The States Strike Back: Washington Introduces Bill to Cut Off Power to the NSA

We know the NSA shares data with state and local law enforcement. We know from a Reuters report that most of this shared data has absolutely nothing to do with national security issues. This bill would make that information inadmissible in state court. This data sharing shoves a dagger into the heart of the Fourth Amendment. This bill would stop that from happening. This is a no-brainer. Every state should do it.”

– Mike Maharrey, National Communications Director of the Tenth Amendment Center 

In case you haven’t heard of the OffNow coalition, the group is leading a nationwide charge to convince state legislatures to put a stop to the NSA’s unconstitutional spying by restricting crucial state resources such as water and power to NSA facilities. This tactic first received national attention earlier this year when California introduced such legislation, but it does not have actual NSA facilities in the state. Washington State does.

The NSA operates a listening center on the Army’s Yakima Training Center (YTC), and there is a bipartisan effort in Washington to prevent the allocation of state and local resources to the facility as long as the spy agency continues to violate Americans’ 4th Amendment rights. The Bill is called HB2272 and it is based on model language drafted by the OffNow coalition.

Kudos to Washington state, which has been leading the way in various freedom related issues, such as the drone debate as well as marijuana legalization.

More from OffNow:

In a bipartisan effort, Washington became first state with a physical NSA location to consider the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, designed to make life extremely difficult for the massive spy agency.

Rep. David Taylor (R-Moxee) and Rep Rep. Luis Moscoso (D- Mountlake Terrace) introduced HB2272 late Tuesday night. Based on model language drafted by the OffNow coalition, it would make it the policy of Washington “to refuse material support, participation, or assistance to any federal agency which claims the power, or with any federal law, rule, regulation, or order which purports to authorize, the collection of electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action not based on a warrant.”

Practically speaking, the bill prohibits state and local agencies from providing any material support to the NSA within their jurisdiction. This includes barring government-owned utilities from providing water and electricity. It makes information gathered without a warrant by the NSA and shared with law enforcement inadmissible in state court. It blocks public universities from serving as NSA research facilities or recruiting grounds. And it  disincentivizes corporations attempting to fill needs not met in the absence of state cooperation.

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Why China’s Attack on Bitcoin is a Sign of Weakness

For myself and many others back in the 2008/09 period, it seemed obvious what China should to do from an entirely nationalistic perspective on the grand geopolitical chessboard. With the reputation of the U.S. laying in tatters following a gigantic financial collapse and an utterly embarrassing, unlimited taxpayer bailout of the criminals that caused the crisis, the entire world (including Americans) was looking for something else. Something new, something more lawful. Something more just and more stable. The U.S. dollar and the Federal Reserve System had been exposed and entirely discredited in many people’s minds. One of history’s most bold and monumental geopolitical moves was ripe for the taking. China could attempt to back its currency with gold, something I discussed with Max Keiser in a May 2010 interview. Immediately, capital flows would flood into the country, Chinese consumer purchasing power would explode and a rebalancing of their economy would experience a traumatic, but monumental and necessary shift. They could have announced such a plan and then implemented it slowly and with safety nets for manufacturers. It wouldn’t have been easy, but the window of opportunity was open. Instead, they did nothing, and now I think it’s too late.

I think there are two obvious reasons why the Chinese authorities failed to take bold action on the world stage. First, many of the wealthiest billionaires and elites in China have benefited greatly from so-called “free trade” partnerships with the West. The ponzi relationship in which we print pieces of paper and give it to them for manufactured goods has resulted in fabulous fortunes for the Chinese power players. Not to mention their existing personal, social relationships with Western elites. So why rock the boat?

The second reason has to do with the likely political and social turmoil that would have resulted from such a move. The enormous economic rebalancing from such a power play would financially ruin many people during the transition period. Some of them might be locally powerful figures who could then rile up newly unemployed peasants and the conditions for revolution would be ripe. That’s not to say this would be the outcome, but pulling off such a grand move would open up the political situation to such a risk. A risk no one in power was willing to take. So they didn’t.

There is a third possible reason, and that is the U.S. quietly threatened China militarily if they attempted such a move. This is certainly possible as well.

All of these questions were on my mind back on May 2012 when I wrote an article titled: China Better Have a Plan. Here’s a passage from that piece:

The fact that the Central Planners in China are basically standing around like deer in headlights as their economy plunges into the abyss is nothing short of astounding.  Sure they have lowered the bank Reserve Requirement but so what?  That is an epic joke of a move in light of the gargantuan problems that economy is facing, and is blatantly pathetic in its irrelevance.  I’m not going into detail for the thousandth time why China’s economy is nothing more than a Keynesian Centrally Planned house of cards on steroids with mal-investments that make the U.S. housing market look benign.  I have done that too many times over too many years to exert energy on that topic once again.  That said, what I do want to do is look back at the post 2008 period and try to figure out why they never really took polices to rebalance the economy away from fixed asset investment toward consumption.  In fact, not only did they not rebalance but they doubled down on the prior strategy!  Well now the chickens have come home to roost and we are about to find out if China has any real “long term” plan to get themselves out of this mess.

Ultimately, what I think the authorities in China decided to do was let the U.S. hang itself. The Chinese elites didn’t want to be held responsible for the collapse of the U.S. dollar or the world monetary system. So instead, they decided to wait it out, buy gold and prepare to take over on the world stage once the monetary system imploded in on itself. This seemed like a reasonable plan, but they didn’t anticipate one very, very important thing. They didn’t anticipate Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is the monetary equivalent of some genius programmer coming to the global chessboard, picking it up over his or her head and then throwing it on the floor thus scattering the pieces all over the place. This is why I and so many others were shocked that the control-freaks in China were seemingly supportive of it. I believe this was the result of some very forward thinking and brilliant Chinese entrepreneurs seeing the technological achievement for what it is and convincing others of its incredible potential. However, that didn’t last long. Why?

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Want to Receive Part of Your Paycheck in Bitcoin? Here’s How…

I’ve covered Bitcoin payment processor BitPay on many occasions over the past year or so. The pioneering company provides an invaluable service to merchants that want to allow their customers to pay for goods and services in Bitcoin without taking on any currency risk. Well, they have now branched out into what seems to be a perfectly complimentary business, allowing employers that don’t deal with Bitcoin directly to pay their employees in Bitcoin should they so desire.

This will be achieved via the Bitcoin “Payroll API,” which is currently in beta release open to employers in the states of Georgia (where BitPay is based) and South Carolina. All 20 of BitPay’s employees receive some of their compensation in Bitcoin, and the project got kickstarted after many of BitPay’s own employees asked for something similar. CEO of BitPay Tony Gallippi receives 100% of his pay in Bitcoin.

However, this is not the only milestone for the company. A few days ago I pointed out that the company was signing up a staggering 1,000 merchants a week, and now it has been announced they have surpassed the 20,000 merchant threshold.

It’s interesting to think that a currency originally involved primarily in online gaming, which can be accessed at such venues as BitBet.com, has now spread so quickly into the mainstream with retailers such as Overstock accepting it.

This development is truly incredible, and allowing people to receive a small part of their salary in Bitcoin will only further its development as an genuine real world currency people and businesses want to both use and hold on to.

More from Coindesk:

What’s the easiest way to get bitcoins into your wallet? Answer: Get paid in bitcoin. BitPay, the world’s largest digital currency payment processor, now lets employees do that with the beta release of its Bitcoin Payroll API for employers.

American W-2 employees (see below) can elect to have all, or part, of their salary paid in bitcoin for every pay period. It works as a ‘net payroll deduction’, meaning taxes and garnishes are removed from an employee’s gross income first, and the bitcoin portion is deducted from take-home pay.

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How Erik Price, Founder of Blackwater, Will Help China Subjugate Africa

China’s ongoing colonization of Africa represents yet another sad development in the continent’s tragic history. I briefly highlighted this topic once before in December 2012, via a “Guest Post” I suggest reading titled: Africa in the Crosshairs.

Unfortunately, Erik Price of Blackwater infamy is now coming to town, which can only mean more pain, suffering and servitude for Africa.

From the South China Morning Post:

Shares of DVN Holdings, controlled by Hong Kong businessman Johnson Ko Chun-shun and state-owned Citic Group, surged 7.3 per cent after it appointed Erik Prince – former owner of controversial US security firm Blackwater – as chairman, and granted him more share options.

This is in addition to five-year options granted to him that allowed him to buy 205.1 million shares at 73 HK cents each in late November, as part-payment for a start-up East African aviation and logistics firm injected by Prince into DVN. The two options mean he could own about 23 per cent of DVN.

Prince last November sold to DVN a company that plans to build a pan-Africa provider of aviation, logistics, risk management, security services and exploration support services, needed by many Chinese businesses active in Africa. He received US$3 million plus the first batch of options.

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Wanna Be Dictator Obama Claims “I’ve Got a Pen” as He Vows to Legislate via Executive Order

If this isn’t one of the creepier things you’ve seen in a while, then I don’t know what to tell you. Obama’s emotional expressions in this clip are one of a man who has been utterly defeated following several years of rampant cronyism and epic public failures. As such, it seems as if he is prepared to step up further to the “wanna be dictator” plate and just start doing whatever he wants via executive orders.

I mean, why even bother pretending to have a Congress at this point? Hasn’t this guy done enough harm…

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Wanna Be Dictator Obama Claims “I’ve Got a Pen” as He Vows to Legislate via Executive Order originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on January 14, 2014.

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Jon Stewart on Chris Christie…Absolutely Hilarious

Regular readers know that I am no fan of Chris Christie. Just yesterday, I highlighted a post written by Chris Hedges on the New Jersey Governor, which is a must read expose if you haven’t already.

While Hedges’ criticisms of Christie are nothing to laugh about, Jon Stewart’s certainly are. Have fun with this hilarious clip!

 

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Jon Stewart on Chris Christie…Absolutely Hilarious originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on January 14, 2014.

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Supreme Court Decision – Electronic Devices Granted Some Protection at Border Crossings

Border crossings are a great place for government bureaucrats to harass the citizenry. Over the past several years, most of us have heard horror stories in this regard. I highlighted several stories of border crossing concerns last year, with the two most interesting being:

Why I Will Never, Ever, Go Back to the United States by Niels Gerson Lohman

and

If Flying into the UK, Your Phone Can Be Seized and Data Downloaded Without Suspicion

One of the greatest fears of activists, journalists and average citizens alike, is that some border patrol agent can confiscate your electronics on a whim and then use sophisticated software to break your passwords and look through all your personal files and data. Fortunately, the Supreme Court just let stand the ruling by an appellate court, which ruled that a deep forensics analysis of one’s electronics can only occur if there is “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity. That’s at least a start in the right direction.

From Wired:

Without issuing a ruling, the justices let stand an appeals court’s decision that U.S. border agents may indeed undertake a search of a traveler’s gadgets content on a whim, just like they could with a suitcase or a vehicle. That is known as the ”border search exception” of United States law, where travelers can be searched without a warrant as they enter the country. The Obama administration has aggressively used this power to search travelers’ laptops, sometimes copying the hard drive before returning the computer.

However, in a rare win for digital privacy, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling last year concluded that a deeper forensic analysis by border officials using software to decrypt password-protected files or to locate deleted files now requires “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity — an outcome the justices refused to tinker with today.

That means, in essence, the authorities must have some facts, rather than a hunch, that illegal activity is afoot to perform a forensic analysis on electronics seized along the border of the western United States.

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Amagi Metals: The Place to Buy Precious Metals with Bitcoin

Even those in the precious metals community who do not support Bitcoin, cannot deny two very significant facts. First, there is an undeniable overlap between many of those in the precious metals community and those within the Bitcoin ecosystem. Second, many of the early adopters of BTC have amassed sizable fortunes. So we have a captive audience of potential precious metals buyers who have exponentially more wealth than they had two years ago. You might think it’d be a good idea to offer gold and silver for sale for Bitcoin. That’s where Amagi Metals comes in.

Over the past several months I have come to know Stephen Macaskill, the man behind Amagi Metals, which is based just 30 miles east of me in Denver, Colorado. Stephen saw the potential to accept Bitcoin before most people had even heard of it. Specifically, the company was started in 2008 and began accepting BTC in November 2012. The rewards reaped from this decision have been enormous, with a reported $900,000 in Bitcoin for precious metals sales over Thanksgiving weekend alone! As such, the Bitcoin part of the business supports at least one full time employee at this point.

Those in the precious metals community should understand and appreciate the fact that many of the fortunes made in Bitcoin ultimately represent considerable buying power directed at those wise enough to take advantage. A merchant takes no BTC volatility risk either, as long as they use a payment processor like Coinbase (check out this interview with the founder) or BitPay.

As such, for those looking to spend some bitcoin on bars and coins, I strongly suggest checking out Amagi Metals.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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Amagi Metals: The Place to Buy Precious Metals with Bitcoin originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on January 14, 2014.

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Meanwhile in Spain…

Things have gotten a bit feisty in the Spanish city of Burgos, where violent protests have emerged in recent days over the decision to reduce the size of a road by half. It seems the protestors made a special point to vent their anger at a branch of Spanish bank Santander.

Don’t worry though, everything’s just fine. Nothing to see here serfs, move along. Recovery is proceeding as planned.

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Meanwhile in Spain… originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on January 13, 2014.

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The Trouble With Chris Christie by Chris Hedges

Christie is the caricature of a Third World despot. He has a vicious temper, a propensity to bully and belittle those weaker than himself, an insatiable thirst for revenge against real or perceived enemies, and little respect for the law and, as recent events have made clear, for the truth.

– Chris Hedges in his latest article: The Trouble with Chris Christie

Chris Christie is bad news. I have been saying this for a while now, and published my first post about it back in late July in the piece: Chris Christie Calls Libertarianism a “Dangerous Thought.” There is no doubt in my mind that Christie is a egomaniac with fascist tendencies, coupled with a temperament and consciousness that craves power for the sake of power itself, as well as to stoke his own sense of self-importance.

On that note, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and courageous, American patriot, Chris Hedges, has written an excellent expose of Christie. I have highlighted some excerpts below.

From Truth Dig:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been Wall Street’s anointed son for the presidency. He is backed by the most ruthless and corrupt figures in New Jersey politics, including the New Jersey multimillionaire and hard-line Democratic boss George Norcross III. Among his other supporters are many hedge fund managers and corporate executives and some of the nation’s most retrograde billionaires, including the Koch brothers. The brewing scandal over the closing of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge apparently in retaliation for the Fort Lee mayor’s refusal to support the governor’s 2013 re-election is a window into how federal agencies and the security and surveillance apparatus would be routinely employed in a Christie presidency to punish anyone who challenged this tiny cabal’s grip on power.

Christie is the caricature of a Third World despot. He has a vicious temper, a propensity to bully and belittle those weaker than himself, an insatiable thirst for revenge against real or perceived enemies, and little respect for the law and, as recent events have made clear, for the truth. He is gripped by a bottomless hedonism that includes a demand for private jets, huge entourages, exclusive hotels and lavish meals. Wall Street and the security and surveillance apparatus want a real son of a bitch in power, someone with the moral compass of Al Capone, in order to ruthlessly silence and crush those of us who are working to overthrow the corporate state. They have had enough of what they perceive to be Barack Obama’s softness. Christie fits the profile and he is drooling for the opportunity.

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