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icymist's Journal
icymist's Journal
December 9, 2022

North Carolina power grid attack stokes fear in rural LGBTQ community

As shootings at two electrical substations cut power to thousands of central North Carolina homes last weekend, they also sparked widespread speculation that the days-long blackout might be the latest of several attempts to shut down a local drag show meant to celebrate the LGBTQ community in rural Moore County.

Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said earlier this week that police have not found evidence connecting the attacks to the drag performance that began shortly before the power went out, nor have they released a motive. However, authorities are considering the timing overlap and recent attacks on similar events nationwide as they proceed with their investigation.

[...]Their concerns are shared by federal officials who have been on high alert in the weeks after a gunman opened fire in a gay nightclub in Colorado, killing five people and wounding 17 others.

In a national terrorism advisory bulletin issued last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned that the LGBTQ community and critical infrastructure may be targets of violence as domestic extremists and foreign terrorist organizations encourage online supporters to carry out attacks.

December 9, 2022

Amazon, FBI.gov, and 70,000 Other Sites Are Sending Your Data to Elon's Twitter, New Research Says

In October, Elon Musk purchased Twitter for a cool $44 billion dollars. Among a variety of other assets and headaches, the deal came with one resource that’s gone under-explored: a vast data collection network spanning the sites of more than 70,000 Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, non-profits, universities, and more. Given Twitter’s history of security lapses, how safe is all that data?

At least 70,772 websites are using a Twitter advertising tool called a pixel to send the company information about every person who visits their sites, even people who don’t have Twitter accounts, according to a bombshell new report from Adalytics, an ad tech firm. The list includes the websites of government agencies—the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Education’s student aid portal—Fortune 500 behemoths—Amazon, General Motors, Pfizer—and health care companies like WebMD and UnitedHealth Group. General Motors, Pfizer, and other companies that claimed they pulled their ads from Twitter after Musk’s takeover continued to send Twitter data using the advertising Pixel.

By sending data to Twitter, organizations may be putting themselves and their visitors at serious risk. Twitter has a lengthy history of data breaches, infiltration by foreign governments, and fines for security issues by the FTC. Most recently, Twitter’s former head of security resigned and filed a whistleblower complaint accusing the company of disastrous security practices—and that was before Elon Musk laid off over half of Twitter’s staff, including swaths of its security team. Among a host of other tech companies that collect data using similar means, that makes Twitter particularly concerning.

The report also finds that many websites haven’t taken the proper precautions to avoid cyber threats known as a supply chain and code injection attacks, which could allow websites to be hijacked if Twitter was compromised. That’s an even bigger issue due to Twitter’s history of security problems and apparent lack of engineering staff. In such attacks, third party tools are compromised and used to infiltrate an organizations systems, a serious threat when you’re talking about Fortune 500 companies or FBI.gov. It’s unlikely, but this kind of attack has happened before, and a similar mechanism led to the SolarWinds hack which compromised much of the US government and private sector.

December 9, 2022

The Supreme Court Needs Real Oversight

A series of recent events at the Supreme Court threatens to undermine trust and confidence in the institution and demonstrates the need for it to have a code of ethics and for better oversight within the judiciary.

In May, in what Chief Justice John Roberts called a “betrayal” and an “egregious breach of … trust,” a draft of the Dobbs opinion overruling Roe v. Wade was leaked. More recently, The New York Times reported that the results of a 2014 Supreme Court decision may also have been leaked. And Justice Clarence Thomas’s decision not to recuse himself, without any explanation, in rulings related to his wife’s actions has raised additional concerns.

[...]Chief Justice Roberts has noted that Supreme Court justices voluntarily consult the Code of Conduct and other ethical rules for guidance. He has also pointed out that the justices can seek ethical advice from a variety of sources, including the Court’s Legal Office, the Judicial Conference’s Committee on Codes of Conduct, and their colleagues. But this is voluntary, and each justice decides independently whether and how ethical rules apply in any particular case. No one—including the chief justice—has the ability to alter a justice’s self-judgment.

Oversight of the judiciary is a more difficult issue, involving separation-of-powers concerns. I was the inspector general of the Department of Justice for 11 years and the acting inspector general of the Department of Defense for four years; I saw the importance and challenges of oversight in two of the most important government agencies. I also experienced the difficulties in conducting complex investigations of alleged misconduct, including leak investigations. But as I wrote in a Brookings Institution article this past May after the Dobbs leak, the Supreme Court does not have the internal capacity to effectively investigate such leaks, and it would benefit from a skilled internal investigator, like an inspector general, to help oversee the Court and the judiciary.

December 9, 2022

Woman accused of sabotaging electrical grid to stop drag show says "extremist leftists" did it

A North Carolina woman who called for a protest at a local drag show claimed to know why an allegedly “intentional” massive blackout in the state happened during the show, sparking speculation online that she knew power systems were targeted by anti-LGBTQ+ activists. An investigation found that she was not credible.

But Emily Grace Rainey quickly took to social media to proclaim herself the victim, conveniently forgetting that she had claimed to have information about a crime. After adding rightwing podcasts started amplifying her claims and booking her as a guest, now Rainey says she knows who did – “aggressive leftists.”

[...]But now it appears it wasn’t God after all. It was “Christophobic” activists and “aggressive leftists” who did it, and they somehow made it look like it was her.

“Let me lay the scene out for you,” she said on Steve Bannon’s War Room. The show is on QAnon zealot and MyPillow owner Mike Lindell’s Lindell TV. “You have a very quaint downtown of a southern conservative Christian area, and a drag show event coming from Raleigh, called the House of Coxx with the chief performer, Naomi Dix, decides they’re going to do an all-ages drag show in our historic downtown theater.”

“So, like you mentioned, we countered – we mobilized the community, got enough pressure to the point where they finally relented and changed the age from all ages to 18 and up, so our first objective was achieved and we are very happy about that, but we still wanted to protest and pray, because it was inappropriate that such a red light district show was right in a family-friendly downtown, and it was within a thousand feet of a church and school, so these were breaking basic ordinances.”


Oh, for fuck's sake!
December 6, 2022

Destroying Democracy A former president attacks the Constitution Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

The oath of office for the presidency of the United States is not very long and gets right to the point:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

First, you say you’ll do the job. The second part is all about the document that underpins our democracy — the Constitution of the United States. Your duty as president is to “preserve, protect and defend” that document, and by so doing, the nation.
December 5, 2022

Interesting. We should keep an eye on this:

North Carolina county may be days without power after “targeted” attack
An alleged attack on multiple electrical substations left 60 percent of North Carolina's Moore County without power over the weekend in what local and state authorities are investigating as a "criminal occurrence."

[...]Between the lines: The power went out during a drag show in downtown Southern Pines that attracted a significant amount of protesters and police presence.

The show ended early because of the power outages, The Pilot reported.
One of the leading protesters, Emily Grace Rainey, claimed on social media that sheriff's deputies questioned her about the outages after she posted that she knew why it had occurred, WRAL reported Sunday morning.

"I told them that God works in mysterious ways and is responsible for the outage," Rainey, who rose to local prominence protesting COVID-19 restrictions, wrote on Facebook. "I used the opportunity to tell them about the immoral drag show and the blasphemies screamed by its supporters."


The police there say they interviewed this "young woman" and after 'praying with her' decided that this is nothing.
December 5, 2022

Drag storytime organizers, police offer different explanations amid Proud Boys protest

The Red Oak Community School canceled its Holi-drag storytime Saturday morning following promises of protest from the Proud Boys and what school officials described as only a "casual, distant acknowledgement" of the event from police.

[...]The event drew protesters even after organizers canceled it.

The Ohio Chapter of the Proud Boys, an extremist organization whose leadership has been charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, posted on the social media platform Telegram last month that it intended to attend and protest the storytime event.

“It’s going to be wild,” the group said in its posting.

In a video statement Saturday morning, organizers said they'd reached out to Columbus police about their concerns that the Proud Boys would intimidate and harass their event attendees and organizers, but that police had "offered nothing."

"I spent a week calling our police department and leaving voicemails about the reports we had seen," said Cheryl Ryan, Red Oak Community School Manager, in the video posted to YouTube Saturday. "After a week, I was told we could hire a special duty officer, who may or may not show up because they're understaffed."


December 4, 2022

No, You Do Not Have a Constitutional Right to Post Hunter Biden's Dick Pic on Twitter

While normal humans who denied Republicans their red wave were enjoying an epic sports weekend, an insular community of MAGA activists and online contrarians led by the world’s richest man (for now) were getting riled up about a cache of leaked emails revealing that the former actor James Woods and Chinese troll accounts were not allowed to post ill-gotten photos of Hunter Biden’s hog on a private company’s microblogging platform 25 months ago.

Now if you are one of the normals—someone who would never think about posting another person’s penis on your social media account; has no desire to see politicians’ kids’ penises when scrolling social media; doesn’t understand why there are other people out there who care one way or another about the moderation policies surrounding stolen penis photos; or can’t even figure out what it is that I’m talking about—then this might seem like a gratuitous matter for an article. Sadly, it is not.

Because among Republican members of Congress, leading conservative media commentators, contrarian substackers, conservative tech bros, and friends of Donald Trump, the ability to post Hunter Biden’s cock shots on Twitter is the number-one issue in America this weekend. They believe that if they are not allowed to post porno, our constitutional republic may be in jeopardy.

I truly, truly wish I were joking.

Here’s a synopsis for the blessedly uninitiated:

On Friday, Elon Musk promised to reveal “what really happened with the Hunter Biden story suppression by Twitter.” It turns out that he had provided a trove of internal corporate documents to the Tulsi Gabbard of Substack, Matt Taibbi, who said they amounted to a “unique and explosive story”—revealing the juicy details inside Twitter’s decision to suppress the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story, which had previously been rejected by such liberal outlets as Fox News and the Wall Street Journal due to its suspicious provenance. Taibbi agreed to divulge these private emails on Twitter itself rather than via his Substack as part of a “few conditions,” which he does not detail, that were imposed on him, presumably by Musk or a Musk factotum.

June 20, 2022

A Lost Piece of Trans History

“A final moment of reluctance overcame me,” Hans Hannah Berg wrote, “as I stepped across the threshold of the house.” Dressed in a custom black dress, white gloves, and fine pearls, Hans Hannah looked impeccable. She cut a fine figure walking down the street, announced by a hint of perfume and the gentle jangling of bangles. But Hans Hannah was anxious: this was her first outing as a woman.

Hans Hannah wrote about the occasion for the inaugural issue of The Third Sex (Das 3. Geschlecht), likely the world’s first magazine devoted to trans issues. First published in Berlin in 1930, The Third Sex circulated in the final years of the Weimar Republic, Germany’s democratic experiment between the wars. After the Nazis seized power, they destroyed the publishing house, and the magazine was largely forgotten. As a result, most accounts today name fifties America as the birthplace of trans periodicals. The recent republication of The Third Sex by the Bibliothek rosa Winkel revives lost voices from Germany’s queer past and recovers a remarkable piece of trans history.

Beginning in the nineteenth century, Germany was closely associated with homosexuality. The English spoke of the “German custom,” the French referred to the vice allemande, and Italians called gay men and women “Berlinese.” Queer people existed across Europe, of course, but German thinkers actively studied non-heteronormative sexualities and openly debated the rights of queer people, inaugurating the field of sexology. In the first decade of the twentieth century, more than a thousand works on homosexuality were published in German. Researchers from England to Japan cited German sexologists as experts and often published their own works in Germany before their home countries.

June 19, 2022

Third Gender: A Short History

Social convention says there are two types of people: male and female. And you know who’s who based on their genitalia. But in fact, various cultures have long recognized members who buck the biological binary. The ancients wrote of people who were neither men nor women; individuals have been swapping genders for centuries; and intellectuals have fiercely debated the connection between the body and the self. Today, there are many populations with alternative identities, such as hijras in South Asia, kathoeys in Thailand, and muxes in Mexico. Yet these groups haven’t had it easy, often facing discrimination and violence. Only recently has the fight for legal recognition — and respect — of "third gender" begun to bear fruit, thanks to pioneering activists and policymakers. The world, it seems, is slowly embracing an adage once restricted to liberal universities: Gender is a construct, and people should be able to define it for themselves.

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