Archive for June, 2013

RT: Assange to NSA whistleblower Snowden: ‘We are winning, but I hope you have a plan’

RT reports

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has voiced strong support for fellow whistleblower Edward Snowden, but urged him to escape Hong Kong immediately to avoid being “prosecuted for years”.

“I have called for exactly such actions in response to the surveillance state, and it is pleasing to see such simple, concrete proof,” Assange told RT, from the Ecuador embassy in London, where he has been holed up for a year.

Last week Snowden, a highly-paid software contractor, revealed the existence of PRISM, an overarching National Security Agency (NSA) program that collects vast amounts of personal online communication.

Assange said that he was aware that the US government was extensively collecting private citizens’ data, but admitted that he was “shocked” by how means of surveillance are “intermeshed into one single system”.

Classified documents leaked to the Guardian showed that the software, operational since 2007, was collating tens of millions of pieces of information each month from the protected inner servers of leading companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple.

On Monday, 29 year-old Snowden, a resident of Hawaii, disappeared from his hotel room in Hong Kong, where he has been for the past three weeks, and has not been contacted since Monday”

As much as this man has helped gained insight into workings of national security establishment, I still believe that he committed serious crime of disclosing top-secret information in a leak.  There other measures that could have been taken to disclose the information, but I think this guy wanted to be famous like Daniel Ellsburg.

At the time of Vietnam War, Daniel Ellsburg did a “crime of conscience”.   A “crime of conscience” is an act where somebody commits a serious crime of disclosing national security secrets for the greater good.  In my opinion, people who dilivuge such information as guilty of a crime.

Such action merit serious prison, but not life sentence unless the disclosure of information gravely harms US security.  In my opinion, this action does not merit grave security concerns, but rather discloses information that US citizens should know about.

However, disclosing classified information is serious felony.  While I believe that the government excessively overclassifies documents, I also believe that people who are entrusted with classified information have a moral duty not to disclose to the public.  A person should not have free reign to disclose classified information to the press unless there is imminent national security threat that threatens the citizens freedom.

The Prism program was a serious invasion of privacy, but it does not represent an imminent national security threat that threatens our democracy.   Rather, it shows the excessive reliance on gathering massive amount of metadata instead of properly targeting specific data from the technologies companies.  

In the end, there is needs to be special congressional investigation into the nature of these programs and proposed laws need to be design to prevent abuses of this technologies that are at the disposal at the NSA.     Snowden should be sentence to prison, but a mitigating circumstance should be noted in the sentencing because his work discloses potential abuses of federal government.   

If he make such reforms go through, Snowden will accomplish his goal even though he might to wear prison stripes for a few years.,

June 12, 2013 at 12:49 am Leave a comment

New Bus Route on Harbor Blvd

Via the OC Register 

ew bus service with an exclamation point in its name and fewer stops in its way will start shuttling passengers up and down Harbor Boulevard on Monday, with the first few days free.

The idea behind the new Bravo! bus service is simple: fewer stops means a quicker ride for the 13,000 riders who travel the main Harbor Boulevard route every day. The Bravo! buses will make the run between north Costa Mesa and Fullerton in about 45 minutes; the existing buses take about an hour, according to the Orange County Transportation Authority.

Article Tab: OCTA board chairman Greg Winterbottom speaks during a press conference for the launch of the Bravo! bus line Friday in Garden Grove. The OCTA's new, limited-stop service will begin service Monday; free rides being offered until Wednesday.
OCTA board chairman Greg Winterbottom speaks during a press conference for the launch of the Bravo! bus line Friday in Garden Grove. The OCTA’s new, limited-stop service will begin service Monday; free rides being offered until Wednesday.
MIKE GREENE, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

The Bravo! buses, painted with a splash of blue, will run only on weekdays, with departures every 10 minutes during peak times. They will be designated as Route 543, with 16 stops marked with a “B.” The existing Harbor Boulevard route, 43, is one of the busiest in Orange County and makes 52 stops; it will continue to operate alongside the Bravo! buses.

Rides on the Bravo! buses will be free from the first departure at 5 a.m. on Monday through Wednesday. After that, the fare will be the same $2 that it costs to ride other OCTA buses.

Go to octa.net or call 714-636-7433 for more information about the Bravo! service and its route.

The OCTA expects to roll out two other limited-stop bus lines in the next several months. The first of those is scheduled to start service on the 73 toll road, between Laguna Niguel and Costa Mesa, in October. The next will start service in February on the 22 freeway between Long Beach and Orange County; its final destination is still being worked out.

The Harbor Boulevard Bravo! buses will add about 30,000 service hours to Orange County’s bus system, at a cost of around $3 million, OCTA spokesman Joel Zlotnik said. That’s a small step toward recovering the 383,000 service hours that OCTA cut during the depths of the recession.”

For me, I personally do not care because I use the 47 and 57 most of the time to get down to Costa Mesa, but for some people, it will be faster to navigating one of the most busiest routes in Orange County.

It will save a lot of time for those who are trying to getting from Costa Mesa to Anaheim though.

June 10, 2013 at 3:55 am Leave a comment

Frank’s Lautenburg’s Seat

Fox News reports about the vacancy of Frank Lautenberg’s seat

“New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called Tuesday for a special election later this year to decide who will fill the seat of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, though he did not say whom he might appoint in the interim. 

The Republican governor, during a press conference in Trenton, said he wants to make sure New Jersey voters have a “voice and a choice” 

He set the primary for Aug. 13 and the general election for Oct. 16. 

The announcement ended some — but not all — of the speculation about Christie’s handling of the open seat. Lautenberg, a Democrat and the oldest member of the U.S. Senate, died Monday after complications from viral pneumonia at age 89. While colleagues paid tribute to the legacy of the World War II veteran, political observers launched into heavy speculation on how the popular Republican governor would move to fill the position. 

Christie faced conflicting state laws in deciding when to have the election. He could have waited until November 2014, or possibly this November. But Christie said Tuesday it was worth the expense to the state to hold a special election earlier”

If I were Chris Christie, I would try to select a Republican in the mold of Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins, a moderate Republican that sometimes will vote with the Dems on certain major issues, but on other, vote with the Republicans to maintain fiscal conservatism  It is important that a social moderate, pro-business friendly, and also pro-immigration reform Republican get elected to the Senate.  These are the type of the candidates that the Republicans need to run to get elected.  It does not that mean the Republicans have to give up being fiscal conservatives and business-friendly candidates.  They just need candidates that are not obsessed with scandals like Benghazi or make gaffes that land them as fodder for Jon Stewart monologues. 

Mr. Christie needs to be loyal to his party, but also he also should not try to allow tea party nutbags such as Ted Cruz elected.

(Fox News)

June 4, 2013 at 7:03 pm Leave a comment

Disneyland is Becoming A Rip-Off

I have always been a Magic Mountain myself.  Personally, I love all of the roller-coasters at Magic Mountain and Magic Mountain is $44.  $44 dollars.  However, according to the AP, Disneyland is now $92.  $92 bucks what a fricking ripoff.

$92 bucks and the idiots keeping on spending money on the Magic Kingdom. Personally, going to the Magic Kingdom does not give me any interest and I will never go now that tickets are $92.  

I just do not see the appeal of the Magic Kingdom and why people want to spend $92 on the Disney experience.  However, there is a bunch of Disney nuts that fess up $92 to go Disneyland so the park will keep rolling in the dough.

June 4, 2013 at 4:59 am 1 comment

College is Getting Worse and Far More Expensive

Back in the day,  I remember that Cal State Fullerton was $2,000 a year.   I graduated without any loans or student debt to worry about.  My merger $9.00 hour job at Home Depot was able to foot the cost of my books  However, the price of education has gotten progressive worse over the years.  

Today, people are the prisoners of debt as discussed in NY Times blog today

Unless Congress can overcome its partisan differences, interest rates on federally guaranteed Stafford loans, an important means of paying for college, will double to 6.8 percent in July.

With the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, proposes to reduce this interest rate to the same level that large banks pay for loans from the Federal Reserve Bank — 0.75 percent — for at least one year, during which longer-term remedies could be explored.

The bill, one of many aimed at addressing the scheduled interest-rate increase, seems unlikely to win passage. But it highlights the double standard that puts the interests of banks and other businesses well ahead of those of students and ordinary people when it comes to debt relief.

As Robert Kuttner explains (both in The New York Review of Books and in his new book “Debtors’ Prison”), bailouts and bankruptcy proceedings both provide a means for businesses to get out from under bad debt. The obligations of a college loan, by contrast, “follow a borrower to the grave.”

The rolling thunder of accumulating student debt sounds a lot like the perfect storm of mortgage liabilities that threatened major financial institutions and precipitated the Great Recession in 2007″

It gets worse as illustrated by this blog post from Business Insider

At 44 years old, Nicole Jackson says she has bigger concerns than the six-figure student loan debt that has shadowed her for the last 20 years.
Jackson, a Miami, Fla.-based family law attorney, gave up on ever paying off her $186,000 federal student loan balance years ago. At $1,600 per month, her monthly loan payments eclipsed her $1,200/month mortgage and she and her husband are raising three teenage daughters.
“The way I see it, I’m already screwed,” Jackson told us. “I’d rather make sure my kids are OK. Unless I start making significantly more money [my situation] is not gonna change.”
With the nation struggling under a $1 trillion student debt crisis, stories like Jackson’s are nothing uncommon. For the first time ever, the national student loan default rate exceeds the credit card delinquency rate, and so long as student loans remain one of the few types of debt that can’t be discharged in bankruptcy, chances are the situation won’t improve any time soon”

$144,000? That is ton of debt.  No wonder why young people struggle to buy a house or other things.  The cost of student loan prevents young families to buy new housing and therefore, is preventing a number of first-time homebuyers from buying into the market.

In addition, the storm of debt is another thing that bring the house of cards done.  I do not know if it is going to drag down the entire economy, but another major financial crisies compounded with the student debt debacle would torpedo the country into a major depression.

Steps needed to be taken now to reduce student indebtness before the economy faces another major disaster.   Such a economic disaster who reign hell on this economy and threaten to generate youth unemployment to the levels of Greece and Spain as I pointed out in my last post.

June 3, 2013 at 4:19 am Leave a comment

Complaining About Not Having A Job? Try Living in Greece or Spain

Currently, I am looking for a job in the finance/accounting field.  Finding a job is that not easy especially when you do not have any direct experience as a financial accountant or financial analysis.  There is a lot of jobs that I qualify for, but it will take a lot of time to find one.  If all job hunting fails, at least, there is a lot of telemarketing jobs available just in case there is a lack of work out here.

So the job market is the US is rather lackluster, but is not as bad as Greece or Spain.  The numbers in Greece, especially youth unemployment is especially horrifying as stated in this blog post

“The EU unemployment rate set a new all-time high of 12.2 percent, according to today’s estimates. But it’s the youth unemployment crisis that’s truly terrifying. In Spain, unemployment surged past 56 percent, and Greece now leads the rich world with an astonishing 62.5 percent of its youth workforce out of a job

My God, look at Greece’s trajectory. That thing isn’t slowing down. Since April 2012, Greek youth unemployment has grown by about one percentage point a month. At that rate, it would pass 70 percent in early 2014. 

It is suddenly not insane to imagine a youth unemployment rate of 70 percent in the developed world. And that is insane.

It should be noted that some people consider youth unemployment figures a bit hyperbolic. They prefer measures like “youth unemployment ratio, which takes the share of young people who are looking for work but can’t find it and divides it by the entire population. Last year, the EU’s youth unemployment ratio was 9.7 percent , less than half the youth unemployment rate of 23 percent.

But even the ratio fails to account for the millions of young people who have all but given up in their awful economies. There are 26 million young people in rich countries who are as “NEETS” (Not Employed, or in Education, or Training), according to the OECD.”

That is entirely messed up.  An entire generation will be lost to unemployment and that does not spell good news for Greece or Spain.  This kind of stuff fuels popular revolutions that take down governments and force a dramatic shift to socialism, communism or worse, fascism..

This is the type of conditions that brought down the Romanav’s dynasty. It led to rise of Hitler.  It is scary because internal unrest can get a lot more of worse.  It should also warn US lawmakers that any budget-cutting beyond the sequester should not occur.  

As bad as economic conditions are the US, we should be grateful that there are still jobs out there.   There are companies looking for entry-level workers out there.  The only problem in the US is that very experienced workers like me apply for the job with tons of experience and are willing to take the pay cuts.  

However, we do not have the scary numbers that Greece or Spain does and that should keep America stable for years to come.  I believe that as long we manage our debt level to a sustainable level and not engaging in massive austerity like the Europeans do, that we should be able to maintain some level of stable economic growth for the future. 

Truly we should be grateful to live here, because other places, it is lot of worse than here.

June 2, 2013 at 4:25 am Leave a comment


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