B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

ex-Facebook insider says covert data harvesting was routine

No Information Left Of Any Kind
No Information Left Of Any Kind

The Facebook exposé continues at The Guardian. Privacy enthusiasts have known or suspected this was Facebook’s business model all along, it is good to make Facebook’s practices more well known to the general public.

Hundreds of millions of Facebook users are likely to have had their private information harvested by companies that exploited the same terms as the firm that collected data and passed it on to Cambridge Analytica, according to a new whistleblower.

Sandy Parakilas, the platform operations manager at Facebook responsible for policing data breaches by third-party software developers between 2011 and 2012, told the Guardian he warned senior executives at the company that its lax approach to data protection risked a major breach.

 “My concerns were that all of the data that left Facebook servers to developers could not be monitored by Facebook, so we had no idea what developers were doing with the data,” he said.

Parakilas said Facebook had terms of service and settings that “people didn’t read or understand” and the company did not use its enforcement mechanisms, including audits of external developers, to ensure data was not being misused.

Asked what kind of control Facebook had over the data given to outside developers, he replied: “Zero. Absolutely none. Once the data left Facebook servers there was not any control, and there was no insight into what was going on.”

Parakilas said he “always assumed there was something of a black market” for Facebook data that had been passed to external developers. However, he said that when he told other executives the company should proactively “audit developers directly and see what’s going on with the data” he was discouraged from the approach.

He said one Facebook executive advised him against looking too deeply at how the data was being used, warning him: “Do you really want to see what you’ll find?” Parakilas said he interpreted the comment to mean that “Facebook was in a stronger legal position if it didn’t know about the abuse that was happening”.

He added: “They felt that it was better not to know. I found that utterly shocking and horrifying.”

(click here to continue reading ‘Utterly horrifying’: ex-Facebook insider says covert data harvesting was routine | News | The Guardian.)

As a side note, if you have a few dollars to throw at the feet of The Guardian, they’ve done heroic work on this story, and don’t have a paywall. Support heroic journalism!

Written by Seth Anderson

March 20th, 2018 at 8:24 am

Posted in Advertising,Business

Tagged with ,

6 Charged With Identity Theft Scheme Using Card Skimmers at Gas Stations

Filling Up
Filling Up…

There has to be some better solution to the problem of gas station and ATM skimmers  other than paying cash inside the little gas station booth.

Six Florida residents are accused of using card skimmers at Chicago-area gas stations to commit identity theft to the tune of more than $200,000.

Charges of identity theft, financial institution fraud, theft by deception, conspiracy to commit a financial crime, computer fraud and mail fraud have been filed in Cook County

“This scheme is nearly impossible to detect by a customer, so it is critically important that people regularly monitor their bank and credit card accounts and report any unauthorized charges,” Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in the statement.

(click here to continue reading 6 Charged With Identity Theft Scheme Using Card Skimmers at Gas Stations – NBC Chicago.)

Impossible to detect! Well, what then? Apple Pay or other higher security transactions?

Written by Seth Anderson

March 19th, 2018 at 10:57 am

Posted in Business,crime

Tagged with ,

Facebook’s Role in Data Misuse Sets Off a Storm on Two Continents

Helicopter with Camera
Helicopter with Camera

The big news over the weekend was how Facebook, Trump and Cambridge Analytica worked together to weaponize people’s personal information against them to help Trump win the 2016 election, perhaps with the assistance of Russia. The truth is this harvesting and manipulation of data is Facebook’s model, and anyone who uses Facebook is participating. Facebook is “free”, how exactly do you think they make their billions?

American and British lawmakers demanded on Sunday that Facebook explain how a political data firm with links to President Trump’s 2016 campaign was able to harvest private information from more than 50 million Facebook profiles without the social network’s alerting users. The backlash forced Facebook to once again defend the way it protects user data.

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, went so far as to press for Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, to appear before the panel to explain what the social network knew about the misuse of its data “to target political advertising and manipulate voters.”

The calls for greater scrutiny followed reports on Saturday in The New York Times and The Observer of London that Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm founded by Stephen K. Bannon and Robert Mercer, the wealthy Republican donor, had used the Facebook data to develop methods that it claimed could identify the personalities of individual American voters and influence their behavior. The firm’s so-called psychographic modeling underpinned its work for the Trump campaign in 2016, though many have questioned the effectiveness of its techniques.

But Facebook did not inform users whose data had been harvested. The lack of disclosure could violate laws in Britain and in many American states.

(click here to continue reading Facebook’s Role in Data Misuse Sets Off a Storm on Two Continents – The New York Times.)

Even the Faux Walls have eyes
Even the Faux Walls have eyes

If you have time, you should read the tale of the ex-Cambridge Analytica whisteblower, Christopher Wylie in The Guardian/Observer.

which includes this revelation:

Dr Kogan – who later changed his name to Dr Spectre, but has subsequently changed it back to Dr Kogan – is still a faculty member at Cambridge University, a senior research associate. But what his fellow academics didn’t know until Kogan revealed it in emails to the Observer (although Cambridge University says that Kogan told the head of the psychology department), is that he is also an associate professor at St Petersburg University. Further research revealed that he’s received grants from the Russian government to research “Stress, health and psychological wellbeing in social networks”. The opportunity came about on a trip to the city to visit friends and family, he said.

There are other dramatic documents in Wylie’s stash, including a pitch made by Cambridge Analytica to Lukoil, Russia’s second biggest oil producer. In an email dated 17 July 2014, about the US presidential primaries, Nix wrote to Wylie: “We have been asked to write a memo to Lukoil (the Russian oil and gas company) to explain to them how our services are going to apply to the petroleum business. Nix said that “they understand behavioural microtargeting in the context of elections” but that they were “failing to make the connection between voters and their consumers”. The work, he said, would be “shared with the CEO of the business”, a former Soviet oil minister and associate of Putin, Vagit Alekperov.

“It didn’t make any sense to me,” says Wylie. “I didn’t understand either the email or the pitch presentation we did. Why would a Russian oil company want to target information on American voters?”

Lukoil is a private company, but its CEO, Alekperov, answers to Putin, and it’s been used as a vehicle of Russian influence in Europe and elsewhere – including in the Czech Republic, where in 2016 it was revealed that an adviser to the strongly pro-Russian Czech president was being paid by the company.

When I asked Bill Browder – an Anglo-American businessman who is leading a global campaign for a Magnitsky Act to enforce sanctions against Russian individuals – what he made of it, he said: “Everyone in Russia is subordinate to Putin. One should be highly suspicious of any Russian company pitching anything outside its normal business activities.”


(click here to continue reading ‘I made Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool’: meet the data war whistleblower | News | The Guardian.)

The attention led to Facebook suspending Mr. Wylie’s Facebook and Instagram accounts…

Techcrunch reports

In the latest turn of the developing scandal around how Facebook’s user data wound up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica — for use in the in development in psychographic profiles that may or may not have played a part in the election victory of Donald Trump — the company has taken the unusual step of suspending the account of the whistleblower who helped expose the issues.

(click here to continue reading Facebook has suspended the account of the whistleblower who exposed Cambridge Analytica | TechCrunch.)

Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic writes:

Academic researchers began publishing warnings that third-party Facebook apps represented a major possible source of privacy leakage in the early 2010s. Some noted that the privacy risks inherent in sharing data with apps were not at all clear to users. One group termed our new reality “interdependent privacy,” because your Facebook friends, in part, determine your own level of privacy.

For as long as apps have existed, they have asked for a lot of data and people have been prone to give it to them. Back in 2010, Penn State researchers systematically recorded what data the top 1,800 apps on Facebook were asking for. They presented their results in 2011 with the paper “Third-Party Apps on Facebook: Privacy and the Illusion of Control.” The table below shows that 148 apps were asking for permission to access friends’ information.

But The Guardian’s reporting suggests that the company’s efforts to restuff Pandora’s box have been lax. Wylie, the whistleblower, received a letter from Facebook asking him to delete any Facebook data nearly two years after the existence of the data was first reported. “That to me was the most astonishing thing,” Wylie told The Guardian. “They waited two years and did absolutely nothing to check that the data was deleted. All they asked me to do was tick a box on a form and post it back.”

But even if Facebook were maximally aggressive about policing this kind of situation, what’s done is done. It’s not just that the data escaped, but that Cambridge Analytica almost certainly learned everything they could from it. As stated in The Guardian, the contract between GSR and Strategic Communications Laboratories states, specifically, “The ultimate product of the training set is creating a ‘gold standard’ of understanding personality from Facebook profile information.”

It’s important to dwell on this. It’s not that this research was supposed to identify every U.S. voter just from this data, but rather to develop a method for sorting people based on Facebook’s profiles. Wylie believes that the data was crucial in building Cambridge Analytica’s models. It certainly seems possible that once the “training set” had been used to learn how to psychologically profile people, this specific data itself was no longer necessary. But the truth is that no one knows if the Kogan data had much use out in the real world of political campaigning. Psychological profiling sounds nefarious, but the way that Kogan and Cambridge Analytica first attempted to do it may well have proven, as the company maintains, “fruitless.”

(click here to continue reading Cambridge Analytica and the Dangers of Facebook Data-Harvesting – The Atlantic.)

The way I personally deal with Facebook is by seeding it with incorrect information whenever I can, and by being diligent about deleting Facebook cookies from my browsers. Of course, I’m sure they know way too much about me, but at least some of their information is wrong.

Facebook Cookies
Facebook Cookies.PNG

Written by Seth Anderson

March 19th, 2018 at 9:27 am

Posted in Business,politics

Tagged with , ,

Gina Haspel Should Be In Prison Not Head of CIA

War Is Still a Racket
War Is Still a Racket

Torture is stain on our country. Not only does it rarely produce actionable intelligence, it is just morally and ethically wrong. The Senate should not confirm Gina Haspel to be Director of the CIA because she should be in prison instead.

John Kiriakou, a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, writes:

Described in the media as a “seasoned intelligence veteran,” Haspel has been at the CIA for 33 years, both at headquarters and in senior positions overseas. Now the deputy director, she has tried hard to stay out of the public eye. Mike Pompeo, the outgoing CIA director and secretary of state designee, has lauded her “uncanny ability to get things done and inspire those around her.”

I’m sure that’s true for some. But many of the rest of us who knew and worked with Haspel at the CIA called her “Bloody Gina.”

The CIA will not let me repeat her résumé or the widely reported specifics of how her work fit into the agency’s torture program, calling such details “currently and properly classified.” But I can say that Haspel was a protege of and chief of staff for Jose Rodriguez, the CIA’s notorious former deputy director for operations and former director of the Counterterrorism Center. And that Rodriguez eventually assigned Haspel to order the destruction of videotaped evidence of the torture of Abu Zubaida. The Justice Department investigated, but no one was ever charged in connection with the incident.

CIA officers and psychologists under contract to the agency began torturing Abu Zubaida on Aug. 1, 2002. The techniques were supposed to be incremental, starting with an open-palmed slap to the belly or the face. But the operatives where he was held decided to start with the toughest method. They waterboarded Abu Zubaida 83 times. They later subjected him to sleep deprivation; they kept him locked in a large dog cage for weeks at a time; they locked him in a coffin-size box and, knowing that he had an irrational fear of insects, put bugs in it with him.

Rodriguez would later tell reporters that the torture worked and that Abu Zubaida provided actionable intelligence that disrupted attacks and saved American lives. We know, thanks to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture and the personal testimony of FBI interrogator Ali Soufan, that this was false.

The meaning of Haspel’s nomination won’t be lost on our enemies, either. The torture program and similar abuses at military-run prisons in Iraq were among the greatest recruitment tools that al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and other bad actors ever had, according to legal experts, U.S. lawmakers and even the militantsthemselves. It energized them and gave them something to rally against. It sowed an even deeper hatred of the United States among militant groups. It swelled their ranks. It was no coincidence that the Islamic State paraded its prisoners in front of cameras wearing orange jumpsuits (like those worn by Guantanamo Bay detainees) before beheading them. Haspel and the others at the CIA who engineered and oversaw the torture program are at least partially responsible for that, because they showed the world how the United States sometimes treats captives. 

Do we Americans want to remain a nation that tortures people, like North Korea, China and Iran? Are we proud of the era when we snatched people from one country and sent them to another to be interrogated in secret prisons? Do we want to be the country that cynically preaches human rights and then violates those same rights when we think nobody is looking?

(click here to continue reading I went to prison for disclosing the CIA’s torture. Gina Haspel helped cover it up. – The Washington Post.)

Round Hole
Round Hole

I will be paying attention to who votes to confirm Bloody Gina, I’m looking at you specifically Senator Feinstein…



Asked by a reporter about her opposition to an earlier promotion that Haspel was up for in 2013, Feinstein replied, “Well, I have spent some time with her, we’ve had dinner together, we have talked … everything I know is, is that she has been a good deputy director of the CIA….I think hopefully the entire organization learned something from the so-called enhanced interrogation program. I think it’s something that can’t be forgotten. And I certainly can never forget it. And I won’t let any director forget it,” the senator added, revealing she shared a “long personal talk” with Haspel about the program.


Pressed to say whether she’s “a no” on Haspel’s nomination, Feinstein appeared to be undecided. “No, right now I’m late for my hearings,” she said.


Feinstein is facing a surprisingly robust primary challenge from Democratic state Sen. Kevin de Leόn, which already seems to have nudged her leftward as she competes for the nomination. It’s very unlikely Feinstein will actually lose, but frustration with her perceivably establishment politics is clearly mounting among California’s progressive voter base. Last month, not only did the longtime senator fail to secure the state party’s endorsement at its annual convention, but de Leόn beat her by a margin of 17 percent of delegates.


If Feinstein believes Haspel is the right woman for the job, a “yes” vote could really upset Golden State progressives already dissatisfied with her job performance. On Tuesday afternoon, de Leόn seized on Feinstein’s early reaction to Haspel. “It is very concerning Senator Feinstein is ‘open to supporting’ CIA nominee Haspel, who ran a ‘black site’ prison that waterboarded and beat prisoners,” he tweeted. “Believes she has been a ‘good’ deputy CIA Director.”


Regardless of her own interests, Feinstein may plausibly determine Haspel is unfit for the position. But the senator’s ambiguity on Tuesday signals some measure of respect for the nominee, indicating the decision won’t come easily no matter what.



(click here to continue reading Gina Haspel’s CIA nomination could torture Dianne Feinstein.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 18th, 2018 at 9:53 am

Archive of Studs Terkel Radio Shows to Be Released to Public

Zenith Phono Radio
Zenith Phono & Radio.

Excited to hear more of these:

More than 5,600 of Studs Terkel’s radio interview programs on the Chicago station WFMT will be released to the public.

The Studs Terkel Radio Archive will launch May 16, the 106th birthday of the late author, activist and oral historian. Terkel died in 2008 at age 96. The archive will be available on studsterkel.org.

For 45 years — 1952 to 1997 — the legendary Terkel elevated oral history to a popular genre by interviewing both the celebrated and everyday people for books and on WFMT. Among the radio interviews to be released are those with Martin Luther King Jr., Simone de Beauvoir, Bob Dylan, Cesar Chavez and Toni Morrison.

(click here to continue reading Archive of Studs Terkel Radio Shows to Be Released to Public – The New York Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 17th, 2018 at 11:04 am

How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions While Facebook Winked

Revolution of The Innocent
Revolution of The Innocent…

Cambridge Analytica, remember them?

All the more reason to cut back on the amount of time you spend at Facebook, and all the more reason to give Facebook and similar data-mining corporations fake information whenever possible:

As the upstart voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica prepared to wade into the 2014 American midterm elections, it had a problem.

The firm had secured a $15 million investment from Robert Mercer, the wealthy Republican donor, and wooed his political adviser, Stephen K. Bannon, with the promise of tools that could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior. But it did not have the data to make its new products work.

So the firm harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission, according to former Cambridge employees, associates and documents, making it one of the largest data leaks in the social network’s history. The breach allowed the company to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate, developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump’s campaign in 2016.

But the full scale of the data leak involving Americans has not been previously disclosed — and Facebook, until now, has not acknowledged it. Interviews with a half-dozen former employees and contractors, and a review of the firm’s emails and documents, have revealed that Cambridge not only relied on the private Facebook data but still possesses most or all of the trove.

Cambridge paid to acquire the personal information through an outside researcher who, Facebook says, claimed to be collecting it for academic purposes.

During a week of inquiries from The Times, Facebook downplayed the scope of the leak and questioned whether any of the data still remained out of its control. But on Friday, the company posted a statement expressing alarm and promising to take action.

“This was a scam — and a fraud,” Paul Grewal, a vice president and deputy general counsel at the social network, said in a statement to The Times earlier on Friday. He added that the company was suspending Cambridge Analytica, Mr. Wylie and the researcher, Aleksandr Kogan, a Russian-American academic, from Facebook. “We will take whatever steps are required to see that the data in question is deleted once and for all — and take action against all offending parties,” Mr. Grewal said.

(click here to continue reading How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions – The New York Times.)

Smile Through It All
Smile Through It All

Yeah, Facebook is going to “take action”. How? By admitting that they accumulate and sell way more personal information than their users know? By deleting this information? What exactly is the action that Facebook is going to do that will miraculously solve their bad PR?

The data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump’s election team and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in the tech giant’s biggest ever data breach, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.

A whistleblower has revealed to the Observer how Cambridge Analytica – a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump’s key adviser Steve Bannon – used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements.

Christopher Wylie, who worked with an academic at Cambridge University to obtain the data, told the Observer: “We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people’s profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis that the entire company was built on.”

Documents seen by the Observer, and confirmed by a Facebook statement, show that by late 2015 the company had found out that information had been harvested on an unprecedented scale. However, at the time it failed to alert users and took only limited steps to to recover and secure the private information of more than 50 million individuals.

The New York Times is reporting that copies of the data harvested for Cambridge Analytica could still be found online; its reporting team had viewed some of the raw data.

(click here to continue reading Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach | News | The Guardian.)


From the Facebook statement:

In 2015, we learned that a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge named Dr. Aleksandr Kogan lied to us and violated our Platform Policies by passing data from an app that was using Facebook Login to SCL/Cambridge Analytica, a firm that does political, government and military work around the globe. He also passed that data to Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies, Inc.

Like all app developers, Kogan requested and gained access to information from people after they chose to download his app. His app, “thisisyourdigitallife,” offered a personality prediction, and billed itself on Facebook as “a research app used by psychologists.” Approximately 270,000 people downloaded the app. In so doing, they gave their consent for Kogan to access information such as the city they set on their profile, or content they had liked, as well as more limited information about friends who had their privacy settings set to allow it.

Although Kogan gained access to this information in a legitimate way and through the proper channels that governed all developers on Facebook at that time, he did not subsequently abide by our rules. By passing information on to a third party, including SCL/Cambridge Analytica and Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies, he violated our platform policies. When we learned of this violation in 2015, we removed his app from Facebook and demanded certifications from Kogan and all parties he had given data to that the information had been destroyed. Cambridge Analytica, Kogan and Wylie all certified to us that they destroyed the data.

(click here to continue reading Suspending Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group from Facebook | Facebook Newsroom.)

Since 2015, Robert Mercer’s team of anti-liberal hordes have been siphoning personal information from Facebook, and Facebook only suspended them yesterday. Who else is doing similar things? I bet the list is long, longer than I can even imagine. But Facebook is content to take the cash…and get Trump elected.


Bloomberg reported a while ago

Facebook Inc.’s platform was a crucial messaging tool for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, according to the campaign’s digital director — who told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he hand-picked pro-Trump “embeds” from the company to help him use the platform in targeted ways.

“Twitter is how [Trump] talked to the people, Facebook was going to be how he won,” Brad Parscale told “60 Minutes,” according to an excerpt of an interview that the program intends to air Sunday. The social-media platform was particularly valuable because it allows for targeted messaging, Parscale said, according to the excerpt.

Facebook’s employees showed up for work at his office multiple days a week to provide guidance on how to best use the company’s services, Parscale said in the interview excerpt. “I wanted people who supported Donald Trump,” he said — and he questioned the workers about their political views.

(click here to continue reading Facebook ‘Embeds’ Helped Trump Win, Digital Director Says – Bloomberg.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 17th, 2018 at 9:31 am

Posted in Apple,Business

Tagged with , ,

Random Friday – Movement In The Atmosphere Edition

Put That Record Back On
Put That Record Back On…

We have not played the random shuffle game1 in a while, so here’s what came up on the shuffler this afternoon. Note: this is more than 10 songs, the smart playlist I used is made for creating CDs to play in a car2

My top-of-mind3 notes in green.

  1. Fleetwood MacRhiannon
    Fleetwood Mac – I’ve never been a huge Fleetwood Mac fan, but this isn’t a bad pop song, sung in best Stevie Nicks sultry style. You’ve probably heard it on the radio once or twice, or a million times. Do love the closing bass/drum line too.
  2. BloqueNena
    Bloque – A Columbian band that I don’t know much about. The opening sounds a lot like early Led Zeppelin. A catchy, danceable song, with Latin percussion layered onto alternative-rock changes; too bad I speak very little Spanish. 
  3. Doug PetersPact
    John Barleycorn Reborn: Dark Britannica –  Part of a box set of folkish music from the British Isles that’s worth tracking down. This song, like many on this collection, full of minor key obfuscations and hypnotic acoustic guitar riffs. 
  4. Beastie BoysThe New Style
    Licensed To Ill – Ahh, takes me way back (this came out in 1986). The Beastie Boys did evolve, and later albums are better musically and lyrically, but Licensed to Ill will always have a place in my brain.
  5. Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, and Dwight YokamBeer Can Hill
    1996 – Bakersfield twang, multi-generational edition. Not worthy of playing every day, but not bad. You could dance to it even.
  6. XWhite Girl (Single Mix)
    Wild Gift – Speaking of a misspent youth, X was played often too. “Living with a White Girl” might have been chanted a few times at various roommates in college. I refuse to say more.  
  7. Belle & SebastianI’m Not Living In The Real World
    Write About Love – A poppy lesson in Scottish ebullience. Allmusic compares this album to mid ‘60s Swinging London, I can hear that.
  8. Joy DivisionAtmosphere
    Heart And Soul – A tremendously moving song, one of my favorite Joy Division tracks. Peter Hook (bassist) agrees with me. Here’s the official band video (after Ian Curtis’s death). “Don’t walk away in silence.” B-Side to Love Will Tear Us Apart.
  9. 13th Floor ElevatorsSlide Machine (mono)
    Easter Everywhere – My high school’s most famous grad, other than me, was Roky Erickson. Psychedelic garage rock, with the electric jug, and LSD, what’s not to like? Upon listening more, this particular song is more psychedelic than straight-ahead garage rock. Quite interesting. I have no idea what the lyrics mean, probably neither does anyone else, though some speculate it refers to heroin injection.
  10. Vashti BunyanWinter Is Blue 
    Just Another Diamond Day – True. Every spring I sigh a sigh of escape, didn’t off myself this winter… This song irritates me though at the moment. A little too hippy-dippy. Some days I know I enjoy Vashti Bunyan, not today. 
  11. The LemonheadsI Just Can’t Take It Anymore
    Varshons – A Gram Parsons cover on an album of interesting covers, produced by Gibby Haynes.4 I thought I knew the music of Gram Parsons well, but I don’t know this particular song, so I can’t judge if the cover is as good or better than the original, just that I like it. Parsons is usually more plaintive, but that isn’t Evan Dando. 
  12. Cash, JohnnyCocaine Blues
    At Folsom Prison – I took a shot of cocaine and I shot that bitch down is prototypical gangsta rap, right? Still genius after so many listens…One of the best “live” albums ever.
  13. The Besnard LakesRides The Rails
    The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse – Canadian Indie Rock from 2007, part smooth harmony, part crunchy guitars. 
  14. Nelson, WillieHow Long Is Forever
    Countryman – Willie does a reggae LP. There are better songs on this album, but this one is ok too. A little generic.
  15. CAKEFrank Sinatra
    Fashion Nugget – Frank Sinatra as a metaphor. CAKE never became alt-rock gods in the ‘90s, but they could have, even on the basis of this song. 
  16. Reda DarwishRaqset El Banat
    Bellydance: A Rough Guide to – I should probably add this fun, danceable song to my list of Honoria’s Instrumentals. Back story of that: she asked if I could suggest some non-word music to play in the background while she teaches her drawing classes (using iTunes streaming I think). I suggested a few dozen off the top of my head, and since then, have been keeping track of wordless music, aka instrumentals. I have a new list to send her of over 1,000 songs, but I keep delaying sending her an update because I’m finding new tunes like this one. 1,000 instrumentals is kind of excessive, but  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 
  17. PavementOur Singer
    Slanted & Enchanted – Again a slice of ‘90s nostalgia. Part of the soundtrack to my early adulthood. Shambolic indie-rock with obscure lyrics FTW.
  18. Ho’opi’i, SolFeelin’ No Pain
    Master Of The Hawaiian Guitar, Volume One – Sol Ho’opi’i is an amazing guitar player (this song is also on Honoria’s Instrumentals). Recently I tuned my acoustic guitar to open G tuning, and have been exploring the slide guitar universe. Nothing as adept as this, but a “fun” variation to my normal guitar playing. Anyway, Sol Ho’opi’i is a Jimi Hendrix of the lap-steel slide guitar. Amazing. I actually cheated and played this song twice.
  19. FishboneMovement In The Light
    In Your Face – Alt-Rock Funk/rock, uhh, does that suffice as a description? Another album on this list I originally owned on vinyl, in the pre-CD/pre-streaming days. Strange how so many of the tunes on this playlist are songs I knew on vinyl. Not typical to be honest.
  20. Sonics, TheThis Broken Heart
    Chess Rhythm & Roll – Not those Sonics, a doo-wop band instead. I’m partial more to the garage rockers, but this song is still sweet. Funkadelic did an awesomely funky cover on their Cosmic Slop LP, seek that out. The original is ok, but the Funkadelic twist is better.
  21. Brand NubianBrand Nubian
    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – Radio Los Santos/Playback FM – early ‘90s hip-hop, with a Funkadelic sample5. Ok. 

Well, there you have it. If this was a road trip, and you were a passenger listening to the mix tape, would you take over control of the radio? I’d be ok with this eclectic mix, but on the other hand, there wasn’t quite enough loud music which is often a requirement for a road trip – one needs those driving rhythms to be able to merge in traffic with confidence. This particular randomization leans heavily on folk, folk rock, and country tunes. Not exclusively, but enough to maybe hit the fast-forward button mid-stream. Since I was only listening to the playlist in my office, it was pretty good. If I was burning this to CD, I’d change both the opening and closing track to something more memorable/interesting. I like to open with an instrumental, close with one too.

Smart Playlist  CDizer
Smart Playlist – CDizer.PNG

  1. the rules are simple, shuffle your music by song, play the first x=number songs, list ’em []
  2. 79 minutes worth []
  3. shallow []
  4. of the Butthole Surfers []
  5. Flashlight []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 16th, 2018 at 7:18 pm

Posted in Music

Tagged with

Music Is a Sanctuary From Chaos on Yo La Tengo’s ‘There’s a Riot Going On’

Silk Screen Via Virgil Thrasher
Silk Screen Via Virgil Thrasher…

Hmmm, minus the Beach Boys, that sounds a lot like what the core of my music library consists of1 Probably why I have most of Yo La Tengo’s albums already.

The band’s general canon, defined through its own songs and countless cover versions, is clear and broad: the 1960s of the Velvet Underground, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, the British Invasion and psychedelia; the 1970s of Los Angeles folk-pop, krautrock and punk; the 1980s of new wave, post-punk and indie rock, not to mention select Top 10 pop from every era.

(click here to continue reading Music Is a Sanctuary From Chaos on Yo La Tengo’s ‘There’s a Riot Going On’ – The New York Times.)

Not to mention that Sly & The Family Stone’s “There’s A Riot Goin’ On” is of my favorite Sly LPs…

Sam Adams adds

The title of There’s a Riot Going On, the 15th album by Yo La Tengo, seems to promise a confrontation of the sort laid down by their fellow indie rockers Superchunk, whose What a Time to Be Alive is full of galvanizing anti-Trump broadsides. But instead of a blast of supercharged guitars, the first thing you hear on Riot is a wave of undulating organ that goes on for the better part of a minute before being joined by a three-note bass loop and the sound of sleigh bells. Ira Kaplan’s guitar enters the swirl, tracing a path through the hypnotic, head-nodding pulse of James McNew’s bass and Georgia Hubley’s drums. The song, an instrumental, is called “You Are Here,” but the feeling is more like being swept along than rooted in place. You are everywhere.


There’s a Riot borrows its title from Sly and the Family Stone’s 1971 masterpiece There’s a Riot Goin’ On, trading the modified American flag on its cover for a hazy phosphene. It’s a puzzling choice that comes off somewhere between sincere homage and record-collector in-joke. (The band once fused the titles of an R&B instrumental, a one-off album by a Los Angeles punk band, and the surname of a fantasy novelist to come up with a song called “Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind,” which has nothing to do with either of the three.) But the original album’s title was also a misdirection, with a nonexistent “title track” running zero minutes and zero seconds. Faced with a turbulent world, Sly Stone turned inward, and so does Yo La Tengo on an album that, if hardly riotous, is one of their best.



(click here to continue reading Yo La Tengo’s new album There’s a Riot Going On, reviewed..)

I’ll let you know if it is any good in about a month2

  1. well, with some additions of course, Miles Davis, Fela Kuti, etc. []
  2. after I hear the album at least 4 times []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 16th, 2018 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Music

Tagged with

The Mighty Shamrocks “Paddy”

Sláinte–Garfield Conservatory
Sláinte – Garfield Conservatory

Today is a good day to listen to Irish music, so I queued up the mythical Irish roots album, Paddy by The Mighty Shamrocks.

Final release for mythical and influential Irish Alt-Country bootleg. This has been a long time coming. After several years slogging around the Irish dancehall circuit The Mighty Shamrocks came to the attention of Terri Hooley of Undertones fame and the owner of Good Vibrations Records in 1979. He immediately offered them the opportunity to record their debut album but; by the time they’d completed it in 1983 the label had gone bankrupt and the Masters have been gathering dust ever since, with bootleg copies falling into the hands of several Irish, Northern Irish and American-Irish musicians who have all gone into print citing its’ influence on their music.

Why all the fuss, you ask? Well; when this was recorded The Mighty Shamrocks sounded like nothing Ireland had heard before as they carefully/accidentally fused Country with some Blues and a healthy dose of nascent Punk and the end result could easily be a template for Alt-Country.

(click here to continue reading CD Review – The Mighty Shamrocks “Paddy” | No Depression.)

Mighty shamrocks  paddy
mighty shamrocks – paddy.PNG

and some backstory from Eric Klinger:


Northern Ireland. The late 1970s. The violence and turbulence of the Troubles are everywhere, along with IRA hunger strikes and crippling unemployment. Meanwhile, the straight ahead three-chord punk model was already revealing itself to be generally unsustainable, and shrewder bands were looking to other forms as a way forward. And in Northern Ireland, a way forward could mean a way out of the turmoil. Against that backdrop emerged the Mighty Shamrocks: singer/guitarist Mickey Stephens, guitarist Dougie Gough, bassist Roe Butcher, and drummer Paddy MacNicholl.


Taking cues from a wide range of music — the New Wave that was ubiquitous at the time, country elements from the pub rock scene, and a hint of reggae (their moniker is a play on roots reggae group the Mighty Diamonds) — the Mighty Shamrocks made their regional name on the strength of songs that brought the political turmoil of the times to a personal level. In 1983, the group recorded an album for the Good Vibrations label, and it looked like the group might well be on their way. But as it so often happens on the road to rock glory, fate made other plans. The Good Vibrations label went bankrupt just as the album was due for release, and the band collapsed under the pressure.


Over the years, the Mighty Shamrocks became something of a local legend, and the songs — mostly penned by Stephens, who had settled into an academic career in the United States — made the rounds on bootleg cassettes. It wasn’t until 2012 that the master tapes found their way into the right hands, enabling Paddy to receive the official release that for nearly 30 years had been out of reach.


This would be a nice enough story even if the music were only OK, but Paddy (named in honor of drummer MacNicholl, who unfortunately didn’t live to see this release) lives up to its legend. Stephens has a reedy, punchy quality to his voice, which complements the lyrics well. “Everyone had PTSD during the Troubles”, Stephens writes in the disc’s liner notes, and with that understanding lines like “I can’t sleep because I’m afraid of nightmares / I can’t stay up ’cause I’m afraid of ghosts” from “Dance the Night Away” take on a new urgency. Even “Coronation Street”, Stephens’ ode to the long-running British soap opera, becomes a meditation on simpler times that recalls the more pastoral side of Ray Davies.



(click here to continue reading Unearthing the Mighty Shamrocks – PopMatters.)

You can find a copy wherever it is you get slightly obscure music. 

Written by Seth Anderson

March 16th, 2018 at 8:20 am

Posted in Music,Suggestions

Tagged with

The New York Times has shut down its customizable keyword email alerts feature

Daily News
Daily News.

This bummed me out enough that I wrote a complaint (unanswered) to the NYT. I’ve had about 30 of these email alerts, configured over the years for specific topics-of-interest, and I found them extremely useful. There is so much information published every hour, one cannot keep up with constant stream of topics without technological assistance. Even if I only read the New York Times, and I don’t, I doubt I could keep up. Having a customizable keyword search was very useful. Oh well, consumers of news are less and less important to corporate media entities. Google News alerts are ok, but they aren’t as targeted, nor useful.

The New York Times has sunset those custom email alerts to Times stories, that users could tailor based on keywords of their interests. The feature, which met its unceremonious end Tuesday, March 13, was being used by less than half a percent of users, according to a Times spokesperson. From the outside, it didn’t seem like MyAlerts was a huge technical lift to maintain, but “much of the technology powering MyAlerts was built in the early 2000s.”

Ending the feature frees up “resources to invest in new engagement and messaging features that will debut in 2018. We also encourage our readers to sign up for one of over 50 email newsletters.”

(click here to continue reading The New York Times has shut down its customizable keyword email alerts feature ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ » Nieman Journalism Lab.)

The webservice company IFTTT has an applet that purports to emulate this functionality, but as far as I can tell, you can only have one keyword alert at a time which is pretty lame.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 15th, 2018 at 11:48 pm

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with ,

HUD emails show push to find workaround for $5,000 legal limit on Ben Carson’s office furnishings

Sphinx  Schoenhofen Pyramid Mausoleum
Sphinx – Schoenhofen Pyramid Mausoleum. 

In a normal presidential administration, Ben Carson would have resigned over this. But then in a normal administration, Dr. Carson would never even been nominated for the position in the first place. What exactly were his qualifications? Besides once being poor, and living in an apartment, there doesn’t seem to be much overlap with Carson’s “skills” of Egyptian pyramid sleuthing and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The emails also reveal that Carson’s dissatisfaction with the options readily and cheaply available to him in HUD’s basement took up months of time from the agency tasked with finding housing solutions for the last fortunate, frustrating some employees who viewed the legal $5,000 spending cap as the end of the line.

“He only gets 5k for new stuff,” then-HUD chief administrative officer Helen Foster wrote to fellow employee Kevin Cooke on March 3, 2017, at 2:38 p.m. “He chose to use it on window treatments.” Foster eventually claimed she was demoted over her unwillingness to exceed the $5,000 limit.

Acquiring new furniture for Carson’s office was a priority from day one — and before. On his first official day as secretary, Carson expressed displeasure with the chairs in his office.

“The secretary’s office called and said he doesn’t like his chairs,” reads an email from HUD director of facilities management services Mike Schimmenti to Foster and HUD administrator Laura McClure, in an email headed “secretary’s furniture request” on March 3, 2017 — the same day he was confirmed.

Before that, on Feb. 13 at 5:43 p.m., Foster emailed HUD finance officer Sarah Lyberg, saying she had been repeatedly asked to find more money for Carson’s office.

(click here to continue reading HUD emails show push to find workaround for $5,000 legal limit on Ben Carson’s office furnishings – CBS News.)

Small potatoes compared to Emolument Man, and the Dimpled Slumlord Princeling, but corruption and evasion of law is still unacceptable, or should be. Ben Carson is lucky that there are so so so many scandals in the Trump mal-administration that his office furniture snafu is mostly ignored.

Sit Like An Egyptian
Sit Like An Egyptian

And there are actually worse things Carson’s HUD is doing:


Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is changing the mission statement of his agency, removing promises of inclusive and discrimination-free communities.


In a March 5 memo addressed to HUD political staff, Amy Thompson, the department’s assistant secretary for public affairs, explained that the statement is being updated “in an effort to align HUD’s mission with the Secretary’s priorities and that of the Administration.”



(click here to continue reading Ben Carson Removes Anti-Discrimination Language From HUD Mission Statement | HuffPost.)



In an interview released Wednesday, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said that a “certain mindset” contributes to people living in poverty, pointing to habits and a “state of mind” that children take from their parents at a young age.


“I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind. You take somebody that has the right mindset, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they’ll be right back up there,” he said during an interview on SiriusXM Radio with Armstrong Williams, a longtime friend.


“And you take somebody with the wrong mindset, you can give them everything in the world, they’ll work their way right back down to the bottom,” Carson said.

The Trump administration’s 2018 budget blueprint, unveiled Tuesday, would cut more than $6 billion from HUD’s budget. The cuts would end popular grants that facilitate first-time home ownership and revitalize economically distressed communities, including the Community Development Block Grant. The budget would also cut billions of dollars in funding for public housing support, gutting dollars used to fund big-ticket repairs at public housing developments around the country.



(click here to continue reading Ben Carson calls poverty ‘a state of mind’ during interview – The Washington Post.)

Reebie Building  Stand Like an Egyptian
Reebie Building – Stand Like an Egyptian



Ben Carson appeared to liken slaves to immigrants who choose to come to the United States while addressing employees at the Department of Housing and Urban Development Monday.


Carson, who was confirmed to lead the department earlier this month, heralded the work ethic of immigrants before implying slaves who came to the United States worked harder than others. “There were other immigrants who came in the bottom of slave ships, who worked even longer, even harder, for less, but they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land,” said Carson, who is black. “And do you know of all the nations in the world, this one, the United States of America, is the only one big enough and great enough to allow all those people to realize their dream. And this is our opportunity to enhance that dream,” he added.

“Ben Carson is also the guy who once compared Obamacare to slavery,” tweeted Keith Boykin, a CNN political contributor. “I’m starting to think he may not understand the word ‘slavery.'”

This is not the first time Carson has likened something to slavery.

In 2013, Carson said that Obamacare — the Obama administration’s landmark healthcare law — was the worst thing “since slavery.”

“You know Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery,” Carson said at the Values Voter Summit in Washington. “And it is in a way, it is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control.”

Carson also compared abortion to slavery in an interview with NBC during his 2016 presidential run.

“During slavery — and I know that’s one of those words you’re not supposed to say, but I’m saying it — during slavery, a lot of the slave owners thought that they had the right to do whatever they wanted to the slave,” Carson said in October 2015. “What if the abolitionists had said, ‘I don’t believe in slavery, I think it’s wrong, but you guys do whatever you want to do?”



(click here to continue reading Carson: ‘There were other immigrants who came in the bottom of slave ships’ – CNNPolitics.)




Ben Carson does not like the creature comforts, at least not for low-income Americans reliant on the government for a helping hand.


As he toured facilities for the poor in Ohio last week, Mr. Carson, the neurosurgeon-turned-housing secretary, joked that a relatively well-appointed apartment complex for veterans lacked “only pool tables.” He inquired at one stop whether animals were allowed. At yet another, he nodded, plainly happy, as officials explained how they had stacked dozens of bunk beds inside a homeless shelter and purposefully did not provide televisions.


Compassion, Mr. Carson explained in an interview, means not giving people “a comfortable setting that would make somebody want to say: ‘I’ll just stay here. They will take care of me.’”


When Mr. Carson assumed the helm of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, he had no government experience, no political experience beyond a failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination and no burning desire to run a major federal bureaucracy. But his views on poverty alleviation were tough-minded and well-known



(click here to continue reading Don’t Make Housing for the Poor Too Cozy, Carson Warns – The New York Times.)

Another faux Christian, in other words. If the evasion of statutory law to purchase over-the-top office furniture that cost more than many folks annual salary is the thing that brings Carson down, so be it, but there is plenty to choose from.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 15th, 2018 at 9:55 am

Posted in government,politics

Tagged with , ,

The Koch Brothers vs. God

To blaspheme the earth is now the dreadfulest sin
To blaspheme the earth is now the dreadfulest sin

Fascinating story about a new line of anti-environmental attacks from the Kochs, and the ensuing counter-attack from religious people. We only have on Earth, let’s keep it habitable, and not exploit it for money for a few, leaving our planet despoiled.

At another rally focused on fossil fuels a year earlier in Richmond, religion was front and center.

In December 2016, gospel music stars descended on a local community center in Richmond’s East Highland Park neighborhood. Hundreds of residents from throughout the area had answered the call to attend a concert marketed as an opportunity for enlightenment, both spiritual and environmental.

As a sea of hands waved through the air as eyes closed in prayer, what many in the crowd didn’t know was that they were the target of a massive propaganda campaign. One of the event’s sponsors was a fossil-fuel advocacy group called Fueling U.S. Forward, an outfit supported by Koch Industries, the petrochemicals, paper, and wood product conglomerate founded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch.

The gospel program was designed to highlight the benefits of oil and natural gas production and its essential role in the American way of life. During a break in the music, a panel discussion unfolded about skyrocketing utility costs. The lobbyists and businesspeople on the panel presented a greater reliance on fossil fuels — billed as cheap, reliable energy sources — as the fix. Later, a surprise giveaway netted four lucky attendees the opportunity to have their power bills paid for them.

The event was one big bait and switch, according to environmental experts and local activists. Come for the gospel music, then listen to us praise the everlasting goodness of oil and gas. Supporting this sort of pro-oil-and-gas agenda sprinkled over the songs of praise, they say, would only worsen the pollution and coastal flooding that come with climate change, hazards that usually hit Virginia’s black residents the hardest.

“The tactic was tasteless and racist, plain and simple,” says Kendyl Crawford, the Sierra Club of Richmond’s conservation program coordinator. “It’s exploiting the ignorance many communities have about climate change.”

Rev. Wilson likens that gospel concert to the Biblical story of Judas accepting 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus. Like many African Americans in Virginia, he initially didn’t connect environmental policy with what he calls the “institutional racism” — think racial profiling, lack of economic opportunity, etc. — that can plague black communities nationwide. Now he considers “the sea level rising or the air quality in the cities” another existential threat.

So in response to the Koch Brothers’ attempt to sway their flocks, Wilson and others affiliated with black churches in Virginia have channeled their outrage into a new calling: climate advocacy. For Wilson, environmentalism has become a biblical mission.

(click here to continue reading The Koch Brothers vs. God.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 15th, 2018 at 9:15 am

Posted in Business,environment,religion

Tagged with ,

Equifax executive charged with insider trading before data breach made public

Where all hopes sank
Where all hopes sank

Equifax shouldn’t be allowed to exist, there should be some sort of 3 Strikes law for corporations that are rogue entities like Equifax…

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged a former Equifax executive with insider trading, alleging that he profited from confidential information about a data breach at the company that compromised sensitive data of 143 million people to make a profit.

Jun Ying, former chief information officer of a U.S. business unit of Equifax, faces both civil and criminal charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.

”Ying used confidential information to conclude that his company had suffered a massive data breach, and he dumped his stock before the news went public,” Richard R. Best, Director of the SEC’s Atlanta Regional Office, said in a statement.  ”Corporate insiders who learn inside information, including information about material cyber intrusions, cannot betray shareholders for their own financial benefit.”

(click here to continue reading Former Equifax executive charged with insider trading before data breach made public – The Washington Post.)

Everyone is going to have to deal with fallout from the Equifax debacle for years to come, meanwhile, they have not made amends.


Equifax Inc. said more U.S. consumers were affected by its large data breach last year than originally disclosed.


The company on Thursday said that it identified about 2.4 million U.S. consumers whose names and partial driver’s license information were stolen. The company said the consumers affected “were not in the previously identified” population of cyberattack victims.


That brings the total number of U.S. consumers whose personal information was compromised by the breach to 147.9 million, up from 145.5 million previously.

The company also reported fourth-quarter earnings rose 40%, to $172 million, beating expectations due to a benefit from the new U.S. tax law and revenue growth in international markets. The U.S. division of Equifax that works closely with banks and other lenders reported a drop in year-over-year revenue, while overall operating expenses rose 8% as the company deals with security improvements and litigation costs.



(click here to continue reading Equifax Identifies Additional 2.4 Million Affected by 2017 Breach – WSJ.)

Voyeurs and a Handful of Change
Voyeurs and a Handful of Change

Take away their business license, send the executives to jail, or even better, strip them of their citizenship and deport them.


Equifax, one of the three main consumer-credit data companies, is paid to spy on and compile all of your personal financial records. The company holds sensitive data on almost every aspect of our lives, yet hackers were able to get past their weak protection systems. This is because you aren’t a customer of Equifax; you are the company’s product. As a result, Equifax has no incentive to provide you with good services. In the wake of the hack, Equifax offered a credit-monitoring tool, but to use it consumers needed to sign an arbitration agreement that said they wouldn’t sue the company. (Equifax has since dropped this requirement after an outcry.)


These kinds of arbitration agreements replace courts with a private judicial system of company lawyers, and they have since metastasized across the entire economy. The CFPB recently finalized a rule that would outlaw these mandatory agreements by financial companies starting next year. Among other things, the rule would prevent Equifax from forcing people into arbitration after it goes into effect. Yet under an obscure congressional procedure, Republicans have the ability to repeal this rule with only 50 votes in the Senate. Though they might still do it, they’re having a harder time now, since they would be on the hook for any further abuses.


As reported by David Sirota, Equifax was one of the lead companies lobbying against the CFPB rule. But Equifax’s calamitous blunder, more than any white paper, demonstrates the need for strong new regulations to protect our personal data. If the rule survives, we can thank the companies whose own horrible gaffes demonstrated the need for it in the first place.



(click here to continue reading The Financial Industry Is Its Own Best Enemy | The Nation.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 14th, 2018 at 9:31 am

Posted in Business,crime

Tagged with ,

The Koch Brothers’ Favorite Congressman Could Be Secretary of State

Old News To You Then
Old News To You Then. 

Speaking of the potential new Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo…

In the “Republican Wave” election of 2010, when brothers Charles and David Koch emerged as defining figures in American politics, the greatest beneficiary of Koch Industries largess was the newly elected Congressman Mike Pompeo. Since his election, Pompeo has been referred to as the “Koch Brothers’ Congressman” and “the congressman from Koch.

[Pompeo] is a foreign-policy hawk who has fiercely opposed the Iran nuclear deal, stoked fears of Muslims in the United States and abroad, opposed closing the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, and defended the National Security Agency’sunconstitutional surveillance programs as “good and important work.” He has even gone so far as to say that NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden “should be brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence.”

Pompeo’s open disregard for privacy rights in particular and civil liberties in general, as well as his penchant for extreme language and more extreme policies, mark him as a profoundly troublesome pick to serve as the head of a powerful intelligence agency. But he is also one of the most remarkably conflicted political figures in the conflicted city of Washington, thanks to his ties to the privately held and frequently secretive global business empire that has played a pivotal role in advancing his political career.

(click here to continue reading The Koch Brothers’ Favorite Congressman Will Be in Charge of the CIA | The Nation.)

Two powerful constituencies within the Trumponovela, Koch Brothers and the Kremlin are both pleased by Pompeo’s elevation.

In the Sixteenth Minute
In the Sixteenth Minute

You know, these guys:


The Tea Party movement’s dirty little secret is that its chief financial backers owe their family fortune to the granddaddy of all their hatred: Stalin’s godless empire of the USSR. The secretive oil billionaires of the Koch family, the main supporters of the right-wing groups that orchestrated the Tea Party movement, would not have the means to bankroll their favorite causes had it not been for the pile of money the family made working for the Bolsheviks in the late 1920s and early 1930s, building refineries, training Communist engineers and laying down the foundation of Soviet oil infrastructure.


The comrades were good to the Kochs. Today Koch Industries has grown into the second-largest private company in America. With an annual revenue of $100 billion, the company was just $6.3 billion shy of first place in 2008. Ownership is kept strictly in the family, with the company being split roughly between brothers Charles and David Koch, who are worth about $20 billion apiece and are infamous as the largest sponsors of right-wing causes. They bankroll scores of free-market and libertarian think tanks, institutes and advocacy groups. Greenpeace estimates that the Koch family shelled out $25 million from 2005 to 2008 funding the “climate denial machine,” which means they outspent Exxon Mobile three to one.

Here is a better historical fact, one that the Kochs don’t like to repeat in public: the family’s initial wealth was not created by the harsh, creative forces of unfettered capitalism, but by the grace of the centrally planned economy of the Soviet Union. The Koch family, America’s biggest pushers of the free-market Tea Party revolution, would not be the billionaires they are today were it not for the whim of one of Stalin’s comrades.



(click here to continue reading The Roots of Stalin in the Tea Party Movement | Alternet.)

Written by Seth Anderson

March 13th, 2018 at 9:38 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Rex Tillerson Out as Trump’s Secretary of State, Criticized Russia Yesterday


Another chapter in the continuing saga.

Yesterday, Rex Tillerson said this about the UK poisoning:

SANTA MARIA, Cape Verde — Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson on Monday called the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain “an egregious act” and added, “It appears that it clearly came from Russia.”

The statement, made in an interview with reporters at the end of a five-nation tour of Africa, was the clearest statement yet from the Trump administration, after several days of equivocation in which American officials declined to explicitly blame Russia for the March 4 attack.

“I’ve become extremely concerned about Russia,” Mr. Tillerson said in the interview. “We spent most of last year investing a lot into attempts to work together, to solve problems, to address differences. And quite frankly, after a year, we didn’t get very far. Instead what we’ve seen is a pivot on their part to be more aggressive.”

He added: “And this is very, very concerning to me and others, that there seems to be a certain unleashing of activity that we don’t fully understand what the objective behind that is. And if in fact this attack in the U.K. is the work of the Russian government, this is a pretty serious action.”

(click here to continue reading Poisoning of Russian Ex-Spy Is ‘Almost Beyond Comprehension,’ Tillerson Says – The New York Times.)

and today, Rex is gone. Can’t besmirch the mother country1 and work for Trump, Exxon Mobil oil rights in the Arctic notwithstanding…


President Trump announced on Tuesday that he had ousted Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and will replace him with Mike Pompeo, now the C.I.A. director, ending the 14-month tenure of the nation’s chief diplomat who repeatedly had found himself at odds with the White House on a variety of key foreign policy issues.


“We were not really thinking the same,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House, explaining his decision to replace Mr. Tillerson.


He added: “Really, it was a different mind-set, a different thinking.”


Mr. Tillerson found out he had been fired before dawn, shortly after his flight returned from a weeklong trip to Africa, said Steve Goldstein, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy. There was no indication during the five-nation visit that Mr. Tillerson’s departure was imminent; Mr. Goldstein said on Tuesday morning that the secretary had been expected to remain in office for the foreseeable future.


The president did not personally call Mr. Tillerson, and Mr. Goldstein said he did not know how the chief diplomat learned he had been fired.


Mr. Trump announced his decision on Twitter.



(click here to continue reading Rex Tillerson Out as Trump’s Secretary of State, Replaced by Mike Pompeo – The New York Times.)

If this were a telenovela, it would be a little too obvious of a plot twist, but since it is the Trumponovella, the swirl continues unabated.

And as Steven K Johnson noted on Twitter, this also implies that the Kremlin is A-OK with Mike Pompeo being the new Secretary of State. Hmmm.

Discarded Cautions
Discarded Cautions

  1. Russia []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 13th, 2018 at 9:04 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,