June 2, 2012

A Few Recent Headlines

Been out of town; so, in cased you missed these (more re- each item at the headline link) . . .

1. Don't Forget to Sign Up for the "Do Not Kill" List

A number of sources (including the Wall Street Journal) report that someone has used the White House's "We the People" website to start a petition asking it to create a "Do Not Kill" list similar to the "Do Not Call" list that has been reasonably successful against telemarketers. This follows the New York Times report that every week or so, a bunch of National Security People get together to flip through some PowerPoint slides and "recommend to the President who should be the next to die." The President, who you may recall won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, then personally approves names on the "kill list" for execution targeted killing by drone.
Sign the "Do Not Kill" Petition here. (For more on the "Kill List," see here and links therein.)

2. Occupy Buffalo Helps Convince City to Divest from JPMorgan Chase
City Comptroller Mark J.F. Schroeder has agreed to transfer $45 million . . . from a JPMorgan Chase account to local bank First Niagara Financial Group after Occupy Buffalo raised concerns about leaving the money at JPMorgan, the Buffalo News reports. The move comes with a number of benefits, including a higher interest rate and more local branches that make it easier for employees to cash paychecks . . . .

“It also sends a crystal-clear message to JPMorgan Chase that the City of Buffalo is not happy with their business practices," Schroeder told Buffalo News.
3. Collateral Damage in the War on Protesters: Neighbors of the NATO3 Cuffed, Held at Gunpoint
The . . . officer came up to me and told me he had a hard time believing I wasn’t associated with the people downstairs. His quote exactly was that I had ‘hateful revolutionary things’ in my house. He asked me why I had so many red-colored things (Olli got similar accusations because he was wearing his red work uniform). They were commenting about the red color – I have red curtains and my brother’s an artist, so all his paintings are hanging up, and they found that very suspicious and were trying to say it was part of some kind of conspiracy.

* * * * *
“They acted like asking for a warrant and a lawyer was unreasonable . . . ” Ben said, “but they didn’t seem to realize that they had kidnapped us in our own home. We were handcuffed on the ground in our own living room."

4. The US Government Is Running a Massive Spy Campaign on Occupy Wall Street

The US Dept. of Homeland Security finally released some docs in response to repeated Freedom of Information Act requests by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. Although the docs are partially blacked out,
[Per the PCJF's Director, "t]hese documents show not only intense government monitoring and coordination in response to the Occupy Movement, but reveal a glimpse into the interior of a vast, tentacled, national intelligence and domestic spying network that the U.S. government operates against its own people."

* * * * *
In particular, the role of the “Fusion Centers,” a series of 72 federally-funded information hubs run by the NOC, raises questions about the government’s expansive definition of “Homeland Security.”

Created in the wake of 9/11, the Fusion Centers were founded to expedite the sharing of information among state and local law enforcement and the federal government, to monitor localized terrorist threats, and to sidestep the regulations and legislation preventing the CIA and the military from carrying out domestic surveillance (namely, the CIA ban on domestic spying and the Posse Comitatus Act).
5. Speaking of JPMorgan Chase . . . the bank's risk committee lacks any members who've actually worked at a bank or as risk managers; one of them was on AIG’s governance committee in 2008.

6. Congressmen Seek to Lift Propaganda Ban
An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill, BuzzFeed has learned.

The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the independent Broadcasting Board of Governors . . . . The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts—the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987—that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.

The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.
7. US E-Voting System Cracked in Less than 48 Hours
Researchers at the University of Michigan have reported that . . . . "Within 48 hours of the system going live, we had gained near complete control of the election server", the researchers wrote in a paper that has now been released. "We successfully changed every vote and revealed almost every secret ballot." The hack was only discovered after about two business days – and most likely only because the intruders left a visible trail on purpose.
(Yes, electronic voting and/or tabulation is still a very, very bad idea.)

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