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Comment Re:This is my shocked face (Score 2) 272

The Chinese also had a plan to deorbit over the ocean, loss of control has screwed that plan. As for Skylab, as an older Aussie I remember it quite well, it was a huge news story here, NASA were not confident they knew where it would land (even with full control), Melbourne and Perth were real possibilities but they were hoping for the ocean. At the end of the day it landed closer to Perth than the ocean.

Comment Re:Just track the funding for color revolutions (Score 2) 39

The Arab spring is really,really, simple to understand when you strip away the politics and religion, it was a direct result of millions of empty stomachs. The worst drought ever recorded in the 10K years humans have been farming the fertile crescent caused 2 million Syrian farmers to surrender their land to the dustbowl and move into the already overcrowded cities seeking work. That was 2009-2011, severe drought had also occurred in Russia and Oz cutting their harvest in half for several years (2005-2009), 2010-11 grain prices skyrocketed in the ME and NA. There was a series of food riots in major cities such as Cairo and Aleppo in the lead up to the uprisings. The guy who very publicly self immolated in Libya in 2011 was credited with "sparking" the uprising, he was not demanding democracy, he was one of millions demanding bread for his family.

Comment Former CIA Officer: President Obama Should Pardon (Score 5, Interesting) 278

Former CIA Officer: President Obama Should Pardon Edward Snowden

Barry Eisler spent three years in a covert position in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations and is the author of 12 novels, including The Detachment
                       

                        He let Americans evaluate omniscient domestic surveillance for themselves
                       

                               

This week, Edward Snowden, multiple human rights and civil rights groups, and a broad array of American citizens asked President Obama to exercise his Constitutional power to pardon Snowden. As a former CIA officer, I wholeheartedly support a full presidential pardon for this brave whistleblower.

All nations require some secrecy. But in a democracy, where the government is accountable to the people, transparency should be the default; secrecy, the exception. And this is especially true regarding the implementation of an unprecedented system of domestic bulk surveillance, a mere precursor of which Senator Frank Church warned 40 years ago could lead to the eradication of privacy and the imposition of “total tyranny.”

That today we are engaged in a meaningful debate about whether such a system is desirable is almost entirely due to the conscience, courage and conviction of one man: Edward Snowden. Without Snowden, the American people could not balance for themselves the risks, costs and benefits of omniscient domestic surveillance. Because of him, we can.

For this service, the government has charged Snowden under the World War I-era Espionage Act. Yet Snowden did not sell information secretly to any enemy of America. Instead, he shared it openly through the press with the American people.

For this service, Snowden has been accused of having “blood on his hands“—the same evidence-free cliché trotted out every time a whistleblower reveals corruption, criminality or anything else the government would prefer to hide. That this charge is being aired by the very people responsible for wars that have led to thousands of dead American servicemen and servicewomen; hundreds of thousands burned, blinded, brain-damaged, crippled, maimed and traumatized; and hundreds of thousands of innocent foreigners killed, is more than ironic. It’s also a form of psychological projection, or propaganda, intended to distract from where true responsibility for bloodshed lies.

And for this service, the usual suspects have claimed Snowden has caused “grave damage to national security.” As always, the charge is backed by nothing but air, and ignores—in fact, is intended to distract from—the real damage caused by metastasizing governmental secrecy. This includes not only disastrous government mistakes and cover-ups (see the Bay of Pigs, the “missile gap,” the Gulf of Tonkin, Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, etc.), but also the ongoing strangulation of democracy itself. The nation is not made more secure, but is instead more fragile, when the government knows more and more about the people and the people know less and less about the government.

Even well-meaning media personalities fret over questions like: “But what would happen if every top-secret cleared intelligence employee decided what secret information to unilaterally declassify?” In fact, whistleblowing is extraordinarily rare, in part because of the draconian penalties the government metes out to punish it. What’s rampant—and real—is over-classification. An insistence on discussing a fantasy hypothetical of radical transparency, when the world we actually live in is one of radical secrecy, seems a strange way to frame a debate.

If leaks really are so terrible that the government conflates them with espionage (and even with terrorism), why isn’t the government prosecuting the thousands of leaks that insiders dole out to favored reporters every day? It’s almost as though leaking isn’t really the problem, but rather the nature of leaks—with leaks that assist favored government narratives encouraged, and ones that challenge those narratives prosecuted.

It’s important to understand that Snowden violated no “oath” of secrecy—because there is no such oath. The only oath is the oath to defend the Constitution. With regard to secrecy, there is only an NDA. So anyone who suggests that Snowden violated an “oath” of secrecy is either ignorant or lying. Faced with a choice between an oath on the one hand, and an NDA on the other, Snowden chose the oath—the real oath, the only oath—and alerted the American people to what the government was concealing from us.

In other words, Snowden followed his conscience. Authoritarians might condemn such a choice. Americans should celebrate it. After all, in his seminal essay “Civil Disobedience,” Henry David Thoreau wrote, “It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.” And indeed, if people were intended to only and always obey the law, why would we have been given the power—and burden—of conscience? Similarly, if the president were intended always to hew to the law even at the expense of justice, why would the founders have vested the office of the president with the power of pardon?

Without question, history will vindicate Edward Snowden as it has Daniel Ellsberg. President Obama has a chance to be on the right side of that history. In doing so, he would do his legacy, and his country, a great service.

Comment Re:Well... (Score 1) 6

The trouble with long-term use of them is tolerance. The longer you take them, the less effective they are. That's why so many overdose right after rehab; they used the same amount of drug as before, and that dose which would barely give them a buzz is now fatal. Lately, research is showing that long term, their use is counterproductive.

The reason why "the left" is telling doctors to stop prescribing them is because the Oxycontin junkies have become heroin addicts. Why not just prescribe heroin in the first place? Oh, yeah, fewer profits for big pharma.

I do have friends with chronic conditions taking these medications and I worry about them. I have arthritis, and have had since I was a teenager. When I was stationed in Delaware the pain was so bad I had to literally crawl out of bed (worst possible weather for arthritis there) and spent a LOT of time in sick call. Odd, they never prescribed that junk back then.

It isn't about alleviating people's pain, it's about filling pockets and purses with more gold from the infirm and it's disgusting.

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