Sunday, January 29, 2012

A View From Space, January 28, 2012

TOPICS:Do You Accept the World As It Is Presented? Davos Economic Forum, Slavery, Civilizations Rise and Fall, Culture Busting, War, Money As Debt, Beehive Cities, Harappa, Charles Darwin, Evolution, Royal Society, Ruling Elite, Minoans, Fasces, Education, Selective Breeding, Prison Internet, Predictive Programming, Mind Control, Psychopathy, Brain Chips, English Language, Masonic Symbols, Tammuz/Adonis

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ten Benefits of Expatriation

The following is an excerpt from the free 29-page American Expatriation Guide, written by a former U.S. citizen who wants to remain anonymous. Read what he has to say – from a “been there, done that” perspective – and maybe take your own first steps to move to greener pastures.

Everybody has their own personal reasons for expatriating, but here are some of the benefits:

1) Freedom from the global U.S. tax net. Taxing you no matter where you breathe on this earth is wanton American exceptionalism. What other nations don‘t dare do to their citizens, the U.S. government doesn‘t think twice about. Once you renounce, it‘s your choice either to live the rest of your life free of any tax net, or to pick a place you want to be year-round and opt into the tax system (assuming it's not a tax-free jurisdiction). If you do, you‘ll at least know you have the freedom to walk away from it by simply moving elsewhere.

Taxes in the U.S. are already high, and rates are set to increase across the board. To gain some perspective, it's clarifying to calculate the number of months per year you work for the government. How many months did it take to pay all the federal, state, and local income taxes, capital gains taxes, FICA taxes, property taxes, and AMT – plus the raft of permitting, licensing and accounting costs you incur over the course of a year? Add corporate taxes if you're a business owner. And don't forget the new 3.8% health care surcharge tax on all investment income, including dividends. Be honest and add it all up. You'll then have a decent idea of how much it costs you in time and money to be a U.S. citizen every year. That cost will rise dramatically going forward.

Here's the take-away: The biggest guaranteed return on your capital that you'll ever have is investing your money free of taxes. Do some long-run compounding calculations with and without taxes to see what I mean. I'll wager John Templeton did.

2) Freedom from the death tax. Its political label is the “estate tax,” but the fact is the tax is based solely on your demise. I used to think the death tax only applied to gains on assets that had not been taxed already. How naïve I was! It grabs half of all your assets, regardless of the fact that you‘ve paid taxes on them.

If you have over a few million dollars net worth, your heirs will be writing a heart-stopping check to the IRS. They also may be forced to liquidate your assets to raise cash. This has happened to countless small businesses and family farms. And if you're a young, talented entrepreneur who goes on to earn substantial wealth over the course of your life, the death tax has you in its crosshairs too.

The death tax is 45% now and is scheduled to jump to 55% in 2011. Either way, the amount is staggering. Expatriation lifts the death tax burden from your children and other heirs.

3) Freedom from the U.S. government's War on Solvency. Washington‘s crazed debt addiction is uncontrollable and endemic. U.S. politicians have strapped an inconceivably large debt burden on the backs of their subjects. It pays to spend some time on The multi-trillion dollar debt avalanche roars on, headed straight towards economic hell. After “Debt Per Taxpayer” and “Liability Per Citizen,” check out “U.S. Unfunded Liabilities” to see a number that's suited to astronomical calculations – not economics.

Don‘t be tricked into thinking this is a partisan issue. It‘s sobering to review the debt records of both Democratic and Republican administrations... to behold what politicians do when given trillions of dollars of other people‘s money. They spend it all – and then borrow trillions more! Of course, the burden of servicing that debt is on you, not them. Their six-figure salaries are guaranteed, along with their uber-perks and fully funded pension plans.

While often described as “the richest nation in the world,” the reality is that the U.S. is the most indebted nation, by a country mile. No other government comes close to matching the debt burden that has been dumped onto every taxpayer. The U.S. government is rampantly incurring debt in your name, and you have no way to stop it or slow it down. Standing in free speech zones with protest signs didn‘t work when it came to war and crony bailouts, and it won‘t work for the debt burden either.

Besides, it‘s already too late. The interest alone on the debt is trillions of dollars. in thousands upon thousands of billions. Google “interest due on U.S. debt” if you think I‘ve veered into the realm of fiction. Once you've returned, I think you‘ll agree: The one truly meaningful act you can take as an individual is to opt out. Unload the government's debt burden off your back. Don't let yourself or your family be a casualty of the government's War on Solvency.

4) Freedom from being treated like a “toxic citizen.” When traveling abroad, being a U.S. passport holder used to be a positive thing. Now it‘s an albatross. The New York Times article I cited earlier explains it plainly: Americans abroad are being treated like “toxic citizens.” They're cut off from banking and other business and investing opportunities solely because of their U.S. citizenship.

Typical currency controls don‘t permit you to take money out of a country. The U.S. doesn‘t have that (yet). Instead, and this is quite clever, the government enacts laws and regulations that function as indirect currency controls. There are so many Patriot Act and other costly impositions forced on foreign banks that handle U.S. customers that they're simply refusing to put up with the harassment. Here's the upshot: Your money isn't fenced in; it's fenced out.

If you seek firsthand evidence, visit a major banking center outside the U.S. and try to open a bank account. Odds are you'll be turned away when the bank finds out you‘re a U.S. citizen. Reports abound of U.S. citizens' long-held accounts at foreign banks being summarily terminated. The U.S. government has made its subjects, along with their money, persona non grata.

I‘ve read that some foreign banks are now setting up, in essence, holding pens designed to handle U.S. citizens who want to bank offshore. But, really, what‘s the point? You‘re burdened with having to file extra IRS paperwork, along with FBAR forms to the Treasury Department. And even if you don‘t file all the extra papers (not a smart move), new laws force foreign banks who accept U.S. customers to report on you anyway. They are pressured to sign “information reporting agreements” to have U.S. citizens as customers. Google “FATCA” and “qualified intermediary agreements” if you want details.

Now for the most extreme instance of liability. Being a U.S. passport holder can mean life or death in the context of a terrorist attack. The U.S. government‘s never-ending War on Terror makes the world more dangerous for Americans. After so many years of bombing and military occupation in the Middle East, how can the hundreds of thousands of civilians who've been maimed and killed by the U.S. government NOT be the source of enduring resentment and blowback? Needless to say, the U.S. passport is on the short list of ones you least want to have if somebody sticks a gun in your face and says, “Passport.” Unfortunately, this has happened on more than one occasion, and it would be unreasonable to assume it won't happen in the future.

5) Freedom from the paperwork prison. Millions of Americans are plagued every year by days, sometimes weeks, of preparing tax documents and paying thousands of dollars to accountants to decipher the IRS tax code. There are, literally, hundreds of different IRS forms. The tornado of rules and regulations in the tax code fills roughly 70,000 pages. And then you have to save boxes and boxes of papers for years in fear of someday being audited and not being able to produce the demanded documents. If you‘re unfamiliar with audits, here‘s how they work: You‘re guilty of whatever the IRS claims, unless you prove yourself innocent. If that sounds preposterous, I encourage you to ask a tax lawyer. “Innocent until proven guilty” does not apply. Freedom from spending days of tedium on mind-numbing paperwork and thousands on accounting fees has been an absolute joy. Highly recommended.

6) Freedom to invest without tax distortions that encourage capital misallocation. The U.S. tax system encourages misallocation of your investment capital. It obscures the act of buying and selling securities based on a rational assessment of their value. For instance, you end up not selling a security you otherwise would simply because you don't want to trigger taxes yet. Or you hold on longer than you might otherwise to get long-term capital gains treatment. Or you sell securities you normally would keep – for “tax loss harvesting.”

Moreover, you‘re incented to give an artificial value premium to municipal bonds simply because they aren‘t taxed, despite their negative real return after inflation. And your assessment of real estate's value is warped too, by mortgage interest deductions and capital gains exemptions. The phrase “letting the tax tail wag the dog” encapsulates these distortions. Expatriation instantly liberates you from them.

7) Freedom from being crushed by the fiat currency landslide. If you pay attention to the world‘s major currencies, you‘ll notice they fluctuate, often dramatically, against each other. In a year‘s time, the price of an item can increase or decrease 20%, 30% – sometimes more – solely based on which currency you use to pay for it. The same item! The reasons for this are beyond the scope of this guide. Suffice to say, it has to do with government central banks manipulating their currencies by price-fixing interest rates and continually printing money.

Regardless of the reason for the volatile swings in the value of currencies, there it is. Reality. So what‘s the risk for you? For one thing, you can have all your money in one currency, earn a positive investment return on paper (that you're taxed on), but actually lose purchasing power. Think about it this way. The U.S. imports goods from all over the world. When the U.S. dollar drops in value, it takes more of them to buy those goods. That makes you functionally poorer, no matter what your account statement says. It‘s that simple.

Every time the dollar drops, you get the short end of the stick. The value of your savings erodes. Your money is like ice cubes. The longer you wait to use them, the more they melt. According to the government's official “inflation calculator,” the dollar has lost 95% of its purchasing power since 1913. See for yourself here:

When you're out of the global U.S. tax net, you can freely diversify the currencies you own to protect your purchasing power from being diluted. If you do this as a U.S. citizen and the dollar drops, you're taxed on the paper gains from those other currencies. In other words, you're taxed for simply preserving your purchasing power. And if you choose the monetary metal, gold, as a fiat currency hedge, you're taxed even more heavily. No matter what you do to try and preserve the purchasing power of your dollars, one way or another you're slowly being bled. That ends on the day you expatriate.

8) Freedom from the accountability for how the U.S. government spends your money. I sleep much better knowing I no longer fund the military-industrial-banking complex. Anybody can get mugged, but every U.S. taxpayer is a constant patsy for the political establishment. The rip-offs are so unthinkably big and endemic, there‘s nothing an individual can do to stop them.

If you step back and take an honest look, you'll see that the unfortunate state of affairs in America has resulted from the reign of both political parties. Don't fall for the divide and conquer strategy that politicians use to corral people into “red” and “blue” sports teams. Donkeys and elephants are sold as team mascots pretending to be in mortal conflict. In reality both parties work together to advance their agendas in lockstep...logrolling...and when necessary, one side “takes the hit” whenever the illusion of accountability is needed. The system depends on the delusion that people can “vote the bums out.”

Meanwhile, every government failure becomes the pretext for more government growth. If you don't get distracted by the spectacle, it's impossible not to notice the pattern: Every political solution to any problem involves more regulation of your life and more taking of your money.

What are the consequences of this vicious cycle of growth through failure? Most Americans are familiar with the oft-chanted phrase, “We‘re #1!” Humor me for a minute and try this exercise. Mentally separate yourself from the government you‘re paying trillions of dollars to fund. Then, consider that the U.S. is: #1 in government debt and deficits #1 in unfunded liabilities, most importantly Medicare and Social Security #1 in building and maintaining the biggestWMD stockpile in the world #1 in weapon sales to foreign governments #1 in bombs dropped and missiles fired on other nations #1 in causing civilian casualties and property destruction #1 in “defense” spending – about as much as all other countries combined #1 in lawyers per capita, with over 1.1 million total #1 in law suits filed – millions and millions every year #1 in political lobbyists, special interest groups and campaign donations #1 in taxpayer bailouts of the politically connected “too big to fail” corporations #1 in people imprisoned – “The United States has 4% of the world‘s population and 25% of the world‘s incarcerated population.” -Wikipedia

I‘ve avoided citing sources for these claims (save the last one) because I‘m hoping you‘ll be moved to verify them for yourself. The process is eye-opening. If you fall for the political fallacy that “the government is the people,” you end up with the faulty conclusion that America must be overrun by war-crazed, lawsuit-happy, debt-addicted criminals. How could anybody buy this after even a moment of clear thought? There's certainly no resemblance to the American people I know. These problems stem from the military-industrial-banking complex, the dark heart of the U.S. political machine. Why continue being the stooge that supplies the money to run it?

Looking at the world with fresh, open eyes isn‘t easy. One of the great benefits of liberating yourself from the grip of the U.S. political system is that the world becomes your oyster. You're free to embrace places that welcome individuals who seek to live peaceful and prosperous lives.

9) Freedom to radically increase your charitable giving. Individual liberty sparks our charitable instincts. If you care deeply about philanthropy, expatriation frees up vastly more of your capital to give away. Also, your philanthropic impulses are no longer distorted by the IRS. You can give to any charitable cause worldwide without being penalized if it‘s not anointed as a tax-deductible entity.

The human impulse to help another in need is older than any government. Your judgment about how to contribute your capital to best help others will forever be superior to that of bureaucrats. Expatriation opens up new possibilities for you to reach out and help others in need.

10) Freedom from the risk of getting trapped. Politicians don‘t like it when the people who pay their salaries, fund their pensions, and fuel their jets close their wallets and walk away. As the number of renunciations continues to rise, it inevitably will turn into a political hot-button. The media will set the stage for politicians to denounce renunciation, paving the way to make exercising the right more difficult and costly. Wealthy people who renounce will be called greedy and unpatriotic. “Turning their backs on their fellow Americans” will be the sound bite wielded by politicians to conjure up the demand to “do something.” When that happens, I expect the exit tax to become dramatically worse. Instead of taxing unrealized gains at their regular rates, it may function more like the death tax. Add up everything you own – then cough up half. Otherwise sit down and shut up.

The other timing consideration is that getting a second passport is becoming more difficult, more lengthy and more costly. You need a second passport to expatriate, and countries are increasing the number of years it takes to gain citizenship. There are only two countries left in the world that have an economic citizenship program, which is by far the fastest way to get a second passport. If these two programs are pressured to fold, escaping the U.S. political combine will take most people five or more years, instead of less than one. You can bet on this: No matter what happens, it won't get any easier.

[The full 29-page FREE report American Expatriation Guide – How to Divorce the U.S. Government is a virtual treasure trove of information for anyone thinking of leaving the US... including in-depth, practical advice, and links to useful websites and forms you'll need for expatriation. Fill out your email bellow and download it now. ]

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Friday, January 27, 2012

The U.S. Falls a Dramatic 135% on Press Freedom Index

After TIME recently named "The Protester" 2011's person of the year, Reporters Without Borders said "Crackdown was the word of the year in 2011."

Following a year of violent crackdowns on peaceful protests around the country, the United States fell 27 places on the Reporters Without Borders tenth annual Press Freedom Index of 2011 to 47th overall, more than doubling its 2010 standing at 20th.

Reporters Without Borders announced, "Never have journalists, through their reporting, vexed the enemies of freedom so much. Never have acts of censorship and physical attacks on journalists seemed so numerous."

“Many media paid dearly for their coverage of democratic aspirations or opposition movements. Control of news and information continued to tempt governments and to be a question of survival for totalitarian and repressive regimes. The past year also highlighted the leading role played by netizens in producing and disseminating news."

Reporters Without Borders said the United States "owed its fall of 27 places to the many arrests of journalists covering Occupy Wall Street protests." America's stunning 135% decline was unmatched in terms of the percentage of movement from the previous year.

Only Chile, who dropped from 33 to 80, joined the U.S. in falling over 100% of their previous ranking. Similarly, Chile was downgraded for "freedom of information violations committed by the security forces during student protests."

Additionally, only a handful of other countries saw such dramatic falls; Bahrain fell 29 places, Egypt fell 39 places, Uganda fell 43 places, and three other African dictatorships plummeted.

Another notable decease was Brazil's fall of 41 places to 99th "because the high level of violence resulted in the deaths of three journalists and bloggers."

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Brotherhood of the Bell (1970)

A successful economics professor must pay the price for having been a member of a fraternity which was a front for a powerful secret society. It could ruin his life and destroy his family. Starring Glenn Ford, Dean Jagger, William Conrad.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

12 Things Successful People Do Differently

I’ve always been fascinated by people who are consistently successful at what they do; especially those who experience repeated success in many areas of their life throughout their lifetime. In entertainment, I think of Clint Eastwood and Oprah Winfrey. In business, I think of Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett. We all have our own examples of super successful people like these who we admire. But how do they do it?

Over the years I’ve studied the lives of numerous successful people. I’ve read their books, watched their interviews, researched them online, etc. And I’ve learned that most of them were not born into success; they simply did, and continue to do, things that help them realize their full potential. Here are twelve things they do differently that the rest of us can easily emulate.

1. They create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Successful people are objective. They have realistic targets in mind. They know what they are looking for and why they are fighting for it. Successful people create and pursue S.M.A.R.T. goals.

S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Let’s briefly review each:

  • Specific – A general goal would be, “Get in shape.” But a related specific goal would be, “Join a health club and workout 3 days a week for the next 52 weeks.” A specific goal has a far greater chance of being accomplished because it has defined parameters and constraints.
  • Measurable – There must be a logical system for measuring the progress of a goal. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask yourself questions like: How much time? How many total? How will I know when the goal is accomplished? etc. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued efforts required to reach your goal.
  • Attainable – To be attainable, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. In other words, the goal must be realistic. The big question here is: How can the goal be accomplished?
  • Relevant – Relevance stresses the importance of choosing goals that matter. For example, an internet entrepreneur’s goal to “Make 75 tuna sandwiches by 2:00PM.” may be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Timely, but lacks Relevance to an entrepreneurs overarching objective of building a profitable online business.
  • Timely – A goal must be grounded within a time frame, giving the goal a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps you focus your efforts on the completion of the goal on or before the due date. This part of the S.M.A.R.T. goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by daily distractions.

When you identify S.M.A.R.T. goals that are truly important to you, you become motivated to figure out ways to attain them. You develop the necessary attitude, abilities, and skills. You can achieve almost any goal you set if you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that once seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them.

2. They take decisive and immediate action.

Sadly, very few people ever live to become the success story they dream about. And there’s one simple reason why:

They never take action!

The acquisition of knowledge doesn’t mean you’re growing. Growing happens when what you know changes how you live. So many people live in a complete daze. Actually, they don’t ‘live.’ They simply ‘get by’ because they never take the necessary action to make things happen – to seek their dreams.

It doesn’t matter if you have a genius IQ and a PhD in Quantum Physics, you can’t change anything or make any sort of real-world progress without taking action. There’s a huge difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it. Knowledge and intelligence are both useless without action. It’s as simple as that.

Success hinges on the simple act of making a decision to live – to absorb yourself in the process of going after your dreams and goals. So make that decision. And take action. For some practical guidance on taking action I highly recommend Getting Things Done.

3. They focus on being productive, not being busy.

In his book, The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferris says, “Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is often a form of mental laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.” This is Ferris’ way of saying “work smarter, not harder,” which happens to be one of the most prevalent modern day personal development clichés. But like most clichés, there’s a great deal of truth to it, and few people actually adhere to it.

Just take a quick look around. The busy outnumber the productive by a wide margin.

Busy people are rushing all over the place, and running late half of the time. They’re heading to work, conferences, meetings, social engagements, etc. They barely have enough free time for family get-togethers and they rarely get enough sleep. Yet, business emails are shooting out of their smart phones like machine gun bullets, and their daily planner is jammed to the brim with obligations.

Their busy schedule gives them an elevated sense of importance. But it’s all an illusion. They’re like hamsters running on a wheel.

The solution: Slow down. Breathe. Review your commitments and goals. Put first things first. Do one thing at a time. Start now. Take a short break in two hours. Repeat.

And always remember, results are more important than the time it takes to achieve them.

4. They make logical, informed decisions.

Sometimes we do things that are permanently foolish simply because we are temporarily upset or excited.

Although emotional ‘gut instincts’ are effective in certain fleeting situations, when it comes to generating long-term, sustained growth in any area of life, emotional decisions often lead a person astray. Decisions driven by heavy emotion typically contain minimal amounts of conscious thought, and are primarily based on momentary feelings instead of mindful awareness.

The best advice here is simple: Don’t let your emotions trump your intelligence. Slow down and think things through before you make any life-changing decisions.

5. They avoid the trap of trying to make things perfect.

Many of us are perfectionists in our own right. I know I am at times. We set high bars for ourselves and put our best foot forward. We dedicate copious amounts of time and attention to our work to maintain our high personal standards. Our passion for excellence drives us to run the extra mile, never stopping, never relenting. And this dedication towards perfection undoubtedly helps us achieve results… So long as we don’t get carried away.

But what happens when we do get carried away with perfectionism?

We become disgruntled and discouraged when we fail to meet the (impossibly high) standards we set for ourselves, making us reluctant to take on new challenges or even finish tasks we’ve already started. Our insistence on dotting every ‘I’ and crossing every ‘T’ breeds inefficiency, causing major delays, stress overload and subpar results.

True perfectionists have a hard time starting things and an even harder time finishing them, always. I have a friend who has wanted to start a graphic design business for several years. But she hasn’t yet. Why? When you sift through her extensive list of excuses it comes down to one simple problem: She is a perfectionist. Which means she doesn’t, and never will, think she’s good enough at graphic design to own and operate her own graphic design business.

Remember, the real world doesn’t reward perfectionists. It rewards people who get things done. And the only way to get things done is to be imperfect 99% of the time. Only by wading through years of practice and imperfection can we begin to achieve momentary glimpses of the perfection. So make a decision. Take action, learn from the outcome, and repeat this method over and over again in all walks of life. Also, check out Too Perfect. It’s an excellent read on conquering perfectionism.

6. They work outside of their comfort zone.

The number one thing I persistently see holding smart people back is their own reluctance to accept an opportunity simply because they don’t think they’re ready. In other words, they feel uncomfortable and believe they require additional knowledge, skill, experience, etc. before they can aptly partake in the opportunity. Sadly, this is the kind of thinking that stifles personal growth and success.

The truth is nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow emotionally and intellectually. They force us to stretch ourselves and our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first. And when we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t feel ready.

Significant moments of opportunity for personal growth and success will come and go throughout your lifetime. If you are looking to make positive changes and new breakthroughs in your life, you will need to embrace these moments of opportunity even though you will never feel 100% ready for them.

7. They keep things simple.

Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. Here in the 21st century, where information moves at the speed of light and opportunities for innovation seem endless, we have an abundant array of choices when it comes to designing our lives and careers. But sadly, an abundance of choice often leads to complication, confusion and inaction.

Several business and marketing studies have shown that the more product choices a consumer is faced with, the less products they typically buy. After all, narrowing down the best product from a pool of three choices is certainly a lot easier than narrowing down the best product from a pool of three hundred choices. If the purchasing decision is tough to make, most people will just give up. Likewise, if you complicate your life by inundating yourself with too many choices, your subconscious mind will give up.

The solution is to simplify. If you’re selling a product line, keep it simple. And if you’re trying to make a decision about something in your life, don’t waste all your time evaluating every last detail of every possible option. Choose something that you think will work and give it a shot. If it doesn’t work out, learn what you can from the experience, choose something else and keep pressing forward.

8. They focus on making small, continuous improvements.

Henry Ford once said, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small pieces.” The same concept configured as a question: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time. This philosophy holds true for achieving your biggest goals. Making small, positive changes – eating a little healthier, exercising a little, creating some small productive habits, for example – is an amazing way to get excited about life and slowly reach the level of success you aspire to.

And if you start small, you don’t need a lot of motivation to get started either. The simple act of getting started and doing something will give you the momentum you need, and soon you’ll find yourself in a positive spiral of changes – one building on the other. When I started doing this in my life, I was so excited I had to start this blog to share it with the world.

Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they arise. For instance, if you’re trying to lose weight, come up with a list of healthy snacks you can eat when you get the craving for snacks. It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier. And that’s the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on bigger challenges.

9. They measure and track their progress.

Successful people are not only working in their job/business, they are also working on it. They step back and assess their progress regularly. They track themselves against their goals and clearly know what needs to be done to excel and accelerate.

You can’t control what you don’t properly measure. If you track the wrong things you’ll be completely blind to potential opportunities as they appear over the horizon. Imagine if, while running a small business, you made it a point to keep track of how many pencils and paperclips you used. Would that make any sense? No! Because pencils and paperclips are not a measure of what’s important for a business. Pencils and paperclips have no bearing on income, customer satisfaction, market growth, etc.

The proper approach is to figure out what your number one goal is and then track the things that directly relate to achieving that goal. I recommend that you take some time right now to identify your number one goal, identify the most important things for you to keep track of, and then begin tracking them immediately. On a weekly basis, plug the numbers into a spreadsheet and use the data to create weekly or monthly trend graphs so you can visualize your progress. Then fine-tune your actions to get those trends to grow in your favor.

10. They maintain a positive outlook as they learn from their mistakes.

Successful people concentrate on the positives – they look for the silver lining in every situation. They know that it is their positivity that will take them to greatness. If you want to be successful, you need to have a positive outlook toward life. Life will test you again and again. If you give in to internal negativity, you will never be able to achieve the marks you have targeted.

Remember, every mistake you make is progress. Mistakes teach you important lessons. Every time you make one, you’re one step closer to your goal. The only mistake that can truly hurt you is choosing to do nothing simply because you’re too scared to make a mistake.

So don’t hesitate – don’t doubt yourself! Don’t let your own negativity sabotage you. Learn what you can and press forward.

11. They spend time with the right people.

Successful people associate with people who are likeminded, focused, and supportive. They socialize with people who create energy when they enter the room versus those who create energy when they leave. They reach out to connected, influential individuals who are right for their dreams and goals.

You are the sum of the people you spend the most time with. If you hang with the wrong people, they will negatively affect you. But if you hang with the right people, you will become far more capable and successful than you ever could have been alone. Find your tribe and work together to make a difference in all of your lives. Tribes by Seth Godin is a great read on this topic.

12. They maintain balance in their life.

If you ask most people to summarize what they want out of life they’ll shout out a list of things like: ‘fall in love,’ ‘make money,’ ‘spend time with family,’ ‘find happiness,’ ‘achieve goals,’ etc. But sadly, a lot of people don’t balance their life properly to achieve these things. Typically they’ll achieve one or two of them while completely neglecting the rest. Let me give you two examples:

  • I know an extremely savvy businesswoman who made almost a million dollars online last year. Based on the success of her business, every entrepreneur I know looks up to her. But guess what? A few days ago, out of the blue, she told me that she’s depressed. Why? “I’m burnt out and lonely. I just haven’t taken enough time for myself lately, and I feel like something is missing in my life,” she said. “Wow!” I thought. “One of the most successful people I know doesn’t feel successful because she isn’t happy with how she has balanced her life.”
  • I also know a surfer who surfs all day, every day on the beach in front of our condo complex in San Diego. He’s one of the most lighthearted, optimistic guys I’ve ever met – usually smiling from ear to ear. But he sleeps in a rusty van he co-owns with another surfer, and they both frequently panhandle tourists for money. He has admitted to me that the stress of making enough money to eat often keeps him up at night. So while I can’t deny that this man seems happy most of the time, I wouldn’t classify his life as a success story.

These are just two simple examples of imbalanced lifestyles that are holding people back from their full potential. When you let your work life (or social life, family life, etc.) consume you, and all your energy is focused in that area, it’s extremely easy to lose your balance. While drive and focus are important, if you’re going to get things done right, and be truly successful, you need to balance the various dimensions of your life. Completely neglecting one dimension for another only leads to long-term frustration and stress. For some practical guidance on balancing your life, I recommend Zen and the Art of Happiness.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

A View From Space, January 21, 2012

TOPICS: Costa Concordia Crash, 100th Anniversary of Titanic, John Jacob Astor, Morgan Robertson Novel"Futility", Hungary Next For Austerity, Fore-Knowledge of Disasters, True Story of the Titanic, Numerology 9 & 13, Templars, Saturn's Return, Costa Concordia Torpedoed by Iranian Sub, Canadian Naval Spy

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Saturday, January 21, 2012


An interview with an ex-Navy Seal

who during the years 1992-2000 was sent on top secret bombing missions in the Middle East, predominantly in Iraq. Years after the first Gulf War when we were supposedly not at war with Iraq yet he and Seal Team 9 were targeting Tomahawk Missiles on a monthly basis taking out targets that were increasingly "soft"... involving deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians. Find out how this highly trained young man and his team were coerced by the military into purposely destroying villages and creating future terrorists as part of a plan that would ultimately serve their dark purpose, the war on terror and 911.

And if that weren't enough, hear how he was trained in Area 51 as a specially gifted group of highly classified psi spies to see beyond the famous Looking Glass technology into the future involving 2012 and beyond.

Groundbreaking in every way.

Kerry Cassidy
Project Camelot

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Friday, January 20, 2012

The Alchemists of Wall Street behind the collapse of the Financial system

The Alchemists of Wall Street behind the collapse of the financial system . These guys really do not respect the profession. yeah you're making a LOT of money,Money to buy their own island ,jet, building, yacht, restaurant. its like the emotions in the movie 21, you get money, you feel high. You create a mathematical framework and make some more money, you get high but in the end, who cares? It's only money, they worship it for god sakes. These people live, eat, breath and sleep money. What's the point? I'd get my few million and just leave forever and never look back. That world looks profoundly depressing. James Sinclair has said: The formulas established by these people, regarding settlement & risk (for derivatives, etc) often times resembled... "a cartoon". The assumption behind a lot of this stuff was that "no matter what happened" (i.e. no matter how crazy or unworkable and unrealistic these formulas were) the markets would "work things out" and everything would "balance out". These formulas were also perverted further to hide risk in many cases. This was done to make Wall Street thugs rich.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

How the NDAA will affect you ? Coast to Coast AM - - 2012.01.18

Coast to Coast AM - - 2012.01.18 How the NDAA will affect you ? with host George Noory and Guests: Linda Moulton Howe, Alex Jones, Jonathan Emord, David Seaman, Tyrel Ventura, Gerald Celente, Allan Palmer We are faced with the Patriot Act, SOPA, NDAA and more all of which is happening very quickly. How to repeal a law that clearly violates our constitution and how to know what bills are up for vote before they get passed? I believe there are politicians fighting for our rights but they need our help. Repealing laws that violate the Bill of Rights and the Constitution should be obvious but somehow...well where do we start? the NDAA nullifies our rights.. our freedom of speech, press, religion, ALL of it is going down the drain? Lets say you don't like the way the government is running things. You speak out and say "This isn't right, its not working". all the government has to do is say since you say these things you are a potential threat to "America" and they can detain you for good without a shred of evidence for however long they want to. wake up people.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

50 MPG and Far Cheaper Than a Greenmobile

Best-case mileage you can get in a new car is 48 MPG – the advertised highway mileage of a 2012 Toyota Prius hybrid.

It sucks.

If, that is, you can remember… .

Back in 1981, the Dodge Omni (and several other small cars) was delivering 50 MPG. And 40-something was common. That’s gas-powered cars, too. Diesels – like the ’80 VW Rabbit – posted highway mileage pushing 60 MPG.

See here for an interesting little graph.

Mind, these cars were returning mileage better than – or at least as good as – “state-of-the-art” 2012 model hybrids, even though they were primitive in terms of their technology. Most had carburetors; none had overdrive transmissions.

But they lacked the one thing that a new hybrid – a new car, period – has too much of: curb weight.

These ’80s-era economy cars were flyweights. All weighed barely 2,000 lbs. – some, less. Since it takes less power to move less weight, they used less gas – even without modern technological advances.

And with those advances?

The results would be nothing less than spectacular.

Swap in a modern six-speed dual clutch automatic (or CVT) for the inefficient four-speed manual (or three-speed automatic) those early ’80s cars typically came with. This would drop engine RPM by 20-30 percent in top gear, during steady-state cruising. A dual-clutch (or just a modern automatic with lock-up converter) or a CVT would also dramatically reduce driveline efficiency losses. Probably good for another 5 percent improvement. Replace the original carburetors with a simple, but modern, Throttle Body (TBI) fuel injector and computer to maintain the ideal air-fuel ratio at all times. Probably another 10 percent efficiency improvement there (plus “modern car” driveability).

Finally, for the maximum effort, use modern low-friction manufacturing techniques to decrease rolling resistance. Maybe some aerodynamic tweaking of the exterior.

We’d have 55 MPG gas-burning cars. Probably 70 MPG diesels.

And it could all be done without having to resort to costly 21st century hybrid technology – which, remember, is only just barely matching the at-the-pump performance of early ’80s-era economy cars.

If, that is, the curb weight could be kept to 2,000 lbs. or so.

This is the key to efficiency.

Ever wonder why a motorcycle with a tiny 1,000 cc engine that only makes say 160 hp can out-accelerate the quickest supercars and still return 45 MPG? It’s because the bike is light.

Unfortunately, new cars are heavy.

A new Toyota Corolla sedan weighs almost 2,800 lbs. A new Honda Civic sedan weighs 2,608 lbs. A new Jetta TDI (diesel) weighs in at almost 3,200 lbs.

On average, current-year compact sedans weigh about 500 pounds more than an ’80s-era compact sedan.

If you put 500 pounds of bricks in the trunk of an ’80 Rabbit or Dodge Omni, you’d end up with circa 2012 fuel economy: low-mid 30s in city driving and maybe 40 MPG on the highway.

But if, on the other hand, you could remove 500 pounds of “bricks” from a new Corolla or Civic or TDI Jetta, the result would be fuel economy substantially better than Reagan Era economy cars.

And better than current-era hybrid cars, too.

They’d be more affordable than current-era hybrid cars too.

Adding an overdrive gear (or two) to a transmission involves orders of magnitude less expense in terms of R&D, the physical parts themselves and manufacturing/assembly than designing (and building) a car with two powertrains, (a standard gas engine/transmission, plus an electric motor/battery pack, as in a hybrid).

How much less expense?

Well, on the retail level, one can buy a ready-to-install TBI fuel injection system for about $1,500. Let’s say $2,000 for an overdrive transmission. Call it $4,000 to add the essential technological updates to an ’80s-era compact.

The brand-new MSRP of a 1980 VW Rabbit diesel was about $5,000. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $13k today. So add $4,000 for the updates.

A 60 MPG car for less than $18,000.

That’s at least $6,000 less than the cost of a new Prius hybrid – and 10 MPG better at the pump.

And remember, the $4,000 for the updates assumes retail prices for the components – you or me buying the parts over the counter. The economies of scale a car manufacturer could exploit would likely cut the per-car cost for these improvements in half.

Imagine: a 60 MPG car you could buy for $15,000.

But, of course, you can’t. Because the car companies have been told they must build safe cars – which means, heavy cars.Those ’80s-era cars didn’t have to have four (or six or eight) air bags and didn’t have to meet the bumper impact crash standards that 2012 cars must. So, of course, they were less “safe” – if you got into a wreck – than a modern economy compact with all the Stuff that the government now requires.

Put another way, fuel economy (and low-cost) takes a back seat to “safety” – as defined by the government.

It’d be nice if the government allowed consumers to make the choice themselves.

Given the popularity of 48 MPG hybrids like the $23,520 to start Prius – which reportedly sells for full MSRP sticker and forget about haggling – it’d be interesting to see how well a 60 MPG $15,000 economy sedan would do in the marketplace.

Too bad the government has decided we’ll never get the opportunity to find out.

Reprinted with permission from

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Monday, January 16, 2012

U.S. wants to ‘close down the Central Bank of Iran’ over nuclear concerns

WASHINGTON — The latest round of American sanctions are aimed at shutting down Iran’s central bank, a senior U.S. official said Thursday, spelling out that intention directly for the first time.
“We do need to close down the Central Bank of Iran (CBI),” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity, while adding that the United States is moving quickly to implement the sanctions, signed into law last month.
The sanctions, broadly aimed at forcing Tehran to shift course on its nuclear program, targeted Iran’s crucial oil sector and required foreign firms to make a choice between doing business with Iran or the United States.

Foreign central banks that deal with the Iranian central bank on oil transactions could also face similar restrictions under the new law, which has sparked fears of damage to U.S. ties with nations like Russia and China.
“If a correspondent bank of a U.S. bank wants to do business with us and they’re doing business with CBI or other designated Iranian banks… then they’re going to get in trouble with us,” the US official said.
The measures were contained in a mammoth $662-billion defence bill, which President Barak Obama signed on December 31 at a time of rising tension with Tehran, which has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz — through which more than a third of the world’s tanker-borne oil passes.
The United States has warned it will “not tolerate” such an interruption.
There are fears that increased sanctions on Iran’s central bank could force the global price of oil to suddenly soar, and actually give Tehran a financial windfall on its existing oil sales.
Rising oil prices could also crimp the fragile economic recovery in the United States and inflict pain on American voters in gas stations — at a time when Obama is running for reelection next year.
AFP/Getty Images
A satellite image shows the suspected Iranian nuclear facility of Fordo near the holy Shiite city of Qom, where Iran is has begun enriching uranium to 20 per cent, according to the UN atomic watchdog agency IAEA

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

A View From Space, January 14, 2012

TOPICS: Unlucky Friday 13th, Births/Deaths of Friday 13th, Sirius, Masonic Symbolism, American Great Seal, Ancient Calendars, Caesars of Rome, Christopher Clavius, Pope Gregory XIII, Royal Society, Bath England, Numerology-Astrology-Sacred Geometry

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

How to Disappear Completely (From the Internet)

If you’ve ever used the Internet, you have an online identity. Maybe it’s slight: a Hotmail account here, a comment on a news story there. Or maybe you’ve been more prolific, leaving a trail of usernames, accounts, messages, and profiles across the digital landscape. In any case, an active internet user owes it to himself to do a bit of self-Googling. What you’ll find will be both enlightening and humbling—even worrying.

Unease about your online identity shouldn’t be limited to how much information is publicly available. Online advertising is the engine that drives the Internet’s largest sites, including Google and Facebook, and it depends on your personal—and allegedly private—data for fuel. "The government, companies, and marketers all want us to share as much information as possible because that’s what’s good for them," says Rebecca Jeschke of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, "and it’s time to think of what’s good for us."

While most Internet users seem fine with privacy tradeoffs, the lack of control will lead some to consider the nuclear option: total Internet evacuation. But taking yourself offline isn’t as simple as logging out—it requires a little bit of work. Here’s how.

Popular Sites

When a website is new, the last thing its creators are thinking about is how to help users leave. Thankfully, many of the Internet’s largest identity properties—Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft—are fairly mature and have evolved enough to offer well-defined, if well-hidden, escape plans.

If you’ve ever used Gmail, Google Docs, Google+, or Picasa, to name a few, then you have a Google account. Google accounts can contain an astounding amount of personal data—check to see exactly how much—but removing it is a straightforward process. Before you hit the switch, be sure to back up any information you want to keep—a Google account can be recovered for only a few months after its deletion. Google doesn’t have a software tool for exporting data from its services, but most services have their own, typically found under the settings menu on the upper-right-hand side of the screen. As with other webmail services, the easiest way to back up your Live or Hotmail messages is to add your account to a mail app such as Outlook or Apple’s Mail before deletion—this will have the added benefit of backing up your contacts.

Once you’ve copied your important data offline, navigate to your Google account dashboard ( Next go to My Products, and click Edit. Then select Close Account and Delete All Services and Info Associated With It. You’ll be presented with a list of Google services that you’ve used in the past. (In my case, this included three that I didn’t remember signing up for.) Check the box next to each, along with the two are-you-really-sure boxes at the bottom, and select Delete Google Account. The account will be instantly wiped from the public Internet, but the company warns on its website that "residual . . . accounts may take up to 60 days to be deleted from our active servers and may remain in our backup systems," but not be accessible in any way, "for an additional period of time."

Until 2008, there was no obvious way to permanently delete your information from Facebook. Instead, there was a Deactivate option only, which removed your profile from public view but left it on Facebook’s servers indefinitely. Thousands complained, so Facebook built a tool for permanently and instantly deleting user data—then promptly hid it away in the site’s Help section. To access it, log in to Facebook, navigate to, and type "delete my account" in the search box. The top result will link you to the deletion page. Click Submit and confirm your choice, and you’re done. While Facebook doesn’t offer much help for backing up your data—a particular concern if you use Facebook to hold your photo collection—there are a number of free Facebook apps designed to archive your albums, such as Facebook Exporter for iPhoto and FBPhotoExport.

To pull yourself free from Microsoft’s services, go to and scroll to the bottom of the page. Under the Other Options header, click Close Account. On the following page, reenter your account password and press Yes. Unfortunately, there is no account-wide export option.

Closing an Amazon account is a more roundabout process. Click Help in the upper-right-hand corner of any page on and search "closing your account." On the resulting page, pick Contact Us, then click on Something Else. Below that, select Account Settings from the menu, then Close My Account. At the bottom of the page, click Send Us an Email, fill out the form, and send.

Smaller Sites

Most reputable websites will offer some sort of account deletion option. Smaller sites that have posted (or more likely, reposted) your data without your permission can prove more difficult; after all, the owners never had your permission to republish your blog posts, photos, or videos in the first place. Finding this type of information—or derogatory and misrepresentative comments about you—is no more difficult than doing a search on Google or Bing. (Be sure to place quotation marks around your name.)

Searching for yourself isn’t about narcissism; it’s not unusual for job recruiters, current employers, or even potential dates to vet new acquaintances on search engines. A misleading search result or libelous information could cause serious distress and do damage to your reputation.

On a smaller site, sending a direct request to a webmaster to pull infringing or upsetting material is your best course of action. if there is no prominently listed con- tact information for the site’s operator, or if you aren’t able to get a response from the listed address or phone number, you can find direct contact information for the site’s administrator by conducting a search on Domain owners are required by the internet Corporation for assigned names and numbers to supply contact information for Whois searches, including a phone number. This may at least get you on the phone with someone or give you a working email address. Whether that will be of any help is a different story.

If a site refuses to take down content that belongs to you, you can try sending a takedown notice. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright act (DMCA), you are entitled to have infringing content—images, text, or video that you own, specifically taken down. There are a number of forms available online for submitting DMCA notices to internet hosting companies; there are even forms for asking Google, Yahoo, and Bing to remove content from their search results. While these forms don’t guarantee cooperation, the mere threat of legal action will at least be enough to get a site owner’s attention. if your DMCA notice doesn’t get a response, it might be time to talk to a lawyer.

The Data That Won’t Die

It’s easy to tell when your data has been removed from public display; if you can’t find it anymore, then it’s effectively gone. Finding out whether or not a company is still holding your data privately—or selling it to third parties—may be impossible. "There’s no way to verify that your information has been deleted," Jeschke says, nor is there an overarching law or regulation governing data retention. Some data simply can’t be reclaimed; you relinquished control the moment you hit Submit, after you clicked past that 50-page license agreement.

This is a valuable lesson, and while it might not help you seize full control of your online identity, it’s instructive. When you sign up with a service, make sure you trust its parent company and understand what data you’re giving up. To sign up with Google or Facebook is to sell yourself in a literal way; as an astute (and anonymous) poster on the news site MetaFilter wrote, "if you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold."


Signing up for social media sites is, by design, almost entirely frictionless. Three or four clicks will get you in the door, but finding your way out takes significantly more time and effort. The Web 2.0 Suicide Machine (tagline: Meet Your Real Neighbors Again) is a one-shot tool for deleting your profiles from some of the largest social sites on the Web, including Twitter, Myspace, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

The tool was released last year by the New Media Lab in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and still lives up to its name—with one exception. Facebook has taken action to disable the site’s “suicide” script, and even sent the creators a stern cease-and-desist letter, demanding that Facebook be exempted from its deletion tools. Among the concerns included in Facebook’s legal letter? “[T]he protection of users’ privacy.”


Private Browsing

This feature is included in most new Internet browsers and goes by a few different titles: Private mode, Incognito mode, and InPrivate. All these names are a bit of an overreach: This mode prevents Web browsers only from collecting history and cookies. It keeps other users of your computer from seeing what you’ve been doing (buying gifts being the most palatable example); it won’t shield your IP address or existing cookies from external sites.

Virtual Private networks

Paid virtual private network (VPN) services route your Internet traffic through an intermediary, masking your computer’s address from the sites you visit. Sites will, however, still be able to deposit tracking cookies on your computer, and your browser will still be prone to exploits and viruses. VPNs reroute all Internet traffic on your computer, not just from Web browsers, which makes them popular with file sharers. Reputable services include WiTopia and Blacklogic.

CoCoon (getCoCoon.Com)

This service is a plug-in for the free Firefox browser that combines the advantages of private browsing and a VPN with extra security features. Traffic is routed through remote servers and made anonymous, and all incoming files—downloads or websites—are scanned for viruses and malware. Other features include throwaway email addresses for spam prevention, and full portability, so you can access your Cocoon account from other computers.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Company hoarding license-plate data on US drivers

Capitalizing on one of the fastest-growing trends in law enforcement, a private California-based company has compiled a database bulging with more than 550 million license-plate records on both innocent and criminal drivers that can be searched by police.

The technology has raised alarms among civil libertarians, who say it threatens the privacy of drivers. It's also evidence that 21st-century technology may be evolving too quickly for the courts and public opinion to keep up. The U.S. Supreme Court is only now addressing whether investigators can secretly attach a GPS monitoring device to cars without a warrant.

A ruling in that case has yet to be handed down, but a telling exchange occurred during oral arguments. Chief Justice John Roberts asked lawyers for the government if even he and other members of the court could feasibly be tracked by GPS without a warrant. Yes, came the answer.

Meanwhile, police around the country have been affixing high-tech scanners to the exterior of their patrol cars, snapping a picture of every passing license plate and automatically comparing them to databases of outstanding warrants, stolen cars and wanted bank robbers.

The units work by sounding an in-car alert if the scanner comes across a license plate of interest to police, whereas before, patrol officers generally needed some reason to take an interest in the vehicle, like a traffic violation.

But when a license plate is scanned, the driver's geographic location is also recorded and saved, along with the date and time, each of which amounts to a record or data point. Such data collection occurs regardless of whether the driver is a wanted criminal, and the vast majority are not.

While privacy rules restrict what police can do with their own databases, Vigilant Video, headquartered in Livermore, Calif., offers a loophole. It's a private business not required to operate by those same rules.

The company sells its own brand of license-plate readers and has customers around the nation, including in Springfield, Ill.; Kings Point, N.Y.; and Orange, Conn. But Vigilant distinguished itself from competitors by going one step further and collecting hundreds of millions of scans to create what's known as the National Vehicle Location Service.

A West Coast sales manager for the company, Randy Robinson, said the scanners -- as well as data from them compiled in the location system -- do far more than simply help identify stolen vehicles. Stories abound of the technology also being used by police to stop wanted killers, bank robbers and drug suspects. Kidnappers could be intercepted, too.

"I just sit back and think, 'Who would want to thwart officers from doing their jobs more effectively, faster, more efficiently?' If it was your son or daughter (missing), what would you say?"

Robinson isn't troubled by the thought of his own data being compiled, and he said others shouldn't worry either if they haven't violated the law. After all, he said, police could even track him down if necessary. He also pointed out that there's nothing wrong with Vigilant taking what amounts to public photographs.

While some technology makes it safer for police to perform their jobs or enables them to more easily share information, license-plate recognition has the potential to both transform public safety for the better and undermine rules designed to protect law-abiding Americans from police overreach.

"It's no different than if you have an officer that manually enters tags," argued Capt. Johnny Jennings of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in North Carolina. "They've automated this ability to where (the scanner) actually runs the tag for you and compares it to a variety of databases. ... We were able to come through with some significant reductions in stolen vehicles."

Just one patrol officer can log information for thousands of cars in a single shift. Multiply that by an ever-growing number of police departments adopting the technology -- often with help from homeland security grants and funds from President Barack Obama's 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- and the result is an extraordinary volume of data on motorists.

With enough scans, a portrait of your habits begins to emerge, making it a valuable intelligence tool police can use to determine where and when cars were scanned.

"We think once those snapshots become sufficiently dense, it rises to the level of the equivalent of GPS tracking," said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union. "Each snapshot of a license plate is a pixel. How many pixels do you need before you have a photograph?"

Lee Tien agrees. He's a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco and said the ability of police to identify perpetrators in real time is less worrisome than the stockpiling of historic driver data.

"Any time you're talking about movements in public which you can archive, or any data you can archive over time, then it's like a way-back machine. 'Gee, we'll be able to reconstruct the movements of your car or your cell phone,' " Tien said. " ... It's incredibly revealing, so I think it's pretty clear this is a big issue."

The potential value of this new law enforcement tool is undeniable, however

Auto thefts at Sacramento's Arden Fair mall have dropped from 77 in 2006, before private security deployed license-plate scanners there, to just eight in 2011. Steve Reed, a retired police officer now serving as the mall's security chief, used $50,000 in federal homeland security grants to purchase four scanners.

Through a unique partnership with the Sacramento Police Department, Reed said, 68 stolen vehicles were recovered at the mall, and 46 arrests have been made since early 2009.

"If a child was abducted here -- which hasn't happened -- and they only had a partial plate and knew it was a yellow car, (police) have the capability to go in there and put in the partial plate and go through all the pictures of cars we've seen and then actually find the car," Reed said.

One man now sits in an Arkansas federal correctional facility after he was linked to a stolen car at the mall -- also found in his possession were multiple credit cards, ATM cards, Social Security cards and altered checks belonging to victims of mail theft. In another case, authorities broke up a retail theft ring after an in-car alert at the mall led them to a group of people shoplifting inside. A later search of the trunk revealed thousands more in stolen goods.

Arden Fair officials get rid of the records they generate after 30 days, simply because Reed can't store them all. His guards also do not search across historical data -- the watchers can merely wait to be alerted if they've happened upon a license plate of interest.

Jennings of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said four of his cruisers today have scanners deployed, and the department began using them about five years ago during a surge in stolen vehicles. One of his detectives managed to collar an auto-burglary suspect with just a partial plate. But the technology isn't a catch-all. The department simultaneously launched a public information campaign teaching drivers how to prevent auto theft from occurring in the first place, Jennings said.

His department also destroys irrelevant records after 180 days and does not have the ability to search data nationwide through the National Vehicle Location Service.

Roughly 1,200 new users working in law enforcement are signed up to search the location system every month, and agencies don't have to be a customer of Vigilant, nor do they have to contribute their own data, company sales manager Robinson said. It's free to the law enforcement community and amounts to a spectacular form of advertising for Vigilant.

Police aren't the only ones contributing to the database's size.

Additional records are flowing in from private auto repossession companies that specialize in tracking down debtors no longer making payments on their cars. Imagine tow trucks armed with scanners cruising through apartment complexes and along residential streets, simultaneously searching for delinquent borrowers and generating new leads if a motorist in the future stops paying his or her note.

Some could argue it's not unlike Google's Street View, except that far fewer people have ever heard of Vigilant Video and its participating fleet of 2,000 so-called "scout" cars. Robinson is quick to emphasize that only authorized law enforcement agencies can search data generated by both private scout cars and patrol vehicles.

"What's extraordinary to me are the types of cases that are being solved," Robinson said. "(Police) can go back and say, 'Who was in the area? Who was in the neighborhood?' They can call that person up and question them and say, 'Look, I've got a rape victim. You're a known serial rapist or a rapist who just got out on parole. Why were you two blocks away on that night?' "

Story courtesy of our media partners at California Watch (A Project of the Center for Investigative Reporting)

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Cloud File Storage and Security

Cloud file storage is a great way to get a little bit more privacy. Separating your sensitive files from your physical location gives you flexibility and security. But are you exposing yourself to more risks by trusting your data with another company?

For privacy minded people, cloud security can be just as important as convenience. There are lots of cloud storage options, so which one offers the best cloud security?

There are three contenders that provide very good options for cloud storage which can also provide the cloud security and privacy needed. Dropbox, which we have discussed before, SpiderOak and Wuala. Check out how these three services stack up against each other to decide which, if any, you think is best for you.


Dropbox lets you store, sync, access and share selected data online.


Dropbox encrypts the content of your files, however, the file names are readable to Dropbox. Also, they maintain control over your password so there is a possibility that your password, and thus your data, could be compromised by rogue employees, warrantless searches, etc.

For this reason we have urged Dropbox users to encrypt their sensitive files with the open source encryption program Truecrypt before putting them in Dropbox. Open source software is the most trustworthy way to prevent surreptitious access to your data and get more cloud security.


Dropbox allows you to access your files, or save new files to your Dropbox folders, from any web accessible computer. You do not have to be using your own computer to access or save new files. This can be very handy for travelers working from internet cafes, people working from a different office computer, or if your own computer is lost or damaged.

Ease of Use

Dropbox is the simplest of these three options to setup and use. The lower default privacy and security settings make it easy to integrate with other services and easier to use in general. It is also extremely easy to customize the cloud security you want by encrypting your own sensitive files with Truecypt and leaving less sensitive files encrypted by Dropbox.


Dropbox, along with SpiderOak and Wuala, offers 2 GB of free storage space. That can be enough storage for a few critical documents, like birth certificate, passport, etc. There are ways to increase storage, including paying about $10 per month for 50 GB or $20 per month for 100 GB.


SpiderOak provides encrypted backup, storage, access and sharing of your files.


SpiderOak automatically encrypts all of the files backed up or shared through their service. The encryption is done on your own computer with the SpiderOak software that you download so SpiderOak's central servers never have control over your password. That way, the SpiderOak employees or other snoops cannot read the files you have uploaded to your account, not even the file names.

SpiderOak software is not open source so there is no way to verify the claim that they do not have surreptitious access and cannot grant surreptitious access to others. It is still advisable to encrypt sensitive documents separately with Truecrypt before backing them up with SpiderOak.


SpiderOak allows you to access backed up files from anywhere, but you cannot upload new files to your SpiderOak account from a remote computer. This may be inconvenient for people who might be working from an internet cafe, etc. This loss in convenience is the price paid for increased cloud security.

Ease of Use

SpiderOak offers more features than Dropbox so it is a bit more complicated to use, although it is still fairly simple. Because of the limitations in accessibility it is harder to integrate with many other applications that you might have.


In addition to the 2 GB of free storage, every 100GB of storage costs $10 per month. That is about half the price of Dropbox.


Wuala is like somewhat of a hybrid between Dropbox and SpiderOak.


Wuala encrypts your data automatically before it is uploaded, similar to SpiderOak, although it is based on more open source projects than Dropbox or SpiderOak. It is not completely open source, so the same open source caveat generally applies. Wuala is, however, based in the EU where there are stronger data protection laws than there are in the US.


Wuala provides a way to access files via the web. This gives you access to your files from an internet cafe or other places, not just from your own computer. It still allows you to encrypt and decrypt your data locally, maintaining the high security while still providing the ease of use.

Ease of Use

Wuala is able to support drag and drop file management, much like Dropbox. This, and other features, make it less complex than SpiderOak, which does not have drag and drop features.


The cost of Wuala is about the same as SpiderOak, which is about half the price of DropBox.


These are at least three good solutions for online backup, file sharing and storage which still offer cloud security. Each has different features and capabilities that will appeal to different people. If you want flexibility you can use Dropbox. If you want automatic strong encryption, you can use SpiderOak. If you want a bit more of a hybrid, try Wuala. You can combine any one of these with Truecrypt for maximum privacy and cloud security.

Reprinted with permission from How to Vanish.