Sunday, 6 October 2013

Congrats, your video's now on YouTube!



---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: YouTube
Date: Sunday, October 6, 2013
Subject: Congrats, your video's now on YouTube!
To: Bruce Majors <Majors.Bruce@gmail.com>


                                             
Way to go, Bruce Majors!
Your video's now on YouTube.
Shutdown day
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Fwd: Don't Let Harry Reid Win



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Harry Reid and President Obama are trying to blame conservative Republicans for the ongoing government shutdown. Yet the House of Representatives passed multiple bills to fund the government while protecting you from ObamaCare.

Republicans did their job by passing government funding bills. Harry Reid is the one who won't come to the bargaining table. It's time to get the truth out.

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fwot shutdownvideo.pngThis week's video features a comprehensive look at the politics behind the government shutdown with special guest Jim Antle of The Daily Caller News Foundation. Harry Reid and Obama are blaming Republicans for Washington's closing when they are the ones who refuse to negotiate over ObamaCare. You don't want to miss this insightful discussion!

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Fwd: Already a rare earth monopoly, China cuts supply, creates reserve








http://www.geostrategy-direct.com/geostrategy-direct/secure/2013/10_09/ba.asp?

 

Already a rare earth monopoly, China cuts supply, creates reserve

Because China controls over 90 percent of the world's rare earth market, it can exert leverage on other rare-earth dependent nations to behave the way Beijing wants.

Yet the Chinese government announced recently that it had ordered the hoarding of 10,000 metric tons of rare earth as its own rare earth strategic reserve.

Rare earths are key minerals to make modern electronic devices. Japan, Europe and the United States are the primary countries that heavily depend on China's near monopoly of rare earth supply.

China has used that position to bully and threaten Japan in particular by cutting down rare earth exports to Japan as punishment for Japan's challenge to China's claim over the Senkakus.

But China's calculation backfired in recent years as countries, especially Japan, began to increase domestic production of rare earth or seek new suppliers.

China has only 23 percent of the world's rare earth reserve. But excavating and producing rare earths are highly detrimental to the environment. Most industrialized nations are rich in rare earth reserves but are extremely cautious about producing them domestically.

China, on the other hand, cares little about its environment when it comes to gaining leverage in international markets.

Most of China's abundant rare earths are excavated and produced in the northern China plain and the Inner Mongolia region, which has seen the devastation of large chunks of precious cattle and horse grazing land. Clashes between local Mongolians and Chinese communist officials in charge of economic development are frequently reported.

Japan has re-invested billions in new rare earth rich areas such as Vietnam to acquire rare earth materials for its robust electronic industry.

As a result, international prices for China's rare earth began to crumble in recent months.

Some experts believe that the current order for the Beijing government to stockpile the rare earth is an attempt by the government to jack up the prices for China's rare earth by artificially creating a demand.

 



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Fwd: It's the End of the World as We Know It, and You Should Feel Fine






http://cnsnews.com/commentary/ben-shapiro/its-end-world-we-know-it-and-you-should-feel-fine

 

It's the End of the World as We Know It, and You Should Feel Fine

October 3, 2013 - 4:41 AM

 

By Ben Shapiro

The media have proclaimed the end of civilization for the third time this year. Sure, the mail will still run on time. Sure, the police will still fight crime. Sure, you'll still receive your Social Security check and your Medicare and your food stamps. But by golly, if we don't get this horrific government shutdown solved, the Sharknado is a-comin'.

Sen. Tom Harkin led off the hysteria by explaining that a government shutdown was "as dangerous as the breakup of the Union before the Civil War!" Virtually every front page in the country devoted its top headline to the dreaded government shutdown. Wall-to-wall coverage of saddened Americans decrying the temporary closing of the Statue of Liberty dominated the newscasts.

Who was to blame for this egregious situation? The media had the answer: Republicans!

The highly excitable Joan Walsh of Salon.com suggested via Twitter, "the govt shutdown is the end result of a 50-year GOP push to make govt=welfare and welfare=black people," adding, "That this crisis hit under our first black president, over 'Obamacare,' isn't an accident; it was inevitable."

The abominable New York Daily News printed a cover of House Speaker John Boehner atop the Lincoln Memorial, a la House of Cards, with the caption "House of Turds." McKay Coppins of BuzzFeed then tweeted an article from that website labeling the cover "Perfect." CNN's Dana Bash described the GOP as "Kamikaze." The Washington Post ran a piece, "9 ways to punish congress for a shutdown". The piece included a picture of Boehner with the caption "Line 'em up and shoot 'em."

Meanwhile, the media encouraged President Obama and Democrats not to negotiate. Even as Obama insisted that he didn't need to give up anything for a deal, and even as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid turned back House continuing resolution after House continuing resolution, even rejecting a House request for a conference committee, the media fumed at supposed Republican intransigence.

Politico celebrated Obama's supposed "display of resolve and strength that could redefine his presidency." Gloria Borger of CNN said, "In a way there's really nothing the president can offer Boehner in the way of help." Obama is the hero of the media's faux morality play; Boehner is the villain.

So, will the world end? Of course not. Mandatory spending under the 2013 spending levels is close to the entirety of all federal spending in the last years of the Clinton administration. And we all remember what an economic nightmare those years were. The stock market rose the day of the shutdown.

When the feds spitefully attempted to shut down the site of the World War II memorial, World War II veterans simply removed barriers and toured the site, with one police officer explaining, "I'm not going to enforce the no stopping or standing sign for a group of 90 World War II veterans. I'm a veteran myself." Even those federal workers furloughed are reportedly slated to receive back pay, making this a paid vacation.

But let's pretend for a moment that the world will end if the government does not dump billions into the Environmental Protection Agency. Let's assume that businesses everywhere will begin using human flesh in their Soylent Green thanks to Food and Drug Administration cutbacks. Why isn't President Obama negotiating?

The answer is obvious: He has no interest in doing so. The end of the world is good news for him. That's why the media are playing it up. That's why Obama sent a letter to every single federal employee complaining about the government shutdown and has turned the White House website into a propaganda effort against Congress. President Obama doesn't govern unless his party dominates the government. Otherwise, he campaigns.

And it's campaigning season. So sit back. It's going to be a not-so-bumpy ride, even if the media would have us think otherwise.

 



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Fwd: 12 Tips For Movement During Evasion





A book that I'm reading about British snipers, recommends spray painting your outfit to match your surroundings, then sticking leaves & stuff on it. Beats trying to buy a Ghillie suit of ever color available at $95 each!

A hooded sweatshirt and baggy pants would work for a start. (Goodwill??) Also, install lots of pockets around the top & armpit area for when you're horizontal. NO VELCRO!! Heavy duty canvas work pants WITH KNEE PADS and patch pockets may be good.

Remember that store bought heavy-duty Ghillie suits are hot. They'll kill you in places like Texas and Arizona.
*******************************************************************

12 Tips For Movement During Evasion

July 24, 2013, by Ken Jorgustin

 


Can you find the man hiding in the picture?

If ever in a situation where evasion is paramount, here are some tips for movement while minimizing your chances of detection…


 

1. A moving object is easy to spot. Our eyes and brain are very adept at noticing movement, particularly against a background of relatively little movement. This is probably the most important fact to remember if you are trying to remain undetected. The keyword here is "slow" in this type of environment while also blending in. On the other hand, in some situations where you are within an environment of moving people, you could potentially blend in, so long as you are "blending in" and being street smart.

2. In the wild, mask yourself with natural cover. Apart from wearing a Ghillie suit, make smart choices for the color / camouflage of your clothes. Consider your surroundings and blend in with them by wearing similar colors. Generally, wearing neutral colors – olive drab, brown, beige, gray – will blend in well with many environments.

3. Movement during periods of low light, or bad weather will reduce the likelihood of being seen. Unlike other predators, we humans are not able to see too well in low light conditions, so use this to your advantage. Be aware of modern technology including IR Thermal imaging, of which there are ways to potentially block it or reduce your signature.

4. Avoid silhouetting. Walking in the open (e.g. across a hilltop, etc.) will present a visible profile to others. Be aware of what is behind you at all times and use it to your advantage by either avoiding it (take another route) or using it blend in or conceal. Be aware of how you contrast with your background (color, pattern, contrast, etc.)

5. At irregular intervals (as in NOT regular intervals), STOP at a point of concealment and LOOK and LISTEN for signs of activity. Don't just go blindly on, even while being careful. The irregularity of your stopping and starting will not present so much of a pattern. While using your sight, also use your sense of smell and sense of hearing while stopped and scanning.

6. Be quiet. Be aware of the noise you are making as you move and travel including that of your equipment or clothing. A wet and damp environment is favorable to walking silently. Watch where you step.

7. Moving along an overall irregular route will help conceal evidence of travel. As in, it's easier to track someone walking a straight line.

8. Do not break branches or disturb vegetation. 'Manage' vegetation that normally would spring back (e.g. use a walking stick to part vegetation). Don't leave "breadcrumbs" behind you of trampled grass, snapped twigs, etc.

9. Do not grab small trees or brush. This almost always leaves evidence.

10. Do not overturn ground cover, rocks and sticks. This is easy to spot by a tracker. Travel through the environment without disturbing anything if possible.

11. Take advantage of solid surfaces (rocks, logs, etc.). They will not leave tracks.

12. Cross a road (preferably at night) after observation from concealment to determine that there is no activity. Cross at points that offer concealment. Remember, you are silhouetted and exposed when crossing a road. Choose the shadows if possible.

 
There are lots more tips and advice than just these.
Feel free to comment and add your own tips or recommendations for traveling undetected…

 

 



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Fwd: Hackers just POURING through unpatched Internet Explorer zero-day hole






http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/01/ie_0day_widely_exploited/

Hackers just POURING through unpatched Internet Explorer zero-day hole

Oh, sysadmins. It's so much worse than we feared – report

By John Leyden

Posted in Security, 1st October 2013 15:58 GMT

An as-yet-unpatched zero-day vulnerability affecting Internet Explorer is being abused much more widely than analysts had previously suspected.

The vulnerability first came to public attention last week with the Operation DeputyDog attacks against targets in Japan, as first reported by net security firm FireEye.

Websense, FireEye and AlienVault have since reported more malware-flinging campaigns exploiting this vulnerability. Several groups are using an exploit that takes advantage of security bugs in Microsoft's flagship browser software to attack financial institutions and government agencies in various countries in the far East, using various Trojans and similar strains of malware.

AlienVault discovered a version of the exploit hosted on a subdomain of Taiwan's Government e-Procurement System.

"When users visit the main webpage a Javascript code will redirect them to the exploit page if it is the first time they visit the page," the security firm warns.

Websense warned that a variety of hack-for-hire groups are exploiting the recently discovered "zero-day" vulnerability in Microsoft Internet Explorer to steal vital data from companies in the Asia Pacific region. These attacks are far more widespread than previously thought.

FireEye adds that various groups are involved in these attacks, even though in at least some cases they are using the same infrastructure but using it to push different malware, such as the PoisonIvy remote access trojan (RAT), and not the DeputyDog malware associated with the attacks against Japanese targets that first set off the alarm bells.

"Since we first reported on Operation DeputyDog, at least three other Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) campaigns known as Web2Crew, Taidoor, and th3bug have made use of the same exploit to deliver their own payloads to their own targets," write FireEye researchers Ned Moran and Nart Villeneuve in a blog post.

"It is not uncommon for APT groups to hand-off exploits to others, who are lower on the zero-day food chain – especially after the exploit becomes publicly available. Thus, while the exploit may be the same, the APT groups using them are not otherwise related."

"In addition, APT campaigns may reuse existing infrastructure for new attacks. There have been reports that the use of CVE-2013-3893 may have begun in July; however, this determination appears to be based solely on the fact that the CnC infrastructure used in DeputyDog had been previously used by the attackers. We have found no indication that the attackers used CVE-2013-3893 prior to August 23, 2013."

In related news, Rapid7 has added Internet Explorer exploit CVE-2013-3893 to Metasploit, allowing penetration testers and sysadmins to inspect systems for exposure to the vulnerability. But from the latest developments it appears it has gone mainstream.

Carl Leonard, senior security research manager EMEA at Websense, commented: "Websense estimates that close to 70 per cent of Windows-based PCs are vulnerable to this exploit. Given the huge attack surface, the actors behind these campaigns are racing to target companies before a patch becomes available."

"In addition, we anticipate that as more information of this zero day comes to light, the exploit will be weaponised and packaged into exploit kits rapidly, greatly increasing the number of attackers with access to this exploit," he added.

Websense advises sysadmins to install the Microsoft FixIt workaround as a safeguard against attack, pending the availability of a more complete patch from Microsoft. This will hopefully be available for the next edition of Patch Tuesday (8 October). ®

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Related stories

·         Hang in there, Internet Explorer peeps: Gaping zero-day fix coming Tues (4 October 2013)

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/04/oct_patch_tuesday_ie_0day_fix_due/

·         DeputyDog attack targets latest IE zero day (23 September 2013)

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/09/23/apt_deputydog_evilgrab_target_asian_firms/

·         Redmond slips out temporary emergency fix for IE 0-day (17 September 2013)

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/09/17/redmond_slips_out_emergency_ie_fix/

·         Securo-boffins link HIRED GUN hackers to Aurora, Bit9 megahacks (17 September 2013)

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/09/17/chinese_hackers4hire_crew/

·         IE zero-day used in Chinese cyber assault on 34 firms (14 January 2010)

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/14/cyber_assault_followup/

 



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Fwd: Obama's "Propaganda Village" on Display in D.C.








http://www.rightsidenews.com/2013100233279/editorial/us-opinion-and-editorial/obama-s-propaganda-village-on-display-in-d-c.html

 

Obama's "Propaganda Village" on Display in D.C.

02 October 2013 16:28

Written by Cliff Kincaid

 

The Washington Post front-page photo shows Park Service employees shutting down access to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the mall. I have visited the memorial several times in the past and have never seen any Park Service employees. Where did they come from?

The "shutdown" is a show.

All of a sudden, these Park Service employees have appeared—with gates and police tape—to prohibit access, in the name of blaming congressional Republicans and causing inconvenience to tourists. Our media go along with the façade.

This is even more of a show than "Propaganda Village," a fake "town" built by the North Koreans in the North's half of the Korean Demilitarized Zone to fool people in the south. I visited the DMZ and saw the place from afar. It was designed to entice South Koreans to defect to the north. It looks real, but nobody lives there.

The photo on the front-page of the print edition of the Post shows one Park Police officer and four Park Service employees putting down gates and waving people away. In my many years of coming to D.C. for visits to national park service properties, I have never seen this many federal employees at one memorial. The Post put this on the front-page under the headline, "Bracing for a long battle."

The fact is that people can easily climb over or through the gates in order to see the memorials anyway. That is what they did on Tuesday at the World War II Memorial.

In this case, which has received some national publicity, the Post reported, "Suddenly, in the bright sunshine, cheers and applause erupted. The barricades had been moved—by whom it was not clear. And the column of veterans poured through the gap in the lines and into the memorial." The paper added, "It was a chaotic scene from the first day of the shutdown: frail-looking men—at least one of whom hadn't been to Washington since the war—led by jubilant Republican Congress members and television crews as a bagpiper played 'Shenandoah.'"

This was a show as well, but it was intended to prove that we don't need federal employees holding our hands in order to appreciate the memorials. Closing them down doesn't serve any legitimate purpose.

Many of us in the Washington, D.C. area who visit these parks and memorials understand the "shutdown" game that is being played. I have been to the World War II Memorial several times in the past and never encountered Park Service employees. All of a sudden, they mysteriously showed up to deny access to the public.

The Post, a major voice of the Democratic Party, plays along with the idea that a budget impasse has something to do with this. If so, why are there so many employees still working to close down these memorials. Where have they been?

"Effective immediately upon a lapse in appropriations, the National Park Service will take all necessary steps to close and secure national park facilities and grounds," is what the signs say.

Park Service spokeswoman Carol Bradley Johnson told the paper that the agency is worried about the security of the memorials and the safety of visitors at unstaffed sites. But these sites are usually unstaffed. In any case, would metal barricades and signs stop vandals from getting in?

This is how big government works, with the collaboration and cooperation of the media.

The federal government supposedly doesn't have any money to keep the parks and memorials open. But the White House recently "found" $300 million for bankrupt Detroit. Our media claimed it was "technically" not a bailout, since the money was already in the budget somewhere. Congress never voted for this expenditure, which has been called "aid." According to various news reports, some of the money was "unlocked" from an account with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The term "unlocked" has not been defined.

Gene Sperling, the head of Obama's National Economic Council, said, "We are going to do everything that we are capable of" for Detroit, a city bankrupted by the policies of Democratic mayors, including the communist Coleman Young.

Some federal funding has already been committed to the demolition of Detroit's Brewster-Douglass public housing complex, which was itself federally-funded.

But this same federal government can't keep memorials open. Who do they think they're kidding?

The answer is the public. And the media are part of the con game.

 



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Fwd: Obama will not stop with the IRS see what's next citizens




 

 

 

Date: 10/6/2013 4:39:57 AM

Subject: Obama will not stop with the IRS see what's next citizens

 

Would you trust thousands of low-level Federal bureaucrats and
contractors with one-touch access to your private financial and
medical information? Under Obamacare you won't have any choice.

As the Obamacare train-wreck begins to gather steam, there is
increasing concern in Congress over something called the Federal Data
Services Hub. The Data Hub is a comprehensive database of personal
information being established by the Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS) to implement the federally facilitated health insurance
exchanges. The purpose of the Data Hub, according to a June 2013
Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, is to provide
"electronic, near real-time access to federal data" and "access to
state and third party data sources needed to verify
consumer-eligibility information." In these days of secret domestic
surveillance by the intelligence community, rogue IRS officials and
state tax agencies using private information for political purposes,
and police electronically logging every license plate that passes by,
the idea of the centralized Data Hub is making lawmakers and citizens
nervous.

They certainly should be; the potential for abuse is enormous. The
massive, centralized database will include comprehensive personal
information such as income and financial data, family size,
citizenship and immigration status, incarceration status, social
security numbers, and private health information. It will compile
dossiers based on information obtained from the IRS, the Department of
Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the Veterans
Administration, the Office of Personnel Management, the Social
Security Administration, state Medicaid databases, and for some reason
the Peace Corps. The Data Hub will provide web-based, one-stop
shopping for prying into people's personal affairs.

Not to fear, HHS says, the Data Hub will be completely secure. Really?
Secure like all the information that has been made public in the
Wikileaks era? These days no government agency can realistically claim
that private information will be kept private, especially when it is
being made so accessible. Putting everyone's personal information in
once place only simplifies the challenge for those looking to hack
into the system.

However, the hacker threat is the least of the Data Hub worries. The
hub will be used on a daily basis by so-called Navigators, which
according to the GAO are "community and consumer-focused nonprofit
groups, to which exchanges award grants to provide fair and impartial
public education" and "refer consumers as appropriate for further
assistance." Thousands of such people will have unfettered access to
the Data Hub, but there are only sketchy guidelines on how they will
be hired, trained and monitored. Given the slap-dash, incoherent way
Obamacare is being implemented the prospect for quality control is
low. And the Obama administration's track record of sweetheart deals,
no-bid, sole-source contracting and other means of rewarding people
with insider access means the Data Hub will be firmly in the hands of
trusted White House loyalists.

So if you think the IRS targeting Tea Party groups was bad, just wait
for the Obamacare Navigators to be unleashed. "Trust us," the
administration says, no one will abuse the Data Hub. Sure, because
that has worked out so well in the past

- See more at: http://rare.us/story/move-over-nsa-here-comes-the-obamacare-big-brother-database/#sthash.Us8HbxJ6.dpuf

 



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Fwd: Shutdown Simulacrum | Mark Steyn




 

 

Shutdown Simulacrum | National Review Online

Way back in January, when it emerged that Beyoncé had treated us to the first ever lip-synched national anthem at a presidential inauguration, I suggested in this space that this strange pseudo-performance embodied the decay of America's political institutions from the real thing into mere simulacrum. But that applies to government "crises," too — such as the Obamacare "rollout," the debt "ceiling," and the federal "shutdown," to name only the three current railroad tracks to which the virtuous damsel of Big Government has been simultaneously tied by evil mustache-twirling Republicans.

This week's "shutdown" of government, for example, suffers (at least for those of us curious to see it reduced to Somali levels) from the awkward fact that the overwhelming majority of the government is not shut down at all. Indeed, much of it cannot be shut down. Which is the real problem facing America. "Mandatory spending" (Social Security, Medicare, et al.) is authorized in perpetuity — or, at any rate, until total societal collapse. If you throw in the interest payments on the debt, that means two-thirds of the federal budget is beyond the control of Congress's so-called federal budget process. That's why you're reading government "shutdown" stories about the PandaCam at the Washington Zoo and the First Lady's ghost-Tweeters being furloughed.

Nevertheless, just because it's a phony crisis doesn't mean it can't be made even phonier. The perfect symbol of the shutdown-simulacrum so far has been the World War II Memorial. This is an open-air facility on the National Mall — that's to say, an area of grass with a monument at the center. By comparison with, say, the IRS, the National Parks Service is not usually one of the more controversial government agencies. But, come "shutdown," they're reborn as the shock troops of the punitive bureaucracy. Thus, they decided to close down an unfenced open-air site — which oddly enough requires more personnel to shut than it would to keep it open.

So the Parks Service dispatched their own vast army to the World War II Memorial to ring it with barricades and yellow "Police Line — Do Not Cross" tape strung out like the world's longest "We Support Our Troops" ribbon. For good measure, they issued a warning that anybody crossing the yellow line would be liable to arrest — or presumably, in extreme circumstances, the same multi-bullet ventilation that that mentally ill woman from Connecticut wound up getting from the coppers. In a heartening sign that the American spirit is not entirely dead, at least among a small percentage of nonagenarians, a visiting party of veterans pushed through the barricades and went to honor their fallen comrades, mordantly noting for reporters that, after all, when they'd shown up on the beach at Normandy it too had not been officially open.

One would not be altogether surprised to find the feds stringing yellow police tape along the Rio Grande, the 49th parallel, and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, if only to keep Americans in rather than anybody else out. Still, I would like to have been privy to the high-level discussions at which the government took the decision to install its Barrycades on open parkland. For anyone with a modicum of self-respect, it's difficult to imagine how even the twerpiest of twerp bureaucrats would consent to stand at a crowd barrier and tell a group of elderly soldiers who've flown in from across the country that they're forbidden to walk across a piece of grass and pay their respects. Yet, if any National Parks Service employee retained enough sense of his own humanity to balk at these instructions or other spiteful, petty closures of semi-wilderness fishing holes and the like, we've yet to hear about it.

The World War II Memorial exists thanks to some $200 million in private donations — plus $15 million or so from Washington: In other words, the feds paid for the grass. But the thug usurpers of the bureaucracy want to send a message: In today's America, everything is the gift of the government, and exists only at the government's pleasure, whether it's your health insurance, your religious liberty, or the monument to your fallen comrades. The Barrycades are such a perfect embodiment of what James Piereson calls "punitive liberalism" they should be tied round Obama's neck forever, in the way that "ketchup is a vegetable" got hung around Reagan-era Republicans. Alas, the court eunuchs of the Obama media cannot rouse themselves even on behalf of the nation's elderly warriors.

Meanwhile, Republicans offered a bill to prevent the shutdown affecting experimental cancer trials for children. The Democrats rejected it. "But if you can help one child who has cancer," CNN's Dana Bash asked Harry Reid, "why wouldn't you do it?"

"Why would we want to do that?" replied the Senate majority leader, denouncing Miss Bash's question as "irresponsible." For Democrats, the budget is all or nothing. Republican bills to fund this or that individual program have to be rejected out of hand as an affront to the apparent constitutional inviolability of the "continuing resolution." In fact, government by "continuing resolution" is a sleazy racket: The legislative branch is supposed to legislate. Instead, they're presented with a yea-or-nay vote on a single all-or-nothing multi-trillion-dollar band-aid stitched together behind closed doors to hold the federal leviathan together while it belches its way through to the next budget cycle. As Professor Angelo Codevilla of Boston University put it, "This turns democracy into a choice between tyranny and anarchy." It's certainly a perversion of responsible government: Congress has less say over specific federal expenditures than the citizens of my New Hampshire backwater do at Town Meeting over the budget for a new fence at the town dump. Pace Senator Reid, Republican proposals to allocate spending through targeted, mere multi-billion-dollar appropriations are not only not "irresponsible" but, in fact, a vast improvement over the "continuing resolution": To modify Lord Acton, power corrupts, but continuing power corrupts continually.   

America has no budget process. That's why it's the brokest nation in history. So a budgeting process that can't control the budget in a legislature that can't legislate leads to a government shutdown that shuts down open areas of grassland and the unmanned boat launch on the Bighorn River in Montana. Up next: the debt-ceiling showdown, in which we argue over everything except the debt. The conventional wisdom of the U.S. media is that Republicans are being grossly irresponsible not just to wave through another couple trillion or so on Washington's overdraft facility. Really? Other countries are actually reducing debt: New Zealand, for example, has a real budget that diminishes net debt from 26 percent of GDP to 17 percent by 2020. By comparison, America's net debt is currently about 88 percent, and we're debating only whether to increase it automatically or with a few ineffectual strings attached.

My favorite book of the moment is The Liberty Amendments, the new bestseller by Mark Levin — not because I agree with all his proposed constitutional amendments, and certainly not because I think they represent the views of a majority of Americans, but because he's fighting on the right battleground. A century of remorseless expansion by the "federal" government has tortured the constitutional order beyond meaning. America was never intended to be an homogenized one-size-fits-all nation of 300 million people run by a government as centralized as France's. It's no surprise that when it tries to be one it doesn't work terribly well. 

 Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. © 2013 Mark Steyn

 



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Fwd: Selling Secrets of Phone Users








http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/technology/selling-secrets-of-phone-users-to-advertisers.html?_r=0

Selling Secrets of Phone Users to Advertisers

SAN FRANCISCO — Once, only hairdressers and bartenders knew people's secrets.

Now, smartphones know everything — where people go, what they search for, what they buy, what they do for fun and when they go to bed. That is why advertisers, and tech companies like Google and Facebook, are finding new, sophisticated ways to track people on their phones and reach them with individualized, hypertargeted ads. And they are doing it without cookies, those tiny bits of code that follow users around the Internet, because cookies don't work on mobile devices.

Privacy advocates fear that consumers do not realize just how much of their private information is on their phones and how much is made vulnerable simply by downloading and using apps, searching the mobile Web or even just going about daily life with a phone in your pocket. And this new focus on tracking users through their devices and online habits comes against the backdrop of a spirited public debate on privacy and government surveillance.

On Wednesday, the National Security Agency confirmed it had collected data from cellphone towers in 2010 and 2011 to locate Americans' cellphones, though it said it never used the information.

"People don't understand tracking, whether it's on the browser or mobile device, and don't have any visibility into the practices going on," said Jennifer King, who studies privacy at the University of California, Berkeley and has advised the Federal Trade Commission on mobile tracking. "Even as a tech professional, it's often hard to disentangle what's happening."

Drawbridge is one of several start-ups that have figured out how to follow people without cookies, and to determine that a cellphone, work computer, home computer and tablet belong to the same person, even if the devices are in no way connected. Before, logging onto a new device presented advertisers with a clean slate.

"We're observing your behaviors and connecting your profile to mobile devices," said Eric Rosenblum, chief operating officer at Drawbridge. But don't call it tracking. "Tracking is a dirty word," he said.

Drawbridge, founded by a former Google data scientist, says it has matched 1.5 billion devices this way, allowing it to deliver mobile ads based on Web sites the person has visited on a computer. If you research a Hawaiian vacation on your work desktop, you could see a Hawaii ad that night on your personal cellphone.

For advertisers, intimate knowledge of users has long been the promise of mobile phones. But only now are numerous mobile advertising services that most people have never heard of — like Drawbridge, Flurry, Velti and SessionM — exploiting that knowledge, largely based on monitoring the apps we use and the places we go. This makes it ever harder for mobile users to escape the gaze of private companies, whether insurance firms or shoemakers.

Ultimately, the tech giants, whose principal business is selling advertising, stand to gain. Advertisers using the new mobile tracking methods include Ford Motor, American Express, Fidelity, Expedia, Quiznos and Groupon.

"In the old days of ad targeting, we give them a list of sites and we'd say, 'Women 25 to 45,' " said David Katz, the former general manager of mobile at Groupon and now at Fanatics, the sports merchandise online retailer. "In the new age, we basically say, 'Go get us users.' "

In those old days — just last year — digital advertisers relied mostly on cookies. But cookies do not attach to apps, which is why they do not work well on mobile phones and tablets. Cookies generally do work on mobile browsers, but do not follow people from a phone browser to a computer browser. The iPhone's mobile Safari browser blocks third-party cookies altogether.

Even on PCs, cookies have lost much of their usefulness to advertisers, largely because of cookie blockers.

Responding to this problem, the Interactive Advertising Bureau started a group to explore the future of the cookie and alternatives, calling current online advertising "a lose-lose-lose situation for advertisers, consumers, publishers and platforms." Most recently, Google began considering creating an anonymous identifier tied to its Chrome browser that could help target ads based on user Web browsing history.

For many advertisers, cookies are becoming irrelevant anyway because they want to reach people on their mobile devices.

Yet advertising on phones has its limits.

For example, advertisers have so far had no way to know whether an ad seen on a phone resulted in a visit to a Web site on a computer. They also have been unable to connect user profiles across devices or even on the same device, as users jump from the mobile Web to apps.

Without sophisticated tracking, "running mobile advertising is like throwing money out the window. It's worse than buying TV advertisements," said Ravi Kamran, founder and chief executive of Trademob, a mobile app marketing and tracking service.

This is why a service that connects multiple devices with one user is so compelling to marketers.

Drawbridge, which was founded by Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, formerly at AdMob, the Google mobile ad network, has partnerships with various online publishers and ad exchanges. These send partners a notification every time a user visits a Web site or mobile app, which is considered an opportunity to show an ad. Drawbridge watches the notifications for behavioral patterns and uses statistical modeling to determine the probability that several devices have the same owner and to assign that person an anonymous identifier.

So if someone regularly checks a news app on a phone in bed each morning, browses the same news site from a laptop in the kitchen, visits from that laptop at an office an hour later and returns that night on a tablet in the same home, Drawbridge concludes that those devices belong to the same person. And if that person shopped for airplane tickets at work, Drawbridge could show that person an airline ad on the tablet that evening.

Ms. Sivaramakrishnan said its pinpointing was so accurate that it could show spouses different, personalized ads on a tablet they share. Before, she said, "ad targeting was about devices, not users, but it's more important to understand who the user is."

Similarly, if you use apps for Google Chrome, Facebook or Amazon on your cellphone, those companies can track what you search for, buy or post across your devices when you are logged in.

Other companies, like Flurry, get to know people by the apps they use.

Flurry embeds its software in 350,000 apps on 1.2 billion devices to help app developers track things like usage. Its tracking software appears on the phone automatically when people download those apps. Flurry recently introduced a real-time ad marketplace to send advertisers an anonymized profile of users the moment they open an app.

Profiles are as detailed as wealthy bookworms who own small businesses or new mothers who travel for business and like to garden. The company has even more specific data about users that it does not yet use because of privacy concerns, said Rahul Bafna, senior director of Flurry.

Wireless carriers know even more about us from our home ZIP codes, like how much time we spend on mobile apps and which sites we visit on mobile browsers. Verizon announced in December that its customers could authorize it to share that information with advertisers in exchange for coupons. AT&T announced this summer that it would start selling aggregated customer data to marketers, while offering a way to opt out.

Neither state nor federal law prohibits the collection or sharing of data by third parties. In California, app developers are required to post a privacy policy and to clearly state what personal information they collect and how they share it. Still, that leaves much mystery for ordinary mobile users.

 



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