[syndicated profile] eff_feed

Posted by davidruiz

The USA Liberty Act fails to safeguard whistleblowers—both as federal employees and contractors—because of a total lack of protection from criminal prosecution. These shortcomings—which exist in other whistleblower protection laws—shine a light on much-needed Espionage Act reform, a law that has been used to stifle anti-war speech and punish political dissent.                                                        

Inside the recent House bill, which seeks reauthorization for a massive government surveillance tool, authors have extended whistleblower protections to contract employees, a group that, today, has no such protection.                                                

The Liberty Act attempts to bring parity between intelligence community employees and contract employees by amending Section 1104 of the National Security Act of 1947.

According to the act, employees for the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and National Reconnaissance Office are protected from certain types of employer retaliation when reporting evidence of “a violation of any federal law, rule, or regulation,” or “mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.” Employees working at agencies the President deems have a “primary function” of conducting foreign intelligence or counterintelligence are also covered by these protections.

Employees can’t be fired. Employees can’t be demoted. They can’t receive lower pay or benefits or be reassigned. And no “personnel actions” whatsoever can be ordered, actually, meaning no promotions or raises.

But employees are only protected from retaliation in the workplace. Entirely missing from Section 1104 of the National Security Act of 1947 are protections from criminal prosecution. That’s because the government treats whistleblowers differently from what they call leakers. According to the federal laws, government employees who make protected disclosures to approved government officials are whistleblowers, and they have protections; employees who deliver confidential information to newspapers are leakers. Leakers do not have protections.

Extending these whistleblower protections to contractors—while positive—is just an extension of the incomplete protections our federal employees currently receive. And, as written, the Liberty Act only protects contract employees from retaliation made by the government agency they contract with, not their direct employer. Contract employees work directly for private companies—like Lockheed Martin—that have contracts with the federal government for specific projects. The available data is unclear, but a 2010 investigation by The Washington Post revealed that “1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.”

The problems continue. Currently, the Liberty Act, and Section 1104, do not specify how whistleblower protection is enforced.

Let’s say a contractor with Booz Allen Hamilton—the same contracting agency Edward Snowden briefly worked for when he confirmed widespread government surveillance to The Guardian in 2013—believes she has found evidence of an abuse of authority. According to the Liberty Act, she can present that evidence to a select number of individuals, which includes Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, Acting Inspector General of the Intelligence Community Wayne Stone, and any of the combined 38 members of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. And, according to the Liberty Act, she will be protected from agency employer retaliation.

Maybe.

If the NSA still does fire the contractor, the Liberty Act does not explain how the contractor can fight back. There is no mention of appeals. There are no instructions for filing complaints. The bill—and the original National Security Act of 1947—has no bite.

The Liberty Act makes a good show of extending whistleblower protections to a separate—and steadily growing—class of employee. But the protections themselves are lacking. Contractors who offer confidential information to the press—like Reality Winner, who allegedly sent classified information to The Intercept—are still vulnerable under a World War I era law called The Espionage Act.

As we wrote, the Espionage Act has a history mired in xenophobia, with an ever-changing set of justifications for its use. University of Texas School of Law professor Stephen Vladeck lambasted the law in a 2016 opinion piece for The New York Daily News:

“Among many other shortcomings, the Espionage Act's vague provisions fail to differentiate between classical spying, leaking, and whistleblowing; are hopelessly overbroad in some of the conduct they prohibit (such as reading a newspaper story about leaked classified information); and fail to prohibit a fair amount of conduct that reasonable people might conclude should be illegal, such as discussing classified information in unclassified settings.”

Whistleblower protections, present in the National Security Act of 1947 and extended in the Liberty Act, are weakened by the U.S. government’s broad interpretation of the Espionage Act.  Though the law was intended to stop spies and potential state sabotage, it has been used to buttress McCarthyism and to sentence a former Presidential candidate to 10 years in prison. Today, it is used to charge individuals who bring confidential information to newspapers and publishing platforms.                                                                                             

Whistleblower protections to the entire intelligence community are lacking. Instead of treating contractors the same, contractors should—together with employees—be treated better.

Improve whistleblower protections. Reform the Espionage Act.

40 Days of Anime - Day 36

Oct. 17th, 2017 01:52 pm
jennaria: Japanese kanji (with a heart) saying 'I heart yaoi!' (Generic Japanese)
[personal profile] jennaria
36: In your opinion, what makes a good anime?

Well, there's the obvious, high-level answer of 'good art and good writing.' The more personal answer...I do like the art to be beautiful, but I also have a loose definition of 'beautiful.' I'm generally more interested in good characters than in a complicated plot, but really I just want the characters to feel real, not cardboard images tossing the Idiot Ball back and forth. Also I am a firm proponent of 'Real does not have to equal Grimdark,' so there's that too.

Finally, though - it comes down to it being the right story at the right time for you. And that's nearly impossible to call ahead of time.

Horror october #17

Oct. 17th, 2017 07:33 pm
beer_good_foamy: (Default)
[personal profile] beer_good_foamy
For some reason I felt like watching something about creepy young Austrians. So it was either this or re-watch Funny Games, and I'm not doing that to myself.

Goodnight Mommy has twin brothers, about 10 years old, living alone in a remote country house with a mother who's evidently had some sort of surgery to her face since her whole head is bandaged. Also, something is different about her since the surgery, at least that's what the boys tell each other. And who can you trust if not twins in a horror movie? They just want everything to go back to the way it was, after all.

Where is our real Mommy?

This is the sort of movie that spends a long time not letting you in on what's going on except that there's something very wrong. Against a mountain backdrop straight out of the Austrian Tourist Board the house has walls covered in blurry photos, skulls in the picturesque root cellar, and of course the cockroaches. It's a slow burn to a rather disturbing finale that's not necessarily for the weak-stomached, and there's one or two twists that are telegraphed way too early, but I like it. There's something dark at the heart of every pastoral scene of the gallant south.

Flesh and Sweat and Love

Oct. 17th, 2017 05:39 pm
[syndicated profile] magaly_feed

Posted by Magaly Guerrero

Secrecy made us the darkest of fairy tales, trickery turned shield. We ran and hid behind realities disbelief labelled fictions. Our love fed on shadowed moons, grew as strong and wise as the wildest of storms was ... Read more...

does anybody else know you like i do?

Oct. 17th, 2017 01:38 pm
musesfool: text icon that says "go away you are tormenting my soul" (cheer up emo kid)
[personal profile] musesfool
Yesterday, I checked to make sure my application package had been delivered and FedEx said there was a delivery exception!!! the business was closed!!! and I was like, "!!!" but luckily it was reattempted and delivered by noon instead of 10:30 am. Still, though. Can nothing just go smoothly?

In other news, I just wrote and deleted a writing rant, but suffice it to say, "start as close to the end as possible" remains one of the best and most useful bits of writing advice I ever heard.

***

Another brick in the wall

Oct. 17th, 2017 11:40 pm
izmeina: a big eared American eagle listening to everything (conspiracy)
[personal profile] izmeina
David Rowe needs to be declared a national treasure. So so glad to be able to get a daily fix of his genius over on Twitter. Especially the war on Goats. Frank from LJ land would not be amused.





Dropping by Cyberia for a quick peek. Spent pretty much the whole evening offline pottering around in the Lair and listening to strange tales on the radio about a new sort of life after death

Looking forward to a proper catch up tomorrow. So many interesting places and things this week.

Back-to-the-office mishmash post

Oct. 17th, 2017 11:01 am
umadoshi: (read fast (bisty_icons))
[personal profile] umadoshi
I rewrote SO MUCH MANGA this weekend (counting yesterday as part of "the weekend"). Other than a) the amount of time I spent waiting for my GP appointment yesterday morning and b) going out for ramen and having some social time afterwards on Sunday evening, I feel like rewriting is all I did over the past three days.

I also think that can't be as true as it feels, because I also finally finished reading K.B. Spangler's Stoneskin (which was wonderful, and I'm really excited for the [as-yet-unwritten, AFAIK] trilogy it's a prequel to), and [dreamwidth.org profile] scruloose and I finally saw the first two episodes of Star Trek: Disco last night.

OTOH, I read most of what I had left of Stoneskin yesterday morning while doing the aforementioned waiting for an appointment, most of which was my own fault. Last month's appointment used up the last of the injectable B12, so I got a new prescription from Dr. Awesome and dropped it off at the pharmacy to be put on file, but then I forgot about it until I was on my way out the door to yesterday's appointment. Fortunately the pharmacy is right next door to Dr. Awesome's office, and I called in to get the new B12 as I started walking, and they got it ready as fast as they could, but it still meant I was late to my appointment (although at least I was able to pop in and say "I'm here! Sort of...").

--I've got a small heap of ST:D reaction posts from all of you tucked away in Memories and was finally able to start sifting through the early ones late last night. I doubt I'm going to do much (if any) commenting on weeks-old posts, but reading them is fun. ^_^


--I'm blanking on another detail about Yuletide logistics. I feel like in previous year's there's been a page (on AO3?) showing all the names of who requested what fandoms (but I think not connected at all to people's optional Dear Yulegoat letters?). Is that right? Am I simply missing it?


--My third year of "only read books (novels, anyway) from my bookcase of purchased TBR or things I've purchased in ebook" is almost up, and the status of the physical bookcase is...dire. I'm not literally out of room to put any more books on it (especially since the bottom shelf has binders of CDs and stuff on it, so the TBR only ["only"] takes up four shelves), but it's not good.

Between that and my wallet, I truly need to buy fewer books. (And relearn the habit of making purchase suggestions for novels with the library, not just anthologies and graphic novels, without getting back into putting tons of things on hold there. No going back to the days of juggling a 300 or 400-item holds list, self. *stern*) Emphasis on the "and my wallet" part, which means not simply switching to buying a higher percentage of things in ebook. (Even if ebooks are usually enough cheaper that doing that also technically means spending less money.)

As is usually the way, I feel like there were other things I meant to mention, but I now have about an hour before I have to throw on proper clothes and head off to Casual Job, and I need to use that hour to proofread some prose. Yes.

FAKE: Fanfic: Poor Dog

Oct. 17th, 2017 02:26 pm
badly_knitted: (BSP 5 - Dee & Ryo)
[personal profile] badly_knitted posting in [community profile] fan_flashworks



Title: Poor Dog
Fandom: FAKE
Author: [personal profile] badly_knitted
Characters: Dee, Ryo, OFC, Dog.
Rating: PG
Setting: After the manga.
Summary: Out for a walk on a windy day, Dee and Ryo come across a lost dog with a rather unfortunate name.
Word Count: 1488
Content Notes: None needed.
Written For: Challenge 206: Name.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.




Poor Dog... )

Ficlet: Fatal Error

Oct. 17th, 2017 01:40 pm
lost_spook: (dw - bill)
[personal profile] lost_spook
Title: Fatal Error
Author: [personal profile] lost_spook
Rating: All ages
Word Count: 693
Characters/Pairings: Twelfth Doctor, Clara Oswald
Notes/Warnings: None.
Summary: Letting the strangers go had clearly been a mistake…

For [personal profile] persiflage_1 in the 500 Prompts Meme: 12. Why didn't we detain them? - Twelve & Clara Oswald (DW)

Here @ AO3 | Also @ the Teaspoon
saturnofthemoon: (mad skillz)
[personal profile] saturnofthemoon
Or the time I named my cat after a character Shatner played. Poor Kirk, no wonder he was crazy, (even by cat standards.)

Before Discovery's premiere, [personal profile] gryffindoridiot and I had a conversation which resulted in me promising to write about a young Sarek's adventures in a Vulcan free love cult. Don't ask, it's a long story.

Today at 4 in the morning, (when I tend to come up with my best ideas.)
Me: OMG, Lorca and Sarek are the only two straight white males on the show. I must fix this!

Ladies, gentlemen, and people of all genders...get ready for the worst fic in Star Trek history.



P.S. I know I've stated on multiple occasions that I'm incapable of writing m/m, (except for the one time I did), but this idea is so insane that it might just work.

P.P.S. One day I will get an actual review of Discovery up in which I discuss such exciting topics as:

* Michael Burnham has chemistry with anything that moves.
* Michael and Saru's relationship is absolutely riveting, (but not like that)
* What happened to my red shirts? Now I have no way of telling who's going to die!

P.P.P.S. Why must I have so much homework?

Interesting Links for 17-10-2017

Oct. 17th, 2017 12:00 pm
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker

Prompt #064 - Quote VI

Oct. 17th, 2017 06:33 am
misbegotten: Orange Typewriter (Writing Orange Typewriter)
[personal profile] misbegotten posting in [community profile] 100words
This week's prompt is a quotation: "For a while" is a phrase whose length can't be measured. At least by the person who's waiting. -- Haruki Murakami.

Your response should be exactly 100 words long. You do not have to include the prompt in your response -- it is meant as a starting place only. Please use the tag "prompt: #064 - quote vi" with your prompt response.

Please include all necessary content warnings for potential triggers, mature or explicit content, or spoilers.

Here is a template for posting your work, if you so desire:

Subject: Original - Title (or) Fandom - Title

Post:
Title:
Original
(or) Fandom:
Rating:
Notes:




If you are a member of AO3 there is a 100 Words Collection!

Happy Deepavali/Diwali!

Oct. 17th, 2017 04:49 pm
jolantru: (Default)
[personal profile] jolantru
Happy Deepavali/Diwali!

Pull the Football

Oct. 16th, 2017 11:44 pm
swan_tower: (Default)
[personal profile] swan_tower
The "nuclear football" is the nickname for a briefcase of codes the President of the United States can use to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike at any time, for any reason, with about five minutes elapsing from the moment he gives the order until the moment the missiles launch.

I don't care what you think of the current president, or the past one, or any that might come in the future. I care about the fact that no one should have that kind of unfettered power. No one should be able to start World War III on a whim.

And the good news is, we can take that power away.

Courtesy of Rachel Manija Brown, who started the "Pull the Football" social media campaign, here's what you need to know.

Both House and Senate have bills to prevent the President from launching a pre-emptive nuclear strike without a congressional declaration of war. They're both called the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. (S. 200 - Senate, HR 669 - House.) Passing those bills may literally save the world.

How to save the world:

1. Contact your representatives in Congress. Ask them to co-sponsor the bill NOW, before it's too late.

2. Contact EVERYONE in Congress who might want to prevent a nuclear war. Usually people only speak to their own representatives. But with the fate of the entire world is at stake, it's worth contacting everyone who might listen.

3. Promote the Pull The Football campaign on social media. Trump isn't the only one who can use Twitter. Get on it and start tweeting #PullTheFootball.

Share this post on Facebook or Dreamwidth. Put up your own post on whatever social media you use. Ask your friends in person. If you know anyone in the media, contact them to get the word out. If you're not American, you can help by publicizing the campaign on social media that Americans follow.

How do I contact my representatives?

1. Resistbot is a free service that will fax, call, or write your representatives for you. Just text the word "resist" to 50409 to begin.

2. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to the representative of your choice.

I've contacted everyone. What now?

Contact them again. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART. One water drop can be brushed away. Many water drops make a flood. Call, fax, or write as often as possible. Set aside 15 minutes every day to make as many calls or faxes as you can in that time. Relentlessness works - it's why the NRA is so successful. If they can do it, we can do it.

What do I say?

Page down for a sample script. Or speak or write in your own words.

Democrats to contact:

Every Democrat not currently sponsoring one of the bills. Thank them for their courage and service to the nation, and ask them to act now to save the world.

Thank the Democrats currently sponsoring the bills. There are 57 in the House and 9 in the Senate. Especially, thank Congressman Ted Lieu (sponsor of the House bill) and Sen. Edward Markey (sponsor of the Senate bill). Encourage them to step up their efforts to make it pass.

Republicans to contact:

The Republicans listed below are the most prominent who have voiced concerns about Trump. This is not an exhaustive list. There are more Republicans who might be receptive. For instance, all the House Republicans who just voted for more aid for Puerto Rico, and all Republicans who are retiring from their seats and so not worried about getting re-elected.

Sen. Bob Corker (202) 224-3344) warned us that Trump is setting the nation on a path to World War III. If you only contact one Republican representative, contact him. Thank him for his courage and urge him to follow through on his convictions.

Rep. Walter Jones (202) 225-3415 is the only Republican to support the bill. Thank him for his courage and urge him to get his colleagues onboard.

Other Republican senators to prioritize contacting: Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch, Dean Heller, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, Marco Rubio, and Bob Sasse.

Sample Script

Hello, my name is [your name.] I'm calling to ask Representative/Senator [their name] to co-sponsor the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. (S. 200 - Senate, HR 669 - House.)

I believe Republican Senator Bob Corker when he says we're on the brink of World War Three. No one benefits from a nuclear war. But we can stop it if we choose to. This may be the most important action Representative/Senator [their name] will take in their entire life. It may literally save the world. I urge them to co-sponsor the bill restricting first use of nuclear weapons. Thank you.

*

Don't tell yourself "it could never happen." Don't rest in the assumption that nobody would really launch the nukes -- it's all just posturing, right? We need precautions in place to make sure we don't wake up tomorrow morning to annihilation.

Or don't wake up at all.
kindness_says: (Default)
[personal profile] kindness_says posting in [community profile] yuletide
Hello, sweet swappers! As promised, SWAPS ARE HERE. SWAPS ARE SWAPPENING.

If you are new to swaps, or to Yuletide, and curious about what the heck I'm talking about, our brand-new 2017 FAQ is here! If you are old to swaps, read on!

2017 SCHEDULE! REMINDERS! SIGN-UPS! )

Questions? Comments? First check out the FAQ, and then, if that doesn’t sort you, feel free to comment either here or there, or email us at yuleswaps at gmail!

<3 K

Deleted scenes from iZombie

Oct. 22nd, 2017 01:35 am
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
Liv talking to her mother and brother. JFC, we should've seen some of these in season 2. They should not have been deleted! But maybe we'll get some family closure, finally, next season, now that zombies are officially a known quantity.
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
[personal profile] sovay
I am not really catching up on anything. The night we got home from New York, there was an exciting cat-related incident at five in the morning that kept everyone from sleeping until after the sun came up (everyone is fine, cats included), and this morning we were awoken shortly after eight by the sounds of construction thinly separated from our bedroom by some tarpaper and shingles. It is the roofers finally come to prevent further ice dams, but they were supposed to come this weekend while we were out of town and instead they are forecast for the rest of the week. I assume I will sleep sometime on Saturday.

1. There is a meme going around Facebook about the five films you would tell someone to watch in order to understand you. I've been saying Powell and Pressburger's A Canterbury Tale (1944), Ron Howard's Splash (1984), Derek Jarman's Wittgenstein (1993), John Ford's The Long Voyage Home (1940), and The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953). Which is hardly complete, but adding postscripts feels like cheating, so I haven't. The internet being what it is, of course, I first saw this meme in the mutated form of the five weird meats you would tell someone to eat in order to understand you, to which I had no difficulty replying: venison, blood sausage, snails, goat, and raw salmon.

2. In other memetic news, I tried the Midwest National Parks' automatic costume generator:

National Park Costume Ideas


and while I don't think "Paranoid Hellbender" is a good costume, it'd be a great hardcore band.

3. I haven't done an autumnal mix in a while, so here is a selection of things that have been seasonally rotating. This one definitely tips more toward Halloween.

The sound of a thousand souls slipping under )

I would really like to be writing about anything.

P.S. I just want to point out that if you have recently seen The Robots of Death (1977) and you open a copy of the official tie-in anthology Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View (2017) and see a pair of characters named Poul and Toos, it is extremely confusing that the former is female, the latter is male, they are respectively a senior and a junior officer aboard the Death Star, and neither of them has a problem with robots.
[syndicated profile] secret_sun_feed



Since the Route 91 Harvest shootings on 10/01 we've been bombarded with a flood of stories calling the official account into question at the same time we're seeing a whole spate of seemingly-unrelated news items that seem to have a recurring theme.

We're seeing all kinds of major announcements coming from NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory and so on that keep hitting this "twin" thing. Some do it obviously, others less so. But I think we may want to get a handle on what this is all about.

I've been pointing to Las Vegas and warning that we were going to be seeing major events running along certain themes, which many of you are probably quite sick of hearing by now. 

But after going through all of this Sickle symbolism let's look at all the twinning we're seeing.

Because there's one hell of a lot of it here.


We heard this story about a "twin" of the Great Sphinx, which was first announced a day before Las Vegas.


Which in turn twins with the Great Sphinx's twin at Luxor Las Vegas.


Which in turn twins the Luxor Massacre, twenty years ago.


Luxor Las Vegas features a "Heavenly Beam," which twins the twin Heavenly Beams that were installed at Ground Zero after 9/11.

Incidentally, 2001 was 1717 in the Coptic Egyptian calendar and 2016 is 1733.

September 11 is New Year's day in the Coptic Calendar.



There were several news reports and photos of twin rainbows over Las Vegas during the Great American Eclipse.


Which in turn twins the binary star of Regulus during the event.


Which in turn twins this story about stellar collisions and gold and Jesus Christ this is such a fake story.

We also saw this story pop up six days before the Las Vegas Shootings- twin universes colliding.


That in turn twins this story about twin stars named after Chronos and Crius (the least significant of all the Titans).


But of course Chronos -or Kronos, aka Saturn- seems to be extremely important to the entire narrative we're unpacking here. So of course this story had to be released October 13.


We've seen the superabundance of Saturn symbolism attached to the Las Vegas Shootings so it's no surprise we also see the twinning as well.

We're also hearing that Paddock spent two weeks in Las Vegas before the shootings and we continue to hear reports that there were two- or twin- shooters.


And we also have Jesus Campos, who was last seen on 10/10 and hasn't been seen since.

And we also the 58 and 59 numbers reported from the incident (58 victims, 58 victims plus Paddock=59).


Which twin NASA's 59th birthday, having been born on 10/01/58.


Three days after the shooting JPL announced that there is a Planet 9, a twin of Earth (but more super). 

10/01=1001, which is binary code for Nine.

We also saw another(?) Steve Paddock listed on a JPL press release from 1993, giving us some Twilight Language twinning.


Stephen Paddock was linked to NASA, having worked for NASA contractor Morton-Thiokol in 1986 during the Challenger disaster era.


Paddock allegedly shot several round into the back lot of Janet Air, Area 51s private air terminal.


And of course the Challenger explosion was during mission 51L, twinning the 51 or 3/17, the date of the Lamentations of Isis and her twin sister Nephthys.


Paddock himself was twinned by his younger brother, who had some very strange things to say.


Paddock was also twinned by the machine gun-toting Las Vegas accountant in Twin Peaks (who gunned down redneck assassins Hutch and Chantal).


Paddock had twin residences in Mesquite TX and Mesquite NV. 


Mesquite TX is in the general area where the Space Shuttle Columbia began to disintegrate before exploding, twinning the Challenger.


Paddock moved to the twin Mesquites from Viera, Florida, just a short drive from the Saturn Causeway which launched the doomed Space Shuttle Challenger.



Another mass shooter was from Mesquite, Micah Johnson, who went on the rampage on the 58th anniversary of the Occulting of the twin or binary star Regulus. The shootings began at 8:58 (or 2058) CT. The event ended at 2:30 AM.


Mesquite, Nevada- Paddock's primary residence- lies at the end of Route 91.


Which twins the Route 91 Harvest.


Thomas ("twin") Tryon is the author of Harvest Home, about blood sacrifices taking place during Harvest festivals.

 

His breakthrough hit novel was The Other, about an evil twin.


He's also known for his novel, Crowned Heads, twinning semiotically with Regulus ("king or prince star").
Jason Aldean was the headliner of Route 91 Harvest, and makes ample use of Black Sun- or Saturn- symbolism.


Aldean uses twin flaming hexagons in his stage show, suggesting there may be some symbolic connection between Saturn and Regulus or perhaps some conjunction (twinning) of the two heavenly bodies.


As I was working on this post this story went up about the stellar collision that allegedly created all the gold in the universe. Or something.

Saturn, the Black Sun, was the "King of the Golden Age."


The Black Hole fake story twins us to Chris Cornell ("Horned Christ") and his death at MGM Grand Casino in Detroit. All of the sites involved in the Las Vegas Massacre are owned by MGM, whose symbol is the Lion.

Chris Cornell is twinned with his close friend Scott "Jeff" Buckley ("Shepherd"), who died almost exactly twenty years before Cornell. Both deaths include rivers and both death sites are south-southwest of a Fraser or Frayser.


Through Buckley, Cornell is twinned to a giant fake pyramid, like the one at MGM's Luxor Las Vegas.


Cornell died on May 18, an important day in NASA history.


Cornell's death was twinned with the death of Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington, who in turn twinned himself with Buckley by singing "Hallelujah" at Cornell's funeral.


Bennington also died on a important day for the Apollo program. Apollo was the twin brother of Phoebe, goddess of the Moon.

Phoebe was also known as Diana. Like Jeff Buckley, this year saw the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana's death.


Bennington died at his home on Via Victoria (V-V) in Palos Verdes Estates.


Paddock twinned Bennington with his twin residence on Via Ventura (V-V) in the Pines of Palos Verdes section of Mesquite.


Bennington also twin residences, one close to Mesquite, AZ.


And like his symbolic twins Chris Cornell and Jeff Buckley he was geographically linked to "Fraser." 

He lived south-southeast of Fraser Fields, AZ. Ask yourself- what exactly are the odds of that?


Jason Aldean, symbolically twinned to Cornell through the Black Sun icon, played Twin Lakes, WI on the night of July 23.


That same night Our Lady Fraser of Oracles made a rare public appearance at Royal Albert Hall to talk about the Cocteau Twins 1988 album Blue Bell Knoll. Her last public appearance was at Royal Festival Hall.

The album title is a reference to a Scottish death omen but was allegedly inspired by a "Bluebell Knoll" in Utah. 

The town of Osiris, UT is south-southwest of Bluebell Knoll. 


Fraser lent her voice to the soundtrack to the Millennium Dome Show, which is essentially a Cirque De Soleil-style production of Genesis 6:4 and features her character blowing up a tower, which is actually twin towers since there's a tower within the tower she blows up.

The Dome is on the River Thames, also called The Isis in days gone by.

Peter Gabriel- formerly of Genesis- described the story as a "creation myth" and that the offspring of the Daughters of Men and the Sons of Heaven are "representative of the future."

You can't make this stuff up, folks.


Our Lady Fraser sings the part of Sofia, most notably on the song "Downside Up," a fan favorite for Gabriel fans. 

Of course she is also known for "Heaven or Las Vegas." And a day before the shootings a twin gun prop fell on Marilyn Manson who was promoting his Heaven Upside Down album. 


The album soundtrack for the Millennium Dome Show is called OVO, or egg. Twin Os.


By a sheer fluke of utter randomness, the Royal Albert Hall is presenting a different show called OVO beginning early next year. What are the odds?



UPDATE: Readers have mentioned Drake's OVO branding. What is especially interesting about this is that Drake is closely aligned with The Weeknd, who has sampled "Cherry Colored Funk" off Heaven or Las Vegas and borrowed the title for one of his own songs.

A new Drake Equation?


Elizabeth Fraser not only appeared at Royal Albert Hall the first night of Leo (in which Regulus is the heart), it was also the rising of the Y-shaped constellation Scutum, or the Shield.


Twinning with the Y shape of the Challenger explosion...


...and the Y shape of Mandalay Bay....

....the Y shape of the fidget spinner in space...


...the Y shape of NASA/Lockheed's Juno probe (the twin of the doomed Cassini Probe, which crashed into Saturn in September)...


... and the standard Y shape diagram of how identical twins are develop from the mother's egg (or OVO).

Twins.



SYNC LOG UPDATE: So I get in my car to go to the store. I start it up and "Orange Appled" by the Cocteau Twins is playing on WFMU. I can't even remember the last time I heard them on the radio. That song was released on September 1, 1986. 

Or 9/1, if you prefer.

I walk into the store and the first thing I see is a newspaper standalone display with this on the front page. Scott Kelly's twin is married to Gabby Giffords, who was shot with a Glock 19. 

At a Safeway on Oracle Road in Tucson.


I turn the page and there's a story about an Elizabeth man convicted for the Chelsea bombings. And on page 9 (1001) the big story is on the collision between the twin neutron stars with the gold and the black hole and yadda yadda.





  

WE'RE STILL HAVING PROBLEMS WITH COMMENTS PAST THE 50 MARK, SO FOR THE TIME BEING PLEASE KEEP AN EYE ON THE COUNT AND POST HERE IF THERE'S AN ISSUE. 

Your comments are in the queue and some seem to be going up but if you want to doublepost or have conversations, use the Campout. I am responding to comments as they come in.

This is a temporary situation- we'll be migrating to a new home sometime in the New Year. I'm hearing talk Blogger might be on its way out, so it's time. A very, very buggy and inflexible platform this is. I was very fond of the old format but I felt very strongly I needed the information to be as accessible as possible at this time.

umadoshi: text: "Aw Rachel, don't be scared of ghosts! They're only dead people." + "I know people. That's not helping." (AGAHF - ghosts)
[personal profile] umadoshi
[dreamwidth.org profile] mini_wrimo is open for signups until October 30!


Fannish/Geeky Things/SFF

"Hero-Princess-General Carrie Fisher Once Delivered a Cow Tongue to a Predatory Hollywood Exec". [The Mary Sue]

"Carrie Fisher Insisted That Leia’s Last Jedi Arc Honor All The “Girls Who Grew up Watching Star Wars”". [The Mary Sue]

"Who are Tessa Thompson’s LADY LIBERATORS?" "The Marvel Cinematic Universe has realigned how Hollywood thinks of blockbusters, franchises, and comic book movies. Though the films have been groundbreaking at the box office, it’s been nine years since Marvel Studios began the MCU and they’re still two years away from having a solo female led movie on our screens.

But if Thor: Ragnarok’s Tessa Thompson has anything to do with it, that’s not going to stand. During a recent press conference for Taika Waititi’s much anticipated Thor film, Thompson regaled us with a rad story about confronting Kevin Feige with the possibility of an all-female Marvel movie."


A discussion on N.K. Jemisin's Facebook about the "magic system" (scare quotes hers) in the Broken Earth books. Spoilers!

Abigail Nussbaum on N.K. Jemisin's The Stone Sky.


Cute Stuff

"If You Ever Feel Sad, These 10+ Highland Cattle Calves Will Make You Smile".

September LaPerm pics from [dreamwidth.org profile] naye. These posts are always great, but I think this one is even better than usual.


Miscellaneous

"We Don't Do That Here". "I have a handful of “magic” phrases that have made my professional career easier. Things like “you are not your code” and my preferred way to say no: “that doesn’t work for me.” These are tools in my interpersonal skills toolbox. I find myself uttering phrases like, “right or effective, choose one” at least once a week. This week I realized I had another magic phrase, “we don’t do that here.”"

Brian Fies' "A Fire Story" is a short comic about him and his wife being burned out of their home in the wildfires.

"Art Inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities". (I haven't read the book, but the art is really neat.)

"Photographer Gets Bitten By A Deadly Black Mamba, Still Manages To Finish The Photoshoot". (Many beautiful snake photos!)

"Native-Land.ca: Our home on native land". Searchable map of North America's First Nations territories and pre-colonial histories. "There are over 630 different First Nations in Canada (and many more in the USA) and I am not sure of the right process to map territories, languages, and treaties respectfully - and I'm not even sure if it is possible to do respectfully. I am not at all sure about the right way to go about this project, so I would very much appreciate your input."

"Creating Gender Liberatory Singing Spaces: A Transgender Voice Teacher’s Recommendations for Working with Transgender Singers".

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] dine, "Pumpkin Spice and Needles: Bookish Autumn Cross Stitch Patterns".

"Video game developers confess their hidden tricks at last".

Via [dreamwidth.org profile] alisanne, "Why Do We Cook So Many Foods at 350 Degrees?" [Mental Floss]

(no subject)

Oct. 16th, 2017 07:57 pm
kittydesade: (waiting for the night)
[personal profile] kittydesade
I was not so good over the weekend as far as housecleaning went, partly because exhausted? lazy? both? and partly because PMS was kicking my ass. But I did get some things picked up, my side of the media cabinet straightened (next up might be getting books put back and the pedestal thing moved into the office like we said we'd do so I can get the ladder up to the bookshelves proper) and dinner made when we were eating dinner instead of just scrounging, so I'll call that a net household win. No additional messes were made and left and some were cleaned up.

And! And I remembered to schedule two patreon posts upcoming, which is also a win since I haven't been regular about that at all up till hopefully now. And I managed to only get a little distracted by projects that are Not What I Should Be Working on (*cough Italian Renaissance families cough*) mainly because I found a scrap of paper with some information I needed to enter into a Scriv file on it.

Work kicked my ass today so writing happened considerably less than I wanted to but I got almost to the shooting part of the one scene, which may or may not even fit in anymore but I might as well write it as I outlined it in case some part of that still fits. Less editing and absolutely no note taking although I might do some reading before bed. Probably just silly language quizzes and physics videos.

I guess the plus side to all of this is I have the spaghetti sauce and the cranberry orange cheese spread made now, plus most of the ridiculousness at work today was dealt with in its entirety so I don't have to deal with it tomorrow. Which hopefully will mean I can get more writer work done! I am so close to finishing this novel and having the moment of if I didn't have to work a day job I would have this done by now. Sigh.

(To be fair even if I didn't have to work a day job today was eventful enough that I would probably have stayed all eight hours and been home and done cooking anyway. But still.)

Signups open

Oct. 16th, 2017 09:54 pm
pocketmouse: the legs of three people in a bed - captioned 'holly poly' (hollypoly-legs)
[personal profile] pocketmouse posting in [community profile] holly_poly
Signups are open!

They will close on November 7.

ETA: Autofill is being slow. If a fandom or relationship doesn't show up, please let me know and we can try to bump the cache, but copying and pasting the tags from the tagset will also work. You can add multiple tags at once if they're separated by commas, as per usual.

(no subject)

Oct. 16th, 2017 06:25 pm
arethinn: black rose and green flames (dark (black rose))
[personal profile] arethinn
[personal profile] rachelmanija:
Are you worried about nuclear war? I am too. Keep reading for a way to stop it with one simple action.

Maybe you feel small and powerless. But many snowflakes make an avalanche. If we all move in the same direction, we'll be unstoppable. We will only fail if we choose not to act.

Trump has the power to order a pre-emptive nuclear strike for any reason - or no reason at all. He's always shadowed by a man with a briefcase of codes, called the "nuclear football," to enable him to launch nuclear missiles at any time. It would take less than five minutes from his order to the missiles being launched, and no one could stop him. Republican Senator Bob Corker says Trump is leading us into World War III. I believe him.

But we don't have to stand by and let it happen. Let's pull away that football!

Both House and Senate have bills to prevent the President from launching a pre-emptive nuclear strike without a congressional declaration of war. They're both called the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. (S. 200 - Senate, HR 669 - House.) Passing those bills may literally save the world.

More at https://rachelmanija.dreamwidth.org/2163007.html
kiffie: Harry Dresden and Bob the Ghost, from The Dresden Files. (Bob and Harry)
[personal profile] kiffie posting in [community profile] 100words

Title: In This Together
Fandom: The Dresden Files (TV)
Rating:
PG
Notes:
During young!Harry's stay with his uncle.

 

 

Fic under here! )


[syndicated profile] eff_feed

Posted by jmalcolm

Today EFF and 56 other civil society organizations have sent an open letter [PDF] to European lawmakers outlining our grave concerns with Article 13 of the proposed new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, which would impose a new responsibility on Internet platforms to filter content that their users upload. The letter explains:

Article 13 introduces new obligations on internet service providers that share and store user-generated content, such as video or photo-sharing platforms or even creative writing websites, including obligations to filter uploads to their services. Article 13 appears to provoke such legal uncertainty that online services will have no other option than to monitor, filter and block EU citizens’ communications if they are to have any chance of staying in business. ...

Article 13 would force these companies to actively monitor their users' content, which contradicts the "no general obligation to monitor" rules in the Electronic Commerce Directive. The requirement to install a system for filtering electronic communications has twice been rejected by the Court of Justice, in the cases Scarlet Extended (C 70/10) and Netlog/Sabam (C 360/10). Therefore, a legislative provision that requires internet companies to install a filtering system would almost certainly be rejected by the Court of Justice because it would contravene the requirement that a fair balance be struck between the right to intellectual property on the one hand, and the freedom to conduct business and the right to freedom of expression, such as to receive or impart information, on the other.

European Commission Foreshadows More Of the Same To Come

Article 13 is bad enough as a copyright filtering mandate. But what makes the proposal even more alarming is that it won't stop there. If we lose the battle against the use of upload filters for copyright, we'll soon see a push for a similar mandate on platforms to filter other types of content, beginning with ill-defined "hate speech" and terrorist content, and ending who knows where. Evidence for this comes in the form of a Communication on Tackling Illegal Content Online, released last month. The Communication states:

Online platforms should do their utmost to proactively detect, identify and remove illegal content online. The Commission strongly encourages online platforms to use voluntary, proactive measures aimed at the detection and removal of illegal content and to step up cooperation and investment in, and use of, automatic detection technologies.

The Communication also talks up the possibility of "so-called 'trusted flaggers', as specialised entities with specific expertise in identifying illegal content," being given special privileges to initiate content removal. However, we already have bodies that have expertise in identifying illegal content. They're called courts. As analyses of the Communication by European Digital Rights (EDRi), the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), and Intellectual Property Watch point out, shifting the burden of ruling on the legality of content from courts onto private platforms and their "trusted flaggers" will inevitably result in over-removal by those platforms of content that a court would have found to be lawful speech.

The Communication clearly foreshadows future legislative measures as soon as 2018 if no significant progress is made by the platforms in rolling out automated filtering and trusted flagging procedures on a "voluntary" basis. This means that the Communication, although expressed to be non-binding, is not really "voluntary" at all, but rather a form of undemocratic Shadow Regulation by the unelected European Commission. And the passage of the upload filtering mandate in the Digital Single Market Directive would be all the encouragement needed for the Commission to press forward with its broader legislative agenda.

The Link Tax Paid To Publishers ... That Publishers Don't Want

The upload filtering mandate in Article 13 isn't the only provision of the proposed Directive that concerns us. Another provision of concern, Article 11, would impose a new "link tax" payable to news publishers on websites that publish small snippets of news articles to contextualize links to those articles. Since we last wrote about this, an interesting new report has come out providing evidence that European publishers—who are the supposed beneficiaries of the link tax—actually oppose it. The report also states:

[T]here is little evidence that the decline in newspaper revenues has anything to do with the activities of news aggregators or search engines (that appear as the primary targets of the new right). In fact, it is widely recognised that there are two reasons for the decline in newspaper revues: changes in advertising practice associated with the Internet (but not especially related to digital use of new material on the Internet); and the decline in subscriptions, which may be in part related to the decision of press publishers to make their products available on the Internet. These are simply changes in the newspaper market that have little, if anything, to do with the supposed "unethical" free riding of other internet operators.

The European Parliament's Civil Liberties (LIBE) Committee is due to vote on its opinion on the Digital Single Market proposals this Thursday, 19 October. Although it's not the final vote on these measures, it could be the most decisive one, since a recommendation for deletion of Article 11 and Article 13 at the LIBE committee would be influential in convincing the lead committee (the Legal Affairs or JURI Committee) to follow suit.

Digital rights group OpenMedia has provided a click-to-call tool that you can use, available in EnglishFrenchGermanSpanish, and Polish, to express your opposition to the upload filtering mandate and the link tax. If you are European or have European friends or colleagues, please do take this opportunity to speak out and oppose these proposals, which could change the Internet as we know it in harmful and unnecessary ways.

(no subject)

Oct. 16th, 2017 06:39 pm
harpers_child: melaka fray reading from "Tales of the Slayers". (Default)
[personal profile] harpers_child
Pen-dips prompt:
12) Your character has been handed a child that looks nothing like them, but everyone insists that it is their child.

So this is hilarious because of Morgan and Leeloo. (SG-23 'verse.)

Read more... )
Teal Dear:
The joke is, Morgan totally has a kid that looks nothing like her. Because one is human and the other is an adopted alien.

Sweetheart is getting bolder

Oct. 21st, 2017 06:37 pm
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
She's been trying to get in the front door. Today she tried to slip in the back - at least until she was repelled by Callie!

Jenn referred to her being "home" the other day, meaning being on our porch.

We've got to get her moved, and fast. If we keep talking like that, she'll be our cat.

Now, last week she disappeared when it was time to grab her to go to the van. Next week, won't let her do that.

Also, Bookriot has a $500 sweepstakes to spend at whatever bookstore you like.

***************


How a Single Mom Created a Plastic Food-Storage Empire

'A New Rosetta Stone for Astronomy'

The Tomato Pill Craze

American cricket gets ready for take-off

Family dog emerges alive and happy from wildfire aftermath

Beyond XX and XY: The Extraordinary Complexity of Sex Determination

How Amish produce gets to Whole Foods—without the internet, tractors, or phones

How a Seed Bank, Almost Lost in Syria’s War, Could Help Feed a Warming Planet

Whales and dolphins have rich 'human-like' cultures and societies

Doctor's research could buy time for snake bite victims

The Surprising Problem With Star Trek’s Most Celebrated Episode (And really, why not take that character back to the future or something?)

Charlie Brown's Greatest Misses: Every 'Peanuts' Football Gag Comic

An Anarchist Is Teaching Patients to Make Their Own Medications (Sounds risky, especially if combined with self-diagnosis.)

Diwali Fireworks Are Limited In India Over Toxic Smog Concerns

Rohingya refugee influx inspires Bangladeshi aid - and worry

2-year-old denied kidney transplant from 100% match dad because of probation violation (UNFUCKINGBELIEVABLE.)

How can US rapist win joint custody of minor victim's child?

Jeff Sessions consulted Christian right legal group hate group on religious freedom memo

Before You Hit 'Submit,' This Company Has Already Logged Your Personal Data

Did Monsanto Ignore Evidence Linking Its Weed Killer to Cancer?

Iraqi forces enter Kirkuk as Kurds flee

We don't need the 2nd Amendment — we need a real debate about guns

Are Millennials Moving Right on Guns?
[syndicated profile] eff_feed

Posted by jason.kelley

A key legal linchpin for the National Security Agency’s vast Internet surveillance program is scheduled to disappear in under 90 days. Section 702 of FISA—enacted in 2008 with little public awareness about the scope and power of the NSA’s surveillance of the Internet—supposedly directs the NSA’s powerful surveillance apparatus toward legitimate foreign intelligence targets overseas. Instead, the surveillance has been turned back on us. Despite repeated inquiries from Congress, the NSA has yet to publicly disclose how many Americans are impacted by this surveillance. 

With the law’s sunset looming, Congress is taking up the issue. The USA Liberty Act, introduced by Representatives Goodlatte (R-Va.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), and others, may offer a chance to address some of the worst abuses of NSA Internet surveillance even as it reauthorizes some components of the surveillance for another six years. 

But the first draft of the bill falls short.

The bill doesn’t effectively end the practice of “backdoor searching,” when government agents—including domestic law enforcement not working on issues of national security—search through the NSA-gathered communications of Americans without any form of warrant from a judge. It doesn’t institute adequate transparency and oversight measures, and it doesn’t deal with misuse of the state secrets privilege, which has been invoked to stave off lawsuits against mass surveillance.  

Perhaps most importantly, the bill won’t curtail the NSA’s practices of collecting data on innocent people. 

The bill does make significant changes to how and when agents can search through data collected under 702. It also institutes new reporting requirements, new defaults around data deletion, and new guidance for amicus engagement with the FISA Court. But even these provisions do not go far enough. 

Congress has an opportunity and a responsibility to rein in NSA surveillance abuses. This is the first time, since 2013 reporting by the Washington Post and the Guardian changed the worldwide perception of digital spying, that Congress must vote on whether to reauthorize Section 702. Before this debate moves ahead, leaders in the House Judiciary Committee should fix the shortcomings in this bill. 

The Problems of 702

Section 702 is supposed to give the NSA authority to engage in foreign intelligence collection. The NSA is only allowed to target non-Americans located outside U.S. borders. This legal authority has been the basis for two controversial data collection programs:

  • Upstream surveillance: data collection that siphons off copies of digital communications directly from the “Internet backbone,” the high-capacity fiber-optic cables run by telecommunications companies like AT&T that transmit the majority of American digital communications.
  • PRISM (also known as “downstream surveillance”): data collection gathered from the servers of major Internet service providers, such as Google, Facebook, and Apple.

These programs flourished under President Bush and President Obama. As the Washington Post reported, their NSA director took an expansive view on data collection:

“Rather than look for a single needle in the haystack, his approach was, ‘Let’s collect the whole haystack,’ ” said one former senior U.S. intelligence official who tracked the plan’s implementation. “Collect it all, tag it, store it. . . . And whatever it is you want, you go searching for it.”

Unfortunately, the Liberty Act won’t address most of these fundamental problems.  Here’s an analysis of some of the key provisions in the bill, and we’ll have future articles exploring specific topics in more detail.

Leaving the Backdoor Ajar

Agents for the NSA, CIA, and FBI have long rifled through the communications collected under Section 702, which include American communications, as well as the communications of foreigners who have no connection to crime or national security threats. With no approval from a judge, they’re able to search this database of communications using a range of personal identifiers, then review the contents of communications uncovered in those searches. Government agents can then use these results to build a case against someone, or they may simply review it without prosecution.

Ordinarily, if the FBI wants to intercept or collect a U.S. person’s communications, they must first get permission from a judge. But as a result of Section 702, the FBI today reviews NSA-collected communications of U.S. persons without permission from a judge. Privacy advocates call this the “backdoor search loophole.” 

This practice violates the Fourth Amendment right to privacy against unreasonable searches and seizures. And it can be difficult to prove because government agents may not disclose when they use evidence from the 702 database in prosecutions or for any other purposes. 

The first draft of the Liberty Act doesn’t resolve the problem. It still allows government agents—including domestic law enforcement agents—to query the 702 database, including using identifiers associated with American citizens, such as the email address of an American. The main improvement is that when an agent conducts a query looking for evidence of a crime, she must obtain a probable cause warrant from a judge to access the results. 

But the warrant requirement is limited due to a number of troubling carve-outs. First, this court oversight requirement won’t be triggered except for those searches conducted to find evidence of a crime. No other searches for any other purposes will require court oversight, including when spy agencies search for foreign intelligence, and when law enforcement agencies explore whether a crime occurred at all.

Metadata—how many communications are sent, to whom, at what times—won’t require court oversight at all.  In fact, the Liberty Act doesn’t include the reforms to metadata queries the House had previously passed (which unfortunately did not pass the Senate). In the Massie-Lofgren Amendment, which passed the House twice, agents who conducted queries for metadata would be required to show the metadata was relevant to an investigation. That relevance standard is not in the Liberty Act.

Finally, some may interpret vague language in the bill as putting responsibility for assessing probable cause in the hands of the Attorney General, the main governmental prosecutor, rather than in the hands of the FISA Court. This language should be clarified to ensure the judge’s role in approving the applications is the same as in other FISA proceedings.

Targeting Procedures

The bill will require the NSA to exercise “due diligence in determining whether a person targeted is a non-United States person reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States,” and requires agents to consider the “totality of the circumstances” when making that evaluation.

At face value, this sounds promising. We do want the NSA to exercise due diligence when evaluating targets of surveillance. However, this provision is more of a fig leaf than a real fix, because even if targeting is improved, it won’t resolve the problem of Americans’ communications being collected. Right now, countless Americans are surveilled through so-called “incidental collection.” This means that while the official target was a non-American overseas, American communications are swept up as well. Even though Americans were never the intended “target,” their emails, chats, and VOIP calls end up in a database accessible to the NSA, FBI, and others. Tightening up targeting won’t address this problem.

In addition, the bill doesn’t change the NSA’s practice of intercepting communications of countless innocent foreigners outside the United States. People outside our national borders are not criminals by default and should not be treated as if they were. If the United States wants to uphold our obligations to human rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, we must respect the basic privacy and dignity of citizens of other countries. That means not vacuuming up as many communications as possible for all foreigners overseas. This is an especially pressing issue now, as the European Union decides whether to limit how European data can be held by American companies. The recently enacted Privacy Shield falls short of the privacy commitments enshrined in European law. 

Retention of Communications

After the NSA uses Section 702 to collect vast quantities of communications, the NSA stores these records for years to come. Every day the NSA holds these sensitive records is a day they can be misused by rogue government employees or deployed by agency leadership in new ways as part of inevitable “mission creep.” That’s why privacy advocates call for legislation that would require the NSA to purge these Section 702 communications by a fixed deadline, except for specific communications reasonably determined by analysts to have intelligence or law enforcement value.

Unfortunately, the Liberty Act does not solve this problem. Rather, it would only require that if the NSA determines that a communication lacks foreign intelligence value, then the NSA must purge it within 90 days. However, it’s unclear how often the NSA reviews its collected data to assess its foreign intelligence value. Since the bill requires no review, this provision may have little practical effect.

Whistleblowers Left Unprotected

Whistleblowers like Thomas Drake, Mark Klein, Bill Binney, and Edward Snowden were fundamental to the public’s understanding of NSA surveillance abuses. But they risked their careers and often their freedom in the process. The United States has a pressing need to improve protections for whistleblowers acting in the public good—including federal contractors who may be witness to wrongdoing.

The Liberty Act includes a section that would extend certain whistleblower protections to federal contractors. However, these protections only apply to “lawful disclosure” to a handful of government officers, such as the Director of National Intelligence. It does not provide any protection when a whistleblower speaks to the media or to advocacy organizations such as EFF.

Furthermore, the bill only protects whistleblowers against “personnel action,” so whistleblowers could still face criminal prosecution. The Espionage Act—a draconian law from 1917 with penalties including life in prison or the death penalty—has become the tool de jour to intimidate and punish public-interest whistleblowers. The Liberty Act will provide whistleblowers no protection against prosecution under the Espionage Act. 

To make matters worse, the bill also creates new penalties for the unauthorized removal or retention of classified documents, including when done negligently. This will likely be another tool used to go after whistleblowers. This section of the bill must be significantly narrowed or cut. 

Ending “About” Collection 

The National Security Agency announced in April the end of a controversial form of spying known colloquially as “about surveillance.” After collecting data directly from the backbone of the Internet and doing a rough filter, government agents use key selector terms about targeted persons to search through this massive trove of data. In the past, these searches would not merely search the address lines (the to and from section of the communications) but would directly search the full contents of the communications, so that any mention of a selector in the body of the email would be returned in the results. Thus, communications of people who were not surveillance targets, and were not communicating with surveillance targets, were included in the results. 

The NSA was unable to find a way to conduct this type of “about” searching while adhering to restrictions imposed by the FISA Court, and thus the agency discontinued the practice in April. However, this is currently a voluntary policy, and the agency could begin again. In fact, NSA Director Mike Rogers testified before Congress in June that he might recommend that Congress reinstitute the program in the future.

The Liberty Act codifies the end of “about surveillance.” It provides that the NSA must limit its targeting “to communications to or from the targeted person.” While the NSA’s upstream program will still collect the communications passing through the Internet backbone, including the communications of vast numbers of innocent U.S. and foreign citizens, the end of “about” surveillance will reduce the number of communications stored in the 702 database. 

Other Positive Changes in the Bill 

Critically, unlike some other pending reauthorization proposals, the Liberty Act will maintain Section 702’s “sunset,” ensuring that Congress must review, debate, and vote on this issue again in six years. Permanent reauthorization, which we strongly oppose, would prevent this Congressional check on executive overreach.

The Liberty Act makes some other modest improvements to the NSA’s surveillance practices. It gives the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board the ability to function without an appointed chair, which has been a persistent problem with this accountability body. It also puts in place new reporting requirements. 

The bill would require the FISA Court to appoint an amicus curiae to assist it in reviewing the annual “certification” from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence regarding the NSA’s Section 702 targeting and minimization procedures. This would be a helpful check on this currently one-sided process. However, the FISA Court could dispense with this check whenever it found the amicus appointment “not appropriate” – a nebulous test that could neuter this new safeguard.

A Few More Missing Pieces 

Many vital fixes to the worst surveillance abuses of the NSA are missing from this bill. 

Congress should clear a pathway for individuals to contest privacy abuses by the NSA. This includes ensuring that Americans whose data may have been “incidentally” collected by the NSA under Section 702 have legal standing to go to court to challenge this violation of their constitutional rights. It also requires an overhaul of the controversial state secrets privilege, a common law doctrine that government agencies have invoked to dismiss, or refuse to provide evidence in, cases challenging mass surveillance.

Congress should crack down on “incidental collection,” and ensure the communications of innocent Americans are not collected in the first place. 

Finally, we need to empower the FISA court to review and approve the targets of NSA surveillance. Currently, the NSA receives only general guidelines from the FISA Court, with no individual review of specific targets and selector terms. This means the NSA has little obligation to defend its choice of targets, resulting in little recourse when agents are over-inclusive of inappropriate targets. 

Next steps for the Judiciary Committee 

Congress still has time to get this right. This bill hasn’t gone to markup yet, and the Judiciary Committee is likely to amend the bill before passing it to the floor. We urge the Judiciary Committee members to make changes to the bill to address these shortcomings.

As public awareness of NSA surveillance practices has grown, so too has public outrage. That outrage is the fuel for meaningful change. We passed one bill to begin reining in surveillance abuses in 2015, and from that small victory springs the political will for the next, more powerful reform. Join EFF in calling on Congress to rein in these surveillance abuses, and defend privacy for Internet users of today and in the years to come. 

Speak out.

Tell Congress It's time to let the sun set on mass Internet spying

With assistance from Adam Schwartz.

[syndicated profile] eff_feed

Posted by jason.kelley

Professor Xiaoxing Xi, a physics professor with Temple University, was the subject of government surveillance under a FISA order. During September's Color of Surveillance Hill briefing, Professor Xi told his story of the devastating impact of government surveillance on his life.

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Professor Xi faced a prosecution that was later dropped because there was no evidence that he had engaged in any wrongdoing. Ever since this invasive surveillance against him, he has become an outspoken advocate against race-based surveillance and prosecution.

We asked Professor Xi to elaborate on the surveillance against him and the effect it had on him, his family, and his scientific work. 

Q: People assume their private communications are not visible to others, but it's become more and more clear that the government is surveilling countless Americans. How did you feel when you learned that the government had been reading your private emails, listening to your private phone calls, and conducting electronic surveillance? 

It was frightening. I knew from the beginning that their charges against me were completely wrong, but we were fearful till the end that they might twist something I wrote in my emails or something I said over the phone to send me to jail. I also felt like I was being violated. When you lose your privacy, it's like being forced to walk around naked.

Q: Does knowing you had been surveilled cause you concern now, years later? Do you still worry you're under surveillance?

Yes, my whole family are still seriously concerned about our emails being read and phone calls being listened to. People tell us that it is very unlikely we are still being surveilled, and they are probably right. Once violated, it is very difficult to shake off the fear. We watch every word we write and say, so that we don't give them excuses to "pick bones out of an egg," and life is very stressful like this.

Q: Your children were still young when this happened, especially your daughter. How did your family feel about all this? How were they affected?

They were shaken by guns being pointed at them and seeing me snatched away in handcuffs. Everyone was traumatized by this experience, like the sky was falling upon us. My wife was very courageous, trying to shield the children from the harm, even though she herself was under tremendous stress. My elder daughter was a chemistry major, and now she works in a civil rights organization trying to raise the awareness of people about the injustices immigrants face. My younger daughter tries to go about her life like nothing has happened, but we worry about the long term effect on her.

Q: How has your scientific work been affected by this horrible and unjust surveillance and prosecution?

It damaged my scientific research significantly. My reputation is now tainted and the opportunities for me to advance in the scientific community are more limited. My current research group is just a tiny fraction of what I used to have. In addition, I worry about routine academic activities being misconstrued by the government and I am scared to put my name on forms required for obtaining funding and managing research. 

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