Late Night FDL: Shockwave Supernova

Joe Satriani – Shockwave Supernova

Satchmo has a brand new album out, Shockwave Supernova…

For many artists who reach the “double digit albums” stage of their career, inspiration often can be hard to come by.

However, for Joe Satriani—who released his 15th studio album, Shockwave Supernova, July 24—each album is seen as a chance to reinvent himself and test the limits of his guitar playing. The results don’t lie; he’s one of the most successful and innovative solo and instrumental guitarists playing today.

“I just approach each record like it’s a new thing and throw myself into it with total dedication,” he says during our phone interview from the G4 Experience in Cambria, California.

As a result of playing guitar with his teeth and a daydream, Satriani crafted up an alter-ego called Shockwave Supernova. The alter-ego, he says, is “a rock and roll animal” that tries to “draw attention to himself.” Throughout the album the alter-ego battles with his real self.

We talked with Satriani about how he still manages to keep things interesting. You can check out our interview here.

What’s on your mind tonite…?

Cyber Bill Gives Companies Perfect Cover to Gut Your Privacy

Some tech companies are eager to share more of our personal data with the government so long as they don’t have to worry about violating any privacy safeguards. CISA gives companies exactly what they want: ironclad liability protection to share information about any perceived cyber threats with federal agencies. (Photo: Mr. Thinktank/flickr/cc)

By Sandra Fulton

Following several high-profile data breaches — such as those at Sony and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — Congress is once again feeling the pressure to push “cybersecurity” legislation.

The problem is, the bill they’re laser-focused on is misguided, wouldn’t protect us — and is a huge gift to companies wanting legal cover if and when they choose to violate Americans’ privacy rights.

In March, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted 14–1 in favor of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA). The bill, like its infamous predecessor CISPA, would allow companies to share vast amounts of users’ private and personally identifiable data with the government. That information would go straight to the Department of Homeland Security and then on to the NSA.

If CISA passes, companies would be permitted to monitor and then report to the government on vaguely defined “cyber-threat indicators” — a term so broad that it covers actual threats hackers pose to computer systems but also sweeps in information on crimes like carjacking and burglaries. Those are serious offenses to be sure, but they have nothing to do with cybersecurity.

While current law allows companies to monitor their own systems for cyber threats, CISA would take this to the next level. The bill would allow companies that hold huge swaths of our personal data — like health insurers and credit-card companies — to monitor and report online activity “notwithstanding any other provision of law.”

This means that CISA would undermine the strong protections embedded in laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 and the Privacy Act of 1964 — laws designed to keep the government from spying on our communications.

While posing a serious threat to our privacy online, CISA wouldn’t even guard well against cyber attacks. The bill offers a bad trade-off, to put it mildly.

In April, leading Internet-security technologists wrote to the Senate Intelligence Committee, arguing that Congress didn’t need to create new legal authority to let companies share information designed to help protect their systems from future attacks. As their letter explains:

Waiving privacy rights will not make security sharing better. The more narrowly security practitioners can define these IoCs [indicators of compromise] and the less personal information that is in them, the better… Any bill that allows for and results in significant sharing of personal information could decrease the signal to noise ratio and make IoCs less actionable.

In June 2015, further revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden showed that much of the activity CISA would authorize has been going on for quite some time. Leaked government slides show that the NSA and the FBI secretly joined forces in 2012 to spy on Internet traffic in pursuit of cybersecurity suspects.

Despite these efforts, cyber attacks have continued to escalate. Yet this bill to immunize companies from liability for sharing our personal data sailed through the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The lone dissenter on that committee, Sen. Ron Wyden, noted that cyber attacks are a “serious problem.” However, Wyden said, “if information-sharing legislation does not include adequate privacy protections, then that’s not a cybersecurity bill — it’s a surveillance bill by another name.”

So who’s behind the massive push to pass CISA? Insurers, credit-card companies, banks, gas and oil giants, and telecom companies have all lined up behind the bill. Keepers of some of our most private and sensitive data — banks like JPMorgan Chase, and health insurers like Anthem and Blue Cross Blue Shield, to name just a few — are lobbying hard for CISA’s passage.

In fact, according to lobby-disclosure reports for the first quarter of 2015, the number of companies lobbying for CISA has just about tripled over the last year. Recent attacks have cost companies billions, not to mention embarrassment.

Stronger cyber “hygiene” would best protect these companies from intrusions and breaches, but that would be costly. Implementing invasive monitoring programs and handing the information off to the government is far preferable if that approach can be sold as a solution to the problem.

In short, these companies are eager to share more of our personal data with the government so long as they don’t have to worry about violating any privacy safeguards. CISA gives companies exactly what they want: ironclad liability protection to share information about any perceived cyber threats with federal agencies.

So while CISA would do little or nothing to improve cybersecurity, it would strengthen the surveillance regime and make our personal information even more vulnerable to government abuse.

Leaders in the Senate, who want to pass CISA before Congress breaks for its August recess, have announced that the bill will be up on their agenda as soon as this week. The Free Press Action Fund is working with our allies to fight back. Please click here to urge your senators to oppose this dangerous bill.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Sandra Fulton is a Legislative Assistant at the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office working on First Amendment and privacy issues.

The Republican Party has nothing to offer except clowns, fear and hate

The Republican Party is destroying itself. A recent Pew Research Center poll conducted July 14-20 surveying 2002 adults found,

The Republican Party’s image has grown more negative over the first half of this year. Currently, 32% have a favorable impression of the Republican Party, while 60% have an unfavorable view. Favorable views of the GOP have fallen nine percentage points since January. The Democratic Party continues to have mixed ratings (48% favorable, 47% unfavorable).

The Democratic Party has often held an edge over the GOP in favorability in recent years, but its advantage had narrowed following the Republicans’ midterm victory last fall. Today, the gap is as wide as it has been in more than two years.

Republicans, in particular, are now more critical of their own party than they were a few months ago. About two-thirds (68%) express a favorable opinion of their party, the lowest share in more than two years. Six months ago, 86% of Republicans viewed the GOP positively.[P]ositive views of the GOP among Republicans have declined 18 percentage points since January, from 86% to 68%. Independents also view the Republican Party less favorably; 29% today, compared with 37% six months ago. Democrats, by contrast, continue to express highly positive opinions of their party: 86% view the party favorably, little changed from 84% in January.

/snip/

As has been the case over the past four years, the Republican Party is viewed as more extreme in its positions than the Democratic Party. Currently, 52% say the GOP is more extreme, compared with 35% who say this better describes the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party continues to hold wide advantages over the Republicans on empathy and honesty. By 53% to 31%, the Democratic Party is viewed as “more concerned with the needs of people like me.” And the Democrats hold a 16-point lead on governing in an honest and ethical way (45% to 29%).

A Gallup poll conducted July 8-12 concluded,

The Democratic Party has regained its edge over the Republican Party in terms of favorability, another sign that it is recovering from its poor 2014 showing. But both parties remain unpopular relative to their historical performance, which suggests neither has the wind at its back going into the 2016 presidential contest.

Meanwhile Bloomberg is reporting,

Consumer confidence slumped in July by the most in almost four years as households became less upbeat about the outlook for the economy, employment and their finances, figures from the New York-based Conference Board showed Tuesday.

Swings in stock prices stemming from the Greek financial crisis and weakness in China took a toll, according to the group, showing why Federal Reserve policy makers may want to consider international events in determining when to raise interest rates. Outsized moves in confidence have been common this year, underscoring erratic consumer temperament that poses a risk to already uneven household spending.

“It’s a bit of a surprise and may prove a little erratic,” said David Sloan, senior economist at 4Cast Inc. in New York. “If the stock market weakness recently extends further, a turnaround might be harder. But energy prices have slipped and that could give some support to consumers.”

The Conference Board’s index retreated to 90.9 this month from a revised 99.8 in June. The July reading, the weakest in 10 months, was lower than the most pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

The 8.9 point drop also marked the biggest negative surprise since February 2003. The median forecast was 100, with estimates ranging from 97 to 103 after a previously reported 101.4 in June. The gauge has moved at least five points in five of the first seven months of the year.

The Republicans have nothing to offer to reverse the trend except clowns, fear and hate.

Clowns, fear and hate do not create jobs that pay a living wage.

White House Responds to ‘Pardon Edward Snowden’ Petition with Character Assassination

Screen shot of Lisa Monaco speaking at Aspen Institute event
Screen shot of Lisa Monaco speaking at Aspen Institute event

The White House finally responded to a popular petition at WhiteHouse.gov urging President Barack Obama’s administration to pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. However, the response is a bald-faced attempt to use the petition as a platform to assassinate Snowden’s character.

First off, the petition to pardon Snowden had nearly 168,000 signatures. Only a few petitions responded to by the White House have more signatures (for example, address gun violence through gun control legislation and legally recognize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.

The petition was posted on June 9, 2013, and was largely inspired by the revelation that the NSA was collecting the metadata of phone calls of millions of Americans, who have Verizon as their phone carrier. Nevertheless, it took the White House more than two years to respond to this petition.

The response focuses on the “serious consequences” Snowden’s whistleblowing has had on “national security.” It includes a statement from Lisa Monaco, the President’s Advisor on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.

“Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it,” Monaco declares.

“If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and — importantly — accept the consequences of his actions,” Monaco adds. “He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers — not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he’s running away from the consequences of his actions.”

Monaco concludes, “We live in a dangerous world. We continue to face grave security threats like terrorism, cyber-attacks, and nuclear proliferation that our intelligence community must have all the lawful tools it needs to address. The balance between our security and the civil liberties that our ideals and our Constitution require deserves robust debate and those who are willing to engage in it here at home.”

Jesselyn Radack, a lawyer for Snowden, a Justice Department whistleblower, and the director of the Government Accountability Project’s National Security and Human Rights Division, reacted to the White House’s response.

“The government loves to fear-monger, but has failed to articulate any clear harm from Snowden¹s revelations,” Radack stated. “The closest it has come, ironically, is a fully-redacted Defense Intelligence Agency internal assessment.” (more…)

Native American Civil Rights Activist Dies Mysteriously In Police Custody

ShippedAway

Originally published on MintPress News

NESHOBA COUNTY, Mississippi — Rexdale W. Henry, a Choctaw activist, died in Mississippi’s Neshoba County Jail earlier this month under circumstances that remain mysterious. Coming just one day after the alleged suicide of black civil rights activist Sandra Bland in Texas, questions are being raised about how an apparently healthy man died in police custody and why autopsy results are being withheld from the public and the media.

Rexdale Henry, a civil rights activist, was found dead in jail the day after Sandra Bland was arrested over failure to pay minor traffic citation
Rexdale Henry, a civil rights activist, was found dead in jail the day after Sandra Bland was arrested over failure to pay minor traffic citation

Henry was arrested on July 9 for an unpaid fine and held over the weekend. He was found dead on July 14 at 10:00 a.m., just 30 minutes after police said they had last seen him alive, according to the local ABC affiliate, WTOK. Cassandra Fairbanks, writing for Photography Is Not A Crime, commented:

Officials have been keeping extremely tight-lipped about the circumstances surrounding his death, perhaps hoping to avoid the public scrutiny and backlash that Waller County is facing for their negligence leading to Bland’s death.

The state crime lab conducted an autopsy, but they still have not yet released the results, nearly two weeks following the incident.

Now activists are helping Henry’s family seek answers, starting with demands for an independent autopsy, R.L. Nave reported for Jackson Free Press on Saturday:


‘At a time when the nation is focused on the terrible circumstances of the brutal death of Sandra Bland, it is critical to expose the many ways in which Black Americans, Native Americans and other minorities are being arrested for minor charges and end up dead in jail cells,’ McDonald said in a statement.”“Helping with the family’s independent probe are civil-rights activists John Steele, a close friend of Henry’s, and Diane Nash, a cofounder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, as well as Syracuse University law professors Janis McDonald and Paula Johnson of the school’s Cold Case Justice Initiative.

Henry was an active member of his tribal community and an activist for native rights. The death of an activist in a Mississippi jail is an unpleasant reminder of the death of Michael Deangelo McDougle, who died in the same jail in November, as well as the state’s history of racist violence — in particular, the deaths of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Mickey Schwerner, who were arrested in Neshoba County during the 1964 “Freedom Summer” civil rights movement. Their bodies were later found buried in a dam nearby.

(more…)

On Human Rights, UN Committee Gives US Low Grades for Surveillance, Detention at Guantanamo

Screen shot of CCPR grades for United States
Screen shot of CCPR grades for United States

A United Nations committee, which reviews how countries comply with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), issued grades for the United States government’s implementation of recommendations issued last year. The committee gave the US low grades for surveillance and detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and in facilities in Afghanistan.

The ICCPR is an international human rights treaty. Signatories are supposed to undertake measures to ensure the rights in the treaty are protected in their countries. In fact, since the US ratified the treaty in 1992, the government has an obligation to comply with the treaty as it would any other domestic law.

A committee of the UN, the Human Rights Committee, conducts periodic reviews of countries’ human rights records. It gives countries an opportunity to respond to the committee’s concerns. The committee makes recommendations. It then grades how countries implement those recommendations.

Countries, which are signatories, report to the committee every four years. This is the fourth periodic review of the US.

To understand the grades, “B1″ means “substantive action” took place but the committee still wants more information. “B2″ means some initial action was taken. “C1″ means US replied to UN but did not take actions to implement recommendation. “C2″ means US replied, and the reply was irrelevant to the committee’s recommendation. “D1″ means US did not cooperate with the committee on this recommendation.

The US did not receive any “A” grades. It received a high “B1″ grade for declassifying part of the report of the Senate Special Committee on Intelligence into the CIA’s detention and torture of detainees and a lower “B2″ grade for investigating cases of unlawful killing, torture and other ill-treatment, unlawful detention, and enforced disappearances, and expediting the release of detainees from Guantanamo Bay.

The committee issued a “C2″ grade for the continued detention of detainees at Guantanamo and in facilities in Afghanistan.

In regards to surveillance, it gave the US a “C1″ grade for ensuring surveillance complies with the treaty, ensuring “interference with right to privacy, family, home, or correspondence” is authorized by law, reforming oversight of surveillance, and refraining from imposing “mandatory retention” of data on “third parties.”

The worst grade given was a “D1″ for failing to ensure persons are able to obtain remedies if they are the victims of surveillance abuse. (more…)

The Roundup for July 28th, 2015

Almost the end of the month. Keep those suggestions coming, folks.

International Politics

Overall

– Israel hopes to use the Syrian Civil War to bolster its energy independence

– Russian President Vladimir Putin: I think Sepp Blatter should get the Nobel Peace Prize; *Spits out drink*

– The United Nations suspended its health programs in Iraq because of lack of funding

– Both the U.S. and Turkey pledged to kick out the Islamic State from northern Syria; Easier said than done

Middle East

– Even the Jewish community in Iran find Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as ridiculous when it comes to the agreement with Iran

– Chris Hedges: “Why I Support the BDS Movement Against Israel

– A Saudi official criticized Iran’s “aggressive statements” on Bahrain, an ally of Saudi Arabia (more…)

Over Easy: Thunder Storms

Florida Lightning Nathan Gates Flickr creative commons

I was talking the other day with my sister and the subject of thunder storms came up. We have them up here in Ohio but not like the kind we had in Florida. Not by a long shot. From mid June or so until around the end of September, sometimes later, we had nearly every day in the afternoon local thunderstorms generated by by the sea breeze from the gulf and Atlantic.

I mean these suckers could be very intense. With frequent lightning and very heavy rain and some winds approaching tropical storm strength, at times. Getting off of work it could be a challenge to make it to my car at times without getting struck. Dodging the lightning bolts and down pours.  It was not unusual for roads and parking lots to become flooded and at least once it rained so hard and long that the water backed up at the University and caused some damage to one of the class room buildings. Causing it to be lifted out of the ground about six inches.

Most people think of Florida with Hurricanes and tropical storms but just our local storms can cause havoc at times. With them lowering the viability to just a few feet, if that.  Then just like that they would be gone.

It was not uncommon for houses and apartment to be struck by lightning and the one I lived in was hit a number of times, causing the whole building to shake. It could sound like artillery fire, it was so loud.

I oft times think the people up here in Ohio don’t know what a “Real thunderstorm” is like.

 

Late Night FDL: Life’s Been Good

Joe Walsh – Life’s Been Good

Joe Walsh just keeps on going…

Joe Walsh won’t be home for long after the Eagles finish their summer tour.

Walsh has announced a run of solo tour dates that will keep him on the road for at least a month this fall, starting with a Sept. 18 performance in Warren, Ohio, and continuing through Oct. 17 in Boston. Fans who turn out can reportedly expect a career-spanning set that will include favorites from Walsh’s solo records as well as his outings with the James Gang, Barnstorm and the Eagles.

“I’m going back in the catalog to dig out some songs that I haven’t ever played live, but everything everyone’s coming to hear will also be in the show,” says Walsh in a press release. “I’ve got a great band and I’m excited to play with my old friend Joe Vitale again. I also love being able to go into smaller venues. I’ve missed it. … The interaction with the audience is much better, everybody has a good seat and it reminds me of the old days. I think I play my best in a small venue when the bass drums are kicking me in the pants. I’m really looking forward to it all.”

Along with Vitale, Walsh will be touring with new guitarist Gannin Arnold, as well as bassist Tommy Sims and Foo Fighters percussionist Drew Hester on drums. Tickets are scheduled to go on sale to the general public starting July 31, after Joe Walsh Fan Club members get first dibs via a pre-sale that’s set to begin on July 28. For information on how to join Walsh’s fan club and additional tour details, visit his official site.

What’s on your mind tonite…?

US rejects criticism over Turkey’s strikes on Kurdish groups

Of fighting Isil by Marian Kemensky (7/26/2015 Mehrnews)

‘It looks like Washington gave Turkey a green light to drop bombs on PKK,’ analyst tells MEE, though US denies this

By James Reinl

NEW YORK – The United States faced criticism on Monday over claims that it condoned Turkish strikes on Kurdish militants as a quid pro quo for Ankara’s boosted support against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said it was a “coincidence” that Turkey had launched strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets at the same time that Ankara increased its role in the US-led military coalition against IS.

“There’s no connection between what they [Turkey] did against PKK and to what we’re going to try to do together against ISIL,” Kirby told reporters in Washington, using an alternate acronym for the Sunni fighters.

He said Ankara had acted in “self-defence” against the PKK, which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state partly from bases in northern Iraq and is listed as a “terrorist” group by Turkey, the US and the European Union.

American officials say that the US and Turkey are working on military plans to clear IS from stretches of northern Syria and carve out an “IS-free zone” that would bring more stability to the Turkey-Syria border.

Under an agreement that is reportedly being agreed between the NATO allies, IS would be expelled from a 109km stretch west of the Euphrates River, according to the Washington Post newspaper.

The discussions follow a big shift in Ankara’s approach to IS over recent days in which Turkey – which was previously reluctant to intervene in Syria – has launched raids against IS and permitted US warplanes to use a Turkish military base.

The Turkish strikes have raised tensions with Kurdish militia forces fighting IS in northern Syria and, on Monday, Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) said Turkish tanks had shelled their forces near the border town of Kobane. Turkey said it was investigating the claim.

At the same time, Turkey has struck PKK militants in northern Iraq. It follows a week which saw a bomb attack blamed on IS kill 32 people in Suruc, Turkey, and the PKK reportedly kill two Turkish police officers in retaliation for the blast and what it sees as Turkey’s collaboration with IS.

Police have detained more than 1,000 people across Turkey in nationwide raids against militants since last week, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said. He did not say how many were suspected PKK fighters and how many are accused of belonging to IS.

According to Edmund Ghareeb, author of The Kurdish Question in Iraq, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken advantage of a crisis following his Justice and Development (AKP) party’s poor showing in last month’s parliamentary elections.

“By changing his strategy, Erdogan is doing several things at the same time. He wants to placate Turkey’s army, which eyes him with suspicion, and to prevent the unification or expansion of the two Kurdish cantons within Syria,” Ghareeb told Middle East Eye.

“He’s mobilising nationalist forces in Turkey, particularly as there could be new elections on the horizon, he’s attacking the PKK in Iraq, which he sees as his biggest threat, and getting Obama and the West back on side by fully participating in the war against IS.”

According to Kani Xulam, director of the American Kurdish Information Network, US support for Turkey is risky because it sets Washington against the PKK and the YPG, two linked Kurdish groups that have been useful allies against IS.

“It looks like Washington gave Turkey a green light to drop bombs on PKK Kurds in Iraq so the US can work with Turkey to eliminate IS in Syria. But this conflicts with another US interest: working with the YPG and PKK, which have been their most effective boots on the ground against IS,” he told MEE.

And, according to Xulam, US President Barack Obama may have chosen the wrong partner.

“Obama thinks he can contain the situation with Turkey’s help, but that’s like mopping up with a dirty cloth. Turkey has its own agenda. The daily bomb attacks that we see in Iraq and Syria we will start seeing weekly in Turkey,” he told MEE.

“The demographics of Iraq and Syria are really not so different from Turkey, and this is propelling the country ever-further into a perfect storm.”

Other analysts agree that Turkey and the US make convenient bedfellows but have divergent agendas. Hussein Ibish, a scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, said Ankara is more interested in defeating the PKK than IS.

“Turkey has pledged to establish a safe zone in northern Syria, under the rubric of its intervention against IS. But one of its primary aims will be to deny the YPG control of a large, contiguous area across the soft Turkish underbelly near its own restive Kurdish areas,” he told MEE.

“In effect, Turkey had relied on IS to deny this to the PKK by holding the territory. Not only is IS attacking inside Turkey now, perhaps even more significantly it is failing to prevent the PKK, Ankara’s main enemy, from expanding into that area.

“Turkey is therefore preparing to push IS aside and do the job itself.”

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© 2015 Middle East Eye