Nebulous Swarm

May 23, 2014

eyeGround fog and a bit warmer than usual this way-early Friday on California’s north coast — and the weekend, for all practical purposes, is right around the corner.
The corner being today — a blind spot still.

Due to our constant cloud overhang, we might miss a big meteorite performance tonight and early in the morning — the Camelopardalids: For this never-before-seen shower, astronomers are predicting from 30 to perhaps hundreds of meteors an hour at the peak.

(Illustration: M.C. Escher’s ‘Eye‘ found here)

However, for the rest of America and the world — ‘Meteor observation doesn’t have to be rocket science: All you have to do is lie back in a comfortable place and look up at the sky with the naked eye,’ as related via

The naked eye for Americans and their privacy got popped with a shiner this week — the big, reformed way-mis-named USA Freedom Act got gutted deep into the sockets of decency. Although the Act, which was supposed to to end the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, was passed yesterday by the House 303 to 121, it was stripped of any real power.
From The Daily Beast:

In many ways the USA Freedom Act was meant to be an antidote to the much-derided USA Patriot Act.
When Congress passed the Patriot Act just weeks after 9/11, there was virtually no opposition to expanding government surveillance powers from either side of the aisle.
In fact, only a single Senator, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, took the unpopular position of rejecting the bill, warning fellow lawmakers that it would allow the government to “go on a fishing expedition and collect information on virtually anyone,” as long as it claims the information is “relevant” to a terrorism investigation.
Fast forward to 2013, when documents obtained by Edward Snowden revealed the government had actually gone far beyond what the law proscribed, radically reinterpreting in secret the law’s notion of “relevance” to allow the mass-collection of phone records from virtually every American citizen.
It created, in effect, a body of secret law concealed from the American public through court opinions issued by clandestine intelligence tribunals—many of which remain classified.
The goal of the Freedom Act was simple: end bulk collection on Americans and impose new transparency requirements on surveillance orders.
But after amendments were pushed through—without debate by the House Rules Committee—after backroom meetings with members of the intelligence community, the bill became too bitter a pill for NSA reformers to swallow.
Many of those who hyped the legislation in its initial stages pulled their support, worried a “gutted” bill would muzzle future calls for more comprehensive reform.

A shitload of folks were pissed.
From Mother Jones:

“I’m disappointed that this popular bipartisan bill has been so drastically weakened,” Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), a sponsor of the original bill, said.
Representative Rush Holt (D-N.J.) asked, “How could anyone vote for legislation that doesn’t uphold the constitutional standard of probable cause?”
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich), also an original sponsor who voted against the new version, wrote in a lengthy Facebook post, that the revised bill “doesn’t look much like the Freedom Act…It mocks our system of government that [President Obama and lawmakers] worked to gut key provisions of the Freedom Act behind closed doors.”

The 51 Republicans and 70 Democrats voted against the bill make up an unusual political coalition.
Republicans who voted no include Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)
“Under the finalized floor version of the USA Freedom Act, it would be completely legal for the NSA to request all records for an area code, zip code, or even all of the emails for accounts that start with the letter ‘A,’ all without a warrant,” Massie said on Facebook.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) said at the debate that she could not support the bill because it did not end bulk collection.
Rep. Peter Welch, (D-V.T.) tweeted, “It’s progress, but doesn’t do enough to rein in NSA.”

That’s a shitload of GOP assholes up there, so that indicates the bill sucks way-way-bad.
A swarm of space rocks in DC.

(Illustration out front found here).

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