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Mon, 27 Sep 2021
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Dick Cheney: 'I Worship the Ground Paul Ryan Walks On'

© The Associated Press
Cheney reportedly expressed great admiration for the House budget chairman Wednesday.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney doesn't want Paul Ryan to run for president - he likes the House Budget chairman too much.

"I worship the ground the Paul Ryan walks on," Cheney said Wednesday during a rare public appearance, the Houston Chronicle reported. "I hope he doesn't run for president because that would ruin a good man who has a lot of work to do."

Support for Ryan's budget plan, which includes an overhaul of Medicare, has become an early litmus test for the GOP presidential field. The plan was also a definitive issue in the special election in New York on Tuesday, where Democrat Kathy Hochul won one of the most Republican-friendly congressional seats in the country. Democrats have heralded that victory as a sign that Americans oppose Ryan's plan.


US: The End of Hope and Change

President Obama is poised to sign an extension of the PATRIOT Act - and normalize Bush-Cheney national security policies
© Reuters

It isn't strictly accurate to say that Barack Obama once cared about civil liberties violations in the PATRIOT Act -- he has actually raised detailed objections to the decade old legislation at least twice. In 2005, then-Sen. Obama signed a letter laying out specific concerns that stretched to almost six pages. The next year, the former constitutional law professor took to the Senate floor, where he congratulated his colleagues for "a real, open, and substantive debate about how to fix the PATRIOT Act," and encouraged them to keep up their efforts: "I urge my colleagues to continue working on ways to improve the civil liberties protections after it is reauthorized," he said.

President Obama has now stopped talking about the civil liberties violations he once knowledgeably identified. If all goes as expected, he'll soon sign a four year extension of the PATRIOT Act, quadrupling down on an earlier mistake. This is particularly notable due to the way this latest extension is being passed: Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid had promised a week long debate on the legislation so that abuses identified by civil libertarians could be addressed. The fact that Reid's word proved worthless means that Sen. Rand Paul's worthy amendments may or may not be considered depending upon his adeptness at procedural maneuvering.

Comment: "They weren't about getting Osama bin Laden, nice as that was." (Sigh)


Face to Face with Professor Anthony J. Hall

Chris Cook, special guest host and editor of pacificfreepress.com interviews Dr. Anthony Hall in this week's installment.

War Whore

Canada drops 240 'smart' bombs on Libya, won't reveal cost of mission

© Monaerik
Canadian warplanes have dropped 240 laser-guided bombs on Libyan targets since March 31, the military says.

But the Canadian Forces have deemed several other key aspects of the country's mission in Libya too sensitive for public consumption.

That includes the cost to taxpayers of those 227-kilogram bombs, the price tag of the Libya mission to date, and whether or not Canadian jets are part of the escalating NATO attacks on the capital of Tripoli.

Brig.-Gen. Richard Blanchette revealed the number of bombs in the weekly briefing on Canada's participation in the NATO-led air campaign over Libya. Just a week earlier, he deemed that information off limits, for "operational security" reasons.

Blanchette said military intelligence and counter-intelligence experts reconsidered the request, but he made no apologies for taking a week to decide.

"We will always err on the side of caution until we have a chance to thoroughly consider the impact on operational security."


US: Epidemic Of Fraudulent Foreclosures Sweep The Nation

© unknown
Americans are losing their homes in record numbers all over the country. Many of these foreclosures could be fraudulent or illegal. If a lender wants to foreclose on a property, it has to be able to show that it is, in fact, the appropriate person or entity to whom the money is owed.

The right to foreclosure belongs only to the person who has legitimate possession of the original note. Not a copy, not an electronic entry, but the original note itself with the original signature of the person(s) who allegedly owes the money along with the appropriate raised notary seal and signature. If a person is faced with foreclosure, they have every right to demand that the person or entity trying to take their property prove the legal right to do so by producing the original promissory note.

Your original Mortgage Promissory note may no longer exist. Many of these banks and mortgage lenders did not keep their mortgage notes, but instead sold them through "fractionalized" mortgage-backed securities to investors. This means the note was devided into hundreds of pieces, repackeged, and then sold to hundreds of investors. Now no one person or entity owns the note. No one person or entity can legally foreclose on the property.


35m Google Profiles dumped into private database

Easy as pie

Proving that information posted online is indelible and trivial to mine, an academic researcher has dumped names, email addresses and biographical information made available in 35 million Google Profiles into a massive database that took just one month to assemble.

University of Amsterdam Ph.D. student Matthijs R. Koot said he compiled the database as an experiment to see how easy it would be for private detectives, spear phishers and others to mine the vast amount of personal information stored in Google Profiles. The verdict: It wasn't hard at all. Unlike Facebook policies that strictly forbid the practice, the permissions file for the Google Profiles URL makes no prohibitions against indexing the list.

What's more, Google engineers didn't impose any technical limitations in accessing the data, which is made available in an extensible markup language file called profiles-sitemap.xml. The code he used for the data-mining proof of concept is available here.


US: There's A Secret Patriot Act, Senator Says

© Unknown
You may think you understand how the Patriot Act allows the government to spy on its citizens. Sen. Ron Wyden says it's worse than you've heard.

Congress is set to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the surveillance law as early as Thursday. But Wyden says that what Congress will renew is a mere fig leaf for a far broader legal interpretation of the Patriot Act that the government keeps to itself - entirely in secret. Worse, there are hints that the government uses this secret interpretation to gather what one Patriot-watcher calls a "dragnet" for massive amounts of information on private citizens; the government portrays its data-collection efforts much differently.

"We're getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says," Wyden tells Danger Room in an interview in his Senate office. "When you've got that kind of a gap, you're going to have a problem on your hands."

What exactly does Wyden mean by that? As a member of the intelligence committee, he laments that he can't precisely explain without disclosing classified information. But one component of the Patriot Act in particular gives him immense pause: the so-called "business records provision," which empowers the FBI to get businesses, medical offices, banks and other organizations to turn over any "tangible things" it deems relevant to a security investigation.

"It is fair to say that the business records provision is a part of the Patriot Act that I am extremely interested in reforming," Wyden says. "I know a fair amount about how it's interpreted, and I am going to keep pushing, as I have, to get more information about how the Patriot Act is being interpreted declassified. I think the public has a right to public debate about it."


Obama's 'bizarre' guestbook gaffe

© Oli Scarff/Getty Images
During his trip to London this week, President Obama signs the Westminster Abbey guestbook, not realizing he's making an indelible mistake.
On a visit to Westminster Abbey Tuesday, the president wrote the date as "2008," prompting snickering speculation that he longs for the good old days

The image: Is President Obama still living in the past? His visit on Tuesday to Westminster Abbey, where he laid a memorial wreath on the Grave of the Unknown Warrior, was marked by a "bizarre" gaffe. In signing the Abbey's "distinguished" guestbook, Obama wrote a touching note: "It is a great privilege to commemorate our common heritage and our common sacrifice." Then he dated the entry "24 May 2008." (See the image below.)

The reaction: A White House official suggested the error may have been caused by jet lag," says Jake Tapper at ABC News. But Obama's rally in Dublin the day before sure had a campaign feel. Maybe the president had mentally returned to the "more joyous days of yesteryear." Yes, "it's only natural for a man to revert to thoughts of his glory days when everything around him is falling apart," says Allahpundit at Hot Air. "That's why I've been dating checks '1995' for the past 15 years." Or maybe this was the lingering aftereffect of Obama's visit to a Dublin pub, says Matt Schneider at Mediaite. Perhaps "someone may have slammed a Guinness or two more than they could handle?" Check it out:


US: Feds threaten to ground Texas airplanes if anti-groping bill becomes law

© Unknown
A bill that would criminalize TSA agents who conduct airport patdown searches was scuttled last night after the federal government threatened to ground all flights out of Texas.

The proposed law would have levied misdemeanor charges against security agents who "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly [touch] the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of the other person, including touching through clothing, or touching the other person in a manner that would be offensive to a reasonable person."

An earlier version of House Bill 1937 would have made such action a felony.

"If [the legislation] passes, the federal government would likely seek an emergency stay of the statute," a letter from the Department of Justice explained (PDF). "Unless or until a such a stay were granted, TSA would likely be required to cancel any flight or series of flights for which it could not ensure the safety of passengers and crew."


P/C Insurers Facing Record Losses from Weather

Devastating tornadoes, floods, earthquakes overseas and a busier-than-usual hurricane season have U.S. insurance companies bracing for record losses in 2011.

Insurers could suffer as much as $10 billion from weather-related losses in the United States in 2011, which is up from the average of $2 billion to $4 billion, according to EQECAT Inc, which provides disaster and risk models to insurance companies.