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Trump is about to get kicked in the teeth on healthcare


The Freedom Caucus in the House just rebuffed Trump’s offer to make his proposed healthcare plan nastier and less inclusive. God forbid anyone should actually be able to get meaningful coverage. Trump, political neophyte that he is, thought he could bully members of the House to get it passed. That didn’t work. (Pro tip: Bullying should be the last tactic, not the first.) So then Trump tried to make his healthcare plan acceptable to House troglodytes, and that’s not working either.

Trump has no clue how to get bills through Congress. Good. His budget is in trouble too. A couple of big defeats and even his hard-core supporters will begin to leave him, because it will be clear he is incompetent.

Republican Senators have already loudly and repeatedly said the House healthcare plan is not acceptable. That was before Trump made the plan even worse, which lessens chances of it passing the Senate.

Conservative House Republicans rebuffed an offer by President Trump on Thursday to strip a key set of mandates from the nation’s current health-care law, raising doubts about whether House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has the votes to pass the bill.

If Republicans fail this initial test of their ability to govern, Trump and Capitol Hill Republicans may face a harder time advancing high-priority initiatives on infrastructure, tax reform and immigration. They might also find themselves navigating strained relationships among themselves.

Don’t moan about Trump. Fight.

So, within just two months, our new president has the lowest poll ratings ever for this point in an Administration. He and his cohorts are being investigated by Justice for colluding with Russians on the election. His immigration, budget, healthcare plans are in deep trouble in Congress. Ranking members of his own party say he just made shit up when he accused a former president of wiretapping him through a foreign intelligence agency. He makes enemies constantly, and is no doubt embroiled in slimy financial arrangements with foreign governments.

You would think those who oppose him would be going woo-hoo, let’s throw some gasoline on this fire. However, too many liberals and progressives continue moaning about how bad Trump is, pondering if the investigations will go anywhere and what happens if they don’t, and isn’t it all just so terribly tragic.

There is a very good chance Trump could be toppled from power early. Sen. Feinstein thinks Trump he will resign within a few months. The chances of this happening are greatly increased if everyone fights hard and does everything they can to topple Trump. This is not the time for moaning. This is the time to fight!

FBI indicts Russian intelligence officers for Yahoo hack

The crucial point is FSB continued to use Belan rather than detaining him based on the Interpol Red Notice. Further, Belan used the stolen data to personally enrich himself, something FSB had to know. Thus FSB is essentially a criminal enterprise / national security agency, and it would not be outlandish to assume they were sharing in the proceeds.

FSB also of course used the hacked data to target people of interest to them,,]. If any of the targeted were dumb enough to use their Yahoo password on other accounts, then their job became so much easier. And I guarantee some of them did.

From the DoJ announcement:

Instead of acting on the U.S. government’s Red Notice and detaining Belan after his return, Dokuchaev and Sushchin subsequently used him to gain unauthorized access to Yahoo’s network. In or around November and December 2014, Belan stole a copy of at least a portion of Yahoo’s User Database (UDB), a Yahoo trade secret that contained, among other data, subscriber information including users’ names, recovery email accounts, phone numbers and certain information required to manually create, or “mint,” account authentication web browser “cookies” for more than 500 million Yahoo accounts.

The arrested are:

Dmitry Aleksandrovich Dokuchaev, 33, was an officer in the FSB Center for Information Security, aka “Center 18.” Dokuchaev was a Russian national and resident.

Igor Anatolyevich Sushchin, 43, was an FSB officer, a superior to Dokuchaev within the FSB, and a Russian national and resident. Sushchin was embedded as a purported employee and Head of Information Security at a Russian investment bank.

Alexsey Alexseyevich Belan, aka “Magg,” 29, was born in Latvia and is a Russian national and resident. U.S. Federal grand juries have indicted Belan twice before, in 2012 and 2013, for computer fraud and abuse, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft involving three U.S.-based e-commerce companies and the FBI placed Belan on its “Cyber Most Wanted” list. Belan is currently the subject of a pending “Red Notice” requesting that Interpol member nations (including Russia) arrest him pending extradition. Belan was also one of two criminal hackers named by President Barack Obama on Dec. 29, 2016, pursuant to Executive Order 13694, as a Specially Designated National subject to sanctions.

Karim Baratov, aka “Kay,” “Karim Taloverov” and “Karim Akehmet Tokbergenov,” 22. He is a Canadian and Kazakh national and a resident of Canada.

Nazi punching. Repressive tolerance vs liberating tolerance. Hi Marcuse

Can we please stop those dumb Nazi-punching memes? Yes, neo-Nazi Richard Spencer got punched and ran away. Suddenly there were oh-so-clever woke memes about how if you want to punch a Nazi, be sure to keep your wrist straight. There are two important things to consider here. 1) If you need to be told to keep your wrist straight while punching, you have no clue what a real fight is about. 2) Spencer apparently had never been in a serious fight. There are some neo-Nazis who if punched like that are quite capable of putting their attacker in the hospital, who then might be arrested for assault.

So, let’s stop the mock heroics. If you want to street-fight Nazis, have at it. However please don’t delude yourself into thinking if you do, maybe a Nazi might get punched in the nose, won’t that be grand, and then you go home. More likely, people will get hurt and that person might be you.

Whether it’s punching Spencer, trashing things at Berkeley when Milo was there, or the recent assault on a faculty member when “Bell Curve” author Charles Murray spoke at Middlebury, Bloomberg columnist Stephen Carter points how, whether they are aware or it or not, these protesters are following what leftist philosopher Herbert Marcuse said about repressive tolerance vs liberating tolerance.

Basically, Marcuse says protesters on the Left showing tolerance to all reinforces the power of the state and the Right. Thus, tolerance should only be shown to the Left, not the Right, even if what you are doing is undemocratic. Seems like this view, taken far enough could end in fanaticism, purges, and of course the Dictatorship of the Proletariat which is somehow supposed to liberate as it represses.

Yes, evil needs to be fought against! However I’m pretty sure attacking an old man at Middlebury, no matter how noxious his views, is a brain-dead tactic. In the 1960’s the Weather Underground planted bombs in carefully chosen government locations. They explained in detail why the sites were chosen. No one was ever hurt in these bombings. If they meant to send a message, it backfired. Most people thought they were fucking crazy and the Right capitalized on this. Our tactics can certainly be militant. They also need to be effective. Standing outside with signs at Berkeley or Middlebury, if done right, could have drawn plenty of positive media attention.

For Marcuse, the fact that liberal democracies made tolerance an absolute virtue posed a problem. If society includes two groups, one powerful and one weak, then tolerating the ideas of both will mean that the voice and influence of the strong will always be greater. To treat the arguments of both sides with equal respect “mainly serves the protection and preservation of a repressive society.” That is why, for Marcuse, tolerance is antithetical to genuine democracy and thus “repressive.”

He proposes that we practice what he calls a “liberating” or “discriminating” tolerance. He is quite clear about what he means: “tolerance against movements from the Right, and tolerance of movements from the Left.” Otherwise the majority, even if deluded by false consciousness, will always beat back efforts at necessary change. The only way to build a “subversive majority,” he writes, is to refuse to give ear to those on the wrong side. The wrong is specified only in part, but Marcuse has in mind particularly capitalism and inequality.

Opening the minds of the majority by pressing one message and burdening another “may require apparently undemocratic means.” But the forces of power are so entrenched that to do otherwise — to tolerate the intolerable — is to leave authority in the hands of those who will deny equality to the workers and to minorities. That is why tolerance, unless it discriminates, will always be repressive.

Wikileaks CIA data dump and broken security


Horrendous but not unexpected. CIA exploited security flaws in software rather than notifying vendors of the flaws so they could be fixed. Snowden is completely correct. This is reckless beyond words.

The Wikileaks CIA dump shows that CIA (and no doubt lots of other intelligence services) can plant malware on phones and computers that bypass encryption. This means Signal or WhatsApp encryption is essentially useless if your device has such malware on it because it grabs messages before they’ve been encrypted. We don’t know how prevalent such malware is. I would assume only high-value people are targeted, but there’s no way to know for sure.

There are still a few ways to protect yourself. Use a VPN, as it provides some security. So does the Tor browser. However, if you log into a site using Tor, then they know who you are. Turn off as many internet-enabled devices as possible. Does your TV, refrigerator, and thermostat really need to be on the net? Tape over your webcam unless you are using it. Mark Zuckerberg does. Consider whether you really need Alexa or internet-enabled child toys. Any Internet of Things devices should automatically be suspect because security for them is mostly non-existent or an afterthought. Assume you are being watched and act accordingly.

In the case of a tool called “Weeping Angel” for attacking Samsung SmartTVs, WikiLeaks wrote, “After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on, In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.”

The CIA reportedly also has studied whether it could infect vehicle control systems for cars and trucks, which WikiLeaks alleged could be used to conduct “nearly undetectable assassinations.”

And a specialized CIA unit called the Mobile Devices Branch produced malware to control and steal information from iPhones, which according to WikiLeaks were a particular focus because of the smartphone’s popularity “among social, political diplomatic and business elites.” The agency also targeted popular phones running Google’s Android, the world’s leading mobile operating system.