Monday, October 31, 2016

Sega Visions – February/March 1995

Sega Visions – February/March 1995

Friday, October 28, 2016

‘The X-Files’ season 11 reportedly near renewal

‘The X-Files’ season 11 reportedly near renewal

We don’t think it’s any surprise that Fox wants more of “The X-Files,” given that the revival series early this year generated fantastic ratings and brought nostalgia-craving fans a whole lot of joy. The problem since then has only been one of logistics, given the cast’s busy schedules and also finding the room in the network lineup in order for it to happen.

Luckily, it now appears that we’re inching ever closer to said renewal. Per TVWise, Fox is close to renewing the series for a season 11, and there could be a formal announcement within the upcoming weeks. Creator Chris Carter, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are all apparently set to return, and with an episode order of around ten episodes. This makes some sense, given that Duchovny had said previously that he wanted another season to run longer than the six-episode revival did.

As for when this show could come on the air, this report claims it could be as early as next fall.

Obama’s Silence on Crypto Could Set the Stage For Bad Policies to Come

Obama’s Silence on Crypto Could Set the Stage For Bad Policies to Come

One year ago today, the 100,000th person added their name to a public petition calling on President Obama to categorically reject any attempt to add backdoors to our devices or otherwise undermine encryption.

Since then, crickets.

Obama has promised to reply to petitions on his We the People platform that receive over 100,000 signatures. But the only response our hugely popular petition received was a nonresponse asking for more input.

Since then, the issue has become even more pressing. While the urgency of the Apple encryption battle may have abated, the conversation around forcing tech companies to assist the government in obtaining access to unencrypted data has continued.

Julian Sanchez, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, wrote last month that the misguided Feinstein-Burr proposal—which sought to force tech companies to render unencrypted communications at law enforcement’s request—has been revised by the authors with an intent to find a version they could push through Congress with less opposition. Sanchez wrote: “Their offices have been circulating a series of proposed changes to the law, presumably in hopes of making it more palatable to stakeholders,” and then he detailed the adjustments to the fundamentally flawed proposal.

This should worry anybody who believes in strong digital security and fears attempts to undermine it.

The backdoor issue is part of a larger conversation our country is having about digital security right now. We saw renewed public interest in cybersecurity last week when major websites like Twitter, Amazon, and Paypal suffered outages as their DNS provider Dyn came under a series of DDoS attacks. This highlights how the choices independent corporations make around security can have huge ramifications for the general public. We now know that the attacks last week were at least partially reliant on the security choices made by companies like Hangzhou Xiongmai, whose default settings made it trivial for their products to be taken over and turned into a zombie hoard that helped take down some of the Web’s favorite sites. In light of this demonstration of how poor security can cripple core Internet services, it’s even more important that the U.S. government champion best practices. We need the Administration to be leading our country along the path of strong security practices, uncompromised crypto, and engineering design that’s resistant to attack.

EFF, Access Now, and others sent a letter to the president today, urging him again to respond to the 100,000 individuals who spoke out in defense of encryption. As we explain in our letter, the world is watching the United States to see how we’ll address this issue:

Around the world, governments have capitalized on the lack of leadership in support for encryption and implemented harmful laws and policies. China specifically cited to the rhetoric in the U.S. last December when it passed a new law that likely bans end to end encryption, with no upper limit on fines for non-compliant companies. The UK is on the fringe of passing a law that would, practically, have the same impact. And from Brazil to Russia to India we are seeing other actions that will undermine the security of the global Internet.

Obama has tried to paint himself as a tech-savvy president who champions civil liberties. As he prepares to leave office in a few months, he has a golden opportunity to stand up for digital security. That means doing more than quietly indicating he wouldn’t support a backdoor bill; it means affirmatively describing a policy of the federal government that doesn’t seek to undermine encryption.

Over 100,000 people have been waiting for Obama’s leadership on this vital issue for a year now. His continued silence on the matter could leave open questions about how and when the Justice Department will seek future methods of undermining our security. But a strong statement from the White House today could ensure his Justice Department stops its nonsensical and short-sighted war on secure communications. It will also set the right standard for the next president to take office.

We’re all counting on you, Mr. President.

Source: Obama’s Silence on Crypto Could Set the Stage For Bad Policies to Come | Electronic Frontier Foundation

AT&T requires police to hide Hemisphere phone spying

AT&T requires police to hide Hemisphere phone spying

AT&T built a powerful phone surveillance tool for police, called Hemisphere. Every day, AT&T adds four billion call records to Hemisphere, making it one of the largest known reservoirs of communications metadata that the government uses to spy on us. Law enforcement officials kept Hemisphere “under the radar” for many years—hidden from courts, legislators, and the general public—until the New York Times exposed the program in 2013. EFF sued federal and state law enforcement officials to obtain records about Hemisphere, in part to better understand how and why police kept such a massive spying database secret for so long.

New documents published by The Daily Beast earlier this week reveal that AT&T required this corrosive secrecy. Specifically, the contract AT&T prepared for police seeking access to Hemisphere provides:

[T]he Government agency agrees not to use the data as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceedings unless there is no other available and admissible probative evidence. The Government Agency shall make every effort to insure that information provided by the Contractor is non-attributable to AT&T if the data isprovided to a third-party.

In other words, the first rule of Hemisphere is: you do not talk about Hemisphere. We knew this is the government’s rule. Now we know this is AT&T’s rule, too.

What do police do with the Hemisphere evidence that they cannot talk about? According to a Hemisphere training document, police must “wall off” that evidence, and then recreate it with a traditional subpoena. Police call this “parallel construction.” EFF calls it “evidence laundering.”

The harms of secrecy

This secrecy—imposed by AT&T—is highly disturbing for many reasons. Three deserve emphasis.

First, this secrecy hides Hemisphere from democratic oversight. Hemisphere enables police to map our intimate social relationships by data-mining massive amounts of our call records, usually without a warrant. Yet because of Hemisphere’s secrecy, judges cannot rule on whether the program violates the Fourth Amendment. Legislators cannot oversee the program and enact appropriate legislation. Voters cannot hold their elected officials accountable. Everyone is in the dark, except for a small number of law enforcement and corporate executives, who unilaterally decided to impose this highly intrusive program on the rest of us.

Second, this secrecy deprives criminal defendants of their constitutional right to a fair trial. Under Brady v. Maryland, police must disclose favorable evidence to the defense. When police hide their sources of evidence, the accused cannot challenge the quality or veracity of the government’s investigation, or seek out favorable information still in the government’s possession. Moreover, hiding evidence from individuals who are prosecuted as a result of such surveillance is antithetical to our fundamental right to an open criminal justice system.

Third, the new revelation clarifies AT&T’s role in the Hemisphere program. AT&T suggests that all it is doing is passively responding to lawful government demands for information about its customers. In fact, AT&T actively imposes secrecy on police who wish to use AT&T’s Hemisphere program. AT&T’s motives for imposing this secrecy are not presently known. Perhaps AT&T is seeking to avoid public scrutiny of its Hemisphere business model, which earns millions of dollars from police officials in exchange for access to private phone records that AT&T retains for many years longer than its competitors do.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time that police and corporations worked together to hide from the public their deployment of highly invasive spying tools. For example, corporate nondisclosure agreements contributed to years of secrecy about police use of cell site simulators, often called “Stingrays,” which masquerade as cell phone towers and thus force all phones in the area to disclose sensitive information to the police.

Next steps

We must fully expose Hemisphere to the light of public scrutiny. EFF has used public records laws to uncover many Hemisphere records, and we will add any other documents we obtain to our public library of Hemisphere records.

Looking forward, we must stop the police and their corporate suppliers from unilaterally and secretly deploying new surveillance technologies in the first place. Rather, the decision whether to adopt these sensitive tools should be made by elected officials, at open meetings, following ample opportunity for the general public to study the matter and have their voices heard. EFF supports a national campaign to enact laws requiring this process. In many cases, an informed citizenry and their elected officials will say “no” to new spying tools. In other cases, elected officials will impose necessary privacy safeguards.

AT&T and the police tried to keep Hemisphere secret. They failed. The time has come to end the Hemisphere program. As a matter of constitutional law and basic privacy principles, the police should not be allowed, without case-by-case judicial oversight, to scrutinize our social relationships with a database of trillions of phone records.

Source: AT&T requires police to hide Hemisphere phone spying | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Gary Johnson is best option for president

Gary Johnson is best option for president

Have the standards of our country lowered as far as they possibly can? Are we as citizens actually considering electing Hillary Clinton, a smug individual who acts as if she is above the law, or Donald Trump, a high-strung abuser of women who is a borderline racist?

Instead, I will support a candidate who wants to do the following:

  • Lower taxes and balance the budget.
  • Get our military out of the Middle East and stop being the policeman of the world.
  • Allow illegal immigrants to get work visas and pay taxes.
  • Have a bipartisan Cabinet and get Congress to work with each other.
  • Gary Johnson is a two-time Republican governor in a heavily Democratic state. He cut taxes 14 times and still left the state with a billion dollar surplus.

He wants to deschedule marijuana as a class 1 narcotic so all the proper medical studies can be done. He wants to repeal Obamacare.

He wants to increase free-market trade, which results in the decreased price of products and services. Plus, he isn’t dogged by scandal.

Waste your vote on Clinton or Trump. I’m voting for honesty and integrity.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Amiga Computing: U.S. Edition – July 1995

Amiga Computing: U.S. Edition – July 1995

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Americans Are Embracing Bad Government Because They Don’t Know History

Americans Are Embracing Bad Government Because They Don’t Know History

Americans Are Embracing Bad Government Because They Don't Know History

Recent news has proudly informed us that U.S. graduation rates are rising. Unfortunately, rising grad rates don’t tell the whole story.

If one truly wants to know how American students are doing in school, a look at the Nation’s Report Card might offer a better picture. Those numbers tell us that not even half of America’s high school seniors are proficient in any subject. The area they rank the worst in? U.S. History.

The fact that only 12 percent of U.S. high school seniors are proficient in history was recently reflected in another survey put out by YouGov. That survey asked Americans of all ages how familiar they were with famous leaders, many of whom were prominent Communist leaders from the last century. As the chart below shows, a number of millennials described themselves as “unfamiliar” with these leaders.

Perhaps that’s also why these same millennials were unfamiliar with the number of people killed under Communist leadership. In fact, 32 percent of millennials and gen-Xers believed that more people were killed under George W. Bush during his time in office than were killed during Joseph Stalin’s time in power.

But so what, right? History is a boring subject full of old, privileged white men. Does it matter if the current generation of students have no clue whether or not one leader killed more people than another from a rival government?

According to Thomas Jefferson, it certainly does. In 1807 he wrote, “History, in general, only informs us what bad government is.”

In other words, if we expect our nation to stay on a straight course, then we need to make sure our students have a clear knowledge of governments throughout history – what worked and what didn’t.

Is it possible that our nation is in its current state because recent generations have not learned the lessons which past empires and nations teach us through the history books?

This first appeared at Intellectual Takeout.

Annie Holmquist

Annie Holmquist

Annie is a research associate with Intellectual Takeout. In her role, she writes for the blog, conducts a variety of research for the organization's websites and social media pages, and assists with development projects. She particularly loves digging into the historical aspects of America's educational structure.


This article was originally published on Read the original article.

It’s Time for Answers on Yahoo’s Email Scanning

It’s Time for Answers on Yahoo’s Email Scanning

You should know if the government thinks it can deputize your email provider to scan through your messages.

Like most people, we were shocked at reports earlier this month that Yahoo scanned its hundreds of millions of users’ emails looking for a digital signature on behalf of the government. We join millions of Yahoo users in wanting to know how this happened.

Together with a host of other civil liberties groups – including the Center for Democracy and Technology, the ACLU, and the Sunlight Foundation – we sent a letter today asking Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to release information about the scanning, how the U.S. government justified such a privacy-invasive search, and whether the government has conducted similar searches.

The letter warns that Yahoo’s “massive scan of the emails of millions of people, particularly if it involves the scanning of email content, could violate the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act], the Fourth Amendment, and international human rights law, and has grave implications for privacy.”

Although the letter calls on the government to release additional details about the Yahoo scanning order, a recent law passed by Congress requires its declassification and release, or, alternatively, that the government produce a declassified summary.

It’s crucial that Clapper follow through on his pledge for transparency and release information about how the U.S. government justified the email scanning under FISA, as has been reported. We need to know whether the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has interpreted FISA – which authorizes targeted surveillance of certain foreigners’ (such as spies or terrorists) communications  – to mean that the government can conscript Yahoo into mass surveillance of all of its users’ emails.

The letter also calls on Clapper to acknowledge whether the scan also involved scanning the content of the emails, disclose the kinds of search terms used in this surveillance, and to identify when this kind of surveillance first started and the total numbers of times an order like this has been used.

Gary Johnson: Voting for Trump or Clinton Is Voting for Tyranny

Gary Johnson: Voting for Trump or Clinton Is Voting for Tyranny

Gary Johnson is the former Governor of New Mexico and the 2016 Libertarian candidate for president.

They promote power and control instead of freedom and liberty

I think most Americans would agree that liberty and freedom are the founding principles that guided this country’s formation. I think most Americans would say that power and control are a necessary part of living together in common. What’s needed is a balance among those concepts. How much should we give? How much should we get in return? If I let you take control of this, then what am I going to be able to do or get in exchange for giving that up?

Freedom and liberty.

Power and control.

For quite a while it seemed as if we had that balancing act down pretty damn good. We became a model for others to follow who wanted their own taste of freedom. We stepped in as needed to defeat imperialism, fascism, Nazism and various other aggressors who were anti-liberty. We were that proverbial beacon on the hill, that shining light.

What happened? How did we get here?

How did we end up defeating tyranny from without, only to replace it with an encroaching tyranny from within?

I don’t think America has lost its way; but I do believe there are those among us who would lead us astray.

Why do they want to do that? For many of the reasons I stated above—mostly, putting self-interest and the needs and desires of a few ahead of the common good.

Ultimately, the two major party candidates for the presidency—Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton tip the scales in favor of power and control, and against freedom and liberty.

How bad has it gotten? Not to the point where irreparable harm has been done, but far enough that we can’t let things go on like this any longer.

Common-sense principles applied to serving the common good: this is how we can restore our balance.

What frightens me is this: the imbalance between power and control, on one hand, and freedom and liberty, on the other, has become so obvious that only 19 percent of the American people trust their government to do what’s best for them. How are they going to feel when they have to choose between two candidates who have already demonstrated that they are politically and temperamentally authoritarian?

We don’t have to guess. We know.

How do we know? Because you are telling us right now in the polls. Not only that, you’re sharing your dissatisfaction on street corners, in bars, on Twitter, on Facebook, on other social media, on traditional media, on your smartphones, on your home phones, on radio talk shows, in your blogs, online, in line,24/7, seven days a week, twice on Sundays, with your friends, family and strangers. Some of you are shouting, some are whispering, some are swearing, some are crying.

And you know what?

I don’t believe that Donald and Hillary are even listening. They might be hearing some sort of indistinguishable rumble, but they aren’t really listening to you. They’re too busy devising strategies to get you to listen to them, to get you under their control. And it should come as no surprise that so few of us believe that our public officials are listening to us. By one measure, only 24% of Americans believe that public officials are truly listening and responsive. And I’m not talking about the National Security Agency here. I’m talking about listening to us, not listening in on us.

Why are those rumblings out there? Because you don’t want to give them the control they want to take from you. You like your freedom, and you’re not going to give it up without a fight. That’s why things have gotten so nasty in our public discourse. Someone is trying to take from you something you love and treasure. You’re not going to hand it over quietly. You’re going to kick and scream.

Looked at from that perspective, is it any wonder there’s so much name-calling and mudslinging and finger-pointing and calling out this one’s bankruptcies and that one’s e-mails?

And now that we’re getting down to the end, people are even angrier and more dissatisfied. Why? Because while we have a multiplicity of choices in other spheres of life, our freedom and liberty are being limited by a system that has reduced our political choices to two: Republican or Democrat.

When I look into a future America shaped by a President Trump, I see a border wall. I see massive deportations. I see a sweeping ban on Muslim immigration and loyalty oaths required of all new immigrants. I see women going to jail for having abortions. I see mourning Muslim women ridiculed based on offensive stereotypes about their faith?” I see brutal police crackdowns on inner-city youth. I also see a cozy relationship with the world’s leading authoritarian, Vladimir Putin. (Well, I see that with Hillary Clinton too.) This is authoritarianism of the right, presenting itself as a defense of law and order and traditional values.

What about a future under President Hillary Clinton? Not looking very rosy. Here’s a brief list of how she’s exposed herself as an authoritarian who knows better than you do how to live your life:
  1. Gun control with no regard for the 2nd
  2. No fly lists and other examples of charges being levied against you with no means to respond to them.
  3. Crony capitalism. When business and the state get together, they produce crony capitalism. The cries against the Clinton / Wall Street alliance aren’t just some people crying wolf. The perception is that one hand washes the other. You only need to wash your hands when they’re dirty.
  4. Tighter regulation and intrusion. As a Democratic senator from New York, Mrs. Clinton lead the charge to federally regulate the video game industry. According to her, the game Grand Theft Auto was a “major threat to morality.”
How do you know an Authoritarian when you see one?
  • Claims of Moral Superiority.
  • Restraint of trade.
  • Calls for greater regulation.
  • The nanny state
All of that sounds like authoritarianism to me—an authoritarianism of the left. I know what’s best for your kids. We’ll keep you safe from bad influences.

But what do I know? I’ll wait for someone to tell me what to think and believe.

Sarcasm off.

Excerpted from Common Sense for the Common Good: Libertarianism as the End of Two-Party Tyranny, copyright © 2016 by Gary E. Johnson. First edition published Sept. 27, 2016, by Broadside, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

Source: Gary Johnson: Voting for Trump or Clinton Is Voting for Tyranny | TIME

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tech analysis of emails leaves us wondering how Donna Brazile is still working at the DNC

Tech analysis of emails leaves us wondering how Donna Brazile is still working at the DNC

Ever since John Podesta’s emails revealed that interim DNC chair Donna Brazile had sent at least one debate question to Hillary Clinton’s team in advance she has denied the charges. Of course, that’s not exactly the case. Nobody seems to have been able to get Donna to say that she didn’t do it. She simply tells us that she won’t be persecuted, while implying that the Russians altered the emails. But could the hackers have done that even if they wished?

A new analysis of the suspicious email in question has revealed that not only are the emails likely valid, but it would be nearly impossible for them to have been altered in the way Brazile is suggesting. First we are reminded of the flat denial which Brazile made to Megyn Kelly on Fox when the question was put to her. (Fox News)

“I have seen so many doctored emails. I have seen things that come from me at 2 in the morning that I don’t even send,” she said, adding, “I will not sit here and be persecuted, because your information is totally false.”

But as the test results show, Brazile is flat out lying yet again.

DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) is a system employed by many email servers, including, to verify emails to recipients and avoid spam filters. The system sends a DKIM “key” to the receiver to verify the sender and confirm the email hasn’t been tampered with.

Consequently, bloggers ran the DKIM keys included in this and other emails through verification software, which in turn validated the Palmieri email as both real and undoctored. The Daily Caller also ran a similar test and got the same result.

In a blog post for Errata Security, cybersecurity expert Robert Graham presented his results, and showed that if the emails had been altered in any way, the software would have declared the email unverified.

You can certainly edit the text of an email message before passing it along if you wish, but other copies of it on various servers would quickly put the lie to your claims if such were available. This, however, is far more damning. Unless somebody at the DNC can show a method whereby the identifying keys can be thwarted, these emails are real and unaltered. And if that’s the case, then Donna Brazile is continuing to lie to the American people about her illicit activities during the primary.

Mediaite pointed out how Brazile is a symptom of a much larger problem… one which undermines the faith of the voters not just in elections, but in the media which covers them.

The problem is that she is just the tip of the iceberg to the wider media lie; that the conversation you’re seeing on air about the candidates’ policies (which is rare), backgrounds, and aptitude for office is being delivered by neutral arbiters and journalists.

That’s as big of a lie as Donald Trump cherishing women.

Brazile is joined by a long list of phony “analysts” and “strategists”—as well as anchors and reporters—who were clearly in-the-tank for Hillary Clinton all along.

While I agree with the general point being made, that’s a bit of a soft sell. Saying that Brazile was “in the tank” for Clinton could leave one with the impression that she was simply a supporter and fan while offering a false veneer of neutrality. The interim DNC chair did much more than that. She actively conspired with a willing member of the media to cheat the voters in a presidential primary debate. And for the record I will once again ask the obvious question here: What are the odds that hackers gaining access to only one set of emails on John Podesta’s account uncovered the only instance of the media cheating the system to help out a Democratic candidate?

Super Scope 6

Super Scope 6

Monday, October 24, 2016

Law Enforcement Is Useless against Cyber Attacks

Law Enforcement Is Useless against Cyber Attacks

Law Enforcement Is Useless against Cyber Attacks

In the last days of the election season, vast swaths of the internet shut down in the United States. It was the result of a DDoS attack on a single company, Dyn, that manages a large part of the internet’s infrastructure. A DDoS attack can be brutal and difficult to stop, because it deploys bots implanted in vast numbers of hacked machines to hammer servers with database calls, too many to sustain. The result is a crash. This one affected everyone’s favorite websites.

For reasons of realpolitik, Ecuador wants nothing bad to happen that would worsen its relationship with the US.What’s the election got to do with it? Here’s where there are layers within layers. Wikileaks was busy pouring out private emails of Hillary Clinton, with material that could hurt her election chances. Just after the latest round of revelations, the founder and head of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, who lives in sanctuary in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, had his internet cut off.

Why would the government of Ecuador decide to take this action against a man it is sheltering from prosecution in its own embassy? It has to do with the politics and economics of Ecuador. The ruling regime, which has a tense relationship with the US, absolutely opposes the election of Trump. If the Wikileaks revelations were designed to help Trump – possibly at the behest of the Russian government – Ecuador has a problem. For reasons of realpolitik, Ecuador wants nothing bad to happen that would worsen its relationship with the US.

Ecuador Needs Trade

The DDoS attack was the response by the hacker community.And this is because of declining commodity prices, particularly oil. The Ecuadorian economy is faltering badly. The government looks to a better trading relationship with the US as a way out. That is far more likely to happen under Clinton than Trump. Ecuador’s actions against Assange were a message to Wikileaks: stop releasing unflattering information on the candidate who stands the best chance of improving relations with the US.

The DDoS attack was the response by the hacker community. Julian had been bonked on the nose and the hackers rose up and said: back off. The attack sent the message: don’t mess with the freedom of information or else we’ll unplug the motor of the world. (Here is some more detail about the complexities.)

That’s some movie-like drama, don’t you think? In any case, I find it fascinating. As much as I despise this kind of invasion of people’s property and the disruption of information flows, that a distributed hacker community could cause all this chaos with the push of a button is impressive in its own right.

What To Do

The idea that any company such as Dyn should rely on government to fix its problems is preposterous.Now to the key question: what is to be done about the vulnerabilities that have granted hackers so much power over our lives? Here’s what the New York Times reports: “A spokeswoman said the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security were looking into the incident and all potential causes, including criminal activity and a nation-state attack.”

Which is something of a joke. Law enforcement in this case is in the position of being a spectator. The idea that any company such as Dyn should rely on government to fix its problems is preposterous. Everyone knows it. The way toward a less vulnerable Internet infrastructure is through more innovation.

Most every website of medium-to-high traffic has dealt with these sorts of attacks. After, you dig through the logs, you isolate possible holes and fix them. You build in a greater degree of server redundancy. You strengthen security to fend off unusual patterns of site traffic. There is no perfect solution, and the hackers work to stay one step ahead of you. And the process is ongoing.

Distributed Attacks, Distributed Solutions

Cyberattacks use private infrastructure to hide malicious activity within an ocean of  legitimate usage.There are other aspects to the solution that involve better and more secure operating systems that prevent them from being drafted into the hacker armies of drones that exist all over the world. That’s a slow solution because average users are absolutely terrible about maintaining the security of their machines, and they keep these machines for years after they have already been compromised.

Cyberattacks use private infrastructure to hide malicious activity within an ocean of  legitimate usage. People forget that the internet is made of physical things, and those things are privately owned and highly complex. You can’t just inject guns in the situation to stop attacks. Securing them requires on-the-ground expertise from specialists hired by the owners and managers.

Therefore, there is nothing that some centralized agency of law enforcement can do about this problem. They can do press releases. They can threaten and denounce. They can pass laws and inflict punishment whenever some bad actor falls into their hands, punishing malice of the past. But beyond that, the problem of security on the Internet of today and tomorrow will always rely on private companies trying their best to outwit the bad guys trying to disrupt their business models.

This is not about ideology. It’s about reality. Our security depends on market forces, not government.

Jeffrey Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education and CLO of the startup Author of five books, and many thousands of articles, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events. His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World.  Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook. Email

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Johnson only reasonable choice for president

Johnson only reasonable choice for president

IN LIGHT OF recent allegations regarding Donald Trump’s past, many Ohioans are looking for an alternative to supporting the Republican nominee for president.

Former New Mexico governor, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, left, stands with his vice presidential running mate, former Massachusetts governor William Weld.

As much as Hillary Clinton is attempting to seize on the sordid allegations, the fact is that for any voter who prioritizes fiscal discipline, limited government, civil liberties, and a less hawkish foreign policy, she is not it. For these Ohio voters, there is only one rational choice for president — former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Unlike other third-party candidates for president, Mr. Johnson is on the ballot in all 50 states.

He polls especially well in western states, parts of New England and Virginia, and he pulls about evenly from both the Democratic and Republican nominees.

…if voters support him, it will accomplish two things. First, they will have cast their ballots in good conscience for a candidate they do not actively mistrust and dislike. Second, they will — by refusing to support either of the deeply flawed candidates put forward by the major parties — be sending both the Democratic and Republican establishments in Washington a clear message: We will not be taken for granted, you have to work to earn our votes, and never again must you believe it is acceptable to nominate such abjectly awful individuals for the most powerful and important job in the entire world.

(Gary Johnson) earned excellent ratings from the fiscally conservative Cato Institute for his governance of New Mexico in every year he was assessed, consistently outranking the majority of the other governors.

Unlike Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Governor Johnson does not believe that America is made safer by conducting mass surveillance on hundreds of millions of ordinary Americans, and he would not do it as president.

Unlike Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump, Governor Johnson has never operated on the naive presumption that if the U.S. plays nice with Vladimir Putin’s regime, American foreign policy goals or world peace will be furthered.

Mr. Johnson is the only candidate who supports a broad range of criminal justice reforms, including with regard to flawed drug laws, and is of the three candidates the most long-standing supporter of government recognizing same-sex marriages.

Mr. Johnson never raised taxes as governor — not once — and exercised his veto power repeatedly to quash ill-conceived schemes that would cost taxpayers dearly while delivering up dubious value to the people of his state.

Unlike our leaders in Washington, Governor Johnson balanced the budget every year he was in office — something Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have shown no capacity for doing. The independent fiscal-responsibility group the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says Mrs. Clinton would increase the deficit by $200 billion over 10 years, adding to our actual national debt and costing you and me more money.

The group says Mr. Trump would increase the deficit by a full $5.3 trillion over 10 years — a massive debt load to be added to our existing $19 trillion debt. These are not sane or sound proposals, and they do not come from serious people.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Microsmiths – TxEd (Amiga)

Microsmiths – TxEd (Amiga)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Gary Johnson’s Refreshing Foreign Policy Skepticism

Gary Johnson’s Refreshing Foreign Policy Skepticism

One of the few appealing aspects of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has been his criticism of Hillary Clinton’s reckless interventionism. But the bellicose billionaire combines that criticism with promises of a gratuitous military buildup, a casual attitude toward the use of American weapons, and a disturbing tendency to view trade and immigration as acts of war.

To get a sense of what a more disciplined, consistent, and thoughtful critique of Clintonian warmongering sounds like, listen to Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee for president. Notwithstanding the popular portrayal of Johnson as a foreign policy ignoramus based on his embarrassing “Aleppo moments,” the former New Mexico governor offers a bracing alternative to Clinton’s supposedly sophisticated yet consistently careless embrace of violence as a tool for reshaping the world.

Again and again as first lady, senator, and secretary of state, from Serbia to Syria, Clinton has supported military interventions that had nothing to do with national defense. Mindful of the damage done by the promiscuous use of America’s armed forces, Johnson promises a different approach: When in doubt, stay out.

“As president,” Johnson said in a recent speech at the University of Chicago, “I would not need to be talked out of dropping bombs and sending young men and women into harm’s way. I would be the president who would have to be convinced it is absolutely necessary to protect the American people or clear U.S. interests. I will be the skeptic in the room.”

Like Trump, Johnson bemoans the disastrous consequences, in squandered lives and resources as well as instability conducive to terrorism, of the Clinton-supported war in Iraq. The fact that Clinton voted for that war and took more than a decade to admit it was a mistake—a mistake from which she apparently learned nothing, given her subsequent support for regime change in Libya and Syria—demonstrates that foreign policy knowledge is not synonymous with wisdom.

Johnson’s criticism of unnecessary foreign entanglements goes beyond Trump’s by highlighting the folly of the never-ending war in Afghanistan. “We were attacked, and we attacked back,” he says. “But seven months after we sent our troops to Afghanistan, Al Qaeda had scattered to the winds and the Taliban had been removed from power. Al Qaeda was gone, but we stayed.” Fourteen years later, thousands of U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan.

While Trump thinks the U.S. should be reimbursed for the cost of defending other countries, Johnson argues that defending other countries is not the U.S. military’s job. “The U.S. military exists, first and foremost, to defend the United States and U.S. vital interests,” he says. “We should expect other countries to defend themselves and their interests.”

Neither Trump Nor Clinton Understands What the Supreme Court Is Supposed to Do

Neither Trump Nor Clinton Understands What the Supreme Court Is Supposed to Do

The next president will appoint at least one and perhaps as many as three Supreme Court justices, who in turn will have a decisive impact on the Court’s jurisprudence for decades. But last night’s presidential debate revealed that neither of the major-party candidates understands what Supreme Court justices are supposed to do.

Moderator Chris Wallace started the discussion off on the wrong foot by asking the candidates where they “want to see the Court take the country,” implying that justices are legislators in black robes, pursuing a policy agenda instead of deciding the controversies that come before them. Both candidates seemed to agree with that premise.

Donald Trump promised that “the justices that I’m going to appoint will be pro-life” and will therefore vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that discovered a right to abortion in the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause. There are good reasons to think Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, or at least that its constitutional rationale left much to be desired. But a justice’s personal views on abortion are logically and legally distinct from the issue of Roe‘s soundness. A conscientious justice strives to separate his policy preferences from the question of what the Constitution allows or requires.

 Even if you think abortion should be banned, it does not necessarily follow that the Constitution allows states to ban it. And even if you think abortion should be legal, it does not necessarily follow that the Constitution prohibits states from banning it. A justice who ignores these distinctions is writing law instead of applying it.

Hillary Clinton also promised to appoint justices who will help her achieve the policies she favors, which include speech restrictions that protect politicians like her from criticism close to an election. Clinton said her Supreme Court picks “will stand up and say no to Citizens United, a decision that has undermined the election system in our country because of the way it permits dark, unaccountable money to come into our electoral system.”

Clinton neglected to mention, as she always does when discussing Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that the case involved a movie that made her look bad. The Court concluded that a conservative group organized as a nonprofit corporation had a First Amendment right to present Hillary: The Movie on pay-per-view TV while Clinton was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. Presumably Clinton disagrees. But instead of explaining why, she says the decision should be overturned because “it permits dark, unaccountable money to come into our electoral system.” Clinton worries that these dastardly dollars are “drowning out the voices of ordinary Americans and distorting our democracy.” But that is not a constitutional argument. Even if Clinton were right about the baleful impact of Citizens United, it would not follow that the First Amendment permits the sort of self-serving censorship she favors.

In addition to promising Supreme Court justices who agree with her that suppressing Hillary: The Movie was consistent with freedom of speech, Clinton said her picks would “stand on the side of the American people, not on the side of the powerful corporations and the wealthy.” That sounds like she thinks the Court should be biased against big businesses and rich people, a position that cannot be reconciled with the constitution or the statutes that the justices are charged with interpreting and applying. The law is supposed to provide equal protection to all Americans, regardless of their income or wealth.

Clinton is also wrong when she says “the Supreme Court should represent all of us.” That is what a democratically elected legislature is supposed to do. A court is supposed to apply the law, a function that does not cater to constituencies or dole out favors based on political considerations.

Hillary Clinton’s & Barack Obama’s E-mails — WikiLeaks Reveals John Podesta’s Concern

Hillary Clinton’s & Barack Obama’s E-mails — WikiLeaks Reveals John Podesta’s Concern

Among the most noteworthy of the hacked e-mails from John Podesta’s accounts is an exchange in which Podesta consults Clinton consigliere Cheryl Mills about the private e-mail exchanges between President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

As readers may recall, I have long maintained (see here and here) that the principal reason why Mrs. Clinton was not prosecuted, despite a mountain of evidence that she committed felony mishandling of classified information, is the fact that Obama engaged in the same kind of misconduct. The president’s use of a private, non-secure channel to discuss sensitive matters with high level officials may not have been systematic, as Mrs. Clinton’s was. (Obama’s disturbing use of an alias, however, suggests that Clinton was not the only one he was privately e-mailing.) Nevertheless, the fact that the president was e-mailing Clinton means he not only participated in her misconduct but also that the Obama-Clinton e-mails would have been admissible evidence in any criminal trial of Clinton.

For the parties to prove such culpable conduct on the president’s part in a high-profile criminal trial would have been profoundly embarrassing to him, to say the least. Therefore, it was never going to happen. As I’ve noted before, after exclaiming, “How is that not classified?” upon being shown an Obama-Clinton e-mail by the FBI, Hillary’s confidant Huma Abedin asked agents if she could have a copy of the exchange. She obviously realized that if Obama had been communicating on Clinton’s non-secure server system, no one else who had done so was going to be prosecuted for it.

We now know that Podesta was very concerned about the Obama-Clinton e-mails and turned to Mills for advice. His succinct e-mail to Mills is dated March 4, 2015 (at 8:41 p.m.), and he entitled it “Special Category.” He stated:

Think we should hold emails to and from potus? That’s the heart of his exec privilege. We could get them to ask for that. They may not care, but I [sic] seems like they will.

Plainly, Podesta was suggesting to Mills that the Obama-Clinton e-mails were in a “special category” — i.e., distinct from the tens of thousands of other Clinton e-mails — because they involved the president. Only the president has power to invoke executive privilege, and Podesta believed such invocation would legitimately cover a communication between Obama and his secretary of state, since such consultations are “the heart of” the privilege recognized by the Supreme Court in United States v. Nixon. (I think he was wrong about that, but that’s a matter for another day.)

If Mills ever responded to Podesta’s question, we do not have an e-mail to that effect. It is unlikely Mills would have ignored Podesta, particularly on a matter of such significance. Thus, I suspect further discussion was had face-to-face, by phone, or through intermediaries.

The timing of the March 4 Podesta-Mills e-mail is highly significant. The date places it about three weeks after Podesta left his White House job as the president’s top advisor in order to head up the Clinton presidential campaign; the transitioning Podesta was still involved in Oval Office doings, and the Clinton campaign was up and running though not yet publicly launched. More significantly, the e-mail occurred when both the administration and the campaign were in crisis mode: It was immediately after the New York Times publicly exposed Clinton’s private e-mail system, and the House Benghazi committee had just issued a subpoena, demanding that Clinton preserve and provide any private e-mails within the scope of the committee’s investigation.

With that as background, we should consider three salient matters.


In the days immediately after the Times’ revelation of Mrs. Clinton’s systematic use of private e-mail to conduct government business, President Obama sat for interviews in which he claimed that he’d learned of Clinton’s personal e-mail use through “news reports” like everyone else. He flatly denied that he had any personal knowledge about the matter. Clearly, the president was lying to the American people: He knew he personally had engaged in several e-mails with Clinton. By extension, Obama was also lying to the Congress. As he well knew, congressional committees had been investigating matters (most prominently, Benghazi) in which communications between Obama and Clinton were of immense importance. Now, we know Obama not only had intimate personal awareness of what Clinton was doing; his top White House advisor, Podesta, was both aware of and concerned about the Obama-Clinton e-mails.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Monster Rancher / Tecmo Stackers (PS1)

Monster Rancher / Tecmo Stackers (PS1)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How to CPU Mine Some Popular Cryptocurrencies – Participate in Distributed Proof of Research

How to CPU Mine Some Popular Cryptocurrencies – Participate in Distributed Proof of Research

GridCoin is an innovative cryptocurrency that uses neural networks to ascertain how much research has been done by each user across Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) projects, utilizing a decentralized network of computing power. Some projects enable GPU mining but others are exclusively CPU. The best case for CPU mining is to check the projects that are CPU only and use the pool

One example is the World Community Grid which utilizes computing power to make a contribution toward understanding and finding cures for diseases and sponsored by IBM. By donating space computing power, you help scientists solve the world’s biggest problems in health. Also, there is the University of Oxford’s climate modeling and prediction project. Instead of Proof of Work à la Bitcoin, Gridcoin’s method is known as Distributed-Proof-of-Research.

By participating and devoting computing power, you can obtain payments for participating in one or more of the BOINC projects.

The Absurdity of Political Correctness Has Reached New Heights

The Absurdity of Political Correctness Has Reached New Heights

The Absurdity of Political Correctness Has Reached New Heights

A few years ago, I put together an amusing collection of stories comparing truly bizarre examples of political correctness and bureaucratic idiocy in the United States and United Kingdom.

I was especially impressed (in a you-must-be-joking fashion) that a British job placement office got in trouble for discrimination because they sought “reliable” and “hard-working” applicants. Sounds impossible to believe, but consider the fact that the EEOC bureaucracy in the U.S. went after a trucking company because it didn’t want to employ drunk drivers.

And I’ve shared jaw-dropping reports of anti-gun political correctness in American schools, as well as a proposal to ban skinny models in Britain.

Let’s expand on this collection of horror stories.

Reason reports that some bureaucrats in New York City think that it is sexual harassment for a professor to base grades in part on effort and classroom behavior.

A professor at the City University of New York’s Brooklyn College was ordered to make changes to his syllabus because it amounted to sexual harassment. The professor, David Seidemann has refused to comply, and for good reason. …a university administrator expressed three grievances about the syllabus. First, and most quizzically, the grading portion of the syllabus suggests sexual harassment. It reads, “Class deportment, effort etc……. 10% (applied only to select students when appropriate).” …Seidemann told me in an email that his department chair said “the 10% section could be construed as a prelude to sexual harassment,” and had to be changed at once. This order apparently came from the Director of Diversity Investigations and Title IX Enforcement. In the course of Seidemann’s interactions with the director, he realized something quite stunning: there was no record of anyone actually complaining about the syllabus. The university had apparently launched this investigation on its own. …The professor refused to meet with the Director of Diversity Investigations, preferring to talk via email so that the conversation could be documented. This eventually caused the director to abandon the investigation: the matter is now officially closed, according to Seidemann. The professor is pleased with the result, but little else.

If you read the entire story, it appears that the bureaucrats decided that “effort” could be interpreted as an invitation for female students to trade sex for higher grades. At least I think that’s the implication.

The British have similarly brainless people, though they express their political correctness in non-sexual ways such as banning running on the playground.

In which case, there must have been rampant sexual harassment when I was young because our report cards in elementary school always included our teachers’ assessment of our “effort.” And all the way through college, I periodically had classes in which grades were based in part on “participation.”

I guess I was so young and naive that I didn’t realize my teachers and professors were inviting me to offer sex for grades (my grades often were low enough that it was probably best I didn’t run the risk of having them go even lower).

More seriously, I’m glad the professor stood up against the absurd accusations put forth by the diversity bureaucrats. I especially like that he insisted on having everything occur via email so he couldn’t be victimized by the selective memory of some pencil pushers who probably try to justify their comfortable sinecures by claiming an occasional scalp.

Bureaucrats in Knoxville, Tennessee, also seem to be amazingly skilled at seeing sexual harassment where it doesn’t exist.

The student, Keaton Wahlbon, had to take a geology quiz featuring the following question: “What is your lab instructor’s name? (if you don’t remember, make something good up).” Wahlbon followed the instructions: he didn’t remember, so wrote down the first generic girl name that came to mind—Sarah Jackson. Unbeknowst to Wahlbon, Sarah Jackson is a real person: a pornographic model. Of course, there are hundreds (thousands?) of other Sarah Jacksons in the world, and Wahlbon had no idea that his lab instructor would interpret his answer in such a specific and malicious manner. His answer was marked “inappropriate” and he received a grade of zero on the quiz. Wahlbon appealed to his professor, Bill Deane, but Deane maintained that Wahlbon had committed sexual harassment. Wahlbon contacted the head of department because, well, that’s nonsense. …no resolution has been reached yet. But according to The Knoxville News Sentinel, the university is now investigating the matter as if a complaint had been filed—even though no one has taken such an action.

Wow, this is surreal. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Mr. Wahlbon was thinking of the pornographic model when he wrote “Sarah Jackson” on the quiz. How is this sexual harassment? I don’t claim to be an expert on such matters, but I’m under the impression that harassment occurs when someone with power in a relationship makes some sort of sexual advance (or even tells a dirty joke). So how can a student harass a teacher? Or even a teacher’s lab instructor?

You can say that Wahlbon is guilty of displaying bad taste, but then we get to the issue of whether he actually meant the Sarah Jackson. If it was a more uncommon name (such as Jenna Jameson, the famous Republican-supporting porn star), then you could safely assume (though not legally prove) that he intended to make a boorish joke. But is the Sarah Jackson so famous that it’s safe to think that’s who Wahlbon had in mind? For what it’s worth, I never heard of that Sarah Jackson (though I once dated a girl with that name).

By the way, the British have similarly brainless people in their nation.

Though they express their political correctness in non-sexual ways (what a surprise), such as the principal who has banned running on the playground.

The headmaster of Hillfort Primary School in Liskeard, Dr Tim Cook, introduced the ban to prevent the little blighters injuring themselves. Instead, kids at Hillfort can blow off steam at playtime by playing with Lego, Jenga, and even dancing, as part of the school’s plan to reduce ‘negative behaviours’. Cook has responded by reassuring parents that their children are not completely prohibited from running – they are just not allowed to run across the playground. Have the nippers been given a small area to run around instead? Getting dizzier and dizzier as they charge about in circles? …Arguing that the ban is for safety reasons is pathetic. It’s running, not sword-swallowing. Grazed knees are part of growing up, and do not, or at least should not, result in lawsuits.

Fortunately, British parents seem a bit more sensible than their bureaucratic overlords. They’re petitioning to allow their kids to…gasp…do more than walk on the playground during recess.

There’s also lunacy in Australia. And since I’m a parent, I’m especially horrified about what happened to a father who wanted to protect his stepdaughter from sexting.

A man who found out that his 15-year-old stepdaughter was sexting her boyfriend proceeded to download the evidence to bring it to the school and the police to ask them to intervene. …Intervene they did. Now the dad has been convicted on child pornography charges and placed on the sex offender registry. This, despite the judge understanding exactly why the man, Ashan Ortell, 57, held onto the images. “There is no suggestion of any exploitation of them by anybody,” ruled Judge Jane Patrick, over in Australia, which is becoming as daffy as the United States. “You made no attempt to conceal the images. In fact, you were so concerned that you contacted the authorities about the images.”

If you read the entire story, I’m guessing that the cops went after the dad because he was badgering them for not doing anything about his stepdaughter. And I sympathize with the cops for choosing not to make a big deal out of two teenagers sexting, but did they really have to go after the guy for having the images when nobody thinks he had any unsavory intent or motives?

Keep in mind that this took place in the nation that awarded workers compensation to a woman who injured herself while having sex and also threatened fines against companies that pointed out the downside of a carbon tax.

All that being said, Australia is still my top choice for where to go if (when?) America suffers a Greek-style fiscal and economic collapse.

P.S. I’ve come across lots of crazy government decisions in my time, so I’m not surprised by today’s material. Though since I mentioned Greece, that government deserves some sort of prize for subsidizing pedophiles and demanding stool samples before letting entrepreneurs set up online companies.

And let’s not forget that European courts that have ruled that there’s an entitlement to free soccer broadcasts and a right to satellite TV. About as nutty as the Finnish court that ruled there’s a right to broadband access, and as crazy as the Bolivian decision that there’s a human right to receive stolen property.

P.P.S. In his speech to the 2008 Democratic Convention, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said “Government, as Barney Frank likes to say, is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.”

If that’s true, then the above examples show that we “choose” to do some really foolish things. In reality, as Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit reminds us, we don’t choose. That’s why this poster contains a much more accurate assessment of what really happens when government gets involved.

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review. 

This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Yahoo Email Surveillance: the Next Front in the Fight Against Mass Surveillance

Yahoo Email Surveillance: the Next Front in the Fight Against Mass Surveillance


In a bombshell published today, Reuters is reporting that, in 2015, Yahoo complied with an order it received from the U.S. government to search all of its users’ incoming emails, in real time.

There’s still much that we don’t know at this point, but if the report is accurate, it represents a new—and dangerous—expansion of the government’s mass surveillance techniques.

This isn’t the first time the U.S. government has been caught conducting unconstitutional mass surveillance of Internet communications in real time. The NSA’s Upstream surveillance program—the program at the heart of our ongoing lawsuit Jewel v. NSA—bears some resemblance to the surveillance technique described in the Reuters report. In both cases, the government compels providers to scan the contents of communications as they pass through the providers’ networks, searching the full contents of the communications for targeted “selectors,” such as email addresses, phone numbers, or malware "cybersignatures."

Mass surveillance of Yahoo’s emails is unconstitutional for the same reasons that it's unconstitutional for the government to copy and search through vast amounts of communications passing through AT&T’s network as part of Upstream. The sweeping warrantless surveillance of millions of Yahoo users’ communications described in the Reuters story flies in the face of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches. Surveillance like this is an example of “general warrants” that the Fourth Amendment was directly intended to prevent. (Note that, as we’ve explained before, it is irrelevant that Yahoo itself conducted the searches since it was acting as an agent of the government.)

While illegal mass surveillance is sadly familiar, the Yahoo surveillance program represents some deeply troubling new twists.

First, this is the first public indication that the government has compelled a U.S.-based email provider—as opposed to an Internet-backbone provider—to conduct surveillance against all its customers in real time. In attempting to justify its warrantless surveillance under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act—including Upstream and PRISM—the government has claimed that these programs only “target” foreigners outside the U.S. and thus do not implicate American citizens’ constitutional rights. Here, however, the government seems to have dispensed with that dubious facade by intentionally engaging in mass surveillance of purely domestic communications involving millions of Yahoo users.

Second, the story explains that Yahoo had to build new capabilities to comply with the government’s demands, and that new code may have, itself, opened up new security vulnerabilities for Yahoo and its users. We read about new data breaches and attempts to compromise the security of Internet-connected systems on a seemingly daily basis. Yet this story is another example of how the government continues to take actions that have serious potential for collateral effects on everyday users.

We hope this story sparks further questions. For starters: is Yahoo the only company to be compelled to engage in this sort of mass surveillance? What legal authority does the government think can possibly justify such an invasion of privacy? The government needs to give us those answers.

Update: The New York Times, in a follow up article, reported that the "innovative" order required Yahoo to search its incoming email for a specific "digital 'signature'" used by a terrorist organization. According to the article, Yahoo is the only company to receive such an order, and the surveillance has now terminated.

Finally, this is a perfect example of why we need to reform Section 702 and rein in the NSA’s mass surveillance programs. Absent such reform, Congress must not reauthorize Section 702 when it expires at the end of next year.

Source: Yahoo Email Surveillance: the Next Front in the Fight Against Mass Surveillance | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Central Banking’s Disgraceful Legacy

Central Banking’s Disgraceful Legacy

History will judge the world’s major central banks harshly. It will do so not only for their responsibility in setting the stage for the next global economic and financial crisis. Those central banks will also be indicted for their role in making politics in the world’s major economies as divisive as they are today.

Since the Great Global Economic Recession in 2008-2009, highly unorthodox monetary policies have been pursued by the world’s major central banks in an effort to promote economic recovery. Clearly the most important of these policies has been massive quantitative easing, or effective money printing, by the Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan, the Bank of England, and the European Central Bank.

Unprecedented Balances

As an indication of the unprecedented path on which the world’s major central banks have embarked, it is instructive to reflect on how rapidly those central banks’ balance sheets have expanded. The world’s central banks promoted short-term economic growth through unorthodox monetary policies.As an example, one may consider that whereas it took the Federal Reserve almost 100 years from its founding in 1913 to increase the size of its balance sheet to $800 billion, it took only six years to expand that balance sheet from $800 billion to its present size of around $4.5 trillion.   Similarly, one may consider that whereas in 2006 the combined size of the world’s six major central banks’ balance sheets was $5 trillion, by end- 2015 those balance sheets had swollen to around $17 trillion.

The basic reason why the world’s major central banks resorted to quantitative easing is that once interest rates had been reduced to zero, those banks ran out of room to reduce interest rates further. At that point it was thought that by buying long-dated bonds, the central bank could stimulate economic growth by driving long-term interest rates down and by encouraging economic actors to take on more risk.

When economic history of the last eight years is written, it will be found that the world’s central banks were moderately successful in promoting short-term economic growth through their unorthodox monetary policies. This would be reflected in the slowest global economic recovery in the post-war period. However, it is also bound to be found that in pursuing a short-term economic growth objective, the world’s central banks set up the stage for the next major global economic and financial crisis. They will be found to have done so by having created asset price bubbles, especially in the global bond market, and by have encouraged the gross mispricing of risk in the world’s financial markets.

The Looming Bond Market Disaster

As an indication of the size of the global bond market bubble that the world’s central banks have created, all one need do is to consider that as much as $12 trillion of the world bond market now trades at negative interest rates. Assuming that the world’s central banks achieve their generally subscribed to 2 percent inflation target, the negative yields on these bonds would imply that, if held to maturity, the holders of these bonds would suffer very large losses in real terms.

For an indication of the serious mispricing of risk in global financial markets, one need look no further than the $2.5 trillion Italian government bond market, which is the world’s third largest sovereign bond market.  Today the Italian government can raise long-term money at lower rates than can the US government and it can even place a 50-year bond at attractive interest rates. It can do so despite the fact that Italy has major problems in its banking sector, a dysfunctional political system, the second highest public debt to GDP ratio in the Eurozone, and a highly sclerotic economy that has barely grown over the past two decades.

Beyond Monetary Policy

Beyond blaming the world’s central banks for setting the stage for the next global financial crisis, history will also assign responsibility to those banks for the role they played in causing political polarization in so many countries. At the root of that political polarization has been the sense that the gains from economic recovery have not been fairly shared. The bulk of those gains will be seen to have gone to asset price holders who have benefited from the world’s central banks’ largesse at the same time that savers in bank deposits have been penalized.