Saturday, July 30, 2011

Summary of HR 1981, Data Retention Mandate Bill, 7/12/2011.

Source: Tech Law Journal

Background on ECPA and SCA: The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which was enacted in 1986, includes the Stored Communications Act (SCA). The Congress has amended various parts of the ECPA since 1986, but the ECPA has not kept pace with technological changes. The terms used in the ECPA were included in 1986 based upon the drafters' understanding of technologies that existed in 1986. Law enforcement agents and prosecutors now rely on these 1986 terms when dealing with new technologies not foreseen when the ECPA was drafted.

The data retention provisions of HR 1981 contain amendments to the SCA. This bill does nothing to address underlying obsolescence of the ECPA. It adds to the foundation of the ECPA, without clarifying what that foundation means in the context of new technologies developed since 1986, or in the context of the new mandates that would be imposed by this bill.

In March of 2010 a coalition named Digital Due Process (DDP) announced a set of four principles which the DPP members argue should be incorporated into the federal statutes that regulate government searches and seizures of stored communications and data. These DPP principles state, for example, that the "government should obtain a search warrant based on probable cause before it can compel a service provider to disclose a user's private communications or documents stored online" and it "should obtain a search warrant based on probable cause before it can track, prospectively or retrospectively, the location of a cell phone or other mobile communications device".

HR 1981 would provide that "No cause of action shall lie in any court against any provider of wire or electronic communication service, its officers, employees, agents, or other specified persons for retaining records or providing information, facilities, or assistance in accordance with the terms of a court order, warrant, subpoena, statutory authorization, or certification under this chapter."

Similarly, HR 1981 would also provide that "A good faith reliance on (1) a court warrant or order, a grand jury subpoena, a legislative authorization, or a statutory authorization (including a request of a governmental entity under section 2703(f) or the requirement to retain records under section 2703(h) of this title) ... is a complete defense to any civil or criminal action brought under this chapter or any other law."

These are inducements to service providers to diligently retain data, and to follow instructions from the DOJ. They are also an inducement to support this bill, because they could immunize service providers from a broad range of claims. For example, if this bill were enacted, a service provider retained data, and a hacker accessed that data, and injured subscribers sued the service provider, the service provider would assert this immunity provision as a defense. Just as this bill builds onto the ECPA without addressing the obsolescence of the ECPA, it imposes broad data retention mandates without addressing data security or privacy.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at the Tech Law Journal.
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Friday, July 29, 2011

New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism

Could it be that the greenhouse gasses are trapping far less heat than the models predict? Or is this just another global climate change denyer throwing uncertainty and doubt into the debate?

Source: James Taylor - Endpoint Analysis - Forbes

The new NASA Terra satellite data are consistent with long-term NOAA and NASA data indicating atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds are not increasing in the manner predicted by alarmist computer models. The Terra satellite data also support data collected by NASA’s ERBS satellite showing far more longwave radiation (and thus, heat) escaped into space between 1985 and 1999 than alarmist computer models had predicted. Together, the NASA ERBS and Terra satellite data show that for 25 years and counting, carbon dioxide emissions have directly and indirectly trapped far less heat than alarmist computer models have predicted.

In short, the central premise of alarmist global warming theory is that carbon dioxide emissions should be directly and indirectly trapping a certain amount of heat in the earth’s atmosphere and preventing it from escaping into space. Real-world measurements, however, show far less heat is being trapped in the earth’s atmosphere than the alarmist computer models predict, and far more heat is escaping into space than the alarmist computer models predict.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at James Taylor - Endpoint Analysis - Forbes.
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States negotiating immunity for banks over foreclosures

Source: Reuters

A coalition of all 50 states' attorneys general has been negotiating settlements with five of the biggest U.S. banks that would include payment of up to $25 billion in penalties and commitments to follow new rules. In exchange, the banks would get immunity from civil lawsuits by the states, as well as similar guarantees by the Justice Department and Department of Housing and Urban Development, which have participated in the talks.

State and federal officials declined to say if any form of immunity from criminal prosecution also is under discussion. The banks involved in the talks are Bank of America, Wells Fargo, CitiGroup, JPMorgan Chase and Ally Financial.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Reuters.
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

6 Ways Food is Being Used as a Weapon

Source: Activist Post

Because of massive corporate consolidation of agriculture, centrally coordinated global regulations, a devalued commodity-dollar and unrestrained commodity speculation, chemical and genetic modification, and real or manipulated food shortages; there is indeed a war being waged --with food as the primary weapon. Understand, this is a not purely a war on food, but rather a war on the general population. Therefore, it is crucial to understand these tactics in order to defend against them.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Activist Post.
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

ALEC Exposed

Source: The Nation

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) describes itself as “the nation’s largest, non-partisan, individual public-private membership association of state legislators”.

“Dozens of corporations are investing millions of dollars a year to write business-friendly legislation that is being made into law in statehouses coast to coast, with no regard for the public interest,” says Bob Edgar of Common Cause. “This is proof positive of the depth and scope of the corporate reach into our democratic processes.”

The full archive of ALEC documents is available at a new website,, thanks to the Center for Media and Democracy, which has provided powerful tools for progressives to turn this knowledge into power. The data tell us that the time has come to refocus on the battle to loosen the grip of corporate America and renew democracy in the states.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at The Nation
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ron Paul’s Surprisingly Lucid Solution to the Debt Ceiling Impasse

Source: The New Republic

Representative Ron Paul has hit upon a remarkably creative way to deal with the impasse over the debt ceiling: have the Federal Reserve Board destroy the $1.6 trillion in government bonds it now holds. While at first blush this idea may seem crazy, on more careful thought it is actually a very reasonable way to deal with the crisis. Furthermore, it provides a way to have lasting savings to the budget.

This is a Suspicious News News Brief. Read more at The New Republic.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The U.S. Military’s “Third-Country Nationals”

Source: The New Yorker

More than seventy thousand “third-country nationals” work for the American military in war zones; many report being held in conditions resembling indentured servitude by subcontractors who operate outside the law.

The Pentagon’s invisible army consists of more than seventy thousand cooks, cleaners, construction workers, fast-food clerks, electricians, and beauticians from the world’s poorest countries who service U.S. military logistics contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Filipinos launder soldiers’ uniforms, Kenyans truck frozen steaks and inflatable tents, Bosnians repair electrical grids, and Indians provide iced mocha lattes. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is behind most of the commercial “tastes of home” that can be found on major U.S. bases, which include jewelry stores, souvenir shops filled with carved camels and Taliban chess sets, beauty salons where soldiers can receive massages and pedicures, and fast-food courts featuring Taco Bell, Subway, Pizza Hut, and Cinnabon. (AAFES’s motto: “We go where you go.”)

The vast majority of contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan—more than sixty per cent of the total in Iraq—aren’t hired guns but hired hands. These workers, primarily from South Asia and Africa, often live in barbed-wire compounds on U.S. bases, eat at meagre chow halls, and host dance parties featuring Nepalese romance ballads and Ugandan church songs. A large number are employed by fly-by-night subcontractors who are financed by the American taxpayer but who often operate outside the law.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at The New Yorker.
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

All Work And No Pay - The Great Speedup

Source: Mother Jones

Sound familiar: Mind racing at 4 a.m.? Guiltily realizing you've been only half-listening to your child or spouse for the past hour? Checking work email at a stoplight, at the dinner table, in bed? Dreading once-pleasant diversions, like dinner with friends, as just one more thing on your to-do list?

We hear from creative professionals in what seemed to be dream jobs who were crumbling under ever-expanding to-do lists; from bus drivers, hospital technicians, construction workers, doctors, and lawyers who shame-facedly whispered that no matter how hard they tried to keep up with the extra hours and extra tasks, they just couldn't hold it together. (And don't even ask about family time.)

Webster's defines speedup as "an employer's demand for accelerated output without increased pay," and it used to be a household word. Bosses would speed up the line to fill a big order, to goose profits, or to punish a restive workforce. Workers recognized it, unions (remember those?) watched for and negotiated over it—and, if necessary, walked out over it.

But now we no longer even acknowledge it—not in blue-collar work, not in white-collar or pink-collar work, not in economics texts, and certainly not in the media (except when journalists gripe about the staff-compacted-job-expanded newsroom). Now the word we use is "productivity," a term insidious in both its usage and creep. The not-so-subtle implication is always: Don't you want to be a productive member of society?

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Mother Jones.
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Lawrence Korb Rachel Maddow Interview Regarding Defense Spending

This is an interesting interview with Lawrence Korb. We could go a long way towards fixing our budget and deficit by eliminating most of the use of ground troops and conducting all military actions exactly like the Osama Bin Laden assassination. For FY10, the National Intelligence Program (NIP) budget was $53.1 billion vs $685.1 billion on the Military.

Source:MSNBC The Rachel Maddow Show

Lawrence Korb, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, talks with Rachel Maddow about the unquestioned, unchallenged power of the military industrial complex in Washington, D.C.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Electronic Devices - Know Your Rights!

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation

The EFF has put together a simple Q&A guide to help you know your rights regarding the data stored in electronic devices. In my opinion, this is the most important thing to remember:

Q: If the police ask for my encryption keys or passwords, do I have to turn them over? A: No. The police can't force you to divulge anything. However, a judge or a grand jury may be able to. The Fifth Amendment protects you from being forced to give the government self-incriminating testimony. If turning over an encryption key or password triggers this right, not even a court can force you to divulge the information.

You can probably protect your rights best if you observe your right to remain silent, protect your electronic devices with passwords and refuse to provide passwords if asked to do so.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at Electronic Frontier Foundation.
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