NSA Lobbies to Keep Spying on Your Phone - The Friday AM Quickie 7/28/23

I got a flip phone to detox from doom scrolling, but is it ever hard to answer texts with that thing.- Robert

(Correction: I said yesterday that the "Nigerian government" is being overthrown in a coup, it should have been "Nigerien government," as in the country Niger, not Nigeria.)

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NSA Lobbying to Maintain Backdoor to Buy Data on Citizens

An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, introduced by Reps. Warren Davidson (R-OH) and Sara Jacobs (D-CA), would bar military agencies from purchasing data on citizens from third-party brokers without a warrant. But National Security Agency (NSA) officials are lobbying to scrap the amendment, according to Wired.

It's still not public information how much privately purchased data the NSA uses.

The extent to which the NSA in particular uses data brokers to obtain location and web browsing data is unclear, though it has previously acknowledged using data from “commercial” sources in connection with cyber defense. Regardless, the NSA’s lawyers have authored extensive guidelines for acquiring commercially available data, particularly when it belongs to US companies or individuals. Some of the rules prescribed by the agency’s lawyers remain classified.

But it sure is a convenient method for them to get the data without needing the courts to sign off.

A government report declassified by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence last month revealed that US intelligence agencies were avoiding judicial review by purchasing a “large amount” of “sensitive and intimate information” about Americans, including data that can be used to trace people’s whereabouts over extended periods of time. The sensitivity of the data is such that “in the wrong hands,” the report says, it could be used to “facilitate blackmail,” among other undesirable outcomes. The report also acknowledges that some of the data being procured is protected under the US Constitution's Fourth Amendment, meaning the courts have ruled the government should be required to convince a judge the data is linked to an actual crime.

The House of Representatives passed the amendment over a week ago, and similar legislation called the "Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act" has been advanced in the Senate which would protect the purchase of Americans' data from all police and intelligence agencies.

Maine to Vote for State-Run Power Company, Bernie Approves

A November ballot initiative in Maine would create the first state-wide public power company, called Pine Tree Power, and it has support from its New England neighbor Bernie Sanders, per the Portland Press Herald.

“This year, Mainers are facing price-gouging and immoral disconnection notices from multinational utility companies. Power belongs in the hands of the people, not greedy corporations,” Sanders said in a statement provided by Pine Tree Power. “Fortunately, Mainers have a rare chance to take control of an important part of their daily lives. Instead of a private power system that last year sent $187 million in profits out of the country, Mainers can have cheaper, more reliable power—and help fight climate change at the same time.”

The publicly-owned, not-for-profit utility would consist of a 13-member elected board with a mix of Mainers and experts. The Press Herald reports that Pine Tree Power is being outspent 17-1 by private utilities. Pine Tree Power would be a cool ballot initiative to campaign for, just saying.

Trump Likely to Face at Least Five Trials Before Election

Axios created a helpful timeline for Trump's legal gamut and how it lines up with election season: the Iowa caucuses will line up with E. Jean Carroll's defamation case on January 15th, and the classified documents case is scheduled for about a month before the Republican National Convention. However, the new charge of Trump instructing an aide to delete Mar-a-Lago security footage to hide it from investigators could delay the documents case significantly, according to the Washington Post. In addition to the defamation case and the documents case, Trump also faces trial for the alleged fraud by the Trump family and organization, the falsified business records case in the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, and a class-action lawsuit for a pyramid scheme. Charges for Georgia's election interference have yet to drop, so it's unclear if that case will be heard before election day.


  • Tesla Drivers Thought Cars Were Broken Due to Exaggerated Range A decade ago Tesla rigged its range-estimating software to show a long driving range. When the battery charge fell below 50 percent, the vehicle would show a more realistic range. via Reuters.
  • Maritime Smuggling of People to South Florida Rises 400 percent The Bahamas have become a base for thousands of Caribbean migrants to attempt entry into the United States. via the Washington Post.
  • Solar Company Quickly Became Fourth Largest Employer in Deep Red Georgia Town Dalton, a town represented by Marjorie Taylor Greene in Congress, is home of Hanwha Qcells, a South Korean-owned solar panel manufacturer that received massive tax credits through the Inflation Reduction Act. via the American Prospect.
  • House Takes Early Recess for August as New Government Shutdown Deadline Looms Far-right Republicans wanted to overturn a Biden administration rule allowing for the abortion pill mifepristone to be sent by mail and sold in pharmacies, moderates balked leading to the early recess. via Axios.


46,000 years-old

That's how old resurrected worms thawed out from Siberian permafrost are. via the Scientific American.


7/28: It's Casual Friday! Sam hosts Heather Digby Parton, contributing writer at Salon.com and proprietor of the blog Hullabaloo, to round up the week in news.!


Wall Street Goblin MAD Workers Got Seemingly Decent Deal From UPS

Cry more Jim.

Is Putin's Invasion Of Ukraine 'A Gift To The American Empire'?

It did give an incentive for Scandanavia and Finland to join NATO.


“There is a certain music industry hatred for singers who don’t ‘fit in’ (this I know only too well), and they are never praised until death – when, finally, they can’t answer back […] You praise her now ONLY because it is too late. You hadn’t the guts to support her when she was alive and she was looking for you."

-- Morrissey, speaking on the passing of singer and activist Sinead O'Connor. via the Guardian.

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