Occupy Movement Seeks Refuge in Court as Evictions Mount

Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, closed by the San Francisco Police Department during the eviction of Occupy SF this week.

The Occupy movement’s evictions and conflicts with police go on; Wednesday night, over 100 tents were removed from Occupy SF and 70 arrests made. On Thursday, 38 people laid down in the rain on K Street in Washington, D.C. — lobbyist avenue — to protest money in government.

But the main action right now has moved indoors, specifically to courtrooms, as Occupiers plead free-assembly cases in attempts to legally restrain police and cities from evicting their encampments.


The outcome could make noticeable difference in America’s landscape, both literally and figuratively.

On one end of the spectrum, defeats for Occupy could mean continual police crackdowns in every major city in America until protesters either give up in defeat or imprisonment — which could either end the movement or force it to become more creative in its tactics in its fight against a system that’s built to increasingly expand the gulf between the rich and poor.

On the other, victory could create constitutionally protected encampments dotting city parks on the national map for months — or even years — should occupying be held as a protected right under the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to assemble in protest.

Internally, the nascent movement have been debating the legal challenges, wondering if the movement should engage with a system they see as corrupt; the outcome of those discussions and the rulings from various courts will shape how willing this diverse and often rag-tag collective is to compromise and negotiate with the nation’s government agencies.

When the word came that police were evicting protestors from Zuccotti Park – home to the original Occupy Wall Street protest, legal friends of the Occupy movement went to courts in various cities to make sure a surprise eviction wouldn’t happen to other encampments. Most notably Occupy Boston got a restraining order that barred the city from moving in on them– until today, when Judge Frances McIntyre ruled against the Occupy’s request for an injunction, and vacated their protective restraining order.

Boston wasn’t alone today.

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Read the full post at darknet.org.uk

Hackers Skim Lucky Supermarket Customers’ Credit Cards via Self-Checkout

Criminals have tampered with the credit and debit card readers at self-checkout lanes in more than 20 supermarkets operated by a California chain, allowing them to steal money from shoppers who used the compromised machines. The chain, Lucky Supermarkets, which is owned by Save Mart, is now inspecting the rest of its 234 stores in northern California and northern Nevada and urging customers who used self-checkout lanes to close their bank and credit card accounts.


Lucky Supermarkets issued a consumer advisory Monday listing the stores confirmed to have been affected, while also saying, “There have been approximately 80 employee and customer reports of either compromised account data or attempts to access account data, with the majority coming over this past weekend.… We strongly recommend our customers who used a self check-out lane in the affected stores contact their financial institution to close existing accounts and seek further advice. We continue to work with local, state, and federal law enforcement to find those responsible.”

The Mercury News reported today that Lucky Supermarkets has received more than 1,000 calls from customers saying they’ve been victims of fraud. Lucky Supermarkets has been investigating the problem since Nov. 11, when an employee performing routine maintenance on a self-checkout machine “uncovered an extra computer board that had been placed inside the checkout machine, recording customers’ financial information,” the paper said. When the supermarket chain initially warned customers on Nov. 23, there were not yet reports of accounts being compromised, but now they are pouring in. One San Jose resident told the Mercury News that $300 had been withdrawn from her checking account.

Lucky Supermarkets has removed the tampered card readers, which were made by VeriFone, in the stores known to be affected and says it is enhancing security of every credit and debit card reader in all 234 of its stores. Joseph Steinberg, CEO of the security company Green Armor Solutions, released a statement saying “Everyone should always check any device in which they insert/swipe a credit/debit/ATM card, or to which they touch their card, to see if it looks like it may have been modified/covered.”

Expecting consumers to not only check themselves out of a store but also determine whether a credit card machine has been tampered with seems unrealistic, however. Unfortunately, credit card fraud and identity theft are becoming increasingly big problems. We recently noted that two employees of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission were arrested and charged with selling the identities of unsuspecting residents for as little as $200 per identity.

Photo: Roadsidepictures/Flickr

Report: About 60,000 E-Votes Uncounted in NY Election Last Year

The confusing screen that voters in New York were shown last year when optical scan machines determined they had cast too many votes in a race. Courtesy of Brennan Center for Justice

About 60,000 e-votes went uncounted in New York state elections last year and may be due to poor design of optical scan machines, according to a report released Tuesday.

The same flaw could lead to a loss of 100,000 votes in the presidential election next year, the group warns, if the problem isn’t fixed.

The report (.pdf), released by the Democracy Program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, says that instructions displayed on new optical scan machines confused voters who cast too many votes in the gubernatorial race, causing some 20,000 votes to be spoiled in that race. An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 votes were also lost in other races due to the same problem.

Overvotes were about .04 percent of the more than 2.4 million votes that were cast in the 34 counties that provided overvote data to the Center. Another 28 counties failed to provide data, but the Center, extrapolating numbers from the data that was provided, concluded that about 60,000 overvotes occurred in the state in total.

With voter turnout expected to double in the presidential elections next year, the report says the number of lost votes will likely double as well — which could sway an election.

New York recently switched to optical scan machines, after the state was ordered to replace its antiquated mechanical lever voting machines. With optical scan machines, voters select their candidates on a paper ballot, which is then fed into the optical scanner.

The problem occurred with voters who chose more than one candidate in a race, called “overvoting.”

Overvoting is generally unintentional on the part of a voter, caused when voters don’t read instructions carefully or change their mind and inadequately cross out or erase one selection to choose a different candidate. Poorly calibrated optical-scan readers can also be a problem if they read stray marks or smudges on a ballot as an actual vote.