"There is substantial evidence that some of these fires have been caused by people who have crossed our border illegally," Sen. McCain (R-AZ) told reporters on Saturday at a press conference. "The answer to that part of the problem is to get a secure border."’
Arizona is in the midst of battling a pair of huge blazes, the Horseshoe 2 fire and the more recent Wallow fire. Spokesmen for the forest service and for the federal group managing the disaster both told ABC News that while the ongoing Wallow fire was “human” caused, there was no evidence illegal immigrants were involved. The cause of the Horseshoe 2 fire is listed as “human,” but that’s as specific as it gets.
Immigrant rights groups jumped on McCain’s remarks, saying that the Senator was whipping up nativist sentiment with his response.
"With the lack of evidence, he might as well also blame aliens from outer space for the fires," the president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, Angelo Falcon, told CNN.
There’s another significant and telling parallel between Obama’s illegal war and the Bush eavesdropping scandal. One of the questions frequently asked about the NSA scandal was why Bush and Cheney decided to eavesdrop in violation of the law rather than having Congress approve their program; in the wake of 9/11, both parties in Congress were as subservient as could be, and would have offered zero resistance to requests by the administration for increased eavesdropping powers (the same question was asked of Bush’s refusal to seek Congressional approval for the detention and military commissions regime at Guantanamo). The answer to that question ultimately became clear: they did not want to seek Congressional approval, even though they easily could have obtained it, because they wanted to establish the “principle” that the President is omnipotent in these areas and needs nobody’s permission (neither from Congress nor the courts) to do what the President wants.
Of all the many political sex scandals of the last twenty-five years or so, none has had such a high ratio of political lethality to concrete caddishness as the Weiner affair. In the caddishness category, consider what Congressman Weiner did not do:
• Commit adultery • Fornicate • Hook up • Patronize prostitutes • Seduce an intern • Seduce a congressional page • Get divorced • Get divorced serially • Get divorced with children at vulnerable ages • Hypocritically embrace prudish “family values” • Advocate “abstinence” • Lie about sex under oath • Demonize his own sexual orientation • Demand that some other politician resign because of some sexual misbehavior • Break up somebody else’s marriage • Make an assistant take the fall for getting a mistress pregnant • Fly to South America to see a mistress on Father’s Day while leaving wifey home with the kids • Pay off a mistress or a mistress’s husband • Have a mistress • Break a law
There are plenty of strictly political reasons why Anthony Weiner was forced to walk the plank while others whose behavior was more morally reprehensible were not, and those reasons are getting a thorough airing at the moment. But certain cultural, or media-cultural, factors are perhaps more interesting.
The bad things Weiner did do—his sins, let’s call them for convenience, without embracing the churchy implications—were, once revealed, a hundred per cent visible. And a hundred per cent of them were visible. They were a hundred per cent documented. No he said/she said this time, no need for witnesses, no need for testimony. No need for “evidence”—because the evidence was the sin, and the sin the evidence.
“You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn’t black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing. You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, fuck it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing. I’m tired of Republican-Democrat politics. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I’m trying to do the right thing, and that’s where I’m going with this.”—Republican New York Senator Comes Out For Gay Marriage With Awesome Quote
And conditions are even worse for some in Florida’s tomato industry. In the chilling words of Douglas Molloy, chief assistant United States attorney in Fort Myers, South Florida’s tomato fields are “ground zero for modern-day slavery.” Molloy is not talking about virtual slavery, or near slavery, or slaverylike conditions, but real slavery. In the last 15 years, Florida law enforcement officials have freed more than 1,000 men and women who had been held and forced to work against their will in the fields of Florida, and that represents only the tip of the iceberg. Most instances of slavery go unreported. Workers were “sold” to crew bosses to pay off bogus debts, beaten if they didn’t work, held in chains, pistol whipped, locked at night into shacks in chain-link enclosures patrolled by armed guards. Escapees who got caught were beaten or worse. Even though police have successfully prosecuted seven major slavery cases in the state in the last 15 years, those brought to justice were low-ranking contract field managers, themselves only one or two shaky rungs up the economic ladder from those they enslaved. The wealthy owners of the vast farms walked away scot-free. They expressed no public regrets, let alone outrage, that such conditions existed on operations they controlled. But we all share the blame. When I asked Molloy if it was safe to assume that a consumer who has eaten a fresh tomato from a grocery store, fast food restaurant, or food-service company in the winter has eaten a fruit picked by the hand of a slave, he corrected my choice of words. “It’s not an assumption. It is a fact.”
After much research and hard work, Hardaker came up with a working definition. A troll is someone “who constructs the identity of sincerely wishing to be part of the group in question, including professing or conveying pseudo-sincere intentions, but whose real intention(s) is/are to cause disruption and/or to trigger or exacerbate conflict for the purposes of their own amusement”.
She arrived at this after much trawling through data. Lots of data. A “172-million-word corpus of unmoderated, asynchronous computer-mediated communication”, a nine-year collection of commentary in an online discussion group about horse riding. She focused in on the huge number of passages where people mentioned trolls, trolling, trolled, trollish, trolldom, and other variations on the key word “troll”.
Distilling the wisdom, Hardaker set up this handy guide to interacting with trolls:
"Trolling can (1) be frustrated if users correctly interpret an intent to troll, but are not provoked into responding, (2) be thwarted if users correctly interpret an intent to troll, but counter in such a way as to curtail or neutralise the success of the troller, (3) fail if users do not correctly interpret an intent to troll and are not provoked by the troller, or, (4) succeed if users are deceived into believing the troller’s pseudo-intention(s), and are provoked into responding sincerely. Finally, users can mock troll. That is, they may undertake what appears to be trolling with the aim of enhancing or increasing effect, or group cohesion.
As the country recovers from the financial crisis that saw the collapse of its banks and government, it is using social media to get its citizens to share their ideas as to what the new document should contain.
"I believe this is the first time a constitution is being drafted basically on the internet," said Thorvaldur Gylfason, member of Iceland’s constitutional council.
"The public sees the constitution come into being before their eyes … This is very different from old times where constitution makers sometimes found it better to find themselves a remote spot out of sight, out of touch."
Iceland’s existing constitution dates back to when it gained independence from Denmark in 1944. It simply took the Danish constitution and made a few minor adjustments, such as substituting the word “president” for “king”.
In creating the new document, the council has been posting draft clauses on its website every week since the project launched in April. The public can comment underneath or join a discussion on the council’s Facebook page.
The council also has a Twitter account, a YouTube page where interviews with its members are regularly posted, and a Flickr account containing pictures of the 25 members at work, all intended to maximise interaction with citizens.
Anthony D. Weinerof New York said on Saturday that he was entering a psychological treatment center and seeking a leave of absence from the House to deal with a pattern of reckless online behavior with women.
Mr. Weiner, who friends say has become distraught and fragile in recent days, will use the leave to think about his future and whether to leave Congress, a possibility he has not entirely ruled out, a person close to him said.
Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person,” said his spokeswoman, Risa Heller. “In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well.”
Ms. Heller would not identify the facility or the precise kind of counseling Mr. Weiner, who has admitted having explicit communications with six women he met online, would receive. She stressed that he was carefully considering the calls from his fellow lawmakers urging him to give up his seat.
“In this interview, Ellsberg says, “Richard Nixon, if he were alive today, would feel vindicated that all the crimes he committed against me–which forced his resignation facing impeachment–are now legal. ” (Thanks to the Patriot Act and other laws passed in recent years.) And he says all presidents since Nixon have violated the constitution, most recently President Obama, with the bombing of Libya.”—Daniel Ellsberg: All the crimes Richard Nixon committed against me are now legal
Twitter as a weapon of war? NATO has scrambled warplanes against Moamer Kadhafi’s forces after Libyans tweeted troop movements on the micro-blogging website, alliance officials said.
Twitter and Facebook are among a wide range of media and other sources NATO’s intelligence officers monitor around-the-clock to identify potential targets in the air war against Kadhafi’s troops, the officials said.
"We will take information from every source we can," said British Wing Commander Mike Bracken, the Libya operation’s military spokesman. "We get information from open sources on the Internet, we get Twitter."
A NATO official said Libyans have been tweeting from the rebel-held city of Misrata, Ajdabiya and Tripoli, providing information ranging from movements of troops and tank columns to shellings of towns and fleeing refugees.
"Twitter is a great source," the official said on condition of anonymity.
As drug cartels wreak murderous havoc from Mexico to Panama, the Obama administration is unable to show that the billions of dollars spent in the war on drugs have significantly stemmed the flow of illegal narcotics into the United States, according to two government reports and outside experts.
The reports specifically criticize the government’s growing use of U.S. contractors, which were paid more than $3 billion to train local prosecutors and police, help eradicate fields of coca, operate surveillance equipment and otherwise battle the widening drug trade in Latin America over the last five years.
"We are wasting tax dollars and throwing money at a problem without even knowing what we are getting in return," said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who chairs the Senate subcommittee that wrote one of the reports, which was released Wednesday.
"I think we have wasted our money hugely," agreed Bruce Bagley, who studies U.S. counter-narcotics efforts and chairs international studies at the University of Miami at Coral Gables, Fla. "The effort has had corrosive effects on every country it has touched."
Obama administration officials strongly deny that U.S. efforts have failed to reduce drug production or smuggling in Latin America.
Internet access is a human right, according to a United Nations report released on Friday.
"Given that the Internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring universal access to the Internet should be a priority for all states," said the report from Frank La Rue, a special rapporteur to the United Nations, who wrote the document "on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression."
La Rue said in his report that access to the Internet is particularly important during times of political unrest, as demonstrated by the recent “Arab Spring” uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, among other countries.
“Imagine a President Donald Trump with the media holdings of Rupert Murdoch and the sexual tastes of an aging Charlie Sheen, and you’re approaching the idea of Berlusconi.”—Silvio Berlusconi: La Dolce Viagra
Radio and television news anchors may no longer say the words “Facebook” and “Twitter” on air, unless the terms are part of a news story. This prohibits French news organizations from urging their audience to “follow us on Twitter” or “check out or Facebook page,” or other such promotions.
“Jeane Wharton, executive director of the U.S. Dry Bean Council, couldn’t be more delighted with Thursday’s news. “Beans are a great protein, and they’re also a vegetable,” says Wharton, who observes that her industry’s product benefits twice from the new image.”—
I wish my job was to make these kinds of observations, about beans.