Jade Helm- Texas Ranger Shares His Knowledge

I received a link to the article below and then when I went to the site it was published on, malicious malware had taken over the site. Coincidence? I don’t know. In the interest of information redundancy, I am sharing this with you. But first, I must editorialize a bit!

To be clear, I am very concerned about this exercise. First of all, while there have been myriads of drills and Urban Warrior exercises off bases (and in violation of decent Constitutional practices) since the mid 90’s, this is the FIRST multi-state “exercise. Not just that, people are focusing on the South Western states, but it covers pretty much the entire southern border of the US. I have read articles that include Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida in this exercise along with the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and, of course, the “hostile” states of Texas and Utah.

Speculation and concern over this operation is running rampant and also running the gamut from “it’s no big deal” to the “red, green and blue list will be implemented and people will be hauled off”.

While I have to say that I flatly don’t know what’s going on with this, I do have serious concerns and issues with this exercise. The US Military has no business trying to infiltrate American towns. The “sell” that 60-65 participants per town is going to bring $150k into the town’s economy is ridiculous. That would be about $2300 per day trying to remain undetected in US towns. It stinks on it’s face.

What we KNOW is that there are actually Muslim training camps located in the United States. The FBI knows this and numbers them as between 22 and 36 camps. There is a ISIS camp near El Paso. The southern border has been flatly unenforced and people have been streaming into our country from who knows where. Then we have this “exercise” going on.

Best case scenario is also the worst case scenario to me. If the “intelligence” of this federal government has decided to pre-position troops in an effort to thwart a terrorism attack, then the fact that the border has been effectively dissolved, and remains in such a state, makes them flatly complicit in any terrorism attack that occurs here on US soil.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think they will be rounding up patriotic leaders unless there is a massive cover afforded to those who would do such a thing. Like a complete interruption of our ability to communicate. The dynamics are just not in favor of such an action…In my opinion.

At any rate, below you will find the article I was able to get that has the full letter of the reported Texas Ranger in the body. If nothing else, perhaps all the attention being given to Jade Helm 15 could bring a positive Hawthorne Effect .

Here is the article with the link in the title:

Texas Ranger Drops Jade Helm Bombshell: “There Are Trains With Shackles On Them”

The reports about the coming Jade Helm 15 operation across the southwest continue to suggest that this is not merely a standard training exercise to prepare our military personnel for foreign engagements as has been suggested by officials.

A letter sent to Dave Hodges at The Common Sense Show by a concerned Texas Ranger indicates that the government is preparing for a scenario similar to what has been described in William Forstchen’s recent novella Day of Wrath in which ISIS terrorists cross the southern border of the United States and simultaneously attack soft targets across the nation.

But the letter doesn’t stop there. The Ranger, who has kept his identify private for obvious reasons and makes clear that the scope of Jade Helm is so secret that the intent is not completely clear, says that the JH15 mission objectives may go much farther than just preparing for terrorists. According to the law enforcement insider there are trains moving throughout Texas and some of them have been outfitted with shackles, presumably to “transport prisoners of some sort.” The claim adds further credence to a report about Jade Helm dissident roundups and arrests and widespread martial law declarations following an emergency.

His letter sheds some light on the Walmart store closings, suggesting at least one may be utilized in a national security capacity as a staging point for the Department of Homeland Security, an agency that is apparently not trusted by anyone within the Texas Rangers organization, according to the source.

The full letter follows:

Hello Mr. Hodges,

I have been a Texas Ranger for quite some time, and as such, I am privy to much of what is going on with regard to the Midland Walmart store closing, the presence of ISIS on Texas soil and our preparations to combat an insurgent threat.

I will not give you my rank or location because it would not be safe to do so. It is a waste of time to try and trace the IP#, etc., as I have taken steps to ensure that this note cannot be traced back to me.  I understand and  realize that you seem to have a growing issue with people who will not go on the record with their inside knowledge or first-hand observations, but you cannot understand the pressure and scrutiny that some of us are under. I am taking a big risk writing this email to you.

The main reason that I am writing to you is to encourage you to keep writing on the growing threat of infiltration in Texas and I suspect other states as well. The infiltration I am writing about is not just Special Forces that are going to conducting covert drills in our state. that is concerning and I agree with you this involves martial law.  For now I am talking about ISIS and the danger that they pose to all of us. Our intelligence indicates that they have enough manpower & firepower to subdue a small town. The Midland Walmart takeover by DHS is a national security move in which we have been told falls under the Continuity of Government provisions. The Threat Fusion Centers are providing related information on what it is we are facing but the information sharing is only in one direction and that is very concerning.

We expecting an attack on more than one Texas city or town by ISIS and/or any of their partners. I believe the information to be accurate. However, this makes the covert operations of groups like the Navy Seals and others under JH15 highly suspicious. We do not need the insertion of Special Ops into Texas towns and cities. I think that you are probably right about the intention of arresting political undesirables given what we know about JH15. I am of the opinion that whatever the mission objectives of JH15, they have nothing to do with the immediate threat. Therefore, I do not pretend to understand the full scope of JH 15 because there are unfolding operational details which are almost impossible to reconcile with what I already know to be fact based the evidence for what is going on.

Let me drop a bombshell that I have not seen you address. There are trains moving throughout Texas that have shackles inside some of the cars. I have not personally seen them, but I know personnel that have seen this. This indicates that these trains will be used to transport prisoners of some sort. I know from reading your articles that your default belief will be that these are for American political prisoners and will be transported to FEMA detention camps of some sort. We have been told by Homeland that these trains are slated for transporting captured terrorists, non-domestic. We are not sure we can trust this explanation because Homeland is keeping a lot from us and we are growing increasingly uncomfortable with their presence in Texas.

I wanted to tell also you that we believe that Pantex is a high value target for ISIS and much or our preparation is to thwart any action by terrorists against the facility.  I am wondering how in the hell you figured that out. Someone on the deep inside must be talking with you.

Keep writing Mr. Hodges, you and the underground media are making a difference. As I am sure you know, Colorado announced today that JH15 is suspended in that state. Unfortunately, we do not have that prerogative because we believe that we are under the threat of eminent attack here in Texas.

I do believe the ISIS threat is legitimate. But you are also correct to suspect the motives behind the JH15 drills. They are clouded in secrecy and we have been shut out regarding their operational intent. The people of Texas and all of the United States of America should be pushing back against JH15.

I will support the Feds in their preparation against ISIS. But the moment that this action turns against our locals is the moment I will perform my oath of office. I am not alone in this feeling. None of my brothers trust Homeland. We will have to see where this is going but I have a bad feeling.

You do your job and keep writing and I will do my job in upholding the Constitution

Thank You

The suspicions of the public are quite justified, it seems. The operational commanders for Jade Helm have compartmentalized the “exercise” to such an extent that no one, not the local and state law enforcement officers involved or the majority of military personnel, has any idea what is actually going on.

As noted in the letter, a realistic threat from our southern border certainly exists and as we’ve written previously, Border Patrol and Homeland Security have been capturing suspected terrorist operatives crossing into the United States for years. But the Texas Ranger who penned the letter says this is not necessarily the full scope of the massive Summer exercise.

And given that people within his own organization report seeing shackles in trains, is it completely out of the question to suggest that the government does, in fact, have procedures in place to detain, transport and imprison those suspected of terrorism, or those who may be suspected of being suspected?

When Gerald Celente warned of the Auschwitz Express back in a 2012 interview he wasn’t joking:

First it was the Patriot Act. Now it’s the National Defense Authorization Act. And then it was Obama’s Executive Order giving El Presidente Los Estados Unidos the supreme right to call Martial Law at a potential threat – a potential threat.

Then there’s Big Bro over there, Attorney General Eric Holder, who just passed these guidelines that could let them listen in to what we’re saying right now, listen to you on your cell phone, watch every stroke of your keyboard, and they at the White House could then determine whether or not the algorythms add up to you being a terrorist or a potential terrorist.

Big Brother never had it so good.

…all aboard the Auschwitz Express…

…That’s what’s going on here… and the people don’t see it, and they’re afraid to speak up… People don’t want to believe it.

Full Interview Via SGT Report

We will soon find out if Jade Helm is just another military exercise. Some are of the opinion that it could be used to facilitate a false flag operation that would then be used as justification to implement nationwide martial law and to activate Doomsday Executive Orders recently signed by President Obama.

It may sound wildly conspiratorial, but it wouldn’t be the first time a government has purposefully engaged in such conduct.

Databases, Databases, Can They Make Life Safe?

Databases, Databases, Can They Make Life Safe?

In Louisiana, they recently passed a state law that prohibits the use of cash for the purchase of second-hand goods. That seems a bit beyond the pale, but hey, they say it is to keep us safe so it has to be okay. Now, in Missouri and other states, laws are coming into effect that are putting some serious constraints on not just pawn shops, but on second hand goods in general. Here is Missouri’s current law, and this is what they want to enact at the state level to ensure that this database extends beyond the current realm of required participants.

In a town called Mountain View, the City Council passed an ordinance on March 9th that requires pawn shops, second hand merchants and even itinerant merchants and temporary sellers of second-hand or used goods to upload the personal identification information of people selling goods to them into a database and to hold onto to those goods for 5 days before they can resell them. That pretty much bears repeating. If you want to sell some of your used stuff to someone who wants to resell it, you will have to give them your state issued id, possibly your social security number, definitely your address and contact information, and be loaded into a database that is accessible by law enforcement or anyone with “secure” identification information that can search the database.

The question is, if you want to have a big yard sale, do they have the ability to require you to provide all the information of whomever you received goods from for the yard sale? The way it is worded, I would say, “Yes.”

You decide, here is an excerpt:

“Secondhand means property or goods received from or through an intermediary, property or goods acquired after being used by another, or property or goods not considered new.”

Now, if you’re like me and regularly become irritated with keeping paperwork (receipts) around for things you have purchased, could you be found to be in violation of this ordinance if you tried to sell these things? Again, the way this is worded, yes.

So law enforcement will be able to access this database and find out who sold what to which second hand seller. Doesn’t this put any red flags up for any of the deep thinkers on the city council in Mountain View? If law enforcement has access to this database simply to make queries, does it let law enforcement know who has any item in sufficient quantities to want to off load some of it?

The wording of the goods that will be required to be loaded into the database is Orwellian at best. Again, here is an excerpt with that language:

“Every person and/or business licensed by the city that is regularly engaged in or conducting business for the purchase, sale, barter, exchange, recycling, reselling or pawn of property or goods including but not limited to antiques, Jewelry, coins, any metal, including but not limited to aluminum, copper, gold, silver, brass, bronze and platinum.; gems, and semiprecious stones, watches, firearms, power tools, hand tools, computers, electronic equipment, cameras and camera equipment, including but not limited to film, digital and videotape, still and motion pictures cameras and camcorders, and associated recording and viewing equipment, electronic game equipment and game cartridges or discs, compact digital disks (CDs), digital video discs (DVDs), musical instruments and equipment, bicycles, and any self-propelled device not required to be licensed by the state department of revenue, including but not limited to every pawnbroker, flea market merchant, secondhand dealer of the goods described in this section, coin dealer, jeweler, and junk dealer, both wholesale and retail, shall, within ninety (90) days of the adoption of this article, maintain an electronic inventory…”

Another problem with this ordinance is that it looks like it gives room to find a seller of second hand or used goods in violation of the ordinance if they don’t acquire the information of the person who has purchased these used, pawned or second-hand goods. This thing brings up waaaay more questions than answers.

All of this is entirely too close to requiring identification to buy and sell for me. I assure you that if I want to sell a used tool, I am NOT going to give my id to someone to do so.

A basic human right is to be able to transfer goods that one either doesn’t need or that they would like to turn into something else.

Are we really going to be safer if we put everything into a database on who has sold what goods to which person? Heck, they’re saying the Russians hacked Obama’s email. How can any database be considered secure?

 

Need Another Reason to Hate Facebook?

As many of you who have known me for awhile know, I quit Facebook two years ago because of how flatly nefarious they are. The thing that threw me over the edge wasn’t really their sharing of data with the NSA, nor the algorithms they run to effectively become one with the Department of Precrime, but the fact that the extrapolation of “people of interest” in any “investigation” was extrapolated out to a factor of 6 between Facebook “friends”. So, say the Powers that Shouldn’t Be were looking at yours truly for thinking unregulated thoughts, they would include my “friends”, and their “friends, and the “friends” of those “friends, and the friends of the friends of the friend’s friends” all the way out to a factor of six friends away. Frankly, that just creeped me out. We are simply reaching entirely too much singularity and the burden of proof of innocence in any “crime”, be it real or imagined, has become one wherein you must prove your innocence against potentially digitally created guilt.

It’s enough to make one want to go Amish. But I don’t think I could blend…And there are other things, too. So that really isn’t an option. I could almost be a Luddite, too. But I’m not a technophobe, nor am I a technophile. I just believe that technology should serve us and that it can be used for greatly positive enhancements to the human experience. But if you take human dignity and accountability for preserving that dignity out of the equation, we become chattel to the entities controlling the pseudo reality in which we virtually live.

I digress. And no, it isn’t difficult to get me to digress when we are talking about such an invasive and pervasive thing as the issue of human privacy and dignity in the age of technocracy. So, without further adieu, here is the article I wanted to share with you:

Facebook DOES collect the text you decided against posting

Ever written out a status update or comment but decided against posting it? One techie has discovered Facebook collects this content, despite the company’s claims to the contrary

– See more at: http://www.information-age.com/technology/information-management/123459286/facebook-does-collect-text-you-decided-against-posting#sthash.puuUwkvB.dpuf

‘I realised that any text I put into the status update box was sent to Facebook’s servers, even if I did not click the post button’

 

Facebook collects all content that is typed into its website, even if it is not posted, a tech consultant has discovered.

In December 2013, it was reported that Facebook plants code in browsers that returns metadata every time somebody types out a status update or comment but deletes it before posting.

At the time, Facebook maintained that it only received information indicating whether somebody had deleted an update or comment before posting it, and not exactly what the text said.

>See also: War on the data beasts: don’t let Google, Facebook et al control your digital lives

However, Príomh Ó hÚigínn, a tech consultant based in Ireland, has claimed this is not the case after inspecting Facebook’s network traffic through a developer tool and screencasting software.

‘I realised that any text I put into the status update box was sent to Facebook’s servers, even if I did not click the post button,’ he wrote on his blog yesterday.

Referring to the GIF he created below, he found that a HTTP post request was sent to Facebook each time he wrote out a status, containing the exact text he entered.

‘This is outright Orwellian, and inconvenient,’ he said. ‘Since I am now aware of this, I am more cautious about what I enter into the text area.

‘However I can’t help but notice the adverse effect of my new found awareness ― am I experiencing the censorship of my own thoughts because of a faceless entity such as Facebook that doesn’t care about you? I very much believe that is the case.’

There is nothing in Facebook’s Data Policy that directly alludes to the fact that it collects content that is written but not posted.

However, the general ambiguity under the heading ‘What kinds of information do we collect?’ makes it unclear, such as: ‘We collect the content and other information you provide when you…create or share. This can include information in or about the content you provide.’

One thing is certain: most Facebook users do not expect the company to collect the text they decided against sharing.

>See also: Track record: how Facebook is normalising the privacy trade-off

The company faced a backlash in 2009 when it removed part of a clause that promised to expire the license it has to a user’s ‘name, likeness and image’, which it uses for external advertising, if they remove content from the site.

Following a protest campaign, it returned to the previous terms of use. However, it’s unclear what rights Facebook has over content that is not posted.

Information Age has contacted Facebook for comment.

– See more at: http://www.information-age.com/technology/information-management/123459286/facebook-does-collect-text-you-decided-against-posting#sthash.puuUwkvB.dpuf

Beware, Beware!

Did a radio show today essentially about the singularity and biometric identification regarding MorphoTrust and the Real ID comliant state issued identification. During that show, the host told me about a program that assigns a threat level to individuals that police are using before they pull someone over and such. Here is an article about it below….My thanks to the author! There’s a lot of homework here:

Cops scan social media to help assess your ‘threat rating’

By Brent Skorup
December 12, 2014

minority-report1

A national spotlight is now focused on aggressive law enforcement tactics and the justice system. Today’s professional police forces — where officers in even one-stoplight towns might have body armor and mine-resistant vehicles — already raise concerns.

Yet new data-mining technologies can now provide police with vast amounts of surveillance information and could radically increase police power. Policing can be increasingly targeted at specific people and neighborhoods — with potentially serious inequitable effects.

One speaker at a recent national law enforcement conference compared future police work to Minority Report, the Tom Cruise film set in 2054 Washington, where a “PreCrime” unit has been set up to stop murders before they happen.

While PreCrime remains science-fiction, many technology advances are already involved with predictive policing — identifying risks and threats with the help of online information, powerful computers and Big Data.

New World Systems, for example, now offers software that allows dispatchers to enter in a person’s name to see if they’ve had contact with the police before.  Provided crime data, PredPol claims on its website that  its software “forecasts highest risk times and places for future crimes.” These and other technologies are supplanting and enhancing traditional police work.

Public safety organizations, using federal funding, are set to begin building a $7-billion nationwide first-responder wireless network, called FirstNet. Money is now being set aside. With this network, information-sharing capabilities and federal-state coordination will likely grow substantially. Some uses of FirstNet will improve traditional services like 911 dispatches. Other law enforcement uses aren’t as pedestrian, however.

One such application is Beware, sold to police departments since 2012 by a private company, Intrado. This mobile application crawls over billions of records in commercial and public databases for law enforcement needs. The application “mines criminal records, Internet chatter and other data to churn out … profiles in real time,” according to one article in an Illinois newspaper.

Here’s how the company describes it on their website:

Accessed through any browser (fixed or mobile) on any Internet-enabled device including tablets, smartphones, laptop and desktop computers, Beware® from Intrado searches, sorts and scores billions of commercial records in a matter of seconds-alerting responders to potentially deadly and dangerous situations while en route to, or at the location of a call.

Crunching all the database information in a matter of seconds, the Beware algorithm then assigns a score and “threat rating” to a person — green, yellow or red. It sends that rating to a requesting officer.

For example, working off a home address, Beware can send an officer basic information about who lives there, their cell phone numbers, whether they have past convictions and the cars registered to the address. Police have had access to this information before, but Beware makes it available immediately.

Yet it does far more — scanning the residents’ online comments, social media and recent purchases for warning signs. Commercial, criminal and social media information, including, as Intrado vice president Steve Reed said in an interview with urgentcomm.com, “any comments that could be construed as offensive,” all contribute to the threat score.

There are many troubling aspects to these programs. There are, of course, obvious risks in outsourcing traditional police work — determining who is a threat — to a proprietary algorithm. Deeming someone a public threat is a serious designation, and applications like Beware may encourage shortcuts and snap decisions.

It is also disconcerting that police would access and evaluate someone’s online presence. What types of comments online will increase a threat score? Will race be apparent?

These questions are impossible to answer because Intrado merely provides the tool — leaving individual police departments to craft specific standards for what information is available and relevant in a threat score. Local departments can fine-tune their own data collection, but then threat thresholds could vary by locale, making oversight nearly impossible.

Tradition holds that justice should be blind, to promote fairness in treatment and avoid prejudgment. With such algorithms, however, police can have significant background information about nearly everyone they pull over or visit at home. Police are time-constrained, and vulnerable populations – such as minorities living in troubled neighborhoods and the poor — may receive more scrutiny.

No one wants the police to remain behind a thick veil of ignorance, but invasive tools like Beware — if left unchecked — may amplify the current unfairness in the system, including racial disparities in arrests and selective enforcement.

Intrado representatives defend Beware’s perceived intrusiveness, pointing out that credit agencies have similar types of information. This data-mining program, however, goes beyond financial records to include social media, purchases and online comments when assigning a rating.

And no system is foolproof. Congress, for example, recognizes the sensitivity of the information that lenders and employers have, because errors can cause serious financial harm. The Fair Credit Reporting Act therefore gives consumers the right to access their credit reports and make corrections.

The risks to life and property, however, are far higher and more unpredictable in the law enforcement context. Yet there is no mechanism for people to see their threat “ratings” — much less why the algorithm scored it. You have no ability to correct errors if, say, someone with the same name has a violent criminal record.

Another effect is that these technologies give law enforcement the ability to routinely monitor obedience to regulatory minutiae and lawmaker whims. Police officers now boast, for example, that the Beware system allows the routine code enforcement of a nanny state — such as identifying homeowners so overgrown trees on a property can be trimmed.

Beware can also encourage fishing expeditions and indiscriminate surveillance in the hopes of finding offenders. Police used Beware recently at a Phish concert in Colorado, for example, checking up on concertgoers based on car license plates.

Perhaps the most serious issue is that such systems may be used as pretext in unconstitutional investigations. John Shiffman and Kristina Cooke reported for Reuters last year that a secretive Drug Enforcement Administration unit regularly funnels information to other law enforcement agencies in order to launch criminal investigations. This information is frequently acquired via intelligence intercepts, wiretaps and informants. As the FirstNet national wireless network rolls out, federal-state coordination will likely increase opportunities for police to receive sensitive information from powerful federal agencies.

Data-mining gives police significantly more information to create reasonable suspicion for suspects that federal agencies flag. Officers could receive a search or arrest warrant with the help of information gleaned from Beware and other databases, like those tracking license plates. If an arrest follows, data-mining helps provide the police with the legal pretext to engage in these fishing expeditions. Defendants will likely have no opportunity to challenge the legality of the original surveillance that led to their arrest.

As predictive policing investment ramps up, and local police and federal agencies increasingly coordinate, more secrecy becomes more valuable. Local police and prosecutors often refuse to disclose how they gain information about defendants because federal agencies prohibit them from discussing these technologies. In Baltimore, for example, police recently dropped evidence against a defendant rather than reveal information about cellphone tracking that the FBI did not want disclosed in court.

Yet police might not acquire some of this equipment if the local community is made fully aware of its use. Consider, the city council of Bellingham, Wash., recently rejected a proposed purchase of Beware. The police department had applied for, and received, a one-time $25,000 federal grant to cover some of the $36,000 annual cost of Beware. At a mandatory hearing about the purchase, Bellingham citizens discovered how Beware worked and opposed the purchase because of both the cost and the privacy implications. The funds were subsequently redirected.

This rejection demonstrates that many modern policing techniques — and the accompanying secrecy — can antagonize the average citizen. The occasional appearance of sniper rifles and military vehicles only stokes that sentiment. Local police forces increasingly receive military surplus equipment and federal lucre from an alphabet soup of U.S. agencies and opportunistic contractors. Now police are using, typically without residents’ knowledge, powerful databases, along with cellphone and license-plate trackers.

Police need guidance about under which circumstances these sophisticated databases can be used. An inaccurate threat level for a residence, after all, can change how police approach a situation. Failure to update who lives at a particular residence, for example, could transform a green rating into a red rating — turning a midday knock on the front door into a nighttime SWAT raid.

 

PHOTO (TOP): Tom Cruise in Minority Report. Courtesy of  20th Century Fox

Remote Re-Posession

This is some pretty scary stuff here. Actually physically re-posessing a vehicle is an entirely different ball game. Guess I will never get a car loan. Read the article below:

Miss a Payment? Good Luck Moving That Car

 

The thermometer showed a 103.5-degree fever, and her 10-year-old’s asthma was flaring up. Mary Bolender, who lives in Las Vegas, needed to get her daughter to an emergency room, but her 2005 Chrysler van would not start.

The cause was not a mechanical problem — it was her lender.

Ms. Bolender was three days behind on her monthly car payment. Her lender, C.A.G. Acceptance of Mesa, Ariz., remotely activated a device in her car’s dashboard that prevented her car from starting. Before she could get back on the road, she had to pay more than $389, money she did not have that morning in March.

“I felt absolutely helpless,” said Ms. Bolender, a single mother who stopped working to care for her daughter. It was not the only time this happened: Her car was shut down that March, once in April and again in June.

This new technology is bringing auto loans — and Wall Street’s version of Big Brother — into the lives of people with credit scores battered by the financial downturn.

Auto loans to borrowers considered subprime, those with credit scores at or below 640, have spiked in the last five years. The jump has been driven in large part by the demand among investors for securities backed by the loans, which offer high returns at a time of low interest rates. Roughly 25 percent of all new auto loans made last year were subprime, and the volume of subprime auto loans reached more than $145 billion in the first three months of this year.

But before they can drive off the lot, many subprime borrowers like Ms. Bolender must have their car outfitted with a so-called starter interrupt device, which allows lenders to remotely disable the ignition. Using the GPS technology on the devices, the lenders can also track the cars’ location and movements.

The devices, which have been installed in about two million vehicles, are helping feed the subprime boom by enabling more high-risk borrowers to get loans. But there is a big catch. By simply clicking a mouse or tapping a smartphone, lenders retain the ultimate control. Borrowers must stay current with their payments, or lose access to their vehicle.

Photo

Credit

“I have disabled a car while I was shopping at Walmart,” said Lionel M. Vead Jr., the head of collections at First Castle Federal Credit Union in Covington, La. Roughly 30 percent of customers with an auto loan at the credit union have starter interrupt devices.

Now used in about one-quarter of subprime auto loans nationwide, the devices are reshaping the dynamics of auto lending by making timely payments as vital to driving a car as gasoline.

Seizing on such technological advances, lenders are reachingdeeper and deeper into the ranks of Americans on the financial margins, with interest rates on some of the loans exceeding 29 percent. Concerns raised by regulators and some rating firms about loose lending standards have disturbing echoes of the subprime-mortgage crisis.

As the ignition devices proliferate, so have complaints from troubled borrowers, many of whom are finding that credit comes at a steep price to their privacy and, at times, their dignity, according to interviews with state and federal regulators, borrowers and consumer lawyers.

Some borrowers say their cars were disabled when they were only a few days behind on their payments, leaving them stranded in dangerous neighborhoods. Others said their cars were shut down while idling at stoplights. Some described how they could not take their children to school or to doctor’s appointments. One woman in Nevada said her car was shut down while she was driving on the freeway.

Beyond the ability to disable a vehicle, the devices have tracking capabilities that allow lenders and others to know the movements of borrowers, a major concern for privacy advocates. And the warnings the devices emit — beeps that become more persistent as the due date for the loan payment approaches — are seen by some borrowers as more degrading than helpful.

“No middle-class person would ever be hounded for being a day late,” said Robert Swearingen, a lawyer with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, in St. Louis. “But for poor people, there is a debt collector right there in the car with them.”

Lenders and manufacturers of the technology say borrowers consent to having these devices installed in their cars. And without them, they say, millions of Americans might not qualify for a car loan at all.

A Virtual Repo Man

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"I have disabled a car while I was shopping at Walmart," said Lionel M. Vead Jr., the head of collections at First Castle Credit Union in Covington, La., who said that starter interrupt devices and GPS tracking technology had made his job easier.
“I have disabled a car while I was shopping at Walmart,” said Lionel M. Vead Jr., the head of collections at First Castle Credit Union in Covington, La., who said that starter interrupt devices and GPS tracking technology had made his job easier.Credit Cheryl Gerber for The New York Times

From his office outside New Orleans, Mr. Vead can monitor the movements of about 880 subprime borrowers on a computerized map that shows the location of their cars with a red marker. Mr. Vead can spot drivers who have fallen behind on their payments and remotely disable their vehicles on his computer or mobile phone.

The devices are reshaping how people like Mr. Vead collect on debts. He can quickly locate the collateral without relying on a repo man to hunt down delinquent borrowers.

Gone are the days when Mr. Vead, a debt collector for nearly 20 years, had to hire someone to scour neighborhoods for cars belonging to delinquent borrowers. Sometimes locating one could take years. Now, within minutes of a car’s ignition being disabled, Mr. Vead said, the borrower calls him offering to pay.

“It gets their attention,” he said.

Mr. Vead, who has a coffee cup that reads “The GPS Man,” has been encouraging other credit unions to use the technology. And the devices — one version was first used to help pet owners keep track of their animals — are catching on with a range of subprime auto lenders, including companies backed by private equity firms and credit unions.

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Using his computer or cellphone, Mr. Vead can monitor the movements of about 880 subprime borrowers, and if they are late in making a payment, he can disable their vehicles.
Using his computer or cellphone, Mr. Vead can monitor the movements of about 880 subprime borrowers, and if they are late in making a payment, he can disable their vehicles.Credit Cheryl Gerber for The New York Times

Mr. Vead says that first, he tries reaching a delinquent borrower on the phone or in person. Then, only after at least 30 days of missed payments, he typically shuts down cars when they are parked at the borrower’s house or workplace. If there is an emergency, he says, he will turn a car back on.

None of the borrowers or consumer lawyers interviewed by The New York Times raised concerns about the way Mr. Vead’s credit union uses the devices. But other lenders, they said, were not as considerate, marooning drivers in far-flung places and often giving no advance notice of a shut-off. Lenders say that they exercise caution when disabling vehicles and that the devices enable them to extend more credit.

Without the use of such devices, said John Pena, general manager of C.A.G. Acceptance, “we would be unable to extend loans because of the high-risk nature of the loans.”

The growth in the subprime market has been good for the devices’ manufacturers. At Lender Systems of Temecula, Calif., which sells a range of starter interrupt devices, revenue has more than doubled so far this year, buoyed by an influx of new credit union customers, said David Sailors, the company’s executive vice president.

Mr. Sailors noted that GPS tracking on his company’s devices could be turned on only when borrowers were in default — a policy, he said, that has cost it business.

The devices, manufacturers say, are selling well because they are proving effective in coaxing payments from even the most troubled borrowers.

A leading device maker, PassTime of Littleton, Colo., says its technology has reduced late payments to roughly 7 percent from nearly 29 percent. Spireon, which offers a GPS device called the Talon, has a tool on its website where lenders can calculate their return on capital.

Fears of Surveillance

Credit

While the devices make life easier for lenders, their ability to track drivers’ movements has struck a nerve with a number of borrowers and some government authorities, who say they are a particularly troubling example of personal-data gathering and surveillance.

At its extreme, consumer lawyers say, such surveillance can compromise borrowers’ safety. In Austin, Tex., a large subprime lender used a device to track down and repossess the car of a woman who had fled to a shelter to escape her abusive husband, said her lawyer, Amy Clark Kleinpeter.

The move to the shelter violated a clause in her auto loan contract that restricted her from driving outside a four-county radius, and that prompted the lender to send a tow truck to take back the vehicle. If the lender could so easily locate the client, Ms. Kleinpeter said, what was stopping her husband?

“She was terrified her husband would be able to find out where she was from the tow truck company,” said Ms. Kleinpeter, a consumer lawyer in Austin, who said a growing number of her clients had the devices installed in their cars.

Lenders and manufacturers emphasize that they have strict guidelines in place to protect drivers’ information. The GPS devices, they say, are predominantly intended to help lenders and car dealerships locate a car if they need to repossess it, not to put borrowers under surveillance.

Spireon says it can help lenders identify signs of trouble by analyzing data on a borrower’s behavior. Lenders using Spireon’s software can create “geo-fences” that alert them if borrowers are no longer traveling to their regular place of employment — a development that could affect a person’s ability to repay the loan.

A Spireon spokeswoman said the company takes privacy seriously and works to ensure that it complies with all state regulations.

Corinne Kirkendall, vice president for compliance and public relations for PassTime, which has sold 1.5 million devices worldwide, says the company also calls lenders “if we see an excessive use” of the tracking device.

Even though the device made her squeamish, Michelle Fahy of Jacksonville, Fla., agreed to have one installed in her 2001 Dodge Ram because she needed the pickup truck for her job delivering pizza.

Shortly after picking up her four children from school one afternoon in January, Ms. Fahy, 42, said she pulled into a gas station to fill up. But when she tried to restart the truck, she was not able to do so.

Then she looked at her cellphone and noticed a string of missed calls from her lender. She called back and asked, “Did you just shut down my truck?” and the response was “Yes, I did.”

To get her truck restarted, Ms. Fahy had to agree to pay the $255.99 she owed. As she pleaded for more time, her children grew confused and worried. “They were in panic mode,” she said. Finally, she said she would pay, and within minutes she was able to start her engine.

Borrowers are typically provided with codes that are supposed to restart the vehicle for 24 hours in case of an emergency. But some drivers say the codes fail. Others say they are given only one code a month, even though their cars are shut down more often.

Some drivers take matters into their own hands. Homemade videos on the Internet teach borrowers how to disable their devices, and Spireon has started selling lenders a fake GPS device called the Decoy, which is meant to trick borrowers into thinking they have removed the actual tracking system, which is installed along with the Decoy.

Oscar Fabela Jr., who said his 2007 Dodge Magnum was routinely shut down even when he was current on his $362 monthly car payment, discovered a way to circumvent the system.

That trick came in handy when he returned from seeing a movie with a date, only to find his car would not start and the payment reminder was screaming like a burglar alarm.

“It sounded like I was breaking into my own car,” said Mr. Fabela, 26, who works at a phone company in San Antonio.

While his date turned the ignition switch, Mr. Fabela used a screwdriver to rig the starter, allowing him to bypass the starter interruption device.

Mr. Fabela’s car eventually started, but it was their only date.

“It didn’t end well,” he said.

Government Scrutiny

Photo

"I felt like even though I made my payments and was never late under my contract, these people could do whatever they wanted," said T. Candice Smith, who testified before the Nevada Legislature that her car, which had a starter interrupt device installed, was shut down while she was driving on a Las Vegas freeway, nearly causing her to crash.
“I felt like even though I made my payments and was never late under my contract, these people could do whatever they wanted,” said T. Candice Smith, who testified before the Nevada Legislature that her car, which had a starter interrupt device installed, was shut down while she was driving on a Las Vegas freeway, nearly causing her to crash.Credit John Gurzinski for The New York Times

Across the country, state and federal authorities are grappling with how to regulate the new technology.

Consumer lawyers, including dozens whose clients’ cars have been shut down, argue that the devices amount to “electronic repossession” and their use should be governed by state laws, which outline how much time borrowers have before their cars can be seized.

State laws governing repossession typically prevent lenders from seizing cars until the borrowers are in default, which often means that they have not made their payments for at least 30 days.

The devices, lawyers for borrowers argue, violate those laws because they may effectively repossess the car only days after a missed payment. Payment records show that Ms. Bolender, the Las Vegas mother with the sick daughter, was not in default in any of the four instances her ignition was disabled this year.

PassTime and the other manufacturers say they ensure that their devices comply with state laws. C.A.G. declined to comment on Ms. Bolender’s experiences.

State regulators are also examining whether a defective device could endanger the borrowers or other drivers on the road, according to people with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Last year, Nevada’s Legislature heard testimony from T. Candice Smith, 31, who said she thought she was going to die when her car suddenly shut down, sending her careening across a three-lane Las Vegas highway.

“It was horrifying,” she recalled.

Ms. Smith said that her lender, C.A.G. Acceptance, had remotely activated her ignition interruption device.

“It’s a safety hazard for the driver and for all others on the road,” said her lawyer, Sophia A. Medina, with the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.

Mr. Pena of C.A.G. Acceptance said, “It is impossible to cause a vehicle to shut off while it is operating,” He added, “We take extra precautions to try and work with and be professional with our customers.” While PassTime, the device’s maker, declined to comment on Ms. Smith’s case, the company emphasized that its products were designed to prevent a car from starting, not to shut it down while it was in operation.

“PassTime has no recognition of our devices shutting off a customer while driving,” Ms. Kirkendall of PassTime said.

In her testimony, Ms. Smith, who reached a confidential settlement with C.A.G., said the device made her feel helpless.

“I felt like even though I made my payments and was never late under my contract, these people could do whatever they wanted,” she testified, “and there was nothing I could do to stop them.”

DRIVEN INTO DEBT Articles in this series are examining the boom in subprime auto loans.

 

Cyber Tyrants Playbook: NSA and GCHQ

This is incredibly documented. It is also incredibly long. It behooves all of us to be cognizant of the “intelligence” communities actions. Please be aware that these are your tax dollars at work. Busy disrupting, defaming and destroying people’s lives and credibility if they step outside of the ideological box desired.

On more than one occasion I have seen discussion forums taken down by trolls. Some of them may have been victims to the playbook set forth in the article below. Some of them may have been taken down by the propensity of people sitting in the security of their own home being vicious, nasty and vulgar safely ensconced in their online anonymity.

Personally, I view the internet as the equivalent of the information Colt 45. The ability to research and access information at rapid rates and to disseminate that information to whomever bothers to read it is the best tool for freedom and creativity that human has ever known. Of course you have to vet your sources and check on veracity. Rumors and falsehoods abound, but so does truth…if you care to find it. Also, I’ve known for more than a decade that government trolls the internet seeking whom they may devour. The fact that it is clearly and definitely documented by this Snowden release is just a bonus. It simply elevates the knowledge level, and lets people know what the governments are using legitimate and illegitimate taxation to achieve.

I notice that the two major entities in information and public perception control are not mentioned in the release. Look up Tavistock and the Aspen Institute. Doubtless, many are involved (in Aspen particularly) that have no idea of the group’s origins and reason for existence.

Due to the large amount of slides in this, I only included a few. Please do visit the site linked in the article title below…Read some comments, too!
How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations
By Glenn Greenwald Feb 2014, 6:25 PM EDT 1,156


A page from a GCHQ top secret document prepared by its secretive JTRIG unit
One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.

Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other three partners in the English-speaking “Five Eyes” alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”

By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.

Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums. Here is one illustrative list of tactics from the latest GCHQ document we’re publishing today:

 

Other tactics aimed at individuals are listed here, under the revealing title “discredit a target”:

 

Then there are the tactics used to destroy companies the agency targets:

 

GCHQ describes the purpose of JTRIG in starkly clear terms: “using online techniques to make something happen in the real or cyber world,” including “information ops (influence or disruption).”

 

Critically, the “targets” for this deceit and reputation-destruction extend far beyond the customary roster of normal spycraft: hostile nations and their leaders, military agencies, and intelligence services. In fact, the discussion of many of these techniques occurs in the context of using them in lieu of “traditional law enforcement” against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, “hacktivism”, meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends.

The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes:

No matter your views on Anonymous, “hacktivists” or garden-variety criminals, it is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption. There is a strong argument to make, as Jay Leiderman demonstrated in the Guardian in the context of the Paypal 14 hacktivist persecution, that the “denial of service” tactics used by hacktivists result in (at most) trivial damage (far less than the cyber-warfare tactics favored by the US and UK) and are far more akin to the type of political protest protected by the First Amendment.

The broader point is that, far beyond hacktivists, these surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats. As Anonymous expert Gabriella Coleman of McGill University told me, “targeting Anonymous and hacktivists amounts to targeting citizens for expressing their political beliefs, resulting in the stifling of legitimate dissent.” Pointing to this study she published, Professor Coleman vehemently contested the assertion that “there is anything terrorist/violent in their actions.”

Government plans to monitor and influence internet communications, and covertly infiltrate online communities in order to sow dissension and disseminate false information, have long been the source of speculation. Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, a close Obama adviser and the White House’s former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wrote a controversial paper in 2008 proposing that the US government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites, as well as other activist groups.

Sunstein also proposed sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups” which spread what he views as false and damaging “conspiracy theories” about the government. Ironically, the very same Sunstein was recently named by Obama to serve as a member of the NSA review panel created by the White House, one that – while disputing key NSA claims – proceeded to propose many cosmetic reforms to the agency’s powers (most of which were ignored by the President who appointed them).

But these GCHQ documents are the first to prove that a major western government is using some of the most controversial techniques to disseminate deception online and harm the reputations of targets. Under the tactics they use, the state is deliberately spreading lies on the internet about whichever individuals it targets, including the use of what GCHQ itself calls “false flag operations” and emails to people’s families and friends. Who would possibly trust a government to exercise these powers at all, let alone do so in secret, with virtually no oversight, and outside of any cognizable legal framework?

Then there is the use of psychology and other social sciences to not only understand, but shape and control, how online activism and discourse unfolds. Today’s newly published document touts the work of GCHQ’s “Human Science Operations Cell,” devoted to “online human intelligence” and “strategic influence and disruption”:

 

 

Under the title “Online Covert Action”, the document details a variety of means to engage in “influence and info ops” as well as “disruption and computer net attack,” while dissecting how human beings can be manipulated using “leaders,” “trust,” “obedience” and “compliance”:

 

 

 

 
The documents lay out theories of how humans interact with one another, particularly online, and then attempt to identify ways to influence the outcomes – or “game” it:

 

 
We submitted numerous questions to GCHQ, including: (1) Does GCHQ in fact engage in “false flag operations” where material is posted to the Internet and falsely attributed to someone else?; (2) Does GCHQ engage in efforts to influence or manipulate political discourse online?; and (3) Does GCHQ’s mandate include targeting common criminals (such as boiler room operators), or only foreign threats?

As usual, they ignored those questions and opted instead to send their vague and nonresponsive boilerplate: “It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters. Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position.”

These agencies’ refusal to “comment on intelligence matters” – meaning: talk at all about anything and everything they do – is precisely why whistleblowing is so urgent, the journalism that supports it so clearly in the public interest, and the increasingly unhinged attacks by these agencies so easy to understand. Claims that government agencies are infiltrating online communities and engaging in “false flag operations” to discredit targets are often dismissed as conspiracy theories, but these documents leave no doubt they are doing precisely that.

Whatever else is true, no government should be able to engage in these tactics: what justification is there for having government agencies target people – who have been charged with no crime – for reputation-destruction, infiltrate online political communities, and develop techniques for manipulating online discourse? But to allow those actions with no public knowledge or accountability is particularly unjustifiable.

Documents referenced in this article:

The Art of Deception: Training for a New Generation of Online Covert Operations

Turn Off the NSA Data Center’s Water

Utah legislator introduces bill to cut off NSA’s water supply

Can Utah shut down the new NSA data center by turning off the water? A new bill introduced by state rep. Marc Roberts seeks to do just that.

Based on model legislation drafted by a transpartisan coalition organized by the Tenth Amendment Center (TAC) and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) called the OffNow Coalition, the Utah 4th Amendment Protection Act would prohibit state material support, participation, or assistance to any federal agency that collects electronic data or metadata without a search warrant “that particularly describes the person, place and thing to be searched or seized.”

This puts contracts that provide the 1.7 million gallons of water a day necessary to cool the NSA computers at its Bluffdale facility in the crosshairs.

“Without question, the mass surveillance and data collection by the Utah Data Center is a delicate and important matter,” Roberts said. “But for me, the language of the Fourth Amendment is clear.  It simply protects us against unreasonable and unwarranted searches or seizures of our persons, private residencies and property, documents and information and personal and private belongings.  This legislation preserves those rights to the people.”

Bluffdale, a political subdivision of Utah, provided the NSA with a sweetheart water deal. The bill would begin the process of ending that deal, potentially crippling the NSA’s ability to keep the facility functional.

“No water equals no NSA data center,” TAC executive director Michael Boldin said.

He called the potential impact of this legislation significant, especially compared to what Congress has done to deal with the agency.

“In 1975, Sen. Frank Church warned that the power of the NSA could enable ‘total tyranny.’ He recommended that Congress should limit the agency’s power. Almost four decades later, we’re still waiting. Congress is not going to stop the NSA. The people and their states have to,” Boldin said. “Turn it off.”

BORDC executive director Shahid Buttar echoed Boldin’s enthusiasm for state action.

“At stake is nothing less than our nation’s triumph in the Cold War. The NSA’s decade of warrantless surveillance en masse assaults not only the rights of hundreds of millions of law-abiding Americans, and our democracy as a whole, but resembles Soviet-style spying — on meth, empowered and amplified by the past generation’s remarkable advances in computing technology,” he said. “Utah residents have a chance to take matters into their own hands, defending democracy by shutting off state resources consumed by the Bluffdale data center in its assault on We the People, our fundamental rights, and the Constitution that enshrined them.”

Notable anti-establishment figures such as Naomi Wolf and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg advise the BORDC.

Utah doesn’t stand alone. Earlier this week, a group of Maryland legislators introduced a similar bill, targeting water and other resources to NSA headquarters. Lawmakers in more than 10 other states, including California, Vermont and Alaska, have also introduced the legislation. A bill in Tennessee addresses material support and resources to the NSA’s encryption-breaking facility at Oak Ridge.

Boldin said other states need to join the push, even those without NSA facilities. He called it essential.

“If enough states do this in the coming years, the NSA won’t have a place in the country where their spy centers are welcome,” he said.

Other provisions of the Fourth Amendment Protection Act would also have an impact. The bill would make data collected by the NSA and shared with state and local law enforcement in Utah inadmissible in court, unless a specific warrant is issued.

TAC national communications director Mike Maharrey said that this provision might prove as important as cutting off the water, because it erases a practical effect of NSA spying.

“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,” he said. “This data sharing shoves a dagger into the heart of the Fourth Amendment. This bill would stop that from happening immediately.”

The legislation rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine. Simply put, the federal government cannot “commandeer” or coerce states into implementing or enforcing federal acts or regulations – constitutional or not. The anti-commandeering doctrine rests primarily on four Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842. The 1997 case, Printz v. US, serves as the modern cornerstone. The majority opinion deemed commandeering “incompatible with our constitutional system.”

“The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policy making is involved, and no case by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.”

Boldin emphasized this is just the beginning.

“It took the people of Illinois ten years to legalize marijuana for medical use,” he said. “This isn’t going to be easy, and we’re not stopping until we win. The NSA has a choice; follow the constitution or get the hell out.”

TAKE ACTION

In Utah, SUPPORT THIS BILL HERE: http://offnow.org/utah

All other states, take action here: http://offnow.org/state

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