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April 17, 2014

From Klint Finley at Wired:

When NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden first emailed Glenn Greenwald, he insisted on using email encryption software called PGP for all communications. But this month, we learned that Snowden used another technology to keep his communications out of the NSA’s prying eyes. It’s called Tails. And naturally, nobody knows exactly who created it.

Tails is a kind of computer-in-a-box. You install it on a DVD or USB drive, boot up the computer from the drive and, voila, you’re pretty close to anonymous on the internet. At its heart, Tails is a version of the Linux operating system optimized for anonymity. It comes with several privacy and encryption tools, most notably Tor, an application that anonymizes a user’s internet traffic by routing it through a network of computers run by volunteers around the world…

The developers initially called their project Amnesia and based it on an existing operating system called Incognito. Soon the Amnesia and Incognito projects merged into Tails, which stands for The Amnesic Incognito Live System.

Medicaid Expansion GOP Hammer

April 17, 2014

From David Dayen at Salon:

Liberal backers of Obamacare have increased their fury in recent weeks over how 24 states, controlled in part or in whole by Republicans, have rejected the law’s Medicaid expansion, which the Supreme Court ruled they could do without consequences back in 2012. This has denied 5 million Americans health insurance coverage. “It really is just almost awesome in its evilness,” said Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of healthcare reform. “It appears to be motivated by pure spite,” added Paul Krugman…

There must be consequences for this practice of cruelly leaving poor Americans without health coverage in a proxy fight against Obamacare. Democrats cannot will Medicaid expansion into existence in red states by sitting on the sidelines, tut-tutting that Republicans “would be crazy not to take such a good deal,” or hoping that things will simply work out. They have to actually fight. The delay in coming around to this reality was inexcusable; now there’s at least a chance to build the movement necessary to accomplish this.

Sign Flying

April 16, 2014

From Liz Seymour at Triad City Beat:

The sequence of events that leads someone to panhandling is much too complex to fit on a cardboard sign. For Susan flying a sign became a matter of life and death. Years of childhood abuse had led to an adulthood filled with bad relationships and self-punishing behavior. She was with an abusive man who was pressuring her to join him in shoplifting and who beat her if she didn’t bring in enough money to help pay for the motel room they shared.

I saw a man steal a handful of gum today at a drugstore. I guess this kind of thing is becoming more prevalent as the insane NC legislature continues to marginalize those who have nothing. Like shoplifters, panhandlers are necessary barometers of economic injustice. The very least we should be asked is to confront the representatives of poverty, with so many of us being apathetic, if not offended by their sight. Indeed, were a panhandler on every corner, something might be done about their plight.

Yes, panhandlers perform an important public service and were we a moral society, their alms seeking would be revered and venerated. No civilization can advance far without bringing its poor with them. Business has no concern for them and business has governed us for far too long. We must stop worshiping the false religion of private enterprise and return to concern for the public good. Those flying signs remind us that something is terribly wrong. Creating a city where they are no longer required must be the solution.

The Brennan Visit

April 16, 2014

From Donn Marten at Carrying a Flag:

Brennan was a particularly good choice for Obama to dispatch, given that that the CIA boss is a veteran of the Bush regime torture programs that the agency along with El Presidente are now desperately trying to keep secret despite ongoing pressure from non other than top NSA Stasi defender Dianne Feinstein. Brennan, much like former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland who helped to start the mess in Ukraine and is a former Dick Cheney aide. The Brennan visit shows that Obama and his merry band of neocon pirates are “all-in” when it comes to this latest foreign policy disaster, one that could have very serious consequences in that each US provocation and lie leads closer to a confrontation with Russia…

When the US-NATO goon squads join forces with neo-Nazis, fanatics such as Pravy Sektor, mercenaries and neo-Nazis to engage Eastern Ukrainian resistance to the illegitimate austerity government in Kiev – coming soon, maybe even today. The Russians may have no choice but to send forces across the border to prevent the slaughter.

Ukrainian Neo-Nazis Sent to Border

April 16, 2014

From Robert Parry at Consortium News:

The acting president of the coup regime in Kiev announces that he is ordering an “anti-terrorist” operation against pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine, while his national security chief says he has dispatched right-wing ultranationalist fighters who spearheaded the Feb. 22 coup that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

On Tuesday, Andriy Parubiy, head of the Ukrainian National Security Council, went on Twitter to declare, “Reserve unit of National Guard formed #Maidan Self-defense volunteers was sent to the front line this morning.” Parubiy was referring to the neo-Nazi militias that provided the organized muscle that overthrew Yanukovych, forcing him to flee for his life. Some of these militias have since been incorporated into security forces as “National Guard.”…

Historically, right-wing paramilitaries have played crucial roles in “counter-terror” campaigns around the world. In Central America in the 1980s, for instance, right-wing “death squads” did much of the dirty work for U.S.-backed military regimes as they crushed social protests and guerrilla movements.

Why the City is Not a Bank

April 16, 2014

From George Hartzman at YES! Weekly:

In February 2012, Greensboro’s City Council passed a resolution approving a $200,000 loan, $100,000 of which was to construct a parking lot that has been completed, and a second $100,000 for a companion restaurant to Worx…

A member of the Momentum Group… informed three City staff members last week that “75 or 80 percent” of the Cantina was complete. Yet the developers have submitted invoices, and received payments from the City, for all but $1,642.86 of the second $100,000…

The City appears to have extended a noncompliant contract after payments were made and obligations not produced, which now looks like it’s in default.

I feel kind of greasy after reading that. How unfortunate that so many innocent people are exposed. People are motivated to serve in government in order to further their businesses. Otherwise, councils would be made up of people like Hartzman.

The economy and the general fact that anybody building a restaurant is an idiot have conspired to render this particular deal behind its contractual limits. That also is unfortunate, but the city is not a bank. It doesn’t need to run like a business. It is an institution established by the citizens to maintain and improve the city, in this case downtown. Sure, the people involved sit on boards. THAT’S WHY WE HAVE THEM.

There is nothing to this story. It is another sad attempt to do something good and doesn’t deserve exposition or derision.

Hartzman is evil and printing this is irresponsible.

Obamacare: It’s Working!

April 15, 2014

From Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone:

With support for the ACA growing – in the latest NPR poll, 54 percent either approve of the law or want it to go further – the reality is dawning on the GOP that the law could still prove a wedge issue this fall, against its own electoral interests. “The Republican focus on Obamacare is backfiring,” says Stanley Greenberg, a top Democratic pollster, who conducted the survey with a GOP counterpart. “They’re on the wrong side of the issue.”…

[T]he president’s health-care law has insured far more people outside the private insurance exchanges – upward of 10 million, beginning with 1 million children with pre-existing conditions who were covered with the law’s 2010 passage, and 3 million young adults who have secured coverage on their parents’ health plans. Obamacare never did get a public option, but a huge portion of its new enrollees are now on a publicly funded health plan: Medicaid…

Where insurers previously rejected nearly one in five applicants, today an estimated 120 million Americans with a pre-existing condition cannot be denied coverage…

Since the bill’s passage in 2010, growth in health-care spending has dialed down to just 1.3 percent – less than one-third the average since 1965 – and the insurance industry’s 2014 premiums weighed in at 15 percent less than CBO projections…

Nearly 5 million Americans who live below the poverty line have been deprived of health insurance – and it’s the 24 states that rejected Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, almost all led by Republican governors or legislatures, that should be held accountable…

A study for the South Carolina Hospital Association found that Medicaid expansion would have brought more than $11 billion in federal funding to the state by 2020, creating nearly 44,000 new jobs and growing tax revenue enough to offset more than half of the state’s future Medicaid cost-sharing…

In February, the GOP pushed a bill to tweak the mandate that businesses offer health care to all employees working more than 30 hours. Switching to the GOP’s preferred 40-hour standard, it turns out, would add $74 billion to the deficit by 2024 and cause nearly 1 million Americans to lose coverage.


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