TBC: Morning Musing 3.24.15

I have 4 things for your perusal this morning.

First, on the FISA Court:

To Protect Our Privacy, Make the FISA Court Act Like a Real Court

The expiration of key surveillance authorities this spring will force Congress to grapple with the sprawling spying activities exposed by Edward Snowden. Defenders of the status quo sound a familiar refrain: The National Security Agency’s programs are lawful and already subject to robust oversight. After all, they have been blessed not just by Congress but by the judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA court.

When it comes to the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, however, the FISA court is not acting like a court at all. Originally created to provide a check on the executive branch, the court today behaves more like an adjunct to the intelligence establishment, giving its blanket blessing to mammoth covert programs. The court’s changed role undermines its constitutional underpinnings and raises questions about its ability to exercise meaningful oversight.


Next, on America the plutocracy:

5 signs America is devolving into a plutocracy

Have you ever undertaken some task you felt less than qualified for, but knew that someone needed to do? Consider this piece my version of that, and let me put what I do understand about it in a nutshell: based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name.

And here’s what I find strange: the evidence of this, however inchoate, is all around us and yet it’s as if we can’t bear to take it in or make sense of it or even say that it might be so.

Let me make my case, however minimally, based on five areas in which at least the faint outlines of that new system seem to be emerging: political campaigns and elections; the privatization of Washington through the marriage of the corporation and the state; the de-legitimization of our traditional system of governance; the empowerment of the national security state as an untouchable fourth branch of government; and the demobilization of “we the people.”

Third, this is not good:

Study: The Gulf Stream system may already be weakening. That’s not good.

That scenario was mostly ridiculous and overwrought. Still, the underlying idea that global warming could alter some key ocean circulation systems isn’t actually that far-fetched. Such an event wouldn’t blanket Manhattan in ice, but it could wreak havoc on fisheries or speed up sea-level rise in cities like Boston and New York.

That’s why, over the last few decades, scientists have been paying close attention to the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), an ocean pattern that transports warm water from the tropics up to the North Atlantic and Nordic seas. (This is sometimes called the Gulf Stream system.)

This heat conveyor belt is the reason Europe has a relatively warm climate despite being so far north. It also brings up nutrients to key fisheries. But the AMOC is also a potential source of concern: paleoclimate evidence suggests the circulation has abruptly slowed or stopped in the distant past. Were that to happen again, it could prove quite unpleasant for both Europe and the United States.

Finally, something light for you:

21 Facts That Will Make Any Introvert The Life Of The Cocktail Party

Armed with this awesome collection of facts, you’ll never be at a loss for words again.

So how you doin’?  😀