16 May 2006

Welcome to 1984

Freedom of the press is a fleeting fancy, as it's revealed that the Bush administration, in the spirit of Orwell's Big Brother, is applying the nebulous "War on Terror" to track phone numbers dialed by journalists to root out confidential sources.
A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.

Our reports on the CIA's secret prisons in Romania and Poland were known to have upset CIA officials. The CIA asked for an FBI investigation of leaks of classified information following those reports.

People questioned by the FBI about leaks of intelligence information say the CIA was also disturbed by ABC News reports that revealed the use of CIA predator missiles inside Pakistan.

In total defiance of the Constitution, these Patriot Act provisions cancel out needed checks and balances. And, as has been witnessed in the past, such measures are being used by the Bush administration in a broad stroke, to go after any opponents of the administration.

War is peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

4 May 2006

There is enormous political and economic power behind the idea that you shouldn't truly own your computer or your software, despite having paid for it

Security technologist Bruce Schneier pens an illuminating essay on the state of personal computing circa 2006.
You own your computer, of course. You bought it. You paid for it. But how much control do you really have over what happens on your machine? Technically you might have bought the hardware and software, but you have less control over what it's doing behind the scenes.

Using the hacker sense of the term, your computer is "owned" by other people.

It used to be that only malicious hackers were trying to own your computers. Whether through worms, viruses, Trojans or other means, they would try to install some kind of remote-control program onto your system. Then they'd use your computers to sniff passwords, make fraudulent bank transactions, send spam, initiate phishing attacks and so on. Estimates are that somewhere between hundreds of thousands and millions of computers are members of remotely controlled "bot" networks. Owned.

Now, things are not so simple. There are all sorts of interests vying for control of your computer. There are media companies that want to control what you can do with the music and videos they sell you. There are companies that use software as a conduit to collect marketing information, deliver advertising or do whatever it is their real owners require. And there are software companies that are trying to make money by pleasing not only their customers, but other companies they ally themselves with. All these companies want to own your computer.

Of the details recounted by Schneier, particulary insidious is the recent story about Sony distributed a rootkit (in the interests in DRM) and then asked antivirus providers like Symantec not to detect it. More disturbing is the little acknowledged truth that when a consumer "purchases" software, he merely obtains a license to only use the software, and ownership resides with the publisher, or whoever is authorized to market the license.

Just another reason to own a Mac or become a true freedom lover and use Linux and free software.

2 May 2006

American politicians have refused to secure our borders and look after the welfare of middle class Americans

A retired border patrolman writes an open letter to Senator Bill Frist.
There is a huge amount of propaganda and myths circulating about illegal aliens, particularly illegal Mexican, Salvadorian, Guatemalan and Honduran aliens.
  1. Illegal aliens generally do NOT want U.S. citizenship. Americans are very vain thinking that everybody in the world wants to be a U.S. citizen. Mexicans, and other nationalities want to remain citizens of their home countries while obtaining the benefits offered by the United States such as employment, medical care, in-state tuition, government subsidized housing and free education for their offspring. Their main attraction is employment and their loyalty usually remains at home. They want benefits earned and subsidized by middle class Americans. What illegal aliens want are benefits of American residence without paying the price.

  2. There are no jobs that Americans won't do. Illegal aliens are doing jobs that Americans can't take and still support their families. Illegal aliens take low wage jobs, live dozens in a single residence home, share expenses and send money to their home country. There are no jobs that Americans won't do for a decent wage.

  3. Every person who illegally entered this nation left a home. They are NOT homeless and they are NOT Americans. Some left jobs in their home countries. They come to send money to their real home as evidenced by the more than 20 billion dollars sent out of the country each year by illegal aliens. These illegal aliens knowingly and willfully entered this nation in violation of the law and therefore assumed the risk of detection and deportation. Those who brought their alien children assumed the responsibility and risk on behalf of their children.

  4. Illegal aliens are NOT critical to the economy. Illegal aliens constitute less than 5% of the workforce. However, they reduce wages and benefits for lawful U.S. residents.

  5. This is NOT an immigrant nation. There are 280 million native born Americans. While it is true that this nation was settled and founded by immigrants (legal immigrants), it is also true that there is not a nation on this planet that was not settled by immigrants at one time or another.

  6. The United States is welcoming to legal immigrants. Illegal aliens are not immigrants by definition. The U.S. accepts more lawful immigrants every year than the rest of the world combined.

  7. There is no such thing as the "Hispanic vote". Hispanics are white, brown, black and every shade in between. Hispanics are Republicans, Democrats, Anarchists, Communists, Marxists and Independents. The so-called "Hispanic vote" is a myth. Pandering to illegal aliens to get the Hispanic vote is a dead end.

  8. Mexico is NOT a friend of the United States. Since 1848 Mexicans have resented the United States. During World War I Mexico allowed German Spies to operate freely in Mexico to spy on the U.S. During World War II Mexico allowed the Axis powers to spy on the U.S. from Mexico. During the Cold War Mexico allowed spies hostile to the U.S. to operate freely. The attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 was cheered and applauded all across Mexico. Today Mexican school children are taught that the U.S. stole California, Arizona, new Mexico and Texas. If you don't believe it, check out some Mexican textbooks written for their schoolchildren.

  9. Although some illegal aliens enter this country for a better life, there are 6 billion people on this planet. At least 1 billion of those live on less than one dollar a day. If wanting a better life is a valid excuse to break the law and sneak into America, then let's allow those one billion to come to America and we'll turn the USA into a Third World nation overnight. Besides, there are 280 million native born Americans who want a better life. I'll bet Bill Gates and Donald Trump want a better life. When will the USA lifeboat be full? Since when is wanting a better life a good reason to trash another nation?

  10. There is a labor shortage in this country. This is a lie. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American housewives, senior citizens, students, unemployed and underemployed who would gladly take jobs at a decent wage.

  11. It is racist to want secure borders. What is racist about wanting secure borders and a secure America? What is racist about not wanting people to sneak into America and steal benefits we have set aside for legal aliens, senior citizens, children and other legal residents? What is it about race that entitles people to violate our laws, steal identities, and take the American Dream without paying the price?

Can't say that I disagree with very much of this letter. Though I think the ire is misdirected — instead, one only needs to follow the money to get to the crux of the problem. Who profits from a captive, restricted class of labor that undercuts the wages of Americans? Who gains from allowing American citizens to pick up the tax tab for health care, education and other services provided by the state for immigrant workers?