In this setting, it’s easy to see how the young Snowden was exposed to the notion of spycraft as a career, first with the Central Intelligence Agency and later as a systems analyst for two companies under contract to the NSA. But details of his early life — in the agency’s shadows and with both parents working for other branches of the federal government — only magnify the contradictions inherent in Snowden’s decision to become a leaker.
What, after all, did he think he was getting into when he signed up to work for the nation’s espionage agencies? And what specifically triggered a “crisis of conscience” — as described by a friend who knew him when he worked for the CIA — so profound that it convinced him to betray the secrets he was sworn to keep?
While the tedious “Traitor or Hero?” debate rages on, there will be all sorts of analysis done to figure out what sent the poor kid over the edge, especially from the “Hero” camp.
Many of the rest of us will simply keep wondering how a guy who grew up near the NSA but was shocked to find out what the NSA was up to when did contract work for them was bright enough to be doing the work in the first place.
Also, if there is a movie I think Chaz Bono should play Snowden.
People have started to realize that putting in four years and racking up tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt only to find yourself out of a job (or working as a barista at Starbucks) is a raw deal.
Some entrepreneurs and academics have decided to do something about it. They’re looking to give quality education for free online, or job training in fields that actually pay enough to afford their tuition.
Several of the programs have over 90% of graduates working as software engineers, making an average salary of over $80,000 per year, for instance.
There’s a list of twelve of these companies, for those of you who just had kids graduate from high school and are having the higher education wallet panic right now.
He’s got jokes too:
Let’s say you’re a liberal. Your inclination is to ward against authoritarian government invading personal privacy.
He is obviously writing from 1940.
Most of the article is BUSH BAD! NIXON BAD! MCCARTHY BAD!
He then has to justify his bad journal entry rationalization with something other than “It’s cool because Obama is just so dreamy” so he comes up with some tripe about technology making governtment abuses of such things less likely now, an opinion he is sure to abandon the second a Republican is inaugurated president again.
As expected, many lefties are now realizing that they’ve been criticizing The Lightbringer for a week or two and need to cover their you-know-whats before they have to start calling themselves “RACIST!” Scher used a bunch of words simply to say, “It’s OK because he’s doing it.”
This kind of delusion is to be expected from anyone who still doesn’t understand that McCarthy was right.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued senior U.S. government officials on Tuesday to strike down the National Security Agency’s broad telephone surveillance, a challenge that may have improved chances of succeeding as a result of recent leaks about the program.
It’s OK to agree with the NSA (not saying I do here) every once in a while. Just take a shower right after you do.
Since our latest Photo Caption Contest posted on June 6th, the Verizon revelation that served as the inspiration behind the contest has gone forth and multiplied into a mega-data-mega-scandal-mega-monster that consumes everything digital in its path.
So while the media and the government go mad trying to sort it all out, think of this winner’s post as a secure oasis where you can reflect upon the timely concept of WWOFFD. (What Would Our Founding Fathers Do?)
Due to the popularity of this contest resulting in an over-abundance of creative captions submitted by our brilliant, witty readers, no one winner could be declared. Therefore, our panel of VIP judges chose groups of winning captions.
Here is the Honorable Mention Group.
Obama is very happy as Chris Christie has asked him for a second date.
You’re fine, I told Holder to grab everyone’s phone records except for my pot dealers
“What? You voted for me six times? Call me back when you double that.”
“I love the sound of treason in the morning”
Born Free submitted three winners:
“Ground control to Major Tom…”
“Your call cannot go through. An armed drone is on its way to your location. You coulda stopped this in 2012, but it’s too late now, suckas!”
Dial in now to our certified 501(c) toll-free phonebank of IRS-deputized OFA comrades, and find out how you too could win a chance for a phone call with ‘O’
Obama: “I’m listening to the Muslim call to prayer, it’s one of the prettiest sounds on Earth.” (Judges note: In case you forgot, President Obama actually made this statement.)
Now for the “Caption King” winner’s circle with a few Grand Prizes tossed out to the best of the best.
Yeah, Vlad. I promised you that in my second term, I would have a little more “flexibility”. I’ve stolen every Constitutional right from the useful idiots that I could.
Can you fear me now? (Grand Prize)
For English, press 1. For Arabic, press 2. For tyranny, press “O”.
Vlad, sorry to hear about your divorce, comrade. Yeah, she bought the lipstick on the collar from the Auntie bit…whew! Otherwise, I would have had my reset button pushed, permanently.
Yeah, yeah…I’m Commander in Chief…blah, blah, blah. This is my second term, I’m phoning it in. (Grand Prize)
Does this have a Choom App?
When I first got an “I Phone” I thought they had named it after one of my speeches.
How can I talk to you and make any sense? Where’s the teleprompter on this thing?
So, Samantha Power says let’s attack Israel and Susan Rice chimes in…”and we can blame it on a YouTube video!”
No, Shulman…I didn’t say make a collect call to all Republicans, I said make a COLLECTION call on all Republicans. After 167 visits here you would think you would have this down by now.
Lois Lerner, this is Clark Kent. Let’s do a secret, invitation only conference call with our media at the Daily Plant-it.
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. But media conspired power, corrupts…with absolution.
“I still want to spread the wealth . . . of information.” (Grand Prize)
Obama-phone set on Chrissie Matthews leg tingle vibrate.
Obama takes Heat in NBA Finals . . . but takes no heat in USA scandals.
For the first time in her life, Michelle is proud of Barack’s phone. (Grand Prize)
Hello, Apple? I’m signing an Executive Order today changing the name of the iPhone to the O-phone. Don’t worry – there’s a couple billion in it for you.”
“This 900 number Axelrod turned me onto is fantastic!”
A bitter phone clinger.
Obama on his daily conference call with the non-Fox media giving them their marching orders.
From Chris Henderson:
“I’ve got America’s number. It’s 1-9-8-4.” (Grand Prize)
“Can you impeach me now?” (Grand Prize)
No Mr. Putin, Bill Clinton didn’t leave his little black book in the Oval Office. Why do you ask?”
Even on the phone Obama drones on and on.
From Allan Crowson: (Who is not yet a Caption King, only a Grand Prize Winner.)
Listen, when I said I wanted an unlimited data plan, I truly meant it: unlimited data, that’s the plan.
Thanks to all who played along making this contest so successful and competitive.
See you all next time a photo is worthy of a PJ Tatler Photo Caption Contest!
Finally, SOMEBODY with priorities!
Some of us have been waiting for this ever since we watched George and the family enjoying their futuristic amenities. Enjoy…
Elon Musk’s electric sports car venture has now enhanced its street cred by doing something rare — paying back $465 million in government loan money…early.
But as the Wall Street Journal reveals, that’s not the end of the taxpayer-funded gravy train for Tesla. Apparently, each car is built with about $45,000 of taxpayer subsidy, when you tally the federal, state and local incentives.
Of course, it’s not polite to ask, as the Journal does: “…why billionaires in California couldn’t have financed the business themselves. Why should middle-class taxpayers whose incomes are falling still pay to subsidize the purchase of cars that only the affluent can afford…?”
Riding high in the public eye at the moment, Tesla would make no profit if not for its sales of emission credits to the automakers who build the petrol-burning cars and trucks ordinary folks can afford. So, the car made by billionaires and purchased by millionaires is actually driving up the cost of transportation for us thousandaires through emission credits, not to mention spreading our “wealth” around to the rich through the tax code.
And all of this at the behest of the President whose lips drip vitriol as he spits out the imprecation “millionaires and billionaires,” and makes it clear to the proles that the rich are the reason that children go to bed hungry and stupid in America.
Eight months ago, Cody Wilson set out to create the world’s first entirely 3D-printable handgun.
Now he has.
Early next week, Wilson, a 25-year University of Texas law student and founder of the non-profit group Defense Distributed, plans to release the 3D-printable CAD files for a gun he calls “the Liberator,” pictured in its initial form above. He’s agreed to let me document the process of the gun’s creation, so long as I don’t publish details of its mechanics or its testing until it’s been proven to work reliably and the file has been uploaded to Defense Distributed’s online collection of printable gun blueprints at Defcad.org.
The Liberator does include two metal pieces, a nail to act as the firing pin and a six-ounce piece of steel to make it detectable by metal detectors. The other 16 parts were printed in ABS plastic and according to Wilson, will be available online at Defcad.org next week. It has interchangeable barrels so that it can fire multiple calibers of standard handgun ammunition. Wilson has his federal firearms license, and added the steel to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act, so everything he has done to date complies with firearms law.
And yet, the printed gun may change everything.
The sharing of Americans’ health information is set to explode in coming years, with millions of patients’ medical records converted to electronic form and analyzed by health-care providers, insurers, regulators and researchers.
That has prompted concerns over privacy—and now, new federal rules that aim to give patients more control over their information are posing technical and administrative problems for the doctors and hospitals that have to implement them.
Information-technology experts say the challenges illustrate how difficult it may be to protect sensitive patient information as digitization of the health-care industry expands.
The least comforting part of this article is the fact that private information might be shared “inadvertently” whether you’ve paid cash and requested privacy or not. The unholy alliance between health care providers, the government and insurers opens up a Pandora’s box of privacy issues and your most private information could slip out merely because they’re all passing information back and forth. The formerly evil (they were the devil to the Left until they signed onto Obamacare) “Big Insurance” types can have overwhelming access to all of a health care provider’s records for “quality review” and “oversight”.
And if one “i” wasn’t dotted or “t” crossed, your supposedly secure information could slip into the hands of those from whom you’re trying to keep it.
I was wrong.
One year ago I left the internet. I thought it was making me unproductive. I thought it lacked meaning. I thought it was “corrupting my soul.”
It’s a been a year now since I “surfed the web” or “checked my email” or “liked” anything with a figurative rather than literal thumbs up. I’ve managed to stay disconnected, just like I planned. I’m internet free.
And now I’m supposed to tell you how it solved all my problems. I’m supposed to be enlightened. I’m supposed to be more “real,” now. More perfect.
But instead it’s 8PM and I just woke up. I slept all day, woke with eight voicemails on my phone from friends and coworkers. I went to my coffee shop to consume dinner, the Knicks game, my two newspapers, and a copy of The New Yorker. And now I’m watching Toy Story while I glance occasionally at the blinking cursor in this text document, willing it to write itself, willing it to generate the epiphanies my life has failed to produce.
I didn’t want to meet this Paul at the tail end of my yearlong journey.
Honestly, there are times when unplugging from everything sounds like a dream. But then I realize how invaluable it has become for everything I’ve been doing for a living for years. Comedians were early adopters to the online life. It was a way to promote ourselves without hiring a publicist and email was an early favorite as a way to help us stay connected with friends and family while being on the road so much. Five of us were doing a tour for the US troops in the South Pacific a few years ago and found ourselves without Internet or reliable phone service for days and it was quite refreshing at first (this was exceptionally weird because we were surrounded by some serious military technology). We all got a little itchy after a time, however.
The story this guy tells of his experiment is worth a read whether you’re convinced you never want to be disconnected or if you are looking for inspiration to check out for a while. I’m kind of in the mood to take a brief Internet vacation.
And then blog about it.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s trade mission to China this week is intersecting with one of the most controversial issues of his governorship: California’s $68-billion bullet train.
The governor has staked part of his legacy on the rail network, a centerpiece of his vision for California. He is hoping that China, which is enjoying an economic boom and spent $77.6 billion on overseas investments last year, according to official figures, will pump some of its cash into the troubled project.
There’s the key: “troubled project”. It’s troubled because-get this-it costs more than was originally planned. So when your Big State “investment” project isn’t working out well why not hit up the biggest of the big state purses? After all, it only means getting an infrastructure investment here from the area of the world that our own military is looking at as the greatest looming trouble spot.
What could possibly go wrong?
A week ago, former comedian Jim Carrey publicly advocated for restricting the law-abiding citizen’s access to firearms. He was militating against a right plainly spelled out in the Constitution.
This week, Jim Carrey has put his name to a letter advocating relaxing drug laws and clemency for drug offenders. The letter also hints at restoring voting rights to felons at the federal level, which up to now has been a state issue. These same people fight against voter ID, which protects the voting rights of Americans who have broken no laws.
Whatever you may think of the drug war, and I question the growing militarization of ordinary police forces, Carrey’s two positions are common on the left: Against the law-abiding citizen’s right to bear arms, simultaneously for the law breaker whose actions make the law-abiding citizen’s self-defense necessary. “Free Mumia” goes with universities hiring domestic terrorists goes with “gun free zones” that help killers plan massacres.
Carrey and other liberals do not see the contradiction here. Your right to bear arms, written into the Constitution, does not count. Yet they will find shadows and penumbras to create rights that are not written there.
On issues of life, liberals tend to favor the most radical policies on abortion, while they oppose the death penalty for our worst criminals. In court this week they won a victory allowing people of any age to purchase a powerful abortifacient drug, meaning children will end up buying, using, and probably being harmed by this drug. When a girl is harmed and sues the manufacturer, the same liberals will stand up and denounce “Big Pharma.” Liberals are literally turning a blind eye now to the ongoing trial in Pennsylvania, in which the details of an abortion mill/charnel house are being laid bare. Kermit Gosnell’s trial is among the most grisly in American history. But the lives of those children he and his employees callously snuffed and snipped out do not matter to liberals, at all. Their silence says all that needs to be said. Liberals who favor the death of the thousands of children killed at Gosnell’s slaughter house will oppose meting out the death penalty to the doctor who systematically killed them.
On the other hand, President Obama, Hillary Clinton and other liberals incessantly claim that their policies are — sing along if you’d like — “for the children.” MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry advocates for the collective against the family in an ad, yet pushes against any collective disgust or restrictions when it comes to abortion. She says children matter to all of us, yet if a child is born while a doctor is trying to kill her, that child does not matter at all. Gosnell is free to keep her feet in a jar, as he did with many of his victims.
Liberals also claim to be be voices for the powerless against the powerful. If they really cared about the children, and were really advocates of the powerless against the powerful, would they not see in the Gosnell trial a chance to side with both? Likewise, they claim to be women’s advocates, yet women were victims at Gosnell’s horror lab. He employed a person with no medical education at all to anesthetize patients. Women were injured and died due to his unsafe and unsanitary practices, practices government ignored for years.
Liberals have nothing at all to say about any of this. Nothing.
And they apparently see no contradiction between their rhetoric and their true policies. If liberals have a conscience, even the alleged crimes of Kermit Gosnell does not sear it.
The mental jujitsu that it takes to be a modern liberal doesn’t stop there. If you’re a law-abiding Christian church leader in America, the Obama administration wants to dictate to you, tell you whom to hire and what products you will pay for through insurance. But if you’re a drug cartel operative in Mexico with designs on expanding your business in the US, liberals want to make sure your path across the border is smooth. Liberals create “free speech zones” on university campuses that explicitly restrict free speech that liberals don’t like. Liberals claim to be for education, yet always side with unions that oppose firing incompetent teachers. Liberals claim to be racially tolerant, yet routinely launch racist attacks against minorities who disagree with them, as Clarence Thomas, Ted Cruz and our own Allen West can testify. Liberals claim to be pro-woman, yet demonize women leaders like Margaret Thatcher, Sarah Palin and Condoleezza Rice. Liberals claim to be pro-science, yet ignore the science on the beginning of life and on climate and everything else that contradicts their political point of view. They claim to be lovers of reason, yet get into a discussion with one and if it doesn’t go their way, liberals tend to become the most hysterical shriekers on earth. Despite their claims to be open-minded and free-thinkers, the America that liberals are trying to create has no room at all for anyone who disagrees with them, on anything. Their America would consist of endless purges as political correctness evolves and metastasizes, a movie we’ve seen before in France and Cambodia. Liberals claim to stand for freedom, yet consistently expand the power of a less and less accountable bureaucratic state. They’re for due process for foreign terrorists, against due process for the American farmer on whose land an endangered species resides. They’re pro-choice, as long as you choose what they want you to choose. Choose to go to church, listen to Rush Limbaugh, hunt, or vote Republican and watch how tolerant and pro-choice they really are.
Take it all in, and it leaves little room for the existence of a well-meaning liberal. There must be some, but the vast majority must be either dupes who do not really understand the effects of their beliefs, they have succumbed to bullying or are liberals just to be seen as cool, or they know exactly what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and who stands in their way and must therefore be destroyed.
Barack Obama voted against protections for infants born alive during the process of aborting them. If he were a man of thoughts deeper than his rigid ideology, and if he had a conscience when it came to protecting the most innocent and vulnerable among us, what would he make of this?
Lake Annabelle Hall wouldn’t be alive today if doctors at Children’s Hospital of Colorado hadn’t operated on a cyst on her left lung before she was born.
Doctors pulled her halfway out of her mother’s womb, leaving her connected to her the umbilical cord and placenta, which served as life support for her while a team of 43 doctors and nurses operated on her.
She is now 5 months old after the medical procedure for a rare condition that saved her life.
Dr. Timothy Crombleholme performed the astounding surgery, which had to be done to remove a cyst and clear the baby’s airway before she drew her first breath. Today, Lake is a healthy little girl and should not require any additional surgery.
When you stop and think about it, what the federal government is proposing to do in implementing Obamacare is absolutely breathtaking. The government is proposing to basically take over 17% of the American economy, create a massive database — yet to be built — so that insurance exchanges — yet to be designed — can give up to 62 million Americans access to individually tailored insurance plans, while coordinating among three federal agencies millions of requests for federal subsidies.
We are 149 days away from the October 1 deadline for state insurance exchanges to be up and running so that citizens can purchase plans and find out how much of a subsidy they are eligible for. The IT requirements to connect everything, have all the interfaces in place, not to mention securing the system from hackers looking to steal your personal information, are incredibly complex.
How complicated is it? Here’s a chart by Xerox (via WaPo) that should pop your eyes a bit:
Michael Barone published a letter from one of his readers, an IT professional with 35 years of experience, that lists just a few of the massive challenges facing the government:
“Wow, what can go wrong here? Let me assess this based on my years of experience in this industry. The federal government is going to build 50 exchanges, using a data hub that doesn’t exist physically and in fact, the design hasn’t been solidified, and must be accessible to a variety of data processing technologies that range from archaic to old.
Each of the 50 states have different eligibility rules, and with a significant number of states opting out, the federal government now has to learn the intricacies of each state’s Medicaid eligibility models which then scale to different applicability rules for different members of a given family. The thousands of pages of bureaucratic rules that will drive requirements haven’t been completed yet, and those requirements are needed to drive design not only for the application programs, but for the entire processing architecture. The issue of network, processor, and storage performance has to be decided, modeled and tested.
To complicate matters, the convoluted federal procurement rules for hardware and software have to be adhered to, which require mixing different hardware brands, software packages and service providers. Add to this compliance analysis to validate and re-validate trusted sources of data. All legal requirements at the local, state, and federal level have to be met by the design. And last but not least, staffing up for customer support which requires hiring, training on applications not yet designed and real world tested, the creation of support documentation, building or retrofitting facilities for these folks, setting up backup sites for the required redundancies, plus hardening the sites for natural disaster power failures.
Additionally, the people hired must meet the Equal Opportunity criteria, and all GUIs must be handicapped usable, as well as the facilities themselves. I could be here all evening defining additional work to be done. Oh, did I mention this will be done by next year?
Another Barone reader lists some of the resource requirements:
o System Analyst
Strong ability to work with subject matter specialist to develop systems requirements and document for the programmers.
o Technical and Subject Matter Specialists
Writers to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the end users (How many will that be???) and SOP’s for operations.
o Will we need various types of computer equipment in order to test and migrate to production? Problem is we must likely don’t have that computer capacity in order to test followed by migration to production
o Mainframes, Desktops and other devices that I am unaware of
o Will vendors have to get involved with hardware/software packages, etc?
Interfaces (based on the GAO report-as follows)
o INSURANCE COMPANIES
o STATE EXCHANGES
o SMALL BUSINESS
Given my chimp-like abilities with the computer, do you think they’re going to have someone you can talk to for help if you get stuck? (“Your call is valuable to us. Estimated wait time to speak to a representative is three days.”)
No one expected the implementation of Obamacare to be smooth. But this promises to be beyond disaster, a clusterfark of epic and unforgettable proportions.
If the government goes ahead and tries to maintain the October 1 deadline for the exchanges to go live, it will probably be as bad as it appears. They need to create 26 complete exchanges (the feds are partnering with 7 other states to build the systems). They need to sync up all those interfaces, including those connected to the IRS and HHS so that the consumer can get approved for subsidies. How many millions of lines of code? How complex will the applications be? We’re not even thinking about the complexity of the Medicaid expansion.
Why is the government so far behind the curve in prepping for Obamacare’s rollout? One big reason is that the 13,000 pages of regulations that are supposed to tell insurance companies what kinds of policies they can offer were just released after the election. Apparently, most of them were ready last May but the president chose not to release the bad news before he was safely re-elected.
The insurance companies couldn’t design the policies without the regulations and the IT people couldn’t create the platform without the policies. So instead of spending almost a year designing and tweaking the exchanges’ computer systems, the feds now have 149 days to get things up and running.
It’s not going to happen. Henry Chao’s famous quote about problems setting up the exchanges — “Let’s just make sure it’s not a third-world experience” — reflects the nervousness of the administration. It also points the way to some kind of delay as the kinks are worked out of the system.
Six months isn’t going to make the policies offered on the exchanges any cheaper. Nor is a delay going to make the process any easier. What was once promised to be an online experience similar to buying a plane ticket on Expedia is no doubt going to turn into something akin to Chinese water torture.
But for the present, we are stuck with it. For how long a time may very well depend on how patient the American public is with the incompetence of the government and the bewildering complexity of the exchanges.
It’s an oppressive spring afternoon in Austin, Texas. Low clouds threaten to unleash a gullywasher. After a couple of emails and phone calls I’m at an apartment complex off to the west of the University of Texas campus. A pair of young men pull up and pop the lid on the trunk of their car. One pulls a flat metal case from the trunk and I jokingly ask, “Is that a gun or a guitar?”
The lead man could blend in with the musicians and hipsters all over Austin who recently dominated the city during SXSW, but he isn’t one and what he has in the case is an instrument, but it’s not musical.
He lays the case on the parking lot pavement and opens it up. Inside are several of the objects for which he has become famous, or infamous, depending on your point of view. The dark parts are a conventional AR-15 rifle. Sen. Dianne Feinstein would ban them from personal ownership if she could, based not on their collective firepower, but on what they look like. The white parts are plastic. Wilson printed them and has test fired them at his range near Austin.
As he pulls the firearm from the case to show it to me, a woman walks by with her dog. I hope that we’re not alarming her. She didn’t seem to be surprised in the least. This is Texas, and guns are everywhere from the local Walmart to the state capitol building, every day.
The man with the strange rifle is Cody Wilson, 25, the co-director of Defense Distributed. That’s the group that in the past year has gone from not even existing to being on the verge of changing everything.
Or nothing. The fact is, neither Wilson nor anyone else knows what effect realizing his idea will have. But we’re very close to finding out.
Defense Distributed is about to create the world’s first fully functional, fully printed gun. The wikiweapon will be real.
We go into his apartment and he shows me around. It’s a typical male college student’s place — he’s a law student at UT — a bit messy and unkempt. Up in his bedroom he has a huge American flag on one wall and the famous “Come and Take It” flag opposite. It’s a replica of the flag that flew at Gonzales, Texas, on October 2, 1835 when Texians dared the Mexican army to retrieve a cannon. Wilson is from Arkansas, but the Gonzales spirit of defiance is evident in nearly everything he says and does. The American flag is ironic. He bought it to be his bedspread, but it didn’t work for that, so up on the wall it went.
Over the next hour, we converse about everything from the methods and mechanics of printing a gun, to the why of it, to the philosophy of Democratic politicians like Dianne Feinstein, Andrew Cuomo, Chuck Schumer, and Steve Israel, who believe that there is a legislative solution to everything, and that they have those solutions or are smart enough to come up with them.
Wilson is no fan of any of them. And they may not be smart enough to come up with a legislative solution to Defense Distributed. Distributing printed firearms via download may be a case of politics failing to stop the signal.
He is also no conservative in the typical sense. He’s either a libertarian or an anarchist or believes in “socialism from below,” but mostly he’s just a young man who “wants to remain a human being” by realizing an idea that up to now has only lived in the mind. That idea is printing a gun, not for hunting or for self-defense against criminals, but to defend himself against government.
Wilson has just obtained his federal firearms license. He underwent a process that normally takes about 60 days, but his took 6 months. He showed me his FFL like a “proud papa.”
“I don’t know why I got it,” he allows, “other than this is still supposedly a country of laws and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t have gotten it.” The process took so long, he says, partly because Defense Distributed lost its manufacturing locations a couple of times during the process. Printer manufacturers became nervous when they found out what he was up to. He says that one, Stratasys, referred him criminally to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. That referral has been resolved in his favor.
“There’s no reason for us not to get it,” Wilson continues. “I have no criminal record, my intent is to make money with the license, so okay, you can’t not give it to me. Even knowing that like, yes, I helm a project whose goal is to basically one day explode the need, or destroy the need, for something like the ATF in the first place.”
The license allows Wilson’s group to deal firearms, but more importantly to him, it allows the company to build and test prototypes in materials other than metals, as firearms manufacturers. Private individuals would face stiff penalties for engaging in activities that Defense Distributed needs to do to build the printed weapon.
It’s hard but not impossible to see how the government might eventually come to regard the printed gun. At least one law already on the books is relevant, the Undetectable Firearms Act. Others could follow. It takes a license from the state to cut hair anymore. Licensing of some sort may eventually come to play in the 3D printing realm.
Or not. The push for industry licensing frequently comes from the industry itself, as a means of using government as gatekeeper against competition. At this point, no complete firearm has ever been printed. Many parts have, but never the whole. Gun manufacturers so far have not reacted to Defense Distributed. Wilson’s group has printed a slew of magazines and lowers. They’re using a combination of standard firearms parts and common household hardware to make their printed parts function with traditionally manufactured stocks, receivers, and barrels. The 3D printing industry is new and diffuse, more a novelty than an actual industry other than among the few companies that develop and build the printers. Most 3D printers are being used to print rapid prototypes of toys, or candy molds, or even bicycles. Advocates of 3D printing as an industry have long hailed the creation of such mundane objects as “revolutionary,” only to turn around in shock and fear when Wilson turned up to do something unexpected and truly revolutionary.
“You’re printing guns for a set of specific reasons,” I say to Wilson. “What are they?”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s “assault” weapons ban is now officially DOA, but it didn’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things. She and her ilk can try banning whatever they want, but technology has run miles ahead of them. Defense Distributed, the group behind 3D printing of firearms, now has its federal firearms license.
Wilson sent the application to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in October. According to Ars Technica, the process, which usually can take as little as 60 days, took about six months for Wilson.
Defense Distributed has been creating prototypes of 3-D guns and magazine clips for months. In February, the project released a video displaying the success of a new magazine that holds 30 bullets for an AR-15 rifle. In total the magazine fired 342 bullets, Wired reported. The group fired “227 of those rounds using full automatic fire, while swapping out the barrels on the rifle to keep them cool,” Wired said.
Cody Wilson published a statement saying “No prototype we print or test will ever be sold or given to another person. And nothing we create as a part of this project is for sale.” The FFL plus an add-on he has filed for would open up sales possibilities in the future. Based on the talk he delivered at SXSW, though, the license seems to be less about sales than it is about making sure that he stays on the right side of the law and within the ATF’s graces.
Barack Obama has a point here. He’s not Dick Cheney when it comes to drones. Dick Cheney never killed an American citizen without due process. Dick Cheney also never accused returning veterans or pro-life advocates of being potential terror threats. Obama’s government has done both.
President Barack Obama’s defense to Democratic senators complaining about how little his administration has told Congress about the legal justifications for his drone policy: Dick Cheneywas worse.
That’s part of what two senators in the room recounted of Obama’s response when, near the outset of his closed-door session with the Senate Democratic conference on Tuesday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) confronted the president over the administration’s refusal for two years to show congressional intelligence committees Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel memos justifying the use of lethal force against American terror suspects abroad.
In response to Rockefeller’s critique, Obama said he’s not involved in drafting such memos, the senators told POLITICO. He also tried to assure his former colleagues that his administration is more open to oversight than that of President George W. Bush, whom many Democratic senators attacked for secrecy and for expanding executive power in the national security realm.
“This is not Dick Cheney we’re talking about here,” he said, according to Democratic senators who asked not to be named discussing the private meeting.
Obama’s entire worldview seems to boil down to: I’m not that guy, who’s worse than me, because I say so.
Even though Dick Cheney never killed an American citizen without due process.
There are two basic ways to view government. One, it’s a collection and concentration of force and power for the purpose of providing safety and a basis of interaction and commerce for the peaceful, and a means of curtailing and penalizing the predatory. Two, it’s a protection racket designed to enable the wealthy and powerful to concentrate and maintain their power and wealth.
Both views are true, and often not in competition with each other. The latter view of government is embodied by the likes of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who uses government to busybody and ban everything he doesn’t like (while exempting major corporations from his bans when he can) and Austin city councilman Mike Martinez. Martinez is trying to crack down on an app, SideCar. SideCar lets people who need a ride connect with people who can give them a ride, across town, across the country, whatever. If I’m going somewhere and so are you, SideCar makes it easier to share the ride. Martinez wants to regulate Sidecar users, and he appeared on local radio KLBJ late last week to explain why: If one private citizen gives another private citizen a ride and any money changes hands, it may push wages for cab drivers downward. Cab companies got together and basically bought Martinez’s support one way or another, so he is lobbying on their behalf to crack down on an app, which is really a crackdown on one person’s ability to transact with another without government interfering. His lobbying created a stir ahead of the massive SXSW conference, during which Austin’s downtown traffic becomes a nightmare, and SideCar may serve as an open source relief valve.
What we may need against such government busybodying is a good, old-fashioned rebellion. Cody Wilson is stepping into that role.
Wilson, a University of Texas law student, is quickly becoming one of the most notorious people on the planet. He is the man behind Defense Distributed. That group is behind the recent push to print firearm parts via 3D printers. You’ve heard of Wikipedia and Wikileaks. Wilson’s big idea is the wikiweapon.
Wilson gave a talk at SXSW Monday afternoon. He cuts a contradictory figure, apologizing repeatedly for getting too technical while explaining Defense Distributed’s history, and the modeling and printing of working firearms components, but not apologizing at all for pushing a technology in directions that its inventors probably never intended.
He opens his talk with a joke — a picture of a garden gnome.
Factory.org is doing a cool demo of 3D printing tech on the trade show floor. They have a machine at the booth that will take a model created in 3D software and turn it into a real, physical object. 3D printing promises to be a major leap in design and manufacturing. This particular company’s idea is to franchise 3D printing globally, so they’re not selling the machine itself — which runs about $1300 — so much as selling the ability to get into global 3D design and printing of everything from the sunglasses they’re printing in this video…
…and food. The image on the pad shows 3D printed gummy bears based on full body scans of real people. Eat your friends!
And clothing. This shirt was precision ripped with a laser version of the printer.
My next session here is about 3D printing. Specifically, the 3D printing of firearms. Not to be overly dramatic, but 3D printing of guns may render the anti-Second Amendment movement obsolete.
More: They’re giving out these little 3D printed cards, customized to wherever you live.
SXSW Monday: I’m here today to check more sessions and events out. Most that I’m interested in are in the afternoon. In the morning, a man needs his coffee, and as I’m walking from my parked car — wherever that is, somewhere blocks away from the action — to the convention center, a man asks me out of the clear blue sky “Hey, would you like some free coffee?”
Um, yeah. I would. Very much. He ushers me over to this trailer, which it turns out belongs to GE.
Those two white arms are robots. The barista attaches a syringe to to what, I guess, is its hand. The syringe is full of condensed coffee. She doesn’t start you on a coffee IV, which is a pity.
They snap a photo of you, or a logo that you’re wearing or have handy.
I happened to be wearing my PJTV shirt…
So, after a few seconds, the robot gets the image and passably writes it onto the foam on top of the coffee.
Thanks to Vivian at RetailMeNot for letting me snap pics while the robot was making her coffee. Click on the next page to see the holographic tour guide.
Let’s get this out of the way up front: The weather for SXSW 2013 is terrible so far. Austin is dry as a bone for probably 345 days out of the year. Today is not one of the dry days. I snapped this from South Congress crossing the lake going north. On a good day, you can see the state capitol from here.
NASA is here. They’ve set up a full-scale model of what will be the next great observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope. The real JWST will orbit earth at a Lagrange point, which is about one million miles out. This model is getting soaked, and probably wishes it could get outside the weather.
It’s tough to get a sense of scale here or, really, what it even looks like. Here’s shot from the night the model was assembled out next to the Long Center for the Performing Arts.
Here’s a time lapse of its construction.
NASA has a small building full of space interactives behind the JWST model. NASA’s touchscreen is bigger than your touchscreen.
That screen lets users fly around and zoom into Hubble Space Telescope images. The James Webb will replace Hubble, eventually.
Here’s me in infrared. That’s the wavelength in which the Webb will see space. Peering in infrared will allow it to see farther out, and back in time given the nature of light, than any other telescope ever made.
Disclosure time: I used to work on the JWST project back in the day.
When most Americans think of drones, they think of the government’s targeted killing of Al Qaeda operatives overseas.
Lately, the debate in Washington has been over the killing of Americans, like U.S-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was taken out by the CIA in September 2011. Pressed on the program by Congress, CIA director nominee John Brennan recently told lawmakers “this administration has not carried out drone strikes inside the United States and has no intention of doing so.”
But despite that pledge, there is every intention to expand the use of so-called mini-drones inside the U.S. Used mostly by local police and first responders, the Federal Aviation Administration has already granted 327 licenses, and it projects as many as 10,000 licensed systems by 2017.
Just police and first-responders. Because the government never overreaches on anything, right?
In other news, I’m going back to Arizona to explore abandoned mine shafts that I can make comfortable.
Microsoft Corp. said Friday its computers were hit by cyberattacks similar to those recently reported by Facebook Inc. FB and Apple Inc.
In a blog post, a Microsoft security official said the company found a “small number of computers,” including some in its Mac business unit, were infected with malicious software. Microsoft said there’s no evidence its customer data was affected. The Microsoft investigation is ongoing, according to the post by Matt Thomlinson, general manager at Microsoft’s trustworthy computing security unit.
This is precisely why I stopped putting my innermost thoughts and pictures of my Kardashian bobblehead collection on any of my computers. I feel so isolated…
Yes, the sequester is coming. Yes, it was the president’s idea. Many thought, myself included, that Democrats wanted to go off the fiscal cliff since liberals would get their tax increases, they’ll get their defense cuts, and they’ll finally turn the page on the Bush Tax Cuts. Hence, Democrats had no reason to come the the negotiating table to avert financial catastrophe. However, a (BAD) deal was hashed out, and, ironically, 84% of the Bush Tax Cuts became permanent. It’s a policy shift that got Debbie Wasserman Shultz a little confused back in January.
…a new study out [last] Thursday morning from Bloomberg Government (subscription only) does quite a bit to upend that logic. The study shows that Democratic congressional districts will be harder hit by the military cuts than Republican ones, and that eight of the top 10 districts that will experience the deepest cuts are represented by Democrats. Robert Levinson, the Bloomberg Government defense analyst who conducted the study, found that “Democrats won 47 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives in the 2012 election, but 58 percent of the military’s fiscal 2012 prime contract spending went to companies performing work in those districts.” Among the top districts, military spending in those represented by Democrats averaged $893 million this year, vs. $573 million in those represented by Republicans.
Additionally, Steve Goldstein posted on MarketWatch on February 19:
…. if the scheduled budget cuts called the sequester were to go into effect…macroeconomic Advisers says the result would be 700,000 job losses by the end of 2014. That would push the unemployment rate by a quarter-point, though the forecasting firm still sees the jobless rate shrinking to 7.4% by that point, from 7.9% currently.
“The macroeconomic impact of the sequestration is not catastrophic. Nevertheless, the indiscriminate fiscal restraint would come on the heels of tax increases in the first quarter that total nearly $200 billion, with the economy still struggling to overcome the legacy of the Great Recession, and when the FOMC is constrained in its ability to
offset the additional fiscal drag with a more accommodative monetary policy,” the firm says.
The sequester would actually help 2014 growth (by a slender 0.1%), the firm reckons, because it would push the Federal Reserve to keep rates lower for longer.
Republicans have another angle to exploit in depicting this president – and his party – as bad for the economic health of the nation. It also shows that Obama really doesn’t care if he screws his own party with this issue, or on firearms, which has many Democrats – in red states – balking at the idea of more regulations that chip away at the Second Amendment.
Initial estimates of the meteorite that slammed into Chelyabinsk, Russia last week pegged it at about 10 tons. It turns out to have been much larger than that.
The meteor that crashed to earth in Russia was about 55 feet in diameter, weighed around 10,000 tons and was made from a stony material, scientists said, making it the largest such object to hit the Earth in more than a century.
Several landing sites, but no large fragments, have been found yet.
When it exploded due to pressure and friction in the atmosphere, it released about 500 kilotons of explosive energy, about 30 times the size of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. So it was a city killer, and had it struck in a more populated area, the devastation would have been enormous. We dodged another massive bullet.
Like I said last week:
According to simulations done by astronomers a few years back, we can expect a Tunguska-scale event about once every 100 years. Some plans are on the board to build early detection systems, but right now Americans have a hard enough time tearing ourselves away from distractions long enough to focus on more immediate national security threats. I’d bet the odds are against us taking this threat seriously enough to fund it.
News broke today that China’s People’s Liberation Army is behind a massive, worldwide hacker effort. The hacker army, which is reportedly run by “Unit 61938″ of the PLA based in a Shanghai suburb, has targeted the US and other countries, hitting around 150 victims over the past seven years.
The report, released Tuesday, states that out of the 141 hacking targets, 87 per cent have headquarters in English-speaking countries.
“It’s time to acknowledge the threat is originating in China,” reads the report. “Without establishing a solid connection to China, there will always be room for observers to dismiss (the threat) as uncoordinated, solely criminal in nature, or peripheral to larger national security and global economic concerns.”
Mandiant’s report details years of Chinese economic cyber espionage, all originating from that PLA unit outside Shanghai.
- Evidence linking APT1 to China’s 2nd Bureau of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) General Staff Department’s (GSD) 3rd Department (Military Cover Designator 61398).
- A timeline of APT1 economic espionage conducted since 2006 against 141 victims across multiple industries.
- APT1′s modus operandi (tools, tactics, procedures) including a compilation of videos showing actual APT1 activity.
- The timeline and details of over 40 APT1 malware families.
- The timeline and details of APT1′s extensive attack infrastructure.
China’s communist government denies the allegations, calling the report “groundless criticism” and “unprofessional.” But according to Mandiant, the scale of the attacks and the size of the information thefts — hundreds of terrabytes of data — indicate the backing of a large organization and dozens, maybe hundreds, of hackers launching the coordinated, systematic attacks.
Cyberspace represents not just information and commerce, but also a new battlespace. Maybe the most alarming aspect of the report, though, is how little effect it will probably have in Washington. A few pundits and elected officials will sound the alarm, but most of Washington will ignore it to focus on sequestration or the “war on whatever” that the Obama administration is using to create today’s wedge issue.
Our military and corporations are increasingly dependent on networks and information tech. Our elections are increasingly electronic, our finances, everything. It’s a safe bet that Unit 61938 has not been hacking so that it could pirate movies and software or jailbreak PS3s. They’re looking for holes and building weapons to wield against us and our allies.
When demand for the plant’s batteries didn’t meet expectations, the company filled orders with cells made at a factory in South Korea, leaving the Michigan plant largely idle, according to the report by the Department of Energy’s Inspector General, Gregory Friedman.
LG Chem said in a statement that production delays at the Michigan facility were “market-driven,” adding that it is “developing specific plans for the start of production.” The company said it regretted that it applied for reimbursement for “employment costs that were not allowed” under its U.S. grant.
Silly market and its complete lack of interest in things that the government created high expectations for. WHEN WILL IT LEARN?!?
Four more years.
As terrible as President Barack Obama was in his first term, he can and will get worse.
When it comes to the Internet, the specter of his taxing it looms. Not to mention the scads of new regulations he will be illegally dropping anvil-style upon it.
As our video chronicles, great news abounds.
Please, enjoy. And let’s all work together to stop him.
The nation’s top transportation safety official said on Thursday that the Federal Aviation Administration accepted test results from Boeing in 2007 that failed to properly assess the risks of smoke or fire from the batteries on Boeing’s new 787 jets.
Deborah Hersman, the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, told reporters that the problems seemed to have originated in the battery, when one of the eight cells had a short circuit and the fire spread to the rest of the cells. But she said that Boeing’s tests showed no indication that the new lithium-ion batteries on its 787 planes could erupt in flame and concluded that they were likely to emit smoke less than once in every 10 million flight hours.
Once the planes were placed in service, though, the batteries overheated and emitted smoke twice last month, and caused one fire, after about 50,000 hours of commercial flights.
“The assumptions used to certify the batteries must be reconsidered,” Ms. Hersman said.
Finally, somebody is watching the watchers. This is a very fortunate airline safety issue, given that it didn’t take a tragedy for the flaws in the system to be exposed. However, tragedies also lead to greater systemic overhauls and we can only hope that they won’t fall by the wayside here with a “Well, nobody got hurt” attitude.
“How I Learned To Love The Drones” was the headline/caption Drudge Report used for the subject of our latest Tatler Photo Caption Contest.
Am I being presumptuous when I state that our photo caption contest fans are capable of writing much better ones? If so, prove me right!
This whole Obama Administration drone controversy with the leaked White Paper, not informing Congress of their policy, and the total lack of outrage by the mainstream media is perfectly timed for John Brennan’s confirmation hearing as CIA Director and sure to be non-stop cable catnip.
Of course there is great irony that drone strikes are being used with much greater frequency, and as the weapon of choice by our Nobel Peace Prize winning president, than by that “war criminal” President George W. Bush, but the level of vitriol towards President Obama is only polite quiet noise.
Now, as I write this, a breaking story has developed revealing that two major news outlets were complicit in helping Obama keep Saudi Arabian drone bases secret for the last year. If you ever doubted that the mainstream media is in bed with the Obama Administration this should put an end to that.
Just imagine if President George W. Bush had a similar secret memo with the legal justification for killing Americans with drones and hid it from the public and Congress, how quickly would the word impeachment have been tossed about? Then, if Bush had secret drone bases in Saudi Arabia, these same news outlets would have leaked it in a nano-second.
Thus, if you need to express some outrage at the double standard and hypocrisy in the media and on Capitol Hill between a Democrat president and a Republican president, this Tatler Photo Caption Contest is the place where you can unleash your rage against the machine. However, please try to stay within the rules of “be nice and stay classy because the media is watching.”
Now, if you need some clever examples of our rules in action, be sure to check out the winner’s of our last contest.
Good luck, have fun and rage on!
Today, from Megan McArdle at the Daily Beast:
Without that kind of passenger traffic, it would never make sense to lay the tracks (new tracks are required because for high speed rail to be truly high speed, it needs very, very straight tracks.) The Chinese government has a variety of strongarm measures to simply take the land it wants (not to mention a lot of low-productivity farmland). The US government has to tediously assemble plots one by one, compensating the folks whose land it has seized, and then jumping through various obstacle courses comprised of local and environmental review processes.
So we aren’t getting a national high speed rail network. Your wallet should be glad. But those of you who would really like to hurtle across the American landscape at 300 mph from Chicago to Las Vegas are permitted a small sigh.
To make train travel competitive, you’d need to raise airline ticket prices about 15 times, say with an excise tax or a tariff. Raising the airline ticket prices 15 times would, of course, pretty well end the airline industry as we know it; rock stars and CEOs would be about all that was left. Although I suppose they’d give their occasional traveler a second bag of peanuts if asked.
New technology won’t help all that much for a nationwide system, either. The French TGV train — I love French: train à grande vitesse just sounds so much inherently cooler than “really fast train” — really only travels about 200 miles an hour; even maglev trains are not a lot faster. That would cut the travel time in half, making the total travel time to New York only, hoo-hah, 45 hours.
It’s not a matter of the government not supporting Amtrak. It’s not a matter of the U.S. not having the “will” to have the best passenger trains in the world. It’s that passenger trains, using any current technology or any technology we see coming in the foreseeable future, simply can’t compete with airlines.
It’s just arithmetic.
The flaws in the American election system are deep and widespread, extending beyond isolated voting issues in a few locations and flaring up in states rich and poor, according to a major new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The group ranked all 50 states based on more than 15 criteria, including wait times, lost votes and problems with absentee and provisional ballots, and the order often confounds the conventional wisdom.
In 2010, for instance, Mississippi ranked last over all. But it was preceded by two surprises: New York and California.
I’ve been playing around with the interactive tool developed by Pew for a little while now, trying to figure out exactly what I agree and disagree with. It’s one of those political data nerd things that, at the very least, provides something more than just anecdotal information on a subject almost everyone seems to have complaints about.
So, Boeing knew.
Even before two battery failures led to the grounding of all Boeing 787 jets this month, the lithium-ion batteries used on the aircraft had experienced multiple problems that raised questions about their reliability.
Officials at All Nippon Airways, the jets’ biggest operator, said in an interview on Tuesday that it replaced 10 of the batteries in the months before fire in one plane and smoke in another led regulators around the world to ground the jets.
The airline said it told Boeing of the replacements as they occurred but was not required to report them to safety regulators because they were not considered a safety issue and no flights were canceled or delayed.
The only real question here seems to be why the FAA saw fit to ground the planes over something that the manufacturer claims wasn’t a safety issue. Something in the approval process is deeply flawed and air travel safety is no place for “He said/She said” spats about procedure.
Second look at Amtrak, anyone?
Pyongyang insists that the camps do not exist and are merely foreign propaganda, but the advent of high-resolution, free images from outer space has disproved that claim.
On January 18, the North Korean Economy Watch website announced that a new camp had been identified alongside an existing detention facility in Kaechon, South Pyongan Province.
Using newly provided Google Earth images, analyst Curtis Melvin was able to conclude that the new camp sits alongside Camp 14 and has a perimeter fence that stretches nearly 13 miles.
I try to compartmentalize my feelings about Google, as its various products are useful to me in many ways. If it gets a Google Street View shot of me standing at my window wearing just boxers, however, I’m outta here.
The most effective email subject line of the 2012 US presidential campaign began with one word: Hey. That’s the finding of the massive Obama campaign operation known as “The Cave.” That and many other startling findings are detailed in a report on how the Obama campaign went about re-electing a president who boasted a record of failure and divisiveness.
The Cave was to US politics what the Hubble Space Telescope would have been to Neanderthals: An advancement so profound that it verges on magic.
It was also a very non-traditional approach to politics, in that it was less consultant driven than it was data and ability driven. It hired analysts from Silicon Valley rather than the Beltway, one of whom is a particle physicist. Their agile, outside-politics thinking helped build an efficient, ruthlessly data-driven machine that was able to correctly predict the behavior of millions of Americans and make real-time adjustments that produced votes. Or at least, that’s the story that the folks who built it are saying in the report. Victors always crow when they get to write their own history, but setting that aside, they did win a race that the issues, history and the chasm in experience and abilities between the two candidates suggested that they should have lost.
Obama’s personal political army posted it on the web and require a valid email to obtain it. So I downloaded it and have posted it right here. Download it for yourself and take a look.
The GOP had better not only pore over every detail of this at the national and state levels, they must build something better for 2014 and beyond. The Romney campaign’s ORCA project was supposed to be the GOP’s technological answer, but it was a total failure.
Last night, Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed the GOP to stop being the “stupid party.” They not only have to stop being stupid, they have to become very, very smart.