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Posts Tagged ‘THE WALL STREET JOURNAL’

THE GOOD NEWS IN THE ASHLEY MADISON SCANDAL

In Bureaucracy, Business, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on August 26, 2015 at 9:50 am

It’s the nightmare-come-true for corporate America.

Name-brand companies, trusted by millions, hit with massive data breaches.

And with a series of keystrokes, the most sensitive financial and personal information of their employees and/or customers is compromised.

Among those companies:

  • Target
  • Kmart
  • Home Depot
  • JPMorgan/Chase
  • Staples
  • Dairy Queen
  • Anthem, Inc.
  • Sony Pictures
  • Primera Blue Cross
  • U.S. Postal Service

Click here: Data Breach Tracker: All the Major Companies That Have Been Hacked | Money.com

And as of July 15, Ashley Madison joined this list.

Ashley Madison is, of course, the notorious website for cheating wives and husbands.

Launched in 2001, its catchy slogan is: “Life is short.  Have an affair.”

One of its ads featured a photo of a woman apparently kneeling at the feet of a bare-chested man, her hand passionately clawing at his belt.  Next to her was the caption: “Join FREE & change your life today.  Guaranteed!”

Ashley Madison - Ashley Madison Agency

Ashley Madison claims to have more than 37 million members.  And now, untold numbers of them may find their lives changed forever.

Its hackers were enraged at the company’s refusal to fully delete users’ profiles unless it received a $19 fee.

Referring to themselves as “The Impact Team,” they stated in an online manifesto: “Full Delete netted [Avid Life Media, the parent company of Ashley Madison] $1.7 million in revenue in 2014.  It’s also a complete lie.

“Users almost always pay with credit card; their purchase details are not removed as promised, and include real names and address, which is of course the most important information the users want removed.”

On July 20, Avid Life Media defended the service, and said it would make it free.

Adultery-dating website Ashley Madison hacked

The hackers demanded: “AM [Ashley Madison] AND EM [Established Men] MUST SHUT DOWN IMMEDIATELY PERMANENTLY.

“We have taken over all systems in your entire office and production domains, all customer information databases, source code repositories, financial records, emails.

“Shutting down AM and EM will cost you, but non-compliance will cost you more.”

The hackers threatened to “release all customer records, including profiles with all the customers’ secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails.”

Avid Life Media assured its customers that it had hired “one of the world’s top IT security teams” to work on the breach:

“At this time, we have been able to secure our sites, and close the unauthorized access points. We are working with law enforcement agencies, which are investigating this criminal act.”

This statement gives new meaning to the phrase, “Closing the barn door after the cow has gotten out.”

And it raises the question: Why wasn’t this “top IT security team” hired at the outset?

After all, its database is a blackmailer’s dream-come-true. Yet apparently its owners didn’t care enough about the privacy of their customers to provide adequate security.

On August 18, the hackers began releasing their pirated information.

As usual during a corporation’s data breach, Ashley Madison issued a reassuring statement: “We are working with law enforcement agencies, which are investigating this criminal act.

“Any and all parties responsible for this act of cyber-terrorism will be held responsible.”

Eight of those customers (so far) have decided to hold Ashley Madison responsible. They have filed lawsuits against the company in California, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas.

They seek class-action status to represent Ashley Madison’s 37 million users.

The lawsuits claim negligence, breach of contract and privacy violations. They charge that Ashley Madison failed to take reasonable steps to protect the security of its users, including those who paid the $19 fee to have their information deleted.

If they win–and force the owners of Ashley Madison to pay up big-time–this could set a precedent for lawsuits by other victims of such data breaches.

An October 22, 2014 “commentary” published in Forbes magazine raised the highly disturbing question: “Cybersecurity: Does Corporate America Really Care?”

And the answer is clearly: No.

Its author is John Hering, co-founder and executive director of Lookout, which bills itself as “the world leader in mobile security for consumers and enterprises alike.”

Click here: Cybersecurity: Does corporate America really care?

“One thing is clear,” writes Hering. “CEOs need to put security on their strategic agendas alongside revenue growth and other issues given priority in boardrooms.”

Hering warns that “CEOs don’t seem to be making security a priority.”  And he offers several reasons for this:

  • The sheer number of data compromises;
  • Relatively little consumer outcry;
  • Almost no impact on the companies’ standing on Wall Street;
  • Executives may consider such breaches part of the cost of doing business.

“Sales figures and new products are top of mind,” writes Hering. “Shoring up IT systems aren’t.”

The key to sharply reducing data breaches lies in holding greed-obsessed CEOs financially accountable for their criminal negligence.

Only then will their  mindset of “We don’t care, we don’t have to” be replaced with: “We care, because our heads will roll if we don’t.”

TWO LIVES, TWO LEGACIES

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on August 24, 2015 at 12:32 am

Benjamin C. Bradlee and Richard M. Nixon.

Both men were driven to succeed.  And both achieved fame and power in doing so.

Bradlee made his name in journalism.

Benjamin C. Bradlee

Nixon made his in politics.

Richard M. Nixon

Both served in the United States Navy in the Pacific during World War II.

Both had strong connections to John F. Kennedy.

  • Bradlee knew him as a friend and reporter during JFK’s years as a Senator and President.
  • Nixon–as a Senator and later Vice President–knew Kennedy as a Senatorial colleague and as a political adversary, unsuccessfully contesting him for the Presidency in 1960.

For both, 1948 was a pivotal year.

  • Bradlee joined The Washington Post as a reporter.
  • Nixon, as a U.S. Representative, accused Algier Hiss, a former State Department official, of having been a Communist spy.  Hiss was eventually convicted of perjury and sent to prison.

Both attained their positions of maximum power in 1968.

  • Bradlee became executive editor of The Washington Post.
  • Nixon became the 37th President of the United States.

Bradlee made it his business to dig up the truth.  Nixon made it his business to distort the truth–or to conceal it when distortion wasn’t enough.

Nixon and Bradlee had their first major clash in 1971 with the Pentagon Papers, a secret government study of how the United States became enmeshed in the Vietnam war.

  • Although the Papers concerned events that had occurred during the Presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, Nixon was outraged at their release by a former Defense Department analyst named Daniel Ellsburg.
  • Nixon ordered his Attorney General, John Mitchell, to enjoin The New York Times–which had begun publishing the study–from continuing to publish its revelations.
  • Bradlee, as executive editor of The Washington Post, urged his publisher, Katherine Graham, to take over where the Times had left off.
  • The controversey ended when the Supreme Court ruled, 6–3, that the government failed to meet the burden of proof required for prior restraint of the press.

In 1972, Bradlee and Nixon squared off for their most important battle–a “third-rate burglary” of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel.

Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and Benjamin C. Bradlee

  • Bradlee backed two young, aggressive reporters named Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, as they probed the burglary.
  • This led to their discovering a series of illegal dirty tricks the Nixon re-election campaign had aimed at various Democratic opponents.
  • The Post’s revelations led to the formation of the Senate Watergate Committee, the discovery of Nixon’s tape-recordings of his private–and criminal–conversations, and, finally, to Nixon’s own resignation in disgrace on August 9, 1974.
  • Bradlee was one of only four men who knew the identity of “Deep Throat,” Woodward and Bernstein’s famous undercover source, then-FBI Associate Director W. Mark Felt.  Felt outed himself in 2005.
  • Nixon, who died in 1994, never learned the identity of the most famous whistleblower in history.

Bradlee became an advocate for education and the study of history.

Nixon entered history as the only American President forced to resign from office.

Richard Nixon saying farewell at the White House

Bradlee became a media celebrity.  Nixon became a media target.

  • Bradlee was portrayed by Jason Robards in the hit 1976 film, All the President’s Men (for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor).
  • Nixon was portrayed–in Oliver Stone’s 1995 drama, Nixon–by Anthony Hopkins.

Bradlee and Nixon each published a series of books.

  • Bradlee’s: That Special Grace and Conversations With Kennedy focused on his longtime friendship with John F. Kennedy.  A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures was Bradlee’s memoirs.
  • Nixon’s:  Among his 11 titles: Six Crises; RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon; The Real War; Leaders; Real Peace; No More Vietnams; Beyond Peace.

After leaving the White House, Nixon worked hard behind-the-scenes to refashion himself into an elder statesman of the Republican Party.

  • Throughout the 1980s, he traveled the lecture circuit, wrote books, and met with many foreign leaders, especially those of Third World countries.
  • He supported Ronald Reagan for president in 1980, making television appearances portraying himself as the senior statesman above the fray.
  • For the rest of his life, he fought ferociously through the courts to prevent the release of most of the infamous “Watergate tapes” that chronicled his crimes as President.
  • Only since his death have many of these been made public.

Nixon died on April 22, 1994.

  • Eulogists at his funeral included President Bill Clinton and former Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, California Governor Pete Wilson and the Reverend Billy Graham.
  • Despite his efforts to portray himself as an elder statesman, Nixon could never erase his infamy as the only President to resign in disgrace.
  • To this day, he remains a nonperson within the Republican Party.  While numerous Republican Presidential candidates quote and identify themselves with Ronald Reagan, none has done the same with Nixon.

Bradlee remained executive editor of The Washington Post until retiring in 1991. But he continued to serve as vice president-at-large until his death on October 21, 2014.

  • In 2007, he received the French Legion of Honor, the highest award given by the French government, at a ceremony in Paris.
  • In 2013, he was named as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. He was presented the medal at a White House ceremony on November 20, 2013.

SPOTTING EVASIONS: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on August 17, 2015 at 12:05 am

As the August 6 Republican debate wore on, so did the evasive answers.

Chris Wallace, Fox News Commentator to Businessman Donald Trump: “In 2011, you told Forbes magazine that ‘I’ve used the laws of the country to advantage.’  But at the same time, financial experts involved in those bankruptcies say that lenders to your companies lost billions of dollars.

“…With that record, why should we trust you to run the nation’s business?”

TRUMP: “Because I have used the laws of this country just like the greatest people that you read about every day in business have used the laws of this country, the chapter laws, to do a great job for my company, for myself, for my employees, for my family, et cetra.  I have never gone bankrupt, by the way.”

[Trump totally ignored the charge that “lenders to your companies lost billions of dollars.”  He bragged that he had “used the laws” to “do a great job for my company….”   He seemed to be saying that as long as he made a killing, it didn’t matter if his lenders got nothing.]  

Donald Trump

Chris Wallace persisted in his questioning: “Well, sir, let’s just talk about the latest example, which is Trump Entertainment Resorts, which went bankrupt in 2009.

“In that case alone, lenders to your company lost over $1 billion and more than $1,100 people were laid off.  Is that the way that you’d run the country?”

TRUMP: “…First of al, these lenders aren’t babies. These are total killers….And I had the good sense to leave Atlantic City….Every company virtually in Atlantic City went bankrupt.

“…Seven years ago I left Atlantic City before it totally cratered, and I made a lot of money in Atlantic City, and I’m very proud of it….”

WALLACE:  “So….”

TRUMP: “And by the way, this country right now owes $19 trillion.  And they need somebody like me to straighten out that mess.”

[Trump bragged about making “a lot of money” in Atlantic City while ignoring the jobs lost by his employees and the monies lost by his lenders.  He said that America needed “somebody like me” to straighten out its financial mess.

[But there is a difference between making a profit for yourself as a businessman and ensuring a just society for all Americans as President.]

Fox News Moderator Megyn Kelly to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush: “…A story appeared today quoting an anonymous GOP donor who said you called Mr. Trump a clown, a buffoon….”

BUSH: “None of which is true.”

Then, after saying “I want to win,” he attacked President Barack Obama:

“We’re not going to win by doing what Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton do each and every day. Dividing the country. Saying, creating a grievance kind of environment.”

[From literally the first day Obama’s Presidency, Republicans tried to block every piece of legislation he proposed. This was especially true of his efforts to provide healthcare for all Americans.

[Thus, Bush slandered the President and distorted history while denying that he had slandered Trump.]

Jeb Bush

Sometimes it is the moderator who raises non-issues, as Megyn Kelly did with Senator Rand Paul:

“In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on same sex marriage…what will you do to ensure Christians are not prosecuted for speaking out against gay marriage….?”

[Christians are not being “prosecuted for speaking out against gay marriage.”  The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, especially on controversial issues.]

Fox News Moderator Brett Baier asked Dr. Benjamin Carson: “As President, would you have used military force [in Syria, when its dictator, Bashir al-Assad, was found to have used chemical weapons against his own citizens]?”

CARSON: “…I would shore up our military first, because if you don’t get the military right, nothing else is going to work.”

[In short, Carson didn’t say whether he would have used military force in Syria.]

* * * * *

So how do you tell when a politician is evading?

First, educate yourself on the issues. If you know that President George W. Bush intended to go to war with Iraq when he took office in 2001, you won’t buy the line that he was the victim of poor intelligence two years later.

Second, pay attention to the question being asked. If it seeks a specific answer, the failure of a candidate to give one will alert you that s/he’s evading.  Be especially alert to the unwillingness of candidates to directly answer “Yes” or “No” questions.

Third, look for contradictions in the candidates’ statements. If he describes himself as “pro-life” but calls for huge increases in the nuclear arsenal, it means: He’s anti-abortion but pro-slaughter–so long as the victims aren’t fetuses.

Fourth, beware of meaningless babble.  A favorite trick of highly-polished debators–such as President John F. Kennedy–is to throw out impressive-sounding statistics which seem to answer the question but don’t.

Fifth, beware the emotion-charged story. To inflame Americans against Saddam Hussein in 1991, President George H.W. Bush clamed that Iraqi soldiers had ripped Kuwaiti babies from incubators. Only after the Gulf (oil) war did the story prove to be false.

SPOTTING EVASIONS: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on August 14, 2015 at 12:30 am

Most politicians are masters at evading questions they don’t want to answer.  And they are equally adept at giving answers that seem to be candid but in fact say nothing.

These skills were on full display during the August 6 GOP debate hosted by the Fox News Network.

For example:

Business Executive Donald Trump had just slammed the Federal Government’s failure to control illegal immigration.

And Fox News Moderator Chris Wallace wanted to know if Ohio Governor John Kasich agreed with him:

“When you say that the American government is stupid, that the Mexican government is sending criminals, that we’re being bamboozled, is that an adequate response to the question of illegal immigration?”

Related image

John Kasich

KASICH: “Now, he’s got his solutions.  Some of us have other solutions.  You know, look, I balanced the federal budget as one of the chief architects when I was in Washington.  Hasn’t been done since.

“I was a military reformer. I took the state of Ohio from an $8 billion hole and a 350,000 job loss to a $2 billion surplus and a gain of 350,000 jobs.”

[Kasich, more liberal-minded than his fellow Republicans, didn’t want to condemn Trump’s hawkish views. If he did, he would lose support from the anti-immigrant Republican base. So he changed the subject to his economic policies as governor of Ohio.]

WALLACE: “Respectfully, can we talk about illegal immigration?”

KASICH: “But the point is that we all have solutions. Mr. Trump is touching a nerve because people want the wall to be built. They want to see an end to illegal immigration.

“They want to see it, and we all do. But we all have different ways of getting there. And you’re going to hear from all of us tonight about what our ideas are.”

[Kasich totally evaded the question. He said that “we all have solutions” to illegal immigration.  But he never offered his.]

Fox News Moderator Megyn Kelly to Florida Governor Jeb Bush: “…For days on end in this campaign, you struggled to answer a question about whether knowing what we know now…we would’ve invaded Iraq….

“You finally said ‘No.'”

“To the families of those who died in that war who say they liberated and deposed a ruthless dictator, how do you look at them now and say that your brothers war was a mistake?”

Related image

Jeb Bush

BUSH:  “Knowing what we know now, with faulty intelligence, and not having security be the first priority when — when we invaded, it was a mistake. I wouldn’t have gone in.”

[Bush’s reply totally ignored that his brother, President George W. Bush, deliberately ignored all evidence that Saddam Hussein did not pose a threat to the United States.

[He also ignored the fact that his brother provoked a needless, bloody and financially ruinous war in Iraq.]

BUSH:  “…As governor of the state of Florida, I called every one of [the families who had lost members in Iraq and expressed his condolences].

“…And, every one of them said that their child did not die in vain, or their wife, of their husband did not die in vain.  So, why it was difficult for me to do it was based on that.”

[This sounded plausible.  But then Bush moved to shift the blame from his brother to President Barack Obama.]  

BUSH: “Here’s the lesson that we should take from this, which relates to this whole subject, Barack Obama became president, and he abandoned Iraq.

“He left, and when he left Al Qaida was done for. ISIS was created because of the void that we left, and that void now exists as a caliphate the size of Indiana.”

[In fact, “ISIS was created because of the void” that emerged when Bush toppled Saddam Hussein. Hussein’s dictatorial rule had suppressed religious-based terror organizations like Al Qaeda and ISIS.]

For News Moderator Megyn Kelly asked Dr. Benjamin Carson: “Your critics say that your [foreign policy] inexperience shows.

“You’ve suggested that the Baltic States are not a part of NATO, just months ago you were unfamiliar with the major political parties and government in Israel, and domestically, you thought Alan Greenspan had been treasury secretary instead of federal reserve chair.

“Aren’t these basic mistakes, and don’t they raise legitimate questions about whether you are ready to be president?”

CARSON: “So, you know, experience comes from a large number of different arenas, and America became a great nation early on not because it was flooded with politicians, but because it was flooded with people who understood the value of personal responsibility, hard work, creativity, innovation, and that’s what will get us on the right track now, as well.”

[Carson totally evaded the question. He implied that other qualities–such as “hard work, creativity, innovation”–would make up for his lack of foreign policy experience and knowledge.]

SPOTTING EVASIONS: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on August 13, 2015 at 12:58 am

“For men in general judge more by the eyes than by the hands, for every one can see, but very few have to feel.  Everyone sees what you appear to be, few feel what you are.”

So wrote Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern politics, in his infamous book, The Prince.  

It’s a sentment that voters should constantly keep in mind–especially when watching televised debates between opposing candidates.

The August 6 GOP debate offered many examples of men appearing to address questions put to them. In fact, they generally refused to directly address the issues raised by the three Fox News Network commentators.

The candidates of the Fox News GOP debate

The evasions began early.

Fox News Moderator Megyn Kelly to Media Mogul Donald Trump: “Mr. Trump…you’ve called women you don’t like “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.”

“Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees.

“Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?

TRUMP: “I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct.”

Related image

Donald Trump

[Trump did not refute that he had made insulting remarks about women.  He simply claimed that he was the victim of Political Correctness. And Kelly did not call him on his evasiveness.]

Then Kelly moved on to the subject of abortion–and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

KELLY: “Governor Walker, you’ve consistently said that you want to make abortion illegal even in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.

“You recently signed an abortion law in Wisconsin that does have an exception for the mother’s life, but you’re on the record as having objected to it.

“Would you really let a mother die rather than have an abortion, and with 83% of the American public in favor of a life exception, are you too out of the mainstream on this issue to win the general election?

WALKER: “Well, I’m pro-life, I’ve always been pro-life, and I’ve got a position that I think is consistent with many Americans out there in that…

“…in that I believe that that is an unborn child that’s in need of protection out there, and I’ve said many a time that that unborn child can be protected, and there are many other alternatives that can also protect the life of that mother. That’s been consistently proven.”

Related image

Scott Walker 

[Clearly, Walker did not want to admit that he would allow a woman to die rather than have an abortion.  Nor did he want to admit that he would force a victim of rape or incest to carry to full term the fetus of that victimizer.

[So he simply claimed that “there are many other alternatives that can also protect the life of that mother” without offering any evidence to prove it.]

Fox News Moderator Chris Wallace to Donald Trump:

“…You have repeatedly said that you have evidence that the Mexican government is doing this, but you have evidence you have refused or declined to share.

“Why not use this first Republican presidential debate to share your proof with the American people?”

TRUMP: “Border Patrol, I was at the border last week. Border Patrol, people that I deal with, that I talk to, they say this is what’s happening….”

[Trump’s “evidence” was strictly anecdotal.  He cited unmamed “Border Patrol” sources for his general statement and offered nothing more.]

Fox News Moderator Chris Wallace to Ohio Governor John Kasich on illegal immigration:

WALLACE: “Governor Kasich, I know you don’t like to talk about Donald Trump. But I do want to ask you about the merit of what he just said.

“When you say that the American government is stupid, that the Mexican government is sending criminals, that we’re being bamboozled, is that an adequate response to the question of illegal immigration?

KASICH: “Chris, first of all, I was just saying to Chris Christie, they say we’re outspoken, we need to take lessons from Donald Trump if we’re really going to learn it. Here is the thing about Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump is hitting a nerve in this country. He is. He’s hitting a nerve. People are frustrated. They’re fed up. They don’t think the government is working for them. And for people who want to just tune him out, they’re making a mistake.

[Kasich was avoiding giving a direct answer. More liberal-minded than most Republicans, he didn’t want to alienate their Right-wing base by opposing his party’s “deport them all” position.

[He needed time to think of a response that wouldn’t cost him votes–and bought it by throwing cheap flattery at Trump.]

THE TRUTH–AND THE DIRT–WILL OUT

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on August 12, 2015 at 1:31 pm

On April 23, the family of teen thug Michael Brown filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, Missouri.

Brown, 18, was shot by a Ferguson police officer on August 9, 2014.  Brown was unarmed, but the officer–Darren Wilson, who has since left the police department–claimed self-defense.  According to him, Brown tried to seize his weapon.

The lawsuit claims that:

  • Brown, 18, was unarmed and walking in the street with a friend when Wilson told them to get on the sidewalk.
  • Wilson said: “Get the [expletive] out of the street.”
  • Without the “unnecessary and unwarranted profane language,” the encounter would have been “uneventful.”

Attorneys for Brown’s parents promised the case would reveal new forensic evidence and raise doubts about the police version of events. Some of that evidence, they said, had been overlooked in previous investigations.

Seal of the Ferguson Police Department

If it comes to trial, the lawsuit could force a full review of all the evidence in the shooting and bring key witnesses to be questioned in open court.

Civil cases generally require a lower standard of proof than criminal cases. Jurors must base their decision on a preponderance of evidence, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the standard needed to convict in a criminal trial.

The reason for this is that, in a criminal trial, the freedom of the accused is at stake. In a civil trial, only money is.

The lawsuit could prove embarrassing to the Ferguson Police Department, which has already been heavily criticized in a Justice Department investigation.

The report of those findings, released on March 4, stated:

“The Justice Department found that the Ferguson Police Department (FPD) engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the First, Fourth, and 14th Amendments of the Constitution….

Seal of the U.S. Department of Justice

“Our investigation showed that Ferguson police officers routinely violate the Fourth Amendment in stopping people without reasonable suspicion, arresting them without probable cause, and using unreasonable force against them….”

Federal investigators found that the FPD had a pattern or practice of:

  • Conducting stops without reasonable suspicion and arrests without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment;
  • Interfering with the right to free expression in violation of the First Amendment; and
  • Using unreasonable force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Click here: Justice Department Announces Findings of Two Civil Rights Investigations in Ferguson, Missouri | OPA | Department

So there will be many opportunities for the Brown family to reveal highly damaging truths about the FPD.

But the trial promises to be highly embarrassing for the Brown family as well.

Consider the following:

Michael Brown (left) roughing up a store owner

Lesley Mcspadden

Louis Head calls for arson in Ferguson

No doubt the Ferguson police will be working overtime to turn up even more embarrassing truths–or at least charges–against the Brown family.

In the end, the outcome of the lawsuit may well turn on who can dig up more dirt on whom.

HONORING SAINT MICHAEL THE THUG

In History, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on August 11, 2015 at 12:39 am

In the last moments of his life, Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black in Ferguson, Missouri, robbed a grocery store.  Then he slugged it out with a white police officer.

The second action proved a fatal mistake–with Brown being shot dead by that officer, Darren Wilson, on August 9, 2014.

During a subsequent grand jury investigation of the shooting, Wilson testified that:

  • Brown reached for Wilson’s pistol.
  • A struggle for the gun followed.
  • Fearing for his life, Wilson fired two shots, striking Brown.
  • Brown fled, and Wilson pursued him.
  • Brown turned and charged Wilson.
  • The officer fired several more shots, kiling Brown.

According to the Ferguson County Medical Examiner, the physical evidence supports Wilson’s testimony.

Related image

Darren Wilson

The physical evidence in the Michael Brown case supported the officer [updated with DNA evidence] – The Washington Post

On the night of Brown’s shooting, blacks–who make up 67.4% of the Ferguson population–found an appropriate way to honor a dead thug. They erupted in rioting, looting and arson.

Their victimized stores were not responsible for Brown’s killing. And most of their owners were blacks–not white police officers. But unarmed store owners were more tempting targets than armed police.

And gorcery, electronics and liquor stores offered a treasury of goodies not found at police stations.

A state of emergency was declared.

On August 9, 2015, Ferguson blacks observed the one-year “anniversary” of Brown’s shooting the same way–with more rioting, looting and arson.

Once again, a state of emergency was declared by Missouri authorities.

With protesters intent on canonizing Brown, it’s long past time to set the record straight.

Shortly after the killing of Michael Brown, police released a video showing him robbing a grocery store and manhandling its owner.

SURVEILLANCE VIDEO: Police say Michael Brown was suspect in Ferguson store robbery – YouTube

FACT: Blacks were outraged–not because they believed it wasn’t Michael on the videotape, but because it showed their anointed hero as a robbing thug.

Michael Brown (left) roughing up a store owner

Following the shooting of Brown on August 9, 2014, police deployed massive force to prevent rioting–which erupted anyway. Ferguson’s blacks charged that it was militarized overkill.

Riot police deploying in Ferguson, Missouri

FACT: When the grand jury released its findings on November 24, Ferguson blacks once again started looting and burning stores.

Then blacks raged that the police should have had a massive presence to keep their brethren in line.

Many Ferguson blacks complained that the grand jury was taking too long (three months) interviewing scores of witnesses before reaching its verdict.

FACT: When the verdict was released, Ferguson blacks said the grand jurors should have examined less evidence, so they wouldn’t have been confused by conflicting statements.

Ferguson blacks generally and the Brown family in particular have repeatedly called Michael Brown “a child.”

FACT: Michael Brown was 18–legally an adult who could obtain a credit card, enter the armed forces and drive a car.  He also stood 6’3″ and weighed 300 pounds.

The Brown family has claimed that Michael didn’t have a criminal record as an adult.

FACT: But he may have had a juvenile one.

The citizen journalism website GotNews has filed a lawsuit against St. Louis authorities seeking the release of Brown’s juvenile record. The suit alleges that Brown was a gang member and faced a second-degree murder charge.

Lawsuit seeking release of Michael Brown’s juvenile records claims slain teen was a murder suspect – AOL.com

Michael’s mother, Lesley Mcspadden, has claimed that “My son was running for his life.”

FACT:  The autopsy of Michael Brown demonstrates that he was facing Darren Wilson when he was hit by police bullets.

FACT:  Lesley Mcspadden herself could face felony armed robbery charges. 

On Octiber 18, 2014, she allegedly led a group of 20 to 30 people to beat and rob vendors in a Ferguson parking lot for selling “Justice for Mike Brown” T-shirts. Among the victims: Her former mother-in-law.

One person was hospitalized and another unidentified victim was reportedly beaten with a pipe.

The Ferguson Police Department is investigating.

Michael Brown’s mom may face robbery charges: report – NY Daily News

Michael Brown’s stepfather, Louis Head, may stand trial for incing arson.

FACT: When the grand jury released its findings on November 24, 2014, Louis Head, standing atop a platform surrounded by hundreds of frenzied protesters, screamed at least 10 times: “Burn this motherfucker [Ferguson] down!” and “Burn this bitch down!”

Louis Head calling for arson in Ferguson

Head may well find himself the target of criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits.

Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder called for Head’s arrest for inciting to riot.

And those whose stores were burned and/or looted could file civil lawsuits against Head as being liable for their losses.

In honoring this family of thugdom, the residents of Ferguson dishonor themselves.

BLACK THUGS MATTER

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on August 4, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Blacks make up 13% of the American population, according to the 2010 census of the United States.

But they committed 52% of homicides between 1980 and 2008, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.  Only 45% of whites were offenders in such cases.

Blacks were disproportionately likely to commit homicide and to be the victims. In 2008 blacks were seven times more likely than whites to commit homicide. And they were six times more likely than whites to be homicide victims.

According to the FBI, blacks were responsible for 38% of murders, compared to 31.1% for whites, in 2013.

From  2011 to 2013, 38.5% of people arrested for murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault were black.

Click here: FactCheck: do black Americans commit more crime?

In 1971, Robert Daley, a reporter for the New York Times, became a deputy police commissioner for the New York Police Department (NYPD).

In that capacity, he saw the NYPD from the highest levels to the lowest–from the ornate, awe-inspiring office of  Police Commissioner Patrick Murphy to the gritty, sometimes blood-soaked streets of New York.

He spent one year on the job before resigning–later admitting that when he agreed to take the job, he got more than he bargained for.

It proved to be a tumultuous year in the NYPD’s history: Among those challenges Daley and his fellow NYPD members faced were the murders of several police officers, committed by members of the militant Black Liberation Army.

Two of those murdered officers were Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini.  Jones was black, Piagentini white; both were partners.  Both were shot in the back without a chance to defend themselves.

Writing about these murders in a bestselling 1973 book–Target Blue: An Inside’s View of the N.Y.P.D.–Daley noted:

  • Jones and Piagentini were the sixth and seventh policemen–of ten–murdered in 1971.
  • About 18 men were involved in these murders.  All were black.
  • The city’s politicians knew this–and so did Commissioner Murphy.  None dared say so publicly.

“But the fact remained,” wrote Daley, “that approximately 65% of the city’s arrested murderers, muggers, armed robbers, proved to be black men; about 15% were of Hispanic origin; and about 20% were white [my italics].”

The overall racial breakdown of the city was approximately:

  • Whites, 63%;
  • Blacks, 20%;
  • Hispanics 17%.

Stated another way: Blacks, who made up 20% of the city’s population, were responsible for 65% of the city’s major crimes.

Or, as Daley himself put it: “So the dangerous precincts, any cop would tell you, were the black precincts.”

That was 42 years ago.

Now, consider the following statistics released by the NYPD for “Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York City” in 2012.  Its introduction states:

“This report presents statistics on race/ethnicity compiled from the New York City Police Department’s records management system.”

Then come the guts of the report:

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter Victims:

  • Black (60.1%)
  • Hispanic (26.7%)
  • White victims (8.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (4.2%)

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter Arrestees:

  • Black (51.4%)
  • Hispanic (36.7%)
  • White (9.2%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (2.6%)

Rape Victims:

  • Black (37.9%)
  • Hispanic (36.9%)
  • White victims (19.2%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.4%)

Rape Arrestees:

  • Black (48.6%)
  • Hispanic (42.8%)
  • White (5.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.1%)

Other Felony Sex Crimes Victims:

  • Black (40.7%)
  • Hispanic (33.6%)
  • White victims (19.6%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.9%)

Known Other Felony Sex Crime Arrestees:

  • Black (42.3%)
  • Hispanic (39.8%)
  • White (12.6%)
  • Asian /Pacific Islander (5.1%)

Robbery Victims:

  • Hispanic (36.1%)
  • Black (31.9%)
  • White victims (18.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (12.8%)

Robbery Arrestees:

  • Black (62.1%)
  • Hispanic (29.0%)
  • White (6.2%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (2.5%)

Felonious Assault Victims:

  • Black (47.8%)
  • Hispanic (33.6%)
  • White (12.4%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.5%)

Felonious Assault Arrestees:

  • Black (52.3%)
  • Hispanic (33.6%)
  • White (9.4%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (4.5%)

Grand Larceny Victims:

  • White (42.4%)
  • Black (25.0%)
  • Hispanic (20.1%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (11.8%)

Grand Larceny Arrestees:

  • Black (52.0%) 
  • Hispanic (28.5%)
  • White (14.6%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (4.8%)

Shooting Victims:

  • Black (74.1%)
  • Hispanic (22.2%)
  • White (2.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (0.8%)

Shooting Arrestees:

  • Black (75.0%)
  • Hispanic (22.0%)
  • White (2.4%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (0.6%)

Drug Felony Arrest Population:

  • Black (45.3%)
  • Hispanic (40.0%)
  • White (12.7%)
  • Asian Pacific Islanders (1.9%)

The Drug Misdemeanor Arrest Population

  • Black (49.9%)
  • Hispanic (34.5%)
  • White (13.3%)
  • Asian Pacific Islanders (2.1%)

The Felony Stolen Property Arrest Population:

  • Black (52.5%)
  • Hispanic (28.9%)
  • White (14.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (4.0%)

The Misdemeanor Stolen Property Arrest Population:

  • Black (47.1%)
  • Hispanic (30.2%)
  • White (16.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.4%)

Violent Crime Suspects:

  • Black (66.0%)
  • Hispanic (26.1%)
  • White (5.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (1.9%)

Reported Crime Complaint Juvenile Victims:

  • Black (43.5%)
  • Hispanic (38.7%)
  • White (11.6%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (5.8%)

Juvenile Crime Complaint Arrestees:

  • Black (58.6%)
  • Hispanic (32.6%)
  • White (5.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (2.8%)

Appendix B of the report offers a breakdown of New York City’s racial makeup:

                                            Total Numbers      % the City’s Population  

  • White                                              2,722,904                         (33.3%)
  • Black                                              1,861,295                        (22.8%)
  • Hispanic                                          2,336,076                        (28.6%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders                  1,030,914                        (12.6%)

Thus, while Blacks make up 22.8% of New York City’s population, they comprise

  • 51.4% of its murder and non-negligent manslaughter arrests;
  • 48.6% of its rape arrests;
  • 42.3% of its known other felony sex crime arrests;
  • 62.1% of its robbery arrests;
  • 52.3% of its felonious assault arrests;
  • 52.0% of its grand larceny arrests;
  • 75.0% of its shooting arrests;
  • 45.3% of its drug felony arrests;
  • 49.9% of its drug misdemeanor arrests;
  • 52.5% of its felony stolen property arrests;
  • 47.1% of its misdemeanor stolen property arrests;
  • 66.0% of its violent crime suspects;
  • 58.6% of its juvenile crime complaint arrests.

Police, like most people, learn from their experiences.  And if the majority of their experiences with blacks continue to be with the perpetrators of crime, they will continue to associate blacks as a whole with criminals.

This is admittedly unfair to those blacks who are not involved in any way with crime. But it will continue until crime rates among blacks start falling dramatically.

A BRITISH HISTORY LESSON FOR AMERICA

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 22, 2015 at 10:13 am

The siege and fall of the Sudanese city of Khartoum is one of the truly epic stories of military history.

And in it lies an invaluable lesson for American policy-makers today.

Khartoum in the 1800s

From March 18, 1884 to January 26, 1885, the charisma and military genius of one man–British General Charles George Gordon–held at bay an army of thousands of fanatical Islamists intent on slaughtering everyone in the city.

At stake were the lives of Khartoum’s 30,000 residents.

Gordon’s story may seen antiquated.  But it bears close inspection as Republicans press the Obama Administration to commit ground forces to “freeing” Syria of its longtime dicator, “President” Bashar al Assad.

It’s a conflict Americans know nothing about–and where they have absolutely nothing to gain.

It’s not only a Syrian civil war but an inner-religious war between Shiite (minority) Muslims and Sunni (majority) Muslims.

The Assad regime is backed by the Iranian-supported terrorist group, Hezbollah (Party of God).  Its enemies include another terrorist group–Al Qaeda.

Hezbollah is comprised of Shiite Muslims, who form a minority of Islamics. A sworn enemy of Israel, it has kidnapped scores of Americans suicidal enough to visit Lebanon and truck-bombed the Marine Barracks in Beirut in 1983, killing 299 Americans.

Flag of Hezbollah

Al-Qaeda, on the other hand, is made up of Sunni Muslims, who form the majority of that religion. It considers Shiite Muslims to be “takfirs”–heretics–and thus worthy of extermination.

Al Qaeda has attacked the mosques and gatherings of liberal Muslims, Shias, Sufis and other non-Sunnis.  Examples of these sectarian attacks include the Sadr City bombings, the 2004 Ashoura massacre and the April, 2007 Baghdad bombings.

Flag of Al-Qaeda

It’s all very reminiscent of events in the 1966 epic film, “Khartoum,” starring Charlton Heston as British General Charles George Gordon.

Charlton Heston (left); Charles George Gordon (right)

In 1884, the British Government sends Gordon, a real-life hero of the Victorian era, to evacuate the Sudanese city of Khartoum.

Mohammed Achmed, a previously anonymous Sudanese, has proclaimed himself “The Madhi”  (The Expected One) and raised the cry of jihad.

The Madhi (played by Laurence Oliver) intends to drive all foreigners (of which the English are the largest group) out of Sudan, and exterminate all those Muslims who did not practice his “pure” version of Islam.

Gordon arrives in Khartoum to find he’s not fighting a rag-tag army of peasants.  Instead, the Madhi is a highly intelligent military strategist.

And Gordon, an evangelical Christian, also underestimates the Madhi’s religious fanaticism: “I seem to have suffered from the delusion that I had a monopoly on God.”

Laurence Oliver (left); Mohammed Achmed (“The Madhi”)

A surprised Gordon finds himself and 30,000 Sudanese trapped in Khartoum when the Madhi’s forces suddenly appear.  He sends off messengers and telegrams to the British Government, begging for a military relief force.

But the British Government wants nothing to do with the Sudan.  It had sent Gordon there as a sop to British public opion that “something” had to be done to quell the Madhist uprising.

The siege continues and tightens.

In Britain, the public hails Gordon as a Christian hero and demands that the Government send a relilef expedition to save him.

Prime Minister William Gladstone finally sends a token force–which arrives in Khartoum two days after the city has fallen to the Madhi’s forces.

Gordon, standing at the top of a staircase and coolly facing down his dervish enemies, is speared to death.

George W. Joy’s famous–and romanticized–painting of “The Death of Gordon”

(Actually, the best historical evidence indicates that Gordon fought to the last with pistol and sword before being overwhelmed by his dervish enemies.)

When the news reaches England, Britons mourn–and then demand vengeance for the death of their hero.

The Government, which had sought to wash its hands of the poor, militarily unimportant Sudan, suddenly has to send an army to avenge Gordon.

As the narrator of “Khartoum” intones at the close of the film:“For 15 years, the British paid the price with shame and war.”

There is a blunt lesson for Americans to learn from this episode–and from the 1966 movie, “Khartoum” itself.

Americans have been fighting in the Middle East since 2001–first in Afghanistan to destroy Al Qaeda, and then in Iraq, to pursue George W. Bush’s vendetta against Saddam Hussein.

The United States faces a crumbling infastructure, divided government and trillions of dollars in debt.

While Islamic nations like Syria and Egypt wage war within their own borders, they will lack the resources to launch attacks against the United States.

When Adolf Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, then-Senator Harry Truman said: “I hope the Russians kill lots of Nazis and vice versa.”

That should be America’s view whenever its sworn enemies start killing themselves off.   Americans should welcome such self-slaughters, not become entrapped in them.

DATA SECURITY BREACHES: “WE DON’T CARE, WE DON’T HAVE TO”: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on July 21, 2015 at 9:35 am

It’s become as routine as the robbery of the corner liquor store.

Name-brand companies, trusted by millions, hit with massive data breaches that compromise their customers’ and/or employees’ most sensitive financial and personal information.

Among those companies:

  • Target
  • Kmart
  • Home Depot
  • JPMorgan/Chase
  • Staples
  • Dairy Queen
  • Anthem, Inc.
  • Sony Pictures
  • Primera Blue Cross
  • U.S. Postal Service

Click here: Data Breach Tracker: All the Major Companies That Have Been Hacked | Money.com

And as of July 15, Ashley Madison joined this list.

Ashley Madison is, of course, the notorious website for cheating wives and husbands.

Launched in 2001, its catchy slogan is: “Life is short.  Have an affair.”

One of its ads featured a photo of a woman apparently kneeling at the feet of a bare-chested man, her hand passionately clawing at his belt.  Next to her was the caption: “Join FREE & change your life today.  Guaranteed!”  

Ashley Madison - Ashley Madison Agency

Ashley Madison claims to have more than 37 million members.

Calling themselves “The Impact Team,” hackers appear to be enraged at the company’s “full delete” service, which promises to completely erase a user’s profile and all associated data for a $19 fee.

“Full Delete netted [Avid Life Media, the parent company of Ashley Madison] $1.7 million in revenue in 2014,” the hackers were quoted as saying in an online manifesto.  “It’s also a complete lie.

“Users almost always pay with credit card; their purchase details are not removed as promised, and include real names and address, which is of course the most important information the users want removed.”

On July 20, Avid Life Media defended the service, and said it would make it free.

Adultery-dating website Ashley Madison hacked

The hackers demanded: “AM [Ashley Madison] AND EM [Established Men] MUST SHUT DOWN IMMEDIATELY PERMANENTLY.

“We have taken over all systems in your entire office and production domains, all customer information databases, source code repositories, financial records, emails.

“Shutting down AM and EM will cost you, but non-compliance will cost you more.”

The hackers threatened to “release all customer records, including profiles with all the customers’ secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails.”

Interestingly, the hackers did not target the company’s “CougarLife” website, which caters to female members seeking “a young stud.”

Avid Life Media assured its customers that it had hired “one of the world’s top IT security teams” to work on the breach:

“At this time, we have been able to secure our sites, and close the unauthorized access points. We are working with law enforcement agencies, which are investigating this criminal act.”

This statement gives new meaning to the phrase, “Closing the barn door after the cow has gotten out.”

It’s almost comical, except for the fact that the marriages of millions of people are likely to be threatened by the release of such information.

And it raises the question: Why wasn’t this “top IT security team” hired at the outset?

A website offering cheating services to those wealthy enough to afford high-priced fees is an obvious target for hackers. After all, its database is a blackmailer’s dream-come-true.

This latest breach comes about two months after a similar dating site, Adult FriendFinder–with an estimated 64 million members–was hit with a similar attack.

Again, it was clear that a site like this would be a prime target for those seeking information for blackmail. Yet apparently its owners didn’t care enough about the privacy of their customers to provide adequate security.

“Without question, this is incredibly valuable information,” said J.J. Thompson, founder and chief executive of Rook Security, an IT security firm.

“[Ashley Madison’s customers] are now vulnerable to a significant secret.”

As usual when a corporation’s data breach occurs, Ashley Madison issued a reassuring statement: “We are working with law enforcement agencies, which are investigating this criminal act.

“Any and all parties responsible for this act of cyber-terrorism will be held responsible.”

Brave-sounding words.  But if the hackers make good on their threat, many prominent men in business and politics may soon find themselves facing expensive divorces.

And if that happens, at least some of them may well decide to take out their anger and embarrassment on the websits that assured them that the highly private information they shared was “100% secure.”

That could set a precedent for lawsuits by other victims of such data breaches. Which, in turn, could force profit-obsessed corporations to responsibly protect the highly sensitive information entrusted to them.

There is an important lesson to be learned from this latest disaster.

“Stuff that’s online is pretty much not private, no matter what you might hope or think or wish for,” said Geoff Webb, senior director of solution strategy for security management firm NetIQ.

Old records, like transactions and account details, remain in company databases long after you’ve deleted an account, he said, because the company needs them for tax and other business purposes.

“There used to be an old saying that everybody ends up naked on the Internet at some point,” said Webb.

Although that was meant figuratively, patrons of websites like Ashley Madison could soon find it applying literally.

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