30 November 2017

Russia Slams Breaks on SU-57

The Kremlin’s new state armament plan, which will run from 2018-2027, will continue modernization of the Russian Aerospace Forces. However, while Russia will continue to buy modern combat aircraft such as the Sukhoi Su-35S Flanker-E air superiority fighter and the Su-34 Fullback bomber, Moscow is not likely to make large purchases of the fifth-generation Su-57 PAK-FA stealth fighter until after 2027.

“The Su-57 is not expected to enter into serial production until upgraded engines are ready, which is unlikely to happen until 2027,” Center for Naval Analyses senior research scientist Dmitry Gorenburg wrote in a new PONARS Policy Memo. “Over the next eight years, Russia will continue to purchase small numbers of these planes for testing.”


During the coming years, the Russian air force is likely to focus on addressing support aircraft such strategic airlifters and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance planes. Moreover, the Russians will also have to address persistent problem with their aerial refueling capabilities.

“Transport and refueling aircraft, long an area of weakness for the Russian air force, will be one area of focus,” Gorenburg wrote. “Serial production of the long-troubled Ilyushin Il-76-MD90A is expected to start in 2019, and the Russian military is expecting to receive 10-12 such aircraft per year thereafter. A light transport aircraft is under development, with prototypes expected to be completed in 2024.”
Obviously, this is not an official announcement by Russia, but it makes sense.

Refueling, transport, and AEW are significant weaknesses in the current Russian aviation forces, and their fighter force is largely recapitalized, so it's a case of focusing resources on the most obvious weaknesses.

Today in Wicked Stupid Ideas

Preempting state private carry laws with an NRA wet dream:
The National Rifle Association has called the concealed carry bill, which would make it easier for gun owners to keep their firearms hidden when crossing state lines, its “highest legislative priority in Congress.” Despite concerns raised by Democrats about states’ rights and domestic violence, the Republican-controlled Congress has pushed the proposal one step closer to becoming law.

The House Judiciary Committee late Wednesday voted 19-11 for the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, which would amend the federal criminal code to allow the concealed transport of handguns across state lines, so long as both states allow it. States will not be able to impose their individual requirements for a concealed carry license on armed travelers from other states

Republicans rejected Democratic amendments that would ban violent offenders from qualifying under the law, as well as a change that would have prevented forum shopping, which means a New York resident barred from obtaining a concealed carry permit could instead send away for one from somewhere else. The bill, which has more than 200 co-sponsors, almost all Republicans, now heads for the floor of the 435-member House. A similar bill, with 38 Republican co-sponsors, is pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee.


Moms Demand Action, a gun control group that attended Wednesday’s hearing, has also attacked the bill, arguing it “is a chaotic and dangerous policy that would gut every state’s gun laws and make our communities less safe.”

The group argues that the bill “would effectively turn the weakest state’s laws into nationwide laws” because conceal carry laws vary state by state. For example, convicted stalkers are banned from concealed carry in some states, but not all, and the age for concealed carry also varies. In the event the bill passes, a Georgia permit, a state that allows abusive partners to carry hidden firearms, would become effective in New York, a state that currently doesn’t recognize any other state’s conceal carry permits.
 We live in an insane world.

They want to turn the whole country into Texas.

I Cannot Believe that I Just Said This

I know hwo they feel
I just told my daughter, "Just Say No!."

Admittedly, it wasn't about drugs, it was about not installing the associated crapware that came with a free printer to PDF driver, but still, I said the phrase.

I feel deep shame.

29 November 2017

It's Called Control Fraud. It Can Also Be Called Looting.

The LA Times guild, who is trying to unionize the newspaper, details how much senior executives at TRONC (formerly Tribune Publishing) are overpaying themselves while starving the business:
It’s a question we hear often: How would Tronc pay for the raises and improved benefits we’ll pursue through our union?

Well, the answer is that a great deal of money continues to flow into The Times, because of the high-quality journalism our newsroom produces every day. At a recent all-hands meeting, Ross Levinsohn said Tronc still earns $1.5 billion in annual revenue and remains profitable.

The problem is that a disproportionate amount of those profits are lavished on the salaries and perks for Levinsohn and a handful of other richly compensated Tronc executives.

The Columbia Journalism Review noted Monday that executive compensation at Tronc shot up 80% last year — a nearly $9 million jump over 2015. That squares with the findings below from a NewsGuild analysis of Tronc’s SEC filings.


Michael Ferro’s private jet alone costs the company millions. From February 2016 through September of this year, Tronc spent $4.6 million to sublease and operate the sleek Bombardier aircraft, which costs $8,500 an hour to fly. The kicker? Tronc subleases the jet from Merrick Ventures, one of Ferro’s companies.


Last year, Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn made an eye-popping $8.1 million in total compensation. He made substantially more than his counterparts at The New York Times Co., Gannett Corp., Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal and McClatchy, among others. In fact, Dearborn’s compensation was $3 million more than that of New York Times CEO Mark Thompson, whose company has revenues similar to ours but a market value many multiples of Tronc’s. Plus, Thompson took a pay cut in 2016 because he did not meet his performance goals.


If executives were paid more in line with their industry peers, the savings alone would finance thousands of dollars in annual raises, lower out-of pocket healthcare costs, accrued vacation (that was taken away unilaterally), and perhaps even lower parking fees. In fact, if Dearborn last year had made the same as his New York Times counterpart – a “mere” $5 million – the $3 million in savings could provide a raise of about $8,000 to everyone in our Guild bargaining unit.
Given the performance of the company, these guys may be the most overpaid senior executives in media, including Harvey Weinstein.

Why We Loathe Them

Guess what?

The Day that the FCC announced that it was going to eliminate net neutrality, Comcast wiped its pledge to abide by net neutrality from its web pages.

Why am I not surprised?
We wrote earlier this week about how Comcast has changed its promises to uphold net neutrality by pulling back from previous statements that it won't charge websites or other online applications for fast lanes.

Comcast spokesperson Sena Fitzmaurice has been claiming that we got the story wrong. But a further examination of how Comcast's net neutrality promises have changed over time reveals another interesting tidbit—Comcast deleted a "no paid prioritization" pledge from its net neutrality webpage on the very same day that the Federal Communications Commission announced its initial plan to repeal net neutrality rules.

Starting in 2014, the webpage, corporate.comcast.com/openinternet/open-net-neutrality, contained this statement: "Comcast doesn't prioritize Internet traffic or create paid fast lanes."

That statement remained on the page until April 26 of this year, according to page captures from the Internet Archive's WayBack Machine.

But on April 27, the paid prioritization pledge was nowhere to be found on that page and remains absent now.

What changed? It was on April 26 that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the first version of his plan to eliminate net neutrality rules. Since then, Pai has finalized his repeal plan, and the FCC will vote to drop the rules on December 14.
I think that if Uber moved to Philadelphia, where Comcast's HQ is located, or if Comcast moved to next door to Uber in San Francisco, the concentration of pure evil would be such that a singularity of evil would be formed that would distort space and time for hundreds of miles.

Hell, it might cause in space and time.

Worst Job in the World

Another day, another cache of toxic waste from the Kalanick era of Uber.

Now, they have pissed off the judge in the trade secret theft lawsuit against them because they have been discovered to be lying in court:
A letter that detailed a secretive effort at Uber to gather intelligence on competitors and cover its tracks has the ride-hailing company on the defensive in a legal fight that has gripped Silicon Valley since February.

On Tuesday, the discovery of the letter caused a federal judge to delay a trade secrets trial — a day before jury selection was set to begin — between Uber and Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

Judge William Alsup of Federal District Court in San Francisco was alerted to the letter’s existence by the United States attorney’s office in Northern California. The judge accused Uber’s lawyers of withholding evidence, forcing him to delay the trial until Waymo’s lawyers could gather more information.

“I can no longer trust the words of the lawyers for Uber in this case,” Judge Alsup said. “If even half of what is in that letter is true, it would be an injustice for Waymo to go to trial.”

Waymo sued Uber in February, claiming that a former engineer, Anthony Levandowski, conspired with Uber to steal trade secrets from Waymo. On Tuesday, Judge Alsup repeatedly rebuked Uber’s lawyers for not sharing the document with the court. “You should have come clean with this long ago,” he said.

The letter was written in May or June by a lawyer for Richard Jacobs, a former Uber employee, to Angela Padilla, deputy general counsel at Uber. Uber hired Mr. Jacobs in March 2016 as its manager of global intelligence and fired him in April of this year, Mr. Jacobs testified in court on Tuesday. He is now a paid security consultant for Uber, after receiving a $4.5 million settlement following his dismissal.

In discussions with other Uber employees, Mr. Jacobs testified, he learned of an internal organization that gathered trade secrets, code and other information about its competitors. It was called the “marketplace analytics team,” according to the letter, which had been redacted by Uber. The group frequented the code-sharing site GitHub, searching for private material that may have been accidentally revealed by competitors.

This Uber team also led efforts “to evade, impede, obstruct, influence several ongoing lawsuits against Uber,” according to the letter. The team also tried to find out what other companies were doing. And in 2016, Uber hired a man named Ed Russo to help recruit employees of competitors to steal trade secrets, according to the letter.

This group relied on “anonymous” servers separate from the rest of the Uber network, and some employees were expected to rely on devices that encrypted or automatically deleted messages after a certain amount of time, Mr. Jacobs testified. Email was a last resort.


“The evidence brought to light over the weekend by the U.S. attorney’s office and revealed, in part, today in court is significant and troubling,” said Johnny Luu, a Waymo spokesman. “The continuance we were granted gives us the opportunity to fully investigate this new, highly relevant information.”
(emphasis mine)

This is the first time I have ever heard of prosecutors doing this in a related civil trial.

Also, the judge has probably cause to instruct the jury that Uber have lied to the court, and that the absence of evidence can be assumed to be interpreted in the most negative way.

This is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

28 November 2017

Thanks, Hillary*

8000 Miles from Pyonyang
It was inevitable once Qaddafi was overthrown in Libya.

His dismantling of his WMD program, followed shortly by an overthrow led by the US, made it clear to anyone on the world stage that the US cannot be trusted to keep its international agreements

"We came, we saw, he died," and now the DPRK has successfully flown a missile with sufficient range to strike all of the United States:
North Korea claimed the entire United States mainland was within reach after “successfully” testing a new kind of intercontinental ballistic missile, which it called the Hwasong-15, and said could carry a “super large heavy warhead.”

While Pyongyang is prone to exaggeration, its boast of having all of the United States in range is in line with experts’ calculations that the missile launched Wednesday, which flew 10 times higher than the International Space Station, could theoretically reach Washington, D.C.

“With this system, we can load the heaviest warhead and strike anywhere in the mainland United States,” North Korea’s most famous newsreader, Ri Chun Hee, said in a special live broadcast on state television. “This missile is far more technologically advanced than July’s Hwasong-14. This signifies that our rocket development process has been completed.”


The missile logged a longer flight time than any of its predecessors and went farther into the atmosphere than ever before, reaching a height of 2,800 miles. The International Space Station, by comparison, is 240 miles above the Earth.


If the missile had flown on a standard trajectory designed to maximize its reach, it would have a range of more than 8,100 miles, said David Wright, co-director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The leadership of the DPRK believes that we intend the same for them that we did for Libya.

Given our record, it's not a completely crazy opinion to hold, and nuclear deterrence of the US is a sensible and sane strategy given this world view.

I would note that if they have 50 kg or so to spare in the warhead, it's likely that they could put decoys and other penetration aides (penaids) in the missile, which would greatly complicate mid-course interception.

We're in a fine mess.

*Hillary Clinton was the strongest advocate of the overthrow of Libya, which Obama, at least, had the self awareness to describe as his worst mistake.
Yes, I am quoting an article from a web site called American Conservative, whose author works for the Cato Institute. What can I say? A stopped clock is right wtice a day.

Lame Major Political Party of the Day

The Democratic Party, of course, because the Republicans are not lame, they are f%$#ing terrifying and insane.

There are lamer parties out there among the small fry **cough** Prohibition Party  **cough**, but they really don't count, because ……… Well, because.

Brought to you by the guys who gave us the most expensive House of Representatives race ever, to the tune of more than $30 million for which they had a candidate who was determined to stand for nothing.

Seriously. Why to these folks have jobs, and who the hell is wasting their money on their salaries?

Adventures in Speech Recognition

As the worst trombone player in the history of the Woodrow Wilson High School band, I felt compelled to post this.

27 November 2017

A Feature, Not a Bug

The Senate Republican tax plan gives substantial tax cuts and benefits to Americans earning more than $100,000 a year, while the nation’s poorest would be worse off, according to a report released Sunday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Republicans are aiming to have the full Senate vote on the tax plan as early as this week, but the new CBO analysis showing large, harmful effects on the poor may complicate those plans. The CBO also said the bill would add $1.4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, a potential problem for Republican lawmakers worried about America’s growing debt.

Democrats have repeatedly slammed the bill as a giveaway to the rich at the expense of the poor. In addition to lowering taxes for businesses and many individuals, the Senate bill also makes a major change to health insurance that the CBO projects would have a harsh impact on lower-income families.

By 2019, Americans earning less than $30,000 a year would be worse off under the Senate bill, CBO found. By 2021, Americans earning $40,000 or less would be net losers, and by 2027, most people earning less than $75,000 a year would be worse off. On the flip side, millionaires and those earning $100,000 to $500,000 would be big beneficiaries, according to the CBO’s calculations. (In the CBO table below, negative signs mean people in those income brackets pay less in taxes).
Silly rabbit.  Republicans think that people are poor because they are evil, and that people are rich because they are virtuous.

Just ask the Kochs.

Quote of the Day

The Saudis are going to fight Tehran to the last dead American
Larry Wilkerson
The House of Saud is not an ally.

The Evil James O'Keeve Is at It Again

This is Not Star Trek. In Startrek, the Evil Spock has a goatee. In our world the evil James O'Keefe is clean shaven, and the good one, a cat-herder for the Massachusetts Pirate Party, has a goatee.

Please note that there are two James O'Keefes, 

This time, he unsuccessfully tried to plant a false story with the Washington Post:
A woman who falsely claimed to The Washington Post that Roy Moore, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama, impregnated her as a teenager appears to work with an organization that uses deceptive tactics to secretly record conversations in an effort to embarrass its targets.

In a series of interviews over two weeks, the woman shared a dramatic story about an alleged sexual relationship with Moore in 1992 that led to an abortion when she was 15. During the interviews, she repeatedly pressed Post reporters to give their opinions on the effects that her claims could have on Moore’s candidacy if she went public.

The Post did not publish an article based on her unsubstantiated account. When Post reporters confronted her with inconsistencies in her story and an Internet posting that raised doubts about her motivations, she insisted that she was not working with any organization that targets journalists.

But on Monday morning, Post reporters saw her walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas, an organization that targets the mainstream news media and left-leaning groups. The organization sets up undercover “stings” that involve using false cover stories and covert video recordings meant to expose what the group says is media bias.

James O’Keefe, the Project Veritas founder who was convicted of a misdemeanor in 2010 for using a fake identity to enter a federal building during a previous sting, declined to answer questions about the woman outside the organization’s offices on Monday morning shortly after the woman walked inside.

“I am not doing an interview right now, so I’m not going to say a word,” O’Keefe said.

In a follow-up interview, O’Keefe declined to answer repeated questions about whether the woman was employed at Project Veritas. He also did not respond when asked if he was working with Moore, former White House adviser and Moore supporter Stephen K. Bannon, or Republican strategists.

The group’s efforts illustrate the lengths to which activists have gone to try to discredit media outlets for reporting on allegations from multiple women that Moore pursued them when they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s. Moore has denied that he did anything improper.

A spokesman for Moore’s campaign did not respond to a message seeking comment.

The woman who approached Post reporters, Jaime T. Phillips, did not respond to calls to her cellphone later Monday. Her car remained in the Project Veritas parking lot for more than an hour.

The Post positioned videographers outside the group’s office in Mamaroneck, N.Y, after determining that Phillips lives in Stamford, Conn., and realizing that the two locations were just 16 miles apart. Two reporters followed her from her home as she drove to the office.

After Phillips was observed entering the Project Veritas office, The Post made the unusual decision to report her previous off-the-record comments.

“We always honor ‘off-the-record’ agreements when they’re entered into in good faith,” said Martin Baron, The Post’s executive editor. “But this so-called off-the-record conversation was the essence of a scheme to deceive and embarrass us. The intent by Project Veritas clearly was to publicize the conversation if we fell for the trap. Because of our customary journalistic rigor, we weren’t fooled, and we can’t honor an ‘off-the-record’ agreement that was solicited in maliciously bad faith.”
Your Kung Fu is weak, old man.

Get a real job Mr. O'Keefe. 

I would suggest a night watchman, a lighthouse keeper, or the Taliban.

You really need to separate yourself from civilized society.

I Will No Longer Say That Bernie Would Have Beaten Trump

In the future, I will say that Michael Dukkakis would have beaten Trump.

That is all.

Who Says that Irony is Dead?

White House Memo Justifying CFPB Takeover Was Written By Payday Lender Attorney

Seriously. We live in Bizarro World.

What a Pathetic Whiny Loser

I am referring, of course, to Anthony Scaramucci, who has threatened a college student with a defamation suit for a nasty editorial.

Oh, you poor delicate snowflake:
Tufts University postponed a Monday event featuring Anthony Scaramucci, a former Trump White House spokesman, after he threatened to sue a student and the school newspaper for defamation following the publication of an op-ed column criticizing him.

Scaramucci, a Tufts graduate, has served on an advisory board at Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy since 2016.

An attorney representing Scaramucci demanded in a letter that graduate student Camilo A. Caballero and The Tufts Daily newspaper retract “false and defamatory allegations of fact” about his client and issue an apology.

In an e-mail to Caballero, Scaramucci said the student had “suggested publicly” that Scaramucci had engaged in unethical behavior.

“So either back it up or you will hear from my lawyer,” Scaramucci wrote on Nov. 16. “You may have a difference of opinion from me politically which I respect but you can’t make spurious claims about my reputation and integrity.”
The ACLU has already offered to represent Caballero, and your alma mater has told you to get the f%$# out.

Cut ……… Your ……… Losses.


A dystopian view of autonomous weapons:

H/t JR at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

26 November 2017

Well, Good Luck with That

It turns out that refusing to do a postmortem of last year's electoral catastrophe, remaining arm in arm with the incompetent political consultant class, and stacking the process to favor the failed establishment has resulted in the people not wanting to donate to the Democratic National Committee (DNC):
The Democratic National Committee's fundraising woes continued last month, when the party posted its lowest total for the month of October in at least 15 years.
The DNC raised $3.9 million in October -- far short of the $9.2 million raised during the month by the Republican National Committee. 

The RNC has now raised $113.2 million over the 2017 calendar year and has $42.5 million in the bank and no debt. The DNC, meanwhile, has raised $55 million this year. It has $5 million cash on hand and owes $3.2 million in debts.

t was the worst October for Democrats dating back to 2003 -- the first year the national parties were required to file monthly finance reports. The low totals reflect the difficulty the DNC has had raising money since former President Barack Obama left office.
This is not a surprise.

While many donors, particularly the big money donors, don't have a problem with the corporate tool DNC, they do object to a process which preserves the jobs, authority, and privilege of a cadre of party officials who are venal, self-serving, and incompetent.

A Public Service Announcement Courtesy of Youtube

Note: Snopes is your friend.

Worst Bit of Journalism of the Year

The New York Times commissioned a profile of a Neo-Nazi white supremacist leader in Ohio, and it made Jimmy Fallon's softball interview of Trump on the Tonite Show, look like hard hitting journalism.

We discover that he worried about his wedding, that he goes shopping, that they eat at Applebee’s, that he loves the TV shows Twin Peaks and Seinfeld, etc.

Any number of people have excoriated the Times over this, and the author wrote a rather self-serving response to the criticism where he basically threw up his hands and said, "Sometimes a soul, and its shape, remain obscure to both writer and reader."

Basically, he said that there was no story there.

If there was no story, then he should have told his editor, and his editor should seen that there was no story, and should have spiked the story, because the alternative was a story that presented no insight, no information, and no news.

Absolute crap journalism.

Journalists and editors need to know when to cut their losses and walk away from a story.

25 November 2017


On November 15, Baltimore City police detective Sean Suiter was shot, the next day, he died.

We now know that the day after he was shot, he was scheduled to testify against fellow officers in a racketeering trial:
Last Wednesday, Detective Sean Suiter, along with an as-yet-unnamed partner, were in the West Baltimore neighborhood of Harlem Park. Suiter’s usual partner in the homicide unit, Detective Jonathan Jones, was off that day.

The police version of what happened, as relayed to the Baltimore Sun, goes like this: The detectives were looking for a witness to an unsolved triple homicide case that is nearly a year old when they spotted “suspicious activity” nearby. Suiter and his backup partner split up to cover different exits of the block. Suiter then confronted a man, who shot him in the head after the detective tried to speak. Suiter, an 18-year veteran of Baltimore’s police force, and a 43-year-old married father of five, was pronounced dead a day later, becoming the city’s 309th murder victim of 2017.


The neighborhood was promptly put on lockdown. Over the course of the week, the reward fund to find Suiter’s killer climbed to $215,000 – a figure experts think might be a state record. The Harlem Park neighborhood lockdown was justified as a way for cops to preserve the crime scene and collect evidence.


Six days after the murder, The Baltimore Sun reported that the city was entering “uncharted territory” for the police department, which usually apprehends police killers shortly after the fact. The longest it’s taken Baltimore police to do so over the last five decades was five days, in 1985. In that instance, the suspect had fled to Oklahoma.


The rumor that had been circulating through the neighborhood was that Suiter was preparing to testify against some of the seven officers indicted for racketeering charges in March. An eighth was indicted in August and a ninth last week. (The charges were filed by former U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, a month before he was named Deputy Attorney General in Trump’s Department of Justice. It was there he would have his moment in the historic sun. After Trump blamed him for firing FBI Director James Comey, he appointed special counsel Robert Mueller.)

A spokesperson for the current U.S. Attorney for Maryland told The Intercept on Monday that they could not comment on whether or not Suiter was planning on testifying in their case. But on Wednesday evening, Commissioner Davis confirmed that Suiter was in fact set to testify before a grand jury that Thursday, a day after he was shot. He also said that Suiter appeared to have been killed by his own weapon after a struggle.
(emphasis mine)

Despite the ubiquitous radio reports, I hadn't been following this case particularly closely, but it has suddenly become much more interesting.

24 November 2017

Your Astronomy Geeking of the Day

Astronomers have found the first interstellar object in the solar system, named 1I/2017 U1 (`Oumuamua):

A few weeks ago, we reported on a small object visiting from beyond our solar system. Now astronomers have scrutinized data from this object, which has been given the name `Oumuamua, and which must have traveled through space for millions of years before its chance encounter with our star system. The conclusion is that it’s a dark, reddish, highly-elongated rocky or high-metal-content object. And, indeed, it is the first known asteroid from interstellar space. These new results were published today (November 20, 2017) in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.

Some astronomers thought the object was a comet when the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawai`i first picked it up on October 19, as a faint point of light moving across the sky. Others thought it looked like a typical fast-moving small asteroid. As they tracked its motion through space, astronomers began to be able to calculate its orbit, showing beyond any doubt that this body did not originate from inside our solar system, like all other asteroids or comets ever observed.

Instead, this object was doubtless from interstellar space.


Bottom line: Astronomers report on the first known interstellar asteroid, which swept nearest our sun in September, then sped away again. Astronomers have named this object `Oumuamua and say it is dark red and very elongated.
For some reason, the Arthur C. Clarke novel Rendezvous with Rama comes to mind.

Proper Lawn Care, Raging Lunatic Edition

You may recall that Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was savagely beaten by a neighbor.

He had 5 broken ribs.

It now appears that this was a long running feud driven by a dispute regarding lawn care.

I've never gotten this whole lawn thing, but it appears that some men, and it is always men, are obsessed over this:
If it is possible for a man, as he's being hauled in front of a judge for his arraignment, to somehow still project an air of haughty superiority, well, that man would look like Rene Boucher did as he appeared in court just over a week ago.

A retired anesthesiologist, Boucher—who stands accused of a bizarre beating earlier this month that left his neighbor, the Kentucky senator Rand Paul, with six broken ribs—strode into the jammed courtroom wearing a well-pressed blue suit. His back was ramrod straight, his head was held high, his nose not quite in the air. Seven other accused criminals who joined Boucher on the court's docket that morning had been schlepped to the courthouse from the adjoining county jail in orange jumpsuits.

Not Boucher. He'd stayed the night before at a friend's place—all the easier to comply with the court order requiring him to remain at least 200 feet away from his badly injured neighbor, whose house sits exactly 269 feet from Boucher's own.


In the days after the dust-up, local newspapers suggested a long-simmering spat over yard care. But the senator's own spokesman quickly refuted the notion that the two men had been feuding: He said Paul hadn't had a conversation with Boucher or any of his family members in "over a decade." Instead, right-leaning outlets in Washington—and Paul himself—have pushed the idea that the alleged assault was actually motivated by politics. Specifically, the theory goes, it was Boucher's "socialist" beliefs and his antipathy for Donald Trump that led him to confront his Republican neighbor. (The FBI is said to be looking into that claim, which, if true, could turn Boucher's simple assault charge into a trickier federal case.)

But to many people in Bowling Green, there's nothing about this that smacks of politics. From the locals who know both men well, a portrait emerges of something much more personal and petty: a clash between a big-deal politician, living in a small town and rarely realizing the ways in which he rubs people the wrong way, and his neighbor, a proud, fiery, and meticulous former doctor. In other words, something far less Sumner-Brooks than Hatfield-McCoy. "It's like the old hillbilly feud over the property line," said longtime Bowling Green resident Bill Goodwin, who has known Paul for the better part of two decades and has become friends with Boucher in recent years.


How did a United States senator—just out mowing his lawn—wind up in an altercation that put him in the hospital? Was it a politically motivated attack? Or was it something far more petty? To separate rumor from reality, Ben Schreckinger slipped inside Rand Paul’s gated Kentucky community, where the neighbors tried to help him solve one of the weirder political mysteries in years.

If it is possible for a man, as he's being hauled in front of a judge for his arraignment, to somehow still project an air of haughty superiority, well, that man would look like Rene Boucher did as he appeared in court just over a week ago.

A retired anesthesiologist, Boucher—who stands accused of a bizarre beating earlier this month that left his neighbor, the Kentucky senator Rand Paul, with six broken ribs—strode into the jammed courtroom wearing a well-pressed blue suit. His back was ramrod straight, his head was held high, his nose not quite in the air. Seven other accused criminals who joined Boucher on the court's docket that morning had been schlepped to the courthouse from the adjoining county jail in orange jumpsuits.

Not Boucher. He'd stayed the night before at a friend's place—all the easier to comply with the court order requiring him to remain at least 200 feet away from his badly injured neighbor, whose house sits exactly 269 feet from Boucher's own.

A slight man, Boucher spent only a few moments inside the courtroom, enough time to approach the bench and plead not guilty to one count of misdemeanor assault. He and his lawyer then hustled toward the door, leaving behind them a pack of reporters and a still-lingering mystery: What exactly happened earlier this month in Rand Paul's yard, and why?

The apparent scuffle was as odd as it was rare. Not since 1856, when a cane-wielding congressman named Preston Brooks nearly killed the abolitionist Charles Sumner, had a sitting United States senator suffered such a violent drubbing. Brooks at least had the decency to perform his beat-down in front of witnesses in the Senate chamber, and to announce his motive: a beef over slavery. There's been no such clarity in the weeks since Rand Paul was sent to the hospital.

In the days after the dust-up, local newspapers suggested a long-simmering spat over yard care. But the senator's own spokesman quickly refuted the notion that the two men had been feuding: He said Paul hadn't had a conversation with Boucher or any of his family members in "over a decade." Instead, right-leaning outlets in Washington—and Paul himself—have pushed the idea that the alleged assault was actually motivated by politics. Specifically, the theory goes, it was Boucher's "socialist" beliefs and his antipathy for Donald Trump that led him to confront his Republican neighbor. (The FBI is said to be looking into that claim, which, if true, could turn Boucher's simple assault charge into a trickier federal case.)

But to many people in Bowling Green, there's nothing about this that smacks of politics. From the locals who know both men well, a portrait emerges of something much more personal and petty: a clash between a big-deal politician, living in a small town and rarely realizing the ways in which he rubs people the wrong way, and his neighbor, a proud, fiery, and meticulous former doctor. In other words, something far less Sumner-Brooks than Hatfield-McCoy. "It's like the old hillbilly feud over the property line," said longtime Bowling Green resident Bill Goodwin, who has known Paul for the better part of two decades and has become friends with Boucher in recent years.

On the afternoon of November 3, Paul was mowing his lawn in the well-to-do gated community where he's lived for 17 years. It's an enclave dotted with swimming pools, an artificial lake, and at least one private tennis court—a place where the Greek revival homes feature grand columns out front that support porticos and little balconies. Actually, the columns on Paul's house are rather modest by the standards of the neighborhood—a fact that doesn't escape notice. "They pick on Rand because he has the smallest one out there," one local confided in me.

According to The New York Times, he had just stepped off of his riding lawnmower when Boucher tackled him from behind. The senator apparently never heard Boucher coming because he was wearing "sound-muting earmuffs." Describing the alleged attack, Paul's spokesman, Sergio Gor, said his boss was "blindsided."

Jim Skaggs, who lives nearby (and is also one of the developers of the Rivergreen community), said that he thinks that Boucher charged at Paul from the street. From that direction, Paul's yard slopes steeply downward, toward the lake at the rear of his property. Barreling downward about 30 degrees, this imagined path would increase the force of a running tackle, perhaps explaining how a man of Boucher's diminutive stature—an acquaintance of the two men estimates that they both stand five-foot-six and weigh about 140 pounds—could do so much damage.

State police initially said that Paul had suffered a "minor injury," but reports later emerged that he had been hospitalized with five broken ribs and that the attack had left him with trouble breathing. Paul finally tweeted that he in fact had broken six ribs and suffered a "pleural effusion," an accumulation of excess liquid in his chest.

According to Tim Pritts, director of surgery at the University of Cincinnati medical school and an expert in trauma, the liquid in question was probably blood.

But even if you grant Boucher the momentum of a downhill charge, the injuries Paul suffered are extreme, according to Pritts (who hasn't treated Paul). An unarmed assault rarely results in more than a broken rib or two. The injuries Paul suffered sound to him more consistent with a car accident, or a fall down a flight of stairs—or even from the top of a building. "I've seen a few from people getting kicked by horses," added Pritts, who speculated that Paul's injuries may indicate he was stomped on while lying on the ground.

For Boucher, 59, an arrest of this sort is an unlikely claim to fame. His allegedly inflicting on his state's junior senator the type of damage more commonly associated with a horse surprised plenty of those who know him. The son of a New England gym teacher, Boucher had served as a doctor in the Army before embarking on a lucrative career in Kentucky, where he raised two bright, successful children.

But there have been setbacks for Boucher in recent years. In 2005, a bicycle accident left him with a badly injured back. He had already been tinkering with an idea for an invention to relieve pain: a vest filled with rice that could be heated in the microwave. Following his accident, he turned misery into good fortune, perfecting the vest and convincing the home-shopping network QVC to begin selling it.

Goodwin, who described Boucher as fiercely principled, said part of the motivation for inventing the vest was to reduce patients' reliance on painkiller medication. He added that Boucher once stopped working with a particular pain clinic after concluding that it was too loose in prescribing opioids, and that his own friendship with Boucher became strained for a time because of an acquaintance that Boucher was apparently convinced had occasionally smoked marijuana.

"His father taught him the old way, but he lives in a new world," Goodwin said, describing a man apparently at odds, on occasion, with those around him. (It is perhaps no wonder that Boucher has not hit it off with Paul, who has called for repealing the federal marijuana prohibition and who in college was said to take bong hits and worship a mysterious deity he called "Aqua Buddha.")

In 2008, Boucher's wife, Lisa, filed for divorce. After that, Boucher was ready to move out of the Rivergreen community, and he put his home on the market. In April 2012, a couple agreed to buy the place but then backed out at the last minute, alleging problems with the house's air-conditioning units and prompting Boucher to sue them for breach of contract. He ended up getting the $10,000 deposit the couple had put in escrow, which they had offered to forfeit from the outset anyway. According to the Daily Mail, Boucher may have been angered by Paul's decision to plant trees that now block the view of the lake once enjoyed from Boucher's house, lowering the property value. If Boucher had been a luckier man, he might be living now in happy obscurity in Florida, where his son practices law, which, according to Skaggs, had been his intention.

Instead, he's stayed put and poured a good deal of attention into his yard. A Bowling Green resident who said she's known Boucher and his ex-wife for close to a decade but asked that her name be withheld said Boucher has "some OCD issues." Others corroborate this description.

"He's kind of a neatnik in his yard," said Skaggs, the co-developer who built Rivergreen 20 years ago. "You'd see all the little clippings sitting in little plastic bags waiting for pickup every week." Indeed, on a recent afternoon, a black garbage bag filled with yard clippings still sat in Boucher's driveway in front of his three-car garage. Planters flanking the front steps and the back of the house were all neatly stacked with the same seasonal ornament: a greenish-black-and-white gourd on top of a solid white gourd on top of an orange pumpkin.

Like most everyone else in the Rivergreen development, Goodwin told me, Boucher pays in the ballpark of $150 a month for professional landscaping, while Paul insists on maintaining his yard himself. Goodwin said that part of what nagged at Boucher was the difference in grass length between his lawn and that of his libertarian neighbor's. "He had his yard sitting at a beautiful two-and-a-half, three inches thick, where Rand cuts it to the nub," Goodwin said.

Goodwin recalled picking up Boucher, a devout Catholic, at his home after church one Sunday afternoon several years ago. Boucher had confronted Paul about his yard-maintenance practices a few minutes before Goodwin's arrival, to no avail, and Goodwin saw Boucher grow agitated as they both watched Paul blow grass onto his lawn. "I've asked him and I've asked him and I've asked him," Goodwin recalls Boucher fuming. "How long can you sit there taking someone plucking a hair out of your nose?" Goodwin asked. "How long could you take that before losing your temper?"
Well, now we know how long before he loses his temper.

Requiem for My Nemesis

RP's Film Debut

In the Cat Run
You may not be aware, but I have a nemesis.

The Perry the Platypus to my Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz was RP the Cat, the smartest, fastest, and most ferocious representative of the species Felis silvestris catus that I have ever met.

In late 2011, I caught one of the colony of feral cats in the area with the goal of adopting it.

It was RP the cat, and much mayhem ensued, all of which involved much blood loss on my part.

She, we later saw her with her litters, found a way to get into and out of the house

When we adopted cats from the Humane Society, RP came into the house and ate the cat food, a fact that we verified with a time lapse camera.

At this point, Charlie named the cat Rodentia Phage, eater of rodents, RP for short, though after my escapades with the cat, RP came to stand for Ravage and Pillage.

We were unamused with the situation, as RP brought in things from the outside, most notably fleas.

At this point, this cat came to be my great white whale.

So, I set up a "Have a Heart" trap that fed into a cat cage (about 1m x 1.5m x 1m), and when that did not work because RP knew not to step on the touch plate, so I used more computing power than was used to put Neil Armstrong on the moon to improve the cat.

It worked, but I never managed to tame her, and eventually I slipped up, and she got out, and she was in the house, but had forgotten how to get out, so for the next 5 years she was in the house skulking around and successfully evading us.

Two days ago, we noticed some blood on the couch, and after examining our cats, realized that it had to be RP.

I searched, and found her in an awful state, barely able to move, with a wound on her neck and trouble breathing.

She was feeble enough that I could catch her and get her to the vet.

The diagnosis was that it was an abscess that went septic, and there was nothing that could be done, so we had her put to sleep.

Valhalla has added its most hard core new resident.

I will be downing a bourbon in her honor tonight.

What follows is a list, in chronological order of my interactions with, and reflections about, RP the cat:
  1. It Appears that I Do Have Time to Bleed
  2. All that Blood, So Little Cat
  3. I have a Cat Infestation
  4. Who Knew that I Would Be the Proprietor of a Cat House?
  5. This is Not Going to End Well………
  6. Well, I got the Cat Trap Together
  7. No Cat in Trap Yet………
  8. How I Vanquished the RP!
  9. Light Posting Tonight
  10. Moar Katnip, or the Dog Gets It!
  11. An Old Home Remedy that Worked for Me
  12. Squee!!!!!

23 November 2017

Thanksgiving Party Poopers

This is Brilliant
It appears that members of her family are not fond of her HR Giger inspired food sculptures:
Fancy scaring the hell out of your family this Thanksgiving? Try serving up this Alien inspired Facehugger, a seriously mean looking fusion of whole roast chicken, snow crab legs and a chicken sausage tail.

The Facehugger is the work of Hellen Die, researcher, chef, food stylist, photographer, writer and dishwasher of The Necro-Nom-Nom-Nomicon, a horror-inspired collection of recipes that go beyond your standard Halloween novelty fare into a more gourmet, grown-up ghoulishness for foodies.


Clearly a fan of the Alien films, last year she went with the Chestburster emerging hideously out of the centerpiece turkey, a move that got her removed from cooking duties this time around by her family. You gotta admit it looks pretty awesome though doesn’t it?
She has a whole website of recipes.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

22 November 2017

I See Nothing!

I really want to stop living in Bizarro World:
U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, released a statement on Wednesday apologizing for a graphic nude photo of him that circulated on social media earlier this week.

"While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women," he said. "Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down."

It is still unclear how the photo got onto social media, who put it there, or whether its posting would constitute revenge porn, which is illegal under Texas law.

Barton, who announced his re-election bid earlier this month, is navigating in a political environment charged with emerging stories of sexual misbehavior in politics, in business and in the media. The photo, which appeared on an anonymous Twitter account, set off speculation within Texas GOP circles about his political future.
Seriously.  Don't.  Just don't.  Ever.

21 November 2017

Travis Kalanick Continues to Leave a Trail of Slime

It turns out that Uber had a major data breach, with frightening levels of personal data taken about their drivers, and their response was to pay off the hackers and cover the whole affair up:
Hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber Technologies Inc., a massive breach that the company concealed for more than a year. This week, the ride-hailing firm ousted its chief security officer and one of his deputies for their roles in keeping the hack under wraps, which included a $100,000 payment to the attackers.

Compromised data from the October 2016 attack included names, email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million Uber riders around the world, the company told Bloomberg on Tuesday. The personal information of about 7 million drivers was accessed as well, including some 600,000 U.S. driver’s license numbers. No Social Security numbers, credit card information, trip location details or other data were taken, Uber said.
I'm not inclined to believe Uber's statements as to the limited scope of the breach.
At the time of the incident, Uber was negotiating with U.S. regulators investigating separate claims of privacy violations. Uber now says it had a legal obligation to report the hack to regulators and to drivers whose license numbers were taken. Instead, the company paid hackers to delete the data and keep the breach quiet. Uber said it believes the information was never used but declined to disclose the identities of the attackers.
That is so Uber.
Hackers have successfully infiltrated numerous companies in recent years. The Uber breach, while large, is dwarfed by those at Yahoo, MySpace, Target Corp., Anthem Inc. and Equifax Inc. What’s more alarming are the extreme measures Uber took to hide the attack. The breach is the latest scandal Khosrowshahi inherits from his predecessor, Travis Kalanick. 
Like the chicken said, "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred."

BTW, Kalanick knew of the hack almost as soon as it happened.

Dara Khosrowshahi may have the worst job on the face of the earth.

Now John Conyers

More allegations of sexual harassment, this time John Conyers (D-MI), and the allegations are pretty f%$#ing awful:
Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”

Documents from the complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News include four signed affidavits, three of which are notarized, from former staff members who allege that Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sex acts, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public. Four people involved with the case verified the documents are authentic.

Conyers confirmed he made the settlement in a statement Tuesday afternoon, hours after this story was published, but said that he "vehemently denied" the claims of sexual harassment at the time and continues to do so.
This is seriously f%$#ed up.

Being Evil………

Many people realize that smartphones track their locations. But what if you actively turn off location services, haven’t used any apps, and haven’t even inserted a carrier SIM card?

Even if you take all of those precautions, phones running Android software gather data about your location and send it back to Google when they’re connected to the internet, a Quartz investigation has revealed.

Since the beginning of 2017, Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers—even when location services are disabled—and sending that data back to Google. The result is that Google, the unit of Alphabet behind Android, has access to data about individuals’ locations and their movements that go far beyond a reasonable consumer expectation of privacy.

Quartz observed the data collection occur and contacted Google, which confirmed the practice.


The practice is troubling for people who’d prefer they weren’t tracked, especially for those such as law-enforcement officials or victims of domestic abuse who turn off location services thinking they’re fully concealing their whereabouts. Although the data sent to Google is encrypted, it could potentially be sent to a third party if the phone had been compromised with spyware or other methods of hacking. Each phone has a unique ID number, with which the location data can be associated.

The revelation comes as Google and other internet companies are under fire from lawmakers and regulators, including for the extent to which they vacuum up data about users. Such personal data, ranging from users’ political views to their purchase histories to their locations, are foundational to the business successes of companies like Facebook and Alphabet, built on targeted advertising and personalization and together valued at over $1.2 trillion by investors.
Clearly the solution to Google cyber-stalking us is to eliminate regulatory oversight.  That way the market will solve everything.


Meet the New Boss………
Robert Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 and once proclaimed that “only God will remove me,” resigned as president on Tuesday shortly after lawmakers began impeachment proceedings against him.

The speaker of the Parliament, Jacob Mudenda, read out a letter in which Mr. Mugabe said he was stepping down “with immediate effect” for “the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and the need for a peaceful transfer of power.”

Lawmakers erupted into cheers, and jubilant residents poured into the streets of Harare, the capital. It seemed to be an abrupt capitulation by Mr. Mugabe, 93, the world’s oldest head of state and one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.

“It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to Zimbabwe,” Perseverance Sande, 20, said in central Harare minutes after news of the resignation began spreading, as crowds of people started singing around her. “I’ve been waiting so long for this moment.”
It is widely expected that Emmerson Mnangagwa, his former VP, whose firing precipitated the coup, will succeed him, so I'm not expecting much in the way of political change.

Mnangagwa was, after all, hip deep in the Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland in the early 1980s.


A high tech automotive fraud.  It reminds me of Tesla:

20 November 2017

The Value of a Liberal Arts Education

With a rather evocative headline, "How a half-educated tech elite delivered us into evil," John Naughton explains how the people involved in tech these days are profoundly and deeply ignorant and incurious about the potential effects of what they are doing.

The Germans have a word for this, "Fachidiot," and Japanese word for this is "専門バカ":
One of the biggest puzzles about our current predicament with fake news and the weaponisation of social media is why the folks who built this technology are so taken aback by what has happened. Exhibit A is the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, whose political education I recently chronicled. But he’s not alone. In fact I’d say he is quite representative of many of the biggest movers and shakers in the tech world. We have a burgeoning genre of “OMG, what have we done?” angst coming from former Facebook and Google employees who have begun to realise that the cool stuff they worked on might have had, well, antisocial consequences.

Put simply, what Google and Facebook have built is a pair of amazingly sophisticated, computer-driven engines for extracting users’ personal information and data trails, refining them for sale to advertisers in high-speed data-trading auctions that are entirely unregulated and opaque to everyone except the companies themselves.

The purpose of this infrastructure was to enable companies to target people with carefully customised commercial messages and, as far as we know, they are pretty good at that. (Though some advertisers are beginning to wonder if these systems are quite as good as Google and Facebook claim.) And in doing this, Zuckerberg, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and co wrote themselves licences to print money and build insanely profitable companies.

It never seems to have occurred to them that their advertising engines could also be used to deliver precisely targeted ideological and political messages to voters. Hence the obvious question: how could such smart people be so stupid? The cynical answer is they knew about the potential dark side all along and didn’t care, because to acknowledge it might have undermined the aforementioned licences to print money. Which is another way of saying that most tech leaders are sociopaths. Personally I think that’s unlikely, although among their number are some very peculiar characters: one thinks, for example, of Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel – Trump’s favourite techie; and Travis Kalanick, the founder of Uber.
I would actually argue that some in the tech field are willfully blind because their paycheck depends on this lack of awareness, while others are blind because they feel that they are somehow above such "mundane" concerns.

In either case, they aren't people that we can trust with our future.

Tweet of the Day

This is brilliant.

Please note my profanity expurgation exception for Twitter.

19 November 2017

Well, You Could Talk with Die Linke

Angela Merkel's negotiations to form a government have collapsed:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged early Monday to maintain stability after the Free Democratic Party pulled out of talks on forming a new government with her conservative bloc and the left-leaning Greens, raising the possibility of new elections.

Merkel told reporters that the parties had been close to reaching a consensus on how to proceed with formal coalition talks but that the Free Democrats decided abruptly to pull out just before midnight Sunday — a move she said she respected, but found “regrettable.”

She said she would consult with Germany’s president later in the day to brief him on the negotiations and discuss what comes next.

Without bringing the Free Democrats back to the table, Merkel will be forced to try to continue her current governing coalition with the Social Democrats, although that center-left party has said it will not do so, or she could try to form a minority government, which was seen as unlikely. Otherwise Germany will have to hold new elections.

“It is at least a day of deep reflection on how to go forward in Germany,” Merkel said. “But I will do everything possible to ensure that this country will be well led through these difficult weeks.”

Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats and sister Bavaria-only Christian Social Union, the pro-business Free Democrats and the left-leaning Greens had already blown past Merkel’s own deadline of Thursday to agree on a basis for opening formal negotiations on a coalition of all four parties, a configuration that has never been tried at a national level in Germany.

Key sticking points were the issues of migration and climate change.

Among other things the Greens were pushing for Germany to end its use of coal and combustion engines by 2030, though they had signaled they were open to some compromise.
Assuming that the SDP is true to its word when it says that it won't join the coalition, and the fact that no one wants to make a coalition with the 3rd place AfD is a group of fascist bigots, there are not a whole bunch of options for Merkel.

One option is to enter into negotiations with Die Linke (The Left) party as well as the Greens.

That would put them over the critical 50%.

Of course, the many of the policies of Die Linke are an anathema to Merkel and the CDU, and the fact that it is technically the successor party of the East German Communists from East Germany presents an optics problem.

Still, opening up a dialogue with Die Linke would also put a lot of pressure on the FDP to return to the table.

So, it's not going to happen, even though it might make sense, because it's simply inconceivable given the norms of German political orthodoxy.

Oh Snap

Ron Wyden is calling for ads to be blocked from all government systems, because of their role in serving up malware:
A US Senator trying to eradicate the Internet scourge known as malvertising is proposing that all federal agencies block ads delivered to worker computers unless advertisers can ensure their networks are free of content that contains malicious code.

In a letter sent today, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden asked White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Rob Joyce to begin discussions with advertising industry officials to ensure ads displayed on websites can't be used to infect US government computers. If, after 180 days, Joyce isn't "completely confident" the industry has curbed the problem, Wyden asked that Joyce direct the US Department of Homeland Security to issue a directive "requiring federal agencies to block the delivery to employees' computers of all Internet ads containing executable code."

"Malware is increasingly delivered through code embedded in seemingly innocuous advertisements online," Wyden wrote. "Individuals do not even need to click on ads to get infected: this malicious software, including ransomware, is delivered without any interaction by the user."
You have to figure that there is a LOT of people who surf the web during their lunch hour, and if ads are blocked, internet firms will take a major hit.

18 November 2017

People Are Beginning to Come to My Point of View

For some time now, I have said that offensive cyber operations are a bad idea, because in order to hack someone, you are sending them a copy of your payload, and they can then use it themselves.

Ryan Cooper has come to this position as well:
Since August 2016, the National Security Agency has suffered a continual stream of devastating failures. Their internal hacking group, known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO), was breached 15 months ago by hackers calling themselves the "Shadow Brokers," which has been dribbling out the contents of the NSA's most prized hacking tools. The result has been a wave of internet crime — ransomware, lost files, and network attacks that disrupted businesses and cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

And as this New York Times story illustrates, the agency has been completely incapable of figuring out how the breach happened. Their computer networks could have been penetrated, or they could have someone on the inside leaking the tools. But after more than a year, they have not been able to plug the leak. It's long past time the NSA was forced to stop hacking, and to start protecting the American people from the sort of tools they create.

At the time of the leak last year, I speculated that the NSA was exposing the American people to online attack, but I was not prepared for how bad it would be. Several huge ransomware attacks (in which a computer is infiltrated, its hard drive encrypted, and the de-encrypt key held for a bitcoin ransom) using NSA hacking tools have swept the globe, hitting companies like FedEx, Merck, and Mondelez International, as well as hospitals and telecoms in 99 countries.
Cyber weapons are different, because they are implicitly revealed, and available for manufacture and deployment, by the target once they are years.

Would it make sense to send drones after ISIS/ISIL/Daesh/Whatever if in so doing, they would be able to deploy drones against targets in the US?

This is how cyber works.

Requiem for a Hero

He was 84:
One day in May 1971, John C. Raines, a religion professor at Temple University, had just returned to his home in Germantown, Pa., from playing tennis when two F.B.I. agents knocked on the door.

For weeks, hundreds of agents had been combing Philadelphia for the amateur burglars who had embarrassed the F.B.I. by raiding a suburban field office and stealing a thousand files, and then baffled the bureau by evading capture.

The documents were delivered anonymously to journalists and congressmen as proof that the bureau had systematically and illegally infiltrated, intimidated and disrupted protest groups.


The burglary, and subsequent lawsuits by NBC and others, prompted a groundbreaking investigation in 1975 by the so-called Church committee, a special Senate panel led by Senator Frank Church of Idaho. The committee revealed details of the F.B.I.’s secret Cointelpro, or counterintelligence, operation, which included illegal sabotage of dissident groups deemed to be subversive.

Dr. Raines died on Sunday in Philadelphia at 84. His wife said the cause was congestive heart failure.


Among the files was an F.B.I. order to interview dissidents aggressively. The bureau’s goal, the order said, was to “enhance the paranoia endemic in these circles” and “to get the point across there is an F.B.I. agent behind every mailbox.”

What that proved, Dr. Raines said, was that J. Edgar Hoover, the F.B.I. director, “was not simply into surveillance; Hoover was into taking the voice of dissent away from dissent.”

The cache also included a routine routing slip with the word “Cointelpro.” The burglars overlooked the document, but the Church Committee later exposed the program in detail.
This man was a hero, like Ellsburg and Snowden.


Have some Space pr0n:

17 November 2017

More of This

In Pittsburgh, the Democratic Socialist Alliance (DSA) just defeated two incumbents, one a Republican city councilman and the other a longtime Democratic machine politician judge, and in so doing flipped the city council from Republican to Democratic:
The party inside of the MixTape bar in the historically lefty neighborhood of Garfield was absolutely jubilant. Hipster dance music blared over speakers as young hipster members of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) embraced long-time neighborhood activists, who had been involved in organizing in the community for decades.


[Pittsburgh DSA Co-Chair Adam] Shuck and his comrades had reasons to be ecstatic. In their first major electoral test, the 385 dues-paying members strong Pittsburgh DSA proved that they weren’t just a group of hipsters, but a serious political force that could shake up stagnant Pittsburgh political machine.

Not only did a DSA member flip a county council seat back to Democrats, but the DSA toppled District Justice Ron Costa, one of the longtime bosses of the Costa political family. In addition to these wins, reform oriented candidates in the industrial, inner-city suburbs also defeated long-time incumbents in key races.

The campaigns were noted for their innovativeness and creativity in a Pittsburgh political scene long ossified by political legacy candidates.

Running under the slogan of “I don’t sell out, I sell auto parts”, 54-year-old DSA member Anita Prizio, filmed TV ads promising “Bad Puns, Good Policy”. Her campaign focused on the need for more transparency in local government, tackling the opioid crisis, and combatting lead poisoning affecting Pittsburgh area residents. Her quirky outsider campaign garnered the support of DSA and Our Revolution.

Despite running in some of the richest suburbs of Pittsburgh as well as some inner-city neighborhoods, Prizio was able to knock off incumbent Republican county councilman Ed Kress by a margin of 50.8% to 49.1%.

However, the most stunning victory was the defeat of 24-year incumbent District Justice Ron Costa by independent candidate Mike Pappas. A civil rights lawyer and former staffer to legendary progressive State Senator Jim Ferlo, the lifelong Pittsburgh resident Pappas ran under the slogan of “Addiction is not a crime”.

As a District Justice, Pappas pledged to reduce mass incarceration and implement principles of restorative justice. This radical platform garnered the attention of progressives nationally and earned him the first-ever endorsement issued in a judicial race by the Bernie Sanders backed group Our Revolution.

Pappas’s DSA endorsement prompted Judge Costa, an old-school machine Democrat, to send a letter to thousands of his constituents warning them that “You need to know that the DSA is a splinter group that has called for the elimination of prisons and police as well as drastic changes to our law”.

Despite the red-baiting and lacking a position on the ballot as a Democrat, Pappas trounced the 24-year incumbent Costa by an 11 point margin. Pappas mobilized over a hundred volunteers throughout the district and increased the voter turnout from 5,800 votes in the District Justice election in 2011 to 8,900 votes in 2017.
There is a saying that all politics is local, and many state and local elections are timed to avoid the Presidential campaign years (Maryland Legislature and Governor, for example) or to completely avoid federal elections (VA state house & governor, and the aforementioned Pittsburgh elections, for example).

It serves to tilt the playing field toward machine politicians, since they typically have the operatives on the ground to get the smaller numbers of voters to the polls required for victory.

The DSA, is acting, organizing, and running locally, and they are winning.

This is in stark contrast to a some other left wing political movements who seem to limit themselves to pious political posturing in the off years, and kamikaze Presidential campaigns every 4 years. **cough** Green Party **cough**

16 November 2017

Oh Snap!

At the Wall Street Journal CEO Council meeting. Trump economic advisor Gary Cohn asked who would be investing in new plant and equipment if the tax cuts passed.

Very few hands went up:
President Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, looked out from the stage at a sea of CEOs and top executives in the audience Tuesday for the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council meeting. As Cohn sat comfortably onstage, a Journal editor asked the crowd to raise their hands if their company plans to invest more if the tax reform bill passes.

Very few hands went up.

Cohn looked surprised. “Why aren't the other hands up?” he said.

He laughed a little to lighten the mood, but it didn't cause many more hands to rise. Maybe the CEOs were tired. Maybe they didn't hear the question. It was a casual poll, but the lukewarm response seemed in tension with much of the public enthusiasm among corporations for a tax overhaul.


Second, executives themselves have indicated they probably won't use extra profits to invest. A Bank of America-Merrill Lynch survey this summer asked over 300 executives at major U.S. corporations what they would do after a “tax holiday” that would allow them to bring back money held overseas at a low tax rate. The No. 1 response? Pay down debt. The second most popular response was stock buybacks, where companies purchase some of their own shares to drive up the price. The third was mergers. Actual investments in new factories and more research were low on the list of plans for how to spend extra money.
This sh%$ is not a surprise.  Basically, it's Econ 101.