Puppet MastersS

Wolf

Cash Transactions Banned by Louisiana: Government Takes Private Property Without Due Process

cash

This summer, the State Legislature and Governor of Louisiana passed a law that bans individuals and businesses from transacting in cash if they are considered a "secondhand dealer". House Bill 195 of the 2011 Regular Session (Act 389) broadly defines a secondhand dealer to include "... Anyone, other than a non-profit entity, who buys, sells, trades in or otherwise acquires or disposes of junk or used or secondhand property more frequently than once per month from any other person, other than a non-profit entity, shall be deemed as being in the business of a secondhand dealer. " The law then states that "A secondhand dealer shall not enter into any cash transactions in payment for the purchase of junk or used or secondhand property. Payment shall be made in the form of check, electronic transfers, or money order issued to the seller of the junk or used or secondhand property..." The broad scope of this definition can essentially encompass everyone; from your local flea market vendors and buyers to a housewife purchasing goods on ebay or craigslist, to a group of guys trading baseball cards, they could all be considered secondhand dealers. Lawmakers in Louisiana have effectively banned its citizens from freely using United States legal tender.

The law goes further to require secondhand dealers to turn over a valuable business asset, namely, their business' proprietary client information. For every transaction a secondhand dealer must obtain the seller's personal information such as their name, address, driver's license number and the license plate number of the vehicle in which the goods were delivered. They must also make a detailed description of the item(s) purchased and submit this with the personal identification information of every transaction to the local policing authorities through electronic daily reports. If a seller cannot or refuses to produce to the secondhand dealer any of the required forms of identification, the secondhand dealer is prohibited from completing the transaction.

This legislation amounts to a public taking of private property without compensation. Regardless of whether or not the transaction information is connected with, or law enforcement is investigating a crime, individuals and businesses are forced to report routine business activity to the police. Can law enforcement not accomplish its goal of identifying potential thieves and locating stolen items in a far less intrusive manner? And of course, there are already laws that prohibit stealing, buying or selling stolen goods, laws that require businesses to account for transactions and laws that penalize individuals and businesses that transact in stolen property. Why does the Louisiana State Legislature need to enact more laws infringing on personal privacy, liberties and freedom?

Binoculars

How the US government secretly reads your email

Jacob Appelbaum
© Jacob Appelbaum/Creative CommonsComputer science researcher and WikiLeaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum, in 2005; the US government used secret orders to compel Google and ISP Sonic to give up his personal email records.
Secret orders forcing Google and Sonic to release a WikiLeaks volunteer's email reveal the scale of US government snooping

Somewhere, a US government official is reading through a list of those who sent or received an email from Jacob Appelbaum, a 28-year-old computer science researcher at the University of Washington who volunteered for WikiLeaks. Among those listed will be my name, a journalist who interviewed Appelbaum for a book about the digital revolution.

Appelbaum is a spokesman for Tor, a free internet anonymising software that helps people defend themselves against internet surveillance. He's spent five years teaching activists around the world how to install and use the service to avoid being monitored by repressive governments. It's exactly the sort of technology Secretary of State Hilary Clinton praised in her famous "Internet Freedom" speech in January 2010, when she promised US government support for the designers of technology that circumvented blocks or firewalls. Now, Appelbaum finds himself a target of his own government as a result of his friendship with Julian Assange and the fact WikiLeaks used the Tor software.

Cow Skull

US: Millions could lose unemployment benefits in 2012

unemployed
© Joe Readle / Getty ImagesMore than six million Americans could lose their unemployment benefits next year if Congress doesn't act
Millions of unemployed Americans are waiting for Congress to do something other than trade barbs over their job creation plans.

If lawmakers don't act soon, the jobless see their unemployment checks start to disappear come January.

More than 6 million Americans are set to lose federal unemployment benefits in 2012, with 1.8 million running out in January alone, according to new figures from the National Employment Law Project.

President Obama's $447 billion American Jobs Act would extend the deadline to file for federal unemployment benefits for another year. Though the Senate is expected to take up the controversial jobs bill on Tuesday, it's unlikely to get very far.

Snowman

German push for Greek default risks EMU-wide 'snowball'

Angela Merkel and George Papandreou
© AFPGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. Officials in Berlin told The Telegraph it is 'more likely than not' that investors will suffer fresh losses on holdings of Greek debt
Germany is pushing behind the scenes for a "hard" default in Greece with losses of up to 60pc for banks and pension funds, risking a chain-reaction across southern Europe unless credible defences are established first.

Officials in Berlin told The Telegraph it is "more likely than not" that investors will suffer fresh losses on holdings of Greek debt, beyond the 21pc haircut agreed in July.

The exact level will depend on findings by the EU-IMF "Troika" in Athens.

"A lot has happened since July. Greece has fallen back on its commitments, so we have to assume that the 21pc cut is no longer enough," said one source.

Magic Wand

Fort Knox Decoded: Protecting the Myth of America's Gold

Part 1


X

VeriSign demands website takedown powers - No court order necessary

internet kill switch graphic
© n/a
VeriSign, which manages the database of all .com internet addresses, wants powers to shut down "non-legitimate" domain names when asked to by law enforcement.

The company said today it wants to be able to enforce the "denial, cancellation or transfer of any registration" in any of a laundry list of scenarios where a domain is deemed to be "abusive".

VeriSign should be able to shut down a .com or .net domain, and therefore its associated website and email, "to comply with any applicable court orders, laws, government rules or requirements, requests of law enforcement or other governmental or quasi-governmental agency, or any dispute resolution process", according to a document it filed today with domain name industry overseer ICANN.

Bad Guys

US: Here we go again - 'Factions' Of Iran's Government Behind Terrorist Plot, Holder Says

We're following this breaking news as it comes in. Scroll down for updates.

Image
© Win McNamee/Getty ImagesU.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (right) and FBI Director Robert Mueller announce a plot had been foiled involving men allegedly linked to the Iranian government to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. and bomb the embassies of Saudi Arabia and Israel in Washington at a news conference October 11, 2011 in Washington, DC.
An Iranian-directed plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. and possibly attack the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington has been disrupted, Justice Department officials announced this afternoon.

Saying that the alleged "deadly plot ... [was] directed by factions of the Iranian government" and involved an attempt to hire killers from a Mexican drug cartel, Attorney General Eric Holder also said Iran will be held to account.

The criminal complaint "filed today in the Southern District of New York," Justice says, "charges Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen holding both Iranian and U.S. passports, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iran-based member of Iran's Qods Force," in the scheme. Among the charges against them:
"Conspiracy to engage in foreign travel and use of interstate and foreign commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire; conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives); and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism transcending national boundaries."

Wolf

Torture is Systemic in Afghan Prisons

map, afghanistan

No prosecutions for torturers have yet been initiated and the likelihood that US officials will be held accountable is remote

Detainees in Afghan prisons are hung from the ceilings by their wrists, severely beaten with cables and wooden sticks, have their toenails torn off, are treated with electric shock, and even have their genitals twisted until they lose consciousness, according to a study released Monday by the United Nations.

The study, which covered 47 facilities sites in 22 provinces, found "a compelling pattern and practice of systematic torture and ill-treatment" during interrogation by US-supported Afghan authorities. Both US and NATO military trainers and counterparts have been working closely with these authorities, consistently supervising the detention facilities and funding their operations.

The report detailed instances where detained suspects not yet charged with crimes signed confessions only after days of torture, sealing their fate as a convict in Afghanistan.

Wall Street

Wall Street: The big scam

Wall Street
If Randians are looking for the "parasites", "looters", and "moochers", they should look on Wall Street.

Wall Street is the most successful scam in human history. Wealth is *stuff* - goods and services - but Wall Street has convinced a whole lot of people that wealth is pieces of toilet paper with pictures of dead people on it and that the way to be wealthy is to have a lot of that toilet paper. Which, conveniently, their job is to move from point A to point B while letting a lot of it stick to their own fingers. Wall Street produces nothing, consumes very little, actually contributes very little to the economy other than that small service of moving money from point A to point B (something just as doable by a high school dropout security guard thanks to modern computers), yet has somehow convinced a significant number of people that they - who produce nothing - are the "producers", and that the people who actually produce *stuff* are the "parasites, moochers, and looters", and thus it's only right that they're entitled, entitled I say, to stick 40% of America's corporate profits to their fingers despite doing, well, maybe 3% of the work of corporate America (and that's being generous). It is to laugh.

Bad Guys

German Government Does Not Deny Spying On Computer Users

Computer Spying
© redOrbit

The German government is spying on computer users in its country with a trojan horse program without their consent, a German hacker group claims.

The Chaos Computer Club (CCC), claims on its website that it has obtained and analyzed software that is ostensibly a "lawful interception" program designed to legally listen in on internet-based phone calls as part of a legal wiretap. Its capabilities, the group says, go beyond legally acceptable bounds, MSNBC is reporting.

The program is capable of logging keystrokes, activating Webcams, monitoring Web users' activities and sending mountains of data to government officials, the club said.

Covering its tracks, through rented servers located in the United States, the program logs keystrokes, activates webcams, monitors internet activities and sends data to government officials, the club alleges.

However, the CCC said, the spyware appeared to be of poor quality and dubious application. "We are extremely pleased that a competent programming expert couldn't be found for this computer bug of morally questionable use," the CCC said in statement and reprinted by thelocal.de.

Focusing on IT security issues, CCC expressed concern that the program did not provide even basic protection for the data it took from people's computers, reports The Local, an English-language German news outlet.

No one from the German government has commented on the report, but antivirus companies are reacting to them. Security firm F-Secure will detect and disable the alleged government monitoring software if found on clients' computers.