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In most American households the internet has quickly become the source of news, information, and in some cases, communication. So, the bill introduced by John Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat and Republican Olympia Snowe from Maine is surprising because it gives the ultimate authority over the U.S. internet infrastructure to the President, allowing him to turn off access if need be. There is certainly a need for control when a virus or DDoS attack threatens government systems but the vague language of the bill appears to give more control than necessary.

The purpose of a Denial of Service attack is to take a website down by overwhelming it with [fake] traffic. If the government’s intent is to prevent such take downs by simply unplugging the website, then they are fulfilling the goal of the attack, even if it is by proxy. Sure, there are other reasons to take a site or portion of the internet down, as in the case of viruses being programmed to steal important data off of government machines, but the take down should be limited in scope. By painting with a wide brush the writer’s of this bill have given too much power to a single person, rather than focusing on addressing threats, it lays out triage techniques to combat the issue.

There is more in the bill as well, including starting a scholarship program for Federal IT workers. You can read the bill in its entirety below.

0402 Rockefeller Cyber Security Bill

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  • The dark side of Dubai – A fantastic look at the “true” Dubai and what most outsiders do not witness. From sewage problems to what amounts to slave labor, Johann Hari writes a compelling article on the Disneyland of the Desert.
  • Mileage Deals Spur Runs for Elite Status – I admit it, I am taking advantage of these deals. I am flying to Frankfurt, Germany the first week of May to earn 21,000 miles on Continental Airlines. There are a lot of benefits for me to have the status, so for $300, it is worth it.
  • Spokane to detonate squirrels tearing up parks – It sounds like a scene from Caddyshack.
  • Plane-side TSA searches aren’t worth the trouble – More proof that the Masterpiece Theater known as the TSA and airport security is a joke. They cannot test the liquids quickly, so they have limited the amount that you can bring on board, but now, without any evidence of a greater threat, they are searching passengers again before getting on the plane. The TSA says it cannot test liquids of vendors inside of the airport, making the plane-side searches necessary. Huh? So, they’re suggesting that terrorists have infiltrated my airport’s Starbucks and Au Bon Pain and are plotting to kill us? Maybe with calories.

Let me know what you think, leave a comment!

Around 750 “tea parties” are taking place around the country today in an effort to protest the taxation changes being made by the Obama administration. This is one of those issues that has turned into a boxing match between the left and right based media (I guess most issues are now). The tea parties are loosely based around the events that took place before the Revolutionary War, where “No taxation without representation” was the slogan. Today’s events differ because they focus on tax rates and government spending. This is a poor idea, or at least poor execution of an idea.

Sure, a government on its way to spending itself into a debt wholly owned by foreign nations is a bad idea, but focusing on tax increases for the wealthy is no better. The tea parties should instead be focused on bringing attention to what the government is doing with our money, maybe even making the slogan “No taxation with poor representation”. The officials are elected by us but make decisions based on their own prerogatives rather than the needs of the people.

The argument that Americans do not mind paying taxes is one that has been coming out of the media lately and it too is a poor one. Most Americans do not mind because it is simply a way of life and for the most part the actual payment takes place without them even noticing. The truth of the matter is, most Americans get a refund at the end of the year and have no idea that it is because they paid in too much to the system. Start taking more out of people’s paychecks and making the refunds smaller and the number of Americans who do not mind taxes is sure to take a dive.

Back to the tea parties, Paul Krugman, who I am constantly agreeing and disagreeing with, writes that the right-wing is a bunch of crazy people who are embarrassing themselves with their antics and maybe he is right. If the conservatives in this country want to avoid a social democracy then faux-protesting a slight tax hike is not the way to do it. This is not to say that what the government is doing is right, by all means, it isn’t. The idea is not to change tax rates, it is to reduce spending. If spending is reduced, then budgets are naturally cut and as a result, the tax rate stays steady or better yet, falls.

What this country needs is more students of history because then maybe we’d have our memories jogged on how things were done when the Constitution was drafted and what the role of the Federal government should be.

I dropped the ball last week and did not post any links, mostly because I had been out of town and did not bookmark anything. This week’s links will try to make up for it.

  • Four Fannie Mae Execs to Get Big Bonuses – There seems to be some disconnect between the media and this story. AIG execs get bonuses and they are essentially burned at the stake, but a government backed agency gives out bonuses and the story is a blurb. People should be more up in arms about this than the AIG debacle.
  • Colleges Duck Tough Cuts, Keep Hiking Pay and Tuition – An interesting and, in my opinion, necessary opinion piece in USA Today about the cost of college tuition continuing to rise all while schools give out raises. We’re taking something that we claim should be the “right of everyone” and turning it into a corporation. There is little reason to cut spending when the money flows in, except for the fact that federal money is dwindling.
  • The Pioneer Woman Cooks! – I was browsing some food blogs during lunch (the best time to do it, to avoid the hunger it causes) and came across The Pioneer Woman. Her writing is interesting and she makes Texas favorites look easy.
  • Why to Startup in a Bad Economy – This was posted in the latter half of last year but I think it is just as relevant today as it was then.
  • Facebook Fallout: Is it time for Zuckerberg to go? – I’ll admit that I am not as big of a user of Facebook as I was in college. My interest peaked and now I only occasionally look up old friends and see what they are doing. After multiple redesigns and the usability taking a nosedive, I just lost the desire to visit the site. Maybe it is time for Mark Zuckerberg to go.

Leave a comment with your thoughts!

Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy seem to be dead-set on getting their way at the G20 summit in London. Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, and President Obama have sort of joined forces to push their agenda for economic recovery, which includes more bailouts. Merkel, the German Chancellor, has said multiple times that she wants nothing to do with bailouts on a global scale. The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has also echoed those sentiments.

This is an impasse of sorts. Both Germany and France have experienced government intervention in the free market and have first hand knowledge of the effects of economic socialism, yet both Brown and Obama are not taking notice. Merkel seems to be jumping up and down and waving her arms at a person across the room while the person just stares past her. Her qualm is not with doing more socially, it is with taking money from healthy companies and markets and injecting it into dying companies. It is a form of evolutionary ethics and no one is taking notice.

Europe also has its own best interest at heart. If the Obama plans for more government healthcare and less military bases abroad actually come to fruition, the European way of life takes on a completely different form. For years Europe has been dependent on U.S. bases abroad to subsidize their domestic policies, if the money was to significantly reduce or dry up, the governments would be forced to make cuts and in some places completely remove programs that people rely on. This is not a cut and dry issue by any means, but Merkel and Sarkozy are trying to make it obvious that the path Obama is proposing is not the correct one. What Obama decides to agree on puts in motion what happens next here in the U.S.