Links 6/10/13

Meet the Beetles: big squirmy beetle larvae sold as novelty pets in Japanese shops BoingBoing (Richard Smith)

Tigers under threat from dog disease BBC

Japan sharply revises up Q1 growth Financial Times


Choke on banks stifles Cyprus economy Financial Times

Naked cyclists protest aggressive drivers in Mexico AFP

McCain Excuses Syrian Rebel War Crimes, Suggests He’d Tolerate Extremist Takeover Of Syria Information Clearing House (May S)

Israel is Losing in the Syrian War CounterPunch

Report: John Kerry Cleared His Schedule to Discuss Arming Syrian Rebels Atlantic

Former drone operator says he’s haunted by his part in more than 1,600 deaths YouTube

Big Brother is Watching You Watch:

Blanket Surveillance. Total Secrecy. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? TechCrunch (km4)

Backlash over US snooping intensifies Financial Times

We Misunderstood Barack: He only wanted the Domestic Surveillance to be Made Legal, not to End It (km4)

Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations Guardian

Truck-sized Holes: Journalists Challenged by Technology Blindness Rayne, Emptywheel

The Logic of the Surveillance State Ian Welsh

Dianne Feinstein: We Need to Collect Data on Every Single American Because We Can’t Control Our Informants Marcy Wheeler

Leaker’s Employer Became Wealthy by Maintaining Government Secrets New York Times

Also Revealed by Verizon Leak: How the NSA and FBI Lie With Numbers Wired

Obama has hurt himself and business over privacy Ed Luce, Financial Times

Some Tricks To Keep The Government From Spying On You Clusterstock. Wellie, my one habit change is I am turning my old stupid phone off unless I really need to use it (no GPS so turning it off makes it no longer a tracking device).

Pardon Edward Snowden White House (WS). Sign now and tell your friends

Pragmatic Spinelessness masaccio, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Speak proper grammar or give up hope of success, NY Mayor Bloomberg says Daily Mail

The New (Old) Family Doctor: Cheaper, Better Care Without Insurance Daily Finance (Carol B). Not sure if true v. unduly hopeful.

Another Phony Jobs Report From A Government That Lies About Everything Paul Craig Roberts (May S)

When did you get hooked? London Review of Books (Lambert). Dunno about you, but even though I am reading GOT (just started Book 4), I’m doing it in a very leisurely manner (Books 1-3 took a full five months in little bits on the treadmill, and I got in the vastly more important The Dispossessed in after finishing Book 3). By contrast, when I read Dune, I had to stay up all night (and that was not normal for me back then) and had a lot stronger sense of engagement in other books I’ve read (such as Gene Wolfe’s Urth series). Even though GOT is a completely different beast, my relationship to it is more like Stephen Saylor’s books on Gordianus, a “finder” (detective) in the Roman Republic. It’s not my genre (I’ll grab one if I need something light when visiting my mother, she’s a mystery addict) but it’s still sufficiently well rendered and engaging to be worthwhile.

Antidote du jour (kimberly):


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  1. Goin' South

    Re: Family Doctor story–

    The doctor in the story organized his own practice and set the terms. The article shows how even that is far better for patients than dealing with the typical corporate setup controlled by insurance companies and/or welfare bureaucrats. It’s not much of a step from this doctor’s situation to one where a community organizes its own coop, sets some initial terms, and then negotiates with medical professionals re: money and management particulars.

    Granted, this is only a first step. Primary care is extremely important but doesn’t take care of all issues. But it’s a first step in the right decentralized, democratic direction.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That’s a start…but then you become immobile. My mother refuses to leave Birmingham, Alabama because she’s in an HMO she likes (with the local med school, the best in the South).

      And how do you prevent the corporate types from getting in as managers and putting profits over care?

      1. Goin' South

        It’s true that’s an issue with care organized locally, but if the idea spread it would be less of a disincentive. Also, your mother may like her doctor(s) personally, not just the system, and that’s a good thing even if it does get in the way of mobility.

        As for corporate managers, the doctor in the story as well as any would-be coop organizers are trying to avoid just that. While we must always be on guard against the tendency toward bureaucracy (e.g. Shevek’s “boss” in The Dispossessed, great book, huh?), if things are kept small, there’s not much incentive for the money grubbers to get involved.

        And a coop would be organized as a non-profit, plowing any excess revenues back into what would enable better care as decided by the coop members.

    2. Janie

      The immobility imposed by our insurance system is unrecognized by many until the unexpected happens – which it often does. If you have a medical emergency while you are away from home, you will go/be taken to the nearest critical care facility – and you’re on the hook for whatever they choose to charge (see previous stories listing hospital charge variations) because you are out of your network. This means that you are taking a huge chance every time you go to visit your relatives, attend an out-of-town function, go to a concert 20 miles away, etc. Yes, the policy says it pays for medically necessary emergency care out of network, but who sets the criteria and makes the decision?

      1. Goin' South

        “Yes, the policy says it pays for medically necessary emergency care out of network, but who sets the criteria and makes the decision?”

        Those whose profits and bonuses increase when they define “medically necessary” as narrowly as possible are the ones who set the criteria.

        Sounds fair to me.

      2. Lambert Strether

        Janie, that’s an excellent point, and it also applies to job mobility. Honestly, you’ve got to predict your future income and you’re liable to an IRS clawback if you guess high (and you have to notify the Exchange if your situation changes anyhow). Makes sense just to hunker down if you can.

    3. darms

      My primary physician for the last couple of years has been a concierage doctor who charges me $49/month. Office visits are no cost nor does he charge me for in-office meds. I do have to pay for lab work but he has negotiated discount rates w/the labs. Maybe a ‘blast from the past’ but I’m never goin’ back to ‘the future – uninsured my previous HMO doctor charged $200 per office visit if you were uninsured but they ‘discount’ $50 (‘only’ $150) if you paid cash. Via insurance it was a $20 copay with the office getting ~$50 additional from insurance, meaning cash patients are subsidizing the billion-dollar insurance industry…

    1. optimader

      Great photo..
      This evokes a saying we had about a certain vendor that was along the lines of:

      “Others may have a quicker delivery, but they certainly don’t cost as much”

    1. Jim Haygood

      Yes … as a subset of Israel watch.

      US intervention in Syria has been orchestrated for years by the Israel lobby. For instance, the Syria Accountability Act of 2003 (providing for US sanctions) was written by New York’s Rep. Eliot Engel, who served on the Board of Advisors of The Israel Project, and sponsored a resolution ‘recognizing Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel.’

      In advocating U.S. intervention in Syria, McCain obviously learned nothing from Vietnam, another civil war in which the U.S. fecklessly and gratuitously intervened, costing McCain 5-1/2 years in a prisoner of war camp.

      McCain’s father, Admiral John S. McCain, signed off on the whitewash investigation of Israel’s June 1967 attack on the USS Liberty, which killed 34 American troops.

      Like father, like son: prostituting himself to the same foreign power while ostensibly serving his country.

      1. Synopticist

        McCain is going fuc*ing loopy.
        Giving MANPADs, which can bring down civilian airliners from the ground, to guys fighting alongside al qeada ? What could possibly go wrong?

        Fortunately there’s very little chance of the UK arming the rebels now, at least officially. Even though Cameron is said to be personally behind the idea, the chances of him getting it through parliament are close to zero.

    2. RanDomino

      It seems like the Democrats and Republicans are gradually merging. Maybe by the end of the decade we’ll see them working together explicitly just to cling to power like PASOK and Nea Demokratia did in Greece.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        When the 0.01% Republicans merge with the 0.01% Democrats, the only hope we have is for the 99.99% Republicans to merge with the 99.99% Democrats.

        I believe percentages are important here.

  2. Ned Ludd

    The question of the technical accuracy of the NSA articles by The Guardian and The Washington Post keeps being raised by tech-oriented sites. These sites are notorious for tilting towards power and publishing propaganda for tech companies and the government. They are largely PR outfits masked as media.

    Regarding “direct access”, see this diagram from Wikipedia for a simple example of how things can be setup for the NSA. I have written more about the technical details here, in the other thread.

    1. lakewoebegoner

      a clear indication of siding with the Administration (as i bet they’d have a long memory), the lede on right now: “Grouping by Skill Regains Favor in Schools”

      all the news that’s fit to print indeed!

  3. Massinissa

    Remember guys, its ok if Al Qaeda takes over Syria, its ok since they wont be allied with Iran!

    This interview actually tells you alot more about John McCains mindset than he intended. He only sees this from a geostrategic point of view. This whole conflict is only because Syria is allied with Iran, nothing else. That people are dying is completely irrelevant to McCain.

  4. Ned Ludd

    In the FDL comments, allan has a cogent response to masaccio’s theory about Democrats viewing themselves as pragmatists.

    “why the Democrats are such a bunch of spineless weenies.”

    They are not.
    The Democrats will yield to no one in their determination to punch hippies.
    Did the Occupy crackdown look spineless?

    An excerpt from TarheelDem’s comment:

    Republicans are paid to be bomb-throwing crazies to stir up their base.

    Democrats are paid to be spineless weenies to depress their base…

    They are paid performers.

    Any Democratic politician who effectively defended the poor and working class against the predations of the rich would find themselves smeared by information the NSA leaked to friendly members of the press. They would be ostracized and marginalized by the wealthy funders of the party and the party establishment. Because of this artificial selection, the party consists of politicians who punch down and suck up.

  5. Ned Ludd

    When I bought a pre-paid SIM card from T-Mobile, the clerk said they did not need my name or address. I paid cash for a couple days of service. I also bought an unlocked phone on-line, to use with the SIM card. I do not know if there are places to buy unlocked phones with cash.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I thought I read somewhere that only the Luddites would inherit the whole mess.

      Maybe the Amish too, though I am not up to date on their interpretation of using smart phones. I would imagine their not favoring it, as no one from Heaven ever spoke to anyone on earth through a phone, much less a smart phone, or via the internet. It has always been face to face.

    2. tongorad

      You can buy sims in Thailand for around 40-50 baht, no questions/registrations asked. Pump ’em up with credit via vending machines or pre-paid cards that are widely available.

      Same thing in Germany.

      But in Freedomville?

  6. silver linings showroom

    ‘Some 22 US nuclear weapons are stored on Dutch territory, says former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers.’

    ‘He made the revelation in a documentary for National Geographic – saying: “I would never have thought those silly things would still be there in 2013.”‘

  7. rich

    NYU Channels Wall Street: New Documents Show Lavish Pay, Perks and Secret Deals

    Last year, Newsweek magazine ranked NYU as the fourth least affordable university in the country with an annual on-campus cost of $58,858.

    Sitting in close geographic proximity to the rapacious denizens of Wall Street, with a Board sprinkled with the chummy financial titans and chaired by their go-to legal counsel, Martin Lipton, it seemed only a matter of time before NYU would succumb to Wall Street’s brand of crony capitalism as a business model.

    NYU has also adopted the Wall Street catchphrase, globalism, with NYU campuses spreading to Abu Dhabi and Shanghai and international academic centers springing up in far flung locales like Buenos Aires, Prague and Tel Aviv.

    In 2004, the NYU School of Law Foundation informed the IRS on its annual tax filing that its primary purpose which garnered it tax exempt status was to foster legal education and research “by awarding scholarships, making grants for educational purposes related to law, and supporting programs of the School of Law.”

    But on December 9, 2004, the NYU School of Law Foundation made a $2,850,000 mortgage loan to one of its law professors, Richard (Rick) Pildes to purchase a 6 room, 3 ½ bath, luxury condo with views of the Hudson River.

    1. Ms G

      “by awarding scholarships, making grants for educational purposes related to law, and supporting programs of the School of Law.”


      on December 9, 2004, the NYU School of Law Foundation made a $2,850,000 mortgage loan to one of its law professors, Richard (Rick) Pildes to purchase a 6 room, 3 ½ bath, luxury condo with views of the Hudson River.

      * * *

      This is a straightforward and airtight case for the IRS re violation the 501(c)(3) charter. But Jack Lew may have already put in a call to the agency to “suggest” better the IRS should go after … anything or anyone else.

  8. Ray Phenicie

    Finally, from Paul Craig Roberts, some truth to power and to the not powerful:

    “Long before Bradley Manning’s trial the presstitutes have convicted the accused based on lies leaked by the prosecutors. Consider Bradley Manning. After three years of detention, including one year of torture, he is brought to a rigged trial as a national security danger. All that Bradley Manning did was to comply with the Military Code and report war crimes. As his corrupt superiors did not want to know, he complied with his duty, apparently, by going public.

    Now he is being made an example. The message is clear: Support Washington’s war crimes or be destroyed.

    The Amerika that exists today has more in common with Nazi Germany than with the America in which I grew up. The young don’t know any different. But those my age realize that we have lost our country. America no longer exists. “

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The biggest hiring sector: waitressing and bartending.

      We’re lucky we are only going after tobacco and not liquor -we can’t do that as that would kill the economy.

  9. b2020

    “The obvious conclusion is that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court uses the same catchall boilerplate order over and over again, just changing the company name and the date.”

    It is fair to observe that US federal judges have been robo-signing for years.

  10. Lambert Strether

    Re privacy: As far as framing, I think the idea that secret laws and secret interprations of the law are not compatible with the sovereignty of a free people is the stronger. For one thing, it appeals across the spectrum, and bypasses the silly “I have nothing to hide” argument, a swamp of trollery.

    I mean, how are we supposed to obey the law if we don’t know what it is? Ask a policeman?

  11. Gareth

    It’s heartwarming to see the US and Al Qaeda working together again in Syria. Is all forgiven?

    1. scraping_by

      Same financing source for the USG leadership and AQ. In every other enterprise in the world, handing over money equals control, to a greater or lesser degree. So they’re two sides of the same enterprise.

  12. Susan the other

    Thanks for Paul Craig Roberts. I’m one of the few who can remember a different country. I was a child in the 50s. I remember a country that was so proud and insulated as to be dismayed by the civil rights movement. “Oh dear, look at those riots!” But instead of shooting perps and scapegoats in the back of the head, the government took a firm stand for civil rights. So, yes, that was long ago. We’re younger than that now. The thing PCR just said that made me connect the dots I should have connected before is that the reason so many corporations off-shored their manufacturing to cut labor costs was so they could guarantee profits and protect themselves from Wall Street corporate raiders.

    Clearly we need legislation, clear laws which are easy to enforce, that protect corporations from corporate raiders and all sorts of profiteers. We do not pass this kind of legislation – in fact, we do not ever discuss it. Just another sin of omission that we try not to acknowledge.

  13. Skeptic

    Sorry, too far gone to even begin to get excited by yet another “hero” who as Yves put it “You could not have done better if you had gone to central casting and had a professional scriptwriter.”

    Gee, that’s an interesting statement, huh?

    1) Snowden told us exactly nothing that any half-aware person in this already existant police-state didn’t already know or at least fully suspect.

    2) Like Manning’s leak, the information really is ho-hum. In Manning’s case, I guess that we were supposed to be excited about the revelations that in launching TWO illegal wars of aggression – war crimes in and of themselves – based upon a false flag attack on 9/11 – the United States committed even MORE war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan?! Whodathunk?

    Similarly, with Snowden, we’re supposed to be surprised and downright outraged that the government has been snooping on us when the PATRIOT act has been law for over a decade?!!

    Total Information Awareness, Room 641A and on and on but only now everyone’s just so surprised and mad?

    3) The POTUS has stated that he has the right to murder US citizens without trial and I’m supposed to be MORE outraged over the fact that the government is tapping my phone which I – with much evidence to believe so – already basically thought they were doing?

    I know eveyone will start to shout me down but whenever I see the American herd rushing – or being rushed? – to the next shiny object or “hero” in this matrix-like prison of a country, the first thing I do is STOP MOVING and START THINKING.

    High school dropout, worked his entire life for intelligence services, trained to be special forces, was making way over 6 figures and now this gushingly articulate young man decides to come forward and save us all?!

    Oh joy.

    There sure is nothing to make a person stop and think for a second there in his bio, huh?

    Right, I’m probably just too cynical for my own good.

    Maybe I’m really jealous of Snowden or something like that.

    Or maybe since the government and the media rammed the fairy tale of 9/11 down our throats and continues to support that farcical nonsense with all of its spin-offs and ridiculous addenda to this day, I don’t take anything or anyone the media tells me to pay attention to at face value no matter how much I’d really really like to believe in it.

    Call me cyncial but it seems that a society that already exists within a police-state and who desperately want/need a hero are going to get one handed to them.

    P.S.: Some writers I’ve read have said that Snowden is the greatest whistle-blower in the last 100 years?

    Hyperbolic much?

    1. Skeptic

      I love how asking questions means one is an Obama apologist.

      I guess being super-kewel in figuring out that Obama was a fraud means that there’s just NO WAY you could be suckered by another fraud/patsy, huh?

      Here a list of questions from another site:

      Could Snowden have been given extraordinary access to classified info as part of a larger scheme? Could he be a) an honest man and yet b) a guy who was set up to do what he’s doing now?

      If b) is true, then Snowden fits the bill perfectly. He wants to do what he’s doing. He isn’t lying about that. He means what he says.

      Okay. Let’s look at his history as reported by The Guardian.

      In 2003, at age 19, without a high school diploma, Snowden enlists in the Army. He begins a training program to join the Special Forces. The sequence here is fuzzy. At what point after enlistment can a new soldier start this training program? Does he need to demonstrate some exceptional ability before Special Forces puts him in that program?

      Snowden breaks both legs in a training exercise. He’s discharged from the Army. Is that automatic? How about healing and then resuming Army service? Just asking.

      If he was accepted in the Special Forces training program because he had special computer skills, then why discharge him simply because he broke both legs?

      Circa 2003 (?), Snowden gets a job as a security guard for an NSA facility at the University of Maryland. He specifically wanted to work for NSA? It was just a generic job opening he found out about?

      Also in 2003 (?), Snowden shifts jobs. He’s now in the CIA, in IT. He has no high school diploma. He’s a young computer genius?

      In 2007, Snowden is sent to Geneva. He’s only 23 years old. The CIA gives him diplomatic cover there. He’s put in charge of maintaining computer-network security. Major job. Obviously, he has access to a very wide range of classified documents. Sound a little odd? Again, just asking. He’s just a kid. Maybe he has his GED by now. Otherwise, he still doesn’t have a high school diploma.

      Snowden says that during this period, in Geneva, one of the incidents that really sours him on the CIA is the “turning of a Swiss banker.” One night, CIA guys get a banker drunk, encourage him to drive home, the banker gets busted, the CIA guys help him out, then with that bond formed, they eventually get the banker to reveal deep banking secrets to the Agency.

      Snowden is this naïve? He doesn’t know by now that the CIA does this sort of thing all the time? He’s shocked? He “didn’t sign up for this?”

      In 2009, Snowden leaves the CIA. Why? Presumably because he’s disillusioned. It should be noted here that Snowden claimed he could do very heavy damage to the entire US intelligence community in 2008, but decided to wait because he thought Obama, just coming into the presidency, might make good changes.

      After two years with the CIA in Geneva, Snowden really had the capability to take down the whole US intelligence network, or a major chunk of it? He had that much access to classified data?

      Anyway, in 2009, Snowden leaves the CIA and goes to work for a private defense contractor. Apparently, by this time, he knows all about the phony US war in Iraq, and yet he chooses to work for a sector that relentlessly promotes such wars. Go figure.

      This defense contractor (unnamed) assigns him to work at an NSA facility in Japan. Surely, Snowden understands what the NSA is. He knows it’s a key part of the whole military-intelligence network, the network he opposes.

      But he takes the job anyway. Perhaps he’s doing it so he can obtain further access to classified data, in advance of blowing a big whistle. Perhaps.

      Snowden goes on to work for two private defense contractors, Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton. In this latter job, Snowden is again assigned to work at the NSA.

      He’s an outsider, but he claims to have so much sensitive NSA data that he can take down the whole US intelligence network in a single day. Hmm.

      These are red flags. They raise questions. Serious ones.

      1. sd

        Due to a shortage of intelligence analysts, Bradley Manning was given access to SIRPnet and JWICS as soon as he arrived in Iraq. At the time, he was a Private with just under two years in the military.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Oh, please. You are too enamored of the conventional education system, which happens to suck.

        Bill Gates, you seem to forget, was a college dropout and he’s an absolute obvious weirdo (didn’t bathe to the point where he had impressive body odor, although I believe his wife reformed him on that issue, trouble making eye contact and staying still in meetings. Go look at vids of his testimony in the antitrust case. That’s him behaving when he’s been SCRIPTED by pricy lawyers). And his parents are very well off, he got his IBM contract that MADE Microsoft came because his mother sat on the same board as an IBM exec. How would Gates have wound up if he had ordinary middle class parents?

        I know LOTS of people who are smarter than people with fancy degrees who either didn’t go to college or didn’t go to very good colleges. And one of the smartest people I know is a mere high school dropout. Oh, and he would up in IT.

        Churchill also barely got through private school and college. Go read any bio. It was clearly dumb luck that he got into Sandhurst (details on what was tested and some parts of the test he got were flukes, he would have failed otherwise). And his parent were in despair about Sandhurst, that wasn’t a proper school for kids of the upper crust (worse than what would be a safety school in America). So similarly, he would have been a putz per you if he didn’t have a rich, connected family making sure he got through private school and landed SOMEWHERE.

        1. Inverness

          I’m wary of blanket statements about the conventional school system, having worked in excellent and lousy institutions. Certainly there are very bright people who can, and do succeed without it.

        2. Skeptic

          So, Yves, because Bill Gates and some of your smarter-than-average colleagues didn’t go the traditional route and still became successes, that means that none of the questions raised about Snowden’s background are valid?!!

          People are ready to carve this kid’s face on Mt. Rushmore and yet I’m not allowed to think it’s a bit weird how a kid who didn’t complete high school OR his JC computer science coursework OR his full military service ends up working on network security for the CIA in Geneva within the span of a few years via a stint as a Security GUARD for the NSA?

          Security guard, security analyst, what’s the diff, right?

          How about someone ask him some basic IT networking questions like explain what a network mask is or how TCP/IP works?

          I mean, was the CIA using AD in Geneva and was Snowden resetting passwords? Is that how he knows who all the CIA agents in Europe are?

          Sorry, DarkKnight, I forgot to give you super-user privileges. My bad. Now the cow can jump over the moon….

          At least Manning’s story was plausible even if he was setup but this story’s a bit much even though, yes, people do sometimes pull themselves up by their own bootstraps at times.

          Kind of like Larry Ellison who developed the Oracle software…oh wait, except that he was also working for the CIA on a project called “Oracle” and which the CIA “allowed” him to go public with.

          “Ellison and his partners won a two-year contract to build a relational database management system (RDBMS) for the CIA. The project’s code name: Oracle. They finished the project a year ahead of schedule and used the extra time to develop their system for commercial applications. They named their commercial RDBMS Oracle as well. In 1980, Ellison’s company had only eight employees, and revenues were less than $1 million, but the following year, IBM itself adopted Oracle for its mainframe systems, and Oracle’s sales doubled every year for the next seven years,. The million dollar company was becoming a billion dollar company. Ellison renamed the company Oracle Corporation, for its best-selling product.”

          Gee, I always thought the CIA was a force for evil but they seem like swell guys!!!

          Helping out disadvantaged youth who don’t finish school or their military service.

          Funding start-ups out of the kindness of their hearts.

          Why, no wonder Kos applied to work for them!

          Their just a bunch of really, really nice people.

          A force for good in the world.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Skeptic, Honestly, what you’ve written verges on incoherent, a sign of desperation.

            1. There are plenty of self educated IT types who are extremely competent. In fact, conventional IT education is terrible and the self taught types are often the best.

            2. There’s not any reason he’d necessarily have to have super duper IT chops to have the job he has.

            You haven’t made any kind of case re anything. All you’ve done is hand-wave.

          2. psychohistorian

            Your approach has a name, its agnotology. The short version is, the manufacturing of ignorance.
            Marginalization by another name.

            Are we sure we are sure we are sure we are sure we are sure we are led by an inherited plutocracy that has turned our democracy into fascism?

            You sound like you could be someone who might be wanting to keep the exist sickness going until you are gone….selfish asshole type.

        3. anon y'mouse

          am I wrong, but I thought I read somewhere in the “reveal” links that his entire family works back east for the government in some [unstated] capacity.

          I also thought to myself “no way that guy would be hired by GOOGLE!” when they referenced his c.v. no MIT, no PolySci anywhere.

          just…security guard!

        4. cwaltz

          Anecdotal,but my spouse ALSO only has a GED and the CIA tried to recruit him back in the 90s.

          The fact that someone was with Special Forces makes them very attractive because that means they already have a clearance. A Top Secret clearance background check can take about 2 years.

          As far as the GED thing, the military would have given him the ASVAB which is actually what they utilize when matching members to skill sets. My husband only had a GED but his ASVAB was well over 90 which enabled him to attend ET school,one of the harder Naval schools. They look at your verbal and math scores for any specialties. As it is A LOT of people who have GEDs are smart and were just bored to tears with conventional school. Not everyone is geared to learn by sitting docilely in a classroom.

        5. nobody

          “[A]bsolute obvious weirdo” = obvious autistic.

          “How would Gates have wound up if he had ordinary middle class parents?”

          Maybe in a maths, physics, or engineering department, maybe doing sound work for Pink Floyd, maybe as the next Andy Warhol, maybe on the streets or in prison, maybe living with his parents till their deaths.

        1. Inverness

          This isn’t a fair reading of what Skeptic was saying. You can disagree with him, but it should be done more fairly.

      3. JTFaraday

        “Could Snowden have been… a guy who was set up to do what he’s doing now?”

        I have considered the possibility that someone other than Snowden and Greenwald wanted this leak.

        I haven’t gotten any further than that.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          Try this on: The spooks have (or Saddam-like want it widely believed that they have) pretty much all the dirt on everyone–but particularly those in positions of power. OK, so far so good. How exactly does one leverage that into influence without making overt threats that could be followed back to their source or giving the game up in a way that threatens the project? J. Edgar-like blackmail threats–photos of the august Senator in the men’s room stall with a teenage boy or a prostitute could blowback today in the internet age. The best way is to somehow let it be known that all this dirt is held and to let that knowledge inform everyone’s every action–to induce a Stalinesque generalized fear of the security state. You don’t have to make specific threats or demands– people will self-censor or submit prophylactically if they fear the consequences of challenging the status quo.

          Maybe this a simple and timely reminder, whether Snowden is aware of his role or not, from the spooks to the public and the powerful in particular that “We know where you live and we know what you did last Summer.” Cross us at your peril.

  14. Jim Haygood

    Oh my, why didn’t we think of this?

    Amid the revelations that the National Stasi Agency has been secretly monitoring the records of millions of phone calls across the country via telephone service provider Verizon, Congress is concerned that the NSA’s actions may have also captured phone calls of lawmakers and their staffers.

    Verizon is one of the main service providers to government issued Blackberries members and their staff use to communicate with one another.

    A senior Senate staffer [said], “Senators and staff all use Verizon phones. So the executive branch is monitoring the metadata of the Senate. This seems like a violation of the Speech and Debate Clause of the Constitution.”

    ‘Concerned’? ‘Seems like’ a violation?

    Congress is totally PWNed … and it shows.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Didn’t senator Feinstein say everyone was under suspicion?

      Everyone means everyone.

    2. JTFaraday

      Never let a good crisis go to waste. I’d say the possibilities are endless there.

  15. curlydan

    For Senator Diane Feinstein and the rest of the apologist crew:
    “Now it is 1984
    Knock-knock at your front door
    It’s the suede/denim secret police
    They have come for your uncool niece”
    –“California, Uber Alles” by The Dead Kennedys

  16. JohnL

    This from Bloomberg: How TSA’s Groping Softened Us Up for NSA’s Snooping

    “This is the E-ZPass Theory of government intrusion: Most people, when faced with a choice between privacy and convenience, will go with convenience. E-ZPass, of course, provides government agencies with an efficient way of tracking your movements up and down the New Jersey Turnpike, but who cares? The line at the tollbooth is so much shorter.”

    Well yes, but the toll booths, as well as pretty much every cop car, major bridge and tunnel crossings, airports, and even small town red lights, have license plate scanners anyway. If you want to stay off the grid, don’t drive or fly. Go by bike, at least until the facial scanners get better. Then you’ll have to stay home and avoid the drones.

  17. curlydan

    My Top 10 Songs to Quell The Rage I Feel About the NSA

    (music is therapy)

    10. I’m So Bored With the USA – The Clash
    9. Get Off Of My Clould – The Rolling Stones
    8. Subterranean Homesick Blues – Bob Dylan
    7. Volunteers – Jefferson Airplane
    6. California Uber Alles – Dead Kennedys
    5. Guns of Brixton – The Clash
    4. Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell
    3. Life During Wartime – The Talking Heads
    2. We’re Not Going to Take It – The Who
    1. Funky Boss – The Beastie Boys

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I need somewhere quite, no loud music, so when I scream, I will be heard.

    1. diane

      And then there are the questions surrounding Peter Thiel [PayPal, Facebook, ….] founded, Palantir Technologies’ Prism platform:

      06/10/13 Want To Know Everything About Everyone? Work the Prism For Palantir!

      The Facebook/CIA-funded Silicon Valley startup denies that its “world’s leading intelligence infrastructure platform” called Prism is the same wholesale data-mining operation called Prism

      From Bloomberg, a while back:

      11/22/11 Palantir, the War on Terror’s Secret Weapon

      Using Palantir technology, the FBI can now instantly compile thorough dossiers on U.S. citizens, tying together surveillance video outside a drugstore with credit-card transactions, cell-phone call records, e-mails, airplane travel records, and Web search information. ….

      (bolding mine)

        1. diane

          yep, particularly for electronics and communications. It seems the powers that be would love nothing more than having all transactions transmitted through one’s mobile phone, or home computer.

          I think everyone should use cash as much as possible.

  18. Elliot

    Internet search engine Ixquick on privacy:
    “Ixquick has always been very outspoken when it comes to protecting people’s privacy and civil liberties. So it won’t surprise you that we are a strong opponent of overreaching, unaccountable spy programs like PRISM. In the past, even government surveillance programs that were begun with good intentions have become tools for abuse, for example tracking civil rights and anti-war protesters.

    Programs like PRISM undermine our Privacy, disrupt faith in governments, and are a danger to the free Internet.

    Ixquick and its sister search engine StartPage have in their 14-year history never provided a single byte of user data to the US government, or any other government or agency. Not under PRISM, nor under any other program in the US, nor under any program anywhere in the world. We are not like Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Apple, Skype, or the other US companies who got caught up in the web of PRISM surveillance.”


    “We are working hard to offer you an encrypted email service later this year called StartMail. We have to stand up and protect our freedoms from increasing overreach from data gatherers.”

  19. optimader

    US nuclear bombs ‘based in Netherlands’ – ex-Dutch PM Lubbers

    I wonder what that costs to keep them laying around? If they are truly 1960’s vintage, I would think they are pretty well poached from radiation.

  20. MIWill

    Geez, I’m thinking to myself, where in the hell did I put my car keys?

    ding! You have mail.

    From: Stew, intern floor cleaner at Booz Allen Hamilton
    Subject: Your keys

    Your keys are in the pocket of the jeans you wore yesterday.


  21. Glenn Condell

    Our province resembles empire central more with every passing day:

    They’re spying on us dept:

    Revolving door hands-off regulators dept:

    but also a thoughtful 1%er who wants his class to pay more tax:

    We are also being notified breathlessly every day about the exploits of someone called LeBron James. There was no market for US sport here not so long ago but Rupert and co have (relentlessly) created one.

  22. mookie

    I love the Urth of the New Sun series! I’ve got to read more Gene Wolfe. I’ve been busy with George Saunders recently.

    I read all 5 ASOIAF books in the space of about 5 weeks last january-february. I wouldn’t recommend it; it was a bit much. Books 4 and 5 were disappointing after the pacing and focus of the first 3.

  23. rich

    Banks Seen as Enabling Fraud Against Seniors
    Bruno Koch, 83, told the telemarketer on the line that, yes, of course he would like to update his health insurance card. Then Mr. Koch, of Newport News, Va., slipped up: he divulged his bank account information.

    What happened next is all too familiar. Money was withdrawn from Mr. Koch’s account for something that he now says he never authorized. The new health insurance card never arrived.

    What is less familiar — and what federal authorities say occurs with alarming frequency — is that a reputable bank played a crucial role in parting Mr. Koch from his money. The bank was the 140-year-old Zions Bank of Salt Lake City. Despite spotting suspicious activity, Zions served as a gateway between dubious Internet merchants and their marks — and made money for itself in the process, according to newly unsealed court documents reviewed by The New York Times.

    Last November, First Delaware reached a $15 million settlement with the Justice Department after the bank was accused of allowing merchants to illegally debit accounts more two million times and siphon more than $100 million.
    The problems at Zions and First Delaware, where the banks became financial conduits and quiet enablers for questionable businesses, extend well beyond those two institutions, federal authorities say. Indeed, banks across the country, from some of the largest to smaller regional players, help facilitate billions of dollars of fraud each year, according to interviews with consumer lawyers and state and federal prosecutors.

    1. psychohistorian

      I have been waiting for over an hour for the gov web site to authenticate my login creation so I can support the petition.

      Must be some problem with the intertubes…..grin

      Bad news never travels fast…..

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