Government by unelected experts isn’t all that different from the ‘royal prerogative’ of 17th-century England, argues constitutional scholar Philip Hamburger.
Like the blind men in the fable who try to describe an elephant by feeling different parts of its body, they’re not perceiving the whole problem: the enormous rogue beast known as the administrative state.
Sometimes called the regulatory state or the deep state, it is a government within the government, run by the president and the dozens of federal agencies that assume powers once claimed only by kings. In place of royal decrees, they issue rules and send out “guidance” letters like the one from an Education Department official in 2011 that stripped college students of due process when accused of sexual misconduct.
Unelected bureaucrats not only write their own laws, they also interpret these laws and enforce them in their own courts with their own judges. All this is in blatant violation of the Constitution, says Mr. Hamburger, 60, a constitutional scholar and winner of the Manhattan Institute’s Hayek Prize last year for his scholarly 2014 book, “Is Administrative Law Unlawful?” (Spoiler alert: Yes.)
“Essentially, much of the Bill of Rights has been gutted,” he says, sitting in his office at Columbia Law School. “The government can choose to proceed against you in a trial in court with constitutional processes, or it can use an administrative proceeding where you don’t have the right to be heard by a real judge or a jury and you don’t have the full due process of law. Our fundamental procedural freedoms, which once were guarantees, have become mere options.”
In volume and complexity, the edicts from federal agencies exceed the laws passed by Congress by orders of magnitude. “The administrative state has become the government’s predominant mode of contact with citizens,” Mr. Hamburger says. “Ultimately this is not about the politics of left or right. Unlawful government power should worry everybody.”
Defenders of agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Environmental Protection Agency often describe them as the only practical way to regulate today’s complex world. The Founding Fathers, they argue, could not have imagined the challenges that face a large and technologically advanced society, so Congress and the judiciary have wisely delegated their duties by giving new powers to experts in executive-branch agencies.
Mr. Hamburger doesn’t buy it. In his view, not only is such delegation unconstitutional, it’s nothing new. The founders, far from being naive about the need for expert guidance, limited executive powers precisely because of the abuses of 17th-century kings like James I. Read the rest of this entry »
Our political leaders are basically telling us that this kind of terrorism, random and deadly, is the price we have to pay for their policies of multiculturalism and political correctness.
Megan G. Oprea writes: As if on cue, in the wake of Saturday’s terrorist attack in London political leaders are trotting out the usual treacly lines that have become so rote. But the words they pretend will provide comfort to anyone but the most naïve are borderline worthless. Worse, they’re an insult to the families who have had to experience the shocking pain of the sudden loss of a family member or friend at the hands of a terrorist.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, called Saturday’s attack “deliberate and cowardly,” and asked “all Londoners to remain calm and vigilant today and in the days ahead.” Most notably, he said: “You will see an increased police presence today, including armed officers and uniformed officers. There is no reason to be alarmed by this. We are the safest global city in the world.”
What a thing to say at a time like this. Shouldn’t Britons be alarmed? Isn’t Saturday’s attack in London, coming as it did on the heels of the Manchester bombing, deeply disturbing? Why isn’t Khan more concerned about the threats that are so obviously at the doorstep, or better put, in Britain’s streets? Does anyone really take comfort from being told about swift police response times after yet another terrorist attack?
Our Politicians Can’t Handle the Truth
The sad truth, and getting sadder with every attack, is that the political class has little interest in doing what would really be necessary to combat Islamist terrorism, let alone talk about it. They don’t want to talk about how Britain’s lax immigration policies over decades led to hundreds of thousands of immigrants entering the country with varying degrees of willingness to assimilate and adopt Western values. They don’t want to openly criticize the blatant problems with the multiculturalism the UK has pursued for years and the obvious impact it has had on the immigrant population.
Oh no. This would cost them too much. It would shatter the façade of political correctness that’s been constructed over our “civilized” western world, and destroy the illusion, so vital to the political class, that Western values are universal. Read the rest of this entry »
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced plans today to roll back net neutrality rules put in place by the Obama administration in 2015.
The FCC currently regulates Internet service providers (ISPs) under Title II regulations that essentially treat the internet as a public utility similar to the old phone monopoly. Proponents of net neutrality and the invocation of Title II regulations say that such oversight is necessary to ensure that the Internet remains “open” and ISPs don’t block sites or degrade offerings by rivals. Long a critic of Title II regulations, which were invoked after the FCC lost two court battles to regulate the Internet, Pai describes them as “a panoply of heavy-handed economic regulations that were developed in the Great Depression to handle Ma Bell.”
Scrapping these rules, Pai told Reason’s Nick Gillespie, won’t harm consumers or the public interest because there was no reason for them in the first place. The rationales were mere “phantoms that were conjured up by people who wanted the FCC for political reasons to overregulate the internet,” Pai told Gillespie. “We were not living in a digital dystopia in the years leading up to 2015.”
If left in place, however, the Title II rules could harm the commercial internet, which Pai described as “one of the most incredible free market innovations in history.”
“Companies like Google and Facebook and Netflix became household names precisely because we didn’t have the government micromanaging how the internet would operate,” said Pai, who noted that the Clinton-era decision not to regulate the Internet like a phone utility or a broadcast network was one of the most important factors in the rise of our new economy. Read the rest of this entry »
Vito brings the taste of a new generation to a violent protest. Can he bridge the divide and save our great nation!?
*DISCLAIMER* I am not affiliated with the alt-right / antifa / whatever. This video is not an endorsement of anyone or anything (except Pepsi)(though seriously fuck Pepsi for that dumbass ad)
Laser Groove by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
Oliver Gettell reports: Comic book artist Ardian Syaf has issued an apology for including hidden messages in an issue of X-Men: Gold that have been interpreted by many readers as being anti-Semitic and anti-Christian.
“My career is over now. It’s the consequence what I did, and I take it.”
The panels in question appear to allude to religious and political tensions in Syaf’s native Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.
“My career is over now,” Syaf said in a statement posted to Facebook on Monday. “It’s the consequence what I did, and I take it. Please no more mockery, [debate], no more hate. I hope all in peace.”
Syaf went on to address his inclusion of the number 212 and the phrase “QS 5:51” in the comic, writing that they were meant to represent “justice” and “love.” He also apologized “for all the noise.”
As reported by Bleeding Cool on Saturday, Syaf’s artwork in the first issue of X-Men Gold appeared to reference hardline opposition to Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the Christian governor of Jakarta, as well as anti-Semitic sentiments. Read the rest of this entry »
Simon & Schuster’s Adam Rothberg announced that the company and its Threshold Editions division would be canceling its publication of Yiannopoulos’ book, ‘Dangerous.’ It was due for release on June 13.
The decision comes amid a controversy involving a video from January 2016, in which Yiannopoulos appears to defend pedophilia. It resurfaced after it was recently shared on a conservative blog, and has gained traction and backlash over the past week.
— (((Adam Rothberg))) (@AdamRothberg) February 20, 2017
“We realize that Mr. Yiannopoulos has responded on Facebook, but it is insufficient,” American Conservative Union Chairman Matt said in a statement. “It is up to him to answer the tough questions and we urge him to immediately further address these disturbing comments.”
In the video, a 2016 episode of podcast “The Drunken Peasants,” Yiannopoulos discussed his own experience with sexual assault as a teenager. Read the rest of this entry »
Rioters break windows, set fire to force cancellation of Breitbart editor’s UC-Berkeley talk
A planned talk at the University of California-Berkeley by polarizing Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos was canceled Wednesday evening after protesters threw smoke bombs and flares at the student union building where he was scheduled to speak.
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) February 2, 2017
“Violent left-wing protesters stormed the building and forced me to be evacuated by police and by my security detail,” Yiannopoulos told Fox News‘ Tucker Carlson in a phone interview from an undisclosed location.
There were no immediate reports of any injuries or arrests.
Yiannopoulos, 32, is a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump and a self-proclaimed internet troll whose comments have been criticized as racist, misogynist, anti-Muslim and white supremacist.
The decision to cancel was made two hours before the start of the event because a crowd of more than 1,500 people had gathered outside the venue, the university said in a statement.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence and unlawful behavior that was on display, and deeply regret that those tactics will now overshadow the efforts to engage in legitimate and lawful protest against the performer’s presence and perspectives,” the statement read, in part.
Hundreds of peaceful demonstrators carrying signs that read “Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech” had been protesting for hours before the event.
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) February 2, 2017
In the evening, a small group dressed in black broke windows, threw smoke bombs and flares, and set a large bonfire outside the building. Some members of that group were wearing hooded sweatshirts.
The demonstrators were met by tight security in the form of law enforcement armed in riot gear. Some rioters broke windows and lit fireworks, while others pulled away the metal barricades in front of the building.
A shelter in place order was in effect and the Cal campus was placed on lockdown. Read the rest of this entry »
Tom Brady investigates a theft… and other things that didn’t happen
PALM SPRINGS, CALIF. — Christopher Bedford reports: The sprawling libertarian Koch network came out against Trump’s executive order banning travel from certain high-risk countries, emailing reporters that it “is the wrong approach and will likely be counterproductive.”
“We believe it is possible to keep Americans safe without excluding people who wish to come here to contribute and pursue a better life for their families. The travel ban is the wrong approach and will likely be counterproductive.”
— Brian Hooks, president of the Charles Koch Institute
“We believe it is possible to keep Americans safe without excluding people who wish to come here to contribute and pursue a better life for their families,” Brian Hooks, president of the Charles Koch Institute and co-chairman of the Koch’s far-reaching Seminar Network, said. “The travel ban is the wrong approach and will likely be counterproductive.”
“Our country has benefited tremendously from a history of welcoming people from all cultures and backgrounds. This is a hallmark of free and open societies.”
“Our country has benefited tremendously from a history of welcoming people from all cultures and backgrounds. This is a hallmark of free and open societies.”
Hooks and Koch are currently with hundreds of conservative and libertarian donors at the network’s conference in Palm Springs. Held twice a year, the seminars are a gathering place for the Seminar Network, a large group of wealthy donors interested in libertarian causes. This weekend’s seminar, held in the temperate desert outside of Los Angeles, will be the first since Trump’s election and inauguration.
The network spent hundreds of millions on advertising and advocacy for limited-government politicians — namely, Republicans — running for the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, but notably stayed out of the presidential primaries and race. Read the rest of this entry »
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a notice on its website on Sunday that it is launching a nationwide clean-up campaign aimed at internet service provider (ISP), internet data centrer (IDC), and content delivery network (CDN) companies.
It ordered checks for companies operating without government licenses or beyond the scope of licenses.
The ministry said it was forbidden to create or rent communication channels, including VPNs, without governmental approval, to run cross-border operations.
VPNs can be used to gain access to blocked websites.
China has the world’s largest population of internet users – now at 731 million people – and is home to some of the biggest internet firms such as Tencent Holdings, Baidu Inc and Alibaba Group Holding. Read the rest of this entry »
Obama’s frequent appeals to history’s judgment reflect his confidence that history will be kind to him. In the short run, it will: liberals will canonize Obama. Like the faithful Catholics chanting “santo subito” after the death of Pope John Paul II, Obama’s liberal boosters will turn him into Saint Barack, savior of health care and slayer of bin Laden. You might see hints of this already in your liberal friends’ wistful Facebook posts: “I’m really going to miss this guy.” If liberals are calling the shots, Obama’s name will shortly be inscribed on statues and state buildings, and his face will someday appear on coins and currency, while the divisions he sowed and exploited in pursuit of personal glory will be papered over. Generations of schoolchildren will learn about the beloved, barrier-shattering college professor with the megawatt smile who could tell a joke and make a jump shot—not the ambitious, polarizing ideologue whose disdain for half the country was palpable. No mention will be made of his habit of insulting supposedly lazy, ignorant Americans who cling bitterly to their religion, guns, and “antipathy toward people who aren’t like them,” and who fall prey to “anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” Read the rest of this entry »
Even a prominent Trump adviser accepts the false premise that there has been no ‘ethical shadiness.’
Even Trump adviser Peter Thiel seems to agree. When the New York Times’s Maureen Dowd observed during an interview that Mr. Obama’s administration was “without any ethical shadiness,” Mr. Thiel accepted the premise, saying: “But there’s a point where no corruption can be a bad thing. It can mean that things are too boring.”
In reality, Mr. Obama has presided over some of the worst scandals of any president in recent decades. Here’s a partial list:
• State Department email. In an effort to evade federal open-records laws, Mr. Obama’s first secretary of state set up a private server, which she used exclusively to conduct official business, including communications with the president and the transmission of classified material. A federal criminal investigation produced no charges, but FBI Director James Comey reported that the secretary and her colleagues “were extremely careless” in handling national secrets.
• Operation Fast and Furious. The Obama Justice Department lost track of thousands of guns it had allowed to pass into the hands of suspected smugglers, in the hope of tracing them to Mexican drug cartels. One of the guns was used in the fatal 2010 shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Congress held then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt when he refused to turn over documents about the operation.
• IRS abuses. Mr. Obama’s Internal Revenue Service did something Richard Nixononly dreamed of doing: It successfully targeted political opponents. The Justice Department then refused to enforce Congress’s contempt citation against the IRS’s Lois Lerner, who refused to answer questions about her agency’s misconduct. Read the rest of this entry »
Media artist Akinori Goto designed this fun 3d-printed zoetrope that when lit from the side reveals walking people. The piece was just on view at the Spiral Independent Creators Festival where it won both the Runner-up Grand Prix and the Audience Award. Video above from Tokyo Art Beat. (via Prosthetic Knowledge)
…This sounds like a parody of media fawning over Obama….but then so does so much of the Obama-loving media. But the line about grabbing on to Obama’s pant leg is just priceless:
“I’m more optimistic than when we started,” declared Obama, and it was then that you fully realized that he was transitioning from commander in chief to therapist in chief.
“It has been the honor of my life to serve you. … I won’t stop,” he assured us, invoking the slogan that accompanied his ascendancy to the presidency: “Yes we can.” Except this time, he added, “Yes we did.” Read the rest of this entry »
Conservatives, gun store owners, and Second Amendment activists are receiving ‘Christmas Cards’ from anti-gun advocates that include graphic photos of victims who have received gunshots to the face.
Lana Shadwick writes: The Christmas card includes the Bible verse, “The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked. And the one who loves violence His soul hates.”
The card also bears the inscription:
The NRA gives the gift of nonfatal gunshot wounds like these to 100,000 Americans per year. Your continued support of ‘guns everywhere’ legislation is directly responsible for this health epidemic. In your heart, do you honestly believe this is what Jesus wants? Shame on you for dishonoring Jesus Christ with your support of gun-pushing legislation.
The Christmas card is signed from “The Betsy Riot” which describes itself on the card as “a decentralized movement that nonviolently opposes gun culture.”
I’ll say it again: Gun control advocates are the most violent, dangerous people I have ever encountered. They have no regard for safety.
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) December 18, 2016
The post on Facebook bears a graphic warning that must be clicked on before the photos can be seen.
The photos can also be found on the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health and the National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery, Official Publication of Maxillofacial Society of India. These sources do not tell how both of these victims sustained their wounds. The male victim can be found under a case report for “self-inflicting gunshot injury.” Read the rest of this entry »
MOUNT VERNON, Wash. KOMO Staff & Associated Press report: A man suspected of shooting a police officer in the back of the head was ordered held on $1 million bail Friday.
The suspect, identified in court documents as Ernesto Lee Rivas, 44, appeared in Skagit County Superior Court the day after the cold-blooded shooting.
Rivas, who has a lengthy criminal history, was arrested earlier Friday morning after a seven-hour standoff in Mount Vernon that began after a police officer was shot and critically wounded, the Washington State Patrol said.
The online roster for the Skagit County Jail shows Rivas was booked at 1:55 a.m. Friday following his arrest.
Court and State Patrol records show that Rivas has eight felonies on his record, including unlawful possession of a firearm in 2011 and unlawful imprisonment in 1998. He was subject to a domestic violence protection order last year after the mother of his child accused him of stalking her at work.
At Friday’s court hearing, prosecutors said the suspect is being held for investigation of attempted first-degree murder. It was not immediately clear if Rivas has obtained an attorney. Read the rest of this entry »
The Japanese city of Beppu is known for its countless hot springs and spas that pop up around them. So much so, that the city’s mayor, Yasuhiro Nagano, pledged to build an entire spa-themed amusement park—although it might not be quite as awesome as the one featured in this promotional video.
The “spamusement” park’s development hinged on this promo video hitting a million views, which it did just a few days after hitting YouTube. The city’s mayor has since announced plans to begin planning and development of the park, and we’re really hoping that bathtub roller coaster makes the cut…(more)
Lower quality, but they get the job done.
Ryan Pickrell reports: Chinese drones are taking flight in skies beyond China’s borders in great numbers, filling a massive void in a multibillion-dollar industry left by the U.S.
“I believe this is the largest campaign we’ve seen that has been focused on drone technology. It seems to align pretty well with the focus of the Chinese government to build up their own drone technology capabilities.”
— Darien Kindlund, manager of Fireeye’s Threat Intelligence division
While the U.S. is recognized as a leader in the development and deployment of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), it keeps its drone technology close and its armed drones even closer, creating new opportunities for China, which is eager to play a role in the global arms trade.
The U.S. only exports armed drones to a few select allies, such as the U.K., as part of a Department of State decision made early last year. Jordan, for example, requested permission to purchase U.S. drones in 2014 but was rejected.
The U.S. limits its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) exports, especially its armed drones, for two main reasons.
One, the U.S. is a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a multilateral partnership that prohibits the export of missile and UAV technology capable of delivering a 1,100 lb payload at a range greater than 185 miles. Two, some U.S. officials are concerned that regular U.S. drone exports would lead to an increase in drone warfare abroad, creating a less secure international environment.
Unhindered by international agreements and export restrictions, China is moving into the drone export business, creating cheap, yet effective alternatives for countries interested in purchasing drone technology.
China has been actively developing its drone technology, making great strides in recent years.
Early last month, China showed off its CH-5 Rainbow drone, which it claims can rival America’s MQ-9 Reaper, at an air show in Zhuhai.
The CH-5 “can perform whatever operations the MQ-9 Reaper can and is even better than the US vehicle when it comes to flight duration and operational efficiency,” Shi Wen, a chief designer of the CH series drones at the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics, explained to the China Daily a little over a month ago.
“Several foreign nations have expressed intentions to purchase the CH-5, and we are in talks with them,” he added, signaling China’s interest in selling the new CH-5.
BREAKING: Facebook Helps Users Block The New York Times, CBS, NBC, ABC, with ‘B.S. Detector’, Fake News Warning PluginPosted: December 2, 2016
Over the past week, some Facebook users reported seeing content warnings next to links from established fake news domains, apparently without realizing a third party was responsible. We reported this phenomenon, later clarifying that B.S. Detector is in fact a third party plugin that both we and a number of Facebook users mistook as a testing feature. Irony!
Now, if you attempt to share a link to B.S. Detector on Facebook, you’ll be met with this message. Apparently, blocking fake news (detectors) is quite simple!
“I believe they are doing this because of TechCrunch article that came out yesterday, falsely identifying a screenshot of my plugin as a Facebook feature under development,” Daniel Sieradski, design technologist and creator of B.S. Detector, told TechCrunch. “It would seem I’ve caused them some embarrassment by showing them to be full of bull when it comes to their supposed inability to address fake news and they are punishing me for it.”
Upscale progressives have gotten used to tuning out the voice of the Trump voter. But there’s an America out there that they can no longer ignore.
David Marcus writes: Three days after the election, my wife and I were shopping at the . For those unfamiliar with it, Fairway is a less corporate, more co-op version of Whole Foods, offering pretty produce and exotic cheeses that don’t come cheap. The mood in the store was glum. As in most of Brooklyn, people stared ahead, moving slowly, still in shock from the political earthquake of Tuesday night.
“By the time Ronnie Van Zant’s drawl started in with ‘Big wheels keep on turnin’,’ everyone in the store was standing in shock. Brows were furrowed, people mumbled to each other. The song seemed to get louder as one of those New York moments happened, when everyone was thinking the exact the same thing.”
After getting our Brazilian Arabica ground for drip (I know, I should really use a French Press), Libby and I walked towards the organic maple syrup. That’s when it started. I suppose there had been music playing in the store, but I hadn’t noticed until a familiar guitar lick pierced the air and a soft voice said, “Turn it up.”
“A woman in her fifties, wearing a Love Trump Hates button, turned to her Brooklyn-bearded husband and said loudly, ‘This is unbelievable!’ She found the nearest store clerk, a young woman in a green apron who was staring up at the ceiling, looking for the invisible speakers blaring this message from the other America. ‘This is so inappropriate,’ the woman said. ‘Can we turn this off?'”
Libby and I both stopped and looked at each other. “Seriously?” said my wife, a very disappointed Clinton supporter. She started gripping her soft Tomme Crayeuse a little too hard. By the time Ronnie Van Zant’s drawl started in with “Big wheels keep on turnin’,” everyone in the store was standing in shock.
Brows were furrowed, people mumbled to each other. The song seemed to get louder as one of those New York moments happened, when everyone was thinking the exact the same thing.
“Cafés turned into phone banks, where you could buy a croissant and make a few calls to flyover country. Buttons, banners, and bumper stickers were everywhere…As the election grew near, confidence was overflowing.”
A woman in her fifties, wearing a Love Trump Hates button, turned to her Brooklyn-bearded husband and said loudly, “This is unbelievable!” She found the nearest store clerk, a young woman in a green apron who was staring up at the ceiling, looking for the invisible speakers blaring this message from the other America. “This is so inappropriate,” the woman said. “Can we turn this off?”
The City of Homes, Cafés, and Clinton
Brooklyn was the epicenter of the Clinton campaign. Throughout the summer and fall in Brooklyn Heights, you could see young staffers near the campaign headquarters: expensive coffee in hand, eyes bright, ready to tackle the future. Read the rest of this entry »
Trump-Hating Cuckoo Bananas Matt Harrigan of PacketSled Loses His Mind, Makes Public Death Threats, Declares on Facebook, ‘Bring it, Secret Service’
Sean Gallagher reports: Matt Harrigan, the CEO of San Diego-based network security startup PacketSled, resigned yesterday after a flurry of comments he made on Facebook went viral over the weekend, prompting the company to place him on administrative leave and to report his comments to the Secret Service. Harrigan’s comments weren’t the usual sort of executive meltdown—they amounted to a declaration that Harrigan was going to assassinate President-elect Donald Trump.
In a Facebook thread about last week’s presidential election, Matt Harrigan wrote, “I’m going to kill the President Elect.”
“Bring it secret service,” he wrote.
While those may have been rage posts stemming from the election last week, Harrigan went on to describe how he was going to buy a sniper rifle and hunt down Trump when he moved into the White House. “Getting a sniper rifle and perching myself where it counts,” he wrote in one of a series of comments on a thread about the election. “Find a bedroom in the whitehouse [sic] that suits you motherfucker. I’ll find you.”
— vanguard ninja (@INTJutsu) November 14, 2016
The comments went viral in screenshots, being posted first on Reddit’s The_Donald subreddit. On Sunday, Harrigan apologized on his company’s blog for the comments, saying that his rant “was intended to be a joke, in the context of a larger conversation, and only privately shared as such.” Read the rest of this entry »
Web freedom declined across the globe for the sixth consecutive year, according to a new report.
Amar Toor reports: Two-thirds of the world’s internet users live under regimes of government censorship, according to a report released today. The report from Freedom House, a pro-democracy think tank, finds that internet freedom across the globe declined for a sixth consecutive year in 2016, as governments cracked down on social media services and messaging apps.
“Although the blocking of these tools affects everyone, it has an especially harmful impact on human rights defenders, journalists, and marginalized communities who often depend on these apps to bypass government surveillance.”
— Sanja Kelly, director and co-author of the Freedom on the Net 2016 report
The findings are based on an analysis of web freedom in 65 countries, covering 88 percent of the world’s online population. Freedom House ranked China as the worst abuser of internet freedom for the second consecutive year, followed by Syria and Iran. (The report does not include North Korea.) Online freedom in the US increased slightly over the year due to the USA Freedom Act, which limits the bulk collection of metadata carried out by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other intelligence agencies.
“Telegram faced restrictions in four countries including China, where the government blocked the encrypted messaging service due to its rising popularity among human rights lawyers.”
This year saw a notable crackdown on secure messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram. WhatsApp was blocked or restricted in 12 countries over the course of the year — more than any other messaging app — including in Bahrain, Bangladesh, and Ethiopia, where authorities blocked it in response to civilian protests. Telegram faced restrictions in four countries including China, where the government blocked the encrypted messaging service due to its rising popularity among human rights lawyers.
Read the rest of this entry »
Doug Sosnik says the Democrats will be “at considerable risk” when the president leaves office.
One of the Democrats’ most veteran strategists warns that the party is “in decline” and “at considerable risk” when President Barack Obama is no longer on the scene.
“Since Obama was elected President, the Democrats have lost nine governorships, 56 members of the House and two Senate seats,” Doug Sosnik, the political director in Bill Clinton’s White House, writes in a new memo.
While Republican branding problems get the lion’s share of attention, the Democratic Party’s favorability rating has declined by 15 points since Obama took power. A Pew Research Center survey this January showed that the Democratic Party was viewed favorably by 47 percent of Americans, down from 62 percent in Jan. 2009.
These memos are read closely by an influential community of insiders in the political and business worlds. In this one, Sosnik outlines several challenges facing his own party:
• Obama’s personal popularity does not easily translate for other candidates. The president is not building the Democratic Party’s institutional apparatus in a way that it will thrive when he’s gone.
• The losses in the 2010 midterms gave Republicans control of the redistricting process, which will be in effect until after the 2020 census. This gives the GOP a structural advantage in keeping the House.
• Millennials, born 1981 to 1994, and Generation X’ers, born 1965 to 1980, are voting Democratic, but a plurality identify themselves as independents — which makes them less reliable.
With the likelihood of gridlock and near-record-low confidence in public institutions, Sosnik expects 2014 to bring the fourth change election in the past eight years. Read the rest of this entry »
WikiLeaks’ dump of messages to and from Clinton’s campaign chief offer an unprecedented view into the workings of the elite, and how it looks after itself.
Thomas Frank writes: The emails currently are part of some unknown digital collection amassed by the troublesome Anthony Weiner, but if your purpose is to understand the clique of people who dominate Washington today, the emails that really matter are the ones being from the hacked account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta. They are last week’s scandal in a year running over with scandals, but in truth their significance goes far beyond mere scandal: they are a window into the soul of the Democratic party and into the dreams and thoughts of the class to whom the party answers.
“When you search ‘Vineyard’ on the WikiLeaks dump that you realize these people truly inhabit a different world from the rest of us. By ‘vineyard’, of course, they mean Martha’s Vineyard, the ritzy vacation resort island off the coast of Massachusetts where presidents Clinton and Obama spent most of their summer vacations. The Vineyard is a place for the very, very rich to unwind, yes, but as we learn from these emails, it is also a place of high idealism; a land of enlightened liberal commitment far beyond anything ordinary citizens can ever achieve.”
The class to which I refer is not rising in angry protest; they are by and large pretty satisfied, pretty contented. Nobody takes road trips to exotic West Virginia to see what the members of this class looks like or how they live; on the contrary, they are the ones for whom such stories are written. This bunch doesn’t have to make do with a comb-over TV mountebank for a leader; for this class, the choices are always pretty good, and this year they happen to be excellent.
“Everything blurs into everything else in this world. The state department, the banks, Silicon Valley, the nonprofits, the “Global CEO Advisory Firm” that appears to have solicited donations for the Clinton Foundation. Executives here go from foundation to government to thinktank to startup. There are honors. Venture capital. Foundation grants. Endowed chairs. Advanced degrees. For them the door revolves. The friends all succeed. They break every boundary.”
They are the comfortable and well-educated mainstay of our modern Democratic party. They are also the grandees of our national media; the architects of our software; the designers of our streets; the high officials of our banking system; the authors of just about every plan to fix social security or fine-tune the Middle East with precision droning. They are, they think, not a class at all but rather the enlightened ones, the people who must be answered to but who need never explain themselves.
Let us turn the magnifying glass on them for a change, by sorting through the hacked personal emails of John Podesta, who has been a Washington power broker for decades. I admit that I feel uncomfortable digging through this hoard; stealing someone’s email is a crime, after all, and it is outrageous that people’s personal information has been exposed, since WikiLeaks doesn’t seem to have redacted the emails in any way.
There is also the issue of authenticity to contend with: we don’t know absolutely and for sure that these emails were not tampered with by whoever stole them from John Podesta. The supposed authors of the messages are refusing to confirm or deny their authenticity, and though they seem to be real, there is a small possibility they aren’t.
“The dramatis personae of the liberal class are all present in this amazing body of work: financial innovators. High-achieving colleagues attempting to get jobs for their high-achieving children. Foundation executives doing fine and noble things. Prizes, of course, and high academic achievement.”
With all that taken into consideration, I think the WikiLeaks releases furnish us with an opportunity to observe the upper reaches of the American status hierarchy in all its righteousness and majesty.
The dramatis personae of the liberal class are all present in this amazing body of work: financial innovators. High-achieving colleagues attempting to get jobs for their high-achieving children. Foundation executives doing fine and noble things. Prizes, of course, and high academic achievement. Read the rest of this entry »
Source: New York Times