PHAWKER.COM – Curated News, Gossip, Concert Reviews, Fearless Political Commentary, Interviews….Plus, the Usual Sex, Drugs and Rock n' Roll


You Report, We Decide

News, Media, Politics, Music, Culture, Gossip, In The 215 And The Great Beyond

INJUSTICE: The Inky’s Dirty War On Larry Krassner

January 17th, 2018


IN JUSTICE TODAY: It didn’t take too much deliberation for the Philadelphia Inquirer to render its guilty verdict against District Attorney Larry Krasner after he took office on January 2: “the first days of Krasner’s administration,” the editorial board intoned nine days later, “seem more about imprudence than jurisprudence”

Zing. A rhyme. But what does it all mean? Well, Krasner swiftly ousted 31 prosecutors who packed up their desks along with others who had resigned on their own accord before he took office. Last year, Krasner, a career civil rights and defense attorney, rode a surge of grassroots organizing to a shocking win, promising to turn the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office upside down and take concrete steps to end mass incarceration.

What’s surprising to me, first of all, is all the Inky’s surprise: What should be remarkable is that Krasner fired such a small number, judging the vast majority of people in an office of roughly three hundred prosecutors to be ready to head in a very different direction under his new leadership — a direction in which he plans to leaven the conventional pursuit of punishment with a more holistic conception of public safety and well-being.

The Inquirer’s editorial board, however, shrouded its opposition to the firings (which were actually pointed requests to resign) with criticism of the way in which they were orchestrated. Echoing reporting from the paper, they complained that “victims of crimes, witnesses and people accused, along with judges and defense attorneys, were left in a lurch in city courtrooms when prosecutors expected to play their part in our criminal justice system were suddenly yanked from those roles, with no replacements ready.”

At least two different stories in the paper highlighted a murder case that was delayed because veteran prosecutor Andrew Notaristefano was pushed out, with one story citing the emotional toll the delay caused for the victim’s family. No doubt: lengthy trials are painful for victims’ families, and the paper is right to tell their stories. But context is important and hard to find in the coverage: trials are delayed all the time, often at the request of prosecutors. It’s worth considering, then, why this one delay has dominated the paper’s coverage of Krasner’s extremely short tenure, and why stories about the many Philadelphians who have had their lives ripped apart by mass incarceration and police brutality — and what they might be hoping for from the new district attorney — have been absent.

The paper’s reporting — “Last week’s shakeup and the new appointments added to the impression — and in some corners, hope — that Krasner, a career civil rights lawyer, would drastically reshape the office and its priorities” — turns reality on its head, portraying their own reactionary position as the majority one prevailing in the city. In some corners? The paper has yet to accept that their position, which is also the position of the city’s criminal justice establishment, was thoroughly repudiated at the ballot box. MORE

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

WORTH REPEATING: The Day Martin Luther King Had To Explain To His Daughter Yolanda That Little ‘Colored’ Girls Are Not Allowed To Go To Funtown

January 15th, 2018



PLAYBOY: Dr. King, are your children old enough to be aware of the issues at stake in the civil rights movement, and of your role in it?

MARTIN LUTHER KING: Yes, they are—especially my oldest child, Yolanda. Two years ago, I remember, I returned home after serving one of my terms in the Albany, Georgia, jail, and she asked me, “Daddy, why do you have to go to jail so much?” I told her that I was involved in a struggle to make conditions better for the colored people, and thus for all people. I explained that because things are as they are, someone has to take a stand, that it is necessary for someone to go to jail, because many Southern officials seek to maintain the barriers that have historically been erected to exclude the colored people. I tried to make her understand that someone had to do this to make the world better—for all children. She was only six at that time, but she was already aware of segregation because of an experience that we had had.

PLAYBOY: Would you mind telling us about it?

MARTIN LUTHER KING: Not at all. The family often used to ride with me to the Atlanta airport, and on our way, we always passed Funtown, a sort of miniature Disneyland with mechanical rides and that sort of thing. Yolanda would inevitably say, “I want to go to Funtown,” and I would always evade a direct reply. I really didn’t know how to explain to her why she couldn’t go. Then one day at home, she ran downstairs exclaiming that a TV commercial was urging people to come to Funtown. Then my wife and I had to sit down with her between us and try to explain it. I have won some applause as a speaker, but my tongue twisted and my speech stammered seeking to explain to my six-year-old daughter why the public invitation on television didn’t include her, and others like her. One of the most painful experiences I have ever faced was to see her tears when I told her that Funtown was closed to colored children, for I realized that at that moment the first dark cloud of inferiority had floated into her little mental sky, that at that moment her personality had begun to warp with that first unconscious bitterness toward white people. It was the first time that prejudice based upon skin color had been explained to her. But it was of paramount importance to me that she not grow up bitter. So I told her that although many white people were against her going to Funtown, there were many others who did want colored children to go. It helped somewhat. Pleasantly, word came to me later that Funtown had quietly desegregated, so I took Yolanda. A number of white persons there asked, “Aren’t you Dr. King, and isn’t this your daughter?” I said we were, and she heard them say how glad they were to see us there. MORE

DAILY KOS: I would like to remind everyone exactly what Martin Luther King did, and it wasn’t that he “marched” or gave a great speech. My father told me with a sort of cold fury, “Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south.” Please let this sink in and and take my word and the word of my late father on this. If you are a white person who has always lived in the U.S. and never under a brutal dictatorship, you probably don’t know what my father was talking about. […] It wasn’t that black people had to use a separate drinking fountain or couldn’t sit at lunch counters, or had to sit in the back of the bus. You really must disabuse yourself of this idea. Lunch counters and buses were crucial symbolic planes of struggle that the civil rights movement used to dramatize the issue, but the main suffering in the south did not come from our inability to drink from the same fountain, ride in the front of the bus or eat lunch at Woolworth’s.

It was that white people, mostly white men, occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them. You all know about lynching. But you may forget or not know that white people also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment. This constant low level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running. It made life miserable, stressful and terrifying for black people. White people also occasionally tried black people, especially black men, for crimes for which they could not conceivably be guilty. With the willing participation of white women, they often accused black men of “assault,” which MLK ABERNATHY MUG SHOTcould be anything from rape to not taking off one’s hat, to “reckless eyeballing.”

I remember a huge family reunion one August with my aunts and uncles and cousins gathered around my grandparents’ vast breakfast table laden with food from the farm, and the state troopers drove up to the house with a car full of rifles and shotguns, and everyone went kind of weirdly blank. They put on the masks that black people used back then to not provoke white berserkness. My strong, valiant, self-educated, articulate uncles, whom I adored, became shuffling, Step-N-Fetchits to avoid provoking the white men. Fortunately the troopers were only looking for an escaped convict. Afterward, the women, my aunts, were furious at the humiliating performance of the men, and said so, something that even a child could understand.

The question is, how did Dr. King do this—and of course, he didn’t do it alone. So what did they do? They told us: Whatever you are most afraid of doing vis-a-vis white people, go do it. Go ahead down to city hall and try to register to vote, even if they say no, even if they take your name down. Go ahead sit at that lunch counter. Sue the local school board. All things that most black people would have said back then, without exaggeration, were stark raving insane and would get you killed. If we do it all together, we’ll be okay. They made black people experience the worst of the worst, collectively, that white people could dish out, and discover that it wasn’t that bad. They taught black people how to take a beating—from the southern cops, from police dogs, from fire department hoses. They actually coached young people how to crouch, cover their heads with their arms fredshuttlesworthmuglargeand take the beating. They taught people how to go to jail, which terrified most decent people.

And you know what? The worst of the worst, wasn’t that bad. Once people had been beaten, had dogs sicced on them, had fire hoses sprayed on them, and been thrown in jail, you know what happened? These magnificent young black people began singing freedom songs in jail. That, my friends, is what ended the terrorism of the south. Confronting your worst fears, living through it, and breaking out in a deep throated freedom song. The jailers knew they had lost when they beat the crap out of these young Negroes and the jailed, beaten young people began to sing joyously, first in one town then in another. MORE

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

BEING THERE: Dog Day Afternoon

January 14th, 2018


The Linc, 8:04 PM Saturday

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]


January 12th, 2018


Ben Franklin Bridge, 1:27 PM Friday by JONATHAN VALANIA

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

CINEMA: Paper Trail

January 10th, 2018


THE POST (Directed by Steven Spielberg, 115 minutes, USA, 2017)

CHRIS MALENEYBY CHRISTOPHER MALENEY FILM CRITIC Is Nixon done to death? With two movies out in the past six months alone, I have to wonder how much more we can squeeze out of the years between 1968 to 1974. It’s gotten to the point where they’re making prequels to classics like All the President’s Men; it won’t be long until they do a remake of it. Anyway, this year’s recycling of the journalistic wet dream that was the Nixon saga is The Post, which retells for film the real events of the Washington Post’s publication of the Pentagon Papers and subsequent rise to national significance. The difficulty with discussing a historic movie is that we must separate the real events from how the film portrays them. In lauding or panning a historic movie, we do not pass judgement on the events themselves but on how the filmmaker depicts the events, and what they are trying to say about modern times.

So, just what were the Pentagon Papers? Well, for anyone who didn’t live through the events, or who didn’t pay attention in American History class, the Pentagon Papers were a study commissioned by Robert Mcnamara, the Secretary of Defense for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, that outlined the history of American involvement in Vietnam, and south-east Asia generally, from 1945 to 1967. The seven thousand page study showed how the government lied about the scope of the war, the aims of the war, and its ability to be won. They showed how the American government manipulated elections in South Vietnam, conducted illegal operations, and then lied about it all. When the Pentagon Papers were printed, the people were shocked. Imagine the naivete of the times! This was the first time in a long while, possibly ever, that the machinations of the American state were stripped bare, the first time people realized the government was lying to them, the first time people were told that the expressed morality of the United States government was at odds with the sheer brutality of imperialist capitalism.

The United States has been at war in one form or another for almost my whole life. We’ve been in Afghanistan since I was in kindergarden. We’ve been in Iraq since I was in second grade. Today, that list includes Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Niger, and a number of other top-secret locations, you can be sure. The point is, none of us are surprised anymore. Most of us aren’t even concerned. Sure there are distractions. Sure, the optics on it are better than in the sixties and seventies. But overall, we’re just numb. We don’t care how many civilians get blown up by drones, how many kids are murdered by security forces. Bush, Obama, Trump — nothing changes but the names and the numbers. And yet, as Kennedy states at the beginning of the film, we know that America never starts wars. We know we’re the good guys.

So it is commendable that what Spielberg wants to show us in The Post is that whistleblowers and leakers deserve protections to reveal the abuses of the state. They should function as a check on power; I’m sure James Risen would agree. The film glorifies the choice that the editors and publishers of the Washington Post took to print the Pentagon Papers, and it was a daring choice. Good on them. The trouble is that the biggest risk the characters run is losing a lot of money. Katherine Graham, the paper’s owner, runs the risk of seeing her whole fortune vanish if bankers withdraw from the Post’s impending Initial Public Offering. Everyone, she tells us at one point, has a lot to lose — a line that would be a lot stronger if she wasn’t speaking about a room full of millionaires. And this might be true to history, but is that the ultimate narrative concern? At a time when people are being threatened, jailed, even murdered by the government, is the most daring risk really to lose millions of dollars?

I appreciate what is going on in this movie. I think it is important to have a movie where people discover that the motivating ideology of their country is not as benevolent as the national narrative has lead them to believe. I like how the message is established with audio and visual quotes of real persons juxtaposed over the revelations of the Pentagon Papers. My problem is that this analysis of ideology and actuality does not go nearly far enough. The film never explores why the message and the facts become so mixed. Pride, it suggests, and inertia, are what kept us in Vietnam so long. A simplistic reading of history, to be sure.
And there is some difficulty, too, with how the film wants us to treat the press. We’re supposed to believe that all journalists are crusaders, fighters for the American dream, who defy unjust wars wherever they’re spotted. It’s like the Spanish-American War never happened. It’s like the Washington Post never printed the word ‘irrefutable’ in 2003. The narrative’s message is a simplistic treatment of journalism, just like its examination of Katherine Graham’s life is a simplistic examination of feminist theory. If all you want is reassurance in dark times, this might do the trick. If you need meat on the bones, well, stick to reading books or something. Start with David Halberstam‘s The Best And Brightest.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

IN MEMORIAM: David Bowie Will Never Die

January 9th, 2018



EDITOR’S NOTE: This euology originally published in the wake of David Bowie’s death on January 10th 2016. We are re-posting it today on the occasion of his birthday and the kick-off of Philly Loves Bowie Week.

BYLINER mecroppedsharp_1BY JONATHAN VALANIA The year is 1980 and 14-year-old me drops the needle on Changesonebowie in my bedroom, with the door locked because this is serious business, while staring at the album cover, trying to figure out how all these startling and seemingly disconnected musics — space-age psych folk, white plastic soul, zooming Brechtian glam, bloozy garage-punk, coked-up funk, Teutonic trance-rock, proto-electronica — came out of this one delicate man with impeccable hair and immaculate cheekbones. Thirty-six years later I still don’t have a good answer beyond this: Clearly, he is from another planet. Clearly.David Bowie Aladdin Sane

The year is 1983 and I am teetering on my seat, dizzy from the thin air  — and perhaps an illicit beer or seven in the parking lot — way up in the nosebleed section of the Spectrum for the Philly stop of Bowie’s Serious Moonlight Tour. Though we seemed miles away from the stage, there was no missing that hot mustard yellow double breasted suit and the curly shock of electric blond hair or that voice — river deep, mountain high, smooth as crushed velvet and sharp as shattered glass, it contained multitudes. You could hear the whole 20th Century in that voice.

The year is 1984, I walk into the only edgy/cool fancy-pants hair salon in Allentown, PA, with the cover of Heroes under my arm. “This is what hair is supposed to look like,” I tell them. “Make me look like this.” When they get done, they insist I look just like the guy on the cover of Heroes, but looking in the mirror I can tell they are lying. A hard lesson was learned on that day: Being David Bowie is harder than it looks. Much harder.

The year is 2004, I am a journalist working on a magazine profile of the Polyphonic Spree who have been hand-picked by David Bowie to be the opening act for what will prove to be his David Bowie Aladdin Sanefinal American tour. We are standing in the support act dressing room — me and 12 gangly, funky-smelling Texans wearing white Jesus robes and dirty Chuck Taylors —  deep in the bowels of the Wachovia Center waiting for The Man Who Fell To Earth to pop in for one of those faux-spontaneous carefully-arranged candid shots for the Random Notes section of Rolling Stone. It’s noisy, hot and locker room-rific in here. When he finally arrives literally everyone gasps and the room falls pin-drop silent: It’s David Fucking Bowie. He is elegant and gracious and shorter than he looks on TV. I shake his hand just to prove to myself that this really happened.

The year is 2016. It’s the morning after I heard on the BBC somewhere around 2 AM that David Bowie died. I’m still having a hard time processing it. I feel like a part of me is gone. I’m driving around Philadelphia, the city where David Bowie recorded three albums (Young Americans, Live, Stage), going nowhere in particular. Philly is a big Bowie town. Back in the day, he would sell out the Tower six nights in a row and tickets were a whopping $5. WXPN is playing non-stop Bowie and I have the radio cranked up to 11. “Heroes” comes on and I crank it up to 12. It’s my favorite Bowie song. I lose it somewhere around the third verse, when he sings “I, I can remember…standing by the wall” and the back-up singers repeat his words back to him like horns. That’s when it hits me like a hammer: David Bowie is fucking dead. Tears roll down my cheeks like I’m watching the end of It’s A Wonderful Life. I flick on the windshield wipers even though it’s not raining. David Bowie Aladdin Sane

But as the song fades out it occurs to me that that’s not true at all. David Bowie is not dead. Because David Bowie will never die. Oh sure, that guy born David Robert Jones is gone, and that’s a terrible loss for his friends and family. But people like you and me, we never knew that guy. We knew David Bowie, or more accurately we knew the idea of David Bowie. Because in the end David Bowie was, above all things, an idea, a brilliant idea, but an idea nonetheless and you cannot kill an idea. Not even cancer can kill an idea. And that idea is this: we are the imagination of ourselves. We control the illusion and we can change it any time we want. We can be black, white, striped, gay, straight, bi, trans, Martian, glam, goth, hot funk, cool punk, old junk, a bottle blonde, a ginger, a jazzer or even drums n’ bass. There is no right answer. But sooner or later, you become yourself. That is the idea of David Bowie. And that will never die.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

INSTANT KARMA: Gonna Knock U Off Your Feet

January 8th, 2018


BUSINESS INSIDER: White House adviser Stephen Miller was escorted off the set of CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday after a contentious interview with host Jake Tapper. Two sources close to the situation told Business Insider that after the taping was done, Miller was asked to leave several times.

He ignored those requests and ultimately security was called and he was escorted out, the sources said. Miller’s appearance on the cable network quickly went off the rails when Tapper pressed him on explosive claims about President Donald Trump that appeared in the book “Fire & Fury: Inside The Trump White House” by Michael Wolff.

Miller repeatedly attempted to pivot the conversation toward criticism of CNN, a favorite target of Trump’s. He then referred to Trump as a “political genius” and lamented his treatment during the interview, leading Tapper to reply that there was only “one viewer you care about right now.”

“I think I’ve wasted enough of my viewers’ time. Thank you, Stephen,” Tapper said, bringing the interview to an abrupt end. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller has been interviewed as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
The interview brings the special counsel investigation into President Donald Trump’s inner circle in the White House. Miller is the highest-level aide still working at the White House known to have talked to investigators.

Miller’s role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey was among the topics discussed during the interview as part of the probe into possible obstruction of justice, according to one of the sources. Special counsel investigators have also shown interest in talking to attendees of a March 2016 meeting where foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos said that he could arrange a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin through his connections. Miller was also at the meeting, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

Papadopoulos was recently charged with lying to the FBI about Russian contacts he had during the campaign.
Earlier this year, Miller assisted Trump in writing a memo that explained why Trump planned to fire Comey, according to sources familiar with the matter. Eventually that memo was scrapped because of opposition by White House counsel Don McGahn, who said its contents were problematic, according to The New York Times. The Comey dismissal letter — drafted during a May weekend at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey — has also drawn interest from the Mueller team. MORE

NEWSWEEK: Senior White House advisor Stephen Miller was among the top-flight Trump 2016 officials in regular contact with campaign staffer George Papadopoulos, now at the center of a federal probe into Russian influence on the presidential election.

While the White House has looked to distance itself and President Donald Trump from Papadopoulos, who has pleaded guilty to lying to federal officials about his Russian contacts, the New York Times reported Friday the 28-year-old had been in regular contact with Stephen Miller and helped edit a major Trump foreign policy speech. Miller had not previously been identified in court documents.

According to emails seen by the Times, Papdopolous, named as a foreign policy advisor to the campaign, told Miller, now one of the most enduring and recognizable members of the administration, that Trump had an “open invitation” to visit Russia, at the guarantee of Russian President Vladimir Putin. MORE

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

NPR 4 THE DEAF: It’s Mueller Time!

January 4th, 2018



TIME: The special counsel is, like Trump, the scion of a wealthy family, raised at a boarding school and educated in the Ivy League. But the life choices of Robert Swan Mueller III, 72, suggest a decidedly different temperament from the one that occupies the Oval Office. Unlike Trump, who says he has few if any personal heroes, Mueller’s path was marked by a profound admiration for a role model he met at Princeton, a student a year ahead of him named David Spencer Hackett.

“I played lacrosse with David,” Mueller explained last year in a speech at West Point. “He was not necessarily the best on the team, but he was a determined and a natural leader.” Hackett’s decision to join the Marine Corps, and his death in 1967 while rallying his platoon during an ambush in Vietnam, moved Mueller to follow in Hackett’s footsteps. “Many of us saw in him the person we wanted to be,” Mueller said.

Trump once joked with radio shock jock Howard Stern that chasing women while risking STDs was his version of Vietnam, adding, “It is very dangerous.” He might have chosen a different analogy if he had served as Mueller did. Commissioned in the Marine Corps and trained at Army Ranger School, Lieut. Mueller led a rifle platoon in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. Wounded in combat, he received a Bronze Star with a V for valor as well as a Purple Heart and two Navy Commendation Medals.

Mueller told his West Point audience that his military experience instilled in him a desire to continue to serve his country. After earning a law degree from the University of Virginia and learning the ropes as an associate at a large law firm, he joined the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Francisco, where he rose to chief of the criminal division.

In 1989, Mueller moved to Washington, where he soon took charge of the entire Justice Department’s criminal division. Under his watch, department lawyers prosecuted major cases involving terrorism, organized crime, drugs and money laundering. Although his voter registration said Republican, Mueller earned the confidence of leaders in both parties. In 1998, Democrat Bill Clinton appointed him U.S. Attorney for Northern California. Republican George W. Bush called him back to Washington as Deputy Attorney General, then picked him to lead the FBI in 2001.

Mueller’s first official day at the Hoover Building was Sept. 4. A week later, terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington plunged the bureau into one of the most tumultuous periods in its history. Mueller’s challenge was to transform a primarily domestic law-enforcement agency into a global counterterrorism force–while breaking down cultural barriers to information sharing and pulling the paper-pushing bureau into the digital age. Many agents found Mueller to be bullheaded as he shook up personnel rules and rammed through technology updates. And he made mistakes, including a botched investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks in D.C., Florida, New York and New Jersey, in which an innocent man was hounded in the press while Mueller and his agents ignored the real killer. But overall, in the judgment of FBI historian Ronald Kessler, no director in the modern era “has had a greater positive impact on the bureau than Mueller.”

As director, Mueller worked closely with Comey, who was appointed Deputy Attorney General in 2003. Together, they threatened to resign in 2004 over a White House plan to preserve a program of warrantless wiretaps. Their frantic dash to the bedside of ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft to ward off a delegation of White House arm twisters on a mission to save the program was a heroic high point for friends of Mueller and Comey–and an example of their sanctimony to their detractors. Either way, they won: Bush agreed to make changes to the program. When Mueller’s extended term at the FBI ended in 2013, few were surprised that Obama installed Comey in his place. MORE

FRESH AIR: Neal Katyal wrote the special counsel regulations when he worked under President Clinton. Now he lays out the legal issues that could arise if Trump tries to interfere with the Mueller investigation. MORE

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

VADER UNPLUGGED: NY Times Grills Steve Bannon

January 4th, 2018

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

WORTH REPEATING: My Life In The Ghost Of Bush

January 3rd, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-01-03 at 2.21.31 PM


THE INTERCEPT: Bundled against the freezing wind, my lawyers and I were about to reach the courthouse door when two news photographers launched into a perp-walk shoot. As a reporter, I had witnessed this classic scene dozens of times, watching in bemusement from the sidelines while frenetic photographers and TV crews did their business. I never thought I would be the perp, facing those whirring cameras.

As I walked past the photographers into the courthouse that morning in January 2015, I saw a group of reporters, some of whom I knew personally. They were here to cover my case, and now they were waiting and watching me. I felt isolated and alone.

My lawyers and I took over a cramped conference room just outside the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, where we waited for her to begin the pretrial hearing that would determine my fate. My lawyers had been working with me on this case for so many years that they now felt more like friends. We often engaged in gallows humor about what it was going to be like for me once I went to jail. But they had used all their skills to make sure that didn’t happen and had even managed to keep me out of a courtroom and away from any questioning by federal prosecutors.

Until now.

My case was part of a broader crackdown on reporters and whistleblowers that had begun during the presidency of George W. Bush and continued far more aggressively under the Obama administration, which had already prosecuted more leak cases than all previous administrations combined. Obama officials seemed determined to use criminal leak investigations to limit reporting on national security. But the crackdown on leaks only applied to low-level dissenters; top officials caught up in leak investigations, like former CIA Director David Petraeus, were still treated with kid gloves. […]

In another recent incident that gave me chilling insight into the power of government surveillance, I met with a sensitive and well-placed source through an intermediary. After the meeting, which occurred a few years ago in Europe, I began to do research on the source. About an hour later, I got a call from the intermediary, who said, “Stop Googling his name.”

In January 2008, after I received the first subpoena related to the CIA-Iran story in “State of War,” a series of procedural motions prolonged the fight over whether I would be forced to testify before the grand jury until after the 2008 presidential election.

I thought Barack Obama’s election would end the case. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema seemed to think so, too. In July 2009, she issued a brief ruling noting that the grand jury in the case had expired, meaning my subpoena was no longer valid. I was surprised when Obama’s Justice Department quickly told Brinkema they wanted to renew the subpoena.

In hindsight, this was one of the earliest signals that Obama was determined to extend and even expand many of Bush’s national security policies, including a crackdown on whistleblowers and the press. Ignoring the possible consequences to American democracy, the Obama administration began aggressively conducting surveillance of the digital communications of journalists and potential sources, leading to more leak prosecutions than all previous administrations combined. MORE

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

TRUMP + RUSSIA: Spies, Lies & Treason

January 2nd, 2018

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Since His Innauguration, Trump Has Told 1,950 Lies

January 2nd, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 2.56.56 PM

WASHINGTON POST: With just 18 days before President Trump completes his first year as president, he is now on track to exceed 2,000 false or misleading claims, according to our database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president. As of Monday, the total stood at 1,950 claims in 347 days, or an average of 5.6 claims a day. (Our full interactive graphic can be found here.)

As regular readers know, the president has a tendency to repeat himself — often. There are now more than 60 claims that he has repeated three or more times. The president’s impromptu 30-minute interview with the New York Times over the holidays, in which he made at least 24 false or misleading claims, included many statements that we have previously fact-checked.

We currently have a tie for Trump’s most repeated claims, both made 61 times. Both of these claims date from the start of Trump’s presidency and to a large extent have faded as talking points. One of these claims was some variation of the statement that the Affordable Care Act is dying and “essentially dead.” The Congressional Budget Office has said that the Obamacare exchanges, despite well-documented issues, are not imploding and are expected to remain stable for the foreseeable future. Indeed, healthy enrollment for the coming year has surprised health-care experts. Trump used to say this a lot, but he’s quieted down since his efforts to repeal the law flopped.

Trump also repeatedly takes credit for events or business decisions that happened before he took the oath of office — or had even been elected. Sixty-one times, he has touted that he secured business investments and job announcements that had been previously announced and could easily be found with a Google search. With the successful push in Congress to pass a tax plan, two of Trump’s favorite talking points about taxes — that the tax plan will be the biggest tax cut in U.S. history and that the United States is one of the highest-taxed nations — have rapidly moved up the list.

Trump repeated the falsehood about having the biggest tax cut 53 times, even though Treasury Department data shows it would rank eighth. And 58 times Trump has claimed that the United States pays the highest corporate taxes (25 times) or that it is one of the highest-taxed nations (33 times). The latter is false; the former is misleading, as the effective U.S. corporate tax rate (what companies end up paying after deductions and benefits) ends up being lower than the statutory tax rate. MORE

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

I WAS A TEENAGE SEX PISTOL: Q&A With Legendary Punk Rock Guitarist Steve Jones

December 28th, 2017



EDITOR’S NOTE: This week we will be re-posting choice Q&As from the past year. Today we present this reprise edition of this in-depth interview with Sex Pistols guitarist/songwriter Steve Jones, which originally posted on January 17th, 2017. Enjoy.

meAVATAR2BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR VICE  Steve Jones has been a lot of things in his 61 years: a love-starved bastard, a smooth criminal, a peeping tom, an insatiable man-slut, a master thief, an insufferable prog-rocker, a wouldbe Yacht Rock A&R rep, a SEX shop clerk, Chrissie Hynde’s pre-Pretenders fuck-buddy; a teenage Sex Pistol, a 23-year-old has-been, a sticky-fingered junkie, a shit-hot guitar-slinger-for-hire, Iggy Pop’s muse, a Fabio-haired solo artist, a buff and burnished Hollywood biker, a recovering addict, a childhood sexual abuse survivor, a jailhouse motivational speaker, an ascot’d elder statesman of punk, a beloved LA disc jockey and a sexagenarian social media baller.

All of which is confessed in unflinching detail, with a nod and a wink and a pinch of Cockney slang, in Lonely Boy (Da Capo), his painfully honest, just-published must-read memoir, co-written with Ben Thompson. Recently we got Mr. Jones on the horn to discuss the following: Stealing Keith Richards’s favorite coat/Bryan Ferry’s gold record/David Bowie’s bass amp; his cloak of invisibility; his crap childhood; the tens of thousands of “birds” he’s “shagged”; his semi-tragic inability to forge a lasting relationship with a woman; learning how to read, write and spell after 40; an ex-illegal Brit’s perspective on immigrants and Trump; why he can’t stand being in the same room with Johnny Rotten; JonesyJukeboxwatching Glen Matlock shag John Cale’s wife; whether or not Sid Vicious kill Nancy Spungen; why Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols is the Dorian Gray of seminal DOA punk rock debuts; the oft-derided virtues of Boston and Journey; and why he pissed on Elvis’ grave.

VICE: Let’s start at the beginning and work our way up to the present. In your pre-Sex Pistols days you were a very prolific and precocious thief. In addition to robbing a lot of unfamous people you also stole Keith Richards’ coat, Bryan Ferry’s gold record, the entire backline of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in the middle of their infamous two-night farewell concert at the Hammersmith-Odeon in 1973. You refer to your ability to operate largely undetected in the shadows as “The Cloak.”

STEVE JONES: The Invisible Cloak, yeah.

VICE: Were you really that gifted a criminal? Or were the police so incompetent and security measures so insufficient back in those days?

STEVE JONES: Well it was that, that’s it. There was no security. No one had cameras. Even alarm systems in stores didn’t work that great. It was the perfect time to be a kleptomaniac for sure, but there was also an element of balls that you had to have. That’s where “The Cloak” came from. I would literally go to any high-end department store up the West End of London — Selfridge’s, Harrods, Hamleys — and work my way into the storeroom and convince myself I was meant to be there. And oftentimes people would actually, people who worked there would see me there, but I had this confidence about me that they wouldn’t even question what I was doing there. And I was like, 12 years old, it was remarkable how many times I did that and got away with it.

VICE: So was it as much about the thrill of doing it as it was actually getting free stuff? JonesyJukebox

STEVE JONES: It was all about the thrill, to be honest. I mean, it was fine getting some free stuff that I didn’t need, but it was a survival mechanism is what it was. It was, you know, because of the trauma, I guess, if you want to call it that, after my stepfather fucking about with me. After that happened, I didn’t want to be at home, I didn’t feel safe at home. I had this urge on a daily basis to go out into the world and be on a mission. I couldn’t sit still, so that’s why I became a kleptomaniac.

VICE: Your fear and anxiety about your fucked up home situation aggravated your ADHD and may have been the root cause of a lot of the antisocial things you were doing in your youth?

STEVE JONES: It was grim. My upbringing was grim. I had a mother who didn’t really want to have a kid. I had a stepfather who definitely didn’t want me around. Life was good when I was with my Nan, from a very early age to about six or seven. By the time I was about six or seven we moved into this shithole in Shepherd’s Bush in a basement and that’s when the horrible vibes come, you know, and I just hated it. I couldn’t stand it. You know, I was in the way. I was a burden. That’s the feeling I got, you know, and I didn’t want to deal with it.

VICE: In the book you make a very frank and courageous admission that you were once molested by your stepfather. What advice would you offer to somebody who went through something similar to that as a child, who is now an adult but is still so consumed with shame and humiliation they can’t really confront it, even now.

STEVE JONES: I think that happens quite a lot, to be honest with you. I think not 1 in 100 but maybe 1 in 50, where some kind of weird shit happens to you as a kid. But the worst is when it happens to you when supposedly you’re in a safe place, at home, with your parents and, I mean, in hindsight, you know, the best thing to do is to fucking tell someone because when you’re 10 years old you kind of tell yourself that you had a part in it. You kind of made them do it. You know, and it’s when looking back at it, when you’re 10 years old, how the fuck do you know anything, you know?  Your totally taken advantage of, and the best thing to do is to talk about it. Talk about it one-on-one with someone if you don’t want the whole world to know. It definitely helps because that’s a big burden, that’s a big JonesyJukeboxsecret to carry around and it gives you fucking cancer if you ask me and shit like that, you know?

VICE: Totally. The truth shall set you free. Jumping back to your early life of crime — The Great David Bowie Heist is just hilarious and blows my mind. There’s this iconic moment in rock n’ roll history and there you are in the background sneaking off with everyone’s shit.  For the benefit of readers who haven’t read your book yet could you just give a summary of what happened?

STEVE JONES: Yeah, I was a massive Bowie fan, specifically a Spiders from Mars fan — as I was Roxy music, or Rod Stewart and The Faces, or Mott The Hoople. That was my time. When I was a teenager that was what I was obsessed with. Glam rock. Good glam rock, not shit glam rock. I went to what wound up being the farewell concert of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars and Hammersmith Odeon where I always used to go and see shows. I used to know that place like the back of my hand, and I went and saw him. I didn’t realize- well no one realized — this was going to be the end of the Spiders from Mars, and they did two nights and after the first night they left all their gear set up on stage, because they were going to play again the next night. The left some guy who was asleep, well he wasn’t meant to be asleep he was meant to be awake looking after the equipment, but he dozed off in about the fifth row and no one else was in this place other than him, me, and my accomplice.

We snuck on the stage started snipping microphones with some pliers, I took the bass amp, I took some of the cymbals. I didn’t take anything from Mick Ronson I don’t know why I didn’t but um, we loaded up my mini-van that I had at the time, dropped it off somewhere, came back for another round and, about to do some more damage, the guy woke up. He didn’t see me. I saw him starting to wake up and I split. I didn’t realize this was going to be such a big deal. I didn’t realize this was going to be the end of that phase of Bowie. It was on the radio the next morning that all their equipment had been stolen. And of course that made you feel a sense of pride and savor the infamy — hey ‘I did that!’ Like the arsonist who sets fire to houses and stands outside when the cops show up, watching it burn. Getting kind of like a “Yeah, that’s me! That’s me!” This nobody has made a little bit of a name for himself and no one knows it.

VICE: You met Bowie years later, did you ever tell him about this? MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Q&A With Johnny Rotten, Anti-Christ Superstar

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]

Via BuzzFeed