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"I don't think the report is true, but these crises work for those who want to make fights between people." Kulam Dastagir, 28, a bird seller in Afghanistan

The NSA's Telephone Metadata Program Is Unconstitutional | Geoffrey R. Stone
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:12 pm EST, Jan 13, 2014

The safeguards in place to prevent such abuse are therefore critical to the "reasonableness" of the program

This is absolutely true.

The NSA's Telephone Metadata Program Is Unconstitutional | Geoffrey R. Stone

ADD / XOR / ROL: Full-packet-capture society - and how to avoid it
Topic: Miscellaneous 5:41 pm EST, Jan 13, 2014

The trouble with kompromat is, though, that nobody needs to actually use it, or threaten its use, for it to become an effective deterrent to political activity. We can see this in western societies already: It is not uncommon for qualified and capable individuals to decide against standing in elections for fear of having their lives examined under a microscope. When everything you have ever done has been recorded, are you sure that none of it could be used to make you look bad?

What about the famous "three felonies a day" that even well-­meaning and law­-abiding citizens run into?

Clapper's argument that "it isn't collection until you look at it" is disingenuous and dangerous. By this logic, vast files tracking people's lives in pedantic detail are not problematic until that data is retrieved from a filing cabinet and read by a human. Transporting his logic into East Germany of the early 80's, collecting excruciating detail about people's private lives was OK, it was only when the StaSi actively used this data that things went wrong.

The discussion whether phone metadata records should be held by the government or by private entities does not matter. Data should only be held for the period which is necessary to perform a task, and storing data in excess of this period without allowing people to view / edit / remove this data carries the implicit threat that this data may be used to harm you in the future. Involuntary mass retention of data is oppressive. And while checks and balances exist now, we cannot be sure how they hold up over time. Deleting the data is the only prudent choice.

Well-­intentioned people can build highly oppressive systems, and not realize what they are doing. Erich Mielke, who had built the most oppressive security agency in living memory in order to protect "his" country from external and internal foes, famously said "but I love all people" in front of East German Parliament. He did not grasp the extent of the evil he had constructed and presided over.

Nobody wants a full-­packet­-capture society. It is fundamentally at odds with freedom. Arbitrary collection and retention of data on people is a form of oppression.

Well said.

ADD / XOR / ROL: Full-packet-capture society - and how to avoid it

Supreme Court Lets Stand Ruling Bolstering Gadget Privacy at U.S. Border | Threat Level |
Topic: Miscellaneous 5:17 pm EST, Jan 13, 2014

Without issuing a ruling, the justices let stand an appeals court’s decision that U.S. border agents may indeed undertake a search of a traveler’s gadgets content on a whim, just like they could with a suitcase or a vehicle.

I think the reporter here might be making too much of this decision by the Supreme Court.

In this case the court ruled that a border search was OK because reasonable suspicion existed. A stronger statement would be a ruling that border search evidence was inadmissible in a particular case because reasonable suspicion did not exist.

Nevertheless, these court battles have been useful because they indicate a framework in which random searches of electronics are really not permissible. As long as the government doesn't step outside that framework, everything is fine. If these searches are only performed where reasonable suspicion exists, there won't be an example of evidence obtained in a situation where reasonable suspicion did not exist, so there won't be an argument in court where that evidence has to be thrown out.

For me the big question is the factual one - Is CBP doing random electronics searches or not? They do random searches of bags. Administration officials have suggested that they are not doing random searches of electronics, but perhaps I can be forgiven for lacking confidence in the statements of government officials regarding civil liberties issues. As long as they are not and the door to that is firmly shut, our rights are secure.

Of course, it would be preferable if the standard at the border was probable cause rather than reasonable suspicion, but I believe such a change would need to happen at the legislature rather than the court, and the political will to enact such a change does not exist.

Supreme Court Lets Stand Ruling Bolstering Gadget Privacy at U.S. Border | Threat Level |

What if this bull market is actually just a very old bear? | Financial Post
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:23 pm EST, Jan 13, 2014

“This secular bear began in 2000 and has lasted well more than a decade,” said Ed Easterling, Crestmont’s main principal. “The surges and falls are relatively consistent in both magnitude and duration to past secular bear market cycles. With valuation levels still relatively high, as measured by normalized P/E, this secular bear has quite a way to go.”

What if this bull market is actually just a very old bear? | Financial Post

Absolutely mindblowing video shot from the Space Shuttle during launch
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:17 am EST, Jan 13, 2014

What puts this video head and shoulders above most other rocketcams is the sound. The audio has been remastered by the folks over at Skywalker Sound (yes, that Skywalker Sound), and the final product is nothing short of incredible.

Absolutely mindblowing video shot from the Space Shuttle during launch

Judge Pauley got it right: The NSA’s metadata program is perfectly constitutional.
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:21 am EST, Jan 13, 2014

Eric Posner:

People can more easily find out things about each other today than in 1979, thanks to the Web, and so people now expect strangers—including potential friends, mates, and bosses—to know more about them today than they did in the past. People can also more easily share personal information about themselves, and rather than refrain from doing so in order to protect their privacy, they enthusiastically post photos and videos of themselves on Facebook and other social media sites. Thus, it is possible that people’s sense of privacy is also greatly altered, as if the whole country moved from a big city to a small town, trading in the benefits of anonymity and independence for the advantages of community and security. If we’re going to update Smith to take into account technological change, we also need to update it to take account of changes in social altitudes flowing from that technological change, including the possibility that people’s sense of privacy has shrunk.

I think this rationalization is both stupid and dangerous.

I choose what information I wish to publish on the open internet. Things that I post on Facebook are not published on the open Internet - Facebook as a collection of privacy controls that limit access to that data to people on my friends list. If any of them violated my privacy by sharing that information on the open internet, I might choose not to be friends with that person anymore, and I might even be able to charge them with a privacy tort.

The information that I provide Google is not posted on Facebook nor is it posted on the open internet. I realize that Google has a record of it, but I expect them to use that record for business purposes, and furthermore, they are held to a privacy policy that constricts their use of that information to specific purposes. If they took my search history and posted it to the open internet there is no question that they would face civil liability.

The advocates of government surveillance would like to pretend that there is absolutely no distinction between typing something into a search engine and posting on a blog. Their failure to appreciate this distinction represents something between willful blindness and technical incompetence.

According to a recent Pew poll, while most people wish they could use the Internet anonymously, most people do not expect anonymity ever to be possible and yet use the Web nonetheless.

According to a recent Pew poll, while most people wish they could go downtown at night without being mugged, they know that violent attacks are possible and yet they go downtown nonetheless. Therefore, police brutality is no problem, because people who go downtown have an expectation that they might be victims of violence anyway.

Judge Pauley got it right: The NSA’s metadata program is perfectly constitutional.

Chris Christie’s problem is that he’s really, truly a bully
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:33 pm EST, Jan 10, 2014

Christie emerged in a period when the Republican Party is out of power. His videos make them feel powerful at a moment when they're weak.

Chris Christie’s problem is that he’s really, truly a bully

Oh, Canada
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:35 pm EST, Jan 10, 2014

Countries that become too dependent on oil and gas riches behave like plantation economies that rely on "an unsustainable development trajectory fueled by an exhaustible resource" whose revenue streams form "an implacable barrier to change." And that's what happened to Canada while you weren't looking.

Oh, Canada

New Leak Suggests Ashcroft Confrontation Was Over N.S.A. Program -
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:24 pm EST, Jan 10, 2014

I'm tired of the revisionist history that the Patriot Act led to the NSA meta-data program. The Patriot Act was not used to justify the program until after it had been operating for many years.

In 2006, according to the report, the N.S.A. was faced with another legal challenge when The New York Times disclosed the existence of the warrantless surveillance program. In response to the disclosures, one of the telephone companies that was secretly providing its customers’ data to the N.S.A. on a voluntary basis asked for a court order compelling it to comply to protect itself legally, forcing the Bush administration to develop new legal theories to support other surveillance.

That May, the national-security court issued its first order to the telephone companies to log metadata from phone calls, citing a provision in the Patriot Act that allowed the government to obtain business records deemed to be “relevant” to a counterterrorism investigation.

New Leak Suggests Ashcroft Confrontation Was Over N.S.A. Program -

without a shadow of a doubt
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:29 am EST, Jan 10, 2014

Mike Tyson:

I've learned that when people congratulate me, that's when I focus on my flaws. That way I don't allow my narcissism to fly sky-high and allow me to think that I can act out without any consequences.

Tyler Cohen:

I think of humility as a virtue, a practical virtue that's making a comeback.


No man who says I'm as good as you believes it. He would not say it if he did.

without a shadow of a doubt

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