Feb 20, 2009 PDF Print E-mail

Michigan State Rep. Paul Opsommer, R-DeWitt, today blasted new Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for her recent comments regarding the expansion of the current "Enhanced Drivers License Program" into both border and non-border states.... Opsommer is pushing for a moratorium on the creation of any Enhanced Driver License until how the data will be shared is clarified, as well the need to include the RFID computer chips is stripped out.

Nevada bill would turn RFID researchers into felons
The sponsor of a controversial bill before the Nevada legislature has promised to introduce amendments after security experts and civil libertarians warned it would make felons of people studying privacy threats involving RFID, or radio frequency identification. In its present form, Senate Bill 125 (PDF) would make it a felony for anyone to possess, read or capture the personally identifying RFID information of others without their consent.This would prevent the testing and demonstrating of RFID weaknesses in a state that hosts Defcon and Black Hat, the biggest hacker conference and one of the biggest security conferences respectively. State Senator David Parks, the original sponsor of the bill, said he intends to amend the bill on Monday to exempt people carrying out "legitimate research." "The ability to be able to take this RFID technology into the real world and actually show it to people is pretty crucial because there is a lot of misunderstanding about the technology and people need practical demonstrations...." said Chris Paget, who last month demonstrated a low-cost mobile platform that can clone large numbers of unique RFID tags embedded in US passport cards and next generation drivers licenses. "It definitely needs an exception."

I tried to cash a relatively small check from a client today and the teller (Laura DiSabato) refused to honor the check unless I gave a finger or thumbprint on the check. The issue was raised to her supervisor (Elizabeth Germond) who stood firm. I want to cash the check and I believe it's wrong for them not to honor checks drawn on their bank. I did show a drivers license to prove my ID. I have other legal/political details to follow in a separate post....

The army has found a way to remotely control the giant flower beetle by implanting it with electrodes and a radio receiver. Commands are sent to the beetle wirelessly instructing to start, stop, turn right, and turn left. The video below demonstrates the technology on a “medium beetle.” If that’s medium, imagine how massive the large ones must be!

New plan may tax U.S. drivers for every mile traveled, says Transportation Secretary Roy LaHood
WASHINGTON - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he wants to consider taxing motorists based on how many miles they drive rather than how much gasoline they burn.... A tentative plan in Massachusetts to use GPS chips in vehicles to charge motorists by the mile has drawn complaints from drivers who say it's an Orwellian intrusion by government into the lives of citizens. Other motorists say it eliminates an incentive to drive more fuel-efficient cars since gas guzzlers will be taxed at the same rate as fuel sippers.

Texas State Rep. Pat Rose Comes out Against NAIS
(National Animal Identification System) BRAVO!

CVS Hit With $2.5 Million Fine For Consumer Data Dumpster Diving Debacle
As punishment for the careless disposal of items containing personal information, CVS Caremark must pay a $2.5 million fine and establish a “comprehensive information security program” to protect both paper and electronic documents containing sensitive data, according to a government settlement announced Wednesday

Smart Grid: Government spying targets Rural America
Ostensibly, Smart Grid is about energy efficiency and climate change. This intelligent power grid gathers information about individual energy use via sensors embedded in the transmission lines and in homes and businesses. The government, via WAPA, will know what temperature you keep your home or business at. If you keep your domicile warmer or cooler than the temperature approved by the federal government, you pay more. To some, this is an acceptable arrangement, until they discover what else Smart Grid can do...

Uunder a law Congress passed last year aimed at regulating hazards in children’s products, the federal government has now advised that children’s books published before 1985 should not be considered safe and may in many cases be unlawful to sell or distribute. Merchants, thrift stores, and booksellers may be at risk if they sell older volumes, or even give them away, without first subjecting them to testing—at prohibitive expense. Many used-book sellers, consignment stores, Goodwill outlets, and the like have accordingly begun to refuse new donations of pre-1985 volumes, yank existing ones off their shelves, and in some cases discard them en masse.

Microsoft explores "educational" link to video games
Microsoft has put up $1.5 million to start The Games for Learning Institute, a joint venture with New York University and other colleges. The goal of the research is to see whether video games — and not just software specifically designed to be educational — can draw students into math, science and technology-based programs. The institute has begun lining up middle school students to study.Many shooter games force players to track "how many bullets and bombs and missiles do I have".., navigate underground tunnels and buildings, monitor weapons systems, [and] gauge their health and find places to take cover. The idea that there is broader educational value in such activities is sure to find skeptics.
(USA Today is gushing, though.)

Bill proposes ISPs, Wi-Fi keep logs for police
Republican politicians on Thursday called for a sweeping new federal law that would impose unprecedented data retention requirements on a broad swath of Internet access providers and is certain to draw fire from businesses and privacy advocates. ... Each [bill] contains the same language: 'A provider of an electronic communication service or remote computing service shall retain for a period of at least two years all records or other information pertaining to the identity of a user of a temporarily assigned network address the service assigns to that user.'
Two bills have been introduced so far--S.436 in the Senate and H.R.1076 in the House. Each of the companion bills is titled "Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today's Youth Act," or Internet Safety Act.

On April 20th Pepsi will start selling versions of Pepsi and Mountain Dew that use real sugar, rather than nasty high fructose corn syrup. The drinks will only be available until June, and while bloggers are hoping this is a test run to bring the big soda boys back into the sugar camp, it probably has a little more to do with Passover. Jewish people who observe Passover generally don’t consume grains; hence the reason for seeking out sugar based sodas. Kosher Pepsi and Kosher Coke have been providing this alternative every year for awhile now, (Will it be cane sugar or GMO beet sugar? Time will tell.)

Courtney Love threw Her Daughter a "Suicide-Themed" 16th Birthday Party
Coutney Love's daughter "Francis Bean Cobain" has had a troubled upbringing. Her father, Kurt Cobain of the rock band Nirvana, blew his brains when she was a toddler. Last year, her mom threw her a $300,000 "suicide-themed" sweet 16 birthday party with prizes awarded to the partygoer who looked "The most dead." Now Mom is introducingFrancis Bean to the party set in London to clinch the deal. This whole train wreck would hardly be worth mentioning, but for the fact that Love was just named "Woman of the Year" at the Elle Style Awards last week.

Chicago Mayor Wants A Surveillance Camera on Every Street Corner
Mayor Daley has argued that security and terrorism won't be an issue if his Olympic dreams come true because, by 2016, there will be a surveillance camera on every street corner in Chicago. The city recently made a $6 million upgrade to its
"computer-aided dispatch" system, allowing officials to pan, tilt and zoom the cameras to get the best possible view of a crime or disaster scene.
the crime-fighting potential is "limitless," a police official. "We’re going to grow the system until we eventually cover one end of the city to the other," said another.

Mandatory seatbelt use may become the law in New Hampshire
The N.H. House Wednesday passed a mandatory seatbelt law by a sizable margin.
Arguing against the measure, Rep. Jennifer Coffey painted a seatbelt law as the first step down a slippery slope of government intervention. "Many die from liver failure, so I suggest we will have to bring back Prohibition," said Coffey, an Andover Republican. She also suggested "human weight check stations at the borders, preventing people from entering our state if they’re obese." Coffey said lawmakers shouldn’t be tempted by the $3.7 million federal bribe. "Are we now saying that, because times are tough, we will change our values?" she said.

Tor: Anonymity Online
According to its website, "Tor is a software project that helps you defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy... Tor protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, and it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location....Hundreds of thousands of people around the world use Tor for a wide variety of reasons: journalists and bloggers, human rights workers, law enforcement officers, soldiers, corporations, citizens of repressive regimes, and just ordinary citizens."
Somebody check this out and get back to me.

Oklahoma City police officer pulls man over for anti-Obama sign on vehicle
Police officers stopped Oklahoma City motorist Chip Harrison and confiscated a sign from his car which read "Abort Obama Not the Unborn." Harrison told the officers that in his opinion the words "Abort Obama" meant to impeach him. He told the officers he does not believe in abortion because he is a Christian. The sign was later returned. Then the Secret Service got involved. "The Secret Service called me and said they weren't going to ransack my house or anything ... they just wanted to (walk through the house) and make sure I wasn't a part of any hate groups... We walked through the house and my wife and 2-year-old were in the house," Harrison said. He said they interviewed him for about 30 minutes and then left, not finding any evidence Harrison was a threat to the president.

N.J. fines Florida-based tomato grower $1 million for misuse of pesticides
Ag-Mart Produce Inc., which has an office in Cedarville, Cumberland County, is already facing fines and charges of pesticide misuse in North Carolina, where female employees claim their babies were born with serious defects. Ag-Mart applied pesticides to tomatoes more frequently than permitted and on 17 occasions harvested and shipped pesticide-sprayed tomatoes before they were safe for public consumption.

Wholesale inflation takes biggest jump in 6 months
The Labor Department said Thursday that wholesale prices increased by 0.8 percent last month, the biggest gain since last July and well above the 0.2 percent increase that economists had expected.
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Wholesale-inflation-takes-apf-14410311.html

Google wins Boring Street View case: Mr and Mrs Boring lose right to web privacy
A court in Pennsylvania has found Google not guilty of privacy invasion, after a couple tried to sue the web giant over misuse of its Street View app. "While it is easy to imagine that many whose property appears on Google's virtual maps resent the privacy implications, it is hard to believe that any – other than the most exquisitely sensitive – would suffer shame or humiliation," said Judge Hay, about the case.

Google Research prototypes ambient audio contextual content (2006)
A team from Google Research has developed a prototype system that uses a home computer’s internal microphone to listen to the ambient audio in a room, determine what is being watched on TV and offer web-based supplemental information, services and shopping contextual to each program being watched. There’s no indication yet whether or when this could be available as a service.

Smart Roads. Smart Bridges. Smart Grids. (Wall Street Journal)
Federal, state and local governments are about to pour tens of billions of dollars into the nation's infrastructure. Powering the "smart infrastructure" are the latest advances in sensors, wireless communications and computing power, all tied together by the Internet. Not surprisingly IBM and GE are leading the push for smarter infrastructure. [Look for more rhetoric about "smart infrstructure" which will be used to justify tracking our movements, power consumption, and more. -K.A.]

New service unmasks blocked telephone calls
TelTech Systems is offering mobile telephone users the power to unmask callers who block their numbers or names from being displayed. The US-based firm launched a TrapCall service this month with an online posting thanking its development team and declaring "Get ready for the site to go ballistic." To use the service, people register mobile telephone numbers at a TrapCall.com website without having to download software to devices. Calls from unidentified sources can then be bounced to TelTech computers, which reveal points of origin.  [This ought to be illegal. -K.A.]

White House: Obama Opposes 'Fairness Doctrine' Revival
President Obama opposes any move to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine, a spokesman told FOXNews.com Wednesday. The statement is the first definitive stance the administration has taken since an aide told an industry publication last summer that Obama opposes the doctrine -- a long-abolished policy that would require broadcasters to provide opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.

Wisconsin girl, 14, nabbed after refusing to stop messaging
A 14-year-old Wisconsin girl who refused to stop texting during a high school math class was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, according to police. The teenager was busted last Wednesday at Wauwatosa East High School after she ignored a teacher's demand that she cease texting. The student was issued a criminal citation for disorderly conduct, which carried "a bail of $298." She is scheduled for an April 20 court appearance on the misdemeanor rap.

The Naked-izing Machine is Here: Body scanners replace metal detectors in tryout at Tulsa airport
An experimental program at Tulsa International Airport will test out new $170,000 body scanners that reveal outlines of private body parts. "We're getting closer and closer to a required strip-search to board an airplane," said Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union. Anyone who doesn't want to go through the new scanners will be allowed to refuse and instead go through a metal detector and receive a pat-down. Airports in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Miami, Albuquerque and Salt Lake City will join the test in the next two months.

Mexico 'to fingerprint all mobile phone users'
Mexico will start a national register of mobile phone users that will include fingerprinting all customers in an effort to catch criminals who use the devices to extort money and negotiate kidnapping ransoms.

Judges plead guilty in kickback scheme
Judge Mark Ciavarella, and colleague, Michael Conahan, appeared in federal court in Scranton, Pa., to plead guilty to wire fraud and income-tax fraud for taking more than $2.6 million in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth-detention centers run by PA Child Care and a sister company, Western PA Child Care. Prosecutors said that Conahan, 56, secured contracts for the two centers to house juvenile offenders, and Ciavarella, 58, carried out the sentencing to keep the centers filled.

US commander warns American troops will be in Afghanistan for years
The top US commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, warned on Wednesday that the huge boost to US troop numbers announced this week would have to continue for years. His comments underscore the fact that the Obama administration is preparing for a dramatic escalation of the war in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan that will inevitably heighten tensions throughout the region, especially in Central Asia.


Last Updated on Sunday, 22 February 2009 12:52
 
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