A growing number of Americans are concerned about privacy following the National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s leaks over the summer — but it isn’t just individuals who are concerned. America’s libraries are urging lawmakers to produce legislation to curb the NSA’s spying authority in an effort to protect the freedom of citizens to read and research without concern for government scrutiny.
Government spying on library patrons is nothing new. In 2001, the American Library Association expressed vocal opposition to the passage of the Patriot Act, fearing that the government would use individual library activity logs to profile Americans. The anti-terror law indeed gave the FBI the ability to force libraries to hand over user data.
With Snowden’s revelations, the ALA renewed its efforts to curtail government spying on library patrons.
“The library community welcomes a renewed public debate on how to balance the need to fight terrorism and the need to protect personal privacy and civil liberties,” ALA President Maureen Sullivan said in June. “Millions of innocent customers, at least Verizon’s, have had their personal phone records released to the government without their knowledge and without allegations of specific facts supporting the relevance of their records to a federal terrorism investigation. We must demand more accountability and transparency in all of these surveillance issues. Our nation’s libraries are a tremendous information resource for those who want to better understand the issues and a place to begin debates about these issues.”
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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has been almost as strong an advocate for Obamacare as President Barack Obama himself, and for just as long. But he’s no fan of watching those close to him endure Obamacare policies and premiums, now that the Affordable Care Act’s implementation is a reality.
CNN reported Wednesday that Reid has exempted some of his staffers from buying health coverage through Obamacare exchanges, allowing them instead to keep their Federal employee insurance plans.
That makes Reid the one and only top Congressional leader to break the spirit of the near-universal pledge among Washington lawmakers to hew to the same Obamacare mandates that Congress has forced upon the rest of the Nation. Fellow Democrat Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Republican leaders in both legislative chambers have at least remained in character by requiring their staffs to go on the healthcare exchanges.
But not Reid — despite proclaiming in September that Congress and its staff “are going to be part of the exchanges, that’s what the law says and we’ll be part of that.” Reid himself, along with his personal staff will indeed be on the exchanges. But, according to CNN:
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Brush up on the day’s headlines with Personal Liberty’s P.M. Edition news links.
The latest leak in the ongoing trickle of information Edward Snowden supplied to newspapers about the National Security Agency (NSA) is a whopper: worldwide, the NSA gathers close to 5 billion records on the whereabouts and digital “relationships” of cell phone users each day. Full Story…
Is there a chance that President Barack Obama will resign ahead of the 2014 elections to offset voter backlash against Democrats due to controversy over his signature healthcare overhaul? According to one Wall Street analyst there is. Full Story…
The Obama Administration says the site can now handle 50,000 unique visitors at one time and 800,000 over the course of a day. But on Day One of the new-and-improved site, it didn’t appear able to keep up with the load. No wonder HHS is encouraging users to come back at off-peak hours. Full Story…
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At least for as long as it remains legal, here’s one way to deal with any pesky unmanned aerial vehicles that invade your personal airspace: hack them and make them do your bidding.
A hacker named Samy Kamkar has developed a set of drone hardware, along with the software to control it, that the DIY crowd can use to fabricate a drone that will hunt down other unmanned aerial vehicles, hack them and – as ArsTechnica phrases it – “turns them into a conscripted army of unmanned vehicles under the attacker’s control.”
Not that we know what any of this means, but here’re the specifics:
Dubbed SkyJack, the contraption uses a radio-controlled Parrot AR.Drone quadcopter carrying a Raspberry Pi circuit board, a small battery, and two wireless transmitters. The devices run a combination of custom software and off-the-shelf applications that seek out wireless signals of nearby Parrot drones, hijack the wireless connections used to control them, and commandeer the victims’ flight-control and camera systems. SkyJack will also run on land-based Linux devices and hack drones within radio range. At least 500,000 Parrot drones have been sold since the model was introduced in 2010.
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The latest leak in the ongoing trickle of information Edward Snowden supplied to newspapers about the National Security Agency (NSA) is a whopper: worldwide, the NSA gathers close to 5 billion records on the whereabouts and digital “relationships” of cell phone users each day.
According to The Washington Post, which broke the story Wednesday, the NSA taps directly into the physical backbone of the global telecommunications infrastructure, “enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable.”
The NSA does not target Americans’ location data by design, but the agency acquires a substantial amount of information on the whereabouts of domestic cellphones “incidentally,” a legal term that connotes a foreseeable but not deliberate result.
One senior collection manager, speaking on condition of anonymity but with permission from the NSA, said “we are getting vast volumes” of location data from around the world by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign ones. Additionally, data is often collected from the tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad with their cellphones every year.
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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.
- Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), one of Obamacare’s architects and staunchest supporters, is also the only top Congressional leader to exempt some of his staff from having to buy insurance through the law’s new exchanges. Source: CNN…
- The Obama Administration was serious enough about manufacturing a high-value platinum coin to avert a Congressional fight over the debt ceiling that it had its top lawyers draw up a memo laying out the legal case for such a move. Source: Huffington Post…
- The Obama Administration has avoided informing lawmakers of Healthcare.gov’s security problems, and this is just another incidence of the White House’s incompetence we’ve seen since the health-care law’s rollout, according to House Intelligence chair Mike Rogers (R., Mich.). Source: National Review…
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An 11-year-old Oregon girl hoping to help her father pay for her braces by selling mistletoe recently learned a lesson that every small-business owner in the United States understands: Entrepreneurial spirit isn’t highly appreciated by the rulers of a bureaucratic society.
After learning that her orthodontic treatment would cost her father $4,800, Madison Root hatched a plan to chip in and help her family with the bill.
“I felt like I could help my dad with the money,” she told KATU.
So the youngster decided to take to the busy Portland Saturday Market over the weekend to sell neatly packaged mistletoe complete with a red bow to customers getting a jump on holiday shopping.
As she attempted to sell her goods among a crowd complete with buskers, beggars, protesters and the peddlers of various other handicrafts, the girl was approached by a private security guard employed by the market who ordered her to stop. The reason, according to reports, is that the child hadn’t filed the proper paperwork required by city ordinance to sell her products.
“I wouldn’t think I’d have any problems because people are asking for money, people are selling stuff, this is a public place,” Madison told the local news station.
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A “tidal wave” of Federal regulations meant to protect American financial consumers from predatory practices of Wall Street banks is creating big problems for Main Street banks and credit unions, small bank advocates told Congress on Tuesday.
Currently, the number of banks in the United States is at its lowest level since the Great Depression, due to a combination of regulatory hurdles that are forcing many community banks out of business and lack of the same government support of larger institutions enjoy.
Since 2008, 486 small banks throughout the Nation have been shuttered by the FDIC. In many cases, the smaller banks were forced to close because of risky lending practices that were not mitigated by a Federal bailout like the risky practices of mega-banks.
Furthermore, while most of the financial rules imposed by the Dodd-Frank Act, the international Basel 3 capital standards and new regulations on credit cards apply mainly to larger banks, the spillover that pertains to smaller banks is devastating to those institutions which are not “too big to fail.”
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“Money, money, money! If Jesus came back and saw what’s going on in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.” — from Woody Allen’s 1986 movie, “Hannah and Her Sister”
On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the zombies took to the streets, cashing in on the best deals available to fulfill the true meaning of Christmas. In several instances, they created havoc and fear. This is Christmas in the 21st century. Rather than celebrating the birth of Christ, millions of people turn into prowling reptiles that stalk day and night in the rich hunting grounds of giant retailers like Wal-Mart.
We have been stripped of our humanity, at a time when we need to celebrate with family and God.
But there is a new god in town. It’s a primitive god that placates our pleasure centers and drives our unquenchable thirst to own and collect more, the tradition and spirit of Hanukkah and Christmas be damned.
The Seattle Times reported: “More than a dozen major U.S. retailers stayed open for 24 hours or more on Thanksgiving Day through Black Friday, and crowds formed early and often over the two days.”
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There is big money in the drug war for Federal agencies and State and local police forces.
I have told you before that the so-called war on drugs is a sham and a scam, and it corrupts Federal agencies and all police forces. American prisons and cemeteries are overflowing with victims of the faux drug war.
There are more than 2.4 million people in U.S. prisons. That’s more than one out of every 100 Americans, and that number has more than quadrupled since 1980. The most serious charge against 51 percent of those in Federal prisons is a drug offense. In State prisons, one in five prisoners is being incarcerated over a drug offense.
There is now a breaking scandal in Massachusetts that reveals how corrupt the war on drugs actually is. Annie Dookhan, a chemist with the Massachusetts crime lab, has been caught conspiring with prosecutors in that State to falsify drug evidence by tampering with samples and intentionally forging signatures. As many as 40,000 cases may have had their evidence tainted by Dookhan.
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