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Claiming, “It’s the caucus’ decision but Senator Reid thinks Senator Schumer has earned it,” Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) spokesman, Adam Jentleson, confirmed that his boss has endorsed Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street) as his successor, in the past hour.

As the NY Times just reported it: "Mr. Reid conspicuously passed over Senator Richard J. Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat from Illinois, who is also in line to replace Mr. Reid."


Harry Reid Endorses Schumer as Next Minority Leader

Ashley Parker
New York Times
March 27th, 2015   12:22PM EST

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, shocked his colleagues Friday morning by announcing that he would retire at the end of his term.

And then, hours later, he sent another ripple through the Democratic political world when he endorsed Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat, to replace him.

“I think Schumer should be able to succeed me,” Mr. Reid told the Washington Post, in an interview at his condo in Washington’s West End...

I'm sure the Republicans won't say anything about this in their upcoming, 2016 campaign propaganda push, so at least this should put an end to the presidential election discussion about whether or not the Democratic Party is (also) controlled by Wall Street.

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[Diarist's Note: Gaius Publius, via Naked Capitalism Publisher Yves Smith, has provided the diarist with authorization to reproduce their post, in its entirety, for the benefit of the Daily Kos community. As noted below, this piece first appeared over at Digby's joint. Also, a huge h/t to Kossack Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees, whose DKos diary from this past Monday (SEE: "Obama Campaign Alumni Form New Astroturf Group to Promote TPP") gets a nice nod from Gaius Publius, below.]

Paraphrasing the last line of one of W.C. Fields' greatest jokes: "...We know what you are. We're just trying to determine your price."


Gaius Publius: Astroturf “Progressive” Support
for the TPP – Meet “270 Solutions”

Posted by Yves Smith
Naked Capitalism
March 13, 2015

Yves here. It’s become routine to expose some of the supposedly organic proposals that come out of the Tea Party as actually sponsored by the Koch Brothers and other big corporate interests. We didn’t want to leave Democrats out in the cold in the astroturfing game. Gaius Publius discusses one ecosystem: a consulting firm, “270 Strategies” and one of its phony creations, the Progressive Coalition for American Jobs.

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, Americablog, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook.A version of this piece first appeared at digby’s Hullabaloo. GP article archive here.

Recently did a piece looking at the Democratic consulting shop “270 Strategies” — a group that’s been characterized as involved in “astroturfing” by the Daily Kos diarist Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees. Her (or his) headline was:


“Obama Campaign Alumni Form New Astroturf Group
to Promote TPP”

That’s accurate, but a little confusing. There are actually two groups involved. Obama campaign alumnae (or alumni) — Lynda Tran, Mitch Stewart and Jeremy Bird — are founding partners of the PR and digital consulting shop “270 Strategies.” And the “astroturf” group is their client (or brainchild), the “Progressive Coalition for American Jobs.”

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[Diarist’s Notes: First of all, a big hat-tip to the folks over at Daily Kos’ own Evening Blues (especially Kossacks Joe Shikspack and Johnny the Conqueroo, for their tireless work) for bringing this latest, breaking Snowden/NSA document leak story to the community’s attention.

CommonDreams.org has published an excellent summary of the story, released this weekend, on Saturday by The Intercept in the U.S., and on Sunday by the Sunday Star-Times in New Zealand. It is the latest of four massive, National Security Agency stories that have appeared in print over the past four weeks.

Personally, while I have published more than a dozen posts here over the past three years about the Five Eyes global network, and the reality that the U.S. public is well aware that the NSA runs massive surveillance operations around the globe, many reading this latest breaking news may overlook the implications within this story as they relate to our government’s “Collect it all!” policy, right here at home. I’ll be publishing a long-overdue piece in follow-up to that last statement later this weekend.  

A continuous theme that I’ve fully documented about the Five Eyes network is that the Five Eyes partners/nations facilitate their partners' surveillance dirty work (see footnotes at bottom of this post) by “legally” circumventing domestic surveillance restrictions in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (i.e.: the Five Eyes partners). Interestingly, one of the maps in the Sunday Star-Times visually indicates that the NSA's surveillance of Hawaii is facilitated by a New Zealand-based station. (Ooops!) Another fact unmentioned in these latest stories is that the NSA has approximately 2,000 of its employees onsite at General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ, the U.K.'s version of the NSA) locations throughout Great Britain. More about all of this later. In the meantime, lucky for us, Common Dreams' version of this breaking story was published complete with a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.]


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The summary from CommonDreams.org...


NSA Global Spy Stations Revealed: 'Sniff It All, Collect It All, Know It All, Process It All, Exploit It All'

Jon Queally, staff writer
Common Dreams
Saturday, March 07, 2015

Latest documents leaked to journalists by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden offer new insight into mysterious 'domes of Waihopai' and the global spy network of which they represent only a part


The Five Eye spy bases around the world.

The Five Eye spy bases around the world.

A new batch of Snowden documents offer an unprecedented look into the close relationship of the surveillance agencies of the so-called "Five Eyes" nations and how a close look at a secretive base in New Zealand reveals new details about a global network of listening stations are operating to fulfill the NSA mantra on communications data which says, "Sniff it all, collect it all, know it all, process it all and exploit it all."

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A couple of stunning reports have been published over the past few days that, contrary to popular propaganda belief, tell us that cops have killed more Americans than wars (if one doesn’t take into account the hundreds of thousands of people, other than U.S. soldiers killed in action, that have died), and our “new normal” economy has “killed” more Americans than cops (a 5%+ uptick in suicides since 2008, which amounts to an additional 1,800+/- deaths per year, in the U.S., alone; which also includes 18 to 22 suicides of U.S. veterans, daily).

The status quo’s oppression—and, yes, outright, state-sponsored murder and negligent manslaughter--in its many ugly forms, regrettably, is not the new normal. It’s the old normal. What’s “new” here is that at least a few more people are finally beginning to see it for what it is.

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[Diarist's Note: Naked Capitalism Publisher Yves Smith has provided written authorization to the diarist to reproduce her blog's posts, in their entirety, for the benefit of the Daily Kos community.]


The Administration’s Dishonest Response to Elizabeth Warren’s Attack on Secret Investor Arbitration Panels in Trade Deals

Yves Smith
Naked Capitalism
March 2, 2015

Elizabeth Warren is clearly getting on the Administration’s nerves.

The Massachusetts senator has come out forcefully against the misleadingly named trade deals, the TransPacific Partnership and its ugly sister, the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Mind you, these treaties are not about trade. Trade is already substantially liberalized and in keeping, only five of the 29 chapters of the TransPacific Partnership deal with tariffs.

What these pacts are primarily intended to do is strengthen intellectual property laws to help US software and entertainment companies, along with Big Pharma, increase their hefty profits, and to aid multinational by permitting the greatly increased use of secret, conflict-ridden arbitration panels that allow foreign investors to sue governments over laws that they contend reduced potential future profits. I am not making that up.

Warren focused on the so-called investor-state dispute settlement process in a Washington Post op-ed last week. We’ve discussed these panels in gory detail in previous posts.

That article led the White House to issue a “lady doth protest too much” rebuttal that we’ll shred shortly. But let’s first review the state of play.

The Administration had no luck in the last Congress getting so-called “fast track” authorization for the TPP due to widespread opposition. It wasn’t just that Majority Leader Harry Reid refused to table it in the Senate. John Boehner made it clear that he couldn’t get the votes in Republican-controlled House to pass it either. Over 200 representatives, including some Republicans, signed letters or otherwise voiced reservations about the trade deals, and another 30 to 40 were believed to be against it. Although the Administration has tried to claim otherwise, the opposition goes well beyond the small cohort of “progressives”.

Part of the reason for the Congressional revolt is that the Administration has made it impossible for Congress to review the drafts properly. But another is that even some conservatives are willing to come out against these agreements as pork for big multinationals. For instance, the right wing think tank Cato supported the Warren op-ed:

An important pillar of trade agreements is the concept of “national treatment,” which says that imports and foreign companies will be afforded treatment no different from that afforded domestic products and companies. The principle is a commitment to nondiscrimination. But ISDS turns national treatment on its head, giving privileges to foreign companies that are not available to domestic companies. If a U.S. natural gas company believes that the value of its assets has suffered on account of a new subsidy for solar panel producers, judicial recourse is available in the U.S. court system only. But for foreign companies, ISDS provides an additional adjudicatory option.

As a practical matter, investment is a risky proposition. Foreign investment is even more so. But that doesn’t mean special institutions should be created to protect MNCs from the consequences of their business decisions. Multinational companies are savvy and sophisticated enough to evaluate risk and determine whether the expected returns cover that risk. Among the risk factors is the strength of the rule of law in the prospective investment jurisdiction. MNCs may want assurances, but why should they be entitled to them? ISDS amounts to a subsidy to mitigate the risk of outsourcing. While outsourcing shouldn’t be denigrated, punished, or taxed – companies should be free to allocate their resources as they see fit – neither should it be subsidized.

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I’ve been working on a story for almost a week (one I originally thought would only take a couple of days to fully research and write), and it directly dovetails with what I can only refer to as–without question–the most stunning and relevant, U.S. militarized-police-state story I’ve ever read. The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman details the inevitable—for those of us that have been paying attention—gut-wrenching and instantaneously seminal story that is now breaking over at that newspaper’s website.

Welcome to the "real, new normal!" (Which, as far as U.S. people of color are concerned, isn't all that much different from "the old normal." When you read my next piece, you'll understand, this isn't an exaggeration.) It was just a matter of time. (WARNING: Like so many other, recent reports about our militarized and deadly police state—but, perhaps turning it all up a notch, this morning--this story’s going to stay with you like a really bad nightmare.) Read it and weep for our country…again…

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Throughout the extended weekend, there had been rumors circulating around the blogosphere that a huge NSA hacking story—not originating via Edward Snowden—was about to break, and it was going to be a doozey. Sure enough, it’s all but “official,” per breaking news from Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, one of the most highly-regarded cybersecurity firms in the world, via stories over the past few hours in Tuesday’s NY Times, Reuters and ARS Technica, among others, we’re now learning that America is the source of the greatest software exploitation (hacking) travesty ever reported.

As you’ll learn in the excerpted breaking stories, below, apparently, the NSA’s toolbox includes its ability to hack virtually every hard drive on the planet (even including those in “airgap” mode, unconnected to a network, via deviously-hidden code on data sticks); then, embed its code in the hard drive’s firmware, so securely and covertly that even a disk-wipe won’t erase the malware on the drive!

Let’s start off with the NY Times’ downplayed and propagandized version of the story (contrary to the NYT’s headline, a review of the Kaspersky Lab Report, available in full, below, indicates that, indeed, there were/are NSA-related hacks in the U.S. Ars Technica provides the most comprehensive and outstanding coverage of this story, which is linked and excerpted further down. Reuters, also linked and excerpted below, provides extremely convincing proof positive that this is a 14-plus-year-long story about the National Security Agency’s hacking efforts, which ARS Technica references as: “…the most advanced hacking operation ever uncovered…”)…


U.S. Embedded Spyware Overseas, Report Claims

By NICOLE PERLROTH and DAVID E. SANGER
New York Times (Page B1)
February 17th, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO — The United States has found a way to permanently embed surveillance and sabotage tools in computers and networks it has targeted in Iran, Russia, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and other countries closely watched by American intelligence agencies, according to a Russian cybersecurity firm.

In a presentation of its findings at a conference in Mexico on Monday, Kaspersky Lab, the Russian firm, said that the implants had been placed by what it called the “Equation Group,” which appears to be a veiled reference to the National Security Agency and its military counterpart, United States Cyber Command.

It linked the techniques to those used in Stuxnet, the computer worm that disabled about 1,000 centrifuges in Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. It was later revealed that Stuxnet was part of a program code-named Olympic Games and run jointly by Israel and the United States.

Kaspersky’s report said that Olympic Games had similarities to a much broader effort to infect computers well beyond those in Iran. It detected particularly high infection rates in computers in Iran, Pakistan and Russia, three countries whose nuclear programs the United States routinely monitors…

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(NOTE: Diarist has received written, blanket authorization from Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers to republish their work in its entirety for the benefit of the Daily Kos community.)

If there was such a thing as the "Social Activism Hall of Fame," Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers would be amongst its initial inductees!


Mobilized & Winning, Now It’s Time to Escalate

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers,
www.PopularResistance.org
January 30th, 2015


Sign held by protestors in the U.S. Senate (January 2015)
The ‘Movement of Movements’ against Fast Tracking the TPP has the power to win

Since the President’s State of the Union message where he announced his plan to push corporate trade agreements and seek Fast Track trade promotion authority, the movement against Fast Track, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and globalized trade has grown. Instead of the bump in support that Obama expected after the State of the Union, opposition has increased inside Congress and in the grass roots.

Indications are that we are winning, and if we continue to mobilize over the next two months, we will win.

US Trade Representative Michael Froman miffed as Kevin Zeese and Dick Ochs hold banner behind him protesting Fast Track. Source Reuters.
US Trade Representative Michael Froman miffed as Kevin Zeese and Dick Ochs hold banner behind him protesting Fast Track. (Source: Reuters)
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A few words from Democratic Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) on White House domestic surveillance “reform.” (In a number of ways here, "less is more.")

After all that White House propaganda about domestic surveillance “reform” over the past 18+ months, a simple tweet, less than 24 hours ago, from Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) (the second-ranking Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) tells readers far more than too many here reading this would ever acknowledge to be the inconvenient truth about this subject. Still.




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(NOTE: Dr. Giroux has provided written authorization to the diarist to reproduce his work in its entirety for the benefit of the Daily Kos community. Giroux is a member of Truthout's Board of Directors. Here's the LINK to his website.)

Easily one of Professor Giroux's most powerful posts!


Henry A. Giroux | Death-Dealing Politics in the Age of Extreme Violence

By Henry A. Giroux
Truthout | News Analysis
Monday, 26 January 2015 09:52

Truthout Artwork from Henry Giroux's

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

How a society treats its children is a powerful moral and political index of its commitment to the institutions, values and principles that inform the promises of a real democracy. When measured against such criteria, it is clear that the United States has not only failed, but it is on life support.

According to a report released by the Southern Education Foundation, for the first time in history, half of US public school children live in poverty, and the United States has the fourth highest child poverty rate among developed countries. Moreover, 1.3 million homeless children are enrolled in US schools, and the United States incarcerates young people at a rate and in numbers that are shameful. (1) As Jana Kasperkevic points out:

Those numbers are representative of the growing problem of child poverty in the US. Overall, one in five US children lives in poverty. It has only recently been dropping, with 14.7 million US children living in poverty in 2013, down from 16.1 million in 2012. In 2012, out of 35 economically developed countries, only Romania had a higher child poverty rate than the US. (2)
With the social contract all but dead, children no longer count for much in a society that makes virtues out of self-interest and greed, and measures success almost entirely in terms of the accumulation of capital. Under the regime of a ruthless neoliberalism, children and their working-class families have become the new casualties of a system that brazenly disdains the rule of law, compassion and a concern for others. Systemic inequality has become one of the weapons now used not only against working families and the middle class, but also in the war on youth.
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(Publishing Note: Wall Street on Parade blog co-publisher Pam Martens has provided written authorization to the diarist to reproduce their blog's posts in their entirety for the benefit of the Daily Kos community.)


Evidence Grows Showing Wall Street as a Negative Economic Force

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
Wall Street on Parade
A Citizen Guide to Wall Street
January 27, 2015

U.S. Small Business Shrinking Since Great Recession

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Longitudinal Business Database)

Earlier this month, Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup, published a stunning indictment of Wall Street as a job creating engine. Clifton reported that the U.S. now ranks 12th among developed nations in business startups with countries such as Hungary and Italy having higher startup rates. Of equal concern writes Clifton, “American business deaths now outnumber business births.”

Clifton has a theory on why America’s crisis in creating new businesses is a well-kept secret. He writes:

“My hunch is that no one talks about the birth and death rates of American business because Wall Street and the White House, no matter which party occupies the latter, are two gigantic institutions of persuasion. The White House needs to keep you in the game because their political party needs your vote. Wall Street needs the stock market to boom, even if that boom is fueled by illusion.”
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Commenting in a post by Meteor Blades here, on Tuesday, I noted the following…

There IS a countervailing political force...

...forming on the LEFT, contrary to "conventional wisdom." And, at this point, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are part of this vanguard.

While I don't agree 100% with the Modern Monetary Theorists' school of economics, I do think we must be somewhat extreme in our demands (on the left), to counteract the extreme and downright draconian forces on the right, because any faux political "consensus," as we've witnessed it in recent years, and to date, has just been pushing this country farther and farther to the (extreme) right.

In other words: "Incrementalism" ain't cuttin' it! (Inherently, by supporting that mentality, we've reached a point where the door is about to be NAILED SHUT on far too many sane political/economic/military matters, as you read this.)

But, there are a few, somewhat dim lights of hope on the horizon.

Case-in-point: Bernie Sanders', et al, naming of leading Modern Monetary Theorist economist Stephanie Kelton as lead economist to the (minority) Democratic side of the Senate Budget Committee...



UMKC’s Stephanie Kelton is named chief Democratic economist on the Senate Budget Committee

By STEVE ROSEN
The Kansas City Star
12/30/2014 4:43 PM

Stephanie Kelton, an associate professor and chairwoman of the economics department at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has been named the chief economist for the Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee.

Kelton announced on her Twitter account that she had accepted the chief economist position. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Each party has its own chief economist on the budget panel, which among other things oversees the Congressional Budget Office.

“We’re very excited to have her on our team,” Warren Gunnels, an aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, told the Washington Examiner. He noted that Kelton has “very strong academic credentials.”…

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