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Member since: Fri Sep 17, 2004, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 46,132

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Rolling Stone Interviews Wyden re: Snowden/NSA: '8 Weeks Ago We Would Not Have Had A Debate' (update

Q&A: Senator Ron Wyden on NSA Surveillance and Government Transparency
'If we don't recognize that this is a truly unique moment in America's constitutional history, our generation's going to regret it forever.'


You, though, have known for quite a while that these officials haven't been straight with us – and yet you weren't fully open until after the Snowden leak. Do you regret that you didn't say something sooner?

There are very significant limits , and they are very cumbersome and unwieldy. If you want to play a watchdog role, you try to work within the rules. This is a sensitive subject. A lot of people have just said to me, "Well, you feel so strongly about (these issues)– when you knew this, why didn't you just go to the floor of the United States Senate and just, you know, read it all ?" And, of course, anybody who does this kind of work thinks a lot about that. You think about it all the time. I can see why plenty of people would criticize me – progressives and others. I can understand why plenty of people who have views similar to mine would say they would have done it differently.


Edward Snowden has said publicly that he, too, tried to play by the rules, and made the decision to leak only after realizing the depth of that culture of misinformation you speak of. Do you think he acted correctly, or was there some other way this information could have come out?

Years ago, because I made the judgment of how important it was to try to drive these policy reforms – and because when you're on the Intelligence Committee and you get into making these comments, it just never stops – I said, "I am not going to comment when somebody in the intelligence field is part of an ongoing criminal investigation." And has, of course, been charged with espionage. So I'm just gonna stick to that one.

But do you think a charge of espionage is appropriate? Many people believe Snowden is a whistleblower.
I've made my statement about Mr. Snowden. But setting that aside, what's happened in the last eight weeks really takes your breath away. I mean, eight weeks ago, we would not have had a debate on the floor of the House of Representatives on these issues. Eight weeks ago, we would not have gotten two hundred or more votes. Eight weeks ago, we would not have the NSA taking down fact sheets after members of the United States Senate took them on. Eight weeks ago, we would not have had bills coming in from both chambers on a whole host of subjects. These issues, which were unheard of eight weeks ago, I now have people coming up to me at the barbershop, asking me about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.


What, finally, do you think is the best way to make sure we don't go backwards? Should there be prosecutions? Are there other ways to encourage more transparency?

The way we deal with this best, in my view, is to recognize this is a unique time in our constitutional history. These digital technologies have grown so rapidly, and we really can't even get our arms around it. It used to be that the limits on technologies were to a great extent a form of protection for the American people. A lot of that seems to be going to the wind. We're sitting here with computers in our pockets, smartphones, with the ability to track people 24/7. These issues are as important as it gets. And Americans have a right to real debate the way you deal with the constitutional teeter-totter of liberty and security. It's hard to think of anything more important to our country and our bedrock values. And I think what will protect people now will be the laws that we write to rein in this omnipresent, ever-expanding surveillance state. And if we don't do it now – if we don't recognize that this is a truly unique moment in America's constitutional history – our generation's going to regret it forever.




UPDATE To include this from Emptywheel re: RS Interview Of Wyden:

In an interview published yesterday, Ron Wyden (who had already been on the Senate Intelligence Committee for several years in 2006) revealed when he first learned about the phone dragnet.

You went from supporting the Patriot Act in 2001 to pushing relentlessly for its de-authorization. What was the tipping point?

My concerns obviously deepened when I first learned that the Patriot Act was being used to justify the bulk collection of Americans’ records, which was in late 2006 or early 2007.

In other words, the government didn’t get around to briefing all of the Intelligence Committee about this collection until months after it started, and possibly up to a year after they first briefed related issues to the FISC.

Here’s how the White Paper turns that unforgivable delay into a boast.

Moreover, in early 2007, the Department of Justice began providing all significant FISC pleadings and orders related to this program to the Senate and House Intelligence and Judiciary committees. By December 2008, all four committees had received the initial application and primary order authorizing the telephony metadata collection. Thereafter, all pleadings and orders reflecting significant legal developments regarding the program were produced to all four committees.

Translation: The Executive Branch stalled for an impermissibly long period of time after this dragnet started before briefing even the Intelligence Committee. And while we might blame the Bush Administration, remember that Keith Alexander was already running the dragnet by this period.

So not only didn’t the government tell Congress it was using PATRIOT to conduct dragnet collection of Internet metadata when it reauthorized it in 2006, but it didn’t even tell all members of SSCI until well after the phone dragnet moved under PATRIOT as well.

- See more at: http://www.emptywheel.net/#sthash.3zdS9IoF.dpuf

White House solar panels being installed this week

Source: Washington Post

After nearly three years, the White House began installing solar panels on the First Family’s residence this week, a White House official confirmed Thursday.

The Obama administration had pledged in October 2010 to put solar panels on the White House as a sign of the president’s commitment to renewable energy.

The White House official, who asked not to be identified because the installation is in process, wrote in an e-mail the project is “a part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building.”

At the time of the 2010 announcement, then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu and White House Council on Environmental Quality chair Nancy Sutley said the administration would conduct a competitive bidding process to buy between 20 and 50 solar panels. The officials did not identify the supplier or cost of the project, but wrote the White House “has begun installing American-made solar panels” and the initiative, “which will help demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy efficiency upgrades, is estimated to pay for itself in energy savings over the next eight years.”

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/08/15/white-house-solar-panels-finally-being-installed/

Egypt, How Crude...We Have Far Subtler Tactics For Suppressing Democracy Here In America...

WAPO Hacked

Editor’s note
By Washington Post Editors, Published: August 15 at 11:16 am

The Washington Post Web site was hacked today, with readers on certain stories being redirected to the site of the Syrian Electronic Army. The group is a hacker collective that supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Post is working to resolve the issue.


Stop blaming the teachers

Stop blaming the teachers
POSTED: Thursday, August 15, 2013, 1:08 AM By Christine MacArthur

........I am in awe of the logic of politicians who believe it is up to teachers to provide the additional money needed to keep the schools afloat. Why? What have we done to contribute to this mess? We had no say in the policies, the people hired, or the results. The state has been in control of the School District since 2001, and, under this regime, we are not even allowed to strike - unlike every other district in the commonwealth.

Teachers have not been respected as professionals, and the district's proposal is so draconian that no self-respecting teacher could accept it. Here are some of the highlights: a decrease in salaries by as much as 13 percent; an addition of an hour to the workday; a removal of dental and vision benefits; and a much larger co-pay for medical benefits. There are also ridiculous suggestions about not providing books, water fountains, and privacy for counselors (of course, right now we don't have counselors). We have not had a raise since January of 2012, and now would be expected to go three more years with a salary decrease. We are already paid less than our colleagues in neighboring school districts, while working in a much more stressful environment with a lack of supporting materials. Why don't politicians cut their own salaries to cover the deficit?

Teaching is one of the few professions available to the middle class. Like lawyers and doctors, we are required to continually take courses and train to keep our skills up to date and maintain our certification. Most of the teachers I have worked with are serious educators. We do whatever we can to provide a superior education to our students - even if it means paying for supplies out of our own pockets.

The trunk of my car is now filled with a carton of paper, pens, lined paper, and copybooks I have bought for my students this September. I have purchased my own projector and speakers for the classroom, and use an old screen that hangs precariously from a ledge.

I am not unique. Most of us see our role as in loco parentis, and we are truly concerned about the welfare of the students in our care. Most of us are also citizens of Pennsylvania, and we pay school and sales taxes just like everyone else. We are also members of the middle class, which continues to see its salaries and opportunities erode. Now we are also to pay for the mistakes of our employers?

Once, the children of Philadelphia were valued. They were considered worthy of the best, or at least the equal, of other children in this state. Increasing the quality of education was always the district administration's goal and, despite the challenges of a large urban district, no one ever gave up trying. However, in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, it now seems that money is more important than the education of our children. Elected officials are ready to allow the schools to function without the teachers and support staff necessary to provide a safe, equitable education. They are not interested in attracting talented teachers to work here, and are content with keeping Philadelphia schools "separate and unequal." This is just plain wrong. The state has given tax breaks to corporations, and natural gas companies drill here with very little payback. There must be some revenue to spare for our children.

Despite the budget crisis, I am still looking forward to meeting my new students this fall. I love my subject, and am filled with the excitement of new ideas and plans that all teachers experience as the school year begins. However, I am also demoralized by the lack of respect for what teachers do: educate future generations. Why isn't that considered the most important job in our culture?

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/inquirer/20130815_Stop_blaming_the_teachers.html#3bVBb2gejg8zYo5u.99

Baby Panda Meets Mom For The First Time

The Taipei Zoo is celebrating its newest resident, a one-month old giant panda nicknamed Yuan Zai. The little cub was born to parents Yuan Yuan and Tuan Tuan in July and is the first panda ever born in Taiwan.

There are less than 1,600 pandas left in the wild and the animals are especially hard to raise in captivity. Pandas have a very small breeding window and when cubs are born they're highly susceptible to disease and smothering by their much larger mothers.

Take a look at some more photos of the little cub below:


not a read, BUT a really cool graph!

– Bill McBride creates this “animation of the U.S population distribution, by age, from 1900 through 2060,” demonstrating the gradual aging of the US population.

“In 1900, the graph was fairly steep, but with improving health care, the graph has flattened out over the last 100 years… Watch for: 1) the original baby bust preceding the baby boom (the decline in births prior to and during the Depression). Those are the people currently in retirement. 2) the Baby Boom is obvious. 3) By 2020 or 2025, the largest cohorts will all be under 40.”


Today, Bradley Manning Apologized. In a Just World, the U.S. Would Be Apologizing to Manning.

“I want to be a better person, to go to college to get a degree and to have a meaningful relationship with my sister, my sister’s family and my family,” he said.

He shared that he wanted to be a “positive influence in their lives” just as his aunt, has been to him.

“I know that I can and will be a better person,” Manning concluded. “I hope you can give me the opportunity to prove not through words but through conduct that I am a good person” and can “return to a productive place in society.”


Bennett: "The Far-Right Brothers"

Texas cops raid farm commune when mistaking tomato plants for marijuana

Texas cops raid farm commune when mistaking tomato plants for marijuana

Police in Arlington, Texas are being criticized for their tactics during a drug raid on a local farm that came up empty while allegedly damaging both the property and the crops.

“They can’t even tell the difference between tomato plants and a marijuana drug cartel,” farm resident Quinn Eaker told KXAS-TV. “That’s just really bad intel.”

Eaker said to KXAS that he and several residents at the “Garden of Eden” sustainability garden were handcuffed at gunpoint by officers during the Aug. 2 raid, which also involved a SWAT team, after an undercover officer and helicopter surveillance allegedly gave authorities probable cause to believe there was marijuana being grown on the premises.

“They came here under the guise that we were doing a drug trafficking, marijuana-growing operation,” owner Shellie Smith told WFAA-TV. “They destroyed everything.”

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