Google to buy drone-maker Titan Aerospace



Google Inc said it will buy drone-maker Titan Aerospace in an attempt to provide Internet access to more parts of the world, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Google did not disclose a purchase price for Titan, whose solar-powered drones are intended to fly for years, the paper said. 

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(Photo credit: REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder)


We’re Living in the Era of “Economic Elite Domination”

This article discusses a fascinating paper by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page and some varying theories about the nature of voting, public policy, and who writes the law. I have heard it argued that the law is motivated by public opinion (many libertarians tend to argue this when it comes to things like the Civil Rights Act), but this conflicts with other notions about the nature of power and the state’s tendency to favor rule by the few. 

We’re Living in the Era of “Economic Elite Domination”

Creepy show on Disney: Indoctrination by the surveillance state or innocent entertainment?


Special Agent Oso.

This is quite intriguing in light of last year’s revelations about the surveillance state.

Most people probably already know that insect spy drones are already in the works. While spy shows are not new (Here, here, and here you can find some information about the Pentagon’s and CIA’s ties to Hollywood), it is not hard to see that at the very least, this show gets young children used to the notion that small cameras are everywhere and that their ends are always beneficial. Notice that the Shutterbug sends signals of its location directly to agent Oso via the satellite, where he is told the children’s exact whereabouts. Some illuminating lyrics from the song:

She’s always in flight, on the case both day and night 
Sending the picture right up to the satellite!


She’s on the front line of a unique team 
So things will be fine whenever she sounds the alarm!

In other words, whenever something is “going wrong,” Shutterbug takes a picture of it and sends that picture and a signal of the location of that “wrong” to Special Agent Oso so that he can help to “fix” the situation. In the video, you see the Shutterbug taking a picture of a dead plant to document that someone has let a plant die and did not clean up the mess. Shutterbug also takes pictures of sad kids to report to Special Agent Oso that their lives need some “fixing.” Note that the Shutterbug flies inside the home of these children. All of this happens while the parents have left the child unattended.

This has probably already circulated around Tumblr, but I just couldn’t resist giving my opinion about this, especially since similar smart phone apps are now available.

Indoctrination by the surveillance state or innocent entertainment? You decide!

Hearing: Taking Down the Cartels: Examining United States – Mexico Cooperation | The House Committee on Homeland Security

Here you will find statements from members of Congress on the Mexican-American alliance against some of the drug cartels. These involve both the Zetas and the Sinaloa cartels. Here, Representative McCaul discusses cartel involvement in a plot to assassinate an ambassador to Saudi Arabia. It is interesting to wonder to what extent rival cartels might have cooperated with the Mexicans and Americans in the fall of “El Chapo?”

The weakening of one cartel means the strengthening of another.

Hearing: Taking Down the Cartels: Examining United States – Mexico Cooperation | The House Committee on Homeland Security


One killed as Ukrainian forces launch ‘anti-terrorist’ operation

One Ukrainian state security officer has been killed and five others wounded in an “anti-terrorist” operation on Sunday against pro-Russian separatist militants in a city in the east, the interior minister said.

On the side of the separatists there had been an “unidentifiable number” of casualties during the operation in the town of Slaviansk, the minister, Arsen Avakov, said on his Facebook page. ”There were dead and wounded on both sides,” Avakov said. Full story

We have taken sick, disturbing, real-life covert operations and turned them into entertainment.

The sad part is that Scarlett Johansson is a Jew, and it was her line in the movie Captain America 2 that glossed over the explanation of what Operation Paperclip actually was: The U.S. government protecting Nazi scientists, giving them covers, and hiring them. The movie’s explanation? “German scientists gathered for strategic purposes.”

Nice job, Hollywood. Yet another movie with blessings from the CIA-Pentagon network.

Is Senator Ron Wyden really a privacy hero?

By James Buchal

Sen. Ron Wyden recently entertained a large crowd in Portland by what The Oregonian termed “scorch[ing] senior CIA and NSA officials and their ‘pattern of deception.’”  But on March 12, 2013, Sen. Wyden asked the director of national intelligence, James Clapper:  “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” Clapper responded: “No, sir.”  (It was so obvious that Clapper was lying that the Daily Show later ridiculed him, saying that “no spy should have that much of a tell.”)

Rather than “scorching” Clapper, Sen. Wyden responded:  “I thank you for the answer.”  Sen. Wyden had even supplied the question in advance.  In June 2013, after the Snowden revelations, everyone knew that Clapper had lied. We can be pretty confident that Sen. Wyden knew that Clapper was lying back in March 2013.

How do we know this? Because in August 2013, in an attempt to justify the blatantly illegal NSA spying, the Obama administration released a white paper which said:  ”information concerning the use of section 205 to collect telephony data in bulk was made available to all Members of Congress.”  Sen. Wyden is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and, thus, in a better position than nearly all members to know what was going on. If he didn’t, he was surely not much of an asset to the committee. So why didn’t he challenge Clapper’s lie back in April?

The entire question-in-advance exercise may well have been a deliberate attempt by Sen. Wyden to mislead the American people about the scope of government spying. From this perspective, in the wake of the Snowden revelations, Sen. Wyden is a modern-day Captain Renault: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

The countervailing argument is that Sen. Wyden was barred from challenging Clapper’s answer because to do so would reveal classified information. But if that were true, then what purpose would be served by asking the question in the first place? Sen. Wyden would then be asking a question that could not be honestly answered without committing a crime. The possibility remains that the answer Sen. Wyden was seeking was:  ”I cannot answer your question.” Under this theory, Sen. Wyden would have been stymied by the lie.

The problem with this theory is that there is no reason to believe Sen. Wyden would have suffered prosecution for responding to Clapper by saying “you, sir, are a liar”— instead of “thank you for your answer.”  Sen. Mike Gravel once read the top-secret Pentagon Papers into the record during a congressional subcommittee meeting. The United States Supreme Court refused to let prosecutors even investigate the crime, stating:  ”We have no doubt that Sen. Gravel may not be made to answer – either in terms of questions or in terms of defending himself from prosecution – for the events that occurred at the subcommittee meeting.”

Moreover, Sen. Wyden could also have invoked standing procedures of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence under section 8 of S. Res. 400, which provides that the committee “may, subject to the provisions of this section, disclose publicly any information in the possession of such committee after a determination by such committee that the public interest would be served by such disclosure.”  Sen. Wyden did attempt to seek declassification of legal opinions concerning the meaning of the intelligence statutes, but he did so in a way that was not effective, and a release of legal theories is a far cry from letting Americans know that he and his fellow members of Congress have already constructed a surveillance state of immense and sinister proportions at taxpayer expense. 

The people of Portland may believe that Sen. Wyden is their privacy hero, but I have serious doubts. An essential quality of a hero is courage, and a courageous senator would have attacked Clapper immediately and worked effectively to bring about declassification of patently-illegal surveillance programs. But for Snowden, we can have no confidence that Sen. Wyden would have ever told us what was really going on.  And unless and until Sen. Wyden explains what was going on back on March 23, 2013, it will be hard to tell whether the efforts he sometimes seems to make are real or just a shadow play for the voters. Above all else, a real hero for privacy would not fund the construction of the surveillance programs in the first place.

A little known fact about PRISM is that it is likely that the entire Congress knew about the spying but was “not allowed to talk about it due to its ‘classified’ status.” Could the conversation in which Clapper lied about spying have been staged? It is very interesting that such a conversation should take place just before Edward Snowden’s famous leak. What if Ron Wyden would have called him out at the time? As the article argues, a simple, “Sir, you are a liar,” would have sufficed.  This should serve as a sober reminder to all of us about trusting politicians.

Is Senator Ron Wyden really a privacy hero?

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