Federal judge rules against FBI hiding cellphone surveillance

A federal judge has ruled that the FBI must release documents it improperly withheld about StingRays, the now-infamous cellphone mass-surveillance devices that police and federal agencies have deployed in secret for decades…

…The federal judge working Daniel Rigmaiden’s FOIA lawsuit has ordered the FBI to release 8 additional StingRay documents, saying the information was “not properly withheld.” The agency had tried to hide the documents, invoking the broadly-written Exemption 7(E), which can exclude records that might reveal “techniques and procedures” used in law enforcement investigations. The court rejected that justification, and the agency will now need to hand over the documents to Rigmaiden within 90 days.

Originally developed for the US Navy, Stingrays (the trade name for a class of device known as “IMSI catchers” or “cell-site simulators”) allow cops to track and intercept thousands of devices at once by impersonating a cellphone tower — without revealing their use to courts and often without a warrant. The FBI has gone to insane lengths to keep Stingrays secret, forcing police departments to sign nondisclosure agreements and even having prosecutors drop criminal cases to avoid revealing that the devices were used…

Several security researchers have developed apps that can detect the presence of cell-site simulators. A court in New York also ruled last year that cops can’t hide information about StingRays. And last September, the Department of Justice announced an “enhanced policy” requiring probable cause warrants whenever the devices are deployed by federal investigators.

Yup. It takes a special order from our Department of “Justice” to require the FBI to live up to constitutional standards. No such guidance, yet, for state and local coppers.

Keep on rocking in the Free World!

The whole American economy, region by region, state by state

Conventional maps, by their nature, emphasize sheer spaciousness even though many large areas can be relatively devoid of human beings or other forms of activity. This cool diagram from HowMuch.net gives us a different way to visualize the entire US economy, depicting the whole thing as a big circle and then slicing it up by state, with each state’s area representing its share of total economic output:

Click to enlarge

The basic news that California and Texas are really big shouldn’t come as a huge shock. But you also see here that Florida punches a bit below its weight in terms of population, in part because a large share of the state’s residents are retired.

There are also disparities related to wealth. New Jersey has fewer people than North Carolina, Michigan, or Georgia, but it contributes more to the national economy since the productivity per worker in New Jersey is much higher.

Now you can see how much or how little your state contributes to the nation’s whole economy. 🙂

Meltdown – Rocky Mountain glaciers shrinking

Tracking high-elevation snowfallJohn Marr/University of Colorado

Colorado scientists using ground-penetrating radar have found climate change is shrinking glaciers and other icy terrain in the Rocky Mountains — raising concerns about water supplies.

The Arikaree Glacier — likely more than 1,000 years old — has been thinning by about 1 meter a year over the past 15 years and will disappear completely in 25 years…

Their peer-reviewed research…found that rock glaciers and other ice that holds water west of Boulder also will vanish. The Arikaree Glacier, which feeds North Boulder Creek, had held steady from 1965 through 1997.

❝”What ice provides is insurance so that, when we have bad years, we can get more contribution from glaciers and permafrost,” said CU hydrologist Mark Williams of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, lead author of the study…

He compares melting ice to pulling from a bank account, saying more water may flow for now but that reserves needed to endure droughts won’t be there. Mountains that held snow and ice for hundreds of thousands of years, with fluctuations, rapidly are losing it…

Glacier National Park is not going to have glaciers in another couple decades. People are going to be upset about that. We’re in a loop we cannot get out of…”

The melting of glaciers and other ice in Colorado mountains jibes with a worldwide trend that scientists and governments have linked to climate change. The shrinking of Earth’s frozen “cryosphere” has been documented across Arctic sea ice, tundra and other areas that traditionally hold packed snow.

RTFA for more details about cause and effect. If you stay up-to-date you’re not surprised. You ain’t happy either. The time for initiating long term solutions continues to pass us by. Short-term solutions don’t exist.

Between ignorant politicians, cowardly politicians and the truly foolish claques in the body politic the United States continues to abdicate leadership to the whole world. The band of creepy capitalists profiting from fossil fuels continues to diminish; but, not their political power. They dedicate billions to extending ignorance as well as more usual methods employed in Washington, DC. After all, an ignorant electorate is a force unlikely to demand qualitative change to our economy.