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Monthly Archive: October 2013

Oct 31 2013

Which state will be the last?

When we think of those states the US that are likely to be the last to accept same-sex marriage equality, the Bible Belt in the deep south tend to figure highly, with Mississippi and Alabama vying for the top (bottom?) spot. Al Madrigal of The Daily Show does some careful research to see which state …

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Oct 31 2013

Playing the 9/11 card

In a document obtained by Al Jazeera under the Freedom of Information Act, the NSA urges its officials to use 9/11 as a sound bite to deflect any questions about their snooping programs, giving them explicit language to use. And sure enough, NSA director Keith Alexander used it in his congressional testimony.

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Oct 31 2013

Is pope Francis a terrorist?

It turns out that the NSA was spying on all Vatican communications too, including those of pope Francis even before he became the pope and was just cardinal Jorge Bergoglio. The report is from an Italian newsmagazine and has not been confirmed but given all that we know about the NSA’s activities, it would not …

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Oct 31 2013

NSA uses front and back doors to gain access

And the Edward Snowden hits keep coming. Barton Gellman, one of the outlets for the NSA documents provided by Edward Snowden, has another big story that expands yet again the range of spying done by the NSA on American companies and Americans, even to the extent of storing actual content and not just metadata.

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Oct 31 2013

Looking for recommendations for a wedding DJ in the Cleveland area

My daughter is getting married in Cleveland in the summer (northern hemisphere!) of 2014 and she is looking for a DJ for the reception. The catch is that she has not lived in this area since 2004 and so does not know the local music scene. And of course I am a total washout when …

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Oct 31 2013

The rapid rise of racism in Israel

Max Blumenthal has spent considerable time in Israel and has written a new book Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel and he says that there is an increased right-wing trend in Israel, and that intolerance and outright racism are taking hold, even among the secular youth, and that these disturbing trends are being encouraged …

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Oct 30 2013

It can’t be wrong because everybody does it

It is rapidly becoming conventional wisdom, because of the determined effort to repeat it at every opportunity by supporters of the NSA and the national security state in general, that all these revelations of government spying is no big deal. Didn’t these people’s mothers’ tell them what mothers all over the globe tell their children …

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Oct 30 2013

The war on whistleblowers and publishing of leaks

British prime minister David Cameron is threatening to take action against British newspapers like The Guardian for publishing the Snowden leaks. He used as his excuse for such an action a newspaper report in which an anonymous security source had said that the leaks had hampered their terrorist investigations.

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Oct 30 2013

The myth of the Martian invasion panic

Today is the 75th anniversary of the famous radio broadcast of the Orson Welles production of the H. G. Wells story The War of the Worlds, that began with a series of fake news bulletins that announced an alien invasion and supposedly triggered widespread panic. There are bound to be news items that refer to …

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Oct 30 2013

Why aren’t atheists more politically influential?

YouGov has a new poll that says that only 76% of Americans believe in a god. Why do I say ‘only’ when it is a large majority? Because it really is quite surprising that a quarter of the public in America say they do not believe in a god. Recall that previous polls have put …

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