Category Archives: Free Speech

NSA’s FISA Festivities Extended with Bipartisan Support; Rest of Government Fights for Funding–Updated with Related FBI Dereliction of Duty

In a two-hour marathon vote January 16,  a visibly humiliated Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell scraped together 60 votes to vote on the six-year re-authorization of FISA Section 702 without allowing amendments.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 gives the NSA authority to ignore the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and collect phone logs of all Americans, as revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013, because they could all be terrorists.

Claire McCaskill (D-MO), up for re-election this November, fought flu symptoms to cast the sixtieth vote to forgo any debate of the re-authorization and advance to a final vote.

That January 18 vote exceeded the simple majority required, flipping four senators who had advocated debate to “yea”–Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jerry Moran (R-KS),  Chuck Schumer (D-NY)–and picking up Dan Sullivan (R-AK), who missed the filibuster vote:

Trump signed the bill January 19, proclaiming on Twitter: “Just signed 702 Bill to reauthorize foreign intelligence collection. This is NOT the same FISA law that was so wrongly abused during the election. I will always do the right thing for our country and put the safety of the American people first!”

This represented quite a reversal from his January 11 tweet, in which he quoted a headline: “[‘]House votes on controversial FISA ACT today.[‘] This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?”

In an exclusive Fox News interview, chief of staff John Kelly assumed credit for changing his boss’s mind:

“I see a man who can change his mind when the facts and data and staff … bring him to a different conclusion.”

The House had passed the matching version of the bill on January 11 by 256-164, after rejecting an amendment by Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Justin Amash (R-MI) to add the barest of privacy protections for American communications “incidentally” caught up in the surveillance of foreign agents for which the secret FISA court that now allows stockpiling all American communications by the Federal Government was originally established.

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On January 19, Politico reported NSA was sitting on some surveillance data pertaining to pending lawsuits, “accidentally” destroyed that data, and misled a federal court about their actions.

Related:

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: May 12: NSA, “Exploits,” WannaCry and Whistleblowers

Apparently, in addition to hoarding all our phone logs, NSA is obligated to preserve their ill-gotten, privacy-destroying goodies from our internet traffic, since 2007 when George W. Bush was slammed for warrantless wiretaps of foreigners. How far we’ve come.

But Dr. Mark O. and Elizabeth B. (they’re your employees and they watch you, but you’re not allowed to know their real names) revealed–apparently hours before the above-detailed FISA renewal–that legally-mandated logs of intercepted internet traffic from years 2001 through 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2016 were all deleted. And the backup tapes. Oops.

“The NSA sincerely regrets its failure to prevent the deletion of this data.”

In 2014, Miriam P. reassured the court that legally-must-be-retained data was safe:

The NSA is “preserving magnetic/digital tapes of the Internet content intercepted under the [PSP] since the inception of the program,” she wrote, adding that “the NSA has stored these tapes in the offices of its General Counsel.”

The agency now says, “regrettably,” that the statement “may have been only partially accurate when made.”

The latest NSA filing says the ongoing investigation indicates that officials did a “physical inspection” in 2014 to confirm the tapes’ presence in the counsel’s office storage space. However, “those tapes largely concerned metadata,” not the content of communications the NSA intercepted.

[our emphasis]

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The continued collection of all Americans’ communications without a warrant (despite petty assurances from McConnell, after dragging the bill over a bipartisan filibuster, that the six-year renewal “does not allow the targeting of American citizens”) took precedence over shielding DACA participants from deportation. And funding the government itself, which shut down all “non-essential functions” on January 20.

Obama Proposes Addressing Debt After He’s Gone and Collecting Pension in Hawaii

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Members of Congress, hiding behind the 27th Amendment, will continue to cash paychecks.

The House passed a band-aid bill to fund the government for four weeks and renew CHIP, a recently-expired insurance program for children ineligible for Medicaid, but the Senate rejected it, largely at the behest of of Democrats, leading to many Republicans, including Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, dubbing the debacle the “Schumer Shutdown,” despite the minority leader (below) offering Trump two bipartisan deals Friday morning (after assuring all citizens’ phone and email data was still open for Federal probing).

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, after meeting with President Donald Trump on Friday.

Schumer even admitted on the Senate floor he had offered to entertain Trump’s border wall in one proposed bill in exchange for the DACA protections.

Priority one: taking. Priority two: watching.

BuzzFeed, incidentally, spoke with a former NSA employee, who lamented that the agency’s contractor morale will suffer, because they could be vacationing in nicer weather if not for the uncertainty of furlough. The headline literally used the word “suffering.”)

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UPDATE 1/21/18:

It was quite a weekend for government security dropping the ball. Reuters noted the FBI lost some text messages probing Hillary’s Secret Server.

Agent Peter Strzok and attorney Lisa Page reportedly dragged on a text convo from just after Trump’s election through last May. The FBI fingered its “technical system” for “failing to preserve” missives that may have focused D.C. on the newly-inaugurated president–and away from the criminal behavior of his rival.

Republicans have said the texts, which referred to Trump as an “idiot” and a “loathsome human,” raised concerns the FBI is biased against Trump and may have given Clinton favorable treatment after deciding not to recommend criminal charges in connection with the probe into her use of a private email system while she was secretary of state.

Page and Strzok (below) both did time on Robert Mueller‘s squad to investigate Trump’s possible collusion with Russia to win the White House. Strzok was reassigned as soon as Mueller learned of the texts; Page finished work for the probe in July. It’s unclear whether either was vetted for impartiality to work for the Special Counsel.

peter strzok, lisa page

Fox News reported Page texted Strzok following Loretta Lynch‘s sleazy meeting with Hillary’s husband during the investigation:

“It’s a real profile in couragw [sic], since [Lynch] knows no charges will be brought.”

Days later, Hillary was cleared by then-FBI director James Comey.

BREAKING NEWS

According to Heavy:

“God Hillary should win 100,000,000 – 0,” Strzok wrote to Page, according to one message obtained by Politico. “Also did you hear [Trump] make a comment about the size of his d*ck earlier? This man can not be president,” Page responded, Politico reported.

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article195420669.html

https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=115&session=2&vote=00011#top

https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/20/16913534/president-donald-trump-signed-fisa-amendments-reauthorization-act-of-2017-section-702

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/01/18/senate-votes-to-approve-reauthorization-controversial-fisa-surveillance-provision.html

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/12/politics/fisa-surveillance-weird-politics/index.html

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/19/nsa-deletes-surveillance-data-351730

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/1/20/16912726/trump-shutdown

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/369889-schumer-says-he-offered-to-discuss-wall-as-part-of-trump-deal

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-fbi-clinton/senator-says-fbi-lost-crucial-texts-tied-to-clinton-probe-idUSKBN1FA15O?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/01/21/newly-released-texts-between-ex-mueller-team-members-suggest-knew-outcome-clinton-email-probe-in-advance.html

Peter Strzok’s Texts & Emails to Lisa Page Revealed: READ

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! September 5: Rhodes’ House Attempts to Rewrite History; John Brennan’s New Gig; Chik-fil-A Denied Fordham University Location; Hillary’s Hack Humiliated

The National Holocaust Museum (recent landing pad for smug press-manipulator and American-sponsored Fidel Castro funeral attendee Ben Rhodes, national security adviser in the waning days of the Obama administration) withdrew a study that reportedly softened the blame on Obama for America’s complacency in the face of Bashar al-Assad‘s Syrian genocide.

Obama Pays Respects to Anti-American Communist Killer Fidel Castro

 

The study, originally slated for release on September 11, argued that “a variety of factors, which were more or less fixed, made it very difficult from the beginning for the US government to take effective action to prevent atrocities in Syria, even compared with other [STUPID PHRASE ALERT] challenging policy contexts:

Using computational modeling and game theory methods, as well as interviews with experts and policymakers, the report asserted that greater support for the anti-Assad rebels and US strikes on the Assad regime after the August 2013 Ghouta chemical weapons attack would not have reduced atrocities in the country, and might conceivably have contributed to them.

[…]

“The first thing I have to say is: Shame on the Holocaust Museum,” said Leon Wieseltier, the literary critic and fellow at the Brookings Institution, who slammed the Museum for “releasing an allegedly scientific study that justifies bystanderism.”

The Museum’s exercise in counter-factual history, he suggested, was inherently absurd. “If I had the time I would gin up a parody version of this that will give us the computational-modeling algorithmic counterfactual analysis of John J McCloy’s decision not to bomb the Auschwitz ovens in 1944. I’m sure we could concoct the fucking algorithms for that, too.”

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! Fighting Death with Destruction–April 6

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: May 26: Speaking of Syria…

America started “surveillance” missions against ISIS in Syria three years ago. It is unclear how many troops are deployed there now (Politico reported 500 in August), but Trump’s attack of the Shayrat air fields in April (in response to Assad’s Khan Shaykhun chemical attack) was apparently our first “direct military action” amidst the genocide. This does not include the thousands of bombs we lay on Syria annually to create more refugees help.

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Another Obama-era hack, Constitution-trampling former CIA Director John Brennan (below) became a “Distinguished Fellow for Global Security” at Fordham University’s Law School.

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National Security

The private New York City institution recently backed off a proposal to bring Chik-fil-A to campus after several student groups, including the Rainbow Alliance and the United Student Government, objected.

Fordham Observer:

Representatives from Chik-Fil-A offered to collaboratively run unspecified programming with the Rainbow Alliance in conjunction with the rollout of a venue on campus. Due to continued concerns regarding this issue, however, the Rainbow Alliance unanimously voted against the proposal. Several students independently reached out to USG to voice their concerns, according to then-USG president Leighton Magoon, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’17.

“If they want to bring in Chick-Fil-A, they can bring in Chick-Fil-A,” Renata Francesco, FCLC ’19 and Rainbow Alliance Co-President, said. “But we’re not going to partner with an institution, a corporation that has so strongly supported other institutions that work to destabilize and demolish movements for queer equity.”

[our emphasis]

The university apparently considered student group feedback before rejecting the proposal of food service giant Aramark to open a Fordham location.

Aramark logo.png

Late Chik-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy‘s widely-publicized defense of “traditional” marriage (between one man and one woman) in 2012 and the chain’s donations to pro-family groups aside, the Roman Catholic university also noted “the hot entree Cloverleaf station” at Ram Cafe would have to be remodeled if Chik-fil-A were allowed on campus. Additionally:

“Certainly, there were some menu concerns as it related to special diets that Chick-Fil-A did not have a lot to offer for,” [Dining Services Contract Liaison Deming] Yaun said. “They didn’t have a lot to address special diets.”

April 12–Chik-fil-A Under Assault Again at Duquesne; Wellesley Defends First Amendment Disregard and Outlines Which Genders May Apply

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And Hillary‘s “spiritual adviser,” the Rev. Bill Shillady (Shillady)(below), was caught plagiarizing. Oops.

Not-so-slim-Shady’s collection of sermons, whose forward was written by Hillary (when she wasn’t poring over What Happened, also out in September–post-presidential campaign speaking fees just don’t bank like they used to, apparently), is titled Strong for a Moment Like This: The Daily Devotions of Hillary Rodham Clinton. It features a non-leap year’s haul of daily scripture reflections, as well “notes,” “selected responses,” “portions of [Hillary’s] speeches,” shit like that.

Abingdon Press pulled the book from stores immediately. By September 8, the hardcover was going for just under $500 on Amazon, with an average review of 2.2 stars. At the time of this posting, however, new hardcover copies cost just under $40 and the rating was up to 3 stars.

Thanks to our sources:

Holocaust Museum Pulls Study Absolving Obama Administration for Inaction in Face of Syrian Genocide

https://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/30/afghanistan-troop-levels-trump-242186

John Brennan Named Distinguished Fellow for Global Security

Student Groups Shut Down Chick-Fil-A Proposal

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/09/05/book-by-hillary-clintons-pastor-will-be-pulled-from-shelves-due-to-extensive-plagiarism/?utm_term=.8c45a94639b8

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/08/14/hillary-clintons-spiritual-adviser-apologizes-for-plagiarism-day-before-release-of-his-book-of-emails-to-clinton/?utm_term=.4b35d58b9437

https://www.amazon.com/Strong-Moment-Like-This-Devotions/dp/1501854038

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: August 3: Mick Mollifies Big Spenders

Business Insider reported that Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is reneging on promises to even marginally address the perilous finances of the United States.

mick mulvaney

If you can’t take the heat, give the big-government filth everything they demand and crawl home without your testicles.

While Mulvaney had previously promised he would demand spending cuts in exchange for “raising the debt ceiling” (a near-annual occurrence in which the Feds stare down our unprecedented $20,000,000,000,000 national debt, shrug, and pretend we’re solvent by simply increasing the amount of cheddar the Feds themselves may borrow–backed by taxpayers–without any significant reform in spending to even dent the $250 billion we pay in annual interest), he now advocates a “clean” increase. This just means we’ll keep spending beyond our means, but with a bipartisan consensus that our children should inherit at least one year of our GDP in financial obligations.

It’s all quite confusing, because:

The debt limit, the level of outstanding debt the federal government is allowed to carry, was technically hit in March. Since then, the Treasury Department has been using “extraordinary measures” to prevent a breach of the limit. The department has said Congress must pass a bill to increase the limit by the end of September to avoid a breach.

[our emphasis]

While Trump threw a transient bone to the fiscal conservative crowd shortly after his election by imposing a federal “hiring freeze,” that minuscule measure towards fiscal sanity was abandoned not even three months later. By…Mulvaney:

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! April 11–Federal “Thaw”

Even more willing to live beyond our means is Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who made news for all the wrong reasons on August 21 by reportedly using a government jet to travel to Kentucky for front row seats in viewing the SOLAR ECLIPSE.

Mnuchin was delivering a scheduled speech alongside Senate Majority Leader Sellout Mitch McConnell (who actually hails from Kentucky and might be able to justify billing his citizens for a ticket out of D.C.)

Mnuchin might have gotten away with the alleged waste of taxpayer dollars, too, except his wife, Louise Linton, got on the Instagram to brag about the brands she was wearing on the excursion. Her selfie captured the jet in the background:

Watchdog requests documents about Mnuchin and wife's Ky. trip timed with eclipse

Linton responded to the haters, who were justifiably wondering why a luxurious lap in a federal jet was necessary for a famous actress estimated to be worth $300 million to view a three-minute natural phenomenon, with:

“Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours. You’re adorably out of touch.”

Although she later apologized for her behavior, Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (who for some reason acronymed themselves as “CREW”) have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for any records of Mnuchin’s government-funded travel up to and including the eclipse excursion since he took office.

In related news, USA Today noted in February that fiscal year 2016 was a boon for taxpayer-funded government travel. Congressional records estimate they spent at least $14.7 million from the little people, which would be 27% more than in f.y. 2015.

Mnuchin’s own Treasury, however, estimated it was actually nearly $20 million. Treasury got their data from the State Department, and both outfits refused to explain the increase.

Using the $20 million figure, f.y. 2016 represents the highest government travel amount ever recorded, and includes 557 trips by Congress and their staffers that cost at least $10,000 per person.

Thanks to our sources:

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/trumps-budget-director-caved-one-202231113.html

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/347713-watchdog-requests-documents-about-mnuchin-and-wifes-trip-to-ky-theres

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/27/taxpayers-fund-first-class-congressional-foreign-travel-boom-overseas/98351442/

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: July 9: James Comey, Rogue Agent

The Hill learned that recently-dismissed FBI Director James Comey sprinkled some classified details into “private memos” he transcribed after meeting with his former boss, President Donald Trump. How many of these so-called “personal recollections” contained classified information? More than half, per unnamed sources.

That Comey’s office pursued a criminal investigation into Trump’s chief rival for the presidency last year, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for a similar practice–an angle many Democrats (and Hillary herself) continue to credit for the failure of her elitist campaign amidst a sordid history of political thuggery and personal enrichment–was not lost on The Hill.

Related:

BREAKING NEWS

As we have extensively covered, the eleventh-hour “reopening” of the Hillary email investigation in the campaign’s final weeks was widely cited by Hillary and her allies (along with Russian hacking, sexism, racism and “fake news”) as tipping the November 2016 election to President Trump.

BREAKING NEWS–PART ONE

Comey testified [in June] he considered the memos to be personal documents and that he shared at least one of them with a Columbia University lawyer friend. He asked that lawyer to leak information from one memo to the news media in hopes of increasing pressure to get a special prosecutor named in the Russia case after Comey was fired as FBI director. 

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: May 9: FBI Director Comey Fired

[our emphasis]

The “Russia case” refers to the FBI probe into possible collusion between Trump and Russia, who reportedly attempted to hack the 2016 U.S. national elections. Comey’s leadership of the case coincided with highly-publicized testimony to Congress prior to his firing.

Related:

BREAKING: Comey at the Bat

The Russia investigation continues under former FBI head Robert Mueller.

Thanks to our source:

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/341225-comeys-private-memos-on-trump-conversations-contained-classified?rnd=1499645596

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: July 6: One [Uri]nation Under God

Last year’s Independence Day festivities were rivaled.

Florida Man’s Independence Day Utterly Ruined by Girlfriend

Happy Independence Day

Emily Lance (below), of Pennsylvania, reportedly urinated on an American flag and filmed it for Facebook.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and phone

(Although this picture seems also to be captured in a bathroom, it is dated July 6, and Lance appears to be wearing different clothes. It is likely from a separate photo shoot.)

BBC reported the Facebook page was down (according to our research, it’s back up; see below), but the caption on the original video reportedly read: “F*** your nationalism. F*** your country. F*** your stupid f****** flag”.

We obtained video of the incident via “YouTube” (from a Diana Printz):

BBC notes Lance pulls off the standing ovation urination “with the aid of a device that allows women to do so standing up.”

Lance later implored haters to stop threatening her father and his business over “my shenanigans” and noted her family disapproved of the Independence Day statement.

“What don’t you people understand? You’re celebrating freedom while damning me for doing the same. You can’t have it both ways.”

Emily Lance

Despite the threats, Ms. Lance has an action shot on her Facebook page:

Image may contain: one or more people and text

The caption reads “Fuck you nazis! lol”

Thanks to our source:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40518395

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: March 17 and June 22: UFlorida Fans the Flames of Division; Mandates Trigger Warnings for Rational Adults

University of Florida recently started accepting applications for its “Living Learning Communities” (LLCs), not to be confused with limited liability corporations (LLCs). (The $1.46 billion-endowed Swamp is exempt from government taxes, so it can accept unlimited amounts of money from anyone anxious to lessen their own tax burden with a cool write-off.)

Apparently, these are special dorm situations at UF for students to rack up debt with an exclusive group of roommates who think more like them. College is for limiting your world view, after all.

In a Buzzfeed propaganda piece, UF lauded the LLCs’ Exclusive Networking Opportunities (“an ‘in’ to special seminars and programs hosted throughout the year”), Unreal Amenities (“3D printing”), and support of Wellness and Self-Care. Because Americans are now children until their 26th birthday, that final brochure bullet includes: “Walk and Talks” with UF faculty and staff, yoga classes, mindfulness workshops, and healthy cooking demos, as well as community amenities like dedicated lounges and study spaces, and coloring books and pencils in each LLC, UF LLCs recognize that taking care of YOU is wildly important!

Daniel Weldon, a Gator linebacker and Young America’s Foundation campus chapter founder, took exception.

We were unable to obtain the annual rent figures from the university site for the various LLCs and how they compare to the price of dorms for the commoners.

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The university, like so many former strongholds of free speech across our self-castrated country of coddled adult-children, additionally regulated student group events by requiring an assessment of “emotional risk” for all activities.

Young America’s Foundation again gave us the dirty details. We ripped the following images from their site, reportedly reproduced from the UF office of Student Activities and Involvement:

Would anyone wager that a speaker like Charles Murray or Ann Coulter will necessitate SAI “staff presence,” and confiscatory fees from minority-opinion groups in the Gainesville gaggle?

Go Gators!!!

Thanks to our sources:

University of Florida Encourages Self-Segregation With New ‘Living Learning Community’

https://www.buzzfeed.com/ufllcs/10-reasons-its-great-to-be-a-ufllc-gator-2euof?utm_term=.al600VoaJ#.ndwEEj1lB

University of Florida Makes Students Assess ‘Emotional Risk’ When Planning Events

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: June 15: School Stifles Speech

Washington Post first picked up on a graduating high school senior in North Carolina who was denied his diploma for refusing to read the school’s prepared commencement address instead of his own composition.

Marvin Wright, 18, was senior class president and slated to deliver the graduation address for Southwest Edgecombe High last June.

After reportedly working for weeks on his speech, Wright was told the morning of graduation he would read the following instead:

I would like to thank all of our friends and family for being here tonight. I would also like to address my fellow graduates one last time before we leave this gym. Although we may all never be in the same room at the same time again, we will always share the memories that we created within these walls. And no matter what we all do after graduation, never forget that this is one place that we all have in common, this place is home. Congratulations graduates, we did it!

Inspiring!

“I felt robbed of a chance to say my own words.” –Marvin Wright

[I]nstead of delivering [the school speech], [Wright] took out his cellphone and read a copy of his original speech, with his friends in the audience nodding to him in encouragement.

Sitting behind Marvin, the principal, Craig Harris, immediately turned to another staff member, whispering with a look of disapproval, video footage shows.

After the applause and final procession, all of the students lined up to receive their official diplomas. But one folder in the stack was missing: Marvin’s. His senior adviser informed him the principal had removed the diploma because Marvin had read the wrong speech.

“All my friends were outside with their big yellow folders taking pictures and I was still inside, trying to get my diploma,” Marvin said. “I was really hurt and embarrassed, basically humiliated.”

The teenager and his mother, Jokita Wright, accused the school of not only censoring a student’s words but then retaliating against him by withholding his diploma. The mother complained to the principal, who explained to her that her son had missed a deadline to submit the speech to the school. Marvin says he never knew about it.

What is this, UC Irvine???

Wright apparently had left his speech on his principal’s desk that morning, and was obliged to seek out teachers for advice on writing the speech, as no guidance was provided.

Marvin did not receive his diploma for another two days, when the principal dropped it off at his home at the request of the superintendent. The principal handed him the diploma, saying only, “If your mom has any questions just give me a call.” Then he left.

Superintendent John Farrelly noted:

“There is an expectation that is communicated to all graduation speakers that the prepared and practiced speech is the speech to be delivered during the ceremony. That was made extremely clear to the speakers. The student did not follow those expectations.”

This is interesting, because according to our sources, the “prepared and practiced” speech was in fact the one Mr. Wright read from his phone.

The school might have picked a more controversial or underachieving student to publicly castigate. Mr. Wright begins his service in the U.S. Navy in October. Miami Herald notes he eventually plans to be a pediatric surgeon.

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The school seems fine with flaunting the graduates they collectively silenced, featuring them parading the halls of local elementary schools, in costume, on the Southwest Edgecombe website.

Congratulations

At least SEHS didn’t follow the Chicago way, in which thug mayor Rahm Emanuel requires documentation of a young adult’s post-graduation plans before surrendering a high school diploma.

Related:

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! March 28, 31 and April 5–“Higher Education”

Thanks to our source:

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article156324494.html

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: May 12: NSA, “Exploits,” WannaCry and Whistleblowers

We got an update on the technological “exploits” that were lifted from the NSA, the Federal Government spy agency that tracks your online behavior and phone records.

Brad Smith, President of Microsoft, warned governments like the United State’s federal behemoth are exposing their citizens by “stockpiling vulnerabilities”, hindering technology companies’ responses to cyberattacks because, well, the Federal agencies that suck up personal information on their subjects citizens are usually terrible at securing that data. This necessitated the additional 560-million dollar data collection facility in Fort Meade, MD to complement the NSA’s initial $2 billion Utah warehouse for tracking the little people.

[As a reminder, when confronted with the 2013 Edward Snowden leaks of NSA’s seizure of citizen phone records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act--in some cases by warrant, such as when telecommunications giant Verizon refused to bend over for the Feds–Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied under oath to the Senate Intelligence Committee about the existence of the privacy-eroding program.

Mr. Clapper later alternately claimed that he forgot” about the blatantly unconstitutional program; that he confused it with another data collection programSection 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; and (according to his taxpayer-funded lawyer, Robert Litt) that Clapper was unprepared for the query, despite receiving the Senate panel’s planned questions 24 hours in advance. Although we are paying it, we are unable to find Mr. Clapper’s salary amount online.]

James R. Clapper official portrait.jpg

Clapper.

On May 12, the WannaCry attack software held data of British National Health Service and other Windows users’ data hostage for a Bitcoin ransom, reportedly with a screen like the following:

Ransomware warning from WannaCry

Smith, labeling the attack as “WannaCrypt” [sic?], reported the vulnerabilities that enabled it were stolen from NSA in April (at least, that’s when the Feds reportedly admitted the theft). Although Microsoft had released a security patch to Windows Defender one month previously to counter just such a threat, about 300,000 consumers were still reportedly affected. Microsoft did what the Federal Government would never consider, and took personal responsibility for the disruption–even though it was the sloppy Feds who were actually plundered, and Federal Government hubris that concealed the potential weaknesses from citizens.

The most consequential part of Smith’s post:

Finally, this attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem. This is an emerging pattern in 2017. We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world. Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage. [T]his most recent attack represents a completely unintended but disconcerting link between the two most serious forms of cybersecurity threats in the world today – nation-state action and organized criminal action.

[our emphasis]

[It is unclear if “nation-state action” here refers to well-meaning but incompetent central government vulnerability to having…the vulnerabilities they refuse to share with technology companies stolen; or malicious governments acting as the organized criminals, such as when Russia single-handedly elected President Trump.]

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The security community claims to be making strides towards transparency. They are cracking down on whistleblowers and systematically ignoring Congressional restrictions on civilian spying. Wait…

Photo of George Ellard

George Ellard (above) was removed in December 2016 from his powerful perch as [“what the fuck” alert:] Inspector General of the NSA when he was found guilty of whistle blower retaliation.

Recall the IG is the watchdog for a Federal Government agency who polices the government “workers” and reports their transgressions to taxpayers. Or in this case, quashes dissent. It’s like internal affairs covering for a dirty cop!

Ellard was not only NSA’s Inspector General, but an outspoken critic of Edward Snowden, the former contract employee who leaked hundreds of thousands of classified emails to publicly expose the agency’s domestic surveillance program. Snowden claimed, among other things, that his concerns about NSA’s domestic eavesdropping were ignored by the agency, and that he feared retaliation. Ellard publicly argued in 2014 that Snowden could have safely reported the allegations of NSA’s domestic surveillance directly to him.

[A] high-level Intelligence Community panel found that Ellard himself had previously retaliated against an NSA whistleblower, sources tell the Project On Government Oversight. Informed of that finding, NSA’s Director, Admiral Michael Rogers, promptly issued  Ellard a notice of proposed termination, although Ellard apparently remains an agency employee while on administrative leave, pending a possible response to his appeal from Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

Obama reportedly tried to strengthen whistleblower protections in the wake of Snowden’s revelations with Presidential Policy Directive 19. (Mr. Obama had referred to Snowden as a “29-year-old hacker” and–like Ellard–chastised the Federal contractor for not pursuing existing whistleblowing channels to expose the U.S.’s highly controversial metadata collection programs. Which Snowden had, only to find that such protections did not apply to contractors.)

The PPD-19 established an External Review Panel, comprising IGs for Justice, Treasury and CIA. ERP disagreed with the Defense Department IG, and found Ellard indeed had retaliated against an NSA whistleblower.

Disturbingly,

“Snowden could have come to me,” Ellard declared [in 2014], arguing that the leaker, now a fugitive in Russia, would have received the same protections as other NSA employees, who file some one thousand reports annually to the agency’s hotline. “We have surprising success in resolving the complaints that are brought to us,” Ellard said, adding, “Perhaps it’s the case that we could have shown, we could have explained to Mr. Snowden his misperceptions, his lack of understanding of what we do.”

[…]

Snowden’s related contention is that in his own case,  he did, in fact, report his concerns in emails to NSA superiors at the time, a contention which NBC has said  it verified.

[our emphasis]

Government Executive had more on Ellard:

Ellard himself became the subject of a complaint from an NSA employee who had contacted the Defense Department IG’s hotline with allegations of NSA overspending at a conference in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2013, the whistleblower’s identity was shared with Ellard, who then, according to the charges, denied the employee an assignment at the NSA IG’s Office of Investigations.

[…]

The Intelligence Community IG provided a sketch of how the PPD-19 external review process works in procedures issued in July 2013. If an aspiring whistleblower exhausts the agency review process without success, he or she can contact the IC watchdog’s office. The office has 45 days to complete a memo to the IG, who then has the authority to appoint an external panel. It collects evidence and has 180 days to make a decision. If the panel recommends action, the agency has another 90 days to respond. If no action is taken by then, the issue goes to the White House and, most likely, Congress.

Former assistant DOD IG John Crane told Government Executive he did the initial intake for the NSA whistleblower complaint about overspending at the conference. He said officials in the Pentagon IG office then revealed the whistleblower’s identity to Ellard, which he characterized as a violation of the Inspector General Act. Crane spent 25 years in government before he was fired in 2013 after accusing the Pentagon watchdog office of whistleblower retaliation.

[our emphasis]

*

It is unclear whether Ellard remains on paid leave, as he was placed last December while appealing his removal, or if the termination has been finalized. Cato Institute had a lengthy update last week.

*

The Federal argument justification unconstitutional practice assumed without debate or public knowledge for data-mining civilians is ridiculous, not least of all because all this super-secure data keeps getting leaked by their own employees.

Reality Leigh Winner (yes that is her actual name) was arrested in June for violating the Espionage Act.

Reality Leigh Winner, 25, of Augusta, Ga., was arrested over the weekend on charges of turning over a secret document to a news organization. (Inform)

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner.

Ms. Winner apparently leaked a classified document on Russian interference with the November 2016 elections to The Intercept.

And back in August, Harold Martin was nabbed for Espionage Act charges after allegedly swiping 50 terabytes of data from NSA. Martin’s defense attorney felt compelled to tell the press Martin is “no Edward Snowden.” Both men worked for Federal defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, an outfit especially proficient at vetting employees. Martin has reportedly held a security clearance since he joined the Navy. Thirty years ago.

*

Don’t hold your breath for restoration of your Constitutionally-demanded freedoms anytime soon. On May 2, Reuters reported that the NSA collected more than 151 million records of Americans’ phone calls last year, even after Congress limited its ability to collect bulk phone records, according to an annual report issued on Tuesday by the top U.S. intelligence officer.

[…]

Officials on Tuesday argued that the 151 million records collected last year were tiny compared with the number collected under procedures that were stopped after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the surveillance program in 2013.

[our emphasis]

See, that makes it ok!

Because the 151 million would include multiple calls made to or from the same phone numbers, the number of people whose records were collected also would be much smaller, the officials said. They said they had no breakdown of how many individuals’ phone records were among those collected.

*

There are a few bright spots in security news.

A hot topic this summer was Susan Rice and her demands of potentially illegal (certainly outside protocol of her office) “unmasking” of Trump associates who were transitioning to the new presidential administration. 

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! April 3–Susan Rice Returns

The rate of “unmasking” average citizens (presumably to the chagrin of the filthy government thugs who spy on their citizens–and employers–because terrorism) marginally declined last year:

In all, according to the report, U.S. officials unmasked the names of fewer Americans in NSA eavesdropping reports in 2016 than they did the previous year, the top U.S. intelligence officer reported on Tuesday.

The report said the names of 1,934 “U.S. persons” were “unmasked” last year in response to specific requests, compared with 2,232 in 2015, but it did not identify who requested the names or on what grounds.

[our emphasis]

And back on April 28:

The National Security Agency said it will now limit [signals intelligence] collection to internet communications sent directly to or from a foreign target. It won’t permit intelligence officials to collect emails, texts and other communications between two people who mention a target by name, but are not themselves targets of surveillance.

The changes, first reported by The New York Times, are designed to reduce the chances of sweeping up communications of U.S. citizens or others in a way that some critics charged was overly broad.

*

On May 31, Shadow Brokers, the apparent perpetrators of the WannaCry attack, announced they would sell the stolen code for interested hackers at $22,000 per copy.  By late June, they had raised the price, up to $131,000 for “VIP access,” in which a customer reportedly receives access to particular vulnerabilities.

*

Back in January, NSA Director Mike Rogers (below), encouraged by Clapper, introduced a measure to offer current NSA operatives raises to stop them from fleeing Big Brother for the private sector.

Image result for mike rogers nsa

Interestingly, in November of last year, Clapper and then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter reportedly recommended outgoing President Obama remove Rogers as head of NSA.

Thanks to our sources:

blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2017/05/14/need-urgent-collective-action-keep-people-safe-online-lessons-last-weeks-cyberattack/#dMb37xIKkLh3BVme.99

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/241508-spy-head-had-absolutely-forgotten-about-nsa-program

http://www.pogo.org/blog/2016/12/intelligence-community-landmark.html

http://www.govexec.com/defense/2016/12/why-nsa-inspector-general-lost-his-job-and-wants-it-back/133992/?oref=ge-android-article-share

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-security-surveillance-idUSKBN17Y2LS?utm_campaign=trueAnthem:+Trending+Content&utm_content=59095df804d30158154f2aa9&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=twitter

https://www.yahoo.com/news/nsa-stop-collecting-internet-communications-194955852–politics.html

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1423609/shadow-brokers-threaten-release-windows-10-hacking-tools/

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: May 5, 25 and June 5: Harvard Holds Hands of Highest-Achieving Millenials, Separates Student Graduations and Penalizes Online Platitudes

Harvard University announced its draconian late fees ($0.50/day!!) for library books would be eliminated beginning April 1, 2017.

Fox News caught the story in May from The Harvard Crimson.

We have witnessed first-hand the stress that overdue fines can cause for students,” Harvard administrator Steven Beardsley explained, even going so far as to declare that “Eliminating standard overdue fines…should help students focus on their scholarship, rather than worrying about renewing library books every 28 days in order to avoid fines.”

[our emphasis]

Harvard exceptionalism, ladies and gentlemen.

Related:

Harvard “Final Clubs” Finally Ruined

Additionally, Harvard performed some specialized graduation ceremonies this year. The inclusiveness of their progressive programs reportedly offers young adults the opportunity to graduate grouped by race.

Kendall Jenner Pepsi advert causes outrage and amusement on Twitter

International Business Times chose to decorate this story with a picture of Kylie Jenner handing a police officer a can of Pepsi.

For example, the Black Commencement event boasted hundreds of students and their guests:

The organisers [sic] say that the event is a celebration of “fellowship” rather than “segregation” and highlights the unique achievements of black students at an institution that has grappled with its historic ties to slavery.

Michael Huggins, a student who will receive a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School in Massachusetts at the end of this month, told The Root that the ceremony is “an opportunity to celebrate Harvard’s black excellence and black brilliance.”

He stressed that the event is not about segregation but about “building a community.”

“This is a chance to reaffirm for each other that we enter the work world with a network of supporters standing with us. We are all partners,” he said.

[…]

All graduates will receive a shawl made of kente cloth, a representation of their African heritage, which they will wear over their graduation robes.

[our emphasis]

 

The third annual ceremony specifically for students of Latin American descent is slated for the same day.

It is unclear if these measures aimed to address recent accusations of Harvard discriminating against Asian Americans in its admissions process.

*

Harvard’s commencement speaker this year was everyone’s favorite billionaire hypocrite, Mark Zuckerberg, creator of the leading social media platform Facebook. It was not apparent from the IBTarticle whether Zucks was scheduled to address the black-students-only graduation, the Latino-students-only graduation, or the other people ceremony.

In any case, he recently filmed himself conferring with fellow disdainful billionaire progressive and Harvard dropout Bill Gates to build hype for the commencement appearance:

In a video posted on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg jokes with Microsoft co-founder and fellow famous Harvard dropout Bill Gates discussing his upcoming speech at the Ivy-League institution and asking him for “advice”.

 

“They know we didn’t actually graduate, right?” Zuckerberg tells Gates in the video.

*

Social media was not the best outlet for several incoming Harvard freshman, who will no longer have the privilege of joining Malia Obama as she wraps her ambitious “gap year.”

[Obama, 19, recently “lost her iPhone” at the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago, which directly led to her seemingly incoherent body literally being carted from the dance area.]

Motherboard reported that at least ten Cambridge-bound high school graduates had their acceptance letters yanked for spreading “R-rated memes” on the Harvard College Class of ’21 Facebook group page.

The Crimson reports that the memes in the splinter group made fun of “sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children.” One joked about lynching a Mexican child, calling it “pinata time.”

harvard memes

From The Tab.

Searching for the actual memes, we stumbled upon The Tab, which reports these images got the students booted:

harvard memes

harvard memes

We have not searched for the actual Facebook group, presuming it was deactivated and unwilling to have that on our file in Zuckerberg’s database.

This article’s title has been changed. The graduations were “separated,” not “segregated.”

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/05/05/library-fines-too-stressful-for-harvard-students-whats-next-for-our-kids.html

https://www.yahoo.com/news/harvard-hold-graduation-ceremony-black-124111044.html

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/famous-dropout-mark-zuckerberg-will-finally-get-harvard-degree-this-years-commencement-speaker-1610339?utm_source=yahoo&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=rss-related&utm_content=/rss/yahoous/news

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/newbkw/students-lose-acceptance-to-harvard-over-racist-memes

These are the memes that caused Harvard to rescind offers to 10 incoming freshmen