Friday, October 10, 2008

Now They Fear A Doll?!

Some people in this country are just f#*@ing stupid.

Enough with the fear-mongering! If properly brainwashed, one can see evil in everything.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sarah Palin's Nightmare Scenario

I've been meaning to post this for awhile.

If Sarah Palin gets into the White House, who's going to protect our Alaskan borders from that guy peering at us?

Originally from Boing-Boing.

Ulterior Motives of the Market?

Ponder this conspiracy theory for a moment...

Could this whole financial collapse and subsequent bailout have been orchestrated to drive the Euro and other foreign markets down... to make the U.S. debt China and others hold near worthless (and something we could buy back at a reduced rate)... and basically put us ('us' being the rich fat cats who can and will weather any financial depression relatively unscathed, especially one that's being paid for by the federal government) back on top by driving everyone else in the ground?

It's outlandishly devious and way beyond the acumen of those running our money. Still...

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Homeland Security Eliminates Probable Cause In Border Searches

Hoping no one would notice, Homeland Security tossed out the need for Customs and Border Protection agents to have probable cause when searching you computer or cellphone at the border.

According to an analysis of the documents (pdf) published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Asian Law Caucus (ALC), DHS reversed certain elements of border search guidelines over a year ago without so much as a peep!!

According to Raw Story...
Where customs officers previously could only "glance at documents to see if they were merchandise," the latest policy allows officers to "review and analyze" any documents in a traveler's possession with no suspicion at all. Previous prohibitions on copying documents without a traveler's permission or probable cause also were eliminated, allowing customs to "detain documents or copies for a 'reasonable period of time to perform a thorough border search.'" (Emphasis in original.)
The EFF and ALC are appealing for full disclosure on the new policies since what they were given was heavily redacted.

Some civil liberties activists worry that this new policy could be used to get around the Fourth Amendment by conducting searches that other agencies would be prohibited from doing.

You can (and should) read more about what DHS has been messing with over at EFF's site.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Did The American Taxpayer Just Get Screwed... Again?

We've all been watching agog as banks and financial institutions collapsed under their own greed... and how the American taxpayer was volunteered by our own federal government to bail them out.

Most of us don't understand the specifics. That's why these financial types can maneuver so well. No layman gets the intricacies of the economy. We just trust our leaders when they say the world financial system would collapse unless we fork over our tax dollars to wipe out their billions of debt.

But, like the fine print of a credit card application, this clause comes to light.
A "critical - and radical - component of the bailout package proposed by the Bush administration" called Section 8 reads like this:
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.
Sounds an awful lot like the typical Bush move of consolidating all decision making power in the Executive Branch much like what happened with areas of the Patriot Act and the "War On Terror." (read more of these particulars over at The Huffington Post).

But how can I link terrorism and the economy, you ask? Well, ponder this for a moment... Naomi Klein, author of the book "The Shock Doctrine," has a point of view that makes the Section 8 clause that much more ominous. Here she is on Real Time With Bill Maher talking about "disaster capitalism".

Did Americans fall for the same kind of fear tactics twice? And if we did, are we to blame like Andrew Sullivan from The Atlantic is more than insinuating? Sure people who irresponsibly took out loans to get homes they couldn't afford are complicit, BUT the banks saw their credit reports and signed off on the bad loans anyway.

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

The GOP Misdirection Game

While the country scratches its head at the choice of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP, the Bush Administration is up to something that has more far reaching consequences. The Raw Story has picked up on a New York Times article buried on page 8 which states that W has quietly moved to expand the reach of presidential power by ensuring that America remains in a state of permanent war.

Here are some excerpts from John Byrne's story...
Buried in a recent proposal by the Administration is a sentence that has received scant attention -- and was buried itself in the very newspaper that exposed it Saturday. It is an affirmation that the United States remains at war with al Qaeda, the Taliban and "associated organizations."

Such a re-affirmation of war carries broad legal implications that could imperil Americans' civil liberties and the rights of foreign nationals for decades to come.

It was under the guise of war that President Bush claimed a legal mandate for his warrantless wiretapping program, giving the National Security Agency power to intercept calls Americans made abroad. More of this program has emerged in recent years, and it includes the surveillance of Americans' information and exchanges online.

"War powers" have also given President Bush cover to hold Americans without habeas corpus -- detainment without explanation or charge. Jose Padilla, a Chicago resident arrested in 2002, was held without trial for five years before being convicted of conspiring to kill individuals abroad and provide support for terrorism.
Just because Bush is on his way out of the White House doesn't mean he can't leave more scars on our lives. And if you're pinning hopes to Obama getting in and reversing all of this nonsense (which seems likely, but not definite) you should ponder this... what if McCain wins? Would this be Bush's office warming present?

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What the MPAA and RIAA Want Us To Believe (and FEAR)

The MPAA and the RIAA have been very busy making sure they lock up all those file sharers out there (and as a result abolish one of the most efficient file sharing platforms out there... P2P or "peer to peer").

Before we get started, we should be clear about one thing... these institutions want to change copyright law in their favor. It's not about dealing with the low level of "piracy" that exists now. It's about having an iron clad hold on everything they own so that we, as consumers, no longer buy a copy of a song or movie... we just pay them for the privilege of borrowing it.

And, just for the record, I am not a "pirate". I own over 800 store bought DVDs. But I also believe sharing is the way cultures grow and learn. Think of a world without libraries or one where a friend can't loan you a recording of last night's Lost when you missed it. Sure you could watch it on ABC's flash site, but that site isn't there for your convenience. It's there to make sure ABC makes every possible dime it can.

Anyway... Wired has been keeping tabs on the MPAA's overtures to hold on to their intellectual property claiming that "piracy costs them billions of dollars in lost revenue each year". Oddly enough, though, the public has never seen any actual proof of this. We just have their litigation happy word for it.

If there is proof that I'm unaware of, please point it out to me (Threat Level has a nice post about how these $ estimates are "turkey"). In the meantime, here's where things stand.

(excerpts from Wired's Threat Level blog by David Kravets - click HERE for full article)
The Copyright Act says a rights holder has the exclusive right "to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending."

On Tuesday, in a lengthy telephone interview with Threat Level, two of the leading lawyers for the Motion Picture Association of America defined the Copyright Act as it applies to peer-to-peer file sharing networks: No actual transfer of the work is required, they said.

"You don't have to prove actual distribution. You need to prove there's works in the share folder, and that is distribution," said Joseph Geisman, MPAA's chief intellectual property attorney, as he described the so-called "making available" concept.

A host of digital rights groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a group of professors, labeled such an assertion as attempted copyright infringement, not covered under the Copyright Act. They claim infringement occurs only when there is actual proof of distribution -- that somebody else made downloads of a defendant's share folder.

The MPAA counters, saying that was never Congress' intent.

"If the other side is right," Goeckner said, "it's kind of open season on copyrighted works on the internet."

Related stories are linked below:

MPAA Says No Proof Needed in P2P Copyright Infringement Lawsuits

Senate Introduces IP Reform Bill Bolstering Enforcement

RIAA, MPAA Converging on Political Conventions

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This Is Why The Dems May Lose

They say they're Democrats, yet they are willing to vote for McCain if they don't get their way. They believe in unsubstantiated rumors that even their own favored candidate, Hillary Clinton, won't repeat (because it's not true).

Yet, here they are at the circus that is the Democratic National Convention, spewing neo-con 'fear factoids' (an original BFO phrase - use it wisely!) to a media that loves repeating nonsense until it becomes "truth". JON STEWART IS RIGHT, btw! These women are wrong.

If you have a 17 page report proving Obama is a Muslim and you truly are xenophobic enough to believe that would be a problem, you should be shouting your source's name from the rooftops. Unless, of course, your source is a disreputable one... or it's just plain WRONG.

Say what you will about the Republican Party, but when the DNC attracts the lunatic fringe, no wonder the Democrats seem shaky.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A World Wise 2 Year Old

And to think grown Americans don't know where Iran is (I'm looking at you, John "The Iraqi/Pakistan border" McCain).