The following is a rundown of the day’s news drawn from other media sources with topics curated just for Money and Markets readers: Personal security and freedom, business and finance, and politics.
NSA Devises Radio Pathway to Pry Open Computers Not Connected to Internet
The technology relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target.
Law Enforcement Increasingly Using Surveillance Drones
Civil libertarians have argued that these aircraft could lead to persistent visual surveillance of Americans on private property. Government lawyers have argued, however, that there is no meaningful legal distinction between the use of unmanned and piloted aircraft for surveillance.
U.S. Drops Out of Top 10 Most Economically Free Countries
It’s not hard to see why the U.S. is losing ground. The Obama administration continues to shackle entire sectors of the economy with regulation, including health care, finance and energy. The intervention impedes both personal freedom and national prosperity.
Identity Thieves Gear Up to Steal Your Tax Refund
“It’s a lucrative crime and relatively easy to commit,” said Adam Levin, chairman and founder of Identity Theft 911. “All you need is a Social Security number and some counterfeit documents. It’s much easier than selling drugs or stealing cars and a lot less risky for the bad guys.”
Study: Religion Cuts Crime
Researchers believe this is because religion not only teaches people about ‘moral and behavioural norms,’ but also spending time with like-minded people makes it less likely they’ll get mixed up with the ‘wrong crowd.’
As Refinancing Wanes, Banks Remain Wary of New Loans
The decline reflected the waning of the refinancing boom prompted by record low interest rates. Without substantial income from refinancing, the banks’ mortgage businesses will now depend on making fresh loans to purchase houses, a business that, despite some revival, remains tepid.
Former Department of Transportation Secretary LaHood: ‘Let’s Raise the Gas Tax’
Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says unless Congress acts, the Highway Trust Fund will run out of money at the end of fiscal 2014 — “because people are driving less, driving more fuel-efficient cars, and the gas tax hasn’t been raised in many years.”
Atlantic City Casino Revenue Below $3 Billion, First Time in 22 Years
It marked the seventh straight year of plunging gambling revenue for Atlantic City, which won $5.2 billion in 2006. That was the year the first of what would become 12 Pennsylvania casinos opened, cutting deeply into a market the New Jersey resort town once called its own.
Tech Security Upstarts Enter Fray
“More so in security than in other areas, companies are willing to buy from smaller start-ups,” said Asheem Chandna, a venture capitalist at Greylock Partners who has invested in several security start-ups. “They want the new, shiny mousetraps.”
World Bank Sees Global Economy Picking Up
The report says that although risks to the global economy have subsided, they have not been eliminated and include fiscal uncertainty in the United States, protracted recovery in the euro zone and possible setbacks in China’s restructuring policies.
No Bluster as Christie Moves From Scandal to His Agenda
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, scrambling to regain his political footing, delivered a high-stakes State of the State address on Tuesday that mixed arms-length expressions of contrition, a defiant assertion that his troubles are no excuse for inaction and a jarringly timed demand for bipartisanship.
Dozens of Trade-Offs in $1.1 Trillion Budget Bill
A massive $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the government through October and finally put to rest the bitter budget battles of last year is getting generally positive reviews from House Republicans eager to avoid another shutdown crisis with elections looming in 10 months.
Vast Majority of Military Pension Cuts Remain in Omnibus Spending Bill
“The fact that we even have to take efforts to restore these retirement benefits in the first place is troubling,” he said. “This is a benefit these men and women were promised when they joined the services and earned by dedicating their lives to protect our national security.”
Israeli Defense Minister: Kerry Is ‘Obsessive,’ ‘Messianic’
The minister added: “In reality, there have been no negotiations between us and the Palestinians for all these months — but rather between us and the Americans. The only thing that can ‘save us’ is for John Kerry to win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace.”
Sen. Hagan to Skip Obama Event in North Carolina
Senator Kay Hagan won’t be in attendance when President Obama visits Raleigh, N.C., on Wednesday, potentially signaling that the red-state Democrat is trying to distance herself from the president as she faces a tough reelection bid last this year.
The Money and Markets Team