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Archive for August 5th, 2014

Snowden Leaks Led Al Qaeda to Better Encryption

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Snowden Leaks Led Al Qaeda to Better Encryption
Security researchers announced Friday that they have found new evidence to bolster claims from the National Security Agency that terrorists have altered their countermeasures in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations. A report from the intelligence firm Recorded Future concludes that “it’s pretty clear” that there is an “increased pace of innovation in encryption technology by Al-Qaeda post Snowden.” The encryption, the report added, “is based on best practice, off the shelf, algorithms.”


Can Africa keep its economic winning streak alive?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Can Africa keep its economic winning streak alive?
WASHINGTON (AP) — They export BMWs and birdseed and plenty in between. Their middle class is growing fast enough to draw the likes of Marriott and Wal-Mart. China, Europe, Japan and the United States are vying to build roads and power plants there.

Wildlife refuges phasing out GMO crops, pesticides
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — National wildlife refuges around the country are phasing out genetically modified crops and a class of pesticides related to nicotine in programs meant to provide food for wildlife.

VA deputy chief: More employees face punishment
DENVER (AP) — U.S. Veterans Administration Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson says more employees will be disciplined as the department sorts out a scandal over long waits for health care and falsified data.


Amid probe, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aide to meet with U.S. prosecutors

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Amid probe, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aide to meet with U.S. prosecutors
Cuomo’s secretary, Larry Schwartz, is accused of meddling with a commission the governor created to root out corruption


NRA “Lifestyle Magazine” Is Using Apple And Nike To Sell Its Corporate Sponsors’ Guns

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

NRA “Lifestyle Magazine” Is Using Apple And Nike To Sell Its Corporate Sponsors’ Guns

The National Rifle Association’s lifestyle magazine, NRA Sharp, is using Apple and other popular brands to promote firearms that are manufactured by NRA corporate donors.

NRA Sharp showcases high-end products (guns and otherwise), opulent lifestyles, and pop culture musings, all with a pro-gun bent. As Daily Beast columnist Cliff Schecter noted, “It’s the lifestyle of the armed and delusional. At NRASharp.com, there’s $250 Gucci suspenders, dandelion recipes, and readers’ fantasies of shooting with E.T. ‘and his badass guns.'”

An August 4 post on NRA Sharp matches firearms, including an assault weapon, to their “‘mainstream’ cultural equals,” namely BMW, Nike, luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe, and Apple. As the post explains, “We believe these pairings boost both brands to their full potential.”

NRA Sharp matches Blaser, a manufacturer of high-end hunting rifles, with German car company BMW, describing both products as “German-made monsters of design” that can be used “to experience the elemental thrill of shooting/driving.” According to a report from gun violence prevention group Violence Policy Center, Blaser’s U.S. subsidiary has donated between $250,000 and $499,000 to the NRA.


Nixon’s Ghost, 40 Years On

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Nixon’s Ghost, 40 Years On
Ruth Marcus, RealClearPolitics
WASHINGTON — Forty years after he slunk out of office, Richard M. Nixon retains the capacity to astonish and disgust. Just when you thought you could no longer be shocked by Nixon’s willingness to abuse power, his seething resentments and paranoia, and his florid anti-Semitism, another round of tapes emerges. To listen to them — I highly recommend HBO’s new “Nixon by Nixon: In His Own Words” — is to be reminded, again, of the 37th president’s unrelenting self-absorption. The question is always about what is best for Nixon, never what is best for the country; his willingness to hijack the…

Patrolmen Without Borders
John Stossel, RealClearPolitics
If I drive across a U.S. border, I expect to stop at a Border Patrol checkpoint. But imagine driving to the grocery store, or Mom’s house, well inside America, and being stopped by the Border Patrol. Many Americans don’t have to imagine it — it’s how they live. Even as the federal government fails to control the southern border, it sends the Border Patrol farther into the interior, where Americans complain that agents harass people who are already U.S. citizens. It’s legal. The Supreme Court ruled that the Border Patrol can set up “inland” checkpoints anywhere up to 100 miles from an…


VIDEO: IDS on reshuffle ‘secrets’ overheard on train

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

VIDEO: IDS on reshuffle ‘secrets’ overheard on train
Iain Duncan Smith talks to Becky Milligan from Radio 4’s PM programme about the reshuffle “secrets” about him which were overheard on a train.

Peers fight for space in crowded House
Why the Lords is becoming a very crowded House


Catalan Vote Seen as Test for Separatists in Europe

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Catalan Vote Seen as Test for Separatists in Europe
As Catalonia prepares to hold a referendum on independence this fall, concern is growing that the vote could set off a separatist spiral in Spain and other independence-minded regions in Europe.



World Briefing: Bulgaria: New Government Appointed
Moving Tuesday to quell a deep political crisis, Bulgaria appointed a law professor as interim prime minister until national elections in October.



Tony Blair Has Used His Connections to Change the World, and to Get Rich
Since leaving Downing Street, Mr. Blair has become a diplomat, opened charities and made millions from consulting, raising questions about possible conflicts of interest.


Ohioans Demand Action After Toxic Algae Water Crisis

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Ohioans Demand Action After Toxic Algae Water Crisis

“I think this is a wake-up call for environmental health.”

The post Ohioans Demand Action After Toxic Algae Water Crisis appeared first on ThinkProgress.

APTOPIX Toledo Water Problems

CREDIT: AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari

The toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie that poisoned the water of about 400,000 people in Toledo, Ohio over the weekend has residents calling for change.

“I think this is a wake-up call for environmental health in general,” Carol Stepien, Director at the University of Toledo’s Lake Erie Center said. “I hope closing off water for half a million people spurs some action akin to the 1972 Clean Water Act. We need to not only listen to lobbyists — we need to listen to people and their health needs.”

There’s been some movement already on the issue. On Monday, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that Lake Erie was being considered for Farm Bill funding that would help Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana put measures in place to cut down on the amount of phosphorus — one of the main drivers of algal blooms in Lake Erie — that enters the basin. It’s not certain yet whether the basin will be selected for funding, but Brown’s office said in a statement that the senator is “urging USDA to approve this application.”

Ohio State Rep. Dave Hall (R) is planning hearings on what should be done to prevent algal blooms like this from happening in the future. And Oregon state Rep. State Rep. Mike Sheehy (D) announced this week that he’s introducing a bill that would seek to reduce farm runoff into Lake Erie.

“I urge my colleagues to support any efforts to reduce run-off and stop the growth of toxic algal blooms from creating a cycle of public health crises along the Lake Erie shoreline,” Sheehy said in a statement. “This particular bloom isn’t expected to fully mature until September, so we must expedite our discussions of how to manage our state’s most precious natural resources and keep our citizens out of danger.”

But though this temporary water crisis could serve as a wake-up call for lawmakers, it won’t be the first time the region tries to address the algal blooms — and the low-oxygen “dead zones” they produce — that have plagued Lake Erie for decades. In the 1970s, industrial and sewage runoff resulted in such high pollution in the lake that some regions were declared “dead.” Since then, environmental regulations, including a 1988 ban on phosphorus in laundry detergent, have helped the lake recover, but over the last few years, phosphorus runoff, largely from agricultural fertilizer, have brought the lake’s problems with dead zones and algal blooms back into focus.

Earlier this year, the International Joint Commission published a report on the lake’s struggles with algal blooms. It concluded that the U.S. and Canada should implement new targets for the maximum amount of phosphorus that can enter the lake, including recommendations for phosphorus reductions for the Maumee River, which flows into Lake Erie and carries large amounts of phosphorus into the lake. In order to reduce the area of the lake’s dead zone by half, a 46 percent reduction in phosphorus pollution would be required, the report states, and the amount of phosphorus entering the Maumee River — largely from farms along its bank — would need to be decreased by 39 percent.

But so far, there hasn’t been much action on the report’s recommendations, a lack of action on the issue that worries Stepien.

“All the scientists and environmentalists are pretty much in agreement with what needs to be done. Unfortunately there’s been inaction,” she said.

There was some action on the issue earlier this year, when a bill that aimed to act as a first step towards cleaning up the lake was signed into law by Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The bill requires farmers who fertilize farms of 50 acres or more to become certified by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, undergoing a certification class that teaches them best practices for fertilizer application. The law will go into effect in 2017.

Adam Rissien, director of agricultural and water policy at the Ohio Environmental Council, said that though he’s glad the bill passed, he’s not happy that the bill exempts manure as a fertilizer that has to be applied by a someone who’s certified. The bill defines fertilizer as any substance that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium or “any recognized plant nutrient element or compound,” but exempts manure, which also contains nitrogen and phosphorus. That exemption means that farmers can continue to apply manure as fertilizer without being certified, Rissien said. This practice, especially when done in winter when the ground is frozen, plays a key role in the development of algal blooms. He also said he thinks powerful Big Ag interests contributed to manure provisions being left out of the bill.

“Frankly, the agricultural lobby was able to strip that provision out of the bill,” he said. “That was an example of a strong lobby presence of the agricultural sector weakening a bill that sought to do the right thing and improve the situation.”

CAFOs, factory farms that produce huge amounts of manure, also did not make it into the bill’s final version.

Stepien also cites “politics, special interests, lobbyists, money” as reasons why more hasn’t been done to reduce phosphorus loading into Lake Erie. Tadd Nicholson, executive director of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, told the Plain Dealer Tuesday that he thinks farmers will be able to “make changes when changes have to be made” on the issue.

Rissien said that voluntary measures to address pollution in Lake Erie aren’t working, and that the U.S. and Canada both need to come up with strict targets for how much phosphorus enters the lake. Regulation isn’t popular, he said, and farmers — especially the small-scale ones — will need to be assured that a limit on phosphorus loading won’t come with extra cost to them. Further study on the issue is helpful, he said, but along with study needs to come action.

“I think one the recent crisis in Toledo shows business as usual is not acceptable,” he said. “Something needs to change.”

The post Ohioans Demand Action After Toxic Algae Water Crisis appeared first on ThinkProgress.


Is the Attack on Abortion Rights Backfiring in the South?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Is the Attack on Abortion Rights Backfiring in the South?
From: Dani McClain

Alabama’s backdoor abortion ban was just declared unconstitutional. Will this decision send a message to anti-choice legislators elsewhere?

Great War: The View From America at the Start of World War I
From: Back Issues

The Nation recognized that US isolation would be tested as never before, but didn’t even consider intervention as a possibility.

What’s Behind the Media’s Ebola Sensationalism?
From: Leslie Savan

Ebola is a symbol to the political right of all the Third World horrors that liberals are inviting past the walls of our city on the hill.

By John Boehner’s Logic, a Lot of Presidents Should Have Been Sued
From: John Nichols

Republicans are suing the president for doing what presidents do.

Circular Debate: Special Israel/Palestine Edition
From: Tom Tomorrow

Debates about Israel’s war in Gaza tend to follow a predictable pattern.


Is New York the Next Detroit?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Is New York the Next Detroit?
Megan McArdle, Bloomberg

How the FBI Could Get in Your Computer
Kevin Poulsen, Wired

Love, Lies, Luxury Goods and a Governor
Margaret Carlson, Bloomberg
Romance, designer gowns, lavish parties, fast cars, private jets and lakeside mansions.The federal trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia and his first lady on corruption charges features all that and more. If you’re headed to the beach, the transcript makes for riveting reading. You’ll discover how the couple is trying to explain that Virginia businessman Jonnie Williams gave them $165,000 in loans and gifts because the governor’s wife, Maureen, had a crush on him and that the governor knew nothing about it. “Another man,” attorney William Burck argued, was able to “invade…

Democrats Seize on Social Issues as Attitudes Shift
John Harwood, NYT
WASHINGTON — Facing re-election, Gov. Scott Walker, Republican of Wisconsin, no longer talks about stopping same-sex marriage. “It’s those on the left that are pushing” the issue, he says.Ed Gillespie, the Republican Senate candidate in Virginia, argued that Senator Mark Warner, the Democratic incumbent, was “making up my views” when Mr. Warner accused him of seeking to overturn abortion rights and ban some forms of contraception. In fact, Mr. Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, said in a recent debate, he wants contraceptives…

Obamacare: More They Know, Less They Like
Byron York, DC Examiner
Democrats have long believed Obamacare would become more popular once it was fully in place and Americans got a chance to see it up close. So why is Obamacare less popular now than a few months ago? Because it is fully in place and Americans have had a chance to see it up close.