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Gender: Male
Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 37,592

Journal Archives

Daunting Tests Await Admiral Named N.S.A. Chief

WASHINGTON — It is not hard to understand why veterans of the National Security Agency argue that 2013 was the worst year since Harry S. Truman got the place running 62 years ago.

It started with Edward Snowden’s leaks of stolen N.S.A. documents and ended with a holiday letter to families of agency employees declaring that despite what everyone was hearing on television and reading in the papers, their relatives were heroes, not violators of privacy rights. In recent weeks it has gotten tougher. President Obama has moved from lukewarm defenses of the agency’s programs to embracing recommendations to take the bulk collection of telephone call records out of its hands.

Google and Yahoo say they are equipping themselves with new technologies designed to defeat N.S.A. interception, and the general counsel of Microsoft blogged not long ago that “government snooping potentially now constitutes an ‘advanced persistent threat,’ ” a phrase normally used to describe China’s most sophisticated hackers. And to stop leakers, the agency plans to step up monitoring the calls, emails and financial transactions of agency employees, a move the N.S.A.’s privacy critics find particularly rich in irony.

The man chosen by Mr. Obama to navigate this bureaucratic, political and public relations disaster is Vice Adm. Michael S. Rogers, who on Tuesday will face members of the Senate at his confirmation hearing, an event not likely to be accompanied by the thunderous applause that greeted Mr. Snowden in Texas. Friends of Admiral Rogers in the intelligence community, who have worked with him in his current job running the Navy’s Fleet Cyber Command, say they wonder whether he has a sense of what he is wading into.

“Why would anyone in his right mind be director of N.S.A. right now?” asked John R. Schindler, a former N.S.A. officer who is now a professor at the Naval War College. “It’s a massive political headache.”


Bomb Squad Destroys Pressure Cooker On East Boston Street

EAST BOSTON (CBS) – The bomb squad destroyed a pressure cooker left unattended on a street in East Boston Tuesday morning.

Boston Police were called to a house on Lexington Street near the O’Donnell Elementary School around 9:30 a.m. after the device was discovered on the sidewalk.

A member of the bomb squad set up a disruption device near the pressure cooker and a few minutes later it was blown up.

Police later said the pressure cooker was empty.

A spokesperson for Boston Public Schools told WBZ-TV the device was not on school grounds and students and teachers were not in any danger, but the school was put into safe mode as a precaution.

Police say a neighbor called them to alert them to the device. They’re not sure yet who put it on the sidewalk.

Two pressure cookers were used as explosives in the Boston Marathon bombings last year.

“People are sensitive to this. We’ve had a lot of people go through a serious crisis this year with pressure cookers. It’s no joke. We don’t take it as a joke. We’ll never take it as a joke,” Boston Police Capt. Kelley McCormick told WBZ-TV.


Either someone out there is really oblivious, or just trying to be a dick...

The Edward Snowden NSA Story Re-enacted By Kids


Does something like this belong in the office of a pimp, or merely a gangster?

For those tired of driving a desk and would rather be driving a Rolls-Royce, here’s a desk that is billed as the Rolls-Royce of office desks. Even the lights light up, although it’s not so clear whether the headlight washer-wiper works (and, for the well being of your tax return print-outs, maybe hope they don’t). If you are chained to a desk, you may as well be captive in style.


Fishermen find oldest message in a bottle

German fishermen made a surprising catch this week when they pulled the oldest recorded message in a bottle out of the sea. A man from Berlin scribbled the note 101 years ago.

What initially looked like a normal, discarded beer bottle, nestled among fish in the Maria I's nets, turned out to be a record-breaking find – as it contained a postcard dated May 17th, 1913 written by a man named Richard Platz.

A modest Danish postcard with two German stamps on it and a polite message asking the finder to send it on to his address in Berlin; it appears that Platz could have been trying to save on international postage fees.

But the card never arrived, instead landing in the hands of fishermen from Heikendorf in Schleswig Holstein, on Tuesday – over 100 years later.

“I had it in my hand, but then a colleague told me there was something in it,” skipper Konrad Fischer told regional newspaper the Kieler Nachrichten, explaining he was ready to throw it back into the Baltic.

“When I saw the date I got really excited,” he said.

Until now, the oldest message in a bottle listed in the Guinness Book of Records was 97 years old when found in 2012, making Fischer's a potential record breaker.

Did this really happen?


What happens when you land on a different aircraft carrier pic.twitter.com/nGgHI7Ofri

The State Department Is Actively Trolling Terrorists on Twitter

Here's one way the US government is trying to combat terrorism without the use of controversial explosions. A tiny portion of your tax dollars—just a few million dollars annually—is funding the State Department's trolling of jihadists on Twitter.

One of the State Department's official (and verified) Twitter accounts, called "Think AgainTurn Away" and going by the handle @ThinkAgain_DOS, is devoted to speaking "some truths about terrorism" online. If you follow the account, you'll notice that this truth often manifests itself in the form of the State Department directly tweeting at Islamists and their supporters in English, and countering their beliefs.

This kind of thing isn't unusual for the State Department. The Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications was established in 2010 to coordinate messaging to target violent extremism on the internet, especially that of Al Qaeda and affiliates. CSCC (an interagency center that is housed at State) initially focused on non-English online forums where the State Department saw jihadists attempting to recruit and raise money (message boards, comments on Al Jazeera Talk, etc.) Late last year, CSCC made a move into English-language websites, with the small team of analysts and microbloggers expanding their fight on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and elsewhere, under the banner of the US State Department. @ThinkAgain_DOS is just one of their tools in this digital-outreach turf war.


Ukraine decides to compete in Paralympics in Sochi

SOCHI – Ukrainian athletes, who have spent a difficult and emotional few days training in Russia, have decided to stay and compete when the 2014 Paralympics begin Saturday.

Valeriy Suskevich, Ukraine’s Paralympic Committee president, announced the decision Friday 30 minutes into a drawn-out, emotional address before more than 200 media. There had been speculation that the Ukraine would boycott the Games.

Suskevich detailed his feelings about para-sport, the impact of the Paralympics and the controversial buildup of Russian troops in the Crimea region of Ukraine. And several times, he made a strong plea for peace.

He said there was no intention to mix politics and sport, but said the Ukrainians “cannot remain indifferent to the situation in our country.” He said the decision to stay in Sochi was only made after he had a 30-minute meeting Thursday night with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Suskevich said it was a “very calm, respectful talk,” in which he stressed the need for peace in Ukraine and Europe, particularly during the nine-day period of the Games.


Let us all laugh at the most hilarious L.A. Lakers

I do feel a little sympathy for the Lakeshow, since they have my boys Bazemore (Old Dominion) and Henry (Kansas) on the roster


Obama to Black People: I’m Showing You the Money

President Obama released his fiscal year 2015 budget this week, telling reporters that the document "is about choices, it's about our values." And the White House is making the case that those values have everything to do with creating a better life for black people in America.

Of course, you'll find little of the controversial race-specific "black and Latino" language that characterized the recent launch of the My Brother's Keeper initiative in the budget. But a related fact sheet released by the White House, titled "Opportunity for All: Supporting African American Families" (pdf), encourages Americans to read between the lines with an eye to where the president is looking out for black people.

While the document largely reflects Obama's long-held "the most important thing I can do for the African-American community is the same thing I can do for the American community, period … " stance—trumpeting general, national priorities from "Supporting the implementation of the Affordable Care Act" to "Spurring Economic Growth and Job Creation by Providing Access to Capital"—it does get more specific at times when it comes to fostering racial equality.

Some budget highlights from the fact sheet:

On support for minority businesses (pdf): "The budget includes $28 million for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) to provide counseling, training, and technical assistance to minority business owners."

On protecting Civil Rights (pdf): "The budget supports activities at the Department of Justice to ensure the protection of civil rights, including enforcing Federal prohibitions against racial and ethnic discrimination. In addition, the Budget provides resources to prevent and remedy discrimination in the workplace by maintaining strong support for the Equal Opportunity Commission and the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs."

On reducing racial disparities (pdf) in juvenile justice: "The budget, through the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative, includes a new youth investment initiative that will incentivize state efforts to increase the availability of alternatives to incarceration, reenroll youth back into school after confinement, and reduce ethnic and racial disparities in the juvenile justice system ... "

On supporting HBCUs (pdf) and access to college: "The budget provides $75 million for College Success Grants to support sustainable strategies to reduce costs and improve student outcomes at Minority Serving Institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions. The cudget also sustains funding for GEAR UP and TRIO to help provide support services for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to prepare for, enroll, and complete postsecondary education."

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