This category contains 70 posts

Droning On Further

(…further on?)

I’d two encounters regarding drones the other night.

One was an episode of Madame Secretary, wherein the female Secretary of State co-opts her own brother to obtain information to locate and assassinate an American-born Isis member.

Via a drone strike in a foreign land.

(I’ve an ongoing discussion regarding this TV show – a friend thinks it’s a stalking horse to put Hillary Clinton in the White House.  I disagree.  The protagonist is a former CIA officer, married to a religious ethics professor at The War College, who is a part-time NSA guy.  Hardly The Clintons!)


The second encounter was a TV commercial showing a drone package delivery (Amazon? – I don’t remember, we have The Hopper and fast-forward through most of the commercials! :-) )

Now, I don’t know if this was a planned placement of drones on commercial television to get us used to the idea of them flitting about, or serendipity, or what?

I do remember this administration’s last attorney general not ruling out the idea of drone strikes against American citizens on our own soil(!)

Two drones and The Hopper in one evening?  Perhaps it’s just coincidental?  Showing us how far technology has advanced?


Drone Biggest

But Wait, There’s MORE!

from the Government…

Campaign for Liberty


The Senate intends to pass a new warrantless surveillance bill granting government broad new authorities for collecting your personal information from private businesses, and it’s up to you and me to stop them.

On Wednesday the Senate may hold its first vote on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), S. 754.

Promoted as a “much-needed” “cybersecurity” bill, Congress devised a new way for intelligence agencies to collect your emails and sensitive data.

The bill “encourages” private companies like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo to monitor their networks and share “cyber threat indicators” broadly with agencies like the FBI, NSA, and CIA.

Worse yet, the bill allows the government to share and use your information for reasons completely unrelated to cybersecurity!

And on top of all that, this bill grants companies immunity to ensure they give the government as much information as possible…

Without having to make any effort to redact your sensitive information.

Let that sink in for a moment…

The same government that can’t protect its own data on 22.1 million federal employees, contractors, and their families and friends wants private businesses to share your personal information freely with them.

And if (more likely, when) your information is misused either by government agencies, private businesses, or both, you will be unable to hold anyone accountable.

Guffaw, you and I can both see this isn’t going to end well.

CISA is justified as necessary to stop hackers…

But sharing your Google searches and emails with Homeland Security will not stop hackers.

In fact, nothing in this bill would stop any of the cyber-attacks publicized in the press this year.

When it comes down to it, this is nothing more than a new warrantless surveillance bill.

Congress should be rolling back intelligence agencies’ surveillance powers, not granting new ones.

Recently, the President of the American Library Association, Sari Feldman, spoke out against the bill saying,

“When librarians oppose a bill with ‘information sharing’ in its name you can be sure that the bill is decidedly more than advertised.”

Businesses like Twitter, Yelp, Facebook, and Google all oppose this bill.

You only need to look at who is sponsoring this bill to realize it isn’t for your benefit or mine.

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Richard Burr (R-NC), two of the biggest surveillance state proponents in the Senate, are working diligently to ram this legislation through.

And that makes the first potential vote on Wednesday crucial.

Per standing Senate rules, the Senate needs 60 votes to proceed on the bill.

Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), have all vocally opposed this legislation.

But it’s going to take an outpouring of opposition from grassroots Americans like you to stop this warrantless surveillance bill from passing the Senate.

That’s why it’s vital you sign your emergency “Stop the Surveillance State!” Fax Petitions to your U.S. Senators today.

These petitions let your senators know you see right through the thin façade of “cybersecurity” and recognize this bill for what it is – a new warrantless surveillance bill.

At a time when Congress needs to do more to rein in the intelligence agencies to protect your privacy, many senators are trying to expand the surveillance state.

Let them know you’ll have nothing of it.

Please take action today, then forward this email to your friends and family and ask them to sign their emergency “Stop the Surveillance State!” Fax Petitions as well.

Public pressure matters. And if you remain silent, don’t look to blame others later for your lost liberties.

It’s time the American people stand up and say, “Enough is enough!”

In Liberty,

Tim Shoemaker
Director of Legislation

P.S. After you’ve signed your emergency “Stop the Surveillance State!” Fax Petitions, please consider making a generous contribution to Campaign for Liberty to help defray the cost of this program to fight back against this new warrantless surveillance bill.

Because of Campaign For Liberty’s tax-exempt status under IRC Sec. 501(C)(4) and its state and federal legislative activities, contributions are not tax deductible as charitable contributions (IRC § 170) or as business deductions (IRC § 162(e)(1))

This came my way, and I thought it worth sharing!  –  Guffaw

Soon Coming To A Social Security System Near YOU (?!)

China is launching a comprehensive “credit score” system, and the more I learn about it, the more nightmarish it seems. China appears to be leveraging all the tools of the information age—electronic purchasing data, social networks, algorithmic sorting—to construct the ultimate tool of social control. It is, as one commentator put it, “authoritarianism, gamified.” Read this piece for the full flavor—it will make your head spin. If that and the little other reporting I’ve seen is accurate, the basics are this:

  • Everybody is measured by a score between 350 and 950, which is linked to their national identity card. While currently supposedly voluntary, the government has announced that it will be mandatory by 2020.
  • The system is run by two companies, Alibaba* and Tencent, which run all the social networks in China and therefore have access to a vast amount of data about people’s social ties and activities and what they say.

More @ Liberty Upward

*Alibaba is a Chinese company not unlike Amazon, with a partner component selling wholesale merchandise.  It has made it’s founder and chairman Jack Ma, the richest man in China.

Welcome to the Brave, New World.  A major multi-billionaire capitalist in charge of companies controlling a communist population.


Hoist…Petar’ (Part II)



The JOY of misinterpreting electronic surveillance!


h/t Wirecutter

Just When You Thought It Was Safe, Part III…

jawsor maybe IV, I forget. (courtesy of Old NFO,)

(aka, an extreme overuse of film icons…)

About that privacy…

You ‘thought’ you had…

Remember how criminal fingerprint bases were kept separate from military and civil (e.g. fingerprinted for a job)?

Yeah, not so much anymore…

I completely missed this one, but it came out in a discussion of the latest release of the ever increasing scope of the OPM hack (an additional 6 million files hacked, PLUS all fingerprints).

This from the EFF-

FBI Combines Civil and Criminal Fingerprints into One Fully Searchable Database

Being a job seeker isn’t a crime. But the FBI has made a big change in how it deals with fingerprints that might make it seem that way. For the first time, fingerprints and biographical information sent to the FBI for a background check will be stored and searched right along with fingerprints taken for criminal purposes.

The change, which the FBI revealed quietly in a February 2015 Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA), means that if you ever have your fingerprints taken for licensing or for a background check, they will most likely end up living indefinitely in the FBI’s NGI database. They’ll be searched thousands of times a day by law enforcement agencies across the country—even if your prints didn’t match any criminal records when they were first submitted to the system.

Full article HERE. What isn’t clear, but is included are ALL the military fingerprints, which we were told were always to be kept separately for security reasons…

Yeah, right… Shoulda known better…

You can read the Fibbies Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) HERE.

Think about it… How many doors, objects, etc. do you touch on a daily basis when getting too/from work… The grab bar on the Metro, the bus, the door to the elevator, handrails? Bathroom doors? Restaurant doors at lunch?

Suppose there is an incident at a location you’ve been to, they dust and lo an behold your fingerprints show up…

You have a high security job, now how are you going to explain to YOUR security people why the cops just hauled you downtown for an ‘interview’…


But wait… It is going to get even better! For certain values of better…

Specifically, in 2012, Deputy Assistant Director Jerome Pender stated:

Only criminal mug shot photos are used to populate the national repository. Query photos and photos obtained from social networking sites, surveillance cameras, and similar sources are not used to populate the national repository.

But the new RFQ contradicts this because it appears the desired software would allow officers to submit non-mug shot photos to NGI. The RFQ says the FBI is looking for a mobile biometrics tool that would, “at a minimum . . . include fingerprints and facial photographs for submission and receipt of a response.” Photographs taken in the field are clearly not “mug shot photos” because they’re taken before booking and possibly even before arrest. And it’s hard to see how a mobile tool that allows officers to collect these non-mug shot photos and “submit” them to a database is not also “populating the national repository.”

The article from EFF is HERE. And HERE’s the link to the FedBizOps page for the biometric system…

Yep, kiss that whole privacy thing good by… As if we had any to start with…

h/t Lawdog

Yeah.  Thanks, Jim (and Lawdog)! (groan)

And, of course, we know the BATFE is not continuing to add to a database involving NICS check data, because it would be a violation of criminal law…

Yeah, right…

Ya think some enterprising young attorney at the DOJ isn’t conspiring to meld these databases together, along with Homeland Security?  For our safety, of course.

Yeah, right…

Pick one…


More Fast And Really Furious

Just in case you missed coverage of this on the news…

(As posted by David Hardy in his blog, with attached commentary, in full…)

Plea in murder of BP Agent Terry, with Fast & Furious gun


Another perp involved has taken a plea to 30 years’ imprisonment. Another perp also got 30 years, and the guy who bought the guns got under five years.

These are all quite lenient. The gunmen faced the death penalty, and the gun buyer could probably have, too (aiding and abetting the murder makes him guilty of murder). If prosecuted under Arizona law (and they still could be, since the offense broke both State and Federal law), they’d be very likely to get death, and at the very least to get life without parole (“natural life”). I’ve seen killers get the latter for a single murder and one not committed in the course of a plan for violent criminal acts.

Sendarius |

Why should those who authorised the sale get away with it?

The FFL lodged a NICS check,and probably committed no crime since the check came back “proceed”, but the LEO that cleared the sale was apparently fully aware of the intent of the purchaser.

Surely that approval in the face of evidence of likely criminality is illegal, especially given that there was no attempt to “follow the guns” as was later claimed as justification.

As pointed out on other blogs, taking a plea deal means there won’t be any embarrassing discovery phase that would occur if a trial was held. Another win in the “Move Along, Nothing to See” column for this “most transparent ever ” administration.

I have highlighted salient points in red. (Guffaw)

If indeed there is a thin blue line between us and murdering smugglers, and one (or more) of them falls, the perpetrator should obtain the maximum.

This is a travesty, not only for the family of Brian Terry, but for all others killed or maimed by ‘government-sponsored’ smuggling.  In both countries.

And, of course, the reasoning stated above says it all.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

We all remember that Aesop Fable.

Fast-forward to today, wherein people are lampooned for worrying about the Jade Helm military exercise.

I wonder why they came to the conclusion there was something malicious about it?

Could it be governmental actions have been less-than-benign now for over 40 years?

  • unwarranted airport searches
  • unwarranted sobriety checkpoints
  • unwarranted vehicle searches for contraband at the borders
  • unwarranted personal questioning with regard to citizenship or legal residence
  • local police abuse of constitutional rights
  • federal agency abuse of constitutional rights
  • intelligence agencies spying on American citizens’ cellular telephones, Internet communications, snail mail, conversations and all manner of communication
  • intelligence secret ‘courts’ forcing citizens into black ‘prisons’ for interrogation without benefit of counsel or constitutional protections
  • military-sanctioned assassinations via drone strikes of U.S. Citizens overseas
  • The U.S. Attorney General not ruling out similar actions on U.S. soil

Ad infinitum, ad nauseum

I believe in the Constitutional Republic of The United States of America.  Whatever we have been perverted into is not the same nation, however.

It is no wonder that people reflexively want to believe the worst about their government.  FEMA concentration camps, contrail poisoning, and Jade Helm are just the tip of the conspiracy theory iceberg.

We need to support a presidential candidate in this next election who proposes dialing back the abuses of the past 40 years.

Of course, if we truly believe in conspiracies, they will be discredited or assassinated before that happens.


Medical Surveillance

Once upon a time…

A friend with breathing and heart issues (mentioned before in these pages) was recommended by their pulmonologist to wear an apparatus whilst sleeping.

To measure whether or not they were getting enough oxygen while they were asleep.

A small device – a wrist watch apparatus connected to a finger tip thingee – much as they use at doctor’s offices and hospitals to measure oxygen absorption.  To be worn during a minimum of five hours of sleep.

Easy peasy.

Yeah, right.

The machine was delivered, and it was asked it be left outside the door for collection the next day.

A one-night procedure.

And so it came to pass.

A poor night’s sleep ensued.

Including a number of visits to the loo.

Upon awakening, the patient stretched, and a voice was heard emanating from the wrist watch device,  “Good morning, XXXXXX!” 

This scared the living hell out of the patient, as they thought this was a data collection device and not a surveillance-two way communication device!

Good thing they watched PG-rated television at bedtime, instead of something less of a more adult nature…

Medical surveillance, indeed!

Person Of Interest, Part Dos

Regular readers may recall I love the TV show Person of Interest.  In it, a supercomputer is built, gleaning data about people from all exterior sources, including traffic and surveillance cameras, and calculates if the person so surveilled is either in danger or a danger.

Of course, there is a battle royal between various elements in the government (and, by extension private contractors), as to who is going to have access (in the government) to this data, and what they will do with it.

There is a second computer in the mix, and, of course the computer’s creator and his allies.

I am anxiously awaiting the next season.

Now comes real life (courtesy of Wirecutter)…

From Boston to Beijing, municipalities and governments across the world are pledging billions to create “smart cities”—urban areas covered with Internet-connected devices that control citywide systems, such as transit, and collect data. Although the details can vary, the basic goal is to create super-efficient infrastructure, aid urban planning and improve the well-being of the populace.  (yeah, right! – Guffaw)

A byproduct of a tech utopia will be a prodigious amount of data collected on the inhabitants. For instance, at the company I head, we recently undertook an experiment in which some staff volunteered to wear devices around the clock for 10 days. We monitored more than 170 metrics reflecting their daily habits and preferences—including how they slept, where they traveled and how they felt (a fast heart rate and no movement can indicate excitement or stress).


And you thought the NSA reading your email wherein you mentioned you purchased a pressure-cooker, or watching you do whatever you do while surfing porn was a problem!


Gimme That Ol’ Time Research

Old-Timers will completely get this.

(Youngsters, not as much!)  :-)

I remember a time (voice fades out, looking wistfully skyward…)

When a random thought regarding some subject entered my mind,  And I wanted to know more about it. So, I checked my bookshelf for dictionaries, encyclopedias and reference books.

If THAT failed…

It was a trip to the public or college library, next chance I got, searching for similar materials and more specific ones about the subject.  Later-in-life, as a private investigator, city directories and telephone directories sometimes offered help.

And failing all that, the reference desk librarians.

But, all this took time, legwork and shoe leather.  It was what we had.

Since the early 90’s, most of us have had access to The Internet.  And now many of the same reference materials are available on line.

More quickly and with less walking.

I wonder what we old-timers will be wistfully thinking about The Internet in 10 or 20 years?

Ain’t technology grand?

Or have we been sucked in to a vortex of uber-surveillance, wherein ‘they’ can watch and record our every movement and action.  And what were look for on the ‘net, and where we shop, what we buy, how and where we travel and work?  With whom we communicate and associate?  What ideas we share?

Of course, the same data was available 25 years ago.  But took much more in-person research and surveillance.  And time.

And much as we cannot go back to dial-up, we can’t stop this ever-encroaching technology.  But we can petition the government to stop abusive information gathering, and limit our exposure – somewhat.tin_foil_hat_area

(Puts tin-foil chapeau back on and skulks back into the shadows…)

"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas - how he got in my pajamas I dunno!" - Groucho Marx as Captain Spaulding in Animal Crackers

This election is not about who gets voted off the island.
It’s about who is at the tiller of this Republic’s Ship of State. - Guffaw



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