This has been an interesting month for the future of the NSA’s bulk collection of metadata. Near the beginning of the month, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled “The text of (Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act) cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and … does not authorize the telephone metadata program.” However, the Court did not order the program to be halted citing the June 1 expiration date. However, the Congress would not allow an illegal spying program to go away without a fight. see more…
The internet economy offers a lot, but it has also taken some things away. This video takes a look at the pros and cons.
When the Islamic State took Mosul in June of last year, shock was the appropriate response. If you hadn’t been following the situation they really did seem to come out of nowhere. Unfortunately, the people who were supposed to be following the situation were just as shocked. The United States government, having spent 11 years as the most powerful force in the region, and having spent billions of dollars of our money to gather intelligence, missed this development just as completely as the general public did.
The Islamic State’s marketing prowess accomplished something that few people thought was possible. It focused the world’s attention on the on-going crisis in Iraq and Syria. The problems of the region, and the plausible solution (in Iraq at least) are now clear to anybody who has an internet connection and basic literacy. This apparently does not include the US “Intelligence” community or the policy planners at the US government. Their response to the threat of the Islamic State is perfectly contradictory. It’s dumb enough to almost make me believe in conspiracy theories.
The Islamic State’s expansion in Iraq was made possible by the oppression of Iraq’s Sunni minority by the Shia dominated Iraqi government. The US response has been to use billions more dollars and a comprehensive bombing campaign, to support that Shia government. The fall of further Sunni dominated cities was the easiest thing in the world to predict.
Yesterday, Ramadi, a predominantly Sunni city, fell to the Islamic State. Any “expert” professing to be surprised by this is either no expert, or a liar.
I make videos on politics for a living, but I don’t see the point of making any further ones to respond to this completely predictable development. Two videos that I made months ago do a decent enough job explaining the problem and laying out the solution.
1. The Problem:
This video lays out the simple reasons why US bombing is exactly what the Islamic State wants.
2. The Solution:
Iraq is no longer a country. The sooner we acknowledge that fact the sooner we can bring this issue to a close. If we continue on our current path nothing will improve. A new Sunni state in Iraq will quickly throw off the Islamic State, leaving it as a much less powerful player in the Syrian civil war. This video lays out why Iraq is dead.
The Fall of Mosul was Shocking. The Fall of Ramadi is just frustrating. I apologize if the tone of this blog post is rude, but the US government’s continued refusal to accept basic reality makes me deeply angry.
You can find more videos like this at our youtube channel.
The small city of Kumanovo, Macedonia was the site of a running battle between police and Albanian nationalists last weekend. The US media can’t find a recognizable enemy so no one cares. They should. It tells us a lot about what happens when Empires fall. This video attempts to address that gap…
Or rather one network. Our federal government is built to share power across different networks across the country. That’s beginning to break down. This video tells the story…
It’s like clockwork. Every time some government approved thug kills another unarmed black man, some media figure, abetted by a horde of twitter morons, starts talking about “Black on Black Crime”. The problem with this is that it is an utter fantasy. No matter how many times you explain this to people, it keeps cropping up. This video is an attempt to shut that down.
For the last several years US government has not only attempted to cover-up the death toll of drone strikes, but often has no idea who is being killed. This may not come as a surprise to some, given that NBC News reported in 2013 that, “[a]bout one of every four of those killed by drones in Pakistan between Sept. 3, 2010, and Oct. 30, 2011, were classified as ‘other militants’… The ‘other militants’ label was used when the CIA could not determine the affiliation of those killed.” That figure does not include those killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, or any other country in which the US military, or CIA might feel the urge to kill people with unmanned aircraft. see more…
The 2016 Presidential election is still about 18 months away, yet the debates are becoming subject to debate. This is due partly to the proposed lawsuit by the Our America Initiative against the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), the early start of the 2016 campaign season, and an announcement by the CPD that the Commission will seek input “on various elements of the debates, including the criteria used to determine who will be invited to debate, what formats will be used, and ways to enhance these civic forums.”
The first question to ask is: who is the CPD, and why do they control the Presidential debates? see more…
There have been several recent scandals involving the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Secret Service. While these agencies are not directly connected at times they do work together. For instance, the DEA and Secret Service were working together to investigate the Silk Road, and one agent from each department was arrested and charged with wire fraud and money laundering related to their malfeasance in the investigation. see more…
In the last 7 months there have been 7 people exonerated from death row who had been incarcerated for at least 25 years.
- In September 2014, Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, brothers, were freed after 30 years because of evidence uncovered by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission. the Death Penalty Information Center reports, “both men are intellectually disabled – McCollum has an IQ in the 60s and Brown has scored as low as 49 on IQ tests. They have maintained their innocence since their trial, saying they were unaware they were signing a confession.”
- In November 2014, Ricky Jackson, Wiley Bridgeman, and Kwame Ajamu were exonerated 39 years after their convictions, after the lone witness in their case recanted and said that he did not in fact witness the crime; there was no other evidence linking the three men to the murder.
- In March 2015, Debra Milke had all charges from her 1990 conviction dismissed as a result of “egregious” police and prosecutorial misconduct.
- In April 2015, Anthony Hinton had the charges against him for 2 murders committed in 1985 dismissed after experts said they could not link the bullets to a gun found in his home when he was arrested.
I rarely discuss religious topics, however there are times when it must be done. The Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, recently signed a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” into law in the Hoosier State.
Some people say the law will open the door to discrimination, such as allowing a baker or florist from providing service to a gay couple seeking a cake or flowers for their wedding, or allowing a pharmacist to refuse to fill a prescription for birth control.
Supporters of the new law, including Pence, disagree.
Pence said, “this law is not about discrimination. If it was, I would have vetoed it.”
However, he has not explained how the bill does not allow discrimination, or even how the bill does allow one to exercise their religious freedom. see more…
We spend a lot of time looking at the section of national income that goes to the top 1%. That’s interesting, but the fact that the 1% pays a much larger share of tax is a lot more significant. Washington, DC doesn’t want to attack “Too big to fail” banks because their taxes pay bureaucrats’ salaries…
For the second consecutive year, Edward Snowden appeared at South by South West in Austin, Texas, and once again, he was not able to attend in person.
Snowden, again, appeared via internet stream, this time to a select group of people from the technology and policy world.
The Verge reports, “Sunday Yokubaitis, president of online privacy company Golden Frog, described as a ‘call to arms’ for tech companies to foil spying with better privacy tools.”
Adding that “Snowden said that as policy reform lagged, companies should adopt more secure technology that could block surveillance altogether or make it too difficult to pursue en masse. A big focus was end-to-end encryption, which would mean no one (including companies) could see the contents of communications except the sender and recipient.”
One topic not discussed was in regards to the former NSA contractor: the possibility of a fair trial. see more…
During the 2015 NH Liberty Forum, the NH Liberty Party held its third annual convention.
The NH Liberty Party is an avowed pro-secessionist party with a 5 plank platform that can not be changed “except by 100% of voting members at the annual convention.” Of course, secession is only 1 plank in the platform, with the party also taking a staunch libertarian position on Self-determination, Non-aggression, Crime, and Voluntary Interaction.
The reason for these libertarian planks, according to Ian Freeman, party co-founder and co-chair, is to exclude the bigots and xenophobes who may wish to seceded to then implement their bigotry.
Many people who advocate for secession will not use the word, seeing it as a third rail, of sorts. see more…
The Salvation Army launched a campaign today on the back of the blue/black and gold/white dress. My feeds asplode.
In response — and not to diminish the rights of women, but rather to elevate the rights of everyone — we present the Hammer of Truth edit:
Less words, more truth.
In late February, the Colorado Department of Revenue Marijuana Enforcement Division released a reports stating, “On December 31, 2014, Colorado concluded a full twelve months of lawful retail marijuana sales to adults over 21 years of age. The State experienced many firsts, such as the implementation of the first-in-the-world comprehensive regulatory model overseeing cultivation, products manufacturing, and sale of marijuana for non-medical retail use.” see more…
Many Republican lawmakers are digging in their heels in the fight to defund implementation of what they see as an executive overreach by President Obama. They’re so entrenched in their position that they’re acting as though they’ll allow the Department of Homeland Security budget to not be adopted. Which in reality wouldn’t have much impact on DHS activities, as approximately 200,000 of the 230,000 DHS employees are considered essential. The Chicago Tribune reports, “Most training, hiring, research and purchasing would be suspended. Border security, disaster relief and cybersecurity programs would continue uninterrupted.” In other words, nothing will really change, except that “essential” DHS employees will work without a paycheck until a budget is adopted. see more…
After nearly four years of delay, the FAA is poised to release regulations for the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS/drone). A document, that could be a draft of the proposed regulations, was spotted on a federal website on Friday by a drone user and downloaded before being removed from the website, according to the Wall Street Journalhost. Forbes reports, “The document is dated February 2015 and is captioned ‘Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Regulatory Evaluation, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems’ authored by George Thurston of the Office of Aviation Policy and Plans, Economic Analysis Division. But, it’s possible this is a leaked early draft that has since been revised or is otherwise incomplete or inaccurate.” see more…
The prosecution of Barrett Brown, which seemed to go under the radar of the mainstream media, is one of the most important cases of my lifetime, and has taught us several important things.
There is no Freedom of the Press:
Barrett Brown is an investigative journalist and had been a contributor to Vanity Fair and The Guardian. He also founded Project PM, a project to crowdsource review of documents for investigative journalism.
EFF reports, “Brown’s legal trouble began in 2011, when hackers obtained a voluminous set of emails from government contractor HBGary and placed them on the Internet. He turned to crowdsourcing to review records and emails taken from another government contractor, Stratfor, after hackers broke into their servers later in 2011. Those records included millions of emails discussing opportunities for rendition and assassination, and detailing attempts to subvert journalists, political groups and even foreign leaders. They also included tens of thousands of credit card numbers and their verification codes.” see more…