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In this time of national unity here are the problems we have… They are not the ones covered by any media (Benghazi, IRS, Iraq)….
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1) Destruction of Public Education and its consequence across future American generations

2) Residual effects of global warming. Costs of moving inland.

3) Income Inequality. Public unrest over getting further and further behind.

4) Disproportionate tax rates paid by top 1%.

5) Disintegrating infrastructure

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There are many others… Although species annihilation was big and dear, focusing on it instead of these would be a mistake. These are the top 5 issues that if not corrected very soon, will doom the USA to a period of decay.

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This was a surprise.  Today the Federal Appeals Court ruled against the FCC, and for Comcast and Verizon and AT&T…….

If you’ve always loved your cable company, XOXOXO,  then have no fear.  But….if they have ever pissed you off in your lifetime, GRRRRRR, …be afraid, very afraid.

Essentially what this ruling “could do” is give them unlimited power over what you see, or not see on the internet….. As well as unlimited power over what they can charge for the privilege (no longer your right) to see what ever it is they choose to show you…..

The internet is set become another payola as was the radio….  no matter what station you tune, you hear the same 10 songs, unless of course, you always listened to WVUD….. And the reason you hear the same 10 songs, is because those record companies paid the 10 highest fees to the corporate entity overseeing the  music selection….

Now do you see where we are headed?

Ever heard of Netflicks?  Of course you have.  Dump your stock.  They will now be charged between $75- 115 million extra a year, just to have their movies carried by Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T..

Prefer to use Google over the Alta Vista search engine on the Comcast Site?  Expect to pay a premium.  Wish to see a video from your children in South Africa?  Expect to pay for it….  YouTube?  Will now be pay in advance….

At stake is “common carriage”.  It is a centuries old premise that if someone operates in the public arena, one must allow all the same option to use it.  One can’t for example, run a ferry and not allow his mother in law to cross, or Ted Cruz… If one is providing a public service, under common carriage principles he must not discriminate between parties….

This was one of the tenants that helped strike down bus segregation in the Old South, the fact that this age old principle was violated.

However… what happened…. was in 2005, the Supreme Court in their “Brand X” decision, decided that broadband (and wireless), was NOT a common carriage entity under existing law… Phones, yes; old cable, yes; but broadband… no…   The current court used that decision to say that since broadband was NOT a regulate common carrier provider (even though obviously it is), it did not have to comply with the common carriage principles every other entity has to follow….. Broadband is not a telecommunications network, and therefore FCC rules DO NOT APPLY.

The 2011 FCC rules being challenged in this court case, essentially state that broadband providers cannot block competing traffic on their network or discriminate against another company’s services that ride over its network in order to benefit its own competing services.

Here are the fears.

Net neutrality supporters have long worried that a broadband provider, such as Comcast, may purposely slow down traffic from an Internet company, such as Netflix, that uses its network to deliver services. In this case, Comcast could slow down the video streams of Netflix, making it impossible for Comcast broadband customers to use this service, which competes against Comcast’s own on-demand video service.

This happened immediately after the  decision.  Try going to the EFF site, Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization hostile to corporate takeover of the internet.  It takes 5 minutes to load each page, and all other sites take under a second.  I tried it repeatedly with always the same results.  Prior to the decision, it had always been in an instant.  So obviously now that companies can do what ever they want, any website critical or your cable company, is getting dissed…  (No wonder Chris Coons uncharacteristically is sucking up to the Cable Industry.)  If Christine O’Donnell runs again, she will be the only candidate in the race, according to the internet…. unless you do “their” bidding.

Broadband providers could create tiers of service that would require Internet companies trying to reach their customers over this infrastructure to pay a fee for a certain quality of service. For example, Amazon may pay Verizon to prioritize its traffic to ensure that its streaming services get a better quality of service or so that its Web pages load more quickly. Net neutrality supporters say such a system would relegate smaller Internet companies, which cannot afford to pay for priority service, to a slower and less reliable Internet. These Net neutrality advocates say this will stifle innovation.

The court ruling could pave the way for broadband operators and backbone Internet providers, which provide the nationwide infrastructure for the Internet, to create new revenue streams by charging Internet companies, such as Amazon, Google, and Netflix fees for offer priority delivery of their content.

Mozilla responded with this…

“Giving Internet service providers the legal ability to block any service they choose from reaching end users will undermine a once free and unbiased Internet. In order to promote openness, innovation, and opportunity on the Internet, Mozilla strongly encourages the FCC and Congress to act in all haste to correct this error.”

And that is the solution.  The FCC can simply redirect broadband and wireless to be back in the public domain, and net neutrality can continue.

Or Congress can pass legislation demanding he same.

Or the Supreme Court can overturn the Appeals Court’s decision.

It comes down to our rights  to free access of knowledge, versus a corporation’s right to make money.  As has been the trend lately, the Court decided the trump suit was a corporation’s right to make money….

If two volcanos go as did Krakatoa at both ends of the San Andreas fault close to the same time, could it be enough for the Big One?

Kilroy thinks so and I am inclined to agree. Call it a sixth sense. I’ll be looking forward to seeing if this mystical sense of certainty is indeed as real as old philosophers have impuned, or if it alas is just a figment of my imagination, which my rational side has insisted all along…

🙂

But one can’t be a seer without making a prediction…

color enhanced copy of b/w picture in released documents

“This surveillance system lets FBI agents play back recordings even as they are being captured (like TiVo), create master wiretap files, send digital recordings to translators, track the rough location of targets in real time using cell-tower information, and even stream intercepts outward to mobile surveillance vans.

FBI wiretapping rooms in field offices and undercover locations around the country are connected through a private, encrypted backbone that is separated from the internet. Sprint runs it on the government’s behalf.”

Documents recently released to the EFF’s FOIA, suggest that the FBI’s wiretapping engineers have succeeded in tapping into our standard digital communication’s systems. As Randy Single writes in Wired, the FBI has quietly built a sophisticated, point-and-click surveillance system that performs instant wiretaps on almost any communications device, according to nearly a thousand pages of restricted documents newly released under the Freedom of Information Act. The redacted documentation leaves many questions, however. In particular, it’s unclear what role the carriers have in opening up a tap, and how that process is secured.

“The real question is the switch architecture on cell networks,” said Matt Blaze, a security researcher at the University of Pennsylvania . “What’s the carrier side look like?

Randy Cadenhead, the privacy counsel for Cox Communications, which offers VOIP phone service and internet access, says the FBI has no independent access to his company’s switches.

“Nothing ever gets connected or disconnected until I say so, based upon a court order in our hands,” Cadenhead says. “We run the interception process off of my desk, and we track them coming in. We give instructions to relevant field people who allow for interconnection and to make verbal connections with technical representatives at the FBI.”

The nation’s largest cell-phone providers — whose customers are targeted in the majority of wiretaps — were less forthcoming. AT&T politely declined to comment, while Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon simply ignored requests for comment.

FBI Agent DiClemente, however, seconded Cadenhead’s description.

“The carriers have complete control. That’s consistent with CALEA,” DiClemente said. “The carriers have legal teams to read the order, and they have procedures in place to review the court orders, and they also verify the information and that the target is one of their subscribers.”

Despite its ease of use, the new technology is proving more expensive than a traditional wiretap. Telecoms charge the government an average of $2,200 for a 30-day CALEA wiretap, while a traditional intercept costs only $250, according to the Justice Department inspector general. A federal wiretap order in 2006 cost taxpayers $67,000 on average, according to the most recent U.S. Court wiretap report.

To security experts, though, the biggest concern over DCSNet isn’t the cost: It’s the possibility that push-button wiretapping opens new security holes in the telecommunications network.

Documents show that an internal 2003 audit uncovered numerous security vulnerabilities in DCSNet. In this internal audit, (pg 61/112pdf), commenced after discovering that no security audit had been concluded for four years, pointed out some very basic security breeches. Some were the direct results of budget cuts, such as limiting technical staff. Others were the result of putting high tech toys in front of those too green to understand the full implications…..The security assessment titled Operation Mayday, uncovered this nugget. Problem:

“Zipdrive attached to FBINet machine.


Recommended Action: Complete Trilogy User training. Remind users not to attach unauthorized devices to network. Remind users not to install unauthorized software. Treat future instances as security violations and report through appropriate channels with increasingly severe penalties for
repeat violations.

Remember, this accesses all your bank documents as well as your deepest, intimate conversations…..which due to lack of oversight over the past four years, if cached, is now open forever to the world……Other samples of Katrina-like misconduct or ineptitude: Problem:

Outdated or no disk encryption on laptop
computers.


Recommended Action: Install PointSec on all machines unless excepted. Provide written justification to SecD for consideration of any exceptions.


Problem-: Baton Rouge RA, CART laptop has no disk encryption.

Also in the report:

1. There is no anti-viral software loaded on the DCS-3000 machines. If malicious
code, viruses, and/or executables are introduced, there will be potential for risk to the system or compromise of data, thereby compromising evidence contained therein.


Current Status:
• Verified Closed: McAfee 4.5.1 installed with Virus updated 05/05/2006

Current Status:
• Verified Closed: Passwords require eight characters, complex etc.

3. Successive failed logon attempt lockout is not enabled. Without a lockout policy,
an unauthorized user would have infinite attempts to gain access to the system.


Current Status:
• Verified Closed: Accounts lock out after three attempts and must be reset by
admin.

5. Workstations associated with the system do not enforce adequate user permissions. Improperly configured machines do not adhere to the least privilege principle. This practice could potentially give a user access and rights not warranted for by their position.

In particular, the DCS-3000 machines lacked adequate logging, had insufficient password management, were missing antivirus software, allowed unlimited numbers of incorrect passwords without locking the machine, and used shared logins rather than individual accounts.

The system also required that DCS-3000’s user accounts have administrative privileges in Windows, which would allow a hacker who got into the machine to gain complete control.

WTF?

The flaws are appalling and show that the FBI fails to appreciate the risk from insiders. The system is insecure, essentially because the people who designed it and run it have an insecure attitude about the nature of threats to the system. Outsiders may be stopped by VPNs, firewalls, etc., but insiders may wander around the system nearly at will. Not so different from the situation that set up the Vodaphone/Greece fiasco.

As Steve Bellovin from Columbia points out:

“Instead of personal userids, the FBI relies on log sheets. This may provide sufficient accountability if everyone follows the rules. It provides no protection against rule-breakers. It is worth noting that Robert Hanssen obtained much of the information he sold to the Soviets by exploiting weak permission mechanisms in the FBI’s Automated Case System. The DCS-3000 system doesn’t have proper password security mechanisms, either, which brings up another point: why does a high-security system use passwords at all? We’ve know for years how weak they are. Why not use smart cards for authentication?”

Any wiretap system faces a slew of risks, such as surveillance targets discovering a tap, or an outsider or corrupt insider setting up unauthorized taps. Moreover, the architectural changes to accommodate easy surveillance on phone switches and the internet can in itself, introduce new and frightfully dangerous security and privacy holes.

So where does our safety lie? In a bill of goods sold to us and to Congress in order to protect us from “phantom” terrorists, we have allowed anyone and everyone to compromise our personal privacy. Most particularly, those very ones we trusted to defend us from our enemies………

Gestapo Dick in Charge of Intelligence

Cheney allowed civilian wiretaps before 9/11. What? Wasn’t that illegal? Apparently that was overridden by the Vice President.

Wait a minute. Didn’t the NSA have apparatus that listened for various words such as “Jihad” or “terrorist”? Yes, it did, but as soon as that was discovered to be coming from an American, the tap was dropped and the name of the person was expunged. The NSA was following the letter of the law…….

In fact, as the Bush administration was coming in, the Clinton administration, in their freshman orientation guide for incoming republicans, said in their packet Transition 2001. “Warning to the incoming administration: the agency in its quest to compete on a technological level with terrorists who have access to state-of-the-art equipment, some American citizens would get caught up in the NSA’s surveillance activities. However, in those instances, the identities of the Americans who made telephone calls overseas would be “minimized,” one former NSA official said, in order to conceal the identity of the American citizen picked up on a wiretap.”

Or so was the intent. “What we were supposed to do, was delete the name of the person,” says a former NSA encryption analyst. “Even during the Clinton years, the computers would accidentally pick up some of the key words said by Americans.” The analyst deleted those name in the reports he sent the senior analysts.

That changed in 2001. Under orders by Cheney the names were included. Furthermore, Cheney sent back orders that those persons were to continue to be surveilled 24/7. What disturbed this analyst was that some or most of these terrorists he was ordered to listen to, worked in the White House or State Department.

In a revealing statement, another analyst says: “There was a real feeling or paranoia emanating from the Vice President’s Office, and I don’t think it had to do with anything with the threat of terrorism……”

According to James Bamford, author of the best selling books The Puzzle Palace and The Body of Secrets, before 9/11 the agency was not poking as hard among regular citizens as it does now. That all changed after 9/11. However a strong case for selective spying on government officials, seems to be the focus of the Vice President during the summer before 9/11.

If you remember it was that summer(2001) that the NSA took the unprecedented step or opening its doors to reporters. The director even said on Nightline : ”

“We’re a foreign intelligence agency. We try to collect information that is of value to American decision-makers, to protect American values, America–and American lives.”

American values? Isn’t that one of the code words used by the neo-cons? American values such as the destruction of the social net, establishment of an untouchable rich caste, and the wearing down of our Armed Services through unnecessary deployments?

But in answer to that question: he continues:

“We aren’t off the leash, so to speak, guarding ourselves. We have a body of oversight within the executive branch, in the Department of Defense, in the president’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, which is comprised of both government and nongovernmental officials. You’ve got both houses of Congress with–with very active–in some cases, aggressive–intelligence oversight committees with staff members who have an access badge to NSA just like mine.”

(Hasn’t that all changed, as of August 11th?)

Today that spokesperson is head of the CIA.

So while the official voice who I believe is still today trustworthy and genuine, was speaking still on the Clinton platform of government within the law, his superior. the VP, was going behind his back to wiretap illegally.

Final thought: remember when Paul O’Neil left the administration fuming and 24 hour later 180’d and clammed up? Inner beltway speculation was that they got to him somehow.

We now know how…………………

Bottom line, before there was a war……there was an illegal act instigated by the Vice President…….Are we safer than we were under Clinton?

“I see nothing…….nothing!….”A White House Staffers Most Oft Repeated Phrase

Whether coincidental or happenstance, the local blog scene has become mysteriously quiet since the signing of the wiretap law just before last weekend. Only Jason has defied the danger, and out of professional courtesy, I do not think he should face MR. CHENEY alone.

In one of my comments on another forum, I was (politely) told that I did not know what I was talking about when I was discussing wiretapping. Although I knew a lot from sources close to the business, after my weekend research on today’s methods (post internet), I came to the conclusion that they were right. I really did not know what was going on………..

No one is talking facts, making it doubly hard to investigate. Based on information culled strictly from the public domain, here is what I could find so far.

Granted the old wiretapping descriptions were out of date. As fiber optics invaded America, switches were placed at all network hubs, allowing for the passing of all information through the government’s hands during it’s journey en route from sender to recipient. These hubs were all on American soil, and therefore, under the old laws, required some type of oversight by FISA or another court, to issue a “wiretap” or other intelligence gathering device.

Had we suspected that a Saudi Arabian national, withdrawing money from an ATM in South Portland, Maine, just up the street from the Mobil station right there at the exit off 95, was about to commit a dastardly act that would change the future of this country forever, getting court approval in real time, would be difficult, if not impossible.

As Bonner “leaked” on national television, (where’s the outrage? Oh, he’s republican) a federal judge had declared such practices illegal. Why? Was he too, one of “them” liberals? No he just decided that the propensity for the system’s misuse, far outweighed it’s gain to society.

What could be more important than saving American lives?

That is a good question and needs a lengthy answer…. American lives are important…..In fact, the primary reason that most Americans are against Cheney’s Trillion $ war going on today, is that they feel it is squandering lives……American lives. But whenever lives are being sacrificed for a real purpose, Americans feel much differently, as polls taken during the Afghanistan campaign readily show…….

So there must be something hidden that is so controversial or so big, that Americans place a higher value on it, than they do saving lives. One questions, what could that be?

William Wallace says it best in “Braveheart“: Freedom!

I can see everyones eyebrows raise. Are we jumping the gun here? What reasonable person could expect an elected official of the United States government to spy on, control, and imprison their own citizens?

Apparently that is the fear that most Americans share. It is for that reason alone why everything must be kept secret and hidden from public scrutiny. For within this administration, everyone is scared to death that the public will someday find out……..

If you are hearing this for the first time, as I did last Saturday, it shows that their clamp on this intelligence and information about this story is working. But across the web and in various newspapers, are enough leads that put this picture in perspective.

Here is what we know. The technology out there is equal to what is available on most PC’s today. It is just the size and scale that blows everyone’s mind. Apparently everything that is ever said, written, posted, e-mailed, filmed, in the entire world, is being saved. Most of this will never be touched. We know this capacity exists: for how often has a commercial enterprise solicited us due to a pattern detected based on our personal trends? And how often have we football watchers been correctly told, based on probability, just where the quarterback is going to throw the ball, and guess where he then throws it to?

This coupling of voice recognition, the entire library of data, and a massive scale of sorting computer software all together under one roof, leads to a profile on every single American citizen at the touch of a button.

If we elected saints as our political saviors, we wouldn’t care. Sure, find the bad guys; just leave the good guys alone. But unfortunately instead of saints, we chose to elect republicans who we have found can be trusted far less than God, as our coins and old bank building in Millsboro, so declare is our intention. Our founding fathers were quite lividly adamant that any government should NOT have unlimited powers of search and seizure. So with today’s technology, our family jewels are safe within our home, but our private thoughts and conversations are not……..

So what is wrong with listening in on private conversations…….I do nothing wrong……and I’ve got nothing to hide……listen all you want, damn it….. That is the defense we hear from right wing nuts whenever they defend this invasion of anyone’s privacy. To stupid people that may make sense. But it only takes a small amount of intelligence to realize how readily that ability can be abused.

Tom Carper, along with many democrats voted for the unlimited use of this technology, done legally at the discretion of the Executive branch itself with no one watching…..This is the same guy who once took great effort to dress up as Commodore McDonough and speak to little school kids about the greatness of this country……Can anyone reasonably expect that such a cognitive switch which jumps away from America’s true ideals to those of a totalitarian state, was NOT coerced by some type of blackmail?

What dirt do they know on Tom Carper? He should count his blessings…..for he is one of the lucky ones. Were he squeaky clean, he could have shared the same fate as Tim Johnson…..or Jon Corzine…..or Paul Wellstone. Speculation to be sure, but it goes to show to those who implicitly trust their leaders, just what can happen when government is given the free hand to spy on their citizens.

But let’s take a more realistic example. One that occurs worldwide today. Over at Delaware Liberal there is a lot of anger focused on the current administration. That blog has become a better source of news than delawareonline, or its printed companion, the News Journal. Of course if you want obituaries, you should still buy the paper. But major news stories are broken day’s ahead of the controlled media, and create firestorms of public opinion that are detrimental to the establishment of the Cheney ideals, which are even occasionally sponsored in part by the republican party.

So how to stop it? This might work. An anon post describing some to the conversations that took place last February could just be enough. It would take a strong Hillary at one’s side to say that did not create any problems. And where would those conversations come from? Apparently they are stored, right now, along with those of every reader, pulled at will with a couple of keystrokes next to your name………..

Yes this technology can corral terrorists…..but it can also be used to know what Biden will say in the next debate, who sold Obama his cocaine when he was young, and whether Hillary is or is not returning the favor her husband gave her during the previous scandal. It can be used to silence witnesses: find and expose whistle blowers, thereby killing them. It can be used to publicize a politician’s health problems, say erectile dysfunction, or blackmail those who don’t ask, and don’t tell.

It can be used to find which of an opponents supporters are “still on the fence” and get to them first. Why do you think Karl Rove resigned the first business day just after the law was passed? Being good for six months, this ability to eavesdrop on each and every Democratic or republican candidate will, unlike Watergate, be legal to well after all the big primaries have all been settled.

Lawsuits against reporters who won’t reveal their sources? A thing of the past, for this law now makes all those irrelevant. There are going to be a lot of dead people turning up soon.

This power can be used in political appointments to insure that only a “yes sir…as you wish sir”…mentality becomes firmly entrenched within the decision making process of our executive branch, and all previously conflicting conversations that have so far kept our country from driving over a cliff, become no more…..

It can also make average citizen afraid to write criticisms such as this…..never to be heard again. Based on what I have seen so far, Jason turned out to be the only one with a “Bravehart” enough to continue….. (my apologies if I missed someone). Yeah…..it affected me. (Call me Robert Bruce.) But like Nathan Hale, before me, I too now decide to walk up to the gallows, put the noose around my neck, and plainly speak my words of wisdom, which hopefully will far outweigh anything I could have done to help this nation, had I cowered and remained silent…………………..

Good news gets better:

Recently heard this from EFF. Breaking news that took place yesterday. This is from their newsletter.

June 18, 2007
Court Protects Email from Secret Government Searches

Landmark Ruling Gives Email Same Constitutional Protections as Phone Calls

San Francisco – The government must have a search warrant before it can secretly seize and search emails stored by email service providers, according to a landmark ruling Monday in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court found that email users have the same reasonable expectation of privacy in their stored email as they do in their telephone calls — the first circuit court ever to make that finding.

Over the last 20 years, the government has routinely used the federal Stored Communications Act (SCA) to secretly obtain stored email from email service providers without a warrant. But today’s ruling — closely following the reasoning in an amicus brief filed the by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and other civil liberties groups — found that the SCA violates the Fourth Amendment.

“Email users expect that their Hotmail and Gmail inboxes are just as private as their postal mail and their telephone calls,” said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. “The government tried to get around this common-sense conclusion, but the Constitution applies online as well as offline, as the court correctly found. That means that the government can’t secretly seize your emails without a warrant.”

Warshak v. United States was brought in the Southern District of Ohio federal court by Steven Warshak to stop the government’s repeated secret searches and seizures of his stored email using the SCA. The district court ruled that the government cannot use the SCA to obtain stored email without a warrant or prior notice to the email account holder, but the government appealed that ruling to the 6th Circuit. EFF served as an amicus in the case, joined by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Democracy & Technology. Law professors Susan Freiwald and Patricia Bellia also submitted an amicus brief, and the case was successfully argued at the 6th Circuit by Warshak’s counsel Martin Weinberg.

For the full ruling in Warshak v. United States:
http://eff.org/legal/cases/warshak_v_usa/6th_circuit_decision_upholding_injunction.pdf
For EFF’s resources on the case, including its amicus brief:
http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/warshak_v_usa

I find it interesting that we elected a new congress to make the change, but currently, it is the courts leading the way…….A deep thanks of appreciation to EFF for their assistance on this case