Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Why Signing Statements Matter.

Dave Lindorff writes: about Signing Statements

"Over the course of the past year, it has been discovered that President Bush, during his five years in office, has cancelled all or part of 750 laws of Congress, quietly and with the stroke of a pen. These so-called "signing statements" have been used to invalidate laws passed by Congress to do everything from require government reporting on the uses of the Patriot Act's invasive provisions to banning torture and establishing a special investigator for corruption in Iraq."

Gail Chaddock Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor :

"But it resurfaced on Capitol Hill this week, as lawmakers consider giving President Bush line-item veto authority and, behind the scenes, negotiate with the White House over Mr. Bush's claim that he has authority to conduct domestic wiretapping without a warrant, despite a 1978 law that says otherwise."


Cafferty on how Bush is the Decider! on Signing Statements.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Watch where you pour that thing, Sonny.

Whenever I begin to think that our government is on the verge of Big Brotherhood, somebody in Corporate America decides to remind me that most businesses already have that strategy. reports on a alarming addition to employer surveillance.

"Treasure Island (TI), a Las Vegas hotel and casino, has installed a system utilizing RFID to track the amount and type of liquor its bartenders pour. The new system, the Beverage Tracker, was supplied by Capton, a San Francisco-based provider of liquor-monitoring technology. The system has been in operation at two of the hotelĂ‚’s bars for the past month and will soon be added to two more."

I had heard of a device that limits bartenders from over pouring drinks, but this kind of tracking is getting out of hand. How much control are you wiling to cede to an employer for your paycheck? If you think this kind of monitoring is just for low skill low wage work, think again. The technology for absolute surveillance will be here soon. I expect a deafening silence to greet humankind's surrender to total monitoring. That's why I call my site the Silent Totalitarianism.

It should be readily apparent to even the most partisan Republican that corporations have the desire to do so, and the market justifications ready to enable them.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Domestic surveillance in US: not just phone data, banking too

When I decided to change the focus of this blog, I thought "what if there is not enough news to keep posting about."

In the words of G.W. Bush "I appreciate all your help," but I wish you guys would slow down with all the spying stuff, I can't keep up!

Boing Boing posts about a NYTimes article that details how "counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States."

From Political Theory Daily even more about the "NSA’s surveillance program undermines the rule of law without producing real gains in security."

From Salon, "is the NSA spying on US Internet traffic? Two former AT&T employees say the telecom giant has maintained a secret."

AT&T also "has issued an updated privacy policy that takes effect Friday. The changes are significant because they appear to give the telecom giant more latitude when it comes to sharing customers' personal data with government officials."

Arizona passes emergency bill on DIEBOLD!

Here is Evil Jan Brewer's statement on electronic Voting.

Statement Regarding Today's Voting Equipment Lawsuit:

"It's a shame that certain individuals are attempting to derail the rights of disabled citizens to vote privately and independently for the first time ever. Make no mistake, the accessible voting devices at issue in this lawsuit were purchased solely for the benefit of our disabled community, and these machines have been fully tested and certified at the national and state levels. While the vast majority of voters will continue to vote on the optical scan devices at their polling places that are not the subject of this litigation, I strongly oppose taking away these new accessible devices for the one percent of votes that will be cast on these machines.

It is also important to remember, our state has established strict security procedures and guidelines to assure the integrity of this equipment and the voting process. Similar unsubstantiated lawsuits like this one today have been filed in other states, and have been unsuccessful. I have referred this matter to the Attorney General and have asked him to seek a dismissal as soon as possible.

Jan Brewer Arizona Secretary of State

In what can only be thought of as a rebuke of Sec. of State Jan Brewer the Arizona Legislature passed an emergency bill that "Guarantees VVPAT, Hand Audits, and Durable Paper Ballots."

The Brad blog has all the details on the bill.

Compare the new "sexier" Jan top Pic with bleach blond dew with the former matronly Jan Brewer.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Cheney's 1% Doctrine. Plus more links!

From the NYTimes, a book review.

In "The One Percent Doctrine," Mr. Suskind discloses that First Data Corporation — one of the world's largest processors of credit card transactions and the parent company of Western Union — began cooperating with the F.B.I. in the wake of 9/11, providing information on financial transactions and wire transfers from around the world. The huge data-gathering operation in some respects complemented the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program (secretly authorized by Mr. Bush months after the Sept. 11 attacks), which monitored specific conversations as well as combed through large volumes of phone and Internet traffic in search of patterns that might lead to terrorism suspects.

Subsrciption required. Source.

Here's something to look forward to a Robot Colony on Mars.

Just bought yourself a new digital camera? Somebody wants to make sure you can't photograph things you aren't supposed to.

The Georgia Institute of Technology have built a prototype device that they say can stop digital cameras functioning in a given area. The device uses off-the-shelf equipment - camera-mounted sensors, lighting equipment, a projector and a computer - to scan for, identify and neutralize both still and video digital cameras. The researchers have their eye on two markets - protecting limited areas against clandestine photography and stopping video copying in larger areas such as theaters, explained Geogia Tech's Gregory Abowd.

Executive branch to EFF: We're above the law

The Film
Aaron Russo's America: Freedom to Facism.

Determined to find the law that requires American citizens to pay income tax, producer Aaron Russo ("The Rose," "Trading Places") set out on a journey to find the evidence. This film which is neither left, nor right-wing is a startling examination of government. It exposes the systematic erosion of civil liberties in America since 1913 when the Federal Reserve system was fraudulently created. Through interviews with U.S. Congressmen, a former IRS Commissioner, former IRS and FBI agents and tax attorneys and authors, Russo connects the dots between money creation, federal income tax, and the national identity card which becomes law in May 2008. This ID card will use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips which are essentially homing devices used to track people. This film shows in great detail and undeniable facts that America is moving headlong into a fascist police state. Wake up!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

This week in links.

A system that lets your computer "listen" to your television to create targeted web adverts has been designed and tested by researchers at Google.

"Viral Marketing" to become the norm? Where Brain Science and Marketing Meet.

Mark Crispin Miller's blog is focused on Elections. The Brad Blog is my blog but much better!

Keep up on Robots here!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The growing inequality in America.

"AMERICANS do not go in for envy. The gap between rich and poor is bigger than in any other advanced country, but most people are unconcerned. Whereas Europeans fret about the way the economic pie is divided, Americans want to join the rich, not soak them. Eight out of ten, more than anywhere else, believe that though you may start poor, if you work hard, you can make pots of money. It is a central part of the American Dream."

The article has an extensive list of links that deal with income inequality as well. Or try and visit

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

How do you forget the name of your blog?

Ok, so maybe I change the name of this blog 5 times a day. I will bet ya this one sticks. Of course it's 2:38 in the morning and I am on my 4th Natural Light beer. Don't ever bet against me- no matter how much you think the guy in the Fast in the Furious is not Ja Rule- otherwise you too will be offering up your secret beer stash to me.

Here is why this blog should be called the Silent Totalitarianism.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Robot safety.

Security, safety and sex are the big concerns,” says Henrik Christensen, chairman of the European Robotics Network at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, and one of the organisers of the new robo-ethics group."

"Should robots that are strong enough or heavy enough to crush people be allowed into homes? Is “system malfunction” a justifiable defence for a robotic fighter plane that contravenes the Geneva Convention and mistakenly fires on innocent civilians? And should robotic sex dolls resembling children be legally allowed?"

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Transparent Society

A must read book for concerned citizens. The review from

David Brin takes some of our worst notions about threats to privacy and sets them on their ears. According to Brin, there is no turning back the growth of public observation and inevitable loss of privacy--at least outside of our own homes. Too many of our transactions are already monitored: Brin asserts that cameras used to observe and reduce crime in public areas have been successful and are on the rise. There's even talk of bringing in microphones to augment the cameras. Brin has no doubt that it's only a matter of time before they're installed in numbers to cover every urban area in every developed nation.

While this has the makings for an Orwellian nightmare, Brin argues that we can choose to make the same scenario a setting for even greater freedom. The determining factor is whether the power of observation and surveillance is held only by the police and the powerful or is shared by us all. In the latter case, Brin argues that people will have nothing to fear from the watchers because everyone will be watching each other. The cameras would become a public resource to assure that no mugger is hiding around the corner, our children are playing safely in the park, and police will not abuse their power.

No simplistic Utopian, Brin also acknowledges the many dangers on the way. He discusses how open access to information can either threaten or enhance freedom. It is one thing, for example, to make the entire outdoors public and another thing to allow the cameras and microphones to snoop into our homes. He therefore spends a lot of pages examining what steps are required to assure that a transparent society evolves in a manner that enhances rather than restricts freedom. This is a challenging view of tomorrow and an exhilarating read for those who don't mind challenges to even the most well-entrenched cultural assumptions. --Elizabeth Lewis

Here is a list of Amazon books on the subject. Source.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Specter's Blanket Amnesty on the NSA scandal.

Jack Cafferty may be the only person (other than this guy) in the world going 'ballistic' over news that Senator Arlen Spector has worked out a deal that allows the white house to get off scott free over the NSA spying issue. Click here for video from Crooks & Liars.

It seems this all started a while back when Spector sent this letter to Vice President Dick Cheney. It was full of tough talk, so much so that Cafferty told his audience that Spector "might be all that is standing between us and a full-blown dictatorship in this country."

Cafferty's tone changed after Spector's interview with Wolf Blitzer.

"What an idiot I am. I actually thought at the time Senator Specter was going to exercise his responsibility to provide some congressional oversight of the executive branch, you know, see if the White House is playing by the rules. Silly me."

What's great about Cafferty's analysis is that he comes on Blitzer's show to roast Spector over his interview and sandbags (intentionally?) Wolf for not getting Spector's intent.

Blitzer seems clueless in his interview that Spector backed off his sharp criticism of the President. Blitzer punctuates his interview with "wow those are strong words," but fails to listen or analyze the responses he gets from the Senator.

Crook & Liars does a better job asking "is Spector really mad?"

"He says the FISA statute has been violated, but won't say that the President broke the law. He says the President doesn't have a blank check, but when Wolf asked him about punishment-he called it a political issue. Cheney uses Hatch to go behind his back and Arlen doesn't mind at all. .. I'm a bit under the weather-so what do you all think?"

Spector's deal is then summed up aptly by Cafferty.

"Anyone involved in the current secret NSA spying program without a court order would be given blanket Amnesty.-very courageous Senator Specter. Why would they need amnesty if what they are doing is legal?--It boggles what's left of my mind."

Boggles indeed.

Robots are getting closer to being they can 'feel.'


"Robot sensors go touchy-feelyTouch-sensitive 'skin' will give robots the sense they lack.

Could robots become well acquainted with the touch of a velvet hand? GettyRobots are one step closer to having a human sense of touch, thanks to a thin, flexible film that mimics the sensitivity of a human finger. The device may become useful in the next generation of robots and in automated tools used for microsurgery."

If they feel they can experience pain. That's about the only good news here. Soon we won't be able to tell robots apart from the humans. Soon attempting to distinguish the two will be thought of as 'old fashioned.'

NSA at it again. Let's just call it Total Information Awareness.

New Scientist "has discovered that Pentagon's National Security Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code-breaking, is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks."

Remind you of anything? TIA?

Alternet has a story on this as well.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

National Security agency will not disclose gay surveillance

"The National Security Agency has responded to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network by saying it will "continue to neither confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence" of information obtained via surveillance of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender organizations."



My new blog idea!

In an effort to streamline this blog I have decided to blow up the Self Help Center and concentrate on a few of my favorite interests. Things like ChoicePoint and Diablod election fraud, NSA spying, Big business and gorvernmental tracking. Somehow I will even add supercomputers and robots (both bent on world domination) to all this.

I will take a critical eye towards fraud in science (mostly forensics) and the latest law enforcement activities that invade your privacy.

Give me some time to get the site in order, I will leave untouched the archives and wil continue my interests in crosseyed girls, steve nash's wife etc on Bathos!

Some Lazy Links.

Dave Barry asks the always pertinent question "What is work? Why do we work? Is it a moral duty, or do we do it only because we have to? Is it O.K. to not work if we can get away with it? Do we resent those who are able to slack? Or do we envy them?"

Larry Sears reviews the book Doing Nothing : A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in America. He calls the book "a fascinating - although at times also frustrating - analysis of both workers and slackers throughout the past 250 years of Anglo-American history. It begins as a small family story and then expands into a complex examination of the duality of work and leisure, including commentary from a variety of writers and intellectuals."

Friday, June 02, 2006

You don't have to pledge if you don't want to.

This is crazy, it seems Florida, land of the redneck has some common sense after all...

A federal judge ruled Thursday that it is unconstitutional to require a student to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Judge Kenneth Ryskamp also ruled that a student does not have to get a parent's permission to be excused from reciting the pledge.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the state Board of Education and state Education Commissioner John Winn on behalf of a Boynton Beach High School student who said he was disciplined for not standing during the pledge last year.

Cameron Frazier, then a 17-year-old junior, was told by teacher Cynthia Alexandre that he was "so ungrateful and so un-American" after he twice refused to stand for the pledge in her classroom Nov. 8, the lawsuit said.
Requiring Frazier to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance is "in violation of his First and Fourth Amendment rights," the lawsuit said.

The Palm Beach County School Board voted in February that students do not have to recite the pledge or stand for it, but the lawsuit was challenging a state law that says the pledge needs to be recited at the beginning of the day at all elementary, middle and high schools.

For those of you who did not know has a Florida Tag with all the craziness that is Florida. It's not just the elections y'all!