Entrepreneur, Law & Policy Analyst helping clients w/ strategic planning, communications interoperability, Software Developer, Scotch Enthusiast.
2519 stories
·
11 followers

The 5G Frontier: Millimeter Wireless

1 Share


Almost limitless bandwidth beckons—if we can tame a wild region of the spectrum
Read the whole story
christophersw
1 day ago
reply
Baltimore, MD
Share this story
Delete

White House Bars Times and 2 Other News Outlets From Briefing

2 Shares
Reporters from The Times, CNN and Politico were not allowed to enter the office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, in an unusual breach of protocol.

Read the whole story
christophersw
1 day ago
reply
Baltimore, MD
Share this story
Delete

[Ilya Somin] Staying true to principle in the age of Trump

1 Share

Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens, a prominent conservative opponent of Trump recently noted that he is now more popular on the left than in the past, but despised by many of his former fans on the right:

Watching this process unfold has been particularly painful for me as a conservative columnist. I find myself in the awkward position of having recently become popular among some of my liberal peers—precisely because I haven’t changed my opinions about anything.

By contrast, I’ve become suddenly unpopular among some of my former fans on the right—again, because I’ve stuck to my views. It is almost amusing to be accused of suffering from something called “Trump Derangement Syndrome” simply because I feel an obligation to raise my voice against, say, the president suggesting a moral equivalency between the U.S. and Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

The most painful aspect of this has been to watch people I previously considered thoughtful and principled conservatives give themselves over to a species of illiberal politics from which I once thought they were immune.

As a libertarian strongly opposed to Trump’s agenda, I have had a similar experience. I too find myself more popular on the left, and less so on the right. Liberal academics and intellectuals occasionally even praise me for my “courage” in opposing Trump (even though I don’t think it actually requires much courage to do so when you are a tenured professor with no aspirations to serve in government). On the other hand, I occasionally get hostile e-mails and Tweets from conservatives accusing me of selling out to the left, or – in one amusing case – of being “a liberal law professor who spreads liberal lies about Trump.”

Because I am far from the only libertarian opposed to Trump and libertarians generally have strong reason to be suspicious of Trumpist nationalism, I don’t think I have lost much support in that community. But I clearly have among more conventional conservative Republicans.

All this, despite the fact that my positions on the major issues I write about are the same as they were before 2016. The same views on immigration, free trade, civil liberties, federalism, religious freedom, and the evils of Vladimir Putin’s aggression, that led me to oppose much of Barack Obama’s agenda, are also the ones that lead me to oppose Trump.

For example, I oppose Trump’s cruel order banning refugees from seven Muslim nations for many the same reasons as I previously attacked Obama’s cruel policy reversal on Cuban refugees. Similarly, my commitment to constitutional federalism and strong judicial enforcement of limits on federal power led me to oppose both the Obamacare individual health insurance mandate and Trump’s executive order targeting sanctuary cities. The experience of the last year did lead me to change my views on a few issues. But these shifts are not what has stimulated either my new fans’ praise or my new critics’ ire.

People like Stephens stand out because they have put principles ahead of partisan bias. Even before the rise of Trump, growing partisan bias and hatred of the opposition led many people to excuse behavior by their own party’s leaders that they would never tolerate from the opposing party. Many conservative Republicans are falling prey to such bias under Trump. But numerous liberal Democrats did the same under Obama, as when they tolerated or even supported his starting two wars without congressional authorization.

It is to some extent understandable if politicians trim their sails to whichever direction their party’s wind blows. After all, they want to stay in power and are afraid of being ostracized within their party. But intellectuals, activists, and ordinary voters often behave in much the same way, even though most have far less to fear in the way of tangible personal costs. Being a loyal member of Team Red or Team Blue is such an important part of many people’s identity that it often takes precedence over other, supposedly more fundamental principles.

Unlike Stephens, who is a longtime Republican, I can’t claim any special virtue in resisting this tendency. Because I was never a committed partisan in the first place, it isn’t psychologically difficult for me to oppose either the GOP or the Democrats on the many occasions when they do things that run counter to the principles I espouse. Things are much tougher for the many people who (often for understandable reasons) do see themselves as loyal Democrats or Republicans, or at least have a deep hostility to whichever party they oppose. In the latter case, “partyism” can lead them to avoid criticizing their own party, lest it give ammunition to the opposing one (which, by assumption, is much worse).

The good news is that we don’t have to behave this way. Even politicians sometimes rise above partisanship. For example, libertarian Republican Rep. Justin Amash stands out as a principled opponent of Trump, and Democratic Senator Tim Kaine was highly critical of the unconstitutional wars initiated by Obama.

Those of us who aren’t politicians have even less excuse for indulging partisan bias. Before reflexively following the party leader wherever he wants to go, we should ask whether his course really is consistent with the principles we espouse. And before condemning dissenters from the party line as sellouts, we should consider the possibility that they are actually the ones staying true to their principles.

I am not optimistic that we will overcome the dangers of partisan bias anytime soon. Far from it. Even if we do, there are a lot of other ways in which voters and intellectuals’ political views are influenced by ignorance and illogic. But the beginning of wisdom is to at least recognize that we have a problem, and try to reduce it.

Read the whole story
christophersw
4 days ago
reply
Baltimore, MD
Share this story
Delete

Some History on Trade and Tariffs

1 Share

I tend to think that when someone says “This is how it should be” or “As it was, so it shall be” there’s a good chance that the claims are incorrect. Marc Levinson’s book, An Extraordinary Time, hits an area, where I have had that gut feeling that something isn’t correct, quite well. Can the US and the world reach the levels of growth that happened after WWII and ended around 1973? Short answer not likely. The book goes into the various technocrat approaches to fixing the economy, and then the book shows that none of those really hold up. A quote from Paul Samuelson sums up “The third quarter of the Twentieth Century was a golden age of economic progress. It surpassed any reasoned expectation. And we are not likely to see its equivalent anytime soon again.”

One specific area, the use of tariffs to protect American jobs, jumped out for me. After resisting pressure for tariffs on bolts, nuts, and screws (yes a major area it seems), in 1978 the Carter Administration caved and imposed a 15% tariff that lasted three years. US manufacturers raised their prices so that tariff protection cost was passed to consumers. One study estimated that limiting imports from Asia (the target of the tariff) cost $550,000 per job “saved” while the average job in that industry made $23,000 per year. And the tariff did not save the industry. By the mid 1980s sales of the US industry in that sector had lost about 15%.

When it came to autos, trade limits with Japan saved 44,100 US jobs. That is great. But one study says that the cost to consumers was $8.5 billion, because of higher prices “or $193,000 per additional job–approximately six times the annual pay of an American autoworker.” And Japanese automakers still sold their cars at the higher prices and so made “perhaps $7 billion in added profit” which was re-invested in building plants in the US and developing higher-end cars. That is they seem to have become more competitive.

I note these details, not because I am an avid free-trade person. I note them not because I think those who are displaced by the way society and industry change should be shoved aside or chewed up. I note them, because it seems to me that some of the core points about trade policy hold up, if we want lower consumer prices. Remember that part of being able to buy lower cost and super cool TVs, cars, etc. means our dollars are able to buy other things too. There are oceans of ink on the way trade and costs ought to spur overall good things. I leave that for others and other posts.

For this post, the core issue is what happens when large swaths of society, be they in the vast plains or the former industrial giants or in cities and suburbs, aren’t able to have jobs and so their place in society is unstable? Levinson’s book goes to the many times the US and other countries have tried to solve such riddles. The answers are not clear. But the book’s ability to show how looking to politicians and policy to save us has not worked as crisply as we may hope or believe is good tonic going forward. That is regardless of who is in power, look at the solution, look at whether it has been tried, see what happened, and ask whether there is a better way to address the problem; one that might give aid to those threatened and still tee up better businesses for the future.

Read the whole story
christophersw
4 days ago
reply
Baltimore, MD
Share this story
Delete

Europe Combats a New Foe of Political Stability: Fake News

1 Share
Emmanuel Macron, center, a French presidential candidate, in southern France on Friday. The head of his party said Mr. Macron had been targeted by Russian news channels.

Read the whole story
christophersw
4 days ago
reply
Baltimore, MD
Share this story
Delete

We Must Rein in President Trump’s Spying Powers

1 Comment and 2 Shares
Trump inherited surveillance powers used to spy on millions of Americans without a warrant — but some expire soon.

It’s been just over a month since Donald J. Trump assumed the enormous powers of the U.S. presidency, including the power to control the government’s far-reaching surveillance of Americans and others. As we’ve explained elsewhere, President Trump will wield extremely broad and unconstitutional surveillance powers, with the world’s most sophisticated technological tools at his disposal. Based on his past statements and conduct, we have every reason to be concerned that he will misuse this sprawling spying apparatus. 

One of these spying authorities — Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — is set to expire at the end of this year, and Congress has already begun holding hearings that highlight much-needed reforms. The government uses Section 702 to examine the full contents of Americans’ international emails, web-browsing, and phone calls — all without ever getting a warrant. This surveillance violates our core rights to privacy, freedom of expression, and freedom of association guaranteed by the First and Fourth Amendments.

Not only does Section 702 give the government access to sensitive online communications, but this surveillance also sweeps incredibly broadly, capturing vast quantities of Americans’ personal data. With the assistance of companies like Facebook, Google, AT&T, and Verizon, the government relies on Section 702 to carry out mass surveillance on U.S. soil, including both the “PRISM” and “Upstream” programs revealed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. While the ACLU has long objected to this large-scale, warrantless spying, with President Trump now at the helm of the surveillance state, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Congress must fundamentally reform this law.

To fight alongside us in demanding reform, here’s what you need to know about Section 702: 

Section 702 Permits the Government to “Target” Completely Innocent People

Section 702 permits the NSA, FBI, and CIA to spy on communications without a warrant when two primary conditions are met. First, the “target” of the surveillance must be a foreigner located abroad. And second, a significant purpose of the surveillance must be to gather “foreign intelligence information.”

Neither of these conditions imposes a meaningful constraint on the government’s ability to spy. Almost anyone abroad could be an eligible target. Indeed, Section 702 does not require the government to make any finding — let alone demonstrate probable cause to a judge — that its surveillance targets are agents of a foreign power, engaged in criminal activity, or even remotely associated with terrorism. (Instead, judges on a secret intelligence court approve only the general procedures that government analysts are supposed to follow.) In addition, the law defines the term “foreign intelligence” broadly — so broadly that the surveillance could readily include communications by journalists, human rights workers, whistleblowers, and virtually anyone else talking about foreign affairs. As a result, low-level NSA analysts have tremendous discretion in selecting whom to target.

In other words, under Section 702, the government may target people who are not suspected of any wrongdoing whatsoever. Given how few constraints apply, it’s hardly surprising that at last count the NSA was using this law to surveil almost 100,000 people, organizations, and groups. Americans who call or email with these thousands of targets — whether they are family members, friends, or colleagues — have their communications swept up too.

The Government Uses Section 702 to Conduct Bulk Searches of Our Online Communications

One other crucial feature of this surveillance was hidden from the public for years and goes far beyond what the statute permits: The government is using Section 702 to engage in bulk searches of Americans’ online communications.

Under the “Upstream” program revealed by Snowden, the government is searching the contents of international internet communications in real-time, looking for references to its many targets. (This is sometimes called “about” surveillance, because it involves combing through the full text of communications in search of those that are merely about a target.) With the compelled assistance of companies like AT&T and Verizon, the NSA has installed surveillance equipment at dozens of points along the internet “backbone,” the network of high-capacity cables, switches, and routers that carry your email, web browsing, and other internet communications. The NSA systematically copies and searches the contents of substantially all the international communications flowing past those surveillance devices.

This is precisely the kind of general search that the Fourth Amendment was intended to prohibit. While the government often claims this surveillance is “targeted,” it’s playing word games. The NSA effectively opens and reads international communications to and from everyone, in search of those that mention, for instance, a target’s email address or phone number. That’s essentially like opening every letter that passes through the mail in search of a particular name. There’s nothing “targeted” about a surveillance program that subjects millions of Americans to suspicionless government searches of their communications.

The Government Uses Section 702 to Investigate Americans

The government justifies warrantless Section 702 surveillance on the theory that this spying is directed at foreigners — but, once the information is collected, the government routinely trains its sights on Americans instead. The government stores hundreds of millions of communications collected under Section 702 in NSA, CIA, and FBI databases. Then, relying on what’s known as the “backdoor search” loophole, analysts use Americans’ names and other identifying information to retrieve and examine individuals’ private communications. The government employs this technique in ordinary criminal investigations and trials that are unrelated to national security, even though the communications were collected without a warrant. In short, the backdoor search loophole functions as an end-run around the Fourth Amendment.

In the coming year, Congress can and must remedy each of these profound problems with Section 702 spying. While the ACLU is currently challenging this surveillance in civil and criminal cases, we’re also fighting for reform in the legislative branch, and we’ll need your help. Sign up for ACLU action alerts today, so that you can easily contact your legislators as they consider how to rein in President Trump’s NSA. 

Read the whole story
kazriko
4 days ago
reply
I haven't heard a peep about these programs from the ACLU in, say, 8 years.
Colorado Plateau
skorgu
4 days ago
https://action.aclu.org/secure/repeal-the-surveillance-state2
skorgu
4 days ago
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/06/eff-and-aclu-ask-appeals-court-rule-use-nsas-warrantless-surveillance-criminal
skorgu
4 days ago
http://www.insidesources.com/federal-court-dismisses-aclu-wikipedia-case-against-nsas-upstream-surveillance/
skorgu
4 days ago
Of course, if you're saying we should all give the ACLU more money so they can get better publicity, that's another story :D
kazriko
4 days ago
Or perhaps, we should get on the media to actually do its job and pay attention to the ACLU even when their guy is in charge.
christophersw
4 days ago
reply
Baltimore, MD
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories