NSA Head: “no better way his agency can help protect the US from foreign threats”

11 Dec 2013

NSA: No better way to protect US than surveillance

US National Security Agency (NSA) chief says he knows of no better way his agency can help protect the US from foreign threats than with spy programs that collect billions of phone and Internet records from around the world.

Pleading with the Senate Judiciary Committee to not abolish the NSA bulk-collection programs, Gen. Keith Alexander said Wednesday that global threats are growing — specifically in Iraq and Syria — that pose what he called “an unacceptable risk” to America.

Alexander said the NSA is open to talking to technology companies for a better solution without compromising security.


I will quote tennis great John McEnroe – “You can’t be serious!”

I guess it is easier to assume every is guilty first and get everyone’s info than to do investigative work first, get approvals to search certain people’s data, and so on.


Stricter Rules of Engagement Leads to Spike in Troop Deaths in Afghanistan

11 Dec 2013

Shades of Vietnam: Spike in U.S. troop deaths tied to stricter rules of engagement

The number of U.S. battlefield fatalities exceeded the rate at which troop strength surged in 2009 and 2010, prompting national security analysts to assert that coinciding stricter rules of engagement led to more deaths.

A connection between the sharp increase in American deaths and restrictive rules of engagement is difficult to confirm. More deaths surely stemmed from ramped-up counterterrorism raids and the Taliban’s response with more homemade bombs, the No. 1 killer of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

But it is clear that the rules of engagement, which restrain troops from firing in order to spare civilian casualties, cut back on airstrikes and artillery strikes — the types of support that protect troops during raids and ambushes.

“It is no accident nor a coincidence that from January 2009 to August of 2010, coinciding with the Obama/McChrystal radical change of the [rules of engagement], casualties more than doubled,” Mr. Simmons said. “The carnage will certainly continue as the already fragile and ineffective [rules] have been further weakened by the Obama administration as if they were playground rules.”

If you read the article, it describes a battle where a captain had to request headquarters to approve an attack on a building, and were repeatedly denied.

Former ArmyCapt. William Swenson, who last month pinned on the Medal of Honor, repeatedly called headquarters to request airstrikes but was denied for hours, as more than 150 Taliban fighters surrounded and attacked his position.

I know it’s the humane thing to do to save lives – but when you are in a war, humane goes out the window and it gets ugly and people not involved get hurt. The enemy needs to be defeated ASAP in a war. I guarantee you if our middle easterners hiding out in the country attack, they will not be worried about saving civilians and performing targeted strikes.

Of course the next line would be – we don’t want to be like those savages. Let me put it this way. I bet those in the WTC 12 years ago would have something to say about our soft war approach.

Mandela Memorial Features Fake Sign Language Interpreter

11 Dec 2013

Nelson Mandela memorial sign language interpreter was a ‘fake’

Ingrid Parkin, principal of the St. Vincent School for the Deaf in Johannesburg, said she has received complaints from the deaf community from Canada to China over his signing and described his movements as “like he’s signing gibberish.”

Braam Jordaan, a deaf South African and board member of the World Deaf Federation, also said he believed the interpreter was creating his own signs as he went along.

He joined others who have taken to Twitter to claim the interpreter was not using a recognised South African sign language.

Mr Jordaan told the SBS news website: “I was really upset and humiliated. He made up his own signs.

“What happened at the memorial service is truly disgraceful thing to see – it should not happen at all.

“What happened today will be forever aligned with Nelson Mandela & Deaf Community, thanks to this fake interpreter.”

What kind of people do stuff like this? They couldn’t get an expert to do this? This is Mandela, a worldwide figure – and they put this fake up for the world to see. Amazing….

Google, Apple, Microsoft Now Whining About Government Snooping

11 Dec 2013

Google, Apple, and Microsoft Agree: NSA Spying Undermines Freedom

In an open letter to President Obama and Congress, eight of the most prominent U.S. tech companies have demanded that strict new limits be put on government surveillance, citing revelations made earlier this summer, when stories based Edward Snowden’s leaked documents began running in The Guardian. “The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual,” they argue, “rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.”

It was voluntary cooperation on their part that started this mess, now they don’t like it – probably because somewhere, they see the economic ramifications for themselves.

Collectively they had the power to stand up to the government – but chose not to do so. They are willing participants.

Some Fast Food Workers Strike For Higher Wages

5 Dec 2013

Fast-food strikes return amid push for wage hikes

Fast-food workers and labor organizers are marching, waving signs and chanting in cities across the country Thursday amid a push for higher wages.

The industry competes aggressively on value offerings and companies have warned that they would need to raise prices if wages were hiked. Most fast-food locations are also owned and operated by franchisees, which lets companies such as McDonald’s Corp., Burger King Worldwide Inc. and Yum Brands Inc. say that they don’t control worker pay.

Fast-food workers have historically been seen as difficult to unionize, given the industry’s high turnover rates. But the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 2 million workers in health care, janitorial and other industries, has been providing considerable organizational and financial support to the push for higher pay over the past year.

In a statement, McDonald’s said it respects the right to voice an opinion. But it also said that “outside groups are traveling to McDonald’s and other outlets to stage rallies.”

Nelson Mandela Dies at 95

5 Dec 2013

Nelson Mandela dies

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the father of the nation, died on December 5 2013 at the age of 95.

President Jacob Zuma made the announcement from the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Thursday night. He said Mandela passed away at 20:50 in his Houghton home surrounded by his wife, Graça Machel and members of his family.

Mandela became the symbol of the struggle against apartheid after he was convicted in the Rivonia Trial of charges of sabotage and was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island.

At the end of his trial, Mandela gave a now iconic speech in which he said: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Mandela, a key figure in the African National Congress, who helped found the party’s youth league and armed wing,Umkhonto We Sizwe, was imprisoned for 27 years before he was finally released in 1990 at the age of 71.

Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, together with former president FW De Klerk, for the ‘peaceful termination of the apartheid regime and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa”. A year later, he was elected president in the country’s first democratic election.

He stepped down from the presidency in 1999 after one term in office but continued with a busy public schedule. He brokered negotiations for peace in Rwanda, established the Mandela-Rhodes Foundation for educational scholarship, and launched the 46664 Aids fundraising foundation.

Because of Buggy Software, ObamaCare Enrollees May Not Be Enrolled

5 Dec 2013

Nasty Surprise May Await People Who Thought They Enrolled In Obamacare

Unresolved technical problems on HealthCare.gov could lead to a rude surprise at the doctor’s office next month for patients who think they successfully used the website to sign up for health insurance. They may find they’re not insured after all.

…insurance companies are still getting information on their would-be customers that is garbled and incomplete, and in some cases they are getting no information at all. President Barack Obama’s administration is scrambling to repair the faulty system, but scant time remains until the Dec. 23 deadline for consumers to choose a health plan that will be in place Jan. 1.

The result could be an untold number of consumers remaining uninsured despite completing the enrollment process — another embarrassing chapter in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature health care reform law.

“If consumers are not sure if they are enrolled, they should call our customer call center or the insurer of their choice so that they can be sure they’re covered by Jan. 1,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday.

This is crazy.