“Am I your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” Gal. 4:16
PT Shamrock's July 2018 Newsletter
PT Shamrock's July 2018 Newsletter
"Freedom is never an achieved state; like electricity, we've got to keep generating it or the lights go out." - Wayne LaPierre
In this issue:
* Welcome To Freedumbville USSA! * Bend Over! * Food for thought * The District of Criminals * Police State * Red Hot Product! * Advisory * Bitcoin's skyrocketing growth was 'fraud and manipulation' * Shamrock's Missive * Letters To The Editor * Quote of the month!
*** Welcome To Freedumbville USSA!
Your Phone Is Listening and it's Not Paranoia
Here's how I got to bottom of the ads-coinciding-with-conversations mystery.
A couple years ago, something strange happened. A friend and I were sitting at a bar, iPhones in pockets, discussing our recent trips in Japan and how we'd like to go back. The very next day, we both received pop-up ads on Facebook about cheap return flights to Tokyo. It seemed like just a spooky coincidence, but then everyone seems to have a story about their smartphone listening to them. So is this just paranoia, or are our smartphones actually listening?
According to Dr. Peter Hannay—The senior security consultant for cybersecurity firm Asterisk, and former lecturer and researcher at Edith Cowan University—the short answer is yes, but perhaps in a way that's not as diabolical as it sounds.
For your smartphone to actually pay attention and record your conversation, there needs to be a trigger, such as when you say "hey Siri" or "okay Google." In the absence of these triggers, any data you provide is only processed within your own phone. This might not seem a cause for alarm, but any third party applications you have on your phone—like Facebook for example—still have access to this "non-triggered" data. And whether or not they use this data is really up to them.
Whispering some sweet nothings to my phone
"From time to time, snippets of audio do go back to [other apps like Facebook's] servers but there's no official understanding what the triggers for that are," explains Peter. "Whether it's timing or location-based or usage of certain functions, [apps] are certainly pulling those microphone permissions and using those periodically. All the internals of the applications send this data in encrypted form, so it's very difficult to define the exact trigger."
He goes on to explain that apps like Facebook or Instagram could have thousands of triggers. An ordinary conversation with a friend about needing a new pair of jeans could be enough to activate it. Although, the key word here is "could," because although the technology is there, companies like Facebook vehemently deny listening to our conversations.
"Seeing Google are open about it, I would personally assume the other companies are doing the same." Peter tells me. "Really, there's no reason they wouldn't be. It makes good sense from a marketing standpoint, and their end-use agreements and the law both allow it, so I would assume they're doing it, but there's no way to be sure."
With this in mind, I decided to try an experiment. Twice a day for five days, I tried saying a bunch of phrases that could theoretically be used as triggers. Phrases like I'm thinking about going back to uni and I need some cheap shirts for work. Then I carefully monitored the sponsored posts on Facebook for any changes.
I'd never seen this ad for "quality clothing" until I told my phone I needed shirts
The changes came literally overnight. Suddenly I was being told mid-semester courses at various universities, and how certain brands were offering cheap clothing. A private conversation with a friend about how I'd run out of data led to an ad about cheap 20 GB data plans. And although they were all good deals, the whole thing was eye-opening and utterly terrifying.
Peter told me that although no data is guaranteed to be safe for perpetuity, he assured me that in 2018 no company is selling their data directly to advertisers. But as we all know, advertisers don't need our data for us to see their ads.
"Rather than saying here's a list of people who followed your demographic, they say Why don't you give me some money, and I'll make that demographic or those who are interested in this will see it. If they let that information out into the wild, they'll lose that exclusive access to it, so they're going to try to keep it as secret as possible.
Peter went on to say that just because tech companies value our data, it doesn't keep it safe from governmental agencies. As most tech companies are based in the US, the NSA or perhaps the CIA can potentially have your information disclosed to them, whether it's legal in your home country or not.
So yes, our phones are listening to us and anything we say around our phones could potentially be used against us. But, according to Peter at least, it's not something most people should be scared of.
Because unless you're a journalist, a lawyer, or have some kind of role with sensitive information, the access of your data is only really going to advertisers. If you're like everyone else, living a really normal life, and talking to your friends about flying to Japan, then it's really not that different to advertisers looking at your browsing history.
"It's just an extension from what advertising used to be on television," says Peter. Only instead of prime time audiences, they're now tracking web-browsing habits. It's not ideal, but I don't think it poses an immediate threat to most people." = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
*** Bend Over!
Police Use of Facial Recognition With License Databases Spur Privacy Concerns
Thirty-one states now allow law-enforcement officials to access license photos to help identify potential suspects - Zusha Elinson
Police in the small Maryland city of Hagerstown used a cutting edge, facial recognition program last week to track down a robbery suspect, marking one of the first such instances of the tactic to be made public.
In the process of identifying a possible suspect, investigators said they fed an Instagram photo into the state's vast facial recognition system, which quickly spit out the driver's license photo of an individual who was then arrested.
This digital-age crime-solving technique is at the center of a debate between privacy advocates and law-enforcement officials: Should police be able to use facial recognition software to search troves of driver's license photos, many of which are images of people who have never been convicted of a crime?
An increasing number of police departments across the country are running images through driver's license databases in their investigations. But the Hagerstown case is one of the few resulting in an arrest that has become public, experts in the field say.
Thirty-one states now allow police to access driver's license photos in facial-recognition searches in addition to mug shots, according to the Center on Privacy and Technology at the Georgetown University Law Center. Roughly one in every two American adults—117 million people—are in the facial-recognition networks used by law enforcement, according to a 2016 report by the center.
Civil liberties advocates say that giving police unfettered access to photos of people who have committed no crimes infringes on those civilians' privacy.
"People provide their photo for a driver's license database so they can drive," said Jennifer Lynch, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit privacy organization. "They should not become suspects in a criminal investigation."
Law-enforcement officials who advocate for using facial recognition searches of driver's license photos argue that it is a valuable tool for finding potential suspects who have no criminal past.
"This is no different than if I laid out all those photos in front of me…and said ‘No, that doesn't look like him, that doesn't look like him, here we go, that's him,' " said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri of Pinellas County, Fla. "The only thing is I am doing it in a different way, a more automated way, a more efficient way."
Sheriff Gualtieri, who launched a facial recognition system in 2001 that is now used by police around Florida, said that it isn't uncommon for investigators to get a match on a driver's license photo in his state.
In New York City, police say they want to get access to driver's license photos in their facial-recognition searches, which are currently limited to mug shots, but have faced opposition from privacy advocates.
In Maryland, police use what they call the Maryland Image Repository System to compare images with more than 7 million driver's license photos and more than 3 million mug shots.
In a December report, Stephen Moyer, Maryland Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services, assured state lawmakers that people's privacy was being protected.
With the technique now being more widely used across the U.S., Ms. Lynch, of the EFF, said there should be more checks and balances because of the risk of mis-identifying suspects using facial recognition software, which is less accurate with darker faces, according to a recent MIT Media Lab study.
In the Hagerstown case, Raven Dennis reported that a former co-worker came to her apartment and allegedly stole her iPhone 8 and $650, according to the police department's probable cause statement. When she chased after him, the man threatened her with a handgun, she said.
Ms. Dennis told police that she only knew the man's first name, Aamir, but the two had been in touch on social media, so she sent two Instagram photos to investigators. When a detective ran a screenshot through the state's facial recognition system, the first image that came back was a Motor Vehicle Administration photo of Aamir Watson-Jones, according to the probable cause statement.
Mr. Watson-Jones was arrested and charged with armed robbery, robbery, theft, and a handgun violation. He has yet to enter a plea.
An attorney for Mr. Watson-Jones and the Hagerstown detective on the case didn't return calls seeking comment.
Joseph Michael, deputy state's attorney in Washington County, Md., where the case unfolded, said facial recognition is useful for police, but it can't be the sole source of identifying a suspect. "You still need a positive identification, as happened in this case," he said.
Mr. Michael said he understands the privacy concerns, but noted that "the expectation of privacy ends when you sit down and smile at the government desk." = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Food for thought
If you are one of our many American readers, this banking information might be right up your alley!
10 best online banks that give you more for your money - Mark Jones
Have you noticed how fees are turning up on pretty much everything in life? If you make a purchase or use a service, read the fine print and you're sure to find an unsuspected fee
Take airlines, for example. Some are now charging fees not only for checked luggage but also for carry on bags. You might even have to pay extra to get that window or aisle seat you're looking for.
Then check out your cable or satellite bill. You're not just paying for the package that you've selected...no. You're also being charged for things like whole-home DVR service, each receiver in your home, broadcast fee, and more. No wonder millions of people are choosing to cut the cord.
Even banks are charging fees on things you wouldn't expect these days. Some charge you a fee if you don't meet a minimum balance requirement. There are also monthly or annual maintenance fees, ATM usage fees, paper statement fees, and on and on and on.
That's why it's a good idea to check out some non-traditional banks if you're looking to save money. Did you know there are online banks that offer lower fees and higher interest rates? It's true. Keep reading and I'll tell you about 10 of the best online banking options.
Why online banks can offer better deals Think about all the overhead costs that come with a traditional bank. They have to pay for the building to operate from, tellers and employees at each branch, etc.
Online banks don't have to pay for all those costs. That's how they can offer better deals on fees and interest rates. Customers reap the rewards of no overhead costs when companies pass those savings along.
Here are 10 of the best online banks:
Ally Bank - https://www.ally.com/ Ally is an online bank that passes the savings of less overhead onto its customers. You get the benefit of rates that are consistently competitive, so you're able to make savings work harder for you.
Right now if you bank with Ally, you will earn 1.60 percent annual percentage yield (APY) in your online savings account. It even offers interest on checking accounts. You will get 0.10 percent APY for checking accounts with a balance under $15,000 and 0.60 percent APY for checking accounts with a $15,000 minimum daily balance.
Here are some more features you get with an Ally checking account:
* No monthly maintenance fees * 24/7 live customer care - speak with a real person * Use any Allpoint® ATM in the U.S. for free, plus Ally will reimburse up to $10 per statement * cycle for fees charged at other ATMs nationwide * Deposit checks remotely with Ally eCheck Deposit * EMV chip technology * Your deposits with Ally are insured by the FDIC up to the maximum allowed by law. Also, your information is protected with 2-step authentication.
Note: All of the online banks discussed in this article are insured by the FDIC. So don't worry, your money is as secure as if it were in a traditional bank.
Aspiration - https://www.aspiration.com/ With an Aspiration Summit checking account, you can earn up to 1.00 APY. There are no monthly service fees, no minimum monthly balance requirement, and no minimum monthly deposit requirement.
You can earn 0.25 percent APY on balances up to $2,499.99. Balances of $2,500 or more can earn 1.00 percent APY. There are also no ATM fees. You can use any ATM in the country.
SavingPurely: This saving account is currently offering 130 percent APY with zero monthly fees and maintenance charges. There is also no minimum balance requirement and comes with a complimentary ATM card and surcharge-free use of more than 55,000 ATMs worldwide.
CheckingPurely: This checking account is currently offering 0.75 percent APY with no monthly fees or maintenance charges. There is no minimum balance required and it comes with a complimentary MasterCard iGOdebitcard and surcharge-free use of more than 55,000 ATMs worldwide.
Bank of Internet USA - https://www.bankofinternet.com/ Bank of Internet USA offers several no fee checking accounts. Many of which you also earn interest on your balance. Here's an overview of a couple popular choices:
Rewards checking: Is designed for heavy debit card users who fund their account by direct deposit. You can earn up to 1.25 percent APY and there are no monthly maintenance or service fees and no minimum monthly account balance requirements. You also receive unlimited reimbursement of any and all domestic ATM fees.
CashBack checking: Earn cash back every time you use your Bank of Internet USA Visa debit card. With CashBack checking, you'll earn up to 1.00 percent cash back on your signature-based transactions, plus you'll enjoy easy online access to your checking account while paying no annual fees or monthly maintenance fees. It also comes with unlimited domestic ATM reimbursements, free online bill pay, mobile deposit and more.
Essential checking: This in non-interest bearing but ideal for those who want a fee free account with no minimums or requirements. It comes with a suite of free online banking tools that include online bill pay, mobile banking apps, mobile deposit, and MyDeposit remote deposit capture.
Online savings: The current APY for Barclays' savings accounts is 1.65 percent. There is no minimum balance to open an account and no monthly maintenance fees. You have secure, 24/7 online access to your funds and can easily make online transfers to and from other banks.
Online CDs: A 60-month CD with Barclays online has an APY of 2.80 percent. There is no minimum balance requirement and no hidden fees. The 12-month CD APY is 2.20 percent, which is very competitive
Redneck Bank - https://redneck.bank/ Now don't let the name scare you away. Redneck Bank tries making the banking experience fun for its clients with witty jokes throughout its site. Even if that's not your thing, it does offer some pretty great rates on checking accounts that you might not want to pass up.
You can earn up to 2.25 percent APY when you have up to $10,000 in your Redneck Rewards checking, or checkin' account as it's referred to on the site Amounts over $10,000 will earn 0.50 percent APY. If requirements are not met you'll earn 0.25 percent APY.
There's no minimum balance required, and it includes a Redneck Bank VISA debit card for secure purchases and ATMs worldwide.
Dollar Savings Direct - https://www.dollarsavingsdirect.com/ Dollar Savings Direct is a division of Emigrant Bank and offers a high interest savings account. The APY is currently 1.80 percent.
There are no hidden costs, fees or service charges. When you open an account, Dollar Savings Direct automatically links up with your designated checking account, allowing you the flexibility to make deposits or withdraw funds by transferring money online.
eOne savings: With this savings account you can earn 1.85 percent APY on daily balances up to $1,000,000 with no commitment and can be opened in minutes with just a $100 deposit. There is no minimum balance requirement and no monthly fees.
eOne checking: You can earn 0.25 percent APY with this checking account on daily balances up to $1,000,000. It has no monthly fee, free ATM usage with up to $15 per statement cycle reimbursement of fees charged by other banks. There's no minimum balance and you also get cash back on all your non pin-based purchases with your debit card.
Northpointe Credit Union - https://www.northpointe.com/ Credit unions all across the country offer very competitive rates. Northpoint Credit Union based in Michigan is no exception. The good news is you don't have to live in Michigan to open an account. You can open an account online and take advantage of its high-interest bearing savings account.
Ultimate savings: The Ultimate savings account pays one of the highest savings account rates in the U.S. Its current APY is 2.05 percent and there is no minimum required to open an account.
Discover online banking - https://www.discover.com/online-banking/ Discover online banking's slogan is, "Everything you want from a bank, without ever setting foot in one." Which makes sense because it offers cash back checking, online savings accounts, money market accounts, CDs, and IRA CDs.
Cash back checking: You can earn up to 1 percent cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month. There are no monthly fees or monthly balance requirements and over 60,000 no-fee ATMs across the U.S. It also comes with no-fee online bill pay, no-fee check reorder, and many other features you might want to check out.
Online savings account: The current APY on this savings account is 1.60 percent. There is no minimum opening deposit requirement, no monthly balance requirements and no monthly fees. = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
*** The District of Criminals
Intelligence Community Wants to Use DNA to Store Exabytes of Data - Jack Corrigan,
The IC is exploring whether polymers could be the future of data storage.
The U.S. intelligence community wants to unlock more efficient ways to store the trove of data humans generate every day, and it believes our DNA could hold the key.
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity last month issued a broad agency announcement seeking research teams for the agency's Molecular Information Storage program, which aims to create a system for storing vast quantities of data on sequence-controlled polymers, like human DNA.
Selected teams would have two primary tasks over the four-year initiative: build a table-top device that writes data onto polymers and another that reads the information once it's stored. Teams must also develop an operating system to index, access and search data within the network.
By the program's end, the system must be able to write one terabyte and read 10 terabytes per day, and "present a clear and commercially viable path to future deployment at the exabyte scale" within 10 years, according to IARPA.
As a comparison, one exabyte is about 4 million times larger than the storage capacity of the top iPhone X model.
Today, exabyte-scale data centers take up huge tracts of land and can cost billions to build and operate in the long run, an infrastructure IARPA argues will no longer be feasible in the years to come. By 2020, the tech firm Domo estimates there will be more than 140 gigabytes of data generated daily for each human on Earth, and as the internet of things expands, that number is only expected to grow.
"This resource intensive model does not offer a tractable path to scaling beyond the exabyte regime in the future," IARPA wrote. "Faced with exponential data growth, large data consumers may soon face a choice between investing exponentially more resources in storage or discarding an exponentially increasing fraction of data."
During a proposers day presentation in February, the agency outlined its vision for an exabyte-scale storage unit that could be housed in a single room and cost less than $1 million to run per year. Though scientists have yet to build a system anywhere close to that scale, multiple studies have shown sequence-controlled polymers are capable of virtually error-free data storage, according to IARPA.
Researchers estimate DNA and similar polymers can store information more than 100,000 times more efficiently than traditional data storage technology, and polymers' stable molecular structure allows them to last hundreds of years without losing or corrupting information. More efficient data storage technology could also help researchers gain increased insights from today's state-of-the-art supercomputers.
Groups hoping to join the program must submit proposals by July 16. = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
*** Police State
TSA search of elderly woman sparks outrage The 96-year-old endured a six minute pat down. - Janine Puhak
Many are livid over a now-viral video of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials patting down a 96-year-old woman in a wheelchair at Washington Dulles International Airport in a six-minute screening being described as "totally disgusting" and "uncalled for" on Facebook.
On May 15, Jeanne LaBrier Clarkson shared the six-minute clip to the social network of her nonagenarian mother, Evelyn LaBrier, being screened in her wheelchair by two female TSA security agents at the Virginia airport. Clarkson, LaBrier and Clarkson's fiancé were traveling home to Anderson, Indiana after visiting Clarkson's son in Maryland, CBS News reports.
"The 3 of us were all in wheelchairs. Only my 96 year old mother was subjected to this prolonged, repetitive search," Clarkson captioned the clip, which has since been viewed nearly 9 million times and has sparked heated debate.
In the footage, the two TSA staffers politely explain the search to LaBrier as they screen her, asking her to remove her windbreaker before giving her a full pat down from her hair to her sneakers, asking her to redistribute her weight at one point so that an officer can inspect underneath her.
"What the hell do you think she's going to do? Set off a shoe bomb?" Clarkson can be heard exclaiming in the background of the encounter, which has left her furious.
"I am my mother's legal guardian and responsible for her well-being. I went through security. When I saw that they had pulled Mother aside to search her. I tried asking why. They ignored me," Clarkson recalled, the Washington Post reports. "That upset me so I began videoing what they were doing to document my complaint that I intended to file."
"I have traveled extensively and never seen anything like this. Mother had traveled with me before and never been groped like that!" she added.
Though LaBrier successfully passed the screening, the incident has drawn mixed reactions from commentators on Facebook as to why it had to happen in the first place.
Critics have described the TSA's search of LaBrier as "totally disgusting," "horrible", "unbelievable" and "uncalled for," while supporters of the search say that the agents were simply following policy.
"No offense to anyone but people use the elderly to smuggle stuff and just because you say your in a wheelchair doesn't make you not able to smuggle stuff that is illegal," one detractor clapped.
"The woman is merely doing her job. Is it both annoying and inconvenient? Absolutely but she did nothing wrong. She was gentle and respectful. She even talked her through each step of the process. I'm sure she felt badly about having to do it," another agreed.
Soon after, the airport took to Facebook to clarify that it was the TSA's decision alone to screen the 96-year-old ahead of her flight.
"Many of you have reached out to us to express concern over a video of a security screening taking place at Dulles International Airport. Security screening at our checkpoints is directed and conducted by the TSA," they posted. "We have shared customer comments with the TSA for their immediate review and appropriate action."
Though the TSA did not immediately return Fox News' request for comment, they did offer CBS the following statement on the story:
"TSA is committed to ensuring the security of travelers, while treating all passengers with dignity and respect. In this instance, the TSA officer provided advisements during the pat-down and was extremely polite. The passenger was very cooperative and gave no indication that she was agitated or in discomfort. She received a pat-down and was cleared for her flight," a representative said.
As for the LaBrier family, their United flight was unfortunately canceled due to weather. With no hotels available, the party of three was forced to spend the night at the airport, Clarkson wrote on Facebook.
The TSA's website features the following information on general security screenings:
"Pat-down procedures are used to determine whether prohibited items or other threats to transportation security are concealed on the person. You may be required to undergo a pat-down procedure if the screening technology alarms, as part of unpredictable security measures, for enhanced screening, or as an alternative to other types of screening, such as advanced imaging technology screening" the TSA's web page on security screenings states. "Even passengers who normally receive expedited screening may at times receive a pat-down." = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Red Hot Product!
Do you realize that 46% of the US and EU population don't have $/E 500 in savings for an emergency? It gets worse by retirement age. That's a sad but true fact.
Don't allow that to happen to you! Acquire an existing 10 year ongoing privacy web site. Includes all business contacts and sources for bank accounts, company creation, passports, merchants accounts, excellent web search placement and much more on the cheap. For serious persons only, email the leprechaun and place "Privacy Site" in your subject heading. = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Apple to undercut popular law-enforcement tool for cracking iPhones - Joseph Menn, Reuters
San Francisco - Apple Inc (AAPL.O) said recently it will change its iPhone settings to undercut the most popular means for law enforcement to break into the devices.
The company told Reuters it was aiming to protect all customers, especially in countries where phones are readily obtained by police or by criminals with extensive resources, and to head off further spread of the attack technique.
The privacy standard-bearer of the tech industry said it will change default settings in the iPhone operating system to cut off communication through the USB port when the phone has not been unlocked in the past hour.
That port is how machines made by forensic companies GrayShift, Cellebrite and others connect and get around the security provisions that limit how many password guesses can be made before the device freezes them out or erases data. Now they will be unable to run code on the devices after the hour is up.
These companies have marketed their machines to law enforcement in multiple countries this year, offering the machines themselves for thousands of dollars but also per-phone pricing as low as $50.
Apple representatives said the change in settings will protect customers in countries where law enforcement seizes and tries to crack phones with fewer legal restrictions than under U.S. law. They also noted that criminals, spies and unscrupulous people often use the same techniques. Even some of the methods most prized by intelligence agencies have been leaked on the internet.
"We're constantly strengthening the security protections in every Apple product to help customers defend against hackers, identity thieves and intrusions into their personal data," Apple said in a prepared statement. "We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don't design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs."
AAPL.O Apple began working on the USB issue before learning it was a favorite of law enforcement.
The setting switch had been documented in beta versions of iOS 11.4.1 and iOS12, and Apple told Reuters it will be made permanent in a forthcoming general release.
Apple said that after it learned of the techniques, it reviewed the iPhone operating system code and improved security. It decided to simply alter the setting, a cruder way of preventing most of the potential access by unfriendly parties.
With the changes, police or hackers will typically have an hour or less to get a phone to a cracking machine. That could cut access by as much as 90 percent, security researchers estimated.
This also could spur sales of cracking devices, as law enforcement looks to get more forensic machines closer to where seizures occur. Undoubtedly, researchers and police vendors will find new ways to break into phones, and Apple will then look to patch those vulnerabilities.
The setting change could also draw criticism from U.S. law enforcement officials who have been engaged in an on-again, off-again campaign for legislation or other ways to force technology companies to maintain access to users' communications.
Apple has been the most prominent opponent of those demands. In 2016, it went to court to fight an order that it break into an iPhone 5c used by a killer in San Bernardino.
Then-FBI Director James Comey told Congress that without compelling Apple to write new software to facilitate the digital break-in, there would be no way to learn if the shooter's device contained evidence of a conspiracy. The FBI ultimately found a contractor that broke into the phone without Apple's cooperation.
Apple and most private security experts argue that government contractors and others can usually find means of cracking devices. They also say that weakening encryption by design would lead to more hacking by those outside of government.
Until recently, current FBI Director Christopher Wray repeatedly claimed that the Bureau had been unable to get into more than 7,000 phones in 2017. Last month, the Washington Post reported that the true number was less than a third as high. The FBI blamed "programing errors." wapo.st/2lbOiUd = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
*** Bitcoin's skyrocketing growth was 'fraud and manipulation' – report - RT
The record growth in bitcoin last year was actually a coordinated market manipulation, according to recent research by University of Texas Finance Professor John Griffin.
Etherium founder asks Griffin, who has 10 years of experience in detecting financial fraud, examined millions of transactions on cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex. In his paper, Griffin says that the US dollar-pegged cryptocurrency tether was used to buy bitcoin at the times that the latter was falling, which helped "stabilize and manipulate" the cryptocurrency's price.
"Fraud and manipulation often leave footprints in the data and it's nice to have the blockchain to track things," Griffin told CNBC. Whenever bitcoin fell, tether was used to buy it to prop up the price of the leading crypto.
"It was creating price support for bitcoin and, over the period that we examined, had huge price effects," Griffin said. "Our research would indicate that there are sophisticated people harnessing investor interest for their benefit."
Bitcoin started 2017 at below $1,000 and at one point reached $20,000. Now, it is trading near the $6,000 mark. Tether is the 11th largest cryptocurrency and is pegged to the US dollar. Some critics say tether owners don't have enough fiat currency to back its $2.5 billion market capitalization.
Bitfinex CEO J.L. van der Velde told CNBC that neither the exchange nor tether helped to boost bitcoin prices. "Bitfinex nor tether is, or has ever, engaged in any sort of market or price manipulation. Tether issuances cannot be used to prop up the price of bitcoin or any other coin/token on Bitfinex," he said. = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
The following article offers some excellent reasons why one should take immediate action and secure themselves, their familes and assets before its too late. Enjoy!
The "Hitler Of South Africa" Tells White People, He Won't Kill Them...Yet! - Tyler Durden
Earlier this week while most of the world was transfixed on the World Cup, the Trump/Kim handshake, or a multitude of other sundry events, Julius Malema, aka the Hitler of South Africa, was busy telling white people in his country that he's not going wage genocide against them. Yet.
In an interview with TRT World News published this week, Malema said, "We have not called for the killing of white people. At least for now. I can't guarantee the future."
When the reporter mentioned that some people might view these remarks as a call to genocide, Malema responded, "Crybabies. Crybabies," but later warned white South Africans that "the masses are on board" for "an un-led revolution and anarchy".
Malema is a prominent politician in South Africa and at the forefront of his country's movement to confiscate land from white property owners and redistribute it to the country's black population.
No actual specifics about the plan have been revealed, of course.
So even if someone thinks this land grab is social justice, it's at least reasonable to acknowledge the massive corruption that plagues South Africa's government.
And presuming that a multi-billion dollar expropriation wouldn't be fraught with graft is just plain naive.
There has also been zero acknowledgement that forced exprorpriation of private property would cause a wave of defaults on real estate mortgages, triggering a massive banking crisis and unforgiving recession.
South Africa already has a prime example about the economic consequences: Zimbabwe's own land expropriation plunged that country into an economic cataclysm spanning two decades.
Yet these all seem to be irrelevant details.
Malema even went so far as to downplay Zimbabwe's economic catastrophe, saying "You cannot [measure] the Zimbawean revolution based on the capitalist definition."
I'm not sure what Marxist definition he's using to measure success.
But we do know that two decades after land redistribution in Zimbabwe (which used to be considered the breadbasket of southern Africa), more than a quarter of the population is in danger of starving to death.
So even by the most basic metrics, Zimbabwe's policies have been a total failure. Copying them is tantamount to suicide.
It's truly astonishing that someone so dangerous and out of touch has been able to rise to power. And even more astonishing how quickly it's happened.
A decade ago few people had heard of Malema. Now he commands millions and grows more powerful each day.
Swift, radical changes like this are common around the world, and throughout history.
In 1913, just a few years before the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks were a tiny group of radicals. Four years later they had taken over the entire country.
In 1928, the Nazi party was an obscure joke, winning a mere 2.6% of the votes in the national election that year.
Not even five years later, Adolf Hitler was German chancellor and had been awarded supreme power by the Enabling Act of 1933.
Point is, the world can change very quickly.
That's why I've long been a strong advocate for having a Plan B.
It's great to maintain a positive outlook and remain hopeful for the future. I certainly do. But sometimes circumstances don't turn out like we hope.
Sometimes a tyrant rises to power. Sometimes financial markets crash overnight. Sometimes the most unexpected outcomes become reality.
Acknowledging these possibilities doesn't make you a pessimist or an alarmist.
Rather, it's rational and prudent to take basic, sensible steps to protect what you care about most, and what you've worked so hard to achieve.
For example, if you keep 100% of your wealth and investments domiciled in the same country where you live, you're taking on unnecessary risk… especially if your home country is heavily indebted and legendary for civil asset forfeiture and frivolous lawsuits.
One sensible tactic would be to consider moving at least a small portion of your wealth to a different jurisdiction known for strong asset protection laws.
Another idea– some people may be surprised to discover that they're eligible for citizenship in another country due to some long-lost ancestor.
Ireland, Poland, Italy, Spain, and a number of other countries all have laws making it possible for descendants of their nationals to become citizens.
And a second passport is a great asset . It ensures that, no matter what happens, you'll always have another option… to travel, live, work, invest, do business, and bring your family.
That's the whole point of a Plan B. You might not ever need it. But if you can prudently reduce your risk at minimal cost, there's absolutely no downside in having one. It just makes sense.
In order to ensure you thrive no matter what happens next in this crazy world, the leprechaun encourages you to email us for your "Plan B."
Plan B includes the second best passport, a secure safe haven financial account with a generous daily withdrawal allowance via a no name debit card and even your very own "APOT," aka Asset Protection Offshore Trust.
See you next issue
"The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." - Edmund Burke, 1784 = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
*** Letters to the Editor:
Keep them postcards and letters coming' folks, 'cause we done mailed the rosebushes!
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