Shediac, New Brunswick
My wife is very talented. :-)
Shediac, New Brunswick
My wife is very talented. :-)
My latest post is bashing the video games industry for their shameless attempts to keep us connected to their servers while we try and play the games we paid for. Seriously, fuck those guys. :)
The domain is bought, and the first post is made. I will still use Tumblr from time to time, but I need to try and reach a larger audience and have a more business-like place for my writings. Please support my blog by sharing this link and having a good read of my first post, a review of Canadian environment policy
Alright, so here we are, 21st century, and equality is still out of reach. Women get paid less, and are under siege in places like India, but another problem exists: women are getting extra special treatment that throws the needle away from equality. The article describes a woman who sexually molested young boys, pleaded not-guilty in the face of overwhelming evidence, and was let off the hook. Why is that? Well, one has to assume it is because she is a woman, since a man in that situation would be spending the foreseeable future behind bars. She leaves court with a smirk on her face, and gets a slap on the wrist.
Now, this is one example, but the article presents many others. Anyone without their head up their ass knows that there is a gender bias towards women in many regards. No one is debating that, but there are other issues besides letting women catch up to men, like taking them down off this pedistal of outdated chivalry that exists in the UK courts today. Quoting:
“In 2010, judges were formally advised to go softer on female criminals, thanks to the (ironically titled) Equal Treatment Bench Book - published by the Judicial Studies Board.
Where is the equality in that?”
Where indeed. Apparently holding women to the same standard, from a justice point of view, as men is the cruelest form of oppression. /end rant
ok like i respect the screamo community even though i don’t listen to that kind of music but this is downright HILARIOUS
I would watch American Idol more if this was the kind of thing they accepted. That she was mocked is sort of sad, since she was pretty decent.
Quoting from 4:25 -
“People fortunate enough to have been randomly born white in the First World are the most privileged mother-fuckers on this unequal fucking planet, and modern warfare games are basically those people complaining about how tough life can be when everyone’s jealous of you. It’s like when white dudes complain about being victims of racism cause all the people they used to enslave are making fun of them, or when Christians cry about being persecuted because the government wants to recognize that men can be into the cock.
Just to underline it, the villain is behind an organization of the world’s underclasses, so you can add the poor to the growing list of peoples the audience of Black Ops 2 feels threatened by.
But perhaps I shouldn’t dwell on the politics. The occasionally sympathetic portrayal of the villain and that whole chapter where you’re called upon to defend a repulsively decadent future city for rich people does show a degree of self-awareness on Bl-Ops 2’s part. I honestly can’t be asked to speculate what degree of irony we may or may not be operating on… .”
—> I find this pretty hilarious, really. Video games have been shifting our perspectives lately and tugging on our heart strings to make us feel bad for things, but to feel bad for the peoples of the First World because the rest of the world is sick of us bombing them back to the stone age via remote control from a trailer in Massachusetts is not something I am capable of. I feel bad for the peoples of Afghanistan, Haiti and Pakistan, where the NATO powers are constantly flexing their muscles and testing their new hardware. I do not feel bad for the drone pilot from New Mexico with Carpel Tunnel Syndrome because he’s spent too many hours using a joystick attached to a Reaper Drone, killing civilians.
“You don’t want to mess with Mary Jo.”
That’s what President Obama said about his pick to run the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mary Jo White. The nomination of Ms. White, a former prosecutor who took on the terrorists behind the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and the Mafia boss John Gotti, was meant to signal that the S.E.C. would be getting tough on Wall Street. CBS called her “Wall Street’s new sheriff.” The Wall Street Journal said she would be “putting a tougher face on an agency still tainted by embarrassing enforcement missteps in the run-up to the financial crisis.” The New York Times said her appointment represented a “renewed resolve to hold Wall Street accountable.”
While Ms. White is a decorated prosecutor, she has spent the last decade vigorously defending — and billing by the hour — Wall Street’s biggest banks, as a rainmaking partner at the white-shoe law firm Debevoise & Plimpton. The average partner at the firm was paid $2.1 million a year, according to American Lawyer; but she was no average partner, very likely being paid at least double that. Her husband, John W. White, is a corporate partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. He counts JPMorgan Chase, Credit Suisse and UBS as clients. The average partner at Cravath makes $3.1 million. He, too, was a former official at the S.E.C. — he left Cravath to run the corporate division of the S.E.C. starting in 2006 just in time for the run-up to the financial crisis. He left in November 2008, a month after the bank bailouts, to return to Cravath.
It seems Mr. and Ms. White have made a fine art of the revolving door between government and private practice.
So how conflicted is Ms. White? Let’s count the ways.
They are well documented: she was JPMorgan Chase’s go-to lawyer for many of the cases brought against it relating to the financial crisis. She was arm-in-arm with Kenneth D. Lewis, Bank of America’s former chief executive, keeping him out of trouble when the New York attorney general accused Mr. Lewis of defrauding investors by not disclosing the losses at Merrill Lynch before completing Bank of America’s acquisition of the firm. (And empirically, Mr. Lewis did keep crucial information about the deal from investors.)
This is what she had to say about Mr. Lewis, in a court filing submitted on his behalf: “Some have looked to assign blame for every aspect of the financial crisis, even where there is no evidence of misconduct. This case is a product of that dynamic and does not withstand either legal or factual scrutiny.” It was a refrain she often made about her clients related to the financial crisis.
And then there was Senator Bill Frist, the Republican from Tennessee, whom she successfully represented when the S.E.C. and the Justice Department started an investigation into whether he was involved in insider trading in shares of HCA, the hospital chain. She persuaded them to shut down the investigation.
She also worked with Siemens, the German industrial giant, when it pleaded guilty to charges of bribery, paying a record $1.6 billion penalty.
And then, of course, there was John Mack. She worked for the board of Morgan Stanley during a now well-publicized 2005 investigation into insider trading that ended soon after she made a phone call to the S.E.C. Using her connections at the top of the agency, she dialed up Linda Thomsen, then the commission’s head of enforcement, to find out whether Mr. Mack, who was being considered for Morgan Stanley’s chief executive position, was being implicated. He ultimately wasn’t. As the Huffington Post pointed out in a recent article about Ms. White, Robert Hanson, an S.E.C. supervisor, later testified, “It is a little out of the ordinary for Mary Jo White to contact Linda Thomsen directly, but that White is very prestigious and it isn’t uncommon for someone prominent to have someone intervene on their behalf.”
All of Ms. White’s previous engagements create not only an “optics” problem, but a practical, on-the-job problem. She will most likely need to recuse herself from just about anything related to her previous work.
“I will not for a period of two years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts,” is the language in an ethics pledge that she will have to agree to follow.
Some appointees, including Mary L. Schapiro, the former chairwoman of the S.E.C., recused themselves from any involvement in work that was related to a previous employer even after the two-year moratorium. Gary Gensler, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, recused himself from the investigation into MF Global because of his previous employment at Goldman Sachs, where Jon Corzine was the firm’s head, even though it had been years since the two had worked together.
And then there is the issue of Mr. White’s husband, who will have a continuing role at Cravath, one of the most pre-eminent firms in the country, whose clients include some of the nation’s largest corporations.
“This president has adopted the toughest ethics rules of any administration in history,” said Amy Brundage, a White House spokeswoman, “and this nominee is no exception. As S.E.C. chair, Mary Jo White will be in complete compliance with all ethics rules.”
None of these conflicts gets at another potential problem for Ms. White. The job of chairwoman of S.E.C. isn’t simply about enforcement; she has a deputy for that. The biggest challenge anyone who takes the job will have to confront over the next several years will be executing and enforcing provisions of Dodd-Frank and working to regulate electronic trading — something that even the most sophisticated financial professionals, let alone a lawyer, often have a tough time understanding. She has zero experience in this area.
—> This is one of the biggest conflict of interests I have ever seen. It would make more sense to appoint Bill Maher as Pope. America is in the midst of a change that is going to hurt them very badly in the long term and the short term, but a lot of people on the left are blind to it because it’s their guy in charge, and he was supposed to clean this mess up. Since that isn’t happening, we have drone strikes targeting people all around the world for murder with no trial, invasions of sovereign nations to murder people with, again, no trials, and big banks are making sure they get to stay in the business of gambling with people’s futures by making sure the people who are in charge of investigating them are good friends from the past.
“Prosecutors destroy a life.” That could be a headline in every newspaper every day in a land where the answer to every problem (and many nonproblems) is police and prisons. When 26-year-old Internet prodigy and freedom of information activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide on January 11, the tragedy was the direct result of US attorneys deciding to throw criminal charges at him for violating a website’s “terms of services” while accessing publicly subsidized academic research. Swartz entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s open campus, accessed its open network and downloaded a few million academic articles owned by the digital library JSTOR, whose database contains content belonging to hundreds of publishers. JSTOR and MIT now insist they would have been only too happy to drop the matter, but prosecutors pushed forward, throwing four felony charges at Swartz, who then faced a maximum sentence of thirty-five years in prison, along with fines of up to $1 million. Prosecutors shoveled on nine more felony counts in September, bringing the total to thirteen.
The Justice Department’s legal assault on Swartz is of a vindictive piece with the prosecution of others who have carried important information into the public realm. Front and center is 25-year-old Bradley Manning, the Iraq War enlistee accused of being WikiLeaks’s source in the military. The restricted foreign policy documents that Manning allegedly released don’t amount to even 1 percent of the 92 million items the government classified last year, but the young private faces life in prison at his court-martial in June for the charge, among twenty-one others, of “aiding the enemy.” Then there’s Jeremy Hammond, age 28, who in his freshman year at the University of Illinois hacked the computer science department’s home page, then told them how they could fix its problem. He got thrown out of school for that; now he’s in a federal prison facing thirty-nine years to life, charged with various hacks and leaks (all apparently led by an FBI informant) including the 5 million internal e-mails of Stratfor, a private security firm hired by corporations to surveil private citizens, among other activities.
Barack Obama once campaigned as a friend to whistleblowers. Yet his Justice Department has launched twice as many Espionage Act prosecutions against domestic leakers as all previous administrations combined. One defendant, former National Security Agency official Thomas Drake, resembles an older version of Swartz: a former math and chess prodigy, Drake saw wanton illegality in the NSA’s post-9/11 surveillance program. When his internal complaints went nowhere, he went to The Baltimore Sun. The case against Drake crumpled on contact with a courtroom, but it was enough to ruin his career and financial well-being. Drake pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and now works at an Apple Store when he isn’t attending Bradley Manning’s court hearings.
Too often the cause of open information is dismissed as a geek fetish, a tedious hobby for the IT crowd. This is a grave error, as the high barriers around information are literally killing us. Larry Korb, former assistant secretary of defense, has told me he doesn’t think the Iraq War—endpoint of a debate starved of meaningful information, which has slaughtered hundreds of thousands—would have happened had unredacted intelligence reports been made more public.
Circulation of knowledge is a social justice issue, too. Dean Baker estimates that reforming the patent law regime for pharmaceuticals—currently a system that guarantees Big Pharma’s monopolies—would shrink annual spending on prescription drugs from $300 billion to $30 billion, a savings some five times the annual cost of Bush’s tax cut for the richest 2 percent. Meanwhile, grotesquely prolonged copyrights for literary and artistic properties are fencing off the cultural commons, a boot on the throat of a generation’s creative voice.
Prosecutors have cast activists like Swartz as cyber-terrorist Bond villains. In reality, they are more like earnest variations on Lisa Simpson. Swartz’s account of how he got involved with the fight to stop the SOPA/PIPA intellectual property bill in Congress reads like a Capra-esque rhapsody to American democracy. Manning, neck-deep in the worst foreign-policy disaster since Vietnam, hoped his leaks would lead to “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms” because “without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” Jeremy Hammond’s rhetoric admittedly tends to the extra-spicy, but many of his alleged misdeeds—revealing corporate spying on ordinary citizens—are a public service. Is getting the truth out really such a bad thing?
To be sure, the truth alone has never been enough to set anyone free. And truth, whether about foreign civilians killed or domestic surveillance programs, is very often the last thing people want. District attorneys know this. Perhaps the greatest tribute to the power of knowledge is the prosecutorial state’s panicked attempts to suppress it.
The notion that information should be easy to come by was not cooked up at the annual DefCon hacker conference. It was James Madison who wrote, “Popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both.” In the year 2013, such an Enlightenment cliché should not be sounding radical. (It is only since the summer of 2011 that Washington finished declassifying material from the Madison administration—a lag measured in centuries.)
The death of Aaron Swartz has rallied a small counterattack against the know-nothing state: mild law professors are spitting nails about bullying prosecutors, and the US attorney overseeing the case, Carmen Ortiz, no longer has a bright future in Massachusetts politics. “Aaron’s Law,” a bill proposed by Representative Zoe Lofgren, would prune the overreaching Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and even right-wing Senator John Cornyn is asking whether the case against Swartz was retaliation for the activist’s assertive use of Freedom of Information Act requests.
These are good developments, but they are overshadowed by runaway overclassification, toothless whistleblower-protection laws and an intellectual property regime driven by greed alone. Ignorance enforced by police and prosecutors will not bring us security, wealth or justice.
William F. Baker writes that the FTC’s investigation of Google has skirted the issue of the search-engine giant’s ability to restrict readers’ access to news.