Monday, June 30, 2014

Contraceptives: The High Court Gets It Right!

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As you probably already have heard, the High Court ruled that closely-held corporations with limited numbers of stockholders do not have to pay for their employee's contraceptives.

My thoughts on this is the High Court got it right this time when they ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby.

"The Supreme Court put freedom of religion above reproductive freedom Monday in the most closely watched case of its term, ruling that companies cannot be forced to offer insurance coverage for certain birth control methods they equate with abortion," says Richard Wolf, USA TODAY (read more).

The question is, why should a small business of any kind have to violate the unified religious views of its owners by paying for contraceptives? My thought is that if employees don't like this, they have the right to go work elsewhere.

Hillary Clinton Disagrees
“I disagree with the reasoning as well as the conclusion,” Clinton said Monday, speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival carried live on Facebook. “It’s the first time that our court has said that a closely held corporation has the rights of a person when it comes to religious freedom,” says Hillary Rodam Clinton. “I find it deeply disturbing we are going in that direction” read more).

Of course, once again, Hillary has it wrong. Aren't you so glad we do not live in a dictatorship (yet)?


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visit www.OhioHootOwl.com.

Copyright©2014/Allan B. Colombo
www.alcolombo.us / al_colombo@hotmail.com
(Permission is given to republish blog posts providing
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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Report Outlines Extent to Which NSA is Spying on Society

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Spying has never been a pretty business. Those who do it for a living eventually accept it as a necessary evil. I suppose we should also--that is if we're really concerned about terrorism on this nation's soil.

With all of that said, however, it's obvious that there must be constraints in place that seek to prevent those who actively monitor society from misusing and abusing this technological power; and might I add that this tremendous power resides with the smallest of the small among those who work in the intelligence business.

Recently a report was released by the National Security Agency (NSA) that outlines its own spying activities.

The U.S. government on Friday for the first time released data on the scope of some of its most sensitive foreign intelligence-gathering efforts, saying that it had targeted nearly 90,000 foreign persons or organizations for surveillance through U.S. companies last year.

The release of the “transparency report,” issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, follows an order a year ago from President Obama to declassify and make public as much information as possible about certain sensitive surveillance programs.

Warrantless Wirepapping

One of the issues that sticks out when reading the Washington Post story is that of "warrantless" surveillance on the part of not only NSA but other intelligence-gathering entities across the board.

It was in 1952 when NSA was established. As part of the military establishment, NSA's mission then, as it still is today, is to affect surveillance against foreign targets to assure the integrity, security, and safety of these United States of America.

Limitations on how this is accomplished have been imposed on NSA over the years since its inception. This includes:

  • The Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, passed in 1968 by the Congress.
  • Executive Order 12036, effected by President Carter in 1978 that acts to prevent "electronic surveillance directed against a United States person abroad or designed to intercept a communication sent from, or intended for receipt within, the United States except as permitted by the procedures established pursuant to section 2-201".
  • The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), also passed in 1978.
  • In 2001, the passage of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which established clear standards for how telecommunications providers are to provide wiretapping information to government (The Implications of the Digital Telephony Act of 1994).
  • Also in 2001, John Yoo, former George W. Bush administration official, essentially gives the president authority to approve anti-terrorism tactics, including warrantless wiretapping.
  • A year later, in 2002, President Bush authorized NSA to conduct warrantless wiretaps on both foreign concerns and U.S. citizens in country through a secret executive order.
  • About a year later President Bush disclosed the existence of his secret wiretapping program to the Congress and later in the year the New York Times publishes a story that informed the public of its existence.
  • Etc...

In Conclusion

One of the reasons why all of this wiretapping is necessary is the openness of this nation. We let any Tom, Dick, or Mary enter through air travel and for the past two decades we're trying to affect "reasonable immigration laws" that essentially seek to negate common sense by allowing, again, every Tom, Dick, and Mary to cross the U.S./Mexican border w/o any meaningful rules and regulations.

Until this nation get serious about buttoning up our border and limiting air travel entry to only those who really need it, I won't believe for one moment that any of this makes sense. How can you seriously tell the general public with a straight face that all that can be done is being done by way of anti-terrorist tactics when you allow the Southern border to remain open?

The bottom line here is this: the Federal Gov't must enforce its own border laws before it can be taken seriously.


For personal security information and products,
visit www.OhioHootOwl.com.

Copyright©2014/Allan B. Colombo
www.alcolombo.us / al_colombo@hotmail.com
(Permission is given to republish blog posts providing
my contact information and copyright notice are included.)

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Friday, June 6, 2014

The "Open Data" Movement Takes Off

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Although the "open data" movement may be new to most of us, it began in 2009.

"At least 39 states and 46 cities and counties have created open-data sites since the federal government, Utah, California and the cities of San Francisco and Washington, D.C., began opening data in 2009, according to the federal site, Data.gov" (Source: http://www.govtech.com/data/Open-Data-Is-Open-for-Business.html).

What does open data do for cities, the federal gov, and commercial concerns?

"Open-data advocates, such as President Barack Obama’s former information chief Vivek Kundra, estimate a multibillion-dollar industry can be spawned by taking raw government data files on sectors such as weather, population, energy, housing, commerce or transportation and turn them into products for the public to consume or other industries to pay for.

"They can be as simple as mobile phone apps identifying every stop sign you will encounter on a trip to a different town, or as intricate as taking weather and crops data and turning it into insurance policies farmers can buy" (Source: http://www.govtech.com/data/Open-Data-Is-Open-for-Business.html).

Let's all ponder the potential here. The question in my mind is "how much data of a personal nature is included in these data depositories being published online for enterprising people and others to utilize for whatever end they so desire?"

Want to do some research or some simple reading on open data? Try this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Data.


For personal security information and products,
visit www.OhioHootOwl.com.

Copyright©2014/Allan B. Colombo
www.alcolombo.us / al_colombo@hotmail.com
(Permission is given to republish blog posts providing
my contact information and copyright notice are included.)

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Maybe Having a Smart Home Isn't all That Smart

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"Network World - A year ago, people were mostly talking about the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) — what companies and government entities might do in the future to take advantage of this widespread network of connected objects" (The Internet of Things gets real, Network World, http://bit.ly/1n6ntuC).

The fact is, people were talking about the Internet of Things (IoT) long before a year ago. In the mid- to late-1990s, for example, I was writing about this form of connectivity between machine and service provider/owner in the magazine I worked for as an associate editor (Security Distributing & Marketing).

Internet-Connected Appliances

One of the applications to which IoT lends itself well is that of maintenance updates to a variety of companies with regards to the equipment they sell. Examples include the following:
  • Refrigerators
  • Heating Plants
  • Air Conditioning Units
  • Washing Machines
  • Cloths Dryers
  • Conventional and Microwave Ovens
  • Chillers
  • Electrical Systems
  • Smart Electric Meters
..to name only a few.

A good example of what could take place when your conventional oven develops a problem is that an update of the situation is sent to either the manufacturer or the maintenance company of record over one of the in-house broadband connections. The update would provide important ID information that enables the company to generate a call ticket. You would then be notified of the problem and given an opportunity to have a repairman come to your home or business to fix it.

Back in the 90's, there was talk of including some type of infrared scanning system that would be capable of inventorying all of the foods you keep in your refrigerator. When you are running low, a notice would be sent to you in email, providing you with a shopping list of needs for your use. Or, at the same time, this list could be periodically generated and sent to the grocery store of choice for delivery to the home.

The Danger of Connected Appliances

In the 90's, when we thought of Internet-connected appliances, we thought in terms of Category 5E or Category 5e cabling. Today, all of these devices will connect to the Internet through the WiFi system in our homes and businesses.

Well, other than being irradiated by more radio waves banging around the house, we will come to the stage where your refrigerator can be hacked. We know our computers can be hacked. Recent news stories have revealed that chain stores, banks and the government can be hacked. Cellphones can be hacked, which by the way we pointed out to our readers several years ago. So now we approach the time when your Internet-connected house can be hacked. It seems silly, of course, but the reality is, if your freezer or furnace can be reached through the Internet, it may be that the device you use to control them can be hacked. Which means, as we extend this thought into total paranoia, your passwords could be as vulnerable to a meltdown as your freezer. Will hackers soon be eyeing your fridge?

As most of you know, one of the ploys used by hackers is to get you to respond to an email by clicking on a link or simply replying to an offer. The ensuing information, especially where you reply, carries valuable information that tells the hackers exactly where you are in terms of the World Wide Web. It provides the exact IP address so they can work to enter your home via the network.

Although service providers are not apt to give out your IP to those they do not know, as well to those who have no business having it, this kind of information can fall into the wrong hands by a variety of ways. Any one of these signals can draw the attention of hackers, and even though you may not think this could be destructive, think again.

Hacking Your Appliances

With all the data flowing in and out of your home between the various appliances and those responsible for their on-line care, it's even more likely that hackers can find their way to your home. Once they enter the network through your heat pump, it's possible to penetrate other devices on your network, including your computer.

For example, a hacker who gains access to your furnace could reprogram it. They might change the set points--which is the temperature it comes on and goes off. They might even alter the safety controls that safeguard your home from fire.

Hackers could also enter your refrigerator, perhaps turning it off, adjusting the temperature so it freezes all the food, or they might cause some other combination of undesirable events to take place. At the very least, they would have a complete list of everything you have in it.

Would you allow a stranger off the street to open your front door, walk in, and open your refrigerator door? I didn't think so.


For personal security information and products,
visit www.OhioHootOwl.com.

Copyright©2014/Allan B. Colombo
www.alcolombo.us / al_colombo@hotmail.com
(Permission is given to republish blog posts providing
my contact information and copyright notice are included.)

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Be sure not to miss each and every blog comment by subscribing to my email service. Every time I publish a comment or an update, you will be the first to know. To sign up, enter your email address in the email subscription box on the top right of this page. Thank you! To contact Al Colombo, click here.