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Member since: Fri Dec 25, 2015, 03:07 AM
Number of posts: 443

Journal Archives

New app sends push notifications whenever police kill someone

At last, a use for smart phones!


At least 986 people were killed by the police in 2015. More than 11 deaths have already been reported this year in the U.S.—and now there’s an app that will send you a notification every time that number gets bigger.

Josh Begley, a Web developer who specializes in data visualization, announced the new app Archives + Absences through his Twitter account this week. The app sends users a push notification with the name of the person killed and it also has a map tab that displays the incident's location.


Begley has dedicated his latest work to addressing police killings and issues regarding the relationship between the community and law enforcement. One of his most recent projects, Officer Involved, shows hundreds of aerial images showcasing the exact location where an individual was killed by police. Begley calls it a “visualization of police violence” on his website.

Begley created a similar app in 2012 that sends users a notification every time there is a U.S drone strike around the world. The new app is already available in the App Store for free.
Posted by ErisDiscordia | Sun Jan 31, 2016, 01:38 PM (0 replies)

How Wall Street Came to Own the Clintons and the Democratic Party By Michael Krieger


Former FX trader at Citigroup, Chris Arnade, just penned a poignant and entertaining Op-ed at The Guardian detailing how Wall Street came to own the Democratic Party via the Clintons over the course of his career. While anyone reading this already knows how completely bought and paid for the Clintons are by the big financial interests, the article provides some interesting anecdotes as well as a classic quote about a young Larry Summers.

Here are some choice excerpts from the piece:

I owe almost my entire Wall Street career to the Clintons. I am not alone; most bankers owe their careers, and their wealth, to them. Over the last 25 years they – with the Clintons it is never just Bill or Hillary – implemented policies that placed Wall Street at the center of the Democratic economic agenda, turning it from a party against Wall Street to a party of Wall Street.

That is why when I recently went to see Hillary Clinton campaign for president and speak about reforming Wall Street I was skeptical. What I heard hasn’t changed that skepticism. The policies she offers are mid-course corrections. In the Clintons’ world, Wall Street stays at the center, economically and politically. Given Wall Street’s power and influence, that is a dangerous place to leave them.

The administration’s economic policy took shape as trickle down, Democratic style. They championed free trade, pushing Nafta. They reformed welfare, buying into the conservative view that poverty was about dependency, not about situation. They threw the old left a few bones, repealing prior tax cuts on the rich, but used the increased revenues mostly on Wall Street’s favorite issue: cutting the debt

Most importantly, when faced with their first financial crisis, they bailed out Wall Street...
Posted by ErisDiscordia | Sun Jan 31, 2016, 12:42 PM (2 replies)

You would think...in a person of sound judgment

that the prospect of earning his and her impeachments from a GOP-controlled Congress would have dissuaded the Clintons from embarking on this latest (and goddess help us, hopefully last) campaign.

Or maybe Bill's impeachment just rolled off their psyches like water off a duck?

Imagine the GOP puffed up by this chance for a second impeachment, and more likely than not, able to go all the way to removal from office. The stuff that oppo research is turning up about Hillary's time in the State Dept. is not so easily dismissed or ignored, and is a good indicator of how her presidency would operate. For all that the Clintons know more about the use (and abuse) of power than Obama ever will, there's nothing in their characters to prevent the kind of overreach that will lead us all down that merry path again.

Personally, I don't want to have to endure such antics. Once was too much.
Posted by ErisDiscordia | Sun Jan 31, 2016, 05:21 AM (4 replies)

Flint: Let Them Drink Pollution?


By James Boyce, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and co-founder of Econ4: Economics for People, the Planet, and the Future. His most recent book is Economics, the Environment and Our Common Wealth.

The tragic crisis in Flint, Michigan, where residents have been poisoned by lead contamination, is not just about drinking water. And it’s not just about Flint. It’s about race and class, and the stark contradiction between the American dream of equal rights and opportunity for all and the American nightmare of metastasizing inequality of wealth and power.

The link between environmental quality and economic inequality was spelled out more than two decades ago in a memorandum signed by Lawrence Summers, then chief economist of the World Bank, excerpts of which appeared in The Economist under the provocative title, “Let them eat pollution.” Starting from the premise that the costs of pollution depend on “the forgone earnings from increased morbidity and mortality,” Summers concluded that “the economic logic of dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest-wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.”

A different logic is supposed to underpin U.S. environmental policies. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act mandates that water quality standards should “protect the public health” – period. Its aim, as former EPA administrator Douglas Costle once put it, is “protection of the health of all Americans.” Under the law, clean water is a right, not something to be provided only insofar as justified by the purchasing power of the community in question. Even when cost-benefit calculations are brought to bear on environmental policy, the EPA uses a single “value of a statistical life” – currently around $8.7 million – for every person in the country, rather than differentiating across individuals on the basis of income or other attributes.

In practice, however, the role of costs and benefits in shaping public policies often depends on the power of those to whom they accrue. When those on the receiving end are poor, their interests – and their lives – often count for less, much as the Summers memo recommended. And when they are racial and ethnic minorities, the political process often discounts their well-being even more...

Posted by ErisDiscordia | Sat Jan 30, 2016, 11:16 AM (1 replies)

The economic losers are in revolt against the elites Martin Wolf


Losers have votes, too. That is what democracy means — and rightly so. If they feel sufficiently cheated and humiliated, they will vote for Donald Trump, a candidate for the Republican party’s presidential nomination in the US, Marine Le Pen of the National Front in France or Nigel Farage of the UK Independence party. There are those, particularly the native working class, who are seduced by the siren song of politicians who combine the nativism of the hard right, the statism of the hard left and the authoritarianism of both.

Above all, they reject the elites that dominate the economic and cultural lives of their countries: those assembled last week in Davos for the World Economic Forum. The potential consequences are frightening. Elites need to work out intelligent responses. It might already be too late to do so.

The projects of the rightwing elite have long been low marginal tax rates, liberal immigration, globalisation, curbs on costly “entitlement programmes”, deregulated labour markets and maximisation of shareholder value. The projects of the leftwing elite have been liberal immigration (again), multiculturalism, secularism, diversity, choice on abortion, and racial and gender equality. Libertarians embrace the causes of the elites of both sides; that is why they are a tiny minority.

In the process, elites have become detached from domestic loyalties and concerns, forming instead a global super-elite. It is not hard to see why ordinary people, notably native-born men, are alienated. They are losers, at least relatively; they do not share equally in the gains. They feel used and abused. After the financial crisis and slow recovery in standards of living, they see elites as incompetent and predatory. The surprise is not that many are angry but that so many are not...Nativist populists must not win. We know that story: it ends very badly. In the case of the US, the outcome would have grave global significance. America was the founder and remains guarantor of our global liberal order. The world desperately needs well-informed US leadership. Mr Trump cannot provide this. The results could be catastrophic.

not even a mention of Bernie, the other populist, but then, the Bernie Blackout is global. They don't even know he's running! We should be grateful that this paper didn't lump Bernie in with Trump, as others have done.
Posted by ErisDiscordia | Sat Jan 30, 2016, 09:52 AM (0 replies)

After Embarrassing Hacks, Feds Roll Out New Government Agency


A new government agency is going to take over the process of performing background checks of existing and potential government employees. The news comes about six months after it was revealed that hackers had broken into the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) computers and stolen the sensitive personal information of nearly 22 million past and current federal employees, a scandal that cost former OPM Director Katherine Archuleta her job.

"This is primarily about recognizing the evolving threats and national security importance of the background investigation systems and data," Samuel J. Schumach, OPM's press secretary, told the New York Times. "Utilizing what DOD can provide—a large and trained cybersecurity work force to protect against and respond to cyberintrusions, and a strong focus on national security—is the right step to take."

The new agency will be called the National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB), according to Federal New Radio, and it will take over the Federal Investigative Services, a bureau of the personnel agency that has been responsible for running most background checks. The Department of Defense will design and build the new agency's information technology and cybersecurity systems, Federal News Radio reports, and will also operate the data storage and security of the system. The NBIB and its staff will still work within the Office of Personnel Management, but a presidential appointee will run it, notes Engadget. It's unclear when the agency will get off the ground, but work on the project will begin this year.

The new agency is the result of a 90-day review of the government's information security policies and practices that President Barack Obama ordered in July. The president will ask for an additional $95 million in his 2017 budget to pay for the new agency...
Posted by ErisDiscordia | Sat Jan 30, 2016, 09:44 AM (4 replies)

Note to Hillary: Clintonomics Was a Disaster for Most Americans By Robert Pollin/The Nation


Under Bill Clinton, Wall Street created a ruinous bubble, while workers lost wages and power...
Posted by ErisDiscordia | Sat Jan 30, 2016, 09:39 AM (50 replies)

Why Is There a Media Blackout on Bernie Beating Trump in the Polls?

just part of the blackout of Bernie entirely, one would think


Major corporate media outlets in the United States are reporting on a new viability for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign, based on his rise in the polls nationally and in Iowa and New Hampshire -- and possibly, though this goes largely unmentioned, based on his big new advertising purchases from major corporate media outlets. In independent progressive media as well, there's a small flood of maybe-he-can-really-win articles.

Whether or not this goes any further, something remarkable has happened. The Donald Trump campaign (in many ways outlandish and uniquely dangerous) more or less fits the usual mold in terms of media success; the data are very clear that the media gave Trump vastly disproportionate media coverage, following which he rose in the polls—the same polls later used to justify the coverage. This was the story of how the media created Howard Dean's success before tearing him down in 2004, and it has been the story of most candidates, successful and otherwise: the polling closely follows the coverage, not the other way around.

Bernie is something new. The major media has given him ridiculously little coverage, and belittled him in most of that coverage. Yet he has surged in the polls, in volunteers, in small-donor fundraising, and in real world events. While television news has shunted aside actual events, crises, social movements, the state of the natural environment, any number of wars, countless injustices, and most legislative activities in order to focus more than ever on the next election, and has done so ever since it was nearly two years away, the media has also given wildly disparate attention to certain candidates, in a way that bears no correlation to polling or internet searching or donors or any such factor. As of last fall, Bernie Sanders had received a total of 8 minutes of coverage from broadcast evening news, less than Mitt Romney or Joe Biden got for deciding not to enter the race.

And yet, Bernie polls better against Donald Trump (now that a pollster finally asked that question and released the results) than does Hillary Clinton. And Bernie is gradually catching up to Clinton in polls of Democrats. If he wins New Hampshire (very likely) and Iowa (pretty likely), all sorts of bandwagon jumpers could switch their support to him, and uninspired voters become inspired to vote in the next several primary states, snowballing the magical force of "momentum" into an upset victory with great media ratings, even if horrifying political implications from the point of view of major media outlets' corporate owners.


Posted by ErisDiscordia | Sat Jan 30, 2016, 09:34 AM (1 replies)

Bernie Sanders has the most realistic plan to boost wages and job creation by Matthew Yglesias


Here's one more reason to take Bernie Sanders's candidacy seriously: He has put forward statements and arguments on what is by far the most powerful lever a president has on the American economy — the chronically neglected subject of monetary policy.

Sanders's Fed agenda cuts against the narrative of a campaign agenda at odds with wonks' preoccupations and political reality. It could use a little more polish and consultation with a wider range of experts, but it's certainly more detailed and substantive than anything Hillary Clinton (or, for that matter, Barack Obama) has said on the subject. It's also realistic — based largely on things that can be achieved through executive authority.

These ideas got a relatively warm reception from a somewhat surprising source: former Bill Clinton Treasury Secretary and former Obama National Economic Council Chair Larry Summers. This should tell you a lot, given that Summers and Sanders stand at essentially opposite poles of intraparty Democratic debates about economic policy.

Sanders's core point: The Fed could do more to help working people
Politicians rarely talk about the Federal Reserve even though it's the main agency that regulates the pace of job creation. It's true that the Fed operates independently of elected officials' views, but so does the Supreme Court — and elected officials are perfectly aware that it makes no sense to talk about abortion rights without mentioning the Supreme Court.

Posted by ErisDiscordia | Sat Jan 30, 2016, 08:54 AM (7 replies)

Behind Michigan's "Financial Martial Law": Corporations and Right-Wing Billionaires —By Andy Kroll



Last week, Michigan's Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed into law a fiercely contested bill giving unelected "emergency financial managers" unprecedented power to shred union contracts, privatize city services, and consolidate or dissolve local governments, all in the name of saving struggling cities and school districts. Dubbed "financial martial law" by one approving state GOP lawmaker and "disaster capitalism" by critics, Snyder and his bill have become a target for Wisconsin-like protests. Several thousand demonstrators marched on the Michigan Capitol in the days before Snyder signed the bill. But gone unmentioned is a little-known Michigan think tank that for years has been pushing for the most controversial provisions in Snyder's bill—and that's bankrolled by some of the same right-wing millionaires and billionaires that backed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his anti-union legislation.

Since 2005, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy has urged reforms to Michigan law giving more power and protection to emergency financial managers, state-appointed officials who parachute into ailing cities or school districts and employ drastic measures to fix budgets on the brink of collapse. In January, the free-market-loving center published four recommendations, including granting emergency managers the power to override elected officials (such as a mayor or school board member) and toss out union contracts. All four ended up in Snyder's legislation.

"The Mackinac Center has been tied at the hip with the Republican Party establishment for years," says Doug Pratt, public affairs director at the Michigan Education Association. "It goes to their funding sources; it goes to their ideology."

Mackinac is part of a network of state-based groups associated with the Heritage Foundation, the influential right-wing think tank in Washington. Its past and present board members include Robert Teeter, a GOP strategist and '92 campaign manager for George H.W. Bush; Margaret Rieker, a former vice chairwoman of the Republican National Committee; and Joseph Lehman, a former vice president at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington.

The Mackinac Center does not disclose its donors. But a review of tax records shows that the group's funders include the charitable foundations of the nation's largest corporations and a host of wealthy conservative and libertarian benefactors. Between 2002 and 2009, the Mackinac Center's donors included the Charles G. Koch Foundation ($69,151), founded by the chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, who, with his brother, David, is a major backer of conservative causes; the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation ($80,000), the charity tied to the son of the co-founder of Amway, the multibillion-dollar direct marketing company; the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, established by the parents of Blackwater founder Erik Prince, who serves as the foundation's vice president ($195,000); and the Walton Family Foundation ($100,000), established by Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and his wife, Helen.

Posted by ErisDiscordia | Sat Jan 30, 2016, 08:48 AM (0 replies)
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