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By John W. Whitehead


“As more and more data flows from your body and brain to the smart machines via the biometric sensors, it will become easy for corporations and government agencies to know you, manipulate you, and make decisions on your behalf. Even more importantly, they could decipher the deep mechanisms of all bodies and brains, and thereby gain the power to engineer life. If we want to prevent a small elite from monopolising such godlike powers, and if we want to prevent humankind from splitting into biological castes, the key question is: who owns the data? Does the data about my DNA, my brain and my life belong to me, to the government, to a corporation, or to the human collective?”―Professor Yuval Noah Harari


Uncle Sam wants you.


Correction: Uncle Sam wants your DNA.


Actually, if the government gets its hands on your DNA, they as good as have you in their clutches.


         



      

Get ready, folks, because the government— helped along by Congress (which adopted legislation allowing police to collect and test DNA immediately following arrests), President Trump (who signed the Rapid DNA Act into law), the courts (which have ruled that police can routinely take DNA samples from people who are arrested but not yet convicted of a crime), and local police agencies (which are chomping at the bit to acquire this new crime-fighting gadget)—is embarking on a diabolical campaign to create a nation of suspects predicated on a massive national DNA database.


As the New York Times reports:


The science-fiction future, in which police can swiftly identify robbers and murderers from discarded soda cans and cigarette butts, has arrived. In 2017, President Trump signed into law the Rapid DNA Act, which, starting this year, will enable approved police booking stations in several states to connect their Rapid DNA machines to Codis, the national DNA database. Genetic fingerprinting is set to become as routine as the old-fashioned kind.


Referred to as “magic boxes,” these Rapid DNA machines—portable, about the size of a desktop printer, highly unregulated, far from foolproof, and so fast that they can produce DNA profiles in less than two hours—allow police to go on fishing expeditions for any hint of possible misconduct using DNA samples.


Journalist Heather Murphy explains:


As police agencies build out their local DNA databases, they are collecting DNA not only from people who have been charged with major crimes but also, increasingly, from people who are merely deemed suspicious, permanently linking their genetic identities to criminal databases.


Suspect Society, meet the American police state.


Every dystopian sci-fi film we’ve ever seen is suddenly converging into this present moment in a dangerous trifecta between science, technology and a government that wants to be all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful.


By tapping into your phone lines and cell phone communications, the government knows what you say.


By uploading all of your emails, opening your mail, and reading your Facebook posts and text messages, the government knows what you write.


By monitoring your movements with the use of license plate readers, surveillance cameras and other tracking devices, the government knows where you go.


By churning through all of the detritus of your life—what you read, where you go, what you say—the government can predict what you will do.


By mapping the synapses in your brain, scientists—and in turn, the government—will soon know what you remember.


And by accessing your DNA, the government will soon know everything else about you that they don’t already know: your family chart, your ancestry, what you look like, your health history, your inclination to follow orders or chart your own course, etc.


Of course, none of these technologies are foolproof.


Nor are they immune from tampering, hacking or user bias.


Nevertheless, they have become a convenient tool in the hands of government agents to render null and void the Constitution’s requirements of privacy and its prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures.


Consequently, no longer are we “innocent until proven guilty” in the face of DNA evidence that places us at the scene of a crime, behavior sensing technology that interprets our body temperature and facial tics as suspicious, and government surveillance devices that cross-check our biometrics, license plates and DNA against a growing database of unsolved crimes and potential criminals.


The government’s questionable acquisition and use of DNA to identify individuals and “solve” crimes has come under particular scrutiny in recent years.


Until recently, the government was required to at least observe some basic restrictions on when, where and how it could access someone’s DNA. That has all been turned on its head by various U.S. Supreme Court rulings that pave the way for suspicionless searches and herald the loss of privacy on a cellular level.


Certainly, it was difficult enough trying to protect our privacy in the wake of a 2013 Supreme Court ruling in Maryland v. King that likened DNA collection to photographing and fingerprinting suspects when they are booked, thereby allowing the government to take DNA samples from people merely “arrested” in connection with “serious” crimes.


Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in Maryland v. King is worth reading not only for the history lesson on the Fourth Amendment but for its clear-sighted rebuke of the police state’s tendency to justify every encroachment on our freedoms as necessary for security.


As Scalia noted:


Solving unsolved crimes is a noble objective, but it occupies a lower place in the American pantheon of noble objectives than the protection of our people from suspicionless law-enforcement searches… Make no mistake about it: As an entirely predictable consequence of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national DNA database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason. Today’s judgment will, to be sure, have the beneficial effect of solving more crimes; then again, so would the taking of DNA samples from anyone who flies on an airplane (surely the Transportation Security Administration needs to know the “identity” of the flying public), applies for a driver’s license, or attends a public school. Perhaps the construction of such a genetic panopticon is wise. But I doubt that the proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection.


The Court’s decision to let stand the Maryland Court of Appeals’ ruling in Raynor v. Maryland, which essentially determined that individuals do not have a right to privacy when it comes to their DNA, made Americans even more vulnerable to the government accessing, analyzing and storing their DNA without their knowledge or permission.


Although Glenn Raynor, a suspected rapist, willingly agreed to be questioned by police, he refused to provide them with a DNA sample.


No problem. Police simply swabbed the chair in which Raynor had been sitting and took what he refused to voluntarily provide.


Raynor’s DNA was a match, and the suspect became a convict.


As the dissenting opinion in Raynor for the Maryland Court of Appeals rightly warned,


a person desiring to keep her DNA profile private, must conduct her public affairs in a hermetically sealed hazmat suit…. The Majority’s holding means that a person can no longer vote, participate in a jury, or obtain a driver’s license, without opening up his genetic material for state collection and codification.


Yet in refusing to hear the case, the U.S. Supreme Court gave its tacit approval for government agents to collect shed DNA, likening it to a person’s fingerprints or the color of their hair, eyes or skin.


Whereas fingerprint technology created a watershed moment for police in their ability to “crack” a case, DNA technology is now being hailed by law enforcement agencies as the magic bullet in crime solving.


It’s what police like to refer to a “modern fingerprint.”


However, unlike a fingerprint, a DNA print reveals everything about “who we are, where we come from, and who we will be.”




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With such a powerful tool at their disposal, it was inevitable that the government’s collection of DNA would become a slippery slope toward government intrusion.


All 50 states now maintain their own DNA databases, although the protocols for collection differ from state to state. Increasingly, many of the data from local databanks are being uploaded to CODIS (Combined DNA Index System), the FBI’s massive DNA database, which has become a de facto way to identify and track the American people from birth to death.


Even hospitals have gotten in on the game by taking and storing newborn babies’ DNA, often without their parents’ knowledge or consent. It’s part of the government’s mandatory genetic screening of newborns. However, in many states, the DNA is stored indefinitely.


What this means for those being born today is inclusion in a government database that contains intimate information about who they are, their ancestry, and what awaits them in the future, including their inclinations to be followers, leaders or troublemakers.


For the rest of us, it’s just a matter of time before the government gets hold of our DNA, either through mandatory programs carried out in connection with law enforcement and corporate America, by warrantlessly accessing our familial DNA shared with genealogical services such as Ancestry and 23andMe, or through the collection of our “shed” or “touch” DNA.


All of those fascinating, genealogical ancestral searches that allow you to trace your family tree can also be used against you and those you love. As law professor Elizabeth Joh explains, “When you upload your DNA, you’re potentially becoming a genetic informant on the rest of your family.”


While much of the public debate, legislative efforts and legal challenges in recent years have focused on the protocols surrounding when police can legally collect a suspect’s DNA (with or without a search warrant and whether upon arrest or conviction), the question of how to handle “shed” or “touch” DNA has largely slipped through without much debate or opposition.


Yet as scientist Leslie A. Pray notes:


We all shed DNA, leaving traces of our identity practically everywhere we go. Forensic scientists use DNA left behind on cigarette butts, phones, handles, keyboards, cups, and numerous other objects, not to mention the genetic content found in drops of bodily fluid, like blood and semen. In fact, the garbage you leave for curbside pickup is a potential gold mine of this sort of material. All of this shed or so-called abandoned DNA is free for the taking by local police investigators hoping to crack unsolvable cases. Or, if the future scenario depicted at the beginning of this article is any indication, shed DNA is also free for inclusion in a secret universal DNA databank.


What this means is that if you have the misfortune to leave your DNA traces anywhere a crime has been committed, you’ve already got a file somewhere in some state or federal database—albeit it may be a file without a name.


As Forensic magazine reports,


As officers have become more aware of touch DNA’s potential, they are using it more and more. Unfortunately, some [police] have not been selective enough when they process crime scenes. Instead, they have processed anything and everything at the scene, submitting 150 or more samples for analysis.


Even old samples taken from crime scenes and “cold” cases are being unearthed and mined for their DNA profiles.


Today, helped along by robotics and automation, DNA processing, analysis and reporting takes far less time and can bring forth all manner of information, right down to a person’s eye color and relatives. Incredibly, one company specializes in creating “mug shots” for police based on DNA samples from unknown “suspects” which are then compared to individuals with similar genetic profiles.


If you haven’t yet connected the dots, let me point the way.


Having already used surveillance technology to render the entire American populace potential suspects, DNA technology in the hands of government will complete our transition to a suspect society in which we are all merely waiting to be matched up with a crime.


No longer can we consider ourselves innocent until proven guilty.


Now we are all suspects in a DNA lineup until circumstances and science say otherwise.


Of course, there will be those who point to DNA’s positive uses in criminal justice, such as in those instances where it is used to absolve someone on death row of a crime he didn’t commit, and there is no denying its beneficial purposes at times.




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However, as is the case with body camera footage and every other so-called technology that is hailed as a “check” on government abuses, in order for the average person—especially one convicted of a crime—to request and get access to DNA testing, they first have to embark on a costly, uphill legal battle through red tape and, even then, they are opposed at every turn by a government bureaucracy run by prosecutors, legislatures and law enforcement.


What this amounts to is a scenario in which we have little to no defense of against charges of wrongdoing, especially when “convicted” by technology, and even less protection against the government sweeping up our DNA in much the same way it sweeps up our phone calls, emails and text messages.


Yet if there are no limits to government officials being able to access your DNA and all that it says about you, then where do you draw the line?


As technology makes it ever easier for the government to tap into our thoughts, our memories, our dreams, suddenly the landscape becomes that much more dystopian.


With the entire governmental system shifting into a pre-crime mode aimed at detecting and pursuing those who “might” commit a crime before they have an inkling, let alone an opportunity, to do so, it’s not so far-fetched to imagine a scenario in which government agents (FBI, local police, etc.) target potential criminals based on their genetic disposition to be a “troublemaker” or their relationship to past dissenters.


Equally disconcerting: if scientists can, using DNA, track salmon across hundreds of square miles of streams and rivers, how easy will it be for government agents to not only know everywhere we’ve been and how long we were at each place but collect our easily shed DNA and add it to the government’s already burgeoning database?


As always there will be those voices—well-meaning, certainly—insisting that if you want to save the next girl from being raped, abducted or killed, then we need to give the government all the tools necessary to catch these criminals before they can commit their heinous crimes.


If you care for someone, you’re particularly vulnerable to this line of reasoning. Of course we don’t want our wives butchered, our girlfriends raped, our daughters abducted and subjected to all manner of atrocities.


But what about those cases in which the technology proved to be wrong, either through human error or tampering? It happens more often than we are told.


For example, David Butler spent eight months in prison for a murder he didn’t commit after his DNA was allegedly found on the murder victim and surveillance camera footage placed him in the general area the murder took place. Conveniently, Butler’s DNA was on file after he had voluntarily submitted it during an investigation years earlier into a robbery at his mother’s home. The case seemed cut and dried to everyone but Butler who proclaimed his innocence. Except that the DNA evidence and surveillance footage was wrong: Butler was innocent.


Moreover, despite the insistence by government agents that DNA is infallible, New York Times reporter Andrew Pollack makes a clear and convincing case that DNA evidence can, in fact, be fabricated. Israeli scientists “fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva,” stated Pollack. “They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person.”


The danger, warns scientist Dan Frumkin, is that crime scenes can be engineered with fabricated DNA.


Now if you happen to be the kind of person who trusts the government implicitly and refuses to believe it would ever do anything illegal or immoral, then the prospect of government officials—police, especially—using fake DNA samples to influence the outcome of a case might seem outlandish.


Yet as history shows—and as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People—the probability of our government acting in a way that is not only illegal but immoral becomes less a question of “if” and more a question of “when.”




ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD


Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at [email protected].


Publication Guidelines / Reprint Permission


John W. Whitehead’s weekly commentaries are available for publication to newspapers and web publications at no charge. Please contact [email protected] to obtain reprint permission.



Image credit: The Anti-Media


 


   
            


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By Mong Palatino


Fiji’s Online Safety Act took effect this month amid concern that it will be used to censor the Internet.


The law was passed in May 2018 two months after the Attorney-General’s office submitted it for parliament deliberation. The government deemed it necessary to make the Internet a safe space for women and children:


The Fijian Government in its commitment to ensure access to connectivity for all Fijians, has embarked on promoting a safe online culture and environment in hindsight of the recent increase of reports on harmful online behaviour such as cyberbullying, cyber stalking, Internet trolling and exposure to offensive or harmful content, particularly in respect of children.


Fiji has an estimated 500,000 active online users.


         



      

The Fiji media was placed under state control after the military staged a coup in 2006. In 2010, the Media Industry Development Decree was passed which recognized press freedom but fears of state reprisal led to self-censorship in the media sector. Meanwhile, the growing use of social media in recent years has allowed citizens to use this platform to share their views, report alternative news, and engage public officials.


Some reports mention that if the Media Industry Development Decree dealt with mainstream press, the Online Safety Act is designed to regulate social media.


Fourteen members of the opposition voted against the Online Safety Bill which they claimed will undermine democracy.


But some supporters of the law disputed this:




Fiji Sun Online, a major news portal, published an editorial endorsing the measure:


The Online Safety Bill if passed will protect Fijians from being victimised on social media as is rampant today. It will make online users think twice before they post things online.




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Critics cited part four of the law as problematic since it can be arbitrarily used to intimidate Internet users. This particular provision considers “the posting of an electronic communication with the intention to cause harm to an individual” as an offence and is punishable by five to seven years.


Aside from the prison sentence, those found guilty of violating the law will be fined up to 20,000 FJD (9,440 US Dollars) for individual offenders.


Opponents of the law warned that ‘causing harm’ as an offence is too broad that any dissenting opinion can be interpreted as illegal content.


Jope Tarai from the University of the South Pacific noted that the proposed Online Safety Commission as stipulated under section six of the law appears to mimic and repeat the functions of the police-based Cyber Crime Unit. Aside from creating a new agency that will police Internet content, the law gives broad powers to the Online Safety Commission which “has raised concerns on its possible threat to free speech.”


The scholar also warned that despite the avowed intent to promote safety, the law could lead to the censorship of free speech:



The Act on the surface professes online ‘Safety’, while its vagueness on responsible free speech leaves the act open to being a Trojan horse for online ‘Regulation’ and censorship of dissenting voices.




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The claimed intent behind the Online Safety Act is certainly a noble one and long overdue in so far as protecting women, children and victims of irresponsible online behavior is concerned. However, the ‘danger’ narrative creatively cultivated by Fijian state officials ignored the strengths of social media.


During the parliament deliberations, a group of young people enumerated their concerns about the proposed legislation:


We are a group of individual youth concerned about the effect of this Bill on free speech in Fiji. While we appreciate the need to protect children and men and women against revenge porn or unauthorized sharing of their intimate images or videos, we are concerned that this Bill is too widely drafted, that it can be misused by those in authority to punish and prosecute those who share their views, who do not share the same political views i.e. it can be misused to prosecute political opponents, rather than serve its purpose to protect children against cyberbullying or other online abuse.


Finally, the regional media network Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) warned that the new online safety law will “muzzle” rather than protect Fiji’s citizens. PFF Polynesia co-Chair Monica Miller said:


More than half a million citizens are now affected by this law and they need to be reassured that their rights to share ideas and information won’t be compromised even further.



Top image caption and credit: An Internet gaming shop in Fiji. Photo from Flickr page of Michael Coghlan, (CC BY-SA 2.0).


Mong Palatino is an activist and two-term member of the Philippine house of representatives. Blogging since 2004 at mongster’s nest. Joined global voices in 2006.


This article was sourced from Global Voices.


   
            


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By Jason Ditz


(ANTIWAR.COM) — Despite claiming that their Sunday night airstrikes against Syria were exclusively targeting Iran’s Quds Force, Israeli airstrikes against Syria appear to have almost exclusively hit Syrian military targets, particularly the nation’s air defenses around Damascus airport.


Israeli strikes destroyed eight Syrian air defense batteries, and killed at least 11 troops in the strikes. The batteries were mostly aging Soviet designs, the sort Syria has traditionally favored for targeting incoming Israeli missiles.


The Syrian systems had some success, too, with Russia reporting that the Syrians had successfully intercepted more than 30 Israeli missiles during the attack. Conspicuously absent from the engagement, however, were the Russian S-300 systems recently provided to Syria.


         



      

A highly advanced air defense system designed to control a much longer range, the S-300s have so far not been deployed in these Israeli attacks. Analysts say that Syria’s priority is intercepting missiles, and not engaging the attacking warplanes, which is where the S-300s would clearly be a vast improvement over the older systems.


Yet as Israel continues to escalate strikes in Syria, and is clearly going after Syrian military targets no matter what they claim about Iran. This may ultimately convince Syria that they have to engage the Israeli warplanes just to achieve some deterrent from constant Israeli attacks.


By Jason Ditz / Republished with permission / ANTIWAR.COM / Report a typo


   
4

      

By MassPrivateI


Michigan became the second state in the country to roll out the world’s first digital license plate.


According to an article in The Car Connection, the state of Michigan just approved Reviver Auto’s digital license plates called the “Rplate.”


Reviver Auto boasts that a total of five states have already approved their digital license plates.


Our innovative, multi-functional digital license plate, the Rplate Pro, will be on the road in California, Florida, Arizona and Texas in 2018. (Source)



         



      

George Orwell could never have dreamed of a world where license plates became a tool for more government surveillance.


Digital license plates are a privacy nightmare for motorists.


No longer will law enforcement have to run your license plate to see if you paid your taxes and insurance, because now your license plate will display a big “X” notifying everyone that you are a violator.


Digital license plates are the epitome of Big Brother surveillance


According to an article in WIRED, Rplates will turn vehicles into rolling Big Brother billboards that display Amber Alerts and much more.


It lets you update the registration stickers on your car through an app instead of dealing with the DMV. It can display Amber Alerts. It can be used as a miniature, knee-level billboard. If someone steals the car, it can read $NDHLP! or the more serious Stolen Vehicle. It can double as your E-Z Pass, FasTrak, or whatever RFID-based device you use to pay tolls. It can track your car’s location, so you can keep tabs on your teenager.



According to Reviver Auto, motorists have to pay a $99 annual subscription fee and a monthly $8.00 LTE fee for the privilege of being surveilled.


Who does not want to pay for the privilege of having a license plate that tracks your every movement and displays government approved messages?


But that is not all digital license plates can do.


The true purpose of using digital license plates that track your whereabouts is corporate greed.


The Car Connection article warns that corporations will use digital license plates to send “targeted messaging” to other drivers.


Another feature that may raise eyebrows is targeted messaging, which is a way to display advertisements on the license plate. The plate’s numbers can be minimized to leave more room for an ad when the car is parked. It’s not clear if Michigan would allow vehicle owners to opt into or out of ads, however.


How is that for creepy?  License plates that send targeted advertising based on your location?


Make no mistake, digital license plates are nothing more than Big Brother/corporate surveillance devices.



You can read more at the MassPrivateI blog, where this article first appeared.


Image credit: EFF.org


   
5

      

By Jp Cortez


An Arizona legislator has introduced a bill this week to de-risk the state’s financial holdings with a modest allocation to physical gold and silver in the state’s reserve fund.


Introduced by Representative Mark Finchem (R-Tucson), the Arizona Sound Money Stabilization Act (HB 2500) requires that at least 10% of Arizona’s Budget Stabilization Fund be held in the monetary metals in a secure depository. The bill reads, in part:


2. Shall hold at least ten percent of the monies in the budget stabilization fund in specie, or in refined gold or silver bullion that is graded at least .999 pure, or in any combination of specie and refined gold or silver bullion that is graded at least .999 pure.


b. the specie and bullion held pursuant to subsection a of this section must be held in a level iii rated secure depository facility designed for precious metals storage and constructed with a minimum underwriters laboratory rated class two vault door. The specie and bullion must be fully insured and physically segregated from other assets held in the secure depository facility.


         



      

c. for the purposes of this section, “specie” means either:



coins having precious metal content
refined gold or silver bullion that is stamped or imprinted with its weight and purity and that is valued primarily on its metal content, not its form.

Arizona’s Budget Stabilization Fund has almost $500 million in assets.


In 2017, Rep. Finchem successfully passed the ground-breaking House Bill 2014, a measure which removed all income taxation of gold and silver at the state level.


Gold and silver do not have the default or loss of purchasing power risks that bonds carry. Most importantly, physical gold and silver held in a depository carry no counterparty risk, unlike bonds.


By holding physical gold and silver in its reserve fund, Arizona is protecting its savings against loss of purchasing power and default risk more securely than if it held bonds and other dollar denominated assets.


This measure would help the state hedge its risks of holding stocks, bonds, and short-term debt instrument with an allocation to a bedrock asset carrying no counterparty risk and proven to maintain purchasing power.


This measure comes on the heels of three sound money bills introduced in Wyoming last week. Wyoming legislators aim to allocate a small portion of Wyoming’s pension fund, reserve fund, and mineral trust fund into physical gold and silver held in a depository within the state.


Backed by the Sound Money Defense League, this measure protects Arizona’s account by insulating it with the only money proven to protect against the Federal Reserve Note’s ongoing devaluation. Furthermore, an allocation to precious metals is proven to increase overall returns over time, reduce volatility, and reduce drawdowns.


Jp Cortez is the Policy Director for the Sound Money Defense League, a non-partisan, national public policy group working to restore sound money at the state and federal level and publisher of the Sound Money Index.


   
6
Huffington Post General Discussion / Fire The Fed?
« Last post by administrator on January 22, 2019, 07:07:43 PM »

      

By Ron Paul


President Trump’s frustration with the Federal Reserve’s (minuscule) interest rate increases that he blames for the downturn in the stock market has reportedly led him to inquire if he has the authority to remove Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. Chairman Powell has stated that he would not comply with a presidential request for his resignation, meaning President Trump would have to fire Powell if Trump was serious about removing him.


The law creating the Federal Reserve gives the president power to remove members of the Federal Reserve Board — including the chairman — “for cause.” The law is silent on what does, and does not, constitute a justifiable cause for removal. So, President Trump may be able to fire Powell for not tailoring monetary policy to the president’s liking.


By firing Powell, President Trump would once and for all dispel the myth that the Federal Reserve is free from political interference. All modern presidents have tried to influence the Federal Reserve’s policies. Is Trump’s threatening to fire Powell worse than President Lyndon Johnson shoving a Fed chairman against a wall after the Federal Reserve increased interest rates? Or worse than President Carter “promoting” an uncooperative Fed chairman to Treasury secretary?


         



      

Yet, until President Trump began attacking the Fed on Twitter, the only individuals expressing concerns about political interference with the Federal Reserve in recent years were those claiming the Audit the Fed bill politicizes monetary policy. The truth is that the audit bill, which was recently reintroduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and will soon be reintroduced in the Senate by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), does not in any way expand Congress’ authority over the Fed. The bill simply authorizes the General Accountability Office to perform a full audit of the Fed’s conduct of monetary policy, including the Fed’s dealings with Wall Street and foreign central banks and governments.


Many Audit the Fed supporters have no desire to give Congress or the president authority over any aspect of monetary policy, including the ability to set interest rates. Interest rates are the price of money. Like all prices, interest rates should be set by the market, not by central planners. It is amazing that even many economists who generally support free markets and oppose central planning support allowing a government-created central bank to influence something as fundamental as the price of money.


Those who claim that auditing the Fed will jeopardize the economy are implicitly saying that the current system is flawed. After all, how stable can a system be if it is threatened by transparency?




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Auditing the Fed is supported by nearly 75 percent of Americans. In Congress, the bill has been supported not just by conservatives and libertarians, but by progressives in Congress like Dennis Kucinich, Bernie Sanders, and Peter DeFazio. President Trump championed auditing the Federal Reserve during his 2016 campaign. But, despite his recent criticism of the Fed, he has not promoted the legislation since his election.


As the US economy falls into another Federal Reserve-caused economic downturn, support for auditing the Fed will grow among Americans of all political ideologies. Congress and the president can and must come together to tear down the wall of secrecy around the central bank. Auditing the Fed is the first step in changing the monetary policy that has created a debt-and-bubble-based economy; facilitated the rise of the welfare-warfare state; and burdened Americans with a hidden, constantly increasing, and regressive inflation tax.


Copyright © 2019 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given. Please donate to the Ron Paul Institute


   
            


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7
Huffington Post General Discussion / How $137 Billion Strangely Disappears
« Last post by administrator on January 22, 2019, 05:51:52 PM »

      

By Veronique de Rugy


In fiscal year 2018, $137 billion was paid “improperly” by the federal government, according to a recent report. That number sums all the improper payments by what the government calls high-priority programs. They are programs with improper-payments estimates exceeding $2 billion annually.


If it makes your head spin, it should.


Always the optimist, I have tried hard to find some good news in this year’s number. I have been tracking such improper payments for a while, and I am happy to report that, while they grew dramatically between their FY2013 level ($106 billion) and FY2015 ($137 billion), they haven’t gone up since.


Now that’s where the good news stops, I am afraid. In 2015, the $137 billion was spread over 15 programs. The $137 billion in improper payments in 2018 is spread over 12 programs. In other words, each program’s improper payments have grown.


Now, not all of these improper payments are the result of fraudulent activities. Some of them, which include overpayments as well as underpayments, might result from clerical error, from an innocent failure to confirm that a recipient is eligible to receive the amount of money that is disbursed, or from any violation of federal guidelines or rules.


         



      

While that may not sound as bad, these are still large-scale mistakes, errors that Uncle Sam continues making year after year in all impunity.


Interestingly, although not surprisingly, most of the government’s “high-error programs” are social welfare programs, which are fairly well-known for having low administrative costs in part because of poor oversight. The highest dollar amount of improper payments comes from Medicaid. The program registered $36.2 billion in improper payments, or almost 10 percent of the $370 billion paid out to beneficiaries in 2018 in total. Second-highest is Medicare’s fee-for-service program, with improper payments totaling $31.8 billion (or 8.12 percent of that program’s total payments). If you add the $15.6 billion in improper payments under Medicare Advantage (Part C) to the other two health care programs, you get 60 percent of all improper payments on the list.


Traditionally, the highest rate of improper payments comes from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program. Not this time. In 2018, the distinction goes to the Veterans Health Administration VA Community Care Program, with an error rate of 105 percent! Basically, all of this program’s $8 billion in payments were improper. The tremendous level in this program’s improper payments (and the program wasn’t on the list of high-error programs before) isn’t the result of a sudden increase in payments going to the wrong parties, or paid in the wrong amounts, or paid twice or more for the same service. Instead, it seems to be the result of changes made in what the VHA is counting as improper payments —  for instance, all the “transactions that did not follow acquisition regulations.” Nevertheless, such a stupendous error rate should make us wonder what’s going on.




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The EITC is hardly off the hook, though. The $18.4 billion in improper EITC payments represents a substantial portion — 25.06 percent — of the EITC’s total 2018 spending of $73.6 billion. That’s right. A full quarter of the program’s payments were improper.


This high error rate is not new. In fact, the EITC is well-known for its high error rate. Ironically, the program is administered by the Internal Revenue Service, a government agency that isn’t known for its leniency toward taxpayers making reporting mistakes. Unfortunately, this fact has had no impact whatsoever on the unconditional support and praise the program receives from both the political left and right. In fact, not only has EITC funding expanded, from $65 billion in FY2015 to its current level, but this program is on everyone’s wish list for yet further expansion. Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute and I do not share this wish; indeed, we have written that the EITC should be terminated.


Also on the improper-payments list are programs with very low rates of error but massive dollar amounts of improper disbursements. One such program is Social Security’s Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (RSDI). While its improper-payment rate is only 0.68 percent, that’s still some $6.2 billion of payments gone wrong. This low rate is easily explained by the large overall amount of benefit payments made by this agency ($910 billion in 2018). However, just because a program has a low reported rate of error doesn’t mean that taxpayers shouldn’t be displeased.


Now, if I were the one measuring improper payments by government, I would include all payments made as a result of expansions in people’s eligibility to receive money from government programs. Many such programs distribute taxpayer funds to people under questionable — and in some cases, highly objectionable — circumstances. I am thinking here of programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Social Security Disability program. Then, I would add in all the programs that have no place being funded at the federal level or with taxpayers’ dollars (corporate welfare, transportation, and education spending come to mind). Some of these programs are both inappropriately funded at the federal level and have expanded beyond the original intent of the program because of very questionable changes to eligibility standards. Needless to say, my list would be much bigger!




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But while we can debate the merits of whether government should be involved in certain activities (like extending loans to small businesses or for green energy), policy makers at least should agree not to tolerate the high levels of improper payments currently made by many existing programs. The difficulty is that the government has grown so big that no one is accountable for improper payments. With a government so large, it is delusional to believe that there is any form of meaningful oversight going on, especially when no one seems to care at all. The best evidence for my gloomy conclusion is provided by this report, which lays out the numbers in ways easy to understand but will have no noticeable impact.


Year after year, I complain. And year after year, high rates of improper payments occur.



Sign up here to be notified of new articles from Veronique de Rugy and AIER.


AIER Senior Fellow Veronique de Rugy is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and a nationally syndicated columnist. Her primary research interests include the US economy, the federal budget, homeland security, taxation, tax competition, and financial privacy.


This article was sourced from AIER.org


   
            


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8

      

By Press For Truth


This weekend the world should have learned a valuable lesson when it comes to how we consume and share information. A viral video showing what appeared to be a confrontation between a native elder and a Catholic teen caused countless media outlets to report on the incident as an act of aggression and racism on part of the teenager without doing any due diligence into the case to find all sides of the story.


As it turns out other videos show that the native elder was in fact the instigator and the one who provoked the situation. In this video Dan Dicks of Press For Truth goes over some of the now discredited MSM news stories that perpetuated fake news while also outlining the importance of doing research and due diligence on stories that you want to share.


         



      


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9

      

By B.N. Frank


An op-ed by former FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, was published in The New York Times: “If 5G Is So Important, Why Isn’t It Secure?”


This is bizarre as Tom has always loved 5G – despite the fact that research has also proven that it’s harmful to health and the environment. So his new-found concern about its installation is ironic.  Don’t ya think?



         



      

Doesn’t this 2016 video makes it seem like Tom has always worked for for Big Telecom – even when he was FCC chair?


Americans should be able to refuse 5G in their communities.  Tom just provided another reason why it’s more trouble than it’s worth.








For more information, visit the following websites:



Wireless Information Network
Americans for Responsible Technology
5GExposed
5G Information
Center For Safer Wireless
Center For Electrosmog Prevention
Citizens for Safe Technology
Electricsense
EMF Safety Network
Environmental Health Trust
In Power Movement
Last Tree Laws
My Street, My Choice
Our Town Our Choice
Parents for Safe Technology
Physicians for Safe Technology
SaferEMR
Scientists for Wired Tech
TelecomPowerGrab
We Are The Evidence
WhatIs5G

   
10

      

By Vic Bishop


Forget the arms race for a moment and consider what technology companies are doing to participate in the emerging space economy. From space tours to the implementation of 5G satellites, the final frontier for capitalism is outer space. So, naturally, tech companies are finding new ways to make space-related services valuable to the earth economy, and one of these schemes is selling ad space in the sky.


Can you imagine looking up in the night sky to see a McDonald’s ad floating in light amongst the stars?


A Russian marketing company is supposedly working on the development of networkable, illuminating satellite arrays that could coordinate in the upper atmosphere to create words and logos in the sky.


         



      

The plan, as demonstrated in a StartRocket video (above), is to use the satellites to light up different messages for up to six minutes at a time, with the constellation located between 250 and 310 miles above Earth. The video shows the satellites getting into formation to spell out the word “Hello.” Next up is an upside-down McDonald’s logo floating through the night sky, and then a message from KFC tempting us with its greasy goodies. [Source]



Whether or not this company is a joke and this story is really just a marketing game remains to be seen, but nevertheless, we do have the technology to do this, and at some point in the future it will happen. Therefore, it’s important to call out the mindset that would strive for and actually unleash something like this onto the psyches of everyone below. Here’s a few choice quotes from the company’s website, starting with a choice one by Andy Warhol..





The dream


Andy Warhol said: “The most beautiful thing in Tokyo is McDonald’s. The most beautiful thing in Stockholm is McDonald’s. The most beautiful thing in Florence is McDonald’s. Peking and Moscow don’t have anything beautiful yet.


Space has to be beautiful. With the best brands our sky will amaze us every night.


No ugly place there after this. [Source]






 



Here’s the alleged timeline for this project. Of articular note is the ‘seeking funding’ stage, which is really what stuff like this is all about: people having to come up with ever more clever ideas to make money in a culture driven by debt-based fiat currency and the ideals of success and happiness being inextricably linked to making money.





May 2018 — Start


June – August 2018 — Working out the technical solution. Contract with Skoltech.


October 2018 — Testing the technical solution of display on stratospheric balloons with Skoltech. Patenting process. Search for sponsors of the first launch.


January 2019 — Roadshow for anchor investors. Building engineer and managing teams. Developing MVP and the formation control system.







Here’s a marketing video for the scheme.



Final Thoughts


So, what do you think of the idea of seeing the night sky polluted with tons of ads and propaganda? What effect do you think this would have on the human psyche, which looks to the heavens for solace, escape and inspiration?


Read more articles by Vic Bishop.


Vic Bishop is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com. He is an observer of people, animals, nature, and he loves to ponder the connection and relationship between them all. A believer in always striving to becoming self-sufficient and free from the matrix, please track him down on Facebook.


This article (Space Billboards are Coming to a Night Sky Near You) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Vic Bishop and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio and internal links. 


   
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