“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

Navigation
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

----

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.

Sunday
Jul062014

June Smith / WCBM Talk Radio 680 / Opening Monologue:

July 4, 1014: 

It’s nice to be here on Independence Day, to have the opportunity to engage in lively conversation, and exercise our right to free speech.

I’m going to a party tonight at friends who are of the same political ilk so no doubt, we will be exercising our right to free speech and there will be many discussions about politics and the Obama Administration and all that’s going on around us nationally and globally.

If that’s not a tribute to Independence Day, I don’t know what is.

Speaking of Free Speech, so many people ask me “What Would Ron Say” about what’s going on?  WWRS. What would Ron Say. I think we all know what Ron would be saying.

He’d be ranting about all the boowah, bushwah, blah blah blah Pablum that passes for news and Obama’s personal agenda and how he is violates the Constitution and on and on.

And, speaking of “What Would Ron Say” --  I thought I’d share with you a commentary Ron wrote on the Fourth of July in 2009. 

It begins:

“Sometimes I get tired of my own laments and wonder why I can’t seem to turn my attention from the collapse of our civilization, taking place in our own time at breakneck speed.

 “But then I remember there is no choice. What’s more important? The passing of Michael Jackson? Not to me. To think everything is going to turn out okay because our political leaders have figured out or will figure out how to avoid catastrophe is to think in a childlike manner. The catastrophe is already here.

“As Pink Floyd so memorably put it, ‘There is no dark side of the moon. It’s all dark.’

“The people in Washington, which is now not only the political capital of the world, but also the place where all the important economic decisions are made, are acting in ways seemingly guaranteed to speed up our scurrying toward the proverbial cliff from which we’ll plunge, lemming-like to our end.

“Talking to people, as I do for a living, I find that many of them have concluded that nothing can be done at this stage to stave off the inevitable.

“We have amassed debt that cannot be repaid and to which we are adding additional trillions of dollars while continuing the pretense that the American Empire can somehow control the entire world, when clearly it cannot.

“We have armies in Eurasia assigned the impossible task of pacifying what has never been pacified. We move out of Iraq’s cities, but have no intention of ever leaving that place.

“Forget the words about withdrawal, the fact is we have invested billions of dollars in building the world’s largest embassy in Baghdad and constructing fortified bases around Iraq that are like little American towns, replete with fast food restaurants, expensive gyms and all the comforts of home.

“The new president is expanding our forces on the ground in Afghanistan, making that war his war. It’s hard to see a happy ending to that occupation, since its taking place in a part of the world home to tens of millions of tribal people who have always prevailed over invaders.

“Are we more likely to succeed at this than Alexander the Great, the British Imperial Army, or the Soviet Union?

“Admittedly, we can’t be sure of anything in the future, but chances are we’ll be out of there relatively soon without having constructed some lasting democratic-women-as-equals-America-friendly society, which is the stated goal of our current crop of imperialists. 

“It’s clear we will continue down this path as long as we can. We have constructed a massive military machine, which churns on and on immune to serious trimming because of the very thing President Eisenhower warned against in his farewell address nearly half a century ago: the influence of what he called the military/industrial complex.

“My understanding is that Ike originally wanted to identify it more completely as the military/industrial/CONGRESSIONAL complex, but changed the designation in his final draft of the speech.

“The axiom has it that to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Our massive military is America’s hammer. It’s a tool that must have uses found for it, and so we continue to wage ‘perpetual war for perpetual peace.’

“Meantime, the wizards in Washington are committed to other incredibly expensive actions that they insist will make things better for us. One of them is the Waxman-Markey bill, a purposeful rising of the cost of usable energy in the name of combating what used to be known as global warming but is now called climate change because there hasn’t been any global warming for a decade or so, would represent, critics say, the largest tax increase in the history of the republic. Take a moment to research how the issue is being faked, and why this fakery is being promoted.

“It seems insane to think our lawmakers would pass something like this, yet it’s the kind of thing they do, isn’t it?”

He ended it with “God Bless America – we really need it now.”

That, folks, is how the Voice of Reason saw things five years ago.

Much of what he wrote is as current today as it was then but not necessarily for the better for many of us who share his basic tenants and fundamental beliefs.

Ron often said: “The times are changing and people should know how and why.”  

Here are some other “Smithian” things you may recall:

 -Ron was aware of Orwell's dictum that "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

-He said, “The powers-that-be are protecting people from the things that don’t harm them and subjecting them to the things that do.”

-He often said, “Reality always wins in the end”.

-Here is a classic: “If you want to know who’s really in charge, ask yourself who can’t be criticized.”

-And: “Follow the money…”

-Ron believed in the rights of men to be self-determining.

-He often said that America's debts are unpayable and that future generations are going to rebel against being shackled with those past debts and obligations.

And, as Ron said before he left this mortal coil, “It doesn’t really matter who is elected President. We’re already screwed.”

Not only was he the Voice of Reason, he was the Voice of Wisdom.  

THE QUOTABLE OBAMA

As President Obama said, “Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom.” But unable to resist the cynicism and the sorry kind of wisdom he’s spouted over the last four years, here are some notable Obama quotes I’ve collected that rival those of “Chance the Gardener”, the protagonist in “Being There” by Jerzy Kosinski:

 “If you're walking down the right path and you're willing to keep walking, eventually you'll make progress.”

“…it’s important to make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds."

 “There's not a liberal America and a conservative America - there's the United States of America.”

“One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world. Your voice can change the world.”

“Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. And it will leave you unfulfilled.”

“Where you are right now doesn't have to determine where you'll end up”

“If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists – to protect them and to promote their common welfare – all else is lost.”

“But you see, a rich country like America can perhaps afford to be stupid.”

“I’ve been to 50 of these 60 US states”

“I screwed up.”

“Is Barack Obama the Messiah? …A light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany …and you will suddenly realize that you must go the toe polls and vote for Obama.”

And, perhaps the most truthful thing he’s said:

“This s*h*i*t would be really interesting if we weren't in the middle of it.”

Pardon my cynicism, but yippee skippy: Only two years and two hundred more days to collect more of the of “The Quotable Obama”.