Driving Blind: Militarized Education and the NSA
Bruce Schneier argues at The Atlantic that the U.S. government is commandeering the Internet. “Commandeering is a practice we’re used to in wartime, where commercial ships are taken for military use, or production lines are converted to military production,” writes Schneier. “But now it’s happening in peacetime. Vast swaths of the Internet are being commandeered to support this surveillance state.” While Schneier pleads for companies to “fight back” against government requests to hand over sensitive user information, it might help if customers first put more pressure on them to do so.
Jeffrey Rosen takes up a different angle at the New Republic, instead criticizing President Obama and the NSA for playing fast and loose with the meanings of words like “relevant” and “tangible.” Focusing on the administration’s 22-page White Paper describing how it interprets Section 215 of the Patriot Act, Rosen notes that the inclusion of “relevant” was meant to prohibit the government from bulk collection of metadata–not justify it. Representative James Sensenbrenner, the author of Section 215, said as much back in 2006 when the new language was drafted.
John Kemp at Reuters examines hydraulic fracturing in one British town to explore the contradictions in that country’s policies toward energy and economic growth. “Three-quarters of Balcombe’s homes have gas central heating, in line with the rest of the country (78 percent),” explains Kemp. “But Balcombe’s residents consume 30 percent more gas and 30 percent more electricity than the average for England…So where should oil and gas be produced, if not in prosperous and picturesque areas like Balcombe?”
Anthony Infanti claims that the burden placed on same-sex couples trying to navigate the post-DOMA landscape amounts to a tax. Using estimates ranging from $3,000 to $7,000, Infanti, argues that the costs associated with drafting shared-parenting agreements and other documents are nonetheless necessary. “This is a significant financial burden for any family. And like a tax, for gay and lesbian families, it is unavoidable. Just consider what happens when a same-sex couple can’t afford to pay the tax. The state government forcibly takes away the legal rights and obligations associated with the couple’s marriage.”
John W Whitehead laments what he sees as the quasi-prison like atmosphere permeating many public schools, writing that, “somewhere along the way, instead of making the schools safer, we simply managed to make them more authoritarian.” Just one creepy example: an iris scanning program that parents had to opt there children out of, even as 750 of them were scanned before being given this opportunity.
MUST READ: At The New York Times Peter Haas reports on how Edward Snowden eventually came into contact with the journalists he entrusted with his government leaks.