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Spelling it out: How CISPA would affect you (FAQ)

CISPA internet privacy bill
© U.S. House of RepresentativesHouse Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, who says CISPA will not endanger Americans' privacy.
CISPA may have cleared the U.S. House of Representatives, but the fight isn't over. It's shifted to the U.S. Senate. Here's CNET's FAQ on what you need to know about this particularly controversial Internet bill.

It took a debate that stretched to nearly seven hours, and votes on over a dozen amendments, but the U.S. House of Representatives finally approved the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act on April 26.

Passions flared on both sides before the final vote on CISPA, which cleared the House by a comfortable margin of 248 to 168.

CISPA would "waive every single privacy law ever enacted in the name of cybersecurity," Rep. Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat and onetime Web entrepreneur, said during the debate. "Allowing the military and NSA to spy on Americans on American soil goes against every principle this country was founded on."

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and author of CISPA, responded by telling his colleagues to ignore "all the things they're saying about the bill that are not true." He pleaded: "Stand for America! Support this bill!"

While CISPA initially wasn't an especially partisan bill -- it cleared the House Intelligence Committee by a vote of 17 to 1 last December -- it gradually moved in that direction. The final tally was 206 Republicans voting for it, and 28 opposed. Of the Democrats, 42 voted for CISPA and 140 were opposed. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said afterward on Twitter that CISPA "didn't strike the right balance" and Republicans "didn't allow amendments to strengthen privacy protections."

The ACLU, on the other hand, told CNET that the amendments -- even if they had been allowed -- would not have been effective. "They just put the veneer of privacy protections on the bill, and will garner more support for the bill even without making substantial changes," said Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel for the ACLU.

Keep reading for some more details from CNET's FAQ about what you need to know about CISPA.

How likely is it that when Uncle "Big Brother" Sam come knocking on the door for your information, these companies will not "agree" to turn it over?

War Whore

Obama Approves More Drone Attacks In Yemen - Even If They Don't Know Who It Is They're Killing

The drone-happy President authorizes attacks on people in Yemen even when their names are not known.

Iraq Drone
© Salon
Ten days ago, I wrote about a request made by CIA Director David Petraeus to expand the drone war in Yemen in accordance with the following, as expressed by the first paragraph of The Washington Post article reporting it:

WaPo report clip

At the time, I wrote that "it's unclear whether Obama will approve Petraeus' request for the use of 'signature strikes' in Yemen," though that was true only in the most technical sense. It was virtually impossible to imagine that a request from David Petraeus, of all people, to Barack Obama, of all people, for authority to target even more people in Yemen for death, now without even knowing who they are, would be anything but quickly and eagerly approved. And that is exactly what has now happened, as the Post's Greg Miller reports today:


Depleted Uranium, White Phosphorous and The Deformed Children of Fallujah - Know nothing. See nothing. Say nothing.

Iraq  Sayef Ala’a
Five-year-old Sayef Ala’a with his father who hopes that foreign surgeons can rebuild his son’s ear
Special Report day three: Abandoned and afraid, the parents of Iraq's suffering children wait in vain for help

"He needs multiple surgery outside Iraq. It's a dysfunctional problem. He has no hearing in his left ear. They told me he has to be six before they can remove cartilage from his chest wall to put in his ear. All operations have to be outside Iraq to beautify the ear and give him his hearing."

And all the while his father talks, five-year-old Sayef Ala'a sits obediently on the sofa beside us, doing as his father tells him, moving his head to show us the scrappy bit of flesh that constitutes his left ear, tipping his head to one side so we can take pictures of it. Compared to other children with birth deformities, Sayef Ala'a is lucky. He can see, breathe, walk, run, play and listen to his father and friends with his right ear. And he is a little boy of much courage.


A Hospital of Horrors: The Deformed Children of Fallujah

Fallujah General Hospital
© Getty ImagesDr Aiman Qeis cares for babies at Fallujah General Hospital, which has a high rate of children born with congenital defects
Special Report day two: Stillbirths, disabilities, deformities too distressing to describe - what lies behind the torments in Fallujah General Hospital?

The pictures flash up on a screen on an upper floor of the Fallujah General Hospital. And all at once, Nadhem Shokr al-Hadidi's administration office becomes a little chamber of horrors. A baby with a hugely deformed mouth. A child with a defect of the spinal cord, material from the spine outside the body. A baby with a terrible, vast Cyclopean eye. Another baby with only half a head, stillborn like the rest, date of birth 17 June, 2009. Yet another picture flicks onto the screen: date of birth 6 July 2009, it shows a tiny child with half a right arm, no left leg, no genitalia.

"We see this all the time now," Al-Hadidi says, and a female doctor walks into the room and glances at the screen. She has delivered some of these still-born children. "I've never seen anything as bad as this in all my service," she says quietly. Al-Hadidi takes phone calls, greets visitors to his office, offers tea and biscuits to us while this ghastly picture show unfolds on the screen. I asked to see these photographs, to ensure that the stillborn children, the deformities, were real. There's always a reader or a viewer who will mutter the word "propaganda" under their breath.

But the photographs are a damning, ghastly reward for such doubts. January 7, 2010: a baby with faded, yellow skin and misshapen arms. April 26, 2010: a grey mass on the side of the baby's head. A doctor beside me speaks of "Tetralogy of Fallot", a transposition of the great blood vessels. May 3, 2010: a frog-like creature in which - the Fallujah doctor who came into the room says this - "all the abdominal organs are trying to get outside the body."

This is too much. These photographs are too awful, the pain and emotion of them - for the poor parents, at least - impossible to contemplate. They simply cannot be published.


Police State: "Robots R'US": Military-Style Drones on 63 Military Bases In The USA

drone 3
© n/a
It's easy to understand why Presidents, politicians and the military love robots. They don't talk back. They follow orders. You press a button and they do what they are told. They are considered so efficient, and so lethal.

These modern killing machines represent science fiction reborn as science 'faction.'

Robots and drones don't burn Korans or pose with the heads of their captives on the battlefield. (Robots also don't protest wars.) Lose the human factor and you get silent but deadly total destruction.

And that's why drone warfare has become such a weapon of choice. You have video game jockeys sitting on their asses in front of consoles of digital displays at an Air Force base outside Las Vegas, targeting suspected terrorists in Afghanistan. After a couple of quick kills, they take the rest of the day off.

It's only later, that we get the reports of civilians decimated as collateral damage.


These new lethal toys are used both for surveillance and targeted assassinations.

Brick Wall

Scientists continue to be muzzled by Canada's Harper government

Stephen Harper Canada scientists
© Reuters/Chris WattieHarperPrime Minister Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons.
Harper government 'muzzlers' are on the prowl at an international polar conference about everything from seabirds to arctic ice.

According to an article by PostMedia News, media instructions have been sent to the Environment Canada researchers attending the week long meeting in Montreal.

"If you are approached by the media, ask them for their business card and tell them that you will get back to them with a time for (an) interview," the Environment Canada scientists were told by email late last week.

"Send a message to your media relations contact and they will organize the interview. They will most probably be with you during the interview to assist and record," says the email obtained by Postmedia News.

The memo, signed by Kristina Fickes, an Environment Canada senior communications adviser, goes on to say that recordings of interviews are to be forwarded to the department's media relations headquarters in Ottawa. Fickes signs off with a signature tagline that says: "Let the sun shine in :)"

This isn't the first time Canadian scientists have been muzzled.

Comment: Once again, Harper takes a leaf from the US playbook on how to deal with dissident voices.

Arrow Up

Robert Wenzel's Speech At The Federal Reserve Bank

At the invitation of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, I spoke and had lunch in the bank's Liberty Room. Below are my prepared remarks.

money graphic
© n/a
Thank you very much for inviting me to speak here at the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

Intellectual discourse is, of course, extraordinarily valuable in reaching truth. In this sense, I welcome the opportunity to discuss my views on the economy and monetary policy and how they may differ with those of you here at the Fed.

That said, I suspect my views are so different from those of you here today that my comments will be a complete failure in convincing you to do what I believe should be done, which is to close down the entire Federal Reserve System

My views, I suspect, differ from beginning to end. From the proper methodology to be used in the science of economics, to the manner in which the macro-economy functions, to the role of the Federal Reserve, and to the accomplishments of the Federal Reserve, I stand here confused as to how you see the world so differently than I do.

I simply do not understand most of the thinking that goes on here at the Fed and I do not understand how this thinking can go on when in my view it smacks up against reality.

Please allow me to begin with methodology, I hold the view developed by such great economic thinkers as Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and Murray Rothbard that there are no constants in the science of economics similar to those in the physical sciences.

In the science of physics, we know that water freezes at 32 degrees. We can predict with immense accuracy exactly how far a rocket ship will travel filled with 500 gallons of fuel. There is preciseness because there are constants, which do not change and upon which equations can be constructed..

There are no such constants in the field of economics since the science of economics deals with human action, which can change at any time. If potato prices remain the same for 10 weeks, it does not mean they will be the same the following day. I defy anyone in this room to provide me with a constant in the field of economics that has the same unchanging constancy that exists in the fields of physics or chemistry.

And yet, in paper after paper here at the Federal Reserve, I see equations built as though constants do exist. It is as if one were to assume a constant relationship existed between interest rates here and in Russia and throughout the world, and create equations based on this belief and then attempt to trade based on these equations. That was tried and the result was the blow up of the fund Long Term Capital Management, a blow up that resulted in high level meetings in this very building.

It is as if traders assumed a given default rate was constant for subprime mortgage paper and traded on that belief. Only to see it blow up in their faces, as it did, again, with intense meetings being held in this very building.

Yet, the equations, assuming constants, continue to be published in papers throughout the Fed system. I scratch my head.

Arrow Up

'United We Stand, Divided We Fall'

© Daily News, Sri Lanka
The ancient Greek storyteller Aesop told a tale in which a lion tried to attack four oxen, who would turn their tails to one another so that their horns faced the lion whichever way he approached them. However, the oxen quarrelled, and the lion attacked each separately in turn and overcame them.

At the end of each of his stories, Aesop would add an aphorism. In the case of 'The Four Oxen and the Lion', it was 'United we stand, divided we fall'. This ancient maxim holds true to this day.

It was to overcome the barrier of solidarity that Julius Caesar advocated the policy of 'divide et impera' - divide and rule - which has remained the guiding principle of imperialists up to modern times.

The imperialists of the 'Age of Imperialism' were superlative opportunists and improvisers, taking situations as they saw them and turning them to their advantage. The principle of divide and rule was applied using whatever human material came to hand, multiplying small irritations to create partitions in the colonised societies.

Conflicting populations

In Rwanda-Burundi, the Germans and their successors, the Belgians, elevated Tutsis above Hutus, creating caste conflict. In India, the British Raj put Muslim rulers over Hindu subjects and vice versa. In Nigeria, the British set the Ibos against the Hausas and in Sudan they created divisions between the Muslim North and the Christian South.

Where there was no dissension, the imperialists imported irritant populations - the prototype being Ireland, with 'plantations' of Scottish Protestants among the Roman Catholic population. The Boers were already in situ in South Africa - to be used against the Black and Coloured people. In North Africa the French settled 'Colons' from Metropolitan France among the Muslim population. In Uganda (the first 'promised land' of the Zionists led by Herzl) the British first toyed with the prospect of introducing Jews. However, Indian traders were found to fill the required niche quite well. In Sri Lanka, Malaysia and the West Indies, Indian Tamil indentured labourers were employed to divide the people at the lowest level.


27 injured as blasts rock Ukrainian city, Opposition fingers government

© Sergei Isayev/ReutersPolicemen walk at the scene of an explosion in Dnipropetrovsk, April 27, 2012.
A series of blasts rocked an eastern Ukrainian city on Friday, injuring 27 people, including nine teenagers, in what authorities say they believe was a terrorist attack.

Top law enforcement officials rushed to Dnipropetrovsk, 400 kilometres southeast of Kyiv, to investigate but there was no immediate claim of responsibility. The violence undermined Ukraine's security just weeks before it co-hosts the European soccer championships in June.

President Viktor Yanukovych vowed to investigate and punish the perpetrators.

"This is yet another challenge for us, for the whole country," Mr. Yanukovych told reporters in televised comments. "We will think of how to respond to this properly."

Ukraine has not been afflicted with political terrorism but there have been previous explosions connected to criminal extortion.

Arrow Down

Private Wall Street Ratings Agency Downgrades Spain's Credit Rating

We decide who stays poor and who becomes poorer
Standard & Poor's drops rating from A to BBB+ and warns that Spain's recession is likely to deepen by the end of the year

Spain's precarious economic situation has worsened after the ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded the country's debt and warned that its recession was likely to deepen by the end of the year.

S&P cut the rating on Spain's debt mountain by two notches, from A to BBB+. The downgrade is expected to push up the cost of borrowing immediately, as investors become increasingly worried over Madrid's inability to cut spending without sending its beleaguered economy into a deeper recession.

European leaders have feared that investors, who have watched the unfolding euro crisis over the last two years, would withdraw their support for Spain in response to the increased risk that it will be forced to accept a multi-billion-euro rescue package from Brussels.

Comment: The Spanish government is preparing for trouble:

Spain plans 'draconian' new social networking laws in street protest clampdown

Spain to Close Border for Summit of the European Central Bank