Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for July, 2013


Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 31, 2013

He argues that XKEYSCORE is not a collection tool but a fancy way of searching through data that was already collected:

XKEYSCORE is not a thing that DOES collecting; it’s a series of user interfaces, backend databases, servers and software that selects certain types of metadata that the NSA has ALREADY collected using other methods. XKEYSCORE, as D.B. Grady and I reported in our book, is the worldwide base level database for such metadata. XKEYSCORE is useful because it gets the “front end full take feeds” from the various NSA collection points around the world and importantly, knows what to do with it to make it responsive to search queries. As the presentation says, the stuff itself is collected by some entity called F6 and something else called FORNSAT and then something with the acronym SSO.

Deciphered, F6 means a Special Collection Service site located in a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas. The stuff is shunted by these sites to the SCS’s headquarters in Beltsville, Maryland, because the F6 sites are located in countries where it would be impossible to use regular telephonic or fiber optic cables to send it back to HQ. I should probably refrain from being more specific. FORNSAT simply means “foreign satellite collection,” which refers to NSA tapping into satellites that process data used by other countries. And SSO — Special Source Operations — refers to the branch of NSA’s Signals Intelligence Division that taps cables, finds microwave paths, and otherwise collects data not generated by F6 or foreign satellites. Basically, everything else. The presentation suggests that the NSA collects internet traffic from 150 sites — specific facilities — worldwide.

What Ambinder doesn’t say is that increasing the effectiveness of data collection by sifting out the unwanted stuff may well be more important than collecting it. If you can’t rummage through data efficiently, collecting huge mounds of data is worse than useless.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

You knew it had to happen: Snowden the video game

Posted by Charles II on July 30, 2013

Help Edward Snowden Escape The NSA in Snowden Run 3D (Steve Bogos, The Escapist)

Posted in Just for fun | Comments Off on You knew it had to happen: Snowden the video game

Wonder Why Fast Food Workers Went On Strike? Look Behind The Kitchen Door

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 30, 2013

You may have heard about the fast food workers’ strike that started yesterday in several big cities in the U.S.

Here is the website of the group behind the strike, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, or ROC United for short:

Here is a snippet from that site, to go with the video above:

“Our food comes at great expense to the workers who provide it. ‘The biggest workforce in America can’t put food on the table except when they go to work,’ says Saru Jayaraman, Co- Founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. Many people in the nascent food movement and in the broader ‘foodie’ set know our farmers’ (and their kids’) names and what their animals eat. We practically worship chefs, and the damage done to land, air, and water by high-tech ag is—correctly—a constant concern. Yet though you can’t be a card-carrying foodie if you don’t know the provenance of your heirloom tomato, you apparently can be one if you don’t know how the members of your wait staff are treated.”
Mark Bittman (NYTimes Columnist, American food journalist and author)

ROC United co-founder Saru Jayaraman has written a book called Behind the Kitchen Door that describes the lives and conditions of the workers who take care of us when we go out to eat. It’s worth picking up.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

All about the Benjamins: Indiana/Florida school chief cooked test scores for donor’s school

Posted by Charles II on July 29, 2013

Via Atrios. It’s Tom Lo Bianco, AP, so link only.

Christel DeHaan is a major GOP donor, giving $2.8M to GOPers, including $130K to Tony Bennett.
Tony Bennett was the head of Indiana schools, and is now head of Florida schools.
Christel DeHaan had a private academy, Christel House Academy in Indianapolis.
Test scores gave it a C because of bad algebra scores.
After a flurry of e-mails about how bad this would be for Christel House, the scoring system was changed.
Christel House got an A.

The one good thing is that Bennett is in Florida because he was defeated for office by teachers angered at his methods, who supported Glenda Ritz.

Maybe Bennett and Michael Berkland can get together for an alternate reality show.

Posted in corruption, Republicans acting badly, The Plunderbund | 3 Comments »

Stand For Food

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 29, 2013

From the notes attached to this video by Stand For Food:

The Sustainable Food Production (SFP) Program at the Fergus Falls campus of Minnesota State Community & Technical College was launched in fall of 2010 by Dr. Sue Wika, in partnership with Dr. Tom Prieve and other program instructors. During the summer of 2012 the college withdrew support for an SFP construction project to build a sustainable greenhouse on the campus grounds. College administration told program director Wika that despite previous support for the project, the administration was no longer prioritizing sustainability in the college mission, and the project would be shut down. In October of 2012 program director Wika received a telephone call from Senior Dean of Academic Affairs, Dr. Gary Henrickson, informing her that the program was being placed on suspension. She received no other warning in advance and no one from the SFP Program was included in the decision making process. According to Dr. Wika, this does not reflect typical college procedure for program suspensions.

In the negotiations and communications that followed, through the end of 2012 and the first half of 2013, the administration changed their position several times. Dr. Wika was told on various occasions that financial strains, low enrollment, and lack of high-profile partnerships were holding back the college’s support for the program. At one point during meetings administration admitted the program was, in fact, fairly low cost. In the last year Dr. Wika has presented the administration with funding proposals and partnerships, including a partnership offered by the University of Minnesota, but reinstatement of the program has been continually refused. At one point earlier this year members of administration expressed that they were unconvinced of the the legitimacy of the program, and that if the program could be made more “normal,” it may be possible to resume negotiations. The program’s enrollment rates are low in comparison to other M-State programs: it had 11 students enrolled the first two years, and six in the past academic year. Dr. Wika says that the program has been offered limited opportunity to advertise, and that the word of the program was traveling slowly, “by the whisper campaign.” During negotiations with M State she informed administration that at the time of the suspension she was receiving more contact from prospective students than she ever had in the past.

Community members including local farmers and previous students have expressed deep disappointment at the suspension of the SFP program. A petition was organized late last year in an attempt to stimulate the reinstatement of the program, and a number of community members wrote letters to M State administrators in support of Dr. Wika and her colleagues.

This video was filmed at the end of March 2013. M State administrators have been contacted for comment. Though they have responded and expressed a willingness to communicate, the producer has yet been unable to secure telephone contact for an interview. This video and description will be updated in the case that comment is received or new footage is taken.

See the links below for more information on the SFP Program and story:

M State: Read the rest of this entry »

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Richard Wolff On Detroit, Cars, And Capitalism’s Inherent Flaws

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 27, 2013

This is a good point:

If the autoworkers had transformed the auto companies into worker co-operatives, Detroit would have evolved very differently. Worker co-operatives would not have moved production, thereby undermining their jobs, families and communities, including especially Detroit. Workers would not have destroyed themselves and their communities that way. Moving production, a distinctly capitalist strategy, was key to Detroit’s population dropping from 1.8m in 1950 to 700,000 today.

Workers co-operatives would also have searched and likely found alternatives to moving that might have saved Detroit. Workers co-operatives, for example, would likely have paid less in dividends to owners and salaries to managers than was typical at Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. Those savings, if passed on in lower automobile prices, would have enabled better completion with European and Japanese car makers than Detroit’s Big Three managed.

We cannot know how much more Detroit’s auto industry might have benefited from technical progress had it been organized as a workers’ co-operative. We can guess that workers have greater incentives to improve technology in co-operatives they own and operate than as employees in capitalist enterprises. Finally, worker co-operatives would likely have switched to producing (and helped to promote) mass-transit vehicles or other alternatives to the automobile to retain jobs and well-being once they saw that continued automobile production could not secure those priorities for worker co-operatives.

Economic democracy: Worth trying.

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Swedish Supreme Court Justice Calls Assange Case “a Mess”

Posted by Charles II on July 26, 2013

This is from April, but I don’t think many people are aware of it except at the most superficial level. To be clear, Swedish Supreme Court Justice Stefan Lindskog is not saying Assange is innocent or shouldn’t be prosecuted, only that the handling of the case has been horrific. And he makes it clear that he’s working not from established facts but from what he found out on the Internet. Further, he’s not speaking for his colleagues, so it’s not an official position.

Some highlights
* Justice believes there are not any formal US charges against Assange.
* He presents the case from the point of view of the Swedish police report obtained from–if I understand him correctly– leaked Polish [intelligence?] documents (!9:00ff)
* The leaking of the police report was a crime.
* The leaking was not prosecuted because of the privilege granted to sources of the press.
* Assange was defamed in the press.
* Hypothetically, if the women have told the truth, the case is entirely based on the use of condoms. How legally binding was that conditionality?
* Would a lie about a condom be charged as a sexual crime? If one lies about having HIV, no. It’s charged as assault.
* Two courts have held that there’s probable cause for sexual molestation (I believe this is also called “minor rape“).
* Swedish law forbids extradition for political offenses or if there is a reasonable fear that someone could be punished for political offenses as a consequences.
* The UK court did not try the merits of the case against Assange.
* Extradition to US: extradition is only possible if Swedish courts would charge the offense.
* It is debatable whether Swedish law would regard Assange’s leaks as treason or espionage
* Source privilege is protective only for business secrets, not military secrets.
* Still, Sweden’s enemies may not be America’s.
* Justice must not only be done, it must also be seen to be done.

While Lindskog is not speaking officially, for him to speak suggests the case is disintegrating. This is corroborated by the fact that prosecutor Marianne Ny has been displaced by another “investigator.” Also Anna Ardin fired her lawyer.

I don’t see any other way to understand Lindskog’s speech but as a statement that the prosecution of Assange is essentially baseless.

For the record, here are the finding of the UK Supreme Court on the agreed-to findings.

Also–again old news– the torn condom submitted for testing did not contain Assange’s DNA. Craig Murray gives his take on the matter.

Posted in abuse of power, crimes, media, NSA eavesdropping | 2 Comments »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on July 26, 2013

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 3 Comments »

Dinkytown Saved, For Now — And Perhaps For Ever

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 25, 2013

There was a public hearing on the fate of Dinkytown today:

Dinkytown is one of Minneapolis’s oldest commercial districts (130 years old!). Currently Dinkytown is zoned C1 for small-scale neighborhood commercial uses. This is to protect and promote the independent businesses and the unique character of the community. However, real estate speculators, the Rauenhorst Trust’s Opus Development Company, want to build a large six story student housing unit that current C1 zoning does not allow. To do this, Opus has requested a zoning change to C3A to accommodate higher-density, mixed-use commercial and housing for a roughly half-block area of Dinkytown. The Minneapolis City’ Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee meeting on Thursday, July 25th – 9:30 a.m. is the last opportunity for public hearing on the proposed rezoning.

Rezoning for the OPUS project, will give a “green light” to other developers who are already bidding on Dinkytown properties. Opus is a merchant developer whose main agenda is maximizing profit, not investing in Dinkytown. According to a company associate, the property is likely to be sold even before it is finished — flipped to out-of-state investors, distant landlords who don’t have a stake in Dinkytown. Dinkytown is still 69% small business. This is something city officials should be proud of and protect, not jeopardize. Opus’s plans will demolish several Dinkytown landmark businesses. This project will disrupt an intensely local economy and funnel our money to Eastern hedge fund investors.

Finally, this is not a “done deal” despite what official parties have said. Opus Group has been working behind the scenes for months to get the buy-in of key staff prior to the affected public being aware of the project. Opus’s lead attorney is a former employee of the city. The Opus Group would like to ride through the city’s decision making process using its privileged connections and the false assumption that this project is inevitable. However, our elected officials still have to take several key votes on the issue. Help us to hold them accountable and demand they stand with the small businesses and supporters of Dinkytown, not corporate special interests!

TAKE ACTION! Demand that our elected representatives vote for the public interest and not corporate special interests. Nearly 3,000 of you have signed the Save Dinkytown petition opposing rezoning Dinkytown to accommodate the OPUS project. ACT NOW:

Enough folks must have taken actions, because the Minneapolis City Council shocked me and did the right thing:

In an unusual move, the committee voted 3-2 against staff recommendations to move forward with the necessary rezoning. The full Council will vote on the project next week, but they rarely overturn committee decisions.

Voting in favor of the project were council members Gary Schiff, the chair of the committee, and Kevin Reich. Opponents were council members Lisa Goodman, Cam Gordon and Meg Tuthill.

Council Member Diane Hofstede does not sit on the committee, but spoke against the rezoning.

Goodman expressed concern that the rents would be too high for small businesses to move into the new site. Gordon said while he was “impressed” with the development, questions remain about the future implications for the neighborhood.

“I think people are looking at that four-block area and they’re saying well if it’s all going to get upzoned like this, and it’s all going to get redeveloped like that, we’re going to lose everything,” Gordon said.

They’d already lost the Book House, the Podium, and the old Marshall high school building which had been serving as the UTEC Center small business and artist incubator, an entity far more valuable than any out-of-state-hedge-fund-owned luxury high-rise would be to the community and the local economy. But for now at least, the rest of Dinkytown won’t be bulldozed and turned into Edina East.

I don’t think Opus will take this lying down. We will have to redouble our efforts, because they will be lobbying the members of the full council 24/7 to get them to overturn the committee’s decision.

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Snowden granted (provisional) asylum

Posted by Charles II on July 24, 2013

From RT. It’s provisional, meaning that it’s not official–he just has permission to leave the airport. But it’s hard to believe they’d let him into the country and then ship him off to the US.

In any case, we probably won’t be getting any NSA stories for a while, but he’s now in Russia proper. He gets three months reprieve, may get permanent resident status, and is reportedly planning to apply for a job.

Wonder if the Russians could use someone with great computer skills and an extensive knowledge of the NSA.

Update: Well, it’s unclear what the Russians are doing. Supposedly they handed him a copy of Crime and Punishment. If it was in English, I guess he’s got a week in the airport. If it’s in Russian…

So maybe what he’s got on those laptops is Rosetta Stone?

Posted in NSA eavesdropping | 5 Comments »

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