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Slashback: Google, Surveillance, Stardust 339

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the no-wonder-privacy-experts-are-twitchy dept.
Slashback tonight brings some corrections, clarifications, and updates to previous Slashdot stories, including Brin's defense of Google's recent actions in China, DoJ criticizes Microsoft's delay meeting antitrust regulations, Bush allies defend NSA domestic surveillance, Wisconsin rolls back open-source voting, a look back at Pixar, and Stardust samples exceed expectations -- Read on for details.

Brin defends Google's recent actions in China. An anonymous reader writes "Fortune Magazine recently had a chance to talk to Google co-founder Sergi Brin and asked him about the company's decision to accept censorship in China. As you might guess, Brin defended the move. From the article: 'The end result was that we weren't available to about 50 percent of the users. [...] We ultimately made a difficult decision, but we felt that by participating there, and making our services more available, even if not to the 100 percent that we ideally would like, that it will be better for Chinese Web users, because ultimately they would get more information, though not quite all of it.' Human Rights Watch boss Ken Roth, though, wasn't impressed and had a few scathing remarks about the decision."

DoJ criticizes Microsoft's delay in meeting antitrust regulations. Rob writes to tell us that the US Department of Justice is complaining that Microsoft is dragging their feet on certain antitrust technical documentation submission guidelines. From the article: "Microsoft acknowledged the current problems and the steps it is taking to correct them in a recent status report but "has not detailed the seriousness of the current situation," according to the DoJ."

Bush allies defend NSA domestic surveillance. Jason Jardine writes to tell us News.com is reporting that Bush's allies are coming out of the woodwork to support the recently criticized NSA domestic surveillance program. From the article: "In a continuation of a full-court press that began a day earlier, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Tuesday told students at Georgetown University that a wartime president has the lawful authority to eavesdrop on Americans' telephone calls and e-mail messages without court approval." Forgive me if I don't agree.

Wisconsin rolls back open-source voting. Irvu writes "One day after the good news that Wisconsin was requiring open-source electronic-voting software was reported on Slashdot, it was gutted. According to BloackboxVoting.org the open-source public review provisions of the bill were removed and replaced with a version requiring the state to escrow the code and, unless a recount occurs, provide only internal examination. The final form of the bill reads: 'Sec 5.905 "...Unless authorized under this section, the board shall withhold access to those software components from any person who requests access under s.19.35...' Meaning that public review is not required and should be, by default, refused. The Legislation History [PDF]reflects the change and points to the final crippled bill. [PDF]"

A look back at Pixar history. An anonymous reader writes "With all of the recent press coverage of Pixar getting bought out by Disney it seems only fitting to take a look back at Pixar history. LowEndMac.com has an interested retrospective writeup exploring the beginnings of Pixar back in the 1970's by Dick Shoup through to the current day."

Stardust samples exceed expectations. carpdeus writes "MSNBC is reporting that the recent opening of the Stardust sample in a clean room appears to be a great success. From the article: 'It exceeds all expectations,' said Donald Brownlee, Stardust's lead scientist from the University of Washington. 'It's a huge success,' he said in a university statement released Wednesday. 'We can see lots of impacts. There are big ones, there are small ones. The big ones you can see from 10 feet away,' Brownlee observed."

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Slashback: Google, Surveillance, Stardust

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  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:00PM (#14563290) Homepage Journal
    '...We ultimately made a difficult decision, but we felt that by
    participating there, and making our services more available, even if not
    to the 100 percent that we ideally would like, that it will be better for
    Chinese Web users, because ultimately they would get more information,
    though not quite all of it.'


    Meaning: "Thereby ensuring that we could sell ads that reach most,
    even if not to the 100% that we ideally would like, of the enormous
    Chinese market."

    Don't kid yourself. This has nothing to do with being evil or not and
    everything to do with making money. Great big piles of money.
    • by Ark42 (522144) <slashdot.morpheussoftware@net> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:06PM (#14563319) Homepage
      1. What you know you know.
      2. What you know you don't know.
      3. What you don't know you know.
      4. What you don't know you don't know.

      As long as Google tells people items where removed from their search because of their government, then Google is still providing information in the form of #2 instead of #4 like other search engines might, or the absense of any search engine would be.
      • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:21PM (#14563444)
        > 1. What you know you know.
        > 2. What you know you don't know.
        > 3. What you don't know you know.
        > 4. What you don't know you don't know.
        >
        > As long as Google tells people items where removed from their search because of their government, then Google is still providing information in the form of #2 instead of #4 like other search engines might, or the absense of any search engine would be.

        Wow, I didn't know the Secretary of Defense had a Slashdot account!

        "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."
        - Donald Rumsfeld [quotationspage.com], February 12, 2002

      • by Mrs. Grundy (680212) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:23PM (#14563452) Homepage
        Also:
        5. Things you think you know but are mistaken.

        Consider what Tiananmen Square stands for. Now look at the images google returns for the normal search vs the Chinese search and ask yourself what you think you would know from looking at these results:

        http://images.google.com/images?q=tiananmen+square [google.com]
        http://images.google.cn/images?q=tiananmen+square [google.cn]

        • by Ark42 (522144)
          I think your #5 is really #4.

          I don't condone the censorship, but we all know China would just filter all of Google in its entirety if they didn't make an attempt at complying with local laws.

          According to http://babelfish.altavista.com/babelfish/trurl_pag econtent?lp=zh_en&url=http%3A%2F%2Fimages.google.c n%2Fimages%3Fq%3Dtiananmen%2Bsquare [altavista.com]
          the bottom of the page says "According to the local law laws and regulations and the policy, the part searches the result not to demonstrate." which I'm sure means som
        • Man, that's the best summary of this whole story I've seen yet. Thank you, thank you.
        • by Jjeff1 (636051) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:07PM (#14563773)
          An anecdote, but somehow fitting. A guy I worked with briefly was Chinese. He explained how his grandparents, who lived in Bejing, only within the last couple years learned what had occured in Tiananmen Square. They always knew that something had happened, but explained that the government controlled media simply told them there was a dangerous situation and that everyone was to remain in their homes or workplaces while the authorities dealt with the problem.

          It took over 10 years, and I'd imagine news from their western children/grandchildren, before they knew what really occured. I find this amazing. It's a level of goverment control that I don't think most of us can really grasp.
        • It looks like Minitrue is fully operational. The proles will be pleased they can suck on the Google teat once again.
          • In the meantime, we prepare for the launch of Google Dissident (BETA) [google.com]. Search over 1 billion citizens for those thoughtcriminals who should be taken from their homes in the dark of night.
            • by cluckshot (658931) on Thursday January 26, 2006 @03:35AM (#14565627)

              I worked from 2001 to 2005 in a company where I was privy to the bid requests of the DARPA, NSA, CIA and others regards information mining and technology related. I am sure somebody will want to disagree with me and call me troll for saying so, but the Bush Administration's NSA spying campaign which they call limited monitoring of terrorists is nothing of the sort.

              The Bush Administration undertook at various high levels in the US Government to secure every single communication and to process it for their use. That is a fact. It is not opinion. To be blunt this was securing a level of invasion of privacy that the German SS (1930's to 1940's) never imagined possible. It's only goal has to be the construction of a police state. I saw this in the bid requests! They wanted 100% of all data including to be able to evaluate photographs, many languages and even other issues. They wanted 100% of all commercial transactions and to pattern everything.

              Read this for what you will, it isn't toll to tell the truth. I am reasonably certain some party will think I am being partizan. I am not. I am reasonably certain that the Democrat leadership would do the same thing if given the chance. We in the USA have a real problem with our leaders. Seeking to understand their behavior through the eyes of their party propaganda machines is just nuts. Republicans all too often have a Karl Rove point of view. Of course the Democrats have their own propaganda team. We need to see that what is being stolen in the name of national security is all of our security. We have none if people like these destroy the US Constitution this way.

              For those who cannot read, I will spell it out for you. The US Constitution REMOVES from government the power to do anything not permitted. Specifically warrantless searches are prohibited in the US Constitution. The claim that there is no law prohibiting what is happening is just ignorant at the highest level of ignorance. This infinite seaching and invasion of privacy is ILLEGAL 100% no excuses. Excusing it because some Democrat did it or some previous crook did it is no excuse.

        • by guaigean (867316) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:13PM (#14564239)
          Well, a search on just Tiananmen shows some of the same pictures on page 5... http://images.google.cn/images?q=tiananmen&svnum=1 0&hl=zh-CN&lr=&cr=countryCN&start=80&sa=N [google.cn] I realize China is censoring (to a great extent), but perhaps some of it also has to do with the difference in culture. In the west, when we hear Tiananmen Square, we think massacre. There's a lot more to the square than that, and the Chinese have more reverance for it. However, pics posted by the Chinese are written in chinese, and so searching by english words won't neccessarily turn up the same thing. Searching in english will turn up the western view of Tiananman mostly, and little else.
      • As long as Google tells people items where removed from their search because of their government, then Google is still providing information in the form of #2 instead of #4 like other search engines might, or the absense of any search engine would be.

        Is there any indication that Google does tell people that some results are being censored? I doubt it. Early on, they used to report search results that had been removed because of DMCA censoring, but even then the removal notice was the last result in the se
        • by Ark42 (522144)
          See my post above with the translation of "According to the local law laws and regulations and the policy, the part searches the result not to demonstrate."

          It does look like Google tells people that things where removed.
    • Don't kid yourself. This has nothing to do with being evil or not and everything to do with making money. Great big piles of money.

      Yeah, but since we found out he's only making $1, it's not so bad right? A man's gotta eat.
    • "I was just following orders."
      The Defense of Every Immoral Fucker Throughout Who Screwed Some Segment of Humanity
      • > "I was just following orders."
        > The Defense of Every Immoral Fucker Throughout Who Screwed Some Segment of Humanity

        And not the defense Brin gives.

        So I don't see how that platitude can be viewed as Insightful, rather than Off-Topic. Unless the moderators don't actually read the blurbs or care about context, and just moderate anything up that seems vaguely familiar and pleasing.
    • I'm somewhat sympathetic with Brin's position.

      It's extremely disappointing, of course, but a google boycott is never going to force political change in China. Putting that aside, providing a limited service that at least tells users they are seening censorship isn't really worse than no service at all.
      • I disagree.

        One way that we can place political pressure on China to change is to prevent them from accessing all of the unique and useful (and highly desireable) services that come out of other countries. Whether or not it would accomplish the goal is another debate entirely, but what's the excuse for not trying?

        My opinion of Google is a couple of notches lower for this move.

        Besides, what's next? Complying if the US government asks them to censor something? It's a slippery slope.

        --S
    • Or as one person put it.
      Google refuses to cooperate with the US government on a investigating porn but does cooperate with the government in China censoring pro-democracy websites.
      Google's new motto. Do no evil unless it costs money. Then evil isn't so bad.
      I really liked Google until this. I actually support the first act of not turning over records of searches without a search warrant. I find the second act cowardly and greedy.

  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:01PM (#14563294) Homepage Journal

    NASA/JPL explain how dust was captured in Aerogel [nasa.gov]

    alas, poor pixar! i knew him, horatio.

    So... how long before the forces of ennui at Disney get to Steve and John, driving them out like Roy? How long before Pixar films are littered with the dumb, ultra-hip Disney characters populate the films?

    • Aerogel sounds like an excellent insulator, while remaining porus. Presumably, there would be some way of using it to filter by temperature. Hmmm.

      Pixar earned my contempt with killing off the Blue Moon Rendering Toolkit. How threatened can they be by free (as in beer) software that didn't even do the same stuff as Renderman? They earned my contempt further with this merger with Disney. Think about this - not long after Nemo came out, the two were at massive loggerheads over contractual and creative disputes

    • Should have been ballistics gel, then they would have made the Discovery Channel.
  • by Eric Smith (4379) * <eric@AAAbrouhaha.com minus threevowels> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:05PM (#14563316) Homepage Journal
    "Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Tuesday told students at Georgetown University that a wartime president has the lawful authority to eavesdrop on Americans' telephone calls and e-mail messages without court approval."
    Even if that Gonzales' statement was true (which it isn't), the United States is not in a state of war, so the reasoning is completely specious.

    For the United States to enter a war, Congress must exercise their constitutional authority to declare war. They have chosen not to do so.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      This just shows what the current administration truly wants.

      They want the President to have absolute power (i.e. the power of a dictator) whenever we are at war. At the same time, they claim we are in an ongoing war (the War on Terror) which will never actually be concluded.

      Logically, this means that they believe the President should always have absolute power.
      • Until Hillary's elected, of course Then they will suddenly get religious about observing the constitutional niceties.
      • Yes, this is one of many troubling aspects of applying something like the War Powers Resolution or the Geneva Convention to an organization like Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, in all the excitement after September 11th, 2001, there wasn't much discussion of these issues. The good news is that perhaps once word gets out that this is in fact legal, and that it is one of the consequences of declaring war, perhaps folks will reflect on whether it makes sense to continue to be "at war" with Al Qaeda.
    • by X (1235) <x@xman.org> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:35PM (#14563547) Homepage Journal
      Even if the Gonzales' statement was true (which it isn't)

      No, it really is:
      http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode50/us c_sec_50_00001811----000-.html [cornell.edu]

      the United States is not in a state of war

      No, it really is.

      For the United States to enter a war, Congress must exercise their constitutional authority to declare war. They have chosen not to do so.

      Actually they have. First, the US is at war "with those responsible for the Sept. 11'th attacks" [cornell.edu] and it is at war with Iraq [cornell.edu]. Both bills specifically invoke the War Powers Resolution.

      Given that the wiretaps are in theory being used to track down suspected members of Al Qaeda, they would appear to be authorized by and well within the scope of the Sept. 18th resolution.

      It's sad when actions with such significance are glossed over to the extent that people aren't actually aware of them.
      • by david duncan scott (206421) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:24PM (#14563880)
        Oh, you youngsters!

        The War Powers Act was created precisely to limit what the Executive could do in the absence of a war. FDR, for instance, had a real war, with a declaration of war and everything, and no weird "War Powers" thing.

        Nixon, on the other hand, had a police action, or an incursion, or whatever the hell they called it from week to week, and Congress finally up and said, "Look, without a war you can only shoot people for a little while, and then you have to come back to us get permission again." No such requirement exists with an honest-to-God war.

        In other words, the War Powers Act is exactly the indication that a state of war does not exist, and really, that shouldn't be a surprise -- neither Osama bin Laden nor "Terror" are nations, and wars are fought between nations.

        • MOD PARENT UP (Score:3, Interesting)

          They should teach this in history class. There hasn't been a declaration of war since 1941, yet U.S. troops have fought in:
          • 1950 Korea
          • 1961 Vietnam (to 1973)
          • 1965 Dominican Republic
          • 1966 Guatemala
          • 1969 Cambodia
          • 1971 Laos
          • 1982 Lebanon
          • 1983 Grenada
          • 1989 Panama
          • 1990 Kuwait,Iraq
          • 1992 Somalia
          • 1994 Bosnia,Kosovo
          • 2001 Afghanistan
          • 2003 Iraq

          Not counting various missile strikes, CIA operations, commando raids, etc., which might be considered legitimate without a declaration of war (but certainly

      • Actually they have. First, the US is at war "with those responsible for the Sept. 11'th attacks" and it is at war with Iraq.

        Excuse me? They helped to organize the elections in a country they're at war with?

        I thought the US has won the war in Iraq a long time ago? A short time after the invasion began, actually? Right now, the US soldiers are just playing shooting target while the oil companies pillage the country. Well, that's what I heard anyway. I could be wrong and you could be right.
      • It doesn't matter what law Congress passes if it doesn't abide by the Constitution. The 4th Amendment is pretty clear: " The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." See that part about "supported by Oath or affirmation
        • FISA only has a 15 day exception and Bush has gone way past that:
          "Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order under this subchapter to acquire foreign intelligence information for a period not to exceed fifteen calendar days following a declaration of war by the Congress."

          In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld the Court said that presidential powers does not exceed or override the 4th amendment.
      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:58PM (#14564531) Journal
        Your first link [cornell.edu] doesn't apply, since there was never "a declaration of war by the Congress."

        Your second link
        http://www4.law.cornell.edu/usc-cgi/get_external.c gi?type=pubL&target=107-40 [cornell.edu]

        (b) War Powers Resolution Requirements-

        (1) SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORIZATION- Consistent with section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution.

        (2) APPLICABILITY OF OTHER REQUIREMENTS- Nothing in this resolution supercedes any requirement of the War Powers Resolution.

        And from the War Powers Resolution:

        SEC. 8. (a) Authority to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situations wherein involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances shall not be inferred--
        (1) from any provision of law (whether or not in effect before the date of the enactment of this joint resolution), including any provision contained in any appropriation Act, unless such provision specifically authorizes the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into such situations and stating that it is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of this joint resolution

        SEC. 5. (b) Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 4(a)(1), whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress (1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces, (2) has extended by law such sixty-day period, or (3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States. Such sixty-day period shall be extended for not more than an additional thirty days if the President determines and certifies to the Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces.

        From your third link

        (b) SINGLE CONSOLIDATED REPORT- To the extent that the submission of any report described in subsection (a) coincides with the submission of any other report on matters relevant to this joint resolution otherwise required to be submitted to Congress pursuant to the reporting requirements of the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), all such reports may be submitted as a single consolidated report to the Congress.

        From the War Powers Resolution:

        SEC. 4. (a) In the absence of a declaration of war, in any case in which United States Armed Forces are introduced-- blah (1) blah (2) blah

        (3) in numbers which substantially enlarge United States Armed Forces equipped for combat already located in a foreign nation; the president shall submit within 48 hours to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the President pro tempore of the Senate a report, in writing, setting forth--
        (A) the circumstances necessitating the introduction of United States Armed Forces;
        (B) the constitutional and legislative authority under which such introduction took place; and
        (C) the estimated scope and duration of the hostilities or involvement.

        SEC. 4. (b) The President shall provide such other information as the Congress may request in the fulfillment of its constitutional responsibilities with respect to committing the Nation to war and to the use of United States Armed Forces abroad

        SEC. 4. (c) Whenever United States Armed Forces are introduced into

    • Oh! But can't you see that we're in a war on terrorism? A war on a tactic, with no clearly-defined enemy, no location where it's taking place, no fighting, and - most importantly - not even a clear condition whereby we could determine that we have won it...

      What Gonzales means is "we (that is, the president and administration) have the right to do whatever we want, all the time, without any boundaries, oversight, or responsibility".

      The strange thing about that, though, is that it should be obvious that this
      • If politicians (on both sides, mind you) ever worried about their own words coming back to haunt them, they'd be a lot quieter and more careful when they open their mouths. There is always some watershed event (Pearl Harbor, Cold War, 9/11 attack, etc) since you said it to justify why you think differently now. The situation is always different now.
    • The real question I have is:

      "What constitutes an end to a War on Terrorism?"

      After all, a bank robber can be said to be a terrorist, or a kid who takes candy from another kid. The candy taker would be terrorizing the other kid. So where do you draw the line? How do you define when to stop the War on Terrorism? Today? Tomorrow? Next year? Never? Are we now 1984'ing things? Always a mindless war going on and on and on forever with no end in sight?

      And ask yourself this: What
    • A room full of law students turning their backs on Gonzales during his speech [livejournal.com] made me happier than any news regarding the neo-Fascist* administration has for the last few years.

      * McCain is a Republican. Eisenhower and Lincoln were Republicans. Calling the members of the Project for a New American Empire "Republicans" is an insult to that party's history.
  • by IAAP (937607) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:07PM (#14563324)
    Sergi Brin and asked him about the company's decision to accept censorship in China. As you might guess, Brin defended the move.

    For one, on the bottom of the Chinese results they do show that the results were filtered according to local law. So, the Chiniese citizens are in fact informed that their results are being filtered indirectly by their Governement.

    For two, Google, after all, is a business. They are not a NGO, charity, or some other organization that's in existance to make this planet a better World (TM). They are here to make their shareholders (and themselves) a return on their investment.

    Three, Corporate citizenship, HA hahhahahahhahahhahahahhahahhahahahhahahhahahahhaha hhahahahha!

    Four, there is no Easter Bunny or Santa Clause!

    Five, you get my point.

    • by linguae (763922) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:25PM (#14563469)
      For two, Google, after all, is a business. They are not a NGO, charity, or some other organization that's in existance to make this planet a better World (TM). They are here to make their shareholders (and themselves) a return on their investment.

      To quote Milton Friedman:

      "The only social responsibility of a corporation is to deliver a profit to its shareholders"

      Corporations don't exist to be humanitarian organizations. Their job is to make as much money as possible, while remaining within the law.

      • by no_opinion (148098) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:39PM (#14563582)
        Right, despite their slogan of "Do No Evil" Google is still a corporation. Maybe their reality distortion field will start to lose its strength now.
      • Corporations don't exist to be humanitarian organizations. Their job is to make as much money as possible, while remaining within the law.

        By your reasoning, corporations don't have a concept of "evil" either. Then why did Google adopt the "Do No Evil" mantra as its core (note the past tense, since I believe this to no longer be true)? Why does Google's "Ten Commandments" list "You can make money without doing evil."?

      • Corporations don't exist to be humanitarian organizations. Their job is to make as much money as possible, while remaining within the law.

        Well, can't we pass a law requiring them to be humanitarian, then?

    • I think most people understand that Google is a business and ultimately must do what's best for their shareholders. However, the issue that irks most folks is that Google likes to claim that they "do no evil". Sounds great at first, until they start doing more and more stuff that's "not so good". Now they just sound more holier than thou, without really fulfilling their promise.

      If they never claimed to be a do-gooder type of company, then there probably won't be much flak over this. However, Google would pr
    • For two, Google, after all, is a business. They are not a NGO, charity, or some other organization that's in existance to make this planet a better World (TM). They are here to make their shareholders (and themselves) a return on their investment.

      Thankfully, the two overlap. If people trust google less, the stock price will fall.

      The real question is whether they're going to go for the short-term profit or the long-term profit. In the short-term, selling user information will make money, but you will quick

  • Bush in 20 years (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TibbonZero (571809) <Tibbon AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:08PM (#14563335) Homepage Journal
    It will be interesting to see how things are viewed when more of the 'truth' is settled on in 20 years for this administration. Will they be seen as the just and right protectors of Democracy, or will he be seen as the worst president of all time?

    IMHO, they are with this CIA blowup working on either
    1)Nailing their own coffin shut on this
    2) Permanently dismantling the basics of american freedoms

    "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security"
    Ben Franklin

    • I suppose what amazes me is how he is seen now. What Bush has done is amazing for anyone even slightly versed in US political history. The ideas of checks and balances and the separation of powers, so essential to the mechanism by which our government is kept from encroaching upon us, do not even give Bush pause. We are discussing a man who called the Constitution a goddamned [comlinks.com] piece [capitolhillblue.com] of [typepad.com] paper [opednews.com]. Remember the Oath of Office? The Constitution [archives.gov] specifies that:

      Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shal

    • Will they be seen as the just and right protectors of Democracy, or will he be seen as the worst president of all time?

      I'm gonna go out on a limb and predict it will be somewhere in between. And that different people will have different opinions.
  • by Grendel Drago (41496) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:10PM (#14563345) Homepage
    I want some big, important pundit on the right to give an example of something the president does not, by their lights, have the authority to do. If he becomes a dictator in wartime (which it's mighty sketchy to say we're in), why not come out and say this? Can he rape and murder? No, seriously, if he can break one law, why not others?

    Shit, I thought I understood our system of government--the legislature expresses the will of the people in laws; the executive branch then implements and executes said laws. For instance, if Congress makes kidnapping a federal offense, the FBI (under the Department of Justice) investigates kidnappings. But according to some of our less stable pundits and her commenters [typepad.com], "The legislature cannot limit the authority of the president, just like the president cannot limit the authority of the legislature." So, does he have divine, kingly powers now? Did we suddenly get that?

    Oh, who am I kidding? Clearly the president's imperial authority stops at the beginning of the next Democrat administration.
    • > I want some big, important pundit on the right to give an example of something the president does not, by their lights, have the authority to do. If he becomes a dictator in wartime (which it's mighty sketchy to say we're in), why not come out and say this? Can he rape and murder? No, seriously, if he can break one law, why not others?

      Well, you see, it's necessary - we have laws that prevent our leaders from raping and murdering our citizens over here. But these are different times. We rape and mur

    • I just love how so-called small government conservatives are falling over themselves to become apologists for the president's dictatorial power grabs. [slate.com] It's really appalling.

      Then again, civil liberties progressives were ok with crackdowns by Clinton and Janet Reno, so hypocrisy goes both ways.

    • "If he becomes a dictator in wartime, why not come out and say this? Can he rape and murder? [...] if he can break one law, why not others?

      Well, in theory, if he has to rape and murder to "protect and defend the constitution" then, yes, I suppose he can. Again, in theory.

      One of the things that annoys me about the debate, though, is that the support for this comes from the fact that the President is the Commander-in-Chief. However, he is the Commander-In-Chief of the military, not of the country. This is
      • You're wrong. The Constitution says that "the President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states . . ." There are numerous instances of military operations in the US, starting with the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794. The Civil War is another example.

        Secondly, there's no claim that the spying was accompished "within the contintental United States." As I understand it, it was done at NSA listening posts in foreign nations. The complaint is
    • "If he becomes a dictator in wartime, why not come out and say this? Can he rape and murder? [...] if he can break one law, why not others?

      Well, in theory, if he has to rape and murder to "protect and defend the constitution" then, yes, I suppose he can. Again, in theory.

      One of the things that annoys me about the debate, though, is that the support for this comes from the fact that the President is the Commander-in-Chief. However, he is the Commander-In-Chief of the military, not of the country. This is
    • Sure, here's a list of what the president absolutely cannot do:

      1. Endorse gay marriage
      2. Support evolution
      3. Take their guns
  • Administration BS (Score:3, Informative)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:11PM (#14563350) Homepage Journal
    If I recall correctly, the reason domestic surveilance laws were originally created was due to Nixon administration abuse of the FBI to gather data on people the administration didn't like. Some one correct me if I'm wrong -- it's not something American school history classes like to go into, for some reason. Some very clear laws and some very clear checks were created, and it has been noticed that the secret court that was established for that very reason has never declined a request and allows for retroacive filing for a warrant to tap a phone conversation.

    I trust that the "It's not illegal because we don't think it is" defense will convince no one. This administration is resembling the Nixon administration more and more, and I can only hope that it ends the same way.

    • by magarity (164372)
      domestic surveilance

      Everyone in this thread, including the editor, convienently leaves out the "half", as in "half domestic surveilance". When a known Al-Q person outside the USA calls or contacts someone inside, the NSA tries to listen in. So how exactly is it a huge problem that one person in the US is being spied upon because a known terrorist on a short list calls him? Tell me with a straight face anyone seriously expects the NSA get a warrant ahead of time in a world of disposable cell phon
      • Re:Administration BS (Score:3, Informative)

        by timeOday (582209)
        Tell me with a straight face anyone seriously expects the NSA get a warrant ahead of time in a world of disposable cell phones.
        FISA already grants the power to act without a warrant, so long as they go back to get a warrant from the secret court within 72 hours. (And how could anybody not know that by now?) So that's not a reason.
      • by Black Parrot (19622) *
        > Everyone in this thread, including the editor, convienently leaves out the "half", as in "half domestic surveilance". When a known Al-Q person outside the USA calls or contacts someone inside, the NSA tries to listen in. So how exactly is it a huge problem that one person in the US is being spied upon because a known terrorist on a short list calls him? Tell me with a straight face anyone seriously expects the NSA get a warrant ahead of time in a world of disposable cell phones.

        That's just the thing. T
    • Some one correct me if I'm wrong Gladly. This article [hnn.us] shows that the wiretapping to US citizens by preseidential decree was started by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Other sources will show you that Roosevelt set up a department that had every international phone call and telegraph message intercepted and analyzed even before WWII.

      Naturally, subsequent administations never cut back on these practices. Once an agency has an authority and a budget, it's very hard to remove either...

  • China (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bm_luethke (253362) <luethkeb@comc[ ].net ['ast' in gap]> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:13PM (#14563374)
    While I don't particularly care for what China is doing, I can't particularly blame google.

    First off, his statement is correct - that is a large market. I can't blame them for wanting to get into it. The Chinese govt is the one imposing the standards - hate them.

    Secondly, this is still a march towards not having the censorship. If you demand an all or nothing approach then, at least with this Chinese Govt you will get the "nothing" end of the bargain. It's like demanding "Give me a million dollars or give me death" - while the million dollars would be nice, death sucks and will be the option you are stuck with if you stay headstrong about those being the only two options. Better to choose the path that will get you to the million dollars as quickly as possible and still be likely.

    Right now, Chinese Govt is in a hard place (though very good for the rest of the world and the Chinese people). If they do not progress they will die, in order to progress they need to open the information avenues. By opening those avenues they are going to die. All this will do is give another way for dissidents to gather information and learn and show normal average people what they are missing.

    It would be nice to wave a magic wand and have them be a free country, but that isn't going to happen. It's going to take a long series of concessions with a final bloody conflict, though with enough of their country inching towards it it will be less bloody - in the long run stuff like this will save lives even if it isn't what you want ideologically.

    As to if the founder of google are being greedy bastards who trample on the Chinese rights or see the second part of what I say will depend on your view of the company. They aren't going to say either way. Given Google's past I generally suspect that the second benefit I said plays in their decision - though I do not know how much.
  • is "Standing up" to the US gov't to "defy" them with this request for search information. When they are going right along with the chinese gov't with censoring their citizens. Please, they are looking to make money, nothing else. i like the company, but "Doing no evil" is nothing more than propaganda to keep people happy with the company and avoid MS anti-trust problems.
  • ... "yeah, it was difficult to throw away morals, and make lots of money for shareholders, and hell, I make $1 a year, all of my money comes from stock, but hey, someone has to offer search services in China" ...

    Come on. Do no evil? Right. They are compromising on morals to appease either stockholders or to up their bottom line.

    Microsoft is doing it. Yahoo is doing it. Correct. But neither of them claim to "Do no evil". By doing that Google is claiming to adhere to a higher power. But then they lower th
    • China doesn't need Google. Google decided they needed China.

      On the contrary China does need Google. It needs to show anyone who is even thinking of defying its authority that it has corrupt, money-hungry Western executives in its back pockets. It needs to show the Chinese people that Western commercial interests will collude with them to deny the citizens of the most populous nation on Earth basic freedoms.

      Some day, in the not so far off future, I hope these companies and their executives are given t

  • Reading this Slashback, it struck me just how bad and dissapointing news stories are lately. It's always the state/federal government/big corporation doing something to screw people over. What a depressing state of afairs.
  • The current Slashdot footer quote seems very appropriate:

    You may be sure that when a man begins to call himself a "realist," he is preparing to do something he is secretly ashamed of doing. -- Sydney Harris
  • did anyone else catch the incompetant interview with att gen gonsales on npr yesterday ? the AG said FISA authorizes wiretaps in time of war, and the idiot interviewer did not come back with FISA allows warratnless wiretaps in the 1st 14 days after a war is declared...
  • by Prien715 (251944) <agnosticpope@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:31PM (#14563508) Journal
    Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Tuesday told students at Georgetown University that a wartime president has the lawful authority to eavesdrop on Americans' telephone calls and e-mail messages without court approval.

    When asked when the war would started, Gonzales replied "September 11th, 2001". When asked when it would end, he said "Never".

    Gonzales, however, is wrong. The war on terror is over! We're now in the "struggle against Islamic extremism" [heritage.org].

  • Georgetown University that a wartime president has the lawful authority to eavesdrop on Americans' telephone calls and e-mail messages without court approval."

    Somebody needs to tell this jackass that WE'RE NOT F%#KING AT WAR!!! Unless I missed it when Congress issued a declaration of war, but somehow I doubt I slept through that.

    Just because a few morons in DC make up a fancy sounding name like the "War on Terror" or "War on Drugs" does not mean that we are magically at war.

    What a freaking asshat.
  • by hondo77 (324058) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:32PM (#14563518) Homepage
    Having been at Disney during the CAPS days, I can tell you that the article gets a lot of details wrong (e.g. animators didn't paint cels and they weren't painted automatically) but at a higher level it's still an interesting story.
  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:34PM (#14563539) Homepage
    They are fighting tooth-and-nail against a US government's request for rather innocent piece of statistics -- a million of randomly selected queries over the course of one random week in 2005 -- something no other search engine found in any way objectionable.

    And yet they agree to China's much more intrusive demands.

    No, I don't think they are "doing evil" with any of it. But heros they are not either.

    • Basicly, its cheaper to not comply with the DOJ request than it is to comply. Especially since if they comply now, the DOJ can make another request later.
      Also, remember that complying with the DOJ doesnt earn them ad revenue, going into china does.
  • While I don't particularly relish the prospect of eavesdropping without warrants, the fact is that warrants take a gigundous mountain of paperwork to get, and that sometimes they really won't be obtainable fast enough to make a difference. It would be nice to see some sort of intermediate position: a sort of 'temporary warrant' with a fraction of the paperwork, while they wait around for the regular warrant. Maybe you could require them to destroy the recordings if the regular warrant isn't granted, as well
    • Or maybe you could throw them in jail for ten years if the individual is shown to have done nothing wrong. Let's make the authorities put it on the line. If they're so damn sure that this kind of infringement on civil liberties is necessary, let them put their freedom on the line. The fact is they won't, because they know damn well they're not operating within the checks and balances. They're not playing fair, and are ultimately gutless, law-breaking cowards.
      • I'm sure that the bulk of the law enforcement officers in question are well-meaning, even if the agency as a whole is considered to be gutless, lawbreaking, and cowardly. This sort of incentive you propose is a little.... extreme, at best, and it would just result in any truly conniving, devious agency just going and setting up a series of fall guys for any such monitoring. Or wiretapping without any sort of oversight and just breaking the law anyway.
    • Re:Surveillance (Score:4, Informative)

      by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:15PM (#14563816) Journal
      Witless FooAtWFU wrote:

      While I don't particularly relish the prospect of eavesdropping without warrants, the fact is that warrants take a gigundous mountain of paperwork to get, and that sometimes they really won't be obtainable fast enough to make a difference.

      Your statement would be sensible IF it wasn't for the simple fact that:

      a: They have 72 hours to get back with the FISA court to explain an unwarranted wire tap.
      b: We just happen to have a nice little thing called the Constitution which states in EXPLICITLY CLEAR LANGUAGE:

      The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

      Now, what part of that statement ELUDES your understanding? HMmmmmmm???

      If idiots like you prevail, we will ALL end up with the government YOU deserve.

      RS

  • by istartedi (132515) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @08:59PM (#14563722) Journal

    Tiananmen = "Lock say" (this is actually the westernized way of saying the date, which I found through my un-censored USA Google search).

    Other censored phrases can be replaced with more obscure stuff. lakfjdslkdj for democracy, etc. Of course the censors will just clamp down on that. It will be an arms race, just like spam, and just as spam always gets through, so will censored material. Come on, you know you want to enlarge y0\/r d3mocrasee p3nis.

    So yeah, the Google execs look like they caved in, but they probably realize this will work as well as... DRM. To the young Chinese hackers: Gentlemen, start your compilers.

  • by talksinmaths (199235) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:03PM (#14563743) Homepage
    I saw this on Boing Boing earlier today.

    Future lawers protest AG's speech [livejournal.com]

    The link is to someone's blog, but the pictures are priceless.

  • I find what Google is doing despicable. Google should be heavily fined for helping China to promote the oppression and censorship of it's people. Unfortunately, industrialized nations are so wet in their pants for China that they're willing to do anything to earn that country's business.

    What I find even more absurd is that there are people actually defending this. I'd like to know if people would be so tolerant if another company, Microsoft for example, had done the same. I also wonder if people would be so
  • by Quixote (154172) * on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:26PM (#14563891) Homepage Journal
    After reading the Google China news, it suddenly dawned on me that the Google -vs- DOJ thing was probably just a sham. I'm inclined to believe that it was a feint to minimize the impact of Google's sellout. Google knows that the information that DOJ wants is harmless; but by putting up a mock fight, it can claim to take the higher ground, "standing up for the rights of our users", while they quietly sellout to the Chinese Government.

    It seems to make sense now.

  • The gov't should shut MS down for ten days. Then allow them to reopen. Christ, what's it take to get their effing attention?
  • His defense boils down to: "I met the guy at Brainstorm, I think his name's Xiao." And he said it's okay.

    Gosh, I would have thought a head of a major corporation could put together a decent argument. I'm usually one to say it's just business, but not when it comes to suppressing free speech. Dupont or Starbucks gets a pass, but unfortunately for Google, I don't think they do.
  • by hackus (159037) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:05PM (#14564191) Homepage
    I find most of you on Slashdot, say one of two things about Google and China:

    1) Google is fine, it is not thier fault, blame the Chinese govt.

    2) A corporation exists within the law, to maximize profit, and since google is following the law of the land, they are fine.

    I think I have a problem with the large number of these posts due to the following:

    1) Enabling th Chinese government to execute these laws, and by Google following them, does not make them right. In fact it sets a bad precedent, which I consider Cisco a far more insidious company than google which started most of these problems.

    (i.e. If Cisco can sell high tech equipment to Chinese to hunt down people, why can't we?)

    But, the problem remains. Defining corporate responsibility simply by a small set of laws, doesn't work. It doesn't work for coal miners, Nuclear Power Plants and it will not work for the Chinese people.

    Google is enabling the Chinese government to torture, imprison and possibly kill polical leaders that who do not like the human rights track record of the Chinese government.

    By ignoring these facts somehow doesn't fit quite well with the excuse that Google is a corporation and just exists out there innocently to make money.

    It doesn't fit well with my conscious, anyway.

    2) I think it is laughable, that Google excuses itself by saying "Oh we just obey the local return results of the country we are in.".

    I also do not believe that informing people that the government is watching makes it fine and good.

    The government could care less if you can see what they are doing, they only care whether or not they control WHAT you are seeing.

    If you cannot see anything else, how does that make you any more powerful?

    It does not.

    In general, it looks like as long as the company makes money it is "OK" to do these things.

    No law in China exists that says this is wrong, so that makes it OK right?

    We have some serious issues on this web site if the majority of the posts I am reading are taking the naive position that because Google is obeying the local laws of the Chinese govt, and that because a corporation exists to make money for shareholders it is not responsible for anything else for the society in which it serves.

    Serious kinds of bad mojo has historically come of this kind of line of thinking, and when you start involving governments with big tanks and nuclear weapons, nothing good can come of it.

    -Hack

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