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Member since: Fri Sep 17, 2004, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 48,309

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Edward Snowden: 'I Already Won'-“If I defected at all, I defected from the government to the public”

Edward Snowden: 'I Already Won'

“If I defected at all,” Snowden said, “I defected from the government to the public.”


“For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” he said. “I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”

All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed, he said. “That is a milestone we left a long time ago. Right now, all we are looking at are stretch goals.”

“The oath of allegiance is not an oath of secrecy,” he said. “That is an oath to the Constitution. That is the oath that I kept that Keith Alexander and James Clapper did not.”

“I am not trying to bring down the NSA, I am working to improve the NSA,” he said. “I am still working for the NSA right now. They are the only ones who don’t realize it.”

Much MORE: (very,very insightful):


Snowden also responded to the charge that he did not have the authority to do what he did, that no one elected him to make these decisions and blow the whistle.

“That whole question — who elected you? — inverts the model,” he said.
“They elected me.
The overseers.”
He named the chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees.

“Dianne Feinstein elected me when she asked softball questions” in committee hearings, he said. “Mike Rogers elected me when he kept these programs hidden. . . . The FISA court elected me when they decided to legislate from the bench on things that were far beyond the mandate of what that court was ever intended to do. The system failed comprehensively, and each level of oversight, each level of responsibility that should have addressed this, abdicated their responsibility.”

Eugene Robinson writes a piece titled Edward Snowden was the person of the year, from which I quote his penultimate paragraph:

These ongoing disclosures provide a detailed map of a shadow realm that spans the globe. We now know how technology is destroying privacy — and what steps governments and communications companies must be pressured to take in order that privacy survives.


"Money Medals"


How Sotomayor undermined Obama’s NSA

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Sonia Sotomayor, June 4, 2010 in New York.

How Sotomayor undermined Obama’s NSA
12/23/13 09:45 AM—UPDATED 12/23/13 10:27 AM

By Adam Serwer

If Edward Snowden gave federal courts the means to declare the National Security Agency’s data-gathering unconstitutional, Sonia Sotomayor showed them how.

It was Sotomayor’s lonely concurrence in U.S. v Jones, a case involving warrantless use of a GPS tracker on a suspect’s car, that the George W. Bush-appointed Judge Richard Leon relied on when he ruled that the program was likely unconstitutional last week. It was that same concurrence the White House appointed review board on surveillance policy cited when it concluded government surveillance should be scaled back.

“It may be necessary to reconsider the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties,” Sotomayor wrote in 2012. “This approach is ill suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks.”

Not a single other member of the high court signed onto Sotomayor’s concurrence; her three Democratic appointed colleagues sided with a narrower one written by Justice Samuel Alito. Though all nine justices agreed that police would likely need to get a warrant to place a GPS device on a suspect’s car, it was Sotomayor who was willing to argue that modern technology had essentially changed the meaning of what privacy means when so much of our personal information and history is preserved online, and can be easily collected by the government in mass quantities. When the Framers of the Constitution wrote of “persons, houses, papers, and effects,” they could not have imagined cloud storage or cell phone location tracking.


Tom Friedman Should Take The Week Off And Regroup - By Charles P. Pierce

From the article Pierce quotes:

“For those at the cutting edge of this trend, durable goods are viewed as temporal objects to enjoy and pass on rather than ‘belongings.’ Personally, I no longer feel like I ‘own’ anything.


btw: Friedman lives in "a palatial 11,400-square-foot house, now valued at $9.3 million, on a 7½-acre parcel just blocks from I-495 and Bethesda Country Club." He "married into one of the 100 richest families in the country" - the Bucksbaums, whose real-estate Empire is valued at $2.7 billion.


By Charles P. Pierce at 12:45pm


Yesterday, Friedman may have reached the apogee of entitled and detached foofitude. He once again found some plucky "entrepreneurs" who are the future of the economy, if we'd all learn how to look in our tool sheds, garages, and attics to find the fortunes hidden there. (Friedman would have made a great member of the Oakenshield clan, says the guy who saw the new Hobbit movie last night.) Of course, this only applies to those of us who can still afford homes in which to have garages and attics, and those of us who are not living in tool sheds since the Wall Street entrepreneurs played mumbledy-peg with the world economy back in 2008.

In DiNunzio's case, four years ago she was raising capital for her start-up,Tradesy.com. "I started Tradesy with about $12,000, from a combination of credit card debt and loans, and went on to generate an additional $28,000 to fund the company over our first 18 months of operations by renting out my spare room on Airbnb," she explained. "I used free Internet resources to teach myself web design, marketing and basic coding, and had everything I needed to start a business that now employs 22 people and serves 1.5 million customers every month." DiNunzio is one in a wave of entrepreneurs who've been buoying our economy from below, at a time when so much national economic policy has been paralyzed. These risk-takers never got the word that China will eat our lunch or Germany will eat our breakfast, so they just go out and start stuff, and build stuff, and invent stuff - and create 20 jobs here and 30 jobs there.

I mean, good for her, but, seriously, this is now the future? (I can't top Billmon, who tweeted that Friedman had saved the economy by "reinventing the consignment shop.") I note the absence of labor costs, including what we used to call "wages." Maybe that's the future. Everything's a glorified yard sale and we're all just mail-order houses. But maybe I can get a buck for that old lamp that I've come to hate.


76 Things Banned In Leviticus (perhaps it’s time to lay off quoting 18:22 for a while?)

Here’s chapter and verse on a more-or-less comprehensive list of things banned in the Leviticus book of the bible. A decent number of them are punishable by death.

Unless you’ve never done any of them (and 54 to 56 are particularly tricky), perhaps it’s time to lay off quoting 18:22 for a while?

1. Burning any yeast or honey in offerings to God (2:11)

2. Failing to include salt in offerings to God (2:13)

3. Eating fat (3:17)

4. Eating blood (3:17)

5. Failing to testify against any wrongdoing you’ve witnessed (5:1)

6. Failing to testify against any wrongdoing you’ve been told about (5:1)

7. Touching an unclean animal (5:2)

8. Carelessly making an oath (5:4)

9. Deceiving a neighbour about something trusted to them (6:2)

10. Finding lost property and lying about it (6:3)

11. Bringing unauthorised fire before God (10:1)

12. Letting your hair become unkempt (10:6)

13. Tearing your clothes (10:6)

14. Drinking alcohol in holy places (bit of a problem for Catholics, this ‘un) (10)

15. Eating an animal which doesn’t both chew cud and has a divided hoof (cf: camel, rabbit, pig) (11:4-7)

16. Touching the carcass of any of the above (problems here for rugby) (11:8)

17. Eating – or touching the carcass of – any seafood without fins or scales (11:10-12)

18. Eating – or touching the carcass of - eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, any kind of black kite, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat. (11:13-19)

19. Eating – or touching the carcass of – flying insects with four legs, unless those legs are jointed (11:20-22)

20. Eating any animal which walks on all four and has paws (good news for cats) (11:27)

21. Eating – or touching the carcass of – the weasel, the rat, any kind of great lizard, the gecko, the monitor lizard, the wall lizard, the skink and the chameleon (11:29)

22. Eating – or touching the carcass of – any creature which crawls on many legs, or its belly (11:41-42)

23. Going to church within 33 days after giving birth to a boy (12:4)

24. Going to church within 66 days after giving birth to a girl (12:5)

25. Having sex with your mother (18)

26. Having sex with your father’s wife (18:8)

27. Having sex with your sister (18)

28. Having sex with your granddaughter (18:10)

29. Having sex with your half-sister (18:11)

30. Having sex with your biological aunt (18:12-13)

31. Having sex with your uncle’s wife (18:14)

32. Having sex with your daughter-in-law (18:15)

33. Having sex with your sister-in-law (18:16)

34. Having sex with a woman and also having sex with her daughter or granddaughter (bad news for Alan Clark) (18:17)

35. Marrying your wife’s sister while your wife still lives (18:18)

36. Having sex with a woman during her period (18:19)

37. Having sex with your neighbour’s wife (18:20)

38. Giving your children to be sacrificed to Molek (18:21)

39. Having sex with a man “as one does with a woman” (18:22)

40. Having sex with an animal (18:23)

41. Making idols or “metal gods” (19:4)

42. Reaping to the very edges of a field (19)

43. Picking up grapes that have fallen in your vineyard (19:10)

44. Stealing (19:11)

45. Lying (19:11)

46. Swearing falsely on God’s name (19:12)

47. Defrauding your neighbour (19:13)

48. Holding back the wages of an employee overnight (not well observed these days) (19:13)

49. Cursing the deaf or abusing the blind (19:14)

50. Perverting justice, showing partiality to either the poor or the rich (19:15)

51. Spreading slander (19:16)

52. Doing anything to endanger a neighbour’s life (19:16)

53. Seeking revenge or bearing a grudge (19:18)

54. Mixing fabrics in clothing (19:19)

55. Cross-breeding animals (19:19)

56. Planting different seeds in the same field (19:19)

57. Sleeping with another man’s slave (19:20)

58. Eating fruit from a tree within four years of planting it (19:23)

59. Practising divination or seeking omens (tut, tut astrology) (19:26)

60. Trimming your beard (19:27)

61. Cutting your hair at the sides (19:27)

62. Getting tattoos (19:28)

63. Making your daughter prostitute herself (19:29)

64. Turning to mediums or spiritualists (19:31)

65. Not standing in the presence of the elderly (19:32)

66. Mistreating foreigners – “the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born” (19:33-34)

67. Using dishonest weights and scales (19:35-36)

68. Cursing your father or mother (punishable by death) (20)

69. Marrying a prostitute, divorcee or widow if you are a priest (21,13)

70. Entering a place where there’s a dead body as a priest (21:11)

71. Slaughtering a cow/sheep and its young on the same day (22:28)

72. Working on the Sabbath (23:3)

73. Blasphemy (punishable by stoning to death) (24:14)

74. Inflicting an injury; killing someone else’s animal; killing a person must be punished in kind (24:17-22)

75. Selling land permanently (25:23)

76. Selling an Israelite as a slave (foreigners are fine) (25:42)

No, It is NOT Acceptable To Claim That God Says It's OK For You To Be A Stupid Bigot

At some point, this has to stop. No, it’s not acceptable in a civilized society to claim that God says it’s okay for you to be a stupid bigot. And it doesn’t matter how many people believe it is. They’re wrong. Period.

You know how I feel about faith-based religion because I’ve written about it so many times before. The fact is that when you peel away the culturally sanctioned rationale for believing that homosexuality is wrong — or for refusing to eat meat on a Friday, or for sitting on a box and covering the mirrors after someone dies, or for making sure that a woman’s body is clothed almost completely — what you’re left with is just plain old-fashioned crazy. And what’s worse is that, as the Robertson story proves, the rules and restrictions adhered to by the faithful all too often negatively impact people who should be well beyond the jurisdiction of any one particular religion. It would be one thing if Robertson merely believed that gay people were an affront to God, but those beliefs inform his actions. No belief is benign. It’s one thing for someone to, let’s say, make a personal decision not to work on Sunday because he thinks his god demands it — it’s another thing entirely for a pharmacist not to dispense the morning-after pill for the same reason.

I quite frankly don’t give a damn what someone’s god wants; the rights, privileges, and even whims of living, breathing human beings take precedence over the requirement they’ve imposed upon themselves not to offend the imaginary friend they talk to before they go to bed every night. The rights of a gay person to live without persecution and to be afforded equal marriage opportunity should at no point be considered equal to the “rights” of the faithful to adhere to the regulations imposed by Jesus (or Yahweh, or Muhammad and so on). Yes, you’re allowed to believe what you want, but when that belief collides with reality, reality shouldn’t be the one forced to submit. In the game of chicken between what’s proven and what can’t be, guess which one has to veer off?

Phil Robertson believes in the God of the Bible. He believes that this god doesn’t approve of the behavior of gay people and that that makes it okay for him to call them “ruthless” and “full of murder.” Fine. He can think whatever nonsense he wants. But he doesn’t get to throw up his hands and grant himself immunity from the outraged response of people whose beliefs adhere to logic, reason, and live-and-let-live compassion by “shifting the blame” over to his Christian faith. And neither do any of those defending him. Sorry, you don’t get to hide behind faith. And the entire ridiculous concept of faith shouldn’t be protected when it informs and perpetuates intolerance.


Doesn't this just break your heart?

K Street sizes up retiring lawmakers


While corporate headhunters see a future on K Street for many of the retiring lawmakers, they warn that sluggish lobbying revenues and gridlock on Capitol Hill are depressing demand.

“With revenues down, it's not going to be as fruitful. It will slowly pick up but we are still in a slump when it comes to government relations and lobbying,” said Chris Jones, managing partner of CapitolWorks.

Jones said that lawmakers out of work in 2015 will “need to be creative when it comes to finding their next job.”

That might mean taking not one but several jobs: working in venture capital, heading to academia, or sitting on corporate boards while doing a little lobbying on the side.


Snowden’s heroic work: Media must match his courage: “Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped.”

Early this year, Edward Snowden said,

“Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped.”

Our goal in 2014 is to help make that prediction a reality.

Edward Snowden’s heroic work:
Our media must match his courage
The media must continue to push back in 2014 against the government's violations of privacy and civil liberties


...........we have seen an unprecedented rise in the scope and intensity of efforts to silence journalists.

Unfortunately, these attacks are working. Nearly one in four American reporters have self-censored for fear of government surveillance, according to an October survey. This self-censorship is taking the form of turning down assignments, limiting research and avoiding some topics altogether for fear of falling under the watchful eye of our government’s sprawling, quasi-legal surveillance apparatus.

Even worse than the self-censorship is the outright hostility many in the media have shown toward those who have revealed — and continue to reveal — the mind-blowing scope of the mass surveillance dragnet that is currently monitoring and/or storing what appears to be a huge percentage of all of our digital communications, including phone calls. Edward Snowden, working with Salon alum Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Barton Gellman, revealed that those at the very highest levels of our ostensibly democratic government are lying to us. Instead of investigating and demanding accountability from the perpetrators, too many in the media have opted for metaphorically shooting the messengers (indeed, some would apparently prefer the shooting to be literal).

Given this state of affairs, discussions of objectivity and activism in journalism take on an urgent importance. In a recent conversation, David Daley, our editor in chief, said, “There are higher ideals than objectivity,” a quote I carry with me in my work.


As we enter a new year, Salon will continue its mission of producing fearless journalism, sparking meaningful conversations and providing a platform for a diversity of talented writers. We are grateful to you, our readers, for supporting Salon, and hope we can continue to inspire the dialogues we see on the site every day exploring these questions of democracy, technology and power.


Small Alabama town accidentally hires black drag queens to dance in Christmas parade

Residents in the small town of Semmes, Alabama were surprised when one of the acts in the annual Christmas parade was a group of black drag queens known as “The Prancing Elite.”

The captain of the troupe, Kentrell Collins, said he believed the offer had been made in good faith, and that the representative for the Friends of Semmes to whom he spoke knew who she was hiring.

“I said we’re all over 21 and we’re guys. She was so excited. She was like I didn’t know they had any groups like that in Mobile,” Collins told Fox 10 News.

The reaction of local residents to the troupe’s performance was overwhelmingly negative.


Twas The (Republican) Night Before Christmas.

Twas The (Republican) Night Before Christmas.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the House
Not a bill was debated, thanks to an orange souse;

The interns were stuffed in the offices with care,
In hopes that no journalists would make them share;

The lobbyists were counting their dough in their beds;
While visions of special bills danced in their heads;

And Michele with her corn dog, and King with his hate,
Had just muddled our brains, and sealed our fate,

When out on the steps there arose such a clatter,
John sprang from his bed to see what was the matter.

Away through the hallways he flew like a flash,
Threw open the doors and dropped some spare cash.

When what to John’s booze-reddened eyes did appear,
But a beat-up old Chevy and a man with a tear,

And a little old lady who shivered with cold,
John wished to ignore her, and anyone old.

More vapid than Bill-O John’s colleagues they came,
And he mumbled, and cried, and called them by name:

“Now, Denham! now, Duncan! now Perry and Olson!
On, Cantor! on, Chaffetz! on, Duffy and Hudson!

To the floor of the House! to the gallery, too!
Don’t let the poor and ill try to sway you!”

So up to the top of the Capitol they rose
While avoiding the poor folk who slowly froze.

“We Don’t want to know,” they cried as they went
“If poor folk are starving or can’t make rent.”

As they drew in their heads, ignoring the sounds,
More needy surrounded the Capitol grounds.

They were dressed all in rags, from their head to their foot,
And their clothes were all coated with ashes and soot;

A bundle of sticks one slung on his back
For fire, as money for heating they lack.

Their eyes—they were sunken! their hair very dirty
Their homes had been taken, it was not very pretty.

Their lips were drawn closed tight like a bow,
As they tried to shake off the cold and snow;

The sick folk had suffered and lost their good cheer,
That they needed insurance was really quite clear.

The hungry had barely any food in their bellies;
Not even some smelly old government cheese.

Yet John Boehner’s colleagues were very well-fed,
And had warm homes and comfortable beds;

The closing of eyes and votes for no help,
Soon gave us to know they were all for themselves;

They spoke no good word, but went straight to their work,
And slashed all the programs; making each one a jerk,

And doing the bidding of Walton and Koch,
Put the whole Middle Class in a horrible yoke;

They vote for the money and care for the rich,
And call unemployed folks “you sonuvabitch.”

But we vote next year to replace those on the right—
So, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

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