Friday, August 16, 2013

Data implies its misuse

Recently, I've been confronted with a lot of people telling me that they don't care about government surveillance programs because, "I don't have anything to hide." This seems like a strange response to me. First, you all may not have anything to hide, but I do. I am working on of a high tech project that we are concerned will become known before we go public. And it is especially the kind of computer hackers who the NSA employs that we don't want finding out about our work. Second, even if you don't think you have anything to hide, you are wrong. You don't want your social security number known. You don't want your medical records know. You don't want recordings of you on the toilet released on the internet. And finally, even if you personally have nothing to hide, there are lots of people who make your life better who do have things to hide. The most obvious example is the way that government agencies have gone after peace activists. Robust debate and dissent are critical to having a democracy.

Yesterday, Bart Gellman broke a big story over at the Washington Post, NSA Broke Privacy Rules Thousands of Times Per Year, Audit Finds. When I read that headline, I laughed out loud. Of course! And this is just what the NSA finds using their own screwed up idea of privacy.

Consider that in the first quarter of 2012, the NSA violated FISA 195 times. This is big news because the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides us with very few protections. To give you some idea of this, the FISA court is more or less a rubber stamp for law enforcement: anything they want, they get. You doubt me? As I wrote in February:

Funny thing about the FISA courts. The government has made 38,093 requests from 1979 through 2011. In that time, the FISA courts have denied—Wait for it!—just 11 requests. In fact, before 2003, they never denied a request.

Almost the first thing that Edward Snowden said publicly was that from his terminal at work, he could spy on anyone. Many people in the media and politics claimed that this was untrue, but it, like everything else he's said, has turned out to be true. This most recent revelation ought to concern all those people who think that the government would never misuse the data they collect. Information is power. And currently, the NSA is collecting all the information they can just because they can. Such information does not sit idle for long. And there is an entropy problem: it tends to get mixed and ends up in places you would never predict.

Think about Edward Snowden. The people who claim that he is a villain and that we have nothing to worry about regarding the NSA are being inconsistent. It is not remotely possible that he was the only person who had access to that data that has or will use it in a way that we don't approve of. And Obama's idea of limiting the number of people who have access to the data will not fix the problem.

But this kind of misbehavior by people at the NSA, CIA, FBI, and the dozens of other "law enforcement" organizations isn't even at issue in this most recent revelation. This one is just about the fact that the NSA having data about us means that they will misuse it. There is no need to even discuss the many nefarious aspects of the agency. The existence of the data implies its misuse. If we are going to address this problem, we must do it on the front side—on the collection side. After the data are collected, the battle is lost.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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A.M. Headlines

(Washington Post): "NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year, audit finds"

(CNN): "Christie raps potential 2016 rivals at Republican confab"

(Politico): "Eve of destruction"

(Wall Street Journal): "An Ohio prescription for GOP: Lower taxes, more aid for poor"

(National Journal): "Michigan GOP poised to botch Senate pickup opportunity"


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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Karl Rove and the politics of impotence

By Frank Moraes

I think I may understand why Karl Rove sounds like the voice of reason in the Republican Party these days. Unlike most of the Republicans in Congress, he's practical. To him, it is very simple: blocking everything that Obama proposes does not lead to Republican policy. Nor is it the case that just standing around blocking all policy will lead to a Republican White House and Congress. 

In fact, on Monday, the Washington Examiner published, House at Risk in 2014 Unless GOP Offers Agenda.  According to the article, Republicans are quietly worried that they really could lose control of the House, even if the public statements assure us that it would be, "Pert near impossible." And that is the kind of thing that Karl Rove is worried about.

Rove was debating the issue with Mike Lee on the Sean Hannity Radio Showon Monday. Rove said, "This assumes that the Democrats are going to be scared of a shutdown. They're aren't; they want it! They know what happened to us in 1995." Lee responded that Rove was being a coward, "You mean to suggest that we're not going to fight and we shouldn't fight simply because we're so afraid of being blamed for it? This is how we get into this mess when we say we're afraid that the other side's not going to cave so we have to. So we cave and we cave and we cave." Note the framing: normal legislation within the limits of your power is caving. "Ignorance is strength" much?

It only gets worse. Jonathan Chait wrote an article this morning that suggests that we won't see a government shutdown because the Republican establishment "is pushing back aggressively and effectively." But that even if this is the case, it will only be a temporary reprieve. He flags an amazingNational Review article by Robert Costa, Shutting Down a Shutdown. In it, he wrote, "Sources tell me the House GOP will probably avoid using a shutdown as leverage and instead use the debt limit and sequester fights as areas for potential legislative trades." So instead of something bad (government shutdown), the Republicans will do something really bad (government default). Brilliant!
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By Mustang Bobby

Josh Marshall makes the case that it’s pointless to go after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) over the question of whether or not he’s eligible to run for president: the law is pretty clear that he’s a natural-born U.S. citizen.
Yes, it’s nice to see Tea Partiers discomfited that their guy really was born outside the United States (he was born in Calgary). But that schadenfreude doesn’t change the fact that he’s natural born and thus eligible. As he told ABC News a month ago, “My mother was born in Wilmington, Delaware. She’s a U.S. citizen, so I’m a U.S. citizen … “I can tell you where I was born and who my parents were.” And he’s right. That settles it.

By every historical and legal standard, “natural born” in the Constitution simply means that you were born an American citizen. The fact of your birth made you an American citizen.

It is well-established that being born on American soil makes you an American citizen. And being born to an American citizen, no matter where you were born, makes you an American citizen. At the time of his birth, Cruz was born to a mother who was an American citizen. That clinches it. The fact that his father was then not yet an American citizen is not relevant. Just as the location of Cruz’s own birth is not relevant. The Congressional Research Service actually did a study of this a couple years ago and after lengthy research and documentation, they basically came up with what I said above.

Over the last half dozen years, in addition to coming up with numerous conspiracy theories that allege specific factual inaccuracies about President Obama’s birth, the ‘birther’ community has developed all sorts of harebrained interpretations of what ‘natural born’ mean. They’re all wrong. It simply means, did you become an American citizen by the fact of your birth – whether that mean your parentage or geography?

Still thinking of pressing this point? Nope. Zip it. It’s done.

The only reason I’ve ever brought it up in the past was to tweak the noses of the birthers who have been using President Obama’s birth certificate as a thin veil for their racism. And if they keep insisting on bringing it up when Mr. Cruz runs — and he will — then it will be fun to hear them pretzelize themselves to explain how “that’s different!” Yeah, how?

The other reason Mr. Cruz’s circumstances of birth are pointless is because of the simple fact that it will not matter. He will never be elected President of the United States, so it’s a waste of time to think about it.

(Cross-posted at Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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A.M. Headlines

(Politico): "Hillary Clinton considering academic options"

(The Hill): "Republicans fear 2016 free-for-all will only boost Hillary Clinton"

(Bloomberg): "With so many job openings, why so little hiring?"

(New York Times): "Death toll in Egypt raids climbs to 525"

(The Hill): "Crunch time for Keystone XL"


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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

P.M. Headlines

(Christian Science Monitor): "Bradley Manning: 'I’m sorry that my actions hurt the United States'"

(SFGate): "State court gives final OK to gay marriage"

(Reuters): "Ex-U.S. congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. sentenced to 30 months in prison"

(CNN Politics): "Gingrich: Republicans have 'zero' health care ideas"

(First Read): "Conservative activists say data shows GOP shouldn't fear shutdown over Obamacare"


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Apple stealing from employees

Another article that I've been waiting to write about is Apple's theft from their employees. It amazes me that Apple has such a good reputation among young, liberal minded people. They are, in fact, a horror of a company. After all, Walmart may treat its employees poorly, but at least they hire a lot of them. Apple has a small core of employees that its treats about as well as any high tech firm. Then there is most of its American workforce (70%): the Apple Store employees who are little more than minimum wage slaves. And then there is the factory workers outside the country who are treated despicably. And this is all in support of one of the most profitable companies in the world that has been sitting on tens of billions of dollars in cash.

It turns out that working for Apple is even worse than this. Two weeks ago, Matt Yglesias reported on a class action lawsuit against Apple by its own employees at its retail outlets. Because Apple sells very small devices that sell for big bucks, all Apple Store employees are physically searched before leaving the store. I'm sure it isn't what people have in mind when they think of the "Apple lifestyle." Yglesias offers an apologia of sorts for this behavior on the part of Apple. But I wonder. After all, people work at all kinds of retail places where there is plenty of cash and those businesses manage to get by without pat downs. But regardless, Apple does it and it is so super keen that young people just love to work in those sterile white rooms.

The lawsuit isn't about that at all. It turns out that Apple requires their employees to clock out before they are searched. So the minute or two that it takes for the search is something that Apple just can't afford. And remember: this is a lawsuit. It must be the case that employees have been asking Apple to change this policy and Apple has refused. Remember: Apple has much more cash than it knows what to do with. But paying its employees another 50 cents per day is not one of those things they can use their money for. Yglesias explained the situation:
But one way or another, it's indefensible. And that's particularly true because of Apple's larger corporate and financial structure. It obtains extremely high gross margins on the stuff it sells, and it's not even coming close to using all that money to fuel new investments and expansion. Recently they've started taking some of their enormous surplus and kicking it out to shareholders as dividends and repurchases, which is a bit lame. But the bulk of Apple's profits are absolutely idle. And it's pretty clear that financial markets drastically discount the value of Apple's hoarded cash on the perfectly reasonable grounds that the company seems to have no idea what to do with tens of billions of extra dollars. Tim Cook could stop shortchanging these Apple Store guys and leave nobody at all worse off.

Yes, they could. But that is not the Apple way. It's a really vile company and I'm glad that Google and Samsung are kicking its ass. I really do think that Apple's days are numbered. In 10 years, they could be as irrelevant as BlackBerry. The one thing they have is a good brand. If people knew more about how they operate, that brand would tarnish quickly.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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A.M. Headlines

(Star-Ledger): "Booker wins Democratic U.S. Senate primary election"

(Daily Beast): "North Carolina's attack on voting rights"

(AP): "Rubio warns Obama could act to legalize immigrants"

(Politico): "Clintonworld vs. Weiner"

(New York Times): "Egyptian forces move to clear out pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo"


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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

P.M. Headlines

(Voice of America): "Friends of Boston bomber plead innocent to obstructing justice"

(First Read): "New York mayor's race gets a new leader; Weiner fades"

(New York Times): "How Laura Poitras helped Snowden spill his secrets"

(Time): "Does Cory Booker really want to come to Washington?"

(The State): "SC governor to announce re-election bid"


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Eric Cantor now outside GOP mainstream

By Frank Moraes 

It is a funny old world. It seems upside down. It is as if the drunk dozing in an alley has more wisdom to offer that the local pastor. (Which may be true!) And that is the sense that I have today, at least in politics. When Eric Cantor starts sounding reasonable, anything seems possible. But it isn't really that the world is out of balance. Nor is it the case that Cantor is actually being reasonable. As I wrote just a few days ago, the Republican Party has gotten more and more nihilistic ever since Reagan. The critical phrase here is "more and more," because it is indeed getting worse.

Eric Cantor has long been one of the great examples of Republican nihilism. But the Republican Party seems now to have passed him by. Back in April, he put forward a bill to extend health insurance coverage to people with preexisting conditions. The idea was to make the Republicans look good while harming the overall framework of Obamacare. It would at least have put Democrats in a awkward position. It was a great example of old-fashioned political strategy. As much as I may disagree with what he wanted to accomplish, at least he was doing something that might work. The House Republicans would have none of it, however, and the bill was pulled without a vote. Since then, I think they've voted for a full repeal of Obamacare another three times or something.

Yesterday, I learned thanks to Steve Benen that Cantor thinks that a shutdown of the government is a bad thing. Can you imagine?! According to National Review, he said:

To get 60 votes in the Senate, you need at least 14 Democrats to join Republicans and pass a CR [continuing resolution] that defunds Obamacare. Right now, I am not aware of a single Democrat in the Senate who would join us. If and when defunding has 60 votes in the Senate, we will absolutely deliver more than 218 votes in the House.

If it weren't for the arm rests, I would have fallen out of my chair. Is he actually suggesting that shutting down the government for the purpose of "sending a message" is a bad idea?! The next thing you know, Cantor will switch parties. I mean, this short, two data point trend of Cantor's seems to indicate that he has some interest in doing something, and that puts him well outside the mainstream of his current party.

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AG Holder seeks to reduce punishments for non-violent drug offenders

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Given the country's overcrowded jails, given the ridiculousness of putting people in prison for long periods of time simply for non-violently violating the country's insane anti-drug laws, and given the cruel stupidity of mandatory minimum sentences, this is certainly promising:

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced Monday that low-level, nonviolent drug offenders with no ties to gangs or large-scale drug organizations will no longer be charged with offenses that impose severe mandatory sentences.

The new Justice Department policy is part of a comprehensive prison reform package that Holder unveiled in a speech to the American Bar Association in San Francisco. He also introduced a policy to reduce sentences for elderly, nonviolent inmates and find alternatives to prison for nonviolent criminals.

And his assessment of the problem, while limited, is pretty much on the mark:

"We must face the reality that, as it stands, our system is, in too many ways, broken," Holder said. "And with an outsized, unnecessarily large prison population, we need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, to deter and to rehabilitate — not merely to warehouse and to forget."

"A vicious cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities," Holder said Monday.

Yes, it's broken, badly broken. But why not go further? Why not put an end to the failed "war on drugs" altogether -- and so legalize or decriminalize where possible, while elevating recovery and rehabilitation (especially for those who are no threat to society) above punishment?

This is a start, but some truly progressive reforms are in order. Because, let's face it, the other way, a combination of moralism and vengeance, simply doesn't work.

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Only one "Messiah"; or, how Lu Ann Ballew may be the worst judge in America

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Even in a country full of right-wing assaults on the separation of church and state, this one boggles the mind:

A legal fight over a Tennessee baby's last name took an unexpected turn late last week when a judge ruled that the parents of the seven-month-old boy must change his first name. The issue, at least as Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew saw it, was that the child's name was "Messiah," a moniker Ballew believes should be reserved only for Jesus Christ. Here's local NBC affiliate station WBIR-TV with more of the judge's logic:

"The word Messiah is a title and it's a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ," Judge Ballew said... According to Judge Ballew, it is the first time she has ordered a first name change. She said the decision is best for the child, especially while growing up in a county with a large Christian population. "It could put him at odds with a lot of people and at this point he has had no choice in what his name is," Judge Ballew said.

The judge's solution: Changing "Messiah DeShawn Martin" to "Martin DeShawn McCullough." But, as you would expect, that doesn't mean mother Jaleesa Martin is happy with the name change. Martin said she originally decided on Messiah for her son because it was a unique-sounding name that seemed to fit in nicely with her two older children's names, Micah and Mason. "I was shocked. I never intended on naming my son Messiah because it means God and I didn't think a judge could make me change my baby's name because of her religious beliefs," Martin told WBIR-TV. "Everybody believes what they want so I think I should be able to name my child what I want to name him, not someone else." She is now appealing Judge Ballew's decision. 

Yes, I would hope so. If only the Founders were around to throw the book at this ridiculous theocrat.

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Barack Obama, Surveillor-in-Chief

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Barack Obama has done a lot of really good things as president, and I have remained for the most part enthusiastically supportive, particularly when it came to getting him re-elected last year, but I find his conduct of "national security," notably the drone war and surveillance, generally abhorrent.

And his speech on surveillance last Friday was just that. Far from being the pragmatic leader pulling the country together on a complex problem, as for example he did on race and racism following the Zimmerman verdict, he hid behind a veneer of (faux) transparency and doubled down on the assault on liberty and privacy over which he is presiding.

As Conor Friedersdorf wrote:

On Friday, President Obama spoke to us about surveillance as though we were precocious children. He proceeded as if widespread objections to his policies can be dispatched like a parent answers an eight-year-old who has formally protested her bedtime. He is so proud that we've matured enough to take an interest in our civil liberties! Why, he used to think just like us when he was younger, and promises to consider our arguments. But some decisions just have to be made by the grownups. Do we know how much he loves us? Can we even imagine how awful he would feel if anything bad ever happened while it was still his job to ensure our safety?

Friedersdorf then helpfully proceeds to break down the "disinformation," the "weasel words," the "impossible-to-believe protestations," and the "factually inaccurate assertions." For example:

The passage: 

I'm also mindful of how these issues are viewed overseas because American leadership around the world depends upon the example of American democracy and American openness, because what makes us different from other countries is not simply our ability to secure our nation.

It's the way we do it, with open debate and democratic process.

But his surveillance politics and policy, whatever one thinks of it, has never been characterized by open debate. There are secret sessions conducted by Congressional committees -- and secret hearings conducted by FISA court judges -- where hugely consequential policy decisions are made. If the real world depends on the example of American openness, we are failing the world. The example we're setting is that it's okay for governments to secretly intercept the private communications data of all citizens. How would that work out in most countries? The official secrecy surrounding the NSA has already corroded U.S. democracy in real ways.

If this were Bush, or any Republican, Democrats would be outraged. But because it's Obama, many on the left have turned into surveillance state apologists. And they join those on the right, as well as throughout the establishment "center," who have little regard for liberty and privacy in any event.

But let's be blunt about this: President Obama is lying to the American people, and to the world, and in so doing is undermining the significant progress he has made in other areas, like health care and women's rights.

And that should be abhorrent even to his most ardent supporters.

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A.M. Headlines

(ABC News): "GOP moderates push back on Tea Party spending cuts"

(News Observer): "Lawsuits filed after Gov. Pat McCrory signs voter ID bill"

(New York Times): "In New Jersey, short Senate primary race ends with final appeal to voters"

(BuzzFeed Politics): "Russian 'propaganda' law will be enforced during Olympics, Interior Minister states"

(Conor Friedersdorf): "The surveillance speech: A low point in Barack Obama's presidency"

Read more here:


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Monday, August 12, 2013

Greenwald is right about the Beltway media's shameless shilling for the surveillance state

By Michael J.W. Stickings

CBS News's Bob Schieffer is generally held up as a paragon of unblemished journalistic virtue, an objective newsman from the disappearing old school, a presence of insurmountable repute, a host / moderator version of the dean of the Beltway media elite itself, David Broder. Something like that. Whatever the details of the honor, he is widely seen as objectivity personified, and so to be revered, and not questioned, for he is eternally above the partisan fray.

What a bunch of fucking bullshit.

Schieffer is hardly the worst of the bunch, and perhaps he's ultimately better than many -- which is faint praise, to be sure -- but he's hardly objective (as if anyone really is), and often it's all too clear which side he's on: the side of the center-right establishment, generally friendly to Republicans and their agenda.

Case in point: His three guests yesterday on Face the Nation for a discussion of NSA surveillance? I'll let Glenn Greenwald explain:

Schieffer led another NSA discussion and invited on three of the most pro-NSA individuals in the country: [former CIA/NSA head Michael] Hayden, GOP Rep. Peter King, and Democratic Rep. Charles "Dutch" Ruppersberger, whose district includes the NSA and who is the second-largest recipient in Congress of cash from the defense and intelligence industries. No criticisms of the NSA were heard. Instead, Schieffer repeatedly pushed even Hayden to go further in his defense of the NSA and in his attacks on Snowden than Hayden wanted to...

This on top of his previous attacks on Snowden:

Two weeks ago, Schieffer interviewed NSA critic Sen. Mark Udall and told him that his concerns were invalid. "We have laws and all that sort of thing. So the fact that they would have this ability, there's nothing to suggest that they are doing this. And there seem to be a lot of safeguards to prevent them from doing that," Schieffer said. The TV host added: "Fifty-six terror plots here and abroad have been thwarted by the NASA [sic] program. So what's wrong with it, then, if it's managed to stop 56 terrorist attacks? That sounds like a pretty good record." (Schieffer's claims were all false: see, for instance, here, here, and here).

Bob Schieffer pushing the establishment (in this case, Obama Administration) line and getting a lot wrong in the process? Nothing new there.

Such is what passes for objectivity -- for fairness and balance -- in Washington.

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Washington Post continues Jeff Bezos whitewash

By Frank Moraes

As you've probably heard, Jeff Bezos has purchased The Washington Post. And I've had nothing to say about it because, really, could The Washington Post get any worse? I like Ezra Klein and Greg Sargent, even though they often irritate me. But that isn't primarily what the Post is. When it comes to straight news, I most certainly do not go to them. And now the Post is by subscription and it costs the same amount as The New York Times! That's outrageous to me. So who really cares who owns the paper? 

Even more annoying is how much coverage of the sale there has been in the Post itself. So I guess we can add Jeff Bezos to the Posts' other obsessions like deficit reduction and entitlement cuts. Many of those articles came from the Ezra Klein group itself. Based upon his own twitter feed, there are nine articles with "Bezos" in the title. And I'm sure they've written about the sale without putting his name in the title. Very wonky! 

Outside the Post blog ghetto, it is also big news. Tricia Duryee wrote "Five Myths About Jeff Bezos." Dean Baker, a long-time critic of the paper, took no time in noting that with the article the Post was already starting its disinformation campaign. Two of the five myths are not, in fact, myths. 

According to Duryee, the first myth is that Amazon is destroying independent bookstores. With online sales now at 48% of all book purchases, this one is hard to take. But the idea that independent bookstores are just destined to disappear is a typical canard of a certain kind of upper middle class journalist who works for places like the Post. It goes right along with globalization: there's nothing that can be done! But while they think that, they ignore all the ways that the government allows globalization to affect the poorer classes while protecting the upper classes. The mechanism by which Amazon has been helped by government policy is the basis of the second non-myth.

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The politics of niceness: Dan Snyder, the Washington NFL team, and the 'N' word

By Frank Moraes 

Jonathan Bernstein made a great point over at his blog about the naming of the Washington Redskins: "The Question Is Etiquette, Not 'Racism'." The title says it all: it doesn't matter whether or how the term "redskin" is offensive, if our native American brothers and sisters don't like the term, we shouldn't use it. After all, as a group, have they not suffered enough? The United States government committed a genocide against them. Not naming mascots after culturally offensive stereotypes sounds like the least we could do.

Bernstein brings up another point that we may refer to as, "Why does mom get to call you that?" This is in reference to situations like that where my mother calls me Frankie, but I prefer to be called Frank. Why does my mother get to call me that but not you? I don't know and I don't have to provide you with an answer. It's just the way it is. If you call me Frankie, it's not going to kill me. But it does mean that you're an asshole. (For the record, it is fine to call me Frankie, although those so inclined to make my name cuter tend to go with Frannie.)

He doesn't mention it, but he's clearly talking about the surprisingly common conservative lament that African Americans can use the word "nigger" but whites can't. (I actually think that the words that they use is "nigga," which is a different, although derivative word.) This has always struck me as a bizarre complaint. Do such people think they are missing out by not being able to use that word? I dare say most of these people go their whole lives without the more useful "pulchritude" and never seem to miss it. But the more important point is that I'm sure that any African American would be willing to trade use of the word for just a fraction of the privilege that whites have in this country.

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Anathema: Universal (coming soon)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

On September 23, the great post-prog label Kscope is releasing Anathema's Universal, a four-disc set (2 CD, DVD, Blu-ray) of the band's September 2012 show at the ancient Roman theater in Plovdiv, Bulgaria (also known by its Greek name, Philippopolis), with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra. It was filmed by Lasse Hoile, best known for his work with Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson's solo projects, and it looks like it'll be fantastic even on TV.

Don't know Anathema? Seriously, you're missing out on an incredible band. I've blogged about them twice, posting clips of two of their best songs, "Untouchable, Part 1" and "A Natural Disaster," and here's what I wrote about them in the first of those posts: 

Now on the post-prog Kscope label, Anathema started out in the early '90s as a death/doom metal band and only later, particularly with 1999's Judgement, morphed into the prog rock superpower it is today. I first became a fan after the release of A Fine Day to Exit in 2001, but I lost track of them a bit after that. A Natural Disaster (2003) was good, We're Here Because We're Here, mixed by Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson, was better (and their best album up to that time), but it's the amazing Weather Systems that has truly brought me back.

The winner of Prog magazine's 2012 Critics' Choice award for best album (third in the Readers' Poll, with Anathama named Band of the Year), Weather Systems is a challenging and deeply moving album about the inevitability of death and the capacity of love if not to overcome then at least to comfort us in the face of mortality. Some may find it overwrought, I find it glorious.

Universal is from the Weather Systems tour, which is bringing Anathema to North America in September and October.

They really are awesome. Enjoy the trailer, but go listen to their music.


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