US Stasi gets original Stasi’s stamp of approval
Jun 28th, 2013 by Ken Hagler

NSA’s Sur­veil­lance Oper­a­tions the Envy of For­mer Stasi Com­man­der. In East Ger­many, the Min­istry
for State Secu­ri­ty (known as the Stasi) became one of the most
aggres­sive domes­tic sur­veil­lance agen­cies in world his­to­ry, act­ing
as “the shield and the sword” of the rul­ing Com­mu­nist régime.
Despite (or because of) its his­to­ry, many for­mer mem­bers and
infor­mants would pre­fer to 
defend the orga­ni­za­tion and their roles in it
to com­ing to
terms with its hor­rif­ic nature. On the twen­ti­eth anniver­sary of the
fall of the Berlin Wall (in 2009), East Germany’s last leader told
for­mer East Ger­man bor­der guards he regret­ted fail­ing to save the
coun­try.  But now, some for­mer mem­bers of the Stasi can look
to Amer­i­ca for inspi­ra­tion that the spir­it of their work is mov­ing
for­ward. From a 
McClatchy news­pa­pers inter­view
with Wolf­gang Schmidt, a for­mer
Stas­si depart­ment head:

Peer­ing out over the city [Berlin] that lived in fear
when the com­mu­nist par­ty ruled it, he pon­dered the mag­ni­tude of
domes­tic spy­ing in the Unit­ed States under the Oba­ma
admin­is­tra­tion. A smile spread across his face.

You know, for us, this would have been a dream come true,” he
said, recall­ing the days when he was a lieu­tenant colonel in the
defunct com­mu­nist country’s secret police, the Stasi.

In those days, his depart­ment was lim­it­ed to tap­ping 40 phones at a
time, he recalled. Decide to spy on a new vic­tim and an old one had
to be dropped, because of a lack of equip­ment. He finds
breath­tak­ing the idea that the U.S. gov­ern­ment receives dai­ly
reports on the cell­phone usage of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans and can
mon­i­tor the Inter­net traf­fic of mil­lions more.

So much infor­ma­tion, on so many peo­ple,” he said.

But even Schmidt sees the design flaw in the NSA’s plan:

 “It is the height of naïveté to think that once
col­lect­ed this infor­ma­tion won’t be used,” he said. “This is the
nature of secret gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tions. The only way to pro­tect
the people’s pri­va­cy is not to allow the gov­ern­ment to col­lect
their infor­ma­tion in the first place.”

James Clap­per might respond that 
the NSA isn’t “col­lect­ing”
that infor­ma­tion because the
direc­tor of nation­al intel­li­gence doesn’t con­sid­er the gath­ered
data “col­lect­ed” until it’s offi­cial­ly used, a seman­tic maneu­ver
any neo-Orwellian would con­sid­er dou­ble­plus­good.

This is how a soci­ety destroys itself,” one Ger­man activist who
was tar­get­ed by the Stasi told McClatchy, refer­ring to the NSA’s
sur­veil­lance oper­a­tions as “bull­shit.” [Rea­son]

Open Source vs. tyranny
Jun 25th, 2013 by Ken Hagler

The IRS vs. Open Source. simon­stl writes “The IRS wasn’t after just the Tea Par­ty, Pro­gres­sives, or Med­ical Mar­i­jua­na: Open Source Soft­ware was a reg­u­lar on IRS watch lists from 2010 to 2012. Did they think it was a for-profit scam, or did they just not under­stand the approach? [Slash­dot]

I’m guess­ing it’s option c: there’s no way to hide back­doors for the NSA in open-source soft­ware.

Quote of the Day
Jun 23rd, 2013 by Ken Hagler

Good thing the USA won the Cold War, oth­er­wise we might be liv­ing in a world of mass sur­veil­lance and per­se­cu­tion of dis­si­dents.

Teju Cole

Another bad “historical” movie
Jun 22nd, 2013 by Ken Hagler

I just saw a barely-coherent movie trail­er for 300: Rise of an Empire, which is obvi­ous­ly meant to cap­i­tal­ize on the absurd­ly bad yet finan­cial­ly suc­cess­ful 300, which was very, very loose­ly based on the Bat­tle of Ther­mopy­lae. It looks like this movie is meant to be based (again, prob­a­bly very loose­ly) on the Bat­tle of Salamis. It appears that one of the main char­ac­ters in this movie will be Artemisia (or more like­ly a total­ly fic­tion­al char­ac­ter with her name), which is inter­est­ing because she remains, so far as I know, the only female com­bat admi­ral ever.

A good cop
Jun 8th, 2013 by Ken Hagler

Flori­da Sher­iff Arrest­ed for Pro­tect­ing Citizen’s Right to Bear Arms.

Sub­mit­ted by William Kee­ley

In Feb­ru­ary of 2013, all 67 coun­ty sher­iffs in Flori­da signed a pledge declar­ing that they would uphold the 2nd Amend­ment and pro­tect peo­ples’ right to bear arms. Sher­iff Nicholas Finch of Lib­er­ty Coun­ty was such a sig­na­to­ry to the pledge.

Recent­ly, Sher­iff Finch, 50, was tak­en into cus­tody by the Flori­da Depart­ment of Law Enforce­ment and booked into the Lib­er­ty Coun­ty Jail on Tues­day evening for “offi­cial mis­con­duct.”

Reports state that in March, a Lib­er­ty Coun­ty Sheriff’s deputy arrest­ed a man for hav­ing a con­cealed firearm dur­ing a stop. The sher­iff said, “I believe in the sec­ond amend­ment and we’re not going to charge him.” He released the man and is accused of destroy­ing paper­work relat­ed to the arrest.

For doing his job and pro­tect­ing a citizen’s rights, the Flori­da Depart­ment of Law Enforce­ment arrest­ed Sher­iff Finch. Flori­da Repub­li­can gov­er­nor Rick Scott replaced the sher­iff with Carl Causey.

If you are so inclined, please call Gov­er­nor Rick Scott at (850) 488‑7146 and Pam Bon­di, Attor­ney Gen­er­al, at 850−414−3990 and tell them to drop all charges against Sher­iff Finch, and re-instate him to his elect­ed office.

If that doesn’t work, then we need to work to remove both Rick Scott and Pam Bon­di from office next year’s elec­tion. When police and sher­iff per­son­nel do the right thing, we need to pro­tect them.

When sys­tem pur­pose­ly breeds bad apples, and roots out the good ones, it’s no sur­prise that the polic­ing sys­tem has degrad­ed into what it is.

Flori­da Sher­iff Arrest­ed for Pro­tect­ing Citizen’s Right to Bear Arms is a post from Cop Block — Badges Don’t Grant Extra Rights


It’s pret­ty rare, but every so often I do encounter a sto­ry about a good cop. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, those sto­ries inevitably have the cop being arrest­ed, fired, or both.

Bad judgement
Jun 8th, 2013 by Ken Hagler


This squir­rel decid­ed to hide in a tree when it saw me walk­ing near­by. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it has very poor tree selec­tion skills.

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