. and its European allies in financing, fomenting and steering the direction of the Ukraine coup requires little discussion at this point. Rather bizarrely in the face of all we have on record, the Obama people continue to insist Ukraine is nothing more than a case of Russian overreach. As order unravels in the eastern sections of the country, it is important to bear in mind the chronology of events — and from the beginning, not somewhere in the middle.

* In Venezuela, the foreign minister recently read aloud portions of intercepted cable traffic documenting American subterfuge. No, no, no: Nicolás Maduro, successor to the late Hugo Chávez, is just as paranoid as his mentor, and both were merely trying to distract Venezuelans from their economic problems. (Vigilance is always essential when Washington and the hacks marshal the “distraction” thesis.)

Cuba could go on this list, given news of Washington’s operation of a social-media network …read more


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The NSA's Heartbleed Problem Is the Problem with the NSA

April 12, 2014 in Economics

By Julian Sanchez

Julian Sanchez

The American intelligence community is forcefully denying reports that the National Security Agency has long known about the Heartbleed bug, a catastrophic vulnerability inside one of the most widely-used encryption protocols upon which we rely every day to secure our web communications. But the denial itself serves as a reminder that NSA’s two fundamental missions — one defensive, one offensive — are fundamentally incompatible, and that they can’t both be handled credibly by the same government agency.

In case you’ve spent the past week under a rock, Heartbleed is the name security researchers have given to a subtle but serious bug in OpenSSL, a popular version of the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol — successor to the earlier Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) — that safeguards Internet traffic from prying eyes. When you log in to your online banking account or webmail service, the little lock icon that appears in your browser means SSL/TLS is scrambling the data to keep aspiring eavesdroppers away from your personal information. But an update to OpenSSL rolled out over two years ago contained a bug that would allow a hacker to trick sites into leaking information — including not only user passwords, but the master encryption keys used to secure all the site’s traffic and verify that you’re actually connected to rather than an impostor.

The NSA’s two fundamental missions — one defensive, one offensive — are fundamentally incompatible.”

It’s exactly the kind of bug you’d expect NSA to be on the lookout for, since documents leaked by Edward Snowden confirm that the agency has long been engaged in an “aggressive, multi-pronged effort to break widely used Internet encryption technologies”. In fact, that effort appears to have yielded a major breakthrough against SSL/TLS way back in 2010, two years before the Heartbleed bug was introduced — a revelation that sparked a flurry of speculation among encryption experts, who wondered what hidden flaw the agency had found in the protocol so essential to the Internet’s security.

On Friday, Bloomberg News reported that Heartbleed had indeed been added to NSA’s arsenal almost immediately after the bug appeared, citing two anonymous sources “familiar with the matter”. Within hours, the intelligence community’s issued an unusually straightforward denial, free from the weasely language intelligence officials sometimes employ to almost-but-not-quite deny allegations. As the statement pointed out, the federal government itself “relies on OpenSSL to protect the privacy of …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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CIA and White House Under Pressure After Senate Torture Report Leaks

April 12, 2014 in Blogs

By Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

Senate committee found CIA interrogations and detentions to be 'brutal' and urges administration to release report as quickly as possible.

A leak of the major findings of a landmark Senate inquiry into the CIA’s post-9/11 torture of terrorism detainees led, on Friday, to intensified pressure on the White House and the CIA to release the inquiry speedily and with a minimum of redactions.

The classified study, prepared by the Senate select committee on intelligence, concluded that the CIA’s interrogations, secret detentions and outsourced torture sessions were “brutal, and far worse than the agency communicated to policymakers.”

More suspected terrorists underwent the agency’s post-9/11 treatment, which largely lasted from 2002 to 2006, than the CIA has publicly admitted, according to the report’s findings, which were first reported byMcClatchy. Last week, committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California stated that the Senate investigated the cases of 100 detainees– dozens more than previously known to have gone through the CIA’s so-called “interrogation, detention and rendition” programs.

In addition to misleading policymakers, the Senate report charges the CIA with selectively and leaking classified and inaccurate information to journalists in order to portray the program in a positive light.

“The CIA manipulated the media by co-ordinating the leak of classified information, which inaccurately portrayed the effectiveness of the agency’s enhanced interrogation techniques,” the committee found.

The agency also, according to the report, provided factually inaccurate information to Bush administration lawyers, who relied on it to concoct the legal theories that underpinned an apparatus of torturous interrogations and detentions that quickly spread to US military facilities at Guantánamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The study took four years and $40m to complete, and has brought the relationship between the CIA and the Senate panel overseeing it to perhaps its lowest ebb in history.

Not only does Langley contend that the committee has developed a factually inaccurate picture of the since-shuttered program, it has appealed to the Justice Department to open a criminal inquiry into Senate staffers for taking a classified agency document out of a secured facility – a move Feinstein has called an attempt at intimidation.

In March, on the Senate floor, Feinstein …read more


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Video: Matt Drudge and Information Overload

April 12, 2014 in Economics

By Mises Updates

For the text version, see today’s Mises Daily. 

Presented at “Inflation: Causes, Consequences, and Cure”: a free seminar for high school and college students. Hosted at the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, on 11 April 2014.

…read more