Sleazy surveillance firm selling your Facebook, Twitter data to police departments

❝ Business isn’t good at a Chicago tech company that was outed last month for its practice of buying social media data and re-selling it to police.

Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that Geofeedia had been given access to data by Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, which Geofeedia used to build software products for police that the ACLU called “surveillance tools.” Facebook and Instagram took cut off Geofeedia’s access in September, and Twitter blocked access after reviewing the ACLU report in October.

❝ Losing access to those social media data feeds seems to have had a big impact on Geofeedia’s business. A Geofeedia spokesperson today told the Chicago Tribune that it laid off 31 employees out of about 60 total…

Nice to see a company lose out because their opportunist corruption of civil liberties is turned out.

❝ The company…claimed more than 500 customers, including police agencies in Chicago, Denver, Seattle, and Baltimore. Denver police paid $30,000 for a one-year subscription. In a funding request, a Denver police lieutenant said the service would be used to monitor large public events, like Denver’s annual marijuana rally and Martin Luther King Day march.

I hope there aren’t too many fools out there thinking this invasion of privacy and civil liberties is going to retreat anytime soon. Not so incidentally, how about inquiring if your city has been sending these scumbags a monthly check?

Dumb crook of the day – and his helpful child

A four-year-old U.S. boy who announced to his teacher at school snack time that he wanted to share pulled nine bags of marijuana out of his jacket pocket…Police in Meriden, Connecticut were called to Hanover Elementary School Tuesday afternoon after the young special needs student displayed the drugs, authorities said.

Meriden police said the nine individually wrapped bags of marijuana appeared prepared for sale…

“What’s so disheartening is this is really an adult issue and problem and adult behavior put a student at risk,” Meriden schools superintendent Mark Benigni told Reuters.

This student had no idea what he brought to school or what the substance was,” he added.

Authorities are not releasing the names of the student or parents and police said there is a possibility for arrests pending the outcome of the investigation.

The coppers should smack daddy on the wrist for being extra dumb about hiding his retail stash. Unless he was more than extra dumb and just wanted his kiddie to build up his business with free samples?

Trying to break even on corruption, lies, a political boondoggle

Available: Mountain property. Convenient to nowhere. Accessible via deteriorating roads. Features one mountain containing a 5-mile U-shaped tunnel, going nowhere. Use the railroad tracks in the tunnel at your own risk. On-site buildings do not meet OSHA standards. Must be willing to deal with three government landlords. Property encumbered by lawsuits galore.

That, in essence, is a description of Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

For 30 years, the mountain was the presumed site of the nation’s nuclear waste repository. Billions were spent studying and preparing the mountain to receive used fuel from the nation’s 103 commercial nuclear power plants.

But after the Obama administration killed plans for the nuclear dump — and here is some of why it was killed — Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, asked the Government Accountability Office to look for other uses for the 230-square-mile site a two-hour drive from Las Vegas.

On Monday, the GAO released a list of 30 alternative uses for Yucca Mountain…

— A commercial energy park for nuclear, solar and wind power generation.
— A command center for unmanned aerial vehicles.
— A training site for first responders.
— A secure data storage site.
— A strategic petroleum reserve for the western part of the country.
— A facility for research on highly infectious diseases.
— A university to teach mining techniques…

Any agency with an interest in Yucca will find one other obstacle: getting into the facility. When the government shut down the site, it closed access and shut down utilities and a system used to ventilate radon gas. GAO investigators decided to forgo a visit to the mountain after learning that reopening the tunnel for a day would cost $20,000 to $50,000.

The Department of Energy development of this project could serve as an historic example of the inherent corruption of political management of national tasks in the United States. Decades of stealing from taxpayers, ignoring safety concerns, lying about studies, distorting and forging scientific studies to suit politicians and greedy developers. I don’t think they left anything out.

For sale: Three-bed house, mod cons, skeleton in bsmnt

An estate agent in Sweden is offering a house with the remains of a medieval resident included in the price.

The property, built in 1750 in Visby, on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland, has a tomb and skeleton in the cellar.

The starting price for the three-bedroomed house, where the skeleton is visible through glass in the cellar, is 4.1m Kronor ($640,000).

The property was built on the foundations of a Russian church, abandoned during the Middle Ages.

It’s harder to get closer to history,” estate agent Leif Bertwig said of the house, according to Sweden’s Helagotland website.

Har.

Hacker selling access to military, government websites

Ever dreamt of controlling a dot-gov or dot-edu? A hacker is selling access to dozens of military, government, and university Websites for $55-499 a piece.

Discovered by security firm Imperva, the hacker advertises varying fees, services, and proofs for cracking into .mil, .gov, and .edu sites around the world.

The priciest, access to the homepage of the U.S. Army, National Guard, and Army Forces, goes for $499 each, followed by access of university and governmental Websites. You’ll also find passes to the Italian Official Government Website for $99 or a Taiwanese educational center for $88…

Brian Krebs of Krebson Security said he saw the back-end evidence of the hacks and found them legit.

“Amid all of the media and public fascination with threats like Stuxnet and weighty terms such as “cyberwar,” it’s easy to overlook the more humdrum and persistent security threats, such as Web site vulnerabilities. But none of these distractions should excuse U.S. military leaders from making sure their Websites aren’t trivially hackable by script kiddies,” he wrote on his blog.

You wonder if the official webmanagers of all these sites even keep up-to-date with the world of patches?

California lawmaker wants to sell off San Quentin prison

If one California lawmaker has his way, his cash-strapped state may have an arresting real estate listing on the market: San Quentin State Prison.

State Sen. Jeff Denham is proposing selling the 432-acre prison, which offers a breathtaking view of San Francisco Bay, to garner money for California. “Our inmates just don’t need an ocean view. Let’s level it off,” said Denham, a Republican.

“Let’s rebuild something for the community there and reap the benefit for the state by having that money come in,” he added.

Denham estimates that the property could sell for as much as $2 billion, even amid a down market.

They could sell it to the Republican National Committee – who could easily raise the money for a good cause. [They do raise money for good causes once in a while, don’t they?]. Then, move it to Texas to be the George W. Bush Memorial Library. Staffed with former staffers – doing time.

Chinese organize buying trips for U.S. homes


Daylife/AP Photo by Al Behrman

Attracted by the real estate plunge on the other side of the globe, Chinese homebuyers are gearing up for visits to the United States in February to buy cheap homes.

A pioneering house-buying team of 20 to 30 people, organized by Soufun.com, one of the largest real estate portals in China, is scheduled to leave for the United States on Feb. 12.

The U.S. mortgage crisis and the downturn in the global economy have presented people with a golden opportunity, said Liu Jian, an official of the Beijing-based real estate portal.

The trip, which costs up to 25,000 yuan (3,500 U.S. dollars) per person, will focus on cities with huge ethnic Chinese populations including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York, Liu said.

The applicants include real estate professionals who want to investigate in the U.S. real estate market, and parents who want to buy houses for their children studying or to study in the United States.

I imagine they’ll pay cash. In U.S. dollars.

Sell your eggs for cash – and I don’t mean start a chicken farm!


Nope! The article is about women who sell their own eggs.
Daylife/Reuters Pictures

As the economy continues to tumble towards depths not seen since in decades, some women are turning to a new source to help increase their income by donating their eggs.

Courtney Smith, 26, is a wine steward at a high-end restaurant. She explained that with the economy hurting her business, she volunteered to donate her eggs, which she did about two years ago when money was very tight.

“I was paid $7,000,” Smith said. “It felt good. I mean, it feels good to have money, and I paid off a student loan”.

Smith was chosen to donate her eggs after submitting information about herself. After she was picked, she took a round of hormones for two weeks to stimulate ovulation. Several weeks later, her eggs were taken out, and she was eventually compensated; in turn, a couple received her eggs…

The agency where Smith registered said they’ve seen the number of women wanting to donate double, and they think it’s wonderful to give someone a child if they can’t produce on their own.

Kathy Benardo, runs an egg donor agency, said, ‘I don’t want people to lose sight that it is a treatment for infertility. Infertility is a disease and this is one of the most effective treatments there are.”

Smith said she has no emotional connection with her eggs. Recently, she was matched with another couple, and may be paid $8,000. She’s just one of many women who may take advantage of such a program to raise money.

It’s her own property, right? Women may sell their hair for cash. In many cultures it’s not even illegal to sell pleasure. Should society interfere with selling eggs?

Weird Obama products on the way to market

Where does Barack Obama rank in the rolling league table of global celebrity? A little above Sting, but some way below Madonna? Higher or lower than Michael Jackson?

According to canny marketeers, he’s right up at the top and there has been a scramble to trademark his name, and variations on it. Here are a few product names currently waiting for trademark approval in America:

Bearak Obama: a bear

ObamaLlama: needless to say, a llama

Broccoli Obama: frozen vegetables (?)

Obamajamas: pyjamas, differing from normal pyjamas I don’t know how

Obamaland: a company establishing itself to flog “educational publications and guides”

And a t-shirt carrying the slogan: “Who’s Yo’bama Now?”

I’d buy the t-shirt.