Political Thread [13] - CLOSED


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Message 234064 - Posted: 20 Jan 2006, 3:53:35 UTC
Last modified: 20 Jan 2006, 3:58:07 UTC

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Message 234087 - Posted: 20 Jan 2006, 5:29:11 UTC

Phone-record sellers facing renewed scrutiny
Web sites say they aren't breaking law


By Peter Svensson
ASSOCIATED PRESS

January 19, 2006

The Internet has taken something old – a tool for monitoring cheating spouses or conniving business associates – and made it new again.

The business of buying and selling private phone-calling records is suddenly under considerable scrutiny.

Phone companies and federal lawmakers are demanding that it be halted. The Federal Communications Commission is launching an investigation.

Last week, at least 40 Web sites were offering cell-phone numbers, unlisted numbers and calling records. For about $110, they would sell you a month's worth of cell-phone calling records for any number, no questions asked.

Such records have been bought and sold for decades, prized by private investigators, lawyers and people in less-legitimate professions.

Case in point: In 1998, the Los Angeles Police Department had a serious security problem. Suspected mobsters obtained home phone numbers and addresses of detectives. In an apparent attempt at intimidation, one mobster showed up at a police officer's home while he was at work, gave his name to the officer's wife and walked away.

The LAPD eventually determined that the officers' personal data came from a Denver company, Touch Tone Information Inc., that used a technique known as "pretexting." Touch Tone workers would call phone companies and records holders pretending to be regulators, customers or employees and get them to divulge account information.

The case stirred outrage. The Federal Trade Commission forced Touch Tone out of business, and its owner, James Rapp, spent a few months in jail. Robert Pitofsky, chairman of the FTC at the time, said, "This case should send a strong message to information brokers that the FTC will pursue firms that use false pretenses to profit at the expense of consumers' privacy."

Pretexting is again in the spotlight. According to reports this month, the Chicago Police Department has warned its officers that their cell-phone records are available online. Illinois' attorney general subsequently subpoenaed Locatecell.com, a Web site that sells such records.

Locatecell.com, which is run by a company called 1st Source Information Specialist, wasn't reachable by phone to explain its methods and didn't respond to an e-mail message seeking comment.

But industry insiders say companies such as Locatecell.com obtain their information from a relatively small group of professional "pretexters."

The pretexters buttress their believability by buying such data as Social Security numbers from online database companies. Often a name, address and the last four digits of a person's Social Security number are all that's needed to obtain calling records.

Another route is to buy the information from insiders such as phone-company employees.

So why didn't the Touch Tone case put such businesses out of business?

For one, the FTC went after Touch Tone not for snooping on the private lives of police officers, but for pretexting financial information from banks.

"Our primary focus there was on financial, because that's really where the most direct harm is," Joel Winston, associate director of the FTC's division of privacy and identity protection, said in an interview. "If I'm pretexting a bank and getting your bank-account records, I can drain your account.

"With phone records . . . generally it doesn't lead to any specific economic harm. It's a different kind of harm," Winston said, adding that it "raises significant privacy concerns."

The Web sites that sell phone records these days claim they aren't doing anything illegal in obtaining them. They claim that no specific prohibition exists against posing as someone else to obtain private information as long as the data aren't financial. (After the Touch Tone case, Congress passed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which specifically made financial pretexting illegal.)

In the absence of criminal prosecution, cell-phone carriers have turned to civil litigation, with some success.

In September, Verizon Wireless secured a permanent injunction against a company in Tennessee that was selling its records. Most recently, Cingular Wireless on Friday received a restraining order against the current and previous owners of Locatecell.com.

The carriers, however, say they can't do it alone.

"We need the assistance of the law enforcement community here," said Joe Farren, spokesman for CTIA-The Wireless Association, which represents the wireless-phone industry.

That help may finally be arriving. Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; Arlen Specter, R-Pa.; and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., introduced a bill yesterday that would make it illegal to pose as someone else when calling a phone company, or for an employee to sell customer data.

In the meantime, customers can put up a minor roadblock for pretexters by asking their phone company to set a personal identification number code for their account instead of using their Social Security number.

Robert Douglas of Steamboat Springs, Colo., a former private investigator who has testified on Capitol Hill about pretexting, says that isn't a very good defense, and that customer-service representatives can often be browbeaten into giving up personal information even if it's protected by a PIN and password.

Neither will it help, of course, if an employee is on the take.

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Message 234115 - Posted: 20 Jan 2006, 9:28:16 UTC


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Message 234133 - Posted: 20 Jan 2006, 11:39:24 UTC


BBC, Friday, 20 January 2006, 08:31 GMT
Indonesia's E Timor abuses listed

A report into Indonesia's conduct during its 24-year annexation of East Timor says that as many as 180,000 civilians died of hunger or illness.

It documents abuses committed by Indonesian security forces, including the use of starvation as a weapon.

A copy of the document has been leaked to The Australian newspaper, which has published extensive details.

The 2,500-page report, produced by the East Timorese Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, makes profoundly disturbing reading, according to the BBC's Jakarta correspondent, Rachel Harvey.

Based on testimony from thousands of witnesses, the report documents a catalogue of abuses committed by Indonesian security forces.

Starvation, rape, torture and execution-style killings were all used as part of what the report describes as a "systematic plan".

"Rape, sexual slavery and sexual violence were tools used as part of the campaign designed to inflict a deep experience of terror, powerlessness and hopelessness upon pro-independence supporters," the report says, according to The Australian.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4630122.stm

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Message 234183 - Posted: 20 Jan 2006, 14:22:22 UTC

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Message 234184 - Posted: 20 Jan 2006, 14:25:54 UTC

A livable city or a chocolate city

LEONARD PITTS JR.
THE MIAMI HERALD

January 20, 2006

"God bless Chocolate City and its vanilla suburbs." – Parliament

Apparently, the mayor is a funkateer.

That's what you call fans of Parliament, the '70s-era funk band famed for hits like "Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)," "Flash Light" and "Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop)." Parliament also recorded "Chocolate City," leader George Clinton's whimsical take on growing black political clout as reflected in the election of black mayors in such towns as Newark, N.J., Gary, Ind., Los Angeles and Washington.

"They still call it the White House," crowed Clinton, "but that's a temporary condition, too." He went on to prophesize a truly funky administration: President Muhammad Ali, "Minister of Education" Richard Pryor and First Lady Aretha Franklin.

I cannot verify it from firsthand experience, but it was always said that in order to really "get" Parliament, it helped to be under the influence of drugs. One wonders if New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin didn't take that too much to heart after a speech Monday in which he said God wants his wounded town to remain a "chocolate city."

"This city will be a majority African-American city," said Nagin, who is black. "It's the way God wants it to be. You can't have New Orleans no other way."

Monday, incidentally, was Martin Luther King Day.

There must have been something in the water that day inducing Democrats to say asinine things. Nagin, apparently channeling his inner Pat Robertson, also suggested that Hurricane Katrina was a sign God was hacked off at the Big Easy. Then there's Hillary Clinton's speech comparing the GOP-led House of Representatives to a plantation. Unless they've been raping members of Congress in the cloakroom or whipping them in the rotunda, the comparison is – putting it mildly – a stretch.

It's the Chocolate City remark that most rankles, though, because it's the one that speaks to the future of a major metropolis.

Nagin has said he simply meant to assure a black audience that the unique black culture and heritage of New Orleans will be respected and protected in the rebuilding process. Unfortunately, what he said was closer to this: whites need not apply.

It took him a day to apologize for that crude bigotry, and that was only after trotting out one of the more bizarre clarifications in recent memory: "How do you make chocolate?" he asked a reporter. "You take dark chocolate, you mix it with white milk and it becomes a delicious drink."

And if you buy that, I've got a used levee to sell you.

No, it seems apparent that the mayor's focus is too narrow, too impinged upon by simplistic paradigms of race, too small for the challenges of an historic moment.

Culturally if not demographically speaking, New Orleans was never chocolate milk. It was gumbo – black, but also French but also German but also Spanish but also West Indian but also Italian.

But also poor.

Which is the bottom-line reality. It was a city where the schools were a scandal, where the cops were a threat, where the crime rate was high and where the children learned early to go without.

So in this tragedy, there is opportunity – not simply to rebuild, but to improve, to innovate, to inspire ... to start over.

The question is: Do the architects of the new New Orleans have the vision and the will to seize that chance? Or will they squander it in the name of racial politics? Nagin seems troublingly intent on the latter.

Yes, race and culture have a role to play in spicing a city, making it unique. Irish Boston and Cuban Miami are obvious examples. But race and ethnicity are icing. The cake is a city that works, and that does so for all its people.

Point being, it's fine to wish for a Chocolate City. But I think most of us would settle for a livable one.

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Message 234187 - Posted: 20 Jan 2006, 14:34:31 UTC

I won't get into political discussions anymore where only democans and republicrats are consideredd. That's the thing that's gotten the US where it's at. ;)
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Message 234231 - Posted: 20 Jan 2006, 16:01:54 UTC - in response to Message 234187.
Last modified: 20 Jan 2006, 16:02:57 UTC

I won't get into political discussions anymore where only democans and republicrats are consideredd. That's the thing that's gotten the US where it's at. ;)


Good idea, take the liberal/ true conservatives from the Republican Party and the moderate/conservatve Democrats and form a new middle of the road Moderate Party. That would shake things up.
Leave the extremists of both parties in the dust and to fend for themselves.

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Message 234685 - Posted: 21 Jan 2006, 2:58:57 UTC

Chirac sees nuclear option against terror

Washington Post

January 20, 2006

PARIS – President Jacques Chirac said yesterday that France was prepared to launch a nuclear strike against any country that sponsors a terrorist attack against French interests. He said his country's nuclear arsenal had been reconfigured to include the ability to make a tactical strike in retaliation for terrorism.

"The leaders of states who would use terrorist means against us, as well as those who would envision using . . . weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and fitting response on our part," Chirac said during a visit to a nuclear submarine base in Brittany.

"This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind," he said.

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Message 234787 - Posted: 21 Jan 2006, 7:56:46 UTC


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Message 234789 - Posted: 21 Jan 2006, 8:11:32 UTC - in response to Message 234787.

Google fights feds' demand for search info

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Message 234825 - Posted: 21 Jan 2006, 12:09:08 UTC - in response to Message 234685.

Chirac sees nuclear option against terror

Washington Post

January 20, 2006

PARIS – President Jacques Chirac said yesterday that France was prepared to launch a nuclear strike against any country that sponsors a terrorist attack against French interests. He said his country's nuclear arsenal had been reconfigured to include the ability to make a tactical strike in retaliation for terrorism.

"The leaders of states who would use terrorist means against us, as well as those who would envision using . . . weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and fitting response on our part," Chirac said during a visit to a nuclear submarine base in Brittany.

"This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind," he said.


A rather odd stance for Chirac to take, when one considers how he responded to the U.S. response to the WTC & Pentagon terrorist attacks. So, now, if he was in President Bush's place, he would have nuked 'em. Fascinating.

Regards, Daniel.

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Message 235112 - Posted: 21 Jan 2006, 19:39:13 UTC - in response to Message 234789.

Google right to fight search-engine subpoena

UNION-TRIBUNE EDITORIAL

January 21, 2006

At a time when even many of President Bush's allies struggle to defend his minimalist approach to civil liberties, one wouldn't expect the Bush administration to go on the greatest fishing expedition in history. Yet that's just what it has done – and not in service of the war on terrorism but in a desperate attempt to revive a 1998 law restricting offensive Internet content that was blocked with the Supreme Court's blessing.

Last summer, the Justice Department served subpoenas on Google, America Online, Yahoo and MSN (Microsoft's online network) demanding details on literally billions of uses of their Internet search engines. Officials hoped to use the information to establish the pervasiveness of material harmful to minors and persuade a federal appeals court to drop the injunction against the Child Online Protection Act.

But Google refused to cooperate, with ample justification. Even if the names of users were removed from the information provided to the government, there would be many clues to their identities. What's more, since when is it acceptable for the government to use its coercive law-enforcement powers to compel a company to aid in a research project? This is inexcusable government overreaching of epic proportions.

We agree with what Richard M. Smith, a Boston software engineer and data-privacy expert, told The Washington Post: "The real issue here is, is Google being deputized to spy on us? In this case, you could maybe argue that the spying is not that bad, because very little of it is personally identifiable, but what will the next case be? It's a terrible precedent."

Good for Google for refusing to be deputized and challenging the federal subpoena in court. We shouldn't have to count on the judicial system to protect us from our own Justice Department, but apparently we must.

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Message 235136 - Posted: 21 Jan 2006, 19:56:07 UTC
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Message 235336 - Posted: 22 Jan 2006, 0:02:55 UTC

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Message 235364 - Posted: 22 Jan 2006, 1:02:40 UTC - in response to Message 234825.

[quote
A rather odd stance for Chirac to take, when one considers how he responded to the U.S. response to the WTC & Pentagon terrorist attacks. So, now, if he was in President Bush's place, he would have nuked 'em. Fascinating.

Regards, Daniel.
[/quote]

Ah, but France never opposed the US response to the WTC & Pentagon terrorist attacks. On the contrary; the whole of Europe strongly supported the action against Afghanistan.

What France, along with many other countries, opposed was the unlawful invasion of Iraq on false pretenses and without proper procedure and (most importantly) preparation. This invasion had nothing to do with 9/11; Bush has known this all along, regardless of the propaganda his administration have inundated the world with. By now even ordinary americans SHOULD know the truth. There's no longer any excuse for believing the lies, as they have been exposed many times over. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 and had no WMD. He was just yet another sadistic dictator like to many others.

However, if the Chirac quote is accurate, his sense of proportion is in serious doubt. There's no such thing as a surgical strike, most especially when nuclear weapons are involved...
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Message 235390 - Posted: 22 Jan 2006, 1:35:12 UTC

........why isn't our wingnuts learning?
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Message 235537 - Posted: 22 Jan 2006, 6:11:16 UTC - in response to Message 235390.

........why isn't our wingnuts learning?

Funny that you should ask that particular question...
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Message 235559 - Posted: 22 Jan 2006, 7:03:38 UTC - in response to Message 235364.

Ah, but France never opposed the US response to the WTC & Pentagon terrorist attacks. On the contrary; the whole of Europe strongly supported the action against Afghanistan.

What France, along with many other countries, opposed was the unlawful invasion of Iraq on false pretenses and without proper procedure and (most importantly) preparation. This invasion had nothing to do with 9/11; Bush has known this all along, regardless of the propaganda his administration have inundated the world with. By now even ordinary americans SHOULD know the truth. There's no longer any excuse for believing the lies, as they have been exposed many times over. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 and had no WMD. He was just yet another sadistic dictator like to many others.

However, if the Chirac quote is accurate, his sense of proportion is in serious doubt. There's no such thing as a surgical strike, most especially when nuclear weapons are involved...


The present U.S. action in Iraq wasn't an unlawful invasion, it wasn't based on false pretenses, and though Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11, he did support terrorism. And that is the truth that Americans SHOULD know, but for the incessant propaganda spewed by the liberal media.

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Message 235575 - Posted: 22 Jan 2006, 7:24:22 UTC - in response to Message 235559.

And that is the truth that Americans SHOULD know, but for the incessant propaganda spewed by the liberal media.

You meant to say "the incessant propaganda spewed liberally by the media", right?

Look: For the last four years all I've heard has been the same hawk and dove rhetoric from everywhere. Not just in the States but from everywhere (With the exceptions of S. Korea, Iran, Cuba, and any country that blocks internet-based radio).

What I have yet to hear is a progress report. Is the ICRC back in Iraq? Has MSF been able to reestablish in Afghanistan? Is the UN instilling goodwill and civic responsibility?

Bush's and Chirac's days are numbered. Merkel, too. Wars drag on. And what nobody seems to be able to do is answer "Now what?".

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