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FISA Court Twists PATRIOT Act To Pretend It’s Okay To Spy On Americans Based On Their Constitutionally Protected Speech

Posted on August 29th, 2014 at 23:22 by John Sinteur in category: News


ection 215 of the Patriot Act is rather explicit:

the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or a designee of the Director (whose rank shall be no lower than Assistant Special Agent in Charge) may make an application for an order requiring the production of any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items) for an investigation to obtain foreign intelligence information not concerning a United States person or to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities, provided that such investigation of a United States person is not conducted solely upon the basis of activities protected by the first amendment to the Constitution.

Seems clear, right? But, of course, what seems clear in the statute and how the intelligence community and the rubber-stamping FISA Court will view things often seem to differ by a wide margin. The FISA court has now released yet another heavily redacted opinion, given by Judge John Bates, concerning just such a request. You may recall Judge John Bates from his recent letters in which he pretends to represent the entire judiciary, in fighting back against any attempt to limit the NSA and the FISA Court’s ability to spy on American people. Bates seems absolutely sure that doing so will let the terrorists win, which gives you a glimpse into his mindset.

Thus, while depressing, it shouldn’t be too surprising to find out that when a Section 215 request came to him concerning activity of a US person that was entirely protected by the First Amendment, Bates figured out a way to give the FBI the go ahead to spy on the person anyway. Because terrorism.


What good are rights, especially those that allow you to be critical of your government, if they can be stripped away from you on a whim?
Not a US citizen? Rights don’t apply.
Within 100mi of the US Border? Rights don’t apply.
3 degrees of separation from someone who is a suspected terrorist? Rights don’t apply.
State of Emergency? Rights don’t apply.
Leak something that makes the government look bad? Rights don’t apply.
Cop on a bad day? Rights don’t apply.
Fasion a poptart in the shape of a weapon? Rights don’t apply.
Yell something that offends someone across a campus? Rights don’t apply.

Why even bother having rights if they’re such a joke.
—Anonymous Coward

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Tacoma police using surveillance device to sweep up cellphone data

Posted on August 29th, 2014 at 22:53 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Tacoma Police Department apparently has bought — and quietly used for six years — controversial surveillance equipment that can sweep up records of every cellphone call, text message and data transfer up to a half a mile away.

You don’t have to be a criminal to be caught in this law enforcement snare. You just have to be near one and use a cellphone.

Known as Stingray, the device — small enough to be carried in a car — tricks cellphones into thinking it’s a cell tower and draws in their information.

If you want to build your own, it’s called an IMSI catcher.

Build your own for about $1500

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Javascript: the weird parts

Posted on August 29th, 2014 at 22:29 by John Sinteur in category: Software


I’ve heard of that boolean arithmetic. Let’s give it a try.js> true+true===2
js> true-true===0
Ah. It looks like true is equal to one. I’ll just check.js>true===1

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  1. This is what happens when someone who creates a computer language has never taken a class in formal logic… 🙁

  2. If you like that, I recommend this talk (18 mins):

    Brian Leroux, WTFjs.

    and his site/blog:

Britain Raises Terror Alert, Cites British Terrorists

Posted on August 29th, 2014 at 21:56 by John Sinteur in category: News


This is the first time in three years that the level has been so high, just one notch below the top of the scale [‘critical’]. Prime Minister David Cameron said the decision was made by an independent government commission because the rise of the group in Iraq and Syria once called ISIL or ISIS, which now calls itself the Islamic State, poses a threat to Britain.

“What we’re facing in Iraq now with ISIL is a greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before,” said Cameron.

Those that forget history are condemned to look like dumb asses.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 21.56.56

“When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.”
– Winston Churchill

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  1. Which War are we in now?

Apple Building Massive Structure at Flint Center for iPhone 6 Event

Posted on August 29th, 2014 at 21:38 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


For the occasion, it appears that Apple has been building a massive structure on the campus, which has been kept under tight wraps with a white barricade. A MacRumors reader has sent in images of a mysterious structure at the Flint Center, which appears to span three stories and is protected by “scads” of security people. Administrators had previously declined to comment on what the structure is for, stating only “We are not at liberty to discuss that due to client wishes.”


Apple has not held an event at the Flint Center in many years, so the company’s return to the site of the original Mac unveiling suggests its upcoming announcement will be a major one. The Flint Center has a much higher seating capacity than other venues where Apple has unveiled products in the past, including the Yerba Buena Center and its own Cupertino campus.

Could be just a “here’s a new iPhone model, and it has NFC” but somehow it feels different. I’m going to keep a spare set of pants on standby.

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The Biggest Tax Scam Ever: How Corporate America Parks Profits Overseas, Avoiding Billions in Taxes

Posted on August 29th, 2014 at 14:28 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons


As Burger King heads north for Canada’s lower corporate tax rate, we speak to Rolling Stone contributing editor Tim Dickinson about his new article, “The Biggest Tax Scam Ever.” Dickinson reports on how top U.S. companies are avoiding hundreds of billions of dollars by parking their profits abroad — and still receiving more congressionally approved incentives. Dickinson writes: “Top offenders include giants from high-tech (Microsoft, $76 billion); Big Pharma (Pfizer, $69 billion); Big Oil (Exxon­Mobil, $47 billion); investment banks (Goldman Sachs, $22 billion); Big Tobacco (Philip Morris, $20 billion); discount retailers (Wal-Mart, $19 billion); fast-food chains (McDonald’s, $16 billion) – even heavy machinery (Caterpillar, $17 billion). General Electric has $110 billion stashed offshore, and enjoys an effective tax rate of 4 percent – 31 points lower than its statutory obligation to the IRS.”


And small business is not benefiting from all these tax games that multinationals are able to play, and they’re having to compete with these companies here.


So, Apple has this amazing deal, where they’ve got essentially a shadow company in Ireland. And it’s incorporated in Ireland, but for Irish purposes, it’s an American company, and for American purposes, it’s an Irish company. And so you end up with this black hole of taxation where in fact this Apple subsidiary files a tax return to no government in the world. And so, it can use all kinds of accounting tricks to funnel money to this company, and they sit there essentially absolutely untaxed. Just there’s no tax return. And so you have billions of dollars sitting there. And again, when Apple needs billions of dollars to fund its American operations, it has bond offerings, and its cost of borrowing here in the United States is incredibly low. Just investors are virtually paying Apple to raise this money, because it’s secured by these massive piles of cash, technically abroad, although they’re actually banked reportedly in Manhattan.

And any international company NOT doing this would be facing shareholder lawsuits over it.

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  1. Oh, the horror! Small companies that don’t do business overseas do not get tax loopholes on overseas profits! Horrors!

    Every single American individual is going to take whatever tax deduction they legally can. And yet they’ll whine when companies do the same thing. Can we PLEASE start shaming politicians for not closing the legitimate loopholes instead of shaming companies for legally lowering their tax bills? And shame journalists for these lousy articles?

  2. And here I was reading “we need to level the playing field world wide and close these loopholes” in the line about small business…

  3. The problem is the companies control congress and have these loopholes written into the tax code. Individuals don’t have that kind of power.

  4. I’m all for leveling the playing field. I’m also for disabling some of these constructions. But if large company A has a subsidiary in China and makes money there and leaves that money abroad rather than repatriating it and paying taxes on it, how does that affect the competition between A and smaller company B back here in the US?

  5. And plenty of other examples… This is something that can likely only be resolved by having a single world-wide tax on these kind of things. And the can of worms you open when you do that…. oh boy.

  6. A single world-wide tax isn’t going to happen. Based on the pain resulting from the Euro, I think there’s an easy argument to make that it’s not even desirable. And I think for the sake of diversity and experimentation alone it’s worth having different tax regimes in different countries, or at least the possibility thereof.

    I don’t know how to solve the corporate tax-haven problem. I’m tempted to conclude that the solution is the same as the solution to music/movie piracy: make it cheap and easy to conform to the desired behavior. This may mean shifting the tax burden to different places (e.g. VAT, carbon tax, …?).

  7. no, I don’t have a solution either… it’s difficult enough to not let companies externalize any costs, let alone do a good honest tax…