Friday Night Fun and Culture: Willie’s Infamous Fourth of July Picnics

Tina an I went one year.  We took a friend from Europe. Now I’m from the mountains of up state New York with a genetic heritage that means I start getting a sunburn after fifteen minutes even with SPF 100 sunscreen.

Our friend usually visits us around this time of year so we haven’t gone again.

But our one attendance at the picnic makes us wish the Cable streamed it.

From various Willie’s Fourth of July Picnics:

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Edward Snowden: a whistleblower, not a spy

From The Guardian UK:

He has published US government information. And it is for this – not espionage – that he will have to answer to the law

The Guardian, Tuesday 2 July 2013

It is now 10 days since the former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, source of the Guardian’s NSA bugging revelations, flew out of Hong Kong, apparently en route to Ecuador. For 10 days he has been stalled at Moscow airport, while his passport has been annulled and repeated attempts to continue his journey to sympathetic jurisdictions have failed or been foiled. Over the weekend, Ecuador aborted the idea that he might find sanctuary in Quito. Mr Snowden submitted a request for political asylum in Russia, later withdrawn. Several other asylum bids also faltered at the start of this week. On Tuesday, Mr Snowden remained in Moscow, still dependent on the Russians while waiting on the apparently diminishing chance of being welcomed elsewhere around the world.

All this poses the complex and unavoidable question: what should now happen to Mr Snowden? The answer matters to Mr Snowden above all, as well as to the United States, whose data was published by the Guardian and the Washington Post. But it also matters to the world, because the internet is in every respect a global phenomenon, not an American one, and the data that the NSA is now routinely capturing does not belong to the agency or to the US. That is why the European Union and several member states, including France and Germany, have been so concerned about the allegations. It is also why so many people of all nations who regard themselves as admirers and allies of America are rightly concerned that the US should act appropriately towards the man who has triggered a debate which Barack Obama himself has acknowledged needs to take place.

Mr Snowden is clear that he leaked his information in order to alert the world to the unprecedented and industrial scale of NSA and GCHQ secret data trawling. He did not, he insists, leak in order to damage the US, its interests or its citizens, including those citizens in harm’s way. Nothing of this sort has been published. Nor should it be. As long as he remains in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, however, the real issue remains clouded. This damages Mr Snowden’s cause, which this newspaper supports. He should therefore leave Russia as soon as he practically can.

The United States is deliberately not making this as easy as it could. Mr Snowden has always accepted that he will have to face the music for what he has done. This is likely to happen sooner or later. But it needs to happen in a way which respects Mr Snowden’s rights, and civilian status, and which, above all, also recognises the high public seriousness of what he has decided to do. His welfare matters. It is wrong to acknowledge that there should be a proper debate about data trawling and secret internet surveillance – a debate that could not have started without Mr Snowden – and simultaneously to treat him as a spy in the old cold war sense. Too many US politicians and government officials are doing so.

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Chomsky Says Young People Don’t Care About Surveillance — Is He Right

From Alternet:

Growing up post-9/11 with the Patriot Act, Dubya and imminent apocalypse, we are a generation somewhat jaded.

By April M. Short
June 25, 2013

When the leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden exposed warrantless, secret government surveillance of U.S. citizens’ phone and Internet records— including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats—Noam Chomsky surmised that younger people were less “offended” than older people by the privacy intrusion.  In a   Guardian article, he called this attitude a generational issue that “someone ought to look into.”

Younger people, he warned, are “much less shocked” at being spied on by the U.S. government than the older generation, “and did not view it as such a problem.”

He said: “It may have to do with the exhibitionist character of the Internet culture, with Facebook and so on. … On the Internet, you think everything is going to be public.”

Well, there is absolutely a generation gap when it comes to issues of  freedom of information, the NSA leaks, and scandal in general—especially online—but it’s not necessarily what you might expect. The lack of an “OMG” attitude over the U.S. government’s mass-scale privacy intrusions stem from much more than a general air of nonchalance about technology.

It’s true that as a generation younger people are inherently more comfortable and dependent on technology—we type our credit card numbers into websites without much inquiry, and we share some of our deepest secrets and private conversations wirelessly. The general predilection is that these are necessary risks of the technology age. We’ve grown comfortable with the risks, almost to the point that they don’t feel risky anymore.

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Nestlé Says ‘Water Isn’t A Right’

I think Nestlé CEO Peter Brabeck should be taught that we can live without any of Nestle’s products or the products of any of Nestle’s subdivisions.

Not that we boycott them but rather that we learn to live without them.

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There is nothing “innovative” about privatizing our water

From Food and Water Watch:

By Elizabeth Schuster
July 2nd, 2013

Yesterday, I participated in a meeting hosted by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency on financing water infrastructure.

Although I applaud the administration’s efforts to convene a discussion about the enormous need to invest in our nation’s aging infrastructure, I was discouraged that much of the meeting focused on promoting public-private partnerships and attracting more private financing for public water systems.

Throughout the meeting, a misleading notion was continually raised that using private capital to fund water systems somehow constitutes an innovative approach to financing. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Time and again, municipalities and consumers have suffered under privatized water systems.

As if attempting to package and sell privatization as a new trendy approach isn’t alarming enough, the chief financial officer of American Water, the nation’s largest water company, added insult to injury when she asked about the status of the company’s proposal that the IRS modify its rules to allow companies that take over privatized municipal water systems to retain public tax benefits on the system’s existing debt.

Why not just give private companies like American Water the same tax-exempt status on bonds as public utilities? That’s actually another proposal out there these days. Apparently, this so-called “innovative” private financing requires government tax breaks and special treatment to compete with traditional public financing.

This is not the first time American Water has floated this proposal to the federal government. In response to a FOIA request filed by Food & Water Watch in November 2012, we learned that American Water’s proposal had made it to the Treasury Department last September. Then in March of this year, the company included its proposal in testimony submitted to the House Appropriations subcommittee. Talk about persistence.

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Oh Say Can You See Through the Frackers’ Big Lie?

From Other Words:

The surge in fracked gas is headed for export and won’t boost the nation’s energy independence.

July 2, 2013

With Creative Commons Permission

Big Oil’s frackers are wrapping their shameless profiteering in our flag.

In shale fields across the country, you’ll see fracking rigs festooned with Old Glory, and they even paint some of their rigs red, white, and blue.

This ostentatious patriotic pose is part of the industry’s cynical PR campaign to convince you and me that its assault on our health, water, air, and economic future should be mindlessly saluted, rather than questioned.

Energy Independence! ” is their deafening cry. The so-called shale gas boom, they proclaim, will free America from dependence on foreign producers.

This Fourth of July, can you sing “Oh say can you see through the frackers’ big lie”?

Joel Dyer, editor of the Boulder, Colorado Weekly, has peeked behind their-star spangled curtain. The investigative digger uncovered what he called “one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated on America.”

Far from independence, we’re going to get the pollution — while foreigners take the energy. The gas extracted from our fractured land is destined for export. How do we know that?

First, because the industry and its government enablers admit it in their internal communications. Second, guess who’s paying for the fracking of America?

Dyer cites reports by Bloomberg news that China has pumped $5.5 billion into the U.S. drilling boom — not only so it can export the energy back to their people, but especially so the Chinese can “redeploy the best U.S. practices and technologies” back to China.

Other foreign investors fracking us hail from Japan ($5 billion invested so far), India ($3.5 billion), France ($4.5 billion), as well as South Korea, the UK, and Norway.

Norway? Come on, America — don’t let the profiteers wrap you up in our own flag. It’s the Fourth of July — let’s rebel!

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