Friday, May 23, 2008

Cool It, Everybody


NEW YORK (CBS) ― Police are mobilizing a massive presence in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn in the wake of increased tension between African American and Jewish communities.

Leaders from both communities have come together recently to preach cooperation among residents of the neighborhood where African Americans and Hassidic Jews live side by side. But recent violence has showed that religion and race don't always mix.

"I definitely feel [like there's unrest] because I see it everyday. I'm around here a lot and that's what I'm hearing," said Crown Heights resident Anthony Rios.

Another resident, Joe Morgenstein, agreed, saying he hears "a lot of racial slurs all day" in the community.

Since 1991, when riots broke out after a 7-year-old black boy was killed by a Hassidic driver, Crown Heights has been hurt off-and-on by periodic tension. In the past month, 20-year-old Andrew Charles, who is black, was beaten up, and the suspect is Jewish.

Then last week, 16-year-old Alon Sherman, who is Jewish, had his jaw broken while being allegedly robbed by two black teens. The attackers were arrested Thursday. Namor Clarke, 17, and Basean Parker, 14, will be charged as adults for last Friday's assault on Sherman, officials said...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Big Brother Alert

From the Guardian.

Last month a US court ruled that border agents can search your laptop, or any other electronic device, when you're entering the country. They can take your computer and download its entire contents, or keep it for several days. Customs and Border Patrol has not published any rules regarding this practice, and I and others have written a letter to Congress urging it to investigate and regulate this practice.

But the US is not alone. British customs agents search laptops for pornography. And there are reports on the internet of this sort of thing happening at other borders, too. You might not like it, but it's a fact. So how do you protect yourself?

Encrypting your entire hard drive, something you should certainly do for security in case your computer is lost or stolen, won't work here. The border agent is likely to start this whole process with a "please type in your password". Of course you can refuse, but the agent can search you further, detain you longer, refuse you entry into the country and otherwise ruin your day.

You're going to have to hide your data. Set a portion of your hard drive to be encrypted with a different key - even if you also encrypt your entire hard drive - and keep your sensitive data there. Lots of programs allow you to do this. I use PGP Disk (from TrueCrypt ( is also good, and free...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Quote of the Day

From TPM.

...There's been a lot of talk in this campaign about Barack Obama's problem with working class white voters or rural voters. But these claims are both inaccurate because they are incomplete. You can look at states like Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other states and see the different numbers and they are all explained by one basic fact. Obama's problem isn't with white working class voters or rural voters. It's Appalachia. That explains why Obama had a difficult time in Ohio and Pennsylvania and why he's getting crushed in West Virginia and Kentucky.

If it were just a matter of rural voters or the white working class, the pattern would show up in other regions. But by and large it does not.

In so many words, Pennsylvania and Ohio have big chunks of Appalachia within their borders. But those regions are heavily offset by non-Appalachian sections that are cultural and demographically distinct. West Virginia is 100% Appalachian. If you look at southeastern Ohio or the middle chunk of Pennsylvania, Obama did about the same as he's doing tonight in West Virginia...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Moishe: Get Out Your Piggy Bank!

How many pennies can you come up with? From Bloomberg.

May 11 (Bloomberg) -- A package of Los Angeles real estate on sale for 35 cents on the dollar is attracting investors to the depressed shares of Meruelo Maddux Properties Inc., the biggest private landowner in the city's four-square-mile downtown.

The stock has plummeted 85 percent since an initial public offering 15 months ago as the global credit crisis threatens to disrupt refinancing of $200 million in mortgage debt coming due in the next 12 months, as well as completion of the city's tallest downtown residential tower.

Meruelo Maddux owns or controls 80 acres including the Little Tokyo Shopping Center, home of the country's largest Japanese supermarket, as well as warehouses and buildings used in Tom Cruise's action film ``Mission Impossible III.''

``It sure looks like a cheap way to play the downtown L.A. market,'' said Mike McGarr, a portfolio manager at $2.4 billion Becker Capital Management in Portland, Oregon, which has added shares this year and owns 1.55 million. ``You're not hanging your hat on a few properties. You've got about 50 properties in various states of development or redevelopment.''

Meruelo Maddux's market capitalization of $142 million is about a third of the book value of its properties minus debts. Loan payments and maintenance consume $500,000 a month more than the company takes in, eroding the developer's $13.5 million in cash...

Quote of the Day

Barack Obama from a weekend interview.

..So I welcome the Muslim world’s accurate perception that I am interested in opening up dialogue and interested in moving away from the unilateral policies of George Bush, but nobody should mistake that for a softer stance when it comes to terrorism or when it comes to protecting Israel’s security or making sure that the alliance is strong and firm. You will not see, under my presidency, any slackening in commitment to Israel’s security...

This is Not Standard Operating Procedure

From Opinio Juris.

In a stunning turnaround, the former chief military prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay said Thursday he would be a defense witness for the driver of Osama bin Laden.

Air Force Col. Morris Davis, who resigned in October over alleged political interference in the U.S. military tribunals, told The Associated Press he will appear at a hearing for Salim Ahmed Hamdan.

"I expect to be called as a witness ... I'm more than happy to testify," Davis said in a telephone interview from Washington. He called it "an opportunity to tell the truth."

At the April pretrial hearing inside the U.S. military base in southeast Cuba, Hamdan's defense team plans to argue that alleged political interference cited by Davis violates the Military Commissions Act, Hamdan's military lawyer, Navy Lt. Brian Mizer, told the AP.

Davis alleges, among other things, that Pentagon general counsel William Haynes said in August 2005 that any acquittals of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo would make the United States look bad, calling into question the fairness of the proceedings.

"He said 'We can't have acquittals, we've got to have convictions,'" Davis recalled.

The former chief prosecutor says the statement by Haynes, first reported this week in The Nation magazine, occurred after the general counsel compared the Guantanamo tribunals to Nuremberg and Davis says he pointed out some of those tried at the end of World War II were acquitted, giving them more credibility in the eyes of the world.

At the time, Davis says, he shrugged off the comments. But he came to view them as alarming after he was placed in a chain of command under Haynes and the prosecutor began to sense political pressure on his work.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, denied that Haynes made such a comment. Gordon also denied the former prosecutor's allegations of political interference, which he has repeated in newspaper opinion columns and in interviews in recent months.

If the judge rejects the motion to dismiss, Mizer said the defense will seek to remove two top officials in the military commissions system — legal adviser Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann and Convening Authority Susan Crawford — from Hamdan's case. This would likely result in further delays to a trial that has been stalled by legal challenges.

It is not clear whether the Pentagon — which defends the commission system as fair — will allow Davis to testify. In December, two months after he resigned as the chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals, the Defense Department barred Davis from appearing before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee.

Friday, May 9, 2008

This is Not Moishe

Everybody Say It All Together Now: Follow The Money

From the IHT.

The once-formidable fund-raising machine of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton has begun to sputter at the worst possible moment for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, Clinton advisers and donors said Thursday, with spending curtailed on political events and advertising as Clinton seeks to compete in the last six nominating contests.

Clinton's diminished political momentum, following Tuesday's loss in the North Carolina primary and her narrow victory in Indiana, appears to have had a dampening effect on her fund-raising, aides said, increasing the likelihood that Clinton will lend her campaign more of her own money beyond the $11 million she has already provided.

Clinton advisers said Clinton was committed to spending more of her own cash on the campaign if necessary, although they spoke optimistically about a rise in fund-raising if she prevails in Tuesday's primary in West Virginia.

The campaign is clearly running low on cash, although advisers would not say how much money — or how little — Clinton currently has. The campaign had started April with over $10 million in unpaid debts, and Clinton was vastly outspent by Senator Barack Obama in North Carolina and Indiana.

Some advisers to Clinton said that the debt had grown significantly, especially because of the high cost of competing and advertising in the Pennsylvania primary last month, but they could not give a precise figure...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

This Is Just So Surprising!

From the Washington Post.

The Bush administration has not found disaster recovery files for White House e-mails from a three-month time period in 2003, according to court documents filed this week, raising the possibility that messages sent before and after the invasion of Iraq may never be recovered.

The White House chief information officer, Theresa Payton, said in a sworn declaration that the White House has identified more than 400 computer backup tapes from March through September of 2003 but that the earliest recorded file was dated May 23 of that year.

That period was one of the most crucial of the Bush presidency. The United States launched the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003, and President Bush declared the end of major combat operations on May 1...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


From the Washington Post.

LAS VEGAS, May 5 -- In this state known for quickie divorces, the slow, increasingly acrimonious dissolution of the governor's marriage is becoming a public spectacle nearly as absorbing a show on the Strip but far more politically significant.

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, a first-term Republican already under pressure because of his handling of the state's budget crisis, filed Friday for divorce from Dawn Gibbons, his wife of 22 years.

On Monday, the governor won a court ruling to have the proceedings sealed under a state law that allows either party in a divorce to do so.

Were that all, it might be a blip. But the governor is also seeking a legal ruling -- which would certainly become public -- to force his wife to move out of the governor's mansion, where she, and not he, has been living since they officially separated last month...

Friday, May 2, 2008

Whoa. What?

Can't put anything past the Bush Gov't, can you? From Raw Story.

MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA – In two states where US attorneys are already under fire for serious allegations of political prosecutions, seven people associated with three federal cases have experienced 10 suspicious incidents including break-ins and arson.

These crimes raise serious questions about possible use of deliberate intimidation tactics not only because of who the victims are and the already wide criticism of the prosecutions to begin with, but also because of the suspicious nature of each incident individually as well as the pattern collectively. Typically burglars do not break-into an office or private residence only to rummage through documents, for example, as is the case with most of the burglaries in these two federal cases.

In Alabama, for instance, the home of former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman was burglarized twice during the period of his first indictment. Nothing of value was taken, however, and according to the Siegelman family, the only items of interest to the burglars were the files in Siegelman's home office.

Siegelman's attorney experienced the same type of break-in at her office.

In neighboring Mississippi, a case brought against a trial lawyer and three judges raises even more disturbing questions. Of the four individuals in the same case, three of the US Attorney’s targets were the victims of crimes during their indictment or trial. This case, like that of Governor Siegelman, has been widely criticized as a politically motivated prosecution by a Bush US Attorney.

The main target of the indictment, attorney Paul Minor, had his office broken into, while Mississippi Supreme Court Justice, Oliver E. Diaz Jr., had his home burglarized. According to police reports and statements from Diaz and from individuals close to Minor, nothing of value was taken and the burglars only rummaged through documents and in Minor’s case, also took a single computer from an office full of expensive office equipment...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sound Like More Fun than Dealing With My Aching Siatica

From the NY Times.

NEW ORLEANS — Men whooped and hollered, rasped and preached. Women sassed, strutted, hurled accusations and wailed away tears. Guitars twanged and cackled, horns laughed, and drums pounded backbeats and chattered with funk. Tuesday was the first of two nights of the seventh annual Ponderosa Stomp, a party on its way to becoming an institution. The Ponderosa Stomp is an oldies marathon as dreamed up by record collectors: the kind of music fans who prize soul veterans’ rare B-sides and limited-edition garage-rock singles, the wilder the better.
The Stomp is officially dedicated to “unsung heroes” of rock and R&B: people like Wardell Quezergue, the arranger behind New Orleans R&B classics from the brass-band mainstay “It Ain’t My Fault” to Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff,” and the Green Fuz, a three-man Texas garage band that released one single, “Green Fuz,” a song that was revived by the Cramps. “Green Fuz” was recorded in 1969 in a diner under renovation, and reverberation from bare walls gave it a memorably murky sound. Band members didn’t like the recording and shot BB guns at part of their lone pressing of 500 copies. The Green Fuz was scheduled to be reunited, after 40 years, at Wednesday’s half of the Stomp.

Chris Rock is Funny

From his latest tour.

On John McCain's age: "Who's gonna be his runnin' mate? A nurse? He used to own Sidney Poitier! ... How are you gonna make decisions about the future when you aren't gonna be here?"

On Barack Obama: "That's the blackest name I heard in my life. That's right next to Dikembe Mutumbo. ... You expect to see a brother from the Commodores. Not Lionel Ritchie, one of those greasy n---- behind him."

On the Rev. Wright controversy: "A 75-year-old black man who hates white people. Is there another type of 75-year-old black man? Do you realize his whole third grade class was lynched?"