The Day We Fight Back against mass surveillance is today!
Thanks to Edward Snowden we have learned about America’s and other countries illegitimate and immoral mass surveillance operations. More revelations about the extent of the surveillance programs are sure to come. Just in the past couple of days it was revealed that the NSA operates a kill list based on SIM cards in cell phones regardless of who actually uses the phone.
The argument that we shouldn’t care about the surveillance because they only look at metadata is bunk. SIM cards are an example of the metadata the NSA (et. al) care about and it has led to too many civilian deaths from drone strikes.
People like myself find this type of surveillance to be rather problematic and insanely dangerous. If you’re in Canada be sure to tell your local MP that you are opposed to the spying done by Canada’s NSA: CSEC.
More than 5,300 web-based companies and other organizations, including Reddit, Imgur, Tumblr, Mozilla the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, have joined forces to protest National Security Agency surveillance on Feb. 11.
More at the Huffington Post.
Cars are horrible for the environment and car infrastructure can have very negative impact on local economies so it’s nice to see enthusiasm for driving diminishing in younger generations. American teens are less likely to have a license and less likely to want to own a car than previous generations.
Does this mean the end of car culture in the States? Maybe, but for now all we do know is that their lower driving rates are already having an impact on energy policy in the states.
Growth in “vehicle-miles traveled” (VMT)—that key gauge of America’s love affair with the automobile that once reliably ratcheted up year after year—will slow dramatically, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says in its new Annual Energy Outlook. The EIA slashed its projected annual VMT growth rate to 0.9 percent, a drop of 25 percent compared to its forecast only a year ago.
The change is partly due to slower population growth, but also because of a generational shift confirmed by at least four studies in the past year. In the United States, young people are not only driving less than teens did a generation ago, they aren’t even getting licenses.
Put that demographic trend together with the dramatic increase in fuel economy expected in the years ahead, and U.S. energy consumption to fuel cars is expected to drop one-quarter to 12.1 quadrillion Btu by 2040.
Read more at Nat Geo.
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps are known for their cleaning power, but are increasingly getting known for their political power. The CEO of the company is a good example of a leader that practices what he believes – and leverages the company to ensure his thoughts are shared. In one example, David Bronner, has capped all executive pay at his company to be five times the lowest paid employee.
He’s in getting news right now for his support of labelling genetically modified organisms sold in stores. In the past, he also took the government to court over their insane anti-hemp laws. One interesting fellow and company!
Limiting executive pay and spending virtually nothing on advertising left a lot of extra cash for improving the products and funding social campaigns—which have often gone hand-in-hand. For years, the soap had included an undisclosed ingredient, caramel coloring. As the new CEO, Bronner wanted to remove it for the sake of purity, but feared that die-hard customers would assume the new guy was watering down the product. So he decided to incorporate hemp oil, which added a caramel color while also achieving a smoother lather. But there was a hitch: A few months after he’d acquired a huge stockpile of Canadian hemp oil, the Bush administration outlawed most hemp products. “Technically, we were sitting on tens of thousands of pounds of Schedule I narcotics,” Bronner recalls.
Rather than destroy the inventory, he sued the Drug Enforcement Agency to change its stance on hemp, which comes from a nonpsychoactive strain of cannabis. Adam Eidinger, who now heads the company’s activism efforts in Washington, DC, served DEA agents at agency HQ bagels covered with poppy seeds (which, in theory, could be used to make heroin) and orange juice (which naturally contains trace amounts of alcohol). In 2004, a federal court handed Bronner a victory, striking down the ban and allowing him to keep his stores of hemp oil.
Read more at Mother Jones.
The band YACHT has gone back to the glory days of Dylan and the like by writing a protest song. The song is about the NSA illegal spying the USA, which should bother pretty much anyone who cares about privacy. Until now, there was no good news to mention about the questionable actions revealed by Edward Snowden so hat tip to YACHT for singing what we all think.
“We claim full citizenship in the nation of Internet,” Evans told me over email, by way of explanation. “We wouldn’t be where we are if it weren’t for the existence of an open, free, and direct line to our fans–and to the world.” The idea that an intelligence agency could be listening-in struck Evans and Bechtolt as, well, creepy. “The analogy we’ve been using is that nobody wants to dance when there’s cops in the club,” says Evans.
The song came first, but soon after came the idea of putting it to work. The song became a pay-what-you-wish fundraising website for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the best-known advocacy groups pushing to keep the Internet free. Evans says the donations have rolled in “steadily” since the site launched, with the largest single donation coming in at $30.
Read more here.
As always, check out our the band of the month if you like music.
Climate change is happening and it’s costing a lot of money to deal with. More floods, tornados, hurricanes, and other natural events are happening with greater frequency thanks to planetary temperature increase. The reason the planet’s temperature is increasing is thanks to the way previous generations have dealt with waste.
One such waste product comes in the form of exhaust from cars and other air pollution from various sources. This much is obvious, but very few countries have acted on this issue (in fact, Canada has gone out it’s way to stop action). In the USA, the Obama administration has quietly passed a new law that raises the cost of releasing pollutants into the air in the hopes it will help slow more climate change.
Buried in a little-noticed rule on microwave ovens is a change in the U.S. government’s accounting for carbon emissions that could have wide-ranging implications for everything from power plants to the Keystone XL pipeline.
The increase of the so-called social cost of carbon, to $38 a metric ton in 2015 from $23.80, adjusts the calculation the government uses to weigh costs and benefits of proposed regulations. The figure is meant to approximate losses from global warming such as flood damage and diminished crops.
Read more at Bloomberg.