2019-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2019-02-19 18:55:26 UTC
2019-02-21 03:17:22 UTC
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Submitted via IRC for Runaway1956
Rightwing computer scientist and hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer was the top donor to Donald Trump's presidential campaign. He contributed $13.5 million and laid the groundwork for what is now called the Trump Revolution. Mercer also funded Cambridge Analytica (CA), a small data analytics company that specializes in "election management strategies." CA boasts on its website that it has psychological profiles, based on 5,000 separate pieces of data, on 220 million American voters. CA scoops up masses of data from peoples' Facebook profiles and uses artificial intelligence to influence their thinking and manipulate public opinion. They used these skills to exploit America's populist insurgency and tip the election toward Trump.
[...] We enter and participate in this digital world every day, on our laptops and our smartphones. We are living in a new era of propaganda, one we can't see, with the collection and use of our data played back in ways to covertly manipulate us. All this is enabled by technological platforms originally built to bring us together. Welcome to the age of platform capitalism—the new battleground for the future.
Previously on SoylentNews: Do Advertisers Know You Better Than You Know Yourself?
MOSCOW — If Russia once maintained at least a semblance of distance from President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, it rushed to his defense after the American missile strike ordered by President Trump on Thursday. The attack cemented Moscow more closely than ever to the notorious Syrian autocrat.
Even as the United States condemned Mr. Assad for gassing his own citizens and held Russia partly responsible, given its 2013 promise to rid Syria of chemical weapons, the Kremlin kept denying that Syria had any such capability.
By championing Mr. Assad and condemning American "aggression," President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia seemed to be burying the idea that he could somehow cooperate with the Trump administration to end the conflict on his terms.
"I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail." Attributed to Abraham Maslow.
What is “lunch shaming?” It happens when a child can’t pay a school lunch bill.
In Alabama, a child short on funds was stamped on the arm with “I Need Lunch Money.” In some schools, children are forced to clean cafeteria tables in front of their peers to pay the debt. Other schools require cafeteria workers to take a child’s hot food and throw it in the trash if he doesn’t have the money to pay for it.
In what its supporters say is the first such legislation in the country, New Mexico has outlawed shaming children whose parents are behind on school lunch payments.
Source: The New York Times
Following reports of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, President Trump authorized the launch of Tomahawk cruise missiles against a base in Syria. The Russian government was notified prior to the launch as they have resources in the area that was attacked.
According to NBC News:
The United States launched dozens of cruise missiles Thursday night at a Syrian airfield in response to what it believes was Syria's use of banned chemical weapons that killed at least 100 people, U.S. military officials told NBC News.
Two U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea fired 59 Tomahawk missiles intended for a single target — Ash Sha'irat in Homs province in western Syria, the officials said. That's the airfield from which the United States believes the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fired the banned weapons.
There was no immediate word on casualties. U.S. officials told NBC News that people were not targeted and that aircraft and infrastructure at the site were hit, including the runway and gas fuel pumps.
Also at Al Jazeera:
The United States has launched 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles against Syrian government targets in retaliation for what the Trump administration charges was a Syrian government chemical weapons attack that killed scores of civilians, a US official says.
The targets hit from US ships in the Mediterranean Sea included the air base in the central city of Homs from which the Syrian aircraft staged Tuesday's chemical weapons attack, the US official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
[...] He [Trump] called on "civilised nations" to join US in "seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria".
Syrian state TV said "American aggression targets Syrian military targets with a number of missiles".
The poison gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province on Tuesday killed at least 86 people, including 27 children, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Turkey said samples from victims of Tuesday's attack indicate they were exposed to sarin, a highly toxic nerve agent.
The New York Times adds:
The Pentagon informed Russian military officials, through its established deconfliction channel, of the strike before the launching of the missiles, the official said, with American officials knowing when they did that that Russian authorities may well have alerted the Assad regime. "With a lot of Tomahawks flying, we didn't want to hit any Russian planes," he said.
[...] It was Mr. Trump's first order to the military for the use of force — other operations in Syria, Yemen and Iraq had been carried out under authorization delegated to his commanders — and appeared intended to send a message to North Korea, Iran and other potential adversaries that the new commander in chief was prepared to act, and sometimes on short notice.
The airstrikes were carried out less than an hour after the president concluded a dinner with Xi Jinping, the president of China, at Mar-a-Lago, sending an unmistakably aggressive signal about Mr. Trump's willingness to use the military power at his disposal.
Mr. Trump authorized the strike with no congressional approval for the use of force, an assertion of presidential authority that contrasts sharply with the protracted deliberations over the use of force by his predecessor, former President Barack Obama.
[...] Mr. Trump moved with remarkable speed, delivering the punishing military strike barely 72 hours after the devastating chemical attack that killed 80 people this week.
Wikipedia notes: Use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war .
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has reportedly offered to testify about President Trump's campaign and Russia:
President Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has reportedly told the FBI that he is willing to testify about the Trump campaign's potential ties to Russia, in exchange for immunity from prosecution, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Flynn resigned in February, after it was reported that he misled White House staff on his interactions with Russia and had discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak ahead of President Trump's inauguration. The Journal reported, citing officials familiar with the matter, that the FBI and the House and Senate Intelligence committees that are investigating Russia's attempts to interfere in the U.S. election have not taken his lawyers up on the offer.
Flynn's lawyer said in a statement that "General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit."
[...] In September, criticizing Hillary Clinton over former aides being given immunity deals as part of an investigation into her private email server, Flynn said, "When you're given immunity that means you've probably committed a crime."
The rise of populism has rattled the global political establishment. Brexit came as a shock, as did the victory of Donald Trump. Much head-scratching has resulted as leaders seek to work out why large chunks of their electorates are so cross.
The answer seems pretty simple. Populism is the result of economic failure. The 10 years since the financial crisis have shown that the system of economic governance which has held sway for the past four decades is broken. Some call this approach neoliberalism. Perhaps a better description would be unpopulism.
Unpopulism meant tilting the balance of power in the workplace in favour of management and treating people like wage slaves. Unpopulism was rigged to ensure that the fruits of growth went to the few not to the many. Unpopulism decreed that those responsible for the global financial crisis got away with it while those who were innocent bore the brunt of austerity.
2017 Davos says: The 99% should just try harder.
The former chairman of the Colorado Republican Party is charged with forgery and voter fraud for allegedly forging his wife’s[*] mail-in ballot from last year’s election, according to court records and sources.
Steven Curtis was the chairman of the state party from 1997 to 1999. He was charged Feb. 1 with one count of forgery of a public record, a fifth-degree felony, and an elections mail-in ballot offense, a misdemeanor.
Curtis spoke about voter fraud ahead of last year’s election.
"It seems to be, and correct me if I’m wrong here, but virtually every case of voter fraud I can remember in my lifetime was committed by Democrats,"
[* Note that she is described as his "former spouse" elsewhere, such as ...]
Also covered in more depth, and perhaps more accurately, at Salon.
1 down, 2,999,999 illegal votes to go!
Drupal founder Dries Buytaert expelled Larry "Crell" Garfield from the Drupal community (archive) for his involvement in the BDSM community. Garfield claims this was done at the demand of Drupal Security team member Klaus "klausi" Purer and unknown others secretly pressuring Drupal leadership to have him removed for his private sex life.
takyon: From Larry's response:
I am involved in two such communities, specifically the BDSM community and the Gorean (Gor) community. The former is by far the larger of the two and more varied, although I spend more of my time and activity in the Gorean community. It's a small community, and sadly much of what is found online about it is utter crap, just as most in the BDSM community find the "50 Shades" representation of BDSM to be harmfully misleading. The Gorean subculture is inspired by a science-fiction book series written from the 1960s onward to today, and predicated on a strong sense of personal honor, integrity, and community. It also practices consensual Master/slave relationships, and has a strong gender bias toward male-Dom/female-sub relationships, but that is not the cornerstone of Gorean culture. There are other groups that are biased the other way, or have no gender bias. There are even groups in Chicago (where I live) that have regular "fem-dom" parties. To each their own.
The only diary known to be written by President John F. Kennedy is up for auction on April 26th:
A diary kept by President John F Kennedy as a young man travelling in Europe, revealing his fascination with Adolf Hitler, is up for auction. Kennedy, then 28, predicted "Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived". "He had in him the stuff of which legends are made," he continued.
Kennedy wrote the entry in the summer of 1945 after touring the German dictator's Bavarian mountain retreat. It is thought by historians to be the only diary [ever] kept by the 35th US president.
[...] He wrote that Hitler "had boundless ambition for his country which rendered him a menace to the peace of the world, but he had a mystery about him in the way he lived and in the manner of his death that will live and grow after him". The 61-page diary was kept by Kennedy around four months after Hitler committed suicide. [...] In a description of the auction, [Deirdre Henderson] wrote: "When JFK said that Hitler 'had in him the stuff of which legends are made', he was speaking to the mystery surrounding him, not the evil he demonstrated to the world."
Past administrations have increased military spending, but typically to fulfil a specific mission. Jimmy Carter expanded operations in the Persian Gulf. Ronald Reagan pursued an arms race with the Soviet Union, and George W. Bush waged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mr. Trump has not articulated a new mission that would require a military spending increase. This has left analysts wondering what goals he has in mind. Erin M. Simpson, a national security consultant, called Mr. Trump's plans "a budget in search of a strategy."
[Related]: 2017 Outlook for Navy Shipbuilding
What do you think about the proposed increase in military spending ? Does USA really need more weapons ?