TYReads “Snowden’s future”

Snowden’s future @ Financial Times

With this article brimming with doublespeak, the Financial Times tries to convince the western and the global public opinion, shocked by the realization that the old USA is no longer a democracy but “something else”, into believing that Edward Snowden is a criminal and not what a growing body of public opinion thinks he is: a smart and articulate idealistic man, that to the best of his ability has tried to warn the world of what the USA is doing and of what that country has turned into.

The article subliminally addresses the floating and growing meme that America no longer stands for goodness and the Rule of Law, but for something darker, and tries to blur, dilute and deactivate this growing and well founded suspicion.

FT starts by declaring that Edward Snowden deserves being prosecuted:

“Whether Edward Snowden finds refuge in Ecuador, or elsewhere, the US government has no choice but to seek his extradition. Having violated his secrecy contracts, Mr Snowden has broken serious laws and should face the music. What he disclosed to The Guardian and Washington Post highlights the breadth of the US National Security Agency’s eavesdropping operation. But he did not uncover any breach of US law.”

This is highly debatable. He did not uncover any breach of US law? What about the US Constitution’s First and Fourth Amendments? Read this and make up your mind:

27 Edward Snowden Quotes About U.S. Government Spying That Should Send A Chill Up Your Spine @ Zerohedge

Pentagon Papers’ Ellsberg Says Snowden Saves Us From The “United Stasi Of America” @ Zerohedge

Snowden’ Second Interview To Hong Kong Paper: “I Am Not Here To Hide From Justice; I Am Here To Reveal Criminality” @ Zerohedge

Who Are The Real Traitors? @ The Burning Platform

Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts @ NYT

FT continues: “Comparisons to Daniel Ellsberg, the celebrated leaker of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, are particularly inapt.”

As you probably know, Daniel Elsberg is a former United States military analyst who, while employed by the RAND Corporation, precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War, to The New York Times and other newspapers.

Can Edward Snowden be compared with Daniel Elsberg? We believe he can. They have both risked their careers and well-being in order to warn public opinion about facts that the american government did try to hide. In Mr. Snowden’s case, his revelations uncover practices that conflict with the American Constitution. Mr. Snowden has not revealed any national security secrets beyond airing the fact that the NSA is listening to and reading everything about everybody…in the world.

FT concludes: “But before we treat Mr Snowden as a heroic whistleblower, it is worth remembering that he has reached out to governments that care little for the rights of their own people.” Unfortunately, his own government, that of the USA, is one of them.

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TYR reads “Survivorship Bias”

Survivorship Bias @ You Are Not So Smart in this delicious short essay David MacRaney, author of “Your Are Not So Smart”, explores survivorship bias, specially harmful when trying to “learn lessons” in order to improve our chances of success. A short biographical sketch of a forgotten genius, Abraham Wald, is a not minor plus of reading this article. As David MacRaney says:

The Misconception: You should study the successful if you wish to become successful.

The Truth: When failure becomes invisible, the difference between failure and success may also become invisible.

Some excerpts:

“Colleges and conferences prefer speakers who shine as examples of making it through adversity, of struggling against the odds and winning. The problem here is that you rarely take away from these inspirational figures advice on what not to do, on what you should avoid, and that’s because they don’t know. Information like that is lost along with the people who don’t make it out of bad situations or who don’t make it on the cover of business magazines – people who don’t get invited to speak at graduations and commencements and inaugurations. The actors who traveled from Louisiana to Los Angeles only to return to Louisiana after a few years don’t get to sit next to James Lipton and watch clips of their Oscar-winning performances as students eagerly gobble up their crumbs of wisdom. In short, the advice business is a monopoly run by survivors.”

“It might seem disheartening, the fact that successful people probably owe more to luck than anything else, but only if you see luck as some sort of magic. Take off those superstitious goggles for a moment, and consider this: the latest psychological research indicates that luck is a long mislabeled phenomenon. It isn’t a force, or grace from the gods, or an enchantment from fairy folk, but the measurable output of a group of predictable behaviors. Randomness, chance, and the noisy chaos of reality may be mostly impossible to predict or tame, but luck is something else. According to psychologist Richard Wiseman, luck – bad or good – is just what you call the results of a human beings consciously interacting with chance, and some people are better at interacting with chance than others.

“Wiseman speculated that what we call luck is actually a pattern of behaviors that coincide with a style of understanding and interacting with the events and people you encounter throughout life. Unlucky people are narrowly focused, he observed. They crave security and tend to be more anxious, and instead of wading into the sea of random chance open to what may come, they remain fixated on controlling the situation, on seeking a specific goal. As a result, they miss out on the thousands of opportunities that may float by. Lucky people tend to constantly change routines and seek out new experiences. Wiseman saw that the people who considered themselves lucky, and who then did actually demonstrate luck was on their side over the course of a decade, tended to place themselves into situations where anything could happen more often and thus exposed themselves to more random chance than did unlucky people. The lucky try more things, and fail more often, but when they fail they shrug it off and try something else. Occasionally, things work out.

““The harder they looked, the less they saw. And so it is with luck – unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. They go to parties intent on finding their perfect partner and so miss opportunities to make good friends. They look through newspapers determined to find certain type of job advertisements and as a result miss other types of jobs. Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there rather than just what they are looking for.” – Richard Wiseman in an article written for Skeptical Inquirer”

Survivorship bias also flash-freezes your brain into a state of ignorance from which you believe success is more common than it truly is and therefore you leap to the conclusion that it also must be easier to obtain. You develop a completely inaccurate assessment of reality thanks to a prejudice that grants the tiny number of survivors the privilege of representing the much larger group to which they originally belonged.”

“If you spend your life only learning from survivors, buying books about successful people and poring over the history of companies that shook the planet, your knowledge of the world will be strongly biased and enormously incomplete. As best I can tell, here is the trick: When looking for advice, you should look for what not to do, for what is missing as Phil Plait suggested, but don’t expect to find it among the quotes and biographical records of people whose signals rose above the noise. They may have no idea how or if they lucked up. What you can’t see, and what they can’t see, is that the successful tend to make it more probable that unlikely events will happen to them while trying to steer themselves into the positive side of randomness. They stick with it, remaining open to better opportunities that may require abandoning their current paths, and that’s something you can start doing right now without reading a single self-help proverb, maxim, or aphorism. Also, keep in mind that those who fail rarely get paid for advice on how not to fail, which is too bad because despite how it may seem, success boils down to serially avoiding catastrophic failure while routinely absorbing manageable damage.”

TYR reads “those who care, have known about this for a long, long time.”

Government Is Tracking Verizon Customers’ Records @ The Wall Street Journal. Some excerpts:

“The National Security Agency is obtaining a complete set of phone records from  all Verizon U.S. customers under a secret court order, according to a published account and former officials.”

“Verizon is required to provide NSA with “all call detail records” of customers, including all local and long-distance calls within the U.S., as well as calls between the U.S. and overseas…”

“Mr. Drake said call records are just a fraction of the data NSA is collecting, which also includes data about emails and data on any type of electronic communication, which includes iPads, Kindles and other mobile devices. All can be used to track the owner’s location. “It’s a total violation of the Fourth Amendment,” he said.”

“The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

“Congress voted last December to extend the expanded FISA surveillance law for another five years.”

White House Defends Its Wiretapping Of Millions Of US Citizens @ Zerohedge. One excerpt is enough:

“those who care, have known about this for a long, long time.”