Dr Anthony Fauci on the New Rules of Living

…If [people], if they’re worried about the immune system and the relationship to COVID-19, and namely what’s going on right now, I would just click on the CDC website, cdc.gov, and then from there, you go to coronavirus.gov. And they could tell you all about the things that are relevant. Like why some people, like the elderly, and certain people who have underlying conditions that weaken their immune system, why they not only get infected the way everybody does, but they really have a poor outcome because their body is not able to fight off the virus very well. If you look at what’s going on in our own country and globally, generally, the people who really, really get into trouble are people who have underlying conditions…

…How confident are you that face masks, cloth masks like a bandanna, are enough when I go out to the grocery store?

It is certainly better than not having it on. Is it 100% protective against a droplet that someone might sneeze or cough, or even some aerosol? Of course not. However, in reality, if you can stay six feet from someone, at all times, the virus very, very unlikely would travel that far to you. But in the real world that we live in, when you go to a pharmacy or you go to a grocery store, the chances of you always being six feet from someone are just unlikely, which is the reason why the recommendation of, although it isn’t perfect, wear something that is a cloth…

Google and Apple are saying they’re going to develop technology to trace this via mobile phone. Do you think that’s a good idea?

…One of the sticky, sticky issues about that is that there is a lot of pushback in this country to get someone or some organization — to have by GPS somebody know where you were and when you were there. Even though from a purely public health standpoint, that makes sense. You know, you could look at somebody’s cell phone, and say, “You were next to these 25 people over the last 24 hours.” Boy, I gotta tell you the civil liberties-type pushback on that would be considerable. Even though from a pure public health standpoint, it absolutely makes sense.

There are many more questions, well-asked and answered, in the article. Definitely a worthwhile read.

Just to address the last question I included in this post…the Apple/Google contact tracking software won’t tell you or anyone else who those 25 people were you stood next to. The anonymizing process tells you that you were near a certain number of folks who exhibit symptoms, probably where. More detailed information would only be passed along to public health agencies IF those individuals opt in to allow that.

I understand the questions about civil liberties many folks will have. Once I became an activist against racism and bigotry, the whole range of progressive issues guaranteed I would be subject to scrutiny from the Big Brother factions in our government. I would have given this greater consideration…and still have chosen public health and safety as the greater good. But, I haven’t had to worry about that since about 1960. :-]

The ACLU got $24 million in donations this weekend — response to their courage!


Anthony Romero, ACLU head, on the streets, in the courts, all weekend

❝ In the weeks after the Nov. 8 election, when Donald Trump secured a surprise victory to become president of the United States, the American Civil Liberties Union received so much money in online donations — more than $15 million — that an official with the 100-year-old organization called the flood “unprecedented in our history.”…

…then Trump spent his first week as president signing executive orders and making good on some of his campaign promises, spurring massive protests across the country and the world — about women’s rights, the environment and what Trump calls his “extreme vetting” of travelers to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim nations…

❝ This weekend alone, the civil liberties group received more than $24 million in online donations from 356,306 people, a spokesman told The Washington Post early Monday morning, a total that supersedes its annual online donations by six times.

In an interview with CNN, the ACLU had a one-word reaction: “Wow.”

Having lived through a couple of attempts to bring fascism to power in the United States, I’m encouraged. Groups like the ACLU are usually a front-row target of lard-brained right-wingers like Trump and Bannon. Civil liberties – and their defenders – are an automatic target of creeps who front themselves as “strong leaders” and other code words for wannabe dictators.

Early days of McCarthyism,there were beaucoup folks with good intentions, civic understanding – and no guts – who would donate “cash only” to an organization of constitutional lawyers willing to fight for preservation of American standards. That folks have more courage – and greater willingness to drop their hard-earned buck$ on the barrel-head to support the fight for freedom is more than encouraging. It bodes well for the continuing battle.

Keep moving, Bozo: clowns are banned in this Mississippi county

A Mississippi county has had enough of the creepy clown craze, at least until after Halloween.

Kemper County supervisors this week banned people from wearing any clown costume, mask or makeup in public. The local law carries a $150 penalty, and it will be lifted Nov. 1.

The Kemper County Messenger reports…that supervisors President Johnny Whitsett says it’s a matter of public safety because people could react badly if they get scared by a clown in their yard.

You know – the same reaction they get if they see 4 or 5 Black folks voting.

Lee Rowland, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney in New York, says the First Amendment protects most clothing choices. She also says it’s “a ridiculous use of government authority …. to dictate which Halloween costumes people can wear.

No surprise. The culture inbred in a great many conservatives simply feels that if something offends you personally, make it illegal. That often includes the whole range of civil rights, civil liberties in the state of mind called Mississippi.

Privacy and civil liberty watchdog confronts right-wing limits in Congress

A leading Democrat in Congress is pushing back against an effort to impose new constraints on a civil liberties watchdog agency that investigates the nation’s security programs.

The agency, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, is a bipartisan five-member panel that Congress created after a recommendation by the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Its members and staff have security clearances and a mandate to investigate government practices that affect individual rights…

Since the independent board began fully operating three years ago, it has produced a high-profile report about the once-secret National Security Agency program that collected bulk records of Americans’ phone calls. It called the program ineffective and illegal and said it should be shut down. Congress later did so by enacting the U.S.A. Freedom Act.

The oversight board also issued a report that brought to light new details about how the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the FISA Amendments Act worked. It is currently scrutinizing programs that operate under Executive Order 12333, which sets rules for espionage activities that Congress has left unregulated by statute.

In the letter, obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, described the provisions as “completely unacceptable” and “misguided.” He deplored what he portrayed as an emerging pattern of efforts by the intelligence panels to undermine the oversight board’s independence and authority. He also said any proposed changes to the board should go through the Judiciary Committee.

That proposal comes at a time when the Obama administration has highlighted the privacy board’s role in negotiations over a recently completed trans-Atlantic agreement for handling private data amid concern in Europe about using internet and technology companies based in America. Those concerns came after leaks by the former intelligence contractor Edward J. Snowden about National Security Agency surveillance programs.

As usual, Senator Leahy is more polite to his most reactionary colleagues than truth presumes necessary. The usual cabal of right-wing creeps who care less about individual liberty than a controlling power of the free speech and thought, privacy and progress of American citizens. Regardless of the number of lies and contradictions they author.

RTFA for any details you might want. It ain’t news. It does require as much vigilance as ever.

Secret memo reveals Uncle Sugar’s strategy to hack cellphones

Silicon Valley celebrated last fall when the White House revealed it would not seek legislation forcing technology makers to install “backdoors” in their software — secret listening posts where investigators could pierce the veil of secrecy on users’ encrypted data, from text messages to video chats. But while the companies may have thought that was the final word, in fact the government was working on a Plan B.

In a secret meeting convened by the White House around Thanksgiving, senior national security officials ordered agencies across the U.S. government to find ways to counter encryption software and gain access to the most heavily protected user data on the most secure consumer devices, including Apple’s iPhone, the marquee product of one of America’s most valuable companies…

The approach was formalized in a confidential National Security Council “decision memo,” tasking government agencies with developing encryption workarounds, estimating additional budgets and identifying laws that may need to be changed to counter what FBI Director James Comey calls the “going dark” problem: investigators being unable to access the contents of encrypted data stored on mobile devices or traveling across the Internet. Details of the memo reveal that, in private, the government was honing a sharper edge to its relationship with Silicon Valley alongside more public signs of rapprochement.

The public got its first glimpse of what those efforts may look like when a federal judge ordered Apple to create a special tool for the FBI to bypass security protections on an iPhone 5c belonging to one of the shooters in the Dec. 2 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California that killed 14 people. Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has vowed to fight the order, calling it a “chilling” demand that Apple “hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers.” The order was not a direct outcome of the memo but is in line with the broader government strategy…

Security specialists say the case carries enormous consequences, for privacy and the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, and that the National Security Council directive, which has not been previously reported, shows that technology companies underestimated the resolve of the U.S. government to access encrypted data…

Silicon Valley and Washington have had a decades-long distrust of each other over encryption, stemming from a failed Clinton administration push in the 1990s for a government backdoor in telecommunications networks. In that case, the National Security Agency developed a technology called the Clipper Chip, which the White House approved as a government standard. Security experts assailed it as insecure and a violation of privacy.

Security experts say the U.S.’s insistence on finding ways to tap into encrypted data comes in direct conflict with consumers’ growing demands for privacy.

“The government’s going to have to get over it,” said Ken Silva, former technical director of the National Security Agency and currently a vice president at Ionic Security Inc., an Atlanta-based data security company. “We had this fight 20 years ago. While I respect the job they have to do and I know how hard the job is, the privacy of that information is very important to people…”

The truly stupid part of this government pressure is that it is exactly counter to public policy towards other nations. The White House and Congress blather all the time about any other nation that threatens to require the same access to tech products our federal snoops say they need.

You can’t have it both ways.

Admittedly the hubris of our government spies is nothing new. And given the paranoid spy mentality, when some other nation breaks into the same backdoors Uncle Sugar demands – if our federal alphabet snoops succeed – they’ll simply swear it must have been foreign spies who stole our wondrous technology. No one in government is going to take responsibility for building in the flaw that breaks privacy.

Apple stands firm — protecting our privacy


Republican constitutional lawyer, Ted Olson, takes Apple’s case

After the court laid down its verdict demanding Apple to unlock the encrypted iPhone of San Bernardino shooters, the newly hired outside lawyer said in his first statement in the case, that the order could imperil the privacy of millions of people around the world.

In an ABC report, Former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson stated, “This is not just one magistrate in San Bernardino. There are hundreds of magistrates, there are hundreds of other courts.”

He also added that following the order would open a ‘Pandora’s box’ on privacy issue and there would be no limitation on what the government could require Apple to do…

Apple CEO Tim Cook has chosen to stand for privacy and will oppose the order, as released in an open letter to customers.

He emphatically stated that to compromise the security of the personal information can ultimately put the personal safety at risk. This is also the reason behind the importance of encryption.

“For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business,” he added…

No evidence has surfaced so far to indicate Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were in contact with terrorists, or had received outside support, before the attack, which left 14 people dead. The couple were later killed in a shootout with police.

Civil liberties groups warn that forcing companies to crack their own encryption endangers the technical integrity of the Internet and threatens not just the privacy of customers, but potentially that of citizens of any country.

Most technology security experts, including many who have served in government opined that technical efforts to provide government access to encrypted devices inevitably degrades security for everyone since 1990s.

The right to privacy is a human right and an element of various legal traditions which may restrain both government and private party action that threatens the privacy of individuals. It is also Constitutional right which is innate in every citizen of the country.

The FBI has a long history of lying about violations of civil liberties and civil rights. Until the Carter administration the FBI batted 1.000 in lynching cases – obtaining zero convictions. I was part of a civil liberties class action suit against the FBI and local law enforcement over 40 years ago. A successful lawsuit against illegal wiretapping. The creepy bastards even wiretapped my parent’s phone in case I made a subversive phone call when I dropped by for a family Sunday dinner. Their net was so broad they even tapped the phone of a slug like Joe Lieberman because he was head of the Yale Young Dems.

The history goes back to the Red Squads incorporated in most police departments even before World War 1. And never ended. Legislators in Congress and statehouses would act up once or twice a century and lay some heat on the police state the Feds wanted in place – and they would make nice for a few years. But, sooner or later, along would come a creep like Reagan or George W who would write a blank check for anything the FBI or CIA or NSA wanted. And our civil liberties were relegated to history books, again.

This fight is not a new one. Not in my lifetime. Not in the history passed since our Declaration of Independence. What is required — as ever – is people of courage to stand up and be counted. Counted on the side of our rights.

#standwithapple