Tag Archives: US Constitution

Comments from an OLD BLACK FART: Pressitutes not journalists

31 Oct

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD BLACK FART. Urban Dictionary defines pressititute:

presstitute

A term coined by Gerald Celente and often used by independent journalists and writers in the alternative media in reference to journalists and talking heads in the mainstream media who give biased and predetermined views in favor of the government and corporations, thus neglecting their fundamental duty of reporting news impartially. It is a portmanteau of press and prostitute.

Bishop T.D. Jakes tweets about the power of thought:

T. D. Jakes @BishopJakes
Most people’s thoughts are held captive by the influences of their past or held hostage by their environment. Research and think 4 yourself!

Moi chooses to use the Investing Answers definition of “critical mass” because when one analyzes why a Free Press is important to the information stream of a society, “critical mass” is important.

What It Is:

Critical mass refers to the size a company needs to reach in order to efficiently and competitively participate in the market. This is also the size a company must attain in order to sustain growth and efficiency.

How It Works/Example:

A company’s critical mass is determined by the size of its staff, resources, revenues, and market share. Once these elements reach the size that enables a company to operate efficiently, it is said that a company has reached its critical mass. Critical mass is the point at which a company becomes profitable.

To illustrate a company’s critical mass, consider Company XYZ which was recently formed and has been experiencing steady growth and increasing strength in the market. The company’s steady revenues allowed Company XYZ to invest in more capital and to hire additional employees. XYZ’s productivity subsequently increased and their revenues exceed their expenses: XYZ then becomes profitable. The company is said to have reached its critical mass, since its capital and human resources have reached a size at which they can sustain themselves through productive efficiency.

Why It Matters:

A company’s critical mass is important to consider because it can mean the difference between thriving and surviving in a market environment. A company that sustains profitability is safely above its critical mass. http://www.investinganswers.com/financial-dictionary/economics/critical-mass-623

In Critical thinking is an essential trait of an educated person, moi wrote:                                                                               The key is developing the idea that facts should be used to support an opinion.
The Critical Thinking Community has several great articles about critical thinking at their site. In the section, Defining Critical Thinking:

A Definition

Critical thinking is that mode of thinking – about any subject, content, or problem – in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them.

The Result

A well cultivated critical thinker:

• raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely;
• gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
• thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
• communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.

Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism. (Taken from Richard Paul and Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Foundation for Critical Thinking Press, 2008). http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/766 http://drwilda.com/2012/01/22/critical-thinking-is-an-essential-trait-of-an-educated-person/

Critical mass, journalism and education are intertwined if one thinks the critical issue is how to get peopleto fully participate in the political process, especially when their participation in the political process is key to the society’s movement up the economic ladder and democratic development.

Moi wrote about “group think” in Penn State: An example of ‘groupthink’ The University of Oregon has a great synopsis of “groupthink.”
In Groupthink, the synopsis describes the key elements of “groupthink.”

Groupthink occurs when a homogenous highly cohesive group is so concerned with maintaining unanimity that they fail to evaluate all their alternatives and options. Groupthink members see themselves as part of an in-group working against an outgroup opposed to their goals. You can tell if a group suffers from groupthink if it:

1. overestimates its invulnerability or high moral stance,
2. collectively rationalizes the decisions it makes,
3. demonizes or stereotypes outgroups and their leaders,
4. has a culture of uniformity where individuals censor themselves and others so that the facade of group unanimty is maintained, and
5. contains members who take it upon themselves to protect the group leader by keeping information, theirs or other group members’, from the leader.

Groups engaged in group think tend to make faulty decisions when compared to the decisions that could have been reached using a fair, open, and rational decision-making process. Group thinking groups tend to:

1. fail to adequately determine their objectives and alternatives,
2. fail to adequately assess the risks associated with the group’s decision,
3. fail to cycle through discarded alternatives to reexamine their worth after a majority of the group discarded the alternative,
4. not seek expert advice,
5. select and use only information that supports their position and conclusions, and
6. does not make contigency plans in case their decision and resulting actions fail. http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/theory/grpthink.html

The Founders of the U.S. Constitution recognized the importance of a Free Press and attempted to guarantee an Free Press by enacting the First Amendment. The Pressitutes have Voluntarily given up much of the Freedom they have been granted.

According to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics:

Seek Truth and Report It

Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

Journalists should:
– Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible.
– Remember that neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy.
– Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.
– Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story.
– Be cautious when making promises, but keep the promises they make.
– Identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.
– Consider sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Reserve anonymity for sources who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Explain why anonymity was grante– Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.
– Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the public.
– Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.
– Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant. – Recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. Seek to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.
– Provide access to source material when it is relevant and appropriate.
– Boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear.
– Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.
– Label advocacy and commentary.
– Never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments.
– Never plagiarize. Always attribute.

Minimize Harm…….                                                                                                                                                   http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.
George S. Patton

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Cybersecurity: We Still Have A Constitution? Right?

18 Dec

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: This change in law may have slipped your notice because the change was not carried out with public discussion or even notice. By the stroke of a pen, the government was given sweeping powers to collect information about Americans.

Kim Zetter reports in the Wired article, Attorney General Secretly Granted Gov. Ability to Develop and Store Dossiers on Innocent Americans:

In a secret government agreement granted without approval or debate from lawmakers, the U.S. attorney general recently gave the National Counterterrorism Center sweeping new powers to store dossiers on U.S. citizens, even if they are not suspected of a crime, according to a news report.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder granted the center the ability to copy entire government databases holding information on flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and other data, and to store it for up to five years, even without suspicion that someone in the database has committed a crime, according to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story.

Whereas previously the law prohibited the center from storing data compilations on U.S. citizens unless they were suspected of terrorist activity or were relevant to an ongoing terrorism investigation, the new powers give the center the ability to not only collect and store vast databases of information but also to trawl through and analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior in order to uncover activity that could launch an investigation.

The changes granted by Holder would also allow databases containing information about U.S. citizens to be shared with foreign governments for their own analysis….

The NCTC currently maintains the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment database, or TIDE, which holds data on more than 500,000 identities suspected of terror activity or terrorism links, including friends and families of suspects, and is the basis for the FBI’s terrorist watchlist.

Under the new rules issued in March, the NCTC can now obtain almost any other government database that it claims is “reasonably believed” to contain “terrorism information.” This could conceivably include collections of financial forms submitted by people seeking federally backed mortgages or even the health records of anyone who sought mental or physical treatment at government-run hospitals, such as Veterans Administration facilities, the paper notes.

The Obama administration’s new rules come after previous surveillance proposals were struck down during the Bush administration, following widespread condemnation.

In 2002, the Pentagon’s Total Information Awareness program proposed to scrutinize both government and private databases, but public outrage killed the program in essence, though not in spirit. Although Congress de-funded the program in 2003, the NSA continued to collect and sift through immense amounts of data about who Americans spoke with, where they traveled and how they spent their money.

The Federal Privacy Act prohibits government agencies from sharing data for any purpose other than the reason for which the data was initially collected, in order to prevent the creation of dossiers, but agencies can do an end-run around this restriction by posting a notice in the Federal Register, providing justification for the data request. Such notices are rarely seen or contested, however….

But the request to expand the center’s powers led to a heated debate at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security, with Mary Ellen Callahan, then-chief privacy officer for the Department of Homeland Security, leading the charge to defend civil liberties. Callahan argued that the new rules represented a “sea change” and that every interaction a citizen would have with the government in the future would be ruled by the underlying question, is that person a terrorist?

Callahan lost her battle, however, and subsequently left her job, though it’s not known if her struggle over the NCTC debate played a role in her decision to leave.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) weighed in with the article, U.S. Terrorism Agency to Tap a Vast Database of Citizens, written by Julia Angwin:

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution says that searches of “persons, houses, papers and effects” shouldn’t be conducted without “probable cause” that a crime has been committed. But that doesn’t cover records the government creates in the normal course of business with citizens.

Congress specifically sought to prevent government agents from rifling through government files indiscriminately when it passed the Federal Privacy Act in 1974. The act prohibits government agencies from sharing data with each other for purposes that aren’t “compatible” with the reason the data were originally collected.

But the Federal Privacy Act allows agencies to exempt themselves from many requirements by placing notices in the Federal Register, the government’s daily publication of proposed rules. In practice, these privacy-act notices are rarely contested by government watchdogs or members of the public. “All you have to do is publish a notice in the Federal Register and you can do whatever you want,” says Robert Gellman, a privacy consultant who advises agencies on how to comply with the Privacy Act.

As a result, the National Counterterrorism Center program’s opponents within the administration—led by Ms. Callahan of Homeland Security—couldn’t argue that the program would violate the law. Instead, they were left to question whether the rules were good policy.

Under the new rules issued in March, the National Counterterrorism Center, known as NCTC, can obtain almost any database the government collects that it says is “reasonably believed” to contain “terrorism information.” The list could potentially include almost any government database, from financial forms submitted by people seeking federally backed mortgages to the health records of people who sought treatment at Veterans Administration hospitals.

Previous government proposals to scrutinize massive amounts of data about innocent people have caused an uproar. In 2002, the Pentagon’s research arm proposed a program called Total Information Awareness that sought to analyze both public and private databases for terror clues. It would have been far broader than the NCTC’s current program, examining many nongovernmental pools of data as well.

“If terrorist organizations are going to plan and execute attacks against the United States, their people must engage in transactions and they will leave signatures,” the program’s promoter, Admiral John Poindexter, said at the time. “We must be able to pick this signal out of the noise.”

Adm. Poindexter’s plans drew fire from across the political spectrum over the privacy implications of sorting through every single document available about U.S. citizens. Conservative columnist William Safire called the plan a “supersnoop’s dream.” Liberal columnist Molly Ivins suggested it could be akin to fascism. Congress eventually defunded the program.

The National Counterterrorism Center’s ideas faced no similar public resistance. For one thing, the debate happened behind closed doors. In addition, unlike the Pentagon, the NCTC was created in 2004 specifically to use data to connect the dots in the fight against terrorism.

Even after eight years in existence, the agency isn’t well known. “We’re still a bit of a startup and still having to prove ourselves,” said director Matthew Olsen in a rare public appearance this summer at the Aspen Institute, a leadership think tank…

The agency’s best-known product is a database called TIDE, which stands for the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment. TIDE contains more than 500,000 identities suspected of terror links. Some names are known or suspected terrorists; others are terrorists’ friends and families; still more are people with some loose affiliation to a terrorist….

Mr. Brennan considered the arguments. And within a few days, the attorney general, Eric Holder, had signed the new guidelines. The Justice Department declined to comment about the debate over the guidelines.

Under the new rules, every federal agency must negotiate terms under which it would hand over databases to NCTC. This year, Ms. Callahan left Homeland Security for private practice, and Ms. Libin left the Justice Department to join a private firm.

Homeland Security is currently working out the details to give the NCTC three data sets—the airline-passenger database known as APIS; another airline-passenger database containing information about non-U.S. citizen visitors to the U.S.; and a database about people seeking refugee asylum. It previously agreed to share databases containing information about foreign-exchange students and visa applications.

Once the terms are set, Homeland Security is likely to post a notice in the Federal Register. The public can submit comments to the Federal Register about proposed changes, although Homeland Security isn’t required to make changes based on the comments.

Three Years of WSJ Privacy Insights

The Wall Street Journal is conducting a long-running investigation into the profound transformation of personal privacy in America.

Selected findings:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324478304578171623040640006.html

US Legal has a concise definition of the “right to privacy.”

According to US Legal in Right to Privacy Law & Legal Definition:

The right to privacy is the right to be let alone, in the absence of some “reasonable” public interest in a person’s activities, like those of celebrities or participants in newsworthy events. Invasion of the right to privacy can be the basis for a lawsuit for damages against the person or entity violating the right.

The right to privacy is not mentioned in the Constitution, but the Supreme Court has interpreted several of the amendments as creating this right. One of the amendments is the Fourth Amendment, which stops the police and other government agents from searching us or our property without “probable cause” to believe that we have committed a crime. Other amendments protect our freedom to make certain decisions about our bodies and our private lives without interference from the government. The due process clause of the 14th amendment generally only protects privacy of family, marriage, motherhood, procreation, and child rearing. http://definitions.uslegal.com/r/right-to-privacy/

We Still Have A Constitution? Right?

Resources:

What type of cybersecurity information does the government want?                                                                     http://killerapps.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/10/02/what_type_of_cybersecurity_information_does_the_government_want

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Standing up for the First Amendment

22 Sep

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Moi believes that the U.S. Constitution is worth fighting for by speaking out in favor of the U.S. Constitution and particularly the rights guaranteed by the FIRST AMENDMENT. One of the reasons that moi WILL be voting for Gov. Romney is moi’s assessment that his philosophy is more likely to favor protection of the rights guaranteed by the FIRST AMENDMENT. Now, let’s get to the back story behind the organized protests. Moi listened to Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice on ‘This Week’ and girlfriend defended the administration’s response to the riots, but was clueless about the importance of the U.S. Constitution and the fact that the U.S. should be promoting the concept of FREE SPEECH :’Islamic states to reopen quest for ‘global blasphemy law’

‘(Reuters) – A leading Islamic organization signaled on Wednesday that it will revive long-standing attempts to make insults against religions an international criminal offence.

The bid follows uproar across the Muslim world over a crude Internet video clip filmed in the United States and cartoons in a French satirical magazine that lampoon the Prophet Mohammad.

But it appears unlikely to win acceptance from Western countries determined to resist restrictions on freedom of speech and already concerned about the repressive effect of blasphemy laws in Muslim countries such as Pakistan.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said the international community should “come out of hiding from behind the excuse of freedom of expression”, a reference to Western arguments against a universal blasphemy law that the OIC has sought for over a decade.

He said the “deliberate, motivated and systematic abuse of this freedom” were a danger to global security and stability.

Separately, the Human Rights Commission of the OIC, which has 57 members and is based in Saudi Arabia, said “growing intolerance towards Muslims” had to be checked and called for “an international code of conduct for media and social media to disallow the dissemination of incitement material”.

Western countries have long argued that such measures would run counter to the U.N.’s core human rights declaration on freedom of expression and could even open the door to curbs on academic research.

As if to underline the point, a conference in Geneva of the World Council of Churches (WCC), which groups the world’s major Protestant, Orthodox and Evangelical churches, urged Pakistan to abolish its blasphemy law, which carries a possible death penalty.

Critics say the law is widely misused to persecute non-Muslims, and cite this month’s case of a Muslim cleric detained on suspicion of planting evidence suggesting that a 14-year-old girl had burned Islamic religious texts.’PEECH and the FREEDOM TO PRACTICE ONE”S RELIGION as an aspirational goal worldwide. Instead, this administration appears to be caving and at least in theory may be willing to limit the protections of U.S. citizens. What is moi talking about, well it’s the ‘Global Blasphemy Law.

Moi doesn’t care what your party or political affiliation is, in moi’s opinion, if you can’t make a strong defense in favor of the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution-you are clueless about what is really going on. The U.S. Constitution is worth defending.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/19/us-protests-religions-blasphemy-idUSBRE88I1EG20120919