30 Oct 2013
FBI to Lavabit founder: ‘Do you really think users trust you over us?’ – Daily Caller
The FBI fined, threatened, and forced Ladar Levison to suspend the operation of his secure email service, Lavabit LLC, telling the entrepreneur that his users were more likely to trust the government than him.
Now that’s funny… There are not many that trust the government these days.
Levison said he was willing to provide the FBI limited access to what they wanted, but the bureau told him that was not sufficient, insisting on full access.
He recalls lead prosecutor Jim Trump asking, “Do you really think users trust you over us?” Levison answered in the affirmative and Trump replied that Levison was “lucky” he had not already been arrested.
“I was outnumbered eight to one,” said Levison speaking of his interaction with federal agents. “They were taking offense that I was saying these things. They didn’t seem to understand at all what they were doing.”
Levison said the FBI responded to concerns about overreach by saying, basically, “Don’t worry. We’re the federal government. We wouldn’t do that.”
And the FBI wanted a lot more access than to just one account, Levison said. “I had an FBI agent that came to my home office saying that they wanted to collect content, wanted to collect passwords. I could not in good conscience turn over these keys and let them have unaudited access.”
According to Levison, the worst part was being under court-sanctioned gag order, leaving him unable to explain his self-described “existential crisis” to customers. “How do you fight a law that nobody knows exists?” said Levison, “I was having trouble sleeping. It was a huge problem for me ethically.”
Guilty before innocence. That’s not the American way. Way to go Mr. Levison.
30 Oct 2013
Social Security set to announce annual COLA; benefit increase to be among lowest in years – Washington Post
The cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, is based on a government measure of inflation that is being released Wednesday.
Preliminary figures suggest a raise of roughly 1.5 percent, which would make it among the smallest since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975. The increase will be small because consumer prices, as measured by the government, haven’t gone up much in the past year.
Since 1975, annual Social Security raises have averaged 4.1 percent. Only six times have they been less than 2 percent, including three of the past five years. This year’s increase was 1.7 percent. There was no COLA in 2010 or 2011 because inflation was too low.
By law, the cost-of-living adjustment is based on the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers, a broad measure of consumer prices generated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It measures price changes for food, housing, clothing, transportation, energy, medical care, recreation and education.
The COLA is calculated by comparing consumer prices in July, August and September each year to prices in the same three months from the previous year. If prices go up over the course of the year, benefits go up, starting with payments delivered in January.
30 Oct 2013
Men Attacked Paramedic as He Responded to Emergency, Prosecutors Say – DNA Info Chicago
Two men are accused of attacking a Chicago Fire Department paramedic in Andersonville as he and fellow first responders were treating a patient Friday night.
Daniel Delgado, 31, and Hector Moreno, 24, were each charged with aggravated battery to a government employee and appeared in bond court Sunday.
The paramedics were treating an injured man in the 5600 block of North Clark Street about 5:30 p.m. when Delgado came up to the ambulance and kicked the side door, Assistant State’s Attorney Ron Park said.
Delgado then punched one of the paramedics in his chest, said Park, who did not give a motive for Delgado’s alleged attack.
Pretty close to the bottom of the barrel here.
30 Oct 2013
A black box in your car? Some see a source of tax revenue – L.A. Times
The devices, which track every mile a motorist drives and transmit that information to bureaucrats, are at the center of a controversial attempt in Washington and state planning offices to overhaul the outdated system for funding America’s major roads.
The push comes as the country’s Highway Trust Fund, financed with taxes Americans pay at the gas pump, is broke. Americans don’t buy as much gas as they used to. Cars get many more miles to the gallon. The federal tax itself, 18.4 cents per gallon, hasn’t gone up in 20 years. Politicians are loath to raise the tax even one penny when gas prices are high.
“The gas tax is just not sustainable,” said Lee Munnich, a transportation policy expert at the University of Minnesota. His state recently put tracking devices on 500 cars to test out a pay-by-mile system. “This works out as the most logical alternative over the long term,” he said.
The U.S. Senate approved a $90-million pilot project last year that would have involved about 10,000 cars. But the House leadership killed the proposal, acting on concerns of rural lawmakers representing constituents whose daily lives often involve logging lots of miles to get to work or into town.
The gas tax is not sustainable? Wrong. Government spending is not sustainable. Our government has a spending addiction problem. Maybe if they weren’t spending money on wrecking the health insurance system – they could have some money. Oh wait – we spend $1 trillion more than is collected, and we are $17 trillion in debt. We really have no money. Changing the gas tax to a mileage based tax with the means to track us is not the way to fix the problem. Stop spending more than you bring in.
29 Oct 2013
A report from the TARP Inspector General. 518 pages in PDF form. Can’t they make these reports easier to read? The Executive Summary does not do justice.
TARP Quarterly Report – October 29, 2013 – Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program
First sentence of the Executive Summary…
The financial system has stabilized in part due to five years of the TARP bailout, but the toxic corporate culture that led up to the financial crisis and TARP has not sufficiently changed.
Doesn’t give you the warm fuzzies.
Apparently the government took a $9.7 billion dollar loss from the money loaned to General Motors. This is despite Obama trumpeting General Motors paying back its loans in 2010.
Hopefully some details will be posted from this report later pending time constraints.
29 Oct 2013
Oregon is not following their neighbors to the south. California recently allowed illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses.
Oregonians Fight Illegal Alien License Law – Judicial Watch
Oregon taxpayers are successfully fighting back against a law—passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor months ago—to give illegal immigrants driver’s licenses by the start of 2014.
The measure, Senate Bill 833, directs the Department of Transportation to issue special driver cards to applicants who don’t provide proof of legal presence in the United States. The illegal aliens must still pass a driving test and provide “acceptable documents that prove their identity, date of birth, and residency in Oregon for more than a year.” Here’s another interesting line in the actual law: “A Social Security number will also be required if one has been assigned.”
Social Security Numbers assigned to illegal immigrants… really??
This outraged an Oregon group that favors immigration control. At the very least, citizens should be able to vote on the matter. So the group, Oregonians for Immigration Reform, got busy and collected the necessary 58,142 signatures to put a referendum blocking the law onto the November 2014 ballot. This already delays the law’s implementation by almost a year because it was supposed to kick in on January 2014.
Nice work by Oregonians for Immigration Reform.
29 Oct 2013
Late IT Cash Surge Foreshadowed Health-Law Woes – Bloomberg
Although the Affordable Care Act has been law for three and a half years, one third of the funds going to the top contractors working on the federal exchanges were awarded in the six months before the new insurance marketplaces opened Oct. 1, a Bloomberg Government Analysis has found.
The torrent of late spending — almost $352 million of $1 billion in awards to the top 10 contractors — indicates the magnitude of the work still to be done as opening day approached, and helps explain the information technology problems that have dogged the exchange system since its launch. In a typical IT project, spending ramps up to a peak, then trails off during the final phase.