Translate me 
Go To DuckDuckGo 
It is a search engine with better instant answers, less spam/clutter and real privacy, localized settings for Israel 
Be SAFE on the internet!!
DuckDuckGo is a search engine that protects privacy and has lots of features.

internet connection crazy

Read More... internet connection crazy

Israeli Torture Witness Jailed on Trumped-Up Charges

Israeli Torture Witness Jailed on Trumped-Up Charges

by I.P. Dailey, UnPromisedLand channel

STOUGHTON, WI – August 16, 2012. An Israeli magistrate court in Haifa extended the detention of Guy Shamir who has been held without bail since last Friday. The complaint against him alleges that he threatened the children of Esperanza Alon, a family court judge in Haifa. Each day this

week the police extended his detention for an additional 24 hours. Concurrently the state prosecutor’s office announced its intent to indict. Now the prosecution is asking to keep Shamir in jail without bail until the end of the trial.

According to the complaint, the incident arose during a telephone conversation between Alon’s secretary and Shamir on August 6th – four days before Shamir’s arrest. The indictment states that Alon’s secretary called Shamir directly instead of contacting his attorney to make sure that Shamir would clearly receive the judge's ruling against him on the custody of his
children. Shamir allegedly said in response, "I don’t care about the judge’s ruling. Tell her to mind her own children . . . ." At that point the secretary hung up the phone before Shamir could finish his response.

Attorney Raz Misgav, who was appointed yesterday to represent Shamir, points out that the complaint which the police filed against Shamir is only made by the judge’s secretary.
Alon herself did not make a complaint against him at all. Furthermore, the 4-day wait to arrest Shamir is not consistent with seriousness of the allegation - as if the charges were in fact trumped-up.

"I tell you, I saw a lot of wacky claims in my life,” said Misgav. “This claim is the most surreal thing that I have seen so far. He never threatened anyone. The call was cut short by the secretary. Moreover, I certainly will recommend my client
to submit a counterclaim against the police and state prosecutor with the Appellate Court. They arrested him, imprison him without bail and prosecute him over this? It is something completely unrealistic which I have never seen in my career.”

"It is important to note that my client signed affidavits as a witness for lawsuits pending in the United States. These lawsuits allege the Israeli judicial system hunts down divorced fathers exactly as they are doing to my client right now."

On July 12th police raided the home of David Weisskopf, a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits. They confiscated his documents related to his lawsuit against Israeli officials alleging he and other divorced fathers are torture victims. The police confiscated several documents including witness affidavits and reference to another lawsuit pending in New Jersey against the same Israeli officials. Since then, they have been using those confiscated documents to harass plaintiffs and witnesses in these lawsuits. According to an injunction requested today in the New Jersey lawsuit, the Israeli officials are even trying to bully a rabbi into allowing that plaintiff’s body to be desecrated “after his death”. Now Guy Shamir, a divorced father of two, is the latest victimized विटनेस.

“They are using our children as pawns to attack us,” says Weisskopf. “In Shamir’s case they are retaliating by trying to sever all contact between him and his children. I know Guy; he is one of the most loving & gentle fathers I have ever met. Their extreme tactics will only galvanize us in our fight for our children’s basic human rights.”

Social Justice activists have announced they will continue protesting against the arrest of Guy Shamir. They hope that by raising public awareness the government will take notice and clean up corruption that currently permeates the Israeli judicial and welfare systems.

משגב: "זו התביעה ההזויה ביותר שראיתי עד כה"

ע''י אליק מאור

גיא שמיר, פעיל מחאה, נעצר ומואשם על ידי פרקליטות חיפה כי איים על שופטת בית המשפט לענייני משפחה. השופטת לא התלוננה. מזכירתה כן. הבוקר יובא שמיר לדיון בדרישת הפרקליטות לעוצרו עד תום הליכים. פרקליטו ייעץ היום למרשו להגיש מייד בג"ץ נגד משטרת ישראל והפרקליטות על מעצר ותביעת שווא.

[מאמר שלם בעברית נמצא כאן:]

אספרנצה אלון
Read More... Israeli Torture Witness Jailed on Trumped-Up Charges

Donate help feed Mazanga & children:

Donate help feed Mazanga & children:

This 100% disabled veteran, me a divorced single father of 3 is now forced to beg people for help. My children and I are the ones in need, I am seriously ashamed that there is no other choice than to beg. My disability check has been my disability has been taken away and it impossible to pay rent and feed my children. I beg of all who reads this please donate!! i have no income any more and i am being evicted along with my 13 year old son. I am sure 99% of you would not have any trouble in donating the price of a cup of coffee or the price of a burger to some one in need

I entered the service during the 80's and have served 20+ years in various qualifications and skill levels in a special unit of the combat engineers. I was discharged because of injuries sustained in the field during mission, also discovered after many years of incompetent doctor visits, I suffer from a body full of Fibromyalgia. Among other severe pain inducing conditions caused and aggravated by 20 years military service above and beyond all possible call. Today my life and I, are nothing to compare with how we once were, my body and mind have often betrayed me. As with many others that I had learned to trust, value and rely upon, I have been cheated, lied to, abused and let down by them all.
Thank you,


P.S. I read all you people on veterans day and other holidays copy paste "support your vets". This divorced single father of 3 and 100% disabled veteran now needs all your support badly. No one responds to a honest and a real plea for help, its easy to copy n paste meaningless words and bullshit.... But when I call u on it (copy & paste) I get deleted from your friends list, I get cursed out n told that I did nothing and in short to go fuck myself. Now I truly see now how far you support disabled vets that served put their ass on the line and get nothing in return, this disabled vet has been fucked over by "the system" for too long and is now made to beg strangers for help. I am sure 99% of you would not have any trouble in donating the price of a cup of coffee or the price of a burger to some one in need....
As it happens my children and I are the ones in need now and I am seriously ashamed that I have no other choice than to beg. My disability check has been cut drastically and it is impossible to pay rent and feed my children. Again, I beg of all who care enough to read this, please donate !!!! But again its easier to cut paste n do nothing.......3000+ "friends" on facebook, close to the same om myspace, almost 500,000 hits on my blog. Long hours of posting to amuse and educate the masses but u all seem to be in a world of your own, this pains me to no end and makes me very sad.

I humbly thank who ever cares enough to read this and respond as one caring human to another, but sadly I doubt that any of you will.....

Read More... Donate help feed Mazanga & children:


PRIVACY NOTICE: Warning - any person and/or institution and/or Agent and/or Agency of any governmental structure including but not limited to the United States Federal Government also using or monitoring/using this website or any of its associated websites, you do NOT have my permission to utilize any of my profile information nor any of the content contained herein including, but not limited to my photos, and/or the comments made about my photos or any other "picture" art posted on my profile.
You are hereby notified that you are strictly prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing, disseminating, or taking any other action against me with regard to this profile and the contents herein. The foregoing prohibitions also apply to your employee , agent , student or any personnel under your direction or control.
The contents of this profile are private and legally privileged and confidential information, and the violation of my personal privacy is punishable by law. UCC 1-103 1-308 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED WITHOUT PREJUDICE
Read More... PRIVACY NOTICE: Warning

The Part You Throw Away

What did that old blonde Gal say?
I am the one ...You throw away
I have the beggars eyes, I want a winning horse
needed a tidy Mexican divorce
St. Mary's prayers, Houdini's Hands
And A Badman who always, Understands....
I can't help thinking, As I close the door
I have done all of this, Many times before.
You will forget the Tune that you play
For I am the one ...You throw away
I am the one You throw away

Read More... The Part You Throw Away

Microsoft: drive-by Trojan preying on out-of-date Java installations

Microsoft: drive-by Trojan preying on out-of-date Java installations

on August 20, 2010
A piece by Marian Radu on Microsoft’s Technet Blog is warning that users who have failed to update the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) on their machines are vulnerable to drive-by downloads by a Trojan called Unruy. That Trojan has been associated with rogue security products. Radu said the vulnerability (which was patched in March) is being actively exploited.
Browsers running JRE versions up to version 6 update 18 are vulnerable. The current JRE version today is version 6, update 21.

Microsoft Technet blog piece here: “Unruy downloader uses CVE-2010-0094 Java vulnerability”
 Users can easily check their version of Java and download necessary updates here:
Tom Kelchner

Microsoft: drive-by Trojan preying on out-of-date Java installations
Read More... Microsoft: drive-by Trojan preying on out-of-date Java installations

complaint against ?????.com UPDATE !

From: Mazanga
attachment: Screen shot !!!
Please read below
and i would seriously suggest to both of you report this virus maker quazi hacker to his/her ISP IMMEDIATELY!!!!!
You Are Searching For '???????com':
has an ip address of:
Address: 128.242.?????#53 Whois on 128.242.?????#53
network:IP-Network-Block:128.242.???? - 128.242.?????
network:Org-Name:Verio Web Hosting (SME)

From: Automatic E-mail Router for
To: Mazanga
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2012 3:27 AM
Subject: Verio Web Hosting COMPLAINT AGAINST ??????.com (Issue # IDS-14579295)

Greetings from the Verio Abuse Team,
This is an automated reply to inform you that we have received your e-mail
regarding an alleged violation of our Acceptable Use Policy by a customer
of Verio.
If your issue involves Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah.
Please be advised that Verio can onl Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah
We appreciate the time you have taken to report the alleged abuse, Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah .
If you have additional information Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah.

My Reply...

your costumer has had his account on another web host DELETED FOR ABUSE as i have sent you in the first email

Read More... complaint against ?????.com UPDATE !

complaint against ?????.com

they dont call me Mazanga Von Badman 4 nuin
!!!!!!!! ATTENTION !!!!!!!!!! READ THIS !!!!!!
CopyC PasteV ~!~ SHARE ~!~ tnx
05/12/2012 12:17 - Mazanga wrote:
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Mazanga To: ????? Corp
Sent: Saturday, May 12, 2012 6:04 PM
Subject: COMPLAINT AGAINST ?????.com
i have to seriously complain about the owner of ??????.com!!
?????.com is using rootkit virus to hijack and redirect browsers to his page and increase his traffic. it is against the law and seriously disgusting, i demand that you delete his url and peruse him to the full extent of the law!
attached is a screen shot of multiple windows along with the users relevant info. the rootkit virus opens on its own and probably does a few other things, i am having a very hard time finding and deleting the virus.
the Panamanian bastard should be held accountable and his url and any other urls the bastard owns or has registered deleted!
i await your reply

Sunday, May 13, 2012 2:11 PM
Dear Mazanga,
Thank you for your report. We have suspended the domain.
Best regards,
John ?????
?????bs Corp. - Support Team
?????? Registrar


Read More... complaint against ?????.com

Felix Baumgartner's Mission to the Edge of Space

This is what life is all about

Hey everybody check that out. This is so true and therefore I wanna share this with everybody.
You fall down and you get up - this is how we do it!!
Day by day !!!
way to go

Felix Baumgartner's Mission to the Edge of Space
Read More... Felix Baumgartner's Mission to the Edge of Space

$26 million suit against Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein International Fellowship Of Christians &; Jews.

$26 million suit against Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein International Fellowship Of Christians & Jews.
Published On Tuesday, March 27, 2012 12:46 PM By Eli Daniel

A federal court in New Jersey today has scheduled its first hearing for April 16th on a lawsuit against Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s International Fellowship of Christians & Jews, the New Israel Fund and several Israeli officials.

The lawsuit seeks over $26 million from each Defendant, “for gross violations of human rights and torture arising out of an institutionalized discriminatory policy of disengaging and separating fathers from their minor children”. The three Israeli fathers who filed the lawsuit say Eckstein deceives Evangelical Christians by using their donations to support radical feminists in their anti-father crusade to break up the Israeli family.

“These are well-meaning Christians,” says Guy Shamir, spokesman for the Coalition for the Children

& the Family in Israel (CCFI). “They support family values and would be horrified at how Eckstein misuses their donations.” Shamir estimates 9,000 fathers every year get trapped into sub-human conditions in the Israeli judicial system. Last year the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights called on Israel to amend its laws to ease the burden on fathers seeking custody or visitation rights with their children. “It amazes me that Eckstein continues to sponsor the anti-father crusade even after all this came to light,” states Shamir.

The lead Plaintiff against Eckstein, Sharon Ben-Haim, claims his ex-wife kidnapped his two year-old daughter from the USA to Israel. When he tried to exercise his parental rights under the Hague Convention on international child abduction; he hit a brick wall in the Israeli legal system. “Words cannot express how much I miss my daughter,” says Ben-Haim, “My hea rt is broken.”

The Ben-Haim custody battle was heard in a New Jersey Superior Court. Bonnie J. Mizdol, the presiding judge in that case, ruled that Ben-Haim’s daughter was being illegally held in Israel and ordered her immediate return to the USA. In her August 25, 2011 ruling Mizdol noted, “This Court finds that the entire situation was laden with duress,” concerning the father’s experience in the Israeli judiciary.

Israeli authorities refuse to honor the court’s order, which Shamir attributes to a massive campaign by feminists to destroy father-child relationships. “Radical feminist groups have deep pockets to threaten Israeli authorities. A substantial portion of those deep pockets are Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s American Evangelical donors,” says Shamir.

An Israeli Evangelical father, who does not want to be identified, states his children are being forcibly converted to Orthodox Judaism in the sa me Israeli family courts. “It fundamentally violates the Human Rights Treaty which Israel signed,” he says. “What is worse is American Evangelicals have no idea they actually cause great harm to the Body in Israel by donating to Eckstein.”

Another Plaintiff in this lawsuit, ,
Sol Havivi, is a disabled veteran and single father. He recounts horrible physical and verbal abuse he has suffered while pleading for help. Havivi says he has recordings of an official admitting they distorted their reports to deny him equal access to assistance that they provide to disabled single mothers in similar situations. “Eckstein uses your donated money to perpetuate a fraud against men and has a warped idea of the ‘poor woman’ syndrome,” states Havivi. “Nothing could be farther from the truth.”

The International Fellowship of Christians & Jews (IFCJ) quotes Genesis 12:3, which calls on Gentiles to bless Jews, as their justification for collecting donations from Evangelical Christians. The lawsuit states, “While the donors believe in the strength of the families, IFCJ sends money to organizations
such as Na’Amat in Israel, which are devoted to the break-up of Jewish families, annihilation of men in divorce, and disengagement of fathers from children.”
The IFCJ has already had difficulty securing legal representation in this case. According to the court file, their current attorney is the third after the first two were terminated soon after filing each of their appearances. The IFCJ headquarters in Chicago was not available for comment and their office in Israel was not aware of the lawsuit at the time of this writing.Reference: Sharon Ben Ham, et al vs. Neeman, et al (#2:12-cv-00351-JLL-MAH)

Read More... $26 million suit against Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein International Fellowship Of Christians &; Jews.

New speech-jamming gun hints at dystopian Big Brother future

New speech-jamming gun hints at dystopian Big Brother future

By on March 1, 2012 at 6:37 am

Speec-jamming Delayed Auditory Feedback gun
Japanese researchers have created a hand-held gun (pictured above) that can jam the words of speakers who are more than 30 meters (100ft) away. The gun has two purposes, according to the researchers: At its most basic, this gun could be used in libraries and other quiet spaces to stop people from speaking — but its second application is a lot more chilling.
The researchers were looking for a way to stop “louder, stronger” voices from saying more than their fair share in conversation. The paper reads: “We have to establish and obey rules for proper turn-taking when speaking. However, some people tend to lengthen their turns or deliberately interrupt other people when it is their turn in order to establish their presence rather than achieve more fruitful discussions. Furthermore, some people tend to jeer at speakers to invalidate their speech.” In other words, this speech-jamming gun was built to enforce “proper” conversations.
The gun works by listening in with a directional microphone, and then, after a short delay of around 0.2 seconds, playing it back with a directional speaker. This triggers an effect that psychologists call Delayed Auditory Feedback (DAF), which has long been known to interrupt your speech (you might’ve experienced the same effect if you’ve ever heard your own voice echoing through Skype or another voice comms program). According to the researchers, DAF doesn’t cause physical discomfort, but the fact that you’re unable to talk is obviously quite stressful.
Speech jammer, in a librarySuffice it to say, if you’re a firm believer in free speech, you should now be experiencing a deafening cacophony of alarm bells. Let me illustrate a few examples of how this speech-jamming gun could be used.
At a political rally, an audience member could completely lock down Santorum, Romney, Paul, or Obama from speaking. On the flip side, a totalitarian state could point the speech jammers at the audience to shut them up. Likewise, when a celebrity or public figure appears on a live TV show, his contract could read “the audience must be silenced with speech jammers.”
Then there’s Harrison Bergeron, one of my favorite short stories by Kurt Vonnegut. In the story’s dystopian universe, everyone wears “handicaps” to ensure perfect social equality. Strong people must lug around heavy weights, beautiful people must wear masks, and intelligent people must wear headphones that play a huge blast of sound every few seconds, interrupting your thoughts. The more intelligent you are, the more regular the blasts.
Back here in our universe, it’s not hard to imagine a future where we are outfitted with a variety of implanted electronics or full-blown bionic organs. Just last week we wrote about Google’s upcoming augmented-reality glasses, which will obviously have built-in earbuds. Late last year we covered bionic eyes that can communicate directly with the brain, and bionic ears and noses can’t be far off.
In short, imagine if a runaway mega-corporation or government gains control of these earbuds. Not only could the intelligence-destroying blasts from Harrison Bergeron come to pass, but with Delayed Auditory Feedback it would be possible to render the entire population mute. Well, actually, that’s a lie: Apparently DAF doesn’t work with utterances like “ahhh!” or “boooo!” or other non-wordy constructs. So, basically, we’d all be reduced to communicating with grunts and gestures.
Read More... New speech-jamming gun hints at dystopian Big Brother future

How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy

How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy

Jaroslav Flegr is no kook. And yet, for years, he suspected his mind had been taken over by parasites that had invaded his brain. So the prolific biologist took his science-fiction hunch into the lab. What he’s now discovering will startle you. Could tiny organisms carried by house cats be creeping into our brains, causing everything from car wrecks to schizophrenia? A biologist’s science- fiction hunch is gaining credence and shaping the emerging science of mind- controlling parasites.
By Kathleen McAuliffe
Michal Novotný

No one would accuse Jaroslav Flegr of being a conformist. A self-described “sloppy dresser,” the 63-year-old Czech scientist has the contemplative air of someone habitually lost in thought, and his still-youthful, square-jawed face is framed by frizzy red hair that encircles his head like a ring of fire.
Certainly Flegr’s thinking is jarringly unconventional. Starting in the early 1990s, he began to suspect that a single-celled parasite in the protozoan family was subtly manipulating his personality, causing him to behave in strange, often self-destructive ways. And if it was messing with his mind, he reasoned, it was probably doing the same to others.
The parasite, which is excreted by cats in their feces, is called Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii or Toxo for short) and is the microbe that causes toxoplasmosis—the reason pregnant women are told to avoid cats’ litter boxes. Since the 1920s, doctors have recognized that a woman who becomes infected during pregnancy can transmit the disease to the fetus, in some cases resulting in severe brain damage or death. T. gondii is also a major threat to people with weakened immunity: in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, before good antiretroviral drugs were developed, it was to blame for the dementia that afflicted many patients at the disease’s end stage. Healthy children and adults, however, usually experience nothing worse than brief flu-like symptoms before quickly fighting off the protozoan, which thereafter lies dormant inside brain cells—or at least that’s the standard medical wisdom.
But if Flegr is right, the “latent” parasite may be quietly tweaking the connections between our neurons, changing our response to frightening situations, our trust in others, how outgoing we are, and even our preference for certain scents. And that’s not all. He also believes that the organism contributes to car crashes, suicides, and mental disorders such as schizophrenia. When you add up all the different ways it can harm us, says Flegr, “Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year.”
An evolutionary biologist at Charles University in Prague, Flegr has pursued this theory for decades in relative obscurity. Because he struggles with English and is not much of a conversationalist even in his native tongue, he rarely travels to scientific conferences. That “may be one of the reasons my theory is not better known,” he says. And, he believes, his views may invite deep-seated opposition. “There is strong psychological resistance to the possibility that human behavior can be influenced by some stupid parasite,” he says. “Nobody likes to feel like a puppet. Reviewers [of my scientific papers] may have been offended.” Another more obvious reason for resistance, of course, is that Flegr’s notions sound an awful lot like fringe science, right up there with UFO sightings and claims of dolphins telepathically communicating with humans.
But after years of being ignored or discounted, Flegr is starting to gain respectability. Psychedelic as his claims may sound, many researchers, including such big names in neuroscience as Stanford’s Robert Sapolsky, think he could well be onto something. Flegr’s “studies are well conducted, and I can see no reason to doubt them,” Sapolsky tells me. Indeed, recent findings from Sapolsky’s lab and British groups suggest that the parasite is capable of extraordinary shenanigans. T. gondii, reports Sapolsky, can turn a rat’s strong innate aversion to cats into an attraction, luring it into the jaws of its No. 1 predator. Even more amazing is how it does this: the organism rewires circuits in parts of the brain that deal with such primal emotions as fear, anxiety, and sexual arousal. “Overall,” says Sapolsky, “this is wild, bizarre neurobiology.” Another academic heavyweight who takes Flegr seriously is the schizophrenia expert E. Fuller Torrey, director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute, in Maryland. “I admire Jaroslav for doing [this research],” he says. “It’s obviously not politically correct, in the sense that not many labs are doing it. He’s done it mostly on his own, with very little support. I think it bears looking at. I find it completely credible.”
What’s more, many experts think T. gondii may be far from the only microscopic puppeteer capable of pulling our strings. “My guess is that there are scads more examples of this going on in mammals, with parasites we’ve never even heard of,” says Sapolsky.
Familiar to most of us, of course, is the rabies virus. On the verge of killing a dog, bat, or other warm-blooded host, it stirs the animal into a rage while simultaneously migrating from the nervous system to the creature’s saliva, ensuring that when the host bites, the virus will live on in a new carrier. But aside from rabies, stories of parasites commandeering the behavior of large-brained mammals are rare. The far more common victims of parasitic mind control—at least the ones we know about—are fish, crustaceans, and legions of insects, according to Janice Moore, a behavioral biologist at Colorado State University. “Flies, ants, caterpillars, wasps, you name it—there are truckloads of them behaving weirdly as a result of parasites,” she says.
Consider Polysphincta gutfreundi, a parasitic wasp that grabs hold of an orb spider and attaches a tiny egg to its belly. A wormlike larva emerges from the egg, and then releases chemicals that prompt the spider to abandon weaving its familiar spiral web and instead spin its silk thread into a special pattern that will hold the cocoon in which the larva matures. The “possessed” spider even crochets a specific geometric design in the net, camouflaging the cocoon from the wasp’s predators.
Flegr himself traces his life’s work to another master of mind control. Almost 30 years ago, as he was reading a book by the British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, Flegr was captivated by a passage describing how a flatworm turns an ant into its slave by invading the ant’s nervous system. A drop in temperature normally causes ants to head underground, but the infected insect instead climbs to the top of a blade of grass and clamps down on it, becoming easy prey for a grazing sheep. “Its mandibles actually become locked in that position, so there’s nothing the ant can do except hang there in the air,” says Flegr. The sheep grazes on the grass and eats the ant; the worm gains entrance into the ungulate’s gut, which is exactly where it needs to be in order to complete—as the Lion King song goes—the circle of life. “It was the first I learned about this kind of manipulation, so it made a big impression on me,” Flegr says.
After he read the book, Flegr began to make a connection that, he readily admits, others might find crazy: his behavior, he noticed, shared similarities with that of the reckless ant. For example, he says, he thought nothing of crossing the street in the middle of dense traffic, “and if cars honked at me, I didn’t jump out of the way.” He also made no effort to hide his scorn for the Communists who ruled Czechoslovakia for most of his early adulthood. “It was very risky to openly speak your mind at that time,” he says. “I was lucky I wasn’t imprisoned.” And during a research stint in eastern Turkey, when the strife-torn region frequently erupted in gunfire, he recalls being “very calm.” In contrast, he says, “my colleagues were terrified. I wondered what was wrong with myself.”
His bewilderment continued until 1990, when he joined the biology faculty of Charles University. As it happened, the 650-year-old institution had long been a world leader in documenting the health effects of T. gondii, as well as developing methods for detecting the parasite. In fact, just as Flegr was arriving, his colleagues were searching for infected individuals on whom to test their improved diagnostic kits, which is how he came to be asked one day to roll up his sleeve and donate blood. He discovered that he had the parasite—and just possibly, he thought, the key to his baffling self-destructive streak.
He delved into T. gondii’s life cycle. After an infected cat defecates, Flegr learned, the parasite is typically picked up from the soil by scavenging or grazing animals—notably rodents, pigs, and cattle—all of which then harbor it in their brain and other body tissues. Humans, on the other hand, are exposed not only by coming into contact with litter boxes, but also, he found, by drinking water contaminated with cat feces, eating unwashed vegetables, or, especially in Europe, by consuming raw or undercooked meat. Hence the French, according to Flegr, with their love of steak prepared saignant—literally, “bleeding”—can have infection rates as high as 55 percent. (Americans will be happy to hear that the parasite resides in far fewer of them, though a still substantial portion: 10 to 20 percent.) Once inside an animal or human host, the parasite then needs to get back into the cat, the only place where it can sexually reproduce—and this is when, Flegr believed, behavioral manipulation might come into play.
The parasite T. gondii, seen here, may be changing connections between our neurones, altering how we act and feel. (Dennis Kunkel Microscropy, Inc./Visuals Unlimited/Corbis Images)
Researchers had already observed a few peculiarities about rodents with T. gondii that bolstered Flegr’s theory. The infected rodents were much more active in running wheels than uninfected rodents were, suggesting that they would be more-attractive targets for cats, which are drawn to fast-moving objects. They also were less wary of predators in exposed spaces. Little, however, was known about how the latent infection might influence humans, because we and other large mammals were widely presumed to be accidental hosts, or, as scientists are fond of putting it, a “dead end” for the parasite. But even if we were never part of the parasite’s life cycle, Flegr reasoned, mammals from mouse to man share the vast majority of their genes, so we might, in a case of mistaken identity, still be vulnerable to manipulations by the parasite.
In the Soviet-stunted economy, animal studies were way beyond Flegr’s research budget. But fortunately for him, 30 to 40 percent of Czechs had the latent form of the disease, so plenty of students were available “to serve as very cheap experimental animals.” He began by giving them and their parasite-free peers standardized personality tests—an inexpensive, if somewhat crude, method of measuring differences between the groups. In addition, he used a computer-based test to assess the reaction times of participants, who were instructed to press a button as soon as a white square popped up anywhere against the dark background of the monitor.
The subjects who tested positive for the parasite had significantly delayed reaction times. Flegr was especially surprised to learn, though, that the protozoan appeared to cause many sex-specific changes in personality. Compared with uninfected men, males who had the parasite were more introverted, suspicious, oblivious to other people’s opinions of them, and inclined to disregard rules. Infected women, on the other hand, presented in exactly the opposite way: they were more outgoing, trusting, image-conscious, and rule-abiding than uninfected women.
The findings were so bizarre that Flegr initially assumed his data must be flawed. So he tested other groups—civilian and military populations. Again, the same results. Then, in search of more corroborating evidence, he brought subjects in for further observation and a battery of tests, in which they were rated by someone ignorant of their infection status. To assess whether participants valued the opinions of others, the rater judged how well dressed they appeared to be. As a measure of gregariousness, participants were asked about the number of friends they’d interacted with over the past two weeks. To test whether they were prone to being suspicious, they were asked, among other things, to drink an unidentified liquid.
The results meshed well with the questionnaire findings. Compared with uninfected people of the same sex, infected men were more likely to wear rumpled old clothes; infected women tended to be more meticulously attired, many showing up for the study in expensive, designer-brand clothing. Infected men tended to have fewer friends, while infected women tended to have more. And when it came to downing the mystery fluid, reports Flegr, “the infected males were much more hesitant than uninfected men. They wanted to know why they had to do it. Would it harm them?” In contrast, the infected women were the most trusting of all subjects. “They just did what they were told,” he says.
Why men and women reacted so differently to the parasite still mystified him. After consulting the psychological literature, he started to suspect that heightened anxiety might be the common denominator underlying their responses. When under emotional strain, he read, women seek solace through social bonding and nurturing. In the lingo of psychologists, they’re inclined to “tend and befriend.” Anxious men, on the other hand, typically respond by withdrawing and becoming hostile or antisocial. Perhaps he was looking at flip sides of the same coin.
Closer inspection of Flegr’s reaction-time results revealed that infected subjects became less attentive and slowed down a minute or so into the test. This suggested to him that Toxoplasma might have an adverse impact on driving, where constant vigilance and fast reflexes are critical. He launched two major epidemiological studies in the Czech Republic, one of men and women in the general population and another of mostly male drivers in the military. Those who tested positive for the parasite, both studies showed, were about two and a half times as likely to be in a traffic accident as their uninfected peers.
When I met Flegr for the first time, last September, at his office on the third floor of Charles University’s Biological Sciences building, I was expecting something of a wild man. But once you get past the riotous red hair, his style is understated. Thin and slight of build, he’s soft-spoken, precise with his facts, and—true to his Toxo status—clad in old sneakers, faded bell-bottom jeans, and a loose-fitting button-up shirt. As our conversation proceeds, I discover that his latest findings have become—to quote Alice in Wonderland—“curiouser and curiouser,” which may explain why his forehead has the deep ruts of a chronic worrier, or someone perpetually perplexed.
He’s published some data, he tells me, that suggest infected males might have elevated testosterone levels. Possibly for that reason, women shown photos of these men rate them as more masculine than pictures of uninfected men. “I want to investigate this more closely to see if it’s true,” he says. “Also, it could be women find infected men more attractive. That’s something else we hope to test.”
Meanwhile, two Turkish studies have replicated his studies linking Toxoplasma to traffic accidents. With up to one-third of the world infected with the parasite, Flegr now calculates that T. gondii is a likely factor in several hundred thousand road deaths each year. In addition, reanalysis of his personality-questionnaire data revealed that, just like him, many other people who have the latent infection feel intrepid in dangerous situations. “Maybe,” he says, “that’s another reason they get into traffic accidents. They don’t have a normal fear response.”
It’s almost impossible to hear about Flegr’s research without wondering whether you’re infected—especially if, like me, you’re a cat owner, favor very rare meat, and identify even a little bit with your Toxo sex stereotype. So before coming to Prague, I’d gotten tested for the parasite, but I didn’t yet know the results. It seemed a good time to see what his intuition would tell me. “Can you guess from observing someone whether they have the parasite—myself, for example?,” I ask.
“No,” he says, “the parasite’s effects on personality are very subtle.” If, as a woman, you were introverted before being infected, he says, the parasite won’t turn you into a raving extrovert. It might just make you a little less introverted. “I’m very typical of Toxoplasma males,” he continues. “But I don’t know whether my personality traits have anything to do with the infection. It’s impossible to say for any one individual. You usually need about 50 people who are infected and 50 who are not, in order to see a statistically significant difference. The vast majority of people will have no idea they’re infected.”
Still, he concedes, the parasite could be very bad news for a small percentage of people—and not just those who might be at greater risk for car accidents. Many schizophrenia patients show shrinkage in parts of their cerebral cortex, and Flegr thinks the protozoan may be to blame for that. He hands me a recently published paper on the topic that he co-authored with colleagues at Charles University, including a psychiatrist named Jiri Horacek. Twelve of 44 schizophrenia patients who underwent MRI scans, the team found, had reduced gray matter in the brain—and the decrease occurred almost exclusively in those who tested positive for T. gondii. After reading the abstract, I must look stunned, because Flegr smiles and says, “Jiri had the same response. I don’t think he believed it could be true.” When I later speak with Horacek, he admits to having been skeptical about Flegr’s theory at the outset. When they merged the MRI results with the infection data, however, he went from being a doubter to being a believer. “I was amazed at how pronounced the effect was,” he says. “To me that suggests the parasite may trigger schizophrenia in genetically susceptible people.”
One might be tempted to dismiss the bulk of Flegr’s work as hokum—the fanciful imaginings of a lone, eccentric scholar—were it not for the pioneering research of Joanne Webster, a parasitologist at Imperial College London. Just as Flegr was embarking on his human trials, Webster, then a freshly minted Ph.D., was launching studies of Toxo-infected rodents, reasoning, just as Flegr did, that as hosts of the parasite, they would be likely targets for behavioral manipulation.
She quickly confirmed, as previous researchers had shown, that infected rats were more active and less cautious in areas where predators lurk. But then, in a simple, elegant experiment, she and her colleagues demonstrated that the parasite did something much more remarkable. They treated one corner of each rat’s enclosure with the animal’s own odor, a second with water, a third with cat urine, and the last corner with the urine of a rabbit, a creature that does not prey on rodents. “We thought the parasite might reduce the rats’ aversion to cat odor,” she told me. “Not only did it do that, but it actually increased their attraction. They spent more time in the cat-treated areas.” She and other scientists repeated the experiment with the urine of dogs and minks, which also prey on rodents. The effect was so specific to cat urine, she says, that “we call it ‘fatal feline attraction.’”
She began tagging the parasite with fluorescent markers and tracking its progress in the rats’ bodies. Given the surgically precise way the microbe alters behavior, Webster anticipated that it would end up in localized regions of the brain. But the results defied expectations. “We were quite surprised to find the cysts—the parasite’s dormant form—all over the brain in what otherwise appeared to be a happy, healthy rat,” she says. Nonetheless, the cysts were most abundant in a part of the brain that deals with pleasure (in human terms, we’re talking sex, drugs, and rock and roll) and in another area that’s involved in fear and anxiety (post-traumatic stress disorder affects this region of the brain). Perhaps, she thought, T. gondii uses a scattershot approach, disseminating cysts far and wide, enabling a few of them to zero in on the right targets.
To gain more clarity on the matter, she sought the aid of the parasitologist Glenn McConkey, whose team at the University of Leeds was probing the protozoan’s genome for signs of what it might be doing. The approach brought to light a striking talent of the parasite: it has two genes that allow it to crank up production of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the host brain. “We never cease to be amazed by the sophistication of these parasites,” Webster says.
Their findings, reported last summer, created immediate buzz. Dopamine is a critical signaling molecule involved in fear, pleasure, and attention. Furthermore, the neurotransmitter is known to be jacked up in people with schizophrenia—another one of those strange observations about the disease, like its tendency to erode gray matter, that have long puzzled medical researchers. Antipsychotic medicine designed to quell schizophrenic delusions apparently blocks the action of dopamine, which had suggested to Webster that what it might really be doing is thwarting the parasite. Scientists had already shown that adding the medicine to a petri dish where T. gondii is happily dividing will stunt the organism’s growth. So Webster decided to feed the antipsychotic drug to newly infected rats to see how they reacted. Lo and behold, they didn’t develop fatal feline attraction. Suddenly, attributing behavioral changes to the microbe seemed much more plausible.
As the scientific community digested the British team’s dopamine discoveries, Robert Sapolsky’s lab at Stanford announced still more attention-grabbing news. The neuroscientist and his colleagues found that T. gondii disconnects fear circuits in the brain, which might help to explain why infected rats lose their aversion to cat odor. Just as startling, reports Sapolsky, the parasite simultaneously is “able to hijack some of the circuitry related to sexual arousal” in the male rat—probably, he theorizes, by boosting dopamine levels in the reward-processing part of the brain. So when the animal catches a whiff of cat scent, the fear center fails to fully light up, as it would in a normal rat, and instead the area governing sexual pleasure begins to glow. “In other words,” he says, “Toxo makes cat odor smell sexy to male rats.”
The neurobiologist Ajai Vyas, after working with Sapolsky on this study as a postdoctoral student, decided to inspect infected rats’ testicles for signs of cysts. Sure enough, he found them there—as well as in the animals’ semen. And when the rat copulates, Vyas discovered, the protozoan moves into the female’s womb, typically infecting 60 percent of her pups, before traveling on up to her own brain—creating still more vehicles for ferrying the parasite back into the belly of a cat.
Could T. gondii be a sexually transmitted disease in humans too? “That’s what we hope to find out,” says Vyas, who now works at Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore. The researchers also discovered that infected male rats suddenly become much more attractive to females. “It’s a very strong effect,” says Vyas. “Seventy-five percent of the females would rather spend time with the infected male.”
After I return from Prague, Flegr informs me that he’s just had a paper accepted for publication that, he claims, “proves fatal feline attraction in humans.” By that he means that infected men like the smell of cat pee—or at least they rank its scent much more favorably than uninfected men do. Displaying the characteristic sex differences that define many Toxo traits, infected women have the reverse response, ranking the scent even more offensive than do women free of the parasite. The sniff test was done blind and also included urine collected from a dog, horse, hyena, and tiger. Infection did not affect how subjects rated these other samples.
“Is it possible cat urine may be an aphrodisiac for infected men?,” I ask. “Yes. It’s possible. Why not?” says Flegr. I think he’s smiling at the other end of the phone line, but I’m not sure, which leaves me wondering whether I’ve stumbled onto a topic ripe for a Saturday Night Live skit, or a matter worthy of medical concern. When I ask Sapolsky about Flegr’s most recent research, he says the effects Flegr is reporting “are incredibly cool. However, I’m not too worried, in that the effects on humans are not gigantic. If you want to reduce serious car accidents, and you had to choose between curing people of Toxo infections versus getting people not to drive drunk or while texting, go for the latter in terms of impact.”
In fact, Sapolsky thinks that Toxo’s inventiveness might even offer us some benefits. If we can figure out how the parasite makes animals less fearful, he says, it might give us insights into how to devise treatments for people plagued by social-anxiety disorder, phobias, PTSD, and the like. “But frankly,” he adds, “this mostly falls into the ‘Get a load of this, can you believe what nature has come up with?’ category.”
Webster is more circumspect, if not downright troubled. “I don’t want to cause any panic,” she tells me. “In the vast majority of people, there will be no ill effects, and those who are affected will mostly demonstrate subtle shifts of behavior. But in a small number of cases, [Toxo infection] may be linked to schizophrenia and other disturbances associated with altered dopamine levels—for example, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and mood disorders. The rat may live two or three years, while humans can be infected for many decades, which is why we may be seeing these severe side effects in people. We should be cautious of dismissing such a prevalent parasite.”
The psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey agrees—though he came to this viewpoint from a completely different angle than either Webster or Flegr. His opinion stems from decades of research into the root causes of schizophrenia. “Textbooks today still make silly statements that schizophrenia has always been around, it’s about the same incidence all over the world, and it’s existed since time immemorial,” he says. “The epidemiology literature contradicts that completely.” In fact, he says, schizophrenia did not rise in prevalence until the latter half of the 18th century, when for the first time people in Paris and London started keeping cats as pets. The so-called cat craze began among “poets and left-wing avant-garde Greenwich Village types,” says Torrey, but the trend spread rapidly—and coinciding with that development, the incidence of schizophrenia soared.
Since the 1950s, he notes, about 70 epidemiology studies have explored a link between schizophrenia and T. gondii. When he and his colleague Robert Yolken, a neurovirologist at Johns Hopkins University, surveyed a subset of these papers that met rigorous scientific standards, their conclusion complemented the Prague group’s discovery that schizophrenic patients with Toxo are missing gray matter in their brains. Torrey and Yolken found that the mental illness is two to three times as common in people who have the parasite as in controls from the same region.
Human-genome studies, both scientists believe, are also in keeping with that finding—and might explain why schizophrenia runs in families. The most replicated result from that line of investigation, they say, suggests that the genes most commonly associated with schizophrenia relate to the immune system and how it reacts to infectious agents. So in many cases where the disease appears to be hereditary, they theorize, what may in fact be passed down is an aberrant or deficient immune response to invaders like T. gondii.
Epstein-Barr virus, mumps, rubella, and other infectious agents, they point out, have also been linked to schizophrenia—and there are probably more as yet unidentified triggers, including many that have nothing to do with pathogens. But for now, they say, Toxo remains the strongest environmental factor implicated in the disorder. “If I had to guess,” says Torrey, “I’d say 75 percent of cases of schizophrenia are associated with infectious agents, and Toxo would be involved in a significant subset of those.”
Just as worrisome, says Torrey, the parasite may also increase the risk of suicide. In a 2011 study of 20 European countries, the national suicide rate among women increased in direct proportion to the prevalence of the latent Toxo infection in each nation’s female population. According to Teodor Postolache, a psychiatrist and the director of the Mood and Anxiety Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, a flurry of other studies, several conducted by his own team, offers further support of T. gondii’s link to higher rates of suicidal behavior. These include investigations of general populations as well as groups made up of patients with bipolar disorder, severe depression, and schizophrenia, and in places as diverse as Turkey, Germany, and the Baltimore/Washington area. Exactly how the parasite may push vulnerable people over the edge is yet to be determined. Postolache theorizes that what disrupts mood and the ability to control violent impulses may not be the organism per se, but rather neurochemical changes associated with the body’s immune response to it. “As far-fetched as these ideas may sound,” says Postolache, “the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention was willing to put money behind this research.”
Given all the nasty science swirling around this parasite, is it time for cat lovers to switch their allegiance to other animals?
Even Flegr would advise against that. Indoor cats pose no threat, he says, because they don’t carry the parasite. As for outdoor cats, they shed the parasite for only three weeks of their life, typically when they’re young and have just begun hunting. During that brief period, Flegr simply recommends taking care to keep kitchen counters and tables wiped clean. (He practices what he preaches: he and his wife have two school-age children, and two outdoor cats that have free roam of their home.) Much more important for preventing exposure, he says, is to scrub vegetables thoroughly and avoid drinking water that has not been properly purified, especially in the developing world, where infection rates can reach 95 percent in some places. Also, he advises eating meat on the well-done side—or, if that’s not to your taste, freezing it before cooking, to kill the cysts.
As concerns about the latent infection mount, however, experts have begun thinking about more-aggressive steps to counter the parasite’s spread. Inoculating cats or livestock against T. gondii might be one way to interrupt its life cycle, offers Johns Hopkins’ Robert Yolken. Moving beyond prevention to treatment is a taller order. Once the parasite becomes deeply ensconced in brain cells, routing it out of the body is virtually impossible: the thick-walled cysts are impregnable to antibiotics. Because T. gondii and the malaria protozoan are related, however, Yolken and other researchers are looking among antimalarial agents for more-effective drugs to attack the cysts. But for now, medicine has no therapy to offer people who want to rid themselves of the latent infection; and until solid proof exists that Toxo is as dangerous as some scientists now fear, pharmaceutical companies don’t have much incentive to develop anti-Toxo drugs.
Yolken hopes that will change. “To explain where we are in Toxo research today,” he says, “the analogy I always give is the ulcer bacteria. We first needed to find ways of treating the organism and showing that the disease went away when you did that. We will have to show that when we very effectively treat Toxoplasma, some portion of psychiatric illness goes away.”
But T. gondii is just one of an untold number of infectious agents that prey on us. And if the rest of the animal kingdom is anything to go by, says Colorado State University’s Janice Moore, plenty of them may be capable of tinkering with our minds. For example, she and Chris Reiber, a biomedical anthropologist at Binghamton University, in New York, strongly suspected that the flu virus might boost our desire to socialize. Why? Because it spreads through close physical contact, often before symptoms emerge—meaning that it must find a new host quickly. To explore this hunch, Moore and Reiber tracked 36 subjects who received a flu vaccine, reasoning that it contains many of the same chemical components as the live virus and would thus cause the subjects’ immune systems to react as if they’d encountered the real pathogen.
The difference in the subjects’ behavior before and after vaccination was pronounced: the flu shot had the effect of nearly doubling the number of people with whom the participants came in close contact during the brief window when the live virus was maximally contagious. “People who had very limited or simple social lives were suddenly deciding that they needed to go out to bars or parties, or invite a bunch of people over,” says Reiber. “This happened with lots of our subjects. It wasn’t just one or two outliers.”
Reiber has her eye trained on other human pathogens that she thinks may well be playing similar games, if only science could prove it. For example, she says, many people at the end stages of AIDS and syphilis express an intense craving for sex. So, too, do individuals at the beginning of a herpes outbreak. These may just be anecdotal accounts, she concedes, but based on her own findings, she wouldn’t be surprised if these urges come from the pathogen making known its will to survive.
“We’ve found all kinds of excuses for why we do the things we do,” observes Moore. “‘My genes made me do it.’ ‘My parents are to blame.’ I’m afraid we may have reached the point where parasites may have to be added to the laundry list of excuses.”
She has a point. In fact, I’ve been wondering whether T. gondii might in some small way be contributing to my extreme extroversion—why I can’t resist striking up conversations everywhere I go, even when I’m short of time or with strangers I’ll never see again. Then it occurs to me that cysts in my brain might be behind my seesaw moods or even my splurges on expensive clothes. Maybe, I think with mounting conviction, the real me would have displayed better self-control, had I not been forced to swim upstream against the will of an insidious parasite. With my feline pal Pixie on my lap (for the record, she’s an outdoor cat), I call to get the results of my Toxo test. Negative. I don’t have the latent infection.
I call to tell Flegr the good news. Even though I’m relieved, I know my voice sounds flat. “It’s strange to admit,” I say, “but I think I’m a little disappointed.” He laughs. “People who have cats often feel that way, because they think the parasite explains why they behave this way or that,” he says. “But,” I protest, “you thought the same way.” Then it hits me. I may have dodged T. gondii, but given our knack for fooling ourselves—plus all those parasites out there that may also be playing tricks on our minds—can anyone really know who’s running the show?
Read More... How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy

Judge: Americans can be forced to decrypt their laptops

American citizens can be ordered to decrypt their PGP-scrambled hard drives for police to peruse for incriminating files, a federal judge in Colorado ruled today in what could become a precedent-setting case.
Judge Robert Blackburn ordered a Peyton, Colo., woman to decrypt the hard drive of a Toshiba laptop computer no later than February 21--or face the consequences including contempt of court.
PGP Desktop: Even the FBI can't crack it!
PGP Desktop: Even the FBI can't crack it!
(Credit: Symantec)
Blackburn, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled that the Fifth Amendment posed no barrier to his decryption order. The Fifth Amendment says that nobody may be "compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself," which has become known as the right to avoid self-incrimination.
"I find and conclude that the Fifth Amendment is not implicated by requiring production of the unencrypted contents of the Toshiba Satellite M305 laptop computer," Blackburn wrote in a 10-page opinion today. He said the All Writs Act, which dates back to 1789 and has been used to require telephone companies to aid in surveillance, could be invoked in forcing decryption of hard drives as well.
Ramona Fricosu, who is accused of being involved in a mortgage scam, has declined to decrypt a laptop encrypted with Symantec's PGP Desktop that the FBI found in her bedroom during a raid of a home she shared with her mother and children (and whether she's even able to do so is not yet clear).
Colorado Springs attorney Phil Dubois, who once represented PGP creator Phil Zimmermann, now finds himself fighting the feds over encryption a second time.
Colorado Springs attorney Phil Dubois, who once represented PGP creator Phil Zimmermann, now finds himself fighting the feds over encryption a second time.
"I hope to get a stay of execution of this order so we can file an appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals," Fricosu's attorney, Phil Dubois, said this afternoon. "I think it's a matter of national importance. It should not be treated as though it's just another day in Fourth Amendment litigation." (See CNET's interview last year with Dubois, who once represented PGP creator Phil Zimmermann.)
Dubois said that, in addition, his client may not be able to decrypt the laptop for any number of reasons. "If that's the case, then we'll report that fact to the court, and the law is fairly clear that people cannot be punished for failure to do things they are unable to do," he said.
Today's ruling from Blackburn sided with the U.S. Department of Justice, which argued, as CNET reported last summer, that Americans' Fifth Amendment right to remain silent doesn't apply to their encryption passphrases. Federal prosecutors, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment this afternoon, claimed in a brief that:
Public interests will be harmed absent requiring defendants to make available unencrypted contents in circumstances like these. Failing to compel Ms. Fricosu amounts to a concession to her and potential criminals (be it in child exploitation, national security, terrorism, financial crimes or drug trafficking cases) that encrypting all inculpatory digital evidence will serve to defeat the efforts of law enforcement officers to obtain such evidence through judicially authorized search warrants, and thus make their prosecution impossible.
While the U.S. Supreme Court has not confronted the topic, a handful of lower courts have.
In March 2010, a federal judge in Michigan ruled that Thomas Kirschner, facing charges of receiving child pornography, would not have to give up his password. That's "protecting his invocation of his Fifth Amendment privilege against compelled self-incrimination," the court ruled (PDF).
A year earlier, a Vermont federal judge concluded that Sebastien Boucher, who a border guard claims had child porn on his Alienware laptop, did not have a Fifth Amendment right to keep the files encrypted. Boucher eventually complied and was convicted.
Prosecutors in this case have stressed that they don't actually require the passphrase itself, and today's order appears to permit Fricosu to type it in and unlock the files without anyone looking over her shoulder. They say they want only the decrypted data and are not demanding "the password to the drive, either orally or in written form."
Because this involves a Fifth Amendment claim, Colorado prosecutors took the unusual step of seeking approval from headquarters in Washington, D.C.: On May 5, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer sent a letter to Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh saying "I hereby approve your request."
The question of whether a criminal defendant can be legally compelled to cough up his encryption passphrase remains an unsettled one, with law review articles for at least the last 15 years arguing the merits of either approach. (A U.S. Justice Department attorney wrote an article in 1996, for instance, titled "Compelled Production of Plaintext and Keys.")
Much of the discussion has been about what analogy comes closest. Prosecutors tend to view PGP passphrases as akin to someone possessing a key to a safe filled with incriminating documents. That person can, in general, be legally compelled to hand over the key. Other examples include the U.S. Supreme Court saying that defendants can be forced to provide fingerprints, blood samples, or voice recordings.
On the other hand are civil libertarians citing other Supreme Court cases that conclude Americans can't be forced to give "compelled testimonial communications" and extending the legal shield of the Fifth Amendment to encryption passphrases. Courts already have ruled that that such protection extends to the contents of a defendant's minds, the argument goes, so why shouldn't a passphrase be shielded as well?
Fricosu was born in 1974 and living in Peyton as of 2010. She was charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering as part of an alleged attempt to use falsified court documents to illegally gain title to homes near Colorado Springs that were facing "imminent foreclosure" or whose owners were relocating outside the state. Some of the charges could yield up to 30 years in prison; she pleaded not guilty. Her husband, Scott Whatcott, was also charged

Read More... Judge: Americans can be forced to decrypt their laptops