Archive for August, 2014


A trip on a dirt road is typically the product of seeking adventure—getting to a trailhead to go mountain biking, finding a put-in for a favorite fishing spot, or heading to a cabin for vacation. But out of the four million miles of road in the U.S., more than a third are still unpaved gravel or dirt. And for some people, dirt roads are more of a tool for everyday life than a means to recreation. Our Montana by Dirt road trip, which would cover some 400 miles of dirt roads, we sought to meet the people whose daily lives revolve around dirt roads as well as explore the use of dirt road as a viable means to access the adventure.

Montana still has a strong network of unpaved road all across the state. I have planned quite a few trips in the past across various stretches of the state. It’s surprisingly easy to link old farming grid roads clear across the expanse of valleys with tighter logging roads to cross over the mountain passes. But this trip offered new challenges: The road itself was not our destination, and we had to reach specific locations to do the adventures we had planned. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Ay – Michael’s Blog

Electric vehicles are cool. They’re inexpensive to operate, can make our air cleaner, and help reduce the amount of climate change-causing gases released into the atmosphere. But right now, they’re also mostly just for rich people. The initial cost of buying the car, combined with their limited availability, is just too much for most people to justify making the switch.

That could soon change, though, because investment pundits think that Tesla Motors is on the verge of achieving something big: A battery cheap enough to make electric vehicles cost-competitive with conventional cars. Daniel Sparks at Motley Fool is reporting that the company is on the right track towards developing a battery that costs only $100 per kilowatt-hour — a cost widely believed to be the threshold where electric vehicles can finally be cost-competitive. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Aw – Michael’s Blog

At a town hall meeting here last night, Rudolph W. Giuliani expanded upon his views of torture. Here is a transcript of the exchange.

Linda Gustitus, who is the president of a group called the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, began her question by saying that President Bush’s nominee for attorney general, Michael B. Mukasey (who happens to be an old friend of Mr. Giuliani’s) had “fudged” on the question of whether waterboarding is toture. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Au – Michael’s Blog

A group of leading British Muslim clerics issued a fatwa outlawing the Islamic State group and prohibiting local UK Muslims from fighting on behalf of any side in the Syrian civil war, The Sunday Times reported.

Calling the IS doctrine “poisonous ideology,” the missive, endorsed by six leading Islamic leaders from across the UK, called on British Muslims to oppose IS, and in particular within the UK. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-As – Michael’s Blog

It started with the national anthem and ended with a rap. In between came a poignant minute’s silence, politicised football chants and a call to action by the woman tipped to become the first Green national leader on the planet.

The unveiling in São Paulo of Brazilian presidential candidate Marina Silva’s platform for government on Friday was a sometimes bizarre mix oftradition and modernity, conservatism and radicalism, doubt and hope: but for many of those present, it highlighted the very real prospect of an environmentalist taking the reins of a major country.

In a dramatic election that has at times seemed scripted by a telenovela writer, Silva has tripled her coalition’s poll ratings in the two weeks since she took over from her predecessor and running mate, Eduardo Campos, who was killed in a plane crash. Following a strong performance in the first TV debate between candidates, polls suggest she will come second in the first-round vote on 5 October and then beat the incumbent, Dilma Rousseff, in the runoff three weeks later. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Aq – Michael’s Blog

MEMORANDUM FOR: Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Ukraine and NATO

We the undersigned are long-time veterans of U.S. intelligence. We take the unusual step of writing this open letter to you to ensure that you have an opportunity to be briefed on our views prior to the NATO summit on September 4-5.

You need to know, for example, that accusations of a major Russian “invasion” of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the “intelligence” seems to be of the same dubious, politically “fixed” kind used 12 years ago to “justify” the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. We saw no credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq then; we see no credible evidence of a Russian invasion now. Twelve years ago, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, mindful of the flimsiness of the evidence on Iraqi WMD, refused to join in the attack on Iraq. In our view, you should be appropriately suspicious of charges made by the U.S. State Department and NATO officials alleging a Russian invasion of Ukraine. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Ak – Michael’s Blog

It’s an explosive charge, one that puts the president’s motives into question.

A former CIA agent bluntly told WND, America has switched sides in the war on terror under President Obama.

Clare Lopez was willing to say what a few members of Congress have confided to WND in private, but declined to say on-the-record. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Ag – Michael’s Blog

Traditional journalism in eastern Ukraine, where Russia now claims sovereignty over Crimea and a rebel militia controls Lugansk and Donetsk, has become incredibly difficult. In the first six months of 2014, Ukraine was the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. There have been more fatalities recorded among reporters in Ukraine than in Syria or Iraq. Coupled with a concerted media war between Kyiv, the West, and Moscow, it has become progressively difficult to separate fact from fiction when reading about events in Ukraine. [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Ac – Michael’s Blog

In late July, a group of young American Jews gathered outside the New York offices of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the umbrella organization founded in the 1950s and which claims to speak for a consensus of the American Jewish community. The young Jews outside, though, were challenging that organization’s claim to speak in their name. They read aloud the names of Palestinians and Israelis killed in the latest military escalation between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and they recited the Mourner’s Kaddish.

A few days later, the group delivered a letter to the Conference’s CEO, Malcolm Hoenlein, demanding “that the Conference of Presidents join our call to stop the war on Gaza, end the occupation, and forge a path forward for freedom and dignity for all people in Israel and Palestine.” Nine activists were arrested for civil disobedience.

Hoenlein called the protest “very insignificant” and the protesters “Jewish kids who are misguided.” [Read more]

http://wp.me/p4sUqu-Aa – Michael’s Blog

Hillary Clinton talks NSA and privacy, data security, tech jobs in San Francisco | zdnet

Privacy and security are in a necessary but inevitable tension, reflected former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while speaking at data storage and software provider Nexenta’s OpenSDx Summit on Thursday.

Proposing this debate has been going on in the United States since the days of the Founding Fathers (with Clinton trading out “privacy” for “liberty”), Clinton observed how concerns over privacy reached a fever pitch following the revelations about the National Security Agency last year. [Read more]

Big Brother: Meet the Parents | Politico

You’ve heard of Big Oil and Big Tobacco. Now get ready for Big Parent.

Moms and dads from across the political spectrum have mobilized into an unexpected political force in recent months to fight the data mining of their children. In a frenzy of activity, they’ve catapulted student privacy — an issue that was barely on anyone’s radar last spring — to prominence in statehouses from New York to Florida to Wyoming.

A months-long review by POLITICO of student privacy issues, including dozens of interviews, found the parent privacy lobby gaining momentum — and catching big-data advocates off guard. Initially dismissed as a fringe campaign, the privacy movement has attracted powerful allies on both the left and right. The American Civil Liberties Union is pushing for more student privacy protection. So is the American Legislative Exchange Council, the organization of conservative legislators. [Read more]

Should Businesses Be Concerned about NSA Snooping? | American Thinker

The controversies surrounding government surveillance aren’t just a problem for U.S. citizens and the tech companies accused of participating in data collection efforts. In short, yes, business leaders in the U.S. should have very real concerns surrounding NSA snooping because these programs damage public trust and create international distrust that can cause major business deals to fall through. One of the most notorious examples occurred in late 2013, when Brazil passed on Boeing’s defense contract bid, selecting the Swedish company Saab instead for the $4.5 billion contract. This enormous loss has been attributed to the NSA spying tensions. These events can take a toll on consumers and companies at the social and political levels, which is why it’s important for business leaders to have a keen eye on the latest NSA news. [Read more]

The executive order that led to mass spying, as told by NSA alumni | ars technica

One thing sits at the heart of what many consider a surveillance state within the US today.

The problem does not begin with political systems that discourage transparency or technologies that can intercept everyday communications without notice. Like everything else in Washington, there’s a legal basis for what many believe is extreme government overreach—in this case, it’s Executive Order 12333, issued in 1981.

“12333 is used to target foreigners abroad, and collection happens outside the US,” whistleblower John Tye, a former State Department official, told Ars recently. “My complaint is not that they’re using it to target Americans, my complaint is that the volume of incidental collection on US persons is unconstitutional.” [Read more]

 

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