26 September 2016

Quote of the Day

Frankly, I'm lucky to be alive. On Saturday, in the ballroom of a conference center here, I was in dangerous proximity to a bullsh%$ singularity, which, as you know, is the physical phenomenon of a one-dimensional point that contains a huge mass of bullsh%$ in an infinitely small space. I could have been converted into pure bullsh%$ energy and fired off through space and time, never to return. The one-dimensional point that contained a huge mass of bullsh%$ in an infinitely small space had a name. It was Kenneth Starr.
Charlie Pierce
Starr was at a talk suggesting that the rapes by Baylor football players was not a big deal.

If it weren't for this opening paragraph, I would have used the line, "Let us pause here for a moment and note that, for sheer indefensible moral sanctimony, Ken Starr makes Jim Bakker look like Axl Rose."

Read the rest.

I Am Watching the Debates

And I am feeling the urge to gouge my own eyeballs out with a spoon, and puncture my eardrums with an ice pick.

I'm just saying.

On the Horns of a Dilemma

Part of me thinks that I should listen to the Presidential Debate, so that I can see how the candidates address the issues off the day.

Another part of me thinks that the debates will just be shallow reality television, as they she been since I was old enough to vote.

And finally, there is my spleen, which finds listening to either candidate skin to nails on a chalk board.

I know that my spleen is correct, but just because watching the debates will be as much fun as a home root canal kit, but that doesn't mean l shouldn't watch.



Posted via mobile.

25 September 2016

Pass the Popcorn

Pass the Popcorn
The corruption investigations have now swept up some former senior advisors to Governor Andrew Cuomo:
Federal and state prosecutors on Thursday announced charges against 10 men, including two onetime senior advisers to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in corruption and fraud cases involving state contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The charges followed a federal investigation into Buffalo Billion, a signature $1 billion economic development project of Cuomo aimed at revitalizing the area around the city of Buffalo, once an upstate industrial powerhouse.

Joseph Percoco, a former executive deputy secretary to the governor; Alain Kaloyeros, president of the State University of New York's Polytechnic Institute; and six others were charged in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan.

Todd Howe, a lobbyist and an ex-adviser to Cuomo when he led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, pleaded guilty to federal charges and is cooperating. Richard Morvillo, his lawyer, said Howe "will testify truthfully if called upon."

Prosecutors said in one scheme, Percoco, whom they called Cuomo's "right-hand-man," sought $315,000 in bribes in exchange for offering help to two of Howe's corporate clients, an energy company and a Syracuse real estate developer.

In an overlapping scheme, they said, Kaloyeros, who oversaw a grant application process for Buffalo Billion and similar programs, and Howe, whom he hired to help develop projects, conspired to rig bids for contracts favoring two developers.
There is still nothing tying hizzonner to any of this, but it is increasingly clear that Cuomo was knowingly swimming in a sea of corruption, so some wetness is a logical conclusion.

I'm inclined to think that Cuomo's aspirations of national office have become significantly less likely over the past few years.

Our Foreign Policy is Going Swimmingly

Despite US sanctions, Russia is now top wheat exporter, proving sanctions won’t work - MarketWatch:
Wheat, the world-feeding crop whose shortage was Pharaoh’s nightmare, is now at such a global surplus that last month its price was less than two-thirds its level in 2008.

………

Wheat prices have plummeted not for a circumstantial reason, like weather-driven bumper crops, nor for a cyclical reason like a major buyer’s recession. Though some such factors have been at play in this market, they were marginal compared with the structural fact that Russia, once an agricultural laggard, has joined the industry’s leaders — big time.

The first meaning of this far-reaching development is not about Russia’s place in the world, but about the commodity markets’ beauty.

………

Blessed with endless expanses of exceptionally fertile land known as “black earth,” Russia is doing to the grain markets what shale did to oil.

Russia’s annual wheat output, which 20 years ago was just under 35 million metric tons, is expected to cross the 70 million metric ton barrier this year. Nearly half that volume will be exported, making Russian media celebrate Russia’s emergence as the world’s largest wheat exporter.

This is the same Russia that, back when it was under Soviet management, depended on Western grain imports because it failed to use its rich soil to feed its people, a glaring embarrassment that mocked Moscow’s imperial ambitions and inspired its younger leaders’ economic heresy.

………

Now, the markets attest that Russia’s agrarian reform has been a smashing success, so much so that U.S. government charts show that Russia has just surpassed Uncle Sam in wheat production.

………

Russia’s new agricultural prowess has just made its farm exports surpass its arms sales for the first time ever. Earning $20 billion abroad last year, 15% more than the previous year, agriculture’s evolving centrality in the Russian economy is evidently part of a governmental design.
Modern Agriculture, like pretty much everything else, runs on credit, and theoretically, the international credit markets have been inaccessible to Russia, but they are now the largest exporter of wheat in the world.

Our sanctions were supposed to prevent this, but they don't because we've worn out the proverbial batteries.

This Program is Going so Swimmingly

Another F-35 had an engine fire on the ground, after the problem was supposed to be fixed:
An F-35A caught fire during an exercise at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, the Air Force confirmed to Defense News.

The incident took place at around noon and involved an F-35A aircraft from the 61st Fighter Squadron located at Luke Air Force Base, the service said in a statement. No serious injuries seem to have been sustained by the pilot or nearby crew.

"The pilot had to egress the aircraft during engine start due to a fire from the aft section of the aircraft," Air Force spokesman Capt. Mark Graff said in an email. "The fire was extinguished quickly. As a precautionary measure, four 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit Airmen, three Airmen from the 366th Maintenance Group and the 61st Fighter Squadron pilot were transported to the base medical center for standard evaluation."

Seven F-35As from Luke AFB, which is one of the bases responsible for joint strike fighter pilot instruction, had deployed to Mountain Home to conduct surface-to-air training from Sept. 10 to 24.

The root cause of the event is under investigation, Graff stated.
To describe this program ill-starred is an understatement.

Krebs on Security is Back Online

The security blogger's highly regarded site was taken down by a massive DDOS attack, which forced Akamai to drop him from their protection system:
………

However, events of the past week have convinced me that one of the fastest-growing censorship threats on the Internet today comes not from nation-states, but from super-empowered individuals who have been quietly building extremely potent cyber weapons with transnational reach.

More than 20 years after Gilmore first coined that turn of phrase, his most notable quotable has effectively been inverted — “Censorship can in fact route around the Internet.” The Internet can’t route around censorship when the censorship is all-pervasive and armed with, for all practical purposes, near-infinite reach and capacity. I call this rather unwelcome and hostile development the “The Democratization of Censorship.”

Allow me to explain how I arrived at this unsettling conclusion. As many of you know, my site was taken offline for the better part of this week. The outage came in the wake of a historically large distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack which hurled so much junk traffic at Krebsonsecurity.com that my DDoS protection provider Akamai chose to unmoor my site from its protective harbor.

Let me be clear: I do not fault Akamai for their decision. I was a pro bono customer from the start, and Akamai and its sister company Prolexic have stood by me through countless attacks over the past four years. It just so happened that this last siege was nearly twice the size of the next-largest attack they had ever seen before. Once it became evident that the assault was beginning to cause problems for the company’s paying customers, they explained that the choice to let my site go was a business decision, pure and simple.

………

Today, I am happy to report that the site is back up — this time under Project Shield, a free program run by Google to help protect journalists from online censorship. And make no mistake, DDoS attacks — particularly those the size of the assault that hit my site this week — are uniquely effective weapons for stomping on free speech, for reasons I’ll explore in this post.

Why do I speak of DDoS attacks as a form of censorship? Quite simply because the economics of mitigating large-scale DDoS attacks do not bode well for protecting the individual user, to say nothing of independent journalists.

In an interview with The Boston Globe, Akamai executives said the attack — if sustained — likely would have cost the company millions of dollars. In the hours and days following my site going offline, I spoke with multiple DDoS mitigation firms. One offered to host KrebsOnSecurity for two weeks at no charge, but after that they said the same kind of protection I had under Akamai would cost between $150,000 and $200,000 per year.

………

What exactly was it that generated the record-smashing DDoS of 620 Gbps against my site this week? Was it a space-based weapon of mass disruption built and tested by a rogue nation-state, or an arch villain like SPECTRE from the James Bond series of novels and films? If only the enemy here was that black-and-white.

No, as I reported in the last blog post before my site was unplugged, the enemy in this case was far less sexy. There is every indication that this attack was launched with the help of a botnet that has enslaved a large number of hacked so-called “Internet of Things,” (IoT) devices — mainly routers, IP cameras and digital video recorders (DVRs) that are exposed to the Internet and protected with weak or hard-coded passwords. Most of these devices are available for sale on retail store shelves for less than $100, or — in the case of routers — are shipped by ISPs to their customers.

Some readers on Twitter have asked why the attackers would have “burned” so many compromised systems with such an overwhelming force against my little site. After all, they reasoned, the attackers showed their hand in this assault, exposing the Internet addresses of a huge number of compromised devices that might otherwise be used for actual money-making cybercriminal activities, such as hosting malware or relaying spam. Surely, network providers would take that list of hacked devices and begin blocking them from launching attacks going forward, the thinking goes.
The sheer disproportionality of the attack made one of his Krebs readers notes that this is odd, it's like the Death Star being tested out on the Millennium Falcon, rather than Alderran, but Krebs notes that with connectivity providers ignoring a very basic 12 year old protocol, (BCP38) it's more like there are an infinite supply of cloned warriors.  (Mostly, I prefer not to use Star Wars analogies myself.)

My thought is that this was a test. Krebs on Security was a well protected target, but taking it off line for a few days is not a huge deal in the scheme of things.

I think that it was a dress rehearsal, and so the question is what is going to be the main event.

The Stupidest Idea of the Year Doesn't Come From Donald Trump

It turns out that someone doesn't know his history, and thinks that a nuclear powered hypersonic airliner is somehow a good idea.

I would suggest that a review of the attempts at nuclear aircraft propulsion in the 1950s, including the nearly catastrophic tests on the NB-36H, where there was a (thankfully) minor airborne fire during testing:
Could this be the first nuclear powered airliner?

Currently, you would have to sit in a plane for eight or more hours after taking off from London Heathrow airport bound for New York’s J.F.K airport. Even first class travelling may not be fun in this case.

Imagine if you were told that within three hours someone could rush you over Atlantic Ocean and put you at J.F.K NY in a very comfortable plane as if you were in first class. Imagine if this were done with a speed of around 2300 mph/3,682Km/h.
They article suggests to that once fusion is perfected (magical thinking) it will be all hunky dory.

While the byproducts of Fusion are far more benign than those of fission, this is still an intensely stupid idea.

24 September 2016

Corbyn Wins Labour Leadership Race

It wasn't even close. He won with even more votes and a larger majority than the last election:
Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to “wipe the slate clean” after winning a convincing victory in Labour’s bitter leadership battle, securing 62% of the vote.

Rolling coverage of the announcement of the result of the Labour leadership election

Speaking after the result was declared in Liverpool, Corbyn thanked his rival, Owen Smith, and urged the “Labour family” to unite after the summer-long contest.

“We have much more in common than that which divides us,” he said. “Let’s wipe that slate clean from today and get on with the work we’ve got to do as a party together.”

Corbyn secured 61.8% of the vote to Smith’s 38.2%. The victory strengthens his hold on a party that has expanded dramatically since the 2015 general election and now has more than 500,000 members. In last year’s contest, he won 59.5% of the vote.

Corbyn won a majority over Smith in every category – members (59%), registered supporters (70%) and trades union affiliates (60%).
My prediction: The Blairites will attempt to sabotage Labour in the next general election, because this is how they roll.

One of the constants I've observed in politics is that the right wing of a political party, whether it be the Democrats, Republicans, Tories, or Labour, are willing to lose elections to enhance their power within the party.

I think that this is because they not are in politics to do things, they are in politics to tear things down.

Barbarians could sack Rome, but they could never have built it.

Today in Badassery

How can i not invoke William Shatner's unique performance in TJ Hooker?
Janelle Della-Libera had her purse snatched while she was fueling her car, and promptly jumped on the hood of the perpetrator's car in an attempt to retrieve her purse:
Janelle Irene Della-Libera was filling up the gas tank on the passenger side of her Volkswagen Tiguan at a Dania Beach Mobil station when she heard the driver's door of the SUV open and close.

A man was captured on video stealing Della-Libera's $300 black Kate Spade purse on Saturday afternoon. And within seconds, the 32-year-old Fort Lauderdale woman leaped onto the front windshield of his Cadillac DeVille sedan.

From her precarious perch, Della-Libera was filmed reaching inside the open door to try and keep him at the station, at 3991 Stirling Rd., the Broward Sheriff's Office said.

The driver made a sharp turn, Della-Libera lost her balance and tumbled head first to the pavement, where the Cadillac ran over her left ankle, according to the video and a deputy's incident report.

After she caught her breath, Della-Libera seemed to regret her actions.

"He could have killed me," Della-Libera told WPLG-Ch.10. "What if he had a gun? What if he would have been more vicious?...The scenario could have played out so much worse."
Like a significant portion of bad-ass behavior, it was not perhaps the wisest thing to do, because life is not TJ Hooker.

Well, He Promised the Veto

Obama has vetoed the "Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act", which allows survivors of the 911 attacks to sue the government of Saudi Arabia:
President Obama vetoed legislation on Friday that would allow families of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to sue the government of Saudi Arabia for any role in the plot, setting up an extraordinary confrontation with a Congress that unanimously backed the bill and has vowed to uphold it.

Mr. Obama’s long-anticipated veto of the measure, known as the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, is the 12th of his presidency. But unless those who oppose the bill can persuade lawmakers to drop their support by next week, it will lead to the first congressional override of a veto during Mr. Obama’s presidency — a familiar experience for presidents in the waning months of their terms.

In his veto message to Congress, Mr. Obama said the legislation “undermines core U.S. interests,” upending the normal means by which the government singles out foreign nations as state sponsors of terrorism and opening American officials and military personnel to legal jeopardy. It would put United States assets at risk of seizure by private litigants overseas and “create complications” in diplomatic relations with other countries, he added.

“I have deep sympathy for the amilies of the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, who have suffered grievously,” fMr. Obama wrote. But enacting the measure “would neither protect Americans from terrorist attacks nor improve the effectiveness of our response to such attacks.”
Not a surprise.

The DC consensus is that the House of Saud is an essential ally, and Obama is very much unable to see beyond the DC consensus.

What's more, his DCIA, John Brennan, has been a big fan of Riyadh ever since his days as station chief in Saudi Arabia.

I think that this veto will be overridden, for 2 reasons:
  • Republicans want to give Obama a great big f%$# you.
  • Any member of Congress, of either party, who votes to support the veto will be literally be writing their opponent's ads for the upcoming election.
Truth be told, Obama deserves to lose this one.

The House of Saud has spent decades creating the infrastructure of terrorism, and 911, or something like it, was a foreseeable result.

Quote of the Day

I just wish there was some sort of respectful, silent, civil protest that people could engage in that wouldn't enrage the other side.
Stephen Colbert
He then showed a picture of Colin Kaepernik kneeling silently during the national anthem.

This was f%$#ing brilliant.

Bit about Keepernik starts at about 1:10:

Linkage



Philomwna Cunk explains time. (Devastating funny satire)

23 September 2016

It's Bank Failure Friday!!!

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.
  1. Allied Bank, Mulberry, Ar
Full FDIC list

So, here is the graph pr0n with last few years numbers for comparison (FDIC only):
 

About F%$#ing Time

After more than 75 years. California Farm Workers have finally got the right to overtime pay:
California just approved the strongest overtime pay legislation in the nation for farmworkers, long exempt from overtime standards mandated for most other occupations.

The legislation, known as AB 1066, was signed into law this week by Gov. Jerry Brown and will eventually result in time-and-a-half pay for farmworkers who work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week.

“This bill corrects 78 years of discrimination, not just in the state but in the country,” says Juan Garcia, an internal coordinator with the United Farm Workers (UFW). “Most of the people that I’ve talked to here in Sonoma that have worked 30, sometimes 40 years—they’ve been waiting for something like this.”

Nationwide, almost all farmworkers are exempt from overtime thresholds thanks to agricultural worker exemptions in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The law excluded farmworkers in order to appease Dixiecrat leaders who objected to minimum wage and overtime federal standards for the mostly black farmworkers of the time.

………

Under AB 1066, the state will reduce the overtime threshold by half an hour every year, starting in 2019, until it reaches the 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week standard in 2022. AB 1066 affects the roughly 800,000 farmworkers in California, one-third of all agricultural laborers in the country according to 2014 estimates by Philip Martin, professor of agricultural economics at the University of California, Davis. These workers earn, on average, between $16,500 and $19,000 a year, according to Martin and other researchers at UC Davis. When employed by farm labor contractors, instead of growers directly, farmworkers, on average, earn even less—an estimated $12,719 per year. The California Research Bureau reports that approximately 30 percent of California households with farm laborer incomes are below the poverty line.
The horrible conditions that farm workers labor under are a searing indictment of the US agricultural industry.

Let's Talk About the Backstory Here

When Dassault won the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) contract, it wanted to partner with Reliance Industries, but the Indian Government insisted on local co-production be conducted by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the company that took over 30 years to deliver the massively under-performing Tejas fighter aircraft.

When Dassault saw the level of technical competence at HAL, they refused to work with them, figuring that it would be a complete horror show, and they would be on the hook for this, so now we have India signing a deal for 36 French made fighters:
India has concluded a deal to acquire 36 Dassault Rafale fighters, with a contract signed in New Delhi by the nation’s defence minister, Manohar Parrikar, and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on 23 September.

The deal is worth €7.75 billion ($8.69 billion) for the French-built aircraft along with associated weapons and a support package.

Finalisation of the contract brings to a close a long-running acquisition process to equip the Indian air force with the Rafale, which was selected as the winner of its medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender in 2012, defeating the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon. Other previous candidates for the deal included the Lockheed Martin F-16, RAC MiG-35 and Saab Gripen.

The air force was originally slated to acquire 126 aircraft via the programme, but the original deal ran aground over cost concerns. [Cost concerns my ass. Dassault found HAL incapable of executing a co-production deal] It was revived by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to France in 2105, when he declared that 36 aircraft would be acquired in “fly-away” condition from Dassault. This was keeping in view the “critical operational necessity” of the service, he said at the time.
This was the Rafale's first foreign sale, and it was a very big deal for Dassault, but they could not get co-production to work, but the fact that they had this order made it a viable choice on other foreign markets, which is why there are sales to Egypt and Qatar as well, so the deal, even if much diminished was a lifesaver for the Rafale production line.

The ineptitude of the Indian defense establishment in developing new systems (see the Tejas, the Arjun
 tank, the INSAS rifle system, etc.) remains staggering.