Posts tagged big brother
Posts tagged big brother
Oh well, welcome back.
Call ahead next time and I’ll have snacks laid out for you.
By the way…how’s that Fast and Furious investigation going? Or are we ignoring that so you can do more vital, nation protecting things….like snooping on my blog.
Oh well, I hope you find it reassuring.
Oh….your boss is still a jerk.
The Obama-Pelosi stimulus package failed in its objective to create jobs. It added a trillion dollars to the national debt and didn’t even dent the record unemployment rate. But it did allow the government to snoop into personal information about your child.
The New York Post reported:
Would it bother you to know that the federal Centers for Disease Control had been shown your daughter’s health records to see how she responded to an STD/teen-pregnancy-prevention program? How about if the federal Department of Education and Department of Labor scrutinized your son’s academic performance to see if he should be “encouraged” to leave high school early to learn a trade? Would you think the government was intruding on your territory as a parent?
Under regulations the Obama Department of Education released this month, these scenarios could become reality. The department has taken a giant step toward creating a de facto national student database that will track students by their personal information from preschool through career. Although current federal law prohibits this, the department decided to ignore Congress and, in effect, rewrite the law. Student privacy and parental authority will suffer.
How did it happen? Buried within the enormous 2009 stimulus bill were provisions encouraging states to develop data systems for collecting copious information on public-school kids. To qualify for stimulus money, states had to agree to build such systems according to federally dictated standards. So all 50 states either now maintain or are capable of maintaining extensive databases on public-school students.
The administration wants this data to include much more than name, address and test scores. According to the National Data Collection Model, the government should collect information on health-care history, family income and family voting status. In its view, public schools offer a golden opportunity to mine reams of data from a captive audience.
The department’s eagerness to get control of all this information is almost palpable. But current federal law prohibits a nationwide student database and strictly limits disclosure of a student’s personal information. So the department has determined that it can overcome the legal obstacles by simply bypassing Congress and essentially rewriting the federal privacy statute.
Last April, the department proposed regulations that would allow it and other agencies to share a student’s personal information with practically any government agency or even private company, as long as the disclosure could be said to support an evaluation of an “education program,” broadly defined. That’s how the CDC might end up with your daughter’s health records or the Department of Labor with your son’s test scores.
Missouri Education Watchdog has more on this disturbing policy.
Imagine that you couldn’t drive on major highways without agreeing to put a camera in your car — one that could film either the occupants or the vehicle’s surroundings and transmit the images back to a central office for inspection.
You don’t have to read George Orwell to conjure up such an ominous surveillance state. You just have to skim through filings at the U.S. Patent Office.
It’s hard to imagine Americans would tolerate such a direct, Big-Brotherish intrusion. But they might not notice if the all-seeing cameras were tucked inside another kind of government tracking technology that millions of Americans have already invited into their cars.
Kapsch TrafficCom AG, an Austrian company that just signed a 10-year contract to provide in-car transponders such as the E-Z Pass to 22 electronic highway toll collection systems around the U.S., recently filed a patent on technology to add multi-function mini-cameras to their toll gadgets. Today, transponders are in about 22 million cars around the U.S. Adding inward and outward facing cameras to the gadgets would create surveillance capabilities far beyond anything government agencies have tried until now.
The stated reason for an inward-pointing camera is to verify the number of occupants in the car for enforcement of HOV and HOT lanes. The outward-pointing camera could be used for the same purpose, helping authorities enforce minimum occupant rules against drivers who aren’t carrying transponders.
But it’s easy to imagine other uses. The patent says the transponders would have the ability to store and transmit pictures, either at random intervals or on command from a central office. It would be tempting to use them as part of a search for a lost child, for example, and law enforcement officials might find the data treasure trove irresistible. The gadget could also be instructed to take pictures when the acceleration of a car “exceeds a threshold,” or when accidents occur, so it could be used like an airplane cockpit flight recorder.
It’s important to note that a patent filing is a far cry from the invention and manufacturing of a new product. Many patent filings are nothing more than a defensive measure taken to protect the farthest reaches of intellectual property. Officials at Kapsch declined to be interviewed for this story, but in a statement said that citizens shouldn’t read too much into the filing.
The German government is debating whether to increase surveillance of German citizens who are trying to prevent the spread of radical Islam in Germany.
The move comes in reaction to a three-week-long smear campaign by members of the German mainstream media, who have been relentless in their efforts to discredit the so-called counter-jihad movement in Germany.
Opinion polls show that growing numbers of Germans are worried about the consequences of decades of multicultural policies that have encouraged mass immigration from Muslim countries.
Germans are especially concerned about the refusal of millions of Muslim immigrants to integrate into German society, and about the emergence of a parallel legal system in Germany based on Islamic Sharia law.
In an effort to reverse this tide of public opinion, the guardians of German multiculturalism have been working overtime to regain the initiative, mostly by trying to intimidate the critics of Islam into silence.
The media campaign has been led by the Frankfurter Rundschau, a financially troubled daily newspaper based in Frankfurt am Main, the Berliner Zeitung, and the leftwing Spiegel, a newsmagazine based in Hamburg that has long served as the mouthpiece for German multiculturalism.
A particular object of wrath is a highly popular German-language Internet website called Politically Incorrect (PI), which over the years has grown into a major information resource for people concerned about the spread of Islam in Germany.
PI’s motto reads “Against the Mainstream, Pro-American, Pro-Israel, Against the Islamification of Europe” — which represents everything the German left abhors. Not surprisingly, many German media elites want PI shut down.
Over the past several weeks, several German newspapers have used a stock of more than 10,000 stolen private emails to insinuate that the people behind PI are “undemocratic” and pose a threat to the German constitutional order. They are demanding that the PI website, as well as the counter-jihad movement (referred to as “Islamophobes”) more generally, be subject to surveillance by the domestic German intelligence agency, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV).
The Environmental Protection Agency has said new greenhouse gas regulations, as proposed, may be “absurd” in application and “impossible to administer” by its self-imposed 2016 deadline. But the agency is still asking for taxpayers to shoulder the burden of up to 230,000 new bureaucrats — at a cost of $21 billion — to attempt to implement the rules.
The EPA aims to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through the Clean Air Act, even though the law doesn’t give the EPA explicit power to do so. The agency’s authority to move forward is being challenged in court by petitioners who argue that such a decision should be left for Congress to make.
The proposed regulations would set greenhouse gas emission thresholds above which businesses must file for an EPA permit and complete extra paperwork in order to continue operating. If the EPA wins its court battle and fully rolls out the greenhouse gas regulations, the number of businesses forced into this regulatory regime would grow tremendously — from approximately 14,000 now to as many as 6.1 million.
And before anyone starts cheering for how the EPA will create 230,000 new jobs remember this: They’re government employees-they do not produce goods or revenue in any way. Plus their salaries will not be paid by profits they make but by your tax dollars which means $21 billion in new tax revenue needed…or more tax hikes somewhere.
Insulting the president and other government officials is practically a national pastime in the United States. This is a testament to the freedom of our society; in some parts of the world, insulting those who govern earns you swift punishment, or at least official censorship. That isn’t the case in America — unless you live on a college campus.
Students at Sam Houston State University (SHSU) in Texas found this out the hard way yesterday when they erected a “free speech wall” — a recently popular way for students to highlight the importance of free speech in which students put up a freestanding wall covered in paper, upon which anyone can write anything they want. Students jumped on the chance to participate. To cite a few examples: “Don’t hate against Gays …,” “If you make less than $200,000 Republicans don’t care about you,” “Life’s not a bitch, Life is a beautiful woman …,” “Han Solo Shot First,” “My boyfriend is a liar!,” “Legalize Weed!!!,” and “NAZI PUNKS FUCK OFF!!!”
But just hours in, the free speech wall was vandalized by a professor — yes, a professor! — who was offended that someone had written “FUCK OBAMA” on the free speech wall. Students being students, the “F-word” was written on the wall many times about many different topics, but apparently the only expletive that offended this professor enough to take action was the one referring to President Obama.
The professor, whom students identified as Joe Kirk, demanded that the student groups sponsoring the wall — including Republicans, Democrats, libertarians and socialists — cover up only the Obama statement. They refused. He then told them that he would come back with a box cutter and cut it out of the wall himself, which he then did. You can see the before and after pictures at thefire.org.
Shocked that a professor would do this, the student organizers got in touch with the campus police. When the police arrived, they interviewed the students and the vandalizing professor. Then came the surprise: The police told the students that since Prof. Kirk was offended by some profanity on the wall, the students were engaging in “disorderly conduct,” a misdemeanor, and had to cover up all the swear words on the wall or take it down. Realizing that this would make a mockery out of the purpose of a free speech wall, the students simply disassembled the wall. Thus ended SHSU’s several hour-long experiment with free speech.
Remember how Obama recently waived new ozone regulations at the EPA because they were too costly? Well, it seems that the Obama administration is would rather make people with Asthma cough up money than let them make a surely inconsequential contribution to depleting the ozone layer:
Asthma patients who rely on over-the-counter inhalers will need to switch to prescription-only alternatives as part of the federal government’s latest attempt to protect the Earth’s atmosphere.
The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday patients who use the epinephrine inhalers to treat mild asthma will need to switch by Dec. 31 to other types that do not contain chlorofluorocarbons, an aerosol substance once found in a variety of spray products.
The action is part of an agreement signed by the U.S. and other nations to stop using substances that deplete the ozone layer, a region in the atmosphere that helps block harmful ultraviolet rays from the Sun.
But the switch to a greener inhaler will cost consumers more. Epinephrine inhalers are available via online retailers for around $20, whereas the alternatives, which contain the drug albuterol, range from $30 to $60.
The Atlantic’s Megan McArdle, an asthma sufferer, noted a while back that when consumers are forced to use environmentally friendly products they are almost always worse.
It’s been said a thousand times: Congress had to pass President Obama’s health care law in order to find out what’s in it. But, despite the repetitiveness, the level of shock from each new discovery never seems to recede.
This time, America is learning about the federal government’s plan to collect and aggregate confidential patient records for every one of us.
In a proposed rule from Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the federal government is demanding insurance companies submit detailed health care information about their patients.
(See Proposed Rule: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Standards Related to Reinsurance, Risk Corridors and Risk Adjustment, Volume 76, page 41930.Proposed rule docket ID is HHS-OS-2011-0022 http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-07-15/pdf/2011-17609.pdf)
The HHS has proposed the federal government pursue one of three paths to obtain this sensitive information: A “centralized approach” wherein insurers’ data go directly to Washington; an “intermediate state-level approach” in which insurers give the information to the 50 states; or a “distributed approach” in which health insurance companies crunch the numbers according to federal bureaucrat edict.
It’s par for the course with the federal government, but abstract terms are used to distract from the real objectives of this idea: no matter which “option” is chosen, government bureaucrats would have access to the health records of every American - including you.
A retired San Fernando Valley woman could face thousands of dollars in zoning fines for erecting a 24-foot-high cross on her property.
Los Angeles Building and Safety inspectors visited the home of Laly Dobener on Thursday after receiving complaints from neighbors and determined she had violated zoning laws by erecting an unpermitted structure, the Daily News reported.
“She has two options,” Building and Safety spokesman Dave Lara told the newspaper. “Option A is that she takes it down and Option B is that she tries to get a permit.”
“This is a public safety issue,” he added.
The 72-year-old retired baker faces an immediate fine of $336 and has 30 days to either dismantle the cross or obtain a permit. Failure to do so could result in up to some $3,000 in fines, the Daily News reported.
Dobener told the newspaper she intends to file the paperwork to comply with city codes so she can keep the symbol of her Catholic faith.
“I don’t want to take this cross down,” she said. “To me it’s an important symbol of my faith. It’s not hurting anyone.”
Her neighbors, however, say the cross has attracted numerous passers-by to the quiet cul-de-sac and is driving down property values, the Daily News reported.
Americans must decide if, in the name of homeland security, they are willing to allow TSA operatives to storm public places in their communities with no warning, pat them down, and search their bags. And they better decide quickly.
Bus travelers were shocked when jackbooted TSA officers in black SWAT-style uniforms descended unannounced upon the Tampa Greyhound bus station in April with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and federal bureaucrats in tow.
A news report by ABC Action News in Tampa showed passengers being given the signature pat downs Americans are used to watching the Transportation Security Administration screeners perform at our airports. Canine teams sniffed their bags and the buses they rode. Immigration officials hunted for large sums of cash as part of an anti-smuggling initiative.
The TSA clearly intends for these out-of-nowhere swarms by its officers at community transit centers, bus stops and public events to become a routine and accepted part of American life.
The TSA has conducted 8,000 of these security sweeps across the country in the past year alone, TSA chief John Pistole told a Senate committee June 14. They are part of its VIPR (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) program, which targets public transit related places.
All of which is enough to make you wonder if we are watching the formation of the “civilian national security force” President Obama called for on the campaign trail “that is just as powerful, just as strong and just as well funded” as the military.
In a massive flex of muscle most people didn’t know the TSA had, the agency led dozens of federal and state law enforcement agencies in a VIPR exercise that covered three states and 5,000 square miles. According to the Marietta Times, the sweep used reconnaissance aircraft and “multiple airborne assets, including Blackhawk helicopters and fixed wing aircraft as well as waterborne and surface teams.”
When did the TSA get this powerful? Last year, Pistole told USA Today he wanted to “take the TSA to the next level,” building it into a “national-security, counterterrorism organization, fully integrated into U.S. government efforts.”
The FCC appears to have coordinated its public message regarding ‘net neutrality’ with Free Press, a left wing non-profit organization seeking to reform the media, according to e-mails released Thursday.
Supporters of ‘net neutrality’, like Free Press, think equal access to the internet is a “civil right” and that service providers should be prohibited from charging certain prices for certain speeds. When providers have this kind of control, they say, customers in weaker coverage areas get stuck with weaker service. Opponents of ‘net neutrality’ say that if service is regulated in this way then content will soon be regulated as well.
In April 2010, a federal appeals court ruled that the FCC did not have any authority to regulate the internet in this way, however the government agency voted to move forward with its ‘net neutrality’ program in December, just a few months later.
On its website, the Federal Communications Commission lists among its goals: “promoting competition, innovation, and investment in broadband services and facilities,” something impossible under ‘net neutrality’ rules.
Free Press, meanwhile, openly advocates for ‘net neutrality’ on its website, and describes internet service providers this way: “They want to become the internet’s gatekeepers, deciding which sites go fast or slow and which won’t load at all-based on who pays them the most.” Furthermore, the group has released statements to the press in 2011 with titles like: “Congress Should Improve, Not Dismantle, Net Neutrality Rules,” “Boehner’s Attack on Net Neutrality Not Based in Reality” and “Free Press Action Fund: Vote to Eliminate Net Neutrality a ‘Dangerous Overreach.”
E-mails obtained by conservative nonprofit group Judicial Watch highlight the communications between the government and Free Press, which is funded in part by billionaire George Soros.
Two leading makers of lighting products are showcasing LED bulbs that are bright enough to replace energy-guzzling 100-watt light bulbs set to disappear from stores in January.
Their demonstrations at the LightFair trade show in Philadelphia this week mean that brighter LED bulbs will likely go on sale next year, but after a government ban takes effect.
The new bulbs will also be expensive — about $50 each — so the development may not prevent consumers from hoarding traditional bulbs.
The technology in traditional “incandescent” bulbs is more than a century old. Such bulbs waste most of the electricity that feeds them, turning it into heat. The 100-watt bulb, in particular, produces so much heat that it’s used in Hasbro’s Easy-Bake Oven.
To encourage energy efficiency, Congress passed a law in 2007 mandating that bulbs producing 100 watts worth of light meet certain efficiency goals, starting in 2012. Conventional light bulbs don’t meet those goals, so the law will prohibit making or importing them. The same rule will start apply to remaining bulbs 40 watts and above in 2014. Since January, California has already banned stores from restocking 100-watt incandescent bulbs.
Everywhere else but Washington, this would qualify as high irony. In the Beltway, however, it only qualifies as another pathetic attack on free speech. Bill Clinton attacked free speech on the Internet yesterday, telling CNBC that it would be “legitimate” for the government to create an agency to discredit political arguments and quash Internet rumors:
Bill Clinton doesn’t like all the misinformation and rumors floating on the Internet. And he thinks the United Nations or the U.S. government should create an agency to do something about it.
“It would be a legitimate thing to do,” Clinton said in an interview airing Friday on CNBC.
The agency, Clinton said, would “have to be totally transparent about where the money came from” and would have to be “independent” because “if it’s a government agency in a traditional sense, it would have no credibility whatever, particularly with a lot of the people who are most active on the internet.”
The proposed Smart Grid supported by the Obama Administration and the EPA will not only track your electricity use, it will allow companies and the government to track your internet use and CO2 emissions.
The P/Oed Patriot reported on the proposed plan.
The Energy Industry, and the Obama administration, claim that the Smart Grid will allow the utility company the ability to provide you, the consumer, with detailed information about the energy use of everything in your home and in turn will save you money on your energy bill by helping you adjust your energy use. Not to mention help lower carbon emissions…
…The North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB), with the cooperation of the Environmental Protection Agency, has completed Priority Action Plan 10 (PAP-10) or as it is officially titled the NAESB Energy Usage Information Model. PAP-10 details the standards for the type of information that will be collected through the Smart Grid.
Here is a list of SOME of the information that is to be collected through the Smart Grid as apart of that “Required Business Standard”:
CO2 created by your Energy Use
Electricity, Gas Use and Current Rates
Refuse (trash) and Sewerage Use
TV Licence Use<
Read the whole thing and prepare yourself to be monitored.
And in completely unrelated news: The federal government said there may come a time when they may need to take control of the smart grid. Good times.
Smile, Texas schoolchildren. You’re on calorie camera.
That’s the idea behind a $2 million project being unveiled Wednesday in the lunchroom of a San Antonio elementary school, where high-tech cameras installed in the cafeteria will begin photographing what foods children pile onto their trays — and later capture what they don’t finish eating.
Digital imaging analysis of the snapshots will then calculate how many calories each student scarfed down. Local health officials said the program, funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, is the first of its kind in a U.S. school, and will be so precise that the technology can identify a half-eaten pear left on a lunch tray.
"This is very sophisticated," said Dr. Roberto Trevino, director of the San Antonio-based Social & Health Research Center, which will oversee the program.
Parents will be required to give consent for their children to participate, and receive regular reports showing what foods their kids are filling up on at lunch. Trevino said only the trays, and not students, will be photographed.
Here’s how it works: students are assigned lunch trays with a unique bar code. After the children load up their plates down the line — mashed potatoes or green beans? french fries or fruit? — a camera above the cashier takes a picture of each tray.
When lunch is over and the kids return their plates to the kitchen, another camera takes a snapshot of what’s left on the tray. Software then analyzes the before and after photos to calculate calories consumed and, according to Trevino, a report of nutrients in the foods.
Researchers hope parents will change eating habits at home once they see what their kids are choosing in schools. The data also will be used to study what foods children are likely to choose and how much of if they’re eating.
Nothing like the government giving parents a ‘nudge’ in order to coerce them into eating what the elite think they should. It makes me so warm to know taxpayer dollars are being flushed down the crapper.