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Archive for October 3rd, 2011

Droit du seigneur, Koch-style

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 3rd, 2011 4:45 am by HL

Droit du seigneur, Koch-style
For most people — well, non-Republicans for certain — funding a right-wing group with your billions and calling it “grass roots” would be a bit rich, and not just as a pun. But not for the Koch Brothers.

pic via losinghand at flickr.com

For most people — well, non-Republicans for certain — funding a right-wing group with your billions and calling it “grass roots” would be a bit rich, and not just as a pun. But not for the Koch Brothers.

And hell, while we’re at it, for most people secretly and illegally dealing with the government of Iran is only for the Reagan Administration pre-whitewashing. But apparently, it is all good not matter how illegal for others, if you’re the Koch Brothers.

Good thing their name isn’t George Soros, or they’d be in real trouble.

Late, Late Night FDL: Beg, Steal or Borrow
Pete Doherty – Beg, Steal or Borrow

Pete Doherty – Beg, Steal or Borrow (lyrics)

What’s on your mind tonite…?


Anonymous Launches Investigative Research Branch

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 3rd, 2011 4:44 am by HL

Anonymous Launches Investigative Research Branch
The hacker collective Anonymous launched a division devoted to investigative reporting last month, marking a departure from the group’s traditional practice of exposing corporations through hacking attacks. Anonymous Analytics will bring together “analysts, forensic accountants, statisticians, computer experts and lawyers from various jurisdictions and backgrounds” to reveal corporate corruption through detailed reports, the group said on its website. All research will be fact checked and vetted for authenticity before release, it said, and sources can provide tips via an encrypted drop box. The group published one report already: a lengthy and seemingly well-researched review of Chinese agricultural firm Chaoda Modern Agriculture. With its ostensibly secure, low-profile operation, Anonymous Analytics may be able to attract serious experts, researchers and sources who prefer not to deal with traditional investigative firms. —ARK Security Watchdog: Anonymous Analytics, a faction of Anonymous, has moved the issue of transparency from the political level to the corporate level,” said a statement on the site. “To this end, we use our unique skill sets to expose companies that practise poor corporate governance and are involved in large-scale fraudulent activities.” … If the group keeps up the same level of scrutiny and commitment, it may well have greater success bringing corrupt organisations to account than by more controversial methods such as DDoS and hacking attacks. Read more

The hacker collective Anonymous launched a division devoted to investigative reporting last month, marking a departure from the group’s traditional practice of exposing corporations through hacking attacks.

Anonymous Analytics will bring together “analysts, forensic accountants, statisticians, computer experts and lawyers from various jurisdictions and backgrounds” to reveal corporate corruption through detailed reports, the group said on its website.

All research will be fact checked and vetted for authenticity before release, it said, and sources can provide tips via an encrypted drop box. The group published one report already: a lengthy and seemingly well-researched review of Chinese agricultural firm Chaoda Modern Agriculture.

With its ostensibly secure, low-profile operation, Anonymous Analytics may be able to attract serious experts, researchers and sources who prefer not to deal with traditional investigative firms. —ARK

Security Watchdog:

Anonymous Analytics, a faction of Anonymous, has moved the issue of transparency from the political level to the corporate level,” said a statement on the site.

“To this end, we use our unique skill sets to expose companies that practise poor corporate governance and are involved in large-scale fraudulent activities.”

… If the group keeps up the same level of scrutiny and commitment, it may well have greater success bringing corrupt organisations to account than by more controversial methods such as DDoS and hacking attacks.

Read more

Related Entries



Governor Signs Bill To Halt Circumcision Bans

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 3rd, 2011 4:43 am by HL

Governor Signs Bill To Halt Circumcision Bans
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Associated Press) â?? California’s governor has signed a bill that that will prevent local governments from banning male circumcision. Gov. Jerry Brown’s office…

Nick Espinosa: The Glitter Bomber Speaks: A New Generation Feels the Rainbow
It’s surprising to see how many people have made the assumption that as a person who is fighting for LGBT equality, I must be gay. I am simply of a generation that will not tolerate bigotry and hatred toward any group of people.

Jeffrey Sachs: Paul Ryan, American Values, and Corporatocracy
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Poll Shows Elizabeth Warren, Scott Brown In Dead Heat
Democrat Elizabeth Warrenâ??s meteoric ascent in Massachusetts politics has landed her in a virtual dead heat with Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, while two Democrats…


Fox Attacks Obama For Food Stamp Awards That Date To The Bush Administration

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 3rd, 2011 4:42 am by HL

Fox Attacks Obama For Food Stamp Awards That Date To The Bush Administration

Fox is criticizing the Department of Agriculture’s $5 million award to the state of Oregon for its high-performing food stamp program by attacking President Obama for “boosting food stamp rolls.” However, the USDA has been awarding states for high performance in their food stamp programs since at least 2003.

Fox Criticizes Obama For Oregon’s Award For Efficient Food Stamp Program

Fox Nation: “Obama Gives Oregon $5M ‘Bonus’ For Boosting Food Stamp Rolls.” The Fox Nation website displayed the following headline:

[Fox Nation, 9/29/11]

Dobbs: “The Obama Administration Apparently Rewarding States Now For Recruiting Food Stamp Recipients.” On his Fox Business show, Lou Dobbs said:

The Obama administration apparently rewarding states now for recruiting food stamp recipients. According to Judicial Watch, the state of Oregon recently received a $5 million bonus, boosting our nation’s already bulging food stamp rolls and getting money for doing so. Roughly 15 percent of Americans now rely on food stamps. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 9/30/11]

But The Awards Date Back To The Bush Administration

Oregon Won Performance Bonuses For “Ensuring That People Eligible For Food Benefits Receive Them” And For “Swift Processing Of Applications.” From a September 28 press release by the Oregon Department of Human Services:

Oregon’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has again ranked among the best in the nation, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced this week. The state earned one award for ensuring that people eligible for food benefits receive them and a second recognition for its swift processing of applications. The two awards combined bring a $5 million performance bonus to Oregon. 

This is the fifth consecutive year Oregon has been recognized for exceptional administration of the SNAP program, formerly the food stamp program. This is the first time Oregon earned a timeliness bonus. SNAP is administered by the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS). [Oregon Department of Human Services, 9/28/11]

Food Stamp Awards Won By Oregon Have Been Given To States At Least As Early As 2003. The Department of Agriculture’s program improvement page for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, the official, current term for the food stamp program) shows that payment accuracy bonuses to states started in fiscal year 2003, and application processing timeliness and program access index bonuses started in fiscal year 2006. [U.S. Department of Agriculture, accessed 10/2/11]

USDA: State Food Stamp Awards Authorized By 2002 Farm Bill. From the Department of Agriculture’s press release announcing the states receiving an award for their food stamp programs during fiscal year 2006:

Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner today announced that a total of $18 million will be awarded to States that provided exceptional administration of the Food Stamp Program in FY 2006.

“As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Food Stamp Act, we recognize the meaningful work and significant efforts of our state and community partners to improve the nutritional health and wellbeing of children, the elderly and their families,” said Conner. “I commend these States for their outstanding efforts to alleviate hunger for our most vulnerable citizens.”

As authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill, USDA awards $12 million in high performance bonuses among the eight States that have excelled in the area of program access. These States have the best, or most improved, program access index. The index is the percentage of households below 125 percent of poverty that are participating in the program. The following States will receive awards for best program access index: Maine, Missouri, Tennessee, and Oregon. The following States will receive awards for most improved program access index: Massachusetts, Mississippi, Vermont, and Maryland. [U.S. Department of Agriculture, 9/20/07]

2002 Farm Bill Required USDA To Give Bonuses To States With High Levels Of Food Stamp Program Performance. From USDA’s explanation of Section 4120 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002:

For FY 2003, the current enhanced funding system that is based on error rates is replaced with a performance system that will award $48 million in bonuses each year to States with high or improved performance for actions taken to correct errors, reduce the rates of error, improve eligibility determinations, or other activities that demonstrate effective administration as determined by USDA. USDA will establish guidance for awarding FY 2003 and FY 2004 bonuses by October 1, 2002 and issue regulations regarding the criteria for bonus awards for FY 2005 and succeeding years.  The Secretary will solicit ideas from State agencies and organizations that represent State interests prior to issuing proposed regulations. [U.S. Department of Agriculture, accessed 10/2/11]

Bush-Era Department Of Agriculture Set Out Regulations Stating That Bonuses Would Be Based In Part On “The Highest … Participant Access Rates.” From the Department of Agriculture’s final rule on “Food Stamp Program: High Performance Bonuses”:

In the NPRM [Notice of Proposed Rule Making], section 275.24(a)(1) proposed that FNS [Food and Nutrition Services] would award bonuses totaling $48 million for each fiscal year to State agencies that show high or most improved performance. Section 275.24(b) proposed to make awards to 30 States in 7 categories: the lowest and most improved combined payment error rates ($24 million); the lowest and most improved negative error rates ($6 million); the highest and most improved participant access rates (PAR) ($12 million)

[…]

[Final Rule]

(3) Program access index (PAI). FNS will divide $12 million among the 8 States with the highest and the most improved level of participation as specified in paragraphs (b)(3)(i) through (b)(3)(iii) of this section. The PAI is the ratio of participants to persons with incomes below 125 percent of poverty, as calculated in accordance with paragraph (b)(3)(iii) of this section (the PAI was formerly known as the participant access rate (PAR)).

(i) High program access index. FNS will provide bonuses to the 4 States with the highest PAI as determined in accordance with paragraph (b)(3)(iii) of this section. [Federal Register, 2/7/05]

And Food Stamp Use Increased Temporarily Because Of The Recession

CBPP: Food Stamps Growth Is “Temporary” And “Due To The Recession.” According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “SNAP’s recent growth is temporary and reflects the battered economic circumstances of tens of millions of Americans due to the recession.” CBPP further illustrated that spending for SNAP “rose considerably when the recession hit.” CBPP added:

That’s precisely what SNAP was designed to do: respond quickly to help more low-income families during economic downturns as poverty rises, unemployment mounts, and more people need assistance. Enrollment then falls as the economy recovers and need abates, which CBO predicts will occur in the coming years. By 2021, SNAP spending will fall nearly to pre-recession levels as a share of the economy, CBO predicts. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, accessed 10/2/11]

Krugman: Spending On Food Stamps Surged “Because The Economy Is Depressed.” On his New York Times blog, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman explained the increase in “income security” spending, including food stamps, writing:

“Income security” is unemployment insurance, food stamps, SSI, refundable tax credits — in short, the social safety net. Medicaid is a means-tested program that also serves as part of the safety net. Yes, spending in these areas has surged — because the economy is depressed, and lots of people are unemployed.

What we’re seeing isn’t some drastic expansion of Big Government; we’re seeing the government we already had, responding to a terrible economic slump. [The New York Times, 4/25/11]


Undercover Sting Nabs Boeing Military Aircraft Factory Workers Buying, Selling Fake Drugs

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 3rd, 2011 4:41 am by HL

Undercover Sting Nabs Boeing Military Aircraft Factory Workers Buying, Selling Fake Drugs
Boeing thought a lot of employees who work on military aircraft at their factory in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania were on drugs. So they brought in the feds.


Presented By:

Judges Say Texas Can’t Move Forward With Redistricting Plans The Feds Say Are Discriminatory
A panel of three federal judges ordered Texas not to move forward with redistricting plans for both congressional and state legislative seats until they are approved in court.


Is This Tomorrow Under the Teabaggers?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 3rd, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Is This Tomorrow Under the Teabaggers?


New Voting Restrictions May Affect 5 Million Voters

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 3rd, 2011 4:38 am by HL

New Voting Restrictions May Affect 5 Million Voters
A Brennan Center study finds 19 recently passed voting laws in 14 states could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012, leading to “significant electoral impact in next year’s hard-fought races.”

“The states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012 — 63% of the 270 needed to win the presidency.”

Minorities, poor and young voters will likely be most affected.

How One Man Took Control of North Carolina
The New Yorker looks at the effects the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling striking down limits on corporate spending in campaigns has had on North Carolina, and finds that conservative businessman Art Pope has achieved enormous influence in the state.

Pope helped flip the state’s legislature from Democratic to Republican, and he is poised to exert huge influence in the 2012 Presidential election — in a state that most experts say President Obama must carry in order to be re-elected.

“For years, Pope, like several other farsighted conservative corporate activists, has been spending millions in an attempt to change the direction of American politics.” Now, with the Citizens United ruling, in swing states like North Carolina “an individual donor, particularly one with access to corporate funds, can play a significant, and sometimes decisive, role.”


2010: Second Biggest Year for Marijuana Arrests in History, Despite Rising Rates of Marijuana Acceptance

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 3rd, 2011 4:37 am by HL

2010: Second Biggest Year for Marijuana Arrests in History, Despite Rising Rates of Marijuana Acceptance
In a disturbing reality, the actions of the law enforcement community do not match public opinion and rational thought.

Private Roads, Rising Tolls, E-Z Pass and FasTrak — It’s a Waste of Money for an Asphalt Society We Need to Abandon ASAP
Increases in fuel taxes, increases in toll fees. Private-public boondoggles building unprofitable highways — let’s ditch the fossil-fuel economy.

The Rise of Killer Drones That Can Think for Themselves
The U.S. military may be a decade or so away from deploying an army of pilotless drones capable of collaborating and killing without any human guidance.

Are We About to Lose the Postal Service?
Obama has agreed to cut Saturday delivery, 2500 offices may close immediately and up to 16,000 by 2020, and Republicans want to end free door-to-door mail.


Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 3rd, 2011 4:36 am by HL

Presented By:

George Soros on Our Failing Public Sphere
As we try to make sense of the Republican presidential candidates’ debate, and of Barack Obama’s long belated, once-bumped, high-stakes speech on jobs – it might help to read “George Soros’ frightening assessment of the American public sphere. Too few…


Herman Cain Defends His Sharia Conspiracy: ?Call Me Crazy?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 3rd, 2011 4:35 am by HL

Herman Cain Defends His Sharia Conspiracy: ?Call Me Crazy?
On ABC’s This Week, host Christiane Amanpour confronted Herman Cain about a comment he made to ThinkProgress. “There’s this creeping attempt…to gradually ease Sharia Law and the Muslim faith into our government,” Cain told us in March. After showing Cain his quote, Amanpour asked him to respond to Chris Christie, who has said, “This Sharia […]

On ABC’s This Week, host Christiane Amanpour confronted Herman Cain about a comment he made to ThinkProgress. “There’s this creeping attempt…to gradually ease Sharia Law and the Muslim faith into our government,” Cain told us in March.

After showing Cain his quote, Amanpour asked him to respond to Chris Christie, who has said, “This Sharia law business is crap, it’s just crazy, and I’m tired of dealing with the crazies.” Cain responded:

CAIN: Call me crazy. … Some people would infuse Sharia Law in our courts system if we allow it. I honestly believe that. So even if he calls me crazy, I am going to make sure that they don’t infuse it little by little by little. … American laws in American courts, period.

AMANPOUR: American laws are in American courts. So the people of this country should be safe for the moment.

Watch it:

In July, Cain met with a small group of Muslims and said he was “truly sorry for any comments that may have betrayed my commitment to the U.S. Constitution and the freedom of religion guaranteed by it.” It’s therefore disappointing that Cain is still clinging to his anti-Sharia rhetoric.

The “creeping Sharia” threat, as CAP explained in our report “Fear, Inc.,” is the product of a hate campaign organized by a small number of Islamophobic actors who are trying to cast suspicion on the presence of all Muslims in America. In fact, Cain’s language of “American laws in American courts” is lifted directly from a right-wing lawyer named David Yerushalmi, who has been leading an effort to pass anti-Sharia measures in roughly two dozen states.

As the ACLU has explained in a thorough legal analysis, the “creeping Sharia” rhetoric is a mythical menace and a fabricated threat:

There is no evidence that Islamic law is encroaching on our courts. On the contrary, the court cases cited by anti-Muslim groups as purportedly illustrative of this problem actually show the opposite: Courts treat lawsuits that are brought by Muslims or that address the Islamic faith in the same way that they deal with similar claims brought by people of other faiths or that involve no religion at all. These cases also show that sufficient protections already exist in our legal system to ensure that courts do not become impermissibly entangled with religion or improperly consider, defer to, or apply religious law where it would violate basic principles of U.S. or state public policy.

A Center for American Progress report on Sharia explained, “It’s important to understand that adopting” the creeping Sharia rhetoric “would direct limited resources away from actual threats to the United States and bolster an anti-Muslim narrative that Islamist extremist groups find useful in recruiting.”

Recall, in 2010, Oklahoma passed a “Save our State” ballot initiative that banned Sharia in its state courts. That amendment was halted from taking effect by a federal district court. District Court Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange argued: “It would be incomprehensible if…Oklahoma could condemn the religion of its Muslim citizens, yet one of those citizens could not defend himself in court against his government’s preferment of other religious views.” The 10th Circuit court is now hearing the case.