Cloud Computing: a growing threat to personal freedom and security?

The magic computer in the clouds …

No matter how they spin the story, the major technology companies who are touting “cloud computing” are simply repeating the history of data processing with new equipment, software and communications protocols. The so-called “cloud” concept is as old as “time sharing” when people used terminals to connect to extremely expensive mainframe computers and simply paid for their small slice of time. Since you paid for only the computer power you used, it was a very reasonable price to pay for accessing enough computer power to do the desired job at hand.

Enter the personal computer …

After time-sharing and the introduction of mini-computers, the micro-computer revolution was born. In a period of approximately 27 years, starting approximately in the 1980’s, almost everyone who wanted a personal computer was able to obtain one. Operating systems and applications software steadily improved to the point where they contained so many unused features than only incremental and/or cosmetic improvements could be made. The great fortunes which were made on the need for ever increasing hardware requirements and software upgrades was starting to significantly slow. Especially since personal computer users began to realize that they had their word processors, spreadsheets and databases and that there was little or nothing to gain from continually upgrading either the hardware or the software. They were comfortable with the technology and the software and saw little need to continually invest in new computers and the next whizbang version of the software which did diddly squat to improve their personal productivity.

So, to combat the falling prices of hardware, the increasing uselessness of the next version of your expensive productivity suit (word processor, spreadsheet, slide presentation, database) and the introduction of “open source” equivalents which could be accessed for little or no investment – the major players decided to simply monetize the delivery of software services. That is, return to timesharing, by offering “pay as you go” software services.

Is a major announcement on the way?

In addition to offering “on the web” access to the traditional application suite, rumors now continue to swirl around the possible introduction of a “virtual disk” which would allow a user to store all of their data on a remote computer for little or no cost. Virtually guaranteed (pun intended) to attract an audience who still believes that there is a free lunch and that mega-corporations and the government is willing to provide free services for its citizens without some form of compensation.

Do no evil … (yeah, right)

For those of you in data processing and those who are power users, you may recognize the unofficial mantra of Google: “Do no evil.” Google which has made its fortune (and the fortunes of its investors) on supplying superior search engine technology, is now attempting to use its megabuck capital investment in hardware, software and communications infrastructure to compete with Microsoft’s Windows-brand application software by turning to web-based application programs and the offer of free data storage on their systems. To be sure, Microsoft, having experienced a very slow start in Internet technology, is trying to mount a competitive offer to protect their brand from the Google onslaught. In the process, Google has morphed from a rather idealistic organization into an extremely large behemoth and a corporation that will do anything to keep their position in the pantheon of computing giants. 

But let us consider the RAMifications (couldn’t resist the pun) of such developments.

Eventually, you will pay for the computer power you consume …

Someone will eventually pay the piper, and we are betting it will be the end user. No matter what a corporation may say or do, they are still required to produce quarterly profits to support their stock prices. Not to mention paying for all of their employees, hardware, software, power, cooling and everything else that is necessary to offer their services to the marketplace.

Your data is valuable, not only to you, but to a wide variety of commercial and governmental entities. So whether you pay directly or subject yourself to advertising in exchange for access to remote computers, you are paying a price.

The devil is in the details …

Let us consider for a minute, some of the details which will often be buried in the minutia of the EULA, the End User License Agreement.

We guarantee nothing …

Most user agreements covering software services are made on what is known as a “best efforts basis.” That is, we will try our best to provide the services you desire, but we cannot guarantee that your data will not be lost, that our service will always be available, that you will be able to retrieve your data in a timely fashion, that evil-doers will not be able to access your personal data using advanced technology, or that our trusted personnel will not sell your data to the tabloid press. And, if any of these things happen, we are not liable for the consequences of these actions – and if by some chance we are liable, your recovery is limited to the amount of money you have paid us for the month in which the problem occurred. And, by the way, you must enter into binding arbitration and never, never bring a class action lawsuit against us. Of course, it’s not this simple as these conditions are often buried in pages of dense print with references to additional documents which are subject to change at any point in time. Of course, should you choose not to accept these conditions, don’t use our service.

We may troll your data …

We may, to protect ourselves from various and unspecified threats, examine your data for whatever we decide to look for; be it commercial secrets, child pornography, bad mouthing our service and so on. However, we may also sell your data, in aggregated form without personal references or specific data items, to those who want to use this treasure trove of electronically accessible data for research – and possibly to improve our search algorithms to meet your personal needs. Not to mention, delivering more targeted advertising to your eyeballs.

We may sell you out …

Being gutless wonders, we cave at the mere mention of legal action. Should someone file a copyright infringement notice under the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), we might disable all or a portion of your account with little or no notice.

Of course, we cooperate with the government and will provide all of your information to them in exchange for little more than a “free pass” also known as an administrative summons.

Again, you can’t sue us or seek redress as we have your signed user agreement that says we told you what could happen.

And before you reply that trusted employees with monitored access would never gaze upon your personal information, let me simply point to the disclosures of non-public personal information to the tabloids by medical personnel – who were subsequently fired after the damage was done.

The increasing danger of XML …

For those who do not immediately recognize the acronym, it stands for “eXtended Markup Language” and provides a set of data tags to identify the components of your data and make these data elements more accessible. The following example should give you an idea of how powerful this technique can be for searching and retrieving data.

<Name>John Q. Public</Name> <PersonalIdentificationDetails SocialSecurityNumber = “555-55-5555” DateOfBirth = “01/01/1980” DriversLicenseState = “WA” DriversLicenseNumber = “ZZ4049585” DriversLicenseExpiration = “01/01/2012” />

<MedicalCondition DiseaseCode = “9999” DiseaseName = “Horrible Disease” />

<ComputerAccessCode> 4543-AC37-EF56-8494 </Computer AccessCode>

As you can see, a computer search would be able to easily separate out critical information that would be of interest to insurance companies deciding whether or not to insure you or the government wanting to link your data to a particular computer, communications IP address, date and time.

And lest you doubt the power of XML data tagging, consider that the default mode of Microsoft’s latest Office Suite is tagged XML – note that the familiar extensions now are .docx, .xlsx, etc.

And even worse, courtesy of the Hollywood media moguls who want to keep their offerings under lock and key, all electronic output produced on your computer (including documents, graphics, and audio-visual files) is likely to contain embedded GUIDs (Globally Unique IDentifiers) which can be associated with your software purchase and computer use during the registration process.

Encryption?

The smartest thing when storing information on foreign servers that are under control of others is to use heavy encryption. However, I can point with absolute certainty to encrypted data which can be hacked with no more than a commercial program costing less than $100. Consider also that certain encryption algorithms used to protect computer data have already been compromised and there are those who believe that some of the most stringent encryption algorithms may have mathematical backdoors – ones that require the type of massive computing power of federal agencies.

And, one must consider that XML tagging in and of itself increases the vulnerability of protected works as the data tags are well-defined, universally available and comprise a surprisingly large portion of the data being encrypted. For those who routinely decrypt data, knowing something about the data being protected is always a leg up in the process.

It gets worse …

Very few people have heard of CALEA , the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act. It is  a United States wiretapping law passed in 1994 (Pub. L. No. 103-414, 108 Stat. 4279, codified at 47 USC 1001-1010). In its own words, the purpose of CALEA is:

”To amend title 18, United States Code, to make clear a telecommunications carrier's duty to cooperate in the interception of communications for Law Enforcement purposes, and for other purposes.”

Considering that those companies who are offering Internet computing services are often considered to also be telecommunications carriers, the extension of CALEA to data services is a given.

Your choice …

Whether or not you choose to use Internet-based software or store your information on remote computers not under your control is up to you.

What can YOU do?

Read the licensing agreement and make sure that you understand the limits of the offering company’s liability if something should go wrong.

Should you choose to use “cloud” computing, it is suggested that you consult legal counsel to determine if your data, which may contain NPI (Non-Public Personal Information) such as names, account numbers and financial details, is subject to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the FTC Safeguards Rule or your state’s privacy initiatives.

If the information is of a critical nature, determine a fail-safe method for backing up the data and preserving it in a format that can be used in an emergency. Remember: any major natural disaster is likely to disrupt or delay access to your data. One need only remember the big institutions who were left without their web sites when 4 out of 10 diesel generators failed to respond to a start command.

For those who want to access their computers over any available Internet connection, it is suggested that you investigate using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or use one of the commercially available remote access services. Again, security precautions are required to protect you, your data and the innocent parties which may also be involved.

It is my personal position that you never want to mix personal and professional data on any single server and that your professional obligations may preclude using systems and software which you do not directly control.

In all cases, demand that your legislators pass a personal privacy law that unequivocally protects your financial and medical data – as well as mandates stiff criminal penalties and civil compensation for any and all security breaches.

If you are interested in the protection of your personal privacy, you might want to consider joining the Electronic Frontier Foundation (www.EFF.com) which is a solid bulwark against those who would electronically compromise our freedoms.

At one point in time, I was a great believer in the efforts of our government to act ethically and to pursue and prosecute those who would interfere with our Constitutionally-guaranteed rights. Unfortunately, we are now experiencing a hyper-politicalization of government agencies. When media concerns mean more than justice. Where document classification is used to hide mistakes and surveillance techniques used against political enemies. And worst of all, friends are rewarded and enemies punished.

Unless we start electing honest politicians, the America we know will simply disappear into the cesspool of third-world nations. 

-- steve

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

WIRETAP IMMUNITY: BEYOND CALEA? |One Citizen Speaking

SECURITY ISSUES: MICROSOFT + YAHOO, CALEA, FISA, PATRIOT ACT and MONITORING THE PUBLIC |One Citizen Speaking

LOSING OUR PRIVACY ONE DEVICE AT A TIME (PART II) |One Citizen Speaking

Danger: The SINGLE most important key to protecting your health records! | One Citizen Speaking

Microsoft HealthVault: Can you trust Microsoft or any other commercial vendor with your health information? One Citizen Speaking


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS



What can you believe in?

January 2o, 2009  was a monumental day which should be officially memorialized …

2009tombstone

When one considers the last minute deals and the character of the incoming Administration, it appears that the public trust and faith in our government has died.

We have entered the realm of political celebrity, where good intentions and a well-crafted speech serve as a measure of accomplishment – even though little or nothing may have been accomplished.

Where the special interests reign supreme and those who contributed mightily to the campaign are now expecting their rewards.

Where the media is afraid to jeopardize its corporate interests by telling truth to power and is complicit in sycophantically covering up the stone cold truth.

Where the word “crisis” is used to suspend the normal rules and conventions of the government, to allow egregious acts of self-interest and public deception to take place on the national stage; often without a fight or words of dissent.

While observing the pageantry and solemnity surrounding the inauguration, I became even more convinced that Barack Obama was, up until now, an empty slate upon which the voters projected their own wants, needs and desires.

Truly a symbol of hope and change … if one looked only at the rhetoric and ignored the actions of the politicians and their political parties.

It is almost inconceivable that slightly more than half of those who took the time and trouble to vote ignored the environment of corruption and special dealing which surrounded Barack Obama. And, most importantly, ignored the fact that Obama was, at best, a dupe or an opportunist when he associated with those who were corrupt, harbored anti-American sentiments or were judged to be unrepentant domestic terrorists.

That a good portion of Barack Obama’s personal history has remained hidden from public scrutiny and shrouded in mystery. And the portion of what has been revealed surrounded with contradiction and controversy.

That his party, the democrats, by means fair and foul, have managed to corrupt the election process by their suspicious voter registration drives and election practices which, in some cases, count more votes than citizens voting.

That his staunchest supporters rely on the precepts of moral equivalency to justify their actions; to claim that President Bush and his Administration led the way in corrupt, special interest dealings. All under the guise of inoculating themselves from future blame by claiming the roots of any corruption and/or crisis should be attributable to the Bush regime.

So I ask again, “what can you believe in?”

And there is but one answer: YOURSELF!

It is time to take defensive measures …

It is time to take defensive measures and insulate yourself from the physical, emotional and spiritual consequences of a government which has proven to be increasingly out of control.

A government where Orwellian definitions indicating black is white, up is down and good is evil abound. Where lawyers parse sentences to find favorable meaning where there is none. Where profligate spending on special interest projects which never work or are canceled before the acid test of everyday usage abound.

Where people are encouraged to sacrifice for the common good, even though that good benefits only the special interests.

It is time to take matters into your own hands. To manage your own health and physical well being, to isolate yourself from those who are crazy-makers and demanding that you blindly follow their latest schemes, to educate yourself when education is being dumbed down and perverted by social activists, to protect your own employment future when CEOs simply shed employees to improve their bonuses and to manage your finances in an age when the government wants you to spend yourself further into debt claiming it is your patriotic duty to help spend our way to a strong economy.

We can no longer trust those institutions which have failed America. Education which is more about union control and supporting minorities than it is about providing a sound basis for adult maturity. Finance, where those who you trusted to prudently manage your finances, gambled on speculative derivatives to earn outrageous bonuses in the tens, and sometimes, hundreds of millions of dollars.

And unfortunately, this same toxic environment extends to local and state governments. Where personal self-interest pervades party politics and those who do not wish America well are busy enabling our enemies, both foreign and domestic, to take over our cities, states and federal government without a single shot being fired. Using the tools of political correctness, multiculturalism and diversity to further divide and conquer our legal citizens.

There is much that is right with America and there is every chance that this recession will turn the corner soon. But we need to take action now. To position ourselves to benefit from bad times as well as good times. To become strong enough to lend support to our families and our communities.

Beginning YOUR journey …

Today, the day after the inauguration, should be a solemn day. A day in which you begin your journey into the future. Putting aside all of the past angst and confusion over politics and moving forward with your own programs that benefit you. In essence, your inauguration into the world of YOU!

To this end, I am going to dedicate a portion of my time to building a web site that will be dedicated to self-protection and the encouragement of personal achievement.

Join me in becoming personally proactive …

If you should wish to join me on the journey, you can sign up for my free report on job loss related panic at www.aminext.com or by clicking on the site logo below.

subscribe to aminext.com

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you once again for reading my OneCitizenSpeaking blog and encourage you to sign-up for the future benefits yet to come.


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS



Special interests queue-up for disguised bailouts and special privileges ...

We are now seeing national companies attempting to overcome their failed business models and seek government funding of unsustainable programs.

Some like the automakers, could realize substantial savings by disintermediating  their  outmoded distribution network of dealers which have been pampered and protected for years by politicians who were the recipients of substantial campaign funds. By compressing the dealership network into regional distribution centers and enabling “manufacturer-direct pricing, the consumer would benefit greatly. Present-day dealers, many of whom sit upon valuable real estate or who are closing their doors, could still act as repair stations – only this time around with more competitive repair pricing and faster services. The days of waiting a full day for a simple repair at a dealership should come to an end. The focus will be on customer service and benefit rather than a “take it or leave” it business model which features predatory practices every bit as onerous as those found in mortgage lending.

So why are we not surprised …

So why are we not surprised when Sprint attempts to sell their outmoded and failing “push to talk” technology and attempt to carve out a “gatekeeper” profit for processing Internet traffic.

At one point in time, I was a Nextel fan and thought that the walkie-talkie features of a handheld mobile phone were “peachy keen.” As time went on, the devices appeared to become less attractive and the service less reliable. Finally pushing us over the edge and discarding our Nextel units in favor of Verizon phones.

According to Reuters …

Sprint pitches $2 billion emergency network to Obama

“Sprint Nextel Corp., the third biggest U.S. wireless company, wants the government to fund a $2 billion emergency network to make first responders better able to communicate during disasters.”

This is an admirable goal: multi-service interoperability. However, considering the costs of the dispatching, networking and delivery of classified and specialized information via a patchwork of local, state and government systems, one would assume that there is much, much more to this goal than claiming an ability to provide a turn-key system.

For those who want to perform a common-sense reality check, consider what is about to happen during the upcoming inauguration. Some cellular service might be blocked as a precaution against remote detonated explosive devices. Not to mention the sheer number of people who might be trying to connect to others, perhaps to upload high-bandwidth phone-based pictures, video and sound files.

Without a major disaster implementation plan, of which communications is of the utmost concern – but not the only concern, one needs to consider the problems experienced during hurricanes and earthquakes which impaired first-responder communications. Not to mention the freaky reception patterns in metal-shielded locations.

“The company, a major supplier of equipment including push-to-talk phones used by police and fire departments, pitched its 5-year plan to President-elect Barack Obama's transition team in a letter on January 6, which was made public on Friday”.

“A Sprint official described it as a ‘ready to deploy emergency communications system that can be programmed to be interoperable with existing public safety networks.’"

If this system is so great and advantageous, why are investors in Sprint stock not funding the venture as a pilot product whose effectiveness and efficiency can be gauged during an actual emergency? Or is this another “all or nothing” pitch which requires further “study” contracts, pilot projects and other incremental costs?

“Obama's transition team has sought ideas from industry to solve communications problems that surfaced during disasters like the September 11 attacks on the United States and Hurricane Katrina.”

Perhaps the answers should be filtered through the professionals who work for the Department of Homeland Security rather than given to politicians who are ill-equipped to read legislation they are sending to the President, and would be hard-pressed to understand the details of a complicated communication’s system.

The real pitch …

There is no doubt in my mind that telecommunications carriers compete on confusion and chaos, multiple-bundling schemes with an almost infinite combination of dates, prices and services which is designed to bamboozle the consumer into paying much more for a simple service offered by other carriers.

Everybody is getting “stimulus” or bailout funds, why not us?

“Sprint officials, who are also lobbying lawmakers, hope to include the proposal in the billions flagged for technology in the economic stimulus plan working its way through Congress.”

Calling “bullshit!”

“Sprint's plan calls for 100 satellite-based light trucks that would respond to emergencies, and 100,000 or more mobile handsets and equipment at up to 40 pre-selected sites.”

The sites would allow for equipment to be shipped and arrive anywhere in the United States within four hours.”

Common sense tells me that  a four-hour over-the-road delivery of equipment at 60 miles per hour (unlikely in a disaster area) limits the range to 240-miles. Delivery of equipment by rail, aircraft and boats is far more difficult and complex. The four hour limit therefore is bullshit considering the number of sites and amount of equipment described in this report! Of course, the plan could rely on a fleet of military and state helicopters –- but four hours? One needs only to consider how long it takes to place water-dropping helicopters and other aircraft on scene in California.

While there might be ways to make this work, it is extremely unlikely in a wide-spread regional emergency.

Pre-staged equipment caches, unless well-maintained and continually tested, tend to deteriorate into obsolete technological junk extremely fast – especially as new technologies are deployed. There is no guarantee that the entire stockpile of costly equipment would not become worthless in a matter of a few short years.

Competition?

“Sprint has been struggling with market losses to AT&T Inc and Verizon Wireless, a venture between Verizon and Vodafone Group Plc.

“Motorola Inc developed and supplies handsets for Sprint's iDen network, which is often used by emergency workers.”

Single source suppliers using proprietary methodology is not the way I see the contracting process going. We are talking simpler, easier-to-use systems; not complex and fragile systems that require a confluence of good luck to operate under adverse conditions.

Whoops … look what these bastards are trying to sneak through … an end to network neutrality …

“A second Sprint proposal submitted to the transition team is for the Federal Communications Commission to look at re-regulating prices on telephone lines that route phone and Internet service.”

“Those lines are now controlled mainly by AT&T and Verizon, the remnants of the old Bell phone company monopoly that existed until 1984. Sprint says it spends one-third of the operating costs for its 60,000 cell sites to use the special access lines.”

Not only is this totally anti-competitive, but it would also insure a significant rate increase to the consumers and others who use these services.

Bottom line: in a time when foreign countries have better telephone and Internet networks than the United States and costs, which should have dropped long ago are increasing, we should not be subsidizing any company that cannot compete on its own – and without significant government subsidies.

Perhaps, as a cost-savings effort, we should demand that all government agencies re-verify those who are using mobile phones which are not necessary to their jobs. It has been reported than many cell phones have been issued to desk jockeys who have landlines and rarely work outside of their offices. Not to mention those who cross personal and professional message traffic on taxpayer-funded devices.

What can YOU do?

Just say NO!

Unless Sprint can make a compelling, competitive case for proven and demonstrable technology that will not be obsolete in the next few years; as well as providing matching investor funds – I say NO to a bailout of Sprint.

As for Sprint’s push for re-regulation – HELL NO! Anyone who pays a local or state utilitiy bill based on regulated tariffs knows that costs continually rise, services continually degrade and the regulated utilities continue to grease the political wheels.

Do not allow the common carriers to continue bribing politicians with campaign contributions when the politicians should be serving their constituents. Monitor campaign contributions (including those of lawyers, lobbyists, unions and public relations counsel) for disguised payments.

Emergency services are one thing: corruption and malfeasance in the contracting process is quite another.

- steve

Quote of the Day: “Details are the playground of the devil and his political representatives.” -- steve

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

Sprint pitches $2 billion emergency network to Obama | Technology | Reuters


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS



Are the Russians stepping up their propaganda war in America?

I was very much surprised to see a headline story on the Drudge Report announcing “Pravda: Earth on the Brink of an Ice Age...” What made this story somewhat unusual is that the story was originated by Pravda, a Russian publication with an historical link to the government and its propaganda apparatus.

Pravda was leading newspaper of the Soviet Union and an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party between 1912 and 1991.

According to Pravda.Ru …

“At that time, a very serious split occurred in the editorial office. Over 90 percent of the journalists who had been working for Pravda until the coup d'etat of 1991 quit their jobs. They established their own version of the newspaper, which was then closed under government pressure.”

“These journalists had to take their fight to cyberspace, and the Internet newspaper PRAVDA On-Line was launched in January of 1999, the first Russian newspaper of its kind. We think that both the newly registered newspaper and PRAVDA On-Line (you are now on its server) have an equal moral right to continue the history of the newspaper that was closed by then-President Boris Yeltsin in August of 1991. The number of journalists that work in the head offices of both publications is comparable with the number of journalists who worked for Pravda at the time it was closed.”

“In spite of the fact that the journalists of both these publications are still in touch with each other, we have different conceptions about news about Russia and the world. The newspaper Pravda analyzes events from the point of view of the Party's interests, whereas PRAVDA On-line takes a pro-Russian approach to forming its policy.”

“Wouldn't you agree that this gives more diversity to the world?”

The link led to a well-designed American-style webpage that could have been published by any American newspaper.

Along with the features were items such as:

  • Russia: Conversation between President Medvedev and Gazprom CEO (relating to the current gas distribution crisis)
  • Opinion: Neo Warfare
  • Science: Earth on the Brink of an Ice Age
  • Society: Man Dismembers His Wife by Mistake
  • Business: Economic Manipulation as Political Strategy
  • World: The tower of Babel of the European left
  • Hotspots and Incidents: Israel, you are Serbia now
  • Sport: Dakar Argentina: Kamaz in front!
  • Photo Report: Brooke Berk demonstrates bikini
  • Photo Report: Cheerleaders: Healthy body and soul
  • Why God Didn't Have a Beginning?

A diversified mix of articles designed to capture the broadest possible audience. (Perhaps the New York and Los Angeles Times should take heed?)

In the “Breaking News” Section we find …

  • Israel launches massive military operation against Gaza Strip 
  • America chooses its future
  • Russia to retrieve its status of world's strongest superpower

Again, interesting subjects, except for the last item which is definitely speculative conjecture of a political nature and could be classified as propaganda.

Implicit dangers: But are there dangers hidden in the web pages or in the content?

In this day and age of Cyber-War, one can easily imagine the collection of non-public personal information from those who visit the website and wish to participate in online discussions. One can also appreciate the danger of replying to an online advertisement or link with credit card information. To note, Russia remains one of the hotbeds of criminality in the world and the technical expertise of their hackers is second to none. Cheap pirated software and pornography provide attractive lures to those seeking materials of this nature. All with the risk of computer system compromise.

And let us not forget the potential for subtle anti-American propaganda. This is not the heavy-handed obvious anti-American rhetoric of the past, these are carefully crafted and tested messages that are designed to introduce fear, uncertainty and doubt into discussions involving American politics and commercial operations.

Especially targeted at those far left liberals and others who already distrust and despise our nation and often believe that we are the instigators of much of the world’s problems. People who are unhappy with their lives, looking for social contacts and will accept alternative external solutions for their unhappiness.

The content is intriguing and interesting …

Make no mistake about it, the content is thoughtful and well written. The subject matter makes sense, especially if the audience member is predisposed to believing what is being written.

In the matter of anthropogenic (man made) global warming (AGW), the article’s information appears consistent with my beliefs and the science of the day.

“The AGW theory is based on data that is drawn from a ridiculously narrow span of time and it demonstrates a wanton disregard for the ‘big picture’ of long-term climate change. The data from paleoclimatology, including ice cores, sea sediments, geology, paleobotany and zoology, indicate that we are on the verge of entering another Ice Age, and the data also shows that severe and lasting climate change can occur within only a few years.”

“While concern over the dubious threat of Anthropogenic Global Warming continues to distract the attention of people throughout the world, the very real threat of the approaching and inevitable Ice Age, which will render large parts of the Northern Hemisphere uninhabitable, is being foolishly ignored.”

Weather (pun intended) or not  I believe the last part of the article pointing to the sudden possibility of serious global cooling is immaterial. But it does pose the question, why are the scientists who are modeling our global climate change patterns not perceiving this particular threat – or are they pursuing a “political” agenda in order to receive additional funding and recognition of their activities? And if this is true, what else might the government and its allied special interests be telling us?

As you can see, the process of introducing doubt into the geo-political conversation is extremely easy and unless one is trained in critical thinking and the is able to recognize subtle propaganda, it is possible for America’s enemies to wage a low-cost propaganda campaign using little more than attractive stories in an “alternative and recognized news source” on the web. 

But of course, the old saying “sometimes the paranoid are correct in their suspicions” is also true. The tagline on the website, "Pravda.ru forum. The place where truth hurts," simply makes me wonder whose truth is hurting.

What can YOU do?

Demand your local school system return to a curriculum which features the basics: reading, writing, arithmetic, history and critical thinking. Leaving the social activism featuring the far left liberal multiculturalism, diversity and political correctness for college-level political science classes. It is time we stop dumbing down our nation’s children and curtailing their growth by mainstreaming people who have language difficulties, discipline or other impairments into the classroom. Set aside language proficiency schools for those who need to acquire a working knowledge of English. Stop teaching subject matter classes in Spanish. Restore shop and craft curriculums for those who will not be going on to college and need to learn a useful trade in order to succeed and prosper.

Do not elect school boards that mix politics with education. Recall or prosecute those who waste funds on special interest infrastructure or divert funds away from the classroom. Demand that the administrator/teacher ratio be reduced and that teacher’s be required to take competency tests in their subject matter specialties.

Demand that union influence in the school systems be strictly curtailed – possibly using the funds collected from non-union employees in lieu of dues to be placed directly back into classroom programs without any additional administrative overhead.

Change local and state legislation to remove funding initiatives for education as the link between funds expenditures and the quality of education is tenuous at best.

As for accessing foreign websites, be very careful never to provide non-public personal information or make purchases using credit cards, replacement checks or other methods which can be used to drain your bank accounts or facilitate identity theft. Should you wish to purchase foreign goods, ask your credit card issuer for a one-time number which will facilitate your purchase.

Although much of the political threat comes from within, using our laws and regulations against us and collecting information using American subsidiaries, you can never be too careful when dealing directly with foreign powers.

-- steve


Quote of the Day: “He who laughs last has not yet heard the bad news.” -- Bertolt Brecht

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

Earth on the Brink of Ice Age|Pravda.Ru


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS



China: Spying by administrative mandate?

What is going on here?

China has now required companies whose products feature security elements to disclose those elements to the Chinese government.

To which I reply: screw you! Didn’t you steal or purchase enough information in your ongoing efforts to penetrate American corporate and military secrets?

It should be remembered that China is ONLY a convenient trading partner of the United States. They are not our friends and they certainly do not wish us well. And while they benefit greatly from our technology, the line at which our corporations and military hands over security secrets to the Chinese government must be drawn.

If they want to play domestic trade games, let them live with a 100% inspection of container goods at our ports.

From the Associated Press…

China irks US with computer security review rules

“ The Chinese government is stirring trade tensions with Washington with a plan to require foreign computer security technology to be submitted for government approval, in a move that might require suppliers to disclose business secrets.”

“Rules due to take effect May 1 require official certification of technology widely used to keep e-mail and company data networks secure. Beijing has yet to say how many secrets companies must disclose about such sensitive matters as how data-encryption systems work.”

“But Washington complains the requirement might hinder imports in a market dominated by U.S. companies, and is pressing Beijing to scrap it.”

“Beijing tried earlier to force foreign companies to reveal how encryption systems work and has promoted its own standards for mobile phones and wireless encryption.”

Suppress your own people, but do it with your own technology …

“Those attempts and the new demand reflect Beijing's unease about letting the public keep secrets, and the government's efforts to use its regulatory system to help fledgling Chinese high-tech companies compete with global high-tech rivals. Yin Changlai, the head of a Chinese business group sanctioned by the government, has acknowledged that the rules are meant to help develop China's infant computer security industry by shielding companies from foreign rivals that he said control 70 percent of the market.”

“The computer security rules cover 13 types of hardware and software, including database and network security systems, secure routers, data backup and recovery systems and anti-spam and anti-hacking software. Such technology is enmeshed in products sold by Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems Inc. and other industry giants.”

And what does China plan to do about all of the stolen software that is being used by Chinese nationals. In fact, weren’t they the ones that screamed the loudest when Microsoft started checking licensed software for authenticity before allowing access to all software features?

“Giving regulators the power to reject foreign technologies could help to promote sales of Chinese alternatives. But that might disrupt foreign manufacturing, research or data processing in China if companies have to switch technologies or move operations to other countries to avoid the controls. Requiring disclosure of technical details also might help Beijing read encrypted e-mail or create competing products.”

Yah think?

"I think there's both a national security goal and an industrial policy goal to this," said Scott Kennedy, an Indiana University professor who studies government-business relations in China. ‘I'm sure before they came out with this, there was a discussion with industry and industry probably was giving them lots of requests about what should be included.’"

“The agency that will enforce the rules, the China Certification and Accreditation Administration, said in a written statement they are meant to protect national security and ‘advance industry development.’ But it did not respond to questions about what information companies must disclose and how foreign technology will be judged.”

Boycott manufacturers that comply …

United States corporations and financial institutions have no other option than to boycott manufacturers who comply with Chinese rules. Otherwise, the ongoing cyber-warfare between the Chinese government, their hackers and United States institutions will be escalated with our enemies having greater access our secured systems.

We have already seen examples of attacks on our infrastructure which originated in China – enough is enough!

It was bad enough that we found distributors selling bogus Chinese CISCO routers – which were then found in some sensitive areas, but accepting this Chinese administrative demand for security information is sheer madness.

Unfortunately, some members of the far-left and those who succumb to greed will be stumbling all over themselves to provide this information, officially and unofficially. Let us treat those who supply the information unofficially as spies and traitors. Boycott the others.

What can YOU do?

Demand that the Administration officials rebuff this request on a national basis and instruct companies to withhold critical or sensitive information.

Toughen the penalties for industrial espionage and if that espionage involves a foreign national, invoke the maximum penalty for spying: a life term without the possibility of parole.

Do not purchase computers or software from companies which willingly cooperate with Chinese requests for information on security processes.

-- steve

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

China irks US with computer security review rules


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS



Bush, Congress, Obama: Shifting fundamental American protections against government tyranny? (updated)

UPDATE: 07-10-09 DEBATE OVER USE OF ARMY FOR DOMESTIC MATTERS CONTINUES ...

According to TheHill.com ...

"A bipartisan pair of governors is opposing a new Defense Department proposal to handle natural and terrorism-related disasters, contending that a murky chain of command could lead to more problems than solutions. Current law gives governors control over National Guard forces in their own states as well as any Guard units and Defense Department personnel imported from other states. The letter comes as the Pentagon proposes a legislative fix that would give the secretary of Defense the authority to assist in response to domestic disasters and, consequently, control over units stationed in an affected state."

What makes this issue so critical is that you have the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi denouncing those who disagree with the Administration's and Congress' healthcare proposal as un-American. Others have referred to those who protest as thugs, houligans, terrorists, etc. Turning over this much domestic power to a White House and Administration that appears to be openly radical, socialist and willing to use Chicago-style force to make their point is patently dangerous. The rules were made for a purpose and that purpose is still as valid today as it was when they were first written.

Remember: the Founding Fathers gave us the Second Amendment to protect against government tyranny ... something we are approaching at a rapid pace. It is time to limit the power of the Presidency and the Administration to those powers enumerated by the Constitution that the leftists are so busy trying to redefine.

Original Blog Entry ...

We always thought it might be Barack Obama, who recently spoke of a national civilian defense force that had the resources and strength of the military, that would breach the Posse Comitatus Act – and thus pose a major threat to the freedom and liberty enjoyed by Americans under our Constitution. We were wrong … it just might be George Bush.

Posse Comitatus …

“The Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act substantially limit the powers of the federal government to use the military for law enforcement.”

“The Posse Comitatus Act is a United States federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1385) passed on June 16, 1878 after the end of Reconstruction. The Act prohibits most members of the federal uniformed services (the Army, Air Force, and State National Guard forces when such are called into federal service) from exercising nominally state law enforcement, police, or peace officer powers that maintain ‘law and order’ on non-federal property (states and their counties and municipal divisions) in the former Confederate states.”

“The statute generally prohibits federal military personnel and units of the National Guard under federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress. The Coast Guard is exempt from the Act.” <Source>

The Insurrection Act …

“The Insurrection Act of 1807 is the set of laws that govern the President of the United States of America's ability to deploy troops within the United States to put down lawlessness, insurrection and rebellion. The laws are chiefly contained in 10 U.S.C. § 331 - 10 U.S.C. § 335. The general aim is to limit Presidential power as much as possible, relying on state and local governments for initial response in the event of insurrection. Coupled with the Posse Comitatus Act, Presidential powers for law enforcement are limited and delayed.” <Source>

Previous Bush attempts …

“On September 26, 2006, President Bush urged Congress to consider revising federal laws so that the U.S. military could seize control immediately in the aftermath of a natural disaster, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.”

“Section 1076 is titled ‘Use of the Armed Forces in major public emergencies’. It provided that:

“The President may employ the armed forces... to... restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition... the President determines that... domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order... or [to] suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy if such... a condition... so hinders the execution of the laws... that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law... or opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.”

“The actual text is on pages 322–323 of the legislation.” H.R. 5122 can be found here.

“These changes were included in the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 (H.R. 5122), which was signed into law on Oct 17, 2006, subsequently repealed in their entirety.”

“As of 2008, these changes have been repealed in their entirety, reverting to the original 1878 wording of the Posse Comitatus Act.” <Source>

It appears that this legislation breaches the trust and faith that the people of the United States have in our Constitution and supports the wisdom of our Founding Fathers when then introduced the Second Amendment right to own and bear arms as a potential weapon against a governmental tyranny. Of course, the Founding Fathers did not have to deal with weapons of mass destruction or the possibility of easily-coordinated attacks over widespread geography.

Under this legislation, the United States could be turned into a dictatorship with little more than the stroke of a pen – even using a natural disaster or concocted event to trigger the act. And, as we have seen from historical reference, power once granted to the federal government is almost impossible to restrict or remove.

We have also seen over the last eight years, President Bush and Vice President Cheney assert greater and greater powers for the Executive Branch of the Government and the expanded use of so-called Signing Statements which appeared to allow the Administration to circumvent Congressional mandates whenever they felt it necessary.

But, it was apparently the belief of many Americans that the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans would fight to uphold the Constitutional Rights of all Americans and that it would be the democrats who would push for greater federalization efforts  in their attempt to increase socialistic behavior in the United States.

Why I am concerned …

Over the years there have been a number of attempts, mostly instigated by far-left liberal democrats to disarm the citizens of the United States and to impose legislation which would cripple or eliminate our God-given right to self-defense from both domestic and foreign threats.

While some forms of patriotism have been vilified by those who believe that America is a corrupt nation and the proximate cause of many of the world’s ills, it remains true to this day – that a well-armed citizenry is the best protection against government tyranny and the invasion of those who wish us harm.

It is well-documented that both Barack Obama and his Attorney General designate, Eric Holder, do not believe that the Second Amendment is an absolute right and that laws must be crafted to enforce gun control. Holder co-signed an amicus brief in support of the District of Columbia’s ban on all handguns and on the use of any firearm for self-defense in the home.

What have we done?

“Pentagon to detail plan to bolster security: Plan would dedicate 20,000 uniformed troops inside U.S. by 2011”

According to the Washington Post …

“The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.”

“The long-planned shift in the Defense Department's role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said.”

“There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military's role in domestic law enforcement.”

Good planning or a double-edged sword that can be misused by the Administration?

“But the Bush administration and some in Congress have pushed for a heightened homeland military role since the middle of this decade, saying the greatest domestic threat is terrorists exploiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to domestic response -- a nearly sevenfold increase in five years -- ‘would have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable,’ Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But the realization that civilian authorities may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe prompted ‘a fundamental change in military culture,’ he said.

What is the purpose of the States’ National Guard?

“The Pentagon's plan calls for three rapid-reaction forces to be ready for emergency response by September 2011. The first 4,700-person unit, built around an active-duty combat brigade based at Fort Stewart, Ga., was available as of Oct. 1, said Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., commander of the U.S. Northern Command.”

“If funding continues, two additional teams will join nearly 80 smaller National Guard and reserve units made up of about 6,000 troops in supporting local and state officials nationwide. All would be trained to respond to a domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive attack, or CBRNE event, as the military calls it.”

Perhaps the answer is to raise a larger standing military and return the National Guard to their more traditional role in solving state problems. Yes, the Guard could train with active military units in combat theatres, but the centralized command and control of domestic Guard units would remain with State governors unless ceded by proper authority to the military for specifically designated time periods, after which Congressional re-authorization would be required.

“Military preparations for a domestic weapon-of-mass-destruction attack have been underway since at least 1996, when the Marine Corps activated a 350-member chemical and biological incident response force and later based it in Indian Head, Md., a Washington suburb. Such efforts accelerated after the Sept. 11 attacks, and at the time Iraq was invaded in 2003, a Pentagon joint task force drew on 3,000 civil support personnel across the United States.”

In 2005, a new Pentagon homeland defense strategy emphasized "preparing for multiple, simultaneous mass casualty incidents." National security threats were not limited to adversaries who seek to grind down U.S. combat forces abroad, McHale said, but also include those who "want to inflict such brutality on our society that we give up the fight," such as by detonating a nuclear bomb in a U.S. city.

“In late 2007, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England signed a directive approving more than $556 million over five years to set up the three response teams, known as CBRNE Consequence Management Response Forces. Planners assume an incident could lead to thousands of casualties, more than 1 million evacuees and contamination of as many as 3,000 square miles, about the scope of damage Hurricane Katrina caused in 2005.”

Speaking of Hurricane Katrina …

One of the first actions of the New Orleans Police Department, under the auspices of Mayor Ray Nagin was to violate the Constitution of the United States and illegally confiscate any and all weapons from law-abiding citizens who were then rendered impotent to defend themselves against looters and criminals of all stripes. Many in the New Orleans police force turned tail and deserted their posts, thus leaving citizens to defend themselves. And yet, Nagin and his ilk are still in power; perhaps due to the complacency, and some would argue, stupidity, of the citizens of New Orleans.

“Last month, McHale said, authorities agreed to begin a $1.8 million pilot project funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency through which civilian authorities in five states could tap military planners to develop disaster response plans. Hawaii, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Washington and West Virginia will each focus on a particular threat -- pandemic flu, a terrorist attack, hurricane, earthquake and catastrophic chemical release, respectively -- speeding up federal and state emergency planning begun in 2003.”

Defense Secretary Gates …

“Last Monday, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates ordered defense officials to review whether the military, Guard and reserves can respond adequately to domestic disasters.”

“Gates gave commanders 25 days to propose changes and cost estimates. He cited the work of a congressionally chartered commission, which concluded in January that the Guard and reserve forces are not ready and that they lack equipment and training.”

Perhaps it would be appropriate for Defense Secretary Gates, who is said to be President-elect Obama’s choice for an interim Secretary of Defense, to be questioned about these issues during his upcoming Senate Confirmation Hearings. That is, assuming that the majority of the Senate will not vote along party lines to offer an automatic confirmation of the Secretary.

Breaks the mold?

“Bert B. Tussing, director of homeland defense and security issues at the U.S. Army War College's Center for Strategic Leadership, said the new Pentagon approach ‘breaks the mold’ by assigning an active-duty combat brigade to the Northern Command for the first time. Until now, the military required the command to rely on troops requested from other sources.”

" ‘This is a genuine recognition that this [job] isn't something that you want to have a pickup team responsible for,’ said Tussing, who has assessed the military's homeland security strategies.”

Both sides of the political spectrum are troubled …

“The American Civil Liberties Union and the libertarian Cato Institute are troubled by what they consider an expansion of executive authority.”

Domestic emergency deployment may be ‘just the first example of a series of expansions in presidential and military authority,’ or even an increase in domestic surveillance, said Anna Christensen of the ACLU's National Security Project. And Cato Vice President Gene Healy warned of ‘a creeping militarization" of homeland security.’”

"’There's a notion that whenever there's an important problem, that the thing to do is to call in the boys in green," Healy said, ‘and that's at odds with our long-standing tradition of being wary of the use of standing armies to keep the peace.’"

Remembering Waco and Ruby Ridge …

We should not forget the past. Especially when the highly-politicalized Clinton Department of Justice under the direction of Janet Reno attacked civilians in the guise of a law enforcement activity which many have characterized as a pre-scheduled media event – possibly with the members of the military acting in an “advisory” capacity.

Over the past years, we have seen the wall between the FBI (domestic) and the CIA (foreign) fall by the wayside. We have also seen the consolidation of power in the Department of Homeland Defense – headed by a lawyer without management or practical skills in leading a major Agency. A leader who campaigned alongside of the President for political purposes while neglecting a department that was encountering great difficulty in organizational dynamics. To this day, I believe the Department is too large to govern effectively and is riddled with waste, fraud, corruption and malfeasance as is most large bureaucracies that are feeling their way through the political process. This is not to say that there are not quite a few dedicated and skilled people employed b DHS, but that the leadership seems sorely lacking and cries out for someone of proven worth: a Colin Powell, for example. In fact, that would be a perfect job for Powell, a man whose patriotic credentials are beyond reproach. A man with the skill and temperament for the task at hand. And someone who knows, first hand, what the military – given the correct command leadership structure– could accomplish.

What can YOU do?

Consider the non-nuclear events which might trigger this act. A natural disaster -- hurrican, earthqake, forest fire; a widespread flu or other medical emergency; a compromise of important infrastructure -- power lines or aquaducts. All events which could be exploited as a demonstration of the need for greater control over the civilian population and a suspension of civil law in favor of martial law. If this happens, I would much rather be assisted by my neighbors and friends in the national guard than impersonal troops from some national command authority. How about you?

Now, more than ever before, we need to rebuild our political infrastructure. It is time to choose leaders based on their proven ability to accomplish their sworn duties and not by their telegenic, oratorical and fund-raising skills. It is time that we do not allow party politics to provide us with lame candidates like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George Bush and others who might “go along to get along.” The mere fact that a relatively few people in relatively unpopulated states should define our political candidates is ludicrous. We not only need to reform the political parties, we need to reform the primary election process.

We also need to reform the voting process. It seems that we have not learned the lessons of Florida as candidates are still wrangling over fly-specks on paper ballots. The process is becoming more open to corruption due to a lack of security for mailed absentee ballots. Finding ballots in the back of someone’s personal vehicle is unacceptable in this electronic age.

And we need to assume more personal responsibility for what our government does in our name. The issues should be discussed with the widest number of people. Our elected officials should not be allowed to tamper with the First Amendment in restricting broadcast or Internet rights.

We need to overcome apathy and the laziness that is allowing us to drift toward a more centralized government control over our lives. In some cases, unions which have greatly hampered education in the United States should be disbanded. We need to reassert educational imperatives at the local level.

And while our politicians are deciding how the military might play a role in civilian defense, has anyone considered that we are being invaded by hoards of foreigners, illegal aliens, who are looking to our government to empower them with a vote to simply vote us out of our own institutions and homeland? All facilitated by power-hungry political parties trying to game the system to their political advantage.

While there is much that is right with our nations, our politicians are slowly corrupting the America we know and love. Whether for political power, prestige of office, or personal profit, our politicians are becoming worse and worse. No leadership, no accountability and no specific performance in repairing or replacing our crumbling infrastructure – as they engage in social experiments designed to produce nothing but beholden voters.

We can no longer rely on the media to discover the truth nor speak truth to power. It is all up to individuals, the average citizen speaks out, if to no one other than his friends and neighbors, and then back talk with action to support worthy candidates for office.  

Be well, be safe and protect American freedom at all cost.

-- steve

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

Pentagon to detail plan to bolster security|Washington Post


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS



PROTECTING DICK CHENEY'S WRINKLED OLD ASS FROM EVILDOERS WILL ALSO HELP PROTECT YOU FROM IDENTITY THEFT

Dick Cheney and Identity Theft …

Capture10-5-2008-10.07.39 PM Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney

Vice President
of the
United States
(1/20/2001) to (1/20/2009)

Amazingly enough, the legislation known as H.R. 5938 provides “legislation to amend title 18, United States Code, to provide secret service protection to former Vice Presidents, and for other purposes.”

Title I: Former Vice Presidential Protection Act

The first part of this legislation,  Title I, known as the Former Vice Presidential Protection Act “amends the federal criminal code to provide secret service protection to former Vice Presidents, their spouses, and their children under 16 years of age for up to six months after a former Vice President leaves office. Authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to direct the Secret Service to provide temporary protection to former Vice Presidents and their family members at any time thereafter if warranted. Extends such protection to any Vice President holding office on or after the enactment of this Act.”

But it is these “other purposes” which will help foil hackers and data thieves. In the best Congressional tradition, it is an example of the common practice of attaching a lesser bill to a larger “must pass” bill.

Title II: Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act

Along with temporarily protecting Vice President Cheney’s wrinkled old ass, we find the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2008  which “amends the federal criminal code to:

(1) authorize criminal restitution orders in identity theft cases to compensate victims for the time spent to remediate the intended or actual harm incurred;

(2) allow prosecution of computer fraud offenses for conduct not involving an interstate or foreign communication;

(3) eliminate the requirement that damage to a victim's computer aggregate at least $5,000 before a prosecution can be brought for unauthorized access to a computer;

(4) make it a felony, during any one-year period, to damage 10 or more protected computers used by or for the federal government or a financial institution;

(5) expand the definition of "cyber-extortion" to include a demand for money in relation to damage to a protected computer, where such damage was caused to facilitate the extortion;

(6) prohibit conspiracies to commit computer fraud;

(7) expand interstate and foreign jurisdiction for prosecution of computer fraud offenses; and

(8) impose criminal and civil forfeitures of property used to commit computer fraud offenses.

In addition, the legislation “directs the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review its guidelines and policy statements for the sentencing of persons convicted of identity theft, computer fraud, illegal wiretapping, and unlawful access to stored information to reflect the intent of Congress that penalties for such offenses be increased. Sets forth criteria for updating such guidelines and policy statements.”

Many of these provisions are sure to attract court challenges to narrow or eliminate some of the provisions. But for now, we have extended the federal law to provide an additional measure of protection to America’s government, commercial and private infrastructure and thus provide additional protection to the American consumer.

As a side note, I think we should protect Vice President Cheney as long as he lives. I am a great fan of Vice President Cheney and believe that it was he, more than the President, who actually was instrumental in protecting the American Public from our enemies, both foreign and domestic. He appears to be more hated by our enemies than the President of the United States. As a measure of my good will towards Vice President Cheney, I would go hunting with him.

-- steve

Quote of the day: “Committee--a group of men who individually can do nothing but as a group decide that nothing can be done.” - Fred Allen

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

H.R. 5938 Legislation|House of Representatives


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS



The OTHER bailout: this one is clearly unconstitutional ...

While the world was preoccupied with legislation purporting to be  the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the Senate was busy passing another bailout bill – this one as a favor to the Hollywood moguls who are destroying our copyright system with the incessant cries of piracy.

The original copyright and patent laws were designed to encourage artists, writers,  inventors and others to share their works with the public. In exchange for allowing their works to enter the public domain, creators were given a  period of time to exclusively profit from the creations of the labor.

Corrupting the system …

Like the Wall Street Wizards who create nothing substantial, but profit on the labors of others when they create, market and trade securities, the Hollywood power structure became the distributors of the creative works of others. In many cases, hiring the actors, writers and others to produce a “work for hire” which they then copyrighted in their own name. And there is nothing wrong with that.

However, to avoid their works from falling into the public domain, they began plying members of Congress with campaign contributions and other inducements to enact longer and longer exclusive periods of time.

But, for those works that were already in the public domain, the created the fiction that is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which allows any content, including materials in the public domain, to be secured with a electronic wrapper – and then criminalized breaking the electronic wrapper, even though the underlying content was either in the public domain or had already been purchased by the consumer in another form.

Respecting the system …

As a creator of content, I respect the need to protect one’s work for the period prescribed by law. However, I take great issue with those who want to sell the very same content over and over; but in different forms. Imagine buying a digital copy of a work and then being denied permission to use the content on your television and your computer. The key to controlling this type of usage lies in the pricing of the content delivery systems. Including a CD with a bound book for a slightly higher price is an excellent example of a value add that should appeal to consumers. Allowing the purchase of individual tracks of a CD for 99-cents, rather than being forced to purchase an entire album for an artificially set price of $12.95 or more.

Perverting the system …

However, the Hollywood distribution moguls were not content to merely control the content and the wrapper, they actively tried to inhibit the development and marketing of devices and media that would make the copying of digital materials easier for the masses. Note: the hackers have always been able to break encryption schemes and re-format the content into their preferred format. This did not dissuade the use of DRM (Digital Rights Management) Schemes which, in some cases, caused problems with computer and device operations. In a number of cases this resulted in hackers being able to hide malicious files on the host computer as the DRM software made these files invisible to the operating system.

Watermarking digital copies …

How many people really know that each Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files along with PDF files created by Adobe’s software, as well as other software, contains an embedded unique identification number that can be tracked back to an individuals computer? Ditto for audio, video and other files sent by e-mail. Even today, copiers and printers embed coded characters that can identify the exact printer used to print the document. 

Protecting the franchise …

This led to the restriction in marketing digital tape recorders. This led to imposing a royalty on magnetic material to be collected by manufacturers and remitted to a government entity which was to divide and distribute it to the artists and others whose works might be infringed. I say might, as the great number of magnetic media actually were used for such things as computer backups and had nothing to do with pirating audio or video.

Skullduggery on both sides …

Both sides of the digital divide play dirty. We all know what hackers do, but how about the other side which has been known to bribe employees to compromise their employers. Or pay for stolen files that support their case. Or engaging in expensive show trials of people who ultimately were found to be innocent of infringement – but who suffered public humiliation and the loss of a great deal of money defending against baseless claims.

And it is getting worse …

Here we find the Hollywood crowd, mostly in the guise of trade associations such as the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), doling out the Washington political goodies.

This has resulted in the passage of  Senate Bill S. 3325 which is misleadingly named “Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008.”

Basically, this legislation was crafted to use the Department of Justice as a prosecutor of intellectual property infringement. And to seek monetary damages which would then be remitted to the content owner. Thus turning the DOJ into a combination enforcement and collection agency.

Nowhere is this power granted by the Constitution to the Federal Government as the government is charged with pursuing criminal infringement activities, not civil restitution claims.

The Attorney General agrees that this legislation would be inappropriate …

In a letter to Senators Patrick Leahy, Chairman, and Arlen Specter, Ranking Member, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, the Attorney General takes exception to the basic issues in Senate Bill S. 3225.

The Departments of Justice and Commerce have reviewed S.3325, the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act of 2008 ("EIPRA"), and truly appreciate the bill's intention to enhance the tools available for protecting intellectual property rights.

Nevertheless, we have strong and significant concerns regarding Titles I and IV. We are deeply concerned that the proposed legislation will undermine existing  intellectual property enforcement efforts by diminishing the effective use of limited criminal enforcement resources and creating unnecessary bureaucracy.

It will also improperly micro-manage the internal organization of the Executive Branch.

Accordingly, as outlined below, we strongly oppose S. 3325 as reported out of Committee on September 15, 2008.

We strongly oppose Title I of the bill, which not only authorizes the Attorney General to pursue civil remedies for copyright infringement, but to secure "restitution" damages and remit them to the private owners of infringed copyrights.

First, civil copyright enforcement has always
been the responsibility and prerogative of private copyright holders, and U.S. law already provides them with effective legal tools to protect their rights: they can obtain injunctions, 17 U.S.C. § 502; impound and destroy infringing articles, 17 U.S.C. § 503; recover their actual
damages and costs, 17 U.S.c. § 504(b); obtain statutory damages, which are similar to punitive damages, 17 U.S.C. § 504(c); and obtain their costs and attorney's fees in some circumstances, 17 U.S.C. § 505.

These tools also provide strong incentives for all copyright holders, including individual copyright holders and small businesses not represented by trade groups or industry organizations, to enforce their rights.

Second, Title I's departure from the settled framework above could result in Department of Justice prosecutors serving as pro bono lawyers for private copyright holders regardless of their resources.

In effect, taxpayer-supported Department lawyers would pursue lawsuits for copyright holders, with monetary recovery going to industry.

Third, the Department of Justice has limited resources to dedicate to particular issues, and civil enforcement actions would occur at the expense of criminal actions, which only the Department of Justice may bring.

In an era of fiscal responsibility, the resources of the
Department of Justice should be used for the public benefit, not on behalf of particular industries that can avail themselves of the existing civil enforcement provisions.

The Departments also strongly oppose Title IV of the EIPRA, which would move into the Executive Office of the President (EOP) from the Commerce Department the "U.S. Intellectual
Property Enforcement Coordinator" (IPEC) position
.

This Presidentially appointed IPEC would have primary responsibility for developing and coordinating Administration policy for IP enforcement across the Executive Branch. While the Administration has been a long time supporter of strong inter-agency coordination -- and is willing to work with the Committee on this topic -- the statutory creation of an EOP coordinator with the duties described in the bill constitutes a legislative intrusion into the internal structure and composition of the President's Administration. This provision is therefore objectionable on constitutional separation of powers grounds.

The Administration has taken strong steps over the past eight years to ensure effective coordination and enforcement of intellectual property rights. The Administration put in place the Strategy for Targeting Organized Piracy (STOP!) Initiative which is currently being implemented by the National Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordination Council (NIPLECC) and
led by the current U.S. Coordinator for Intellectual Property Enforcement. In summary, while we appreciate the need for continued coordination among Departments and agencies, the framework provided in the bill is unlikely to enhance criminal enforcement and, to the contrary, could pose significant and unnecessary challenges.

We look forward to working with the Committee to address these concerns. In the meantime, the Administration reserves judgment on the final bill. It is our hope that changes will be made so that the President's senior advisors can recommend that the President support the measure. The Office of Management and Budget has advised that there is no objection to the transmittal of this letter from the standpoint of the Administration's program

It gets worse …

Other bill provisions provide for seizing computers, especially servers, which are then forensically searched for infringing materials. In many cases, the fact that files have been routinely erased or erased using advanced file erasure programs has been characterized by trade association attorneys as being evidence of infringing activities or the destruction of evidence – although no proof of such activities exist.

In addition, the bill calls for the government to “Assist State and local law enforcement  agencies in enforcing those laws, including by reimbursing State and local entities for expenses incurred in performing enforcement operations, such as overtime payments and storage fees for seized evidence.”

There are a number of other highly objectionable provisions contained in the proposed legislation. Should you care to review the entire bill in context, it can be found at the end of this blog entry in the “Reference Links” section.

What can YOU do?

It is time to end the special relationship between the Hollywood distributors and the government. Especially in areas which diminish the public’s right to legitimately access and use content for which they have already paid; as well as eliminating the interference with the design and use of electronic devices. 

Piracy, at least in the United States, can be easily controlled by using the principle of value pricing. That is, the cost of the authorized version makes the time and cost of duplicating a work unrewarding. Continue to prosecute the infringement of intellectual property in both civil and criminal venues, as appropriate – and do not involve the Department of Justice in enforcing and prosecuting private civil matters. Personally, I like buying record tracks from Amazon.com for 99-cents rather than buying the entire CD or album.

Call your elected officials to demand they stop falling prey to Hollywood-based trade unions and passing unduly restrictive legislation which does nothing for the public interest.

Other than for permitted purposes and “fair use” exemptions, do not distribute  copyrighted material which deprives the creator of their rightful due. 

Contact Senator Leahy and express your displeasure with this legislation. Remember to be respectful as Senator Leahy is a champion of privacy and open government initiatives.

Sen Alexander, Lamar [TN]

Sen Bayh, Evan [IN]

Sen Bond, Christopher S. [MO]

Sen Boxer, Barbara [CA]

Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH]

Sen Cardin, Benjamin L. [MD]

Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY]

Sen Corker, Bob [TN]

Sen Cornyn, John [TX]

Sen Feinstein, Dianne [CA]

Sen Graham, Lindsey [SC]

Sen Gregg, Judd [NH]

Sen Hatch, Orrin G. [UT]

Sen Hutchison, Kay Bailey [TX]

Sen Levin, Carl [MI]

Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY]

Sen Smith, Gordon H. [OR]

Sen Specter, Arlen [PA]

Sen Stabenow, Debbie [MI]

Sen Voinovich, George V. [OH]

Sen Whitehouse, Sheldon [RI]

-- steve

Quote of the day: “Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.” -- Jerry Garcia

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

Senate Bill S. 3325


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS



Global Climate Change: The path to enlightenment starts with knowing what you are talking about...

Readers of my blog know that I do not blindly ascribe to the theory that global climate change is man-made and requires a costly, freedom-altering political solution; the result of which may not be evident for hundreds of year, if ever.

I believe that global climate change is cyclical and that the factors which influence climate change such as the solar output, the rotation of the earth, the earth’s core composition and heat transfer, the oceanic currents and the greenhouse gases, the most prevalent one of which is not carbon dioxide but water vapor, form a dynamic system which can hardly be influenced by the puny efforts of man.

I also believe, far from the pronouncements of Al Gore and his band of power- and profit-driven special interests, that the science is not well-established and that there is no consensus among scientists about the causality of the global climate variability; and hence, no definitive mitigation or cure does exist.

I believe that the current emissions cap and trade system is a canard which will allow governments to exert far greater control over their citizens, raise taxes and effect a global re-distribution of wealth based on socialistic theories. That is not to say that the ruling elite under such political systems does not continue to grow wealthier and more powerful by aligning themselves with the political doctrine of the day and paying due respect, including a piece of the action, to those in power.

I also believe that the current climatological models are inherently flawed as they are rather simplistic, use artificial adjustments to make the numbers match some form of historical climate data or proxy which simulates the climate data for well-selected and very short time periods. These models can not be relied on to predict short-term, let alone extremely long-term effects with any degree of reliability.

I think that the United Nations and Al Gore are fundamentally dishonest by using outlier data from model runs without citing any degree of reliability or probability. That is, mathematical models can produce results, but few know if the results are real or merely coincidental when they match the physical phenomenon which they purport to model. I have a special degree of distrust for Al Gore whose movie used artificial, computer-generated Hollywood footage from another movie to illustrate ice-calving – without any disclaimer or citation. Another example of Hollywood smoke and mirrors driving a predestined conclusion.

So I am rather encouraged when I read my edition of IEEE’s (Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers) Spectrum and find that there are plans afoot to build a specialized computer to model that most prevalent and powerful of greenhouse gases: water vapor. 

According to “A Computer for the Clouds” by Philip E. Ross…

“We think scientific computing is ripe for a change,” says Michael Wehner, a climatologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. ‘Instead of getting a big computer and saying, ‘What can we do?' we want to do what particle physicists do and say, ‘We want to do this kind of science—what kind of machine do we need to do it?' ”

“Wehner and two engineers, Lenny Oliker and John Shalf, also of Lawrence Berkeley, have proposed perhaps the most powerful special-purpose computer yet. It is intended to model changes in climatic patterns over periods as long as a century. Specifically, it should be able to remedy today's inability to model clouds well enough to tell whether their net effect is to warm the world or cool it. To solve the problem, climatologists figure they need to deal in chunks of the atmosphere measuring 1kilometer on a side—a job for an exaflop machine, one with 1000 times more computing power than even Roadrunner can provide.”

Now this is government money that I am willing to advocate they spend …

Before embarking on an economy-busting carbon emissions trading system that only benefits the gross polluters, the Wizards of Wall Street who will trade these credits much as Enron traded electricity to the detriment of California, and the special interests who require government grants, subsidies and tax benefits to make their pipe-dreams even close to economically feasible, I am willing to support spending more  money on basic research. And not research of the NASA-preordained/Hansen brand where politics influences the science.   

“The researchers are now trying to validate their claims with a hardware mock-up, which they are building in collaboration with Tensilica, a custom-chip supplier in Santa Clara, Calif. The plan is to bench-test a single processor by November and a parallel array of processors by the middle of 2009. If the claims are vindicated, the researchers hope to get government funding for a full-size machine.”

“Critics of special-purpose machines say they've heard it all before. “The problem is that when we devise a new way to solve a problem, the machine designed for the old way will no longer be as good,” says Jack Dongarra, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Tennessee.”

“But according to Horst Simon, who heads the Lawrence Berkeley lab's research computing center, the proposed machine would not be so specialized that a new algorithm would render it instantly obsolete.”

“ ‘We are building hardware that runs not just one algorithm but a large class of related algorithms,’ he says. ‘We are trying to eliminate unessential features of the architecture, much of it developed for desktop applications, and to optimize it for a class of applications that is scientifically focused.”’

And if the New York liberals and Wall Street Wizards want to worry about something a little more pressing and concrete …

Want to worry about something in the future that may have more impact on your life than a 1.2-degree (Celsius) temperature rise?

“Earthquake risks in the greater New York City area are reassessed in a major study released today by a team of seismologists based at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, N.Y. Though the report reaffirms that large earthquakes are relatively rare in New York, it finds that fault patterns are more complex than previously appreciated. In particular, two fault systems are found to converge very close to the controversial Indian Point nuclear power plant, 24 miles north of the city.”

“The authors of the study catalogued 383 earthquakes from 1677 to 2007, and, in those three-plus centuries, identified three magnitude 5 quakes capable of causing serious damage. They estimate that a potentially catastrophic category 6 quake might occur every 370 years, and a category 7 every 3,400 years. Though those probabilities are relatively low, the damage risk from a New York City earthquake is still very high because of the city’s concentration of people and physical infrastructure, observes Lynn Sykes, the very eminent seismologist who led the study.”  <Source>

What can YOU do?

Common sense dictates you know what you are talking about before you propose a cure. Especially a political cure which is likely to mean bigger government, higher taxes, wealth redistribution and the proliferation of corrupt special interests and the politician-pandering lobbyists.

Demand practical answers to tough questions before empowering any politician or political program with enough muscle to become self-defeating and self-destructive.

Even if global climatology did indicate that we were in a temperature upswing, prior to some downswing in the distant future, don’t you agree that your hard-earned money should be better spent on developing methods and structures to cope with these projected climate changes?

How much of YOUR lifestyle are YOU willing to sacrifice NOW for someone who will live hundreds of years from now – in a time when science may have solved many of the pressing issues of survival on this planet?

In my world, financial wizards do not play any meaningful part other than serving as commodity brokers who make their living by buying and selling commodities that are being sometimes artificially churned to improve income yields. They are like the lawyers who write complex laws to insure that you feel the need for their services lest you get into trouble. Or politicians who want to make you dependent and beholden to their government for your existence.

Man was born free, and God willing, shall stay free by avoiding the type of socialistic policies employed by Russian and Chinese planners which have almost destroyed their nations. These are the people who require extreme gun control and subservience lest they be overthrown from power.

Common sense is uncommon – but if you do not exercise it, you will forfeit it to those who want your share of the American dream.

-- steve

Quote of the Day: “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” --George Moore

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

IEEE Spectrum: A Computer for the Clouds

Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought, Says Study: Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant Seen As Particular Risk|Columbia University Earth Institute

And for the scientifically inclined, the actual research paper: “Observations and Tectonic Setting of Historic and Instrumentally Located Earthquakes in the Greater New York City–Philadelphia Area by Lynn R. Sykes, John G. Armbruster, Won-Young Kim, and Leonardo Seeber|Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, Vol. 98, No. 4, pp. 1696–1719, August 2008, doi: 10.1785/0120070167


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS



FCC Commissioner: Return of Fairness Doctrine Could Control Web Content -- The beginning of a shakedown?

It is one thing for The Federal Communications Commission to fulfill its  historical mandate to regulate the broadcast spectrum to insure that frequencies were fairly allocated, interference between adjacent frequencies was minimized, manufacturers of electrical goods upheld non-interference standards and that repairmen and operators of broadcast equipment were duly licensed. But it is quite another thing for a politicalized agency of the Administration to assume control over content.

Somewhere in the  murky past, politicians felt that it was their duty to regulate the airwaves to protect “decent” people from obscenity and harmful information. Further down the line, the breached the First Amendment and dictated that the stations under their control needed to present “fair and balanced” coverage so that each position was effectively countered with a counter-position.

Threatened by the government …

There is no doubt in my mind that the Federal Communications has far transcended their original duties and has been  hyper-politicalized to the point where lobbyists and other special interests receive a more receptive hearing than do individual concerned citizens.

Therefore, I take it as a threat against the First Amendment when I hear anybody claim that the Federal Communications Commission could find themselves with jurisdiction over Internet content if they are forced to rule of such subjects as net neutrality.

My warning to the Federal Communications Commission …

If you persist in challenging the First Amendment, there is the possibility that the entire Internet community will simply rise up in rebellion demanding that all Federal Communications Commissioners who voted to regulate Internet content be fired and that the agency be restricted to its former duties as the keeper of the broadcast spectrum technical operations.

Politicians have seen the power of the Internet to raise funds and change the tenor of the political debate in America. Organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (www.eff.org) have both the technical and legal expertise at their command to mount a serious challenge to any proposed FCC ruling. 

An FCC Commissioner speaks …

According to Business & Media Institute …

“There’s a huge concern among conservative talk radio hosts that reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine would all-but destroy the industry due to equal time constraints. But speech limits might not stop at radio. They could even be extended to include the Internet and ‘government dictating content policy.’”

“FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell raised that as a possibility after talking with bloggers at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. McDowell spoke about a recent FCC vote to bar Comcast from engaging in certain Internet practices – expanding the federal agency’s oversight of Internet networks.”

“The commissioner, a 2006 President Bush appointee, told the Business & Media Institute the Fairness Doctrine could be intertwined with the net neutrality battle. The result might end with the government regulating content on the Web, he warned. McDowell, who was against reprimanding Comcast, said the net neutrality effort could win the support of ‘a few isolated conservative’ who may not fully realize the long-term effects of government regulation.”

“’I think the fear is that somehow large corporations will censor their content, their points of view, right,’ McDowell said. ‘I think the bigger concern for them should be if you have government dictating content policy, which by the way would have a big First Amendment problem.’”

“Then, whoever is in charge of government is going to determine what is fair, under a so-called ‘Fairness Doctrine,’ which won’t be called that – it’ll be called something else,’ McDowell said. ‘So, will Web sites, will bloggers have to give equal time or equal space on their Web site to opposing views rather than letting the marketplace of ideas determine that?’”

“McDowell told BMI the Fairness Doctrine isn’t currently on the FCC’s radar. But a new administration and Congress elected in 2008 might renew Fairness Doctrine efforts, but under another name.”

The “Net Neutrality” issue is easy to understand …

Do you want the common carriers, such as the telephone and cable companies, adopting the current slice-and-dice method of charging you for Internet access and also for the type and amount of content transmitted? Think current telephone rates, with their introductory rates and multiple special prices, are confusing. That’s exactly what these common carriers want: to be able to complete on chaos with the profit being assured by the consumer’s ignorance and lack of ability to sift through thousands of choices to select an appropriate plan. Or, at the very worst, a “bundled” plan which maximized the common carriers’ profits for each service while being portrayed as a “great deal” for the consumer.

The implied threat: it’s a tradeoff …

Allow the common carriers to perform deep packet inspection and charge by traffic type or face greater regulation by the Federal Communications Commission and the possibility of content rules and regulations.

Bottom line: it’s our airwaves and our Internet …

Say “NO” to both choices. These people are elected to serve the public, not screw the consumer on behalf of special interests rich enough to buy politicians.

There is no need to enable the current crop of middlemen: such as the recording and motion picture industry to continue to ride roughshod over the technology which confers so much personal and professional advantage to the ordinary American. These are the groups that are crippling digital records, demanding special enhancements to prevent so-called piracy and have been collecting royalties on each blank media sold to the public. These are the very same people who have avoided releasing public domain works into the public by demanding that the breaking of an electronic wrapper be made a criminal act; although the material protected by the wrapper is in the public domain.

Now is the time to become more aware of your rights and responsibilities as an American citizen, lest they fall by the wayside; done in by unintelligible bureaucratic hanky-panky.

What can YOU do?

Let your elected officials and the candidates for office know that you want “net neutrality” as well as your First Amendment rights when it comes to the control of content on your own sites.

Resolve to mount a strong defense to political efforts to control the Internet: in the United States and elsewhere. The Internet was born of the contributions of free thinkers, subsidized by the government (the people) and should remain free. We all pay for our own computers, Internet connections and preparation of our own content. Major content providers pay to place their content on the Internet. There is no reason why the public should enable anyone to serve as a toll-booth or gate-keeper charging for the privilege of being a man in the middle.

Join an organized group that will support your cause. I can think of no finer group that the Electronic Frontier Foundation which supports both net neutrality and First Amendment free speech.

Vote for the candidate who will exert the least amount of control over your lives and not try to turn the trials and tribulations of everyday living into profit- or tax-generating opportunities to enrich the politicians and their special interests.

View the the democrats, especially the far-left liberal democrats with suspicion. For these are the people who are trying to use our own rules, regulations and laws against us for their own purposes. In this particular case, stifling the dissent which is spread by both talk radio and the Internet; much to their chagrin.

-- steve

Quote of the day: “Advertising is the modern substitute for argument; its function is to make the worse appear the better.” -- George Santayana

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

FCC Commissioner: Return of Fairness Doctrine Could Control Web Content


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS