Decline and Fall of the U.S.A.?

While conducting some  research to help a client locate a new plant location in the U.S., I came across this:

Census: Near-record level of US counties dying

… roughly 760 of the nation’s 3,142 counties are fading away, stretching from industrial areas near Pittsburgh and Cleveland to the vineyards outside San Francisco to the rural areas of east Texas and the Great Plains.”

… the U.S. population grew by just 9.7 percent since 2000, the lowest decennial rate since the Great Depression.”

This trend may help Canadian companies move into the U.S. to avoid the border clogging security delays, however, this is only a short-term advantage.

If the U.S. does not take decisive action to reduce its deficit, control immigration, reduce taxes so that young couples will have children, and reform its education system, then it will not be long before the U.S.A. enters the ranks of once-great countries like the U.K., Spain, or Portugal.

Social Media and Investigators

Discoverability and Ethics of Social Media Data

Richard Raysman and Peter Brown, New York Law Journal, December 15, 2010

Throughout North America, courts, legislators, and lawyers are learning how to ethically deal with the investigation of social media content.

The New York City Bar’s Committee on Professional Ethics recently issued an opinion entitled “Obtaining Evidence From Social Networking Websites.” In Formal Opinion 2010-2, the committee stated that a lawyer may not attempt to gain access to a social network website under false pretenses, either directly or through an agent.

Rather, the committee advised that a lawyer should rely on discovery procedures sanctioned by the ethical rules and case law to obtain relevant evidence, such as the “friending” of unrepresented parties without using deception or by using formal discovery devices such as non-party subpoenas directed to social network providers.

The committee recognized that, generally speaking, users are easier to deceive in the online world than if approached in person: “Despite the common sense admonition not to ‘open the door’ to strangers, social networking users often do just that with a click of the mouse.”

For example, an attorney or hired investigator might pose as an old classmate and send a friend request to a potential witness or unrepresented party in order to gather personal information. The committee stated that such deceptive behavior was barred under the New York Rules of Professional Conduct, namely Rules 4.1 and 8.4(c), which prohibit attorneys from making false statements and engaging in dishonest conduct, respectively.

Related Posts:

Facebook Intelligence

Social Sites Subpoenaed

Tucson Shooting

The shooting of U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford and the others is a deplorable event. However, we have heard the ensuing nonsense about political rhetoric before.

In 1995, a deranged knife-wielding man broke into 24 Sussex Dr. as then Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his wife, Aline, were sleeping. Afterward, former Prime Minister Joe Clark said, “I think this is an increasingly dangerous time.  I think people are very frustrated and the extent of angry rhetoric in the country can lead people to extreme actions. On the other hand, that is part of the risk one runs in a democracy. You can’t cordon yourself off.”

The suspected shooter, Jared Lee Loughner’s YouTube channel makes him look like a lunatic who probably believed he was subject to mind control. At least The Catcher in the Rye didn’t appear in his list of favorite books.

Stand back or you will be run over by the stampeding conspiracy theorists and political pundits advocating everything from more gun control to the arrest of Sara Palin for inciting this, and a wide variety of fund raising on the back of this tragedy.

Nothing new happens in politics.

Regulatory Risk From Bribery

According to the 2010/2011 Kroll Annual Global Fraud Report, many companies do not recognise the risks associated with bribery.

“Companies are unprepared for regulation: Increased regulation through the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the introduction of the UK’s new Bribery Act has created new challenges for companies. According to the survey, nearly two-thirds (63%) of businesses with operations in the US or UK believe the laws do not apply to them or are unsure. As a result, many are unprepared to deal with the regulatory risks: less than one-half (47%) are confident that they have the controls in place to prevent bribery at all levels of the operation, compared with 42% who say they have assessed the risks and put in place the necessary monitoring and reporting procedures.”

Inter-Corporate Ownership Searching II

Corporate Affiliations

The Corporate Affiliations database appears on LexisNexis and Dialog. It can also be purchased as directories and on CD. According to the Dialog Bluesheet, it covers about 184,000 U.S. and non-U.S. companies. This includes private and public companies, both parents and their subsidiaries and major divisions. All major U.S. domestic and international stock exchange listed companies are included. U.S. privately held companies must have reported annual sales in excess of $10 million and foreign privately held companies must have reported annual sales in excess of $50 million to be included in the database. Each record includes the executive names, director names, corporate family hierarchy. Net worth, total assets, and total liabilities sometimes appear in the record.

I have never found this resource particularly useful because it has a high threshold for inclusion of companies. It is also US-centric. It shines for researching large enterprises with a large component in the U.S.A..

Microsoft Forensic Analysis Tool for Police

Microsoft Has Developed Windows Forensic Analysis Tool for Police

The COFEE, which stands for Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor, is a USB “thumb drive” that was quietly distributed to a handful of law-enforcement agencies last June. Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith described its use to the 350 law-enforcement experts attending a company conference Monday.

The device contains 150 commands that can dramatically cut the time it takes to gather digital evidence, which is becoming more important in real-world crime, as well as cybercrime. It can decrypt passwords and analyze a computer’s Internet activity, as well as data stored in the computer.

It also eliminates the need to seize a computer itself, which typically involves disconnecting from a network, turning off the power and potentially losing data. Instead, the investigator can scan for evidence on site.

Microsoft did not develop the tools:

COFEE, according to forensic folk who have used it, is simply a suite of 150 bundled off-the-shelf forensic tools that run from a script. None of the tools are new or were created by Microsoft. Microsoft simply combined existing programs into a portable tool that can be used in the field before agents bring a computer back to their forensic lab.Microsoft wouldn’t disclose which tools are in the suite other than that they’re all publicly available, but a forensic expert told me that when he tested the product last year it included standard forensic products like Windows Forensic Toolchest (WFT) and RootkitRevealer.

With COFEE, a forensic agent can select, through the interface, which of the 150 investigative tools he wants to run on a targeted machine. COFEE creates a script and copies it to the USB device which is then plugged into the targeted machine. The advantage is that instead of having to run each tool separately, a forensic investigator can run them all through the script much more quickly and can also grab information (such as data temporarily stored in RAM or network connection information) that might otherwise be lost if he had to disconnect a machine and drag it to a forensics lab before he could examine it.

But given that a U.S. Federal court has ruled that U.S. border guards can search laptop computers without cause, this tool might see wider use than Microsoft anticipated.

Chinese Spies Steal US Passport Smart Chip

The US authorities demand that everybody entering their country have a passport and identity documents compliant with their security standards, but when it comes to their own passports, they have a much lower security standard than they demand of other countries.

Outsourcing passports ‘profound liability’

The blank passports travel to Europe where a microchip is inserted in the back cover and then onto Thailand where they are fitted with a radio antenna. The Netherlands company that makes the covers for the passport said in October that China stole the technology for the microchips, the Times said.

Outsourced passports netting govt. profits, risking national security

The Government Printing Office’s decision to export the work has proved lucrative, allowing the agency to book more than $100 million in recent profits by charging the State Department more money for blank passports than it actually costs to make them, according to interviews with federal officials and documents obtained by The Times.

Faked-Death & Impersonation-of-the-Dead Fraud

We have all heard of the faked-death scams to defraud insurance companies, escape prosecution, or to start over. The latter always happens in the aftermath of mass-casualty events like train wrecks, fires, and terrorist attacks. But what about the reverse — pretending to be somebody who has died?

This is not uncommon simply because it is so difficult to uncover the truth of someone’s identity and it has been so throughout my thirty years of Canadian experience.

In Canada, registering deaths is a provincial responsibility. The national vital statistics death registration system run by Statistics Canada does not include the deceased’s name or date of birth. There are no public search facilities for determining if the identity that you are presented with is that of a dead person.

In the U.S.A., the Social Security Administration Death Master file includes 98% of deaths of persons who participated in the Social Security program. This is may be searched at several internet sites.

In the UK, Smee & Ford Limited created a database called Mortascreen, which was used to screen direct mail lists for deceased people. This data was augmented and is now used as the foundation for Halo, a database that covers 85% of the deaths occurring annually in the UK. It is updated monthly and includes historical data to make it useful for verifying a person’s identity.

According to the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, CIFAS, since 2001, impersonation of the dead is Britain’s fastest growing identity theft crime. The latest research suggests the problem has been under-stated by 3.5 times and revised statistics now indicate that 70,000 families experienced the pain of discovering their loved one had been impersonated after their death, to open accounts such as credit cards and loans.

According to the Home Office figures on crime in England and Wales in Jan 2003, “Between April 2000 and March 2001, the passport agency detected 1,484 fraudulent applications of which 301 used the identities of the deceased.”

I suspect that Canada may have a problem with this type of identity theft, but there is no way of knowing the extent of the the problem.