Forging Voice

We are moving toward a world where privacy may not exist, and security will be incredibly difficult. More of us need to be involved in the debate on how technology may be changing society, and what we should do about it. Bruce Schneier, quoted in full:

LyreBird is a system that can accurately reproduce the voice of someone, given a large amount of sample inputs. It's pretty good -- listen to the demo here -- and will only get better over time.
The applications for recorded-voice forgeries are obvious, but I think the larger security risk will be real-time forgery. Imagine the social engineering implications of an attacker on the telephone being able to impersonate someone the victim knows.
I don't think we're ready for this. We use people's voices to authenticate them all the time, in all sorts of different ways.

Opinion | Facebook could tell us how Russia interfered in our elections. Why won’t it?

We've always been subject to propaganda from state and private powers, but now it's faster, in some ways more subtle... and potentially easier to study and counteract, because of the kinds and amount of data which big social networking companies now own. The author argues for Facebook to become more involved in countering other countries' interference, which is an admirable goal, though difficult to see how that might work for a company which wants to be friendly with every country in the world.

And it raises another issue we should all be watching very carefully: every change Facebook makes to what we see in our feeds significantly impacts what our society talks about. In fact, Facebook's released studies of how it can change people's moods. So what's Facebook's (and other social networks') responsibilities to the rest of society, and how do we ensure they're not abusing their power?

Democrats are falling for fake news about Russia

Be skeptical of everything, especially when it closely aligns with your biases. If you have the time, do a little digging.

President Donald Trump is about to resign as a result of the Russia scandal. Bernie Sandersand Sean Hannity are Russian agents. The Russians have paid off House Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz to the tune of $10 million, using Trump as a go-between. Paul Ryan is a traitorfor refusing to investigate Trump’s Russia ties. Libertarian heroine Ayn Rand was a secret Russian agent charged with discrediting the American conservative movement.
These are all claims you can find made on a new and growing sector of the internet that functions as a fake news bubble for liberals, something I’ve dubbed the Russiasphere. The mirror image of Breitbart and InfoWars on the right, it focuses nearly exclusively on real and imagined connections between Trump and Russia. The tone is breathless: full of unnamed intelligence sources, certainty that Trump will soon be imprisoned, and fever dream factual assertions that no reputable media outlet has managed to confirm.
The fear is that this pollutes the party itself, derailing and discrediting the legitimate investigation into Russia investigation. It also risks degrading the Democratic Party — helping elevate shameless hucksters who know nothing about policy but are willing to spread misinformation in the service of gaining power. We’ve already seen this story play out on the right, a story that ended in Trump’s election.
“One of the failures of the Republican Party is the way they let the birther movement metastasize — and that ultimately helped Donald Trump make it to the White House,” says Brendan Nyhan, a professor at Dartmouth who studies the spread of false political beliefs. “We should worry about kind of pattern being repeated.”
There are, of course, legitimate issues relating to Trump’s ties to Russia — I’ve written about them personally over and over again. There are even legitimate reasons to believe that Trump’s campaign worked with Russian hackers to undermine Hillary Clinton. That may or may not turn out to be true, but it is least plausible and somewhat supported by the available evidence.
The Russiasphere’s assertions go way beyond that...

The Nazis as students of America’s worst racial atrocities

Fascinating look at how brutal, extreme racist laws in the US at the turn of last century (in many instances unlike anything else in the rest of the world at the time) were used as examples and legal precedent by Hitler and the Nazis in order to justify their own crimes. Jim Crow and the Holocaust are not equally horrific, but it's just as morally suspect to ignore the atrocities the US committed in the past, or the effects those have had since.

When Adolf Hitler seized control of Germany in 1933, one of his priorities was to create a legal framework for his vision of an anti-Semitic state. Thus began a meticulous Nazi research project on race-based lawmaking aimed at erasing the rights of Germany’s Jews.
As they drafted their own laws to exclude German Jews from public and civic life, Nazi lawyers carefully studied how the United States suppressed nonwhite immigrants and consigned minorities to second-class citizenship. In private hearings, they discussed how the U.S. model for white supremacy in the Jim Crow South could be transposed to Germany and inflicted on the Jews.
The Nazis were keenly influenced by America’s laws forbidding interracial marriage. Dozens of states not only banned black-white unions but subjected violators to lengthy jail sentences. The harsh criminalization of mixed-race marriages in America set an example for the Nazis as they created their Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour, which forbade German Jews from marrying non-Jews, invalidated existing mixed marriages and sent offenders to prison labor camps...

Just What The Middle East Needs — $110 Billion More In Weapons

This weekend, President Trump will unveil a proposed mammoth arms sale to Saudi Arabia. The pro-Gulf foreign policy establishment in the United States and the Middle East will cheer it as an investment in a new security arrangement for our Sunni partners in the Middle East to combat extremism and fight against Iranian expansion. It was negotiated by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who has zero experience in foreign relations generally, or Saudi arms sales specifically. It appears the Trump administration is counting on the country with the worst human rights record in the region to enforce peace and security in the Middle East.
The arms sale is a terrible idea, and I want you to know why.
First, let’s look at what’s going to happen with these weapons. Piled on top of this enormous arms lot are precision-guided munitions that President Obama would not sell the Saudis. That’s not because the Obama folks didn’t like selling weapons to the Saudis — Obama sold more weapons and gear to Saudi Arabia in eight years than all other previous administrations combined. No, Obama withheld precision-guided munitions because the Saudis were using U.S.-provided munitions to repeatedly target civilian and humanitarian sites in their bombing campaign inside Yemen, despite regular protests from the United States. Thousands of civilians inside Yemen have been killed during the civil war, many by the Saudi-led coalition, and today, the country is on the brink of famine in part because the Saudis have intentionally destroyed transit hubs and key bridges, and blocked the delivery of humanitarian aid into Yemen. As we speak, millions of Yemenis are being radicalized against the country they blame for the civilian deaths: the United States. By selling the Saudis these precision-guided weapons more  not fewer  civilians will be killed because it is Saudi Arabia’s strategy to starve Yemenis to death to increase their own leverage at the negotiating table. They couldn’t do this without the weapons we are selling them...

More Than 300,000 Children Are Migrating Alone Worldwide

Authorities have documented more than 300,000 children migrating alone worldwide over a two-year period, marking a dramatic escalation of a trend that has forced many young refugees into slavery and prostitution, the U.N. children's agency said Wednesday.

Opinion | Trump is totally delusional about what’s happening to him right now

Trump's management style in a nutshell:

Trump unleashed two tweets Thursday morning responding to the news of the appointment, which was made by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein after days of deafening criticism. Trump claimed: “With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel [sic, or perhaps more appropriately, sick] appointed!” He then added: “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!”
Separately, The Post reports that Trump is raging at his staff for failing to mitigate his “stumbles.” Why? Because “Trump largely thinks that his recent mishaps are not substantive but simply errors of branding and public relations, according to people close to him and the White House.”
But, despite Trump’s suggestion that he is being victimized by a witch hunt, and that a more adept PR strategy could minimize the damage, this is a situation entirely of Trump’s own making. And each of Trump’s actions leading up to this moment are rooted deep in Trump’s autocratic and authoritarian impulses; his total contempt for basic institutional processes; and his tendency, when his sense of grievance strikes, to slip into a delusional belief that he can overwhelm the institutional independence of his persecutors the way he might steamroll someone in a business deal...

How the Impeachment Process Works


The Constitution permits Congress to remove presidents before their term is up if enough lawmakers vote to say that they committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Only three presidents have been subjected to impeachment proceedings. Two were impeached but acquitted and stayed in office: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 and 1999. A third, Richard M. Nixon in 1974, resigned to avoid being impeached...

First, the House of Representatives votes on one or more articles of impeachment. If at least one gets a majority vote, the president is impeached — which essentially means being indicted. (In both the Nixon and the Clinton cases, the House Judiciary Committee considered the matter first.)
Next, the proceedings move to the Senate, which holds a trial overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Court.
A team of lawmakers from the House, known as managers, play the role of prosecutors. The president has defense lawyers, and the Senate serves as the jury.
If at least two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed, and the vice president takes over as president.