Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category
By Ben Hart
The U.S. government today is in possession of technology that tyrants of yesteryear would have salivated over.
This technology is quickly turning America into an electronic prison from which escape to freedom is nearly impossible (because the alternatives to America aren’t so good either).
Here’s what’s happening . . .
The U.S. government now tracks, monitors, records, and stores most of your activities and communications. You have no privacy anymore. This means you must be very careful what you say, even what to think . . . because whatever you say, write, or even think can (and probably will) be used against you.
In his great book 1984, George Orwell wrote this:
There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live — did live, from habit that became instinct — in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”
This is the society in which we now live. We are no longer a free people.
Yes, we can live a comfortable life. We can go to work everyday and collect our paychecks. We can watch our TV shows at night and attend sporting events.
The government will even allow a certain amount of criticism of the government.
But that doesn’t mean you are free.
Information is power. Information is the most powerful weapon on the planet.
That’s why blackmail is so effective. Now your government knows everything there is to know about you — or can instantly access this information, as needed to serve its purposes.
The government can use this information to destroy you at any moment, whenever it pleases.
Because there are so many laws and regulations on the books, I have been told by federal prosecutors that the government can convict anyone of a crime if it focuses on someone long enough, searches hard enough through all your records and communications. Now we have computers that can conduct investigations of all of us at lightening speed, with sophisticated algorithms.
Experts say Google is rapidly approaching the point when it will be able to predict whether you are about to commit a crime (just like in the Spielberg movie Minority Report – which had people arrested and convicted before they actually commit the crime).
All this data collection on law-abiding American citizens by the government is, of course, unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment, which states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled throughout America’s history that police cannot conduct dragnets that sweep up innocent citizens in an effort to find criminals. Nor can police or the government rummage through your garbage or personal correspondence to find evidence of a crime without “probable cause” and without a warrant from a court. Warrants can only be issued if there’s evidence that the specific person in question has committed a specific crime. The argument for a warrant must include specific items and evidence police are searching for.
In other words, the bar is supposed to be high for the government to be able to rummage through our lives and things. Clearly, there’s no bar at all anymore. The government now treats the Constitution and Supreme Court rulings as advisory, at best.
The government can (and is pretty much is) doing whatever it wants to us.
We once thought the Internet and all this technology would be a force for liberation across the globe. But instead, this technology is quickly turning into a weapon to make our enslavement by government (in cohoots with mega multinational corporations such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, etc) easier and more efficient than ever.
So Here are 48 facts that tell us America has become a gigantic prison:
FACT #1: Everything Edward Snowden has told us about NSA’s spy program on Americans has proven to be accurate. Actually, the situation is substantially more alarming than what Snowden told us. We now know the NSA is collecting and storing pretty much . . .
- all of our cell phone calls
- all of our emails
- all of our Internet searches
- all of our credit card and financial records
- even our passwords
FACT #2: Edward Snowden reports that the NSA has the ability to track what we are thinking in real time as we are typing on our computer keyboards.
FACT #3: We now know the NSA has the authority to access any of this information on any individual it chooses without a court order “simply based on an analyst deciding that,” according Rep Jerrold Nadler’s (D-NY) account of an intelligence briefing he received. “I was rather startled” to learn this, Nadler said.
FACT #4: There is no time-limit for how long the NSA can keep all this information on law-abiding American citizens. NSA readily admits it plans to keep all this data on every law-abiding American forever.
FACT #5: The NSA is collecting 2.1 million gigabytes of data on all of us every hour.
FACT #6: Overall, Republicans are worse than Democrats on this issue. In a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, 134 Republicans and 83 Democrats voted against putting even modest limits on the NSA’s spying activities on law-abiding Americans.
FACT #7: Republican leaders such as Sen John McCain, Gov Chris Christie, and Congressman Peter King are calling other Republicans, such as Sens Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, “crazy” and “dangerous” for raising concerns about the NSA’s comprehensive spying on the daily activities of every American.
FACT #8: According to NSA whistleblower William Binney, the NSA has a “target list” of somewhere between “500,000 to a million people“.
FACT #9: The NSA is just one of 17 U.S. spy agencies, each with similar data collection programs, all operating in a shroud of secrecy with secret budgets that together total about $80 billion annually.
FACT #10: America is supposed to be a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people ” — but there is no way for voters to hold these spy agencies accountable because we have almost no idea what they are really doing.
FACT #11: But even if most of America’s “low information” voters knew what was happening, it’s unlikely anything would change. Surveys show most Americans support the NSA’s comprehensive spying on every aspect of our lives. In other words, most Americans today have no problem with putting themselves in this electronic prison and throwing away the key.
Obamacare is a Surveillance State Horror
If you thought the NSA’s spying was invasive, understand that Obamacare will completely wipe out the last vestiges of privacy in America.
FACT #12: ObamaCare will be collecting the complete medical records of every American, thereby wiping out the last vestige of privacy in America. Until now, medical record privacy was considered sacrosanct in America.
FACT #13: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress in testimony that the massive ObamaCare “data hub” as it’s called, will interact with the IRS, the Department of Homeland Security, the Veterans Administration, Office of Personnel Management, the Department of Defense, and (for some reason) even the Peace Corps. Plus the Hub will plug into state Medicaid databases.
FACT #14: Sebelius also informs us that the ObamaCare “data hub” will also know your income, Social Security number, size of your family, immigration status, whether or not you’ve even been incarcerated, and your enrollment status in other health plans, among other things. So this will be an identify thief’s dream.
FACT #15: Since the IRS is the enforcer of ObamaCare, the ObamaCare “data hub” will also include all your financial records. Basically, all these government “data hubs” — NSA, Homeland Security, IRS, ObamaCare, FBI, state and local law enforcement (you name it, apparently even including the Peace Corps) — will be linked and talking with each other, constantly sorting and sifting through all your personal data with sophisticated algorithms to keep tabs on you.
FACT #16: Sebelius also notes that ObamaCare’s “data hub” will store data from businesses — to make sure they are complying with ObamaCare mandates.
Your Car is No Longer “The Great American Freedom Machine”
Americans have had a love affair with their cars for more than a century because the automobile has been considered “The Great Freedom Machine.”
Not anymore. The automobile today has become your surefire path to interaction with law enforcement. Your car has become the government’s near foolproof way to know where you are and what you are doing on a daily, if not hourly basis.
FACT #17: Many police today are equipped with computerized scanners that automatically scan every license plate of every car that drives by and stores this information in computerized databases that can be accessed at any time. Soon these license plate scanners will be standard issue for cops.
FACT #18: Toll booths are equipped with similar scanners and video surveillance that is also being stored in vast government databases.
FACT #19: Video monitoring and tracking is quickly being added to nearly every street intersection that has a stop light.
FACT #20: There is hardly a place you can go anymore in public without being video taped. We’ll certainly catch many real criminals this way. Nor is this unconstitutional because you have no expectation of privacy when in public. But this also means your nearly every move when in public is being recorded and stored. So don’t think no one is watching when you pick your nose or scratch an itch.
FACT #21: Soon radar detection will be added to video to automatically catch speeders.It won’t be long before we find video and radar surveillance on every inch of highway. Most police allow you to exceed the speed limit by 8 MPH, especially on interstate highways. But once speed detection on every vehicle on nearly every inch of road is computerized and automated, you’d better be careful to drive a few MPH’s below the speed limit at all times just to be sure not to be flagged.
FACT #22: The Obama Administration is talking openly about requiring so-called “black boxes” in all cars (similar to the black boxes in aircraft) to track such things as: how fast you are going at all times, how much fuel your are consuming, and what you are talking about. The government wants to know exactly what’s going on in your car at all times and where you are at all times.
Less than 200 years ago, the great French writer Alexis de Tocqueville came to America to discover the reasons for America’s stunning success — unparalleled prosperity combined with a level of individual liberty never before seen world history.
Here was one feature of American life that got his attention:
In no country is criminal justice administered with more mildness than in the United States.”
This is no longer the situation:
FACT #23: The United States today has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.
FACT #24: One out of every 100 adults in America is in prison today.
FACT #25: No country in the world has more prisoners per capita than the United States — not even Cuba. (Caveat: We don’t know what’s happening in North Korea)
FACT #26: America has 2.3 million citizens behind bars. China, which still calls itself a Communist country, has 1.6 million people in prison, even though China has four times the population of the United States.
FACT #27: America is the only advanced country to lock people up for crimes that other Western countries consider relatively minor, such as writing bad checks, smoking weed, driving with a suspended license, or other non-violent crimes.
FACT #28: Especially harsh sentences have also become a hallmark of the U.S. criminal justice system. Burglars in the United States serve an average of 16 months in prison, compared with 5 months in Canada and 7 months in England.
FACT #29: The United States is the only advanced Western country that still has the death penalty.
(SIDE NOTE: I have become an opponent of the death penalty because too many mistakes are being made and the death penalty is being used for crimes that don’t merit the death penalty. But that’s a topic for another article).
FACT #30: The death penalty is supposed to be reserved for especially sadistic serial killers, such as a John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy type of serial killer (who kill just because they enjoy killing). But prosecutors in America are increasingly seeking to use the death penalty for crimes that should have been prosecuted as second or third-degree murder. I.e. prosecutors actually sought the death penalty against Casey Anthony. This reckless mom probably killed her baby by accident and covered up the crime. Casey Anthony was certainly no gem, but did not merit the death penalty.
FACT #31: Prosecutors in America today routinely engage in the practice of intentionally over-charging suspects in order to terrorize them into pleading guilty to a lesser charge (even if innocent) in order to save the trouble of going through a trial. The usual proposition goes something like this: “If you make us go to trial, you’ll risk spending the rest of your life in jail. But if you plead guilty to this lesser charge, you’ll spend three years in jail.”
FACT #32: Slipped into the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 2005 was a little noticed provision that empowers law enforcement to collect and permanently retain DNA samples from anyone arrested or detained for any crime whether or not they are convicted, including if pulled over for routine routine traffic violations. The Supreme Court has ruled this is all okay. So watch soon for police to be collecting fingerprint and DNA samples from you when you are stopped for a broken tail light. It’s just a matter now of the police having the right equipment. But that should not take long. These fingerprint and DNA samples will then be stored forever in a national database.
FACT #33: This DNA database is likely (certain) to be expanded to include all Americans under the ObamaCare law as part of the drive to nationalize health care in America. This will be the ultimate invasion of medical privacy, once thought important in America.
FACT #34: The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 forbids the use of military force against American citizens. But the police in America today have become increasingly militarized, equipped now with “shock and awe” military-style weapons. For example, modern armored police vehicles are equipped with a sound device that can stop rioters in their tracks. The FBI admits to using drones over America (a military weapon). In a 2010 the Department of Homeland Security announced that it plans to use armed drones inside America’s borders to “immobilize TOIs” (Targets of Interest.
FACT #35: In the 1960′s and 1970′s courts probably tipped too far in giving every advantage to criminals and hampering police. There is an avalanche of evidence that we have moved too far in the other direction, giving near unlimited power to the police. As a consequence, police have become increasingly free with using excessive force on average citizens who are doing little or nothing wrong. I list some examples here:
- In the summer of 2006, police shot 18 bullets into an 18-year-old girl named Ashley MacDonald — of course, killing her instantly. Her crime: carrying s small knife while running through an empty city park in Huntington Beach, California.
- a 15-man SWAT team smashed down a man’s door over unpaid student loans;
- Police shut down a girl’s lemonade stand (because she did not have a license);
- A cop admitted he plants drugs on innocent people to meet arrest quota. Says this is common practice.
- Cops beat man into a coma for riding a bicycle without a light
- Four cops beat teenager to a pulp for skateboarding on the wrong side of the street.
- Here we see a cop in Baltimore cop beating up a 14-year-old skateboarder for asking the cop what he did wrong.
- Here we see police using a taser against a student at the University of Florida for asking Senator John Kerry if he was a member of a secret society at Yale called Skull & Bones.
- Here we see a Utah cop tasering a vacationing man in front of his pregnant wife — because the man wanted to know why he was being ticketed.
- Here we see police arresting a citizen for videotaping their activities. They then shoot and kill his dog for barking at them.
FACT #36: Videotaping police in action is now illegal in many jurisdictions. But, of course, government is free to videotape us. In Illinois, police and prosecutors charged Michael Allison with five felonies for videotaping police actions from his own front yard. They accused him of violating Illinois’ eavesdropping law — a crime that carries the same penalty as rape in Illinois. Allison faces up to 75 years in prison. The case was dismissed in the first round of court action, by prosecutors have appealed the dismissal.
Politicization of the IRS
FACT #37: The IRS has now admitted that it has been targeting Americans for punishing audits and investigations because of their political views and affiliations. Specifically, the IRS admits it targeted organizations with the words “Tea Party,” “patriot,” “liberty,” “Christian,” and “teach the Constitution” for audits and investigation.
FACT #38: The IRS audited and targeted more than 500 Tea Party, conservative, Christian, and pro-Israel organizations.
FACT #39: Quickly after he endorsed Mitt Romney for President, the IRS audited the ministries of Reverend Billy Graham and his son Reverend Franklin Graham’s. The Graham ministries had never before been audited.
FACT #40: The IRS also targeted many (we don’t yet know how many) conservative churches for punishing audits and investigations. The IRS demanded to read the prayers of conservative churches. The IRS also demanded copies of church membership lists.
FACT #41: The author of The ObamaCare Survival Guide, journalist Wayne Allyn Root, reports that he was audited by the IRS soon after his book became a national bestseller. Mr. Root (a former classmate of Obama’s at Columbia) also reports that he has personally spoken with 15 donors to the Mitt Romney campaign who were audited within 90 days of making their donations.
FACT #42: The IRS audited reporters and news anchors who the Obama campaign did not like.
FACT #43: The IRS targeted conservative and Christian and conservative college-age interns who were taking courses on the Constitution and American history.
FACT #44: Sarah Hall Ingram, the head of the IRS division that was conducting these audits of conservatives and conservative organizations, has been promoted to run the IRS office that charged with enforcing the ObamaCare mandates.
FACT #45: The day after conservative Christian O’Donnell announced she was considering running for U.S. Senate, her federal tax records were accessed by Maryland government officials.
FACT #46: The Obama campaign accused some of the larger donors to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign of not paying their taxes and accused them of engaging in shady activities — an obvious effort by Team Obama to intimidate Romney’s donors into not donating to Romney, thus illustrating how the government can use the world’s most brutal collection agency as also the world’s most powerful opposition research operation.
America’s Largest Corporations Are Now Partners
with the Government in Setting Up the Surveillance State
FACT #47: Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, Verizon, ATT, Cisco systems, and America’s largest corporations are getting rich, in part, by helping the U.S. government quickly build the surveillance state. We know already that Yahoo! worked closely with China’s regime to help round up China’s anti-government dissidents. China told Yahoo! it would be banned from China if it didn’t provide the identities and locations of critics of the regime in Beijing. Yahoo! was eager to cooperate.
FACT #48: As technology advances, there will be no escaping government’s prying Big Brother eye. The technologies that are coming into play are frightening. Companies are now able to broadcast talking ads that seem to be coming from inside our own brains — ads that are so customized to what we actually think that it’s difficult to distinguish our own thoughts from the ad itself. Here’s a description of how this new kind of advertising works:
Passengers leaning their head against the window will “hear” adverts “coming from inside the user’s head”, urging them to download the Sky Go app. The proposal involves using bone conduction technology, which is used in hearing aids, headphones and Google’s Glass headset, to pass sound to the inner ear via vibrations through the skull.
A video for the Talking Window campaign released by Sky Deutschland and ad agency BBDO Germany states: “Tired commuters often rest their heads against windows. Suddenly a voice inside their head is talking to them. No one else can hear this message.” Passengers leaning their head against the window will “hear” adverts “coming from inside the user’s head”, urging them to download the Sky Go app.
Now imagine the potential for political ads — if people can’t quite tell the difference between our own thoughts and what our President is telling us. Technology like this would have been a dream come true for Adolf Hitler and his master propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
This is the “Brave New World” we’re heading for. It’s the world we’re already living in.
This is what a soft tyranny looks like. We are being controlled by the most sophisticated mass-control tools ever devised — that become more sophisticated everyday. Of course, a “soft tyranny” can quickly become a hard tyranny . . . and usually does.
Can this Pandora’s Box of horrors ever be shut?
Frankly, I don’t see how.
LEIGH DROGEN: It is a fact of life that eventually, all platforms die.
Platforms are powerful, they put people in the same place, crowds of people in and of themselves are powerful. Platforms provide a common place where we can exchange ideas, goods, and services.
Platforms are great businesses.
Facebook is a platform. It is not the first social platform where ordinary people were put in one room and allowed to exchange information freely. Facebook stood on the shoulders of Myspace and Friendster, then it crushed them under its sheer weight.
All platforms die, because all platforms eventually suffer from their own success. Innovative platforms open doors to new entrepreneurs who are able to build better platforms. Ideas spawn ideas. Platforms also suffer from the loss of innovative drive. A platform is what a platform is and isn’t anything else. Once a platform decides that it wants to be something else, it is almost certain to have a crisis of identity, and not many platforms survive to see their next act (see Myspace).
Twitter gave print media the final kick over the cliff, then spawned StockTwits. StockTwits spawned Estimize. Who knows what will come next.
But I do know this, all platforms die, and Facebook’s head is currently on the chopping block.
The Internet is working fine without Obama. Does anyone think Obama will improve it with these new rules?
ASSOCIATED PRESS: The White House on Thursday is expected to unveil its proposal to enhance the nation’s cybersecurity, laying out plans to require industry to better protect systems that run critical infrastructure like the electrical grid, financial systems and nuclear power plants.
The Obama administration also is insisting that companies tell consumers when their personal information has been compromised.
According to cybersecurity experts familiar with the plan, the administration’s proposed legislation also would instruct federal agencies to more closely monitor their computer networks.
LA TIMES: Edward Zuckerberg, who taught his son programming on the family’s Atari 800, runs a dental office with Internet TV, iPods for patients and an implant fabrication machine. And he uses a little marketing tool called Facebook.
Edward Zuckerberg pulls his iPhone out of his jeans pocket and hits the familiar blue Facebook icon.
He’s eager to show off his latest effort to market his suburban dental practice. The man known as “Painless Dr. Z” is offering a free teeth bleaching kit to the first 10 patients who use their smartphones to tell their Facebook friends that they’ve stopped by his office.
On the receptionist’s desk, a blue sticker exhorts clients to “‘Like’ us on Facebook.” The effort has paid off. The dental practice has more than 1,100 fans.
Shocking video of Steve Jobs walking out of cancer treatment raises concerns about his health, Apple’s future
U.K. DAILY MAIL: It’s only a few short steps. But for Steve Jobs, it is heartbreakingly clear that they cost him.
Video footage has emerged of the gaunt Apple boss negotiating the path from a café to his car – a journey that appears both painful and disorienting.
Pictures of Mr Jobs out in California with his wife Laurene, published on Mail Online yesterday, have already prompted financial analysts to ask serious questions about his health.
But now the video that accompanies the pictures has also emerged on the internet.
JACOB ARON-NEW SCIENTIST: A new cyberweapon could take down the entire internet – and there’s not much that current defences can do to stop it. So say Max Schuchard at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and his colleagues, the masterminds who have created the digital ordnance. But thankfully they have no intention of destroying the net just yet. Instead, they are suggesting improvements to its defences.
Schuchard’s new attack pits the structure of the internet against itself. Hundreds of connection points in the net fall offline every minute, but we don’t notice because the net routes around them. It can do this because the smaller networks that make up the internet, known as autonomous systems, communicate with each other through routers. When a communication path changes, nearby routers inform their neighbours through a system known as the border gateway protocol (BGP). These routers inform other neighbours in turn, eventually spreading knowledge of the new path throughout the internet.
I lose my phone all the time.
So for me, this is almost as good an invention as sliced bread.
Weaponized STUXNET computer worm that disabled Iran’s nuclear program was joint U.S.-Israel project ordered by . . . Bush
NEW YORK TIMES: The Dimona complex in the Negev desert is famous as the heavily guarded heart of Israel’s never-acknowledged nuclear arms program, where neat rows of factories make atomic fuel for the arsenal.
Over the past two years, according to intelligence and military experts familiar with its operations, Dimona has taken on a new, equally secret role — as a critical testing ground in a joint American and Israeli effort to undermine Iran’s efforts to make a bomb of its own.
Behind Dimona’s barbed wire, the experts say, Israel has spun nuclear centrifuges virtually identical to Iran’s at Natanz, where Iranian scientists are struggling to enrich uranium. They say Dimona tested the effectiveness of the Stuxnet computer worm, a destructive program that appears to have wiped out roughly a fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges and helped delay, though not destroy, Tehran’s ability to make its first nuclear arms.
FOX NEWS: Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple, announced he was taking another medical leave of absence Monday, leading to new speculation about what could be wrong with his health.
No further information about his condition was provided, but this is not the first time Jobs, 55, has taken a medical leave of absence.
In 2004, he took time off to recover from surgery to treat a very rare form of pancreatic cancer — called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor. In 2009, he took a six-month medical leave from January to June to have a liver transplant.
About 85 to 90 percent of people who have liver transplants will be alive one year later, and about 75 to 85 percent of people will survive at least five years after a transplant, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) said on its website.
Why Steve Jobs is so Fascinating
CNN: To many tech fanatics, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs is a mythical hero — a technological savior who has been compared to Jesus on several occasions.
To outsiders, however, it may not be obvious exactly why Jobs is so fascinating — and why news about his new medical leave of absence, announced Monday, is causing reverberations in the tech blogosphere that extend far beyond get-well-soon notes.
Jobs, who is notoriously tight-lipped about Apple and his personal life, has nevertheless been the subject of numerous magazine, newspaper and website profiles — as well as a TV movie, “Pirates of Silicon Valley,” that dramatized his rivalry with Microsoft’s Bill Gates.
U.K. TELEGRAPH: A succession of multiple cyber-attacks could “become a full-scaleglobal shock” on a par with a pandemic and the collapse of the world financial system, the report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said.
Contingency plans to recover systems should be put in place and cybersecurity policies should “encompass the needs of all citizens and not just central government facilities”, the report said.
“What should concern policy-makers are combinations of events – two different cyber-events occurring at the same time, or a cyber-event taking place during some other form of disaster or attack,” the report said.
“In that eventuality, ‘perfect storm’ conditions could exist.”
But the report, part of a wider OECD project on Future Global Shocks, found “few single foreseeable cyber-related events have the capacity to become a full-scale global shock”.