As of October, FBI To Allow Warrantless Investigations: “”

(Via NY Times.)

As if it wasn’t bad enough that Homeland Security has decreed that they can indefinitely hold your laptop upon crossing the border back into the United States, it appears now that the FBI may soon be able to carry out investigations against people without any necessary cause.

WASHINGTON — A Justice Department plan would loosen restrictions on the Federal Bureau of Investigation to allow agents to open a national security or criminal investigation against someone without any clear basis for suspicion, Democratic lawmakers briefed on the details said Wednesday.

I’m already disturbed enough by the Homeland Security measure. It makes me feel as if it completely defeats the purpose of me taking my personal laptop with me abroad to avoid using insecure terminals while in other countries. Why should I even bother if they could just confiscate my machine for as long as they feel like, taking with it most of my relevant work and documents with it? There’s no compensation for such a seizure. It contains virtually all of my laboratory research data that I maintain in a digital format. In lieu of not being able to access it, do I really want to trust them with all of this information? For the amount of information that is being “lost” these days, I frankly do not feel comfortable with an agency attempting to scour through my data for whatever they feel like searching for.

I do not feel as if I have anything that needs to be hidden. I do protect passwords and other account or sensitive information in the reliable fashions that are at my disposal. This is really just a blatant invasion of privacy, however. Some of the rationale for this decision was to prevent the trafficking of illegal materials into the national from foreign sources. Seriously, did you people really think this was the means by which to do it? Oh, nope, I’m sorry, you’re right. You’re likely going to consider deep packet inspection as well. Might as well tap and monitor all of our communications means at this point, right?

With these breeches in our own privacy being threatened more and more, why are we even considering something like unwarranted investigations? Are these just the footsteps of taking this nation into a totalitarian government, or where is this really all going? I understand it is all in the name of better security and for preventative measures against dangers within our own borders, but the possibility for abuse of such power just seems enormous! Do the people who are creating and/or approving such measures really, truly understand just what they are giving up? As soon as they push something like this into effect, the administration could double back right on them and put them under investigation, no questions asked.

With the fact that these may be unwarranted, to we have any means by which to contest or combat such an investigation or seizure of property? To add to that thought, would search & seizure also soon follow suit, forgoing the path of investigations as well? This all worries me, seeing it as progressive steps to a more and more controlling government.

Our constitution supposedly recognized man (and woman alike) three inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of personal happiness. It feels that liberty is being compromised more and more the longer we let the powers that be continue on their power-hungry assault on the wars of terrorism. Sure, we’re giving it up in order to pursue our personal happiness and maintain life, but when will it become that our own personal liberties are compromised so much that we can no longer pursue happiness?

What happens when the only inalienable right in this country we are left with is life? (I know, I know, I’m probably being a little dramatic with this remark)

Watching the Olympics this year has been more enjoyable than in years past (likely because I’m watching them in HD now, and I hardly watched them before), but also has been more frustrating now that I’m paying more attention to it. My complaints are not unlike many others out there in the blogosphere and Internet at large. Watching the women’s gymnastics are really where most of my gripes arose.

My largest complaint in watching the women’s gymnastics was the scoring discrepancies that seemed to occur. Granted, I’m not a professional judge by any means, but there were a fair share of cases where the scores did not match at all with other comparable performances. I heard it was more prevalent in the women’s than the men’s gymnastics, but that wasn’t my worst gripe about it all. It contributed to it, however. What really irked me was the means by which they’ve used to break ties in gymnastics.

The first tiebreaker I’m okay with. It seems a little arbitrary to just accept the deductions score for this, but that’s at least a judge of performance. The second tiebreaker kills me because it really favors gymnasts with split scoring. I’d be more inclined to just award a joint-medal as was done in the past. I wonder if the statistical ramifications of the scoring system have been considered before settling on these “standards.” I really want to rant more, but it’s no more than other people have already griped about.

My other gripe is the dilemma involving the Chinese gymnasts Kexin and Yuyuan. As I understand it, China has provided and demonstrated that their passports authenticate their ages. However, pre-existing information that was located on the Internet regarding local and regional competitions seemed to indicate the both of them are not even fifteen years of age. To make matters worse, it appears this information is disappearing even faster than it was discovered. Add on the fact that even a few sources were modified instead of being deleted, and it really starts to sound like a massive cover-up operation, especially when the NY Times is reporting on the same information.

The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) official response to all of this has been that China provided the relevant documentation that establishes the girls’ ages. The insinuation has been growing that China could have forged these documents in order to allow them to compete. The hard part now is whether or not someone is willing to call China on it’s bluff, if they really have forged documents to their own personal gain. On top of that, it’s dubious just to what extent the IOC will go to validate this information. It shocks me that they are so avid in regards to drug testing and enforcing it, yet this debacle has hardly earned a second glance by the committee.

I really don’t want to blame China for all of this, but just by association they’re getting a bad rap in my personal opinion. How these pieces of drama continue to play out will ultimately determine how many a person will like view China in their further developing image.

As I was picking up a couple items this morning from Wegmans, I decided to pick up some extra fiber english muffins that I saw there. Recently, I’ve tried some extra fiber whole grain bread and found it fairly tasty, so I’m exploring these high-fiber grain products a bit more now.

Apparently I did not read the package as well as I thought I had. I assumed they were extra fiber whole grain english muffins after I scouted through the different varieties and picked one up. Upon making breakfast this morning, as they were in the toaster oven it started to smell a bit like pancakes with maple syrup! I thought I must be smelling someone else’s kitchen, or something under the burners as I was making the eggs. I pulled them out of the toaster oven, and lo and behold that was the source of the sweet smell. I checked the bag: honey wheat english muffins. Interesting…

I finished cooking my eggs, and assembled them into little sandwiches with the english muffins with a little bit of cheese on them (even one of them with a slice of canadian bacon). I swear, they tasted just like the McDonalds McGriddle breakfast sandwiches. Better, actually, as I don’t like how sweet the sandwiches from McDonalds are.

I think I’ve found my new breakfast kick. Just add a fruit, and I think it’s all around healthy!

P.S. I always try to cook my eggs without any butter/oil unless I’m craving that buttery taste to them. This sandwich solution kind of negates my need for that taste!