President Obama-Maduro forced to walk back two Stasi State endeavors......
DHS Cancels Plan For National License Plate Tracking System
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/22/2014 12:25 -0500
Fresh on the heels of the administration's decision to embed "government researchers" in the mainstream media to make sure they are doing their job properly (just as Maduro has decreed in Venezuela and punished CNN for?), we find out that the Department of Homeland Security planned to outsource the creation of a gigantic, comprehensive nationwide license plate database to a private corporation enabling license plate recognition "to catch illegal immigrants." However, after extreme pushback by privacy advocates, WaPo reportsthe DHS has cancelled the plan amid "a serious management problem within this DHS component that currently does not have a director nominated by the president."
Mike Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog describes the original plan...
The status quo is now overtly doubling down on surveillance in the wake of the Snowden revelations rather than reigning them in. Game is on folks. Things are getting very serious.
From the Washington Post:
The Department of Homeland Security wants a private company to provide a national license-plate tracking system that would give the agency access to vast amounts of information from commercial and law enforcement tag readers,according to a government proposal that does not specify what privacy safeguards would be put in place.The national license-plate recognition database, which would draw data from readers that scan the tags of every vehicle crossing their paths, would help catch fugitive illegal immigrants, according to a DHS solicitation. But the database could easily contain more than 1 billion records and could be shared with other law enforcement agencies, raising concerns that the movements of ordinary citizens who are under no criminal suspicion could be scrutinized.
It’s for the children! How can you object to saving the children!
“It is important to note that this database would be run by a commercial enterprise, and the data would be collected and stored by the commercial enterprise, not the government,” she said.
Yeah, because that makes me feel so much better…
But civil liberties groups are not assuaged. “Ultimately, you’re creating a national database of location information,” said Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “When all that data is compiled and aggregated, you can track somebody as they’re going through their life.”The agency said the length of time the data is retained would be up to the winning vendor.Vigilant Solutions, for instance, one of the leading providers of tag-reader data, keeps its records indefinitely.Nationwide, local police as well as commercial companies are gathering license-plate data using various means. One common method involves drivers for repossession companies methodically driving up and down streets with cameras mounted on their cars snapping photos of vehicles. Some police forces have cameras mounted on patrol cars. Other images may be retrieved from border crossings, interstate highway on-ramps and toll plazas.Some questions about ICE’s plan remain open. The agency could not say how long the data would be stored, which other law enforcement agencies would have access to it and what constitutes an “investigative lead” to allow database querying.The DHS effort arises as states are confronting policy choices about the use of license-plate readers. Laws vary across jurisdictions on how long data can be stored and who may have access. Some delete the data after 48 hours. Others keep it indefinitely. About 20 states have passed or proposed legislation that would restrict the use of such readers or the storage of the data. Utah has a law prohibiting commercial companies from using automated high-speed cameras to photograph license plates. Vigilant has filed a First Amendment lawsuit to overturn the ban.
Full article here.
And the follow-up:
The DHS has canceled the plan due to outrage. This is what we can achieve if we are informed and keep the pressure on. I expect them to be back at it in the future, so stay vigilant.
February 22, 2014
February 22, 2014
The FCC may have suspended its invasion into American newsrooms, but the controversial “Critical Information Needs” study also has George Soros’ fingerprints all over it.
While disturbing, this should come as no surprise since Soros’ gave more than $52 million to media organizations from 2000-2010.
Two schools were working with FCC on the project, according to Byron York of The Washington Examiner. The University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Communication and Democracy, were tasked by the FCC with coming up with criteria for what information is “critical” for Americans to have. The FCC study would have covered newspapers, websites, radio and television, according to The Washington Post.
On top of the 1st Amendment problems with this proposal, the schools involved have strong ties to liberal billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and have gotten more than $1.8 million from since 2000.
Feds cutting water to California though......
Feds Withhold Water To California Farmers For First Time In 54 Years
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/21/2014 20:49 -0500
The US Bureau of Reclamation released its first outlook of the year and finds insufficient stock is available in California to release irrigation water for farmers. This is the first time in the 54 year history of the State Water Project. "If it's not there, it's just not there," notes a Water Authority director adding that it's going to be tough to find enough water, but farmers are hit hardest as "they're all on pins and needles trying to figure out how they're going to get through this." Fields will go unplanted (supply lower mean food prices higher), or farmers will pay top dollar for water that's on the market (and those costs can only be passed on via higher food prices).
Federal officials announced Friday that many California farmers caught in the state's drought can expect to receive no irrigation water this year from a vast system of rivers, canals and reservoirs interlacing the state.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released its first outlook of the year, saying that the agency will continue to monitor rain and snow fall, but the grim levels so far prove that the state is in the throes of one of its driest periods in recorded history.
Unless the year turns wet, many farmers can expect to receive no water from the federally run Central Valley Project.
... the state's snowpack is at 29 percent of average for this time of year.
California officials who manage the State Water Project, the state's other major water system, have already said they won't be releasing any water for farmers, marking a first in its 54-year history.
"They're all on pins and needles trying to figure out how they're going to get through this," Holman said, adding that Westland's 700 farmers will choose to leave fields unplanted, draw water from wells or pay top dollar for water that's on the market.
Farmers are hit hardest, but they're not alone.Contractors that provide cities with water can expect to receive half of their usual amount, the Bureau said, and wildlife refuges that need water flows in rivers to protect endangered fish will receive 40 percent of their contracted supply.
Contractors that provide farmers with water and hold historic agreements giving them senior rights will receive 40 percent of their normal supplies. Some contracts date back over a century and guarantee that farmers will receive at least 75 percent of their water.
One of those is the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority in Los Banos that provides irrigation for 240,000 acres of farmland.
The Water Authority's executive director Steve Chedester said farmers he serves understand that the reality of California's drought means it's going to be tough to find enough water for them. "They're taking a very practical approach," he said. "If it's not there, it's just not there."
They're running scared.
They have to be. Otherwise, why would the FCC want to insert itself into newsrooms to determine who selects which stories to run?
I'm certainly frightened to hear that our government feels it is their job to monitor our newsrooms, but then it hit me: They are on the defense.
The alternative media is on the offense.
It's bad news, but it's also good news.
I'm happy to be a part of a website such as TF Metals Report that can break through the mainstream media clutter and share some unfiltered perspectives.
The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…" But under the Obama administration, the Federal Communications Commission is planning to send government contractors into the nation's newsrooms to determine whether journalists are producing articles, television reports, Internet content, and commentary that meets the public's "critical information needs." Those "needs" will be defined by the administration, and news outlets that do not comply with the government's standards could face an uncertain future. It's hard to imagine a project more at odds with the First Amendment.
The initiative, known around the agency as "the CIN Study" (pronounced "sin"), is a bit of a mystery even to insiders. "This has never been put to an FCC vote, it was just announced," says Ajit Pai, one of the FCC's five commissioners (and one of its two Republicans). "I've never had any input into the process," adds Pai, who brought the story to the public's attention in a Wall Street Journal column last week.
Advocates promote the project with Obama-esque rhetoric. "This study begins the charting of a course to a more effective delivery of necessary information to all citizens," said FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn in 2012. Clyburn, daughter of powerful House Democratic Rep. James Clyburn, was appointed to the FCC by President Obama and served as acting chair for part of last year. The FCC, Clyburn said, "must emphatically insist that we leave no American behind when it comes to meeting the needs of those in varied and vibrant communities of our nation -- be they native born, immigrant, disabled, non-English speaking, low-income, or other." (The FCC decided to test the program with a trial run in Ms. Clyburn's home state, South Carolina.)
The FCC commissioned the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Communication and Democracy to do a study defining what information is "critical" for citizens to have. The scholars decided that "critical information" is information that people need to "live safe and healthy lives" and to "have full access to educational, employment, and business opportunities," among other things.
The study identified eight "critical needs": information about emergencies and risks; health and welfare; education; transportation; economic opportunities; the environment; civic information; and political information.
It's not difficult to see those topics quickly becoming vehicles for political intimidation. In fact, it's difficult to imagine that they wouldn't. For example, might the FCC standards that journalists must meet on the environment look something like the Obama administration's environmental agenda? Might standards on economic opportunity resemble the president's inequality agenda? The same could hold true for the categories of health and welfare and "civic information" -- and pretty much everything else.
"An enterprising regulator could run wild with a lot of these topics," says Pai. "The implicit message to the newsroom is they need to start covering these eight categories in a certain way or otherwise the FCC will go after them."
The FCC awarded a contract for the study to a Maryland-based company called Social Solutions International. In April 2013, Social Solutions presented a proposal outlining a process by which contractors hired by the FCC would interview news editors, reporters, executives and other journalists.
"The purpose of these interviews is to ascertain the process by which stories are selected," theSocial Solutions report said, adding that news organizations would be evaluated for "station priorities (for content, production quality, and populations served), perceived station bias, perceived percent of news dedicated to each of the eight CINs, and perceived responsiveness to underserved populations."
There are a lot of scary words for journalists in that paragraph. And not just for broadcasters; the FCC also proposes to regulate newspapers, which it has no authority to do. (Its mission statement says the FCC "regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable…")
Questioning about the CIN Study began last December, when the four top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked the FCC to justify the project. "The Commission has no business probing the news media's editorial judgment and expertise," the GOP lawmakers wrote, "nor does it have any business in prescribing a set diet of 'critical information.'"
If the FCC goes forward, it's not clear what will happen to news organizations that fall short of the new government standards. Perhaps they will be disciplined. Or perhaps the very threat of investigating their methods will nudge them into compliance with the administration's journalistic agenda. What is sure is that it will be a gross violation of constitutional rights.
Obama Administration Embeds "Government Researchers" To Monitor Media Organizations
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/20/2014 20:59 -0500
Submitted by Mike Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,
Last week, I highlighted the fact that the latestPress Freedom Index showcased a 13 point plunge in America’s press freedom to an embarrassing #46 position in the global ranking. If the authoritarians in the Obama Administration have their way, this country is set to fall much further in next year’s index.
Incredibly, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to roll out something called the Critical Information Needs study, which will embed government “researchers” into media organizations around the nation to make sure they are doing their job properly.
No this isn’t “conspiracy theory.” It is so real, and represents such a threat to the First Amendment, that a current FCC commissioner, Ajit Pai, recently wrote an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal, warning Americans of this scheme. He writes:
News organizations often disagree about what Americans need to know. MSNBC, for example, apparently believes that traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., is the crisis of our time. Fox News, on the other hand, chooses to cover the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi more heavily than other networks. The American people, for their part, disagree about what they want to watch.But everyone should agree on this: The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.Unfortunately, the Federal Communications Commission, where I am a commissioner, does not agree. Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.
The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”
I have no idea what country I am living in at this point.
How does the FCC plan to dig up all that information? First, the agency selected eight categories of “critical information” such as the “environment” and “economic opportunities,” that it believes local newscasters should cover. It plans to ask station managers, news directors, journalists, television anchors and on-air reporters to tell the government about their “news philosophy” and how the station ensures that the community gets critical information.Participation in the Critical Information Needs study is voluntary—in theory. Unlike the opinion surveys that Americans see on a daily basis and either answer or not, as they wish, the FCC’s queries may be hard for the broadcasters to ignore. They would be out of business without an FCC license, which must be renewed every eight years.Should all stations follow MSNBC’s example and cut away from a discussion with a former congresswoman about the National Security Agency’s collection of phone records to offer live coverage of Justin Bieber‘s bond hearing? As a consumer of news, I have an opinion. But my opinion shouldn’t matter more than anyone else’s merely because I happen to work at the FCC.
I am simply speechless.
Read the full Op-Ed here.
February 20, 2014
February 20, 2014
For the last 10 days, FCC-watchers have been abuzz about the commission’s upcoming attempt to “identify and understand the critical information needs of the American public.” Anxieties about the study have been afoot for a while, but the recent furor began on February 10, when Ajit Pai, a Republican commissioner at the agency, published an op-ed attacking the idea in The Wall Street Journal. Warning that the effort was the “first step down” the “dangerous path” of “newsroom policing,” Pai made his case against the study:
Let’s see…can I use the UNITED STATES OF PARANOIA cover for this one? No? Hmm…OK, let me pull out this older one.With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”
FCC researchers would pressure the press on what to cover
Paul Joseph Watson
February 19, 2014
February 19, 2014
The American Center for Law and Justice is warning of an Obama administration plan to place government monitors in newsrooms via an FCC proposal that could turn every major news network and newspaper into little more than a state media mouthpiece.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai recently lifted the lid on a shocking White House proposal entitled ‘Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs’ that would dispatch researchers from the federal agency “to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run.”
According to Pai, the program is about “pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.” In other words – the fairness doctrine on steroids.
“That’s right, the Obama Administration has developed a formula of what it believes the free press should cover, and it is going to send government monitors into newsrooms across America to stand over the shoulders of the press as they make editorial decisions,” writes the ACLJ’s Matthew Clark, noting that the plan would also extend to newspapers, which the FCC doesn’t even have any business being involved with.
Distrust in mainstream media has been on a steady decline for years, with a recent Gallup poll confirming that just 23 per cent of Americans trust the institution of television news. This lack of confidence has driven ratings down, with MSNBC losing almost half of its viewers over the course of just 12 months, shedding 45 per cent of its audience. CNN also lost 48 per cent of its viewers over the same time period.
The United States’ world ranking in terms of freedom of the press also recently fell to number 46, below the likes of South Africa, Slovenia and Lithuania.
Earlier this month, the New York Times’s own writers told a newspaper that NY Times opinion pieces are now seen as “irrelevant” and have no impact on public discourse whatsoever.
The FCC’s attempt to police newsrooms is a desperate attempt to redress the fact that, as Hillary Clinton admitted, the Obama administration is “losing the information war” to other news sources whose audiences are growing.
However, those alternative news outlets are not growing because of slick propaganda, they are stealing audience share from the mainstream because they at least try to act in an adversarial role to the state rather than being a conduit for its talking points.
“Every major repressive regime of the modern era has begun with an attempt to control and intimidate the press,” warns Clark, adding, “It’s hard to imagine anything more brazenly Orwellian than government monitors in newsrooms.”