US Working Overtime Behind The Scenes To Kill UN Plan To Protect Online Privacy From Snooping

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(Artists A.Signl, left, and B.Shanti of the artist group Captain Borderline the mural ‘Surveillance of the fittest’ at a wall in Cologne, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013. The painting shows an American Bald Eagle with surveillance cameras watching a herd of sheep to draw attention to the spying program of the American National Security Agency. Germany demanded answers to all open questions about U.S. surveillance Thursday following allegations that American intelligence may have targeted Chancellor Angela Merkel s cellphone, and her chief of staff noted that Washington hasn t denied past snooping. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein) ( Frank Augstein ))

US Working Overtime Behind The Scenes To Kill UN Plan To Protect Online Privacy From Snooping

I’ve never beena fan of the U.N. but I’ve got to give them credit.

The UN has apparently been considering a proposal pushed by Brazil and Germany, to clarify that basic offline rights to privacy should apply to online information and activities as well. The proposal is targeted at attempts by governments — mainly the US — to ignore privacy issues in spying on people around the globe. Not surprisingly, the US is (quietly) working hard to stop this plan. Colum Lynch at Foreign Policy has the scoop, noting that publicly, the US is pretending to support this in some form: But privately, American diplomats are pushing hard to kill a provision of the Brazilian and German draft which states that “extraterritorial surveillance” and mass interception of communications, personal information, and metadata may constitute a violation of human rights. The United States and its allies, according to diplomats, outside observers, and documents, contend that the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights does not apply to foreign espionage.

Full Story–>>http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20131120/17013625313/us-working-overtime-behind-scenes-to-kill-un-plan-to-protect-online-privacy-snooping.shtml

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Ben Stein: 4 Warnings Revealed by Government Shutdown

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Ben Stein: 4 Warnings Revealed by Government Shutdown

According to Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services (MHFI) the recently concluded government shutdown cost a total of $24 billion. Due to this unanticipated expense, the ratings agency has lowered its fourth-quarter GDP estimate by a minimum of .6%. If there’s anything of which the nation can be completely certain, it’s this: That number is inaccurate and ultimately unimportant.

If there are lessons to be learned from the ongoing, shambling disaster of a debt ceiling fight/Obamacare showdown, they are philosophical and long term. Economics is a social science. There’s no need for higher math, just higher thinking. In the attached clip author, economist, pundit, lawyer and general polymath Ben Stein shares takeaway lessons from the last three weeks.

The country is angry, divided, confused.

“We learned how very angry and divided this country is. And learning that people opposed to the entitlement state are ready to take extremely drastic action to stop it… some kind of process of national reconciliation must be going on,” says Stein. We knew we were angry, but the price of the reconciliation between entitlement and taxation factions is growing.

The nature of the debate was disheartening, as neither side had a realistic perspective on the balance between income (taxes) and expenditures. This wasn’t a serious debate about budgets, but rather a heated exchange between ideologues. The real conversation wasn’t about tightening our national belt, it was about which group got a bigger portion of assumed deficits.

“We cannot both be a high-entitlement state and a low-tax state,” Stein states plainly. “Arithmetic is the boss.”

Full Story–>>http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/breakout/ben-stein-4-lessons-learned-government-shutdown-161826394.html

Butch Up or Grow a Pair!: The Abdication of America.

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We live in a nation full of spineless jellyfish who refuse to stand for anything. Crass? Maybe, but it feels as though if it wasn’t for being “sensitive” the USA would not have a culture at all. For the sake of all that is right and good please express yourself! Dare to be heard! At least then we would know which people are part of the problem and who is seeking to make a better world. If you hate a group of people or their lifestyle then grow a pair and unabashedly say so. You may be an idiot but at least you’ll be an idiot with convictions (and bonus: the rest of us will know who to avoid).

Think about this. Don’t all of us look up to people who live a life of convictions? We pay tons of money to watch television shows and movies with a protagonists that lives by a definitively higher code. We cheer and walk out of the theater feeling better (if only for a fleeting moment) about life because some script writer has painted a gripping picture of a world we long to have back again. Remember when we aspired to harmony? The old folksy shows that we grew up with. The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie or even the progressive shows like Star Trek with their Prime Directive. When Superman (Christopher Reeve obviously) saved the world and defeated corruption and evil men then our hearts surged with something dare I say . . spiritual? We long for equality and justice. We love to feel a hopefulness about it all.

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Isn’t it about time that we as a society get off our collective arse and take some responsibility for our country and our world. We whine and moan like petulant children about the economy and our government in general. Honestly evaluate this for a second, how many of us who are crying so loudly will really do anything more than cast a vote (if we do that much)? BTW, stop all the whining!! Seriously, is there anything more sad and annoying than listening to someone moan about their situation but refuse to be proactive? Why are so many waiting for someone else or something to change their circumstances. How’s that working out so far?

Is it just me or does it seem that the only ones fighting for their agendas are blatantly selfish and power-hungry? Republicans, Democrats, Senators, Representatives, Policy-Makers, Religious Leaders and their acolytes. The list goes on and on.

While all the afore mentioned “Pillars of Society” continue their march toward power “We The Sheeple” bury our heads in the sands of entertainment. We have abdicated our destiny to those who can’t see past their own self-interests and dogma.

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So what do we do about it? Firstly, question authority. If they are right then there is no harm in questioning them. Secondly, when “authority” is wrong then remove them from their positions or deny them power. Thirdly, quit tolerating half-hearted efforts and laziness in yourself or those you patronize. You’re just fueling the problem. Finally, live by your convictions without apology. Be proud and proactive about your agenda and partner with those who share your beliefs. Lift each other up and you will see change!

One caveat if I may. If your convictions and agenda are based in hatred and vitriol, if they tear people down instead of creating a more just society then please do everyone a favor. Relax and take a moment for yourself. You deserve it. Make some popcorn, get some tea or a warm glass of milk and get comfortable. I think that there is some really good reality TV on tonight.

by Paul King (Geeklosophy)

What It Means to Be An NSA “Target”: New Information Shows Why We Need Immediate FISA Amendments Act Reform

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What It Means to Be An NSA “Target”: New Information Shows Why We Need Immediate FISA Amendments Act Reform

EFF: Mark Rumold-

We’ve written before about the word games the government plays in describing its surveillance practices: “acquire,” “collect,” and “content” are all old government favorites. The New York Times report proves Feinstein statement is false, and it’s clear it’s time to add “target” to the list of word games as well.

Full Story–>> https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/07/what-it-means-be-target-or-why-we-once-again-stopped-believing-government-and-once

Are you sure you’re the good guy?

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I believe that we live in the greatest era known to humankind so far. Technology has made our lives a living sci-fi fantasy. Computers, iPads, Smart Phones and the internet have given us the ability to share our thoughts, hopes and dreams with each other and become a very connected world. Daily we are making extraordinary leaps and bounds in science and continue to develope the best health care known to this planet. The human potential is mind-boggling. It’s impossible not to give a nod to the late Gene Roddenberry right here. I am very excited to be living in this day and age.

In spite of my excitement I am daily confused and saddened by many of those I have traditionally thought of as “my own” people. Some of my most formative years were spent among genuine, salt-of-the-earth people with respectable ideals and rock solid character. God-fearing people who just wanted a better world for everyone. Folks from Small Town, USA just like many of you reading this. I will forever be grateful for their influence.

Now when we need them most, when the world is smaller than it has ever been it is crucial that we have our heroes. Unfortunately a large contingent of “my people” have decided that being right is more important than doing right. The world is and always has been ever-changing and I guess it’s just damned scary for some. Rather than focusing on that which we all have in common, rather than choosing to love first many decide to barricade themselves safely behind tradition and dogma. Racism, sexism, nationalism and all the other ‘isms that may offend you are a product of this “we vs. them” mentality. The Crusades didn’t work the first time. Does anyone really think that taking that tact again is a viable choice.

Ignorance is not stupidity. Ignorance is simply a lack of knowledge and I’ve found that the most dogmatic people are typically willfully ignorant. Somehow I think it is less scary for them to assume that they’re the societal victims. The sad truth is that they are, more often than not, the bad guy. They become the antagonist in our novel of life and they may never realize it. It’s really interesting how we all view ourselves. I don’t think anybody believes they are the problem. We tend to rationalize our own actions. We forgive our own bias and hate.

Here is the good news. If you’re still reading this then there is something here that rings true for you. You are our future hope. You are potentially the hero we are waiting on. All this collected wisdom and technology that we each have access to and we can’t stop fighting long enough to focus on the fixable problems? Or can we?

Who will you be for this world? Are you sure that you’re the good guy? Will hatred and division be your legacy? Be the change that you want to see!

I say love ’em all and let God sort ’em out.

Congress eyes renewed push for legislation to rein in the NSA

Congress eyes renewed push for legislation to rein in the NSA

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The Guardian: Members of Congress are considering 11 legislative measures to constrain the activities of the National Security Agency, in a major shift of political opinion in the eight weeks since the first revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The proposals range from repealing the legal foundations of key US surveillance powers to more moderate reforms of the secretive court proceedings for domestic spying. If enacted, the laws would represent the first rollback of the NSA‘s powers since 9/11.

Full Story—>> http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/02/congress-nsa-legislation-surveillance