In England this month, a new law takes effect that forbids taking pictures of “members of armed forces, a member of the intelligence services, or a police officer” if the photograph is “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.
The British government, of course, justifies the new regulations in the name of “security”.
Unfortunately, this attitude of paranoia and fear directed at anyone with a camera is not confined to the UK.
When it comes to elections in this country, the philosophy is supposed to be “every vote counts”, right?
Well, maybe not.
A voting system used in 34 states contains a critical programming error that can cause votes to be dropped while being electronically transferred from memory cards to a central tallying point, the manufacturer acknowledges.
The problem was identified after complaints from Ohio elections officials following the March primary there, but the logic error that is the root of the problem has been part of the software for 10 years, said Chris Riggall, a spokesman for Premier Election Solutions, formerly known as Diebold.
A logic bug that’s been around for ten years?Â Even the Big Monopoly of Redmond pushes out fixes for their crappy software faster than that.
But it gets worse.Â When the problem was discovered, the company blamed it on third party anti-virus software.
Which brings up the question of why it’s necessary to protect against viruses on a system that by all rights should be closed to any outside network?
Supposedly there are “crosscheck procedures” election officials can use when they certify the results.
However, and correct me if I’m wrong, wasn’t electronic voting supposed to make counting the ballots more accurate and fair after the 2000 disaster in Florida?
Or am I just being paranoid and/or naive?
The FBI is developing new rules under which their agents could investigate anyone for any reason. Period.
Congressional staff members got a glimpse of some of the details in closed briefings this month, and four Democratic senators told Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey in a letter on Wednesday that they were troubled by what they heard.
The senators said the new guidelines would allow the F.B.I. to open an investigation of an American, conduct surveillance, pry into private records and take other investigative steps “without any basis for suspicion.” The plan “might permit an innocent American to be subjected to such intrusive surveillance based in part on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or on protected First Amendment activities,” the letter said.
I wonder if the FBI might open an investigation on someone who blogs about policies that permit the government to slice and dice the constitution at will.
Nah! That kind of stuff only happens in countries we don’t like.
If you have the money, there are plenty of organizations that will sell you the right to put your name, logo, or ad on their property.
The city of Flint, Michigan, for example, will trade you $30,000 for the naming rights to the bullet-proof box encasing a surveillance camera.
Haven’t got that much cash? The city offers lower rates for small company logos or even an individual’s name. The cameras come with a bonus that’s sure to draw attention to your name or logo — a flashing blue police light that sits on top of the box and operates 24 hours a day.
So far, they’ve had no takers.
I might be tempted if they’d make the boxes look like the Tardis instead. :-)
If you’re traveling in or out of the United States, you may want to leave your laptop at home.
It seems that our Department of Homeland Security can take your computer to an “off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing”.
On top of that, they also can “share copies of the laptop’s contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons”.
However, you may want to also leave home every other carrier of information you own since this stupidity doesn’t stop with laptops.
The policies cover “any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form,” including hard drives, flash drives, cellphones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes. They also cover “all papers and other written documentation,” including books, pamphlets and “written materials commonly referred to as ‘pocket trash’ or ‘pocket litter.’ “
Again, DHS agents have been told they can do this “without any suspicion of wrongdoing”.
There, I feel more secure. Don’t you?