What Charlie said. Why do we have to hear about it every single time they set up some poor schmuck as if they did something heroic? It’s called entrapment, not heroism.
Just a month ago we raised more than a proverbial eyebrow when we noted the creation of the NSA’s Utah Data Center (codename Stellar Wind) and William Binney’s formidable statement that “we are this far from a turnkey totalitarian state”.
Democracy Now has the former National Security Agency technical director whistleblower’s first TV interview in which he discusses the NSA’s massive power to spy on Americans and why the FBI raided his home. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, he has warned that the NSA’s data-mining program has become so vast that it could “create an Orwellian state.”
Today marks the first time Binney has spoken on national TV about NSA surveillance. Starting with his pre-9-11 identification of the world-wide-web as a voluminous problem since the NSA was ‘falling behind the rate-of-change’, his success in creating a system (codenamed Thin-Thread) for ‘grabbing’ all the data and the critical ‘lawful’ anonymization of that data (according to mandate at the time) which as soon as 9-11 occurred went out of the window as all domestic and foreign communications was now stored (starting with AT&T’s forking over their data). This direct violation of the constitutional rights of everybody in the country was why Binney decided he could not stay (leaving one month after 9-11) along with the violation of almost every privacy and intelligence act as near-bottomless databases store all forms of communication collected by the agency, including private emails, cell phone calls, Google searches and other personal data.
There was a time when Americans still cared about matters such as personal privacy. Luckily, they now have iGadgets to keep them distracted as they hand over their last pieces of individuality to the Tzar of conformity.
Buzz Bissinger, author of “Friday Night Lights”:
In more than 20 years I’ve spent studying the issue, I have yet to hear a convincing argument that college football has anything do with what is presumably the primary purpose of higher education: academics.
That’s because college football has no academic purpose. Which is why it needs to be banned. A radical solution, yes. But necessary in today’s times.
Football only provides the thickest layer of distraction in an atmosphere in which colleges and universities these days are all about distraction, nursing an obsession with the social well-being of students as opposed to the obsession that they are there for the vital and single purpose of learning as much as they can to compete in the brutal realities of the global economy.
Who truly benefits from college football? Alumni who absurdly judge the quality of their alma mater based on the quality of the football team. Coaches such as Nick Saban of the University of Alabama and Bob Stoops of Oklahoma University who make obscene millions. The players themselves don’t benefit, exploited by a system in which they don’t receive a dime of compensation. The average student doesn’t benefit, particularly when football programs remain sacrosanct while tuition costs show no signs of abating as many governors are slashing budgets to the bone.
If the vast majority of major college football programs made money, the argument to ban football might be a more precarious one. But too many of them don’t—to the detriment of academic budgets at all too many schools. According to the NCAA, 43% of the 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision lost money on their programs. This is the tier of schools that includes such examples as that great titan of football excellence, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers, who went 3-and-9 last season. The athletic department in 2008-2009 took in over $13 million in university funds and student fees, largely because the football program cost so much, The Wall Street Journal reported. New Mexico State University’s athletic department needed a 70% subsidy in 2009-2010, largely because Aggie football hasn’t gotten to a bowl game in 51 years. Outside of Las Cruces, where New Mexico State is located, how many people even know that the school has a football program? None, except maybe for some savvy contestants on “Jeopardy.” What purpose does it serve on a university campus? None.
When I went to vote last week, the person working behind the table asked if I was voting Republican. I said no, I wouldn’t ever vote for the party that was trying to keep people from voting. While I was in the booth, I heard some of the workers discussing what I said. One of them said, “You have to have something with these people, they all look alike. They could vote six, seven times and you wouldn’t be able to tell.” (I wish she’d said it to my face, so I could have confronted her. Not that it would have done any good…)
But yes, the right white has done a very good job of making voter ID seem “reasonable” to people who now believe the danger to voter integrity comes from brown people voting multiple times, and not from election officials who suddenly find additional votes out of thin air, or angry mobs that storm an election office and demand they stop counting ballots.
Hopefully, the case of Viviette Applewhite will get through to at least some of those idiots:
The first time Viviette Applewhite went to the polls, she cast her vote for John F. Kennedy. But this year, a strict new voter identification law will likely prevent the now-93-year old woman and many others in Pennsylvania from participating in their country’s democratic process. And Applewhite won’t stand for it.
She will be the plaintiff in the voter identification lawsuit being filed by the ACLU and the NAACP in the state, which claims that “the state’s voter photo ID law violates the Pennsylvania Constitution by depriving citizens of their most fundamental constitutional right – the right to vote.”
Applewhite no longer has a copy of her birth certificate, and she does not have a drivers’ license. Without either of these things, the new Pennsylvania restrictions say that she is ineligible to vote.
But her circumstances are not at all uncommon. African Americans, especially elderly African Americans, are disproportionately less likely to have a birth certificate.
Isn’t that the point?
According to the Brennan Center for Justice:
Twenty-five percent of African-American voting-age citizens have no current government-issued photo ID, compared to eight percent of white voting-age citizens.
Harsh voter ID laws, which former President Bill Clinton characterized as the most serious threat of disenfranchisement since Jim Crow laws, have been passed in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.
And 24 other states are trying to pass them now.
I had no idea it took that much water to frack a single well:
WILKES-BARRE — Pennsylvania has a vast supply of contaminated water flowing daily from its abandoned mine works; 300 million gallons a day by the state’s estimate.
The natural gas industry needs vast quantities of water to unlock gas from the Marcellus Shale; between 2 million and 10 million gallons to stimulate a well a single time.
Using the state’s latest natural resource boom to clean up the legacy of the last one seems like a natural pairing, and it’s one state and environmental regulators as well as the natural gas drilling industry are taking seriously.
At the suggestion of the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission last year, the state Department of Environmental Protection is in the process of establishing an approval process for the use of acid mine drainage in hydraulic fracturing.
It is tailoring that process to address concerns that could discourage the industry from using mine water.
The Susquehanna River Basin Commission, which permits drillers to withdraw water from within the Susquehanna’s watershed, began encouraging drillers to use acid mine drainage when fracturing by reducing or eliminating permit fees for “lesser-quality waters,” including water contaminated by mining and public wastewater.
It has since gone a step further in requiring companies that apply to withdraw fresh water from sources close to mine water to explain as part of their applications why they are unwilling to use the mine water instead.
“They’re going to have to justify to us why they’re not using that impaired water,” commission spokeswoman Susan Obleski said.
Acid mine drainage refers to the outpouring of water that has run its course through mine workings, where it has picked up minerals — often sulfides — and has often acquired an acidic pH.
Its use in hydraulic fracturing could have two environmental advantages: It could reduce the amount of higher-quality water withdrawn from rivers and streams for use in drilling and the treating the water for use in drilling could reduce the amount of mine water flowing elsewhere.
Following a theme we recently heard from NJ Gov. Chris Christie, Maine’s Tea Party Gov. Paul LePage tells the unemployed to “get off the couch.” Of course, there are plenty of jobs out there – if you can work for minimum wage and only get 20 hours a week!
WASHINGTON — At the Maine GOP convention on Sunday, Gov. Paul LePage (R) received an enthusiastic standing ovation from his fellow Republicans for saying that all able-bodied out-of-work Americans need to “get off the couch” and go find employment.
LePage called on the state legislature to pass structural changes to welfare, saying, “Maine’s welfare program is cannibalizing the rest of state government. To all you able-bodied people out there: href=”http://bangordailynews.com/2012/05/06/politics/get-off-the-couch-and-get-yourself-a-job-lepage-talks-welfare-reform-at-gop-convention/?ref=videos” target=”_hplink”>Get off the couch and get yourself a job.””I understand welfare because I lived it,” he added. “I understand the difference between a want and a need. The Republican Party promised to bring welfare change. We must deliver on this promise.”
LePage has been pushing so-called welfare reform for months, although Democrats have argued that his definition of the term is too broad, encompassing “everything from disability to MaineCare (Medicaid), which isn’t welfare.”
Mike Tipping, communications director for the Maine People’s Alliance, said LePage’s comments were “downright offensive to Maine people searching for work in a difficult economy, especially considering his embarrassing record of failing to invest in programs that create jobs and cutting assistance for the unemployed while at the same time giving massive new tax breaks to the wealthy.”
Christine Hastedt, public policy director at Maine Equal Justice Partners, called them “a gross insult to working people who get up every day and become discouraged by the end of the day, because there’s not a job for them.”
“We talk to people every day,” said Hastedt. “There are not enough jobs for the people who want them. There aren’t enough hours in the jobs for people who need them. These are jobs that don’t provide health care, and certainly don’t provide child care. Those are services that people need to get even the jobs that they could get. Nevertheless, he’s cutting those safety net benefits that make it possible for people to work.”