Leaked Executive Order Gives Feds Control over Cybersecurity

Stroke of the pen, law of the land … kinda cool.” This nugget spoken by former Clinton adviser Paul Begala seems more than anything to be the guiding principle of the Obama Administration.

As is being widely reported, the White House is currently drafting an executive order giving the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) power to establish standards of cybersecurity purportedly protecting the “U.S. power grid from electronic attacks.”

BusinessWeek describes the new program as a “a council that would work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish the cybersecurity standards.”

Of course, the information being leaked about the proposed edict makes it clear that the adoption of such standards will be voluntary.

The threshold question that arises from the announcement of such a radical step toward federal control over our information infrastructure is not being answered. That is: Is the power grid of the United States being regularly attacked?

In a word: no. As Michael Tanji of Wired pointed out in a recent article refuting the government’s insistence that we are the target of frequent cyberattacks, “To start, these systems are rarely connected directly to the public internet. And that makes gaining access to grid-controlling networks a challenge for all but the most dedicated, motivated and skilled — nation-states, in other words.”

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EPA to World’s Hungry: “Let Them Eat Cake”

Ethanol corn mandates are not just useless.  When people are starving, these policies make the problem worse.  Much worse.

What’s the number one reason we riot?  The plausible, justifiable motivations of trampled-upon humanfolk to fight back are many—poverty, oppression, disenfranchisement, etc—but the big one is more primal than any of the above.  It’s hunger, plain and simple.  If there’s a single factor that reliably sparks social unrest, it’s food becoming too scarce or too expensive.  So argues a group of complex systems theorists in Cambridge, and it makes sense.

But how accurate is the model?  An anecdote the researchers outline in the report offers us an idea.  They write that “on December 13, 2010, we submitted a government report analyzing the repercussions of the global financial crises, and directly identifying the risk of social unrest and political instability due to food prices.”  Four days later, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire as an act of protest in Tunisia.  And we all know what happened after that.

“Recent droughts in the mid-western United States threaten to cause global catastrophe,” Yaneer Bar-Yam, one of the authors of the report, recently told Al Jazeera.  “When people are unable to feed themselves and their families, widespread social disruption occurs.  We are on the verge of another crisis, the third in five years, and likely to be the worst yet, capable of causing new food riots and turmoil on a par with the Arab Spring.”

Did you catch that?  “Recent droughts in the mid-western United States threaten to cause global catastrophy,” Why are recent droughts such a threat?  Because,

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End Run Around the Constitution Will Change How We Elect our President

Opponents of the Electoral College seek to alter a process that has worked for well over two hundred years. Unable to get two-thirds of the states to consider altering this part of the Constitution as required, some seek an end run around it instead. They say that the Electoral College is not democratic enough. They call their plan the National Popular Vote Plan. In it participating states would allocate their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, rather than the winner of the popular vote in their state.

There exists no language in the Constitution authorizing a popular vote for the executive branch of government. Such came about in 1824 after the Electoral College denied the presidency to Andrew Jackson, the most popular man in America due to his success in the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. His supporters, believing the denial to be an injustice, created a straw vote so that the people could participate in the election although this vote had no power.

Over time the media empowered it by treating it as the “legitimate” vote for the president belittling the College process as unfair and undemocratic. Seldom do they remind us that it works because we are not a democracy, but a Republic, and that none of the branches of government are democratic; most especially the Senate and Supreme Court. Andrew Jackson had to wait until he could convince the seasoned citizen voters of the Electoral College that he was not too emotional for the office. He did so four years later in 1828. Moreover, today the media seldom cover the real election for the president in December such is their disdain for it.

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