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May 26, 2014

EFF Report- Who is Protecting Your Data from Government Requests?



The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) constantly fights for our right to privacy on the Internet. It’s an organization every single person who values privacy ought to support financially, as they are continually beating back Leviathan when it comes to issues of personal privacy online.

In this fourth-annual report, EFF examines the publicly-available policies of major Internet companies—including Internet service providers, email providers, mobile communications tools, telecommunications companies, cloud storage providers, location-based services, blogging platforms, and social networking sites—to assess whether they publicly commit to standing with users when the government seeks access to user data. The purpose of this report is to allow users to make informed decisions about the companies with whom they do business.

Their report titled “Who Has Your Back” (download PDF version) is a detailed investigation of which companies actively fight for your right to privacy and which companies don’t. They evaluated companies based on six criteria:

1. Require a warrant for content of communications.
2. Tell users about government data requests.
3. Publish transparency reports.
4. Publish law enforcement guidelines.
5. Fight for users’ privacy rights in courts.
6. Publicly oppose mass surveillance.

It’s a valuable report for you if you’re looking to vote with your dollars, something I highly recommend you do, and support only those companies who will support you, their customer.

These questions are even more important in the wake of the past year’s revelations about mass surveillance, which showcase how the United States government has been taking advantage of the rich trove of data we entrust to technology companies to engage in surveillance of millions of innocent people in the US and around the world. Internal NSA documents and public statements by government officials confirm that major telecommunications companies are an integral part of these programs. We are also faced with unanswered questions, conflicting statements, and troubling leaked documents which raise real questions about the government’s ability to access to the information we entrust to social networking sites and webmail providers.

There were some surprises on the list for me, as I was not aware of the pro-privacy stance of some of the companies listed. Others, like Twitter, Google and Microsoft, are companies I’ve written about repeatedly when their refusal to give up private information takes them to court at their own expense. That’s the true test of a company’s commitment to privacy really, isn’t it? Do they merely pay lip service to the notion or will they back it up with cold hard cash.

I was appalled but not surprised that both AT&T and ComCast routinely give up personal information without a warrant and pleased to see, Apple and Dropbox (among many others) all required a warrant first. All three of these companies also back up their belief in privacy with their own cash when they fight the government in court.

That’s a good thing.

The next largest single factor in the privacy battle is whether the company you deal with will tell you if the government is after your personal information. A shocking number of companies will not tell you this, including both the aforementioned AT&T and ComCast. For me, the fact ComCast “fights for users’ rights in court” is meaningless since they don’t require a warrant and won’t tell me if some government goon is after my personal information. But that’s just me, and I don’t use ComCast. Or AT&T.

We are pleased to announce that nine companies earned stars in every category: Apple, CREDO Mobile, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Sonic, Twitter, and Yahoo. In addition, six companies earned stars in all categories except a court battle: LinkedIn, Pinterest, SpiderOak, Tumblr, Wickr, and WordPress. We are extremely pleased to recognize the outstanding commitment each of these companies has made to their users.




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April 2, 2014

Bill C-13 is Conservative Government’s Attempt to Police Internet (and strip you of your rights)


Bill C-13 – dubbed the “Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act” is really an attempt by our so-called Conservative government to re-introduce measures from their failed Bill C-30, “Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act”.

You remember that one, right?

That’s the bill where then-Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said you either sided with the government (and abdicated your Right to Privacy) or you sided with child pornographers.

You either embraced warrantless searches or you sided with child pornographers.

You either give up your rights or you are no better than child pornographers.

Refusing to give up my Rights means no such thing.

That stance does not change simply because the Steven Harper shuffled the deck chairs and there are new faces sitting in the seats of the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety.

That stance does not change simply because they want to re-introduce atrocious portions of failed legislation under a new name and bill number.

My right to privacy will not be sacrificed under Bill C-13, “Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act”, whose much less catchy name is “An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act”.

The text below is from the introduction to Bill C-13, the “Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act”.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to provide, most notably, for

(a) a new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images as well as complementary amendments to authorize the removal of such images from the Internet and the recovery of expenses incurred to obtain the removal of such images, the forfeiture of property used in the commission of the offence, a recognizance order to be issued to prevent the distribution of such images and the restriction of the use of a computer or the Internet by a convicted offender; (Note: cyber-bullying and privacy violations)

(b) the power to make preservation demands and orders to compel the preservation of electronic evidence; (Note: “compel” means charge you criminally if you refuse their “demand”)

(c) new production orders to compel the production of data relating to the transmission of communications and the location of transactions, individuals or things; (Note: failure to follow a production order is in itself a criminal offense.)

(d) a warrant that will extend the current investigative power for data associated with telephones to transmission data relating to all means of telecommunications;

The enactment amends the Canada Evidence Act to ensure that the spouse is a competent and compellable witness for the prosecution with respect to the new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

Bill C-13 is about far more than cyber-bullying.

Of the cyber-bullying aspect of Bill C-13 Tim Banks of writes,

Whether the original image results from misplaced trust in a partner, a lack of judgment, deliberate risk taking, or coercion, the act of distributing intimate photos or videos without consent can have serious social and economic consequences for the individual whose image is being circulated.

However, criminal law is a blunt instrument to deal with these problems, and Bill C-13 is no exception. The legislation would criminalize any distribution of intimate material without consent irrespective of the motives of the individual who distributes the material.

Perhaps in an attempt to balance issues of freedom of expression, Bill C-13 requires the victim to have had a reasonable expectation of privacy both at the time that the image was taken and at the time the image is distributed. Even then, the distribution of the image will not be criminal if it is for the “public good”.

As Tim says, this is tough legislation to get right, so why compound this problem by adding the kitchen sink into the bill?

For example:

  • Police could make a “demand” under 487.012 to preserve computer data in their possession or control where “reasonable grounds to suspect an offence has been committed.” No actual crime… just “reasonable” grounds a crime might be committed. No judicial approval required, and refusing this “reasonable” demand is a separate criminal offense.
  • Bill C-13 allows tracking of individuals or items through “tracking devices”, or GPS. It also allows for covert installation and removal of these “tracking devices.”
  • Bill C-13 broadens “protected” group status further under the hate crimes provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada.

To quote Terry Wilson of,

This is almost word for word, the same legislation as the former Bill C-30. It is a highly dangerous piece of legislation that in all honestly is not needed for cyberbullying, unlike what the government would have you believe. Laws to arrest the people involved in the cases of Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons (who are being held up as the “poster” children for this legislation) where already in place. The police just simply did not act.

Write Justice Minister Peter MacKay and demand this bill be rescinded and replaced with a bill that deals specifically and only with cyber-bullying.

Write Prime Minister Stephen Harper and demand this bill be rescinded and replaced with a bill that deals specifically and only with cyber-bullying.

Write your MP today and demand this bill be rescinded and replaced with a bill that deals specifically and only with cyber-bullying.

Make these people aware your support for this Conservative government depends upon this government’s respect for the rights of all Canadians while dealing with the cyber-bullying issue. is once again leading the charge. From their website:

The government is about to ram through a new law which provides immunity to telecom companies that hand over our sensitive information without our knowledge or consent.

We’re at a crucial stage in this fight; with the government imposing time allocation motions and closure to severly restrict debate, now more than ever we must ensure that pro-privacy voices are heard by decision makers in Parliament. Your support today will enable us to make sure your voices are heard in Ottawa.



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September 22, 2013

Canada’s National Firearms Association Publicly Posts Membership Info… Ooops!


NFA-Website-LogoGuarding personal information is a corporate responsibility and one that must be taken seriously by both individuals and the companies they do business with. This fiduciary duty was, unfortunately, broken by Canada’s National Firearm Association on their website,

The news broke on the Canadian Gun Nutz forum on September 22, 2013 at 02:23 AM in a post titled “NFA Membership – Full Names visible to public” after the original poster notified the NFA about the security leak on their website.

“I noticed today that full names of people who purchase NFA memberships are visible to the internet public. I don’t want to post the url, but I found it today searching various things. I’ve sent an email to the NFA about it,” wrote CGN user mstoetz1.

The leaked information was removed from the NFA’s website by Sunday morning, although cached copies of the data were still available through Google’s search engine cache if you used certain search terms.

CGN user Over_Kill wrote:

NFA and/or their web company need to fix this ASAP. Over 4,600 names on that list with first/last names, contribution amount, and date of contribution. No address information though (and thank goodness).
Just out of curiosity, I picked a unique name at random (something I thought was a rare name), plugged it into Google with the word “guns”, and found a “like” on facebook for a firearms company in Ontario, that lead me to the facebook profile of the person on the list, and his address (town/province only). It was a small town, so a quick trip to with the name and town, got 2 listings for that name in that town with address and phone number.
As I said, the NFA list doesn’t contain address or phone number information, but anyone wanting to find that information could do so for at least some portion of the list, and with reasonable accuracy.

This obviously was not done on purpose, as no organization willingly posts the names of their members online without first obtaining permission, but it does highlight the necessity for every organization to take privacy seriously, something the National Firearms Association, or at the very least Chameleon Creative, the NFA’s web services provider, did not.

Shawn Bevins, spokesperson for the NFA, wrote:

The information has been removed and no information has been compromised, according to our admin log none of this information was downloaded or copied.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bevins is not a security professional, nor does he know much about what an admin log will or will not show. CGN User Alter3D set him straight, however.

Firstly, thank you for your quick action in dealing with this when the problem was brought to light. That’s probably one of the fastest, most professional responses to a security problem that I’ve seen — and I deal with a lot, since I work in IT.
That said, my IT knowledge also calls “bollocks” on your claim that none of the information was downloaded or copied. Every single person who viewed that list “downloaded” it, even it it stayed in their web browser, so if you’re claiming that no one downloaded it, I can tell you, categorically, that you’re wrong, because at least 4 people in this thread (myself included) have “downloaded” it to view it in their browser. Your “admin logs” would have NO WAY to know if someone copy/pasted it out of their browser and into, say, Excel.
If you mean that people’s personal details like address, credit card info, etc was not compromised is a different issue that I would be willing to believe, but the list as exposed by the OP was definitely downloaded and could have been easily copied.

Shawn Bevins tried mitigating the NFA’s public relations nightmare but he only succeeded in digging himself and his organization a bigger PR hole.

Our system tracks all IP address’s that access our site and logs those addresses, we will pull every single IP address that gained access to the NFA\ORDER page going back to 2010 .We will then run an IP finder report to know where the hits came from. Finding out who accessed the page is easy. Stealing private information including copy & paste is a crime. If anyone here has saved information found on this link, we require that it be destroyed immediately. There are copyright disclaimers on our web page and those rights will be enforced.

The National Firearms Association posted their membership list publicly, if unintentionally. Anyone accessing that publicly-available data isn’t stealing anything. Bevins claim that anyone “stealing” private information would be charged with a crime is completely missing the point. This is the NFA’s failure and nobody else’s.

There is no copyright infringement by accessing this readily-available information. It is, however, a violation of the National Firearms Association’s own privacy policy, which states in part:

Canada’s National Firearms Association (the Association) is committed to protecting the privacy of members whose personal information is held by the Association through responsible information management practices. Any personal information provided to Canada’s National Firearms Association is collected, used and disclosed in accordance with the Federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (BC Personal Information and Privacy Act -PIPA).

The fault here is NOT with anyone who accessed supposedly confidential data, but with an organization that claimed to take the protection of personal information seriously and did not. Pointing fingers at others for their own mistake simply won’t cut it.

CGN user Over_Kill put it best when he wrote:

Absolutely horrendous security on the NFA’s part. Why is this info even on an outward facing server in the first place?
What the NFA should be doing is giving a VERY humble apology to EVERYONE LISTED ON THAT PAGE, and soon. Yes, my name was on that page as well, and this astounding failure on the NFA’s part will make me think long and hard before I renew my membership in an organization that clearly (in my opinion) doesn’t take security and privacy seriously.

Privacy and security of personal information is not joke. Every organization must take that duty seriously. It is unfortunate that the National Firearms Association and/or Chameleon Creative did not.

They are, however, to be commended for taking action quickly as soon as they were made aware of the issue.

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February 22, 2013

A Victory for Privacy Rights! Conservatives Kill Bill C-30



When the Conservatives introduced Bill C-30, titled the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, Vic Toews said anyone who didn’t agree with the bill was standing “with the child pornographers”.

In light of that stand, I suppose it’s reasonable to conclude Vic Toews is now standing “with the child pornographers” in the wake his government’s decision to kill off the bill.

In the wake of massive public outcry and social media campaigns against Bill C-30 Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced, almost a year to the day Vic Toews introduced Bill C-30 to parliament, he was putting the final nail in the coffin of a bill that would have stripped Canadians of one of their most fundamental Rights: the Right to be Free from Unreasonable Search and Seizure.

Here is an excerpt of the Ottawa Citizen article on this announcement:

Almost one year after introducing its controversial Internet-surveillance bill, the federal government has conceded the measure is officially dead due to public outrage.

Shortly after tabling new legislation that incorporates some of the less contentious elements of Bill C-30 related to emergency wiretaps, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson admitted Monday that the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act will not proceed.

“We will not be proceeding with Bill C-30 and any attempts that we will continue to have to modernize the Criminal Code will not contain the measures in C-30, including the warrantless mandatory disclosure of basic subscriber information or the requirement for telecommunications service providers to build intercept capability in their systems,” he said Monday.

“We’ve listened to the concerns of Canadians who’ve been very clear on this and we’re responding to that.”

This is great news.

Governments only change direction when they learn it will cost them votes. Politicians don’t care about anything else.

So the next time your elected officials try implementing more anti-Freedom legislation, make sure they know it will cost them dearly… when we do it’s amazing how fast they stop dead in their tracks.

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December 27, 2012

Hypocritical Anti-Gunners – Careful What You Wish For



Anti-gun zealots got a lot more than they bargained for after publishing the names and home addresses of New York handgun permit holders.

On December 24, 2012, The Journal News got up on it’s high horse and published an article titled “The gun owner next door: What you don’t know about the weapons in in your neighborhood“, which included links to two interactive maps. These online maps contained the names and addresses of thousands handgun permit holders in New York’s Westchester and Rockland counties.

red_icon-246x250Needless to say, gun owners and privacy advocates were furious, just as Canadians were back when the Ottawa Citizen pulled a similar stunt here in Canada. The only difference was the Canadian information didn’t contain names and addresses of gun owners, “just” their postal codes along with every firearm they owned.

This time it’s far worse as the names and home addresses of every permit holder in these two counties are displayed on these maps.

Common sense and decency appear to be rare commodities at The Journal News, as evidenced by the self-righteous justification spewed forth by Janet Hasson, president and publisher of The Journal News Media Group.

“New York residents have the right to own guns with a permit and they also have a right to access public information.”

Janet Hasson is correct legally, if not morally. Under current law, the names and addresses of all license holders is considered public information.

5. Filing of approved applications. The application for any license, if granted, shall be filed by the licensing officer with the clerk of the county of issuance, except that in the city of New York and, in the counties of Nassau and Suffolk, the licensing officer shall designate the place of filing in the appropriate division, bureau or unit of the police department thereof, and in the county of Suffolk the county clerk is hereby authorized to transfer all records or applications relating to firearms to the licensing authority of that county. The name and address of any person to whom an application for any license has been granted shall be a public record.

Clearly this law needs to be changed to protect the personal information of license holders.

That said, just because you can do something, does that really mean you should? Just because it’s legal, does that mean it’s the right thing to do?

No-Handguns-Allowed-150x150As long as you’re a gun-hating zealot, the answer is a resounding YES! Anything that can advance the anti-gun agenda is fair game, especially if it endangers the lives of those neanderthal gun owners.

CynDee Royle, editor and vice-president of the paper, said after the article was published,

“We knew publication of the database would be controversial, but we felt sharing as much information as we could about gun ownership in our area was important in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings. People are concerned about who owns guns and how many of them there are in their neighborhoods.”

People willing to jump through all the legal hoops to obtain a handgun permit in New York State are hardly the criminals-in-waiting Royle and Hasson makes them out to be. They are, in fact, the most law-abiding citizens there are.

I think an interactive map publicizing the name and home address of every convicted pedophile would be far more useful to citizens concerned about the safety of their children.

Then, of course, there are the Unintended Consequences.

The problem with what The Journal News did is far greater than it appears on the surface. It’s not just about an invasion of privacy, it’s about the safety and security of every person included on that map, which just happens to include law enforcement as well.

One very upset member of law enforcement wrote under a pseudonym:

My name and address appear on that map and to say the least, I’m pissed. In all my years as a LEO, I listed my telephone using a pseudonym and my vehicles and driver’s license came back to a post office box. Now these idiots have identified my address.

All the cases I worked as a detective involved career criminals and lots and lots of those low-lifes were sent to prison with extended sentences. Hell, they all knew my name as the cop that put them in prison but none were able to find me outside of the detective squad where I worked.

So now I have to be on super high alert wherever I go just in case one of these nit-wits decides to look me up? WTF!!!

Well, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander too, right? Apparently not, at least as far as The Journal News website is concerned.

When Christopher Fountain posted the name, home address and phone number for the paper’s publisher, Janet Hanson, (3 Gate House Lane, Mamaroneck NY 105643 (248-) 594-2197) that comment was promptly deleted.

Seems all this talk of “freedom of information” is just a one-way street.

Shocking, I know!

network-blue-150x150As a result of this, Christopher Fountain made a decision.

If posting her name, address and phone number wasn’t okay on the newspaper’s website, he’d post that information on his own blog. He then went a few miles further and posted the names, addresses, phone numbers and anything else he could find out about the employees of The Journal News to his blog.

Suddenly the shoe is on the other foot and the hypocrites at The Journal News are no longer quite so thrilled with all this “access to information”.

Again, I’m shocked.

Below you will find contact information for every person working at The Journal News as it was posted on Christopher Fountain’s blog. I’m reposting it here in the interest of openness and fairness. If it’s okay to publish the names and home addresses of New York State Gun owners, surely it’s okay to do the same for the publishers and staff of the newspaper so willing to hop up on their high, hypocritical horse, right?

White Plains newspaper The Journal- News, a Gannett publication, has published the full name and address of every licensed pistol permit holder in three New York counties. I don’t know whether the Journal’s publisher Janet Hasson is a permit holder herself, but here’s how to find her to ask:

(UPDATE: Uh oh – InstaPundit’s linked here. Hundreds of thousands of readers; Janet, you have a great Christmas Eve)

Janet Hasson, publisher,Journal News

Janet Hasson, publisher,
Journal News

Janet Hasson, 3 Gate House Lane, Mamaroneck, NY 10534.

Phone number:

(914) 694-5204


Here’s a photo showing her Mamaroneck house – interior shots are on Zillow:

janet-hasson-3-gate-house-rd-mamaroneckUPDATE: From reader RJS: Gannett’s CEO-

Gracia C Martore
728 Springvale Rd
Great Falls, VA 22066
(703) 759-5954


The reporter on the story is

Dwight R Worley
23006 139 Ave
Springfield Gardens, NY 11413 (718) 527-0832

UPDATE: Intrepid readers have come up with all sorts of contacts for these people:


Miss Royle’s married name is Lambert. She lives in White Plains and here is her Facebook page complete with pictures of her and her kids. Hello Sanctimony.

Cynthia R Lambert
17 Mcbride Ave
White Plains, NY 10603 (914) 948-9388

Work: 914-694-5001
Drives a red convertible:
Family photo:

Publisher, Janet Hasson,

3 Gate House Lane, Mamaroneck NY, 10543

(914) 694-5204


Reporter, Dwight R. Worley, 23006 139 Ave

Springfield Gardens, NY 11413

(718) 527-0832

The “Visual Editor” responsible for the map itself is:

Robert F. Rodriguez

(w) Stephanie Azzarone
Home (212) 222-4566
420 Riverside Dr, Apt 7A
New York, NY 10025-7748

Publisher: Janet Hasson (@janhasson on twitter) 3 Gate House Rd, Mamaroneck, NY 10534


Gracia C Martore 728 Springvale Rd Great Falls, VA 22066 (703) 759-5954


–(Junior Editor) Nancy Cutler 9 Woodwind Ln, Spring Valley, NY. (845) 354 3485

Barbara Livingstone Nackman a Reporter on the municipal beat can be found here:
Barbara L Nackman
279 Farrington Ave
Tarrytown, NY 10591 (914) 332-5185

Swapna Venugopal Also a Reporter and can be found on
306 Quaker Rd
Chappaqua, NY 10514 (914) 238-4607

Mike Risinit
Michael J Risinit
42 Robinson Ln
Wappingers Falls, NY 12590 (845) 454-2278

Seth Harrison
107 Valleyview Rd
Irvington, NY 10533 (914) 231-5411

OTHER STAFF. Let them know you how you feel about the actions of their co-workers and management.

Albert Conte
Photo reprints
Work: 914-696-8401

Anjanette Delgado
Community Conversation (Forums, Blogs, Social Media)
Work: 914-694-5072

Brian Howard
Social Media Editor at The Journal News
Work: 914-666-6177

Carrie Yale
Visuals Director at The Journal News
Photography (Days)
Work: 914-694-5092

Caryn McBride
Print and digital news editor, award-winning journalist
Editor at The Journal News
Westchester County, NY
Work: 845-578-2434

Cathey O’Donnell
Journal News reporter in NY covering Westchester, Rockland and Putnam
White Plains
Investigative Reporter at The Journal News

Chris Brown
Graphics Artist at The Journal News

Chris Gaughan
Works at The Journal News

Dan Donovan
Comics, crosswords, Jumble, Sudoku, movie clock
Work: 914-694-5309

David McKay Wilson
Columnist at The Journal News, freelance journalist, cycling advocate
Mahopac, NY

Ed Cummins
News Editor at The Journal News

Ed Forbes
Digital Team/Homepage
“Ed Forbes, a @StLawrenceU and @columbiajourn alum, is the Digital Editor at The Journal News and Westchester resident, N.J. native, Ad’k expat.”
Lives in Mount Kisco, New York
From Randolph, New Jersey
Columbia, St. Lawrence
Work: 914-696-8488

Gary McGriff
Works at The Journal News

George Troyano
Vice President Sales & Marketing at Journal News Media-Gannett
Studied Marketing at Drexel University
Work: 914-694-5157

Heather Salerno
New York-based journalist, wife and mom
Works at Feature writer for the Journal News
Studied at Georgetown University

Herb Pinder
Community Conversation / Opinion Page editor at The Journal News and
Work: 914-694-5031

James Kwasnik
Online Director at The Journal News, Technology/Analytics Editor
Work: 914-694-5172

Jill Mercadante
Multimedia/Marketing Editor at The Journal News

Joe McDonald
Local News, Local Content Editor
Work: 914-694-5099

Karen Croke
LoHud Weekend
Work: 914-696-8267

Kathy Moore
Local Content Editor
Work: 914-694-3523

Ken Valenti
“I’m a transportation reporter for The Journal News/”
White Plains, Westchester, NY

Linda Lombroso
Features Writer at The Journal News

Leah Rae
Journalist in Westchester County, N.Y., following local news, immigration trends, and cool maps.

Lee Higgins
Breaking news reporter for
Work: 914-696-8570

Liz Johnson
Food editor at The Journal News and in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam. Eater, drinker, gardener.
Lower Hudson Valley
Work: 914-694-5075

Mary Dolan
Deputy Managing Editor, Features editor The Journal News/
White Plains
Work: 914-694-5230

Mike Meaney
Morning breaking news
Work: 914-696-8565

Nancy Cutler
Opinion editor, Rockland, The Journal News/
Rockland County, NY
Work: 845-578-2403

Nights, weekends, holidays and news tips: 914-694-5077

Phil Reisman
Columnist for The Journal News/
Westchester, NY

Robert F. Rodriguez
Visuals Editor / Photo Editor at The Journal News
Photography, Nights
Studied at NYU
Lives in New York, New York
Married to Stephanie Azzarone
Work: 914-694-5092

Sean Mayer
Sports and Operations Editor for the Journal News Media Group.
Studied at Binghamton University
Married to Randi Kravetsky-Mayer
From Monroe, New York
Work: 914-696-8527

Swapna Venugopal
Reporter, The Journal News at Gannett
Staff Writer,The Journal News/
Write about politics, development issues and life in Westchester County, New York
Studied at New York University
Lives in Chappaqua, New York
From Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Work: 914-696-8229

Thane Grauel
Local Editor Rockland/Digital Editor at The Journal News
Norwalk, Conn

Theresa Juva-Brown
Reporter at The Journal News
“Transportation/TZB reporter for The Journal News/ Reach me at tjuva@lohud.comwith tips/story ideas. I love hearing from readers/riders/drivers.”
White Plains, NY
Studied at Syracuse University
From Queens, New York

Contact Us
The Journal News and

Main Office:
The Journal News
1133 Westchester Ave.
Suite N110
White Plains, NY 10604

Main phone number: 914-694-9300
Report breaking news: 914-694-5077
E-mail breaking news:
Lobby Hours:
Monday – Friday
8 a.m. – 5 p.m. – open for visitors
Closed Saturday and Sunday

Home Delivery Operations Manager: John Czarnecki, 914-696-8540,
Director/Circulation Operations: Elaine Kirsch, 914-696-8511,
Single Copy Manager: Mauro Ferrotta, 914-694-5233,

News Managers
Sound Shore: Liz Anderson, 914-696-8538,
White Plains: Scott Faubel, 914-696-8569,
Northern Westchester: Robert Brum, 914-666-6579,
Yorktown-Cortlandt: Robert Brum, 914-666-6579,
Putnam: Robert Brum, 914-666-6579,
Rockland: Nicole Futterman, 845-578-2408,

Online Ad Director: Eileen Zaccagnino, 914-696-8463,
Director, Marketing and Client Solutions: Tessa Garcia, 914-694-5188,

Janet Hasson herself is married with one child, and her personal interests, as culled from her credit card records, are noted below:


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December 7, 2012

If you’re a Facebook user who values your personal privacy you’ll want to read this



Facebook, ever the defender of personal privacy, is giving users just a few days to vote down changes to their privacy policy. Failure to garner votes from 30% of Facebook’s users means the social media giant will no longer allow users to vote on privacy policy issues.

So, if you value your privacy on Facebook and want some small amount of control over what they do with YOUR personal information, vote now.

If you haven’t cast your vote by Monday, December 10th, 2012 you will be too late.

To quote the Yahoo News story about this:

So far, the vote stands at less than half a million, but is around six to one against the new Statement of Rights and Data Usage Policy.

The wording of the vote itself is not a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ – to vote against, users have to select, ‘Existing Documents: The current SRR and Data Use Policy’ as opposed to ‘Proposed Documents: The proposed SRR and Data Use Policy’.

Privacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Activism Director Rainey Reitman says, “The voting system currently in place doesn’t work; it is simply impossible to get 30% of the users (300 million individuals) to vote on anything on Facebook within 30 days.”

“The overwhelming majority of users participating in the vote right now are voting against removing the voting system.”

“We believe this shows that Facebook users are concerned that their voices will not be heard, and do not want to lose the ability have a say in site governance. While the vote may never end up binding Facebook, voters are sending a message about a serious concern, and one we hope Facebook respects and responds to.”

Facebook claims that the change is to streamline ‘voting’ in favour of a system that allows “meaningful feedback”.

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December 5, 2012

When Compliance with the Nanny State is More Important than Education



Andrea Hernandez just wants to get an education. She is, by all accounts I can find, a good student. She’s also a human being who understands we must never allow ourselves to be tracked like pieces of meat in a grocery store.

Andrea-Hernandez-protests-RFID-tracking-chips-250x198Andrea Hernandez decided that when her high school issued mandatory RFID-enabled high school ID cards, she would not be a sheep. Andrea Hernandez objects to the tracking chip for many reasons, including her personal right to privacy and also for religious reasons. For that Andrea is to be commended.

Andrea, backed by her parents, wrote a letter to the school expressing her Christian religious objections and was promptly told by school officials that “there will be consequences for refusal to wear an ID card.”

As a result of Andrea’s determination to be a free American citizen, her high school threatened to kick her out. For that, the bureaucratic thugs at John Jay High School ought to be ashamed of themselves.

In today’s Brave New America we are absolutely intolerant of individuality.

John Jay High School is one of many schools who want to track students’ every move inside school facilities. Why is beyond me, since kids have managed to get educated for centuries in America without being tracked like… well, like pieces of meat.

It makes sense to track pieces of meat through our food supply chains. Should something go horribly awry at the meat processing plant we can track down each and every bit of contaminated cow and destroy it.

That actually makes sense.

But tracking the movements of kids throughout the school, every minute of every day? Is this really necessary?

NO, it is not.

Unconditional obedience to the State is not an American value. In fact it’s the exact opposite of an American value, and that’s precisely why the incessant tracking of our children must be fought everywhere it rears its ugly Nanny State head.

Once found, that head should be cut off and mounted on a stick for all the world to see, perhaps with a sign underneath that says “Liberty Lives Here”…

It’s just a thought.

In reality, this isn’t actually about tracking the kids at all. Not really. It’s about money. Government money. And being good little bureaucratic minions, the San Antonio School District wants more government money. The path to that mythical pot of gold runs directly through student attendance records. The more kids they can prove are attending class, the more money they can beg from the government, hence the intense push to track the movements of every single student in John Jay High School.

The Rutherford Institute took on Andrea Hernandez’ case and filed a temporary restraining order against the high school. A Bexar County judge agreed, and for the moment Andrea is “allowed” to attend classes without the mandated RFID chip tracking her movements.

“The court’s willingness to grant a temporary restraining order is a good first step, but there is still a long way to go—not just in this case, but dealing with the mindset, in general, that everyone needs to be monitored and controlled,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.

“Regimes in the past have always started with the schools, where they develop a compliant citizenry. These ‘Student Locator’ programs are ultimately aimed at getting students used to living in a total surveillance state where there will be no privacy, and wherever you go and whatever you text or email will be watched by the government.”

John Whitehead isn’t wrong.

This restraining order is only a temporary measure, however, and there is a long legal road ahead of Andrea and the Rutherford Institute.

If you feel strongly about the issue of personal privacy and wish to support Andrea Hernandez’ case, please contact Nisha Whitehead at the Rutherford Institute directly.

There is one final tidbit of hypocrisy to report, of course.

School officials quietly tried bribing Andrea Hernandez with an uninterrupted education if she would just wear a badge that did not contain the tracking chip so everyone would see her “compliance” with the Student Locator Project, as it’s so lovingly called.

My question is the obvious one, of course.

If it’s okay for Andrea not to wear the tracking chip ID card, why should everyone else wear one?

Oh silly me. What was I thinking??? Think of all the money they’ll lose of every student refuses to comply, just like Andrea!

How will we train kids to be good little automatons if we allow them to think for themselves, protect their personal privacy and have their own thoughts on religion?

How very anti-Nanny State of me.

I’m sure the censors will be coming for me shortly…

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October 16, 2012

Attn: BC Residents! You Can Still STOP Your Smart Meter Installation


The information below is if you still have your ANALOG meter in place.  Information on how to get rid of your already-installed Smart Meter is not yet available, but will be posted at Citizens For Safe Technology as soon as it is.

Here is the latest information from Citizens For Safe Technology on dealing with BC Hydro and its Smart Meter program.

Your Guide to Understanding and completing your Non-Negotiable PRIVATE NOTICE PRIVATE OWNER’S “CLAIM OF RIGHT” for “Electrical Code Compliance.” 


There are a few blanks to fill in and easy, short instructions for how to send your notice:

This is the form that is easily filled out for sending REGISTERED MAIL to BC Hydro:

You can TYPE DIRECTLY into the _________ spots, by simply clicking on them. A rectangle will appear and you can type whatever is required.


Differences between the Private & Public


This is to post by your meter. It is NOT to take the place of the written forms; it is IN ADDITION to them. Doing the “Claim of Right Form” is REQUIRED for you to help prevent meter install.

N.B. You will not be able to just post the poster and have that be the end of it. You will be required to first take the quick easy steps in the INSTRUCTION GUIDE (noted above).

Further Information:

Note that other sites within this movement against meters will be carrying this documentation so people can be referred to them also. Solidarity is key in this issue from leadership to individual, just as it has been from the beginning.

Read all of these documents in their entirety, preferably more than once. Most importantly, get this tool to as many people as possible, as soon as possible. For people without computers, or “English as a second language” persons, or anyone confused by, or incapable of following, these directions, offer to help them to fill in and send the form.

“The contents are for educational purposes only. The author is not an attorney and cannot give legal advice. If you require legal advice, by all means find a competent attorney. Please accept these offerings as given.  For some, these materials may offer assistance in finding viable solutions.”


Further, please read “R. v. Dell” below, an Alberta court case in 2005 which addresses PRIVATE RIGHTS!  Here we have a COURT OF CANADA in AGREEMENT. This case identifies the PRIVATE, and explains its POWER within the PUBLIC. Specifically how, PUBLIC laws (Legal Statutes, Acts, Policy, Bylaws, Rules and Regulations) do not apply within the PRIVATE under the Rule of Law –– the common law.

The following are excerpts taken from the case. The actual case can be read at

R. v. Dell, 2005 ABCA 246 (CanLII)


“Section 52 sets out the fundamental principle of constitutional law that the Constitution is supreme…

The mere fact a private person or entity performs what may loosely be termed a “public function” or an activity “public” in nature will not suffice to bring it within the purview of government for the purposes of section 32 of the Charter…

For the charter to apply to a private entity, it must be found to be implementing a specific governmental policy or program…

An entity may also be government not because of the nature of the entity, but because of the nature of the activity…

The Charter does not apply to interactions between private citizens, except where the private citizen acts as an agent of the state or is performing a government function…

The undoubted corollary to be drawn from this principle is that no one can be convicted of an offence under an unconstitutional law…

Any accused, whether corporate or individual, may defend a criminal charge by arguing that the law under which the charge is brought is constitutionally invalid…

And both the purpose and the effects of legislation relevant in assessing a constitutionality and either an unconstitutional purpose or an unconstitutional effect can invalidate the legislation…

A court not only has the power but the duty to regard legislation found to be inconsistent with the charter to the extent of the inconsistency as of being no longer of force or effect.”

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October 13, 2012

Privacy: We don’t care about it until the invasion of privacy gets up close and personal


We live in a strange age.

We don’t care that airport security screeners take what amounts to naked pictures of us with their “porn scanners” before allowing us to board our flight, something that was unimaginable just ten short years ago.

We think nothing of posting our most private and intimate thoughts to Twitter or Facebook for the world to see.  We happily share photographs of our daily lives to these same social media sites without a single thought as to who might use these photos to do us harm.

We don’t even care that we are photographed by total strangers dozens or even hundreds of times a day by governments and corporations without our consent.

These same corporations and their RFID chips track our every purchase and even movements about their stores, yet we are unconcerned.

Our cell phones, the devices we just can’t live without, can be turned against us in a heartbeat yet we blissfully and ignorantly carry on as though there is nothing to be concerned about.

Yet when the invasion of privacy is up close an personal, when we can see the person tracking us,  suddenly we get our knickers in a twist and the world comes to an end.

Yet the unseen trackers, photographers and cell phone recorders don’t cross our minds for a moment…  Out of sight, out of mind, as the saying goes.

Perhaps our thoughts and priorities around personal privacy need to change.

YouTube user “IBMeddling” created a fantastic video that highlights this point.

Will how you operate in your daily life change after watching this short video?  I hope so.


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September 18, 2012

Privacy: A Relic from the Past


George Orwell was right.

Big Brother is watching!

So is the menacing Big Sis over at the U.S.’s ubiquitous Homeland Security.

That evil government department is in accelerated motion toward total world surveillance that transcends Orwell’s projections as well as that of screenwriters Patrick McGoohan and George Markstein whose unnerving British TV series The Prisoner portrayed a secret agent who suddenly resigned in disgust.

Knowing too much to be left unattended on the “outside”, he is captured and renamed No. 6. “The Prisoner” is held captive in a mysterious resort known as “The Village” where he struggles to retain freedom, privacy and identity until one of his numerous escape plots is successful.

“I am not a number; I am a free man,” he insists, defiantly. ”What do you want?”

“InFORmation,” thunders a pervasive voice, although it’s obvious the authority’s appetite for “inFORmation” can never be satisfied.

And here we are in reality, under constant espionage with little hope to evade the spies who want every particle of “inFORmation”.

Companies offering Internet-related products and services willingly do the government’s bidding without giving two hoots about computer users except as a profitable commodity.

Two major culprits, Microsoft Windows and Google, should be high on anybody’s priority list to be avoided like the bubonic plague, although shunning them is nowhere near full-proof protection against snooping.

Google tracks your searches and steals your gmail information, then may dump you upon believing they have mined every ounce of golden information likely to emanate from your account.

The biggest problem facing Computer Age consumers is loss of privacy due to unscrupulous technological wizards who offer you no say about what personal information can be collected or where it can be disseminated. The master thieves simply steal it.

If minimizing surveillance is possible and consumers want to retain a modicum of privacy, they should not operate seemingly magical platforms which are infected with malicious software.

Like freedom, once privacy is gone, you can’t get it back.


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September 16, 2012

Protecting Your Internet Privacy: Auto-Hide IP Software Review


Anyone who knows me, either personally or through my writing, knows that I value my personal privacy and take great pains to ensure that my private life remains just that: private.

I’m not a fan of government intrusion into my life, nor am I a fan of government or any other entity (Google & Microsoft, for example) who wants to track what I do online.

It’s simply none of their business.

The notion, then, of surfing the web anonymously holds great appeal for people like me and, if you’re reading this, perhaps for people like you too.

Companies like Google will, naturally, make it very clear that they do not track “people”, merely the sites that an individual IP address visits.  While that may technically be true, for the majority of home internet users it amounts to exactly the same thing. Home IP addresses, when you’re connected to any high-speed internet network, don’t change very often, which means you ARE your IP Address.

While there are many reasons why you would not want to be tracked by your IP Address, personal privacy is merely one of a host of reasons; protecting yourself from hackers and identity thieves or being geo-targeted are a couple more.

Did you even know that someone can pinpoint your physical location by your IP address?  Most don’t.


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September 5, 2012

Got an iPhone or iPad? Great! Big Brother loves you and is tracking your every move…


An interesting story crossed my desk this morning and kicked my spidey senses into overdrive.  Why?  Big Brother (aka the FBI) was caught spying on us regular folk yet again.

FBI Agent Christopher Stangl (semi-famous for an FBI recruiting video he made a few years back) had his laptop hacked by one or both of the hactivist groups Anonymous and Antisec.

Is it just me or is it somehow just the tiniest bit ironic that the FBI’s recruiter for cyber security experts is hacked so easily?

The hactivist groups gleefully posted some of what they found to the internet: over 12 million iPad and iPhone AppleIDs (Unique Device Identifiers or UDIDs) in a database.

The hacker groups also made it clear the FBI agent’s computer database also contained complete personal information for each one of the UDIDs including usernames, full names, addresses, zip codes and phone numbers.

During the second week of March 2012, a Dell Vostro notebook, used by Supervisor Special Agent Christopher K. Stangl from FBI Regional Cyber Action Team and New York FBI Office Evidence Response Team was breached,” claims the group.

The group said they found a file called “NCFTA_iOS_devices_intel.csv” which contained a list of 12,367,232 Apple iOS devices. The .csv file contained Unique Device Identifiers, user names, names of devices, types of devices zip codes, cell phone numbers and address, according to the group.

Setting aside the notion that hacking an FBI laptop could be labeled cyber-terrorism (perhaps “public service” is a better term in this case?), just what is the FBI doing with this information?

More importantly, why are they keeping tabs on over 12 million Americans with iPads and iPhones?

Shocking as it may sound, neither the FBI nor Agent Christopher Stangl was willing to speak to the press about this embarrassing revelation.

“The FBI is aware of published reports alleging that an FBI laptop was compromised and private data regarding Apple UDIDs was exposed,” said an FBI spokesperson. “At this time there is no evidence indicating that an FBI laptop was compromised or that the FBI either sought or obtained this data.”

Before the statement was released the FBI Press Office tweeted: “Statement soon on reports that one of our laptops with personal info was hacked. We never had info in question. Bottom Line: TOTALLY FALSE.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) did some digging through information it received earlier this year through Access to Information requests and what it found wasn’t reassuring.

July 26, 2012

Of all of the recent technological developments that have expanded the surveillance capabilities of law enforcement agencies at the expense of individual privacy, perhaps the most powerful is cell phone location tracking. And now, after an unprecedented records request by ACLU affiliates around the country, we know that this method is widespread and often used without adequate regard for constitutional protections, judicial oversight, or accountability.


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November 7, 2011

Illogical Paranoia: The Root Cause of Lost Freedoms


“The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to prevailing superstition or taboo.”
— H. L. Mencken, American journalist

The first principle of people-control is not to let them know they’re being controlled. That is the reason governments propagandize “crime-reduction” as a favorite motive when sneakily setting out to re-engineer society.

Take surveillance cameras in public streets, for instance. They are people-control devices billed as crime-reducers. And the public blissfully embraced the government ‘s tools for spying.

Following the 9-11 (2001) Attack on America, polls showed an astonishingly high percentage of the populace was conned into eagerly trading a pound of precious individual freedoms for an ounce of what they perceived to be safety.

“Whatever it takes to keep us safe,” the paranoids chimed in chorus.

One of those lost freedoms has been privacy, as well as dignity, both which are interwoven into the fabric of individual well-being. Unless this dangerous slide into an Orwellian age of totalitarianism is reversed, soon all freedoms will be stigmatized as deadly sins, and free-spirited, free-thinking individuals will be cast aside as shop-worn relics or locked up as criminals.

A person only has rights to something that can never be taken away by another. Natural–or birth–rights can never be taken away because the government is not the source of those rights.

However, those personal rights and freedoms can be and are denied in countries ruled by two-bit, tinpot, backwater dictators. Canadians and Americans are the latest casualties of their own illogical paranoia that has encouraged governments to encroach on those rights by snooping on people in the name of “public safety”.

“Here I am; I have nothing to hide,” they chimed stupidly in unison.

Canada seems bent on doing down this path, easily denying people their inalienable rights through vaguely-written laws, which are the tools of dictators, whether or not dictatorship was the original intent.

Under the guise of fixing a perceived problem, the newly-created laws end up watering down democracy. Incrementally, governments chip away until laws are abused. Then power is expanded that trample personal rights and freedoms like the environmental legislation, the Firearms Act and Anti-Terrorist Act.

And, if there is any justice, perverted as it may be, all the unconstitutional provisions in those parliamentary acts–especially the Firearms Act–are being paraded out to be included in other forms of freedom-sucking legislation for use on all other citizens who had no sympathy when gun owners were gored. The list of unconstitutional provisions is long but reverse onus comes immediately to mind.


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November 6, 2011

Big Brother Has Come Too Far in 10 Years


The hallway stank of boiled cabbage and old rag mats, both government-issued.

At one end of the hallway, a coloured poster, too large for indoor display, had been tacked to the wall. It depicted simply an enormous face, more than a metre wide: the face of a man about 45, with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly handsome features.

Winston made for the stairs. It was no use trying the lift. Even at the best of times, it was seldom working, and at present, the electric current was cut off during daylight hours. It was part of the economy drive in preparation for Hate Week.

Shades of useful Green idiots’ demand for Energy Conservation measures that has opened the means for a computer-age government to joyfully engage in more people-control by reducing the temperature to individual households and rationing brown-out-quality power distribution to two hours a night.

Winston’s government-assigned flat was seven flights up…On each landing, opposite the lift-shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which was so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move.

“Big Brother is watching you,” the caption beneath it read.

The above paraphrased words are from Nineteen Eighty-Four, a prophecy written by George Orwell, who was born Eric Arthur Blair on June 25, 1903, in India. The title is a reversal of 1948, the year Orwell wrote the futuristic story but was at a loss as to what to call his telling masterpiece before submitting to the publisher.

Orwell, a political writer, who could read the future because he was a profound observer and knew history, grew up in England and wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four because there was a lie he wanted exposed.

His initial concern was to achieve a hearing, just as thinking journalists today want to expose Big Banks’ hidden plot to manipulate the Bilderberg Group and corrupt United Nations to establish a One-World Government that is generations old in planning and incredibly evil in intent.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the 39-year-old protagonist Winston Smith wants to break the bonds and be free from totalitarian control held by The Party that is led by Big Brother.

It stands to reason that anybody, anywhere, caught under a tyrannical regime and has lost all freedoms of voice and movement would want to be out from under the thumb of big government.


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July 20, 2011

Blastogram: Statistics Canada is Revenue Canada’s Watchdog


I am blessed to live in a quiet sanctum and neighbourhood that are agreeable to going about my writing and research undisturbed.

One afternoon I nearly jumped out of my clothes when that serenity was suddenly shattered by an enormous pounding reminiscent of a doorbusting riot squad. I always expected when the Nazi SS came for me it would be a 5 o’clock morning surprise, not 5 o’clock in the afternoon.

If I were truly in danger, I had the ultimate option of risking life and limb by leaping over the balcony railing. Instead, and for the first time in my life, I felt compelled to grab the handiest object. It was an iron breaker bar tapered to a wicked point on one end for flipping off hubcaps.

I don’t know what good a hubcap-flipper could do against Tasers, 9 mm handguns or paramilitary paraphernalia. But the breaker bar provided a false sense of comfort until I could identify the intruder who may be nothing more than someone looped on stagger juice and had stumbled into the wrong building looking for a clansman.

“Who is it?!” I yelled.

The answer was another thunderous crashing that made my head hurt. If any tenants were home on my floor, they surely would be poking their heads out into the hallway to check on the obscene ruckus.



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May 27, 2011

The Hunt for Sonia Varaschin’s Murderer casts a wide net

Sonia Varaschin was a beautiful woman, cut down in the prime of her life by an unknown killer.  Unkown at least for now.

Sonia was reported missing on September 1st, 2010, and her body was found five days later in a rural area about 12 kms southeast of Orangeville, Ontario.  She was attacked in her home, and then driven in her own car to a remote location where her body was dumped.

The killer has, according to police, detailed knowledge of the Orangeville area, and could well be a resident of the area.  They’ve developed a profile of the man they believe killed Sonia, and have been asking for the public’s help from the very beginning of the investigation.

That a kind and caring nurse like Sonia Varaschin would be targeted and murdered is deeply disturbing, and not just to the residents of the small town of Orangeville.  A facebook site created to honour her memory was created and was almost instantly filled with kind words and prayers from over 3,000 people.

Her tragic death touched the hearts of a lot of people.

While police have been very tight-lipped about their investigation, they have released photographs of boots allegedly like the kind the killer would have worn at the time of the killing.  They have believed from the start that the killer lives in or has strong ties to the community.


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May 26, 2011

Blastogram: Be Aware and Beware Google

I’ve come to hate all things Google.

And, though I am ashamed to admit that I was into the Google-sponsored YouTube site, I am guilty of pawing around for the May 23 release of Freedom Watch and saw the message:


I was disappointed, but I wasn’t surprised.

I would expect Google, comprised of a nest of Marxists, to be censorial toward any one defending freedom and the U.S. Constitution. Host Judge Napolitano mainly interviews Republican Senators and Representatives, Reason Magazine editors/writers and his regular stable of freedom-fighters in an effort to convey his message.

It wouldn’t set well with the Google gang. After all, the multinational corporation that owns YouTube is said to have donated $373,212 to the Obama presidential campaign. Do you think that might have something to do with the removal of videos that espouse a strong Libertarian-Ron Paul-for-President bent?


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