Archive for December, 2015

In today’s climate, it really appears that data and metadata are a form of currency all on their own. We are being spied upon, catalogued,scrutinized and inspected, by unthinking programs and algorithms and every kind of “smart” thing that is out there. Sadly, all of this is made possible by those who want to control us. They figure that the more information they have, the more “secure” they can make things, but it simply isn’t possible. It’s the quintessential internet conundrum. The fact is, the internet is great because it can’t be controlled…And that is also the biggest negative of the internet.

Anyway, here is a story I came across that doesn’t appear to be getting much play at all. Maybe it’s just because of the holidays. Maybe it’s because of the issue with the Democrat database between Sanders and Clinton. Maybe no one actually cares anymore!

Database of 191 million U.S. voters exposed on Internet: researcher


An independent computer security researcher uncovered a database of information on 191 million voters that is exposed on the open Internet due to an incorrectly configured database, he said on Monday.

The database includes names, addresses, birth dates, party affiliations, phone numbers and emails of voters in all 50 U.S. states and Washington, researcher Chris Vickery said in a phone interview.

Vickery, a tech support specialist from Austin, Texas, said he found the information while looking for information exposed on the Web in a bid to raise awareness of data leaks.

Vickery said he could not tell whether others had accessed the voter database, which took about a day to download.

While voter data is typically considered public information, it would be time-consuming and expensive to gather a database of all American voters. A trove of all U.S. voter data could be valuable to criminals looking for lists of large numbers of targets for a variety of fraud schemes.

“The alarming part is that the information is so concentrated,” Vickery said.

Vickery said he has not been able to identify who controls the database, but that he is working with U.S. federal authorities to find the owner so they can remove it from public view. He declined to identify the agencies.

A representative with the Federal Bureau of Investigation declined to comment.

A representative with the U.S. Federal Elections Commission, which regulates campaign financing, said the agency does not have jurisdiction over protecting voter records.

Regulations on protecting voter data vary from state to state, with many states imposing no restrictions. California, for example, requires that voter data be used for political purposes only and not be available to persons outside of the United States.

Privacy advocates said Vickery’s findings were troubling.

“Privacy regulations are required so a person’s political information can be kept private and safe,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Digital Democracy. The leak was first reported by CSO Online and, computer and privacy news sites that Vickery said helped him attempt to locate the database’s owner.

CSO Online said the exposed information may have originally come from campaign software provider NationBuilder because the leak included data codes similar to those used by that firm.

In a statement, NationBuilder Chief Executive Officer Jim Gilliam said the database was not created by the Los Angeles-based company, but that some of its information may have come from data it freely supplies to political campaigns.

“From what we’ve seen, the voter information included is already publicly available from each state government, so no new or private information was released in this database,” Gilliam said.

(This story has been refiled to correct penultimate paragraph to remove extraneous word “his”)

(Reporting by Jim Finkle and Dustin Volz; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)


Commonsense Property Rights Coalition to Feature Self-Defense and Preparedness Speaker
The Common Sense Property Rights Coalition will meet Monday January 4  at 6 pm at Fred’s Fish House   in Mammoth Springs according to board member Kevin Jotz. The main speaker of the evening will be Jeremy Youngs of rural Alton, an NRA certified firearms instructor, Appleseed instructor and an acclaimed speaker on personal self-defense, disaster preparedness and  homesteading.
 “This is an organization concerned with protection of private property rights. The group believes that without protections of private property rights nothing else is secure. The right to own and reasonably use private property is a cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution, differentiating our country from others around the world. As John Adams, one of our nation’s Founding Fathers and our second president, said: ‘The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.” For more information at 417-264-2435 or 417-270-1724.”

This seems like very good news to me. Now let’s see what happens in court.

Utah to pursue lawsuit to seize control of federal lands

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The federal government controls two-thirds of the land in Utah and the state says it’s prepared fight to get it back.

A Republican-dominated commission of Utah legislators voted Wednesday to move forward with a lawsuit challenging the U.S. government’s control of federal lands — the latest salvo in a long-running feud.

The commission made the decision after a consulting team it hired said its research concluded the Constitution does not give the U.S. government power to control federal lands within state borders.

The team of hired lawyers recommended the commission urge the governor and attorney general to take on the lawsuit, even while warning it could cost up to $14 million, take years to play out in the courts and saying it would be far from a sure victory.

“It’s a solid argument but the court has never thought about it before,” said Ronald Rotunda, a constitutional law expert part of the team of lawyers. “That’s what makes it a very dramatic case.”

The only votes against moving forward came from two Democrats, who objected to the costs and questioned the objectively of the consulting team.

The decision marks the latest indication that Utah’s conservative leadership remains committed to moving forward with what many consider a longshot attempt to assert state powers.

Utah passed a law in 2012 demanding the federal government hand over the lands by the end of 2014. When that deadline quietly passed, Utah legislators began weighing a possible lawsuit. Supporters of the plan argue that the state would be a better managers of the land and that local control would a allow Utah to make money from taxes and development rights on those acres.

Lawmakers backing the proposal hit on those topics Wednesday in explaining their votes.

Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, chair of a commission for the stewardship of public lands, said the decision was made after years of careful consideration and countless stories from residents in rural counties about how federal management makes living and doing business on federal lands cumbersome and unpleasant.

“We want things that we treasure cared for not only for our day, but for the generations to come,” Stratton said. “We have a record in this state that shows that we can manage and care for the treasures we all value.”

The office of Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes will make a final decision on the lawsuit. His chief of staff, Parker Douglas, said they will review the consultant’s voluminous report and do their own analysis before making any decision.

“There’s arguably a case,” Douglas said, adding the attorney general’s office “is not a rubber stamp. . . . We will look at it and we will consider it.”

The state has paid the consultants $502,000 so far, and is authorized to pay up $2 million to prepare a legal strategy and sway public opinion in the state’s favor.

Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell considers Utah’s push a misguided effort that doesn’t take into account benefits or costs of managing public lands, agency spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw in a statement. “The Secretary has been clear on this issue – she’s happy to have thoughtful discussion about achieving balanced managements – but she’s not open to selling off public lands to the highest bidder,” the statement reads.

Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, voiced his lingering skepticism about the objectivity of the firm’s research and questioned why the state is spending money for what he said most legal scholars consider a legal Hail Mary at best. He said the hired lawyers have the same ideological bent as Utah’s GOP-dominated legislature.

“It’s a little bit like asking a barber, ‘Do I need a haircut?'” Dabakis said.

Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, said he opposed the plan because he needs more time to assess whether the lawsuit is worth $14 million of taxpayer money, a cost estimate he called stunning.

The two Democrats are joined by a long list of environmental groups in opposing the plan. The Center for Western Priorities said in a statement that Utah is wasting money to have hired guns give them the answers they want to hear.

The consulting team and the commission defended the work, saying they researched and analyzed counter points.

“I asked: If there are warts, we want to see them,” Stratton said. “If there’s a pile of horsepucky, if we’re barking up the wrong tree, we want to see that.”

From Dr. Mary Byrne:

Students, Computers, and Learning
Making the Connection
How Computers are Related to Students’ Performance (September 15, 2015)
                                                                                                                       We expect schools
to educate our children to become critical consumers of Internet services and electronic media,
helping them to make informed choices and avoid harmful behaviours. And we expect schools to
raise awareness about the risks that children face on line and how to avoid them.
This report provides a first-of-its-kind internationally comparative analysis of the digital skills that
students have acquired, and of the learning environments designed to develop these skills. This
analysis shows that the reality in our schools lags considerably behind the promise of technology.
In 2012, 96% of 15-year-old students in OECD countries reported that they have a computer at
home, but only 72% reported that they use a desktop, laptop or tablet computer at school, and in
some countries fewer than one in two students reported doing so. And even where computers are
used in the classroom, their impact on student performance is mixed at best. Students who use
computers moderately at school tend to have somewhat better learning outcomes than students
who use computers rarely. But students who use computers very frequently at school do a lot worse
in most learning outcomes, even after accounting for social background and student demographics.
The results also show no appreciable improvements in student achievement in reading, mathematics
or science in the countries that had invested heavily in ICT for education. And perhaps the most
disappointing finding of the report is that technology is of little help in bridging the skills divide
between advantaged and disadvantaged students. Put simply, ensuring that every child attains
a baseline level of proficiency in reading and mathematics seems to do more to create equal
opportunities in a digital world than can be achieved by expanding or subsidising access to
high‑tech devices and services. Last but not least, most parents and teachers will not be surprised
by the finding that students who spend more than six hours on line per weekday outside of school
are particularly at risk of reporting that they feel lonely at school, and that they arrived late for
school or skipped days of school in the two weeks prior to the PISA test.
You might also find it interesting that at elite private schools,
and Silicon Valley parents send their children to Waldorf Schools where is not a computer in sight, encouraging the development of imagination rather than the “career readiness” agenda imposed on public schools.
Note the following quotes from The Guardian (Dec. 2, 2015):
The pedagogy emphasises the role of imagination in learning and takes a holistic approach that integrates the intellectual, practical and creative development of pupils.
But the fact that parents working for pioneering technology companies are questioning the value of computers in education begs the question – is the futuristic dream of high-tech classrooms really in the best interests of the next generation?
Beverly Amico, leader of outreach and development at the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, explains that their approach uses “time-tested truths about how children learn best”. Teachers encourage students to learn curriculum subjects by expressing themselves through artistic activities, such as painting and drawing rather, than consuming information downloaded onto a tablet.
“It is hard work,” admits Ian Young, a class teacher at Steiner Academy Hereford, where digital devices are only introduced into classrooms after students have reached secondary school age. . . .He adds: “Teaching is about human contact and interaction. I don’t think we are doing children any favours by teaching them through machines at that young age.”
Unless, as board members, you can answer the above question and respond to assertions that early introduction of classroom computer use is counterproductive to student learning with data to support your response, you must entertain the possibility that plans described by SPS to expand computer use in early grades are likely to needlessly result in an inferior education for Springfield’s public school children when compared to the children of the elite technology culture. In other words, public schools may be responsible for creating a class system based on education delivery models.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Mary Byrne, Ed.D.
Reminder PEC Meeting on The Constitution, TONIGHT 6 pm Fred’s Fish House
Our Founders Had a Vision
Is it being followed today?
The Commonsense Property Rights Coalition meeting this month will focus on the US Constitution, with a presentation by Robert Kreutzer, instructor of History at Alton High School. Mr. Kreutzer is an expert on the intentions of the founders when creating the Construction and how it is not being followed by the federal government today.
After his presentation he will take questions and we’ll have a lively discussion.
We’ll also have an update on the DNR land grab in Oregon County, the property tax situation, the coming elections and the situation in the world today. There will also be announcements regarding events coming up in January including the two day OSLU preparedness seminars January 23 and 24;  regular preparedness seminars at the Next Step 7th Day Adventist Church in West Plains (on the first Thursday of every month at 7 pm), and formation of a Pachyderms Club for the region, to meet on the second Thursday of every month. Preparedness seminars and Pachyderms meeting days were chosen to avoid conflict with two other groups that will resume meetings in January, The Campaign for Liberty in West Plains that meets on the third Thursday of the month at Chin’s Garden restaurant (6 pm) and the Ozarks PRC that meets on the fourth Thursday (6 pm) at Sunny Side Café in Mountain Grove.
If you want to learn more about the document that protects our rights, the US Constitution please attend this meeting Monday night, December 7, 6 pm at Fred’s Fish House in Mammoth. What better way to remember Pearl Harbor Day. See  you there. For more information please call 417 264 2435,