Is Privacy Dead? 4 Government and Private Entities Conspiring to Track Everything You Do Online and Off

A while back a sister contacted me and requested I remove some comments she had left on this blog back when I first started it. She was going stealth and didn’t want Google popping her name up as appearing on a site with Transsexual in its title.

No problem I did a search on her name and deleted all her comments.

Over the weekend she contacted me again and said that Google was still showing her name linked to that post, would I change or delete the post.

I refused.

Why? Because it would change nothing with Google.  Google is one big tracking machine.  I wish I could exert more influence over it, if I could I’d start pulling in 10,000 hits per day and start running ads.

But as it is, having both Women and Transsexual in the title was sort of a bit of serendipity that puts this blog fairly high in priority on searches that combine both words.

On the other hand this woman believes that simply blasting her presence from TS/TG sites will keep employers from discovering her past.

Even those transkids whose parents are supporting their transition in early childhood have a past.

Birth Certificates, Social Security numbers, school records.

If you transition in adulthood the credit card companies and all the data vacuums will never ever forget you.  My partner is over 14 years post-op, has changed addresses several times as well as all her papers.

She still gets credit card and other offers in her old name.

There is no privacy in a Total Information Awareness society.

This person said she wasn concerned about a CIA level investigation, but I’m not talking about that, either.

I’m talking about your basic hundred dollar background check they give for anyone being offered any sort of management position.

During this economic down turn negative credit reports have become grounds for turning down job applicants.

All this really sucks.

It also sucks to be afraid you will be turned down for a job because of being TS/TG.

This is reason to support an inclusive ENDA.

From Alternet

The police-corporate surveillance “complex” is being consolidated, drawing ever-closer corporate tracking and government surveillance.

By David Rosen
September 10, 2012

Americans’ personal privacy is being crushed by the rise of a four-headed corporate-state surveillance system.  The four “heads” are: federal government agencies; state and local law enforcement entities; telecoms, web sites & Internet “apps” companies; and private data aggregators (sometimes referred to as commercial data warehouses).

Conventional analysis treats these four domains of data gathering as separate and distinct; government agencies focus on security issues and corporate entities are concerned with commerce. Some overlap can be expected as, for example, in case of a terrorist attack or an online banking fraud.  In both cases, an actual crime occurred.

But what happens when the boundary separating or restricting corporate-state collaboration, e.g., an exceptional crime-fighting incident, erodes and becomes the taken-for-granted operating environment, the new normal?  Perhaps most troubling, what happens when the traditional safeguards offered by “watchdog” courts or regulatory organizations no longer seem to matter?  What does it say that the entities designed to protect personal privacy rights seem to have either been effectively “captured” or become toothless tigers?

In President Eisenhower’s legendary 1960 farewell address, he warned of the potential power of the military-industrial complex.  Ike’s 20th century formulation represented the intertwining of the U.S. military and private contractors to achieve two complementary goals.  First, it sought to help corporations make guaranteed, cost-plus profits and to provide glide-path retirement programs for the military brass.  Second, it sought to influence Congress and thus shape foreign policy, helping fulfill the then just-emerging global imperialist strategy.

Today’s corporate-state surveillance complex demonstrates a comparable intertwining of U.S. policing forces and private companies in the monitoring of domestic life.  It is being implemented thanks to the technology fruits of a half-century of the military-industrial complex.  The Defense Department created the Internet and what it can do in Yemen it can do in Oakland. The global war on terrorism is coming home!

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First Transgender Woman Legally Recognized in Vietnam

From The Advocate:

BY Editors
September 09 2012

Pham Le Quynh Tram has become the first transgender woman to be legally recognized by Vietnamese authorities as a woman, according to website Vietnamnet.

A decision granted by the administration of her town in the Binh Phuoc province allows Pham Van Hiep (her birth name) to redefine her sex from male to female and to legally change her name to Pham Le Quynh Tram.

“I can’t believe that this is true,” Tram says, who had reassignment surgery in 2008. “I cannot describe my happiness of living with my true sex.”

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Mother of transgender child shares her family’s journey

From LGBTQ Nation:

By Kergan Edwards-Stout
Sunday, September 9, 2012

While audiences nationwide became acquainted with Sarah Tyler and her family following their appearance last year on Anderson Cooper’s talk show, I got to know them in a completely different manner: at church.

Living in conservative Orange County, Calif., and being gay men with children, it was important that my partner and I find a church family where every single person is welcome, which we found at Church of the Foothills.

One of our pivotal moments as a congregation occurred when we learned that Danann Tyler would be transitioning from boy to girl, which prompted me to bring in a speaking panel from the Orange County Transgender Coalition to help educate our members.

As would be expected, having a child undergo such a transition caused numerous issues within the Tyler family, at school, in their community, and at work. Sarah Tyler graciously took time to share with me the journey her family has traveled, including not only the many challenges they’ve faced, but also the joyful child the transition from male to female eventually revealed.

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Minority Voters To Be Intimidated By Polling Place Vigilantes, Report Warns

From Huffington Post:


WASHINGTON — Concerned that a veritable army of Tea Partyers will descend on polling places in minority neighborhoods to challenge and intimidate voters on Election Day, two public interest groups on Monday called for government officials to take extra steps to protect voters’ rights.

A new report from Common Cause and Demos, titled “Bullies at the Ballot Box,” describes efforts by right-wing groups — foremost among them, a Tea Party spin-off group called True the Vote — to train as many as a million volunteers in “poll-watching.”

“I think we have seen a much more coordinated and well-funded effort than we’ve seen in years past, and that’s why it’s so concerning,” said Jenny Flanagan, director of voting and elections at Common Cause and one of the report’s authors.

“The message behind their tactic I think is what’s most concerning to us,” she said, because the groups appear to be “targeting racial minorities and others who have a past of being targeted.”

The report notes that True the Vote official Bill Ouren has told volunteers they should make voters feel “like driving and seeing the police following you.” And the president of True the Vote coalition partner Judicial Watch has accused the Obama administration of trying to mobilize “the food stamp army” and “steal the election” with the “illegal alien vote.”

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GOP Rep. Appears on White Nationalist Radio Show

From Mother Jones:

By Mon Sep. 10, 2012

A North Carolina Republican congressman appeared on a notorious white nationalist radio program on Saturday to talk up legislation he coauthored accusing President Barack Obama of committing impeachable offenses. Rep. Walter Jones, a fiercely anti-war congressman who often breaks with his party on key votes, appeared on the Political Cesspool, a Memphis-based program hosted by ardent white nationalists James Edwards and Eddie Miller. The show has been condemned by groups like the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center for promoting racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic beliefs. Jones is the first member of Congress to appear on the program.

An avowed white nationalist who says David Duke is “above reproach,” Edwards has referred to African Americans as “heathen savages” and “subhuman” and suggested that slavery was “the greatest thing that ever happened” to blacks. The show’s mission statement is blunt: “We represent a philosophy that is pro-White and are against political centralization,” it declares. It then outlines a series of issues the show exists to promote. “We wish to revive the White birthrate above replacement level fertility and beyond to grow the percentage of Whites in the world relative to other races,” reads one plank. Another bullet point endorses the Confederacy: “Secession is a right of all people and individuals. It was successful in 1776 and this show honors those who tried to make it successful in 1865.”

Edwards’ rhetoric has caught the attention of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which argues that he has “probably done more than any of his contemporaries on the American radical right to publicly promote neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers, raging anti-Semites and other extremists.” As the SPLC notes:

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Pat Robertson: Since ‘We Don’t Condone Wife-Beating These Days’ Husband Should ‘Move to Saudi Arabia’ to Beat Her

From Right Wing Watch:

by Brian Tashman
on Mon, 09/10/2012

Mitt Romney this weekend stumped alongside televangelist Pat Robertson, not minding Robertson’s legacy of incendiary, insensitive, heartless and apocalyptic rhetoric that has gotten him in trouble in the past. Apparently, Robertson’s own CBN has become aware of Robertson’s problematic statements, and may even be editing his controversial claims out of episode archives.

For example, today on the 700 Club’s “Bring It On” segment where viewers ask Robertson questions, one man wondered how he should go about repairing his marriage with a wife who “insults” him and once tried to attack him.

“Well, you could become a Muslim and you could beat her,” Robertson responded. “This man’s got to stand up to her and he can’t let her get away with this stuff,” Robertson continued, “I don’t think we condone wife-beating these days but something has got to be done.”

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Why Does Sandra Fluke Drive Conservatives Bananas?

From RH Reality Check:

by Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check
September 9, 2012

Let me tell you a story….

There once was a time when women knew their place. Back in those halcyon days, young women accepted that sex was a dirty thing they should go out of their way to avoid, lest the taint of it made them unmarriageable. Girls married young and dreamed of staying at home with children, far away from the dirty worlds of men and power. Of course, slipping up did happen, and girls got pregnant outisde of wedlock but since there was no birth control or abortion, those girls had to get married straightaway, so either way, women ended up where they belonged, in the home, while men went out and did all that working.

Then the birth control pill was invented and abortion was legalized. All of a sudden, women started screwing who they liked without any consequences. They didn’t get married young anymore, instead choosing to do things like have careers and demand power. This meant the end of cherished gender roles, which in turn meant gay marriage, men losing their rightful place as leaders of nuclear families, single motherhood, and anarchy in the streets. Clearly, women’s abortion rights need to be taken away and access to contraception curtailed, and then perhaps we can return to the bliss of “Leave It To Beaver.”

This is a story is one we all know, and it is the singular fable that drives the anti-choice movement. It is a story that is actually not true, of course. In the reality, many mothers worked outside of the home, premarital sex was surprisingly common, men abandoned women they got pregnant routinely, and abortion was common even as it was illegal. And yet this fantasy lives on, a fantasy of returning America—at least middle-class America—to a strong patriarchy where women’s talents and ambitions are all aimed at supporting men and where sex is irrevocably tied to procreation. It’s the fantasy that motivates the anti-choice movement. It’s the fantasy that leads to abortion restrictions, the building of Crisis Pregnancy Centers, the shooting of abortion doctors, usually by men who will never be Ward Cleaver and have grown bitter.

But admitting this out loud is difficult for conservatives, because stripping women’s human rights to create a patriarchal fantasy world flies directly into the face of their claims to be about “liberty.” Instead, a thicket of lies has grown up to rationalize their preferred policy options: Claims about concern for fetal life, concerns that mysteriously never extend to actual children. Claims about concerns for women’s mental health, even though science has refuted any connection between abortion and poor mental health outcomes; instead the notion that abortion hurts it is rooted in the belief that women’s purpose is birthing, and that deviations from it mean women are somehow broken. Claims that abstinence-only programs are about health, when they are clearly about promoting a paranoid view of sex as inherently dirty and sinful. Claims now that denying women insurance coverage of contraception is a matter of “religious liberty,” even though docking a woman’s benefits because she disagrees on matters of dogma with her employer is a pretty straightforward assault on that woman’s religious liberty.

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Millions of GoDaddy sites go offline

I wouldn’t register my site through Go Daddy if those misogynistic dick wads offered to pay me for the honor of my business.

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Overfishing pushes tuna stocks to the brink: experts

From Raw Story:

By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, September 8, 2012

Global tuna stocks are fast reaching the limits of fishing sustainability, decimated by an absence of comprehensive, science-based catch limits, conservation experts warned Saturday.

Five of the world’s eight tuna species are already classified as threatened or nearly threatened with extinction, according to the Red List of Threatened Species compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

At the IUCN’s World Conservation Congress currently underway in South Korea’s southern Jeju Island, experts said partial quotas currently in place were inadequate and uninformed.

“The problem is, there is lack of science-based catch limits to ensure effective management and conservation,” said Amanda Nickson, Director of Global Tuna Conservation at the Pew Environment Group.

The five Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) that manage the global tuna fishing industry do have some measures in place, including restricting the catch of certain species to the amount caught in a previously defined year.

They also operate “input controls” that, among other things, limit the number of fishing vessels, but Nickson argued these were ineffective as they simply provided an incentive to develop more effective fishing methods.

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The man without a plan: Romney has no real food and farming platform

From Grist:

By Tom Laskawy
10 Sep 2012

The election is creeping up on us fast. And while many indicators, from Intrade markets to various academic models to New York Times statistics and public survey expert Nate Silver, seem to predict an Obama victory, there is the possibility (many liberal commentators might say “a probability”) that America could elect Mitt Romney.

In preparation, then, it’s not a bad idea to take stock of what we know about Romney’s food and agriculture policy. Dan Flynn at Food Safety News has already taken to predicting who would staff the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under Romney (Hint: It’s all former GOP USDA officials and businessmen). The list was purely speculative, with names mostly drawn from members of Romney’s current agricultural advisory team. And while there’s no hard information out there to tell us who Romney might select to head the agencies that oversee food and agriculture policy, it’s worth attempting a review of his policy positions.

Of course, we’re talking about Mitt Romney here. The man is running a campaign that’s light on policy and light on facts. While his food and ag platform is not quite the blank page that his climate change policy is, there’s precious little to be found. There’s no rural policy or agricultural policy section on his campaign website. Scouring his website for references to agriculture brings up a “coalition page” called “Farmers and Ranchers for Romney.” The top post in this section is entitled “An Energy Blueprint for America” — and it doesn’t even mention ethanol! Nor will you find a mention of … food.

The campaign’s immigration page makes a nod toward easing the visa process for seasonal workers, but there’s no discussion of comprehensive reform — something that the agricultural sector wants. Romney is in a bit of a bind, of course, because Republican governors in several states have passed draconian immigration laws that have hurt farmers’ ability to find workers to harvest their crops.

And that’s pretty much it.

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Climate Change Wreaks Havoc on US Power Plants

From Common Dreams:

Less water, more heat putting enormous strain on aging energy infrastructure

Common Dreams staff
Published on Monday, September 10, 2012 by Common Dreams

The warmest summer on record in the US, along with increased demand and diminished water supplies have put intense and unexpected pressure on the nation’s power plants, according to new reporting by the Washington Post.

Citing climate change and its impact, scientists and experts interviewed by the Post say that the country’s energy infrastructure — including large hyrdoelectric dams and nuclear power plants — is in danger. Designed for a cooler and more predictable climate, but now faced with more frequent extreme weather events, the aging energy system is strained by growing demand and diminished resources.

“We’re trying to manage a changing climate, its impact on water supplies and our ability to generate power, all at once,” Michael L. Connor, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, the Interior Department’s water management agency, told the Post.

And nuclear power plants have already felt the strain. As Juliet Eilperin reports:

Warmer and drier summers mean there is less water available to cool nuclear and fossil-fuel plants. The Millstone nuclear power plant in Waterford, Conn., had to shut down one of its reactors in mid-August because the water it drew from the Long Island Sound was too warm to cool critical equipment outside the core. A twin-unit nuclear plant in Braidwood, Ill., needed to get special permission to continue operating this summer because the temperature in its cooling water pond rose to 102 degrees, four degrees above its normal limit; another Midwestern plant stopped operating temporarily because its water intake pipes ended up on dry ground because of the prolonged drought.

Scott Burnell, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said the safety of America’s nuclear plants “is not in jeopardy” because the sources of water cooling the core are self-contained and might have to shut down in some instances if water is either too warm or unavailable.

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