Archive for December 2010

What all the WikiLeaks “Cablegate” Fuss is About

December 10, 2010

Brilliance from Boing Boing:

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And Now a Very Special Holiday Message from The Ministry of Love

December 7, 2010

 

Press Office
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Dec. 6, 2010

WASHINGTON — Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced the expansion of the Department’s national “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign to hundreds of Walmart stores across the country—launching a new partnership between DHS and Walmart to help the American public play an active role in ensuring the safety and security of our nation.

“Homeland security starts with hometown security, and each of us plays a critical role in keeping our country and communities safe,” said Secretary Napolitano. “I applaud Walmart for joining the ‘If You See Something, Say Something’ campaign. This partnership will help millions of shoppers across the nation identify and report indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats to law enforcement authorities.”

The “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign—originally implemented by New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and funded, in part, by $13 million from DHS’ Transit Security Grant Program—is a simple and effective program to engage the public and key frontline employees to identify and report indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats to the proper transportation and law enforcement authorities.

More than 230 Walmart stores nationwide launched the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign today, with a total of 588 Walmart stores in 27 states joining in the coming weeks. A short video message, available here, will play at select checkout locations to remind shoppers to contact local law enforcement to report suspicious activity.

Over the past five months, DHS has worked with its federal, state, local and private sector partners, as well as the Department of Justice, to expand the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign and Nationwide SAR Initiative to communities throughout the country—including the recent state-wide expansions of the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign across Minnesota and New Jersey. Partners include the Mall of America, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Amtrak, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, sports and general aviation industries, and state and local fusion centers across the country.

In the coming months, the Department will continue to expand the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign nationally with public education materials and outreach tools designed to help America’s businesses, communities and citizens remain vigilant and play an active role in keeping the county safe.

h/t Drudge Report

 

Thirteen O’Clock wonder what, exactly, “other threats” and “suspicious activity” is supposed to mean…

Ministry of Plenty 100% Sure It Will Control Inflation

December 7, 2010

Bernanke Is 100% Sure

From ZeroHedge.com:

I don’t know about you, but I’m not 100% sure about anything. The older I get, the less sure I am about everything. I question things that I was sure were true when I was 25 years old. I’m not sure I’ll wake up in the morning. I’m not sure I’ll survive my commute to work. That is why I was flabbergasted last night as I watched Scott Pelley interview Ben Bernanke on 60 Minutes.

As a side note, boy this show has gone downhill. In the old days of real journalism, Mike Wallace would have scorched Ben Bernanke, pointing out his phenomenal ability to be wrong or clueless on every financial issue the country has faced in the last 10 years. Today, Pelley underhands softball questions to Bernanke and never challenges him. It was a pathetic display of journalism.

Below is the dialogue that made me almost fall off my chair:

Pelley: Is keeping inflation in check less of a priority for the Federal Reserve now?
Bernanke: No, absolutely not. What we’re trying to do is achieve a balance. We’ve been very, very clear that we will not allow inflation to rise above two percent or less.
Pelley: Can you act quickly enough to prevent inflation from getting out of control?
Bernanke: We could raise interest rates in 15 minutes if we have to. So, there really is no problem with raising rates, tightening monetary policy, slowing the economy, reducing inflation, at the appropriate time. Now, that time is not now.
Pelley: You have what degree of confidence in your ability to control this?
Bernanke: One hundred percent.

The hubris in this statement is breathtaking. The U.S. economy is a complex interaction of thousands of variables and is intertwined with the policies and actions of hundreds of other countries throughout the world. No one has a handle on the worldwide economy and no model can predict anything with any amount of accuracy. And still, this pompous professor from Princeton who has never worked a day in his life in the real world is 100% SURE that HE knows what will happen and when it will happen. I’m sure his track record of predictions and analysis will give you comfort in this statement:

“We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis. So, what I think what is more likely is that house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it’s gonna drive the economy too far from its full employment path, though.” – 7/1/2005

“Housing markets are cooling a bit. Our expectation is that the decline in activity or the slowing in activity will be moderate, that house prices will probably continue to rise.” – 2/15/2006

March 28th, 2007 – Ben Bernanke: “At this juncture . . . the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime markets seems likely to be contained,”

May 17th, 2007 – Bernanke: “While rising delinquencies and foreclosures will continue to weigh heavily on the housing market this year, it will not cripple the U.S.”

June 20th, 2007 – Bernanke: (the subprime fallout) “will not affect the economy overall.”

continued..

What Do You Get for a $59.2 Billion Dept of Ed Budget?

December 7, 2010

The fiscal year 2009 Dept of Education budget was $59.2 BILLION. And what did all that money buy us? Not much.

Teens in U.S. Rank 25th on Math Test, Trail in Science, Reading

Fifteen-year-old students in the U.S. ranked 25th of 34 countries on an international math test and scored in the middle of the pack in science and reading, raising concerns the U.S. isn’t prepared to succeed in the global economy.

Teenagers from South Korea and Finland led in almost all academic categories on the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment, according to the Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, which represents 34 countries. U.S. students ranked 17th in science and 14th in reading. The U.S. government considers the OECD test one of the most comprehensive measures of international achievement.

The results show that U.S. students must improve to compete in a global economy, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said yesterday in a telephone interview. The Obama administration is promoting national curriculum standards and a revamping of teacher pay that stresses performance, rather than credentials and seniority.

“The brutal fact here is there are many countries that are far ahead of us and improving more rapidly than we are,” Duncan said. “This should be a massive wakeup call to the entire country.”

continued…

Naturally, the government response is to spend MORE money and give themselves MORE power. But doesn’t the 30+ year history of the federal dept of education prove that it is positively made of FAIL?

Abolish DOE at the federal level. Give control of the schools back to the individual states and local communities. Save billions of dollars and bring real learning back to the schools. After all, a mind is a terrible thing to waste, right?

1984 – Are We There Yet?

December 5, 2010

Surveillance

It has recently been revealed that “law enforcement agencies routinely seek and obtain real-time surveillance of credit card transaction [sic]. The government’s guidelines reveal that this surveillance often occurs with a simple subpoena, thus sidestepping any Fourth Amendment protections.”

Webcams, traffic cams, building security cams, cell phone cams, email and internet use monitoring, your cell phone can be remotely turned into a microphone, Google Earth, Google streetview, GPS, On-Star, TSA “security” screenings …. all that and more means, just like in the book, we can never really know when we are being watched. You have to assume it is always.

Thoughtcrime

The rabid reaction of government and its controlled media outlets to Wikileaks’ publication of “CableGate” documents is nothing short of branding certain activities as thoughtcrime.

State Dept Warning Students Not to Read, Share WikiLeaks

Columbia University’s Office of Career Service is said to have passed around an email warning students that if they read WikiLeaks or make comments related to the releases it would render them ineligible for any government jobs in the future, based on a warning sent by a former student working at the State Department.

State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson insisted the warning wasn’t an official Department directive but added that making public comments or posting links to WikiLeaks content wasn’t “a good move for any US citizen.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Sunday, “Information warfare is warfare, and Julian Assange is engaged in warfare. Information terrorism, which leads to people getting killed, is terrorism, and Julian Assange is engaged in terrorism. He should be treated as an enemy combatant” [emphasis added]

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell said, “I think the man is a high-tech terrorist. He’s done enormous damage to our country, and I think he needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and if that becomes a problem, we need to change the law.” [emphasis added]

As Bill Anderson writes on the LRC Blog:

This country now is governed by a regime that can fashion a “crime” against any of you. Have you ever failed to do EXACTLY what a TSA agent said to do, and to do it immediately? Have you ever asked a question that one of them did not like. Congratulations. You have “interfered with the duties of a federal officer,” which is a felony punishable up to 20 years in federal prison. If you were not prosecuted, it is because the authorities at the time did not see any benefit to making an example of you.

It is that easy, my friends. Today, federal prosecutors target whom they will, and then they decide later how to find a “crime” that fits the political situation. On the sidelines, there are plenty of cheerleaders, whether at Fox News of MSNBC or on the Daily Kos or Michelle Malkin or wherever, depending on who is targeted, indicted, and ultimately convicted.

And as Congressman Ron Paul recently warned, “In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth. When truth becomes treason, we are in big trouble.”

War is Peace
Ignorance is Strength
Freedom is Slavery…

Debt is Wealth
Truth is Treason

Are we there yet? I believe so. It may not be full-blown, in-your-face (unless you attempt to board a flight at any one of many US airports) but the groundwork is solidly in place. Today it’s like the scratchy tickle at the back of your throat that makes you wonder if you’re coming down with a cold. One day in the not so distant future, if we do nothing to stop it, we will wake up to find that tickle turned into a deadly flu. And then it will be too late for many of us.

What Have We Learned from Wikileaks’ CableGate Dump?

December 3, 2010

What have we really learned from Wikileaks’ “CableGate” dump of US State Dept. cables?

1. US Diplomats lie, spy and generally have a low opinion of non-US officials and leaders.

2. Governments of the world engage in secret deals, gossip and general sneakiness.

Any government who didn’t already know these things would have to be incredibly naive. It would also be incredibly naive of the US government to believe that other governments take everything the Americans say or do at face value.  So while the CableGate specifics might be shocking to us “ordinary” folks, I doubt there were any real surprises for anyone involved in world “diplomacy” on a daily basis.

Oh, maybe there is a little embarrassment over some of the things that were leaked, but the 9/11 of world diplomacy? Hardly.

The Madness of a Lost Society

December 1, 2010

Video of the Day: