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HOT: FBI Director Backtracks, Admits Apple iPhone Litigation Will be Precedent!

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey seems to have quickly reversed course to admit the obvious — that the February 16 magistrate judge’s order for Apple to help the US government breach an iPhone’s security, including encryption, is as much about establishing precedent for more court orders as it is about the government trying to obtain information connected to one phone related to the December 2 mass murder in San Bernardino, California.

On Sunday, Comey issued a statement that started with this declaration: “The San Bernardino litigation isn’t about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message.” Then, on Thursday, Comey backtracked from this assurance by testifying before the US House Intelligence Committee that the order and appeals arising from the order “will be instructive for other courts.”
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The Incredible Shrinking Syrian 'Ceasefire'

The Syria "cessation of hostilities" agreement seems all the stranger as huge unanswered questions regarding signatories, partners, monitoring, reporting, adjudication, and enforcement are raised. It seems more and more like something cobbled together without much thought as to how it might work in practice. 

Indeed, the people who are paid to explain to us how it might work seem to be as confused as we are. Take State Department Spokesman Mark Toner. Asked whether the ceasefire requirements of the agreement would apply to Turkey, which has for the past week been bombing US-allied Kurds in Syria, he was unable to give a clear answer beyond the following confusing bit from Monday's press briefing:
Well, Turkey is a member of the ISSG, the stakeholders group. Ultimately, to be a part of that, you have – you’ve committed to implementing the cessation of hostilities. So again, it – we’ve talked about this a lot – it’s not just – we certainly point a finger at Russia quite often, and other members who are, we believe, taking counterproductive actions on the ground in Syria, but it’s incumbent on all members of the ISSG to buy into a cessation of hostilities.
How's that for clear diplomacy?
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Did the FBI Intentionally Bumble the San Bernardino iPhone Investigation?


Over at We Meant Well, always-interesting writer Peter Van Buren provides a funny rundown of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s blunders he suggests prevented it from accessing information on an iPhone connected to the December 2 San Bernardino, California killings. The FBI sure does look like the Keystone Cops with Van Buren’s tale of mistakes that put the FBI into a situation where, to uncover encrypted information from the iPhone, it has to depend on a US magistrate judge ordering Apple, the phone’s manufacturer, to create a means to breach the phone’s information security.

But, is there something more sinister taking place behind the scenes? Governments are renowned for incompetence, so you cannot rule out, barring more information, that a series of blunders did occur. At the same time, blunders in this instance would create a situation that sure is convenient for a US government intent on ensuring it can obtain access to everyone’s encrypted information. The blunders, after all, provided the FBI with a reason to seek the court order in a case where the facts are quite advantageous for the government.
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The Apple Court Order and the Obama Administration’s Anti-Privacy Push

In the fall of 2015, American privacy supporters were relieved that draconian legislation requiring companies to create backdoors for the US government to overcome encryption of individuals’ private information did not make its way through Congress. In fact, the Obama administration then represented that it would both stop seeking such legislation and refrain from otherwise pressuring companies to provide the government with backdoor access to customers’ encryption-secured information 

However, everything is not as the Obama administration desired the public to believe. It appears that the Tuesday court order demanding that Apple breach an iPhone’s built-in privacy protections so the government can access the secured information is a materialization of the executive branch’s stealth "plan B" effort to obtain its anti-privacy objectives via other means.
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Showdown: Justice Department Escalates Against Apple

The US Justice Department escalated its standoff with Apple today, filing a motion to compel Apple to create software that would facilitate the Federal Government's breaking the encryption of an iPhone in the possession of one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple has argued that no one could depend on being secure from the prying eyes of government should it comply with the Federal government's orders. Wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a letter to customers this week, "in the wrong hands, this software – which does not exist today – would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession."

The Justice Department's counterargument appears to be that this is a special case and they can be trusted to never use this "key" to our iPhones again. But ironically, this heightened encryption feature was incorporated into iPhones in response to revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that the federal government had been illegally spying on American citizens. But apparently we are supposed to trust them this time.
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Ron Paul Explains Libertarianism


Prominent libertarian communicator and former United States presidential candidate Ron Paul presented on Wednesday a short explanation of libertarianism in response to a question from host Anand Naidoo on the CCTV show The Heat.

Asked by Naidoo “What is a libertarian?” Paul responds with an examination of the principles that individuals should fulfill their contractual obligations and refrain from aggressing against others...
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Judge Napolitano Applauds Apple's Tim Cook for Defending the Constitution

Judge Andrew Napolitano, in a new Fox Business interview with host Stuart Varney, said he applauds Apple CEO Tim Cook for “defending the Constitution” by resisting a United States magistrate judge’s order that Apple aid the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in breaching Apple encryption that protects the company's customers.

Napolitano, a Ron Paul Institute Advisory Board member, backs up Apple’s challenging of the order, noting that the order defies the US legal prohibition on breaking into people’s computers. Even if that law were changed, says Napolitano, the order would face a constitutional barrier.
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Larry Summers: 'It’s Time to Kill the $100 Bill'

Lawrence H. Summers, the Charles W. Eliot university professor at Harvard, formerUSTreasury Secretary and former director of the National Economic Council, in a column at The Washington Post tiled, It’s time to kill the $100 bill, is calling for the banishment from circulation of the US $100 bill.
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