Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Last Call For One Hell Of A Coincidence

Business Insider writer Michael Kelley is asking the right questions here about our old friend Dudebro Defector and the NSA's sudden blind spot in Russia.

U.S. officials think that Russia recently obtained the ability to evade U.S. eavesdropping equipment while commandeering Crimea and amassing troops near Ukraine's border.

The revelation reportedly has the White House "very nervous," especially because it's unclear how the Kremlin hid its plans from the National Security Agency's snooping on digital and electronic communications.

One interesting fact involved is the presence of Edward Snowden in Russia, where he has been living since flying to Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23.

In July, primary Snowden source Glenn Greenwald told The Associated Press that Snowden "is in possession of literally thousands of documents that contain very specific blueprints that would allow somebody who read them to know exactly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that surveillance or replicate it."

So it's either a crazy coincidence that the Russians figured out how to evade NSA surveillance while hosting the NSA-trained hacker, or else it implies that Snowden provided the Russians with access to the NSA's blueprint.

No doubt Kelley's article is going to draw a massive screed from Double G and the usual suspects.  But as the people who support Snowden's actions remind us, we need to have a serious debate about American intelligence capabilities, and that includes debating the consequences of someone with the vast knowledge of these capabilities defecting to a foreign country.

I've said on a number of occasions that the actions of Snowden and his partners are not consistent with the goal of reigning in the NSA through existing means, but very consistent with the goal of taking it upon themselves to irreparably damage our intelligence-gathering abilities as a lesson to the Unites States government.

The threats have been made that if anything happens to Snowden, the full trove of information would be leaked

It's a reasonable question to ask if that's already happened.

Honey Badger Mode Activated

Sen. Harry Reid came out swinging Monday afternoon as the US Senate returned to work, noting that recent Republican filibustering of a Russian sanctions bill may not only have not helped portray the US as weak, but actually contributed to the Russian invasion of Crimea.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that Republicans may have helped Russia annex Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in a surprisingly sharp attack ahead of a test vote on a bill authorizing more U.S. sanctions on Russia and $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine.

Outlining the Senate's agenda after a one-week recess, the Nevada Democrat said the first item would be the Ukraine bill that Republicans blocked just before lawmakers went on break. He urged Republicans to consider "how their obstruction affects United States' national security as well as the people of Ukraine" and said their delay of any congressional action "sent a dangerous message to Russian leaders."

"Since a few Republicans blocked these important sanctions last work period, Russian lawmakers voted to annex Crimea and Russian forces have taken over Ukrainian military bases," Reid said. "It's impossible to know whether events would have unfolded differently if the United States had responded to Russian aggression with a strong, unified voice."

Reid's charge comes despite widespread support among Republicans and Democrats in Congress for providing Ukraine with much-needed economic assistance and hitting Russian President Vladimir Putin's government with sanctions.

And GOP Senate aides noted the House has passed different legislation, meaning the Senate bill could not have become law before recess anyhow. They blamed Reid and Democrats for blocking the Senate from taking up the House legislation.

Nice to see the former Golden Gloves boxer actually throw a few punches for once instead of constantly taking Republican shots on the jaw.  Yes, Republicans did block Senate legislation on Ukraine sanctions, and it's good that somebody pointed this out.

It's Taxpayer-Funded School Creationism Time!

Pay attention class, because this is what the rapidly growing charter school movement is doing to US science education.

Taxpayers in 14 states will bankroll nearly $1 billion this year in tuition for private schools, including hundreds of religious schools that teach Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve strolled the garden with dinosaurs, and much of modern biology, geology and cosmology is a web of lies.

Now a major push to expand these voucher programs is under way from Alaska to New York, a development that seems certain to sharply increase the investment.

Public debate about science education tends to center on bills like one in Missouri, which would allow public school parents to pull their kids from science class whenever the topic of evolution comes up. But the more striking shift in public policy has flown largely under the radar, as a well-funded political campaign has pushed to open the spigot for tax dollars to flow to private schools. Among them are Bible-based schools that train students to reject and rebut the cornerstones of modern science.

I've talked before about Jeb Bush and his privatization mess in Florida, from his for-profit disaster relief scam to his own charter school nonsense (the number one reason why he can never be allowed in the White House) but this is already a reality in a third of America and that number is growing as cash-strapped states are turning to church cash to fund schools.  And of course, there's a catch:

Decades of litigation have established that public schools cannot teach creationism or intelligent design. But private schools receiving public subsidies can — and do. A POLITICO review of hundreds of pages of course outlines, textbooks and school websites found that many of these faith-based schools go beyond teaching the biblical story of the six days of creation as literal fact. Their course materials nurture disdain of the secular world, distrust of momentous discoveries and hostility toward mainstream scientists. They often distort basic facts about the scientific method — teaching, for instance, that theories such as evolution are by definition highly speculative because they haven’t been elevated to the status of “scientific law.”

And this approach isn’t confined to high school biology class; it is typically threaded through all grades and all subjects.

One set of books popular in Christian schools calls evolution “a wicked and vain philosophy.” Another derides “modern math theorists” who fail to view mathematics as absolute laws ordained by God. The publisher notes that its textbooks shun “modern” breakthroughs — even those, like set theory, developed back in the 19th century. Math teachers often set aside time each week — even in geometry and algebra — to explore numbers in the Bible. Students learn vocabulary with sentences like, “Many scientists today are Creationists.

Awesome.  And it's only going to get worse.

Some 26 states are now considering enacting new voucher programs or expanding existing ones, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. One concept that is gaining popularity, on the table in eight states: setting up individual bank accounts stocked with state funds that parents can spend not just on tuition but also on tutors or textbooks, both secular and religious. On Friday, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled the approach constitutional; lawmakers there are already working to broaden eligibility.

Taxpayer money to buy creationist textbooks is just the tip of the iceberg.  We're setting up to produce a generation of FOX News viewers, fed from Kindergarten.

And they'll grow up to be FOX News voters, too.


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