It’s not enough that a number of our major cities have been effectively taken over by Marxist revolutionaries. It’s not enough that the ever-more-entitled political class flouts the rules they put in place for the rest of us. Oh, no, there’s more; one of our most populous states is tasting the fruits of leftist governance, and in response bending over and proclaiming “Thank you sir, may I have another?” By way of an example, yesterday ever-more-loony Mayor of Los Angeles tweeted out this little gem:
It’s almost 3 p.m. Time to turn off major appliances, set the thermostat to 78 degrees (or use a fan instead), turn off excess lights and unplug any appliances you’re not using.
We need every Californian to help conserve energy. Please do your part. #FlexAlert
Oh, but it gets better! California has long had an option for plenty of “green,” clean, cheap abundant energy in the form of nuclear power. But in 2018, that state voted to close their last nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon, thus condemning the people of California to, well, shutting off their major appliances at 3PM.
There’s an old joke that applies here:
Q: What did socialists use for light before candles?
Now, I’m pretty confident that the LA Mayor’s energy footprint is well above the average for denizens of the once and former City of Angels. I’m damn well positive Governor Newsome’s is. But hey, we can’t expect the elite to live under the restrictions they place on us poor schlubs, right? Just ask Nancy Pelosi’s stylist. Or Al Gore. Meanwhile, the people of California are finding out what it’s like to live under the thumb of a state government that is, at best, incompetent and at worst, malignant.
When I first read some of Ayn Rand’s work back in the early Eighties, I found a fair amount of the underlying philosophy interesting, but I never thought I’d live to see Atlas Shrugged becoming as prescient as it seems to be now.
Thanks to everyone, by the way, for the advice and commiseration on my comments about back pain yesterday. This morning things are greatly improved and I’m sure I’ll be back to normal in time to hit the trail looking for mountain grouse on Saturday. Thanks again!
Nancy Pelosi got a blowout at a San Francisco salon closed under COVID rules since March and was filmed inside the store without a mask, footage released Tuesday shows.
In the clip taken at eSalon in the city Monday afternoon and obtained by Fox News the Democrat is seen with wet hair and her mask around her neck rather than on her face, as she is followed closely behind by a stylist, who is in a face covering.
Salons in San Francisco have been closed since March and were only told they could reopen Tuesday; they can still only offer outside styling. In June Pelosi said a federal mandate on mask wearing was ‘long overdue’.
Pelosi’s spokesperson told Fox News: ‘This business offered for the Speaker to come in on Monday and told her they were allowed by the city to have one customer at a time in the business. The Speaker complied with the rules as presented to her by this establishment.’
Conservatives pounced, casting Pelosi as a hypocrite. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted: ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’
‘Speaker Pelosi has pushed policies that would keep our economy closed and our small businesses shut down. But for herself?’ Senate Republicans tweeted. ‘A salon visit whenever she pleases.’
Queen Nancy has shown, repeatedly, that when it comes to optics she’s pretty brain-dead. Her recent posing in front of her massive luxury ice-cream freezer in the midst of small businesses crashing and burning due to Kung Flu shutdowns, for example. This episode is just one of the most recent. And, to be fair, she’s not the only pol engaging in this kind of crap; remember when Bill Clinton shut down an entire airport for a couple of hours so he could get a haircut?
Too many pols think that with great power comes great privilege. Queen Nancy is one of the worst, true, but she’s certainly not the only one. “But Animal,” you may ask, “what’s the solution to this kind of egregious hypocrisy?”
Well, term limits might be one solution; it would take a Constitutional amendment, but it would reduce the empire-building that allows Congress-critters to amass such influence that they think they can disregard the rules they want to apply to the rest of us.
The other, of course, is to somehow go back and restrict Congress and the rest of the Imperial government to the limits supposedly imposed on them by the Constitution, which prohibits them from imposing many of the rules, regulations and restrictions that we currently suffer under.
But, honestly, we’re way past the point where either of those is going to happen. We still have the ballot box, but again, honestly, look at San Francisco; Queen Nancy can hold that seat as long as she wants it.
Hey, though, there’s another answer, and you’re reading an example of it. While the legacy media seems to ignore these kinds of things, the plethora of alternative media and the blogosphere sure doesn’t. The information is out there for those willing to look for it.
Gavin Newsom’s $3.7 million, 12,000 square foot mansion, on 8+ acres along the American River in Sacramento, was the area’s most expensive home sale in 2018
The gated estate consists of a 6 bedroom/10 bath home, a guest house, a pool, a tennis court, and a wine cave
An LLC registered to Newsom’s cousin, long-time business partner, and Co-President of PlumpJack, Jeremy Scherer, paid cash for the estate in December 2018
Newsom’s spox, though, claimed in Jan 2019 that it was Newsom who’d paid cash for the home – puzzling, since Newsom still carried a $3.2 million mortgage on his prior home
In Oct 2019 the LLC gifted the home to the Newsoms free and clear, claiming Newsom was a member of the LLC to avoid a $4,000 Transfer Tax
In January 2020 the Newsoms received $2.7 million tax-free when they obtained a cash-out refinance
Newsom’s financial disclosure forms don’t mention the LLC or the gifts, which far exceed the $500 limit
In 2003, Newsom was cited for failing to disclose $11 million in real estate and business loans
One thing that’s become extraordinarily clear to Californians in 2020 is that there’s one set of rules for Gov. Gavin Newsom, and there’s another set of rules for the rest of us. He preaches that we’re all in this together and that we have to sacrifice to “meet this moment,” yet he’s not missing a paycheck.
While the dream of owning a home is increasingly out of reach for California’s families, it appears that Newsom received a $3.7 million estate from an LLC owned by his cousin then, a few months later took out a $2.695 million (tax-free) cash-out mortgage on it — and didn’t report the gift on any of his financial disclosure forms.
Yes, it’s clear that Gavin Newsom doesn’t live by the same rules the rest of us do. It’s good to be king.
In any sane universe, Newsom would be impeached, removed from office, and facing criminal charges. But not now, not this Governor, not in California; he will certainly get away with this, and will probably be re-elected into the bargain, because in California, as we continually see confirmed, some animals are more equal than others, and “progressive” Democrat governors are obviously the most equal of them all.
The more one examines all of the circumstances around Newsom’s Fair Oaks estate, the more questions arise. Gavin Newsom needs to provide real answers, not the kind he’s given in the past.
But we all know he won’t. Nobody in the legacy media will ask any uncomfortable questions about this; nobody in the legacy media will write a single syllable about it. Newsom has the one item of sure-fire armor against having any of these shenanigans investigated:
A “D” after his name.
Congratulations, California. You’re getting the government you want, good and hard.
The atoms of the most common isotope (99.99 percent) of hydrogen contain only one proton, one electron, and no neutrons. Deuterium is an isotope of hydrogen with one neutron and one proton in its nucleus.
There is also an extremely rare isotope, tritium, with one proton and two neutrons. It is radioactive and has been used as a radio-luminescent light source in watches and other devices. I have a keychain that a friend gave me with a tiny cylinder containing tritium; it glows in the dark so you can find your keys. I never lose my keys, so I don’t need it to find them. I appreciate it as a novelty item; I know any potential health risk from carrying it is negligible, and I’m not worried.
Deuterium accounts for 0.02 percent of the hydrogen in ocean water. Other water sources contain slightly different amounts. It is also known as heavy hydrogen, and water containing artificially increased concentrations of deuterium is known as heavy water. Heavy water can be produced by distillation and other methods. What’s left over is deuterium depleted water, or DDW.
That’s what deuterium-depleted water is. As to the scam, here’s the why:
A Chinese study claimed that studies had demonstrated that drinking DDW caused growth arrest of malignant cells in cancer patients and significantly prolonged patient survival with also improved quality of life. I looked for those studies but didn’t find much. I found this uncontrolled study of 129 patients with brain metastases from lung cancer who drank DDW and got conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The results are suspect because females survived three times as long as males. The only other human clinical study I found was a double-blind phase 2 trial in Hungary that found a greater decrease in prostate volume in prostate cancer patients randomized to drink DDW. They concluded that DDW “can act as a highly effective tool in cancer therapy,” a conclusion that goes way beyond the data.
A few years back when I was working in Silicon Valley, the latest Big New Thing among the hippies and New Age nuts out there was “raw water,” as in water taken directly from streams, no extra charge for the included typhus, cholera and giardia pathogens. So now we have deuterium-depleted water, of no discernible benefit to anyone, except for the scammers who will make bucks selling this stuff to the rubes – who will, of course, have no way of even confirming if the stuff in the bottle is really deuterium-depleted or not.
As one of our regular readers commented on the “raw water” story, there really is a sucker born every minute – and a lot of them live in California. (Gwyneth, are you listening?)
It’s one thing when someone kills themselves because of their own nitwittery. It may rate them a Darwin Award, but what the hell. But when they kill their own newborn infant, that’s another thing entirely. Excerpt:
Lotus Birth occurs when both the baby and the placenta are delivered without severance of the umbilical cord, which is typically delayed 30 to 60 seconds but must be done right away when a newborn needs urgent evaluation and possible resuscitation. In most Lotus Births, the placenta is left attached to the baby for at several days and is kept in a special salt and herb-filled sack or bucket until the dried umbilical cord separates naturally from the baby.
In her still prominent (top ten when searching “Lotus Birth” on Google) and recently updated post on Lotus Birth, Genevieve “Mama Natural” Howland attempts to present a balanced discussion of the practice, likely pulling in people on the fence, but fails miserably:
Lotus birth is about keeping the umbilical cord and placenta with the baby while he or she gently transitions to life outside the womb. It is a quiet and respectful transfer of attachment, without the trauma of being cut from the mother.
This implies that cutting the umbilical cord after 30-60 seconds, which has solid evidence of benefit compared to immediate severance when a newborn is stable, is somehow…disrespectful and traumatic. This is absurd. I put the full weight of my 2 decades of medical experience behind the fact that babies don’t care when the cord is cut. And it is a painless procedure, as there are no nerves in the cord.
Howland further reveals her bias by implying that Lotus Birth is based in some kind of ancient wisdom:
The name comes from the lotus flower, a flower important to Eastern cultures for its symbolism of unity, detachment, and rebirth. Lotus births speckle the history of childbirth in cultures around the globe, in places like Bali and Southern Africa. Historical traces of lotus births appear in Europe as early as the Middle Ages. And records of not cutting the umbilical cord appear on the American continent as early as the pioneer days. In Western nations, lotus birth seems to be a new birth trend steeped in early tradition.
She links to a 2012 article that discusses the timing of cord severance from a historical perspective but which doesn’t at all touch on Lotus Birth. Since 2012, we have learned a lot about the potential benefits of delaying clamping of the umbilical cord and it has become a science-based practice. But again, Lotus Birth is not remotely the same thing as delayed cord clamping.
Here’s the onion:
In 2017, Harlow (Eden) was born via an emergency C-Section in a Melbourne hospital. She was a “miracle baby” born after 13 years and more than a dozen IVF attempts. This, and exposure to all manner of pseudoscientific medical misinformation, likely led Harlow’s parents to choose a Lotus Birth. Their stated goal was to ease Harlow’s transitioning and to boost her immune system.
As is often the case, because parents unfortunately tend to cluster these types of poor medical decisions, Harlow’s parents also chose to refuse science-based recommendations for intramuscular vitamin K and the Hepatitis B vaccine. They also practiced vaginal seeding, another risk factor for serious infection. And, sadly, they also refused initial attempts by hospital staff to move Harlow to a special care nursery for closer observation.
By 16 hours of age, Harlow had developed hypoglycemia, which can occur in any baby but is more likely to occur when they are sick. At that point, the umbilical cord was cut and she was transferred to the special care nursery. She soon developed signs of sepsis, with respiratory distress and poor perfusion, so antibiotics were initiated. Despite this, she died the following day after having been transferred to a tertiary care center. The coroner determined that Harlow died from sepsis in the setting of a Lotus Birth.
It’s important to note that almost all placental mammals cut the umbilical cord very quickly after birth, usually by biting/chewing, and usually within a couple of minutes, and for many millions of years now placental mammals have been having healthy offspring. So this is hardly a brand-new practice.
I’m honestly in favor of freedom of choice in all things, even medical treatment, as long as it’s a consenting adult agreeing to New Age kookery. If someone wants to listen to quackery (Gwyneth, are you listening?) and stick a jade egg up their cooze only to die of toxic shock, that’s on them.
But in this case there was an innocent infant involved. If this isn’t a case of child neglect resulting in death, I don’t know what is.
For his first three years of life, Izidor lived at the hospital.
The dark-eyed, black-haired boy, born June 20, 1980, had been abandoned when he was a few weeks old. The reason was obvious to anyone who bothered to look: His right leg was a bit deformed. After a bout of illness (probably polio), he had been tossed into a sea of abandoned infants in the Socialist Republic of Romania.
In films of the period documenting orphan care, you see nurses like assembly-line workers swaddling newborns out of a seemingly endless supply; with muscled arms and casual indifference, they sling each one onto a square of cloth, expertly knot it into a tidy package, and stick it at the end of a row of silent, worried-looking babies. The women don’t coo or sing to them.* You see the small faces trying to fathom what’s happening as their heads whip by during the wrapping maneuvers.
In his hospital, in the Southern Carpathian mountain town of Sighetu Marmaţiei, Izidor would have been fed by a bottle stuck into his mouth and propped against the bars of a crib. Well past the age when children in the outside world began tasting solid food and then feeding themselves, he and his age-mates remained on their backs, sucking from bottles with widened openings to allow the passage of a watery gruel. Without proper care or physical therapy, the baby’s leg muscles wasted. At 3, he was deemed “deficient” and transferred across town to a Cămin Spital Pentru Copii Deficienţi, a Home Hospital for Irrecoverable Children.
The cement fortress emitted no sounds of children playing, though as many as 500 lived inside at one time. It stood mournfully aloof from the cobblestone streets and sparkling river of the town where Elie Wiesel had been born, in 1928, and enjoyed a happy childhood before the Nazi deportations.
Go, then, and read the whole thing, detailing this child’s life in a system where the state proclaimed this (emphasis added by me):
To house a generation of unwanted or unaffordable children, Ceauşescu ordered the construction or conversion of hundreds of structures around the country. Signs displayed the slogan:the state can take better care of your child than you can.
We haven’t come to that in the United States yet, but we do have the various local teacher’s unions proclaiming that they can educate our kids better than we can, and Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I loudly claiming “it takes a village” to raise a child. Well, it doesn’t; it takes a family to raise a child. You can see the results of the other approach, taken to the extreme, in the linked article: Neglected children, irreparably damaged adults.
These, True Believers, are the fruits of socialism: An uncaring, all-powerful state that can’t even manage to show the most elementary human decencies to infants and children. Not just in Romania, either; Stalin made Hitler look like a piker when it came to mass murder. Mao and Pol Pot were in the running as well.
I don’t think there is any way to have an all-powerful state without reducing the populace to servitude. Only liberty can keep people prosperous, happy and healthy. Only when people are free to make their own decisions, live their own lives, care for their own families, and to use their own talents, resources and abilities to the fullest extent, can a nation be truly happy and prosperous. And to achieve this, a nation has to be founded on the principles of inalienable human rights, with limited government strictly barred from interfering with those rights.
Westby and Conselice present a revision of the Drake equation that loops in new findings from “a mixture of areas of contemporary astronomy,” according to the study. For instance, thousands of exoplanets have been detected in alien star systems over the past two decades, so Westby and Conselice included data about the odds that worlds orbit their stars within the habitable zone where liquid water can exist. The team also focused on the timescale of intelligent life’s emergence on Earth, a process that took about 4.5 billion years.
The pair’s results produced a range of possible CETI populations that currently exist in the Milky Way, with four at the low end, 211 as an upper limit, and 36 as the most likely figure based on the team’s assumptions.
These high numbers may sound like great news for alien enthusiasts, but Westby and Conselice caution that even if their estimate is correct, CETI worlds may be too far away from Earth to establish communication. If 36 contactable civilizations were scattered throughout the galaxy, they would be about 17,000 light years away from our planet on average, a distance that would require at least 34,000 years for a two-way conversation.
I’d be the most amazed person on the planet if somehow someone could establish that there are no intelligent species out there, somewhere, in the billions of planets that certainly exist in our galaxy. But the Drake equation and this update of it are based only on assumptions; the only solid basis this thesis has at all is the estimated number of exoplanets in our galaxy, which again, is an extrapolation built on a very small sample.
And when we talk about communicating, well, there’s no guarantee that any alien species would even use a form of communication we could detect, let alone understand, or that they’d even be similar to us enough culturally as to allow any social interaction at all.
I’ve cranked out a fair amount of science fiction myself. Alien intelligence is almost a necessity of sci-fi; the only major series I can think of that did without it was Asimov’s Foundation series and its two sister series, the Empire and Robot books. But that’s fiction. And this is guesswork. It’s kind of sad, but there you are.
The American Council on Science and Health have debunked the anti-GMO “grassroots” folks. Hint: It’s astroturf. Excerpt:
Based on a year-long investigation of tax records and annual reports from hundreds of anti-GMO advocacy groups and their donors, the GLP tracker reveals that, instead of underdogs taking on the corporate establishment, many activist groups are highly skilled public relations operations with big budgets working to demonize crop biotechnology. Over the five-year period 2012-2016, anti-GMO groups received $850,922,324 in donations from organic food companies and wealthy foundations.
The tracker features an interactive network map illustrating the financial relationships between donors (yellow circles) and recipients (blue circles), as well as exportable financial data and detailed profiles of the top 50 organizations. All the data can be toggled by year and size of the organizations (top 10, 25, 50 etc.) (See this article for an in-depth explanation on how to use the tracker.)
A network map depicting donors and recipients.
These nonprofit groups comprise a highly organized movement that promotes a similar message, shares many of the same donors and, in some cases, the same leadership. Veteran Greenpeace researcher Charlie Cray, for instance, sits on the board of directors at U.S. Right to Know, an organic industry-funded activist group known for attacking biotech scientists as agrichemical industry “shills.” Likewise, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), creator of the infamous “Dirty Dozen” list, is funded by an industry lobbying outfit called Organic Voices Action Fund (OVAF). EWG president Ken Cook sits on OVAF’s board of directors.
Beyond the extensive latticework of activism laid bare by GLP’s tracker, there are more illuminating facts consumers, policymakers and journalists should be aware of.
Here’s something the report doesn’t mention; see that big blue funding source at the bottom left? The Tides Center? That’s a Soros-funded operation.
Now, George Soros has the right to spend his money as he pleases, same as anyone. And we have the right to detest him for his choices. And I won’t speak for you, True Believers, but I find Soros eminently detestable.
But that’s not the point of this article.
Here are a couple of later excerpts that lay out the real takeaways:
Anti-GMO activists are wont to complain that the biotech industry has spent enormous sums of money lobbying politicians to block regulation of its genetically engineered seeds and pesticides. This is simplistic, since biotech and plant protection products are tightly regulated by the FDA, USDA and EPA, at considerable cost to the industry. But the more important point is that the activist groups have spent far more on lobbying than ‘Big Ag,’ and the reason is simple, as GLP points out:
“Based on the data we’ve been able to ferret out … pro-GMO spending is sizable but remains a fraction of the expenditures of anti-GMO groups … While anti-GMO groups spend hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying through the media and the internet to make their case that transgenic and gene-edited crops are unhealthy or unsustainable and therefore should be banned or labeled, biotechnology companies spend most of their money on product development.”
Anti-GMO activism is funded to a large extent by the organic food industry, which sees biotechnology as a threat to its profitability. Nonetheless, a sizable portion of the donations collected by anti-crop biotech groups comes from foundations that otherwise fund mainstream scientific research and education.
The Packard Foundation, for instance, has contributed to a variety of science-based organizations, noting on its website that it “supports creative, timely research to spark fresh thinking and produce effective, innovative solutions.” However, the foundation also gave the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) $1,250,000 between 2012 and 2016.
NRDC hasn’t been shy about opposing the scientific consensus on GMOs, reciting the familiar talking point that biotech companies “have a stranglehold” on the federal agencies that should be regulating them. The environmental group has also worked with journalist Paul Thacker, who refers to pro-science groups, including the Genetic Literacy Project and ACSH, as Monsanto’s “spies” for educating the public about GMOs.
For many foundations, this tracker should spark some reflection and reconsideration of its funding practices, as the GLP notes:
Even some of the most aggressive anti-GMO groups devoted solely to attacking biotechnology have received sizable grants from otherwise pro-science foundations … Are these foundations aware that they are funding activist groups that rely on scientifically unsound research and reject the overwhelming scientific consensus that GMO technology is safe?
So the anti-GMO groups cry “victim” status while outspending the actual science side by orders of magnitude – and some of the money they are spending come from people and organizations that really ought to know better. What a debacle.
The real tragedy in all this is that GMO crops like golden rice could solve food shortages all over the Third World by producing high-yield crops that can be more easily grown on the marginal lands that many Third World nations seem to be cursed with. But well-meaning yet ignorant activists in the U.S. and Europe campaign against these crops for no good reason.
And people like the detestable George Soros fund them.
The Imperial City’s debt load has shot past $100 trillion, (here’s the source) and nobody much in any of the three co-equal branches of the Imperial Government appear to give even one little shit. Excerpts, with my comments:
The U.S. Treasury has published a major report revealing that the federal government has amassed $103.7 trillion in debts, liabilities, and unfunded obligations. To place this unprecedented shortfall in perspective, it amounts to:
$315,315 for every person living in the U.S.
$806,181 for every household in the U.S.
4.8 times the size of the U.S. economy.
29 times annual federal revenues.
91% of the combined net worth of all U.S. households and nonprofit organizations, including all assets in savings, real estate, corporate stocks, private businesses, and consumer durable goods such as automobiles and furniture.
Holy crap. Holy crap. We are so, so hosed. And it’s absolutely, unarguably, batshit insane that we’ve gotten to this point.
The new data reflect the government’s finances at the close of its 2019 fiscal year on September 30th. Thus, they don’t include added spending that has been passed and proposed to support individuals, businesses, and the general economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yeah, well, so what? What’s a few more trillion between friends?
This official report is mandated by a federal law that requires the Treasury and White House to produce a full accounting of the government’s “overall financial position” by no later than March 31st of each year. Beyond the national debt, it also includes the government’s explicit and implicit commitments. This method approximates the accounting standards that the federal government imposes on publicly traded corporations.
Here’s the big difference, though: Publicly traded corporations are held accountable for fiscal shenanigans. They are held accountable by their Boards, by their customers, and eventually by law enforcement and the courts.
The government, one could argue, is held accountable by the voters. But as long as the voting public includes (at least) a plurality of voters that vote for nothing more than an ever-increasing fire hose of Free Shit, without any knowledge nor concern about the coming debtpocolypse, this insanity will continue unchecked.
And note President Trump’s reaction to the coronavirus crisis: Throwing trillions of debt-funded dollars at it. The President is certainly no fiscal conservative. On spending issues he’s basically what he was most of his life, a moderate Democrat.
Unlike higher estimates of the federal government’s fiscal shortfall that extend indefinitely into the future, these figures only include Americans who are alive right now. Thus, they estimate the burden that today’s Americans are placing on future generations.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: We have mortgaged our grandchildren’s futures, and history will rightly damn us for it.
Although the report discloses information of crucial import to U.S. citizens, Google News indicates that no media outlet has informed Americans about it since it was released on February 27th.
Of course not! Not only do most Americans lack the economic knowledge to comprehend how awful this is, most don’t care; add to that the fact that most legacy media talking heads are statist jackwagons who enthusiastically support endless spending on Free Shit.
The article here concludes:
While some believe the U.S. government can spend and borrow with abandon because it is so large and can print money, one of the most established laws of economics is that there no such thing as a free lunch. The prolific economist William A. McEachern explains why this is so:
There is no free lunch because all goods and services involve a cost to someone. The lunch may seem free to you, but it draws scarce resources away from the production of other goods and services, and whoever provides a free lunch often expects something in return. A Russian proverb makes a similar point but with a bit more bite: “The only place you find free cheese is in a mousetrap.”
There’s another economic principle in play here: Stein’s Law. This states, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” This insane roller-coaster of spending is going to have to stop at some point, and what happens then?
What happens to our major cities when the flow of Free Shit is cut off?
What happens when pols realize there is no more money spigot with which to buy votes?
What happens when Imperial subsidies stop?
Sooner or later, we’re going to find out. And what happens won’t be anything good.
The nation is sequestering-in-place, the Trump Administration has put off the tax-filing deadline by three months, and the tax-scammers have been given an added ninety-day window to continue their nefarious machinations. Here are some folks who are scamming the scammers. Excerpt:
The extension of the filing deadline not only gives taxpayers three extra months, but also provides scammers with an extra 90 days of prime-time flim-flam. In a normal year, some 61% of tax scams are reported between January and April, according to the Better Business Bureau. All told, the IRS has logged more than 736,000 scam “contacts” since 2013, costing taxpayers some $23 million. The number is likely much higher since many cases go unreported.
In addition to robocalls, scam methods include fake IRS letterheads and addresses, emails and outright demands to pay taxes not owed. In each case, the operators are looking for quick cash or vital personal financial information. They employ “phishing” techniques to get victims to reply with Social Security or bank account numbers. Then can use that information to open up credit cards or sell it to other thieves.
How do scamsters acquire personal information and what do they do with it once they get their hands on it? Tyler Carbone, chief strategy officer of Terbium Labs, a digital risk protection firm, says one of the most prevalent ways to steal personal information is through W-2s, the basic tax forms employers use.
When immediate payment is demanded, though, thieves often tell victims that they need to send them gift cards or single-use debit cards. “Older folks tend to be the biggest targets, especially those on Social Security,” Lavelle said.
“It’s definitely an ongoing game of cat and mouse,” Carbone concludes. “Law-enforcement, both U.S. and international, are constantly trying to identify the hosts of these sites. That’s why we need to take an automated approach to finding and crawling these sites, as existing markets are shut down by law-enforcement, and new ones emerge.”
Here’s the bright bit, though; there are folks out there who are scamming the scammers, and that’s pretty damn funny.
There are, of course, all kinds of scammers out there. They tend to prey on the young and old; one of our daughters got a call from one of the IRS scammers, and fortunately was savvy enough to know that the IRS never calls people and says “we are sending the police to your location.”
The Old Man once got one of those “this is your granddaughter, I’m in trouble and I need money!” calls. He told me about it cheerfully; he responded to the caller by asking “What’s your name?”
“Don’t you recognize my voice, Grandpa?”
“No. What’s your name?” Silence. The Old Man hung up.
There can be no doubt that these phone scammers are the worst sort of scum. The problem is, most of them are the worst sort of scum that are in parts of the world (eastern Europe, Pakistan and, yes, China) that can’t or won’t be arsed to track them down and extradite them to the U.S. for prosecution.
So, what to do?
I honestly think one of the better answers is folks like the guy who runs the Scammer Payback YouTube channel linked above. He’s visiting some small but annoying justice on the scammers, entertaining his viewers, and letting the scammers know that there is a risk of being back-hacked and having their information messed with. That’s worth doing.
Other than that, I’m afraid this is a hazard we have to live with. Not every problem has an easy solution. Be aware, True Believers, and be informed. That’s the best defense.