A poem for Tuesday

Faces in the Street

Henry Lawson

They lie, the men who tell us in a loud decisive tone
That want is here a stranger, and that misery’s unknown;
For where the nearest suburb and the city proper meet
My window-sill is level with the faces in the street —
Drifting past, drifting past,
To the beat of weary feet —
While I sorrow for the owners of those faces in the street.
And cause I have to sorrow, in a land so young and fair,
To see upon those faces stamped the marks of Want and Care;
I look in vain for traces of the fresh and fair and sweet
In sallow, sunken faces that are drifting through the street —
Drifting on, drifting on,
To the scrape of restless feet;
I can sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street.

Read More

The Deadly Global War for Sand

Wired, By Vince Beiser, March 26

The killers rolled slowly down the narrow alley, three men jammed onto a single motorcycle. It was a little after 11 am on July 31, 2013, the sun beating down on the low, modest residential buildings lining a back street in the Indian farming village of Raipur. Faint smells of cooking spices, dust, and sewage seasoned the air. The men stopped the bike in front of the orange door of a two-story brick-and-plaster house. Two of them dismounted, eased open the unlocked door, and slipped into the darkened bedroom on the other side. White kerchiefs covered their lower faces. One of them carried a pistol.

Inside the bedroom Paleram Chauhan, a 52-year-old farmer, was napping after an early lunch. In the next room, his wife and daughter-in-law were cleaning up while Paleram’s son played with his own 3-year-old boy.

Gunshots thundered through the house. Preeti Chauhan, Paleram’s daughter-in-law, rushed into Paleram’s room, her husband, Ravindra, right behind her. Through the open door, they saw the killers jump back on their bike and roar away.
Read More

Passphrases That You Can Memorize — But That Even the NSA Can’t Guess

The Intercept, By Micah Lee, March 26

It’s getting easier to secure your digital privacy. iPhones now encrypt a great deal of personal information; hard drives on Mac and Windows 8.1 computers are now automatically locked down; even Facebook, which made a fortune on open sharing, is providing end-to-end encryption in the chat tool WhatsApp. But none of this technology offers as much protection as you may think if you don’t know how to come up with a good passphrase.

A passphrase is like a password, but longer and more secure. In essence, it’s an encryption key that you memorize. Once you start caring more deeply about your privacy and improving your computer security habits, one of the first roadblocks you’ll run into is having to create a passphrase. You can’t secure much without one.

For example, when you encrypt your hard drive, a USB stick, or a document on your computer, the disk encryption is often only as strong as your passphrase. If you use a password database, or the password-saving feature in your web browser, you’ll want to set a strong master passphrase to protect them. If you want to encrypt your email with PGP, you protect your private key with a passphrase. In his first email to Laura Poitras, Edward Snowden wrote, “Please confirm that no one has ever had a copy of your private key and that it uses a strong passphrase. Assume your adversary is capable of one trillion guesses per second.”

In this post, I outline a simple way to come up with easy-to-memorize but very secure passphrases. It’s the latest entry in an ongoing series of stories offering solutions — partial and imperfect but useful solutions — to the many surveillance-related problems we aggressively report about here at The Intercept.

Kingdom of Shadows–the aftermath

I spent the last three days watching Bernardo Ruiz’s Kingdom of Shadows at the SXSW movie festival in Austin. I appear in the film, along with a nun from Monterrey, Mexico and an agent from the Department of Homeland Security in El Paso.

After screenings, we took questions from the audience, but sessions were too short to adequately address issues related to the subject matter of the film—the effect of drugs and drug prohibition on our societies.

Read More

Class and the Classroom

How Elite Universities Are Hurting America

Foreign Affairs, By George Scialabba, March / April 2015

One of the most fruitful ideas to emerge from twentieth-century social theory is Max Weber’s notion of the “iron cage” of purposive rationality. Weber argued that once some principle of organization—market competition, say, or ideological orthodoxy—has achieved dominance in the spheres of production and governance, the rest of a society’s institutions find themselves gradually but inexorably adopting the same principle. In an ideology-dominant society, everything fluid turns to stone; in a market-dominant society, everything solid melts into air.

Not everything, of course. The iron cage is, like most other useful theoretical notions, an ideal type. All societies retain protected (or neglected) spaces where not-yet-rationalized traditions and communities flourish. Still, although the mills of rationalization turn slowly, they grind exceedingly fine. In time, Weber believed, every practice or institution in a modern society, regardless of its original purpose, experiences an irresistible pressure to adapt to the society’s fundamental organizing principle.

Read More

The Other Reason

In the history of the United States, only three Presidents have ever been elected to the office of President of the United States directly out of the US Senate.

Of those, only Barack Obama failed to complete his first term (ironically, the other two, Warren Harding and John Kennedy, were elected as their first term in the Senate was ending.)

Read More

H Clinton’s Rebuttal

McClatchy, By Anita Kumar, March 10

While 47 Republican Senators are lecturing the world about the role of the President in making treaties, H Clinton is decidedly more interesting if you judge by the amount of airtime and column-space given her story on the news.

(Per McClatchy):

Clinton said she turned over about 30,000 work emails, none with classified material, to the State Department after destroying another 30,000 private emails that were “not in any way related to my work.” She said those included correspondence about her daughter’s wedding, her mother’s funeral, yoga routines and family vacations.

“No one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy,” she said. “I didn’t see any reason to keep them.

My bet is the NSA has every one of those “destroyed” emails and is sharing them with Benghazi Brigade in Congress. And I will bet they will surface, possibly including the ones the President sent her. It wouldn’t surprise me if the President’s were subpoenaed.

And I will further bet that nobody is going to talk the Logan Act to 47 Republican Senators.

Ah, yes, it is undoubtedly better to look forward than to look back. I can hear the President now…..

American Spring in Chicago

Rahm Emanuel, the Face of Democratic Fascism, Deserves to Lose

By William Boardman – Reader Supported News (3.5.15)

Police-state challenge could nurture democracy and an American Spring

Chicago’s mayoral election may look like a local event, and the media mostly cover it as a local event, but the presence of a large, diverse, and energized opposition demanding change on basic issues of fairness and justice gives the city’s local result a potentially important, totemic meaning for the country. The winner of the April 7 runoff election may signify whether peaceful change is possible, or whether the suffocating status quo will grow more stifling.

There is another way of gauging the April vote: is Chicago yet ready to reject the police state practices of its local government? Is Chicago ready to reject a mayor who seems content to allow police state behavior to go unexamined and unpunished? Will Chicago be where a majority of Americans finally confront the nationwide plague of police hate and violence that makes the term “American justice” an oxymoron?
Read More

Take a Deep Breath Before Reading What Follows

Normally I prefer to wait a day or two before posting about any news item.  More than likely there is more information to follow, and time allows for a more judicious interpretation of events.  Not today.  Not with something I read this afternoon.  Here is the text of a letter sent today from the U.S. Senate to Ayatollah Khamenei and other senior leaders of Iran.  The letter was signed by 47 Republican Senators.

 

Read More

3bb1012ca7881a903f6bb688401857a5453d3be4