Proposed DHS Rules May Cause the Deaths They Claim To Prevent

Back at the end of March, the Department of Homeland [in]Security issued rules stating that all electronics larger than a smartphone should be checked instead of kept in a carry-on on flights into the US from 10 airports or on 9 airlines from mainly Muslim countries in the middle east and north Africa. This was following claims by US and UK intelligence that terrorists are smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items to ‘target commercial aviation.

Not only does this not pass the smell test (anyone looking to bring down an aircraft with explosive devices won’t matter if it’s in the cabin or the hold, boom is boom) the idea that it’s going to go through some sort of super-secret screening is laughable when red-team penetration tests find it trivial to get prohibited items onto aircraft (including people with no ticket who bypass security screening), but many airports already require carry-on electronics to be x-rayed, and often swabbed for explosive residue. What’s more, I remember seeing ‘explosives smuggled on board’ hysteria since Pan Am 103 almost 30 years ago, where Czech explosive Semtex was suspected to be in everything from fake muesli to electronics following the use of just 12 ounces (340g) to blast a 50cm hole in the 747’s hold. Continue reading…

 

New Book Project – Philosophies from the Disc

The wisdom of these books and more, distilled.

I’ve been busy working on several projects over the past few months, and one I’m now happy to announce is a new book. (well, if you follow me on Goodreads, you’ll note I announced it there a few weeks back). This book will NOT be about politics, but will instead focus on another love of mine, the Discworld.

The deep philosophy of these books and more, distilled for you.Of course, as you know, I can’t leave politics alone, so this is a book that’s about Discworld, but also politics, facts, and philosophy. In short, it’s basically “Everything to learn about life can be learnt from Discworld” (got a better title idea, let me know!) Continue reading…

 

Civil Forfeiture (and Karma) Could Destroy Trump

Kira Lerner at ThinkProgress today wrote about how the New York Attorney General is looking into state-based solutions to deal with the emoluments issue with Trump. In short, the state can investigate the payments not from the point of view of the President, but instead focus on the Trump Organisation aspect. This got me thinking a little about an incident in the news last week when Trump threatened a state senator because that legislator wanted to place some more safeguards on civil asset forfeiture. Could Trump — who values his wealth as a sign of power — be substantially hit (and possibly learn a lesson) if he were subject to the very thing he seems to champion? Continue reading…

 

Brexit, The Referendum, & the Balancing Act

As parliament goes ever closer to a Brexit vote (now that the Supreme court has said it has to have a vote and that the PM can’t unilaterally act – much to the anger of those claiming they wanted to return power to Parliament and away from an unelected entity making laws.. go figure) there is an increasing debate over which way MP’s should vote.

Before the referendum, a majority of MP’s were opposed to Brexit, and since the referendum, many seem to be leaning towards voting for it.
Why?

Let’s break this down a bit. Continue reading…

 

Assange Painted into Corner with Manning Boasting

In the political landscape, Julian Assange is one of the current hot-button topics. His actions in the last 6 months have placed him front-and-center in the current furore over the election of Donald Trump, centering on his release of the Podesta emails.

Now, I won’t say the Podesta emails were a storm in a teacup () because that’s beside the point, which is that Assange has deliberately invoked a controversy to personally profit by it, as part of a larger campaign by Assange to avoid dealing with his Swedish sexual assault allegations. To fan the flames of that some more, WikiLeaks released this tweet.

There are two issues here that are conflated and done so in a despite to perhaps mislead people. Yes, there indeed is WAS a movement to get Chelsea [formerly Bradley] Manning clemency and Manning is reportedly on Obama’s shortlist for clemency/pardons prior to leaving office. (note, as I was finishing this, Manning’s sentence was commuted, and Manning will be released on May 17th) Continue reading…

 

Breaking the 2-Party Two-step (2016 edition)

The following is from the book No Safe Harbor, and is an updated version of the piece that was published here four years ago, and originally here  on election day 2010. For 2016 it features an extended addendum that will also be included in the second edition of the book.

The first Tuesday in November is election day. It is a day when people all over the country go out, and exercise democracy. In some countries, the very act of voting is seen as a triumph, something worthwhile to be attained. The US sees it as so important, that several countries have been invaded in the past century for the purposes of restoring democracy, yet the US does not have a functioning democracy itself, instead there is a pseudo-democracy, where only two parties are allowed to participate, much like in the most restrictive countries; China, Algeria, North Korea. Continue reading…