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Archive for March 6th, 2014


A stroll into the future by way of the past: A Visible journey. http://www.zippittydodah.com/2011/09/… It was the time of religious wars. It was a time of materialism and intellectual darkness. It was a time of epidemic moral compromise and the end justifying the means by whatever means. It was a time of the worship of the transitory and the elevation of drunken ignorance over the thirst for truth. Truth was a refugee in flight on a violent night.

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A former CIA and civilian pilot has sworn an affidavit, stating that no planes flew into the Twin Towers as it would have been physically impossible.

John Lear, the son of Learjet inventor, Bill Lear, has given his expert evidence that it would have been physically impossible for Boeing 767s, like Flights AA11 and UA175 to have hit the Twin Towers on 9/11, particularly when flown by inexperienced pilots:

‘No Boeing 767 airliners hit the Twin Towers as fraudulently alleged by the government, media, NIST and its contractors’, he stated in the affidavit.

‘Such crashes did not occur because they are physically impossible as depicted, for the following reasons: in the case of UAL 175 going into the south tower, a real Boeing 767 would have begun ‘telescoping’ when the nose hit the 14 inch steel columns which are 39 inches on center.

‘The vertical and horizontal tail would have instantaneously separated from the aircraft, hit the steel box columns and fallen to the ground.

‘The engines when impacting the steel columns would havemaintained their general shape and either fallen to the ground or been recovered in the debris of the collapsed building.

‘No Boeing 767 could attain a speed of 540 mph at 1000 feet above sea level ‘parasite drag doubles with velocity’ and ‘parasite power’ cubes with velocity.

  • The fan portion of the engine is not designed to accept the volume of dense air at that altitude and speed.
  • The piece of alleged external fuselage containing 3 or 4 window cutouts is inconsistent with an airplane that hit 14 inch steel box columns, placed at over 500 mph.  It would have crumpled.
  • No significant part of the Boeing 767 or engine could have penetrated the 14 inch steel columns and 37 feet beyond the massive core of the tower without part of it falling to the ground.

‘The debris of the collapse should have contained massive sections of the Boeing 767, including 3 engine cores weighing approximately 9000 pounds apiece which could not have been hidden. Yet there is no evidence of any of these massive structural components from either 767 at the WTC. Such complete disappearance of 767s is impossible.

The affidavit, dated 28th January 2014 is part of a law suit being pursued by Morgan Reynolds in the United States District Court, Southern District, New York.

In March 2007, Reynolds, a former chief economist under the George W Bush administration filed a Request For Correction with the US National Institute of Science and Technology citing his belief that real commercial jets (Boeings) did not hit the WTC towers.

Although the 9/11 Truth movement initially rejected the ‘no-planes’ theory as too outlandish, after scientific and rational analysis, it has become a widely accepted explanation of the evidence collected.

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Unlike any other form of statement, an affidavit becomes truth in law, if it is not rebutted.  It will now be up to critics of the theory to present their evidence and analysis to rebut the statement point by point.  If they do not – or cannot – then the US government will be obliged to admit that the account given by the 9/11 Commission is wrong.

The 65 year old retired airline captain and former CIA pilot – who has over 19,000 hours of flight time — also drew attention to the inexperience of the pilots who allegedly flew the planes:

‘The alleged ‘controlled’ descent into New York on a relatively straight course by a novice pilot in unlikely in the extreme because of the difficulty of controlling heading, descent rate and descent speed within the parameters of ‘controlled’ flight.

‘It takes a highly skilled pilot to interpret the “EFIS” (Electronic Flight Instrument Display) display, with which none of the hijacker pilots would have been familiar or received training on, and use his controls, including the ailerons, rudder, elevators, spoilers and throttles to effect, control and maintain a descent.

Lear has, according to his sworn statement, flown over 100 different types of planes during his 40 years of flying and holds more FAA airman certificates than any other FAA certificated airman. He flew secret missions for the CIA in Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa between 1967 and 1983 then spent 17 years working for several passenger and cargo airlines as Captain, Check Airman and Instructor.

He is a member of Pilotfor911truth.org, which has consistently shown that it was impossible for jet airliners to have hit the Twin Towers in the way the 9/11 Commission has suggested.

The Commission did not take evidence from experts or pilots when it conducted its enquiry into the attacks from 2002 to 2004.

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In a nearly $13 billion settlement with the US Justice Department in November 2013, JPMorganChase admitted that it, along with every other large US bank, had engaged in mortgage fraud as a routine business practice, sowing the seeds of the mortgage meltdown. JPMorgan and other megabanks have now been caught in over a dozen major frauds, including LIBOR-rigging and bid-rigging; yet no prominent banker has gone to jail. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of all mortgages nationally remain underwater (meaning the balance owed exceeds the current value of the home), sapping homeowners’ budgets, the housing market and the economy. Since the banks, the courts and the federal government have failed to give adequate relief to homeowners, some cities are taking matters into their own hands.

Gayle McLaughlin, the bold mayor of Richmond, California, has gone where no woman dared go before, threatening to take underwater mortgages by eminent domain from Wall Street banks and renegotiate them on behalf of beleaguered homeowners. A member of the Green Party, which takes no corporate campaign money, she proved her mettle standing up to Chevron, which dominates the Richmond landscape. But the banks have signaled that if Richmond or another city tries the eminent domain gambit, they will rush to court seeking an injunction. Their grounds: an unconstitutional taking of private property and breach of contract.

How to refute those charges? There is a way; but to understand it, you first need to grasp the massive fraud perpetrated on homeowners. It is how you were duped into paying more than your house was worth; why you should not just turn in your keys or short-sell your underwater property away; why you should urge Congress not to legalize the MERS scheme; and why you should insist that your local government help you acquire title to your home at a fair price if the banks won’t. That is exactly what Richmond and other city councils are attempting to do through the tool of eminent domain.

The Securitization Fraud That Collapsed the Housing Market

One settlement after another has now been reached with investors and government agencies for the sale of “faulty mortgage bonds,” including a suit brought by Fannie and Freddie that settled in October 2013 for $5.1 billion. “Faulty” is a euphemism for “fraudulent.” It means that mortgages subject to securitization have “clouded” or “defective” titles. And that means the banks and real estate trusts claiming title as owners or nominees don’t actually have title – or have standing to enjoin the city from proceeding with eminent domain. They can’t claim an unconstitutional taking of property because they can’t prove they own the property, and they can’t claim breach of contract because they weren’t the real parties in interest to the mortgages (the parties putting up the money).

“Securitization” involves bundling mortgages into a pool, selling them to a non-bank vehicle called a “real estate trust,” and then selling “securities” (bonds) to investors (called “mortgage-backed securities” or “collateralized debt obligations”). By 2007, 75% of all mortgage originations were securitized. According to investment banker and financial analyst Christopher Whalen, the purpose of securitization was to allow banks to avoid capitalization requirements, enabling them to borrow at unregulated levels.

Since the real estate trusts were “off-balance sheet,” they did not count in the banks’ capital requirements. But under applicable accounting rules, that was true only if they were “true sales.” According to Whalen, “most of the securitizations done by banks over the past two decades were in fact secured borrowings, not true sales, and thus potential frauds on insured depositories.” He concludes, “bank abuses of non-bank vehicles to pretend to sell assets and thereby lower required capital levels was a major cause of the subprime financial crisis.”

In 1997, the FDIC gave the banks a pass on these disguised borrowings by granting them “safe harbor” status. This proved to be a colossal mistake, which led to the implosion of the housing market and the economy at large. Safe harbor status was finally withdrawn in 2011; but in the meantime, “financings” were disguised as “true sales,” permitting banks to grossly over-borrow and over-leverage. Over-leveraging allowed credit to be pumped up to bubble levels, driving up home prices. When the bubble collapsed, homeowners had to pick up the tab by paying on mortgages that far exceeded the market value of their homes. According to Whalen:

[T]he largest commercial banks became “too big to fail” in large part because they used non-bank vehicles to increase leverage without disclosure or capital backing. . . .

The failure of Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and most notably Citigroup all were largely attributable to deliberate acts of securities fraud whereby assets were “sold” to investors via non-bank financial vehicles.  These transactions were styled as “sales” in an effort to meet applicable accounting rules, but were in fact bank frauds that must, by GAAP and law applicable to non-banks since 1997, be reported as secured borrowings.  Under legal tests stretching from 16th Century UK law to the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act of the 1980s, virtually none of the mortgage backed securities deals of the 2000s met the test of a true sale.

. . . When the crisis hit, it suddenly became clear that the banks’ capital was insufficient.

Today . . . hundreds of billions in claims against banks arising from these purported “sales” of assets remain pending before the courts.

Eminent Domain as a Negotiating Tool

Investors can afford high-powered attorneys to bring investor class actions, but underwater and defaulting homeowners usually cannot; and that is where local government comes in. Eminent domain is a way to bring banks and investors to the bargaining table.

Professor Robert Hockett of Cornell University Law School is the author of the plan to use eminent domain to take underwater loans and write them down for homeowners. He writes on NewYorkFed.org:

[In] the case of privately securitized mortgages, [principal] write-downs are almost impossible to carry out, since loan modifications on the scale necessitated by the housing market crash would require collective action by a multitude of geographically dispersed security holders. The solution . . . Is for state and municipal governments to use their eminent domain powers to buy up and restructure underwater mortgages, thereby sidestepping the need to coordinate action across large numbers of security holders.

The problem is blowback from the banks, but it can be blocked by requiring them to prove title to the properties. Securities are governed by federal law, but real estate law is the domain of the states. Counties have a mandate to maintain clean title records; and legally, clean title requires a chain of “wet” signatures, from A to B to C to D. If the chain is broken, title is clouded. Properties for which title cannot be established escheat (or revert) to the state by law, allowing the government to start fresh with clean title.

New York State law governs most of the trusts involved in securitization. Under it, transfers of mortgages into a trust after the cutoff date specified in the Pooling and Servicing Agreement (PSA) governing the trust are void.

For obscure reasons, the REMICs (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits) claiming to own the properties routinely received them after the closing date specified in the PSAs. The late transfers were done throu gh the fraudulent signatures-after-the-fact called “robo-signing,” which occurred so regularly that they were the basis of a $25 billion settlement between a coalition of state attorneys general and the five biggest mortgage servicers in February 2012. (Why all the robo-signing? Good question. See my earlier article here.)

Until recently, courts have precluded homeowners from raising the late transfers into the trust as a defense to foreclosure, because the homeowners were not parties to the PSAs. But in August 2013, in Glaski v. Bank of America, N.A., 218 Cal. App. 4th 1079 (July 31, 2013), a California appellate court ruled that the question whether the loan ever made it into the asset pool could be raised in determining the proper party to initiate foreclosure. And whether or not the homeowner was a party to the PSA, the city and county have a clear legal interest in seeing that the PSA’s terms were complied with, since the job of the county recorder is to maintain records establishing clean title.

Before the rise of mortgage securitization, any transfer of a note and deed needed to be recorded as a public record, to give notice of ownership and establish a “priority of liens.” With securitization, a private database called MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) circumvented this procedure by keeping the deeds as “nominee for the beneficiary,” obscuring the property’s legal owner and avoiding the expense of recording the transfer (usually about $30 each). Estimates are that untraceable property assignments concealed behind MERS may have cost counties nationwide billions of dollars in recording fees. (See my earlier article here.)

Counties thus have not only a fiduciary but a financial interest in establishing clean title to the properties in their jurisdictions. If no one can establish title, the properties escheat and can be claimed free and clear. Eminent domain can be a powerful tool for negotiating loan modifications on underwater mortgages; and if the banks cannot prove title, they have no standing to complain.

The End of “Too Big to Fail”?

Richmond’s city council is only one vote short of the supermajority needed to pursue the eminent domain plan, and it is seeking partners in a Joint Powers Authority that will make the push much stronger. Grassroots efforts to pursue eminent domain are also underway in a number of other cities around the country. If Richmond pulls it off successfully, others will rush to follow.

The result could be costly for some very large banks, but they have brought it on themselves with shady dealings. Christopher Whalen predicts that the FDIC’s withdrawal of “safe harbor” status for the securitization model may herald the end of “too big to fail” for those banks, which will no longer have the power to grossly over-leverage and may have to keep their loans on their books.

Wall Street banks are deemed “too big to fail” only because there is no viable alternative – but there could be. Local governments could form their own publicly-owned banks, on the model of the state-owned Bank of North Dakota. They could then put their revenues, their savings, and their newly-acquired real estate into those public utilities, to be used to generate interest-free credit for the local government (since it would own the bank) and low-cost credit for the local community. For more on this promising option, which has been or is being explored in almost half the state legislatures in the US, see here.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and a candidate for California State Treasurer running on a state bank platform. She is the author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt and her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, which explores successful public banking models historically and globally.

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Many Democrats these days are ready to anoint Hillary Clinton as the 2016 Democratic nominee for president, although that election is more than two years away. And many of her closest supporters want everyone to think she is inevitable. But if Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic candidate, shouldn’t she be telling us what she thinks about important issues? If she is going to claim the mantle of leadership, shouldn’t she be showing some leadership on vital issues?

Clinton has been speaking to Wall Street and apparently providing it with assurances that she won’t rock the boat. She has given two speeches to Goldman Sachs, one to private equity firm KK&R and another to the Carlyle Group. She was paid $200,000 for each of her Goldman Sachs speeches; it is unknown what she was paid by KK&R and the Carlyle.

According to Politico:

“Clinton offered a message that the collected plutocrats found reassuring, according to accounts offered by several attendees, declaring that the banker­bashing so popular within both political parties was unproductive and indeed foolish. Striking a soothing note on the global financial crisis, she told the audience, in effect: We all got into this mess together, and we’re all going to have to work together to get out of it. What the bankers heard her say was just what they would hope for from a prospective presidential candidate.”

While Hillary has been reassuring Wall Street, has she told any of us what her positions on financial regulation are? Where does she stand on Glass­ Steagall legislation, which de­regulated banks during the Clinton administration and contributed to the 2007-‘0­8 financial melt­down; NAFTA, which has caused a million jobs to move off­shore; the trillion­-dollar bail­out of Wall Street; the lack of accountability for Wall Street; CEO wage inflation; widening disparities of income and wealth; and the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership, which has been described as “NAFTA on steroids”? Do we have any reason to believe that, if elected, she wouldn’t bring back the Bob Rubin/Larry Summers economic team, or Rubin/Summers clones, who de­regulated Wall Street, contributing to the melt­down of Wall Street and the American people’s loss of $13 trillion in wealth?

Do we know what her position is on the Keystone Pipeline or what she would do about impending climate change? As former Secretary of State charged with the task of reviewing the Keystone Pipeline application, she should be highly knowledgeable and informed about the environmental issues presented by the Keystone tar sands pipeline. Has she said anything publicly? If so, I missed it.

Has she even led on foreign policy issues, her area of expertise? We know she was strategically wrong about invading Iraq and escalating the war in Afghanistan and she tried to lead us into attacking Syria. On Iran, I credit her with finally supporting Obama’s peace initiative, but she did so only after almost every Democrat in the foreign policy community to the left of hawkish Madeleine Albright had come out publicly in favor of the initiative and in opposition to the Menendez­-Kirk Iran sanctions bill. Clinton only spoke up on the issue after the Menendez­-Kirk bill had completely stalled, so her opposition was not strategically important, although it was welcomed. Is being late to the party the new definition of leadership?

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Who says privacy is dead? While it’s true that marketers, the government, data aggregators and others are gathering and analyzing more data than ever about every individual, you can still exert some control over what’s out there, who’s tracking you and what they do with that information.

From the NSA’s admission that it is capturing and analyzing metadata on every American to Facebook’s appropriation of users’ posts, likes and images for use in product advertising endorsements, privacy concerns are now top of mind. According to a December Harris Interactive survey commissioned by privacy consultancy Truste, 74% of Internet users are more worried about privacy now than they were a year ago. Some 74% also say they are less likely to enable location tracking on the Web, 83% are less likely to click on online ads and 80% say they are less likely to use apps they don’t trust.

Consumers’ privacy concerns
What people are most afraid of. All percentages are up compared to last year. The study was conducted by Harris Interactive, on behalf of Truste, with more than 2,000 U.S. internet users polled in December 2013.
Online shopping – 93%
Online banking – 90%
Using social media – 90%
Using mobile apps – 85%
Truste 2014 Consumer Confidence Privacy Report

Computerworld asked nine people who live and breathe privacy what steps they recommend to get a handle on your personal data footprint — both offline and online. Some steps are easy, while others require both time and expertise to set up.

The key, these experts say, is to know what your goals are and go for the low-hanging fruit first. “If your goal is perfection, you’ll end up doing nothing. Look for good enough,” says Jules Polonetsky, executive director of the Future of Privacy Forum.

There are three primary reasons why people want to reduce their footprint, Polonetsky says. One is to hide from marketers. Another is personal security. Some people have good reason to be cautious about their identity, including those worried about domestic violence or stalkers. That takes a bit more work.

But the most extreme measures are generally reserved for people who have reason to worry that they might be targeted by the NSA, or by law enforcement, or be the subject of civil proceedings. For the latter group, Polonetsky says, the required measures are more difficult to set up and use — and the techniques may degrade the user’s experience online. (See sidebar, “When you absolutely must remain anonymous.”)

Fortunately, most people don’t need to go to these extremes. “Complete privacy is very difficult and expensive to achieve. But reasonable privacy — minimizing your footprint — is easier to achieve than you might think,” says Rob Shavell, co-founder and CEO at privacy software vendor Abine.

The information out there about you out falls into three basic categories, Shavell says:

  • Data that’s implicitly collected, such as the many services that track your browsing activity online
  • Data that’s explicitly collected, such as when you knowingly give out your email address and other data when signing up for a service online
  • Publicly available information about you that can be harvested by data collectors online, such as your phone number and address, Twitter feed, Facebook profile and public posts, court and property deed records and so on

The first step toward minimizing your online footprint is to know who’s tracking you. Tools like Disconnect and Mozilla’s Lightbeam, which visually show who’s tracking you as you visit different websites, can help, says Sid Stamm, senior engineering manager for security and privacy at Mozilla.

   Mozilla's Lightbeam

Tools like Mozilla’s Lightbeam visually show who’s tracking you as you visit different websites.

“The second thing is to figure out what the risks are that you’re trying to protect yourself from,” he says. Do you care who reads your Facebook updates? Or if someone you don’t know can read your email? The more data you want to protect, the more work you’ll need to do.

“The third layer is control, and that’s the hard part,” Stamm says. For example, if you want to hide all of your Internet traffic and your identity, you’ll need to use Tor or a VPN all the time. Most people, however, just want a reasonable amount of privacy.

Ready to minimize your data footprint? Here’s where to start.

The basics: Six standard operating procedures for online behavior

Draw the line: Decide what’s personal

The traditional definition of personally identifying information (PII) — health records, credit card numbers, social security number, etc. — is so 20th century. The big data age of the Internet is upon us, and even data not previously considered to be PII can feel very personal when viewed in a broader context. “Bits of data, when combined, tell a lot about you,” says Alex Fowler, chief privacy officer at Mozilla. Those aggregated bits, which constitute the new PII, may include such information as your email address, browsing history and search history.

“The definition of PII — information that a person has a legitimate interest in understanding and protecting — is going to be broadened as we move further into the information society,” says Fowler. “It’s a different footprint than what your parents ever thought about.”

“Think about what you consider personal information,” Fowler adds. “You need a working definition.”

Don’t share your personal information — even when asked

Are you responding to surveys by phone or online? Filling out warranty cards? (You need only your receipt to make a warranty claim.) Providing optional preference and demographic information when signing up for an online service? “Most of us give out information trivially,” says Abine’s Shavell, not understanding that all of that information ends up in profiles that may be used by the collector and later shared with data aggregators and others.

When you absolutely must remain anonymous

Tor is an essential tool to use when the sender needs to disseminate information and anonymity is essential. “It is the perfect tool for political dissidents who don’t want their names attached to information,” says Robert Hansen, a security researcher and director of product management at the vendor WhiteHat Security. (Tor also appeals to organized crime and other people who don’t want the law to catch up with their activities.)

But, there’s a cost to using it. “It’s a hassle,” and it can degrade a person’s Web experience, says Casey Oppenheim, CEO at anti-tracking software vendor Disconnect.

Tor consists of an open source browser you can download and a network that acts on your behalf to conceal your identity by preventing others from tracing network traffic back to you.

“Tor tunnels your traffic through a volunteer network of 5,000 relays spread around the world. Tor protects your content in transit by wrapping layers of encryption around your data without modifying or touching your data in transit,” explains Andrew Lewman, executive director of the Tor Project.

Your data keeps hopping from one node to another until a limit is reached. At that point it exits the Tor network and continues on to its destination. (The last node to handle the data is called the exit node). “Tor is essentially a very large, distributed VPN that’s free,” and it works well when used properly, Hansen says.

But it can also be dangerous if you don’t understand how to use it properly, as the Tor Project’s warnings make clear. “Tor can help you remain anonymous — if the account you logged into on the other end isn’t tied back to your real identity,” Hansen says.

“That last machine, the exit node, knows who you are if you submit your information in plain text, and that can break your privacy.” Users should understand that all of the nodes in the Tor network are operated by volunteers, Hansen says. If you’re logged into a service such as an online loan application, the owner of the exit node may be privy to all of that information.

It’s also not a good idea to use Tor to download an executable unless you can verify it hasn’t been tampered with, Hansen says, because the owners of the exit node could, if they wanted to, modify the content and change it to a malicious binary. But, Lewman points out, “Tor exit nodes are no more risky than your ISP’s caching proxy servers and other points along the path.”

Hansen’s recommendation: “Use Tor only over HTTPS, and only when you don’t want your name associated with whatever is going to happen over HTTPS.”

Even then, he says, it is important to remember that some entities out there, such as certain government agencies, may still be able to decrypt the message and identify you.

— Robert L. Mitchell

Lie. About. Everything.

Many online services demand that you divulge some information about yourself if you want to do business with them. If you don’t want to share, you can either choose not to use that service — or you can provide false information. Don’t use your real birthday, email, address and phone number on social network sites, and don’t use real answers when creating answers to challenge questions, says Robert Hansen, a security researcher and director of product management at the website security consultancy WhiteHat Security.

“Never give out any real information about yourself unless absolutely necessary. Lie about everything. That’s basic operational security,” he says.

You may, of course, need a working email address to validate an account. You can create a webmail account specifically for this purpose, or you can use a service such as DoNotTrackMe, which creates “disposable” proxy email addresses and phone numbers for this purpose. Yahoo Mail also offers disposable email addresses.

Create personal and professional personas

Stamm creates and maintains separate personal and professional online profiles for browsing the Web. Specifically, he uses separate instances of Firefox for each persona. “The experience is less noisy,” he says, because his personal and professional web histories aren’t mashed together.

Casey Oppenheim, CEO at anti-tracking software vendor Disconnect, recommends using one browser for Web surfing and another to log into your online accounts like Facebook, Google or Twitter — to reduce cross-site tracking.

Understand how much you’re paying before signing up for “free” apps and online services

By now most people realize that the price you pay for using “free” online websites, apps and services is measured in data collected about you. The question you need to ask is: How high is the price?

Understand exactly what data you are giving up and weigh that against the value of the app or service you’re receiving in return. For example, you might need to share an email address for your Facebook account, but you don’t need to share your telephone number and location data, or allow search engines to index and link to posts on your timeline. You can lower the price somewhat by taking advantage of available privacy controls that let you limit the types of data collected or how it’s used and shared.

But privacy policies can change at any time, and no one knows what will happen to that data in the future. If the developer of an app goes out of business, for example, your data may be sold. Which is why you should always…

Delete your unused online accounts

Do you leave a trail of orphaned accounts behind you as you try different online services? Close them down, or that trail of digital relationships might come back to haunt you. “There are dozens of social networks that came and went over the years, and I think I signed up with every one of them along the way,” says Mozilla’s Fowler.

Many of the services you sign up for eventually disappear. “When they do, that information about you will be sold to someone at some time as an asset,” he says, and the value of those assets is based on how many users they had and what they know about them.

The deeper they got with their customers, the more valuable the assets. “You have no idea how it’s getting used or where it might resurface at another point in your life, so it’s important to take this seriously,” he says.

Tips for surfing the Web silently

(Also see “When you absolutely must remain anonymous,” on page 2.)

Block “third-party” cookies

The publisher of the site you visit isn’t the only organization that knows about your online browsing activity. Many pages have third-party widgets on them that track your computer’s online activity as you move from one site to another on the Web. They do this to sort people (or more specifically, the cookie IDs associated with each person’s computer) into groups that can be targeted with “behavioral advertising” based on interests gleaned from your Web-surfing habits.

One way to minimize your exposure to this kind of marketing and data collection activity is to turn on third-party cookie blocking in your browser. Safari enables this feature by default, while Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and other popular browsers offer it as an option. If you prefer not to have your browsing activity tracked for behavioral advertising purposes, you should also turn on the “Do Not Track” option found on all popular browsers. This feature sends a “DNT” signal from your browser to Web publishers when you visit their sites.

Go private with your browsing

If you want to minimize your data footprint at home or in the office, or wherever others have physical access to your computer, consider using a secure browser such as WhiteHat Aviator, Dell’s Kace Secure Browser and Comodo Dragon. Alternately, you can use the secure browsing mode in Chrome, Firefox, Safari or IE. This will block third-party cookies, delete first-party cookies at the end of a browsing session and leave no trace of your browsing history and search history on your computer.

“Blocking cookies and clearing them regularly stops most cross-site tracking,” says Brookman.

Be aware, however, that some sites, such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, offer single sign-on for all services. So when you sign onto your Gmail account, for example, all of your information — user name, password, webmail, images uploaded, etc. — persists on the provider’s servers.

In addition, your search activity can be tied back to your account and the search history maintained, along with your activity on all other services — unless the provider’s privacy policy precludes it or the vendor offers privacy controls you can use to prevent that information from being stored.

Bottom line: Once you log into a service, all of your activity across all related services from that provider — from webmail to searches — can be tracked back to your account. So log in only when you need to, and be sure to log out when you’re done.

Use anti-tracking software

Unfortunately, blocking third-party cookies doesn’t block the activities of all tracking scripts, and many advertisers ignore the DNT signal, so Hansen recommends installing anti-tracking browser add-ons.

“Something like Disconnect blocks ads plus third-party tracking pixels” and has the added benefit of speeding up Web page load times by removing all of that extraneous tracking activity, Hansen says. Disconnect, Abine’s DoNotTrackMe, Ghostery and other consumer-friendly anti-tracking tools don’t block everything — doing so can break things you want to use — but try to strike a balance for the best user experience. For example, Disconnect doesn’t block Google’s third-party advertising network DoubleClick when you’re using Google services. “Google is already tracking you when you log into google.com, so blocking the doubleclick.net request wouldn’t stop any tracking, and is likely to break the page,” says Casey Oppenheim, Disconnect’s co-CEO.

If that’s not good enough for you, Hansen says, “The extreme level is to use NoScript or RequestPolicy. “Flash, Java, whatever it is, [these tools] block it if it’s cross-domain. It’s uber-draconian, and it breaks just about everything, but it’s very effective,” he says.

These tools also offer greater security because they block malware that attempts to compromise your computer by way of JavaScript include or iframe injection attacks. However, it’s up to users to whitelist content that they want to get through. “You have to know what you’re doing, and it requires a big expenditure of time,” he says.

Secure your searches

Use a search engine such as DuckDuckGo or Startpage — in other words, one that doesn’t retain your search history. (The WhiteHat Aviator browser uses DuckDuckGo as its default search engine.)

Or use a proxy search service such as Disconnect Search, which sits between your browser and the popular search engines so that your search history can’t be tracked. (Ixquick, located in the Netherlands, works in the same way and also has the advantage of being out of reach of the U.S. Patriot Act and the FISA court.)

If you prefer to use a commercial search engine, you may be able to turn off search and browsing history. For example, in Google you can turn off search history from the Google Dashboard, while the Chrome browser offers Incognito mode.

Use HTTPS whenever possible

All data that passes between your browser and the Internet is unencrypted and open to snooping, unless you’ve entered an encrypted session with the service you’re communicating with on the other end. Some sites, such as your bank, will encrypt your communications using the HTTPS protocol by default, while others, such as your webmail, may not. For example, Gmail enabled HTTPS by default three years ago, but Yahoo Mail only began supporting HTTPS one year ago, and it’s not turned on by default. If you’re not sure, check first before you use the service.

You can use the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s HTTPS Everywhere browser extension to make sure you’re using HTTPS when it’s available, but some sites don’t offer HTTPS, says Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology. In that case, he says, you may want to consider using a virtual private network (VPN) service.

Sign up for a VPN service

Your IP address gives Web publishers and e-commerce sites an identifier that provides clues to your location. It allows Web publishers to deliver geo-targeted content, such as your local weather, but they can also target you in less pleasant ways. For example, some online retailers have moved to geotargeted pricing, which determines the price you see for an item based on your location and how many brick-and-mortar competitors are nearby. Depending on your location, this could be a good thing or a bad thing.

And if you’re browsing the Web using a public Wi-Fi hotspot, it’s not just your IP address you need to worry about. If your browsing session is unencrypted, all of that data — including user account names and passwords — could be snatched literally from the airwaves.

The solution in both cases is to use a virtual private network (VPN) service such as Astrill, Anonymizer, IPVanish or AnchorFree. These tools not only protect your IP address, but encrypt your communications, which are routed through the VPN service’s servers before going on to the intended destination. “People can’t eavesdrop on what you’re doing, or steal your login credentials and impersonate you,” Hall says.

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Troops under Russian command fire weapons into the air in Ukraine

Troops under Russian command fire weapons into the air in Lubimovka, Ukraine. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

 

Diplomatic pronouncements are renowned for hypocrisy and double standards. But western denunciations of Russian intervention in Crimea have reached new depths of self parody. The so far bloodless incursion is an “incredible act of aggression“, US secretary of state John Kerry declared. In the 21st century you just don’t invade countries on a “completely trumped-up pretext”, he insisted, as US allies agreed that it had been an unacceptable breach of international law, for which there will be “costs”.

That the states which launched the greatest act of unprovoked aggression in modern history on a trumped-up pretext – against Iraq, in an illegal war now estimated to have killed 500,000, along with the invasion of Afghanistan, bloody regime change in Libya, and the killing of thousands in drone attacks on Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, all without UN authorisation – should make such claims is beyond absurdity.

It’s not just that western aggression and lawless killing is on another scale entirely from anything Russia appears to have contemplated, let alone carried out – removing any credible basis for the US and its allies to rail against Russian transgressions. But the western powers have also played a central role in creating the Ukraine crisis in the first place.

The US and European powers openly sponsored the protests to oust the corrupt but elected Viktor Yanukovych government, which were triggered by controversy over an all-or-nothing EU agreement which would have excluded economic association with Russia.

In her notorious “fuck the EU” phone call leaked last month, the US official Victoria Nuland can be heard laying down the shape of a post-Yanukovych government – much of which was then turned into reality when he was overthrown after the escalation of violence a couple of weeks later.

The president had by then lost political authority, but his overnight impeachment was certainly constitutionally dubious. In his place a government of oligarchs, neoliberal Orange Revolution retreads and neofascists has been installed, one of whose first acts was to try and remove the official status of Russian, spoken by a majority in parts of the south and east, as moves were made to ban the Communist party, which won 13% of the vote at the last election.

It has been claimed that the role of fascists in the demonstrations has been exaggerated by Russian propaganda to justify Vladimir Putin’s manoeuvres in Crimea. The reality is alarming enough to need no exaggeration. Activists report that the far right made up around a third of the protesters, but they were decisive in armed confrontations with the police.

Fascist gangs now patrol the streets. But they are also in Kiev’s corridors of power. The far right Svoboda party, whose leader has denounced the “criminal activities” of “organised Jewry” and which was condemned by the European parliament for its “racist and antisemitic views”, has five ministerial posts in the new government, including deputy prime minister and prosecutor general. The leader of the even more extreme Right Sector, at the heart of the street violence, is now Ukraine’s deputy national security chief.

Neo-Nazis in office is a first in post-war Europe. But this is the unelected government now backed by the US and EU. And in a contemptuous rebuff to the ordinary Ukrainians who protested against corruption and hoped for real change, the new administration has appointed two billionaire oligarchs – one who runs his business from Switzerland – to be the new governors of the eastern cities of Donetsk and Dnepropetrovsk. Meanwhile, the IMF is preparing an eye-watering austerity plan for the tanking Ukrainian economy which can only swell poverty and unemployment.

From a longer-term perspective, the crisis in Ukraine is a product of the disastrous Versailles-style break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. As in Yugoslavia, people who were content to be a national minority in an internal administrative unit of a multinational state – Russians in Soviet Ukraine, South Ossetians in Soviet Georgia – felt very differently when those units became states for which they felt little loyalty.

In the case of Crimea, which was only transferred to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev in the 1950s, that is clearly true for the Russian majority. And contrary to undertakings given at the time, the US and its allies have since relentlessly expanded Nato up to Russia’s borders, incorporating nine former Warsaw Pact states and three former Soviet republics into what is effectively an anti-Russian military alliance in Europe. The European association agreement which provoked the Ukrainian crisis also included clauses to integrate Ukraine into the EU defence structure.

That western military expansion was first brought to a halt in 2008 when the US client state of Georgia attacked Russian forces in the contested territory of South Ossetia and was driven out. The short but bloody conflict signalled the end of George Bush’s unipolar world in which the US empire would enforce its will without challenge on every continent.

Given that background, it is hardly surprising that Russia has acted to stop the more strategically sensitive and neuralgic Ukraine falling decisively into the western camp, especially given that Russia’s only major warm-water naval base is in Crimea.

Clearly, Putin’s justifications for intervention – “humanitarian” protection for Russians and an appeal by the deposed president – are legally and politically flaky, even if nothing like on the scale of “weapons of mass destruction”. Nor does Putin’s conservative nationalism or oligarchic regime have much wider international appeal.

But Russia’s role as a limited counterweight to unilateral western power certainly does. And in a world where the US, Britain, France and their allies have turned international lawlessness with a moral veneer into a permanent routine, others are bound to try the same game.

Fortunately, the only shots fired by Russian forces at this point have been into the air. But the dangers of escalating foreign intervention are obvious. What is needed instead is a negotiated settlement for Ukraine, including a broad-based government in Kiev shorn of fascists; a federal constitution that guarantees regional autonomy; economic support that doesn’t pauperise the majority; and a chance for people in Crimea to choose their own future. Anything else risks spreading the conflict.

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“Your true wealth is your time and freedom. Money is just a tool for trading your time. It’s a container to store your economic energy until you are ready to deploy it. But the whole world has been turned away from real money, and has been fooled into using currency – a deceitful imposter that is silently stealing your two most valuable assets – your time, and your freedom.
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New Ooga Booga No Longer Effective … So Government Switches Back to Tried-And-True Old-Timey Ooga-Booga

Preface: I’m not siding with Putin on the Ukrainian dispute. I don’t like Communism.  I was born in the U.S. and have lived here all of my life.  I hate Stalin with a passion – a man who killed countless protesters, and sent numerous others away to insane asylums – and have railed against the “useful idiots” who naively supported the Soviets. I also think that Putin is a corrupt kleptocrat.  I’m just pointing out that the U.S. Government is completely overreacting and fear-mongering. This is taking place on the other side of the world, and doesn’t effect America’s national security (although we may have heavily invested in the outcome).

Fear of terrorists made the American public afraid, gullible and easy to manipulate for more than a decade.

But now – despite the best efforts of the military-industrial complex to  intentionally whip up an exaggerated hysteria of Islamic terrorists –  Americans are starting to wake up from our fear-induced haze:

Indeed, Americans are realizing that we’re more likely to be killed by lightning, toddlers, brain-eating parasites or bad government policy than terrorism.

So how can the poor lads in the military industrial complex keep the gravy train going?

The evil Russians!  That worked last time … it’ll work again!

All they have to do is re-demonize the Russians.  How long can it take to scrub the images of the peaceful Olympics – and Putin’s prevention of war against Syria – out of people’s minds, and re-instill the fear of the old Red Menace?

After all, in the 1970s, Cheney and Rummy generated fake intelligence exaggerating the Soviet threat in order to undermine coexistence between the U.S. and Soviet Union, which conveniently justified huge amounts of cold war spending.  And see this. That worked like a charm!

Surely, a few misrepresentations about Putin’s intention to start the next world war and take over the world will scare the daylights out of the American people!

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