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National Security Letters revealed as even worse than predicted by privacy experts

I remember the early debate about the National Security Letters provision in the poorly-named PATRIOT ACT. Privacy advocates at the time said that the authority granted by those letters would enable the FBI to go to a library and demand records of which books a person had checked out of the library, and that that was a threat to free speech. Well, they were right... only it's even worse than that:

Ars TechnicaFor the first time, as part of a First Amendment lawsuit, a federal judge ordered the release of what the FBI was seeking from a small ISP as part of an NSL. Among other things, the FBI was demanding a target's complete Web browsing history, IP addresses of everyone a person has corresponded with, and records of all online purchases, according to a court document unveiled Monday. All that's required is an agent's signature denoting that the information is relevant to an investigation.

"The FBI has interpreted its NSL authority to encompass the websites we read, the Web searches we conduct, the people we contact, and the places we go. This kind of data reveals the most intimate details of our lives, including our political activities, religious affiliations, private relationships, and even our private thoughts and beliefs," said Nicholas Merrill, who was president of Calyx Internet Access in New York when he received the NSL targeting one of his customers in 2004.

Remember, because these requests are for "business records" they are issued without a warrant. The FBI issues tens of thousands of these each year, and if you believe they are all related to terrorism I'll sell you a bridge. They also come with gag orders, meaning if you get one, you're not allowed to tell anyone. Ever. Even your lawyer, if you take them literally.

Of course, keeping them secret is a great way to prevent public opposition; that's how the NSA operated for decades. But it's not how America is supposed to work.

Mon Nov 30 15:30:59 CST 2015 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Victimhood culture and the death of free speech

Heterodox AcademyThe Yale problem refers to an unfortunate feedback loop: Once you allow victimhood culture to spread on your campus, you can expect ever more anger from students representing victim groups, coupled with demands for a deeper institutional commitment to victimhood culture, which leads inexorably to more anger, more demands, and more commitment. But the Yale problem didn’t start at Yale. It started in high school. As long as many of our elite prep schools are turning out students who have only known eggshells and anger, whose social cognition is limited to a single dimension of victims and victimizers, and who demand safe spaces and trigger warnings, it’s hard to imagine how any university can open students’ minds and prepare them to converse respectfully with people who don’t share their values. Especially when there are no adults around who don’t share their values.

Read the whole thing.

2015-11-30 09:28:30.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Obama administration so corrupt even the New York Times is forced to notice

New York TimesThe impasse has hampered investigations into an array of programs and abuse reports — from allegations of sexual assaults in the Peace Corps to the F.B.I.’s terrorism powers, officials said. And it has threatened to roll back more than three decades of policy giving the watchdogs unfettered access to “all records” in their investigations.

“The bottom line is that we’re no longer independent,” Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general, said in an interview.

“This is by far the most aggressive assault on the inspector general concept since the beginning,” said Paul Light, a New York University professor who has studied the system. “It’s the complete evisceration of the concept. You might as well fold them down. They’ve become defanged.”

I've pointed out individual instances of the Obama White House restricting their Inspector Generals before, notably at the EPA, and it's worth noting that the only reason we learned anything about the frantic efforts at the IRS to cover up Lerner's emails is due to the efforts of the Treasury Inspector General there (who found the backup tapes after the IRS first did not bother to look for them, and then destroyed them after notifying Congress they had been lost).

But don't worry. I'm sure the press will tirelessly advocate for the IG system to be restored ... just in time for a Republican to take office in 2016.

Mon Nov 30 05:14:51 CST 2015 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Los Angeles implements magazine confiscation and gets no takers

From the Barrel of the GunThe City Council for Los Angeles passed a ban on standard capacity magazines. No one is allowed to own or possess magazines holding over 10 rounds except, of course, the Council members themselves. They gave City residents sixty days to turn them in or face arrest.

So... what happens when one of the currently sitting council members lose their seat on the council? Presumably at least one of them owns a gun with a magazine above the now-verboten size limit, and they are no longer immune when they leave office.

Sun Nov 29 20:31:46 CST 2015 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Chris Christie pre-disqualified himself from the nomination in 1993

The Daily Beast“The issue which has motivated me to get into this race is the recent attempt by certain Republican legislators to repeal New Jersey’s ban on assault weapons,” Christie said at the time.

The Daily Beast“In today’s society, no one needs a semiautomatic assault weapon,” he said. “We already have too many firearms in our communities.”

The Daily Beast“Chris Christie and Rick Merkt support the ban on assault weapons,” it read. “Tony Bucco and Mike Carroll want to repeal the ban on automatic assault weapons. It’s dangerous. It’s crazy. It’s radical. They must be stopped. Say NO to Bucco and Carroll’s radical plan to legalize assault weapons.”

Just in case you didn't already know that Christie can't be trusted.

2015-11-29 09:28:30.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Testimony on Tea Party targeting by the IRS

2015-11-28 16:34:10.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

When the president says earth science, he means global warming propaganda

Ars TechnicaWhereas President Obama sought to increase NASA’s budget for earth science in this fiscal year, Republicans in Congress sought to slash it by hundreds of millions of dollars. From a historical perspective, the staunch Republican opposition to studying climate and weather changes on Earth is surprising. Both Presidents Reagan and the first George Bush supported robust plans to study Earth from space, and the fleet of satellites in orbit today are one of the main space legacies of their terms in office.

Normally, I'm all in favor of funding for NASA. But I want that funding to go towards a Moon base, a Mars base, and so on... not towards global warming propaganda.

2015-11-28 09:34:43.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

How to get subpeonas answered

The HillThe federal government’s chief climate research agency is refusing to give House Republicans the detailed information they want on a controversial study on climate change.

Citing confidentiality concerns and the integrity of the scientific process, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said it won’t give Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) the research documents he subpoenaed.

The simple answer to this concern is to tell the agency they can have their funding when Congress has their email.

And gosh, it would work on so many different government agencies... if only Congress could actually do it.

2015-11-27 09:16:42.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

True reusable space travel

On Thanksgiving this year, I find myself with very little to be thankful for. But one of the few things this President has done well is the privatization of space exploration, even if it was mostly by getting out of the way.

2015-11-26 18:10:05.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A victory for knife rights

It seems the Wisconsin appeals court has struck down a ban on switchblades (in the home, it seems) on Second Amendment grounds. This seems to be like a significant step forward with positive implications for gun rights. Granted, it's only one state.

Knife bans have never made much sense to me. Knives are tools as well as weapons, and AS weapons, they aren't very useful offensively. Before you can hurt someone with a knife, you have to *catch* them. And then catch the next person with a substantial head start. And so on, and so on. If used as a weapon at all, they are much more useful defensively ("If you come within reach, I will hurt you"). The same applies to swords, though with less utility as a tool.

This decision is only the beginning, though. For the next steps in Wisconsin, see the truth about knives on the topic.

2015-11-26 17:58:57.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Terrorists have already used refugee status to infiltrate the US

Hot AirBut don’t worry — they weren’t widows and orphans. Barack Obama spent the last two days belittling concerns over the efficacy of screening in US refugee programs, but he seemed to forget that his administration has dropped the ball on this issue before. ABC News reminds viewers of their 2013 investigation that revealed that dozens of refugees admitted from Iraq and Afghanistan had suspected ties to terrorism. Two admitted in 2009 turned out to be al-Qaeda terrorists, who were only discovered after they tried to acquire heavy weapons while living in Kentucky

But of course there is no possible threat in admitting tens of thousands of refugees and giving amnesty to illegal immigrants, right?

2015-11-26 15:08:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Afghanis, Pakistanis caught sneaking across Mexican border into US

Sharyl AttkissonAgents with the U.S. Border Patrol are expressing frustration and anger after a group of men from Pakistan and Afghanistan was reportedly caught crossing the Mexican border into the U.S. this week. The agents say the incident was kept secret from them until they pressed their managers for information.

The group of citizens from the Mideast was reportedly captured after sneaking into Arizona on Monday, three days after the Paris attacks and four days after a double suicide bombing in Beirut, Lebanon. The terrorist group ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks in both cities.

But of course there is no possible threat in admitting tens of thousands of refugees and giving amnesty to illegal immigrants, right?

2015-11-26 15:08:02.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Senate passes cyberspy bill

Ars TechnicaThe Senate overwhelming approved the so-called Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) on Tuesday. The measure would allow companies to share consumers' data with the US government in the event of security breaches or cyber attacks—all in the name of cybersecurity.

This seems like a complete disaster from both a security and privacy perspective.

2015-11-26 09:26:51.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

This is the face of Islamophobia

PJMediaA man, who just two years ago was the poster boy for the far-Left media's attacks against the U.S. government's no-fly list for "unfairly" targeting Muslims, finds himself and several family members sitting in a Turkish prison -- arrested earlier this month near the Turkey-Syria border as members of an ISIS cell.

It's a long way from 2013 when Saadiq Long's cause was being championed by MSNBC's Chris Hayes, Glenn Greenwald, and Mother Jones, and was being represented by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) terror front.

It's only a phobia if it's an irrational fear. And while being afraid of every single Muslim is irrational, so is being afraid of none of them.

2015-11-25 09:26:51.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

On the brink of World War III

It appears Turkey has deliberately and with authorization from the top levels of government shot down a Russian military aircraft over Syrian airspace. Forces on the ground shot the pilot after he ejected, and the pilot was dead before he hit the ground.

This is an act of war against Russia.

Turkey is a member of NATO.

If Russia chooses war with Turkey in response, the NATO alliance is likely -- barring some fine print somewhere -- obligated to defend Turkey.

This situation is beginning to disturb my calm.

UPDATE: Russian legislator threatens Turkey with nuclear strike.

2015-11-24 14:12:02.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Study finds common decongestant to be worthless

Ars TechnicaIn a new study of more than 500 adult allergy sufferers, researchers found that the common, over-the-counter(OTC) decongestant, phenylephrine, was no better at unclogging noses than placebo—even when given at higher doses than those currently approved. The study’s authors called on the Food and Drug administration to strike phenylephrine from its list of effective nasal decongestants.

And why did we switch from an effective decongestant sold over the counter to a worthless one sold over the counter and an effective one behind an id-and-address-and-pharmacy door?

Because of the war on drugs.

2015-11-24 09:03:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

What the frack?

CNNWomen, particularly those in developing countries, are on the frontlines of a changing climate. Extreme weather events, deforestation and loss of biodiversity threaten their survival and that of their families. Yet, when confronted with social and economic exclusion, women's vulnerabilities remain hidden and their voices quiet.

What color is the sky of the planet these people live on? Practically by definition "climate change", even if it was real and not a made-up apocalypse fantasy to fuel the religious fervor of those who look with contempt upon traditional religions, is gender neutral. It affects the whole planet. It doesn't care what you've got or haven't got between your legs. The temperature of the planet affects everyone equally because we are all on the same fracking planet.

2015-11-23 17:00:24.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

An admission against interest

Ars TechnicaIn a Washington Post story this morning, a spokesperson for Science confirmed there was nothing rushed about the paper’s publication. It comes as no surprise, seeing as NOAA has no say whatsoever in operations at Science. In fact, the spokesperson noted that the paper took about 50 percent longer than average to reach publication, and it went out to more than the usual three reviewers.

This is an interesting line of defense to take.

First, while NOAA may have no influence over operations at Science, we have seen (in the ClimateGate emails) significant evidence of influence and attempted influence of scientific journals by prominent climate scientists seeking to block publication of articles they did not like. Successfully. And get people they did not like removed from the editorial board of those journals. Successfully. So asserting that NOAA has no official influence over a scientific journal is misleading at best, and whether the journal was pressured by scientists at NOAA unofficially is one of the questions Lamar Smith is seeking to answer.

Second, it is quite possible to rush a paper to publication without involving the journal at all. The authors could rush their work instead, without any influence exerted on the journal at all.

Third, there's an interesting little tidbit dropped here. The paper took 50% longer to average to publish and went out to more than the usual three reviewers. From reading the ClimateGate emails, I get the impression that sending a paper to more than the usual number of reviewers means that at least one of the first three reviewers recommended against publication, and rather than reject the paper or possibly make recommended edits, someone made the decision to seek new reviewers instead.

Overall, I find Ars Technica's attempt to defend this study to be potentially significant evidence for the prosecution.

2015-11-23 13:37:03.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

About those peaceful refugees..

ExpressA MILITARY barracks was on lockdown this morning after a masked gunman rammed the front gate with a car and exchanged fire with Belgian soldiers.

Yes, clearly they are so thankful for the opportunity to escape their war-torn middle-eastern nations and assimilate into Europe peacefully.

2015-11-23 09:03:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Jeb Bush comes out in favor of internet sales taxes

PJMedia“A solution that recognizes that the Internet is here to stay and that there is an increasing disparity, and so long as its not used to raise revenue for governments that parity would make sense,” Bush said. “I think there’s just a compelling argument to be made. It may not have been as compelling 10 years ago when Internet sales were significantly lower, but now it’s an increasing part of the sales mix and brick and mortar companies, businesses do have significant role in our communities.”

This is so insane that the only thing I can think of to explain it is that he must be trying to chase down a big donor, probably one with interests in the "brick and mortar" companies he's talking about.

Doesn't matter, though. Calling for a tax on the internet is a disqualifier for a Republican candidate.

2015-11-22 19:23:38.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Proof Hillary lied to Congress?

2015-11-22 09:03:59.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Failure of Intelligence

2015-11-21 20:49:16.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Five more foreign nationals arrested in US with criminal tools

Fox 19 NowFive foreign nationals arrested on the Ohio Turnpike appeared in court Thursday for a pretrial hearing. Jibril Abdiselam, 24; Mohammeddeq Hassan, 27; Mahamoud Mohamed, 26; Zakaria Warsame, 25, and Said Abu were charged with possessing criminal tools and forgery.

An "improper lane change"? Bullshit. The NSA picked up something, put out the license plate number, and the officers made up an excuse to pull them over.

Fox 19 NowAccording to WKBN, the attorney representing Said Abu stood up said his client wanted the court to know he is an American citizen. All the suspects were born in Somalia and are American citizens.

When they vote, they vote for Democrats. Probably several times.

2015-11-21 15:11:34.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Paris attackers did not use encryption

TechDirtIn the wake of the tragic events in Paris last week encryption has continued to be a useful bogeyman for those with a voracious appetite for surveillance expansion. Like clockwork, numerous reports were quickly circulated suggesting that the terrorists used incredibly sophisticated encryption techniques, despite no evidence by investigators that this was the case. These reports varied in the amount of hallucination involved, the New York Times even having to pull one such report offline. Other claims the attackers had used encrypted Playstation 4 communications also wound up being bunk.

What often escapes the attention of those without the appropriate technical expertise is that encryption represents nothing more than the ability to hold a private conversation. That's a right implicit in the First and Fourth amendments. It is also something that harms no one.

2015-11-21 14:33:10.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Something happening in Brussells

The Gateway PunditThe government of Belgium has raised the terror alert in Brussels to the highest level, 4, and is warning residents to avoid any activity that involves crowds–from public transportation to commercial districts and concerts. The government said no details would released until the morning.

When there are troops on the streets before an attack, it's usually a bad sign.

2015-11-21 12:53:16.0 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]
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