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Liberal Outrage

Yeah, but wouldn't it be awesome if he won anyway?

Chris Cillizza explains the point of the Bernie Sanders primary run. Not that i'm not rooting for Sanders to win regardless.

By fnord12 | April 30, 2015, 1:52 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Right message, wrong time?

Kevin Drum discusses the implications of the lead hypothesis in the case of Freddie Gray and the Baltimore police. I've been very interested in the lead theory and (while acknowledging my personal lack of scientific expertise), i agree with it. But i'm not sure leading off the post by talking about Gray's lead levels was the right choice. From what i've read (and again, i should be cautious and say of course i don't know what happened), it doesn't seem like Gray's behavior - lead influenced or not - merited what happened to him. Drum does later say that "even if you're a hard-ass law-and-order type" you'll want to look at the lead hypothesis, but it just struck me the wrong way to frame the subject.

For a different take, here's Ta-Nehisi Coates' latest.

By fnord12 | April 30, 2015, 1:46 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link

And Let Them Eat Cake, Too

I was going to end today's spate of postings on a high note with that brontosaurus thing, but then my RSS feed had to tell me this:

Maryland State legislator Patrick McDonough, the guest host of a drive-time radio program on Wednesday morning, discussed the possibility of revoking food stamps from the parents of protesting Baltimore youth.

Later during the same broadcast, McDonough called for a "scientific study" of what he called the "thug nation" in the black community. McDounough is a Republican member of the state's House of Delegates who represents a suburban area northeast of the city.

McDonough's food stamps comment came in response to a caller who asked, if protesters are "too young, why can't they take away benefits from families, from like the parents who are collecting welfare."

"That's an idea and that could be legislation," replied McDonough. "I think that you could make the case that there is a failure to do proper parenting and allowing this stuff to happen, is there an opportunity for a month to take away your food stamps?"

During much of the three hour program, McDonough discussed the "thug community" of Baltimore.

At one point, discussing the possibility of a "scientific study" on "police relationships with the black community," he said such an effort is necessary because there has never been research by "brilliant, honest, objective people" on "this community, this culture, this thug nation."

"These young people, they're violent, they're brutal, their mindset is dysfunctional to a point of being dangerous," he said, noting that he does not want to "put them in a test tube or cage." But, McDonough added, "We have got to study, investigate, and really look at what this is all about," calling it a problem "that prevails the nation from Los Angeles to Baltimore to Baltimore County."

McDonough repeated several times during his broadcast that his use of the term "thug" was not a "dog whistle" because President Obama had used the term to describe Baltimore protesters. He also added that he has supported scholarships, which have benefited people of color.

In fact, some of his closest friends are black. He might even know a few Asians.

McDonough also benefits from campaign support from major donors across the state. Campaign finance records show donations to McDonough's campaign account from the Harford County Deputy Sheriffs PAC, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield PAC, and StateFarm Agents PAC, among other established interests in Maryland.

By min | April 30, 2015, 8:59 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

You Don't Own Anything Anymore

Not your digital books that you paid dollars for. And not your car. Fucking DMCA.

EFF is fighting for vehicle owners' rights to inspect the code that runs their vehicles and to repair and modify their vehicles, or have a mechanic of their choice do the work. At the moment, the anti-circumvention prohibition in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act arguably restricts vehicle inspection, repair, and modification. If EFF is successful then vehicle owners will be free to inspect and tinker, as long as they don't run afoul of other regulations, such as those governing vehicle emissions, safety, or copyright law.

You can support EFF's exemption requests by adding your name to the petition we'll submit in the rulemaking.

Most of the automakers operating in the US filed opposition comments through trade associations, along with a couple of other vehicle manufacturers. They warn that owners with the freedom to inspect and modify code will be capable of violating a wide range of laws and harming themselves and others. They say you shouldn't be allowed to repair your own car because you might not do it right. They say you shouldn't be allowed to modify the code in your car because you might defraud a used car purchaser by changing the mileage. They say no one should be allowed to even look at the code without the manufacturer's permission because letting the public learn how cars work could help malicious hackers, "third-party software developers" (the horror!), and competitors.

John Deere even argued that letting people modify car computer systems will result in them pirating music through the on-board entertainment system, which would be one of the more convoluted ways to copy media (and the exemption process doesn't authorize copyright infringement, anyway).

Yep. I'm building up my music collection through my car radio. It's slow going, but so totally worth it. And when i'm done with that, i'm going to ask my car's computer to tell me where the last Golden Ticket is hidden.

Here's how you can help. The opponents of the vehicle exemptions say that no one really cares about the restrictions they place on access to vehicle code, so the Copyright Office should deny the exemptions. Now, we cited a number of projects, and thousands of people wrote to the office to support the exemptions, but we are confident there are even more projects, businesses, and individuals out there who need these exemptions and it would be a shame if the Copyright Office didn't know it.

If you have had problems with vehicle repair or tinkering because you were locked out of your vehicle's computers, if you would have engaged in a vehicle-related project but didn't because of the legal risk posed by the DMCA, or if you or your mechanic had to deal with obstacles in getting access to diagnostic information, then we want to hear from you--and the Copyright Office should hear from you, too.

Email us at 1201cars@eff.org to let us know. It will help strengthen our case for the Copyright Office. We can also incorporate your comments anonymously, if you'd prefer.

By min | April 30, 2015, 8:43 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

More Gender Pay Gap in the Corporate World

When companies do well, male executives reap the rewards at a far greater rate than their female counterparts. But when business turns bad, it's women who suffer the greatest financial consequences.

That's the conclusion of new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Three economists looked at more than a decade's worth of data to figure out why women in business -- even those able to break into the executive suite -- still earn far less than men on average. The key factor, according to their analysis: performance pay, a theoretically meritocratic system that, in practice, ends up rewarding those already in charge.


In an interview with Bloomberg, author Stefania Albanesi said that means companies need to start tackling pay disparities early, before they have the chance to start adding up.

"The accumulation is going to be there even when women get promoted, and also possibly if you move to another firm, because usually your past compensation is used in some degree," Albanesi said. "These differences can be very, very persistent."

Albanesi and her co-authors looked at compensation data for more than 40,000 executives at publicly traded companies in the U.S. between 1992 and 2005. Of those, just 1,312 -- 3.2 percent -- were women. And the typical woman in the group earned 14 percent less than the typical male executive. (The gap is even wider when looking at average rather than median pay.)

The vast majority of that gap is explained by so-called incentive pay, compensation linked to a company's performance, such as bonuses and stock options. The disparity adds up over time: Since men get granted more stock than women, they benefit more when a company performs well. The authors refer to these accumulated gains as an executive's "firm-specific wealth"; a $1 million increase in a company's value adds $17,150 to a male executive's wealth, but just $1,670 to a woman's.

But while male executives benefit more when their companies do well, it's women who suffer more when their companies do badly. If a firm loses 1 percent of its value, women's firm-specific wealth falls 63 percent, while men's falls just 33 percent.

That may seem paradoxical: If men's pay is more closely linked to their companies' success, then they should be more exposed to bad news as well as good. But the authors argue that logic misunderstands how executive pay works. Incentive pay is often billed as "pay for performance," but in practice, executives have lots of ways to game the system. For example, chief executives often play a major role in choosing members of the board of directors, who in turn set the CEO's pay.


One common criticism of gender-gap analyses is that they fail to account for differences between male and female workers that have nothing to do with sex. Female executives are, on average, younger and less senior; they are also more common in certain industries or types of companies, which might tend to pay less. But in this paper, the authors control for age, title and the company where the executives work.

The other possibility, of course, is that women earn less incentive pay because they don't perform as well. But the researchers looked at that too: "There is no link between standard measures of firm performance and female representation in the team of top executives," they write.


By min | April 30, 2015, 8:36 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

We Outsource Everything

It really keeps costs down and helps with avoiding pesky laws that get in the way of your goals.

In rare remarks about a sensitive issue, the director of the CIA confirmed today that the U.S. government works with foreign intelligence agencies to capture and jointly interrogate suspected terrorists.

"There are places throughout the world where CIA has worked with other intelligence services and has been able to bring people into custody and engage in the debriefings of these individuals ... through our liaison partners, and sometimes there are joint debriefings that take place as well," said John Brennan, the CIA director, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Brennan's remarks confirm what journalists have long reported: that the Obama administration sometimes helps other countries do the dirty work of snatching and interrogating terror suspects -- keeping the U.S. at arm's length from operations that are ethically and legally dubious..


The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill and others have detailed cases during the Obama administration in which terror suspects were held in foreign custody at the behest of the U.S. In 2011, Scahill reported for The Nation on a secret prison in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. Though officially run by the Somali government, Scahill wrote, "US intelligence personnel pay the salaries of intelligence agents and also directly interrogate prisoners" at the facility.

Brennan's comments today are a rare confirmation that the CIA remains actively involved in the arrest and interrogation of terrorist suspects overseas.


By min | April 30, 2015, 8:28 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Bulk Collection Could Expire


There's some good news coming from the White House today that deserves repeating. Reuters is reporting that Ned Price, a spokesman from the President's National Security Council, has unequivocally stated:
If Section 215 sunsets, we will not continue the bulk telephony metadata program.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act is the authority that the NSA, with the FBI's help, has interpreted to allow the U.S. government to vacuum up the call records of millions of innocent people. It expires on June 1.


With the clock ticking, Congress is running out of time to pass legislation that will reform bulk surveillance.

In fact, despite the Administration's push for reform legislation, it looks increasingly likely that the next vote Congress will face on NSA spying is the June 1 sunset. That's why contacting Congress about the vote is so important--lawmakers should understand that their vote is a statement about where they stand on the Constitution.


If you agree that it's time to end mass surveillance, contact Congress and tell them what you expect to see: a no vote on reauthorization of Section 215 on June 1, along with some real comprehensive reform to NSA spying.

Although, there could be a loophole.

Some journalists and privacy advocates have speculated that, even if Section 215 were to expire in the absence of other legislation, bulk collection could continue under Section 102(b) of Public Law 109-177, which some have said would allow investigations that began before the expiration of Section 215 to continue. In November, Charlie Savage at the New York Times reported that the provision could mean that:
as long as there was an older counterterrorism investigation still open, the court could keep issuing Section 215 orders to phone companies indefinitely for that investigation.

Since they can claim everything is a matter of national security and don't ever need to reveal anything, they could pretty much claim everything is part of an older investigation. But even taking a tiny bit of authority for bulk collection of data from the NSA is a good thing.

By min | April 30, 2015, 8:12 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link


Bernie Sanders running as a Democrat in the primary against Hillary.

By fnord12 | April 28, 2015, 7:36 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (4)| Link

Nonsense and the nonsencial nonsensers who nonsense them

Come with me, deep into the weeds of the Harry Reed injury conspiracy theory.

By fnord12 | April 27, 2015, 5:56 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Finnish populist speeding tickets

Four words that may seem like they may not make a lot of sense when put together, but they do.

By fnord12 | April 27, 2015, 12:33 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Attorney General Shouldn't Be an Elected Position

Eric Lipton from the New York Times just won a Pulizter for his three-party story on how lobbyists are buying attorney generals and shaping policies.

Here's the Intercept's summary of it:

The Times series explains that the current corporate onslaught is a response to successful collaborations by state attorneys general over the past several decades, including settlements in which 46 states extracted $206 billion from the tobacco industry, and 49 states forced the top five mortgage servicers to cough up $25 billion.

Public officials acting in the public interest was clearly a glitch in the matrix, and corporate America set out to eliminate it. In 2000 the GOP created the Republican Attorneys General Association, telling corporate lawyers to "round up your clients and come see what RAGA is all about" and then contribute because policy was being set "via the courthouse rather than the statehouse." RAGA raked in at least $11.7 million in 2014, including $2.2 million from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and $500,000 from Sheldon Adelson.

The Democrats founded DAGA in 2002, and it now siphons up big chunks of money from many of the same donors as RAGA, including Citigroup, Comcast, Coca-Cola and Pfizer.

RAGA and DAGA provide one-stop shops for influencing state attorneys general. Corporations donate; RAGA and DAGA distribute much of their cash to the campaigns of individual attorneys general; and some of the rest of the money pays for "conferences" that include fundraisers at which corporate executives and their lawyers can donate more to officials in attendance. Then after the attorneys general leave office, they can use the contacts they've developed to go work directly for the corporations.

The end result has been a kind of outsourcing of what citizens would expect their legal representatives to do themselves. For instance, The Times found:

  • Oklahoma's Republican Attorney General Scott Pruitt wrote a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency accusing them of "very significantly overestimating" the pollution caused by fracking; the letter was actually written by lawyers for an Oklahoma oil and gas company (which was a big supporter of RAGA).
  • Missouri's Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster instituted restrictive new rules for investigations by his consumer affairs division, rules that had been suggested by a senior executive at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
  • Plaintiffs' lawyers have encouraged many attorneys general, mostly Democrats, to file hundreds of lawsuits against businesses; the attorneys general then hire the outside lawyers to do most of the work in return for contingency fees, usually 20 percent of any settlement.
But here's the funny part: all the attorneys general questioned by The Times maintain that the money and lobbying have no influence on their decisions whatsoever. This means that the corporations doing the lobbying are engaged in a massive waste of shareholder resources. In other words, if the attorneys general truly believe what they say, they should consider filing a huge, multi-state lawsuit against their donors.

Ofc it has absolutely no influence on your decisions when someone just gave you a ton of money that helped get you elected. Why would anyone feel obligated to do some favor in return?

Plus, instead of shmoozing and politicking and spending time asking for campaign donations so they can hold on to their jobs for another term, mebbe it would be nice if the AGs could spend some time actually being the "people's lawyers".

By min | April 23, 2015, 1:04 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Gender Pay Gap in 2014

From FiveThirtyEight:

Tuesday, April 14, is the 19th annual Equal Pay Day. The day is a symbolic representation of the gender pay gap: The average woman would have had to work all last year and into April this year to earn as much as the average man did in 2014 alone. But speaking in averages isn't always the best way to understand the wage gap. Factors such as race, education and workweek hours can drastically widen (and narrow) the difference between men's and women's pay.

For example, the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning nonprofit think tank, looked at the hourly wages for men and women across income percentiles and found that at every decile, men outearned women in 2014. The gap is largest at the 95th percentile, with women earning only 79 percent of what men earn in the same income level.1 The narrowing of the wage gap for low-income earners is largely due to the minimum wage, which is the same for men and women. But the lowest-wage occupations remain disproportionately female.

Happy Unequal Pay Day, ladies.

The post has several links you can click through plus a graphic. One of them goes to the Economic Policy Institute.

Though the gap between men and women's wages is smaller for lower-wage earners, there is still a significant gender wage gap at all levels of the wage distribution, particularly at the middle and the top. To close this gender wage gap, women need to see wage growth faster than their male counterparts. Although women have seen modest wage gains in the last several decades, the main reason the gender wage gap has slowly narrowed is that the vast majority of men's wages have stagnated or declined. The best way to close the gender wage gap is for both men and women to see real wage increases, with women at a faster rate than men.

Yay minimum wage, i guess.

In a society where there are still more single mothers than fathers, women are still not getting equal pay. At least in Chile, employers can claim it's because they're providing childcare.

By min | April 16, 2015, 8:30 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Preserving Old Video Games Will Apparently Bring On the Apocalypse

Or the destruction of the video game industry, according to the Entertainment Software Association.

EFF, along with law student Kendra Albert, is asking the Copyright Office to give some legal protection to game enthusiasts, museums, and academics who preserve older video games and keep them playable. We're asking for an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anti-circumvention provisions (Section 1201) for those who modify games to keep them working after the servers they need are shut down. Many player communities, along with museums, archives, and researchers, want to keep the games they own playable after publishers shut down the servers the games depend on. Section 1201 creates legal difficulty for these communities, which is why we've asked the Copyright Office to give them an exemption.

Section 1201 is often used by the entertainment industries not to prevent copyright infringement but to control markets and lock out competition. So it's not surprising that ESA (the trade association for the largest game producers), along with MPAA and RIAA, have written to the Copyright Office to oppose this exemption. They say that modifying games to connect to a new server (or to avoid contacting a server at all) after publisher support ends--letting people continue to play the games they paid for--will destroy the video game industry. They say it would "undermine the fundamental copyright principles on which our copyright laws are based."

If they aren't going to maintain the servers and no longer want to make money off the games, why shouldn't people who already own it have a way to keep playing that game? How many times have you gone back to play Super Nintendo Zelda? Yeah, mebbe some people would make some money selling it to people who didn't originally own the game, but how does that compare to how much video game companies already made on the old, unmaintained game and will continue to make on newer games? Having the ability to play an older game isn't going to make people suddenly decide they are done buying new games. Exactly how will it destroy the industry?

By min | April 9, 2015, 8:53 AM | Liberal Outrage & Video Games | Comments (4)| Link

Well then fuck the Board of Trustees

Fidelity Board of Trustees love genocide

By fnord12 | April 3, 2015, 10:05 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

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