Thursday, July 31, 2014

Greg Hunter, “Weekly News Wrap-Up 8.1.14”

“Weekly News Wrap-Up 8.1.14”
By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com 

“Top story is the Israel/Hamas war. Now, even the Pentagon is concerned about civilian deaths as allegations of Israel shelling a U.N. facility housing civilians was hit. Hamas vows to fight on and so does Israel. Hamas wants its borders opened, and Israel wants the rockets and tunnels shut down. I predicted this is going to go on for a while and is looking like it may spark a wider Middle East war.  Israel is calling up another 16,000 troops. Meanwhile, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is out with new incendiary statements against Israel. He said, “This Festering Zionist Tumor Has Opened Once Again,” when talking about the Israel/Hamas war. Rouhani also said ISIL is “a second festering tumor that murders people in the name of Islam.” Both Israel and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are potential hot spots where wider war can and probably will break out.

U.S. and EU sanctions increased this past week because of the crisis in Ukraine. The sanctions are tougher but leave some loopholes, such as the new sanctions do not include Russia’s biggest bank. I do not think this is going to do anything but escalate a financial war, which could turn into a shooting war. Russia is mulling a response. It may include higher prices for oil and natural gas, barring top U.S. and European accounting firms, and targeting U.S. companies doing business in Russia, such as McDonald’s which has 400 stores. I cannot see how this is going to anything but harm an already sick global economy. By the way, NATO continues war games in Poland.

Speaking of the economy, it supposedly grew at an astounding 4% clip in the second quarter. If you add up the first quarter GDP, a negative 2.9% plunge, to the second quarter 4% positive growth, you only get a 1.1% growth first half of 2014. I suspect this 4% so-called growth will be revised dramatically downward in the months ahead. Gregory Mannarino of TradersChoice.net told me that this 4% number is fake, and it is faked for war propaganda. The debt problem in the world is bad and is a daisy chain of defaults waiting to happen. We have defaults in the EU, and now Argentina, and it’s going to get worse  Mannarino will discuss all of this coming up on Monday.

The Ebola outbreak in Western Africa is out of control according to the Liberian government. 700 so far have died. The disease kills 90% of the people who contract it. Health experts say this could potentially turn into a global epidemic. Ebola detection kits have been dispersed to all 50 states, but our government says don’t worry.

Finally, the conditions here in the Midwest are lush and green. They are projecting a record corn crop with averages between 170 to 200 bushels per acre. The West and Southwest are a totally different story because conditions are extremely dry. 58% of California is at the driest level possible, and the entire state has at least severe drought conditions. This is also the case from Texas to Oregon.

Join Greg Hunter as he analyzes these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-Up."

Musical Interlude: 2002, “We Meet Again”

2002, “We Meet Again”

"For This Is What We Do..."

“For this is what we do. Put one foot forward and then the other. Lift our eyes to the snarl and smile of the world once more. Think. Act. Feel. Add our little consequence to the tides of good and evil that flood and drain the world. Drag our shadowed crosses into the hope of another night. Push our brave hearts into the promise of a new day. With love: the passionate search for truth other than our own. With longing: the pure, ineffable yearning to be saved. For so long as fate keeps waiting, we live on. God help us. God forgive us. We live on.”
- Gregory David Roberts, “Shantaram”

"Vulcan Guiding Principles"

"Vulcan Guiding Principles"
By Moon
"Ideally, do no harm. Harm speeds up the heat-death of the Universe, and indirectly, your own.
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More practically, do as little harm as possible. We are creations of a Universe in which entropy exists, and therefore see no way of escape, but we do not need to help it.
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Harm no one’s internal, invisible integrities. Leave others the privacies of their minds and lives. Intimacy remains precious only insofar as it is inviolate: invading it turns it to torment. Reach out to others courteously: accept their reaching in the same way, with careful hands.
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Do not murder. The spear in the other’s heart is the spear in your own; you are he. All action has reaction: what force you inflict, inevitably returns. The murder of the other is the murder of your own joy, forever.
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As far as possible, do not kill. Can you give life again to what you kill? Then be slow to take life. Take only life that will not notice you taking it. To notice one’s own death increases entropy. To die and not notice it increases it less, but still does so.
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Cast out fear. Cast out hate and rage. Cast out greed and envy. Cast out all emotion that speeds entropy, whether it be love or hate. Cast out these emotions by using reason to accept them, and then move past them. Use in moderation emotions that do not speed entropy, taking all care that they do not cause others pain, for that speeds entropy as well. Master your passions, so that they become a power for the slowing of the heat-death.
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Do no harm to those that harm you. Offer them peace, and offer them peace again, and do it until you die. In this manner you will have peace, one way or another, even if they kill you. And you cannot give others what you have not experienced yourself.
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Learn reason above all. Learn clear thought: learn to know what is from what seems to be. This is the key to everything: the truth of reality, the reality of truth. What is will set you free.”

Surak’s concept of cthia, the guiding principle of Vulcan society, as written by Diane Duane in her novel, “Star Trek: Spock’s World.”

"A Look to the Heavens"

"The southern Milky Way appears spectacular in this composite image taken from Mangaia, the most southerly of the Cook Islands. Few sources of light pollution exist here, home to only 500 people.
Click image for larger size.
The two bright stars at the Milky Way’s center are Alpha (left) and Beta Centauri. They point to Crux the Southern Cross. Near the horizon, two of the satellite galaxies of our Milky Way, the Small (left) and Large Magellanic Clouds are easy to spot."

The Poet: Wendell Berry, "The Wish to Be Generous"

"The Wish to Be Generous"

"All that I serve will die, all my delights,
the flesh kindled from my flesh, garden and field,
the silent lilies standing in the woods,
the woods, the hill, the whole earth, all
will burn in man's evil, or dwindle
in its own age. Let the world bring on me
the sleep of darkness without stars, so I may know
my little light taken from me into the seed
of the beginning and the end, so I may bow
to mystery, and take my stand on the earth
like a tree in a field, passing without haste
or regret toward what will be, my life
a patient willing descent into the grass."

~ Wendell Berry,
“The Collected Poems, 1957-1982”

"What Is Life?"

"What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset."
- Crowfoot, Blackfoot Warrior and Orator

"Who Are You? How Do You Know?"

"Go without a coat when it's cold; find out what cold is. Go hungry; keep your existence lean. Wear away the fat, get down to the lean tissue and see what it's all about. The only time you define your character is when you go without. In times of hardship, you find out what you're made of and what you're capable of. If you're never tested, you'll never define your character."
- Henry Rollins

"As Far As We Can Go..."

“The development of our cerebral cortex has been the greatest achievement of the evolutionary processes. Big deal. While allowing us the thrills of intellect or the pangs of self-consciousness, it is all too often overruled by our inner, instinctive brain - the one that tells us to react, not reflect, to run, rather than ruminate. Maybe we have gone as far as we can go and the next advance, whatever that may be - will be made by beings we create ourselves, using our own technology. Life forms we can design and program not to be ultimately governed and constricted by the rules of survival. Or perhaps that step forward had already been achieved on another planet by organisms that had a billion years head start on us. If these beings ever visited us, would we recognize what we were seeing? And upon catching sight of us, would they react in anything but horror at seeing such mindless, primitive, hideous creatures?”
- “Fox Mulder,” "The X-Files"

The Daily "Near You?"

Horton, Michigan, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

"Promise Me..."

“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe,
and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
- Christopher Robin to “Pooh”

"Life is A Journey- Don't Be Afraid"

"Life is A Journey- Don't Be Afraid"
Author Unknown

"Life is a journey filled with lessons, hardships, heartaches, joys, celebrations and special moments that will ultimately lead us to our destination, our purpose in life. The road will not always be smooth; in fact, throughout our travels, we will encounter many challenges. Some of these challenges will test our courage, strengths, weaknesses, and faith. Along the way, we may stumble upon obstacles that will come between the paths that we are destined to take. In order to follow the right path, we must overcome these obstacles. Sometimes these obstacles are really blessings in disguise, only we don't realize that at the time.

Along our journey we will be confronted with many situations, some will be filled with joy, and some will be filled with heartache. How we react to what we are faced will determine what kind of outcome the rest of our journey through life will be like. When things don't always go our way, we have two choices in dealing with the situations. We can focus on the fact that things didn't go how we had hoped they would and let life pass us by, or two, we can make the best out of the situation and know that these are only temporary setbacks and find the lessons that are to be learned.

Time stops for no one, and if we allow ourselves to focus on the negative we might miss out on some really amazing things that life has to offer. We can't go back to the past, we can only take the lessons that we have learned and the experiences that we have gained from it and move on. It is because of the heartaches, as well as the hardships, that in the end help to make us a stronger person.

The people that we meet on our journey, are people that we are destined to meet. Everybody comes into our lives for some reason or another and we don't always know their purpose until it is too late. They all play some kind of role. Some may stay for a lifetime; others may only stay for a short while. It is often the people who stay for only a short time that end up making a lasting impression not only in our lives, but in our hearts as well. Although we may not realize it at the time, they will make a difference and change our lives in a way we never could imagine. To think that one person can have such a profound effect on your life forever is truly a blessing. It is because of these encounters that we learn some of life's best lessons and sometimes we even learn a little bit about ourselves.

People will come and go into our lives quickly, but sometimes we are lucky to meet that one special person that will stay in our hearts forever no matter what. Even though we may not always end up being with that person and they may not always stay in our life for as long as we like, the lessons that we have learned from them and the experiences that we have gained from meeting that person, will stay with us forever.

It's these things that will give us strength to continue with our journey. We know that we can always look back on those times of our past and know that because of that one individual, we are who we are and we can remember the wonderful moments that we have shared with that person. Memories are priceless treasures that we can cherish forever in our hearts. They also enable us to go on with our journey for whatever life has in store for us. Sometimes all it takes is one special person to help us look inside ourselves and find a whole different person that we never knew existed. Our eyes are suddenly opened to a world we never knew existed- a world where time is so precious and moments never seem to last long enough.

Throughout this adventure, people will give you advice and insights on how to live your life but when it all comes down to it, you must always do what you feel is right. Always follow your heart, and most importantly never have any regrets. Don't hold anything back. Say what you want to say, and do what you want to do, because sometimes we don't get a second chance to say or do what we should have the first time around.

It is often said that what doesn't kill you will make you stronger. It all depends on how one defines the word "strong". It can have different meanings to different people. In this sense, "stronger" means looking back at the person you were and comparing it to the person you have become today. It also means looking deep into your soul and realizing that the person you are today couldn't exist if it weren't for the things that have happened in the past or for the people that you have met. Everything that happens in our life happens for a reason and sometimes that means we must face heartaches in order to experience joy."
- Author Unknown, found here: 

Chet Raymo, “Universal Constants, Universal Consensus”

“Universal Constants, Universal Consensus”
by Chet Raymo

“I received a book in the mail, as I sometimes do, for potential review on this blog, James Stein's “Cosmic Numbers: The Numbers That Define Our Universe”. I often write here about books I read, but I don't review. I did glance at Stein's book, however. It has an audience, but it's not for me; been there, done that. The subtitle is provocative, however. The idea that a dozen or so numbers "define the universe." That's a mind-blowing concept.

The gravitational constant. The speed of light. Absolute zero. Planck's constant. The Hubble constant. And so on. Familiar to every introductory physics student. Built into the very structure of the Earth. And every other earth in the universe.

Click image for larger size.

Look again at the Hubble Ultra Deep Field photograph. above Those myriad of galaxies. Those yawning light-years. That infinitude of worlds. And, as far as we know, the fundamental constants are the same everywhere,

The human mind has thrown a net across the cosmos. And as we have brought the galaxies into our ken, so have we come to realize that we too are part and parcel of the fabric of cosmic space and time. Exceptional clarity. Impenetrable mystery.

So what do we make of the news so breathlessly reported in the media of neutrinos moving faster than the speed of light? This is surely a bit of heroic physics, pitting what we believe to be true against the refining fire of experience, but I wouldn't make too much of it yet. Tom suggested that perhaps the researchers unwittingly measured the distance from CERN in Switzerland to Gran Sasso in Italy with greater accuracy. That's the kind of whimsy the result calls for now. The real story- for the time being- is as an illustration of the way the engine of scientific knowing grinds inexorably toward consensus.”

"Never Alone..."

 "On this earth as beyond this earth you never are alone,
But are in constant company of things and beings
That take a share in your life as you take a share in theirs.
As you seek them, so they seek you.
As you partake of them, so they partake of you."

- Rumi, “The Book of Mirdad”

"How It Really Is"

Technology: “'BadBIOS': "And Now, You're Really Hosed"

"And Now, You're Really Hosed"
 by Karl Denninger

"This isn't good at all...* When creators of the state-sponsored Stuxnet worm used a USB stick to infect air-gapped computers inside Iran's heavily fortified Natanz nuclear facility, trust in the ubiquitous storage medium suffered a devastating blow. Now, white-hat hackers have devised a feat even more seminal- an exploit that transforms keyboards, Web cams, and other types of USB-connected devices into highly programmable attack platforms that can't be detected by today's defenses.

This just plain sucks. What they've done here is figure out that (unfortunately) many of the common USB controller chips are reprogrammable in the field and there is no verification of what's loaded to them. Apparently there is also enough storage (or, in the case of a pen drive, lots of storage!) to do some fairly evil things. At the core of this problem is the fact that a USB device has an identifying "class" and vendor ID. If the "class" is one the computer knows it will attach it, usually without prompting of any sort. This is especially bad if the "class" presented is what is known as a "HID", or "Human Input Device"- like a mouse or worse, a keyboard.

Yes, you can have more than one keyboard connected, and all are active at once. And yes, this is as bad as you think it might be. The worst part of it is that various virus and anti-spyware programs can't detect it because the code doesn't run on the host machine, it runs on the device. All the computer sees is a "keyboard"- but it's not really a keyboard, it's your USB pen drive that sends a key sequence down that invokes something (e.g. a browser to go to a specific bad place.)

This can be detected if you're paying attention, but most people don't. You can see what classes a particular device attached, but few people will look and current operating systems don't prompt, with good cause. How do you answer such a prompt if you're plugging in a keyboard- that isn't yet allowed to attach? Ah, there's a chicken and egg problem, eh?

In any event there ARE defenses against this, but they will require significant operating system patches and then a paradigm to be taken care of with USB- which will help, but not prevent these sorts of exploits.  As it sits right now, unfortunately, mainstream operating systems are wide open to this sort of abuse.

For example, if my keyboard is plugged into USB Port 2, and it has a Vendor ID of "X" and a device type of HID/Keyboard, then any other port, or this port, that sees a different vendor ID and/or ANY HID/Keyboard device would bring up a warning that a user input device, specifically a keyboard, was attempting to attach. You could then say "Yes" or "No", and if the device that popped up that prompt was a webcam or USB data stick go looking for your sledge hammer to get a bit of an upper-body workout taking care the problem.

But as it sits right now the only way you'll catch it is if the vendor and device ID don't match a loaded set of drivers and thus the system has to go looking for them- in which case you will get a warning. Sadly, for the common abuses of this (e.g. keyboards and mice in particular) you almost-certainly already have such a driver on the system and thus you're unlikely to catch it. Yeah, this is a problem...  and a pretty nasty problem at that."
*“BadUSB” Exploit Makes Devices Turn 'Evil'”
"Meet “badBIOS,” The Mysterious Mac and PC Malware That Jumps Airgaps"
Like a super strain of bacteria, the rootkit plaguing Dragos Ruiu is omnipotent.
by Dan Goodin

"Three years ago, security consultant Dragos Ruiu was in his lab when he noticed something highly unusual: his MacBook Air, on which he had just installed a fresh copy of OS X, spontaneously updated the firmware that helps it boot. Stranger still, when Ruiu then tried to boot the machine off a CD ROM, it refused. He also found that the machine could delete data and undo configuration changes with no prompting. He didn't know it then, but that odd firmware update would become a high-stakes malware mystery that would consume most of his waking hours.

In the following months, Ruiu observed more odd phenomena that seemed straight out of a science-fiction thriller. A computer running the Open BSD operating system also began to modify its settings and delete its data without explanation or prompting. His network transmitted data specific to the Internet's next-generation IPv6 networking protocol, even from computers that were supposed to have IPv6 completely disabled. Strangest of all was the ability of infected machines to transmit small amounts of network data with other infected machines even when their power cords and Ethernet cables were unplugged and their Wi-Fi and Bluetooth cards were removed. Further investigation soon showed that the list of affected operating systems also included multiple variants of Windows and Linux.

"We were like, 'Okay, we're totally owned,'" Ruiu told Ars. "'We have to erase all our systems and start from scratch,' which we did. It was a very painful exercise. I've been suspicious of stuff around here ever since." In the intervening three years, Ruiu said, the infections have persisted, almost like a strain of bacteria that's able to survive extreme antibiotic therapies. Within hours or weeks of wiping an infected computer clean, the odd behavior would return. The most visible sign of contamination is a machine's inability to boot off a CD, but other, more subtle behaviors can be observed when using tools such as Process Monitor, which is designed for troubleshooting and forensic investigations.

Another intriguing characteristic: in addition to jumping "airgaps" designed to isolate infected or sensitive machines from all other networked computers, the malware seems to have self-healing capabilities. "We had an air-gapped computer that just had its [firmware] BIOS reflashed, a fresh disk drive installed, and zero data on it, installed from a Windows system CD," Ruiu said. "At one point, we were editing some of the components and our registry editor got disabled. It was like: wait a minute, how can that happen? How can the machine react and attack the software that we're using to attack it? This is an air-gapped machine and all of a sudden the search function in the registry editor stopped working when we were using it to search for their keys."

Over the past two weeks, Ruiu has taken to Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus to document his investigative odyssey and share a theory that has captured the attention of some of the world's foremost security experts. The malware, Ruiu believes, is transmitted though USB drives to infect the lowest levels of computer hardware. With the ability to target a computer's Basic Input/Output System (BIOS), Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), and possibly other firmware standards, the malware can attack a wide variety of platforms, escape common forms of detection, and survive most attempts to eradicate it.

But the story gets stranger still. In posts here, here, and here, Ruiu posited another theory that sounds like something from the screenplay of a post-apocalyptic movie: "badBIOS," as Ruiu dubbed the malware, has the ability to use high-frequency transmissions passed between computer speakers and microphones to bridge airgaps.

Bigfoot in the age of the advanced persistent threat: At times as I've reported this story, its outline has struck me as the stuff of urban legend, the advanced persistent threat equivalent of a Bigfoot sighting. Indeed, Ruiu has conceded that while several fellow security experts have assisted his investigation, none has peer reviewed his process or the tentative findings that he's beginning to draw. (A compilation of Ruiu's observations is here.)

Also unexplained is why Ruiu would be on the receiving end of such an advanced and exotic attack. As a security professional, the organizer of the internationally renowned CanSecWest and PacSec conferences, and the founder of the Pwn2Own hacking competition, he is no doubt an attractive target to state-sponsored spies and financially motivated hackers. But he's no more attractive a target than hundreds or thousands of his peers, who have so far not reported the kind of odd phenomena that has afflicted Ruiu's computers and networks.

In contrast to the skepticism that's common in the security and hacking cultures, Ruiu's peers have mostly responded with deep-seated concern and even fascination to his dispatches about badBIOS.

"Everybody in security needs to follow @dragosr and watch his analysis of #badBIOS," Alex Stamos, one of the more trusted and sober security researchers, wrote in a tweet last week. Jeff Moss—the founder of the Defcon and Blackhat security conferences who in 2009 began advising Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on matters of computer security—retweeted the statement and added: "No joke it's really serious." Plenty of others agree.

"Dragos is definitely one of the good reliable guys, and I have never ever even remotely thought him dishonest," security researcher Arrigo Triulzi told Ars. "Nothing of what he describes is science fiction taken individually, but we have not seen it in the wild ever."

Been there, done that: Triulzi said he's seen plenty of firmware-targeting malware in the laboratory. A client of his once infected the UEFI-based BIOS of his Mac laptop as part of an experiment. Five years ago, Triulzi himself developed proof-of-concept malware that stealthily infected the network interface controllers that sit on a computer motherboard and provide the Ethernet jack that connects the machine to a network. His research built off of work by John Heasman that demonstrated how to plant hard-to-detect malware known as a rootkit in a computer's peripheral component interconnect, the Intel-developed connection that attaches hardware devices to a CPU.

It's also possible to use high-frequency sounds broadcast over speakers to send network packets. Early networking standards used the technique, said security expert Rob Graham. Ultrasonic-based networking is also the subject of a great deal of research, including this project by scientists at MIT.

Of course, it's one thing for researchers in the lab to demonstrate viable firmware-infecting rootkits and ultra high-frequency networking techniques. But as Triulzi suggested, it's another thing entirely to seamlessly fuse the two together and use the weapon in the real world against a seasoned security consultant. What's more, use of a USB stick to infect an array of computer platforms at the BIOS level rivals the payload delivery system found in the state-sponsored Stuxnet worm unleashed to disrupt Iran's nuclear program. And the reported ability of badBIOS to bridge airgaps also has parallels to Flame, another state-sponsored piece of malware that used Bluetooth radio signals to communicate with devices not connected to the Internet.

"Really, everything Dragos reports is something that's easily within the capabilities of a lot of people," said Graham, who is CEO of penetration testing firm Errata Security. "I could, if I spent a year, write a BIOS that does everything Dragos said badBIOS is doing. To communicate over ultrahigh frequency sound waves between computers is really, really easy."

Coincidentally, Italian newspapers this week reported that Russian spies attempted to monitor attendees of last month's G20 economic summit by giving them memory sticks and recharging cables programmed to intercept their communications.

Eureka: For most of the three years that Ruiu has been wrestling with badBIOS, its infection mechanism remained a mystery. A month or two ago, after buying a new computer, he noticed that it was almost immediately infected as soon as he plugged one of his USB drives into it. He soon theorized that infected computers have the ability to contaminate USB devices and vice versa. "The suspicion right now is there's some kind of buffer overflow in the way the BIOS is reading the drive itself, and they're reprogramming the flash controller to overflow the BIOS and then adding a section to the BIOS table," he explained.

He still doesn't know if a USB stick was the initial infection trigger for his MacBook Air three years ago, or if the USB devices were infected only after they came into contact with his compromised machines, which he said now number between one and two dozen. He said he has been able to identify a variety of USB sticks that infect any computer they are plugged into. At next month's PacSec conference, Ruiu said he plans to get access to expensive USB analysis hardware that he hopes will provide new clues behind the infection mechanism.

He said he suspects badBIOS is only the initial module of a multi-staged payload that has the ability to infect the Windows, Mac OS X, BSD, and Linux operating systems. "It's going out over the network to get something or it's going out to the USB key that it was infected from," he theorized. "That's also the conjecture of why it's not booting CDs. It's trying to keep its claws, as it were, on the machine. It doesn't want you to boot another OS it might not have code for." To put it another way, he said, badBIOS "is the tip of the warhead, as it were."

“Things kept getting fixed”: Ruiu said he arrived at the theory about badBIOS's high-frequency networking capability after observing encrypted data packets being sent to and from an infected laptop that had no obvious network connection with—but was in close proximity to—another badBIOS-infected computer. The packets were transmitted even when the laptop had its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth cards removed. Ruiu also disconnected the machine's power cord so it ran only on battery to rule out the possibility that it was receiving signals over the electrical connection. Even then, forensic tools showed the packets continued to flow over the airgapped machine. Then, when Ruiu removed the internal speaker and microphone connected to the airgapped machine, the packets suddenly stopped.

With the speakers and mic intact, Ruiu said, the isolated computer seemed to be using the high-frequency connection to maintain the integrity of the badBIOS infection as he worked to dismantle software components the malware relied on. "The airgapped machine is acting like it's connected to the Internet," he said. "Most of the problems we were having is we were slightly disabling bits of the components of the system. It would not let us disable some things. Things kept getting fixed automatically as soon as we tried to break them. It was weird."

It's too early to say with confidence that what Ruiu has been observing is a USB-transmitted rootkit that can burrow into a computer's lowest levels and use it as a jumping off point to infect a variety of operating systems with malware that can't be detected. It's even harder to know for sure that infected systems are using high-frequency sounds to communicate with isolated machines. But after almost two weeks of online discussion, no one has been able to rule out these troubling scenarios, either.

"It looks like the state of the art in intrusion stuff is a lot more advanced than we assumed it was," Ruiu concluded in an interview. "The take-away from this is a lot of our forensic procedures are weak when faced with challenges like this. A lot of companies have to take a lot more care when they use forensic data if they're faced with sophisticated attackers."

The Economy: "How America's Working Stiffs Got Stiffed"

"How America's Working Stiffs Got Stiffed" 
by Bill Bonner

"Amazing how much difference a few years make. We first visited China in the 1980s. It was an appalling dump. Few cars. Few roads. Almost no decent restaurants or hotels. Now in Beijing you see large black luxury automobiles everywhere... and modern highways crisscrossing in front of huge hotels and apartment buildings. The Chinese have made real progress! Thank You, Deng Xiaoping!

Nobody had any money in China in the 1980s. In contrast, today you lose control of your car in downtown Beijing and you are bound to run over at least a couple of millionaires. "We are very much aware of our extraordinary good fortune," said a Chinese man in his 50s. "We grew up with nothing. Now we are able to dine in fine restaurants, live in fine houses and travel to other parts of the world. I thank Chairman Deng Xiaoping for having the wisdom to point us in the right direction... and the Party leadership for having the good judgment to keep us on the right road." 

The Party leadership is not infallible. Neither in China nor in the US. In both countries, the feds – looking out for themselves – make policy decisions that are disastrous for others. 

We were in China for only a few days. We have no idea what calamity the central planners will cause there. But we can take a fair guess of what they will do to America. Broadly, China's feds build too many factories, malls and apartments. America's feds encouraged the opposite error – borrowing and spending too much for consumption purposes. China's real wages doubled in the last 10 years... after doubling in the previous 10 years. That is why the Chinese feel so much better off. They ARE much better off. "Yes, we know there may be a slowdown... or even a financial crisis... coming. But we have gone ahead so far so fast we can put up with a little backsliding," said our friend cheerfully.

Losing Ground: Americans are not likely to be so cheerful about it. They've lost ground, not gained it. And now, down at the bottom of the pay ladder, US workers are fed up. From Bloomberg: "Thousands of fast-food workers from restaurants such as McDonald's Corp. and Wendy's Co. walked off the job beginning today to protest for higher pay. 

American fast-food and retail workers have been striking this year for higher wages, and the protest starting today seeks wages of $15 an hour, 66% higher than the $9.02 that US fast-food cooks earn, on average. In April, employees from McDonald's and Yum! Brands Inc., which owns the KFC and Taco Bell chains, joined workers from Macy's Inc. and L Brands Inc.'s Victoria's Secret chain in walking off the job in Chicago and New York for higher pay. 

The leisure and hospitality industry, which includes restaurants, is adding jobs faster than any other sector in the US. In June, the sector added 75,000 jobs, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fast-food cooks make $9.02 an hour, or about $18,760 a year, on average, according to 2012 data from the Washington-based agency."

Let's see... According to the official numbers, $1 when we were born (right after World War II) was worth about $10 today. But the official numbers are fishy. An average house in 1950 sold for less than $10,000. Today (after a big sell-off following the subprime mortgage debacle of 2008) the typical house sells for about $150,000. 

On that basis, keeping up with your No. 1 cost – housing – would require 15 times as much money as it did in 1950. Do people earn 15 times more now? After the war, a typical family had a single wage earner with a salary of about $250 a month – or $3,000 a year. The minimum wage was 75 cents an hour – or about $120 a month. On an average wage, a man was able to support a family and buy a new car every three or four years. A new Oldsmobile Rocket 88 cost about $1,500 – or about half of a year's wages. 

Today, a median wage earner gets $30,000 a year – 10 times as much in nominal terms. But now, despite the feds' phony numbers, he has much less buying power. Without even staring to calculate the effects of higher taxes, health care and education expenses, we can see he has to devote at least a whole year's wages to buying a new family car – twice as much as in 1950. As for the house, that's five years of wages – also twice as much as it was in the 1950s. 

Bamboozled by Credit: As you can see, the real wages of the typical working man in the US have gone down for the last 60 years. In terms of his time, his most important purchases are more expensive today than they were in 1950. 

How did American workers survive with lower real wages and higher living costs? First, they began to work longer hours. Wives went to work. Husbands worked a second job. Now Americans work more hours than any other group. Second, and most importantly from our point of view, they began to borrow. Aided, induced and bamboozled by the feds' EZ credit policies... they went deep into debt to keep up with their own standards of living. More to come...“

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"The Last Whale"

 "As I rocked in the moonlight,
And reefed the sail.
It'll happen to you
Also without fail,
If it happens to me.
Sang the world's last whale."

- Pete Seeger

“North America: Massive Numbers of Sea Creatures Dying Along the West Coast”

“North America: Massive Numbers of Sea 
Creatures Dying Along the West Coast”
by Michael Synder

“Never before have we seen so much death along the west coast of North America. Massive numbers of sea stars, bluefin tuna, sardines, anchovies, herring, oysters, salmon, marine mammals and marine birds are dying, and experts are puzzled. We are being told that we could even see "local extinctions" of some of these sea creatures. So are all of these deaths related? If so, what in the world could be causing this to happen? What has changed so dramatically that it would cause massive numbers of sea creatures to die along the west coast? The following are 15 examples of this phenomenon. Most scientists do not believe that these incidents are related. But when you put them all together, it paints quite a disturbing picture... 

1. A "mystery plague" is turning sea stars all along the west coast of the United States and Canada into piles of goo... Sea stars, commonly referred to as starfish, have been dying off in alarming numbers along the entire West Coast, from Baja, Mexico, to Alaska. According to reports from the Seattle Aquarium, some parts of Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands have seen population declines of up to 80 percent. 

On the Oregon coast, according to CoastWatch Volunteer Coordinator Fawn Custer, "Last December, we had less than 1 percent of sea star wasting. By May 1, more than 5 percent of sea stars were affected. Now, I would say, in some areas, it is up to 90 percent." A marine epidemiologist at Cornell University says that this is "the largest mortality event for marine diseases we've seen". 

2. The population of bluefin tuna in the Pacific Ocean has declined by 95 percent. Mexico has already banned fishing for bluefin tuna for the rest of the year, and the U.S. government is considering doing the same thing. 

3. Sardine, anchovy and herring populations have dropped dramatically along the west coast in recent years... Pacific sardine populations have shown an alarming decline in recent years, and some evidence suggests anchovy and herring populations may be dropping as well. The declines could push fishermen toward other currently unmanaged "forage fish," such as saury, smelt and sand lance, stealing a critical food source relied on by salmon and other economically important predators. 

In response, the Pacific Fishery Management Council is considering an ecosystem-based management approach that recognizes the fundamental role of forage fish in the Pacific marine food web. Tiny, but abundant, these small schooling fish feed on plankton and, in turn, fill the bellies of Oregon's iconic marine species, including salmon, sharks, whales, sea lions and sea birds.

4. "Record numbers of distressed sea lions have washed ashore in California" for the second year in a row. One news report described these distressed sea lions as "malnourished and dehydrated, too weak to find food on their own". 

5. Marine birds are "disappearing" in the Pacific northwest... From white-winged scoters and surf scoters to long-tailed ducks, murres, loons and some seagulls, the number of everyday marine birds here has plummeted dramatically in recent decades. Scoters are down more than 75 percent from what they were in the late 1970s. Murres have dropped even more. Western grebes have mostly vanished, falling from several hundred thousand birds to about 20,000.

6. Those that work in the seafood industry on the west coast are noticing some very "unusual" mutations. For example, a red king crab that was recently caught in Alaska was colored bright blue

7. Pelicans along the California coastline are "refusing to mate". This is being blamed on a lack of fish for the pelicans to eat. As a result, we are seeing less than one percent of the usual number of baby pelicans. 

8. The oyster population in the Pacific is falling so fast that it is being called "the great American oyster collapse". 

9. The population of sockeye salmon along the coast of Alaska is at a "historic low". 

10. Something is causing herring off the coast of British Columbia to bleed from their gills, bellies and eyeballs. 

11. Scientists have discovered very high levels of cesium-137 in plankton living in the waters of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and the west coast. 

12. Back in May, more than six tons of anchovies died in Marina Del Ray over a single weekend. 

13. Just a few days ago, thousands of dead fish were found on Capitola Beach. Authorities are trying to figure out what caused this. 

14. Earlier this month, thousands of dead fish were found on Manresa Beach

15. According to a study conducted by researchers at Oregon State University, radiation levels in tuna caught off the coast of Oregon approximately tripled in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. 

Could it be possible that at least some of these deaths are related to what has been happening at Fukushima? We do know that fish caught just off the shore from Fukushima have been tested to have radioactive cesium that is up to 124 times above the level that is considered to be safe. And we also know that a study conducted at the University of South Wales concluded that the main radioactive plume of water from Fukushima would reach our shores at some point during 2014

Is it so unreasonable to think that the greatest nuclear disaster in human history could have something to do with the death of all of these sea creatures? 

Just consider what one very experienced Australian boat captain discovered when he crossed the Pacific last year. According to him, it felt as though "the ocean itself was dead"... "The next leg of the long voyage was from Osaka to San Francisco and for most of that trip the desolation was tinged with nauseous horror and a degree of fear. "After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead," Macfadyen said. "We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening. I've done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I'm used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen." 

In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding volumes. "Part of it was the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Japan a couple of years ago. The wave came in over the land, picked up an unbelievable load of stuff and carried it out to sea. And it's still out there, everywhere you look."

What do you think? Is Fukushima to blame, or do you think that something else is causing massive numbers of sea creatures to die?"
- http://www.sott.net/
Related:
“Fukushima Equals 6,000 Hiroshima Bombs Today, More Tomorrow; 
There is No Place On Earth to Escape the Rad”
“First thing, grasp the difficult concept that this is an ELE or Extinction Level Event. There is no escaping our fate, there are no solutions.”
- http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/
A search for "Fukushima" on this blog would be most instructive...

Manuel Iman, “This Moment Called Now”

Manuel Iman, “This Moment Called Now”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“NGC 253 is not only one of the brightest spiral galaxies visible, it is also one of the dustiest. Discovered in 1783 by Caroline Herschel in the constellation of Sculptor, NGC 253 lies only about ten million light-years distant. 
Click image for larger size.
NGC 253 is the largest member of the Sculptor Group of Galaxies, the nearest group to our own Local Group of Galaxies. The dense dark dust accompanies a high star formation rate, giving NGC 253 the designation of starburst galaxy. Visible in the above photograph is the active central nucleus, also known to be a bright source of X-rays and gamma rays.”

Paulo Coelho, "Defeat"

 
"Defeat"
by Paulo Coelho

"Does a leaf, when it falls from the tree in winter, feel defeated by the cold? The tree says to the leaf: ‘That’s the cycle of life. You may think you’re going to die, but you live on in me. It’s thanks to you that I’m alive, because I can breathe. It’s also thanks to you that I have felt loved, because I was able to give shade to the weary traveller. Your sap is in my sap, we are one thing.’

Does a man who spent years preparing to climb the highest mountain in the world feel defeated on reaching that mountain and discovering that nature has cloaked the summit in storm clouds? The man says to the mountain: ‘You don’t want me this time, but the weather will change and, one day, I will make it to the top. Meanwhile, you’ll still be here waiting for me.’

Does a young man, rejected by his first love, declare that love does not exist? The young man says to himself: ‘I’ll find someone better able to understand what I feel. And then I will be happy for the rest of my days.’

Losing a battle or losing everything we thought we possessed will bring us moments of sadness, but when those moments pass, we will discover the hidden strength that exists in each of us, a strength that will surprise us and increase our self-respect.

Wait patiently for the right moment to act. Do not let the next opportunity slip.

Take pride in your scars. Scars are medals branded on the flesh, and your enemies will be frightened by them because they are proof of your long experience of battle. Often this will lead them to seek dialogue and avoid conflict. Scars speak more loudly than the sword that caused them.”

"Why We Don’t Remember: The Gift of This Journey"

"Why We Don’t Remember: The Gift of This Journey"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM
"If you would behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the
 body of life. For life and death are one, even as the river and sea are one."
- Kahlil Gibran

"There is a gift in not remember who we are when we are born into this lifetime; the gift is the journey. Many of us wonder why we do not remember who we were before we were born. We wonder what it was like to be a soul without a body and what it will be like to be one again. Many of us have a strange sense that we do remember, as if we did experience a bodiless existence, but we can’t quite recall the details. We may remember feeling as if we were flying, or as if we were just incredibly light and unrestricted in our movements. Still, most of us do not recall anything in detail about the time before we incarnated into a human body.

There are many possible reasons for this deep forgetting, one of which is that remembering would probably impinge upon our ability to fully commit to this life. Experiencing life on earth without any memory of an alternative existence allows us to be here completely, and that is what is required in order for us to learn much of what we must learn here. Most of us are not meant to spend our time here preoccupied with concerns beyond the realm of this lifetime. Instead, it is our job to occupy our bodies and our planet with a fullness that would not be possible if we were constantly aware of another, and extremely different, realm of existence.

There is no doubt that life on earth is difficult in ways that life outside of a body is not. As we modulate our energy to move into a body, our consciousness changes, and this is a necessary change. Forgetting other levels of being protects us from a confused and divided experience. Soon enough, we will be back where we started, so thinking too much about it now is a bit like being on a fascinating journey and spending the whole time thinking about going home. It is more in alignment with our purpose here to be fully present in the gift of this journey, unreservedly offering our energy to the experience we are having right now."
"Children can have verifiable past life memories that can be independently corroborated. They can present specific names, places and events that they never can had a chance to know about. These specifics can be confirmed by going back years in the public records. Birth marks and birth defects can show up in situ of weapons wounds that caused their often violent or traumatic death."

"Past Life, Near Death Experience, Reincarnation Studies"
- http://coyoteprime-runningcauseicantfly.blogspot.com/2010/11/past-life-near-death-experience.html
Rebirth scientific research:
- http://www.near-death.com/experiences/reincarnation01.html

BBC documentary on Near Death Experiences:
- http://youtu.be/u8Ub2xx0KQ0

A baffled US homicide detective proves his past painter life!
- http://youtu.be/PuayR6P-h_U

CG Jung: Death is not the end & then What?
- http://youtu.be/6GOeQZZYx34

The Cardiologist on the Near-Death Experience 1
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICdizzVY5h4

The Cardiologist on the Near-Death Experience 2
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFxc67bLrW0

"My Purpose..."

“The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars...”

~ from “Ulysses,” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

The Daily "Near You?"

Anacortes, Washington, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

Chet Raymo, "ICBW IDTS"

"ICBW IDTS"
by Chet Raymo

"Which means, according to text messagers, "It could be worse (but) I don't think so." It seems a Finn has published a 332-page novel written entirely in text messaging abbreviations. Leave it to the Finns, who essentially invented mobile phone culture.

Well, that's one novel I will never read. At my age, I might as well try to learn Finnish as the language of TXT MSG. I've had a mobile (as they call them in Europe) for three years now, and I've yet to have an incoming call. Not surprising, since no one has my number, and even if they did the phone is never on. I had an instant message once, but it was in English, from another IM illiterate. The mobile is a handy thing, which I take with me when I travel. I have a cheapo calling plan that gives me 100 minutes for 90 days. I've never used more than 10.

I know a cultural revolution is passing me by, and IMHO a rather significant one. It's like we are all being raptured out of our bodies into the ether. In the new dispensation, protoplasm is less important than pixels. Me, I'll stay in the world where we still go eye-to-eye, hold hands, mush lips, and make babies in double beds.

A hundred years ago, it was the telephone, which "Scientific American" magazine then saw as "nothing less than a new organization of society- a state of things in which every individual, however secluded, will have at call every other individual in the community, to the saving of no end of social and business complications, of needless goings to and fro." Another pundit of that time proclaimed an "epoch of neighborship without propinquity." Or, as I suppose we'd say now, ILY W/O F2F. Propinquity survived the telephone. Propinquity will doubtless survive TXT MSG There are some things we can't get via that tiny scrolling screen. A decent haircut? A dozen red roses? A coronary bypass? BCNU...”

The Poet: Jeanne Lohmann, "Questions Before Dark"

"Questions Before Dark"

"Day ends, and before sleep
when the sky dies down, 
consider your altered state: 
has this day changed you?  
Are the corners sharper or rounded off? 
 Did you live with death?  
Make decisions that quieted?  
Find one clear word that fit? 
 At the sun's midpoint did you notice a pitch of absence,
bewilderment that invites the possible? 
 What did you learn from things you dropped
 and picked up and dropped again? 
Did you set a straw parallel to the river, 
let the flow carry you downstream?"

- Jeanne Lohmann,
"The Light of Invisible Bodies"