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William Binney: NSA Claim Not to Be Mining Content Is an "Outright Lie"

July 22, 2015 in Blogs

By Robin Koerner

In a very powerful exclusive interview, I recently had the privilege of speaking to an American hero, William Binney, NSA whistleblower.

We discussed how NSA mass data collection makes us LESS safe; how the intentions behind it are not misguided but positively nefarious; how the lies that have been told about it are snowballing, and how Rand Paul may uniquely represent an opportunity for change.

The remarkable transcript follows.

ROBIN KOERNER: Welcome to a very important edition of Blue Republican Radio with Robin Koerner. This is all a more appropriate edition considering we have just had the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. We are going to be talking today to a man who, to me, is a hero. I imagine he is a hero to many of my listeners. We’ve all heard of Edward Snowden; maybe not so many of us have heard of Bill Binney – we should have – but Bill Binney is the NSA whistleblower of 2002, whom I will be speaking to today, and who performed a great service to our nation when he saw that the NSA was implementing a bastardized version of the technology that he created to protect to security and liberty of Americans – and he saw that that bastardized version was to be used en masse to violate the liberties and privacy of Americans.

Bill Binney – welcome to the show. Thank you so much; this is a privilege. Have I fairly characterized the trigger of your leaving the NSA of which you were a veteran for between 30 and 40 years?

BILL BINNEY: Yes, you pretty much captured it. I mean, when they started spying basically on everybody, first in the United States and then around the world on the entire planet, I mean, that’s something that violated everybody’s privacy and that’s something I couldn’t be associated with, so … I had to get out of there as fast as I could when that happened.

ROBIN: Now, your most senior title – if I can put it that way – at the NSA, and correct me if I am wrong, was Director of World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Did I get that right?

BILL: Yes, that’s right. Yeah. About 6000 analysts doing all the reporting and analysis around the world.

ROBIN: And so that’s …read more


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Why the Information Sharing Bill Is Anti-Cybersecurity

July 22, 2015 in Economics

By Patrick G. Eddington, Sascha Meinrath

Patrick G. Eddington and Sascha Meinrath

The magnitude of the Office of Personnel Management breaches grows worse by the week.

When news of the breach broke in June, OPM officials said more than 4 million current and former federal employees and federal job seekers might have had their personal data compromised. Now, government officials acknowledge the figure is more than 21 million. That means 1 in 15Americans is directly affected by these hacks. But when you count the families of those who have been exposed, the actual number is far higher. And sources familiar with the situation say that what has been acknowledged publicly may only be the tip of the iceberg.

So, it’s shocking that the Senate is considering a cybersecurity bill that would inevitably lead to government agencies collecting and storing even more sensitive information on still more Americans. If the bill is passed, it means that any future data breach could be far more catastrophic as many more Americans’ data could be compromised.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) is the brainchild of Sen. Richard Burr (R) of North Carolina, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. While he has touted the bill as paving the way for government and industry to trade valuable information about cybersecurity threats, critics have called it a surveillance bill in disguise. Earlier this year, dozens of civil society organizations including X-Lab (Editor’s note: Sascha Meinrath heads X-Lab), issued a letter blasting it as a de facto “back door” for dramatically expanding domestic surveillance because it would create new mechanisms for collecting Americans’ data.

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act would give the government carte blanche to collect and store more data on Americans, putting everyone’s information at greater risk.”

After reading the latest version of this bill, not only do we agree with this assessment, but our critique goes much further.

CISA authorizes Internet service providers to share virtually unlimited personal identifying information (PII) on huge numbers of individuals based upon undefined “cyberthreat indicators,” all without judicial review or any indication of actual wrong-doing (e.g., guilt by association would likely be enough to target both you and everyone you know).

Our colleague, Jennifer Granick, spelled out some of the implications. “Imagine you are the target of a phishing attack: Someone sends you an e-mail attachment containing malware. Your e-mail service provider shares the attachment with the government, so that others can configure their computer systems to spot similar attacks. The next day, your provider gets a call. It’s the Department of Homeland Security …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Libertarians Need Not Support the Confederacy

July 22, 2015 in Economics

By Randal John Meyer

Randal John Meyer

Philip Magness authored an article in Newsweek entitled, “What Should Libertarians Think About the Civil War?” He claims the two “common interpretations” of the Civil War—libertarian support for the North or for the South—“stand out as particularly problematic.” He suggests that libertarians adopt two propositions, instead: “One needn’t be for the Union to be against slavery,” and “One needn’t be for the Confederacy to object to the North’s prosecution of the war.”

It is true that one need not support the Union to be against slavery and that one need not support Confederate states to object to war crimes—ask any non-American. Magness generalizes the moral considerations—slavery, war crimes, etc.—out from their historic context to avoid any “problematic” interpretation of who was right. In effect, his argument leaves the reader thinking nothing about the Civil War.

To accomplish this generalization, Magness completely conflates two ancient doctrines of warfare: jus ad bellum (justice in going to war), and jus in bello (justice in the conduct of warfare). However, the justification for war is distinct from the justifications for various acts of war. Some argue, for example, that “World War II was just, but Truman unjustly dropped the bomb.”

Both the Union and Confederacy committed war crimes and abused civil liberties during the Civil War. But from a libertarian perspective, the Confederacy had a worse case for its cause.”

Neither Case Against the North Is Strong

When broken down, the jus ad bellum case against the North is objectively weak, and the jus in bello case against the North is not nearly as strong as Magness makes it out to be. To briefly address the jus ad bellum question, the case for the North is within libertarian philosophy. Southerners attacked a northern fort, and several million people lived in bondage in the Southern states in violation of the few universal laws of nature.

Regarding jus in bello, Magness considers the issues with libertarian moral philosophy in terms of supporting the North: “its indulgences in unrestricted warfare, suspension of civil liberties, centralization of power, or any of the other charges often made against the Union’s wartime cause or its outcome.” To be sure, the North let its generals perform what would today be called war crimes, and that is morally repugnant.

Yet, the South’s actions were hardly better—Camp Sumter, the Fort Pillow massacre, the Shelton Laurel massacre, and the Centralia massacre are just a few examples of the South’s violations of the customary laws of war. Reprisals …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Trump's Real Problem

July 22, 2015 in Economics

By David Boaz

David Boaz

Donald Trump has shot to the top of Republican presidential polls on the strength of his celebrity and his bombastic talk.

Elites on all sides of the political spectrum — liberals, conservatives, and libertarians — are horrified by his ranting about Mexican “rapists.” And he may have shot himself in the foot with his comments about Senator John McCain. But his poll numbers are still up there.

Some voters like his tough talk about illegal immigration. But I think more just prefer businessmen to politicians. Nineteen percent voted for billionaire Ross Perot in 1992, against George Bush and Bill Clinton, even after Perot temporarily withdrew from the race on the very odd grounds that the Bush campaign was trying to disrupt his daughter’s wedding.

Voters sense that businesspeople deal in reality, not rhetoric. They get things done. That’s why there’s always a yearning from someone from outside politics to come in and clean up government.

Unfortunately, just because a businessman understands making deals and building hotels doesn’t mean he understands economics.”

The website ThinkProgress talked to three Trump voters at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa, all of whom emphasized that point. “I just think we need a business man to run the country like a business,” Jim Nelle, a small business owner from Winterset, Iowa, said. David Brown, a farmer and investor from New Virginia, Iowa, noted, “We’re not broke, we’re $19 trillion past broke and I believe that he has the business acumen and wisdom to bring the nation back.” And Bill Raine of New Hampton put it simply: “He’s a businessman, he’s not a politician.”

Unfortunately, just because a businessman understands making deals and building hotels doesn’t mean he understands economics. Trump is definitely an example of that.

What he’s really offering is a mixture of nationalism and protectionist economics along with the promise that he’s the guy, the man on a white horse, who can ride into Washington and fix the mess. He dismisses politicians, other candidates, and American negotiators as “stupid people,” “incompetent people,” and “losers.” He boasts of his wealth and promises that he would “kick [the] ass” of El Chapo, the Mexican drug cartel leader who escaped from prison.

Look at his major issues. He’s been barnstorming the country talking about crime by Mexican immigrants, starting with his claim in his announcement speech that “they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists.” But there’s no evidence for this. Immigrants are about …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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VIDEO: The "Yes Men" Have a Crazy Solution to California's Epic Drought

July 22, 2015 in Blogs

By Reynard Loki, AlterNet

If you eat beef, watch this video.

The Yes Men are at it again. Known for their prankster activism, the “culture jamming activist duo” created by Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos have now offered a unique solution to California's ongoing epic drought.

In an ironic video — a collaboration with the comedy video website Funny or Die and The Guardian — the activists’ spoof campaign suggests that hipsters stop showering if they must continue eating beef.

The campaign highlights one of the main issues surrounding California's record-breaking drought — one which hasn't been getting much press: The water-intensive cattle industry. At any one time, there are more than 5 million cattle in California, and they use nearly half of the state's water supply.

To put that figure into more personal numbers: It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce just a single pound of beef. A pound of wheat, by comparison, requires only 100 gallons to produce.

California produces a huge chunk of the American diet. In addition to beef (California has the fourth largest cattle population in the country, following Texas, Nebraska and Kansas), the state produces more than 90 percent of the nation's broccoli, artichokes, kiwis, plums, celery, garlic and broccoli.

As Chris Hunt and Peter Hanlon of the GRACE Communications Foundation, a non-profit that highlights the interconnections of the food, water and energy systems, recently put it: “Through the food we put on our plates, California's drought is also America's drought.”

So all Americans have a role to play through what and how much they consume. And since it wouldn't be politically correct to suggest that people eat less beef, the Yes Men have attacked the issue in another way: If you won't sacrifice eating beef, then sacrifice your personal hygiene.

In another bizarre ironic twist, the New York Times recently pointed out that California is exported 100 billion gallons of water a year in the form of cattle feed. The state's most water-hungry crop — alfalfa — is being sent abroad to feed Chinese cows.

Clearly, there is something wrong with the way …read more


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Dashcam Video of Violent Arrest of Sandra Bland Was Edited

July 22, 2015 in Blogs

By Ben Norton,

Major discrepancies in the video indicate it was tampered with — but why?

The dashcam video released to the public of the violent arrest of Sandra Bland was edited.

Bland was a 28-year-old Black Lives Matter civil rights activist and vocal critic of police brutality who died in police custody after a Texas officer pulled her over for a traffic violation, ordered her out of her car when she refused to put out her cigarette, and aggressively arrested her. Police say Bland committed suicide, yet the Waller County prosecutor says Bland’s case is “being treated just as it would be a murder investigation.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety uploaded dashcam police video of the arrest to YouTube on 21 July. Parts of the approximately 52 minutes of footage it uploaded have clearly been doctored.

A man leaves the truck in the center of the frame at 25:05. For the next 15 seconds, he walks toward the right of the frame and leaves. At 25:19, he suddenly appears again, promptly disappears, then returns at 25:22. The same footage of him walking is subsequently repeated.

This is not the only part of the video that was edited.

At 32:37, a white car drives into the left side of the frame, then promptly disappears in the middle of the road. Seconds later, the same car drives back into the frame and subsequently turns left. This footage is later looped several times.

A different white car also drives into the left side of the frame and turns left from 32:49 to 32:59. The previous white car again briefly enters the frame at 33:04, and once more at 33:06, yet it suddenly disappears both times. When these cuts are made in the footage, the lights on top of the truck in the center of the frame also abruptly cut out.

At 33:08, the exact same footage from 32:37 is repeated, followed by the same second white car at 33:17.

Similar edits and loops are made throughout the video.

Someone clearly cut footage out and looped part of the video in order to correspond with the recorded audio of Texas state trooper …read more