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Richard Mellor / Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul
« Last post by Richard Mellor on Today at 06:35:10 PM »
Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul

I can't say much about this day as it comes to all of us. She meant so much to millions upon millions of people. To the black folks and black women, a historic figure and equally for all women. For me personally there's always that selfish aspect to it, another person whose art played such a prominent role in my life gone for good reminding me of my own mortality. But, as they always say, you can't destroy a legacy, she also sang opera as well.

Aretha Franklin also offered to pay Angela Davis' bail on charges related to the shootout at the Marin County Courthouse in 1970: ?... not because I believe in Communism but because she is a black woman and she wants freedom for black people.? 

We all have our prejudices and I like to think that the era in which I grew up and the music that came out of it for me was the greatest period, I know that each era has it's great performers and Aretha Franklin is truly a giant of the 20th century, as much so as the classical composers and artists of an earlier period whose creations are still popular today.

Here she is in her beautiful performance in The Blues Brothers that surely must have captured the hearts of Black American women and women throughout the world. Humanity has just lost a great one.

Aretha Louise Franklin March 25, 1942 ? August 16, 2018

Source: Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul
AlterNet / A Historic Mistake? Donald Trump Thinks He Can Save the GOP in the Midterms
« Last post by AlterNet on Today at 06:35:05 PM »
A Historic Mistake? Donald Trump Thinks He Can Save the GOP in the Midterms

Trump forecasts a ?red wave,? while some Republicans think impeachment might be salvation. They?re both wrong

On Thursday, Salon's Matthew Rozsa reported that Steve Bannon, the man Trump fired for shooting his mouth off to "Fire and Fury" author Michael Wolff, is back on the scene plotting to save the midterm elections for the Republican Party. How is he going to do that? By motivating Trump supporters to show up to the polls to save their president from impeachment.

As Rozsa points out, Bannon neglects to mention that Trump would almost certainly survive an impeachment trial in the Senate, due to the two-thirds  requirement for conviction. But if there's one thing Bannon understands, it's the needs and desires of Trump voters, so it's safe to assume that won't stop them from rushing to the polls. A threat to their president is a threat to them.

On the other hand, according to Politico, other Republicans are quietly hoping the Democrats will win the House. If Trump is impeached, their thinking goes (but not convicted in the Senate, as above), they think it will assure his re-election in 2020. This counterintuitive notion is based on their experience with Bill Clinton whose popularity reached new heights as Republicans doggedly pursued him through the Monica Lewinsky scandal. They're assuming that the country would be so impressed by Trump's heroic survival that his approval rating would similarly skyrocket and he would win re-election easily.

This ignores the fact that Clinton was known for his ability to compartmentalize; he pretty much ignored all the hubbub of the scandals, repeatedly assuring the public that he was concentrating on the job of president. Trump's daily tantrums on TV and Twitter convey the opposite impression, to say the least. And the difference in the scope and seriousness of the two scandals -- a lie about a consensual affair, versus a conspiracy with a foreign power to sabotage the presidential campaign -- is profound. Trump and Clinton are very different animals, but many Republicans fail to see the difference and it's leading them toward self-destruction.

Trump himself is bullish on the coming election. He believes all the polls are fake and constantly predicts a "red wave" that will defy the usual midterm shift toward the opposition party and prove his massive popularity throughout the nation.

During an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week, Trump he kept ringing for his minions to "bring in charts showing his endorsement record" and bragging about his social media following. It's all about him:

?As long as I can get out and campaign, I think they?re going to win, I really do,? he said. ?It?s a lot of work for me. I have to make 50 stops, it?s a lot. So, there aren?t a lot of people that can do that, physically. Fortunately, I have no problem with that.?

He has a yuge following and tremendous stamina, which he believes will leave the voters satisfied. Well, not all the voters. Some he evidently drives away:

?I think the Democrats give up when I turn out,? he said. ?If you want to know the truth, I don?t think it energizes them. I think it de-energizes them. I think they give up when I turn out.?

There is no evidence this is true. Phillip Bump of the Washington Post took a closer look at Trump's claims about being a decisive factor and found that not only does he not "de-energize" the Democrats, he doesn't even energize Republicans. All the special elections Trump is so proud of winning took place in safe districts, mostly those being vacated by Republicans who were called up by the administration. By the numbers, the Republicans who replaced them did not perform all that well whether Trump held a rally or not.

Trump is not the first president to believe he has the magic touch that will save the party from midterm disaster. President Barack Obama famously told Democrats who were wavering on the Affordable Care Act to forget about the wipe-out they faced after the failure of Bill Clinton's health care bill in 1994: "Well, the big difference here and in ?94 is you?ve got me." That didn't work out as he promised. The Democrats took a much worse beating in 2010, now remembered as the "Tea Party wave" election.

A better comparison would be President Andrew Johnson, who carried out a flaming disaster of a campaign tour called the "swing around the circle" (for the circuit of cities to which he traveled) during the midterms of 1866, attempting to shore up support in Northern states for his lenient Reconstruction policies. Johnson was a Democrat in the era when that party was overtly racist and had only given up on slavery with great reluctance. His strategy was to heighten the tensions between moderate and radical Republicans, but it blew up in his face, alienating virtually everyone but his staunchest supporters in the South and leading to a Republican landslide.


In those days presidents didn't campaign much in person, so it was seen as a bit unseemly in any case. Johnson was known as a loose cannon so his advisers were very leery and begged him to stick to dull prepared speeches. He didn't. According to biographer Hans Trefousse, Johnson started out comparing himself to Jesus Christ because he believed in pardoning repentant sinners, in this case the treasonous secessionists of the South. He nonetheless got good press until he faced some hostile crowds at which point he lost his temper and started insulting them back. When his supporters reminded him to maintain dignity, he replied, "I don't care about dignity." (Does any of this sound familiar?)

READ MORE: Why this Watergate anniversary says so much about Donald Trump

It went downhill from there, culminating in a tragedy in which a platform built for one of Johnson's speeches collapsed and dropped hundreds of people 20 feet into a ditch. It was an apt metaphor for the trip.

Trump knows nothing about any of that, of course. His knowledge of history could fit in a shot glass. While the country at large is certainly polarized today, the political dynamics are different than they were in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. It would behoove  Republicans, however, to recall that Andrew Johnson's "swing around the circle" strategy greatly damaged his presidency and he went on to be the first president to be impeached, only surviving conviction by one vote in the Senate. He couldn't even win the Democratic nomination in 1868 and the party lost the presidency later that year, with the election of war hero Ulysses S. Grant. Trump supporters who think it's a good idea to push impeachment as a campaign issue this fall should be careful what they wish for.

Source: A Historic Mistake? Donald Trump Thinks He Can Save the GOP in the Midterms
Richard Mellor / Michael Roberts: Rethinking Rethinking economics
« Last post by Richard Mellor on Yesterday at 02:41:31 PM »
Michael Roberts: Rethinking Rethinking economics

Available here
by Michael Roberts

Can economics ever become ?pluralist??  Namely, will the  universities and research institutes in the major capitalist economies  expand their teaching and ideas to cover not just mainstream  neoclassical and Keynesian theories but also more radical heterodox  themes (post-Keynesian, Austrian and Marxian)?  If you look at the list of study courses that are considered heterodox by Heterodox News, there are not many in  the UK and the US and are concentrated in a just few colleges ? with the  big names having no such courses at all.

Rethinking Economics
, a pressure group of academics and students was launched over four years ago to turn this round. Now in July, Rethinking Economics?said  Britain?s universities were failing to equip economics students with  the skills that businesses and the government say they need. Following  extensive interviews with employers, including organisations such as the  Bank of England, it found that universities were producing ?a  cohort of economic practitioners who struggle to provide innovative  ideas to overcome economic challenges or use economic tools on  real-world problems?.  Moreover, the group said, ?when  political decisions are backed by economics reasoning, as they so often  are, economists are unable to communicate ideas to the public, resulting  in a large democratic deficit.? 

There are efforts among some academics to broaden the outlook of economics graduates. The Core project was adopted by 13 UK universities last September and has won 3.7m from the Economic and Social Research Council.  As the Guardian put it: ?the  developers of the programme also claim it has freed itself from  neoliberal thinking, which judges markets to be self-adjusting and  consumers and businesses to be operating with the same information. The  world is full of asymmetric power and information relationships, and  Core reflects this.?

The Core project has produced an antagonistic reaction from  right-wing commentators.  The prolific right-wing British political  blogger, ?Guido Fawkes?, tweeted: ?The left in the  universities are trying to rehabilitate Marxist economics to poison the  future. Very concerning that they got 3.7 million of taxpayers? money  to do it?.  One strong promoter of Core and Rethinking Economics, the leftist economist, Jonathan Portes, responded to Fawkes that he was sure that none of the contributors to the Core programme were Marxist and ?I?m obviously not a ?Marxist?.  And that is true.  

The reality is that Rethinking Economics and Core is dominated by  Keynesian ideas with hardly any look-in for Marxist ones.  It?s true  that Sam Bowles is one of the main coordinators of the Core textbook project and he considered himself a (neo?) Marxist in the past ? but his recent  comments on Marx?s theories at the 200th anniversary suggest otherwise  now (see here).

I am reminded of that first London conference of Rethinking Economics.   At that meeting, leading radical economists Victoria Chick and Sheila  Dow told us that reform of society would be impossible until we can  change the ?closed mind-set? of mainstream economics. As if the issue  was a psychological one. Mainstream economics is closed to alternatives  because there a material interest involved. But Chick and Dow seemed to  think that it?s just a question changing the mind-set of other  economists that support the market ? for their own good because  austerity and neoliberal policies are actually bad for capitalism  itself.

More recently, leading leftist economists in the UK held a seminar on  the state of mainstream economics, as taught in the universities.?  They?kicked this off by nailing a poster with 33 theses?critiquing  mainstream economics to the door of the London School of Economics.?  This publicity gesture attempted to remind us that it was the 500th  anniversary of when Martin Luther nailed his ?95 theses?to  the Castle Church, Wittenberg and provoked the beginning of the  Protestant reformation against the ?one true religion? of Catholicism.

The economists were purporting to tell us that mainstream economics  was like Catholicism and must be protested against, just as Luther did  back in 1517.? But as I commented then, is a revolution against the mainstream really to be painted as similar  to Luther?s protestant revolt?? The history of the reformation tells us  the protestant version of Christianity did not lead to a new pluralistic  order and freedom to worship.? On the contrary,?Luther was a bigot who worked with the authorities to crush more radical movements based on the peasants, led by Thomas Munzer.

Don?t get me wrong: attempts to expand economic ideas beyond the mainstream can only be good news and the content of the Core project is really stimulating and educational.  But it seems that, for  Rethinking Economics and Core, the mainstream economic ?religion? is  just neoclassical theory and that it is neoliberal economics that must  be overthrown. They have nothing to say against Keynesian economics ?  indeed variants of Keynes are actually the way forward for them.

Take the new course at University College London for undergraduates. It?s called Rethinking Capitalism ? a new elective module for UCL undergraduates.  Run by Mariana Mazzucato, the director of the Institute of Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) and author of The value of everything, it?s a great initiative, with guest lecturers including Branco Milanovic. . The module aims to ?help  students develop their critical thinking and make the connections  between economic theory and real world policy issues. It will provide an  introduction to a range of different economics perspectives, including  Neoclassical, post-Keynesian, ecological, evolutionary, Marxist and  institutional economics theories and how their different assumptions  link to different public policies.?  But looking at the BASC0037 Rethinking Capitalism. I am sceptical that students will hear much about Marxist economic theory within its ?heterodox? approach.

Keynesian theory dominates in Rethinking Economics and so do the  policy conclusions arising from Keynesian ideas in wider left circles.   Take the recent seminar organised by the IIPP in the UK?s House of Lords to discuss the financing of innovation (badly needed given the poor performance of the British capitalist sector in productivity growth).  But  who did the IIPP line up to discuss with Mazzacuto the very limited  proposal for a UK national investment bank to replace the European  Investment Bank when the UK leaves the EU next year?  It was Tory Lord  David Willetts, and as keynote speaker, Liberal leader Sir Vince Cable!   Cable was quoted approvingly to say that ?The current enthusiasm  for ?selling the family silver? (ie privatisation)) has its roots in  bizarre Treasury accounting conventions.?  This was very rich  hypocrisy coming from Cable, who when in coalition with the  Conservatives, presided over the privatisation of Royal Mail, Britain?s  state-owned postal service, selling it off for a price at least 1bn  below market value ? yes, selling the ?family silver?.  I?m not sure  that the IIPP will get far with its laudable aim of increasing the state  role in innovation and investment by relying on these people for  support.

And Keynesian ideas are central to the opinions of key advisers for the leftist Labour leaders in Britain.  In a recent article, Ann Pettifor, director of Prime Economics,  blamed the economic crisis in Turkey and other ?emerging economies? on  ?orthodox economics?, in particular the move by central banks to hike  interest rates and ?normalise? monetary policy. I?ll be debating with  Ann Pettifor on what to do about finance at this year?s Momentum conference taking place during the Labour Party conference in Liverpool in late September.  I too have pointed out the risk that this policy entails for the world economy when profitability is still low and debt is high.

Pettifor?s conclusion was that ?it was time to ditch economic orthodoxy? and?.?revive the radical and revolutionary monetary theory and policies of John Maynard Keynes? as the way to avoid another global crisis.  But regular readers of this blog will know that I have shown Keynes?s ideas were far from radical, let alone revolutionary.  And they certainly would not avoid another global crisis.  And thinking they would do so would be a step back for the labour movement and its leaders.
One key points is that capitalism is not just a monetary economy as Keynesians think; it is a money-making economy.  You can print money indefinitely, but you cannot turn it into  value under capitalism without the exploitation of human labour.  When  you sift through the body of ideas in Core, one thing stands out: the  failure to analyse modern economies with a law of value and a theory of  exploitation for profit.  Profit and exploitation do not appear in the  body of Core work (except for fleeting references to Marx).  And yet  this is at the heart of capitalism and is the soul of Marxist theory.

Are there textbooks that do offer a Marxist alternative to neoclassical and Keynesian schools?  My favourite is Competing Schools of Economic Thought by Lefteris Tsoulfidis.  Then there is Contending Economic Theories by Richard Wolff And Stephen Resnick.  There is the new two-book textbook on Microeconomics and Macroeconomics by Ben Fine and Ourania Dimakou.  And of course, there is Anwar Shaikh?s monumental Capitalism (which the dedicated can dip into if they have their brains working!).   These should be on the curriculum of Core and Rethinking Economics  courses. Maybe they will be.  But it may require a rethink.
Source: Michael Roberts: Rethinking Rethinking economics
'Wake Up And Smell the Racism': CNN's Ana Navarro Schools Trump Defender With Exhaustive History Lesson on Trump's Bigotry


?I don't know where you have been for the last 40 years.?


CNN political commentator Ana Navarro on Wednesday shot down Donald Trump defender Scott Jennings who claimed the president?s attack on Omarosa Manigault-Newman was not racist because he ?basically insults anyone who moves.?

The pair were discussing Sarah Huckabee Sanders? performance Tuesday during which she claimed Trump was not racist when tweeting that Manigault-Newman, his former aide, is a ?dog.?

?Even taking Sarah Sanders at her word which is a huge stretch and something that does not come easily to most Americans who believe in truth, even if this wasn't a racist statement, it's a disgusting statement, it's an inappropriate statement, it's an unpresidential statement,? Navarro explained.

?The problem is that Donald Trump gets away with behaving in an unpresidential, unseemly manner over and over and over again when it comes to the Republican base,? she said, adding there?s ?no bottom to this barrel.?

Jennings, citing Sanders, claimed Trump ?basically insults anyone who moves if that person that is moving is moving against him.?

?I wish the president would spend more time telling the good story he has to tell about the optimism in the country and the good economy,? he added.

That?s when Navarro explained Trump?s pattern of racism, including his attacks on black athletes and targeting of the exonerated Central Park Five.

"If you need to read a tweet from Donald Trump calling Omarosa a dog in order to believe that he is a racist, I frankly don't know where you have been for the last three years,? she said. ?I don't know where you have been for the last 40 years.?

?If you need this [tweet] in order to believe the guy is a racist, I mean, come on. Wake up and small the racism, really it isn't that hard.?

Source: 'Wake Up And Smell the Racism': CNN's Ana Navarro Schools Trump Defender With Exhaustive History Lesson on Trump's Bigotry
Putin Wants Trump to Hand Over Three DHS Agents Who Are Investigating a Company Linked to the Don Jr Meeting

He had a whole list of Americans he wanted to be turned over.

Lost in all the controversy over President Vladimir Putin asking Donald Trump to turn over former U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul to Kremlin investigators for questioning ? in return for access to Russian officials indicted by the Justice Department for meddling in the 2016 election ? was the fact that Putin had a whole list of Americans he wanted to be turned over.

According to Michael Weiss, writing for the Daily Beast, far down Putin?s shopping list are three Department of Homeland Security agents whom he has accused of running off with over $400 million in Russian money ? when in fact they were investigating associates of Putin laundering that money.

The agents ? identified as Todd Hyman, Aleksandr Schwartzman, and Svetlana Angert ? were included by Putin, who reportedly explained to Trump that some of that stolen money was funneled to the 2016 presidential campaign of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

?It might have been legal, the contribution itself, but the way the money was earned was illegal,? Putin offered at the Helsinki meeting.

As Weiss writes, ?Hyman, Schwartzman, and Angert were not laundering money, as Putin and his prosecutor would suggest; they were investigating money launderers.?

According to a deep dive into their careers, the three agents were principals in a civil asset forfeiture case brought against Prevezon Holdings, a Cyprus-registered company suspected of laundering Russian public funds ? some of which was invested in Manhattan properties which raised red flags with federal investigators.

According to Weiss, ?In 2013, $24 million of Prevezon?s U.S.-based assets were frozen in a civil asset forfeiture complaint brought by the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York. The case was settled out of court in May 2017, with the company agreeing to pay $5.9 million in damages in exchange for not having to admit to any wrongdoing.?

Where this circles back around to Trump ? and possibly why he initially called Putin?s request an?incredible offer? ? is a principal in Prevezon: Natalia Veselnitskaya, who later met with Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump campaign officials in a 2016 Trump Tower gathering that is currently being investigated by the FBI.

?So, fast-forwarding to the summer of 2018 and that press conference in Helsinki, it appears Putin was recapitulating in front of the whole world ?the rough contours of risible guilt-by-association conspiracy theory first mooted hush-hush by Veselnitskaya to Trump?s son, son-in-law, and his now-indicted campaign chairman who currently is on trial,? Weiss writes.

?That Putin for a moment thought this shambolic quid pro quo proposal would be entertained by the American establishment tells you quite a lot about the contempt in which he holds that establishment under its current leadership,? Weiss continued.?Putin clearly feels as if he doesn?t have to try very hard anymore to abase and undermine our country, perhaps because he is himself impressed at how easy that is to do.?

You can read the whole in-depth report here.



Related Stories

Source: Putin Wants Trump to Hand Over Three DHS Agents Who Are Investigating a Company Linked to the Don Jr Meeting
Court Stops North Carolina GOP From Stripping Candidate of Party Affiliation Just to Win Judicial Race


All the eleventh-hour changes Republicans in North Carolina are making to election law continue to catch up to them.

On Monday, the North Carolina Wake County Superior Court blew up the Republican Party's latest attempt to change the ballot in their favor ? and left them with a self-inflicted wound that stands to jeopardize their chances of holding onto a seat on the state Supreme Court.

Judge Rebecca Holt decided to grant the injunction sought by Raleigh attorney Chris Anglin, who is challenging GOP Justice Barbara Jackson, to stay a law just passed by the GOP-controlled state legislature that would have blocked him from appearing on the ballot as a second Republican.

"We showed that their actions were specifically targeted and there was no valid argument they could present that they weren't targeting it at us specifically," said Anglin to reporters. "It's crystal clear that they want to make the judiciary a division of the legislature, and that they'll do anything to help their candidate win."

Republicans only found themselves in the situation of trying to strip Anglin of his GOP affiliation in the first place because of a dramatic shakeup in the judicial election prompted by their own prior changes to state law.

After Democrats won a liberal majority on the state Supreme Court in 2016, which promptly began striking down the heavily-gerrymandered Republican legislature's illegal power grabs, the GOP sprung into action, passing a series of laws designed to prevent Jackson from losing her own seat in 2018.

Among those changes: partisan affiliations on judicial ballots, so their supporters could more easily identify who was conservative, and the abolition of judicial primaries, in the hope that multiple Democrats would then run on the same ballot and split the vote.

These changes backfired when no Democrats stepped up to challenge progressive civil rights lawyer and former Clinton Justice Department official Anita Earls, but Anglin filed to challenge Jackson as a Republican. Consequently, there is now a risk that Republicans, rather than Democrats, will split their vote in November and lose the race.

The North Carolina Republican Party broadly accused Anglin of being a plant, noting he was a registered Democrat until a few weeks ago, and promptly passed a new law to strip party affiliation from any candidate on the ballot who has not had their party affiliation for more than 90 days. Anglin sued to block the law, and the latest court decision handed him a victory by putting it on hold.

Republicans have only themselves to blame for the situation they find themselves in. They tried repeatedly to rig the rules of judicial races, and as a consequence find themselves in more electoral peril than ever.

Source: Court Stops North Carolina GOP From Stripping Candidate of Party Affiliation Just to Win Judicial Race
Richard Mellor / We are all Animals. All Life is Connected.
« Last post by Richard Mellor on August 14, 2018, 06:01:27 PM »
We are all Animals. All Life is Connected.

I am almost at a loss for words as the video is so powerful it speaks for itself.  I could not stop crying for a minute or two, not just sadness at the death of a fellow primate but the obvious relationship we have with them. They are our cousins.

As I watch it and it sinks in, it is not just the understanding that animals have emotions like these, that they are intelligent, but that if we do not transform society and by that I mean eliminate the horrific and inhumane form of social organization we know as capitalism and replace it with a rational, collective democratic socialist system of production and the social structure that facilitates it, such beauty will be gone forever.  And not just relations like these, but all life as we know it will eventually be destroyed if the present system and its apologists are not sent in to the history books.

What joy is on this chimps face. What love it must have in its heart for this human being. This is what life can be like and it is just the tip of the iceberg, understanding these relations. Imagine the massive amount of time, capital, resources spent in destroying life and nature all in the rapacious quest for profits and what humanity could do with it.

We can change course. But we cannot travel down this road to freedom if we do not recognize the system of production that dominates the planet is the cause of our demise and that we do have an alternative but we have to fight for it. One thing is certain; we cannot make this system of social organization nice, or fair, or human friendly and respectful of the natural world in which we live.
It has to go.

A lot of people have viewed this and I only just saw it today and thanks to Patricia for sharing it on FB.   Most of us will love this because we are human and to be human is to be collective and social. It's is the system in which we live that is rotten.  We are like fish in polluted waters or plants in barren soil. Chane the water, change the soil and life flourishes.
Source: We are all Animals. All Life is Connected.
An 11-Year-Old at a Hacking Convention Demonstrates Ability to Hack and Change Florida Vote in 10 minutes

The young hacker described the process as easy.

The second annual DEFCON Voting Village took place over a weekend at the end of July in Las Vegas, during the 29th annual DEFCON security convention. Computer experts and hackers meet annually to discuss and show off the latest and greatest computer security systems and practices. The Voting Village allow hackers to work on various ?in use? and ?not in use? voting machines, and see if and how they can hack them. It has been known for some time that our computer voting across the country is woefully lacking in state-of-the-art security, mostly because of a lack of financing and upgrading of our elections system. There?s a lot of money in elections?just not in the machines that count the votes.

BuzzFeed News explains that a dummy election was held using the machines, and then hackers were given the chance to monkey with the results. The basic idea in hacking these machines is to offer up opportunities for improvements in security. If you know the vulnerabilities in your machines, you can hopefully fix those before the next election.

Here’s the roundup of the Def Con Voting Machine Hacking Village discoveries, Day 2! @defcon

— DEFCON VotingVillage (@VotingVillageDC) August 12, 2018

If you can?t read the small picture there, they gave out awards for all kinds of things (i.e. fastest, most innovative, etc.); and they gave out awards for the youngest winners in a hacking contest of replica government elections websites as well. An 11-year-old was able to hack the dummy Florida secretary of state website.

In another area of DEFCON, organizers set up a semicircle of computers preloaded with copies of secretaries of states? websites to allow young children to try to alter the appearance of a vote result. While such an attack wouldn?t change actual votes, simply changing the appearance could cause havoc on Election Day, and reflects a tactic Russia did employ in Ukraine in 2014.

Notably, the kids were instructed to use a simple database hacking tactic called SQL injection, the same tool the US has said Russian hackers used when targeting state voter registration databases in the summer of 2016.

The 11-year-old, named Audrey, told BuzzFeed News that it was easy and once inside she could do just about anything she wanted. Florida?s secretary of state gave a statement to BuzzFeed reiterating that the website was not connected to the voting machines in any way.

One of the criticisms of the event is that hackers are given full access to the machines, which can include figuring out how to open those machines physically, in order to perform a hack?something that is less likely to happen in real life, officials say. Of course, when you consider the stories that come out every few weeks showing that our voting machines may have much bigger and accessible security flaws that are easily exploitable remotely, I don?t find much reassurance in the critics? assessments.



Related Stories

Source: An 11-Year-Old at a Hacking Convention Demonstrates Ability to Hack and Change Florida Vote in 10 minutes
Inter Press Service - Labour / The Sun Powers a Women?s Bakery in Brazil?s Semi-arid Northeast
« Last post by Inter Press Service on August 14, 2018, 06:01:21 PM »
The Sun Powers a Women?s Bakery in Brazil?s Semi-arid Northeast

?The sun which used to torment us now blesses us,” said one of the 19 women who run the Community Bakery of Varzea Comprida dos Oliveiras, a settlement in the rural area of Pombal, a municipality of the state of Paraiba, in Brazil’s semi-arid Northeast. “Without solar energy our bakery would be closed, we would […]

The post The Sun Powers a Women’s Bakery in Brazil’s Semi-arid Northeast appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: The Sun Powers a Women?s Bakery in Brazil?s Semi-arid Northeast
Richard Mellor / Turkey: total meltdown
« Last post by Richard Mellor on August 14, 2018, 01:13:16 AM »
Turkey: total meltdown

by Michael Roberts

The Turkish lira is in total meltdown.  It has lost 40% of its  value against the dollar in the last six months and fell nearly 20% in  the last week.  The turkeys have come home to roost on the country?s  economy and the erratic economic policy of its autocratic (recently  re-elected) leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

What triggered the crisis was when the US imposed asset freezes on  Abdulhamit Gul, Turkey?s justice minister, and Suleyman Soylu, interior  minister, for their alleged roles in the detention of Andrew Brunson, an  American pastor. Mr Brunson, who ran a small church in Turkey for two  decades before he was arrested in October 2016, is accused of  participating in a conspiracy to topple Mr Erdogan. The pastor has  described the charges as ?slander?. His detention is just one of a  number of disagreements between Turkey and the US that range over  divergent stances on Syria to the delivery of US arms.

Then on Friday, Wilbur Ross, US commerce secretary, said the US would  double the tariff on imports of Turkish steel to 50 per cent, because  the previous level of 25 per cent had not been enough to sufficiently  reduce Turkish exports to the US. ?Doubling the tariff on imports of  steel from Turkey will further reduce these imports that the [commerce]  department found threaten to impair national security,? said Ross.

That was the trigger but it was not the revolver that now is pointed  at the head of Turkey?s economy.  That was the fast deteriorating  economic situation.  After the botched attempted military coup against  him in 2016, Erdogan launched a credit boom to boost the economy while  locking up thousands and sacking even more from their jobs in academic  and government positions.  He insisted on keeping interest rates low and  blocked any action to curb fast-rising inflation by Turkey?s central  bank, describing interest rates as ?the mother and father of all evil?.

Turkey?s capitalist economy could not handle this, just at a time  that the US dollar strengthened after the US Federal Reserve began to  raise US interest rates.  The problem for Turkey, a country without  energy resources and only its human expertise and cheap labour to sell  is that the vast majority of the funding for industrial development,  construction and real estate comes from abroad:  American and European  investors.  Turkey?s citizens and companies borrow significantly in  dollars and euros.

The apparently fast economic growth of the last two years was built on turkey legs (credit and foreign borrowing)
while imports flooded into the economy not matched by exports and the  profitability of Turkish capital fell sharply.  The rise of the dollar  and interest rates globally brought an end to the party and has exposed  Erdogan to the realities of global capitalism.

Turkey banks and corporations are now in dire trouble. Turkey?s  non-financial companies? foreign currency liabilities now outstrip their  foreign exchange assets by more than $200bn.

The country?s banks and corporations have billions of dollars of  hard-currency debt coming due.  Turkey?s banks are scheduled to repay  $51bn over the next year, while the remaining $18.5bn sits on  non-financial corporate balance sheets. These bills are coming due at a  time when corporate indebtedness sits at 62 per cent of GDP, half of  which is denominated in foreign currencies (dollars and euros, mostly).

Foreign investors are now worried that Turkey will not be able to  finance this.  Relative to its short-term external debt, Turkey?s FX  reserves have declined to new lows.

So capital has fled the country and the lira has tumbled.
Now the extra worry for global capital is that if Turkey?s banks and  corporations start defaulting on their debt servicing, then European  banks could suffer significant losses on their own balance sheets ? what  markets call ?contagion?, the spreading of losses and default  internationally.  Some of Turkey?s banks are foreign-owned and the  biggest lenders to Turkey are Spain?s BBVA, Italy?s UniCredit and  France?s BNP Paribas.

Turkey?s banks appear to have plenty of reserves and loans to Turkey  are just a small part of total loans made by these foreign banks.  But  even ?marginal? losses can sometimes be a tipping point when profits are  tight.  And bad debts in the banks have already been rising (% of debt  that is ?bad? graph below)

How can Erdogan get out of this currency crash?  The capitalist  solution is to hike interest rates to an astronomical height so that  further borrowing is stopped.  Then the government should dramatically  cut government spending and raise taxes (ie fiscal austerity) and use  the ?savings? to bolster the banks and meet foreign debt repayments.   Turkey should also turn to the IMF for a loan ? Greek style. 

Under IMF  rules, it could borrow up to $28bn to fund future debt repayments but  then be subject to the dictats of IMF austerity measures.  This  capitalist solution means an outright slump in the Turkish economy,  hitting its citizens hard and seriously damaging Erdogan?s support in  the country.

The government could introduce capital controls and block any money  leaving the country.  But this would mean that foreign lenders would  just stop lending, driving the economy into a slump anyway.  Or Erdogan  could try to get funding from Russia, China or Saudi Arabia (as Pakistan  has just done).  Unfortunately, he is on bad terms with all these  countries.  Erdogan is resisting all these options so far, telling his  supporters to ?trust in God? and him.

The bigger issue is the growing emerging market debt crisis. This is what I said in May after Turkey?s general election. ?Rising  global interest rates and the growing trade war initiated by US  President Trump are going to hit the so-called emerging capitalist  economies like Turkey.  The cost of borrowing in foreign currency will  rise sharply and foreign investment is likely to reverse?..Turkey is now  near the top of the pile for a debt crisis, along with Argentina  (already there), Ukraine and South Africa.?

So there?s more to come.
Source: Turkey: total meltdown
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