- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 15, 2010


Lawmakers move to stop false IDs

Using false caller ID with the intent of tricking people into revealing personal information or otherwise causing harm would become illegal under legislation that passed the House on Wednesday.

Backers of the bill, passed by voice vote, said caller ID “spoofing” is a growing threat to people because of new technology making it cheap and easy to change the name and number that phone-call recipients see on their caller ID.

For example, a scammer might use the caller ID of a bank as a way of duping a person into revealing his Social Security, bank-account or credit-card numbers.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel, New York Democrat, the chief sponsor of the bill with Rep. Joe Barton, Texas Republican, cited a case last year where New York City police uncovered an identity-theft ring that used caller ID spoofing to steal more than $15 million from 6,000 victims.

In another case, he said, a woman used the caller ID of a pharmacist to trick a romantic rival into taking a drug used to cause abortions.

Mr. Engel and others speaking on the legislation also raised an issue that strikes closer to home - the use of spoofing during political campaigns to mislead voters or get voters angry at a candidate they mistakenly think is calling them, perhaps in the middle of the night.


Economist joins challenge to Gillibrand

NEW YORK | Economist David Malpass, an economist who has never held public office, announced Wednesday he would seek the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, saying she was an “unelected occupant” of the seat who had failed to protect the state’s taxpayers.

“She’s chosen at every step to spend to spend New Yorkers’ hard-earned taxes without setting any limits or boundaries,” Mr. Malpass said, referring to Mrs. Gillibrand’s vote in favor of President Obama’s health care overhaul and the $787 billion stimulus plan enacted last year.

Mr. Malpass, a former treasury official under President Reagan, made the announcement on the steps of City Hall with Steve Forbes, the multimillionaire publisher and former GOP presidential candidate, at his side. Mr. Forbes said Mr. Malpass was well versed in areas of economic policy that most Washington politicians consider boring.

“If he had been in charge, we wouldn’t have had this financial crisis,” Mr. Forbes said.

Mrs. Gillibrand, a former U.S. House member from upstate New York, was appointed by Gov. David Paterson to fill Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Senate seat last year after Mr. Obama named Mrs. Clinton to be secretary of state. Since then, Mrs. Gillibrand has run an aggressive campaign to win the seat in a special election this fall despite polling showing she is not well known to voters and could be vulnerable to a challenge.


D.C. vote bill back on track

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer says members of Congress could vote as early as next week on a bill that would give the District of Columbia a voting member of Congress. The District’s nonvoting representative, Eleanor Holmes Norton, also says the vote could come next week.

The Senate passed a bill granting the District a vote more than a year ago, but senators added a gun amendment that would repeal strict gun registration requirements and restrictions on semiautomatic weapons in the city. The bill since stalled without a vote in the House.

The bill would add two new members, one for the Democrat-heavy District and another for the Republican-leaning Utah.


Requirements tighten for Energy Star

The Obama administration is taking steps to strengthen the federal Energy Star program after a report found the government energy efficiency program vulnerable to fraud and abuse.

The Environmental Protection Agency says that to qualify their products for the energy-efficient label, new applicants will be required to submit complete lab reports and results for review. The agency is also ditching an automated approval process.

A report by last month by the General Accountability Office faulted the program for not verifying claims made by manufacturers. The GAO was able to get a bunch of phony products certified, including a gasoline-powered alarm clock.

The EPA and Energy Department will also require all manufacturers by the end of the year to submit test results from an approved, accredited lab.


Republican leaders dis-invite Paladino

BUFFALO | Racy and racist e-mails forwarded by Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino have cost him an appearance at a political forum being hosted by Albany-area GOP leaders.

The local Republicans say they’ve withdrawn an invitation for the Buffalo businessman to attend Friday’s regional forum for statewide candidates.

They said in a statement Tuesday there’s “no chance” Mr. Paladino would receive the group’s endorsement.

Mr. Paladino finds himself in the national spotlight after a Web site revealed he had forwarded e-mails featuring images of bestiality. Another showed an altered photo of President Obama and the first lady cast as a pimp and a prostitute.

Mr. Paladino’s spokesman says Wednesday the candidate was never invited to the meeting and had a previous commitment anyway.

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