Sunday, June 30, 2013

NSA’s Surveillance Operations the Envy of Former Stasi Commander
...Peering out over the city [Berlin] that lived in fear when the communist party ruled it, he pondered the magnitude of domestic spying in the United States under the Obama administration. A smile spread across his face.

“You know, for us, this would have been a dream come true,” he said, recalling the days when he was a lieutenant colonel in the defunct communist country’s secret police, the Stasi.

In those days, his department was limited to tapping 40 phones at a time, he recalled. Decide to spy on a new victim and an old one had to be dropped, because of a lack of equipment. He finds breathtaking the idea that the U.S. government receives daily reports on the cellphone usage of millions of Americans and can monitor the Internet traffic of millions more.

“So much information, on so many people,” he said....

...“It is the height of naivete to think that once collected this information won’t be used,” he said. “This is the nature of secret government organizations. The only way to protect the people’s privacy is not to allow the government to collect their information in the first place.”...
Aging weather stations contribute to high temperature records
...A paper published in the International Journal of Climatology finds that aging of the solar radiation screens on weather stations is causing a large positive bias in measured temperatures of 1.63°C, which by way of comparison is more than twice the global warming of 0.7°C recorded since the end of the Little Ice Age in 1850.

According to the authors, “During the comparison [of the new vs. 5 year old] and 1 to 3-year-old screens, significant temperature differences were recorded at different times of the day. The differences, wider than the uncertainty amplitude, demonstrate a systematic effect. The temperature measured with the older screen is larger, and the maximum instantaneous difference was 1.63 °C (for 0–5 years comparison) in daytime hours....
Texas teen makes violent joke during video game, is jailed for months
A Texas teenager who has been in jail since March faces an eight-year prison sentence because of a threatening joke he made while playing an online video game.

In February, Justin Carter was playing “League of Legends” — an online, multiplayer fantasy game — when another player wrote a comment calling him insane. Carter’s response, which he now deeply regrets, was intended as joke.

“He replied ‘Oh yeah, I’m real messed up in the head, I’m going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts,’ and the next two lines were lol and jk,” said Jack Carter, Justin’s father, in a statement to a local news channel.

The statements “lol” and “jk” — meaning “laughing out loud” and “just kidding” — indicate that Justin’s statement was entirely sarcastic, said his father.

But a Canadian woman who saw the post looked up Carter’s Austin address, determined that it was near an elementary school, and called the police. Carter was arrested one month later, and has been in jail ever since. He recently celebrated his 19th birthday behind bars.

Authorities charged him with making a terrorist threat. If convicted, he will face eight years in prison....
UPDATE: Charges dismissed against teenager at center of NRA shirt controversy
WOWK has been the only news outlet following every new development in the case of Jared Marcum, the Logan County, West Virginia student who was suspended, arrested and is now facing an obstruction charge after refusing to change his NRA shirt at school. On Monday morning, June 24, Jared's case took yet another turn.

Nearly two weeks before Jared, the 14-year-old at the center of the "T-Shirt Control Controversy", was scheduled to be back in court, he found himself inside of the Logan County Courthouse for an emergency gag order hearing requested by prosecutors Christopher White and Sabrina Deskins. "We were here because the prosecution filed a motion for a gag order," Jared's attorney Ben White said. "My opinion is because, seemingly, they want to take it out of the court of public opinion."

Prosecutors were hoping to bar Jared, his father and his lawyer from sharing their story with the press, under the guise that their request would serve Jared's better interest, something Jared's father Allen Lardieri sees as ironic.

"It was for Jared's better interest is what I was told, which seems to be a bit odd to me," Lardieri said. "These are the same individuals that are trying to prosecute him, so as far as them knowing what is in his better interest, I have a lot of questions about that."...
Kansas City Cop Accused of Shooting Suspect Who Was on His Knees, Surrendering
...They claim Davis had his hands up and was getting on his knees when he was shot at point-blank range.

“His hands were up and he was kneeling,” said Michelle Evans, who was a witness.

Angela Davis, the victim’s mother, had to be led out of the courtroom at one point after she started crying when a picture of her dead son was shown to the jury.

“From up to down this bullet did not go straight into his chest,” said Andrew Protzman, the attorney representing the Davis family. “It went in from up to down.”...
Decisions on Benghazi Security Made at High State Department Levels
The decision to keep U.S. personnel in Benghazi with substandard security was made at the highest levels of the State Department by officials who have so far escaped blame over the Sept. 11 attack, according to a review of recent congressional testimony and internal State Department memos by Fox News. ...
Sexual Predators Remain Employed With NYC Public Schools, Advocacy Group Warns
Dozens of sexual predators are still working in New York City schools because of a broken disciplinary system that allows abusive staff members to keep their jobs, says a new advocacy group headed by former CNN anchor Campbell Brown.

Data obtained by Brown and the Daily News show that officials tried to fire 128 school staffers for sexual misconduct or inappropriate relationships with students since 2007 — but only 33 educators were actually fired....
ABC Agents Mistake Water for Beer
...Consider this recent report. It’s 10 pm and some college students are returning to their car after picking up some items from the grocery store. Out of nowhere, six guys approach quickly in an odd, non-friendly manner. One guy actually jumps on the hood of the car. Another brandishes a gun. The men are talking, but you’re in panic mode thinking a criminal attack is underway. One of your friends is in the back seat yelling to the driver to “Go! Go!” So the driver pulls away. Talk about a harrowing encounter!

Moments later, a police vehicle with flashing lights shows up and so the college students pull over. Turns out the men who had approached the students before were ABC agents (that’s Alcohol Beverage Control) in plain clothes. The agents mistakenly thought the students were in illegal possession of beer.

Let’s pause here to consider the reckless tactics of the police. The police created a situation where citizens had only seconds to respond to what they reasonably perceived to be a criminal attack. Outnumbered and seeing a gun, the driver might well have been justified in driving right over an agent in self-defense had he been blocking the way. It should also be noted that there are now some ten million Americans with carry permits. Had a permit holder been confronted in this situation, he might have fired on these plain clothes officers. And then the officers likely would have fired back. A high risk of deadly force and loss of life over what? Young adults suspected of beer purchase.

But this story is not over.

One of the students, Elizabeth Daly, is arrested and charged with three felonies! 2 counts of assaulting an officer and one count of eluding the police. Add up the possible prison time and she is facing 15 years. She spends time in the jail and her family scrambles to find her an attorney.

Fortunately, the prosecutor exercises his independent judgment on this affair and he drops the charges....
How much damage has Prism done to US tech giants?
...Firms which guarantee client confidentiality – doctors and lawyers, for example – have genuine worries about what could or could not be read. Law firms who regularly end up suing governments are especially worried. New details from the Snowden leaks says that the NSA routinely violates attorney client privilege if "foreign intelligence" is contained within. Even if the NSA doesn't actually end up reading the text of your emails, if you deal with anyone they are watching, you end up on a watch list – which is a recipe for airport harassment all over the world.

Silicon Valley is seen to be too close to the American security services. For example, when Facebook's chief of security left the social media giant, he went straight to work at the NSA. When big tech firms buy up their smaller rivals, they are keen to make deals with the state to improve intelligence access to those services. For example, since Skype was bought by Microsoft, its officials have refused to confirm Skype's original claim that calls can't be tapped, and have updated their privacy policies to demonstrate that they "cooperate with law enforcement as is legally required and technically feasible"....

...This doesn't just worry lawyers and journalists, it worries the tech industry itself, too. Firms like Amazon, Dropbox and Rackspace have bet the farm on secure, easily accessible cloud storage, and now the NSA looks like pulling the rug out from under them. Firms across Europe – like the French state-funded "Sovereign Cloud" – are looking to make a killing, exploiting the fears businesses have. ...
Report: NSA spied on EU institutions
...Spiegel reported in its Saturday online edition that the NSU used bugs, phone taps and cybermonitoring to obtain information from EU institutions in Washington, DC, New York and Brussels.

Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who recently leaked classified documents about the monitoring program, provided the documents the magazine cited in its report.

The documents, marked "top secret" and dated September 2010, specifically name the EU as a "target" for surveillance. The NSA appears to have had access to telephone calls, computer documents and emails....
Did New York Times Scrub ‘War On Coal’ Quote By Obama Advisor?
...Daniel P. Schrag, a geochemist who is the head of Harvard University’s Center for the Environment and a member of a presidential science panel that has helped advise the White House on climate change, said he hoped the presidential speech would mark a turning point in the national debate on climate change.

“Everybody is waiting for action,” he said. “The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.”...

...Ever since current editor Jill Abramson famously said in 2011, “In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion. If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth.” — only to have that quote airbrushed out hours later, it seems like the Times’ touch-up artists have gone into overdrive, removing doubleplusungood crimethink remarks, even after they’ve been quoted by dozens of blogs and Websites — and in this case, the Drudge Report and Instapundit — before the Gray Lady has tossed the original quote down the Memory Hole. But then, each time they airbrush an article, the original quote becomes magnified that much more, much like the Barbra Streisand Effect....
GLENN GREENWALD: The NSA Can Store 'One Billion Cell Phone Calls Every Single Day'
Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald hasn’t published the story yet, but he gave the Socialism Conference in Chicago a big taste of his next reveal:

The National Security Agency can store one billion phone calls each day.

Speaking to a raucous audience via Skype on Friday, Greenwald said the NSA’s “brand-new technology” gives it the power to “redirect into its own repositories one billion cell phone calls every single day.”...
GPS Tracking and a ‘Mosaic Theory’ of Government Searches
...Perhaps ironically, the court’s logic here rests on the so-called “mosaic theory” of privacy, which the government has relied on when resisting Freedom of Information Act requests. The theory holds that pieces of information that are not in themselves sensitive or potentially injurious to national security can nevertheless be withheld, because in combination (with each other or with other public facts) permit the inference of facts that are sensitive or secret. The “mosaic,” in other words, may be far more than the sum of the individual tiles that constitute it. Leaving aside for the moment the validity of the government’s invocation of this idea in FOIA cases, there’s an obvious intuitive appeal to the idea, and indeed, we see that it fits our real world expectations about privacy much better than the cruder theory that assumes the sum of “public” facts must always be itself a public fact....

NSA Surveillance Targets Average Citizens, Not Terrorists
...The Dutch report goes on to say that "Just like criminals and hackers, jihadists use the invisible Web as a hiding place and do their utmost to keep activities from being tracked. Virtual gathering places constructed, administered and secured by fanatical jihadists are hidden inside this invisible Web."

But the NSA's Prism specifically targets Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple, with promises of more high-profile companies to come. Is there value in that? "The AIVD has found that radicalising persons erase their social media accounts sooner or later. They consider the (mostly American) social media to be kuffa (infidel) sites, and therefore unacceptable and unsafe."

Instead of transmitting information in the clear through high-profile social media, Dutch intelligence finds terrorists to be pretty cagey and security conscious....

...So, justifying a surveillance net that focuses on Facebook and Google by uttering the magic word "terrorism" is like rationalizing a wide network of license-plate recognition cameras on the grounds that you may take a snap of a "Honk if You Love Jihad" bumpersticker....

License-Plate Cameras Are Part of the Domestic Surveillance You Didn't Know About
...The DEA has been working by itself and with law-enforcement agencies throughout the southwestern United States to install fixed-location license plate scanners along interstate highways with the stated goal of picking up patterns of movement that may lead to drug smugglers. Of course, to detect pattens, you need to store data, which means building a database recording the passage of vehicles along those highways.

But law-enforcement agencies don't need to create such databases from scratch to record and share information on our movements if they don't want to. They can just plug into the system already established by Vigilant Solutions, which boasts that its National Vehicle Location Service "aggregates between 35-50 million LPR records every month, and is the largest LPR data sharing initiative in the United States."

The quiet but rapid growth in use of license-plate readers is due to the enthusiasm that law enforcement has for the technology. The International Association of Chiefs of Police even adopted a resolution that "strongly encourages the U.S. Congress to fully fund license plate reader and related digital photographing systems, including interrelated information sharing networks, for the northern and southern borders of the United States" and urges other countries to adopt compatible technology to ease data sharing.

That the CIA is investing in Palantir shows that interest in tracking our movements extends beyond law enforcement agencies and into the intelligence community. The surveillance state is better established than most people realize, and reaches far beyond our communications and Internet activities....
Second IRS employee pleads the 5th at Oversight hearing
...Gregory Roseman, who worked as a deputy director of acquisitions at the IRS, exercised his constitutional rights when Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) started interrogating him about panel findings that he helped a friend procure potentially $500 million worth of IRS contracts.

“On the advice of the counsel, I respectfully decline to answer any questions and invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege to remain silent,” Roseman said when Issa asked to whom he reported at the IRS.

Issa continued: “Mr. Roseman, when did you first become aware of a company called Strong Castle Inc.?”

Roseman, who has been removed from his position pending the outcome of an inspector general investigation, repeated his first statement....
Indiana Dem official sentenced to prison for '08 ballot fraud in Obama-Clinton primary
As Hillary Clinton prepares for a possible presidential run in 2016, it appears that she could have knocked then-candidate Barack Obama off the 2008 primary ballot in Indiana.

If anyone, including her campaign, had challenged the names and signatures on the presidential petitions that put Obama on the ballot, election fraud would have been detected during the race.

But at the time, no one did....

...The plot successfully faked names and signatures on both the Obama and Clinton presidential petitions that were used to place the candidates on the ballot. So many names were forged -- an estimated 200 or more -- that prosecutor Stanley Levco said that had the fraud been caught during the primary, "the worst that would have happened, is maybe Barack Obama wouldn't have been on the ballot for the primary."...
Think NSA Spying Is Bad? Here Comes ObamaCare Hub
The Health and Human Services Department earlier this year exposed just how vast the government's data collection efforts will be on millions of Americans as a result of ObamaCare.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., asked HHS to provide "a complete list of agencies that will interact with the Federal Data Services Hub." The Hub is a central feature of ObamaCare, since it will be used by the new insurance exchanges to determine eligibility for benefits, exemptions from the federal mandate, and how much to grant in federal insurance subsidies.

In response, the HHS said the ObamaCare data hub will "interact" with seven other federal agencies: Social Security Administration, the IRS, the Department of Homeland Security, the Veterans Administration, Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Defense and — believe it or not — the Peace Corps. Plus the Hub will plug into state Medicaid databases.

And what sort of data will be "routed through" the Hub? Social Security numbers, income, family size, citizenship and immigration status, incarceration status, and enrollment status in other health plans, according to the HHS.

"The federal government is planning to quietly enact what could be the largest consolidation of personal data in the history of the republic," noted Stephen Parente, a University of Minnesota finance professor....

Los Angeles Public Schools Train Students as Obamacare Missionaries
...The Los Angeles Unified School District will use a state grant to train teens to promote ObamaCare to family members. Covered California, the state's health insurance exchange, announced grants of $37 million on May 14 to promote the nationally unpopular law.

LAUSD will receive $990,000. The district listed as a primary outcome for its project, "Teens trained to be messengers to family members."

Covered California spokeswoman Sarah Soto-Taylor said staff have not questioned this goal.

"We have confidence that the model LA Unified brought to the table will be successful in reaching our target population, which includes family members of students," she said.

Well, of course "staff have not questioned this goal." That's because "LAUSD will also use tax-paid staff to promote ObamaCare through phone calls to students’ homes, in-class presentations, and meetings with employees eligible for ObamaCare’s taxpayer-covered healthcare."

So public school teachers get paid taxpayer dollars to preach Obamacare to their co-workers and the students, so the kids will then go home and sing the glories of the health scheme to the same taxpayers who are funding the whole process. Everybody wins!...

L.A. school district pressuring parents to settle over spoon-fed semen abuse case
...Alleged victims of abuse at Miramonte Elementary have until July 5 to accept recent settlement offers from the Los Angeles Unified School District, officials said Tuesday.

The school district pressed its point with a new website that emphasized that fact with a countdown clock clicking toward the deadline second by second.

“The reason we’re setting up the website is to provide information to the community — both to the community at Miramonte and to the taxpaying community at large,” said Sean Rossall, an L.A. Unified spokesman.

“There is a finite time on these offers,” he said. “The idea is not to ratchet up the pressure, but to make sure the community understands there are deadlines on this.”

Attorneys representing alleged victims have accused the district of trying to strong-arm their clients into settling for less than they deserve. They have scheduled a news conference for Wednesday morning to respond.

The damage claims stem from allegations that former teacher Mark Berndt spoon-fed his semen to blindfolded students as part of what he called a “tasting game,” among other alleged incidents of abusive conduct....
Nearly 1,200 people have starved to death in NHS hospitals because 'nurses are too busy to feed patients'
As many as 1,165 people starved to death in NHS hospitals over the past four years fuelling claims nurses are too busy to feed their patients.

The Department of Health branded the figures 'unacceptable' and said the number of unannounced inspections by the care watchdog will increase.

According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics following a Freedom of Information request, for every patient who dies from malnutrition, four more have dehydration mentioned on their death certificate.

Critics say nurses are too busy to feed patients and often food and drink are placed out of reach of vulnerable people.

In 2011, 43 patients starved to death and 291 died in a state of severe malnutrition, while the number of patients discharged from hospital suffering from malnutrition doubled to 5,558....
IRS Chief Confirms Targeting of Tea Party Groups
...The acting head of the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday that evidence so far shows only conservative groups underwent extra scrutiny cited by an inspector general’s disclosure of the agency’s targeting of applications for tax exempt status. . . .

IRS screeners used conservative-themed criteria such as “tea party” on “Be on the Lookout” or BOLO lists to determine if groups underwent further review for political activity that would make them ineligible, according to Werfel and the inspector general who first revealed the targeting.

Another category of the BOLO lists also had liberal-themed criteria including “progressives,” but that category didn’t set off the automatic extra scrutiny for political activity faced by conservative groups, according to a letter to the panel this week by Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George.

Under tough questioning Thursday at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Werfel acknowledged that the different BOLO categories meant liberal groups avoided the extra scrutiny cited by the inspector general...

...Based on the information you flagged regarding the existence of a “Progressives” entry on BOLO lists, TIGTA performed additional research which determined that six tax-exempt applications filed between May 2010 and May 2012 having the words “progress” or “progressive” in their names were included in the 298 cases the IRS identified as potential political cases. We also determined that 14 tax-exempt applications filed between May 2010 and May 2012 using the words “progress” or “progressive” in their names were not referred for added scrutiny as potential political cases. In total, 30 percent of the organizations we identified with the words “progress” or “progressive” in their names were processed as potential political cases. In comparison, our audit found that 100 percent of the tax-exempt applications with Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in their names were processed as potential political cases during the timeframe of our audit....

‘Lookout List’ Not Much Broader Than Originally Thought, Contrary to Reports
...A November 2010 version of the list obtained by National Review Online, however, suggests that while the list did contain the word “progressive,” screeners were in fact instructed to treat “progressive” groups differently from “tea party” groups. Whereas screeners were merely alerted that a designation of 501(c)(3) status “may not be appropriate” for applications containing the word ”progressive” – 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from conducting any political activities – they were told to send those of tea-party groups off IRS higher-ups for further scrutiny.

That means the applications of progressive groups could be approved on the spot by line agents, while those of tea-party groups could not. Furthermore, the November 2010 list noted that tea-party cases were “currently being coordinated with EOT,” which stands for Exempt Organizations Technical, a group of tax lawyers in Washington, D.C. Those of progressive groups were not. ...

J. Russell George: No Sign Progressives Were Mistreated By IRS
...But it has not yet been clearly shown that as many faced the same extent of mistreatment as conservative organizations. Dozens of conservative groups experienced delays of a year or more, and many received scores of detailed questions that officials have since said were overly intrusive, including demands for information about their donors.

In his letter, George said his investigators have "multiple sources of information corroborating" that tea party groups' applications were set aside for close examinations, including interviews with IRS employees, emails and other documents.

But George added, "We found no indication in any of these other materials that `progressives' was a term used to refer cases for scrutiny for political campaign intervention."...

GOP congressman hits back against Dem claim that IRS targeted progressives, too
...Ways and Means Democrats did not call any progressive victims of IRS targeting at the committee’s hearing on IRS victims.

“I do want to note that the minority was given the opportunity to call a witness, but did not present a witness that had been affected by taxpayer activity — by IRS activity. So, that’s why there is no minority witness at the table today,” Camp said at the June 4 Ways and Means hearing, in response to Democratic Rep. Ron Kind’s complaint that no progressive victims were present at the hearing. Camp later said at the hearing that he welcomed potential progressive victims to come forward, but that no progressive groups had done so by June 4....
What's Really 'Immoral' About Student Loans
...According to an extensive 2012 analysis by the Associated Press of college graduates 25 and younger, 50% are either unemployed or in jobs that don't require a college degree. Then there are the large numbers who don't graduate at all. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, more than 40% of full-time students at four-year institutions fail to graduate within six years. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that almost 75% of community-college students fail to graduate within three years. Those students don't have degrees, but they often still have debt.

Why do students have so much debt? According to a recent study by Mark Perry, a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan at Flint, between 1978 and 2011 college tuition in the U.S. increased at an annual rate of 7.45%, vastly exceeding the rate of inflation and the almost-stagnant rate of growth in family incomes....

...Now here's where the real immorality kicks in. The skyrocketing cost of a college education is a classic unintended consequence of government intervention. Colleges have responded to the availability of easy federal money by doing what subsidized industries generally do: Raising prices to capture the subsidy. Sold as a tool to help students cope with rising college costs, student loans have instead been a major contributor to the problem...
Is Obama Collecting Data on Gun Owners?
...Senators are questioning whether the National Security Agency collected bulk data on more than just Americans’ phone records, such as firearm and book purchases.

A bipartisan group of 26 senators, led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to detail the scope and limits of the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities in a letter released Friday.

“We are concerned that by depending on secret interpretations of the PATRIOT Act that differed from an intuitive reading of the statute, this program essentially relied for years on a secret body of law,” the senators wrote in the letter.

The NSA’s surveillance program has come under intense scrutiny following a leak revealing the agency harvested the phone metadata of millions of American citizens.

The senators noted that the federal government’s authority under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act is broad and rife with potential for abuse. Among the senators’ concerns was whether the NSA’s bulk data harvesting program could be used to construct a gun registry or violate other privacy laws....

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sheriff's Deputies Beat and Jail Attorney For Comforting His Client
...Sheriff Joe Arpaio's lawyer-hating deputies beat an attorney so badly his brain bled and his shoulder was dislocated as he tried to calm down a client at the scene of an accident, the attorney and client say in separate lawsuits.

Daniel Kloberdanz and his employee and client, Valarie Lingenfelder, sued Arpaio, Maricopa County, its Sheriff's Office and other county employees, in Maricopa County Court. ...

Kloberdanz says he "asked [Officer Joseph] Pellino, very politely, words to the effect, 'Can I please go over and try to calm her down, I'm the only person she knows here.'"

Pellino then asked Lingenfelder "words to the effect, 'Do you know this man?' Lingenfelder then said, 'Yes, he's my friend, [then a slight pause] and he's my attorney.'

Pellino then walked back towards Kloberdanz, and before Kloberdanz could finish a sentence again requesting to approach Lingenfelder, much to Kloberdanz's surprise, Pellino shoved Kloberdanz in his chest so hard it knocked him over," the complaint states. (Brackets in complaint.)

The complaint continues: "Pellino shoved Kloberdanz so hard it left bruises on Kloberdanz's upper chest below his collar bone. From the shove, Kloberdanz slipped on the gravel and rolled on the ground, avoiding hitting his head on the gravel. Once Kloberdanz got his footing back, he stood up.

"Kloberdanz did not do or say anything that might intimidate or aggravate Pellino, knowing he had a gun and short temper.

"Again, Pellino immediately approached Kloberdanz aggressively and began yelling words to the effect that 'I don't need you guys telling me how to do my job,' as he tackled Kloberdanz to the ground....
Surveillance State News: Snowden Breaks for Moscow, McClatchy on the “Insider Threat Program”
...President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.

Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material. They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage....
Christian Domestic Discipline Promotes Spanking Wives To Maintain Biblical Marriage
When a follower of the Christian Domestic Discipline movement decides what to hit his God-fearing wife with, research is important. A hairbrush, for example, is "excellent for achieving the desired sting" but can break easily. Alternatively, a ping pong paddle is quiet and sturdy but may not sting as much as is required to get the message across.

These bits of information are among the tips and tricks detailed in the Beginning Domestic Discipline's "Beginner's Packet," a 54-page document that lays out the basic principles and practices of CDD. ...
What Cop T-Shirts Tell Us About Police Culture
...In 2003, officers with the Kern County, California ,Sheriff's Department went beyond t-shirts and put the slogan "We'll Kick Your Ass" directly on the department's squad cars. The sheriff later had them removed. That department too has frequently been in the headlines over the years, most recently in March after deputies beat an unarmed man to death, then attempted to seize the cell phones of witnesses who recorded the beating. It has since been alleged that they deleted some of the captured footage....
No, NSA Spying Did NOT Prevent a Terror Attack on Wall Street
...However, Mr. Ouazzani pleaded guilty to providing material support – in his case, money – to Al Qaeda, not to terror planning. His May 2010 plea agreement makes no mention of anything related to the New York Stock Exchange, or any bomb plot, notes David Kravets in Wired magazine.

Plus, Ouazzani’s defense attorney said Tuesday the stock market allegation was news to him.

“Khalid Ouazzani was not involved in any plot to bomb the New York Stock Exchange,” attorney Robin Fowler told Wired....

...Little was offered to substantiate claims that the programs have been successful in stopping acts of terrorism that would not have been caught with narrower surveillance. In the New York subway bombing case, President Barack Obama conceded the would-be bomber might have been caught with less sweeping surveillance....

...Postscript: Mr. Ouazzani giving $23,000 to Al Qaeda is indeed a crime. He supported Al Qaeda, and was rightly prosecuted and convicted for that crime. But given that the American government has been providing arms, money and logistical support to Al Qaeda in Syria, Libya, Mali, Bosnia and other countries – and related Muslim terrorists in Chechnya, Iran, and many other countries – Mr. Ouazzani’s support for terrorism seems rather small in comparison.
IG Report Confirms PJ Media: Obama DOJ’s Leftist Election Lawyer Hiring Blitz
It took a few years, but the report issued this week by the DOJ inspector general confirms reporting (here) by PJ Media: the powerful DOJ Voting Section ran an ideologically charged attorney recruitment and hiring effort that deliberately sought left-leaning lawyers.

Sources familiar with the thinking of Civil Rights Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez report that he and others in the department believe the damning inspector general report actually vindicates the attorney hiring decisions over the last few years in the Civil Rights Division. In essence, Perez believes that the report shows that the attorneys were qualified.

He must not have read page 218 of the report. And Perez, of course, misses entirely the point of the charges levied at the division about hiring per our Every Single One series.

Qualifications weren’t the core issue, ideological biases were.

And on that score, the IG report offers Perez no quarter. In fact, the IG report concludes that the criteria — that only attorneys with experience working at a civil rights organization, which is invariably (and empirically) left of center, will be hired — should not be a qualification in the future. Perez should know better than to claim that the report vindicates the division’s hiring decisions, because Perez himself complained about the recommendation to jettison this “civil rights group experience” qualification....
IRS lawyer who donated $4,000 to Obama's 2008 campaign, and hovered over Inspector General interviews with subordinates, emerges as villain in tea party scandal
An IRS deputy who worked in Washington, DC until she was placed on administrative leave two weeks ago, and who donated $4,000 toward Barack Obama's first presidential election, is emerging as a major target of House Republicans on the powerful Oversight and Government Reform Committee as they creep closer to an explanation for partisan targeting of conservative organizations in recent years.

Holly Paz, a supervisor in the IRS's Washington, DC office that issued rulings on tax-exempt groups, made a $2,000 contribution directly to the Obama for America war chest, and another $2,000 to the separate Obama Victory Fund, both in 2008, according to Federal Election Commission documents.

She has also been named as the attorney who monitored interviews conducted with IRS employees by Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George, as he investigated what would explode in May 2013 as a major crisis for the White House....

DC IRS Supervisor Admits Scrutinizing Tea Party Groups’ Applications
WASHINGTON — An Internal Revenue Service supervisor in Washington says she was personally involved in scrutinizing some of the earliest applications from Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status, including some requests that languished for more than a year without action.

Holly Paz, who until recently was a top deputy in the division that handles applications for tax-exempt status, told congressional investigators she reviewed 20 to 30 applications. Her assertion contradicts initial claims by the agency that a small group of agents working in an office in Cincinnati were solely responsible for mishandling the applications....
Local Governments Reeling Under ObamaCare Costs
When Regal Entertainment Group (RGC) in April blamed ObamaCare for the fact that it was cutting some of its workers' hours, backers of the law mounted a furious backlash against the theater chain, among other things filling its Facebook page with boycott threats.

"Greed and selfishness make me sick," one of them said.

Darden Restaurants (DRI) felt this intense heat last year after suggesting it might shift to more part-time work to minimize the cost of the law's mandate that companies offer coverage to all their full-time workers. CEO Clarence Otis even blamed its lowered outlook for 2013 in part on "recent negative media coverage" over "how we might accommodate health care reform."

Yet while private companies are getting all this unwelcome and hostile attention, local governments across the country have been quietly doing exactly the same thing — cutting part-time hours specifically so they can skirt ObamaCare's costly employer mandate, while complaining about the law in some of the harshest terms anyone has uttered in public.

The result is that part-time government workers — many of them low-income — face pay cuts that can top $3,000 a year, and yet will still be left without employer-provided benefits....

Survey Finds that 41 Percent of Small Business Owners Have Frozen Hiring Because of Obamacare
...Forty-one percent of the businesses surveyed have frozen hiring because of the health-care law known as Obamacare. And almost one-fifth—19 percent— answered "yes" when asked if they had "reduced the number of employees you have in your business as a specific result of the Affordable Care Act."

The poll was taken by 603 owners whose businesses have under $20 million in annual sales.

Another 38 percent of the small business owners said they "have pulled back on their plans to grow their business" because of Obamacare....
Exclusive: Whistleblower Says State Department Trying to Bully Her Into Silence
The State Department investigator who accused colleagues last week of using drugs, soliciting prostitutes, and having sex with minors says that Foggy Bottom is now engaged in an "intimidation" campaign to stop her.

Last week's leaks by Aurelia Fedenisn, a former State Department inspector general investigator, shined a light on alleged wrongdoing by U.S. officials around the globe. But her attorney Cary Schulman tells The Cable that Fedenisn has paid a steep price: "They had law enforcement officers camp out in front of her house, harass her children and attempt to incriminate herself." ...

... After the CBS News made inquiries to the State Department about the charges, Schulman says investigators from the State Department's Inspector General promptly arrived at Fedenisn's door. "They talked to both kids and never identified themselves," he said. "First the older brother and then younger daughter, a minor, asking for their mom's place of work and cell phone number ... They camped out for four to five hours."

Schulman says the purpose of the visit was to get Fedenisn to sign a document admitting that she stole State Department materials, such as the memos leaked to CBS. Schulman says it was crucial that she didn't sign the document because her separation agreement with the State Department includes a provision allowing disclosures of misconduct. Furthermore, none of the materials were classified. ...

Benghazi Target Dragged Into Prostitution Cover Up Scandal
Foggy Bottom's under secretary of state for management is under scrutiny once again. Kennedy's name has surfaced in news reports about an alleged State Department cover up of an ambassador who's accused of soliciting prostitutes. The reports come just two weeks after House investigators hit Kennedy with a subpoena for his role in the drafting of Benghazi talking points. Kennedy's role in this latest snafu is unclear. But a State Department official tells The Cable that Kennedy, who was been pilloried by House lawmakers since October, was not deeply involved.

On Monday, CBS News uncovered documents showing the State Department may have covered up allegations of misconduct by its employees ranging from soliciting prostitutes to obtaining narcotics from an "underground drug ring." According to the CBS, an internal memo from the department's Inspector General says investigations into misconduct were "influenced, manipulated, or simply called off" by more senior State Department officials.

One of those investigations involved an unnamed ambassador accused of repeatedly soliciting prostitutes. Kennedy reportedly interviewed the ambassador, who promptly returned to his regular duties without being disciplined...
Federal Regulations Have Made You 75 Percent Poorer
The growth of federal regulations over the past six decades has cut U.S. economic growth by an average of 2 percentage points per year, according to a new study in the Journal of Economic Growth. As a result, the average American household receives about $277,000 less annually than it would have gotten in the absence of six decades of accumulated regulations—a median household income of $330,000 instead of the $53,000 we get now.

The researchers, economists John Dawson of Appalachian State University and John Seater of North Carolina State, constructed an index of federal regulations by tracking the growth in the number of pages in the Code of Federal Regulations since 1949. The number of pages, they note, has increased six-fold from 19,335 in 1949 to 134,261 in 2005. (As of 2011, the number of pages had risen to 169,301.) They devise a pretty standard endogenous growth theory model and then insert their regulatory burden index to calculate how federal regulations have affected economic growth. (Sometimes deregulation extends rather than shortens the number of pages in the register; they adjust their figures to take this into account.)

Annual output in 2005, they conclude, "is 28 percent of what it would have been had regulation remained at its 1949 level." ...
What Gets a Bad Cop Punished? How About Intimidation, Abduction and Sexual Coercion?
...Over the next week, Steele arranges several meetings with Mom under the guise of discussing RM’s case. One such meeting is at Steele’s apartment and he tells Mom that he thinks he might be able to get RM out of detention because he can cut through all the damn red tape. And he wants to help out because he does not personally believe RM was involved. Then Steele changes the subject (or tries to anyway) to sex. Mom goes along with the overture because she believes Steele is the one who has the power to get her son’s release.

That's actually a bit delicate. The court says, "During one of Alicia’s visits to Steele’s apartment, Steele asked her to engage in sexual activity with him. Alicia testified that she complied with Steele’s requests because she believed that he had the power over R.M.’s release."

That's right, R.M. is cooling his heels in jail all this time, even though Steele, the arresting officer, suspects him of nothing other than, apparently, having a hot mom. From the Supreme Court of Ohio, again:

The prosecutor mistakenly assumed that R.M. had been sent home on the day of his arrest. When, on the ninth day, she discovered that R.M. was still in lock-up, she immediately had R.M. released and dismissed his charges....

...The facts underlying Steele’s charge for abduction wereinextricably intertwined with those underlying the charges for intimidation. He took R.M. out of school in handcuffs, placed him in an interrogation room, and blatantly intimidated him with dire threats directed at his entire family, including his school-aged siblings. ...

[T]here is nothing in the record to support the proposition that Steele had anything even approaching probable cause to arrest when he took this youngster out of school in handcuffs....
No significant warming for 17 years 4 months
...Superimposing the temperature curve and its least-squares linear-regression trend on the statistical insignificance region bounded by the means of the trends on these published uncertainties since January 1996 demonstrates that there has been no statistically-significant warming in 17 years 4 months...

...It is better to focus on the ever-widening discrepancy between predicted and observed warming rates. The IPCC’s forthcoming Fifth Assessment Report backcasts the interval of 34 models’ global warming projections to 2005, since when the world should have been warming at a rate equivalent to 2.33 Cº/century. Instead, it has been cooling at a rate equivalent to a statistically-insignificant 0.87 Cº/century...
State photo-ID databases become troves for police
The faces of more than 120 million people are in searchable photo databases that state officials assembled to prevent driver’s-license fraud but that increasingly are used by police to identify suspects, accomplices and even innocent bystanders in a wide range of criminal investigations.

The facial databases have grown rapidly in recent years and generally operate with few legal safeguards beyond the requirement that searches are conducted for “law enforcement purposes.” Amid rising concern about the National Security Agency’s high-tech surveillance aimed at foreigners, it is these state-level facial-recognition programs that more typically involve American citizens.

The most widely used systems were honed on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq as soldiers sought to identify insurgents. The increasingly widespread deployment of the technology in the United States has helped police find murderers, bank robbers and drug dealers, many of whom leave behind images on surveillance videos or social-media sites that can be compared against official photo databases.

But law enforcement use of such facial searches is blurring the traditional boundaries between criminal and non-criminal databases, putting images of people never arrested in what amount to perpetual digital lineups. The most advanced systems allow police to run searches from laptop computers in their patrol cars and offer access to the FBI and other federal authorities....

NSA spying flap extends to contents of U.S. phone calls
The National Security Agency has acknowledged in a new classified briefing that it does not need court authorization to listen to domestic phone calls, a participant in the briefing said.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that."

If the NSA wants "to listen to the phone," an analyst's decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. "I was rather startled," said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee.

Not only does this disclosure shed more light on how the NSA's formidable eavesdropping apparatus works domestically, it also suggests the Justice Department has secretly interpreted federal surveillance law to permit thousands of low-ranking analysts to eavesdrop on phone calls. ...

Schneier on Security
...But there are unintended consequences of the NSA scandal that will undermine U.S. foreign policy interests -- in particular, the "Internet Freedom" agenda espoused by the U.S. State Department and its allies.

The revelations that have emerged will undoubtedly trigger a reaction abroad as policymakers and ordinary users realize the huge disadvantages of their dependence on U.S.-controlled networks in social media, cloud computing, and telecommunications, and of the formidable resources that are deployed by U.S. national security agencies to mine and monitor those networks.

Writing about the new Internet nationalism, I talked about the ITU meeting in Dubai last fall, and the attempt of some countries to wrest control of the Internet from the US. That movement just got a huge PR boost. Now, when countries like Russia and Iran say the US is simply too untrustworthy to manage the Internet, no one will be able to argue....
Pathological Altruism: The Road to Hell Really Is Often Paved With Good Intentions Argues New Study
In a remarkably interesting new paper, “Concepts and implications of altruism bias and pathological altruism,” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Oakland University systems engineer Barbara Oakley argues that intentions to help people all too often hurt them. Unintended harm is the outcome of she what calls pathological altruism. She defines pathological altruism “as behavior in which attempts to promote the welfare of another, or others, results instead in harm that an external observer would conclude was reasonably foreseeable.” In her study Oakley explores the psychological and evolutionary underpinnings of empathy and altruism and how they can go wrong. It turns out that pathological altruism is a pervasive problem affecting public policy...

...Good government is a foundation of large-scale societies; government programs are designed to minimize a variety of social problems. Although virtually every program has its critics, well designed programs can be effective in bettering people’s lives with few negative tradeoffs. From a scientifically-based perspective, however, some programs are deeply problematic, often as a result of superficial notions on the part of program designers or implementers about what is genuinely beneficial for others, coupled with a lack of accountability for ensuing programmatic failures. In these pathologically altruistic enterprises, confirmation bias, discounting, motivated reasoning, and egocentric certitude that our approach is the best—in short, the usual biases that underlie pathologies of altruism—appear to play important roles....
Gun play: 'Zero tolerance' toward schoolkids could backfire, says expert
Little boys around the nation keep getting in trouble for guns – whether they’re made of plastic, formed by fingers or even fashioned from Pop-Tarts – but some experts say having “zero tolerance” for games children have played for centuries is turning the adults into bullies and backfiring on kids.

Elementary educators trying to discourage children from settling pretend beefs with pretend guns is nothing new. But in the aftermath of the Connecticut school shooting, and with the grownups increasingly polarized over the Second Amendment, rules for recess, on the bus and in the classroom have become stricter than ever.

Some say too strict.

“These zero-tolerance policies are psychotic, in the strict sense of the word: psychotic means ‘out of touch with reality,’” Dr. Leonard Sax, a Pennsylvania psychologist and family physician, and author of “Boys Adrift,” told

...“Out-of-touch policies such as these, which criminalize behaviors which have always been common among young kids, are contributing to the growing proportion of American kids, especially boys, who regard school as a stupid waste of time and who can’t wait to get out of school so that they can get back to playing their video games,” Sax said....

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Original NSA Whistleblower: I Know The NSA Wiretapped Barack Obama In 2004 Because I Saw The Order
Russ Tice worked as an offensive National Security Agency (NSA) agent from 2002 to 2005, before becoming a source for this Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times article exposing NSA domestic spying.

This week he appeared on the Boiling Frogs Show and detailed how he had his hands "in the nitty-gritty, the nuts and bolts" during his 20 years as a U.S. intelligence analyst.

Tice claimed that he held NSA wiretap orders targeting numerous members of the U.S. government, including one for a young senator from Illinois named Barack Obama....

...Tice added that he also saw orders to spy on Hillary Clinton, Senators John McCain and Diane Feinstein, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, Gen. David Petraeus, and a current Supreme Court Justice....
US steps up efforts to break Guantánamo hunger strike
Increasingly brutal tactics are being used in an attempt to break the hunger strike by detainees at Guantánamo Bay, according to fresh testimony from the last British resident still held in the camp.

Shaker Aamer claims that the US authorities are systematically making the regime more hardline to try to defuse the strike, which now involves almost two-thirds of the detainees. Techniques include making cells "freezing cold" to accentuate the discomfort of those on hunger strike and the introduction of "metal-tipped" feeding tubes, which Aamer said were forced into inmates' stomachs twice a day and caused detainees to vomit over themselves.

The 46-year-old from London tells of one detainee who was admitted to hospital 10 days ago after a nurse had pushed the tube into his lungs rather than his stomach, causing him later to cough up blood. Aamer also alleges that some nurses at Guantánamo Bay are refusing to wear their name tags in order to prevent detainees registering abuse complaints against staff.

Speaking last week from the camp in Cuba, exactly four months after he joined the hunger strike, Aamer said: "The administration is getting ever more angry and doing everything they can to break our hunger strike. Honestly, I wish I was dead."

The momentum behind efforts to release Aamer – who has spent more than 11 years without trial inside the camp – mounted sharply last week with David Cameron raising the issue directly with the US president, Barack Obama, during the G8 summit in Northern Ireland....
Data Miners Liken Obama Voters To Caesars Gamblers
"As Steve Wozniak publicly laments how government used new technologies he introduced in unintended ways to monitor people, the NY Times reports how the digital masterminds behind the Obama Presidential campaign are cashing in by bringing the secret, technologically advanced formulas used for reaching voters to commercial advertisers. 'The plan is to bring the same Big Data expertise that guided the most expensive presidential campaign in history to companies and nonprofits,' explains Civis Analytics, which is backed by Google Chairman and Obama advisor Eric Schmidt. Also boasting senior members of Obama's campaign team is Analytics Media Group (A.M.G.), which pitched that 'keeping gamblers loyal to Caesars was not all that different from keeping onetime Obama voters from straying to Mitt Romney.' The extent to which the Obama campaign used the newest tech tools to look into people's lives was largely shrouded, the Times reports, but included data mining efforts that triggered Facebook's internal safeguard alarms. ... 'We asked to see [voter's Facebook] photos but really we were looking for who were tagged in photos with you, which was a really great way to dredge up old college friends — and ex-girlfriends.' The Times also explains how the Obama campaign was able to out-optimize the Romney campaign on TV buys by obtaining set-top box TV show viewing information from cable companies for voters on the Obama campaign's 'persuadable voters' list. "...
Top Shulman aide frequent White House visitor
While congressional lawmakers are questioning why former Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman paid dozens of visits to the White House during his tenure, Shulman’s top political aide seems to have spent even more time working side-by-side with members of the Obama administration.

White House visitor logs show Shulman’s chief of staff, Jonathan M. Davis, appears to have visited the White House and adjacent Eisenhower office building as many as 310 times between the fall of 2009 and February 2013.

Davis’ background is in technology and had no expertise on tax issues , according to some IRS sources who said Davis served mostly as a political aide who served with Shulman to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, where Shulman was vice chairman, and then followed him to the IRS....
Yes, IRS harassment blunted the Tea Party ground game
...In a new research paper, Andreas Madestam (from Stockholm University), Daniel Shoag and David Yanagizawa-Drott (both from the Harvard Kennedy School), and I set out to find out how much impact the Tea Party had on voter turnout in the 2010 election. We compared areas with high levels of Tea Party activity to otherwise similar areas with low levels of Tea Party activity, using data from the Census Bureau, the FEC, news reports, and a variety of other sources. We found that the effect was huge: the movement brought the Republican Party some 3 million-6 million additional votes in House races. That is an astonishing boost, given that all Republican House candidates combined received fewer than 45 million votes. It demonstrates conclusively how important the party's newly energized base was to its landslide victory in those elections, and how worried Democratic strategists must have been about the conservative movement's momentum.

The Tea Party movement's huge success was not the result of a few days of work by an elected official or two, but involved activists all over the country who spent the year and a half leading up to the midterm elections volunteering, organizing, donating, and rallying. Much of these grassroots activities were centered around 501(c)4s, which according to our research were an important component of the Tea Party movement and its rise.

The bottom line is that the Tea Party movement, when properly activated, can generate a huge number of votes-more votes in 2010, in fact, than the vote advantage Obama held over Romney in 2012. The data show that had the Tea Party groups continued to grow at the pace seen in 2009 and 2010, and had their effect on the 2012 vote been similar to that seen in 2010, they would have brought the Republican Party as many as 5 - 8.5 million votes compared to Obama's victory margin of 5 million.

President Obama's margin of victory in some of the key swing states was fairly small: a mere 75,000 votes separated the two contenders in Florida, for example. That is less than 25% of our estimate of what the Tea Party's impact in Florida was in 2010. Looking forward to 2012 in 2010 undermining the Tea Party's efforts there must have seemed quite appealing indeed....

...It might be purely accidental that the government targeted precisely this biggest threat to the president. It may just be that a bureaucracy dominated by liberals picked up on not-so-subtle dog whistles from its political leadership. Or, it might be that direct orders were given. In any case, it doesn't take a conspiracy theorist to note that the president's team was competent enough to recognize the threat from the Tea Party and take it seriously. The Obama campaign has made no secret of its efforts to revolutionize turnout models for the most recent campaign. Its remarkable competence turning out its own voters has been widely discussed, and it seems quite plausible that efforts to suppress the Republican vote would have been equally sophisticated....
A cooling consensus
GLOBAL warming has slowed. The rate of warming of over the past 15 years has been lower than that of the preceding 20 years. There is no serious doubt that our planet continues to heat, but it has heated less than most climate scientists had predicted. Nate Cohn of the New Republic reports: "Since 1998, the warmest year of the twentieth century, temperatures have not kept up with computer models that seemed to project steady warming; they’re perilously close to falling beneath even the lowest projections".

Mr Cohn does his best to affirm that the urgent necessity of acting to retard warming has not abated, as does Brad Plumer of the Washington Post, as does this newspaper. But there's no way around the fact that this reprieve for the planet is bad news for proponents of policies, such as carbon taxes and emissions treaties, meant to slow warming by moderating the release of greenhouse gases. The reality is that the already meagre prospects of these policies, in America at least, will be devastated if temperatures do fall outside the lower bound of the projections that environmentalists have used to create a panicked sense of emergency. Whether or not dramatic climate-policy interventions remain advisable, they will become harder, if not impossible, to sell to the public, which will feel, not unreasonably, that the scientific and media establishment has cried wolf.

Dramatic warming may exact a terrible price in terms of human welfare, especially in poorer countries. But cutting emissions enough to put a real dent in warming may also put a real dent in economic growth. This could also exact a terrible humanitarian price, especially in poorer countries. Given the so-far unfathomed complexity of global climate and the tenuousness of our grasp on the full set of relevant physical mechanisms, I have favoured waiting a decade or two in order to test and improve the empirical reliability of our climate models, while also allowing the economies of the less-developed parts of the world to grow unhindered, improving their position to adapt to whatever heavy weather may come their way. I have been told repeatedly that "we cannot afford to wait". More distressingly, my brand of sceptical empiricism has been often met with a bludgeoning dogmatism about the authority of scientific consensus....

...If this is true, then the public has been systematically deceived. As it has been presented to the public, the scientific consensus extended precisely to that which is now seems to be in question: the sensitivity of global temperature to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Indeed, if the consensus had been only that greenhouse gases have some warming effect, there would have been no obvious policy implications at all. ...
No One is Innocent
I broke the law yesterday and again today and I will probably break the law tomorrow. Don’t mistake me, I have done nothing wrong. I don’t even know what laws I have broken. Nevertheless, I am reasonably confident that I have broken some laws, rules, or regulations recently because its hard for anyone to live today without breaking the law. Doubt me? Have you ever thrown out some junk mail that came to your house but was addressed to someone else? That’s a violation of federal law punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Harvey Silverglate argues that a typical American commits three felonies a day. I think that number is too high but it is easy to violate the law without intent or knowledge. Most crimes used to be based on the common law and ancient understandings of wrong (murder, assault, theft and so on) but today there are thousands of federal criminal laws that bear no relation to common law or common understanding....

...If someone tracked you for a year are you confident that they would find no evidence of a crime? Remember, under the common law, mens rea, criminal intent, was a standard requirement for criminal prosecution but today that is typically no longer the case especially under federal criminal law .

Faced with the evidence of an non-intentional crime, most prosecutors, of course, would use their discretion and not threaten imprisonment. Evidence and discretion, however, are precisely the point. Today, no one is innocent and thus our freedom is maintained only by the high cost of evidence and the prosecutor’s discretion.

One of the responses to the revelations about the mass spying on Americans by the NSA and other agencies is “I have nothing to hide. What me worry?” I tweeted in response “If you have nothing to hide, you live a boring life.” More fundamentally, the NSA spying machine has reduced the cost of evidence so that today our freedom–or our independence–is to a large extent at the discretion of those in control of the panopticon.
Father says he's still paying child support for 3-year-old son who died 25 years ago
DETROIT (WXYZ) - Lional Campbell's son, Michael, passed away at the age of three from acute meningitis.

"It took a lot out of me," says Campbell who is from Detroit and now lives in Kentucky. And it's that distance that is making it even more difficult for Campbell to wage a fight with the Wayne County Friend of the Court over child support that Campbell says he is still paying for Michael.

A spokesperson for the Friend of the Court says no one ever notified them of the boy's death until Campbell began asking why he still owed child support in 2011 for a child that was deceased by the age of 3.

For years, Campbell never questioned paying child support to Friend of the Court because he thought the money was for what he owed for an older son he fathered with Michael's mother.

The older son was born seven years before Michael and is now 34 years old....

Here's to American dads
...For one thing, in the American legal system, men have absolutely no say in the reproductive decisions of the women they impregnate. What’s more, as Dr. Helen Smith argues in her new book “Men On Strike,” men are responding to a culture that’s hostile to them. “Most men are not acting irresponsibly because they are immature or because they want to harm women,” she writes. “They are acting rationally in response to the lack of incentives today’s society offers them to be responsible fathers, husbands and providers.”

I think that’s an overstatement. But, as Smith notes, courts almost always favor the mother in child custody and child support decisions. Revealingly, the federal government spends $5 billion a year to enforce child support (usually from fathers) but just $10 million to enforce visitation rights (generally on behalf of fathers)....
"Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question."
--Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801.

If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?
--Frédéric Bastiat
NJ Supreme Court Rules State Can Seek Custody Of Child Without Evidence Of Abuse
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled this week that authorities can seek custody of a child, even where there’s no evidence of abuse or neglect....

...Autin says under the court’s ruling, the state can get custody of a child with behavior problems if it proves that the parent can’t provide the type of services the child needs and the services are in the child’s best interest. She says the division can get custody without using the state’s abuse and neglect law....
Web’s Reach Binds N.S.A. and Silicon Valley Leaders
WASHINGTON — When Max Kelly, the chief security officer for Facebook, left the social media company in 2010, he did not go to Google, Twitter or a similar Silicon Valley concern. Instead the man who was responsible for protecting the personal information of Facebook’s more than one billion users from outside attacks went to work for another giant institution that manages and analyzes large pools of data: the National Security Agency.

Mr. Kelly’s move to the spy agency, which has not previously been reported, underscores the increasingly deep connections between Silicon Valley and the agency and the degree to which they are now in the same business. Both hunt for ways to collect, analyze and exploit large pools of data about millions of Americans. ...

...Silicon Valley has what the spy agency wants: vast amounts of private data and the most sophisticated software available to analyze it. The agency in turn is one of Silicon Valley’s largest customers for what is known as data analytics, one of the valley’s fastest-growing markets. To get their hands on the latest software technology to manipulate and take advantage of large volumes of data, United States intelligence agencies invest in Silicon Valley start-ups, award classified contracts and recruit technology experts like Mr. Kelly. ...

...Despite the companies’ assertions that they cooperate with the agency only when legally compelled, current and former industry officials say the companies sometimes secretly put together teams of in-house experts to find ways to cooperate more completely with the N.S.A. and to make their customers’ information more accessible to the agency. The companies do so, the officials say, because they want to control the process themselves. They are also under subtle but powerful pressure from the N.S.A. to make access easier. ...

... But perhaps no one embodies the tightening relationship between the N.S.A. and the valley more than Kenneth A. Minihan.

A career Air Force intelligence officer, Mr. Minihan was the director of the N.S.A. during the Clinton administration until his retirement in the late 1990s, and then he ran the agency’s outside professional networking organization. Today he is managing director of Paladin Capital Group, a venture capital firm based in Washington that in part specializes in financing start-ups that offer high-tech solutions for the N.S.A. and other intelligence agencies. In effect, Mr. Minihan is an advanced scout for the N.S.A. as it tries to capitalize on the latest technology to analyze and exploit the vast amounts of data flowing around the world and inside the United States. ...

Silicon Valley Doesn't Just Help the Surveillance State—It Built It
Some of America's biggest social media and tech companies have been denying in recent days that they were aware of the National Security Agency's recently-exposed "PRISM" and telephone monitoring programs. But these denials obscure a larger truth: The government's massive data collection and surveillance system was largely built not by professional spies or Washington bureaucrats but by Silicon Valley and private defense contractors.

So says Michael V. Hayden, the retired Air Force general who as director of the NSA from 1999 to 2006 was a primary mover behind the agency's rebirth from Cold War dinosaur into a post-9/11 terror-detection leviathan with sometimes frightening technical and legal powers.

After many false starts, that transformation was achieved largely by drafting private-sector companies that had far more technical know-how than did the NSA, and contracting with them to set up and administer the technical aspects of these surveillance programs, Hayden told National Journal in an interview Sunday.

"There isn't a phone or computer at Fort Meade [NSA headquarters] that the government owns" today, he says. ...

...Among these contributing companies reportedly is Palantir Technologies, the Palo Alto, Calif., company that several news outlets have identified as a close associate of the NSA's. Another is Eagle Alliance, a joint venture of Computer Sciences Corp. and Northrup Grumman that runs the NSA's IT program and describes itself on its website as "the Intelligence Community's premier Information Technology Managed Services provider." ("We made them part of the team," says Hayden.) Another is Booz Allen Hamilton, the international consultancy for which the reported whistleblower in the NSA stories, contractor Edward Snowden, began working three months ago. In 2002, Booz Allen Hamilton won a $63 million contract for an early and controversial version of the current data-mining program, called Total Information Awareness, which was later cancelled after congressional Democrats raised questions about invasion of privacy in the early 2000s. The firm's current vice-chairman, Mike McConnell, was DNI in the George W. Bush administration and, before that, director of the NSA. Clapper is also a former Booz Allen executive. ...

The Guy Who Used To Protect Your Facebook Data Now Works For The NSA
...Kelly's move from the world's largest social network to the world's largest spy agency — which had not been previously reported — makes sense in that both organizations collect, analyze, and exploit reams of data about millions of Americans.

The two enterprises are deeply intertwined since "Silicon Valley has what the spy agency wants: vast amounts of private data and the most sophisticated software available to analyze it" while the NSA is "one of Silicon Valley’s largest customers for what is known as data analytics, one of the valley’s fastest-growing markets," according to the Times....
Alleged racist Paula Deen gave lots of help to Barack Obama
...Anyway, Paula Deen is a horrible racist who has never had a progressive thought in her life because who would ever use that term to refer to a minority in this day and age? Why, she must be one of those Republican, church-going, hatred-supporting vote suppressors we’re always hearing about! Which would probably be accurate if she didn’t happen to be close personal friends with the Obamas.

The Food Network star campaigned for Obama back in 2008, and invited his wife Michelle to cook with her during an episode of Paula’s Party. Later, she said she “just loved” being around the First Lady, and praised her platform: encouraging kids and young adults to eat healthy and get plenty of exercise.

Apparently, she used the racial slur as a term of endearment and her boundless liberal affection. Or something. Which definitely explains why she’s being sued by her former employee for $1.2 million for subjecting her to such suggestions as hiring a bunch of black children to dress up in little tuxedos for her son’s wedding (allegedly, though she has apologized now, so those allegations are likely confirmed) and openly viewing pornography in her restaurant office, which definitely doesn’t seem very Paula Deen-y. Not as nice as you would think, it seems....

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Freedom: The Unfolding Revolution
...It’s a little bizarre how the Left has always conflated statism with modernity and progress. The idea that rulers — be they chieftains, kings, priests, politburos, or wonkish bureaucrats — are enlightened or smart enough to tell others how to live is older than the written word. And the idea that someone stronger, with better weapons, has the right to take what is yours predates man’s discovery of fire by millennia. And yet, we’re always told that the latest rationalization for increased state power is the “wave of the future.”

That phrase, “the wave of the future,” became famous thanks to a 1940 essay by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She argued that the time of liberal democratic capitalism was drawing to a close and the smart money was on statism of one flavor or another — fascism, Communism, socialism, etc. What was lost on her, and millions of others, was that this wasn’t progress toward the new, but regression to the past. These “waves of the future” were simply gussied-up tribalisms, anachronisms made gaudy with the trappings of modernity, like a gibbon in a spacesuit.

The only truly new political idea in the last couple thousand years is this libertarian idea, broadly understood. The revolution wrought by John Locke, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, and the Founding Fathers is the only real revolution going. And it’s still unfolding....
Ohio: Proof that Obamacare ‘Rate Shock’ Is Real
The so-called rate shock from Obamacare has hit Ohio. The state’s Department of Insurance announced last Thursday that, based on rates submitted by insurers to date, it estimates the average individual-market health insurance premium in 2014 will cost approximately $420, “representing an increase of 88 percent” compared to 2013.“We have warned of these increases,” said Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor in the accompanying press release. “Consumers will have fewer choices and pay much higher premiums for their health insurance starting in 2014.”...

Coverage may be unaffordable for low-wage workers
It's called the Affordable Care Act, but President Barack Obama's health care law may turn out to be unaffordable for many low-wage workers, including employees at big chain restaurants, retail stores and hotels.

That might seem strange since the law requires medium-sized and large employers to offer "affordable" coverage or face fines.

But what's reasonable? Because of a wrinkle in the law, companies can meet their legal obligations by offering policies that would be too expensive for many low-wage workers. For the employee, it's like a mirage — attractive but out of reach....

...It might have turned out differently, added Trautwein, if Democrats had followed traditional congressional practice and taken the House and Senate versions of the bill to a conference committee. They could have worked out such quirks. But leaders determined that path was fraught with political peril after Democrats lost their 60-vote Senate majority in 2010....

Why Docs Are Bailing Out of Health Insurance
...The ACA, known as Obamacare, was passed on promises that premiums would decline by forcing everyone into insurance plans, and that top-down mechanisms like mandates on coverage and the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) would control costs. That hasn’t proven to be the case, and indeed, both premiums and costs are skyrocketing – just as anyone who understood the impact that mandates would have on risk pools and tax hikes on prices predicted.

As the open enrollment period for 2014 approaches, premiums on individual plans in the Obamacare exchanges for California will double, and will increase 80 percent or more in Ohio. At the end of its first decade in force, the ACA will leave more than 30 million Americans without insurance – the driving issue behind health-care reform for at least the last twenty years....

...Americans buying plans on the individual market have to spend much more than they’ll ever pay directly to market-based physicians like Nunamaker, essentially subsidizing the premiums of older and sicker Americans to make Obamacare politically palatable to those demographics who turn out more reliably to vote. Americans purchasing plans through employers won’t have much more luck buying sensible insurance plans, either, thanks to other mandates within the ACA on employer-provided health insurance.

This limits the potential for physicians like Nunamaker, but it doesn’t bother him. He earns around $200,000 a year from his cash-only practice, but more importantly, he gets to focus on treating patients rather than fulfilling insurance-company demands. His patients get to make decisions on care based on real costs and market-based price signals, not on which insurer covers the routine costs for far more than the care itself would usually cost. Nunamaker tells CNN that his practice is “the best it’s been in my 26-year career – by far.” He’s not alone, either. A survey by Medscape finds that 6 percent of physicians operate on a cash-only basis, up from 4 percent in 2012. ...

Obamacare? We were just leaving …
Dozens of lawmakers and aides are so afraid that their health insurance premiums will skyrocket next year thanks to Obamacare that they are thinking about retiring early or just quitting.

The fear: Government-subsidized premiums will disappear at the end of the year under a provision in the health care law that nudges aides and lawmakers onto the government health care exchanges, which could make their benefits exorbitantly expensive.

Democratic and Republican leaders are taking the issue seriously, but first they need more specifics from the Office of Personnel Management on how the new rule should take effect — a decision that Capitol Hill sources expect by fall, at the latest. The administration has clammed up in advance of a ruling, sources on both sides of the aisle said.

If the issue isn’t resolved, and massive numbers of lawmakers and aides bolt, many on Capitol Hill fear it could lead to a brain drain just as Congress tackles a slew of weighty issues — like fights over the Tax Code and immigration reform....
FOIA: 201 IRS employees work full-time on union business
In a response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from Americans for Limited Government, the Internal Revenue Service revealed this month that 201 of its employees work full-time on union activities.

“A lot of people are not aware that under federal law, a federal agency is allowed to enter into a collective bargaining agreement with a union that has provisions where employees of the agency, in this case the IRS, are allowed to do union work on the taxpayer’s time and get paid for it,” ALG president and Nathan Mehrens explained in an interview with The Daily Caller....

...The IRS is not the only federal agency where many employees spend all their work hours on union business. The Office of Personnel Management revealed that in 2011 — the most recent report available — bargaining employees at all federal agencies spent a total of 3,395,187 hours performing representational work, at a cost of approximately $155 million....

Anderson: The Problem Is Not Just IRS Lawyers; The Problem Is All Federal Government Lawyers
...The results for the IRS were striking. Of the IRS lawyers who made contributions in the 2012 election, 95% contributed to Obama rather than to Romney. So among IRS lawyers, the ratio of Obama contributors to Romney contributors was not merely 4-to-1 at previously reported, but more like 20-to-1. The ratio of funds to Obama was even more lopsided, with about 32 times as much money going to Obama as to Romney from IRS lawyers.

So has the IRS gone off the rails into hyper-partisanship, leaving behind other more balanced federal agencies? ... The data show, however, that the partisanship of the lawyers in the IRS is not unusual or even particularly extreme among federal agencies. In fact, the lawyers in every single federal government agency--from the Department of Education [100%] to the Department of Defense [68%] -- contributed overwhelmingly to Obama compared to Romney. ...

Most IRS, government lawyers donated to Obama campaign
...While IRS employees generally donated to Obama by a 4-to-1 ratio, the lawyers for that particular federal agency donated to Obama by an astounding 20-to-1 ratio, according to Robert Anderson, associate professor of law at Pepperdine University School of Law. Why the focus on lawyers? It's not just because of Anderson's job, but because, as he says:...

..."To get a better idea about the partisan mix of the policy-making aspect of the agency, I decided to examine the contributions of an arguably more relevant group of employees--the lawyers--within the IRS and other government agencies. Lawyers are relevant because they are the ones taking the lead in writing regulations, litigating cases, and making delicate legal judgment calls in borderline cases."...
14-year-old at the center of "NRA T-Shirt Controversy" now facing possibility of 1 year in jail
Suspended and arrested after refusing to change his NRA shirt. Today, 14-year-old Jared Marcum appeared before a judge and was officially charged with obstructing an officer.

A $500 fine and up to a year in jail, that's the penalty that Jared could face, now that a judge has allowed the prosecution to move forward with it's obstructing an officer charge against him.

"Me, I'm more of a fighter and so is Jared and eventually we're going to get through this," Jared's father Allen Lardieri said. "I don't think it should have ever gotten this far."

The Logan County Police Department initially claimed that the at-the-time 8th grade Logan Middle School student was arrested for disturbing the education process, obstructing an officer and Lardieri says that officers even went as far as threatening to charge Jared with making terroristic threats....
State Department: Quash an investigation? Who … us?
Yesterday, CBS News published documents that showed the State Department had quashed or obstructed Inspector General investigations into serious wrongdoing by high-ranking officials, including one Ambassador who ditched his security team to importune prostitutes in public parks. Today, that story gets more sordid in NBC’s follow-up, which shows that investigators suspected the same Ambassador of targeting minor children...

Hillary’s sorry state of affairs
WASHINGTON — A State Department whistleblower has accused high-ranking staff of a massive coverup — including keeping a lid on findings that members of then-Secretary Hillary Clinton’s security detail and the Belgian ambassador solicited prostitutes.

A chief investigator for the agency’s inspector general wrote a memo outlining eight cases that were derailed by senior officials, including one instance of interference by Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills.

Any mention of the cases was removed from an IG report about problems within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), which provides protection and investigates crimes involving any State Department workers overseas.

“It’s a coverup,” declared Cary Schulman, a lawyer representing the whistleblower, former State Department IG senior investigator Aurelia Fedenisn.“The whole agency is impaired.

“Undue influence . . . is coming from political appointees. It’s coming from above the criminal- investigation unit,” added Schulman, whose client provided the document with the revelations....

State Department memo reveals possible cover-ups, halted investigations
(CBS News) CBS News has uncovered documents that show the State Department may have covered up allegations of illegal and inappropriate behavior within their ranks.

The Diplomatic Security Service, or the DSS, is the State Department's security force, charged with protecting the secretary of state and U.S. ambassadors overseas and with investigating any cases of misconduct on the part of the 70,000 State Department employees worldwide.

CBS News' John Miller reports that according to an internal State Department Inspector General's memo, several recent investigations were influenced, manipulated, or simply called off. The memo obtained by CBS News cited eight specific examples. Among them: allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut "engaged in sexual assaults" on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards and the charge and that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security detail "engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries" -- a problem the report says was "endemic."

The memo also reveals details about an "underground drug ring" was operating near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and supplied State Department security contractors with drugs. ...
You’re Eight Times More Likely to be Killed by a Police Officer than a Terrorist
...I picked up the statistic from a blog post called: “Fear of Terror Makes People Stupid,” which in turn cites the National Safety Council for this and lots of other numbers reflecting likelihoods of dying from various causes. So dispute the number(s) with them, if you care to....

Fear of Terror Makes People Stupid
– You are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack
– You are 12,571 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack
– You are 11,000 times more likely to die in an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane
– You are 1048 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist attack
– You are 404 times more likely to die in a fall than from a terrorist attack
– You are 87 times more likely to drown than die in a terrorist attack
– You are 13 times more likely to die in a railway accident than from a terrorist attack
– You are 12 times more likely to die from accidental suffocation in bed than from a terrorist attack
– You are 9 times more likely to choke to death on your own vomit than die in a terrorist attack
– You are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist
– You are 8 times more likely to die from accidental electrocution than from a terrorist attack
– You are 6 times more likely to die from hot weather than from a terrorist attack