The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. March 20, 2017: “We will be out of the country until March 22. Ed”
Table of Contents
- Exclusive: Almost half of Canadians want illegal border crossers deported – Reuters poll
- Atlantic City and Miami Beach: two takes on tackling the rising waters
- ‘Has Erdogan lost his mind?’ Turkish leader’s ‘Nazi measures’ jibe sparks fury in Berlin
- McCain and Montenegro: The Anatomy of a Conspiracy Theory
- German FM: Turkey ‘further away than ever’ from joining EU
- Brexit: What is Article 50? A guide to what happens now
- Consumer Advisory About Counterfeit Coins
- How do They watch You? Let me count the ways….
Exclusive: Almost half of Canadians want illegal border crossers deported – Reuters poll
March 20, 2017
by Rod Nickel and David Ljunggren
WINNIPEG, Manitoba/OTTAWA-Nearly half of Canadians want to deport people who are illegally crossing into Canada from the United States, and a similar number disapprove of how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is handling the influx, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Monday.
A significant minority, four out of 10 respondents, said the border crossers could make Canada “less safe,” underlining the potential political risk for Trudeau’s Liberal government.
The increasing flow of hundreds of asylum-seekers of African and Middle Eastern origin from the United States in recent months has become a contentious issue in Canada.
There has been broad bipartisan support for high levels of legal immigration for decades in Canada. But Trudeau has come under pressure over the flow of the illegal migrants. He is questioned about it every time he appears in parliament, from opponents on the left, who want more asylum-seekers to be allowed in, and critics on the right, who say the migrants pose a potential security risk.
Canadians appeared to be just as concerned about illegal immigration as their American neighbors, according to the poll, which was conducted between March 8-9. Some 48 percent of Canadians said they supported “increasing the deportation of people living in Canada illegally.” (For graphics on asylum process, immigration poll see tmsnrt.rs/2nyY8CJ)
When asked specifically about the recent border crossings from the United States, the same number – 48 percent – said Canada should “send these migrants back to the U.S.” Another 36 percent said Canada should “accept these migrants” and let them seek refugee status.
In the United States, where President Donald Trump was elected partly on his promise to boost deportations, 50 percent of adults supported “increasing the deportation of illegal immigrants,” according to a separate Reuters/Ipsos poll that was conducted during the same week in the United States.
Illegal migrants interviewed by Reuters in Canada said they had been living legally in the United States and had applied for asylum there. But they had fled to Canada for fear of being caught up in Trump’s immigration crackdown.
WARMING WEATHER POSES RISK
In the poll, support for deporting the border crossers was strongest among men, adults who do not have a college degree, people who are older and those with higher levels of income.
“There are so many people in the world who want to come in and go through the right channels,” said Greg Janzen, elected leader of a Manitoba border municipality that has seen hundreds of border crossers. “That’s what’s pissing most people off. These guys are jumping the border,” he said.
Forty-six percent of Canadians feel the influx would have no effect on safety, while 41 percent said it would make Canada less safe, according to the poll.
“Refugees are much more welcomed when we have gone and selected them ourselves as a country, as opposed to refugees who have chosen us,” said Janet Dench, executive director of Canadian Council for Refugees.
Of those polled, 46 percent disagreed with how Trudeau was handling the situation, 37 percent agreed, while 17 percent did not know. In January, a separate Ipsos poll found that 59 percent of Canadians approved of Trudeau, while 41 percent disapproved.
Trudeau faces no immediate threat, since the next elections are not until 2019. Trudeau’s office declined to comment on the poll, as did the opposition Conservative Party.
Brian Lee Crowley, head of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute public policy think-tank, said the number of illegal migrants could spike as the weather warms, and “if people become convinced there’s a large uncontrolled flow of illegal immigrants, I think that will be a very serious political issue for the government.”
Canadian authorities dismiss the idea they are being lax. Dan Brien, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, said “trying to slip across the border in an irregular manner is not a ‘free’ ticket to Canada,” noting that all asylum-seekers were detained.
“If they are found to be inadmissible without a valid claim, deportation procedures are begun,” he said by email when asked about the poll.
According to a separate Ipsos poll in Canada, 23 percent of Canadians listed immigration control as among the top national issues in March, up from 17 percent in December. It ranks behind healthcare, taxes, unemployment and poverty as top concerns.
The Canadian government set an immigration target of 300,000 for 2017, or just under 1 percent of the population, the same level as 2016. It reduced the 2017 target for resettled refugees to 25,000 from 44,800 in 2016, a year when it welcomed 25,000 refugees from Syria.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English and French throughout Canada. It included responses from 1,001 people who were at least 18 years old. Individual responses were weighted according to the latest population estimates in Canada, so that the results reflect the entire population.
The poll has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 4 percentage points.
Atlantic City and Miami Beach: two takes on tackling the rising waters
Sea level rise is making floods more common and as the New Jersey resort braces for the next Sandy, the well-heeled Florida city is throwing money at the problem
March 20, 2017
by Oliver Milman
Miami Beach and Atlantic City-The Irish Pub near Atlantic City’s famed boardwalk doesn’t have any locks on the doors as it is open 24 hours a day. So when Hurricane Sandy crunched into what was once known as the Las Vegas of the east coast in 2012, some improvisation was needed.
Regular drinkers helped slot a cork board through the frame of the door, wedging it shut and keeping out the surging seawater. The wild night, which severely damaged more than 320 homes and caused a week-long power blackout, was seen out by those taking shelter with the help of several bottles of Jameson.
But Sandy was just the headline act among increasingly common flooding events that are gnawing away at the thin island upon which the city sits.
“Sandy, as devastating as it was, isn’t the greatest barometer because we have flash floods,” said Cathy Burke, who has run the Irish Pub since 1973. Burke, a gravelly voiced institution along the boardwalk, has hoarded treasures from Atlantic City’s zenith. The upstairs of the pub is replete with vintage furniture, gramophones and china dogs.
“We can have floods at the drop of a hat,” Burke said. “Without even realizing we’re going to have them. It’ll be raining and within seconds you’ll see flooding in the street. You don’t read about it in the paper. You don’t hear about it on the radio or television. You just have water that just comes up and if you don’t have warning and move your car, you have water in the car.”
These flooding events have increased seven-fold in Atlantic City since the 1950s, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and are spurred by rainfall or simply a spring tide abetted by unhelpful gusts of wind.
The casinos and boardwalk are protected on the ocean side by a network of beach dunes. But the western side of the city, where few tourists venture and poverty lingers, is more vulnerable. Several times a month water swells in the bay behind Absecon Island – the barrier strip dotted by the resorts of Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate and Longport – and with nowhere to go can slosh into the streets, wrecking cars and stranding residents.
The rising ocean, fed by melting glaciers and the expansion of warming water, is piling up water along America’s entire eastern seaboard. To compound the problem much of the mid-Atlantic coast is sinking, a hangover from the last ice age, meaning life and property is being swamped like never before.
And yet with no overarching national sea level rise plan, and patchy commitment from states, many coastal communities are left to deal with the encroaching seas themselves. Wealthier areas are raising streets and houses, erecting walls and pumps. Those without the funds or political will have several state or federal grants they can access but often make muddled choices in the face of this sisyphean task.
“There is no central place that makes all the decisions so you get one town building a pump station to push water out and another town pumping the water back to the same place,” said Rouzbeh Nazari, an environmental engineering expert at Rowan University.
Nazari is critical of outdated flood maps, risky building in areas prone to flooding and what he considers an undue haste to buy up water-ravaged houses on the cheap to compensate homeowners rather than improve ragged coastal defenses.
“It kind of feels like we’ve just given up, that we can’t do anything about it,” he said. “I’m less worried about a Sandy-like event than nuisance flooding. They are losing 20 cars a month to nuisance flooding on Absecon island. We need a regional solution but New Jersey has no specific plan to deal with it.”
A spokesman for New Jersey’s department of environmental protection disputes claims it lacks a plan, pointing to work with the army corp of engineers over future levees and a solution to “inadequate” stormwater systems that can exacerbate flooding.
“We will be working very closely with coastal communities in identifying problem areas and the best ways to deal with them,” the spokesman said. Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, has previously said there was no evidence that Hurricane Sandy was linked to climate change. Asked about flooding at Cape May last year, Christie said: “I don’t know what you want me to do, you want me to go down there with a mop?”
In Atlantic City’s heyday, its Steel Pier hosted concerts by Frank Sinatra and the Beatles, as well as a recurring attraction where a horse was required to dive off a 60ft platform into a pool of water – a “colossally stupid idea” according to the then president of the US Humane Society. Today, it abuts the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal casino, which was sold by the president last year, as well as a tidal gauge that is quietly recording the fate of the city.
The numbers are stark – the sea is rising at nearly 1.5 inches (38mm) a decade, streaking ahead of the global average and eroding away the tips of the island. Slender barrier islands such as Absecon aren’t easy to tame even with a stable sea level. Native Americans used to holiday, but never live, on the shifting sandy outcrop because they knew that it would be perennially mauled by the sea. Today, there are about 40,000 people living in Atlantic City, with the boardwalk drawing in millions of tourists to its hulking casinos.
“The Native Americans were a lot smarter than the European settlers,” said James Whalen, a former Atlantic City mayor turned state senator. “The barrier islands up and down the coast really should not have been built on, but here we are.”
And then there are the storms. Ben Horton, a climate scientist at Rutgers University, said that a Sandy-like storm used to occur on the east coast once every 500 years, before industrial activity began loading the atmosphere with greenhouse gases. Now such a storm arrives once every 25 years or so. Should the sea level continue to rise sharply, by 2100 Sandy would visit Atlantic City every five years.
“If you chat to people here and you say ‘How sustainable is the New Jersey shore or Atlantic City to an event of the magnitude of Hurricane Sandy occurring every five years?’ you’ll get a very negative response,” Horton said.
The sustainability of Atlantic City consumes the thoughts of Elizabeth Terenik, the city’s spry planning director. Terenik said the rise in nuisance flooding has become a “major quality of life issue” for back bay residents. Many of those able to have raised their homes – new buildings must now be a foot higher than previous codes due to the flooding.
Terenik is plotting new sea walls, a curb on new development in flood-prone areas and an underground canal that can funnel away storm water. Perhaps most ambitiously, she is taken by an idea, put forward by Princeton University, that would raise the streets and houses in Chelsea Heights, a vulnerable neighborhood, and allow the water to seep into vacant land to create a sort of New Jersey twist on Venice.
“It’s an exciting project but one that really needs to be looked at closely before anything’s moved forward and of course it would need funding,” Terenik conceded. “A lot of funding.”
Miami Beach: ‘climate gentrification’
Funding isn’t such a problem 1,200 miles south at another barrier island facing a daunting challenge from the seas – Miami Beach. While it shares much of Atlantic City’s bygone glory with its art deco grandeur and former celebrity playground status, Miami Beach – linked by causeways to the mainland city of Miami – has managed to retain much of the wealth that has allowed it to hurl money at the sea level rise problem.
Pancake flat and built on porous ground that is slowly sinking back to the seabed, Miami Beach is surrounded by seas accelerating at an astonishing 9mm a year – vastly more than the 3mm-a-year global average. Should slabs of Antarctic ice start to crumble away into the ocean and fuel a 6ft sea level rise by 2100, Miami Beach will pretty much be swallowed up.
“We are facing an existential threat here,” said Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, Miami Beach’s city commissioner. Gonzalez, a former college tutor, focused heavily on sea level rise when she was elected last year. It’s not really much of a choice these days – the mayor, Philip Levine, paddled down a flooded street in a canoe as part of an election stunt.
Once known as a “sunny place for shady people” due to its popularity with pre-war gangsters, Miami Beach is now often referred to as ground zero for the sea level rise phenomenon. But it’s perhaps more like a living laboratory experiment into what happens when you give a cashed-up place the task of avoiding drowning.
Miami Beach is spending $400m on a network of pumps, sea walls and raised streets in order to beat the tides. One vulnerable neighborhood, Sunset Harbor, has had its streets raised by 2ft at a cost of over $30m. All over the island, predominantly in the wealthier neighborhoods where properties go for $10m or more, streets are being torn up.
“We’re literally going to have to rise above this,” Gonzalez said. “That’s very scary for many of us because right now, we can’t really picture what that looks like. It is so hard to imagine parts of Miami Beach disappearing. A lot of this island is fill. We filled it in once. We’ll fill it in again.”
City engineers admit that they are merely buying themselves time, perhaps 20 years or so, until Miami Beach will need to work the problem out again, possibly with some new technology. The seas are relentless, and rising ever further without end in sight. Much of south Florida will eventually be reclaimed but for now there is trillions of dollars of real estate to save.
Retreat isn’t on the agenda but, as in Atlantic City, there’s an equity issue at play in Miami Beach. The affluent can afford to raise their homes, lobby for sea walls and water pumps, stay in a nice hotel if it all gets a bit much.
Poorer residents are less able to do this, nor foot the bill for the work – Miami Beach has eye-watering average water bills of $350 a month in order to pay for the street work. Some people may have to leave if the costs mount further. Even some of the wealthier residents are buying insurance properties in areas of the mainland further from the coast.
Valencia Gunder calls this phenomenon “climate gentrification”. Gunder is a nascent climate campaigner and resident of Liberty City, a Miami district known for its problems with crime and poverty. Gunder has been agitating, so far unsuccessfully, for some large trees to help shade the Liberty City populace from increasingly frequent heatwaves. She gives a wry smile at the mention of Miami Beach’s extreme engineering.
“We’re noticing things like heatstrokes and people passing out because it’s so hot outside, people can’t take the heat,” she said.
“I do understand that you want to take care of the community that’s right on the shore, but we all are affected. Four hundred million dollars, yes, is needed for resiliency but just to put it in one neighborhood I think is ridiculous.
“We pay taxes. We live here. We go to school here. We work here. We deserve the same treatment as other communities.”
Federal leadership for communities like Atlantic City and Miami Beach is unlikely to arrive before the situation escalates further. Donald Trump’s administration has already taken aim at existing coastal resiliency funding and has disparaged basic scientific understanding of climate change.
Should the seas rise by 6ft then 13 million Americans in coastal areas will have to relocate by the end of this century, according to recent research. There will need to be a plan, beyond just cutting emissions, well before this time.
In the meantime, threatened cities such as New York and Boston will mull gargantuan sea barriers, Miami Beach will hoist itself further upwards and Atlantic City will hope a solution, or a combination of solutions, is found before the next Sandy arrives.
What links these places is the reluctance to abandon them. “Miami Beach is one of the most special places in the entire world and we don’t plan on going anywhere,” said Gonzalez. “We’re going to be here for the long haul. I love this city. It’s my home. I can’t imagine there not being a Miami Beach.”
Back in Atlantic City, Cathy Burke, surrounded by her Boardwalk Empire-style refinements, is similarly defiant.
“I am a diehard Atlantic City native,” she said. “I love Atlantic City. I don’t want to live anywhere else.
“I’ve seen hotels demolished. Storms, whatever. And as far as I’m concerned, Atlantic City will always be here and it will only get bigger and better than ever
(Comment: The figures given officially for sea level rising are always very small and very distant. “Oh the rise will be .0005 centimeters over a hundred years so we are all fine!” is the comforting official pap. And another entertaining fiction is that all the East Coast of the United States is sinking! The reason for such fictions is that a relocation of millions of threatened residents on the East Coast is an issue the government does not want to face. The government would much prefer to spend millions of taxpayers dollars on militaria than on the public. And everything is blamed on “greenhouse gasses” because the government lusts to set up new control agencies to staff with the usual unemployable and incompetent mental defectives. ed)
‘Has Erdogan lost his mind?’ Turkish leader’s ‘Nazi measures’ jibe sparks fury in Berlin
March 20, 2017
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent remarks accusing Chancellor Angela Merkel of using “Nazi measures” have apparently infuriated the German leadership, which has hit back at the Turkish leader as the war of words between Ankara and Berlin escalates.
“Nazi comparisons are unacceptable in any form,” a German government spokeswoman said earlier on Monday, as cited by Reuters. She added that it was up to Ankara to tone down its firebrand rhetoric and avert damaging relations between the two NATO allies.
Speaking to a cheering crowd of supporters on Sunday, Erdogan once again labeled certain European countries “Nazis,” before turning his sights on the German chancellor. “When we call them Nazis, they [European politicians] get uncomfortable. They rally together in solidarity. Especially Merkel,” he said.
“Merkel… She backs [the Netherlands], too. You too are practicing Nazi practices. On whom? On my Turkish brothers and sisters in Germany,” the Turkish leader added, referring to the Netherlands’ decision to ban Turkish rallies ahead of the landmark vote to expand presidential powers. Erdogan notably used an informal form of “you” in Turkish.
The remark was met with outrage in Germany, where memories of the Nazi past and the crimes of Hitler’s regime continue to be a sensitive issue.
“We are tolerant but not stupid,” German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told Passauer Neue Presse newspaper, as cited by Sueddeutsche Zeitung. “That’s why I have let my Turkish counterpart know very clearly that a line has been crossed here.”
Julia Kloeckner, vice-president of Merkel’s CDU party, also reacted angrily to Erdogan’s remark. “Has Mr Erdogan lost his mind?” she said, telling journalists that she was urging the EU to halt transferring “financial aid worth billions of euros” to Turkey, according to Die Zeit.
“That the head of state insults the chancellor of a friendly country in such a manner is impudent,” said Martin Schulz, a former president of the European Parliament and now the main challenger to Merkel in Germany’s September general election.
It is necessary to “tell Erdogan one day” that a leader of a NATO member state must not “trample practices of international diplomacy under foot,“ he was quoted as saying by Die Welt. “But he’s doing so,” Schulz said, adding that Turkey is gradually becoming an authoritarian state.
Ahead of the upcoming referendum in Turkey, which could see the president’s powers broadly expanded, Turkish officials have been seeking meetings with émigré Turks living in Europe to ensure their support for a ‘yes’ vote. However, these plans did not go down well with the authorities in a number of European countries. Numerous rallies have been suspended in Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, triggering the unfolding diplomatic row between Ankara and European capitals.
McCain and Montenegro: The Anatomy of a Conspiracy Theory
Sure, he’s unhinged – but so is practically everyone else
March 20, 2017
by Justin Raimondo
Just in case you thought the conspiracy theory that Russia secretly controls the US government is exclusively an affliction affecting the Democratic party, Sen. John McCain’s recent performance on the floor of the US Senate should disabuse you of this optimistic notion. Responding to Sen. Rand Paul’s blocking of a vote in favor of the accession of Montenegro to NATO, the failed former GOP presidential candidate let it all hang out:
“I note the senator from Kentucky leaving the floor without justification or any rationale for the action he has just taken. That is really remarkable, that a senator blocking a treaty that is supported by the overwhelming number, perhaps 98 – at least – of his colleagues would come to the floor and object and walk away. The only conclusion you can draw when he walks away is he has no justification for his objection to having a small nation be part of NATO that is under assault from the Russians. So I repeat again, the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.”
What’s “remarkable” is that this kind of lunacy is tolerated in the US Senate: I recall that Sen. Elizabeth Warren was rebuked – and silenced – by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell because she read a letter from Coretta Scott King that called into question the motives of Jeff Sessions, then a Senator and a candidate for the office of Attorney General. Surely McCain’s outburst was an even more egregious violation of the rules than Warren’s, and yet McCain was allowed to proceed uninterrupted. Perhaps this is an example of “warmonger’s privilege.”
In a later interview, Sen. Paul sought to explain McCain’s behavior as an indication of the Senator from Arizona’s advanced age: perhaps, he suggested, McCain is “past his prime,” and, by the way, “this is a good argument for term limits.” Well, yes, but in the current political atmosphere – where Vladimir Putin has been elevated to the status of a virtually omnipotent force who has the power to change election results and infiltrate the highest reaches of Western governments – it’s no crazier than anything else we’re hearing out of Washington these days.
Be that as it may, ordinary Americans may have a few questions about this bizarre incident, starting with: What the heck is Montenegro?
A tiny republic in the middle of the Balkans, Montenegro has a popultion equal to that of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a military force of around 2,000 soldiers and sailors. Up until the break up of Yugoslavia, it was never a unified independent country (except for a few years early in the twentieth century). Today, it is even less unified, beset as it is with rival factions that routinely battle it out in the streets. Its former President (and, alternately, Prime Minister) Milo Djukanovic, is a former top Communist official who came to power in 1997 in an election marred by allegations of fraud and violent protests, and is known as “Mr. Ten Percent” on account of his reputation for corruption. Although “retired” (this is, I believe, his third “retirement”) he is still the real nexus of power in the country.
Formerly a bastion of Serbian nationalism, Montenegro has undergone demographic changes since the end of the Yugoslav era, with a large incursion of Albanians – who have initiated a campaign to create a “Greater Albania” by merging the southern portion of the country with Albania proper. Aside from that, however, there is the question of whether Montenegro will join NATO and the European Union, a project dear to the heart of Djukanovic, and opposed by the former Serbian majority which still remembers how the country was bombed under NATO’s rubric during the Kosovo war.
The recent elections, billed as a referendum on NATO membership, yielded ambiguous results for Djukanovic’s party: the hope was that Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), the successor to the old Communist Party, would win an outright majority, thus enabling the pro-NATO forces to push NATO membership through parliament without having to resort to a referendum. The DPS ended up winning 41 percent of the vote, not enough to form a government, although an alliance with smaller parties – not all of them pro-NATO – gave Djukanovic a parliamentary majority. The opposition parties are now pushing for a popular vote on entering NATO, and recent polls indicate that voters are split almost exactly down the middle on the issue.
That doesn’t deter Djukanovic, who, with the help of the Western media, has managed to replicate the anti-Russian hysteria we are seeing infect our own politics. According to Djukanovic, a Russian plot to attack the parliament, kill members of the ruling party, and take over the country was narrowly averted when a number of “plotters” were arrested. The New York Times describes these sinister “plotters” as follows:
“Mr. Djukanovic and his officials initially provided no evidence to support their allegation of a foiled coup attempt on Oct. 16, the day of national elections. They said only that 20 Serbs – some of whom turned out to be elderly and in ill health – had been detained just hours before they were to launch the alleged putsch. Nonetheless, Mr. Djukanovic insisted it ‘is more than obvious’ that unnamed ‘Russian structures’ were working with pro-Moscow politicians to derail the country’s efforts to join NATO.”
After months of searching, the alleged weapons cache that was to be used in the coup attempt has yet to turn up. But, hey, who needs weapons when you’re part of the vast Putinite Conspiracy? Oh, those Russians – stealing elections from Michigan to Montenegro! Is there anything they can’t do? The alleged leader of the “plot” has been granted a plea deal, and is now spinning a tale of intrigue so murky that light cannot penetrate its depths. One version has it that Russian “special forces” “disguised as a Cossack folk band” arrived on the scene to “recruit” those plotting to off Djukanovic. Those are some very special forces indeed. Oddly, the alleged “plotters” have all been released, including the supposed ringleader. Meanwhile, leaders of the anti-NATO opposition are being arrested for “ties” to the “plot.”
This what Sen. McCain was talking about when he claimed that Montenegro is “under assault from the Russians.” It’s the Montenegrin version of the same line of baloney he’s been pushing here in the US: that the Russians “stole” the 2016 presidential election, and are “subverting” American democracy.
Sen. Paul was right to block approval of Montenegro’s accession to NATO: that country is the perfect backdrop for an international incident that would drag us into a conflict with Russia. In accusing Paul of “working for Vladimir Putin,” McCain is limning the tactics of Djukanovic, who is busy framing up and arresting his political opponents on similarly phony charges.
The alleged “Russian agent” Mike Flynn, forced to resign as National Security Advisor because of his nonexistent “ties” to Moscow, reportedly recommended that the Trump administration approve Montenegro’s bid to join NATO. I guess he didn’t get his directive from Putin in a timely manner. On the other hand, the Montenegrin opposition is petitioning Trump advisor Steve Bannon to urge the President to veto it.
Montenegro’s accession to NATO would plant yet another tripwire that could easily lead directly to a collision with Russia. At the very least it would cause substantial internal turmoil in the country, perhaps ending in an all-out civil war such as happened in Ukraine.
President Trump was right when he said during the campaign that NATO is “obsolete.” It is also dangerous in that it pledges us to go to war in defense of member nations. With Turkey, a NATO member, moving rapidly into Syria, and now face-to-face with Russian and Syrian soldiers, and with British troops now entering Estonia, where a make-believe Russian “threat” is supposedly being thwarted, our membership in NATO could very well drag us into a conflict on two fronts.
How is this putting “America first”?
(Comment: Senator McCain is very obviously unhinged. There is a strong rumor that Wikileaks has, and will release, a detailed Soviet KGB report on McCain’s “full cooperation” with them during his stay in Hanoi as a PoW. Neither of these issues, however, would particularly bother his Congressional co-workers. After all, when Teddy Kennedy abandoned his current girl friend to drown at Chappaquiddick, he was welcomed back to Congress with praise and applause. Like cleaves unto like after all. Ed)
German FM: Turkey ‘further away than ever’ from joining EU
March 18, 2017
by Frank Jordans
BERLIN — Senior German officials cast doubt Saturday on Turkey’s chances of joining the European Union, amid growing tensions with Ankara over human rights and Turkey’s claim that it’s being treated unfairly by countries in western Europe.
In an interview published by Hamburg weekly Der Spiegel, Germany’s foreign minister suggested that for now the most that Turkey can hope for is to one day achieve a “privileged partnership” with the bloc.
“Turkey is further away than ever before from EU membership,” Sigmar Gabriel was quoted as saying.
Gabriel said he was always skeptical of the idea of Turkish EU membership. He told Der Spiegel that upcoming negotiations about the EU’s future relationship with Britain might provide a blueprint for Turkey “in the long term.”
Thomas Oppermann, the parliamentary caucus leader of Gabriel’s Social Democrats, said Turkey’s chances of joining the EU would be “gone for good” if the country reintroduced the death penalty, as Erdogan has suggested.
“(Erdogan’s) announcement makes clear that he isn’t interested in joining at all,” said Oppermann. “Erdogan is clearly on the wrong path and he’s harming Turkish interests.”
Relations between Berlin and Ankara have soured recently over a German Parliament resolution labeling the 20th century killing of Armenians as “genocide,” Turkey’s crackdown on the opposition and civil society following a failed coup last summer, and appearances in Germany by Turkish officials campaigning for constitutional change in an upcoming referendum.
A German satirist’s poem poking fun at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the arrest of a German-Turkish journalist in Istanbul have further fanned tensions between the two countries.
Erdogan’s call Friday for Turks living in Europe to have at least five children, as a response to Europe’s “injustices,” has also angered German nationalists — who responded by renewing calls for an end to dual citizenship.
Ankara, meanwhile, has accused Germany of allowing the banned Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, to hold rallies in Germany. Kurds make up a sizable number of the over 3 million people of Turkish origin in Germany.
About 30,000 Kurds gathered in the central city of Frankfurt on Saturday to protest against the constitutional reforms sought by Erdogan, which would give the president greater power. Dozens of protesters unfurled banned flags of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan at the rally.
Brexit: What is Article 50? A guide to what happens now
March 20, 2017
by Sarah Glatte
Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will trigger Article 50 on 29 March – beginning formal negotiations on Brexit. Here’s a guide.
What is Article 50?
Article 50 is a plan for any country that wishes to exit the EU. It was created as part of the Treaty of Lisbon – an agreement signed up to by all EU states which became law in 2009. Before that treaty, there was no formal mechanism for a country to leave the EU.
What does it say?
It’s pretty short – just five paragraphs – which spell out that any EU member state may decide to quit the EU, that it must notify the European Council and negotiate its withdrawal with the EU, that there are two years to reach an agreement – unless everyone agrees to extend it – and that the exiting state cannot take part in EU internal discussions about its departure.
It says any exit deal must be approved by a “qualified majority” (72% of the remaining 27 EU states, representing 65% of the population) but must also get the backing of MEPs. The fifth paragraph raises the possibility of a state wanting to rejoin the EU having left it – that will be considered under Article 49.
It was written by the Scottish cross-bench peer Lord Kerr of Kinlochard. He has said he thought it would be most likely used in the event of a coup in a member state and had never imagined it being used for Brexit. The full text can be found here.
When will it be triggered?
The UK, having voted to leave the European Union in last year’s referendum, can decide at what point it formally notifies the European Council.
Prime Minister Theresa May first announced her plan to do so by the end of March 2017 in October last year, having argued that she did not want to rush into the withdrawal process before UK objectives had been agreed.
The government’s plan to do so by acting alone using its “royal prerogative” was thrown out by the Supreme Court following a legal challenge, so it had to introduce a bill for Parliament to vote on. That passed the Commons but was amended by the Lords. That bill has now become law and Downing Street has said Article 50 will be triggered on 29 March.
What happens next?
Here is a potential timeline of events.
- 29 March, 2017 – UK triggers Article 50
- April – European Council president Donald Tusk expected to call an EU summit of the 27 leaders (without the UK) to agree to give the European Commission a mandate to negotiate with the UK
- After the EU 27 summit – European Commission to publish negotiating guidelines based on the mandate the EU leaders give it. The EU might say something about possible parallel negotiation on a future EU-UK trade deal
- April/May 2017 – Negotiations begin
- 23 April and 7 May – French Presidential elections
- 24 September – German parliamentary elections
- Autumn 2017 – The UK government is expected to introduce legislation to leave the EU and put all existing EU laws into British law – the Great Repeal bill
- October 2018 – Negotiations conclude (The Article 50 negotiations could be extended, but this is subject to the approval of the other 27 EU member states)
- Between October 2018 and March 2019 – The Houses of Parliament, European Council and European Parliament vote on any deal
- March 2019 – UK formally withdraws from the European Union
What will negotiations cover?
This is not entirely clear. The UK says a trade deal should be part of negotiations – EU representatives have suggested the withdrawal agreement and a trade deal should be handled separately.
The UK has said it wants an “early agreement” to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and those of British nationals living abroad.
Other issues which are likely to be discussed are things like cross-border security arrangements, the European Arrest Warrant, moving EU agencies which have their headquarters in the UK and the UK’s contribution to pensions of EU civil servants – part of a wider “divorce bill” which some reports have suggested could run to £50bn.
Before the UK’s 2016 referendum, the government published a report on the process for withdrawing from the European Union in which it suggested numerous areas that could be covered in talks. These included:
- Unspent EU funds due to be paid to UK regions and farmers
- Co-operation on foreign policy, including sanctions
- Access to EU agencies which play a role in UK domestic law – like the European Medicines Agency
- Transition arrangements for EU Free Trade Agreements with third countries
- Access for UK citizens to the European Health Insurance Card
- The rights of UK fishermen to fish in traditional non-UK waters, including those in the North Sea
- The UK’s environmental commitments made as party to various UN environmental conventions
A European Commission spokesperson has told the BBC that it does not comment or speculate on the specific areas that will be covered in the negotiations, which will only start after Article 50 is triggered.
Who is doing the negotiating?
The European Commission – the EU’s civil service – has created a task force headed by Michel Barnier, who will be in charge of conducting the negotiations with the UK.
On the UK side, the overall responsibility for Brexit negotiations resides with the prime minister, who is supported by the Department for Exiting the European Union led by David Davis.
How long will it last?
The time-frame allowed in Article 50 is two years – and this can only be extended by unanimous agreement from all EU countries.
But can a deal be done in two years? Ministers have publicly insisted it can – but others believe it could take a decade.
Former cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell predicted it would take “at least five years” and Remain-backing former Labour minister and European commissioner Lord Mandelson predicted that “between five and 10 years” was the most likely timescale.
If no agreement is reached in two years, and no extension is agreed, the UK automatically leaves the EU and all existing agreements – including access to the single market – would cease to apply to the UK. In this case, it is assumed UK trade relations with the EU would be governed by World Trade Organisation rules.
Some ministers have suggested there could be a transitional period once the UK leaves the EU, to avoid a “cliff edge” and phase-in new arrangements.
Will Parliament have a say?
While Article 50 states that any deal will need the “consent of the European Parliament” – it doesn’t say anything about whether the parliament of the departing state should have a say too. This prompted some criticism from UK MPs that MEPs would be better informed than those in the UK’s own Parliament.
After initially appearing to resist calls for Parliament to vote on the final deal, the prime minister said in January that both the Commons and Lords would get one. The UK Parliament will also scrutinise the government’s work on Brexit through parliamentary debates, select committee work, and votes on proposed legislation.
In its White Paper on Brexit, the government said that parliament would have “a critical role” and that “ministers will continue to provide regular updates to Parliament and the government will continue to ensure that there is ample opportunity for both Houses to debate the key issues arising from EU exit”.
Could the UK change its mind after Article 50 is triggered?
As Article 50 has never been put to the test before, it is difficult to say as it is not explicitly stated in the article itself. But the man who wrote it, Lord Kerr, thinks it could. He told the BBC in November 2016: “It is not irrevocable. You can change your mind while the process is going on. During that period, if a country were to decide actually we don’t want to leave after all, everybody would be very cross about it being a waste of time.
“They might try to extract a political price but legally they couldn’t insist that you leave.”
And the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, has suggested it could be reversed: “Maybe during the procedure of divorce they will say ‘we love you that much that we are not able to conclude that divorce’,” he told the Independent.
The government has said that it would not reverse the Article 50 process. In a recent interview, Justice Secretary Liz Truss suggested she thought Article 50 was “irrevocable”. Ultimately, the question could come before the European Court of Justice.
Will the UK still play full part in EU during Brexit negotiations?
It will remain a member of the EU, will still be in the single market and subject to all the EU laws and rules, including the freedom of movement. But the UK has given up its rotating presidency of the European Council – which was scheduled for the second half of 2017 – to concentrate on Brexit negotiations.
Legally, there is nothing to prevent the UK from taking part in adopting EU acts that are unrelated to Brexit during the negotiation period. However, the UK cannot participate in the decisions taken by the council concerning Brexit negotiations.
Can the UK negotiate trade deals with other countries now?
No, while the UK is still part of the European Union, it cannot independently negotiate any international trade agreements with non-EU countries, without violating EU treaties. But there could still be some general discussions about trade.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has said that “while we remain inside the European Union, we are bound by its rules not to negotiate any new trade agreement”, but the UK would still be able “to discuss the impediments that we might wish to eliminate ahead of agreements that we might reach with other countries when we leave”.
However, potential trading partners will be likely want to know the exact terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU and the European single market.
As one US trade representative put it: “As a practical matter, it is not possible to meaningfully advance separate trade and investment negotiations with the UK until some of the basic issues around the future EU-UK relationship have been worked out.”
Consumer Advisory About Counterfeit Coins
American Numismatic Association
Hobby periodicals report that more than a million counterfeit coins manufactured in China have been fraudulently sold in the United States posing a significant financial risk for unsuspecting consumers. Buyer beware! Consumers who buy an item based only on its perceived rarity and who have no knowledge as to how to determine whether the coin is genuine subject themselves to great risk of losing their money
The American Numismatic Association (ANA), the Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA), Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), Professional Coin Grading Service (www.PCGS.com) and the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) urge consumers to educate themselves before making purchases: know what you are buying and purchase only from reputable, experienced rare coin dealers (professional numismatists).
“We believe many of these counterfeits subsequently are being resold as genuine rare coins in online auctions and at flea markets and swap meets,” said Clifford Mishler, ANA President.
“Millions of dollars already have been spent on these fakes and potentially millions more may be unwittingly lost by consumers who mistakenly think they’re getting a genuine rare coin,” warned Paul Montgomery, PNG President.
It is a violation of United States federal law to sell unmarked replicas. The U.S. Hobby Protection Act, first enacted in 1973 (Public Law 93-167 15 US Code 2101 et seq) requires manufacturers and importers of imitation numismatic items to mark them plainly and permanently with the word, “COPY” in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations (16 CFR part 304).
Thousands of coins described as “copy” or “replica” are listed for sale in online auctions every day. There also are numerous reports of replica coins being exported from China without the word, “COPY,” incused in the surface as the law requires. On most on-line offers, photos of the replica depict the word, falsely showing consumers a different product than the one they’re actually buying.
Here is an example of a scam involving ‘rare’ coins that are being made today in China. The story of the shipwreck and discovery of rare coins is entirely fictional:
“After 161 years, the S.S. New York shipwreck has been recovered off the Gulf of Mexico. The ship was carrying an incredible treasure hoard of some of the earliest and rarest Gold Coins minted in the U.S. Southern Mints. Valued at over $1 million dollars, the U.S. Gold coins will be released to the American public.
Amazingly, the coins on board the S.S. New York were some of the oldest Gold coins struck at the long-closed and little-known Southern Branches of the U.S. Mint. Experts report that the discovery includes some of the finest known Pre-Civil War half eagles and quarter eagles in the world. Recovered from this historic 1846 shipwreck were coins struck during America’s first gold rush starting in 1803 in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and during the next gold rush in the Cherokee hills of Georgia in 1828.
The recovered treasure also includes $10 Gold Eagles, as well as the $2.50 and $5.00 pieces issued by the Southern Mints of New Orleans, Charlotte, NC and Dahlonega, GA. These coins bear the mint marks of O, C, and D respectively and enjoy a strong base of American collectors. The latest reports are that some $10 Eagles were minted in New Orleans and others in Philadelphia. (Coins from the Mother Mint bear no mint mark.)
Austin Rare Coins is proud to announce that we will again be among the first U.S. coin firms to release these authentic, shipwrecked coins from this extremely rare and valuable collection from the S.S. New York Shipwreck. In the past, the Austin Buying Trust was able to procure and release shipwreck coins directly to our Preferred Collectors. A brief listing of those releases includes:
- Seated Liberty Half Dollar 1861-O ‘S.S. Republic’
- 1857 “S” Shipwreck Gold Coins ‘S.S. Central America’
- 1858 “S” $20 Liberty Shipwreck Gold ‘S.S. Republic’”
How do They watch You? Let me count the ways….
March 20, 2017
by Harry von Johnston, PhD
Millions of Americans, and other nationalities, are spied on daily and vast amounts of personal data acquired and stored.
The cover story is that this is designed to “locate and neutralize” Muslim terrorists, both inside and outside of the United States, but in fact, according to a U.S. Army document, the actual purposes of the mass surveillance is to build significant data bases on any person likely to present a domestic threat to established authority.
This fear has its roots in massive popular rejection of the Vietnam war with its attendant mass meetings, defiance of the government and the development of ad hoc student groups firmly, and often very vocally, opposed to the war.
There was a great deal of civic unrest on college campuses throughout the 1960s as students became increasingly involved in a number of social and political movements ranging from the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Rights Movement, and, of course, the Anti-War Movement. Over 30,000 people left the country and went to Canada, Sweden, and Mexico to avoid the draft.
The bureaucracy then found itself under siege and has stated subsequently that this must not happen again and that any kind of meaningful civil disobedience is to get negative mention in the media and members of such groups subject to arrest and detention.
The Obama administration punished any government whistle-blower with such severity so as to discourage others from revealing negative official information.
FEMA has a network of so-called “detention camps” throughout the United States, most only sites, to be used in the event of noteworthy civil disturbance.
The current programs of mass surveillance are known and approved at the highest levels in the government, to include the President
Government, faux government, and government-subsidized private organizations.
The high technology consists of such subjects as surveillance cameras in public places, drones, satellites, interceptions of telephone, computer and mail communications.
There are as of this instance, no less than five million names on the officlal government Terrorist Identies Datamart Environment list and nearly sixty thousand names on the TSA no-fly list.
Nearly five thousand died domestically in the 9/11 attacks and only thirty-seven subsequently but the death toll outside the United States, due to Muslim radical actions has exceeded over ten thousand with a death toll of ninty eight thousand in the Syrian civil war and an estimated one million in the sectarian wars in Iraq following the American invasion and occupationThis vast program of politically-motivated illegal domestic surveillance, ordered by Bush, is only part of an ambitious program brought forward in the first year of the Bush administration by Karl Rove. Rove is the architect of the ‘GOP Rules’ program, the basic premise of which was to secure a permanent control, by the Republican Party, of both branches of Congress, the White House and the leadership of all the agencies of control such as the CIA, later the DHS, the FBI, the Department of Justice, and, most important, the U.S. Army.
Rove, an accomplished student of history, had carefully studied the circumstances that permitted Adolf Hitler to rise to power in 1933. His was not a solid electoral victory but he was only a participant in a coalition government. What brought him to the beginning of absolute power was the Reichstag fire. It was long preached that this incendiary act was the result of Goering’s activities to facilitate an atmosphere of public panic but Fritz Tobias has effectively demolished this shibboleth and in fact, the fire was set by a lunatic young Dutch communist without any assistance from either the Nazis or the Communists.
Nevertheless, in its wake, the fire did create such an atmosphere of national fear that Hitler was able to tighten his control over the legislators and push through the Enabling Act that gave him the power to establish the control he badly needed. And a year later, the old Prussian Secret State Police, the Gestapo, was put into the hands of Heinrich Mueller who eventually set up a national card index with information on every German citizen.
Given the weak origins of Bush’s presidency, Rove contemplated his own Reichstag Fire and when the Israeli Mossad reported to the top Bush administration officials that they had penetrated a group of Saudi terrorists working in Hollywood, Florida and that this group was planning an aerial attack on important American business and government targets, Rove had found his Reichstag Fire.
Bush was informed by the Israeli government at every stage of the pending attack but advised the Israelis that he did not want to interfere with it “until the last possible moment so as to be able to arrest the entire group.”
As the plot progressed and Washington learned that the major targets would be the World Trade Centers in New York, and the Pentagon and the Capitol building in Washington, someone high up in the administration, currently unknown, wanted the Israelis to convince the Saudis to attack the side of the Pentagon that was currently unoccupied due to reconstruction. There was no point, the plotters decided, to kill the useful Secretary of Defense who was a member of their team.
The attack on the Capitol would, they reasoned, fall when Congress was in session ( In 2001, the first session of the 107th Congress was from January 3, 2001 through December 20, 2001 and the House and Senate planned to begin their 10 day Thanksgiving recess, between November 17 and November 27 of that year) and this meant that if a large commercial aircraft, loaded with aviation fuel, slammed at high speed into either wing of the immense building while Congress was in session, it could reasonably be expected that a siginficant number of Federal legislatiors would be killed or incapacitated.
This, coupled with the attacks on the Pentagon and the WTC, would give the Bush people the very acceptable excuse for the President to step up, (after he returned from a safe and distant vacation,) and assume ‘special powers” to “protect this nation from new attacks” until Congress could be “satisfactorily reformed” via somewhat distant “special elections” to fill the vacancies created by the Saudi attackers.
Then, it would be quite acceptable, and even demanded, that the Army would establish “law and order” in the country and that other agencies would step forward to “guard this nation against” possible “ongoing terrorist attacks.” ‘Speak not of the morrow for thou knowest not what it might bring forth’ is a Biblical admonition that apparently Bush, Rove and Cheney never considered.
The aircraft designated to slam into the Capitol building and immolate both sides of the aisle, crashed as the very fortunate result of its passenger’s actions and that part of the plan had to be shelved. But not so the formulation of the machinery designed solely to clamp down on any possible dissident voices in the country and ensure a very long term Republican policical control.
The Saudi terrorist attacks went forward as planned, minus the one on the members of Congress and Bush indeed rose to the occasion and promised to protect the American public. A Department of Homeland Security was set up under the incompetent Governor Ridge but as for the rest of the plan for Republic permanence, it began to disintegrate bit by bit, due entirely to the gross incompetence of its leaders. The Bush-Rove-Cheney plan consisted, in the main, of the following:
- Federal control of all domestic media, the internet, all computerized records, through overview of all domestic fax, mail and telephone conversations,
2 .A national ID card, universal SS cards being mandatory,
- Seizure and forced deportation of all illegal aliens, including millions of Mexicans and Central Americans, intensive observation and penetration of Asian groups, especially Indonesian and Chinese,
- A reinstitution of a universal draft (mandatory service at 18 years for all male American youths…based on the German Arbeitsdienst.
- Closer coordination of administration views and domestic policies with various approved and régime supportive religious groups,
- An enlargement of the planned “no travel” lists drawn up in the Justice Department that would prevents “subversive” elemetst from flying, (this list to include “peaceniks” and most categories of Muslims)
- The automatic death penalty for any proven acts of sedition,
- The forbidding of abortion, any use of medical marijuana,
- Any public approval of homosexual or lesbian behavior to include magazines, websites, political action groups and soon to be forbidden and punishable.
As the popularity of drones for domestic surveillance grows in the United States, so do privacy concerns for citizens just going about their daily business. Designer Adam Harvey has come up with a line of anti-drone clothing that is much more stylish than an aluminum foil hat.
The anti-drone clothes include a hoodie, a scarf, and a burqa. They are made with a metalized fabric designed to thwart thermal imaging. They work by reflecting heat and masking the person underneath from the thermal eye of a drone. The designs may hide you from certain drone activities, but they would definitely make you noticeable to people out on the street.
The scarf and burqa are both inspired by traditional Muslim clothing designs. Harvey explains the choice, saying, “Conceptually, these garments align themselves with the rationale behind the traditional hijab and burqa: to act as ‘the veil which separates man or the world from God,’ replacing God with drone.”
The anti-drone garments are part of a larger line of clothing called Stealth Wear. These are called “New Designs for Countersurveillance.” The manufacturer states: “Collectively, Stealth Wear is a vision for fashion that addresses the rise of surveillance, the power of those who surveil, and the growing need to exert control over what we are slowly losing, our privacy.”
If drones get to be more commonplace in our communities, it’s not too much of a stretch to see this sort of fashion becoming more mainstream, much like RFID-blocking wallets and passport holders.
The government intelligence agencies and their allied private contractors now regularly accesses all emails, chats, searches, events, locations, videos, photos, log-ins and any information people post online with a warrant, which the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court always grants secretly and without being ever made public.
And the revelation of Prism, a secret government program for mining major Internet companies, states that the government now has direct access to Internet companies’ data without a warrant.
Every company impacted – Google, YouTube, Yahoo, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Skype, PalTalk and AOL – publically deny knowing about the program or giving any direct access to their servers. These denials are intented to bolster public confidence in their services because in reality, all of these entities cooperate fully with requests for customer information.
Google is the supplier of the customized core search technology for Intellipedia, a highly-secure online system where 37,000 U.S. domestic and foreign area spies and related personnel share information and collaborate on investigative missions.
And there is absolutely nothing one can commit to the Internet that is private in any sense of the word
In addition, Google is linked to the U.S. spy and military systems through its Google Earth software venture. The technology behind this software was originally developed by Keyhole Inc., a company funded by Q-Tel http://www.iqt.org/ , a venture capital firm which is in turn openly funded and operated on behalf of the CIA.
Google acquired Keyhole Inc. in 2004. The same base technology is currently employed by U.S. military and intelligence systems in their quest, in their own words, for “full-spectrum dominance” of the American, and foreign, political, social and economic spheres.
However, Internet Service Providers and the entertainment industry are now taking Internet monitoring to a whole new level….
If someone download copyrighted software, videos or music, all Internet service providers (ISP) have the ability to detect this downloading.
On Thursday, July 12. 2913 the nation’s largest ISPs will all voluntarily implement a new anti-piracy plan that will engage network operators in the largest digital spying scheme in history, and see some users’ bandwidth completely cut off until they sign an agreement saying they will not download copyrighted materials.
Word of the start date has been largely kept secret since ISPs announced their plans. The deal was brokered by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and coordinated by the Obama Administration.
The vast majority of computer surveillance involves the monitoring of data and traffic on the Internet. In the United States for example, under the Communications Assistance For Law Enforcement Act, all phone calls and broadband Internet traffic (emails, web traffic, instant messaging, etc.) are required to be available for unimpeded real-time monitoring by Federal law enforcement agencies., to include the FBI, NSA, the CIA and the DHS.
There is far too much data on the Internet for human investigators to manually search through all of it and so automated Internet surveillance computers sift through the vast amount of intercepted Internet traffic and identify and report to human investigators traffic considered interesting by using certain “trigger” words or phrases, visiting certain types of web sites, or communicating via email or chat with suspicious individuals or groups. Billions of dollars per year are spent, by agencies such as the Information Awareness Office, NSA, and the FBI, to develop, purchase, implement, and operate systems such as Carnivore, NarusInsight, and ECHELON to intercept and analyze all of this data, and extract only the information which is useful to law enforcement and intelligence agencies. One flaw with NSA claims that the government needs to be able to suck up Internet data from services such as Skype and Gmail to fight terrorists: Studies show that would-be terrorists don’t use those services. The NSA has to collect the metadata from all of our phone calls because terrorists, right? And the spy agency absolutely must intercept Skypes you conduct with folks out-of-state, or else terrorism. It must sift through your iCloud data and Facebook status updates too, because Al Qaeda.Terrorists are everywhere, they are legion, they are dangerous, and, unfortunately, they don’t really do any of the stuff described above.
Even though the still-growing surveillance state that sprung up in the wake of 9/11 was enacted almost entirely to “fight terrorism,” reports show that the modes of communication that agencies like the NSA are targeting are scarcely used by terrorists at all.
A recent Bloomberg piece points to a 2012 report on terrorism which found that most serious terrorists steer clear of the most obvious platforms—major cell networks, Google, Skype, Facebook, etc.
Or, as Bloomberg more bluntly puts it, the “infrastructure set up by the National Security Agency … may only be good for gathering information on the stupidest, lowest-ranking of terrorists. The Prism surveillance program focuses on access to the servers of America’s largest Internet companies, which support such popular services as Skype, Gmail and iCloud. These are not the services that truly dangerous elements typically use.”
And why would they? Post-911 warrantless wiretapping practices are well known, NSA-style data collection was well-rumored, and we all knew the Department of Homeland Security was already scanning emails for red-flag keywords. Of course terrorists would take precautions. Bloomberg elaborates:
In a January 2012 report titled “Jihadism on the Web: A Breeding Ground for Jihad in the Modern Age,” the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service drew a convincing picture of an Islamist Web underground centered around “core forums.” These websites are part of the Deep Web, or Undernet, the multitude of online resources not indexed by commonly used search engines.
In 2010, Google estimated that it had indexed just 0.004% of the internet—meaning the vast majority of the web is open for surreptitious message-sending business. Terrorists simply aren’t dumb enough to discuss their secret plans over Skype or to email each other confidential information on Gmail.
So, essentially, the NSA is deeply compromising our privacy so that it can do an extremely shitty job of looking for terrorists. Nice.
Computers can be a surveillance target because of the personal data stored on them. If someone is able to install software, such as the FBI’s Magic Lantern and CIPAV, on a computer system, they can easily gain unauthorized access to this data. Such software can be, and is installed physically or remotely. Another form of computer surveillance, known as van Eck phreaking, involves reading electromagnetic emanations from computing devices in order to extract data from them at distances of hundreds of meters. The NSA runs a database known as “Pinwale”, which stores and indexes large numbers of emails of both American citizens and foreigners.
The government agencies have been fully capable to look at any and all emails.
A warrant can easily grant access to email sent within 180 days. Older emails are available with an easier-to-get subpoena and prior notice.
Government officials also are fully capable of reading all the ingoing and outgoing emails on an account in real time with a specific type of wiretap warrant, which is granted with probable cause for specific crimes such as terrorism.
Google received 122,503 user data requests involving 2,375,434 users from the U.S. government in 2013. It granted about 98 percent of those requests.
Microsoft, with its Outlook/Hotmail email service, received 61,538 requests involving 52,291 users, at least partially granting 92 percent of those requests.
With the advent of smartphones and SIM cards, cellphones are no longer strictly for storage of digits and 180-character short messages.
Cellphones assist in navigating for car trips, to enable making Internet purchases and to watch events on television stations. It is possible to deposit checks with a bank app and a camera, locate businesses of interest and also to use transportation by using a QR-code. Phones hold our coupons, our favorite cat videos and functions as a credit card when we forget ours at home.
The NSA collects subscriber information from major cell phone carriers. This information is primarily based on metadata, such as location and duration of calls, along with numbers dialed, all in search of links to suspected terrorists.
In 2013, to date, law enforcement agencies made 2.3 million requests for subscriber information.
These government requests for surveillance information from the NSA, are limited to metadata. That doesn’t mean that the content of conversations is off-limits. To listen in, the government just needs a warrant, one that’s granted through the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The court approves almost every request, fully denying just nine out of 133,900 government applications for surveillance over its 33-year existence, according to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act reports submitted to Congress.
Although this is not new technology, law enforcement authorities are using our own cell phones to spy on us more extensively than ever before as a recent Wired article described….
Mobile carriers responded to a staggering 1.3 million law enforcement requests last year for subscriber information, including text messages and phone location data, according to data provided to Congress.
A single “request” can involve information about hundreds of customers. So ultimately the number of Americans affected by this could reach into “the tens of millions” each year.
The number of Americans affected each year by the growing use of mobile phone data by law enforcement could reach into the tens of millions, as a single request could ensnare dozens or even hundreds of people. Law enforcement has been asking for so-called “cell tower dumps” in which carriers disclose all phone numbers that connected to a given tower during a certain period of time.
So, for instance, if police wanted to try to find a person who broke a store window at an Occupy protest, it could get the phone numbers and identifying data of all protestors with mobile phones in the vicinity at the time — and use that data for other purposes.
Perhaps you should not be using your cell phone so much anyway. After all, there are more than 500 studies that claim to show that cell phone radiation is harmful to humans.
The official and unofficial tapping of telephone lines is widespread. In the United States for instance, the Communications Assistance For Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) requires that all telephone and VoIP communications be available for real-time wiretapping by Federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Two major telecommunications companies in the U.S.—AT&T Inc. and Verizon—have contracts with the FBI, requiring them to keep their phone call records easily searchable and accessible for Federal agencies, in return for $1.8 million dollars per year. Between 2003 and 2005, the FBI sent out more than 140,000 “National Security Letters” ordering phone companies to hand over information about their customers’ calling and Internet histories. About half of these letters requested information on U.S. citizens.
Human agents are not required to monitor most calls. Speech-to-text software creates machine-readable text from intercepted audio, which is then processed by automated call-analysis programs, such as those developed by agencies such as the Information Awareness Office, or companies such as Verint, and Narus, which search for certain words or phrases, to decide whether to dedicate a human agent to the call.
Law enforcement and intelligence services in the United Kingdom and the United States possess technology to remotely activate the microphones in cell phones, by accessing phones’ diagnostic or maintenance features in order to listen to conversations that take place near the person who holds the phone.
Mobile phones are also commonly used to collect location data. The geographical location of a mobile phone (and thus the person carrying it) can be determined easily even when the phone is not being used, using a technique known multilateration to calculate the differences in time for a signal to travel from the cell phone to each of several cell towers near the owner of the phone. The legality of such techniques has been questioned in the United States, in particular whether a court warrant is required. Records for one carrier alone (Sprint), showed that in a given year federal law enforcement agencies requested customer location data 8 million times.
Think Uncle Sam knows where you buy your coffee? He might be able to tell you the exact cafe.
It all starts with that stripe on the back of your credit card, which gets swiped through thousands of readers every year.
That solid black bar is made up of millions of iron-based magnetic particles, each one 20-millionths of an inch wide. Each credit-card owner has a personalized strip full of intimate data sitting right inside his or her pocket. Any purchase can be traced directly back to your wallet.
Although the scope of credit-card tracking efforts are unknown, the Journal reported that the NSA has established relationships with credit card companies akin to those that they had established with phone carriers, which provide them with data under warrant, subpoena or court order. These former officials didn’t know if the efforts were ongoing.
What could they find? Based on the technology of the mag stripe, quite a bit.
Even with just the metadata – digitally contained bits of information – on a credit card, they could most likely see when and where a purchase was made, and how much it cost.
Whether they’re walking to work, withdrawing money from an ATM or walking into their favorite local grocer, Americans could be within sight of one of the United States’ estimated 30 million surveillance cameras.
Police use them to monitor streets, subways and public spaces. Homeowners put them on their houses. Businesses mount them in stores and on buildings.
In Boston, for example, the FBI used still photos and video pulled from cameras to identify suspects after the Boston Marathon bombing. The images showed the suspects making calls from their cellphones, carrying what the police say were bombs, and leaving the scene.
New high-tech, high-definition security camera manufacturers give police departments the options of thermal imaging, 360-degree fields of view and powerful zoom capabilities for identifying people. Advances in camera technology enable new ways to monitor American citizens.
Surveillance cameras are video cameras used for the purpose of observing an area. They are often connected to a recording device or IP network, and may be watched by a security guard or law enforcement officer. Cameras and recording equipment used to be relatively expensive and required human personnel to monitor camera footage, but analysis of footage has been made easier by automated software that organizes digital video footage into a searchable database, and by video analysis software (such as VIRAT and HumanID). The amount of footage is also drastically reduced by motion sensors which only record when motion is detected. With cheaper production techniques, surveillance cameras are simple and inexpensive enough to be used in home security systems, and for everyday surveillance.
In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security awards billions of dollars per year in Homeland Security grants for local, state, and federal agencies to install modern video surveillance equipment. For example, the city of Chicago, Illinois, recently used a $5.1 million Homeland Security grant to install an additional 250 surveillance cameras, and connect them to a centralized monitoring center, along with its preexisting network of over 2000 cameras, in a program known as Operation Virtual Shield. Speaking in 2009, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley announced that Chicago would have a surveillance camera on every street corner by the year 2016.
As part of China’s Golden Shield Project, several U.S. corporations, including IBM, General Electric, and Honeywell, have been working closely with the Chinese government to install millions of surveillance cameras throughout China, along with advanced video analytics and facial recognition software, which will identify and track individuals everywhere they go. They will be connected to a centralized database and monitoring station, which will, upon completion of the project, contain a picture of the face of every person in China: over 1.3 billion people Lin Jiang Huai, the head of China’s “Information Security Technology” office (which is in charge of the project), credits the surveillance systems in the United States and the U.K. as the inspiration for what he is doing with the Golden Shield Project.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding a research project called Combat Zones That See that will link up cameras across a city to a centralized monitoring station, identify and track individuals and vehicles as they move through the city, and report “suspicious” activity (such as waving arms, looking side-to-side, standing in a group, etc.).
At Super Bowl XXXV in January 2001, police in Tampa, Florida, used Identix’s facial recognition software, FaceIt, to scan the crowd for potential criminals and terrorists in attendance at the event (it found 19 people with pending arrest warrants).
Governments ofteninitially claim that cameras are meant to be used for traffic control, but many of them end up using them for general surveillance. For example, Washington, D.C. had 5,000 “traffic” cameras installed under this premise, and then after they were all in place, networked them all together and then granted access to the Metropolitan Police Department, so they could perform “day-to-day monitoring”.
The development of centralized networks of CCTV cameras watching public areas – linked to computer databases of people’s pictures and identity (biometric data), able to track people’s movements throughout the city, and identify whom they have been with – has been argued by some to present a risk to civil liberties. Trapwire is an example of such a network.
FEDERAL HIGHWAY SURVEILLANCE
A joint Pentagon/Department of Transportation plan to conduct a permanent surveillance of all motor vehicles using the Federal Highway System is code named ARGUS. It was initially a part of an overall public surveillance program instituted and organized by Admiral Poindexter, who was convicted of various criminal acts as the result of the Iran-Contra affair and then brought back to government service by the Bush Administration. Following public disclosure of Poindexter’s manic attempts to pry into all aspects of American life and his subsequent public departure from government service (he is still so employed but as a “private consultant” and not subject to public scrutiny) many of his plans were officially scrapped. ARGUS, however, is still valid has been fully developed and now is in experimental use on twelve Federal highways across the country..
This surveillance consists of having unmanned video cameras, soon to be installed over all Federal highways and toll roads with Presidential approval. These cameras work 24/7 to video all passing vehicles, trucks, private cars and busses. The information is passed to a central data bank and entered therein. This data can readily viewed at the request of any authorized law enforcement agency to include: private investigative and credit agencies licensed to work with Federal law enforcement information on any user of the road systems under surveillance. Provision will be made, according to the operating plans, to notify local law enforcement immediately if any driver attempts to obscure their license plate number and instructs them to at once to “apprehend and identify” the vehicle or vehicles involved. Federally-funded high-tech street lights now being installed in American cities are not only set to aid the DHS in making “security announcements” and acting as talking surveillance cameras, they are also capable of “recording conversations,” bringing the potential privacy threat posed by ‘Intellistreets’ to a whole new level.
The program has cost to date over $5 billion over a three year period.
This program can easily be installed and running on a nationwide basis within two years from its commencement.
It also is now a Federal crime to attempt to damage or in any way interfere with these surveillance devices.
Some states such as Colorado are using cameras as an alternative method of charging motorists toll fares. As a motorist drives through the toll lanes, motion-activated cameras capture an image of the license plate and the driver is billed.Cameras are watching if you speed or run a red light, too.
Also, police departments in several metro areas began employing cameras to deter traffic infractions and raise revenue.
Libertarians and electronic privacy advocates oppose these methods, citing a lack of transparency in the use of the cameras and the retention of the data they collect.
As many as 30,000 domestic drones will travel the skies above U.S. soil within 20 years, according to a report for Congress by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Congress has called on the FAA to integrate unmanned aircraft into the national air system by 2015.
Already, the FAA has approved domestic drone use by 81 agencies, including schools, police departments and the Department of Homeland Security.
Among the applicants approved: the Arlington Police Department in Texas; California State University in Fresno; Canyon County Sheriff’s Office in Idaho; the city of Herington, Kan.; the Georgia Tech Research Institute; Kansas State University; the Miami-Dade Police Department in Florida; the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources; the Seattle Police Department; and the Universities of Alaska at Fairbanks, California-Davis and Florida.
Although these drones range in size, most are able to hover tens of thousands of feet in the sky, collecting images of people on the ground below.
Based on current trends – technology development, law enforcement interest, political and industry pressure, and the lack of legal safeguards – it is clear that drones pose a looming threat to Americans’ privacy.
Law enforcement agencies all over the United States are starting to use unmanned drones to spy on us, and the Department of Homeland Security is aggressively seeking to expand the use of such drones by local authorities….
The Department of Homeland Security has launched a program to “facilitate and accelerate the adoption” of small, unmanned drones by police and other public safety agencies, an effort that an agency official admitted faces “a very big hurdle having to do with privacy.”
The $4 million Air-based Technologies Program, which will test and evaluate small, unmanned aircraft systems, is designed to be a “middleman” between drone manufacturers and first-responder agencies.
The EPA is already using drones to spy on cattle ranchers in Nebraska and Iowa. Will we eventually get to a point where we all just consider it to be “normal” to have surveillance drones flying above our heads constantly?
The FBI uses aerial surveillance drones over US soil, and has agreed that further political debate and legislation to govern their domestic use may be necessary.
The bureau’s director, Robert Mueller, admitted it used drones to aid its investigations.
However, the potential for growing drone use either in the US, or involving US citizens abroad, is an increasingly charged issue in Congress, and the FBI acknowleged there may need to be legal restrictions placed on their use to protect privacy.
“It is still in nascent stages but it is worthy of debate and legislation down the road,” said Mueller, in response to questions from Hawaii senator Mazie Hirono.
Hirono said: “I think this is a burgeoning concern for many of us.”
Dianne Feinstein, who is also chair of the Senate intelligence committee, said the issue of drones worried her far more than telephone and internet surveillance, which she believes are subject to sufficient legal oversight.
It is known that drones are used by border control officials and have been used by some local law enforcement authorities and Department of Homeland Security in criminal cases.
Mueller said he wasn’t sure if there were official agreements with these other agencies.
“To the extent that it relates to the air space there would be some communication back and forth [between agencies],” Mueller said.
“Pre-Crime” Surveillance Cameras
Also aiding and abetting police in their efforts to track our every movement in real time is Trapwire, which allows for quick analysis of live feeds from CCTV surveillance cameras. Some of Trapwire’s confirmed users are the DC police, and police and casinos in Las Vegas. Police in New York, Los Angeles, Canada, and London are also thought to be using Trapwire.
Using Trapwire in conjunction with NGI, police and other government agents will be able to pinpoint anyone by checking the personal characteristics stored in the database against images on social media websites, feeds from the thousands of CCTV surveillance cameras installed throughout American cities (there are 3,700 CCTV cameras tracking the public in the New York subway system alone), as well as data being beamed down from the more than 30,000 surveillance drones taking to the skies within the next eight years. Given that the drones’ powerful facial recognition cameras will be capable of capturing minute details, including every mundane action performed by every person in an entire city simultaneously, soon there really will be nowhere to run and nowhere to hide, short of living in a cave, far removed from technology.
NGI will not only increase sharing between federal agencies, opening up the floodgates between the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Defense, but states can also get in on the action. The system was rolled out in Michigan in February 2012, with Hawaii, Maryland, South Carolina, Ohio, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona, Tennessee, Nebraska, and Missouri on the shortlist for implementation, followed by Washington, North Carolina, and Florida in the near future.
Going far beyond the scope of those with criminal backgrounds, the NGI data includes criminals and non-criminals alike – in other words, innocent American citizens. The information is being amassed through a variety of routine procedures, with the police leading the way as prime collectors of biometrics for something as non-threatening as a simple moving violation. For example, the New York Police Department began photographing irises of suspects and arrestees in 2010, routinely telling suspects that the scans were mandatory, despite there being no law requiring defendants to have their irises scanned. Police departments across the country are now being equipped with the Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System, or MORIS, a physical iPhone add-on that allows officers patrolling the streets to scan the irises and faces of individuals and match them against government databases.
To start with, there’s the government’s integration of facial recognition software and other biometric markers into its identification data programs. The FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) system is a $1 billion project that is aimed at dramatically expanding the government’s current ID database from a fingerprint system to a facial recognition system. NGI will use a variety of biometric data, cross-referenced against the nation’s growing network of surveillance cameras to not only track your every move but create a permanent “recognition” file on you within the government’s massive databases. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab are developing software that can read the feelings behind facial expressions. In some cases, the computers outperform people. The software could lead to empathetic devices and is being used to evaluate and develop better advertisements.
By the time it’s fully operational in 2014, NGI will serve as a vast data storehouse of “iris scans, photos searchable with face recognition technology, palm prints, and measures of gait and voice recordings alongside records of fingerprints, scars, and tattoos.” One component of NGI, the Universal Face Workstation, already contains some 13 million facial images, gleaned from “criminal mug shot photos” taken during the booking process. However, with major search engines having “accumulated face image databases that in their size dwarf the earth’s population,” the government taps into the trove of images stored on social media and photo sharing websites such as Facebook.
A company known as BRS Labs has developed “pre-crime” surveillance cameras that can supposedly determine if you are a terrorist or a criminal even before you commit a crime and dozens of these cameras are being installed at major transportation hubs in San Francisco….
In its latest project BRS Labs is to install its devices on the transport system in San Francisco, which includes buses, trams and subways.
The company says will put them in 12 stations with up to 22 cameras in each, bringing the total number to 288.
The cameras will be able to track up to 150 people at a time in real time and will gradually build up a ‘memory’ of suspicious behavior to work out what is suspicious.
Mobile Backscatter Vans
Police all over America will soon be driving around in unmarked vans looking inside your cars and even under your clothes using the same “pornoscanner” technology currently being utilized by the TSA at U.S. airports….
American intelligence agencies are set to join the US military in deploying American Science & Engineering’s Z Backscatter Vans, or mobile backscatter radiation x-rays. These are what TSA officials call “the amazing radioactive genital viewer,” now seen in airports around America, ionizing the private parts of children, the elderly.
These pornoscannerwagons will look like regular anonymous vans, and will cruise America’s streets, indiscriminately peering through the cars (and clothes) of anyone in range of its mighty isotope-cannon. But don’t worry, it’s not a violation of privacy. As AS&E’s vice president of marketing Joe Reiss sez, “From a privacy standpoint, I’m hard-pressed to see what the concern or objection could be.”
Most Americans don’t realize this, but RFID microchips are steadily becoming part of the very fabric of our lives. Many of your credit cards and debit cards contain them. Many Americans use security cards that contain RFID microchips at work. In some parts of the country it is now mandatory to inject an RFID microchip into your pet.
Now, one school system down in Texas actually plans to start using RFID microchips to track the movements of their students….
Northside Independent School District plans to track students next year on two of its campuses using technology implanted in their student identification cards in a trial that could eventually include all 112 of its schools and all of its nearly 100,000 students.
District officials said the Radio Frequency Identification System (RFID) tags would improve safety by allowing them to locate students — and count them more accurately at the beginning of the school day to help offset cuts in state funding, which is partly based on attendance.
Automated License Plate Readers
Automated license plate readers are being used to track the movements of a vehicle from the time that it enters Washington D.C. to the time that it leaves….
More than 250 cameras in the District and its suburbs scan license plates in real time, helping police pinpoint stolen cars and fleeing killers. But the program quietly has expanded beyond what anyone had imagined even a few years ago.
With virtually no public debate, police agencies have begun storing the information from the cameras, building databases that document the travels of millions of vehicles.
Nowhere is that more prevalent than in the District, which has more than one plate-reader per square mile, the highest concentration in the nation. Police in the Washington suburbs have dozens of them as well, and local agencies plan to add many more in coming months, creating a comprehensive dragnet that will include all the approaches into the District.
The government is not the only one that is spying on you. The truth is that a whole host of very large corporations are gathering every shred of information about you that they possibly can and selling that information for profit. It is called “data mining”, and it is an industry that has absolutely exploded in recent years.
One very large corporation known as Acxiom actually compiles information on more than 190 million people in the U.S. alone….
The company fits into a category called database marketing. It started in 1969 as an outfit called Demographics Inc., using phone books and other notably low-tech tools, as well as one computer, to amass information on voters and consumers for direct marketing. Almost 40 years later, Acxiom has detailed entries for more than 190 million people and 126 million households in the U.S., and about 500 million active consumers worldwide. More than 23,000 servers in Conway, just north of Little Rock, collect and analyze more than 50 trillion data ‘transactions’ a year.
Cable television spying
When people download a film from Netflix to a flatscreen, or turn on web radio, they could be alerting unwanted watchers to exactly what they are doing and where they are.
Spies will no longer have to plant bugs in your home – the rise of ‘connected’ gadgets controlled by apps will mean that people ‘bug’ their own homes.
The CIA claims it will be able to ‘read’ these devices via the internet – and perhaps even via radio waves from outside the home.
Everything from remote controls to clock radios can now be controlled via apps – and chip company ARM recently unveiled low-powered, cheaper chips which will be used in everything from fridges and ovens to doorbells.
These web-connected gadgets will ‘transform’ the art of spying – allowing spies to monitor people automatically without planting bugs, breaking and entering or even donning a tuxedo to infiltrate a dinner party.
‘Particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft. Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters – all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing.’
One of the world’s biggest chip companies, ARM, has unveiled a new processor built to work inside ‘connected’ white goods.
The ARM chips are smaller, lower-powered and far cheaper than previous processors – and designed to add the internet to almost every kind of electrical appliance.
It’s a concept described as the ‘internet of things’.
Futurists think that one day ‘connected’ devices will tell the internet where they are and what they are doing at all times – and will be mapped by computers as precisely as Google Maps charts the physical landscape now.
The forced conversion to High Definition TV means we will only be able to receive a digital TV signal instead of an analog TV signal. This began in 2009. The surveillance specialists will then have the ability to manipulate that digital signal in any direction desired, for any purpose desired.
In addition, all of the newer wide-screen High Definition TVs found in retail outlets today have both tiny cameras and audio detection devices covertly installed within them so the NSA can both observe and listen to everything within it operatinal radius.
The conversion boxes that have been offered with those free government coupons will have the same detection and surveillance devices.
And covert monitoring/tracking chips have been installed in all automobiles manufactured since 1990
- Don’t buy the newer HD TVs and don’t get their conversion box. Forget getting TV from broadcast or cable or satellite directly. One idea is to watch TV shows from your older computer with currently availabe TV reception hardware/software (newer computers probably have the surveillance devices installed) or send the video and audio from the computer into the AV jacks on your TV or VCR.
- Watch TV shows from programs previously recorded on VHS tapes or from DVDs using your older TV and VCR equipment. This could become a cottage industry overnight if enough people become aware of the covert surveillance agenda riding along on the coattails of the forced conversion to High Definition digital television.
- You can listen to only television audio from many inexpensive radios that include the TV audio bands from channel 2-13 In most cases, audio is good enough for me. I’m mainly looking for those few comedy offerings here and there that will provide a laugh. Most sitcoms are just awful: ‘boring’ or ‘banal’ would be complimentary descriptions.
There are also many “black box technologies” being developed out there that the public does not even know about yet.