From: larry.r.trout

'Three operators of a ticket scalping agency have pleaded guilty to charges that they illegally used computer scripts to bypass CAPTCHA — the squiggly letters and numbers websites display to prove a visitor is human — and automatically purchase thousands of tickets from Ticketmaster and other vendors to resell them.

Kenneth Lowson, 41, Kristofer Kirsch, 37, who owned and operated Wiseguy Tickets, pleaded guilty on Thursday in New Jersey to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and hacking. Joel Stevenson, 37, who earned $150,000 as the outfit's chief computer programmer and system administrator, also pleaded guilty to one count of hacking. A fourth defendant, Faisal Nadhi, the outfit's chief financial officer, has not been apprehended.

Lowson and Kirsch face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Stevenson faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. Lowson agreed to surrender more than $1.2 million in proceeds from the crimes. Sentencing for all three defendants is set for March 15, 2011.

The defendants were indicted last March for an elaborate scheme that used a network of bots and other deceptive means to bypass CAPTCHA and grab more than 1 million tickets for concerts and sporting events. They were able to impersonate thousands of individual ticket buyers, defeating the security and fraud measures that online ticket vendors such as Ticketmaster, Musictoday and Tickets.com put in place to thwart automated ticket buying. According to prosecutors, they made more than $25 million in profits from the resale of the tickets between 2002 and 2009.

In bringing charges, prosecutors pushed the envelope on the federal computer hacking law by asserting that bypassing CAPTCHA constituted unauthorized access of ticket seller servers, according to policy groups who filed an amicus brief in the case to back the defendant's motion to have the charges dismissed.'


Fwd: "Crazy Bad"

From: larry.r.trout

'Pollution in Beijing was so bad Friday that the U.S. Embassy, which has been independently monitoring air quality, ran out of conventional adjectives to describe it, at one point saying it was "crazy bad."

The embassy, which issues hourly pollution reports via Twitter, later deleted the phrase from a  post, replacing it with "beyond index," and saying it was an "incorrect" description. The embassy said it would also revise the language to use when the air quality index goes above 500, its highest point and a level considered hazardous for all people by U.S. standards. '



From: larry.r.trout

'He also highlighted that the administration's approach to anti-terror legalities is riddled with absurd inconsistencies.

On the one hand, Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presided at Ghailani's trial, barred prosecutors from presenting a key witness - the man who sold Ghailani explosives - on the ground that the government discovered who the witness was when the CIA subjected Ghailani to rough questioning.

On the other hand, Kaplan expressed the view that the U.S. could legally hold Ghailani without a criminal conviction as an enemy combatant.

On the one hand, full constitutional rights for Ghailani. On the other hand, lock him away, in Kaplan's words, "until hostilities between the United States and Al Qaeda and the Taliban end."

Even more schizoid, President Obama has properly marked for death radical Islamist preacher Anwar al-Awlaki and has ordered unmanned drones to rain down hellfire on Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in Pakistan.

They get no warning, much less an opportunity to have a lawyer challenge the evidence against them. But the administration stands ready to provide the full suite of constitutional and procedural protections to KSM, the man who orchestrated the act of war that killed 3,000 people.

It adds up to an illogical and destructive mess.

Trying terrorists in civilian courts has won the U.S. nothing. It hasn't affirmed American values, it has confused them. It hasn't put America in the world's good graces, and, even if it had, the potential prices are way too high.

This is war, and war is not waged in court. Those who attack are not criminals. They are caught not by cops who gather evidence in nice little baggies, but by military personnel or CIA operatives concerned with stopping the next attack.

They are sometimes held in CIA black sites, or at Guantanamo, where they are squeezed for intelligence. They are square pegs. It is a terrible, historic mistake to try to force them into the round holes of the civilian justice system.'



Nissan's all-electric Leaf sparks quest for plug-in power - Future of Energy


common ICBM launches

From: Cindy Trout

Missile and satellite launches are routine along the California coast.

The area of ocean perceived as the seeming liftoff point Monday night is in the vicinity of a Navy ocean range where missiles are often launched from vessels, platforms and San Nicolas Island.

Up the coast is Vandenberg Air Force Base, where satellites are lofted into polar orbit and intercontinental ballistic missiles are launched on unarmed test flights to targets thousands of miles away in the Pacific Ocean. Three ICBMS were launched between June and September.

Many of these launches are invisible to the metropolitan area, shrouded by the layer of moist marine air that often rolls in from the Pacific. Others are lost in the brightness of daytime.

But launches on very clear nights or at twilight sometimes trigger numerous calls to media or authorities reporting unusual sky sightings from hundreds of miles away, even from neighboring states.

No such spontaneous public response occurred Monday night in the nation's second-largest city, suggesting that the image captured by the airborne camera was not apparent to ground observers'




It was US Airways flight 808



From: larry.r.trout@

'FOX Business' top legal analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano, notes that "the Supreme Court has never ruled on the constitutionality of the Federal Reserve, believe it or not. But the lower federal courts that have addressed the issue have found it to be constitutional by employing the argument that Congress can enter into a contract with private entities to perform governmental services; and that is what it has done with the private bankers who own and operate and profit greatly from the Fed."

Fox Business news director Ray Hennessey notes that in 1952, Rep. John Wright Patman of Texas, who was head of what was then called the House Committee on Banking and Currency, crystallized the argument, saying, "In the United States we have, in effect, two governments. We have the duly constituted Government. Then we have an independent, uncontrolled and uncoordinated government in the Federal Reserve System, operating the money powers which are reserved to Congress by the Constitution."

The U.S. central bank grudgingly bought U.S. debt during the Great Depression under pressure from Congress to battle deflation—a playbook Bernanke is following now.

Between 1926 and 1929, the Fed bought $1.7 billion in US debt, but then ramped that up from $729 million to $1.8 billion in 1933, averaging $2.4 billion in purchases every year after that until 1941.'

While these moves helped lower interest costs corporate debt "and appeared to arrest the decline in prices and economic activity," Bernanke said. "Fed officials remained ambivalent about their policy of monetary expansion. Some viewed the Depression as the necessary purging of financial excesses built up during the 1920s..slowing the economic collapse by easing monetary policy only delayed the inevitable adjustment."

The Fed also bought U.S. debt in the 1940s to keep interest rates low after World War II, a move some economists say helped usher in the post-war economic boom.

And back in the 1970s, it was Congress that pressured the Fed into adding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac securities to its portfolio in order to help develop the market for those mortgage-backed securities. That was unpopular with the Fed at the time too.'


Two Quotes

From: larry.r.trout@

A Tale of two quotes:

'But Doug Richardson, the editor of Jane's Missiles and Rockets, examined the video for the Times of London and said he was left with little doubt.

"It's a solid propellant missile," he told the Times. "You can tell from the efflux [smoke]."

Richardson said it could have been a ballistic missile launched from a submarine or an interceptor, the defensive anti-missile weapon used by Navy surface ships.


'But John Pike, a defense expert who is director of GlobalSecurity.org, said he believes he has solved the mystery.

"It's clearly an airplane contrail," Pike said Tuesday afternoon. "It's an optical illusion that looks like it's going up, whereas in reality it's going toward the camera. The tip of the contrail is moving far too slowly to be a rocket. When it's illuminated by the sunset, you can see hundreds of miles of it ... all the way to the horizon.

"Why the government is so badly organized that they can't get somebody out there to explain it and make this story go away. ... I think that's the real story," Pike added. "I mean, it's insane that with all the money we are spending, all these technically competent people, that they can't get somebody out there to explain what is incredibly obvious."'


Navy to assist stranded cruise ship