"The Artist and the Internet" or "Why Bitstrips is their most powerful free creative tool online"

The artist and the Internet (or)
Why Bitstrips is their most powerful free creative tool online

By Pauly Hart

As I sit here in my favorite coffee shop in Indiana I am reminiscent of a day not too long ago when I was living in Oklahoma. It was raining then, like it is today, back in march of 2008 and I was just fresh off of the oil fields. With muddy boots and a slippy disposition, I hopped on to Stumbleupon and began stumbling. Probably early in the afternoon, I ran into the 2008 SXSW conference news-feed and found out about Bitstrips.

And so a love affair began.

A strip featuring Dorian, by BA, made at SXSW in 2008
I didn't sleep much that week. After joining the "beta" website, I created comics non stop all day. Working in the oil field had it's advantages, and one of them was being off for a week at a time. This just so happened to be one of those weeks. I slid into a flash-based comic zen that was almost impossible for me to rise out of... until I had to put my boots back on and go to work.

In this one week I created one hundred comics, invented Bitstrips line art, invented the first drama series and blew away the creators with my zeal and passion for their product. Even the creator's mother was impressed with my love of the site. She was happy for the attention that her boy was getting, and rightfully so. She had raised a winner. Bitstrips was a lazy artists dream come true. A chance to say the things that I always wanted to say in a comic, but didn't have the ability to do... as I am unable, with my mitts (that I call hands) to do anything with realistic images.

And the funny thing of it all is that the product was accidental.

An example of one of my comics.
BA, DK1, Dorian, Thomas, TV and others had forged Bitstrips on a lark, an almost supplemental item... trying to find a way to easily story-board their animated series: Griddleville. G-ville was the first major project that their host company, Corematrix, had attempted. Maybe not the actual first, but the first largest. BA, the owner/chief/mage had brought together his right hand man DK1, and the rest of the Scooby gang and had driven from Toronto, Canada to Austin, Texas with a wagon full of hopes, dreams, and Tim Horton’s coffee: landing at SXSW that year hoping to be the breakout app of 2008.

Did they succeed? In my mind: “yes”. In actuality: they had hit the jackpot on building a bridge between my mind and actualized digital art… so another “yes”.

After one week of furiously vomiting out my ideas onto the Bitstrips server in Canada, I took a break. A forced break, seeing as I had to go clock back in at the oil rig... but all I could think about was Bitstrips. I would find myself thinking in almost any funny situation: "Oh that would make a great Bitstrip." Odd that the word "Bitstrips" worked itself into my conversation so quickly, and invariably people would ask: "What's a Bitstrip?" Thus, the conversation would begin. it was awesome, fun and unique and at the time, full of artistic adults who had found it rumbling around at /b on 4chan or whatever.

It was paradise-on-the-web.

Until 2009. Then came a flood of children.

Behind our backs, the innovators of the wonderful little world that incorporated my new existence had been talking to the Canadian school system and introducing Bitstripsforschools.com into the world. With this, came a new wave of popularity and a new wave of stupidity. Whereas before, the main servers of Bitstrips had been an elite group of inventive 30 and 40-something adults creative efforts, now it was primarily comprised of a home for12 year old testosterone-fueled angst and lunacy.

Not that the people were stupid... per se... many of those bright young minds published some wonderful things. But imagine, if you will, that your favorite hole-in-the-wall coffeeshop started passing out fliers for free lattes at the middle school down the street. How quickly would you commit seppuku? Or just unplug your Wi-Fi and go home. As such: many elderly Bitstrips users did. On one of the user-spawned Bitstrips Wikis, I named this: "The Onslaught". And it was a good analogy. But, now, in retrospect, I am happy that it happened. More people means more stuff.

Today look back and realize that I am not happy how my attitude was at the time (sorry youngsters).

And yes, grumpiness ensued and I slacked off my usage from Bitstrips... As many of the old ones did. But we who recognized (eventually) its true power from amalgamation came around and thrived in the new chaos. And Bitstrips strove on... like a monkey up a hill... or, a better analogy. Hiring new staff, incorporating new ideas, revamping the character builder (twice), they finally left their almost-perpetual beta stage... And with "wings as eagles" they launched their Facebook app.

There were times where I really did try to bring smiles and hope to the people of the interwebs.
And then they launched their mobile app.

And then Huffington Post got all shitty and wrote an article on how to block it.

And as I sit here, Halloween morning, the servers are down. Across the board, the servers have succumbed to a shutdown of almost DDoS attack proportions. Shut down due to popularity. It's a  wonderful problem to have: Popularity. It's like having too much money that you have to buy a bigger wallet and a larger pair of pants to put the wallet in... And then a second dude to carry around another couple of wallets who just hangs out with you. It's actually awesome how popular Bitstrips became, literally, in leaps and bounds, seemingly overnight. I've read probably six or seven articles just this morning about how "annoying" they are and how to "block" them from your facebook feed.

Fools! If only they knew the power of the force!

Bitstrips is a powerful tool.

Not only do you have the power to create storyboard material (as it was originally intended), or to make Farside-esque comics, or even to do the old Beetle Baily tell-the-story story three panel comic. It's awesome. And, for someone who can't draw stick figures, like me, it's a time saver.

Hey kids! Comics!

Even in my own life I have used Bitstrips on the web and it came with surprising popularity. When the Pirate Bay advertised it's homepage as available to host "The Promo Bay", I submitted a comic to them about my game: Empires and Generals, to which one of the mods replied: "This sounds awesome. And it's pretty unique in the big pile of 3000 promo requests we've gotten. So we're gonna promote you worldwide 26-28 May." Well, thank you very much for blowing me away. Hosted world wide on their front page was a big thing for me, and it was made possible by Bitstrips and the creative folks there... Plus the fact that I got 470,000 unique hits on my site was pretty cool as well.

Example of one of the submitted ads to The Pirate Bay
And so the love affair continues.

I love Bitstrips and so should you.

So, if, when, the servers are back up… Hop on, sign in, and make one or two things. It’s quite catchy, and not as glitchy as when I first started. At least five of my facebook friends use it now, that didn’t use it two weeks ago. At least, if you are an artist, you should hop on board. Fiddle around, learn and innovate. Grow your creativity and make cool stuff.

Bitstrips.com... It's the coolest thing since Google Chrome... Wait. It came out before Google Chrome.

You can visit Bitstrips.com HERE.


Pauly Hart wrote this without the consent of the good people at Bitstrips.com and apologizes if any information is incorrect.

Pauly Hart is a freelance writer, artist and weirdo and lives in Indiana, which explains some of it.

new test art

"The Worst Story I Ever Heard" By Rich Schapiro

The Worst Story I Ever Heard

By Rich Schapiro

St. James Davis is crying. It's a loud, whooping wail of a cry. He's sitting in the driveway of his childhood home, a sprawling, L-shaped ranch house in West Covina, California, on a sun-drenched day last September. Standing next to him is his wife of nearly forty years, LaDonna. On the brink of tears herself, LaDonna grabs a cloth and gently cradles his cheek with her right hand. With her left, she carefully dabs at his mouth. St. James keeps his head still as she tends to him. He doesn't say a word as he calms down. He doesn't have to — LaDonna knows what he wants now that the sun is beating down on him. She grabs the beige bucket hat hanging around his neck and eases it onto his head.

LaDonna tends to St. James because he can't tend to himself. St. James, sixty-six, a former high school football star and onetime Nascar driver, is severely disabled and disfigured. There's a two-inch hole in the heel of his swollen left foot, and he is confined to a wheelchair. He has no nose, only a red, raw, exposed septum, surrounded by narrow openings. At the top are three tiny magnets designed to hold in place a crude silicone prosthesis, which is constantly falling off. His right eye is gone, replaced with glass. The skin on his face droops like candle wax because so many bones around his cheeks and eyes were broken. His mouth, which has been completely reconstructed, is stuck in a frown. On his left hand, his index, middle, and ring fingers are stumps. His right hand is much worse. He has a misshapen hunk of flesh for a thumb, which appears as if it were lumped onto his wrist with clay. His index and middle fingers are gone; his ring finger and pinkie are immobile.

But St. James's crying has nothing to do with his physical condition. He's crying because of news he and LaDonna recently received about what really can only be called their boy. At first, St. James and LaDonna were reluctant to speak about all that's happened to them. LaDonna prefers not to talk to outsiders about their life because, she says, they are so often misunderstood.

To begin to understand, you have to go back to early 1971, when West Covina's "monkey trial" captivated this small California city about twenty miles east of Los Angeles. St. James and LaDonna Davis were in court, found in violation of a city ordinance against harboring a wild animal — a young chimpanzee they'd kept in their home nearly from birth. The chimp, named Moe, rode to the courthouse shotgun in St. James's jet-black 1932 Ford roadster. Dozens of spectators lined up outside the Citrus municipal courthouse to catch a glimpse of the Davises and their monkey. St. James was a tall, handsome mechanic and race-car driver. His young wife, LaDonna, was a sun-kissed blond with wholesome good looks. Holding St. James's hand, Moe, decked out in a checkered shirt, white trousers, and shoes, entered the courthouse to cheers. Inside, he shook hands and waved to his supporters. He kissed the court reporter and jangled the keys of the bailiff.

St. James and LaDonna both made impassioned pleas to the court. "Moe is like a son to us," LaDonna said. "He wouldn't hurt anyone, and so far as we're concerned, he's a member of the family."

The trial was a sensation. Journalists fawned over Moe in person and in print, and the outcome was never in doubt. Prosecutors dropped the case, and Judge Jack Alex's assessment of the chimp, delivered to a packed courtroom, echoed in newspapers all the way to Texas. "From what I've observed of Moe outside and in the courtroom," the judge said, "he doesn't have the traits of a wild animal and is, in fact, better behaved than some people."

He's a member of the family. That's something plenty of people say about their dog or bird or even a cow in the barn. But with St. James Davis and his wife, LaDonna, that sentiment grew into a singular kind of devotion, into a singular kind of love, into a singular kind of family. And how that came to be, and what that ultimately would mean for them, is a singular kind of story. It's a story at once understandable and incomprehensible, at once comic and tragic, at once familiar and utterly bizarre.

After all, what kind of family takes a wild animal and invests it with humanity?

From the moment St. James returned from a trip to Africa with Moe in 1967, the chimpanzee was the center of the couple's life. Moe was tiny, barely a foot long. His body was covered in brown hair, except for his pink face, ears, hands, and feet. His ears, the size of large clamshells, stuck out a couple of inches from his head. But it was his deep brown eyes and what St. James and LaDonna thought they saw in them — wonderment, innocence, comprehension — that moved them the most.

Scenes from their life together are like scenes from the life of any young family with a small child.

It's a Saturday night in 1970, and St. James is sitting on the couch next to Moe, who is sucking down a vanilla shake. LaDonna is in the kitchen, cleaning up after their dinner of beef stew and vegetables. Moe, four years old, was hungry after a day in the park, and he wolfed down his plate. Now he's clapping his hands because St. James has just turned on his favorite cowboys-and-Indians show.

LaDonna joins her boys on the couch. In two hours, they'll all be on the floor sleeping, their bodies linked at the arms.

Then there was the first trip to the dentist. When Moe was about two, St. James took him to a veterinary specialist to have a crooked front tooth pulled. As the doctor prepared a shot, St. James stroked Moe's tiny arm and concentrated on keeping him distracted. He spoke to him softly: "What are you looking at, Moe? Are you trying to see out the window?" Just before the doctor plunged the needle into Moe's forearm, St. James gripped him tightly. Moe let out a yelp but fell asleep in seconds. St. James never left the room during the forty-five-minute procedure.

As soon as they got home, St. James carried Moe to the couple's bedroom. He gently placed Moe, still in his T-shirt and plastic diaper pants, on his chest so the sleeping chimp could feel him breathing. They remained in bed together that way for more than six hours until Moe, groggy and glassy-eyed, finally woke up.

LaDonna spent hours with Moe every day, essentially trying to home-school him. She would sit beside him in the living room, coaching him as he played with Erector sets or colored with crayons. She was stunned by how thoughtful Moe appeared to be. He stared at the page, sometimes rubbing it with his hairless palm, before putting crayon to paper. Whenever Moe motioned for a new color — sticking out his hand palm up — LaDonna offered a few and asked Moe to think about which one he wanted: "Do you want this green one? Or would yellow be better? Think about it, Moe. Think."

Moe had his own bedroom, complete with a bed, a large closet where his clothes were kept — the Davises dressed him in plaid button-down shirts, blue jeans, and even dinner jackets and trousers on formal occasions — and a bureau with his toys on top, though of course Moe preferred to sleep with St. James and LaDonna. When he got too big — by age six he weighed about fifty pounds — St. James would carry Moe back to his bedroom after he fell asleep. Hours later, the couple would awaken to Moe at the foot of their bed, climbing back in.

From the beginning, Moe's demeanor surprised St. James and LaDonna. He was gentle and well-behaved. Moe seemed to take pains to avoid scratching anyone with his flat, sharp fingernails. He was affectionate and loved to hug and kiss, throwing his hairy arms around St. James's neck often. And when he wanted St. James to sit down next to him, he'd bound over and softly push on the backs of his knees.

There was one bright day about 1973. For nearly half an hour, St. James and Moe had been frantically running back and forth, trying to catch falling leaves underneath a massive maple tree in the park. St. James, exhausted, lay down on the grass. "I need to rest, Moe. I can't run like you anymore." Moe, with all the energy and insistence of a seven-year-old boy, grabbed his hands, pulling him along. They played for a while more before ending up in a heap on the grass again. St. James looked at Moe and asked him a question: "What are you going to be when you grow up, Moe?"

St. James and LaDonna hadn't planned to keep Moe forever. In truth, there never really was a plan. At first, St. James thought he'd drop Moe off at a zoo, but he says they all turned him away. In time, it became clear that there was no way the couple was going to part with the chimpanzee. So St. James and LaDonna kept Moe and raised him in their home. They taught him how to eat with a fork, use a toilet, even, they say, how to crudely write his name. Over the next thirty years, the Davises' devotion to Moe would push the boundaries of human love. It would also test the limits of that love.

"Okay, then, now you're talking," St. James says after I offer to help him with his car. We'd been sitting outside his mother's old home for a couple of hours, and it had become clear that St. James was far more concerned with getting work done on his car than talking about his life. Zooming ahead in his motorized wheelchair, he leads me to the driveway, where the wooden frame of a 1923 Franklin is resting on a table. It's shaped like a six-foot-long tuning fork and is covered in rusty bolts and nails. St. James is giddy. His condition has kept him from working on the car for three years, so LaDonna has taken over the labor. Having another pair of hands is priceless to him.

On his instructions, I pick up a hammer and start prying out some of the decaying bolts. A half hour later, holding a yellow angle grinder, I'm smoothing out a section of the gray fender as St. James provides an excruciatingly detailed real-time tutorial: "Okay, turn your thumb toward your nose. Now drop your elbow two inches and press the machine against the metal. You don't have to be gentle."

Watching from a few feet away, LaDonna is laughing. She's thin and pretty at age sixty-five. Guided by her husband, she has taken apart the Franklin over the past three months. Now she's rubbing epoxy on the fender with a piece of cardboard. St. James is less patient with her.

"LaDonna, what are you doing?" he says as she applies the epoxy. "It's dripping all over the place."

LaDonna doesn't get flustered. She knows he's just frustrated. After St. James commands her to pull out an extension cord, she laughs. "I can do that," she says, "because I love you so much."

Later, over some In-N-Out burgers that we eat sitting around the Franklin, the couple begins to tell the story of their lives. And, as it often does with St. James, it comes back to cars.

St. James and LaDonna were high school sweethearts in West Covina. They dated for a few years before St. James reluctantly agreed to get married. He was obsessed with cars and worried that marriage would put a wedge between him and his hot rods. By 1966, everything was in place for their wedding at a small brick church in West Covina, but St. James never showed up. Instead, he spent the afternoon under the hood of one of his cars while LaDonna was left alone in the church before all their friends and relatives.

The following week was the worst of St. James's life. The story of the jilted bride became the talk of the neighborhood. The entire town, it seemed, had turned against him. When he saw the ad in the paper, he knew he had found his way out: A merchant ship was looking for deckhands for an around-the-world voyage, all expenses paid. St. James had never been on a boat, but he didn't care.

What happened over the next several months altered the course of St. James's life. It is impossible to know for sure how he ended up with a baby chimpanzee. The tale he tells strains credulity in places, but he recounts it passionately, in vivid detail. By now, its facts are beyond any proof or evidence besides St. James's earnest telling. In any case, it seems to be what St. James has come to believe. It goes like this:

The ship suffered damage off the coast of Africa, forcing it to come ashore in Tanzania. Days later, while following a group of Tanzanians he befriended on a hunt, St. James witnessed a band of poachers slaughter a female chimpanzee just after she gave birth. He returned the next day, found the helpless newborn chimp alive, and began caring for him. St. James jumped ship, and for a period of several weeks and perhaps months, he provided for the animal, foraging for food, nurturing him with fruits, bird eggs, and rainwater as he searched for a way home. St. James lost weight. The chimp's fingernails left him riddled with sores. His ordeal finally ended when a tall villager, who called the chimp Mogambo, took St. James to German missionaries, who eventually secured him a flight bound for Los Angeles. Moe sat on his lap on the plane. He behaved like a prince.

By the time St. James stepped off the plane into the warm air outside Los Angeles International Airport, he was a changed man. His imposing frame had wasted away. His cheeks were hollow. Gaping sores covered his face and neck. And in his arms there was no luggage, only a baby chimpanzee.

Waiting for St. James inside the terminal was his mother, Estelle. LaDonna was there, too, and she was seething. She hadn't seen him since the day before he left her at the altar.

St. James hugged his mother. He and LaDonna locked eyes but didn't exchange words. She was waiting for him to start explaining, and she had no idea what to make of the tiny monkey at his side. St. James and LaDonna left the airport that day not knowing if they were ever going to speak again.

St. James brought the infant chimp to his mother's home in West Covina. He was tiny, about a foot long, and more playful than the most rambunctious child. Then there were those big, brown eyes. Estelle fell for him immediately. LaDonna's mother, who happened to be Estelle's close friend, began coming over. She, too, was captivated by Moe.

In time, LaDonna's mom started dragging her daughter over to play with the chimp. Like everyone else, LaDonna soon fell in love with Moe. It wasn't long before she also fell back in love with St. James.

The wedding, on June 6, 1970, was a modest affair, held at LaDonna's parents' home in West Covina. Moe was St. James's best man. The four-year-old chimp, dressed in a tight-fitting black tuxedo, walked down the aisle holding hands with the flower girl as she tossed rose petals on the floor. At the reception, Moe scampered from table to table, stealing sips of champagne. When one of the guests, a friend of LaDonna's mother's, began sharing her glass with him, the chimp clung to her for the rest of the night. Moe got drunk and pissed all over her pale yellow dress, which everyone in the room thought was about the funniest thing they'd ever seen.

As St. James told his friends, Moe was the "bond between us two." That bond would only deepen with news they received less than a year into their marriage. The couple had talked about having a large family, maybe as many as five children, and LaDonna had gone for a routine OB-GYN visit. St. James was sitting in the waiting room with LaDonna's mother when a doctor approached with a solemn expression. The doctor told them that LaDonna had cancer and needed a hysterectomy. She was in the exam room, crying.

LaDonna left the hospital with her mother and didn't come home. She refused to see St. James. She was overcome with guilt and began talking about a divorce, but St. James would have none of it. "We already got a kid," he reassured her. They spent hours and hours on the phone, talking it through. After five weeks, he convinced LaDonna that not having children should not drive them apart. Moe would remain the couple's only child.

So it was that an unconventional household began to transform into something truly different, even for southern California. Over the next three decades, the Davises lived what they considered a near-perfect life. They brought Moe along with them everywhere — to shopping malls, restaurants, weekend trips to the beach. The couple bought a three-seat bike and rode around town with Moe in the middle. And the chimpanzee, who developed a fondness for cheese burritos and coffee, took his meals with the couple at the kitchen table.

In time, as Moe grew, so did his notoriety. Already an honorary citizen of West Covina — he'd earned that distinction at the time of the trial — Moe attended ribbon-cutting ceremonies and fundraisers, once manning a kissing booth at an Actors and Others for Animals event in Burbank with Doris Day and Lucille Ball. The Davises fielded dozens of TV and movie requests for Moe. He appeared in episodes of Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, BJ and the Bear, and Bowling for Dollars and had bit parts in movies, including the 1975 comedy Linda Lovelace for President. St. James, meanwhile, gained notoriety of his own. Though he still earned most of his living through the auto-body shop he and LaDonna owned, St. James competed on the Nascar circuit, with Moe often appearing at his side for racing events.

The Davises' feelings for Moe deepened as his behavior became more complex. According to biologists, chimpanzees are humankind's closest genetic relatives on earth. The subtlety of Moe's expressions and emotions could be uncanny. There was the time with the peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. Moe was obsessed with peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. Standing on a chair at the kitchen table, he'd always make one for himself and then one for St. James. One day, when he was about nine, there wasn't enough peanut butter for a second sandwich. Moe tried to cover up by overloading St. James's bread with jelly. But St. James reached for Moe's sandwich, throwing him into a tantrum. Moe stomped his feet and made gagging noises. He stormed out of the kitchen, found LaDonna in her bedroom, and dragged her into the kitchen. Indignant, he pointed at the sandwich, pointed at St. James. Finally, St. James capitulated and offered Moe the good sandwich. The chimp shook his head and refused to eat it.

As he matured, Moe began to understand no and yes. He knew that shaking one's head up and down meant okay and side to side meant disapproval. Eventually, he developed his own form of sign language. He'd cross his arms over his chest and tap his shoulders to signal he wanted a hug. He'd motion as if he were turning a steering wheel back and forth when he wanted to go for a ride.

Moe's playfulness continued through his teens and twenties. One night in 1984, the eighteen-year-old chimp methodically prepared his bed of multicolored blankets inside his cage in the backyard before bounding into the kitchen to give LaDonna a goodnight kiss. She handed him a flashlight and a cup of hot chocolate. Holding one in each hand, Moe carefully walked back into his cage and sat down. He grabbed one of the blankets, draped it over his head, and began flicking the light on and off, on and off. LaDonna could hear her boy making laughing noises as she headed for her bedroom.

By this point, of course, Moe looked nothing like the baby monkey who held hands with the flower girl at their wedding, a rascal straight out of Curious George. He stood four feet tall, weighed roughly 130 pounds, and was covered in deep black fur. Over the years, St. James had gone to the library and studied chimpanzee behavior. He had learned what foods they eat and what their habits were. And he'd also read that no matter how docile they were when young, chimpanzees could turn aggressive as they grew older.

"We had a really good relationship," LaDonna says. "There was no tugging and pulling. Everybody kind of understood everybody. It was a lot of harmony, a lot of happiness, a lot of fun."

The Davises say they never saw aggressive behavior from Moe, even as he began to age. And it's true that Moe never harmed the couple.

"He was just such a happy little guy," LaDonna says.

They're still sitting near the car. The sun is setting, but now St. James can't stop talking. His hands are flying through the air as he talks about Moe.

"Listen closely now: I've told this story to very few people," he says more than once. He talks over LaDonna frequently. She barely seems to notice. She's hunched forward, her elbow on her knee, her face in her palm-clearly lost in the past. Still, a huge smile spreads across her face when St. James taps me on the knee and says: "I used to tell people, 'My son is thirty years old, and he still wants to live at home.' "

But what happened later in their lives is difficult for the Davises to discuss. The details force them to pause often. LaDonna buries her face in her hands. At times, she shakes her head and keeps her eyes fixed on the ground. St. James stares off into space. He can't get through the next few minutes without breaking down several times.

The unraveling of the Davises' near-perfect life began on a hot day in August 1998. Moe was about thirty then, with broad shoulders, thick arms, and long fangs. A welder who was repairing Moe's cage accidentally left a piece of equipment turned on and gave the chimp an electrical shock, spooking him so intensely that he bolted out of the house. Moe didn't return immediately. The police were called, and they closed the street. By the time the standoff ended, Moe had dented a police car, injured an officer's hand, and scratched an animal-control agent.

A year later, on September 2, 1999, a visitor came to meet Moe. The woman was told not to put her hand in his cage, but she did anyway. Moe bit the tip of her finger. Afterward, the Davises argued that Moe mistook her long red-painted fingernails for his favorite candy, licorice. To the city, why Moe bit the woman didn't matter. Now a mature ape and packing the upper-body strength of four or five grown men, Moe was too dangerous to remain at the Davises' home, West Covina officials decided.

A team of officers arrived at about 2:00 p.m. the following day. Police cars swarmed the street trailed by ambulances and fire trucks. Officers cordoned off the streets surrounding the Davises' home. Moe was inside his cage when two cops arrived at the front door. St. James confronted them. "Where's your court order?" he demanded. "Where's your warrant? Get out of here!"

A fiery argument broke out, and St. James was wrestled out of his house while cops and animal-control officers, some armed with dart guns, swarmed inside. Moe screamed as one dart, then a second, pierced his stomach. His shrieking turned into gagging noises as he furiously banged on his cage with his hands and feet. St. James was on his knees on the front lawn, bawling, when Moe, unconscious and bleeding from the stomach, was carried out of the house and tossed into a horse trailer.

The Davises were broken. They cried for hours, and they couldn't sleep. The community rescued them. Four days after Moe's removal, St. James checked his mailbox and found it filled with notes, cards, and a petition, titled "Citizens to Bring Moe Home." Within days, more than eight thousand people had signed, and many put yellow ON BOARD WITH MOE signs in their car windows. Scores of people stopped by the house. Even more honked in support as they drove by.

A single phone call punctured the Davises' brief optimism. It came nine days after Moe was taken, and it was from the operator of the facility Moe had been taken to — the Wildlife WayStation in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest, a 160-acre refuge for exotic animals. The woman on the line called to ask St. James a brutal question: Have any arrangements been made for when the chimp dies? Moe hadn't eaten since he arrived and wasn't expected to live much longer. The Davises rushed to the facility with a vet in tow. They found Moe splayed on the floor of his tiny cage, covered in his own stool. His eyes were vacant. He was too weak to acknowledge them. The vet injected Moe with a drug that perked him up immediately. Within minutes, he went for a few grapes, drawing tears from the Davises, who resolved to return weekly to monitor their boy.

The court battles stretched for years. Gloria Allred, a high-profile civil-rights attorney, took the Davises' case pro bono. The couple filed a due-process suit against the city as they fended off criminal charges once again for harboring a wild animal. Animal-rights groups got involved. The petition grew longer. In a span of five months, more than twenty-four thousand people signed it. St. James and LaDonna visited Moe every week, all the while clinging to the hope that they would someday be reunited. The visits sustained them, though they were also heartbreaking. Moe started doing better after the couple installed a new cage complete with a TV three months after he arrived. But the Davises — who were not permitted to come close enough to touch him during their fifteen-minute visits — could see the pain in Moe's eyes. He'd signal that he wanted a hug. He'd put his hands up and turn an imaginary steering wheel. He wanted to go home.

After extensive negotiations, in 2004 the couple succeeded in getting Moe transferred to Animal Haven Ranch, a private sanctuary near Bakersfield where they could visit him without restriction. The sanctuary, tucked into rolling hills just a few miles south of Lake Isabella, was a home for exotic animals dumped mostly from zoos and circuses. Its owners, Virginia and Ralph Brauer, had seven primates in all, but everyone agreed Moe, now thirty-eight — approaching elderly for a chimp, his flat brown face rimmed with gray — would remain alone in a specially built cage during his first few years there. The arrangement was a dream compared with the Wildlife WayStation. The Davises made the two-and-a-half-hour trip every week, delivering new toys for Moe and food for the other primates as part of the arrangement. They'd arrive early and spend all day with their boy, playing with him inside his cage.

On March 3, 2005, St. James and LaDonna drove to the sanctuary to celebrate Moe's thirty-ninth birthday. They left home early, around 7:00 a.m., in a car filled with toys, presents, balloons, and a white-frosted sheet cake with raspberry filling. After arriving at Animal Haven about 10:00 a.m., St. James hopped out of the car and headed straight for Moe with a carton of chocolate milk in his hand. Moe was going mad — clapping his hands and hooting happily. LaDonna set the cake down on a picnic table, cut two slices, and handed them to St. James. St. James handed one to Moe through the bars of his cage, and the animal's eyes went wide as he devoured his piece. LaDonna savored the moment. The family had been through so much over the last six years. Moe was finally at a place where he seemed content and where the couple could spend as much time with him as they wanted. If they couldn't ever live together again, this seemed like the next best thing. St. James and Moe were kissing each other. The moment was beautiful. Perfect almost.

Out of the corner of her eye, LaDonna suddenly noticed a large form about forty feet away. It was a chimpanzee, a young adult male, somehow out of his cage, and he was glaring at her. The chimp held her gaze for a moment, and then charged. St. James rushed to his wife. The animal barreled into LaDonna's back, knocking her into St. James. She wrapped her arms around her husband's neck, but the chimpanzee locked his jaws around the thumb of her left hand. With a single, ferocious jerk of his neck, he tore it off.

St. James threw his hysterical wife under the picnic table and pushed her further underneath as the chimp tried to pursue her. LaDonna was screaming commands — "No! Stop! Sit!" — in a desperate bid to stop him. The remaining cake was on the table, still in its box, but the chimp didn't go for it. Instead he went after St. James.

As St. James confronted the chimp, the six-two former running back turned to find a second chimp — also a male, this one older and bigger — bearing down on him as well. With both hands, he pushed the bigger animal. Both chimps pounced. One of the animals grabbed him in a bear hug before chomping into the bone above his right eyebrow. He then stuck his finger in St. James's right eye, gouging it out. The same animal clamped his teeth onto St. James's nose, biting it off, as the other chimp chewed away at St. James's fingers. In the melee, one of the chimps dug in his claws and ripped the skin off the right side of St. James's face, causing it to flop over and cover his left eye, temporarily blinding him. One of the primates sunk his teeth into St. James's skull. He then closed his jaws on St. James's mouth, ripping off his lips and most of his teeth. St. James tried to put one of his hands down the animal's throat, but the chimp just kept chewing on it and chewing on it, and he couldn't get it out.

St. James fell to the ground, no longer able to defend himself, and for at least five minutes, the mauling continued as he lay helpless. One of the chimps gnawed on his buttocks and bit off his genitals. They ravaged his left foot, leaving it shredded. Blood poured from his body, and LaDonna was screaming. It looked as if they were eating him alive. Finally, LaDonna's screams drew the owners' son-in-law, Mark Carruthers, who came running armed with a .45-caliber revolver. After struggling to find a clean shot, he opened fire on the younger primate. The shot had no apparent effect, and Carruthers raced back to his house, a few dozen yards away, to reload with more-powerful ammunition. When Carruthers returned, he focused on the older male, the prime aggressor. Kneeling down, he shot him once in the head from close range. As the animal fell to the ground, the younger chimp began dragging St. James's mutilated body down a hill leading away from Moe's cage. Dirt filled St. James's lungs and seeped into his bloody openings.

For the briefest of moments, LaDonna looked toward Moe. He was sitting in the corner of his cage, frozen, seemingly stunned.

The lone chimp continued tearing at St. James's limp body with his teeth until Carruthers caught up to him and shot him once in the chest, ending the attack. St. James, lying facedown, felt the lifeless animal fall on his back.

An investigation later found that the chimps had escaped from their cage after one of the sanctuary's owners failed to lock two of its three doors. Animal behaviorists suggested the chimps' aggression could have been caused by a number of factors, including jealousy over the attention the Davises lavished on Moe, an innate desire to defend their territory, or abuse they may have suffered at the hands of humans in the past.

Despite the ferocity of the attack, when the paramedics arrived, St. James was still conscious. His face and body, however, were mutilated beyond recognition. Where his mouth, lips, and nose had been there was only a bloody hole. Where his right eye had been there was a pit. Where his fingers had been he had only stumps or simply gaps. "I had no idea a chimpanzee was capable of doing that to a human," Kern County fire captain Curt Merrell, who was among the first on the scene, told the Los Angeles Times. "It looked like a grizzly-bear attack."

LaDonna kept repeating the same five words as St. James was loaded into an ambulance: "Don't you die on me." She held on to his arm until the vehicle reached the main road, where St. James was lifted into a helicopter and rushed to a nearby hospital.

After arriving at Loma Linda University Medical Center, St. James was immediately put into a medically induced coma. He would remain unconscious and in critical condition, and LaDonna rarely left his bedside. St. James underwent dozens of surgeries. LaDonna was in agony for him.

And — how could it be otherwise? — she also worried about Moe. She visited Moe the day before Mother's Day. And when doctors temporarily woke St. James up for the first time, in May, his first question was: "How's Moe?"

The couple's dusty blue Dodge minivan has just pulled up near the Franklin on this Wednesday afternoon. LaDonna hops out of the driver's seat and rushes over to the side door. She hauls out St. James's wheelchair and places it on the ground just outside the passenger door. After opening it, she links her arms under St. James's armpits and grabs him around the back. Grunting in pain, St. James slides his body so his legs are hanging out the door. He then places his arms on LaDonna's shoulders. On the count of three, LaDonna hoists his massive frame out of the car, her thin body enveloped by his. Teetering under St. James's weight, she somehow guides him into the chair.

A few minutes later, St. James is sucking on a cherry ice pop as he describes how the attack has changed his life. LaDonna is hovering over him with a cloth to wipe away the red slush spilling out of his mouth. "I can't do anything on my own anymore," St. James says, "except sit around like a potted plant."

Three years after the attack, St. James is completely dependent on LaDonna. He cannot bathe himself, go to the bathroom, or even eat without her help. He still has no teeth and limited control of his mouth. His vision in his remaining eye is blurry. His swollen, punctured left foot remains in grim condition. The Davises were awarded $100,000 after the city settled their original due-process suit, but St. James says he doesn't have enough money to afford a special boot for his mangled foot. (The couple decided not to sue the ranch where they were attacked because it had no liability insurance.) Doctors are now recommending amputation because he has contracted the MRSA superbug. "They say if the MRSA activates while the wound is open, they probably couldn't amputate the foot fast enough to save his life," LaDonna says.

It's not until later in the day that St. James starts crying. It's a loud, whooping wail. His tears have nothing to do with what happened to him, though. He never complains about the attack or how it left him. He's just begun talking about something that happened more recently — something that happened to Moe.

The phone call came around 11:00 a.m. last June 27. LaDonna answered. On the other end of the line was Tammy Maples, co-owner of Jungle Exotics, a business that houses animals and rents them to the entertainment industry. Moe had been transferred to Jungle Exotics' sixty-acre sanctuary in the San Bernardino Mountains eight months earlier.

Just two days before the call, the couple had made the forty-five-minute drive to see their boy, a weekly ritual that, despite everything, they resumed in 2007, when St. James was finally able. Although the compound is on such uneven terrain that it prevented his wheelchair from approaching Moe's cage, the trips were still the highlight of St. James's week. On this visit, they brought Moe a hairbrush and an old computer keyboard. And they discussed their plans for their aging chimpanzee, chief among them installing solar panels on his facility, which would allow him to watch TV. It would also enable the Davises to set up a video camera and monitor, so they could interact with him every day.

Maples's voice on the line was shaky. LaDonna was so stunned by what she heard that she asked Maples to repeat it.

"I want to let you know I went by Moe's facility, and he's not in it."

"What do you mean he's not in it?" LaDonna said.

Moe, Maples said, had disappeared.

The couple sped to the ranch. They were met by Joe Camp, Maples's partner, who told them Moe had somehow broken off six steel welds from the cage, allowing him to open a sliding door and escape. By the time St. James and LaDonna saw the enclosure, it had been repaired and cleaned. LaDonna was perplexed. The cage was spotless. There were no blankets, there was none of Moe's stool. It was as if he had never been there. She wanted to see his stool, how he had slept the night before. She wanted to see what his thinking was.

A frantic search began. For weeks, Jungle Exotics workers and volunteer searchers combed the dense brush around the facility on foot and in 4x4 vehicles. St. James and LaDonna drove through the hills in their mini-van calling out for Moe. Bloodhounds were brought in. Helicopters flew overhead. The search was a media sensation locally and drew national and international press attention as well. The couple waited for news-and worried. A month went by and still no trace of Moe was found. The search was officially called off last July 31.

Camp remains baffled as to how Moe escaped. On the day of his disappearance, Moe's enclosure was cleaned as part of the daily routine, he says, and his cage was repaired so quickly because he expected the chimp to be found within hours. "We were hoping he'd wander back in. That's what they usually do," Camp says. After Moe inexplicably managed to break through the cage's welds, workers spotted him hopping over a security fence before disappearing into the hills, Camp says. "This was an animal that liked to be around people. The mystery is why this animal left and where he went. Or did somebody find him and move him off — we don't know."

St. James's phone rings as LaDonna is rummaging through the garage for a pair of pliers. It's a call for her from a friend, and within seconds it's clear she's being asked about Moe. After several months, there hasn't been a single sighting of the chimpanzee.

The couple has received calls constantly since Moe went missing. That's the word they use: missing. LaDonna protests the use of the word escape.

"We don't know what happened," she says.

St. James and LaDonna refuse to speculate about what led to Moe's disappearance. But with Moe gone, St. James is painfully lonely. The two were so close, there was no room for anyone else except LaDonna. Neighbors fascinated with the chimp stopped coming by years ago, and St. James's racing days and the camaraderie they brought are long over.

"I can talk for days about Moe," he says. "I just miss him so much. I've never loved anything as much as I loved Moe."

"We haven't heard anything new," LaDonna, pacing in the driveway, tells her friend on the cell phone. "Not a thing. Oh, no, no, no, this isn't something that's going to be unsolved. It's going to be solved."

St. James and LaDonna expect to see their boy again. The fruitless search convinced them Moe did not slip off into the woods. Chimpanzees are social creatures. Even in the wild, they are unlikely to venture off alone, St. James and LaDonna both explain, an assessment shared by primatologists. Something else must have happened. What exactly, they do not know.

But they're convinced that Moe is alive somewhere.

"He was brought up to use his brain," LaDonna says, "to always make decisions." Now it's as if she's talking to Moe: "There are lots of things here. I want this tool, but maybe you don't want that tool. Or maybe I'm going to eat this, but maybe you don't want that. There's choices here, Moe. Make the choice you want. Think about it. Think. Do you want a yellow crayon or do you want this green one?"

She pauses. "I'm hoping that wherever Moe is, he's making good choices for himself."

Much of the Davises' lives today revolve around caring for St. James — getting him to doctors' appointments, looking into new procedures, and simply negotiating the world given his physical difficulties. Progress is slow but continuing. By the end of the year, St. James hopes to have a new mouth and a fully formed left hand. He'll need to have his upper lip surgically reconstructed, then prosthodontists will outfit him with a special set of dentures so he can eat more easily and speak more clearly. And doctors have already designed prosthetic fingertips for the three stumps on his left hand, which St. James hopes to be wearing in a matter of months. St. James wants to one day work on his cars again. His right hand presents more of a problem, though, since on that hand most of his thumb is gone and two fingers are missing entirely.

And of course, what's also missing is Moe. What became of Moe we simply can't know. But what's left in his place, as painful as the vestige of a lost limb, is the Davises' singular devotion.

After all the years St. James and LaDonna shared with Moe and everything they've endured, how could he be gone forever? How could they not someday see their boy again?

A Clarification and a Correction
The article above includes the Davises's account of their chimp, Moe, in the days after authorities seized him and placed him in an exotic-animal shelter. The couple say his health quickly deteriorated, and he required their intervention to survive. The operator of the facility, the Wildlife WayStation, disputes that version of events, and the story should have pointed this out. The same article incorrectly reported that the Davises decided against suing a different animal shelter, Animal Haven Ranch, where St. James sustained grave injuries. The Davises have indeed filed a personal-injury suit against the shelter in Kern County, California, Superior Court. Trial is pending.

The second Internet

From Here

Paul Joseph Watson

Prison Planet.comOctober 24, 2013

BRICS countries are close to completing a brand new Internet backbone that would bypass the United States entirely and thereby protect both governments and citizens from NSA spying.

In light of revelations that the National Security Agency hacked German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, in addition to recording information about 124 billion phone calls during a 30-day period earlier this year, the fallout against the NSA has accelerated.

Brazil is set to finalize a 34,000-kilometre undersea fiber-optic cable by 2015 that will run from Vladivostok, Russia to Fortaleza, Brazil, via Shantou, China, Chennai, India and Cape Town, South Africa.

According to the Hindu, the project will create, “a network free of US eavesdropping,” which via legislative mandates will also force the likes of Google, Facebook and Yahoo to store all data generated by BRICS nations locally, shielding it from NSA snooping.

“The BRICS countries have the muscle to pull this off,” notes Washington’s Blog. “Each of the BRICS countries are in the top 25 largest economies in the world. China has the world’s second largest economy, India is 3rd, Russia 6th, Brazil 7th, and South Africa 25th.”

However, some privacy experts fear that this will do little to stop the NSA, given that it has tapped undersea cables since the Cold War era. Others are more positive.

“Any alternative would be a positive thing, writes Michael Dorfman. “The more choice you have, the better. Yet no-one can say for sure whether this new Internet will be safer than its US counterpart and will be able to protect the rights of regular users, including the privacy of personal data and free access to resources, more effectively.”

The BRICS cable was already in development months before the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden first became public in June.

In September it emerged that the NSA had been spying on Brazilian government communications as well as Brazilian oil company Petrobras. Spooks hacked into the firm’s computer network to eavesdrop on conversations between CEOs.

The current Internet architecture is dominated by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), which is largely controlled by the United States.

Other entrepreneurs are also fighting back against NSA surveillance. Tech maverick John McAfeerecently announced that he was to fund a $100 gadget named Decentral that would sync up with a modem to thwart NSA spying and provide total anonymity.

Asked what he would do if the US government banned the product, McAfee responded, “I’ll sell it in England, Japan, the Third World. This is coming and cannot be stopped.”

PT Shamrock Mid October 2013 Newsletter‏

Mid October 2013 Newsletter

"People don't realize the extent to which we're surveilled in many,
many ways. The extent to which vast amounts of our transactional
data in all forms - electronic forms, your emails, your tweets, bank
records and everything else - are all subject or suspect in terms
of surveillance. It raises the specter of the rise of so-called
"soft tyranny." It raises the specter of you being automatically
suspicious until you prove that you're not; the specter of a
universal and persistent wiretap on every single person [...] what
happens if they don't like you? What if you speak ill will against
the government? What if you say something they consider disloyal?

Our security has become our state religion, you don't question
it. And if you question it - your loyalty is questioned.

Speaking truth to power is very dangerous. The power elites,
those in charge don't like dirty linen being aired. They don't like
skeletons in the closet being seen. Not only do they object to it,
they decide to turn it into criminal activity. Remember, my whistle
blowing was criminalized by my own government".
- Thomas Drake, who upon exposing the government's blatant disregard
for the Fourth Amendment, was charged under the Espionage Act
(the case ended in an eventual misdemeanor plea bargain).

In this issue:

* Welcome To Freedumbville USSA!
* Bend Over!
* Food for thought
* Mega to run 'cutting-edge' encrypted email after Lavabit's 'privacy seppuku'
* The District of Criminals
* The LowDown On Offshore Banking
* Hackers successfully trick iPhone 5S fingerprint scanner with fake finger
* Police State
* Red Hot Product!
* Financial survival strategies
* Advisory
* The Dumbing Down Continues
* Shamrock's Missive
* Letters To The Editor
* Quote of the month!
* PT Shamrock's Exclusive Member's Site!

*** Welcome To Freedumbville USSA!

How to Avoid the Currency Transaction Trap
- Jay J. Freireich and William F. Healey

Many people are aware that financial institutions are obligated
to file a currency transaction report for deposits, withdrawals,
exchange of currency or other payment or transfer, by, through or
to the financial institution if such transaction involves currency
exceeding $10,000. 31 C.F.R. AS103.22. Some people wish to avoid
the CTR filing, and they therefore complete currency transactions
in increments of less than $10,000. Attempts to avoid currency
transaction reporting are illegal and could result in civil and
criminal penalties. Thus, clients, attorneys and fiduciaries should
be knowledgeable about the salient provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act
contained in 31 U.S.C. AS5311 et seq. The BSA requires the filing
of certain reports or records for financial transactions that have
a â€Å"high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax or regulatory
investigations or proceedings, or in the conduct of intelligence
or counterintelligence activities, including analysis, to protect
against international terrorism.

Brief History of the BSA Reporting Requirements

In 1970 Congress passed the Currency and Foreign Transactions
Reporting Act as part of the BSA. The CFTRA requires financial
institutions involved in currency transactions in excess of
$10,000 to report such transactions to the government. 31
U.S.C. AS5313. Congress recognized many criminal enterprises
and tax evaders operated with large sums of cash, and Congress
therefore determined that significant information relating to
criminal activity, tax evasion and regulatory investigations could
be gleaned from currency transaction reports.

However, the initial version of the CFTRA made avoidance simple. The
currency transaction threshold of $10,000 was unambiguous but
easy to avoid. Customers of financial institutions could deposit
cash in sums less than $10,000 without inducing the notification
requirement. In one case, the defendant entered into three
separate currency transactions all for just under $10,000 with
the same bank on the same date, and the court ruled there was
no obligation for the financial institution to report a CTR, and
therefore, the defendant could not be convicted for violating the
BSA for failing to inform the bank of the structured nature of his
transfers. U.S. v. Anzalone, 766 F.2d 676 (1st Cir. 1985). Further,
the statute and regulations did not adequately address specifics
relating to the currency transactions. For example, the statute
did not address multiple people entering into structured currency
transactions. In one case, multiple defendants, including the
attorney associated with an undercover drug trafficking sting,
were charged under the BSA for converting large sums of cash into
cashiers checks using multiple banks with each currency transaction
involving less than $10,000. Multiple persons converted cash over a
three day period in a structured transaction, but the plain language
of the statute, as it then existed, did not create a duty upon
the defendants to alert the bank to the structured transaction,
or impose a duty on the bank to file a CTR. U.S. v. Vrabel, 780
F.2d 758 (9th Cir. 1985). Other attempts to evade the reporting
requirement included multiple cash deposits of less than $10,000 in
multiple banks, U.S. v. Tobon-Builes, 706 F.2d 1092 (11th Cir. 1983)
and deposits of less than $10,000 into multiple accounts in the same
financial institution. U.S. v. Heyman, 794 F.2d 788 (2nd Cir. 1986)
cert. denied, 479 U.S. 989 (1986). These cases highlighted the
many ways that were available to structure transactions to avoid
reporting requirements under the CFTRA without punishment.

Anti-Structuring Statute and Regulations

To remove the loopholes to the reporting requirements highlighted by
the cases discussed above, the Secretary of the Treasury amended
the regulations to the reporting requirements contained in the
CFTRA. The regulations were amended to clarify that multiple branches
of one bank means the same financial institution, and multiple
currency transactions in one business day will be aggregated to
one transaction. 31 C.F.R. AS103.22(c). However, the financial
institution must have knowledge that the multiple transactions were
by or on behalf of any one person, and the financial institution
must have knowledge the transactions amounted to over $10,000 of
cash in or cash out in a single day to create an obligation on
the financial institution for the filing of the CRT. Although the
regulations were amended to address ambiguities, the CFTRA was not
drafted to impose an obligation on customers to meet the reporting
requirements for large currency transactions. Only financial
institutions were obligated to adhere to the reporting requirements.

In an effort to impose a duty and criminal and civil penalty on
private citizens to follow the reporting requirements, Congress,
in 1987, added 31 U.S.C §5324 as the anti-structuring law of the
BSA. Under the 1987 revision of the BSA, it is now illegal for a
person, in an effort to evade the currency reporting requirements, to
cause a financial institution to fail to file a CTR or to file a CTR
that contains a material omission or misstatement of fact. Further,
the anti-structuring law makes it a criminal act to structure
transactions, assist in structuring transactions or attempt to either
structure transactions or assist in structuring transactions for the
purpose of evading reporting requirements. Structuring transactions
includes dividing one transaction that would have been above the
reporting threshold into multiple transactions.

A person can be convicted of illegally structuring a transaction
to avoid currency reporting requirements, if the government can
prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person engaged in the
act of structuring, and did so with knowledge that the financial
institution involved was legally obligated to report currency
transactions in excess of $10,000 and it was the person's intent
to evade the reporting requirement.

U.S. v. MacPherson, 424 F.3d 183 (2nd Cir. 2005) confirms the
requisite actus reus and mens rea elements for the crime of
structuring. Over a four-month period the defendant deposited a
total of $258,100 in cash by 32 different transactions in three
different bank accounts. The defendant was sure to make every
deposit less than $10,000.

The money was received from legitimate business holdings. The
defendant was particular about his banking and assets out of concern
for a pending civil judgment, but the civil judgment was settled
just prior to when the first structured deposits were made. The
defendant argued he did not have motive to engage in illegal
structuring. The court determined that no criminal predicate as to
the source of the cash in excess of $10,000 is required to prosecute
for structuring. Also, the court had to interpret the willfulness
element of the crime.

The Court construed willfulness to require proof that a defendant,
with knowledge of the reporting requirement imposed by law,
structured a currency transaction intending to deprive the government
of information to which it is entitled. Id at 189. There is no
requirement for the government to further prove that the defendant
acted with knowledge that the conduct was unlawful. Thus, the
anti-structuring law is interpreted that if a person has even vague
knowledge of the reporting requirement and structures transactions
to evade the reporting requirement, the person can be convicted of
structuring. The government does not have the obligation to further
prove the person knew it was a crime to structure the transaction
to evade currency reporting requirements.

The criminal penalty for an individual violating the law could be a
fine of up to $250,000 and a prison sentence of not more than five
years. The fine can be as high as $500,000 for an organization found
guilty. Repeat offenders with a pattern of illegal activity involving
more than $100,000 over a 12-month period or violators who are
also convicted of violating another law could face double the fine
and up to ten years in prison. 31 U.S.C. § 5324(d). Further, a
person found to have structured a transaction to avoid CTR reporting
could face a civil penalty that may not exceed the full amount of
the currency involved in the transaction. 31 U.S.C. AS 5321. Based
on the sentencing guidelines, an individual who is convicted of a
single count of a structured transaction can face jail of up to five
years, a fine of up to $250,000 and forfeiture of all of the currency
involved in the structured transaction. If the person is acting as
a fiduciary of an estate or trust and has structured transactions,
the person is likely to also face a civil suit by the beneficiaries
of the estate or trust for loss of the assets as well.

How the BSA Reporting Requirements Affect Attorneys and Clients

Some clients operate businesses that frequently receive large sums
of cash. Supermarkets are a common example. Supermarkets generate
significant sums of cash daily that must be deposited. Most
supermarket operators are familiar with the bank reporting
requirements. However, there are many clients who come into contact
with significant sums of cash that may not fully understand the
currency reporting requirements and may run afoul by attempting to
structure deposits to avoid currency reporting. Anyone operating a
new venture to sell or purchase goods or services could come across
cash paying clients or may need to withdraw large sums to pay for
goods or services. For example, an antiques dealer can often be
paid in cash.

Fiduciaries can also find themselves subject to bank reporting
requirements. An executor could come across large sums of cash in a
safe deposit box or "under the mattress." Structuring the deposits to
avoid the reporting requirements could result in the executor facing
criminal prosecution under the BSA. In addition to the criminal and
civil penalties the executor would face, the estate's assets are
also subject to forfeiture for violation of the BSA. The executor
would likely face a civil action by the beneficiaries of the estate
for the loss of the estate's assets.


Many clients have vague knowledge of reporting requirements for
cash transactions involving $10,000. Unfortunately, most clients
do not have a full understanding of the potential penalties for
attempting to avoid the reporting requirements. Attorneys and clients
should take caution to abide by the BSA by operating with currency
deposits and withdrawals in the normal course of receiving cash
even if doing so results in the filing of a CTR. Remember, the BSA
was enacted as a tool to provide information to government agencies
to investigate possible criminal activity and tax evasion. Assuming
your clients are not partaking in criminal or tax evading activity,
currency reporting should be of no concern to them.

Shamrock's note: Require a no name, no ID atm card with a US$15,000
per day daily withdrawal limit? Email and place "15K" in your
subject heading.
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*** Bend Over!

Welcome to the end of secrecy The real lesson of the Snowden leaks
is not the threat to privacy. It is the NSA's losing battle against
the new agents of openness
- theguardian.com

It has been said that privacy is dead. Not so. It's secrecy that
is dying. Openness will kill it.

American and British spies undermined the secrecy and security
of everyone using the internet with their efforts to foil
encryption. Then, Edward Snowden foiled them by revealing what is
perhaps - though we may never know - their greatest secret.

When I worried on Twitter that we could not trust encryption now,
technologist Lauren Weinstein responded with assurances that it would
be difficult to hide "backdoors" in commonly used PGP encryption -
because it is open-source.

Openness is the more powerful weapon. Openness is the principle
that guides, for example, Guardian journalism. Openness is all
that can restore trust in government and technology companies. And
openness - in standards, governance, and ethics - must be the basis
of technologists' efforts to take back the the net.

Secrecy is under dire threat but don't confuse that with
privacy. "All human beings have three lives: public, private, and
secret," Gabriel GarcÃ-Â-a Márquez tells his biographer. "Secrecy
is what is known, but not to everyone. Privacy is what allows us to
keep what we know to ourselves," Jill Lepore explains in the New
Yorker. "Privacy is consensual where secrecy is not," write Carol
Warren and Barbara Laslett in the Journal of Social Issues.

Think of it this way: privacy is what we keep to ourselves;
secrecy is what is kept from us. Privacy is a right claimed by
citizens. Secrecy is a privilege claimed by government.

It's often said that the internet is a threat to privacy, but on
the whole, I argue it is not much more of a threat than a gossipy
friend or a nosy neighbor, a slip of the tongue or of the email
"send" button. Privacy is certainly put at risk when we can no
longer trust that our communication, even encrypted, are safe from
government's spying eyes. But privacy has many protectors.

And we all have one sure vault for privacy: our own thoughts. Even
if the government were capable of mind-reading, ProPublica argues
in an essay explaining its reason to join the Snowden story, the
fact of it "would have to be known".

The agglomeration of data that makes us fear for our privacy is
also what makes it possible for one doubting soul - one Manning or
Snowden - to learn secrets. The speed of data that makes us fret
over the the devaluation of facts is also what makes it possible for
journalists' facts to spread before government can stop them. The
essence of the Snowden story, then, isn't government's threat to
privacy, so much as it is government's loss of secrecy.

Oh, it will take a great deal for government to learn that
lesson. Its first response is to try to match a loss of secrecy with
greater secrecy, with a war on the agents of openness: whistleblowers
and journalists and news organizations. President Obama had the
opportunity to meet Snowden's revelations - redacted responsibly
by the Guardian - with embarrassment, apology, and a vow to make
good on his promise of transparency. He failed.

But the agents of openness will continue to wage their war on

In a powerful charge to fellow engineers, security expert Bruce
Schneier urged them to fix the net that "some of us have helped to
subvert." Individuals must make a moral choice, whether they will
side with secrecy or openness.

So must their companies. Google and Microsoft are suing government
to be released from their secret restrictions - but there is still
more they can say. I would like Google to explain what British
agents could mean when they talk of "new access opportunities being
developed" at the company. Google's response - "we have no evidence
of any such thing ever occurring" - would be more reassuring if it
were more specific.

This latest story demonstrates that the Guardian, now in partnership
with the New York Times and ProPublica, as well as publications
in Germany and Brazil that have pursued their own surveillance
stories, will continue to report openly in spite of government acts
of intimidation.

I am disappointed that more news organizations, especially in London,
are not helping support the work of openness by adding reporting of
their own and editorializing against government overreach. I am also
saddened that my American colleagues in news industry organizations,
as well as journalism education groups, are not protesting loudly.

But even without them, what this story teaches is that it takes
only one technologist, one reporter, one news organization to defeat
secrecy. At length, openness will out.
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Food for thought

World's overlooked countries to buy second citizenship, residency
- Ramy Inocencio, CNN

The tropical Caribbean island country of St. Kitts and Nevis has
the world's longest-running citizenship-by-investment program. For
$250,000, you get a second passport with access to nearly 130
countries. Another perk: no personal income tax. The tropical
Caribbean island country of St. Kitts and Nevis has the world's
longest-running citizenship-by-investment program. For $250,000, you
get a second passport with access to nearly 130 countries. Another
perk: no personal income tax.

For just $100,000 you can gain citizenship by investment to the
Commonwealth of Dominica, also in the Caribbean Ocean. The country
has just 73,000 people. Passport holders have visa-free access to
about 85 countries.

Those interested in buying citizenship through investment should
keep watch on the Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda. The
government could make it legal as early as the summer of 2013.

In Europe, Austria is the only country where citizenship by
investment is possible.

In Hong Kong, citizenship by investment is not a possibility,
but residency by investment is. With a $1.3 million investment,
you can enjoy one of the lowest tax rates in the world and
heavily-subsidized, well-regarded public health care.

Singapore has its Global Investor Program where applicants can invest
$2 million for permanent residency. Citizenship is possible after
two years.

Australia launched the Significant Investor Visa program in November
2012. The scheme targets high-worth individuals and asks for $4.7
million in investment. After four years, holders can apply for
permanent residency. Citizenship is also possible. Here, the Sydney
Opera House explodes in color at Vivid Sydney 2013.

New citizenship can be bought for as little as $100,000 on island
of Dominica. St. Kitts and Nevis has world's longest-running
citizenship-by-investment scheme. "Hong Kong is best choice in Asia
for residency by investment" Austria is only country in Europe to have
citizenship-by-investment as possibility

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Are you jaded with your home country, want to
pay lower taxes, enjoy the freedom to travel and strive for a higher
quality of life?

Well, if you have as little as $100,000 then you could buy
citizenship to a tiny, tropical Caribbean nation that ticks all of
those boxes. Bump an investment up to $5 million and your

quality of life could rocket as you go Down Under; double that and
Viennese coffee could start your morning routine -- with prized
access through nearly all of Europe.

Aside from obvious countries like the United States, Canada and
the United Kingdom, who have investor programs and pathways to
citizenship, here's a list of countries you might have
overlooked. They will welcome you -- if you show them the money.

1. St. Kitts and Nevis

Cash for citizenship is an easy concept to understand. It best
applies to just two countries in the world -- both of which happen
to be in the Caribbean -- and is 100% legal and can happen

in as little as a few months.

The smallest nation in all of the Americas, the island federation
of St. Kitts and Nevis, tempts would-be citizens with more than
just tropical breezes, swaying palm trees and white sand
beaches. It also touts no personal income tax, the allowance for
multiple citizenship and visa-free access to nearly 130 countries
and territories.

"Overall, St. Kitts and Nevis clearly offers the most attractive
citizenship-by-investment program available today."

Established in 1984, St. Kitts and Nevis' citizenship-by-investment
scheme is the longest-running program in the world and offers two
avenues to a new passport.

The cheaper option requires a $250,000 contribution to the country's
Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation. Started in 2006, it aims
to shift the country from a sugar-dependent to a
service-oriented economy.

Real estate investment -- and a higher $400,000 investment -- is
the second route to citizenship. A government website conveniently
lists nearly 60 approved developments -- with alluring
names like Sundance Ridge, Calypso Bay and Windswept Residence.

Anyone in the world can apply for citizenship, save one country:
Iran. Iranian nationals had been eligible until late 2011 when the
Prime Minister's Office suspended the program after
Iranians stormed the British embassy in Tehran.

When contacted by CNN, a St. Kitts and Nevis spokeswoman said the
number of applicants accepted under the citizenship-by-investment
program "is confidential information that the CIU does
not provide to the public."

2. Dominica

If you have less money to invest, Dominica is another tropical
Caribbean destination to consider.

In all of Asia, in terms of freedom to move capital, taxation and
residency requirements, Hong Kong would be the best choice.

Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, this island of just
around 73,000 people has offered a citizenship-by-investment scheme
since 1993. Among four package options, a single applicant investment
requires just a $100,000 deposit to the National Bank of Dominica, the
country's largest financial institution. The investment amount doubles for
a family of four.

Applicants must be of "outstanding character," must wait "at least
eight weeks" for approval and must have a "basic level" of English,
according to Dominica's website detailing the citizenship path.

An added bonus: investors can stay in their home country for the
mandatory interview provided they foot the bill for three members
of the interview panel to fly to them -- the full cost of
hotel, airfare, an unspecified per diem and an additional $3,000.

However, the lower investment hurdle, relative to St. Kitts and
Nevis, only gives visa-free access to 85 countries.

More than 2,000 families have gained citizenship through the scheme.

3. Antigua and Barbuda

While not yet official, this third Caribbean island nation may
allow economic citizenship as soon as this summer.

After years of back and forth, the country's parliament finally
passed their controversial Citizenship-by-Investment Program (CIP)
Bill in March, according to local reports.

Similar to St. Kitts and Nevis, a $250,000 contribution to the
country's National Development Fund or a $400,000 real estate
investment in approved developments is required. A third option
is a $1.5 million "business investment" that allows an applicant
to put money in government-approved businesses.

An additional $50,000 application fee and a so-called $7,500 "due
diligence fee" exist on top of the investment amount.

If approved, new citizens will enjoy visa-free access to nearly
120 countries, which include the United Kingdom, France and Canada.

4. Austria

In Europe, Austria stands as the lone country where citizenship by
investment is possible.

The route, taken by few and accomplished by even fewer, can happen
for "rendering exceptional services in the interest of the Republic,"
according to an Austrian government website. One such service that
has cleared prior clients, is a direct investment of $10 million -- a claim
reportedly refuted by an Austrian government spokeswoman based in
Washington, D.C.

Still, successful applicants for Austrian citizenship can live in
a country whose capital, Vienna, ranked as the world's best city
for quality of life in a 2012 Mercer survey.

Applicants must be of 'outstanding character,' must wait at least
eight weeks for approval. Dominica government

But you get what you pay for: Austria, with its 50% personal income
tax rate, ranks among one of the highest in the world. A workaround
is simply to live elsewhere in Europe. Only Austrian citizens who actually
reside in the country are subject to taxes.

An Austrian passport easily gives that option by opening many
borders. The country is a member of the Schengen Area with its 26
countries spanning most of western Europe sharing common
borders without immigration control -- not to mention more than
160 countries in total around the world -- on par with Australia
and Canada.

Publishers Note: Interested in Austrian residency on the cheap?
Email and place "Austria" in your subject heading.

5. Hong Kong

While citizenship-by-investment in Hong Kong is not a possibility,
residency-by-investment is. And this Chinese territory's tax rate
of just 15% stands as one of this city's biggest draws.

"In all of Asia, in terms of freedom to move capital, taxation
and residency requirements, Hong Kong would be the best choice."

Under Hong Kong's Capital Investment Entrant Scheme, or CIES,
an investment of about $1.3 million gives applicants residency
rights. You can buy stocks in companies listed on the Hong Kong

Stock Exchange, debt securities in airport or railway companies or
certificates of deposits that mature after just one year.

In addition to enjoying one of the lowest tax rates in the world,
residents can use the city's well-regarded public health care system
-- just $13 to see an outpatient specialist versus about $150 for

Permanent residents have also gotten money back from the
government. Under Hong Kong's "Scheme $6,000" whose aim is "to
leave wealth with the people," more than 6 million people
successfully registered to receive roughly US$770 each. Doing the
math, that's potentially $4.6 billion back to the people since the
program began in the summer of 2011. Hong Kong is
waiting on word of the program's continuance.

Hong Kong also tempts with a rare nexus of natural and man-made
architecture. Lush mountains with 300 kilometers of hiking trails
crisscross the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR);

Nearly 18,000 people have gained residency by investment in Hong
Kong. To maintain permanent residency status, just one visit every
three years is required.

In 2012, human resources consultancy ECA International ranked Hong
Kong as Asia's third most livable city, with Sydney coming in second.

6. Singapore

However Singapore ranked as Asia's number one livable city in 2012,
according to ECA International.

Similar to Hong Kong, the Lion City's personal income tax rates
are among the lowest in Asia -- ranging from 15% to 20% depending
on income bracket, according to auditing firm KPMG.

But "for Singapore, it would not be so easy" to become a permanent
resident, said Jacqueline Low, COO at immigration services firm
Janus. "The criteria are quite high."

Potential applicants must have a three-year track record of business
and entrepreneurial experience, Low add. They must also prove past
profitability -- annual revenues of some $160 million in real estate and
construction-related industries or revenues of about $40 million for all
other industries, including pharmaceuticals and manufacturing.

With such foundations, candidates can then apply to Singapore's
sole track to permanent residency, the Global Investor Program. This
scheme requires an investment of nearly $2 million. The funds can go
towards starting a new business or expand one already in operation. Money
can also be routed to an approved list of funds that help grow targeted
industries ranging from nanotechnology, healthcare and clean energy.

Coupled with low tax rates, applicants who successfully gain
permanent resident status can then access healthcare subsidies
ranging from 15% to 75%, education subsidies for their children,
child-care subsidies and tax deferrals.

Cons for permanent residency include mandatory military service
for second-generation males who are also permanent residents,
well-known censorship of press freedoms and seasonal smog
blankets from Indonesian forest fires.

The Singaporean government does not release information on the
numbers of candidates or successful GIP applicants, says Janus'
Low. However, since the middle of 2012 she notes "Singapore's
immigration policies have been tightened across the board because
of the sentiments on the ground" -- a reference to growing public
unease over the number of migrants to the city.

The number of applicants that Janus has seen have "fallen
considerably over the past year," she added, but the quality of
applicants has risen.

For applicants who are successful, however, permanent residency
is a pathway to Singaporean citizenship after just two years. A
Singaporean passport gives access to more than 160 countries
around the world -- just five less than the United States.

7. Australia

If you have money to burn and want to go down under for permanent
residency and potential citizenship, then Australia's Significant
Investor Visa is the way to start.

Launched in November 2012, the program targets high
net-worth individuals and requires a roughly $4.7 million
investment. Applicants can invest in government bonds, infrastructure

or private companies.

In return -- and in as little as three months -- a significant
investor visa can be issued. After four years, holders can apply
for permanent residency.

From the program's launch through May, more than 170 applications
have been filed. If all are given the green light, Australia will
receive $850 million in new foreign investment.

Benefits to Australian residency include free health care, some
of the world's best beaches and visa-free access to more than 160
countries -- on par with passport holders from the United

States and United Kingdom.

And Australian cities have received many high accolades. In 2012,
the Economist Intelligence Unit chose Melbourne as the world's most
livable city. And in 2011, Conde Nast travelers voted

Sydney as the world's best.

But for all the roses, there are also thorns -- and Australians pay
for what they get. The country has a 45% personal income tax rate,
according to KPMG, besting the U.S.' 39.5% rate.

And with Australia's chronically strong dollar, Sydney and Melbourne
ranked as two of the world's five most expensive cities to live in
2012, according to the 2013 Worldwide Cost of Living

Survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Shamrock's note; Need a second or third passport with a name change
and without the need for a police report? Email and place "2PP"
in your subject heading.
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*** Mega to run 'cutting-edge' encrypted email after Lavabit's
'privacy seppuku'
- RT.com

Kim Dotcom's Mega.co.nz is working on a highly-secure email service
to run on a non-US-based server. It comes as the US squeezes email
providers that offer encryption and Mega's CEO calls Lavabit's
shutdown an "honorable act of Privacy Seppuku."

Mega's Chief Executive Vikram Kumar, who is heading the development
of the company's own end-to-end encryption technology to protect
the privacy of the future email's users, has reacted to the Lavabit
founder's decision to suspend his service's operations - an act,
which was shortly followed by voluntary closing down of another
secure email service, Silent Circle.

Mega CEO Vikram Kumar (Photo from Vikram Kumar's LinkedIn
profile)"These are acts of 'Privacy Seppuku' - honorably and publicly
shutting down ("suicide") rather than being forced to comply with
laws and courts intent on violating people's privacy," Kumar said
in his blog post.

The concept he was referring to was developed by secure service
providers such as Cryptocloud, which made a 'corporate seppuku'
pledge to oppose the mass surveillance and shield the privacy of
their users' data. The name for the move apparently derives from a
Japanese ritual suicide, which was originally practiced by samurai
to preserve honor.

According to Cryptocloud team's board post cited by Kumar, "corporate
seppuku" is "shutting down a company rather than agreeing to become
an extension of the massive, ever-expanding, secretive global
surveillance network organized by the US National Security Agency."

This way, if the company receives a secret order from the NSA
"to become a real-time participant in ongoing, blanket, secret
surveillance of its customers," it will not be forced into doing
it. The pledge it made to its users will make it terminate itself
instead, thus making the data mining impossible.

Such a policy manifests that "there is always a choice" for any
company approached by the agents, while at the same time placing
the users' security in the highest priority.

Owner and operator of Lavabit.com Ladar Levison on Thursday wrote
that his nine-year-old encrypted email service was shutting down in
order to avoid becoming "complicit in crimes against the American

"We see the writing the wall, and we have decided that it is best
for us to shut down Silent Mail now," Silent Circle founder Jon
Callas then wrote in a blog post.

But as Cryptocloud urged all the companies to make an ultimate
privacy-protecting pledge, NSA leaker Edward Snowden said in an
email to The Guardian that the internet giants are unlikely to join
such action - although it could yield much greater results. He
called for Google and Facebook to question their current stance,
calling Lavabit's owner decision "inspiring."

"Employees and leaders at Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple,
and the rest of our internet titans must ask themselves why they
aren't fighting for our interests the same way small businesses
are. The defense they have offered to this point is that they were
compelled by laws they do not agree with, but one day of downtime
for the coalition of their services could achieve what a hundred
Lavabits could not," Snowden said.

Mega doing 'true crypto work for masses'

Meanwhile, Kumar has been involved in an email service project with
what he says is exceptional level of encryption.

Mega has been doing an "exciting" but "very hard" and time-consuming
job of developing both highly-secure and functional email service,
Kumar told ZDNet.

"The biggest tech hurdle is providing email functionality that people
expect, such as searching emails, that are trivial to provide if
emails are stored in plain text (or available in plain text) on the
server side. If all the server can see is encrypted text, as is the
case with true end-to-end encryption, then all the functionality
has to be built client side," he explained, adding that even Silent
Circle did not try to achieve such a feat.

"On this and other fronts, Mega is doing some hugely cutting-edge
stuff. There is probably no one in the world who takes the Mega
approach of making true crypto work for the masses, our core
proposition," Kumar said.

According to the company's founder Dotcom, Mega doesn't hold
decryption keys to customer accounts and "never will", thus making
it impossible for it to read the emails. This also means that Mega by
design cannot be forced to rat on its users by intelligence agencies.

However, Dotcom earlier told TorrentFreak that a new spy legislation
being pushed by the US and its Five Eyes alliance partners - UK,
Canada, Australia and New Zealand - may force Mega to relocate
its servers to some country exempt from such jurisdictions, such
as Iceland.

The New Zealand government is already "aggressively" eyeing
legislation that will compel all internet service providers in the
country to design a "secret decryption access" for the intelligence
agencies, he said.
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*** The District of Criminals

Destroying the Right to Be Left Alone
- TomDispatch.com

The NSA Isn't the Only Government Agency Exploiting Technology to
Make Privacy Obsolete

For at least the last six years,
government agents have been exploiting an AT&T database
filled with the records of billions of American phone calls
from as far back as 1987. The rationale behind this dragnet
intrusion, codenamed Hemisphere, is to find suspicious links
between people with "burner" phones (prepaid mobile phones
easy to buy, use, and quickly dispose of), which are popular
with drug dealers. The secret information gleaned from this
relationship with the telecommunications giant has been used to
convict Americans of various crimes, all without the defendants
or the courts having any idea how the feds stumbled upon them in
the first place. The program is so secret, so powerful, and so
alarming that agents "are instructed to never refer to Hemisphere
in any official document," according to a recently released
government PowerPoint slide.

You're probably assuming that we're talking about another blanket
National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program focused on
the communications of innocent Americans, as revealed by the
whistleblower Edward Snowden. We could be, but we're not. We're
talking about a program of the Drug Enforcement Administration
(DEA), a domestic law enforcement agency.

While in these last months the NSA has cast a long, dark shadow
American privacy,
don't for a second imagine that it's the only government agency
systematically and often secretly intruding on our lives. In fact,
a remarkable traffic jam of local, state, and federal government
authorities turn out to be exploiting technology to wriggle into
the most intimate crevices of our lives, take notes, use them for
their own purposes, or simply file them away for years on end.

"Technology in this world is moving faster than
government or law can keep up," the CIA's Chief
Technology Officer Gus Hunt told a tech conference
in March. "It's moving faster I would argue than you can keep up:
You should be asking the question of what are your rights and who
owns your data."

Hunt's right. The American public and the legal system have been
left in the dust when it comes to infringements and intrusions on
privacy. In one way, however, he was undoubtedly being coy. After
all, the government is an active, eager, and early adopter of
intrusive technologies that make citizens' lives transparent
on demand.

Increasingly, the relationship between Americans and their government
has come to resemble a one-way mirror dividing an interrogation
room. Its operatives and agents can see us whenever they want,
while we can never quite be sure if there's someone on the other
side of the glass watching and recording what we say or what we do --
and many within local, state, and federal government want to ensure
that no one ever flicks on the light on their side of the glass.

So here's a beginner's guide to some of what's happening on the
other side of that mirror.

*You Won't Need a Warrant for That*

Have no doubt: the Fourth Amendment
is fast becoming an artifact of a paper-based world.

The core idea behind that amendment, which prohibits the
government from "unreasonable searches and seizures," is that
its representatives only get to invade people's private space --
their "persons, houses, papers, and effects" -- after it convinces
a judge that they're up to no good. The technological advances of
the last few decades have, however, seriously undermined this core
constitutional protection against overzealous government agents,
because more and more people don't store their private information
in their homes or offices, but on company servers.

Consider email.

In a series of rulings from the 1970's,
the Supreme Court created "the third-party doctrine
Simply stated, information shared with third parties like banks and
doctors no longer enjoys protection under the Fourth Amendment. After
all, the court reasoned, if you shared that information with someone
else, you must not have meant to keep it private, right? But online
almost everything is shared with third parties, particularly your
private e-mail.

Back in 1986, Congress recognized that
this was going to be a problem. In response,
it passed the Electronic Communications Privacy Act

(ECPA). That law was forward-looking for its day, protecting
the privacy of electronic communications transmitted by
computer. Unfortunately, it hasn't aged well.

Nearly three decades ago, Congress couldn't decide if email was more
like a letter or a phone call (that is, permanent or transitory),
so it split the baby and decreed that communications which remain
on a third party's server -- think Google -- for longer than
180 days are considered abandoned and lose any expectation of
privacy. After six months are up, all the police have to do is
issue an administrative subpoena -- a legal request a judge never
sees -- demanding the emails it wants from the service provider,
because under ECPA they're considered junk.

This made some sense back when people downloaded important emails to
their home or office computers and deleted the rest since storage
was expensive. If, at the time, the police had wanted to look at
someone's email, a judge would have had to give them the okay to
search the computer where the emails were stored.

Email doesn't work like that anymore. People's emails containing
their most personal information now reside on company computers
forever or, in geek speak, "in the cloud." As a result, the ECPA has
become a dangerous anachronism. For instance, Google's email service,
Gmail, is nearly a decade old. Under that law, without a judge's
stamp of approval or the user ever knowing, the government can now
demand from Google access to years of a Gmail user's correspondence,
containing political rants, love letters, embarrassing personal
details, sensitive financial and health records, and more.

And that shouldn't be acceptable now that email has become an
intimate repository of information detailing who we are, what
we believe, who we associate with, who we make love to, where we
work, and where we pray. That's why commonsense legislative reforms
to the ECPA, such as treating email like a piece of mail, are
so necessary. Then the police would be held to the same standard
electronically as in the paper-based world: prove to a judge that
a suspect's email probably contains evidence of a crime or hands off.

Law enforcement, of course, remains opposed to any such changes
for a reason as understandable as it is undemocratic: it makes
investigators' jobs easier. There's no good reason why a letter
sitting in a desk and an email stored on Google's servers don't
deserve the same privacy protections, and law enforcement knows it,
which is why fear-mongering is regularly called upon to stall such
an easy fix to antiquated privacy laws.

As Department of Justice Associate
Deputy Attorney General James Baker put it
in April 2011, "Congress should also recognize that raising the
standard for obtaining information under ECPA may substantially slow
criminal and national security investigations." In other words,
ECPA reform would do exactly what the Fourth Amendment intended:
prevent police from unnecessarily intruding into our lives.

*Nowhere to Hide*

"You are aware of the fact that somebody can know where you
are at all times, because you carry a mobile device, even
if that mobile device is turned off," the CIA's Hunt explained
to the audience at that tech conference. "You know this, I
hope? Yes? Well, you should."

You have to hand it to Hunt; his talk wasn't your typical stale
government presentation. At times, he sounded like Big Brother with
a grin.

And it's true: the smartphone in your pocket is a tracking device
that also happens to allow you to make calls, read email, and
tweet. Several times every minute, your mobile phone lets your
cell-phone provider know where you are, producing a detail-rich
history of where you have been for months, if not years, on
end. GPS-enabled applications do the same. Unfortunately, there's no
way to tell for sure how long the companies hang onto such location
data because they won't disclose that information.

We do know, however, that law enforcement regularly feasts
on these meaty databases, easily obtaining a person's location
history and other subscriber information. All that's needed to
allow the police to know someone's whereabouts over an extended
period is an officer's word to a judge that the records sought
would aid an ongoing investigation. Judges overwhelmingly comply
with such police requests, forcing companies to turn over their
customers' location data. The reason behind this is a familiar one:
law enforcement argues that the public has no reasonable expectation
of privacy because location data is freely shared with service or
app providers. Customers, the argument goes, have already waived
their privacy rights by voluntarily choosing to use their mobile
phone or app.

Police also use cell-phone signals and GPS-enabled devices to track
people in real time. Not surprisingly, there is relatively little
clarity about when police do this, thanks in part to purposeful
obfuscation by the government. Since 2007, the Department of
Justice has recommended that its U.S. attorneys get a warrant for
real-time location tracking using GPS and cell signals transmitted
by suspects' phones. But such "recommendations" aren't considered
binding, so many U.S. Attorneys simply ignore them.

The Supreme Court has begun to weigh in but the
issue is far from settled. In /United States v. Jones/
the justices
ruled that, when officers attach a GPS tracking device to a car to
monitor a suspect's movements, the police are indeed conducting a
"search" under the Fourth Amendment. The court, however, stopped
there, deciding not to rule on whether the use of tracking devices
was unreasonable without a judge's say so.

In response to that incomplete ruling, the Justice Department drew
up two post-/Jones/ memos establishing guidelines for its agents
and prosecutors regarding location-tracking technology. When the
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a Freedom of Information
Act request for those guidelines, the Justice Department handed over
all 111 pages, every one of them redacted -- an informational

The message couldn't be any clearer: the FBI doesn't believe
Americans deserve to know when they can and cannot legally be
tracked. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor drove home what's at
stake in her concurring decision in the /Jones/ case. "Awareness that
the Government may be watching chills associational and expressive
freedoms," she wrote. "And the Government's unrestrained power to
assemble data that reveal private aspects of identity is susceptible
to abuse... [and] may 'alter the relationship between citizen and
government in a way that is inimical to democratic society.'"

The ability of police to secretly track people with little or no
oversight is a power once only associated with odious police states
overseas. Law enforcement agencies in the United States, however,
do this regularly and enthusiastically, and they do their best as
well to ensure that no barriers will be thrown in their way in the
near future.

*Sting(ray) Operations*

During one of his last appearances before Congress as FBI director,
Robert Mueller confirmed what many insiders already assumed. Asked by
Senator Chuck Grassley whether the FBI operates drones domestically
and for what purpose, Mueller responded, "Yes, and for surveillance
This was a stunning revelation, particularly since most Americans
associate drone use with robotic killing in distant lands.

And, Grassley followed up, had the FBI developed
drone guidelines to ensure that American privacy was
protected? The Bureau, Mueller replied, was in the beginning phase
of developing them. Senator Dianne Feinstein, hardly a privacy
hawk, seemed startled by the answer: "I think the greatest threat
to the privacy of Americans is the drone, and the use of the drone,
and the very few regulations that are on it today," she said.

The senator shouldn't have been shocked. The government's adoption
of new intrusive technologies without bothering to publicly explore
their privacy implications -- or any safeguards that it might be
advisable to put in place first -- isn't an aberration. It's standard
practice. As a result, Americans are put in the position of secretly
subsidizing their own surveillance with their tax dollars.

In July, for example, the ACLU published a report
license-plate readers by police departments and state agencies
across the country. Mounted on patrol cars, bridges, and overpasses,
the cameras for these readers capture the images of every license
plate in view and run them against databases for license plates
associated with stolen cars or cars used in a crime. Theoretically,
when there's a hit, police are alerted and someone bad goes to
jail. The problems arise, however, when there's no hit. Most police
departments decide to hang onto those license-plate images anyway,
creating yet another set of vast databases of innocent people's
location history that's easy to abuse.

Since technology almost always outpaces the law, regulations
on license plate readers are often lax or nonexistent. Rarely do
police departments implement data-retention time limits so that the
license plates of perfectly innocent people are purged from their
systems. Nor do they set up rules to ensure that only authorized
officers can query the database when there's evidence that a
particular license plate might be attached to a crime. Often there
aren't even rules to prevent the images from being widely shared
with other government agencies or even private companies. These are,
in other words, systems which give law enforcement another secret
way to track people without judicial oversight and are ripe for
privacy abuse.

As is often the case with security
technology -- for instance, full-body scanners
airports -- there's little evidence that license plate readers are
worthwhile enough as crime fighting tools to compensate for their
cost in privacy terms. Take Maryland. In the first five months of
2012, for every million license plates read in that state, there
were just 2,000 "hits." Of those 2,000, only 47 were potentially
associated with serious crimes. The vast majority were for minor
regulatory violations, such as a suspended or revoked vehicle

And then there's the Stingray, a device first used
in our distant wars and so intrusive
that the FBI has tried to keep it secret
-- even from the courts. A Stingray mimics a cell-phone tower,
tricking all wireless devices in an area to connect to it instead
of the real thing. Police can use it to track suspects in real time,
even indoors, as well as nab the content of their communications. The
Stingray is also indiscriminate. By fooling all wireless devices
in an area into connecting to it, the government engages in what
is obviously an unreasonable search and seizure of the wireless
information of every person whose device gets caught up in the

And when the federal government isn't secretly using dragnet
surveillance technologies, it's pushing them down to state and
local governments through Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
grants. The ACLU of Northern California has, for example, reported
that DHS grant funds have been used by state and local police
to subsidize or purchase automated license plate readers, whose
images then flow into federal databases. Similarly, the city
of San Diego has used such funds to buy a facial recognition system
and DHS grants have been used to
install local video surveillance systems

In July, Oakland accepted

$2 million in federal funds to establish an around-the-clock
"Domain Awareness Center," which will someday integrate existing
surveillance cameras and thermal imaging devices at the Port of
Oakland with the Oakland Police Department's surveillance cameras
and license plate readers, as well as cameras owned by city public
schools, the California Highway Patrol, and other outfits and
institutions. Once completed, the system will leverage more than
1,000 camera feeds across the city.

Sometimes I Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me

What makes high-tech surveillance so pernicious is its silent,
magical quality. Historically, when government agents invaded
people's privacy they had to resort to the blunt instruments of
force and violence, either torturing the body in the belief it could
unlock the mind's secrets or kicking down doors to rifle through
a target's personal effects and communications. The revolution in
communications technology has made such intrusions look increasingly
sloppy and obsolete. Why break a skull or kick down a door when
you can read someone's search terms or web-surfing history?

In the eighteenth century, philosopher Jeremy Bentham conceived
of a unique idea for a prison. He called it a "panopticon
inmates would be constantly exposed to view without ever being able
to see their wardens: a total surveillance prison. Today, creating an
electronic version of Bentham's panopticon is an increasingly trivial
technological task. Given the seductive possibilities now embedded
in our world, only strong legal protections would prevent the
government from feeling increasingly free to intrude on our lives.

If anything, though, our legal protections are weakening and privacy
is being devalued, which means that Americans with a well-developed
sense of self-preservation increasingly assume the possibility of
surveillance and watch what they do online and elsewhere. Those who
continue to value privacy in a big way may do things that seem a
little off: put Post-it notes over their computer cameras, watch
what they tweet or post on Facebook, or write their emails as if
some omnipresent eye is reading over their shoulders. Increasingly,
what once would have been considered paranoid seems prescient
--self-defense and commonsense all rolled into one.

It's hard to know just what the cumulative effect will be of a
growing feeling that nothing is truly private anymore. Certainly,
a transparent life has the potential to rob an individual of the
sense of security necessary for experimentation with new ideas
and new identities without fear that you are being monitored for
deviations from the norm. The inevitable result for many will be
self-censorship with all its corrosive effects on the rights of
free speech, expression, and association.

*The Unknown Unknowns*

Note that we've only begun a tour through the
ways in which American privacy is currently
under assault by our own government. Other examples
abound. There is E-Verify's proposed giant "right-to-work" list
of everyone eligible to work in the United States. There
are law enforcement agencies that actively monitor social media sites
like Facebook and Twitter. There are the
Department of Homeland Security's research and development
efforts to create cameras armed with almost omniscient
facial recognition technology, not to speak of
passports issued with radio frequency identification
technology. There are networked surveillance camera feeds that flow
into government systems. There is NSA
surveillance data that's finding its way into
domestic drug investigations, which is then hidden
by the DEA from defense lawyers, prosecutors, and the courts to
ensure the surveillance data stream continues unchallenged.

And here's the thing: this is only what we know about. As former
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once put it, "there are also
unknown unknowns we do not know we don't know." It would be the height of naïveté
to believe that government organizations across this country --
from the federal to the municipal level -- aren't engaged in other
secret and shocking privacy intrusions that have yet to be revealed
to us. If the last few months have taught us anything, it should
be that we are in a world of unknown unknowns.

Today, government agencies act as if they deserve the benefit
of the doubt as they secretly do things ripped from the pages of
science-fiction novels. Once upon a time, that's not how things were
to run in a land where people prized their right to be let alone
and government of the people, by the people, and for the people
was supposed to operate in the open. The government understands
this perfectly well: Why else would its law enforcement agents
and officers regularly go to remarkable lengths, sometimes at
remarkable cost, to conceal their actions from the rest of us and
the legal system that is supposed to oversee their acts? Which is
why whistleblowers like Edward Snowden are so important: they mount
the last line of defense when the powers-that-be get too accustomed
to operating in the dark.

Without our very own Snowdens working in the county sheriff's
departments or big city police departments or behemoth federal
bureaucracies, especially with the world of newspapers capsizing,
the unknowns are ever more likely to stay unknown, while what little
privacy we have left vanishes.
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*** The LowDown On Offshore Banking

Currently the large US Corporations can mostly avoid federal taxation
on their overseas profit, as long as they don't bring the money back
to the US. As a result, US companies have built up large stockpiles
of cash offshore whilst legally avoiding paying tax on those vast
sums of monies.

The good news is that you don't have to be an Apple, Google or
General Electric with millions of dollars to avail yourself of
offshore loopholes, because truly intricate albeit legal loopholes
remain possible for you the reader, without vast sums of money
being required.

Our favorite four letter word is FREE. Get this FREE report, "The
Lowdown on Offshore Banking! or How To Stop Worrying and Love A
Non-Private World!" at http://www.ptshamrock.com/books/lowdown.html
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*** Hackers successfully trick iPhone 5S fingerprint scanner with fake finger
- Meghan Kelly

The Chaos Computer Club delivered yet another way to get around
your new iPhone 5S's Touch ID.

Apple introduced a special fingerprint sensor in its latest iPhone
release that replaces the passcode as a "more secure" way of
accessing your device. But nothing is perfect, as we all know. The
"biometrics hacking team" of the Chaos Computer Club discovered that
all you need is a glue model of someone's fingerprint and you, too,
can bypass the lock screen.

"This demonstrates - again - that fingerprint biometrics is
unsuitable as access control method and should be avoided," the
group said in a blog post.

CCC explained that fingerprint biometric scanning is not a strong
defense against unwanted people because we leave our fingerprints
"everywhere." If someone really wanted to get into the phone they
could easily lift one of your fingerprints off of the phone's surface
and replicate it for future use. Of course, it takes a little more
dedication to create an actual model of the fingerprint as opposed
to just holding up a piece of paper.

In the iPhone's case a piece of paper wouldn't work because the
sensors on the phone are higher resolution than you normally see. The
CCC dealt with this by taking a picture of the fingerprint with a
2400 dpi resolution camera. The picture is then "cleaned up" on a
computer and printed with heavy toner onto a transparent sheet. After
that, the group smeared latex or woodglue on the sheet, let it dry,
and then removed the latex which, at that point, had become a model
of the fingerprint. The CCC says it breathes on the latex to make
it moist and life-like, lays it over an existing finger, and then
tries to open the lock screen. It published a video of this tactic
working successfully, which you can watch above.

Last week we saw a less-intensive way to bypass the lock screen
through a vulnerability in the calculator and timer apps. All you
have to do is press the power button until the turn-off slider pops
up, click cancel, double tap the home button, and then you've got
access to some, but not all of the phone's locked functions.

So, while it's a stretch that your average user would be willing
to go to these lengths to get inside your phone, keep in mind that
not all locking mechanisms are fool-proof.

Video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HM8b8d8kSNQ
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*** Police State

Everything you need to know about PRISM

A cheat sheet for the NSA's unprecedented surveillance programs
- Verge Staff

Since September 11th, 2001, the United States government has
dramatically increased the ability of its intelligence agencies to
collect and investigate information on both foreign subjects and US
citizens. Some of these surveillance programs, including a secret
program called PRISM, capture the private data of citizens who are
not suspected of any connection to terrorism or any wrongdoing.

In June, a private contractor working for Booz Allen Hamilton leaked
classified presentation slides that detailed the existence and the
operations of PRISM: a mechanism that allows the government to
collect user data from companies like Microsoft, Google, Apple,
Yahoo, and others. While much of the program - and the rest of
the NSA's surveillance efforts - are still shrouded in secrecy,
more details are coming to light as the public, as well as its
advocates and representatives, pressure the government to come
clean about domestic spying.

The what

What the hell is PRISM? PRISM is a tool used by the US National
Security Agency (NSA) to collect private electronic data belonging to
users of major internet services like Gmail, Facebook, Outlook, and
others. It's the latest evolution of the US government's post-9/11
electronic surveillance efforts, which began under President
Bush with the Patriot Act, and expanded to include the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) enacted in 2006 and 2007.

There's a lot we still don't know about how PRISM works, but the
basic idea is that it allows the NSA to request data on specific
people from major technology companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook,
Microsoft, Apple, and others. The US government insists that it is
only allowed to collect data when given permission by the secretive
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Why is PRISM a big deal?

Classified presentation slides detailing aspects of PRISM were
leaked by a former NSA contractor. On June 6th, The Guardian and The
Washington Post published reports based on the leaked slides, which
state that the NSA has "direct access" to the servers of Google,
Facebook, and others. In the days since the leak, the implicated
companies have vehemently denied knowledge of and participation in
PRISM, and have rejected allegations that the US government is able
to directly tap into their users' data.

Both the companies and the government insist that data is only
collected with court approval and for specific targets. As The
Washington Post reported, PRISM is said to merely be a streamlined
system - varying between companies - that allows them to expedite
court-approved data collection requests. Because there are few
technical details about how PRISM operates, and because of the fact
that the FISA court operates in secret, critics are concerned about
the extent of the program and whether it violates the constitutional
rights of US citizens.

"Critics have questioned the constitutional validity of PRISM "

How was PRISM created?

As The Washington Post reported, The Protect America Act of 2007
led to the creation of a secret NSA program called US-984XN - also
known as PRISM. The program is said to be a streamlined version of
the same surveillance practices that the US was conducting in the
years following 9/11, under President George W. Bush's "Terrorist
Surveillance Program."

The Protect America Act allows the attorney general and the director
of national intelligence to explain in a classified document how
the US will collect intelligence on foreigners overseas each year,
but does not require specific targets or places to be named. As
the Post reports, once the plan is approved by a federal judge
in a secret order, the NSA can require companies like Google and
Facebook to send data to the government, as long as the requests
meet the classified plan's criteria.

Who is responsible for leaking PRISM?

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old intelligence contractor formerly
employed by the NSA, CIA, and Booz Allen Hamilton, confessed
responsibility for leaking the PRISM documents. He revealed himself
on June 9th, three days after reports on PRISM were published;
in an interview with The Guardian, Snowden said, "I don't want to
live in a society that does these sort of things," and claimed he
was motivated by civic duty to leak classified information.

Snowden left the United States prior to leaking the documents
in order to avoid capture, taking refuge in Hong Kong - where he
stayed until June 23rd. With the assistance of WikiLeaks, Snowden
fled Hong Kong for Moscow, and has requested asylum in Ecuador,
Russia, and other countries. He is temporarily residing in Moscow,
waiting to be granted permanent asylum.

What does the NSA collect?

While PRISM has been the most talked-about story to come out of
Snowden's leaks, the disclosures have shed light on a vast array
of NSA surveillance programs. Broadly speaking, these can be split
into two categories: "upstream" wiretaps, which pull data directly
from undersea telecommunications cables, and efforts like PRISM,
which acquire communications from US service providers. One of the
slides in the leaked PRISM presentation instructs that analysts
"should use both" of these sources.

NSA programs collect two kinds of data: metadata and
content. Metadata is the sensitive byproduct of communications,
such as phone records that reveal the participants, times, and
durations of calls; the communications collected by PRISM include
the contents of emails, chats, VoIP calls, cloud-stored files,
and more. US officials have tried to allay fears about the NSA's
indiscriminate metadata collection by pointing out that it doesn't
reveal the contents of conversations. But metadata can be just
as revealing as content - internet metadata includes information
such as email logs, geolocation data (IP addresses), and web search
histories. Because of a decades-old law, metadata is also far less
well-protected than content in the US.
"NSA programs collect two kinds of data: metadata and content"

A leaked court order provided by Snowden showed that Verizon
is handing over the calling records and telephony metadata of
all its customers to the NSA on an "ongoing, daily basis." Mass
collection of internet metadata began under a Bush-era program
called "Stellarwind," which was first revealed by NSA whistleblower
William Binney. The program was continued for two years under the
Obama administration, but has since been discontinued and replaced
with a host of similar programs with names like "EvilOlive" and

How does the NSA collect data?

Many crucial details on how and under what circumstances the NSA
collects data are still missing. Legally speaking, surveillance
programs rely on two key statutes, Section 702 of the FISA Amendments
Act (FAA) and Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The former authorizes
the collection of communications content under PRISM and other
programs, while the latter authorizes the collection of metadata from
phone companies such as Verizon and AT&T. However, multiple reports
and leaked documents indicate the statutes have been interpreted
in secret by the FISA intelligence courts to grant much broader
authority than they were originally written to allow. They also
indicate that the FISA courts only approve the NSA's collection
procedures, and individual warrants for specific targets are not
required." "Inadvertently acquired" communications can still be
retained and analyzed for up to five years"

An analyst starts by inputting "selectors" (search terms) into
a system like PRISM, which then "tasks" information from other
collection sites, known as SIGADs (Signals Intelligence Activity
Designators). SIGADs have both classified and unclassified code
names, and are tasked for different types of data - one called
NUCLEON gathers the contents of phone conversations, while others
like MARINA store internet metadata.

Leaked documents show that under the agency's targeting and
"minimization" rules, NSA analysts can not specifically target
someone "reasonably believed" to be a US person communicating on US
soil. According to The Washington Post, an analyst must have at least
"51 percent" certainty their target is foreign. But even then, the
NSA's "contact chaining" practices - whereby an analyst collects
records on a target's contacts, and their contacts' contacts -
can easily cause innocent parties to be caught up in the process.

The rules state the analyst must take steps to remove data that
is determined to be from "US persons," but even if they are not
relevant to terrorism or national security, these "inadvertently
acquired" communications can still be retained and analyzed for
up to five years - and even given to the FBI or CIA - under a
broad set of circumstances. Those include communications that are
"reasonably believed to contain evidence of a crime that has been,
is being, or is about to be committed," or that contain information
relevant to arms proliferation or cybersecurity. If communications
are encrypted, they can be kept indefinitely.

""An illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet electronic surveillance.""

So, what now?

In the weeks since the PRISM documents leaked, a widespread
international public debate about the United States government's
surveillance and spying programs has engulfed the NSA, Congress, and
the Obama administration in controversy. While outspoken supporters
of NSA surveillance in Congress and the White House -including
President Obama - have defended the legality and necessity of
the programs, some US lawmakers are pushing back. In June, a
bipartisan group of senators unveiled a bill that aims to rein in
the problematic legal provisions that give US intelligence agencies
nearly unfettered authority to conduct warrantless surveillance on
domestic and foreign communications. Several other lawmakers have
introduced their own measures, but legislative reform is still in
early stages.

Meanwhile, a diverse coalition of interest groups and private
organizations are directly challenging some of the NSA's surveillance
programs in court. On July 16th, a broad coalition of plaintiffs
sued the US government for "an illegal and unconstitutional program
of dragnet electronic surveillance," in which the NSA scoops up
all telephone records handled by Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint in the
US. Separate suits brought by the Electronic Privacy Information
Center and the American Civil Liberties Union are also in the works,
but the government hasn't responded to the allegations in court yet.

The companies at the heart of PRISM's controversy are also acting
out, but the specific details regarding their involvement in
government surveillance on US citizens is still unclear. Microsoft,
Google, Yahoo, and others have stepped up pressure on the government
in the past month to declassify the process which compels them to
hand over user data to the government. In an impassioned plea made
by Microsoft on July 16th, the company's general counsel Brad Smith
said: "We believe the US constitution guarantees our freedom to share
more information with the public, yet the government is stopping us."

Finally, there's the group of people most affected by PRISM and its
sibling programs: the American public. On July 4th, "Restore the
Fourth" rallies in more than 100 US cities protested the government's
surveillance programs, focusing on electronic privacy. It's not
clear if public outrage will result in reform, but thanks to the
dramatic actions of a young intelligence contractor, we now at
least have the opportunity to discuss what the US government has
been hiding from the public in the name of national security.
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*** Financial survival strategies

Do you realize under new US laws it is a felony with a 5 year prison
sentence to use false ID to open or operate via a mail drop or
to use ANY federal facilities, including driving an automobile on
US highways, using Federally insured banks, traveling on airlines,
etc? Try getting a US passport with someone else's birth certificate
and you'd get 25 years! Frightening isn't it? New and ever drastic
laws are essentially saying, "Let's deprive ALL CITIZENS their
right to privacy and freedoms, in order to catch a handful of real
criminals!" Don't believe me? Read on!

Former President Alberto Fujimori of Peru was stopped and searched
for drugs by American Airline employees whilst traveling on official
government business in the USA.

Between 1987 and 1996, US banks filed more than 77 million Currency
Transaction Reports with the US Treasury Dept. This deluge of
paperwork resulted in a mere 580 convictions. You can just imagine
how many more millions have been filed up to 2013?

"More than 99.999% of those [who] had their privacy invaded were
law-abiding citizens going about their own personal financial
business." Rep. Ron Paul (R., Texas) "The Electronics Payments"
newsletter June 1999.

A couple was divorced in the USA after just 5 years of marriage. The
wife was awarded 50% of all assets, sole custody of their child
PLUS 50% of her husbands (a doctor,) future earnings for the rest
of their lives!

Another couple in Florida had their automobile confiscated by
the police because of drugs. The couple in their 70's, had their
car stolen and the kid's, whom smoked pot during their joy ride,
were totally responsible! It took 13 months and $4,500, nearly the
auto's value, to recover their car. The husband had a heart attack
and was hospitalized during this time, no doubt as a result of the
stress from this ordeal through no fault of their own.

All innocent person's mail at a well known mail drop in central
London, was opened and placed under surveillance due to a high
profile fugitive from Connecticut having a former mail drop at
the facility.

Governments especially the United States, are setting up and using
newsletters and web sites as fronts to catch 'criminals,' trying
to get their money legally offshore.

NSA is gathering all your emails, telephone and mobile calls, and web
searches illegally and storing all in massive data bases forever!

The list could go on and on but I think you get the point. Privacy
as we know it is dead. Worse the large majority of the population
cares little or nothing about this. Governments are in CRISIS mode to
stop the hemorrhaging from the loss of tax revenue caused by funds
leaving their homeland like never before. According to a recent
report from the United Nations, 50% of ALL world-wide funds are now
offshore! No wonder governments are enacting ever more draconian laws
to stop this. I believe what one of our customers Mr. Hyman wrote,
says it all. We reprint his letter in it's entirety and with his
permission. (Name changed to protect the innocent.)

"My grandparents fled Russia with my father during the 1917
revolution and because of the killing of Jews! Unfortunately they
fled to Germany! I remember clearly the stories my grandmother
told us as children about the old days. We learned our lessons
well. My mother and father saw the handwriting on the wall in Nazi
Germany. Fortunately my father had (illegally) stashed away enough
money in a numbered Swiss bank account that enabled us to flee to
South America in the nick of time. He did this even though it was
a death sentence in Nazi Germany for ANYONE having a bank account
outside Germany. I recall vividly people having to take a wheel
barrow full of old German marks to buy a loaf of bread. They didn't
break any 'laws' at the time, but they did end up penniless or dead
with the inflation and eventual collapse of the Mark and the country.

In particular I recall my father begging my aunt and uncle and
upstairs neighbor Mrs. Rothstein, to flee before it was too late. I
recall quite well what Mrs. Rothstein (our landlady) said in reply:
'Leave? We can't leave. What am I going to do with my mothers rocking
chair and keepsakes? Our Synagogue and all our friends are here. I
was born and married in this house and my parents are buried down
the road. Our Rabbi says everything will be alright. How can you
suggest such things?' Our relatives and friends that didn't pay
attention to my father's warnings all died in the holocaust. They
died as result of not taking action after seeing clear signs that
something was very wrong.

After 15 years in South America we saw many similar government
policies taking hold and left for the United States. I got married
and we started a business and did very well for ourselves for more
than 40 years. We are grateful to America for the opportunity it gave
us. Our children and grandchildren were born in America and have
had a great education. Unfortunately we see the very same warning
signs my parents and grandparents saw before us, now taking hold
in this once great land. My wife and I are leaving for good. Our
children aren't and we feel this is a great mistake, but everyone
is entitled to live their own lives and make their own choices.

You asked what the straw was that broke the camels back in our
decision to leave? There wasn't any one thing, but a series of
events over a long period of time. Being fined by OSHA for a dry
cleaning business we had just purchased under threat of being
shut down and losing our entire investment. Then sued by HUD for
discrimination! Can you imagine that, a Jew discriminating against
someone? Our insurance company paid the claim though we denied any
wrong doing and wanted to go to trial to defend ourselves. But the
insurance company decided (against our wishes) it was less of a risk
for them just to pay, rather than face a possible larger judgment
by a less than friendly jury. Result? After the insurance company
settled the lawsuit they dumped us and we had to get insurance at
5 times the cost that we previously paid annually!

Then there was the time my wife was denied boarding a flight to
visit our grandchildren because she didn't have any picture ID,
(she doesn't drive.) We eventually got there but missed our
original flight because of new 'safety' laws. We were never told
prior to our flight that this was a requirement even though we
booked direct with the airline. The airline told my wife to go to
the motor vehicle department and get a state issued ID card with
her picture and social security number on it for future flights!

Perhaps it is the fact that our neighbors 15 year old daughter is
pregnant or that our 7 year old grandson is checked for guns and
other weapons while going through a metal detector prior to being
allowed into school! And of course there is the inevitable run
in with the IRS. Anyone in America whom is successful and makes
money will 100% for sure have a run in with the IRS. The IRS is
the closest agency to resemble the Gestapo yet! I know because
I've dealt with and seen what both can do personally. I recall one
particularly nasty audit when the IRS agent asked me if I had a
foreign bank account. I replied no and the female IRS agent said,
"That's good because if you do and don't report it, that is a
serious offense and all your assets will be frozen."

At first my wife and I discussed these and other matters but for a
long time we both were in denial. Then one day when I was looking
for a particular book, I found a letter my grandfather wrote to my
father just before my grandfather died. He told my father: 'Never
forget that religious and personal freedoms aren't taken away all
at once. Rather it's done a little at a time so no one sees or
realizes what's happening! If people are lied to often enough,
most begin to believe the lie. All of a sudden you wake up and
realize what you thought was there, isn't any longer. When your
leaders are liars and cheats, it's time to leave!'

The freedom loving America that we came to and loved no longer
exists. The freedoms and privacy of 40 years ago are gone
forever. People don't seem to notice or care anymore. People say;
America, love it or leave it. Well, we love America but lost faith
in the people running it so we are leaving those people running it.

If you feel this letter could benefit just one person, then you
have my permission to reprint it if you change our name and new
country of residence."


Hyman Z. circa 1999


The above letter makes a chilling statement and clearly
shows what most people know, but choose not to think about or
confront. Governments, all governments do not want anyone to have
privacy. With privacy the governments can not control you, your
actions and your money! Most people don't realize that Switzerland
originally created NUMBERED bank accounts to protect German Jews
from the Nazi death penalty for having a foreign bank account.

If you have your money outside your country of residence, your money
is outside the reach of your government in most cases. However if
the government KNOWS where your money is, it is simply a matter
of picking up the phone and making a call to freeze or arrest your
account in most, but not all jurisdictions. This is done WITHOUT the
formal or necessary legal requirements of filing papers with the
proper governmental authorities. Nowadays it's simply an informal
telephone call from one government official to another. Clearly
illegal, but an every day occurrence.

Remember it is NOT illegal to have an offshore bank account if
you are a US citizen or resident. However if you have an offshore
bank account you are required by law to report it. Not reporting
it can get you into serious difficulties with the authorities. Of
course if you report the account, then you lose your anonymity and
privacy. What good does it do to have an offshore account without
anonymity? LOOP HOLE!

We've found a loop hole and what a beauty it is. Please understand
we DO NOT condone anyone breaking laws. Why break any laws when
you can accomplish your goals legally? There is nothing wrong in
finding a legal loop hole and using it. The largest corporations
and wealthiest people do it all the time, so why not you?

Need a numbered account? It's not cheap but considering its nearly
impossible these days for a numbered account, its a bargain at
twice the price.

Email and place "numbered" in your subject heading.
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*** Advisory

NSA Internet Spying Sparks Race to Create Offshore Havens for Data Privacy

Firms Tout 'Email Made in Germany' as More Secure; Brazil Wants
Its Own Servers

On the heels of allegations about U.S. government surveillance of
Internet traffic, some foreign companies and politicians are seeing
an opportunity. WSJ reporter Elizabeth Dwoskin explains.

Outside the U.S., some companies and politicians saw an opportunity.

Three of Germany's largest email providers,
including partly state-owned Deutsche Telekom
AG, DTE.XE -0.79%
teamed up to offer a new service, Email Made in Germany. The
companies promise that by encrypting email through German servers and
hewing to the country's strict privacy laws, U.S. authorities won't
easily be able to pry inside. More than a hundred thousand Germans
have flocked to the service since it was rolled out in August.

Politicians outside the U.S. are pushing new data-privacy rules in
the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations.

"We can say that we protect the email inbox according to German law,"
says Jorg Fries-Lammers, a spokesman for one of the German companies,
1&1 Internet AG. "It's definitely a unique selling point."

The U.S. National Security Agency has acknowledged collecting email
data about Americans through phone and Internet companies. Silicon
Valley companies have said that they don't give the government
unfettered access to user data but that they are barred from
disclosing details.

Fueled by the controversy, countries are seeking to use data-privacy
laws as a competitive advantage---a way to boost domestic
companies that long have sought an edge over Google, Microsoft
Corp. MSFT +1.01%
and other U.S. tech giants.

"Countries are competing to be the Cayman Islands of data privacy,"
says Daniel Castro, a senior analyst at the Information Technology
and Innovation Foundation, a nonpartisan Washington, D.C., think
tank that receives funding from the tech industry.

While establishing these islands of privacy might make for good
marketing, the initiatives face hurdles. Laws demanding that data
be stored in-country can give domestic Internet-service providers
a boost but also could raise their customers' costs.

And creating domestic walls for online service runs into a hard

"It basically ignores the entire Internet," says Ronaldo Lemos,
director of the Institute for Technology & Society, a Rio de Janeiro
think tank. "This data has to circulate. It's going to be sent to
Miami, to Europe. It's not going to be sitting idle."

Nevertheless, some European leaders are renewing calls for a
"euro cloud," in which consumer data could be shared within Europe
but not outside the region. Brazil is fast-tracking a vote on a
once-dormant bill that could require that data about Brazilians
be stored on servers in the country. And India plans to ban
government employees from using email services from Google and Yahoo
Inc. YHOO -0.50%

U.S. companies are watching such developments with trepidation.

"We should all be nervous when countries impose costly new
requirements on companies as a condition of serving their
citizens," says Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg
"It means
fragmenting the Internet and putting the economic and social
opportunities it creates at risk."

Google declined to comment for this article, and Yahoo didn't

It is too soon to tell if a major shift is under way. But the
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation estimates that
fallout from revelations about NSA activities could cost Silicon
Valley up to $35 billion in annual revenue, much of it from
lost overseas business. A survey conducted this summer by the
Cloud Security Alliance, an industry group, found that 56% of
non-U.S. members said security concerns made it less likely that
they would use U.S.-based cloud services. Ten percent said they
had canceled a contract.

"We talk to our sales leaders, who talk to customers every day,
and this has the potential to significantly erode the trust of
customers around the world," says John Frank, a deputy general
counsel at Microsoft.

It could be tough for U.S. companies to undo any damage, particularly
when the extent of NSA activities is secret and other nations have
been critical of the U.S. On Tuesday, Brazilian President Dilma
Rousseff in a United Nations address assailed U.S. snooping on her
country. Last week she canceled a planned visit to Washington.

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes, who supervises
the European Union's digital portfolio, has been encouraging the
bloc's companies to tout their privacy creds. "Privacy is not only
a fundamental right," she said in Estonia this summer. "It can also
be a competitive advantage."

For small German companies competing against
big ones---like online-security company Symantec
Corp. SYMC -0.53%
and Amazon.com
Inc., AMZN -0.14%
which provides corporate cloud services---the NSA surveillance
program "is a present from heaven," says Oliver Dehning, chief
executive of antispameuropeGmbH, which builds spam-protection
software. "It's kind of an opportunity to strike back and protect
our home market."

He turned the Snowden leaks into a marketing campaign, tweeting
about the news and speaking at industry conferences about how
Germans can protect themselves from spying.

Symantec and Amazon declined to comment for this article.

Some of the promises of the would-be data islands could be tough
to meet.

While much of the legislation proposes that information about
citizens be located in-country, that overlooks that the data may
need to be transferred elsewhere.

And laws requiring domestic hosting could raise the price of
computing. The in-country hosts could have trouble competing with the
economies of scale enjoyed by big U.S. companies, says Jim Reavis,
president of the Cloud Security Alliance. Also, it could well be
less expensive to use a data center in another country than to
build one at home.

Country-specific computing can have its own privacy concerns,
meanwhile. Some countries pushing domestic hosting---Brazil,
for example---don't protect the privacy of citizens' Internet
data, so consumers wouldn't be safe from their own governments'
eyes. Brazil made 715 requests for Facebook user data in the first
half, according to the company.

Because Germany has strict privacy laws, Email Made in Germany says
customers who send email to fellow subscribers can be assured the
U.S. and German governments will have a difficult time accessing the
users' messages. Customers see a bright-green check mark next to
messages sent by fellow subscribers. A gray check appears next to
messages from other email providers. That means Germans can ensure
their privacy only for email to people on German soil.

Even some companies that seek to profit from fears about
U.S. snooping acknowledge that law-enforcement agencies in other
countries want to catch up with Washington's capabilities.

"In the long run, there won't be any difference between what the
U.S. or Germany or France or the U.K. is doing," says Roberto
Valerio, whose German cloud-storage company, CloudSafe GmbH,
reports a 25% rise in business since the NSA revelations.

"At the end of the day, some agency will spy on you," he says.
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*** The Dumbing Down Continues

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Shamrock's Missive:

FATCA's Bleak Choices For Accounts, Income and Disclosure

The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)

Is any offshore income, account or trust still secret? The only safe
assumption is no. And contrary to public opinion, it is not merely
a prospective problem. Many equate the question solely to FATCA,
the pervasive U.S. law enacted in 2010 that is now unfurling to
impact global banks and depositors in 2014.

But even before FATCA is fully implemented, the U.S. is gathering
stockpiles of information from whistleblowers, banks under
investigation and cooperative witnesses that make the time line
oblique. Most U.S. taxpayers have known since 2009's UBS scandal
that the world was becoming smaller.

Many seemed to think only Switzerland would capitulate to the
U.S. But now many countries-and soon it will not an overstatement to
say virtually all-will have broad disclosure policies as reported
here: Offshore Accounts: No Place to Hide? Already, nearly 20
jurisdictions are on board or soon will be.

They include obvious locales such as Switzerland, the Caymans, Jersey
and more. Count France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the U.K. Guernsey,
Gilbraltar and the British Virgin Islands. Nearly 30 more nations are
expected, including eventually such unlikely prospects as China. It
has become a kind of global landslide.

The original target of the initiative was clearly not law-abiding
U.S. citizens abroad. Yet they have their own worries now too. The
State Department estimates there are 7.2 million U.S. citizens
abroad. It seems safe to assume that most have non-U.S. bank
accounts. The fact that only 825,000 FBARs were filed for 2012
suggests that this group too is under-complying.

Expat or not, for many U.S. persons with foreign income and accounts,
it's clear that compliance is required and well-advised. But a
primary fear is precisely how to begin in a way that is least
expensive and least risky. Here's a refresher:

Report Worldwide Income. You must report worldwide income on your
U.S. income tax return. If you have an interest in a foreign bank
or financial account you must check "yes" (on Schedule B). This is
true even if you live outside the U.S. or pay foreign taxes.

FBARs Too. Tax return filing alone isn't enough. U.S. persons with
foreign bank accounts exceeding $10,000 in the aggregate at any
time during the year must file an FBAR by each June 30. See Primer
For First Time FBAR Filers.

FATCA Form. With your tax return, you may also need to file an IRS
Form 8938 to report foreign accounts and assets.

Big Penalties. Tax return failures are serious and carry
penalties. Plus, the penalty for failing to file an FBAR is $10,000
for each non-willful violation. If willful, the penalty is the
greater of $100,000 or 50% of the amount in the account for each
violation. Each year you didn't file is a separate violation. See
Despite FATCA, FBAR Penalties Still Under Fire.

Criminal Penalties. Tax evasion can carry a prison term of up to five
years and a fine of up to $250,000. Filing a false return can mean
up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Failing
to file a tax return can mean a one year prison term and a fine
of up to $100,000. Failing to file FBARs can be criminal too with
monetary penalties up to $500,000 and prison for up to ten years. See
IRS May Find "Innocent" FBAR Violation Willful.

Voluntary Disclosure. If you admit your failures to the IRS and say
you want to make it right, you've made a "voluntary disclosure." You
will pay back taxes and penalties but not be prosecuted. See Revised
IRS Voluntary Disclosure Practice. There are two IRS programs,
and each is worth a look.

"Quiet Disclosures." A "quiet" disclosure is a correction of past
tax returns and FBARs without drawing attention to what you are
doing. The IRS warns against it.

Prospective Compliance Only. Can you start filing complete tax
returns and FBARs prospectively, but not try to fix the past? Maybe,
but the risk is that past non-compliance will be noticed and it
may then be too late to make a voluntary disclosure.

You can have money and investments anywhere in the world as long
as you disclose them. Get some professional advice and try to get
your situation resolved in a way that makes sense for your facts
and risk profile.

The above article courtesy of Robert W Wood.

Publishers note: Want to circumvent FATCA? Email and place "Loop
Hole" in your subject heading.

See you next issue


"The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion."
- Edmund Burke, 1784
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*** Letters to the Editor:

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

Dear Shamrock,

I am a great fan and follower of PT Shamrock. I have already
purchased the second passport report, a very good read, and other
documents from you last year. I am in a peculiar situation. I am
asking you whether you have an answer to my problems.

I have a great career record in an Asian Government and presently
studying in a top ivy league grad school in US. I am a homosexual
guy and my wife whom I married an year back due to social pressure,
is a torturous type and might try to trouble me by filing a
\'homosexual\' criminal case on me for punishment and eventual
extradition from the US, not for money but for sadistic pleasure
(even if I acquire a different citizenship). And have no criminal
background (no criminal/civil cases) at all.

I met an attorney here who says I have a very strong case for
ASYLUM/REFUGEE status on grounds of LGBT homosexuals at US/Canada or
a EU country. But even after good paperwork and genuine reasons, you
are never sure of success in any asylum claim. So I am approaching
you for any help in this regard. Do you offer any service/contact to
confirm my Asylum petition under UNHCR 1951 convention? A quick way
to a Convention Travel Document (CTD) by any decent country? EU or
Latin america would be great. I am ready to spend/pay as much as any
good second citizenship program requires. Just that in my case a CTD
is better than a passport for obvious UN protection for homosexuals..

I will go through the Asylum/refugee application process and provide
all necessary documentation as an when you suggest. But I need some
\'assurance\' that this will work for 100% sure and get me a asylum
status and CTD asap..


Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for yours and we understand your situation. A good number
of PT Shamrock's readers and customers are homosexuals, so you are
not alone in this regard.

First off in life there is never a 100% guarantee in anything,
especially any Asylum/refugee application. You might want to
consider XXX in Europe as they are more lenient than Asylum/refugee
applications in the Canada and elsewhere.

Also XXX is an excellent solicitor and although he charges a good
deal of money, it might behoove you to contact him as Laws affecting
lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people different
from country to country.

Hope the above helps.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out for you.

PT Shamrock
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Quote of the month!

"Today, most Americans believe that the government is threatening -
rather than protecting - freedom ... and that it is no longer acting
with the 'consent of the governed".
- washingtonsblog
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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 ptshamrock@ptshamrock.com> 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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