Tuesday night, in his next-to-last State of the Union address, President Obama flashed the suckers a bag of tricks that has no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Congress, but will allow his apologists to claim that the genuine, more progressive Obama is revealing himself in his final two years in office. Of course, the final-years Obama could have accomplished his modest 2015 agenda, and much more, back in 2009 and 2010, when Democrats dominated both the House and the Senate and the Republicans were in despair and disarray. Which is precisely why Obama chose, instead, to put his party's perishable congressional majorities at the service of bankers, Wall Street, private insurers and Big Pharma. Now that Democrats are the endangered species on Capitol Hill, Obama hangs a piñata of subsidized community college education, additional tax deductions for child care, seven days paid sick leave, higher capital gains taxes on the wealthy, and billions in fees on casino bankers. read more
Police in a number of U.S. cities aren't just tasering and tear-gassing protesters, they're attacking their sense of hearing. The Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), also called a "sound canon," is a powerful, military-grade electronic megaphone that, in addition to broadcasting police commands, can be used to disperse crowds with a chirping noise reaching 162 decibels, 42 decibels above the level that can cause immediate and permanent hearing damage.
It condenses the noise into an acoustic cone with an angle of 30 to 40 degrees in front of the machine, which can be mounted on a vehicle or held by hand.
The U.S. military has already used the device against enemy combatants whom soldiers wanted to keep at a distance without firing upon them during the Iraq War. read more
The State of the Union address President Obama delivers tonight will include a slate of cyber proposals crafted to sound like timely government protections in an era beset by villainous hackers.
But if you cut through the spin, it turns out that the steps Obama is proposing would likely erode, rather than strengthen, information security for citizens and computer experts trying to protect them. Consider: read more
Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman, The Intercept: The Justice Department on Wednesday issued a press release trumpeting its latest success in disrupting a domestic terrorism plot, announcing that "the Joint Terrorism Task Force has arrested a Cincinnati-area man for a plot to attack the U.S. Capitol and kill government officials." The alleged would-be terrorist is 20-year-old Christopher Cornell, who is unemployed, lives at home, spends most of his time playing video games in his bedroom, still addresses his mother as "Mommy" and regards his cat as his best friend; he was described as "a typical student" and "quiet but not overly reserved" by the principal of the local high school he graduated in 2012. ... The known facts from this latest case seem to fit well within a now-familiar FBI pattern whereby the agency does not disrupt planned domestic terror attacks but rather creates them, then publicly praises itself for stopping its own plots. read more
The outrageous whitewash issued yesterday by the CIA panel John Brennan hand-picked to lead the investigation into his agency's spying on Senate staffers is being taken seriously by the elite Washington media, which is solemnly reporting that officials have been "cleared" of any "wrongdoing".
But what the report really does is provide yet more evidence of Brennan's extraordinary impunity.
The panel concluded that CIA officials acted reasonably by scouring Senate computer drives in early 2014 when faced with a "potential security breach". (That "breach" had allowed Senate staffers investigating CIA torture to access, more than three years earlier, a handful of documents Brennan didn't want them to see.) read more