Ray Nagin was the business executive who swept into City Hall on promises of reforming how government does business, only to see those ideas disintegrate. He was the face of the city after Hurricane Katrina, shouting anguished distress calls to the world, seeming urgent but also at times unhinged. He was the nontraditional politician who corralled support across racial groups and then turned divisive with an awkward attempt at welcoming back storm-displaced African Americans to a “chocolate city.”
Nagin was the first New Orleans mayor indicted and tried on federal charges for corruption. On Wednesday, he was the first to be convicted.
Jurors overwhelmingly agreed with the prosecution’s narrative in finding him guilty on 20 of 21 charges: Nagin sold his office for personal gain. (more…)
Everything you do on your iPhone may be open to NSA snooping thanks to a covert software the agency can install without users’ knowledge. Apparently the app, called Dropout Jeep, can remotely send all of your text messages, contacts and voicemails to the NSA, and can activate your iPhone’s camera or mic for real time surveillance, too.
In a presentation at the 30th Chaos Communication Congress in Germany, security researcher Jacob Applebaum detailed the NSA’s iPhone spying capabilities. Along with being able to use Dropout Jeep to collect your conversations and contacts, the agency can use cell towers to find your location, and can remotely push new files to user’s iPhones.
The NSA documents Mr. Applebaum referenced say it has a perfect track record for installing Dropout Jeep on targeted iPhones, meaning they have been able to successfully install the software on every iPhone they want. Based on the agency’s success rate and the amount of data they’re able to collect, Mr. Applebaum questions Apple’s involvement.
He said in a presentation at the conference,
I don’t really believe that Apple didn’t help them. I can’t really prove it, but they [the NSA] literally claim that anytime they target an iOS device, that it will succeed for implantation. Either they have a huge collection of exploits that work against Apple products, meaning that they are hoarding information about critical systems that American companies produce and sabotaging them, or Apple sabotaged it themselves. Not sure which one it is. I’d like to believe that since Apple didn’t join the PRISM program until after Steve Jobs died, that maybe it’s just that they write shitty software.
People are showing their depth of support for Bradley Manning by signing up to serve part of his prison time. Comments from people signing indicate great appreciation for Manning exposing the truth about U.S. foreign policy, especially the conduct of the wars, the drone program, Guantanmo and the operation of the State Department.
Here are some comments from those who have signed up: (more…)
In October 2012, nine U.S. state legislators went on an industry paid trip to explore the Alberta tar sands. Publicly described as an “ALEC Academy,” documents obtained by CMD show the legislators were accompanied on a chartered flight by a gaggle of oil-industry lobbyists, were served lunch by Shell Oil, dinner by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, and that the expenses of the trip were paid for by TransCanada and other corporations and groups with a direct financial interest in the Alberta tar sands and the proposed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline.
Among the nine legislators on the tour was the new ALEC national chairman, Representative John Piscopo from Connecticut, and Senator Jim Smith from Nebraska who has sponsored legislation in his state to speed up the building of the Nebraska segment of KXL. Email records obtained by CMD show that after the trip, legislators were asked by ALEC to send “thank you notes” to the lobbyists for their generosity in Alberta.
Far better than a mere “thank you,” Rep. John Adams from Ohio returned from the trip (more…)
The U.S. Postal Service announced on Wednesday that it will discontinue first class Saturday mail delivery, marking another milestone in the decline of the once-ubiquitous government service. But it isn’t a switch to online mail that’s causing the postal demise — it’s Congress.
Under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, Congress has for years forced the USPS to pre-fund 75 years’ worth of pensions for its employees, a requirement not made of any other public or private institution. That means that the Postal Service is footing the bill for employees it hasn’t even hired yet. The USPS doesn’t actually receive money from the government, but still needs Congressional approval to make any changes to its structure. An analysis in July showed that the USPS, without its pension requirement, would have a $1.5 billion surplus. (more…)
President Barack Obama has yet to officially name a Commerce Secretary nominee for his second term, but rumor has it that he’s already made up his mind: According to The Washington Post, “there’s chatter” that Hyatt hotels scion and board member Penny Pritzker is the president’s choice.
If the buzz turns out to be true, then Pritzker’s ascension to the national stage could further strain Obama’s tense relationship with the labor movement. That’s because the Hyatt Hotel chain—co-founded by Pritzker’s father, Donald N. Pritzker—is currently engaged in a lengthy and acrimonious dispute with the hospitality workers union UNITE HERE (more…)
Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer has been claiming for months that state party members engineered a new law to suppress voter turnout, falsely touting voter fraud concerns to advance their mission. Now, other former Republicans and consultants are backing Greer up, The Palm Beach Post reports. Greer, who is under indictment and accused of funneling campaign funds from the Republican Party, has been claiming that state Republicans supported a law (HB 1355)—which, in part, curtailed early voting—simply as a means to stymie the Democratic vote. Staff and consultants “never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer told the newspaper. “It’s all a marketing ploy.” (more…)
An unexpected glitch almost caused one central Pennsylvania voter to cast his ballot for the wrong candidate, highlighting concerns about voter fraud in a number of states on an already tense Election Day. The Election Protection coalition, for instance, has reported ballot scanning problems in Ohio in Cleveland, Dayton, and Toledo. “I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted,” writes Centralpavote on YouTube, of the glitch in central Pennsylvania. “I assumed it was being picky so I de-selected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney.”
The man, a software developer, tried troubleshooting the screen, selecting different names. But “the top of Romney’s button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama’s name was all active for Romney.” A few more taps, and he discovered that the only way to select Obama was to click on a small sliver of the screen. All of the buttons for the other candidates seemed to work fine. (more…)