Daily Archives: June 13, 2016
Written by Dan Wright 2016-06-09
Here we go again. Earlier this year, some were surprised to see Project For The New American Century (PNAC) co-founder and longtime DC fixture Robert Kagan endorse former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president
|Screenshot from cover of “EXTENDING AMERICAN POWER: Strategies to Expand U.S. Engagement in a Competitive World Order” by the Center for a New American Security.|
Here we go again. Earlier this year, some were surprised to see Project For The New American Century (PNAC) co-founder and longtime DC fixture Robert Kagan endorse former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president.
They shouldn’t have been. As is now clear from a policy paper [PDF] published last month, the neoconservatives are going all-in on Hillary Clinton being the best vessel for American power in the years ahead.
The paper, titled “Expanding American Power,” was published by the Center for a New American Security, a Democratic Party-friendly think tank co-founded and led by former Undersecretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy. Flournoy served in the Obama Administration under Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and is widely considered to be the frontrunner for the next secretary of defense, should Hillary Clinton become president.
The introduction to Expanding American Power is written by the aforementioned Robert Kagan and former Clinton Administration State Department official James Rubin. The paper itself was prepared in consultation with various defense and national security intellectuals over the course of six dinners. Among the officials includes those who signed on to PNAC letters calling for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, such as Elliot Abrams, Robert Zoellick, Craig Kennedy, Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross, and Flournoy herself, who signed on to a PNAC letter in 2005 calling for more ground troops in Iraq.
The substance of the document is about what one would expect from an iteration of PNAC. The paper cites a highly revisionist history of post-World War II American policymaking, complete with a celebration of America’s selfless motives for every action. Left out is any mention of overthrowing democratically elected and popular governments for US business, or the subsequent blowback for such actions in Latin America, the Middle East, and elsewhere.
For the neocons and liberal interventionists at the Center for a New American Security, the United States has always acted for the benefit of all.
The paper primarily focuses on the economy and defense budget, and American security interests in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Supporting the Trans-pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are considered the highest priority, as they will bind the main drivers of the US-led “liberal world order”—the US and Europe—closer together.
According to the paper, “Even in a world of shifting economic and political power, the transatlantic community remains both the foundation and the core of the liberal world order.” In other words, the West must maintain control of the planet, for the good of all, of course.
Part of the European concerns are a rise in nationalist sentiment in eastern Europe and the United Kingdom, for which the paper blames Russia, even bizarrely claiming that Russian funding is the cause of the disunity within the European Union—a claim without foundation, especially in the UK’s case.
The revisionist history continues, as the paper makes an astonishingly absurd claim on the US role in Asia, stating, “U.S. leadership has been indispensable in ensuring a stable balance of power in Asia the past 70 years.” No mention of the calamitous US war in Vietnam or its reciprocal effects in the killing fields of Cambodia. Nor is the US role in the genocide in East Timor dispensed with anywhere.
Then we come to the Middle East, where things really get slippery. The paper breezes past the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with a sorry, not sorry statement: “Despite recent American misjudgments and failures in the Middle East, for which all recent administrations, including the present one, bear some responsibility, and despite the apparent intractability of many of the problems in the region, the United States has no choice but to engage itself fully in a determined, multi-year effort to find an acceptable resolution to the many crises tearing the region apart.”
And with that, the paper demands regime change in Syria and that “Any such political solution must include the departure of Bashar al-Assad (but not necessarily all members of the ruling regime), since it is Assad’s brutal repression of Syria’s majority Sunni population that has created both the massive exodus and the increase in support for jihadist groups like ISIS.” Left out is the US role in destabilizing Iraq and arming jihadist rebels in Syria.
The paper goes on to regurgitate alarmingly facile claims about regional tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia that could have been written by the government of Saudi Arabia itself, such as, “We also reject Iran’s attempt to blame others for regional tensions it is aggravating, as well as its public campaign to demonize the government of Saudi Arabia.” It also states that “the United States must adopt as a matter of policy the goal of defeating Iran’s determined effort to dominate the Greater Middle East.”
If that appears like a commitment to more reckless regime change in the Middle East, that’s because it is.
But the overriding concern of the entire paper, with all its declarations about bipartisanship and universal altruism, is a concern with the American people being increasingly apprehensive towards the empire, and that concern leading to further defense budget cuts and unwillingness to support adventurism abroad.
The authors of the paper hope an improved economy can help change the current situation. “Ensuring that the domestic economy is lifting up the average American is still the best way to ensure support for global engagement and also contribute to a stronger, more influential America,” they write, though they see no end in sight, regardless of public support, claiming, “the task of preserving a world order is both difficult and never-ending.”
That this is what a think tank closely associated with Hillary Clinton is openly claiming should be concerning to all. While such analysis and declarations no doubt please the Center for a New American Security’s defense contractor donors, the American people are less-than-enthused with perpetual war for perpetual peace.
Former Secretary Clinton already affirmed her belief in regime change during the campaign, but now it looks like those waiting in the wings to staff her government are anxious to wet their bayonets.
Comment: Thought the neocons went away with George Dubya? No such luck. The “f***ing crazies”, as Colin Powell called them, are just as influential and powerful – and just as crazy and destructive – as ever.
GNU IceCat is a little-known Web browser released by the GNU Project. It is based on Mozilla Firefox, but it lacks proprietary features and includes additional privacy protection. This Freesite offers instructions on how to use GNU IceCat for regular everyday Web browsing.
While abandoned in the past, IceCat development has resumed and is based on Mozilla Firefox ESR, the organization-targeted Web browser which is also the basis for Tor Browser.
IceCat is also a great browser to use with Freenet. It lacks the telemetry, bug reporter, DRM, and other junk from the Mozilla Foundation (some of these checkboxes are present in the settings, but they do nothing). Unlike Tor Browser, IceCat does not cause crashes in FMS.
This Freesite covers the Windows and Linux versions.
See the bottom of this page for download information. The latest version as of June 8, 2016 is v38.8.0.
GNU IceCat does not have an installer. Simply extract the archive into a folder, and create a desktop shortcut to the icecat binary in that folder. This is called “icecat” in Linux and “icecat.exe” in Windows. (Do NOT use the “icecat-bin” file.)
After following the Functionality Fixes below, and reading the Notes below, restart the browser, and set up IceCat as you would set up Firefox on a new computer.
Functionality Fix #1: Privacy Features
The “Block privacy trackers” checkbox toggles SpyBlock, a built in ad blocker which lacks Adblock Plus’ payoff-based whitelist. (No restart is required to disable or enable SpyBlock.)
Functionality Fix #2: SpyBlock Blacklists
As with Adblock Plus, left-click the SpyBlock button and select “Preferences” for a similar preferences screen.
SpyBlock’s blacklists are not updated very often. You might want to use Adblock Plus’ EasyList instead, available under the “Add filter subscription” button in SpyBlock’s Preferences menu. If so, uncheck the built-in “Block all well known privacy trackers” and “Block all third party resources when in private browsing” blacklists.
Functionality Fix #3: SSL Problems
You may run into problems with HTTPS pages loading incorrectly or failing with browser errors. To fix this problem, type about:config into the URL bar. You will get a warning “This may void your warranty!”, click “I’ll be careful, I promise!”
In the Search bar of about:config (the one above the “Preference Name” field), type “negotiat” to filter the settings. Two of the settings (security.ssl.require_safe_negotiation and security.ssl.treat_unsafe_negotiation_as_broken) should be set to false. If they are instead set to “true”, double-click the preferences to change them to false.
Firefox and Tor Browser both have false as the default settings (and thus work properly).
Functionality Fix #4: Extensions
Access the add-ons page through Tools->Add-ons and then click the Extensions tab.
The HTML5 Video Everywhere! extension causes more problems than it’s worth. Besides, YouTube and most of the major video sites have since switched over partially or fully from Flash to HTML5. So just disable it.
If you have any future problems with HTTPS sites after the SSL fixes above, you may want to disable the HTTPS Everywhere extension and let the site owners decide whether to use SSL or not and where. It’s up to you.
Also disable the LibreJS extension, if present.
The Get Add-ons tab lists free software add-ons. You can also install from the normal addons.mozilla.org page, mozdev.org, mycroftproject.com, or anywhere else (IceCat doesn’t require add-ons to be signed by the Mozilla Foundation.)
Add-ons on addons.mozilla.org may claim to be incompatible with your version of Firefox. This is usually because IceCat is based on the ESR track rather than the release track. Simply look under “other versions” and select the newest version which Mozilla says will work.
Notes: Language Packs
IceCat-specific language packs are available in the “langpacks” subdirectory on the GNU FTP site. The ones on addons.mozilla.org may not work properly.
Notes: No Automatic Version Updates
IceCat does not have an automatic version update feature. To be notified of new IceCat versions, either join the GNUzilla mailing list or subscribe to the Savannah RSS feed using an RSS addon such as Brief. To “upgrade,” delete the entire icecat folder, then extract the new one to the same place. (Bookmarks and settings will not be erased, as they are saved in user folders, not the icecat folder.) For more info, see Help->IceCat Help.
Notes: Default Browser in Windows
There is no way to make IceCat the default browser in Windows. Some programs will let you override the default browser, if so you can use IceCat with that program. Unless you want to use IE or Edge, leave your present browser installed.
The official (clearnet) Web site for GNU IceCat is https://www.gnu.org/software/gnuzilla/ – official downloads and language packs are available there.
IceCat and its language packs should be downloaded from an official GNU mirror (see the official clearnet Web site for details).
If however you would rather download IceCat unofficially from Freenet, SSKs for the current version (less the language packs) are available on this page.
As of June 8, 2016, the latest version of GNU IceCat is v38.8.0
Files uploaded below are taken from the following clearlink: http://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/gnuzilla/38.8.0/
Collecting metadata “can be more intrusive than traditional communications data,” Scotland Yard’s deputy assistant commissioner has admitted to Ars.
Neil Basu made his comment during a briefing session on law enforcement requirements for investigatory powers. The UK government claims that the new Internet connection records (ICRs) at the heart of the Investigatory Powers Bill are “only” metadata, and therefore no more intrusive than traditional communications data.
However, this contradicts the view of many experts who believe that “analysing metadata is often a far more powerful analytical strategy than investigating content.”
The briefing was held on Tuesday at the National Crime Agency’s headquarters in Vauxhall, London because “it’s important we are as open as we can possibly be,” Basu told reporters. “We police by consent. If we lose that consent, the cornerstone of policing, we can’t police without trust and confidence from the public.”
He said that “the reasons we need communications data have not changed, have not changed in decades. It’s the way we get data has changed.”
Evidently seeking to re-assure the public that UK police won’t abuse the new powers granted to them under the planned IP Bill—or Snoopers’ Charter, as it’s colloquially known—Basu was keen to emphasise the considerable bureaucracy involved in obtaining authorisation, and the degree of oversight.
By Michael Le Page
Isn’t creating pig-human chimeras a monstrous idea?
It would indeed be monstrous if the result was some sort of half-pig, half-human being. The purpose, however, is to create pigs that are essentially normal except for having one organ – the pancreas in this case – that is human.
For now all the fetuses are being destroyed for analysis after a month, to check if the human cells are forming part of other organs too. The team have not revealed the results of these analyses.
Having a few human cells in an otherwise normal pig brain would be ok, but if there are so many human cells that the brain takes on some human-like characteristics, that clearly would not.
What if these fetuses are too much of a mix?
To create the chimeras, Ross first uses gene editing to destroy a gene crucial for the development of the pancreas in pig embryos. Human stem cells capable of developing into any tissue are then injected into the developing pig embryo, and the embryos implanted in normal sows.
So the precursor of the pancreas in the fetuses should be made of human cells, but the human stem cells could contribute to other organs, including the brain. If that does happen to a problematic extent, the next step would be to modify the human cells, too, so they cannot develop into brain cells. Hiromitsu Nakauchi at the University of Tokyo, whose team was the first to show that organs of one animal could be grown in another, is already working on ways of modifying human stem cells to ensure they can only develop into specific organs.
When asked if California should become a Hispanic State, the co-founder of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Mario Obledo made a shocking statement twice regarding white people in California.
Mario Obledo was a co-founder of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and the La Raza Lawyers of California bar association, and he formerly served as California’s Secretary of Health and Welfare. We don’t know exactly when and where he first made his controversial statement about California’s becoming a “Hispanic state,” but he has confirmed he said it at least twice: during an appearance on Ray Briem’s talk radio show in May or June of 1998, and again on Tom Leykis’ talk radio show:
A BROAD COALITION of 45 signatories, including civil liberties, racial justice, human rights, and privacy organizations, published a letter Tuesday strongly condemning a proposal by the FBI to exempt its massive biometric database from certain provisions of the Privacy Act. Known as the Next Generation Identification system, or NGI, the FBI database houses the world’s largest collection of fingerprints, DNA profiles, palm prints, face images, and other biometric identifiers. The letter, signed by groups such as La Raza, Color of Change, Amnesty International, National LGBTQ Task Force, as well as the companies Uber and Lyft, criticized the agency’s May 5 proposal on the grounds that the “system uses some of the most advanced surveillance technologies known to humankind, including facial recognition, iris scans, and fingerprint recognition.”
Specifically, the FBI’s proposal would exempt the database from the provisions in the Privacy Act that require federal agencies to share with individuals the information they collect about them and that give people the legal right to determine the accuracy and fairness of how their personal information is collected and used. The exemption could render millions of records unavailable to subjects. As of December 2015, the NGI systemcontained 70,783,318 criminal records and 38,514,954 civil records.
As the coalition notes with alarm, the database stores millions of unique identifiers for U.S. citizens who have not been convicted of a crime alongside those who have. Fingerprints taken for an employer’s background checks, for instance, can be stored and searched in the NGI’s system along with those taken for criminal investigations.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a decades-old technology that allows any computer to securely connect to a remote server in distant location, yet appear as though it’s connected locally.
Most of you would already be familiar with VPNs and probably use one to circumvent geo-restrictions, engage in P2P activities, or otherwise remain anonymous online. Although VPNs have been around for a while, there are still several damaging myths about them that could potentially negate the benefits of the service, or even confuse you when looking for the best VPN provider.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the top five myths about VPNs and why they’re simply not true.
Myth #1: I Don’t Need a VPN If I’m Not Doing Anything Illegal Online
One of the most common misrepresentations about VPNs is that it’s only needed when the legality of your online activity is in question. For instance, when accessing geo-restricted video content that’s otherwise not available in your region, or circumventing legal roadblocks in your country. Although a VPN might help in these cases, it’s not really the most important reason for using one.
Researchers from Lund University in Sweden and the Center of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona have identified four sequences of genetic code that can reprogram mice skin cells to produce red blood cells. If this method can be used on human tissues, it would provide a reliable source of blood for transfusions and people with anemia.
While (almost) each of us has a unique genetic make-up, it’s a different story for our cells. DNA holds the entirety of the body’s genetic information, and all of an individual’s cells contain exactly the same DNA strands nestled in their nucleus.
It’s an all-encompassing instruction manual, and everything that our bodies can do — from growing hair and nails to developing the brains that allow you to read this now — is written down in it. But then, why aren’t all out cells identical?
Well, cells differentiate because each one only has access to certain parts of this database; they’re allowed to read the chapters that explain how to do their particular job. The Lund research group wanted to find out if cells can be coaxed into accessing different chapters of DNA — specifically, the one governing the production of erythrocytes, or red blood cells.
On Tuesday, Pres. Obama inked his name to H.R. 933, a continuing resolution spending bill approved in Congress days earlier. Buried 78 pages within the bill exists a provision that grossly protects biotech corporations such as the Missouri-based Monsanto Company from litigation.
With the president’s signature, agriculture giants that deal with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically engineered (GE) seeds are given the go-ahead to continue to plant and sell man-made crops, even as questions remain largely unanswered about the health risks these types of products pose to consumers.
In light of approval from the House and Senate, more than 250,000 people signed a petition asking the president to veto the spending bill over the biotech rider tacked on, an item that has since been widely referred to as the “Monsanto Protection Act.”
“But Obama ignored [the petition],”IB Times’ Connor Sheets writes, “instead choosing to sign a bill that effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of GMO or GE crops and seeds, no matter what health consequences from the consumption of these products may come to light in the future.”
James Brumley, a reporter for Investor Place, explains a little more thoroughly just how dangerous the rider is now that biotech companies are allowed to bypass judicial scrutiny. Up until it was signed, he writes, “the USDA [US Department of Agriculture] oversaw and approved (or denied) the testing of genetically modified seeds, while the federal courts retained the authority to halt the testing or sale of these plants if it felt that public health was being jeopardized. With HR 933 now a law, however, the court system no longer has the right to step in and protect the consumer.”
If the president’s signature isn’t all that surprising, though, consider the genesis of the bill itself. According to an article published Monday in the New York Daily News, US Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) “worked with Monsanto to craft the language in the bill.”
The feds are fighting to look at millions of private files without a warrant, including those of two transgender men who are taking testosterone.
Marlon Jones was arrested for taking legal painkillers, prescribed to him by a doctor, after a double knee replacement.
Jones, an assistant fire chief of Utah’s Unified Fire Authority, was snared in a dragnet pulled through the state’s program to monitor prescription drugs after someone stole morphine from an ambulance in 2012. To find the missing morphine, cops used their unrestricted access to the state’s Prescription Drug Monitor Program database to look at the private medical records of nearly 500 emergency services personnel—without a warrant.
Jones was arrested along with another firefighter and a paramedic on suspicion of prescription fraud.
“I got a call at work from the police chief, who I know and work with,” Jones testified before a state senate committee last year. “He said ‘We think you have a problem, you’re taking too many medications. We need to make sure you’re no longer a threat to the community or yourself. So we’re doing this to help you.’”
Jones described in tearful detail what happened next.
“There were three police officers pounding on the door. They said they had a warrant for my arrest and they were going to take me in,” he said. “It was the middle of the day, on my front doorstep, in front of my wife and daughter. I’m handcuffed and stuffed into a police car and they haul me to jail.”
When we think about global trade, most of us imagine container ships navigating the Panama Canal and large multinational companies with warehouses around the world. But the Internet is upending this model and opening the door for the over three billion people already online to exchange goods, services, and ideas. Today, a small business can sell its products overseas with little more than an app or website. An artist, musician, or author can reach a global audience without needing a superstar agent. A small business on Bainbridge Island, Washington sells its marine parts to customers in 176 countries, and a unique performer like Lindsey Stirling cultivates a global audience with millions of views on YouTube. The Internet is profoundly changing the global economy — democratizing who participates in trade, transforming the way traditional industries do business, and internationalizing the way people around the world connect. Today, information flows contribute more than the flow of physical goods to global economic growth. But Internet restrictions — like censorship, site-blocking, and forced local storage of data — threaten the Internet’s open architecture. This can seriously harm established businesses, startups trying to reach a global audience, and Internet users seeking to communicate and collaborate across national borders. Trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are beginning to recognize the Internet’s transformative impact on trade.