August 26, 2010

On Speech & Privacy Twitter Wins Where Facebook Fails

 

 

Why is Twitter surpassing Facebook in popularity (at least for advocates and dissidents)? Well, for one thing it's a free speech zone. And for another, users have control over their privacy.

 

There has been much talk about the way the two sites are formatted, the simplicity of one, the flight by the other to imitate it wherever it can; the  way information flows into the stream and trends can be tracked on the front side and not just the back end by employees and advertisers.

 

As many of us already know, Facebook seems to have earned a reputation for deleting and harassing users who  are outspoken conservatives, including one or two rather high profile ones. This increasingly is earning a reputation for Facebook similar to the unsavory one earned by Google, which routinely hands dissidents over in China to authorities who beat, torture, and murder them.

 

Speaking of Google, a quick web search seems to demonstrate that liberals aren’t complaining about the same treatment from the Facebook gods. (One can be sure that if there were equal treatment, libs would be first and loudest to scream about it.) By Contrast, Twitter’s speech policy seems far more consistent with the spirit of the internet and free-thinking societies in general. With the exception of direct physical threats, Twitter has been pretty good about staying out of the dysfunctional and pathetic game of political content censorship. In fact, some might argue Twitter is too loose, at times, allowing what may be considered libel to be posted without doing much about it; however, as they say, “sticks and stones…” – and most of us would rather have an open forum than some control freak dystopia where site employees regularly give users they don’t like the feeling of living in North Korea.

 

The other key difference is privacy. To Facebook, the user is not the customer; the advertiser is and the user is merely the commodity Facebook sells to the advertiser, as others have already pointed out:

 

This may seem like a bad way to treat customers, but the whole point about Facebook is that users aren't customers. Anyone who supposes that Facebook's users are its customer has got the business model precisely backwards. Users pay nothing, because we aren't customers, but product. The customers are the advertisers to whom Facebook sells the information users hand over, knowingly or not. – Andrew Brown

 

 It is this philosophy that drives Facebook’s disregard for the privacy interests of its users, as evinced by its oft confusing and oft changing privacy policies. In fact, one look at this startling graph (or this one) – both graphs quite popular on the internet these days – shows quite starkly how Facebook has been pot-frogging its users to the idea of sharing everything with everyone on the internet (and the afore-mentioned advertisers, who then make bank stalking you in every conceivable manner). In fact, Facebook’s privacy statement has gone from a little over a thousand words to almost six thousand in just five years. Does such behavior open Facebook up to potential liability if a user unaware their privacy settings have been changed and opened up to the internet is stalked by not a company but a psychopath murderer? Who knows, but certainly one could wonder whether Facebook’s disregard for its users is reckless and short-sighted.

 

Enter Twitter. If I were a political dissident, this would certainly be my first choice. I can choose any user name I’d like and give up only as much information as I choose. In fact, there’s very little room in my bio to share much of anything! While Facebook and Twitter both suffer horrible user support, at least Twitter doesn’t seem to me to act as though it has nefarious plans sometimes for its users. Refreshing, especially in this day and age where it seems everyone is scheming against everyone else and has lost the decent sense of leaving others the heck alone. And while both social media sites make it difficult to organize and archive contacts and posts, Twitter is far friendlier to third party tools for doing both.

 

There are certainly other areas to compare the two sites, but these days when freedom of speech and privacy come at a premium, Twitter is hands-down the better medium for the smart advocate.

 

 

Posted by Martin at 03:34 AM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2010

Obama vs. NASA: Will Modern Regressivism Turn to Science?

 

 

When some people become desperate, they claim to "find religion". The Regressive President claims to have found science, suddenly expressing willingness to take us back to the moon, Mars, and even an asteroid or two. Now if he were now truly committing himself to embracing science and progress, I might suggest that he next acknowledge the humanity of - and therefore the moral and legal obligation to protect - the unborn.

 

The only problem with any of this is that Obama, who remains among the tiny few still fixated on this primitive anthropogenic global warming mythology in the face of all good science, really plans to do none of it. He is a man of many words. But his actions have been few if any, which is probably for the better since his actions have been disastrous.

 

As we retire the space shuttle program we are forced for the first time in half a century to sit down and watch as other nations take to the stars around us. In the short space of one year, the United States has fallen from the heavens. Once the only superpower preparing to re-establish its presence on the moon and Mars – and thus, in part, maintain its preeminence, it is now becoming a leading debtor nation, broken militarily and technologically, and lacking vision. 

 

Of course, it is not too late for the president to find his science and buck the ideology of the Regressive Movement that thus far seems to have unrelentingly driven him backward. But he may need to find religion first. Until he realizes that neither his persona nor the archaic and failed ideology he bitterly clings to will ever be what brings mankind hope, we are all in for a bumpy ride.

 

 

 

Posted by Martin at 06:24 PM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2007

Chinagate, China Today

 

 

Three months ago the U.S. Stock Market shook. The epicenter? China. The shakeup was due to unanticipated action by the Chinese government. The result? Now both sides of the Pacific have a proof-of-concept:  China need not do much to shake the U.S. economy and can do it on the slightest whim.

 

Two months ago, melamine was found to have been deliberately and illegally added in China to pet food products intended for U.S. consumers. Melamine has contaminated over 40 brands of pet food, causing serious illness and death in tens of thousands of American pets. Some are now concerned that such contamination may have found its way into the human food supply. Currently, the U.S. imports 1/3 of food products from China. Now both sides of the Pacific have a proof-of-concept: China need only manipulate or add one invisible ingredient in the mix to shake U.S. food shelves.

 

This month a document was obtained from the infamous “D.C. Madam” with the names of thousands of Washington clients, many of whom no doubt politicians, government employees, journalists, and so on. Who wants to bet that Chinese agents (the most active in the U.S.) had a copy of that list before ABC knew it existed? Who is willing to bet the Chinese have similar lists of such indiscrete clients at nearly every level of government and influential business across the country already collected as much as humanly possible? After the Chinagate scandals during the Clinton years, it’s hard to imagine the need for another proof of concept that China could shake the lives of American politicians and business leaders within our own borders who do not tow a China-friendly U.S. foreign and economic policy; however, for those who might have forgotten, this month’s big news could prove to be another lesson as well. If my guess concerning the names on that list is correct (and measuring also just how easily the personal data of ordinary Americans has been compromised en masse and most troubling: how certain sources I know with clearance – both high- and low-level military and defense contractor sources, no less – compromise their public trust for nothing more than an ego boost) we may have an unpleasent trifecta of events upon us, the confluence of which portends much more unpleasentness to come if we do not change course.

 

Perhaps, just perhaps, we have nothing about which to concern ourselves here, but the obvious vulnerability nonetheless should raise alarm bells even without a China known to aggressively seek information compromised by the blackmailed through swallows and other means; a China sworn to keep U.S. dollars flowing in and funding its military buildup (with stolen U.S. technology); a China intent on keeping the spotlight off of its Nazi-like human rights record and adventurist aims in the region; a China determined to become a superpower by first standing on the shoulders of giants (as Sun Tzu put it), then becoming so big its feet stomp one former giant into the ground that its leaders have already sworn to destroy.  

 

Is this another step in Chinese strategic evolution? If so, how did we get here? Was the Chinagate scandal the original proof of concept that China could influence American policy with its misbehavior? At what point did U.S. officials simply roll over and allow China to do what the Soviet Union had only dreamt of doing in its heyday?

 

Perhaps the trailer for the movie Chinagate due out this summer best explains that question; it seems to proffer much toward where we’ve been and why we’re here, as well as where we may be headed:

 

Chinagate: Sneak Preview

jayzel68

 

Posted by Martin at 01:44 AM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2006

Russia: A Prequel Portending?

 

 

Below is my latest video, “Empire: Prelude to Revanchism” (5:45). What you need to take away from this is the extent and seriousness of the Neo-Sovietist buildup that has wasted no time since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Even as far back as Yeltsin’s day have espionage, armament expansions, the building of strategic axis relationships, and internal repression expanded, not diminished. Today the USSR is the CIS. On the figure of human rights: over 300 journalists murdered so far. Watch video for quotes from more news accounts and their sources.

 

 

 

But this need not be the case, if the Russian people will courageously stand together as did the people who brought about the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, what Putin envisions does not need to be so. The people of Russia hold the power, but they must take it.

 

 

Posted by Martin at 01:58 AM | Comments (2)

December 04, 2006

Russia's Spies: Was West Blinded by Cutbacks?

 

 

Some news accounts are actually now saying that Britain might have had a long history of being infiltrated by Russian spies.

 

You don’t say! What an epiphany!

 

Britain has often been literally “owned” by Russian and Soviet spies since well-prior to World War II. Does anyone recall the success of the Great Illegals, the Magnificent 5, Kim Philby, et al? It’s a list of double-agents working in intelligence all over the world ostensibly for Britain, but not really, not to mention others reporting on political developments inside confidential British halls, developments in science and technology, and so forth.

 

Philby, by no means the only one, but one of the grandest among the Cambridge 5 succeeded in becoming Britain’s man in charge of Section IX – Britain’s counter-Soviet section. Philby and others of course passed so many secrets on to the Soviets that often Russian leaders knew better what was going on in the most secret parts of British government than did Britain’s own government. This of course led to failures of many of Britain’s intelligence operations and shouts by British Labour Party members that MI6 needed to be done away with, since it was obviously such a weak case. Besides, they added, there’s no real Soviet problem (or some such precursor to a steaming dish of crow).  

 

Enter today:

 

“…The [Sunday Telegraph] quoted unnamed government sources as saying that Russian agents are as active in Britain now as they were during the height of the Cold War.” (London fears diplomatic fall-out over 'poisoned' spy: report AFP / LexisNexis)

 

Who said this was so before this press account? Ah yes, I remember. It was I, among a few others.

"’The sophisticated ring represents the greatest espionage threat facing Britain’, it added, claiming that more than 30 spies are now operating in Britain.”

 

And why? Weak counterintelligence, of course. Why does the UK have weak CI? Ah yes, Labour. Spaciba! Of course Democrats in Washington also have scars from their own denials of Soviet espionage: Alger Hiss and countless others appointed to high places in Washington government circles.

 

“Most were monitoring the movements and activities of exiled Russians and opponents of President Vladimir Putin's government, it added, although other areas of interest were the finance, energy, defence and electronics industry.”

 

Brilliant. We can all sleep knowing the newswires are letting us in on these difficult-to-research facts. A better question is why is this allowed to continue. And why are the Chinese allowed to do it in the US along with the Russians relatively unmolested? Though some other articles are suggesting there are a number of former Russian spies in hiding both in the US and UK, which was something else some of us anticipated.

 

If I recall, I stated five days ago,

 

The question Putin has to be asking himself is this: is there another Visili Mitrokhin out there quietly documenting every damning piece of evidence against the Kremlin and Lubyanka. What if there are several? And if so, how long before la ruse de la Russieist am Ende.

 

The German was for Putin’s time as a spook working in East Germany, the French is free of charge.

 

In fact, this probably just the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, I will assume the cockroach rule applies: for every one you find out in the light, scores are hiding out of sight. And when scores turn out, it means they are literally bleeding out the cracks. A few days before my post above, even Canada was turning up Russian illegals (spies using false papers to gain entry). Even Canada!

 

It’s fast becoming a messy turkey shoot. And Vladimir Putin is far more the amateur than his ego had led him to believe. I’m sure the Democrats in Washington are right on it though, as is Labour in London…

 

I admit I have my doubts as to whether the newly discovered realization that the British Isle has been a de-facto ward of Russian intelligence operatives will move anyone in the Labour government to do anything of consequence to change it. After all, if Labour hates anything more than hostile foreign spies on its soil – even ones basically committing radiological terrorism – its MI6 followed closely by MI5 (though America’s CIA is certainly up there ahead of the Russians too).

 

Oh, but post-Cold War Russian activity is a relatively new development. Not exactly:

 

Flashback 1992:

 

On April 15th Tatyana Samolis, spokeswoman for the Russian foreign-intelligence service (SVR), said: “We have begun reducing our intelligence network in Germany and other countries. We hope our colleagues from the German intelligence service will follow suit.'' The cut in Russian agents worldwide was put officially at 30%. However, on June 29th the German prosecutor-general, Alexander von Stahl, said Russian intelligence was “currently making considerable efforts to expand its network of agents on German soil.'' His office reckoned some 300 former East German spies had transferred their allegiance to the SVR. Samolis called this statement a deliberate attempt to “whip up fear''. She grumbled that none of Russia's “opposite numbers'' among intelligence services were proposing to reduce their espionage in Russia.

 

Curiously, both sides are telling the truth.

 

The SVR is indeed reducing its international operations, yet spying goes on apace. The espionage is partly by the SVR, keeping up the tradition of its predecessor, the defunct KGB. But more often than not it is carried out by the GRU, the ex-Soviet military-intelligence service. The GRU is almost beyond the reach of civilian control, as indeed are the ex-Soviet armed forces (see next story). On the other side, the Russians are right that western intelligence services are monitoring Russian affairs as closely as they can. Their masters are anxious about developments in Russia and need to be well briefed. (Jane’s Foreign Report, “Russian Spies”, 30 July 1992.)

 

In fact, there is zero firewall seperating the type or extent of activity of the Soviet Union and present-day Russia, as is often believed. What in fact happened is that Russia changed some names and the West pulled back.

 

Sadly as we now know, much of Western counterintelligence efforts that did exist at the end of the Cold War were stripped nearly to the bone in the naïve belief they were no longer needed. Meanwhile, Russia reorganized and redeployed… en masse.

 

 

 

PREVIOUS BLOGBAT POSTS:

 

To the Success of our Hopeless Cause!

 

More-on the Putintate Putz: Radiating the Love

 

Ode to the Putintate Putz

 

 

BLOGBAT POSTS PRIOR TO THIS WEEK:

 

Soviet-Era Intelligence & Ideology (Part I)

 

Soviet-Era Intelligence & Ideology (Part II)

 

The Life and Times of a Puny Putintate Putz

 

Russia: Secrets Well-Ignored and Poorly-Kept

 

Russia: Oil Slick of Contradictions

 

Let’s Talk About the Axis of Oil

 

Moving Forward on the EMP Threat

 

Most Muscovites Say US Ally, Not Adversary

 

Putin Deplores Collapse of USSR

 

Wormwood: The Moscow Legacy

 

The Axis of Oil

 

Russian Oil

 

Axis of Oil: Village of the Damned

 

Russia: Pensions, Poverty, and People-Herding

 

 

 

Posted by Martin at 03:24 AM | Comments (0)

November 30, 2006

More-on the Putintate Putz: Radiating the Love

The life and times of a velvet terrorist

 

 

Poor Putin, he can’t help it, can he? After all, he’s just a jealous guy. And those 300-plus journalists and such shouldn’t have made fun of him or said the nasty things that they said. And those awful traitors in Ukraine, Yukos, and the FSB and SVR! Putin knows what it means to be loyal – he out-sycophanted Andropov during his time serving Lubyanka. Now the little Chekist that could is trying to overcome his Khodorkovsky complex by outdoing Stalin. Velvet Terror anyone?

 

Ironically, during a return visit to his former KGB hallowed halls as Putintate-in-Chief, Vlady had this to say,

 

“'…Find them in all the caves where they are hiding, and eliminate them like rats,' President Putin told the Federal Security Service, or FSB, on Tuesday, urging them to intensify their hunt for Chechen rebels in the Caucasus."

 

 

Strategic Security Blog is quoting a Ukrainian article, but goes on to point out that in the same speech our little army-ant Putin contradicted himself. And clearly since then Putin has gone out of his way to make nice with Chechen rebels, even giving Chechen muslims a role to play as Russia goes down to Lebanon to help its proxies twice-removed Hamas and Hezbullah in their fight against Israel and the rest of the Free World. This no doubt also pleased the "Heydar Aliyev" element. Journalist Vladimir Rakhmankov may have been arrested for saying so, but he’s right: Putin is a putz.

 

So who then was Vlady calling for to be “elimitated like rats”?

 

На здоpовье!

 

Remember the poisoning of Ukraine’s elected president Viktor Yushchenko by Russian agents? YouTuber mzyxekb3 refreshes our memory and gives us a chronology of what follows touching on Alexander Litvinenko, Anna Politkovskaya, and others during the musical slideshow (at bottom).

 

Indeed, One might ask whether it’s long been time, to somewhat borrow from a British expression (from out in radio-land) for needing to forcibly unemploy someone, that Putin become a bit rodent-ant. No doubt Putin has made a direct impression on his own people as well as those of Ukraine, the Middle East, and Great Britain; rekindling lots of longstanding love in the latter, now that half-life isn’t just for isotopes and Russian agents anymore.

 

The question Putin has to be asking himself is this: is there another Visili Mitrokhin out there quietly documenting every damning piece of evidence against the Kremlin and Lubyanka. What if there are several? And if so, how long before la ruse de la Russieist am Ende.

 

Meanwhile, what is Gorby doing these days? Right Truth has some of that and much more; you won’t be surprised to hear his work in the 90’s was no open-ended song.

 

 

 

 

Posted by Martin at 01:04 PM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2006

Ode to the Putintate Putz

 

 

As luck would have it, everything has managed to hit the fan with respect to Russia while I'm too busy to blog about it. So, I threw together this little video blog instead (4 minutes). I think it sums up the whole picture rather nicely. The name of the video is "Chatter" and you'll see why. :) But also give some thought to what types of "chatter" are going on today and what it means for the interests of the Free World.

 

 

 

Music is by the Russian Red Army Choir with the audio remix by yours truly. Audio samples courtesy of the SVR (in Russian, Farsi, and Tajik), China's MSS or other service, the CIA, and the Mossad (of over-the-air messages from so-called "number stations" from clips available on the web).

 

Images come courtesy of the web via newswire, government or other odd source (most images have been stored on my computer for some time, so it's always challenging to know precisely).

 

Russia is making the revival of its aggressive counterintelligence state felt around the world, as the CIS seeks to remove enemies and forge alliances with states like China, North Korean, Iran, Syria, and others. Putin, a former KGB spook has been leading Russia back toward a reputation of significant influence in every corner of the globe.

 

The Empire is dead; long live the Empire.

 

 

Related YouTube (MUST WATCH):

Litvinenko on Politkovskaya's Murder
- by stochasticprocess

 

ALEXANDER LITVINENKO, POLITKOVSKAYA: Putin Kills Our Own People - by nggr89079123

 

 

Blogbat related:

 

Soviet-Era Intelligence & Ideology (Part I)

 

Soviet-Era Intelligence & Ideology (Part II)

 

The Life and Times of a Puny Putintate Putz

 

Russia: Secrets Well-Ignored and Poorly-Kept

 

Russia: Oil Slick of Contradictions

 

Let’s Talk About the Axis of Oil

 

Moving Forward on the EMP Threat

 

Most Muscovites Say US Ally, Not Adversary

 

Putin Deplores Collapse of USSR

 

 

Posted by Martin at 05:35 PM | Comments (2)

November 22, 2006

Science vs. Myth

 

 

Let’s recap:

 

 

It’s a Dog!

 

 

 

 

It’s a dolphin!

 

 

 

 

It’s an elephant!

 

 

 

 

It’s not a person…

 

 

 

 

What’s wrong with this picture?

 

National Geographic looks to break ground next month yet again with the same incredible imagery technology to view animals it used to view the human baby in development in a previous special, which will be airing again tomorrow.

 

Such images beg a salient question or two in the heads of thinking people about the person – or animal – growing in the womb. It is either what it is, or it isn’t. Clearly, the unborn human baby by nature is human and therefore eligible for the same constitutional protections the rest of Americans share.

 

 

 

 

Posted by Martin at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2006

Hailing from Planet Sharia:

The galaxy might infer a whole new connotation for “illegal alien”

 

 

As we ponder surrendering to Islamofascist terrorism and the states like Russia and China who fund it now that the Democrats control our war funding via Congress, and as both parties are keen on triggering an even greater flood of dangerous thugs across our borders and through our ports, I recalled this great Cox & Forkum cartoon from last year:

 

 

Interestingly, no donkeys came out of that spacecraft. If there’s a Planet Pig out there, I feel for it…

 

 

Posted by Martin at 04:56 PM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2006

Election Burnout?

Fun for geeks

 

 

We use virtual desktops quite a bit for testing and so forth in our organization, both with our servers and on desktops. Emulation is so much fun, though Microsoft’s Virtual PC has its limitations, including the inability to isolate and utilize USB resources on the host, which would be great for one reason: flash drives. Instead, extra steps are required. An encrypted virtual desktop can be a useful extra step to protect confidential data in case of loss or theft on a password-protected mobile PC, by the way.

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, this is what you can do for fun with a desktop with a decent amount of resources (some of these should bring back memories!)...

 

   

   

    RC-1

 

 

As for what you can do for fun with a desktop when you’re a pet-owner, try this...

 

Don’t let the filter fool you though; plenty of the doggy dander and dusty critter fuzz got through leaving enough dust bunnies to scare a cabbage patch.

 

 

Posted by Martin at 10:38 PM | Comments (2)

October 10, 2006

A Good North Korea Policy Model

Foreign policy ideas that matter

 

 

Mark Levin’s opening segment yesterday hit the nail right on the head concerning what we should be kicking around instead of the dead horse of obviously socially very liberal former congressman Mark Foley.

 

In the first snippet below, Levin discusses exactly what we need to do about North Korea and Iran, as well as China and Russia. Taking up the Reagan mantel, Levin reminds us of what that leadership would look like in the world – particularly in such stormy times. Along with China and North Korea, Levin also notes that it's time with respect to Russia and Iran et al that if “If they arm our enemies, we’ll arm theirs”. If Russia chooses to act as if the first Cold War were still alive, so need we (10 mins.):

 

 

 

And what does the dem leadership say we should do about China’s little communist attack terrier? In this second snippet, Mark shows us what those dems would like to have us do: channel Jimmy Carter non compos corpus. In fact, the same Jimmy Carter who went to North Korea in the 90s to broker that brilliant disarmament success, also now is planning on trying the same with Tehran – presumably because Jimmy was also such a brilliant success with Iran once before. Even after the fall of the Soviet Union thanks to Reagan, libs still think appeasement is the answer. To wit, Levin plays a sound byte from future Frenchman and former plagiariser Democrat Senator Joe Biden’s mens rea: “Deal directly with, not negotiate, just lay down, have a straight out, flat out talk with North Korea…and find out if there is any possibility of them ceasing and desisting…”. In other words, this dem says we should “just lay down” and after the North Koreans and Chinese have their way with us, we’ll see if there’s “any possibility” they will consider going away. Levin goes on brilliantly from there (providing as well the timeline of Clinton and UN failures leading up to today) (6 mins.):

 

 

 

While the somewhat Nixonian Bush administration isn't exactly the perfect model of Reaganescence in its foreign policy, 60% is still better than 0%, and it should be remembered on Election Day. And while it’s not emphasized enough, if we don't like our Republican candidates, we have only ourselves to blame for not getting involved in the primary process which selects those candidates. Nevertheless, even though the Bush administration may not be perfect in foreign policy matters, outside of the Americas it's still morally right and much better than any repackaged form of peanut-farmer-inspired surrender the dem leadership may try to proffer.

 

There is also little doubt that the Bush administration has done much better than the easily-played Clinton administration when it comes to North Korea. While the left seems to think that Pyongyang went along by the rules during the 90s and only began working on nukes after Bush somehow managed to offend the ruffled pedophile with the bad wig Kim Jong Il, the same intellectually-challenged dems for whatever reason overlook the fact that it takes time to build a nuclear bomb. In other words, if the North Koreans are testing a bomb today, they were no doubt working on it all those years during the Clinton administration when they told Madeleine Not-So-Bright they would make nice in return for the US and Asian democracies paying tribute to the terrorist state. Surprise, surprise, communists once again lied like communists always do. And of course, since China was running its network of spies within various levels of US government with impunity during the Clinton years, no doubt Chinese intelligence was passed along to North Korea letting Pyongyang know there was nothing to worry about.

 

Mark Levin’s correct: we need to call China’s bluff and help Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan to go nuclear. Additionally, we should strengthen strategic ties in that region in a similar form to that of NATO, which was developed to be the strategic balance to Warsaw Pact communist expansionism during the first Cold War. You’ll see just who really controls North Korea when that process begins. And were North Korea unresponsive to China and run by a lone nut with a hostage crisis-making mentality and not a puppet government as the pro-China dem leadership seems to think, then our East Asian allies will be prepared for that, too. We must provide a way for those allies to defend themselves against either threat. As Levin rightly points out, both China and its Mini-Me North Korea need to be intelligently addressed, the growing shadow of their menace contravened in the region.

 

 

UPDATE: Jane at ALR: Jong Il and Maddie BFF

 

 

Posted by Martin at 01:58 AM | Comments (4)

September 24, 2006

The Life and Times of a Puny Putintate Putz

Stupid Move #619: Putintate's Policies in a Pickle

 

 

I said in the previous post I couldn't have made up the outrageous story surrounding the Turkish author Elif Shafak. Comedian Jay Leno couldn't have made this one up: A H/T to Debbie at Right Truth and La Russophobe for er, uncovering the latest human rights outrage coming out of what LR has pinned as Vladimir Putin’s Neo-Soviet State; a state in which anyone who criticizes the government is arrested or assassinated, Cheka-style.

 

For those of you wondering, I make it a rule never to do juvenile (and not so professional) photoshops like the one to the left, but since I guess we all now know that this sort of satire pushes Putin to cower in the fetal position in a dark corner somewhere, I'm rather obliged to play it to the hilt!*

 

Anyway, Last week Russian blogger Vladimir Rakhmankov was arrested in violation of Article 319 (not to be confused with Turkey’s Article 301 – apparently free speech suppression laws are similar everywhere) for his relatively tame political satire of Russian dictator-unofficiale, comparing Putin to a phallic symbol (and there are so many jokes with the Russian president's name alone that are unfortunately far beneath me). Rakhmankov made the comparison during the government’s recent public campaign to increase the Russian birth rate. Vladimir Putzin, (well, except for that one) still suffering from his Khodorkovsky complex was not amused, though so far Rakhmankov isn’t dead unlike twelve other journalists who are.

 

Ironically, before Rakhmankov was arrested, hardly anyone took ponderous note (especially outside of Russia) of his Putzin post, but now thanks to the magic of technocratic color, the whole world knows... and laughs, which is another example of why repression  backfires.

 

The Velvet (Underwear) Terror continues... but now with a strange and somewhat amusing twist (though there is nothing amusing about the repression and murder of dissidents). While Article 301 in Turkey was certainly in bad taste for freedom-lovers everywhere, Russia's Article 319 proves a bitter dill. But don't get mad, get Vlad!

 

 

 

 

 

EARLIER: Blogbat on the Russian Intelligence State with the Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki (SVR) as resurgent KGB surpassing its predecessor.

 

 

CULTURAL NOTE: ”Putin padovis!” (pah-doe-VEES) has been a popular slogan in Russia for protestors and dissidents alike since Putin's first days re-Stalinizing the country. Made famous by pensioners in 2002 angry over severe cuts in winter staples, protestors demonstrated across Russia before Putin began terrorizing the populous into dhimmitude...or commietude... The expression literally means, “choke and die”. Say it however you mean it.

 

*p.s. Let's see the coward Putin try to put this pony back in the barn...  

Posted by Martin at 10:55 AM | Comments (2)

September 20, 2006

Russia: Secrets Well-Ignored and Poorly-Kept

 

 

 

Is Putin’s Russia becoming the first major intelligence regime? And if so, what does this portend to future Russian political and military ambitions across the globe if the regime is now run by a not-so-nascent espionage political class?

 

Recently the person we’ve come to know as the last Soviet dictator, Mikhail Gorbachev expressed a few regrets about his time at the head of the USSR, most notably, that he was not as strong or strict as Putin. But Putin too has his regrets: he has openly expressed regret at the demise of the Soviet Union (calling it a "national tragedy of enormous scale"), so much so that he's brought back many of the former institutions. Russians today would feel completely at home with their parents’ generation in many respects. On the glasnost (or appearance – not openness) side of things, Russians once again sing the Soviet national anthem as their own. They look out in the “near-abroad” and call it the Commonwealth of Independent States (similar to one name given internally for the Soviet Union in its time). But more substantially, while internally freedoms and descent are being quashed under what I’ve recently dubbed as Putin’s “velvet terror” (exacerbated no doubt by his “Khodorkovsky complex” – similar to Andropov’s “Hungarian complex”), externally Moscow is using whatever means available to throw its weight around, extending its influence far beyond the CIS and Eastern Europe.

 

Today Russia is still a big player in providing arms, advisors, and influence in regimes set diametrically against Western interests. Russia is also a big player in keeping Europe in tow through the domination of its fossil fuel giant Gazprom, which is essentially a state-run enterprise from top to bottom, and filled from top to bottom with Putin’s political yes-men and SVR (Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki), Russia’s successor to the KGB.

 

Many experts agree and for good reason that the Soviet Union was the world’s greatest counterintelligence state. Indeed, even despite the failures caused by the elimination of ¾ of Soviet intelligence agents during Stalin’s purges, the Kremlin’s failure to properly assess information gathered by agents in the field because the information did not conform to existing Party biases and assumptions (Stalin’s costly denials about imminent Nazi German intentions and the demand for devotion of ever greater resources to his paranoia about the British come to mind), the Soviet Union had without argument the most extensive and highly successful human intelligence network anywhere in the world.  

 

From early on Soviet NKVD and OGPU agents succeeded in penetrating the “commanding heights” of any power they wished. Britain and its security and intelligence services were not immune, nor in Washington the White House, State Department, War Department, and OSS (World War II predecessor to the CIA), nor either were the governments of Italy, France, Spain, and anyone else, including Nazi Germany, from the placement of agents at the most sensitive positions within the inner circles of power. In the UK among the many the Soviets had cultivated, were the so-called “Magnificent 5”, five British university students who later entered various important positions in British government, including at Whitehall. Among the likes of Kim Philby were those responsible for handing over so much political and technical secret information that Stalin knew more about the meeting at Yalta with Churchill and Roosevelt than did Churchill or Roosevelt; as well he knew more about the British TUBE ALLOYS project to develop a nuclear bomb than did many among the most privy in British government. Kim Philby was later placed in charge of MI6 Section IX, which was the British anti-Soviet counterintelligence directorate, with obviously unpleasant consequences for the West.

 

The KGB also pioneered the art of agent provocateur to a degree of success never before seen on the world stage, as well as that of organizing terrorist proxies working on its behalf, such as Palestinian groups who received direct funding and material support from Lubyanka. Work done by Nazi Germany to destabilize the Sudetenland, Austria, and Poland prior to the Wehrmacht invasion pales by comparison.

 

And Soviet agents ran their networks effectively unopposed until the start of the Cold War, but still enjoyed an SIS and CIA severally throttled by political elements within both Western countries until the Reagan/Thatcher era, enabling the Soviets to run arms and personnel even into the US homeland across Mexican and Canadian borders and sea ports (though the Soviets found it harder to place illegals (illegally present operatives operating under false papers) in the US later on than in the Soviet Union’s ideological heyday). At the same time however, Soviet successes in stealing Western technology were legend in the vastness of their success. By some estimates, stolen Western technology made up for over 70% of Soviet technological advances and saved the cash-starved regime billions of dollars – no doubt helping to keep it on life support for many more years than might otherwise have been sustainable. Though most of its agents became more interested in working for cash than politics, this shortcoming was easy to overlook since because of the lax realities of Western counterintelligence, risks were relatively slim and the payout was not.

 

The main obstacle for the most successful intelligence state in world history however was not nearly so much the man in the field as the political bosses at the top who refused and at times severely punished the messenger when he brought information which did not connect with prior political assumptions.

 

This main obstacle is no longer in the way. In an even much greater way than former Soviet leader Yuri Andropov (an ex-KGB chief) could have imagined, the government under Vladimir Putin (also a former KGB man) has unfettered latitude to follow the policies dictated by thorough and correct intelligence analysis. No longer forced to comport information with ideology, spies and analysts are the true beneficiaries of Gorbachev’s “glasnost” and “perestroika” movements.

 

 

At a time with US human information gathering at one of its weakest partly due to Clinton-era cutbacks in CIA manpower (by some accounts up to 80%), not much is known of Russian activities apart from the occasional spy we’ve managed to catch in the past few years or evidence of SVR background work in Iran, Saddam’s Iraq, Syria, and other hotspots. This lack of eyes coupled with a general lack of interest in political circles in the West also aid the SVR phoenix in its daily tasks.

 

It may strike some as remarkably naïve that President Bush would claim to have looked into Putin’s soul and seen only goodness, particularly since the first President (and former head of CIA) Bush was no stranger to the world of deception. But George W. Bush would not be alone in making too brief an assessment of his Muscovite counterpart. One must only look at the administrations of Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter to see this apathy in the West – even in the face of a full-scale Cold War – is nothing new. But time may be the only thing that tells. We do know there has yet been very little movement to harden assets against Chinese espionage – a force which promises and in many respects is outdoing the old KGB in the sophistication and success of its work, and one can only imagine that interest in Russian activity may be even further pushed back on the list of priorities among many in Washington. But we do both at our peril. While many may believe that the military coup failed when the KGB led by Vladimir Alexandrovich Kryuchkov attempted it against Gorbachev in 1991, what they may not see is that what failed was a coup against a coup (as Khrushchev learned, Soviet coups didn’t always involve tanks). As Alexei Yegorov then-head of counterintelligence said after taking part in the failed military coup in ’91 as he was being led away: “Everything is clear now. I am such an old idiot. I’ve really f****ed up.” As Christopher Andrew Points out in “The Sword and the Shield”, “Instead of repudiating its Soviet past, however, the SVR saw itself as the heir of the old FCD (First Chief Directorate – foreign intelligence)”. Russian secret services today are nothing more than the proud heirs of their KGB legacy, but they no longer work as mere caretakers of the asylum.

 

As such, it could be reasoned that the most productive of KGB tactics still prevail today in Putin’s Russia and with its influence abroad, but perhaps with greater freedom and efficiency than in former times. The Russian mob today is likely little more than the “dirtyworks” operating arm of the SVR, where everything from assassinations and kidnappings to nuclear technology sales can be conducted in such a way that responsibility is sidestepped and focus is not seriously drawn or couched in foreign governments as a national security threat emanating out of Moscow. But this tactic too is nothing new: As one senior Italian diplomat (and honeytrap victim) discovered during the Cold War, Soviet agents were quite adept at this. After he was lured into an illicit affair with a female KGB swallow, it was then discovered that embarrassingly compromising photographs were surreptitiously taken. The diplomat was told that these photographs of him (being seduced by a Soviet agent) had actually been taken by a criminal gang(1) and that Soviet officials acting allegedly as the white-hatted intermediary would be happy to step in and prevent their publication by these criminal elements, provided the Italian diplomat cooperate by working for the KGB. Blackmail of corporate interests of course also went on both as a key source of S&T and as a way to get those corporations to ply political pressure on their Western governments in support of Soviet aims. As Bill Gertz mentions in his new book “Enemies: How America's Foes Steal Our Vital Secrets--and How We Let It Happen”, along with a human spying campaign that equals if not exceeds that undertaken by the Soviets, Russian SIGINT agents today together with other operations additionally continue to aggressively hack into US government computer networks. What's more, Russia still refuses to outlaw spamming by Russian "criminal" elements (a technique infamous for taking advantage of using malicious code embedded into e-mail which can then be used to break into a computer or computer network and steal or alter information). Many of the most aggressive hacking attempts have been noted as coming out of Russia and Eastern Europe (as well as China). With the pilfering of government and private personnel and client records (as I covered extensively here) also comes another asset: blackmail – an invaluable asset for an intelligence organization whose historical use of the tactic is pro forma. The plundering of our national secrets today surely has Ronald Reagan spinning in his grave but he may be the lucky one.

 

While we would enjoy the idea of better opportunities for relations between Westerners and the average Russian, the Putin government is proving to be nothing more than the old barn with a new paint job; a dictatorship of the intelligence officer.

 

 

RELATED: The entire Matt Drudge radio interview with Bill Gertz recorded three days ago can be found at a blog called "Drudge Report Archives". (DRA appears to be unafilliated with Matt Drudge's show or website The Drudge Report.)

 

 

Posted by Martin at 04:29 AM | Comments (5)

September 04, 2006

Blogbat's Shot of the Week: Labor Pains

Sending mixed messages?

 

 

I gleefully snapped this whilst inside a local Micro Center computer store yesterday. The sign seemed to say, "come for service, upgrades, and repairs... but get one of these instead". An unfortunate mixed message to be sure!

 

Yes, Labor Day - the day on which most everyone else doesn’t work either, and therefore a perfect time to post this pic, n'est ce pas? Given the abundant state of poor technology customer service these days, maybe the sign was a Freudian slip. But Micro Center has one big thing going for it: It's not Comp USA (which was rated among the worst in customer service more than once; also see here, here, here, here, here, and here) or Fry's Electronics (see previous Shot of the Day: Buyer Be Wearied).

 

Happy Belabored Day, kids!

 

 

Posted by Martin at 01:28 AM | Comments (2)

August 24, 2006

Big Terrorism and Immigration Roundup

Smaller tragedies and bigger tragedies

 

 

So much today, so here’s a quick roundup on all matters dealing with illegal immigration, Iran and other terrorist plotters. I think I tie them all together rather nicely, if I do say so. But then again, the fact they do tie together so well did make it rather easy:

 

Iraq then Iran

 

A US General now says there is “clear evidence” of Iranian involvement in terrorist activities in Iraq. As if the shelling of Kurdish outposts in northern Iraq by Iran weren’t sufficient provocation to turn Tehran into the 8th wonder of the world: a lake made entirely of glass.

 

Iran is simply holding up its part of the bargain with Syria on supplying munitions and men against Iraq and Israel. Where did Iran and Syria learn how to better use terrorists as proxy agents in indirect warfare? Well, from the Soviet Union, of course. As for communists and their love of such tactics past and perhaps present, that’s for another time…

 

 

Fairly Unbalanced

 

Courtesy the Daily SmailOur friends at the British rag the Daily Mail have done it again with their slanted coverage of the two creepsters (the ones who look like death-warmed over in the cutsie photo shot the DM arranged) who were kicked off a plane by a unanimous 150 passengers last week. You can read my original post on this here. The Daily Mail, which seems to have a habit of not posting comments by opposing viewpoints, had this to say (inflammatory language noted in boldface, my musings in brackets):

 

Two Asian [used to confuse the reader – the DM means Pakistani – just like the ones arrested in the real terror plot last week] students have revealed their shock and despair after being thrown off a plane because other passengers feared they were suicide bombers.

 

Manchester Umist students Sohail Ashraf and Khurram Zeb, both 22, said they sympathised with nervous travellers, but urged people not to be paranoid about Muslims.

 

"We might be Asian, but we're two ordinary lads who wanted a bit of fun," Mr Ashraf told the Daily Mirror. [Aw, how touching]

 

"Just because we're Muslim does not mean we are suicide bombers." [But when you behave strangely and dress in heavy coats in the middle of one of the hottest summers on record, you get to have some extra attention. Might I also add that the passengers couldn’t know you were Muslim, they just knew you looked suspicious.]

 

The pair were marched off the jet at gunpoint after fellow passengers alerted officials on the flight back from Malaga, Spain. [The DM makes this sound as if they were all but executed by firing squad. I wonder how the DM reports on the treatment of Israeli civilians bombarded by Iranian-donated terrorist missiles. I suppose we’ll need to wait on that one…]

 

 

Border: Catch and Release at an End? Read the Fine Print

 

Associated Press announced with the deceptive headline today that the catch and release program of ICE had been eliminated. Asterisk. Actually, catch and release continues for the vast majority of illegals – Mexican nationals (many of whom are here for criminal reasons or simply to mooch off the system... or be exploited by our ignoble slave-factories). In all fairness to the AP though the deception is really all Chertoff’s et al. The ones to be caught – the now-famous OTMs will be caught and detained… when they’re caught. Unfortunately, if we were to employ any serious effort to catch all of the OTMs intending terrorist behavior, we might wind up straining out all the illegals, and that would be very bad for big business as it apparently strives to make its last big profit before the terrorists shut down the party. The latest figures of course show that over 150,000 OTM’s were caught in the past several months… remember that 2x1 ratio I mentioned here? For every illegal we capture, 2 get in no moleste – and that’s the low estimate. Imagine 350,000 OTMs a year getting into this country (probably bringing weapons caches and everything they could ever possibly want to conduct sabotage, recon, and bloody terrorist acts right here on our soil). And apparently some were sporting al Qaeda-style military arm patches: Fox News and others reported tonight that some arm patches with logos including depictions of 9/11 (seen above) and Arabic scrawl were found in the no-man’s land along the border.

 

But this kind of operation should be nothing new, so why should we respond any differently than the last time militants were crossing our borders:

 

Sandinista guerillas formed the basis for a KGB sabotage and intelligence group established in 1966 on the Mexican US border with support bases in the area of Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana and Ensenada… Among the chief sabotage targets across the US border were military bases, missile sites, radar installations, and the oil pipeline (codenamed START) which ran from El Paso in Texas to Costa Mesa, California. Three sites on the American coast were selected for DRG [Soviet sabotage and assassination units] landings together with large-capacity dead-drops in which to store mines, explosives, detonators and other sabotage materials. A support group codenamed SATURN was given the task of using the movements of migrant workers (braceros) to conceal the transfer of agents and munitions across the border. SATURN’s headquarters was a hotel belonging to a Russian-born agent, codenamed VLADELET (“Proprietor”), in Ensenada fifty miles from the US border in… Baja California. VLADELET’s two sons, both born in Mexico but assessed by the KGB as “Russian patriots,” owned a gas station which was selected as a hiding place for DRGs and their equipment as well as a base from which to conduct sabotage in the United States.

 

(Andrew, Christopher, and Mitrokhin, Vasili. The Sword and the Shield p. 363)

 

 

Now if we can find a whole soccer stadium of Mexican nationals to chant “Osama, Osama, Osama!” during a game against the US team (not to mention the undesirables who protested waving Mexican flags a few months ago right here in the US), I think the terrorists should have no trouble at all finding willing accomplices just as well as the Russians did. Wisdom demands we take notice and take action.

 

 

Borderline National Tragedy

 

Photo Courtesy The TennesseanMeanwhile OTOTMs (other than other than Mexicans) continue on their rampage wreaking havoc on American families. The latest victim: Mary Sadler of Bellevue, Tennessee. Mary was beaten to death by an illegal alien who decided to drop in and demand money. Why not? He came to this country illegally and demanded free healthcare, a free ride free and clear from immigration authorities so Wal-Mart can meet its quota, so why shouldn’t he think he could just walk into a person’s house uninvited and make demands; he already did that once. By the looks of the smashed up interior of the home, it looks as if Mary put up quite a fight. I wonder if some in Washington might call her a vigilante.

 

 

Hopeful Signs on the Business Front

 

Some businesses have begun suing competitors who are undercutting them by hiring illegals. Aside from a good move all around, winning such suits (and some have already been so resolved) will then provide something to go on for any federal investigators who might for once be interested in leveling sanctions on unethical businesses. But as good as this news is, don't forget to vote this November!

 

 

Posted by Martin at 02:33 AM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2006

Mutiny and the Bounty: Traveling Public & Common Sense

Authorities afraid to do what's neccesary and morally right because it's not their risk.

 

 

Photo Courtesy CyberSoft - JetPhotos.NetYesterday, as some have no doubt read, passengers walked off a Monarch Airlines Airbus A320 bound for Manchester before takeoff because of concerns about two suspicious passengers among them. The two were described as unkempt and dodgy, wearing heavy leather jackets (not normal summertime fashion) and speaking in what appeared to passengers to be Arabic.

 

Naturally, to many of us the reaction of those passengers seems to be a rational one, given the current wartime climate and the patchy security in most airports. What is surprising however (even for the British press) is the manner in which the incident was reported. The headline in the Daily Mail called it a “mutiny”, implied that the captain had acted irresponsibly by refusing to fly, and that his passengers to the man, woman, and child, were like sheep merely caught up in a flock mentality and unable to deduce the cost-benefit of any risk involving flying with suspicious characters in an airline security reality which much more closely resembles Swiss cheese than anything remotely bulletproof. The paper makes no mention of the fact passengers may have also been thinking about the flight a few days ago diverted to Boston because of an unruly passenger who managed to smuggle potentially harmful items onboard. Nor did it seem too prepared to speak much of what you and I see so often when we go through airport security: lazy-eyed minimum wage employees whisking you and the fellow with the tattoos through while they have someone’s 95 year old Roman Catholic grandmother go through an exhaustive physical behind the curtain just a few feet away. A Tory security spokesman becomes the paper’s protagonist when the politico completely ignores all of this and essentially calls everyone who refused to fly with the two onboard racist:

 

"For those unfortunate two men to be victimised because of the colour of their skin is just nonsense."

 

It is indeed nonsense, but it's not because of the color of their skin, obviously. The nonsense rather is better attributed to those who made demands of ordinary people to which they themselves are not willing to acquiesce. As for why these passengers – many of whom must come from respected backgrounds – refused to fly with the pair: More accurately, it is because of the content of the character of each of the two as could best be determined by their personal habits, demeanor, and unseasonable attire. Or are we to suppose that 150 passengers plus crew all rose up in a racist cabal against two poor, waif-like defenseless-appearing men? If these two men wish not to be confused with terrorists, they should perhaps dress and learn to behave in a less menacing manner. While it is true that a terrorist could very easily clad himself in something closer to the social norm (as did many of the 9/11 hijackers), at the end of the day the lives of these other passengers are the ones on the line and they have but only their gut to go on, which again is why security officials need to use a more aggressive screening model for high-risk passengers that includes some forms of profiling. Until this happens, for many understandably, it is simply not worth risking one's life for a flight and a vague "higher ideal" set forth by elites who fly in private planes – the ideal that the masses should somehow, just as the terrorists, accept the call of martyrdom as a victory.

 

Yet passenger security is not left partially to chance in every corner of the globe. Israel, which has not had an airline hijacked in about 30 years employs liberal amounts of profiling techniques in conjunction with the most cutting edge technology, a sharp eye, and bomb-sniffing dogs. The combination has proven to be a cocktail that not only creates fewer headaches for the state of Israel, but assures all passengers – even the ones selected for extensive searches – that barring an aviation accident they will be arriving at their destination once their plane departs. Some might accuse Israel of being insensitive, but in reality, Israel has struck the perfect balance between invasion and respect for privacy and efficiency. Understanding that a complete passenger search would take approximately 45 minutes per passenger screened, Israeli airport security understands it must be highly selective (and right) about each person it selects for additional screening. While this may put some people out, it’s said that living people have far more rights and freedoms than do dead people. Further, it’s what the vast majority who must fly public transit (including even those set aside for extra scrutiny) want.

 

The notion that in Europe and the US ordinary citizens should be ready to offer their all – even their very lives – to score that symbolic “victory” when the government refuses to give its all in protecting them is nothing short of utter and very real nonsense. It hardly begs one to wonder whether the "masses" should accept the lax security created by a policy wonk-friendly PC environment that then makes them nothing less than the new front line in a children's crusade against not radical Islam but “hurt feelings”. Thus one need not wonder at all, as in the case of these passengers who walked off, why the “masses” should stand up, walk out, and say “we’ve had enough”. Most, the elites will no doubt be shocked to find, happen to favor the much more reasonable, safe, and democratic solution. Those who voted with their feet yesterday showed not only the terrorists, but the effete politicians and detached academics who really has the power and that is precisely what makes us (the West) different than them (the Islamofascists).

 

 

Posted by Martin at 01:09 AM | Comments (1)

August 17, 2006

Star Wars: A New Saga

Red Planet follow up

 

 

It's certainly getting more press, as this blog pointed out two weeks ago, that China (and others) are looking or will be looking to space as the new strategic domain of military conquest and strategic advantage against the United States and her allies. Specifically, China and others intend to maintain various types of vehicles that can be launched into space to target US communications and other important satellites (along with other possible targets) affecting the security of the US and her interests.

 

Yesterday Reuters quoted Gen. Kevin Chilton, who heads the Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado as having stated quite bluntly: "If it's a space launch, we can't afford to relax."

 

General Chilton was speaking during an annual conference on the matter of missile defense.

 

General Chilton went on to say,

 

 

Foes would be foolish not to be thinking of how to deny the United States the advantages of space, on which it relies heavily for military and commercial purposes, said Chilton, who took over the space command a month and a half ago.

 

"And in the future, I'm convinced they'll strike at these capabilities, if nothing else to attempt to level the playing field," he said.

 

[…]Chilton said his goal was to learn all this in the object's first orbit of the Earth so the United States could take unspecified actions "before an adversary can cripple us."

 

 

As I mentioned on August 02,

 

 

[…]China and allies North Korea and Iran have made no secret of their desire to target US satellites as a preemptive move in any serious conflict with the US. Tactics mentioned include using killer satellites and detonating a nuclear-tipped missile in lower orbit, using the EMP (electromagnetic pulse) to fry the circuitry of satellites – especially those most of which are not hardened.

 

Certainly, an attack on communications and infrastructure is a key aspect in the book on cutting the war with your enemy short; we know that and certainly they know that.

 

Another aspect of the use of space is perhaps that of keeping nuclear warheads on satellites which can be launched and detonated high above the target – even an entire continent – creating an EMP that would completely kill most if not all non-hardened technology civilian and military that was invented since the end of the 19th century.

 

The fact that China wishes to militarize space is no surprise; nor is it that anyone else sees it, be they Russia, Iran, China’s “Mini-Me” North Korea, other bad guys or any of the good guys.

 

The question now is whether we can protect the technology that protects our technology. Seeing is one thing, but preventing is entirely another. While it is important that we both more closely monitor launches by potentially hostile powers and harden our assets in space, we also need to harden the walls that prevent access by foreign agents interested in stealing information that could render those defenses (be they technological or relating to our tactics) moot.

 

It is no doubt no secret that anything of intelligence value to our adversaries will be targeted by agents physically attempting to gain access (in the spirit of Aldrich Ames, Vilyam “Willie” Genrikhovich Fisher, et al) and by those exploiting technological (specifically IT) security vulnerabilities – something the NSA noted in the Reuters article is still an ongoing aggressive and at times effective threat.

 

We also must become prepared to deal with any attempt at setting off an EMP from low orbit whether its primary target be our space assets or, perhaps more ominously, something back on earth.

 

 

Posted by Martin at 08:25 PM | Comments (1)

August 02, 2006

Planet Obvious: China War Machine Looks to Space

Red Planet War Preps

 

 

Photo courtesy AFPIn a stroke of common sense genius, a team of unidentified pointy heads at China’s National Defense University (and likewise elsewhere) have published a report admitting that China’s next strategic area of military involvement will be outer space. Bravo. Of course, this might be China admitting it’s lagging behind collecting on its wish list. After all, even the Soviets talked less and just did. And given China’s claim it wishes this to start international talks on space militarization, maybe it also knows it’s behind the US in (yet) some (other) aspect out there.

 

Nevertheless, it’s been obvious (despite some articles by the AFP) that China desires very badly to militarize space and even gain supremacy in this area, so China’s expressed desire for courtship is no shock to the literate. And as if no one could see this when so much of what is known of American military methods is now based on satellite technology, from JDAM technology to reconnaissance, communications, navigation, and eventually even anti-missile satellites. Indeed, China (and others) may well see American space-based strategic technologies as the Achilles’ heel of US capabilities.

 

To some extent they may be right. It’s indeed no secret that the current US model relies heavily on high technology utilization and perhaps less so on preparations for multi-front, multi-theatre actions, even in light of activities that have been and look to be expanding and not diminishing across the globe.

 

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous pre-9/11 doctrine of maintaining forces sufficient only for a single-front war and more recent statements by other officials (elected and not) after 2001 who seem to think technology is one of the only factors (if not the primary factor) in war-winning seem to be examples of some domestic disconnect. But, if what they are saying be the case, then why have we still not taken overwhelming action against foreign spying. Even after the release of the stunningly damaging book (The Sword and the Shield by Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin) on the Cold War KGB (revealing the exposure of thousands of Soviet operatives and operations), KGB’s successor the SVR, China’s spies and operatives, and those from many other countries and organizations (including Hezbollah) have increased their numbers and activities within the US and against her interests around the world, not decreased them, since 1999. Almost, if not, just as bad are the steadily easing trade restrictions on the export of technology to regimes such as China or to countries which have weaker export restrictions than we do. 

 

Further, China and allies North Korea and Iran have made no secret of their desire to target US satellites as a preemptive move in any serious conflict with the US. Tactics mentioned include using killer satellites and detonating a nuclear-tipped missile in lower orbit, using the EMP (electromagnetic pulse) to fry the circuitry of satellites – especially those most of which are not hardened.

 

Certainly, an attack on communications and infrastructure is a key aspect in the book on cutting the war with your enemy short; we know that and certainly they know that.

 

Another aspect of the use of space is perhaps that of keeping nuclear warheads on satellites which can be launched and detonated high above the target – even an entire continent – creating an EMP that would completely kill most if not all non-hardened technology civilian and military that was invented since the end of the 19th century.

 

The fact that China wishes to militarize space is no surprise; nor is it that anyone else sees it, be they Russia, Iran, China’s “Mini-Me” North Korea, other bad guys or any of the good guys.

 

 

Posted by Martin at 10:11 PM | Comments (2)

June 19, 2006

IT Security Barney Fief Award

Laptops in Jamaica

 

 

More Laptops stolen, this time from Washington DC municipal employees. So is this part of an attempt to compromise key public and strategic data? And could it have national security implications?

 

First, one thing is certain: it is reaching epidemic proportions and seems to be the new method of madness among those interested in sucking up private and perhaps seriously damaging information.

 

According to the June 13 issue of the Iowa State Daily from the University of Iowa, Ames, Iowa, “More than 10 million Americans have been victims of identity theft and on average spend $1,500 and 175 hours of their time to recover from the effects, according to Fightidentitytheft.com.”

 

And it gets thicker: From a March 3 report by Datamonitor,

 

Up to one in ten laptops will be stolen during their lifetime according to one of the law enforcement officers behind the www.juststolen.net website, and international accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young was on the wrong end of this statistic recently. With laptops now accounting for around 40% of all computer sales, theft of these expensive devices is now escalating at an alarming rate.

 

One of the high-profile thefts (at least two were reported in the same week) took place as Ernst & Young auditors left their laptops in a conference room when they went for lunch. Even though the door to the room had a locking mechanism, the thieves were still able to gain access and steal four Dell laptop computers valued at $8,000.

While some might find these circumstances quite astonishing, figures suggest that 40% of laptop thefts happen while at work, and so it is advisable to tether your computer to the desk at all times if possible.

 

 

What type of information is at risk, and how bad is it? A simple LexisNexis search using the terms “laptop stolen” for a period covering the past six months yields 125 news hits. Here are some clippings:

 

 

June 18 Washington Post: A laptop containing personal data -- including Social Security numbers -- of 13,000 District workers and retirees was stolen Monday from the Southeast Washington home of an employee of ING U.S. Financial Services, the company said yesterday.

ING, which administers the District's retirement plan, known as DCPlus, notified the city about the theft late Friday.

The company is mailing a letter to all affected account holders to alert them to the risk of someone using the information to commit identity theft, spokeswoman Caroline Campbell said. The company is also telling customers that it will set up and pay for a year of credit monitoring and identity fraud protection.

The laptop was not protected by a password or encryption, Campbell said. Encryption safeguards information by scrambling it into indecipherable codes.

"We are concerned that this information was being managed without protection," said Mary Ann Young, spokeswoman for the city's chief financial officer. City officials also said they were disturbed that ING waited five days to inform them of the theft. Young said the District expects to get a thorough briefing from ING about the incident this week.

Campbell said ING did not alert the District sooner because it took several days for the company to figure out what the laptop contained.

 

June 14 The Pioneer Press, St. Paul: “Three laptop computers containing private information about 2,400 public employees and citizens who use government programs were reported stolen last week from the offices of Minnesota Auditor Patricia Anderson.”

 

June 14 Global News Wire – Europe Intelligence Wire: The Army has admitted that a laptop computer being used by officers involved in a highly sensitive intelligence gathering exercise in Eastern Europe was stolen last August, writes Tom Brady.

 

June 11 Washington Post ED: As the public discovered that Social Security numbers and other personal information from 26.5 million retired and active U.S. military personnel were on a laptop stolen from the home of a Department of Veterans Affairs analyst last month, workers who were hoping to pitch their boss on a telecommuting option probably felt their hopes crash.

That breach was followed by the news that personal information was lost on a stolen laptop of a Giant employee. And more with the loss of a laptop by an Internal Revenue Service worker. And from an Ernst & Young worker. And on and on.

 

June 5 Newsday, Melville, NY: The parent company of subsidiaries including Stop & Shop has sent out letters to notify some of its former employees that their personal information may have been on a laptop that was stolen last month.

A statement released by Stop & Shop supermarkets contained few details about the theft but did say that the laptop computer was in the hands of an employee of an outside vendor that provides data processing services for the pension plan of the parent company, Ahold USA. The statement did not say how many employees were affected.

An Ahold letter received by one former employee Thursday offered a slightly different narrative, saying that the vendor lost the laptop computer from baggage checked on a May 2 domestic commercial flight.

The letter said that data in a file on the laptop are used to determine eligibility in the company-sponsored pension plan, and the file contained the former employees' names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, benefit amounts and other "related information. No financial account or medical benefits information was in the file."

 

June 4 NBC’s Sunday Today with Lester Holt and Campbell Brown: LESTER HOLT: The popular Web site, hotels.com is warning customers this morning they may be at risk for identity theft. They say an auditor's laptop computer has been stolen. It contained the personal information, including credit card numbers, of some 230,000 customers. Robert Siciliano is the chief executive of idtheftsecurity.com, a firm that advises corporations on privacy issues.

 

May 29 Modern Healthcare: Concerns are growing that sensitive medical information was leaked in the theft of electronic data within the Veterans Affairs Department.

VA Secretary R. James Nicholson last week disclosed that a laptop computer stolen from an employee's home in May contained information for 26 million veterans, including birth dates, Social Security numbers and, in some cases, disability codes. It did not contain medical records, Nicholson said. The VA and FBI are investigating, but officials said they didn't believe the laptop was stolen because of the information.

During a hearing of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee to investigate the matter, however, a heated debate broke out between acting ranking member Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) and Nicholson over information contained within the disability ratings for nearly 3 million veterans that was part of the stolen data. Codes that reference conditions amounting to a disability, such as schizophrenia, hepatitis C or HIV-related illnesses, were included in some of these records, said Len Sistek, minority staff director for the panel's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

The VA's claims that the affected data did not include anyone's electronic health records, is a ``bureaucratic'' response, Filner said, adding that Nicholson ``should resign'' over the theft.

Compounding this issue is a Supreme Court decision that determined that the media have a First Amendment right to publish medical records that are stolen-no matter how the records were obtained, [Deborah Peel, chairwoman of the Patient Privacy Rights Foundation] said. ``How many people are going to feel safe entering the military if they can't even trust that their medical records won't be disclosed and they'll be harmed further?'' she asked.

 

March 23 AP, Boston: A laptop belonging to Fidelity Investments that held the names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers and other information of 196,000 retirement account customers was stolen last week, the company says.

 

May 16 South Wales Evening Post: A Director of Swansea's Dylan Thomas Centre had his laptop stolen - while the building was hosting a police convention.

 

May 14 AP, Baltimore: A laptop computer containing Social Security and account numbers for nearly 50,000 bank customers has been stolen, but so far there have been no reports of identity theft or other suspicious activity.

Baltimore-based Mercantile Bankshares Corp. said Friday that the laptop was stolen a week earlier from a worker's car off company property. It contained personal information for customers of its Bethesda-based Mercantile Potomac Bank.

 

May 1 Business Wire, Vancouver, BC: Last week, on Wednesday, April 26th, Reuters reported that a laptop had been stolen from an Aetna employee's car. The computer contained personal information on approximately 38,000 members including names, addresses and Social Security numbers. The personal data is from members that are employees of two companies that are Aetna customers.

 

April 21 Seattle Times: “Boeing is notifying 3,600 current and former employees that their names, Social Security numbers and in some cases, addresses and phone numbers, may have been compromised after a laptop was stolen several days ago.”

 

April 12 Canadian Press NewsWire: REGINA (CP) - The Saskatchewan government is reassuring long-term care residents that their privacy is safe after a laptop containing 1,500 patient records was stolen from a contractor in Toronto.

The records were only being used to test a new computer system for the Saskatchewan Health Information Network and all the personal information had be stripped away before the laptop was taken, Health Minister Len Taylor said Wednesday.

"We have concluded that there are no privacy matters to concern us," Taylor told reporters.

 

March 24 The Times (London): FIDELITY INVESTMENTS has warned nearly 200,000 present and former staff of Hewlett-Packard in America to be vigilant in monitoring their accounts for the next two years after their personal details were stolen from Fidelity, the company's pension fund manager, last week.

The names, pay, pension details, addresses, birth dates, social security numbers and other sensitive information relating to 196,000 staff and ex-employees of the computer hardware company were held on a laptop stolen from a member of Fidelity's staff.

 

March 3 Rocky Mountain News, Denver: More than 93,000 current and former Metropolitan State College of Denver students could have been exposed to identity theft after a laptop containing their names and Social Security numbers was stolen, school officials said.

An admissions employee was using the data to conduct a study on the use of online courses for a grant and for a master's thesis, raising questions Thursday about whether the college has stringent enough policies on protecting student information.

 

February 7 The Press Association Ltd., UK: Two laptops have been stolen from offices used by former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens. The theft sparked fears they may contain material from Operation Paget, the investigation he is heading into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

 

January 30 News Group Newspapers Ltd., UK: The judge in the Abu Hamza trial has had a laptop computer stolen from his flat by burglars. A youth was seen climbing into the apartment of trial judge Sir Anthony Hughes, 57, while another kept watch. They shinned down a drainpipe and escaped on pedal bikes shortly after 9.30pm on Friday.

Cops probing the break-in told locals a laptop containing "sensitive information" had been swiped from the pad in Bloomsbury, London. A Met Police spokeswoman said: "Officers attended the scene but the suspects had left. "They are described as two Asian males, both aged about 18 and both riding pedal bikes." Justice Hughes was unavailable for comment.


Hamza, from Shepherds Bush, West London, faces nine charges relating to soliciting followers to murder Jews and non-Muslims and stirring up racial hatred.

 

January 26 eWeek: Advisory firm Ameriprise Financial announced on January 25 that financial data of some 158,000 clients and 68,000 advisers was compromised when a company laptop was stolen from an employee's car.

A file stored on the laptop contained the clients' names and internal Ameriprise Financial account identification numbers, but not their Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers or dates of birth. But it did contain the Social Security numbers of the advisers.

 

January 24 The Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Two laptop computers were stolen from an off-campus UW Medical Center office late last month with the names and personal data of about 1,600 patients of the UW Travel Medicine Service, a university official confirms.

The laptops were stolen from the UW office in the Northgate Executive Center, either late Dec. 29 or early Dec. 30, UW Medicine spokeswoman Clare Hagerty said.

 

 

As Steven Levy wrote in the June 12 US Edition of Newsweek,

 

The nation was shocked last month to learn that a data analyst from the Department of Veterans Affairs had downloaded a database containing more than 26 million personal records, taken it home with him and then had his laptop stolen--exposing all the information necessary to swipe the identity of virtually every person released from military service since 1975. But to anyone paying attention, it was no surprise at all. A congressional committee that issues an annual report card on how each federal department protects information has assigned the VA an F for three of the last four years. The VA's own inspector general has repeatedly criticized the agency for failing to address "significant information security vulnerabilities." And the House committee overseeing the VA has been struggling for years to reform what it considers an information-technology "meltdown." Considering all this, it seemed almost inevitable that the VA would join the ranks of an expanding roster of companies and institutions that do a lousy job of protecting the files they keep on us.

The good news, sort of, is that considering the circumstances of the theft--there had been a number of similar petty burglaries in the analyst's neighborhood, none of which seemed to be the handiwork of black-hat hacker types--the purloined information may never reach the thriving Internet black market. (If it does, watch out, because the records contained the identity-theft trifecta--name, birth date, Social Security number--sufficient to get credit cards, buy cars and houses, and generally mess up someone's finances for years.) Nonetheless, this may wind up to be one of the costliest heists in history. The $25 million that Congress has budgeted to address the problem is only a start--some estimates of the ultimate cost of informing veterans and helping them monitor credit records approach $100 million. And that's only if no one's identity is actually stolen.

The frustrating thing is that the VA data theft, like just about every other huge information breach in the past few years, was utterly preventable. […]

 

And, given the value of that information, there is little doubt, a lucrative market for it already exists. But like our borders, ports, and so many other vital areas of national security, very few act as if threats really exist.

 

Stolen laptops containing sensitive information – that is unencrypted and not always properly password protected – is nothing new and should come as no shock to any of us. One need only remember the highly publicized laptops which disappeared from the Los Alamos laboratories during the Clinton era to be asking why steps have apparently not yet been taken across the industry to guard our most sensitive information and protect our people.

 

So how does this affect you if you don’t lose your laptop? Well, you already know that answer: laptops stolen from government, healthcare, education, and business groups contain your personal data; data that can be used to steal your identity, ruin your credit, or a worse and very real threat for members of government, military, and major business figures: blackmail you. In other words, it quickly becomes a national security threat.

 

And add to the information gleaned from stolen laptops to the already infamous intrusions of the above via internet hackers, lost or stolen backup drives, and the need among illegal aliens to steal your Social Security number to pass themselves off as legitimate to employers (who often look the other way), and you wind up with what is becoming without any way to sugar coat it, an identity theft crisis. What’s worse, many in Washington don’t seem to think too much about it.

 

 

Posted by Martin at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2006

Special Needs Dept.: What Else Do You Need

China supplying Iran’s nuke program

 

 

Kids, I know this will be a big shock to all of you, but guess who is behind Iran’s nuke enrichment program? I know, I can hardly believe it myself. I wonder what the President will say. Wait, I bet he’ll say we need to invest in China’s economy. After all, China and Iran both are doing work American politicians won’t do: preparing for war.

 

H/T Drudge

 

RELATED RATTLESNAKE UPDATES:

 

Sino-Pakistani Militaries Enjoying Good Relations:

"The JF-17 Thunder, equipped with advanced electronics and weapon systems, was a joint venture between Pakistan and China, the statement said."

 

Atlas Shrugs on the Dark Cloud Looming

 

Right Truth Weighs In on Iran

 

Regime Change Iran

 

  

Posted by Martin at 09:44 PM | Comments (2)

May 13, 2006

From 'Blackstar' to New Constellations

 

 

According to Aviation Week in March the pentagon’s much anticipated Two-Stage-to-Orbit Blackstar has been shelved for budgetary reasons.

 

But could it be the prototypes were merely concept vehicles using what now by military standards would be obsolete technology? If such were the case, it may actually mean that something else is rather imminent. With American military technology literally decades ahead of its civilian counterpart, this is not only possible, but even likely.

 

Aviation Week has been following the saga of the Blackstar for 16 years now, and, as far as anyone on the outside knows, it has never seen anything beyond testing and simulation, though some theorize it may have become operational in the ‘90s.

 

But why mothball a project that could allow for surprise sub-orbital or low-orbital flights over countries like Iran, China, and Russia. According to the director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, these and other countries have gotten good at playing satellite cat-and-mouse, this in part due to the highly predictable nature of spy satellite orbits. Aviation Week:

 

The manned orbiter's primary military advantage would be surprise overflight. There would be no forewarning of its presence, prior to the first orbit, allowing ground targets to be imaged before they could be hidden. In contrast, satellite orbits are predictable enough that activities having intelligence value can be scheduled to avoid overflights.

 

Well, assuming someone else didn’t see the vehicle-carrying plane take off or the vehicle launch from that plane.

 

So if the Blackstar is to be shelved (assuming it has been), what might that next-generation technology look like and what advantages would it offer? Well, certainly AI comes to mind. AI technology the military is comfortable talking about has proven to be more than impressive both in aerial reconnaissance, on the ground, and even in combat roles. Taking into account Moore’s law that says technology doubles every two years, and factoring that exponentially for the military’s knack for unimaginable black R&D development which in theory then would grow the gap between civilian and military technology every year, and the fact we are on a war footing, it’s easy to imagine we wouldn’t mothball a tool that is needed without finding something else to do the job even better.

 

When you have some developers openly discussing the need for us to respect silicon-based intelligence in the same fashion we do carbon-based intelligence, it also lends one to consider just what may have brought such developers to wax philosophical about a few circuit boards with wings and camera lenses, and more to the point, what might be just around the corner.

 

Indeed, every aspect of reconnaissance and autonomous vehicle technology we know about has undergone a virtual revolution in the past decade; everything from digital imaging and other sensory, automation, and efficiency, to the ability to actively evade defenses and engage them without the need for human intervention.

 

That said, obviously any speculation a Blackstar successor would be fully automated is just that. Additionally, some of Blackstar’s possible missions and the cost-need for duel-use technology may well require such a replacement to Blackstar also to be manned, or, as the case is with some of the automated Stryker vehicles the Army is testing, able to function with or without men onboard.

 

On the other hand, another advantage we’ve seen over the past ten years is the advantage implicit in being small; lower all-around costs and better stealthing: The vehicles are less expensive to develop and are much smaller and more difficult to track than a large bird like Blackstar. If such a vehicle were completely automated, the advantages both in terms of detectability and predictability would be obvious. And we already know this because of the resounding successes of currently tested autonomous aviation technology, such as the X-45A, and technology currently fully in use. With smaller aircraft also comes the ability to land on shorter landing strips, providing better flexibility and possibly better secrecy.

 

Another advantage: fuel costs and efficiency, along with possibly much longer missions.

 

And a smart strategic paradigm shift might explain why a spy plane would no longer be the vehicle of choice for flying cargo into space.

 

And of course protecting human assets can’t be ignored either. In fact, Israel is currently undergoing a bit of a revolution that may wind up completely automating much of its air force. Right now, the Israelis use of drones now accounts for 65% of its flights: 18,000 of its 28,000 known missions. Granted, the missions these drones are currently fulfilling over the West Bank differ in some respects, it seems the concept would logically carry over to larger-scale tasks.

 

Whatever happens to the Blackstar (and whatever is next in the air or on the drawing board) of course we’ll have to wait a couple of decades to truly know (barring some major conflict or other events), but rest assured that even with intelligence supplied by Chinese, Russian, and other sources, Iran need only know one thing: that we know.

 

 

Posted by Martin at 07:42 PM | Comments (1)

May 02, 2006

Shop-America Day a Success!

 

 

Here are a few of the items I grabbed while shopping to support America yesterday:

 

I purchased two GlobalSat BT-338 WAAS Enabled multiplatform Bluetooth GPS devices. Aside from being among the best for reception and battery life, these also work with both my Toshiba Portégé M-200 Convertible Tablet-Laptop and XV6700 Pocket PC Phone. Among other items nabbed was also a badly-needed sport-case for the phone, a visit to the car wash (lots of Americans doing jobs Americans will do there yesterday), and of course I filled up the tank.

 

Say, I wonder how many unlawfully present foreigners boycotted their drug dealers yesterday?

 

On another note, but on the theme of toys and gadgets, I’m considering adding a podcasting or similar feature to this blog with updates from time to time. If I do it, I’m going to enlist a lifelong friend of mine to join via telephone as co-host. This will keep it flowing and the subject matter actually interesting, as opposed to just listening to me. I’ll update you as information warrants.

 

 

 

Posted by Martin at 10:37 PM | Comments (3)

March 28, 2006

China's Trojan Nukes

Lest another critical matter of security be obfuscated by the illegals’ mess…

 

 

Another critically important national security issue to call our senators and representatives about:

 

Lest we forget, China is poised to take control of scanning inbound overseas cargo entering US ports for nuclear bombs.

 

That’s right, the same communist regime which declared that “War with the US is inevitable” and the same communist regime that threatened to nuke LA (which would no doubt cause a war with Mexico) has been given a green light to be the fox to watch the hen house.

 

Additionally, they will have access to sophisticated detection equipment - equipment they could theoretically figure out how to defeat for other scenarios.

 

The still pro-China-heavy CIA says it has no worries about this, which of course is how you know it's problematic. In fact, there are still many, many in CIA and State who are red-teamers, or those favorable to the regime.

 

Hutchison-Whampoa, a Hong Kong firm run by billionaire Ki Ka-Shing will get the contract to do what is hundreds of times more of a risk to us than the now-defunct Dubai port deal. And with China's (and Russia's) tight relationship with a budding nuclear Iran, could "oops" be the vehicle of plausible deniability that allows an Iranian nuke to enter the country? Even the CIA got this one right in a report to Congress in 2003.

 

Indeed, the beginning of this article from a Chinese publication says it all:

 

The military implementation of the George W Bush administration's unilateralist foreign policy is creating monumental changes in the world's geostrategic alliances. The most significant of these changes is the formation of a new triangle comprised of China, Iran and Russia.

 

 

Hutchison-Whampoa is a PLA robot, catering to nothing more than the strategic interests of the Chinese Communist Party. This is the same company that bribed Panamanian leaders under Clinton’s watch in the 1990’s so that they could gain control of the Panama Canal and the strategic ports and bases located there, from where China could easily conceal short-range nuclear missiles aimed anywhere in the continental US.

 

With this latest deal however, China doesn’t need those missiles anymore. They not only control the Trojan horse, they control the city gates through which it will pass.

 

From Worldnet Daily (linked at top):

 

''Li Ka-Shing is pretty close to a lot of senior leaders of the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party,'' Larry M. Wortzel, head of a U.S. government commission that studies China, told the Associated Press.

 

U.S. officials also insist the CIA has no security concerns about Hutchison's port operations, which would be supervised by Bahamian customs officers. If the equipment detects any nuclear device, it would set off alarms monitored by Bahamian inspectors [note here that Hutchison Whampoa has done huge business with the Bahamas and in fact has a large operations facility there, so is there too much trust, or, could someone be bribed?] and by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in Virginia [note this customs oversight is off-site and therefore more vulnerable to having data altered, particularly under an apathetic nose].

 

''The equipment operates itself,'' said Bryan Wilkes, a spokesman for the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration said, according to AP.

 

Then why do we need the Chinese?

 

As WorldNetDaily reported in 2003, declassified U.S. government intelligence reports uncovered by the public-interest group Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act portrayed Li's relationship with the Chinese government as close and influential.

 

A U.S. Army South "Intelligence Update" stated, "Li is directly connected to Beijing and is willing to use his business influence to further the aims of the Chinese government."

 

Regarding Hutchison Whampoa's controversial takeover of the Panama Canal, the intelligence report stated, "Li's interest in the [Panama] canal is not only strategic, but also as a means for outside financial opportunities for the Chinese government."

 

Which begs the question yet again, when sanctions and embargos worked against Cuba, South Africa and the Soviet Union why not China? Is greed overtaking good foreign policy? Of course it is.

 

An "Intelligence Assessment" from the U.S. Southern Command's Joint Intelligence Center stated Li "has extensive business ties in Beijing and has compelling financial reasons to maintain a good relationship with China's leadership."

 

In addition, Li was the founder and a board member of the China International Trust and Investment Corporation, or CITIC. In a 1997 report entitled, "Chinese Military Commerce and U.S. National Security," the RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy reported that CITIC acted as a "shell" or front operation on behalf of China's Peoples' Liberation Army.

 

The Judicial Watch complaint concluded that the billionaire is "an agent of the government of the Peoples' Republic of China."

 

 

This deal must be stopped at all costs.

 

To add insult to injury, some no-doubt leftover Clintonistas in the State Department have decided it would be a smart idea to buy 11 thousand computers from China. Computers of course made with stolen US technology, but that's beside the point. As an IT professional, I can assure you it is bad and it is not the path to good security. The Epoch Times asks if China can sustain an arms race. The answer is no, but we can sustain it for China - and are.

 

The late Chinese dictator Deng Xiaoping once said with respect to it's climb to challenge the United States and defeat her, "We must bide our time and hide our capabilities". But why hide them when so much of Washington is in denial?

 

 

Call or e-mail your US Senator here

 

Call or e-mail your US Representative here

 

Contact the White House here, or by telephone and e-mail:

 

Comments: 202-456-1111

Switchboard: 202-456-1414

FAX: 202-456-2461

comments@whitehouse.gov

 

 

UPDATE:

 

A good related article by Newsmax

 

A question or two from Voteswagen blog

 

 

 

Posted by Martin at 12:37 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2006

Dubya on Dubai

 

 

 

As many already know, members of both parties in Washington continue to call on the Bush administration to step in and block the proposed UAE port-security deal currently in the works.

 

Today some 9-11 families came forward to express their concerns about security for the port in New York being handed over in what seems counter-intuitive considering the federal government couldn’t wait to de-privatize airport security after the September 11 attacks.  

 

In many ways it seems the current administration is iron and clay feet of the Reagan, Carter and Nixon administrations, surprising us constantly with which foreign policy philosophy comes into the light on a given day. On very good days, we get Rice-wing Republican foreign policy, but you never know for how long or for what. Other days, it’s Henry Kissinger, corporate anarchy and geopolitical naïveté.

 

Michael Chertoff and others including the President seem adamant sufficient oversight can be provided despite the fact that only a small percentage of containers arriving at our ports are inspected now – less than 10%. But there’s a saying: keep it simple, stupid. Failing to do so in the very least weakens public confidence in your national security strategy and your administration (which should have Republicans worried).

 

I understand the administration with its need to build confidence and stability in Iraq and continue the successes in Afghanistan wants to build bridges instead of burning them in the muslim world. But once again, it seems the sentimentariots have won the day over people with a good notion of healthy boundaries.

 

Still people seem surprised the administration seems content to hand over our major ports – and our childlike trust to Dubai. But it’s nothing new.

 

Is it any surprise coming from an administration that trusts Mexico to help with border control?

 

I think someone will be replanting the daisies at Ronald Reagan’s grave this week.

 

Posted by Martin at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2006

Google and Privacy, Wolves and Lambs

Fresh tales of Hosea and the Harlot

 

 

Courtesy Gaaagle.comGoogle recently has been called to the carpet for its recent willingness to cooperate with any request made by the Chinese government while refusing do lift a finger for the US, repeatedly citing in the case of the latter, of all brazen things, privacy as its reason.

 

"Why would Google or anyone else turn over data that might create further risks for their customers? The public policy gains don't outweigh the risks," she said.

 

The question was asked by a liberal US-based privacy activist, and it’s a good question. Why would Google or anyone else turn over data that might create further risks for their customers, especially those at risk of life and limb and political persecution in despotic regimes like China.

 

To understand this, we first must understand a liberal’s definition of privacy and when it’s acceptable to violate it, and a conservative’s view of the same:

 

 

Liberal: “Privacy” means protection from the prying eyes of the US government, even in times of war or when crimes have been committed.

 

Exception I: When China or another totalitarian regime noted for its repression and gross human rights violations asks you to make an exception.

 

Exception II: When you are a non-governmental American leftist group or corporation and wish to swoop down in big-brother style to collect information from customers or other citizens which is none of your business. (Note Google and Real Networks, both run by lefties and, oddly enough infamous for their spying habits).

 

Conservative: “Privacy” means protection from anyone’s prying eyes, period.

 

Exception I: Unless a crime is being committed (crime defined by American standards, not Chinese).

 

Exception II: Unless the US is at a time of war and the information to be gathered is immediately germane.

 

 

 So now that we have that covered, let’s continue.

 

Rife with double-standards even Reuters could see, Google this week has managed to embrace Chinese meddling in their business affairs and blithely accept Beijing’s violation of user privacy while at the same time refusing the US government (and earlier, the EU) any similar courtesy, even if it’s to protect children from child predators. Reuters:

 

Google's resistance contrasts with a deal the company has struck with the Chinese government to censor some searches on a new site in China, a move that has drawn sharp criticism from members of the U.S. Congress and human rights activists.

 

So we begin our contrasting of Google’s two-faced approach (taken from that article), beginning with Google in America:

 

"Google users trust that when they enter a search query into a Google search box ... that Google will keep private whatever information users communicate absent a compelling reason," attorneys for Google said in the filing.

 

The legal spat also comes amid heightened sensitivity to privacy issues by the company as it recently began offering a new version of its Google Desktop service that vacuums up data stored on user PCs and makes it accessible on the users' other computers. For customers who consent to the service, copies of their data are stored on Google's central computers.

 

Privacy activists have rallied to the defense of Google for fighting the U.S. government request…

 

Said privacy activists also seem strangely silent on the matter of Google Desktop in the US or anything Google in China, however. Of course Reuters doesn’t mention whether these are liberal, libertarian or conservative privacy activists, leading us to assume they asked every single one. Naturally, it’s pretty clear these are liberal activists since we do see a large pair of blind spots, one shaped like Google and the other shaped like China – so it does quack like a duck.

 

The American Civil Liberties Union, with other civil rights groups, bookstores and alternative media outlets filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of Google.

 

No mention if any alternative media in China (or librarians in Cuba) were asked for their opinion of the farce.

 

To finish we turn now to Google in China:

 

Oh, wait. We don’t have any statements from Google explaining why not safeguarding the privacy of Chinese citizens from draconian government invasion is acceptable. Further, Google also didn’t seem to care to answer (or wasn’t asked by Reuters) why Google wants its privacy respected in the US while also not respecting the privacy of its own US users of Google Desktop.

 

Google’s lack of US-loyalty is the most alarming, however, and is evidenced in yet another way not touched on by anyone as far as I’ve learned: At the same time Google Earth global satellite mapping software has changed out some of its high-resolution images of countries like Iran (available on Keyhole before it was bought out by Google and transformed into Google Earth) and replaced them with much lower resolution ones. Google Earth is also pointing out (and often offering detailed information on) US military installations (including nuclear installations) and providing the sharpest images of the same.

 

Clearly this takes us around in circles with the only one theme a constant: Google, a publicly traded US company, only resists sharing information with the US government, all others are heartily welcome to look inside Google’s secret vault.

 

I think it’s clear that what is needed is for companies like Google to be reigned in and compelled to respect human rights, national security and consumer privacy, just as companies were forced to do during the Reagan era and in those previous. Otherwise we not only will face risks to consumers at home, we risk losing all respect abroad for US foreign policy objectives particularly dealing with human rights.

 

RELATED: For another and more artistic look at Google's shady dealings, visit Gaaagle.com, where you can also find the image originally published there that is used at the top of this post.

 

 

Posted by Martin at 01:52 AM | Comments (1)

February 07, 2006

Uranium-235, Iran & You

Is Iran using bomb-quality uranium?

 

 

We’ve been hearing a lot about Iran’s uranium enrichment program. Iran is still claiming that all it wants is to use the uranium as an alternative energy source.

 

But what you may not be hearing is one very important piece of information about the type of uranium they are using and how that type or isotope is more commonly used in making nuclear weapons and doesn't appear to be necessary in large amounts for a peaceful project (if I am amiss here, anyone who does this for a living is welcome to correct this).

 

Specifically (and without getting in too deeply here), Iran is said to be using uranium-235. Uranium-235 is uranium with a total of 235 protons and neutrons (its atomic mass), which provide for a high degree of instability and therefore in this case significantly greater radioactivity than uranium-238, which seems more suitable for providing nuclear power. In short, uranium-235 in vast amounts is used for weapon-making, while 238 as a lower grade is used for nuclear power.

 

Of course there are ways for outside countries to determine what type of uranium is being processed as well as how (this went on ad nauseam during the Cold War between the US and Soviet Union). As to the “how”, certain kinds of radioactive material break down in unique tell-tale ways. In fact, during the Cold War, the super powers would dilute the leftover material with material brought about by different processes in order to provide false readings for anyone attempting to use the material to discover information about a particular enrichment process. The gist is we've had ways of finding out (as have the Russians et al) and depending on how sophisticated Iran is, they have ways of keeping quiet. Still, at the end of the day, according to some (including a Fox News analyst and former CIA operative), Iran indeed has and is using 235 as its isotope du jours.

 

So, all debate aside, we should be moving forcefully on this just as John Bolton at the UN and the US State Department and Pentagon already are. It might also be a factor in why we already sent an entire fighter wing (about 40 planes) to that region recently. The scary part is that no one (at least publicly) knows with complete, absolute certainty that Iran doesn’t already have a bomb. That said, if Iran wants to continue as something other than a major exporter of shocked quartz in the coming century, they’d be wise not to use it.

 

Posted by Martin at 05:36 PM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2006

How Far Does “Fair Use” Go

Can file swappers legally download content they already own?

 

 

Howard Stern, Sirius, and would you believe the FCC are now going after folks pirating his shows by swapping files on the internet and even hijacking unused radio bandwidth in New York City to broadcast his show for free. Of course, I can agree with and see why the FCC and the Sirius legal department would see the need to get involved, but I sense a touch of irony here.

 

Curiously, one website illegally offering Stern took the step of stating that the copied shows were only intended for paid subscribers to Sirius, who were licensed to listen to Stern. The site’s failure though, among other things, was that there was no way in which to verify who was really downloading and listening to the material.

 

I’m not quite sure why anyone would choose, frankly, to pay for Howard Stern’s show to listen to it legally, let alone listen illegally for free. Howard should pay his listeners to do him the service. While I don’t condone pirating, I do find the whole thing terribly ironic that the same guy who championed the anarchist is suddenly feeling a change of heart now that he is the one who is being negatively affected by his ideas. This to me is the classic example of the self-centered school house bully, and I think in some sense he’s only reaping what he’s sown.

 

But it brings up a whole interesting discussion much more interesting than Howard Stern: What about the fair-use copying of music or other media among users who already possess a legal licensed copy in some form or fashion.

 

Take for example, if I owned a legal recording of “You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley on vinyl. It's been accepted that for me to copy that record onto CD, tape or mp3 for my own personal use in the United States, it is perfectly acceptable under the concept of fair use.

 

In other words, I’ve already paid for the privilege of owning a copy of that song, and it doesn't matter by what means I choose to hear it.

 

So if it's acceptable for me to copy a song I've already paid for to CD, tape or mp3, why would it suddenly be unacceptable under fair use for me to have a friend, who also owns the same song make that transfer for me. Now to extend this a bit farther: If a friend, why not a stranger, say, over a file sharing service. Again, I've already paid for the song, but since someone else who may be more technically inclined has already ripped it to mp3, saving me the hassle, I'll use their copy instead of figuring out how to do it myself, provided there’s means to verify or at least reasonably and non-anonymously assert ownership. Same song, same version, same artist.

 

This is the question, I think, that RIAA, and other intellectual property absolutists need to address and one I think raises further questions as to whether it is fair or just for anyone to consider legislation to blindly punish everyone who shares or downloads music from sharers under any circumstance. That said, perhaps someone who’s creative out there can come up with a way for users to verify that they have the right to download a given media file, thus creating an environment that does not financially harm the copyright holder. I bet that someone stands to make a mint. They might even be able to find a way to charge a fee for the labor of ripping – as many brick and mortar businesses do to transfer video or audio to new formats for you.

 

But can we expect the recording and entertainment industries to address the issue fairly? If prior performance is any indicator, probably not. The Supreme Court found in 1984 that the copyright holders of certain television programs had overstepped their bounds in suing Sony for its production of the video tape recorder. The copyright holders attempted to squelch fair use and were willing to cut off their own nose to spite their face to do it in that had they won, VTR production and use would have been severely limited. This would have negatively affected the growth of the television viewing audience the copyright holders had a vested financial stake in increasing. And certainly, 22 years of hindsight upholds this fact.

 

In citing a lower court decision as part of the basis for its own, the Supreme Court reiterated that,

 

…[N]oncommercial home use recording of material broadcast over the public airwaves was a fair use of copyrighted works and did not constitute copyright infringement. It emphasized the fact that the material was broadcast free to the public at large, the noncommercial character of the use, and the private character of the activity conducted entirely within the home. Moreover, the court found that the purpose of this use served the public interest in increasing access to television programming, an interest that "is consistent with the First Amendment policy of providing the fullest possible access to information through the public airwaves. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. v. Democratic National Committee, 412 U.S. 94, 102." Id., at 454. [n8] Even when an entire copyrighted work was recorded, [p*426] the District Court regarded the copying as fair use "because there is no accompanying reduction in the market for ‘plaintiff’s original work.‘”

 

Since the viewer watching programming on public airwaves is granted, in effect, a license to view the programming (though actually, the viewer has the right to view any unencrypted programming broadcast in such a fashion), it has been largely understood to follow that it is not dissimilar to the person who has been granted a license to view or listen to recorded material by the lawful purchase at some point or time of the material in one medium or another. It seems the two are similar and therefore one could be substituted for the other, and have.

 

But probably the matter of legitimate file-sharing is also a bit akin to the issue still raging in many corners as to whether the 2001 Digital Millennium Copyright Act went too far in prohibiting under any circumstance the decrypting of encrypted material whose copyrights have expired or whose currently copyrighted works also contain non-copyrighted material, effectively nullifying the portion of Article I Section 8 of the constitution dealing with patent expiration: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries…” But that act (the sweetheart of the entertainment industry) is also seen by many as infringing on fair use.

 

If the file-swapping issue were to be compared to another hot-button issue – the banning of abortion – I think fair use could reasonably be seen (in certain key functional aspects) as the rape or incest exception argument. That’s to say, while a party seeking to ban a certain behavior is right in doing so – presently 99.3% of the time, a reasonable and well-crafted prohibition will also include an exception for instances falling under certain narrowly tailored circumstances. Failure to do so might turn honest and faithful customers into bitter, battle-weary pirates in the eyes of the law something not good at all for the bottom line or our Constitution.

 

Presently, just like many in the television industry in the 1970’s, the recording industry et al is still on the war path and doesn’t seem to be as much interested in its long-term bottom line as it is in control, and that probably is in no small part thanks to the legal departments of that industry trying to find any way to justify a gluttonous existence.

 

Posted by Martin at 08:26 AM | Comments (2)

January 13, 2006

Prepaid Phones, Mr. Bin Laden?

 

 

Hear ye, hear ye.

 

ABC News is championing a new headline full of intrigue and wonder: Surge in Sale of Disposable Cell Phones May Have Terror Link.

 

Ya think? That and an illegal drug-and-every-other-organized-crime link.

 

But doesn’t this seem as though it should be common sense?

 

It was about this time two years ago I was at a phone store in Dallas and commented to a friend that this could be a bad idea unless we force potential terrorists and criminals to get lobotomies.

 

 

And speak of the Devil:

 

The Midland, Texas, arrest report police also identified the individuals [all six arrested after buying 60 of these pre-paid phones at a local Wal-Mart] as linked to a terror cell:

 

"Evasive responses provided by the subjects, coupled with actions observed by officers at the onset of the contact prompted the notification of local FBI officials to assist in the investigation," the report said. "Upon the arrival of special agents, and as a result of subsequent interviews, it was discovered that members of the group were linked to suspected terrorist cells stationed within the [Dallas - Ft. Worth] Metroplex.

 

Fast forwarding a couple of years later, ABC splashes the above quote and, by the way, that Pakistani and other foreign nationals (not to mention I’m sure MS-13 and other gang members) may be using these phones to undesirable ends.

 

The report also mentions that in one instance over 100 phones were sold to someone in a single purchase at a Target store in California on New Year’s Eve.

 

But anticipating this wasn’t rocket science; especially after similar widespread purchases of pre-paid phones took place in Madrid just prior to the terrorist attack there:

 

The story quotes Roger Entner who is a communications consultant, "The application of prepaid phones for nefarious reasons, is really widespread. For example, the terrorists in Madrid used prepaid phones to detonate the bombs in the subway trains that killed more than 200 people".

 

Still, ABC News has arrived on its shiny pony to show us what we who are in flyover country had long ago observed as a possible risk.

 

I only hope the FBI et al surreptitiously watch such things long before ABC News and the rest of MSM notice. At least I sleep better hoping they do.

 

Posted by Martin at 09:01 AM | Comments (1)

December 07, 2005

Moving Forward on the EMP Threat

 

 

Reagan Administration Former Assistant Defense Secretary Frank J. Gaffney Jr. has a new book out. The book, “War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World”, describes what Gaffney and numerous other experts are saying is the most serious tactical danger to the future survival of the United States as a sovereign and prosperous nation, let alone a world power. According to the former assistant secretary of defense (see an excerpt from his new book here via The World Tribune), that danger comes from an electromagnetic pulse (EMT) attack, which Gaffney describes as nothing short of an “electromagnetic tsunami”.

 

Frank Gaffney has been traveling the country and doing the media circuit recently and I had the chance to hear him speak in May at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Dallas on this subject, along with former CIA director R. James Woolsey.

 

Why would such an attack be the preferred method for an enemy state or organization? In a word: maximum damage with maximum efficiency.

 

Damage: The damage from such a device, if executed properly, would utterly devastate America’s current electrical and electronic infrastructure. Everything from modern cars to computers to heart defibrillators would be internally damaged or destroyed. But never mind this, because so would the power grid and as such there would be no electricity to power these devices even if they were protected from the pulse by hardening or some other mitigating element.

 

Efficiency: The technology and delivery system (and therefore the total cost and investment) in such a weapons system are relatively low. The ingredients include a primitive nuclear explosive device delivered and detonated at about 300 miles above the target (such as the continental United States).

 

The device’s explosion will send ahead of the fireball an electromagnetic pulse sufficient to wipe out most power grids and electronics in the area the size of the Continental United States.

 

And, EMCC (a German electronics testing group) has indicated that since many modern electronic components are no longer shielded by metal form factors but by pastic etc., their components are further vulnerable:

 

Aircraft to road vehicle bodies are increasingly made of plastics instead of metal. A real lightning problem has come up with the substitution of metal hulls with carbon, as protection by the Faraday Cage was lost and lightning induced currents are flowing across cables and electronics: close to all LEMP tests show "positive" results. The photo [ABOVE] shows LEMP test on a sensor cable loom.

 

The delivery system can be something as cheap as any system capable of reaching this altitude, such as an old scud missile (delivered from sea or from one of our nearby “neighbors”), or a cheap satellite (we should be especially concerned about Iran and other less-than-friendly powers around the world and in this hemisphere seeking both to acquire satellite and satellite delivery system technology). Gaffney points out that Iran (often funded and supported by Russia and China incidentally) “In addition to their successful ship launched Scud missile test, the Iranian military has reportedly performed tests of its Shahab 3 medium range ballistic missile in a manner consistent with an EMP attack scenario.” Gaffney also mentioned in May that several former Soviet EMP scientists have been employed by North Korea.

 

For a more limited, but nearly as devastating effect, a single nuke could be flown by small plane or other aircraft over the eastern seaboard (or other important region) with such a bomb on board and detonated, creating a regional catastrophe with nationwide ripples.

 

An even more limited (but still in many ways effective) tactic would be to employ an EMP device over a strategic military asset or ally.

 

More bold would be an attempt to do this over several regions at once. Such a move as this one would be as destructive or more than a single, high-altitude bomb over the US mainland, while also compounding the psychological effect of it (though, at such a point, a calamity of the scale of a national EMP attack would already be too extensive for most to truly comprehend, so the effect would probably only be fully appreciated by historians).

 

Even as Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld speaks publicly about a “lean” fighting force, heavy on electronic technology and light on manpower, Gaffney quotes one Chinese military strategist,

 

As soon as its computer networks come under attack and are destroyed, the country will slip into a state of paralysis and the lives of its people will grind to a halt. (Su Tzu Yun, World War: The Third World War — Total Information Warfare, 2001.)

 

The Chinese and North Koreans are already known to have invested large sums in battlefield applications of EMP technology and the Chinese are also on record at least as far back as 1999 in calling for total, asymmetrical warfare.

 

But even if a nation’s military infrastructure is hardened and survives EMP attacks, if her homeland civilian assets are wiped out, then that military’s ability to fight for any length of time is also eliminated (which is pretty much warfare 101). Troops would soon run out of equipment, parts, weapons and food – and would likely need to be recalled in any event to keep and maintain order in the homeland. In sort, as the song goes, “Turn Out the Lights, The Party’s Over”.

 

Of course, being suddenly relegated to (really less-than) 19th Century status without the benefit of 19th Century infrastructure and with three times the population nationally (and many more times that in urban areas) of our 19th Century great-great-grandparents would wind up killing far more Americans than a single direct nuke attack of an American city. It would probably also pave the way to American vassal status, as undoubtedly we would face a coming loss of sovereignty, our freedom and all which we have built and shared with the world in the way of American ideals to an opportunistic foreign power.

 

The essential fact that the hostile powers with sufficient manpower would not stand still and wait while we re-gathered ourselves should not be lost on anyone. We might be surprised with who suddenly jumps over to that list of hostile powers once there was perceived a mortal wound. For many long-standing allies of weaker status, such a shift in global power would be terrifying and no doubt lead to their silence or even complicity with the subsequent global superiority grabs by the remaining major powers. Whether to be living in the continental US or anyplace else in such an environment might be a Hobson’s choice of high order.

 

But in any case, Gaffney (and others) are right to point out now that a comprehensive strategy must be devised and implemented to prevent an EMP attack here.

 

But we must also help our allies prepare to defend against such an attack. An EMP attack on one of our key allies could also affect us economically and strategically.

 

Such a strategy would include hardening electrical infrastructure and electronics, improving tactical defense and intelligence capabilities and waging an effective diplomacy campaign (this includes an economic aspect, as Reagan understood with the Soviets, and as others have ascribed with respect to all contemporary powers of concern). The question will be whether such a strategy will be implemented in such a way as to discourage (or prevent) such an attack on our territory, assets and interests.

 

 

RELATED

Blogbat Publicitus: Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar Day 2 (24 May 2005)

 

EMP Commission Report Executive Summary

 

Congressional Record: Statement of Dr. George W. Ullrich Deputy Director of the Defense Special Weapons Agency

 

Frank J. Gaffney Jr.'s Bio

 

Asymmetric Warfare - National Defense University

 

China's Space Capabilities and the Strategic Logic of Anti-Satellite Weapons

 

Asymmetrical Warfare Cuts Both Ways

 

For the science bug: A (slightly different and less ominous) application and example of electromagnetic power

 

Posted by Martin at 06:46 PM | Comments (6)

October 08, 2005

Blogbat Publicitus Weekly Roundup

 

 

An interesting week with some newsmakers in Dallas. Beginning with a rally to protect our borders, this week also included run-ins with Karl Rove and Former CIA director R. James Woolsey.

 

Last Saturday was a highly successful Citizens for Immigration Reform demonstration in North Dallas. As such rallies and demonstrations always do, it served well to remind us that the illegal immigration issue is one that has truly been raised by the people – and is a grass-roots movement that will only continue to swell until its goals have been realized. As a sign of our good things to come, I stumbled across a five dollar bill as I got out of my car – (modest, sure, but it helped me pay my tip at P.F. Chang’s later that weekend...).

 

I would say our group was a fairly decent size for something lasting only 90 minutes. The group numbered around 30; however, the support was overwhelming among those walking and driving by - folks of every imaginable cultural stripe, as the case typically is. We even had some of those passing by decide to come and join us.

 

I think one of the things however that really stuck out about this event was just how much it reflected America and how much it really demonstrated that agreement on the need to control our borders is a universal American thing, not a hyphenated-American thing of any kind. We had among our numbers retired citizens, young families, college students and young professionals; Americans of black, white, hispanic, Asian – and other ancestries. We even had two or three very energetic 8-year olds running up and down waving American flags exclaiming "God bless America!" In a nutshell, a true cross-section of Anywhere, America standing up for national security and for protecting Americans from the sex offenders and violent criminals who also are not presently being filtered out at the border. It was a good thing to see, although not surprising when we consider that close to 80% of America knows it’s time to do something about the borders.

 

 

Wednesday I had the chance to attend a Karl Rove appearance before a relatively intimate gathering.

 

Rove, who next week will testify for an unprecedented fourth time before the Grand Jury looking into who leaked the name of CIA spook Valerie Plame, was in Texas to visit prospective colleges with his son. While Rove probably did not "out" Plame, testifying so late in the game of a grand jury investigation could wind up snagging him on a technicality, and it's possible he agreed to testify in hopes of clarifying the details of earlier statements.

 

I found Karl Rove to be a truly gregarious fellow; he spoke conversationally, relating stories of the President’s and First Lady’s fondness for wild game and Jurists named Miers.

 

 

Finally, Friday was spent at the SMU Cox Business School to hear former CIA director R. James Woolsey.

 

Woolsey began his talk by expressing how delighted he was to have been so warmly welcomed at SMU since he was not just a lawyer after all, and someone who worked for the CIA, but also a Clinton appointee at one time to boot.

 

The former director spoke mostly about the strategic implications of Arabian oil and his hopes that one day cars would compete with horses to get their fuel from prairie grass. With the price of gas, I suppose Woolsey’s thoughts could best be summed up by saying that if wishes were hybrids, than beggars would drive.

 

 

Oh, and speaking of prairie grass guzzlers, Thursday I happened to look at a couple of horses to buy (I'm in the market for a good Dressage horse, FYI)… but that’s probably not as newsworthy or as interesting of a thing, so I’ll spare you the details.

 

Posted by Martin at 01:49 AM | Comments (1)

September 23, 2005

Rita Firebugs Afoot in Galveston?

 

 

Galveston’s historic Strand at this hour is being leveled by a series of out-of-control fires, which have engulfed several buildings and threaten to spread to even more as embers swirl in the gale force winds.

 

While no one has offered an opinion on the cause of these fires (or truly could conclusively say, for obvious reasons), it sort of smells to me like arson.

 

Now let me just say, I'm usually not given to wild speculation. In fact, as you might expect, I have what I believe are at least a few reasons for my ruminations.

 

Other than a simple gut feeling, along with the examples we saw of pyros-gone-wild in New Orleans after the initial floods there, a few more recent events seem to me at least to suggest a pattern on the island:

 

- This blaze is the third one in the past two days.

 

- Yesterday an elderly woman who had not evacuated caught a man trying to set fire to an abandoned house; when the woman called police, the man fled and was not found.

 

- Earlier this afternoon we watched as a suspicious fire ravaged a Galveston building, its causes apparently yet to be determined by the fire marshal who visited the scene.

 

I seriously hope I’m wrong, because I’d hate to think anyone would deliberately wish to destroy the beautiful historic Strand, but it seems strange to me. While we naturally won’t know anything until authorities have time to investigate, (and all but the one involving the witness can be shown to have been started accidentally) I do hope they decide to look for that fellow the witness saw attempting to set the house ablaze yesterday. I think we have a firebug of one degree or another.

 

Posted by Martin at 11:20 PM | Comments (0)

NFTGJ: Some Evacuation Thoughts

 

 

It’s beginning to look more likely that those who chose to remain in high-lying parts of the Houston area made the right choice. As Rita begins to head in a more northerly direction, and as we see the misery experienced by those who spent 20 or more hours on the interstate in stop and go traffic still stuck in that misery, I’m sure those who decided to research an alternate route or maybe even remain in Houston are thanking themselves.

 

Sure those remaining may not be able to find gas anywhere, or water, bread, or toilet paper, but at least they can find a toilet – and a bed. They can also protect their property, their pets, and their family members.

 

One friend related to me last night over the phone his plans to drive with his girlfriend, records and valuables out to his parents’ place in Katy (just west of Houston). He and his father have stocked up on ammunition and he says they are more than ready to protect their property if anyone unfriendly tries to pay them a visit. I’m growing in confidence it will not come anywhere near that, but it’s nice to know that in the great state of Texas, a person can use lethal force to protect his life and his home. (Actually, in Texas, those with legal firearms are required to work with neighbors to provide security for the neighborhood when commissioned law enforcement is unavailable.)

 

Regardless of whether it was best to stay or leave (or whether you’re a blue-ribbon commission planning our highways with leaving in mind), it should stand as something crystal clear that not planning your evacuation route ahead of time and not anticipating these clogged freeways lacks a certain quality which is central to the very common sense fundamental to the idea behind evacuating - survival. Certainly, this is not to denigrate the evacuees who chose to follow the crowd (though I don’t mind denigrating emergency planners, even when they get a “B”), but I think the evacuation helps to illustrate that things such as evacuation and survival must be seriously planned out ahead of time and followed through thoughtfully. I think one of the big problems is that many who live in cities have never really encountered a situation where basic survival tools need to be utilized. Without a public restroom, a grocery store, directions from authorities and the media, many people are like lost children – but, that’s only because they aren’t prepared. It’s my hope that those for which such a description might apply, will take Rita as a chance to learn how to better prepare themselves.

 

 

Posted by Martin at 06:58 PM | Comments (0)

BIG: Over Quarter Million to Dallas

 

 

As Many as 300,000 are estimated en route to Dallas from Houston and Hurricane Rita. This is the number (so far) a Dallas radio show host Darrel Ankarlo says he has heard from Dallas mayor Laura Miller.

 

Approximately 2.5 million people are said to be fleeing the path of Rita, according to Texas Governor Rick Perry; we certainly welcome all of our fellow citizens in need here in Dallas.

 

Note: To illustrate just how staggering the 300,000 number shared by Ankarlo this morning is, it is at least ten times the number of evacuees from New Orleans, and is the largest influx of people since officials began talking about granting amnesty to illegals last year. Unlike New Orleans however, it's my guess that most in-state citizen evacuees are likely to return home after the fact rather than planting new roots in their newfound sanctuaries.

 

Posted by Martin at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)

Here Is A Quick Rita Evacuation Roundup

 

 

Some items of note for this morning:

 

- Entire Counties Without Gas

Counties along the evacuation route and in some destination towns are completely out of fuel and shelter. TXDOT officials are advising evacuees not to enter these towns.

 

As I mentioned earlier, the Red Cross is attempting to open new shelters along the evacuation route. Shelters will include churches, high schools and the like in the towns of Willis, Livingston, the Woodlands, along the Austin HWY and other areas near Houston. For more info call 713/313.5480

 

Evacuees still near Houston should consider going south to Corpus Christi, which is now setting up shelters.

 

Roads heading south are relatively free of traffic.

 

In Texas, call TXDOT for more information on shelters: 211.

 

NOTE: Houston’s Mayor White is now advising residents who’ve not yet fled to shelter in place.

 

 

- TXDOT Opens 11 Fuel Stations; gives free fuel to evacuees

 

- More deaths attributed to Rita

KHOU is reporting,

 

 

A woman died while stuck in traffic in Fort Bend County. The cause of her death appears to be heat-related. The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office has received the bodies of several people who died while evacuating. They would not give an exact number. The Montgomery County medical examiner also said there have been deaths attributed to the evacuation, but would not give specifics.

 

 

And that’s not counting the 25 or so lost today in the tragic bus fire near Dallas. The elderly evacuees are from Sunrise Senior Living in Bellaire, southwest Houston. Bellaire is a relatively affluent, conservative community including a large number of retired people, medical students, and families. Victims are being transported to Dallas Parkland Hospital. For more information call 214/749.8641

 

I know this may not be the best time, but I have to wonder what Kanye West will tell us about how Bush wants to kill middle- and upper-middle class heterogeneous people.

 

Posted by Martin at 09:08 AM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2005

Rita Evacuations: "Plan B" Now Underway

Texas conceding limited success in hurricane evacuation

 

Texas Department of Public Safety to open shelters in the path of the storm. DPS has announced within the hour that they will begin offering these shelters to gridlocked evacuee motorists off the highways, according to KHOU TV.

 

Shelters, provided by the Red Cross will include churches, high schools and the like in the towns of Willis, Livingston, the Woodlands and other areas near Houston.

 

This is the largest mass-evacuation in US history.

 

In Texas, call 713/313.5480 or 211 for further information regarding these shelters.

 

 

Posted by Martin at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

Motorists Low on Fuel Will Be Fuming

Gas prices sure to soar in wake of Rita

 

 

Four Dollars a gallon – easily: This is what Blogbat predicts on the conservative side for gas prices at North and East Texas stations (when its available) in the coming days.

 

It wouldn’t be out of the question to consider asking gas station owners to prevent motorists from filling portable gas containers in order that more folks would able to find fuel for their vehicles.

 

Posted by Martin at 09:40 PM | Comments (0)

Texas Forecast: Gas-Runs & Nonsense

Short-term shortages appear to loom

 

 

Note: That’s not gas, runs & nonsense – that would come from lunch at El Chico.

 

Clouds seem to be gathering for a statewide run for the pump. I just did some looking around in the North Dallas area and found that portable gas cans are completely sold out, which may indicate that a lot of people are planning to begin hoarding gasoline pretty soon (or have already begun). In fact, I couldn’t find a single store selling the gas canisters that had any in stock, as of 17:30.

 

Some folks have also noticed a 10 cent climb in gas prices around the Dallas/Ft. Worth area since this morning.

 

Posted by Martin at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)

Texas Hurricane Resource

 

 

Texas Cable News (or, TXCN) is providing probably the best Rita TV coverage for those living in Texas and able to get the channel.

 

The network is pooling reports from television stations in areas being affected by Rita, along with providing regular weather updates. TXCN’s website is http://www.txcn.com.

 

  

Posted by Martin at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

Rita: Evacuation Route Crisis!

Official calls highway gridlock a “death trap”

 

 

Hundreds of thousands are currently stranded on Interstates 45, 10, and highway 59, and other Houston- and Galveston-area evacuation routes as cars are literally backed up for miles and many have run out of gas.

 

KHOU, a Houston television station is reporting also that many others are idling very low on fuel in the bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way from Houston to just south of Dallas. Many of these cars have only a quarter of a tank or less, meaning their occupants will be stranded shortly as well.

 

Worse yet, many fuel stations are now completely out of gas as well. While KHOU is reporting state officials are looking into bringing in additional tankers to refill the gas stations, obviously those tankers would encounter the same gridlock the other vehicles have encountered.

 

Add to that the construction zones along I-45, narrowing lanes and forcing detours and you get what a Texas Highway Department official told KHOU was a “death trap.”

 

The only good news presently is that the hurricane has been downgraded to a cat-4 and has shifted to the east – and that shift may continue with the high pressure area to the north continuing to shift to the east (though this is certainly bad news for New Orleans with the amount of rain they may wind up receiving after all).

 

Posted by Martin at 03:58 PM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2005

Sunday: Rita vs. ...Dallas!

Rita model shows TS force winds may extend into North Texas

 

 

It looks as if the storm may still be packing tropical storm strength as it hits Dallas this weekend. Storm prediction models are indicating that the Metroplex may be forced to endure maximum sustained winds between 40 and 70 mph. If that’s the case, those of us this far north of the gulf will be in for a rare, small, but still rather potent taste of what so many have been suffering along the entire gulf and eastern US coast this season.

 

I must say that at this exact moment I’m happy I no longer live in Houston, but this unfortunately cannot be said for friends and family members, some living as far south as between Houston and Galveston, and others living in the gulf area. Most no doubt will be able to flee this terrible storm, save a couple of family members in the area who work at Texas Medical Center in Houston.. Kevin Kite-Powell, my father’s brother, currently is the pharmacy director at St. Luke’s Hospital, serves on a FEMA team (in fact, he was called upon to help out at the World Trade Center in 2001), and is part of the hospital response committee for emergency preparedness; Dot, Kevin’s wife, is an RN, MSN, CCRN, and CNS at St. Luke’s. She presently serves as Manager of Outcomes Management & Research. Both I’m sure will be very busy in the coming days; both, the family hopes will stay safe.

 

There is no doubt if this hurricane hits Houston head-on, even as a cat-3, it will do a lot of damage. As myriads of experts have already pointed out on TV and across the web, the slower the storm moves, the worse that damage will be, and a lot of that could come from the downpour flooding alone. During Tropical Storm Allison, Houston saw significant major flooding most notably affecting the poorer areas, and in and around Texas Medical Center. The regional medical center also lost power for several hours as patients had to be evacuated to higher levels to escape the rising water. Allison was what we now might see as merely a foretaste of Katrina’s destruction in New Orleans or, perhaps even something for more unthinkable. I was one of the lucky ones whose home remained dry during Allison, but I spent many hours helping the relief efforts for the folks who weren’t so lucky. Our best hope is that Rita loses a lot of strength, swallows a lot of dry air and moves quickly out of the area.

 

It is frankly just strange to be expecting something like a tropical storm to come roaring through Dallas; it just doesn’t seem right. When or if it does, I guess we’ll get to see how well our roofs hold up, among other things. The good news is that the State of Texas (and the soon-to-be affected cities) has done a fantastic job preparing for such an event and I think the federal government has learned its lesson too. Still, I think we’re all hoping for a miracle at this point. As far as Galveston island is concerned, I just hope there will be a Strand to visit the next time I’m down there.

 

 

Related:

 

Check out my fellow Texas Blogfest compatriot, El Capitan’s blog at Baboon Pirates. El Capitan works in the Houston area and has just been told he will among the “essential personnel” slated to remain and endure Rita’s wrath. He promises to blog throughout providing he has power and a roof. Also, rumor has it Michelle Malkin is tracking the trackers.

 

AP: Rita Could Be Strongest Storm to Hit Texas - the cat-5 is now packing 175 mph winds, gusts to 215 mph

 

 

   

Posted by Martin at 11:00 PM | Comments (3)

September 06, 2005

Water World Saga: The Mutant Wars

 

 

They began dumping the water back into Lake Pontchartrain today, slowly relieving the city of New Orleans of its feet and feet of flood water.

 

Of course, the water is disgusting and I bet they’ll be catching a lot of three-eyed fish in the coming years. Maybe one of those fish will run for mayor, governor or even senator.

 

Posted by Martin at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2005

Google to Launch Instant Messaging Service

 

 

Google will no doubt also be announcing soon that it will not allow users of their upcoming instant messaging service to type phrases that are deemed pro-conservative or ideologically opposed to their fellow lovers of censorship, the brutal communist Chinese regime.

 

Google also says it will restrict messages between IM users that include any of what it considers revealing information about its CEO Eric Schmidt, even if that information were say, gleaned through Google. Any IM user attempting to convey such information would be eternally banned.

 

Finally, leftwing groups will be allowed to advertise for free on the service.

 

(Note: Blogbat employs a great deal of sarcasm when the occasion fits. If you have not noticed any here, you're doing just fine...)

 

 

Posted by Martin at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2005

IT Security Barney Fief Award UPDATE

NJ IT staff gets call from reporter - Governor Codey gets involved - spam server poss. nixed

 

 

 I received a call today from Joe Donahue working for the investigations division of the New Jersey Star Ledger seeking further information from me about the state’s apparent IT security malaise. He said he contacted the state's IT department earlier today but still hasn’t heard back from them – which really seems like nothing new, but at least its good knowing their IT department treats all inquiries equally. Or maybe not. Some time after this the reporter received a call from Kelley Heck, apparently a secretary at acting governor Richard J. Codey's office, looking into the matter and leaving her information with him.

 

Now the sexy details and what will strike you as maybe a bit whimsically coincidental: as of today no more comment spam attempts are being made through their servers (well, knock on wood). This following a sudden, small rash of legitimate visits from their domain, which suggests to me that just maybe someone has finally arisen from their slumber at the capitol. I hope he or she didn’t spill his or her coffee, whoever he or she may be. I’d hate to hear Mc Donald’s is facing another lawsuit for coffee burns.

 

In the meantime I may hear from the Governor’s office tomorrow and if so I will hopefully be able to let you know that the state has officially secured its servers. So far it looks like good news.

 

Posted by Martin at 05:35 PM | Comments (1)

August 01, 2005

Today's IT Security Barney Fief Award

How much private information now at risk in New Jersey?

 

 

Today’s award goes to the State of New Jersey and the folks who run their website and IT department.

 

For several weeks now their website has been compromised, hijacked and used to send reams of comment spam out across the world wide web to likely a myriad of unsuspecting blogs. If such a blog is unprotected against said spam, its owner will discover a slew of uninvited comments and pings pointing the user to various dubious vice-centric websites likely run by the same hacker who compromised New Jersey’s servers in the first place. Or, for the blogger who has implemented spam-blocking policies, just an annoying use of bandwidth.

 

The State of New Jersey, like so many others such as the First National Bank of Santa Fe though seems not to care that its network systems (for example, sac-ce1.gsn.state.nj.us ) have been compromised. It has so far not responded to an e-mail I sent to them yesterday about the problem, nor has it taken any action to stop the spamming. Note to the State of New Jersey: bandwidth costs money, and it has not been unheard of to hold in such cases a negligent party legally responsible.

 

For residents, state employees, and truly anyone else doing business with the State of New Jersey, this concerns you as well. Since it is not apparently known by any to what extent its servers have been “owned” by those aforementioned hacker(s), your personal information, employment records and business transactions might all be out there in naked grandeur for all the world to see. Can we say identity theft? Politicians should be worried too, for more reasons than just an electorate angry over private confidentiality being truly violated by a state government which likes to champion its crusade for the “right to privacy” in so many public circles: their internal memos, e-mails and other things they’d rather the world not see may just so happen as well make their way before us at the most inopportune time – say during an election – creating potentially a bit of cruel irony for everyone involved.

 

We’ll let you know if we get a response from the state of New Jersey or whenever they finally get around to securing their servers.

 

Concerned citizens should contact their New Jersey state legislators here and their acting governor Richard J. Codey by visiting the governor's website or with the information below:

 

Governor's South Jersey Office
101 Haddon Avenue, Suite 15
Camden, NJ 08102
(856) 614-3200

Governor's North Jersey Office
153 Halsey Street, 7th Floor
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 648-2640

 

 

Posted by Martin at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2005

Not Exactly Banking on Security III

FDIC changing its tune?

 

 

 

The FDIC now seems to be denying their website or internal servers have been compromised in any way. In a reply to my follow up e-mail, the FDIC representative said that they only meant that their website had received a lot of spam too. Oh really? Does the FDIC run a blog which receives a large amount of comment and trackback spam? It’s possible that this person may simply not have a solid understanding of what is meant by “spam”, “hacking” or similar words and simply meant that they receive a lot of e-mail spam, as do the rest of us:

 

”…(The) Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) gets tons of SPAM”.

 

It’s quite possible also that they were told to water down their previous statement, but who knows. It’s difficult to say which it is, but we all certainly hope that their security is in better shape than that of First National Bank of Santa Fe and other more high-profile financial and data-mining institutions that have been so badly hit in recent times.

 

Obviously, the FDIC is in no shape to be pouring water on any of these other fires – my impression from the e-mails I received from them was that they either don’t understand the problem of bank account information being endangered or hijacked, or are not concerned with it.  Or maybe they just didn’t understand the question in the original e-mail I sent to them:

 

This is to inform you that the servers at First National Bank at Santa Fe, New Mexico have been compromised and are being used to attack other websites with spam, including my own. These kinds of vulnerabilities are usually easily prevented by a competent IT staff that regularly patches and updates server software. As a financial institution it would be expected that this bank would protect customers by providing at least the very minimal level of security, so this is greatly troubling from many aspects. To bring this to the attention of the public, I am posting the details of the spam attempt against my website, along with the pending questions regarding the data security of this bank on my blog in the public interest. I have contacted First National about this problem, however the spam continues, therefore I do not see any evidence they are making any attempt to provide their customers with any form of a secure banking environment… Below are the details of the attack on my server from my weblog:…

 

This was probably a case of “not my department” anyway, but I was still surprised.

 

 

Some related earlier posts:

 

Yesterday: Not Exactly Banking on Security II

Tuesday: Not Exactly Banking on Security

From last year: Securing Information Assets in the Digital Age

 

 

 

Posted by Martin at 06:20 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2005

Not Exactly Banking on Security II

FDIC admits own servers compromised

 

 

 

In a shocking admission today the following one-line e-mail reply from an FDIC employee regarding the compromised servers at First National Bank of Santa Fe had this to say:

 

"Unfortunately, many websites are having a similar problem including the FDIC’s."

 

So does this mean some personal information on FDIC internal servers is vulnerable or already compromised - or has only their website been hijacked or vandalized? I posted that question in a followup e-mail I sent back today.

 

Sadly, the respondent, who chose to remain unnamed, seems resigned to the notion of financially vital institutions being compromised. This is sad, primarily again because many of these security breaches occur not because some highly-skilled hacker has been trying his hand at it, but simply because systems remain unpatched and lack proper standard security software and procedures – network management 101, if you will. I appreciate FDIC’s honesty and as I mentioned, we can’t tell from their response whether their internal records have been put into jeopardy, as has been the case with several other financial institutions in the past several months. But for those who have and who have put at risk the private information of literally millions of private customers there is one simple solution: do not put your strictly confidential customer data on the same network computers have access to the internet. Sounds tough, but what is your private information worth? Your employees might also get a little bit more accomplished as well if they aren’t surfing the web ;-)

 

 

Some related earlier posts:

 

yesterday: Not Exactly Banking on Security

From last year: Securing Information Assets in the Digital Age

 

Posted by Martin at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2005

Not Exactly Banking on Security

Are compromised bank servers putting your data at risk?

 

 

First National Bank of Santa Fe, New Mexico seems to have a problem. You see, someone has apparently compromised their computer network and is using it to spam websites belonging to other parties including moi. What’s worse is it continues even after First National Bank was contacted about the problem.

 

I discovered this as I was investigating some trackback spam right here on my blog. So I contacted First National Bank this morning about the problem, as any concerned citizen should do – after all, what if customer data (such as bank account and credit card and social security numbers, names and addresses) had also been compromised? But I have neither heard back from bank officials or noticed a cessation of spam attempts by this bank’s servers.

 

In the meantime, appropriate regulatory agencies have been notified and if you bank there, you should sternly inquire and possibly consider changing banks if you are not satisfied with what they tell you. If you bank there you might also think about this: First National Bank of Santa Fe is not FDIC insured and may answer to minimal regulation.

 

It does lead one to wonder however just how many other financial institutions out there play fast and loose with IT security - and possibly your privacy, particularly in light of all the news surrounding so many cases it seems where personal records were compromised in recent months having to do with similar organizations that were also penetrated by hackers. Indeed, I see stark examples of lax and penetrated IT security almost every time I start with a new client. I also hear such examples related to me from other parts as well. In one such instance, a family member who works at a local law firm has mentioned some things that might cause that firms clients to think twice. It is completely amazing what some so-called IT professionals consider a good job - because the thing is, so many of these vulnerabilities could be so easily prevented. The thought of so many institutions and services leaking personal data like a sieve is not only more than mildly unpleasent, it is inexusably preventable. As an IT consultant with clients involved in the medical, non-profit and law enforcement fields - many of whose infrastuctures were in just as bad of shape when we came on - it really hits home here. But even then, many clients and companies will refuse to fund the measures necesary to keep them secure and seem to be part of a real culture of neglect. As I mentioned in an earlier post, if some major military contractors don't even put antivirus software on their machines or make it a practice to patch their systems, what about institutions like First National? It seems to be this could be the tip of a security and privacy crisis iceburg about which if organizations do not start taking IT security seriously, has the potential to become quite ugly over the next five to seven years.

 

While we wait to find out something more about this whole fiasco, here are some fun facts on First National of Santa Fe:

 

According to their website, “The First National Bank of Santa Fe was founded by Lucien B. Maxwell … on December 13, 1870, becoming the first bank to be established in the New Mexico Territory.” The bank's modernization project is still underway, it seems.

 

Interestingly, Mark French who is the Senior Vice President and Manager, Custom Banking Office is “currently a board member of (the) Santa Fe DARE Program and Project Access.” Now if we could only get Mark to accept a dare to keep his bank servers off spam by initiating a project to prevent hackers from gaining access by easily sidestepping the current security procedures of First National Bank of Santa Fe.

 

Posted by Martin at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2005

Is Your Laptop Vulnerable?

 

 

Ever wonder if your laptop lock is secure?

 

Rothaus explains how to open a Kensington laptop lock with a pen, a roll of toilet paper and some gaffer tape and links to a video demonstrating the thing.

 

A good reason why my Portégé M200 uses a combination lock and alarm.

 

Posted by Martin at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2005

Blogbat Publicitus:

Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar Day 2

 

 

Today was spent on the Hillsdale information lifeboat with four very distinct and interesting characters: A professor, a research academician, a Paul Revere and a super-cop.

 

Day two got underway early with Larry Arnn’s professorial discussion of the value of wartime statesmanship. Though he rambled a bit, as professors often do, the main point this fan of Winston Churchill was conveyed clearly: without American values (human rights and dignity transcendent far beyond the scope of human law and empowered by the strength of moral clarity and authority), Americans could not have ever hoped to have come so far. Malise Ruthven, on the other hand offered us a more detailed description, as academicians who love research often do of our antithesis and the failing foundries from which it arises. Malise described the form of insanity that comes about when a person holds an unrealistic utopian ideal to which he will stop at nothing to force the world to conform. This, as he points out has been the case in the last century for Nazis, Fascists, Communists and of course Islamofascists. Such an ideal turns a normal German nationalist in the 1930’s into a card-carrying member of the National Socialist Workers Party, for example. He also paid close attention to the meaning of “fundamentalist” as it has been adopted and used in the media in recent history.

 

After breaking for lunch, we assembled once again to hear whether this time instead of the British, the Islamofascists (or Communists) were coming and whether they would come bearing an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) device, capable of completely disrupting modern technology-driven life as we know it. Frank Gaffney Jr. did a superb job of touching on the key areas of concern relating to an EMP event. He first discussed its most effective detonation point and then moved on to defining the three waves within the pulse that would effectively fry personal electronics and power grids. Noting then that such an event would effectively relegate the United States to 19th century undeveloped status, he quickly pointed out it would be also without the benefit of 19th century infrastructure. Cities would be unable to sustain their populations, transportation would be largely unavailable to carry these populations to the country and farmers would watch their crops rot. The point was and is very clear: we must harden our technological infrastructure and it must be a top priority. But in addition to what Mr. Gaffney recommends, I would simply add that those wise among us should also be making some sort of consideration for a short-term low-tech existence in the event an EMP should occur before we are sufficiently hardened or another threat has a similar effect. It has honestly concerned me for some time that we have made some of our most vital things so reliant on electronics even when it was not always necessary. This applies to our military as well. We should be able to still fight even if the enemy turns out the lights – which will be one of the first things a major enemy in battle will attempt. The Soviets of course worked on EMP technology for years before their collapse (and as Frank shockingly pointed out, several scientists who worked on that project then went over to North Korea where they live today). China as well as Iran and certainly Al Qaeda would certainly have a place for this technology and China is additionally working on a strategy (as is North Korea) for taking out our military satellites which would effectively blind much of our operations. And what if such a country were to launch a satellite intended to disperse an EMP over North America? Of course, our biggest concern at the moment is that a rogue ocean barge will fire one of those ubiquitous scuds or an airplane over our airspace and detonate a nuclear payload, causing an EMP event. But the thing I have to ask is why does it take a Frank J. Gaffney Jr. to point this out? Isn’t this just common sense? Give bad man spear, bad man use spear on good man, good man die. Bad man can’t find spear, use rock.

 

We wrapped up the day with R. James Woolsey. Truly a man of many hats, his forceful and plainspoken speaking style caused me to imagine an intellectual cop, if such a thing exists (though he also seemed to have a softer side for public lauding). Woolsey of course drew comparisons between Islamofascism and Nazism, both respect to outcome and the breeding grounds which foment such things. He rightly points out that America has had a history of sending the wrong message to our enemies who inevitably attack us because they have fallen into the belief that we are weak and wince at conflict – though Japan’s Admiral Yamamoto, who was well-acquainted with the American experience after having studied here, knew that Japan would not come out too favorably after the US war machine began to churn. With respect to our previous wars, Woolsey considers this war more similar to the Cold War than World War II, both in duration and in strategy. But I suppose this only depends on the relative size of a given flashpoint.  

 

This was an interesting and enjoyable seminar and I’m thankful to Hillsdale College for providing these speakers along with some fantastic food and company. Yesterday I nearly ran out of business cards and met so many fine, wonderful people (today I came prepared with twice as many cards in my pocket). I was also impressed with the number of home school families present, their children preparing to attend Hillsdale or already attending. What a wonderful resource this event, as well as the school are for these families. During the course of my time I also learned that the children of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard B. Myers were home schooled before attending Hillsdale. One of his daughters in fact recently graduated the college among the top 5 of her class. Not bad for an Air Force brat by any stretch!

 

For those interested in receiving full copies of the speeches from this week's event, contact Hillsdale College which may make available written copies or video at some point. These speeches are also often included in the school's magazine Imprimus available via free subscription or online.

 

Related:

 

Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar Day 1

March 30: Details of the National Leadership Seminar in Dallas

 

For further information on EMP:

 

EMP Commission Report Executive Summary: http://empcreport.ida.org

Washington Times Op-Ed: National Paralysis

 

 

 

Posted by Martin at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2005

Weird

 

 

From the “I’m truly stumped department”:

 

 

May 15, 2005 — Forecasters at the NOAA Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo., observed a geomagnetic storm on Sunday, May 15, which they classified as an extreme event, measuring G-5—the highest level—on the NOAA Space Weather Scales.

"This event registered a 9 on the K-Index, which measures the maximum deviation of the Earth's magnetic field in a given three-hour period," said Gayle Nelson, lead operations specialist at NOAA Space Environment Center. "The scale ranges from 0 to 9, with 9 being the highest. This was a significant event."

Possible impacts from such a geomagnetic storm include widespread power system voltage control problems; some grid systems may experience complete collapse or blackouts. Transformers may experience damage. Spacecraft operations may experience extensive surface charging; problems with orientation; uplink/downlink and tracking satellites. Satellite navigation may be degraded for days, and low-frequency radio navigation can be out for hours. Reports received by the NOAA Space Environment Center indicate that such impacts have been observed in the United States.

NOAA forecasters said the probability of another major event of this type is unlikely, however, other minor level (G-1) geomagnetic storms are possible within the next 24 hours.

 

 

How strange – Saturday night I dreamt there was just such a high-level solar event and geomagnetic storm. In the dream we knew of the initial solar event but were still awaiting the thing to reach us. It seems after all we were. I need to stop eating chili before I go to bed.

 

Posted by Martin at 11:44 PM | Comments (3)

May 11, 2005

Notes from the Garden Journal: Capitol Pill

Common sense security for Washington officials during times of war

 

 

Maybe it’s time to ask ourselves: why do we not already have a common underground bunker for certain government officials, civilian employees and press.

 

Too expensive Compared to what? We already know that a terrorist attack might include provisions for intercepting the mass of people pouring out of and gathering around the Capitol, the White House and the Supreme Court. These three targets present three of the best such in Washington – not merely for their cosmetic symbolic value, but for the real impact such an event would have on disrupting the operation of government. And how much more so the case if a majority of legislators in particular were killed? So ultimately it is more likely even an average terrorist attack would be geared toward maximum kill over maximum cosmetic damage - and who can calculate the cost of that? This is war, is it not – and we should be doing what any serious party must in order to protect its assets rather than sitting helplessly as they naively stream out onto public streets and then wait like sitting ducks.

 

We have good security I agree – and this will probably keep out the muggers who overrun the rest of the city. But a few shot guns will not stop a serious, well-planned onslaughtparticularly if they arrive via air or road or both.

 

Impractical In a war which might last 10 or more years and the guarantee of future conflicts so long as our great nation exists, this seems at least to me something of obvious necessity and for which the moment has arrived. As President Bush rightly pointed out, we are no longer isolated from ready attacks by rogue nations or groups of terrorists supported by rogue nations. There is little doubt that had we been a contending European country we would have already put such protection in place by the middle of World War II at the latest. Our nation's most important resources are no longer protected by vast oceans and since this clearly is now the case it seems to me to behoove us to come to grips with the all too realistic historical fact: at some point someone is going to kick our little ant hill over. Shall those inside run out and risk being squashed underfoot or will they by the fruit of our own wise diligence be offered passage underground to the safety of the nest? I can't see why any country as prosperous as our own should not invest in the security of those placed there on our behalf.

 

Posted by Martin at 12:49 PM | Comments (2)

April 20, 2005

Blogbat's Site of the Day: Baboon Pirates

 

 

 

Fellow Texas blogger El Capitan at Baboon Pirates explaines spyware in the common tongue. And then he tells us what he really thinks.

 

Posted by Martin at 11:35 AM | Comments (2)