What Have Millionaires Done With Their Bush Tax Cuts?

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By Arthur Delaney

WASHINGTON — Paul Egerman isn’t certain how many millions he’s saved from the tax cuts enacted during the George W. Bush administration in the early 2000s and extended by President Barack Obama in December of last year.

“I do not know how much I’ve saved over 10 years but I’m sure it is several million dollars — probably in excess of $10 million,” said Egerman, founder of a medical transcription company called eScription.

And what, HuffPost asked, have you done with all that cash?

“I’ve kept it,” he said. “I have not done anything with that money.”

Egerman is part of a gang of self-described Patriotic Millionaires who wish the federal government would help itself to more of their money to address its big budget deficits. Nearly 200 millionaires have signed a letter asking congressional Republicans to consider healing budget gaps with increased revenue — in particular, higher taxes on millionaires — instead of just reduced spending.

The group is coordinated by the Agenda Project, a New York think tank, and Wealth for the Common Good, a network of business leaders and wealthy people that promotes “fair and adequate taxation” to support the economy.

Other millionaires on a conference call Monday morning said they had more fun with their extra money than Egerman did.

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Posted on June 7th 2011 in Government, Politics

Secret Patriot Act…It’s Worse Than You Know!

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By Spencer Ackerman

You think you understand how the Patriot Act allows the government to spy on its citizens. Sen. Ron Wyden says it’s worse than you know.

Congress is set to reauthorize three controversial provisions of the surveillance law as early as Thursday. Wyden (D-Oregon) says that powers they grant the government on their face, the government applies a far broader legal interpretation — an interpretation that the government has conveniently classified, so it cannot be publicly assessed or challenged. But one prominent Patriot-watcher asserts that the secret interpretation empowers the government to deploy ”dragnets” for massive amounts of information on private citizens; the government portrays its data-collection efforts much differently.

“We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,” Wyden told Danger Room in an interview in his Senate office. “When you’ve got that kind of a gap, you’re going to have a problem on your hands.”

What exactly does Wyden mean by that? As a member of the intelligence committee, he laments that he can’t precisely explain without disclosing classified information. But one component of the Patriot Act in particular gives him immense pause: the so-called “business-records provision,” which empowers the FBI to get businesses, medical offices, banks and other organizations to turn over any “tangible things” it deems relevant to a security investigation.

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Posted on May 27th 2011 in Government, Legal, Politics

Malware for Smartphones

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By Troy Gill

Cyber crooks are infecting popular mobile platforms through malicious applications and, unfortunately, no mobile platform is immune from the destruction it can cause. According to McAfee’s report, Symbian remains the most targeted mobile platform, though vulnerabilities in both the Android and Apple IOS should not be overlooked.

Android’s open source software is something that gives the platform great appeal, but it is also the basis of its vulnerability. Users may enjoy the freedom to acquire apps both inside and outside the Android Market, but it doesn’t come without risk. The Android Market allows developers to upload apps without first running through an established screening process like one that you might find at Apple’s App Store or when using RIM’s application for BlackBerry. As a result, Google detected more than 50 malicious apps within the Android Market, downloaded to approximately 260,000 Android mobile devices. (Google later remedied the infections remotely via an auto installed software update.)

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Posted on May 26th 2011 in Cell Phones, Internet, Security

Apple Issues Advisory For Mac OS X platform

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By Stefanie Hoffman

In what has been up until now unchartered territory, Apple admitted that the recent onslaught of MacDefender malware is a threat to its Mac OS X platform and offered a temporary workaround to mitigate the problem.

Apple issued an advisory Tuesday, warning users about a new strain of Mac Defender malware , also known as Mac Defender scareware, a phishing scam that targets users by redirecting them to fake antivirus Web sites that download malicious code onto users’ Macs. The admission and subsequent advisory represented a stark about-face from the Cupertino-based company’s previous directive that prohibited support staff from offering help to users calling for assistance after becoming infected with the MacDefender malware.

During the phishing attack, Mac users are subjected to a link or pop-up directing them to a fake antivirus site. The site then purports to conduct a scan, and then falsely determines that their machine is infected with a virus. The scammers then offer the Mac Defender fake antivirus software in order to resolve the issue.

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Posted on May 26th 2011 in Internet, New to the Internet

The GOP Promised Jobs, So Where Are They?

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By George Zornick

It’s been over three months since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and strengthened their caucus in the Senate. The central premise of the GOP midterm campaign was that it could create badly needed jobs—the Republican National Committee drove a bus through the lower 48 states emblazoned with the slogan: “Need a Job? Fire Pelosi!”

Now, after focusing its initial legislative efforts on repealing “ObamaCare,” pushing Tea Party-backed dreams like a balanced budget amendment, and fighting to strip regulatory agencies of their authority, the GOP has finally released a job plan…that consists of a balanced budget amendment, the repeal of Obamacare, and several assaults on regulatory authority.

Freshman Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who headed the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush, released the official Senate GOP jobs plan yesterday. The unveiling received a surprisingly scant amount of media attention. Surely the ongoing bin Laden saga helped overshadow the announcement, but the complete lack of any new ideas might also have been a factor. Beyond the aforementioned goals, the GOP job plan advocates expanded off-shore drilling, steep tax reductions, medical malpractice reform, and other well-worn conservative policy tropes.

Aside from being unoriginal, few of these measures could be said to have even an ostensible effect on jobs. “It is very hard to see this as much of a jobs bill,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

The first part of the plan attempts to attack the federal deficit. It outlines three provisions: a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, a statutory spending limit that “provides a budget strait-jacket so that Congress is forced to make difficult decisions each year to live within its means,” and immediate spending cuts.

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Posted on May 6th 2011 in Career

Feds Demand Firefox Remove Add-On

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By David Kravets

The Department of Homeland Security has requested that Mozilla, the maker of the Firefox browser, remove an add-on that allows web surfers to access websites whose domain names were seized by the government for copyright infringement, Mozilla’s lawyer said Thursday.

But Mozilla did not remove the MafiaaFire add-on, and instead has demanded the government explain why it should. Two weeks have passed, and the government has not responded to Mozilla’s questions, including whether the government considers the add-on unlawful and whether Mozilla is “legally obligated” to remove it. The DHS has also not provided the organization with a court order requiring its removal, the lawyer said.

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Posted on May 5th 2011 in Internet, Technologies, Technology

No Jobs For Recent Graduates

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No Jobs For Recent Graduates

Amanda M. Fairbanks

NEW YORK — Ashley Moore never planned on moving back in with her parents.

Nearly a year after graduating from college, Moore, 22, also never expected to still be waking up in her old twin bed every morning.

“It’s been difficult because not only was I on my own, I was really far away,” explains Moore, a St. Louis, Mo., native who graduated from Pace University in New York City. At one point, she spent an entire year away. “What I miss most is my freedom and having my own space.”

We spoke yesterday via Skype. You can see Moore describe what it’s been like to move back home:

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Posted on April 23rd 2011 in Education, Employment

No Arrests For Top Figures Who Caused The Financial Crisis of The Century

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New York Time

It is a question asked repeatedly across America: why, in the aftermath of a financial mess that generated hundreds of billions in losses, have no high-profile participants in the disaster been prosecuted?

Answering such a question – the equivalent of determining why a dog did not bark – is anything but simple. But a private meeting in mid-October 2008 between Timothy F. Geithner, then-president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Andrew M. Cuomo, New York’s attorney general at the time, illustrates the complexities of pursuing legal cases in a time of panic.

At the Fed, which oversees the nation’s largest banks, Mr. Geithner worked with the Treasury Department on a large bailout fund for the banks and led efforts to shore up the American International Group, the giant insurer. His focus: stabilizing world financial markets.

Mr. Cuomo, as a Wall Street enforcer, had been questioning banks and rating agencies aggressively for more than a year about their roles in the growing debacle, and also looking into bonuses at A.I.G.

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Posted on April 15th 2011 in Ethics, Legal, Politics, Scams

FBI Takes Down Top 3 Poker Websites in U.S. but No Prosecutions of Top Figures In Financial Crisis

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By Dashiell Bennett

The U.S. Attorney for New York has indicted the founders the three largest online poker companies in the U.S. and seized their websites in a major crackdown on internet gambling.

The indictment charges eleven defendants — including the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker — with bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling offenses.

In addition, the domains for FullTiltPoker.net and AbsolutePoker.com have been seized by the FBI and replaced by this pleasant reminder that gambling is illegal.

The indictment essentially spells out a scheme by the poker companies to set up phony bank accounts to process illegal gambling transactions, either by lying to the banks about the nature of the transactions or by targeting struggling banks to who need the money to stay afloat.

In addition to the criminal charges, the US Attorney filed a civil suit seeking $3 billion in damages. The FBI froze 75 bank accounts and seized five websites, in addition to the arrests that were made today.

The bank and wire fraud charges carry a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.

This will affect a lot of young online poker stars!

Posted on April 15th 2011 in Cyber Law, Gambling, Legal

FBI Hijacks ‘Coreflood’ Botnet, Sends Kill Signal

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By Kim Zetter

In an extraordinary intervention, the Justice Department has sought and won permission from a federal judge to seize control of a massive criminal botnet comprised of millions of private computers, and deliver a command to those computers to disable the malicious software.

The request, filed Tuesday under seal in the U.S. District Court in Connecticut, sought a temporary restraining order to allow the non-profit Internet Systems Consortium to swap out command-and-control servers that were communicating with machines infected with Coreflood — malicious software used by computer criminals to loot victims’ bank accounts.

According to the filing, ISC, under law enforcement supervision, planned to replace the servers with servers that it controlled, then collect the IP addresses of all infected machines communicating with the criminal servers, and send a remote “stop” command to infected machines to disable the Coreflood malware operating on them.

A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed that the takeover occurred Tuesday evening, and the shutdown command was sent to infected computers based in the U.S.

“Under the authority granted by the court in the TRO, we have responded to requests from infected computers in the United States with a command that temporarily stops the malware from running on the infected computers,” wrote spokeswoman Laura Sweeney in an e-mail.

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Posted on April 14th 2011 in Hacks, Security, Technology