If Yahoo would have refused to comply with the NSA court order, Yahoo would have lost all of its assets, or $13.8 billion, in just over a year.

by Jon Fingas | @jonfingas | http://www.engadget.com

Yahoo's headquarters in Sunnyvale

The US government’s threat that it would fine Yahoo $250,000 per day back in 2008 was bad enough by itself, but declassified documents show that the penalties could easily have been much, much worse. Marc Zwillinger and Jacob Sommer (who were on Yahoo’s side in the case) note that $250,000 was merely the baseline, and that the requested fines would double for every week that Yahoo refused to hand over user data. There wasn’t a ceiling, either. At that rate, holding out for any significant amount of time would have been impossible — Yahoo would have lost all of its assets, or $13.8 billion, in just over a year. As such, the fine wasn’t so much a punishment as a weapon that forced the internet firm to comply with a surveillance order it was planning to contest in court.

How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently

by  http://www.brainpickings.org

“Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticizing the views of an opponent?”

“In disputes upon moral or scientific points,”Arthur Martine counseled in his magnificent1866 guide to the art of conversation, “let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.” Of course, this isn’t what happens most of the time when we argue, both online and off, but especially when we deploy the artillery of our righteousness from behind the comfortable shield of the keyboard. That form of “criticism” — which is really a menace of reacting rather than responding — is worthy of Mark Twain’s memorable remark that “the critic’s symbol should be the tumble-bug: he deposits his egg in somebody else’s dung, otherwise he could not hatch it.” But it needn’t be this way — there are ways to be critical while remaining charitable, of aiming not to “conquer” but to “come at truth,” not to be right at all costs but to understand and advance the collective understanding.

N.Y. State Senator Looks to Legalize Marijuana for General Use

By MIKE VILENSKY http://blogs.wsj.com

Sen. Liz Krueger, D-New York, right, and Sen. John DeFranciso, R-Syracuse, debate a budget bill in the Senate Chamber at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., in 2011.

Associated Press

New York Senator Liz Krueger will introduce a bill seeking to legalize marijuana for general use in New York state, she said on Sunday, hoping the recent passage of medical marijuana laws will help give the bill momentum.

Ms. Krueger, a Democrat representing Manhattan for more than a decade, said that in the legislative session beginning in January, she will fight for a bill modeled partly on cannabis legalization laws that recently went into effect in Washington and Colorado.

Stop Calling Tor ‘The Web Browser For Criminals’ Instead of being scared of the deep web, we should recognize how we can use it for good

Instead of being scared of the deep web, we should recognize how we can use it for good.

Ukrainian politician who proposed anti-free speech law thrown into dumpster (video)

POSITIVE NEWS: Non-religious guy randomly decides to install a Buddha statue in his high-crime neighborhood. Neighboring Vietnamese ladies start flocking to it, enhance it with gifts and flowers, and hold daily chants. Crime in the vicinity has dropped 82% since 2012

Buddha seems to bring tranquility to Oakland neighborhood

  • Vina Vo (left) and Kieu Do pray at sunrise near a Buddhist shrine at 11th Avenue and East 19th Street in Oakland. Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle
    Vina Vo (left) and Kieu Do pray at sunrise near a Buddhist shrine at 11th Avenue and East 19th Street in Oakland. Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle

Dan Stevenson is neither a Buddhist nor a follower of any organized religion.

The 11th Avenue resident in Oakland’s Eastlake neighborhood was simply feeling hopeful in 2009 when he went to an Ace hardware store, purchased a 2-foot-high stone Buddha and installed it on a median strip in a residential area at 11th Avenue and 19th Street.

He hoped that just maybe his small gesture would bring tranquillity to a neighborhood marred by crime: dumping, graffiti, drug dealing, prostitution, robberies, aggravated assault and burglaries.

Ex Big Pharma Insider Ghis Lanctôt: Message To The Youth


Author of the best selling book The Medical Mafia shares her unconventional ideas with Alec Cope of We Are Change.

The US government punished 1400 whistleblowers in the past year.

Transparently Bad: U.S. Whistleblowers Feel Blowback

President Obama talks on the phone in the motorcade. (Photo: White House/Pete Souza)

Federal employees who expose government waste, fraud and abuse are having a tough time in the “most transparent administration in history.”

Robert MacLean, a former air marshal, told a House subcommittee Tuesday that managers at the Transportation Security Administration “thumb their nose” at whistleblower protection laws.

MacLean, who complained that air marshals were improperly grounded by the TSA, is taking his termination to the U.S. Supreme Court after losing a series of lopsided proceedings at the agency. He said the TSA branded him “an organizational terrorist.”

CPS called on parent of a child caught playing outdoors.

Child Services to Mom Who Did Nothing Wrong: ‘Just Don’t Let Your Kids Play Outside’

Children’s book author Kari Anne Roy was recently visited by the Austin police and Child Protective Services for allowing her son Isaac, age 6, to do the unthinkable: Play outside, up her street, unsupervised.

He’d been out there for about 10 minutes when Roy’s doorbell rang. She opened it to find her son —and a woman she didn’t know. As Roy wrote on her blog HaikuMama last week, the mystery woman asked: “Is this your son?”

WikiLeaks posts the software governments use to spy on dissidents

by Jon Fingas | @jonfingas |http://www.engadget.com

WikiLeaks truck

WikiLeaks’ all-or-nothing approach to revealing shady government activity just took a new (if decidedly risky) turn. Julian Assange and crew have posted FinFisher and FinSpy PC, the intrusion software that Australia, Italy, Pakistan and other countries use to break into and spy on people’s devices, no matter what platform they’re running. The leak site hopes that privacy-minded developers will use the code to improve security and prevent governments from easily cracking down on dissidents; it also puts pressure on Germany to clamp down on FinFisher and live up to its anti-surveillance principles. The strategy may pay off, although there is a worry that unscrupulous downloaders may use the code for more sinister purposes, such as keylogging or webcam monitoring. Let’s hope the tools don’t fall into the wrong hands.

US Court Renews NSA Phone Surveillance Program

A federal court renewed an order allowing the NSA to collect phone records for virtually all calls made within the United States by http://ultraculture.org

Last Friday, a United States federal court renewed an order that allows the National Security Agency (NSA) to collect phone records on nearly all calls made within the country.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) approved the Justice Department’s request for another 90-day extension of the NSA’s mass surveillance program, pushing the expiration date back to December 5. The NSA’s controversial program was first exposed last summer by Edward Snowden and is authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Israeli war hawks push for massive increase in military spending. US taxpayers to foot the bill?

Netanyahu: Israeli Economy Saved by Deficit Spending on War

Hawks Push for Massive Increases in Military Spending

by Jason Ditz, September 14, 2014 http://news.antiwar.com

The Israeli military has a lot of foreign aid behind it, but its ambitions often far exceed what they can actually afford, which means Israel is often deficit spending on the military, as they did during the recent Gaza war.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid, whose job it is to balance the books, warned they can’t afford such spending and need to dial back of their deficit spending and agree to only a smaller increase It fueled a quick backlash from hawks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted military spending needs to be increased by “many billions” annually, and claimed that deficit spending on wars was saving the Israeli economyby keeping foreign capital from leaving.

Tesla prevails in top Massachusetts court over direct sales

A Tesla S electric car and a charging station are displayed during the press preview day of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan in this January 14, 2014 file photo.  REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

A Tesla S electric car and a charging station are displayed during the press preview day of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan in this January 14, 2014 file photo.

CREDIT: REUTERS/REBECCA COOK

(Reuters) – Massachusetts’ highest court on Monday threw out a lawsuit seeking to block Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O) from selling its luxury electric cars directly to consumers in the state, enabling it to bypass traditional dealerships.

Americans Trust the Government Less and Less

Americans trust their government less and less, according to new polling from Gallup.

Overall, “trust in the three branches of the federal government is collectively lower than at any point in the last two decades,” with those who place a fair amount or great deal of trust in Congress down to 28 percent. At 43 percent, trust in the executive branch has dropped to its lowest point since Watergate. Only the court system fares relatively well, with 61 percent saying they trust the judicial branch.

Overall, trust has been dropping for years. Yes, there have been a handful of spikes—around September 11th, the war in Iraq, and the election of Barack Obama. But each of those hopeful moments was followed by a rapid slide. Here’s Gallup’s graph: 

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