Politics

FIVE FRIENDS

Pass it on.

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NSL GAG ORDERS

On March 9 the Justice Department’s inspector general revealed that the FBI has been systematically abusing its expanded power to issue “national security letters” and obtain private information about US citizens and residents from telephone companies, Internet service providers, banks, credit providers, and other businesses.

Between 2003 and 2005 the FBI issued more than 140,000 specific demands, without a showing of probable cause or prior judicial approval, to obtain potentially sensitive information about U.S. […] continued

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THE INTERNET AND THE VICE-PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

An amusing technology note from the debate last night. Dick Cheney responded to charges about Halliburton by urging viewers to go to “factcheck.com, an independent Web site sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania, [to] get the specific details with respect to Halliburton.”

Cheney misspoke. He meant “factcheck.org.”

The owner of factcheck.com is not a Bush fan. […] continued

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MASTER & SLAVE

I’m a fan of politically correct speech. I think it’s important to avoid using expressions that perpetuate stereotypes, even if it’s reasonably clear that the words are meant kindly or inoffensively.

But.

Following complaints by someone within the bureaucracy, the County of Los Angeles has ordered vendors to discontinue use of the words “master/slave” to describe two hard drives sharing a cable. […] continued

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THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT

MSNBC has a wonderful article about an unexpected side effect of global warming – huge ice blocks, 22 lbs or more, which form in the upper atmosphere on clear days and fall to earth, smashing car windshields and ripping holes in houses. Don’t look at me like that – I’m serious. […] continued

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CYBERTERRORISM (NOT)

More interesting reading at The Register: a deeply cynical article bashing the press for repeating stories about alleged threats of cyberterrorism. The government is beating the drums about the likelihood that al-Quaeda technology whizzes are about to level cities from their computers, or something like that. The press is repeating the stories without any investigation, corroboration, or thought. […] continued

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TAUZIN/DINGELL PASSES

According to the Center for Responsible Politics, the Bells – Qwest, BellSouth, SBC Communications and Verizon – have contributed about $19.4 million to congressional campaigns since 1999.

Slightly less huge companies such as AT&T, Sprint and Worldcom have spent about $12.6 million over the same period.

Congress today gave away the store to the bigger contributors. […] continued

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POLITICS: ENRON AND WHITEWATER

I thought this was a particularly good discussion of the unfolding Enron scandal, well worth keeping in mind as the various players stake out their positions on the front page for the next six or eight months. It begins as a comparison of Whitewater and Enron at the same stage:

“I would argue that Enron is neither worse nor better than Whitewater at a similar stage of development.

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PRIVACY

One of the pieces of legislation being reviewed to deal with terrorism would permit Internet surveillance without a court order. The scope of that surveillance was debated at a Congressional committee meeting on Tuesday. The bill’s advocates argue that prosecutors should be able to intercept e-mail headers (TO: and FROM:), since it’s analogous to what they can discover about incoming and outgoing phone calls. […] continued

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HAS EVERYTHING CHANGED?

There’s an interesting perspective in this column by Michael Kinsley about whether we should automatically accept the notion that life in America has permanently changed for the worse after the terrorist bombing. He says, “Life was riskier than we realized before Sept. 11 and is not as risky as we fear now. […] continued

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DISASTER: RELIGIOUS RIGHT

Despite past differences, you may have the impression that America has been united by this tragedy. I offer this without further comment.

According to The Washington Post and the New York Times, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson said that liberal civil liberties groups, feminists, homosexuals and abortion rights supporters bear partial responsibility for Tuesday’s terrorist attacks. […] continued

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DISASTER: CIVIL LIBERTIES

The nation is entering into a debate about the relationship between privacy and national security. Regardless of where you stand, encourage the debate to be fair, reasonable, and deeply considered. A rush to cut off privacy and anonymity may seem tempting in light of the terrorist attacks, but our liberties are built on more than an obsession with security. […] continued

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ENERGY POLICY

From Slate magazine:

The Wall Street Journal “Washington Wire” has Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill’s penetrating defense of the Bush energy plan’s proposed expansion of nuclear power: “If you set aside Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the safety record of nuclear is really very good.”

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JIMMY CARTER ON ENERGY

A good article by Jimmy Carter in the Washington Post about “misinformation and scare tactics” coming out of the Bush White House to justify environmental atrocities. Sample:

“No energy crisis exists now that equates in any way with those we faced in 1973 and 1979. World supplies are adequate and reasonably stable, price fluctuations are cyclical, reserves are plentiful, and automobiles aren’t waiting in line at service stations. […] continued

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