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Jon Stewart makes late-night TV great again

Your Moment of Zen

Jon Stewart makes late-night TV great again

By on Jul 22, 2016Share

He’s baaaack!

American hero Jon Stewart emerged from his bunker Thursday to join his old pal Stephen Colbert on The Late Show.

Looking fresh out of survivalist training, Stewart gave us much-missed commentary on this week’s Republican National Convention and Roger Ailes’ exit from Fox News.

He had one message for Donald Trump, and the machinery that nominated him: “I see your bullshit.”

Either Lumpy and friends are lying about being bothered by thin-skinned, authoritarian, less-than-Christian readers-of-prompter being president, or they don’t care, as long as it’s their thin-skinned prompter authoritarian tyrant narcissist. You just want that person to give you your country back, because you feel that you are this country’s rightful owner. The only problem with that: This country isn’t yours. You don’t own it.

There was plenty of BS like that in Trump’s address to the RNC.

CBS censors were less than pleased with Stewart, but the crowd loved it. Watch the segment above.

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Jon Stewart makes late-night TV great again

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The "NSA-Proof" Cloud Drive: Spy-Thwarting Gadgets Are The Latest Tech Boom

Mother Jones

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For many years, Apple’s Steve Jobs used the Macworld expo in San Francisco to launch the company’s most innovative products. The release of gadgets such as the iPhone into the creative ferment of Silicon Valley gave rise to booming economies of accessories and apps. Yet this year, the most palpable inspiration among Macworld’s product developers is coming from a very different sort of tech guru: The National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

One of the most prominent booths at Macworld, which opened on Wednesday and runs through Saturday, belongs to iDrive, a company that recently erected nine billboards around San Francisco to tout its “NSA-proof cloud backup.” Unlike other cloud sites such as Google Drive or DropBox, iDrive’s software helps users encrypt their data on their own mobile devices or computers using a private key known only to them. Then the encrypted data is automatically transmitted to and stored on the company’s servers. In the event of a subpoena by the NSA, “we can turn over the data but we can’t do anything with it because the key is not known to us,” iDrive CEO Raghu Kulkarni told me. “That is what makes it NSA-proof.”

In the months since the Snowden leaks, iDrive’s signups have jumped 20 percent, Kulkami says.

Of course, any claim of total invincibility to the NSA ought to be viewed with skepticism. The spy agency is building a quantum computer supposedly capable of breaking virtually all kinds of encryption and can often circumvent solid encryption anyway using other kinds of hacking. Oh, and by the way, the NSA likes to target people that it thinks have something to hide.

This afternoon at Macworld, Parker Higgins of the Electronic Frontier Foundation will moderate a panel of security firms and tech journalists called “The NSA And You.”

The challenges of protecting data from dragnet surveillance haven’t stopped other Macworld exhibitors from working the NSA angle. Take the “personal cloud” devices Transporter and My Cloud, for example. Designed for people who don’t trust anyone except themselves to back up or store their data, they replace the cloud with a two- to four-terabyte hard drive that sits on a desk. Yet this personal cloud still allows for all the convenience and functionality of the conventional cloud, including online access from any device and sharing large files with others via links.

Elke Larson, an exhibitor for My Cloud, told me that protection from the NSA “is a point that people bring up a lot” when discussing the product. Unlike iDrive, which doesn’t allow sharing from encrypted accounts, the personal cloud devices also enable users to more easily swap data.

“Our cloud is completely private,” said Transporter exhibitor Brett Best, whose booth overflowed with interested visitors. “You have complete control of your files and folders, and you know where they are.”

“Whereas DropBox,” he went on, “shoot, the government goes and accesses that stuff all the time.”

For what it’s worth, Best went on to claim that Transporter, which got off the ground with the help of $260,000 from Kickstarter, is more NSA-proof than My Cloud because My Cloud stores some of its users’ metadata, such as file names, but “we don’t store any of that.” (A My Cloud rep said he’d never heard that claim).

Not that any of this will matter if government investigators were to hack directly into your computer. In that event, you might wish you’d installed the app Hider 2, due to launch in few days from the company MacPaw. At the click of a button, it allows you to encrypt and hide (or decrypt and unhide) files on your computer. In a demo of the app at the company’s Macworld booth, some files were cheekily tagged “NSA.”

Apple’s App Store would not certify Hider 2, CEO Oleksandr Kosovan told me, until it was approved by… the NSA. “If the NSA does have some super-powered quantum computer,” he added, “they may get access to the data, but that is very unlikely.”

But that’s not the only threat for Hider 2 users. MacPaw is based in Kiev, Ukraine. So if Russian tanks roll over the border tomorrow, you may need to start worrying about protecting your Bitcoins and LOLcats from the Federal Security Service.

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The "NSA-Proof" Cloud Drive: Spy-Thwarting Gadgets Are The Latest Tech Boom

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Is the Era of Imperial Global Powers Over?

Mother Jones

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This story first appeared on the TomDispatch website.

There is, it seems, something new under the sun.

Geopolitically speaking, when it comes to war and the imperial principle, we may be in uncharted territory. Take a look around and you’ll see a world at the boiling point. From Ukraine to Syria, South Sudan to Thailand, Libya to Bosnia, Turkey to Venezuela, citizen protest (left and right) is sparking not just disorganization, but what looks like, to coin a word, de-organization at a global level. Increasingly, the unitary status of states, large and small, old and new, is being called into question. Civil war, violence, and internecine struggles of various sorts are visibly on the rise. In many cases, outside countries are involved and yet in each instance state power seems to be draining away to no other state’s gain. So here’s one question: Where exactly is power located on this planet of ours right now?

There is, of course, a single waning superpower that has in this new century sent its military into action globally, aggressively, repeatedly —and disastrously. And yet these actions have failed to reinforce the imperial system of organizing and garrisoning the planet that it put in place at the end of World War II; nor has it proven capable of organizing a new global system for a new century. In fact, everywhere it’s touched militarily, local and regional chaos have followed.

In the meantime, its own political system has grown gargantuan and unwieldy; its electoral process has been overwhelmed by vast flows of money from the wealthy 1%; and its governing system is visibly troubled, if not dysfunctional. Its rich are ever richer, its poor ever poorer, and its middle class in decline. Its military, the largest by many multiples on the planet, is nonetheless beginning to cut back. Around the world, allies, client states, and enemies are paying ever less attention to its wishes and desires, often without serious penalty. It has the classic look of a great power in decline and in another moment it might be easy enough to predict that, though far wealthier than its Cold War superpower adversary, it has simply been heading for the graveyard more slowly but no less surely.

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Is the Era of Imperial Global Powers Over?

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Fox News Just Can’t Get Americans to Buy Into Benghazi Conspiracy Theories

Mother Jones

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Steve Benen alerts me today to this hilariously loaded question in a recent Fox News poll:

Do you know what’s most hilarious about this? Even with question wording that practically demanded the answer they wanted, only 49 percent of respondents played along.

Give it up, guys. If you’re looking for evidence that the American public just doesn’t buy the cover-up conspiracy, this is it.


Fox News Just Can’t Get Americans to Buy Into Benghazi Conspiracy Theories

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Riot Grrrl Kathleen Hanna, All Grown Up

Mother Jones

As a college kid in early ’90s Olympia, Washington, Kathleen Hanna was fed up with the punk-rock boys’ club—so she made a punk rock girls’ club. With screechy vocals, dirty guitar, and fast and catchy melodies, her band Bikini Kill railed against sexism and violence against women. But the music wasn’t all: Hanna and her friends made zines and held meetings for girls who were sick of being told to act like ladies. When Bikini Kill’s second album, Pussy Whipped, gained national attention in 1993, the new movement, known as riot grrrl, took off.

Fans around the country made their own zines and girl-fronted music. When Bikini Kill broke up in 1997, Hanna went on to form her one-woman lo-fi band Julie Ruin in 1999, the dance-punk trio Le Tigre in 2003, and The Julie Ruin, a quintet that released its debut album, Run Fast, this past September. I caught up with Hanna to talk about kids these days, riot grrrl’s legacy, and why she’s glad Miley Cyrus proclaimed herself a feminist.

MJ: How would you say Run Fast differs from your past work?

KH: I really just let the record be what it was gonna be, and I didn’t control it. Like, the song that answers the person’s letter who writes me and says, “I’m gay and I came out to my family and they kicked me out of my house and I feel totally suicidal.” And then I write a song for that person. I couldn’t do that with this record. I really needed to write something just for me.

MJ: A lot of your older stuff spoke directly to young women. Who’s your audience now?

KH: I’m not really thinking about whom I’m writing for. It got to the point where it started to feel like everything in my work was audience-based. In Le Tigre and in Bikini Kill, people said, “You’re preaching to the converted.” In Bikini Kill, it was ridiculous because most of our audience was way more than halfway male. But in Le Tigre, we had already developed this feminist queer community who supported our band, and I would say, “Yeah, and that’s great, because the converted don’t have enough music or arts made for them.” I was really into that. But now, I don’t want to have an audience in mind. I don’t consider myself a divining rod whom God is speaking through or any kind of crap like that. I’m specific about the work I’m making, but just letting there be a little more play and freedom.

MJ: Do you see the riot grrrl movement persisting in today’s culture?

KH: Yeah, I mean, look at Pussy Riot. There’s an old picture of me with “Pussy” and “Riot” written on my arms in Sharpie. I also see girls’ rock camps all around the country and in the UK. There are so many women my age who got involved with that early on, and so many bands that were considered riot grrrl bands who’ve been teaching at the camps. I’m not taking credit for it. I remember the first time I walked in and I was like, “Oh, I didn’t have to do this! These other amazing women did this, and I can just enjoy it.”

MJ: Has it gotten easier for young women to be in bands?

KH: I think it must be, because there are so many more all-female bands and they play instruments—they’re not just, you know, a vocal group someone puts together. But I meet women who are dealing with the kind of crap that we dealt with—you know, guys yelling at them when they’re on stage, or these horrible comments on the internet that say, “Oh, you’re only getting attention because you’re girls” or “You’re fat and you’re ugly” or “You’re beautiful and that’s why people like you.” And when I hear that, I get really sad because I’m like, “Wow, we haven’t come very far.”

MJ: I’ve gotta ask: What did you think about Miley Cyrus at the VMAs?

KH: You know, I didn’t see it. I could’ve watched it on the internet, but I just didn’t want to, because I don’t really care. I just feel like the healthcare situation, the recent government shutdown, all of the events around the world are just so much more important. I do think it’s really cool that Miley Cyrus said she’s the biggest feminist ever. I was like, “That’s the sound of 200,000 eight-year-olds Googling the word ‘feminist!'” I was pleased.

MJ: Have your interests become less about personal politics over the years, and more about global politics?

KH: Yeah, definitely. I think a lot about how so many women can’t contribute their voices to the feminist movement because they’re just trying to put food on the table. Or they have an illness that they can’t get treated because they don’t have health insurance. I think a lot about people who die unnecessarily because they don’t get to see the good doctors. Those kinds of things move me in a similar way that violence against women moved me in the beginning of Bikini Kill. And of course, that still totally upsets me, but poverty is really utmost in my mind right now.

MJ: When I was a teenager just discovering Bikini Kill, this music was kind of how my friends and I formed our identities. Is it still possible for young people to have that kind of a relationship with music?

KH: I don’t know because I’m not a young person anymore. But it’s…there’s just so much! I’m amazed that younger people can absorb anything. I gotta be honest about the way that I listen to music, and this is really letting it all hang out: I watch videos on YouTube of bands that I’ve heard of that I want to check out. And sometimes I don’t even finish the video. And that’s really sad, because maybe I’d like that song. I think that we don’t give stuff a chance to really sink in.

Below, the Julie Ruin. And click here for Hanna’s rundown of what she’s been listening to lately.

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Riot Grrrl Kathleen Hanna, All Grown Up

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Here’s How Walmart Could Pay Workers a Decent Wage Without Raising Prices

Mother Jones

Walmart has gotten a lot of bad press this week over news of an Ohio store holding a food drive for its own workers, who were unable to buy Thanksgiving groceries on the retail giant’s paltry wages. The store managers deserve credit for their thoughtfulness, but wouldn’t it be better if Walmart simply paid its workers enough to feed themselves? A new report from Demos, a liberal think tank, suggests that doing so wouldn’t be as hard as you might think.

According to the report, “A Higher Wage Is Possible,” Walmart spends $7.6 billion a year buying back stock. Those purchases drive up the company’s share price, further enriching the Walton family, which controls more than half of Walmart stock (and for that matter, more wealth than 42 percent of Americans combined.) If Walmart instead spent that money on wages, it could give each of its 1.3 million US employees a $5.83 per hour raise—enough to ensure that all of them are paid a wage equivalent to $25,000 a year for full-time work.

Walmart and its defenders like to argue that raising wages would require it to raise prices, which would in turn hurt its low-income shoppers. But Demos disagrees: “Curtailing share buybacks would not harm the company’s retail competitiveness or raise prices for consumers,” the report says. “In fact…higher pay could be expected to improve employee productivity and morale while reducing Walmart’s expenses related to employee turnover.”

A spokesperson for Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Here’s How Walmart Could Pay Workers a Decent Wage Without Raising Prices

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US Spent Billions on Afghan Projects That Will Fall Apart When We Leave

Mother Jones

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The United States and Afghanistan are close to finalizing a deal that would set guidelines for the two countries’ relationship after 2014, when the bulk of American forces are supposed to leave the country—more than a dozen years and hundreds of billions of dollars later.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Secretary of State John Kerry and Afghan President Hamid Karzai had reached tentative agreement on one of the last remaining holdups preventing a long-term deal: whether American forces could continue to raid Afghan homes during security operations. The new agreement would prevent American-led raids except under “extraordinary circumstances,” but it’s not yet clear that the deal will pass the Loya Jirga, a body of Afghan elders. The raids, among other issues, have created deep mistrust between American forces and the Afghan people.

If a deal is reached, US forces could remain in the country at least another 10 years in some fashion, committing taxpayers to spending millions more on security and nation-building projects. So far, many of those projects have been undermined by corruption and dysfunction. Here are a few examples of US investments in Afghanistan that have already either fallen apart or show little signs of lasting success:

At least 19 of the hospitals built by the international community—including two US-funded facilities that cost nearly $20 million—may be too expensive for the Afghan government to run.

Counternarcotics Aircraft
The Pentagon has invested $770 million for nearly 50 planes to patrol the countryside for opium poppy and hashish fields. But the Afghan government can’t afford the $100 million annual overhead—nor does it have enough qualified pilots to fly the aircraft.

Power Grid
With two-thirds of Afghans lacking regular access to electricity, the US has spent more than a billion dollars beefing up the country’s power grid. But according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the state-run power company may not be able to pay its bills after 2014, when US funding expires. Meanwhile, the US Agency for International Development recently gave the utility control of the construction of a hydroelectric dam in a restive section of Helmand province—a project 29 Marines died to make possible. As the Los Angeles Times reported, there are doubts about the “utility’s competence and experience, as well as the government’s commitment to a project that insurgents have violently opposed.”

The United States spent $1.7 billion on road and bridge building from 2002 to 2007, but some of the projects have already started to fall apart, “mainly because of the poor quality of initial construction, poor maintenance, and overloading,” according to SIGAR.

More Afghan children are being educated than ever before, thanks to international development efforts. But the Afghan government won’t be able to operate all the new schools, especially as international personnel and aid trickle out of the country. “Of course we built too much,” one British official told the Guardian. “We didn’t think about how the Afghans would pay for it…We wanted to show them what we could do for them, but without regard for sustainability.”

All in all, military operations in Afghanistan have cost nearly $700 billion. That’s still less than the United States spent fighting in Vietnam, but it’s still a major chunk of the more than $1.6 trillion spent on the Afghan and Iraq conflicts since September 11.

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US Spent Billions on Afghan Projects That Will Fall Apart When We Leave

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Hostage Taking Then and Now

Mother Jones

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Here is Charles Krauthammer today:

President Obama indignantly insists that GOP attempts to abolish or amend Obama­care are unseemly because it is “settled” law, having passed both houses of Congress, obtained his signature and passed muster with the Supreme Court….Yet when the House of Representatives undertakes a constitutionally correct, i.e., legislative, procedure for suspending the other mandate — the individual mandate — this is portrayed as some extra-constitutional sabotage of the rule of law. Why is tying that amendment to a generalized spending bill an outrage?

Now let’s imagine it is 2003, Democrats control the House of Representatives, and they have refused to allow the government to continue running unless President Bush’s tax cut is repealed. Under pressure, they have since “compromised,” and are now demanding only that the top rate cuts be repealed as their price for reopening the government. Here is Krauthammer:

President Bush indignantly insists that Democratic attempts to abolish or amend his tax cut are unseemly because it is “settled” law, having passed both houses of Congress, obtained his signature and passed muster with the Supreme Court….Yet when the House of Representatives undertakes a constitutionally correct, i.e., legislative, procedure for suspending the top end cuts, this is portrayed as some extra-constitutional sabotage of the rule of law. Why is tying that amendment to a generalized spending bill an outrage?

Please raise your hand if you can imagine Krauthammer writing that. Anyone? Now please raise your hand if you’re pretty sure he’d have written the exact opposite.

On a related note, Krauthammer is part of the crowd that thinks it was foolish for Republicans to tie Obamacare defunding to a government shutdown. If they were going to do this at all, he figures they should have tied it to the debt ceiling increase instead. This is a hundred times more damaging, of course, the financial equivalent of threatening nuclear obliteration, but it polls better so he prefers it. It’s a pretty good example of the dissolute state of the highbrow end of the conservative commentariat these days.

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Hostage Taking Then and Now

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Take a Virtual Flight Through Yosemite’s Fire Zone

Mother Jones

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Several weeks ago, a fire started in California’s pristine and wild Stanislaus National Forest, about 150 miles east of San Francisco, close to Yosemite National Park. By August 19, the blaze, known as the Rim Fire, was doubling in size every day. On August 27, it was 180,000 acres, bigger than the city of Chicago. Some 3,700 firefighters have used 460 fire engines, 60 bulldozers, and 15 helicopters to try to control it. And it’s still growing.

Watch the video above for a Google Earth bird’s-eye view of the areas that are threatened by the fire. Read more about what makes the Rim Fire an especially scary wildfire here.


Take a Virtual Flight Through Yosemite’s Fire Zone

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How to Keep Bananas from Getting Too Ripe

Get One


Every week, it’s the same old story. You pick up a fresh, slightly green bunch of bananas at the store and dream of all the fantastic ways you’ll use them. Smoothies? Dessert? Post-workout snack?

But it never fails: There’s always a banana or two left on the counter, too ripe for anything more beyond baking. And while banana bread, pancakes and muffins are delicious, they can definitely get old – fast.

That’s why we think this banana bag is genius. It keeps your fruit at the perfect stage of ripeness up to two weeks in your fridge, helping to cut your food waste and save money.

If you try it, let us know what you think!


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How to Keep Bananas from Getting Too Ripe

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