The daily irrelevant si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes Sat, 27 Aug 2016 19:19:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 New leaks prove it: the NSA is putting us all at risk to be hacked Sat, 27 Aug 2016 19:17:11 +0000 [Quote:]

The National Security Agency is lying to us. We know that because of data stolen from an NSA server was dumped on the internet. The agency is hoarding information about security vulnerabilities in the products you use, because it wants to use it to hack others’ computers. Those vulnerabilities aren’t being reported, and aren’t getting fixed, making your computers and networks unsafe.


Cybercrime drains about $445 billion from businesses each year, according to a new study — and that cost trickles down to consumers in the form of job losses and other repercussions they may not realize.

The think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) conducted the study, which antivirus company McAfee sponsored and released on Monday.

“The problem with the $445 billion number is that it’s so big and so encompassing,” Raj Samani, the chief technology officer for McAfee’s EMEA region, told NBC News. “But when this crime occurs, it hurts our jobs. It hurts our economy. And we’re seeing ideas being stolen.”

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New York School Accused of Forcing Learning-Disabled Muslim Child to Sign False Oath of Loyalty to ISIS Fri, 26 Aug 2016 10:08:06 +0000 [Quote:]

A 12-year-old boy with severe learning disabilities was forced “under extreme duress” by his school officials to write a false confession that he is a member of ISIS and a terrorist who intends to detonate a bomb, his family charged in a lawsuit filed against a Long Island middle school earlier this month. According to the plaintiffs, the child was targeted because he is a Muslim of Pakistani national origin, first bullied by his classmates and then criminalized by the administrators entrusted to protect him.

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IPhone Users Urged to Update Software After Security Flaws Are Found Fri, 26 Aug 2016 08:18:51 +0000 [Quote:]

Investigators discovered that a company called the NSO Group, an Israeli outfit that sells software that invisibly tracks a target’s mobile phone, was responsible for the intrusions. The NSO Group’s software can read text messages and emails and track calls and contacts. It can even record sounds, collect passwords and trace the whereabouts of the phone user.

In response, Apple on Thursday released a patched version of its mobile software, iOS 9.3.5. Users can get the patch through a normal software update.

Apple fixed the holes 10 days after a tip from two researchers, Bill Marczak and John Scott Railton, at Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, and Lookout, a San Francisco mobile security company.


In interviews and manuals, the NSO Group’s executives have long boasted that their spyware worked like a “ghost,” tracking the moves and keystrokes of its targets, without leaving a trace. But until this month, it was not clear how exactly the group was monitoring its targets, or who exactly it was monitoring.

A clearer picture began to emerge on Aug. 10, when Ahmed Mansoor, a prominent human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates, who has been tracked by surveillance software several times, began receiving suspicious text messages. The messages purported to contain information about the torture of U.A.E. citizens.

Mr. Mansoor passed the messages to researchers at the Citizen Lab, who confirmed they were an attempt to track him through his iPhone.

This latest effort was far more sophisticated than what was found aimed at his devices before. The researchers found it was connecting to 200 servers, several of them registered to the NSO Group. Strewn throughout the spyware code were references to Pegasus, the name of an NSO Group spyware product.


Impact: An application may be able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges

That means the bad guys irreproachably trustworthy anti-terrorism operatives can take complete control of the phone and do anything at all they want to.
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‘Betrayal of trust’? WhatsApp to start sharing user data with Facebook, corporations Fri, 26 Aug 2016 07:33:11 +0000 [Quote:]

The world’s most popular messenger, the Facebook-owned WhatsApp, will give its users’ personal information to its parent company and plans to make it easier for businesses to contact subscribers. WhatsApp claims the changes won’t endanger privacy.

WhatsApp, which is used by over 1 billion people each month, published a statement as part of a revision of its terms and privacy policy.

“By coordinating more with Facebook, we’ll be able to do things like track basic metrics about how often people use our services and better fight spam on WhatsApp. And by connecting your phone number with Facebook’s systems, Facebook can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them,” said the California-based company.

In practice, the benefits are less likely to be for WhatsApp, and more for data-hungry Facebook, which will know even more about its members.

“When WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook it was able to reassure users that it would remain independent,” Pamela Clark-Dickson, analyst at tech consultancy firm Ovum, told the BBC. “Now it’s giving Facebook phone numbers – some might say that’s a betrayal of trust. In a small way, it has gone back on what it said it wouldn’t do.”

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The Rio Games Were An Unjustifiable Human Disaster, And So Are The Olympics Thu, 25 Aug 2016 14:32:47 +0000 [Quote:]

To call the Olympics a bad investment would be disingenuous, because few actually believe the Games produce any return of public value. Study after study after study has shown they create no economic benefits, yet cities and nations still fight to host them, always to disastrous ends. Something like $12 billion—roughly $15,000 per Carioca, five times the annual minimum wage salary in Brazil—was spent on the Rio Games. Nearly all of that money went to the already wealthy: developers, landowners, transportation moguls, massive—and allegedly corrupt—construction firms, effectively making the Olympics an enormously successful regressive wealth transfer program, taking money from the poor and middle class via taxes and giving it to the rich. This is an unconscionable crime in a city with open sewers, endemic violence, abject poverty, and lack of economic opportunities for millions of its citizens. Rio will be paying for these Games for years, if not decades, to come.

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U of Chicago warns incoming students not to expect safe spaces or trigger warnings Thu, 25 Aug 2016 11:57:11 +0000 [Quote:]

They all received a letter recently from John Ellison, dean of students, which went beyond the usual platitudes of such letters and made several points about what he called one of Chicago’s “defining characteristics,” which he said was “our commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression.” Ellison said civility and respect are “vital to all of us,” and people should never be harassed. But he added, “You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.”

To that end, he wrote, “Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called trigger warnings, we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial and we do not condone the creation of intellectual safe spaces where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

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How Donald Trump Answers A Question Thu, 25 Aug 2016 09:32:57 +0000

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Police Respond to Donald Trump’s Claim That Chicago’s Violence Can Be Stopped In A Week Thu, 25 Aug 2016 08:44:48 +0000 [Quote:]

The Chicago Police Department denied Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s claim this week that he met with a “top” Chicago officer and argued the city’s violence would not be solved with “tough police tactics.”

“We’ve discredited this claim months ago,” CPD spokesperson Frank Giancamilli said Tuesday in a statement. “No one in the senior command at CPD has ever met with Donald Trump or a member of his campaign.”

He probably spoke to that officer when he delivered the letter the NFL sent him, together with that letter from his doctor.

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Secret Cameras Record Baltimore’s Every Move From Above Thu, 25 Aug 2016 08:08:12 +0000 [Quote:]

The images weren’t perfect. Analysts on the ground could see individual cars moving through the streets, but they couldn’t tell what make or model they might be. Pedestrians were just pixelated dots; you couldn’t distinguish a man from a woman, or an Iraqi civilian from an American soldier. Individual recognition, however, wasn’t the point; any dot could be followed backward or forward in time, which opened up all sorts of investigative possibilities.

If a roadside bomb exploded while the camera was in the air, analysts could zoom in to the exact location of the explosion and rewind to the moment of detonation. Keeping their eyes on that spot, they could further rewind the footage to see a vehicle, for example, that had stopped at that location to plant the bomb. Then they could backtrack to see where the vehicle had come from, marking all of the addresses it had visited. They also could fast-forward to see where the driver went after planting the bomb—perhaps a residence, or a rebel hideout, or a stash house of explosives. More than merely identifying an enemy, the technology could identify an enemy network.


The next city to try McNutt’s technology was his home base of Dayton. After the L.A. County trial, he improved the system by more than doubling the resolution, to 192 megapixels, increased the archive’s storage capacity, and sped up the image processing to allow analysts to conduct multiple investigations simultaneously. The Dayton police department and the city council were sold on it, and they aired the idea for a contract at a series of public hearings. Joel Pruce, who teaches human rights studies at the University of Dayton, helped organize the opposition. To the objecting residents, it seemed as if it hadn’t occurred to city leaders that the surveillance program might be interpreted as a violation of some vital, unspoken trust. “At the hearings, nobody spoke in favor of it except for the people working for the city,” Pruce recalls. “The black community, in particular, said, ‘We’ve seen this type of thing before. This will target us, and you didn’t even come to us beforehand to see how we’d feel about it.’ ” Dayton’s city leaders dropped their attempts to hire the company after those hearings.

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Liberal, Moderate or Conservative? See How Facebook Labels You Thu, 25 Aug 2016 07:49:49 +0000 [Quote:]

You may think you are discreet about your political views. But Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, has come up with its own determination of your political leanings, based on your activity on the site.

And now, it is easy to find out how Facebook has categorized you — as very liberal or very conservative, or somewhere in between.

Try this (it works best on your desktop computer):

Go to on your browser. (You may have to log in to Facebook first.)

That will bring you to a page with your ad preferences. Under the “Interests” header, click the “Lifestyle and Culture” tab.

Then look for a box titled “US Politics.” In parentheses, it will describe how Facebook has categorized you, such as liberal, moderate or conservative.

(only works if you have an actual facebook account of course)

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Lawyer: Dark Web Child Porn Site Ran Better When It Was Taken Over by the FBI Thu, 25 Aug 2016 07:48:38 +0000 [Quote:]

Newly filed court exhibits now suggest that the site performed substantially better while under the FBI’s control, with users commenting on the improvements. The defense for the man accused of being the original administrator of Playpen claims that these improvements led to the site becoming even more popular.

“The FBI distributed child pornography to viewers and downloaders worldwide for nearly two weeks, until at least March 4, 2015, even working to improve the performance of the website beyond its original capability,” Peter Adolf, an assistant federal defender in the Western District of North Carolina, writes in a motion to have his client’s indictment thrown out.

“As a result, the number of visitors to Playpen while it was under Government control [increased] from an average of 11,000 weekly visitors to approximately 50,000 per week. During those two weeks, the website’s membership grew by over 30%, the number of unique weekly visitors to the site more than quadrupled, and approximately 200 videos, 9,000 images, and 13,000 links to child pornography were posted on the site,” he continues.

In other words, the FBI was actively engaged in causing massive additional harm to exploited children.

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Your ‘Smart’ Power Outlets Are Now Botnets Thanks To The Internet Of Broken Things Thu, 25 Aug 2016 07:35:13 +0000 [Quote:]

Making fun of the Internet of Things has become a sort of national pastime, made possible by a laundry list of companies jumping into the space without the remotest idea what they’re actually doing. When said companies aren’t busy promoting some of the dumbest ideas imaginable, they’re making it abundantly clear that the security of their “smart,” connected products is absolutely nowhere to be found. And while this mockery is well-deserved, it’s decidedly less funny once you realize these companies are introducing thousands of new attack vectors in every home and business network the world over.

Overshadowed by the lulz is the width and depth of incompetence on display. Thermostats that fail to heat your home. Door locks that don’t protect you. Refrigerators that leak Gmail credentials. Children’s toys that listen to your kids’ prattle, then (poorly) secure said prattle in the cloud. Cars that could, potentially, result in your death. The list goes on and on, and it grows exponentially by the week.

The latest gift of the Internet of Things industry, revealed last week by security researchers at Bitdefender, is smart electrical sockets that can be hacked to hand over e-mail credentials, create a botnet, or (potentially) burn your house down by firing up connected appliances. The devices are sold as an amazing new tool to help create a connected home, allowing users to manage any device plugged into them via a smartphone and/or the internet. The problem, as usual, is an (unspecified) company that treated security as an afterthought.

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Scenes From the Terrifying, Already Forgotten JFK Airport Shooting That Wasn’t Wed, 24 Aug 2016 00:07:29 +0000 [Quote]

Some of them had been swept outside by police charging through the terminals with guns drawn, shouting for people to get down, show their hands, and drop their luggage, since nothing was more important than your life. Others had been on lines where TSA agents grabbed their gear and just ran, at least according to reports on Twitter. One man I talked to had darted down a jet bridge to take cover, inspiring others to follow, running and yelling. Only when he reached the end did he realize that the door was locked, and that, because there was no plane on the other side of it, he was actually suspended 20 feet or more in the air, like at the end of an unfinished bridge, with dozens or maybe even hundreds coming behind him. He’d have to smash the window, he figured, and try and open the door from the other side, then just jump. That’s when he heard the screams of the crowd storming toward him: “They’re coming this way!”


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John Oliver Asks Donald Trump To “DROP OUT” Mon, 22 Aug 2016 20:47:52 +0000

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And people say Trump has no ground game. Mon, 22 Aug 2016 19:38:37 +0000 [Quote:]

Donald Trump’s campaign has some young blood among its leadership.

And by young, that means 12 years old.

In one of the most important counties in swing state Colorado, Donald Trump is relying on 12-year-old Weston Imer, who runs the Jefferson County operation for the Trump campaign.

Jefferson County is one of the most populous counties in Colorado and is part of the Denver metro area.

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U.S. Army fudged its accounts by trillions of dollars, auditor finds Mon, 22 Aug 2016 19:24:04 +0000 [Quote:]

The United States Army’s finances are so jumbled it had to make trillions of dollars of improper accounting adjustments to create an illusion that its books are balanced.

The Defense Department’s Inspector General, in a June report, said the Army made $2.8 trillion in wrongful adjustments to accounting entries in one quarter alone in 2015, and $6.5 trillion for the year. Yet the Army lacked receipts and invoices to support those numbers or simply made them up.

As a result, the Army’s financial statements for 2015 were “materially misstated,” the report concluded. The “forced” adjustments rendered the statements useless because “DoD and Army managers could not rely on the data in their accounting systems when making management and resource decisions.”

Ask the average American why there’s no money for infrastructure, education, health care, free college, and he’ll tell you “welfare fraud!”


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The NSA hack helps Apple in its fight with the FBI Mon, 22 Aug 2016 11:20:32 +0000 [Quote:]

Apple: If we’re forced to build a tool to hack iPhones, someone will steal it.
FBI: Nonsense.
Russia: We just published NSA’s hacking tools

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OM heeft steeds meer last van versleutelde diensten als WhatsApp Mon, 22 Aug 2016 09:25:28 +0000 Translation of title: Dutch department of Justice is increasingly hindered by encrypted services like WhatsApp.

It’s a segment of the new on TV yesterday and if you can understand Dutch, you can view it here – it has all the usual arguments like kiddy porn and weapons trade, and they want the option to have a court order to tell a supplier they must decrypt. Well, apart from the fact that they’re a bit behind the times, that horse has already left the barn, I’m happy to see a cameo appearance of the NetAidKit we developed together with Free Press Unlimited. (“we” being Radically Open Security“)


Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 11.17.29

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Trump Says African-Americans Have ‘No Education, No Anything’ Sun, 21 Aug 2016 06:46:30 +0000 [Quote:]

Trump continued his multi-day effort to court the African-American vote with an appearance Saturday night on Fox News.

Trump’s message to the black community: Your lives are so miserable, I couldn’t possibly make things worse. He ignores the black middle class and describes the entire racial group as uneducated, unemployed and desperate.

Trump told Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro that blacks in America have “no health care, no education, no anything.” He described the lives of African-Americans as “a total catastrophe.”

Well, I know of at least one thing an African-American has achieved that you never will: become President of the United States.

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Windows 10 Anniversary Update breaks most webcams Sat, 20 Aug 2016 20:20:51 +0000 [Quote:]

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update, aka version 1607, has been found to leave many webcams inoperable. The update prevents the use of webcams in applications such as Skype and Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), along with all manner of custom CCTV programs. Extremely popular hardware, such as Logitech’s C920 and C930e cameras, in conjunction even with Microsoft’s own Skype, will fail to properly broadcast video.

People first noticed the issue earlier this month. But it’s only within the last couple of days that the exact cause became clear via a post by Brad Sams on

Microsoft has said that a fix is in development, but has not yet said when that fix will be distributed.

One of the best privacy-protecting upgrades Microsoft has brought us in ages..

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Fridge 2016 Sat, 20 Aug 2016 19:44:02 +0000 Am3INWy

Trump predicts he can win 95 percent of the black vote Sat, 20 Aug 2016 05:55:04 +0000 [Quote:]

Donald Trump promised Friday night that if elected president, he will win 95 percent of the African-American vote in his reelection bid.

Renewing his effort to reach out to black voters at a rally Friday evening, Trump suggested that Democratic politicians that overwhelmingly govern in America’s inner cities have failed African-Americans. Trump told the Dimondale, Michigan, crowd that “we can never fix our problems by relying on the same politicians who created our problems in the first place. A new future requires brand-new leadership.”


Shortly after the real estate mogul concluded his speech, CNN anchor Brianna Keilar asked Trump campaign senior adviser Jack Kingston why Trump continued to reach out to the black community in rallies with mostly white audiences held in areas where few African-Americans live.

“Maybe it would have been nice if he went and had a backdrop with a burning car,” Kingston replied.

Because black people won’t come unless there’s a riot? Even when supposedly reaching out to black people they can’t help showing themselves to the be total racists…

Obama won 93% of the African American vote in 2012. The only conceivable way Trump could flip that in 4 years is if most of the planet was wiped out, aliens invaded, and Trump was the only human left with the capacity to run against a robot or alien opponent. And personally, I would at least see what the robot’s and aliens had to offer before making that decision…

The Joy of Tech comic: How tech companies see you… Fri, 19 Aug 2016 15:57:57 +0000 [Quote:]


Maternal mortality rate has nearly doubled in Texas after family planning budget cuts. Fri, 19 Aug 2016 08:07:15 +0000 [Quote:]

Pregnancy-related deaths nearly doubled in Texas between 2010 and 2012, and researchers are at a loss to say why. According to a new study, published in the September issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the spike in the mortality rate is difficult to explain “in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval.”

This alarming development coincided with the state’s decision to slash its family planning budget by two-thirds in 2011—an attempt to shut down abortion providers that ultimately forced 82 clinics, many of which never performed the controversial procedure, to close. The study’s authors do not posit a correlation between this draconian policy change and the shocking increase in pregnancy-related deaths, but women’s health professionals have.

No shit, sherlock. It’s not rocket surgery to figure that out.

Scathing Audit Bolsters Critics’ Fears About Secretive State Gang Database Fri, 19 Aug 2016 06:06:37 +0000 [Quote:]

Beware the gangster babies.

Among the explosive findings included in a new audit of the state gang database, CalGang, auditors say they found “42 individuals in CalGang who were supposedly younger than one year of age at the time of entry—28 of whom were entered for ‘admitting to being gang members.’”


This French Museum Can Sell You a Genuine D-Day Tank – Bloomberg Thu, 18 Aug 2016 15:57:04 +0000 [Quote:]

For sale: tanks, good condition, some used during D-Day.

The Normandy Tank Museum is selling its entire collection at auction next month before closing its doors because it failed to attract enough visitors. The sale includes tanks, military vehicles, trucks, aircraft and motorcycles, many of which have been restored to working order.

More than 40 armored vehicles, along with thousands of military items used during World War II and dozens of mannequins in full battle dress, will be sold on September 18 by Artcurial, a Paris-based luxury auction house. The sale will be held in Catz, a town a few kilometers from Normandy’s Utah beach, where the Allies landed to liberate German-occupied northwestern Europe in June 1944.

Sanders: Aetna’s Obamacare Threat Shows What “Corporate Control Looks Like” Thu, 18 Aug 2016 11:27:28 +0000 [Quote:]

Healthcare giant Aetna directly threatened the federal government by vowing to pull out of Obamacare if its proposed merger to Humana was not approved, revealed a letter by the company’s CEO sent in July and reported on Wednesday.

The letter, obtained by the Huffington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request, proves what many observers have suspected and what the company has been denying: that its decision to pull out of most of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health exchanges was a bargaining chip in its effort to achieve the controversial merger.

Aetna’s threatening letter was authored by Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, who would have “personally [made] up to $131 million” if the Humana merger had gone through, as International Business Times reporter David Sirota observed last month.

The Justice Department sued to block the merger last month.

Bernie Sanders tweeted a link to the Huffington Post‘s reporting, calling the article a “must-read” and condemning the government for giving so much power to corporations like Aetna:

Indeed, the government is not without an active role in this mess: the letter from Bertolini was in response to a letter from the Department of Justice, in which the department “asked Aetna how, if at all, a decision on the proposed merger would affect Aetna’s willingness to offer insurance through the exchanges,” the Huffington Post writes.

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Flood Destroys Home Of Hate Group Leader Who Claims God Sends Natural Disasters To Punish Gays Thu, 18 Aug 2016 10:54:56 +0000 [Quote:]

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, an organization labeled an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was left homeless by the destructive flooding that has ravaged southern Louisiana this week, killing 11 people and destroying an estimated 40,000 homes.

Perkins, who has claimed that God uses natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding to punish people for sinning (in particular homosexuals and their supporters), had his own home destroyed by the Lord Almighty. The hate group leader says he was forced to escape his destroyed home by canoe, reports JMG.

And if you think that would give him pause, nope:

Perkins claims that God sent this deadly flood not to punish the gays but rather “as an incredible, encouraging spiritual exercise to take you to the next level in your walk with an almighty and gracious God who does all things well.”

When other people suffer misfortune it’s punishment. When you suffer misfortune, it’s a “test”.

But then again, this whole article is full of gems. He once said homosexuality is incompatible with evolution, which he doesn’t believe in. That’s like having his cake and shoving it down his pants too. I hope he will come to terms with his own sexuality some day.


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Suing a Debt Collector? Now They Can Buy Your Lawsuit Wed, 17 Aug 2016 17:29:50 +0000 [Quote:]

In March 2015, Patricia Arellano of Las Vegas received a notice from Clark County Collection Service (CCCS), a private debt collector seeking $370 in overdue medical bills. Arellano didn’t respond. CCCS went to court and obtained a default judgment against her. The bill grew to about $800, with costs and fees.

Next, Arellano sued CCCS under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. She alleged that the company had been misleading about how much time she had to fight the collection effort. She also alleged that CCCS’s name illegally implied that it was affiliated with the government of Clark County, Nev., when in fact it is not.

Then came the really weird twist. Seeking to enforce its judgment, CCCS obtained a “writ of execution” under which the sheriff of Clark County was obliged to sell off Arellano’s property. But not just her physical property—the writ also covered her pending legal claim against CCCS. In an auction held last November on the steps of the Clark County courthouse, Arellano’s claim against CCCS under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was sold for $250. The buyer? None other than CCCS.

A few months later, CCCS asked a federal judge to dismiss the fair-debt collection claim on the theory that CCCS didn’t want to sue itself. Arellano opposed the motion. U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey noted that the case “presented an interesting situation” and then ruled for CCCS, effectively killing Arellano’s lawsuit. The hearing took 11 minutes.

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Star Wars The Force Awakens as told by Emoji Wed, 17 Aug 2016 13:39:20 +0000