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LOL !!! - Putin: NSA Surveillance Needed to Fight Terrorism - AP/Time

Putin: NSA Surveillance Needed to Fight Terrorism
By AP / Nataliya Vasilyeva and Vladimir Isachenkov - AP/Time
Dec. 19, 2013


(MOSCOW) — President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that the National Security Agency surveillance is necessary to fight terrorism, but added that the government needs to “limit the appetite” of the agency with a clear set of ground rules.

Putin’s comment at a major news conference was surprising support for President Barack Obama’s administration, which has faced massive criticism over the sweeping electronic espionage program.

Putin, a 16-year KGB veteran and the former chief of Russia’s main espionage agency, said that while the NSA program “isn’t a cause for joy, it’s not a cause for repentance either” because it is needed to fight terrorism.

He argued that it’s necessary to monitor large numbers of people to expose terrorist contacts.


Link: http://world.time.com/2013/12/19/putin-nsa-aurveillance-needed-to-fight-terrorism/

Scientists Cut Million-Year Natural Process To Convert Algae Into Crude Oil To About An Hour

Scientists cut million-year natural process to convert algae into crude oil to about an hour
By Travis Gettys - RawStory
Wednesday, December 18, 2013 9:11 EST


Engineers have sped up a naturally occurring process to make crude oil from algae from about a million years to just minutes.

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory pumped a slurry of wet algae into a chemical reactor, which then subjects the biological material to very hot water under high pressure to tear it apart and convert it into liquid and gas fuels.

The resulting crude oil can then be conventionally refined into aviation fuel, gasoline or diesel fuel, the researchers reported in the journal Algal Research.

The team’s experiments converted more than 50 percent of the algae’s carbon into crude oil, sometimes up to 70 percent, in about one hour and created nothing more hazardous than an odor of dirty socks, rotten eggs and wood smoke from the processed biological material.

In fact, the leftover water and nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium can be recycled to grow more algae...


More: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/18/scientists-cut-million-year-natural-process-to-convert-algae-into-crude-oil-to-about-an-hour/

Question: As The Right Goes WAY Right... And The Left Is Feelng It's Oats...

What do you think the implications will be?

How do you think the PTB will react?

Among others...

Wow... 'Judge Leon’s NSA #Slatepitch' - Slate

Judge Leon’s NSA #Slatepitch
The wacky idea that giving away your data creates a greater expectation of privacy.

By Barry Friedman and Dahlia Lithwick


Buried deep in Judge Richard Leon’s breathtaking decision invalidating the NSA’s telephone metadata program is a #slatepitch. Leon concludes, contrary to the views of virtually everyone else in our digital world, that we have a greater expectation of privacy in the data we readily hand over to third-party providers today than we had back in the 1970s. As our colleague Emily Bazelon wrote Monday, “That’s the most debatable proposition in his opinion.” Debatable it is, but—like some percentage of all good Slatepitches—it’s probably also true.

It had better be true. If Judge Leon’s groundbreaking opinion is to be upheld on appeal, it is crucial that he is right about this one proposition. The Fourth Amendment prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures,” and the Supreme Court has said that if we don’t have a legitimate expectation of privacy in what the government grabs, it is not a search at all. Period. Unfortunately for Judge Leon (and for anyone else who doesn’t want all their telephone metadata vacuumed up by the NSA), long-standing Supreme Court precedents state unequivocally that is not a search for the government to collect evidence we’ve already given over to third-party providers. That’s why Judge Leon felt compelled to make a normative argument to support his conclusion. And while he is normatively correct that our expectations of privacy should be greater than they were back in the days of rotary phone booths, his claim still sounds paradoxical.

The most relevant case here is the Supreme Court’s 1979 decision in Smith v. Maryland. In Smith a guy snatched a woman’s purse, and she started to get weird phone calls. So the police had the phone company install a pen register to trace her incoming calls, without obtaining a warrant, which ultimately incriminated the defendant. The Supreme Court decided that Smith had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the numbers he dialed from his home phone. (If that strikes you as odd, sit tight; we’ll get back to it in a moment.) No reasonable expectation of privacy means there was no search, which means there was no constitutional protection. The Smith decision looked to be one heck of an obstacle for Judge Leon to get around, and so he worked overtime—and not particularly successfully in the eyes of some—to distinguish the NSA’s ginormous warrantless wiretapping scheme from collecting the numbers called from just one person’s phone in Smith. That’s also why he went normative.

Judge Leon sets up the question before him as follows: “When do present-day circumstances—the evolutions in the Government' s surveillance capabilities, citizens' phone habits, and the relationship between the NSA and telecom companies—become so thoroughly unlike those considered by the Supreme Court thirty-four years ago that a precedent like Smith simply does not apply?”

You guessed it—his answer to that question turns out to be “now.” Leon’s opinion is a cornucopia of facts about all the new ways we use phones, suggesting that we think—or would like to think—our information is absolutely private, way more so than back in the day (1979).

The money line in Judge Leon’s opinion is this one: “Whereas some may assume that these cultural changes will force people to ‘reconcile themselves’ to an ‘inevitable’ ‘diminution of privacy that new technology entails,’ ”—he is quoting Justice Samuel Alito here—“I think it is more likely that these trends have resulted in a greater expectation of privacy and a recognition that society views that expectation as reasonable.” That’s the Slatepitch: the counterintuitive insistence that, as a society in 2013, the more we give information away to anyone and everyone, the more privacy we expect in our data...


Much More: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2013/12/nsa_data_collection_ruling_judge_richard_leon_is_right_that_we_expect_more.single.html

Chairman Patrick Leahy said following the report's release. "NSA, you've gone too far."

"The message is very clear," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said following the report's release. "NSA, you've gone too far."

Leahy mentioned the section in law allowing telephone data collection "was not essential to preventing attacks," according to the report.

That directly contradicts national security officials, who have said the authority had helped thwart terror plots both in the United States and abroad.

"Just because we can collect massive amounts of data doesn't mean we should do so," Leahy said.

From: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/18/politics/nsa-report/

Memories: Back When The Media And The Public BOTH Demanded The Truth.


Good evening. The country tonight is in the midst of what may be the most serious constitutional crisis in its history. The president has fired the man you just saw, the Special Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox, and he has sent FBI agents to the office of the special prosecution staff and to the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General and the president has ordered the FBI to seal off those offices. Because of the president’s actions, the Attorney General has resigned. Elliot Richardson, who was appointed Attorney General only last May in the midst of the Watergate scandals, has quit, saying, he “cannot carry out Mr. Nixon’s instructions.” Richardson’s Deputy, William Ruckleshaus has been fired. Ruckleshaus refused, in a moment of constitutional drama, to obey a presidential order to fire the Special Watergate Prosecutor. The President has abolished Special Watergate Prosecutor Cox’s office and duties, and turned the prosecution of Watergate crimes over to the Justice Department. And the Justice Department is now headed, at the President’s direction, by the Solicitor General Robert H. Bourque, who has held his office only since last June. Bourque issued a terse statement tonight, saying an explanation of his firing of the Special Watergate Prosecutor: “All I will say is that I carried out the President’s directive.”

The series of events that precipitated this crisis began at 8:15 o’clock Friday night when the president announced that he would not obey a court order to surrender the Watergate tapes. Instead, Mr. Nixon said he would make available a summary of recorded White House conversations, which he felt were relevant and, which he personally would edit. He would have the president’s say--the president said he would have the summary authenticated by Senator John Stennis, who would be allowed to hear the full tapes. At the same time, the president ordered Special Prosecutor Cox to stop his efforts to acquire those tapes. The president acted less than four hours before he would have been forced to make one of two choices, either to bow to a circuit court of appeals’ order to surrender the tapes, or to federal--to federal Judge John Sirica, or to appeal that order to the Supreme Court.

Mr. Nixon acted after meeting with the Watergate Committee Chairman Sam Ervin and the Vice Chairman Senator Baker. Both went along with the president’s proposal. That was an important consideration. There was one other. Had the president defied the Supreme Court outright, he knew he faced a movement toward impeachment by some members of the House of Representatives.

So, here is where we stand. The president has offered a compromise designed to circumvent a court order, which would have required him to turn over the secret tapes to a federal judge. He has lost his Attorney General in a dramatic resignation. Mr. Nixon then tried to get the Deputy Attorney General to fire the Special Watergate Prosecutor and when the Deputy Attorney General wouldn’t do it, he was fired. Then Mr. Nixon got the Solicitor General to do the job and named him the acting head of the Justice Department. And half an hour after the Special Watergate Prosecutor had been fired, agents of the FBI, acting at the direction of the White House, sealed off the offices of the Special Prosecutor, the offices of the Attorney General, and the offices of the Deputy Attorney General. That’s a stunning development and nothing even remotely like it has happened in all of our history.

All of this adds up to a totally unprecedented situation, a grave and profound crisis in which the president has set himself against his own Attorney General and the Department of Justice.
Nothing like this has ever happened before, and what it means is that the worst dreams of everyone who has worried about the president’s secret tapes have now become true, become reality.

Link: http://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/flatview?cuecard=5365

Whoa... Don’t Miss the Footnotes: Judge Leon’s Opinion in Klayman (Section 215 Collection) - Lawfare

Don’t Miss the Footnotes: Judge Leon’s Opinion in Klayman (Section 215 Collection)
By Raffaela Wakeman - Lawfare
Tuesday, December 17, 2013 at 1:22 AM


The meat of Judge Leon’s opinion focuses on the first requirement. But first—standing.

Judge Leon begins by contrasting the plaintiffs here with those in Clapper v. Amnesty International, who were not able to trace the surveillance program to themselves and thus could not establish standing. Since the plaintiffs here are Verizon subscribers, and the infamous order pertains to Verizon, there is a high likelihood of injury in fact. Judge Leon rejects quickly one of the government’s lesser arguments against standing: that the plaintiffs were Verizon Wireless subscribers, while the FISC order was directed at Verizon Business Network Services. “Put simply, the Government wants it both ways.” Judge Leon reminds readers that the government is quite proud of its comprehensive metadata program (“comprehensive” meaning collecting everything, including, presumably, Verizon Wireless subscriber data). He usefully inserts a pop culture reference in a footnote in this section: “To draw an analogy, . . . omitting Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint from the collection would be like omitting John, Paul, and George from a historical analysis of the Beatles. A Ringo-only database doesn’t make any sense. . .”

The district court judge finds the basis for standing not in the plaintiffs’ arguments on the matter, but instead in examination of the government’s arguments against standing. The very comprehensiveness of the data, he concludes (citing the 2006 D.C. Circuit case of Johnson v. Quandar), “implicates the Fourth Amendment each time a government official monitors it.”

Next up is likelihood of success on the merits: Judge Leon reviews the metadata program through the prism of a subjective expectation of privacy (think Katz), rather than a physical intrusion (United States v. Jones). Paul summarized Judge Leon’s opinion of Smith v. Maryland’s third party doctrine here quite succinctly: it’s old. Instead, Judge Leon views Justice Sotomayor’s concurring opinion in Jones as more on point. He points out several differences between the program in Smith—a pen register—and the telephony metadata program: Smith’s program lasted for a mere thirteen days, and the government likely tossed the records after the criminal case was over, while the NSA program has five years worth of data, and “there is the very real prospect that the program will go on for as long as America is combatting terrorism, which realistically could be forever!”

Another difference between Smith and the program here: the relationship between law enforcement and the provider. Smith: a one-time, targeted request, versus a “daily, all-encompassing, indiscriminate dump of phone metadata.” Indeed, to the district court judge, the NSA-tech company bromance is more akin to a “joint intelligence-gathering operation.” The technology deployed in the 1979 Supreme Court case versus that utilized by NSA today is also worlds apart, with the latter tagged as “Orwellian,” and “the stuff of science fiction.” The price point also is an issue for the judge, since financial resources traditionally operate as a constraint on the breadth of law enforcement efforts. Lastly, Judge Leon points to the sheer quantity of phone metadata at NSA’s fingertips, and walks through a host of statistics speaking to that: the number of 2013 mobile subscribers total approximately 3,000 times the number of subscribers in 1984, for example. In agreeing with the plaintiffs on the likelihood of success on their Fourth Amendment claims, Judge Leon admits the uselessness of Smith to him: ”I cannot possibly navigate these uncharted Fourth Amendment waters using as my North Star a cast that predates the rise of cell phones.”

Shifting to the reasonableness of the NSA queries...

And this warning at the end...

Concluding with a warning, Judge Leon says: “I fully expect that during the appellate process, . . . the Government will take whatever steps necessary to prepare itself to comply with this order when, and if, it is upheld.” Should the government not heed this, the district court judge says that he won’t receive that news well, and might impose collateral sanctions as a result.

Much More: http://www.lawfareblog.com/2013/12/dont-miss-the-footnotes-judge-leons-opinion-in-klayman-section-215-collection/

Who Broke The Law, Snowden Or The NSA? - By J. Kirk Wiebe - CNN

Who broke the law, Snowden or the NSA?
By J. Kirk Wiebe - CNN
updated 12:21 PM EST, Wed December 18, 2013

Editor's note: J. Kirk Wiebe is retired from the National Security Agency, where he worked for more than 32 years. He received the NSA's second highest award, the Meritorious Civilian Service Award; the Director of CIA's Meritorious Unit Award; and a Letter of Commendation from the secretary of the Air Force, among other awards. He was an NSA whistleblower on matters of privacy involving massive electronic surveillance.


(CNN) -- Edward Snowden deserves amnesty and the ability to return to the United States without fear of being incarcerated for reporting crimes by people in high places in the U.S. government. Monday's ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon that the NSA's widespread collection of millions of Americans' telephone records was unconstitutional bolsters this view.

But for some, whether to give Snowden amnesty is not an easy matter to reconcile. After all, they say, he broke laws in divulging classified information.

Indeed, some say he is a traitor. But just as a member of the U.S. military is not required to follow an unlawful order, it is proper that an employee of the United States intelligence community -- NSA, CIA, DIA and others -- should report any information that concerns law-breaking by the intelligence agencies or their employees.

An NSA official's suggestion that amnesty for Snowden could possibly be put on the table was undoubtedly welcome news for Snowden, yet NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander rejected the suggestion.

But how can anyone believe that Snowden would not be deserving of amnesty? Clearly it is the government and its senior officials who committed the crime -- people who took oaths to defend the Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic and who failed to take to heart the words they swore to uphold. Indeed, Snowden did not -- nor does any government employee -- swear allegiance to the president of the United States, or even to the secretary of Defense or the director of NSA. No, he swore to uphold and defend the Constitution.

Unfortunately, while federal law protects whistleblowers who work in other government sectors from reprisals for truth-telling and have paths for reporting wrongdoing and mismanagement, those who work in intelligence are expressly denied such rights...


More: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/17/opinion/wiebe-snowden-amnesty/

QE: The Greatest Subsidy To The Rich Ever? - CNBC

QE: The greatest subsidy to the rich ever?
By: Robert Frank | CNBC Reporter and Editor - CNBC


Every Ferrari dealership in the country should have a framed picture of Ben Bernanke in their lobby. It should read: "Our #1 Salesman."

The largesse of the Federal Reserve over the past five years has amounted to one of the largest ever subsidies to the American wealthy—fueling record fortunes, record numbers of new millionaires and billionaires, and an unprecedented shopping spree for everything from Ferraris to Francis Bacon paintings. The prices of the assets owned by the wealthy, and the things they buy, have gone parabolic, bearing little relationship to the weak, broader economy.

Yes, the Fed has helped the overall economy as well, especially through gains in home prices. But on this deciding day for the Fed's quantitative easing program, it's strikingly clear that most of the gains from the program have flowed to the top 1 percent.

More millionaires have been created over the past five years than during the entire eight years of the Bush administration. According to Spectrem Group, there were 2.3 million new millionaires created between 2008 and 2012. This year, the number will likely grow by at least 200,000, which would bring the millionaire population past its previous record in 2007.

During the Bush administration...


More: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101283037

The Financial Crisis: Why Have No High-Level Executives Been Prosecuted? - Judge Rakoff

The Financial Crisis: Why Have No High-Level Executives Been Prosecuted?
Jed S. Rakoff - New York Review of Books


Five years have passed since the onset of what is sometimes called the Great Recession. While the economy has slowly improved, there are still millions of Americans leading lives of quiet desperation: without jobs, without resources, without hope.

Who was to blame? Was it simply a result of negligence, of the kind of inordinate risk-taking commonly called a “bubble,” of an imprudent but innocent failure to maintain adequate reserves for a rainy day? Or was it the result, at least in part, of fraudulent practices, of dubious mortgages portrayed as sound risks and packaged into ever more esoteric financial instruments, the fundamental weaknesses of which were intentionally obscured?

If it was the former—if the recession was due, at worst, to a lack of caution—then the criminal law has no role to play in the aftermath. For in all but a few circumstances (not here relevant), the fierce and fiery weapon called criminal prosecution is directed at intentional misconduct, and nothing less. If the Great Recession was in no part the handiwork of intentionally fraudulent practices by high-level executives, then to prosecute such executives criminally would be “scapegoating” of the most shallow and despicable kind.

But if, by contrast, the Great Recession was in material part the product of intentional fraud, the failure to prosecute those responsible must be judged one of the more egregious failures of the criminal justice system in many years. Indeed, it would stand in striking contrast to the increased success that federal prosecutors have had over the past fifty years or so in bringing to justice even the highest-level figures who orchestrated mammoth frauds. Thus, in the 1970s, in the aftermath of the “junk bond” bubble that, in many ways, was a precursor of the more recent bubble in mortgage-backed securities, the progenitors of the fraud were all successfully prosecuted, right up to Michael Milken.

Again, in the 1980s, the so-called savings-and-loan crisis, which again had some eerie parallels to more recent events, resulted in the successful criminal prosecution of more than eight hundred individuals, right up to Charles Keating. And again, the widespread accounting frauds of the 1990s, most vividly represented by Enron and WorldCom, led directly to the successful prosecution of such previously respected CEOs as Jeffrey Skilling and Bernie Ebbers.

In striking contrast with these past prosecutions, not a single high-level executive has been successfully prosecuted in connection with the recent financial crisis, and given the fact that most of the relevant criminal provisions are governed by a five-year statute of limitations, it appears likely that none will be. It may not be too soon, therefore, to ask why.


Much More: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/jan/09/financial-crisis-why-no-executive-prosecutions/

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