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NSA began the multi-day process to shut down its dragnet phone collection

The National Security Agency’s controversial bulk phone data collection program is winding down with a weird whimper following an especially bilious round of legislative squabbling.

The NSA began the multi-day process to shut down its dragnet phone collection after Congress didn’t reauthorize the Patriot Act, which was used as legal justification for the mass surveillance program. “That process has begun,” an administration official told the Los Angeles Times
on Saturday.

And one of the people directly responsible for closing down the program is one of its biggest supporters.

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In the Recent Banking Scandal, Punishments For Individuals Should Equal those Levied Against the Insitutions

Let’s get one thing straight right away, my intention is not to defend or attack the idea of corporate personhood.

Corporate personhood is a legal concept that grants a corporation some of the same legal rights and responsibilities as individuals. U.S. courts have extended Constitutional protections to corporations per a provision in the Fourteenth Amendment.

For a moment, please try and forget where you stand on the “corporations are people” debate and instead let’s examine a recent high-profile scandal in the banking industry where the banks have been punished, but the people who committed the crimes have yet to be penalized.

In case you have been living under a rock for the past few days, the banking scandal I’m talking about is the $5.7 billion settlement five global banks were forced to make with U.S. government agencies, the Federal Reserve, and Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority. The settlement also included rare criminal charges against the five global banks.

The Justice Department has charted into unprecedented territory by levying such extensive fines on these banks, but the Justice Department has yet to charge any individuals for their involvement in the scandal. Does this strike anyone else as strange?

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Warren: Trade Deal "Secret Because If Details Were Made Public Now, The Public Would Oppose It"

How can a trade deal be secret? Is a secret trade deal, favoring multinationals, the pure fascism Ron Paul is warning about recently?

Elizabeth Warren identifies lies behind the arguments to pass the TPP comprehensive trade bill in secret:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/05/21/warren_trade_deal_secr...

Advocacy for the fundamental principles of a republic are welcome, to my ears, from any part of the political spectrum, and points of agreement between the libertarian right and civil libertarian left is finding more and more influence, as evidenced by the distance traveled from the Amash-Conyers NSA Amendment to the current Patriot Act suspension. Are these alliances the true center of the country, where left and right agree in support of the fundamental principles of a republic?

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Justice Department releases guidelines on domestic drone use

By Dante D'Orazio
May 23, 2015 06:15 pm

After years of operating in a legal gray area, domestic drone use is starting to amass a number of official rules and guidelines. The US Justice Department is the latest to provide policy guidelines on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). On Friday it published its guidelines laying out how federal law enforcement agencies may (and may not) use the remote-controlled vehicles. So far, the FBI is the only agency within the department to use the drones in missions.

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Eastern Warblers

If you want to make your world more beautiful, try to go see some warblers. Pictures do not do these birds justice. I remember the first time I saw a black-and-white warbler, a bird that is just black and white. I could not believe how colorful and bright this bird looked in real life. I was blown away by its beauty. What makes warblers particularly satisfying and frustrating is that when you find one, you get a few good seconds to appreciate it before it flies away. To me, it is like distilling an experience down to its most refined essence. You get up early, you drive for a while, you walk, you crane and tire your neck, all for a few seconds of beauty. If you want to get spiritual, those few seconds are like a direct link to the divine. Seeing a warbler is for me feels like putting a grain of the philosopher's stone under your tongue and letting your body resonate with the frequency of the forest. At that moment, that moment is all there is.

Every spring I try to re-learn the warblers when I go birding or just hiking in the woods. I am tired of having to re-learn this each year, only to forget it once spring passes. I found out there is great footage of many warblers on youtube and I think this is a great way to learn them, as you get to see what they look like, their songs, as well as behavior clues. So I figured I would create a handy reference for myself. If you are not into birding, please ignore, or just enjoy these beautiful creatures without worrying about the names and other details.

GENUS SEIURUS

Ovenbird ( Seiurus aurocapilla )

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Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Tips on How to Write a Good Short Story

  • Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  • Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  • Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  • Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.
  • Start as close to the end as possible.
  • Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them–in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  • Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  • Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Video below:

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I popped a grape into my mouth

I'd just popped a grape into my mouth and started to mash it up. The pilfered fruit was at just the point of perfection, where the flesh bursts open at the slightest nibbling of your teeth and sweet juices gush out cool to mix with the spit in your mouth. That was when I beheld a wholly unusual sight. I saw a man making his way through the supermarket's produce department. What a rare beast he was! He was a creature like I'd never seen before, not in a zoo, or a picture book, not in my most vivid imaginings or in a box of animal crackers, and he was right there among the islands of cantaloupes and watermelons. My jaw dropped open at the shock, the pulpy mess sent a tiny rivulet that trickled slowly away from the corner of my mouth and edged along my jaw line.

I was seized by a paralysis, but it faded just as suddenly as it had gripped me. My arm shot up and extended a stubby, grape-stained finger and with the voice of a curious youth confronted with some perplexing mystery for the first time, I asked my mother

"Mom! What happened to that man's legs!?" I had to ask, I'd never seen a person who was missing limbs before.

"Hush!" she told me, her face glowering as she looked into my eyes.

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