Monday, August 31, 2015

On the Borders of Another September 11th

"Marcy Borders, at 42; survivor in iconic image of Sept. 11" Associated Press 

Boston Globe Fun & Games

"Pokémon game lures all ages; Families embrace a lifestyle on old-school game’s circuit" by Mark Arsenault Globe Staff  August 31, 2015

NEW BEDFORD — Players’ parents were still buzzing over a possible plot against the recent Pokémon World Championships at the Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in Boston. Two Iowa men who had made online threats against conventiongoers were arrested in Massachusetts, and weapons were found in their car. They face a dangerousness hearing Tuesday.

See: Pathetic Pokemon Psyop

The arrests raised questions, not the least of which is: What the heck is the Pokémon World Championships?


For those outside the lifestyle, the Poképalooza in Boston 10 days ago probably would have passed without notice, if not for the two tournament invitees from Iowa, who allegedly made threats over the Web, and then drove 1,300 miles to the Back Bay with an AR-15 rifle, 12-gauge shotgun, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in their trunk. An online moderator flagged the Web postings, and the men, James Stumbo, 27, and Kevin Norton, 18, were ultimately arrested on gun charges at their hotel in Saugus. Both are accomplished players of the game, which is also played by adults.

Police don’t know what the men intended to do with their arsenal of real-life weapons but suggest the arrests may have prevented a mass shooting.

The irony, Pokémon experts say, is that the game is intentionally light on violent language and imagery, to make it friendly for young children.

“It’s always based on putting the other character to sleep or making them confused,” said John Thorne, co-owner of The Wizards Duel, a Brockton gaming shop that hosts Pokémon league play. “While other games say things like ‘kill the creature,’ in Pokémon, when the creature is gone, it’s just knocked out of the game.”

The game itself resists easy explanation. Experts talking about it sound like elves speaking in tongues....


"‘Straight Outta Compton’ tops box office for 3d week" by Jake Coyle Associated Press  August 31, 2015

NEW YORK — The Christian drama ‘‘War Room’’ made a surprise bid for the box-office lead, Zac Efron’s music drama ‘‘We Are Your Friends’’ bombed spectacularly, and the N.W.A biopic ‘‘Straight Outta Compton’’ kept chugging along.

Universal’s ‘‘Straight Outta Compton’’ topped the box office for the third straight week with $13.2 million at North American theaters over the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. The film, which has now made $134.1 million in total, has continued to dominate August moviegoing. It joins ‘‘Jurassic World’’ as the only movies to lead the box office three consecutive weeks this summer.

Related: Parking the Theme of the Day

The late August weekend held scant competition for ‘‘Straight Outta Compton,’’ but ‘‘War Room’’ nearly matched it. The Sony TriStar release took in $11 million by appealing to faith-based audiences, an often powerful but underserved demographic at the multiplex. ‘‘War Room’’ is about an African-American family who perseveres through prayer.

‘‘We knew that we were going to get a lot of love, we just didn’t expect quite this much love,’’ said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony. ‘‘This is a genre that we’re very much committed to.’’

The film, directed by Alex Kendrick, is the highest opening yet for Affirm Films, a production company that has had previous success with low-budget films that pull in Christian audiences through grassroots marketing.

So the success of ‘‘War Room’’ wasn’t overly surprising. Faith-based films have regularly performed well at the box office.

But the thoroughness of the flop of ‘‘We Are Your Friends’’ was unusual. The Efron-led film opened with just $1.8 million on 2,333 screens. That makes it one of the lowest weekend openings ever for a film that played so widely.

‘‘August can be a land of opportunity or it can be your worst nightmare,’’ said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office firm Rentrak.

Whereas ‘‘We Are Your Friends’’ got lost in the shuffle of a traditionally quiet period for the movie business, Dergarabedian said, ‘‘War Room’’ used its late-summer, little-competition release date to its advantage. ‘‘War Room,’’ Dergarabedian said, further proves the box-office strength of faith-based moviegoers: ‘‘They are looking for content. If you build it, they will come.’’

‘‘No Escape,’’ the Thailand thriller starring Owen Wilson and Lake Bell, opened with $8.3 million for the Weinstein Co.

In its fifth weekend, Paramount’s ‘‘Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation’’ earned $8.3 million to bring its North American total to $170.4 million.

With another low-key weekend looming over Labor Day, Hollywood’s summer is slowing to a crawl. Overall business on the weekend was down 21.4 percent from last year, according to Rentrak.


Stop making shit and maybe things would improve.


Be sure to snap a selfie:

From left: Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, and actress Serayah McNeill on the MTV Video Awards red carpet.
From left: Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, and actress Serayah McNeill on the MTV Video Awards red carpet (Danny Moloshok/Reuters)

Related: Name Droppings: Swiftly Speaking

Also see:

Daniel Craig credits Mark Wahlberg for hangover cure
‘Ghostbusters’ to film in South Weymouth
‘Django Unchained’ actress gets community service
Name-Droppings: Called on the Carpet
Name Droppings: Going Gaga
Name Droppings: Jenner Bender

I've got a game of my own to play tonight.

End of Summer Exam

You might want to review these notes first:

Summer School Lesson
Summer Semester
Summer School Courses

I'll let you readers grade it. Time for final instructions.

"Boston struggles to diversify teaching ranks; Wave of retirements thinning ranks of black educators" by Jeremy C. Fox Globe Staff  August 24, 2015

Boston’s public school system is struggling — and failing — to satisfy a federal mandate to diversify its ranks of teachers, a requirement made all the more difficult as a generation of the city’s black educators retires.

Even amid ongoing efforts to diversify, the district is falling short of US District Judge Arthur Garrity’s 1985 court order requiring 25 percent black and 10 percent “other minority” teachers, part of Garrity’s historic school desegregation plan.

The district meets Garrity’s standard for Hispanic and Asian teachers, but just 22.7 percent of last year’s Boston Public Schools teachers were black, according to state data.

Many of the city’s black teachers were hired in the 1970s and 1980s, following orders from Garrity, and have reached retirement age. Last year, 73 percent more black teachers left Boston schools than could be replaced with external hires, according to the district, and high levels of retirement are expected to continue.

The district could have foreseen the retirements and acted sooner, said Travis J. Bristol, a research and policy fellow at the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education who has studied diversity in Boston schools.

“Until there is a crisis, there isn’t a need to address the issue,” he said. “I don’t think that’s true only of Boston; I just think it’s true of large bureaucracies.”

It is not uncommon for schools to “operate in crisis mode,” he said.

The district’s new superintendent, Tommy Chang, has pledged to build a workforce that looks more like Boston’s students, who are 86 percent black, Hispanic, and Asian.



The effort began to bear fruit in early hiring this year. Nearly a quarter of the new teachers hired between March and Aug. 13 were black, despite a pool that included only 8 percent black applicants.

And the district is seeing early success in recruiting Boston high school students to pursue education careers: 47 percent of participants in its High School to Teacher Program are black and 39 percent are Latino.

School officials say they are ramping up diversity efforts through the Office of Human Capital, created last year by consolidating the offices of Human Resources and Educator Effectiveness.

The office is now posting teaching jobs as early as March — when a diverse candidate pool is available — through an early hiring initiative begun last year under then-interim Superintendent John McDonough.

“You’re competing for the best talent, rather than what we used to do, which was in August kind of look for who’s still out there,” said Emily Kalejs Qazilbash, assistant superintendent of human capital.

Brenda Chaney, a Boston teacher who retired this summer, said BPS must cast a wider net nationally, particularly at historically black colleges, and work against the perception that Boston is racist, another holdover of the desegregation crisis.

Michael Contompasis, a former Boston interim schools superintendent, said the department has long been committed to diversity, but fewer black and Hispanic students are drawn to teaching as more lucrative fields have become welcoming.

RelatedBoston business schools struggle to counter low black representation, inclusion

“The State Streets of the world, the BNY Mellons of the world — everybody is looking to make certain that they are attracting a diverse workforce,” Contompasis said.


It's service to banks that is at the bottom of every AmeriKan in$titution!

Already, Boston’s 22.7 percent for the last school year gave it the highest proportion of black teachers in the state. Second was Cambridge, with 7.9 percent, about 4 percent lower than that city’s black population.

Of 1,600 black teachers statewide, about 835 — more than half — worked in Boston.

Nationally, 6.8 percent of US public school teachers were black and 7.8 percent were Hispanic in 2011-2012, according to federal data.

These numbers reflect a shortage of minority students entering teaching programs, educators say.

Some universities are attempting to address the disparity....

I'll give you one gue$$ who.


Related:  Boston schools pledge smooth start despite wait-list woes

Assuming the kids can even get to class.

Maybe you should cheer on the charter schools then.

Your first question:

"Event notes Boston’s history of slavery" by Jennifer Smith Globe Correspondent  August 23, 2015

While Boston prominently advertises its revolutionary and abolitionist history, the city’s role as a slave port is rarely remarked upon; but it was to mark that ignominy that hundreds gathered in Faneuil Hall on Sunday.

Not much has changed, really. 

The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews

Jewish Involvement in Black Slave Trade to the Americas

But it's rarely remarked upon.

The ceremony marked the first International Day of Remembrance of the Middle Passage and its Abolition. About 500,000 enslaved Africans, a quarter of whom were children, were transported to the Colonies and later the United States, many chained below-decks for the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, called the Middle Passage.

“We need to celebrate our abolitionist history,” said Beverly Morgan-Welch, executive director of the Museum of African American History. “And you know, in Boston people think slavery happened somewhere else, but it started here.”

Slaves were first recorded in Boston in 1638. The city functioned as a Middle Passage port city, into which slaves were delivered and sold.

“The descendants of Africa were the economic engine of this country,” Morgan-Welch said to the assembled crowd.

She added later that the biggest issue with acknowledging Boston’s history on the topic is that “it is a story so violent, so despicable, so horrific, and so quintessentially American.” It suffers from the paradox of a liberal city engaged in a reprehensible business, and as a result, the story is often ignored entirely in favor of an abolitionist narrative.

It's that strain of Yankee superiority that I was raised with my whole life.

Speeches and prayers were interspersed with the sound of crashing waves, referencing the ocean passage in the historic great hall. Some participants were clad in bright African garb and played a series of drums and chimes.

That the ceremony took place in Faneuil Hall was not without irony, pointed out Superintendent Michael Creasey with the National Park Service, as Peter Faneuil benefited from family participation in the slave trade.

Speaking at the ceremony were representatives of several faith communities and government groups. All addressed the historical legacy of slavery directly and without euphemism.

“It was part of the fabric of late Colonial life of Boston,” Creasey said, referencing a description of slave-owning Bostonians who asserted they would rather be burned in their beds than give up their slaves.

“We are not able to erase the past,” said minister Olivia Dubose.

Now take down that Confederate flag.

But they can face it as a multiracial, multigenerational, and multireligious community, speakers said. The realities of the trade were ugly, as the life of a northern slave was one of toil in factories and homes, being forced to lay down their freedom for their masters’ freedom to attend college and build magnificent homes, Morgan-Welch said.

“This is an issue for us as human beings,” said Ann Chinn, the founder of the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project. She said having conversations about New England slavery was opening the door to reclaiming a truer narrative of their histories.

“Our ancestors are our angels, our saints, and they’ve been waiting to fill this role,” she said.

I didn't have anything to do with it.

Speakers pointed out that while the Northeast does boast a strong abolitionist leadership, such as Frederick Douglass, captive Africans utilized escapes, petitions, military service, social action, and organized protests to resist slavery.

In 1832, the New England Antislavery Society was formed by a free black community in the African Meeting House on Beacon Hill, growing into a national movement.

Following a court case in 1783, in which an American slave sued for his freedom, a Massachusetts Supreme Court justice determined that “the idea of slavery is inconsistent with our own conduct and [the Commonwealth’s] Constitution.” The decision abolished slavery in the state.

Late in the ceremony, libations were offered for those who lost their lives on the voyages; those who made the migration willingly, only to be enslaved; and the young black residents of the country who are persecuted for their skin color, said Anthony Menelik Van Der Meer. After each libation, those assembled chorused a prayer and “black lives still matter.”

Don't all lives matter?

The event closed as it opened: a boisterous drum line through the clapping and dancing audience.

Representative Byron Rushing said it is vital to have regular places and times to talk about slavery or the slave trade.

Why? We care here now.

Slavery in the United States, he said, lasted 246 years. It will not be until 2111 that people of African descent will have been free in the country as long as they were enslaved, he said. He said Bostonians, particularly those of African descent, need the chance to recall an inconvenient history long shunted to the side.

So they can cry victimhood constantly like another tribe?

“Everybody here knows that there were abolitionists, but they don’t have a clue what they were trying to abolish,” he said.

Southern Independence is what it was, under the mask of morality when northerners and blacks still had slaves.


RelatedBuilders in Boston missing diversity targets for jobs

It's not racism, it's sexism, because women being shorted the most (because there aren't that many to begin with?).

I don't think I did too well on that part.

After graduation:

"Sunday afternoon, more than 800 first-year Brandeis University students moved into their freshman residence halls, marking the unofficial end of summer and the beginning of Boston’s transformation back into collegiate central."


"Move-in week commotion expected in Boston; Local businesses and city officials gear up for the annual invasion of college students" by Catherine Cloutier and Matt Rocheleau Globe Staff  August 29, 2015

City officials vow that the move-in process will run more smoothly this year than in the past. The city has been working with landlords and universities to stagger the moving chaos through Labor Day.

For Boston businesses, the flurry of activity offers opportunity, as last-minute shoppers flock to local stores in search of home essentials, packing supplies, and spicy nourishment for those who lent a hand.

Top selling items hint at a plugged-in generation: power strips, extension cords, and HDMI cables. Cleaning supplies, shower curtains, clothes hangers, toilet seats, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and paint are also big sellers.

In Allston, Alex Salerno, assistant manager at a Domino’s, said his shop was expecting to dish out twice as many pizzas — between 400 and 500 — to hungry movers on Tuesday as students flock back to town.

“All the students come back,” said Salerno. “And students love pizza.”

Boston’s annual move-in week, which will reach its crescendo Monday and Tuesday, will see thousands of students and others moving into — and out of — apartments in the city....


They “try to make it fun and an enjoyable experience instead of a day of misery.”

Ready to settled down for the night in your new slum?

"Housing inspectors sweep through student enclaves; Buildings checked for code violations" by Milton J. Valencia and Jan Ransom Globe Staff  August 30, 2015

The goal of the annual blitz, city officials said, is for inspectors to interact with new students and residents and offer services, to make sure the moving-in process is smooth and trash-free, and that housing — particularly off-campus housing for students — is safe and up to code.

It's not.

But some are skeptical of the mass inspections, which typically occur at the start of each school year and can appear more symbolic than strategic. The critics say more inspections — and citations of properties that violate city rules — are needed.

That's why I'm getting public relations with a big smile from the Globe regarding the tone of these articles. Welcome to Bo$ton, kids!

Les Christos, a 30-year-housing inspector constable, began to check the windows, and their locks, and noticed a broken sash cord. A stain in the ceiling. Then he noticed there was no stove. The tenants told him they haven’t had one for two months, and that the building manager had told them cooking is overrated.

Besides, it might start a fire.

Such oversight has taken on new importance following concerns that students were living in dilapidated units. A Boston Globe Spotlight investigation in 2014 found that the city’s college neighborhoods were riddled with dangerously overcrowded units that went unnoticed, leading to public safety problems. Landlords, meanwhile, had ignored violations so that they could continue to collect rent with little investment....

“This is a fall ritual, where a lot of residents live is substandard housing,” and I'm told the tenants are to blame.


RelatedOvercrowded student housing gets little action from City of Boston

Hey, some live like Kings, but those are the breaks.

"No charges in 2013 fire that killed Boston University student; Critics see little change in off-campus housing conditions" by Todd Wallack, Jenn Abelson and Jonathan Saltzman Globe Staff  August 22, 2015

Prosecutors have decided not to bring criminal charges against the woman who owned the Allston house where a Boston University student died in a fire in 2013, trapped in an illegal upstairs apartment.

Although the landlord, Anna Belokurova, had been cited for housing violations over the years, the Suffolk district attorney’s office concluded none of them were directly related to the death of Binland Lee, a 22-year-old marine science major.

“The code violations did not contribute to the fire or the death caused by the fire,” said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the DA’s office, which launched an investigation shortly after Lee’s death on April 28, 2013.

Critics say the decision represents a broader pattern of reluctance by many local institutions to hold landlords accountable fordangerous housing conditions, despite promises by some officials to take action after a Globe Spotlight Team report on shoddy off-campus student housing last year.

“There is a complete system breakdown,” said Carol Ridge-Martinez, executive director of the Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation, adding that students and low-income renters are particularly vulnerable. “It is disappointing that protecting our residents is not our top priority.”

Belokurova’s attorney denied there were any housing violations at the property, and insisted she had no role in the fatal fire. He blamed it on improperly handled smoking materials.

In a separate case, law enforcement officials also never charged the owners of another overcrowded Allston house on the same street that went up in flames in 2012, forcing a BU student to jump from a third-floor window to escape. The 19-year-old student survived, but was in a coma for two weeks, spent three months recuperating in a hospital, and later suffered double vision and balance problems related to his brain injury.

Separately, Northeastern University officials said they plan to continue doing business with one of the most notorious landlords of college students in the city, Anwar N. Faisal, despite opening a new dormitory with 720 beds early this year. And Boston officials are still mulling how to strengthen the city’s rental housing ordinance, months after Mayor Martin J. Walsh promised to make such a proposal to the City Council.

The Globe Spotlight report last year found that illegal apartments riddle the city’s college neighborhoods, including many in violation of a city zoning ordinance barring more than four full-time undergraduates from sharing a home. Students often report squalid conditions in units, but universities have not built enough new housing to keep up with surging enrollments.

Over the past decade, Northeastern has paid millions to Faisal to lease buildings for use as university dorms while referring other students to private apartments owned by Faisal through an online directory of off-campus housing.

Faisal has received hundreds of tickets for violating city housing codes, and been the target of dozens of lawsuits or criminal complaints in Boston Housing Court. Faisal told the City Council last year that he has stepped up maintenance at the 1,000 apartments he owns in Boston to address complaints.

“Mr. Faisal has proven to be a responsible landlord in the city of Boston and beyond,” his attorney, Joshua Krefetz, told the Globe this week. “He has and will continue to cooperate with the city.”

The Globe went after him -- he's Palestinian -- and some Iranians.

Michael Armini, a Northeastern spokesman, said an outside consulting firm reviewed all of the buildings the university leases from private landlords to use as dorms, including those owned by Faisal, and found no problems other than routine maintenance issues that the college has since addressed.

Armini added that there was “nothing in the report that would have warranted changing the university’s business relationships.’’

Meanwhile, Boston has put off plans to bolster its housing ordinances to help rein in abuses until this fall at the earliest.

Meaning nothing has changed.

In May, Walsh told the Globe that he planned to submit a proposal within two weeks to give inspectors more power to examine overcrowded units (in most cases, inspectors currently need permission from tenants to enter) and make sure landlords who flout the rules are fined.

But three months later, his office said the administration is still meeting with City Council members on how to update the rental housing ordinance.

“It is imperative that we have a policy that works, and the mayor hopes to have a more enforceable ordinance by the fall,” said spokeswoman Bonnie McGilpin.

Boston prosecutors and criminal lawyers said it’s difficult to bring significant criminal charges against landlords after a deadly fire, even in a building with major safety problems.

“These cases are difficult because proving them requires evidence of intentional or reckless conduct, and not just proof that mistakes were made or a person skirted regulations or acted carelessly,” said David Losier, a former Middlesex assistant district attorney who now works at a Boston law firm, Burns & Levinson LLP.

However, there has been at least one recent exception. Several Quincy landlords were convicted of manslaughter after the 2009 deaths of an Iraqi immigrant and his two young sons in a fire in an illegal apartment. Investigators found the smoke detectors were not working and the building had illegal units without the mandatory second exit for use in case of a fire. Former tenants and officials also testified that they had warned the landlords that the problems created a safety hazard.

The Allston building where Lee died also had a history of problems. The Linden Street house, which listed six bedrooms in building plans, actually had 12 bedrooms housing 14 residents, including three in basement spaces that city inspectors had cited as illegal in 2001. After the fatal fire in 2013, city inspectors also cited the owner for running an illegal rooming house and lacking permits for the bedrooms in the basement.

Great $y$tem we have, huh? 


Wark, the spokesman for the Suffolk DA’s office, said it’s not clear that having the additional exit would have helped Lee escape because she was trapped in a third-floor bedroom.

“Was there a reckless act or a failure to act that contributed to Ms. Lee’s death? Because she never made it to the second floor — where the egress could have been a live issue — we could not prove that there was,” Wark said.

He said Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley supports legislation that would subject landlords to fines and prison time for renting out dangerous, illegal apartments. The bill, sponsored by Representative James E. Timilty, a Walpole Democrat, is before the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security.

Lee’s family is continuing to press ahead with a civil lawsuit, in which the family has to prove only that the landlord was negligent to potentially obtain monetary damages.

“Whatever decisions the district attorney made in connection with a potential criminal prosecution of Miss Belokurova has nothing to do with the type of proof required to prevail in a civil action,” said Albert L. Farrah Jr., the family’s attorney.

Belokurova’s attorney denied there were any housing violations at the property, and suggested the city’s rule limiting the number of students who could live together would not withstand a court challenge. He also said the fire was caused by the careless disposal of smoking materials, not problems with the building itself.

“The history of problems you cite are fiction,” said Boston real estate lawyer Frank L. Fragomeni Jr. “Anna is also confident that any civil action will also find her to have had no role in the fire and the tragic death of Binland Lee.”


And that is not include the tuition and fee hikes that can really tax you.

Too bad you couldn't find a place like this:

"Huge NorthPoint project advances with $300m deal; 42-acre site bought; plan has housing, offices, labs" by Tim Logan Globe Staff  August 20, 2015

One of the largest remaining parcels of open land near downtown Boston sold Thursday, jump-starting plans for the long-awaited development of office buildings, lab space, and nearly 3,000 apartments.

The 42-acre NorthPoint site, on an old rail yard between the Museum of Science and Interstate 93, is being bought by a San Francisco-area real estate firm, DivcoWest, that specializes in tech-oriented neighborhoods and sees the chance to build one from the ground up in red-hot East Cambridge.

Is the bubble about to burst?

DivcoWest would not say how much it paid for the property, which has been owned since 2010 by an investment fund co-owned by former basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson. But a person familiar with the sale said the price tag was roughly $300 million, which would put it among the most expensive land deals in Greater Boston in recent years.

The site is a rare prize, a large swath of undeveloped land close to the heart of the city and already approved for 4.5 million square feet of building. It offers much of the same potential that Boston officials see at Widett Circle on the other side of downtown, without the daunting infrastructure challenges. And it comes as demand for office space and housing is boiling over in both Kendall Square and central Boston....


Did you see the rent?

Maybe you would be better off renting a room:

"Lawmakers worry owners taking advantage of Airbnb; Short-term rentals may get rules, taxes" by Matt Rocheleau Globe Staff  August 24, 2015

Concerns that the online rental website Airbnb is being used to run substantial lodging businesses while avoiding regulation and taxes.

Another concern: that landlords and investors seeking more profits are turning traditional housing into short-term units, further reducing the housing supply in Boston’s already tight real estate market.

“Right now, this is a completely unregulated industry,” said state Representative Aaron Michlewitz. “People are taking advantage of the situation.”

An Airbnb spokesman said the company is not opposed to some regulation and taxation.

“We want cities to regulate Airbnb and make it easier for regular people to share their home, pay their bills and contribute to their community,” Christopher Nulty said in a statement.


Information for the Globe’s review was collected by a data- extraction company that’s called

Airbnb acknowledges that some people are not renting out their own homes.

A survey of its Boston users released by the company last year found that while 82 percent of users were renting a primary residence, 8 percent were renting an investment property, 6 percent were renting a secondary residence, and 4 percent were renting an in-law unit attached to the primary residence.

Michlewitz, a Democrat from the North End of Boston, said he is among the people who are concerned that some properties previously used for long-term housing have been converted for use solely as short-term rentals, reducing the supply of homes in an already tight and expensive real estate market.

He is cosponsoring a bill that would impose regulations and taxes statewide on the burgeoning short-term rental industry.

“There are people going to Ikea, dressing these places up, never staying there a day, and making a business and significant profit out of them,” said Michlewitz. “Eliminating any type of units obviously hurts the housing stock, especially in downtown Boston.”

Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina said he is pushing for rules at the city level, too, to address the emerging trend.

“I’m not opposed to the business itself,” he said. “The concept is great.

“But I have concerns in terms of investors buying up properties so they can use them for Airbnb. It takes away from the housing stock, and rents go up.”

In other cities, including New York and San Francisco, similar concerns have been raised.

One Everett landlord said that he and his business partner recently converted 13 of the 100 apartments they own across Boston, Everett, and Chelsea from standard yearlong rentals into short-term rentals, and then listed them on Airbnb.

“It’s more profitable for us . . . and we don’t have to deal with the hassle of a regular tenant,” said Jose, 25, who asked that his full name not be published because he fears that officials would try to shut his operation down. “You can easily triple the income going through Airbnb, compared to a regular rental.”

Those involved in the short-term rental industry say they do not believe that the rise of Airbnb and similar sites, including competitors like HomeAway and FlipKey, are to blame for ever-rising rents.


All Done With Uber
Cambridge Cabbies Strike
Car Can Run On Apple Juice

Is that why the price of apple juice has gone up?

“The vast majority of Airbnb hosts are middle-class families sharing the home in which they live and using the extra money to make ends meet,” Nulty said.

And now the bankrupt government wants its cut.

Even with the surging popularity of new Web-based services, short-term rental properties account for “a tiny, tiny fraction of the overall housing stock,” said Matt Curtis, director of government relations for the vacation-rental website HomeAway.

And yet it is an big A1 deal to the Globe.


Paul Sacco, who is president and chief executive of the Massachusetts Lodging Association, warned, “This is ultimately going to hurt the hotel industry, hurt the job market and the economy, and hurt the local tax revenue.”

A recent survey by Airbnb found that 30 percent of people who booked a stay in Boston using the site said they would not have visited the city or stayed as long as they did if Airbnb was not an option.

See: Boston sets record for overseas tourist visits in 2014

Even with the costs?

However, advocates of short-term rentals say they do not believe they threaten the hotel industry, which has more than 19,000 rooms around Boston and one of the highest occupancy rates in the country.

The short-term rental sites say they attract a different kind of customer....

People have long rented vacation homes and private residences on a short-stay basis, largely without regulation, taxes, or anyone paying attention.

Oh, yeah? How did humanity survive?

Ironically, the advent of new websites like Airbnb has made the process more convenientbut at the same time, it has put a spotlight on both longstanding and new forms of short-term renting.

I $ee who is $hining that $potlight.

Lawmakers in Massachusetts and elsewhere say they hope that with new regulations, the right balance can be struck.

“It’s a new, exciting way of doing business, so we don’t want to stifle that, but we want to make sure it’s done safely and properly,” said Michlewitz.

And you get your cut!


RelatedAirbnb should be encouraged, and regulated

It's all part of the market

Time for orientation:

"Suffolk president to tap alumni, stress local ties" by Laura Krantz Globe Staff  August 20, 2015

Suffolk University’s new president, Margaret McKenna, plans to tap the college’s legions of graduates like never before, for money and connections she hopes will bring the school a new level of financial and academic stability.

In her first expansive interview since she became president in July, McKenna said the college will redouble its efforts to be a top choice for Boston-area students, in the face of such formidable rivals as Boston College, Boston University, and Northeastern University.

Suffolk’s fierce new advocate takes over at a critical juncture for the university. It commands a relevant location and a powerful alumni base.

The campus stretches to the State House, City Hall, Suffolk Superior Courthouse, the Common, and the Financial District. Its graduates have gone on to rule parts of the city, state, and the local business world.

In recent years, however, Suffolk has fallen victim to troubling trends in higher education as well as a few foibles of its own.

It has ended recent years with budget surpluses but has big debt payments, a small endowment, and declining enrollment, especially at the law school, and it has become less selective in its admissions process.

Suffolk also has faced instability in its top office. McKenna is the school’s fourth leader in five years. Longtime president David Sargent retired abruptly in 2010 amid outrage over his lavish pay, which totaled $2.8 million in the 2006-07 academic year.

When money junkies are at the head of education and health institutions, it's over.

In her office, McKenna swapped the bulky desk of the president in favor of a nimble, barely cluttered table. Suffolk, too, should be nimble, she said, and “focus, focus, focus” on what it does best.

To be nimble, the college will need to rely less on tuition, which now accounts for 95 percent of its revenue, and beef up its endowment, which now stands at $195 million. BU and BC, for example, have endowments of more than $1 billion.

Although Suffolk graduates sit in the city’s top government offices and skyscrapers, many have not been courted for donations.

Graduates include Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans, House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, Secretary of State William F. Galvin, and entrepreneurs and executives at law firms and corporations.

“I don’t think people have been asked. I think it’s that simple,” McKenna said. Last year the school raised $1.5 million. This year she wants to raise $5 million, minimum.

She said Suffolk must also cut weaker or overlapping programs. She counts the law school, especially its intellectual property program, and the public policy and administration and urban sustainability programs among its best assets.

McKenna, a former federal civil rights attorney, longtime president of Lesley University, and chief of the Walmart Foundation, said the school has a duty to be accessible, both to students and leaders in the city.

When Evans, the police commissioner, wants to know what research exists on body cameras, when Mayor Martin J. Walsh wants insight about a citizens’ review board for the police, or if Governor Charlie Baker wants to know what economic sector will soon need more workers, she wants them to call Suffolk.

“We care about those issues that make big cities work,” she said.

McKenna, originally from Rhode Island, is by many standards a local and understands the city and its players. She was tapped as president after another top contender, Martin T. Meehan, accepted a job as president of the University of Massachusetts system.

McKenna signed a five-year contract and will make about $650,000, according to the school.

“People are pretty excited about her,” said John C. Berg, an environmental studies and government professor who has taught at Suffolk for 42 years.

Colin Loiselle, a senior political science major and student body president, said, “She seems willing to make hard decisions to get results.” Loiselle said McKenna has pledged to meet with him every two weeks.

In recent years, faculty have faced pay freezes, though many received a $1,000 bonus this year. A new policy that professors said could lead to dismissal of tenured faculty drew widespread criticism.

The school, with 8,321 students, has $353 million in outstanding debt, an annual budget of $235 million, and total assets of $690 million, including the value of its buildings. Undergraduate tuition is $34,000, less than nearby private schools, but higher than UMass Boston, which has a similar mission to educate locals.

Law school tuition is $46,000, compared with $25,000 for in-state students at the UMass law school in Dartmouth.

Suffolk’s physical presence is also changing. It sold two Beacon Hill buildings and this fall will open a $62 million academic building at 20 Somerset St., closer to Downtown Crossing. More undergraduates than expected enrolled at Suffolk this year, so the school is renting 70 dorm beds from colleges in the Fenway neighborhood.

As the new president takes the helm, she wants members of the board of trustees to step back into their traditional role as long-term planners.

In recent years, board members had more daily involvement, especially during the various presidential transitions.

Board chairman Andrew Meyer said trustees so far are impressed with McKenna, saying “she has a positive force and a great presence.”

Law school alumnus Michael J. McCormack, a local attorney and former Boston city councilor, said the school’s focus should still be on educating people who stick around.

“[Suffolk Law graduates] come out with a chip on their shoulder,” said McCormack, who grew up in public housing and went on to start his own firm. “There isn’t a job at a white-shoe law firm waiting for them, so they have to come out and show how they’re tougher and scrappier and smarter.’’


RelatedColleges across region team up to cut health care costs

Well, you kids are done for the day. Be careful riding the bike home. Make sure you shift properly and don't cut any corners. That can lead to problems.

So what's on tap for tonight?

"Government study finds peak months for college students’ initial use of various drugs" by Carla K. Johnson Associated Press  August 28, 2015

CHICAGO — College students tend to experiment with specific types of drugs for the first time during certain times of year, according to a new analysis. 

Just say no, kids.

College students tend to try stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin for the first time in November, December, or April, according to the examination of 12 years of government survey data. They may believe the attention deficit disorder medications will help them ace their exams, even though there is no medical evidence such drugs, which can be addictive, enhance performance.

Aren't those prescription drugs? I'll bet they are on Cloud 9.

Students are most likely to try marijuana, inhalants, and alcohol for the first time during the summer, according to the report released Thursday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which examined data from the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

First use of cigarettes peaks in June, September, and October. Underage college students who have never tried alcohol before are most likely to have it for the first time in June. First-time use of cigars, marijuana, and inhalants is highest in June and July, and the first nonmedical use of prescription painkillers happens most often in December.

While many American teenagers start drinking in high school, the report suggests many do not. About 1,200 underage students each day, on average, try alcohol for the first time while in college, according to the analysis.

The real gateway drug.

Other reports using the same survey have found the average age of first alcohol use is about 17 in the United States, with other drug initiation tending to be later.

First marijuana use happens at about age 18 and first nonmedical use of prescription stimulants or painkillers typically happens at about age 21 to 22, according to the 2013 survey.

The views are changing on the weed.

The new findings suggest that prevention messages could be targeted at the months when college students are most vulnerable, said Brendan Saloner, an addiction researcher at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who wasn’t involved in the study.

‘‘For most of the substances, what you’re seeing is a summer peak. Young people may have more time on their hands and less supervision,’’ Saloner said. ‘‘For stimulants, first use seems to peak around finals. There’s a lot of anxiety and stress around final exams and a push for students to do as well as they can.’’


Maybe you want to rent a movie and stay home?

RelatedTardy 111 times, N.J. teacher keeps job

He must have been partying, too. 

No apple for him.

"Contract keeps BPS staff stuck in school, with little work to do" by Jeremy C. Fox Globe Staff  August 19, 2015

Dozens of Boston Public Schools staff members who support students with special needs are spending two weeks sitting in a school cafeteria with little work to do — some passing the time by watching Netflix or shopping online — members of the group said Tuesday.

Related: Teacher's Lounge

The department is paying the employees, who are known as applied behavior analysis specialists, because their contract classifies them as year-round employees, requiring them to work several weeks beyond the usual academic calendar, according to school officials.

The specialists, who are in the middle of contract talks with the school system, are required to spend two weeks between summer programs and the academic year at the Joseph Lee K-8 School in Dorchester. But there are no students there needing services, so some of the specialists say they are filling their days however they wish.

“Reading books, talking, studying for tests, paying bills,” said one specialist, who asked not to be identified out of fear of retribution. “Whatever you can think of.”

The group has been assigned to the cafeteria because most schools in the district are closed to teaching staff so custodians can prepare them for the fall.

A Boston Public Schools spokesman said in a statement the department is “working to find a better site.” But, he said, the specialists should be, and have been, working.

“The site that the ABA specialists were assigned to today was staffed by supervisors,” said Richard Weir, the spokesman, “who made themselves available to their employees and followed up with them throughout the course of the day to support them with completing their activities.

“None of the supervisors observed any of the specialists engaging in activities unrelated to their work,” Weir continued.

The specialists work closely with children, mostly those with autism spectrum disorders, to develop better learning skills and reduce problem behavior.

Richard Stutman, president of the Boston Teachers Union, said the specialists have spent parts of the past three summers in makeshift conditions with little work because the School Department has dragged its feet in negotiations. The specialists voted in spring 2013 to join the union, and contract talks began that June. But more than two years later, there has been “scant progress,” Stutman said.

Because they are on a 12-month schedule, their old contract requires several weeks of work beyond the school year.

Stutman said the union is trying to negotiate a work year for the specialists that better matches the needs of students.

“They don’t want to get paid to do nothing,” he said. “They want to get paid, and they want to do something positive.”

Weir said Superintendent Tommy Chang “recognizes the importance of coming to an agreement with the Boston Teachers Union on the terms of the contract for the ABA specialists.”

Especially with the budget deficit the schools are running.

In an interview, Monique McKenna, a specialist at the Jackson/Mann K-8 School, said the extra days allow her to catch up on data collection and completing reports.

McKenna said she had spent Tuesday productively, discussing her fall caseload with a program director and preparing forms for recording student data. But she did not expect to have enough work to keep her busy for the rest of the summer.

Others described treatment that one might expect for students in detention. They are required to remain all day in the cafeteria; the rest of the school, except restrooms, is off limits.

“You get in trouble if they see you even walking around to stretch,” a specialist said.

AmeriKa really is an authoritarian state these days.

The cafeteria contains only the usual tables with attached benches, so some specialists have improvised, they said.

“People are bringing in their beach chairs, so they have back support,” one said.

Carolyn Kain, chairwoman of Boston SpedPac, which advocates for children with special needs, said specialists need to prepare for the fall.

“If they’re not working, then that’s a problem, but it’s not that they haven’t been given tasks,” said Kain, who has a daughter receiving ABA services. “If people are slacking off . . . then I would say that that’s a supervisory issue that needs to be addressed.”

Kain said she believes specialists are complaining that they lack work because they are seeking a contract with a shorter year, something she said would interrupt the specialists’ work with children.

“They’re just trying to make it seem like it’s a wasted period of time, to . . . give them a little leverage,” she said.

It's the perfect place to talk about it.


I see the first day has ended -- just like this post.

A Millennial Post

This one is for you kids:

"Poll finds no lag on tech use by black, Hispanic millennials" Associated Press  August 22, 2015

WASHINGTON — A new poll finds African-American and Hispanic millennials are just as technologically connected and likely to get news through social media as regularly as their white counterparts, further narrowing the risk of people of color being left behind technologically.

As opposed to what?

Overall, 57 percent of millennials say they get news and information from Facebook at least once a day, and 81 percent say they get it from Facebook at least once a week. 

They aren't reading the Globe like me?

The poll also found Hispanics and African-Americans are just as likely as any millennials to have a paid news subscription.

Oh, thank God.

There was little differentiation between racial groups getting news from Facebook, the poll found. But about half of African-American millennials said they comment on news stories posted to Facebook, compared with about 30 percent of whites and Hispanics.

It's agenda-pushing lies and distortions just like mine?

The findings suggest that, despite fears that millennials — those 18-34 years old — may not be going to traditional sources for news, they are clearly getting news from social media.

Who is? 

My hits have skyrocketed, and I only read and report on the Globe to show you what shit they are shoveling. I certainly don't go there to find out what is really going on.

‘‘People of color are very wired and just as adept in using technology,’’ said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute, which funded the study. ‘‘If you want a subject that hasn’t been covered in the mainstream, millennials have found ways to get at that information through community sharing more than traditional ways. “

In the 1990s, some expressed concern that minorities would have less access to technology than whites, calling it the ‘‘digital divide.’’

Just another false racial divide being promoted for reasons known.


Yeah, looking around I notice all the young 'uns have a phone.

What they don't have:

"Banks hope cardless ATMs will get millennials to open accounts" by Deirdre Fernandes, Globe Staff August 22, 2015

The granddaddy of banking technology, the ATM machine, is getting the hip, mobile treatment as financial institutions try to shake off their stodgy image and appeal to younger customers.

The student loan debt enslavement scheme not leave them open to the early withdrawal?

Banks across the country, including two in Massachusetts, have started to upgrade their machines to dispense cash using a mobile application instead of a debit card.

The cardless ATM technology is the latest attempt by banks to persuade customers under 35 to open an account with them instead of migrating to their traditional competitors or the latest Silicon Valley startup that promises to help consumers borrow, manage, and invest money through their phones.


Twenty banks across the country, mostly regional and community banks, also have gone mobile, although the ATMs still accept traditional debit cards, said Doug Brown, senior vice president and general manager of mobile at FIS, the Florida banking technology firm that makes the mobile software for the ATMs. 

Don't worry about all the hacking or anything (hmmmmmmmm!).

More banks will follow in coming months, Brown said. The technology not only makes ATM transactions faster, but also safer, bankers said.

Oh, yeah?

Banks lose an estimated $1 billion a year globally through skimming fraud, according to industry experts. Thieves install skimmers, tiny devices the size of matchboxes, on ATMs enabling them to read card and PIN numbers and steal them.

That's a fraction of what the rigged market brings with all the Wall Street firms' computer transactions programs.

Without the need for a debit card, banks expect to see a decline in this kind of fraud.

For smaller institutions, which are seeing customers age and dwindle, offering the latest technology early on can be crucial, industry analysts said. It’s a way to stand out before big, national banks bring the services into the mainstream, said Mary Monahan, research director for Javelin Strategy & Research, a California consulting firm.

“By offering different capabilities that aren’t at the big banks yet, it’s a way for them to fight back, and that’s what they’re doing,” Monahan said.

Putting their fingerprint on it, as it were.

But it still promises to be an uphill battle for banks to hold onto the next generation of customers.

Poor banks!

A recent survey by a subsidiary of the media company Viacom Inc. found that 3 out of 4 millennials, defined as 18-to-34-year-olds, were more excited about companies like Apple and Google offering new financial products than their own banks.

Still, when they do bank, millennials prefer the larger, national institutions, in part because of the digital and mobile options; more than half use the nation’s four largest banks, according to Javelin.

CarrieAnne Cormier, director of retail operations and strategy at Avidia Bank, said she hopes the cardless ATMs will help the community institution compete for younger customers.

“I’ll be honest, our millennial base is really small, and that’s something we struggle with,” Cormier said. “It’s hard. We’re not cool. We’re an old community bank. We have to change.”

It’s unclear when and if large banks will introduce cardless ATMs. Bank of America declined to comment on whether it will adopt the technology.

“We watch consumer behavior closely and will adapt to it,” said Tara Burke, a company spokeswoman. “We’re always looking at new technologies to make banking easier for our customers.”

Ultimately, cardless ATMs are about ensuring the bank provides potential customers with the tools and services they want, said Dawn Dillon, chief information officer and senior vice president of strategic change management at Salem Five.

“It seems to me everybody is becoming more reliant on their phone,” Dillon said. They’re becoming more a part of our day.”

Tell me about it. I'm surrounded by people who are addicted to the thing, and freak if they can't find it on their person.

I guess we all have our vices.


So who do the kids prefer when voting?

"Debates on cable, not free TV — a new poll tax?" by Janell Ross Washington Post  August 25, 2015

WASHINGTON — A large share of the presidential primary season debates will not be aired on free over-the-air broadcast networks. Of the 15 primary season debates, all but five will air on cable TV.

They ain't watching that!

That pattern has led Susan Crawford, a Harvard University law professor, to Crawford published a piece last week in Medium about the cable subscription fees necessary for interested voters to watch the debates in real time.

She said it amounts to nothing short of a poll tax.

That’s a big, bad claim in a country in which poll taxes were deployed uniformly to keep black and Latino voters away from the polls in the Deep South and Southwest in the decades before the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and with opponents of voter ID laws describing fees associated with obtaining identification needed to vote as the most recent vintage from this same political vine, any implication that people must pay to participate in the American democratic process draws attention.

Still, in many ways the comparison is overwrought.

Cable subscription fees and the programming available represent but one route or method by which Americans can learn about the candidates, their policy ideas, their temperaments, and their talents. Americans can still read about the candidates, listen to them on the radio and, when the cable networks make it possible, stream the debates live or in the hours and days after the event actually takes place. Learning about the candidates might be an important part of participating in American democracy, but it’s the actual voting that decides who holds elected office, whose political needs and interests become policy, and whose are ignored.

No, it's those who count the votes that decide.

Poll taxes weren’t a matter of inconvenience — some hurdle that people could clear by other means. They were an instrument of oppression, total and illegal domination of one group over others. Poll taxes quite literally impeded the ability of millions of Americans to engage in the core act of citizenship in a democracy. For some Americans, voting itself was subject to a tax.

And NO GAY, as far as I know, was ever denied that right.

Crawford makes some solid points about cord-cutting and the ostensibly growing share of the public that does not have cable TV. The primary process might have brought us candidates not constitutionally qualified to serve as president (like Deez Nuts).

But just one GOP debate in, the significance of debates is pretty clear.

As one analyst said before the debate, no matter how much show happens on that stage, debates are a major part of American political culture. They rank among the ways that ordinary Americans who have never been anywhere near a debate stage evaluate intellectual chops and who should even be considered for important leadership roles. That’s why there’s often a debate for 6th grade treasurer and multiple debates when you run for president.

Debates matter, and so too does access to them.

Those who got to watch the debate in real time could see quickly and clearly which candidates wilted under or seemed to manage the pressure well. They could make their own early evaluations before the punditry really began.

I'm not impressed with any of them, not a one.

Those who didn’t have cable subscriptions (or the log-ins made available to cable subscribers so that they can watch cable programming online) had to wait for Fox to post the full video.

I have one, and didn't watch.

And with the primary debates arranged between the interested parties — the Democrats, the Republicans, and each of the networks — it’s unlikely that anybody can make CNN or CNBC do things differently. It’s totally up to them.

There’s no question that this puts some Americans at a distinct political disadvantage.

But Crawford, the law professor, focuses much of her attention of those who have opted not to subscribe to cable on frugal principle or some sort of inherent antiestablishment, mistrustful instinct that runs strong among Millennials....

Stereotyping of a generation, and I'm tired of all these labels applied to us all by the elite pre$$.

But perhaps they should be. Cable costs are climbing at a rate that far outpaces other things. The average monthly price of expanded basic service (the most common package) excluding taxes and fees, increased by 5.1 percent in 2013, to $64.41, according to a May 2014 Federal Communications Commission analysis. 

I'm sensing a theme.

By comparison, the other goods that make up the Consumer Price Index grew an average of just 1.6 percent.

Still, a quick look at a long-running Gallup survey of technology use in the United States shows that in 2005, about 68 percent of American households had cable....

That’s not to say that no one is cutting the cord. In 2013, it just hadn’t outpaced the share who still subscribed or started doing so. And all of this probably brings us to the real reason that so many of the primary debates will appear on subscription cable networks this year.

Cable networks — particularly news networks wrestling with ratings free fallswould very much like for people to regard their network as a near-essential, or at least something for the concerned and informed.


RelatedWhat millennials believe

They question whether there is something terribly wrong here, I was told. Why they would do that. I have no idea.


Making a Date With Ashley Madison

It will be my first one, and I didn't understand why there was such a fuss and furor about it until now:

"Extortion, 2 suicides linked to hacking of Ashley Madison" by Rob Gillies Associated Press  August 24, 2015

TORONTO — The hacking of the cheating website Ashley Madison has triggered extortion crimes and led to two unconfirmed reports of suicides, Canadian police said Monday.

The company behind Ashley Madison is offering a $500,000 Canadian (US $378,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of members of a group that hacked the site.

If they can't find them and don't have a clue it's either one of two sources: the Jewish mob or the U.S. government.

Hackers last week released detailed records on millions of people registered with the website, a month after a break-in at Ashley Madison’s parent company, Toronto-based Avid Life Media Inc. The website, whose slogan is ‘‘Life is short. Have an affair,’’ is marketed to facilitate extramarital affairs.

(This is gross)

Acting staff Superintendent Bryce Evans of the Toronto police said the hack is having an ‘‘enormous social and economic fallout.’’

Yeah, I'll bet. How many important people and public servants do we have in the listings?

‘‘This hack is one of the largest data breaches in the world,’’ Evans said. ‘‘This is affecting all of us. The social impact behind this leak, we’re talking about families, we’re talking about children, we’re talking about wives, their male partners.’’

They don't care about your credit cards getting swiped or your identity stolen, but by God this finding out who wants to have an affair, my wife might find out!

The hackers who took responsibility for the break-in had accused the website’s owners of deceit and incompetence, and said the company refused to bow to their demands to close the site. The hackers referred to themselves as the Impact Team.

Isn't that an NSA outfit?

Evans said the hackers released the entire Ashley Madison client list, which claims more than 30 million users worldwide. He said the hackers also sent a taunting message to the company chief executive and released his e-mails.

Evans said there are confirmed cases of criminals attempting to extort Ashley Madison clients by threatening to expose them unless payment is received.

The police official did not offer further details of the unconfirmed suicides. He also said hate crimes may be connected to the hack but did not provide details.

Now you know this is serious!

Evans addressed the hackers directly, saying their actions are ‘‘illegal and will not be tolerated.’’

‘‘This is your wake-up call,’’ he said.

Got a date!

A representative of the US Department of Homeland Security attended the news conference. Special Agent Ron Marcello of Homeland Security Investigations said Toronto police asked for assistance and said the FBI is the lead on investigating the hack. 

Ensuring that investigation goes nowhere. They cover stuff up over there when they aren't busy framing pathetic patsies for foolishly-instigated terror plots.

US government employees with sensitive jobs in national security or law enforcement were among hundreds of federal workers found to be using government networks to access and pay membership fees to Ashley Madison, the Associated Press reported last week.

Whisper that in my ear again?

‘‘This is worldwide,’’ Evans said. ‘‘We’re looking at bringing in top security investigators from around the world to assist.’’

That means Israelis.


"8 in US sue over Ashley Madison hack" by Amanda Lee Myers Associated Press  August 26, 2015

LOS ANGELES — Eight people in the United States who registered to use Ashley Madison are suing the website for cheaters after hackers released detailed, personal information on millions of users, including financial data and sexual proclivities.

The lawsuits were filed between last month and Monday by users in California, Texas, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee, and Minnesota. They all seek class-action status to represent the estimated 37 million registered users of Ashley Madison.

The lawsuits, which seek unspecified damages, claim negligence, breach of contract, and privacy violations. They say Ashley Madison failed to take reasonable steps to protect the security of its users, including those who paid a special fee to have their information deleted.

Last month, hackers infiltrated the website and downloaded private information. The details — including names, e-mails, home addresses, financial data, and message history — were posted publicly online last week.

Why isn't the propaganda pre$$ digging through it?

‘‘Needless to say, this dumping of sensitive personal and financial information is bound to have catastrophic effects on the lives of the website’s users,’’ according to a lawsuit filed Friday on behalf of an anonymous Los Angeles man who created an account in March 2012.

Yeah, whose? Scums?

The site’s users are worried not only about identity theft but about embarrassment after release of sexual preferences. Even registering for the site without having an actual affair could put marriages in jeopardy.

Well, it's the lustful intent, you know.

A spokesman for Avid Life Media of Toronto, which owns Ashley Madison, referred to its previous statements calling the hack ‘‘criminality.’’ On Monday, it offered a $378,000 reward for information leading to arrests.

The US litigation follows a $578 million lawsuit in Canada.

Hackers who took responsibility for the data breach have said they attacked the website in an effort to close it down, because it collected a $19 fee without actually deleting users’ data.

How come you guys never help and always hurt the cause with this kind of stuff?

When is Wiki or Snowden or whatever the whistleblowing, psyop set-up shop happens to be these days, going to start exposing Israel, 9/11, and all the truly nefarious stuff going on, rather then telling us the government is sweeping up all communications (but apparently can't be bothered to find the perverts, hackers, etc)?



The break-ups have begun.

"The CEO of the company that runs adultery website Ashley Madison is stepping down after a massive breach of the company’s computer systems and outing of millions of its members. The abrupt departure of Noel Biderman (left), which came without the appointment of an interim replacement, could be another sign that the website’s days may be numbered, experts say. ‘‘Unless they can immediately assure the public that their information is protected, then their business is over,’’ says Lawrence Kellogg, a partner with the law firm Levine Kellogg Lehman Schneider & Grossman LLP, who specializes in class action lawsuits. ‘‘The only reason for an adulterer to join the service is to keep their information private. Absent that, they don’t have a business.’’ Kellogg says that if the lawsuits from Ashley Madison members keep piling up, Avid Life Media Inc., Ashley Madison’s parent company, may ultimately end up filing for bankruptcy protection."

You open Pandora's box....

"The site was largely phony, with the profiles of the women manufactured by company employees" -- xymphora

Japanese Protest

I love them.

"Mothers, students protest in Japan" by Mari Yamaguchi Associated Press  August 30, 2015

TOKYO — Mothers holding their children’s hands stood in the sprinkling rain, holding up antiwar placards, while students chanted slogans against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his defense policies to the beat of a drum.

What, they don't want to patrol the Pacific in service to the U.S.?

Japan is seeing new faces join the ranks of protesters typically made up of union members and graying activists. On Sunday, tens of thousands filled the streets outside Tokyo’s Parliament to rally against new security legislation that will probably become law next month.

“No to war legislation!” “Scrap the bills now!” and “Abe, quit!” they chanted in one of the summer’s biggest protests. Their cries are against a series of bills that would expand Japan’s military role under a reinterpretation of the country’s war-renouncing constitution.

In Japan, where people generally don’t express political views in public, such rallies had largely diminished since the often violent university student protests in the early 1960s. Antinuclear protests spiked after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

I'm always surprised when I see the word in print.

The antimilitary demonstrations started earlier this year but grew sharply after July, when Abe’s ruling party and its junior coalition partner pushed the legislation through the more powerful lower house despite vocal opposition from other parties — and media polls showing the majority of Japanese opposed the bills.

Antimilitary or antiwar? Big difference. I'm not against self defense, not at all. I am against wars of conquest based on lies, and I'll bet I'd have a lot of understanding from the Japanese.

Smaller protests outside of Tokyo were also held Sunday. Whether the protests’ momentum signals wider social change remains to be seen. They could die out once the summer holiday is over and the legislation is passed, as is widely expected.

Some are hoping.

But grass-roots groups among typically apolitical groups such as mothers and students — aided by social media — appear to be growing.

A group called Mothers Against War started in July and gained supporters rapidly via Facebook. It collected nearly 20,000 signatures of people opposed to the legislation, which representatives tried unsuccessfully to submit to Abe’s office Friday.

“I’m afraid the legislation is really going to reverse the direction of this country, where pacifism was our pride,” said a 44-year-old architect who joined Sunday’s rally with her 5-year-old son. She identified herself only as A. Hashimoto, saying politics is sensitive among parents at her son’s kindergarten. “I feel our voices are neglected by the Abe government.”

I understand that.

The bills would permit the Self Defense Force to engage in combat for the first time since World War II in cases of “collective defense,” when allies such as the United States are attacked, even if Japan is not.

That's the way World Wars get going (see the beginning of the first one).

Abe’s government argues that the changes are needed for Japan to respond to a harsher security environment, including a more assertive China and growing terrorist threats, and to fulfill expectations that it will contribute more to global peacekeeping efforts.

This as the Japanese suffer social services shortages because they are one of the most long living folks on the planet. 

The money is out there to care for people, but that's not what government wants.

The presence of college students in the protests has captured media attention in Japan, where student activists have been nearly extinct for decades.

I'm still waiting on the kids here. 

Said just a minute, soon as he finishes the video game and after he checks his phone.

Half a century ago, 300,000 students, many of them Marxist ideologues, staged violent protests, repeatedly clashing with police, over revising the US-Japan security treaty.

“It is much different this time, and there are relatively few young people involved,’’ said Yukio Okamoto, political analyst. “Our generation and housewives, these people are demonstrating in a much more peaceful manner.’’

That is when you know it is real.