Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Data Wars

The US Post Office is facing another financial hit with depressed stamp sales for the "winter holiday" (the celebration formerly known as Christmas) since folks are emailing and Facebook messaging and tweeting their greetings.

But are the technocrats happy about it? No way. Here’s the latest: 

A consortium of eight big time social media companies issued a public letter, printed in the nation’s top newspapers, urging President Obama (the president for whom they wielded every weapon in their digital arsenal to elect) to curb government surveillance that collects private user data from their websites, (e.g.,Yahoo, Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.) 

This practice of putting the pressure on someone you helped elect to public office is known as lobbying, and usually takes place behind closed doors. Gotta' hand it to these folks for being so brazenly transparent.

The newspapers apparently think so too. Here’s a line taken from a December 10, Arizona Republic article covering the issue, “Google CEO Larry Page and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, two of the richest people in the world, chimed in with statements urging the U.S. to adopt reforms to protect personal information.”

I had to read that twice myself. 

Kevin Bankston, policy director of the New American Foundations’ Open Technology Institute (the techies' guy) says the principles put forward by the “we-helped-you-so-now-it's-time-to-repay-the-favor” group include, “an unambiguous condemnation of bulk data collection as conducted by the NSA.”

But not their websites....Did I get that right?

Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of government snooping, but there hasn’t been a successful terrorist attack in this county for a dozen years now. And as for personal privacy, hey, that went out the window when we all signed up for our Google accounts and Facebook pages. As Pogo, the classic comic character was wont to say, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Think social media can’t turn the screws on the POTUS? Check out this Yahoo News piece about Obama at the Mandela service joining the attractive female Danish prime minister in a selfie while his wife looks on.;_ylt=AwrTWfzoz6hSnX4AVBbQtDMD  

That's a fun fight: this one is not: The Obama administration is granting wind farms immunity from prosecution and fines when their turbines kill or injure eagles (and 600,000 other birds per year).* Sadly, there’s little noticeable protest. Where’s PETA? The Audubon Society, Greenpeace? The Sierra Club?

Environmentalists can’t protest too loudly as they are committed to the government’s push to eliminate fossil fuel energy production. Still, it’s protests and fines and prosecutions that cause companies to come up with solutions for these issues. Even start-up companies. When mouths are silent, the situation continues unabated.

Here’s an interesting twist… Duke Energy was fined one million bucks just one month ago for their turbines killing 14 eagles at their Wyoming wind farms. In the settlement, as reported by the LA Times, “Both sides agreed that Duke had been cooperative and had already begun to make changes to cut down on bird deaths...

So, in less than a month, the fed changed its tune...Wonder if Duke will get a refund?   

Aunt Rose

 *  “According to an estimate published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin in March almost 600,000 birds are killed by wind farms in America each year, including over 80,000 raptors such as hawks and falcons and eagles….A wind farm industry spokesman countered by saying “We don’t kill as many as cars do.”

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