» Technology

The PJ Tatler

The ACLU and Tea Party Join Forces to Stop the NSA

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

Amen.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Tea Party Patriots have joined forces to campaign against the re-authorization of the Patriot Act. The two groups are running joint ads in Iowa and New Hampshire, urging the Senate to stop the government snooping.

MSNBC writes, “The unlikely duo’s television ads, which begin Tuesday in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Washington, D.C., call on Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) to help reform parts of the Patriot Act in order to rein in NSA surveillance of Americans.”

A narrator says, “The federal government surveillance program has collected records on nearly every Americans’ phone calls, emails — your most private moments — without a warrant, without cause and without your permission.”

“When Washington invades your privacy, they’ve gone too far,” the narrator concludes.

As I’ve written before, the Senate is in a bit of pickle, with the Republicans fighting over what version of the Patriot Act to re-authorize. McConnell and Rubio want the entire thing including the controversial Section 215 authorizing the government to collect your phone records; Senators Lee and Cruz prefer the USA Freedom Act, which doesn’t allow the government surveillance dragnet; and Senator Rand Paul has thrown down entirely, threatening to filibuster the Patriot Act if it is re-authorized with the snooping provision in place.

Other pro-snooping politicians include Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, so make a note.

Polling released by the ACLU this week showed that voters in both parties overwhelmingly support reforming the NSA. In both Iowa and New Hampshire, 61 percent of voters believe Congress should “modify the Patriot Act to limit government surveillance and protect Americans’ privacy,” the poll found. Twenty-eight percent of likely Iowan voters and 33 percent of likely voters in New Hampshire disagreed, and said that Congress could renew the law unchanged.

The Washington Examiner is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has caved on the Patriot Act, and will bring the USA freedom Act to the floor. “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Tuesday he will allow a vote on the USA Freedom Act, despite his opposition to the legislation.”

“I certainly think we ought to allow a vote on the House-passed bill,” McConnell said after a private meeting with GOP senators. “If there are not enough votes to pass that, then we need to look at an alternative. And I am not making a prediction right now about how it comes out.”

Time is running out for the Patriot Act — it will sunset on June 1st. With the Senate and Congress leaving for their Memorial Day week-long vacation, they have about three days to move on a bill or let the Patriot Act expire entirely.

 

Read bullet | 15 Comments »

Will the Senate Leave for Vacation without Handling the Patriot Act Expiration?

Monday, May 18th, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

The Senate is planning on heading out of DC for their Memorial Day week long holiday, but they could leave some unfinished business behind.

This week is a busy one for the Senate as legislators are still working out details of that pesky trade bill and the deadline for re-authorizing the Patriot Act is looming. If Senator Rand Paul (R-TX) has his way, the Senators would head out for vacation without making a move on the Patriot Act.

“We could do something extraordinary,” the Kentucky Republican said Thursday. In the event of an outright lapse in the authorization, Paul said, “I see no reason why we couldn’t use the Constitution for awhile.”

As I wrote last week, Senator Paul has plans to filibuster any iteration of the Patriot Act that permits the government’s surveillance and data collection dragnet.

“With key so-called ‘PATRIOT Act’ provisions set to expire on May 31st, I’m leading the fight with a filibuster,” the presidential candidate said in a campaign fundraising email Friday. Supporters of the program “know if they keep this rogue spying program going, they’re going to have to railroad me in the process.”

Just last week the House voted on a Patriot Act alternative, the USA Freedom Act, passing it 338-88. The USA Freedom Act ends the governments bulk collection of phone records.  The ball is now in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s court, which puts him in a quandary.  McConnell supports the wholesale renewal of the Patriot Act including the surveillance elements.  The Senate Republicans are divided on the issue with McConnell and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) on board with the entire Patriot Act and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) supporting the USA Freedom Act and of course, Senator Rand Paul threatening a filibuster.

On Friday, McConnell suggests a two month extension for the Patriot Act, but Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) would have none of it. “Two months is two months too long,” the Senator tweeted.

The White House wants to see the USA Freedom Act passed in the Senate with spokesman Eric Schultz telling the media Obama did not want the Senate leaving town without moving the House.  Failure to do so would be “weakening our nation’s security and stand in the way of reforms … that would enhance the American people’s trust and confidence in the agencies tasked with protecting them.”

Part of the problem this week is that there might not be enough hours left before vacation to handle both the trade bill and the Patriot Act situation.  It should be an interesting week in the Senate indeed.

 

 

Read bullet | Comments »

[WATCH] No Models in this Fashion Show, Clothes Hit the Runway Carried by Drones at Silicon Valley Fashion Week

Monday, May 18th, 2015 - by The Tatler

San Francisco’s “Betabrand” passed on the traditional catwalk models for its Silicon Valley fashion show. The company has a cult-like following among the tech crowd, and what could be more appropriate than having drones run (or fly) down the catwalk with the company’s fashions?

betabrand fashion week

“Many of our ideas are coming from this community and we’re then creating clothing for them,” said founder Chris Lindland.

Writes CNN, “Betabrand’s ‘executive hoodie’ — a bastardized blend of a suit jacket and hoodie — even got a nod from Mark Zuckerberg’s sister Randi. She famously tweeted a suggestion (circa 2012) that the pinstripe hoodie might’ve been ‘Opening bell worthy? ;)’ just before Facebook (FB, Tech30) went public that year.”

“Some of the fashion is futuristic, and some of it is ready for the world now,” said Lindland. “Even everyday start up wear incorporates technology is some way.”

Here’s a picture of one of their fashion items called the “suity,” which is described as “the idea, as many start-up founders are probably familiar with, is to look professional but feel like you’re in pajamas. You pretty much step into it and zip it up to the collar. Voila, you’re ready to go to your investor meeting. Added perks: it’s machine washable and wrinkle-resistant.”

Betabrand Suity

 

 

Read bullet | Comments »

WATCH: 2 ‘Jetmen’ Fly Over Dubai Wearing Rocket Packs

Thursday, May 14th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Yves Rossy, aka “Jetman,” and his buddy Jetman Dubai Vince took a flight over Dubai this week using Rossy’s own jetpacks. The footage alone is phenomenal, putting Disney’s Rocketeer to shame. The question is, how long will it be before these jet packs are commercially available for consumer use? After all, it is 2015. Weren’t we supposed to have flying cars by now?

Read bullet | Comments »

Rand Threatens Filibuster on Patriot Act Surveillance Reauthorization

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

On Monday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) threatened to filibuster any attempt to reauthorize the sections of the Patriot Act that permit dragnet data collection operations.

“I’m going to lead the charge in the next couple of weeks as the Patriot Act comes forward,” Paul told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “We will be filibustering. We will be trying to stop it. We are not going to let them run over us.”

Last week, the Patriot Act suffered a setback when a federal appeals court ruled that the NSA’s massive surveillance operation “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized.”

Senator Paul will not be fighting against government snooping alone. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) also said he will filibuster a straight authorization of the bill.

“If they come back with that effort to basically extend this for a short term without major reforms like ending the collection of phone records, I do intend to filibuster,” Wyden told MSNBC on Sunday.

The House is expected to vote on the USA Freedom Act, a watered-down version of the Patriot Act, on Wednesday and it is expected to pass.

The Senate, on the other hand, is at odds over the issue and there are only ten legislative days left until the bill will sunset on June 1. There is disagreement about whether to re-authorize the entire Patriot Act or parts of the Patriot Act, whether to pass the USA Freedom Act instead or whether to do nothing at all.

Paul’s fellow senator from Kentucky and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell supports the Patriot Act re-authorization entirely as does Senator Paul’s presidential challenger, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Some senators support the USA Freedom Act alternative — Sens. Lee, Cruz, and Leahy are among that group. Last year USA Freedom was voted down in the Senate — Paul voted against it, but it was re-introduced this year. Yesterday a major privacy group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), pulled its support of the USA Freedom Act.

“Pending those improvements, EFF is withdrawing our support of the bill,” the group said in a blog post. ”We’re urging Congress to roll the draft back to the stronger and meaningful reforms included in the 2013 version of USA Freedom and affirmatively embrace the Second Circuit’s opinion on the limits of Section 215.”

The decision to yank support was based on the Second Circuit’s decision last week.

“Members like Senators Leahy and Mike Lee and Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner, Robert Goodlatte, and John Conyers should be applauded for working incredibly hard to get the USA Freedom Act through Congress,” EFF said in its blog post. “Yet as a result of the Second Circuit decision, the USA Freedom Act’s modest changes appear even smaller compared to the now judicially recognized problems with the mass collection of Americans’ records.”

The government cannot and should not be trusted with the communications records of American citizens “just in case.” It is gross violation of privacy and there is a perfectly good system in place for law enforcement to obtain the records they need via the court system with a warrant.

Instead, we are asked to trust the government when snooping enthusiasts claim we need the surveillance capacity to stop terror attacks but we are denied specific information that supports the necessity of collecting communication records. The director of National Intelligence LIED to the public and to Congress about collecting information in the first place, so why trust them at all with your personal communications records? Government agencies don’t have a great track record where abuse of power is concerned.

I am wishing Senator Paul success in his efforts.

Read bullet | 8 Comments »

Senate Intel Chair: We Are at Pre-9/11 after NSA Ruling

Monday, May 11th, 2015 - by The Tatler

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Byrd (R-NC) appeared on ABC’s “This Week” and said the federal appeals court’s ruling last week puts the U.S. at pre-9/11 intelligence levels.

“That turns us back to pre-9/11,” he told host Martha Raddatz of Thursday’s decision by a federal appeals court.

“Well, there’s no absolute,” Burr said.

“I can only take the advice of those who were involved at the time and because of the connection we couldn’t make, they suggested that if we had been able to bulk collect telephone numbers, we could have traced and connected the dot and caught al-Mihdar, who was in San Diego,” he added of 9/11 terrorist Khalid al-Mihdar.

Burr is referencing the federal appeals court decision that ruled the NSA’s bulk collection of records “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized” under the Patriot Act.

The senator would like to see the program continued.

“Well, I do think it should continue for the simple reason that it’s very effective at keeping America safe,” he said. “And in addition to that, we’ve had absolutely no incident of anybody’s privacy being intruded upon,” Burr said.

Burr referenced the May 3rd “Draw Muhammad” shooting in Garland, TX, to show there is still active hostility from terrorists against the U.S.

And that’s an interesting example to offer because Elton Simpson, the lead shooter, had been on the FBI radar since 2006 for trying to join al-Shabab. He recently popped back “on the radar” when he made jihadi comments on the internet — and even with all the privacy-invading super powers the NSA has, he still managed to arrive at the Texas event armed and ready to kill.

“Well, let me just say that the men and women in the intelligence agency and through law enforcement are 24/7 on this,” he said.

“The intent is there,” Burr said.

“We can’t stay at this alert level 24/7, 365 days a year, but it’s important that we respond to any potential uptick in terrorism,” he added of the Pentagon’s decision on Friday to raise the threat level at all U.S. military installations.

Read bullet | Comments »

Court: No Warrant Needed to Get Your Cellphone Location Data

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

In practical terms, the big takeaway from this story is that if you are going to commit a crime, leave your cellphone at home.

Yesterday the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that law enforcement agents do not need a search warrant to get cellphone location records from your cell phone service provider. The court ruled that “authorities properly got 67 days’ worth of records from MetroPCS for Miami robbery suspect Quartavious Davis using a court order with a lower burden of proof.

In a 9-2 decision, the court found that there was no expectation of privacy as to your historical location records. Mr. Davis was convicted by using his cell phone’s location data, resulting in a 162-year prison sentence.

I am not a lawyer, so I don’t understand why there would be lower cause threshold to obtain digital records from a third party than there is to search your house and read your diary to find out where you’ve been. Is it because a third party is involved?  Can authorities now get your Facebook posts without a warrant? Your Gmail account? Anything stored in the cloud? (DO NOT STORE YOUR DATA IN THE CLOUD!)

“We find no reason to conclude that cellphone users lack facts about the functions of cell towers or about telephone providers’ recording cell tower usage,” Hull wrote. “This cell tower method of call connecting does not require a different constitutional result just because the telephone company has decided to automate wirelessly.”

There was some notable dissent.

Two judges dissented, contending the Fourth Amendment requires probable cause and a search warrant for such records and some judges in the majority agreed in separate opinions that the U.S. Supreme Court should make the ultimate decision. Davis attorney David O. Markus said the dissent could provide a “roadmap” for a likely appeal to the high court.

“Unfortunately, the majority is stuck in the early `80s when cell-phones were the size of bricks and cost $3,000. The cases from that long-ago era aren’t helpful in today’s world,” Markus said.

Markus also described the decision as “breathtaking.”

Several civil liberties groups filed briefs in support of the search warrant requirement: the ACLU, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, to name a few.

“The majority opinion fails to appreciate the necessity of protecting our privacy in the digital age,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, staff attorney at the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The 11th Circuit Court said that the law governing third party information is clear and that any change would have to come from Congress, which would have to update the laws.

Read bullet | Comments »

The Greatest Threat to Space Exploration: Manifest Failure

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Welcome to Generation Whatever. Forget Kirk versus Picard. There’s a new Captain in town named Barack and his bidding with the final frontier is finally coming to fruition. Sure, we can explore Mars, but why even bother? We’ll just screw that up, too:

The white, male European conquerors of the New World and 19th-century American pioneers of Manifest Destiny still colour the space age, so is it a myth that we’ll turn nice on Mars? …destiny is rarely great for the people already at the destination. When Africans moved north to colonise Europe they obliterated the Neanderthals. When Europeans seized the New World, its cultures were virtually extinguished. Luckily the only population on Mars that we know of is a handful of rovers, but no doubt we’ll start a war anyway, before dragging them into some form of slavery or oppression. It’s just what we do.

So, NASA, how’s that “cheer up Muslims by reminding them of their math skills” working out for you? You’d better enjoy being the glorified therapy agency of choice for the Islamic world, because that’s your only job security going forward. You stink at everything else by virtue of your implied white, male colonialist ethos. And for those of you drawing your astronomical inspiration from the sci-fi world, you’re just a bunch of pervs:

Women in space-colony fiction have generally been presented as sexy walking vaginas, whose main purpose is to provide the male astronauts with a place to dock their penis at night. This being necessary in order to “ensure the survival of the species”.

Fiction proves it. Pulp fiction, actually, and quotes from Russian scientists – yes, Russia, the folks who gave us Sputnik, socialism and the lingering iron claw of the KGB. Let’s definitely base our theories about humanity on those guys. Space dudes? All pervy Putins deep down inside.

The prime reason why progressive ideology stinks? It’s as regressive as human nature can possibly get, believing fervently in the inevitable failure of humankind at every turn. Only progressives could turn manifest destiny into manifest failure.

 

Read bullet | Comments »

(At Least) Three Reasons Why Government Being in the Broadband Business is a Terrible Idea

Monday, April 27th, 2015 - by Seton Motley

Likely the least regulated private economic sector going into the Age of the Barack Obama Administration – at least at the federal level – was the Internet.  Which is largely why the Web has become an ever-evolving, free speech-free market Xanadu.

This Administration views this is a tremendous failing – that they are rushing to rectify.

Just after this last election, the President’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – at the interloping behest of the President his own self – imposed two huge Internet power grabs.

There has been much examination of the ridiculous Network Neutrality grab – where the Feds will now slam down onto the Net the ridiculous tax and regulatory superstructure that is 1930s landline telephone laws.

Let’s look at the other.

FCC Overturns State Laws Limiting Government Broadband

How’s that for federalism?  Where in the Constitution is the federal government empowered to do that?

Why are there twenty states with laws limiting their local governments from getting into the broadband business?

Reason 1: Government stinks at doing…well, just about everything.

Government couldn’t make money selling sex.  So it probably shouldn’t be in the business of trying to be a business.  ObamaCare, anyoneVeterans AdministrationPostal serviceTrains?

The federal government is over $18 trillion in debt.  It clearly stinks at doing…well, just about everything.

Twenty states watched local governments throughout the nation fail spectacularly over and over again at being Internet providers.  Often residents of entire states end up on the hook to bailout the failed local government attempts.  So these twenty decided to pass laws to limit the damage.

The only question is – what are the other thirty states thinking?

The Administration, of course, steamrolled the states showing eminently good sense.

Government getting into the Internet business is an egregiously bad idea in at least two other ways.

Reason 2: Government is the referee – and playing for the opposing team.

Far and away the biggest impediments to private Internet providers being Internet providers – are local governments.

Local governments and their public utilities charge (Internet Service Providers) ISPs far more (for building rights) than these things actually cost. For example, rights of way and pole attachments fees can double the cost of network construction….

These (government) incumbents – the real monopolists – also have the final say on whether an ISP can build a network. They determine what hoops an ISP must jump through to get approval.

This reduces the number of potential competitors who can profitably deploy service.… The lack of competition makes it easier for local governments and utilities to charge more for rights of way and pole attachments.

It’s a vicious circle…(A) system of forced kickbacks….(also) includ(ing) ISPs…building out service where it isn’t demanded, donating equipment, and delivering free broadband to government buildings.

Think about these local governments – which hold the fate of every private Internet provider in their greedy, giant hands – also competing with them as Internet providers.

Think the government shakedowns are bad now?  Think its hard to get the government to grant you permission to do business now?  Wait until the government is trying to sell what you’re trying to sell.

And government can ultimately do this:

The Postal Service (USPS) has a legal government monopoly on delivering first-class mail…. (Prospective competitors) are required by law to charge a high minimum price and cannot undercut USPS rates.

Reason 3: Government is taxing private providers – and using that money to fund competitors to these private providers.

Imagine if Office Depot could tax Office Max – and use that money to fund Office Depot.

Nearly every local government taxes Internet providers (I’d bet it’s every – I’m playing a safety).  Which means Internet providers that pays taxes to local governments that are in the Internet provider business – are funding competitors to their businesses.

All of this is a lot of things.  It certainly ain’t fair – and it certainly ain’t additionally competitive.

For these reasons – and many, MANY more – governments should as always rigorously adhere to the Yellow Pages Rule:

If you can find it in the Yellow Pages, the government shouldn’t be doing it.

Read bullet | Comments »

Man Shoots Computer, Cited by Police

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015 - by The Tatler

A man in Colorado got a little frustrated with his home computer and pumped eight bullets into the machine. He was cited by police.

Lucas Hinch, 37, of Colorado Springs, accepted his citation with good humor, police told the Colorado Springs Gazette. According to the paper, Hinch told officers that he hadn’t realized that he was breaking the law when he brought the computer into an alley and blasted away.

bulletcomputer

He was cited for discharging a firearm in the city.

Police Lt. Jeff Strossner did not want to say what what kind of computer it was but “he got tired of fighting with [it] for the last several months.”

We hear you, Lucas.

The computer was disabled as a result of the shots. A judge will decide what the penalty will be for Mr. Hinch.

Read bullet | 13 Comments »

Colorado Man Cited for Shooting His Computer

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015 - by Chris Queen

Any IT technician will tell you that it’s not wise to take matters into your own hands. Most computer users should leave it to the professionals. Lucas Hinch, 37 of Colorado Springs, didn’t believe that advice, so he riddled his computer with bullets and walked away from the experience with a citation for discharging a weapon in public. The police language is priceless.

According to the Colorado Springs Police Department, officers responding last night to a 911 call about shots fired discovered that a “fed up” Lucas Hinch took his computer into a back alley and “fired 8 shots into the computer with a handgun, effectively disabling it.”

Hinch, 38, was cited for discharging a firearm within city limits, according to a police blotter entry that includes the summary description “Man Kills His Computer.”

When asked about the shooting, Hinch [said], “I just had it,” adding that he tired of the balky computer’s “blue screen of death.” Hinch said that he whacked the computer with a 9mm Hi-Point pistol recently purchased from a Craigslist seller. The gun was seized by police, who left the computer behind.

The late Dell XPS 410 model, seen in the above police evidence photo, is survived by a monitor and a keyboard.

The ponytailed Hinch operates a homeopathic herb store out of the apartment he shares with his girlfriend. He massacred the computer in the alley behind the house. If only he’d had some kind of all-natural remedy to help him relax.

The lesson here, kids, is simple: leave your IT problems to the professionals. Chances are the bill from a technician or shop will be cheaper than a fine and court costs.

Photo courtesy of The Smoking Gun

Read bullet | 8 Comments »

There’s an App for That: Medical Marijuana Delivery

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 - by The Tatler

Yesterday on 4/20 at 4:20p.m. a new app launched called Nugg, which will allow patients in Southern California  to order medical marijuana and schedule deliveries and pickups.

And the app isn’t just notable for what it does, it’s notable for how the money was raised to build it.

The Web-based app was developed by a trio of USC students who raised $100,000 not from friends and family, the usual way to get a business started, but by referring riders to the ride-hailing service Lyft. Lyft pays a commission of $10 to $20 each for rider referrals; Alex Milligan and two friends created a network of referral hunters, mostly on college campuses, and split the proceeds earned through signing up 30,000 riders.

Here’s the way the app works:

On Nugg’s website, users can search for nearby medical marijuana dispensaries, browse their offerings and request a pickup or delivery.

Users have the option of heading to the dispensary to pick up an order made through Nugg or having it delivered by drivers who work for the dispensary.

When people sign up to use the service, they must take a picture of their driver’s license and other ID and a doctor’s note. Nugg then checks with the doctor to confirm the prescription.

Right now, the company is focusing on educating its potential consumer base, from college students to the elderly. “They understand cannabis in different languages, so it’s a balance between providing too little introduction and too much information that it becomes too complex,” Milligan said.

Read bullet | Comments »

U.S. Will Become Net Exporter of Natural Gas by 2017

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Via Reuters:

The United States will transition from a net importer of natural gas to a net exporter of the fuel by 2017 as the nation’s shale gas production continues to grow, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Tuesday in its Annual Energy Outlook.

In its 2014 outlook, the EIA forecast the U.S. would become a net exporter of gas before 2020.

The EIA said increases in domestic gas production are expected to reduce demand for gas imports from Canada and support growth in exports to Mexico, Asia and Europe.

This would be an even shorter timetable if the anti-science enviro loons weren’t standing in the way.

This is progress that American workers and the economy should be welcoming all around but well-funded people are using debunked studies to prevent fracking in places where huge shale reserves exist.

Perhaps we can soon elect a president who isn’t in the pockets of the debunked junk people.

Read bullet | Comments »

Great News: In-flight WiFi Could Help Hackers Bring Down the Plane

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Comforting.

Commercial airliners could be hacked in flight by passengers using a plane’s wireless entertainment system to access its flight controls, a US watchdog agency has warned.

A new report from the US Government Accountability Office identified the danger as one of several emerging cybersecurity weaknesses that the Federal Aviation Administration must address as the air traffic control systems move toward next generation technology.

“Internet connectivity in the cabin should be considered a direct link between the aircraft and the outside world, which includes potential malicious actors,” the report said.

As someone who has been a frequent flyer for decades, I was always hoping that technological advancements would make flying safer, not bring about something new to worry about. The thought of some disgruntled hacker (have you ever met a gruntled hacker?) taking out his break-up on a passenger jet turns air travel into a potential Stephen King novel.

Honestly, I am one of the few frequent flyers I know who hasn’t really welcomed in-flight WiFi. One of my favorite things about being on a plane is being disconnected from the world for a few hours.

Hey, I’m just trying to keep everyone safe.

Read bullet | 15 Comments »

Egyptian TV Host Begs Netanyahu to Bomb Iran

Monday, April 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Via IMRA:

“Our dear friend Netanyahu. Please – Iran faces you and the Bushehr reactor faces you. Put your trust in God and bomb it. We are with you. And if you need fuel for the jets we will give it to you.”

Those were the words of Egyptian television presenter Tawfik Okasha, owner of the private television station Al-Faraeen. Okasha notedly despises both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. He openly advocates Arab tourism to Israel on his television station. Okasha is not the only Egyptian television host to speak out in support of Netanyahu.

Yet, Okasha’s support for Israel may be convoluted at best. A “staunch supporter” of Egypt’s ruling military council, Okasha has also accused the Obama administration of rigging previous Egyptian elections in favor of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi, “as part of a plot to seize Egyptian oil fields and turn them over to Israel.” His conspiracy theory-esque logic has earned him the dubious title of Egypt’s “Glenn Beck.”

Read bullet | 13 Comments »

Should the Right Reject a Feminism That Fights for Men?

Monday, April 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The Telegraph has picked up on one of the equity feminists breaking new ground in the War on Men, American Enterprise Institute’s resident scholar, Christina Hoff Sommers. With more than 2 million views, her Factual Feminist series is drawing some serious attention from a mainstream media bogged down by the likes of Jessica Valenti and her contemporary feminist man-hating ilk. How did these man-haters grab the spotlight? Hoff Sommers explains:

“…In the early 1990s, I – along with several other feminist scholars (Wendy Kaminer, Daphne Patai, Camille Paglia, Mary Lefkowitz, Katie Roiphe, to name only a few) – went to battle against hard-line, sex-panicked conspiracy feminists like Andrea Dworkin. My side won the arguments, but their side quietly assumed all of the assistant professorships. So colleges are now full of gender scholars who instruct students on the ravages of the capitalist, heterero-patriachal system and its ‘rape culture’. Everywhere we hear about ‘micro-aggressions’, ‘trigger-warnings’, and the toxicity of masculinity. It’s as if George Orwell’s Junior Anti-sex League has occupied feminism.”

So, with a host of feminists like Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia actively advocating for men, should conservatives simply toss off feminism as a man-hating movement that’s past its prime? The social media stats say it’s time to get on the countercultural feminist bandwagon.

Read bullet | Comments »

Putin Delivers Missile Air Defense Systems to Iran Days After ‘Historic’ Negotiations

Monday, April 13th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Days after the infamous nuclear agreement with Iran, Vladimir Putin has elected to lift the ban on delivering S-300 missile air defense systems to Iran:

The Russian president has repealed the ban prohibiting the delivery of S-300 missile air defense systems to Iran, according to the Kremlin’s press service. The ban was introduced by former President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010.

“[The presidential] decree lifts the ban on transit through Russian territory, including airlift, and the export from the Russian Federation to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also the transfer to the Islamic Republic of Iran outside the territory of the Russian Federation, both by sea and by air, of air defense missile systems S-300,” says the information note accompanying the document, RIA Novosti reported.

The decree enters into force upon the president’s signature.

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

Israel has monitored this transaction for years with Netanyahu coming out strongly against Putin’s rumored sale of the S-300 systems to Syria nearly two years ago. Russia has been seen as Tehran’s strongest ally throughout the recent negotiations, prompting one analyst to warn:

Russia’s warming relationship with Iran and its wider policies toward the Middle East pose significant challenges to U.S. security interests, and Washington should tailor its approach to dealmaking and Russia diplomacy accordingly.

…Both countries also oppose any attempts to support democratic movements in the Middle East. Most notably, they continue to back the Assad regime in Syria and hold similar views on the Taliban in Afghanistan.

 

Read bullet | Comments »

School District Releases Sensitive Student Data and Parent ‘Cooperativeness’ Ratings

Thursday, April 9th, 2015 - by Paula Bolyard

Feel free to use this image just link to www.rentvine.com

Parents were outraged to learn that the Tewksbury Public School District in Massachusetts released a 200-page document last week that included sensitive student data, including parental cooperative ratings.

According to the Tewksbury Town Crier:

The list, which replaces student names with numbers, remains in alphabetical order. Information included the student’s current grade, the out-of-district school, the last school attended, the year the student began attending the new school, information on whether or not the decision was made by the IEP team, a legal settlement (typically kept strictly confidential), or if the student moved in from another town, and miscellaneous detail such as the involvement of the Department of Children and Families, passage of MCAS assessments, and more.

The office of Student Services also published its rating of parents according to their ‘cooperativeness with the district.’ Parents rated a ‘1’ are cooperative, ‘2’ somewhat cooperative, and those rated ‘3’ are ‘not cooperative.’

The newspaper says it was able to easily identify a number of the families in the report and they were contacted by others who were able to identify additional families.

Asked about the cooperation ratings, Superintendent Dr. John O’Connor said, “Probably the choice of wording for the descriptor in the heading should be something different. We were trying to convey to the school committee and finance committee, even if we were to build programs, I’m not certain that all of the families with children who might benefit from the program would want to come back. That is the explanation for that.”

Parents were understandably outraged at the privacy violation and at what they feel is the district’s disrespect for parents of special-needs students.

School districts are collecting more and more information about school children — in fact, it’s a requirement of Common Core — and despite the promises that “no personally identifiable information” will ever be released without parental permission, the example above shows how, even when names are removed, students can still be identified. The promises that our children’s data will be kept private are only as good as the administrators who control that data.

 

Read bullet | 21 Comments »

How One Israeli Social Media App Is Revolutionizing the 2016 Campaign

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

According to the Columbia Journalism Review, apps like Meerkat are changing political journalism, putting the power of the message into the hands of the candidates, not the mainstream media. Mere days after its debut at SXSW, Jeb Bush jumped on the Meerkat bandwagon, livestreaming his appearance on the Hugh Hewitt show. Yet, the technology isn’t without VEEP-esque risk:

Still, the apps create opportunities to catch candidates in uncomfortable positions. Gaffes have become a business for accountability groups, like Media Matters and America Rising. The latter deploys dozens of ‘trackers’ to follow and film democratic candidates.

The better the information flow, the better the backbiting.

 

Read bullet | 6 Comments »

WATCH: Edward Snowden Gets Called on the Carpet by Fake Journalist

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

John Oliver, HBO’s own version of Jon Stewart who hosts This Week with John Oliver (yes, HBO’s version of The Daily Show) managed to finally nail Edward Snowden to the carpet. Unlike every other journalist who treats Snowden as a modern day prophet, Oliver confronts the former NSA contractor for what he truly is: A computer geek who got his hands on the goods and saw dollar signs. I guess Snowden followed the Pelosi principle: You have to pass the information along you know, make it public, before you can read it yourself.

Read bullet | Comments »

Comforting: FAA Hit with Cyber Attack Earlier This Year

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Fly the hacking skies…

Hackers spread malicious software through a computer network at the Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year, the agency said.

The administrative computer system was affected by a “known virus” that passed from computer to computer via email, NextGov reported late Monday.

The FAA told the publication that it identified no damage to agency systems after a “thorough review.”

The cyberattack was evident from an April 2 interim contract solicitation for the FAA’s Cybersecurity Management Center Security Operations Center.

“Due to a recent cyber-attack, the FAA requires additional planning time to determine the impact,” the notice stated.
It is not clear who was behind the cyberattack or what their intentions were.

This report is rather vague and such is the level of my suspicion of all things government that I immediately thought, “This was probably worse than they’re letting on.”

It is an odd little world we live in, where the good and bad guys are fluid groups depending upon present needs. In this case, one hopes that the government computer people can stay ahead of the computer people who would disrupt air travel.

Then again, do we want to root for the government computer people to become too powerful?

You can see why I don’t sleep much.

Read bullet | Comments »

‘Everyone Here is a Spy’: ISIS Backers Warn Followers to Mind Islamic State Secrets

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 - by Bridget Johnson

Warning of spies crawling around social media creating “fake muhajir” accounts in an effort to net supporters of the Islamic State, ISIS backers instructed followers in a message posted on a file-sharing site today to mind their personal information and Islamic State secrets.

“Although it would be nice to assume that most of us aren’t spies we cant be careless about it. USA is running thousands of undercover accounts on Twitter for intelligence gathering and combating us,” the message states.

It warns they have to distance themselves from users “obviously creating a fitna to break our bonds” as they’re “probably a man in a office building somewhere following a plan.”

“So instead of assuming that most of us aren’t spies, assume the opposite, that most of us ARE spies or undercover.”

ISIS supporters are then encouraged to keep all of their personal information under wraps on social media, including pictures of “cute babies or pets” and any “pictures that can…be linked to the real you.”

They’re encouraged to limit direct messaging on Twitter, lest personal information slip, and told to watch what they say about Islamic State operations. “Don’t share IS movements if you have knowledge. Don’t share unknown military capabilities (like saying that IS has AA missiles in a location).”

“Some people tweet screenshots where their carriers can be seen or are otherwise not careful about concealing what country they live in. Guess what? Yeah you guessed right, the kuffar are tracking your account and when you get suspended they will find your new account,” the message continues. “So what you might wonder. Well when they raid your house and they link all your accounts to YOU then you will face months if not years in jail. You will face consequence that will follow you throughout your life for something as stupid as this.”

“You think you are safe from ‘consequences’ because this is the virtual battleground? Akh Shami might face life in jail,
because he tweeted info and did otherwise benign stuff while some of you are tweeting day and night about beheadings.”

That’s a reference to Mehdi Masroor Biswas, a 24-year-old IT worker who ran the Shami Witness Twitter account and was eventually busted by Bangalore authorities. He faces years in prison on charges of “waging war against any Asiatic power in alliance with the Government of India.”

“To conclude everyone here is a spy and don’t trust anyone with any information, Muslim lives depend on it!” the ISIS tip sheet ends.

Read bullet | Comments »

Are Millennials Putting the ‘Cult’ in 21st Century ‘Corporate Culture’?

Monday, April 6th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

According to USA Today, “Millennial workers want free meals and flex time” but there’s more to it than that. Look beyond the requests for flex time and generous perks like on-site massages and game rooms, and you’ll see a generation of workers demanding a workplace with all the comforts of, well, family.

When Jena Pellegrino, a 26-year old media assistant, decided to branch out in her career, she wound up coming right back to where she started, the perk-rich company Lockard & Wechsler (LWD), an agency best known as the marketing genius behind the Snuggie. Why? She details,

The perks she enjoyed at her former employer weren’t standard at her new job. She missed working in a smaller company with access to senior co-workers, generous personal time and a teamwork philosophy.

After nine months, she decided to take a chance and called her boss to ask for her old job back. After some negotiations, she was back.

“I felt I wanted to be in a company that treats you like family,” she says.

Millennials are flocking to companies like LWD that offer everything from pool and ping-pong to work-from-home options and corporate Thanksgiving dinners. Perhaps it is because when employees are nestled in the warm, safe bosom of company life, they don’t mind mixing work with pleasure, even if it means taking it home. According to the experts:

…millennials don’t mind working at home or the overlap between work and their personal life… By 2025, 75% of the American workforce will be millennial workers and employers will have to adapt to the market…

Sounds like corporate culture will be shifting just in time to welcome all those Common Core babies into a job market for which they’ve been bureaucratically trained on a national scale. Enticing as they may seem, will corporate perks be enough to ward off the kind of anti-family, death-inducing work stress found in other Common Core-esque nations? Time will tell.

 

Read bullet | Comments »

Is It Militant Atheists Who Run the New Canada?

Saturday, April 4th, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle

lunney

 

What does it say to persecuted Christians who’ve fled to Canada as refugees, just to see their beliefs being trashed by militant atheists after they get here?

That’s one of the thought-provoking observations MP James Lunney made during this lengthy interview with Brian Lilley of TheRebel.media.

Lunney was a Conservative MP, but last week he changed his party affiliation to “independent” and stepped down from the Conservative caucus after being “caught up in a controversy over evolution.”

Lunney, who has degrees in zoology and chemistry, says all these insidious Twitter campaigns are an attempt to “trap social conservatives” and keep them out of politics and the public square.

He also explains that supporters of Darwin are often unable to explain their own views coherently, citing celebrity atheist Richard Dawkins who, while rejecting the idea of God, posited space aliens as a possible source of life on Earth (!?)

You won’t want to miss this wide-ranging interview, that’s gotten quite a bit of attention up north:

YouTube Preview Image

Read bullet | 30 Comments »

The Pentagon Gets ‘NSA Proof’ Phones

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

Apparently the Defense Department doesn’t care for the government panopticon and has rolled out some “supersecret smartphones” for work use.

The stealth phone is made by the company Silent Circle, founded by a former Navy Seal and an inventor of PGP encryption, Mike Janke and Phil Zimmerman.  The company was originally started as a California corporation but Silent Circle scooted out of the country once the NSA started demanding back-door access from communication companies offering encrypted technology along with their customers’ user logs.

As part of limited trials, U.S. military personnel are using the device, encrypted with secret code down to its hardware, to communicate “for both unclassified and classified” work, Silent Circle chairman Mike Janke told Nextgov.

The Silent Circle smartphone was released in 2014 and the Pentagon signed on despite the fact that the phone is now headquartered and manufactured in Switzerland.

The “wild thing about it is, we’re a Swiss firm,” Janke said Monday. “Our phones aren’t produced in the U.S., but because of the fact that [DOD] can test our phone in a lab — they can look at the code that’s open source — they’ve been testing it for a year now and using it.”

One of the more useful features of the phone is the differentiated “spaces” where a user can have a personal space, with typical personal information and apps, and also a work “space” that is encrypted.

The feds have “encouraged” communication providers to install backdoors into their technology in case the authorities need to monitor citizens’ private business. (The government regulates the telecoms so it’s not really as “volunteer” as it sounds.) “The concern, they say, is that bad actors, including terrorists and pedophiles, are using encryption tools to mask their identities, whereabouts and illegal operations,” writes Nextgov.

“We believe that encrypted and secure communications and devices are a given right whether you are working for DOD or you’re working for a human rights group in Botswana,” Janke said. “We speak out about governments of the world vacuuming up, abusing the privacy rights of their citizens, but we produce hardware and software that works for governments as well as human rights activists equally.”

It’s not just the DOD that wants encrypted cell phones. Silent Circle has many Fortune 500 clients and counts 14 governments around the world as customers.

Visit the Silent Circle website here.

 

Read bullet | Comments »

United Arab Army Forms in Wake of Obama’s Iranian Negotiations

Monday, March 30th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The New York Times reports:

The Arab states said on Sunday that they had agreed to form a combined military force to counter both Iranian influence and Islamist extremism, a gesture many analysts attributed in large part to their drive for more independence from Washington.

The agreement came as American and other Western diplomats in Lausanne, Switzerland, were racing to beat a self-imposed deadline of Tuesday to reach a deal with Iran that would restrict its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of economic sanctions. In response, Saudi Arabia and other American allies in the region have made clear that they are seeking to bolster independent regional security measures because they see the proposed accord as a betrayal of Washington’s commitment to their security.

In other words, not only does Congress not trust Barry. Not only does Netanyahu not trust Barry. Now nearly the entirety of the Arab world doesn’t trust Barry to the point that they’re uniting and forming their own military force?

Could it be that they feel Obama has declared a War on Muslims?

This wouldn’t be the first iteration of an Arab League coalition force. First formed in 1945, the force quickly disbanded after attacking and losing to the nascent Israeli Army in 1948.

Read bullet | 5 Comments »

Would You Let Apple Store Employees Give You Fashion Advice?

Thursday, March 26th, 2015 - by The Tatler

As the debut of the Apple watch approaches, Apple is training its employees to offer consumers fashion advice.

In order to showcase and sell the Apple Watch, retail employees will be trained to provide personal fashion and styling advice to customers, according to employees briefed on the plans.

Apple is training its retail force to “build trust, enabling the employee to serve as a valued fashion advisor during the purchase process.” The  new sales techniques will “encourage iPhone upgrades, assist with gifting, and guide customers in watch and strap choices.”

Some of the things you might hear if you approach an salesman in an Apple store are:  “you seem to have a fun style. I think the Pink Sport band would match your style perfectly,” or “the white strap looks great on you.”

Other sales guidelines:

  • Make comments about why you think an option is a good choice rather than discussing why an option may not be a good choice.
  • Explain how earlier customers made decisions between models.
  • Use other accessories [already] on a customer as examples for which model would look best.
  • If the customer is with another person, make sure to get the opinion of that person on which model should be purchased.
  • Don’t focus on price as a reason to recommend an option because many customers may be willing to spend more for a model that makes them feel good.

The Apple Watch will go on sale April 24th.

Read bullet | Comments »

What About Butt-Dialing? Google Will Keep Your Phone Unlocked While It’s on Your Body

Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - by The Tatler

As the battle to secure our digital mobile equipment continues forward, Google has just upped the ante. A new feature in the Android operating system allows a user to keep his phone locked unless it is physically on his body.  “A number of Android owners have spotted a new feature that keeps the phone constantly unlocked as long as it’s in a person’s hand, resting on their leg or even just sitting in a pocket.”

The feature uses the phone’s accelerometer to know when the phone is in use or being handled, only locking the phone when it is placed on a flat surface.

Android Police first noticed the feature when it appeared on the Nexus 4, a Google device, running the operating system Lollipop.

The on-body detection menu explained: ‘The feature uses your device’s accelerometer to detect whether your device is still being carried on the body.

‘If your device detects that it’s no longer being held, your device won’t stay unlocked.’

It’s not entirely an airtight security measure. If the phone is unlocked and handed to another person, the phone will stay unlocked. Another critical issue is butt-dialing. If the phone is in your pocket, will it be locked or unlocked?

Android also has a useful security measure called “face unlock,” which made an appearance in an earlier version, Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.

Both security features require the user to “opt-in” to use — so if you still want to use a password or fingerprint reader, you can.

 

 

Read bullet | 5 Comments »

Feds Release New Fracking Regulations Based on Debunked Studies

Friday, March 20th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Oh-oh, the government is “helping” again.

“This updated and strengthened rule provides a framework of safeguards and disclosure protocols that will allow for the continued responsible development of our federal oil and gas resources,” she said in a statement.

The Interior Department said more than 100,000 oil and gas wells exist currently on land managed by the federal government. Of those, more than 90 percent use hydraulic fracturing.

Rules that go into force in 90 days call for higher standards to mitigate environmental risks, increased transparency about the chemicals used during the hydraulic fracturing process and provisions to ensure groundwater supplies are protected.

This is the administration responding directly to anti-fracking enviroloons whose entire movement is based upon studies that are routinely proven to be flawed and/or flat-out wrong. Fracking is ushering in an era of energy independence that the greenies desperately wanted to save for themselves. They’re appalled that something might undermine their incessant pleas for federal money to explore alternative energy sources that haven’t had any large-scale viability, for the most part.

They’ve gotten a blank check from Team Lightbringer but that gravy train will hopefully be completely derailed if the “right” Republican is elected president in 2016.

Read bullet | Comments »

Customs Testing Biometric Scanners at Airports and Border

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Via The Verge:

The United States’ Customs and Border Patrol is testing out an ambitious new set of biometric programs, according to a pair of reports in Motherboard. The first leg of the program is a facial recognition system to be used in airport security checks, and is already being tested at Washington’s Dulles airport. The system is designed to check passport photos against a person’s actual face as they pass through customs, producing a result in just five to seven seconds. The system is still experimental and it’s planned with limited data storage, but there are already concerns about privacy issues if the system were ever connected to a larger database.

The other legs of the program are more experimental and potentially far more far-reaching in their effects. As part of the Biometric Entry and Exit program, Customs is testing fingerprint and iris scanners along the Mexican border that would verify when a certain person had left the country. First tested in Iraq and Afghanistan, iris scanning technology has become increasingly common in border crossings, and companies are already marketing the scanners to domestic police. Customs is still gauging how effective the devices will be and deciding whether to deploy them more broadly, but if the system is adopted, it could have troubling implications for citizens’ biometric privacy as they cross the border.

Gotta love the obligatory mention of privacy concerns at the end. I am most definitely not against questions of privacy (see my immediately previous post), I am just not certain that we can adequately police our borders and keep everyone’s feelings unhurt and identities private. In fact, the border is one of the few places that people like me who aren’t huge fans of the federal government wish it would have a more severe and active presence. I would much rather it be harsh at the border than generous with citizens’ tax dollars to the people it let in because it wasn’t.

Read bullet | Comments »

FAA Green-Lights Testing for Amazon Delivery Drones

Thursday, March 19th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

“My package crashed?!?”

Amazon finally got the federal greenlight Thursday to send its drones into the skies — but only as a test.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced that it has granted Amazon Logistics, a subsidiary of the Internet retail giant, approval for a drone design that the company plans to use for research, development and training.

The approval comes with restrictions similar to those the agency has already imposed on drones’ use by Hollywood studios: Amazon’s drones must stay below 400 feet and can fly only during daylight hours, with the pilot maintaining a visual line-of-sight. Drone operators must have at least a private pilot’s license.

Those limits are probably much tougher than what the company would want when it eventually seeks to use drones to deliver packages around the country — a concept that generated much hype after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos unveiled it on “60 Minutes” in 2013.

I love technology and I love Amazon, but I have to admit that these mini drones freak me out a little.

First, it seems like a logistical nightmare to get these things humming around large cities where Amazon does a lot of deliveries.

Second, there seem to be a creepy downside or two, especially when it comes to surveillance. I am not exactly sure who will make it creepy, I am just convinced that someone eventually will.

You’ll remember I said that when one of these is hovering outside your bathroom window twenty years from now.

Read bullet | Comments »

GOP Sacrifices Property Rights to Win Over Silicon Valley

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 - by Seton Motley

As an adult, watching a fifth grade boy who obviously likes a fifth grade girl is at once amusing – and nostalgically bittersweet.  The shyness, the awkwardness, the indecision.  But mostly, it’s the limitless lengths to which the boy will go to try to please the girl.

Hopefully, we as men and women grow out of this – and at least get a little better at wooing others.  Sadly, the Republican Party’s crush on Silicon Valley has not advanced past the elementary school stage.

The GOP wants the Silicon Valley’s love.  And by love we mean the millions of donation dollars that currently go mostly to Democrats.  And sadly, it appears some Republicans will go to nearly any length to curry some of that coin.

Including giving up core conservative principles.  Currently on the Win Your Love sacrificial altar – private property rights.

Behold Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch’s latest love missive to their Valley Girl.  Published in the Valley’s Tiger Beat - Wired.

It’s Time to Kill Patent Trolls for Good

Since 2011, Overstock.com, from my home state of Utah, has been targeted by 28 so-called patent “trolls,” seeking to enforce vague patents.

Patents are private property – and deserve all the protections a personal parcel of land does.

If a patent is vague, that is the fault of the U.S. government – the Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) – for approving it.  Once the USPTO approves, though, that patent is private property – with all the ownership rights pertaining thereto.

If Overstock doesn’t like it – work with Congress to tighten up the USPTO’s approval process.  Don’t get government to undermine a fundamental component of our intellectual property system.

Behold the fundamental issue in this whole “patent troll” discussion.  We don’t need “patent troll” reform – we need Patent Office reform.

Often these trolling lawsuits come from shell corporations that don’t make or sell anything.

“Shell companies” – otherwise known as property owners.  These companies in many cases purchased the patents from those who invented the patent-able product – the people from whom sprung forth the miracle that is creation.

Inventors often have zero desire to actually implement their ideas.  Their joy is in the inventing.  They are often more than happy to sell an idea (to a “shell company”) – to fund their work on their next idea.

This is an amazing, virtuous cycle of innovation.  Why would we want to fundamentally undermine it?

(P)atent trolls are crippling growth across all sectors of our innovation economy – from small businesses to America’s largest companies.

There’s a very easy way to avoid this litigation, Ladies and Gentlemen – pay the people whose property you are using.  Or don’t use it.

If I were squatting in your office building and renting the space out – would you be pleased if I got Congress to outlaw your ability to collect rent or evict me?  You absolutely would not.  Congratulations – you’re an “office troll.”

This is the Silicon Valley looking to “rent seek” – which means getting government to pass laws that tilt the playing field in their favor.  And, of course, getting favors from government costs money – otherwise known as political donations.

Of course Democrats are – as always – for Crony Socialist sale.  It’s disheartening when the allegedly free market, private-property-protecting Republicans are too.

Hey GOP – sometimes the girl ain’t worth it.

Read bullet | Comments »

FCC Inspector General Investigating Net Neutrality Decision

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 - by Stephen Kruiser

Any stall is a good stall on this issue.

The Federal Communications Commission’s inspector general has opened an investigation into how the agency arrived at its new rules for Internet service providers, U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz said on Tuesday.

The office of the FCC inspector general recently informed Chaffetz’s House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that they are investigating the process through which the FCC arrived at new “net neutrality” rules, the Republican lawmaker told reporters after a hearing.

FCC Inspector General David Hunt was not reachable and his office did not immediately confirm that they have opened such an investigation. FCC spokeswoman Kim Hart referred inquiries to that office.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told Chaffetz at the hearing he was unaware of the investigation but would cooperate with it.

Republicans have accused the FCC, an independent agency, of being unduly influenced by the White House in setting stricter Internet traffic rules earlier this year.

It may not be easy to prove whether Wheeler is nothing more than The Idiot King’s puppet, but it is worth a try. Then again, this administration has gotten so brazen that they may have left some evidence out there.

Net Neutrality needs to be kneecapped as quickly as possible, by whatever means. Maybe I worry too much, we probably won’t have any Internet access once China takes over the United States anyway.

Read bullet | Comments »

Mozilla Quickly Removes Feminazi-Themed App from Site

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Mozilla acted quickly to remove a hilariously controversial app, Men Kampf, from its site out of fear of radical feminist retribution.

Beta News reports:

Mozilla could soon find itself at the center of a new controversy, as it just approved a Firefox extension, called Men Kampf, designed with the sole purpose of replacing so-called “radfem rethoric [sic] with nazi friendly alternatives”.

Men Kampf scans the page that the Firefox user visits for any words considered to be linked to feminism — certainly not radical feminism, as claimed in the description — and replaces them, on the fly, with said “alternatives”. As such, an article about feminism will quickly appear to be one about nazism. The developer behind the extension, Erim Secla, says that it’s all “just for fun” in Men Kampf’s description.

…Men Kampf is apparently inspired by a Chrome extension called “Man Kampf” (in reality, it’s called Men Kampf and is available in the Chrome Web Store), which is equally offensive. The Chrome counterpart “Turns SJW nonsense into pro-Nazi propaganda. Changes words such as ‘Men’ into ‘Jews’ to make any radical feminist post sound like something straight out of Hitler’s mouth!”, claims its developer in the description.

While Men Kampf is no longer available through Firefox, it is still available for download through Google Chrome where users have given it a 4.5 star rating.

Read bullet | 12 Comments »

The FAA Doesn’t Want You Posting Drone Videos on the Internet

Monday, March 16th, 2015 - by Liz Sheld

The Federal Aviation Administration has begun a crackdown on people who post videos taken from their drones on the internet. The first shot came last week, when the FAA sent a four-page letter to a drone hobbyist.

Jayson Hanes, a drone hobbyist, was issued a cease-and-desist letter from the Federal Aviation Administration on Monday that warned him he’d violated drone regulations by using drones for commercial use without proper authorization.

The FAA letter says that the agency had received a complaint the drone video was being used for commercial purposes and determined the complaint was valid.

“This office has received a complaint regarding your use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (aka drone) for commercial purposes referencing your video on the web site Youtube.com as evidence.

“After a review of your web site, it does appear that the complaint is valid.”

It’s not clear what exactly the FAA means by “commercial purposes.” Are they claiming he was selling his video? Are they claiming he was selling something that was video-taped by the drone, like a house or a car?

According to FoxNews 13, Hanes isn’t making any money off his videos.

“I have never accepted a payment from Google, or YouTube in any shape or form for this,” Hanes said. “They maybe enabled it to collect page-views, but I’m not getting paid for it. This is not a commercial operation, I’m not selling anything. If anything, it’s YouTube trying to recover costs for hosting the content and making it available on their platform.” (You can visit Haynes’ YouTube channel here: http://youtube.com/jaysonhanes)

The agency, like all government agencies, has the authority to initiate a legal action and levy a fine against Mr. Hanes. In fact the letter explains that “the FAA has the authority under its existing regulations to pursue legal enforcement actions when the operations endanger the safety of the National Airspace System.” So apparently we are to believe this guy’s drone videos “endanger the safety of the National Airspace System” too.

Fox News 13 explains that “the FAA is interested is the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles — which some call drones — falls under a different category than hobbyist or recreational model aircraft.” But it seems the FAA has confused the commercial nature of YouTube with the users of the YouTube’s service.

I imagine this issue will ultimately play out in a court room somewhere.

 

 

Read bullet | Comments »