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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

NSA: Spying on Americans

The ACLU has created an interesting infographic that highlights the abuse of the public trust by the National Security Agency.

The NSA Intercepts 1.7 Billion US Electronic Communications Every Day

In November 2001, the National Security Agency began illegally intercepting Americans’ phone calls and emails without warrants or suspicion of wrongdoing. In 2008, Congress amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), rubber-stamping this warrantless wiretapping program and giving the NSA power to conduct dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international communications.


Shady Companies With Ties to Israel Wiretap the U.S. for the NSA --
Despite the post-9/11 warrantless wiretapping of Americans, the NSA says that citizens should trust it not to abuse its growing power and that it takes the Constitution and the nation’s privacy laws seriously.

But one of the agency’s biggest secrets is just how careless it is with that ocean of very private and very personal communications, much of it to and from Americans. Increasingly, obscure and questionable contractors — not government employees — install the taps, run the agency’s eavesdropping infrastructure, and do the listening and analysis.

And with some of the key companies building the U.S.’s surveillance infrastructure for the digital age employing unstable employees, crooked executives, and having troubling ties to foreign intelligence services, it’s not clear that Americans should trust the secretive agency, even if its current agency chief claims he doesn’t approve of extrajudicial spying on Americans...

Business Insider:
The NSA's General Didn't Lie To Congress About Spying On Americans — They Hire It Out To The Israelis

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Demographic Winter: The Closing of the Muslim Womb

Demographics is destiny, and this century will be defined by the great demographic death spiral that is swirling across Europe, Asia, and the Muslim world.

David Goldman's book, How Civilizations Die: (And Why Islam Is Dying Too), highlights the grim future. This is a must read.
If demographic winter is encroaching slowly on the West, a snap frost has overtaken the Muslim world. Europe has had two hundred years to make the transition from the high fertility rates of rural life to the low fertility rates of the industrial world. Iran, Turkey, Tunisia, and Algeria are attempting it in twenty. The graying of the Muslim world in lapsed time, as it were, can have only tragic consequences.

The Muslim world is on the brink of the fastest population decline in recorded history. Academic demographers are stunned. "In most of the Islamic world it's amazing, the decline in fertility that has happened," Hania Zlotnik, head of the United Nations' population research branch, told a 2009 conference.

Think of a train wreck: the front car hits an obstacle, and the rear cars collapse accordion-style with the momentum. Driving the demographics of Iran, Algeria, Tunisia, and other Muslim countries is a "locomotive made up of people in their teens and twenties. They were born into families of six or seven children. But this "locomotive" has hit a demographic wall: these young people are having only one or two children. Today's "bulge generation of young Muslims, whose political humiliation and frustration over economic stagnation stoked the Arab rebellions of 2011, will be followed by a generation dramatically smaller than their own.

Today there are more Iranians in their mid-twenties than in any other age bracket. But they are not reproducing. An educated twenty-five-year-old Iranian women today probably grew up in a family of six or seven children, but will bear only one child. The consequences will be catastrophic...

Aging populations present a danger even to rich countries with well-funded public pension systems. For poor countries with a primitive social safety net or none at all, a graying society will be a disaster...

This is the great underreported story of our time. Population collapse across almost the entire industrial world is threatening to disrupt the world's economy and endangering political stability. Eastern Europe and especially Russia are already facing a demographic death spiral. As the working-age populations shrinks in most of the industrial world, elderly dependents will make up most of Europe and East Asia's population. (But only two-fifths of America's.)...

For all the concern about the future cost of pensions and health care as America's population ages, America will still have the people to shoulder the burden. In the rest of the world, there simply will not be enough workers to support the elderly. Demographic winter means fiscal ruin and social upheaval.

The great demographic winter has already hit Japan.

Bloomberg today reports: Elderly at Record... --
"sales of adult diapers in Japan exceeded those for babies for the first time last year."