“What is a mere individual to do? Live as sane and decent a life as you can, love your family and friends and understand that everybody is in this together." 

 · Ron Smith

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Wednesday
Jul162014

From a long-time Ron listener:

"Comprehensive" seems to the buzz word today.  "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" is, of course, amnesty and open borders.

I have decided to apply this word to other things.

Comprehensive life reform:  death

Comprehensive truth reform:  lying

Comprehensive wealth reform:  bankruptcy

Comprehensive career reform:  being fired

Comprehensive nutrition reform:  starvation

Comprehensive peace reform:  war 

Comprehensive water reform:  flooding

Comprehensive pregnancy reform:  abortion

Ron would have loved this.

You know those long-time Ron listeners. Always astute, always thinking.

These sound like White House Talking Points. Any day now, we’ll be hearing such terms from the Commander-in-Chief or one of his many minions. 

Monday
Jul142014

From long-time Ron listener Bitter Jim:

At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US, says whistleblower William Binney – that's a 'totalitarian mentality'

Antony Loewenstein

Thursday 10 July 2014 

theguardian.com

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/11/the-ultimate-goal-of-the-nsa-is-total-population-control

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William Binney is one of the highest-level whistleblowers to ever emerge from the NSA. He was a leading code-breaker against the Soviet Union during the Cold War but resigned soon after September 11, disgusted by Washington’s move towards mass surveillance.

On 5 July he spoke at a conference in London organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism and revealed the extent of the surveillance programs unleashed by the Bush and Obama administrations.

 “At least 80% of fibre-optic cables globally go via the US”, Binney said. “This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores.”

The NSA will soon be able to collect 966 exabytes a year, the total of internet traffic annually. Former Google head Eric Schmidt once argued that the entire amount of knowledge from the beginning of humankind until 2003 amount to only five exabytes.

Binney, who featured in a 2012 short film by Oscar-nominated US film-maker Laura Poitras, described a future where surveillance is ubiquitous and government intrusion unlimited.

“The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control”, Binney said, “but I’m a little optimistic with some recent Supreme Court decisions, such as law enforcement mostly now needing a warrant before searching a smartphone.”

He praised the revelations and bravery of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and told me that he had indirect contact with a number of other NSA employees who felt disgusted with the agency’s work. They’re keen to speak out but fear retribution and exile, not unlike Snowden himself, who is likely to remain there for some time.

Unlike Snowden, Binney didn’t take any documents with him when he left the NSA. He now says that hard evidence of illegal spying would have been invaluable. The latest Snowden leaks, featured in the Washington Post, detail private conversations of average Americans with no connection to extremism.

It shows that the NSA is not just pursuing terrorism, as it claims, but ordinary citizens going about their daily communications. “The NSA is mass-collecting on everyone”, Binney said, “and it’s said to be about terrorism but inside the US it has stopped zero attacks.” 

The lack of official oversight is one of Binney’s key concerns, particularly of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa), which is held out by NSA defenders as a sign of the surveillance scheme's constitutionality.

“The Fisa court has only the government’s point of view”, he argued. “There are no other views for the judges to consider. There have been at least 15-20 trillion constitutional violations for US domestic audiences and you can double that globally.” 

A Fisa court in 2010 allowed the NSA to spy on 193 countries around the world, plus the World Bank, though there’s evidence that even the nations the US isn’t supposed to monitor – Five Eyes allies Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – aren’t immune from being spied on. It’s why encryption is today so essential to transmit information safely.

Binney recently told the German NSA inquiry committee that his former employer had a “totalitarian mentality” that was the "greatest threat" to US society since that country’s US Civil War in the 19th century. Despite this remarkable power, Binney still mocked the NSA’s failures, including missing this year’s Russian intervention in Ukraine and the Islamic State’s take-over of Iraq.

The era of mass surveillance has gone from the fringes of public debate to the mainstream, where it belongs. The Pew Research Centre released a report this month, Digital Life in 2025, thatpredicted worsening state control and censorship, reduced public trust, and increased commercialisation of every aspect of web culture.

It’s not just internet experts warning about the internet’s colonisation by state and corporate power. One of Europe’s leading web creators, Lena Thiele, presented her stunning series Netwars in London on the threat of cyber warfare. She showed how easy it is for governments and corporations to capture our personal information without us even realising.

Thiele said that the US budget for cyber security was US$67 billion in 2013 and will double by 2016. Much of this money is wasted and doesn't protect online infrastructure.

This fact doesn’t worry the multinationals making a killing from the gross exaggeration of fear that permeates the public domain.

Wikileaks understands this reality better than most. Founder Julian Assange and investigative editor Sarah Harrison both remain in legal limbo. I spent time with Assange in his current home at the Ecuadorian embassy in London last week, where he continues to work, release leaks, and fight various legal battles. He hopes to resolve his predicament soon.

At the Centre for Investigative Journalism conference, Harrison stressed the importance of journalists who work with technologists to best report the NSA stories. “It’s no accident”, she said, “that some of the best stories on the NSA are in Germany, where there’s technical assistance from people like Jacob Appelbaum.”

A core Wikileaks belief, she stressed, is releasing all documents in their entirety, something the group criticised the news site The Intercept for not doing on a recent story. “The full archive should always be published”, Harrison said.

With 8m documents on its website after years of leaking, the importance of publishing and maintaining source documents for the media, general public and court cases can’t be under-estimated. “I see Wikileaks as a library”, Assange said. “We’re the librarians who can’t say no.”

With evidence that there could be a second NSA leaker, the time for more aggressive reporting is now. As Binney said: “I call people who are covering up NSA crimes traitors”. 

guardian.co.uk Copyright (c) Guardian News and Media Limited. 

Sunday
Jul132014

From the esteemed and astute Ellen Sauerbrey:

“THE NEXT AMERICA: Nonwhite Americans are expected to make up the majority of the U.S. workforce and the total population by 2042.  However, if the invasion across our southern border is permitted to go unchecked, that time will come sooner.”

“School Is Over for the Summer. So Is the Era of Majority White U.S. Public Schools.”

“When schools reopen this fall, demographic changes will have tipped the balance to nonwhite students.” 

By Janell Ross and Peter Bell  / July 1, 2014

“The 2013-14 school year has drawn to a close in most U.S. school districts, and with it the final period in which white students composed a majority of the nation's K-12 public school population. When schools reopen in August and September, black, Latino, Asian, and Native American students will together make up a narrow majority of the nation's public school students.

“The change marks far more than a statistical blip.

Broader demographic trends indicate that the new student majority, a collection of what have long been thought of as minority groups, will grow. In just three years, Latino students alone will make up nearly 28 percent of the nation’s student population, predict data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Latino students population growth combined with a slow but steady decline in the number of white children attending public schools will transform the country’s schools.

“As public schools increasingly become institutions serving large numbers of students of color, some states with largely white state legislatures and aging electorates have already proven unwilling to raise taxes or divert needed funds to meet the needs of public schools. 

“School funding and other public resource needs will become increasingly critical as children of color go on to become the majority of the U.S. workforce and total population by 2042.”

 

Sunday
Jul062014

As promised, here is the brilliant piece Richard E. Vatz recently wrote for redmaryland.blogspot.com, “The Premier blog of conservative and Republican politics and ideas in the Free State named one of Maryland's best political blogs by the Washington Post.”

Professor Vatz teaches political persuasion at Towson University and has a resume longer than a line at the DMV.

Early Voting and Other Anti-Conservative Gambits

—Richard E. Vatz 

Leftwing Democrats across the country are in the business of winning elections, rather than governing well.  Let me take this opportunity to reflect on some of their cunning strategies, many of which have manifested great success:

1.   Regarding the issue of early voting, please find herein a few unmitigated disparaging observations, all in service of the point that I can find no persuasive argument supporting it.  Voting a week and one-half before election day deprives voters of critical information in the often dispositive period in the run-up to election day.  My good Red Maryland colleague Greg Kline indicates he would have voted differently had he voted on election day in the Delegate Steve Schuh/ Laura Neuman contest for Anne Arundel County Executive.  This example is illustrative of the problem of insufficient information often evident for early voters, not a reflection on the candidates.  I am more supportive of Schuh, per Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich and Kendel Ehrlich’s endorsement, but I wish Greg had waited.  There are innumerable campaigns which reveal their character in the final days or day.  One election day is sufficient.  Evidence regarding the lack of increase of voters due to early voting is increasing, but we just don’t know for sure.  We do know that early voters often lack significant information.

2.   Early voting is just another effort to expand the electorate to low intensity voters.  This does not mean that everyone who votes early is low intensity by any means, but that is the intention.  In addition, Democrats were the major supporters of lowering the voting age to 18.  Non-military and non-working 18 year-olds are less likely to have any investment in economic reality and are more likely to be liberal, e.g., voting for general values of dependency and redistribution of wealth, but against rigid law enforcement and severe punishment of criminals, including capital punishment.

3.   Democrats want to eliminate voter identification laws.  Again, another effort to make it easier to enhance the number of votes on the left.  Add to that the supporting of illegal immigrants to vote or simply the lack of interest in quelling such voting is another effort to maximize the number of votes on the left. 

4.   The efforts to increase citizens’ dependency all have the outcome of increasing votes by a population which wants more and more from the government.  Efforts to “soak-the-rich,” prototypical of liberal politicians, represent more efforts to maximize liberal Democratic voter support.

 5.   The anti-business (I really like Laura Neuman’s strong and emphasized support of small business) motif of Democratic politicians is deplorable, but of course there are more economically liberal votes in workers than in those who provide jobs in Maryland.  People always wonder why the great preponderance of professors are liberal (but, incidentally, eminently good and decent folks).  Most professors work in public (i.e. government-supported) institutions and those who work in private institutions are financially supported by the public as well (save great private schools like Hillsdale College, where, full disclosure requires me to tell you, your loyal correspondent has spoken).

 The shameless, oft-demagogic appeal to numbers of voters rather than voters’ interests by liberal Democrats is what has led to the country’s unemployment problems and the increased support for “progressive” Democratic politicians.  This may be changing, but unless Republicans get larger turnout at general elections and stop letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, the economic socializing of America will continue..  

Dr. Vatz is a walking encyclopedia of political persuasion and other topics. Learn more about him at  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Vatz.