U.S. Army fudged its accounts by trillions of dollars, auditor finds

From a year ago:

The Defense Department’s Inspector General, in a June report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up.
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Congress set a September 30, 2017 deadline for the department to be prepared to undergo an audit. The Army accounting problems raise doubts about whether it can meet the deadline – a black mark for Defense, as every other federal agency undergoes an audit annually. 
For years, the Inspector General – the Defense Department’s official auditor – has inserted a disclaimer on all military annual reports. The accounting is so unreliable that “the basic financial statements may have undetected misstatements that are both material and pervasive.”

Yet we're perennially asked to grant the Defense Department more money (and we already spend about as much as the rest of the world--combined!--on our military). Where does it go?

My “Nonviolent” Stance Was Met With Heavily Armed Men

Let me take a moment to be clear – I do not advocate for violence. I trust, however pig-headedly, that all of creation – including all people – is both capable and worthy of salvation. That there is no such thing as a lost cause with God. I cannot explain this trust; it is a part of me deeper than rational faculty. To commit violence against another human being is to commit violence against the image of God in them. To me, it is a sin. I do not believe God requires us to sin. But it seems apparent to me that the world sometimes does.
I never felt safer than when I was near antifa. They came to defend people, to put their bodies between these armed white supremacists and those of us who could not or would not fight. They protected a lot of people that day, including groups of clergy. My safety (and safety is relative in these situations) was dependent upon their willingness to commit violence. In effect, I outsourced the sin of my violence to them. I asked them to get their hands dirty so I could keep mine clean. Do you understand? They took that up for me, for the clergy they shielded, for those of us in danger. We cannot claim to be pacifists or nonviolent when our safety requires another to commit violence, and we ask for that safety.
And so I come to this – white liberal Christian friends, I’m talking to you. I’ve seen a lot of condemnation of “violent response,” lots of selective quoting Dr. King, lots of disparagement of antifa and the so-called “alt-left,” a moral equivalency from the depths of Hell if I ever saw one. You want to be nonviolent? That is good and noble. I think…I think I do, too. But I want you to understand what you’re asking of the people who take this necessary stance against white supremacy, the people who go to look evil in the face. You’re asking them to be beaten with brass knuckles, with bats, with fists. To be pounded into the ground, stomped on, and smashed. You’re asking them to bleed on the pavement and the grass. Some of them are going to die. And you’re asking them to do that without defending themselves.
Are you willing to do that? Are you going to to go out when the Nazis come here, to the Bay Area, next week? Are you going to offer your body to them? No? Are you willing to take a bat to the head? To be surrounded by angry young men who want nothing more than to beat you unconscious, like they did Deandre Harris? Are you going to rely upon a different type of violence – that imposed by the state – to protect you – even knowing it is a danger to your neighbors? To outsource the violence your safety requires to someone else? Or are you just not going to show up, at the rally or afterward? To choose passivity over pacifism – because let’s be clear, nonviolence is still about showing up.
If you are unwilling to risk your bodily integrity to stand against literal Nazis, but you are willing to criticize the people out there who are taking this grave threat seriously but not in a way of which you approve….I just don’t know what to say to you. Truly. Your moral authority is bankrupt and you’re not helping...

Equifax’s Maddening Unaccountability

Last week, Americans woke up to news of yet another mass breach of their personal data. The consumer credit reporting agency Equifax revealed that as many as 143 million Americans’ Social Security numbers, dates of birth, names and addresses may have been stolen from its files — just the kind of information that allows for identity theft and other cybercrimes.
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There are technical factors that explain why cybersecurity is so weak, but the underlying reason is political, and it’s pretty simple: Big corporations have poured large amounts of money into our political system, helping to create a regulatory environment in which consumers shoulder more and more of the risk, and companies less and less.
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No software system can be free from bugs (or intruders), and users must be mindful of the risks. But the inherent lack of perfect automotive safety doesn’t mean we don’t try to make cars safer. Obviously, people should drive more carefully, but seatbelts, airbags and better car design reduce injury enormously, and that has been great for the industry as well as consumers. The software industry should be no different.
Perhaps the most maddening part of the Equifax breach is that the credit-rating industry is itself unforgiving in its approach to even the smallest error. I’m still dealing with the damage to my credit rating that resulted when I forgot to return a library book and a collection agency was called in (for a paltry sum). The Equifax executives who let my data be stolen will probably suffer fewer consequences than I will for an overdue library book. Even if they do get fired, it is likely that they will be sent off with millions of dollars in severance, which is common practice for executives. (I would like to note that I am available for such punishment any time.)

Soul Snatchers: How the NYPD’s 42nd Precinct, the Bronx DA’s Office, and the City of New York Conspired to Destroy Black and Brown Lives (Part 1)

The NYPD operates by its own rules (as too often happens in our country), but its particular criminality is staggering. A handful of officers, from the tens of thousands employed by the city, have come out over the last few years, to expose the corruption. This should be one of the biggest stories of this country this year, if not decade. And yet...

Just three days after Donald Trump was inaugurated, New York City agreed to something that is so scandalous, so huge, that only the incoming presidency of Donald Trump could’ve outshined it. New York City agreed to pay $75 million (that’s $75,000,000) out in a police corruption case that should’ve rocked the city and the nation to its core. They likely chose that date and time on purpose. The case had been in litigation for years and years, but the city chose one of the most fragile, news heavy times in the history of modern American media to drop an absolute bomb. The city admitted that it was forced to dismiss over 900,000 arrests and summonses because they simply didn’t have the evidence to back them. These weren’t 900,000 stops that were made, but 900,000 legal actions accusing people of crimes that they did not commit. They were all bogus. Not 9,000. Not 90,000 — which seems like an outrageous number, but 900,000. Not only that, but the case actually had its very own deleted email scandal, where almost every single email Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly ever sent was deleted — never to be found again. Yeah, really.
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To understand the misconduct, brutality, forced pleas, false witnesses, and corruption that I am about to share, you must first understand the unjust system that police officers themselves have bravely identified as being the root source of it all — arrest quotas. Yes, racism and bigotry and white supremacy, conscious or otherwise, are all essential underlying problems with policing in America, but arrest quotas, or the departmental demand that each officer has a certain number of arrests, preferably with certain types of crimes, on the backs of certain types of people, are the vehicle that allows America’s worst instincts to wreck havoc on the lives of everyday people in New York. Gentrification has essentially pushed these horrible practices out of the eyesight of New York’s privileged class and the victory of Stop and Frisk being cut down gave the both city and the NYPD cover for something that is arguably far worse.

The systemic foundation of the next four parts of this series was not set by me, but by heroic, award-winning officers within the NYPD who believed with all of their heart that arrest quotas, imposed on everyday cops by their supervisors, were not only deeply unjust for the hundreds of thousands of New York City residents affected by these quotas who are frequently targeted and arrested without cause, but that the system is poisonous for officers themselves — actually breeding the worst instincts of racism, brutality, and corruption from the top down.

Showing the Algorithms Behind New York City Services

If the principles in Mr. Vacca’s bill become law, it could turn out be as important to public society in the city and around the country as the smoking ban signed into law by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2002.
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Governments also have access to oceans of data. Algorithms can decide where kids go to school, how often garbage is picked up, which police precincts get the most officers, where building code inspections should be targeted, and even what metrics are used to rate a teacher.
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At their most powerful, algorithms can decide an individual’s liberty, as when they are used by the criminal justice system to predict future criminality. ProPublica reporters examined the risk scores of 7,000 people assigned by a private company’s algorithm. The recidivism rankings were wrong about 40 percent of the time, with blacks more likely to be falsely rated as future criminals at almost twice the rate of whites, according to Julia Angwin, who led the investigation.
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Mr. Vacca said he is not claiming that algorithms used by the city are necessarily flawed by bias, but their power cannot be ignored. As a committee chairman, he plans to convene hearings before he leaves office in December.

The Science of Sex Differences: Still Under Construction

Having spent the last few years researching the science of sex differences, I have interviewed firsthand some of those whose work Damore cites. What is clear is that we know relatively little. What is also clear is that the evidence so far does not suggest that whatever small psychological sex differences there are between women and men can reliably explain the enormous gender inequalities we see in society. There are too many other factors at play, most of which have nothing to do with biology.
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It is dangerously easy to marry the small amounts of data we have about sex difference with our firmly rooted gender stereotypes. As sociologist Wolfe proved in his blistering review, studying humans is of no use if social, historical and cultural context is removed.

Immigrants Don't Drain Welfare. They Fund It.

Groups like The American Immigration Council have long argued that, contra conservative depictions of “moocher,” immigrants have long given more to the welfare system than they take from it. “In one estimate, immigrants earn about $240 billion a year, pay about $90 billion a year in taxes, and use about $5 billion in public benefits,” a 2010 report by the Council found. “In another cut of the data, immigrant tax payments total $20 to $30 billion more than the amount of government services they use.” And a report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2013 found that “more than half of undocumented immigrants have federal and state income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes automatically deducted from their paychecks.” Those immigrants are essentially helping to underwrite the welfare system, providing an enormous subsidy to it every year without being able to reap any of the benefits.
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...From construction sites in Virginia to farms along the California coastline, immigrants provide essential labor in an evolving economy. The Chamber of Commerce report found they are more than twice as likely as native-born Americans to start a new business each month. In fact, immigrants started 28 percent of all new businesses in the United States in 2011. Immigrants pay billions in taxes to the government every year; in Texas alone, they generate $1.6 billion annually in taxes. To deport millions en masse, sending them back to their home countries—to say nothing of Donald Trump’s proposal to uproot American citizens born here—would be economically disastrous.