Friday, January 29, 2010

Americans Sign Petition to repeal the 1st Amendment

BTC - After this week's Supreme Court decision, I think American's are "Constitutionally challenged" when it comes to Free Speech. If you disagree with allowing corporations which can be owned by any foreign entity to participate in purchasing our elections via PAC special interests you can start by visiting .

If you need further proof .. watch this.

Mark Dice takes on his new cause of repealing the First Amendment on behalf of the New World Order. Most people he approaches, take up his cause to end political hate speech and sign his petition. Mark Dice has a new YouTube Channel and just published his new book titled: The New World Order Facts & Fiction

Surveillance Can't Make Us Secure

c/o Julian Sanchez for The Nation

In a major speech on Internet freedom last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged American tech companies to "take a proactive role in challenging foreign governments' demands for censorship and surveillance." Her call to action followed a series of dazzlingly sophisticated cyberattacks against online giant Google and more than thirty other major technology companies, believed to originate in the People's Republic of China. Few observers have found the Chinese government's staunch denials of involvement persuasive--but the attacks should also spur our own government to review the ways our burgeoning surveillance state has made us more vulnerable.

The Google hackers appear to have been interested in, among other things, gathering information about Chinese dissidents and human rights activists--and they evidently succeeded in obtaining account information and e-mail subject lines for a number of Gmail users. While Google is understandably reluctant to go into detail about the mechanics of the breach, a source at the company told ComputerWorld "they apparently were able to access a system used to help Google comply with [US] search warrants by providing data on Google users." In other words, a portal set up to help the American government catch criminals may have proved just as handy at helping the Chinese government find dissidents.
In a way, the hackers' strategy makes perfect sense. Communications networks are generally designed to restrict outside access to their users' private information. But the goal of government surveillance is to create a breach-by-design, a deliberate backdoor into otherwise carefully secured systems. The appeal to an intruder is obvious: Why waste time with retail hacking of many individual targets when you can break into the network itself and spy wholesale?

The Google hackers are scarcely the first to exploit such security holes. In the summer of 2004, unknown intruders managed to activate wiretapping software embedded in the systems of Greece's largest cellular carrier. For ten months, the hackers eavesdropped on the cellphone calls of more than 100 prominent citizens--including the prime minister, opposition members of parliament, and high cabinet officials.

It's hard to know just how many other such instances there are, because Google's decision to go public is quite unusual: companies typically have no incentive to spook customers (or invite hackers) by announcing a security breach. But the little we know about the existing surveillance infrastructure does not inspire great confidence.

Consider the FBI's Digital Collection System Network, or DCSNet. Via a set of dedicated, encrypted lines plugged directly into the nation's telecom hubs, DCSNet is designed to allow authorized law enforcement agents to initiate a wiretap or gather information with point-and-click simplicity. Yet a 2003 internal audit, released several years later under a freedom-of-information request, found a slew of problems in the system's setup that appalled security experts. Designed with external threats in mind, it had few safeguards against an attack assisted by a Robert Hanssen-style accomplice on the inside. We can hope those problems have been resolved by now. But if new vulnerabilities are routinely discovered in programs used by millions, there's little reason to hope that bespoke spying software can be rendered airtight.

Of even greater concern, though, are the ways the government has encouraged myriad private telecoms and Internet providers to design for breach.

The most obvious means by which this is happening is direct legal pressure. State-sanctioned eavesdroppers have always been able to demand access to existing telecommunications infrastructure. But the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994 went further, requiring telephone providers to begin building networks ready-made for easy and automatic wiretapping. Federal regulators recently expanded that requirement to cover broadband and many voice-over-Internet providers. The proposed SAFETY Act of 2009 would compound the security risk by requiring Internet providers to retain users' traffic logs for at least two years, just in case law enforcement should need to browse through them.

A less obvious, but perhaps more serious factor is the sheer volume of surveillance the government now engages in. If government data caches contain vast quantities of information unrelated to narrow criminal investigations--routinely gathered in the early phases of an investigation to identify likely targets--attackers will have much greater incentive to expend time and resources on compromising them. The FBI's database now contains billions of records from a plethora of public and private sources, much of it gathered in the course of broad, preliminary efforts to determine who merits further investigation. The sweeping, programmatic NSA surveillance authorized by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 has reportedly captured e-mails from the likes of former President Bill Clinton.

The volume of requests from both federal and state law enforcement has also put pressure on telecoms to automate their processes for complying with government information requests. In a leaked recording from the secretive ISS World surveillance conference held back in October, Sprint/Nextel's head of surveillance described how the company's L-Site portal was making it possible to deal with the ballooning demand for information:

"My major concern is the volume of requests. We have a lot of things that are automated, but that's just scratching the surface.... Like with our GPS tool. We turned it on--the web interface for law enforcement--about one year ago last month, and we just passed 8 million requests. So there is no way on earth my team could have handled 8 million requests from law enforcement, just for GPS alone. So the [L-Site portal] has just really caught on fire with law enforcement. They also love that it is extremely inexpensive to operate and easy, so, just the sheer volume of requests.... They anticipate us automating other features, and I just don't know how we'll handle the millions and millions of requests that are going to come in."
Behold the vicious cycle. Weakened statutory standards have made it easier and more attractive for intelligence and law enforcement agencies to seek information from providers. On top of the thousands of wiretap and so-called "pen/trap" orders approved each year, there are tens of thousands of National Security Letters and subpoenas. At the ISS World conference, a representative of Cricket, one of the smaller wireless providers, estimated that her company gets 200 law enforcement requests per day, all told; giants like Verizon have said they receive "tens of thousands" annually. (Those represent distinct legal demands for information; Sprint's "8 million" refers to individual electronic requests for updates on a target's location.)

Telecoms respond to the crush of requests by building a faster, more seamless, more user-friendly process for dealing with those requests--further increasing the appeal of such tools to law enforcement. Unfortunately, insecurity loves company: more information flowing to more legitimate users is that much more difficult to lock down effectively. Later in his conference, the Sprint representative at ISS World speculated that someone who mocked up a phony legal request and faxed it to a random telecom would have a good chance of getting it answered. The recipients just can't thoroughly vet every request they get.

We've gotten so used to the "privacy/security tradeoff" that it's worth reminding ourselves, every now and again, that surrendering privacy does not automatically make us more secure--that systems of surveillance can themselves be a major source of insecurity. Hillary Clinton is absolutely right that tech companies seeking to protect Internet freedom should begin "challenging foreign governments' demands for censorship and surveillance." But her entreaty contains precisely one word too many.

About Julian Sanchez
Julian Sanchez is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor for Reason magazine.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Alex Jones is an inside job

BTC-Alex Jones evolved to become the name to both support and then to discredit the 911 truth movement. He's come full circle as a provacateur. My worst notions about controlled opposition and Alex Jones are now confirmed.

I had earnest suspicion of this news makers use and abuse of news to serially discredit the (L)iberty movement. Here is video proof of a legitimate rally where he is outing his presence as a provacateur.



TOTALS: The U.S. border wall's toll on the environment

[BTC - Damage done is damage done, no matter who is responsible. We have one planet. We all have to live here together. ]

c/o No Border Wall

Before former Secretary Chertoff’s last Real ID Act waivers in April 2008, DHS prepared draft environmental impact statements and draft environmental assessments for the various sections of border wall, as mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act. In reviewing the draft environmental impact statement for the Rio Grande Valley, the Environmental Protection Agency found it to be “insufficient,” and recommended that DHS start the process over. The EPA reached the same conclusion, and made the same recommendation, when it reviewed the draft environmental impact statements and draft environmental assessments that DHS prepared for each the other border wall sections.

Following the waivers, which allowed DHS to disregard the National Environmental Policy Act, the agency abruptly ended the environmental assessment and environmental impact statement processes. Instead, they created a brand new category, the “environmental stewardship plan,” which was not governed by any federal legislation. These new reports recycle the bulk of the prior, “insufficient” reports, in many cases word-for-word, but have no established criteria or requirement for review from the EPA or the public. While they do include recommendations to minimize the wall’s environmental impact, most of which appeared in the earlier “insufficient” reports, there is no requirement that these be adhered to. In the instance of Smuggler’s Gulch, for example, revegetation and erosion control measures called for in DHS’ own report were not implemented.

With no need to obey environmental laws, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) filled in the canyon known as Smuggler’s Gulch, south of San Diego, with over 2 million cubic yards of earth that had been ripped from adjacent mountaintops, and planted the border wall on top of the berm. With no regulations in place and no oversight by other agencies, DHS put little effort into erosion control, and the still bare slopes of the earthen dam threaten to wash tremendous amounts of dirt into the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, which is only 600 feet away. Burying the estuary in sediment may raise its surface level enough to disrupt the twice-daily inundation of sea water upon which its fragile ecosystem depends.

To the east of Smuggler’s Gulch, in the rugged Otay Mountain Wilderness Area, DHS has blasted mountainsides in order to create access roads and level ground upon which to build the border wall. Before construction began the Environmental Protection Agency raised concerns that the dumping of tons of rubble, and the erosion that would follow, would clog the Tijuana River and violate the Clean Water Act. The Otay Mountain Wilderness Area was established in part to preserve some of the last stands of rare tecate cypress trees, the host plant for the even rarer Thorne’s hairstreak butterfly, which are found nowhere else in the United States. But with the Real ID Act’s waiver authority in hand, DHS has ignored the EPA’s concerns and our nation’s environmental laws, including the Otay Mountain Wilderness Act and the Clean Water Act. Border wall construction caused tremendous erosion, as predicted, and also involved cutting down more than 100 tecate cypress trees.

In July of 2008 the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument received seasonal monsoon rains which resulted in the flooding of a number of washes that are bisected by the border wall. Storms of this type normally occur every 3 – 5 years in this part of the Sonoran desert. The Army Corps of Engineers had previously stated that the border walls built across washes would "not impede the natural flow of water.” In stark contrast to these claims, the National Park Service determined that the grates built into the base of the wall to allow for the passage of water were quickly choked with debris and sediment. The border wall then acted as a dam, with floodwaters up to seven feet deep piling up behind it. The floodwaters then followed the wall in search of an outlet, which they found at the Sonoyta port of entry, causing millions of dollars of damage to private businesses and government buildings.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The TWIC Debacle

BTC - No one says it quite like someone from the inside.
We took the calls from people who had not heard anything about their card status in over a year, and having lost their jobs, are now losin’ their cars, homes, and in one guy’s case, his whole family because he could not support them. His wife left him and took the kids….all over this dayumm card. If in their frustration they wanted to speak with a supervisor, we were to tell them that the supervisor will give the same infor to try to deter them from asking for the sup. If they persisted we took down “call back” info; they rarely (never) got that call back…
My Last Day on the Plantation.
c/o datGurlbenz

Well folks, I am released from Purgatory. Jan 22nd was my last day at my job. They moved the project to Fredericksburg VA, where TSA is based. This was due to some internal bullshyt, but is ok with me.

This job was miserable and depressin’. This was a call center that took calls for TSA for the TWIC card. This is a card that someone between TSA and Dept of Homeland Security, (and implemented by Lockheed Martin) sat up one day and decided to mandate that all “transportation workers” (and that list is growing on the daily!) are required to have this ‘credential’ basically as a condition of their employment.

At cost of $132.50.

TSA urged these people to apply for this card with a deadline of April 15, 2009. ( The mandate was prototyped in 2007) Of course that day has come and gone, and people are still applying and waitin’ for cards to date. Some of the enrollment centers required folks to drive across state lines to apply, and you had to return there to pick up the card, since they will not mail them out…

They told these people who once they applied they would have their cards within 6-8 weeks. If they had to file a ‘appeal or waiver’, which means that they have found something in their background questionable, that would be decided within 25 days (that statement has since been taken off the TSA site, since it surely is untrue). Well the person (Trusted Worker, they are called) can expect to wait on, the average I’ve seen, 8-9 months; there are people who applied for this card in 2007, and still do not have a card. What this means is that these people cannot go to work and feed their families during this time.

This card was also made mandatory for Merchant Mariners. This means they had to apply for another card to carry to work, or not work at all. Since they and HME have a ‘comparable background check’ they were charged $105.25 and MIGHT get their cards sooner. Not always the case.

Thats where it got depressing. We took the calls from people who had not heard anything about their card status in over a year, and having lost their jobs, are now losin’ their cars, homes, and in one guy’s case, his whole family because he could not support them. His wife left him and took the kids….all over this dayumm card. If in their frustration they wanted to speak with a supervisor, we were to tell them that the supervisor will give the same infor to try to deter them from asking for the sup. If they persisted we took down “call back” info; they rarely (never) got that call back…

TSA is makin’ mistakes as well. The Agents in the enrollment centers (from temp agencies with little/no training) are losing information, misspelling TW’s names, and mis-filing applications. The fingerprint thingy failed in alot of centers, and that caused delays. All this costs the TW eons of time, because they either have to wait for them to ‘locate the enrollment’ or re-apply all together. Another 6 months waiting and out of work…

We ‘escalate’ the tickets and TSA does not even touch them for 3-4 months. The card status online (when the site is not 404!) has not been updated almost since the day the TW applied. There was one while that someone from TSA (not sayin their name) was closing the tickets and saying they were duplicates and to search for them by Application ID. Well since you closed the ticket why not include the actual ticket number instead of adding more drama to the rep by asking them to search for something that could have been included on a system that doesn’t work? This all before she re-opened them days/weeks later, with a note, apologizing that this was done in error. These workers don’t have time for errors.

I took a call one day from a guy in Idaho, who’d never been anywhere in his life but there, yet TSA told him he needed to explain his birth in Algiers! This means he had to file the fatal “appeal and waiver”, which had taken at the time of the call, already 10 months with no answer. All because someone made a mistake.

The Appeal & Waiver process is deeply flawed. Not only do they take inordinate amounts of time to ‘depose’ these requests, they are wrongly assessin’ folks; people are getting the Initial Determination letter, and are not aliens and do not have criminal records. If you don’t answer the letter in 60 days (but they can take a year!) they will close your case “without action”-which means you have to WRITE A LETTER to TSA and ‘request they re-open your case! WTF? They are also closing cases before the TW even gets the letter, before the 60 days have passed, and by mistake since some of the people HAVE NOT RECEIVED a letter in the first place!

NELP (National Employment Law Project) released a study last June, that 10,000+ workers had lost their job by the time that study was created…all due to this dayumm card and the missteps of TSA and Lockheed Martin. And these people are impactin’ the UI numbers as well but for a different reason. Not because there IS no work and they’re not able and ready, but because they CAN’T take the job…because of this card. These numbers are blamed on Obama too, tho its the fault of the aforementioned entities..

They have no recourse, since they are being told they cannot bring any action against The Government.

Meanwhile we are locked down to a 4.50 min handle time, while we searched for the ticket number (90% of the callers didn’t have it!) stated and spelled back everything on the ticket, searched for the App ID (that 90% didn’t have!) BEFORE we handled the callers issue, and raked over the coals for misspelled words or grammar , (yet Lockheed Martin couldn’t spell a lick, and thats all the way up to the top guy!), or missin’ that impossible handle time workin on an application that spent more time hangin’ on the screen frozen or with CGI errors than anything else… They have no idea how to run a call center. At all.

I would have to come home and ‘de-program’ and get my head together. I’ve been in Customer Service for a long time. This was not Customer Service as I knew it; a manager there told me once that we ARE NOT customer service; we are the ‘Help Desk’-all we are to do is tell them the (flawed and incorrect) information we see on then screen and get them off the phone. I’m guessin’ that was due to Lockheed payin them by ticket we produced on each call. Help my ass; I’m not used to that.

I hated even goin’ there every day, my attitude and energy sank the closer I got to the building every mornin’ . I was losin’ sleep and havin’ frequent headaches. I took a 30-day leave back in August, just due to the stress…

They offered us positions in other departments. I turned that down and took the attractive severance pkg, and my investments in the company. We will also get UI since we are statused as ‘laid off.’ I’m runnin off to Cali for some down time. I will spend some time just ‘breathing’ and gettin’ my emotions in order. It’s hard to listen to these stories these people had without emotin’ with them.

You had to be made of stone…

I just hope someone gets this shyt together.