Gun Control Law #MoscowMitch still refuses to allow in the Senate

Here are the gun control bills that the Republican-controlled Senate has not taken up under McConnell:

Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R. 8)

The first major gun control bill that the House passed in over two decades, H.R. 8 would require universal background checks and close the loopholes for buyers at gun shows and private sellers online. It passed in February 240-190 in a mostly party-line vote, with eight Republicans joining almost every Democrat to vote for the bill…

Enhanced Background Checks Act (H.R. 112)

This bill would extend the current background check review period from three days to ten. It’s being sponsored by Rep. Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat who also serves as the House Majority Whip. The bill also passed 240-190.

Read ’em and weep for the survivors, their families…the victims of Republicans stopping any vote on useful gun regulation.

Resistbot helps tell your Congress-critter how you feel


Don’t ever let our so-called president off the hook!

❝ In the weeks following the election of President Donald Trump, tips for how people can voice their concerns to public officials circulated on social media and on Google docs.

Now a group of techies wants to make reaching officials in Congress even easier. All you have to do is text. Called “Resistbot,” you’d be right to assume this app is meant to be a thorn in Trump’s side.

❝ “We will faithfully deliver any message our users send in, but the voice of the product is for the liberals and conservatives in opposition to the Trump administration,” wrote co-creator Jason Putorti, a designer for AngelList…

❝ This is a nonprofit side-project for those involved. Volunteering on the project in addition to Putorti is Eric Ries, CEO of startup Long-Term Stock Exchange…More than a dozen others, including about half a dozen employees of Twilio, are also helping out…

❝ …Resistbot faxes users’ texted messages to officials. Just type “resist” and hit send to 50409, and the automated bot will ask your name and your zip code. The zip code is used to determine who your public officials are. Then you type in your message.

The first message you send will go, by default, to your Senators. The bot is supposed to also help users send messages to Representatives after interacting more with the user, according to the app website.

The site says Resistbot creators have confirmed messages are actually received by congressional staffers.

I don’t care if I have to resort to semaphore flags. The point remains the same. Communicate your feelings to the official who is supposed to be representing the folks who elected her or him. As often required. Easily.

Obama and Congress back off on mandatory encryption bill


Burr and Feinstein continue to turn their backs on liberty and privacy

Draft legislation that could’ve forced U.S. corporations like Apple to decrypt data on-demand following a court order won’t be formally introduced this year, and has lost the support needed to advance anyway…

The bill — backed by Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein — didn’t have the support of the Obama administation, the sources told Reuters. Former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden in fact claimed that the White House has “dropped anchor and taken down the sail.”

Well, NO LONGER had the support of Obama.

Although Burr and Feinstein are the Republican and Democratic heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee, respectively, Committee members from both political aisles have reportedly backed away from the legislation, particularly Democrats. No one in the House ever offered support…

The Burr-Feinstein bill emerged in the wake of Apple’s fight with the Department of Justice and the FBI over unlocking the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. Although the DoJ ultimately withdrew a court order asking Apple to build a workaround for iOS’ passcode retry limits, encryption issues had gained more prominence, and indeed many in U.S. law enforcement — such as FBI director James Comey — are still asking for backdoors, worried that encryption is putting some communications beyond their reach.

Most folks are aware of how and why such legislation illustrates the corruption of both political parties. Add in the sheer stupidity of introducing bills which can only affect communications inside the US – sort of – and the whole world gets an object lesson in how much of American politics is play-acting. Little morality plays designed to keep Talking Heads employed and useless politicians in office.

There’s a Senate bill limiting the FBI’s power to remotely spy on you — think it will become law?

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In the wake of its encryption battle with Apple over the San Bernadino shooting, the FBI’s request to access remote computers with search warrants has been granted, pending judicial rule. That’s drawn the ire of several bipartisan senators, who have introduced the “Stop Mass Hacking Act” to block access…

Introduced by Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.) and Rand Paul (R-Ken.), the one-page bill aims to undo the recent judicial ruling adopted in the Supreme Court. Legal experts believe the ruling dramatically expands the power of U.S. judges in issuing search warrants, as well as in granting the FBI unfettered access to any remote computer — even overseas…

The new ruling could give the FBI full access to remote computers with just a search warrant. Opposition from the Senate and elsewhere highlights the ongoing debate over law enforcement’s need to adapt to modern technology, versus the rights of individual citizens to be protected from prying eyes…

In the last six months of 2015, the U.S. law enforcement agencies requested information on nearly 5,200 Apple accounts, and some data was disclosed in 82 percent of those cases.

You might wish to nudge your own senators to sign on to the bill. So far, three have – one Republican, two Democrats. A pretty small number, so far, considering how much elected officials blather about caring for individual liberties.

cc: Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich

Federal court backs up Senate decision to hide the full CIA torture report

A federal appeals court has rejected a lawsuit calling for the full release of a U.S. Senate report detailing the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation and detention program following the Sept. 11 attacks.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled against the American Civil Liberties Union, which sought access to the more than 6,000-page document, often referred to as the “Senate torture report.”…

When the report was released in 2014, only a 500-page executive summary was made public. It said the CIA misled the White House and public about torture of detainees. Some captives were deprived of sleep for up to 180 hours, at times with their hands shackled above their heads, and the report recorded cases of simulated drowning or “waterboarding” and sexual abuse, including “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration” without any documented medical need.

I wonder what the response would be to a national referendum calling for “rectal feeding” of some of our elected officials?

The ACLU sued under the Freedom of Information Act in 2013 to obtain the full report prior to its release. Congressional documents are exempt from the law, but the ACLU said the Senate Intelligence Committee relinquished control when it transmitted the report to the White House and other agencies, which are subject to freedom of information requests.

The appeals court on Friday upheld a lower court’s decision in favor of the government.

Transparency becomes less and less a standard, a priority, for the government of the United States. Keep on rocking in the Free World!

The Air Force won’t even tell John McCain how much its next bomber will really cost


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The recently announced Long Range Strike Bomber is moving forward with one hidden feature that doesn’t make a lot of sense — its actual price tag.

Despite requests by Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Air Force has decided against releasing the final contract value to taxpayers and it stands by its decision only to release estimates.

Unfortunately, with a cost plus contract, the widely varied estimates that have already been publicly released, and the Department of Defense’s long history of drastically underestimating final program costs, McCain is right to ask the Air Force to release a final cost, not only to come clean with taxpayers but also for oversight purposes…

Air Force Lt. Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr., said blah, blah, blah, blah…but we’re also trying to protect the critical capabilities of this asset…

The B-21 program is estimated to cost about $42 billion, but estimates have ranged from $33 billion to $58 billion, with the latter being deemed to be a “regrettable mistake.”

McCain is extremely displeased that the Air Force isn’t releasing the final value of the contract. He’s not buying the service’s claim that people could connect the dots to learn something forbidden about the program. I can’t image any enemy of the state learning about the bombers’ qualifications and technologies from the public release of the actual contract price.

Having worked on military cost-plus contracts I have trouble keeping a straight face sitting here in front of my computer.

The oldest trick in the book in cost-plus-contracts is inflating so-called necessary/newly discovered costs. If your new military Bejeebus machine costs $100 million to produce and BITD you could put 6% profit on top – you made $6 million on each one you delivered to Uncle Sugar. So, the first thing you did was spend another million hiring the extra help you needed to follow the best quality control. No one questions better quality. No Congress-critter will want those extra jobs removed. The ancillary costs of the new quality control and expanded plant space needed for the new hires might run another $9 million.

Now the cost basis is $110 million and profit goes up 10% to $6.6 million for each Bejeebus machine…and so on. Stealing an additional 5 or 10% is only a start. There is incentive for cost overruns, folks. Increased profits being number one.