CIA Agents To Troll Alternative Media Sites In Huge Propaganda Program

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The CIA are expanding an existing program that influences mainstream media outlets to promote fake propaganda stories, by having agents troll internet forums, social media, and website comment sections – in an effort to disrupt alternative media sites.  Continue reading

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Computer Programmer Testifies Under Oath He Coded Computers To Rig Elections

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It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. -Joseph Stalin

One thing in US history is consistent throughout every single election cycle — allegations of voter fraud. These allegations, however, are not the ramblings of a kook with tinfoil wrapped around his head, they are substantiated and reach as high as the Supreme Court. Don’t believe it? Ask Al Gore and George W. Bush. If you think that the ruling class would leave it up to the voters to decide who gets elected, you should think again. Every single candidate who actually challenges the status-quo becomes a target.  Continue reading

Here’s Why Facebook Really, Really Wants You to Use Those New Response Emoji

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Facebook wants to know: How are you feeling?

There’s a water crisis on the other side of the planet. Donald Trump tweeted his latest offensive screed. Your old friend’s brother unexpectedly and tragically died. Do you like it? Better yet, do you love it? Does it make you sad or angry? Does it make you say “wow”?  Continue reading

Confirmed: Windows 10 Cannot Be Stopped From Spying On Users And Will Be Mandatory From January 2016

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Windows 10 users are unable to stop the new operating system from spying on them, and even Microsoft is unable to prevent it from collecting some types of data. Microsoft has continued to insist that Windows 10 users enjoy full privacy and can always choose to turn of the data collection options in settings. But, for the first time, the Redmond-based software giant has admitted that the process of collecting core background data in Windows 10 cannot be stopped.  Continue reading

Even when told not to, Windows 10 just can’t stop talking to Microsoft

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Windows 10 uses the Internet a lot to support many of its features. The operating system also sports numerous knobs to twiddle that are supposed to disable most of these features and the potentially privacy-compromising connections that go with them.

Unfortunately for privacy advocates, these controls don’t appear to be sufficient to completely prevent the operating system from going online and communicating with Microsoft’s servers.

Continue reading

Monsanto and Others Caught Paying Internet ‘Trolls’ to Attack Activists

Troll-connoisseur

Have you ever seen a post, comment, or reply that absolutely reeked of behind-the-scenes compensation by corporations like Monsanto? In the growing age of internet activism, and the expansion of social media as a tool to spread the word on real issues, paid internet trolling is becoming a new career path.

Continue reading

For the First Time in 14 Years, the NSA Can’t Get Your Phone Records. Or Can They?

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As reported over at Vice

As of midnight on Sunday, for the first time since 2001, the NSA lost its legal authority to collect Americans phone records in bulk.

The Senate let three provisions of the Patriot Act expire on Sunday, including the controversial Section 215, which allows the spy agency to collect all phone records from telephone companies every three months, a practice that was ruled illegal by a judge less than a month ago.

Two other provisions of the Patriot Act also expired. One of them allowed the government to obtain warrants from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to spy on suspected “lone wolf” terrorists; and the other, known as the “roving wiretap,” allowed investigators to obtain permission to spy on multiple phones owned by one suspect with just one application.

While this might seem like a victory for anti-surveillance advocates, the truth is that most of the Patriot Act stands, and even this victory is going to be a short-lived one.

Continue reading

Here’s the 400 pages of the new “Net Neutrality” bill

 

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A couple of weeks ago, the FCC(Federal Communications Commission) voted to pass a new “Net Neutrality” bill. Don’t be fooled by “Net Neutrality”, because there really isn’t anything neutral about it.

Now, while everyone was distracted by trying to guess the color of a dress posted on social media, the federal government was again, overstepping its boundaries to enforce more rules and regulations. Nothing new, right? For something so important, and yes internet IS in fact important to have this day of age, most would think this would be a bill that would have to go through house and senate, then make its way on to the POTUS to sign into effect. Well you thought wrong. One has to think at this point, does it really matter? To me, no, it does not matter. Why? Because for a long time this administration has overstepped its boundaries. But it’s not just the Obama Administration, it’s a large number of congress and of course in my opinion, all of congress. The only difference that I could see at this point, is the fact it would have taken somewhat of a longer process to put this to a vote through. But, would it have? One does have to wonder why it was put through the FCC and not through congress and yes I have my suspicions, but that doesn’t matter at this point. Continue reading

How the CIA made Google – Inside the secret network behind mass surveillance, endless war, and Skynet

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INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a new crowd-funded investigative journalism project, breaks the exclusive story of how the United States intelligence community funded, nurtured and incubated Google as part of a drive to dominate the world through control of information. Seed-funded by the NSA and CIA, Google was merely the first among a plethora of private sector start-ups co-opted by US intelligence to retain ‘information superiority.’

Continue reading

If the Internet becomes a public utility, you’ll pay more. Here’s why.

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The Federal Communications Commission is in the middle of a high-stakes decision that could raise taxes for close to 90 percent of Americans. The commission is considering whether to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service and, in doing so, Washington would trigger new taxes and fees at the state and local level. Continue reading

US Imposes New Sanctions On North Korea Over Sony Hack Claims

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US President Barack Obama yesterday raised the stakes in the confrontation with North Korea over unsubstantiated allegations that it hacked into Sony Pictures Entertainment, authorizing a new round of economic sanctions affecting 10 government officials and three state entities. Continue reading

Sony Hack: What They’re Not Telling You (Video)

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The evidence indicates the SONY hack was done by disgruntled ex-employees of SONY itself. Yet the White House has hastily put together a frame-up of North Korea, and unlike the Benghazi attack, the movie that is supposed to be the root cause of it all actually does exist.

So what is going on? Continue reading

Vulnerabilities in some Netgear router and NAS products open door to remote attacks

Netgear's N600 Wireless Dual-Band Gigabit RouterVulnerabilities in the management interfaces of some wireless router and network-attached storage products from Netgear expose the devices to remote attacks that could result in their complete compromise, researchers warn. Continue reading

Type The Wrong Thing Into A Search Engine And The Secret Police Will Come Knocking On Your Door

Secret Police In America

(Michael Snyder) – The control freaks are out of control.  Once upon a time America was “the land of the free”, but now it has become “the land of the bureaucrats”, and these bureaucrats are absolutely obsessed with watching, tracking, monitoring and controlling virtually everything that you do.  Last month, I wrote about how the Obama administration forced a small-time magician out in Missouri to submit a 32 page disaster plan for the little rabbit that he uses in his magic shows for kids.  A lot of people thought that story was quite humorous, but the examples in this article are not so funny.  In recent days we have learned that the government is monitoring just about everything that we do on the Internet, and we have also learned that a couple of innocent Google searches can result in armed government agents pounding on your front door.  If you do not believe this, read on… Continue reading

NSA Now Sending Terrorism Task Force Teams To Homes Over Personal Internet Searches?

Demonstrators Protest NSA Surveillance (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

By Shepard Ambellas
Intellihub.com
August 1, 2013

According to Michelle Cantalano, six agents from the Joint Terrorism Task Force (TTF) showed up at her and her husbands residence Wednesday, after being prompted by NSA algorithm authorities that the couple had been searching for pressure cooker and backpacks on the Internet. Continue reading

Google Pressure Cookers and Backpacks, Get a Visit from the Feds

Michele Catalano was looking for information online about pressure cookers. Her husband, in the same time frame, was Googling backpacks. Wednesday morning, six men from a joint terrorism task force showed up at their house to see if they were terrorists. Which prompts the question: How’d the government know what they were Googling? Continue reading

License plate data not just for cops: Private companies are tracking your car

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(NBC) -License plate recognition technology developed for law enforcement and embraced by the auto repossession industry is being opened to wider use through a Florida company that lets its clients track the travels of millions of private vehicles – adding to privacy advocates’ concerns that such data could be used improperly.

Continue reading

We are watching you: ACLU reveals docs of mass license plate reader surveillance

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(RT) -The American Civil Liberties Union has released documents confirming that police license plate readers capture vast amounts of data on innocent people, and in many instances this intelligence is kept forever.

According to documents obtained through a number of Freedom of Information Act requests filed by ACLU offices across the United States, law enforcement agencies are tracking the whereabouts of innocent persons en masse by utilizing a still up-and-coming technology. Continue reading

Google, Microsoft Speak Out on Gov. Requests; New Firefox Plug-in Informs Users of NSA Spying

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On Friday, Facebook’s general council member Ted Ullyot publically announced that his company had been inquired by various local and federal government agencies to provide personal information of up to 10,000 users within the last six months of 2012. In all, those 10,000 demands implicated up to 19,000 personal Facebook user accounts. Continue reading

The Facebook Home disaster

The Facebook Home disaster

The reviews are in: Facebook Home, Mark Zuckerberg’s grandiose stab at totally controlling our mobile experience, is an unmitigated disaster.

On Wednesday, AT&T announced that it was dropping the price of the HTC First smartphone, which comes with Facebook Home built in, from $99 to 99 cents. Think about that: a new smartphone, priced to jump off the shelves at Dollar General. It’s a great deal, but it is also hugely embarrassing for Zuckerberg.

A little over a month ago, I wrote that the only way I could see a Facebook phone making sensewas if Facebook planned to cut deals with the phone carriers to give the phone away for free. But such a strategy doesn’t seem to be what’s in play here. Best guess, no one wants to buy a Facebook phone.

For confirmation we need only look at the Google Play store, where the Facebook Home app, which can be installed on select Android phones, has now fallen to the No. 338 ranking in the category of free apps. That’s 200 spots lower than it ranked just two weeks ago.

Even worse: More than half of Facebook Home’s 15,000 user reviews give the app just one star. A typical review:

Uninstalled after 1 min
Just takes a nice phone and ruins the interface. Waste of time.

The numbers represent a remarkable rejection of an initiative that Facebook pushed with a high-profile national advertising campaign and a dog-and-pony rollout at its Menlo Park headquarters. Smartphone users are announcing, loud and clear, that they do not want Facebook in charge of their interface with the mobile universe.

 

 

http://www.salon.com/2013/05/09/the_facebook_home_disaster/

May 7th: Major DDOS Attack Planned On US Banks And Government!

It could be a major news story tomorrow:

http://www.neurope.eu/article/anonymous-announce-plans-attack-us-banks-institutions

Hacking group Anonymous has launched OperationUSA (#OpUSA), a coordinated online attack against nine US government sites and more than 130 financial institutions for 7 May, according to a post published in failbin.

The attack, according to Anonymous, would be a response to social and political injustices. “America you have committed multiple war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and recently you have committed war crimes in your own country. …Now it is our time for our Lulz (fun),” the group said.

 

Here is a list of the websites that they plan to target:

http://pastebin.com/LXHKjsfg

Tag team: Jihadis, hackers join forces to launch cyberattacks on United States

Middle East- and North Africa-based criminal hackers are preparing cyberattacks this week against the websites of high-profile U.S. government agencies, banks and other companies, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The attacks, dubbed #OpUSA, for Operation USA, will begin Tuesday, the department said in a warning bulletin circulated to the private sector last week. The bulletin was first obtained and posted online by blogger and cybercrime expert Brian Krebs.

 

The attacks are called for in the name of Anonymous, the leaderless coalition of hackers whose trademark Guy Fawkes mask has become a global symbol for their anarchistic spirit.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/may/6/jihadis-and-hackers-teaming-launch-cyberattacks-us/

#OPUSA MANIFESTO PROMISES TO WIPE USA OFF CYBER MAP, COMPARES OBAMA TO SADDAM

Greetings Obama and USA citizens. We are the N4m3le55 Cr3w. Anonymous will make sure that’s this May 7th will be a day to remember. On that day anonymous will start phase one of operation USA. America you have committed multiple war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and recently you have committed war crimes in your own country. You have killed hundreds of innocent children and families with drones, guns, and now bombs. America you have hit thousands of people where it hurts them, now it is our time for our Lulz. For this you shall pay. Obama you have seen the over three billion dollars worth of damage we have done to Israel in operation Israel.

Full Manifest:

http://www.carbonblack.com/opusa-manifesto-promises-to-wipe-usa-off-cyber-map-compares-obama-to-saddam/

 
Read more at http://investmentwatchblog.com/may-7th-major-ddos-attack-planned-on-us-banks-and-government/#Xb7Gbk4aHDHogGsM.99

Department of Justice secretly gave Internet service providers immunity when conducting surveillance

Activist Post

According to documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the Department of Justice secretly authorized the interception of electronic communications on certain parts of AT&T and other Internet service providers’ networks.

Previously, EPIC obtained documents on the National Security Agency’s Perfect Citizen program which involves monitoring private computer networks. This latest revelation deals with an entirely different program first called Defense Industrial Base Cyber Pilot, or DIB Cyber Pilot, though it is now operating as Enhanced Cybersecurity Services.

While this type of activity might be illegal under federal wiretapping legislation, the Obama administration gave the companies immunity when monitoring networks under a cybersecurity pilot program.

“The Justice Department is helping private companies evade federal wiretap laws,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC. “Alarm bells should be going off.”

The alarm bells should get louder when one realizes that while this collaboration between the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the private sector began focusing only on defense contractors, the program was massively expanded.

Thanks to an executive order dated February 12, 2013 entitled, “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity,” the program was widened significantly.

The order expanded it to cover other “critical infrastructure industries” which includes “systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.”

Declan McCullagh, writing for CNET, points out that this includes “all critical infrastructure sectors including energy, healthcare, and finance starting June 12.”

The documents reveal that the National Security Agency (NSA) and Defense Department were directly involved in pushing for this secret legal authorization.

NSA director Keith Alexander participated in some of the discussions personally, according to the documents.

Attorneys from the Justice Department signed off on the immunity despite the Department of Justice’s and industry participants’ initial reservations, according to CNET.

The legal immunity was given to participating internet service providers in the form of “2511 letters,” as the participants in the confidential discussions refer to them.

A 2511 letter is named after the Wiretap Act, 18 USC 2511, which the participants will not be held to by the Department of Justice.

According to CNET, “the 2511 letters provided legal immunity to the providers by agreeing not to prosecute for criminal violations of the Wiretap Act. It’s not clear how many 2511 letters were issued by the Justice Department.”

DIB Cyber Pilot was first publicly disclosed in 2011 by then Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn but in 2012, the pilot program expanded into an ongoing program dubbed Joint Cybersecurity Services Pilot. As of January it was renamed yet again, this time to Enhanced Cybersecurity Services program.

The same model used under the DIB pilot will be used under the new program, which means that participating companies “would be required to change their banners to reference government monitoring.”

The DHS privacy office stated that users on participating company networks will see “an electronic login banner [stating] information and data on the network may be monitored or disclosed to third parties, and/or that the network users’ communications on the network are not private.”

It is not clear how the banner will be worded exactly, but a 2011 Department of Defense Office of General Counsel PowerPoint presentation obtained by EPIC reveals eight of the elements that should be part of the banner:

1. It expressly covers monitoring of data and communications in transit rather than just accessing data at rest.
2. It provides that information transiting or stored on the system may be disclosed for any purpose, including to the Government.
3. It states that monitoring will be for any purpose.
4. It states that monitoring may be done by the Company/Agency or any person or entity authorized by Company/Agency.
5. It explains to users that they have “no [reasonable] expectation of privacy” regarding communications or data transiting or stored on the system.
6. It clarifies that this consent covers personal use of the system (such as personal emails or websites, or use on breaks or after hours) as well as official or work-related use.
7. It is definitive about the fact of monitoring, rather than conditional or speculative.
8. It expressly obtains consent from the user and does not merely provide notification.

“EPIC staff attorney Amie Stepanovich says the banner the government proposed is so broad and vague that it would allow ISPs not only to monitor the content of all communication, including private correspondence, but also potentially hand over the monitoring activity itself to the government,” Threat Level reports.

Similarly troubling is that it would only be seen by employees of participating companies, meaning that outsiders who communicate with those employees would have no clue that their communication was under surveillance.

“One of the big issues is the very broad notice and consent that they’re requiring, which far outpaces the description of the program the we’ve been given so far of not only the extent of the DIB pilot program but also the extent of the program that expands this to all critical infrastructure,” Stepanovich said, according to Threat Level.

“The concern is that information and communications between employees will be sent to the government, and they’re preparing employees to consent to this,” she added.

Both the NSA and Justice Department declined to comment to CNET but Sy Lee, a DHS spokesman sent a statement to CNET saying:

DHS is committed to supporting the public’s privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties. Accordingly, the department has implemented strong privacy and civil rights and civil liberties standards into all its cybersecurity programs and initiatives from the outset, including the Enhanced Cybersecurity Services program. In order to protect privacy while safeguarding and securing cyberspace, DHS institutes layered privacy responsibilities throughout the department, embeds fair practice principles into cybersecurity programs and privacy compliance efforts, and fosters collaboration with cybersecurity partners.

However, even individuals in the Justice Department “expressed misgivings that the program would ‘run afoul of privacy laws forbidding government surveillance of private Internet traffic,’” according to EPIC.

Furthermore, the Department of Homeland Security has no problem lying to Congress about their privacy breaches. Why anyone should believe that they would be honest now isn’t quite clear.

While the NSA claims they “will not directly filter the traffic or receive the malicious code captured by Internet providers,” EPIC points out that it is unclear how they can detect malicious code and prevent its execution without actually “captur[ing]” it in violation of federal law.

Former Homeland Security official Paul Rosenzweig likened the NSA and Defense Department asking the Justice Department for 2511 letters to “the CIA asking the Justice Department for the so-called torture memos a decade ago,” according to CNET.

“If you think of it poorly, it’s a CYA function,” Rosenzweig said. “If you think well of it, it’s an effort to secure advance authorization for an action that may not be clearly legal.”

This perspective was reinforced by a Congressional Research Service report published last month.

The report states it is likely the case that the executive branch does not actually have the legal authority to authorize additional widespread monitoring of communications unless Congress rewrites the law to give that authority.

“Such an executive action would contravene current federal laws protecting electronic communications,” the non-partisan report states.

However, CISPA – which the House passed last week – would actually give formal authorization to the program without resorting to workarounds like 2511 letters.

Since CISPA simply overrides any and all privacy laws at the state and federal level, any program like this would be given the legal green light.

Even more troubling is that the internal documents show that in late 2011, NSA, DoD and DHS officials actively met with aides on the House Intelligence committee who actually drafted the legislation.

“The purpose of the meeting, one e-mail shows, was to brief committee aides on ‘cyber defense efforts,’” as CNET put it.

Ryan Gillis, a director in the DHS Office of Legislative Affairs also sent an e-mail to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, discussing the pilot program during the same period.

It is hardly surprising that at least one of the same companies getting immunity under the 2511 letters has expressed support for CISPA, since both give network providers immunity from prosecution.

AT&T and CenturyLink are the only two providers publicly announcing their participation in the program thus far.

However, an unnamed government official cited by CNET said that other unnamed companies have signed a memorandum of agreement with DHS to join the program and are undergoing security certification.

“These agencies are clearly seeking authority to receive a large amount of information, including personal information, from private Internet networks,” Stepanovich said to CNET. “If this program was broadly deployed, it would raise serious questions about government cybersecurity practices.”

Rosenzweig points out that the expansion into the many sectors outlined in the executive order above could potentially even include the monitoring of meat packing plants.

Indeed, the language is broad enough to include just about anything at this point.

The Losers Who Want C.I.S.P.A Are Cheaters Who Can’t Win Playing by the Rules.

The House of representatives passing C.I.S.P.A when the Boston Marathon Bombing took place shows if this incident has not happened. It would lose big time from opposition. The needed a distraction to pass this bill with Democrats and RINO republicans.

I do not trust government to handle cyber security. It is more of securing their power because the Internet is cleaning the government clock. The internet has been the stumbling block for the authoritarians. The internet has exposed the real tyrannical agenda of the establishment.

I figured out the establishment cannot play fair in the arena of ideas. The have to find a way to cheat because they are losing because  their idea are rejected. When they censor people because of their content harms the other side with the truth. It shows their hand and what they really are about.

I say congress hands off the internet. I do not trust you to keep the web safe. I will take my chances to do my own security. I know you want to spy on my emails and my online activity. I know you all want to take down websites that are a menace to your agenda under the guise of copyright infringement.

Let just face it. Those who want C.I.S.P.A are cowards with an agenda the people reject. You cannot win in a fair fight in the arena of ideas. You have to resort to suppressing your opposition. You all want to give the US government personal information bypassing the Fourth Amendment and not be liable for violating a person’s personal privacy. You are scum who can’t win fair playing by the rules.

So be like me and hammer the US Senate with phone calls saying hands off the internet. It does not belong to government. it belongs to the people. Our privacy is none of the Government’s business. The only people who think we have no privacy are people who have something to hide with secrecy to carry out draconian measure to silence their opposition.

The corporation and politicians who own stock and who receive lobbying money. These corporation depend on government contract and do not want earn business the old-fashioned way by building a clientele. Like Eisenhower said beware of the Military industrial complex. Well now beware of the Security Industrial Complex pushing doe C.I.S.P.A.

The people who want C.I.S.P.A are cheaters and cowards with no honor or respect for other people’s privacy. They cannot win in a fair debate nor win playing by the rules. They need to legalize cheating by an act of congress. We must not let this happen.

 

 

http://www.thelonestarwatchdog.com/people-who-want-c-i-s-p-a-is-the-politcal-and-corporate-factions-that-cant-win-playing-by-the-rules.html

Rabbis tell 60,000 in NY: Get rid of the Internet if you know what’s good for you

Sunday's Citi Field gathering. (YouTube screen capture)

 

In an extraordinary gathering of nearly 60,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews, leading rabbis of the yeshiva and Hassidic world all but banned the Internet.

A halachic decision rendered by Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wosner, one of the senior rabbis in the Orthodox world, said the Internet could be used for work purposes in an office — but only if absolutely necessary, and with the use of a filter. There was no justification for Internet use at home under any circumstances.

The ruling came during a five-hour program Sunday at the Citi Field baseball stadium in Queens, NY, in which prominent rabbis from the so-called Lithuanian (non-Hassidic) yeshiva world along with Hassidic rabbinical leaders discussed the dangers of the Internet and how to cope with them. While some speakers seemed to advocate a more moderate approach that might have allowed the compromise of a “religious” or highly filtered Internet, most were dead set against it, stating categorically that all Jews who considered themselves Orthodox were obligated to stay as far away from the Internet as possible.

Much of the program was conducted in Yiddish. Several of the speakers stressed the “historic significance” of the day, with one, Rabbi Efraim Wachsman of Yeshiva Meor Yitzchok in Monsey, NY, telling the assembled that the event was a “historic crossroads. Your strength and resolve today will decide what Judaism will look like in a few years from now.”

Those who wished to ensure their future, and more importantly their children’s futures, as Orthodox Jews, would do well to heed the words of the “gedolim” — the rabbinical leaders addressing the gathering — the audience was warned.

Speakers drew on Biblical, Talmudic, rabbinical, and general philosophical sources to back their positions. The ethos of the Internet, which values ever faster access and ever greater instant gratification was contrasted unfavorably with the traditional Jewish values of patience and perseverance.

“The Internet, is about the moment, the fleeting,” said Wachsman, terming people hooked on Web surfing click vegetables.

“People say the gedolim don’t understand the Internet,” he continued. “That could be true. But they understand the trends, and they understand that the instant gratification is the opposite of the holiness needed to become a Torah scholar. The nation of Torah, the nation that gave the world so much wisdom, is now turning into a people of yentayachne.com,” using the Yiddish term for “nasty gossip.”

At least a third of the Internet — “and that is probably an old report” — was full of content that no Jew should be looking at, he said, although he did not use the term pornography.

Wachsmann singled out for special condemnation the damage caused by social media to the stature of rabbis and Jewish scholars. He was referring to the numerous blog posts in which leaders have been excoriated for their silence and inaction on such issues as child molestation in the Orthodox community.

Several of the speakers called on yeshivas to deny admission to applicants who had Internet at home, and Rabbi Wosner included this principle in his halachic decision. Speaking in Yiddish, Rabbi Don Segal, who has been spiritual adviser in numerous yeshivas, said that even those who thought they needed Internet at work should try to find ways to avoid using it, as it was perhaps the “evil inclination” convincing them that they truly needed it.

In a letter sent to event organizers, Bnei Brak’s Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, perhaps the senior authority in the ultra-Orthodox world today, wrote that the Internet was “a great destruction for the Jewish people, with many reaching the lowest levels. There is no home that has these devices that has not fallen prey to terrible sins…. It is the obligation of everyone to gather together and destroy this evil inclination.”

Anyone who felt he had need for Internet use without a filter was required to obtain permission from a rabbi, he wrote.

Rabbi Mattiyahu Salomon of the Lakewood Yeshiva, who was the driving force behind the event, emphasized in his remarks the importance of protecting Jewish children from the ravages of the Internet, which destroys their intrinsic holiness. He also asked members of the audience to pray for the protection against “the great danger in Israel that a law may be passed to draft yeshiva students into the army. We know the Torah is the protection of the Jewish people,” he said. “[Yeshiva students] are the army, and to take them from their studies” would bring tragedy to the Jewish people.

Some 42,000 men participated in the sold-out event at Citi Field in Queens, New York, along with nearly 20,000 in a nearby stadium, added at the last minute for the overflow demand. Women were able to view the proceedings via closed-circuit TV.

Numerous protests took place outside the stadiums, including one by a group proclaiming that “the Internet is not the problem,” and another protesting rabbinical silence on the child abuse scandals. At least one blogger who had proclaimed somewhat lukewarm support for the eventsaid he felt “fooled” by what had gone on. “Nothing positive about the Internet was discussed,” he wrote. “Websites with Torah and the ability to communicate with friends and family was ignored. In short, this event set the clock back to zero. I was wrong. Things are more bleak than I presumed.”

Officially, there was no Web coverage — for obvious reasons — yet numerous live feeds sprang up online enabling people around the world to see the event. The feeds were furnished by attendees who used smart devices to record and upload the proceedings, and many of these people were sending out tweets on Twitter describing the goings-on, to the extent that the hashtag “asifa” (the term used to describe the gathering) was high on Twitter’s trending topic list while the event was taking place.

As could be expected, many of the tweets were furnished by skeptics,with enough to populate a list of the funniest, like this one: “Were it not for social media I would not be able to keep track of the asifa.”

Amended CISPA moves to House after closed-door vote

CISPA

 

Members of the House Intelligence Committee accepted amendments to the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act Wednesday, voting to include the new provisions by an 18-2 margin after a closed door meeting.

Members of the House Intelligence Committee accepted amendments to the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act Wednesday, voting to include the new provisions by an 18-2 margin after a closed door meeting. It puts the bill back on the table for consideration after failing last year.

The proposed CISPA legislation has been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and major Internet companies including Reddit andCraigslist, who say the bill all but eliminates privacy online. Facebook withdrew its support for the bill in March, joining 30,000 other websites in their opposition.

CISPA critics have decried the language in the bill, which grants private companies and the federal government unprecedented power to share an individual’s personal information for purported national security reasons. The House Intelligence Committee has repeatedly warned of the risk presented by potential cyber-attacks, threats that some experts say are unfounded.

CISPA is expected to be reintroduced to Congress as soon as next week after failing to gain enough momentum to summon a vote last year. US President Barack Obama has stated in the past that he would veto CISPA because of security concerns.

Evidently attempting to address those misgivings, the House Intelligence Committee’s closed-door session was expected to introduce amendments that would give privacy advocates and civil liberties officers more oversight on how personal information isshared and used.

Including language to deny companies legal immunity if they use cyber-threat disclosures to hack other companies and dropping language that allows the government to use cyber-threat information for national-security purposes were also reportedly on the docket, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

We have seen the language of these amendments – and what we’ve been hearing is that they still don’t tackle the core concerns including tailoring so that information that’sshared by private industry can’t be used for purposes other than cyber-security,” said Mark Jaycox, an analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Before the secret meeting Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California) said he planned to propose an amendment that would require companies to at least attempt to remove personally identifiable information from data before sharing it with the federal government.

I think the other amendments are definitely a step in the right direction, but we still need the private sector to take efforts on its own to remove personally identifiable information,” Schiff told The Hill. “I still believe that the House, Senate and White House can come to a common agreement on these outstanding issues. It just shouldn’t be that difficult.”

I think we can maintain the proper balance of protecting the country from cyber-attacks and also ensuring the privacy rights of the American people are respected.”

Top bitcoin exchange freezes, arbitrarily shuts down, proving you will not be able to get out of bitcoin when you want to

It is now abundantly obvious that bitcoin has become an insidious “trap” that’s taking money from suckers who are deluded into believing the “bitcoin cult.” The top bitcoin exchange, MTGox, now openly admits that its trade engine crashed during the yesterday’s panic selloff, preventing people from being able to get out of the bitcoin market.

Today, MT.Gox now says, “Trading is halted until 2013-04-12 02:00am UTC to allow the market to cooldown following the drop in price,” meaning that the #1 bitcoin exchange has arbitrarily decided to stop processing orders just because it wants to!

It’s a bitcoin bank holiday! Don’t you just love holidays?

All this means three very concerning things:

#1) The bitcoin infrastructure cannot handle a selloff. Once the rush for the exits gains momentum, you will not be able to get out. Only those who sell early will be able to exit the market.

#2) The bitcoin infrastructure is subject to the whims of just one person running MTGox who can arbitrarily decide to shut it down whenever he thinks the market needs a “cooling period.” This is nearly equivalent to a financial dictatorship where one person calls the shots.

#3) Every piece of bad news will be “spun” by exchanges like MTGox into good-sounding news. As bitcoin was crashing yesterday by 60% in value in mere hours, MTGox announced it was a “victim of our own success!” So while bitcoin holders watched $1 billion in market valuation evaporate, MTGox called it a success. Gee, then what would you call it when bitcoin loses 99%? A “raging” success?

Keep in mind that MTGox makes money off bitcoin transactions, meaning the organization has every reason to spin bad news (just like Wall Street) and keep the market “churning” so that more transactions are taking place. Listening to bitcoin advice from people who are making money off bitcoin transactions is a lot like listening to Obama promise you how he’ll protect your liberty.

You are a fool if you believe anything now coming out of the “bitcoin cult.”

Check out this volatility. The time period for this chart is just 24 hours during which prices were swinging wildly:

Conclusion: Bitcoin is a failed currency experiment; not ready for prime time

Bitcoin is now officially a failed experiment. Thanks to the out-of-control hyping and “get rich” propaganda coming from its promoters, bitcoin has become nothing more than a pyramid scheme to take people’s money by suckering them into a currency scam that has no use in the real world. The wild market volatility of bitcoin now proves that merchants will not embrace this currency. There’s too much risk.

And that means bitcoins have little use in the real world, which also means that people are buying bitcoins for the sole purpose of selling bitcoins later — i.e. they are speculators playing the bitcoin casino. At this point, bitcoins might as well be widgets… or tulips.

Many bitcoin speculators are too young to have lived through the exact same mania with the dot com bubble, but believe me, it’s a nearly-identical repeat. …Millions of people all thinking they’re going to get rich without effort, suckering each other into a total delusion, displaying cult-like behaviors and irrational justifications while losing their shirts.

Ever pyramid bubble is wonderful as long as it keeps going up. Everybody thinks they’re rich, and the whole thing works great until it doesn’t. Once the delusion is shattered, everybody loses and the pyramid scheme collapses while the cult members stare in disbelief, unable to cash out because it’s already too late.

If you own bitcoins, SELL NOW while you still can

Get out of bitcoins. If you bought low, sell now while there are still suckers out there who think bitcoins will make them rich. If you bought high, sell now before it drops even further.

Oh, wait, I forgot: You can’t sell now, probably, because the #1 bitcoin exchange decided to close its doors. It’s the “bitcoin bank holiday!”

At this point you will hopefully realize that you traded dollars for a virtual currency that can be wildly manipulated, crashed, frozen and halted without your knowledge or input. If you bought in at anything over $20, you probably got suckered.

So my advice is to eat the losses, learn your expensive lesson, wise up and stop being such a fool in the future. Sell your bitcoins and focus on something more worthwhile.

The bitcoin cult is now the Jim Jones of currency, and everybody is drinking the kool-aid. It’s only a matter of time before they start dropping dead.

“It’s a holiday! A holiday!” – Gerald Celente, singing about the looming bank holidays that await depositors across the EU.

http://www.naturalnews.com/039880_bitcoin_bubble_panic_selling_accounts_frozen.html#ixzz2QBVdkNGk

FBI sued over secretive mass surveillance program

 

Reuters / Chor Sokunthea

(RT) -A privacy watchdog group is suing the FBI over the agency’s failure to fulfill Freedom of Information Act requests for documents involving a secretive and expansive database that could be used to track down anyone, anywhere and at any time.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed the complaint [PDF] in United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday, suing the Federal Bureau of Investigation for failing to comply with a pair of FOIA request placed more than six months ago.

Last September, EPIC asked the FBI to explain their “Next Generation Identification,” or “NGI” program, a system that’s been building a database of biometric data such as DNA profiles, mug shots and iris scans in order to give law enforcement the ability to track down suspects without relying on more archaic methods. In 2012 the FBI said NGI is already more than 60 percent complete, and Assistant Director Tom Bush of the agency’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division said it will be “bigger, faster, and better” than the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) currently in place.

“Bigger,” the FBI wrote on their website in 2009, “because it will increase the capacity of our fingerprint storage plus house multimodal biometrics records like palm prints and iris scans,” all the while leaving room to accommodate for tracking methods that have yet to be perfected, such as voice analysis. Once the program is fully rolled out, the FBI says they should be able to narrow in on suspects in a matter of only 10 minutes.

The FBI doesn’t want NGI to pull data from just criminal databases, though. Because the agency wants NGI to work with public and private surveillance cameras around the country — of which EPIC estimates there are around 30 million in use at this time — the targets of investigation might not necessarily be the bad guys.

“The Department of Homeland Security has expended hundreds of millions of dollars to establish state and local surveillance systems, including CCTV [closed-circuit television] cameras that record the routine activities of millions of individuals,” EPIC writes. “The NGI system could be integrated with other surveillance technology, such as Trapwire, that would enable real-time image-matching of live feeds from CCTV surveillance cameras.”

Trapwire, a spy system uncovered by RT last year while analyzing emails hacked emails obtained from the Stratfor private intelligence firm, has already been sold to cities across the US including Washington, DC and New York, and lets customers scan the faces of people caught on surveillance cameras in only seconds. “TrapWire is a technology solution predicated upon behavior patterns in red zones to identify surveillance. It helps you connect the dots over time and distance,” the company said.

And although the FBI publically disclosed their NGI program for the first time nearly a decade ago, the agency has been unwilling this far to honor EPIC’s request for information. The NGI system will include facial recognition capabilities and will include photographs and biometric identified of millions of individuals who are neither criminals nor suspects, EPIC says, and the FBI has already been attempting to import human statistics pulled from the driver’s license profiles of residents in a number of states.

“The NGI database will include photographic images of millions of individuals who are neither criminals nor suspects,” write the attorneys for EPIC.

When EPIC attorney Ginger McCall sat down with Thom Hartmann in 2011 to discuss the NGI program on RT’s The Big Picture, she warned of what could happen when the FBI accumulates vast troves of data on people who, in some cases, aren’t even considered suspects in crimes.

 

“The way that this new database will be set up, it will allow for information to be input from state and local law enforcement,” McCall said. “That information could be brought in from commercial services; it could be brought in from covert surveillance.”

“In the past,” added McCall, “the FBI has had a bit of a problem. They’ve been putting in peaceful protesters and classifying them — misclassifying them — as terrorists. So there’s a lot of problems with these sorts of databases.”

Now half a year since EPIC first filed FOIA requests for records relating to NFI as well as any contracts with commercial entities and technical specifications, they are suing the FBI in order to force them to follow through.

“Defendant has failed to comply with statutory deadlines, has failed to grant expedited review of EPIC’s FOIA Requests, and has failed to disclose a single record. EPIC asks the Court to order immediate disclosure of all responsive records and to provide other appropriate relief as it may determine,” EPIC attorneys McCall, Marc Rotenberg and David Brody write in the complaint, dated April 8, 2013.

“It’s very problematic from a privacy standpoint and a freedom of expression standpoint,” McCall told Hartmann in 2011. “There’s a real chilling effect on freedom of expression when you feel that you’re constantly being surveilled by the government.”

Bitcoin crashes, losing nearly half of its value in six hours

(arstechnica.com) On Wednesday afternoon, the Bitcoin bubble appears to have burst. As of this writing, its current value is around $160—down from a high of $260. (It fell as low as $130 today.) There is no obvious explanation for why the digital currency has fallen so far and so fast, although the market correcting after such a huge rise might be a good explanation.

Some redditors have taken solace in a comment thread entitled “Hold Spartans.”

“This is just the market venting some pressure after these huge gains,” wrote anotherblog. “To be honest I’m glad it’s happening now. If it recovers, it will demonstrate resilience in the market and give confidence to future buyers and current holders that they don’t need to panic sell, reduce the chances of a crash in the future.”

Coincidentally, the plunge came several hours after a reddit user by the name of “Bitcoinbillionaire” suddenly, spontaneously decided to give away around $12,000 (more than 63 BTC) worth of the digital currency. Bitcoinbillionaire rewarded 13 seemingly random redditors, then stopped the whirlwind spree after about eight hours. At the moment, no evidence links the currency’s plunge with this random reddit charity.

Bitcoinbillionaire took advantage of reddit’s Bitcointip mechanism, which allows users to send each other small amounts of cash (usually less than $5). The mysterious benefactor appears to have given away 20 BTC (now worth slightly less than $4,000) as his or her first gift to one Karelb. This gift happened under a comment titled: “I wish for the price to crash.” That comment now seems prophetic.

A look at the account transferring all this money shows that two hours before the giveaways began, Bitcoinbillionaire received 50 BTC (about $9,500) from another account without an IP address.

Business Insider reported that Bitcoinbillionaire has left hints that he or she was an “early adopter”and had forgotten he or she even had any bitcoins. Not much is known beyond that, as Bitcoinbillionaire vanished as suddenly as he or she appeared.

“You’ve made me change my mind about this whole thing,” Bitcoinbillionaire wrote. “I’m done.”

Don’t feel bad if you missed the action. Business Insider also notes that this pot of cash is now being “paid forward.”

Who wants a smart meter to track’n’tax your car? Hello, Israel

(theregister.co.uk) Israel is drafting a tender for smart meters to be mandated in every vehicle in the country, tracking drivers to allow for differential taxation, but only once the privacy issues have been resolved.

The plan is to vary vehicle tax based on usage, so drivers who don’t drive during peak times, or stay out of city centres, get discounted road tax, but the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport are adamant that any solution will have to protect the privacy of drivers who might not want every journey recorded and logged forever.

“Without a full solution to the privacy problem, we cannot even think about implementing the new tax method,” a source in the transportation department told local business site Globes. “We want a system which will not notify Big Brother about where a vehicle is located, but in which the device will make the calculations, and allow the car owner to delete data after use.”

It’s an alarmingly enlightened viewpoint, and not one that our Big-Data-Cloud-Analysis corporations would approve, but the rational approach doesn’t stop there – the idea isn’t just to tax users by the mile, as most systems would, but to reward them for reducing their existing mileage as demonstrated by the trial scheme which launched last month.

That scheme, called Going Green, will monitor 1,200 drivers over two years, and pay them up to 25 shekels (about a fiver) for every journey they don’t take. The first six months are used to work out “normal” driving, after which the volunteer can receive to a maximum of around a £1,000 over 18 months, calculated on the journeys they didn’t take, where they didn’t go, and the time at which they didn’t go there.

The formula is necessarily complicated, but laid out in full (in Hebrew) on the sign-up site. Globes reckons several hundred volunteers have already put their names down despite the privacy issues not yet being addressed, but the forthcoming tender will require a privacy-securing solution.

The UK system of recording every numberplate which enters the city centre is much easier and has the added benefit of feeding an enormous database of our movements, and as long as you’ve nothing to hide then presumably you have nothing to fear. We’re told this is the way a congestion charge is run, so it will be interesting to see if the Israelis can come up with a better solution, and if such a thing would ever be acceptable to our own government.

Hey everyone look at where $3million of your taxdollars went to:Now Your iPhone Can Read Fingerprints, Scan Irises and ID Your Face

(Wired) -AOptix has built a biometrics tool that turns your iPhone 4 & 4S into a device that reads a person’s most unique physical features. Photo: AOptix

Cops and soldiers may soon be able to pull out their iPhones to track the eyes, facial features, voice and fingerprints of suspected criminals and combatants.

The California-based company AOptix rolled out a new hardware and app package that transforms an iPhone into a mobile biometric reader. As first reported by Danger Room in February, AOptix is the recipient of a $3 million research contract from the Pentagon for its on-the-go biometrics technology.

Opting for what it considers ease of use, the company decided to build its latest biometrics package, which it calls Stratus, atop an iPhone. A peripheral covering wraps around the phone — it’s an inch and a half thick, three inches wide and six inches tall — while the AOptix Stratus app presents a user interface familiar to any iOS user. Except you’re not going to be recording Vine videos, you’re going to be recording the most unique physical features of another human being.

“From an end-user perspective, it’s much, much smaller, lighter and easier to use an app-based capability” than the bulky biometrics tools currently in military use, Joey Pritikin, an AOptix vice president, tells Danger Room. “Anyone who’s used an iPhone before can pick this up and use it.”

 

Here’s a look at the user interface on the AOptix Stratus iPhone app for when you’re trying to scan someone’s face. Image: AOptix.

The Stratus system is designed to be a “single-handed” device, Pritikin explains. Load the app and tap for iris scanning or facial recognition. The imaging display, readable from about 11 inches distant and using nothing more than the iPhone’s camera, will automatically focus and snap the shot. The phone’s ambient microphone handles voice recording, but fingerprint scanning comes from the back of the Stratus peripheral wraparound, not the iPhone’s touchscreen. Unlike a similar product from Tactivo, there’s no smartcard reader, but it scans more biometric data than someone’s fingerprint.

Anyone who’s ever used an iPhone will also be familiar with the Stratus app’s user experience for typing in annotations to the biometrics collected: small fields that look like any other iOS text feature allow quick notations. Standard iPhone geo-tagging is easy to enable, as a demo walkthrough AOptix showed Danger Room demonstrated. SMTP email functions transmit the biometric information back to a customer’s database. And an open architecture allows Stratus customers to develop their own add-ons.

But Stratus “is not a 99-cent application,” clarifies Amanda North, AOptix’s marketing vice president. The app sells for $199, and the company isn’t disclosing how much its peripheral costs. While conceivably any individual who wants to drop that much money can rig his or her iPhone for biometric collection can, “it’s not a consumer application,” North says.

It’s also not designed for every iPhone: AOptix built Stratus for the iPhone 4 and 4S, citing what it says was customer request. It doesn’t work with the iPhone 5, and the company isn’t saying what its plans are for future iPhone upgrades.

AOptix doesn’t specify its customers, but they’re from the U.S. government: Pritikin says the company has “substantial interest across a wide variety of agencies, not just DOD [the Department of Defense].” At a time of government austerity, it’s a bit curious that the company would have picked high-end Apple devices for its mobile biometrics platform: the Army, for instance, likes cheaper Android phones. Pritikin says AOptix chose iOS because it’s “a much more secure platform.”

The company may not intend Stratus to be a standard consumer product. And its expensive app and hardware may dissuade the average iPhone user from operating a biometrics collection suite from his or her pocket. But the Stratus is just the latest example of how sensitive biometrics data is increasingly collectable through readily available commercial devices.

The Internet ‘Narcissism Epidemic’

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(The Atlantic) We are in the midst of a “narcissism epidemic,” concluded psychologists Jean M. Twnege and W. Keith Campbell in their 2009 book. One study they describe showed that among a group of 37,000 college students, narcissistic personality traits rose just as quickly as obesity from the 1980s to the present. Fortunately for narcissists, the continued explosion of social networking has provided them with productivity tools to continually expand their reach — the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Foursquare, and occasionally Google Plus.

Those who had high scores on grandiose exhibitionism tended to amass more friends on Facebook.

Evidence for the rise in narcissism continues to come up in research and news. A study by psychologist Dr. Nathan DeWall and his team found “a statistically significant trend toward narcissism and hostility in popular music” since the 1980s. Shawn Bergman, an assistant professor of organizational psychology at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina notes that “narcissism levels among millennials are higher than previous generations.”

Researchers at Western Illinois University measured two socially disruptive aspects of narcissistic personalities — grandiose exhibitionism and entitlement/exploitativeness. Those who had high scores on grandiose exhibitionism tended to amass more friends on Facebook. Buffardi and Campbell found a high correlation between Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) scores and Facebook activity. Researchers were able to identify those with high NPI scores by studying their Facebook pages.

Elias Aboujaoude, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford, notes that our ability tailor the Internet experience to our every need is making us more narcissistic. He observes, “This shift from e- to i- in prefixing Internet URLs and naming electronic gadgets and apps parallels the rise of the self-absorbed online Narcissus.” He goes on to state that, “As we get accustomed to having even our most minor needs … accommodated to this degree, we are growing more needy and more entitled. In other words, more narcissistic.”

In virtual space many of the physical interactions that restrain behavior vanish. Delusions of grandeur, narcissism, viciousness, impulsivity, and infantile behavior for some individuals rise to the surface. Aboujaoude, in his book Virtually Youobserves, “the traits we take on online can become incorporated in our offline personalities.” Just as members of a mob get swept along by others’ emotions, the same thing can happen to us when we get swept up in a virtual Internet mob.

Normalcy is a benchmark any narcissist should aspire to achieve.

Beyond the basic social media platforms that narcissists use to display themselves, there is a small but growing support industry they can turn to for help and advice. Article abound providing advice on how to build fan bases on Facebook and get books reviewed on Amazon. Services allow the purchase of page views, Youtube plays, and fake social media followers of all kinds.

We suspect part of the rise in narcissism is being driven by Internet tools. What is clear is that social media platforms are frequently used by those with narcissistic tendencies to feed their egos. These same applications are used by millions of others to build their businesses, coordinate events, and maintain close ties with friends and families.

Unfortunately, narcissists are setting many of the benchmarks for everyday users. Everyday users get caught up in popularity contests and experience anxieties; some report becoming depressed because they are being out-Twittered and are lacking in thumbs ups.

Social media are an important part of the lives of hundreds of millions of users around the world. If you are one of them, maintaining perspective is important. Do not let narcissists set your standards. You may be lagging far behind in the social media rat race because your NPI (Narcissistic Personality Inventory) score is not high enough. The reason you may not have thousands of followers on Twitter and friends on Facebook is because you are normal. Normalcy is a benchmark any narcissist should aspire to achieve.

Dr. W. Keith Campbell joined Authentic Enlightenment for an interview about the rise of narcissism plaguing our planet. The interview can be found HERE

IRS High-Tech Tools Track Your Digital Footprints The IRS has quietly upgraded its technology so tax collectors can track virtually everything people do online

(USNews)- The Internal Revenue Service is collecting a lot more than taxes this year—it’s also acquiring a huge volume of personal information on taxpayers’ digital activities, from eBay auctions to Facebook posts and, for the first time ever, credit card and e-payment transaction records, as it expands its search for tax cheats to places it’s never gone before.

The IRS, under heavy pressure to help Washington out of its budget quagmire by chasing down an estimated $300 billion in revenue lost to evasions and errors each year, will start using “robo-audits” of tax forms and third-party data the IRS hopes will help close this so-called “tax gap.” But the agency reveals little about how it will employ its vast, new network scanning powers.

Tax lawyers and watchdogs are concerned about the sweeping changes being implemented with little public discussion or clear guidelines, and Congressional staff sources say the IRS use of “big data” will be a key issue when the next IRS chief comes to the Senate for approval. Acting commissioner Steven T. Miller replaced Douglas Shulman last November.

[Read: Are You Taking the Right Tax Deductions?]

“It’s well-known in the tax community, but not many people outside of it are aware of this big expansion of data and computer use,” says Edward Zelinsky, a tax law expert and professor at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and Yale Law School. “I am sure people will be concerned about the use of personal information on databases in government, and those concerns are well-taken. It’s appropriate to watch it carefully. There should be safeguards.” He adds that taxpayers should know that whatever people do and say electronically can and will be used against them in IRS enforcement.

IRS’s big data tracking. Consumers are already familiar with Internet “cookies” that track their movements and send them targeted ads that follow them to different websites. The IRS has brought in private industry experts to employ similar digital tracking—but with the added advantage of access to Social Security numbers, health records, credit card transactions and many other privileged forms of information that marketers don’t see.

“Private industry would be envious if they knew what our models are,” boasted Dean Silverman, the agency’s high-tech top gun who heads a group recruited from the private sector to update the IRS, in a comment reported in trade publications. The IRS did not respond to a request for an interview.

In trade presentations and public documents, the agency has said it will use a massively parallel computer system that can analyze data from different networks to find irregularities and suspicious activities.

Much of the work already has been automated to process and analyze electronic tax returns in current “robo-audits” that flag unusual behavior patterns. With IRS audit staff reduced by budget cuts this year, the agency will be forced to rely on computer-generated audits more than ever.

The agency declined to comment on how it will use its new technology. But agency officials have been outlining plans at industry conferences, working with IBM, EMC and other private-sector specialists. In presentations, officials have said they may use the big data for:

• Charting and analyzing social media such as Facebook

• Targeting audits by matching tax filings to social media or electronic payments

• Tracking individual Internet addresses and emailing patterns

• Sorting data in 32,000 categories of metadata and 1 million unique “attributes”

• Machine learning across “neural” networks

• Statistical and agent-based modeling

• Relationship analysis based on Social Security numbers and other personal identifiers

Officials have said much of the data will be used only for research. The agency’s economic forecasts and data are a key part of Washington’s budget infrastructure. Former commissioner Douglas Shulman said in an IRS statement that the technology will employ “billions of pieces of data” to target enforcement and to “detect and combat noncompliance.”

[Read: The Big Tax Shelter Many Financial Planners Overlook.]

U.S. Tax Court records show that information gathered from Facebook and eBay postings have been used by the IRS in defending tax challenges. Under a Freedom of Information Act disclosure obtained by privacy advocates at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the group published the IRS’s 38-page manual used to train auditors to search Internet addresses, Facebook postings and other social media to back audit enforcements.

In practice, the third-party data has been used only if the irregular returns merit more attention. In one much-cited example, IRS officials talk about prisoners who were filing false claims for energy tax credits for window replacements.

The agency, wary of public opinion about invasive audit practices, has pulled back from using so-called “social audits,” which, for example, might single out horse-racing enthusiasts or sailboaters for special attention. But by screening existing data for one million unique attributes, the agency can quietly create a DNA-like code to understand the economic behavior of any individual.

The IRS last year used a profiling test model to study 1,500 tax preparers with histories of reporting deficiencies and managed to recover $200 million. It cited the experience as proof that its data analysis works. Early this year, however, a new set of rules it developed for tax preparers was thrown out by a federal court who said the agency had overstepped its mandate. The IRS would not comment on whether the rules were based on its new screening tools.

Lots of computing power, for what? The agency’s computers can now load all U.S. tax returns in just 10 hours, compared with the four months it took just eight years ago, Jeff Butler, IRS director of research databases told the IBM TechAmerica conference last November. That leaves a lot of time for other uses. The IRS says it expects 80 percent of its tax returns to be filed electronically this year. That makes a total of 250 million returns filed, with $2 trillion in revenue.

But processing those returns uses only a fraction of the agency’s computing power. An entire year of tax returns amounts to 15 terabytes, or just 1.5 percent of the IRS storage of 1.2 petabytes (one quadrillion bits of information), based on public data from IRS presentations. The agency has expanded its data capacity by 1,000 percent in the past six years.

It also recently assembled $350 million in high-tech tools to do a lot of auditing, tracking and analyzing what people do on the Internet. The agency has used social media and other third-party sources in the past, but it has now increased its capability to so from its own growing database of networks.

Congressional staffers on the House Ways and Means Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation, both of which oversee the IRS, say they have been occupied by more pressing issues related to the budget crisis, and Congress gave the tax officials leeway to use technology to solve the growing problem of identity theft. But they said they will look at the possibility of errors in robo-audits as well as the storage of data on millions of taxpayers.

The IRS is guarded about how its audits are triggered, tax experts say, because too much information on what they do might help tax cheats. Major accounting firms have been given little information on the changes and were reluctant to comment, although some said privately that they are aware of the new IRS tools but it is too early to tell how they will be used. Taxpayer advocacy groups also say they are waiting to see how the IRS manages its technology upgrade, and are holding out hope that it will make taxes more fair and efficient and force tax evaders to pay their share of the overall burden.

[See Tax Tips: The Good, Bad and Ugly (But Legal)]

While many applaud the effort to update government technology with private-sector tools, they say the agency needs to conform to higher standards.

“I don’t really see strong legal regulation in place to manage something of this magnitude,” says Paul Schwartz, University of California law professor and co-director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology. The IRS is working with the same kind of oversight and rules that were developed in the paper tax-return era, says Schwartz. But with the technology it now has, the agency can “see into people’s lives” as never before.

Tax returns are like narratives of how people spent their money, and tax audits have been guided by “reasonable” interpretations of allowable credits and deductions by the IRS agents who manage audits. “Social media can make people testify against themselves,” Schwartz says. “They provide a counter-narrative.” He cites as an example a businessperson going to Florida for five meetings over a week who also visits family in Miami. A casual Google+ posting to friends online about “visiting my mother in Florida” could paint a different picture than the deduction taken on the tax form.

“It will be interesting to see what the IRS does with all of their new tools. They will have to be very careful,” says Schwartz. So, too, will taxpayers.

Google Involved in ‘Regime Change’: WikiLeaks

April 08, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“Al-Akhbar” –  Top Google execs, including the company’s CEO and one of Barack Obama’s major presidential campaign donors Eric Schmidt, informed the intelligence agency Stratfor about Google’s activities and internal communication regarding “regime change” in the Middle East, according to Stratfor emails released by WikiLeaks and obtained by Al-Akhbar. The other source cited was Google’s director for security and safety Marty Lev.

The briefings mainly focused on the movements of Jared Cohen, currently the director of Google Ideas, a “think/do-tank” billed as a vehicle for spreading American-style liberal democracy. Cohen was also a former member of US Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff and former advisor to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.

Email exchanges, starting February 2011, suggest that Google execs were suspicious that Cohen was coordinating his moves with the White House and cut Cohen’s mission short at times for fear he was taking too many risks. Stratfor’s vice-president of counter-terrorism Fred Burton, who seemed opposed to Google’s alleged covert role in “foaming” uprisings, describes Cohen as a “loose Cannon” whose killing or kidnapping “might be the best thing to happen” to expose Google.

The Cohen Conspiracy

Stratfor’s spotlight on Cohen began on 9 February 2012 after Burton forwarded to the secure email list a Foreign Policy article discussing Cohen’s move from the State Department to Google Ideas. With this article, Burton noted that Cohen had dinner in Cairo with Wael Ghonim on January 27, 2011 just hours before the Egyptian Google Executive was famously picked up by Egypt’s State Security. (doc-id 1122191)

On the same day, Stratfor’s staff make reference to a Huffington Post article which highlighted Cohen’s role in “delaying the scheduled maintenance on Twitter so the Iranian revolution could keep going” and a Foreign Policy article that noted that Cohen “was a Rhodes scholar, spent time in Iran, [and] hung out in Iraq during the war…”. These casual discovers further perked Stratfor’s curiosity about Cohen. (doc-id 1629270)

The following day, Burton forwarded a message to the secure email list from “a very good Google source” who claimed that Cohen “[was] off to Gaza next week”. Burton added, “Cohen, a Jew, is bound to get himself whacked….Google is not clear if Cohen is operating [with a] State Dept [or] WH [White House] license, or [is] a hippie activist.”

Korena Zucha, another senior analyst on the list, queried, “Why hasn’t Google cut ties to Cohen yet? Or is Cohen’s activity being endorsed by those higher up in the [company] than your contact?”

In turn, Burton replied, “Cohen’s rabbi is Eric Schmidt and Obama lackey. My source is trying to find out if the billionaire owners are backing Cohen’s efforts for regime change.” (doc-id 1111729)

Later on, Burton forwarded information from the “Google source” of Cohen’s links in establishing Movements.org. The source added, “A site created to help online organization of groups and individuals to move democracy in stubborn nations. Funded through public-private partnerships.” Burton pointed out that the US State Department is the organization’s public sponsor.” (doc-id 1118344)

Indeed, the State Department, partnering with a number of corporations, was the main sponsor for the 2008 inaugural Alliance of Youth Movements summit in New York City that subsequently established Movements.org. Hillary Clinton endorsed the organization and presented a video message during the second summit held in Mexico City a year later.

On 11 February, Burton wrote to the secure email list that Cohen was still planning to head to Gaza. He added, “The dude is a loose can[n]on. GOOGLE is trying to stop his entry into Gaza now because the dude is like scorched earth. It’s unclear to GOOGLE if he’s driving without a license, but GOOGLE believes he’s on a specific mission of “regime change” on the part of leftist fools inside the WH who are using him for their agendas.” (doc-id 1113596)

Throughout this day, the idea proposed by Burton, and seemingly felt by his Google contacts as well, of Cohen and the White House’s involvement in the uprisings was actively discussed among the analysts, especially in regards to who would be targeted next. (doc-id 1113965)

By Monday, 14 February 2011, Burton shared intelligence with George Friedman, Stratfor’s founder, and Scott Stewart, vice-president of Stratfor’s tactical department, from his source in Google that Cohen was ordered not to go to Gaza. Burton’s Google source further stated, “Also, thinking I [the unnamed source] may be on the right track about him despite his denials [in reference to Cohen working for the White House/State Department].”

When asked to clarify his sources on Cohen, Burton claimed that they were Marty Lev, Google’s director for security and safety, and Eric Schmidt, the current CEO of Google. (doc-id 398679)

A week later, Burton forwarded an internal Google email obtained from a ‘senior Google executive’. This email was seemingly sent by Cohen to the senior Google executive to discuss Cohen’s planned trip in March.

In it, Cohen wrote, “I wanted to follow-up and get a sense of your latest thinking on the proposed March trip to UAE, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. The purpose of this trip is to exclusively engage the Iranian community to better understand the challenges faced by Iranians as part of one of our Google Ideas groups on repressive societies. Here is what we are thinking: Drive to Azerbaijan/Iranian border and engage the Iranian communities closer to the border (this is important because we need the Azeri Iranian perspective).”

After reading Cohen’s email, Stewart remarked, “Cohen might end up having an accident if he is not careful. This is not child’s play.”

Burton responded, “GOOGLE is getting WH [White House] and State Dept. support and air cover. In reality, they are doing things the CIA cannot do. But, I agree with you. He’s going to get himself kidnapped or killed. Might be the best thing to happen to expose GOOGLE’s covert role in foaming up-risings, to be blunt. The US Gov’t can then disavow knowledge and GOOGLE is left holding the shit bag.” (doc-id 1121800)

On 10 March 2011, Burton forwarded another message from his ‘senior Google executive’ source detailing how Cohen was requested not to travel on his proposed trip. The source explained that Google had concerns over Cohen’s “baggage” as a “US State Dept. policy maker, his research and publications on Muslim extremists and youth movements and his presence in Egypt just as the uprising started.”The source also stated that Cohen was recommended to “take a lower profile on this specific trip and let time pass before being visible and associated with people known by their states to be active in challenging repressive societies.” (doc-id 1164190)

A subsequent message from Burton’s source on 22 March 2011 affirmed that Cohen “heeded the advice not to go to Turkey or UAE for those meetings.” (doc-id 1133861)

The final email dealing with Cohen was on 30 March 2011.
Here, Burton forwarded to the alpha (secure) email list a response by his source to Burton’s question of whether Cohen was playing any role in Libya at the time. The source stated, “Not that I’m aware of. He heeded the advice to avoid Turkey and UAE and didn’t go on that trip.” (doc-id 1160182)


Google Ideas: Politicizing Technology

Certainly, there is more than meets the eye to Cohen and his actions; even his superiors in Google seem to think so.

The belief, chiefly by Burton, that Cohen had seemingly played a role in fermenting the uprisings that toppled Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak underplays, and at times entirely disregards, the ability and agency by local movements in Tunisia and Egypt.

Nevertheless, Google Ideas, which Cohen directs, is a new animal. According to a report by the Financial Times published last July, Google Ideas seems to bond idealistic activist sensibilities with Google’s pursuit for continued global expansion – blurring the lines between business and political action. Schmidt and Cohen dub Google Ideas as a “think/do-tank” that aims to tackle political and diplomatic matters through the use of technology.

The first public event for the think/do-tank, in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations and the Tribeca Film Festival, was held last June in Dublin. It gathered around 80 ‘former’ extremists, including former Muslim radicals, neo-Nazis, US gang members, and others, in a “Summit Against Violent Extremism”. The announcement by Google declared that the summit’s aim is “to initiate a global conversation on how best to prevent young people from becoming radicalised and how to de-radicalise others” and that “the ideas generated at the Dublin summit will be included in a study to be published later in the year.”

One spin off was the creation of the Against Violent Extremism group, apparently a network for those who attended the Dublin Summit. Beyond merely networking, the group also advertises certain projects that are in need of funding. Notably, much of the projects pertain to the Middle East, including an “Al-Awlaki Counter-Campaign” – Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen of Yemeni origin, was assassinated in September of last year by the US for his alleged al-Qaeda connections.

But the Against Violent Extremism site does not seem to be presently active. The last update for projects in need of funding was made in September and the last announcement regarding the workings of the site was made in October.

More recently, Foreign Policy reported in January that the Brookings Institute, one of the oldest and most influential think-tanks in Washington, DC, named Google Ideas as “the best new think tank established in the last 18 months.” Such accolades arguably suggests that Google Ideas is expected to be a major player in the near future.

Obama launches project to map the human brain

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fakeobama
(Digital Journal) -Starting in 2014, the federally funded initiative, announced on April 2, will seek to develop new technologies capable of mapping the activity in the human brain.
According to BBC News, President Barack Obama has officially announced plans for a large-scale, government-backed research project to map the human brain. The project will be called Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN). The main aim, the Daily News reports, will be to advance understanding of various brain diseases. President Obama has expressed his hope that the research will “unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s”. The research has divided scientific opinion, according to the New York Times. Speaking in favor, Michael Roukes, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology said: “It makes sense to have a brain activity map now because the maturation of an array of nanotechnologies can be brought to bear on the problem. However, striking a cord of less enthusiasm, David Stein, a neuroscientist at Emory University in Atlanta, said: “I think the monies could be better spent by first figuring out what needs to be measured and then figuring out the most appropriate means to measure them. In my mind, the technology ought to follow the concepts rather than the other way around.” The project will begin with a fund of $100 million and the first step will be with developing the technologies to enable the investigation to begin. The project will involve three U.S. government agencies: the National Institutes of Health (NIH), The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Some private institutions will also contribute.