“The…idea that if you just let people talk, it will be this pit of racist pandemonium…is sort of childish and it oversimplifies. But it is a great justification for having a lot of power over speech,” says Greg Lukianoff, the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
In the confines of a London dinner party, comedian Tim Minchin argues with a hippy named Storm. While Storm herself may not be converted, audiences from London to LA have been won over by Tim’s wordplay and the timely message of the film in a society where science and reason are portrayed as the enemy of belief.
Written and performed by Tim Minchin @timminchin. Directed by DC Turner @dcturner. Produced by Tracy King @tkingdoll. http://www.stormmovie.net
Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms fail to safeguard civil liberties
For Reason, Ronald Bailey writes: In January, President Barack Obama made a much-anticipated speech at the Department of Justice outlining proposed reforms of the domestic surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency (NSA). The secretive spy agency has taken a public battering ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began blowing the whistle on its clandestine collection of basically every American’s telephone records.
“We will reform programs and procedures in place to provide greater transparency to our surveillance activities, and fortify the safeguards that protect the privacy of U.S. persons,” the president proclaimed. Unfortunately, Obama’s proposed changes to domestic surveillance programs are not nearly transparent enough, and fail to adequately protect the privacy of Americans.
In January, the federal government’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent agency charged by Congress with advising the president on the privacy and civil liberties repercussions relating to fighting terrorism, concluded that the NSA’s domestic surveillance “implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value.” How limited? “We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the telephone records program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation.”
The oversight board recommended that the surveillance program be terminated. In his speech, the president said that he had consulted with the board. Yet he did not heed its advice.
Instead of ending the unconstitutional domestic telecommunications spying program, Obama offered what he insisted were “a series of concrete and substantial reforms.” These include a new executive order on signals intelligence-that is, data connected with private communications-instructing surveillance agencies that “privacy and civil liberties shall be integral considerations.”
The order further admonishes intelligence bureaucrats to make sure their spying actually provides some benefit greater than the embarrassment officials will surely suffer should they be disclosed. This is the “front page test,” or how officials would feel if what they are doing were reported on the front page of a newspaper. If discovery equals discomfort, then maybe they shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »
J.D.Tuccille writes: The federal government has demonstrated the astounding ability to deal with its budget crunch by closing profitable operations like national parks, and thereby drown itself in red ink on its “money-saving” efforts. That’s right, closing the national parks cost about $450,000 in lost entrance fees and rentals, every day. That’s watching the bottom line, government-style. But even at the best of times, the federal government has proven itself a good steward of the national parks only when it lets somebody else do the work. Given the track record of government management of parks, and of parks managed by private contractors, maybe it’s time to relieve the feds of a burden to which they’ve proven themselves inadequate. Read the rest of this entry »
Three reasons why Obamacare isn’t Apple.
1. Apple Products Are, um, Voluntary.
Using Apple products is strictly voluntary. Unlike Obamacare, nobody is forced to pick up the latest iPhone or Mac. And thank god, nobody is forced to use inferior offerings such as Apple Maps.
2. Apple Can Go Out of Business.
Apple, like other once-mighty tech giants such as Nokia and RIM, is only a string of bad releases away from going belly up. The federal government? Not so much.
3. Apple Stores Are Occasionally Open.
Even on its busiest days, you can usually get into an Apple store. And you can always get online at Apple.com. Compare that to the experience of earlybirds trying to access the health insurance exchanges at Healthcare.gov or residents of whole states such as Colorado and Oregon, where there are major delays.
“In part, I owe my current happiness to Barack Obama,” continues the 72-year-old Will, who “so thoroughly concentrates all of the American progressive tradition and the academic culture that goes with it, that he’s really put the spring in my step”. Read the rest of this entry »