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Technology in the News

Technology is constantly changing and providing the casual user with challenges never dreamed of. Technology in the News is provided in an effort to assist you in getting the most out of your computer, while avoiding some of the pitfalls. Your computer really isn't out to get you. Why not learn to be friends?

      
 Title   Date   Author   Host 

aclu.org

July 28, 2014

Because freedom can't protect itself Government Spying Undermines Media Freedom and Right to Counsel, ACLU- Human Rights Watch Shows

Large-scale U.S. surveillance is seriously hampering U.S.-based journalists and lawyers in their work, the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch said in a joint report released today. Surveillance is undermining media freedom and the right to counsel, and ultimately obstructing the American people's ability to hold their government to account, the groups said. The 120-page report, "With Liberty to Monitor All: How Large-Scale U.S. Surveillance is Harming Journalism, Law, and American Democracy," is based on extensive interviews with dozens of journalists, lawyers, and senior U.S. government officials. It documents how national security journalists and lawyers are adopting elaborate steps or otherwise modifying their practices to keep communications, sources, and other confidential information secure in light of revelations of unprecedented U.S. government surveillance of electronic communications and transactions. The report finds that government surveillance and secrecy are undermining press freedom, the public's right to information, and the right to counsel, all human rights essential to a healthy democracy.

theregister.co.uk

by Neil McAllister

July 25, 2014

An unspecified glitch in a global database used by the US government to issue passports and travel visas has left countless people around the world unable to travel for the last few days, according to State Department officials.

"The Bureau of Consular Affairs has been experiencing technical problems with our passport and visa system," Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson for the State Department, said in a press briefing on Thursday. "The issue is worldwide, not specific to any particular country." The database in question, known as the Consular Consolidated Database (CCD), is said to be one of the largest Oracle-based data warehouses in the world. It holds over 100 million records of visa cases and 75 million photographs, and it currently processes around 35,000 new visa cases every day. The system reportedly crashed following scheduled maintenance earlier this week and was out of operation for as much as a few days. Service has since been restored but only in a "limited capacity," and the downtime has resulted in a backlog of visa and passport processing that will take some time to work through.

andrewnapolitano.com

July 24, 2014

"Chilling" is the word lawyers use to describe governmental behavior that does not directly interfere with constitutionally protected freedoms, but rather tends to deter folks from exercising them.

Classic examples of "chilling" occurred in the 1970s, when FBI agents and U.S. Army soldiers, in business suits with badges displayed or in full uniform, showed up at anti-war rallies and proceeded to photograph and tape record protesters. When an umbrella group of protesters sued the government, the Supreme Court dismissed the case, ruling that the protesters lacked standing -- meaning, because they could not show that they were actually harmed, they could not invoke the federal courts for redress. Yet, they were harmed, and the government knew it.

Hot Air

by Noah Rothman

July 24, 2014

President Barack Obama appeared on CNBC on Thursday afternoon to tout his new "economic patriotism" message, which centers primarily on ginning up populist outrage while shaming companies that relocate in order to avoid America's high corporate tax rate.

In that interview, Obama teased his CNBC interlocutor, economics reporter Steve Liesman, with the prospect of tax code reform - the great white whale of economists since the last reform effort in 1986. That successful bipartisan tax reform initiative was one of Ronald Reagan's primary second term goals and the process of negotiating reform began shortly after his second inauguration. There is virtually no chance that a major tax code overhaul will pass Congress after the midterms when Obama is a full-fledged lame duck and less than zero chance of such a measure passing in an election year. But the proposal piqued Liesman's interest, so Obama's mission was accomplished. The president was really just riffing anyway.

townhall.com

by Calvin Beisner

July 23, 2014

In his recent article "The Threat to the Scientific Method," Dr. Patrick Michaels, a climatologist who for 30 years was Research Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia and now directs the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, pointed to a serious problem: the corruption of science through government (and sometimes industry) funding, which has led to rapidly and alarmingly increasing numbers of retracted journal articles. In light of that trend, he asks, "If we can no longer trust science, what do we have as the basis for knowledge?"

Personal Liberty Alerts

by Robert E. Bauman, J.D.

July 22, 2014

Financial attacks are always unexpected - especially when they come from your government.

Desperate governments always prey on those with assets easy to lose. The last thing you want is to be forced to scramble for last-minute, quick-fix solutions. By then, it's too late. Your cash is gone. Think about what happened in Cyprus last year. Without notice, citizens and companies overnight saw all funds in their bank accounts above 100,000 euros ($137,400) stolen as part of what politicians called a one-time "stability" tax.

theatlantic.com

by Conor Friedersdorf

July 21, 2014

A former Obama administration official calls attention to unaccountable mass surveillance conducted under a 1981 executive order.

John Napier Tye is speaking out to warn Americans about illegal spying. The former State Department official, who served in the Obama administration from 2011 to 2014, declared Friday that ongoing NSA surveillance abuses are taking place under the auspices of Executive Order 12333, which came into being in 1981, before the era of digital communications, but is being used to collect them promiscuously. Nye alleges that the Obama administration has been violating the Constitution with scant oversight from Congress or the judiciary. "The order as used today threatens our democracy," he wrote in The Washington Post. "I am coming forward because I think Americans deserve an honest answer to the simple question: What kind of data is the NSA collecting on millions, or hundreds of millions, of Americans?"

businessinsider.com

July 21, 2014

The finer points of sending work emails without being annoying.

In the two decades since email began saturating most American workplaces, most people have come to agree on some basic etiquette rules, such as don't reply-all when you don't need to and avoid using all caps unless you're screaming at someone. But there are finer points of email etiquette that aren't as universally acknowledged but can make you a far more effective emailer. Here are five lesser-known email etiquette breaches that you might still make.

photographyisnotacrime.com

by Carlos Miller

July 21, 2014

A Texas man was handcuffed and detained for taking pictures of a police department from a public sidewalk.

The man, who goes by The Battousai on Youtube said he was doing a First Amendment test to see how the Round Rock Police Department would respond to his Constitutionally protected activity of taking pictures from a public sidewalk. They ended up interpreting it as "suspicious activity." But then again, we're living in an age where practically all Constitutionally protected activity is considered suspicious activity.

washingtonsblog.com

by Collecting Knowledge - Routine

July 21, 2014

It is well-documented that governments use information to blackmail and control people.

Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 made gross indecency a crime in the United Kingdom, which included male gay sex. The Amendment was so frequently used to blackmail gay Brits that it was dubbed the "Blackmailer's Charter". There is widespread speculation that Pope Benedict resigned because of sexual blackmail. And the American government has a long history of blackmailing people - including high-level officials- with knowledge of their sexual peccadilloes.

      
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