Immigration Authorities Looking For Frauds Through Social Media

Pretty much the same principle as if you were to throw something out in the trash. It becomes public information that can, and apparently will, be used against you.

We already knew they looked through social media for people since that’s how they’ve found several fugitives, but here you have it.

Amplify’d from arstechnica.com

Can the government get a full picture of who you are by friending you on Facebook and monitoring your friends and family? The Department of Homeland Security thinks so, and is apparently willing to pose as that hot girl next door in order to become your friend.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation recently got its hands on a DHS document titled “Social Networking Sites and Their Importance to FDNS” (PDF) as part of its work on social network surveillance. The document generally details how social networks function and provides a list of popular sites that people around the world like to use, including Facebook, Badoo, Imeem, MySpace, Windows Live Spaces, and others.

However, the document also highlights to agents the importance of amassing a lengthy friend list to many social network users, and how they can take advantage of it. “Narcissistic tendencies in many people fuels a need to have a large group of ‘friends’ link to their pages and many of these people accept cyber-friends that they don’t even know,” reads the document. “This provides an excellent vantage point for FDNS to observe the daily life of beneficiaries and petitioners who are suspected of fraudulent activities.”

Agents are encouraged to take the opportunity to reveal fraud by poking around in people’s profiles to see whether they are in valid relationships or are attempting some other kind of fraud to get into the country. “Once a user posts online, they create a public record and timeline of their activities. In essence, using MySpace and other like sites is akin to doing an unannounced cyber “site-visit” on a [sic] petitioners and beneficiaries,” instructs the DHS.

As noted by the EFF, the memo doesn’t require DHS agents to reveal their government affiliation (or even their real names) before sending friend requests, nor does it specify what level of suspicion agents must have before trying to friend someone for surveillance. 

See more at arstechnica.com

 

Fact Checking The Republicans “Pledge” To America

Didn’t Newt Gingrich come up with a “contract” before? Why go with a “pledge” now instead of a “contract?” Is it a matter of wavering commitment?

Make sure you read the rest of the report either on Fox business or on factcheck.org.

FactCheck.org rendered its verdict on the Republicans’ “Pledge to America” and says it “falls short on some of its facts.”FactCheck.org is a nonprofit website that says it is a non-partisan “‘consumer advocate’ for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” A project at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, FactCheck.org is funded by the Annenberg Foundation.

Here’s what FactCheck didn’t like — do you agree?

For the full rundown, go to FactCheck.org:

The Economy

FactCheck.org notes that page 5 of the Pledge says: “Our economy has declined and our debt has mushroomed with the loss of millions of jobs.”

But FactCheck.org says: “It’s true that the economy lost nearly 8.4 million jobs from the peak of employment in December, 2007 to the bottom of the job slump in December of last year. More than half (4.4 million) were lost before Obama took office. The economy has regained 723,000 jobs since hitting bottom, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

FactCheck.org notes that page 14 of the Pledge says: “Private sector unemployment remains at or near 10 %, jobless claims continue to soar, and the only parts of the economy expanding are government and our national debt.”

FactCheck.org says: “It’s true that the unemployment rate is 9.6%, but that’s actually down from the peak of 10.1 % reached last October. It’s also true that new claims for unemployment compensation – “jobless claims” – continue at a high level. But they are actually running 8% lower than they did at their worst levels, so they are slowly declining, not soaring.”

It adds: “And it’s not the case that only government is growing. The opposite is true — the private sector has gained a net total of 763,000 jobs this year, according to the BLS.”

FactCheck.org also says: “But at the same time, the total number of government jobs has declined by about 40,000, despite a transitory spike in hiring by the Census Bureau to conduct its decennial head count. That spike is now over. The decline in overall government employment is mostly due to public schools shedding 62,000 positions as local property tax rolls decline due to plunging real-estate values.”

Health Care Reform

FactCheck.org notes that page 26 of the Pledge says: “The Obama Administration has been forced to acknowledge that the new law will force some 87 million Americans to drop their current coverage.”

FactCheck.org says: “This is a misrepresentation. It’s true that the president over-promised when he repeatedly told Americans that ‘if you like your health care plan, you keep your health care plan.’ As we noted shortly before the bill passed, he can’t make that promise to everyone. It’s also true that after the bill passed, the administration released estimates showing that only about 55% of large employers and 34% of small employers would be offering the same insurance coverage in 2013 as they do now, under “grandfathering” rules. That works out to about 87 million workers — more or less — whose policies are likely to change in some way.”

It adds: “”But it’s deceptive of the GOP to claim that employers of these workers will ‘drop’ their coverage. It would be accurate to say they are expected to change it. In many cases policies will be replaced by more generous coverage, accompanied by government subsidies to help pay the premiums. Some workers will lose grandfathered status merely because their employers buy substantially similar policies from a different insurance company.”

FactCheck.org notes: “In other cases coverage might get worse — plans would lose grandfathered status if they were significantly changed to cut benefits; raise co-insurance payments, copays or deductibles; lower employer contributions; or add or tighten caps on payments. But while the law would allow this, it certainly does not ‘force’ employers to reduce coverage, as many have done in the past.”

FactCheck.org notes that page 28 of the Pledge says: “Roughly 16,500 IRS auditors, agents, and other employees may be needed to collect the hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes levied on the American people by the new health care law.”

FactCheck.org says: “This is simply not true. As we reported last March, this figure ‘stems from a partisan analysis based on guesswork and false assumptions, and compounded by outright misrepresentation.’

It adds: “For an eye-opening account of how Republican staff members of the House Ways and Means committee came up with this inflated figure, see our Ask FactCheck item posted March 30. Most of what the IRS will do under the law is hand out tax credits, not collect penalties.”

Venezuela plans $3 billion issue of dollar-bonds

This is just another payday for the corrupt Chavez government.

Out of the $3 billion, probably only about $100-200 million will actually be used as stated. The rest, will be split in two with some going to line the pockets of corrupt government officials and another portion used to buy votes.

Elections are scheduled for September, and Chavez is worried that rampant crime and corruption, a deteriorating health care situation and hyper inflation in Venezuela will cost him votes. So, he’s breaking out the green guns.

Unfortunately for Chavez he has run his previous source of green cash money aka PDVSA, the national oil company, into the ground. Since PDVSA has no cash flow to speak of, it has no more cash to give out. A foreign debt issue in the currency of “The Empire” is the only resort to get money to pay for votes.

It’s sad really.

Amplify’d from www.msnbc.msn.com

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela plans to sell $3 billion of dollar-denominated bonds that come due in 2022 and pay an interest rate of 12.75 percent, President Hugo Chavez’s government announced Monday.

The finance ministry said Credit Suisse Group AG and Deutsche Bank AG will manage the offering.

Half of the bonds will be offered to private companies seeking foreign currency through Venezuela’s currency exchange office, known as Cadivi, while the remaining bonds will be sold to individual investors and smaller companies, a ministry statement said.

The bond market for years has been an important source for Venezuelan businesses to obtain dollars to pay for imports because the government maintains currency-exchange controls and makes available a limited amount of dollars at official rates.

The official rates are 2.6 Venezuelan bolivars per dollar for high-priority goods like food and medicine and 4.3 bolivars to the dollar for nonessential goods.

Read more at www.msnbc.msn.com