Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for December 28th, 2013

Kafka and Dickens in US government surveillance

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The US government’s determination to keep what it’s doing secret so US citizens do not know what’s being done leads to extremely odd situations, including the government’s determination that their actions not be subject to law—that is, subject to review in a court of law. Thus when the US government captures and tortures a completely innocent person, s/he cannot have any recourse because the government, which committed the crime, will not allow itself to be subject to a lawsuit. This allows the government to act as it wants with impunity—and we’ve seen many times where that leads.

A telling example is discussed in The Switch at the Washington Post by Andrea Peterson. Read the article, from which this excerpt:

. . . [Judge] Pauley is essentially saying that the targets of the order have no recourse to challenge the collection of their personal data because Congress never intended for targets to ever know that they were subject to this sort of spying. And that the fact that everyone knows about it now, thanks to Edward Snowden, doesn’t change the targets’ ability to challenge the legality of the order.

That suggests a troubling possibility: that even if there were clear-cut evidence that the government was sending out illegal 215 orders, the people harmed by the government’s illegal conduct might not have any way to stop it. Instead, the only recourse may be for the recipient of an order (such as Verizon) to challenge it in the notoriously secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. But Verizon isn’t the one whose privacy is harmed by the order, so why would it expend legal resources to fight it?

While that outcome might seem a little crazy, it’s not necessarily wrong as a matter of law. The Supreme Court has ruled in some cases, including Gonzaga v. Doe, that there can be cases where, even though the government’s actions may be illegal, the individuals harmed can’t sue to stop them. . .

This reminds me of Mr. Beadle’s complaint in Oliver Twist:

‘If the law supposes that,’ said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, ‘the law is a ass—a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience—by experience.’

Written by LeisureGuy

28 December 2013 at 12:01 pm

Despair at Guantánamo

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A very good editorial in the NY Times today, with this observation of the how Orwellian the US has become:

A petty policy change at the prison this month shows how perverse the situation has become. The military says it will no longer report the number of prisoners on hunger strike, according to a report in the Miami Herald. A spokesman for the facility said the military “will not further their protests by reporting the numbers to the public.” The numbers of detainees being force-fed by prison authorities, which dropped into the teens in recent months, offered the world a window into the prison, which has been shrouded in secrecy even though its motto is “safe, humane, legal, transparent detention.”

“Transparent” is a favorite term for the most secretive of US administrations. I think the military is acting as the military always does: cover up and deny problems.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 December 2013 at 11:31 am

What Does the Rapid Growth of Catholic Hospitals Mean for Reproductive Health?

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The entire article by Nina Martin at Pacific Standard is interesting and worth reading. It includes an interesting graph:


This is ominous. As has been reported, Catholic hospitals will allow a mother to die rather than take action to abort a fetus, even a non-viable fetus. Moreover, Catholic hospitals require all staff to follow religious dictates, not simply those who are Catholics.

Equally disturbing is the growth in for-profit hospitals. When profits become the goal, the quality of service drops and prices rise (better profits). This has been repeatedly demonstrated.

Read the entire article.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 December 2013 at 11:22 am

US EPA Nails Fracker With Record Fine

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Very hard to crack down on fracking because, as Tina Casey notes at Informed Comment:

The woes just keep piling up for Chesapeake Energy. The company is front and center in the nation’s natural gas fracking boom and it just got hit with one of the largest ever civil penalties for violating Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The penalty was levied against its subsidiary, Chesapeake Appalachia LLC.

Wait, what? We thought the fracking industry was notoriously exempt from the Clean Water Act, thanks to a loophole engineered back in 2005 by former Vice President (and former Halliburton oil company executive) Dick Cheney.

So, how’d they do that? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 December 2013 at 11:16 am

Great shave, odd nick

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STOD 28 Dec 2013

This morning I used’s No. 6 Horsehair brush again: really not a bad little brush at all. And the excellence of the lather from HTGAM’s Pumpkin 3.14 shaving soap was a great pleasure after the soupy, big-bubbled lather from Seattle Sundries shaving soap.

My Eros slant left me BBS, but in the very first pass, WTG, I got a tiny nick on my lower lip in one spot: inexplicable, but not a problem. Perhaps I’ll change the blade.

A good splash of TOBS Bay Rum and my weekend begins.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 December 2013 at 11:11 am

Posted in Shaving

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