Links 6/7/13

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How ancient collision shaped New York skyline BBC (Richard Smith)

For “Glassholes” only: Google Glass’s exclusion problem Gigaom (Lambert). Maybe Bloomberg will decide that they make it too easy to video the police….

The Feds’ ‘Ultimate Solution’ to Curb Distracted Driving Wired

N.Z. Revenue Minister Quits Amid Inquiry Into Leaked Spy Report Bloomberg (Richard Smith)

Olli Rehn should resign for crimes against Greece and against economics Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

Europe’s lie MacroBusiness

Big Brother is Watching You. Notice the deafening silence from Obambots?

Anger swells after NSA phone records court order revelations Guardian. Is it just bad lighting, or is Obama starting to go grey in the picture here? I’d called his luck Dorian Grey portrait starting not to work, maybe his traditional Dorian Grey portrait is also losing power.

Why Should Voters Pay For Useless NSA Databases? Moon of Alabama. He’s missing what it is useless for. This isn’t for finding terrorists. It’s for finding out what you are up to should you become a person of interest for whatever means.

Internet giants deny knowledge of NSA eavesdropping program Guardian. Picked up elsewhere, but this is gonna get interesting. It is not implausible that this program was kept secret even from most execs. And tah dah, now we go from categorical denials to this: U.S. Says It Gathers Online Data Abroad New York Times. And what happens if you e-mail or have a Facebook friend who is overseas? I’m hoping to have a post soon from an expert who has sent an argument that needs a bit more unpacking as to why he believe the authorities can learn more from metadata than you’d think…

Section 215: The White House’s Bullshit Talking Points Marcy Wheeler. Read this now.

WSJ: NSA Program Also Tracking Credit Card Transactions Mother Jones. Hhm, as much as I’m not keen on helping warehouse worker abusing Amazon, if you buy everything through Amazon (remember, they have a kazillion merchants), the NSA folks will have to go another layer to figure out what you bought. And there is always good old cash.

Drillers Silence Fracking Claims With Sealed Settlements Bloomberg

Misfired Email Alerted IRS Officials To Tea Party Targeting Reuters

30 million to remain uninsured under Obamacare Physicians for a National Health Program (martha r)

Disapproval of Affordable Care Act Hits a New High Jon Walker, Firedoglake

ObamaCare Clusterfuck: vs. Corrente

$1 Trillion Debt Crushes Business Dreams of U.S. Students Bloomberg

Wall Street Sees Trade Deals as Opportunity to Further Gut Dodd-Frank DSwright, Firedoglake

One Walmart’s Low Wages Could Cost Taxpayers $900,000 Per Year, House Dems Find Huffington Post (AbyNormal)

Walmart workers: ‘We can’t survive’ Guardian. I was in a Walmart in West Virginia last month (not my plan!) and the women at the registers looked so sad and downtrodden.

U.S. Payroll to Population and Unemployment Worsen in May Gallup (Scott)

Fewest Hedge Funds Invest in Gold Since 2010 as Assets Fall 31% Bloomberg

Why GE and Citi Settled with FHFA David Fiderer, American Banker

Mother Jones talks Elizabeth Warren’s book Corrente

Global factors in capital flows and credit growth VoxEU. Consistent with the Borio/Disyatat point of view.

The refi boom is over FTAlphaville

Antidote du jour (Chuck L):


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    1. diptherio

      I once came across a sow black bear and her cub while hiking in the Absorkee-Beartooth range. This particular mother of nature probably only weighed 150 lbs. or so, but I still gave her plenty of respect. I assured her loudly that I was leaving and she “escorted” me about two miles down the trail, just to make sure. When I got to the trail head parking lot, I started telling people to avoid the trail I had been on, since BEAR WITH CUB. A couple of Californians asked if I gotten a picture of the cub(!)…it was all I could do to not throttle them both on the spot. People…

        1. diptherio

          Ha! No, as soon as I saw the cub I turned around and skedattled back down the trail, which was wise since mama bear emerged from the bushes about two seconds after I’d turned tail to flee. She then followed me down the mountain at a slow trot for a few miles. She stayed on the trail and followed the switchbacks down the hill; I just went straight down as fast as possible.

          If I would have been a city-slicker and reached for my camera, mama bear would have probably ended up mauling me, at least a little, since I had inadvertently come within a dozen feet of her precious young one. Then Fish and Game might have ended up shooting the bear. Homo Sapien-Ursine interactions almost always end up being at least as bad for the bear involved as for the humans. Hence my frustrations with the Cali folks.

          Fortunately, others have gotten pictures; like this one, for instance:

          (that is almost exactly what I saw, coming around that switchback years ago, all by myself and five miles from the nearest possible help…real smart)

          1. AbyNormal

            sorry diptherio but i can’t help but laugh…if you’d been a slicker we’d seen you on ‘faces of death/BoB BoB BoB wheres your arm :-/

  1. financial matters

    Why GE and Citi Settled with FHFA David Fiderer, American Banker

    Interesting defense..

    “”This argument is unseemly, because it says that it is not reasonable for the GSEs or anyone else to assume that the world’s largest banks made a practice of complying with the Securities Act of 1933. No wonder GE and Citi chose to walk away from that legal quagmire””

  2. silver linings showroom

    >> authorities can learn more from metadata than you’d think…

    Yeah. Like, if you email someone overseas and if someone’s machine-reading message there, how do you know that isn’t copied back to the the home country? When someone replies or forwards your email, normally the entire thread is passed along, too. So, your original words are endlessly repeated. Does that increase the odds of machine-reading them?

    I have a similar concern about that law or regulation that allows propaganda abroad but not at home. What happens when a local paper or TV station talks about whatever “news” was reported in some foreign paper? Hypothetically, it could be that that “news” is propaganda coming back to us.

    1. David Lentini

      What happens when a local paper or TV station talks about whatever “news” was reported in some foreign paper? Hypothetically, it could be that that “news” is propaganda coming back to us.

      It gets worse: What happpens when the government plants a story in a paper that that is later reported back as “news”? Cheney & Co. gave a clinic in running that old scam to gin up support for the Iraq War. And given the shrinking commitment news organizations have for direct reporting, as opposed to hiring stringers or freelancers or just using a pool, we’re even more vulnerable to this game than we realize.

      1. MikeW_CA

        Actually, The Guardian is building up a pretty big US presence lately. They have a US oriented front page at

          1. Propertius

            When I want US political news, my first stop these days is usually The Guardian followed by Al-Jazeera and Le Monde. I pretty much don’t believe anything I see in US media, unless it’s about Paris Jackson. ;-)

    2. curlydan

      The whole phrase “meta-data” is misleading to me. They are collecting data, your data and my data. Anyone with a masters in stats or math can develop an algorithm to take that data, trigger a probable cause flag or certain probability, then the feds will get a search warrant for the voice data or anything else.

      It’s kind of a like a recent Supreme Court case where the dog was sniffing outside someone’s home. The dog smells drugs, THEN the police get a warrant. The Supremes ruled that wasn’t legal, but I doubt the Supremes will come to our defense on this one.

      They’re sniffing around everyone’s phone data, wanting to find something.

  3. silver linings showroom

    >> if you buy everything through Amazon (remember, they have a kazillion merchants), the NSA folks will have to go another layer to figure out what you bought.

    Uh…but, doesn’t Amazon — in intermediating the transactions — forever know/track exactly what you bought? (How else could they do business?)

    You’d have to buy (probably in cash and in person) from those kazillion merchants. And even then, if there’s a security camera on premises, what’s to stop someone from correlating point-of-sale data with results from face-recognition algorithms run against the security camera video? I know that’s far-fetched now. But, anything’s possible with future tech.

    People should think about whether they truly like living under a microscope. And if we do, how should we ensure the power isn’t abused? (With FISA-court rubber stamping?)

    1. another

      They’ll just read your emailed order confirmation.

      Let’s stop calling it the Internet and start calling it the Panopticon.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Right now, they are only using metadata + credit card transaction records. So they aren’t reading order confirmations.

        Adding that would add orders of magnitude more complexity. Not sayin’ they won’t get there, but they are not there now.

  4. Klassy!

    It would be nice if unions would connect the dots and stop rubber stamping D candidates, because it seems to me that when governments exercise these broad powers, they’re not particularly succesful in foiling authentic terror plots, but they are succesful in rubbing out worker dissension. Same goes for environmentalists.

    1. Ned Ludd

      Last year, National Journal showed the compensation packages “for 558 chief executives of trade associations, labor unions, interest groups, think tanks, and other nonprofits with a significant presence in Washington.” Below is a sample of what people earn running unions, environmental organizations, and public interest groups.

      Labor Unions
      Mary Kay Henry, SEIU – $305,309
      Richard L. Trumka, AFL-CIO – $344,850
      Joseph T. Hansen, UFCW – $384,847
      James P. Hoffa, Teamsters – $460,389
      Edwin D. Hill, IBEW – $485,453
      Dennis Van Roekel, NEA – $543,868
      Gerald McEntee, AFSCME – $668,727

      Environmental and Conservation Organizations
      Phil Radford, Greenpeace – $142,801
      Michael Brune, Sierra Club – $182,821
      Carl Pope, Sierra Club – $235,786
      Larry J. Schweiger, National Wildlife Federation – $349,911
      Frederic D. Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund – $423,359
      Francis Beinecke, Natural Resources Defense Council – $432,742
      Carter S. Roberts, World Wildlife Fund – $455,147
      Mark Tercek, Nature Conservancy – $493,993
      Steve E. Sanderson, Wildlife Conservation Society – $1,675,327

      Public Interest Groups
      Gene Karpinski, League of Conservation Voters – $207,194
      Larry Cox, Amnesty International USA – $216,922
      Jonathan T.M. Reckford, Habitat for Humanity International – $266,422
      Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP – $288,121
      Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood Federation of America – $354,716
      Anthony Romero, ACLU – $369,220
      Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch – $393,193
      James Guest, Consumers Union – $639,290
      A. Barry Rand, AARP – $924,613
      Gail J. McGovern, American Red Cross – $1,032,022

      Most of these people are part of the ruling class. Standing up to power will be the exception, not the rule.

      1. Klassy!

        Oh yeah– a huge problem indeed. I know the leadership is corrupt and only interested in courting power for their own power. I was talking about rank and file.
        Excellent rundown of the “public interest” leaders pay packages. I think the whole nonprofit scam scheme should be scrapped.

        1. sd

          Do the ‘compensation packages’ include health, pension and welfare, vacation and other benefits?

          Back of envelope, the head of the AFL-CIO is making $6000 week. Take home is about $3500 week.

          That’s certainly comfortable, but by no means anywhere close to the obscene compensation Wall Street is awarding itself.

      2. afisher

        I find it a bit sanctimonious to ignore Foundations like, oh say, the Heritage Foundations newest “CEO” DeMint – $1.000,000. Or should we only look at what the author wants us to look at, just asking?

        1. diptherio

          True, but not many people here think much of the Heritage foundation as it is, and no one is expecting them to stand up to the PTB. The numbers for Consumer’s Union and AARP are a little shocking, even to a cynic like myself.

        2. diane

          The thang is, ‘angler’- as I’m pretty sure you’re actually quite aware of – that the Heritage Foundation has already been BUSTED and peeped, ….over, and over and over again; while their kissing cuzinz, the mostly DemRat ‘aligned’ Non Profit$$$$’$ VIP$, have deliberately gone unobserved, unquestioned, and undamned. High time they share in being called the $elf $erving (only) fraud$ that so many of them are.

  5. MikeW_CA

    “if you buy everything through Amazon…, the NSA folks will have to go another layer to figure out what you bought.”

    No, they won’t. They’ll just demand your invoice from Amazon, along with everybody else’s, and get them.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe I should just buy Zen meditation books that will help me empty my mind of thoughts.

      That should be innocuous enough.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      They need a court order for that now. And you’d have to analyze manually.

      We are looking at stuff that can be done via metadata tags and data merging, looking for patterns across huge amounts of info.

      Now if you become a person of interest, I’m sure they’ll look hard. But they seem to be particularly interested in geolocation data (where you are when) . The transaction stuff is likely to be more of interest to see how much you spend (out of line with IRS income?) and how often you travel (ccard records show details of domestic flights).

      I mean, what can they learn from your other ccard purchases? You have an expensive cable plan? Where you buy your groceries? Now what magazines and newspapers you subscribe to might be of interest. You need to think of what they want to establish about you.

      1. Chris Engel

        Has FISA ever seen an NSA request that they didn’t trip over themselves to approve?

        And if it’s part of an ongoing terror investigation doesn’t it trump the extra layer anyway (per PATRIOT ACT)?

      2. bob

        “You need to think of what they want to establish about you”

        Just expanding on this point. All of this data gathering, while “maybe” not directly illegal, is not allowed in court.

        They aren’t using this information to build criminal cases. The only reason it “might” be legal is that no one has written law dealing directly with digital privacy.

        There is a lot of law out there protecting the privacy of phone calls, but not much dealing directly with…say…VOIP.

        If a police dept wants to listen to your phone calls, they need a warrant. If they are found to be listening to those phone calls without a warrant, there is a penalty.

        Does the same penalty apply when dealing with voip? The gov argues no, since it’s not a phone call.

        Collecting data that can’t be used in court is most useful for personal attacks, not court cases.

        And yet again….THE GOV IS GETTING ALL THIS INFO FROM PRIVATE COMPANIES…there is even less law dealing with what those private companies can do with the data. There might be a little bit of oversight on the NSA…there’s none on google, or verizon(outside of landlines) or apple.

        The gov in most cases is buying information freely availible on “the market”. Bought and sold daily.

    3. sid_finster

      Begin and end every phone convo, text, Skype Congo, etc., even the most innocuous, with “Allahu Akbar.”

  6. Ned Ludd

    Most of the denials mention that the NSA does not have “direct access” to the servers. The NSA could still have access to all the data. Responsible companies with large amounts of data regularly copy all of their data to an off-site location. The tech giants could treat an NSA data center as just another site for replication of their data. The NSA would get frequently updated copies of everything.

    As far as the excuse: “We have never heard of PRISM”; the name itself is probably top secret and no unnecessary details about it – including the name – are going to be shared with people who do not need to know. In fact, the engineers who set up the replication probably did not even know that they were feeding data to the NSA. Large companies, even with sensitive information, often buy space at data centers operated by third parties for replication of their data. An engineer may frequently visit the data center, but they aren’t going to know if it’s owned by a front company for the NSA or know if the NSA has access to the replicated data.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Please tell me that’s a parody site (or a scam):

        If you have ever met Rob Roy, then you have heard about his respect for his team in great detail. He has attracted some of the world’s most effective, knowledgeable and humorous leaders in the industry.

        You can see the team through Rob’s eyes by viewing their Avatars that he created. Each team member has a custom Avatar created when they join the fascinating world of Switch.

        [screams. breaking glass.]

  7. Kevin

    I never thought I would say this, May the Goverment
    be poxed with spamspamspam & more spam. Just so you
    know I HATE SPAM! :{

  8. craazyman

    Prices are Falling Like Rocks From the Sky

    I know the economic sightings thread was two days ago but this didn’t happen until yesterday. And it was an incredible experience.

    This almost never happens to me. I spent some money on clothes. Walking up 3rd by Men’s Wearhouse at lunch and wanted to waste some time. I was imagining I migth need a funky leather sportcoat jacket for corporate casual attire, and God Almight, there was one there — fake leather probably — for $129! black suede from Italy! A beautiful red label with some Italian name on it by the color. A touch of color so perfect it was like a painting if you held it out two feet with your arms and looked at it. so cool it’s something Sammy Davis Junior would have worn.

    So the sales girl said it’s on sale and it might be less even than $129, I would probly have paid $159. I would certainly have paid $129. So she puts the barcode reader on the tag and looks at the computer. “Sixty dollahs” she says while chewing gum. Whoa!

    Then she told me they were haveing a 2 for 1 sale, on almost everything. They had Polo shirts for $29.95. I looked carefully at them, and bought two.

    That’s under $100 for a black leather sport coat from Italy so cool Sammy Davis Junior would wear it, and two polo shirts! No the ones with Alligators. These are store brand polo shirts, but I compared them at home to two I have with Alligators and Sh*t! They are better in almost every way. Better stitching. Better reinforcement at necks and shoulders. Better feeling fabric. Just no little Alligator. F*k the alligator. I’m not a billboard for somebody else’s branding.

    All this for less than a hundred bucks! In Manhattan! I dont’ know what the mathematical models would say about this, but probably nothing that would make sense. How can you predict something like this? Even 5 minutes before it happened I would have said it’s impossible that, within the next 15 minutes, I will have spent $100 at the Men’s Wearhouse. But I did. And I got at least $800 worth of clothing. I’m figureing about $160 worth of Polo shirts and a $640 Sammy Davis Las Vegas Sport Coat jacket. I think that’s $800.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Remember this:

      If you want to pay less for junk but not more for quality (including service, like actually knowing the seller), and you want to talk about it, it’s all good.

      But if you want to pay more for quality (including service, like actually knowing the seller) but not less for junk, and you want to write to a certain blogger, it’s arrogance!

    2. prostratedragon

      Shades of the mid-70s, when a Manhattan shopper could wear the better rtw labels on very modest salary. Don’t know what it means here, but worth a marker.

  9. diptherio

    Re: Internet Giants Deny Knowledge of NSA Eavesdropping

    Wouldn’t they be required to deny knowledge of the program even if they did know about it? It’s my understanding that requests for information under anti-terrorism laws often include a gag provision barring the recipient from discussing the matter with anyone or even acknowledging receipt of the order. Couldn’t it be the case that Google execs, et al, have decided that it’s safer to side with the security agencies and are trying to help them do damage control?

      1. Juneau

        The president just gave a press conference on the implementation of the healthcare bill in CA. The Q and A was mostly about the Verizon NSA issue-he said “nobody is listening to the telephones”….who said a person had to listen.
        It is much more efficient to screen data using computers. Can’t computers understand english these days? No human required to document the conversations, just a good voice recognition program.

        1. diptherio

          Notice that he said “nobody” and not “no thing” is listening. And besides, people are pissed off about the data collection, even if nobody and nothing are listening. And what about emails?

          Let us never forget that the POTUS is a lawyer: obfuscatory language is to be expected.

        2. Ned Ludd

          Also, advanced speech recognition could turn phone conversations into transcripts. Reading conversations would be a lot faster than “listening” to them.

          Obama chooses his words carefully.

          1. Cyclist

            Hmmm, maybe some clever IT type could come up with the following plug-in or add on for Outlook or Thunderbird:

            Somewhere an up-to-date database is maintained with hundreds of words which might be red flags for the NSA, et. al., like plutonium bomb, jihad, semtex, etc. Then we would all have this plug-in which would communticate with this database and attach a sig file to all our e-mails (in the smallest white on white font) with a message that reads something like “I do not approve of jihad, plutonium bombs, (random selection from database)….. etc. Something to keep the boys busy.

            1. Lambert Strether

              It would be easy to filter the sig. It would be less easy to filter words that were randomly inserted into the text and hidden with HTML spans with display set to none.

  10. Ray Phenicie

    ” And there is always good old cash.”
    No there is not always cash. That option would include doing without 90% of the things I have in my apartment.
    “Really, Mr. Phenicie, you want me to count out $3000 for the new furniture?” Getting the $3000 would be a task, hauling it around increases risks . . .
    Cash is not an option for me as I spend about $500-700/wk.

    1. Propertius

      The elimination of bills larger than $100 and the various “money-laundering” provisions which essentially criminalize the use of cash for non-trivial transactions, both ostensably part of the War on Some Drugs, has certainly mde it much more difficult to do any large transaction in cash. Somehow they do not seem to have impeded the drug trade, nor have they prevented the major banks from money-laundering.

      Funny how that works.

      1. Binky Bear

        Go to your bank. Buy traveler’s checks or bank checks for your purchase. Go to the grocery store (i.e. turn around in the supermarket) and go buy gift cards or Visa/Mastercard/Amex prepaid credit or debit cards. Do not use your Kroger’s club card to purchase them. Wear sunglasses if it makes you feel better.

      2. bob

        “to do any large transaction in cash”

        For “people” yes. For banks, not so much, and they make trillions off the drug trade.

        The only place you can “wash” cash is a bank. But, the banks can’t be seen to be accepting deposits from drug dealers.

        How to fix this? The gov wants to know about large cash deposits. But what about large cash sales?

        If a bank “sells” you a piece of property, you are in turn giving them cash. Done with a lawyer as a proxy for the “buyer” it probably passes the smell test. You recieve title to the property, the bank gets a suitcase full of “investor” cash.

        “Now…let’s talk about a mortage. You’ve just come into some collateral*cough*property I understand….”

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    30 million uninsured.

    I am not sure if 100,000 doctors not taking insurance patients is the answer…

  12. b2020

    Administration issues a denial non-denial, followed by rebuttal of a hypothetical FISA court order that does not exist, and Press Corpse does not shout them down for surreal bullshit.

    Meet Feinstein, New Order whistleblower – administration mouthpiece cannot confirm, so she helpfully leaks that this has been going on for 7 years.

    No worries – we can discern Obeyme’s diligence and obsession with data-mining social networking “signatures” from his careful and restrained use of bystander “degrees of separation” in double tap and other self-necessitating drone strikes. The man has a boner for Big Data omniscience that goes all the way into his miracle “free lunch” helath care cost reform by buying A Lot more computers and networking them better.

  13. Valissa

    Casinos ban gamblers from wearing Google Glass

    Anonymous Just Leaked a Trove of NSA Documents

    You Won’t Finish This Article – Why people online don’t read to the end.

  14. Ned Ludd

    Back in 2007, The Washington Post mentioned “glass prisms” in its article about Mark Klein, a whistleblower and retired technician from AT&T.

    [Klein] asked a technician there about the secret room on the 6th floor, and the technician told him it was connected to the Internet room a floor above. The technician, who was about to retire, handed him some wiring diagrams.

    “That was my ‘aha!’ moment,” Klein said. “They’re sending the entire Internet to the secret room.”

    The diagram showed splitters, glass prisms that split signals from each network into two identical copies. One fed into the secret room, the other proceeded to its destination, he said.

    “This splitter was sweeping up everything, vacuum-cleaner-style,” he said. “The NSA is getting everything. These are major pipes that carry not just AT&T’s customers but everybody’s.”

    Jaan Tallinn (jaantallinn), the co-founder of Skype, is doing an IAMA at reddit, and the topic of optic splitters was raised in response to a question about the PRISM surveillance program.

    wycks:All the companies have carefully worded thier PR as “direct access ” or “direct involvement”, the NSA is using indirect access (hardware filters, optic splitters), this is well crafted legal PR.

    The optic splitters are actually prisms, the name is no coincidence…

    jaantallinn:right, that’s a good point. what i’ve seen happen in PR departments is that they really want to avoid outright lying, but are OK with using careful wording and exotic definitions to make the meaning come out in certain light.

    The comment by wycks has since been edited (as indicated by an asterisk next to the timestamp at reddit); I quoted the original version that Tallinn responded to.

  15. barrisj

    Intrusive spying since “9-11” has been used for everything from tracking “Occupy” movement to insider trading. Lotta white-collar crime investigations get a leg up with Fed agencies tapping into NSA databases. Also, mapping of “whistle-blower” contacts easy prey for data mining as well. So, just forget about the nonsensical “terrorist” designation for snooping, it’s all about ordinary crime or, more chilling, “suspected criminal activity”. Lindsey Graham: “If you’re not getting a call from a terrorist organisation, you’ve got nothing to worry about”. Ta, mate, I really, really feel better already.

  16. Z

    As Moon of Alabama alludes to, one of the primary reasons that our rulers are hoarding their subjects’ personal data … saving it … so that if you create problems for them or their corporate sponsors in the future they can go back and retroactively figure out how to best put the squeeze on you.

    With so many laws in this country … and, in particular, the extremely vague and expansive terrorism and internet piracy laws … it has been said that the average citizen/subject commits three felonies a day. So how hard is it going to be for the government to gin up serious charges against you when they have all this data that is related to your past actions? Or how hard is it going to be for them to find embarrassing personal information on you that they can use to pressure you to turn on people or agree to stop being such a nuisance to them and their corporate pals? Or how hard is it going to be to find embarrassing or incriminating information about someone that you care about that they can use to pressure you?

    This is a large part of the reason that they are doing this data hoarding: to stock pile your personal communications and internet activity to use against you retroactively should you displease them.


    1. from Mexico

      Just like only Nixon could go to China, only a black Democrat could bring us 1984.

      1. Z

        The head pr man for the plutocracy deployed his smirking-”you-guys-are-way-overreacting-here” act in his performance today. Sure, he “welcomes the debate” now … after he gets caught concealing the truth from us … and when he’s still able to conceal other facts from us that don’t support his position. That ain’t no debate; that’s propaganda.


        1. Z


          That’s not the framework to a fair debate – when the government does not divulge the full facts – that’s the framework for propaganda.


    2. Lambert Strether

      Yep. Hyperlocal ratfucking. Not for the elite (e.g., Eliot Spitzer) any more. Every citizen their own Swift Boat!

      Seriously, does anybody believe this data doesn’t go to DHS and thence to your local PD through fusion centers?

    3. curlydan

      yep, they stockpile the data. they pick the President. Can you imagine the electronic trail that the govt will have on every citizen? Can you live innocently, boring, and clear for at least 35 years? No. No one can. If they want you out of “the club”, they’ll dig up the dirt and keep you out.

  17. BondsOfSteel

    I always wondered why Microsoft bought Skype. They paid _so_ very much for it, and they already had competing technology.

    Skype was interesting. First, it was not a US company. (It was based in Luxembourg.) Second, a large % of it’s traffic was international. Third, call routing (matchmaking) was done through P2P supernodes, making it difficult to track, and even harder to eavesdrop.

    The first thing Microsoft did was to move all the supernodes to it’s own datacenter:

    Boom. Tracking is now not only possible, eavesdropping / wiretapping would be too. Just makes me wonder. Hmmm. Wouldn’t be the first time our security agencies worked through a corporation…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Those days of not being able to trust your East German neighbors and friend/relatives are long gone.

      Now, thanks to sci & technology, you can’t even trust an inanimate object.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Luckily, I still have my cat.

        I think I can still whisper my secrets to her…I think.

  18. diane

    That isn’t going to work [threats from DC to whistleblowers]. It’s beginning completely to backfire on them. It’s precisely because such behavior reveals their true character, their propensity to abuse power, that more and more people are determined to bring about accountability and transparency for what they do.

    They can threaten to investigate all they want. But as this week makes clear, and will continue to make clear, the ones who will actually be investigated are them.

    The way things are supposed to work is that we’re supposed to know virtually everything about what they do: that’s why they’re called public servants. They’re supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that’s why we’re called private individuals.

    This dynamic – the hallmark of a healthy and free society – has been radically reversed.. Now, they know everything about what we do, and are constantly building systems to know more. Meanwhile, we know less and less about what they do, as they build walls of secrecy behind which they function. That’s the imbalance that needs to come to an end. No democracy can be healthy and functional if the most consequential acts of those who wield political power are completely unknown to those to whom they are supposed to be accountable.

    Link: By Glenn Greenwald, 06/07/13 On whistleblowers and government threats of investigation No healthy democracy can endure when the most consequential acts of those in power remain secret and unaccountable

    (bolding mine.)

    1. diane

      (and Dianne Feinstein (along with her despicable husband, Dick Blum) should be among the first ten in line for those investigations.)

  19. afisher

    Am I the only person who actually reads? A Physician Group repeats the same number of “folks being left out of ACA”.
    I read the report, fed to me by a RW blogger…and yes, it may be really hard to figure out that the 30M number is true, but when anyone dares to bother reading the latest CBO report and notice those itty,bitty and dastardly footnotes, one would realize that it includes folks who, according to the ACA, would not be elgible – aka undocumented immigrants and individuals who are elgible for Medicaid, but have yet to apply for that program.
    At a minimum – that is 11M folks (via PEW). Do I also have to do that math for readers?

  20. afisher

    Am I the only person who actually reads? A Physician Group repeats the same number of “folks being left out of ACA”.
    I read the report, fed to me by a RW blogger…and yes, it may be really hard to figure out that the 30M number is true, but when anyone dares to bother reading the latest CBO report and notice those itty,bitty and dastardly footnotes, one would realize that it includes folks who, according to the ACA, would not be eligible – aka undocumented immigrants and individuals who are eligible for Medicaid, but have yet to apply for that program.
    At a minimum – that is 11M folks (via PEW). Do I also have to do that math for readers?

  21. Valissa

    Costco Resisted Wall Street Pressure To Cut Wages, Benefits: Report
    The big box store most famous for its stockpiles of toilet paper and $1.50 hot dogs also has a reputation for paying its workers a higher wage than most of its competitors. The average Costco worker made about $45,000 per year, Fortune reports. By comparison, Walmart-owned Sam’s Club, a Costco competitor, pays its workers $17,486 per year, according to salary information site

    What’s more, Costco has continued to pay its workers decently even in the face of pressure to stop. Ever since the company went public in 1985, Wall Street investors have urged Costco executives to lower wages and cut health benefits, which are also relatively generous, according to Businessweek. Instead, the company’s former CEO and co-founder gave workers a raise every three years.

    Costco’s insistence on treating its workers well hasn’t come at the expense of the company’s bottom line. The retailer’s profit jumped 19 percent to $459 million last quarter, while Walmart’s sales suffered during the same period.

  22. Everythings Jake

    The NSA has long been a means to socialize the losses and costs of technology development, maybe as important a function as information gathering. Information gathering and analysis is now almost a “technology” in and of itself and it’s extremely lucrative(How Companies Learn Your Secrets). Aside from the total surveillance state aspect of this, consumerism being another highly effective form of social control (Century of the Self), and although many already willingly hand over data to companies when they get a retailer’s discount card or get on the internet, I keep thinking what company wouldn’t want access to this totally comprehensive database? Did corporations just successfully manage to externalize their market research costs?

  23. Chris Rogers

    Couple of issues with those expressing surprise, or dismay, at the fact that in the digital age our masters have been keeping tabs on us.

    First and foremost, only a fool could believe they were not keeping tabs on us – be it legally and above board, or in strictest secrecy.

    Secondly, despite keeping tabs on us, electronic storage mediums be it tape or HDD’s was expensive up until about 2005/6 when prices dropped to the extent that all our e-communications activities can be collated and stored indefinitely.

    Not to worry though – those of us who realised these facts a long time ago are either ‘pissed’ about it, or don’t care – I fall into the latter, which is why I don’t hide behind a false name – like Greenwald, if you believe in democracy, privacy and other important freedoms, its best to ignore the consequences of our actions/words in ‘pissing off’ the authorities under our real names – as @Mexico keeps emphasising, Martin Luther King would not have been put off by all this, that said, its doubtful the Civil Rights movement would have taken off as it did due to the fact MLK would have been termed a terrorist, water boarded and locked up on the pleasure camp in Cuba – still, Obama’s not concerned at all of this, particularly given he’s got large pockets and they need filling with much coin after his stint in the Whitehouse trampling over all civil rights accorded under your constitution – we in the UK don’t have a Constitution, so don’t get so upset about all the behaviour, particularly knowing that our leaders on the whole are a bunch of crooked bastards. And that’s being polite.

    However, knowing they are following our moves, phone calls and email communications can give us all strength, we can play about and really ‘piss’ the snoopers off by snooping on them – perhaps that’s why Google Glass has had a poor reception.

    Further, this knowledge will encourage us to communicate via old fashioned means, i.e., pen and paper, simple codes and funnily enough, via using homing pigeon’s.

    Anyway, my point is this, we know what they are doing, we know much of it is illegal, so why not crank it u a little and make them waste more resources than they are already doing – i.e., don’t carry a mobile phone, instead, band a few together in a safe dry spot and keep phoning them from a phone booth or pub, increase the use of gibberish on our emails utilising key words they are actually scouring for.

    Sooner or later, they’ll get the message – or, it will help implode the Imperial state due to overextension and lack of funds.

    As a cynic and a bit of a dystopian, this shit just makes me laugh out loud – God, they are even scared of old grannies now in wheelchairs – such is our decent into farce and mass intrusion into our privacy since 9/11.

    Really, we could not make this up, and yet, here they are doing it – the shock is, that so many are now shocked by this news – that’s the frightening matter for me at least i.e., the mock ignorance of what has been well known for what seems an eternity.

    1. Lambert Strether

      One can only hope that Greenwald is as blasé as you seem to be; after all, Obama could put him on next Tuesday’s kill list and have him whacked. That’s one essential difference between the Bush surveillance scandal and this one; Obama’s consolidated and extended the powers that Bush seized.

      1. Chris Rogers


        Far from being ‘blasé’ as you seem to think, and further, as a UK subject – notice I don’t utilise the word citizen, those of us on the Left in the UK and across much of Europe have been under state surveillance for generations – indeed, as with the FBI and Communism in the USA, many a trades unionist in our nation was actually a state informant – further, it was never unusual to have your postal main intercepted, or your phone tapped, with or without the knowledge of our Home Secretary.

        Further, and as I’ve made clear in my post, with knowledge come power, and given how overextended the USA is presently, be this militarily speaking, economic, or, in terms of actual storage required to host all this information, how long to you think the US authorities can keep it up.

        Now, I strongly believe in civil rights, democracy and personal freedom, so much so in fact that if I’m criticising my own government I use my own name – basically, I believe in a policy of overwhelming the resources the state is utilising – its a little different in the USA though, and to put it bluntly, having travelled 8,000 miles recently across your nation – trappings of a fascist totalitarian state were everywhere – particularly with regards your boarders and your airports.

        In the UK, our present government is so deluded and supposedly broke, that its actually cutting our military and police to the bone – so actually for the UK, austerity increases our freedom – this is not the present condition of the USA though – indeed, it seems there are emergency internment camps ready to go everywhere – this on top of the highest prison population in the world.

        Now, as a Brit, we have known about these issues since the early 70’s, and were well aware that the UK- mainland IRA bombing campaign significantly reduced our own freedoms.

        Still, I suppose its a case of chickens coming home to roost, for you cannot impose your imperial will on others, without sacrificing the freedoms you personally believe are important – perhaps its time to get radical again and stick two fingers up to your authorities, give them the runaround and hope your masters come to their collective senses, that, or radically change the system, and I don’t see much of that happening in the USA presently – I do in South America though, so hope actually does exist.

        In other words, don’t let the bastards grind you down – its also pleasing to know that whilst they can record everything you say by phone and mobile, its a little more difficult to bug and record everyday face-to-face conversations, and change comes from these interactions, and not via the magic called the Internet.

      2. optimader

        If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever;

        In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
        George Orwell

        1. Chris Rogers

          I think Jack London’s “The Iron Heel” is a good start, particularly given it was written a few years before Woodrow Wilson decided to shred the Constitution.

          Obviously, Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm are the biggie’s – can’t say we weren’t warned – the funny thing is, I thought it was the USA that won the Cold War, only to find your ruling elite have managed to pull defeat from the jaws of victory.

          Here’s the hoot though, in reality, the existence of a Communist USSR was a boon for the average American, for as soon as the threat of Communism was removed, your elite began removing all gains you’d made since 1945 – so effectively, its the US Middle Class that ultimately has lost as a result of your elite replacing the bogeyman of Communism, with that of Muslim Terrorism.

  24. Valissa

    TGIF! Today’s news antidotes from The Poke…

    If Disney Films Had Honest Titles

    How To Pose With Statues

    Recruitment ad of the day

    Not a satire… California Prisoners Are Free to Read as Much Werewolf Erotica as They Want

  25. Valissa

    Surveillance is a popular topic for cartoonists these days…

    Transparency is in the eyes of the beholder

    Newton’s Third Law!
    The citizens react, part 1

    The citizens react, part 2

    On the lighter side…

    Surveillance in the home (this could solve one of the longstanding mysteries of life! )

    I predict a ratings winner!

  26. AbyNormal

    Former drone operator says he’s haunted by his part in more than 1,600 deaths –
    A former Air Force drone operator who says he participated in missions that killed more than 1,600 people remembers watching one of the first victims bleed to death.

    Brandon Bryant says he was sitting in a chair at a Nevada Air Force base operating the camera when his team fired two missiles from their drone at three men walking down a road halfway around the world in Afghanistan. The missiles hit all three targets, and Bryant says he could see the aftermath on his computer screen – including thermal images of a growing puddle of hot blood.

    “The guy that was running forward, he’s missing his right leg,” he recalled. “And I watch this guy bleed out and, I mean, the blood is hot.” As the man died his body grew cold, said Bryant, and his thermal image changed until he became the same color as the ground.

    “I can see every little pixel,” said Bryant, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, “if I just close my eyes.”

    Bryant, now 27, served as a drone sensor operator from 2006 to 2011, at bases in Nevada, New Mexico and in Iraq, guiding unmanned drones over Iraq and Afghanistan. Though he didn’t fire missiles himself he took part in missions that he was told led to the deaths of an estimated 1,626 individuals.

    In an interview with NBC News, he provided a rare first-person glimpse into what it’s like to control the controversial machines that have become central to the U.S. effort to kill terrorists.

    He says that as an operator he was troubled by the physical disconnect between his daily routine and the violence and power of the faraway drones. “You don’t feel the aircraft turn,” he said. “You don’t feel the hum of the engine. You hear the hum of the computers, but that’s definitely not the same thing.”

    At the same time, the images coming back from the drones were very real and very graphic.

    “People say that drone strikes are like mortar attacks,” Bryant said. “Well, artillery doesn’t see this. Artillery doesn’t see the results of their actions. It’s really more intimate for us, because we see everything.”

    A self-described “naïve” kid from a small Montana town, Bryant joined the Air Force in 2005 at age 19. After he scored well on tests, he said a recruiter told him that as a drone operator he would be like the smart guys in the control room in a James Bond movie, the ones who feed the agent the information he needs to complete his mission.

    He trained for three and a half months before participating in his first drone mission. Bryant operated the drone’s cameras from his perch at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada as the drone rose into the air just north of Baghdad.

    Bryant and the rest of his team were supposed to use their drone to provide support and protection to patrolling U.S. troops. But he recalls watching helplessly as insurgents buried an IED in a road and a U.S. Humvee drove over it.

    “We had no way to warn the troops,” he said. He later learned that three soldiers died.

    And once he had taken part in a kill, any remaining illusions about James Bond disappeared. “Like, this isn’t a videogame,” he said. “This isn’t some sort of fantasy. This is war. People die.”

    1. optimader

      From his time as an insurgent in Spain during the civil war
      “As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.”
      ~George Orwell

      Which makes me recall this one:

      “History, with all her volumes vast, hath but one page..”
      ~Lord Byron

      and finally that reminds me of this:

      “…The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are today not far from a disaster. How long will we permit millions of pounds, thousands of Imperial troops, and tens of thousands of Arabs to be sacrificed on behalf of colonial administration which can benefit nobody but its administrators?”
      ~ August 22, 1920, written by former Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence

      I think time for a cocktail!

    2. diane

      A most chilling thing from Brandon Bryant’s testimony in the December 2012 expose posted by Nicola Abé, at Der Speigel:

      With seven seconds left to go, there was no one to be seen on the ground. Bryant could still have diverted the missile at that point. Then it was down to three seconds. Bryant felt as if he had to count each individual pixel on the monitor. Suddenly a child walked around the corner, he says.

      Second zero was the moment in which Bryant’s digital world collided with the real one in a village between Baghlan and Mazar-e-Sharif.

      Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared. Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach.

      “Did we just kill a kid?” he asked the man sitting next to him.

      “Yeah, I guess that was a kid,” the pilot replied.

      “Was that a kid?” they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.

      Then, someone they didn’t know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. “No. That was a dog,” the person wrote.

      They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs?

  27. sd

    NSA program – insider trading?

    Is there enough information that can be gleaned from internet traffic to benefit insider trading? Wouldn’t a new and lengthy flurry of activity between two companies hint that a merger and/or acquisition might be in the works?

  28. Mary Bess

    Empty Wheel writes:

    “What the White House is trying to hide, in other words, is that this collection is part of a massive collection program that uses algorithms and other data analysis to invent people to investigate as terrorists.”

    “Total Information Awareness,” Dick “Bunker Man” Cheney’s plan for 24/7 surveillance of the rest of us, didn’t disappear when objections were raised, it went further underground. The constitution is being turned inside out: what was once illegal is now legal, what was once legal is now illegal.

    Those who think there’s no danger in all this if you’ve done nothing wrong should visit a zoo. Observe the behavior of suffering sentient creatures, the pacing and perseveration, difficulty procreating, symptoms of schizophrenia.
    They are turning the world into a zoo with the creation of the surveillance state.

    To what end? Do the fools who navigate the ship of state have any idea?

    OK, today I’ll be the terrorist, tomorrow you can play the roll.

  29. Hugh

    I came late to this. Hannah Arendt in Origins of Totalitarianism wrote about how the totalitarian apparatus was layered so that outwardly it could project a reassuring sense of normalcy to the normal non-totalitarian world. This strikes me what Obama is doing in telling us not to make too much of all his spying programs.

    The world at large, on the other side, usually gets its first glimpse of a totalitarian movement through its front organizations. The sympathizers, who are to all appearances still innocuous fellow-citizens in a nontotalitarian society, can hardly be called single-minded fanatics; through them, the movements make their fantastic lies more generally acceptable, can spread their propaganda in milder, more respectable forms, until the whole atmosphere is poisoned with totalitarian elements which are hardly recognizable as such but appear to be normal political reactions or opinions. The fellow-traveler organizations surround the totalitarian movements with a mist of normality and respectability that fools the membership about the true character of the outside world as much as it does the outside world about the true character of the movement

    Arendt also said that the more one penetrated inside the totalitarian movement the more it operated outside of all concepts of law and lawlessness, outside of the law because any law, any rule, any standard would be a limit on its power and a potential challenge to it, but also not simply lawless since it purported to operate according to some unfalsifiable historical or biological process.

    Instead of saying that totalitarian government is unprecedented, we could also say that it has exploded the very alternative on which all definitions of the essence of governments have been based in political philosophy, that is the alternative between lawful and lawless government, between arbitrary and legitimate power. That lawful government and legitimate power, on one side, lawlessness and arbitrary power on the other, belonged together and were inseparable has never been questioned. Yet, totalitarian rule confronts us with a totally different kind of government. It defies, it is true, all positive laws, even to the extreme of defying those which it has itself established (as in the case of the Soviet Constitution of 1936, to quote only the most outstanding example) or which it did not care to abolish (as in the case of the Weimar Constitution which the Nazi government never revoked). But it operates neither without guidance of law nor is it arbitrary, for it claims to obey strictly and unequivocally those laws of Nature or of History from which all positive laws always have been supposed to spring

    So Obama and the elites do not revoke the Constitution. It simply doesn’t apply to them. They reassure us they do what they do to keep us safe, despite the fact that we don’t feel safer. But safety is unfalsifiable since no matter how unsafe we feel they can always argue that we would be even more unsafe without them. Perhaps too today’s kleptocrats have gone beyond Arendt because it is not clear they ascribe to any belief in some overriding historical or natural process beyond their own right to dominate the levers of power and wealth. Perhaps that is their totalitarian fiction, that they are indispensable and that this justifies their criminality. Or perhaps their brand of “capitalism” is their fictional process which justifies all. Or American exceptionalism. Who knows?

    To finish, I would put out two thoughts.

    First, two rules of thumb: For every spying program you hear about, there are twelve you haven’t; and spying programs never die. Even for those “closed down” and defunded, the data is simply shipped somewhere else and folded into a new or existing spying program.

    The other is about Obama and secrecy. From Hannah Arendt:

    The only rule of which everybody in a totalitarian state may be sure is that the more visible government agencies are, the less power they carry, and the less is known of the existence of an institution, the more powerful it will ultimately turn out to be. According to this rule, the Soviets, recognized by a written constitution as the highest authority of the state, have less power than the Bolshevik party; the Bolshevik party, which recruits its members openly and is recognized as the ruling class, has less power than the secret police. Real power begins where secrecy begins.

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