my favorite illusion

pauly harts fun times new wave and other stuff playlist

Iran trains Ninjas to defend homeland

Pirates made over 110 million dollars

from here

A United Nations report published on Wednesday said that Somali pirates received about 170 million dollars in ransoms in 2011, up from 110 million the previous year, with some of the money channeled into the world’s legal financial system.

The average ransom demanded to free a ship and crew stood at five million dollars and 10 million dollars for a tanker, the UN Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) told the UN Security Council during a debate on piracy off the coast of Somalia.

UNODC’s executive director Yuri Fedotov said the laundering of ransom money had caused steep price increases in the Horn of Africa and surrounding regions.

Fedotov said he was not aware of any ideological link between pirates and Somalia’s al-Shabab insurgents, who were reported to have alligned themselves with al-Qaeda. The insurgents have been fighting the internationally backed government in Mogadishu.

UNODC, which works with countries fighting piracy, said there are currently 1,116 young Somali men being prosecuted for piracy by courts in 20 countries around the world. He said another 688 pirates are being prosecuted in African countries like Kenya, Somalia, Seychelles, Tanzania and Mauritius.

One leading expert on security in the Horn of Africa told recently that the spike in piracy is a direct result in the lessening of media coverage of the region.

“Many editors in the US and Europe don’t feel it is a sexy story any longer and this means we are retreated from looking into the realities on the ground and the struggle against piracy in Somalia,” the official, a former US government security chief, told

Pirates often use international banks and reports in Cairo suggest they are using the Egyptian capital as a means of transmitting their funds globally through local banks here.

Mom kills 16-year-old daughter over fake affair

from here

A Palestinian mother waited for her 16-year-old daughter to go to bed, tied a rope around her neck and strangled her to death. The woman murdered her own daughter after neighbours lied to her that the girl had an affair with their son.

The crime, which moved local residents, had remained underground for a while before it was revealed by police and a Palestinian female activist, who described it as “one of the most heinous criminal acts” in Palestine.

Just before the girl was buried, her aging grandmother (father’s mother), swayed slowly towards the coffin with tears rolling on her wrinkled skin, pulled out the girl’s hair and tied a white tape around it.

“This is more than a symbol of her chastity and purity…it is a proof,” the grandmother said to the mourners.

“Oh, my grandchild….go to your Lord because you will find rest and tranquility there…He is the one who can take revenge for you.”

The crime took place in Bait Oula, a tiny village in the West Bank town of Hebron and it was publicized several weeks after it was perpetrated by the mother.

Residents, who spoke to the Palestinian Arabic language daily Donia Al Watan, said the mother had already been cruel to her daughter as she used to force her to do all household work because she does not like female offspring.

It was this cruelty that made her rush and murder the girl without bothering to check if what neighbours said about her daughter was true.

“Just go and see your daughter’s pictures on my son’s mobile phone,” the neighbouring woman told the mother after an argument, according to the paper.

“The mother then started her plan to kill her daughter…residents said she had made her daughter clean the house for two days so the family will be prepared to receive would-be mourners on their daughter’s death.”

After the murder, the family left the girl in her bed all the night. In the morning, they went straight to hospital and said their daughter had died of heart attack.

“But doctors noticed the swelling in her neck and that her body was bluish….they informed the authorities, who later wrested a confession about the murder…the mother said she killed her to wash off shame and clean the family’s honour….a day later, hospital tests showed the girl was still virgin and pure….it was a hasty crime of honour, which has never been marred or even touched.”

ronnie radke sets a bad example

sad to say. this, from the cute and wonderful website has recently shown some disturbing fan art. what is so upsetting to me as an adult is to see children and teens idolizing this fiend. if you didn't know, ronnie radke is a musician who, along with his friend, killed an 18 year old. he fled the police and now faces charges. 

who is more idiotic? the record labels or the man who is promoted by them or the children that adore him?

here is a google search link to keep updated on this: "putz"

A bloggers moment to ponder dryer lint

from here

This morning I was thankful for dryer lint. I try to stay in a mindset of thankfulness, but . . . dryer lint?

DRYER LINT: fuzzy, useless stuff that collects in the dryer screen; an annoyance that must be cleaned out and thrown away. (from Jean’s book of definitions found only in her mind)

You see, I remember before dryer lint. I can remember baby blankets being hung on clothes lines with red, chapped, freezing hands. The baby blankets froze into pastel colored boards – hard as Formica on a cabinet top. I remember the winter wind jerking my hair and making my ears smart in the cold. It felt as though the wind was driving the cold right through my coat.

Later, I looked out the window to see that the wind had snapped the baby blankets in two – just like snapping a graham cracker – with the frozen halves tossing about the yard like tumble weeds in a desert ghost town. I had to run around the yard chasing after the pieces of blankets as the wind played “keep way” blowing them this way and that. Somehow I managed to get the broken blanket halves and bring them inside before they were blown clean out of sight.

Lest you think I am 839 years old, lots of people had automatic washing machines when I was growing up, but my mother was a Thoroughly Modern Millie. When I was a teenager we had the only washer/dryer combo machine I have ever seen. Daddy loved gadgets and inventions that saved time. He bought Mother a front loading machine that both washed and dried the clothes. I believe it was a Bendix, but it could have been a Maytag. We put in dry, dirty clothes and took out dry, clean clothes. And we had dryer lint. We were affluent and didn’t know it. See? I’m not that old.

Afterworld - a quick review

"Afterworld" is the best motion comic EVER. highly recommended for people who struggle with high ethics in difficult situations. it's hard to watch a motion comic at first, but if you think of it as a "book on tape" then it's pretty darn interesting. it's the story of a man who walks from new york to seattle in search of his wife and his daughter after 99% of the people in the world mysteriously vanish. oh, and wins #1 spot of ANY post-apocalyptic story ever written in my mind: book, movie or otherwise. and trust me - i've seen and read more than anyone i know. the only drawback is that there is only ONE season.

PT Shamrock February Newsletter 18th Anniversary

February 2011 Newsletter

"An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."
- Benjamin Franklin

A word from PT Shamrock:

We are exceedingly proud to announce that this, our February 2012
newsletter, marks our 18th anniversary publishing PT Buzz.

To the best of our knowledge we are the oldest privacy provider on
the internet!

Thank you for your continued support over these many years!

PT Shamrock: February 2012

In this issue:

* Coming to you soon, with love from Big Brother! Cashless Society:
* Scary Stuff - NYPD, Pentagon to Place Mobile Scanners on Streets of NYC
* Breaking News! Singapore 'may become largest offshore financial
centre by 2015'
* Good News? -Law to Find Tax Evaders Denounced
* Bad News - Debts Go Bad, Then It Gets Worse
* Did you know? Wiretap Suits OKd Against US, Not Telecoms
* IRS Gives Another Chance for Citizens to Come Clean
* Food for thought - 17 Reasons I Refuse to File an Income Tax Return
* Horror Stories - FBI Warns of Posting Photos to The Web
* The District of Criminals - Don't look now, but the FBI may have
fibbed about seeking cell phone monitoring technology
* How to Discover Your Own Personal Shangri-la...
* Police State - The North American Homeland Security Perimeter:
A Threat to Canada's National Sovereignty
* Hot Tips - Panama's Reforestation Visa A Green Investment Leading
To Citizenship
* Red Hot Product!
* Advisory - Vying for Detention
* Congress To Fund Massive Expansion Of TSA Checkpoints
* Dumbing Down - The US schools with their own police
* Dumb signs - - Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline
* Dumb facts - Calling Out Telecom USA
* Dumb criminal acts - The TSA Proves its Own Irrelevance
* Dumbing Down Award of the month - This months award goes to...
* Unbelievable Dumbing Down - Confiscating Condoms?
* Attract Government Spies by Tweeting These Words
* Cannon Fodder - Miami Has a Hearty Oi (Hello) for Free-Spending Brazilians
* Bug Bites: Latest Anonymous Hack of Security Company Proves How
Serious Cyber-Activists Have Gotten
* Do as we say, not as we do! - Romney Parks Millions in Cayman Islands
* Shamrock's Missive
* Tid Bits - The NYPD Wants Mobile Weapon Scanners for Drive-By Patdowns
* Just in case! - Man-Made Super-Flu Could Kill Half Humanity
* Quotes
* Tid Bits - World Economic Freedom
* Bits n bobs - Busted! Two New Fed GPS Trackers Found on SUV
* Disturbing facts - Florida Senate pushes to privatize prisons in 18 counties
* Hints & Tips - New Rules for Offshore Accounts
* Letters To The Editor
* Quote of the month!
* PT Shamrock's Exclusive Member's Site!

*** Coming to you soon, with love from Big Brother!

Cashless Society: India Implements First Biometric ID Program for
all of its 1.2 Billion Residents
- Brandon Turbeville, Activist Post

Over the past few months, I have written several articles dealing
with the coming cashless society and the developing technological
control grid. I also have written about the surge of government
attempts to gain access to and force the use of biometric data for
the purposes of identification, tracking, tracing, and surveillance.

Unfortunately, the reactions I receive from the general public
are almost always the same. While some recognize the danger, most
simply deny that governments have the capability or even the desire
to create a system in which the population is constantly monitored by
virtue of their most private and even biological information. Others,
either gripped by apathy or ignorance, cannot believe that the
gadgets given to them from the massive tech corporations are designed
for anything other than their entertainment and enjoyment.

However, current events in India should serve not just as a warning,
but also as a foreshadowing of the events to come in the Western
world, specifically the United States.

Recently, India has launched a nationwide program involving the
allocation of a Unique Identification Number (UID) to every single
one of its 1.2 billion residents. Each of the numbers will be tied
to the biometric data of the recipient using three different forms
of information - fingerprints, iris scans, and pictures of the
face. All ten digits of the hand will be recorded, and both eyes
will be scanned.

The project will be directed by the Unique Identification Authority
of India (UIDAI) under the premise of preventing identity theft
and social welfare fraud. India has rather extensive social welfare
and safety net programs, ranging from medical support and heating
assistance to others aimed at helping the poor. Fraud is a rampant
problem in India, especially in relation to these programs due to a
preponderance of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats who often stuff
welfare rolls with fake names and take the money for themselves.

Yet, although the justification for the billion person database is
the increased ability to accurately disperse social welfare benefits,
it will not be just the Indian government's social welfare programs
that have access to and utilize the UIDAI. Indeed, even before the
program has been completed, major banks, state/local governments, and
other institutions are planning to use the UIDAI for identification
verification purposes and, of course, payment and accessibility.

As Aaron Saenz of the Singularity Hub writes:
Yet the UID is going to be used for much more than social welfare
programs. The UIDAI is in discussion with many institutions (banks,
local/state governments, etc.) to allow them to use the UID as a
means of identity verification. These institutions will pay the
UIDAI some fee to cover costs and generate revenue. There seems to
be little doubt that once it is established, the UID will become
a preferred method (if not the preferred method) of identification
in India.

Saenz also sees the eventuality of the UIDAI program becoming a
means of payment and accessibility. He continues:

Ultimately, I wouldn't be surprised if the UID, with its biometric
data, could be used as a means of payment (when linked to a bank
account), or as an access key to homes and cars. Purchase a meal
with your fingerprint and unlock your door with the twinkle in
your eye. Similar results could be expected in other nations that
adopted biometric identification systems.

Saenz, and other proponents of the UID (UIDAI), have been diligent
in pointing out that the program "is just a number, not an ID
card." However, this claim is debatable. Saenz himself admits
that State issued driver's licenses and identification cards will
reference the UID information.

The question then becomes how much of that information will be
referenced, and how that will be accomplished? Will the information
be included on the card? Will only part of the information
be included on the card? Or will the card reference back to the
digital UID information to be then reconciled with the information
that is present on the card? Although the UID is obviously going
to be utilized by other institutions outside of the social welfare
programs, no answers to these questions have been provided.

But, in the end, does it really matter if the information is collated
into an ID card format if the government already has access to
that information digitally? More than likely, a national ID card
will appear as a supplement to the database already created by
UID. Regardless, the private biometric information has still been
taken from the individual. The database is still there.

Indeed, government "officials" have already stated that the database
will be used by intelligence agencies for the purpose of monitoring
"bank transactions, cellphone purchases and the movements of
individuals and groups suspected of fomenting terrorism." This will
be very easy to do since the UID number will be entered anytime
an individual "accesses services from government departments,
driver's license offices and hospitals, as well as insurance,
telecom, and banking companies."

Nevertheless, proponents have also touted the fact that, at this
point, the UID program is optional. But the program will obviously
not be optional for very long. As I have discussed in previous
articles, the introduction of a program such as a national ID
card, biometric data, or cashless payment technologies is always
followed by the program becoming mandatory. The ultimate goal of
an all-encompassing cashless surveillance program with no opt-out
provisions is always introduced by stealth and the Gradualist

At first, the program is introduced as a way to speed up
transactions, increase efficiency, and provide convenience. Soon,
however, governments and businesses begin to transition out of
the older methods of payment and identification and focus more on
the new technology. Identification using the traditional methods
remain as an option, but become viewed as cumbersome. Eventually,
the alternative methods are phased out completely and mandates
replace what was once a personal choice.

As soon as Indian banks, businesses, and government social service
offices begin to require identification using the UID, the ability
to remain off the system and lead what passes for a normal life
will disappear.

This is exactly the intention with India's new biometric ID
program. In fact, the cashless society is a stated goal of the UID
program. CEO of MindTree's IT Services, the company that was awarded
the government contract for development and maintenance of the UID,
explained in an interview with ComputerWeekly that the "ID scheme
will support a cashless society. He said all vendors will have a
biometric reader and citizens can pay for things with a fingerprint
scan. Even a bag of rice."

No doubt, even after such an admission by a man who was instrumental
in the development of the program, many who read this article will
still dismiss it as a "conspiracy theory."

Nonetheless, this new monumental data mining effort by the Indian
government dovetails with recent efforts in the Western world
to develop an electronic surveillance grid capable of tracking,
tracing, and recording every single movement and communication of
every single citizen within a nation's borders.

New technologies which are being introduced inside the United
States, the UK, and Australia such as vein scanners, biometric
employee time and attendance systems, voice recognition devices,
and behavior analysis systems are all geared toward Total Information
Awareness of every human being on the planet.

Only a totalitarian form of government would desire this information;
and only a very determined totalitarian government would actively
work toward establishing it. India is only the first nation to
openly sweep up its entire national population into such a massive
biometric database net. We cannot let our nation be the next.
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Scary Stuff

NYPD, Pentagon to Place Mobile Scanners on Streets of NYC

NYPD and the Department of Defense are using infrared technology to
scan citizens. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly says the gadget will be
mounted on NYPD vans with 'the infrared rays shooting up the street
at the person.'

New York City's war on freedom could be adding a new weapon to its
arsenal, especially if NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly has his say.
The head of the New York Police Department is working with the
Pentagon to secure body scanners to be used throughout the Big Apple.

If Kelly gets his wish, the city will be receiving a whole slew
of Terahertz Imagining Detection scanners, a high-tech radiation
detector that measures the energy that is emitted from a persons'
body. As CBS News reports, "It measures the energy radiating from
a body up to 16 feet away, and can detect anything blocking it,
like a gun."

What it can also do, however, is allow the NYPD to conduct illegal
searches by means of scanning anyone walking the streets of New
York. Any object on your person could be privy to the eyes of the
detector, and any suspicious screens can prompt police officers
to search someone on suspicion of having a gun, or anything else
under their clothes.

According to Commissioner Kelly, the scanners would only be used
in "reasonably suspicious circumstances," but what constitutes
"suspicious" in the eyes of the NYPD could greatly differ from what
the 8 million residents of the five boroughs have in mind.
The American Civil Liberties Union has already questioned the NYPD
over what they say is an unnecessary precaution that raises more
issues than it solves.

"It's worrisome. It implicates privacy, the right to walk down the
street without being subjected to a virtual pat-down by the Police
Department when you're doing nothing wrong," Donna Lieberman of
the NYCLU says to CBS.

The scanners also raise the question of whether such searches would
even be legal under the US Constitution. Under the Fourth Amendment,
Americans are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. Does
scoping out what's on someone's person fall under the same category
as a hands-on frisk, though?

To the NYPD, it might not matter. In the first quarter of 2011, more
than 161,000 innocent New Yorkers were stopped and interrogated on
the streets of the city. Figures released by the NYPD in May of last
year revealed that of the over 180,000 stop-and-frisk encounters
reported by the police department, 88 percent of them ended in
neither an arrest nor a summons, leading many to assume that New
York cops are already going above and beyond the law by searching
seemingly anyone they chose. Additionally, of those 161,000-plus
victims, around 84 percent were either black or Latino. At the time,
the ACLU's Lieberman wrote, "The NYPD is turning black and brown
neighborhoods across New York City into Constitution-free zones."

Given the alarming statistics, many already feel that officers
within the ranks of the NYPD are overzealous with their monitoring
of New Yorkers, regularly stopping them for unknown suspicions that
nearly nine-out-of-ten times prove false. With the installation of
the Terahertz Imagining Detection scanners though, those invasive
physical searches wouldn't just be replaced with a touchless, more
intrusive monitoring, but will only allow New Yorkers one more
reason to fear walking the streets.

"If they search you, you're not giving consent, so they can do
what they want, meaning they can use that as an excuse to search
you for other means. I don't think that's constitutional at all,"
New Yorker Devan Thomas tells CBS.

"There are a lot of cameras already here, so as people walk they're
being filmed. And most of the time they don't know it,"adds Jennifer

A lot is somewhat of an understatement. In Manhattan alone there are
over 2,000 surveillance cameras, public and private, aimed at every
passerby. That number is the same as the tally of both McDonalds and
Starbucks on the island, combined, multiplied by a factor of eight.

CBS News adds that the plan puts the NYPD in direct cooperation with
the Department of Defense, who is working on testing the scanners to
find a way to bring them to the streets. Such a joint effort opens
up questions about other endeavors the Pentagon could have planned
out with the NYPD in the past, and certainly doesn't mark the first
time that New York's boys in blue have worked hand-in-hand with
federal agencies. Last year a report surfaced linking the NYPD to
the CIA, as documents became available showing a connection between
the local police department and government spies installing secret
agents into Muslim majority communities in New York.

By using scanners such as the Terahertz Imagining detectors,
however, New Yorkers will be forced to endure more than just an
unknown number of eyes prying under their clothes. The consequences
could be biologically catastrophic, with the scanning technique tied
to problems with the human body's ability to operate. According
to MIT's Technology Review, the THz waves used by the scanners
"unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand
that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene
expression and DNA replication."
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*** Breaking News!

Singapore 'may become largest offshore financial centre by 2015'
- Channel NewsAsia

Singapore, which has the world's highest density of wealthy people,
may overtake Switzerland as the world's largest offshore financial
centre as early as 2015, according to a forecast by United Kingdom
financial consultant Wealth Insight.

The report says that, as of the end of last year, Singapore had
just over 150,000 high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs), each worth
more than US$1 million (S$1.29 million). That equates to about one
in 30 Singaporeans, it says.

The combined wealth of Singapore's HNWIs is US$730 billion,
equivalent to 274 per cent of the country's gross domestic
product. Wealth Insight says HNWIs make up 2.9 per cent of
Singapore's population.

In the 10 years to 2010, the total assets managed by the Singapore's
wealth management and private banking sector increased 11-fold to
US$550 billion.

"By 2015, Singapore is expected to have gained significant ground on,
and could even surpass, Switzerland as the world's largest offshore
financial centre," said Wealth Insight analyst Andrew Amoils.

"This will be fuelled by HNWI growth in the Asia-Pacific region
and global clients moving their offshore funds from other financial
centres to Singapore," he said in a statement.

Publisher's note:

If you require either a company bank account or a personal bank
account in Singapore? We can accommadate you with several excellent
banks that do not require a personal visit to Singapore. We suggest
a Belize company becausae unlike Singapore which requires annual
tax filings, Belize does not.

E-mail our leprechaun for particulars by placing "Singapore" in
your subject heading.
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Good News ?

Law to Find Tax Evaders Denounced
- David Jolly and Brian Knowlton

Legislation meant to help the United States government locate
overseas assets of American tax cheats created little stir when it
was quietly slipped into a jobs bill last year.

But the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or Fatca, as it is
known, is now causing alarm among businesses outside the United
States that fear they will have to spend billions of dollars a
year to meet the greatly increased reporting burdens, starting
in 2013. American expatriates also say the new filing demands are
daunting and overblown.

"Congress came in with a sledgehammer," said H. David Rosenbloom,
a lawyer at Caplin and Drysdale in Washington and a former
international tax policy adviser for the Treasury Department. "The
Fatca story is really kind of insane."

Congress created the act after the Justice Department's successful
pursuit in 2009 of UBS that resulted in the Swiss bank - which had
encouraged American citizens to set up secret offshore accounts
- paying $780 million and turning over client details to avoid
criminal prosecution.

The law is meant to ensure Americans cannot use hidden trusts
overseas to evade taxes, a goal that is widely applauded. But
critics say that it amounts to gross legislative overreach, and
that the $8 billion the Treasury expects to reap in taxes owed
over 10 years pales next to the costs it will impose on foreign
institutions. Those entities are being asked, in effect, to pay
for the cost of tracking down American tax evaders.
The law demands that virtually every financial firm outside
the United States and any foreign company in which Americans are
beneficial owners must register with the Internal Revenue Service,
check existing accounts in search of Americans and annually declare
their compliance.

Noncompliance would be punished with a withholding charge of up to 30
percent on any income and capital payments the company gets from the
United States. Under the law, for example, if Deutsche Bank, having
agreed to register with the United States authorities in compliance
with the law, were to transfer $25 million to a noncompliant Polish
bank, Deutsche Bank would be required to withhold part of that sum,
transferring it to the I.R.S. The Polish recipient would then have
the option of challenging that withholding by filing an American tax
return, claiming the money, despite not being an American citizen. In
practice, tax experts say costs like that might drive the Polish bank
out of business. "They're trying to force every financial institution
in the world to sign onto this regime," said Denise Hintzke, who
heads the global tax compliance initiative at Deloitte in New York.

Financial institutions outside the United States also say that
the law's costs will be imposed overwhelmingly on them, giving a
competitive advantage to United States rivals.
The European Banking Association estimates that its members would
have to pay at least $10 to vet each existing account plus overhaul
data systems and procedures.

In Japan, where savers often maintain several small accounts,
only a tiny minority of the 800 million total accounts are held by
Americans. The Japanese Bankers Association has said that manual
verification of each account would be "extremely burdensome."
The Treasury and I.R.S. say that they are addressing the concerns
of Japanese and other institutions and that electronic screening,
not manual checks, will be acceptable for most types of accounts.

The I.R.S., under pressure from angry and confused financial
officials abroad, has extended the deadline for registration until
June 30, 2013, and is struggling to provide more detailed guidance
by the end of this year.

But beginning in 2012, many American expatriates - already the only
developed-nation citizens subject to double taxation from their
home government - must furnish the I.R.S. with detailed personal
information on their overseas assets.

American Citizens Abroad, an advocacy group, estimates the new
form will add three hours to tax preparation. Considering that
the law provides harsh penalties for even unintentional errors,
the organization says it is "simply not realistic for a vast swath
of the normally law-abiding filer community unable to afford the
expensive services of a professional tax adviser."

Even with the new requirement, American expatriates must continue
reporting their foreign financial assets to the Treasury Department,
meaning they will be reporting twice, to different arms of the
government, according to different standards. "The Fatca legislation
treats all Americans with overseas bank accounts as criminals, even
though most of them are honest, hard-working individuals who happen
to be living and working or retired abroad," said Jacqueline Bugnion,
a director of American Citizens Abroad. United States officials say
that in the final version of the law, to be released next summer, the
pursuit of information will not be quite as expansive as some fear.

"Searches of the predominant number of pre-existing accounts will
be electronic," Manal S. Corwin, deputy assistant secretary of
the Treasury for international tax affairs, said during a recent

More extensive searches will be conducted mainly in the case of
private banks, or individuals holding assets exceeding $500,000,
she said, though the details are still being worked out. Ms. Corwin
said the United States would not be asking any institution "to
affirmatively ask every one of their account holders the nationality

In Canada, where hundreds of thousands of United States passport
holders reside, the outcry has been great. Andrea Taylor, director
of the Investment Industry Association of Canada, said compliance
costs could prove devastating for smaller investment firms already
facing tough times. "This will kind of be the last nail in the
coffin for a lot of them," she said.

Mario Frankovich, chief executive of Burgeonvest Bick Securities,
said his Toronto firm currently required no data from new clients
that would show United States links, so any electronic search
"would be showing zero U.S. passports." He said his sense was that
Fatca required companies "to prove your innocence."

Enforcement of the law will be tricky, as many countries, including
the 27 members of the European Union, forbid banks or companies to
transfer such information directly to a foreign government.

Emer Traynor, a spokeswoman for Algirdas Semeta, the European
Union tax commissioner, said talks were under way with the United
States to permit European companies to transfer data to their
national authorities, which would then pass that information on to
Washington. A United States official confirmed this.

There are also questions about whether the I.R.S. will be ready for
millions of complicated new filings each year, with critics charging
that Congress failed to provide the agency with the capacity to
handle the coming avalanche of data. An I.R.S. spokesman, Dean
Patterson, said that the agency was "allocating the requisite
resources and personnel to implement Fatca" and that "we are
committed to laying out a constructive framework for implementation."

Then there is a question of reciprocity: Would the United States
accept the same demands for information from the tax authorities
in other countries - say Russia or China?

Some analysts nonetheless see hope that, once the initial acrimony
and confusion clear away, Fatca could lead to more cooperative
information sharing.

Jeffrey Owens, a tax expert at the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development, said catching tax evaders was "a concern
that many member countries share." If countries could agree to new
global reporting standards for exchanging information, he said,
then "maybe there's a way forward."
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*** Bad News

Debts Go Bad, Then It Gets Worse
- Jessica Silver-Greenberg

A personal bankruptcy is supposed to cut borrowers loose from
lenders and debt collectors, but Capital One Financial Corp.-one
of the nation's largest credit-card issuers-sometimes doesn't want
to let go.

Leila Torres, a 35-year-old waitress who lives in Hawthorne, N.J.,
concluded her Chapter 7 bankruptcy case in 2009. She was stunned
when she got a letter notifying her that Capital One was suing her
for $4,266 in credit-card debt.

"I was trying to move on, and this whole thing has sucked me back
into a nightmare," she says.

Capital One dropped the suit after Ms. Torres accused the company
in a separate lawsuit filed in September of flouting bankruptcy
law. Capital One asked a bankruptcy judge to throw out her suit,
but he refused.

It wasn't the first time the company went after its customers for
debts that had been snuffed out in bankruptcy, even though the
practice is illegal. A court-appointed auditor concluded earlier
this year that Capital One pursued 15,500 "erroneous claims"
seeking money previously erased by a bankruptcy-court judge.

More than 800 of those borrowers have filed lawsuits or other legal
actions against Capital One, the auditor said in a Dec. 6 court
filing. Without admitting or denying wrongdoing, Capital One agreed
to reimburse about 130 borrowers, lawyers and bankruptcy trustees
for legal costs incurred trying to fend off Capital One.

A spokeswoman for the McLean, Va., company said: "It is our policy
and practice not to collect on discharged debt."

In a court filing earlier this year, Capital One disputed the
auditor's finding of 15,500 erroneous claims but didn't disclose
what the company thought the correct tally should be.

Debt collection is a major component of Capital One's business.

The auditor is scrutinizing Capital One as part of a 2010 settlement
between the company and a U.S. bankruptcy trustee in Massachusetts.

Separately, David W. Houston III, chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy
Court in Aberdeen, Miss., said he plans to demand that Capital One
show up in his courtroom to explain its debt-collection practices.

In October, the judge rejected the company's request to throw out
a lawsuit that alleged Capital One tried to collect $43,396.59
that was legally erased in an earlier bankruptcy case filed by the
same person.

"I want some proof from the company that this was a legitimate error
and not a conscious, malevolent effort to go out and collect a debt
that's been discharged," Judge Houston said in an interview.

Capital One said in a court filing that it didn't know about the
previous bankruptcy.

Once the company found out, it abandoned its claim, saying it made
a mistake that was "neither willful nor intentional," according to
the filing.

Capital One is the 10th-largest U.S. bank by assets, best known for
the credit cards pitched in its "What's in your wallet?" ads. The
company's banking unit has grown to nearly 1,000 branches, and
federal regulators are reviewing the proposed $9 billion acquisition
by Capital One of ING Groep NV's U.S. online-banking business.

Debt collection is a major component of Capital One's business that
gets little attention from analysts and investors. As of Sept. 30,
Capital One had $2.7 billion in net income so far this year on
revenue of $12.22 billion, but it also was forced to write off $2.9
billion in uncollectible loans.

As a result, like most lenders, Capital One invests significant
resources into trying to collect from customers who are behind
on their bills. But unlike most others who outsource their debt
collection, Capital One largely relies on employees.

If a customer files for bankruptcy, the company often lines up
with other creditors to collect whatever assets are left. This
is entirely legal, up to the point that a customer's debts are
officially erased by a bankruptcy judge.

Capital One is accused of filing claims to get debts that were
previously discharged in some cases.

There is a lucrative niche in collecting even small amounts from
debtors in the window between when a bankruptcy proceeding is filed
and when it is completed.

About $120 billion in debt will wind up in Chapter 7 or Chapter
13 bankruptcy proceedings this year, estimates Sean McVity, a
debt broker in Harrison, N.Y. Portfolio Recovery Associates Inc.,
based in Norfolk, Va., bought $1.52 billion of bankruptcy debt in
the first nine months of 2011, paying nine cents on the dollar,
according to a securities filing.

Buyers are hungry for bankruptcy debt because they often wind up
doubling their initial investment, according to Mr. McVity.

William Weinstein, chief executive of Weinstein & Riley, a
debt-collection company in Seattle, said he proceeds carefully when
buying bankruptcy-related debt because some firms "aggressively
pursue payments in violation of the law."

For example, collectors sometimes report erased debts to credit
bureaus, a pressure tactic that is in violation of the law if the
debt has been discharged.

About 1.4 million Americans filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13
bankruptcy-court protection in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, down
8% from a year earlier but nearly double the number of bankruptcy
filings in 2007.

In 2008, a U.S. bankruptcy trustee in Massachusetts accused Capital
One of illegally trying 5,600 times to collect debts already wiped
out by a bankruptcy judge.

The trustee, who declined to comment, said the wrongful claims were
the result of Capital One's failure to keep track of bankruptcy
filings by its customers. The trustee began investigating the
company when it allegedly sought $5,542.50 from a couple 14 years
after the debt was erased.

Capital One denied any wrongdoing but agreed to turn over internal
records detailing 2.2 million filings of bankruptcy-court claims
between 2005 and 2010.

The company also agreed to supervision from a court-appointed
monitor that will last until the auditor has completed a review of
the bankruptcy-collection records.

So far, the auditor has identified 15,500 allegedly erroneous claims.

The Capital One spokeswoman wouldn't comment on the allegations,
settlement or ongoing scrutiny. In a court filing, Capital One said
it beefed up record-keeping procedures before being prodded by the
bankruptcy trustee.
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*** Did you know?

Wiretap Suits OKd Against US, Not Telecoms
- The San Francisco Chronicle

The nation's telecommunications companies can't be sued for
cooperating with the Bush administration's secret surveillance
program, but their customers can sue the government for allegedly
intercepting their phone calls and e-mails without a warrant,
a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

There is a "secret room" in AT&T's Folsom Street office in San
Francisco that is believed to be one of several internet wiretapping
facilities at AT&T offices around the country feeding data to
the NSA.

In a pair of decisions, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
San Francisco upheld a 2008 law immunizing AT&T and other companies
for their roles in wiretapping calls to alleged foreign terrorists,
but revived a suit that accused the government of illegally
intercepting millions of messages from U.S. residents.

That lawsuit was partly based on testimony in 2003 by former AT&T
technician Mark Klein about equipment in the company's office on
Folsom Street in San Francisco that allowed Internet traffic to be
routed to the government. 'Dragnet' surveillance

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy-rights organization
representing AT&T customers, claimed the company had similar
installations in other cities and used them for "dragnet"
surveillance of everyday e-mails and phone calls, which the National
Security Agency purportedly screened electronically for connections
to terrorism.

"We look forward to proving the program is an unconstitutional and
illegal violation of the rights of millions of ordinary Americans,"
said Cindy Cohn, the foundation's legal director.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd declined comment. President
George W. Bush acknowledged in 2005 that his administration had
eavesdropped on calls to suspected foreign terrorists without the
warrants required by federal law, but his Justice Department denied
the existence of a dragnet surveillance program. Dozens of suits
challenging the surveillance were transferred to San Francisco. In
one case, then-Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled in
March 2010 that federal agents had illegally wiretapped an Islamic
organization, which was accidentally sent a copy of the surveillance
documents. The Obama administration, which inherited the case,
is appealing the ruling.

Obama backed law Walker also allowed suits against telecommunications
companies that allegedly took part in illegal surveillance,
but Bush then signed a law, supported by then-Sen. Barack Obama,
that immunized companies cooperating in presidentially approved
antiterrorism intelligence-gathering.

The appeals court upheld that law in a 3-0 ruling, rejecting
arguments that Congress had interfered improperly in ongoing
lawsuits and had delegated excessive power to Bush's attorney
general, who certified the companies' eligibility for immunity in
a confidential filing.

The Obama administration defended the law and also sought to dismiss
the customers' suit against the government, arguing that it was
based on speculation about wiretapping and involved political and
national-security issues that were exempt from judicial review. The
appeals court disagreed.

"Although the claims arise from political conduct and in a context
that has been highly politicized, they present straightforward
claims of statutory and constitutional rights" of customers who
allege their messages were intercepted, said Judge Margaret McKeown
in the 3-0 ruling.
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*** IRS Gives Another Chance for Citizens to Come Clean
- Bloomberg

After collecting $4.4 billion in two so-called voluntary disclosure
programs for offshore accounts, the IRS announced plans to revive
the program.

The Internal Revenue Service is giving U.S. citizens who have
shielded assets offshore a third opportunity to come clean, pay a
penalty and avoid criminal prosecution.

After collecting $4.4 billion in two so-called voluntary disclosure
programs for offshore accounts, the IRS announced plans yesterday to
revive the program. Participants will pay as much as 27.5 percent
of their most valuable offshore assets or their biggest overseas
bank account. They also must disclose the banks and advisers that
helped them escape U.S. tax laws.

The program's revival is part of the U.S. government's efforts to
track down and prevent tax evasion around the world. Since 2009,
the U.S. has prosecuted clients of UBS AG (UBSN) and HSBC Holdings
Plc. (HSBA) Switzerland's Weglin & Co. said on Jan. 4 that three of
its bankers have been charged with conspiring to help U.S. clients
hide more than $1.2 billion from the IRS.

"We're gaining momentum in our international efforts and the word
is spreading across the globe," IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman told
reporters on a conference call yesterday.

He wouldn't comment on legal cases the U.S. is pursuing.

Shulman said 33,000 disclosures were made in the two previous
versions of the voluntary program. An effort that began in 2009
resulted in $3.4 billion in collections. The second program in 2011
yielded about $1 billion for the IRS, and Shulman said he expects
that amount to rise.

'Enormous' Problem

Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who heads the Permanent
Subcommittee on Investigations, said the statistics demonstrate
"how enormous the offshore tax evasion problem is."

"Taxpayers are turning themselves in because federal prosecutors
have finally begun to go after the individual tax- haven banks,
bankers and other financial professionals helping them chat on
their taxes," Levin said in a press release.

Taxpayers with undeclared assets might be more willing to work
with the IRS amid fewer options to protect themselves offshore,
said Kevin Packman, the chairman of the offshore tax compliance
team at Holland & Knight LLP in Miami.

Meanwhile, some banks aren't taking U.S. clients because they
don't want to comply with a rule being developed that would require
overseas financial institutions to report the identities of such
customers to the IRS.

"You have a whole host of banks throughout Europe who are kicking
out taxpayers," Packman said in a telephone interview. "You have
nowhere to hide. Even people in compliance outside the U.S. are
having trouble keeping their accounts open."
Complex Rule

Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) of Canada, Allianz SE (ALV) of Germany
and Aegon NV (AGN) of the Netherlands have criticized the reporting
rule as too complex.

The IRS doesn't have an estimate of assets U.S. citizens hold
offshore, Shulman said. Still, the $4.4 billion in penalties
amassed under the programs so far is unlikely to plug the gap
between the amount of taxes owed by U.S. citizens and the amount
the IRS collects. The agency said Jan. 6 that U.S. companies
and individuals didn't pay $385 billion in taxes owed in 2006,
an increase from $290 billion five years earlier.

Unlike in the previous programs, the IRS this time isn't specifying
a deadline for disclosing assets. It said the program will remain
open "for an indefinite period."

The agency raised the penalty to 27.5 percent from 25 percent in
2011 and 20 percent in 2009. Taxpayers disclosing smaller accounts
could pay reduced penalties of either 5 percent or 12.5 percent.

In an attempt to encourage taxpayers to come forward soon, Shulman
said the penalties might be increased further or the program ended
at any point.

"It makes a lot more sense for them to come in now and get the
protection of not being prosecuted criminally," Shulman said. "If
we catch them involuntarily, it's going to be much worse for the
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Food for thought

17 Reasons I Refuse to File an Income Tax Return
- Will Kesler, Activist Post

1. Accepting a commission in the USAF I solemnly swore an oath to God
that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States
against all enemies, foreign and domestic and that I will bear true
faith and allegiance to the same. Therefore, I have publicly refused
to file an income tax return for the past 12 years. If brought
before a jury of my peers, the following will be my defense against
charges stemming from my decision not to file an income tax return.

2. Mens Rea, or guilty mind," is a central distinguishing feature of
criminal law. Criminal liability generally requires not only causing
a prohibited harm or evil . . . but also a particular state of mind,
an act done with a bad purpose or evil intent. Therefore, it is
essential to explain my intent in allegedly violating Section 7203
of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). * In fact, during the 12 years
I have not filed a return I published over a dozen columns in the
Aspen Daily News, self-published a book, marched in parades and spent
days on the Pitkin County Court House steps. From start to present I
have knowingly placed myself at considerable risk, as I documented
my stance (brevity limits this discourse) and expressed my intent
to 1. Expose tyranny 2. Force our government to obey the law and
3. Scrap our hopelessly flawed and corrupt system of taxation. *
In retaliation the IRS assessed me for 11 million dollars they
claim I owe for the year 2002 (I am a man of modest means). Then,
without complying with due process as required by Section 6320 of
the IRC the IRS gained control over everything I owned and stole
my liquid assets. * This goes far beyond income tax into the heart
of a government that is profoundly out of control. 3. The law I
allegedly violated is Section 7203 of the IRC Willful failure to
file." To convict me of this crime the government must prove two
elements, each one beyond a reasonable doubt. First, that I am
a person required by law to file a return and second, that the
failure to file was willful.
4. In U.S. v. Bishop [412 US 346] the Supreme Court ruled that,
The requirement of an offense committed willfully is not met if
a taxpayer has relied in good faith upon a prior decision of
this court." I am, in fact, relying in good faith on numerous
Supreme Court decisions. 5. If the IRS required a citizen to
file they would be in direct conflict with numerous Supreme
Court decisions. For instance, in Brushaber, the landmark case
regarding the 16th Amendment, the Supreme Court ruled that a new,
direct taxing power, not limited by apportionment or uniformity,
would Cause one provision of the Constitution to destroy another,"
and If acceded to would create radical and destructive changes to
our Constitutional system." The Supreme Court thus ruled Taxation
on income was in its nature an excise (indirect) tax entitled to
be enforced as such." An indirect tax must be uniform.
* Also, in Stanton v. Baltic Mining Co. [240 US 103 (1916)] we find
The 16th Amendment conferred no new power of taxation but simply
prohibited the previous complete and plenary power of income taxation
from being taken out of the category of indirect taxation to which it
inherently belonged." * The Harvard Law Review confirms that income
tax is indirect in vol. 29, pages 536-8 which states, in essence,
that In Brushaber, Chief Justice White, construed the 16th Amendment
as a declaration that an income tax is indirect" rather than making
an exception to the rule that direct taxes must be apportioned.
6. The Supreme Court has ruled that income" denotes the following
The word must be given the same meaning in all the income tax acts
of Congress that was given it in the Corporation Excise Tax Act and
what that meaning is has now become definitely settled by decisions
of this court." [Merchants Loan v. Smietanka 255 US 509 (1921)].
* The Corporation Excise Tax Act defined income" as a corporate
profit. * Also Whatever difficulty there may be about a precise
scientific definition of 'income,' it imports something entirely
distinct from principal or capital either as a subject of taxation
or as a measure of the tax; conveying rather the idea of gain or
increase arising from corporate activities." [Doyle v. Mitchell
Brothers, 247 US 179 (1918)]
7. Whereas I have no income" as defined by the Supreme Court I
need not file an income" tax return. Furthermore, ignoring the
constitutional definition of income" creates blatant discrepancy. A
corporation computes income" tax on profit, while an individual
computes income" tax on wages earned. There is a vast and malicious
difference. 8. In Boyd v. US [116 US 616] the Supreme Court ruled
A taxpayer may refuse to exhibit his/her books and records for
examination on the ground that compelling him/her to do so might
violate his/her right under the Fifth Amendment and constitute an
illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment."
* Also from Boyd It does not require actual entry upon premises
and search for and seizure of papers to constitute an unreasonable
search and seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment;
a compulsory production of a private party's books and papers,
to be used against himself or his property in a criminal or penal
proceeding, or for a forfeiture, is within the spirit or meaning
of the Amendment." 9. Given that Boyd v. US states that a citizen
can legally withhold books and records, the IRS would be in direct
conflict with the Supreme Court if it required a citizen to file a
return, which is simply a summary of books and records. Therefore,
and for many other reasons, the IRS does not require a citizen
to file. 10. The title of Section 6012 of the IRC states Persons
required to make returns of income." However, according to the
IRC [section 7806(b)] a code section's title is not part of the
law. In the body of code section 6012, where the law resides, we
find Returns with respect to income taxes under subtitle A shall
be made by the followingâ¦
* The Supreme Court [Cairo v. Hect, 95 US 170] held As against the
government the word 'shall' when used in statutes is to be construed
as 'may' unless a contrary intention is manifest." * Also The word
'shall' in a statute may be construed to mean 'may' particularly
in order to avoid a constitutional doubt." [Fort Howard Paper
v. Fox River Sanitary Dist., 26 NW 2nd 661]. The IRS could have,
but does not, use the word required" in the body of code section
6012. 11. There is also no law that requires withholding or paying
estimated income tax. The IRC defines a withholding agent" at IRC
7701(a) (16) as only required to deduct and withhold income tax
from nonresident aliens and foreign corporations. Therefore, no
law requires income tax be withheld from citizens living in America.
* Title 26, Subtitle f, Chapter 68, Subchapter A, Part 1, Section
6654 of the IRC states Failure by individual to pay estimated
income tax (e) Exceptions⦠(2c) If the individual was a citizen or
resident of the United States throughout the preceding year. Every
year millions of citizens pay estimated income tax while their
exemption is hidden deep in the IRC.
12. In fact, the IRS has insisted for decades that filing a return
and paying income tax is based on voluntary compliance." In 1971 the
1040 booklet declared Each year American taxpayers voluntarily file
their tax returns and make a special effort to pay the taxes they
owe." ~In 1980 the 1040 booklet stated The primary task of the IRS
is to collect taxes under a voluntary compliance system." Webster's
Dictionary defines voluntary" as something done of one's own free
will, without legal obligation." * The Federal Register [vol.39
March 29, 1974] states The mission of the IRS is to encourage
and achieve the highest possible degree of voluntary compliance
with the tax laws and regulations. * The Supreme Court ruled in
Flora v. U.S. that Our system of taxation is based upon voluntary
assessment and payment, not upon distraint."
13. In 1953 Dwight E. Avis, then Director of the Alcohol and
Tobacco Division of the IRS, testified under oath, before Congress,
that Your income tax is 100% voluntary tax and your liquor tax is
100% enforced tax. Now the situation is as different as night and
day." [Hearings: Internal Revenue Investigation, 1953.]

* Note, I sincerely believe Dwight E. Avis. 14. The Supreme Court
ruled in Cheek v. U.S. [498 US 192 (1991)] that in relation to income
tax A good faith misunderstanding of the law or a good-faith belief that
one is not violating the law negates willfulness, whether or not
the claimed belief or misunderstanding is objectively reasonable."

* The 1998 U.S. Attorney's Bulletin 19 states In the seminal case of
Cheek v. U.S. the Supreme Court held that a taxpayer's 'belief' that
he or she was not required to file a tax return, however incredible
such a misunderstanding of and beliefs about the law might be, does
not have to be objectively reasonable. Rather, the standard is a
subjective one." 15. While this discourse proves, beyond a reasonable
doubt, that I am not required to file, the Supreme Court has ruled,
thus it is a law of this land, that I need not be legally correct;
I need only possess a sincere belief.

In essence, I have discovered a pattern of deception that I cannot
ignore and keep my oath to God. As I have revealed why, as my actions
have proven, I have a good faith belief that I am not required to
file, thus my failure to file is not willful.

16. While America celebrated the New Year, Obama authorized the
military to detain American citizens indefinitely, without rights
supposedly guaranteed by our Constitution, by simply labeling
anyone a terrorist." I am a decorated Viet Nam Veteran, I have no
criminal record and yet because I have realized the above and am a
tax protester I have been labeled a domestic terrorist" along with,
under the Patriot Act someone who breaks a state or federal law
and endangers the welfare of others." 17. Time is quickly running
out. We either demand our rights proclaimed by our Constitution or
freedom is lost. We can starve the beast and expose tyranny before
it is too late. Simply honor your responsibility as a citizen and
send the following letter to the IRS.

Dear IRS,
Whereas the Internal Revenue Code defines a withholding agent"
at IRC 7701(a)(16) which states, The term 'withholding agent'
means any person required to deduct and withhold any tax under the
provisions of Sections 1441, 1442, 1443 and 1461." The first three
sections apply to nonresident aliens and foreign corporations,
while 1461 simply makes the agent responsible for monies collected.

Therefore, as I am neither a nonresident alien nor foreign
corporation my employer is not required to withhold income tax from
my paycheck and since I no longer choose to volunteer, I submit
this letter and demand the appropriate form/ instructions, based on
the above definition, i.e. the law, which I can then present to my
employer to legally halt having income tax withheld from my paycheck.

(signed) A. Patriot

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. [Thomas Jefferson]

Will Kesler is an anti-income tax activist living in Aspen, Colorado
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Horror Stories

FBI Warns of Posting Photos to The Web

The FBI is warning citizens with smartphones to be wary of posting
photos from your mobile device. You may be sharing more than just
a pretty picture.
- James Myers

With the ubiquitous presence of smartphones and social media
platforms in all of our lives, sharing photos has never been
easier. Millions of pictures are uploaded to the Web every day and
camera-enabled mobile phones are the perennial top-selling consumer
electronic devices. So it's a safe bet that even more photos will
be cropping up on image-hosting communities and personal websites.

But what exactly is being shared?

According to a release issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI), in some cases, you might unwittingly be letting others know
where you live and work and your travel patterns and habits. These
details can be revealed through bits of information embedded in
images taken with smartphones and some digital cameras and then
shared on public websites. The information, called metadata, often
includes the times, dates and geographical coordinates (latitude
and longitude) where images are taken.

While the geospatial data can be helpful in myriad web applications
that plot image locations, it also opens a door for criminals,
including burglars, stalkers, and predators. It's not a stretch
to imagine young teens' images of their ventures to the mall or
beach being culled by web predators and meticulously plotted on
online maps.

"It's not something we think is happening. We know it's happening,"
said Kevin Gutfleish, head of the Innocent Images Intelligence
Unit in the FBI's Cyber Division. The unit provides analysis and
assessments of emerging threats for the operational arm of the
Innocent Images National Initiative, which targets child pornography
and sexual predators.

"The way that images are being posted in real time allows others
who have access to see the metadata and see where the photos were
taken and reveal their location at that time," Gutfleish said.

An intelligence analyst in the FBI Criminal Division's Crimes
Against Children Unit said these details can reveal a "pattern of
life," particularly when images posted over time are clustered in
geographic locations.

"It doesn't have to be in real time to be dangerous," said the
analyst. "Historical data can tell you a lot about individuals'
day-to-day habits and may indicate where they are most likely to
be at a certain time."

Some popular social media sites automatically scrub metadata from
images before they are published. On the other hand, some leverage
the data to display location information beside the images. An
amateur sleuth could easily pinpoint a location using the available
latitude and longitude coordinates.

"Even if they don't intentionally say where they are, the photos
could reveal that," Gutfleish said. "And that could present a
potential danger."

Gutfleish said he has seen an increase in intelligence reports and
complaints about the potential misuse of the metadata embedded in
photos. He said the proliferation of online tools that aggregate
personal information from social networking and image hosting sites
is enough to urge a level of caution.

He suggests mobile phone users at the very least check the
"options" or "settings" on their phones (and any applicable mobile
applications) to see if they are sharing location information. In
many cases, the default setting is to share location information.

"It's just a best-practice if you don't want to give out your
location," Gutfleish says. "We simply want to make sure people know
this is happening."

Disabling the Location Function

Disabling the photo geotagging function on mobile phones varies by
manufacturer, but is generally a straightforward process. On the most
current iPhone model, users can simply find the "Location Services"
toggle in there "Settings folder."

The path to location-based services options varies from phone to
phone. Users should take special care when enabling or disabling
location services (which may include navigation functions), or
disabling applications (like photos) accessing the GPS data. Consult
your phone manufacturer's guidelines for more information.
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*** The District of Criminals

Don't look now, but the FBI may have fibbed about seeking cell
phone monitoring technology
- J. D. Heyes

It goes without saying that the FBI is the nation's premier federal
law enforcement agency, but increasingly in the digital age, the
bureau seems intent on finding ways around some of those laws -
and constitutional protections - and then lying about it.

In mid-December Andrew Coward, the vice president of marketing
for Carrier IQ of Mountain View, Calif., told a Senate Judiciary
Committee panel that the FBI has, on occasion, sought to use
monitoring technology the company secretly installed on some 141
million cell phones.

That admission came a day after FBI Director Robert adamantly assured
members of the committee's privacy and technology panel that his
agency "never sought nor obtained any information" from the firm.

When pressed, Coward would not say how many times or how often the
bureau sought Carrier IQ's technology, but he was certain of the
company's response to those requests. "There is no relationship
between us and the FBI," he said.

Coward's testimony appeared to conflict rather mightily with
Mueller's, who said in response to a question about it from Sen. Al
Franken, D-Minn., that the bureau "neither sought nor obtained any
information from Carrier IQ in any one of our investigations."

A spokesman for the FBI, Michael Kortan, sought to trivialize any
contact the FBI may have had by telling The Associated Press the
agency "communicates routinely with many technology companies,
including Carrier IQ, relative to new and emerging technologies
and capabilities."

The FBI "routinely" communicates with Carrier IQ and other tech
companies, but as Mueller said, the agency just never tried to
obtain any information about using said technologies.

We're not sure what's worse - the technology itself or the fact
that the FBI is trying to get a hold of it for no apparent good
reason. According to reports, Carrier IQ's software is used by cell
phone makers and carriers "to collect some information, such as the
telephone numbers a user dials and the phone numbers from incoming
calls," the Washington Post reported.

The companies assure consumers, however, that the technology
doesn't "collect the content of text messages sent or received, the
content of e-mails sent or received, the URLs of Web sites visited,
information from user address books or any other keystroke data."

Not so fast. This Web site has a wealth of tech-heavy, geek squad
stuff on it, but it appears to say, in essence, the software is
capable of - and probably does - collect the very information the
company says is not being collected.

And there is this. In November, security researcher Trevor Eckhart
posted a video online showing how keystrokes and messages from his
smart phone were being logged by Carrier IQ software.

Comedian-turned-U.S. senator Al Franken isn't laughing. "These
actions may violate federal privacy laws, including the Electronic
Communications Privacy Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act,"
he wrote recently in a letter to the company's president. In perhaps
the understatement of the year, Franken added "This is potentially
a very serious matter."

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*** How to Discover Your Own Personal Shangri-la...
- International Man

The countries of the developed world are experiencing a new class
of refugee - members of the middle- and upper-class. These rungs
of the socio-economic ladder are realizing that their countries
of residence are in many ways going rapidly downhill without much
hope of a short- or medium-term reversal. This is particularly
true for national economies, taxes and regulations, and in terms
of deteriorating individual liberty.

As a result, many are seeking permanent expatriation, or a "back
door" destination, should a sudden move become necessary. In fact,
after internationalizing your assets, establishing the back door
is the next most important diversification strategy for most.

As an International Man reader, you may be preparing for or
considering a second residence outside your home country. Hopefully
this article will provide valuable insight toward that end.

The first big hurdle is determining which destination is the right
fit for you and your family. This task can be time consuming and

Many in the developed West contemplating personal
internationalization, particularly Americans, are saying,
"There's nowhere to go - the whole world is falling apart." Yet,
this is far from the truth. Although much of the developed world
is in serious decline, there are exceptions. Further, some of the
world's developing countries are on the rise both socially and
economically. However, some of the greatest opportunities for those
hoping for a better life outside of Europe or America lie in less
developed countries.

The less developed countries are generally perceived by dwellers
of the developed West as impoverished nations where ignorance and
disease are the norm. This is certainly true of some countries such
as Somalia, which is the far extreme. However, it is certainly not
the case with other locales that technically fit in this category
such as Uruguay, which is almost entirely unaffected by the present
first world crisis.

Perhaps your idea of a new home is on a beach in the Caribbean where
there is minimal violence, and where your wealth is relatively
secure. Or, possibly you would prefer a home where there are
old-world values and traditions, where you can frequent cafes and
surround yourself with the arts. Whatever fits your tastes and needs,
such a destination is likely to exist. However, finding the right
combination of ingredients is time consuming and requires some
research and a bit of travel.

Our first recommendation is that you begin with a list of what is
important to you. This can include such items as low taxation* and
limited government. However, it may also contain gourmet food and
good hair salons. While the latter may seem frivolous, it may not
be. Many have expatriated to a new jurisdiction, only to discover
that it's the frivolous things that they miss most. Therefore,
create a table that covers all these things for all those who will be
going with you. Below is an example of how you might go about this.

Keep in mind that a few countries including the US tax on world
income. If, as a US citizen, you earn income abroad, you may qualify
for the Foreign Earned Income exclusion on up to the first USD
$91,500 of income. However, residency restrictions do apply. So,
while a Caribbean island may offer tax free living, that does not
generally apply to US persons.

Possible Exit Destinations
This table is available in PDF in the Members Area under
Internationalization Tools

The table was used by a Scottish acquaintance of mine when he began
his search for a second residence. In the end, his final choice
was not even a country on this table. He decided on Chiang Mai,
Thailand, also now home to the well-known contrarian investment
advisor Marc Faber.

Using a table similar to the one above and ranking your priorities
for each contending country is an extremely valuable exercise. While
not entirely scientific and obviously subject to personal biases, by
conducting extensive due diligence and applying the results to such
a document, the person or family looking for a second residence will
be less prone to making a commitment that is later regretted. You
can ensure you cover all bases before making a decision.

Once the list of contenders has been decided, a bit of travel will be
in order. While research can reveal information about any potential
destination, getting a feel for the country and how things actually
work requires personal experience. By planning a vacation at the
place of interest the priorities in the table can be confirmed and
new ones added. Some time on the ground, taking notes and refining
the table will assist in determining if a potential choice is a
good fit for you and your family.

Once the decision on where in the world to settle is reached, other
choices will surface over time: do you wish to work, start a business
or retire in the new location?; will you pursue citizenship or
legal residence? As the answers to these questions surface you will
need to set the appropriate process in motion. In many countries,
accomplishing some or all of these goals can take a long time,
so plan accordingly and expect a few hurdles along the way.

Finally, you will need to rent or purchase property and set up
a residence whether you plan to relocate fulltime or establish a
back door destination as a nice place to vacation. If you select
a destination where the economy is on the upswing, chances are,
even if you never need to move there, you can sell the property
later at a profit. In the meantime, purchasing foreign real estate
gives you diversification beyond one economy and one currency.
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*** Police State

The North American Homeland Security Perimeter: A Threat to Canada's
National Sovereignty
- Dana Gabriel, Global Research

After months of negotiations, the U.S. and Canada have unveiled
new trade, regulatory and security initiatives to speed up the
flow of goods and people across the border. The joint action plans
provide a framework that goes beyond NAFTA and continues where the
Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) left off. This will take
U.S.-Canada integration to the next level and is the pretext for
a North American Homeland Security perimeter.

On December 7, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen
Harper announced the Beyond the Border Perimeter Security and
Economic Competitiveness Action Plan. The new deal focuses on
addressing security threats early, facilitating trade, economic
growth and jobs, integrating cross-border law enforcement, as well
as improving infrastructure and cyber-security. It will act as a
roadmap with different parts being phased in over the next several
years. This includes the creation of various pilot projects. Many
aspects of the agreement will also depend on the availability of
funding from both governments. In addition, the two leaders issued
a separate Regulatory Cooperation Council Action Plan that sets out
initiatives whereby the U.S. and Canada will seek greater regulatory
alignment in the areas of agriculture and food, transportation,
environment, health, along with consumer products.

At a Joint News Conference, President Obama declared that, "Canada
is key to achieving my goal of doubling American exports and
putting folks back to work. And the two important initiatives that
we agreed to today will help us do just that." He went on to say,
"we're agreeing to a series of concrete steps to bring our economies
even closer and to improve the security of our citizens." Obama
also added, "we're going to improve our infrastructure, we're
going to introduce new technologies, we're going to improve
cargo security and screening." Prime Minister Harper proclaimed
that, "These agreements create a new, modern order for a new
century. Together, they represent the most significant steps forward
in Canada-U.S. cooperation since the North American Free Trade
Agreement." He explained that, "The first agreement merges U.S. and
Canadian security concerns with our mutual interest in keeping our
border as open as possible to legitimate commerce and travel." Harper
described how, "The second joint initiative will reduce regulatory
barriers to trade by streamlining and aligning standards."

Some of the measures found in the Beyond the Border action plan
include conducting joint, integrated threat assessments; improving
cooperative law enforcement capacity and national intelligence-
and information-sharing; cooperating on research and best practices
to prevent and counter homegrown violent extremism; working to
jointly prepare for and respond to binational disasters and enhancing
cross-border critical infrastructure protection and resilience. Other
facets of the deal will work towards adopting an integrated cargo
security strategy; implementing entry and exit verification;
establishing and verifying the identity of foreign travellers
to North America; better aligning Canadian and U.S. programs for
low-risk travellers and installing radio frequency identification
technology at key border crossings.

As part of the agreement, both countries will, "implement two
Next-Generation pilot projects to create integrated teams in
areas such as intelligence and criminal investigations, and an
intelligence-led uniformed presence between ports of entry." This
will build on past joint law enforcement initiatives such as the
Shiprider program and the Integrated Border Enforcement Teams. The
Next-Generation pilot projects are scheduled to be deployed by the
summer of 2012. In September, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
revealed plans that would allow law enforcement officers to operate
on both sides of the border. He announced that, "the creation
of â~NextGen' teams of cross-designated officers would allow
us to more effectively identify, assess, and interdict persons
and organizations involved in transnational crime." Holder also
commented that, "In conjunction with the other provisions included
in the Beyond the Border Initiative, such a move would enhance our
cross-border efforts and advance our information-sharing abilities."

In his article, How the U.S. blackmailed Canada, Gar Pardy stressed
that as part of a North American security zone, "Canadian security
institutions will be more closely integrated with those of the
United States." While addressing the Beyond the Border declaration
and the subsequent action plan, he highlighted the fact that,
"these are not formal treaties or even formal agreements, although
there could be greater formality in the future." Pardy also noted,
"Nowhere in the documentation resulting from the two meetings
are there suggestions the people of Canada will be provided
with detailed information on which judgments can be made on the
wisdom of this consensual agreement negotiated in the backrooms
of both capitals." Instead he cautioned that, "the troublesome
details implicit in the agreement will be hidden behind the wall
of national security." Pardy argued that in the process, "Canada
sold its national security independence in exchange for hoped-for
minor changes to American border restrictions." He concluded that,
"It is not an overstatement to suggest the United States blackmailed
the government of Canada into making this deal. It was the American
way or no way."

The Council of Canadians have also strongly rejected the new
border deal. They have challenged the notion that, "proper privacy
protections can be achieved between Canada and the U.S. without
significantly diluting stronger Canadian laws and norms." Citing
privacy concerns associated with the U.S. Patriot Act, the
organization emphasized that, "the proposed new entry-exit
system for travellers needs the greatest scrutiny by Canadian
parliamentarians, security and privacy experts." The Council
of Canadians also criticized, "the government for hiding behind
a sham public consultation and implying that this should clear
the way for implementation of the action plan." In August, the
Conservative government released two reports which summarized online
public input received concerning regulatory cooperation, as well as
perimeter security and economic competitiveness. While improving the
movement of trade and travel was the priority for business groups,
many individuals expressed concerns over the loss of sovereignty,
along with the protection of personal information.

When it comes to regulatory convergence, Maude Barlow, national
chairperson of the Council of Canadians agreed that, "Standardization
can be a good thing when standards are high," She conceded, "The
problem is standards aren't higher in the U.S. in many cases." Barlow
also acknowledged that, "Already Health Canada and other agencies
consider harmonization with U.S. standards to be a more important
consideration than the real safety of our food. This perimeter
deal cements that skewed priority list." There are fears that it
could erode any independent Canadian regulatory capacity and weaken
existing regulations. Part of the SPP agenda called for improving
regulatory cooperation which resulted in Canada raising pesticide
limits on fruits and vegetables. Regulatory integration threatens
Canadian sovereignty and democracy. Further harmonization with
the U.S. could result in Canada losing control over its ability to
regulate food safety. This could also lead to a race to the bottom
with respect to other regulatory standards.

By all accounts, big business is the winner in the new trade and
security perimeter deal. Maude Barlow explained that, "this process
has been set up to accommodate one sector of our community and that
is big business." In advance of the action plans being unveiled to
the public, business stakeholders were briefed on the specifics. The
Canadian Council of Chief Executives, an organization that lobbies
the government on behalf of Canada's largest corporations has
given it their stamp of approval. The U.S. and Canadian Chambers of
Commerce also applauded the new vision for border and regulatory
cooperation. When it comes to negotiations on the border security
agreement, Barlow confirmed that, "the big business community was
the only sector at the table with government and guided the process
from the beginning." This was also the case with the now defunct
SPP. Big business was a driving force behind the initiative which
led to the creation of the North American Competitiveness Council
to ensure that corporate interests were being addressed.

In her article, Maude Barlow also warned that when it comes to the
perimeter deal, "Canada is essentially giving up policy control in
the key areas of privacy, security, immigration and surveillance in
order to entice the U.S. to loosen controls at the border." She
stated, "it is likely to lead to a wholesale replacement of
Canadian privacy and security standards with American ones, set by
Homeland Security." When it comes to information being collected
and stored, Barlow questioned whether it will be, "used as a form
of social control, to identify not terrorists, but activists and
dissenters of government policy." She insisted that, "We must
call on our government to create a full public and Parliamentary
debate before this deal becomes operational." From the beginning,
the whole process has lacked transparency with no congressional
or parliamentary oversight. This has drawn comparisons to the SPP
which was shrouded in secrecy and fueled by fears over the loss
of sovereignty that finally led to its downfall. We can only hope
that this latest endeavour will meet the same fate. With the 2012
U.S. election cycle about to get into full swing, the new bilateral
deal could get lost in the shuffle.

While the perimeter agreement is being sold as vital to the
safety and prosperity of Canadians and Americans alike, there is
little doubt that it will mean a tradeoff between sovereignty and
security. Any deal which gives the Department of Homeland Security
more personal information poses a serious risk to privacy rights. As
both countries move forward, perimeter security will be further
defined and dominated by American interests. This could force
Canada to comply with any new U.S. security measures, regardless
of the dangers they may pose to civil liberties.

A North American Homeland Security perimeter goes well beyond
keeping people safe from any perceived threats. It is a means to
secure trade, resources, as well as corporate interests and is a
pretext for control over the continent.

Ultimately, the U.S. wants the final say on who is
allowed to enter and who is allowed to leave.
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Hot Tips

Panama's Reforestation Visa A Green Investment Leading To Citizenship

Panama has two immigration visas encouraging green investments
called the reforestation visas. The first one provides a six year
temporary residency for investing at least sixty thousand dollars
($60,000 USD) towards purchasing a minimum of three (3) hectares of
a government certified reforestation project. The second and most
popular visa calls for an investment of at least eighty thousand
dollars ($80,000 USD) towards purchasing at least five (5) hectares
of a government certified reforestation project providing permanent
residency leading to citizenship. This is the smallest investment
visa providing permanent residency available.

An individual or a Panama corporation can purchase the required
hectares from a government certified reforestation project. An
applicant's spouse and dependent children can be included with the
visa for an additional two thousand dollars ($2,000 USD) investment
per dependent.

Citizenship can be achieved after an initial two years as temporary
residents plus another five years as permanent residents.

Reforestation is the process in which the reestablishment of
a plantation occurs, in this case, by planting an area where a
previous plantation was removed or was not existent previously,
teaks and mahoganies are the most popular in Panama. It takes twenty
(20) years for a tree to mature for harvesting with a thinning down
process every six (6), twelve (12) and sixteen (16) years which
produces commercial wood for sale. After harvesting the land is
replanted with new trees and resold to existing or new investors.

Besides obtaining legal residency and citizenship a reforestation
investment is profitable.

At just an average of two percent (2%) yearly increase in teak
market prices, the eighty thousand dollars ($80,000 USD) initial
investment can bring a return of three hundred seventy thousand
five hundred eighty six dollars ($370,586 USD) in twenty (20) years.

That's a return of the four hundred sixty percent (460%) in twenty
(20) years or an annual average of twenty-three percent (23%). That's
not bad when compared to the current stock market. According to
Standard & Poor's the average S&P 500 Index only averaged seven
point thirty-three percent (7.33%) annually from 1990 to 2008.

Investing in hardwood is not as well known as other commodities
like gold, beef, or produce. Teak is the most popular of hardwoods
because it is resilient to weather, resistant to decay, and repels
insects. This is why teak is most often used for indoor and outdoor
furniture and ship decking. Other characteristics of teak are its
elasticity and solid fiber which is perfect for woodworking products.

Teak hardwoods are some of the best performing investments because
teak has historically been in high demand with diminishing world
supplies. According to the United Nations, nearly twenty eight
million (28,000,000) acres of tropical forests are destroyed each
year. This amount of territory is roughly equivalent to the states
of Ohio or Virginia. Tropical forests have been virtually eliminated
in India, Malaysia and the Philippines and now logging has increased
in South America as well.

Teak is not a natural hardwood for Panama. It was imported to Panama
after the 1900´s. Teak has proven to grow particularly well
in Panama´s climate. Many investors buy Panama's teak hardwood
reforestation investments as a plan for their children's college
funds! In twenty (20) years an eighty thousand dollars ($80,000)
investment can pay for two children's tuition, room and board at
Harvard University for four (4) years.

According to the International Teak Market Report of 2006:

"Over the last 30 years, teak log prices have increased at an average
rate of 8.3% per annum compounded. The basis for the sharp increase
is due to rapidly declining supply and rising demand. Teak log prices
in the past 12 months have risen 15% in the premium log categories."

Investors don't have to become farmers to participate in Panama's
reforestation projects. Government certified reforestation companies
sell the required hectares and provide full maintenance over the life
of the investment. This includes thinning, harvesting, and selling
the teak at market value. Investing in Panama's teak reforestation
projects makes sense for long term profit, obtaining residency and
citizenship, along with helping to save the planet's diminishing
teak forests. This is a truly "Green" investment with benefits!

Contact our leprechaun for more information about teak reforestation
immigration visas and investments.
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Red Hot Product!

Do you require a European Union residency that is located in a
western country of the EU? This is not within the old eastern block
area, rather in the west!

Taxes are 15% plus a whole lot of other valuble information.

Email our leprechaun by placing "EU-Residency" in your subject
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*** Advisory

Vying for Detention: Two liberal Democratic Senators Give Us a
Police State for Christmas
- Dan DeWalt

Two key liberal Senators in Washington did what it took to pass
a law making the US a battle zone in the "war" on terror, and
making all US citizens potential terrorists with no rights under
the Constitution. Happy Holidays citizens!

The Police State came a big step closer in the new military
authorization bill by ThisCantBeHappening

Predator Odrona is about to sign a military authorization bill
[Carl Levin's S-1867] that puts every one of us at risk of being
detained by our own military. If the government decides that you
are a terrorist threat, the military will be able to kidnap you and
deny you the right to a trial or even the right to know why you're
being held.

The arrogant and short-sighted leaders who "govern" us have granted
the government the right to detain you anywhere in the world,
including inside the U.S., and there is no limit to the amount of
time that they can hold you once they've got you.
We shouldn't worry though, they claim, because this new law is only
meant for the terrorists among us.

So just who represents a terrorist threat? Well, protesters for
starts, according to a Pentagon training test, which defines protests
as acts of low-level terrorism. Quaker peace meetings in Vermont and
across the country have been registered as "suspicious incidents"
by the Defense Department's secretive TALON snooping system. Once
your name has been entered into one of these lovely surveillance
systems, you can rest assured that it will never disappear.

The muslims in America certainly know that they are perceived
as potential or likely terrorists by an alarming number of law
enforcement agencies across the land. Reports have documented blatant
anti-muslim profiling by "experts" presenting at law enforcement
terrorism training events.

And let's not forget the right side of the spectrum. Radical
back-to-the-landers who wave guns and evade taxes have long been a
government favorite for keeping their kill squads sharp. Just ask
Randy Weaver. Washington state recently requested an was granted
the use of a military surveillance drone to lead SWAT teams, a bomb
squad, the highway patrol and four counties' worth deputy sheriffs
to arrest three unarmed brothers over a six-cow dispute. It wasn't
the cows that brought on the military-style show of force. It was
the brothers' family affiliation with the Sovereign Citizen movement,
which the FBI classifies as an extremest organization and a domestic
terrorism threat.

Obama Department of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano
felt compelled to warn law enforcement agencies about "right-wing
extremist activity" shortly after her boss's election. A few months
earlier, DHS had released a report warning about cyber attacks
from left-wing extremists. If the FBI equates extremest groups with
domestic terrorism, should we be surprised that the DHS does as well?

We're not on the edge of a slippery slope here. We're sliding down
a precipice faster than you can say "Facebook killed privacy and
I don't care". We're all becoming viewed as potential terrorist

Is this because we are all potential terrorists? No, it's because
those in power understand that they have lost their legitimacy and
recognize that the only way that they will be able to hold onto power
it is through intimidation and fear. The 1% have never been able to
earn power through just governance. The 99% always rebel eventually
when the injustices and inequalities grow too great for their society
to bear. And even though the elite always lose in the long run,
they first resort to ratcheting up their police and military power
and start treating their citizens like potential enemies.

So who is one of the surprise enablers of the new improved police
state? That would be Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). It used to be
that when a powerful senior Senator recognized a bill that posed
a threat to the Republic, he would filibuster it, or use the bully
pulpit and parliamentary maneuvering to prevent its passage. Today
the most we can hope for from him is a failed attempt or two at
meaningfully amending the bill, followed by the passage of a useless
amendment, followed by a yes vote with a few mumbled phrases about
being the best we could do or some such truck.

Well they can detain and disappear a goodly number of us, but
they can't take us all. We're the ones they make money off of,
after all. So why don't we all embrace our potential as terrorists
together? It doesn't take much to qualify as we've seen. Let's all
declare our intentions and see if the Pentagon brass can convince
our troops to come home only to take up hunting us instead of Iraqi
"bad guys". Most of our soldiers have labored under the belief
that they were fighting abroad to defend our free speech rights
at home. American troops take an oath to defend the Constitution,
not a government or an ideology. They are duty bound to disobey any
orders that are un-Constitutional, and that would include any that
involved detention without charges.

So what sort of declaration shall we make? A simple promise to always
exercise our first amendment rights in the face of unconstitutional
actions by the government is a good start. How about a pledge to
support and encourage all forms of non-violent, peaceful citizen
actions that challenge the corrupt status-quo that is destroying our
nation and its economy? How about a pledge to support and participate
in saving unjustly re-possessed homes from being taken by the banks
that (may) hold the mortgage?

How about openly supporting and participating in non-violent civil
dis-obedience actions to shut down a leaking nuclear power plant
that won't obey the law of the state where it resides? Or taking
non-violent direct action to impede the immoral weapons manufacturing
that delivers to dictators across the globe to use on their citizens?

It's funny, though: all of these actions are protected by our
Constitution. While some may be illegal and could earn a trial
and possible penalty, they all represent the very heart of what
is supposed to be so great about being an American -- the right to
free expression and right to assemble to address grievances. None
of these actions even remotely deserve to be seen as terrorism,
low-level or not.

Our government likes to be at war. They don't have the right to be
at war with us, and we must stand strong, speak loud and not let
them cow us into a quiet submission. Don't worry, if they take you
away, your family can always contact Senator Leahy's office for help.
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*** Congress To Fund Massive Expansion Of TSA Checkpoints

Fears over burgeoning police state increase after passage of NDAA
- Paul J. Watson

Congress is set to give the green light on funding for a massive
expansion of TSA checkpoints, with the federal agency already
responsible for over 9,000 such checkpoints in the last year amidst
increased fears America is turning into a police state following
the passage of the 'indefinite detention' bill.

The increase in funding has nothing to do with the TSA's role
in airports - this is about creating 12 more VIPR teams to add
the federal agency's 25 units that are already scattered across
the country and responsible for manning checkpoints on highways,
in bus and train terminals, at sports events and even high school
prom nights.

"The TSA's 25 "viper" teams - for Visible Intermodal Prevention and
Response - have run more than 9,300 unannounced checkpoints and
other search operations in the last year. Department of Homeland
Security officials have asked Congress for funding to add 12 more
teams next year," reports the L.A. Times.

The demand for $24 million in extra funding is in addition to the
$110 million spent in fiscal year 2011. The figures are completely
independent from the federal agency's role inside the nation's
airports, which costs taxpayers $5 billion a year.

The extra money is being demanded despite the fact that there is
"no proof that the roving viper teams have foiled any terrorist
plots or thwarted any major threat to public safety," according to
the L.A. Times report, which also highlights how the TSA's sniffer
dogs are used to single out people for questioning if the dog smells
the scent of the owner's pets on their clothing.

The appearance of thousands more checkpoints on America's highways
and at key transport hubs will only heighten concerns that the
country is headed towards a Soviet-style police state.

Such fears were again expressed last week following the passage
of the National Authorization Defense Act, a provision of which
empowers the government to arrest Americans and hold them in a
detention camp with no legal recourse.

With the federal government now seeking contractors to provide
staff and supplies for "emergency camps" located around the country,
the possibility of innocent Americans being swept up in a dragnet
following a declaration of a national emergency has never been more
of a threat.

The TSA is being used as a literal occupying army to ensure Americans
who travel anywhere are constantly under the scrutiny of Big Brother.

Back in October we reported on how Tennessee's Homeland Security
Commissioner announced that a raft of new "security checkpoints"
would be in place over the Halloween period to "keep roadways safe
for trick-or-treaters".

Earlier that same month it was announced that Transportation Security
Administration officials would be manning highway checkpoints in
Tennessee targeting truck drivers.

After public outrage, the TSA attempted to neutralize the controversy
by claiming that the inspections were carried out by State Troopers
(the TSA agents were there to try to recruit truck drivers into
becoming snitches for the 'See Something, Say Something' campaign),
and that the checkpoints were merely temporary.

In reality, the program was the latest phase of the TSA's rapidly
expanding VIPR program, under which TSA agents have been deployed
to shake down Americans at everywhere from bus depots, to ferry
terminals, to train stations, in one instance conducting pat downs
of passengers, including children, who had already completed their
journey when arriving in Savannah.
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Dumbing Down

The US schools with their own police

More and more US schools have police patrolling the corridors.

Pupils are being arrested for throwing paper planes and failing to
pick up crumbs from the canteen floor. Why is the state criminalising
normal childhood behaviour?

The charge on the police docket was "disrupting class". But that's
not how 12-year-old Sarah Bustamantes saw her arrest for spraying
two bursts of perfume on her neck in class because other children
were bullying her with taunts of "you smell".

"I'm weird. Other kids don't like me," said Sarah, who has been
diagnosed with attention-deficit and bipolar disorders and who is
conscious of being overweight. "They were saying a lot of rude things
to me. Just picking on me. So I sprayed myself with perfume. Then
they said: 'Put that away, that's the most terrible smell I've ever
smelled.' Then the teacher called the police."

The policeman didn't have far to come. He patrols the corridors
of Sarah's school, Fulmore Middle in Austin, Texas. Like hundreds
of schools in the state, and across large parts of the rest of
the US, Fulmore Middle has its own police force with officers in
uniform who carry guns to keep order in the canteens, playgrounds
and lessons. Sarah was taken from class, charged with a criminal
misdemeanour and ordered to appear in court.

Each day, hundreds of schoolchildren appear before courts in Texas
charged with offences such as swearing, misbehaving on the school
bus or getting in to a punch-up in the playground. Children have
been arrested for possessing cigarettes, wearing "inappropriate"
clothes and being late for school.

In 2010, the police gave close to 300,000 "Class C misdemeanour"
tickets to children as young as six in Texas for offences in and out
of school, which result in fines, community service and even prison
time. What was once handled with a telling-off by the teacher or
a call to parents can now result in arrest and a record that may
cost a young person a place in college or a job years later.

"We've taken childhood behaviour and made it criminal," said Kady
Simpkins, a lawyer who represented Sarah Bustamantes. "They're
kids. Disruption of class? Every time I look at this law I think:
good lord, I never would have made it in school in the US. I grew up
in Australia and it's just rowdy there. I don't know how these kids
do it, how they go to school every day without breaking these laws."

The British government is studying the American experience in
dealing with gangs, unruly young people and juvenile justice in the
wake of the riots in England. The UK's justice minister, Crispin
Blunt, visited Texas last September to study juvenile courts and
prisons, youth gangs and police outreach in schools, among other
things. But his trip came at a time when Texas is reassessing its
own reaction to fears of feral youth that critics say has created a
"school-to-prison pipeline". The Texas supreme court chief justice,
Wallace Jefferson, has warned that "charging kids with criminal
offences for low-level behavioural issues" is helping to drive many
of them to a life in jail.

The Texas state legislature last year changed the law to stop
the issuing of tickets to 10- and 11-year-olds over classroom
behaviour. (In the state, the age of criminal responsibility is
10.) But a broader bill to end the practice entirely - championed by
a state senator, John Whitmire, who called the system "ridiculous" -
failed to pass and cannot be considered again for another two years.

Even the federal government has waded in, with the US attorney
general, Eric Holder, saying of criminal citations being used to
maintain discipline in schools: "That is something that clearly
has to stop."

As almost every parent of a child drawn in to the legal labyrinth
by school policing observes, it wasn't this way when they were young.

The emphasis on law and order in the classroom parallels more than
two decades of rapid expansion of all areas of policing in Texas in
response to misplaced fears across the US in the 1980s of a looming
crime wave stoked by the crack epidemic, alarmist academic studies
and the media.

"It's very much tied in with some of the hyperbole around the rise
in juvenile crime rate that took place back in the early 90s,"
said Deborah Fowler, deputy director of Texas Appleseed, an Austin
legal rights group, and principal author of a 200-page study of the
consequences of policing in Texas schools. "They ushered in tough,
punitive policies. It was all part of the tough-on-crime movement."

Part of that included the passing of laws that made the US the
only developed country to lock up children as young as 13 for life
without the possibility of parole, often as accomplices to murders
committed by an adult.

As the hand of law and order grew heavier across Texas, its grip
also tightened on schools. The number of school districts in the
state with police departments has risen more than 20-fold over the
past two decades.

"Zero tolerance started out as a term that was used in combating drug
trafficking and it became a term that is now used widely when you're
referring to some very punitive school discipline measures. Those
two policy worlds became conflated with each other," said Fowler.

In the midst of that drive came the 1999 Columbine high school
massacre, in which two students in Colorado shot dead 12 other
pupils and a teacher before killing themselves. Parents clamoured
for someone to protect their children and police in schools seemed
to many to be the answer.

But most schools do not face any serious threat of violence and
police officers patrolling the corridors and canteens are largely
confronted with little more than boisterous or disrespectful
childhood behaviour.

"What we see often is a real overreaction to behaviour that others
would generally think of as just childish misbehaviour rather than
law breaking," said Fowler. Tickets are most frequently issued by
school police for "disruption of class", which can mean causing
problems during lessons but is also defined as disruptive behaviour
within 500ft (150 metres) of school property such as shouting,
which is classified as "making an unreasonable noise".

Among the more extreme cases documented by Appleseed is of a
teacher who had a pupil arrested after the child responded to a
question as to where a word could be found in a text by saying:
"In your culo (arse)", making the other children laugh. Another
pupil was arrested for throwing paper aeroplanes.

Students are also regularly fined for "disorderly behaviour", which
includes playground scraps not serious enough to warrant an assault
charge or for swearing or an offensive gesture. One teenage student
was arrested and sent to court in Houston after he and his girlfriend
poured milk on each other after they broke up. Nearly one third of
tickets involve drugs or alcohol. Although a relatively high number
of tickets - up to 20% in some school districts - involve charges
over the use of weapons, mostly the weapons used were fists.

The very young are not spared. According to Appleseed, Texas records
show more than 1,000 tickets were issued to primary schoolchildren
over the past six years (although these have no legal force at that
age). Appleseed said that "several districts ticketed a six-year-old
at least once in the last five years".

Fines run up to $500. For poorer parents, the cost can be
crippling. Some parents and students ignore the financial penalty,
but that can have consequences years down the road. Schoolchildren
with outstanding fines are regularly jailed in an adult prison for
non-payment once they turn 17. Stumping up the fine is not an end
to the offending student's problems either. A class-C misdemeanour
is a criminal offence.

"Once you pay it, that's a guilty plea and that's on your record,"
said Simpkins. "In the US we have these astronomical college
and university expenses and you go to fill out the application
to get your federal aid for that and it says have you ever been
arrested. And there you are, no aid."

In Austin, about 3% of the school district's 80,000 pupils were
given criminal citations in the 2007/8 school year, the last date
for which figures are available. But the chances of a teenager
receiving a ticket in any given year are much higher than that
because citations are generally issued to high-school pupils,
not those in kindergarten or primary school.

The result, says the Appleseed report, is that "school-to-prison
pipeline" in which a high proportion of children who receive tickets
and end up in front of a court are arrested time and again because
they are then marked out as troublemakers or find their future
blighted by a criminal record.

From her perch on the bench in an Austin courtroom, Judge Jeanne
Meurer has spent close on 30 years dealing with children hauled up
for infractions, some serious, others minor. Some of the difficulties
faced by teachers can be seen as Meurer decides whether a parade of
children should be released to await trial or held in custody. Meurer
switches between motherly and intimidating depending on what she
makes of the child before her.

"Some of them are rough kids," she said. "I've been on the bench
30 years and you used to never have a child cuss you out like you
do now. I appreciate the frustrations that adults have in dealing
with children who seem to have no manners or respect. But these
are our future. Shouldn't we find a tool to change that dynamic
versus just arresting them in school and coming down with the hard
criminal justice hammer?"

Many of those who appear in front of Meurer have learning
problems. Children with disabilities are particularly vulnerable
to the consequences of police in schools.

Simpkins describes the case of a boy with attention deficit disorder
who as a 12-year-old tipped a desk over in class in a rage. He was
charged with threatening behaviour and sent to a juvenile prison
where he was required to earn his release by meeting certain
educational and behavioural standards.

"But he can't," she said. "Because of that he is turning 18 within
the juvenile justice system for something that happened when he was
12. It's a real trap. A lot of these kids do have disabilities and
that's how they end up there and can't get out. Instead of dealing
with it within school system like we used to, we have these school
police, they come in and it escalates from there."

Sometimes that escalation involves force. "We had one young man with
an IQ well below 70 who was pepper-sprayed in the hallway because he
didn't understand what the police were saying," said Simpkins. "After
they pepper-sprayed him he started swinging his arms around in pain
and he hit one of the police officers - it's on video, his eyes were
shut - and they charged him with assault of a public servant. He was
16. He was charged with two counts of assault of a public servant
and he is still awaiting trial. He could end up in prison."

Austin's school police department is well armed with officers
carrying guns and pepper spray, and with dog units on call for
sniffing out drugs and explosives.

According to the department's records, officers used force in
schools more than 400 times in the five years to 2008, including
incidents in which pepper spray was fired to break up a food fight
in a canteen and guns were drawn on lippy students.

In recent months the questionable use of force has included
the tasering of a 16-year-old boy at a high school in Seguin,
Texas, after "he refused to cooperate" when asked why he wasn't
wearing his school identification tag. He then used "abusive
language". The police said that when an officer tried to arrest
the boy, he attempted to bite the policeman. The youth was charged
with resisting arrest and criminal trespass even though the school
acknowledges he is a student and was legitimately on the grounds.

Such cases are not limited to Texas. In one notorious instance in
California, a school security officer broke the arm of a girl he
was arresting for failing to clear up crumbs after dropping cake
in the school canteen. In another incident, University of Florida
campus police tasered a student for pressing Senator John Kerry with
an awkward question at a debate after he had been told to shut up.

Sometimes the force is deadly. Last week, Texas police were
accused of overreacting in shooting dead a 15-year-old student,
Jaime Gonzalez, at a school in Brownsville after he pointed an air
gun, which resembled a real pistol, at them outside the principal's
office. The boy's father, also called Jaime, said the police were
too quick to shoot to kill when they could have wounded him or
used another means to arrest him. "If they would have tased him all
this wouldn't have happened," he told the Brownsville Herald. "Like
people say there's been stand-offs with people that have hostages
for hours ... But here, they didn't even give I don't think five
minutes. No negotiating." The police say Gonzalez defied orders to
put the gun down.

Meurer says she is not against police in schools but questions
whether officers should regard patrolling the playground the same
way they go about addressing crime on the streets.

"When you start going overboard and using laws to control
non-illegal behaviour - I mean if any adult did it it's not going
to be a violation - that's where we start seeing a problem," she
says. "You've gradually seen this morphing from schools taking care
of their own environments to the police and security personnel,
and all of a sudden it just became more and more that we were
relying on law enforcement to control everyday behaviour."

Chief Brian Allen, head of the school police department for the
Aldine district and president of the Texas school police chiefs'
association, is having none of it.

"There's quite a substantial number of students that break the
law. In Texas and in the US, if you're issued a ticket, it's not
automatically that you're found guilty. You have an opportunity to
go before the judge and plead your case. If you're a teacher and a
kid that's twice as big as you comes up and hits you right in the
face, what are you going to do? Are you going to use your skills
that they taught you or are you going to call a police officer?"

But Allen concedes that the vast majority of incidents in which
the police become involved are for offences that regarded as little
more than misbehaviour elsewhere.

"Just like anything else, sometimes mistakes are made." he
said. "Each circumstance is different and there's no set
guideline. There's also something called officer discretion. If
you take five auto mechanics and ask them to diagnose the problem
of a vehicle, you'll come up with five different solutions. If you
ask five different doctors to diagnose a patient, a lot of times
you'll have five different diagnoses. Conversely, if you ask five
different police officers if they would write a ticket or not for
the same offence, you possibly have five different answers."

Parents who have been sucked into the system, such as Jennifer Rambo,
the mother of Sarah Bustamantes, wonder what happened to teachers
taking responsibility for school discipline.

"I was very upset at the teacher because the teacher could have just
stopped it. She could have said: OK class, that's enough. She could
have asked Sarah for her perfume and told her that's inappropriate,
don't do that in class. But she did none of that. She called the
police," she says.

Politicians and civil liberties groups have raised the same question,
asking if schools are not using the police to shift responsibility,
and accountability, for discipline.

"Teachers rely on the police to enforce discipline," says
Simpkins. "Part of it is that they're not accountable. They're not
going to get into trouble for it. The parent can't come in and yell
at them. They say: it's not us, it's the police."

That view is not shared by an Austin teacher who declined to be
named because he said he did not want to stigmatise the children
in his class.

"There's this illusion that it's just a few kids acting up; kids
being kids. This is not the 50s. Too many parents today don't
control their children. Their fathers aren't around. They're in
gangs. They come in to the classroom and they have no respect, no
self-discipline. They're doing badly, they don't want to learn,
they just want to disrupt. They can be very threatening," he
says. "The police get called because that way the teacher can go
on with teaching instead of wasting half the class dealing with
one child, and it sends a message to the other kids."

The Texas State Teachers Association, the state's main teachers
union, did not take a position on ticketing at the recent debate
in the legislature over Whitmire's proposal to scrap it. But the
association's Clay Robison says that most teachers welcome the
presence of police in schools.

"Obviously it looks as if some police officers are overreacting at
some schools. I'm a parent and I wouldn't want my 17-year-old son
hauled in to court if he and another student got in to an argument
in a cafeteria. Police officers need to exercise a little bit of
common sense but the police are what they are. They enforce the
law," he says. "At the same time, years ago, at a school in one of
the better neighbourhoods of Austin, a teacher was shot to death
in his classroom. It's still a very rare occurrence but it does
happen. Anything that increases the security of the teacher is
good so they don't have to worry about personal safety and they
can concentrate on teaching the kids. We get complaints from some
teachers that the police aren't aggressive enough at moving against
some of the older juveniles, those that they feel actually do pose
a danger to the teachers or the other students."

Because of Sarah Bustamentes's mental disorders, a disability rights
group took up her case and after months of legal battles prosecutors
dropped the charges. Ask her how she feels about police in schools
after her experience and she's equivocal.

"We need police in school. In my school it can get physical and it
can turn out very bad," she says. "But they should stop issuing
tickets. Only for physical stuff or bullying. Not what you do
in class."
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Dumb signs -

Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline
- Rethinking Schools

"Every man in my family has been locked up. Most days I feel like
it doesn't matter what I do, how hard I try - that's my fate, too."
- 11th-grade African American student, Berkeley, California

This young man isn't being cynical or melodramatic; he's
articulating a terrifying reality for many of the children and
youth sitting in our classrooms-a reality that is often invisible or
misunderstood. Some have seen the growing numbers of security guards
and police in our schools as unfortunate but necessary responses to
the behavior of children from poor, crime-ridden neighborhoods. But
what if something more ominous is happening?

What if many of our students-particularly our African American,
Latina/o, Native American, and Southeast Asian children-are being
channeled toward prison and a lifetime of second-class status?

We believe that this is the case, and there is ample evidence to
support that claim. What has come to be called the "school-to-prison
pipeline" is turning too many schools into pathways to incarceration
rather than opportunity. This trend has extraordinary implications
for teachers and education activists. It affects everything from
what we teach to how we build community in our classrooms, how
we deal with conflicts with and among our students, how we build
coalitions, and what demands we see as central to the fight for
social justice education.

What Is the School-to-Prison Pipeline?
The school-to-prison pipeline begins in deep social and economic
inequalities, and has taken root in the historic shortcomings of
schooling in this country. The civil and human rights movements
of the 1960s and '70s spurred an effort to "rethink schools"
to make them responsive to the needs of all students, their
families, and communities. This rethinking included collaborative
learning environments, multicultural curriculum, student-centered,
experiential pedagogy-we were aiming for education as liberation. The
back-to-basics backlash against that struggle has been more rigid
enforcement of ever more alienating curriculum.

The "zero tolerance" policies that today are the most extreme form
of this punishment paradigm were originally written for the war on
drugs in the early 1980s, and later applied to schools. As Annette
Fuentes explains, the resulting extraordinary rates of suspension
and expulsion are linked nationally to increasing police presence,
checkpoints, and surveillance inside schools.

As police have set up shop in schools across the country, the
definition of what is a crime as opposed to a teachable moment has
changed in extraordinary ways. In one middle school we're familiar
with, a teacher routinely allowed her students to take single pieces
of candy from a big container she kept on her desk. One day, several
girls grabbed handfuls. The teacher promptly sent them to the police
officer assigned to the school. What formerly would have been an
opportunity to have a conversation about a minor transgression
instead became a law enforcement issue.

Children are being branded as criminals at ever-younger ages. Zero
Tolerance in Philadelphia, a recent report by Youth United for
Change and the Advancement Project, offers an example:

Robert was an 11-year-old in 5th grade who, in his rush to get
to school on time, put on a dirty pair of pants from the laundry
basket. He did not notice that his Boy Scout pocketknife was in
one of the pockets until he got to school. He also did not notice
that it fell out when he was running in gym class. When the teacher
found it and asked whom it belonged to, Robert volunteered that it
was his, only to find himself in police custody minutes later. He
was arrested, suspended, and transferred to a disciplinary school.
Early contact with police in schools often sets students on a path
of alienation, suspension, expulsion, and arrests. George Galvis,
an Oakland, Calif., prison activist and youth organizer, described
his first experience with police at his school: "I was 11. There
was a fight and I got called to the office. The cop punched me in
the face. I looked at my principal and he was just standing there,
not saying anything. That totally broke my trust in school as a
place that was safe for me."

Galvis added: "The more police there are in the school, walking the
halls and looking at surveillance tapes, the more what constitutes
a crime escalates. And what is seen as 'how kids act' vs. criminal
behavior has a lot to do with race. I always think about the
fistfights that break out between fraternities at the Cal campus,
and how those fights are seen as opposed to what the police see as
gang-related fights, even if the behavior is the same."

Mass Incarceration: A Civil Rights Crisis
The growth of the school-to-prison pipeline is part of a larger
crisis. Since 1970, the U.S. prison population has exploded from
about 325,000 people to more than 2 million today. According to
Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration
in the Age of Color Blindness, this is a phenomenon that cannot be
explained by crime rates or drug use. According to Human Rights Watch
(Punishment and Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs,
2000) although whites are more likely to violate drug laws than
people of color, in some states black men have been admitted to
prison on drug charges at rates 20 to 50 times greater than those of
white men. Latina/os, Native Americans, and other people of color
are also imprisoned at rates far higher than their representation
in the population. Once released, former prisoners are caught in a
web of laws and regulations that make it difficult or impossible to
secure jobs, education, housing, and public assistance-and often to
vote or serve on juries. Alexander calls this permanent second-class
citizenship a new form of segregation.

The impact of mass incarceration is devastating for children
and youth. More than 7 million children have a family member
incarcerated, on probation, or on parole. Many of these children
live with enormous stress, emotional pain, and uncertainty. Luis
Esparza describes the impact on his life in Project WHAT!'s Resource
Guide for Teens with a Parent in Prison or Jail:

After [my dad] went to jail I kept to myself a lot-became the quiet
kid that no one noticed and no one really cared about. At one point
I didn't even have any friends. No one talked to me, so I didn't
have to say anything about my life. . . . Inside I feel sad and
angry. In this world, no one wants to see that, so I keep it all
to myself. (See Haniyah's Story and Sokolower.)

Revising the Curriculum
As we at Rethinking Schools began to study and discuss these
issues, we realized the huge implications for curriculum. Many
of us, as social justice educators, have developed strong class
activities teaching the Civil Rights Movement. But few of us teach
regularly about the racial realities of the current criminal justice
system. Textbooks mostly ignore the subject. For example, Pearson
Prentice Hall's United States History is a hefty 1,264 pages long,
but says nothing about the startling growth in the prison population
in the past 40 years.

Mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline are among the
primary forms that racial oppression currently takes in the United
States. As such, they deserve a central place in the curriculum. We
need to bring this all-too-common experience out of the shadows
and make it as visible in the curriculum as it is in so many
students' lives. As Alexander begins to explore in our interview,
it is a challenge to engage students in these issues in ways that
build critical thinking and determination rather than cynicism or
despair, but a challenge we urgently need to take on. Aparna Lakshmi,
a Boston high school teacher, offers an example.

'Accountability' and Criminalization
The school-to-prison pipeline is really a classroom-to-prison
pipeline. A student's trajectory to a criminalized life often begins
with a curriculum that disrespects children's lives and that does
not center on things that matter.

Last spring Federal Policy, ESEA Reauthorization, and the
School-to-Prison Pipeline, a collaborative study by research,
education, civil rights, and juvenile justice organizations, linked
the policies of No Child Left Behind and the "accountability"
movement to the pipeline. According to George Wood, executive
director of the Forum for Education and Democracy:

By focusing accountability almost exclusively on test scores and
attaching high stakes to them, NCLB has given schools a perverse
incentive to allow or even encourage students to leave.

A FairTest factsheet cites findings that schools in Florida gave
low-scoring students longer suspensions than high-scoring students
for similar infractions, while in Ohio students with disabilities
were twice as likely to be suspended out of school than their
peers. A recent report from the Advancement Project noted that,
since the passage of NCLB in 2002, 73 of the largest 100 districts
in the United States "have seen their graduation rates decline-often
precipitously. Of those 100 districts, which serve 40 percent of
all students of color in the United States, 67 districts failed to
graduate two-thirds of their students."

The more that schools-and now individual teachers-are assessed,
rewarded, and fired on the basis of student test scores, the
more incentive there is to push out students who bring down those
scores. And the more schools become test-prep academies as opposed
to communities committed to everyone's success, the more hostile
and regimented the atmosphere becomes-the more like prison. (This
school-as-prison culture is considerably more common in schools
populated by children of color in poor communities as opposed
to majority-white, middle-class schools, creating what Jonathan
Kozol calls "educational apartheid.") The rigid focus on test prep
and scripted curriculum means that teachers need students to be
compliant, quiet, in their seats, and willing to learn by rote
for long periods of time. Security guards, cops in the hall, and
score-conscious administrations suspend and expel "problem learners."

Schools without compassion or understanding occupy communities
instead of serve them. As our society accelerates punishment as a
central paradigm-from death penalty executions to drone strikes
in Pakistan and Yemen-the regimentation and criminalization of
our children, particularly children of color, can only be seen as
training for the future.

Linda Christensen describes the dangerous pull of high-stakes
testing on even the most seasoned teachers, and the powerful role
of student-centered curriculum as resistance.

Education Activists and the Pipeline
As teachers and education activists, many of us are active in the
fight to save and transform public schools-building campaigns to end
standardized testing, to protect our union rights, to prevent the
privatization of the public school system. At education conferences,
there are often well-attended workshops on the criminalization of
youth or related topics.

But the movement to end the school-to-prison pipeline and the
movement to defend and transform public education are too often
separate. This must be one movement-for social justice education-that
encompasses both an end to the school-to-prison pipeline and the
fight to save and transform public education. We cannot build safe,
creative, nurturing schools and criminalize our children at the
same time.

Teachers, students, parents, and administrators have begun to
fight back against zero tolerance policies-pushing to get rid of
zero tolerance laws, and creating alternative approaches to safe
school communities that rely on restorative justice and community
building instead of criminalization. (See Haga.) A critical piece
of that struggle is defying the regimen of scripted curriculum and
standardized tests, and building in its place creative, empowering
school cultures centered on the lives and needs of our students
and their families.

Some of the most exciting work with youth is being built around
campaigns to stop police harassment in schools and on the streets,
stop gang injunction legislation that criminalizes young people on
the basis of what they wear or where they live, and increase budgets
for education and social services instead of law and order. Youth
provide leadership in these movements in ways that are different
from what we often see in classrooms. Learning from these campaigns
and making the critical connections to our own work will enable us
to build a viable, principled movement for public education.

Our resistance grows from classrooms that are grounded in our
students' lives-academically rigorous and also participatory,
critical, culturally sensitive, experiential, kind, and joyful. When
combined with a determination to fight the school-to-prison pipeline
at every level, that resistance has enormous capacity to build and
sustain true social justice education.
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Dumb facts

Calling Out Telecom USA
- J.A. Myerson

My father got a bill Saturday from Telecom USA for $68.65 for three
collect calls - 3 minutes, 2 minutes and 2 minutes - on November 17,
when I called him three times from the holding cell at One Police
Plaza in New York City. That's just shy of $10 a minute.
The people who make calls from One Police Plaza are mostly
poor. Their possessions have been confiscated, they're sitting
in a disgusting cage breathing urine fumes while police fill
out paperwork, and they haven't been charged with anything - not
arraigned, not booked, nothing. And in order to get through to
anyone, even just for one minute, the prisoners have to dock their
families ten bucks.

Telecom USA is a subsidiary of MCI, which itself is a subsidiary
of Verizon. It specializes in small services, advertised to
working-class people on grounds that they're inexpensive. "Minute
Pass" is written about on Telecom USA's web site as "The prepaid
card with great rates - home and away. Get rates as low as 3¢
a minute and your minutes never expire. Get 100 BONUS minutes on
your first recharge!" "TalkSmarterUSA" is "a long distance plan
with no frills and no long-term commitment. Just cost-effective
calling and a reliable coast-to-coast network."

But the thing for which Telecom USA is most well known
is 10-10-321 and its successors, 10-10-220 and 10-10-900
( is an earlier Google search return for "Telecom USA"
than Popularized during Clinton's corporate
telecomm consolidation, these would enable you to "dial around"
your long-distance carrier to give you better rates on long distance
calls. The reason I know that is the same reason anyone who was
a child around the same time I was might: I remember how heavily
these features were advertised, big-time celebrity endorsements
and everything.

The cheap rates did not last as long as the memory of those
commercials, and anyone using the service out of habit will by now
have noticed that they're much more expensive these days, having
jumped 9.9 percent in 2001 and another 80 percent a year later. The
fact that wireless and a number of landline service plans don't
charge extra for long distance means that the people stuck using
these are the ones most vulnerable to scamming, the poor. 10-10-321
has a flat service rate of $0.20 per minute, which, through fees,
actually turns out to be $0.2276, if you can believe that. Anyone
wishing to complain is not, ironically, offered a telephone number
to call, but an email address. "We urge you to contact us via E-mail
at with any questions you have" is the entirety
of the site's "Contact Us" section.

Basically, Telecom USA is the telecommunications equivalent
of a payday lender (small services offered to the poor and
packed with minutiae to rip them off), except it's owned by
Verizon, the telecommunications equivalent of a bailed-out
investment firm. Verizon is emblematic of the worst abuses of the
austerity-industrial complex, dodging taxes, claiming rebates,
spending tens of millions on lobbying, laying off thousands of
workers, giving its executives exorbitant bonuses, turning over
millions of call records to government spies and championing
Internet-restricting legislative measures.

An email request for information on Telecom USA's involvement in my
call (through the phone in jail, through 1-800-COLLECT or through
my father's service provider) was not immediately answered. Nor
did Verizon respond to a request for comment. But that's for the
same reason as the lack of redress for the grievances of striking
Verizon workers: capital is not interested in making nice with
its employees and consumers - if HQ is yielding huge profits,
everything is fine. The ownership class' diplomacy is relegated to
a whole different sphere of economic activity than 99 percent of us
will ever know. For instance, in 2008, AT&T Mobility and Verizon
Wireless completed a wireless asset swap, "following regulatory
approval from the FCC and Department of Justice."

Under the terms of the agreement, AT&T Mobility acquired some former
Rural Cellular Corporation properties previously acquired by Verizon
Wireless, including licenses, network assets and subscribers, in
the Burlington, Vermont, metropolitan service area and in rural
service areas (RSAs) in New York (RSA-2), Vermont (RSA-1, RSA-2)
and Washington (RSA-2, RSA-3). AT&T also acquired a cellular license
from Verizon Wireless in portions of Kentucky (RSA-6).

Also under the terms of the agreement, Verizon Wireless acquired
from AT&T Mobility some former Dobson Communications Corporation
properties, including licenses, network assets and subscribers,
in Kentucky (RSA-6 and RSA-8). Verizon Wireless also acquired ten
MHz of PCS spectrum in a number of areas and received an additional
cash consideration from AT&T Mobility. These transactions satisfy
the divestiture requirements related to AT&T Mobility's acquisition
of Dobson last year.

These companies are in the business of swapping entire regional
markets; they do not have time to worry about the paupers and debt
peons waiting endlessly in a holding cell in New York City, and
they do not have time to worry about the communications workers
whose livelihoods are at stake.

This is the face of America right now: a bill from the corporate
giant who has ensured that you can't go to jail for protesting
corporate governance without it extracting $68.65 from you.

Later in the week of these events, I got the following email from
my father: So, I call Telecom USA to speak to a "customer care
representative" about why they charge $68.65 for three collect calls
totaling seven minutes. She asks me if I've sent the payment yet. I
said no, I didn't intend to. She says, "Well, since you haven't sent
the payment yet, we can offer you a one-time courtesy charge of
only ..." Then she disappears for about 30 seconds to consult her
computer and comes back with, " ... only $24.02." This 65 percent
off "one-time courtesy charge" gives some indication of what an
enormous rip-off these maggots are making.
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*** Dumb criminal acts

The TSA Proves its Own Irrelevance

Have you wondered what $1.2 billion in airport security gets you? The
TSA has compiled its own "Top 10 Good Catches of 2011":

10) Snakes, turtles, and birds were found at Miami (MIA) and Los
Angeles (LAX). I'm just happy there weren't any lions, tigers,
and bears...

3) Over 1,200 firearms were discovered at TSA checkpoints across
the nation in 2011. Many guns are found loaded with rounds in the
chamber. Most passengers simply state they forgot they had a gun
in their bag.

2) A loaded .380 pistol was found strapped to passenger's ankle
with the body scanner at Detroit (DTW). You guessed it, he forgot
it was there...

1) Small chunks of C4 explosives were found in passenger's checked
luggage in Yuma (YUM). Believe it or not, he was bringing it home
to show his family.

That's right; not a single terrorist on the list. Mostly forgetful,
and entirely innocent, people. Note that they fail to point out
that the firearms and knives would have been just as easily caught
by pre-9/11 screening procedures. And that the C4 -- their #1
"good catch" -- was on the return flight; they missed it the first
time. So only 1 for 2 on that one.

And the TSA decided not to mention its stupidest confiscations:

* TSA confiscates a butter knife from an airline pilot. TSA
* confiscates a teenage girl's purse with an embroidered handgun design.
* TSA confiscates a 4-inch plastic rifle from a GI Joe action doll
on the grounds that it's a "replica weapon."
* TSA confiscates a liquid-filled baby rattle from airline pilot's
infant daughter.
* TSA confiscates a plastic "Star Wars" lightsaber from a toddler.

The TSA's Top 10 Good Catches of 2011:

The TSA missed the C4 the first time.

TSA stupid confiscations:


The Vanity Fair article:

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Dumbing Down Award of the month

This months award goes to...

Cat put down because owner couldn't pay vet bill on the spot
- Arthur Weinreb

The Arizona Humane Society has admitted it put down a nine-month-old
cat because the owner could not immediately pay the estimated $400
to treat her.

Daniel Dockery, 49, of Phoenix, is trying to kick his heroin
addiction. Nine months ago he took in a stray kitten and found
looking after "Scruffy" helped him with his own problems. Dockery
had been feeding Scruffy by hand since she was four days old. The
ex-con, who works as a caretaker, saved up his money to have his
pet spayed. Scruffy was described as his "closest companion."

On Dec. 8, Scruffy cut herself on a barbed-wire fence and Dockery
rushed her to the nearest veterinary clinic - a branch of the
Arizona Humane Society. He was told it would cost $400 to treat
the laceration the cat received and that Dockery had to pay that
amount then and there. He didn't have it.

According to the Arizona Republic, Dockery asked for 24 hours so
that his mother in Michigan could wire the money to him. The Humane
Society refused. Dockery phoned his mother from the clinic and she
offered to give them her credit card number over the telephone. The
Humane Society again refused. Dockery was told the only way Scruffy
would be treated is if Dockery surrendered his pet to the Society
and gave up all ownership to her.

Knowing that Scruffy was in pain from her injury, he agreed. When
asked how he could get her back, the Society refused to give him
a straight answer. He never saw Scruffy again.

Last Saturday, the Arizona Republic ran a story about
Dockery. According to the newspaper, they received at least
150 emails expressing anger at the Humane Society for what
happened. There were also offers of money, kittens and even free
veterinary care. Angry comments were made about the way Dockery and
Scruffy were treated on the newspaper's website and on the Humane
Society's Facebook page.

Yesterday, the Arizona Humane Society admitted that Scruffy was
euthanized within hours of coming into their care. The reason
cited was the lack of resources. After finding out what happened,
Dockery said, "I failed her... There was no reason for her not to
be treated."

Dockery's mother believes the Humane Society thought her son was
homeless and unable to care for the cat and that was the reason for
rejecting the alternate funding arrangements. Many people are vowing
to withdraw their support for the Arizona Humane Society. But even
though angry, Dockery showed a lot of class. He said,
"I don't want to turn people away from the Humane Society. They do
do good work."

The Arizona Humane Society is reviewing its policy of not accepting
credit card payments on the phone.
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*** Unbelievable Dumbing Down

Confiscating Condoms? The Dumbfounding Ways Police Deal With

Each year, scores of new laws are proposed to make prostitution
somehow even more illegal than it already is.

It's not enough for some lawmakers that for the better part
of a century, selling and buying sex has been illegal in every
state of the union. (The exception is the system of legalized
brothels dotting a handful of low-population counties in Nevada,
the existence of which has done little to deter an underground,
illegal sex trade.) Each year, scores of new laws are proposed to
make prostitution somehow even more illegal than it already is.

These laws against prostitution don't simply increase penalties for
buying or selling sex; they extend to creating criminal consequences
for every aspect of sex workers' lives. After just one prostitution
arrest, a person can be denied a job, an apartment, or the right
to parent her children. She could find herself followed by police
just for leaving her home.

Though it's now fashionable for some anti-prostitution activists
and lawmakers to position these laws as being of aid to prostitutes,
there is absolutely no moral or legal basis for arresting and jailing
a person "for her own good." Yet this is what we have been told about
sex workers: that the conditions of prostitution are so horrific
that a jail cell is preferable. For sex workers who escape that
cell, they still must face the consequences of their prostitution
arrest, and in some cases, for the rest of their lives. Today's new
anti-prostitution laws don't stop anyone from buying or selling sex
- instead, they serve as tools for chipping away at people's rights
through profiling and surveillance, a 21st-century continuation of
the Scarlet Letter, establishing an entire underclass of people.

Prostitution-Free Zones
Across the United States, sex workers and people who have been
profiled as sex workers report being followed and stopped by
police under the pretense that anywhere a sex worker might go and
anything a sex worker might do in public will lead to a criminal
act. The District of Columbia has formalized this system of
profiling and surveillance through establishing "prostitution-free
zones." Under this law, the DC chief of police may declare any area
a prostitution-free zone for up to 10 days. This empowers officers
to arrest "two or more persons congregating in a public space or
property in that area for the purpose of engaging in prostitution
or prostitution-related offenses," whether or not they have actually
engaged in a crime. A prostitution-related offense includes loitering
for the purposes of prostitution - in other words, a vague crime
made only more criminal by the creation of a zone where it is even
more easy to accuse and arrest you for it. Consequences include up
to 180 days in jail and a $300 fine, or both.

In practice, these zones are used to give police the power to
sweep entire blocks of people into jail, and overwhelmingly, it
is women - women of color and transgender women in particular -
who are arrested and fined. The zones end up driving sex workers
even further underground, both to live and to work, into yet more
dangerous and outlying areas, so as to avoid police harassment. In
order to make prostitution invisible, sex workers' lives are made
more dangerous. When a local human rights organization, Different
Avenues, surveyed DC residents impacted by the zones in the years
following their adoption, they found that 80 percent of their
respondents had been refused assistance by the police even when
they sought it out. Transgender and Latino residents faced the
worst treatment from police. Street outreach workers attempting to
provide free healthcare were harassed by police in the zones.

DC police can't answer who exactly this law is aimed to serve
and protect, as it so clearly pits the health and welfare of some
of DC's most vulnerable residents against assumptive notions of
"public safety." How would they explain that being in public as
a sex worker is now so potentially disruptive or dangerous that
it must be classified as a crime? The threat of people who appear
to be prostitutes congregating is apparently so great that even
presidents are at risk; in January 2009, a prostitution-free zone
was declared in honor of the Obama inauguration.

The law is only more perverse when one considers what a real
prostitution-free zone might require in order to be maintained. How
far would DC residents wish law enforcement to go? Should they stop
and question everyone within the zone? Maybe just the women? Maybe
just the women of color? Or maybe just the women of color who "look
like prostitutes"? In reality, this is exactly how these laws are
used, and now DC is seeking to establish permanent prostitution-free
zones throughout the city.

Condoms As Evidence
With the prostitution-free zones, prostitution is understood to be
a crime of intent. No one is actually arrested in the act of having
or agreeing to have sex for compensation; only for appearing as if
they might do so. In the same vein, arresting officers in DC and
throughout the US routinely search people suspected of prostitution
for condoms, confiscating them as evidence of a crime. For some cops,
condoms serve the function that marijuana does in a stop-and-frisk
encounter (only there's no actual law against possessing or using
condoms), unless a cop thinks you might be a sex worker or otherwise
wants to move you along and into custody.

Sex workers and health and human rights advocates have pointed
out that it makes absolutely no sense for publicly funded police
departments to confiscate condoms that publicly funded health
departments make so widely available. Now in New York, sex workers
and allies are pushing for a statewide law prohibiting condoms
from being considered evidence of prostitution. Unsurprisingly,
this has not been an easy law to advocate for with law enforcement,
which claims that district attorneys and vice departments need
to be able to use condoms as evidence of prostitution in order
to build cases against suspected sex traffickers - even though
there's no evidence that condoms are a key indicator that someone
is a victim of trafficking. Meanwhile, while lawmakers fight over
this, the Sex Workers' Project reports that "people are hesitant
to carry condoms to protect themselves and others, for fear that
it will lead to arrest or be held against them in court."

The War on Trafficking
Under the guise of "fighting sex trafficking" policy makers and
advocates have proposed new laws and police practices that end up
targeting sex workers. This is part of a larger move to give police
expanded powers and budgets to track and arrest people involved in
the sex trade. As Emi Koyama wrote in a Bitch magazine investigation,
combatting forced labor in the sex trade is increasingly referred
to by advocates and policymakers as the "War on Trafficking."

Like the War on Terror before it, the War on Trafficking has
meant expanded police powers, including wiretapping of suspected
traffickers, as well as increased collaboration with federal agencies
with the power to indefinitely detain and deport people believed
to be involved in trafficking. Illinois is now the first state in
the nation to permit law enforcement to tap the phones of suspected
traffickers. In August 2011, Cook County police were the first to
use wiretapping to intercept thousands of phone calls in an alleged
sex trafficking case assisted by the Department of Justice, dubbed
"Operation Little Girl Lost."

However, Illinois' legal definition of a trafficker is so broad that
even nonprofit organizations could be considered traffickers for
giving any material aid -- food, clothing, shelter, even a Metrocard
-- to someone in the sex trade if that person is under the age of 18.

In addition, as in DC, young people in Illinois could be less
likely to seek out the support of these organizations. Through the
adoption of Secure Communities, now a young person picked up by
the police could end up being cross-referenced with a database of
immigration violations, and find herself and her family detained and
deported. With such broad-ranging police intervention in communities,
anti-prostitution laws become yet another reason for people to fear
the police.

Are anti-prostitution laws like these intended to fight for the
rights, safety and well-being of people involved in the sex trade? Or
are they premised solely on eradicating prostitution and putting
anyone involved in it behind bars? When advocates and policy makers
contend that they need more laws to "fight" anything involving
prostitution - even if they claim to be doing it to ensure human
rights - they must explain in whose interest these laws are. The
problem they face isn't that existing laws simply aren't tough
enough to fight prostitution; it's that there is very little
agreement about who that fight actually serves. The reality is,
people still engage in the sex trade knowing that doing so exposes
them to possible surveillance, arrest and incarceration. As the sex
trade persists in every regard despite the law, why would yet one
more law make a difference? Or would it only allow police to cast
their net further, jail more people, however they wish?
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*** Attract Government Spies by Tweeting These Words
- Courthouse News Service

Homeland Security spies on Facebook and Twitter users, recording
the activity of people who search for terms like "human to animal,"
"collapse" and "infection," according to an online privacy advocacy
group that has sued to peruse the agency's data.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) says Homeland
Security announced plans to monitor social media sites in February.

"The initiatives were designed to gather information from 'online
forums, blogs, public websites, and message boards,' to store and
analyze the information gathered, and then to 'disseminate relevant
and appropriate de-identified information to federal, state, local,
and foreign governments and private sector partners,'" according
to the federal complaint filed in Washington, D.C.

"Previously, DHS had developed surveillance initiatives of public
chats and other online forums concerning specific events, such as
the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2010 Winter Olympics,
and the April 2010 BP oil spill," EPIC also claims.

As part of the initiative, the agency would "establish [fictitious]
usernames and passwords" to spy on users and record their activities
based on a number of search terms, including "human to animal,"
"collapse," "outbreak," and "illegal immigrants," the complaint says.

Homeland Security regularly plans to report their findings
to "federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, foreign, or
international government partners," the privacy group says.

EPIC allegedly requested documents from Homeland Security in April
related to third-party contractors that work on social-media
monitoring. The companies included H.B. Gar Federal, Palantir
Technologies, and Berico Technologies, according to the complaint.
Homeland Security denied the request, and EPIC appealed the decision.

A request under the Freedom of Information Act to access the
documents has gone unanswered after the department forwarded it to
several components for processing and future response, according
to the federal complaint.

EPIC is represented by Ginger McCall, in-house counsel for the group.
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Cannon Fodder

Miami Has a Hearty Oi (Hello) for Free-Spending Brazilians
- The New York Times

Even in a city that has embraced so many waves of Latinos that
it is jokingly referred to as the only South American capital in
North America, no one group has been as courted and pampered as
the Brazilians.

Flush with cash from a booming economy and enamored of luxury,
Brazilians are visiting South Florida in droves and spending
millions of dollars on vacation condominiums, clothes, jewelry,
furniture, cars and art, all of which are much less expensive here
than in Brazil.

As a thank-you, Floridians are creating innovative ways to make the
Brazilians happy and to encourage them to keep dipping into their
wallets. Real estate agents, for example, have cobbled together
one-stop-shopping firms that offer interior decorating and concierge
services as well as legal advice and visa help. Some agents have
even opened offices in Brazil to simplify the process.

Aware that Brazilians will not spend freely unless they feel at home,
shopping malls have enticed them by hiring Portuguese-speaking sales
clerks to proffer Dolce & Gabbana dresses and Hublot watches. Even
Target has posted help-wanted signs in Portuguese.

Brazilian restaurants are also flourishing across Miami, including
a popular chain from Brazil - Giraffas - that includes Brazilian
cheese bread and special cuts of meat on the menu.

"Hola" and air kisses are still staples here, but "Oi" - a Brazilian
greeting - is making noticeable inroads.

"We come to Miami to invest because in my country housing is very
expensive," said Claudio Coppola Di Todaro, a hedge fund investor
from São Paulo who recently bought a condominium at Trump Towers
in Sunny Isles Beach and another at the Trump SoHo in Manhattan
(Brazilians also love New York). "We like Miami to go on vacation
a few times a year. Many Brazilians do this now."

While the United States and Europe continue to grapple
with recession, Brazil's economy gallops forward, powered
by exports, a growing manufacturing base and abundant natural
resources. Unemployment in October was 5.8 percent, and this week
it passed Britain to become the sixth-largest economy in the world.

Brand-conscious Brazilians love to use their money - cash, above
all - ranking first per capita in spending among the top 10 groups
of foreign visitors to the United States, a list that includes the
French, British and Germans. In all, 1.2 million Brazilians visited
in 2010 and spent $5.9 billion, or $4,940 for each visitor. Only
travelers from India and China outspent the Brazilians, but far
fewer visit, and they are not among the top 10.

The Commerce Department expects the total number of Brazilian
visitors will be even higher this year. Their economic impact
is so powerful that the travel, restaurant, lodging and retail
industries, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have been
lobbying Washington to let Brazilians travel here without visas,
as the citizens of the European Union countries do. In November,
the State Department agreed to add more consular officers to speed
up the visa process.

American Airlines now has 52 flights a week to Miami from five cities
in Brazil, and has applied for more routes. Because it receives
the highest number of visitors from Brazil, Florida has benefited
most from the country's new wealth and the expansion of its middle
class. Most of the Brazilians who come to the United States visit
Florida, and in the first nine months of this year, an estimated
1.1 million Brazilians spent $1.6 billion in the state, an increase
of nearly 60 percent from the previous year. Among foreign nations,
only Canada sends more visitors to Florida.

The Brazilians' money has helped resuscitate the real estate market
in Miami. Foreigners account for more than half of all property
sales in Miami, and condominium towers that once sat empty are
quickly selling out.

"Brazilians in many ways have been the saving grace here," said
Edgardo Defortuna, president of Fortune International Realty,
which has offices in Brazil and Miami. "Price is not much of an
issue for them."

Brazilians here slip into the Latin American lifestyle - late dinners
and familiar fashions, food familiar music. And the relative safety
of the United States is a bonus. Rio de Janeiro's murder rate,
while declining, is nearly triple of that in Miami.
Eager to shop and spend time with friends and family, extended
networks of Brazilians often buy condominiums in the same building,
like the W in South Beach.

"In Miami, they can come here and wear expensive watches and
drive their convertible cars, and nobody will cut your arm for a
piece of jewelry, like happens at home," said Alexandre Piquet,
a Brazilian lawyer for Piquet Realty, which was founded by his
brother, Cristiano, a well-known race-car driver. "Here we don't
have to worry about kids crossing the street and getting kidnapped,
some of the issues we still face down there. It's the reality."

Piquet Realty, founded in 2005 has doubled its business in the
past year, Cristiano Piquet said. Some apartments it sells come
fully furnished by Artefacto, a prominent Brazilian furniture
designer. If Brazilians need help with legal transactions, tax
matters or immigration advice, the firm offers that, too. If a
customer wants a Ferrari, Piquet Realty arranges it.

Like so many businesses in South Florida, the firm aggressively
promotes itself in Brazil, as does Miami's tourism board and
Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, who traveled to Brazil this year on a
trade mission.

Now, Orlando is trying to lure Brazilians, who prefer the city's
outlet malls over its theme parks. Pegasus Transportation operates
regular shopping tours, bringing thousands of Brazilians to the
malls. The Tommy Hilfiger clothing outlet and H.H. Gregg electronic
store open early just for them.

"They are buying everything imaginable," said Claudia Menezes,
vice president of Pegasus. "Laptops, cameras, brand clothes -
lots of Prada and Louis Vuitton."

This zest for spreading cash is the main reason why the visa battle
is beginning to resonate on Capitol Hill.

There are only four American Consular offices in Brazil, a
country almost the size of the United States. To get a visa,
many Brazilian must travel long distances to be interviewed at a
consular office. Despite the onerous process, there were 820,000
visa applications this year, with an average wait of 50 days -
too long, tourism officials say.

Lobbyists are pressuring Congress and the State Department to change
the process. Barring that, they are pushing for more consular offices
and a pilot program that would screen visa applicants through video
conferences. Seven bills are pending in Congress on the visa issue.

In the meantime, tourism officials say, Europe siphons away a
large number of Brazilians because traveling there is so much
easier. Western Europe receives 52 percent of all Brazilians who
travel abroad and the United States 29 percent.

"You could probably double the number of Brazilians in the United
States" if visas were not required, said Patricia Rojas, a vice
president at the U.S. Travel Association. "We are at a complete
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Bug Bites:

Latest Anonymous Hack of Security Company Proves How Serious
Cyber-Activists Have Gotten

As long as western governments fail to live up to their ideals,
there will be those who are determined to embarrass them.

Over Christmas a busy, secretive group were at work, with their
own views on who had been naughty and nice. However it was not
Santa's elves, but the amorphous "Anonymous" collective making
the decisions. This group of hackers released a vast trove of
email addresses, passwords and credit card information belonging
to subscribers of the US intelligence company Stratfor - and the
hangover has carried on into the new year, with the release of MoD
and Nato officials' details.

Stratfor, an authority on strategic and tactical intelligence issues,
is considered by some to be a "shadow CIA", and provides intelligence
analysis and both private and public briefings on all manner of
issues. The release by Anonymous kicked off discussion about how
such a breach was possible at a high-profile company specialising in
all things security, as well as why it had attracted the attention
of Anonymous.

Many of the thousands of email addresses and personal details
belonged to people in sensitive posts within the defence and
intelligence communities. Although the publication of email addresses
(hardly state secrets) is not a threat in itself, their disclosure
can only be extremely embarrassing for a company selling itself as an
expert on security, while the release of passwords adds to the alarm.

But it is a mistake to talk of Anonymous's motives as if it were
a cohesive whole. The group is a loose collection of people with
different aims, involving themselves in different "operations"
as they see fit. It is leaderless, it doesn't have a manifesto,
it doesn't have a particular direction, nor does it go in only one
direction at any one time. Given that membership of Anonymous is
based entirely on self-identification, it seems that the only real
way of assessing the group as a whole is on the basis of the kinds
of actions it carries out. It is essentially a banner under which
hacktivists and tech-savvy individuals with a political or social
agenda can rally.

So why attack Stratfor? Well, as Anonymous put it, "to wreak unholy
havok [sic] upon the systems and personal email accounts of these
rich and powerful oppressors. Kill, kitties, kill and burn them
down ... peacefully. XD XD." Yet, despite the mischievous way it
expresses itself, a significant portion of Anonymous's focus is
political. It's not just about lulz or showing off any more. The
point of these actions is to draw attention to how companies such as
Stratfor, or organisations such as Nato are, in its view, "holders
of power in a world that has long been governed in accordance with
the dictate that might makes right".

The various Anonymous communication channels, and supporters, would
point to what they see as moves in the US to restrict liberty,
from the Bradley Manning case to the so-called Stop Online Piracy
Act, which will give unprecedented web censorship powers; from the
treatment of Occupy protesters to the National Defence Authorisation
Act opening up indefinite detention without trial. You don't need to
be a hacker to think that the US is more deserving of a restraining
order than a special relationship.

On this side of the Atlantic a recent government report on what it
insists on calling "cyber" security, names hacktivism explicitly as
a threat to national security. Yet nowhere is it made clear in the
objectives of that report what the Ministry of Defence or Home Office
are actually supposed to do about it. The omission may be sinister
or merely incompetent. But as the Nato and MoD leaks highlight the
porous nature of our online defences, taxpayers are entitled to
ask what we are getting for the GBP650m the national cyber security
programme costs. Or maybe not - after all, the lion's share of the
spending is going to GCHQ and is secret. For now.

I have pointed out before that if people feel that the usual
democratic routes are pointless they will find means of direct action
and protest. Many balk at Anonymous's apparent disregard for the
potential human collateral in their methods - but there is no denying
that its mix of satire and activism is a powerful combination.

As I am writing this, Stratfor's website reads: "Stratfor Global
Intelligence. As you may know, an unauthorised party illegally
obtained and disclosed personally identifiable information ... of
some of our subscribers." It looks laughably unintelligent. In one
fell swoop it exposes an uncomfortable truth that cyber-security
experts would have us pay through the nose to ignore: as long
as western governments fail to live up to their ideals and ours,
there will always remain those who are equally determined and able
to expose their secrets and embarrass those in power. The lulz just
got serious.

Over Christmas a busy, secretive group were at work, with their
own views on who had been naughty and nice. However it was
not Santa's elves, but the amorphous "Anonymous" collective
making the decisions. This group of hackers released a vast trove
of email addresses, passwords and credit card information belonging
to subscribers of the US intelligence company Stratfor - and the
hangover has carried on into the new year, with the release of MoD
and Nato officials' details.

Stratfor, an authority on strategic and tactical intelligence issues,
is considered by some to be a "shadow CIA", and provides intelligence
analysis and both private and public briefings on all manner of
issues. The release by Anonymous kicked off discussion about how
such a breach was possible at a high-profile company specialising in
all things security, as well as why it had attracted the attention
of Anonymous.

Many of the thousands of email addresses and personal details
belonged to people in sensitive posts within the defence and
intelligence communities. Although the publication of email addresses
(hardly state secrets) is not a threat in itself, their disclosure
can only be extremely embarrassing for a company selling itself as an
expert on security, while the release of passwords adds to the alarm.

But it is a mistake to talk of Anonymous's motives as if it were
a cohesive whole. The group is a loose collection of people with
different aims, involving themselves in different "operations"
as they see fit. It is leaderless, it doesn't have a manifesto,
it doesn't have a particular direction, nor does it go in only one
direction at any one time. Given that membership of Anonymous is
based entirely on self-identification, it seems that the only real
way of assessing the group as a whole is on the basis of the kinds
of actions it carries out. It is essentially a banner under which
hacktivists and tech-savvy individuals with a political or social
agenda can rally.

So why attack Stratfor? Well, as Anonymous put it, "to wreak unholy
havok [sic] upon the systems and personal email accounts of these
rich and powerful oppressors. Kill, kitties, kill and burn them
down ... peacefully. XD XD." Yet, despite the mischievous way it
expresses itself, a significant portion of Anonymous's focus is
political. It's not just aboutlulz or showing off any more. The
point of these actions is to draw attention to how companies such as
Stratfor, or organisations such as Nato are, in its view, "holders
of power in a world that has long been governed in accordance with
the dictate that might makes right".

The various Anonymous communication channels, and supporters, would
point to what they see as moves in the US to restrict liberty,
from the Bradley Manning case to the so-called Stop Online Piracy
Act, which will give unprecedented web censorship powers; from the
treatment of Occupy protesters to the National Defence Authorisation
Act opening up indefinite detention without trial. You don't need to
be a hacker to think that the US is more deserving of a restraining
order than a special relationship.

On this side of the Atlantic a recent government report on what it
insists on calling "cyber" security, names hacktivism explicitly as
a threat to national security. Yet nowhere is it made clear in the
objectives of that report what the Ministry of Defence or Home Office
are actually supposed to do about it. The omission may be sinister
or merely incompetent. But as the Nato and MoD leaks highlight the
porous nature of our online defences, taxpayers are entitled to
ask what we are getting for the £650m the national cyber security
programme costs. Or maybe not - after all, the lion's share of the
spending is going to GCHQ and is secret. For now.

I have pointed out before that if people feel that the usual
democratic routes are pointless they will find means of direct action
and protest. Many balk at Anonymous's apparent disregard for the
potential human collateral in their methods - but there is no denying
that its mix of satire and activism is a powerful combination.

As I am writing this, Stratfor's website reads: "Stratfor Global
Intelligence. As you may know, an unauthorised party illegally
obtained and disclosed personally identifiable information ... of
some of our subscribers." It looks laughably unintelligent. In one
fell swoop it exposes an uncomfortable truth that cyber-security
experts would have us pay through the nose to ignore: as long
as western governments fail to live up to their ideals and ours,
there will always remain those who are equally determined and able
to expose their secrets and embarrass those in power. The lulz just
got serious.

Loz Kaye is leader of Pirate Party UK. The Pirate Party is part of
a worldwide movement standing for freedom of the Internet, civil
liberties and a politics fit for the 21st century. He has spoken
widely on Wikileaks, digital rights and intellectual property, with
appearances on the BBC, CNN and Russia Today amongst others. He
tweets @LozKaye
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*** Do as we say, not as we do!

Romney Parks Millions in Cayman Islands
- Matthew Mosk, Brian Ross and Megan Chuchmach

Although it is not apparent on his financial disclosure form, Mitt
Romney has millions of dollars of his personal wealth in investment
funds set up in the Cayman Islands, a notorious Caribbean tax haven.

A spokesperson for the Romney campaign says Romney follows all tax
laws and he would pay the same in taxes regardless of where the
funds are based.

As the race for the Republican nomination heats up, Mitt Romney is
finding it increasingly difficult to maintain a shroud of secrecy
around the details about his vast personal wealth, including, as
ABC News has discovered, his investment in funds located offshore
and his ability to pay a lower tax rate.

"His personal finances are a poster child of what's wrong with the
American tax system," said Jack Blum, a Washington lawyer who is
an authority on tax enforcement and offshore banking.

On Tuesday, Romney disclosed that he has been paying a far lower
percentage in taxes than most Americans, around 15 percent of his
annual earnings. It has been Romney's Republican rivals who have
driven the tax issue onto center stage. For weeks, Romney has cited
a desire for privacy as his reason for not sharing his tax returns
-- a gesture of transparency that is now expected from presidential

"I can tell you we follow the tax laws," he said recently while on
the campaign trail in New Hampshire. "And if there's an opportunity
to save taxes, we like anybody else in this country will follow
that opportunity."

But tax experts tell ABC News there are other reasons Romney may
not want the public viewing his returns. As one of the wealthiest
candidates to run for president in recent times, Romney has used a
variety of techniques to help minimize the taxes on his estimated
$250 million fortune. In addition to paying the lower tax rate on
his investment income, Romney has as much as $8 million invested
in at least 12 funds listed on a Cayman Islands registry. Another
investment, which Romney reports as being worth between $5 million
and $25 million, shows up on securities records as having been
domiciled in the Caymans.

Official documents reviewed by ABC News show that Bain Capital,
the private equity partnership Romney once ran, has set up some
138 secretive offshore funds in the Caymans.

Romney campaign officials and those at Bain Capital tell ABC
News that the purpose of setting up those accounts in the Cayman
Islands is to help attract money from foreign investors, and that
the accounts provide no tax advantage to American investors like
Romney. Romney, the campaign said, has paid all U.S. taxes on income
derived from those investments.

"The tax consequences to the Romneys are the very same whether the
fund is domiciled here or another country," a campaign official
said in response to questions. "Gov. and Mrs. Romney have money
invested in funds that the trustee has determined to be attractive
investment opportunities, and those funds are domiciled wherever
the fund sponsors happen to organize the funds."

Bain officials called the decision to locate some funds offshore
routine, and a benefit only to foreign investors who do not want
to be subjected to U.S. taxes.

Tax experts agree that Romney remains subject to American taxes. But
they say the offshore accounts have provided him -- and Bain --
with other potential financial benefits, such as higher management
fees and greater foreign interest, all at the expense of the
U.S. Treasury. Rebecca J. Wilkins, a tax policy expert with Citizens
for Tax Justice, said the federal government loses an estimated
$100 billion a year because of tax havens.

Blum, the D.C. tax lawyer, said working through an offshore
investment vehicle allows the investor to "avoid a whole series of
small traps in the tax code that ordinary people would face if they
paid tax on an onshore basis."

Wilkins agreed, saying the "primary advantage to setting those
funds up in an offshore jurisdiction like the Cayman Islands or
Bermuda is it helps the investors avoid tax."

"It helps U.S. investors avoid U.S. tax," said Wilkins, "it helps
foreign investors avoid taxes in their home country, so it's not
illegal or improper to set those funds up in a foreign jurisdiction,
but it makes it more attractive to investors because it helps them
avoid paying taxes on that income."

Bain Accounts in the Cayman Islands
Bain's presence in the Cayman Islands is not something the firm
advertises. The Los Angeles Times first disclosed Romney's offshore
accounts in 2007, during his initial run for the presidency. ABC
News found references to the firm's accounts in the Caymans in the
footnotes of securities filings. When ABC News went to the office
address listed for Romney's Bain funds, lawyers in the Caymans were
not eager to answer questions.

Asked if he could confirm the existence of the Bain accounts,
David Byrne, the chief marketing officer for the law firm Walkers,
listed on documents as Bain's Caymans' representative, said he
could not. "No, I can't at all," said Byrne. "Unfortunately,
I can't comment at all on that."

There is now less secrecy than there was even two weeks ago
surrounding Romney's tax rate. The money he made through Bain
investments was taxed as capital gains at a 15 percent rate, instead
of the higher tax rates borne by most Americans. Newt Gingrich told
reporters Wednesday that his income was taxed at 31 percent.

The so-called "carried interest" rule has been the source of
extensive debate in Washington, with opponents criticizing the
allowance to tax those earnings at 15 percent a glaring loophole
that benefits only the wealthiest Americans. Under the carried
interest rule, income that is determined to be capital gains -
like the profit reaped by hedge fund managers -- is subject to the
lower 15 percent rate.

Wilkins said Romney's arrangements reminded her of the now famous
remarks by billionaire financier Warren Buffet, who revealed in
2007 that he was paying taxes at a lower rate than his receptionist.

"Well, I think it's the issue that is sort of on the front page
every day, when we look at the Occupy Wall Street movement and
that people are really losing patience with the idea that a lot of
multinational corporations have and a lot of wealthy people have
that while they benefit from everything this country has to offer
... they don't seem to be willing to pay their fair share," she said.
Romney, who left Bain in 1999, has confirmed that his earnings
largely come from investments, and the tax rate he pays is consistent
with that "because my last 10 years, my income comes overwhelmingly
from some investments made in the past, whether ordinary income or
earned annually. I got a little bit of income from my book, but I
gave that all away. And then I get speaker's fees from time to time,
but not very much."

Shamrock's Comment: Hypocrisy knows no bounds!
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Shamrock's Missive:

"A peek into the future can sometimes be best viewed by a good look
at the past!"
- Dr. Walter Belford, conversations December 2011

We thought that for this, our 18th anniversary, issue, we'd take
a look at the past and see what we wrote from our past missive,
circa January 2001, 12 years ago!

Bear in mind, the below article was written a full nine months
PRIOR to 9/11/2001!

From the Publisher's Desk, January 2001

Happy New Year from the terrocrats


Normally I limit my time in front of the one eyed monster
(television) to a few good movies and programs of interest. However
during the holidays I broke down and viewed more than my usual
share of the telly. One program of great interest was a biography
about Fidel Castro.

One is amazed that along with 85 others in a 30-foot boat, Castro
landed in Cuba and within ten years overthrew the (former) government
and has ruled Cuba with an iron fist ever since. Not that I admire
Castro, but he does have tenacity and it goes to prove what a few
determined persons can accomplish. He's been a pain in the arse
for the US for more than 40 years now.

However what really grabbed my attention was a reoccurring theme
peppered with numerous statements made during interviews from long
imprisoned (former) comrades and political foes of Fidel; at least
those who weren't summarily executed during the dawn of the 1959-60
revolution. What brought into focus this article was what one former
close ally and personal friend of Castro said. Since he spent 30
years in a Cuban prison for failing to overthrown Fidel in 1965,
I guess he knows what he is talking about!

Castro's former pal said, and I paraphrase here:
"The repression started immediately, as soon as Castro grabbed
power. He immediately started tapping everyone's phone calls,
intercepted all communications and opened letters. This was done
under the pretence of national security and hardly anyone paid
attention to it first! By the time the masses realised what
happened, it was too late!"

National security! Doesn't that sound familiar? Terrocrats around
the world are repeating a similar mantra about "national security"
and the threat from terrorists, paedophiles, drug dealers, money
launderers, etc. as their "raison d'etre" for enacting inhibitory
laws curtailing the privacy and freedom of 99.999% of the innocent
citizens who use the Internet, send faxes, place phone and mobile
calls as well as other modes of communication.

The interception of e-mail, encryption, web browsing, mobile phone
calls, faxes and ever more telephone taps are subjected to increasing
infringements by law enforcement agencies (and others) world-wide
with little or no warrants in most cases nor accountability to
anyone other than self appointed department heads. Many nations law
enforcement agencies are illegally "warehousing" raw communication
data indefinitely for who knows what purpose? Worse the public
appears to care little about this threat to privacy and are
doing nothing to stop it, save a few brave freedom and privacy

Even withdrawing CASH from an ATM machines is traceable today
with the technology employed by Echelon. It's frightening. Add
into the factor Carnivore, RIP and other privacy thieving laws
and technologies that are spreading around the world faster than
HIV/AIDS, and we are loosing our privacy and freedom's faster than
at any period during our lifetime.

2,000 additional close circuit TV cameras are forthcoming to London,
which already has more CCTV's per capita than any other city in
the world. Public buses and private taxis in Australia have little
cameras hidden and the data stored under terrocratic control for who
knows what purpose. Now the same tiny cameras are being installed
throughout the United Kingdom following Australia's' lead and
'success' with the tiny buggers. Word has it that Amerika is next
in line for the little bugs! The terrocrats are starting to install
tiny CCTV cameras on both international and domestic airline flights
in the sake of preventing 'hijackings', as if a CCTV is going to
deter a hijacker. What a crock of BS that is. The terrocrats goal;
all airline flights to be recorded within 5 years! FYI and just
in case you've forgotten, there hasn't been a US airline hijacking
originating in the USA or Western Europe for more than 20 years!

Laws have been passed in most countries that allow the terrocrats
to grab your data under penalty of prison should you resist and
an even harsher sentence should you tell anyone about it. Echelon
technology records every phone, mobile, fax and data transmission
around the world whilst searching for "key words," which triggers
further investigation. DNA is taken and used by insurance companies
and many others without your permission. CCTV cameras record your
every move throughout your entire day and night! 5 to 12 year-olds
(mostly American) school children are finger printed and ID'ed for
no apparent legal reason. The list goes on ad nauseum.

No solace Repression is an insidious condition that always starts
under a false pretence. In today's world that delusive pretence
is called national security, i.e. drug traffickers, paedophiles,
money launderer's, etc. It's used by the terrocrats to wrongly
take away your right to privacy in addition to your personal
freedoms, both personal and financial. What difference does it
make if someone steals all of your privacy and freedoms all at
once, like Castro did, or its stolen a little bit at a time until
you've lost everything, like your government is doing today? The
answer: There's no difference. Your privacy and freedom's are lost,
i.e. have been stolen under a false pretence. To the terrocrats,
the end justifies the means!

Repression is defined as: A state of forcible subjugation

Subjugation is defined as: Forced submission to control by others.

Think about the above definitions! Do any of the laws or actions
your government passed or is considering meet that criteria or
definition? Will your government allow you to legally OPT OUT of
any laws in your country in order to protect YOUR personal and
financial privacy?

Sadly many, if not all fit these arcane, mercurial laws and
privacy invading laws enacted and spreading worldwide by the
terrocrats. When the routine physical movements, communications
and financial transactions of 99.999% of the innocent citizens
of the world are under the scrutiny of some unknown and unseen
power (hidden terrocrats), who in turn can force you to hand over
encryption keys and or outright steal your communications under
penalty of prison, and WITHOUT your permission, knowledge or any
legal warrant, I can think of no better a term than "REPRESSION"
to sum up what is happening worldwide today.

What are you going to do about it?

See you next issue


"The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion."
- Edmund Burke, 1784
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Tid Bits

The NYPD Wants Mobile Weapon Scanners for Drive-By Patdowns
- NY Post

The NYPD is in hot water with civil rights groups over its
controversial Stop-and-Frisk policy. But, NYPD Commissioner Ray
Kelly has a solution-handheld weapons scanners that see guns under
clothing! Fourth Amendment? What's that?

As Kelly told a State of the NYPD breakfast Tuesday, the department
is developing a mobile, infrared scanner mechanism that would
allow officers to detect concealed weapons similar to the way that
full-body scanners at airports work. The Department of Defense
is also working with the NYPD to develop the technology, though
details are still rather scarce.

Currently the technology only has a range of three to four feet,
requiring the officers to still actually interact with the citizenry
presumed criminals. The NYPD hopes to eventually extend the range to
25 meters (80 feet) and mount it atop a police van. This would allow
the cops to simply cruise down a street and scan everybody on the
sidewalk without having to let them know they've just been searched.
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*** Just in case!

Man-Made Super-Flu Could Kill Half Humanity

Don't forget what elitist eugenicist Prince Philip said,
"In the event that I am reincarnated, I would like to return
as a deadly virus, in order to contribute something to solve
overpopulation." Know thy enemy. - Ed)

A virus with the potential to kill up to half the world's population
has been made in a lab. Now academics and bioterrorism experts are
arguing over whether to publish the recipe, and whether the research
should have been done in the first place.

The virus is an H5N1 bird flu strain which was genetically altered
to become much more contagious. It was created by Ron Fouchier
of the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, who
first presented his work to the public at an influenza conference
in Malta in September.

Fouchier said the strain circulates in animals, particularly birds,
but rarely affects humans.

In the ten or so years since bird flu first emerged in Asia,
fewer than 600 cases have been reported in humans. But the H5N1
strain is particularly vicious, killing roughly half of patients
diagnosed with it. What stops it from becoming a major threat to
public health is that it does not readily transmit from human to
human. Or at least it didn't - until now.

Researchers in Fouchier's team used ferrets - test animals which
closely mimic the human response to influenza - and transmitted H5N1
from one to another to make it more adaptable to new hosts. After 10
generations, the virus had mutated to become airborne, which means
ferrets became ill from merely being near other diseased animals.

A genetic study showed that the new, dangerous strain had only five
mutations compared to the original one, and all of them were earlier
seen in the natural environment - just not all at once. Fouchier's
strain is as contagious as the human seasonal flu, which kills tens
of thousands of people each year, but is likely to cause many more
fatalities if released.

"I can't think of another pathogenic organism that is as scary
as this one," Paul Keim, a microbial geneticist who has worked
on anthrax for many years, told Science Insider. "I don't think
anthrax is scary at all compared to this."

Now Keim, who chairs the US National Science Advisory Board
for Biosecurity (NSABB), and other members of the body, have a
very difficult decision to make. Fouchier wants his study to be
published. So does virologist Yoshihiro Kawaoka, who led similar
research in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin, Madison,
and the University of Tokyo, and reached comparable results. And
it is up to NSABB to give them the green light.

Many academics and biosecurity experts are naturally cautious about
releasing information which could provide any bioterrorist with
a ready recipe to hold the world to ransom. Some argue that such
work should never have been done in the first place and call for
international monitoring of potentially harmful research.

"It's just a bad idea for scientists to turn a lethal virus into a
lethal and highly contagious virus. And it's a second bad idea for
them to publish how they did it so others can copy it," believes
Dr. Thomas Inglesby, a bioterrorism expert and director of the Center
for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
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"These companies sell to state intelligence agencies the ability
to spy on the entire population at once."
- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
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Memorable Quotes

"Those who are unaware they are walking in darkness will never seek the light."
- Bruce Lee
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And other Quotes:

"Anyone who knows the higher truths, finds the "serious" "values"
of society difficult to take seriously. - "Plutarch.
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Even More Quotes

"Education is the Apprenticeship of Life"
- The Info Wizard
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Thought provoking quotes:

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot
read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn."
- Alvin Toffler
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*** Tid Bits

One of our readers from the Philippines, emailed the following

World Economic Freedom: Phl improves to 107th
- Jose Katigbak

Washington - Despite a challenging global economic environment, the
Philippines has risen in the world economic rankings to 107 from 115
previously, said a report by the Heritage Foundation, an influential
conservative think tank in Washington, and The Wall Street Journal.

The 2012 Index of World Economic Freedom released on Thursday said
among 179 countries rated, the Philippines had the 107th freest
economy with a score of 57.1.

The report said the country's score was 0.9 point higher than last
year, attributable in large part to a significant improvement in
business freedom.

The index rates countries in 10 categories - labor freedom, business
freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, government spending,
monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property
rights and freedom from corruption - and the results are averaged
to create an overall score.

Hong Kong with 89.9 points and Singapore (87.5) ranked first
and second in the overall standings for the 18th straight year,
followed in order by Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada,
Chile, Mauritius, Ireland and the United States.

North Korea at the bottom of the standings had an overall score
of one.

The Philippines improved its scores in four of the 10 specific
categories (scores the previous year are in brackets): business
freedom 54.3 (43.4), labor freedom 51.7 (50.7), monetary freedom 77.1
(76.3) and fiscal freedom 79.1 (78.8).

Its scores dropped in government spending 89.7 (91) and trade freedom
75.5 (77.8) and there were no changes in scores for freedom from
corruption, 24; investment freedom, 40; financial freedom, 50;
and property rights, 30.

The Philippines ranked 19th out of 41 countries in the Asia-Pacific

Its overall score of 57.1 was slightly below the world average of
59.5 and the regional average of 57.5.

The report said the Philippine economy has been on a steady path
of economic expansion, with the government pursuing a series of
legislative reforms to enhance the entrepreneurial environment
and developing a stronger private sector to generate broader-based
job growth.

Overall progress has been gradual, but regulatory efficiency has
been notably enhanced, the report said.

Despite some progress, corruption continues to undermine prospects
for long-term economic development and the judiciary, which remains
susceptible to political interference, does not provide effective
protection for property rights or strong and transparent enforcement
of the law, the report said.

It said its economy relied heavily on emigrants' remittances,
equivalent to more than 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
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*** Bits n bobs

Busted! Two New Fed GPS Trackers Found on SUV
- Kim Zetter

As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear oral arguments in a case
Tuesday that could determine if authorities can track U.S. citizens
with GPS vehicle trackers without a warrant, a young man in
California has come forward to Wired to reveal that he found not
one but two different devices on his vehicle recently.

The 25-year-old resident of San Jose, California, says he found
the first one about three weeks ago on his Volvo SUV while visiting
his mother in Modesto, about 80 miles northeast of San Jose. After
contacting Wired and allowing a photographer to snap pictures of
the device, it was swapped out and replaced with a second tracking
device. A witness also reported seeing a strange man looking beneath
the vehicle of the young man's girlfriend while her car was parked
at work, suggesting that a tracking device may have been retrieved
from her car.

Then things got really weird when police showed up during a Wired
interview with the man.

The young man, who asked to be identified only as Greg, is one among
an increasing number of U.S. citizens who are finding themselves
tracked with the high-tech devices.

The Justice Department has said that law enforcement agents
employ GPS as a crime-fighting tool with "great frequency," and
GPS retailers have told Wired that they've sold thousands of the
devices to the feds.

But little is known about how or how often law enforcement agents
use them. And without a clear ruling requiring agents to obtain a
"probable cause" warrant to use the devices, it leaves citizens who
may have only a distant connection to a crime or no connection at
all vulnerable to the whimsy of agents who are fishing for a case.

The invasive technology, for example, allows police, the FBI, the
Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies to engage in
covert round-the-clock surveillance over an extended period of time,
collecting vast amounts of information about anyone who drives the
vehicle that is being tracked.

"A person who knows all of another's travels can deduce whether
he is a weekly church goer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym,
an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment,
an associate of particular individuals or political groups -
and not just one such fact about a person, but all such facts,"
wrote U.S. Appeals Court Judge Douglas Ginsburg in a recent ruling
that the Supreme Court will be examining this week to determine if
warrants should be required for use with trackers.

Greg says he discovered the first tracker on his vehicle after
noticing what looked like a cell phone antenna inside a hole on
his back bumper where a cable is stored for towing a trailer. The
device, the size of a mobile phone, was not attached to a battery
pack, suggesting the battery was embedded in its casing.

The first GPS tracker found was slipped into a fabric sleeve,
containing magnets, and placed on the underside of the vehicle in
the wheel well of the spare tire.

A week later when he was back in San Jose, he checked the device,
and it appeared to have been repositioned slightly on the vehicle
to make it less visible. It was placed on the underside of the car
in the wheel well that holds a spare tire.

Greg, a Hispanic American who lives in San Jose at the home of
his girlfriend's parents, contacted Wired after reading a story
published last year about an Arab-American citizen named Yasir
Afifi who found a tracking device on his car. Greg wanted to know
what he should do with the device.

Afifi believed he was being tracked by authorities for six months
before a mechanic discovered the device on his car when he took
it into a garage for an oil change. He apparently came under
surveillance after the FBI received a vague tip from someone who said
Afifi might be a threat to national security. Afifi has filed a suit
against the government, asserting that authorities violated his civil
liberties by placing the device on his vehicle without a warrant and
without suspicion of a crime. His attorney, Zahra Billoo, told Wired
this week that she's requested a stay in her client's case, pending
a ruling by the Supreme Court in the GPS tracking case now before it.

Greg's surveillance appears to involve different circumstances. It
most likely involves a criminal drug investigation centered around
his cousin, a Mexican citizen who fled across the border to that
country a year ago and may have been involved in the drug trade as
a dealer.

"He took off. I think he was fleeing. I think he committed a crime,"
Greg told, asserting that he himself is not involved
in drugs.

Greg says he bought the SUV from his cousin in June, paying cash
for it to a family member. He examined the car at the time and found
no tracking device on it. A month later, he drove his cousin's wife
to Tijuana. Greg says he remained in Mexico a couple of days before
returning to the U.S.

The first GPS tracker, out of its sleeve. Photo courtesy of Greg.
It's possible the surveillance began shortly after his return,
but Greg discovered the device only about three weeks ago during
his visit to Modesto. The device was slipped into a sleeve that
contained small magnets to affix it to the car.

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, Wired photographer Jon Snyder went to San Jose
to photograph the device. The next day, two males and one female
appeared suddenly at the business where Greg's girlfriend works,
driving a Crown Victoria with tinted windows. A witness reported to
Greg that one of the men jumped out of the car, bent under the front
of the girlfriend's car for a few seconds, then jumped back into the
Crown Victoria and drove off. Wired was unable to confirm the story.

The following day, Greg noticed that the GPS tracker on his own
car had been replaced with a different tracker, this one encased
in a clam shell cover attached to a large round magnet to hold the
device to the car. The device was attached to a 3.6 VDC Lithium
Polymer rechargeable battery.

There was no writing on the tracker to identify its maker, but a
label on the battery indicated that it's sold by a small firm in
Farmingdale, New York, called Revanche. A notice on a government web
site last June indicates that it was seeking 500 of the batteries
and 250 battery chargers for the Drug Enforcement Administration. A
separate notice on the same site in 2008 refers to a contract for
what appears to be a similar Revanche battery. The notice indicates
the batteries work with GPS devices made by Nextel and Sendum.

A spokeswoman with the DEA's office in San Francisco, however,
declined to say if the device on Greg's vehicle was theirs.
"We cannot comment on our means or methods that we use, so I cannot
provide you with any additional information," said DEA spokeswoman
Casey McEnry.

The second device on Greg's vehicle appears to be a Sendum PT200
GPS tracker with the factory battery swapped out and replaced
with the Revanche battery. The Sendum GPS tracker is marketed to
private investigators, law enforcement and transportation security
managers and sells for about $430 without the battery. With the
factory battery "it will last 7-15 days reporting every hour in
a good cellular coverage zone," according to marketing literature
describing it, and it uses CDMA cellular communications and gpsOne
location services to determine its location.

When this reporter drove down to meet Greg and photograph the
second tracker with photographer Snyder, three police cars appeared
at the location that had been pre-arranged with Greg, at various
points driving directly behind me without making any verbal contact
before leaving.

After moving the photo shoot to a Rotten Robbie gas station a mile
away from the first location, another police car showed up. In this
case, the officer entered the station smiling at me and turned his
car around to face the direction of Greg's car, a couple hundred
yards away. He remained there while the device was photographed. A
passenger in the police car, dressed in civilian clothes, stepped
out of the vehicle to fill a gas container, then the two left
shortly before the photo shoot was completed.

The Obama administration will be defending the warrantless use of
such trackers in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning. The
administration, which is attempting to overturn a lower court ruling
that threw out a drug dealer's conviction over the warrantless use
of a tracker, argues that citizens have no expectation of privacy
when it comes to their movements in public so officers don't need
to get a warrant to use such devices.

It's unclear if authorities obtained a warrant to track Greg's
vehicle. While Greg says he's committed no crimes and has nothing
to hide, the not-so-stealthy police maneuver at his girlfriend's
place of employment makes it look to others like she's involved in
something nefarious, he says. That concerns him.

It concerns attorney Billoo as well.

"For a lot of us, it's like, Well I'm not selling cocaine, so let
them put a tracking device on the car of [a suspect] who is selling
cocaine," Billoo says. "And I'm not a terrorist, so let them put
the device on someone [suspected of being] a terrorist. But it
shouldn't be unchecked authority on the part of police officers. If
law enforcement doesn't care to have their authority checked,
then we're in a lot of trouble."
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*** Disturbing facts

Florida Senate pushes to privatize prisons in 18 counties
- Eric W. Dolan

The Florida Senate Rules Committee has proposed a bill that would
require the state's Department of Corrections to privatize all
prisons and other correctional facilities in 18 counties, according
to the News Service of Florida.

The state legislature passed nearly the same measure last year,
but the law was ruled unconstitutional in court because it didn't
go through the committee process, violating the Florida Constitution.

The second largest private prison company in the world, GEO Group,
has donated $822,000 to political campaigns in Florida, according
to the nonpartisan National Institute on Money in Politics. The
company also spent $25,000 for Florida Gov. Rick Scott's (R)
inauguration party.

"We've been saying all along that these proposed prison closures are
about turning Florida's prisons over to for-profit corporations,"
Ken Wood, Acting President of Teamsters Local 2011, said. "This is
payback to the powerful prison corporations that spend millions on
lobbyists and political donations."

"Both the privatization bill and these closures are being rushed
through without any public input and zero transparency. We have
no evidence that privatizing prisons would save money and plenty
of evidence that it won't. Closing and privatizing prisons would
devastate the dedicated correctional officers, their families and
nearby small businesses.
For-profit prisons are associated with heightened levels of violence
toward prisoners and have limited incentives to reduce future crime,
according to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"The perverse incentives to maximize profits and cut corners - even
at the expense of safety and decent conditions - may contribute to an
unacceptable level of danger in private prisons," the report stated.

After spending a month in solitary confinement in a GEO Group
operated Texas prison, 32-year-old Jesus Manuel Galindo allegedly
died of an epileptic seizure in December 2008. The cell lacked an
operational intercom, which would have allowed Galindo - who needed
regular medical attention - to call for help. The neurologist who
reviewed Galindo's autopsy said he was "set up to die."

In another incident, former GEO Group employees working for the Texas
Youth Commission failed to report horrid conditions at a GEO-operated
prison in Texas. An independent report found the bug-infested prison
smelled of feces and urine, had numerous water leaks and racially
segregated the young inmates.
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*** Hints & Tips

New Rules for Offshore Accounts
- Laura Saunders

Recently the Internal Revenue Service released long-awaited forms
and guidance for the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act law (Fatca),
which Congress passed in 2010. As noted in a recent Weekend Investor
cover story, "What's Next for Offshore Accounts?," the law made
sweeping changes affecting many U.S. taxpayers who live abroad or
have foreign financial accounts.

In particular, the law requires a new tax filing for many. Form 8938,
which will be due with taxpayers' 2011 returns, is different from
the Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR), which must be sent to the
Treasury Department by June 30 each year.

Unfortunately, that's not all. David Kuenzi, an investment manager
with Thun Financial Advisers in Madison, Wisc., says the new rules
also serve as a reminder that many taxpayers haven't been making
another filing to the IRS: Form 8621 to report Passive Foreign
Investment Company (PFIC) holdings abroad.

"This requirement has been on the books for decades, but until now
both the IRS and taxpayers have often ignored it," says Kuenzi,
whose firm often advises U.S. taxpayers who live abroad or have
foreign accounts.

Just as with the other forms, however, the consequences for not
filing the PFIC report can be severe, including interest, penalties,
and past tax due, warns Kuenzi. Here's a list of often-overlooked
assets that may need to be reported on PFIC, Fatca or FBARr forms.

* Non-U.S. based checking or savings accounts that "sweep" into a
money-market account.
* Proceeds from a parent's life insurance policy in Switzerland
(or elsewhere) left in an account after the parent died.
* Company retirement accounts outside the U.S., such as ORSO accounts
in Hong Kong or Second Pillar accounts in Switzerland.
* Funds deposited in a foreign account for a child who is living or
working abroad. If the amount is more than $10,000 during the year,
FBAR reporting is required.
* Foreign trusts with a beneficiary who is a U.S. taxpayer. Say
a grandfather living in Germany died and left a trust for all his
grandchildren, and none of the principal may be distributed for 10
years. If one the grandchildren lives and works in the U.S., the
entire trust may have to report to the IRS under the new Fatca rules.

Says Kuenzi, "We see these situations every day, and U.S. taxpayers
ignore them at their peril."
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*** Letters to the Editor:

Keep them postcards and letters coming' folks, 'cause we done mailed
the rosebushes!

Dear Shamrock:

Thank you for all you do at PT Shamrock. It is a great service that
you guys provide, please keep it up. "FREEDOM OR DEATH"


Dear Shamrock:

Have loved your site for many years.....

Is it fair to ask.......

"What is the price range for a 2nd passport?" We may wish to use
Dr. Freeaman. Yet it is essential to know the range of $$$ we would
be looking at.....



Dear K;

Many thanks for the kind words, which is much appreciated.

Our best 2nd passport offering with the most visa free countries
available, with the least hassles and requiresment details follow.

Note that there will be a substantial price increase, we are told,
in the near future.



Editor's note: if you are serious about obtaining a great 2nd
Passport, verifible and renewable for life, just email our leprechaun
and place "2ndPP" in your subject heading.

Dear Shamrock:

Ok, so now I understand it. I have been looking for an XXX, for
a while, and it seems that PTShamrock has the best reputation on
the net, so I will be in the office in a few hours and will send
in the application with the supporting documents.

I think logically its better then to go for the XXX. I will speak
to my bank and enquire about doing a Western Union transfer as
it is the fastest, only problem is it wont be done till Monday,
but will need your details anyhow to do it.


Dear K:

Thanks for the kind words.

Just order at and indicate
your preferred method of payment, i.e. Western Union, at the drop
down menu.

Once we receive your order, we will immediately e-mail you the
pay-in particulars.

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to service your privacy

PT Shamrock

Dear Shamrock:


Thank you for this wonderful site. I am a U.S. citizen. I am a
single parent of a son nearly 18 and a daughter nearly 16.

I would like to know what the total cost would be for all three of
us to gain a second passport in XXXXX? I understand that we need a
U.S. passport to start the process? I'm quite sure it is understood
why I am seeking such. My eyes are wide open and since the recent
NDAA bill was passed I realize time is of the extreme essence.



P.S. Again.... Thank you for this tremendous work that you are
doing. It is vitally important for all who would dare to see.

Dear D.S.

Many thanks for your very kind words, which we greatly appreciate.

The country you query does not offer an instant passport nationality
program. Rather they offer a legal residency that leads to
naturalization, then citizenship and hence a passport from that
country after about 5 years more or less.

May we recommend our best, least expensive and nationality passport
program with the least hassles from Central America? There is a
very nice discount for children applied for at the same time 18
and under with the same last or surname. details below.

Whatever you decide, our leprechaun and ourselves wish you and your
family the very best in life.

Kindest regards

PT Shamrock

Dear Shamrock:

Thanks for providing such a service.

I got my bachelor's degree the regular way at a university and I have
to say it was insanely expensive and not worth the cost. Most of the
so-called "education" was just brainwashing and social conditioning
to make nice little corporate/government slaves. It was not only
a waste of money but a colossal waste of time.

When it comes to knowledge, I've found that nothing trumps life
experience. Basically, it comes down to: can you produce the results
that you want? And most "teachers" are teaching at that level because
they cannot produce results in the real world - so what can really
learn from them?

Ok, that was my rant for the day...

Thanks again.


Editors note;

Require a university degree based on your life experince? Email
for particulars simply by placing "degree" in your subject heading.
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Quote of the month!

"The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in
ideas....That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution."
- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, dissent in Abrams v. United States, 1919
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*** "PT Shamrock's Exclusive Member's Site!"

Each month we offer exclusive information, free privacy programs,
access to our newsletter archives and other insider information
for members only.

Our member's site is accessed by user name and password only. This
is available to our newsletter subscribers ONLY!

Each month the password will change and you will have to e-mail us
from your subscribers e-mail address to request the NEW password
in order to gain access.

As a subscriber to our newsletter you automatically qualify
for this exclusive service. Just send an e-mail to> and place "Members" in the subject
heading. We will forward to you full details for signing up and
gaining access to our Members Site, reserved for you.

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Dear Friend:

If you like our newsletter please tell your friends and associates
about us. They can subscribe *FREE* by sending an e-mail to:>.

Our pledge!

We never spam our subscribers, never rent or give our subscribers
list to anyone, and unlike other newsletters do not accept paid
advertisements; And of course, our PT Buzz Newsletter is absolutely
free, just packed full of interesting privacy news and information
with a tad of humor thrown in for good measure.

We're probably the oldest privacy newsletter on the Internet!

Thank you for your patronage and help in spreading the word.


"The right to privacy is a part of our basic freedoms. Privacy
is fundamental to close family ties, competitive free enterprise,
the ownership of property, and the exchange of ideas."

PT Shamrock - issue one; 1994
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Don't forget to check out our Special Offers at

See you next issue!

"Mehr sein, als scheinen" (German Proverb)
Be more, seem less!

PT Shamrock
- - - - - - - - - - NOTICE - - - - - - - - - -
In and with good faith publishing distribution, this material is
distributed free without profit or payment for non-profit research
and for educational purposes only.
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