GCHQ’s activities

While the NSA has been the focus of much my criticisms, its British counterpart the GCHQ has been even worse in its disregard for people’s privacy. Glenn Greenwald has a new story out today revealing more of its activities and its propaganda techniques to manipulate public opinion.
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Facing death-1: Why think about it?

I have been thinking about death quite a lot recently. Circumstances have forced this topic to the forefront of my mind. Don’t get me wrong. There are no signs that any time soon I will be shuffling off this mortal coil, checking out, kicking the bucket, snuffing out the candle, or any of the other euphemisms we use to avoid the word death. As far as I can tell, my body is ticking along nicely.
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More on the recent Obamacare rulings

Last Tuesday we had two conflicting rulings by two different US Appeals Courts, one ruling 2-1 that the Affordable Care Act only allowed tax credit subsidies if they were offered through the state-run health care exchanges while the other unanimously said that such subsidies could also be offered through the federal exchanges. Since 36 states belong to the latter category, the eventual outcome of this case has significant implications.
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US and Saudi Arabia cooperation

Saudi Arabia has one of the most brutal governments and repressive social practices. The terrible way it treats criminals and women and gays and indeed anyone who deviates from strict Islamic orthodoxy is legendary. Hence the US government’s close ties with that country and its reluctance to criticize its practices is noteworthy showing how the US’s concern for human rights is highly selective and largely driven by geopolitical interests.
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Are films really longer now?

I have been railing about the fact that so many films that I have seen recently are too damn long and would benefit from much tighter editing. But is it in fact the case that films are actually longer than they used to be? I intuitively thought they were but the data don’t seem to back me up.
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Reports of Israeli attacks on schools and hospitals

Richard Engel of NBC News says that the school that was hit by Israeli artillery was a designated UN refugee shelter which people went to seeking shelter from the aerial barrage. He shows one man who said his six children were blown to bits like scraps of paper. The UN official was adamant that there were no militants in the building. Four such schools have been attacked so far.
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A very moving interview

Actor George Takei was a guest on The Daily Show and Jon Stewart wisely decided not to make it a yuk-fest with Star Trek jokes but instead spent the time allowing Takei to describe the time during World War II when his family were herded into barbed-wire enclosed internment camps for the entire duration of the war purely because of their Japanese ethnicity or, as we say now, racial profiling.
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