NSA Explores Infecting You With Malware

Recent documents outlining the NSA and GCHQ teaming up to automate malware installation across millions of private citizen’s machine in an effort named PROJECT TURBINE

A post this morning on The Intercept details the NSA‘s plans to infect ‘millions‘ of private citizen’s computers with malware, as well as plans to automate large portions of the process to “reduce the level of human oversight in the process.” We recently explored the NSA and GCHQ joining forces to conduct mass surveillance without due process across Yahoo Messenger, and today’s report from The Intercept shows the bond between these two agencies is strong as ever.

UPDATE: The Intercept provides more information on  QUANTUMHAND‘s functionality allowing the NSA to spoof Facebook to spy on citizens

How the NSA Plans to Infect ‘Millions’ of Computers with Malware [via The Intercept]

In some cases the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server, using the social media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive. In others, it has sent out spam emails laced with the malware, which can be tailored to covertly record audio from a computer’s microphone and take snapshots with its webcam. The hacking systems have also enabled the NSA to launch cyberattacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites.

The Way Of The Knife

The Way Of The Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth by Mark Mazzetti seemed like a good start. Imagine the craziest international spy novel you’ve ever read – except, everything is real. The people, the places, the events. Everything.

In the midst of talking about what I think about food and music so often, it’s time I read a book (or at least talk about one I’ve read.)

The Way Of The Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth by Mark Mazzetti seemed like a good start. Imagine the craziest international spy novel you’ve ever read – except, everything is real. The people, the places, the events. Everything.

This book does not answer all the questions but if you want a fundamental understand of how the CIA evolved from a risk-averse spy agency into America’s clandestine military apparatus, this account from Pulitzer winner Mark Mazzetti is a good place to start. I know most of you who read this blog know my politics, but I will do my best to spare you from them in this particular post – other than I advise everybody read this, and do so with an open mind.

I do not profess to be the greatest at reviewing books, so if you’re looking for more detail on why you should read this, here are reviews from NY Times, NPR, Goodreads, and the requisite Amazon page.

Capital Punishment Is Stupid

States turning to unregulated compounding centers to get around the supply problems for drugs used in inmate executions

This is not a treatise on the barbaric practices of whatever because that’s already been done a thousand times but the TL;DR here is:

Missouri joins U.S. states getting execution drugs from new suppliers [via Reuters]


Wisconsin's Kafkaesque Bambi

Here is a heart-warming tale of 13 government agents raiding a no-kill animal shelter in Kenosha, Wisconsin to capture and euthanize a baby deer with the seemingly ominous name ‘Giggles.’ The justification for not handling this responsibly, quoted below, is amazing in itself.

Here is a heart-warming tale of 13 government agents raiding a no-kill animal shelter in Kenosha, Wisconsin to capture and euthanize a baby deer with the seemingly ominous name ‘Giggles.’ The justification for not handling this responsibly, quoted below, is amazing in itself.

Department of Natural Resources Supervisor Jennifer Niemeyer told WISN 12 that the law requires DNR agents to euthanize wild animals because of their potential danger.

The station asked if the raid could have been done in a less costly manner by making a phone call first.

“If a sheriff’s department is going in to do a search warrant on a drug bust, they don’t call them and ask them to voluntarily surrender their marijuana or whatever drug that they have before they show up,” the supervisor responded.

13 Wisconsin officials raid animal shelter to kill baby deer named Giggles

Jay Carney's Non-Answers

Yahoo! compiles an interactive list of 9,486 of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s deflecting of questions

Jay CarneyGiving his personal contribution to “the most transparent administration in our history,” White House press secretary Jay Carney has made evading questions en vogue again. Credit to Yahoo! for compiling the interactive list below of Carney’s most widely used deflections in press briefings.

A mere 9,486 evaded questions in 444 press meetings (that’s 21 unanswered questions on average for those keeping score)





Curiosity Spending Compared

With NASA Mars Science LaboratoryNASA Curiosity‘s Curiosity rover riding around and hopefully getting it on the surface of Mars, it felt right to take a look at how NASA ‘spends it.’ Given the awareness Barack Obama’s budget cuts for NASA raised earlier in the year, and the looming election I felt this would be interesting as well as salient. Despite Obama supporting these cuts in the past, he wasted no time changing his stance while public support for NASA reached an all-time high last evening.

I have seen a number of articles trying to draw a number of these comparisons separately, for ease and posterity’s sake I have done my best to compile a number of them here.

NASA Curiosity Mission: US$2.5 bil [source]
Iraq War: US$805 bil [source]
Afghanistan War: US$554 bil
US Libyan Intervention: US$896 mil (~$9mil per day) [source]
US War On Drugs (Jan 2012 – Aug 2012): US$24 bil (~$500 per second) [source]
Obama 2008 Presidential Campaign: US$760 mil [source]
McCain 2008 Presidential Campaign: US$358 mil [source]

Note: I am not against government spending in it’s entirety, I’m fine with paying for something as long as we receive some measurable benefit from our spending.

Obama’s Twitter Mobilization Nets -40k Followers

I felt compelled to share this multiple friends have dubbed me ‘The Twitter Police’ for my affinity in pointing out people’s sometimes obnoxious retweeting or spammy habits on the social networking site. Here is some empirical evidence to prove I am not ranting for no reason, at least not on this extremely trivial issue.

In an effort to mobilize Twitter users to call for #compromise in the Debt Ceiling debate, the @BarackObama account let out a barrage of tweets listing Republican registered Congressional representatives with Twitter accounts that the US populace should encourage to reach a compromise.

Of course, for two houses of government x 50 states x 140-character limit means, a lot of tweeting. It is estimated that the @BarackObama account lost about 40,000 followers during that time-frame. Yes, I’m sure some of them are following again too, I can concede that. Hilariously, it also served as a presidential #followfriday as many Republican representatives thanked the White House for new followers.

via SFExaminer

I am not here to suggest that Twitter followers is a solid metric for Presidential approval, instead — with a large sample size, the effects of spamming become much easier to measure.

For all of you expecting me to leverage this to explain anything beyond something as irrelevant as a Twitter follower account, nice try…but at least they didn’t rickroll us again

Editor’s Note: Any ‘promoters’ reading this site, sending out a ton of Facebook Event Invites and posting it to your wall every four hours probably doesn’t work well either.

Remembering Jack Kevorkian

"Dying Is Not A Crime" -J. Kevorkian

Today sees the passing of one of modern history’s great champion for personal freedom and human rights, Jack Kevorkian. I understand my politics at times are difficult for some to understand but hear me out before you dismiss this post based on what is not really a controversial statement at all.

Known to many as ‘Doctor Death’ for his public endorsement and practice of voluntary euthanasia. Much attention is paid in the United States in the handling of abortion issues, and how it pertains to government regulation over the physical bodies of its citizens.

The Supreme Court of the United States issued the following opinion in it’s 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey citing the Fourteenth Amendment:

“If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.”

I, for one, do not see any fundamental distinctions between freedom to choose what is best for someone’s own body as it pertains to abortion, euthanasia, getting a piercing or tattoo, or even wearing a hijab. These issues are not within the scope of the powers given by the people to our government. Understandably, euthanasia, abortion, or any of these are not one-size-fits-all solutions but no founding father would have willingly waived these decisions to an appointed authority. Additionally, with the freedom over healthcare becoming a keystone issue in US Politics in recent years, it seems counter-intuitive that we should continue to support selective freedom in selecting healthcare options.

Rest In Peace to a misunderstood man who was not afraid to take a controversial stand and surrender his freedom hoping to expand individual rights.

UN Peacekeeping : A Humantarian Greatest Hits Box Set

An in-depth examination of the humanitarian and peacekeeping blunders in the United Nations’ handling of UNAMIR, UNPROFOR, UNOSOM I, and UNISOM II.

It is a shame that the United Nations is far better at resourcing architects than they are peacekeepers. I will spare everybody a Bush : Iraq/Afghanistan :: Obama : Libya/Afghanistan comparison. What I would like to bring attention to however is the United Nations’ recent history when it comes to it’s “Peacekeeping Efforts” in ares under political turmoil.

Below I have paraphrased from Wikipedia and other sources some esteemed highlights. I would like to point out that all the examples provided below happened during my life, at a time I can vividly remember. Most likely yours too. These events are not far removed in our collective history. As the US, and other countries enter Libya under similar pretenses described below under the guise of NATO and the UN alike, hopefully we are not doomed to make the mistakes of our past.

Continue reading “UN Peacekeeping : A Humantarian Greatest Hits Box Set”

Flying In The Security Theater

I haven’t flown since these policies were put into place, so let me be state early that I cannot speak from my own experience. (I’m sure when that changes you will hear all about it) What I can comment on however, is being treated like a criminal when there is no evidence. I hate people asking for my receipt when walk 15 yards from a register to a door leaving a retailer, and I detest the notion of other people looking under my clothes or touching my person in the name of “protection” and safety. I go to a lot of large music concerts, and yes I understand the need to search for contraband and alcohol brought in from the outside however never in my years of attending these and similar events have I seen a widespread complaint, let alone entire movements outlining overarching privacy concerns and sentiments of widespread feelings of violation. Wasting my time and destroying my privacy and assuming I’m a hellbent terrorist until proven otherwise does not make me feel safer. Innocent until proven guilty, unless you want to board this plane.

I’m not going to get into a long tirade about the nebulous health issues regarding the use of backscatter radiation to screen passengers or widespread groping occurring in our nation’s airports. These topics have been covered at great length by numerous other more informed and reputable sources than myself. I would however like to take a moment to at least bring the issue to light here and provide some links to some informative websites and groups that are mobilizing travelers, airline employees, and concerned citizens alike as encouragement to readers to take advantage of their voice, and experience the benefits of observing successful efficacy. It’s about time the notions of “social networking” and “crowd sourcing” were leveraged to bring about some substantial and relevant change within society.

Nude TSA Photos Leak Online [via Gizmodo]
The TSA is not compulsory
[via Washington Examiner]
TSA Accosts Three Year Old Girl

Full Frontal Nudity Does Not Make Us Safer: Abolish The TSA
[via Forbes]
National Opt-Out Day ( Website | Twitter )
File a Report With EPIC

If anybody has their own stories or opinions to share here, I’d love to hear some first-hand accounts (no pun intended) in the comments if you feel so inclined. Oh the TSA also runs a blog, while not highly informative they have at least have an Agency approved troll thread

Edit: Thanks to my good friend @chumprock over on Twitter for linking an article from Jeffrey Goldberg posted this time two years ago outlining just how easy these ‘rules’ are to circumvent

Read ‘The Things He Carried‘ [via The Atlantic]

USDA – Culinary Spin Doctors

Dairy Management spent millions of dollars on research to support a national advertising campaign promoting the notion that people could lose weight by consuming more dairy products, records and interviews show. The campaign went on for four years, ending in 2007, even though other researchers — one paid by Dairy Management itself — found no such weight-loss benefits.

An interesting article today from the NY Times, reporting on how the same government agencies than warn us about the dangers of saturated fats and cheese consumption are using government money to develop and market products for such purveyors of healthy foods as Domino’s Pizza and Taco Bell. I love cheese, and, yes I am aware that there are more pressing political issues than the aforementioned however – I love food and politics so, this one seemed worth sharing

The USDA’s conflict of interest problem in a nutshell [via NY Times]

30,000 Clamor for Public Housing Vouchers in Atlanta

From the city that brought you Techwood Homes, America’s first housing projects, Atlanta is continuing to display it’s foremost knowledge in the realm of public housing by setting up a situation in which 30,000 Atlanta residents got to fight it out in a parking lot over what few available housing vouchers were actually there. Excellently organized, way to make me proud Atlanta.

Thanks to The Consumerist for reporting this one first:

The last time public housing rosters were opened up, the city got 2,400 apps. This time, they thought maybe 10,000 would show up. Instead, an estimated 30,000 people descended on an Atlanta parking lot last week so they could pick up an application for public housing. 60 had to be taken to the hospital after fights or just from heat exhaustion. It was 90-100 degrees. And this is just to get on a waiting list. To get an actual voucher can take 8-10 more years.

WaPo exposes depth of Gov't disarray

Recently, the Washington Post launched on an extensive expose surrounding the myriad changes to government programs and spending as a result of the attacks on September 11, 2001 in New York City. The report exposes an extreme number of unsettling revelations obviously, and I don’t want to use this space here to rehash all the information they have collected.

I have not had an opportunity to read the whole thing as of yet, however, I definitely plan on it and I highly encourage sharing the link with as many people possible. Regardless of what side of the political fence you stand on I think everybody in America is ready for some form of change. Information only helps serve voters in bringing about the changes important to them so, as we enter a new election period in 2010, I highly suggest the following:

TOP SECRET AMERICA – A Washington Post Investigation
short link: http://l.icnt.mx/cTJT3j

Weeks later, as he sat in the corner of a ballroom at the Willard Hotel waiting to give a speech, he [retired Adm. Dennis C. Blair] mused about The Post’s findings. “After 9/11, when we decided to attack violent extremism, we did as we so often do in this country,” he said. “The attitude was, if it’s worth doing, it’s probably worth overdoing.”

Please read, please form your own opinions, please share with a friend, and please discuss this openly.