Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Monday, June 29, 2015
While I disagree with Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage, I believe that all Americans have the right to contract.
The Constitution is silent on the question of marriage because marriage has always been a local issue. Our founding fathers went to the local courthouse to be married, not to Washington, D.C.
I’ve often said I don’t want my guns or my marriage registered in Washington.
Those who disagree with the recent Supreme Court ruling argue that the court should not overturn the will of legislative majorities. Those who favor the Supreme Court ruling argue that the 14th Amendment protects rights from legislative majorities.
Do consenting adults have a right to contract with other consenting adults? Supporters of the Supreme Court’s decision argue yes but they argue no when it comes to economic liberties, like contracts regarding wages.
It seems some rights are more equal than others.
Marriage, though a contract, is also more than just a simple contract.
I acknowledge the right to contract in all economic and personal spheres, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a danger that a government that involves itself in every nook and cranny of our lives won’t now enforce definitions that conflict with sincerely felt religious convictions of others.
Some have argued that the Supreme Court’s ruling will now involve the police power of the state in churches, church schools, church hospitals.
This may well become the next step, and I for one will stand ready to resist any intrusion of government into the religious sphere.
Justice Clarence Thomas is correct in his dissent when he says: “In the American legal tradition, liberty has long been understood as individual freedom from governmental action, not as a right to a particular governmental entitlement.”
The government should not prevent people from making contracts but that does not mean that the government must confer a special imprimatur upon a new definition of marriage.
Perhaps the time has come to examine whether or not governmental recognition of marriage is a good idea, for either party.
Since government has been involved in marriage, they have done what they always do — taxed it, regulated it, and now redefined it. It is hard to argue that government’s involvement in marriage has made it better, a fact also not surprising to those who believe government does little right.
So now, states such as Alabama are beginning to understand this as they begin to get out of the marriage licensing business altogether. Will others follow?
Thomas goes on to say:
To the extent that the Framers would have recognized a natural right to marriage that fell within the broader definition of liberty, it would not have included a right to governmental recognition and benefits. Instead, it would have included a right to engage in the very same activities that petitioners have been left free to engage in — making vows, holding religious ceremonies celebrating those vows, raising children, and otherwise enjoying the society of one’s spouse — without governmental interference.
The 14th Amendment does not command the government endorsement that is conveyed by the word “marriage.” State legislatures are entitled to express their preference for traditional marriage, so long as the equal rights of same-sex couples are protected.
So the questions now before us are: What are those rights? What does government convey along with marriage, and should it do so? Should the government care, or allocate any benefits based on marital status?
And can the government do its main job in the aftermath of this ruling — the protection of liberty, particularly religious liberty and free speech?
We shall see. I will fight to ensure it does both, along with taking part in a discussion on the role of government in our lives.
Friday, June 26, 2015
This Much Is True: You Have Been Lied To.
- The government is expanding.
- Taxes are increasing.
- More senseless wars are being planned.
- Inflation is ballooning.
- Our basic freedoms are disappearing.
The Founding Fathers didn't want any of this. In fact, they said so quite clearly in the Constitution of the United States of America. Unfortunately, that beautiful, ingenious, and revolutionary document is being ignored more and more in Washington. If we are to enjoy peace, freedom, and prosperity once again, we absolutely must return to the principles upon which America was founded. But finally, there is hope . . .
In THE REVOLUTION, Texas congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul has exposed the core truths behind everything threatening America, from the real reasons behind the collapse of the dollar and the looming financial crisis, to terrorism and the loss of our precious civil liberties. In this book, Ron Paul provides answers to questions that few even dare to ask.
Despite a media blackout, this septuagenarian physician-turned-congressman sparked a movement that has attracted a legion of young, dedicated, enthusiastic supporters . . . a phenomenon that has amazed veteran political observers and made more than one political rival envious. Candidates across America are already running as "Ron Paul Republicans."
"Dr. Paul cured my apathy," says a popular campaign sign. THE REVOLUTION may cure yours as well.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
On an abandoned farm on the outskirts of Vancouver B.C., we found paranormal detectives Fox Mulder (Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Anderson) investigating the curious case of a possible alien abductee (played by Annet Mahendru of The Americans) at the behest of a most curious ally, the host of a conservative talk show (Community’s Joel McHale). Of course, the last time we saw our heroes (the 2008 feature film The X-Files: I Want To Believe), Mulder and Scully were out of the bizarre-adventures business. He was living on the fringe, she was a doctor working at a Catholic hospital; they were sometimes lovers who just wanted the weird world to leave them alone. Much has changed for them since then.
“Mulder’s not in a great place,” says Duchovny, looking shabby in gray tee, shoes without shoelaces, and much stubble. “He’s wearing bad jeans, so you can just extrapolate from my wardrobe. He’s in a dark, dark place.”
Scully’s looking more put-together in a skirt suit and high heels. “I like where we find Mulder and Scully in their relationship,” says Anderson, adding that she’s equally engaged by the political resonance of the story Chris Carter has conceived for the revival. “I also like the area of zeitgeist that we step in to. It’s on point and raises some very interesting issues. And question marks.”
Carter — whose original series tapped into the anxious strains of 1990s culture — says the new series is inspired by new century concerns. “The X-Files ended right after 9/11,” says Carter. “A lot has happened since then. A lot of rollback of rights and liberties in the name of our protection. We’re being spied on now, we’re being lied to — all things that, for me, remind me of when I grew up, which was right around Watergate. I think we’re in similar and much more dire times right now.”
The new X-Files isn’t all scary political allegory. In addition to a hot take on the show’s conspiracy mythology, fans will get monster-of-the-week episodes from Carter and three other key writers from the original series, James Wong, Glen Morgan, and Darin Morgan, whose inspired, idiosyncratic scripts from back in the day (“Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”; “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’”) earned him a cult following. The title of his revival offering: “Mulder and Scully Meet The Were-Man.” And sorry, internet, but you’re wrong: The second episode, entitled “Home Again,” won’t be a sequel to the infamously queasy horror opus “Home,” a lunatic love story about deformed, inbred children and the limbless mother they keep under their bed.
While you can expect to see some old faces (including Mitch Pileggi as FBI boss Skinner and William B. Davis as the nefarious Cigarette Smoking Man), don’t expect to see the same old monsters. “We’re not going to reboot any of the old favorites, although it was something we all thought about,” says Carter. “These are all brand new stories.
In his dissent from the Supreme Court’s decision upholding Obamacare subsidies in 34 states, Justice Antonin Scalia accused the six-vote majority of engaging in “interpretive jiggery-pokery.”
The court “rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere,” he wrote. “We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.”
The case, King v. Burwell focused on a phrase that the challengers said invalidated subsidies in the states where the federal government was operating the insurance exchange.
“You would think the answer would be obvious—so obvious there would hardly be a need for the Supreme Court to hear a case about it,” Scalia wrote. However by a 6-3 vote, the court, in a opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, sought to uphold them.
“Under all the usual rules of interpretation, in short, the Government should lose this case. But normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved,” Scalia wrote in his scathing dissent.
The phrase the case focused on referred to Obamacare tax credits being offered to consumers in exchanges “established by the State.” The government successfully argued that in context of the law, that included exchanges in 34 states that were operated by the federal government.
“Words no longer have meaning,” if the phrase meant what the government sent it meant, Scalia said.
“Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of. Who would ever have dreamt that ‘Exchange established by the State’ means ‘Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government’?” Scalia wrote. “Little short of an express statutory definition could justify adopting this singular reading.”
Scalia accused the Supreme Court of performing “somersaults of statutory interpretation” in its “defense of the indefensible.”
In his phenomenal debut, Daemon, Daniel Suarez introduced a terrifying vision of an unstoppable computer program unleashed on our world bu a hi-tech wunderkind. But now, our world is Daemon's world- unless someone stops the program once and for all...
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
He spent nearly 10 years helping Mulder and Scully realise the truth is out there, and now Canadian actor Dean Haglund has fuelled rumours that he’ll reprise the role that made him famous in the upcoming reboot of The X-Files.
Haglund played long-haired punk rock enthusiast Richard “Ringo” Langley – the youngest of conspiracy theorist trio The Lone Gunmen – believed to have been killed off by a deadly virus in one of the final episodes of the popular series.
But in The X-Files universe, nothing is as it seems.
Dean Haglund said he wouldn’t be surprised if The Lone Gunmen appeared in the upcoming X-Files reboot.
“Nobody ever actually dies in the sci-fi world. I think the death scene was just to give us a heroic out, as it were,” he said.
“For those reading The X-Files comic books, which [show creator] Chris Carter is co-writing and is a part of the official canon of The X-Files, we are alive. So technically we were never dead.”
The actor admitted there was “a good chance” The Lone Gunmen would appear in the new six-episode mini-series scheduled to premiere next year.
In continuation of a militarizing trend, Russia will deploy advanced aerial weapons systems to the Arctic, according to the deputy commander of Russia’s Aerospace Defense Forces.
Speaking on June 20, Deputy Commander Kirill Makarov told RIA Novosti that the Kremlin will deploy fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missile systems, and radar systems to islands off the Russian coast in the Arctic.
“This is all done to the Russian Federation to defend its interests around the perimeter of our state, but also the interests in the Arctic,” Makarov said according to a translation done by Google.
The deployment of advanced aerospace technology to the Arctic is in keeping with a Russian drive to militarize the region as part of a new military strategy that was signed into place by the Kremlin in December 2014. In addition to the Arctic, Russia has placed particular emphasis on militarizing the Crimean peninsula and the Russian Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.
Monday, June 22, 2015
The side-splitting sequel to The Color of Magic, The Light Fantastic by New York Times bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett takes readers on another offbeat journey with bumbling wizard Rincewind and hapless tourist Twoflower—both last seen falling off the edge of Discworld.
The fate of Pratchett’s alternative fantasy macrocosm are in the bumbling duo’s hands as it hurtles its way toward a foreboding red star, threatening the fate of the entire universe.
Sharp, sardonic, and brilliantly funny, in this third installment in the bestselling Discworld series, Pratchett once again earns his master satirist reputation, with witty wordplay and irreverent storytelling that fans are sure to love.
Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain at Magic Kingdom.
Friday, June 19, 2015
THE NOTION OF a 3-D printable gun has become the perfect flashpoint in a new conflict between digital arms control and free speech. Should Americans be allowed to say and share whatever they want online, even if that “speech” is a blueprint for a gun? The State Department has now answered that question with a resounding “no.”
In the last few days, the State Department has issued two new statements confirming its intention to act as gatekeeper for when Americans can legally publish online data that could allow someone to digitally fabricate a gun. And those statements outline how it plans to restrict those publications as a controlled “foreign export” of munitions.
Earlier this week, the State Department sent a letter to the controversial gun access group Defense Distributed, confirming that it will require the group to get specific permission from the government before publishing its 3-D printable gun files online. That warning comes more than two years after the State Department sent Defense Distributed an initial letter telling it to take its gun files off its website pending a decision about their legality.
And in a separate filing to the federal register last week, the State Department also wrote that it intends to require prior approval for the online publication of any “technical data” that, vaguely defined, would allow for the creation of weapons, an even broader swathe of files. The agency’s statement warns that publishing those weapon files to the Internet, with its global connections, could amount to violating the International Trade in Arms Regulations (ITAR) by exporting controlled weapons data to a foreign country—hardly different, by its definition, from sending missile schematics to Iran.
“Before posting information to the Internet, you should determine whether the information is ‘technical data.’ You should review the [United State Munitions List], and if there is doubt about whether the information is ‘technical data,’ you may request a commodity jurisdiction determination from the Department,” reads the State Department’s filing. “Posting ‘technical data’ to the Internet without a Department or other authorization is a violation of the ITAR even absent specific knowledge that a foreign national will read the ‘technical data.’”
The State Department’s renewed attempt to control the spread of gun files online comes just as the conflict between the control of digital weapons “exports” and free speech is coming to a head: A month ago, Defense Distributed sued the State Department on First Amendment grounds, arguing that its right to free speech is being violated by the State Department’s demand for prior approval of its printable gun file uploads.
“Just because information can be used for some bad purpose doesn’t make it illegal to publish it,” says Matthew Goldstein, an export control lawyer representing Defense Distributed. “This isn’t just a firearms case, even though it deals with firearms. It’s really a free speech case.”
“The X-Files” will soon be back on the air with a new miniseries, and perhaps no one is more excited about that than Joel McHale.
The comedian is set to guest star on the show as “the anchor of a popular conservative Internet news network who becomes an unlikely ally for Fox Mulder,” and when McHale visited HuffPost Live on Wednesday, he couldn’t stop gushing about the opportunity.
“I have been such a huge fan of the show and the movies, so to be on set with them was truly surreal and thrilling and fun, and I still can’t believe my good fortune for being on the show,” McHale said. “And the script — it’s Chris Carter, so the script is dynamite, and he’s so nice on set.”
The thing about Uber cars is that technically, you’re supposed to order them. They’re a livery service. But some Uber drivers—many Uber drivers, it seems—in New York City have taken to acting just like the taxis they’re competing against with, have gotten snagged by the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission, and had their vehicles seized.
From the New York Post:
The Taxi and Limousine Commission seized 496 cars currently affiliated with Uber’s bases between April 29 and June 15 for picking up illegal street hails, records show.
Black and livery car drivers are only allowed to do pre-arranged trips, whether it is through a smartphone app or a base dispatch.
Many of the Uber drivers who had their cars seized were doing illegal pickups at JFK Airport.
An Uber spokesman acknowledged that street hails are not permitted by Uber and that these drivers were breaking the rules. Given just a small amount of information it seems likely these guys had just dropped off passengers and were looking for an easy pick-up without turning back to the app.
The Post story gives space for the typical complaints from the taxi industries about Uber service and how they want to institute the same anti-market rules (maximum number of permits, minimum fares) that screw over customers and competition to serve their own benefits.
Charles Clarke entered the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport last February eager to go back to his mother after a months-long visit with relatives. But instead of a quick, easy trip home to Orlando, Clarke lost his life savings — $11,000 in cash — to law enforcement officials who never even proved he committed a crime.
Clarke, a 24-year-old college student, said losing that $11,000 was “devastating.” He’s been forced to live with his mom, trumping his plans to move closer to school. He’s fallen back on other family for financial support. And he had to take out loans for school instead of paying for it up front — for which he’s still in debt. “It’s been a struggle for me,” Clarke, who’s now fighting in court to get his money back, said.
But law enforcement officials may have been working within the confines of the law when they took Clarke’s money. Under federal and state laws that allow what’s called “civil forfeiture,” law enforcement officers can seize someone’s property without proving the person was guilty of a crime; they just need probable cause to believe the assets are being used as part of criminal activity, typically drug trafficking. Police can then absorb the value of this property — be it cash, cars, guns, or something else — as profit: either through state programs, or under a federal program known as Equitable Sharing that lets local and state police get up to 80 percent of the value of what they seize as money for their departments.
So police can not only seize people’s property without proving involvement in a crime, but they have a financial incentive to do so.
It’s these laws that law enforcement officials cited in taking Clarke’s cash, and in seizing thousands of other people’s property across the country.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
What would you do if you found out that your car, truck, van or suv head been towed away by the police who then told you that your auto insurance was fraudulent? To make matters worse, the police tell you that the only way to get your vehicle back is to buy it back at auction.
That’s what happened to Tracy Martin, a custodian in the Detroit area. Martin was enjoying a Detroit Pistons’ basketball game at the Palace on Auburn Hills when she received a phone call from her paralyzed husband, telling her that her truck was being towed away.
When she went to where her truck had been parked, she found a leaflet explaining that her auto insurance she held on the truck was fraudulent. Martin recounts what happened when she called the number on the flyer:
“They said I couldn’t get my vehicle back, I have to wait to get it at auction. Then I talked to someone else who gave me an appointment to talk to a detective, but [he said] my best bet was to be ready to buy it back at auction.”
Tracey Martin’s nightmare started when she shopped around for affordable auto insurance. Unbeknownst to her, the agent she talked to was a scam artist and not a real auto insurance broker. When she obtained the license plate for her truck, she provided a proof of insurance which was then verified by the Michigan Secretary of State’s office. They discovered that her insurance was fraudulent and notified the local police who then located her truck and towed it away.
Martin has virtually exhausted all avenues of trying to recover her truck, but to no avail. She has conceded to the fact that if she wants her truck back, she will have to buy it back from the police department at public auction.
Once again, Fox News forgot to include Sen. Rand Paul in their coverage of a new 2016 presidential poll, even though the senator outperformed other candidates mentioned and the survey cited made Paul a significant part of their original headline.
Quinnipiac released a poll today featuring the headline “Five Leaders In 2016 Republican White House Race, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Rubio, Paul Are Only Republicans Even Close To Clinton.” Yet in Fox News’ coverage, Paul apparently didn’t register enough to justify being shown on the broadcast of the poll.
In the poll, Rand Paul polled at 7 percent, ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz who received 6 percent.
But Cruz was featured in Fox News’ coverage of the poll.
Instead of mentioning Rand Paul’s competitiveness against Hillary Clinton (Paul and Rubio paired better against the former Secretary of State than any other Republicans), Fox left Paul’s name out to focus on lower-tier performers Donald Trump and John Kasich.
For those who are unfamiliar with this tendency of pretending Paul does not exist in Fox News’ poll coverage, two weeks ago, the news channel conducted an in-house poll that pitted 2016 Republican hopefuls against Hillary Clinton. Somehow in their quest for numbers to crunch, the news agency failed to ask poll participants their opinions on a Paul v. Clinton match-up and left him off of their poll completely.
Claiming that most textbooks and popular history books were written by biased left-wing writers and scholars, historian Thomas Woods offers this guide as an alternative to "the stale and predictable platitudes of mainstream texts." Covering the colonial era through the Clinton administration, Woods seeks to debunk some persistent myths about American history. For instance, he writes, the Puritans were not racists intent on stealing the Indians' lands, the Founding Fathers were not revolutionaries but conservatives in the true sense of the word, the American War Between the States (to even call it a civil war is inaccurate, Woods says) was not principally about slavery, Abraham Lincoln was no friend to the slaves, and FDR's New Deal policies actually made the Depression worse. He also covers a wide range of constitutional interpretations over the years, particularly regarding the First, Second, Ninth, and Tenth amendments, and continually makes the point that states' rights have been unlawfully trampled upon by the federal government since the early days of the republic. Though its title is more deliberately provocative than accurate, Woods' attack on what he sees as rampant liberal revisionism over the past 25 years proves to be an interesting platform for a book. He's as biased as those he rails against, of course, but he does provoke thought in an entertaining way even if he sometimes tries to pass off opinion as hard facts.
This quick and enjoyable read is packed with unfamiliar quotes, informative sidebars, iconoclastic viewpoints, and a list of books "you're not supposed to read." It is not a comprehensive or detailed study, but that is not its aim; instead, it offers ideas for further research and a challenge to readers to dig deeper and analyze some basic assumptions about American history--a worthy goal that Woods manages to reach.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Falcon 9 launch on March 1, 2015 as seen from the Melbourne, Florida area.
Monday, June 15, 2015
What a wake-up call. On Saturday night, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne received 85 seconds of incredibly good news: a data chirp from the missing European Space Agency lander Philae. Despite seven months adrift and alone on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko since its bumpy landing last year, Philae is back and ready for science.
“Philae is doing very well – it has an operating temperature of -35 °C and has 24 watts of power available,” said lander manager Stephan Ulamec. “The lander is ready for operations.” Here is what’s next:
Philae has finally made contact, but only intermittently, so the first order of business is establishing a better link. The lander speaks to Earth via the orbiting Rosetta satellite, meaning communication is only possible during certain windows when the spacecraft is overheard.
Philae only transmitted for a minute and a half out of a possible 2-hour window, meaning the link isn’t ideal, and the lander team heard nothing during a broadcast window on Sunday. Reorienting Rosetta should help, said ESA project scientist Matt Taylor.
The mission team was able to download and analyse 300 data packets from Philae during its brief communication on Saturday, but they revealed that over 8000 more are sitting in the lander’s memory awaiting transmission. That suggests Philae has been operational recently but unable to transmit, so downloading this data will give the team clues about what the lander has experienced in the past few days.
The researchers and engineers behind Philae have had months to prepare for the lander’s reawakening, and have been planning sequences of short commands that can be performed quickly without stressing its battery.
Once communications are properly established, the team will upload the commands in the hope of gathering more scientific data about comet 67P.
From the OC Weekly:
The Weekly has received footage from a recent marijuana dispensary raid that appears to show Santa Ana police officers eating pot candy and throwing darts after destroying–or so they thought–all the surveillance cameras inside the cannabis shop.
The video footage shows an officer stuffing something into his mouth and handing something to another cop, who asks him “What flavor?” The officers then laugh. The footage is too grainy to be certain that the item that the officer picks up from the counter of the cannabis shop is in fact a pot edible, although the behavior of the officers suggests this is the case.
Also in the footage: a female police officer joking that she wanted to kick Marla James–a marijuana activist and wheelchair-bound amputee who was present during the raid–in her “nub” . . .
Other footage obtained by the Weekly shows police officers, some of whom are wearing ski masks, battering down the dispensary’s front door and then storming the establishment with guns drawn. The footage also shows the officers using a crowbar to dislodge various surveillance cameras and a DVR machine.
Apparently, Santa Ana just awarded medical marijuana licenses to 20 dispensaries drawn from a lottery. This dispensary was not one of the 20. Hence, the raid. But a judge had also just issued a temporary restraining order in response to a lawsuit from the dispensaries that weren’t chosen. So it’s not entirely clear that this dispensary was breaking the law.
But even if it was, the casual thuggishness and cruelty on display here are really appalling. What justification is there for these cops to destroy the surveillance equipment? And why the face masks and commando tactics? The police department says the video has been edited. But it’s hard to imagine an unedited video that makes this any less outrageous. And if additional video would have provided the context to explain the officers’ behavior, I guess it’s unfortunate for them that they destroyed the other cameras.
If it's not already a maxim, it should be: Every big hack discovered will eventually prove to be more serious than first believed. That’s holding to be especially true with the recently disclosed hack of the federal Office of Personnel Management, the government’s human resources division.
At first, the government said the breach exposed the personal information of approximately four million people—information such as Social Security numbers, birthdates and addresses of current and former federal workers. Wrong.
It turns out the hackers, who are believed to be from China, also accessed so-called SF-86 forms, documents used for conducting background checks for worker security clearances. The forms can contain a wealth of sensitive data not only about workers seeking security clearance, but also about their friends, spouses and other family members. They can also include potentially sensitive information about the applicant’s interactions with foreign nationals—information that could be used against those nationals in their own country.
What’s more, in initial media stories about the breach, the Department of Homeland Security had touted the government’s EINSTEIN detection program, suggesting it was responsible for uncovering the hack. Nope, also wrong.
Although reports are conflicting about how the OPM discovered the breach, it took investigators four months to uncover it, which means the EINSTEIN system failed. According to a statement from the OPM, the breach was found after administrators made upgrades to unspecified systems. But the Wall Street Journal reported today that the breach was actually discovered during a sales demonstration by a security company named CyTech Services (paywall), showing the OPM its forensic product.
There are also some questions now about the number of people affected by the breach. Bloomberg and the Associated Press report that the figure may be closer to 14 million—affecting not only current and federal employees but also military, intelligence and government contractor staff going back to the 1980s. But others are disputing this.
As more information comes out about the kinds of information the hackers accessed, the repercussions could be much graver than anyone thought.
In its statements about the breach, including a phone recording played for any federal worker who calls seeking more information, the OPM has emphasized that it’s offering victims of the breach credit monitoring, a protection usually offered for financial breaches. It’s only confirmed that basic personal information was stolen, such as names, social security numbers, date and place of birth, and current and former addresses.
But in fact, the data accessed by the intruders may be far broader. The 127-page SF-86 forms believed to have been accessed by the hackers also includes financial information, detailed employment histories—with reasons for past terminations included—as well as criminal history, psychological records and information about past drug use.
Federal background checks, after all, are meant to suss out information that might be used by foreign enemies to blackmail a government staffer into turning over classified information. And that stolen information could be used for exactly that extortion purpose, says Chris Eng, a former NSA staffer and now VP of research at the security firm Veracode. If the breached background check information goes beyond the SF-86 form, it could even include detailed personal profiles obtained through polygraph tests, in which employees are asked to confess law breaking and sexual history. ”They write it all down and it goes into your file. If OPM had any of that stuff, it could be super damaging. You’d know exactly who to go after, who to blackmail,” Eng says. “It could be very damaging from a counterintelligence and national security standpoint.”
Friday, June 12, 2015
Gareth Smart, a part-time acting coach in Cache Creek, provided a big treat — and potential spoiler — to X-Files fans around the world on Wednesday when he shared photos of an alien crash site on Facebook.
While a Vancouver crew for the upcoming X-Files miniseries has been busy shooting street scenes involving actors David Duchovny (Fox Mulder) and Gillian Anderson (Dana Scully), another crew has apparently been shooting night scenes in Ashcroft, an hour west of Kamloops.
The set features a flying saucer embedded in the ground.
Ashcroft, with its semi-desert terrain, may be standing in for Roswell, New Mexico, a supposed UFO crash site that is a big part of the X-Files mythology.
A 30-year-old computer that has run day and night for decades is what controls the heat and air conditioning at 19 Grand Rapids Public Schools.
The Commodore Amiga was new to GRPS in the early 1980s and it has been working tirelessly ever since. GRPS Maintenance Supervisor Tim Hopkins said that the computer was purchased with money from an energy bond in the 1980s. It replaced a computer that was “about the size of a refrigerator.”
The computer is responsible for turning the heat and the air conditioners on and off for 19 school buildings.
“The system controls the start/stop of boilers, the start/stop of fans, pumps, [it] monitors space temperatures, and so on,” Hopkins explained.
A Kentwood High School student programmed it when it was installed in the 1980s. Whenever the district has a problem with it, they go back to the original programmer who still lives in the area.
Parts for the computer are difficult to find, Hopkins said. It is on its second mouse and third monitor.
“It’s a very unique product. It operates on a 1200-bit modem,” said Hopkins. “How it runs, the software that it’s running, is unique to Commodore.”
Hopkins said the system runs on a radio frequency that sends a signal to school buildings, which reply within a matter of seconds with the status of each building. The only problem is that the computer operates on the same frequency as some of the walkie-talkies used by the maintenance department.
“Because they share the same frequency as our maintenance communications radios and operations maintenance radios — it depends on what we’re doing — yes, they do interfere,” Hopkins said.
If that happens, “we have to clear the radio and get everyone off of it for up to 15 minutes.”
If the computer stopped working tomorrow, a staff person would have to turn each building’s climate control systems on and off by hand.
A new, more current system would cost between $1.5 and 2 million.
The New Minstrel Revue performs "Donegal Green" at the 2015 Hoggetowne Medival Faire in Gainesville, Florida.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
Last month, Musk petitioned the government to launch up to eight prototype satellites into space. They would be equipped with antennas that would send an Internet signal back down to the earth’s surface.
SpaceX said it wants to start testing out the technology in 2016. The FCC declined to comment on the application because it is currently under review.
You can already get an Internet signal from above. But it requires special hardware. It’s spotty, slow and ludicrously expensive.
SpaceX’s equipment would be closer to the ground than typical satellites, orbiting at around 750 miles above the surface. That allows for tighter light beams and faster Internet than geosynchronous satellites. The downside is a much smaller coverage area.
Eventually, Musk & Co. plan to launch 4,000 satellites in order to serve a meaningful number of customers. To keep costs down, the satellites will be tiny, cheap and disposable.
I’ve never feared for my safety quite like I did yesterday. I have been beaten, kidnapped, and shot at before. I’ve had my gun pointed at a man’s chest when police showed up. I’ve live streamed a riot where drunken lunatics flipped cars and screamed “Fuck the press!”. I’ve been involved in some pretty precarious situations, but none were ever quite so frightening as watching 73 year old Bernie Sanders whip hundreds of radical leftists into a frenzy yesterday in Keene, New Hampshire. That might sound a bit hyperbolic, but I’m dead serious
The Vermont Senator is running for President as a Democrat, and near everyone has dismissed him as a fringe candidate with no chance of winning. He has been referred to by some as “the Ron Paul of the left”. He’s no Ron Paul by any informed person’s measure, but I too thought of him as little more than a political anomaly that could only come from a place like Vermont. Until yesterday, that is.
I’ve never paid much attention to Sanders. In a handful of television appearances, he just seemed like a cagey, quirky guy with some really bad economic ideas. That wasn’t who showed up to the recreation center on Washington Street in Keene yesterday though.
Sanders is actually one of the best orators I’ve ever been in the presence of. He speaks with passion, conviction, and skill. His timing, his change of speed and intonation, and his use of humor, allow him to connect with an audience like very few people can. He’s very personable. Most people don’t call him Senator or Mr. Sanders, they call him Bernie. He approaches everyone with a smile and a humble friendly demeanor, at least, until they challenge him. He’s so good at all of this, that he even manages to charm a considerable number of libertarians who, despite their disagreement with his radical economic agenda, are convinced he at least means well.
He uses that talent to tap into the most vile regions of the human psyche, and stir up that irrational fury that has sent so many societies spiraling into the depths of communism, suffering, and death. To hear him tell it, the solution to all our problems is so simple and obvious that the mind is repelled. The answer? Well, just have the government pay for everything, of course. How to pay for it? By taking money from the wealthiest people in the society. And why wouldn’t we? According to Sanders “we” are the wealthiest nation in the history of mankind, “we” have every bit as much a right to those resources as the people who earned them, why should “we” let “THEM” have exclusive access to all that wealth? That’s his whole entire message “we” should take it from “THEM“, the “millionaires and billionaires” a phrase he throws around as a pejorative, like a racist might use a derogatory epithet.
Unlike his nearer to the center Democratic counterparts, Sanders makes no effort to moderate this message. The concept of private property never even enters the picture for him. There was literally not a single portion of his address yesterday that did not advocate the expansion or creation of some federal program.
First look at Mulder and Scully!
When Harry Crewe's father dies, she leaves her Homeland to travel east, to Istan, the last outpost of the Homelander empire, where her elder brother is stationed.
Harry is drawn to the bleak landscape of the northeast frontier, so unlike the green hills of her Homeland. The desert she stares across was once a part of the great kingdom of Damar, before the Homelanders came from over the seas. Harry wishes she might cross the sands and climb the dark mountains where no Homelander has ever set foot, where the last of the old Damarians, the Free Hillfolk, still live. She hears stories that the Free Hillfolk possess strange powers -- that they work magic -- that it is because of this that they remain free of the Homelander sway.
When the king of the Free Hillfolk comes to Istan to ask that the Homelanders and the Hillfolk set their enmity aside to fight a common foe, the Homelanders are reluctant to trust his word, and even more reluctant to believe his tales of the Northerners: that they are demonkind, not human.
Harry's destiny lies in the far mountains that she once wished to climb, and she will ride to the battle with the North in the Hill-king's army, bearing the Blue Sword, Gonturan, the chiefest treasure of the Hill-king's house and the subject of many legends of magic and mystery.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
This expedition only went as far as my own archives. I have a small form factor Compaq Deskpro that has been in my collection for a number of years. It had Windows 98 installed and I have on occasion used it booted into DOS mode to emulate a disk drive for my Commodore 64 via 64HDD. Just determining the exact model proved to be somewhat of a challenge. I powered it up for the first time in a number of years and the BIOS message on the bottom of the screen identifies it as a Deskpro EN model. It had a 333 MHz Pentium II, 256 MB RAM and still booted into Windows 98 SE. There’s not a lot in the way of extra hardware in this machine and there isn’t room for much. Video and networking are built in and there is a riser card that contains one PCI slot and one PCI/ISA shared slot. The only quick and easy upgrade I could do was to add another 128 MB RAM which I had laying around for a total of 384 MB which I think may be the maximum this motherboard will handle (a 512 MB stick didn’t work). I believe the model of this machine is a Deskpro EN 6333 SFF (the SFF is for Small Form Factor) though information about this particular model seems to be scarce on the internet.
Read more: http://www.megalextoria.com/wordpress/index.php/2015/06/10/digital-archaeology-expedition-2-compaq-deskpro-en-6333-sff/
The New Minstrel Revue performs "The Undressing Song" at the 2015 Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesville, Florida.
Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Social Security overpaid nearly half the people receiving disability benefits over the past decade, according to a government watchdog, raising questions about the management of the cash-strapped program.
In all, Social Security overpaid beneficiaries by nearly $17 billion, according to a 10-year study by the agency’s inspector general.
Many payments went to people who earned too much money to qualify for benefits, or to those no longer disabled. Payments also went to people who had died or were in prison.
Social Security was able to recoup about $8.1 billion, but it often took years to get the money back, the study said.
With the disability program going broke next year, it is especially troubling that Social Security is failing to protect precious taxpayer dollars.
“Every dollar that goes to overpayments doesn’t help someone in need,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. “Given the present financial situation of the Social Security Disability Insurance trust fund, the program cannot sustain billions of dollars lost to waste.”
The trust fund that supports Social Security’s disability program is projected to run out of money late next year, triggering automatic benefit cuts, unless Congress acts. The looming deadline has lawmakers feuding over a solution that may have to come in the heat of a presidential election.
“There was one gunman with a handgun and they chose to turn this house into something that resembles Osama Bin Laden’s compound.”
Leo Lech is more than a little upset, and he is not afraid to express it with colorful language.
After all, the house he purchased for his son now has gaping holes where it once had walls and windows. Past the exposed studs and insulation of the condemned structure, you can see artwork on the wall of a 9-year-old boy’s bedroom.
“In any civilized nation … this is the act of paramilitary thugs,” he says he told the chief of the Greenwood Village Police Department.
The chief, Lech said, brushed it off.
The damage was inflicted by police and SWAT officers who were working to capture Robert Jonathan Seacat, a suspected 33-year-old shoplifter who allegedly barged into a random home Wednesday afternoon, and opened fire on police when they tried to arrest him a short time later.
The incident began Wednesday afternoon, when he was allegedly spotted shoplifting in Aurora. Seacat then drove to a nearby light rail station, where he ditched his car and ran.
Eventually, he ran into Lech’s house on South Alton Street in Greenwood Village, where the 9-year-old boy was inside. Police dispatchers and the child’s mother, who is engaged to Lech’s son, talked the child out of the house.
The boy was unhurt, but the standoff was just beginning.
Seacat wasn’t taken into custody until Thursday morning. The SWAT team said it used chemical agents, flash-bang grenades and a “breaching ram” to end the nearly 20-hour standoff.
“There was obviously some kind of explosive that was fired into here,” Lech said, showing 7NEWS anchor Anne Trujillo the cavernous hole in the wall that used to protect the boy’s bedroom.
Those holes are visible in nearly every room on the second floor.
A neighbor, who says the SWAT team used his home as a base of operations, points out that whatever the police used to blast the holes sent debris flying.
“When they used the explosives to blow apart the side of this house here, they broke our windshield,” the neighbor said.
“There are holes just like this one all through the back of the house too,” Lech said. “They methodically fired explosives into every room in this house in order to extract one person. Granted, he had a handgun, but against 100 officers? You know, the proper thing to do would be to evacuate these homes around here, ensure the safety of the homeowners around here, fire some tear gas through the windows. If that didn’t work, you have 50 SWAT officers with body armor break down the door.”
Lech estimated roughly that his plan would have caused $10,000 in damage, as opposed to the $250,000 in damage he believes he is facing.
This month, the Supreme Court may well deliver a fatal blow to ObamaCare in King vs. Burwell, by ruling that the health insurance subsidies handed out through federal exchanges in 36 states are illegal. Many liberals seem to think that the only thing preventing the president’s crowning domestic achievement from becoming a rip-roaring success is this largely specious and semantic lawsuit. But here’s the thing: ObamaCare is teetering due to its own internal contradictions that have nothing to do with the lawsuit.
ObamaCare’s supporters would like everyone to believe that with Healthcare.gov now functioning, everything is just fine and dandy. Contrary to what the conservative press (which I guess would include me) has been saying about the many problems of ObamaCare, Vox’s Ezra Klein declared last September that “in the real world, it’s working.” In February, his fellow Voxland inhabitant Sarah Kliff rattled off eight ways in which the law had proved its critics wrong.
But has it? Not really.
For starters, the exchanges have enrolled about 3 million fewer people than the Congressional Budget Office projected in 2010. And far fewer of the enrollees are from the ranks of the uninsured than hoped. Medicaid enrollment is lower too, for the simple reason that states refused to expand the program.
The core of President Obama’s sales pitch to America was that the program, which he called the Affordable Care Act, would “bend the health care cost curve” and save an average family $2,500 on their premiums each year. How would it accomplish this feat? Essentially, he said, by forcing uninsured “free loaders” who show up in the emergency room to obtain free care to either buy (subsidized) coverage on the insurance exchange or sign up for the expanded Medicaid program. The point was that if they had coverage, they’d get cheaper care sooner in a doctor’s office rather than more expensive care later in a hospital emergency room.
Things don’t seem to be working out that way. ObamaCare is indeed bending the cost curve — but up, not down. There is no better evidence of this than the recent rate filings by insurance companies.
Every year, companies selling coverage through ObamaCare’s exchanges have to ask state regulators to approve their premiums for the following year — a practice more appropriate for the Soviet Union than an allegedly free-market economy. And this year, according to several news reports, some are requesting increases of over 50 percent.
In New Mexico, market leader Health Care Service Corp. is asking for an average jump of 51.6 percent in premiums for 2016. The biggest insurer in Tennessee, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, has requested an average 36.3 percent increase. In Maryland, market leader CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield wants to raise rates 30.4 percent across its products. Moda Health, the largest insurer on the Oregon health exchange, seeks an average boost of around 25 percent.
Some states are even higher.
No doubt, these are just opening bids that regulators will bargain down. And in some states (such as Michigan, where I live) the hikes are in the high single-digit territory (that this seems like good news is pretty sad in itself). Still, it seems clear, many families are going to end up paying a lot more for their plans than their pockets can stand.
Why is this happening?
There are many reasons: One is that insurers are anticipating the cost of having to absorb pricey drug therapies such as Sovaldi, a new generation cure for Hepatitis C. There is also pent-up demand from the years of economic downturn when people were foregoing care because they couldn’t afford the co-pays and deductibles.
But the biggest culprit by far that companies cite is that the exchange population is weighted too heavily toward riskier and older patients with multiple chronic conditions than what is needed to hold rates steady. Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein reports that carriers needed 40 percent of their enrollees from the crucial 18-to-34 demographic, but they have only 28 percent.
What’s more, these hikes are likely just a prelude to far bigger ones in future years. Why? Because two programs — risk corridor and reinsurance — that were meant to “stabilize” rates in ObamaCare’s first few years so that insurers could obtain the right mix of enrollees are set to expire next year. (The risk corridor program slaps a fee on insurance companies that have lower-than-expected medical losses, and compensates those that have more. The reinsurance program imposes a fee on insurance policies and funnels it to insurers with high-risk individuals.) With these programs gone, the challenge of maintaining a balanced risk pool will become even harder.
When a designer of computer games dies, he leaves behind a program that unravels the Internet's interconnected world. It corrupts, kills, and runs independent of human control. It's up to Detective Peter Sebeck to wrest the world from the malevolent virtual enemy before its ultimate purpose is realized: to dismantle society and bring about a new world order.
Monday, June 8, 2015
The New Minstrel Revue performs "Molly Would You Wait" at he 2015 Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesvile, Florida.
Friday, June 5, 2015
On August 11, 2014, Dillon Taylor walked out of a local Salt Lake City, Utah, convenience store minding his own business. He wasn’t armed. He wasn’t committing a crime. He was listening to music on his headphones, probably in his own world.
Just two days after Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed an unarmed Mike Brown in Ferguson, Taylor would soon face a similar fate at the hands of a local officer. And on October 1, the district attorney in Salt Lake City, Sim Gill, ruled that the killing of 20-year-old Taylor was justified. Even in his determination, though, he stated that “Taylor’s shooting was justified not because he posed an actual threat, but because (Officer) Cruz reasonably perceived a threat.”
Now that the full video has been released, it’s disturbingly clear that nothing about this police shooting was justified.
Without public notice or debate, the Obama administration has expanded the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance of Americans’ international Internet traffic to search for evidence of malicious computer hacking, according to classified NSA documents.
In mid-2012, Justice Department lawyers wrote two secret memos permitting the spy agency to begin hunting on Internet cables, without a warrant and on American soil, for data linked to computer intrusions originating abroad — including traffic that flows to suspicious Internet addresses or contains malware, the documents show.
The Justice Department allowed the agency to monitor only addresses and “cybersignatures” — patterns associated with computer intrusions — that it could tie to foreign governments. But the documents also note that the NSA sought permission to target hackers even when it could not establish any links to foreign powers.
The disclosures, based on documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former NSA contractor, and shared with the New York Times and ProPublica, come at a time of unprecedented cyberattacks on American financial institutions, businesses and government agencies, but also of greater scrutiny of secret legal justifications for broader government surveillance.
While the Senate passed legislation this week limiting some of the NSA’s authority, it involved provisions in the U.S.A. Patriot Act and did not apply to the warrantless wiretapping program.
Government officials defended the NSA’s monitoring of suspected hackers as necessary to shield Americans from the increasingly aggressive activities of foreign governments. But critics say it raises difficult trade-offs that should be subject to public debate.
The NSA’s activities run “smack into law enforcement land,” said Jonathan Mayer, a cybersecurity scholar at Stanford Law School who has researched privacy issues and who reviewed several of the documents. “That’s a major policy decision about how to structure cybersecurity in the U.S. and not a conversation that has been had in public.”
Khairullozhon Matanov is a 24-year-old former cab driver from Quincy, Massachusetts. The night of the Boston Marathon bombings, he ate dinner with Tamerlan and Dhzokhar Tsarnaev at a kebob restaurant in Somerville. Four days later Matanov saw photographs of his friends listed as suspects in the bombings on the CNN and FBI websites. Later that day he went to the local police. He told them that he knew the Tsarnaev brothers and that they’d had dinner together that week, but he lied about whose idea it was to have dinner, lied about when exactly he had looked at the Tsarnaevs’ photos on the Internet, lied about whether Tamerlan lived with his wife and daughter, and lied about when he and Tamerlan had last prayed together. Matanov likely lied to distance himself from the brothers or to cover up his own jihadist sympathies—or maybe he was just confused.
Then Matanov went home and cleared his Internet browser history.
Matanov continued to live in Quincy for over a year after the bombings. During this time the FBI tracked him with a drone-like surveillance plane that made loops around Quincy, disturbing residents. The feds finally arrested and indicted him in May 2014. They never alleged that Matanov was involved in the bombings or that he knew about them beforehand, but they charged him with four counts of obstruction of justice. There were three counts for making false statements based on the aforementioned lies and—remarkably—one count for destroying “any record, document or tangible object” with intent to obstruct a federal investigation. This last charge was for deleting videos on his computer that may have demonstrated his own terrorist sympathies and for clearing his browser history.
Matanov faced the possibility of decades in prison—twenty years for the records-destruction charge alone.
Federal prosecutors charged Matanov for destroying records under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a law enacted by Congress in the wake of the Enron scandal. The law was, in part, intended to prohibit corporations under federal investigation from shredding incriminating documents. But since Sarbanes-Oxley was passed in 2002 federal prosecutors have applied the law to a wider range of activities. A police officer in Colorado who falsified a report to cover up a brutality case was convicted under the act, as was a woman in Illinois who destroyed her boyfriend’s child pornography.
Prosecutors are able to apply the law broadly because they do not have to show that the person deleting evidence knew there was an investigation underway. In other words, a person could theoretically be charged under Sarbanes-Oxley for deleting her dealer’s number from her phone even if she were unaware that the feds were getting a search warrant to find her marijuana. The application of the law to digital data has been particularly far-reaching because this type of information is so easy to delete. Deleting digital data can inadvertently occur in normal computer use, and often does.
In 2010 David Kernell, a University of Tennessee student, was convicted under Sarbanes-Oxley after he deleted digital records that showed he had obtained access to Sarah Palin’s Yahoo e-mail account. Using publicly available information, Kernell answered security questions that allowed him to reset Palin’s Yahoo password to “popcorn.” He downloaded information from Palin’s account, including photographs, and posted the new password online. He then deleted digital information that may have made it easier for federal investigators to find him. Like Matanov, he cleared the cache on his Internet browser. He also uninstalled Firefox, ran a disk defragmentation program to reorganize and clean up his hard drive, and deleted a series of images that he had downloaded from the account. For entering Palin’s e-mail, he was eventually convicted of misdemeanor unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and felony destruction of records under Sarbanes-Oxley. In January 2012, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit found that Kernell’s awareness of a potential investigation into his conduct was enough to uphold the felony charge.
At the time Kernell took steps to clean his computer, he does not appear to have known that there was any investigation into his conduct. Regardless, the government felt that they were entitled to that data, and the court agreed that Kernell was legally required to have preserved it.
Hanni Fakhoury, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the feds’ broad interpretation of Sarbanes-Oxley in the digital age is part of a wider trend: federal agents’ feeling “entitled” to digital data.
Fakhoury compares the broad application of Sarbanes-Oxley in the digital realm to the federal government’s resistance to cellphone companies that want to sell encrypted phones that would prevent law enforcement from being able to access users’ data. When the new encrypted iPhone came out, FBI Director James Comey told reporters that he didn’t understand why companies would “market something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law.”
“At its core,” Fakhoury says, “what the government is saying is, ‘We have to create a mechanism that allows everybody’s [cellphone] data to be open for inspection on the off-chance that one day in the future, for whatever random circumstance, we need to see that data.'”
Similarly, Fakhoury says the government’s underlying theory in cases like Kernell’s is, “Don’t even think about deleting anything that may be harmful to you, because we may come after you at some point in the future for some unforeseen reason and we want to be able to have access to that data.
The employees who kept the data systems humming in the vast Walt Disney fantasy fief did not suspect trouble when they were suddenly summoned to meetings with their boss.
While families rode the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and searched for Nemo on clamobiles in the theme parks, these workers monitored computers in industrial buildings nearby, making sure millions of Walt Disney World ticket sales, store purchases and hotel reservations went through without a hitch. Some were performing so well that they thought they had been called in for bonuses.
Instead, about 250 Disney employees were told in late October that they would be laid off. Many of their jobs were transferred to immigrants on temporary visas for highly skilled technical workers, who were brought in by an outsourcing firm based in India. Over the next three months, some Disney employees were required to train their replacements to do the jobs they had lost.
“I just couldn’t believe they could fly people in to sit at our desks and take over our jobs exactly,” said one former worker, an American in his 40s who remains unemployed since his last day at Disney on Jan. 30. “It was so humiliating to train somebody else to take over your job. I still can’t grasp it.”
The layoffs at Disney and at other companies, including the Southern California Edison power utility, are raising new questions about how businesses and outsourcing companies are using the temporary visas, known as H-1B, to place immigrants in technology jobs in the United States. These visas are at the center of a fierce debate in Congress over whether they complement American workers or displace them.
According to federal guidelines, the visas are intended for foreigners with advanced science or computer skills to fill discrete positions when American workers with those skills cannot be found. Their use, the guidelines say, should not “adversely affect the wages and working conditions” of Americans. Because of legal loopholes, however, in practice companies do not have to recruit American workers first or guarantee that Americans will not be displaced.
Too often, critics say, the visas are being used to import immigrants to do the work of Americans for less money, with laid-off American workers having to train their replacements.
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., has introduced a bill that would force gun owners to have liability insurance or face fines of up to $10,000.
Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a study Thursday claiming there’s no hiatus in global warming. But new satellite-derived temperature measurements show there’s been no global warming for 18 years and six months.
“For 222 months, since December 1996, there has been no global warming at all,” writes climate expert Lord Christopher Monckton, the third viscount Monckton of Brenchley
“This month’s [satellite] temperature – still unaffected by a slowly strengthening el Niño, which will eventually cause temporary warming – passes another six-month milestone, and establishes a new record length for the Pause: 18 years 6 months,” Monckton adds.
E-mails obtained from the Environmental Protection Agency show that Harvard University, Syracuse University and two of their researchers appear to have falsely claimed a study supporting EPA’s upcoming global warming rules was conducted “independent(ly)” of the agency.
In early May, a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change purported to support a key EPA claim about its forthcoming global warming rules aimed at coal-fired power plants. The New York Times’ headline, “EPA Emissions Plan Will Save Thousands of Lives, Study Finds,” typified the media coverage.
Across the media, the authors were innocuously described as simply university-affiliated “researchers.” After all, the researchers had declared they had “no competing financial interests” in their study. Both universities had issued media releases heralding the study as the “first independent, peer-reviewed paper of its kind.”
Study co-author Charles Driscoll of Syracuse University told the Buffalo News, “I’m an academic, not a politician. I don’t have a dog in this fight.” The claim of independence was also emphatically asserted by study co-author Jonathan Buonocore of Harvard University. “The EPA, which did not participate in the study or interact with its authors, Buonocore says, roundly welcomed its findings.”
But a closer look at these claims of independence raises serious doubts.
An online search of EPA’s web site revealed that Syracuse’s Driscoll has previously involved as a principal investigator in studies that received over $3.6 million in research grants from EPA. Co-author Dallas Burtraw, a researcher at the think tank Resources for the Future, had been involved in previous EPA grants totaling almost $2 million. Harvard co-author Jonathan I. Levy had been involved in over $9.5 million worth of grants. Co-author Joel Schwartz, also of Harvard, had been previously involved in over $31 million worth of grants from EPA.
Thursday, June 4, 2015
“A remarkable historical, political, and economic examination of the dollar.” –Booklist
Craig Karmin’s in-depth “biography” of the dollar examines the power of the Federal Reserve, the inner sanctums of foreign central banks that stockpile currency, and the little-known circles of foreign exchange traders who determine a currency’s worth. It’s “a surprisingly entertaining and informative social history of the currency that makes the world economy go round,” says Kirkus Reviews.
“An incredible book that should be required reading for anyone whose future depends on understanding how the dollar is valued and manipulated." –Timothy Ferriss, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek
“An indispensible guide to understanding the way both the U.S. and the world economies work and the dollar’s role in keeping the economic skids greased." –Ram Charan, coauthor of Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done and The Game-Changer
“It’s hard to imagine a more entertaining book on such a vital subject.” –Bloomberg.com
“Craig Karmin’s fortuitously timed Biography of the Dollar argues that the greenback’s recent plunge is more than just a market tumble.”–Portfolio
Advanced open-provide Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, Sega CD, and Master System/Mark III emulator consistent with portions of Genesis Plus/Gens/Picodrive/Mednafen, designed and tested on the distinctive Droid/Milestone, Xoom, Galaxy S2, Nexus A, Nexus I, NVidia Shield, Xperia Tablet zero, and Xperia Play, then again works on just about any tool with similar or upper specs.
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
By a vote of 67-32 the Senate today passed the USA FREEDOM Act, just days after the expiration of key elements of the USA PATRIOT Act. The FREEDOM Act is billed as a reform of the unconstitutional and recently-ruled illegal bulk collection of Americans’ telecommunications, but in fact it is a whole new level of attack on civil liberties.
Here are just a couple of ways the FREEDOM Act is worse than the PATRIOT Act:
1) The recent decision of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the bulk collection of American citizens’ telecommunications information was not authorized by the USA PATRIOT Act means that as of this afternoon, the bulk collection of American citizens’ telecommunications information was an illegal act. The government was breaking the law each time it grabbed our metadata. The moment the FREEDOM is signed by President Obama that same activity will become legal. How is making an unconstitutional and illegal act into a legal one a benefit to civil liberties?
2) The FREEDOM Act turns private telecommunications companies into agents of state security. They will be required to store our personal information and hand it over to state security organs upon demand. How do we know this development is a step in the wrong direction? It is reportedly the brainchild of Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the NSA director at the time! According to press reports, this was but a public relations move to deflect criticism of the bulk collection program. Alexander “saw the move as a way for Obama to respond to public criticism without losing programs the NSA deemed more essential,” reports Homeland Security News.
3) The FREEDOM Act turns private telecommunications companies into depositories of “pre-crime” data for future use of state security agencies. It is a classic authoritarian move for the state to co-opt and subsume the private sector. Once the FREEDOM Act is signed, Americans’ telecommunications information will be retained by the telecommunications companies for the use of state security agencies in potential future investigations. In other words, an individual under no suspicion of any crime and thus deserving full Fourth and Fifth Amendment protection will nevertheless find himself providing evidence against his future self should that person ever fall under suspicion. That is not jurisprudence in a free society.
4) The FREEDOM Act provides liability protection for the telecommunications firms who steal and store our private telecommunications information. In other words, there is not a thing you can do about the theft as long as the thief is a “private” agent of the state.
The acting head of the Transportation Security Administration was reassigned Monday after an internal investigation by the Department of Homeland Security found security failures at dozens of the nation’s busiest airports. The breaches allowed undercover investigators to smuggle weapons, fake explosives and other contraband through numerous checkpoints.
Melvin Carraway, an 11-year veteran of the TSA who became acting administrator in January, was immediately reassigned to a DHS program coordinating with local law enforcement agencies, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said Monday night. Coast Guard Vice Adm. Pete Neffenger’s nomination to be permanent administrator is awaiting Senate confirmation.
Upon learning the initial findings of the Office of Inspector General’s report, Johnson immediately directed TSA to implement a series of other actions, several of which are now in place, agency officials said.
In one case, an alarm sounded, but even during a pat-down, the screening officer failed to detect a fake plastic explosive taped to an undercover agent’s back. In all, so-called “Red Teams” of Homeland Security agents posing as passengers were able get weapons past TSA agents in 67 out of 70 tests — a 95 percent failure rate, according to agency officials.