A Right Old Mess!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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political hypocrisy

It seems there is no end to the political hypocrisy that has taken over our well surveilled world.

I wrote a post a few days ago about the Belgian government wanting Skype to hand over confidential customer data. I called it ‘Taking A Swipe At Skype’ (if you want to read it click here )

In a previous post called, ‘What Is The German Word For Hypocrite?’ (if you want to read that one click here) I had a bit of rant against the hypocrisy of Germen Chancellor Angela Merkel who professed great anxiety publicly about the Americans snooping in on her phone calls while she and her intelligence agencies were in cahoots with the US to spy on other European countries.

Now a week or so later the two stories have merged with yet another piece of hypocrisy, this time by the Belgians who have announced that they are starting an official investigation into allegations that Belgium’s telecommunications networks were spied on by a consortium of German and American intelligence agencies.

telecommunications network

In other words, it is okay for the Belgians to snoop on Skype users, but not okay when someone else wants to snoop on the Belgians.

If that’s not another good example of hypocrisy I don’t know what is.

Specifically the targets in Belgian sights are the United States National Security Agency and Germany’s Bundesnach-richtendienst (BND) and an operation that they referred to as ‘EIKONAL’.

The Belgians found out about the snooping when Austrian politician Peter Pilz blew his whistle at a press conference in Bern, Switzerland, saying that EIKONAL had targeted European telecommunications carriers for at least four years, from 2005 to 2008.

Spokesmen for the Belgian government have said that if the alleged espionage is confirmed, it would have “not only legal implications, but will also affect relations between Belgium, Germany and the US”. It also threatened to “take appropriate action” but didn’t specify what that would be – they probably don’t know yet.

Switzerland and the Netherlands flags

Needless to say, the governments of Switzerland and the Netherlands were not amused by the revelations either and immediately launched their own investigations into this thing called ‘EIKONAL’.

It’s all turning into what they call “a right old mess”.

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Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire – Some Hot Facts!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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We’ll get to one of the biggest liars America has produced later.

But ahead of that have a look at another selection of fasab facts.

And…

Enjoy.

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cartoon leader of the leader of the free world

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There is a lake in Australia called Lake Hillier

that is a bright shade of pink.

Unlike with other similar lakes,

scientists are still not completely sure why.

Lake Hillier Australia

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Bill Nye the Science Guy

originally wanted to be an astronaut,

but NASA kept rejecting him.

Bill Nye the Science Guy

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In 476 AD the Western Roman Empire fell

and the Eastern Empire survived

as what we know today as the Byzantine Empire.

Byzantine Empire map

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Charlie Chaplin once lost a

Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest

Charlie Chaplin

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Although there have been emails floating about

for years containing many false facts about

Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy,

there were a few that are true and interesting.

Lincoln was elected to congress in 1846,

Kennedy in 1946.

Lincoln became president in 1860,

Kennedy in 1960 (though sworn in 1961).

And both were eventually shot in the head on a Friday.

Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy

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Inca mail was delivered along their network of roads

by way of messengers who would hand mail off

to each other using a sort of relay system.

A bit like the Pony Express without the ponies!

Inca mail

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1% of the world’s population

eats at McDonalds every day.

McDonalds meal

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Named by a Japanese scientist after

a 3rd-century Japanese shaman queen, Himiko,

is a giant gas cloud and one of the largest

objects ever found in space.

With a length of about 55,000 light years,

the cloud is roughly the equivalent

mass of 40 billion Suns.

3rd-century Japanese shaman queen, Himiko

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The top ten feet of the oceans

holds the same amount of heat

as the entire atmosphere

ocean

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In the early 20th century, scientists thought

our nerves transmitted information electrically.

After a dream, Dr. Otto Loewi awoke during the night

and scribbled some thoughts on a paper.

Upon waking in the morning,

he realized  he had written about information

being transmitted chemically,

later proven to be true and

winning him the Nobel Prize in 1936.

Dr. Otto Loewi

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Justinian was the last emperor

to use the title ‘Caesar’.

Justinian

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A liar tends not to use contractions.

For example, “I didn’t do it”

statistically tends to be a more truthful

statement that “I did not do it”.

Remember Bill Clinton,

he didn’t say, “I didn’t do it”,

he said,

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

He lied.

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Wonder When They’ll get Round To Making Blogging Illegal?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Dennis_Hastert

While he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, the former Speaker, Dennis Hastert, used his political power and connections to enrich himself. No shocks there. He is just one among many politicians who routinely do likewise.

But unlike most of the others, Hastert was charged by the Feds with five felonies, each of them carrying a minimum of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

But, before you get the wrong idea and start to cheer, Hastert’s use of political leverage for personal gain has nothing to do with the charges against him.

What he did when in office was merely corruption and we live in a corrupt political system that those in charge like to call ‘democracy’.

No, Hastert has apparently committed a far worse crime than political graft. And it wasn’t anything to do with the leaks doing the rounds that he had been paying off a high school student for alleged sexual abuse decades ago. He hasn’t been charged with anything related to that either.

Instead, he has been pursued and indicted for the heinous crime of

…wait for it…

“structuring” cash withdrawals from his bank accounts so as to avoid federal bank reporting requirements, and lying to the FBI about what he was doing with his money.

handcuffs dollar

Now, I could care less what they do to a corrupt politician like Hastert. There is a certain irony that he has been caught by a law that he probably helped to create.

But the problem is that many of us could be similarly indicted simply because most of us don’t even know we are committing a crime in the first place.

Stupid bureaucrats have enacted so many laws in recent years, using misleading cover titles such as ‘money laundering’, ‘terrorist threats’, or ‘national security’, that they have turned millions of law-abiding people into de facto criminals, without them even knowing it.

The piece of invasive and unnecessary legislation that Hastert has been caught breaking is the ‘Bank Secrecy Act of 1970’, which makes it compulsory for U.S. banks to file a “currency transaction report” for deposits or withdrawals of more than $10,000 in currency. Banks suspicious of specific transactions are further required to file a “suspicious activity report.”

If the banks don’t capitulate to this government nonsense then they face penalties. This means that the banks comply, over-zealously so as not to ever infringe the regulations – which many of them don’t even understand. Now as a matter of routine they report ALL large cash transactions as suspicious, whether they really are or not.

Hastert didn’t intend or commit any money laundering, fraud or tax evasion. But the authorities don’t care about that. He had a legal and legitimate agreement in place with another individual and he withdrew his money in smaller amounts because he didn’t want this private arrangement to become public knowledge. The Justice Department even admits as much. But the authorities don’t care about that either.

So why have they charged Hastert when they know he really did nothing wrong apart from infringe on a stupid law that was never intended to catch the likes of him?

They did it to terrorize the rest of us.

Soviet control

What most western governments are about nowadays is control. The type of control that used to pervade communist states in the Soviet era. They want to criminalize ordinary people by making trivial and harmless acts into major felonies.

Woe betide you now if you want to spend you own money or transfer it to someone else. It’s your money, you earned it, you saved it up, but touch it in a way not specified by the government and you’re in Federal Court, you criminal bad person you!

All these spurious and unnecessary laws give government law enforcement agencies the ability to punish anyone at any time because there are so many regulations that everyone is in breach of something.

Wonder when they’ll get round to making blogging illegal?

Think I’m joking???

Blogging illegal? Close up of wooden gavel at the computer keyboard

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Taking A Swipe At Skype

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Skype_logo

No, it’s not me who is taking a swipe at Skype. I use Skype a lot for communicating with people. I find it particularly good for contacting friends in foreign lands, which you can do for free, but also for making paid telephone calls too.

I have been using it for over a decade, almost from it started, and long before it was bought by Microsoft. Although other flavors have arrived on the scene I stick with Skype.

It’s the comfort of familiarity, something I wish the nerds at WordPress would pay attention to instead of continually making smart-ass changes that no one has asked for or wants. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it guys!

But getting back to Skype, it has now become a victim of the snoopers – again!

This time it has been told it has to appear before a court in Belgium because it refused to hand over customer data following a request for assistance by the Federal Computer Crime Unit of the Federal Judicial Police (FCCU) in a ‘criminal investigation’.

Microsoft acquires Skype

Microsoft has been very sensitive to appearing to buckle under when requested to release information about its Skype users ever since it was alleged that it had changed the architecture of the communications software to make it more “wiretap friendly”, something which it has always denied.

Despite Microsoft releasing transparency reports stating that it had not handed over the content of any Skype conversations in response to regular law enforcement requests, privacy and security analysts remain unconvinced.

Unfortunately, as usually happens when the lawyers get to work, the fundamental importance of this case – which is government’s mania for trying to remove the right to privacy of its citizens – gets lost in spurious legal arguments.

cartoon lawyers

Now, instead of defending the right to privacy, the court’s time is being taken up with deciding whether or not a VoIP service like Skype should be treated as a telecoms operator in Belgium. If it is then it would have to comply with Belgian regulatory requirements for telecoms operators and release data to the snoopers.

I said earlier that the request by the Belgian snoopers is in regard to a ‘criminal investigation’ but the alleged crimes under investigation have not been specified, nor has the identity of the suspect or suspects.

It’s another one of those government catch-all phrases like ‘terrorist activity’ or ‘national security’ that are used as a cover for intrusions into people’s privacy whenever they feel like it.

government Snooping

The result of this Belgian case will be an interesting marker for future attacks on the privacy of Skype users. My guess is that if the snoopers win their case then Skype should brace itself for a multitude of similar requests from governments all over the world. If on the other hand the courts rules in favor of the privacy of Skype users then the government will simply put their hackers to work and try to get the information illegally as they have done and are doing.

So it’s another one of those ‘heads’ privacy loses and ‘tails’ the snoopers win.

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There Is Only One Batman In The World – Yes, It’s Fact Day.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Yes, today is fact day on the fasab blog.

And apparently there is only one batman in the world.

That and other unusual offerings below.

Enjoy.

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fact 01

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In Germany you are not allowed

to run out of gas on the highway

 German autobahn traffic

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Although there are McDonald’s restaurants

in 119 countries,

40% of the total number are found in the US.

The only place in the continental US

that is more than 100 miles from a McDonald’s

is a desert in northwest Nevada.

 McDonald's sign Ruby Mountains Nevada

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The mayor of Batman city in southeastern Turkey

sued Warner Bros for using his city’s name

without permission.

“There is only one batman in the world”

he was quoted as saying.

 Batman

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The Museum of Non-Visible Art

sells art that only exists

in the imagination of the artist.

In 2011 a moron

– sorry, a woman –

bought one of their “non-visible”

art pieces for $10,000.

I wonder if she hung it on her imaginary wall

in her imaginary house???

 Empty-picture-frame Museum of Non-Visible Art

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In space,

about 10 billion light years distant,

there is an enormous water vapor cloud

that is estimated to hold up to 140 trillion times

the mass of water found in all Earth´s oceans.

 black-hole-quasar-water-cloud

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And still with space,

in typical bureaucrat fashion,

just in case life is found on some other planet,

NASA has an Office of Planetary Protection

already prepared.

 NASA Office of Planetary Protection

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The cardboard thingy that goes around

your coffee cup is called a ‘zarf’.

 zarfs

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The inventor of the diesel engine,

Rudolf Diesel,

committed suicide because he thought

his invention wouldn’t be successful.

 Rudolf Diesel

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Despite being the largest pre-Colombian American empire,

the Incas never developed a written language.

Thus there are no census records available

and estimates of the size of the Inca population has

varied widely from 4 million people to nearly 40 million.

 inca_man

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Karl Marx was once a correspondent

for the New York Daily Tribune.

 karl marx new york daily tribune

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Abraham Lincoln dreamt of his own assassination

just a few days before it happened.

He dreamt he could hear sad wailing in the White House

and, in getting up and trying to find it,

finally came upon a room with

mourners and his own corpse…

 Abraham Lincoln dreamt of his own assassination

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The first official fan-made music video

was Grégoire Pinard’s claymation video

of Placebo’s song “English Summer Rain”.

The band were so impressed that

they decided to make it official.

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They Got Away With It AGAIN!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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banks admit forex manipulation

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Last week several of the ‘BIG’ banks – you remember, the ones that are too big to let go bust – were fined in the region of $5.7 billion for illegal manipulation of the currency markets.

The usual suspects were included, J P Morgan, Citibank, Barclays  and RBS all pleading guilty – but only after they were sure what the medicine they would be getting would be.

It’s a huge amount of money, there’s no denying that. And losing it will make the banksters hurt a bit. But only a bit.

And that’s the problem.

Yet again the United States government has failed to bring these criminals to justice after more of their deliberate fraud and theft.

In other words, they let them get away with it AGAIN!

Major Banks

Now, if I walk into a branch of, for example, Citibank and try to steal the money that their customers have deposited with them for safe-keeping, I would be videoed, photographed, and if I was lucky enough to get out of the premises, pursued by the police and even the FBI for as long as it took to capture me.

And I couldn’t have any complaints because that’s the way it should be. Thieves should be sought out, captured and after due process thrown into jail.

However, if I am a bankster, have good government contacts, and ply money and favors to those in government, then I am treated very differently.

big banks get out of jail free

I can embark on insider trading (which is essentially what the banksters were doing when they were illegally manipulating the currency markets), I can sell loans to people that clearly can’t afford them, then take their houses away or sell on their debt wrapped up in a ‘AAA’ bundle to my richer customers, and after all that steal even more of the money my customers have entrusted to me by awarding myself and my collaborators big bonuses that none of us have earned or are entitled to.

In this scenario am I pursued by the police and FBI?

Nope.

Am I thrown in jail to be the bitch of Skull-cracker Jones or Scarface Smith?

Nope.

Will I have to personally pay back the money I stole?

Nope, again.

So what will happen to me if I am a bankster?

At worst I will get a slap on the wrist and told not to do it again. Even though recent history has proved that this is no deterrent and I will do it again at the first opportunity I get.

And, of course, I don’t have to personally pay the government’s fine no matter how big it may be. Instead my company has to cough up on my behalf.

Not that the company is much bothered either because when it runs out of money it goes back to the government which hands it back at least the value of the fine and usually much, much more.

Think this system is fair?

Neither do I.

jail the banksters

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What Do Creflo Dollar And Me Have In Common?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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creflo dollar

I hope there aren’t too many things that Creflo Dollar and I have in common. But the one thing that I am sure of that we do have in common is that neither of us own a $65 million private jet. (We’d probably both like to but that’s a whole different story.)

Creflo, if you don’t know already, is one of those despicable TV preachers who spend 99.9 percent of their time trying to swindle money out of gullible and stupid people who think he is really a ‘man of God’.

This pastor’s latest attempt to enrich himself at the expense of his congregation was just as blatant piece of greed and fraud as I’ve come across.

He wanted $65 million.

Nothing wrong with that, if he was going to spend it building a hospital wing, feeding the poor, housing the homeless, or some other equally good works.

But Creflo wanted the $65 million to buy himself a private jet, and a pretty swanky one come to that.

creflo-dollar-airplane

I know what you’re thinking.

I thought the same.

But it turns out that Creflo didn’t want the jet for personal gain, although he would end up owning it and using it.

Oh, dear me no, not at all.

Creflo just wanted to use the private jet to transport food to the starving peoples of the world. Oh yes, and to save the lives of Christians being persecuted in the Middle east.

Personally, if these were indeed the reasons for wanting an airplane, I’d have set my sights on something a little more modest and of the cargo, rather than the luxury passenger, variety. You can pack a heck of a lot more boxes of food into an empty cargo fuselage than you can into one crammed with plush leather reclining seats, plama TV screens, beds, drinks cabinets and all the other luxury fittings you can find in a bespoke Gulfstream private jet.

It didn’t work of course. Thankfully.

It transpired that not even the type of gullible Americans who watch this kind of TV trash fell for Creflo’s obvious display of greed and self-agrandisement. After disappointing results and adverse publicity the web page soliciting donations for the private jet disappeared – and so did Creflo.

For a while, that is.

But he came back and when he did he had the usual religious scammer’s excuses all lined up. The reason for his disappearance was because he was “talking with God” – not the real one of course, but his own personal version, the one who only told him what he wanted to hear.

And his fake god told Creflo that his scam to get himself a private jet had failed because the ‘forces of evil’ had interfered with his plans and set out to discredit him.

one of Creflo Dollar's cribs
one of Creflo Dollar’s modest little cribs

 

It’s a pity they hadn’t got to work on Creflo before now. Before he was able to scam his supporters out of enough money to buy him a million dollar home in Atlanta, another $2.5 million home in Manhattan, a Rolls-Royce motor car, and just enough money to buy one private jet back in 1999.

I wish we had heard the last from people like Creflo.

But somehow I doubt it.

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Titanic, Tic Tacs And Trailers. It’s Fact Day.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Welcome to another fact day at the fasab blob.

Last one for May 2015. Time flying as always.

This selection includes facts about the Titanic Tic Tacs and trailers, and lots more.

Enjoy.

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did you know3

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Light pollution usually doesn’t have a

significant impact on humans but it

causes major problems to many animals.

Birds often confuse days and nights and

scientists found out that light pollution can

change migration patterns in some animal species.

 Light pollution

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The Titanic was so big that 176 men were needed

just to shovel coal into its furnaces

 Titanic boiler room

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Although Tic Tac’s claim to have 0 sugar,

they consist of nearly 98% sugar!

This is because the size per serving is

.49 grams and according to the FDA a food

cannot be labeled “sugar free” unless it

contains less than .5 grams of sugar per serving!

How sweet!

 Tic Tac

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Bulgaria is the oldest country in Europe and

it hasn’t changed its name since 681 AD

 Bulgaria map

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When Soviet archaeologists opened the tomb

of Tamerlane, a Mongol descendant of Genghis Khan,

they found an inscription that read,

“Whoever opens my tomb will unleash

an invader more terrible than I.”

It was June 20 1941.

Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22.

 tomb of Tamerlane

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The only part of a Swiss Army Knife not

made in Switzerland is the corkscrew.

It is made in Japan.

 Swiss Army Knife

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Mothers become emotionally attached to their

children prior to birth by the virtue of

carrying the child in their wombs.

According to some studies men won’t become

emotionally bonded to the child for several months

after birth when the infant begins to smile, respond,

and interact with him.

 mother baby bond

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During Peter the Great’s reign in Russia

there was a beard tax which

anyone with a beard had to pay.

 Beard_token

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Nobody knows how the Mayan Empire declined.

Long before the Spanish came many of the great

cities had already been long abandoned and lay in ruins.

Scholars have hypothesized reasons ranging from

drought and famine to overpopulation and climate change.

 Mayan Empire

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JRR Tolkien’s estate only received $62,500

for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy

until a lawsuit was filed.

 Lord of the Rings film trilogy

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In June 2010 Oscar the cat received bionic limbs

to replace his original ones lost in an

accident with a combine harvester.

 Bionic-Cat

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Movie trailers were so named because they

were originally designed to play AFTER the movie,

but when marketers realized that people don’t tend

to stick around when a movie has finished they

started to play them at the beginning of the main movie!

Here’s an example…

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First The Yanks, Now The Canucks! Where Will It All End?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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First it was the Americans.

Now the Canadians want in on the act too.

What act?

The act of handing more powers to its intelligence agencies.

Canadian SIS

Yes, the Canadian government has passed a controversial anti-terrorism Bill, 183 votes to 93, to extend the powers of the country’s spy agencies.

It’s all in the interests of national security of course. The excuse or cover being used is the recent – and first ever – terrorist attack on Canadian soil last October, in which a gunman attacked the country’s parliament, shot a soldier on ceremonial guard duty and was subsequently killed himself.

The new legislation gives Canada’s spooks the ability to make preventative arrests. In other words, like America’s controversial ‘extraordinary rendition’, the Canadian Intelligence Service will be able to take “measures to reduce threats to the security of Canada, including measures that are authorized by the Federal Court”. And they can do it inside Canada as well as in other countries.

All well and good.

But tacked on to the legislation is the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act, which hands government agencies “increased information disclosure powers”, which is a nice way of saying they can snoop on almost anyone and everyone as and when they want to.

canada-spying

 

They are going to keep Canadians safe by listening to their phone calls and reading their emails, just like they do in America.

Doesn’t it give you a nice warm feeling of security?

Nope, me neither!
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