Politics

The Confederacy Wasn’t What You Think

From The Atlantic The Confederacy Wasn’t What You Think describes the Confederate Stats of America as nothing to do with states rights and everything to do with slavery and embraced centralized authority:

It purged the original of euphemisms, using the term slaves instead of other persons in its three-fifths and fugitive-slave clauses. It bound the Congress and territorial governments to recognize and protect “the institution of negro slavery.” But the centerpiece of the Confederate constitution—the words that upend any attempt to cast it simply as a copy of the original—was a wholly new clause that prohibited the government from ever changing the law of slavery: “No … law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.” It also moved to limit democracy by explicitly confining the right to vote to white men.

I always remind myself that they seceded before Lincoln became president.

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NYC, Politics

No justice

In a slate article discussing Amy Cooper’s threat to call police is a good summary:

Amy didn’t call the cops because she was scared of Christian the birder. That much is obvious from the video. She called them to prevail in a power struggle with a black man who dared to challenge her authority to do as she wished in public.

The media has been saturated with images of similar entitlement and rage in recent weeks, as throngs of predominantly white Americans protest COVID-19 business closures and demand their states resume business as usual, knowing that black lives disproportionately hang in the balance. These white protesters, who know they have the privilege to be armed and intimidating without facing police violence, are rejecting a shared responsibility for safe public spaces. Christian Cooper’s offense was to insist that Amy Cooper, too, had a responsibility to protect a shared public space. Amy’s response demonstrated that public safety is not shared by all

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Politics

Espionage or Journalism? After the Snowden NSA Leaks – The Atlantic

From The Atlantic Espionage or Journalism? After the Snowden NSA Leaks is it paranoia if they really are after you?

Soltani and I used laptops from which we’d removed the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth hardware, and disconnected the batteries. If a stranger appeared at the door, we merely had to tug on the quick-release power cables to switch off and re-encrypt the machines instantly. We stored the laptops in the vault and kept encryption keys on hardware, itself encrypted, that we took away with us each time we left the room, even for bathroom breaks. We sealed the USB ports. I disconnected and locked up the internet-router switch in my New York office every night. I dabbed epoxy and glitter on the screws along the bottom of all my machines, to help detect tampering in my absence. (The glitter dries in unique, random patterns.

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Politics

In Trump’s own words

A Dana Milbank column at The Washington Post is to funny and to sad to bear

A Trump fireside chat — in his own (unfortunate) words

This blindsided the world! Who could have ever predicted a thing like this? This was something that nobody has ever thought could happen to this country.

I’ve always known this is a real, this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic. I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously.

It’s a constant stream of contradictions and incoherence.

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Politics

Walmart, opioids, and Trump administration

Walmart Was Almost Charged Criminally Over Opioids. Trump Appointees Killed the Indictment.:

Opioids dispensed by Walmart pharmacies in Texas had killed customers who had overdosed. The pharmacists who dispensed those opioids had told the company they didn’t want to fill the prescriptions because they were coming from doctors who were running pill mills. They pleaded for help and guidance from Walmart’s corporate office.



Investigators had obtained records of similar cries for help from Walmart pharmacists all over the country: from Maine, North Carolina, Kansas and Washington, and other states. They reported hundreds of thousands of suspicious or inappropriate opioid prescriptions.



Before the Texas prosecutors could file their case, however, Walmart escalated concerns to high-ranking officials at the DOJ, who then intervened. Brown was ordered to stand down. On Aug. 31, 2018, Trump officials officially informed Walmart that the DOJ would decline to prosecute the company

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Politics

Atomic Labs Across the U.S. Race to Stop Iran

Interesting article in the NY Times about how scientists in nuclear research labs in the US aided the negotiations with Iran

It was over one of those dinners in Vienna last summer that several of the experts began wondering how they might find a face-saving way for Iran to convert its deep-underground enrichment plant at Fordo, a covert site exposed by the United States five years ago, into a research center. That would enable Iran to say the site was still open, and the United States could declare it was no longer a threat.“The question was what kind of experiment you can do deep underground,” recalled a participant in the dinner.

Source: Atomic Labs Across the U.S. Race to Stop Iran – NYTimes.com

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Politics

Middle East Friendship Chart

Slate has a great interactive chart showing friend/ambivalent/enemy status between middle eastern countries. In the interactive version you can click on each cell and see the explanation.

Examples such as:

Graphical version

Ranking friendliness

Taking a -1, 0, +1 to rank the entities it seems Iraq is the only country with a surplus of friends and the US isn’t looking as bad as you’d think:

  • Al-Qaida: -10 (friends with no one)
  • Egypt: -6
  • Hamas: -3
  • Hezbollah: -2
  • Iran: -2
  • Iraq: +1
  • ISIS: -12 (everybody’s enemy)
  • Israel: -6
  • Palestinian Authority: 0
  • Saudi Arabia: -3
  • Syria: -5
  • Turkey: -4
  • US: -1

Making it friendlier?

If we ignore Al-Qaida (no one’s friend) and ISIS (everyone’s enemy) the results become a little more positive but still not an outpouring of friendship:
– Egypt: -4
– Hamas: -2
– Hezbollah: 0
– Iran: -1
– Iraq: +3
– Israel: -4
– Palestinian Authority: 2
– Saudi Arabia: -1
– Syria: -3
– Turkey: -2
– US: +1

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Politics

End of the Universe

I was under the impression that the Universe would expand, contract, big bang, expand, contract, etc. Apparently there are competing theories where things just fade away. Dark Energy seems to account for the theoretical change.
Anyway, here’s a video explaining the competing theories:

And of course you need a song for that:
R.E.M. – It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)http://assets.bop.fm/embed.js

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