SonicSpike writes: A confidential source on the Trump transition team has told The Liberty Conservative that Rep. Thomas Massie, an award-winning, MIT-educated engineer, elected to Congress in 2012, is under consideration for the job of Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, a role commonly known as Science Advisor to the President. Massie currently serves as Chairman for the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation in the House of Representatives and is a libertarian-leaning Republican.
SonicSpike writes: The Internal Revenue Service has filed a “John Doe” summons seeking to require U.S. Bitcoin exchange Coinbase to turn over records about every transaction of every user from 2013 to 2015.
That demand is shocking in sweep, and it includes: “complete user profile, history of changes to user profile from account inception, complete user preferences, complete user security settings and history (including confirmed devices and account activity), complete user payment methods, and any other information related to the funding sources for the account/wallet/vault, regardless of date.” And every single transaction.
The demand is not limited to owners of large amounts of Bitcoin or to those who have transacted in large amounts. Everything about everyone.
Equally shocking is the weak foundation for making this demand. In a declaration submitted to the court, an IRS agent recounts having learned of tax evasion on the part of one Bitcoin user and two companies. On this basis, he and the IRS claim “a reasonable basis for believing” that all U.S. Coinbase users “may fail or may have failed to comply” with the internal revenue laws.
The IRS’s effort to strip away the privacy of all Coinbase users is more broad than the government’s effort in recent cases dealing with cell site location information. In the CSLI cases, the government has sought data about particular suspects, using a standard below the probable cause standard required by the Fourth Amendment (“specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe”).
SonicSpike writes: In September, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a motion to enjoin the State Department from censoring the American organization Defense Distributed. The Department back in 2013 threatened them with prosecution for hosting computer files that instruct 3D printers to make a plastic pistol, one the company calls "The Liberator." Defense Distributed have since then complied with the department's demand.
Provocateur and author Cody Wilson, who runs the organization and built and fired the first 3D-printed plastic pistol, believes that State Department threats to treat hosting such files as the equivalent of exporting illegal munitions amount to a prior restraint violation of their First and Second Amendment rights. (The Second Amendment Foundation is also a plaintiff in the suit.)
Defense Distributed's legal team, including Alan Gura (who has won two substantial victories for the Second Amendment at the Supreme Court), filed on Friday a petition to the Fifth Circuit for an en banc rehearing (before the entire Court, not just a three-judge panel) of the injunction request.
The new filing's arguments, quoted and summarized:
"Never before has a federal appellate court declined to enjoin a content-based prior restraint on speech while refusing to consider the merits of a First Amendment challenge...The panel majority's novel decision contradicts a long line of established Supreme Court and circuit precedents governing constitutional claims and injunctive relief—including decisions of this and all other regional federal circuit courts of appeal."
SonicSpike writes: Scott Adams, creator of the popular comic, Dilbert, has decided to endorse Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson for President.
He writes at his blog:
"I don’t know how to write this post without unintentionally disrespecting the real victims of abuse in any form. I apologize in advance if it comes off that way. But it’s part of the national conversation now, and unavoidable. The best I can do is focus on how voters perceive the situation. I don’t have an opinion about who did what to whom because I wasn’t in the room any of those times. That said
We fine citizens of the United States find ourselves playing some sort of sex abuse poker in which we have to assign value to various alleged sex crimes to see which alleged rapist/groper/enabler combination we want to inhabit the White House and represent our national brand. Let’s call that situation “not ideal.”
My view is that if either Clinton or Trump can be judged by the weight of the allegations against them, both are 100% unfit for the office. I think Trump supporters think it’s worth the hit to our national brand just to get some specific improvements in the country.
Clinton supporters have been telling me for a few days that any visible support for Trump makes you a supporter of sex abuse. From a persuasion standpoint, that actually makes sense. If people see it that way, that’s the reality you have to deal with. I choose to not be part of that reality so I moved my endorsement to Gary Johnson.
I encourage all Clinton supporters to do the same, and for the same reason. I don’t know if any of the allegations against the Clinton’s are true, but since we are judging each other on associations, you don’t want to be seen as supporting sex abuse by putting an alleged duo of abusers (the perp and the clean-up crew) into office. I think you will agree that it doesn’t matter if any of the allegations are true, because the stink from a mountain of allegations – many that seem credible to observers – is bad for the national brand too. To even consider putting the Clinton’s back in the White House is an insult to women and every survivor of abuse.
To be fair, Gary Johnson is a pot head who didn’t know what Allepo was. I call that relatable. A President Johnson administration might bring with it some operational risks, and policy risks, but at least he won’t slime you by association and turn you into some sort of cheerleader for sex abuse in the way you would if you voted for the Clintons or Trump.
If you take allegations of sex abuse seriously – and you should – vote Johnson. To vote for Clinton or Trump is to be seen by others as an enabler for sexual abuse. I don’t think that’s what anyone had in mind by breaking the glass ceiling. Don’t let it happen to you."
SonicSpike writes: Federal agents have persuaded police officers to scan license plates to gather information about gun-show customers, government emails show, raising questions about how officials monitor constitutionally protected activity.
Emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show agents with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency crafted a plan in 2010 to use license-plate readers—devices that record the plate numbers of all passing cars—at gun shows in Southern California, including one in Del Mar, not far from the Mexican border.
Agents then compared that information to cars that crossed the border, hoping to find gun smugglers, according to the documents and interviews with law-enforcement officials with knowledge of the operation.
The investigative tactic concerns privacy and guns-rights advocates, who call it an invasion of privacy. The law-enforcement officials say it is an important and legal tool for pursuing dangerous, hard-to-track illegal activity.
There is no indication the gun-show surveillance led to any arrests or investigative leads, but the officials didn’t rule out that such surveillance may have happened elsewhere. The agency has no written policy on its use of license-plate readers and could engage in similar surveillance in the future, they said.
Jay Stanley, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the gun-show surveillance “highlights the problem with mass collection of data.” He said law enforcement can take two entirely legal activities, like buying guns and crossing the border, “and because those two activities in concert fit somebody’s idea of a crime, a person becomes inherently suspicious.”
John Chigos, CEO of PlateSmart Technologies, Inc., which sells license-plate-reader systems, said the devices help protect the public but he called it “an abuse of the technology’’ to target gun-show shoppers.
SonicSpike writes: WikiLeaks has canceled an unknown announcement it had planned for this week due to security concerns, according to an NBC News reporter.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was scheduled to make an announcement Tuesday from the balcony of London's Ecuadorian Embassy. It was expected to be connected to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
However, NBC News reporter Jesse Rodriguez reported that because of security concerns at the embassy, the event has been canceled. WikiLeaks hasn't said whether the announcement will be rescheduled.
SonicSpike writes: WikiLeaks has published what purports to contain "new" Democratic Party documents hacked by the Guccifer 2.0 hacker.
The organisation posted a tweet at around 9am on Wednesday Sydney time, with links that promised access to 678.4 megabytes of new "DNC documents".
Initial images of what appeared to be presentation slides show information about databases used for voter identification and turnout efforts.
Other slides discuss the outcome of past get-out-the-vote campaigns.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was US secretary of state when WikiLeaks released hundreds of thousands of State Department emails in 2010.
The latest document dump comes after an earlier tranche of emails, reportedly hacked by Guccifer 2.0, prompted the resignation of politicians within the Democratic Party on the eve of the party's convention.
SonicSpike writes: FBI Director James Comey warned again Tuesday about the bureau's inability to access digital devices because of encryption and said investigators were collecting information about the challenge in preparation for an "adult conversation" next year.
Widespread encryption built into smartphones is "making more and more of the room that we are charged to investigate dark," Comey said in a cybersecurity symposium.
The remarks reiterated points that Comey has made repeatedly in the last two years, before Congress and in other settings, about the growing collision between electronic privacy and national security.
"The conversation we've been trying to have about this has dipped below public consciousness now, and that's fine," Comey said at a symposium organized by Symantec, a technology company. "Because what we want to do is collect information this year so that next year we can have an adult conversation in this country."
The American people, he said, have a reasonable expectation of privacy in private spaces — including houses, cars and electronic devices. But that right is not absolute when law enforcement has probable cause to believe that there's evidence of a crime in one of those places, including a laptop or smartphone.
"With good reason, the people of the United States — through judges and law enforcement — can invade our private spaces," Comey said, adding that that "bargain" has been at the center of the country since its inception.
He said it's not the role of the FBI or tech companies to tell the American people how to live and govern themselves.
"We need to understand in the FBI how is this exactly affecting our work, and then share that with folks," Comey said, conceding the American people might ultimately decide that its privacy was more important than "that portion of the room being dark."
SonicSpike writes: The controversial entrepreneur Kim Dotcom said last month that he was preparing to relaunch Megaupload, the file-sharing site that U.S. and New Zealand authorities dramatically shut down in 2012, with bitcoins being involved in some way.
This system will be called Bitcache and Dotcom claimed its launch would send the bitcoin price soaring way above its current $575 value.
The launch of Megaupload 2.0 will take place on Jan. 20, 2017, he said, urging people to “buy bitcoin while cheap, like right now, trust me.” Bitcoin’s value fell sharply this week after a $72 million theft from the Hong Kong exchange Bitfinex, though it subsequently bounced back to a degree.
Crucially, Dotcom said the Bitcache system would overcome bitcoin’s scaling problems. “It eliminates all blockchain limitations,” he claimed.
SonicSpike writes: A veteran airline analyst has put the price tag at $120 million for last week's computer outage at Delta Air Lines (DAL) and said the outage means the airline will be forced to become "more humble."
Delta's computer outage began Aug. 8, and resulted in about 2,100 cancellations before the carrier resumed normal operations on Thursday.
In a report issued Monday, Cowen & Co. analyst Helane Becker estimated the airline will suffer a $120 million operating income loss from the outage. That includes $50 million in lost revenue combined with a cost of $70 million.
She cited lost revenue from customers who have or will book away from Delta as well as the cost of cancellations, delays and the $200 vouchers that Delta provided to many customers.
SonicSpike writes: Jerry Doyle — best known for his role on "Babylon 5" — died Wednesday...
A call was made to his Las Vegas home yesterday afternoon after he was found unresponsive. It's unclear how the political radio talk show host and actor died... but we're told no foul play is suspected. An autopsy is pending.
Jerry starred as security officer Michael Garibaldi from 1994 to 1998 and was married to co-star Andrea Thompson from 1995 to 1997. He was in Wall Street before going into acting.
As of late... Jerry hosted a nationally syndicated libertarian leaning radio talk show, The Jerry Doyle Show. He was 60. Link to Original Source
SonicSpike writes: Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced Sunday she is stepping down as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee at the end of the party's convention, which is set to begin here Monday.
The Florida congresswoman's resignation — under pressure from top Democrats — comes amid the release of leaked emails showing DNC staffers favoring Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the party's 2016 primary contest.
SonicSpike writes: SpaceX just launched a rocket into space, then landed a substantial part of it back on solid ground for the second time. And the only reason they were able to do it was because they weren’t afraid to fail. Probably some engineering skill, too. And money.
Last night’s launch was the commercial spaceflight company’s ninth mission to the International Space Station. Its payload was a Dragon capsule loaded with two and a half tons of gear, most impressive of which is the International Docking Adaptor—a crucial modification that will give the next generation of space capsules access to the station.
SpaceX Releases Rockets-Eye View of Yesterday’s Landing The Dragon, which should arrive at the ISS in the next two days, also has a handheld DNA sequencer, so the astronauts on board can finally figure out what’s inside all those aliens they’ve been capturing for the past decade. Just kidding, it’s for tissue from mice, and other little organisms with Earthly origins. Besides the tech and the science, the capsule is loaded with creature comforts like like food, water, and oxygen. Astronauts, what a bunch of prima donnas.
Getting that payload into orbit is priority one, but the main attraction was the landing. Not only is it a very cool engineering feat, but these landings save the company about $60 million worth of non-exploded rocket every time. So far, the company has landed four times before—once on the ground, three times on a drone barge in the middle of the ocean. Once SpaceX starts relaunching these things, they will be at a huge advantage over commercial spaceflight competitors like Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance, and Sierra Nevada.
SonicSpike writes: An internal Republican fight is emerging over an anti-surveillance amendment passed by the House each of the past two years, but which foes say must be defeated this year in light of the Orlando shootings.
The measure, sponsored by Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky (and graduate of MIT), would effectively prohibit the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies from searching data collected incidentally on American citizens during surveillance of non-U.S. citizens outside of the country.
The House is set to vote on the provision Thursday as an amendment to the fiscal 2017 Defense Department spending bill, H.R. 5293, which is on the House floor.
The same amendment was passed last year by the House as part of the fiscal 2016 defense spending bill in a 255-174 vote across party lines. The previous year, it passed by a 293-123 vote. Both times, it was stripped out in negotiations with the Senate over a final bill that went to the president.
At issue is the amendment’s prevention of queries or searches of information or communications collected under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, without a warrant.
That FISA program is intended to focus on foreign terrorism suspects. But inevitably, information is collected about U.S. citizens in the course of this surveillance. Massie and Democratic co-sponsor Zoe Lofgren of California, and others, suggest Section 702 can be used as a "back-door" way to spy on U.S. citizens.
Opponents of Massie’s amendment say it would prevent intelligence agencies from being able to query or search for someone by name in the Section 702 database, simply because he is an American citizen, to see what is known about him. Link to Original Source
Today’s aircraft designers are able to run hundreds of computer simulations to discover “quiet supersonic” designs that substantially curtail perceived noise. NASA has been investing in noise-abatement research like this since the mid-1980s, and now private startups are also getting into the game, with at least two U.S. companies, Boom and Aerion, in preproduction of affordable supersonic passenger jets.
So long as the FAA maintains the supersonic ban, these companies have a reduced incentive to implement noise-abatement technologies and gain access to the lucrative coast-to-coast market. But the agency’s official position—offered in a 2008 public statement—is that it will forgo issuing a noise standard for supersonic travel until the “designs become known and the noise impacts of supersonic flight are shown to be acceptable.”
And that’s the catch: Without an official noise standard, how are America’s aviation companies to know what counts as acceptable? No company is going to spend millions of dollars producing a quiet supersonic aircraft behind a veil of ignorance, only to discover later that the FAA does not find it to be quiet enough.