24th Feb 2017
Passengers put up with endless hassles from the Transportation Security Administration in hopes it all keeps them safe. So after 11 people got past a JFK checkpoint Monday without being screened, you’d think heads would roll. Hah!
The 11 got through, apparently, because TSA staffers left a security lane open but unmanned. Three set off a metal-detector alarm and still walked on. And TSA didn’t tell Port Authority cops for two hours.
Airport police from around the country call the flap “unconscionable.” TSA has taken its “eye off the ball,” fumed American Alliance of Airport Police Officers co-founder Marshall McClain. Uh, ya think?
True, most of the 11 were tracked down and found not to be threats . . . after they landed.
The agency’s official statement on what comes next: “Once our review is complete, TSA will discipline and retrain employees.” Oh, and it has ID’d the responsible workers and “appropriate action is being taken.”
Retraining. Appropriate action. How about fired ? Sorry, no: TSA staff are a protected branch of the American Federation of Government Employees, one with the hilarious motto: “Stronger Union, Safer Skies.”
Private-sector workers who mess up so badly as to put lives in jeopardy would be gone in a heartbeat. Heck, they’d be fired for far less serious breaches.
Somewhere along the road to making America great again, Mr. President, how about privatizing the damn TSA to end all the maddening “security theater”
24th Feb 2017
President Donald Trump has said he wants to build up the US nuclear arsenal to ensure it is at the “top of the pack,” saying the United States has fallen behind in its atomic weapons capacity.
In a Reuters interview, Trump also said China could solve the national security challenge posed by North Korea “very easily if they want to,” ratcheting up pressure on Beijing to exert more influence to rein in Pyongyang’s increasingly bellicose actions.
In his first comments about the US nuclear arsenal since taking office on January 20, Mr Trump said the United States has “fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity.”
“… We’re never going to fall behind any country even if it’s a friendly country, we’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power.
“It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack,” Mr Trump said.
The new strategic arms limitation treaty, known as New START, between the US and Russia requires that by February 5, 2018, both countries must limit their arsenals of strategic nuclear weapons to equal levels for 10 years.
The treaty permits both countries to have no more than 800 deployed and non-deployed land-based intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers and heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear weapons, and contains equal limits on other nuclear weapons.
Analysts have questioned whether Mr Trump wants to abrogate New START or would begin deploying other warheads.
In the interview, Mr Trump called New START “a one-sided deal”.
“Just another bad deal that the country made, whether it’s START, whether it’s the Iran deal … We’re going to start making good deals,” he said.
The United States is in the midst of a $US1 trillion ($1.3 trillion), 30-year modernisation of its aging ballistic missile submarines, bombers and land-based missiles, a price tag that most experts say the country cannot afford.
Mr Trump also complained that the Russian deployment of a ground-based cruise missile is in violation of a 1987 treaty that bans land-based American and Russian intermediate-range missiles.
“To me it’s a big deal,” he said.
Asked if he would raise the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Trump said he would do so “if and when we meet.” He said he had no meetings scheduled as of yet with Mr Putin.
Speaking from behind his desk in the Oval Office, Mr Trump declared that “we’re very angry” at North Korea’s ballistic missile tests and said accelerating a missile defense system for US allies Japan and South Korea was among many options available.
“There’s talks of a lot more than that,” Mr Trump said, when asked about the missile defense system. “We’ll see what happens. But it’s a very dangerous situation, and China can end it very quickly in my opinion.”
13th Feb 2017
If you attend a protest in Washington, D.C., nowadays, better plan on leaving your cellphone at home. That is, unless you want police to confiscate it, mine it for incriminating information and then gather even more data from their BFF — Facebook.
At least one person arrested during protests on Inauguration Day got an email from Facebook’s Law Enforcement Response Team alerting them that investigators wanted access to their data. Another received a Facebook data subpoena.
The email was basically a countdown to when Facebook inevitably handed that data over to D.C. police. That is, unless the respondent figured out how to file an objection within a 10-day window.
When over 230 people were arrested in D.C. during protests against Donald Trump last month, many of those rounded up were not part of the protests. Cops swept up medics, legal observers, and six journalists from Voactiv, RT America and others.
All of their phones were confiscated and retained.
Everyone arrested now faces felony charges and up to 10 years in prison. In the Bay Area, where we love a good protest, it’s very rare that arrested protesters get prosecuted. So it’s odd to think that protesters would have their social media scrutinized after an arrest. Though, like in most cities across America, it’s extremely common for investigators to search the social media of suspects in other crimes if they believe that the suspect posted something related (like photos of a beating). SFPD even has an officer devoted to following social media — most heavily, Snapchat and Instagram, as those are apparently where you find the best crime stuff.
Oakland Police and supporting agencies like California Highway Patrol have been very transparent about monitoring Twitter to determine protest movement and plans. And we’ve been pretty vocal about pushing back. It only makes sense that we’d resist any form of surveillance, seeing that we’re ground zero around here for ethically challenged startups that invade our privacy. Fighting the surveillance state has become part of our DNA. But a wide-ranging Facebook subpoena for felony protest prosecution isn’t something we’ve seen the likes of.
The subpoena issued to Facebook (this one by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on January 27, 2017 and signed off on by a D.C. Metropolitan Police Detective) obtained by press this week is chilling. It targeted another inauguration arrestee, and requests subscriber information from Facebook that includes all names, all addresses (home, business, emails), phone records, session details (IP, ports, etc), device identification info, payment information, and more.
CityLab explained, “The redacted blocks on the second page shield columns of phone numbers, which are connected to other arrestees for whom the district attorney and police are seeking information.”
The list of phone numbers may indicate that police have gained access to someone’s phone and are building a case with what they found. A screenshot provided to CityLab indicates police began mining information from the confiscated devices right after the arrests.
On one hand, that could’ve been automated pinging by Gmail to Google’s servers. Or, it could’ve been something darker. When phones are taken as evidence, they’re supposed to be secured in a signal-blocking Faraday bag to prevent remote wipes. Fred Jennings, a cybercrime defense attorney at the firm Tor Ekeland in New York, told press: “If it had been secured properly and placed in the bag to safeguard it, there’d be no way for it to ping the server.”
For some of us, this sets off a different set of alarms. It’s scary enough that police are arresting journalists and mining our phones for all the terrifyingly detailed data Facebook seems all too happy to give up. But authorities with questionable intent are also collecting our contacts, and pose a very real risk for our protected sources.
Some of this could be solved by ditching our devices in favor of carrying on-the-scene burner phones. But this presents a new host of complications and problems, even for the well-intentioned protester or march participant. For one, it’s a hassle for most people. It also defeats the purpose of using your Twitter or Facebook account. More than ever, it’s vital that our voices are heard through media we share from our phones. Things like immigration-ban protests and the state-level denial of chaos at the airports can’t be dismissed when the realities are documented through our established Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Keeping a record of what authorities do to us, and being able to send a signal flare for help to our networks, makes them being used against us a much bigger problem than just saying “leave your phone at home” or “don’t talk about the protest online.”
It’s not a stretch to lay blame at Facebook’s feet for taking data we don’t necessarily want to give it, and for its well-established collaboration with police against its users. It’s a bigger stretch to suggest that the agreement between Facebook and its users is any kind of informed consent.
It’s interesting that this news comes up the same week that 333,000 people signed a petition demanding Facebook improve its corporate citizenship, with 1,500 of the signees being company shareholders. That document led to a proposal to remove Mark Zuckerberg from the board.
This, it said, was necessary at a time when Facebook “faces increasing criticism regarding its perceived role in the promotion of misleading news; censorship, hate speech and alleged inconsistencies in the application of Facebook’s community-standards guidelines and content policies; targeting of ad views based on race; collaboration with law enforcement and other government agencies; and calls for public accountability regarding the human-rights impacts of Facebook’s practices.”
It’s that collaboration with law enforcement and human-rights accountability we’ll be hearing more about as the D.C. arrest cases unfold. It’s not a new story, just an old one with a twist: Facebook got called out just before the US presidential election for colluding with authorities against its users’ human rights, specifically US police departments. A coalition of 70 human-rights groups, including the ACLU, wrote a public letter to Facebook condemning the company’s zeal in doing police bidding around the world.
Facebook, of course, just wants us to live our lives so it can keep collecting data we don’t even know we’re creating. Recording and storing our location, connections, contacts, experiences, our secrets and our history.
It’s transforming our memories into a malevolent, atavistic shadow that someday may be used against us in a court of law.
13th Feb 2017
Scarcely a day goes by without us being warned of coastal inundation by rising seas due to global warming.
Why on earth do we attribute any heating of the oceans to carbon dioxide, when there is a far more obvious culprit, and when such a straightforward examination of the thermodynamics render it impossible.
Carbon dioxide, we are told, traps heat that has been irradiated by the oceans, and this warms the oceans and melts the polar ice caps. While this seems a plausible proposition at first glance, when one actually examines it closely a major flaw emerges.
In a nutshell, water takes a lot of energy to heat up, and air doesn’t contain much. In fact, on a volume/volume basis, the ratio of heat capacities is about 3300 to 1. This means that to heat 1 litre of water by 1˚C it would take 3300 litres of air that was 2˚C hotter, or 1 litre of air that was about 3300˚C hotter!
This shouldn’t surprise anyone. If you ran a cold bath and then tried to heat it by putting a dozen heaters in the room, does anyone believe that the water would ever get hot?
The problem gets even stickier when you consider the size of the ocean. Basically, there is too much water and not enough air.
The ocean contains a colossal 1,500,000,000,000,000,000,000 litres of water! To heat it, even by a small amount, takes a staggering amount of energy. To heat it by a mere 1˚C, for example, an astonishing 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 joules of energy are required.
Let’s put this amount of energy in perspective. If we all turned off all our appliances and went and lived in caves, and then devoted every coal, nuclear, gas, hydro, wind and solar power plant to just heating the ocean, it would take a breathtaking 32,000 years to heat the ocean by just this 1˚C!
In short, our influence on our climate, even if we really tried, is miniscule!
So it makes sense to ask the question – if the ocean were to be heated by ‘greenhouse warming’ of the atmosphere, how hot would the air have to get? If the entire ocean is heated by 1˚C, how much would the air have to be heated by to contain enough heat to do the job?
Well, unfortunately for every ton of water there is only a kilogram of air. Taking into account the relative heat capacities and absolute masses, we arrive at the astonishing figure of 4,000˚C.
That is, if we wanted to heat the entire ocean by 1˚C, and wanted to do it by heating the air above it, we’d have to heat the air to about 4,000˚C hotter than the water.
And another problem is that air sits on top of water – how would hot air heat deep into the ocean? Even if the surface warmed, the warm water would just sit on top of the cold water.
Thus, if the ocean were being heated by ‘greenhouse heating’ of the air, we would see a system with enormous thermal lag – for the ocean to be only slightly warmer, the land would have to be substantially warmer, and the air much, much warmer (to create the temperature gradient that would facilitate the transfer of heat from the air to the water).
Therefore any measurable warmth in the ocean would be accompanied by a huge and obvious anomaly in the air temperatures, and we would not have to bother looking at ocean temperatures at all.
So if the air doesn’t contain enough energy to heat the oceans or melt the ice caps, what does?
The earth is tilted on its axis, and this gives us our seasons. When the southern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun, we have more direct sunlight and more of it (longer days). When it is tilted away from the sun, we have less direct sunlight and less of it (shorter days).
The direct result of this is that in summer it is hot and in winter it is cold. In winter we run the heaters in our cars, and in summer the air conditioners. In winter the polar caps freeze over and in summer 60-70% of them melt (about ten million square kilometres). In summer the water is warmer and winter it is cooler (ask any surfer).
All of these changes are directly determined by the amount of sunlight that we get. When the clouds clear and bathe us in sunlight, we don’t take off our jumper because of ‘greenhouse heating’ of the atmosphere, but because of the direct heat caused by the sunlight on our body. The sun’s influence is direct, obvious, and instantaneous.
If the enormous influence of the sun on our climate is so obvious, then, by what act of madness do we look at a variation of a fraction of a percent in any of these variables, and not look to the sun as the cause?
Why on earth (pun intended) do we attribute any heating of the oceans to carbon dioxide, when there is a far more obvious culprit, and when such a straightforward examination of the thermodynamics render it impossible.
13th Feb 2016
President Donald Trump’s White House staff may be longing for the random acts of vandalism committed against the early George W. Bush team by the Clinton White House staff in 2001, including taking the Ws off many White House computer keyboards.
Instead, today, a subversive alt-government is emerging, in line with the alt-left’s growing resistance to use any means necessary to slow, stop and obstruct Trump’s agenda, from inside the government, to make America ungovernable.
Christian Adams, a lawyer and the author of “Injustice,” has witnessed ideological battles inside the Department of Justice. In this exclusive video interview, he condemns the intolerant left wing, with its violence, fire, riots and “totalitarian tendencies,” daring to label others as fascists or nazis.
He says it’s a tactic used to scare and conjure up horrors against their enemies. Adams says that use of such labels, is an Orwellian corruption of the language, showing how far the left has sunk in its hatred of America.
The “civil service has been radicalized and is an instrument of the institutional left,” he says, mentioning immigration, open borders, green energy, labor policy for unions and more. He says, with the power and protections of civil service employment, these bureaucrats are poised to impose their own ideological will through the administrative state, despite Trump’s victory at the ballot box.
As for the ideologically-hostile bureaucrats left in place from the Obama administration, Adams says “there are not enough Donald Trumps in the administration.”
He chides the initial Trump teams for not taking bolder action after Jan. 20. Awaiting the Senate confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Sally Yates, the first acting attorney general who voiced objection to an early presidential action before she was fired two hours later, should not have been left in that position, he says. No other Republican though, he says, would have had the courage to fire Yates so summarily either.
In this exclusive interview for The Daily Caller News Foundation, Adams warns, “There’s a lot more Sally Yates in the Justice Department just waiting to sabotage the next policy initiative of the President or the attorney general.”
If Trump doesn’t take on the alt-government, he will face four years of escalating sabotage, Adams says.
His recommendations to Trump include removing or transferring large numbers of the federal Senior Executive Service (SES) managers. Additionally, a large reduction in force of federal employees could help, he thinks, but that takes more courage by the Congress.
For context, radio host and author Dennis Prager has deemed what is happening against our new president as a new American civil war. These alt-government tactics, joined with escalating anti-Trump street protests, boycotts, orchestrated congressional obstructionism and slow downs by Democrats surpasses protests of yesteryears.
Previous resistance efforts were designed to irritate and draw attention to a cause. Yet, since election day, the array of third-world revolutionary tactics unfolding throughout the culture, Congress, the media, along with the mass manipulation and name calling is designed to overturn the voters’ choice, and punish and destroy the opposition.
Faceless bureaucrats are maliciously leaking confidential information against President Trump already. Classes are forming to train federal workers on acts of civil disobedience.
Adams mentions the new portal, SecureDrop by the Washington Post, to encourage leaks for whistleblowers. In addition, the ethics offices are often ideologically driven, holding Republicans to higher standards than the last administration, he adds.
A recent report showed 95 percent of federal employee political donations went against Trump.
8th Feb 2017
A majority of Europeans want a ban on immigration from Muslim-majority countries, a poll has revealed.
An average of 55 per cent of people across the 10 European countries surveyed wanted to stop all future immigration from mainly Muslim countries.
The Chatham House study, conducted before US President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning immigration to the US from seven predominantly Muslim countries, found majorities in all but two of the ten states opposed immigration from mainly Muslim countries.
Only 20 per cent disagreed, while 25 per cent said they did not know.
A ban was supported by 71 per cent of people in Poland, 65 per cent in Austria, 53 per cent in Germany and 51 per cent in Italy.
In the UK, 47 per cent supported a ban.
In no country did more than 32 per cent disagree with a ban.
Of those surveyed, opposition to Muslim immigration was especially intense among older people, while those under 30 were less opposed.
There was also a contrast between those with secondary level qualifications, of which 59 per cent opposed Muslim immigration, and degree holders, of which less than half supported halting immigration.
A Pew survey of 10 European countries in 2016 found majorities in five countries had an unfavourable view of Muslims living in their country.
Of those, 72 per cent of Hungarians had a negative view of Muslims, followed by 69 per cent of Italians, 66 per cent of Poles, 65 per cent of Greeks and 50 per cent of Spaniards.
In the UK, only 28 per cent said they had an unfavourable view of Muslims, while in Germany and France 29 per cent said the same.
6th Feb 2017
President Trump and his Justice Department are being urged to go slow on appealing a court’s rejection of their travel ban and follow Germany’s example and put GPS ankle bracelets on visitors from the seven targeted nations until a final decision is made.
A prominent legal expert said that the administration should wait to appeal until Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch gets to the court, giving Trump a 5-4 majority and in the meantime put the tracking devices on any refugee or visitor.
“Going to the Supreme Court now could result in a widely predicted 4-4 decision,” warned George Washington University Law Professor John Banzhaf.
Wait instead, he urged, and in the meantime look to Germany’s model of using trackers on those it suspects of having terror ties — not all refugees.
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“Imposing such conditions on admission is fully consistent with 8 USC 1182(f) which expressly gives the president the authority to ‘impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.’ It is also more likely to be upheld since it is far less objectionable than a total ban,” he said.
Currently, ankle bracelets are widely used by law enforcement and immigration agencies and Banzhaf suggested that it can be expanded and would be accepted by the nation.
“There have now been several major terrorist incidents in which authorities pointed out that they were suspicious of the perpetrator, but did not have sufficient information to arrest him, nor the vast resources necessary to provide effective surveillance of everyone under suspicion. GPS systems incorporated in ankle bracelets permit one agent to track hundreds of suspects in real time, and provide computer generated alerts if he goes anywhere suspicious (e.g., near a nuclear power plant), meets with other persons likewise wearing ankle monitors,” he said.
6th Feb 2017
The majority-Muslim country of Kuwait currently has a visa ban on three of the seven countries named in President Trump’s recent executive order, calling into question the alleged Islamophobic nature of the “Muslim ban.” Islam is the official religion of Kuwait, and yet passport holders from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have reportedly not been able to obtain visas to enter the country since 2011.
Kuwaiti officials note the problematic “instability” of the countries – specifically, internal conflict and terrorism – as reasons for the travel restrictions. In 2015, a mosque in Kuwait was bombed, leading to 27 deaths.
Kuwait is not the only Arab state to take a tough stance on travel restrictions from unstable Muslim countries. Lieutenant General Khalfan, Dubai’s head of security even tweeted support for Trump’s executive order:
“We completely support Trump in his ban on entry to those who may cause a breach in America’s security.”
The United Arab Emirates also gave approval to the ban. Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan said on Wednesday that Trump’s ban was not anti-Islam, and that it was a “sovereign decision” of the United States that must be respected.
It is painfully obvious that there is nothing inherently Islamophobic in Trump’s executive order. The order never uses the word Muslim, and fails to target many of the most populous Muslim countries. The order is a perfectly reasonable reaction to the threat of terrorism coming from these countries.
A threat that Kuwait identified long before Trump.