Olbermann gives the best righteous indignation speeches on television.
And today –
Olbermann gives the best righteous indignation speeches on television.
And today –
Those of you involved in technology have probably figured it out, but a lot of the fancy gizmos and technology you see on the various”tech oriented” TV shows…
Technology, and the use of technology has been a moral issue for inventors and technologists since the days of the development of the Atomic Bomb. Not that the inventors of a lot of this stuff are ethicists but – it is a conversation at least some of us have.
After 9-11 and Katrina, my company was developing technology which would be capable to restoring communications over a disaster area in a matter of hours. The concept was based on putting a new type of radio communications system which could reconfigure itself by software command in either a tethered to the ground, or a geo-stationary blimp. Now, I am sure everyone is familiar with the Zeppelins of the 1930’s and the Hindenburg.
One of the big Gub’ment agencies caught on to what we were doing, and approached us to help one of BIG Gub’ment contractors on building their “Eye in the Sky” project. The idea was to mount a very high resolution video camera in a geostationary blimp over New Orleans, and tie it to behavioral analysis software. “Behaviorial” software was just being developed at that point. What it does is identify possible criminal activity by the actions of the people the camera sees. The technical problem in this case being getting the video feed back down to the ground, and the equipment to make that happen not being too heavy to be lifted by the blimp. My partners and I figured out it was technically doable, but involved creating a bit of technology that didn’t exist yet.
First meeting, the Gub’ment guys stands up and explains what they want to do. Which was essentially put the entire city under surveillance and use the pattern recognition software to identify “bad guys” and people up to nefarious deeds. The problem being the system would spy on each and every citizen in the entire city constantly. The guy from the company developing the camera stands up and starts describing the new camera, which includes and ability to look through buildings (yes that exists).
I look at my partner, he looks at me…And I say I’m not doing this. This gives the government the ability to peer into anyone’s home, bedroom, or office without their permission, or even so much as a warrant based on criminal activity. This is unconstitutional.
We walked out and refused to do the work. It was the end of us ever doing work for these people…But that was fine.
Now I see in Baltimore some scumbag has reconstituted some of tat work, and come up with a “Poor man’s” version to spy and violate the constitutional rights of innocent citizens.
An experimental police surveillance program funded by Texas philanthropists John and Laura Arnold worries observers of private influence in the public sphere
Thousands of runners will sweat their way past the scenic highlights of central Baltimore in the city’s marathon on Saturday, but the action will not only be at ground level. An aircraft equipped with advanced cameras is set to circle high above their heads, as part of a secretive surveillance programme funded by Texan billionaires.
Last year, Radiolab, a public radio show, featured a company called Persistent Surveillance Systems, which specialises in wide-area eye-in-the-sky technology. It flies a small plane for hours above urban areas, taking thousands of photographs that are sent to analysts who then track movements at street level.
After the radio segment aired, the philanthropist John Arnold got in touch with the owner of Persistent, Ross McNutt. Arnold and his wife, Laura, were intrigued by the technology’s crime-fighting potential and agreed to fund a trial somewhere. With $360,000 from the Arnolds, McNutt struck a deal with Baltimore.
From January to August this year, Baltimore police said at a news conference last week, the plane flew over the city for 314 hours, taking more than a million images. The police added that the plane would operate as an anti-terrorism measure during Fleet Week, which started on Monday, and the marathon.
This spurt of transparency was more than a little tardy. Until Bloomberg Businessweek ran a story in August, virtually no one knew about the surveillance programme, not even the mayor. Yet the technology raises obvious civil liberties questions, as does the way the plan was funded: by unaccountable private citizens in Houston whose wealth silently enabled a blanket tracking tool in a large city with notoriously strained relations between police and residents.
“[John Arnold] called me, and he just heard it on the Radiolab piece and asked what he could do to help, and he thought we could run a test with the system and I said we would love to and we appreciate his help,” said McNutt. “They’re fantastic people, they really are, and they’re doing great things and trying to help out as much as they can.”
The Arnolds are not universally loved. Two years ago, a Bloomberg profile of John Arnold was headlined: Giving Back Has Made This 41-year-old Retired Billionaire Less Popular.
The Dallas-born Arnold was a millionaire Enron trader who became a billionaire hedge fund manager. He quit at 38, having amassed a reported $4bn fortune, and started the Laura and John Arnold Foundation with his wife, a former attorney. They have committed to giving the bulk of their wealth to philanthropic causes and have an appetite for forensic examination of complex and often divisive issues.
According to the Foundation, it has awarded more than $617m in grant money since 2011, in line with its aim of seeking “transformational change” through “strategic investments in criminal justice, education, evidence-based policy and innovation, public accountability, and research integrity”….
A sceptic might argue that society cannot understand something it does not know about. David Rocah, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Maryland, said his organisation was concerned by the nature of the surveillance and the opaque way it was adopted.
“What the secret funding from the Arnolds meant,” he said, “is that it didn’t even have to be disclosed to the city’s purchasing folks and the mayor didn’t know, the city council didn’t know … nobody knew.
“The fact is that surveillance technologies are acquired by police departments all over the country all the time with zero public input, even where the Arnolds aren’t secretly funding it. This case is just an extraordinary, an extreme, example of a larger problem.”
Most of the money was passed to Baltimore through the Police Foundation, a not-for-profit research body in Washington that previously worked with the Arnold Foundation on a study of eyewitness identification procedure. As soon as next week, the Police Foundation intends to release a report that will examine the potential value of McNutt’s surveillance technology.
Federal Appellate Court in California covers several states in the region. As such, this decision has farter reaching consequences, and since the Supreme Court isn’t going to take this up…
Becomes the law of the land. This probably won’t have any impact in Red States.
Firearm owners have no constitutional right to carry a concealed gun in public if they face no specific danger, a divided federal appeals court in California ruled on Thursday, in a victory for gun control advocates.
The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which sets a legal precedent in western states, was seen as unlikely to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future.
The San Francisco-based court, in a 7-4 decision, found San Diego and Yolo counties in California did not violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects the right to bear arms, when they denied some applicants a concealed firearm license.
“We hold that the Second Amendment does not protect, in any degree, the carrying of concealed firearms by members of the general public,” Judge William Fletcher wrote in a 52-page opinion.
The two California counties had limited their permits to applicants showing “good cause” to be armed, such as documented threats or working in a wide range of risky occupations.
The ruling places the 9th Circuit Court in line with other U.S. appellate courts that have upheld the right of officials in the states of New York, Maryland and New Jersey to deny concealed carry applications in certain cases.
Under California’s concealed carry law, more than 70,000 residents or less than 1 percent of the state’s population had active permits last year, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, in the middle of a raging national debate on guns, declined to weigh in on whether firearm owners have a constitutional right to carry their weapons in concealment outside the home.
Gun rights group the California Rifle and Pistol Association declined to provide immediate comment.
And you thought former Texas Governors George Bush and Rick Perry were stupid?
Two Texas politicians made public details of an investigation into a terrorism suspect while it was still in progress, potentially jeopardizing the inquiry, three sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick released details from documents that were still under court seal, the sources said. A spokesman for Governor Abbott had no immediate comment. Patrick’s office was not available for comment.
The suspect, Omar Faraj Saeed Al-Hardan, 24, appeared in court on Friday accused of providing material support to Islamic State overseas. He entered the United States as an Iraqi refugee in November 2009 and lived in Houston, according to a court document.
Abbott and Patrick are both Republicans and their party has been fiercely resisting Democratic President Barack Obama’s plan to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country over the next year, arguing that they pose a security risk to the United States. The Obama administration has rejected that assertion.
One of the sources said investigators believe Abbott and Patrick may have learned confidential details of the investigation from the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Texas. The group’s members include local and state law enforcement officers. There was no immediate comment from the task force.
The sources said the politicians’ statements on Thursday night disclosing a terrorism suspect’s arrest forced federal authorities to wrap up their inquiries and rush out public statements and court papers on the case earlier than planned.
Hardan was already in custody at the time, but interviews of potential witnesses were still being conducted when the disclosures were made, the sources.
Beginning to believe that if any of Uncle Ben’s patients survived…
It must have been because of the nurses holding his hand during an operation.
Thomas Jefferson and James Madison first proposed the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom (the frame and basis of the later First Amendment to the Constitution) in 1779, the preamble began, “Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free.” Patrick Henry and other devout Christians attempted to substitute the words “Jesus Christ” for “Almighty God” in this opening passage and were overwhelmingly voted down. This vote was interpreted by Jefferson to mean that Virginia’s representatives wanted the law “to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahomedan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.” “Mahomedan” being the slightly less than politically correct term for the followers of Islam at the time.
The simple fact is, there is no stipulation for religious belief in the Constitution – and nothing which bars anyone of any religion from holding office.
Indeed for his secular view, Thomas Jefferson was accused of being a Muslim. Islamic persecution in America started far before we became a country, and the first Muslims in America were some of the slaves brought to America from Africa. According to some historians, the faith of those slaves has a direct connection to the development of the “Black Muslim, NOI” sect in America started by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad, and led to prominence by Elijah Muhammad.
“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said that he would not support a Muslim running for president of the United States.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, host Chuck Todd asked Carson whether a president’s faith should matter. The question of how the Republican presidential candidates approach Islam has arisen since businessman Donald Trump was asked Thursday when the country could “get rid of” Muslims.
Trump said he would be “looking at a lot of things,” in response, and did not correct the suggestion that President Barack Obama is a Muslim and “not even an American.”
Carson, who placed third in the CNN/ORC poll of the Republican presidential field released Sunday, said a president’s faith would matter to him depending on what that faith is.
“If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter,” he said. “If it fits within the realm of America and is consistent with the Constitution, I have no problem.”
He said that Islam, as a religion, is incompatible with the Constitution.
“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that,” he said.
Like the Holocaust Deniers scattered around the world in anti-Semitic clusters, America has its own peculiar breed of Denier of the unconscionable – The advocates of the Southern Myth.
Recognizing what they were doing as slavers was morally unconscionable from a Judeo Christian basis, the slavers sought absolution through first, perverting their religion to justify slavery, and second by attaching themselves to Chivalrous traditions creating a “Genteel” societal veneer. Indeed, in my State of Virginia Thomas Jefferson’s University, UVa – adopted the Cavalier as the school symbol. That wasn’t just because most slaveholders were Crown Loyalists during the Revolutionary War. Attaching themselves to the English Cavaliers was an attempt to gloss over, and add class to an evil society. No different than the Drug Lords of recent vintage using their ill gotten gains to project an image of respectability.
Post Civil War, this shifted into manufacturing a society’s existence under slavery which never existed. The brutality visited upon the slaves to force them to obey, which included torture, systematic rape of women and children, and murder became the “Good Old Days” of a slightly decadent but otherwise genteel society. The Civil War became the “War of the States” supporting the fiction that each and every Southern State’s Secession Articles didn’t list slavery as the “States Right” they were fighting for. These same stawarts brought America Segregation and Jim Crow.
The modern incarnation of this “Southern psychosis” is the Tea Party, the grandchild of the Second Klan of the 20’s, American Nazi Party of the 40’s, and Dixiecrats of the 50’s and 60’s. Absorbing the Republican matra of blaming the victim. Like their poor, landless ancestors who marched off to be maimed and killed to [protect the rights of wealthy slave owners, today’s conservative confederate malcontents support the rights of the elite right who have eviscerated the American Dream, sold their jobs overseas, and near destroyed the American Middle Class since Raygun. All under the banner of maintaining their fictitious racial superiority. It is OK with the modern Tea Bagger to take Food Stamps away from the poor, using much the same justification of the rapist that the “bitch deserved it”. It is OK to harass the poor, even though the economic condition of many Tea Parties would place them among the “white trash” – because in a country which has legislatively discriminated, at the Tea Bagger’s ancestors demand, against minorities for generation – a higher percentage of minorities are poor. Despite class mythology, the only reason many of these white Tea Baggers aren’t scions of society has nothing to do with discrimination – and everything to do with their own personal, generational failures. no one has held them back, except their own ignorance and racism.
“Twelve Years a Slave,” a movie based on the 1853 autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped into slavery in 1841, is a powerful antidote to the Tea Party’s poisonous nostalgia for the era of “states’ rights” and “nullificationism,” which became code words for protecting the “liberty” of Southern whites to own African-Americans.
The movie, directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northup, reveals how lofty phrases about “freedom” often meant their opposite as Southern politicians developed an Orwellian skill for weaving noble-sounding “principles” into a cloak for covering up the unjustifiable.
And, for too many generations, it worked. Americans have romanticized the antebellum South, seeing it through the rosy haze of “Gone with the Wind” or learning from school history books that most slave-owners were kindly and paternalistic masters. Even today many Americans tell themselves that slavery wasn’t all that bad. To burnish their pride in the never-to-be-criticized USA, they whitewash one of the nation’s greatest crimes, the enslavement of millions of people based on the color of their skin. Read the rest of this entry »
Counties in a second State are arguing to secede. First there were the rural areas of Colorado, now it is the Western 3 counties in Maryland.
My view is…
Under the condition that if they want to continue as part of the country, they have to reapply for admission to the United States – First as Territories.
There are a couple of other conditions that should apply here…
1) All Federal funds, in excess of the tax base paid by the new entity will be withdrawn. The new entity must be entirely “pay as you go”, prior to any consideration to being granted the ability to rejoin the Union.
2) The new Territory must demonstrate that it generates a positive cash flow in terms of trade for the United States as a precondition to admission.. Not taking any “Welfare Queens” here.
3) They will grant Federal Authority and ownership in perpetuity of any Interstate HIghways, Federal facilities, and or Military bases within their boundaries.
4) All Military bases, federally funded or operated ports, airports, or terminals are to cease operation until such time as they become states. No reason to provide any more charity.
5) On readmission, all residents are to take an oath of loyalty to the United States under penalty of death. Anyone who refuses to do so, immediately loses citizenship – and will be deported.The new state Constitution must recognize the primacy of the Federal Constitution in writing.
6) For a period of 50 years, the US Government may spend no more money in the state than the federal taxes paid by the state and it’s citizens.
Now…We’re talking! And here’s hoping the red downstate Virginia counties follow suit!
The push by 50 western Virginia counties to secede in 1863, forming West Virginia at the height of the Civil War, was led by a charismatic store-clerk-turned-lawyer who famously urged his supporters: “Cut the knot now! Cut it now! Apply the knife.”
West Virginia was the last state to break off from another. Now, 150 years later, a 49-year-old information technology consultant wants to apply the knife to Maryland’s five western counties. “The people are the sovereign,” says Scott Strzelczyk, leader of the fledglingWestern Maryland Initiative, and the western sovereigns are fed up with Annapolis’s liberal majority, elected by the state’s other sovereigns.
“If you think you have a long list of grievances and it’s been going on for decades, and you can’t get it resolved, ultimately this is what you have to do,” says Strzelczyk, who lives in New Windsor, a historic town of 1,400 people in Carroll County. “Otherwise you are trapped.”
Strzelczyk’s effort is one of several across the country to separate significant portions of states from, as he puts it, “the dominant ruling class.” Nearly a dozen northern Colorado counties are the furthest along, with nonbinding referendums set for November ballots. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is making a move to join with parts of Wisconsin. Northern California counties want to form a state called Jefferson.
Historians, political scientists and the leaders of the movements say secession efforts are being fueled by irreconcilable differences on issues such as gun control, taxes, energy policy, gay marriage and immigration — all subjects of recent legislative efforts at state and federal levels. The notion of compromise is a non-starter. With secessionists, the term “final straw” comes up a lot.
“You don’t have to be a student of the details to know that people are just disgusted with what goes on these days,” says Kit Wellman, a political philosopher who studies secession at Washington University in St. Louis. “These people figure they are better off on their own if they could just be with like-
Secession is a difficult political fight to win. The U.S. Constitution allows regions to separate only with the approval of the state legislature and Congress, and over the years there have been hundreds of quixotic and unsuccessful efforts, according to Michael J. Trinklein, the author of “Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States that Never Made It.”
In the 1950s, Northern California tried to form the state of Shasta, to protect its fresh water. The builders of Mount Rushmore also wanted it to sit in a new state: Absaroka, a reference to a subrange of the Rocky Mountains. Eastern Shore residents pushed for the state of Chesapeake in the 1970s to retain tourist tax dollars.
What’s different now is how the secession efforts illuminate a hard truth about the country: The rural-urban divide is increasingly a point of political conflict. The population boom in urban areas such as Baltimore and the Maryland suburbs near the District, the Boulder-
Denver areas in Colorado, and in Detroit have filled state legislatures with liberal policymakers pushing progressive agendas out of sync with rural residents, who feel increasingly isolated and marginalized.
In Maryland, the five western counties — Garrett, Allegany, Washington, Frederick and Carroll — represent just 11 percent of Maryland’s population, according to 2010 Census figures. They earn less than the people who live in more urban areas. They vote overwhelmingly for Republicans in a deeply Democratic state. Nearly 90 percent of the residents are white, compared with 51 percent elsewhere. About 60 percent were born in Maryland vs. 46 percent in other parts of the state.
“If you don’t belong in their party,” Strzelczyk says of Democrats, “you’ll never have your views represented” in Maryland. “If we have more states,” he says, “we can all go live in states that best represent us, and then we can get along.”…