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NSA techs perform an unauthorized field upgrade to Cisco hardware in these 2010 photos from an NSA document.

A document included in the trove of National Security Agency files released with Glenn Greenwalds book No Place to Hide details how the agencys Tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit and other NSA employees intercept servers, routers, and other network gear being shipped to organizations targeted for surveillance and install covert implant firmware onto them before theyre delivered. These Trojan horse systems were described by an NSA manager as being some of the most productive operations in TAO because they pre-position access points into hard target networks around the world.

The document, a June 2010 internal newsletter article by the chief of the NSAs Access and Target Development department (S3261) includesphotos (above) of NSA employees opening the shipping box for a Cisco router and installing beacon firmware with a load station designed specifically for the task.

The NSA manager described the process:

Heres how it works: shipments of computer network devices (servers, routers, etc,) being delivered to our targets throughout the world are intercepted. Next, they are redirected to a secret location where Tailored Access Operations/Access Operations (AO-S326) employees, with the support of the Remote Operations Center (S321), enable the installation of beacon implants directly into our targets electronic devices. These devices are then re-packaged and placed back into transit to the original destination. All of this happens with the support of Intelligence Community partners and the technical wizards in TAO.

Sean Gallagher / Sean is Ars Technica’s IT Editor. A former Navy officer, systems administrator, and network systems integrator with 20 years of IT journalism experience, he lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Photos of an NSA upgrade factory show Cisco router getting implant

Comics Weekly

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Jul 042013

By Pete Kilmer July 3, 2013 Pete Kilmer has been in the comics retail industry for ten years as a member of Downtown Comics in Indianapolis. Downtown Comics is one of the Midwest’s largest comic retailers with over four locations in Indianapolis. All opinions are his own, and they cannot be bought with free swag.

Books you can read on the 4th of July include Avengers AI #1, Daredevil: End of Days (hardcover), Deadpool Kills Deadpool #1, Dexter #1, Emerald City of Oz #1, Guardians of the Galaxy: Tomorrows Avengers #1, Owl #1, Satellite Sam #1, Superior Foes of Spider-Man #1, Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1, What If AVX #1,

47 RONIN #5 (OF 5) ABE SAPIEN #4 NEW RACE PT 1 MAX FIUMARA CVR ACTION COMICS #22 ACTION COMICS #22 COMBO PACK ADVENTURE TIME FIONNA & CAKE #6 (OF 6) 15 COPY INCV SAUNDERS ADVENTURE TIME FIONNA & CAKE #6 (OF 6) 25 COPY INCV LETH VAR ADVENTURE TIME FIONNA & CAKE #6 (OF 6) MAIN CVRS (C: 1-0-0) AME COMI GIRLS #5 ARCHIE #645 REG CVR ARCHIE #645 TIM SEELEY VAR CVR AVENGERS #15 INF AVENGERS AI #1 AXE COP TP VOL 04 PRESIDENT WORLD (C: 0-1-2) BATMAN INCORPORATED #12 BATMAN INCORPORATED #12 COMBO PACK BATWING #22 BATWOMAN #21 BILLY THE KID OLD TIMEY ODDITIES TP VOL 03 ORM OF LOCH NESS BIONIC WOMAN #10 BLACKACRE #8 (MR) BLEACH TP VOL 57 (C: 1-0-1) CATALYST COMIX #1 (OF 9) (MR) CHARISMAGIC VOL 2 #3 (OF 6) DIRECT MARKET CVR CLIVE BARKER NEXT TESTAMENT #2 (OF 12) (MR) CROW MIDNIGHT LEGENDS TP VOL 04 WAKING NIGHTMARES DAREDEVIL DARK NIGHTS #2 (OF 8) DAREDEVIL HC END OF DAYS DARK AVENGERS TP MASTERS OF EVIL DARK SKULLKICKERS DARK #1 CVR A HUANG & ZUB DARK SKULLKICKERS DARK #1 CVR B OH DC THE NEW 52 FLASH VS VIBE AF 2 PACK DC THE NEW 52 MARTIAN MANHUNTER AF DEADPOOL BUST BANK (C: 1-1-2) DEADPOOL KILLS DEADPOOL #1 (OF 4) DEATHMATCH #7 MAIN COVERS DETECTIVE COMICS #22 DETECTIVE COMICS #22 COMBO PACK DEXTER #1 (OF 5) (RES) DIAL H #14 DOCTOR WHO 3 TP VOL 02 EYE OF ASHAYA EARTH 2 #14 EMERALD CITY OF OZ #1 (OF 5) EMILY & THE STRANGERS #3 (OF 3) MAIN CVR FAIREST #17 (MR) FATHOM ELITE SAGA #3 CVR A MARION FATHOM ELITE SAGA #3 CVR B CALDWELL FIVE WEAPONS #5 (OF 5) GARFIELD #15 GETTYSBURG ADDRESS GRAPHIC ADAPTATION TP (C: 0-1-1) GFT OZ #1 (OF 6) A CVR CAMPBELL WRAPAROUND GFT OZ #1 (OF 6) B CVR ARTGERM GFT OZ #1 (OF 6) C CVR BASALDUA WITCH GFT WEREWOLVES HUNGER #2 (OF 3) A CVR LASHLEY (MR) GI JOE SPECIAL MISSIONS #4

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On Fridays we now post the complete list of new comics that actually ships for the week. Books that will actually be in store! So please head over to Downtown Comics and check out the Shipping This Week section!

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Comics Weekly

May 242013



What up my “beaches” :)
Sweet looking Sterling card in the mail today. Something about that shine… Disappointed about the shipping method, but at least the card arrived in accepta…

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What up my "beaches" :) – Video

BOAO, Hainan, April 7 — China is scheduled to let tourists visit the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea ahead of the forthcoming May Day holiday, said Tan Li, executive vice governor of the southern-most province of Hainan, on Saturday.

People will be allowed to visit the islands on cruise tours, said Tan at the 2013 Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference, which will open on Sunday.

Details on the tour routes, capacity of tourist reception and cruise ships will be released on a later date, he said.

The Xisha Islands are a cluster of close to 40 islets, sandbanks and reefs.

Tourists will eat and sleep on the cruise ships and can land on the islands for sightseeing, the official said.

Cruise tours are the choice as hotels and other facilities to accommodate tourists are inadequate, he said.

There is only one hotel with 56 rooms in the 2.13-square-kilometer Yongxing Island, the largest island among the Xisha Islands group and home to the government offices of Sansha city. In addition, there is no fresh water and all supplies have to be transported from outside.

The city was established last summer to administer more than 200 islets, sandbanks and reefs in the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands and 2 million square kilometers of surrounding waters.

A cruise ship with a gross registered tonnage of 47,000 tonnes that can accommodate 1,965 passengers is ready for sailing, according to the ship owner Haihang Group Corp Ltd..

Hainan Harbor and Shipping Holdings Co. is building another one.

The rest is here:
Eastday-China to open Xisha Islands to tourism before May

OFFICIAL SAYS: Agence France-Presse

BOAOChina is to open disputed South China Sea islands up to tourism this month, state media reported Sunday, a move likely to inflame a long-running territorial row with its neighbors.

The plans to allow tourists to visit the Paracel Islands before the May Day holiday is the latest stage in Beijings development of the territory, which has previously angered Vietnam and caused concern in Washington.

Vietnam and China have a longstanding territorial row over the Paracel Islands. Hanoi last month accused a Chinese vessel of firing on one of its fishing boats which had sailed in disputed waters in the area.

The plan to allow cruise tours follows rapid development of infrastructure in a new city Sansha along with the establishment of an army garrison on one of the Paracels last year.

Tourists can only visit the islands on cruise ships as the hotels and other facilities are inadequate, news agency Xinhua said, citing Tan Li, executive vice governor of the southern province of Hainan.

Tan was speaking on Saturday at the Boao Forum for Asia, which is being held in Hainan.

The report quoted shipbuilder Haihang Group Corp Ltd. as saying its cruise ship was ready to take almost 2,000 passengers on a tour of the islands. A second cruise ship was being built by Hainan Harbor and Shipping Holdings Co, the report added.

The tour prices will be relatively high due to the high costs of tourism infrastructure construction, Hainan-based tour agency general manager Huang Huaru told Xinhua.

Tan said local authorities would build more supply ships and ports, and beef up the infrastructure in Sansha.

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China to open Paracel Islands to tourism—official



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[eyjordans.com] Unboxing Replicas,Lebron 9 south beaches/Jordan 11 – Video



Chinese Exchange Student Providing Input on Shipping Coal to China
This is the testimony of a Chinese exchange student in response to the Cherry Point Coal Export proposal near Bellingham, Washington. This was an EIS Scoping Hearing at Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands.From:David StalheimViews:3 0ratingsTime:01:41More inEntertainment

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Chinese Exchange Student Providing Input on Shipping Coal to China – Video

Feb 252012

On paper, the U.S. has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. But in practice, corporations pay far less. The Government Accountability Office (PDF) estimated the average tax burden at 25.2 percent, and some of the largest corporations, such as General Electric and Wells Fargo, pay no taxes at all. This is possible because the tax code is riddled with exceptions and loopholes, created at the behest of lobbyists and exploited by teams of tax experts, many of whom used to work for the IRS and the Treasury. With the help of Citizens for Tax Justice, The Daily Beast rounded up some of the most egregious corporate tax loopholes.

Deferral of Overseas Income

Multinational companies don’t have to pay U.S. income taxes on overseas profits until they transfer them back home. But in reality, companies just leave their profits in overseas tax havens, deferring taxes indefinitely. Not only that, an accounting scheme known as “transfer pricing” allows companies to move profits from the U.S. to offshore havens so they’re counted as overseas earnings. For example a pharmaceutical company could sell a drug patent to a subsidiary in the Cayman Islands for a nominal fee, then have the subsidiary charge the parent company huge licensing fees. The company can then deduct the licensing fees from its taxable income in the U.S. and send the profits to its foreign subsidiary, where taxes can be indefinitely deferred. Some 83 percent of top 100 publicly traded companies had tax-haven units in 2009, according to the GAO. General Electric, Google, Pfizer, and many other companies use this technique. The federal government loses an estimated (PDF) $100 billion a year through offshore tax abuses.

Deductions for Shipping Jobs Overseas

At first glance it doesn’t seem particularly egregious that corporations can deduct moving expenses, but that changes when the break is applied to companies moving operations overseas. President Obama proposed ending this exemption for companies moving overseas while giving a credit to companies moving back to the U.S.

The Domestic Production Deduction

This deduction was meant to encourage companies to keep manufacturing operations in the U.S. by allowing them to deduct profits from “qualified production activities.” But by the time the law was enacted, those activities had expanded to include not just manufacturing but everything from oil drilling to filmmaking to real estate. (Obama proposed barring oil and gas companies from using the deduction.) The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that the deduction cost states $500 million in 2011, and the Congressional Budget Office (PDF) estimates it will cost the federal government $163 billion over the next decade.

Getty Images (3)

Last-In, First-Out Accounting

Normally when you buy something for $30 and sell it for $50, you have to pay taxes on a $20 profit. But corporations—especially oil companies—manage their accounts differently. They might buy oil for $30 a barrel, and then buy some more for $45 a barrel later in the year. Then when they sell a barrel of oil for $50, they get to assume that they sold the last barrel they bought, the one that cost $45, allowing them to report a profit of $5 instead of $20. Citizens for Tax Justice estimates that the loophole is worth $97 billion over the next 10 years.

Punitive Damages Deduction

When corporations are hit with punitive damages, they’re able to write them off as an “ordinary and necessary” business expense (PDF). Consequently, Exxon’s $1.1 billion Alaska oil spill settlement actually cost the company $524 million after taxes. Obama’s budget proposes to eliminate the deductibility.

Accelerated Depreciation Deduction

This allows companies to deduct for the depreciation of a piece of equipment at a faster rate than it actually takes the equipment to depreciate. Because interest expenses are also deductible, a company can borrow money to buy equipment, deduct both the interest on the debt and the “accelerated” depreciation of the equipment, and claim deductions greater than the profits generated by the investment. It’s one of the loopholes that allow corporations to pay no taxes during profitable years.

The corporate jet deduction became a hot-button issue during the debt-ceiling debate when President Obama used it as leverage against the Republicans. Under the current law, corporations can claim deductions for the depreciation of their jets at a faster rate than commercial airlines can. Closing the loophole wouldn’t save much money—about $4 billion over 10 years—but as a political symbol, it’s invaluable. (For what it’s worth, yacht owners get an accelerated depreciation deduction plus a few more.)

The 71,000-page tax code is full of accelerated-depreciation loopholes for various industries. Along with corporate jets, NASCAR racetrack owners get a special exemption. They can deduct for the depreciation of their tracks over a seven-year period instead of the 39 years the government estimates (PDF) it actually takes them to depreciate. The break was put in place in 2004 but was renewed in the 2008 financial-system bailout known as TARP. It costs the government $40 million a year.

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8 Ridiculous Tax Loopholes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Cutting corporate tax rates and deleting loopholes is just what most economists prescribe for the tangled U.S. tax code.

So why isn't everyone cheering the plan President Barack Obama unveiled Tuesday to slash the top corporate tax rate and end breaks that let some companies pay little or nothing in taxes?

Economists note that Obama's plan would upturn the very playing field the administration says it wants to level. It would give manufacturers preferential treatment: Tax breaks would effectively cap their rate at 25 percent. Other companies would pay up to 28 percent.

The current top corporate tax rate is 35 percent.

Some say such varying rates can distort the economy by diverting investment into some industries and away from others that might pack a bigger economic punch.

“The administration is not making sense,” says Martin Sullivan, contributing editor at publisher Tax Analysts. “The whole idea of corporate tax reform is to get rid of loopholes, and this plan is adding loopholes back in.”

Other economists oppose a separate plank of the Obama plan: a minimum tax on foreign earnings of U.S. multinational companies. No other country imposes such a tax on its companies, they note. U.S. businesses would face a competitive disadvantage.

Facing resistance from Republicans and many businesses, Obama's plan is in any case a longshot proposal so close to Election Day.

“For anything that Obama recommends during an election year and with a divided Congress, the best one can say is, 'Good luck,'” says Henry Aaron, senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution. “Those who stand to lose are really upset and will work hard to defeat it.”

Just about everybody agrees something has to change. When Japan enacts a corporate tax cut in April, the United States will be left with the highest tax rate in the developed world.

That puts the U.S. companies that actually pay the official corporate tax rate at a disadvantage against their foreign competitors. (Many U.S. companies effectively pay lower rates because of tax breaks.)

The loophole-riddled U.S. tax code now benefits numerous industries over others. One tax break, for example, lets oil companies write off drilling costs immediately instead of over time, as most businesses must.

In the end, different industries can pay far different effective rates. The Treasury Department says U.S. utility companies pay an average effective tax rate of 14 percent. By contrast, retailers pay an average 31 percent.

The administration says the point of its tax plan is to make the system fairer and more efficient — not to squeeze more overall tax revenue from corporations. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner calls the current tax code “fundamentally unfair.” But the administration also needs to end some loopholes to help pay for a lower corporate tax rate.

The White House argues that tax breaks for manufacturers could ultimately pay off for the economy. When factories expand, for example, the benefits tend to spill into other businesses: Shipping companies and warehouses must add jobs, too, to transport and store the goods that manufacturers are producing.

Economists also note that manufacturers account for a disproportionate amount of the research and development that create innovative products and new ways of doing business. The National Science Foundation has found that manufacturing companies are nearly three times likelier to introduce a new or significantly improved product than other companies are.

“Does manufacturing deserve special treatment? This is a hot debate,” says Elisabeth Reynolds, executive director of the Industrial Performance Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “A case can be made that there's a reason to encourage more manufacturing in the United States because of its links to innovation.”

Other economists say that argument is overstated. Among the skeptics is Obama's own former economic adviser, Christina Romer, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley. In a column this month in The New York Times, Romer argued that there was no economic justification for the government to favor manufacturers over service-oriented companies.

“Our earnings from exporting architectural plans for a building in Shanghai are as real as those from exporting cars to Canada,” Romer wrote.

Analysts are also divided over Obama's plans to impose a minimum tax on companies' foreign earnings.

Sullivan of Tax Analysts says the current system allows some companies — especially technology and pharmaceutical firms — to avoid U.S. taxes by shifting their earnings to tax havens such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Other multinationals can indefinitely avoid paying U.S. taxes by keeping their earnings overseas.

Lacking such tax breaks, companies that do all their business in the United States suffer a competitive disadvantage.

The minimum tax proposal, Sullivan says, “would level the playing field.”

But big U.S. companies complain that they already pay taxes to foreign governments on the income they earn in those countries. A U.S. tax on that income, they argue, would amount to double taxation.

That would raise costs for U.S. companies operating overseas, making them less competitive. Instead, the United States should move toward a “territorial” tax system, business groups argue. Tax would apply only to income earned within the United States.

“No other developed country imposes such a 'minimum tax' on the foreign earnings of their corporations,” said the Business Roundtable, a trade group of chief executives of large U.S. companies.

Some economists agree.

The minimum tax proposal for international earnings “is totally misguided both from a competitive standpoint and a jobs standpoint,” said Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “Obama's plan, if enacted, will shrink the U.S. footprint in world markets and lose jobs.”

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To close tax loopholes, Obama would open new ones

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