Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Intelligence Community protects our privacy from an overly inquisitive Senate

I only wish QT's Zay N. Smith was making this stuff up:
We Have Seen the Present, and It Does Not Work:
The National Security Agency has refused to tell two U.S. senators how many Americans it is spying on because that would "violate the privacy" of the Americans being spied upon.
Sadly,'s Danger Room blog confirms Mr. Smith's item... even providing this link to a .pdf copy of a June 15 letter to Senators Ron Wyden (D. Oregon) and Mark Udall (D. Colorado) from I. Charles McCullough III, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community. (Intelligence Community. Community. Doesn't that sound entirely benign?). Here's a relevant excerpt:

Clearly, the government is concerned about our privacy. Except when they want to invade it. Don't you feel better now?

UPDATE: More commentary at Lowering the Bar.

It really is an exciting time

From the webcomic xkcd by Randall Munroe.
Click on the link to read Mr. Munroe's embedded comment in situ.

A new Age of Exploration is underway. Will the United States participate?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

America Lost in Space - a continuing series

Three Chinese astronauts (or do you say taikonauts?) are in space this morning. The first Chinese woman to fly in space, fighter pilot Liu Yang, is part of the crew. Their mission, according to a Reuters account by Maxim Duncan in this morning's Tribune, is "to dock with the orbiting Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) 1 module launched last September, part of a 13-day mission crucial to China's ambition to put a space station in orbit around 2020."

Meanwhile, in the once-proud United States, we're still giddy about the private launching of a cargo rocket to provide supplies to the International Space Station, the place our astronauts get to by thumbing rides with the Russians.

One can only hope that the private sector will quickly find a way to achieve manned spaceflight, to get into space and stay there. Although... unsupervised corporate America or the Red Chinese in control of the ultimate high ground... is that a choice between the Devil and the deep blue sea?

News headline: Chicago to issue tickets for small amounts of marijuana possession

From the webcomic Married to the Sea, by Drew and Natalie Dee

If we really are still in a War on Drugs, is it time to seek a peace treaty?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Keeping your Durkins straight

There's been a lot of news lately about Chicago attorneys named Thomas Durkin of late. One of these (the one at right) is among the attorneys representing the NATO-3, the three out-of-towners picked up during the recent NATO Summit on state terrorism charges.

The CBS Chicago website refers to this attorney only as "Thomas Durkin," as does the ABC7 website.

But, although it did not do so originally, the Chicago Sun-Times has begun referring to this attorney as Thomas Anthony Durkin. As far as I can tell, the Chicago Tribune has referred to this attorney as Thomas Anthony Durkin right along.

The use of the attorney's middle name is important because another Chicago attorney named Thomas Durkin -- Thomas M. Durkin, a Mayer Brown partner, was recently nominated, just last month, to the Federal bench in Chicago.

That's Thomas M. Durkin, above.

Regular readers of this blog are, by definition, assumed to be sufficiently sophisticated to make this distinction between Durkins. But U.S. Senators may be more easily confused. Consider this, then, a public service.