Later On

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

Archive for July 10th, 2014

Some interesting states on where Obamacare stands

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Paul Krugman has a good blog post with links to graphs and stats about Obamacare. From one of his links:


Written by LeisureGuy

10 July 2014 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Government, Healthcare

New York State to Pay Millions in Wrongful Conviction Case

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I personally want the former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles “Joe” Hynes and one of his top aides, Michael Vecchione, to serve a MINIMUM of 12 years in the state maximum security prison. It seems only fair.

Here’s the (somewhat depressing) story.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 July 2014 at 3:14 pm

How the War on Drugs and the War on Terror Merged Into One Disastrous War on All Americans

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Alex Kane reports at AlterNet:

It was 1971 when President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one in the United States.” With those words, Nixon ushered in the “war on drugs,” the attempt to use law enforcement to jail drug users and halt the flow of illegal substances like marijuana and cocaine.

Thirty years later, another president, George W. Bush, declared war on another word: terrorism. But the war on drugs hadn’t ended yet. Instead of one failed war replacing another soon-to-be-failed war, both drugs and terrorism remain targets for law enforcement and military action that have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and have cost billions of dollars.

In fact, the war on terror and the war on drugs have merged to form a hydra-headed monster that rapaciously targets Americans, particularly communities of color. Tactics and legislation used to fight terrorism in the U.S. have been turned on drug users, with disastrous consequences measured in lives, limbs and cash. And money initially used to combat drugs has been spent on the war on terror. From the Patriot Act to the use of informants to surveillance, the wars on drugs and terror have melted into one another.

On Oct. 26, 2011, after remarkably little debate, President Bush signed the USA Patriot Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001) into law. Some elected officials admitted they hadn’t read the entire legislation before voting on it. The Patriot Act was renewed in 2011 by President Barack Obama.

The purpose of the legislation was “to deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world [and] to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools.” Buried in the act is a hint that the wars on terror and drugs were being paired. The Patriot Act appropriated $5 million to the Drug Enforcement Administration to train Turkish forces in anti-drug measures and to increase the apprehension of drugs in South and Central Asia.

Even more significant was Section 213 of the act, which legitimizes what are known as “sneak and peek warrants.” These warrants, approved by a judge, allow the police to enter into a home without notifying the suspect in that home for at least 30 days—90 days if a judge is convinced the police need it. The 90-day extensions can be repeatedly re-authorized. Authorities are able to enter a home or office, rifle through private property and take photographs all without the suspect knowing, which is contrary to how normal warrants work. While “sneak and peek” authority was allowed in limited cases before the 2001 legislation, the Patriot Act has dramatically expanded its use. And the vast majority of cases where it’s used had nothing to do with terrorism, despite the FBI’s claim that the warrants are an “invaluable tool to fight terrorism.”

From October 2009 to September 2010, law enforcement agents executed . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 July 2014 at 12:32 pm

Should the NSA be spying on innocent people?

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Amy Davidson has a good column in the New Yorker:

 What counts as an American name? A report by Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain, at the Intercept, says that the N.S.A. and F.B.I. have “covertly monitored the emails of prominent Muslim-Americans,” and names five of them. They are real Americans—men like Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Hooshang Amirahmadi, a professor at Rutgers. Then there is a fake name that appears in another document cited in the Intercept piece, apparently related to N.S.A. training—someone’s idea of a useful example of a potential surveillance target: “Mohammed Raghead.”

The Intercept found the addresses of the Americans on a spreadsheet called “FISA Recap.” The document’s title suggests that the N.S.A. at least got warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, which operates in secret, before it tracked and, presumably, read e-mails connected to these addresses. That raises some questions about the court and its standards. The N.S.A. is meant to spy on foreigners, not those whom are designated as “U.S. persons” (citizens and legal residents). The exception is when the agency has enough evidence to persuade the FISA judges that its American targets are involved in illegal foreign-terrorism activities. As the Intercept notes, we do not know what evidence the government did or did not have. We are often told that the FISA court is extraordinarily careful. Here is a measure of that care: one of the headings on the spreadsheet is “nationality.” For an address belonging to Faisal Gill, a veteran of the Navy and the Bush Administration, who has been a U.S. person since childhood, that entry was “unknown.” The spreadsheet contained fifty-five hundred and one entries; four hundred and eighty-two were identified as “unknown.”

“Unknown” can sound mysterious; or maybe it’s just another word for reckless disregard for the privacy of Americans. In a report in the Washington Post over the Fourth of July weekend, Barton Gellman, Julie Tate, and Ashkan Soltani examined a “large cache of intercepted communications.” (Like the “FISA Recap,” they were among the documents leaked by Edward Snowden, a former N.S.A. contractor.) In this cache, which “came from domestic NSA operations,” the Post found that nearly half the files “contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents.” The N.S.A. is supposed to “minimize” the harm when it “incidentally” spies on Americans; the Post found nine hundred instances, in this sample, in which that was not done. And even minimizing can leave plenty in the government’s files—never mind that some agent may have already read about your views on your boss or your friends or your political associations before having the belated revelation that you are an American.

“Many other files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality,” according to the Post. “The daily lives of more than ten thousand account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.” (Some other information did look very useful, but came with “collateral harm to privacy on a scale that the Obama administration has not been willing to address.”) The cache contained chat transcripts, medical records, and “academic transcripts of schoolchildren”: “Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers.” Do acts of intimacy have to double as performances of innocence for the N.S.A.?

The activities that expose Americans to surveillance are explicitly not supposed to include actions related to the First Amendment, like speech or advocacy, or, say, running for office, which Faisal Gill was doing at the time he was spied on. (He got the Republican nomination for a seat in Virginia’s legislature.) A couple of the men have sued the government or were involved with groups that did, or have been the attorneys for foreign governments in U.S. courts. Nihad Awad has been viewed as controversial because of statements, years ago, seen as sympathetic to Hamas. None of this, according to what we’ve been told are FISA’s extraordinary standards, is supposed to be enough to let someone in the government read the e-mails that people send at work, or to clients, or to someone they love. A reason for the standards is the miserable experience that the United States has had with domestic spying; some relevant names there are Martin Luther King, Jr., and J. Edgar Hoover.

What is most striking about theses five men is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 July 2014 at 12:28 pm

British electrical plugs better than those in the US

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Here’s why:

Written by LeisureGuy

10 July 2014 at 12:19 pm

A couple of small nicks, but nice Stirling lather

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SOTD 10 July 2014

I do like the fragrance of Stirling’s Bonaparte shaving soap, and I did get a good lather today using the damp-brush method. The DLC slant was again quite nice, but I got a few nicks (lower and upper lip, XTG). Tomorrow I’ll trying using a new blade and see whether that might be the issue: the Lab Blue blades might have a short lifespan.

A touch of My Nik Is Sealed stopped the nicks, and a good splash of Stirling’s Lemon Chill sent me on my way.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 July 2014 at 11:45 am

Posted in Shaving

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