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A depressing report from the folks at Reporters without Borders. It contains all the data undergirding the index, which lets you dig into the specifics. We are probably (Canadians and Americans) thinking we have nothing to envy in other nations, in terms of press freedom, but the methodology suggests no -- we don't even crack the top ten. The way I look at it is ... an open society cannot function without press/media freedom -- including full freedom to report without the need to 'obey government authorities.' The most striking case for me is that of Turkey. It has a few insane-seeming laws that are based on the old concept of lèse-majesté (roughly, this means 'wound/injury [of/to] majesty' from the Latin laesa majestas). In the Turkish system, any criticism of the President, the State, or Turkishness can be criminalized. As the RWB report indicates, this has the effect of making Erdogan the arbiter of what can and cannot be said about him, his policies, and the nation ... this is also the basis of the sad and disgusting extension of "terror" laws in Saudi Arabia, which nation is ... near the bottom of the index.
This is no longer a placeholder. Some 'on the record' wild guesses are already out -- notably our Bob Kolker -- so I too am going to publish a prediction/analysis, knowing full well I might be picking through bird bones on November 9. I think Donald Trump will lose the election on November 8th. I have some definite reasons why. I thought to post the reasons here, even if I am shown to be gawdawfully wrong later on. How 'off' will my analytic take be? Only time will tell. Reason? Reasons? Donald Trump lost because of the Republican Lady Vote, ultimately. He could have rallied a few more Latinos and African-Americans and other visible minorities to his base within his party's grasp, but that wouldn't have mattered as much as a seizing and a hold on Educated Lady votes. That is the main reason he lost, looking back at me from the crystal ball. Ladies. By state, he didn't capture the ladies of the Philadelphia suburbs, which cost him. He failed to capture the urban-suburban college-educated lady vote in Ohio and lost more crucial electoral votes. He failed to capture the conservative educated ladies in Florida in enough numbers to beat Romney's showing in 2012 He failed with the ladies of Utah. He failed with the ladies of North Carolina. He didn't get the crucial lady vote in states he needed. There may be nuance, and other subsidiary reasons rooted in Mr Trump's behaviour and the challenges every Republican faces in terms of hostile and adversarial media. There may be ground-game reasons, money reasons, biases galore, party mutiny and backstabbiness, ghost-voting, sinister plots and precinct rigginess beyond the pale, but when the totals were officially-certified in places Trump had to dominate to be the Winner, he fell short with the ladies ... -- with my Red Hat on, my reasons all turn on treason, or behaviour just-shy-of treasonous, by a panoply of bought and paid for agents against democracy. Not with a centre anywhere in particular, no grand plot, just a functional-structural bias on every dimension against Mr Trump. In the whole landscape of media small and large and fringe and newsworthy in themselves, it was ultimately Bannon and Trump against the world's sleaziest big-audience manipulators. That built-in structural disadvantage was key. Allied structural impediments were important but secondary and amplified by his own party's elite class, whether in the party itself or in positions of prominence and power in Wall Street and Washington. That covers treasonous, bought, biased and elite party elders and candidates. Where were they when he needed them? Those factors 'conspired' in a sense to depress turnout among previously likely voters. The ticket-splitters and the stay-homers of the GOP great coalition of voters gave Hillary Clinton an extra advantage that was totally undeserved, a side-effect of elite 'treason' against the candidate. Finally, with Red Hat still firmly on, Trump lost because of loathing, not rational fear, not reason. The supine media and the fractured, corrupt party, and the 'got' functionaries of Clinton Inc put a false mark upon him and triggered an hysterical emotional reaction. They stoked phobia, hatred and division, and blamed Trump.They stoked loathing of the man and excused their complicity in feeding the hate.
French siege suicide bomber's HEAD flew onto the street when she blew herself up! [Daily Mail] A police source told Agence France-Presse the cousin, Hasna Aitboulahcen, did not blow herself up, as was previously reported. [Fox News] French authorities said on Friday that they had discovered a third body in the wreckage of an apartment after the police raid ... not yet been identified, said Agnès Thibault-Lecuivre, a spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor. Officials on Friday backed away from their initial theory that Ms. Aitboulahcen had detonated a suicide vest during the raid, saying that it was the third person in the apartment who did. [NY Times] Security services struggle to decrypt communication via Sony’s PlayStation 4 [Politico] "These guys are communicating via these encrypted apps, which is very difficult, if not impossible for governments to break." [former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell on CBS Face The Nation] Hours after the attacks in Paris, Forbes quickly pointed to remarks by a Belgian official who said that Islamic State militants use the PlayStation 4's chat functions as a way to communicate securely. The article also mentioned that a Sony PlayStation 4 was recovered in a police raid connected to the Paris investigation. That report was later undermined by the real facts, that no PlayStation 4 had been collected... [Washington's Blog] News emerging from Paris — as well as evidence from a Belgian ISIS raid in January — suggests that the ISIS terror networks involved were communicating in the clear, and that the data on their smartphones was not encrypted. [Tech Dirt] and just for fun “There’s a whole conservative world out there that’s not very nice.” [inge-Lise Ameer, vice provost, Dartmouth] A 2003 Australian study found that that the rate of mental illness in academic staff was three to four times higher than the general population, according to a New Scientist article. The same article notes that the percentage of academics with mental illness in the United Kingdom has been estimated at 53%. [Quartz]