#ChinaHack: That does it. I want executions.

June 17, 2015
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OPM network security specialist

This Ars Technica article about today’s House hearing on the Chinese hacking of almost the entire US government personnel database opens with a recounting of the deserved reaming the head of OPM and its CIO received from Chairman Chaffetz (R) and his committee. But, that was not the nut of the article. Oh, no. The crucial piece of information was buried in the next to last paragraph. See if you can spot it.

Some of the contractors that have helped OPM with managing internal data have had security issues of their own—including potentially giving foreign governments direct access to data long before the recent reported breaches. A consultant who did some work with a company contracted by OPM to manage personnel records for a number of agencies told Ars that he found the Unix systems administrator for the project “was in Argentina and his co-worker was physically located in the [People’s Republic of China]. Both had direct access to every row of data in every database: they were root. Another team that worked with these databases had at its head two team members with PRC passports. I know that because I challenged them personally and revoked their privileges. From my perspective, OPM compromised this information more than three years ago and my take on the current breach is ‘so what’s new?'”

Repeat after me: the Chinese (1) had frakking root access (2) to those databases!! That made them top-level administrators with access to everything. All the supposedly secure, classified data on every background check of every US employee investigated by OPM. And who knows what else they could do while they had access?

I’m almost speechless. To Hell with firing people: this is so weapons-grade stupid that only a firing squad will do.

Pour encourager les autres.

via CinnaminM and John Schindler

Footnotes:
(1) Please. Don’t even try to tell me a root-level administrator working in China was not -at the least- turned by Chinese intelligence, if not an active agent.
(2) See.


Oh, my: Obama and Hillary regularly exchanged emails

March 9, 2015

 

"It's all good. No worries!"

“It’s all good. No worries!”

To and from her private email address, hosted on a private server of questionable security in her own house.

Well, there goes any argument that The One only learned of this in his usual way, by reading the papers:

President Barack Obama communicated via email with Hillary Clinton while she used her personal email, according to the White House.

In a press briefing on Monday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Obama did correspond with his secretary of state via her private email address.

“The president, as I think many people expected, did over the course of his first several years in office trade emails with his secretary of state,” Earnest said. “I would not describe the number of emails as large, but they did have the occasion to email each other.”

Yeah, not many emails. You know, the President of the United States and his top diplomat were just trading LOL Cat links and recipes. No way were they conducting important discussions on matters of state or sharing classified information that governments around the world would die to get their hands on. Nope. Unthinkable.

Consider: any intelligence service worth its salt hacked the Clinton’s server the moment they learned she was using a private email address, and I guarantee you someone found that out over her four-year term. And, if that happened, they now have the president’s private email address plus copies of any information she sent him and he sent her.

It would be as if China’s Ministry of State Security had a stenographer in the Oval Office.

Remember, Clinton used this email exclusively. No matter what security the White House had, the Clinton’s server was secured by the equivalent of a “No peeking” sign. What information did she and Obama share with each other? Were any classified docs sent as attachments? Edward Snowden has to be wondering why he went to all that trouble, when we were making it so easy.

Food for thought: No one with more than half a brain believes Obama didn’t notice the sender info in his emails over four years, nor knew that Hillary was running a private network. And yet if His Oneness sent classified info over unsecure lines, knowing what Hillary was doing and making no effort to put a stop to it, isn’t the POTUS himself as culpable, at least morally?

Afterthought: You know, if the committees of Congress want to know what’s in Hillary’s emails, they could just ask Wikileaks…

 


Two reasons why Hillary had the secret email account. Choose one.

March 4, 2015
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“Emails? What emails?”

Really, you have to wonder why she (and Bill) would do something so dumb, so dangerously likely to come out and potentially cripple her presidential run.

Why, Hillary? Why??

Well, there are a couple of plausible explanations. Let’s look at both.

First, there’s the “facing the truth about herself” argument from National Review‘s Kevin Williamson: Hillary was preparing for her own failure:

Mrs. Clinton knows – she must know, at some level – that she has been grossly unprepared for every position she has held in public life other than that of first lady. She was a New York senator who knew the parts of the state more than 40 miles from a park-view room at the Plaza about as well as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. knows Muleshoe, Texas. She was a presidential candidate whose only recommendations were ovaries and a surname beloved – but not quite enough — by Democratic primary voters. And then she became a secretary of state appointed to the position mainly to appease the bruised feelings of Clintonites and to keep her from making mischief in case of a first-term Obama administration meltdown.

But she was a grossly incompetent secretary of state who knew that she was going to run for president again, and thus she took positive steps in advance to put in place protocols that would help her to mask her inadequacy. It is difficult even for her admirers to make a credible argument that her time in that office was anything other than disastrous. She knows this.

There’s really no denying any of this. Hillary’s sole means of advancing herself has been by riding the coattails of powerful men. It’s the reason she stayed with Bill, even after his serial infidelities, the most famous of which lead to her national humiliation: these men were her key to power. When she bungled the nominating race in 2008 and lost to a more nimble, younger, male candidate what everyone had assumed for years would be hers, her only hope of gaining the presidency she was inadequate to win on her own was to be a good soldier and make “the deal.”

And whenever those powerful men have given her important assignments –Hillarycare, under Bill; Secretary of State, under Obama– she’s been awful at them.

She bungled them all. She just wasn’t up to the task, whatever it was.

So, as Secretary of State, she used a private email account to hide her failings.

Like I said, “plausible.” I was willing to run with this, until further information came out. (More on that in a bit.)

The other theory is Stanley Kurtz’s. Kurtz, who also writes for NR and is a PhD in Social Anthropology, has written a couple of excellent books on President Obama. He’s a trained observer of cultural and political behavior. In his estimation, the news about the secret email account fits with a “Clinton family culture” that ingrained in her a habit, a reflexive need to evade executive responsibility:

The problems go back as far as Bill’s failed congressional campaign of 1974 and extend through a long series of cases in the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion and the Clinton White House. Typically, Hillary appeared on no flow chart and held no official authority, yet she intervened to delay or reverse existing decisions, sowing confusion. Desperate to disguise the extent of her de facto power, Hillary was driven to an obsessive secrecy that only increased the administrative chaos.

When Hillary finally secured a formal role as leader of the health-care initiative in the Clinton White House, the problem simply took on another form. Hillary circumvented the policy-planning apparatus of the White House by creating an unwieldy and hyper-secret parallel health-care bureaucracy of her own. The result was political and administrative disarray.

With direct access to Bill putting her beyond any official White House record-keeping, Hillary grew used to acting without a paper trail. To avoid that eventuality entirely, she began disguising her West Wing activities by using White House staffers as proxies, creating further confusion.

Hillary also forced White House aides to spend endless hours “erasing her fingerprints” from controversial decisions such as closing off the White House press corridor or firing White House travel office personnel to replace them with Clinton cronies. Vince Foster’s suicide may have been a direct result of Hillary’s attempt to evade responsibility for her own decisions. After erasing Hillary’s fingerprints from the travel office firings, Foster knew he’d be vulnerable to charges of having misled congressional investigators while he was under oath.

This is the more credible theory, I think, especially when one considers the news that the Clintons had, not just a private, semi-secret email for her conduct of State Department business, but their own private email servers in their home, set up by a man no one can so far trace. Consider:

Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton’s home, an email server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking.

Fits to a tee with the “obsessive secrecy” angle, doesn’t it?

I suppose one could argue that both could be true, the secrecy being a protective layer over the awareness of her own incompetence. But, whatever the truth, two things are certain: Where the Clintons are concerned, there is no shortage of popcorn-worthy drama, and there is no way she should ever be let near the Oval Office.

What do you think?


Test at Tonopah solar project ignites hundreds of birds in mid-air

March 2, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

Well done, Green Movement, well done.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

Uh, oh. From NatureWorldNews

crescent-01[1]

“It’s no secret that solar power is hot right now, with innovators and big name companies alike putting a great deal of time, money, and effort into improving these amazing sources of renewable energy. Still, the last thing you’d likely expect is for a new experimental array to literally light nearly 130 birds in mid-flight on fire.

And yet, that’s exactly what happened near Tonopah, Nevada last month during tests of the 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project.”

“According to Rudy Evenson, Deputy Chief of Communications for Nevada Bureau of Land Management (NBLM) in Reno, as reported by Re Wire, a third of the newly constructed plant was put into action on the morning of Jan. 14, redirecting concentrated solar energy to a point 1,200 feet above the ground.”

“Unfortunately, about two hours into the test, engineers and biologists on site started…

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When Kremlin Trolls Attack

February 23, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

Cold War II meets the social media age.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

The issue of online trolls doing the bidding of Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin has been getting some mainstream media attention, finally. The reality that Russia buys, or at least rents, trolls by the battalion to harass, intimidate and make life unpleasant for anybody who opposes Moscow policy, while employing aggressive agitprop to further Putinist propaganda, isn’t exactly news, but it’s nevertheless welcome to see mainstream outlets doing some digging into what’s going on.

I’ve dealt with more than my share of Kremlin trolls ever since the Edward Snowden story broke in June 2013. As a major spokesman for the anti-Snowden viewpoint, as well as the only former NSA counterintelligence officer who’s talked publicly about this case at length, I’ve gotten my share of grief and then some from online Pals of Putin, with their usual modus operandi: smears, lies, slurs, and threats.

Some of these Kremlin clowns…

View original 547 more words


Should Government Regulators Make the Internet More Like the Post Office or DMV?

February 15, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

I’ll take Option C, “neither.”

Originally posted on International Liberty:

The Internet has made all of our lives better, in part because there’s been an accidental policy of benign neglect from Washington.

But that’s about to change.

Even though our economy already is burdened by record amounts of regulation and red tape, the FCC is pushing forward with a plan to turn the Internet into a moss-covered public utility.

This almost leaves me at a loss for words. It’s truly remarkable – in a bad way – that the bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission think that the Internet can be improved by a big dose of 1930s-era regulation and control.

My Cato colleague, Jim Harper, summarized the issue last month.

Do you want your Internet service provider to operate like the water company or the electric company?… the FCC has sought for years now to regulate broadband Internet service providers…like it used to regulate AT&T, with government…

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Cloud City on Venus? Make it so!

December 26, 2014

venus sky base

(Photo credit: NASA Langley Research Center)

The fine folks at NASA are thinking it might be easier to go to Venus first, rather than Mars. After all, it’s nearer. But how, given the (to put it mildly) hostile conditions of the Venusian surface?

Simple: we build a colony above the clouds!

Called HAVOC – High Altitude Venus Operational Concept — engineers and scientists at the space agency have been studying ways in which a Venus mission would be possible.

“The atmosphere of Venus is an exciting destination for both further scientific study and future human exploration,” aerospace engineer Christopher A. Jones told CNN.

Venus is the closest planet to Earth, about 38 million kilometres, compared with 54.6 million km to Mars. However, it is also highly inhospitable with a mean temperature of 462 degrees Celsius, a cloud layer of sulphuric acid and atmospheric pressure that’s 92 times greater than Earth’s.

Scientists say, however, that just 50 kilometres above the cloud layer are conditions that mimic Earth – pressure is almost the same and so is the gravity and the temperature is about 75 C. With current technology, the astronauts could be outfitted in special suits to withstand the heat.

In previous years, probes have been sent to the surface of Venus, but could only last about two hours.

NASA has also provided a concept video (via):

There’s a fuller discussion at the IEEE Spectrum.

NASA projects the initial mission to last about 30 days, but, over time, the station itself could become permanent, with researchers coming and going. (And tourists? Why not?)

If you know me, you know I grew up watching and loving the space program. While I support private space efforts, I think a NASA-lead exploration program fits with our “Lewis and Clark” traditions. Add to that the possibility of a Star Wars-like “Cloud City” (1), and I’m all for it. Let’s start tomorrow!

We’ve walked on the Moon. No reason we can’t soar above Venus.

Footnote:
(1) Okay, okay. Not even close to Cloud City. But ya gotta start somewhere! smiley thumbs up

 


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