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TSA Admits Liquid Ban Is Security Theater

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The TSA is allowing people to bring larger bottles of hand sanitizer with them on airplanes:

Passengers will now be allowed to travel with containers of liquid hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces. However, the agency cautioned that the shift could mean slightly longer waits at checkpoint because the containers may have to be screened separately when going through security.

Won't airplanes blow up as a result? Of course not.

Would they have blown up last week were the restrictions lifted back then? Of course not.

It's always been security theater.

Interesting context:

The TSA can declare this rule change because the limit was always arbitrary, just one of the countless rituals of security theater to which air passengers are subjected every day. Flights are no more dangerous today, with the hand sanitizer, than yesterday, and if the TSA allowed you to bring 12 ounces of shampoo on a flight tomorrow, flights would be no more dangerous then. The limit was bullshit. The ease with which the TSA can toss it aside makes that clear.

All over America, the coronavirus is revealing, or at least reminding us, just how much of contemporary American life is bullshit, with power structures built on punishment and fear as opposed to our best interest. Whenever the government or a corporation benevolently withdraws some punitive threat because of the coronavirus, it's a signal that there was never any good reason for that threat to exist in the first place.

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yup
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Ain't it the truth.
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Avoiding Coronavirus May Be a Luxury Some Workers Can’t Afford

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A sick day? Remote work? Not so easy if your job is at a restaurant, a day care center or a construction site.

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Reforming Rigged Capitalism

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Source: Financial Times

 

Today’s must read column comes from Martin Wolfe of the Financial Times: How to reform today’s rigged capitalism.

Highlights:

• US and UK have succumbed to demagogy. These long-stable democracies are also the most unequal of the western high-income countries. This is no coincidence;

• Rentier capitalism, weakened competition, feeble productivity growth, high inequality and, not coincidentally, an increasingly degraded democracy is is an unstable.

• US markets have become less competitive: concentration is high, leaders are entrenched and profit rates are excessive.

• Unit cost of financial intermediation has not fallen in the US over 140 years, despite technological advances

• The narrow focus on maximizing shareholder value has exacerbated the bad side-effects;

• Money in politics has damaged the idea of one person one vote. Money buys politicians, turns nations into plutocracies, not democracies. Our democracies need refurbishing.

• Finally, In­equality is corrosive.

Strong words. To fix Rigged Capitalism, Wolfe believes we need a dynamic capitalist economy that gives everybody a justified belief that they can share in the benefits

We must recognize the existential threat that exists to fragile democracies, and Wolfe proposes returning to our roots as a free market democratic state. It is radical in its simplicity.

 

 

 


Source: Financial Times

 

 

 

The post Reforming Rigged Capitalism appeared first on The Big Picture.

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Unpaid labor

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In Birth Strike, Jenny Brown argues for an analysis of the politics of reproductive rights that is rooted not in religious or moral concerns, but in economics—specifically, the economic power of women’s unpaid labor.

The standard explanation for anti-abortion politics in the United States is that politicians are appealing to conservative “values voters.” It’s easier to argue that when abortion is at issue, but as birth control has come under increasing fire, the explanation that politicians are buckling to grassroots pressure has become less reliable. The U.S. may be a religious country, but 99 percent of sexually active U.S. women have used birth control. According to surveys, even among men and women who oppose abortion, 80 percent support access to contraception. Far from pandering to a religious base, in attacking birth control, politicians are taking a stand that is wildly unpopular.

Planned Parenthood, long under attack for providing abortions, calls this “the glaring contradiction at the heart of the anti-choice movement…. The same forces who oppose abortion also vigorously oppose expanding access to the information and services that prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion.”

But it’s only a contradiction if the goal is to reduce abortions. If the goal is to increase childbearing, both abortion and contraception would be targets, along with accurate sex education.

Brown, Birth Strike, page 4

And why would the goal be to increase childbearing? Brown continues:

A higher birth rate does serve an economic goal: An ever-expanding workforce raised with a minimum of public spending and a maximum of women’s unpaid work. Why would employer’s pay for parental leave if they can push us into maternity leave for free? Why would corporations pay taxes for a national childcare system if families can be induced to take that burden upon themselves? But women are refusing—by some measures our birth rate is the lowest it has ever been—so they can only achieve that goal if they further deprive us of reproductive control.

Brown, Birth Strike, page 11

This is one of those analyses that seems so obvious as soon as you see it, and leaves you agog that you couldn’t see it before. Brown provides gobs of data to back up her case here (including many a conservative politician and thinker saying the quiet part loud), but it didn’t take much to convince me. I’ve long been certain that restrictions on reproductive rights were not really about faith, but about controlling women—but I never took the next step and asked why women needed to be controlled. Brown does, and the answer is clear: to wrest as much economic value from them as possible.

Most politicians portray themselves as “pro-family,” but none do it more vigorously than conservative Republicans. This might seem ironic, as it is the most loudly pro-family who try to block increases to the minimum wage, cut Head Start childcare and school lunch programs, slash welfare payments for parents and health care for children, oppose any kind of family leave (even unpaid), and generally make life less livable for children and families.

But it is not just hypocrisy, and it is worth decoding. What “pro-family” really means is families instead of government. Cut government, and put the work on families. And by “families,” they mean women, and women’s unpaid labor.

Brown, Birth Strike, page 34

It’s hard for me not to see my own choices in Brown’s critique. I do not have children; I never wanted to be a mother. As a close friend oft reminds me, at 40 years old, I am among the first generation of women for whom access to contraception and abortion has been a given my whole life. This was not an ecomonic choice by any means. But I also grew up keenly aware of how hard it is to balance motherhood and work, and I entered the workforce at a time when paid maternity leave was even less generous than it is today. Brown argues that women have been participating in an uncoordinated work slowdown for years now, simply by electing to have fewer children, and that it’s past time to organize into a proper strike. I’ve thought about it, and I can seem to muster only one response to that calling: I’ll see you on the picket line.

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sarcozona
205 days ago
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I need to read this book

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Entropy

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Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
First parent to admonish their kid to not create so much information gets 10 Weinersmith Points.


Today's News:

It's a double update day. Stay tuned.

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207 days ago
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Manhattan DA Made Google Give Up Information on Everyone in Area as They Hunted for Antifa

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When Gavin McInnes—founder of the violent, far-right group The Proud Boys—spoke to a Manhattan Republican club last October, the neighborhood response was less than welcoming. Protesters took to the normally sedate Upper East Side block with chants and spray paint. The Proud Boys responded with fists and kicks. Nearly a year later, as the assault and riot charges against four Proud Boys go to trial, prosecutors revealed that they had turned to an alarming new surveillance tool in this case: a reverse search warrant.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office admitted it demanded Google hand over account information for all devices used in parts of the Upper East Side. They didn’t do this to find the Proud Boys; they did it to find Antifa members.

Reverse search warrants have been used in other parts of the country, but this is the first time one was disclosed in New York. Unlike a traditional warrant, where law enforcement officials request information on a specific phone or individual, reverse warrants allow law enforcement to target an entire neighborhood. Police and prosecutors create a “geofence”—a map area—and demand information on anyone standing in the zone. This flips the logic of search warrants on its head. Rather than telling service providers the name or phone number of a suspect, reverse search warrants start with the location and work backwards.

It’s a big change. Depending on the size and location of the geofence, a reverse search warrant can easily target hundreds or even thousands of bystanders. That scale is what makes reverse search warrants so enticing to law enforcement and so concerning to civil liberties groups. One concern is that the more broadly law enforcement uses surveillance, the higher the risk for “false discovery.” That’s a clinical way to say that the more people you spy on, the more innocent people will wrongly go to jail.

The phenomenon is well-documented in the sciences, where researchers have long known that “high false discovery rates occur when many outcomes of a single intervention are tested.” Essentially, when you look for too many patterns at the same time, you increase the danger that the data will fool you. When police officers request the data for hundreds or even thousands of devices, there’s a higher chance that they’ll wrongly think that one of those bystanders is a suspect.

This isn’t just theoretical. That’s what Jorge Molina discovered in 2018, when Arizona detectives wrongly arrested him for a brutal murder, jailing him for nearly a week before he was exonerated. Officers demanded that Google hand over information on every single laptop, phone, tablet, and smart device in a two-block area. We don’t know how many accounts that includes, but it’s no surprise that while sifting through that many devices that they quickly found a “match.” Only he was innocent.

In response to the Manhattan DA’s reverse search warrant, Google provided information that investigators used—along with images given to a private facial recognition company—to target two people who turned out to be innocent bystanders. Thankfully, unlike in Molina’s case, the two “matches” in Manhattan were never arrested—and the Antifa members have not been identified, even as several Proud Boys have stood trial.

But with the seal broken now in Manhattan, there are likely to be more geofence warrants and more false discoveries. While a judge needs to sign off on a reverse warrant, that formality provides little protection to the public. A traditional warrant application asks for information about the individual being targeted and the reasons they are suspected. With reverse warrants, judges don’t even know how many people’s data will be compromised. They simply don’t have enough information to do their job.

It’s also unclear how judges will evaluate reverse warrants around sensitive sites: political protests, houses of worship or medical facilities, among others. The practice is even more alarming when you consider the ways that ICE and other federal agencies could use a reverse warrant to pursue their deportation campaigns and target American immigrants.

None of this is to say that reverse search warrants are unique, they are just the latest example of how the surveillance capitalism that powers tech firms can become a tool for the government. Maybe some users who happily hand their data to the tech giants will second guess that choice when they realize how quickly their digital sidekicks can morph into a big brother.

Albert Fox Cahn is the executive director of The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project at the Urban Justice Center, a New York-based civil rights and privacy organization. On Twitter @cahnlawny. 

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231 days ago
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this is the scary stuff
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