Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Revealed: Hundreds of words to avoid using online if you don’t want the government spying on you (and they include ‘pork’, ‘cloud’ and ‘Mexico’)

The Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S.

The intriguing the list includes obvious choices such as ‘attack’, ‘Al Qaeda’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘dirty bomb’ alongside dozens of seemingly innocent words like ‘pork’, ‘cloud’, ‘team’ and ‘Mexico’.

Released under a freedom of information request, the information sheds new light on how government analysts are instructed to patrol the internet searching for domestic and external threats.

The words are included in the department’s 2011 ‘Analyst’s Desktop Binder’ used by workers at their National Operations Center which instructs workers to identify ‘media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities’.

[Read more…]

Friday, May 25, 2012

Grandfather’s Millions Make Paul Fan A Political Player

John Ramsey became old enough to buy a Carlsberg nine months ago. The 21-year-old college student from east Texas isn’t old enough to serve in Congress. His intellectual role model, U.S. Texas Representative Ron Paul, has been in Congress 22 years — longer than Ramsey has been alive.

Yet, Ramsey is leaving a mark on U.S. politics that may outlast his political mentor and presidential candidate, Paul. The college senior spent $1.3 million of his own money to create a super-political action committee, Liberty for All Super PAC, that backs candidates who endorse what Ramsey calls “freedom philosophy.” The dogma includes policies championed by Paul, such as supporting free-market economics, protecting civil liberties, slashing government spending and opposing most U.S. military action.

Ramsey’s super-PAC passed its first test on May 22. It spent more than $561,000 on television and radio ads to help Tom Massie, a Kentucky engineer, defeat two experienced politicians in a House Republican primary election. Ramsey’s super-PAC spent more than any of the candidates.

“This is the first step. We’re looking to spread our message,” Ramsey, who’d shed his afternoon blue-jeans for a gray suit, told about 20 people in their teens and 20s who gathered for a victory party at one of the PAC’s headquarters in Bellevue, Kentucky.

Hunting and Fishing

Towering over the other attendees at 6-feet, 7-inches, the one-time, daily tennis player still finds time for matches — as well as hunting and fishing — between his political project, investments and studies.

Ramsey attends Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he’s several courses shy from a double-major in business economics and finance.

He enjoys studying central banking systems, including the European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve, which, like Paul, he says should be audited. Among his favorite authors is Frederic Bastiat, a French economist who promoted free markets as a source of “economic harmony” in the early half of the 1800s.

[Read more…]

Congress To Amend NDAA – DOD & NSA Granted Even Greater Power

Most people are aware of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed into law at the first of the year. Much has been made of the particular section on the indefinite detention section and for good reason. States have even opposed NDAA with their own legislation. One part that has not faced as much scrutiny is the section concerning “military activities in cyberspace.” While the existing version grants the Defense Department the ability to conduct those kinds of military activities, but only “upon direction by the President” and if the purpose for such action is to “defend our Nation, Allies and interests,” being subject to existing laws.

Here is how the current version reads:

SEC. 954. MILITARY ACTIVITIES IN CYBERSPACE.

Congress affirms that the Department of Defense has the capability, and upon direction by the President may conduct offensive operations in cyberspace to defend our Nation, Allies and interests, subject to—

(1) the policy principles and legal regimes that the Department follows for kinetic capabilities, including the law of armed conflict; and

(2) the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.).

This does not seem to be enough though. The House Armed Services Committee wants to do a little changing up of this section to give the Defense Department broad powers to conduct any clandestine military actions online against whichever targets any one of the military agencies deems appropriate.

Here is what they want to substitute in its place:

[Read more…]

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ron Paul Supporters Submit Challenge to Oklahoma GOP State Convention

Attorneys representing grassroots supporters of presidential candidate Ron Paul delivered a letter, dated Tuesday, May 22nd, to Oklahoma GOP Chairman Matt Pinnell challenging the “the legitimacy and legality of the purported selection of at-large delegates and alternates to the Republican National Convention at the May 12, 2012 Oklahoma Republican Party Convention.” The letter contends that the election of the State Republican Executive Committee’s national delegate slate is void because convention chairman Marc Nuttle failed to conduct the vote by roll call ballot as required in party rules. Instead, Nuttle called only for voice and standing votes, which do not take into account proportional weighting by county.

“We’re simply asking for the rules to be followed,” stated Lukus Collins, a national delegate from Oklahoma’s 5th congressional district. “This is not a grudge match. This is a black and white issue. State party rules as well as the convention rules clearly require a roll call vote by ballot for the election of national delegates, and that didn’t happen inside at the state convention.” According to Collins, a draft of the letter was presented to Chairman Pinnell over the weekend in an effort to resolve the matter privately, but the offer was ultimately declined.

The letter cites further rules violations, including improper adjournment while convention business was still outstanding. Following the sudden and chaotic adjournment – which included the lights being turned out and wall partitions cutting off nearly one-third of the delegates from the rest of the convention – nearly 400 delegates gathered in the parking lot outside to continue business as a rump convention. During the outdoor proceedings, an alternative slate of national delegates and alternates was elected by roll call ballot, according to Jake Peters, who was elected to chair the continued convention.

The challenge letter requests that the delegates and alternates elected at the outdoor convention be recognized by the Oklahoma GOP as the legitimate at-large delegation, and that national delegation credentialing be forestalled until the challenge is resolved. The letter indicates that the petitioners are prepared to take their challenge formally to the national Committee on Contests.

[Read more…]

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

$1 Trillion for Defense

Recent months have seen a flurry of headlines about cuts (often called “threats”) to the U.S. defense budget. Last week, lawmakers in the House of Representatives even passed a bill that was meant to spare national security spending from future cuts by reducing school-lunch funding and other social programs.

Here, then, is a simple question that, for some curious reason, no one bothers to ask, no less answer: How much are we spending on national security these days? With major wars winding down, has Washington already cut such spending so close to the bone that further reductions would be perilous to our safety?

In fact, with projected cuts added in, the national security budget in fiscal 2013 will be nearly $1 trillion — a staggering enough sum that it’s worth taking a walk through the maze of the national security budget to see just where that money’s lodged.

If you’ve heard a number for how much the U.S. spends on the military, it’s probably in the neighborhood of $530 billion. That’s the Pentagon’s base budget for fiscal 2013, and represents a 2.5 percent cut from 2012. But that $530 billion is merely the beginning of what the U.S. spends on national security. Let’s dig a little deeper.

The Pentagon’s base budget doesn’t include war funding, which in recent years has been well over $100 billion. With U.S. troops withdrawn from Iraq and troop levels falling in Afghanistan, you might think that war funding would be plummeting as well. In fact, it will drop to a mere $88 billion in fiscal 2013. By way of comparison, the federal government will spend around $64 billion on education that same year.

Add in war funding, and our national security total jumps to $618 billion. And we’re still just getting started.

[Read more…]