Welcome to “1984” – The NSA is Watching You

Not too surprising. How the NSA Spies on Smartphones Including the BlackBerry – SPIEGEL ONLINE.

In exploiting the smartphone, the intelligence agency takes advantage of the carefree approach many users take to the device. According to one NSA presentation, smartphone users demonstrate “nomophobia,” or “no mobile phobia.” The only thing many users worry about is losing reception

Because protecting your privacy is SO 20th Century.

Of course the NSA isn’t the only group interested in getting access to your info. Even using a VPN is not a guaranteed solution if you fall victim to a man-in-the-middle attack.

And, in a bit of irony, too good to pass up…

“Who knew in 1984 that this would be Big Brother …” the authors ask, in reference to a photo of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. And commenting on photos of enthusiastic Apple customers and iPhone users, the NSA writes: “… and the zombies would be paying customers?”

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The Failure of US Foreign Policy

Fairly concise list of all the problems of the past few years and how the US has done nothing. US Secretary of State Seeks to Redefine US Foreign Policy – SPIEGEL ONLINE.

John Kerry has spent months rushing from one conflict to the next, but has little show for it. His failures are symptomatic of an America that lacks a foreign policy identity — and of a country that seems uncomfortable with its role as a superpower.

The only problem I have with this article, is embodied in this opening. The foreign policy is NOT John, Kerry’s. It is Barack Obama’s foreign policy. Does Kerry have some input? No doubt. But “the buck stops here” does not refer to the Secretary of State’s desk.

Still, it seems Mr. Kerry finds ways to add to the problems on his own.

At the height of last year’s peace negotiations, Kerry spoke with his partners in the Middle East almost every day over the phone — often early in the mornings or late at night from his villa in Georgetown over an encrypted line. But when Kerry was travelling and under time pressure, he sometimes used a normal telephone.

Tapped Phone

Several sources in the intelligence community have confirmed to SPIEGEL that a large part of these discussions, which ran over satellite uplinks, were listened in on by at least two intelligence services, including that of the Israelis. The Chinese and the Russians were also probably monitoring the calls. As a result, the Israelis often knew exactly what Kerry had discussed with the other side. Kerry knew the risk, but he wanted results — and the conversations were more important to him than his security people’s concerns. Neither the Israelis nor the State Department would comment on the phone monitoring.

If you are going to ignore basic security precautions, I have to question your fitness for national office. If he won’t limit his conversations to secure lines, how does he handle the other stuff? Like passwords? Plus it didn’t work. He wanted results, but by ignoring security in the name of results he got neither – and the lack of security did not aid him in his quest for results.

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Because They’ve Been Told All Their Lives that the .gov Will Take Care of Them

36% of adults lack retirement savings — 14% of them 65 or over.

About a quarter — 26% — of those age 50 to 64 haven’t started saving for retirement, the survey said; the figure was 33% of people who are 30- to 49-years-old.

“There’s no better time than the present to start saving for retirement,” [Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com] said. “This isn’t money that’s gone. You’ve just put it aside for your future self instead of spending it on your present self.”

And that is the problem. We have built a society devoted to instant gratification. Pass up that newest of the new cell-phones? The newer/bigger TV? The better game console? All for something way in the future? I can worry about that tomorrow.

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Ireland Forces Rape Victim to Give Birth – via Caesarean

Ireland is still trying to get out of the dark ages where women’s reproductive rights are concerned. Rape victim forced to have Caesarean in Ireland speaks out – Channel 4 News.

This woman was so distraught, she tried to take her own life. So the authorities forced her to have surgery.

She told the Irish Times that she immediately told medical officials she wanted to die rather than have her rapist’s child

But in the eyes of Irish law, a woman has very few rights once she is pregnant. In at least one case, a woman had been prevented from leaving the country – since to travel to England meant that she would have access to abortion.

This comes just 2 years after a woman died of septicemia after she was refused an abortion. All in the name of protecting life. (The baby didn’t survive either.)

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Burning Man – Radical Inclusion Doesn’t Mean “Everyone”

Burning man is next week. I’m not going (no surprise – crowds that big do not excite me, just make me nauseous). Grover Norquist is going, and that has cheesed off some people on the Left. Here’s Why Republicans Should Not Be Getting into Burning Man (Of course 25% of people who attended in 2012 were Republican, so maybe it isn’t the secret Lefty-playground that some Progressives like to believe.)

But one of the founding principles of Burning Man is “radical inclusion.” I guess that doesn’t mean everybody – not to some on the Left. (I thought The Left was supposed to be intolerant of intolerance – that’s the propaganda isn’t it?)

Anyway, here is a link to a post 2 years old, with my thoughts on Burning Man, The Religious Right choking on a Mormon Candidate and a Sikh giving the invocation at the Republican Convention, and the Discordian society we live in. The Left’s rejection of their own rules of inclusiveness, brought this to mind. Because…

If you want in on the Discordian Society

then declare yourself what you wish
do what you like
and tell us about it
or
if you prefer
don’t.

There are no rules anywhere.
The Goddess Prevails.
—Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Page 00032
[my emphasis: Z-Deb]

In honor of everyone making the trek to the Playa this year, here is “Burning Times” by Charlie Murphy. (From Catch the Fire, 1981)

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NYPD and Operation Safe Cycle – What Could Go Wrong?

A simple attempt by New York’s Finest to improve public safety. Get Your Blood Boiling With These Photos Of Cops Blocking Bike Lanes: Gothamist. Really, what could go wrong?

On day one the festivities opened with a bunch of cops standing in a bike lane, forcing cyclists to veer around them. (And into traffic.) And then, just to be sure, they went into traffic, the guy in the video leans over, to show more clearly the kind of asshole he really is. Finest? These guys are apparently too stupid to realize that everyone has cameras today. *

Of course New York cops have been known to block a bike lane, and then when a cyclist goes around them, write them a ticket for not using the bike lane. (Even though that is not a law in NYC – because they are the cops, and whatever they say goes. Legislation? We don’t need no stinkin’ legislation.) So maybe this guy got off easy. As someone somewhere said, “It is like shooting bike-riding fish in a bike-barrel.” There is even a Tumblr for Cops in Bike Lanes.

Part of the crackdown is supposed to target motorists who park in bike lanes. In a bit of irony, too good to pass up, Gothamist publishes a photo of NY Police Commissioner Bill Bratton blocking a bike lane. Between the SUV, Bratton, the open door, and his driver/bodyguard there is almost no part of the lane free for bikes. But hey, if you expect cops to follow the law, you haven’t been paying attention.

* Speaking of everyone having cameras, there is a move a foot to require all cops to wear cameras all the time. Missing video? We take the word of the guy who claims you assaulted him. Apparently this is already the case in a few jurisdictions. Needless to say, the unions are NOT HAPPY. I will try to have more on this later.

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And You Thought it Was Bad in the US. Try Europe

Euro symbolAs screwed up as the US government is, the collective governments of Europe manage to be even more screwed up. With a few exceptions. Eurozone Recovery Grinds to Halt Amid Ukraine Fear – ABC News.

If you want an object lesson in how to have a good economy – look to Europe. Some people do it one way, and some the other. The winners and losers sort themselves out in the marketplace.

Europe’s biggest economy [Germany] remains the continent’s standout performer. It has low unemployment and took steps to cut business taxes and costs years ago.

Years ago, during the boom times of the late 90s, the Chancellor of Germany – Gerhard Schröder – took drastic steps. He cut unemployment benefits, (the social security state in general, really) and changed rules on employment. (Hiring and firing.) Agenda 2010 (as the policy was known) resulted in some disruption, but the results are staggering, when you compare to the states that did nothing.

THE USUAL SUSPECTS: Stagnating France and Italy are balking at politically tough reforms that would lower costs for businesses. France’s economy was flat in the second quarter. Italy’s shrank 0.2 percent, for the 11th drop in the past 12 quarters. So-called structural reforms include easing rigid rules on hiring and firing, and especially in Italy’s case, reducing choking bureaucracy and corruption.

Greece’s economy has at least stopped shrinking. Well, almost – it shrunk 0.2 percent in the past year. But the economy of Greece is 25 percent smaller than it was a few years ago.

This isn’t rocket science. You make things good for business, and you get business activity. Jobs. Taxes. Growth and opportunity. Make things tough on business with high taxes, corruption (another tax usually), etc. and you get less business activity. Fewer jobs. Lower tax revenues. (Which side of this equation do you think Greece was on, before it imploded?) This lesson is lost on so many.

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Friends Don’t Believe It

Not the case all over the news of the police shooting. This involves a guy breaking into a home and being shot by the armed homeowner. Friends of slain home intruder host vigil, march to shooting site – LA Times.

Because you know, vigils are all the style today.

Long Beach police say Anderson climbed over a wall and broke a window to enter the home at the corner of 3rd Street and Gladys Avenue, about half a mile from his home.

The homeowner confronted Anderson and shot him at about 3 a.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene by fire paramedics.

Police said Anderson had stolen items in his possession when they found his body.

Friends don’t understand why he would do such a thing. “He was there by mistake.” Some mistake. How exactly do you scale a wall, break a window, enter, and steal, all by mistake?

If a drunken idiot broke into my home at 3 AM, I might be inclined to consider him a threat. Especially if we had some sort of “confrontation” and he didn’t leave.

At least the neighbors weren’t shocked.

“I’m not surprised he reacted the way he did,” said Mayra Laureano, 48 [a neighbor]. “If he was under the belief that this was a home invasion, then he was justified.”

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The 1960s and the Fight for Women’s Rights

This is an interesting list of when things (like having a credit card in your own name) became possible for women. 5 things women couldn't do in the 1960s – CNN.com.

Can you imagine pregnancy being a fireable offense? How about job security hinging on your weight or the softness of your hands? What if you couldn’t open a bank account or establish a line of credit unless you had a husband to cosign for you?

There are few neanderthals around, who always claim that whenever *someone’s* rights are mentioned, they must be talking about “special” rights. You know, rights that the straight, white men don’t have. Consider this list… and then let’s talk.

Women fighting for their rights didn’t start in the 1960s, but it really took off in a big way in the 60s an 70s.

Go read the whole thing, but here are a few of the items and when women got that right in the whole country.

  1. Get a credit card (The Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974)
  2. Serve on a Jury (1973)
  3. Get an Ivy League Education (varies by school – Columbia was last only admitting women in 1981)

The first women’s rights conference in this country was the Seneca Falls Convention held in July of 1848. That was a time when women didn’t have the right to vote. It was in the years leading up 1982 that the Equal Rights Amendment was defeated. Guarantee equal rights for women? Apparently, that won’t happen in my lifetime. Still want to talk about “special” rights?

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LAPD: Lies, Damn Lies and Crime Statistics

Justice
Oh, they made reporting errors. The were NOT cooking the books! LAPD admits errors in how it reports crime statistics to the FBI | 89.3 KPCC.

If you search around, you will find that 1200 violent crimes were “misreported,” during one year.

You see, LAPD – at least according to the statistics they report to the FBI – has had a wonderful 11 year streak of declining crime.

Defending its 11-year streak of declining crime rates, the LAPD said the newspaper’s [LA Times] investigation doesn’t draw conclusions about reporting errors in previous years.

So don’t think that this is our way making the city look better, this is an isolated incident. Nothing to see here. Move along. </sarcasm>

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