Bloomberg:”NSA Said to Exploit Heartbleed Bug for Intelligence for Years”

Bloomberg business news service reports that “The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.”

Heartbleed is thought to effect as many as two thirds of the world’s websites, and may be the biggest security issue in the history of the internet. Researchers have developed a fix for it in the past few days, and many computer companies have implemented a patch in their systems to protect against Heartbleed.

Bloomberg further reports that “Putting the Heartbleed bug in its arsenal, the NSA was able to obtain passwords and other basic data that are the building blocks of the sophisticated hacking operations at the core of its mission, but at a cost. Millions of ordinary users were left vulnerable to attack from other nations’ intelligence arms and criminal hackers.”

Full report by Bloomberg @ http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-11/nsa-said-to-have-used-heartbleed-bug-exposing-consumers.html

Riverside Safe Access seeks to overturn ban on Medical Marijuana dispensaries

Riverside Safe Access is circulating a petition for a referendum to overturn the Riverside City ban on Medical Marijuana dispensaries. I have copies of the petition @ The Renaissance Book Shop (3772 Elizabeth Street, Riverside) so come on by to sign the petition, if you are registered voter in the City of Riverside. Deadline is in mid May.

The petition is supported by the Riverside County Libertarian Alliance.

Why is Government so Punitive?

It is almost the end of February, and many are still preparing their federal income tax. Perhaps you are also. And while you prepare to render unto Caesar, you have to make some decisions. Do you have an Individual Retirement Account? If so, how much will you pay into it? Do you have a Medical Savings Account? A decision about that also must be made near the beginning of the year.

If you save for retirement in an Individual Retirement Account, your tax bill is deferred on the amount you contribute to the account. But if you need access to some of the money before you reach the age of 59 and a half, you have to not only pay the income tax on the amount you withdraw, you must also pay a penalty to the federal government.

If you have a Medical Savings Account, you can pay for incidental medical expenses, co-pays, and your deductible, with money not subject to income tax. But be careful! If you put more into your account at the beginning of the year than you use in the year, you lose the balance. You cannot roll it over, even though that would help provide money for larger medical bills in the future.

Why is government so punitive? I guess they justify the tax penalty on Individual Retirement Accounts on the premise that if you withdraw money before you retire, the account is not serving its purpose of providing for your retirement. But paying a penalty to the federal government will not help you save for retirement either.

There is no justification for the “use it or lose it” rule for Medical Savings Accounts. Everyone knows that medical costs rise year after year, and saving year after year can be important when a major medical procedure is needed.

The Affordable Care Act also has its punitive side. By now, everyone has heard horror stories about big jumps in the cost of an insurance policy, mitigated somewhat by federal “subsidies.” Of course, the subsidies are really tax credits. The federal government will allow us to keep some of the money we earned, in order to pay the inflated premiums, and they expect us to be grateful for their “generosity.” The purpose of the tax credit “subsidies” is to disguise how much government rules have driven up the cost of medical insurance.

The Affordable Care Act mandates that every policy include a variety of benefits, each of which adds to the cost of the premium. In many cases, individuals are required to pay for benefits that they don’t need; older people who don’t need birth control subsidize the contraceptive benefit for younger people. At the same time, restrictions on raising premium rates for older people result in young people subsidizing older people. Ultimately, the choice is taken from the consumer, who is not allowed to choose the benefits for which he is willing to pay a premium, and all consumers lose.

While the ACA mandates a minimum list of benefits, and prohibits the sale of policies that don’t include the full list, you can also be punished if you buy a policy, or your employer provides a medical policy that includes too many benefits. The Congress imposed a tax on “Cadillac” policies, which provide a rich menu of benefits. This tax was included in order to help provide funding for the “subsidies” that the ACA provides, but it shows a complete contempt for Americans. You are required to buy the policy the government mandates – nothing less, and you are taxed if you buy more.

All these policies illustrate the basic fact that government is based on punishing those who do not find government mandates beneficial. Government does not try to persuade by showing benefits, but by threatening punishment. As George Washington noted long ago: “Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. It is force, and like fire, it is a dangerous servant.”

Glaser:”Don’t Get Too Comfortable With the GOP’s New Love For Libertarians”

In what many described as yet another indication of a monumental shift happening in the Grand Old Party, the Republican National Committee last week passed a resolution calling for an end to the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records.

But the party’s apparent shuffling to a more limited government, civil liberties-conscious platform may not be as genuine as some believe.

The RNC’s resolution, which passed by an “overwhelming majority,” declares “the mass collection and retention of personal data is in itself contrary to the right of privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

These are strong words for the party that stood by President George W. Bush when he secretly (and illegally) ordered the NSA to spy on the domestic communications of Americans without any warrants at all. Time magazine’s Zeke Miller branded the RNC’s resolution “the latest indication of a growing libertarian wing of the GOP.”

After noting these unexpected statements in defense of Freedom, John Glaser points out that prior to 2000, Republicans criticized big government and foreign interventionism by President Clinton, then elected George W Bush who expanded government even faster, and started two wars that continue to cost the American taxpayer years after he left office.

Mr Glaser also notes that Democrats criticized President Bush for his war, his deficits and his attacks on freedom, and now defend President Obama as he continues to expand government power.

Full commentary by John Glaser @ Reason http://reason.com/archives/2014/02/02/dont-get-too-comfortable-with-the-gops-n

Citizen’s United case has not led to massive corporate spending in politics – Politico

Today, January 21, 2014, is the fourth anniversary of the Citizen’s United decision, which extended free speech rights of individuals to corporations, trade unions and non-profit associations. Many have feared that this would lead to a massive flood of corporate money washing away all democratic competition in our elections.

Politico reports that “America’s largest companies haven’t used the Citizens United v. FEC case to open up their checkbook. Instead, most still prefer the time-tested avenues of political influence-peddling: industry trade associations, politically active nonprofits and company PACs that are limited to giving just $5,000 per candidate.”

The report does note that since the ruling, wealthy individuals and their campaign consultants have spent lavishly, competing for influence with the K Street lobbies that have dominated political fund-raising. Referring to a report by Demos, Politico notes that Corporations accounted for just 12% of contributions to Super PACs.

It would seem that fears of a corporate takeover of our democracy might be overrated.
Source:http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/citizens-united-four-years-later-102449.html?hp=l4

| THE 28ERS PRESENTS | Money as Speech: A Debate Worth Buying

The 28ers are a local group in Riverside, CA that advocate a 28th Amendment to the Constitution, to restrict the right of corporations to engage in political speech through campaign contributions. On Tuesday, January 28, 2014 the 28ers will sponsor a debate:

Resolved: Limiting Freedom of Speech Guarantees Freedom Speech

In this new century, how should the individual, and the society at large, define the notion of speech, especially in the case of money? Arguing for the resolution is Dr. Matthew Snyder, of UC Riverside, and arguing against is Gene Berkman, co-founder of the Libertarian Party of California.

In the event that Dick Kavit can’t make it, Elizabeth Ayala will be moderating the debate.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:

6:30 – 7:15: The Debate Ensues
7:15 – 7:45: Entertaining Questions from the Audience
7:45 – 8:05: Introducing The 28ers and The Riverside Libertarian Chapter

The debate will take place at:
Universalist-Unitarian Church
3657 Lemon St, Riverside, California 92501-2834

https://www.facebook.com/events/411785125591640/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular

Gallup:”Record High in U.S. Say Big Government Greatest Threat”

A new poll from the Gallup organization shows:
Seventy-two percent of Americans say big government is a greater threat to the U.S. in the future than is big business or big labor, a record high in the nearly 50-year history of this question. The prior high for big government was 65% in 1999 and 2000. Big government has always topped big business and big labor, including in the initial asking in 1965, but just 35% named it at that time

Gallup polling shows a trend of steadily increasing concern with big government since 2009
This suggests that government policies specific to the period, such as the Affordable Care Act — perhaps coupled with recent revelations of government spying tactics by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden — may be factors.

92% of Republicans saw big government as the biggest threat, along with 71% of Independents. Even with a Democrat in the White House, 56% of Democrats see a threat from big government.

Full results of the poll, along with a graph showing increasing opposition to big government, @ http://www.gallup.com/poll/166535/record-high-say-big-government-greatest-threat.aspx