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As new year nears, a word for our times: surveillance
Dec 30th, 2013 by Warren Swil

Debate over privacy

moves to top of agenda

A drone like this one could appear soon in the sky above your home.

IF THERE IS one concept that can summarize the zeitgeist of 2013, those In the K(n)ow would pick “surveillance.”
As the clock ticks down to a Gregorian-calendar new year, we can look back and see this topic as the most discussed and analyzed during the past 12 months.
Not only, however, in the narrow sense of government and corporate spying on everyone.
We also got a taste of the future – 2014 and further out – with skies full of drones capable of watching everyone, everywhere all the time.
Seems like George Orwell was only about 30 years off in his prediction of a total surveillance society so eloquently expressed in the novel “1984.”


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Those less fortunate: time for reflection

’TIS THE SEASON TO COUNT OUR BLESSINGS
As we endure the long mid-winter nights approaching the start of a new year, for many it’s useful to reflect on those less fortunate and count our blessings.
After all, isn’t that the true spirit of the seasonal holidays, however one celebrates them?
It is man’s inhumanity to man that is the cause of so much needless suffering. It’s time for us to focus on the more uplifting side of the human spirit, so we can renew our commitments to improve it rather than degrade it further.


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Spying on friends, charities doesn’t deter terrorism

LATEST DISCLOSURES WEAKEN CASE FOR MASS SURVEILLANCE
Through his disclosures, Edward Snowden has not only gotten the attention of President Obama, but other world leaders and countless millions who use electronic communications.
He has attained what he said he wanted: a major public discussion at the highest levels about a hugely important issue.
Congratulations.
He deserves to be heralded as the most influential person of 2013.


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Spying panel recommendations: a matter of trust

REPORT FURTHER ERODES FAITH IN ELECTRONIC PRIVACY
While the recommendations of a presidential panel on government spying have been mostly welcomed, they could be seen as a confession that the revelations of Edward Snowden are accurate, and that everyone for years has been monitored on a massive scale unprecedented in its scope and size.
The key issue is one of trust. It has been seriously damaged.
Reform is urgently needed. The longer it is delayed, the more trust will erode.


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Humanitarian crisis spreads beyond Middle East

REFUGEES FROM SYRIAN STRIFE STRAINING RESOURCES IN MANY COUNTRIES
The continuing bloody battle in Syria has spawned an unprecedented humanitarian crisis that is spreading across the region.
It was brought into the spotlight this week by the United Nations refugee agency.
We simply cannot close our eyes and ears to the plight of so many millions.
What began as an internal conflict has become one with global ramifications. We hope the international response is commensurate with the urgency of the problem.


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Despite tragedies, gun violence remains rampant in US

PERSONAL USE OF WEAPONS DEEPLY EMBEDDED IN CULTURE
More than a year after the shocking schoolhouse shooting at Newtown, Connecticut, little has changed in the picture of gun violence in the US.
It is a national embarrassment that so little of real consequence has changed in the US since the Newtown massacre.
The culture of gun violence runs deep the American psyche.
It is little wonder so many in the US feel it is acceptable to draw a gun at the slightest provocation, and settle even minor disputes this way.


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CAMERAS EVERYWHERE: Too many pictures are stifling memories

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH BEGINS TO PROVIDE CREDIBLE EVIDENCE
A newly published scientific study concludes that, indeed, the act of taking a picture – supposedly to keep the memory of the moment – actually interferes with that very memory. It is weakened.
The research is a first step in a broader understanding that putting a four-inch screen between one’s eyes and reality is not the optimal way of recording a visual experience.
We should think twice, or three times perhaps, before mindlessly spoiling our reality


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Healthcare website woes vanish from the news

OBAMACARE NARRATIVE MORPHS INTO GOOD-NEWS STORY
For more than six weeks, the story about problems with the federal web site created to enroll in health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act dominated the front pages – and the entire news cycle.
Now it is gone.
We have not heard the end of the Obamacare rollout disaster by any means yet. It is bound to haunt us at least through the next election cycle.
But the narrative has surely changed, just as predicted.


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Spying fallout: Internet giants launch offensive defense

CALL FOR CURBS ON GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE IS SELF-SERVING
Some of the biggest players on the internet launched a massive public relations campaign Monday calling for new limits on government surveillance.
But it is so transparently a move to protect corporate profits that only the most naïve would not see it as such.
The corporate appeal should be seen for what it is: an attempt to get the companies on the right side of an issue that poses an existential threat to them. It’s not a pretty picture.


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Inequality moves to top of the agenda

DROP IN UNEMPLOYMENT RATE MASKS WIDESPREAD STAGNATION
Several seemingly unrelated recent developments have turned the spotlight on the vast and increasing inequality in America.
President Obama used his Dec. 4 speech to focus clearly on the issue.
He is absolutely correct. His leadership on this issue is both moral and political: it is the right thing to do and a smart move politically.
It is a winning issue on which the president may yet reclaim his legacy.


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