Surveillance

(Update: Audio recordings of the Cass County Commission meetings are available through the County Clerk’s office.)

Surveillance.

sur·veil·lance  

/sərˈvāləns/
Noun: Close observation, esp. of a suspected spy or criminal.
Synonyms: supervision – superintendence – oversight – control

 

A FB friend posted a link to the column in the UK Guardian about Verizon being ordered to send customer call data to the NSA. I saw a copy of what was purported to be the court order last night. It was four pages and was, to the best of my memory, identical to the one all communication carriers received around 2003 after the Patriot Act was passed.

The order we received back then was a preparatory order to allow the carriers time to put in place methods to retrieve Call Detail Records (CDRs) when requested by the FedGov. My area of the company created CDRs for specialty call centers used to help the deaf and hard-of-hearing communicate with hearing folks. The call centers were used for mundane things such as ordering pizza, making appointments, etc.

The processes we added were basically search engines. When we were given a telephone number and other criteria, such as receiving an international call or making one, making a call to, receiving a call from a specific number, we would extract the CDR for those calls and send them on to our legal department who interacted with the appropriate FedGov department.

In the following years, I can remember being requested to provide CDRs twice. In both cases, I was told, one of the parties were being investigated for some criminal act. I never really knew the details.

The bottom line is that we were never ordered to send Call Detail Records en mass, without some filtering, and then only for specific numbers. The supposed court order I read last night seemed to be worded the same as the one I read back around 2003.

That call detail records for specific numbers are being sent to the FedGov under court order is a fact. It’s governed by FISA, as amended in 2008. However, in this era of pseudo-journalism, is this “new” report, a change? That’s the real question.

We see so many reports today on Facebook and other social media sites, from various news websites and many stretch credibility. Many, very many, are subsequently proven to be false, complete fiction. However, the initial report frequently becomes viral, spreading throughout the internet. Everyone sees it. Few, however, never see the followup that proves the initial report false. Many who read the first report and pass it on, unfortunately, never send the correction—nor care, if it is contrary to their ideology.

When I see reports such as these, I try to perform my own due diligence. I read several reports on the subject, read, if possible, the original source documents and do my best to evaluate the validity of the report. I often find the initial report to be true. Just as often, unfortunately, I find the original report to be questionable or false.

This particular report about Verizon, has not, yet, passed my smell test. Without further confirmation, it stinks a bit. Why? The supposed order I read on the internet (link to it above,) has no date other than an expiration date in the body of the text. It appears to be a photo-copy. It has no classification stamps as I would expect and the document itself declares.

When I still had access to classified documents, every page was stamped, not just the cover-sheet. Classified documents had a specific form and format. If the copy being shown on the internet is a true photocopy, I would expect to see classification stamps on every page. That, and some other indicators, make me doubt its authenticity. It may be incomplete, or have been altered. I don’t know.

You, however, must decide on your own. Me? I’m waiting for more information. What I’ve seen so far, is lacking credibility.

A Review of KC Star articles

Survived the weekend.

That used to be a joke.  But…as we get older it becomes prophetic perhaps. I had a PT session Friday afternoon. On the way home I stopped at our park and walked a bit.  It was cloudy and threatening rain. The rain just threatened and fortunately, never appeared.  By the time I got home, I was whupped.

Saturday and Sunday was reserved for graduation parties. On Saturday, one of our church boys, man rather, graduated from Pitt State with an Education degree. Sunday was the graduation party for our church’s high school grads. We had two, a boy and a girl. They graduated from two different schools. They have known each other a long time and we expect a wedding at some time in the future.  They are a part of our church family and we’re all close-knit. These two, as a couple, have had some really stressful problems to overcome; they have done so successfully beyond most of our expectations.  Both will be heading off to college next fall and we wish them well.

The parties, the scurrying around, Mother’s Day prep, what a weekend.  I’m glad it’s over.

***

The rezident political commissar at the KC Star must have been out of town this last week.  The Star actually performed a Random Act of Journalism. Not only did the paper commit an act of journalism, it was about a union—a big liberal contributing union complete with three families of nepotists living grandly off the union membership while those members are losing jobs and the union rolls are dropping. Usually, the Star is nothing more than a liberal propaganda organ. This time they actually reported something important.

Boilermakers union leaders receive lofty pay, benefits

By JUDY L. THOMAS, The Kansas City Star

A prime suite at Kansas Speedway. First-class travel. Six-figure salaries for half the staffers. Plenty of plum jobs for family members.

Life is good at the top of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers.

The union, with its headquarters in Kansas City, Kan., represents about 59,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada who make and repair boilers, fit pipes and work on ships and power plants. The recession has hit their trade hard, reducing union membership.

At the same time, the president’s salary has surged 67 percent in the past six years, not counting a recent raise. Add in travel and some other expenses, and Newton B. Jones totaled more than $600,000 last year, putting him at the absolute top of the presidents of the dozen biggest unions in the country.

The Boilermakers value families — of officers, certainly. Many relatives ride the payroll.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/05/12/3608026/united-in-largesse-boilermakers.html#storylink=cpy

***

If you scan that same webpage of the KC Star you may see this headline. There’s no accompanying text to explain it, just a video. The only viewpoint you get, the only explanation of the article is the contents of the video. The video is  anti-Romney propaganda. The Commissar had his finger in this one. Oh, and that website, Midwestdemocracy.com? That’s the KC Star’s writers blog.

Obama uses KC steel plant in ad targeting Romney — but ad won’t run in KC

The ad mentioned in the title is a closed steel plant in eastern KC.  The primary product was steel wire in various forms.  There is no text in the story, just a video of the ad.  The reason it’s not being shown in KC is that we locals know the real reason the plant closed: unions, strikes, the refusal of the union to allow upgrades in the plant equipment (would cost some jobs donchaknow?), increasing operating costs due to the union wage scale and out-of-date equipment—equipment that was failing at an increasing rate due to lack of parts—many which had to be made on site. I serviced computers at that plant. I visited it regularly. I saw first hand the problems operating that plant.  It’s closing was NOT the fault of Bain Capital. It closed due to the direct acts of the steel workers union.

The ad was created for Obama’s re-election campaign to blame the closing on Romney. It won’t be shown in KC. We know it’s a lie from beginning to end. The union killed the steel plant, not Romney. Businesses can not be operated at a loss and that’s what happened to that steel plant.

You didn’t see those counter-arguments on the blog site, though. The video was presented complete and without explanation, as fact. That was an endorsement by the Kansas City Star.

They think we’re stupid.

They’re wrong.

***

This report from the KC Star caught my eye.  On the surface it appears to be about unequal application of the law.  Some years ago the Missouri Legislature passed a law governing the treatment, sentencing and post-incarceration activities of sex-offenders. A reader asked why these laws weren’t being applied to some individuals.

Christine Vendel | Missouri laws are in a time machine

By CHRISTINE VENDEL, The Kansas City Star

A Cass County resident recently wrote me to ask why a particular sex offender didn’t have to comply with the same laws that other sex offenders do.

I think the resident posed it as a rhetorical question, to point out that this guy was getting away with breaking laws.

But the fact is the offender doesn’t have to comply with the same laws as other offenders.

The reason lies in an unusual provision in the Missouri Constitution that forbids retrospective application of civil laws. Missouri is one of five states to contain such a provision.

So although Missouri passed a “buffer zone” law forbidding certain sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools or day cares, it only applies to offenders whose crimes occurred after June 5, 2006, when the law was last altered.

For example, the Cass County resident wondered why the sex offender could work at a business that employs teenagers. He also allegedly lives near a youth sports area.

His probation contained 10 restrictions, including that he have no contact with minors and avoid places that entertain or cater to children, like zoos and libraries. But he completed probation years ago and those restrictions no longer apply.

Legislators have tried at least three times since 2008 to allow citizens to vote to change the constitution, to allow the laws regarding sex offenders to be applied retrospectively. The most recent effort died last week when it failed to pass the House Judiciary Committee.

But experts say a constitutional amendment may not legally permit laws already on the books to be used retrospectively because the right has already been vested. Laws passed in the future, however, could benefit from the change.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/05/10/3605120/christine-vendel-missouri-laws.html#storylink=cpy

There’s a provision in the U. S. Constitution prohibiting Ex Post Facto laws, law created “after the fact.” That is what is at issue here.  As despicable as is the crime, our Constitution prohibits applying law retroactively.  There is a very real reason why we don’t want Ex Post Facto law. For instance, would all you libs care to have a law that any journalist who committed plagiarism be imprisoned? Anything you wrote all the way back to the first grand in elementary school?

No, I didn’t think so.  The principle is the same regardless of the offense.

Mz Vendel thinks we should ignore that provision of the Constitution.  She acknowledges it is a hindrance but she thinks legislation can change this constitutional prohibition.  (Where have we heard this before? Oh, yes, from Obama’s defense before the US Supreme Court on Obamacare.) Mz Venel appears to believe the same.

The Star’s Rezident Commissar must have returned when Mz Vendel submitted her story. It’s approach certainly is different from the one about the Boilermaker’s Union.

***

I had a momentary hope when I read the Boilermakers Union report that the KC Star had actually returned to its social function. Root out the news, report the news factually, and present the news in a fair and factual manner.  Silly of me, wasn’t it?

Dirty Little Secret

There’s s story passing around the internet at the moment about a man who robbed a bank of $1 and then stood by to be arrested.  Why?  To get the free health-care available to jail inmates.

Of course the media glommed on to the story like fleas on a dog.  they took the story and presented at face value. It fit their political and world-views.  It was also totally false.

Oh, he really did rob the bank.  That’s true.  His motivation, however, had no validity.  Why?  Because all around the country, indigent people have access to free health-care.  All they have to do is look a bit.

Here’s a piece from Investor’s Business Daily that looks into this story and fills out the background.

A Phony Tale Of Woe

Health Care: The story currently making the rounds about the guy who robbed a bank for $1 to get free jailhouse health care is supposed to expose how terrible our medical system is. It actually exposes something worse.
It’s a story tailor made for the news media. James Verone, an out-of-work 59-year-old, robbed a bank in Gastonia, N.C., for $1.
Then he waited patiently for the cops to arrest him.
In an interview with a local TV station, Verone claimed it was out of sheer desperation. He needed health care and had no other way to get it than through the free care provided in jail.
The story flew across the Web and was picked up by ABC News, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Good Morning America and any number of local papers.

Not surprising, since it fit perfectly into one of the media’s cherished memes.

Come see how terrible health care is in the United States! The most expensive in the world, and yet it forces people to take desperate acts to get treatment! Thank goodness for ObamaCare!
There’s just one little, inconvenient fact missing from all this coverage. Verone had access to free care — outside of jail — and plenty of it.
The dirty secret about our health care system is that it is, in fact, very generous to the poor. A recent study from the N.C. Justice Center notes that North Carolina hospitals provided $694 million in free care in 2008.
Nationwide, hospitals provide more than $34 billion in unpaid care. Then there are all the private charities, Medicaid, and various other state and federal programs that offer the poor and destitute access to care.
A hospital in Gastonia, N.C., — Gaston Memorial Hospital — offers discounts up to 100% to low-income patients. There’s also a free health clinic just five miles from where Verone robbed that bank, and many more in nearby Charlotte.
If he wanted to travel a bit farther, Verone could have availed himself of the state-of-the-art medical facilities at the University of North Carolina, whose mandate is to provide “medically necessary health care to the citizens of North Carolina, regardless of their ability to pay.”
That our hapless bank robber apparently didn’t know about any of this is excusable.
But the fact that not one reporter trafficking this story bothered to point these facts out is an example of gross dereliction of duty or extreme bias — or both.

“But the fact that not one reporter trafficking this story bothered to point these facts out is an example of gross dereliction of duty or extreme bias — or both.”  This quote is the real reality of the story. The incompetency and bias of the Main Stream Media. 

And people wonder why newspapers and other print media are failing and why FOX continues to outpace all other contenders for cable news.  More and more, the people of this nation realize that the MSM, or state media to be more accurate, is a failure and nothing but a tool of the statists who covet this nation.

Cartoon of the Day: Michael Ramirez

I suddenly got swamped with some projects and helping a friend fix her computer.  Consequently, I’ve not had time to research for a regular post for today.  Tomorrow may be no better. While I’m tied up, here a Michael Ramirez cartoon that “may” educate some so-called journalists. I’m not holding my breath.