Obama’s Economic Miracle? | Apr 2016

Intel Lays Off 12,000 People After They Lobbied FOR MORE FOREIGN H1-B WORKERS –

– ProgressivesToday.com


“12,000 people are now out of work after their employer, tech giant Intel, lobbied for more foreign workers to come into the U.S.

What are these newly unemployed people supposed to do now?

The Daily Caller reports:

Intel Lays Off 12,000 People After Lobbying For More Foreign Workers

One of the top users of foreign workers imported via the H-1B visa program announced Tuesday it’s laying off about ten percent of its global workforce.

Tech giant Intel is laying off some 12,000 workers, although it’s one of the country’s 15 largest users of H-1Bs, which are temporary visas that allow companies to hire foreign workers for American tech jobs. The big-time layoffs come even as the company has called for hikes in the number of foreign workers it is able to hire using H-1B visas.

The chip-making giant said the mass firings are part of a “restructuring initiative” that will further its shift away from the PC business toward smart devices and cloud-based computing.

But the firings stand out in light of Intel’s lobbying to expand the H-1B visa program. In 2013, the company’s government affairs managers complained that Intel simply can’t find enough homegrown workers in technical fields to meet its needs. And in 2014, the company called for allowing the spouses and children of H-1B recipients to automatically qualify for work in the U.S. as well.

Our leaders just keep giving it all away.

And yet some people continue to wonder why Trump is so popular.”

…Continue reading @ www.progressivestoday.com


Silicon Valley in Meltdown as Intel Slashes 12,000 Jobs

– Breitbart


“The meltdown of Silicon Valley tech jobs accelerated Tuesday, as Intel announced 12,000 job cuts worldwide and a plan to dump product lines, despite reporting higher profits.

Intel Corporation (INTC: NASDAQ) reported that first quarter net income rose 2.7 percent to $2.05 billion, and sales climbed 7.2 percent to $13.7 billion. The earnings were 14 percent higher than expected, and the sales were in line with expectations.

But during what was anticipated to be an upbeat earnings call, new President Murthy Renduchintala, brought in from Qualcomm in late November, announced he was presenting a plan to CEO Brian Krzanich to slash employment by 11 percent and give CFO Stacy Smith direct control of manufacturing, sales, and operations.

Krzanich immediately followed up with an email to employees stating, “These are not changes I take lightly. We are saying goodbye to colleagues who have played an important role in Intel’s success.”

Although Intel expects to take about a $1.2 billion restructuring write-off for the layoffs this quarter, the move will save $750 million in expenses this year and generate estimated annual savings of $1.4 billion by the middle of 2017, according to SiliconValley.com.

Breitbart News predicts Intel is restructuring its Client Computing Group to exit stand-alone central processing units (CPUs) for personal computers (PCs) and fully embrace its disruptive 3D XPoint memory technology, which combines huge storage-class memory and a processor into a single device. The compact high-bandwidth package will eliminate the need for standalone dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips.

Intel believes that PCs will all but disappear because 3D XPoint smartphones will pack more than enough computing power and energy efficiency for 90 percent of users’ tasks.

Microsoft has developed cloud-based “Continuum” so display and input can seamlessly flow across a variety of devices. The coming Windows-based “Phone Computer” may be an existential threat to Apple’s iPhone business and student user loyalty.

Breitbart News has been reporting a string of mass layoffs hitting Silicon Valley technology companies since the first of the year. With growth slowing, big private equity player Morgan Stanley marked down the value of its private equity stakes in tech by 32 percent on Feb. 26.

According to Wall Street analyst Chris Martenson, Silicon Valley is about to suffer a wave of mass layoffs that could be “worse today than back in 2008/9.”

…Continue reading the noteworthy article by Chriss W. Street @Breitbart


UC Berkeley Touts $15 Minimum Wage Law, Then Fires Hundreds Of Workers After It Passes

– Investor’s Business Daily


“Labor Markets: Hundreds of employees at the University of California at Berkeley are getting schooled in basic economics, as the $15 minimum wage just cost them their jobs. Too bad liberal elites “fighting for $15” don’t get it.

A week after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the state’s $15 minimum wage boost into law, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks sent a memo to employees announcing that 500 jobs were getting cut.

Coincidence? Not really.

Last year, University of California President Janet Napolitano announced plans to boost its minimum wage to $15 at the start of next school year, independent of the state law. Since UC Berkeley was already in financial trouble — it ran a $109 million deficit last year and is projecting a deficit of $150 million this year — number crunchers there had to have factored in the higher mandated wage when making their layoff decisions.

Those workers might want to have a chat with the folks at UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research, who just days before Brown signed the wage-hike bill released a study touting the minimum wage as a boon to low-income household breadwinners.

After that report came out, Ken Jacobs, chairman of the UC Berkeley center, told the Los Angeles Times, “This is a very big deal for low-wage workers in California, for their families and for their children.”

It is a big deal, as well, to those soon to be out of work UC Berkeley workers.

But why is anyone surprised about jobs cuts following a wage hike? It’s one of the most basic laws of economics. Any high school kid taking Econ 101 can explain it:  If you raise the price of something, demand goes down.”

….Continue reading @ Investor’s Business Daily


Pink Slips at Disney. But First, Training Foreign Replacements

– New York Times


ORLANDO, Fla. — The employees who kept the data systems humming in the vast Walt Disney fantasy fief did not suspect trouble when they were suddenly summoned to meetings with their boss.

While families rode the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and searched for Nemo on clamobiles in the theme parks, these workers monitored computers in industrial buildings nearby, making sure millions of Walt Disney World ticket sales, store purchases and hotel reservations went through without a hitch. Some were performing so well that they thought they had been called in for bonuses.

Instead, about 250 Disney employees were told in late October that they would be laid off. Many of their jobs were transferred to immigrants on temporary visas for highly skilled technical workers, who were brought in by an outsourcing firm based in India. Over the next three months, some Disney employees were required to train their replacements to do the jobs they had lost.”

…Continue reading @ NY Times


Retailer Bankruptcies Are Hailing Down on the US Economy

– MarketExpress


“Another retailer is heading for bankruptcy. This time Aeropostale, with 800 teen-clothing stores, after three years in a row of losses. It’s “preparing to reorganize under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and could file as soon as this month, according to people familiar with the matter,” Bloomberg reported today.

Upon Bloomberg’s propitious report, Aeropostale shares plunged 28% to 15 cents. It has been a penny stock since last September. The New York Stock Exchange, which had threatened the company with delisting, removed the stock before 2 p.m. today, and trading of the shares has been suspended.


Aeropostale is trying to work out a loan to finance its operations during the bankruptcy process, according to the people. A deal to avert a filing or find a buyer also could still emerge, they said.

Which is what just about all collapsing retailers are valiantly trying to do. And often to no avail.

In March, Aeropostale had already announced that it would “evaluate strategic alternatives.” It hired Stifel Financial Corp. to work on a sale or restructuring. According to Bloomberg, it’s also working with law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP and FTI Consulting, “people familiar with the matter said last week.”

As in so many cases, there is a private equity angle. PE firm Sycamore Partners owns a large state in Aeropostale and is its main lender. But they have been embroiled in a feud. Sycamore also owns Aeropostale’s key clothing supplier, MGF.

In 2013, when Sycamore acquired its stake in Aeropostale and lent if $150 million, it obtained two seats on the board and set up the supply deal with MGF. Bloomberg:

At the time, Sycamore was seen as possible savior for the troubled chain. Some investors expected the investment firm to eventually acquire the rest of Aeropostale, helping redeem a stock that has been declining since 2010.

But that didn’t work out. These hopeful investors lost their shirts. Sycamore’s two directors left Aeropostale’s board. In March, Aeropostale said that MGF has stopped delivering merchandise in violation of the terms of its agreement, leaving the retailer short on merchandise. MGF, as Bloomberg put it, said “it was merely seeking protection from Aeropostale.”

There are numerous other 1990s and 2000s brands that didn’t quite make the transition in the relentlessly tough US retail environment of squeezed consumers, fickle and picky teens, smart women, shoppo-phobic men, inscrutable millennials, and a brutal shift to online sales.

And now their bankruptcies are hailing down on the US economy with increasing intensity. Here are a few standouts in 2016 and 2015. Note the PE firms behind many of them:

April 16, 2016: Vestis Retail Group, the operator of sporting goods retailersEastern Mountain Sports (camping, hiking, skiing, adventure sports),Bob’s Stores (family clothing and shoes), and Sport Chalet (general sporting goods), filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It will close all 56 stores and stop online sales.

In the filing, it blamed the going-out-of-business sales at “certain Sports Authority locations,” plus the weather, which had been too warm, and trouble with switching to a new software platform. It’s owned by private equity firm Versa Capital Management LLC.

April 7, 2016: Pacific Sunwear of California, clothing retailer with nearly 600 stores and derailed ambitions of skate-and-surf cool, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. PE firm Golden Gate Capital, a lender to the company, agreed to convert over 65% of its loan into equity of the reorganized company and add another $20 million in financing. Wells Fargo agreed to provide $100 million of debtor-in-possession financing.

March 2, 2016: Sports Authority filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It said it would close 140 of its 450 stores, including all stores in Texas. In 2006, it had been taken over in a leveraged buyout by a group of PE firms led by Leonard Green & Partners [Another Private-Equity LBO Queen Bites the Dust].

February 2, 2016: Hancock Fabrics filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, for the second time. It closed 70 of its retail sewing and crafting stores. Its inventories are being liquidated with going-out-of-business sales at the remaining 185 stores.

January 16, 2015: Wet Seal, teen fashion retailer, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

October 2015: American Apparel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, after years of all sorts of sordid turmoil – and losses since 2009.”

…Continue reading @ MarketExpress


U.S. Jobless Claims Fall To Lowest Level Since 1973


“An important measure of layoffs hit its lowest mark since the Nixon administration, a sign of increasing momentum in the labor market and a possible hint at the extent of job growth for the full month of July.”

…Read more on the rosy outlook @ Wall Street Journal




Federal Courts vs US Society & Culture

An Incessant Battle Occurs on a Daily Basis between the Federal Judiciary and the People of the United States Today

– Where does it end?


Federal Court Orders School to Allow Girl to Use Boys’ Restroom in Virginia

– Breitbart – Apr 19 2016


“A Federal Circuit court ruled today that a local Virginia school board violated the law by not allowing a girl to use the boys’ restroom.

If the convoluted decision survives, according to the judge who opposed the two-to-one decision, schools “could never meaningfully provide separate restrooms and locker rooms on the basis of sex … [and] privacy concerns would be left unaddressed.” The decision is “illogical and unworkable,” Judge Paul Niemeyer said.

In G.G. v. Gloucester Country School Board, the 2-1 court determined that the school board discriminated “on the basis of sex” in violation of Title IX.

Roughly one in every 330 Americans change their name from one sex to the other sex.

Title IX explicitly bans discrimination based on sex, but the Department of Education told the school district last year that discrimination based on the new idea of “gender identity” is the same as discrimination based on biological sex.

Specifically, the policy was imposed via an agency letter — not a regulation — in which officials say, “When a school elects to separate or treat students differently on the basis of sex … a school generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.”

The entire case hinged completely on this letter from agency officials, even though the notion of gender identity was not known to the congressional drafters of Title IX back in the 1970s.

G.G. is a young girl who announced not long ago that she is a boy and had always felt like a boy. Her parents allowed this to proceed, and the School District allowed her use a private bathroom that was also open to all other students. The girl said this caused her anxiety and she demanded use of the boys’ restroom.

The school administration relented, but parents at the school revolted and took the issue to the school board. The board determined said the girl would be required to use either the girl’s restroom or the private restroom which they had provided for her, an accommodation allowed by Title IX.

She took her case to court and lost, then appealed to the Fourth Circuit, and today she won.

The majority, led by Judge Henry Floyd, an Obama appointment, bought completely into the whole transgender ideology. He called her a “transgender boy,” and referred to her “birth-assigned sex” and her “so-called ‘biological sex.’”

“Birth-assigned sex” is one of the main arguments of the trans-ideology — that science is trumped by desire, that no one is biologically male or female, and that people can create our own “gender identity.” Some advocates of this new creationism even argue that sex should be left blank at birth so each child may more easily create their own gender identity.”

…Continue reading @ Breitbart

– If gender identity is fluid, Title IX ceases to have any meaning. /CJ

– The entire ruling is available here in PDF Format



Federal Judge Says Recording Police Not Protected By The First Amendment

– Techdirt


**** This photo is no longer available  **

“Over the years, the nation’s courts have moved towards recognizing First Amendment protections for citizens who film public servants carrying out public duties. Nearly every case has involved a citizen arrested for filming police officers, suggesting far too many law enforcement entities still feel their public actions deserve some sort of secrecy — even as these agencies deploy broader and more powerful surveillance tools aimed at the same public areas where no expectation of privacy (under the Fourth Amendment) exists.”

…Continue reading @ TechDirt


 “In cases like these, we really try to avoid making Constitutional decisions if we can, because we give great deference to State’s rights and law in this Republic,” Ezra said. “Judges shouldn’t be setting aside laws passed by a state legislature and signed by a Governor based on an ideological whim by the judge.”

                      – Federal District Judge David Alan Ezra




Federal Judge Blocks Texas Immigrant-Harboring Law



“AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – A federal judge has blocked a portion of Texas’ sweeping border security law that had criminalized harboring people in the country illegally.

Non-profit groups, churches and even some landlords opposed parts of the larger law approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature last year. They made it a crime in Texas to encourage or help someone cross the border – or remain in the country – illegally.

In January, Hispanic advocacy groups sued, arguing that it was unconstitutional to criminalize providing shelter or aid.

On Thursday, San Antonio-based U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra issued a preliminary injunction, ruling that the law potentially violated federal statutes that would supersede it.

He found that the groups suing were likely to prevail, and temporarily blocked enforcing the law as the case proceeds.”

…See more @ KLIF – Austin



Hawaiian Judge Coming to Alamo City

– MySanAntonio

san anton

“Not many people would leave an office with a prime view of Honolulu’s harbor for a windowless office in San Antonio, but Senior U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra is doing just that.

Ezra, 65, is moving here to help the San Antonio-headquartered Western District of Texas, whose current judges are swamped largely with immigration and drug cases on top of a busy civil caseload.

Ezra grew up in Hawaii and graduated from St. Louis High School there. He then attended Chaminade College and the University of Hawaii before coming to San Antonio in the 1960s and graduating magna cum laude from St. Mary’s with a business administration degree and first in his class from St. Mary’s School of Law.

He then entered the Army, became an officer and returned to Hawaii after his military service.”

…Continue reading @ MySanAntonio

– Interesting there are zero comments on this story. /CJ



Federal Judge Says Texas Can’t Outlaw Harboring Illegal Aliens

– Breitbart


“A federal district judge in San Antonio has issued an order stopping a Texas law criminalizing the harboring of illegal aliens, at least for now. The judge issued the preliminary injunction in MALDEF’s (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) lawsuit challenging Texas House Bill 11, a law which open border advocates are fighting because they say it improperly targets illegal alien shelters and those who rent to illegal aliens.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are David Cruz of San Antonio and Valentin Reyes of Farmers Branch, Texas, and Jonathan Ryan. Cruz and Reyes are both landlords who do not check whether their tenants are legally in the country. Jonathan Ryan is the Executive Director of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).

The federal complaint states that “In his role as Executive Director of RAICES, Plaintiff Ryan provides shelter to immigrant women and children who are not authorized to be present in the U.S. and lack lawful immigration status. Many of the immigrant women and children sheltered by Plaintiff Ryan are asylum-seekers from East Africa and Central America who entered the U.S. without authorization and are in federal removal proceedings.”

The plaintiffs brought the lawsuit on January 24 and sued Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety Steven C. McCraw, and members of the Texas Public Safety Commission.

The bi-partisan bill, signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott on June 9, 2015, gives power to the Texas Department of Public Safety, relates to military and law enforcement training, and the investigation, prosecution, punishment, and prevention of these offenses, it increases a criminal penalty, and authorizes fees.

The harboring provisions are part of a $800 million border security effort by the Texas Governor and the Texas legislature.”

…Continue reading @ Breitbart

– Comments section is very interesting. /CJ




– Hawaii’sMostWanted

“He’s one of the most well known and visible figures in Hawaii. Turn on the TV or radio, open a local newspaper, and chances are you’ll see his name– just not in the “Seen around Town” society columns or “People in the News” segment. Outside his office, he tries his best to blend in and go about life with his family; catch a movie, enjoy the evening at a nice restaurant. The nature of his job demands a high level of public anonymity. And while he’ll probably never open his home to “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” he gladly invites you for a private tour of his workplace.

His workplace is fairly large by Hawaii standards. With an office down the hall, he’s much like any company foreman. But he doesn’t manufacture widgets. He oversees Justice.

As a Chief Judge for the Hawaii District of the U.S. Court’s Ninth District, David Alan Ezra must insulate himself from much of the goings on in the community. He’s careful about what functions he attends, who he meets with, and where he is seen. Anything considered remotely political is strictly off limits. He takes his position seriously and ardently strives for an image of judicial neutrality. Some may deem this social posture as aloof, withdrawn. But to Hawaii’s Chief Federal jurist, it’s necessary.

“Federal Judges may not everengage in any political activity, may not make any campaign contributions nor attend campaign functions,” said Ezra. “There are a good many socialfunctions that I’m invited to attend but unable to do so because of my position.”

 “In cases like these, we really try to avoid making Constitutional decisions if we can, because we give great deference to State’s rights and law in this Republic,” Ezra said. “Judges shouldn’t be setting aside laws passed by a state legislature and signed by a

More on Maldef here @ Maldef News Releases



l Hate the Media weighs in here….


Read the comments @ IHatetheMedia.com



The Kalb Report – Amazing Ruth Bader Ginsberg & Antonin Scalia Interview

– Youtube



Tom Jobim & Gal Costa Once Upon a Time in LA | Apr 2016

Once Upon a Time Rio Visited Southern California…….

– Youtube

– Superb. Gal Costa sings accompanied by Antonio Carlos Jobim on piano. Priceless.

…More here @ Youtube

Hillary Fundraises in a Whole New Way | Apr 2016

Hillary Showered with Money in Hollywood

– Youtube

– Actually Studio City, but close enough for givers.



Hillary Clinton Raises Huge Sums at Homes of George Clooney, Jeffrey Katzenberg

– Variety

hillary money

“Hillary Clinton raised money for her campaign and Democratic party committees from an array of Hollywood figures at the homes of George Clooney and Jeffrey Katzenberg on Saturday, in what was expected to be her most successful evening of showbiz fundraising so far in the 2016 presidential race.

Clinton attended a fundraising dinner on Saturday evening at the Studio City home of Clooney and his wife Amal, with Ellen DeGeneres, Jane Fonda, Anna Wintour and Jim Parsons among the attendees. The event was widely publicized, as the campaign held a contest to win tickets to the fete.

About 150 people attended the events, with tickets priced at $33,400 per person. Co-hosts contributed $50,000, and event co-chairs contributed $353,000. Money went to the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint committee for the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state party committees. The money is split between the entities — donors are limited to a maximum of $2,700 per person to the Clinton campaign and $33,400 per person to the DNC. Other funds went to state parties.

This weekend, campaign of her rival for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, bought time to run an ad spot, called “$27,” on Los Angeles stations to contrast the average contribution to Sanders’ campaign to that of some of the high-dollar events that Clinton has held.

Clooney himself agreed with Sanders’ criticism of the high dollar amounts being raised. In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that will air on Sunday, he noted that when he pulled up to a fundraising event he also was co-hosting on Friday night in San Francisco, there were Sanders protesters present and “they’re right to protest.”

“They’re absolutely right,” he told Chuck Todd. “It is an obscene amount of money. The Sanders campaign when they talk about it is absolutely right. It’s ridiculous that we should have this kind of money in politics. I agree completely.”

…Continue reading @ Variety






MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid Horrified By Sanders Supporters “Throwing Dollar Bills” At Hillary “As If In A Strip Club”

– Real Clear Politics

hillary money2

“JOY ANN REID: Bernie Sanders supporters throwing dollar bills at the motorcade of Hillary Clinton as she was going to the George Clooney fund-raiser. We’re going to roll that video in a second. Just the idea of that, and people went on twitter afterwards. You can see the video there. People throwing dollar bills as if in a strip club.

This coming on the heels of a Bernie Sanders surrogate having to apologize for using the term “democratic [corporate] whores” at the Washington Square Park rally.

That visual there, of throwing dollar bills at a woman as she’s going by in her motorcade, has the Democratic race gone over the edge?”

…Continue reading @ Real Clear Politics


Facebook’s Zuckerberg Slams Trump | Apr 2016

Zuckerberg Lectures Trump About Walls Returns Home to Walled Off Compound

– theGatewaypundit

Zuck's wall - UK mail

“Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg lashed out at Donald Trump last week at the annual developers conference over his proposed border wall paid by Mexico.

Zuckerberg (said) he heard “fearful voices calling for building walls” and halting immigration.”

…Continue reading  @ thegatewaypundit.com





‘Parks And Recreation,’ Facebook and The New Privacy

– CIO / Opinion


“If you tuned into Parks And Recreation Tuesday night, you were treated to an episode where social media startup Gryzzl attempts to win over the hearts and minds of its  new neighbors in the fictional town of Pawnee with boxes full of gifts, delivered via Amazon-esque drones.

The problem was that the gifts were perfect — too perfect. Gryzzl had been data mining every interaction the residents of Pawnee were having online and custom-tailoring their gifts to suit their exact interests. This didn’t go over so well, even as Gryzzl retorts that it did nothing that wasn’t perfectly legal. And besides, wasn’t everybody happy with the result?

The episode culminates in a speech given on a public access court show, where character Ben Wyatt (played by Adam Scott) delivers a short argument on how Gryzzl may not be breaking the law, but it obviously knows it’s not doing something good or else it would have been more forthright about the whole data mining thing.

“A person should not have to have an advanced law degree to avoid being taken advantage of by a multibillion dollar company. You should be upfront about what you’re doing and allow people the ability to opt out,” Wyatt proposes.

Don’t worry, Computerworld hasn’t become a TV review site (follow me on Twitter for my TV opinions). Nor am I suggesting that the world look to Tuesday night television for policy advice (though you could do worse than Parks And Recreation, which has won a bunch of Emmys — and how many Emmys has FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler won, huh).

But the cast and crew of Parks And Recreation hit on an important idea — not a new idea, necessarily, but one that’s reverberating around the web and that needs to be formally addressed.

We already know that privacy is the new killer app, and that events like last year’s iCloud hack and the Target data breach are turning security from a nice-to-have to a major competitive differentiator.

There’s another shift happening, too: Facebook, it is generally accepted, will never stop data mining the heck out of its users, because it makes a lot of money, and companies that make a lot of money tend to like the idea of continuing to make a lot of money. Users, who like the benefits and connections that Facebook brings to their lives, aren’t going anywhere, no matter how exploitative the means. The same goes for Google and basically any other “free” service on the Internet. Or look at Uber, which got into trouble recently for being straight-up creepy and pretty threatening towards women thanks to all the data it scrapes — but that same data is a valuable source for civic planners. It’s a give-and-take.

 Creepiness is just a fact of life for people living the plugged-in lifestyle circa 2015.

Which is where Parks And Recreation comes in. What people want, more than ever, isn’t necessarily for Google to stop being creepy; people like personal data-mining services like Google Now, which can tell you when you have to leave the restaurant to catch a delayed flight without requiring your intervention at all.

No, what people want instead now is visibility — the insight to know what data, exactly,  is being scraped, and the option to opt out. The choice of what to make public and what to keep private is paramount. Call it the new privacy if you have to call it anything at all.”

…Continue reading the insightful opinion piece by Matt Weinberger @ CIO.com



No Surprise: CIA Reportedly Funds Companies That Can Spy On You Via Twitter, Facebook And Instagram

– Tech Times


“The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is reportedly funding companies that spy on Twitter and Instagram feeds to monitor any signs of “unusual activity.”

Through its venture capital firm, In-Q-Tel (IQT), the CIA has made investments in “social media mining and surveillance” companies previously undisclosed. These include PATHAR, TransVoyant, Databricks, Dataminr, and Geofeedia.

The information was obtained from a document released by The Intercept, detailing the schedule of a recent “CEO Summit” of 28 IQT portfolio companies concluded in February. From the itinerary, the standout companies provided “unique tools to mine data from platforms such as Twitter.”


PATHAR has a product called “Dunami” that monitors social media sites for “networks of association, centers of influence and potential signs of radicalization.” These social media sites include, but are not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


TransVoyant offers procedures that analyze multiple data points to determine potential “decision-makers” who could organize “gang incidents” and situations threatening to the press. The tech company recently worked with the U.S. military to utilize satellite, radar, and drone surveillance data.



Dataminr has automated learning machines that mark trends in streams from Twitter by cross-referencing data gathered from other unusual clusters. These processes “directly license” Twitter data streams, for clients such as police departments, to “visualize” any sign of purported tendencies.


Geofeedia employs geotagging technology to monitor real-time movements, such as Greenpeace mobilizations, student protests, minimum wage rallies and other political activities. The data is utilized by corporations, including McDonald’s and the Mall of America, and law enforcement agencies in Detroit, Oakland, and Chicago, among other police departments.

A Violation of Privacy Rights?

Senior staff attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union, Lee Rowland, believes such surveillance tactics employed by the CIA and other government bodies, along with private sectors, may infringe upon the public’s rights due to unwarranted suspicion.

“The courts have rightly recognized that when millions of bits of data are aggregated into a dossier about your behavior, that is no longer properly public and violates privacy rights,” said Rowland.

“When you have private companies deciding which algorithms get you a so-called threat score, or make you a person of interest, there’s obviously room for targeting people based on viewpoints or even unlawfully targeting people based on race or religion,” Rowland explained.”

…Read more  @ techtimes.com



Facebook facing serious ‘sharing’ decline?

– San Jose Mercury News


“Facebook is working to combat a decline in people sharing original, personal content, the fuel that helps power the money machine at the heart of its social network, according to people familiar with the matter.

Overall sharing has remained “strong,” according to Facebook. However, people have been less willing to post updates about their lives as their lists of friends grow, the people said.
Instead, Facebook’s 1.6 billion users are posting more news and information from other websites. As Facebook ages, users may have more than a decade’s worth of acquaintances added as friends.
People may not always feel comfortable checking into a local bar or sharing an anecdote from their lives, knowing these updates may not be relevant to all their connections.
According to one of the people familiar with the situation, Facebook employees working on the problem have a term for this decline in intimacy: “context collapse.”
Personal sharing has shifted to smaller audiences on Snapchat, Facebook’s Instagram and other messaging services.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has spoken at Facebook staff meetings this year about the need to inspire personal sharing, the people said. Facebook has tried several tactics to encourage more of these posts, such as an “On This Day” feature launched last year that brings up memories from past years that users might want to talk about again, or reminders about special occasions like Mother’s Day.

Facebook has also prompted users to post the most recent photos and other recently accessed content from their phones.

Original sharing of personal stories — rather than posts about public information like news articles — dropped 21 percent year over year as of mid-2015, The Information, a tech news site, reported Wednesday. Facebook said in a statement that “the overall level of sharing has remained not only strong, but similar to levels in prior years.”

…Continue reading the article by Sarah Frier of Bloomberg News @ San Jose Mercury News








Rafael Cruz Has Some Explaining To Do | Apr 2016

Cuban Peers Dispute Ted Cruz’s Father’s Story of Fighting for Castro

– New York Times


“MATANZAS, Cuba — Since he was a boy, Senator Ted Cruz has said, all he wanted to do was “fight for liberty” — a yearning that he says was first kindled when he heard his father’s tales of fighting as a rebel leader in Cuba in the 1950s, throwing firebombs, running guns and surviving torture.

Those stories, retold by Mr. Cruz and by his father, Rafael, have hooked Republican audiences and given emotional power to the message that the Texas senator is pushing as a contender for the party’s presidential nomination. In their telling, the father’s experience in Cuba — when the country was swept up by the charismatic young Fidel Castro, only to see him become a repressive Communist dictator — becomes a parable for the son’s nightmarish vision of government overreach under President Obama.

But the family narrative that has provided such inspirational fire to Mr. Cruz’s speeches, debate performances and a recently published memoir is, his father’s Cuban contemporaries say, an embroidered one.

The elder Mr. Cruz, 76, recalls a vivid moment at a watershed 1956 battle in Santiago de Cuba, when he was with a hero of the revolution, Frank País, just hours before he was killed in combat.

In fact, Mr. País was killed seven months later and in a different place and manner.

In interviews, Rafael Cruz’s former comrades and friends disputed his description of his role in the Cuban resistance. He was a teenager who wrote on walls and marched in the streets, they said — not a rebel leader running guns or blowing up buildings.

Leonor Arestuche, 79, a student leader in the ’50s whom the Castro government later hired to verify the supposed exploits of revolutionary veterans, said a term existed for people like Mr. Cruz — “ojalateros,” or wishful thinkers. “People wishing and praying that Batista would fall,” she said, “but not doing much to act on it.”

An old neighbor remembers soldiers bloodying the 18-year-old Mr. Cruz’s face and driving off with him that summer. Mr. Cruz gives a harrowing account of soldiers beating him over three or four days, stomping on the back of his head and breaking his teeth…

The reason Mr. Cruz was arrested, however, is less clear, and he has offered different explanations. In an interview alongside his son in March, Mr. Cruz said he had sought to recruit to the revolutionary cause someone who turned out to be an informant working for Batista’s regime. The 1959 account, though, did not mention any informant; Rafael Cruz said then that the authorities were alerted to his involvement in the resistance by another man, who gave up only Mr. Cruz’s name after Batista’s forces beat it out of him and left him bleeding in the same cell as Mr. Cruz.

Mario Martínez, who Mr. Cruz confirmed was part of his small revolutionary cell, said he did not recall Mr. Cruz’s being apprehended for trying to recruit someone and said he believed that the cause of his old comrade’s detainment was possession of a revolver — one that Mr. Cruz had never used.

Mr. Martínez declined to be directly interviewed and relayed answers to questions posed by The New York Times about Mr. Cruz through Ms. Arestuche.

According to Mr. Martínez’s account, he and Mr. Cruz had belonged to the youth brigade of Mr. Castro’s 26th of July Movement in their hometown, Matanzas, but had done little besides join in protest marches. They never turned to violence, he said.

The fog of almost 60 years can cloud even the clearest of memories, and it is possible that witnesses who can back up Mr. Cruz’s account might exist and come forward. But none of the Cuban historians, former comrades of Mr. Cruz in his hometown or veterans of the Santiago battle reached by The Times could corroborate his story.

Approached in Marietta, Ohio, on Oct. 13, between wooing campaign donors and headlining a Republican dinner, Mr. Cruz was unable to provide the name of any participant from the Santiago assault. “I mean, we were scattered,” he said, adding, “I was with one other guy at a little coffee place or something like that, and I don’t remember his name.”

…Continue reading @ www.nytimes.com

More Washington DC Failure | Apr 2016

IRS Admits It Encourages Illegals To Steal Social Security Numbers For Taxes

– Forbes


“This isn’t exactly the kind of story the IRS wants buzzing around at tax time. The IRS and Justice Department normally want ‘scared straight’ stories just before Tax Day. Ideally, when an indictment or conviction for tax evasion hits the news, it makes you think twice. Somehow, you think just a bit more about all those deductions, or if you really reported all your income, before you sign your return under penalties of perjury.

Instead, we have the top dog at the IRS, the IRS Commissioner himself, admitting that, well, there’s a problem with illegal immigrants and taxes. In fact, the top IRS official this time wasn’t talking about how the IRS wipes some hard drives or can’t find emails. He wasn’t even asking for a bigger budget to give bonuses to IRS employees.

This time, he was talking about illegal immigrants, and about the IRS turning a blind eye. Or maybe worse. The IRS actually wants illegal immigrants to illegally use Social Security numbers, he suggested. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen made the surprising statement in response to a question from Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., at a Senate Finance Committee meeting. The question was a touchy one. Gee, is the IRS collaborating with taxpayers who file tax returns using fraudulent information? It wasn’t put exactly that way. According to Senator Coats:

What we learned is that … the IRS continues to process tax returns with false W-2 information and issue refunds as if they were routine tax returns, and say that’s not really our job. We also learned the IRS ignores notifications from the Social Security Administration that a name does not match a Social Security number, and you use your own system to determine whether a number is valid.”

Commissioner Koskinen was asked to explain this. He suggested that as long as the information is being used only to fraudulently obtain jobs, the IRS was OK with it. In fact, he said that the IRS actually had an interest in helping the illegal immigrants to crook these rules. In fairness, perhaps it’s just the ‘that’s not my department’ response that abounds in big government. Perhaps this just isn’t the IRS’s problem, but it sure seems odd to have any agency chief encouraging illegal immigrant theft of SSNs.”

…Continue reading the article @ Forbes by Robert Wood

– Very few comments in the comments section.  /CJ



IRS says ID theft from Get Transcript service worse than thought

– SecurityInfoWatch.com


“About 685,000 taxpayers will be getting letters from the Internal Revenue Service this week warning that hackers may have stolen their tax information.

After a nine-month investigation, the IRS concluded recently that 390,000 taxpayer accounts may have been accessed, and another 295,000 were targeted, but not accessed.

The IRS said hackers used Social Security numbers found elsewhere to get into the Get Transcript service, which was designed to make it easy for filers to get tax returns from previous years. With information from previous returns, hackers presumably could prepare a phony new return in an individual’s name and seek a refund.

The service was discontinued in May 2015 when it was first discovered that 225,000 taxpayer documents may have been hacked. Since then, the investigation has turned up more potential victims. In all, more than 1.2 million tax filers were targeted by ID thieves. An IRS spokesman could not identify the number of Illinois residents targeted.

Get Transcript allowed taxpayers to immediately download and view tax information or have it mailed to them. Since the launch of the service in January 2014, about 47 million transcripts have been ordered, according to the IRS.”

…Continue reading @ www.securityinfowatch.com/