Tag Archives | United States

Stop Giving Airtime to Crackpots

Here in America, there’s whole political ideologies consisting of crackpots and media pundits whose bread and butter is wingnuttery.

via Slate

English: "The removal of the cracked melt...

“The removal of the cracked melting pot” (1884), painting by Constantin Meunier (1831-1905) Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels, Belgium (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (CC)

In very welcome news, BBC journalists have been told to stop inviting crackpots on news shows in the name of balance.

Oh, I do so love this. It’s precisely the right thing to do, sorely needed and sorely overdue. In this specific case, back in 2012 the BBC was criticized for news shows inviting on people with fringe views, especially when the science being discussed was solidly understood.

Obviously, the topic most abused in this way was the reality of global warming. That should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying any attention at all.

But more broadly, most TV news shows do this, especially when they are done with a talk show format.

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A New Privacy Deal is in the Works Between US & EU

Flags_of_European_UnionRelations are somewhat tense between the European Union and the United States after the US was caught spying on EU countries. The Obama administration is now trying to quell any mistrust with a new privacy deal.

European Union citizens who have experienced breaches in their online privacy at the hands of state authorities while in the U.S. could be protected by American laws, under plans announced on Wednesday.

In a move that paves the way for a key data protection deal between the two governments, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama administration is looking to extend the guarantees made under the country’s Privacy Act to EU citizens. Currently, Europeans are not protected under this law, which allows U.S. citizens to see and correct records about themselves and challenge the misuse of the information.

‘Legislative action by the U.S. Congress establishing enforceable judicial redress rights for Europeans in the U.S.

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Pope Francis: Pets Can’t Substitute For Kids In A Relationship

Crazy CatCiting birth rate statistics in Italy and the United States, Pope Francis stated on June 2nd that couples who forgo child rearing to own pets are dooming themselves to an old age of loneliness.  [I know I've wanted to scream out the window at couples walking dogs "make babies, you losers!"]

Indeed birth rates across the Western world have fallen steadily over the past few hundred years , but especially in recent times, to far below replacement levels.  In the USA they have been falling more and more slowly since the “end” of the financial crisis, but remain relatively abysmal.

More, via The Salt Lake Tribune:

“It might be better — more comfortable — to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog. Is this true or not? Have you seen it?”  Stated the pontificate, ““You can go explore the world, go on vacation, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be carefree,”

“Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness ”

Francis  said without qualification that Jesus Christ would not approve of childless marriages.  “There are things that Jesus doesn’t like — [couples] who don’t want children, who want to be without fruitfulness.”

“Married life must be persevering, because otherwise love cannot go forward,” Francis said.

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Chicago Just Convicted A Thief Using Facial Recognition Technology

Now that the general public knows that they are being watched, may as well reinforce that with confirmation. No need to worry, right? You’ve done nothing wrong.

English: Different Types of Cctv Cameras

Different Types of Cctv Cameras (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

via Vocativ

For years, we’ve been hearing about how facial recognition software will help solve crime.

Privacy concerns aside, this is the idea: If a criminal is caught committing an offense on surveillance footage, the technology could theoretically scan the person’s face and produce a positive ID based on mug shots or DMV photos.

The problem is, the software kind of sucks, partially because surveillance footage is so grainy. This was one of the many subplots that unfolded in the wake of the Boston marathon bombing.

But the technology is getting smarter.

In Chicago, the tech was used—for the first time in the city’s history—to find a crook and lock him up in prison.

Pierre D. Martin, 35, was a small-time criminal with a long rap sheet, and his mug shot appeared in the police system.

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CIA And FBI ‘Advising’ Ukrainian Government

PIC: Mstyslav Chernov

German media reports that American intelligence and law enforcement assets are “advising” (make air quotes when you read that) the Ukrainian government. Advising. For freedom.
Via Yahoo:

Berlin (AFP) – Dozens of specialists from the US Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation are advising the Ukrainian government, a German newspaper reported Sunday.

Citing unnamed German security sources, Bild am Sonntag said the CIA and FBI agents were helping Kiev end the rebellion in the east of Ukraine and set up a functioning security structure.

It said the agents were not directly involved in fighting with pro-Russian militants. “Their activity is limited to the capital Kiev,” the paper said.

Read the rest at Yahoo.

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Militiamen And Oath Keepers Drew Weapons, Threatened To Kill Each Other

I imagine this sideshow is getting tougher to defend as the days go by, beyond Bundy’s ignorant racist screed. What is your input, disinfonauts?

English: Three wingnuts

Three wingnuts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

via Crooks and Liars

The situation at the Bundy Ranch, where armed militiamen and “Patriots” are camped out, has deteriorated so badly that competing factions apparently drew weapons on one another during heated arguments.

The right-wing media tried to sell Americans on the idea that the antigovernment “Patriots” and militiamen who gathered to block the roundup of Cliven Bundy’s illegally grazing cattle in Nevada were well-meaning lovers of liberty. However, Bundy’s most ardent defenders have revealed themselves to be a volatile collection of hotheaded, paranoid men (and a few women) with big egos and even bigger guns.

The situation at the Bundy ranch, where armed militiamen and “Patriots” are camped out, has deteriorated so badly that competing factions apparently drew weapons on one another during heated arguments.

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Mass Incarceration in the US

Check out this short animation about the problems with American prison policy.

via Youtube

It wasn’t easy to pick this topic, but I believe that America’s 40-year policy of mass incarceration is deeply unethical, not very effective, and promotes the security of the few at the expense of the many.

It’s hard for me, as a person who was born into privilege, to imagine the challenges convicted criminals face, often for crimes that are utterly non-violent.

If you’re feeling like you want to do something about this, I’m mostly just making this video as an informational resource and to encourage people to think of felons not as bad, scary people but just as people.

The people at The Prison Policy Initiative were very helpful in the creation of this video and if you want to learn more about their work and how to get involved go to http://www.prisonpolicy.org

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US Government Confirms It Has Been Conducting Warantless Searches of Americans’ Communications

PIC; NSA (PD)

PIC; NSA (PD)

It has always been assumed that these kinds of searches were taking place, but this is the first time that the government has confirmed so. Don’t worry though: Obama says he’ll review some of these programs to determine whether the government should be conducting this kind of surveillance.

Via USA Today:

The Obama administration has conducted warrantless searches of Americans’ communications as part of the National Security Agency’s surveillance operations that target foreigners located outside of the U.S., the administration’s top intelligence official confirmed in a letter to Congress disclosed Tuesday.

These searches were authorized by a secret surveillance court in 2011, but it was unclear until Tuesday whether any such searches on Americans had been conducted.

The recent acknowledgement of warrantless searches on Americans offers more insight into U.S. government surveillance operations put in place after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The government has broadly interpreted these laws to allow for the collection of communications of innocent Americans, practices the Obama administration maintains are legal.

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Intel Panel ‘Very Close’ on Killing NSA Phone Programs

This reminds me of a Richard Pryor Joke. “The reason people use a crucifix against vampires is because vampires are allergic to bullshit.” They’re also allergic to sunlight, much like the NSA.

Crypt

Crypt (Photo credit: chb1848)

via Politico

The House Intelligence Committee’s Republican and Democratic leaders said Thursday they’re nearing agreement on legislation that would end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of U.S. citizens’ telephone data.

Negotiations on some key details remain fluid, but Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) said in an interview that he’s “very close” to a deal with Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) on a plan that would allow phone companies to hold telephone records now collected by the NSA and conduct individual searches needed to pinpoint suspicious activity.

“We’ve got to have legislation that will take away the concern and perception that people are being listened to,” Ruppersberger said. He added that he hoped to reach an agreement before the end of this month.

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What’s Really Going On: Bahrain vs. Ukraine, Can You Spot the Difference?

PIC: Mstyslav Chernov

PIC: Mstyslav Chernov

via chycho

What amazes me is that sane intelligent people have become hysterical by consuming western mainstream media propaganda designed to divert our attention away from the root cause of what ails our society.

For example, with the Ukrainian crisis shock doctrine tactics are being used to bombard us into a frenzy, the ultimate purpose for which is to distract us from the great game: Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Grand Chessboard (2), our economy’s addiction to indefinite growth, the transfer of wealth from Main Street to Wall Street (2), the resource wars, The Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the geography of energy pipelines, the misconception of American exceptionalism and how it influences our foreign policy specifically on how it relates to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the significance of war being a racket (2), and the inverted totalitarian nature of our governments waging war on information (2, 3).

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