What didn’t make the State of the Union?

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Barack Obama: ‘We’ll hunt down terrorists’.

Most of us might have felt it within our rights to skip the State of the Union address. On Tuesday night, president Barack Obama appeared before the American people and again acknowledged digital data theft and data destruction as one of the most important issues facing the nation. “No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids.

Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. As Foreign Minister Julie Bishop consulted with US national security chiefs in Washington on countering the threat of terrorism and foreign fighters, Mr Obama urged the Republican-controlled congress to back a resolution to authorise the use of force against Islamic State as a symbol of national unity. It was clear even before Mr Obama made the short trip up to Capitol Hill that the proposals at the heart of his speech – to raise taxation levels on the wealthiest Americans and impose new fees on the biggest financial institutions to help out the middle class – would be a non-starter with the Republicans and would never, ever become law. He made no remarks on protecting Social Security and Medicare — just as Republicans have hinted at a coming battle over welfare reform — and only passing reference to the crowning achievement of his first term, Obamacare, just as it’s beginning to bear fruit for many Americans. And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information.” It was a rallying cry for greater “cyber security.” But according to many security experts, “security” and the specific cyber-security proposal the president unveiled last week could be a pretext for expanded, unchecked surveillance that may not actually make the nation safer.

He warned that the conflict would take time and reserved the option for unilateral action to “hunt down terrorists”, including the Islamic State rebels who have seized control of large areas of Syria and northern Iraq and announced an Islamic caliphate. “It will require focus. And he didn’t mention the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline by name, which Republicans favor as a job-creation opportunity but the White House has said Obama would veto. The ideas in the proposal face no strong political resistance especially since the information collection organism would not be the government itself but rather private companies reporting user information to the government. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group.” Mr Obama’s comments come two weeks after Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called on Tony Abbott to make a greater military commitment by increasing armaments and speeding up the training of local forces to help meet the terrorist threat, which has seized the second-largest city of Mosul.

It was light, however, on policy details. “I want to focus less on a checklist of proposals,” the president said, “and focus more on the values at stake in the choices before us.” He offered name checks of cherished Democratic chestnuts — universal child care, paid sick and maternity leave, government guarantees of equal pay for women, and a higher minimum wage. More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years. The president has been restrained in his discussions of what some consider to be the most significant cyber attack on a US entity in recent memory, the Sony hack. (Sony Pictures is a sub unit of Sony America and is still ultimately part of the Sony parent company, which is Japanese.) Obama called the hack an act of “cyber vandalism” not tantamount to war.

There are currently 200 Australian special forces stationed in Baghdad to advise and assist the local Iraqi authorities, but the Prime Minister discussed with his Iraqi counterpart, during his visit to Iraq earlier this month, the prospect of giving them a stronger role. But the omissions were a reminder that, though the President’s popularity is on an upswing, his legacy remains unclear and his final two years in office will still be full of challenges.

As Canadian troops exchanged gunfire with Islamic State fighters in the first confirmed ground battle involving Western forces in the war-torn nation, Julie Bishop said terrorist attacks in France had emboldened extremist groups including al-Qa’ida, Jabhat al-Nusra and Boko Haram. “In all instances, we discussed the issue of terrorist organisations attracting foreign fighters,’’ Ms Bishop said. “We spoke about the global nature of terrorism, the fact that terrorist organisations are more diverse, more dangerous. The stretching of the rubber band between the super-rich and the rest of us was highlighted in this week’s Oxfam report which claimed that, if current trends continue globally, the 1pc will own more wealth than the 99pc by next year.

He offered a new initiative to do “precision medicine” and offered support for humanity expanding into the solar system, not to visit, but to stay. (Yes, please.) He wants more money to fight Ebola. The key component of the proposal is, indeed, “integration.” Specifically, it affords private companies liability protection to share information with the Homeland Security Department’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center. The situation is more complex. “We were united in our resolve to treat terrorism as a national security priority both in Australia and in the United States and we underscored how important it is for us to continue to work together.” Ms Bishop met with US domestic and foreign security chiefs — National Security Agency director Michael Rogers and CIA director John Brennan — as well as director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and delivered a speech overnight on the Australia-US alliance. The specifics were rather light, particularly on his extensive array of tax proposals, which will raise a significant amount of money with some rather sweeping changes to the way we tax educational savings, capital gains and estates. Obama only warned against “refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix,” and called for empathy towards immigrants. “Yes, passions still fly on immigration, but surely we can all see something of ourselves in the striving young student, and agree that no one benefits when a hardworking mom is taken from her child, and that it’s possible to shape a law that upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants,” he said during Tuesday night’s speech.

But the US, as it emerges from the Great Recession, may be the perfect model for what’s at stake. “It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next 15 years and for decades to come. It was, in popular if clichéd Washington, DC parlance, “a game changer.” Joyce was not alone in that assessment. “We had seen cyber attacks but we’ve never seen a nation-state…destroy data,” former Rep.

Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?” On his way to Davos, the former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers unpacked one statistical nugget in a column for the ‘Financial Times’ that gave some perspective on the problem. “If the US had the same income distribution it had in 1979,” he wrote, “the bottom 80pc of the population would have $1trn – or $11,000 per family – more. They would probably be considerably less excited to hear that Obama wants to tax the earnings on educational savings accounts, or that any assets they inherit from their parents would be subject to a capital gains tax. Last year, Obama used a sizable chunk of his SOTU to highlight the benefits Americans would receive from the Affordable Care act, even as the botched rollout of Healthcare.gov drew months of negative headlines and created headaches for vulnerable Democrats on the campaign trail.

At this moment – with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production – we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. This year, Obama’s only hint at reform was his declaration that, “in the past year alone, about 10 million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage.” That silence comes despite the fact at least 6.4 million Americans signed up for coverage under the law during this year’s enrollment period, a significant spike from last year. But during his tenure, where he served as the head of the House Intelligence Committee, he earned a reputation as one the National Security Agency’s most stalwart allies at the agency’s moment of greatest shame. With GOP attention focused elsewhere, the best course for the President on that issue may be to let sleeping dogs lie — especially as many Americans may face penalties when they file their taxes this year because of the law. The bill that perhaps best characterized that reputation, House Resolution 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, never actually became law, having stalled in the Senate after passing the House.

Mr Obama said the US should demonstrate its respect for human dignity by condemning rising anti-Semitism and “offensive” stereotyping of Muslims while supporting political prisoners, persecuted women, religious minorities and people who are homosexual, bisexual or transgender. Another Democratic President said the same in his address in 1952. “I think everybody knows that social insurance and better schools and health services are not frills, but necessities in helping all Americans to be useful and productive citizens.” That was Harry Truman. (© Independent News Service) Estates get what’s known as a “stepped-up basis” on assets — meaning that when you inherit a house from Mom and Dad and later sell it, you’re taxed on the difference between the value at the time you inherited it (your basis) and the value at the time you sell it. And though the speech came on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Citizens’ United decision, which opened the floodgates for big-money donors to influence elections, Obama didn’t talk about super PACs or public financing for campaigns.

Obama proposes to use the price your parents paid as the basis, though the first $200,000 is exempted, and there’s an additional $500,000 exemption for homes. It was an idea that predates Rogers and CISPA—in 2008, the Bush White House put out National Security Presidential Directive – 54 that outlined the US interest in information sharing in the name of cybersecurity. Mr Obama claimed that peaceful diplomacy was succeeding in halting Iran’s nuclear program, and warned Republicans against pushing for sanctions that would destroy the negotiations.

CISPA would give companies the freedom to share user data with DHS where the info could then go to virtually any other law enforcement agency for use in any investigation related to crimes from drug trafficking to copyright infringement. Tom Switzer, associate at the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre, was surprised Mr Obama only touched upon the Trans-Pacific Partnership, saying it was central policy to the US strategy “pivot” to Asia. It sent a clear message to some of America’s biggest companies: “We need you to do our spying for us.” Privacy advocates argued that the bill’s language was too broad.

Moreover, information sharing, while an essential component of comprehensive legislation, is not alone enough to protect the Nation’s core critical infrastructure from cyber threats. The answer is that this gives him an imaginary revenue source he can attach to his equally imaginary plans to subsidize community college and child care. The slightly less pithy summary of Obama’s speech is that he’s back in his element: campaigning as the Bipartisan Voice of Reasonable America, rather than trying to govern. Very little is going to happen during the next two years, so he has the luxury of staking out a visionary position above all the ideology, the divisiveness, the grubby business of designing real laws and making real deals.

Shareable information does include anything that falls under the category of cyber threat indicator, which includes any data relating to “malicious reconnaissance, including communications that reasonably appear to be transmitted for the purpose of gathering technical information related to a cyber threat,” which could mean everything from attempting to access restricted files to—possibly—asking fairly routine questions about how a site runs or what a company does with user data. “The White House proposal relies heavily on privacy guidelines that are currently unwritten. Privacy protections and use restrictions must be in effect before information sharing occurs,” Harley Geiger, the senior counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology said in a press release following the announcement. Ben is back in construction – and home for dinner every night. “It is amazing,” Rebekah wrote, “what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.” America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our story.

More disturbing for many in the technology community was a provision in the legislation to amend RICO laws in a way that could charge hackers, computer scientists, or just curious users with felonies just for finding—or searching for—security errors in web sites or services. You’re the people I was thinking of six years ago today, in the darkest months of the crisis, when I stood on the steps of this Capitol and promised we would rebuild our economy on a new foundation. Unless there is a carve out for research, the liability for clicking on links to security tools alone is worrying…even more so if RICO style laws are applied due to their broad nature and potential for abuse by aggressive prosecutors. We have had many decades to get used to prosecuting organized crime, but prosecuting technical computer crime is newer and harder to explain to juries. Hidalgo, discuss an experiment where they took a random sample of 1.5 million cell users over 15 months and found that, when locational cell phone data is anonymized, just four data points—information created by the anonymous user—was enough to effectively reveal the users identity for 95% of all users. “I agree, 100%.

Today, we have new tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts, and a new consumer watchdog to protect us from predatory lending and abusive credit card practices. Moreover, the information that the public shares with DHS, if it is in fact related to some future cybersecurity event, would likely be shared with the NSA. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in fifty years. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, who represents parts of San Jose (Silicon Valley) told The Hill: “I fear we may have taken the wrong lesson from these recent high-profile attacks.

Both political and public concerns about privacy and overreaching agencies have given way to worries about lost data and remotely hijacked infrastructure. “We are entering the post-Snowden era,” he claimed. Rogers himself was more cautious but he acknowledged that the involvement of the president in passing cyber-sharing legislation was a “significant change,” possibly enough to push something through. I think this is an area that the President and Congress can work together.” Hurd, a former CIA operative, is considered rising star specifically on issues related to cyber security. In discussing the potential changes in RICO law, he was dim on any proposal that might harm cyber security research. “We don’t want to limit that. Like millions of hardworking Americans, Rebekah isn’t asking for a handout, but she is asking that we look for more ways to help families get ahead.

In fact, at every moment of economic change throughout our history, this country has taken bold action to adapt to new circumstances, and to make sure everyone gets a fair shot. This is one of those areas where reasonable people can be reasonable people.” Following the event at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Rogers loitered for a bit to glad-hand friends and fans who wished him well in his new career. That’s what middle-class economics is – the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. That means helping folks afford childcare, college, health care, a home, retirement – and my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year. In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever.

And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. America thrived in the 20th century because we made high school free, sent a generation of GIs to college, and trained the best workforce in the world. Thanks to Vice President Biden’s great work to update our job training system, we’re connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs like coding, and nursing, and robotics. Tonight, I’m also asking more businesses to follow the lead of companies like CVS and UPS, and offer more educational benefits and paid apprenticeships – opportunities that give workers the chance to earn higher-paying jobs even if they don’t have a higher education. We’re slashing the backlog that had too many veterans waiting years to get the benefits they need, and we’re making it easier for vets to translate their training and experience into civilian jobs.

But there are also millions of Americans who work in jobs that didn’t even exist ten or twenty years ago – jobs at companies like Google, and eBay, and Tesla. That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair.

Look, I’m the first one to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype, and that’s why we’ve gone after countries that break the rules at our expense. I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine – one that delivers the right treatment at the right time. I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world. Let’s simplify the system and let a small business owner file based on her actual bank statement, instead of the number of accountants she can afford.

When we make rash decisions, reacting to the headlines instead of using our heads; when the first response to a challenge is to send in our military – then we risk getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts, and neglect the broader strategy we need for a safer, more prosperous world. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents.

We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies. Instead of Americans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan, we’ve trained their security forces, who’ve now taken the lead, and we’ve honored our troops’ sacrifice by supporting that country’s first democratic transition. Instead of sending large ground forces overseas, we’re partnering with nations from South Asia to North Africa to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten America.

We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small – by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people. As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of “small steps.” These small steps have added up to new hope for the future in Cuba. In West Africa, our troops, our scientists, our doctors, our nurses and healthcare workers are rolling back Ebola – saving countless lives and stopping the spread of disease.

In the Asia Pacific, we are modernizing alliances while making sure that other nations play by the rules – in how they trade, how they resolve maritime disputes, and how they participate in meeting common international challenges like nonproliferation and disaster relief. And no challenge – no challenge – poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. 2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. As Americans, we have a profound commitment to justice – so it makes no sense to spend three million dollars per prisoner to keep open a prison that the world condemns and terrorists use to recruit. As promised, our intelligence agencies have worked hard, with the recommendations of privacy advocates, to increase transparency and build more safeguards against potential abuse.

I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates from New York to California; and our newest officers at West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, and New London. I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in ten Americans call home.

A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues, and values, and principles, and facts, rather than “gotcha” moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives. Because I want this chamber, this city, to reflect the truth – that for all our blind spots and shortcomings, we are a people with the strength and generosity of spirit to bridge divides, to unite in common effort, and help our neighbors, whether down the street or on the other side of the world.

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