Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s P.M. Edition news links.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and a handful of other conservative lawmakers have expressed disappointment in the bipartisan proposal that Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) released Tuesday. Full Story…
Another day, another not-at-all shocking revelation about the NSA’s spy dragnet from the trove of classified information Edward Snowden supplied to The Washington Post and The Guardian. Full Story…
An effort by the White House last year to push Obamacare on young women with the release of “The Life of Julia,” a series of infographics detailing how government might help one woman along from the age of 3 to 67, has been re-imagined in one blog’s effort to provide a more realistic take on life with Obamacare. Meet Julia…
Capitol Hill staff members who signed up through the Washington healthcare exchange are being told to confirm their enrollments in person. Full Story…
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Alarming information about just how frequently law enforcement officials across the country (not to mention the NSA) are trying to get cell phone data, including your location, seem to be published in the news media every day. With these privacy concerns in mind, last week we filed an amicus brief in the Connecticut Appellate Court in State v. Smith, urging it to find the state police violated the Fourth Amendment when it obtained cell tower records without a search warrant.
In this case, police were investigating a bank robbery and wanted to get cell phone records to tie the defendant to the crime. Officers obtained an ex parte order from the court that allowed them to obtain six months worth of Smith’s cell phone records, including subscriber information and cell tower connection records. Even though the government went to a judge to get authorization to get the records, they didn’t get a search warrant. Instead, both Federal and Connecticut State law authorize police to obtain cell phone location records with a showing less than the probable cause required to obtain a warrant. The trial court found the records were obtained properly and Smith was convicted and sentenced to 55 years in prison.
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Another day, another not-at-all shocking revelation about the NSA’s spy dragnet from the trove of classified information Edward Snowden supplied to The Washington Post and The Guardian.
The latest reveal comes from the Post, which reported Tuesday the National Security Agency tracks and singles out targets for hacking by following the same modus operandi advertisers use to tailor their Internet come-ons to the preferences and habits of individual computer users.
That involves placing third-party tracking cookies – small files that remain on a computer after a browser has visited, and then left, a website – which can relay information about the user’s browsing habits and history the next time he visits the same site. They’re used by advertisers to create long-term browsing histories for what companies presume to be a single individual, or small number of individuals using a single device, so that the ads that appear on a website continually reflect advertisers’ best guesses, based on the user’s browsing habits, at what that person is most likely to want to buy.
The NSA is, of course, not interested in selling anything. But by using a proprietary, Google-developed iteration of cookie – coupled with GPS location data—on unsuspecting computer or mobile phone users, government spies can identify a target and even create a gateway for warrantless, secret hacking.
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Do you know what is in your chicken nuggets? Thanks to Barack Obama, that is going to be a more important question than ever. At the end of August, the Obama administration quietly decided to start allowing Chinese poultry processors to ship processed chicken into the United States. For now, the meat must originate either in the United States or in another country where the poultry population has been certified to be safe. What that means is that chickens from the United States will be shipped all the way over to China, processed in plants over there, and then shipped back across the Pacific Ocean for us to eat. Only a limited number of companies are expected to take advantage of this, but according to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, a USDA report that Congress has seen indicates that China will likely be allowed to directly import their own chickens into this country “within a year“. What makes all of this even more disturbing is that a country-of-origin label will not be required on any of the chicken that is processed in China. So in the years ahead you could be eating chicken processed in China and not even know it.
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Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and a handful of other conservative lawmakers have expressed disappointment in the bipartisan proposal that Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) released Tuesday.
Paul contends that the latest two-year budget agreement is no different than many other Federal budgets which made promises for cuts that were never realized.
The Ryan-Murray proposal would reduce the Federal deficit by $23 billion over ten years without raising taxes; but it restores sequester cuts that are saving the government money right now. The budget deal would require Congress to set aside $1.012 trillion in discretionary spending for defense and other agencies in fiscal year 2014, $1.014 trillion for fiscal year 2015 and would restore $63 billion in sequester cuts.
“The small sequester spending cuts were not nearly enough to address our deficit problem,” Paul said in a statement. “Undoing tens of billions of this modest spending restraint is shameful and must be opposed. I cannot support a budget that raises taxes and never balances, nor can I support a deal that does nothing to reduce our nation’s $17.3 trillion debt.”
The Senator likened supporters of the budget to the always hungry and perpetually broke J. Wellington Wimpy from the Popeye cartoons.
Read more » (405 words + 16 images, estimated 1:37 mins reading time)
An effort by the White House last year to push Obamacare on young women with the release of “The Life of Julia,” a series of infographics detailing how government might help one woman along from the age of 3 to 67, has been re-imagined in one blog’s effort to provide a more realistic take on life with Obamacare.
The White House’s original propaganda effort was heavily criticized in conservative circles following its release for its celebration of cradle to grave government involvement in Julia’s life.
As I reported in May 2012: “The initiative features a fictitious woman named Julia whose life can be followed from the age of 3 to 67 by clicking through a number of slides. Each of the slides depicts—in a garishly Dear Leader sort of way— how the woman’s life would differ under a nanny state controlled by Obama and under one controlled by Mitt Romney.”
A writer for Policymic noted at around the same time: “When Julia starts public school, Obama is there. When she goes to college, he’s there. When she decides to have a child, there is no mention of a spouse or any other family, but it is okay, because Obama is there instead. Do you want to start a business ladies? You probably can’t without Obama.”
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It’s increasingly apparent that Obamacare is failing to lure the very demographic that its advocates have long pledged the health care law will most benefit: people without health insurance.
A poll conducted last week by NBC and The Wall Street Journal finds that uninsured Americans in particular believe, now more than in the past, that Obamacare should never have happened.
From the summary:
In a sign that may not bode well for the president, the law’s unpopularity jumped the most among the uninsured, who stand to be among the main beneficiaries of the law. Fully half of uninsured Americans now think the law was a bad idea. In September, 34% saw it that way.
The failed rollout of Obamacare – both as a functional product and as a beneficial policy – has simultaneously derailed Obama’s second-term political leverage and diminished public trust in his transparency as an honest leader.
“The President is being weighed down by one issue, his health-care law,” said Democratic pollster Fred Yang, who helped direct the poll. “It’s probably fair to say that as goes health care, so goes the Obama presidency for the next year.”
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Thomas Jefferson once said that “the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” In other words, he believed that government debt was the equivalent of stealing money from future generations on a massive scale. Right now, the U.S. government is stealing roughly $100,000,000 from future generations of Americans every single hour of every single day. And it is being projected that the U.S. national debt will more than double during the 8 years of the Obama administration. In other words, the federal government will pile more debt on to the backs of our children and our grandchildren during the Obama years than had been accumulated during all of the rest of U.S. history combined. The federal government is literally destroying the future of America, and what we are doing to our children and our grandchildren is beyond criminal. If there was one thing that the Republicans in Congress were supposed to do, it was to do something about all of this debt. These days Republicans can’t seem to agree on much, but the one issue that virtually all “conservatives” were supposed to agree on was the national debt. The American people gave the Republicans control of the House in 2010 and 2012 for a reason. Unfortunately, nothing has been done. Our debt has continued to spiral out of control and now John Boehner and Paul Ryan are pushing a “budget deal” that will essentially give the free-spending Democrats virtually everything that they want for the next 10 years. That is why John Boehner and Paul Ryan should immediately resign.
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Here is a collection of some of the stories making the Internet rounds this morning. Click the links for the full stories.
- A year that began with President Barack Obama riding high after his re-election victory is ending with him in the biggest hole of his presidency. Just 28 percent give the President high grades for being able to achieve his goals (down 16 points from January); only 37 percent give him high marks for being honest and straightforward (down 5 points from June); and 44 percent give him high marks for being able to handle a crisis (down another 5 points since June). Source: NBC News…
- A handful of Republican Party officials is quietly advancing a new batch of rules aimed at streamlining a chaotic presidential nominating process that many party insiders viewed as damaging to the their campaign for the White House in 2012, multiple GOP sources told CNN. Source: CNN…
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- At a prostate cancer survivors breakfast last week, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, marveled at the quality of single-payer health care systems abroad and suggested the U.S. follow suit. Amid frustration with the rollout of President Barack Obama’s health care plan, some members of Congress who agree with Powell are pushing for consideration of such a system. Source: U.S. News and World Report…
The U.S. Senate voted Monday to renew a ban against firearms that can pass undetected through metal detectors, but rejected calls to update the law in response to the advent of plastic guns made with 3-D printers.
That will come soon. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called for an update of the law, saying, “This isn’t science fiction anymore. … Someone can make a gun in their basement.”
Oh, the horrors.
The original ban was first signed into law in 1988 by Republican President Ronald Reagan shortly after the introduction of the Austrian-made Glock firearm. Made largely of synthetic material, the Glock created a fear of undetectable weapons among the control freaks and statists in the cesspool that is called Washington, D.C. That fear increased with the proliferation of the underground production of plastic guns with 3-D printers.
The liberal advocacy group Center for American Progress said the measure passed by Congress was “deeply flawed.”
“It does nothing to address new technologies like 3-D printing that could allow terrorists and other dangerous people to easily make fully functional, undetectable guns,” said Winnie Stachelberg, an executive vice president at the center.
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A survey conducted by the PEN American Center last month detailed the chilling effect that the National Security Agency’s actions have had on the intellectual freedom, creativity and social discourse of American writers. Now, a month after 85 percent of the Nation’s literary community expressed worries in the report (titled “Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives U.S. Writers to Self-Censor”), a consortium of at least 500 leading authors around the world is condemning the agency’s actions and calling for new global privacy protections for the digital age.
The accomplished group of “writers against mass survelliance” includes Nobel laureates such as Orhan Pamuk, J.M. Coetzee, Elfriede Jelinek, Günter Grass and Tomas Tranströmer, as well such other modern literary notables as Richard Ford, Margaret Atwood, Umberto Eco, Yann Martel, Dave Eggers, Colum McCann, Sapphire, Ian McEwan and Don DeLillo.
In a petition the writers request that the United Nations take steps to create an international bill of digital rights to stem the tide of Internet and communication surveillance of governments worldwide.
“A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy,” the petition states.
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If you’re tired of regaining weight each time you take off pounds, you’re not alone. Almost everyone puts the pounds back on after a diet. But researchers have found ways to improve the odds of getting slender and staying slender.
Their answer: Eat more protein.
The study, performed at the Karolinska Institutet’s Clinical Epidemiology Unit and the Obesity Center at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden, found that dieters who followed up their weight loss by eating a high-protein diet put fewer pounds back on than other weight losers. Their analysis also showed that, for some, using meal replacements and anti-obesity drugs also seemed to help.
“The body has several defense mechanisms against weight loss, such as increased hunger, lower energy metabolism and relapse back to old habits,” says researcher Erik Hemmingsson. “If the problem of rebound weight gain didn’t exist, obesity would be relatively easy to treat. There have been several possible methods to facilitate long-term weight control over the years, and now the database was large enough to make a systematic evaluation of existing studies.”
The study, a meta-analysis of 20 previously published scientific studies, included a total of 3,017 participants who were either obese or overweight at the start of the weight-loss process.
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The New York City Board of Health is set to vote today on new rules pushed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that would force children as young as 6 months old to be immunized annually against influenza if they attend a licensed day care or preschool program.
Citing bogus statistics, the Board — packed with mayoral appointees — produced a notice claiming influenza results in 20,000 hospitalizations and 30 to 150 deaths in children under 5 nationwide each year. There is little or no option to opt out. The vaccination would be required “unless the vaccine may be detrimental to the child’s health, as certified by a physician licensed to practice medicine in this state, or the parent, parents, or guardian of a child hold genuine and sincere religious beliefs which are contrary to the practices herein required.” But history shows jumping through the hoops necessary for exemptions are always daunting.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “from the 1976-1977 season to the 2006-2007 flu season, flu-associated deaths ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.” As the CDC believes that 3,000 to 49,000 annual deaths in a country with more than 313 million people is a travesty, it recommends everyone above age 6 should get the flu vaccine each year. It claims that the vaccine prevents flu 50 percent to 70 percent of the time. Now Bloomberg’s Board of “Health” is getting in on the act.
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The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) averted a potential tragedy last week when a security agent in St. Louis managed to confiscate a 2-inch toy pistol from the holster of one air passenger’s sock monkey puppet before she boarded her plane.
According to Seattle-based King 5 News, Phyllis May — a Redmond, Wash., resident who owns a small business selling sock monkey puppets — was attempting to board a Seattle flight in St. Louis with her spouse when a TSA agent spotted one of her dolls, a cowboy-themed creation she’d named “Rooster Monkburn” in commemoration of the famous fictional True Grit character.
May had the outlaw monkey in a carry-on bag that also contained another sock monkey and some monkey-making sewing supplies.
“[The agent] held it up and said, ‘whose is this?’ I realized oh, my God, this is my bag,” May told King 5:
“She said, ‘This is a gun.’ I said, ‘No, it’s not a gun; it’s a prop for my monkey.’”
“She said, ‘If I held it up to your neck, you wouldn’t know if it was real or not,’ and I said ‘Really?’”
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