The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Thanks, Obama!

Two big Obama stories today.

First, the president has commuted Chelsea Manning's sentence. She'll be freed in May:

In recent days, the White House had signaled that Mr. Obama was seriously considering granting Ms. Manning’s commutation application, in contrast to a pardon application submitted on behalf of the other large-scale leaker of the era, Edward J. Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who disclosed archives of top secret surveillance files and is living as a fugitive in Russia.

Asked about the two clemency applications on Friday, the White House spokesman, Joshua Earnest, discussed the “pretty stark difference” between Ms. Manning’s case for mercy with Mr. Snowden’s. While their offenses were similar, he said, there were “some important differences.”

“Chelsea Manning is somebody who went through the military criminal justice process, was exposed to due process, was found guilty, was sentenced for her crimes, and she acknowledged wrongdoing,” he said. “Mr. Snowden fled into the arms of an adversary, and has sought refuge in a country that most recently made a concerted effort to undermine confidence in our democracy.”

(Brian Beutler notes that Snowden's future is pretty uncertain now, too.)

Second, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that, should Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act, it could lead to 18 million people losing health insurance right away and another 12 million in 20 years:

The bill that the budget office analyzed would have eliminated tax penalties for people who go without insurance. It would also have eliminated spending for the expansion of Medicaid and subsidies that help lower-income people buy private insurance. But the bill preserved requirements for insurers to provide coverage, at standard rates, to any applicant, regardless of pre-existing medical conditions.

“Eliminating the mandate penalties and the subsidies while retaining the market reforms would destabilize the nongroup market, and the effect would worsen over time,” the budget office said.

The office said the estimated increase of 32 million people without coverage in 2026 resulted from three changes: about 23 million fewer people would have coverage in the individual insurance market, roughly 19 million fewer people would have Medicaid coverage, and there would be an increase in the number of people with employment-based insurance that would partially offset those losses.

Republicans complained that they will pass an alternative plan, but no one is taking this seriously. Because they're not.

 

Meetings all day

All of these articles look interesting, and I hope I get to read them:

Oh, fun! Another meeting!

The rise and fall of Wrigleyville

Rolling Stone describes how Wrigleyville became Douchebag Central:

Chicagoans have strong feelings about Wrigleyville. While a local might have more nuanced thoughts on neighborhoods like Logan Square (gentrified, filled with hipsters, great places to eat) or Wicker Park (gentrified, filled with yuppies, great places to eat), say you're going to hang out near Wrigley Field, and you'll probably get a blank stare. You really go out of your way to visit there for two reasons: Cubs games and shows at the Metro, the area's long-running venue that has played host to everybody from Metallica in 1983 to Nirvana in 1989 and nearly every important Chicago band or artist from Ministry at the dawn of the city's burgeoning industrial music scene to Chance the Rapper in 2016. Joe Shanahan, who opened the venue in 1982, remembers a time when he needed to be escorted by security to his car after a late-night. Not so much because of the fans, but because it was a neighborhood in a big city in the 1980s. "It was scary," he says of his early days turning the former Swedish Community Center built in 1927. "But it was inexpensive."

But things change.

You know the story: people living on the fringe make the area seem attractive to people with money, the people with money move in and, soon to follow are the bars with 20 televisions all showing sports. Wrigleyville, already a strange neighborhood because of its cozy little ballpark and the cursed team that plays there, somehow seemed like a decent fit for a bunch of outcasts. It was normal to end up at the McDonald's across the street from the ballpark and see kids from whatever show let out ordering Big Macs alongside sloshed baseball fans. It was awkward, but both groups were strange in their own way: kids with the funky hairstyles and clothes, and the baseball fans that would cheer for a team that they know will only disappoint.

I'm not sure it's the most insightful view of how Wrigleyville has changed, but it's somewhat accurate.

Home sick

Here are some things that are occupying me while I figure out who delivers matzoh ball soup:

I also have a book or 50 somewhere. And I need a nap.

For reasons passing understanding...

"...people do not relate guns with gun crime."—The American President

And here in Chicago, where we lost more than one lawsuit over our attempts to get guns off the streets, we've had more murders this year than New York and Los Angeles combined. Thirteen people died this weekend alone:

Thirteen people were shot to death in Chicago over the Labor Day weekend as the city logged its 500th homicide of the year.

Thirty-one of the 65 people shot over the long weekend were wounded between 6 a.m. Monday and 3 a.m. Tuesday. Nine of the fatal shootings occurred over that period.

Early Monday morning, it appeared Chicago had a chance of ending a holiday weekend with fewer than four dozen people shot, which would have made it one of the least violent weekends of the summer.

The uptick in shootings in this weekend's final hours mirrored the end of the Fourth of July. Gunfire in the final hours of that holiday made up half the entire weekend's bloodshed.

Police attributed the 11th-hour surge to retaliatory acts, often involving gangs, after a weekend of parties and tense encounters.

Homicides in Chicago this year have risen to levels not seen since the 1990s, when killings peaked at more than 900 annually. The 90 homicides in August tied for the most the city had seen in a single month since June 1996. In the worst previous month — July 1993 — 99 people were slain.

And what is the police union doing right now? Bitching about how they don't want cops wearing cameras all the time, never mind that bad police shootings have cost the city almost half a billion dollars in the past decade, including $210 million since 2012.

Maybe if there were fewer guns? You know? Like in every other civilized country in the world?

Will this affect OINTB?

The Justice Department announced today that it's ending private prisons because, it turns out, they suck:

In making the decision, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates cited new findings by the Justice Department's inspector general, who concluded earlier this month that a pool of 14 privately contracted prisons reported more incidents of inmate contraband, higher rates of assaults and more uses of force than facilities run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

"They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and ... they do not maintain the same level of safety and security," Yates wrote in a memo Thursday.

Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, nonetheless said the Justice Department announcement represented a "major milestone in the movement away from mass incarceration."

"It has been a stain on our democracy to permit profit-making entities to be handed the responsibility of making determinations of individual liberty," Mauer said in a prepared statement. "Today's action moves us closer to a moment when government can once again assume this important responsibility."

I'm with Mauer. There are some things from which taking profits is simply immoral, and housing prisoners is one. Just watch the last season of Orange is the New Black for an only-slightly-exaggerated view.

This is one of those ways that President Obama is leaving the campsite better than he found it. Good.

NSA has a very bad week

Via Bruce Schneier, the NSA lost control of a crap-ton of hacking tools sometime before 2013, and managed to stop the bleeding only after discovering Edward Snowden's leak:

The exploits themselves appear to target Fortinet, Cisco, Shaanxi Networkcloud Information Technology (sxnc.com.cn) Firewalls, and similar network security systems. I will leave it to others to analyze the reliability, versions supported, and other details. But nothing I've found in either the exploits or elsewhere is newer than 2013.

Because of the sheer volume and quality, it is overwhelmingly likely that this data is authentic. And it does not appear to be information taken from compromised targets. Instead, the exploits, binaries with help strings, server configuration scripts, 5 separate versions of one implant framework, and all sort of other features indicate that this is analyst-side code—the kind that probably never leaves the NSA.

From an operational standpoint, this is not a catastrophic leak. Nothing here reveals some special "NSA magic." Instead, this is evidence of good craftsmanship in a widely modular framework designed for ease of use. The immediate consequence is probably a lot of hours of work down the drain.

But the big picture is a far scarier one. Somebody managed to steal 301 MB of data from a TS//SCI system at some point between 2013 and today. Possibly, even probably, it occurred in 2013. But the theft also could have occurred yesterday with a simple utility run to scrub all newer documents. Relying on the file timestamps—which are easy to modify—the most likely date of acquisition was June 11, 2013 (see Update, however). That is two weeks after Snowden fled to Hong Kong and six days after the first Guardian publication. That would make sense, since in the immediate response to the leaks, as the NSA furiously ran down possible sources, it may have accidentally or deliberately eliminated this adversary’s access.

So, yeah. The NSA had a bigger problem than Edward Snowden until he broadcast his leak and sent their plumbers into overdrive. And even then, they didn't properly secure the data.

What I'm reading (later today)

All for now.

Epic car chase through my neighborhood

Yesterday I mentioned in passing that Illinois State and Chicago police chased a murder suspect pretty much right past my apartment Wednesday night. Both local newspapers have updated stories today.

The Tribune has an interactive map and audio from the CPD.

The Sun-Times reports that one of my neighbors, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, wants to know (a) why the chase was a chase and (b) how the suspect got away:

“There’s a question there. At the end of the day, the [suspect in] the homicide in Lombard, driving through Chicago, I think, to the airport, still got away,” Emanuel said.

“One of the apartments that were hit was not far from where I live. So, there’s a real question. This always gets evaluated when there’s a police chase, which is about both getting and capturing a person who committed a violent crime and then, obviously, the risk to everybody else.”

Emanuel said he’s not about to “second-guess” Lombard police. But, he said, “There will be people that look at that.”

By "not far" he means two blocks away from his house. Here's the aftermath yesterday morning at Ashland and Berteau, complete with news truck: