"Application for Certain Tangible Things Background (docket no. BR 13-109) by Judge Claire Eagan (Ft. Federal Bureau of Investigation, General Keith Alexander, National Security Agency, President & United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court)

“Tangible things” eh? The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act vaguely defines this as:

including books, records, papers, documents, and other items

What’s interesting about this is the fact that Bush carried out similar operations between 2001-2005, though on what seems to have been a much smaller scale. Unfortunately for Bush, these acts were illegal in 2005. When the FISA amendments rolled around in 2008, however, the law was expanded under “section 215”.

Hence, the irony in the reaction after 2013’s revelations regarding the NSA’s spying, e.g. “it’s legal, don’t worry!”…Anyway, as you can see below, there’s been a huge uptick in the amount of requests since 2005. Most of which have had to be reworded by the judges, which is a bit troubling.

Note: the overall # still seems small, but understand that these requests are for huge telecom/internet companies, not for specific individuals, and they get reviewed and reinstated every 30-90 days at the FISC’s discretion.

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Screaming that he only trusts himself, Lean, Gucci Mane, And Me by Zach Schwartz 5

At this point in the movie, Tony has succeeded in alienating the people most important to him. Not hard to see where comparisons could be drawn with Gucci’s current situation.

http://youtu.be/BiPL28K-S4w

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@HassanRouhani Good evening, President. Are citizens of Iran able to read your tweets? Tweets with Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey by President Hassan Rouhani

Ever since Iran’s 2009 protests, there has been this wide-sweeping narrative that Twitter was the “medium of the movement”, one that is very attractive for the western capitalists of the world, but probably not too accurate. In his paper explaining the real role of Twitter during the protests, social technology researcher Evgeny Morozov jokes:

..who would have expected that after decades of blasting propaganda from dedicated radio and television channels, Americans would be able to support democracy in Iran via blogs and social networks?

Yes, Iran heavily censors the internet. In many ways, this deserves criticism. However, not from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who have largely assisted the U.S. government in turning social networks into a tool for domestic spying. Anyone who can’t see that lack of privacy is a very strong form of indirect censorship, is a fool.

Twitter > Food/Water/Medicine?

Again, it’s comical that Rouhani is such a prodigious tweeter, yet his people are not even allowed to use twitter. Fair enough. But why are Americans so concerned with twitter access in Iran, when many Iranians are facing restricted access to humanitarian trades, like food and medicine, due to a number of unilateral and multilateral sanctions imposed on the country? Sanctions, by the way, which have only really effected the people, and have done nothing but sour relationships with Iran.

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I challenge that just because you may not like someone else's aesthetic, does not mean that person has double crossed their creative intentions...and made them a sellout. Sell Outs in the Rap Game -- Praise and Criticism by Marc Ecko

This is something that Hip Hop fans, in particular, need to really think about. While Ecko brings up a good example in Jay Z, it’s hard to imagine any rapper has been called a sellout more times than his man Kanye. I mean, anyone else remember the reaction to 808s and Heartbreak?

For the most part, I think it’d be hard to argue that West is really a sell out. Name a piece of art the man released over the years, that he hasn’t put his heart and soul into…Of course, he did drop a fashion line this past year, which features a plain white “hip hop” t-shirt for $120. So, yeah..that argument may have just gotten a bit easier.

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Personally, I define sellout as "someone who double crosses their creative intentions--in exchange for money or the wishes of the devil.” Sell Outs in the Rap Game -- Praise and Criticism by Marc Ecko

This isn’t such a bad definition of “sellout”, but one could argue it’s a bit vague and doesn’t really serve to define a “sellout” in any meaningful way. It does well to render the phrase useless, though (which may not be so bad..)

Few would disagree that artists need patrons. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to continue creating at a high level. At the same time, art is a selfish process. Economics aside, it is concerned with self-expression first and foremost.

So, when does one draw the line between self-expression and economic security? How can we really determine if an artist has really contradicted their creative intentions? These are the tough questions not really addressed here.

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If you’re an artist, there is no way to achieve success without attracting cries of “selling out.” Sell Outs in the Rap Game -- Praise and Criticism by Marc Ecko

Starting out, you have to understand how this argument of art vs. commerce is being framed, and who is doing the framing:

  1. The author, Mark Ecko, references his “billion-dollar brand” three times in the first chapter of his new book. Clearly he is a staunch supporter of commerce, as well as an artist.
  2. Off top, it appears that he measures artistic success by how many people know your name or are familiar with your art.

Neither of these things are necessarily wrong, not at all. They are worth pointing out though, since both lay the foundation for the rest of this essay.

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He never claimed to be 2Pac. Dig? Was his creative intentions ever anything BUT becoming well known for his rap? Sell Outs in the Rap Game -- Praise and Criticism by Marc Ecko

Ecko is pointing out that, whether Drake came from any reasonable definition of “the bottom” or not, is completely irrelevant here.

You may not agree with him or his music, but the fact is, Drake never claimed to be “poor”. He never claimed to come from a tough neighborhood, or ever talked about having to sell drugs to feed his family. None of that stuff…

The dude started in corporate middle-America and rose to the upper-echelon. None-the-less, it’s more often Drake himself, or else his consumers, who forget this initial narrative, than it is his critics.

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Why does Drake catch so much flack over “Started from the Bottom”? What, he bottom wasn’t bottom enough? Says who and to what “standard” of bottom? Sell Outs in the Rap Game -- Praise and Criticism by Marc Ecko

Started from the bottom, now we’re hear…

Not

Started from the bottom, relative to where we’re at now…

Everyone has their own personal “katabasis”, and these types of things don’t really lend themselves well to comparison in the first place. Much of the criticism Drake received for this song was greatly exaggerated.

That being said, let’s get real…the criticism wasn’t much further over the top than Drake’s own claims of “starting from the bottom”. Just going off of the lyrics of the song, Drake describes his “bottom” as:

  • Once-a-month arguments with his mother/roommate
  • Holding a job in which he worked an 8+ hour shift
  • The traffic he often experienced when driving home after work.
  • His uncle hassling him to return the Lexus he had let him borrow.

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Heather Fox is not surprised to learn about the three-day Jay-Z lecture at the middle school. Opinion Piece on Sixth-Graders Studying Jay Z by Fox News (Ft. Todd Starnes)

Notice that no documents are presented, no real description of the assignment is given, and no names are mentioned anywhere in this article, except for that of Heather Fox, who has been a vocal proponent of education privatization in Desoto County, Mississipi. She often complains:

This is why we need appointed superintendents. Elected superintendents abuse their power, saturating the school administration and county offices with family and friends who have their own interests at the forefront..

Yes, you read that right…her solution to nepotism and unfair appointments is to take away her community’s right to elect their superintendents, thereby leaving every position subject to appointment. Makes a lot of sense huh? Why don’t we ask Chicago Public School parents and teachers about their unelected school board and superintendent?

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Appropriations provided under the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (P.L. 113-6) expire at 11:59 pm tonight. Memo on Government Shutdown by Office of Management and Budget (Ft. Sylvia M. Burwell)

Let’s face it, all politicians suck..but Republicans have been in overdrive the past few days, framing this debate over the budget as if it is the Democrats who are being unreasonable and “refusing to negotiate”. So what are the terms of this negotiation?

The GOP, a party that narrowly controls a single chamber of Congress, refuses to fund the rest of the government unless a law which was passed by both houses of Congress, fully debated in the subsequent presidential election, upheld by the supreme court, and unsuccessfully challenged in more than 40 legislative votes over the past year by the losing side, is delayed for another year. That law is, of course, “Obamacare”.

This was a hostage situation, not a negotiation. Even worse, the Republicans slipped in a number of other politically devastating terms:

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