Author Archives: afscme

How the Russian government used disinformation and cyber warfare in 2016 election – an ethical hacker explains

Source: Timothy Summers, The Conversation, July 27, 2018

The Soviet Union and now Russia under Vladimir Putin have waged a political power struggle against the West for nearly a century. Spreading false and distorted information – called “dezinformatsiya” after the Russian word for “disinformation” – is an age-old strategy for coordinated and sustained influence campaigns that have interrupted the possibility of level-headed political discourse. Emerging reports that Russian hackers targeted a Democratic senator’s 2018 reelection campaign suggest that what happened in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election may be set to recur…..

Why the war on poverty in the US isn’t over, in 4 charts

Source: Robert L. Fischer, The Conversation, July 20, 2018

On July 12, President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers concluded that America’s long-running war on poverty “is largely over and a success.”

I am a researcher who has studied poverty for nearly 20 years in Cleveland, a city with one of the country’s highest rates of poverty. While the council’s conclusion makes for a dramatic headline, it simply does not align with the reality of poverty in the U.S. today. ….

Behind the Badge: Police Policies Revealed

Source: New York Civil Liberties Union, 2018

When are police officers authorized to use force? What is the process for handling and correcting officer misconduct? How are officers using high-tech surveillance technology? New Yorkers have a right to know what rules the police are following to keep us safe. But far too often, police departments across the state don’t have clear or specific policies in place, or they are made with no community input and hidden from the public.

Corporate Impunity – “Tough on Crime” Trump Is Weak on Corporate Crime and Wrongdoing

Source: Rick Claypool, Taylor Lincoln, Michael Tanglis and Alan Zibel, Public Citizen, July 2018

From the press release:
During President Donald Trump’s first year in office, enforcement against corporate crime and wrongdoing declined dramatically, with total penalties for such violations plummeting from the final year of the Obama administration, according to a new report from Public Citizen.

In almost every federal agency under control of a Trump appointee – and most notably at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the nation’s lead law enforcement agency – enforcement against corporations dropped, often plunging to just a small fraction of what it had been.

Public Citizen’s report “Corporate Impunity” tracked enforcement activities against corporate violators by 12 federal agencies overseen by a Trump administration official for the majority of Trump’s first year in office. The report was co-released with Violation Tracker, a corporate enforcement database produced by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First.

In 11 of the 12 agencies, the amount of penalties imposed on corporate violators declined, in many cases drastically. In 10 of the 12 agencies, the number of individual enforcement actions against corporate violators also declined significantly.

Related:
OSHA Broke the Law by Refusing Worker Injury and Illness Data – Timely Data Is Needed to Protect Workers From Threats to Health and Safety
Source: Public Citizen, Press release, July 25, 2018

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) broke the law by suspending parts of its electronic recordkeeping rule, Public Citizen, the American Public Health Association and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists said in a lawsuit filed today with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. To help the agency monitor and prevent workplaces injuries and illnesses, the rule requires covered workplaces to submit certain 2017 work-related injury and illness data to the agency by July 1. OSHA recently announced that it would not accept the data.

Instead of following notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures required by the Administrative Procedure Act, OSHA simply announced on its website that it was suspending the July 1 deadline, that it would neither require nor accept the data and that it intended to revise the rule. In the lawsuit, the groups explain that OSHA lacks the legal authority to suspend the deadline without first providing public notice and an opportunity to comment, and that OSHA’s stated reason for the suspension is arbitrary and capricious. The groups are asking the court to order OSHA to require and accept the workplace injury and illness data, as required by the rule.

Public Citizen’s Corporate Presidency Project

Driven into Debt: How Tickets Burden the Poor

Source: ProPublica and WBEZ, 2018

Parking, traffic camera and vehicle tickets generate millions of dollars in desperately needed cash each year for the City of Chicago. But for the working poor, and particularly for African Americans, paying for tickets can be difficult — opening the door to more fines and fees, and spiraling debt. Drivers who don’t pay what they owe face tough punishments from the city and state that threaten their livelihoods.

Articles include:
Chicago Hiked the Cost of Vehicle City Sticker Violations to Boost Revenue. But It’s Driven More Low-Income, Black Motorists Into Debt.
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, and Elliott Ramos, WBEZ July 26, 2018

Now, a former official regrets the move and wants the city to revisit it. Some policies, she said, are “terrible.”

How ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ Worked Together to Find Thousands of Duplicate Tickets in Chicago
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, and Elliott Ramos, WBEZ July 6, 2018

We heard from you about how ticket debt, especially from $200 city sticker citations, has affected you. And we would like your help as we continue our reporting.

Three City Sticker Tickets on the Same Car in 90 Minutes?
Souce: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, and Elliott Ramos, WBEZ June 27, 2018

Chicago has issued 20,000 duplicate city sticker tickets since 2007. City officials are now looking at whether this violates a city ordinance and say motorists might be in for a refund.

Chicago Begins To Rethink How Bankruptcy Lawyers Get Paid
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, May 9, 2018

Judges are demanding that lawyers tell their clients that their other debts might not get paid, but their lawyers will.

Some States No Longer Suspend Driver’s Licenses for Unpaid Fines. Will Illinois Join Them?
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, March 15, 2018

Our analysis shows suspensions tied to ticket debt disproportionately affect motorists in largely black sections of Chicago and its suburbs.

She Owed $102,158.40 in Unpaid Tickets, but She’s Not in the Story
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, March 2, 2018

Still, we want to tell you a little bit about her, and about some of the other people we interviewed, because they helped inform our ticket debt investigation.

How Chicago Ticket Debt Sends Black Motorists Into Bankruptcy
Source: Melissa Sanchez and Sandhya Kambhampati, ProPublica, February 27, 2018

A cash-strapped city employs punitive measures to collect from cash-strapped black residents — and lawyers benefit.

The Many Roads to Bankruptcy
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, February 27, 2018

Here are some stories of Chicagoans driven into ticket debt.

Political Bubbles and Hidden Diversity: Highlights From a Very Detailed Map of the 2016 Election

Source: New York Times, The Upshot, July 25, 2018

Today The New York Times published an interactive map that lets you explore the 2016 presidential election at the highest level of detail available: by voting precinct.

This map, although nearly two years old, continues to define American politics. The vast majority of people who voted for Donald J. Trump say they approve of his job performance today, while the vast majority of Hillary Clinton voters say they disapprove.

On the neighborhood level, many of us really do live in an electoral bubble, this map shows: More than one in five voters lived in a precinct where 80 percent of the two-party vote went to Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton. But the map also reveals surprising diversity.

Judicial Politics and Sentencing Decisions

Source: Alma Cohen, Crystal S. Yang, Harvard Law School, May 7, 2018

From the abstract:
This paper investigates whether judge political affiliation contributes to racial and gender disparities in sentencing using data on over 500,000 federal defendants linked to sentencing judge. Exploiting random case assignment, we find that Republican-appointed judges sentence black defendants to 3.0 more months than similar non-blacks and female defendants to 2.0 fewer months than similar males compared to Democratic-appointed judges, 65 percent of the baseline racial sentence gap and 17 percent of the baseline gender sentence gap, respectively.These differences cannot be explained by other judge characteristics and grow substantially larger when judges are granted more discretion.

The Shifting Supply and Demand of Care Work: The Growing Role of People of Color and Immigrants

Source: Heidi Hartmann, Jeff Hayes, Rebecca Huber, Kelly Rolfes-Haase, Jooyeoun Suh, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, IWPR #C470, June 2018

From the summary:
As the Baby Boom generation matures and current unmet child care needs remain constant, the United States faces a burgeoning crisis in the demand for care workers. The market has slowly but surely begun to adapt, seeing an overall growth of 19 percent in the number of care workers between 2005 and 2015, with most of that growth in adult care. The U.S. Department of Labor suggests that this will only grow further, projecting that the economy will add more than 1.6 million jobs in occupations related to adult care by 2024 (Rolen 2017).

This report analyzes changing demographics and trends in earnings for two occupational groups, child care and adult care workers. Findings from the analysis show that:

—-While Still Largely Female, White, and US-Born, the Care Workforce Is Increasingly Adding More Men, Women of Color, and Foreign Born ….
—-Female Care Workers Are More Educated Than in 2005, Yet Face High Poverty Rates ….
—-Despite Gains in Human Capital and Growing Demand, Wages for Care Workers Are Stagnant or Declining ….

Connecticut in Crisis: How inequality is paralyzing ‘America’s country club’

Source: Jared Bennett, Center for Public Integrity, July 25, 2018

The state is caught in an economic straitjacket and there’s no easy way out…..

…. Blue chip companies like General Electric have either left or are threatening to leave. A yawning budget deficit continues to loom over the state, amplified by some of the nation’s most glaring economic inequality. Greenwich, home to hedge funders and Manhattan corporate titans, and the Norman Rockwell suburbs of Westport, New Canaan and Darien share few priorities with Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport, gritty cities struggling with searing poverty and fiscal disaster. Connecticut’s political leaders must choose between what seem like equally rotten options: cut services, and push more burden onto the urban poor, or hike taxes, and risk repelling both the suburban rich who pay much of the freight and new businesses that might consider moving here. Put simply, Connecticut is in a bind with precious little room to maneuver.

Connecticut’s troubles are extreme but hardly unique. The recovery that has entrenched Connecticut into the haves and have-nots has been unequal in other regions as well – from Florida to California and down to Texas. As the stock market climbs but wages remain relatively flat, the Constitution State serves as a troubling bellwether of national priorities that seem to favor wealth creation for the few before investments in the broader economy. ….

When Wall Street Showed Up, Fortunes Sank in This Small American Town

Source: Thomas Black and Christopher Cannon, Bloomberg, July 24, 2018

….True enough, the mill in Wickliffe, the county seat, would have been staring down the barrel with or without the involvement of first Cerberus Capital Management and then Apollo Global Management. They came in, as private-equity firms often do, as business was on the skids, aiming for a turnaround.

Opened in 1970 by Westvaco Corp., the mill produced coated paper for magazines and glossy marketing inserts—a profitable enterprise in the pre-internet age. Times changed. Former employees said worries about the future began when Westvaco merged with Mead Corp. in 2001 and ratcheted up when Cerberus acquired the coated-paper unit in a $2.3 billion leveraged buyout in 2005…..

….To be sure, the mill’s idling can’t be held solely responsible for the county’s credit and debt woes. Other employers have disappeared in recent years. Within a 50-mile radius of Wickliffe, two tire plants and a Honeywell International Inc. factory that converted uranium ore into fuel for nuclear plants shuttered, and a government-run uranium enrichment facility is winding down.

The death of the paper mill hurt the most, with about 350 jobs with generous benefits lost. Locals blame Wall Street investors for accelerating what might haven been the inevitable (there’s still debate about that in Wickliffe), echoing detractors of the private-equity model that has a bumpy turnaround track record but that has been attracting record amounts from investors because they promise juicy returns in a world of ultra-low interest rates. The $3 trillion industry pulled in a record $453 billion last year.

Officials at Apollo and Cerberus declined to comment for this story….