Today’s front page: Remembering Nelson Mandela
Discussion: The implications of NSA cellphone surveillance
Our Readers Who Comment are having a field day with a terrific story that details the National Security Agency’s ability to keep a close watch on us all. Reporters Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani tell us that the NSA is “gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.” If you’ve got a cellphone, NSA can keep track of where you are and with whom you communicate. This fact became available from the trove of documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
As Gellman and Soltani write, “The NSA does not target Americans’ location data by design, but the agency acquires a substantial amount of information on the whereabouts of domestic cellphones ‘incidentally,’ a legal term that connotes a foreseeable but not deliberate result.”
We’ll start with JackArmstrong, who said, “A headline we will never see: “Washington Post/AP Aid Terrorist Nuclear Attack in D.C. Killing Thousands”
“News Organizations Divulge National Security Surveillance Methods, Enabling Terrorists to Avoid Detection”
We’ll never see this, not because it could never happen, but rather because WaPo and the other “news” groups will never own up to their role in aiding and abetting terrorists by publishing NSA and DHS classified surveillance methodologies. Their irresponsible flaunting of First Amendment rights to knowingly compromise our national security might seem like a righteous exercise to some -- until the next devastating terrorist attack makes them rail against governmental terrorist tracking “failures” that they, in fact, caused. National security and classified information exist for a reason. Wise up, before you endanger all of us.”
Offshore wind wrote, “With every new revelation I become more convinced that Snowdon has done the American public a tremendous service. He must be very brave because it sure took balls to realize this obscene invasion of our privacy was wrong and hopefully, by revealing it, enough anger and support will grow from citizens to end it.”
To which freepeacher replied, “Endanger all of us . . . like on 9/11? What was 9/11 anyway? Larry’s remodeling project? Why did he direct that WTC building 7 be collapsed on the afternoon of 9/11? And why did the collapse of Building 7 look just like the collapses of WTC 1 and 2.
gabby2 advised, “Don’t want to be tracked . . .get rid of your cell phone.”
RonPaulWins2012 wrote, “No, you shouldn’t have to give up your freedom of association, privacy, and belongings. Instead, get rid of the peeping uncle tom Obama, and get rid of the illegally spying creeps in NSA.”
gabby2 then asked, “Privacy? Surely you’re not worried about people’s privacy for those who conduct cell phone conversations in the most public places . . . and not quietly, I might add, or worse . . . those who walk around with a blue tooth growing in their ear?”
Stan Liberman said, “Edward Snowden should be caught and imprisoned for treason. With his actions he compromised national security by exposing tools and procedures that our national intelligence uses to protect the American people. He is not a whistleblower. He is a spy, because he entered the agencies with agenda in mind, lying on his applications and clearance documents and violating non-disclosure agreements.” Anything else is very much irrelevant.”
Ron Nussbeck wrote, “The Science of Future Predictability being used with the collection of metadata and biometric data from Cell, E-mail, Social and Internet provider information? Implications of these acts make person who controls it most powerful person in the world, Obama? Oh No ”
pogo13 said, “The problem is, the NSA is tracking a device and not a human. It is assumed that the human and the device are in the same place. The only sure way to track a human is to implant the device in the palm of the hand and in the forehead. The cranial implant would have the added benefit of being scanned by the same device that uses face recognition software. The hand implant will trace all financial transactions. There would be 666 possible combinations of algorithms which would be impossible to defeat. No matter how you look at it, 666 is a lot of algorithms. (and all this time, people thought we were the crazy ones )”
chrisbrown wrote, “I agree but not everyone knows how their movements are being monitored. This also allows people to be not only followed but to be “neutralized”. Such tracking of people and their reduction to ‘targets’ is dehumanizing and turns any person into a possible victim of an impersonal killing system.”
andrew23boyle said, “The government’s primary job is not to keep us safe. That is secondary, means to an end. And that end is the government’s most important job: to keep us free. That’s why the government will, if need be, draft young men and sacrifice their safety and even lives to defend our liberty. Liberty is to be valued more than life. The point of National Security, then, is to secure our liberty. When we start sacrificing our liberty in the name of security, things are backwards and very wrong . . . ”
hokie92 replied, “Liberty and freedom have been under assault in America for 100 years now. Americans have been willing to surrender on liberties in a countless number of ways for the interest of security; whether it be for physical security, financial security or for the guarantee of healthcare. We are no longer free in America. The government knows where we live, what our phone is, what our financial status is and what our personal health history is. The Patriot Act is much to blame. Now the ACA is the final brick in the wall. It’s done now and we’re not going back . . . ”
RubberHammer said, “Hey guys, there certainly is danger to us in what the NSA is doing, but only if we totally lose control of our government. I assure you, there is much greater danger to real and potential terrorists due to this activity than to the average American citizen. Good lord, people ! Do you want an ACTIVE anti-terrorist NSA, or a PASSIVE one? Wouldn’t it have been nice to have all these capabilities in the years leading up to September 11, 2001?. Might not have prevented the WTC episodes; but then again, it might have ”
To which Whys replied, “And we’d be safer if they did a physical search of all our homes too!”
We’ll close with hokie92, who wrote, “That is it maholly. The US military is not allowed to be used for domestic law enforcement. I trust that the good men and women working for the NSA understand that. Many of the disconnects between agencies that contributed to allowing 9/11 were actually meant to be disconnects. The fear hear is “Big Brother”. They have my phone ID. They know where I live, what I drive, what my bank account is, my mortgage, what my e-mail is, what my Washington Post web id is, which candidates I supported in the last election and now what my health history is. We accept that the government is going [to get] pieces of all of that. The fear is that the government might actually link all of that together, and use the US military to do that. The key issue seems to be what the limits are for the NSA to conduct domestic surveillance.”
All comments on this article and its accompanying graphic are here.
Disscussion: The Obamacare debate never slows
Based on the number of comments that attach themselves to articles about Obamacare, it’s clear that readers are both interested and concerned about how it will affect them personally, how it will affect the quality of health care generally and whether it is a good thing for the country.
As Sandhya Somashekhar and Amy Goldstein write, “consumer advocates say it is becoming easier for people to sign up for coverage but insurers warn that critical flaws continue to hinder participating health plans.” Their article has attracted more than 1,100 comments at this writing.
We’ll start with a cynical remark from WashThatManRightOuttaMyHair, who wrote, “Generic Democrat campaign ad for 2014:”I was for it before I was against it.”
aj49 said, “Dems are on Holiday recess and facing their constituents and they know if Obamacare fails, so do they. For the Dems -- 2014 is all or nothing
To which proudlyprogressive replied, “And when it succeeds, so does the nation. Little right wing minds.”
Skeptic said, “Co-Pays are irrelevant. Total out-of-pocket for the year is the relevant metric. People who care about co-pays are the same kind of deep thinkers who buy a car based on the monthly payment.”
ThinkThink2 wrote, “Who cares as long as every American has access to healthcare? We’ve waited years for this, what’s a couple of months?”
VWWV said, “you people need to realize one, very simple thing: If you HAD INSURANCE. You were ALREADY PAYING for “freeloaders” like homeless vets, schizophrenics, poor kids, and domestic violence victims. Why? Because hospitals are already required to not let people die on their doorsteps. If you really want this winner-take-all culture, then you need to pass a bill allowing Hospitals to deny care.”
Liberalandproudofit wrote, “The actuaries aren’t dumb. The ACA will pick up after the slow start. Whatever you may think of the president, some very smart people are working on this.”
To which cashman7323 replied, “LOL. Libs never do understand that what sounds good to an actuary does not pan out in reality. People are more like cats than sheep.”
Ah haa! said, “Just when you think this Obamacare debacle can’t get any worse, you wake up and read the paper and read about the latest disaster. When [Sen.] Al Franken (D-Minn.) says it’s bad it’s bad!”
And angie12106 added, “Yeah, he’s campaigning for next year -- hedging.”
gnsherman wrote, “I just don’t understand. You pay thousands of dollars for nothing. The insurance companies provide what? Yet, people are upset that these insurance companies are regulated to insure that they provide something. Who would have thought anyone could argue against this.”
And angie12106 said, “Yeah, Righties just don’t get it -- because they don’t THINK.”
Skunk at the picnic wrote, “That is simply not true. People can and do buy insurance that meets their needs. To say that millions don’t have any idea of their needs is stupid and insulting.”
We’ll close with this short conversation:
BartDad said, “My friend who makes about $30K had a $180/month policy that didn’t cover her asthma and had a $15K lifetime max. Now she gets a [bronze] policy that covers everything for $0 a month. Of course she has to pay the deductibles and copayments but as long as she keeps close watch on her asthma she won’t get sick.”
angie12106 said, “Great news.”
But bz11 replied, “Her cost of $0 per month is being paid by someone else yep great news ”
All comments on this article are here.
Discussion: Mental illness gets increased attention
Our Readers Who Comment are engaged in a serious debate about mental illness and its treatment (or absence thereof) in the aftermath of the stabbing of Virginia state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, apparently by his son, who then fatally shot himself, police believe. The young Deeds had undergone a psychiatric evaluation but was not admitted to a hospital because no bed was available.
We’ll start with EternalOptimist1971, who wrote, “This is just so sad. A young man is now dead, a father lying in a hospital bed injured and devastated by the loss of his son, all for the lack of a bed at the local psychiatric hospital operating under a limited budget. Something needs to be done to prevent this type of event from ripping another family apart. A better funding formula with more heart and a reduced “bang for the buck” attitude should be re-examined.”
CA_DixieMay said, “This exemplifies the depth of people’s not understanding mental illness ”State investigators said Tuesday that they were still trying to establish a motive and the sequence of events that led to the violence, which they said appeared to begin with an altercation between the men.” A motive? He was ill he was irrational and in serious need [of] hospital care. Condolences and well wishes to the family. These situations are terrible and I wish nobody had to go through them. We need to do a better job of aiding the ill person and protecting the rest.”
clausgehner wrote, “An investigation of mental health services is overdue in the whole country, not just in Virginia. The other question, however, which also bears some investigation, is, how did the son get hold of a firearm? This seems to be a recurring issue, that the parents/guardians of young adults with known mental issues seem to allow, or at least not adequately prevent, access to their guns. I am very much in favor of universal background checks, but even the most stringent of these would not prevent this kind of tragedy if the gun-owners do not act responsibly. Not to blame the victim at this point in the tragedy, but this could easily have cost other innocent victims their lives.”
Desertdiva said, “Coming from a medical care background if there are no beds there are no beds. Either there wasn’t adequate staff to open new beds or there weren’t new beds available. Either way you can’t produce something that doesn’t exist. I used to be in the homes with these people and I know first hand what it’s like to try and find someone a bed. The Deeds family incident isn’t unique but because of their name recognition it became public knowledge. Many of these people go on to kill their family members and it’s only a blip on the evening news.”
CynicalRant wrote, “Yes, the mental health system is a failure. We have people on meds who shouldn’t be, people without meds who need them, and people on treatments that will later prove to be harmful. The foundation is broken because of the health care system as a whole being run like a medication industry seeking higher profits. Simply put, people’s health ought to come before corporate profits. When will we start caring more about life than money?”
Lilmisspunky quoted the article, which said, “The attack on the senator brought new scrutiny to Virginia’s mental-health system,” then asked: “Is the senator’s son so much more special than another person who has mental health issues? Why won’t the media ever write this type of ‘hype’ story about some unknown person?”
Which prompted InMcLean2.0 to reply, “It’s not a ‘hype’ story. Famous people get more coverage because they’re, well famous. That’s how fame works.”
JMUgrad wrote, “Completely agree, InMcLean. I don’t understand why people would comment on something when they have no idea what they are talking about, especially after a tragedy like this. Deeds does have a public record of advocating for broader mental health availability and treatment. I feel that those who do not have compassion for others in times of intense loss, such as this, need to reevaluate what it means to be human.”
But lilmisspunky insisted, “yes, it is a ‘hype’ story because it involves a senator’s son. otherwise we wouldn’t hear about an unknown person with the same problems. its no more of an important issue because it now includes the senators son. it was an important issue BEFORE the senator’s son died.”
JPRS said, “Hopefully this incident refocuses attention on the issue of mental health services, so that legislators in Richmond finally take some serious action to expand access and treatment. If so, something positive might come out of this tragic situation.”
jackyk wrote, “It is inexcusable that in 2013 this country still dismisses mental illness as something that should stay locked in the closet. I recently supported a family from my church whose daughter was highly suicidal and she was only kept inpatient for four days because that’s all Medicaid would pay for. She is not well, she can’t afford her meds and she is not receiving the help she needs. I am saddened by the stories I’ve read and the people even in my own neighborhood who should be receiving comprehensive long-term help. God help us all.
TigerMil replied, “Of course it’s excusable. We elect and reelect the legislators who cut these programs and feed other programs with more political capital than mental health.”
We’ll close with m.a.mestek, who said, “More goverment spending that’s how we fix this. BS. it is priorities. If you go to a hospital bleeding they make room for you. Mental illness needs the same priority.”
All comments on this article are here.
Comments: New tools let you fix those typos
It’s the commenter’s lament: You formulate an opinion, carefully construct an argument, confidently click the post button and then gasp in horror to find you’ve used “their” in place of “there.”
We’ve heard your pleas.
Thanks to a new set of commenting features that are rolling out now, users will have five minutes after they’ve posted a comment to go back and edit it.
They’re There, isn’t that better?
You’ll notice a few more changes as well:
-- Improved Report Abuse options: By popular demand, we’ve broadened the options under Report Abuse to these: Spam, Offensive, Disagree, and Off Topic. We know there are many specific reasons a comment could merit moderators’ attention, and we think your help and these flags will allow our mods to react most efficiently to objectionable content. Thanks to all who provided helpful suggestions.
-- Easier access to ignored user list: A new drop-down menu next to your avatar allows you to easily access and manage your list of ignored users. From this menu, you can also view your profile and look at your My Comments page, which lists your comment-thread contributions.
Some sections of the Web site, including this blog and some other blogs, won’t see these changes immediately, so don’t be alarmed if you hit a comment thread that hasn’t yet been upgraded.
What do you think of these improvements? What should we tackle next? Let us know in the comments section below.
We’ve heard from users who had trouble finding the new location of the stream-sorting toggle. You can still sort a comment stream by newest, oldest and most-liked comments — just click on the triangle on the Comments tab.
Also, you’ll notice that the flow of new comments pauses when you hover your cursor over the comment stream. That’s a feature we’ve implemented to stop the comment stream from scrolling while users are leaving replies.
We’re eager to hear your feedback on all of our improvements.