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Amid the ongoing saga of the NSA and our government's never-ending disregard for our privacy and liberty, yet another incredible set of events are occurring.

On August 9, a small email provider, Lavabit, abruptly shut down its service rather than comply with an NSA request to monitor any and all of their customer's accounts. Lavabit provided encrypted email without any logging, meaning that requests for users' data could not be fulfilled as such data did not exist - or it was encrypted in such a way as to be unreadable. Days later, Lavabit's founder has been threatened with criminal charges for shuttering his business rather than comply with domestic spying.

The same day, another email provider, Silent Circle, decided without warning to delete all their users' email from their own servers and discontinue all email services. This was done to prevent government reading email headers and gathering information about users, their location and their personal correspondence. For Silent Circle CEO Mike Janke, the writing was on the wall:

Janke says that news triggered an emergency conversation with Phil Zimmermann, a Silent Circle founder who in 1991 created the e-mail encryption protocol known as PGP for “pretty good privacy” (see “An App Keeps Spies Away from Your iPhone”). “Once we saw what happened with Lavabit, we realized it wasn’t days, it was hours that we had to make a decision,” Janke says. But he adds that he never did receive [an NSA] request.
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Rallies in Hong Kong took place today in defense of Snowden and to prevent his extradition.

It's been my opinion that a quick and easy way for China to embarrass American would be to grant asylum, but whether or not that happens remains to be seen. This seems like an unlikely scenario, however Hong Kong can separately provide asylum, and China cannot intervene. Whether any party agrees to asylum or extradition is, of course, speculation at this point.

According to Hong Kong law, if the U.S. was to request the city to surrender Snowden, Beijing could step in only if its defence or foreign affairs would be significantly affected by Hong Kong's actions. Beijing is not allowed to interfere with any asylum proceedings.
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Today the Minnesota House votes on the topic of marriage equality. A live stream is available for those who want to watch / listen.

The legislation can be read online (MN HF1054), and gives the requisite exemptions for religious organizations to deny marrying same sex couples ... in case they weren't aware they have that ability already.

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Herein lies information I've gleaned from 3rd party sources as well as my own, direct experiences regarding credit reporting and collection agencies. It's strictly not meant to be legal advice, so if you find yourself in a legally compromising situation, talk to a lawyer! They'd love to hear from you.

First, some basic knowledge. Before starting, freeze your credit report by contacting the 3 main credit bureaus. "Freezing" just disallows new accounts from opening. If someone or some company you've never done business with checks your report after freezing, they'll be barred.

Also, check your state's statute of limitations (SOL) for being sued. If you have a collection account younger than your SOL, you can be sued for it, and you really don't want that to happen. In those cases, don't contact them, and if they contact you, "play nice." If they call you, don't talk on the phone! And when you discuss the debt over mail, it is alleged. Anything construed as admission of ownership will reset the SOL.

Lastly, accounts don't show up on your account after 7 years, so if any of your accounts are nearing that age, you can probably just ignore them (assuming they're also out of the SOL).

Golden Rules

Allow me to tell you about some general Golden Rules I've come to understand.

Don't

1. Don't talk to collection agencies on the phone, ever. Further, if you do find yourself talking to one on the phone, do not give them any personal information about yourself. There is always the chance the the collection agency (CA) is a scam, or the original creditor (OC) was a scam, and adding your personal information to it will add to its validity later.

2. Never ignore a debt, legal notice or collection agency. They won't go away, and outright ignoring them will be taken as refusal to pay. Lots of things could possibly happen, like filing public judgements in court that anyone can see for the foreseeable future (thank you, Internet) or your wages could be garnished. That sounds bad, and it means that the entire HR department & supervisors at your work will know about your debt. Suddenly you'll find yourself missing promotions. On the other hand, if you don't want collection agencies calling you, write them a letter telling them phone calls are inconvenient, and outlining where they can send you mail.

3. Don't stick your head in the sand. No one in America agreed to be part of the credit system, but we all are, and resistance is futile. Non-interaction with the credit system is itself defined as a negative interaction. As things become more digitized, we should all fully expect that our credit histories will be used in ways we haven't yet imagined until our legal system catches up.

Do

1. Find out what's lurking in your credit history. You can do it for free once a year. For paid services, I recommend using myFICO.com as they offer your real FICO score. Believe it or not, most other sites offer fake scores, a.k.a. "FAKO," which are basically some proprietary formula that is not recognized. Regardless of the report's origin, at least you should know what debts are claimed in your past, as well as whom to contact about them.

2. Assume the debts in your credit history aren't real. Unless you have knowledge a debt is real, assume it is not. In fact, in most cases it's probably best to assume it is not real. It is completely possible a collection account is on your report from a debt you actually produced, but the CA doesn't have the legal ability to collect on it. This should hopefully affect how you approach the debt, as well as affect how you talk or write about it.

3. Send letters and contacts to CAs or OCs, not credit reporting bureaus (CRB). Unless otherwise noted, you don't want to get a debt validated by a CRB. Lots of times, this "validation" is done electronically. It's error-prone, and once you get something verified by a CRB, it's really hard to get it removed later. You can dispute with a CRB after all other methods are exhausted, or if you need to file a complaint against a CA.

There are lots more Golden Rules, but I am trying to hone in on a few of the most important ones. If you follow the six above, you're off to a much better start than I was, years ago!

Poll

Have you found inaccurate information in your credit history?

73%281 votes
11%43 votes
14%56 votes

| 382 votes | Vote | Results

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Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 10:34 AM PST

Mother to Son: Leave our House

by jamesia

I thought this might be an apt time to tell my personal story. There are very few people I've told this story to in "real" life, and I'm sure you'll understand why if you chose to read the rest of this article. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that this is another "gay story", and I'm aware more than one person out there might be rather tired of the subject.

Trust me, this is one subject which has truly exhausted me. Unfortunately, I don't have the option of clicking the "back" button on the browser window.

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Today was a day of nationwide protests in support of gay marriage. The demonstrations were organized by people across the country, using Join The Impact as a springboard. The event was co-ordinated very well, in my opinion, with MySpace, Facebook and text messaging used to spread information about the rallies.

I want to use this diary to provide a link to all diaries pertaining to today's rallies across the country. Leave a link in the comments, and I'll post a link within this diary! This diary can serve as an index for all other diaries. Show us all at DK pictures, commentary, stories and whatever else you want!

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Sat Feb 16, 2008 at 10:47 AM PST

McCain vs Obama & Public Financing

by jamesia

Today, I came across a story about McCain directly confronting Obama on the use of public financing during the general election. Evidently, early on in the race, Obama asked the FEC for guidance if it was allowable to use public financing for the general election, if he used private financing during the primaries. The goal was to use public financing if his Republican challenger would play by the same rules:

[Obama] has asked for guidance from the Federal Election Commission on whether he could reverse course if he wins the Democratic nomination and his Republican opponent accepts public money.

That plan was approved by the FEC:

Federal regulators ruled this morning that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will be permitted to collect money for a potential general election presidential campaign without foreclosing the possibility that he will still accept federal funds for that phase of the campaign.

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Fri Jan 18, 2008 at 12:46 PM PST

Reno Gazette-Journal endorses

by jamesia

I just wanted to put up quick a little diary about the Reno Gazette Journal endorsement of Barack Obama.

Photobucket

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Wed Jan 09, 2008 at 01:21 PM PST

Why I will not support John Edwards

by jamesia

Up until now, I vowed to post no 'bashing' diaries. For the sake of my own dignity, I don't even consider this to be a bashing diary. In fact, the only thing I'll post is exactly what I've read in several other articles. I am a scientist, I know how to gather information while not letting it effect my emotions, and that's what I aim to do when picking a candidate. Before I even begin, I apologize unreservedly if I offend anyone.

I want to outline why I think it's a bad idea to consider throwing support John Edwards' way. Primarily, it is well known that John Edwards spent the last 4 to 4.5 years campaigning in Iowa, yet he finished far behind Obama and just barely better than Hillary. I have tried pointing that out to Edwards supporters, and frankly, some of them even go as far as denying he even campaigned that long. Second, it is also well known that Edwards heavily invested in early states, hoping to rely on momentum from early wins to propel him into later states' primaries. Finally, while they differ in their styles and campaign promises, we all know a vote for Obama is similar to a vote for Edwards in that we're voting for change. They both differ in their approach, and one of the two approaches has proven more desirable. They both, however, offer change.

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Sat Dec 01, 2007 at 12:01 PM PST

Edwards Obama Hillary, oh my

by jamesia

At school between classes the other day, a buddy of mine asked if I'd watched the YouTube Republican debate last week. I had, so we talked about it. He asked me what I thought. I think Huckabee showed up the best, which is scary given that he has real populist ideals combined with conservative social values... a real Nazi in the making.

My buddy told me he tried to watch the last Democratic debate, but switched it off after 15 minutes because nearly all the candidates he heard speak were attacking Hillary. I'm a political junkie, so I know that at this point, they're all just trying to take Hillary down. My buddy isn't plugged in to every news source within reach, so all the arguing was too much.

Two things should be done in order for us to affect a real change in leadership.

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Tue Nov 27, 2007 at 03:56 PM PST

Here Come the Thought Police

by jamesia

This is just a forwarding of the latest bill restricting our rights to free speech and thought. The Patriot Act almost pales in comparison to HR 1955. The vote was cast on October 23rd this year, and passed overwhelmingly, 404-6.

H.R. 1955: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007

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Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 08:40 AM PST

Kucinich & Real Libertarianism

by jamesia

The more I read, the more I think Kucinich is the right person for libertarian socialists to support. Wait, libertarian socialist? Click the prior links, or if you're familiar with their writings... think Noam Chomsky or Bertrand Russell (my personal favorite) (he was brilliant!) (\end flattery.sh).

So, back to Kucinich. Like all libertarians, he believes people should make their own moral choices. Ron Paul, on the other hand, does not... here is one example, and there are others.

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