Trump's NSA will be able to share its firehose of surveillance data with 16 government agencies (Thanks, Obama)

The new data-sharing rules enacted by the Obama administration will allow the NSA to lawfully share the unredacted, full take of its surveillance databases with sixteen other US government agencies -- meaning that, for example, Trump's door-to-door deportation squads could use that data to figure out who's doors to break down, and his Muslim surveillance database could bootstrap itself with NSA data. Read the rest

New Senator from California can't explain why she didn't prosecute Trump's Treasury pick when she was AG

Kamala Harris was just sworn in as a senator from California, but her last gig was as California's Attorney General, and in that role, she decided not to prosecute Trump Treasury Secretary pick Steve Mnuchin, whom her office had identified as presiding over "widespread misconduct" in foreclosing on Californians -- that is, stealing their houses. Read the rest

UPDATED: Without warning, after hours, House GOP dismantles ethics watchdog

Update: They've backed down because Trump warned them it would be a distraction from taking away healthcare and giving tax cuts to rich people.

The independent Office of Congressional Ethics -- created in 2008 after three Congressmen were jailed for corruption -- has been stripped of its powers by the House GOP, who held an after-hours vote, with no notice, on Monday night. Read the rest

Korean protests in Santa suits occupy Seoul's streets, demanding removal of impeached president Park

Everybody knows that North Korea is a failed state basket-case full of starving people and multigenerational concentration camps, but South Korea is hardly the model of good governance: from the long-serving leader who stole $200M and gave it to his kids (who now live happily in America off his nest-egg) to those long-ago days of 1988 when the government kidnapped homeless people and developmentally delayed people and put them into forced labor camps -- some of which still operate today. Read the rest

How to Destroy Democracy: SF Bay Area event Jan 10 with Masha Gessen and Drew Sullivan

We hope you can join us for this urgent conversation hosted by Institute for the Future, where Mark Frauenfelder and I are researchers:

Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California invites you to join us January 10, 2017 for an eye-opening discussion about global politics, corruption, and our best hope for preserving civic society featuring:

• Masha Gessen, author of The Man Without a Face: the Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin and Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot

• Drew Sullivan, co-founder of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)

• plus additional investigative journalists from Russia and Eastern Europe.

Right-wing populist parties and autocratic leaders are gaining power in many countries, from France and Russia to Hungary and Poland. This trend long predates the recent U.S. elections that have added fuel to the fire. How did we get here? What are the real stories behind the headlines? This is a rare opportunity to hear first-hand from journalists who risk their lives analyzing the multi-trillion dollar criminal economy and uncovering corruption around the globe.

This group of journalists, along with other experts from the realms of media, academia, policy, and technology, are in the Bay Area to participate in a private convening hosted by the Institute for the Future in partnership with the Skoll Foundation and OCCRP. The convening, called The Future of Democracy: Preserving A Vibrant Civic Media, will result in a public roadmap of initiatives to preserve an open civic dialogue and strengthen democracy for everyone.

Read the rest

Once again, McDonald's NEVER paid anyone millions for serving coffee that was too hot

Everybody knows about the ridiculous McDonald's hot coffee lawsuit where a lady who spilled coffee on her lap got millions out of McDonald's in damages for a frivolous lawsuit -- and everyone is wrong. As we've previously reported, Stella Liebeck sued McDonald's after sustaining permanently disfiguring third-degree burns to her genitals and thighs because McDonald's had served its coffee at unsafe temperatures, something that had been going on for years and had severely burned 700 other people -- and she didn't get millions, she just got enough to cover her medical expenses. Read the rest

Feds charge hedge-fund managers with $1B embezzlement

According to a federal indictment, Platinum Partners founder Mark Nordlicht and four others faked the hedge fund's books for years to allow them to siphon off one billion dollars to their personal accounts, swindling 600 investors. Read the rest

Wells Fargo just hit with another massive fraud scandal, but thankfully Donald Trump owes them a lot of money

Wells Fargo didn't merely open 2,000,000 fraudulent accounts and bill its customers for them; it also tricked its customers into signing up for insurance policies, at mass-scale. Read the rest

Lawmakers' support for bank bailouts was correlated with their individual investment in banks

In The Personal Wealth Interests of Politicians and the Stabilization of Financial Markets, researchers from the London Business School and Tillburg University demonstrate the likelihood of US members of Congress voting in favor of bank bailouts was correlated with those politicians' individual investments in banking stocks. Read the rest

EFF is gathering data on illegal surveillance of Dakota Access Pipeline water protectors

During the Standing Rock confrontations, the Electronic Frontier Foundation got reports of police use of IMSI Catchers -- secretive surveillance devices used to gather data from nearby cellphones, often called Stingrays or Dirtboxes -- so it dispatched lawyers and technologists to monitor the situation, and filed 20 public records requests with law enforcement agencies. Read the rest

North Dakota pipeline ruptures and spills 176K gallons of crude into a creek 150 mi from the DAPL protests

It's been a week since the Army Corps of Engineers announced that they would not grant a permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross the river that the indigenous Sioux people relied upon for their drinking, farming and washing. Read the rest

More than 4,000,000 attempts to read US law have failed since a court ordered Public Resource to take it down

Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "In keeping with best practices for major Internet providers to issue periodic transparency reports, Public Resource would like to issue two reports. Read the rest

America: a welcome home for corrupt foreign politicians and businesspeople

Some of the most notorious criminals of South and Central America and China have resettled to the USA with money they looted from their countries' treasuries or defrauded their fellow citizens of. Read the rest

Insiders: America's largest chain of psych hospitals kidnaps people seeking care, drugs and holds them until they're out of insurance

Universal Health Services (UHS) is the largest chain of psychiatric facilities in the USA, with 2.5x more beds than its closest competitor, and dozens of whistleblowers from inside the company told a Buzzfeed reporter that they were pressured to find pretenses to lock up people who voluntarily presented for assessments, holding them against their will until their insurance ran out, with massive bonuses for executives who increased profits (and much smaller bonuses for execs who improved health outcomes for patients). Read the rest

Global trumpism: how India's brutal leader manufactures reality with trumped-up "polls"

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an authoritarian war criminal who is part of the worldwide surge of trumpist leaders and hopefuls, including Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte; Hungary's Viktor Orbán; Russia's Vladimir Putin; South Korea's Park Geun-hye; France's Marine Le Pen; the UK's Nigel Farage, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and others -- bound together by xenophobia, a lack of transparency, violent suppression of opposition, and savvy use of the internet. Read the rest

Pirate Party invited to form Iceland's next government

Though the October polls that predicted a great showing for the Pirate Party in the Icelandic elections turned out to be wrong, that election did end with a deeply divided parliament that has been unable to find enough common ground upon which to form a new government. Read the rest

The Snoopers Charter gives these 48 organisations unlimited, secret access to all UK browsing history

With the passage of the Snoopers Charter earlier this month, the UK has become the most-surveilled "democratic" state in the world, where service providers are required to retain at least a year's worth of their customers' browsing history and make it searchable, without a warrant, to a variety of agencies -- and no records are kept of these searches, making it virtually impossible to detect petty vendetta-settling, stalking, or systemic abuses (including selling access to criminals, foreign governments, and institutionalised racism). Read the rest

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