Under CISPA, any company can “use cybersecurity systems to identify and obtain cyber threat information to protect the rights and property” of the company, and then share that information with third parties, including the government, so long as it is for “cybersecurity purposes.” Whenever these prerequisites are met, CISPA is written broadly enough to permit your communications service providers to share your emails and text messages with the government, or your cloud storage company could share your stored files.
Right now, well-established laws like the Cable Communications Policy Act, the Wiretap Act, the Video Privacy Protection Act, and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act provide judicial oversight and other privacy protections that prevent companies from unnecessarily sharing your private information, including the content of your emails.
And these laws expressly allow lawsuits against companies that go too far in divulging your private information. CISPA threatens these protections by declaring that key provisions in CISPA are effective “notwithstanding any other law,” a phrase that essentially means CISPA would override the relevant provisions in all other laws—including privacy laws. CISPA also creates a broad immunity for companies against both civil and criminal liability. CISPA provides more legal cover for companies to share large swaths of potentially personal and private information with the government."
Some of the objectionable provisions within CISPA:
"- Eviscerating existing privacy laws by giving overly broad legal immunity to companies who share users' private information, including the content of communications, with the government.
- Authorizing companies to disclose users’ data directly to the NSA, a military agency that operates secretly and without public accountability.
- Broad definitions that allow users’ sensitive personal information to be used for a range of purposes as long as it pertains to "cybersecurity"."
The dramatic recent events in Cyprus have highlighted the fundamental weakness in the European banking system and the extreme fragility of fractional reserve banking. Cypriot banks invested heavily in Greek sovereign debt, and last summer's Greek debt restructuring resulted in losses equivalent to more than 25 percent of Cyprus' GDP. These banks then took their bad investments to the government, demanding a bailout from an already beleaguered Cypriot treasury. The government of Cyprus then turned to the European Union (EU) for a bailout.
The terms insisted upon by the troika (European Commission, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund) before funding the bailout were nothing short of highway robbery. While bank depositors have traditionally been protected in the event of bankruptcy or liquidation, the troika insisted that all bank depositors pay a tax of between 6.75 and 10 percent of their total deposits to help fund the bailout.
While one can sympathize with EU taxpayers not wanting to fund yet another bailout of a poorly-managed banking system, forcing the Cypriot people to pay for the foolish risks taken by their government and bankers is also criminal. In their desire to punish a “tax haven” catering supposedly to Russian oligarchs, the EU elites ensured that ordinary citizens would suffer just as much as foreign depositors. Imagine the reaction if in September 2008, the US government had financed its $700 billion bank bailout by directly looting American taxpayers' bank accounts!
While the Cypriot parliament rejected that first proposal, they will have no say in the final proposal delivered by the EU and IMF: deposits over 100,000 euros are likely to see losses of at least 40 percent and possibly as much as 80 percent. “Temporary” capital controls that were supposed to last for days will now last at least a month and might remain in effect for years.
Especially affected have been the elderly, who were unable to use ATMs or to transfer money electronically. Despite the fact that ATMs severely limited the size of withdrawals during the two week-long bank closure, reports indicated that account holders who had access to Cypriot bank branches in London and Athens were able to withdraw most of their funds, leading to speculation that there would be no money available when banks finally opened up again. In other words, the supposed Russian oligarch money may well be already gone.
Remember that under a fractional reserve banking system only a small percentage of deposits is kept on hand for dispersal to depositors. The rest of the money is loaned out. Not only are many of the loans made by these banks going bad, but the reserve requirement in Euro-system countries is only one percent! If just one euro out of every hundred is withdrawn from banks, the bank reserves would be completely exhausted and the whole system would collapse. Is it any wonder, then, that the EU fears a major bank run and has shipped billions of euros to Cyprus?
The elites in the EU and IMF failed to learn their lesson from the popular backlash to these tax proposals, and have openly talked about using Cyprus as a template for future bank bailouts. This raises the prospect of raids on bank accounts, pension funds, and any investments the government can get its hands on. In other words, no one's money is safe in any financial institution in Europe. Bank runs are now a certainty in future crises, as the people realize that they do not really own the money in their accounts. How long before bureaucrat and banker try that here?
Unfortunately, all of this is the predictable result of a fiat paper money system combined with fractional reserve banking. When governments and banks collude to monopolize the monetary system so that they can create money out of thin air, the result is a business cycle that wreaks havoc on the economy. Pyramiding more and more loans on top of a tiny base of money will create an economic house of cards just waiting to collapse. The situation in Cyprus should be both a lesson and a warning to the United States. We need to end the Federal Reserve, stay away from propping up the euro, and return to a sound monetary system.
When John Kerry was confirmed as Secretary of State last week his first promise was to bring “new ideas” to the job. Particularly, he promised a new approach to the two-year long civil war in Syria. He immediately set out on a “listening tour” of Europe and the Middle East, presumably to help formulate those new ideas.
So what was Kerry’s big “new idea” on Syria? Drag the United States further into the conflict by promising to send the rebels an additional $60 million in aid. Only among the Washington foreign policy establishment could a promise to redouble efforts on an old idea be repackaged as a “new idea.” New ideas, old ideas, new approaches, improved approaches – they always seem to be the same thing: calls for more US intervention in conflicts thousands of miles away that have nothing to do with us.
The Kerry plan is to overtly provide more medical and food aid to armed insurgents seeking to overthrow the Syrian government. In directly assisting rebels with material that will help them fight more effectively, the US is signaling its new role as an open participant in the conflict. Can US weapons and troops be too far behind? The administration hopes that none of the aid it provides to US-backed rebels falls into the hands of other groups like the radical Islamist al-Nusra Front, which the US has designated a terrorist group. Yet according to press reports there is little separation on the ground between the various groups. It seems unreasonable to believe that assistance provided to one group will not wind up in the hands of another group.
Both Iraq and Libya have turned out to be far more radical and dangerous after their “liberation” that was supposed to usher in governments friendly to the United States. Does it make any sense to believe that Syria will be any different?
Kerry’s new ideas are actually old ideas, and they have over and over been proven to be bad ideas. Just as President Obama has shown that his foreign policy is more aggressive and warmongering than that of his predecessor, the new more “moderate” secretary of state shows us that he has every intention of furthering the notion that diplomacy flows from the barrel of a gun. Our interventionist foreign policy is bankrupting the country and turning the world against us. It must come to an end.
The United States has been at war in Afghanistan for over 11 years, which makes it the longest war with US ground troops in history.
The Congressional Research Service says the US has spent $557 billion in Afghanistan from 2001 through 2012.
66,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan as of January 2013.
Reports indicate the Administration may decide to keep as many as 15,000 US troops in Afghanistan in 2015 and beyond.
Over 2,000 US soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan and tens of thousands have come home wounded.
Therefore, We the People demand all US troops be brought home from Afghanistan now.
The first casualty of 2013 was of a 28 year old soldier killed on January 10, and only two national media news organization have reported on it (no CNN, NY Times, Reuters, etc). Now, Mitch McConnell is saying that we need at least 10,000 troops beyond 2014 and the Administration is deciding how many to leave behind rather than when to bring them all home. Please sign to bring the issue back into media attention.
‘Fiscal Cliff’ Vote Shows How Washington Really Works
Last week the Senate and House demonstrated again why their approval ratings are so low. The 154 page “fiscal cliff” bill was made available to Senators just three minutes before the vote was taken on the legislation. No one can read 154 pages in three minutes, so it is safe to assume that the legislation was passed without being read.
Then the House brought the lengthy and complicated bill to a vote just 22 hours after the text had been available, meaning a full reading of the legislation was not likely possible. This was a clear violation of the “three day rule” adopted by the 112th Congress, which in the name of transparency ordered the House to make legislation available to the public a full three days before a Floor vote.
Perhaps this race to a vote, amid cries of the end of the world without a solution to the manufactured crisis, explains why an even greater than usual amount of special-interest carve-outs made it into the bill.
Article 1, Section 7 of the US Constitution clearly states that “All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives,” but as has been done many times, the Senate simply attached its bill to an existing House bill and claimed that this Constitutional requirement had been satisfied.
If the process was dishonest and unconstitutional, the content of the bill was even worse.
The “rescue” legislation was packed full of special tax deals for well-connected corporations with the money to hire high-profile lobbyists – usually those who have spent a good deal of time as legislators themselves.
The principle of tax cuts and breaks themselves are not the problem, however. It is incorrect to view any return of tax money to its rightful owner as money taken from the government. Wealth belongs to those who generate it not to government. However, while well-connected special interests like Hollywood and rum manufacturers were being granted targeted tax assistance, the vast majority of Americans were being hit with a significant tax increase in the form of higher payroll taxes. Rather than cut a dime from federal spending, this bill granted breaks to the corporate elites and paid for the “lost revenue” by passing the costs on to the rest of us.
The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House of Representatives
232 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Speaker Boehner,
We write to request a full and complete written explanation of the rationale for removing us from our current committee assignments, including any "scorecards" presented to the Steering Committee to justify our removals.
On Monday, we learned that we had been removed from our committee assignments. Some of us learned of this news from a member of the Steering Committee; others never were officially informed and heard of the action from press accounts citing anonymous leadership staffers. To this date, no formal explanation has been given for the removal.
After learning of our removal, it came to our attention that a scorecard was presented to the Steering Committee to make the case for our removal from those committees. On Wednesday morning, Mr. Huelskamp stood before the House Republican Conference and asked to see a copy of the scorecard used to remove us.
Through this past term, we were not aware that any such scorecard existed, nor that the scores would cause us to be removed from committee assignments. We believe this would be valuable information for the entire Republican Conference to know, so that each Member can make a full and complete decision when casting votes in the future. It would also allow us to communicate to our constituents which votes caused us to be removed.
Please provide a full and complete written explanation for our removal, including a copy of the scorecard presented to the Steering Committee meeting, by close of business Monday, December 10th.
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