Every move you make

I have a relative who used to work for the NSA. (He never confirmed it, but his mother did.) The last time I saw him at a family gathering, he said to me, “What are you up to in the blogging world?” I immediately retorted, “You mean you don’t already know?”

Funny joke, but this is really no laughing matter. If there’s anything the Boston marathon bombing showed us, it’s that no matter how much information they gather, they simply don’t have the ability to interpret it in real time. So why gather all this information and violate our constitutionally-protected privacy if it’s of no real use? Because they can, apparently. Via The Guardian:

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

The disclosure is likely to reignite longstanding debates in the US over the proper extent of the government’s domestic spying powers.

Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice on a massive scale under President Obama.

The unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual. Fisa court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific named target who is suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets.The Guardian approached the National Security Agency, the White House and the Department of Justice for comment in advance of publication on Wednesday. All declined. The agencies were also offered the opportunity to raise specific security concerns regarding the publication of the court order.
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Someone tried to report dangerous conditions at demo site

A Reddit reader reported that he’d made a complaint to the city’s 311 call center on Tuesday to report unsafe conditions at the demo site, but the city didn’t check into it because he didn’t know the property’s exact address. He contacted the center again after the collapse, saying they didn’t stop that tragedy but that similar conditions existed at another nearby demolition site.

The intake worker’s response? They needed the exact address.

Of course, even if this worker hadn’t been dangerously indifferent, the city probably doesn’t have enough building inspectors left that they would have sent someone, anyway.

The video below shows demolition work on the building Sunday afternoon. That’s a subway entrance in front of the building:

I don’t know what to say

This is so ironic:

A pair of life coaches who dispensed advice to listeners on a radio show out of Brooklyn has committed double-suicide, reports the Daily News. Lynne Rosen, 46, and her longtime partner, John Littig, 48, hosted the monthly show The Pursuit of Happiness on WBAI-FM. They suffocated themselves using plastic bags and helium in their Park Slope apartment and left behind notes, say police. Based on those notes, cops think Rosen, a psychotherapist, had psychological problems and Littig couldn’t stand to watch her suffer anymore.

Holy Tom

If only Holy Tom Corbett was as concerned about the people going without food or the school district that’s cutting all “frills” like school nurses and libraries. But he’s a Republican!

HARRISBURG — Women in Pennsylvania will have the right to choose insurance through the state health exchange, but it won’t extend to abortion.

The state Senate on Wednesday voted 31-19 to approve House Bill 818, which prohibits insurance policies offered through Pennsylvania’s upcoming health-care insurance exchanges from offering abortion coverage. The bill, which already passed in the House, goes to Gov.Corbett.

Christine Cronkright, a spokeswoman for Corbett, said the governor will sign the bill.

In an email, Cronkright said the bill would not “place any greater restrictions” on access-to-care for abortion. Abortions will still be allowed in cases of rape, incest or if the life of the mother is at risk.

However, the ban also extends to plans sold by private insurers issued without federal subsidy.

There’s that small-government, market-friendly GOP for ya!

Via DUI attorney Karin Porter.

Words that can trigger Big Brother…

This really made me shake my head.

Homeland Security released a list of words that, if used in Social Media, make  result in the monitoring of social media activity for terrorist tendencies or threats against the country.

The intriguing the list includes obvious choices such as ‘attack’, ‘Al Qaeda’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘dirty bomb’ alongside dozens of seemingly innocent words like ‘pork’, ‘cloud’, ‘team’ and ‘Mexico’.

Released under a freedom of information request, the information sheds new light on how government analysts are instructed to patrol the internet searching for domestic and external threats.

The list has been posted online by the Electronic Privacy Information Center – a privacy watchdog group who filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act before suing to obtain the release of the documents.

In a letter to the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counter-terrorism and Intelligence, the centre described the choice of words as ‘broad, vague and ambiguous’

These “keywords” are categorized by types of threat such as domestic security, HAZMAT, health threats, infrastructure, Southwest border violence, terrorism and weather and related disasters. Here are some words/phrases I thought were strange: recovery, leak, wave, sick, electric, the name of almost every major border town in Mexico, aid.

A senior Homeland Security official who spoke to The Huffington Post on Friday on condition of anonymity said the testimony of agency officials last week remains “accurate” and the manual “is a starting point, not the endgame” in maintaining situational awareness of natural and man-made threats. The official denied Electronic Privacy Information Center’s charge that the government is monitoring dissent.

Oh, guess that’s why I did not see the phrase “impending Civil War.”

Why I heart Daylin Leach

Here are Senator Daylin Leach’s remarks on the Vance Amendment to HB818. This is why I really, really want to see him elected to Congress:

I rise to indicate that I will be voting “no” on the Vance Amendment.

I will not be voting “no” for what I consider to be the irrational reasons some of my colleagues are voting “no.” I am voting “no” because this bill codifies in law the idea, which is already part of other laws, that taxpayer funds should not be used for abortion services.

I disagree with that premise. I believe that taxpayer dollars should be used for abortion services.

Abortion is a legal, constitutionally protected right, and it is health care that women do not just want – as we see by 40,000 abortions in Pennsylvania last year – but very often need. Need in order to protect their life. Need in order to protect their health.

When we say no taxpayer money – no Medicaid, no Medicare, no taxpayer money of any kind – will go to pay for abortion services, what we are saying is, “We are going to make abortion services unaffordable for poor women.”
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How horrible:

Several people were trapped in the rubble of a four-story building that collapsed Wednesday morning in Philadelphia, rescue officials told local media.

The structure, located centrally near 22nd and Market Street, was next-door to a building that crews were demolishing. It’s not immediately clear what caused the collapse.

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers told ABC News that between eight and 10 people are believed trapped under the structure.

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