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Inside ALEC: How Corporations Ghost-Write Anti-Consumer State Telecom Legislation ·
[Stop the Cap! has written extensively about the pervasive influence some of the nation’s largest cable and phone companies have on telecommunications legislation in this country.  On the state level, one group above all others is responsible for quietly getting company-ghost-written bills and resolutions into the hands of state lawmakers to introduce as their own.]
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is the latest corporate response to campaign finance and lobbying reform — a Washington, D.C.-based “middle man” that brings lawmakers and corporate interests together while obfuscating the obvious conflict of interest to voters back home if they realized what was going on.
ALEC focuses on state laws its corporate members detest because, in many cases, they represent the only regulatory obstacles left after more than two decades of deregulatory fervor on the federal level. State lawmakers are ALEC’s targets — officeholders unaccustomed to a multi-million dollar influence operation. The group invites lawmakers to participate in policy sessions that equally balance corporate executives on one side with elected officials on the other. Consumers are not invited to participate.
business  lobbying  gov2.0  politics  GOP  stop_the_cap  conflict_of_interest 
yesterday by rgl7194
The 2008 Crash Was Not a Singular Event - WhoWhatWhy
How a Decade of Financial Crisis Changed the World
The holy grail of physics is a unified field theory that somehow explains both the micro and macro aspects of how the world works. The same holds true for what Thomas Carlyle called the “dismal science” of economics, as we seek to understand the causes and consequences of the 2008 financial meltdown.
In this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, Jeff Schechtman talks with economic historian Adam Tooze, professor of history at Columbia University and award-winning author, about a reinterpretation of the 2008 financial crisis through the lens of what came before and what followed in its wake.
On this tenth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Tooze explains how, contrary to popular mythology, this was not just a problem that started in the US and rippled outward, but a global problem: the first real crisis of the global age.
economics  finances  banking  stock_market  2000s  gov2.0  politics  podcast  transcript 
3 days ago by rgl7194
You Can't Change Hatred—But You Can Outvote It
There’s an old saying: “When the horse is dead—dismount.”
It’s time to stop beating that horse, America. It’s not going anywhere.
I’ve tried for three years now.
I’ve tried to understand them.
I’ve tried to listen to them.
I’ve tried not to assign motive to them, not to speculate as to why they voted the way they voted, not to believe they consented to every cruel thing their vote birthed and enabled.
I’ve tried not to caricaturize them; not to make them into one-dimensional stereotypes, not to treat them as some fictional other whose presence posed a threat.
I’ve tried appealing to their sense of decency, to their capacity for compassion, to their faith in Jesus.
politics  gov2.0  hate  voting  election  religion 
8 days ago by rgl7194
Collective Interests: Going Numb on 9/11 - WhoWhatWhy
Another year has passed since 9/11, and it seems as though accountability for those who financed and supported the perpetrators is further from reality than ever.
While yet more evidence has surfaced this year about the people involved in covering up the crime, secrecy reigns supreme in Washington. Yelling “national security” a whole lot, which US intelligence officials and lawmakers tend to do when they don’t want classified information released for public consumption, has a funny way of locking up scandal nice and tight.
Additionally, the major news outlets rarely mention the involvement of high-ranking Saudis in the plot or the cover-up. So the anniversary has become a day of little more than patriotic memorials and sorrow, while deferred justice is left to what remains of the court of public opinion.
But there is precious little progress on that front.
gov2.0  politics  terrorism  911  security 
9 days ago by rgl7194
Trans-national America - The Atlantic
As World War I unfolded in Europe, intensifying ethnic antagonisms, native-born Americans became increasingly suspicious of the pockets of immigrant culture thriving among them. In 1916, critic and essayist Randolph Bourne challenged such attitudes with an essay—now considered a classic of forward thinking—calling for a new, more cosmopolitan conception of America and a reconsideration of the “melting-pot” theory.
No reverberatory effect of the great war has caused American public opinion more solicitude than the failure of the ‘melting- pot.’ The discovery of diverse nationalistic feelings among our great alien population has come to most people as an intense shock. It has brought out the unpleasant inconsistencies of our traditional beliefs We have had to watch hard- hearted old Brahmins virtuously indignant at the spectacle of the immigrant refusing to be melted, while they jeer at patriots like Mary Antin who write about ‘our forefathers.’ We have had to listen to publicists who express themselves as stunned by the evidence of vigorous nationalistic and cultural movements in this country among Germans, Scandinavians, Bohemians, and Poles, while in the same breath they insist that the mien shall be forcibly assimilated to that Anglo- Saxon tradition which they unquestioningly label ‘American.’
usa  gov2.0  politics  immigration  1910s 
9 days ago by rgl7194
Figure of the Week: 50
French government think tanks have issued 50 recommendations to combat “information manipulations.”
The recommendations are part of an exhaustive new study published by the Centre for Analysis, Planning and Strategy (CAPS) — attached to the ministry of foreign affairs — and the Institute for Strategic Research of the Military School (IRSEM) — attached to the ministry of the armed forces.
The study focuses chiefly on the Kremlin’s disinformation efforts, although it also details disinformation campaigns conducted by China and the Gulf States.
It warns that information manipulation, defined as “the intentional and massive distribution of false or biased news for hostile political purposes,” aims to “undermine the foundations of our democracy” and thereby constitute a threat to national security.
Its recommendations are addressed to governments, civil society, private actors, and the general public.
media  literacy  europe  russia  propaganda  fake_news  politics  gov2.0 
9 days ago by rgl7194
The Kavanaugh Hearing: Beyond the Soundbites - WhoWhatWhy
The following is WhoWhatWhy’s take on these incredible and historic four days. Unlike other news outlets, we offer a comprehensive story. We did not try to do this in incremental pieces, or by referring you to videos. It captures, as best we can, some of the major issues on which Kavanaugh’s vote will make a difference. And it helps you understand Kavanaugh the man. What drives this ultra-conservative judge? How does he make his decisions? What he demonstrated during the hearings is a coldness that does not bode well for the republic.
This is a man who can advocate for female law clerks, but cannot — or will not — understand the pain of a teenaged undocumented immigrant in her fourth month of pregnancy; who says he tutors students from low-income neighborhoods, but does not understand the destructive role that guns play in their world; who can espouse Catholic social-justice teaching, but sees no disconnect in gutting regulations that protect the public’s health and safety.
In the four days senators considered Brett Kavanaugh’s qualifications to be the next Supreme Court justice, Democrats went through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance or, rather, resignation.
Kavanaugh would replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court’s swing vote, a conservative who sometimes sided with his more liberal colleagues on the bench. Kavanaugh would join the court at a time when the third branch of government — the judiciary — never seemed more important. “Fears of authoritarian rule are rampant in this country,” said Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) because of concerns about “a president willing to walk away from rule of law.”
congress  gov2.0  politics  schumer  SCOTUS 
10 days ago by rgl7194
What’s Still On Mueller’s To-Do List? | FiveThirtyEight
As the summer drew to a close, Labor Day attained almost mythic status for followers of the Mueller investigation. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani repeatedly claimed that the Mueller probe, which is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election, was poised to wrap up by the beginning of September. Others breathlessly predicted that indictments of Roger Stone and even Donald Trump Jr. were imminent.
Instead, none of that happened. And now Mueller-watchers may have to wait even longer to learn what the special counsel investigation has in store. With the midterm elections less than 60 days away, some observers have predicted that Mueller will refrain from taking steps that could affect the outcome — although as former FBI director James Comey can attest, there’s no ironclad rule forbidding Department of Justice officials from taking action, even on the eve of an election.
As we enter this possible quiet period, however, it’s a good time to take stock of what Mueller has accomplished so far, and what questions are left unanswered.
538  crime  DOJ  gov2.0  legal  mueller  politics  russia  special_counsel  trump 
10 days ago by rgl7194
Liberals Don't Know Much About Conservative History - POLITICO Magazine
And both sides suffer for it.
The growing tendency of late for liberals and conservatives to regard each other as not just opponents, but enemies, has been one of the most alarming in an alarming era. At the root of this fear and loathing is mutual incomprehension: Liberals simply don’t understand conservatives, and vice versa. In years past, the historical profession has done little to improve matters. Liberal historians typically treated conservatives and their ideas with disdain, when they deigned to notice them at all.
The end-of-century victories of Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich, however, forced historians to realize that conservatism could no longer be dismissed as a mere road bump on the inexorable progression toward a liberal future. The result, over the past two decades, has been a veritable tsunami of historical literature on conservatism. Virtually all of these works have been written by liberals. Nonetheless, historians of this new generation consider themselves to be unbiased and even sympathetic observers of conservatism. Many believe their collective efforts have produced a profound historical understanding of conservatism as an intellectual and cultural phenomenon, and thus contributed in some measure to bringing politically opposed citizens together.
gov2.0  politics  conservative  liberal  history 
10 days ago by rgl7194
Stephen Miller Is an Immigration Hypocrite. I Know Because I’m His Uncle. - POLITICO Magazine
If my nephew’s ideas on immigration had been in force a century ago, our family would have been wiped out.
Let me tell you a story about Stephen Miller and chain migration.
It begins at the turn of the 20th century, in a dirt-floor shack in the village of Antopol, a shtetl of subsistence farmers in what is now Belarus. Beset by violent anti-Jewish pogroms and forced childhood conscription in the Czar’s army, the patriarch of the shack, Wolf-Leib Glosser, fled a village where his forebears had lived for centuries and took his chances in America.
He set foot on Ellis Island on January 7, 1903, with $8 to his name. Though fluent in Polish, Russian and Yiddish, he understood no English. An elder son, Nathan, soon followed. By street corner peddling and sweatshop toil, Wolf-Leib and Nathan sent enough money home to pay off debts and buy the immediate family’s passage to America in 1906. That group included young Sam Glosser, who with his family settled in the western Pennsylvania city of Johnstown, a booming coal and steel town that was a magnet for other hardworking immigrants. The Glosser family quickly progressed from selling goods from a horse and wagon to owning a haberdashery in Johnstown run by Nathan and Wolf-Leib to a chain of supermarkets and discount department stores run by my grandfather, Sam, and the next generation of Glossers, including my dad, Izzy. It was big enough to be listed on the AMEX stock exchange and employed thousands of people over time. In the span of some 80 years and five decades, this family emerged from poverty in a hostile country to become a prosperous, educated clan of merchants, scholars, professionals, and, most important, American citizens.
gov2.0  politics  trump  immigration 
10 days ago by rgl7194
Trump admin rejected report showing refugees did not pose major security threat
Hard-liners issued their own report that several ex-officials say misstates evidence and inflates the threat posed by people born outside the U.S.
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has consistently sought to exaggerate the potential security threat posed by refugees and dismissed an intelligence assessment last year that showed refugees did not present a significant threat to the U.S., three former senior officials told NBC News.
Hard-liners in the administration then issued their own report this year that several former officials and rights groups say misstates the evidence and inflates the threat posed by people born outside the U.S.
At a meeting in September 2017 with senior officials discussing refugee admissions, a representative from the National Counterterrorism Center came ready to present a report that analyzed the possible risks presented by refugees entering the country.
But before he could discuss the report, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand dismissed the report, saying her boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, would not be guided by its findings.
"We read that. The attorney general doesn't agree with the conclusions of that report," she said, according to two officials familiar with the meeting, including one who was in the room at the time.
Brand's blunt veto of the intelligence assessment shocked career civil servants at the interagency meeting, which seemed to expose a bid to supplant facts and expertise with an ideological agenda. Her response also amounted to a rejection of her own department's view, as the FBI, part of the Justice Department, had contributed to the assessment.
trump  politics  gov2.0  immigration  report 
10 days ago by rgl7194
Oh for fuck's sake, not this fucking bullshit again (cryptography edition) / Boing Boing
America, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and Australia are in a surveillance alliance called The Five Eyes, through which they share much of their illegally harvested surveillance data.
In a recently released Statement of Principles on Access to Evidence and Encryption, the Five Eyes powers have demanded, again, that strong cryptography be abolished and replaced with defective cryptography so that they can spy on bad guys.
They defend this by saying "Privacy is not absolute."
But of course, working crypto isn't just how we stay private from governments (though god knows all five of the Five Eyes have, in very recent times, proven themselves to be catastrophically unsuited to collect, analyze and act on all of our private and most intimate conversations). It's how we make sure that no one can break into the data from our voting machines, or push lethal fake firmware updates to our pacemakers, or steal all the money from all of the banks, or steal all of the kompromat on all 22,000,000 US military and government employees and contractors who've sought security clearance.
Also, this is bullshit.
Because it won't work.
Here's the text of my go-to post about why this is so fucking stupid. I just can't be bothered anymore. Jesus fucking christ. Seriously? Are we still fucking talking about this? Seriously? Come on, SERIOUSLY?
ANZ  canada  encryption  gov2.0  politics  privacy  security  spying  uk  usa 
10 days ago by rgl7194
Five-Eyes Intelligence Services Choose Surveillance Over Security - Schneier on Security
The Five Eyes -- the intelligence consortium of the rich English-speaking countries (the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand) -- have issued a "Statement of Principles on Access to Evidence and Encryption" where they claim their needs for surveillance outweigh everyone's needs for security and privacy.
...the increasing use and sophistication of certain encryption designs present challenges for nations in combatting serious crimes and threats to national and global security. Many of the same means of encryption that are being used to protect personal, commercial and government information are also being used by criminals, including child sex offenders, terrorists and organized crime groups to frustrate investigations and avoid detection and prosecution.
Privacy laws must prevent arbitrary or unlawful interference, but privacy is not absolute. It is an established principle that appropriate government authorities should be able to seek access to otherwise private information when a court or independent authority has authorized such access based on established legal standards. The same principles have long permitted government authorities to search homes, vehicles, and personal effects with valid legal authority.
The increasing gap between the ability of law enforcement to lawfully access data and their ability to acquire and use the content of that data is a pressing international concern that requires urgent, sustained attention and informed discussion on the complexity of the issues and interests at stake. Otherwise, court decisions about legitimate access to data are increasingly rendered meaningless, threatening to undermine the systems of justice established in our democratic nations.
security  privacy  gov2.0  politics  usa  canada  uk  ANZ  encryption  spying 
10 days ago by rgl7194
Will the Real Voter Fraud Criminals Please Stand Up - WhoWhatWhy
Let’s say you had to rob a bank and there are two ways of doing it: In the first, you’d have to walk into a series of banks with a gun and steal $1 at a time — risking arrest and severe punishment with each robbery. In the other, you work for the bank, can steal $5 million at a time, and, if you get caught, you get to keep the money and face no legal consequences. Which would you choose?
If this sounds like a no-brainer, here is an even more ridiculous choice: Let’s say you had to steal an election and there are two ways of doing it: One of them is to convince millions of individuals to cast a vote in states in which the outcome is not in doubt and risk severe penalties for doing so. The other is to use your elected office to deny millions of people the right to vote (or to make their vote meaningless by putting them in gerrymandered districts). If you get caught, there are no penalties and, if you are lucky, nothing will change.
Now here is the craziest thing: In the US, there is an actual debate over which of these latter two scenarios is an actually existing problem.
voting  election  GOP  gov2.0  politics  gerrymandering  op-ed 
10 days ago by rgl7194
Sanders rolls out ‘Bezos Act’ that would tax companies for welfare their employees receive - MarketWatch
New legislation rolled out by Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday would tax corporations for the federal benefits their employees receive.
The legislation, introduced by both the Vermont independent as well as Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, is aimed at companies including Amazon AMZN, -0.99%  , Walmart WMT, +0.85%   and United Airlines UAL, +0.59%   that employ low-paid employees.
Not so subtly, it was named by Sanders the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies, or BEZOS Act. Jeff Bezos is the founder and chief executive of Amazon. (The House version is called the Corporate Responsibility and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2017.)
business  welfare  taxes  gov2.0  politics  amazon  congress 
10 days ago by rgl7194
Voter Suppression 101 - WhoWhatWhy
How State Governments Legally Damage Democracy
While widespread voter fraud may be a figment of President Donald Trump’s imagination, it should never be confused with voter suppression, which is very real. Two months out from the midterm elections, the basic rights of millions of Americans are under threat.  
In this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, Jeff Schechtman is joined by Carol Anderson, the Chair of African American studies at Emory University and an authority on voter suppression — especially of the efforts to disenfranchise African American voters in the South.
She talks about how individuals within state governments are relentlessly fighting to deprive citizens of their fundamental rights. She explains how this is part of the long legacy of structural racism, which has become even more pernicious since the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder. That ruling eviscerated, in her opinion, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, by allowing states and communities with a demonstrated history of racial discrimination to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice.
gov2.0  election  politics  101  podcast  legal  voting  state 
10 days ago by rgl7194
Trump Is Dangerous, but Is #Resistance Just as Dangerous? - WhoWhatWhy
Yesterday the New York Times took the “rare step” of publishing an anonymous op-ed from a senior official in the Trump administration:
I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration
I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.
The op-ed comes hot on the heels of revelations from the soon-to-be-published book, Fear: Trump in the White House, by long-time investigative journalist Bob Woodward, which the piece references by hyperlink. Like the op-ed, the book highlights administration officials’ efforts to mitigate the president’s rash decision-making and unhinged behavior.
The op-ed author makes clear that his resistance does not originate from the left: “We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.”
The problem, the official says, is President Donald Trump’s erratic behavior and “amorality.”
gov2.0  politics  trump  nytimes  op-ed 
10 days ago by rgl7194
Whose Side Is the CIA On? - WhoWhatWhy
What does it say about the state of the nation that many on both the left and right are banking their hopes for the future of American democracy on the patriotism and competence of cloak-and-dagger spooks?
If you tune in to left-leaning mainstream cable news shows on MSNBC or CNN, you’ll see a steady parade of such stalwarts of the intelligence community as former CIA director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Former FBI director James Comey, once the bane of the left for reopening the Clinton email inquiry two weeks before the 2016 election, is now lauded in Democratic circles for his attacks on President Donald Trump.
The view of many on the left that the president is an existential threat to the safety and security of the country is a sentiment shared with many right-wing #NeverTrumpers.
politics  gov2.0  trump  CIA 
10 days ago by rgl7194
The Anonymous New York Times Op-Ed and the Trumpian Corruption of Language and the Media | The New Yorker
Let’s get the obvious points out of the way first: the anonymous Op-Ed published by the Times on Wednesday was a ploy by someone who wants to distance himself from what he perceives to be an imperilled Administration, while capitalizing on whatever credibility and popularity the Presidency still retains. The article added little to the public’s understanding of the Administration—an understanding that has already been shaped by seemingly endless leaks and rumors from within the White House. Only the day before the Op-Ed was published, excerpts from Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear,” added to the ever-accumulating picture of chaos, mendacity, fear, embattlement, and contempt for the President even within his senior staff. But, while the content of the anonymous Op-Ed is not newsworthy, in the sense of providing new information, the fact of its publication certainly is.
gov2.0  politics  trump  nytimes  op-ed 
10 days ago by rgl7194
Banking on the Public Option: Will LA Lead the Way for People-Owned Banks? - WhoWhatWhy
If Los Angeles were to establish a public bank — an issue its residents will vote on in the fall — one of two things could happen.
In the opinion of plan proponents, a public bank would free the city from predatory Wall Street institutions and save taxpayers a lot of money. That money could then be used to fund needed projects, such as affordable housing, infrastructure, renewable energy, and small-business expansion.
Opponents of the proposal, on the other hand, predict that such a bank would be a disaster. Untethered from market forces, the “public” bank might make loans to the politically connected without regard to profitable returns. Critics argue it would be so inefficient and poorly managed that city taxpayers would eventually be forced to bail it out.
Granted, even public approval does not mean LA will get a public bank. Other local, state, and federal hurdles need to be cleared before such a bank could be up and running.
Nevertheless, the vote on the measure could have implications far beyond the city or even California. If the proposal passes this November, it could jumpstart other efforts by cities and states around the nation that are currently considering setting up their own public banks.
New Jersey’s new governor was elected on a platform that promised to establish a public state bank. San Francisco and Oakland have done feasibility studies, though no results have been announced. In all, there are an estimated 15 separate pieces of legislation at the city and statewide level around the country that aim to establish local public banks.
banking  public  LA  gov2.0 
10 days ago by rgl7194

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