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Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 03:01 PM PDT

Why we should worry about metadata

by Hudson

As a progressive from the Northeast, it’s not often that I read opinion pieces by Republicans from the Dakotas. But while reading comments on a news site about the whole Nadler/CNET/NSA fracas, an op-ed by a former Republican Senate candidate came onto my radar. And the piece speaks to a topic of increasing relevance in the debate over government surveillance.

In an “I told you so” update for the Rapid City Journal, GOPer Sam Kephart neatly sums up why the massive collection and correlation of metadata about individuals can be as intrusive as—or moreso than—listening into the content of phone calls. Gephart writes:

Our phone calls, GPS locations, emails, audios, videos, photographs, Google searches, Facebook postings, and domestic drone surveillance data are all being recorded for key words and patterns and then electronically “fused” (merged and collated) with a master data file that includes our banking records, credit card charges, travel records, store purchases, etc.
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Lost in the endless ranting by Glenn Beck and lesser Tea Party fanatics about “tyranny” and “protecting the Constitution” is this bit of history: Wingnut hero Oliver North was credibly alleged to be behind a 1982 plan to suspend their beloved Constitution.
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Mon May 09, 2011 at 08:35 AM PDT

The Banality of Evildoers

by Hudson

With apologies to Hannah Arendt; crossposted at SamPratt.com... This diary starts out tongue-in-cheek, but moves to a broader and more philosophical point.



Though it was initially called a mansion, Osama Bin Laden's safe house decor might better be described as Meth Lab Chic. (Not that I'm too familiar with meth lab interiors.) Rather than a set from 24, it's more the kind of place that only Vibe magazine would choose for a shoot -- no pun intended.

In recently-released videos and stills, is particleboard furniture looks like it was salvaged from a rural roadside free pile; a power strip is bolted arbitrarily to the wall; wires are strung higgledy-piggeldy, as if by an adolescent hobbyist; and this former heir to a multimillion Saudi fortune was relegated to watching standard def video on a TV you couldn't get $5 for on Craigslist. It's surely only a matter of time before we hear they found porn on his computer.

All joking aside: Our mythologies about the super-powerful, insanely-devious OBL stem from the very real trauma of the 9/11 attacks. It just wouldn't do for the culprits to be mere mortal miscreants; we had to build them up into a hydra-headed syndicate. But from the first moment I heard that Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist group called Al-Qaida had been fingered, my gut instinct was that the devastation of those attacks was a stroke of grotesque luck on their part, not proof of ingenious planning, or of massive financial resources. These attacks were simply asymmetrical, and run on a shoestring. For OBL and his very small group, it was like going into a poker hand with a weak pair and winding up with a full house: it'll only happen maybe once in 100 tries.

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In which I listen to the reactions of Beck, Hannity, Savage, et al. regarding the demise of Osama Bin Laden -- so you don't have to...

1) All the credit should go to Bush.

2) All the credit should go to Cheney.

3) All the credit should go to Giuliani.

4) All the credit should go to Rumsfeld.

#5-#10 after the jump...

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Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 09:02 AM PST

Why the media isn't defending Wikileaks

by Hudson

Newsweek's Ben Adler has filed an important yet flawed analysis of the relationship between the U.S. media, Wikileaks, and the 1st Amendment right to freedom of the press.

Adler's report is welcome in that very few prominent publications have confronted this key topic—the lack of fervor for the 1st Amendment among the mainstream, traditional press... At least, when it comes to freedom of the press for perceived interlopers like Julian Assange and his team).

But the three reasons which Adler offers to explain this phenomenon fail to pierce the heart of the matter, which I'll try to address after the jump.

Poll

Do you agree with Newsweek's analysis?

5%4 votes
48%33 votes
36%25 votes
8%6 votes
0%0 votes

| 68 votes | Vote | Results

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Earlier this week, Amazon pulled the plug on the files it was paid to host for Wikileaks. Explaining the rationale for their move, Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener told The Wall Street Journal...

that Amazon's terms of service also require that content "will not cause injury to any person or entity." Yet he said "it is not credible that the extraordinary volume of 250,000 classified documents that WikiLeaks is publishing could have been carefully redacted in such a way as to ensure that they weren't putting innocent people in jeopardy."

Putting people in jeopardy? Content not causing injury? Well, take a gander at some of the books that Amazon happily sells after the jump.

Poll

What do you think of Amazon's actions

83%94 votes
5%6 votes
3%4 votes
7%9 votes

| 113 votes | Vote | Results

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Wed Aug 18, 2010 at 09:50 AM PDT

Analyzing Dr. Laura's mass "appeal"

by Hudson

Back when I had a vintage car (1966 Mercury Park Lane, with the breezeway) which only had an old A.M. radio with bad reception, I'd sometimes get stuck listening to Dr. Laura.

And as far as I could tell, the sole "appeal" of the show was for listeners seeking some vicarious thrill from hearing Schlesinger scold her hapless callers. It was all about observing a surrogate Mean Mommy dress down people (almost all women) whom she clearly thought were losers needing to get a life.

More after the jump...

Poll

Did you ever tune in to Dr. Laura?

19%19 votes
22%22 votes
8%8 votes
50%50 votes

| 99 votes | Vote | Results

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ABOVE
: Fred Thompson and two friends, protecting their most valued assets

Ever notice how so-called "Law and Order" Republicans often have such trouble accepting the nature of authority as it has been long-established in our country?

In other words: Why do authoritarians have so much trouble with authority?

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Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 06:26 AM PST

FOX falls for "mini-ice age" hoax

by Hudson

FOX News and other right-wing media outfits have been ecstatic the past couple of days over an article printed in the (U.K.) Daily Mail by David Rose, purporting to debunk global warming.

The Daily Mail article misleadingly cites the work of a top U.N. researcher, Professor Mojib Latif. Rose breathlessly reports that Professor Latif, "a leading member of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has been pushing the issue of man-made global warming on to the international political agenda," has discovered that the globe is not warming, but rather is actually entering what Rose catchily-brands as a "mini ice age."

Small problem: Prof. Latif says his research does not support Rose's characterizations whatsoever. Details after the jump...

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NOTE: This diary probably won't get much attention, because it deals with a controversy that is several years old. But it addresses an important historical scandal, and also the right wing's ongoing bad habit of recycling old propaganda ideas. So I hope you'll take a close look.

Remember the forged evidence of "yellowcake from Niger" (a/k/a "uranium from Africa") touted by Bush to gin up public fear that Iraq was pursuing nuclear weapons? Remember Wilson blowing the whistle on Cheney's minions for this fabrication? (Who could forget.) Well, I happened to stumble across something in an old Bob Woodward book from the '80s which may add an illuminating angle on the whole sorry saga, one which Vanity Fair characterized as "black propaganda." Details of my recent find after the jump...

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... my radar goes off and my guard goes up.

As someone who has led several successful against-the-odds grassroots campaigns, I've often heard the admonishments that "Now, we have to be pragmatic..." This is usually followed by another warning that "we can't be too idealistic." The perfect is the enemy of the good, etc. etc.

And then we ignored the hand-wringers, who warned us about what we couldn't "realistically" achieve, and fought a hard-nosed, well-organized, and idealistic campaign.  And we won. By being both idealistic and pragmatic.

So in my experience, at least two main motivations typically lie behind the invocation of a need for people to be "pragmatic." I'll describe them in more detail after the jump...

Poll

Which one do you think Obama is?

33%25 votes
30%23 votes
14%11 votes
10%8 votes
10%8 votes

| 75 votes | Vote | Results

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Mon Dec 21, 2009 at 09:14 PM PST

Help me find the right word, Kossacks.

by Hudson

A friend from gradeschool (someone I knew as a physics and music prodigy) posted to his Facebook profile a few days ago:

I think this country has lost its way.

His lament struck a chord, and got me thinking. It set off a fruitless search for the right word describing the current state of our Republic. Maybe the bright minds of Daily Kos can help me find the right word I'm still grasping for...

Poll

Is there one word that sums up the state of our 21st Century democracy?

31%9 votes
20%6 votes
34%10 votes
3%1 votes
10%3 votes

| 29 votes | Vote | Results

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