There was an error in this gadget
Be Alert!

Moriel Ministries Be Alert! has added this Blog as a resource for further information, links and research to help keep you above the global deception blinding the world and most of the church in these last days. Jesus our Messiah is indeed coming soon and this should only be cause for joy unless you have not surrendered to Him. Today is the day for salvation! For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, - Psalms 95:7

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Liberty's last gasp

The Next Top Spy Negroponte's likely replacement makes civil libertarians nervous NEWSWEEK - WEB EXCLUSIVE By Michael Hirsh and Mark Hosenball - January 4, 2007 -- John Michael McConnell, the retired vice admiral slated to become America's new top spy, is known as a consummate team player. "He is disarmingly charming, and professional," says Bill Crowell, who served as his deputy at the National Security Agency during McConnell’s 1992-96 tenure as director. Not surprisingly, McConnell has won many friends and fans during his long career in intelligence. One is Bob Gates, the just-installed secretary of Defense. Another is Michael Hayden, the director of the CIA, who was one of McConnell's successors at the NSA. All these old-boy ties offer the promise of greater cooperation between the 16 separate intel agencies—dominated by the ever-rancorous Pentagon and CIA—that McConnell is expected to oversee as director of national intelligence. Still, some of McConnell's longtime associations may cause him headaches during Senate confirmation hearings, especially with the Democrats taking over Congress. One such tie is with another former Navy admiral, John Poindexter, the Iran-contra figure who started the controversial "Total Information Awareness" program at the Pentagon in 2002. The international consultancy that McConnell has worked at for a decade as a senior vice president, Booz Allen Hamilton, won contracts worth $63 million on the TIA "data-mining" program, which was later cancelled after congressional Democrats raised questions about invasion of privacy. McConnell will be named by week's end to replace John Negroponte, who will move on to become Condoleezza Rice's deputy secretary of State, according to a White House official who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. While his role in the TIA program is unlikely to derail McConnell's nomination, spokespeople for some leading Democratic senators such as Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Ron Wyden of Oregon say it will be examined carefully. McConnell was a key figure in making Booz Allen, along with Science Applications International Corp., the prime contractor on the project, according to officials in the intelligence community and at Booz Allen who would discuss contracts for data mining only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. "I think Poindexter probably respected Mike and probably entrusted the TIA program to him as a result," said a longtime associate of McConnell's who worked at NSA with him. Poindexter, who lives in Rockville, Md., did not answer phone calls. Booz Allen spokesman George Farrar said McConnell was not speaking to the media prior to his nomination. Farrar also had no comment on the TIA program. Intel experts agree that McConnell will need all the good will he can get from the intelligence and defense communities. "It's a good appointment for a bad office," says John Arquilla, who teaches intelligence at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. "The directorate of national intelligence should not exist. It's very redundant." Insiders say Negroponte was frustrated by his lack of budgeting control over Pentagon intelligence, and the resistance of the CIA to his direction since his office was created in 2004 as part of the Bush administration's post-9/11 reforms. To date, the national intelligence director's office has been best known for assembling a large oversight staff and adding to the number of agencies that review intelligence and filter it to policymakers. Also it's unclear to what extent the intel czar's office had been able, during Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon tenure, to assert its authority over the Pentagon's secret intelligence gathering activities. Rumsfeld was replaced by Gates last month after a stormy six-year tenure. Perhaps McConnell's most important backer in the upper reaches of the Bush administration is Vice President Dick Cheney, with whom he worked more than a decade ago when the veep was Defense secretary under the first President Bush. McConnell had been approached at least twice before by the administration to take a top job in the intelligence director's office but turned it down, according to two former government officials. McConnell finally agreed to take the job after a direct, personal approach from Cheney, according to a former government official who talked to McConnell in the last day or two. Another former intelligence official said that before agreeing to come on board McConnell had also visited President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. The White House had no official comment on McConnell prior to the announcement of his appointment. McConnell may need all the friends he can get to fend off criticism of his role in helping the government to mine data on U.S. citizens—the subject of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings set to begin next week. TIA was an effort to gather intel on potential terrorist attacks by vacuuming up huge amounts of data from electronic transactions, including banking, plane reservations and other public and private sources. It was stopped after some in Congress about raised questions about invasions of privacy. The American Civil Liberties Union later called it an "Orwellian program." But the concept of doing broad-based surveillance lives on, as does Booz Allen's contracting role. Last September, the ACLU sharply criticized Booz Allen and the U.S. government for the revolving-door ties that had many former intelligence officials going to work for the contractor. After it was reported in June that the U.S. government was studying records of financial transactions carried out by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, the Bush administration responded that the fairness of the process was being audited by Booz Allen. But both European regulators and the ACLU said Booz Allen was not independent enough to fulfill such duties. "Its relationship with the U.S. government calls its objectivity seriously in to question," an ACLU report said. Booz Allen spokesman Farrar said the firm rejected the criticism. "What clients are buying from us are independence and objectivity," he said. Booz Allen's government contracts have expanded dramatically during McConnell's time there, amounting to $1.59 billion last year in information technology. According to his official Booz Allen biography, "As Senior Vice President, Mike McConnell leads the firm's assignments in Military Intelligence and Information Operations for the Department of Defense, the Unified Combatant Commanders, Military Services, and Defense Agencies.” Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Project, says: "Plainly, given the NSA's role in massive spying on Americans, we'll want the Senate to look very carefully at his history.” Schooled at Furman University in South Carolina, where he received a B.A. degree in economics, and at George Washington University, where he got a master's in public administration, McConnell was also a close friend of one of the administration's most widely admired members: former secretary of State Colin Powell, who was often at odds with Cheney. McConnell's relationship with both men dates back to the first gulf war. At the outset of that conflict, according to several current and former government officials, McConnell, who had previously worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency, was named to the post of "J-2"—intelligence chief—of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The chairman was then General Powell. According to a former Pentagon official, McConnell would sometimes appear in public as Powell's spokesman or intelligence adviser during press briefings on the Persian Gulf War. McConnell was "always very professional in what he did," recalled retired Army colonel Larry Wilkerson, who served as a senior aide to Powell both at the Pentagon and when Powell was secretary of State. During the first gulf war, Cheney also worked directly with McConnell, who benefited from a series of rapid promotions that took him from Navy captain to three-star vice admiral within just a couple of years. Cheney and McConnell later "stayed in touch," said a former Pentagon official who also has kept in contact with both men. While serving under the Joint Chiefs during the first gulf war, McConnell also worked closely with Robert Gates, who was then deputy to White House national-security adviser Brent Scowcroft. An acquaintance said that McConnell and Gates are sympatico in a way that McConnell and former Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld would not have been. He'd better hope so. McConnell will need all the help he can get if he's going to get on top of the post-9/11 intelligence problem. New Rules Make Firms Track E-Mails, IMs ASSOCIATED PRESS - December 1, 2006 -- WASHINGTON - U.S. companies will need to keep track of all the e-mails, instant messages and other electronic documents generated by their employees thanks to new federal rules that go into effect Friday, legal experts say. The rules, approved by the Supreme Court in April, require companies and other entities involved in federal litigation to produce "electronically stored information" as part of the discovery process, when evidence is shared by both sides before a trial. The change makes it more important for companies to know what electronic information they have and where. Under the new rules, an information technology employee who routinely copies over a backup computer tape could be committing the equivalent of "virtual shredding," said Alvin F. Lindsay, a partner at Hogan & Hartson LLP and expert on technology and litigation. James Wright, director of electronic discovery at Halliburton Co. (HAL) (HAL), said that large companies are likely to face higher costs from organizing their data to comply with the rules. In addition to e-mail, companies will need to know about things more difficult to track, like digital photos of work sites on employee cell phones and information on removable memory cards, he said. Both federal and state courts have increasingly been requiring the production of relevant electronic documents during discovery, but the new rules codify the practice, legal experts said. The rules also require that lawyers provide information about where their clients' electronic data is stored and how accessible it is much earlier in a lawsuit than was previously the case. There are hundreds of "e-discovery vendors" and these businesses raked in approximately $1.6 billion in 2006, Wright said. That figure could double in 2007, he added. Another expense will likely stem from the additional time lawyers will have to spend reviewing electronic documents before turning them over to the other side. While the amount of data will be narrowed by electronic searches, some high-paid lawyers will still have to sift through casual e-mails about subjects like "office birthday parties in the pantry" in order to find information relevant to a particular case. Martha Dawson, a partner at the Seattle-based law firm of Preston Gates & Ellis LLP who specializes in electronic discovery, said the burden of the new rules won't be that great. Companies will not have to alter how they retain their electronic documents, she said, but will have to do an "inventory of their IT system" in order to know better where the documents are. The new rules also provide better guidance on how electronic evidence is to be handled in federal litigation, including guidelines on how companies can seek exemptions from providing data that isn't "reasonably accessible," she said. This could actually reduce the burden of electronic discovery, she said. Google 'will be able to keep tabs on us all' THE GUARDIAN - By Alexi Mostrous and Rob Evans - November 3, 2006 -- The internet will hold so much digital data in five years that it will be possible to find out what an individual was doing at a specific time and place, an expert said yesterday. Nigel Gilbert, a professor heading a Royal Academy of Engineering study into surveillance, said people would be able to sit down and type into Google "what was a particular individual doing at 2.30 yesterday and would get an answer". The answer would come from a range of data, for instance video recordings or databanks which store readings from electronic chips. Such chips embedded in people's clothes could track their movements. He told a privacy conference the internet would be capable of holding huge amounts of data very cheaply and patterns of information could be extracted very quickly. "Everything can be recorded for ever," he said. He was speaking at a conference at which a report commissioned by Richard Thomas, the privacy watchdog, was launched. Mr Thomas has said Britain is "waking up to a surveillance society that is all around us" and that such "pervasive" surveillance is likely to spread. Sir Stephen Lander, the head of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) and former head of MI5, defended surveillance by the government. "Significant intrusion into the privacy of a small minority is justified to protect the safety and wellbeing of the majority," he said.,,1938474,00.html Jacksonville To Increase Spy Cam Presence Video Report Word on the street ... they’re listening THE SUNDAY TIMES of LONDON - By Steven Swinford and Nicola Smith - November 26, 2006 -- BRITAIN -- POLICE and councils are considering monitoring conversations in the street using high-powered microphones attached to CCTV cameras, write Steven Swinford and Nicola Smith. The microphones can detect conversations 100 yards away and record aggressive exchanges before they become violent. The devices are used at 300 sites in Holland and police, councils and transport officials in London have shown an interest in installing them before the 2012 Olympics. The interest in the equipment comes amid growing concern that Britain is becoming a “surveillance society”. It was recently highlighted that there are more than 4.2m CCTV cameras, with the average person being filmed more than 300 times a day. The addition of microphones would take surveillance into uncharted territory. The Association of Chief Police Officers has warned that a full public debate over the microphones’ impact on privacy will be needed before they can be introduced. The equipment can pick up aggressive tones on the basis of 12 factors, including decibel level, pitch and the speed at which words are spoken. Background noise is filtered out, enabling the camera to focus on specific conversations in public places. If the aggressive behaviour continues, police can intervene before an incident escalates. Privacy laws in Holland limit the recording of sound to short bursts. Derek van der Vorst, director of Sound Intelligence, the company that created the technology, said: “It is technically capable of being live 24 hours a day and recording 24 hours a day. It really depends on the privacy laws in a particular country.” Last month Martin Nanninga of VCS Observation, the Dutch company marketing the technology, gave a presentation to officials from Transport for London, the Metropolitan police and the City of London police about the CCTV system. Nanninga is to return next year for further discussions. “There was a lot of interest in our system, especially with security concerns about the Olympic Games in 2012. We told them about both our intelligent control room and the aggression detection system,” Nanninga said. In Holland more than 300 of the cameras have been fitted in Groningen, Utrecht and Rotterdam. Locations include city centres, benefit offices, jails, and even T-Mobile shops. The sensitivity of the microphones is adjusted to suit the situation. Police and local council officials are still assessing their impact on crime, although in an initial six-week trial in Groningen last year the cameras raised 70 genuine alarms, resulting in four arrests. Harry Hoetjer, head of surveillance at Groningen police headquarters, recalled an incident where the camera had homed in on a gang of four men who were about to attack a passer-by. “We would not normally have detected it as there was no camera directly viewing it,” he said. Last Friday a Sunday Times reporter visited the office of Sound Intelligence in Groningen to test the system. The reporter stood in the control centre with a view of an empty room on one of a bank of monitors. Van der Vorst entered the room, out of sight of the camera, and began making aggressive noises. The camera swivelled to film him and an alarm went off in the control room, designed to alert police to a possible incident. “The cameras work on the principle that in an aggressive situation the pitch goes up and the words are spoken faster,” said van der Vorst. “The voice is not the normal flat tone, but vibrates. It is these subtle changes that our audio cameras can pick up on.” Public prosecution services can use them in court as evidence. The Dutch privacy board has already given its approval to the system. According to a spokesman for Richard Thomas, Britain’s information commissioner, sound recorded by the cameras would be treated under British law in the same way as CCTV footage. Under the commissioner’s code of practice, audio can be recorded for the detection, prevention of crime and apprehension and prosecution of offenders. It cannot be used for recording private conversations. Graeme Gerrard, chairman of the chief police officers’ video and CCTV working group, said: “In the UK this is a new step. Clearly there is somebody or something monitoring people speaking in the street, and before we were to engage in that technology there would be a number of legal obstacles. “We would need to have a debate as to whether or not this is something the public think would be a reasonable use of the technology. The other issue is around the capacity of the police service to deal with this.”,,2087-2471987,00.html Boston: City Hall pushed to buy $1.5m system to track gunshots BOSTON GLOBE - By Suzanne Smalley, Globe Staff - January 6, 2007 -- Boston city councilors, law enforcement officials, and community leaders are pressing City Hall to come up with $1.5 million to buy a promising acoustic gunshot-detection system. The sensor system could blanket a 5.6-square-mile swath of the city's most dangerous neighborhoods -- the source of 80 to 85 percent of calls citywide reporting shots fired -- and give officers a jump on arresting suspects, improve police response time to 911 calls, and possibly reduce firearm violence, proponents say. Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said he believes the technology would help prosecutors win more gun cases and would require a "relatively modest investment," given the city's $2 billion annual budget. "Police would be able to get the scene quickly and perhaps apprehend someone fleeing the scene, or identify someone who actually saw something," Conley said in an interview yesterday. "It would also corroborate witness testimony." … Boston Globe Article Catching a Killer, With Help From a Camera ABC NEWS [America] - By Joan Martelli and Joneil Adriano - January 2, 2007 -- It was an early May morning in 2005, and Patricia McDermott had no reason to expect anything but a typical commute to her job as an X-ray technician. Riding the No. 33 bus through the predawn streets of Philadelphia, McDermott got off at her regular stop — the post office on the corner of Ninth and Market streets. She began walking south, toward Pennsylvania Hospital, but she never made it to work. Minutes after she got off the bus, McDermott was discovered lifeless on the street by a passing driver. Police on the scene were stumped at first. Was it a robbery, an accident or a suicide? "There was blood on the sidewalk," said Howard Peterman, one of the first detectives to respond. "We looked around for evidence for weapons. No ballistic evidence. We looked up to see if she had jumped from the building. … [There was] no evidence to show us what had happened." But Peterman noticed something else when he looked up — surveillance cameras mounted all around the post office. Americans have grown accustomed to being filmed as part of their daily routines — cameras are commonplace at ATMs, convenience stores, gas stations and building lobbies. It's not so unusual anymore for those cameras to catch criminals in the act. But as the number of surveillance cameras increases, it seems not even random crimes on deserted streets in the dark of night can escape. The footage from those post office cameras would be crucial to investigators as they pieced together exactly what happened to McDermott. Caught on Tape Federal agents showed Peterman the recordings from that morning. One camera captured McDermott, 48, getting off the bus. A man wearing a light jacket and dark pants got off the same bus, and followed a few steps behind her. Another camera caught them as they rounded the corner. McDermott didn't seem to notice the man following her. Halfway down the block, the man suddenly raised his arm and shot her once in the back of the head. "I've seen shootings incidents on video before," Peterman said, "but the suddenness, and that he did it for no reason at all, was really scary." It was scary for the police, but devastating for the McDermott family. "I feel like my soul was shattered in two," said McDermott's sister Mary Moran, "like a windshield that's together but in pieces." The seemingly senseless, cold-blooded murder of a beloved mother stunned the entire city of Philadelphia…. The cameras above the post office were installed by the Department of Homeland Security as part of an effort to beef up security around federal buildings. The cameras, made by Canadian company Extreme CCTV, are very sophisticated. They are not only sensitive to light, but also emit infrared rays that can make night look virtually like day. Still, there were limits to what detectives could glean from the cameras. Though the images were good, the angle wasn't. The cameras are high above the street to catch possible truck bombs, not individual faces. And the killer wore a baseball cap that further obscured his identity. The post office cameras showed police what happened to McDermott, but not who did it, let alone why. Detectives needed more clues. While there were no human witnesses to the killing, there were potentially dozens of mechanical ones. On nearly every block of downtown Philadelphia, a motley assortment of cameras watch over department stores, lobbies, storefronts, office and apartment buildings. So investigators went door to door, collecting tapes. They found key footage from a camera in the parking lot across from the scene of the killing. That camera, unlike the post office cameras, recorded in real time. "It solidified the fact there was no interaction between Patricia McDermott and her killer. There was distance between them, and they had no interaction," Peterman said. That camera also captured the killer running through the parking lot as he left the scene of the crime, giving detectives a clue about the direction of his getaway. Other cameras caught him running down Market Street, and through an office building on Sixth Street. Vanished Into Thin Air? Often, detectives had little more than a blip on the screen to work with, but those fleeting images were enough for them to piece together the shooter's escape route. It was painstaking work that did not go unnoticed by McDermott's family. "I can't even imagine having to sit through and watch all those tapes, and how they tracked him just by the clothes that he had on and went from one spot to another," Moran said. After looking at about 50 different video systems in the neighborhood, police captured the footsteps of the killer on at least a dozen different cameras. They followed him for more than half a mile, to the corner of Sixth and Spruce streets, where the trail grew cold. The killer seemed to have vanished into thin air. Unfortunately, none of the videos showed the killer's face clearly. Detectives turned to their in-house audiovisual unit, the District Attorney's Office, the FBI, even NFL Films, all in a vain attempt to enhance the images. "They did what they could try to zoom in as much as possible. You just lost clarity the more you zoomed in on the lens," Peterman said. There are some high-tech cameras in Philadelphia that can zoom in on faces. There are 10 such cameras in the city, mounted in a handful of high-crime areas as part of a pilot program that is monitored 24 hours a day by the police. Unfortunately for the investigators on the McDermott case, the cameras had not yet come on line. So they hit the airwaves for help. Police released the images of the killer they had on tape, hoping that someone might recognize his clothes or how he walked. The Big Break That effort yielded hundreds of tips, including one that would become the big break in the case. A bus company employee thought the man in the grainy image resembled someone she knew — Juan Covington, who, like McDermott, was a regular rider on the No. 33 bus. Covington, it turned out, had something else in common with McDermott. He too worked at Pennsylvania Hospital, where police found the last piece of the puzzle. One of the hospital's surveillance cameras captured Covington entering the hospital less than half an hour after the murder. "When we looked at the footage, and saw it was the same man wearing the same baseball hat, the same clothing, we knew we had our man," said Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham. "I mean, there he was, the guy. Our killer." Confronted with the video, Covington confessed. In a written statement to police, he said he had to kill McDermott because she was poisoning him with X-rays. "I could feel the radiation when I went into the room," he said. "That's when I came to the conclusion that nobody would believe me about what she was doing to me." It was an explanation that left McDermott's family members scratching their heads. "To me it's a little ridiculous," said Angela Amarhanov, McDermott's daughter. "Honestly, it blows my mind that someone thought that my mom had a mean bone in her body, and that she would be capable of doing evil things." Added Moran: "I hate to say that he's crazy. Because to me he was very calculating, and he had a gun, and he went up and he shot my sister in the head, very cold-bloodedly." A Serial Killer There were still more bombshells to come. Before police closed the case on McDermott's murder, Covington admitted to having still more victims. He was no ordinary killer; he was a serial killer. Two months before McDermott was gunned down, Covington shot and killed Odies Bosket, 36, at the Logan station of the Broad Street Subway line. Bosket, a father of four, was on his way to pick up his 3-year-old daughter from nursery school. In 1998, Covington murdered his cousin, the Rev. Thomas Lee Devlin. Devlin, 49, died in a hail of bullets as he was leading a prayer service in his sister's home. In 2003, Covington jumped out from between two parked cars and shot David Stewart nine times as he walked home. Stewart, 43, miraculously survived. In 2004, Covington also shot William Bryant, 33, as he walked to work. After shooting him several times from behind, Covington stood over the injured Bryant and fired two more shots. Like Stewart, Bryant was shot nine times and also survived. Covington pleaded guilty but mentally ill to all these crimes, receiving a sentence of three life terms in prison and bringing to an end a one-man crime spree that spanned eight years…. For law enforcement, the value of surveillance cameras could not be underscored enough. Said district attorney Abraham: "McDermott's case might never have been solved. Who knows how many more victims there would have been had we not had that image of Covington murdering Ms. McDermott right on our video screens." Media Cranks Up Hard Sell of Biometric and RFID Microchipped Future ANOTHER DAY IN THE EMPIRE - Blog By Kurt Nimmo - December 2, 2006 -- I don’t watch a lot of television. But no sooner did I flip on MSNBC last night a coiffured talking head appeared gabbling about the insecurity of ATM machines. If we are to believe Algorithmic Research, an Israeli company, there is a flaw in the average ATM regarding PINs, account numbers, encryption, and decryption, that is to say there is a window of opportunity to snatch this information—over the internet, of course—by an unscrupulous hacker. Mind you, nobody has actually exploited this alleged flaw and stolen information, MSNBC admits, but it is conceivable, never mind the Secret Service, responsible for this sort of crime, and the American Bankers Association dismiss it as unlikely. It is also conceivable “al-Qaeda” will attack, as we are told on a nearly weekly basis, but the fact they have not over the last five years never seems to get worked into the equation. Not to worry, though. Biometric authentication, according to the MSNBC talking head, will save us. In a day not too far off in the future, fingerprint analysis, iris recognition, voice recognition or combinations of these technologies will come to the rescue. DieBold, the friendly voting machine folks, are working on this for us. Standard Bank in South Africa has fingerprint verification ATMs manufactured by DieBold in use and the company is fast at work figuring out what technology works the best. Once they do, you may see biometric ATMs in your neighborhood. According to Citibank, biometric ATMs “have been tailored to meet the needs of the under-banked, lower income segment” and will feature “voice-enabled navigation facility aimed at illiterate customers,” Moneycontrol reports. “Citibank plans to establish a network of 25 to 35 such ATMs within a year,” for now in Mumbai and Hyderabad. But Citibank it isn’t simply targeting “illiterate customers” in rural areas of India. “The latest—and arguably biggest—player to enter the biopayment game is none other than Citibank Singapore, which has been quietly distributing fingerprint readers to area businesses for the past month,” reports Portalino. “Right now only Clear Platinum card holders have the option of going biometric, and since this group includes heavy representation from the tech-savvy 25 to 34-year-old demographic, it seems that Citibank is taking the right approach to ensure widespread adoption.” Note how forking over your biometric data is characterized as an “option,” a lifestyle choice for the sake of convenience. Surrendering to Big Brother is now cool, as even James Bond, in the remake of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, has himself a microchip—for the sake of safety, of course. In the film, this little device saves Bond’s life. It will save your life, too, as you can now be scanned like a cocker spaniel. Lest we believe America has been left out of the biometric loop, consider the following: “Although biometric payment systems are still pretty rare… recent trials at stores like Albertsons and Cub Foods and even the school lunch line would seem to indicate that more pervasive rollouts are just around the corner.” Increasingly, it would seem that if you want to eat, you will be forced to surrender your biometric data. Acceptance begins at the grade school lunch line. Acceptance, however, does not seem to be much of a problem. “Ever get to the supermarket only to realize you forgot your wallet? For the more than 3.3 million consumers who’ve signed up for biometric technology, that’s no longer a problem,” reports ParadeNet, the internet version of Parade magazine. “Customers at several retailers can now literally pay by touch. By placing their finger on a scanner at the checkout and entering their home phone number, these tech-savvy shoppers can deduct the cost of a carton of milk directly from a bank account or credit card.” Again, it is “tech-savvy” to get plugged into the Big Brother Matrix. In Chicago, climbing aboard the biometric bandwagon, according to TMCnet, will make the Christmas season less stressful. “One of the most frustrating things that occur at holiday time is the over-crowded stores and long wait times in line just to make it out of the store. However, thanks to Pay By Touch’s biometric payment solution, shoppers now have a fast and secure way of moving through those shopping lines…. And for any customer who used or enrolled in their biometric payment system between November 1 and December 31, 2006 Pay By Touch will also enroll them into a drawing to win a year of free groceries.” Free groceries? No doubt this one is designed to lure in the “under-banked, lower income segment” facing a bleak Christmas, as every passing holiday season becomes more and more bleak as the American labor market is slowly but surely walmartized or sent over to the corporate slave plantation in China. “In continuing to spread the holiday cheer, Pay By Touch will also donate $10,000 dollars to The Greater Chicago Food Depository, a non-for-profit food distribution and training center aimed at ending hunger in the community.” No word if they are required to surrender biometrics at the door. Britain, Sweden, Greece, Germany, and other nations are jumping on the biometric bandwagon. It’s all the rave. It’s “tech-savvy” and cool. Even Disneyland wants your fingerprints. Scanning of fingerprints at entrance turnstiles outside of the Magic Kingdom “enhances the experience of the park,” according to Disney IT security. For now, “customers, who still have concerns about using their fingerprints, can choose to continue using a photo ID card as a form of identification,” reports ZDNet. No guarantees down the road, however, as in the near future all turnstiles will have scanners, designed to enhance the Disney experience, of course. Not scanning will de-enhance the experience, as you will likely be relegated to the end of the line. It seems the biometric folks are covering all angles. For instance, if you forget your house keys, no problem. “While locks and alarm systems have been used in the past to help protect the home from unauthorized intruders, now biometric technology is introducing the first consumer available, biometric deadbolt lock for doors that ensures authorized entry and eliminates the need for keys,” explains TMCnet. Of course, this gets the “tech-savvy consumer” prepared for biometric technology everywhere, not only at the airport but the grocery store and bank. Biometric will connect to every possible aspect of life that requires a transaction or security requirement. It’s a small step from a biometric ATM card to a subdermal microchip. James Bond aside, the idea of “getting chipped” like a Hereford heifer is scary to some people. In order to overcome this natural aversion, VeriChip Corporation has introduced the VeriMed RFID microchip “designed to provide immediate access to important health information on patients who arrive at an emergency department unconscious, delirious or unable to communicate,” according to a press released posted on Yahoo Finance. Applied Digital, the parent company of VeriChip, manufactures “unique and often proprietary products [that] provide identification and security systems for people, animals, the food supply, government/military arena, and commercial assets. Included in this diversified product line are RFID applications, end-to-end food safety systems, GPS/Satellite communications, and telecomm and security infrastructure, positioning Applied Digital as the leader in identification technology.” Seems Applied Digital is positioned to cash in on the coming electronic panopticon,”a police state characterized by omniscient surveillance and mechanical law enforcement,” as Charlie Stross characterizes it. Applied Digital, Citibank, Disney, and other corporate behemoths may attempt to sell us on biometric convenience and safety, but the eventual use of these technologies will ultimately fall in the domain of surveillance and control. “Surveillance need not even stop at our skin,” with the collection of fingerprints and iris scans, Stross notes, because “the ability to monitor our speech and track our biological signs (for example: pulse, pupillary dilation, or possibly hormone and neurotransmitter levels) may lead to attempts to monitor thoughts as well as deeds. What starts with attempts to identify paedophile predators before they strike may end with discrimination against people believed to be at risk of ‘addictive behavior’—howsoever that might be defined—or of harboring anti-social attitudes,” for instance disagreeing with the government. “A Panopticon Singularity is the logical outcome if the burgeoning technologies of the singularity are funneled into automating law enforcement. Previous police states were limited by manpower, but the panopticon singularity substitutes technology, and ultimately replaces human conscience with a brilliant but merciless prosthesis.” It will not take another forty years to realize the panopticon singularity—it is right around the corner, beginning with the Real ID Act in 2008, a biometric scheme approved by our wonderful “representatives” that will be implemented and supervised by the Orwellian Ministry of Homeland Security, a massive federal bureaucratic boondoggle created to protect us from non-existent “al-Qaeda” terrorists. It makes perfect sense Real ID was slipped into a $82 billion military spending bill. In Philip K. Dick’s short story, Minority Report, set in 2054, as realized by Steven Spielberg in his 2002 film, everyone is automatically eye-scanned and tracked in public, thus not only allowing the police state to keep tabs on every individual, but also target them for odious marketing efforts. It is a prefect marriage of corporations and the state, both fascist in character, as Mussolini described fascism as corporatism and vice versa. As 2006 winds down, we are enduring increasing efforts to sell us on the Panopticon Singularity, as envisioned by Stross, based on the work of Jeremy Bentham. Our rulers seem to have taken a page from another science fiction story, Vernor Vinge’s A Deepness in the Sky, depicting the concept of “ubiquitous law enforcement.” James Bond and his microchip may be portrayed on screen as cool and the Jacobs family of Boca Raton, Florida, may be heralded by the corporate media as the “Chipsons” (a lame take on the Jetsons), but the reality of a biometrically scanned and chipped future is almost too hellish to imagine, far worse than anything Steven Spielberg could possibly dream up. But, hey, at least you won’t have to wait in line at Disney World. Britain: Every person caught on camera about 300 times each day Police road-test hand-held fingerprint scanner AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE - November 22, 2006 -- Police in England and Wales have begun trialling hand-held electronic fingerprint readers on motorists, the latest piece of new high-tech equipment being wielded in the fight against crime. Police say the device could save vast amounts of time and resources by identifying suspects on the spot rather than taking them to a police station -- should their prints be on the national database. The scanner allows officers to search the 6.5 million fingerprints held on record and should produce a result within five minutes. Estimates suggest it could save police more than 2.2 million pounds (4.2 million dollars, 3.3 million euros) per year. The pilot scheme is being tested by traffic police in Luton, northwest of London, and is voluntary because under existing law, members of the public are not obliged to give their fingerprints at the roadside. "This trial represents an important step forward in our commitment to ensuring we have an effective and efficient police service fully equipped for the challenges of modern policing," said police minister Tony McNulty on Wednesday. "The new technology will speed up the time it takes for police to identify individuals at the roadside, enabling them to spend more time on the frontline and reducing any inconvenience for innocent members of the public." Argentine policeman Juan Vucetich is credited with making the first positive criminal fingerprint identification in 1892. The new device is the latest piece of sophisticated technology at the disposal of police officers. The Home Office interior ministry says Britain leads the world in using DNA to identify criminals, with more than 3.4 million profiles on the national DNA database, representing 5.2 percent of the population. The Police National Computer now holds extensive data on criminals, vehicles and property, accessible in seconds at more than 30,000 terminals. And police say they are world leaders in automatic number plate recognition, invented in Britain and used to track the movement of suspects and their vehicles. But a report by the Surveillance Studies Network academic group published earlier this month warned that Britain was becoming a "surveillance society" where security cameras, credit card analysis and travel movements were used to track people's lives minute by minute. There are up to 4.2 million closed-circuit television cameras -- about one for every 14 people or nearly 10 percent of those around the world. Every person is caught on camera about 300 times each day. Big Brother Britain 2006: 'We are waking up to a surveillance society all around us' THE INDEPENDENT - By Jason Bennetto, Crime Correspondent – November 2, 2006 - Britain has sleepwalked into becoming a surveillance society that increasingly intrudes into our private lives and impacts on everyday activities, the head of the information watchdog warns. New technology and "invisible" techniques are being used to gather a growing amount of information about UK citizens. The level of surveillance will grow even further in the next 10 years, which could result in a growing number of people being discriminated against and excluded from society, says a report by the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas. Future developments could include microchip implants to identify and track individuals; facial recognition cameras fitted into lampposts; and unmanned surveillance aircraft, predict the report's authors. Mr Thomas,who heads an independent body that promotes public access to official information, calls for a debate on what level of surveillance is acceptable. He said: "Two years ago I warned that we were in danger of sleepwalking into a surveillance society. Today I fear that we are in fact waking up to a surveillance society that is already all around us. "As ever more information is collected, shared and used, it intrudes into our private space and leads to decisions which directly influence people's lives. "Mistakes can also easily be made with serious consequences - false matches and other cases of mistaken identity, inaccurate facts or inferences, suspicions taken as reality, and breaches of security. "I am keen to start a debate about where the lines should be drawn. What is acceptable and what is not?" He was speaking at the launch of a report funded by the Information Commissioner's Office, which analyses current and future levels of surveillance. The study - "A Surveillance Society"- concludes that routine monitoring is increasing in most areas of life. This includes the systematic tracking and recording of travel and use of public services; automated use of CCTV; analysis of buying habits and financial transactions; and the monitoring of telephone calls, e-mail and internet use in the workplace. The major surveillance techniques include: * Video cameras monitoring buildings, shopping streets and residential areas. Automatic systems can now recognise vehicle number plates and faces. * Software that analyses spending habits and the data sold to businesses. When we call service centres or apply for loans, insurance or mortgages, how quickly we are served and what we are offered can depend on what we spend, where we live and who we are. * Electronic tags to monitor offenders on probation. * DNA taken from those arrested by the police and placed on a database. * Information stored about foreign travel. * Smart cards in schools to determine where children are, what they eat or the books they borrow. * Taps on telephones, e-mails and internet use that can screened for key words and phrases by British and US intelligence services. The Government also still plans to introduce a new system of biometric ID cards, including "biometrics" - fingerprints and iris scans - linked to a database of personal information. The group of academics who compiled the report have also predicted future trends in surveillance in the next decade. The include: * Shoppers being scanned as they enter stores. This will be matched with loyalty card data to affect how they are handled, with big spenders given preferential treatment over others. * Cars linked to global satellite navigation systems which will provide the quickest route to avoid congestion and allow police to monitor speed and to track selected cars. * Employees subjected to biometric and psychometric tests plus lifestyle profiles with diagnostic health tests common place. Jobs are refused to those who are seen as a health risk. * Schools using card systems to allow parents to monitor what their children eat, their attendance, academic and drug test results * Facial recognition systems to monitor our movements using tiny cameras in lampposts and walls, and unmanned aircraft above. David Murakami Wood, a co-author of the report carried out by the Surveillance Studies Network said: "The level of surveillance in this country should shock people - it is infiltrating everything we do. The question is whether we want that or not. Most people do not understand how the information is used - for example details obtained from supermarket loyalty cards and credit cards are bought and sold to other companies to provide complex profiles of individual customers. "It is difficult to challenge these organisations, find out what data they have on you, or to change inaccurate information." Keeping up with the Joneses ­ day in the life of one family It is London in 2006. The Jones family are returning from their holiday in Florida. In the US they were photographed and fingerprinted on arrival. At Gatwick they have their hand luggage X-rayed and hand-searched, and they are all questioned. Passports ­ one member of the family has dual nationality with Pakistan ­ are checked. Details of the flight and all other travel information is recorded. The family are seen by airport security cameras and on the courtesy bus, which drops them at the car park, which is also covered by CCTV. As the family drives out of the airport, they switch on a sat-nav system, which guides them home, but also alerts them to speed and traffic-light cameras on the way ­ which record their progress. The son uses his mobile to call a friend ­ this is logged by the telephone company and could be used by police to locate where the phone was at the time. On the way back they stop at an out-of-town mall. CCTV records them in the car park and entering the supermarket. All details of their shopping is recorded when they pay using a loyalty card. This will be used to build up a customer "profile" and can be sold on to others. The money they spend on credit cards is also monitored to check for any unusual spending patterns, which could indicate the card has been stolen. The amounts spent and whether the family keep within agreed credit levels is also monitored and will be used by the bank or building society. Later they go through the congestion charging zone ­ which they pay for via the mobile ­ and all details, including photographs of them entering central London, are recorded. At home in central London they unload under the watch of a neighbour's private CCTV system. Waiting at home is a pile of junk mail. The names and addresses of the family have been obtained from a variety of databanks. The son goes to his room to read a letter telling him his criminal records check is clear and that he has a place on a voluntary scheme. He orders a takeaway ­ his address, card details and previous orders are already held by the pizza chain. Britain under surveillance * The national DNA database holds profiles on about 3.5 million people. * There are an estimated 4.2 million CCTV cameras in Britain: one for every 14 people. * More than half of the UK population posseses a loyalty card issued by the firm that operates the Nectar scheme. * Since 2002 there have been more than 8 million criminal records checks for jobs, of which around 400,000 contained convictions or police intelligence information. * There are plans to expand capacity to read vehicle number plates from 35 million reads per day to 50 million by 2008. * Some 216 catalogue companies in the UK are signed up to the Abacus data-sharing consortium, with information on 26 million individuals. * The database of fingerprints contains nearly 6 million sets of prints. * An individual can be captured on more than 300 cameras each day. * By the end of 2002 law enforcement bodies had made more than 400,000 requests for data from mobile network operators. * The number of motorists caught by speed cameras rose from 300,000 in 1996 to over 2 million in 2004. * In the year to April 2005 some 631 adults and 5,751 juveniles were electronically tagged. Global Hawk to Fly 1st Mission Over U.S. ASSOCIATED PRESS - November 19, 2006 -- They've become a fixture in the skies over Iraq and Afghanistan, a new breed of unmanned aircraft operated with remote controls by "pilots" sitting in virtual cockpits many miles away. But the Air Force's Global Hawk has never flown a mission over the United States. That is set to change Monday, when the first Global Hawk is scheduled to land at Beale Air Force Base in northern California. "This landmark flight has historic implications since it's the first time a Global Hawk has not only flown from Beale, but anywhere in the United States on an official Air Combat Command mission," base spokesman Capt. Michael Andrews said in a statement. Beale-based pilots are flying the drones daily on combat missions in the Middle East, Andrews said. The planes are operated by four-person crews from virtual cockpits the size of shipping containers. The planes are designed to fly at high altitudes for 40 hour-missions covering as much as 10,000 miles, mostly providing aerial surveillance. The aircraft, which can cost more than $80 million each, can reach an altitude of 65,000 feet and send back high-resolution imagery. The Hawks are among a growing fleet of unmanned aircraft that also includes the missile-carrying Predators and five-pound Ravens that are small enough to be carried in soldiers' backpacks. Beale is to have seven Global Hawks by 2009. It is currently the only U.S. base with the drones. Eventually the Air Force's fleet will include 54 of the Global Hawks, but most will be based overseas. NYPD Installs "Sky Watch" In Harlem Neighborhood TIME WARNER NY1 NOW CABLE NEWS - November 22, 2006 -- The NYPD has installed a patrol tower in a Harlem neighborhood in an effort to cut crime in the high-risk neighborhood. The two-story booth tower, called Sky Watch, gives the officer sitting inside a better vantage point from which to monitor the area. Officers in the booth have access to a spotlight, sensors, and four cameras. The tower is portable and can be moved to the areas that need it most. Residents in Harlem say they like the idea, though some wonder if the appearance of Sky Watch has anything to do with the two new luxury condos built on a nearby corner. "There was crime around here before and they never had it. Now all these expensive buildings, it's true,” said one area resident. “But actually it's good though, because then I used to see a lot of crowd here and sometimes I was scared to pass here, but guess what, that doesn't happen anymore. It’s a kind of deterrence and it's good." Police say the Harlem tower was placed there to combat a rise in murders. Sky Watch has also been tested in Crown Heights in Brooklyn where it reduced crime. Police are hoping to have three more towers soon. Phoenix Airport to Test X-Ray Screening ASSOCIATED PRESS - December 1, 2006 -- PHOENIX -- Sky Harbor International Airport here will test a new federal screening system that takes X-rays of passenger's bodies to detect concealed explosives and other weapons. The technology, called backscatter, has been around for several years but has not been widely used in the U.S. as an anti-terrorism tool because of privacy concerns. The Transportation Security Administration said it has found a way to refine the machine's images so that the normally graphic pictures can be blurred in certain areas while still being effective in detecting bombs and other threats. The agency is expected to provide more information about the technology later this month but said one machine will be up and running at Sky Harbor's Terminal 4 by Christmas. The security agency's Web site indicates that the technology will be used initially as a secondary screening measure, meaning that only those passengers who first fail the standard screening process will be directed to the X-ray area. ... ID card to offer digital wallet THE AUSTRALIAN - By Ben Woodhead - November 8, 2006 -- AUSTRALIANS will have the option of storing any personal information they want on the federal Government's proposed human services smartcard under plans detailed by Human Services Minister Joe Hockey today. Mr Hockey said that up to one-third of the storage space on the access card would be available to card holders, who could use it to store information such as medical requirements or shopping lists. "We are creating a customer controlled area in the chip where individuals can store the information they want. In simple terms it makes the access card similar to a mini-iPod, where you can download minimum amounts of information onto the microchip and carry it around in your wallet or purse," Mr Hockey said. "We're using two-thirds of the capacity on the chip. The other one-third is in the hands of the individual." Mr Hockey said in a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra that the head of the federal Government's Access Card Consumer and Privacy Taskforce, Professor Allan Fels would accept submissions from the public concerning the proposal over the next month. He said that interest in using the card for the provision of services, in addition to welfare transactions, was already high and that the private sector could play a role in storing information that Australians may choose to link to their access card. "This is not the sort of information the government wants to hold," he said in a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra. However, Mr Hockey stressed that the organisations such as banks and police forces would not have powers to demand the card as a form of identification. People could, however, use the card to identify themselves, if they chose. "Our proposed legislation will prevent the card being required by a bank or other organisation as the only allowable form of identification. People may, however, choose to use the access card to assist in proof of identity at those locations," said Mr Hockey. The federal Government plans to commence the roll out of more than 16.7 million smartcard human services access cards from early 2008. Mr Hockey said the federal Government would issue around 32,000 cards, between 2008 and 2010. Hardware, software and services for the roll-out will be procured in four tranches. Industry will be briefed on the procurement process by the end of the year. "We will seek tenders to enable us to establish a panel of card suppliers. One of these suppliers will also provide card management software for the more than 16.7 million cards," Mr Hockey said. "A systems integrator will be sought to provide and install hardware and proven software that delivers the card customer system and the card operation system. "The tender process for the systems integrator is also likely to include the supply of several thousand digital cameras, printers and scanners and potentially more than 500 booths for card registration." Other tranches include a request for tender (RFT) for 15,000 smartcard terminals for Commonwealth agencies. A list of accredited transaction services providers will also be established. Mr Hockey said the government would seek off-the-shelf technology for the smartcard infrastructure. Potential services providers flying their flags at the National Press Club included IBM, Telstra and the National Australia Bank.,7204,20722319%5E15306,00.html Senators call for debate on data-mining UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL - November 16, 2006 - WASHINGTON -- Two senators have written to the director of national intelligence asking for assurances and more information about a controversial new data-mining project. "We believe there needs to be a public discussion before the implementation of any government data mining program that would rely on domestic commercial data and other information about Americans," wrote Sens. Russell Feingold, D-Wisc., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in the letter, dated Wednesday. Their letter was prompted by revelations last month about a new computer system called Tangram, capable of data-mining huge amounts of information about everyday events to discern patterns that look like terrorist planning. The technology is reminiscent of the axed Total Information Awareness program. The program is described in some detail in a procurement document posted on the Web by the U.S. Air Force, and officials have said it is being tested without using any data about Americans. The document says the system will build on previous work by U.S. intelligence agencies "developing systems, tools and algorithms to detect international terrorist activities and planned events" which have developed "methods of ... efficiently searching large data stores for evidence of known (terrorist) behaviors." But the senators said that the techniques envisaged had yet to be shown to be effective. "Pattern analysis runs the risk of generating a large number of false positives, meaning that innocent Americans could be come the subject of investigation," they wrote. Identity Thief Is Often Found in Family Photo NEW YORK TIMES - By John Leland - November 13, 2006 -- In the five years since his divorce, Eric Wagenhauser had moved on with his life. He had remarried and was sharing custody of the three children from his first marriage. Then, last year, Mr. Wagenhauser discovered a new wrinkle on American divorce: his former wife had used the children’s Social Security numbers to apply for nine credit cards in their names. She obtained two. Mr. Wagenhauser’s ordeal over the next year, which involved police departments in two Texas counties, banks, credit bureaus and the Social Security Administration, is familiar to many identity theft victims — the crime often begins at home. Though most victims never learn who stole their identities, half of those who do say the thief was a family member, a friend, a neighbor or an in-home employee, according to surveys by the Federal Trade Commission and Javelin Strategy and Research, a private research firm. The surveys estimate that 9 million to 10 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Mr. Wagenhauser’s former wife, Ivy Ash, began applying for credit cards in the children’s names soon after the divorce. She ran up about $200 in unpaid bills, he said, which grew to about $1,000 with late fees and interest penalties. She pleaded guilty to two counts of fraudulent use of a credit card this year and is now in a Texas prison.... Identity theft involving family members takes many forms, said Betsy Broder, assistant director of the Federal Trade Commission’s division of privacy and identity protection. A child steals a parent’s identity to buy drugs, one sibling steals another’s identity to try to avoid arrest or debt. Identity theft is often difficult to solve and prosecute, and, in the case of families, victims may be reluctant to report relatives to the police. The fraud went on for five years before Mr. Wagenhauser became aware of what was happening. By then, the mother’s actions had created credit histories for two of the under-age children, which Mr. Wagenhauser worries will cause them future trouble. “When my kids turn 18 and go to college, they’re not going to be able to buy a car or get a student loan because they’ve got bad credit,” Mr. Wagenhauser said. “No one’s going to rent them an apartment. They’re going to be turned down for jobs because there’s so many companies that run credit histories.” “They’re kids,” he added. “They don’t have any idea what’s going on. All the sudden they’re adults, and they’re left holding the baggage.” Suspicious parents can look out for clues that their children’s identities have been compromised, said Jay Foley, a founder and director of the Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit organization that helps victims. “Let’s say Mom and Dad are divorced, and Junior goes to stay with dad,” Mr. Foley said. “When he calls Mom, she sees the kid’s name on the caller ID instead of Dad’s. If that was set up in the kid’s name, what else was set up?” If young children start to receive applications for credit cards in the mail, it is a sign that someone with access to their Social Security numbers has applied for credit in their names, Mr. Foley said.... Identity theft by a family member or someone close to the family is probably underreported and raises thorny questions about trust, responsibility and loyalty, Ms. Broder said. “We see parents taking advantage of their children, and children taking advantage of their older parents,” she said. “We can tell consumers and businesses to be careful about how they safeguard their personal information, but it’s hard to tell people to safeguard their information from the people that they love.” For Brenda Bare, of Snellville, Ga., the identity thief was a trusted friend whom Ms. Bare, 58, had known for 22 years. The friend, a woman, had been living in Ms. Bare’s house. When Ms. Bare returned home in August after being away for a month to care for her mother, she discovered that 10 checks and a recently expired driver’s license were missing. A credit card offer in her name was in the woman’s bedroom with the application form torn off. “I said, ‘You have to leave here tonight,’ ” Ms. Bare recalled. For the next two weeks, Ms. Bare tried to repair the damage. She found helpful a checklist for identity theft victims; versions are available from the Federal Trade Commission and the Identity Theft Resource Center. Ms. Bare discovered that four checks had been cashed, for about $400 in all, and that an application had been made for a credit card, though it had not been approved. Because the crime was committed in her home by someone she trusted, Ms. Bare said she felt vulnerable. “The first two weeks I slept with the front and back porch lights on, and if I would hear a noise, I was awake,” she said. “I have a dog, but my dog knows her. But I’m feeling better about it and going on with my life.” Ms. Bare’s checks had been cashed in another county. She finally tracked down the stores and banks where the checks were cashed, and local police officers issued arrest warrants. But even after her bank cleared her of responsibility for the forged checks, she said, she was still not off the hook. “After the bank reimbursed my money, they went back to the merchant and took the money back from the merchant because the check was no good,” she said. “So the store thinks I wrote a bad check, so they come after me. I had to go prove I didn’t do this. This was a nightmare. My bank was supposed to close my checking account, but when I went back in there it was still open.” Although she canceled her credit cards and registered a fraud alert with credit bureaus, she said she was concerned that there was little preventing the thief from using her information again or selling it to someone else. “There’s still four or five checks that were never retrieved,” Ms. Bare said. “My license was never retrieved. She can sell all this information. The D.A. just said, ‘Oh, she won’t do that again.’ ” Identity theft by family members can put special pressure on the victims when there is a possibility of children, parents or former spouses going to jail or prison. Many victims pay the debts and choose not to involve the police or the courts, said Mari J. Frank, a lawyer who works with people whose identities have been stolen. “It’s such a breach of trust,” Ms. Frank said. “When someone you don’t know steals your identity, it’s very impersonal. They just want money. But when it’s a family member, it’s far more emotionally destructive.” For a Michigan couple, the problem began in August with a notice that a bank had received a credit card application in their name. The couple declined to be identified because they are hoping to resolve the matter privately. The couple immediately suspected their son, who had tried the same thing four years earlier. This time they found that he had obtained two credit cards, run up debts of more than $22,000 and applied for new cards or higher credit limits. “The explanation was that we never helped him when he wanted the money,” the father said. After much soul searching, the parents said, they did not want to see their son put in jail. They negotiated a plan for him to assume the debt on one card and resigned themselves to paying a debt of about $5,000 on the second card rather than reporting the crime to the police. “We’d make an arrangement for him to pay us, but I’m sure he wouldn’t,” the mother said. “He has a unique way of getting around anything. It doesn’t send a very good message, but putting him in jail is not going to help either. There aren’t too many good options out there. If he goes to jail, he’s not going to learn anything except to wisen him up to be street smart. What choices do we have? All our life from now on we have to watch our credit.” She blamed herself for the way her son had turned out. “I don’t know what went wrong, but in the end we have to say it’s our fault, and that is terrible to live with,” she said. “I can’t think of anything worse for a parent.” Malaysia mulls Internet laws against bloggers AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE - December 3, 2006 -- Malaysia may introduce tough Internet laws to control bloggers and prevent them from spreading "disharmony, chaos, seditious material and lies" on their websites, a report has said. Deputy Science and Technology Minister Kong Cho Ha said moves such as registering bloggers would be difficult, but accused some writers of posting controversial articles to attract readers. "We are talking about creating cyber laws to control those who misuse the Internet," Kong was quoted as saying in the Star newspaper. "We need to have stricter cyber laws to prevent these bloggers from disseminating disharmony, chaos, seditious material and lies," he said. Kong cited the posting of a photo on an opposition politician's website last month of a Muslim male and Muslim female lawmaker, reportedly showing the man in a bathrobe with the woman lying on his chest, in what appeared to be a hotel room. The photo sparked a political scandal, since the two were not married, with accusations the pair had committed the Muslim sin of khalwat, or close proximity, when two unmarried people of the opposite sex are alone in each other's company. "We want our bloggers to be responsible, to keep within the rules and not put up seditious articles that can create disharmony and chaos," said Kong. Malaysian news websites and blogs are well known for providing alternate views to mainstream news coverage. California court: websites not liable for libel in third-party postings ASSOCIATED PRESS/CANADIAN PRESS - November 20, 2006 -- SAN JOSE, Calif. - Websites that publish inflammatory information written by other parties cannot be sued for libel, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday. The ruling in favour of free online expression was a victory for a San Diego woman who was sued by two doctors for posting an allegedly libelous e-mail on two websites. Some of the Internet's biggest names, including, America Online Inc., EBay Inc., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc., took the defendant's side out of concern a ruling against her would expose them to liability. In reversing an appellate court's decision, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Communications Decency Act of 1996 provides broad immunity from defamation lawsuits for people who publish information on the Internet that was gathered from another source. "The prospect of blanket immunity for those who intentionally redistribute defamatory statements on the Internet has disturbing implications," Associate Justice Carol Corrigan wrote in the majority opinion. "Nevertheless ... statutory immunity serves to protect online freedom of expression and to encourage self-regulation, as Congress intended." Unless the U.S. Congress revises the existing law, people who claim they were defamed in an Internet posting can only seek damages from the original source of the statement, the court ruled. Reporters Without Borders lists 13 "enemies of the Internet" AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE - November 6, 2006 -- The campaigning group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Monday listed 13 countries it labelled as "enemies of the Internet" ahead of a 24 hour campaign in favour of free access to the web. The 13 countries are: Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Myanmar, China, North Korea, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Uzbekistan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan and Vietnam. Three countries were removed from RSF's 2005 list -- Libya, the Maldives and Nepal. However the inclusion of Egypt was because "President Hosni Mubarak is displaying an authoritarianism towards the Internet that is particularly worrying," RSF said -- noting the recent imprisonment of three pro-democracy bloggers. From Tuesday at 10H00 GMT RSF is asking the public to register on its Internet site in "defense of on-line free expression and the fate of bloggers in repressive countries." Police Decry Web Site on Informants ASSOCIATED PRESS - By Matt Apuzzo - November 30, 2006 -- WASHINGTON -- Police and prosecutors are worried that a Web site claiming to identify more than 4,000 informants and undercover agents will cripple investigations and hang targets on witnesses. The Web site,, first caught the attention of authorities after a Massachusetts man put it online and named a few dozen people as turncoats in 2004. Since then, it has grown into a clearinghouse for mug shots, court papers and rumors. Federal prosecutors say the site was set up to encourage violence, and federal judges around the country were recently warned that witnesses in their courtrooms may be profiled online. "My concern is making sure cooperators are adequately protected from retaliation," said Chief Judge Thomas Hogan, who alerted other judges in Washington's federal courthouse. He said he learned about the site from a federal judge in Maine. The Web site is the latest unabashedly public effort to identify witnesses or discourage helping police. "Stop Snitching" T-shirts have been sold in cities around the country and popular hip-hop lyrics disparage or threaten people who help police.... The site offers biographical information about people whom users identify as witnesses or undercover agents. Users can post court documents, comments and pictures. Some of those listed are well known, such as former Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland, who served 10 months in prison before testifying in a public corruption case. But many never made headlines and were identified as having helped investigators in drug cases. ... Google to beat TV in race for ad revenues FINACIAL TIMES of LONDON - By Carlos Grande and Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in London and Richard Waters in San Francisco – November 1, 2006 -- Google is poised to overtake Britain’s main TV channels in the race for advertising revenue, underlining the internet’s challenge to traditional media.The internet search company’s advertising revenue in the UK is expected this year to surpass Channel 4’s anticipated 2006 take of £800m. Within 18 months, it is forecast to overtake ITV1, Britain’s leading commercial TV channel and the country’s biggest single recipient of advertising revenue, according to Mindshare and Initiative, two top media buying groups.Carat, another media buyer, believes the milestone could be passed as early as next year….Media forecasters called Google’s rise “astonishing”. They stressed that their predictions depended on it maintaining its historic rapid growth in a more competitive UK internet market….Andy Duncan, chief executive of Channel 4…. described the changes in advertising spend as a “structural change”. “People need to wake up and realise that this is not just a cyclical issue.”Google’s rapid rise contrasts markedly with the struggles of ITV1, which is expected to decline in revenues by 12 per cent this year because of a fall in audience numbers that has encouraged businesses to spend less on advertising on the channel.A Google spokesman said the company’s growth was not a “zero sum game” which had to come at the expense of television. I Feel Lucky: Search Engine + Hypocrite = Google Google no-show for Veterans Day Search engine celebrates Persian New Year, but skips tribute to U.S. soldiers 8 years running WORLDNETDAILY - November 11, 2006 -- WASHINGTON – The dominant search engine in the world marks special occasions including Halloween, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday, the Persian New Year, the birthday of Percival Lowell, the Lunar New Year, the 250th birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Louis Braille's birthday – all celebrated already this year with special graphics and colors. But for the 8th year in a row, Google has made no effort to commemorate any holiday honoring U.S. veterans or war dead – no tributes to Veterans Day or Memorial Day. Google's holiday signature is a dressed-up corporate logo for major holidays and lesser-known occasions alike. Besides overlooking Veterans Day and Memorial Day since the company's inception in 1999, it has also ignored Christmas and Easter. Google has been criticized for its one-sided political contributions and content policies: Rejecting an ad for a book critical of Bill and Hillary Clinton while continuing to accept anti-Bush themesRejecting ads critical of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., while continuing to run attack ads against besieged House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.Allowing the communist Chinese government to have the search engine block "objectionable" search terms such as "democracy." In addition, the company came under fire for an editorial decision giving preferential placement to large, elite media outlets such as CNN and the BBC over independent news sources, such as WND, even if they are more recent, pertinent and exhaustive in their coverage. As WND reported, 98 percent of all political donations by Google employees went to support Democrats, and as a matter of fact, Al Gore is now a senior adviser to Google. Google CEO Eric Schmidt gave the maximum legal limit of donations to Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry and to primary candidate Howard Dean. Schmidt also contributed the maximum amount to Sen. Clinton. U.S. fears inside job at airports British bombers had Muslim plant at Heathrow to test security WORLDNETDAILY - October 21, 2006 -- U.S. authorities are stepping up security checks on airport personnel after learning that one of the suspects in the transatlantic sky terror plot helped terrorists case security at London's Heathrow airport as an airport employee. Asmin Amin Tariq, a Muslim convert of Asian descent, was a security guard at Heathrow, where the explosives allegedly were to have been carried onto planes bound for the U.S. After Tariq's arrest, his employer, Jet Airways, suspended him. Jet Airways is the leading private airline in India. He previously worked for G4S, earlier called Securicor, which provided services to British Airways, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways. Investigators say 23-year-old Tariq, who studied biochemistry, allegedly provided information about airport security procedures to bombers in the foiled plot. It's not clear if he also planned to hand off explosives materials to them in the sterile area of the airport, or perhaps plant them on board targeted aircraft. Tariq holds a British passport, investigators say. "This is precisely why you don't want so many Muslims working in airports," says former FAA special agent Steve Elson, who tested airport security as a member of the elite Red Team. For the first time, the Transportation Security Administration is now subjecting U.S. airport workers – including ramp workers, baggage handlers, gate agents, cleaning crews and retail workers – to random security searches before they enter restricted and secure areas in the airports. Until now, only two of the nations 428 commercial airports screened ramp workers for weapons and bombs, according to Charles G. Slepian, a former TWA security analyst who now heads the Foreseeable Risk Analysis Center in New York. With the exception of ramp workers at the major Miami and Denver airports, "they don't go through any screening process," Slepian said. The vast majority of ramp workers – along with their lunch pails and backpacks – have not been searched, he stresses. Airlines trust they aren't a threat because they've "passed" a 10-year criminal background check, he says. Trouble is, ramp workers more often than not are issued a Security Identification Display Area pass long before their fingerprints are processed, Slepian points out. That SIDA badge, along with door security access cards or pass codes, allow them to bypass the passenger screening process at the front of the terminal and go through locked doors in the back of the terminal – gaining largely unsupervised access to baggage, cargo and planes. The background checks "can take months and months, so they're walking around with a card" in the meantime, he said. "That's why so many of these airport employees are arrested so long after the fact, and are continuing to be arrested in sweeps by the Justice Department. When the information finally does come back, they see they've got somebody out there (on the ramp) that has a felony and lied on his application, or has a warrant out, or is in the country illegally." Slepian says ramp workers actually warrant more security screening than passengers. And he should know, having coordinated numerous undercover stings on suspected criminals on the TWA ramp at JFK International Airport in New York. "Take a group of ramp workers at random, and take a group of passengers at random, and I bet you're going to find there's more reason to search those workers after you look into their backgrounds than you would if you checked the passengers' backgrounds," he said. "Yet when we talk about searching passengers, we say no exceptions – you can be 90 years old and we are going to check you thoroughly," he added. "When we talk about employees at the airport, however, we call them the 'trusted worker program.' " What's more, many airport workers are foreign nationals from the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan. Some even work for security firms that contract with TSA to check tickets and IDs of passengers before they enter official TSA security screening checkpoints. "There is no requirement that you be a U.S. citizen to work in an airport, unless you are a federal screener," Slepian said. Authorities recently cracked down on a number of illegal Arab and African nationals working at Dulles International Airport in Washington, where the plane that crashed into the Pentagon departed. Some had ties to terrorism cases. Before 9/11, more than 80 percent of the checkpoint screeners at Dulles airport were foreign nationals mostly from the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan. Many working even the TSA security checkpoints at San Francisco International Airport – even now, under new federal rules – are not U.S. citizens, Slepian contends. Fast-food and other retail workers also are not screened with passengers before entering the sterile area of airports, according to Slepian. That badge you see Burger King and other airport food-court workers wearing is the same SIDA badge worn by ramp workers. And any airport worker with a SIDA badge gets to bypass screening, he says. Though food-service and shop workers enter the airport through security checkpoints at the front of the terminal, they normally avoid screening. Same goes for the belongings they bring with them to work. "The TSA security people just wave them through. They don't go through the actual check," Slepian said. "You won't see them standing in line with you when you're in an airport." Yet they could easily hand off explosives or weapons to passengers once they enter the sterile area. Additionally, food-service and shop workers in airports are not subject to the same 10-year FBI criminal background check as ramp workers. "Food chains are supposed to do a background check that goes back only five years, which is really meaningless," Slepian said. "But there's no 10-year FBI background check." Airline contractors and vendors, including food caterers, also avoid the 10-year FBI check, he notes. What's more, airline cleaning crews are not screened for weapons and bombs like passengers. TSA has asked only that airlines make sure a supervisor does a final walk-through of the plane after crews leave, checking for planted weapons or bombs, Slepian says, adding he doubts any cleaning vendors would know how to identify C-4 plastic explosives if they found them. He says flight attendants also are not trained to sweep the planes for such items and focus instead on restocking pillows and blankets and safety instructions in the cabin. Slepian points out that cleaning crews service planes between flights, not just late at night. And he says there are almost too many places to hide a bomb in the cabin alone to check for them after each cleaning. His solution: Screen all workers and their supplies before they can get near the airplane. Under existing security rules, "they can put a bomb on board the airplane in a seat back, or in the lavatory in the overhead just by popping the tile and putting it in the ceiling, or in any of the storage areas in the airplane, preferably somewhere near the wing or the fuel tanks, and blow up the airplane," he warned. Another ideal place: the empty pouch underneath your seat, where your life vest is supposed to be stored, but usually isn't. Many of the vests have been taken by workers for their kids to use at pools, he said. Al-Qaida terrorist Ramzi Yousef hid a bomb this way aboard a Philippines Airlines flight, killing an unlucky Japanese passenger who sat above it. Occasionally, bomb-sniffing dogs are brought on board planes to search for bombs in the cabin. But such searches are usually done only on high-risk international flights to the Middle East. Food caterers also have unfettered access to planes, allowing yet another means for bombs to get on your flight, Slepian says. "There's still plenty of food that's being offered on airplanes, particularly on international flights," he said. "And now, some carriers are selling food on shorter flights." He says terrorists – who have brought explosives on board more than 100 flights around the world since the 1950s (including the shoe bomb of al-Qaida agent Richard Reid) – have devised what's called the "hamburger bomb," which is Semtex or C-4 in the shape of a burger or chicken patty. "They put it on meals, and at 30,000 feet it blows up the airplane," he said. Short of food, they can sneak explosives on board with the beverage supply, which also is catered. The largest airline food-and-beverage caterer is LSG Sky Chefs, which employs numerous immigrants from the Middle East and in the recent past has employed some suspected al-Qaida terrorists. Florida Man Develops GPS Shoes WKMG TV-6 CENTRAL FLORIDA / ORLANDO - January 2, 2007 -- MIAMI -- Global Positioning System technology is turning up in more and more devices, like watches and cellphones. But a Miami company has used the technology to develop shoes that can be located anywhere in the world. The shoes' developer Sayo Isaac Daniel said people can forget to carry their phones, but they can't leave the house without their shoes. The design allows wearers to press a hidden button to send a distress signal. The Quantum Satellite Technology shoes are planned to hit stores in March at a price of $325 to $350. … Homeowners up in arms: U.S. military frequency jams hundreds of garage doors ASSOCIATED PRESS - By Robert Weller - December 3, 2006 -- DENVER -- What do remote-control garage door openers have to do with national security? A lot, it seems. A secretive U.S. air force facility in Colorado Springs, Colo., tested a radio frequency this past week that it would use to communicate with first responders in the event of a homeland security threat. But the frequency also controls an estimated 50 million garage door openers, and hundreds of residents in the surrounding area found their garage doors had suddenly stopped working. "It would have been nice not to have to get out of the car and open the door manually," said Dewey Rinehard, pointing out that the outage happened during the first cold snap of the year when temperatures fell well below freezing. Capt. Tracy Giles of the 21st Space Wing said air force officials were trying to figure out how to resolve the problem of their signal overpowering garage door remotes. "They (military officials) have turned it off to be good neighbours," he said. The signals were coming from Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, home to the North American Aerospace Defence Command, a joint U.S. and Canadian operation set up during the Cold War to monitor Soviet missile and bomber threats. ... FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.