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Every Trump lie will be instantly laundered as headline news

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Yesterday, Donald Trump claimed to have gotten Sprint to bring 5,000 jobs back to America. This claim is false; the jobs have been coming for months. But a lot of media instantly published Trump's claim, many with Trump as the sole source and no reporting or fact-checking whatosever.

Trump and Sprint simply put out PR and everyone rewrote it. Sprint ignored inquiries from reporters who figured it out, only admitting that the jobs were "previously announced" after the company became the story and things started getting hot.

When I reached out to a Sprint spokeswoman asking if the announcement was a direct result of working with Trump or part of a pre-existing deal, she copy and pasted the press release I'd sent along with my first email. I responded saying I already had the press release and asked again if this was a direct result of working with Trump or part of a pre-existing deal in place. I tagged Sprint in a tweet about the situation, and it wasn't until after that started getting retweeted that the spokesperson responded.

"This is part of the 50,000 jobs that Masa previously announced," she said. "This total will be a combination of newly created jobs and bringing some existing jobs back to the U.S."

This is how it's going to be: he lies, and reporters instantly launder the statement into impartial-sounding headlines in the rush to be first. The excuse will be that stenography is journalism.

Get used to this sort of thing:

The New York Times:

Trump Takes Credit for Sprint Plan to Add 5,000 Jobs in U.S.

USA Today:

Trump: Sprint moving 5,000 jobs back to US

CNN:

Trump Declares Victory: Sprint will create 5,000 U.S. jobs

The New York Times is the only one with a fig-leaf ("takes credit") whose wording winks at the fact that it's hogwash. Some, such as CNN and WaPo, use language that implicitly validate Trump's claim.

Fox News and the Daily Mail do their thing:

Trump announces 8,000 more jobs for American workers
Trump announces 8,000 new jobs for Americans
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mxm23
18 days ago
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So here's the thing. In way this is good. Bear with me here. "Journalists" have been doing this for years, maybe decades, maybe forever. Now that it's so blatant can we hope or expect that some people will start to see through this hogwash everywhere? (Not just with Trump "news"?) What I mean is, could this lead to some more critical thinking en masse around the world?
San Rafael, CA
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Security Risks of TSA PreCheck

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Former TSA Administrator Kip Hawley wrote an op-ed pointing out the security vulnerabilities in the TSA's PreCheck program:

The first vulnerability in the system is its enrollment process, which seeks to verify an applicant's identity. We know verification is a challenge: A 2011 Government Accountability Office report on TSA's system for checking airport workers' identities concluded that it was "not designed to provide reasonable assurance that only qualified applicants" got approved. It's not a stretch to believe a reasonably competent terrorist could construct an identity that would pass PreCheck's front end.

The other step in PreCheck's "intelligence-driven, risk-based security strategy" is absurd on its face: The absence of negative information about a person doesn't mean he or she is trustworthy. News reports are filled with stories of people who seemed to be perfectly normal right up to the moment they committed a heinous act. There is no screening algorithm and no database check that can accurately predict human behavior -- especially on the scale of millions. It is axiomatic that terrorist organizations recruit operatives who have clean backgrounds and interview well.

None of this is news.

Back in 2004, I wrote:

Imagine you're a terrorist plotter with half a dozen potential terrorists at your disposal. They all apply for a card, and three get one. Guess which are going on the mission? And they'll buy round-trip tickets with credit cards and have a "normal" amount of luggage with them.

What the Trusted Traveler program does is create two different access paths into the airport: high security and low security. The intent is that only good guys will take the low-security path, and the bad guys will be forced to take the high-security path, but it rarely works out that way. You have to assume that the bad guys will find a way to take the low-security path.

The Trusted Traveler program is based on the dangerous myth that terrorists match a particular profile and that we can somehow pick terrorists out of a crowd if we only can identify everyone. That's simply not true. Most of the 9/11 terrorists were unknown and not on any watch list. Timothy McVeigh was an upstanding US citizen before he blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building. Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel are normal, nondescript people. Intelligence reports indicate that Al Qaeda is recruiting non-Arab terrorists for US operations.

I wrote much the same thing in 2007:

Background checks are based on the dangerous myth that we can somehow pick terrorists out of a crowd if we could identify everyone. Unfortunately, there isn't any terrorist profile that prescreening can uncover. Timothy McVeigh could probably have gotten one of these cards. So could have Eric Rudolph, the pipe bomber at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. There isn't even a good list of known terrorists to check people against; the government list used by the airlines has been the butt of jokes for years.

And have we forgotten how prevalent identity theft is these days? If you think having a criminal impersonating you to your bank is bad, wait until they start impersonating you to the Transportation Security Administration.

The truth is that whenever you create two paths through security -- a high-security path and a low-security path -- you have to assume that the bad guys will find a way to exploit the low-security path. It may be counterintuitive, but we are all safer if the people chosen for more thorough screening are truly random and not based on an error-filled database or a cursory background check.

In a companion blog post, Hawley has more details about why the program doesn't work:

In the sense that PreCheck bars people who were identified by intelligence or law enforcement agencies as possible terrorists, then it was intelligence-driven. But using that standard for PreCheck is ridiculous since those people already get extra screening or are on the No-Fly list. The movie Patriots Day, out now, reminds us of the tragic and preventable Boston Marathon bombing. The FBI sent agents to talk to the Tsarnaev brothers and investigate them as possible terror suspects. And cleared them. Even they did not meet the "intelligence-driven" definition used in PreCheck.

The other problem with "intelligence-driven" in the PreCheck context is that intelligence actually tells us the opposite; specifically that terrorists pick clean operatives. If TSA uses current intelligence to evaluate risk, it would not be out enrolling everybody they can into pre-9/11 security for everybody not flagged by the security services.

Hawley and I may agree on the problem, but we have completely opposite solutions. The op-ed was too short to include details, but they're in a companion blog post. Basically, he wants to screen PreCheck passengers more:

In the interests of space, I left out details of what I would suggest as short-and medium-term solutions. Here are a few ideas:

  • Immediately scrub the PreCheck enrollees for false identities. That can probably be accomplished best and most quickly by getting permission from members, and then using, commercial data. If the results show that PreCheck has already been penetrated, the program should be suspended.

  • Deploy K-9 teams at PreCheck lanes.

  • Use Behaviorally trained officers to interact with and check the credentials of PreCheck passengers.

  • Use Explosives Trace Detection cotton swabs on PreCheck passengers at a much higher rate. Same with removing shoes.

  • Turn on the body scanners and keep them fully utilized.

  • Allow liquids to stay in the carry-on since TSA scanners can detect threat liquids.

  • Work with the airlines to keep the PreCheck experience positive.

  • Work with airports to place PreCheck lanes away from regular checkpoints so as not to diminish lane capacity for non-PreCheck passengers. Rental Car check-in areas could be one alternative. Also, downtown check-in and screening (with secure transport to the airport) is a possibility.

These solutions completely ignore the data from the real-world experiment PreCheck has been. Hawley writes that PreCheck tells us that "terrorists pick clean operatives." That's exactly wrong. PreCheck tells us that, basically, there are no terrorists. If 1) it's an easier way through airport security that terrorists will invariably use, and 2) there have been no instances of terrorists using it in the 10+ years it and its predecessors have been in operation, then the inescapable conclusion is that the threat is minimal. Instead of screening PreCheck passengers more, we should screen everybody else less. This is me in 2012: "I think the PreCheck level of airport screening is what everyone should get, and that the no-fly list and the photo ID check add nothing to security."

I agree with Hawley that we need to overhaul airport security. Me in 2010: "Airport security is the last line of defense, and it's not a very good one." We need to recognize that the actual risk is much lower than we fear, and ratchet airport security down accordingly. And then we need to continue to invest in investigation and intelligence: security measures that work regardless of the tactic or target.

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mxm23
21 days ago
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What if this project isn't about security, but rather gathering information about people?
San Rafael, CA
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2 public comments
rtreborb
11 days ago
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I was frustrated when I found that there was a non-trivial fee for getting PreCheck certified. I'm going to take measures to provide extra information and you're going to charge me for it? No thank you
chrishiestand
12 days ago
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Not to mention that Hawley's suggestion would nullify the whole reason that people sign up for pre-check. I've been "randomly selected" for a more thorough search about two out of the last five times of using pre-check and it's quite annoying
San Diego, CA, USA
chrishiestand
12 days ago
In terms of airport security if we return to a pre-9/11 system and just added cockpit doors that lock the whole country would be better off, I think

Apple announces iTunes’ top five best-selling holiday movies of all time

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Elf!? Wow. This is a really lame list.

∞ Read this on The Loop

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mxm23
25 days ago
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Fuck off Shawn. I love the move "Elf"
San Rafael, CA
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NBC News: Obama Sat on Russian Election Hack Because He Thought Clinton Would Win Anyway

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NBC News:

The Obama administration didn’t respond more forcefully to Russian hacking before the presidential election because they didn’t want to appear to be interfering in the election and they thought that Hillary Clinton was going to win and a potential cyber war with Russia wasn’t worth it, multiple high-level government officials told NBC News.

“They thought she was going to win, so they were willing to kick the can down the road,” said one U.S official familiar with the level of Russian hacking.

The administration did take action in response to the hack prior to the election. In September, President Obama privately confronted Vladimir Putin about the hacks at the G-20 summit in China. He warned the Russian President of unspecified consequences if the hacks continued.

This is what I suspected, but it hurts to hear it. This is a profound stain on Obama’s legacy.

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mxm23
29 days ago
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"A profound stain on Obama's legacy, IF TRUE." There I fixed that for you Mr. Gruber.
San Rafael, CA
popular
28 days ago
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2 public comments
laza
30 days ago
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Who is Comey?
Belgrade, Serbia
duerig
30 days ago
Comey is the head of the FBI who officially told the world that there were 'new Clinton emails' a week before the election. They were all duplicates of previous emails, but it was enough to cause a lot of bad press for her in the final days of the election and quite possibly ushered in Trump as president. Pulling out all the stops and using your official power to get 'your guy' elected as president is terrible misconduct. I'm glad that Obama did not do this.
duerig
31 days ago
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No. This was the mark of a great man. We only have a democracy so long as the people playing the game care about the game more than they care about winning. That means not pulling out all the stops. That means not immediately playing up every bit of secret intelligence that may or may not pan out.

The difference between Comey and Obama is that Obama is a leader.
jhamill
30 days ago
Exactly.

Apple's tax-dodging offshore billions are sunk into Treasury Bills that pay out using Americans' taxes

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treasury_bills

Apple -- which is one of the multinational poster children for tax dodging, along with Google, Amazon, Ikea and others -- has billions of dollars "offshore" and in theory they can't bring that money into the USA without paying tax on it; but thanks to some fancy accounting, much of that money is sunk into US Treasury Bills (floated by the government Apple is starving through tax evasion), and the US taxpayers pay Apple, about $600M so far. (more…)

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mxm23
38 days ago
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Normally I'm a fan of Boing Boing but this is crap.

It's not tax evasion if it's legal. By definition. It's tax avoidance.

It's not like the taxpayers don't pay interest on T Bills if Apple doesn't own them. The interest is getting paid because that's the way America raises capital. Regardless of who owns them.

Get better, Boing Boing.
San Rafael, CA
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Tim Cook: Apple Watch Sales Set Record in Holiday Week

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Julia Love, reporting for Reuters:

Responding to an email from Reuters, Cook said the gadget’s sell-through — a measure of how many units are sold to consumers, rather than simply stocked on retailers’ shelves - reached a new high. […]

“Our data shows that Apple Watch is doing great and looks to be one of the most popular holiday gifts this year,” Cook wrote.

“Sales growth is off the charts. In fact, during the first week of holiday shopping, our sell-through of Apple Watch was greater than any week in the product’s history. And as we expected, we’re on track for the best quarter ever for Apple Watch,” he said.

This is in response to a widely-circulated report from IDC yesterday, claiming Apple Watch sales fell 71 percent in the third calendar quarter. IDC often pulls numbers out of its collective ass — they’re the outfit that claimed back in 2011 that Windows Phone would overtake the iPhone by 2015 — but these things could both be true. (Although it does look like IDC’s estimate is far short.)

Comparing Apple Watch sales in the third calendar quarter this year to last year is not meaningful. Last year the Apple Watch was still a brand-new product in July–September, drawing sales from early adopters. And remember that Apple Watch was extremely supply-constrained when it hit the market in May 2015. Many models were back-ordered for 6–8 weeks. This year, Apple Watch was a year-old product in those months, with many would-be purchasers correctly predicting that Apple would introduce new models in September.

Common sense suggests that the Apple Watch sales cycle is going to look a lot like the iPod’s — with truly humongous spikes in the holiday quarter. That’s when the new models come out, and it’s a natural gift.

Smartwatches in general might be suffering, but it’s looking more and more like Apple Watch is a hit.

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mxm23
40 days ago
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When I see this type of story that "analysts have said X" I think about the book "The Big Short" about the economic disaster that was sub-prime lending, CDOs and bonds, etc. The industry contains mostly unqualified people that are, at best, ignorant, and at worst actively working to deceive.

An report claiming any product line sales are down 71% feels suspicious. Who was to gain from this? Someone shorting AAPL stock?
San Rafael, CA
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