TheGift73 writes with a Techdirt story about a House Oversight Committee report that is very critical of the TSA's handling of money. "The House Oversight Committee has come out with a report slamming the TSA for tremendous amounts of waste, specifically in the 'deployment and storage' of its scanning equipment. Basically, it sounds like the TSA likes to go on giant spending sprees, buying up security equipment and then never, ever using it." Earlier this month Rand Paul laid out his plan for dealing with the TSA.
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TheGift73 writes "By far the most controversial bill discussed in the Queen's speech today has to be the 'Draft Communications Bill' which '...will allow the police and intelligence agencies to collect data on communications, like texts and emails, flexible to changes in technology, such as the Internet. This will apply UK wide.' The Queen's Speech has set out the government's legislative plans for the next year." El Reg has the skinny on the CCDP related parts. From their article: "It's unclear if those 'strict safeguards' mean that a warrant, for example, would be needed before spooks could access such data. The rough proposal appeared to only fuzzily indicate that such protection for British citizens would be provided, however."
TheGift73 writes with this quote from an AP report: "Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic bill Tuesday to preserve low interest rates for millions of college students' loans, as the two parties engaged in election-year choreography aimed at showing each is the better protector of families in today's rugged economy. The 52-45 vote to begin debating the legislation fell eight votes short of the 60 needed to proceed and stalled work on an effort both parties expect will ultimately produce a compromise, probably soon. For now, each side is happy to use the stalemate to snipe at the other with campaign-ready talking points while they are gridlocked over how to cover the $6 billion cost."
Fluffeh writes "The Heartland Institute is a lovely group of folks who take issue with mainstream climate science. They organize an annual get-together of like minded folk and talk trash about environmental change. 'The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society.' (That's from a press release!). Recently, when they were tricked by a researcher into sending him a lot of internal documents, they decided to go on the offensive and also get some more media attention. After all, any story is a good story, right? Launching a billboard with the Unabomber on it with the slogan 'I still believe in Global Warming. Do You?' was just the start, with the institute planning Fidel Castro, Charles Manson and possibly even Osama Bin Laden. That's when even their stout backers threatened to walk away, backing started to dry up — and it seems that common sense started to prevail — but only so far as to stop them from making their message too public."
Chuq writes "Tasmanian Liberal candidate for Bass, Andrew Nikolic, was the subject of a satirical article by NewExaminer on Facebook. Nikolic didn't like it, which is understandable. However he then went to considerable lengths to identify the people who liked the article, find out their employers (via their Facebook profiles) and 'name and shame' them on a follow-up post on his own page. Andrew Nikolic has a history of poorly handling conflicting views on his Facebook page, resulting in creation of another page, 'Andrew Nikolic blocked me.'"
bs0d3 writes "For the third consecutive regional election, The German Pirate Party has breached the five-percent mark needed to enter the state parliament, winning 8.2 percent of the vote in state of Schleswig-Holstein. From the article: 'The big winners on the night were the Pirates, an upstart party that has shaken up the staid world of German politics with a campaign based on more transparency in the political process and internet freedom.'"
TheGift73 writes with a link to (and this excerpt from the beginning of) a brief description at TorrentFreak of recently signed agreements between the U.S. and Australia: "Figures.... File-sharing was firmly on the agenda when the head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security touched down in the Australian capital last week. The four new agreements – promptly signed before Secretary Janet Napolitano flew back out of Canberra – were less about sharing season two of Game of Thrones and more about sharing the private, government held information of Australian citizens with U.S. authorities."
AmiMoJo writes "Japan's last active reactor is shutting down today, leaving the country without nuclear energy for the first time since 1970. All 50 commercial reactors in the country are now offline. 19 have completed stress tests but there is little prospect of them being restarted due to heavy opposition from local governments. Meanwhile activists in Tokyo celebrated the shutdown and asked the government to admit that nuclear power was no longer needed in Japan and to concentrate on safety. If this summer turns out to be as hot as 2010 some areas could be asked to make 15% power savings to avoid shortages, while other areas will be unaffected due to savings already made."
choongiri writes "Canada's election fraud scandal continues to unfold. Elections Canada just matched the IP address used to set up thousands of voter suppression robocalls to one used by a Conservative Party operative, and a comparison of call records found a perfect match between the illegal calls, and records of non-supporters in the Conservative Party's CIMS voter tracking database, as well as evidence access logs may have been tampered with. Meanwhile, legal challenges to election results are underway in seven ridings, and an online petition calling for an independent public inquiry into the crisis has amassed over 44,000 signatures. The Conservative Party still maintains their innocence, calling it a baseless smear campaign."
skipkent writes "Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared global warming a national security threat [Wednesday] during a speech before an environmentalist group in Washington, D.C. 'The area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security,' Panetta told the Environmental Defense Fund last night. 'Rising sea levels, severe droughts, the melting of the polar caps, the more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.'"
daria42 writes "Looks like Apple isn't the only company with interesting offshore taxation practices. The financial statements for Google's Australian subsidiary show the company told the Australian Government it made just $200 million in revenue in 2011 in Australia, despite local industry estimating it actually brought in closer to $1 billion. The rest was funnelled through Google's Irish subsidiary and not disclosed in Australia. Consequently the company only disclosed taxation costs in Australia of $74,000. Not bad work if you can get it — which Google apparently can."
suraj.sun sends this quote from an article at the BBC: "Russia says it is prepared to use 'destructive force pre-emptively' if the U.S. goes ahead with controversial plans for a missile defense system based in Central Europe. The warning came after the Russian defense minister said talks on missile defense were nearing a dead end. Moscow fears that missile interceptors would be a threat to Russia's security. But the U.S. and NATO say they are intended to protect against attacks from Iran or North Korea. 'A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens,' chief of the Russian defense staff Gen Nikolai Makarov said. President Barack Obama ... scrapped plans for a network of bases spread across Poland and the Czech Republic with the capacity to intercept long-range missiles. But in 2010, the U.S. signed an agreement with Poland to use an old airstrip at Redzikowo, near the Baltic coast, as a missile defense base."
According to CNN, which credits Hamburg-based newspaper Die Zeit, German investigators have uncovered a trove of more than 100 Al Qaeda documents recovered from a "digital storage device" (and memory cards) which were found hidden in the underpants of Austrian citizen Maqsood Lodin, who had recently traveled to Pakistan. The documents "included an inside track on some of the terror group's most audacious plots and a road map for future operations." Among these future plots: "[S]eizing cruise ships and carrying out attacks in Europe similar to the gun attacks by Pakistani militants that paralyzed the Indian city of Mumbai in November 2008." The documents were reportedly neither in plain view nor simply encrypted, but instead steganographically embedded in a pornographic video.
New submitter Curseyoukhan writes "The phrase 'cyber war' is being used to scare us into coughing up money and liberties, just like 'anarchist' once was, and 'terror' still is. To quote H.L. Mencken, 'The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.'"
Harperdog writes "Noah Schactman has a great piece on the Airborne Laser, the ray gun-equipped 747 that became a symbol of wasteful Pentagon weaponeering. Despite sixteen years and billions of dollars in development, the jet could never reliably blast a missile in trials. Now the House Armed Services Committee's Strategic Forces wants the Airborne Laser to be used to defend us against the threat of North Korea's failed missiles."