Archive for the ‘Other News’ category

What all the WikiLeaks “Cablegate” Fuss is About

December 10, 2010

Brilliance from Boing Boing:

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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:

 

Airport Security: Better Ideas

November 30, 2010

After all the outrage over TSA “security theater” these past few weeks and the success of National Opt-Out Day, we need to remember to promote possible solutions rather than just complaining.

With that in mind, here is an excerpt from a great article in Canada Free Press…

The path to safer air travel

It might surprise some people to learn that it takes travelers at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel less than 30 minutes on average to get from the parking lot, through screening and to the boarding area, all without the use of full body scanners or needless groping.  Their system of security is arguably the most effective in the world. They have not had a security breach since 2002 when a passenger mistakenly boarded a flight with a stowed handgun. Even then, that situation ended without incident.

I’ve heard and read all of the arguments that the Israeli security model could not be effectively implemented in the U.S. and Canada due to a wide range of factors, including area and demographics. Baloney. These contentions are merely excuses by people with little or no security experience who are afraid of being accused of bigotry and intolerance, or who stand to make fortunes through the sale and deployment of high tech x-ray devices.

Full article link.

I also say “baloney” to anyone who claims we can’t use the Israeli model here because we have so many more airports, so many more travelers. What? We can’t hire enough people to make up for the larger scale? In case it has escaped anyone, we have MILLIONS of UNEMPLOYED people right now who could use a job! A great many of those unemployed are over 35 and would probably be more than capable of doing the work.

In addition to hiring and training people in the Israeli model, many have asked why we aren’t using bomb-sniffing dogs. Indeed, why not? Apparently, the dogs have proven to be far more accurate and reliable than the billions of dollars spent on machines to do the same thing in Iraq as shown in this video:

Ideally, the whole thing would be left to private enterprise and the free market but let’s be honest. That isn’t going to happen anytime soon. So given the constraint that airport security will remain in FedGov hands for the foreseeable future, it should make one wonder – doesn’t the government want to create jobs? They keep saying they do but when a ripe opportunity to do so appears they look the other way.

It’s almost as if lining someone‘s pockets is more important than finding and using proven and effective security measures.

National Opt-Out Day is a Success

November 24, 2010

Actually, today is NOT the busiest air travel day of the year. Not even close! Everyone just thinks it is.

 All reports are that people are moving through the lines quickly – even more quickly than usual – and that only a small percentage of travelers (as expected) have opted-out of the scanners. A handful of educational outreach groups peacefully handed out literature at airports today, but those were far from the security lines, slowing down no one.

 There have even been reports from travelers that in many airports the scanners were not even in use today. Though TSA denies this was a tactical decision on their part, it certainly helps explain why people have been moving through the lines much faster than usual.

 So if TSA actually did feel threatened by Opt-Out Day and you got through an airport security checkpoint today in record time because only the traditional measures were in use – you’re welcome.

It also seems that Thanksgiving air travel is down considerably this year and travel by road is up approximately 12%. A spokesman from AAA says the organization estimates “94 percent of all holiday travelers to go by automobile” this year.

 I’m certain that at least some of that increase in road travel is due to people who have chosen liberty over fake security. So take that, Big Sis. We’re opting out of flying entirely.

 All in all, I’d call the day a rousing success.