We support VA chief Shinseki He may be an easy target but he is not the source of current Veterans Affairs problems. As stated by Gen. Barry McCaffrey, “He is determined, focused and wants to factually understand a problem so he can get a sensible solution.” He is a soft-spoken soldier who does not pound the table or raise his voice. In 2003 he stood up to Rumsfeld when he said thousands more troops would be needed to secure postwar Iraq. For that he lost his job but not his integrity. We do not want a competent and honest man to be replaced with a glad-hand politician.
We're shocked that 275 Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted by militants. We realize politics there are extremely turbulent, but it's unconscionable for children to be used as bargaining chips. We support the protesting >Nigerians that demand more government and military attention in this matter!
It's cool large websites are ignoring gag requests on government subpoenas. However, we realize they only do so because not appearing to collude with government overreach happens to benefit their marketability (particularly overseas). Furthermore, this doesn't affect the most opaque of government requests: court-ordered FISA requests and executive NSLs. That's why we, private citizens, will continue pressing for Congress to remedy this.
RIP Al Feldstein The activists of the 60’s got their early exposure to satire and inept government from the pages of Mad Magazine. Al cared about humor, kids and country and he made a difference.
We believe in the budding and coming revolution of the sharing economy. "This collaborative rather than capitalistic approach is about shared access rather than private ownership...Millions of people are using social media sites, redistribution networks, rentals and cooperatives to share not only cars but also homes, clothes, tools, toys and other items at low or near zero marginal cost."
We're 100% for personal expression. That said, if anyone's gonna call Obama un-Presidential for his Two Ferns interview, they better be calling Dubya's amateur painting exhibition downright anti-Presidential! 50 more years down this road and ex-Presidents will be showcasing their coloring book work!
America's congress, a sad but true April Fool (from Joel Pett, Lexington Herald-Leader)
We need to stop long-term solitary confinement. As Americans, we're above torturing prisoners in this brutal way. It just feeds a cycle of violent behavior and a culture of punitive destruction that ends up making its way onto streets and local precincts. It's just another way being tough on crime has not only backfired, but turned us from the values this country is founded upon.
Obama's termination of the NSA's bulk phone metadata collection is a significant step forward! We're relieved to see it happen. However, the greater problem goes on: that there is little transparency or oversight of the FISC and other secret powers granted by Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Fixing that is how we repair our damaged democracy.
Writers, pack your bags! (Well, apply first. Then pack!)
Putin's aggression against >Ukrainians continues to undermine his oft-repeated claim that >Russians play by the international rules. Which just validates our own sidestepping of treaty and protocol. All of which concerns us because it may be setting the region up for a destructive confrontation. Hopefully Ukrainians can find a middle ground between Western and Russian alignment.
Good job, kids! Keep it up!
Programming languages are not foreign languages, just as mathematics, sheet music, and art are not foreign languages. Specifically, programming languages don't have anywhere near the expressive power of natural languages, nor are they formed by thousands of years of cultural history. Kids need to become computer literate, no question about that. But this shouldn't come at the expense of exposure to foreign cultures. In fact, we need to ensure our kids are getting more exposure to other cultures, as the globe becomes smaller and smaller.
We must not ignore the >North-Koreans.
Nothing on Earth compares to the horrifying scale of inhumanity there, and the extent of oppression and despair that render them incapable of revolution. We must not mistake their inaction for satisfaction with their condition. As free people in the most powerful country on Earth, it is *our* duty to come to their aid.
Michael Kirby of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in DPRK, summed up the imperative: "At the end of the second world war, so many people said, 'If only we had known. If only we had known the wrongs that were done...' Well now, the international community does know. There will be no excusing a failure of action."
For starters, let's pressure our government to hold the >Chinese accountable for abetting this regime. Let's support NGOs, such as LibertyInNorthKo
"We are, after all, connected."
We're dismayed by Justin Cater's prosecution. It's another example of disproportionate prosecution of online activity in the tradition of Aaron Schwartz as well as online bullies who face no consequences whatsoever. Sure his remarks were crude when taken out of context, but that's not a requirement of the First Amendment. DA's need to familiarize themselves with digital rights and culture to properly calibrate their charges, or we'll be voting them out of office!
We wholeheartedly support this day of action against NSA surveillance. https://thedaywe
It was an impressively beautiful opening ceremony, projecting the high culture and artistry of Russia more than their international power (risked life of 11-year-old notwithstanding). On a stage like this, it's understandable that they presented Soviet-era brutality in very abstract terms. But even in those terms, some of the scenes were very utilitarian, cold and almost unhuman, making them some of the darkest in recent Olympics opening ceremony performances. Overall, fine job, >Russians.
We find the treatment of gays in Russia horrifying. (See attached video.) This is not a civil society. This is a backward-looking society that refuses to accept reality of any kind. It doesn't look like this will change anytime soon. The struggle for equality continues in America, and the gains currently achieved were hard-won. But with proactive government opposition, it seems the struggle will be much harder in Russia. The only recourse may unfortunately be to wait for the culture of the >Russians that champions conformity and nationalism to reach some self-destructive extreme, after which the pendulum of civility can swing back the other way.
This is going to be one *interesting* Olympics.
We call for Coca-Cola, General Electric, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, Samsung and Visa, all sponsors of the International Olympic Committee, to take a stand against Russian anti-LGBT law that bans “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.” We praise AT&T for acknowledging that "Russia’s law is harmful to LGBT individuals and families, and it’s harmful to a diverse society."
And those who don't vaccinate are freeloaders! They selfishly benefit from the effort of othe...original
Non-vaccinators should pay an annual penalty. This issue should be treated the same way healthcare coverage is treated. When individuals choose not to buy healthcare coverage, the odds increase that the public will have to pick up the tab for any healthcare costs they incur (e.g. ER visits) which are usually much higher than if they had preventative care. (This accountability principle was upheld by the right-leaning SCOTUS, so let's not devolve this vox into a conversation about Obamacare.) Along those lines, parents who opt-out of child vaccination would be required to pay a hefty annual penalty approximately equal to the healthcare costs they place on the public. It's only fair and responsible.
We're ready for the SOTU!
"Flipped learning" is an interesting teaching idea that warrants more attention. Making videos available for home study will help in situations where the textbook is too dry or doesn't provide the broader context the teacher desires. This can also justify the tablet investment that administrators seem obsessed with making (mentioned recently by the >parents). While we don't think it can replace in-person lessons, we applaud creative experimentation like this.
We're disturbed by the weekend's violence in Egypt, as documented by many reports of military and mob violence targeted at >egyptians protesting the government, as well as at foreign reporters. It seems to us like the pro-military camp prefers absolute social order to a democratic republic, and we can't help but feel that's a short-term solution with severe long-term costs. We hope trust can be rebuilt so a new democratic attempt can be undertaken.
Should we believe what the chairman of the House of Intelligence Committee is saying? Did Snowden actually end up in the "loving arms of an FSB agent in Moscow?" I don't think so. I smell diversion.
We welcome Obama's remarks but more must be done. His speech struck us, mainly throughout the first half, as cluttered with rhetoric, deflection, and rationalization. Eventually, he rattled off a slew of Presidential directives and orders (more internal oversight and restrictions, annual internal reviews to declassify information and address private and foreign interests, and time limits on NSL gag orders and storage of foreign citizen data). We give him some credit for these executive orders, but they're flimsy. They can be rescinded at any time, by Obama or successive Presidents. So we demand Congress resolve this permanently, and affirm a commitment to prevent similar crises in the future. Our trust in government rests largely on our ability to hold Congress accountable, so we take any action that inhibits accountability as a manipulative, abusive affront to democracy. We want oversight, because oversight motivates restraint. And as technology continues to amplify the effects of these transgressions, in questionable cases we prefer our government errs on the side of transparency rather than secrecy, as we accept that a free and open society fundamentally entails risks to our physical safety. So Obama's most important statements were in this very spirit. We look forward to the replacement metadata collection program he intends to take to Congress, and on his call for them to create an independent civilian panel to argue significant cases in FISC. We expect Congress to go further, not only to strengthen oversight and other checks on existing programs, but also to institute a general oversight framework for *any* secret powers granted now or in the future (we cannot know that all such secrecy has already been made public). An American once wisely said, "A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency." Today, five years later, he outlined a few steps his administration is taking to uphold that.
We're absolutely disgusted by Ohio's execution experiment that led to what can only be described as cruel and unusual punishment. "According to a pool report from journalists who witnessed the execution at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, McGuire took more than 15 minutes to die and made 'several loud snorting or snoring sounds.”
We >americans all must be tired of hearing revelations about the N.S.A. spying tactics. But, what will it take for us as americans to deny these shadow powers unfettered access with virtual impunity from the public, and the world at large? "The technology, which the agency has used since at least 2008, relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target."
Senators, you need-a calm down. We all remain skeptical of Iran, particularly because it's not clear why, after 30 years of provocation and sanctions, they suddenly want to negotiate. (We'd love from the >iranians about this.) How could things have changed so significantly in the last six months? Their election of a new president would not seem to account for this, since he's still subject to the same Supreme Leader who's been in power for the last 25 years. That said, the diplomatic path is far better than the military path. The threat by most Senators right now to increase sanctions portends violent repercussions. It amounts to spanking a child right after he cleaned up his room. We do not want to see what a nuclear-armed temper tantrum looks like. So, Senators, we appreciate the skepticism but cool your jets. And, President, you must convince us (during your State of the Union?) that you and Kerry understand our deep skepticism and are negotiating with vigilance.
What do you guys think of iPad's in the classroom? Does it really improve or hinder teaching?...original
Classroom iPads will do more harm than good. While we think that it's important to keep pace with technology and to provide a "test bed" for educational software developers, large-scale iPad rollouts are bound to carry impossible expectations and create headaches for educators and students. As a "magical" piece of technology, it would seem the iPad could be the panacea that cures all educational ills. This naive impression can justify enormous capital outlay. But the fact is, they are simply electrified books and pencils. It's on teachers to creatively weave them into lessons, which seems problematic since many teachers barely understand tablets or computers themselves. Students, on the other hand, will never cease to devise ways to break any restrictions on the devices. This will lead to lackluster results and mobs of taxpayers with pitchforks roaming the streets. Physical books and pencils will likely be displaced by electronic devices in the future, so it's important that we consider them in education today. But the magic is in careful, even restrained, integration of their capabilities into the classroom. And much more research into this needs to be done before much can be expected from them. Small experimental classroom rollouts, overseen very closely by teams of educational technology specialists, seem to us to be the appropriate next step.
Gov Christie's seflishness shocks and angers us! It's unbelievable that he would resort to retaliatory behavior that is so childish, unprofessional, and disrespectful (to say the least!) to the public. And we think anyone who thinks this hyper-controlling figure was not privy to the actions of his staff is fooling themselves.
Along with the NSA and the recent federal shutdown, this is yet another sign of a political class that believes it's above public service, and that is consumed with promoting and protecting itself above all else. http://www.nytim
Patient dumping is disgusting. We believe few actions are more despicable than a hospital discharging indigent and/or mentally ill patients by dumping them on city streets; usually skid row. If this is how hospitals treat the helpless what can we expect from Wall Street, banks and other institutions? History shows that corporate corruption goes on for years before the justice system takes action. And what are the penalties? A financial fine, i.e. a slap on the wrist. We want these criminals brought to trial, the way the rest of us are. And the guilty should be imprisoned, the way the rest of us are. Financial fines are no deterrent for the wealthy, perhaps the prospect of ten years hard-time would nudge them towards decency.
Corporations are not people.
We're surprised the >british accept net censorship. It's certainly necessary to take action to reduce child sex abuse and pornography, but the mandatory internet obscenity filter they're implementing seems to vastly overreach. First, it is managed by private corporations without clear transparency controls. Corporate partnerships with government are ominous to begin with, but are much more so when they're charged with enforcing "acceptable behavior standards" (as Commons Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz put it). Second, the content filter is installed at ISPs and enabled by default, requiring customers to opt-out of it to access content that is legal but deemed "obscene and tasteless". In a post-Snowden world, divulging anything to government should spark skepticism, but having to identify yourself as interested in obscene material in order to remove a corporate-managed filter seems to ask for trouble. Third, although supporters have referred to a slippery slope from consuming tasteless material to consuming illegal material, there is also concern for the slippery slope from filtration to protect children to filtration to protect against dissenting views of politicians or the government. In light of recent surveillance abuses, how can one expect anything less than a voracious appropriation of authority from government agencies. The filter's technical infrastructure expands the nanny state, but can be repurposed for a police state. It is easy enough for parents to install (or have installed) content filtering software on their computing devices. And the UK already has the Cleanfeed system for filtering child pornography. So this new content filter, originally sprung from the government's desire to address rising "commercialization and sexualization of childhood" and then expanded in the response to two highly-publicized child murders, is an overreaction that will have harmful consequences. We'd be content to silently observe all of this from a distance. But the American and British governments seem to be of the same mind lately when it comes to digital privacy. And, while more can and should be done to address child sex abuse, we are scared by the basic notion of empowering corporate and political entities to judge for us what information is and is not "acceptable".
Clemency for Snowden! He shined necessary light on unconstitutional & antidemocratic government actions in the only meaningful way possible
Should we be worried about quantum computing technology? Its probably more cost effective for the government to intercept our new technologies before they land in our hands with spy malware than having to dip into its black budget. Oh this make my head spin.
Happy New Year, world! May tolerance and understanding of others allow us to leverage our differences to make the most of 2014 and the challenges it holds!
"The ideal citizen of a politically corrupt state, such as the one we now have, is a gullible dolt unable to tell truth from bullshit." I came across this 2012 article today and thought still apropos to the state that we are in. We need to educate ourselves past what politicians and popular news media are telling us to believe.
A great Christmas video from the ACLU. But we prefer the original version of the song, so let's do what we can to bring transparency and democratic controls to the NSA. (See attached link.)
We're glad the Pussy Riot members were released, despite the political circumstances leading up to the Sochi Olympics. But we continue to remain baffled about why the >russians don't do more to demand greater democratic controls. Is it pride? Fear? Skepticism of democracy? American democracy is admitedly imperfect, but that doesn't mean they should not strive for something better than the stifling, dehumanizing, de facto authoritarianism of Putin.
What a ridiculous waste of tax dollars by the NSA! We can only imagine the pricetag associated with these whimsical hyper-paranoid pursuits. At a time when Americans are in need of job training, when city infrastructure is in disrepair, when the cost of education has skyrocketed, the NSA's conduct is shameful.
Now's the time to reform gun laws. This text message exchange between a father and his son during the Arapahoe High shooting is terrifying and heart-rending. There must be a better way forward, because the status quo is needlessly endangering our children. Regardless of what our politicians would have us believe, we believe it's possible both to respect the 2nd Ammendment and to bring sensible controls to gun ownership. (Even 69% of NRA members believe that gun show sales should be subject to criminal background checks.) We have to press our elected leaders about this, because our children should never have to text us about how well they're hiding from a school shooter.
So Target disclosed that criminals somehow accessed credit/debit card information for as many as 40 million of its Black Friday retail customers. Alright, it's settled. We gotta go back to a cash-only society. But seriously, if you shopped in a brick-and-mortar Target store in between November 27 and December 1, double-check your transaction history. This is the the kind of thing that justifies having a positive brand image. The press coverage of it has been relatively light, but we wonder how such a breach would be reported if it were to happen to more divisive brands like Walmart.