September 23, 2017

Briti9sh abuing activists at airports

Intercept - It was not the first time Muhammad Rabbani had problems when returning to the United Kingdom from travels overseas. But on this occasion something was different — he was arrested, handcuffed, and hauled through London’s largest airport, then put into the back of a waiting police van.

Rabbani is the 36-year old international director of Cage, a British group that was founded in 2003 to raise awareness about the plight of prisoners held at the U.S. government’s Guantanamo Bay detention site. Today, the organization has a broader focus and says it is working to highlight “the erosion of the rule of law in the context of the War on Terror.” Due to its work campaigning for the legal rights of terrorism suspects, Cage has attracted controversy, and Rabbani has faced the government’s wrath.

His trouble at Heathrow Airport in late November began with a familiar routine. Often, on his return to the U.K. from foreign trips, he was stopped by police and questioned under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act – a sweeping power British authorities can use at the border to interrogate and search people without requiring any suspicion of wrongdoing. People questioned under Schedule 7 have no right to remain silent or receive legal advice, and they can be interrogated for up to nine hours. Rabbani estimates that he has been stopped under Schedule 7 about 20 times. Usually, he was let free after a few questions without any charges or arrest. But not this time.

Rabbani was returning to London after a business trip to one of the Gulf states. He had been meeting with an individual whom he says was previously detained by U.S. authorities and suffered “years of torture” at the hands of his American captors. The person provided Rabbani with information about his treatment, including names of particular individuals allegedly involved in carrying out the acts of torture. These details, Rabbani says, were provided on a confidential basis and were to be used by Cage as part of a pending legal action against the U.S. government.

As he arrived back at Heathrow, Rabbani was pulled aside by a police counter-terrorism officer at the passport control desk. At first, the conversation was polite. But the tone changed when the officer began asking Rabbani about his work for Cage. He requested that Rabbani accompany him to a room inside the airport where he would be subjected to a formal “examination” under Schedule 7, which is supposed to be used solely to determine whether a person is directly involved in the “commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.”

In the interrogation room there were two police officers who searched all of Rabbani’s luggage and questioned him further about his travels – Whom did he meet? Where did he go? Where did he stay and for how long? After a while the conversation turned to the electronic devices Rabbani was carrying, which included a silver MacBook Air, a SIM card, a flash drive, and an iPhone. The officers asked Rabbani to turn over his passwords so that they could access the devices – and said that if he did not provide them, they would arrest him.

In Aug. 2013, David Miranda, the partner of Intercept co-founding editor Glenn Greenwald, was detained in the same London airport and similarly interrogated under Schedule 7. Miranda had been assisting Greenwald’s reporting on documents about government surveillance leaked by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Last year, in a significant victory for privacy rights, a judge in the Miranda case ruled that Schedule 7 was “not subject to adequate safeguards against its arbitrary exercise.” As a result, the British government made changes to a code of practice that outlined how officers should conduct their searches. Officers are now told that they should “cease reviewing, and not copy” information which they have grounds to believe is attorney-client privileged, is journalistic material, or is another kind of information held in confidence, which a person has “acquired or created in the course of any trade, business, profession or other occupation.”

Jazz break


September 22, 2017

Why do so many unwealthy whites fall for Trump?

Sam Smith - One of the most frustrating things about the Trump phenomena is how many unwealthy whites have fallen for his con. This is, unfortunately, not a new phenomenon. You can go all the way back to the Confederacy and find it flourishing. As one commentator put it, "poor whites supported slavery because it guaranteed that no matter how poor they might be, they would never be at the very bottom of the social hierarchy. Poor whites believed that supporting white unity and the planter class was a surer way of getting their interests addressed."

David Hackett Fischer described southern culture as accepting "hegemonic liberty," which is to say the more power you have the more liberty you have. Even if you are near the bottom of the pile, some one like Trump can become an aspiration rather than a threat.

There is one good way to change this view and that is to have a politics that directly addresses the needs of poor whites rather than, as is currently the case with liberals, disses them for how badly they have been fooled. It's been over four decades since the Democratic Party seriously included the needs of less wealthy white America in its agenda. As I wrote in 2006, "History joins common sense in arguing that if the Democratic Party were to return to a broad based politics based on the improvement of the economic, educational, and social conditions of average Americans it might once again become the dominant force in this country."

In fact, the initial election of Obama greatly increased the Democratic margin in the House, but that quickly collapsed with policies that even when, like Obamacare, they contained very helpful elements, became muddled in procedural issues that distracted from their underlying purpose. And no modern Democratic president came close to first 100-day session of Congress during which Franklin Roosevelt pushed through legislation that rescued the banking industry, established the Civilian Conservation Corps, passed the National Industrial Recovery Act, provided relief for millions of citizens, regulated Wall Street, created bank deposit insurance and set up the TVA.

The beauty of the helping the economics of the white working class is that you also help everyone - including black and latinos - while making ethnicity less of an issue. Otherwise, you shouldn't be surprised to find thing as Lyndon Johnson once described, "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

How to determine that the used car you're looking at was flooded

John Gear Law Office & Salem Consumer Law - "A master mechanic told me that any inspection should now include putting a probe inside the door.  Apparently that will show water damage."  - Illinois Consumer Attorney Dan Daneen

And consumer attorney extraordinaire Joanne Faulkner of New Haven, CT, reports:

"Consumer Reports has suggested tips for identifying cars that may have spent time underwater. A buyer or mechanic should look for these telltale signs:
  • Caked-on mud and a musty odor from the carpets. New carpets in an older vehicle may be another red flag.
  • A visible water line on the lens or reflector of the headlights.
  • Mud or debris trapped in difficult-to-clean places, such as gaps between panels in the trunk and under the hood.
  • Rusty exposed screws under the dashboard. Unpainted metal in flood cars will show signs of rust.
  • Rubber drain plugs under the car and on the bottom of doors that have been removed. That may have been done to drain floodwater.
Also keep in mind that parts from the scrapped cars could well end up in yours, as in a situation where a body shop cuts corners in a collision repair by using parts from a scrapped car instead of new parts. A fender or hood that spent time immersed in fresh water might not be a problem, but a transmission that took a salt water bath could well turn up with bearing or seal failure."

Survivalism growing among the wealthy

New Yorker -[ Survivalism, the practice of preparing for a crackup of civilization, tends to evoke a certain picture: the woodsman in the tinfoil hat, the hysteric with the hoard of beans, the religious doomsayer. But in recent years survivalism has expanded to more affluent quarters, taking root in Silicon Valley and New York City, among technology executives, hedge-fund managers, and others in their economic cohort.

Last spring, as the Presidential campaign exposed increasingly toxic divisions in America, Antonio García Martínez, a forty-year-old former Facebook product manager living in San Francisco, bought five wooded acres on an island in the Pacific Northwest and brought in generators, solar panels, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. “When society loses a healthy founding myth, it descends into chaos,” he told me.

The author of “Chaos Monkeys,” an acerbic Silicon Valley memoir, García Martínez wanted a refuge that would be far from cities but not entirely isolated. “All these dudes think that one guy alone could somehow withstand the roving mob,” he said. “No, you’re going to need to form a local militia. You just need so many things to actually ride out the apocalypse.” Once he started telling peers in the Bay Area about his “little island project,” they came “out of the woodwork” to describe their own preparations, he said. “I think people who are particularly attuned to the levers by which society actually works understand that we are skating on really thin cultural ice right now.”

In private Facebook groups, wealthy survivalists swap tips on gas masks, bunkers, and locations safe from the effects of climate change. One member, the head of an investment firm, told me, “I keep a helicopter gassed up all the time, and I have an underground bunker with an air-filtration system.” He said that his preparations probably put him at the “extreme” end among his peers. But he added, “A lot of my friends do the guns and the motorcycles and the gold coins. That’s not too rare anymore.”

Tim Chang, a forty-four-year-old managing director at Mayfield Fund, a venture-capital firm, told me, “There’s a bunch of us in the Valley. We meet up and have these financial-hacking dinners and talk about backup plans people are doing. It runs the gamut from a lot of people stocking up on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, to figuring out how to get second passports if they need it, to having vacation homes in other countries that could be escape havens.” He said, “I’ll be candid: I’m stockpiling now on real estate to generate passive income but also to have havens to go to.” He and his wife, who is in technology, keep a set of bags packed for themselves and their four-year-old daughter. He told me, “I kind of have this terror scenario: ‘Oh, my God, if there is a civil war or a giant earthquake that cleaves off part of California, we want to be ready.’ ”