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Shelton Mason County Journal
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Mason County Journal
January 2, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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January 2, 2014
 

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OPINION Komen Comment 'The Snowden effect' ome New Year news gleanings in "the Snowden effect" era: Those fiercely competitive online big boys -- Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, LinkedIn, Apple -- say government spying is bad for business. They bought full-page newspaper ads to urge "reforms that ensure government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law." The online privacy they've promised all these years isn't private at all. The government has been secretly vacuuming the In- ternet for years, including postings on "private" social networks. "Mission accomplished" was the message last week from Ed- ward Snowden, the man who blew the whistle on the government's se- cret surveillance of its citizens. But the social network behemoths, com- plaining about government spying, aren't giving any credit to Snowden. They should. Without Snowden's revelations, the National Security Agency's all-encompassing spy activ- ity would still be secret. He lifted the lid on NSA spying, and the Snowden effect has led to exposure of secret spying activities permeating Ameri- can life. We've learned about Stingray, a tool used to track ceUphones and their users. It is technology used since 2001 by law enforcement. Now we learn of its unlimited potential to find and spy on anyone anywhere anytime. The Snowden effect has brought attention to the webcam found on most desktop and laptop computers. The Washington Post says the FBI has the capacity to secretly turn on any computer's webcam and use it for surveillance. The news magazine The Week reports government spies have in- filtrated online games. The govern- ment's suspicion was the games, including 'World of Warcraft" and "Second Life," might be used by enemy agents to recruit and train militants. The games have been un- der secret government surveillance since 2007. Startling statistics keep com- ing up. The NSA is scooping up nearly 5 billion records a day "on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world," reports The Washington Post. The Associated Press quotes se- curity experts who say "passwords for more than 2 million Facebook, Google and other accounts have been compromised and circulated online." County Mason lISPS 492-800 By JOHN KOMEN POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mason County Journal, P.O. Box 430, Shelton, WA 98584. Published weekly by the Mason County Journal at 227 West Cota Street, Shelton, Washington Mailing address: P.O. Box 430, Shelton, WA 98584 Telephone (360) 426-4412 .www.masoncounty.com Periodicals postage paid at Shelton, Washington (It's unrelated, of course, but add in the millions of credit and debit cards compromised by Target stores hack- ers, and Americans can feel they are under siege.) But with all this spying of U.S. citizens, it is argued by NSA apolo- gists that law-abiding Americans should not be concerned. They contend if one is do- ing nothing wrong, then one has nothing to worry about. Not so, say experts who cite thousands of laws on the books that anyone might unwittingly violate. The New York Times cites Massachusetts lawyer-author Harvey Sil- verglate, who says at least three crimes a day are committed by the average American professional. While academics, law- yers and even government officials don't actually know how many laws exist in today's judicial system," says the Times, "it's estimated that there are from 10,000 to 300,000 federal regulations that could be enforced criminally. "What's clear is that tracking technologies have outpaced demo- cratic controls," says one expert quoted by the Times. "What we've learned this year is that agencies are determined to conduct surveil- lance on us, and there's not a whole lot we can do about it." Were it not for the ex-NSA staff- er Snowden, Americans would still be oblivious to the overwhelming extent of spy activities they have been subjected to by their own gov- ernment. Snowden remains in exile in Rus- sia. The government whose secret spying he exposed wants him back for trial, perhaps for treason. But the Snowden effect includes the fact this "renegade" has caused Ameri- cans to question and distrust their own government. To try Snowden for treason or even thievery could be counter- productive for a government that spied on its own people and lied about it. "Americans must never make the mistake of wholly 'trusting  our pub- lic officials." That's the conclusion of last month's special commission report on NSA spying. John Komen, who lives on Ma- son Lake, was for 40 years a reporter and editor, TV anchorman, national TV network correspondent, producer, columnist, editorial writer and commentator. His column, Komen Comment, appears each week in the Mason County Journal. Letters to the Editor Co00]solidation makes sense at state level Editor, the Journal During his campaign, Gov. Jay Inslee indicated a tax increase is not needed; now he proposes a gas tax increase and a spending plan requiring more taxes. Why does Inslee not look for ef- ficiencies in state spending rather than asking for more taxes? This wasteful spending consists of a duplication of effort and redundant agencies doing the same thing. The big- gest budget item in state government is wages. Eliminating this waste of tax- payer's money would provide more rev- enue through a reduction in expenses. I have asked Rep. Kathy Haigh to look into this duplication and redundancies, to no avail: Six agencies, boards, commissions or departments develop policies on health. Three agencies, boards, commis- sions or departments develop policies on gambling. Six agencies, boards, commissions or departments develop policies on Af- firmative Action. Fourteen agencies, boards, com- missions or departments develop poli- cies on agriculture. These are just a few examples of redundant and duplicative government spending. I am sure Inslee and Haigh would fix any wasteful spending in their own personal budgets; why do they not try to fix the wasteful spending in the state budget? Recently, Inslee said we have a systemic taxation problem. What we have is a systemic governing problem which means politicians with no guts to challenge the union bosses to re- form government spending. Haigh and Inslee have the deep pockets of the state employee unions to fund their campaigns (see pdc.wa.gov). The chal- lenge is - can the left see beyond its political ideology? Government spending must be fixed before politicians ask for more taxes. Sen. Tim Sheldon and Rep. Drew MacEwen must eliminate redundant state agencies to reduce the duplication of effort and develop efficiencies in state spending that Inslee and Haigh seem unable to do. Ardean Anvik Elma (Star Lake) Problem with a package Editor, the Journal Dec. 9 was exciting for me this year. I mailed a package to my big sister in California. I put together a sister collage for her Christmas gift. Why such a big deal? It's our first Christmas together in 12 years. I mailed it from a local business in town, something I have done since they opened. Because of the person working at the store chose to let someone else (who does not work for the company) help her out, packages didn't get to the post office. Two weeks later my sister still did not have her package for Christmas. The problem, I found out, is the person helping out took a lot of packages and left them on his office floor to deal with later. How irresponsible for both people involved to do this to people at Christmas time. I wonder how many children didn't get their gift from grandma and grandpa. How about a sick loved one, a friend alone for the holidays and relatives connecting after all these years apart? The person at this local place of busi- ness made an unprofessional decision and it spoiled Christmas for many, all because she didn't want to do her job she is getting paid to do. Lori Hebert Belfair See LETTERS on page A-5 Mason County Journal is a member of Washington Newspaper Publishers' Association. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: $37 per year for Mason County addresses, $51 per year in state of Washington but outside Mason County, $61 per year out of state. Page A-4 - Mason County Journal - Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 Owned and published by Shelton-Mason County Joumal, Inc. Tom Hyde, publisher Newsroom: Adam Rudnick, editor Natalie Johnson, reporter Gordon Weeks, reporter Emily Hanson, sports reporter Kelly Riordan, ONW editor, reporter Kirk Ericson, proofreader Advertising: Dave Pierik, Sr. Acct. Executive Kathy Brooks, ad representative Lloyd Mullen, ad representative Front office: Donna Kinnaird, bookkeeper Rene Chaplin, circulation Composing room: William Adams, graphics Linda Frizzell, graphics All editorial, advertising and legal deadlines are 5 p.m. Monday prior to publication. -4, ' !VI