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 regime.
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 naivete 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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