Daily Archives: December 27, 2017

Putin and his puppets are ‘sowing discord and confusion that destabilizes our system’ of democracy

While Americans were enjoying a long weekend Christmas holiday, the Washington Post did some important reporting on Russia’s ongoing cyber war against the United States that few people probably saw.

The hard reporting is a lengthy investigative report, Kremlin trolls burned across the Internet as Washington debated options. You really should read this report for background and context.

Michael Morell, former deputy director and twice acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2010 to 2013, and Mike Rogers, a Republican congressman from Michigan who served in the House from 2001 to 2015 and was chairman of the Intelligence Committee from 2010 to 2015, write in an op-ed at the Post, Russia never stopped its cyberattacks on the United States:

[T]he United States has failed to establish deterrence in the aftermath of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. We know we failed because Russia continues to aggressively employ the most significant aspect of its 2016 tool kit: the use of social media as a platform to disseminate propaganda designed to weaken our nation.

There is a perception among the media and general public that Russia ended its social-media operations following last year’s election and that we need worry only about future elections. But that perception is wrong. Russia’s information operations in the United States continued after the election and they continue to this day.

This should alarm everyone — Republicans, Democrats and independents alike. Foreign governments, overtly or covertly, should not be allowed to play with our democracy.

Russia’s information operations tactics since the election are more numerous than can be listed here. But to get a sense of the breadth of Russian activity, consider the messaging spread by Kremlin-oriented accounts on Twitter, which cybersecurity and disinformation experts have tracked as part of the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy.

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TRO presents: Music of the Masters XII

Music of the Masters XII concert conducted by Music Director Toru Tagawa, a friend of mine from Hiroshima, Japan.  Family concert preceding at 1:30 p.m. for children & friends.

The time has come to amend the Arizona Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity

The Arizona legislature is about to be consumed by the sexual harassment ethics complaint filed by Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita against Rep. Don Shooter. Unbelievably, there was no formal, written policy in the House of Representatives available to legislators detailing how to respond to sexual harassment claims. Rules, enforcement lacking to prevent sexual harassment among lawmakers.

So the House has now drafted its first sexual harassment policy ex post facto to address the sexual harassment ethics complaint against Rep. Don Shooter. But that draft policy does not go far enough. No LGBT protections in Arizona Legislature’s new harassment rules:

When Arizona House Speaker J.D. Mesnard released a new harassment policy this week, members of the Legislature’s LGBT caucus felt something was missing.

The policy prohibits workplace discrimination in the Arizona House of Representatives based on someone’s race, age, national origin, religion, sex, disability or veteran status, among others.

Not included in that lengthy list: protections for House members or their staffers who might face discrimination for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

NOTE: The Arizona Civil Rights Act does not provide for express protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. A bill has been introduced in the Arizona legislature every year since at least 1994 to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Arizona Civil Rights Act but only once, to the best of my recollection, has a bill ever received a committee hearing. It has always been opposed by GOP leadership, because it is opposed by the religious right Center for Arizona Policy.

State Rep. Daniel Hernandez, D-Tucson, said he and other members of the recently formed LGBT caucus are going to push to change that.

Hernandez said while the policy allows anyone to report instances of sexual harassment, the portion dealing with discrimination should be amended to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

“I would like to see that it gets spelled out,” he said, “just so there isn’t confusion or issues later on.”

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The looming battle over school financing in the Arizona legislature

“A plan by Arizona business leaders to ask voters for a 1.5-cent sales tax hike for education at the 2020 ballot could set the stage for a possibly expensive battle with Gov. Doug Ducey and his Koch brothers allies — assuming Ducey is still in office at that point.” Plan to place education tax increase on ballot could spark battle:

The specifics of the plan, first proposed earlier this year, include $660 million to extend the 0.6-cent sales tax that voters first approved in 2000 as Proposition 301 to fund education. That levy will self-destruct in 2021 unless specifically reauthorized.

Ducey has already said he supports making that tax permanent.

But this plan also includes $340 million for a 10 percent increase teacher pay. That compares with the 1.06 percent pay hike lawmakers approved for this year with a promise of an identical amount next year.

There’s also $300 million to fund the formula, ignored for years by the governor and lawmakers, which is supposed to pay for new school construction and repairs.

Another $240 million would restore state funding for full-day kindergarten, dollars eliminated during the recession.

And there were would be $190 million to help restore some of the cuts made in funding for universities.

Ducey, for his part, remains opposed to anything more than the simple extension of the 0.6-cent tax.

“He doesn’t support raising taxes,” press aide Daniel Scarpinato said Wednesday. Instead, the governor has told state agencies chiefs to find ways to save money in their budgets with the idea of redirecting the dollars to K-12 education.

Ducey has a track record fighting against higher taxes for education. As state treasurer he led the successful 2012 fight against an initiative pushed by parents and educators to make permanent a temporary one-cent sales tax increase which voters had approved two years earlier.

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