2020-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2020-02-26 12:22:20 UTC
2020-02-26 23:29:09 UTC
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Here in the U.S., the presidential election season, like Christmas, seems to start earlier and earlier each time.
In keeping with this, the Democratic National Committee is making waves by announcing that it will exclude Fox News, which has the largest viewership of the major cable news networks by a considerable margin, from debate coverage of DNC presidential candidates.
Thomas Lifson outlines a number of reasons this may not be a good move.
One is that from a historical and strategy perspective:
Presidential debates inevitably favor the challengers. Trump can push them in that direction by agreeing to debates only if Fox News is included. That forces them to either accept FNC or have no debates at all. If they accept, that makes FNC the debate worth watching. The rest are discredited as Democrat "safe spaces,"
And it appears he has pounced and done exactly that from his twitter account:
Democrats just blocked @FoxNews from holding a debate. Good, then I think I’ll do the same thing with the Fake News Networks and the Radical Left Democrats in the General Election debates!
Really all either party has to do is A) not be crazy and/or B) keep their idiot mouths shut to win.
Neither of these seems to be in the cards dealt to either side, so it should be a heck of a ride.
Democrats in the U.S. Congress plan to unveil legislation on Wednesday to reinstate “net neutrality” rules that were repealed by the Trump administration in December 2017, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.
Pelosi told lawmakers in a letter that House Democrats, who won control of the chamber in the November 2018 elections, would work with their colleagues in the U.S. Senate to pass the “Save The Internet Act.”
The text of the proposed legislation has not been released.
The Federal Communications Commission repealed the rules that bar providers from blocking or slowing internet content or offering paid “fast lanes.” The repeal was a win for providers like Comcast Corp, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc, but was opposed by internet companies like Facebook Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc.
The Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, voted in May 2018 to reinstate the net neutrality rules, but the House did not take up the issue before Congress adjourned last year.
A U.S. federal appeals court last month held lengthy oral arguments in a legal challenge to the FCC’s decision to repeal the net neutrality rules.
In its 2017 decision, the Republican-led FCC voted 3-2 along party lines to reverse the net neutrality rules. The agency gave providers sweeping power to recast how users access the internet but said they must disclose changes in users’ internet access.
A spokeswoman for FCC chairman Ajit Pai did not immediately comment on Monday.
FCC Struggles to Convince Judge That Broadband Isn't "Telecommunications"
It's Now Clear None of the Supposed Benefits of Killing Net Neutrality Are Real
FCC Chairman Pai Celebrates Congress Failing to Bring Back Net Neutrality
"Today's big tech companies have [too much power over] our economy, our society, and our democracy," wrote Warren in a blog post. "They've bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation."
Warren said that big tech companies use mergers to swallow competition and sell products on their own e-commerce platforms, which hurt smaller businesses' opportunities to succeed. Weak antitrust enforcement also resulted in "a dramatic reduction" in competition and innovation in the tech industry, according to Warren's blog post.
With conservative voices decrying Big Tech censorship, internet activists decrying privacy violations, and now Senator Warren calling for outright dismemberment, Big Tech might be in for a rocky stretch of road.
Submitted via IRC for chromas
The US National Security Agency (NSA) has created a boatload of buzz over the past few days with these two headline-makers:
First, a senior Republican congressional aide suggested over the weekend that the agency might be shuttering its phone metadata slurping program instead of renewing it in December (suppress your glee: the news is less encouraging for surveillance-adverse citizenry than it appears at first blush) and....
...Second, by releasing Ghidra, a free software reverse engineering tool that the agency had been using internally for well over a decade.
First, the political cat-and-mouse game:
News of the NSA potentially killing off its mass phone-spying program – exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 – came on Saturday in the form of a Lawfare podcast interview with Luke Murry, national security advisor to House minority leader Kevin McCarthy.
At 5 minutes in, Murry said that the NSA hasn’t been using its metadata collecting system for spying on US citizens for the past six months, due to "problems with the way in which that information was collected, and possibly collecting on US citizens.” The program is due for Congressional reauthorization in December 2019, but Murry suggested that the administration might not bother:
I’m not actually certain that the administration will want to start that back up given where they've been in the last six months.
[...] On a far more security-crowd-pleasing note, there’s the NSA’s release of Ghidra:
The NSA released Ghidra, a software reverse engineering tool, at the RSA security conference on Wednesday. It marked the first public demonstration of the tool, which the agency has been using internally and which helps to analyze malicious code and malware tracks down potential vulnerabilities in networks and systems.
ZDNet, reporting from the conference, said that the NSA’s plan is to get security researchers comfortable working with the tool before they apply for government cybersecurity positions, be those jobs at the NSA or at the other government intelligence agencies with which the NSA has privately shared Ghidra.
The initial reviews have been, overall, positive, in large measure because "free" is a lot cheaper than the alternative tool, IDA Pro. The commercial license for IDA Pro costs thousands of US dollars per year. Here are some early reviews from well-known security pros:
The United States warned Turkey against moving ahead with plans to buy a sophisticated Russian missile defence system that the Pentagon believes would threaten its advanced F-35 fighter aircraft.
The State Department made the remarks on a day when the head of US European Command spoke to politicians on Capitol Hill and said Turkey should reconsider its plan to buy the S-400 from Russia this year.
"We've clearly warned Turkey that its potential acquisition of the S-400 will result in a reassessment of Turkey's participation in the F-35 programme, and risk other potential future arms transfers to Turkey," said deputy spokesman Robert Palladino on Tuesday.
The US agreed to sell 100 of its latest fifth-generation F-35 fighters to Turkey and has so far delivered two of the aircraft. But Congress last year ordered a delay in future deliveries.
[...] The S-400 can track a large number of potential targets, including stealth targets such as the US F-35 fighter jet. Other advantages included its high mobility, meaning it can be set up, fired and moved within minutes.
The Washington Post has an editorial by Vice President Pence, asking Congress to pass our National Defense Authorization Act for, or of 2020. Which will create a 6th branch of the United States military, called the United States Space Force. It's going to be part of the Air Force, but, this one won't be in the air. It will be in space. And there's no air, there. An excerpt:
Under this proposal, the Space Force would be within the Air Force, similar to the placement of the Marine Corps within the Navy. More than any other organization, the Air Force has been at the vanguard of building the world’s best military space programs. So, creating the Space Force within the Air Force is the best way to minimize duplication of effort and eliminate bureaucratic inefficiencies.
Just as the Air Force began within the Army before becoming a separate military department, so too will this first step in establishing the Space Force pave the way for a separate military department in the future. The Space Force is the next and the natural evolution of U.S. supremacy in space.
Also at Chicago Tribune.
Submitted via IRC for Bytram
US lawmakers opened a debate Tuesday over privacy legislation in the first step by Congress toward regulation addressing a series of troublesome data protection abuses by tech firms.
Most companies have said they would accept new federal legislation in the wake of bombshell revelations about Facebook and other online platforms' mishandling of users' personal data.
Lawmakers face several key choices, including whether to adopt the model in the European Union's data protection rules, and whether to pre-empt the strict privacy rules adopted by California.
A House of Representatives committee hearing on Tuesday is to be followed by a Senate panel Wednesday where industry and interest groups will make recommendations on US legislation.
Legislators are likely to find broad agreement on the need for greater transparency regarding the collection and sharing of data, and on tougher enforcement for violations.
Beyond that, sharp differences exist on how tightly tech firms should be reined in.
"A federal law must include basic rights for individuals to access, correct, delete and port their personal data," said Nuala O'Connor, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a digital rights group, in testimony prepared for the House Energy and Commerce panel.
Soldiers from the Venezuelan national guard have left their posts ahead of an opposition-led effort to bring aid into the country, Colombia's migration agency said. In a separate development, Venezuelan troops have fired tear gas at people looking to cross into Colombia to work. Tensions have been rising over a row about the delivery of humanitarian aid.
President Nicolás Maduro said the border with Colombia is partly closed to stop aid being delivered. But self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó has vowed that hundreds of thousands of volunteers will help bring in the aid deliveries, which include food and medicine, on Saturday. The first delivery of aid has already entered Venezuela through Brazil, Mr Guaidó tweeted. The delivery of aid to the stricken country has proven to be a key area of contention between the two men who see themselves as Venezuela's leader.
Venezuela's National Guard fired tear gas on opposition activists at a barricaded border bridge to Colombia on Saturday, and two protesters were killed near the border in Brazil, as the opposition tried to execute a high-risk plan to deliver humanitarian aid over the obstinate refusal of President Nicolas Maduro.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido pulled himself onto a semitruck and shook hands with its driver as he and Colombian President Ivan Duque gave a ceremonial send-off to an aid convoy looking to transport nearly 200 metric tons of mostly U.S.-supplied emergency food and medical supplies from the Colombian border city of Cucuta. "Our call to the armed forces couldn't be clearer: put yourself on the right side of history," he said in an appeal to troops constituting Maduro's last-remaining major plank of support in a country ravaged by hyperinflation and widespread shortages.
Amid the aid push, Maduro struck back, breaking diplomatic relations with Colombia, whose government he accuses of serving as a staging ground for a U.S.-led effort to oust him from power. "My patience has run out," Maduro said, speaking at a rally of red-shirted supporters in Caracas and giving Colombian diplomats 24 hours to leave the country.
The opposition is calling on masses of Venezuelans to form a "humanitarian avalanche" to escort the trucks across several border bridges. But clashes started at dawn in the Venezuelan border town of Urena, when residents began removing yellow metal barricades and barbed wire blocking the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge. Venezuela's National Guard responded forcefully, firing tear gas and buckshot on the protesters who demanded that the aid pass through. Some of the protesters were masked youth who threw rocks and later commandeered a city bus and set it afire. At least two dozen people were injured in the disturbances, according to local health officials in Urena.
Related: Voting Company Finds Manipulation in Venezuela Election
Venezuela Agents Arrest Opposition Leaders in Midnight Raids
U.S. Bans Venezuela's Cryptocurrency
Venezuela Blocks Access to the Tor Network
It's no secret that some of our federal legislators don't have a firm grip on scientific evidence; it only takes watching a session of the House Science Committee, where one member suggested the climate-driven rise of the oceans might instead be caused by rocks falling into the ocean.
What's often overlooked is that state legislators are even worse (though it's not clear how much this is a product of there simply being more of them). Each year, they oversee a variety of attempts to introduce pseudoscience into the public schools of a number of states.
[...] The legislator in question is Republican Joe Read, who represents an area north of Missoula, home of many fine scientists at the University of Montana. Read has eight bills under consideration in the current session of the legislature, and two of those focus on climate change.
As a result, the [first] bill would prohibit state agencies, officials, and employees from doing anything to cooperate with federal efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions. If passed, the Montana government "may not implement or enforce in any way any federal regulation, rule, or policy implementing a federal greenhouse gas regulatory program."
But if you thought Read's grasp of constitutional law was shaky, you should check out his reason for objecting to doing anything about climate change. That's laid out in his second bill, which targets both science education and in-state programs designed to reduce carbon emissions. And it doesn't mince words, suggesting that pretty much all the scientists have it wrong: "the [US] National Climate Assessment makes the same errors as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the National Academy of Sciences is also fundamentally wrong about climate change."
What are those errors? They are not reality based. Rep. Read claims "all Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change arguments to prove claims of increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide have failed," even though we've measured that increase in a number of ways. There are also things that are difficult to comprehend, like the statement that "the carbon-14 data shows that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claim that human emissions have decreased the 'buffer capacity of the carbonate system' is an invalid claim."
More coverage at the Billings Gazette.
Millions of Chinese individuals and businesses have been labelled as untrustworthy on an official blacklist banning them from any number of activities, including accessing financial markets or traveling by air or train, as the use of the government’s social credit system accelerates.
[...] Over 3.59 million Chinese enterprises were added to the official creditworthiness blacklist last year, banning them from a series of activities, including bidding on projects, accessing security markets, taking part in land auctions and issuing corporate bonds, according to the 2018 annual report released by the National Public Credit Information Center.
[...] According to the report, the authorities collected over 14.21 million pieces of information on the “untrustworthy conduct” of individuals and businesses, including charges of swindling customers, failing to repay loans, illegal fund collection, false and misleading advertising, as well as uncivilized behavior such as taking reserved seats on trains or causing trouble in hospitals.
About 17.46 million “discredited” people were restricted from buying plane tickets and 5.47 million were restricted from purchasing high-speed train tickets, the report said.
I, for one, welcome our new, well-behaved party overlords.