You’re Being Watched by Your Government

Back in July I wrote about how your government was utilizing all kinds of technology to spy on you.  At the time it appeared to just be speculation; now we know it to be true.

Part I

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is suing the Justice Department for details of last month’s ruling by a secretive U.S. court that National Security Agency’s domestic spying program violated the U.S. Constitution, Jon Brodkin of arstechnica reports.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) found that “on at least one occasion” the NSA had violated the Fourth Amendment’s restriction against unreasonable searches and seizures.  …

The kicker is that there is ample evidence that the NSA has gone above and beyond the powers granted through the 2008 FISA Amendment Act by actively spying on the electronic communications of American citizens within the U.S. and by coercing service providers to feed it any and all information it wants.via Business Insider.

And it that’s not scary enough for you, check this out!

Part II

A Naomi Wolf article in the Guardian about the rise of security cameras at Occupy hangouts and the multi-billion dollar biometric technologies industry includes this story:

A software engineer … visited Disneyland, and … the theme park offered him the photo of himself and his girlfriend to buy – with his credit card information already linked to it. He noted that he had never entered his name or information into anything at the theme park, or indicated that he wanted a photo, or alerted the humans at the ride to who he and his girlfriend were – so, he said, based on his professional experience, the system had to be using facial recognition technology. He had never signed an agreement allowing them to do so, and he declared that this use was illegal. He also claimed that Disney had recently shared data from facial-recognition technology with the United States military.

It turns out that Disney applies biometrics – that is, the statistical analysis of biological data – in the form of scanning visitor fingerprint information and identifying people with facial recognition software.

In fact, “Walt Disney World is responsible for the nation’s largest single commercial application of biometrics” and after 9/11 the government sought “Disney’s advice in intelligence, security and biometrics,” as reported in 2006 by Karen Hamel of News 21.

Hamel listed several former Disneyland employees that have gone on to fill “some of the most sensitive positions in the U.S. intelligence and security communities,”

via Business Insider.

That’s more than just a little creepy.

There’s also a guy who used to work for the NSA who’s coming forward and blowing the whistle.

 

IL Pension Hole Analysis

I wrote this a few weeks ago as a comment on a retired teacher’s blog.  The post there was about how we need to “tax the rich” in order to fund the teachers’ pensions.  I was asked to comment on the post by a retired teacher I know.  Analysis follows:

There is no one sided solution to this problem. Perhaps if Springfield moved on this a decade ago it could be solved with “funding” but at this time both sides are going to have to give.

According to Crain’s Illinois’ unfunded pension liabilities are $86 billion. See: http://jamesbosco.com/2012/06/19/illinois-pensions-are-the-worst/

According to the Il Dept. of Revenue there were 36,682 returns filed in the state with over $500,000 in AGI. These returns paid $1,633,991,633. See: http://www.revenue.state.il.us/AboutIdor/TaxStats/2010/IIT-NetIncome-2010-Preliminary.pdf

If we (a/k/a Illinois) doubled the tax on these folks with AGI over $500k we could bring in an extra $1.63B assuming no one flees the state (which would happen.) So doubling the tax on “the rich” would cover 1.9% of the current pension liabilities.

If we quadrupled the tax that would cover less than 7.6% of the current pension liabilities. So it would take over 13 years of quadruple taxation on those making over $500k per year just to get current pension liabilities square. This would not cover the additional debt.

Union members can sit around pointing fingers but it’s not going to solve the problem. Illinois is broke. Everyone’s going to have to give more than they want. Of course, the “rich” can always move to Indiana or Wisconsin. Then they contribute nothing; that doesn’t help retired teachers one bit. So I recommend that you be careful what you wish for.

– – –

We cannot solve our problem by eating the rich.  We must grow the size of the pie. … Well, growth and inflation.

Taliban Behead People for Music (CAIR Silent)

The news out of Afghanistan is that the Taliban beheaded 17 men and women who had gathered for a mixed-gender social event with music and dancing.

via Business Insider.

Some parts of the world are simply 1,500 years behind the times.  We need to leave them be.  It’s not worth the American lives and money to try to front-face backward people.

One questions I do have though is where is the outcry from moderate Muslims?  It appears to me that this sort of behavior is simply acceptable to them.  That’s at least a save assumption until someone says otherwise.

Back to my first thought… why should we risk our lives trying to save the innocent when their own people refuse to even acknowledge that anything is wrong?