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Submission + - Senators Skip Out of Classified Briefing on NSA Surveillance Program

terrymaster69 writes: According to The Hill, only 47 out of 100 senators attended a classified briefing by senior intelligence officials regarding recently exposed surveillance programs. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, NSA Chief Keith Alexander and others were on hand to give the briefing but most of the Senate had already left Washington. "Danielle Pletka, vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, said lawmakers would be better equipped to scrutinize the claims of senior intelligence officials if they attended briefings more regularly. 'If members were more diligent about attending briefings they would be far better informed about what’s going on, and they would also be far more willing to challenge the intelligence community on the conclusions that they come to,' she said. "

Submission + - Snowden NSA Claims Partially Confirmed

bill_mcgonigle writes: Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D NY) disclosed that NSA analysts eavesdrop on Americans' domestic telephone calls without court orders during a House Judiciary hearing. After clearing with FBI director Robert Mueller that the information was not classified, Nadler revealed that during a closed-door briefing to Congress, the Legislature was informed that the spying organization had implemented and uses this capability. This appears to confirm Edward Snowden's claim that he could, in his position at the NSA, "wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president." Declan McCullagh writes, "Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, Nadler's disclosure indicates the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval." The executive branch has defended its general warrants, claiming that "the president had the constitutional authority, no matter what the law actually says, to order domestic spying without [constitutional] warrants", while Kurt Opsahl, senior staff attorney at EFF claims such government activity "epitomizes the problem of secret laws."

Submission + - Book review: The Chinese Information War 1

benrothke writes: Title: The Chinese Information War: Espionage, Cyberwar, Communications Control and Related Threats to United States Interests

Author: Dennis Poindexter

Page: 192

Publisher: McFarland

ISBN-13:978-0786472710

Rating: 9/10

Reviewer: Ben Rothke

Summary: Fascinating overview on the cyberwar with China



It's said that truth is stranger than fiction, as fiction has to make sense. Had The Chinese Information War: Espionage, Cyberwar, Communications Control and Related Threats to United States Interestsbeen written as a spy thriller, it would have been a fascinating novel of international intrigue.



But the book is far from a novel. It's a dense, but well-researched overview of China's cold-war like cyberwar tactics against the US to regain its past historical glory and world dominance.



Author Dennis Poindexter shows that Chinese espionage isn't made up of lone wolves. Rather it's under the directive and long-term planning of the Chinese government and military.



Many people growing up in the 1940's expressed the sentiment "we were poor, but didnt know it". Poindexter argues that we are in a cyberwar with China; but most people are oblivious to it.



Rather than being a polemic against China, Poindexter backs it up with extensive factual research. By the end of the book, the sheer number of guilty pleas by Chinese nationals alone should be a staggering wake-up call.



In February, Mandiant released their groundbreaking report APT1: Exposing One of Chinas Cyber Espionage Units, which focused on APT1, the most prolific Chinese cyber-espionage group that Mandiant tracked. APT1 has conducted a cyber-espionage campaign against a broad range of victims since at least 2006. The report has evidence linking them to China's 2nd Bureau of the People's Liberation Army.



China is using this cyberwar to their supreme advantage and as Poindexter writes on page 1: until we see ourselves in a war, we can't fight it effectively. Part of the challenge is that cyberwar does not fit the definition of what a war generally is because the Chinese have changed the nature of war to carry it out.



Poindexter makes his case in fewer than 200 pages and provides ample references in his detailed research; including many details, court cases and guilty verdicts of how the Chinese government and military work hand in hand to achieve their goals.



The book should of interest to everyone given the implications of what China is doing. If you are planning to set up shop in China, be it R&D, manufacturing or the like, read this book. If you have intellectual property or confidential data in China, read this book as you need to know the risks before you lose control of your data there.



Huawei Technologies, a Chinese multinational telecommunications equipment and services firm; now the largest telecommunications equipment maker in the world is detailed in the book. Poindexter details a few cases involving Huawei and writes that if Huawei isn't linked to Chinese intelligence, then it's the most persecuted company in the history of international trade.



The book details in chapter 2 the intersection between cyberwar and economic war. He writes that any foreign business in China is required to share detailed design documents with the Chinese government in order to do business there. For many firms, the short-term economic incentives blind them to the long-term risks of losing control of their data. The book notes that in the Cold War with Russia, the US understood what Russia was trying to do. The US therefore cut back trade with Russia, particularly in areas where there might be some military benefit to them. But the US isn't doing that with China.



Chapter 2 closes with a damming indictment where Poindexter writes that the Chinese steal our technology, rack up sales back to us, counterfeit our goods, take our jobs and own a good deal of our debt. The problem he notes is that too many people focus solely on the economic relations between the US and China, and ignore the underpinnings of large-scale cyber-espionage.



Chapter 6 details that the Chinese have developed a long-term approach. They have deployed numerous sleepers who often wait decades and only then work slowly and stealthily. A point Poindexter makes many times is that the Chinese think big, but move slow.

Chapter 7 is appropriately titles The New Cold War. In order to win this war, Poindexter suggest some radical steps to stop it. He notes that the US needs to limit trade with China to items we can't get anywhere else. He says not to supply China with the rope that will be used to hang the US on.



He writes that the Federal Government has to deal with the issue seriously and quickly, to protect its telecommunications interests so that China isn't able to cut it all off one day. He also notes that national security must no longer take a backseat to price and cheap labor.



Poindexter writes that the US Government must take a long-view to the solution and he writes that it will take 10 years to build up the type of forces that that would be needed to counter the business and government spying that the Chinese are doing.



Rachel Carson's Silent Springis the archetypal wake-up call book. Poindexter has written his version of Silent Spring,but it's unlikely that any action will be taken. As the book notes, the Chinese are so blatantly open about their goals via cyber-espionage, and their denials of it so arrogant, that business as usual simply carries on.



The Chinese portray themselves as benevolent benefactors, much like the Kanamits in To Serve Man. Just as the benevolence of the Kanamits was a façade, so too is what is going on with the cold cyberwar with China.



The book is an eye-opening expose that details the working of the Chinese government and notes that for most of history, China was the world's dominating force. The Chinese have made it their goal to regain that dominance.



The book states what the Chinese are trying to accomplish and lays out the cold facts. Will there be a response to this fascinating book? Will Washington take action? Will they limit Chinese access to strategic US data? Given Washington is operating in a mode of sequestration, the answer should be obvious.



The message detailed in The Chinese Information War: Espionage, Cyberwar, Communications Control and Related Threats to United States Interestsshould be a wake-up call. But given that it is currently ranked #266,881 on Amazon, it seems as if most of America is sleeping through this threat.









Reviewed by Ben Rothke

Submission + - Fireworks Filmed from Above By Balloon (rocketnews24.com)

kodiaktau writes: The filming was done by a small GoPro camera attached to a balloon, which was released into the air so it could film the fireworks being let off from the ground below. The video itself is in slow motion, to follow the trajectory of the fireworks. Looks like the balloon finally gets hit around 1:39.

Submission + - Larry Ellison buys 98% of Lanai, Hawaii's sixth-largest island (wsj.com) 1

McGruber writes: The Wall Street Journal has the news that, in June of 2012, Larry Ellison co-founder and chief executive of Oracle purchased the Hawaiian islande Lanai for $300 million.

Ellison now owns nearly everything on the island, including many of the candy-colored plantation-style homes and apartments, one of the two grocery stores, the two Four Seasons hotels and golf courses, the community center and pool, water company, movie theater, half the roads and some 88,000 acres of land. (2% of the island is owned by the government or by longtime Lanai families.)

Now Ellison is attempting to win over the island's small, but wary, local population, one whose economic future is heavily dependent on his decisions. He and his team have met with experts in desalination and solar energy to change the way water and electricity are generated, collected, stored and delivered on the island. They are refurbishing residential housing intended for workers (Mr. Ellison's Lanai Resorts owns and manages 400 of the more than 1,500 housing units on the island). They've tackled infrastructure, such as lengthening airport runways and paving county roads. And to improve access to Lanai, Mr. Ellison bought Island Air earlier this year and is closing a deal to buy another airline.

Submission + - Ortiz-Heymann: The Prior Generation

theodp writes: Two decades before the White House was petitioned to remove U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and her Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann from their jobs for the allegedly overzealous prosecution of Aaron Swartz, the Boston Globe reported on allegations of 'sometimes heavy-handed tactics and inaccuracies' of an NFL investigation into sexual harassment charges made by a sportswriter against the New England Patriots that was led by Watergate prosecutor Philip Heymann (Stephen's father) and included Ortiz. 'From the day Philip Heymann and his colleagues walked into Foxboro Stadium to investigate Lisa Olson's charges of sexual harassment,' the Globe reported, 'the New England Patriots were on the defensive, and apparently, they stayed there to the end. One day after conducting a preliminary six-hour interview with Olson, Heymann introduced each investigator to the Patriots and outlined their backgrounds at a meeting he later called benign. Yet he also said two weeks ago, "They were frightened from the beginning by the way I introduced people. I said that Jerry O'Sullivan had been US Attorney. I said Jim Ring had been FBI special agent in charge of organized crime."' Regarding Ortiz, the Globe reported, 'Heymann investigator Carmen Ortiz wrote in a memo of her Oct. 18, 1990, interview with [Lisa Olson] that she took no notes and did not tape-record the conversation. Yet she used direct quotes when writing up her 15-page report on the session. When asked to explain, she referred the Globe to Heymann.' Aside from transcripts of two interviews (the tapes of which were destroyed), the Globe reported the NFL kept no notes on its interviews with 89 other people. '"It was contemplated that there would be a motion such as this [a lawsuit by Olson] and we did not want to create that type of document," an NFL attorney explained. According to the Globe, an attorney representing the Patriots said that 'one reason the tapes were destroyed may be that the NFL did not want anyone to hear raised voices or pounding of tables. He said some of those interviewed were not allowed to leave the room and had their livelihoods threatened if they did not cooperate.' Curiously, the elder Heymann featured prominently in a recently-upheld DOJ motion to keep the names of key people involved in the Aaron Swartz case secret — a postcard threat received by Philip Heymann was cited by Ortiz's office as evidence of why such secrecy was necessary.

Submission + - Facebook and Microsoft Disclose Government Requests for User Data (securityweek.com)

wiredmikey writes: Facebook and Microsoft say they received thousands of requests for information from US authorities last year but are prohibited from listing a separate tally for security-related requests or secret court orders related to terror probes. The two companies have come under heightened scrutiny since word leaked of a vast secret Internet surveillance program US authorities insist targets only foreign terror suspects and is needed to prevent attacks. Facebook said Friday it had received between 9,000 and 10,000 requests for user data affecting 18,000 to 19,000 accounts during the second half of last year and Microsoft said it had received 6,000 to 7,000 requests affecting 31,000 to 32,000 accounts during the same period.

Submission + - WiFi Light Bulbs Connect to the Internet (computerworld.com.au)

An anonymous reader writes: Computerworld has an interview with an Australian startup called LIFX, producing WiFi-connected LED light bulbs. Each light bulb is a small computer running the Thingsquare distribution of the open source Contiki operating system that creates a low-power wireless mesh network between the light bulbs and connects them to the WiFi network. The wireless mesh network lets the light bulbs be controlled with a smartphone app. Through a Kickstarter project, the company has already raised a significant amount of money: over one million USD. The company recently opened up a second batch of pre-orders.

Submission + - Transgendered Folks Encounter Document/Database ID Hassles

An anonymous reader writes: Most of us hear the equivalent of 'let me bring up your record' several times a week or month when dealing with businesses and government agencies; sometimes there's a problem, but clerks are accustomed to dealing with changes in street address, phone numbers, company affiliation, and even personal names (after marriage). But what about gender? Transgendered folks are encountering embarrassing moments when they have to explain that their gender has changed from 'M' to 'F' or vice versa. While there are many issues involved in discrimination against transgendered individuals, I have to confess that the first thing that came to my mind was the impact on database design and maintenance.

Submission + - Photographer Builds an Amazing DIY Digital Camera Stabilizer (lensvid.com)

Iddo Genuth writes: Videographer Tom Antos developed an advanced DIY camera stabilizer which can hold almost any DSLR or mirrorless camera steady for video photography. Although this surly isn’t as sophisticated (and super expensive) as the professional MVI M10 handheld 3-axis digital stabilized camera gimbal, its still quite impressive especially when you consider it only cost a few hundred dollars rather then tens of thousands — that is if you feel like building it yourself.

Submission + - India to send world's last telegram (yahoo.com) 2

afarhan writes: India will pull the plug on it's 160 year old telegram service on 15th July, this year. This will be the last telegram every sent in the world. However, telegrams are still relevant in this vast country. More than 500 million people are still without access to a phone or Internet. For these people, telegram still remains the only digital communication available. In India, telegram is also considered a legal correspondence.

Submission + - Inside the United States (globalpost.com)

An anonymous reader writes: This is satire. Although the news is real, very little actual reporting was done for this story and the quotes are imagined. It is the first installment of an ongoing series that examines the language journalists use to cover foreign countries. What if we wrote that way about the United States?

BOSTON, Mass. — Human rights activists say revelations that the US regime has expanded its domestic surveillance program to private phone carriers is more evidence of the North American country’s pivot toward authoritarianism.

The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported this week that a wing of the country’s feared intelligence and security apparatus ordered major telecommunications companies to hand over data on phone calls made by private citizens.

“The US leadership in Washington continues to erode basic human rights,” said one activist, who asked to remain anonymous, fearing that speaking out publicly could endanger his organization. “If the US government is unwilling to change course, it’s time the international community considered economic sanctions.”

Submission + - Sexism Still a Problem at E3 (fresnobee.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Now that E3 has wound down and the big product announcements are out of the way, its time to take a step back and look at the culture represented by the giant gaming show. 'The presence of scantily clad women hawking games and gizmos seemed in particular contrast to a report released this week by the Entertainment Software Association, which organizes the gaming industry's annual trade show. It found that 45 percent of the entire gaming population is now women, and women make up 46 percent of the most frequent game buyers.' While there are fewer 'booth babes' than in earlier shows (and while some are trying to bring balance by adding 'booth bros'), the conference are happy to let exhibitors make their own policy. By contrast, the Penny Arcade Expo forbids 'booth babes,' a controversial but widely lauded stance. A recent article in Kotaku notes, 'For every confident cosplayer who might do the job at a con, I am seeing dozens of companies trying to sell me hundreds of women. They are not drawing my attention to the content of their games, or to their tactics or techniques. They are drawing my attention to thigh-high boots, to low-cut shirts, and, frankly, to the hard work of a really expensive bra. So much of what I see here at E3 is aimed directly at the lizard hindbrain of a 13-year-old boy. But you have to be 18 to get into the show, and it's nominally for industry professionals. Perhaps someday we—men and women alike—can all be treated like the grown-ups we theoretically are, and be trusted to judge a game by its content... not its double-D cover.'

Submission + - Legislators Introduce Bill To Stop Set Top Boxes From Watching You (thehill.com)

An anonymous reader writes: For a few years now, we've been hearing about TV-related devices that have built-in cameras and microphones. Their stated purpose is to monitor consumers and ;gather data; — often to target advertising. (We'll set aside any unstated purposes — the uses they tell us about are bad enough.) Now, two members of the U.S. House of Representatives have submitted legislation to regulate this sort of technology. '[They] said they want to get out ahead of the release of this new technology and pass legislation that ensures it would include beefed up privacy protections for consumers. They added that this legislation is particularly relevant given the recent revelations about the National Security Agency's Internet surveillance programs. ... Additionally, the bill requires a cable box or set-top device to notify consumers when the monitoring technology is activated and in use by posting the phrase "We are watching you" across their TV screens. '

Submission + - Google floats balloons for free Wi-Fi

BrokenHalo writes: Google has revealed that it has 30 balloons floating over New Zealand in a project to bring free wi-fi to earthquake-stricken, rural or poor areas. Eventually, as the balloons move across the stratosphere, consumers in participating countries along the 40th parallel in the Southern Hemisphere could tap into the service. The technology will be trialled in Australia next year, possibly in Tasmania. If the latter happens to be true, then you'll probably hear the telcos' screams in New York.

Submission + - NY's Bloomberg and SF mayor announce tech summits (newsok.com)

Clarklteveno writes: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his San Francisco counterpart, Ed Lee, said at a news conference Friday that they are sponsoring a pair of technology summits over the next year. The mayors said the "digital cities" summits — one in New York in September and another in San Francisco early next year — will seek to find ways to use technology to solve problems the cities face. The mayors made the announcement after touring the office of San Francisco-based mobile payment company Square with co-founder Jack Dorsey, who also helped found Twitter. Bloomberg pointed to power outages and dangerous winds and flooding from Hurricane Sandy as examples of issues the summits would seek to address.

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