Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Government Conspiracies: Just Like In The Movies

The government is plagued with controversies throughout the years. Whether it involves the personal lives of government officials, scandals in office or issues on international relations, the government does not run out of interesting stories that the public may or may not know of.

From issues of infidelity and abuse of power to wiretapping issues, the government office is just as interesting as any popular movie plot. And just recently, President Donald Trump accused the former U.S. president Barrack Obama of spying on him last year just below the election took place.

There was high drama last week when Rep. Devin Nunes announced at the White House that he had seen evidence that the communications of the Donald Trump campaign people, and perhaps even Trump himself, had been “incidentally collected” by the US government.

If true, this means that someone authorized the monitoring of Trump campaign communications using Section 702 of the FISA Act. Could it have been then-President Obama? We don’t know. Could it have been other political enemies looking for something to harm the Trump campaign or presidency? It is possible.

There is much we do not yet know about what happened and there is probably quite a bit we will never know. But we do know several very important things about the government spying on Americans.

First there is Section 702 itself. The provision was passed in 2008 as part of a package of amendments to the 1978 FISA bill. As with the PATRIOT Act, we were told that we had to give the government more power to spy on us so that it could catch terrorists. We had to give up some of our liberty for promises of more security, we were told. We were also told that the government would only spy on the bad guys, and that if we had nothing to hide we should have nothing to fear.

(Via: http://www.globalresearch.ca/did-the-government-spy-on-trump-of-course-it-spies-on-all-of-us/5582235)

So, we now know that the government spies on various people for various reasons especially if you appear to be a threat to the people and to the state. The government can use any valid reason they can find to justify their actions and make it appear legal and within the bounds of the law.

Moreover, the conflict between parties never ceases to end and sometimes get the better of both the Republican and Democratic politicians.

In his earlier tweet, Trump threatened to “fight” GOP representatives who did not get behind his agenda, as well as Democrats, during midterm congressional elections next year.

The US president was quickly told the lawmakers will not bow to “bullying”.

“Freedom Caucus stood with u when others ran”, Labrador wrote.

Although many moderate Republicans outside of the Freedom Caucus also objected to the bill, Trump has pointed to the Freedom Caucus as the cause of the bill’s failure. “We must fight them, and Dems, in 2018!”

Trump voter Joshlyn Smith, a law enforcement officer from Riverside County, California, said the president needs to move past “the Twitter stuff” that often mires him in social media spats – and focus instead on the nation’s policy.

(Via: http://normangeestar.net/2017/03/31/president-trump-and-paul-ryan-press-republicans-for-lack-of-support/)

These controversies extend outside of the nation and affect international relations. It is known to the world that the U.S. is one of the most powerful nations in the world. However, America is also in conflict with certain nations and it is no secret from all.

As you can see, the big deal here is levying war against the United States and helping its enemies. Whatever anyone in Trump’s camp could have potentially agreed on with the Russians is highly unlikely to be construed as waging war against the U.S. And as we are not fighting a war with Russia, it’s hard to justify calling it an “enemy”. 

There are those who do consider the Russian cyberattacks related to the election an act of war. Russian military doctrine expert Alexander Velez-Green thinks the Russian leaders themselves are seeing things that way, taking advantage of the fact that U.S. policymakers are used to only viewing war as something “limited to the military arena”. Thus the Russians are using non-military efforts (hacking) to “devastating effect”.

What is their goal? According to Velez-Green, it would be “to cripple the United States, shatter NATO, and fill the void left by America’s absence.”

Interestingly, such Republican icons (and known warhawks) as Dick Cheney and John McCain have also publicly come out to say that the cyber attacks could be regarded acts of war.

The fact that there are serious implications to the defense of the U.S. in whatever happened was underscored by the recent resignation of President Trump's National Security Advisor retired General Michael Flynn. He was forced to give up his post after it was revealed he misled the Trump administration over contact with a Russian ambassador. Subsequently, Flynn's lawyer offered Flynn's testimony to Congress in exchange for immunity, which in turn caused many to wonder whether Flynn has something explosive to say.

(Via: http://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/what-is-treason-and-how-its-prosecuted-in-the-us)

Politics and governance are not for the faint-hearted. You have to be a gutsy and confident person for you to be able to conquer public speaking fearlessly but also master the art of meeting and communicating with people – both the public and other local or international elected government officials.

And because politicians are also human, they are guilty of certain human frailties too. At times, these mistakes may be costly and tarnish their reputation forever. Furthermore, the pressure of the Internet and of social media can be too much for some, where all their actions are seen by people 24/7 and forever saved in the annals of Internet history.

The following blog article Government Conspiracies: Just Like In The Movies is courtesy of MZ Blog

source https://maczealots.com/government-conspiracies-just-like-in-the-movies/

Monday, 22 May 2017

How Safe Is Your Computer During The Airline Ban?

Air travel – especially long flights – can bring out the best or worst in people. Being cooped up in your seat for hours and hours on end can leave you bored and easily annoyed. Parents with young kids in tow are even more stressed out as traveling on a plane with toddlers, for instance, is a likely recipe for disaster. Fortunately, electronic gadgets like tablets and computers make air travel a little bit bearable for most of us. It can keep both the young and the old entertained as our destination gets nearer.

The most recent electronics airline ban (refers to any electronic gadget that is bigger than the usual smartphone device) requires travelers from eight North African and Middle Eastern countries to check in their electronic devices during travel to the United States. And just a couple days ago, the U.K. also imposed the same security measures.

The United States announced a new rule that bans bigger-than-a-smartphone electronics from the airline cabin on certain flights to the United States including laptops, tablets and cameras. The rules apply to flights from 10 airports in 8 Middle Eastern and North African countries. The government has attributed the new security measure to concerns about bombs. The U.K. took a similar step Tuesday.

(Via: http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/21/technology/laptop-ban-safety/)

However, constant threats from terrorist groups like the ISIS never cease. And as such, authorities take measures to ensure the safety and security of everyone and stop them from executing their terroristic activities or gaining access to our country.

New rules banning many electronic items from passenger cabins on U.S.-bound flights will force a rethink now on fire safety concerns in consigning them to the hold, and some experts question whether the limited ban can improve passenger security.

The regulations shed light on a juggling act between airline safety, where authorities worry about technical risks such as lithium-powered goods catching fire in the hold, and security measures against damage or loss of life by deliberate attacks.

The rules, announced on Tuesday, cover carry-on electronic devices on planes flying from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority nations in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Trump administration said passengers traveling from those airports could not bring devices larger than a cellphone, such as tablets, portable DVD players, laptops and cameras, into the main cabin. Instead, they must be in checked baggage.

The clampdown was prompted by reports that militant groups want to smuggle explosive devices in electronic gadgets, U.S. officials said.

(Via: http://fortune.com/2017/03/21/airline-electronics-ban/)

The intention may be good but many question the means it is being enforced as these devices can get lost, damaged or broken during in-flight travel when previous protocol required passengers to keep their valuables with them (including any form of electronics) upon check-in.

It could break or be lost

Even airlines don’t want you putting pricey electronics in your check-in luggage. Once a bag is checked, it’s tossed around between conveyor belts, trucks and planes. One bad hit could do serious damage.

Many airlines specifically say they will not be held liable if these types of items break or are lost. They warn against packing valuable or breakable items like computers in checked baggage. For example, United says not to check “computer hardware/software and electronic components/equipment.”

It could get hacked

As soon as you let your computer or tablet out of your sight, it’s vulnerable to hacks.

“Any time your laptop leaves your possession, all bets are off. Malware and spyware can be installed,” said Rene Kolga, head of product of ThinAir.

Checked-bags go through an x-ray machine, but TSA employees are also allowed to open up any bag and examine its contents. Bags containing laptops and other electronic equipment are often inspected by hand. The airlines are usually looking for bombs or other dangerous items. It is possible for an individual to tamper with your device without you ever knowing it.

Someone can get data off your computer “in seconds” by using a malicious USB device, according to Kolga.

“Most likely the device will be treated with a keylogger or other kind of implant that will help locate the device (and its holder) at a later stage, enable remote access or at least enable them to monitor device usage,” said Erka Koivunen, chief information security officer at F-Secure.

(Via: https://gantdaily.com/2017/03/21/how-to-keep-your-laptop-safe-under-the-new-airline-ban/)

While there is little we can do to stop authorities from taking drastic security measures like this one, we can temporarily put our travels to these countries on hold or take measures to protect your laptop before checking in.

Make sure your device is turned off and is set with a passcode or a finger lock so that others can’t easily access it. Or better yet, remove all important files in your laptop and store it on a handy flash drive or in the cloud so nothing gets stolen en route back to America. For now, let us all cooperate with the government and protect our country from terrorists who wants nothing but to disrupt law and order in our progressive society.

The blog article How Safe Is Your Computer During The Airline Ban? is republished from MZ Blog

source https://maczealots.com/how-safe-is-your-computer-during-the-airline-ban/

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Can Smart TVs Spy On You?

We love technology. Who doesn’t, right? We only dreamed of doing the things we have now as kids. But now, we have the power to connect to the world through the World Wide Web. No need to spend hours researching a topic because the answers are right in front of you in mere seconds. Working abroad isn’t as painful as it once was because of Skype, social media, and other messaging apps. Technology has managed to make the world interconnected using gadgets we can't afford to live without.

Even our homes are full of technology that not only makes our lives easier and convenient but more exciting too. We’re not juts talking about home appliances but more innovative technologies like the Smart TV. Who needs a smartphone, tablet or a computer if you can do the same stuff on your television, right? But recent issues are popping up saying that Smart TVs can spy on owners is downright disturbing.

Are your smart televisions, smart phones and smart fridges vulnerable to eavesdropping spies?

The WikiLeaks revelations that the CIA purportedly has the capacity to break into our everyday consumer electronics, still unverified when this story was published, raises that very troubling question.

“I am in general distrustful of leaks of this nature,” says attorney Chris Dore, a partner at Edelson PC in Chicago, which specializes in consumer privacy, technology and data security. “But from what I know of data security issues and privacy issues at the consumer products level, I have no doubt that hackers can do this and certainly the CIA and NSA are capable of doing this type of thing.”

According to the WikiLeaks data dump, CIA hackers could break into iPhones, Android phones, PCs running Microsoft Windows and Samsung smart TVs, and exploit the microphones inside such electronics.

(Via: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/baig/2017/03/07/just-how-risky-smart-tv-phone-fridge/98865598/)

This news really got people worried because smart TVs are in most homes today. Since they are generally sold cheaper now and other brands started carrying it too, more and more people can afford to purchase their own Smart TVs at home.

Smart TV data surveillance

The researchers assembled evidence showing how smart TVs are already divulging users' privacy in a variety of ways. These include reported incidents of TVs transmitting viewing information back to manufacturers and accidentally eavesdropping on private conversations. The researchers also reviewed a number of implementation and enforcement actions in Germany and the Netherlands. What they found was that while the smart TV ecosystem is rapidly taking shape, there is clearly a trend on the part of providers and manufacturers to take full advantage of users' personal data. 'Our analysis shows how users' agency is being significantly reduced because information duties haven't been complied with and how default settings were not privacy preserving', says Irion, senior researcher at the UvA's Institute for Information Law.

Fundamental rights and media policy values

The researchers call on European and national policymakers to do more to protect media users' privacy. 'EU media policy oddly avoids the emerging issues of monitoring and tracking users' media consumption, the role of targeted advertising, and how media personalisation strategies could affect media pluralism for better or worse', says Natali Helberger, professor of Information Law. 'The present situation is wholly inadequate in view of the important role of the media in pluralistic and democratic societies, both in member states and in the EU as a whole.'

(Via: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170320125420.htm)

If what this research says is true, then the privacy and rights of many Smart TV users have been and are continually being violated by these Smart TV manufacturers and their accomplice, so it helps to be finally aware of these things.

Should consumers be paranoid over the WikiLeaks revelations? “I think paranoia is a strong word,” Dore says. But he does believe consumers should be “skeptical” every time they bring a device into the home that is connected to the Internet, something that is increasingly taking place with the trend towards “always-connected” Internet of Things (IoT) appliances and gadgets.

“We are literally coating our house, our most personal space, in new Internet of Things devices that are being rushed to market, usually without much thought in terms of data security,” Dore says.

Cybersecurity specialist Pierre Roberge, chairman of the global cyber defense firm ARC4DIA, agrees: IoT devices and smart TVs have shown “very low security resilience to attacks in the last few years,” he says. “Our smart TVs, phones and PCs are constantly at risk and not only by the CIA as they are only, but one, state sponsored actor in the world amongst many.”

(Via: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/baig/2017/03/07/just-how-risky-smart-tv-phone-fridge/98865598/)

There is a price to pay for our over-reliance on technology. Although most gadgets and appliances make our life easier and better, we should be aware that they can also work against us. In this case, used as a spy tool to monitor what we do at home. Although there are claims that they are only used on suspicious individuals if this claim is indeed true, it is still a terrifying thought to realize that other people monitor your actions through your television without your consent.

Can Smart TVs Spy On You? is republished from https://maczealots.com/

source https://maczealots.com/can-smart-tvs-spy-on-you/

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The Business Of Education

As a young child, we were told that education is the key to a bright future. All parents tell that to their children and we hear that over and over again as we grow up. But cliché as it may seem, parents know best. Education equips a young person with the knowledge, skills, and attitude you need to face the real world someday and practice the profession you have chosen.

While being street smart always come in handy in the real world, being educated is an edge you have over other people in the workforce. Moreover, you can qualify for more specific job roles that require specific training and education in the field with a degree in your hand. The downside is that education is expensive. If you can manage to graduate at all, you’d likely have accumulated a lot of student debt that will take years before you can finally pay off.

We’ve all heard the many pundits and researchers claim that our country’s current educational model is simply not sustainable for the vast majority of students and families who want to engage in it, now and in the future.

Costs are soaring and student debt is escalating, with the national student loan debt at $1.41 trillion, leaving us to wonder exactly why are higher education prices so exorbitant and will the return on our investment actually be sufficient to prepare our children effectively for life after college. And we wonder if our children will be learning what’s needed today to become a highly contributive professional in this new digital world.

(Via: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2017/04/03/if-our-higher-education-system-is-broken-how-can-we-fix-it/#533bba887caf)

The aim of the country’s education system should be to educate the youth and prepare them for adult life but the opposite seems to be the case because it appears that profit comes first for most schools rather than providing quality education.

On the issue of the UNM budget problem, we have to face the unspeakable fact that the modern university is a business corporation with education as a side product and not a main mission.

To finance this radical change that started about 1992 at UNM with the Reagan era idea of public-private partnerships, many departments have been basically privatized. They were tasked with raising most, if not all, their own funds. Education was no longer a public service, but a market seeking product. Public schools at all levels have had to do this as a way to support the neoliberal trickle down theory. State legislatures loved this as it allowed them to cut taxes for the rich.

This idea was supposed to free up budget money for education, but privatization turned out to only be a smokescreen for a huge move into corporate and military research. Public institutions like UNM all have a non-profit status, too, which allowed more private sector profits and encouraged the sports arm of the universities to become corrupt entertainment industry functions.

Large corporations like GM and pharmaceutical firms started scaling back their own research departments and contracted out their needs to universities, selling them as opportunities for “students to learn hands on skills,” etc. It was tax exempt too. Supposedly a win-win idea, right? Wrong.

Under neoliberal public-private partnerships the benevolent rich were suppose to turn over their excess wealth to help fund public education. What they did when President BillClinton repealed the Glass-Stengel Act was start a mega merger movement with many relocating to places like China and other low wage countries. They have basically under this smokescreen abandoned the American working class. Donald Trump used this to make his own job at the White House. Liberals in both the Democratic and Republican Parties many still have not figured this out, but Donald did.

(Via: http://www.dailylobo.com/article/2017/04/3-anderson-letter)

Schools are asking for exorbitant tuition fees from students who only want nothing but to learn whatever they need to prepare them for life after graduation without breaking the bank. However, what they get in return is a student loan that they would have to struggle in paying for years.

While the government ensures the youth has access to primary and secondary education for free, it is a different case for students who want to pursue higher education. Just the cost of college and university education in itself is enough to discourage young people from even considering getting a degree in the first place when the state should actually be promoting education for all. Again, Education is the key to a successful future and unless the government can find a way to provide students with what they need, we may end up as a country with a working class full of immigrants and outsiders.

The Business Of Education Find more on: The Mac Zealots Blog

source https://maczealots.com/the-business-of-education/

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Medical Marijuana Use In The U.S.

Controversies are common in the field of Medicine. From controversial animal and human testing to untested ingredients and technologies, medicine is always buzzing with rumors and non-facts.

For something that has been around and used for ages, the experts can't still agree when it comes to medical marijuana. Since medical cannabis use is not legal in many U.S. states, people have been using it under the radar. But that is about to change if the Medical Marijuana law will be passed in the country.

First off, its use is already legal in some states and other states are already discussing it in Congress. Many people rally for its approval because they believe medical marijuana can offer relief and cure to many of today’s diseases.

The Medical Cannabis Act has made its way past the first hurdle of many on the road to becoming law in Nebraska. It was approved for a hearing by the full legislature by the Judiciary Committee with a 6-1 vote, of which five of the six in favor were sponsors of the bill. Introduced earlier this year, activists and patients alike have high hopes for this bill – even though a very similar bill failed to make it through last year. If it were to make it to the Governor’s desk it stands a good chance at being vetoed, but with enough support from citizens, lawmakers may have a change of heart.

“I’m optimistic that members will listen to their constituents who are desperately asking them to legalize this form of treatment,” Senator Anna Wishart said.

Legislative Bill 622 would legalize medical marijuana use for patients with any of 20 different conditions including HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, anxiety and opioid addiction, among others. It would create a licensed and regulated medical marijuana industry, but it would not allow patients to grow their own cannabis at home. It would also allow for cannabis to be used in pill form, as a topical lotion or spray, or vaporized – but it would not permit patients to smoke medical marijuana.

(Via: https://www.marijuanatimes.org/nebraska-legislative-committee-passes-medical-marijuana-bill/

And it is also making progress in other U.S. states like Hawaii where the experts deem medical marijuana helpful in five more chronic and debilitating conditions like epilepsy and lupus.

The Hawaii House Health Committee has passed a measure that wold expand the state’s medical cannabis program. They also unanimously passed a bill to change state law to refer to “medical marijuana” as “medical cannabis”.

Senate Bill 174, which has already passed the Senate with a unanimous 25 to 0 vote, passed the House Health Committee yesterday; the vote was 4 to 2. The proposal would add lupus, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and autism as conditions that qualify someone to become a legal medical cannabis patient.

Currently medical cannabis use in Hawaii is limited to those with cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS or a “chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces” cachexia, severe pain or nausea, seizures, sever muscle spasms or post traumatic stress disorder.

(Via: https://thejointblog.com/hawaii-bill-adding-five-new-medical-cannabis-conditions-passes-house-committee/)

While the legalization of medical marijuana is making progress in some states, it has stagnated or died in the others.

The landmark legislation that would have made medical use of marijuana legal in Tennessee is officially dead for the year.

The House sponsor of the legislation said Tuesday the bill was being taken off notice for the current legislative session and a task force would be established by legislative leaders House Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally to discuss the issue this summer.

But Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, said it's not because of the lack of support in his chamber that the bill (HB0495) died.

"The Senate, bless their heart, are just scared to death of their voters," Faison said Tuesday after the House Health Committee punted a non-binding marijuana-related resolution to summer study.

Faison said he believes the House would have voted for his measure, which would have established a medical marijuana program managed by three different state agencies and started in economically distressed parts of the state.

He said there still exists an irrational fear of marijuana and a stigma that it's a terrible drug.

(Via: http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2017/03/21/tennessee-medical-marijuana-bill-dead-because-senate-scared-lawmaker-says/99453008/)

The country is still torn whether or not to give medical marijuana a go and it is left to each state to determine its merit. While many claims the use of medical marijuana can improve and help cure different health conditions, the majority are still afraid because of the earlier stigma associated with the use of the so-called “weed” and its close association to addicts.

Hopefully, the lawmakers can put all their personal feelings aside and assess the merits of medical marijuana use for what it really is. And if necessary, more test and studies should be done to fully determine its level of safety and efficacy for the health and well-being of the people.

Medical Marijuana Use In The U.S. Read more on: https://maczealots.com/

source https://maczealots.com/medical-marijuana-use-in-the-u-s/