Former CIA agent John Kiriakou speaks out just days after he was sentenced to 30 months in prison, becoming the first CIA official to face jail time for any reason relating to the U.S. torture program. Under a plea deal, Kiriakou admitted to a single count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by revealing the identity of a covert officer to a freelance reporter, who did not publish it. Supporters say Kiriakou is being unfairly targeted for having been the first CIA official to publicly confirm and detail the Bush administration’s use of waterboarding. Kiriakou joins us to discuss his story from Washington, D.C., along with his attorney, Jesselyn Radack, director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project. “This … was not a case about leaking; this was a case about torture. And I believe I’m going to prison because I blew the whistle on torture,” Kiriakou says. “My oath was to the Constitution. … And to me, torture is unconstitutional.” [inlcudes rush transcript]
PBS‘ Frontline program on Tuesday night broadcast a new one-hour report on one of the greatest and most shameful failings of the Obama administration: the lack of even a single arrest or prosecution of any senior Wall Street banker for the systemic fraud that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis: a crisis from which millions of people around the world are still suffering. What this program particularly demonstrated was that the Obama justice department, in particular the Chief of its Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, never even tried to hold the high-level criminals accountable.
What Obama justice officials did instead is exactly what they did in the face of high-level Bush era crimes of torture and warrantless eavesdropping: namely, acted to protect the most powerful factions in the society in the face of overwhelming evidence of serious criminality. Indeed, financial elites were not only vested with immunity for their fraud, but thrived as a result of it, even as ordinary Americans continue to suffer the effects of that crisis.
Worst of all, Obama justice officials both shielded and feted these Wall Street oligarchs (who, just by the way, overwhelmingly supported Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign) as they simultaneously prosecuted and imprisoned powerless Americans for far more trivial transgressions. As Harvard law professor Larry Lessig put it two weeks ago when expressing anger over the DOJ’s persecution of Aaron Swartz: “we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House.” (Indeed, as “The Untouchables” put it: while no senior Wall Street executives have been prosecuted, “many small mortgage brokers, loan appraisers and even home buyers” have been).
Comment from reader:
Marx’s description of the French finance aristocracy of the 1840’s in The Class Struggles In France could not be more appropriate in describing the 21st Century Wall Street masters of the universe:
“Since the finance aristocracy made the laws, was at the head of the administration of the state, had command of all the organized public authorities, dominated public opinion through the actual state of affairs and through the press, the same prostitution, the same shameless cheating, the same mania to get rich was repeated in every sphere, from the court to the Cafe Borgne to get rich not by production, but by pocketing the already available wealth of others, Clashing every moment with the bourgeois laws themselves, an unbridled assertion of unhealthy and dissolute appetites manifested itself, particularly at the top of bourgeois society- lusts wherein wealth derived from gambling naturally seeks its satisfaction, where pleasure becomes debauched, where money, filth, and blood commingle. The finance aristocracy, in its mode of acquisition as well as in its pleasures, is nothing but the rebirth of the lumpenproletariat on the heights of bourgeois society”.
You would have thought by now that people would understand that DRM is not only a bad idea, but totally unnecessary: Apple dropped DRM from music downloads in 2009 and seems to bemaking ends meet. Despite these obvious truths, the stupidity that is DRM continues to spread. Here, for example, is a particularly stupid example of DRM stupidity, as revealed by Manu Sporny:
A few days ago, a new proposal was put forward in the HTML Working Group (HTML WG) by Microsoft, Netflix, and Google to take DRM in HTML5 to the next stage of standardization at W3C.
After all, this is exactly what Web users have been crying out for: “just give us DRM for the Web, and our lives will be complete….”
Sporny runs through some technical reasons why this is doomed to failure — little things like sending decryption keys in the clear — and points out the awful re-balkanization of the Web that it would cause:
The EME [Encrypted Media Extensions] specification does not specify a DRM scheme in the specification, rather it explains the architecture for a DRM plug-in mechanism. This will lead to plug-in proliferation on the Web. Plugins are something that are detrimental to inter-operability because it is inevitable that the DRM plugin vendors will not be able to support all platforms at all times. So, some people will be able to view content, others will not.
He also notes a fundamental problem with the following Use Case for the proposed technology:
What use cases does this support?
Everything from user-generated content to be shared with family (user is not an adversary) to online radio to feature-length movies.
That clearly implies that when people are not sharing their own content with family and friends, then they are indeed adversaries:
This “user is not an adversary” text can be found in the first question about use cases. It insinuates that people that listen to radio and watch movies online are potential adversaries. As a business owner, I think that’s a terrible way to frame your customers.
Thinking of the people that are using the technology that you’re specifying as “adversaries” is also largely wrong. 99.999% of people using DRM-based systems to view content are doing it legally. The folks that are pirating content are not sitting down and viewing the DRM stream, they have acquired a non-DRM stream from somewhere else, like Mega or The Pirate Bay, and are watching that.
This is the fundamental reason why DRM is doomed and should be discarded: the only people it annoys are the ones who have tried to support creators by acquiring legal copies. How stupid is that?
A senior British rabbi has been filmed telling an alleged victim of child sexual abuse not to go to the police.
Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, who is leader of the UK’s Strictly Orthodox Jewish community, told the alleged victim that it was “mesira”, or forbidden, to report a suspected Jewish sex offender to a non-Jewish authority.
Meet the HTC Mini. Though you might mistake it for the phone you had in 2006, it’s an accessory for the HTC Butterfly (known as the Droid DNA in the U.S.). Chinese Butterfly owners can use the Mini to make and take calls without removing their super-sized phones from their pockets.
Interestingly, the skiers and riders who were the most likely, in general, to don a helmet were the most expert, the men and women with the most talent and hours on the slopes. Experience seemed to have taught them the value of a helmet.
If you ever connected to the Internet before the 2000s, you probably remember that it made a peculiar sound. But despite becoming so familiar, it remained a mystery for most of us. What do these sounds mean?
As many already know, what you’re hearing is often called a handshake, the start of a telephone conversation between two modems. The modems are trying to find a common language and determine the weaknesses of the telephone channel originally meant for human speech.
Below is a spectrogram of the handshake audio. I’ve labeled some signals according to which party transmitted them, and also put a concise explanation below.
(The audio is on Wikimedia Commons)
As the data show, China is now burning almost as much coal as the rest of the world — combined. And despite impressive support from Beijing for renewable energy and a dawning understanding about the dangers of air pollution, coal use in China is poised to continue rising, if slower than it has in recent years. That’s deadly for the Chinese people — see the truly horrific air pollution in Beijing this past month — and it’s dangerous for the rest of the world. Coal already accounts for 20% of global greenhouse-gas emissions, making it one of the biggest causes of man-made climate change. Combine that with the direct damage that air pollution from coal combustion does to human health, and there’s a reason why some have called coal the enemy of the human race.
Of course, there’s a reason why coal is so popular in China and in much of the rest of the world: it’s very, very cheap. And that’s why, despite the danger coal poses to health and the environment, neither China nor many other rapidly growing developing nations are likely to turn away from it. (If you really want to get scared, see this report from the International Energy Agency — hat tip to Ed Crooks of the Financial Times — which notes that by 2017, India could be burning more coal than China.) That’s likely to remain the case in poor nations until clean energy can compete with coal on price — and that day hasn’t come yet.
We’ve all been there: you need a portentous motto for your new liberal arts college, crack military unit, or world-encompassing secret society, but you just don’t speak Latin. No problēma! If the grand list of Latin phrases doesn’t have what you’re looking for, there’s always the Latin Motto Generator.
And for those dreams in which you’re a viking: the Old Norse Motto Generator.
Many would assume that BP””the company responsible for the Gulf Coast disaster””will cover the entire cost of cleanup. But we learned from the Exxon Valdez spill that the reality is very different:
The Exxon Valdez tanker spilled more than 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound, which eventually contaminated approximately 1,300 miles of shoreline. The total costs of Exxon Valdez, including both cleanup and also “fines, penalties and claims settlements,” ran as much as $7 billion. Cleanup of the affected region alone cost at least $2.5 billion, and much oil remains.
Yet Exxon made high profits even in the aftermath of the most expensive oil spill in history. They made $3.8 billion profit in 1989 and $5 billion in 1990. And this occurred while Exxon disputed cleanup costs nearly every step of the way.
Exxon fought paying damages and appealed court decisions multiple times, and they have still not paid in full. Years of fighting and court appeals on Exxon’s part finally concluded with a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2008 that found that Exxon only had to pay $507.5 million of the original 1994 court decree for $5 billion in punitive damages. And as of 2009, Exxon had paid only $383 million of this $507.5 million to those who sued, stalling on the rest and fighting the $500 million in interest owed to fishermen and other small businesses from more than 12 years of litigation.
Twenty years later, some of the original plaintiffs are no longer alive to receive, or continue fighting for, their damages. An estimated 8,000 of the original Exxon Valdez plaintiffs have died since the spill while waiting for their compensation as Exxon fought them in court.
Coastal regions and coastlines of the Prince William Sound are still contaminated. The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council’s 2009 status report finds that as much as 16,000 gallons of oil remains in the sound’s intertidal zones today. A 2001 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study surveyed 96 sites along 8,000 miles of coastline and found that “a total area of approximately 20 acres of shoreline in Prince William Sound is still contaminated with oil. Oil was found at 58 percent of the 91 sites assessed and is estimated to have the linear equivalent of 5.8 km of contaminated shoreline.”