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Monthly Archives: March 2016

This Cell Phone Gun Case Could Get You Killed! Do Everyone A Favor And Don’t Buy This ‘Dangerous Product!’

A Minnesota company has invented a handgun that folds up to look just like a smartphone.

The .380-caliber pistol, called Ideal Conceal, will be available later this year and “will be virtually undetectable because it hides in plain sight,” Ideal Conceal says on its website.

In locked position, the two-shot plastic gun with a metal core can be discreetly slipped into pockets, like a real phone. But “with one click of the safety it opens and is ready to fire,” Ideal Conceal claims.

The creator, Kirk Kjellberg, told NBC News the idea came to him after he attracted attention for carrying a concealed weapon in a restaurant.

“A boy spotted me in the restaurant and said loudly, ‘Mommy, Mommy, that guy’s got a gun!’ And then pretty much the whole restaurant stared at me,” he said.

So Kjellberg, who calls himself a “serial inventor,” decided to make a gun that wouldn’t stand out so much. He says the Ideal Conceal is the same size as his Galaxy S7 phone with a protective case on it: About 3 inches by 5 inches.

 

Ever Wonder What Happens When A Journalist Forces A Banker To Answer A Question?

This Is What Happens When A Journalist Forces A Banker To Actually Answer A Question

Irish journalist Vincent Browne destroys this banker’s avoidance of answering his questions. This needs to happen infinite times more than it currently is…

First, the transcripts; below them is the video

 

Vincent Browne: “Klaus Masuch, did your taxi driver tell you how the Irish people are bewildered that we are required to pay unguaranteed bondholders billions of euros for debts that the Irish people have no relation to or no bearing with, primarily to bail out or to ensure the solvency of European banks? And if the taxi driver had asked you that question, what would have been your response? That’s my first question.”

Barbara Nolan: “Well, well, well, can we take a couple together? Can you ask the second question?”

VB: “Well, my second question is a completely different issue and it may have a follow-through if Mr Masuch doesn’t answer the question in a way that would illuminate the taxi driver’s understanding of all this, I would have a follow-through question.”

Nolan: “Right, can I ask you then to pass the mic, and we’ll come back to you for the second question?”

Browne: “Well, if you don’t mind, that’s a way of breaking up the exchange, and I would prefer if it went this way: We’ve a tradition in Irish journalism that we pursue issues and that when somebody doesn’t ask [answer] a question we follow through on it and I hope that tradition will be respected on this occasion. So could you answer the question?”

Masuch: “I have answered a very similar question of you – I think it was two reviews ago – and can…”

Browne: “[inaudible] the question”

Masuch: “… and I answered it. I can understand that this is a difficult decision to be made by the government and there’s no doubt about it but there are different aspects of the problem to be, to be balanced against each other and I can understand that the government came to, came to the view that, all in all, the costs for the, for Irish people, for the, for the stability of the banking system, for the confidence in the banking system of taking a certain action in this respect which you are mentioning could likely have been much bigger than the benefits for the taxpayer which of course would have been there. So the financial sector would have been affected; the confidence of the financial sector would have been negatively affected, and I can understand that there were, that there was a difficult decision but that the decision was taken in this direction.”

Browne: “That, that… Well, that doesn’t address the issue. We are required to pay, in respect of a defunct bank – that has no bearing on the welfare of the Irish people at all – we are required to pay in respect of this defunct bank, billions on unguaranteed bonds in order to ensure the health of European banks. Now how would you explain that situation to the taxi driver that you talked about earlier?”

Masuch: “I think I have addressed [looking to Barbara Nolan] the question.”

Browne: “No you haven’t addressed the question because you referred to the viability of the Irish financial institutions. This financial institution I’m talking about is defunct. It’s over. It’s finished. Now, why are the Irish people required, under threat from the ECB, why are the Irish people required to pay billions to unguaranteed bondholders under threat from the ECB?”

Masuch: [silence]

Browne: “You didn’t answer the question the last time so maybe you’ll answer it this time.”

Masuch: [mutters to Barbara Nolan]

Nolan: “Well, I think he doesn’t have anything to add to what he’s already said. Can I.. [pointing at another questioner]”

Browne: “Well, just a minute now. This isn’t, this isn’t good enough… You people are intervening in this society causing huge damage by requiring us to make payments not for the benefit of anybody in Ireland but for the benefit of European financial institutions. Now, could you explain why the Irish people are inflicted with this burden?”

Manusch: “Well, I think I have addressed the question.”

Browne: “You’ve nothing to say. There’s no answer, is that right? Is that it? No answer?”

Manusch: “I have given an answer”

Browne: “You have given an answer that didn’t address the question.”

Nolan: “That’s your view.”

Browne: “That is my view and I think it would be the view of the taxi driver and a few of our viewers tonight.”

Nolan: “Right. Can we please move on??

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Protecting Credit Cards From RFID Scanning Theft

For as long as civilizations have used money – from ancient coins to modern paper bills – there have been pickpockets. Stealing cash by stealth from individuals as they go about in public has been a form of robbery for literally thousands of years, but with the recent introduction of “smart” contactless credit cards, a new form of electronic pickpocketing has become even easier.

It is now possible for someone to have their pocket “picked” from a distance, without the thief even having to physically touch the victim’s wallet. Fortunately, there are ways to protect from this new high-tech pickpocketing.

Credit cards were originally conceived of not just a way of borrowing money, or at least deferring payment by the consumer, but also as more convenient and safer than carrying cash. Even if a card owner was robbed or otherwise lost the card, a quick telephone call would cancel the card and render it useless.

A weakness in the security system began to be exploited in the 1960s, though, when transactions required an imprint of the card and a signature by the card holder on three copies of the receipt: one each for the card holder, the merchant and the bank.

Thieves discovered that a record of the card number and signature were available on the carbon paper used between these copies. This security flaw was plugged by paperless scanning technology, introduced with magnetic strips attached to the back of the card. The data was read electronically by a reader when the card was swiped during the purchase transaction, without the need of any paper records.

In the late 1990s, a new form of smart credit cards began to be introduced into the marketplace. These use radio frequency identification (RFID) microchips imbedded into the card. These chips carry much more information about the credit card account, are more difficult and expensive to counterfeit and were much easier and faster to use when charging a purchase: The card no longer had to be swiped through a reader, but merely waved in front of a reader which would electronically query the microchip for the information required to complete the transaction.

Unfortunately, this “contactless” technology also exposes the cardholders to a new form of fraud: If they can be read by authorized readers, the cards can also be read by unauthorized ones and the information used to make fraudulent purchases. It is pickpocketing crossed with identify theft.

With an easily-obtained contactless credit card reader, a laptop computer containing the required software and memory and a power source, a credit card thief can read and record the information from credit cards, right through the cloth and leather of pockets, purses, briefcases and bags of anyone just a few feet away.

All the thief has to do is carry their credit card trapping system unobtrusively in a crowd – from a mall to the lobby of a hotel – and he can harvest a large number of data sets.

The reader’s signal identifies queries and records the information from the RFID chips, including the credit card number, expiration date, name of the card holder and a one-time CVV security code. The only defense the contactless chips offer is that the CVV code can only be used once, for the next transaction; if the card holder uses the card for another transaction before the thief does, the system will note the discrepancy and automatically block any transaction with that card number.

Of course, the work-around for a credit card thief is to have a set of fraudulent transactions pre-loaded in their systems, to allow the card number to be used as soon as it is stolen.

Anyone whose credit card has an RFID chip imbedded is at risk for this form of fraud. How do they know if their cards use this technology? It’s difficult to know: While some smart contactless cards are marked with names such as “PayPass” or logos marked with “RFID” or “Radio,” the issuers are not required to identify the cards using this technology.

With nearly 400 million credit card accounts active in the United States, as of the third quarter of 2013 (the most recent period for which there are data), the number of smart contactless cards that are potentially open to theft is very large.

Fortunately, there are products already on the market to guard against unauthorized RFID scanning and data theft. Protective sleeves for individual cards or multiple cards, wallets and even money belts are readily available on the market.

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These are made from material that blocks the signals from the readers, preventing the data on the chips from being transferred. If used consistently, they will frustrate electronic pickpockets.

References:

“Magnetic stripe card,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, published (revised) April 9, 2014, accessed May 20, 2014

“Outdated Magnetic Strips: How U.S. Credit Card Security Lags,” Alan Yu, NPR, published December 19, 2014, accessed May 20, 2014

“Hacker’s Demo Shows How Easily Credit Cards Can Be Read Through Clothes And Wallets,” Andy Greenberg, Forbes, published January 30, 2012, accessed May 20, 2014  

“Products block unauthorized RFID reading of contactless cards,” Homeland Security News Wire, published May 21, 2009, accessed May 20, 2014

“Credit card statistics, industry facts, debt statistics,” Daniel P. Ray and Yasmin Ghahremani,CreditCards.com, published May 20, 2014, accessed May 20, 2014

Why We Won’t Have a “Lehman Moment” in the 2016 Crash

This is a re-post of the article submitted by Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds.

One way to lose a war is to focus on preparing to fight the last war.
“The last war” in 2008-09 was a battle to save heavily leveraged centralized financial institutions from default and liquidation.


There won’t be a “Lehman Moment” in the 2016 meltdown…

What the central banks cannot do is create productive places to invest the credit they’ve generated in such excess, or force qualified borrowers to swallow more unproductive debt.

One way to lose a war is to focus on preparing to fight the last war. Preparing to fight the last war is a characteristic of losing generals, militaries and nations. The same is true of finance and economies.

General Grant’s difficulties in breaking the trench warfare around Petersburg, VA in the last year of the American Civil War (1864 to early 1865) telegraphed the future of trench warfare to astute observers. Few took heed of the lessons of the “first modern war,” and many of the same strategies of 1864 (digging a tunnel under enemy lines and filling the tunnel with explosives to blow a hole through their defenses, for example) were repeated in the Great War of 1914-1918 fifty years later.

When a weapon system capable of breaking the stalemate emerged–the tank–its potential for massed attack escaped planners on both sides, and the new weapon was squandered in piecemeal assaults.

“The last war” in 2008-09 was a battle to save heavily leveraged centralized financial institutions from default and liquidation–commercial and investment banks, insurance companies, etc. The concentration of capital, leverage and risk in these behemoths rendered the entire system vulnerable to their collapse (or so we were told).

Saving imploding private-sector banks was no problem for central banks that could create $1 trillion in new money with the push of a button and offer essentially unlimited lines of credit to banks facing a liquidity crunch.

But the current financial meltdown is not like the last war. Central banks are ready to extend unlimited credit again to private-sector financial institutions, but this time around, the problem won’t be a lack of liquidity.

By refusing to allow a house-cleaning of risk, leverage and mal-investment, central planners have simply pushed the risk into systems they don’t control: foreign-exchange (FX) currency markets, shadow banking and the economy that depends not just on available credit but the willingness of qualified borrowers to take on the risks and costs of more debt.

Central banks have created abundant credit and liquidity, but no productive places to invest that ocean of nearly free money

Creating abundant credit works to spur growth when growth has been restrained by a lack of credit.

But when credit has been abundant for decades, what’s scarce isn’t credit–it’s productive investments that are scarce.Central banks are powerless to create productive uses for the credit they create.

The inevitable consequence of this failed strategic error is defeat. Central banks issued trillions of dollars, yuan, euros and yen in new credit to stave off defeat in the last war (the Global Financial Meltdown of 2008-09), but the problem wasn’t a lack of credit. Now, seven years into the strategy of flooding the global economy with credit, the problem is a scarcity of productive uses for all that money sloshing around the global economy.

There won’t be a “Lehman Moment” in the 2016 meltdown, because central banks can prop up or “save” any new Lehman with a few keystrokes.

What the central banks cannot do is create productive places to invest the credit they’ve generated in such excess, or force qualified borrowers to swallow more unproductive debt.

The global economy is choking not just on an excess of debt, it’s also choking on the consequences of an unprecedented mal-investment of the credit central banks have issued in such over-abundance.

Issuing more credit will only make the 2016 crash worse. Trying to stop the current crash with more credit and lower interest rates is like sending the cavalry on suicide charges against entrenched machine guns, artillery and tanks. The coming financial slaughter will be as senseless, wasteful and ineffective as any suicide attack in the Great War.

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