June 23, 2013

Late Night Wonder: ‘Big Brother’

Item (on top of NSA, DOJ’s snooping on AP and Fox, IRS Tea Party targeting):

Obama’s crackdown views leaks as aiding enemies of U.S.

Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.

President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.

Government documents reviewed by McClatchy illustrate how some agencies are using that latitude to pursue unauthorized disclosures of any information, not just classified material. They also show how millions of federal employees and contractors must watch for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers and could face penalties, including criminal charges, for failing to report them. Leaks to the media are equated with espionage.

“It was just a matter of time before the Department of Agriculture or the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) started implementing, ‘Hey, let’s get people to snitch on their friends.’ The only thing they haven’t done here is reward it,” said Kel McClanahan, a Washington lawyer who specializes in national security law. “I’m waiting for the time when you turn in a friend and you get a $50 reward.”

Which leads to another Stevie Wonder song (“Big Brother“) chock full of irony:

It’s Stevie’s guy Barack Obama (with plenty of help) who is causing his — and our — own country to fall.

Brazil: Another Socialist Failure

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:28 pm

A Friday Investor’s Business Daily editorial tells readers what the U.S. establishment press won’t about why millions of fed-up Brazilians — “composed largely of students and the middle class” — are in the streets:

Brazil’s Woes Are The Wages Of Socialism

Brazil’s rulers have been taken aback by the millions of countrymen surging up against them, venting their fury. What we have here is a fresh example of why socialism fails.

Up until now, a million Brazilians in the streets usually had something to do with a soccer match or, perhaps, a samba festival.

This time, it wasn’t about festivities.

Brazil’s rulers have been widely praised by everyone from Bill Clinton to Hugo Chavez for their handouts to the poor, in the name of “social justice.” But they have done very little to create opportunity to enable poor people to get off handouts and earn a living.

What’s more, they’ve forced others to pay for it and live with its bad effects, leaving all sides pretty angry.

“The policy of … (former President Lula da Silva and current President Dilma Rousseff, both of the Workers Party, or “PT”) … focused on income transfer through social programs, but did not include the middle class, so they have taken to the streets,” e-mailed Henrique Sartori, a free-market professor at the Universidade Federal de Grande Dourados in Dourados, Brazil. “All of this is happening as economic policy does not cover most Brazilians, while inflation returns, and high taxes and state intervention in the economy increase.”

Brazil’s rulers have adopted the poor as their constituency, but have bought off big business and public employees too — creating a web of powerful interests who benefit from its rule. Those on the outside pay for it all.

… just like Spartan aristocrats more than 2,000 years ago, Brazil’s rulers now watch, dumbfounded, as the helots revolt.

The Tea Party parallels are pretty obvious, though Brazil’s protestors are nowhere near as consistently civil.

It turns out that the so-called “Brazilian miracle” has largely been a statist mirage. The corruption has become too thorough, and they’ve run out of money to steal from the productive. That also sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (062313)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

Positivity: Vatican theologians approve second miracle of John Paul II

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City:

Jun 19, 2013 / 12:19 pm

Theologians at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints have approved a second miracle granted through the intercession of Blessed John Paul II, moving him closer to being declared a saint.

“The proclamation of his sainthood needs only the approval of the commission of cardinals and bishops and the final signature of Pope Francis,” Italian news agency ANSA reported June 18.

Before Blessed John Paul II can be canonized, the Congregation must formally approve the miracle and present it to Pope Francis. Pope Francis would then promulgate and celebrate the canonization.

The miracle was reportedly approved by two doctors in April as having been a cure that cannot be explained in natural terms.

On April 2, Monsignor Slawomir Oder, postulator of the late pontiff’s cause for canonization, told CNA that as a second miracle was sought, “I chose a few cases and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints chose one of those, which they are currently evaluating.”

The Congregation for the Causes of the Saints studies each case rigorously, to determine that no scientific explanation for the miracle is possible and that there is a direct relation to the intercession of the possible saint in question.

Msgr. Oder had told Italian daily Avvenire that alleged miracles worked through Blessed John Paul II’s intercession had taken place in Poland, Italy, Spain, the United States, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. …

Go here for the rest of the story.