“AFD much more intertwined with right-wing extremism.” A genuine threat.

AfD is the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing hiding its anti-semitism in respectable rhetoric while actively pursuing an alliance with one of Germany’s mainstream conservative parties. This is the  strategy used by the Nationalist Socialists nearly 100 years ago during the Weimar Republic as it ultimately rose to power in 1933 via the ballot box.

De Welt 8.17.2019

The President of the Central Council of Jews warns against government participation of right-wing populists in Saxony and Brandenburg. The AfD incites against minorities and thus also fuel a climate against Jews.
AfD II 8.17.2019

The President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, has expressed concern about the development of the AfD. In an interview with WELT AM SONNTAG, Schuster said: “In my opinion, the AfD is much more intertwined with right-wing extremism than it presents to the outside world.

It fosters fears and promotes a climate of exclusion of minorities. “The AfD linked attacks by Islamist-motivated perpetrators with populist propaganda ,” to rush generally against minorities, thereby fueling a climate ultimately against Jews “.

AfD III 8.17.2019.jpg

Schuster warns of the possibility that parties can tolerate after the election in Saxony and Brandenburg in a minority government of the AfD. “A minority government tolerated by the AfD would mean that they always had to turn to the right in their decisions in order to survive. That would be a harbinger for me that one of the democratic parties would sooner or later conclude an alliance with the AfD. “

In case of acquiescence Schuster would not call the Jews in Germany to emigrate. “One would have to weigh what would be worse: a toleration or the ungovernability of the prospect that new elections might bring an even more problematic outcome. I urge all parties to close a coalition with the AfD, “said Schuster WORLD ON SUNDAY.

 

https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article198711427/Antisemitismus-AfD-viel-enger-mit-Rechtsextremismus-verwoben-als-sie-es-darstellt.html

 

US Justice Dept. Whole Lotta Love for Led Zeppelin on the Stairway to Heaven

It’s nice to see that the stodgy, uber Conservative Department of Justice has some rock and roll vibe.  Led Zeppelin  the fantastic band  is still staple for millions of fans.  These Republican attorneys must have been rock and rollers back in the ’60s before joining the Reagan Revolution.

Original band member Robert Plant will be appearing at this year’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in October

NBC News 8.16.2019

The legal dispute centers on whether the famous opening of “Stairway to Heaven” was ripped off.

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is coming to the defense of Led Zeppelin in a copyright dispute over the opening passage from one of rock’s best-known anthems, “Stairway to Heaven,” a melody and chord sequence that nearly every aspiring guitarist tries to master.

The Justice Department filed a friend of court brief late Thursday supporting Led Zeppelin against a claim that it stole the musical passage from an earlier recording, “Taurus” by Spirit. The legal battle of the bands has played out in federal courts in California for the past five years.

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Trustees for the songwriter of “Taurus,” Randy Wolfe — who called himself Randy California and has since died — accuse Led Zeppelin of violating his copyright by appropriating the “distinct plucked guitar line and melody.” The case went to a jury, which ruled for Led Zeppelin in 2016.

At the trial, the jury heard from a member of Spirit, Led Zeppelin musicians Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and musical experts — but jurors never heard the actual recording of either song in court. The judge ruled that because “Taurus” was written in 1967, it fell under an older version of federal copyright law, which protected only the sheet music for the song, not the sound recording.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the case sent back for another trial, ruling that the jury should have heard the recordings to demonstrate that Led Zeppelin had access to “Taurus.” But in June, the full Ninth Circuit said it would hear the appeal again.

In its brief filed Thursday, the Justice Department said the trial judge got it right when he ruled that the only work subject to copyright protection was the sheet music, because the song was written before Congress changed the law in 1972, which gave protection to sound recordings.

A victory for Spirit would re-write a chapter of music history, involving bragging rights to one of rock’s most famous guitar passages. “Stairway to Heaven” is number 31 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

The appeals court will hear the case in September.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/supreme-court/ag-barr-s-justice-department-has-whole-lotta-love-led-n1043361?cid=eml_nbn_20190816

Israel Shameful Kowtow to Trump. Bans Muslim Reps Omar & Tlaib from Israel

Netanyahu and Trump. Two vile and reactionary men whose despotic policies and world view are toxic, counter productive and move against the tide of multi ethnic inclusion.

Bibi II 6.19.2019

Excerpted from The Guardian 8.15.2019

Israel’s decision on Thursday to block two American congresswomen from entering the country amid pressure from Donald Trump drew widespread criticism in Washington, with some Democrats warning the move threatened to erode US support for its longtime ally.

“Banning Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel and Palestine is a sign of enormous disrespect to these elected leaders, to the United States Congress, and to the principles of democracy,” the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders tweeted.

Bernie Sanders said: “It is disgusting that a bigot like Trump is attacking @RashidaTlaib and @IlhanMN in this way. Opposing Netanyahu’s policies is not ‘hating the Jewish people.’ We must stand together against those who promote hatred and racism in Israel, Palestine, the US and everywhere.”

The Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren decried the move as “shameful” and “unprecedented”.

“Israel doesn’t advance its case as a tolerant democracy or unwavering US ally by barring elected members of Congress from visiting because of their political views,” she said.

BDS I 5.17.2019

In an unprecedented chain of events, the Israeli government declared it would bar entry to representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, ahead of a planned visit to the West Bank. The move came just hours after Trump publicly urged Israel not to allow the two Democratic lawmakers into the country in a highly unusual effort to influence a foreign government against his political opponents.

Omar responded to Israel’s announcement by stating it was “an affront” for the country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to acquiesce to pressure from Trump.

“Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress,” she said in a statement. “Denying entry into Israel not only limits our ability to learn from Israelis, but also the Palestinian territories.”

She added: “Sadly, this is not a surprise given the public positions of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has consistently resisted peace efforts, restricted the freedom of movement of Palestinians, limited public knowledge of the brutal realities of the occupation and aligned himself with Islamophobes like Donald Trump.”

Later Tlaib responded to Israel’s decision to block her trip there, saying it showed “weakness”.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/aug/15/israels-decision-to-block-congresswomen-omar-and-tlaib-draws-widespread-criticism

Total Orwell. Facial recognition software misidentified 26 lawmakers as suspects

I am listening to the soundtrack for Blade Runner 2049.  This Orwellian tale right here in California fits in with the Dystopian mood of the music.  This technology is terrifying and fascinating.

SACRAMENTO — San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting has never been arrested, but facial recognition technology developed by Amazon links his image to a jailhouse mugshot.

Ting is one of 26 state legislators who were wrongly identified as suspected criminals using the technology, according to results of a test released Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.

Matt Cagle, a technology and civil liberties attorney at the ACLU, said the organization ran its experiment using Amazon’s Rekognition software and screened 120 lawmakers’ images against a database of 25,000 mugshots.

Cagle said the technology poses “a public safety hazard and a threat to our fundamental rights” if used in police cameras.

“Body cameras were promised as a police accountability tool, not as a surveillance system,” he said. “People should be able to walk down the street without having their face logged into a government database.”

facial recognition I 8.14.2019

The program falsely identified 1 of 5 lawmakers, including Ting and two fellow San Francisco Democrats, Assemblyman David Chiu and state Sen. Scott Wiener, the ACLU said.

Critics of the software, including the ACLU, said the findings show the need to block law enforcement from using the technology in officers’ body cameras.

“Clearly, this software is faulty,” Ting said. “It really should not be used by any law enforcement agency at this point. Body cameras are there to build trust, not to tear it down.”

facial recognition II 8.14.2019

Ting’s bill is opposed by a host of law enforcement groups, including the California Peace Officers’ Association. They argue that the technology could be used to help identify criminals at large events, such as the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Shaun Rundle, the association’s deputy director, said no California police agencies are using the technology now. But, he said, police should have a chance to show they could use it correctly.

 “We’re concerned that (Ting’s bill) is an attempt to wipe out something that could identify repeat offenders, could solve cold cases and old crimes and deter future crime,” Rundle said. Facial recognition technology “has the potential to be a real crime-solving tool.”

 

Supporters say police could use the technology like a red-flag system, to alert officers if an image captured on a body camera matches that of a suspect or someone in an arrest database.

However, Microsoft announced in April that it had denied an unnamed California law enforcement agency’s request to buy its recognition technology for body cameras.

Amazon said it believes its technology, if used correctly, can help identify criminals and find missing children. The company recommends on its website that law enforcement agencies using its software, “manually review the match before making any decision to interview or detain the individual.”

Amazon suggests police agencies set the software’s confidence threshold setting — a measurement of how accurate the software considers its suggested matches — at 99%. Cagle said the ACLU used the program’s default 80% setting in its experiment with California lawmakers’ photos.

“We continue to advocate for federal legislation of facial recognition technology to ensure responsible use,” the Amazon spokesman said in an email. The company wants Congress to mandate that government agencies using facial recognition follow guidelines to protect civil rights.

 San Francisco and Oakland have already adopted sweeping bans on the use of facial recognition software. Those bans prohibit its use by all city departments, including police agencies.

Critics of the technology say it raises civil rights concerns in part because many of the people it misidentifies are people of color.

More than half the 26 California lawmakers who were falsely identified in the ACLU’s experiment are people of color, Ting’s office said. Ting said that makes the technology especially dangerous for African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans.

“This could lead to more false arrests in those particular communities,” he said.

Last year, the ACLU ran a similar experiment using images of members of Congress. It found that Amazon’s program incorrectly matched 28 of them with suspected criminals.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Facial-recognition-misidentified-26-California-14301190.php

SF Opera cancels Plácido Domingo. Sexual harassment allegations

The litany of sexual misbehavior is unending and reaches into every strata of society. It’s a time of reckoning and settling of scores, too. The rich and famous are having to account for their actions.  In the midst of this revolution in accountability there needs to be an opportunity for targets of these allegations to have an opportunity to respond before Judgment is rendered.

Excerpted from San Francisco Chronicle 8.13.2019

The San Francisco Opera has canceled a concert appearance by Plácido Domingo planned for Oct. 6 in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment leveled against the operatic luminary.

news story on Monday, Aug. 12, by the Associated Press reported claims by nine women of unwanted sexual behavior by Domingo going back decades. The accusers, eight singers and a dancer, said that Domingo, 78, had pressured them into sexual relationships and retaliated against them professionally if they refused his advances.

Placido Domingo II 8.13.2019

A statement from the company said, “Though the alleged incidents reported did not take place at San Francisco Opera, the Company is unable to present the artist on the War Memorial Opera House stage. San Francisco Opera is committed to its strong anti-sexual harassment policy and requires all Company members to adhere to the highest standards of professional conduct. San Francisco Opera places a great priority on creating a safe and secure environment where everyone can focus on their work and art, and in which colleagues are treated with respect, dignity and collegiality.”

In a statement released to the AP, Domingo said, “The allegations from these unnamed individuals dating back as many as thirty years are deeply troubling, and as presented, inaccurate.

“Still, it is painful to hear that I may have upset anyone or made them feel uncomfortable — no matter how long ago and despite my best intentions. I believed that all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual.”

The charges have prompted other companies to respond as well. The Philadelphia Orchestra on Tuesday withdrew its invitation to have Domingo sing during its opening-night concert on Sept. 18.

The Metropolitan Opera, where Domingo is scheduled to sing two roles this season, issued this statement: “We take accusations of sexual harassment and abuse of power with extreme seriousness. We will await the results of the investigation into Plácido Domingo’s behavior as head of the Los Angeles Opera before making any final decisions about Mr. Domingo’s ultimate future at the Met. It should be noted that during his career at the Met as a guest artist, Mr. Domingo has never been in a position to influence casting decisions for anyone other than himself.”

A statement from the LA Opera, where Domingo is general director, reads in part: “LA Opera has robust human resources policies and procedures in place. In accordance with those policies, LA Opera will engage outside counsel to investigate the concerning allegations about Plácido Domingo.”

 

https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/music/sf-opera-cancels-domingo-appearance-after-sexual-harassment-allegations

 

 

Ignonimous anniversary. Berlin honors victims 58 years after the Wall was built

49 years ago construction of the infamous Berlin Wall began.  For 28 years it was a symbol of oppression. The current American adminstration is replicating the policies of a Police State as it seeks to build its own wall and implement its racist policies.  

Peter Fechter was 18 on August 17, 1962 when he was murdered by East German soldiers as he tried to escape to the West. His murder is the most graphic and horrid symbol of the tyranny of the Berlin Wall.

Excerpted from Deutsche Welle 8.13.2019

Victims of Berlin’s former Soviet-era Wall, whose construction began 58 years ago, are being remembered in the capital. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned of ‘new walls’ in electoral thinking.

Berlin Wall Trail III 8.13.2019

Reunited Berlin’s mayor Michael Müller told a memorial service Tuesday that the Wall’s erection in 1961 and its fall during East Germany’s peaceful demise in 1989 were “both memories that belong together.”

Berlin Wall Trail I 8.13.2019.jpg

Berlin’s message as a city of freedom was that “the will of people to live freely can never be defeated,” said the center-left Social Democrat (SPD) and head of today’s 3.6-million metropolis.

Despite joy over the Wall’s fall in 1989 — 28 years after its construction — the victims of Germany’s division should not be forgotten, said Müller.

German President Steinmeier, hosting talks Tuesday at his Berlin residence, warned of what he termed “the poison of hate” creating metaphorical new walls — an apparent reference to elections in three eastern German regional states — in September and October — where far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) is polling strong.

It was a “perfidious distortion of history” when “political groups today in electioneering” sought to turn the legacy of Germany’s 1990 reunification into slogans of fear, said Steinmeier.

Wall along ‘death zone’

Berlin Wall Trail II 8.13.2019

Wall construction began on August 13 1961 under former East German GDR leader Walter Ulbricht in a city then-controlled by four post-World War Two powers — the Soviet Union, USA, Britain and France.

Read more: What Germany was like when the Wall was built

Two months earlier, Ulbricht has professed that “no-one has the intention to build a wall.”

At least 140 persons were subsequently killed while trying to cross the 155-kilometer (100-mile) structure, guarded by East German forces and surrounding West Berlin – then isolated and only reachable by plane and via land corridors.

Outside Berlin, between Magdeburg and Hanover, the GDR also maintained a fortified 1,400-kilometer-long border, where at least 327 more persons are thought to have lost their lives – a figure that is still subject to critical research — while trying to flee.

Tourist magnet

Müller spoke in a memorial chapel erected in 2000  standing among widely-visited Wall remnants at the intersection of Berlin’s Benauer and Acker streets. It was here that a 19th century church was situated inside the former “death zone,” a structure which was demolished in 1985 by the GDR regime.

Pavement plaques mark where would-be escapees were stopped or dug tunnels to reach the West.

The Berlin Wall Memorial site draws hundreds of international visitors daily, many of them young tourists.

Near the former US-controlled Checkpoint Charlie, mourners were also due to remember Peter Fechter, then 18 years old, who bled to death after being shot by East German guards and despite a crowd calling for him to be rescued.

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was also due to visit another former Wall checkpoint, the Glienicker Bridge, near Potsdam (on Berlin’s western fringe), where numerous spy swaps took place during the Cold War.

Marathon retracing Wall route

Next weekend, sports enthusiasts hold their eighth 100 mile Berlin Wall Race, a marathon tracing — this time counter clockwise — the former barrier’s more-or less circular route.

The event, first held in 2011 and open to individuals as well as relay teams of two and four, is this year dedicated to Dieter Wohlfahrt,  a West Berlin chemistry student who helped East Germans escape, often through sewers.

Visiting, using his Austrian passport and bolt cutters on December 9 1961, he cut a border fence for escapees on December 9 1961 but was shot dead by GDR forces who hindered rescue bids by West Berlin police and British military police.

https://www.dw.com/en/berlin-honors-victims-58-years-after-the-wall-was-built/a-50004814