Patriot Act renewal fails in Senate

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.

A victory for freedom: Due largely to the effort of Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), the Senate failed on Friday to pass even a one day extension of the Patriot Act.

The failure was a major defeat for Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who had pushed for a full renewal that kept in place all of the government’s spying programs created under the law.

I would not be hopeful, however, that we have seen the end of this unconstitutional law. I fully expect the Senate to agree on Monday to the House bill, which puts restrictions on the spying but still keeps many of the Patriot Act’s intrusive features.

More on this political battle here.


Every July, to celebrate the anniversary of the start of Behind the Black in 2010, I hold a month-long fund-raising campaign to make it possible for me to continue my work here for another year.

This year's fund-raising drive however is more significant in that it is also the 10th anniversary of this website's founding. It is hard to believe, but I have been doing this for a full decade, during which I have written more than 22,000 posts, of which more than 1,000 were essays and almost 2,600 were evening pauses.

This year's fund drive is also more important because of the growing intolerance of free speech and dissent in American culture. Increasingly people who don't like what they read are blatantly acting to blackball sites like mine. I have tried to insulate myself from this tyrannical effort by not depending on Google advertising or cross-posts Facebook or Twitter. Though this prevents them from having a hold on me, it also acts to limit my exposure.

Therefore, I hope you will please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


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  • Cotour

    If this fails to be fully restored who here thinks that we may have a “convenient incident” within the country that might reignite interest in it being fully enacted?

  • mpthompson

    …who had pushed for a full renewal that kept in place all of the government’s spying programs created under the law.

    Sadly, I expect that there are many more that were not created under the law. We just don’t know about them.

  • It’s axiomatic that any law passed shortly after, and in response to, a crisis is going to be bad law, especially if it’s named after a victim or has a cutesy name.

    Judging by recent posting activity, your arm must be getting better.

  • It is still a struggle to type, but the doctor has given me a much smaller splint than the temporary splint I got in the urgent care office, which makes typing a little easier.

    No long essays however until this splint goes away.

  • Max

    When the patriot act was started, The first people spied on was the heads of industry , corporate officials, political parties and their counterparts. ( republicans and tea party were named terrorists).
    The way to cripple a country is through economics, industrial espionage was the focal point of the warrant less searches. This is why the spy centers are managed by contractors and not Government who are prohibited from looking at them without authorization.
    The joke is that the spy center is powered by Google …

  • PeterF

    Brevity tends to make the point more visible

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