Sunday, 25 August 2013

Re: Top lawmakers call for military response in Syria

I agree with the writer who said "NO".......it's just a very stupid idea by ignorant politicos. There are no "good guys" in these disputes between Moslem factions. The one thing they can agree upon is their hatred for Western Culture as they fight to get into line  to come to our countries and bring their hatreds with them. No thanx....stay out of i,t we can only loose and do not take in their so called refugees as you will be brining in trained terrororists hiding among them.
In a message dated 8/25/2013 1:33:00 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, baconlard@gmail.com writes:








No.  It is a very stupid idea by ignorant politicians.

 

B

Aug 25, 9:54 AM EDT

 

Top lawmakers call for military response in Syria

By KIMBERLY DOZIER
AP Intelligence Writer

Virginian Pilot

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two top lawmakers are calling for an immediate U.S. military response to the Syria's suspected chemical weapons attack that killed at least a hundred civilians last week.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker is calling for the U.S. to respond in a "surgical and proportional way, something that gets their attention." The Tennessee lawmaker says such a response should not involve U.S. troops on the ground, however.

Democrat Rep. Eliot Engel of New York says the U.S. must respond "quickly," together with NATO allies, possibly using cruise missile strikes, as the U.S. and NATO did in Libya.

A senior administration official said Sunday there is "very little doubt" a chemical weapon was used, but added the president had not yet decided how to respond.

Corker and Engel appeared on "Fox News Sunday."

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE.

A senior administration official said Sunday there is "very little doubt" that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in an incident that killed at least 100 people last week, but added that the president had not yet decided how to respond.

The official said the U.S. intelligence community based its assessment given to the White House on "the reported number of victims, reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured," and witness accounts. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly.

The official said the White House believes the Syrian government is continuing to bar a U.N. investigative team immediate access to the site of a reported Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs, in order to give the evidence of the attack time to degrade.

The official said the regime's continuing shelling of the site also further corrupts any available evidence of the attack.

Last Wednesday's purported chemical attack in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta has prompted U.S. naval forces to move closer to Syria. President Barack Obama met with his national security team Saturday to assess the intelligence and consider a U.S. military response, almost a year after warning the regime of Bashar Asad that chemical weapons use was a "red line" for the U.S.

The White House had concluded previously that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons in limited incidents, but last week's attack is suspected of being the deadliest single incident of a civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people since March 2011.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Thursday that a chemical attack "appears to be what happened."

The White House has approved limited lethal aid to Syrian rebels, but has limited weapons to mostly small arms and training. Obama described the factors limiting greater U.S. involvement in a CNN interview.

"If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it - do we have the coalition to make it work?" Obama said in the interview broadcast Friday. "Those are considerations that we have to take into account."

Hagel offered no hints Sunday about likely U.S. response to Syria's purported use of chemical weapons, telling reporters traveling with him in Malaysia that the Obama administration was still assessing intelligence information about the deadly attack.

"When we have more information, that answer will become clear," he said when a reporter asked whether it was a matter of when, not if, the U.S. will take military action against Syria.

Asked about U.S. military options on Syria, Hagel spoke in broad terms about the factors Obama is weighing.

"There are risks and consequences for any option that would be used or not used - for action or inaction," he told reporters. "You have to come to the central point of what would be the objective if you are to pursue an action or not pursue an action. So all those assessments are being made."

If the U.S. wants to send a message to Assad, defense officials have previously indicated the most likely military action would be a Tomahawk missile strike, launched from a ship in the Mediterranean.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a letter to a congressman last week that the administration opposes even limited action in Syria because it believes rebels fighting the Assad government wouldn't support American interests if they seized power. He said while the U.S. military could take out Assad's air force and shift the balance of the war toward the armed opposition, but that it's unclear where the strategy would go from there.

Dempsey is now in Amman, Jordan, set to meet with Arab and Western peers later Sunday to discuss ways to bolster the security of Syria's neighbors against possible attacks, chemical or other, by Assad's regime, a Jordanian security official said.

The meeting, closed to the press and held at an unspecified location, gathers chiefs of staff from Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan, the official said on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to brief reporters.



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Fwd: [New post] ****SIGH****





BareNakedIslam posted: " h/t Dumpert.nl"

New post on BARE NAKED ISLAM

****SIGH****

by BareNakedIslam

h/t Dumpert.nl

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Fwd: Superb: ObamaCare -- When Socialist Theory Meets Practice







http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/08/obamacare_when_socialist_theory_meets_practice.html 

ObamaCare: When Socialist Theory Meets Practice

By Clarice Feldman

America is lucky to have had two great social theorists: Yogi Berra and Richard Feynman. Had the Democrats heeded their words of wisdom when the issue of ObamaCare arose they'd not be sliding down the slippery slope they greased all by themselves.

Yogi's warning is nice and succinct:

"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

Professor Feynman said much the same thing but in a few more words:

"The real question of government versus private enterprise is argued on too philosophical and abstract a basis. Theoretically, planning may be good. But nobody has ever figured out the cause of government stupidity and until they do (and find the cure) all ideal plans will fall into quicksand."

Whichever version you choose, it's clear that Democrat stupidity is at the heart of Obamacare, the entire juggernaut is sliding into quicksand and taking the party down with it as bits of the law become implemented, other bits have been delayed, waived for some buddies, or jettisoned as unworkable by an administration which consistently confuses executive and legislative functions. The Republicans now face a dilemma of how best to save us from the monstrous overreach of this statute without allowing the DeMSM (a coinage expressing the partisan pro-Democrat mass media) to blame them for the onrushing disaster.

A. A Little History

Democrat leaders have been seduced for ages with the socialist medical programs of Europe and (until Obamacare) unsuccessfully tried to duplicate that plan here despite the overwhelming successes of the most advanced medical and pharmaceutical care available in the U.S. and general happiness with the existing system.

This time around the Democrats were helped by the World Health Organization, which produced what Scott W. Atlas at Commentary has indicated may be "The Worst Study Ever?"

The World Health Organization's World Health Report 2000, which ranked the health-care systems of nearly 200 nations, stands as one of the most influential social-science studies in history. For the past decade, it has been the de facto basis for much of the discussion of the health-care system in the United States, routinely cited in public discourse by members of government and policy experts. Its most notorious finding -- that the United States ranked a disastrous 37th out of the world's 191 nations in "overall performance" -- provided supporters of President Barack Obama's transformative health-care legislation with a data-driven argument for swift and drastic reform, particularly in light of the fact that the U.S. spends more on health than any other nation.

[snip]

In fact, World Health Report 2000 was an intellectual fraud of historic consequence -- a profoundly deceptive document that is only marginally a measure of health-care performance at all. The report's true achievement was to rank countries according to their alignment with a specific political and economic ideal -- socialized medicine -- and then claim it was an objective measure of "quality."

WHO researchers divided aspects of health care into subjective categories and tailored the definitions to suit their political aims. They allowed fundamental flaws in methodology, large margins of error in data, and overt bias in data analysis, and then offered conclusions despite enormous gaps in the data they did have. The flaws in the report's approach, flaws that thoroughly undermine the legitimacy of the WHO rankings, have been repeatedly exposed in peer-reviewed literature by academic experts who have examined the study in detail. Their analysis made clear that the study's failings were plain from the outset and remain patently obvious today; but they went unnoticed, unmentioned, and unexamined by many because World Health Report 2000 was so politically useful. This object lesson in the ideological misuse of politicized statistics should serve as a cautionary tale for all policymakers and all lay people who are inclined to accept on faith the results reported in studies by prestigious international bodies.

A careful reading of the report indicates it was largely an endorsement of using health care provisions to redistribute wealth and centralize administrative power in the government; it was not, as touted, a survey of "the quality of health care". After a careful review Atlas concludes:

If World Health Report 2000 had simply been issued and forgotten, it would still be a case study in how to produce a wretched and unreliable piece of social science masquerading as legitimate research. That it served so effectively as a catalyst for unprecedented legislation is evidence of something more disturbing.

[snip]

What we have here is a prime example of the misuse of social science and the conversion of statistics from pseudo-data into propaganda. The basic principle, casually referred to as "garbage in, garbage out," is widely accepted by all researchers as a cautionary dictum. To the authors of World Health Report 2000, it functioned as its opposite -- a method to justify a preconceived agenda. The shame is that so many people, including leaders in whom we must repose our trust and whom we expect to make informed decisions based on the best and most complete data, made such blatant use of its patently false and overtly politicized claims.

To the fraudulent factual foundation for the creation of ObamaCare, the means by which it was enacted was equally outrageous.

Arguing that ObamaCare will prove a disaster for the Democrats, the great Noemie Emery provides a comprehensive but short reminder of how this Rube Goldberg legislation was passed:

Though [Scott] Brown failed to stop the bill's passage, he stopped it from being passed in a form in which its survival was possible. With Brown in the Senate, a conference committee wasn't an option, so the House had to pass the Senate bill as it was.

"What landed on the president's desk was incomplete and unfinished," said Jonathan Adler. "Not all of its parts fit together, complicating implementation and providing greater opportunities for litigation from those who thought the law goes too far."

What else Brown did was make Obama and Democratic congressional leaders force the bill through on a technical loophole that further inflamed the enraged opposition, which waged all-out war in the 2010 midterms, and turned record numbers of state houses red.

As a result, only 16 states are committed to running Obamacare exchanges, a critical fact that may ultimately doom the whole enterprise. If not enough people join the exchanges, the rickety house will collapse.

B. Where we are

Every day that passes the public learns more of the unsavory aspects and high costs of this misbegotten legislation, and when the administration isn't waiving its application to its donors and cronies, it is delaying yet another feature of it.

At Forbes, Avik Roy's been documenting the backstroking:

In recent months, President Obama and his subordinates have waived or delayed a number of Obamacare's notable features, such as the law's employer mandate, and its procedures for protecting taxpayers from fraud and identity theft. Earlier this month, in that context, I obtained a heretofore-unpublished memorandum from the Congressional Research Service. The CRS, Congress' non-partisan in-house think tank, compiled 82 deadlines that the Affordable Care Act mandates upon the first three years of its own implementation. Remarkably, it turns out that the White House has missed half of the deadlines legally required by the ACA. And some of those deadlines remain unmet to this day.

He has noted that although, as usual, the administration is trying to shift the blame to its political opponents, the blue states are having the most problems meeting the law's requirements. (It's interesting isn't it, that polities that prefer centralized, heavy regulating administrations tend to be the most bureaucratically inept?)

What is proceeding are "exchanges" and hiring of "navigators" all of which look like Chicago-style payoffs to supporters and the institution of which provide reasonable fears of total erosion of personal privacy in this country.

My friend Rick Ballard describes the "exchanges" being set up in particularly colorful, but accurate terms:

OFA "navigators" explain the toothless nature of [Obama]care penalties and pitch declaring income slightly above poverty level in order to maximize the subsidy. They also steer "clients" to Friends of [Obamacare} exchanges and quite possibly front the initial policy payment. The Friend of [Obamacare] exchanges markup premiums way above the actual cost to reinsure, collect the government subsidy, and pocket the difference.

These navigators, by the way, will have access to your most personal information and are not receiving even a Manning-Snowden type security check. Life Site News has more on this scam in the making:

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 21, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com).

The Obama administration has awarded Planned Parenthood more than $655,000 of taxpayer funds to hire "navigators" for the president's health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). State affiliates in Iowa, Montana and New Hampshire were among the 105 organizations receiving $67 million in federal grants.

HHS will not require background checks or fingerprinting of employees, and a previous criminal conviction -- including one for identity theft -- does not necessarily disqualify an employee from becoming a navigator.

Navigators and their assistants will have access to the federal data hub, an online nexus containing information from the Department of Health and Human Services and seven federal departments: the IRS, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Defense Department, the Office of Personnel Management, the Veterans Health Administration, and the Peace Corps. [Emphasis supplied.]

Here's a more detailed picture of what promises to be the next Solyndra type ripoff of the federal purse.

The problem with a 90-day grace period for premium payment is that at the end of it you must pay for three months of premiums, when you couldn't afford to pay one month in the first place. A lot of people won't be able to do that, but meanwhile they have been running around with an insurance card receiving health services.

What then? Who is on the hook for those services? HHS has decided to split the baby. The insurance company will have to pay for the first month of non-coverage, but providers (doctors and hospitals) will have to absorb the costs incurred for the second two months. That could be a whole lot of money. The (formerly) insured person will be canceled after three months, but they get to re-enroll again at the end of the year without penalty. (And we were told one of the purposes of this law was to solve the "free-rider" problem. Oh, well.)

Along with paying for services during the first month of the delinquency, the insurer must: 1) notify HHS of the non-payment; 2) notify providers of the possibility of denied claims during the second and third months; 3) notify the insured that he/she is delinquent; 4) continue to collect the advanced tax credit on behalf of the policyholder; 5) return the tax credit for the second and third month to the Treasury; 6) issue a termination notice to the insured at the end of the grace period. Oh, and the carrier must also determine whether the insured has a disability as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act, and make "reasonable accommodations" for such individuals. These are pretty substantial administrative burdens, and the costs will aggravate the Minimum Loss Ratio requirement for the carrier.

So, how many people do you suppose will do this? I would wager just about everybody. Why not? You can get 12 months of coverage for nine months of premiums and suffer absolutely no penalty.

Government Home Enforcers, too. In case the "navigators" provision isn't making you concerned for the safety of your accounts and angry enough at the predictable ripoffs, here'sa report on the HHS enforcers. HHS is paying $224 million to check up on you and your home environment:

If you're already queasy about the role played by the IRS in assuring your compliance with Obamacare's numerous mandates, you may need to lie down after reading this column. It turns out that our Beltway masters are not content with their new authority to peruse your tax returns and medical records. They will also authorize state agencies throughout the nation to send government inspectors to your house if a "home visit" is deemed appropriate pursuant to HHS guidelines ostensibly meant to "create social and physical environments that promote good health for all."

According to the title page of the document announcing this program, HHS has the authority to fund such visits by virtue of the Social Security Act "as amended by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [Obamacare]." It describes this metastasis of HHS power as "an unprecedented opportunity ... to improve health and development outcomes for at-risk children." But the program also provides unprecedented opportunities for violations of your privacy, your right to educate your kids as you see fit as well as your Constitutional rights under the Second and Fourth Amendments.

The Chicago Tribune, which twice endorsed Obama for President (and in two earlier races worked with his campaign offices to get his opponents' sealed court documents unsealed) is begging to have this law delayed and rewritten:

Chicago Tribune: How President Obama is flouting Obamacare: More reasons to delay and rewrite this ill-conceived law. "Granted, any president may decline to enforce statutes he believes are unconstitutional. But Obama is making no such claim here. Basically, he is admitting that parts of law are impossible to enforce on the deadlines imposed by Congress -- deadlines he signed into law. He's also admitting he doesn't want to have Congress make these changes, for fear that if lawmakers get their mitts on this unpopular program, they would at least debate far more extensive changes than he'd like."

C. Should Congress Step in and How?

Noemie Emery argues persuasively that implementation of Obamacare will prove disastrous for the Democrats:

Nothing will influence 2014 (and 2016) nearly as much as the implosion of Obamacare, which so far has been messy and will become even worse.

Demographic allegiances aren't always stable, parties cannot re-brand themselves in a vacuum, and the current contenders will be judged, not for who they appear to be today but on who they become in the next three years.

[snip]

The time has long passed when Obamacare could be called a success; what remains to be seen is the size and the scope of the chaos it brings; and what this will do to its party of origin.

No man is an island, and no island is detached enough to be immune from this wreckage, if only through the harm it has done the economy. Ask not for whom this bill tolls, all of you Democrats. This bill tolls for thee.

The problem is it is equally disastrous for the rest of us, too.

Should the Republicans sit on their hands and let this misbegotten law crash on the shoals and take down the party that wrote and enacted it? Or should they defund it or delay its implementation?

Can they Defund it?

Some have argued that the Republican-controlled House cannot defund the law without causing a shutdown for which they'll be blamed.

Heritage argues they can and should defund it 

Myth #1: Congress cannot defund Obamacare.

Congress defunds mandatory spending on appropriations bills every year. In fact, it has even defunded part of Obamacare already -- billions of dollars in "mandatory spending" for the co-op program [2].

Myth #2: Obamacare opponents are trying to shut down the government.

This isn't true, either.

As Heritage health care expert Chris Jacobs says in the video above, "Conservatives want to keep the federal government open -- we just want to shut down Obamacare."

Legal expert Hans von Spakovsky explains how this could be done [4]. Funding the federal government -- with the exception of Obamacare -- "would force the President and his supporters to explain why they would shut down the government to fund [4] an unfair, unaffordable, and highly unpopular law that is so unworkable that the Administration has itself admitted it cannot manage to implement major portions on time such as the employer mandate to provide insurance."

Then there's what's been called "the Delay Coalition".

Kimberley Strassel at the Wall Street Journal finds much to favor this approach, at least if defunding fails.

Whereas shutdown would prove a complex and messy PR job, the public is already highly educated on the big ObamaCare issues. A majority opposes provisions like the individual mandate, and is worried by the exchanges. The president's own delays have handed Republicans powerful messaging tools. They can enlist the public to pressure Democrats to grant individuals the same mandate reprieve Mr. Obama has gifted to business, and to delay exchanges that lack the verification and security procedures necessary to protect taxpayers and confidential information.

Delay proponents maintain this strategy answers the "last chance" question. A one-year delay would kick these provisions to the heat of the 2014 midterms, a point at which Democrats will be more loath to continue. It provides Republicans the opportunity to make 2014 another referendum on ObamaCare, furthering their cause of holding the House and retaking the Senate -- at which point they'd be far better positioned to dismantle the law. A government shutdown would only hurt their election prospects.[snip]

There's an internal debate over whether Republicans should push for a delay of the entire law, or isolated pieces. And there's disagreement over tactics, emphasis and the chances of success. All of which is healthy.

Most of the signatories to the Delay coalition letter are also on record supporting a House vote to defund ObamaCare. They, too, advocate putting the heat on the left. But they argue that, if and when a defund bill fails to proceed in Harry Reid's Senate, Republicans need a savvy and proactive alternative to shutdown, one that has a chance of success.

I don't know what the answer to the defund or delay dilemma will be. Maybe Yogi 's admonition is all we can say right now: 

" It ain't over 'til it's over "

 



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Fwd: How We Killed Privacy -- in 4 Easy Steps








 

How We Killed Privacy -- in 4 Easy Steps Stop blaming the NSA. We did this to ourselves.

BY DAVEED GARTENSTEIN-ROSS AND KELSEY D. ATHERTON | AUGUST 23, 2013

 

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/08/23/how_we_killed_privacy_nsa_surveillance?print=yes&hidecomments=yes&page=full

 

Privacy in 2013 does not exist as we knew it in 2000.

 

But don't be fooled: The almost complete erosion of what we would have considered our private spaces at the beginning of this millennium is not entirely -- nor even mainly -- a result of the National Security Agency's surveillance. While nobody should doubt that the government's electronic spying is intrusive, we largely let online privacy slip away without any assistance from security agencies. Each step along the way was, for the most part, understandable and reasonable rather than nefarious. But the fact is that privacy in the United States is not what it used to be, and until we realize that, our debate about electronic privacy -- Manichean as it is, and focused almost exclusively on the relationship between the government and its citizens -- will fail to resurrect its value.

 

Four distinct factors have interacted to kill electronic privacy: a legal framework that has remained largely static since the 1970s, significant changes in our use of rapidly evolving technology, commercial providers'

increasingly intrusive tracking of our every online habit, and a growth in non-state threats that has made governments the world over obsess about uncovering these dangers. Only by understanding the interaction between these factors can we begin the necessary discussion about what privacy means in the 21st century -- and how to forge a new social compact to address the issue.

 

Our Decades-Old Privacy Laws

 

While technology has massively evolved since 1979, the laws governing electronic privacy have not. Two legal frameworks, both forged in the 1970s, have fundamentally shaped our understanding of electronic privacy.

 

One of these frameworks is statutory. Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is at the heart of so much current political debate, in 1978 to govern the collection of intelligence aimed at foreign powers. Although the Act has undergone multiple amendments, its language has remained eminently recognizable to lawyers active in the late 1970s.

 

The other legal framework is a 1979 Supreme Court case, Smith v. Maryland, which addressed whether the State of Maryland required a warrant to install a pen register (which would record telephone numbers called, but not the contents of those calls) on a suspect's home phone. The Court held in Maryland's favor, finding that though the actual contents of a call were protected by the Fourth Amendment, and thus were subject to its warrant requirement, information about the call -- like the number being dialed -- was not protected. This is because the Fourth Amendment only applies when the government's actions intrude upon what might be considered a reasonable expectation of privacy. The Court found that no reasonable expectation of privacy existed for the numbers a person dials: all phone users were aware that they conveyed this information to a third party, "since it is through telephone company switching equipment that their calls are completed."

Further, the court noted that all phone users realize "that the phone company has facilities for making permanent records of the numbers they dial," since they see this information in their monthly long-distance bills.

 

In other words, when a third party is able to see what a person is doing in an electronic environment, no reasonable expectation of privacy exists. And one can draw a number of conclusions about the legal precedent Smith sets.

 

One conclusion is that the NSA's metadata collection appears legal. Every call that is part of this collection has, like the calls at the heart of Smith, been transmitted to a third-party commercial provider. Whether or not one thinks the law should protect metadata, Smith sets the precedent that it likely does not.

 

A second conclusion is more disturbing, given the role technology plays in our lives: our use of the Internet probably enjoys no constitutional protection. The Internet is designed to connect an individual to other parties, and most emails, Internet chats, or web browsing is routed through multiple servers. All Internet users are aware that their online activities are conveyed to a third party, which suggests there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, and no Fourth Amendment protection. (There are, however, some statutory protections, such as the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.)

 

And a third conclusion is that existing laws are intensely focused on privacy from the government, not privacy from non-governmental entities, be they corporations or other citizens. This focus on the government is unsurprising, since the Bill of Rights is meant to constrain the government's powers over its citizens. But, as explained, these non-governmental entities have also become the very reason that our metadata and online activities do not enjoy constitutional protection from the government.

 

The manner in which we use technology, and hence what we consider private, has changed significantly since 1979. From a court's perspective, however, this is a distinction without a difference: unless the Supreme Court alters Smith's holding or a statute grants greater protection to call data and online activities, information that is transmitted to third parties no longer has a reasonable expectation of privacy, and therefore does not enjoy Fourth Amendment protections. But beyond the legal perspective, the changes that have occurred in the way we use technology should matter to us.

 

Our Evolving Use of Technology

 

Privacy has long been an unsettled concept. As Frederick S. Lane explains in American Privacy: The 400-Year History of Our Most Contested Right, it was "at best a sometime thing in seventeenth and eighteenth-century America,"

but was by no means non-existent. The concept of privacy underwent continual evolution, including important legal changes, through the middle of the 20th century. One of the most noteworthy legal developments was the 1965 Supreme Court decision Griswold v. Connecticut, which held for the first time that the Constitution provided a free-standing right of privacy. Griswold would give birth to several controversial progeny, including Roe v. Wade, which held that the constitutional right to privacy included abortion rights.

 

By the end of the 20th century, while privacy remained unsettled in important ways, it was expanding rather than shrinking. In 2000, the Supreme Court held that the right to privacy precluded state bans on partial-birth abortions, and in 2003 it struck down a Texas law that criminalized consensual oral and anal sex by gay couples. These decisions were consonant with what in 2000 was seen as a fairly stable and expanding conception of privacy. American observers and the legal system paid little attention as technological developments and accompanying changes in the way we relate to technology upended that conception.

 

The Internet only gained one million users worldwide in 1998, the same year Google was founded. Email was widely used in the United States by 2000, but did not enjoy the same degree of penetration worldwide, and Google's Gmail service wouldn't launch for another four years. Internet penetration was still undergoing rapid growth; by 2005, the Internet boasted one billion users.

 

Social media evolved markedly in this period. LiveJournal and Blogger launched in 1999, at a time when the word blog still hadn't become common parlance. The once-popular MySpace launched in 2003, followed by Facebook (which enjoyed more staying power) in 2004. These services introduced two innovations. First, they made it possible to map users' social networks in ways that the users didn't comprehend. Second, MySpace and Facebook encouraged frequent status updates rather than the longer entries that characterized previous services like Blogger. Posting became more impulsive, and -- particularly as methods of data analysis advanced -- users divulged much more about themselves than they knew. By 2013, for example, researchers found that by relying only on users' Facebook "likes," they could discern who was gay, and how users voted in elections.

 

As people increasingly lived their lives online, they divulged more and more intimate details about themselves, sometimes without realizing that they were doing so. Unfortunately for traditional conceptions of privacy, commercial providers' capacity to track every movement of users' digital lives was also growing.

 

Our Consent to Being Tracked Online

 

Internet law specialist Joanna Kulesza recently noted in the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review that while Europeans see protection of personal data as a human right (yet struggle with how to protect it), Americans perceive personal data "primarily as a commercial commodity."

 

There are several ways that commercial providers track user activity. Social networks require tracking in order to function: a server has to authenticate a password in order to return user requests. Cookies are placed in a browser by a website to remember this information, so that, for example, a Facebook user doesn't have to re-enter his password with every click to a different page on the site. Cookies make the social Internet work; they're a compromise between privacy and utility that is accepted with every single login.

 

But cookies don't just remember passwords. Once a user has picked up cookies on a website, those cookies can follow the user's activity across the web, potentially recording information entered into different web pages and building a profile of the user. As the Germany-based academic André Pomp explains in a paper on tracking Internet users, "if a user visits a computer website first, then a social network website containing name and age and finally a diving website, a cross-site tracker, that is included on all three websites, could be able to create a single profile for this user."

 

Cookies are just one method of tracking. As Pomp writes, in a typical visit to the Internet, a user will encounter "hundreds of different trackers trying to track users by collecting their data." He notes a recent study in which researchers, by visiting Alexa's top 500 domains and clicking on four random links on each site, stumbled upon 7,264 trackers. Online tracking by commercial entities is pervasive, a fact of online life.

 

Those who are best at tracking you have the most to gain commercially.

Facebook may know your sexual orientation, but Google knows even more about you. As the Wall Street Journal has noted, "the breadth of Google's information gathering about Internet users rivals that of any single entity, government or corporate." It is helped in this endeavor by the fact that, as CNN reports, Google on average "accounts for about 25 percent of all consumer internet traffic running through North American ISPs."

 

Our cell phones can also reveal where we are at all times. Smartphones are equipped with GPS systems, and even with the GPS turned off, connecting to a cell tower still provides an approximation of a person's location. A study by MIT reveals that, with just four proximate locations, it's possible to identify an individual with 95-percent accuracy.

 

There are advantages to treating personal data as a commodity. Companies can provide remarkable services at no cost to the user. Google, Facebook, and similar companies could certainly command subscription fees if they chose that route, but the fact is that the companies make more money by getting to know their users -- understanding their interests, their aspirations, their likes and dislikes -- than they would by charging users twenty or thirty dollars a year. It's understandable that these companies would treat user data as a commodity, and no doubt many users would willingly sacrifice privacy for top-quality free services.

 

There are also disadvantages. When we think about the information we are disclosing, and the methods of data analysis now available, we are apt to grow uncomfortable with what these companies know about us -- our social networks, sexual predilections, voting preferences, and much more - and how they're sharing this information.

 

Our Response to Terrorism

 

Just as commercial providers have responded to market incentives, the NSA has responded to the incentives provided to it in a world of growing transnational threats. The threat of a terrorist attack is real, not a chimera, and the NSA after 9/11 was charged with sifting through electronic data to shake out the dangers. To accomplish this, the agency wanted a lot of data. As Deputy Attorney General James Cole has said, "If you're looking for the needle in a haystack, you have to have the haystack." This is not to say that we should accept the NSA's programs as they are -- hard questions have been raised about its broad collection of metadata and its internal safeguards against privacy violations -- but the present debate has taken on a Manichean quality in which the NSA is often portrayed as rapacious. It is in fact aggressively pursuing the mission with which it was charged -- of trying to prevent another attack on the homeland.

 

The NSA also undertook its surveillance efforts at a time when the meaning of privacy was shedding its old meaning due to the migration of our lives online, into an environment where --unlike in the offline world -- we are being constantly tracked and monitored, and everything we do is remembered.

 

***

 

So what does privacy mean now? The answer isn't entirely clear; but what is clear is that we need to have the right kind of discussion about it. Perhaps a good place to start is asking whether lawmakers should limit commercial entities' ability to retain user data indefinitely.

 

There is, of course, good reason for these entities to be able to track users. User data gives them a source of revenue, and they invested in their services with the expectation that their ability to profit from these services will continue. We are not arguing that the government should constrain the ability of these companies to generate revenue, but is very old data really essential -- or even relevant -- to their business efforts?

Do commercial entities really need to know what websites you visited, and who you sent instant messages to, and the location of your cell phone, eight or ten years ago in order to understand your consumer preferences today? The government could require these entities to purge all digital user data (including messages sent, websites visited, records of individuals called, and geolocations) that is more than, say, five or seven years old if a) the user has tried to get rid of it by, for example, deleting the information; and b) there is no independent reason, such as ongoing litigation or national-security concerns, to retain it.

 

This would be an admittedly small step, but one in the right direction that could help kickstart a badly needed conversation on privacy. Contrary to the absolutist claims that have dominated the public debate on the issue, there is a complex balancing act at play. It involves not only liberty and security, but also commerce rights, Internet users' appetite for free and convenient services, and the desire for privacy not only from one's government but also one's neighbors. The right kind of privacy conversation would recognize this.

 

But given the way the surveillance debate has been proceeding so far -- focused exclusively on the government, lacking a concrete conception of what privacy means today, and framed in harsh Manichean terms -- we're unlikely to get there.

 



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Fwd: [New post] FLORIDA: Councilman warns of eardrum shattering, skin-crawling, “wailing” Muslim Call to Prayer if proposed plan for a mosque is approved





BareNakedIslam posted: "Clermont City Council member Ray Goodgame told supporters that Islamic group's plans to build a mosque in south Lake County is "bad news" and warned of "wailing music" if the mosque becomes a reality. The Islamic Center of Clermont, which had tried, but f"

New post on BARE NAKED ISLAM

FLORIDA: Councilman warns of eardrum shattering, skin-crawling, "wailing" Muslim Call to Prayer if proposed plan for a mosque is approved

by BareNakedIslam

Clermont City Council member Ray Goodgame told supporters that Islamic group's plans to build a mosque in south Lake County is "bad news" and warned of "wailing music" if the mosque becomes a reality. The Islamic Center of Clermont, which had tried, but failed, to get planning approval for an Islamic center last year, is at it […]

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BareNakedIslam | August 25, 2013 at 2:03 pm | URL: http://wp.me/p276zM-Xlt

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Fwd: Top lawmakers call for military response in Syria









No.  It is a very stupid idea by ignorant politicians.

 

B

Aug 25, 9:54 AM EDT

 

Top lawmakers call for military response in Syria

By KIMBERLY DOZIER
AP Intelligence Writer

Virginian Pilot

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two top lawmakers are calling for an immediate U.S. military response to the Syria's suspected chemical weapons attack that killed at least a hundred civilians last week.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker is calling for the U.S. to respond in a "surgical and proportional way, something that gets their attention." The Tennessee lawmaker says such a response should not involve U.S. troops on the ground, however.

Democrat Rep. Eliot Engel of New York says the U.S. must respond "quickly," together with NATO allies, possibly using cruise missile strikes, as the U.S. and NATO did in Libya.

A senior administration official said Sunday there is "very little doubt" a chemical weapon was used, but added the president had not yet decided how to respond.

Corker and Engel appeared on "Fox News Sunday."

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE.

A senior administration official said Sunday there is "very little doubt" that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in an incident that killed at least 100 people last week, but added that the president had not yet decided how to respond.

The official said the U.S. intelligence community based its assessment given to the White House on "the reported number of victims, reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured," and witness accounts. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly.

The official said the White House believes the Syrian government is continuing to bar a U.N. investigative team immediate access to the site of a reported Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs, in order to give the evidence of the attack time to degrade.

The official said the regime's continuing shelling of the site also further corrupts any available evidence of the attack.

Last Wednesday's purported chemical attack in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta has prompted U.S. naval forces to move closer to Syria. President Barack Obama met with his national security team Saturday to assess the intelligence and consider a U.S. military response, almost a year after warning the regime of Bashar Asad that chemical weapons use was a "red line" for the U.S.

The White House had concluded previously that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons in limited incidents, but last week's attack is suspected of being the deadliest single incident of a civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people since March 2011.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Thursday that a chemical attack "appears to be what happened."

The White House has approved limited lethal aid to Syrian rebels, but has limited weapons to mostly small arms and training. Obama described the factors limiting greater U.S. involvement in a CNN interview.

"If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it - do we have the coalition to make it work?" Obama said in the interview broadcast Friday. "Those are considerations that we have to take into account."

Hagel offered no hints Sunday about likely U.S. response to Syria's purported use of chemical weapons, telling reporters traveling with him in Malaysia that the Obama administration was still assessing intelligence information about the deadly attack.

"When we have more information, that answer will become clear," he said when a reporter asked whether it was a matter of when, not if, the U.S. will take military action against Syria.

Asked about U.S. military options on Syria, Hagel spoke in broad terms about the factors Obama is weighing.

"There are risks and consequences for any option that would be used or not used - for action or inaction," he told reporters. "You have to come to the central point of what would be the objective if you are to pursue an action or not pursue an action. So all those assessments are being made."

If the U.S. wants to send a message to Assad, defense officials have previously indicated the most likely military action would be a Tomahawk missile strike, launched from a ship in the Mediterranean.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a letter to a congressman last week that the administration opposes even limited action in Syria because it believes rebels fighting the Assad government wouldn't support American interests if they seized power. He said while the U.S. military could take out Assad's air force and shift the balance of the war toward the armed opposition, but that it's unclear where the strategy would go from there.

Dempsey is now in Amman, Jordan, set to meet with Arab and Western peers later Sunday to discuss ways to bolster the security of Syria's neighbors against possible attacks, chemical or other, by Assad's regime, a Jordanian security official said.

The meeting, closed to the press and held at an unspecified location, gathers chiefs of staff from Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan, the official said on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to brief reporters.



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Fwd: [New post] CHICAGO: Sparks fly at Muslim-led forum promoting Sharia after Americans demand that the Pledge of Allegiance be recited





BareNakedIslam posted: "What Orland Park library had promoted as an educational forum this week on Muslim life in America quickly turned into a contentious debate about Islam. The tone for this event was set while the 3 Muslim panelists were introducing themselves. In the first "

New post on BARE NAKED ISLAM

CHICAGO: Sparks fly at Muslim-led forum promoting Sharia after Americans demand that the Pledge of Allegiance be recited

by BareNakedIslam

What Orland Park library had promoted as an educational forum this week on Muslim life in America quickly turned into a contentious debate about Islam. The tone for this event was set while the 3 Muslim panelists were introducing themselves. In the first of many interruptions, several audience members stood up and demanded that everyone recite […]

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BareNakedIslam | August 25, 2013 at 1:24 pm | URL: http://wp.me/p276zM-Xl0

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