Democracy Fail


he massive consolidation of wealth, combined with the removal of any limits on money in campaigns, has allowed for the purchase of our government.

Today I am publishing a comprehensive and important guest essay, The Purchase of Our Republic, by longtime correspondent Y. Falkson.

I just supported (re)start the Mayday PAC on @ThunderclapIt // @lessig


TECH: Seven Alternative Search Sites To Yahoo, Bing and Google That Respect Your Privacy

Just recently, Google updated its terms of use and privacy policy. The goal was to allow Google to…

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TECH: Seven Alternative Search Sites To Yahoo, Bing and Google That Respect Your Privacy

Just recently, Google updated its terms of use and privacy policy. The goal was to allow Google to…

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Obama Erases Campaign Promises from Election

Website Submitted by Tyler Durden on 07/30/2013 10:40 -0400 Barack Obama George Orwell Obama Administration Transparency Submitted by Michael Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog, The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental , nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink. - George Orwell, 1984 President Transparency, in the interest of protecting his Administration’s spotless record of least transparent ever, has decided to erase sections of his original campaign website so that inconvenient and broken promises (i.e., every single thing he said) can’t be so easily exposed. Although clearly no one goes to the campaign site for groundbreaking news, it had served as a useful platform to compare candidate Obama to the George W. Bush clone he has become as President. From Policy Mic: In a recent blog post by the Sunlight Foundation, the watchdog organization curiously notes how the Obama administration has removed previously available content from then candidate Obama’s famous 2008 campaign platform, While the site has long since served as a landing page to redirect traffic towards the now President Obama’s, the content of the website, particularly the materials and agenda pages, has always been accessible. However, very recently, access to such information is now no longer supported through the site and appears to have been “scrubbed” off the internet (of course, you can still access archived forms of the aforementioned pages). Thus, because President Obama’s policies have failed to match candidate Obama’s campaign platform (particularly the change part of “hope and change”), it is possible that the easy availability of such contradictory information, not to mention the reputability of the source, has proven to be too detrimental to President Obama’s reputation — given the current political climate.

More specifically, the President’s views on government ethics and whistle blowing: The following was candidate Obama’s position on whistleblowers. Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process. No worries, at least we still have the right to go out into the street and mindlessly scream USA! USA!

Amash fails, Privacy continues its slow death
POLITICS More: Congress Justin Amash Edward Snowden NSA
The 'Amash Amendment' To Derail The NSA's Surveillance Powers Goes Down In The House
The House of Representatives voted against an amendment that would have severely limited the National Security Agency's ability to collect data on telephone communications by a 205-217 vote.
The amendment would have barred the NSA from blanket collection of records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, including telephone records, "that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215." It was co-sponsored by Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a libertarian Republican, and John Conyers (D-Mich.). It was targeted at the first part of revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in disclosures to The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald. Amash and Conyers' amendment faced incredible odds, as both sides of the House leadership opposed including it in 2014 Defense Appropriations Bill. The White House blasted it in a terse statement Tuesday evening, and the NSA held top-secret briefings to lobby members of Congress against it. Democrats voted more in line with Amash, while Republicans sided with the opposition. By a 111-83 count, Democrats voted to adopt the amendment. Republicans voted against it by a 94-134 tally. The vote on the Amash amendment followed a spirited debate in which a fellow Michigan Republican, Mike Rogers, accused Amash of engaging in this debate for "Facebook likes." The debate prompted unlikely alliances in the House floor, with both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and deeply conservative Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) voicing opposition to the amendment. "When you had the chance to stand up for American's privacy, did you?" Amash said in closing the debate on the House floor.

Where’d you get the 7 billion figure? ‘Picked it out of my arse.’ ;

Positive Control... by John Robb
Positive Control When something is very dangerous, like nuclear weapons, standard forms of protection and control aren't sufficient. Something that potentially dangerous needs something more aggressive. In the military, that's called positive control. Positive control is an active form of control where the dangerous item is under 24x7x365 monitoring, checking, patrolling, testing, etc. In this type of system, no information = danger. Alarm bells sound when the feeds and system checks monitoring the item go dark. This is the opposite of the type of security and law enforcement we're used to in our daily lives. These systems are best described as negative control systems. Negative control systems are focused on detecting exceptions. A crime. Good behavior is expected. As a result, this system only takes action when a failure occurs. Positive security and People Positive security can apply to people too, if they are dangerous enough. NOTE: When I was the Internet guru at Forrester Research over decade ao, we had an analyst day that discussed dangerous knowledge. The conclusion? Someday, technology and the knowledge of how to use it will become so dangerous that education would become a controlled substance. Granted, I influenced that conclusion, since I had experience working with people in the past who were under "positive" control. Most were in black programs, but one was a physics instructor who designed nuclear weapons (shaped charges, x-ray, etc.) as a profession. We've even designed corporate environments where every movement is being tracked (keystrokes and other forms of Taylorism) to determine whether people are doing the busy work they were tasked with. However, those situations are only possible because they are limited in scope. We've always assumed, despite the fears stoked by fiction like "1984", that positive control wasn't likely more nightmare than reality. So far, the attempts to apply positive control to complete societies in the past have fallen far short, even with an aggressive application of technology. Bureaucratic forms of dictitorial governance like communism and fascism never reached the level of active surveillance required for true positive control. Further, the process of attempting it undermined their ability to deliver robust growth over the long term. How quickly things change. We're now actively moving towards a society, and a world, founded on positive control. Why? Paranoia over terrorism, a massive national security infrastructure, and new technology has made it not only possible, but probable. So, let me lay it out in simple terms. Here's a framework that will allow you to put the stuff you read in the news into context. From hat bans to NSA leaks about surveillance programs. Problem: Everybody on the planet IS a potential terrorist. Solution: Put everybody on the planet under positive control. Positive control means the continuous monitoring. Location GPS phone. Implied by utility use (smart grid). Car GPS. CCTV. Facial recognition everywhere. Social media data.
Network Phone. Social media connections. Proximity. Network analysis. Behavior Economic activity. Utility use. Content use. Usage monitoring.
In the case of positive control, any lack of activity or lapse in data flow is considered a dangerous act. Try to hide = something to hide. Any blocking of monitoring will be made illegal and a major crime. Multiple systems with overlapping control will provide a complete cradle to grave blanket. There's no way to avoid this. It's already here and nobody cares. Sincerely, JOHN ROBB
NSA Secret Warrantless Spying Rules Revealed
Tyler Durden's picture

he Guardian has done it once again, this time presenting two July 2009 documents signed by none other than Eric Holder which lay out under what conditions the NSA is allowed to make use of information “inadvertently” collected from domestic US communications without a warrant. The documents detail the procedures the NSA is required to follow to target “non-US persons” under its foreign intelligence powers and what the agency does to minimize data collected on US citizens and residents in the course of that surveillance. “The documents show that even under authorities governing the collection of foreign intelligence from foreign targets, US communications can still be collected, retained and used.”

To the NSA’s credit, the disclosure shows that data collected on US persons under the foreign intelligence authority must be destroyed, and the extensive steps analysts must take to try to check targets are outside the US, and reveals how US call records are used to help remove US citizens and residents from data collection. The problems are when one sees the cornucopia of FISA court-approved loopholes that can be exploited. Among them:

  • Keep data that could potentially contain details of US persons for up to five years;
  • Retain and make use of “inadvertently acquired” domestic communications if they contain usable intelligence, information on criminal activity, threat of harm to people or property, are encrypted, or are believed to contain any information relevant to cybersecurity;
  • Preserve “foreign intelligence information” contained within attorney-client communications;
  • Access the content of communications gathered from “U.S. based machine[s]” or phone numbers in order to establish if targets are located in the US, for the purposes of ceasing further surveillance.

As the Guardian’s Greenwald notes, “The broad scope of the court orders, and the nature of the procedures set out in the documents, appear to clash with assurances from President Obama and senior intelligence officials that the NSA could not access Americans’ call or email information without warrants.” And more importantly, “The documents also show that discretion as to who is actually targeted under the NSA’s foreign surveillance powers lies directly with its own analysts, without recourse to courts or superiors – though a percentage of targeting decisions are reviewed by internal audit teams on a regular basis.”

Where it gets more interesting is the disclosure about bulk data collection:

Section 702 of the Fisa Amendments Act (FAA), which was renewed for five years last December, is the authority under which the NSA is allowed to collect large-scale data, including foreign communications and also communications between the US and other countries, provided the target is overseas.

FAA warrants are issued by the Fisa court for up to 12 months at a time, and authorise the collection of bulk information – some of which can include communications of US citizens, or people inside the US. To intentionally target either of those groups requires an individual warrant.

One such warrant seen by the Guardian shows that they do not contain detailed legal rulings or explanation. Instead, the one-paragraph order, signed by a Fisa court judge in 2010, declares that the procedures submitted by the attorney general on behalf of the NSA are consistent with US law and the fourth amendment.

Those procedures state that the “NSA determines whether a person is a non-United States person reasonably believed to be outside the United States in light of the totality of the circumstances based on the information available with respect to that person, including information concerning the communications facility or facilities used by that person”.

It includes information that the NSA analyst uses to make this determination - including IP addresses, statements made by the potential target, and other information in the NSA databases, which can include public information and data collected by other agencies.

Where the NSA has no specific information on a person’s location, analysts are free to presume they are overseas, the document continues.

And it is here that the biggest NSA loophole emerges: "In the absence of specific information regarding whether a target is a United States person, a person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States or whose location is not known will be presumed to be a non-United States person unless such person can be positively identified as a United States person.

Of course, the “specific information” could be just one google search away, which the analyst determines is irrelevant, and thus no information - specific or otherwise - is available to prevent the cascading series of steps that allow further inquiry into the US citizen’s life. Among these are the following:

If it later appears that a target is in fact located in the US, analysts are permitted to look at the content of messages, or listen to phone calls, to establish if this is indeed the case.

Referring to steps taken to prevent intentional collection of telephone content of those inside the US, the document states: “NSA analysts may analyze content for indications that a foreign target has entered or intends to enter the United States. Such content analysis will be conducted according to analytic and intelligence requirements and priorities.”

Details set out in the “minimization procedures”, regularly referred to in House and Senate hearings, as well as public statements in recent weeks, also raise questions as to the extent of monitoring of US citizens and residents.

NSA minimization procedures signed by Holder in 2009 set out that once a target is confirmed to be within the US, interception must stop immediately. However, these circumstances do not apply to large-scale data where the NSA claims it is unable to filter US communications from non-US ones.

The NSA is empowered to retain data for up to five years and the policy states “communications which may be retained include electronic communications acquired because of limitations on the NSA’s ability to filter communications”.

Even if upon examination a communication is found to be domestic – entirely within the US – the NSA can appeal to its director to keep what it has found if it contains “significant foreign intelligence information”, “evidence of a crime”, “technical data base information” (such as encrypted communications), or “information pertaining to a threat of serious harm to life or property”.

In other words: the determination is purely subjective and entirely in the eye of the beholder, or in this case in the brain of the Holder’s analyst. Such as this:

A transcript of a 2008 briefing on FAA from the NSA’s general counsel sets out how much discretion NSA analysts possess when it comes to the specifics of targeting, and making decisions on who they believe is a non-US person. Referring to a situation where there has been a suggestion a target is within the US.

"Once again, the standard here is a reasonable belief that your target is outside the United States. What does that mean when you get information that might lead you to believe the contrary? It means you can’t ignore it. You can’t turn a blind eye to somebody saying: ‘Hey, I think so and so is in the United States.’ You can’t ignore that. Does it mean you have to completely turn off collection the minute you hear that? No, it means you have to do some sort of investigation: ‘Is that guy right? Is my target here?" he says.

"But, if everything else you have says ‘no’ (he talked yesterday, I saw him on TV yesterday, even, depending on the target, he was in Baghdad) you can still continue targeting but you have to keep that in mind. You can’t put it aside. You have to investigate it and, once again, with that new information in mind, what is your reasonable belief about your target’s location?”

"Keep in mind" that you are breaking the constitution? Just kidding: after all they are just "protecting" everyone.

The final step in chain of events:

Once armed with these general orders, the NSA is empowered to compel telephone and internet companies to turn over to it the communications of any individual identified by the NSA. The Fisa court plays no role in the selection of those individuals, nor does it monitor who is selected by the NSA.

And that is how, contrary to the administration’s lies, virtually anyone can be an NSA target, and absolutely every single American can be spied on without limitation.

Finally, the Eric Holder signed documents can be found here and here for readers’ perusal.

Appeal From Brazil, please Reblog

I received this via TheListserve. Please spread widely.

Hello, I’m from Brazil. You probably don’t know much about us now, but you probably will during the next World Cup. I was unsure what to write about, until I saw, last night, June 13, 2013, all hell break loose in the city of São Paulo. It started as a protest against raising bus taxes - described in an apologetic way by politicians as ‘under inflation margin’, as if they had nothing to do with that. But after 3 days of protest, it became much more than that. It was a protest against the government priorities, and how the people still go hungry while over-budgeted, unfinished World Cup construction sites that have become an excuse to steal the people’s money - I mean literally steal.

And the protesters said that. In signs, on the internet, in interviews. The peaceful protest was met with an unjustified attack of tear gas and rubber bullets. And it made me cringe to watch what was happening live, while listening to the reporters saying that the opposite was going on. People had been arrested before manifestations started - for possession of vinegar. Vinegar is used to minimize effects from tear gas. Which means people were being arrested for trying to protect themselves against the police. Did they expect them to receive the violence with open arms? The manifestation became then, also for the right of speaking out against the government, and against unnecessary violent police repression. It was a protest for our right to protest.

The manifestation was violently disrupted. Police closed entire streets with the excuse that they didn’t want the protest to close streets (?) and then called themselves successful for reopening such streets. Legislation is being made to qualify public manifestations such as this as terrorism (PL 728/2011) and in my city, public manifestations were FORBIDDEN during the international soccer championships. A civil right, forbidden, in order to make us look good. For you.

Now this might seem to you like a horrible isolated event. It’s not. It’s commonplace, really. Our police military forces are a leftover organization from the dictatorial far right military government that took over our country from 1964 to 1985. For 21 years, we were stripped of all individual rights, silently tortured and killed, and forced to live in fear. And considering public manifestations of citizens as terrorism was one of their excuses for it.

So I’m writing because you need to know, that if you see a peaceful country during the World Cup, you are being lied to. Governors will state that things like the recent rape of an American tourist is rare, when it is actually epidemic and rising. Two Brazilian women had already been raped by the same gang and the police did nothing. They would have stayed that way if they hadn’t made the horrible mistake of raping a foreign woman.

We are angry, but also afraid. How to fight against this? And the answer is: You. The one thing our government fears is to look bad in front of international entrepreneurs and investors.  So search for this online. Find our videos and statements. Spread it out. Put our real reasons for protesting in the news. Help us achieve our right to protest, our right to speak out against oppression, the right to live without fear of the government.  We have an unique opportunity to make ourselves visible to the whole world, during the World Cup of 2014. Make it count.


ia Reddit user Tantek:

"Only pack what you can carry yourself."

Reddit user Skiperton:

"It doesn’t matter is you spend 1000 hours practicing if you’re doing it wrong, all you learned is how to do it wrong."

Reddit user bradlee92:

"Be friends with people who own boats."

Reddit user Blueson: 

"If you blame it on someone else, don’t expect it to get better."

Reddit user incognito_workacct:

"Never drink to feel better, only drink to feel even better," Reese Witherspoon in "How Do You Know"

Reddit user gthm8:

"Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference." – Mark Twain

Reddit user Its_my_head_Schwartz:

"Try not to take anything personally. No one thinks about you as much as you do."

Reddit user Xoth_Bnug:

"If you want to remember something, write it down."

Reddit user dont_let_me_comment:

This whole list: Regrets of the dying

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Reddit user SolidGod:

"Act like you know what you’re doing in whatever situation, and 99% of people will leave you the hell alone."

Reddit user xmelancoholicx:

"You’re not obligated to share everything that’s on your mind."

Reddit user MauricioPosada:

“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. ‘Do your worst, for I will do mine!’ Then the fates will know you as we know you” – Via The Count of Monte Cristo

Reddit user 1dayaway:

“Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.” - Isaac Asimov

Reddit user TummyDrums:

There are 2 rules for having plans.

  1. Always have a plan.
  2. Your plan isn’t going to work

Reddit user Behemothpanzer

"Figure out what you love to do, and then figure out how to get someone to pay you to do it."

Reddit user brentakill:

"When you’re wrong, admit it. When you’re right, be quiet."

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