We have become the most spied upon people in world history

In a radio interview, Wall Street Journal reporter Julia Angwin (who’s been one of the best at covering the surveillance state in the US) made a simple observation that puts much of this into context: the US surveillance regime has more data on the average American than the Stasi ever did on East Germans.

Indeed, the American government has more information on the average American than Stalin had on Russians, Hitler had on German citizens, or any other government has ever had on its people.

The American government is collecting and storing virtually every phone call, purchases, email, text message, internet searches, social media communications, health information, employment history, travel and student records, and virtually all other information of every American.

As the top spy chief at the U.S. National Security Agency explained this week, the American government is collecting some 100 billion 1,000-character emails per day, and 20 trillion communications of all types per year.

He says that the government has collected all of the communications of congressional leaders, generals and everyone else in the U.S. for the last 10 years.

He further explains that he set up the NSA’s system so that all of the information would automatically be encrypted, so that the government had to obtain a search warrant based upon probably cause before a particular suspect’s communications could be decrypted. But the NSA now collects all data in an unencrypted form, so that no probable cause is needed to view any citizen’s information. He says that it is actually cheaper and easier to store the data in an encrypted format: so the government’s current system is being done for political – not practical – purposes…

And as we point out at every opportunity, this is not some “post-9/11 reality”. Spying on Americans – and most of the other attacks on liberty – started before 9/11.

Just in case you thought you might start off the New Year free of paranoia.

Artist creates geometric designs by walking in the snow. A lot!

While walking amidst white mountaintops and cozy ski lodges, Simon Beck creates enormous works of snow art that look like giant wintry crop circles. Believe it or not, the immense snow patterns are made entirely by foot – Beck creates them while he walks across the terrain in briquette snow shoes. The ephemeral art installations last only until the mountain winds blow them away across the valleys.

I’ve done this kind of art – on a much smaller scale, less disciplined, but just as much fun.

Click the link to see more.