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The Bitcoin Foundation is out of cash, says board member

 Bitcoin  Comments Off on The Bitcoin Foundation is out of cash, says board member
Apr 082015
 

The Bitcoin Foundation, an organization that promotes development of bitcoin, is effectively bankrupt and has shed most of its staff, a member of the foundations board of directors has said.

Two other board members, however, said the foundation was not bankrupt, though in need of some kind of restructuring.

The outburst by Olivier Janssens, who was elected to the board last month, is the latest in a series of controversies surrounding the foundation, which was founded in the U.S. in 2012 as a nonprofit entity.

The foundation has almost no money left, and just fired 90 percent of its people. Some will stay on as volunteers, Janssens wrote in a blog post on the foundations forum.

The Bitcoin Foundation hates transparency, he added. If they would have been transparent then everyone would know there is no money left.

Janssens attributed the foundations financial straits to two years of ridiculous spending and poorly thought out decisions, adding that the board has tried to remedy the situation by finding a new executive director. He called for the replacement of the entire board.

Described as a bitcoin millionaire, Janssens wrote that he will donate several 100k to a special trust fund aimed at supporting core development of the digital currency and supplemented by crowdfunding efforts.

The foundation did not immediately respond to a request for information about Janssens post. But Patrick Murck, its executive director, wrote in a response to Janssens post, The foundation is not bankrupt, but a restructuring is needed. Olivier basically jumped in front of our announcements on that and our annual report on the 2014 finances to be released next week, and he spun it very very negative.

While saying that the money has basically run out, board member Gavin Adresen wrote in another response that The foundation isnt bankrupt, but the board needs to decide whether the responsible thing to do is to continue the organization with a much smaller organization and vision or to dissolve it.

The Bitcoin Foundation is no stranger to controversy. Among its founding members are Charlie Shrem, who pleaded guilty to transmitting money linked to the Silk Road online drugs site, and Mark Karpeles, who presided over the collapse of MtGox, once the worlds largest trading place for bitcoin.

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The Bitcoin Foundation is out of cash, says board member

Coinbase to launch first licensed U.S. Bitcoin exchange

 Bitcoin  Comments Off on Coinbase to launch first licensed U.S. Bitcoin exchange
Jan 262015
 

Bitcoin wallet provider Coinbase will launch the first U.S. licensed exchange for the digital currency on Monday, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

While pointing to a Lunar teaser website with a clock counting down to 9 a.m. Eastern Time Monday, Coinbases Twitter account also posted a link to documentation for Coinbase Exchange, calling them API docs for our new project.

The move by Coinbase follows plans announced last week for Gemini, a regulated Bitcoin exchange in New York that is backed by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, and reflects a movement to get financial authorities behind Bitcoin amid continued price declines, hacking and criminal cases as well as the collapse of mammoth Japan-based exchange MtGox 11 months ago.

That would go against Bitcoins founding philosophy as an unregulated, anonymous currency, but if Bitcoins latest price movements are any indication, traders dont seem to mind. Bitcoin jumped over US$30 on Monday, touching a high of $290 on tracking site CoinDesk. It hit $177 earlier this month, its lowest in over a year.

The Coinbase founders have regulatory approval in half of U.S. states including jurisdictions with big cities in New York and California, according to the Journal. The API (application programmer interface) documents show that the exchange will have no trading fees during a promotional period, after which it will charge 0.25 percent.

Coinbase already claims 2.2 million consumer wallets, 38,000 merchants and 7,000 developer apps. Last week, it announced it had raised $75 million from investors including The New York Stock Exchange, calling it the first time financial institutions made a major investment in a Bitcoin firm.

2015 will be the year when institutional investors began moving into Bitcoin in large numbers, Jeff Garzik, a Bitcoin developer, said via email.

Buying and trading bitcoins in the United States has always been a hassle, with many using overseas exchanges.Buying local is always more efficient, involves fewer fees, and is more likely to be compliant with the laws of your jurisdiction.These two exchanges will make Bitcoin more accessible to a huge target market.

Coinbase did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

Tim Hornyak reports on IT, telecommunications, science, and technology in Japan for the IDG News Service. More by Tim Hornyak

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Coinbase to launch first licensed U.S. Bitcoin exchange

Sen. Dan Sullivan amends proposed bill to disarm EPA agents

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Jan 242015
 

ANCHORAGE Alaskas freshman senator has filed his first amendment, and it is aimed at keeping firearms out of the hands of Environmental Protection Agency agents.

Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan said Friday he filed the amendment to follow through with a promise he made while campaigning in Fairbanks last fall. The idea to disarm the EPA came after agents swept into the mining town of Chicken wearing body armor and carrying rifles in August 2013 while investigating possible violations of the Clean Water Act, Sullivan said.

The amendment is attached to a larger bill that would authorize the Keystone XL pipeline.

In fall 2013, miners in the Chicken area told the Daily News-Miner they felt intimidated by the agents, who, in some cases, did not identify themselves when arriving at mines in all-terrain vehicles. An EPA spokesperson described the discussions as consensual and cordial.

The investigation was based on reports of mines with a history of not complying with state and federal clean water laws and ongoing significant discharges, the EPA said in a written statement in September 2013.

There have been no federal charges or arrests, at least so far, as a result of the investigation.

Asked about the raid and Sullivans amendment Friday, an EPA spokeswoman referred questions to agency officials in Washington, D.C., who did not respond to a request for comment by late Friday.

Sullivan said in a phone interview the issue, while important to Alaska and its miners, goes beyond the incident in Chicken.

I think theres this conventional wisdom that the federal government is always growing, always into new areas, always gaining new responsibilities, Sullivan said. Part of what I ran on is that is not some kind of law of nature. We can roll back some of the responsibilities and authorities of the federal government.

Looking at the history of the EPA, which was formed in the early 1970s, it was not until the late 1980s that the agents were authorized to carry firearms, said Sullivan, who had researched the congressional hearings from that time. Originally, the authorization was to protect agents investigating hazardous waste dumps connected to the mafia, he said.

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Sen. Dan Sullivan amends proposed bill to disarm EPA agents

NSA Officials: Snowden Emailed With Question, Not Concern

 NSA  Comments Off on NSA Officials: Snowden Emailed With Question, Not Concern
Jan 152015
 

The Obama administration on Thursday released an email sent by Edward Snowden to the NSA’s general counsel last year – an important document in the debate over whether the leaker of classified government documents attempted to raise questions “through channels” about the agency’s domestic surveillance programs.

The email is the lone document found so far, according to U.S. officials, that could be seen as offering support for Snowden’s claim that he attempted to alert officials at the NSA to what he considered improper or illegal domestic surveillance by the agency before he began leaking the secret documents.

The document is a request for clarification about a legal point in training materials for a mandatory course regarding policies and procedures restricting domestic surveillance by the NSA. The lack of context surrounding the email leaves room for interpretation on Snowden’s motives for making the inquiry.

In an exclusive interview with NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams last week in Moscow that was broadcast Wednesday night, Snowden said he had warned the NSA, while working as an contractor, that he felt the agency was overstepping its bounds.

“I actually did go through channels, and that is documented,” he asserted. “The NSA has records, they have copies of emails right now to their Office of General Counsel, to their oversight and compliance folks, from me raising concerns about the NSA’s interpretations of its legal authorities. The response more or less, in bureaucratic language, was, ‘You should stop asking questions.'”

But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, issued a statement on Thursday saying that the email does not support Snowden’s account.

“The email, provided to the committee by the NSA on April 10, 2014, poses a question about the relative authority of laws and executive orders it does not register concerns about NSA’s intelligence activities, as was suggested by Snowden in an NBC interview this week,” she said.

The NSA released this Edward Snowden email to the Office of General Counsel asking for an explanation of some material that was in a training course he had just completed, Thursday May 29, 2014.

U.S. officials initially disputed Snowden’s claim that he had raised such questions, telling the Washington Post six months ago that no evidence of Snowden’s alleged objection existed. “After extensive investigation, including interviews with his former NSA supervisors and co-workers, we have not found any evidence to support Mr. Snowden’s contention that he brought these matters to anyone’s attention,” said the agency in a statement

Snowden sent the email released Thursday to the NSA’s lawyers on April 5, 2013, while he was on temporary assignment at NSA headquarters in Ft. Meade, Md.

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NSA Officials: Snowden Emailed With Question, Not Concern

Canadian exchange to shut as Bitcoin bad news continues

 Bitcoin  Comments Off on Canadian exchange to shut as Bitcoin bad news continues
Jan 062015
 

Canadian Bitcoin exchange Vault of Satoshi is shutting down next month in the latest bad news to hit the cryptocurrency.

The operators of the exchange said they are focusing on another business project that began six months ago, one that is not related to cryptocurrency.

Run by Global CryptoCurrency Solutions, the Brantford, Ontario-based exchange is no longer accepting new deposits and will close Feb. 5.

Wed like to reassure the community that it has absolutely nothing to do with insolvency, stolen funds, or any other unfortunate scenario, the operators wrote in a post. Our decision stems from opportunities presented by a new business that has forced us to reexamine our priorities.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for more information. Its cofounder Michael Curry is also behind TurboFlix, a Web service that allows Canadians to watch Netflix content available in other countries.

Vault of Satoshi launched in October 2013 and describes itself as the first full proof-of-reserve exchange in the industry.

Its closure comes as European Bitcoin exchange Bitstamp said in a post that some of its operational wallets were compromised Jan. 4, leading to a loss of less than 19,000 bitcoins, which is roughly US$5.1 million.

The bulk of our bitcoin are in cold storage, and remain completely safe, Bitstamp co-founder Nejc Kodric wrote in a Twitter message.

The exchange, launched in August 2011, had tried to reassure customers that their coins are safe after a breach over the weekend forced it to suspend operations on Monday.

Bitstamp added that it is investigating the matter and communicating with law enforcement officials.

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Canadian exchange to shut as Bitcoin bad news continues

NSA targeted Chinese tech giant Huawei

 NSA  Comments Off on NSA targeted Chinese tech giant Huawei
Dec 242014
 

US intelligence agencies hacked into the email servers of Chinese tech giant Huawei five years ago, around the time concerns were growing in Washington that the telecommunications equipment manufacturer was a threat to US national security, a report says.

The National Security Agency began targeting Huawei in early 2009 and quickly succeeded in gaining access to the company’s client lists and email archive, German weekly Der Spiegel reported on Saturday, citing secret US intelligence documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Among the people whose emails the NSA was able to read were Huawei president Ren Zhengfei, the magazine said.

The operation, which Der Spiegel claims was co-ordinated with the CIA, FBI and White House officials, also netted source codes for Huawei products.

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One aim was to exploit the fact that Huawei equipment is widely used to route voice and data traffic around the world, according to the report.

But the NSA was also concerned that the Chinese government itself might use Huawei’s presence in foreign networks for espionage purposes, it said.

In 2012, the House Intelligence Committee recommended that Huawei be barred from doing business in the US, citing the threat that its equipment could enable Chinese intelligence services to tamper with American communications networks.

Huawei didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment late on Saturday.

In January, the company rejected a previous Der Spiegel report claiming that its equipment was vulnerable to hacking.

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NSA targeted Chinese tech giant Huawei

Examining the free speech area on campus

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Examining the free speech area on campus
Oct 182014
 

The arrival of outside demonstrators at Tech last week, sparked a discussion on campus about free speech as several student groups organized counter-protests and alternate programming. Among the most controversial parts of the Southeast Preachers Associations (SOPA) comments were those made against gays and lesbians, which many students called anti-gay and hateful.

So these people, due to their first amendment free speech laws are allowed to come out here and preach hate and we figured it would not be right if some Tech students did not come out and preach love as well, said Schuyler Cottrell, a first year ME student and counter-protestor.

One particular issue was the attempted scheduling of a drum circle near the small amphitheater, often called the free speech area. According to Lisa Ray Grovenstein, Media Relations Director, Capital Planning and Space Management denied a request for students to play drums during SOPAs event.

Since playing the drums would have been either disruptive or would have interfered with the lawful use of the free speech space, the request was not approved, Grovenstein said.

Despite this, several students exercised their speech rights in a counterprotest. Around a hundred students sat in the bleachers of the amphitheater, holding signs saying things such as Jesus had two dads and you had me at meat tornado, and engaging with the demonstrators.

According to Techs Free Expression policy, Georgia Tech holds the first amendment guarantees of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and the right to assemble peaceably as an essential cornerstone to the advancement of knowledge and the right of a free people.

What you need to remember is the policy is that we are for free speech and we dont try to control the content of anybodys speech, said Gary Wolovick, an attorney for the Office of Legal Affairs.

Although outside groups must be allowed to demonstrate on campus, outside groups must reserve space in advance, and the spaces they can reserve are usually limited to the Free Speech Areas, usually the small amphitheater where SOPA was demonstrating.

The procedure really has to do with time place and manner, Wolovick said. It really has to do with making sure that the space isnt being used by somebody else or that space is adequate.

Tech students and staff are less limited in the time and places they can protest, demonstrate or otherwise exercise their free speech rights.

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Examining the free speech area on campus

Bitcoin 'inventor' plans to sue Newsweek

 Bitcoin  Comments Off on Bitcoin 'inventor' plans to sue Newsweek
Oct 142014
 

A screenshot of Dorian Nakamoto’s website, which is soliciting donations for a lawsuit against Newsweek.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

Dorian Nakamoto, the subject of a March Newsweek cover story entitled “The Face Behind Bitcoin,” is soliciting donations online to fund a lawsuit against the publication. He claims he had nothing to do with the creation of the digital currency, and says Newsweek “must be held accountable for its reckless reporting.”

Nakamoto is accepting donations via credit card, check, money order or — of course — bitcoins.

Bitcoin was created in 2009, but its founder has always been shrouded in secrecy. While its creator was identified as “Satoshi Nakamoto,” the popular assumption was that the name was only a pseudonym.

Related: What is Bitcoin?

That changed following the publication of Newsweek’s article, the result of a lengthy investigation and interviews with Nakamoto’s family members. But Nakamoto’s website says he and his family members were misquoted, and that he was “victimized by a reckless news organization.”

Newsweek did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nakamoto acknowledges that a number of details in the Newsweek article are correct, including his background as an engineer and the fact that he once worked for a defense contractor. But the basic premise about his role in creating the currency, he says, is completely false.

“Newsweek’s article terrorized both Dorian and his family, all of them private citizens,” the website says.

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AMES BROTHERS – Sing Me a Song of the Islands (1951) – Video

 Islands  Comments Off on AMES BROTHERS – Sing Me a Song of the Islands (1951) – Video
Sep 242014
 



AMES BROTHERS – Sing Me a Song of the Islands (1951)
We had a request for this beautiful song by the Ames Brothers, and we are pleased to make it available.

By: verycoolsound

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AMES BROTHERS – Sing Me a Song of the Islands (1951) – Video

NATO Chief: Alliance Would Consider Intervention in Iraq

 NATO  Comments Off on NATO Chief: Alliance Would Consider Intervention in Iraq
Sep 042014
 

TIME World Iraq NATO Chief: Alliance Would Consider Intervention in Iraq NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, front left, speaks with U.S. President Barack Obama, front right, as they arrives for a group photo during a NATO summit on the grounds of the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales on Thursday, Sept. 4. Jon SuperAP The statements come as NATO meets to plan its withdrawal from Afghanistan.

NATO Secretary-General Andesr Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday that the alliance would consider containing Islamist militants in Iraq if the Iraqi government requested NATOs help.

Im sure that if the Iraqi government were to forward a request for NATO assistance, that would be considered seriously by NATO allies, Rasmussen said on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

NATO leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, are in Wales for a summit to plan the winding down of operations in Afghanistan and respond to the crisis in Ukraine. But Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote in the Times of London on Thursday that their countries will not be cowed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, the militant group that has seized parts of northern Iraq and killed at least two American journalists.

Rasmussen said the international community has an obligation to stop the Islamic State from advancing further, though NATO leaders have so far not proposed specific joint action, according to the AP.

The U.S. has launched limited strikes against ISIS in Iraq, and Obama has said he is considering expanding military operations against ISIS to Syria.

[AP]

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NATO Chief: Alliance Would Consider Intervention in Iraq

QuickCoin app lets users send bitcoin through Facebook

 Bitcoin  Comments Off on QuickCoin app lets users send bitcoin through Facebook
May 272014
 

If youre intrigued by Bitcoin but daunted by how transactions work, theres an app for thatand its on Facebook.

QuickCoin lets users move the cryptocurrency around for free through the social network. Its a simple process of logging into an account, choosing a Facebook friend and sending bitcoin.

The accounts, called social wallets, display bitcoin in U.S. dollars and in bits, which are defined as 0.000001 bitcoin. That means US$5 would show up as roughly 8,548 bits instead of a fraction of one bitcoin.

One bitcoin was worth about $583 on Tuesday, according to CoinDesks Bitcoin tracking index.

The app is designed to work on any device or platform and is being positioned as a way of simplifying Bitcoin for mainstream adoption since Facebook claims 1.28 billion active monthly users.

You dont need to know how DNS works to surf the internet, so why should you have to know how Bitcoin works to use Bitcoin? QuickCoin cofounder Marshall Hayner said in an online chat.

The answer is clear: you shouldnt have to. We realized if we could make something that makes sense for everyone to use, we could reach a large audience with an amazing world-changing technology, and thats what we seek to do.

The app is using Facebooks API (application programming interface) and does not require the social media companys approval, according to Hayner. Its has been running for about a week and Facebook has not contacted the company so far.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

QuickCoin is a self-funded San Francisco-based startup thats being advised by Jackson Palmer, the creator of cryptocurrency Dogecoin.

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QuickCoin app lets users send bitcoin through Facebook

NZAid funds Cook Islands PM's pearl farm

 Islands  Comments Off on NZAid funds Cook Islands PM's pearl farm
May 212014
 

The Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna is set to get an estimated $116,000 worth of equipment and loan funding from NZAid for his pearl farm in Manihiki, despite an apparent conflict of interest.

The payment is part of a Grant Funding Arrangement (GFA) signed between the Cook Islands and New Zealand in 2013, which gave $1.7 million to the Cook Islands as part of the Pearl Revitalisation Project.

A requirement of the GFA was that all conflicts of interest were to be declared to the New Zealand Government. However, Mr Puna’s involvement in his pearl farm was not.

According to a document supplied by the Cook Islands’ Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) in Rarotonga, Mr Puna put in a request for a $38,000 boat, an $18,000 outboard motor and $30,000 worth of building material to upgrade his seeding house.

The document shows the equipment Mr Puna requested was worth more than twice as much as that asked for by most other pearl farmers. He also requested $18,393.75 as part of an emergency float loan.

Financial secretary of the Cook Islands Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Richard Neve says the final list of equipment was approved by the Manihiki Pearl Farmers Association (MPFA), which 23 of 24 pearl farmers are members of including Mr Puna.

“This equipment has been put out in a series of public tenders … endorsed by MPFA, and procured by MFED.”

Mr Neve disputed that Mr Puna will be receiving over $100,000 worth of financial support, but the document provided by MMR says otherwise.

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) said in response to an Official Information Act request that Mr Puna was not on the list of those declared to have a conflict of interest.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says it is well known that Mr Puna’s family is involved in pearl farming.

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NZAid funds Cook Islands PM's pearl farm

Osceola Clerk Ramirez gets public record advice

 Misc  Comments Off on Osceola Clerk Ramirez gets public record advice
Mar 272014
 

Armando Ramirez (November 13, 2013)

Osceola Clerk of Court Armando Ramirez received advice this week from the First Amendment Foundation on upholding the states public records laws.

The letter from the state watchdog was written in the wake of Orange-Osceola State Attorney Jeff Ashtons critical review last month of Ramirezs commitment to the publics right to review and obtain government records.

These are extremely worrisome allegations, Mr. Ramirez, and it would appear the only reason criminal charges werent filed is because there wasnt sufficient evidence to move forward, wrote Barbara A. Peterson, president of the First Amendment Foundation.Like Mr. Ashton, we are very concerned with the gravity of these allegations which suggest, at the very least, a lack of education and training of your staff on the requirements of Floridas public records law, in not a disregard for the publics constitutional right of access to government records.

The letter came less than a month after Ramirez fired staff attorney, Adam Alvarez, after Alvarez warned against breaking public records law. Ramirez, a Democrat, took office last year and has fired six top aides while two others resigned.

On Wednesday afternoon, Ramirez did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the First Amendment Foundation letter.

In it, Peterson also wrote, You should be aware that, while State Attorney Jeffery Ashton has decided existed evidence is currently insufficient to bring criminal charges against you, we will continue to monitor your office and its compliance with the public records law. “Moreover, we strongly encourage you and your staff obtain additional public record and sunshine law training to ensure compliance with our constitutional right of access and governmental oversight.

Ramirez has not responded to a public records request filed last week by the Orlando Sentinel seeking information about the public record training he, Chief Deputy Clerk Jennifer Soto, and Human Resources Director Natalie Bryan have received since taking office.

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Osceola Clerk Ramirez gets public record advice

University in First-Amendment Clash With Donor Over Reference to God on Plaque

 Misc  Comments Off on University in First-Amendment Clash With Donor Over Reference to God on Plaque
Mar 042014
 

A constitutional melee has erupted at Purdue University in Indiana, which is under fire from a donor for deleting religious language from an honorary plaque against his wishes.

Lawyers for Purdue alumnus Michael McCracken say the public university is violating his First Amendment rights by refusing his request that a reference to Gods physical laws be included on a plaque in a conference room named after his parents.

The university agreed to install the plaque located in a new research building with an inscription of his choosing after Mr. McCracken and his wife made a pledge of $12,500 to Purdues School of Mechanical Engineering, according to a letter sent by his attorneys to a university attorney last week.

Mr. McCracken, who earned a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Purdue, asked that the conference room be named after his parents and requested that the plaque state: To those who seek to better the world through the understanding of Gods physical laws and innovation of practical solutions. In honor of Dr. William Ed and Glenda McCracken, according to the letter, written by Robert Kelner, a partner at Covington & Burling LLP.

Purdue rejected the language, claiming that the generic and nonsectarian reference to Gods physical laws amounted to an impermissible government endorsement of religion, according to Mr. Kelner. The plaque that was installed mentioned only Mr. McCrackens parents, he said.

The Universitys current position violates the McCrackens First Amendment rights, wrote Mr. Kelner in his letter. Mr.McCracken is also represented by the Liberty Institute,a conservative legal group.

The university didnt respond to a request for comment Monday. Purdues legal counsel told the Indianapolis Star in a statement that while Purdue has a great deal of understanding and sympathy for the disappointment of the McCracken family, it doubts thatthe courts would find this private speech as the donors counsel argues.

The universitys lawyer also expressed concern that if Purdue were to grant Mr. McCrackens request, the university would face lengthy and expensive litigation that would wipe out the value of this donation many times over.

Citing a 1995 First Amendment ruling handed down by the Supreme Court, Mr. Kelner wrote in his letter: The Supreme Court has made clear that private religious speech, far from being a First Amendment orphan, is as fully protected under the Free Speech Clause as secular private expression. By refusing to allow the McCrackens to refer to God on the plaque, the University has impermissibly prohibited private religious speech while at the same time permitting secular private expression in other plaques and forums.

Mr. Kelner said that in late January he suggested a different wording that would make it clearer that the university isnt endorsing the religious language on the plaque. It would read instead:

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University in First-Amendment Clash With Donor Over Reference to God on Plaque

No hiding place for Israelis' cash

 Tax Havens  Comments Off on No hiding place for Israelis' cash
Feb 212014
 

A new bill will allow the Tax Authority to share information with tax haven countries.

A government bill has been submitted to the Knesset to amend the Income Tax Ordinance, adding a chapter on the exchange of information under international conventions. This will allow the Israel Tax Authority to share information with tax authorities of other countries, including countries with which has no tax treaty, and including tax havens.

“This bill is revolutionary, because it gives the Tax Authority very broad powers to obtain information overseas, including in tax havens. It also allows it obtain information going back ten years, including on bank accounts that have closed and companies that are no longer in business, and to share confidential information about Israelis with the tax authorities of other countries,” says Israel Bar Association Tax Committee deputy chairwoman Adv. Shosh Shaham, and a member of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters. “When wealthy Israelis and tycoons put their money in tax havens around the world, they could not have imagined that they would be exposed.”

Under current law, the Tax Authority can only share information with foreign tax authorities through conventions for the prevention of double taxation with other signatory states. Israel has 52 such agreements, all of which include clauses for the sharing of information about money and assets.

Israel has no tax treaties with many other countries, including tax havens, such as Bermuda and Barbados, which levy little or no taxes on foreign residents. The Israel Tax Authority cannot obtain information about the money and assets of Israelis in these countries, except by signing an information sharing agreement. However, the current Income Tax Ordinance mandates the Tax Authority to maintain confidentiality on taxpayers.

“The bill was drafted, because it abolishes the duty of confidentiality, allowing the signing of reciprocal agreements independent of the convention,” says Shaham. She says that under these circumstances, people who have not yet disclosed their foreign assets to the Tax Authority should do so now, before the amendment is passed and comes into effect.

“This bill is an earthquake for Israeli business and wealthy individuals. Now is the last chance to submit a request for voluntary disclosure, which grants immunity from criminal prosecution with the tax settlement, because after the Tax Authority obtains the information there will be no more criminal immunity,” says Shaham.

Shaham says that the bill’s objective is important and essential to combat black capital held by Israelis overseas, which is estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars, and to bring it into the Israeli tax net. However, she warns, “There is the issue of balance and not harming the rights of the individual. The amount of information shared between the tax authorities is very extensive under the bill. It not only allows the sharing of existing information between tax authorities, but it also allows the sharing of information that they do not possess, and there is a need for checks and tax investigations at the demand of the other country to obtain it.”

The bill includes clauses to protect Israel’s security. It bans the Tax Authority from sharing information that is liable to harm Israel’s security, public safety, and ongoing investigations, or to share information without reciprocity. Shaham warns, however, “The bill has no clauses that protect Israeli taxpayers’ privacy.”

Shaham says that the bill must include a clause requiring the Tax Authority to notify taxpayers that it intends to provide a foreign tax authority with information about them.

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No hiding place for Israelis' cash

Nader has some Sirius issues with Liberty bid

 Liberty  Comments Off on Nader has some Sirius issues with Liberty bid
Jan 082014
 

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader said Liberty Media Chairman John Malones offer to buy out the remaining stake in satellite radio company Sirius XM was ludicrous and called for activist investor Carl Icahn to take notice.

Nader, a Sirius shareholder, said on Monday that Libertys $3.68-a-share bid was below the $4 where the company was trading a few weeks ago.

I am sure that I along with other shareholders in Sirius XM will be interested in a legal challenge to John Malones company for lowballing Sirius XMs shareholder value, the 79-year-old consumer crusader said in a statement. Carl Icahn take notice and interest.

It was not immediately clear how many Sirius shares Nader owns. Nor was it clear whether Icahn is a shareholder of the company.

A spokeswoman for Liberty Media did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Liberty Media, which already owns about half of the satellite-radio company, made an offer Friday valuing the rest at $3.68 a share, or about $10.6 billion.

The stock closed at $3.83 today in New York, more than 4 percent higher than the bid by Liberty, an investment company controlled by billionaire John Malone.

The reaction signals that Liberty may face opposition in getting investors to approve the current deal.

Greg Maffei, the companys chief executive officer, said last week that Liberty plans to tap the cash of Sirius to potentially finance other transactions, including a possible bid for Time Warner Cable.

Liberty Media is contemplating making a Time Warner Cable deal through another of its holdings, Charter Communications.

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Nader has some Sirius issues with Liberty bid

Is Mass. Law Banning Abortion-Clinic Speech Legal? Floyd Abrams Thinks Not

 Misc  Comments Off on Is Mass. Law Banning Abortion-Clinic Speech Legal? Floyd Abrams Thinks Not
Jan 062014
 

A major theme in Floyd Abramss most recent book is the challenge for defenders of the First Amendment to stay consistent even when it pains them ideologically.

The dean of the First Amendment bar revisits the same subject in an op-ed in Mondays Wall Street Journal. His concern this time is the debate over a Massachusetts law that criminalizes protests within 35 feet of abortion clinic entrances. The Supreme Court is reviewing the state statute in McCullen v. Coakley, which is set to be argued next week.

The Massachusetts law was enacted in 2007 in response to protesters blocking entrances to clinics and harassing women. Last year, the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld it. Relying on a 2000 Supreme Court ruling in Hill v. Colorado, the appeals court held that such abortion-specific and speak-specific exclusion zones are constitutionally permissible.

Mr. Abrams thinks the First Circuit as well as the American Civil Liberties Union have it wrong. The case, he writes, is simply one of many cases in which the First Amendment should be read to protect speech with which we happen to disagree.

He notes that the ACLU of Massachusetts opposed the law in 2007, with the group stating at the time that [i]f the message is unwelcome, as it often will be outside abortion clinics, the constitutionally appropriate response in a public forum is for the listener to walk away. The national ACLU also defended the rights of protesters in Hill v. Colorado.

Mr. Abrams writes:

But now that McCullen has reached the Supreme Court, both ACLU groups have switched sides. Their position, their brief states, has evolved over time and the Massachusetts law is, after all, constitutional on its face. Of course, the First Amendment has not changed in the 14 years between the filing of the ACLU briefs in Hill and McCullen; the ACLU has.

The old ACLU got it right. Looking back on Hill v. Colorado, Harvard Prof. Laurence Tribe observed that the case was slam-dunk simple and the decision slam-dunk wrong. It is time for the Supreme Court to right that wrong.

A spokesman for the ACLU didnt immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Is Mass. Law Banning Abortion-Clinic Speech Legal? Floyd Abrams Thinks Not

Japan rescues balloonist trying to reach islands

 Islands  Comments Off on Japan rescues balloonist trying to reach islands
Jan 032014
 

TOKYO: A Chinese man who tried to fly a hot-air balloon hundreds of kilometres to islands disputed between Beijing and Tokyo was rescued by Japans coastguard after ditching in the sea, an official said yesterday.

The 35-year-old took off from Chinas Fujian province on Wednesday morning in an attempt to land on one of the Tokyo-controlled islands, the Japan Coast Guard official said.

It was an ambitious goal hot-air balloons travel largely at the mercy of the wind, and the islands are tiny specks in the East China Sea 359 kilometres away from the take-off point.

They are hotly disputed between Beijing, which regards them as its territory and calls them Diaoyu, and Tokyo, which calls them Senkaku. Tensions have at times reached feverish heights.

In the event the pilot sent a request for help several hours into his flight and ditched in the sea, with a Japanese rescue helicopter picking him up 22 kilometres south of his goal, the official said.

The man, who was unhurt, was handed over to a Chinese patrol ship outside Japanese territorial waters, he added.

Photos distributed by the Japan Coast Guard showed a striped, multicoloured balloon drifting half-deflated in the steely blue waters.

Reports identified the man as Xu Shuaijun, a balloonist who in 2012 became the first man to pilot a hot-air balloon over northeast Chinas Bohai Bay.

On his verified account on Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, Xu posted a short message declaring that he had been returned safely to the city of Fuqing in Fujian province.

I have returned safely, Xu wrote. Thanks everyone for your concern.

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Japan rescues balloonist trying to reach islands

Japan rescues Chinese balloonist trying to reach disputed islands

 Islands  Comments Off on Japan rescues Chinese balloonist trying to reach disputed islands
Jan 022014
 

AFP Japan rescues Chinese balloonist trying to reach islands

Tokyo (AFP) – A Chinese man who tried to fly a hot-air balloon hundreds of kilometres to islands disputed between Beijing and Tokyo was rescued by Japan’s coastguard after ditching in the sea, an official said Thursday.

The 35-year-old took off from China’s Fujian province on Wednesday morning in an attempt to land on one of the Tokyo-controlled islands, the Japan Coast Guard official said.

It was an ambitious goal — hot-air balloons travel largely at the mercy of the wind, and the islands are tiny specks in the East China Sea 359 kilometres (223 miles) away from the take-off point.

They are hotly disputed between Beijing, which regards them as its territory and calls them Diaoyu, and Tokyo, which calls them Senkaku. Tensions have at times reached feverish heights.

In the event the pilot sent a request for help several hours into his flight and ditched in the sea, with a Japanese rescue helicopter picking him up 22 kilometres south of his goal, the official said.

The man, who was unhurt, was handed over to a Chinese patrol ship outside Japanese territorial waters, he added.

Photos distributed by the Japan Coast Guard showed a striped, multicoloured balloon drifting half-deflated in the steely blue waters.

Reports identified the man as Xu Shuaijun, a balloonist who in 2012 became the first man to pilot a hot-air balloon over northeast China’s Bohai Bay.

On his verified account on Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, Xu posted a short message declaring that he had been returned safely to the city of Fuqing in Fujian province.

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Japan rescues Chinese balloonist trying to reach disputed islands

Freedom House remains open after termination of director

 Freedom  Comments Off on Freedom House remains open after termination of director
Dec 222013
 

Russellville’s Freedom House is undergoing a change in leadership after the termination of its director, Gary Rhodes.

After he was initially placed on administrative leave without pay, Rhodes’ employment was terminated pending the outcome of an investigation. Request for details regarding Rhodes’ termination were referred to an attorney, who did not return a request for comment made Thursday.

Arkansas River Valley Area Council (ARVAC) Executive Director Stephanie Ellis said a decision has not been made to hire a replacement for Rhodes at this time. She said she has a commitment to move forward while restructuring the operations of the agency and its programs to better serve the community and people.

ARVAC is a parent company to Freedom House, which itself has helped more than 14,000 clients over 39 years. ARVAC’s Freedom House is a 501(c)3, nonprofit alcohol and drug treatment center funded through state and federal grants, subcontracts through other agencies and generous donations.

A statement issued by ARVAC indicated while there was a threat of losing Freedom House funding, Ellis was able to secure partnerships to ensure that ARVAC’s Freedom House will continue to provide services for those in need in the community.

“I believe in ARVAC and am led by our Mission; I view my employees and the clients we serve as family, so failure is not an option,” Ellis said.

Freedom House offers programs and services with a holistic approach to heal mind, body and spirit. These services include observational detoxification, residential and outpatient treatment and a transitional living program. With a staff of regional alcohol and drug detoxification specialists, and bilingual counselors, as well as community outreach personnel, Ellis said, our number one priority in community action is to ensure that the needs of the community are met. When you keep the person served as the priority, everything falls into place.”

For more information, please call Freedom House at 968-7086 or the ARVAC headquarters at (479) 229-4861 or visit http://www.arvacinc.org.

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Freedom House remains open after termination of director




Pierre Teilhard De Chardin | Designer Children | Prometheism | Euvolution | Transhumanism