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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 23,864

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NOTE: Anyone can join Democratic Underground. They can claim anything. Democratic Underground gives no warranty that the people with which you interact on Democratic Underground are Democrats or even Progressives. They may be Republicans, other political agitators or merely the mentally-unstable, heavily intoxicated or deranged personalities whose behavior is best described as "shit-stirring assholes". Furthermore, reading the first two sentences again, realize that their irrational, inflammatory or destructive behavior may appear to be supported by other individuals or even the bulk of respondents to a given post. However, always applying the above paragraph to certain phantasmagoric situations you may witness in given threads in our fora, you are best served by believing only those ideas that you agree with to be real and the rest, highly suspect.

Journal Archives

WTF? Report Suggests NSA Engaged In Financial Manipulation, Changing Money In Bank Accounts:

Report Suggests NSA Engaged In Financial Manipulation, Changing Money In Bank Accounts

Matt Blaze has been pointing out that when you read the new White House intelligence task force report and its recommendations on how to reform the NSA and the wider intelligence community, that there may be hints to other excesses not yet revealed by the Snowden documents. Trevor Timm may have spotted a big one. In the recommendation concerning increasing security in online communications, the second sub-point sticks out like a sore thumb:

Not much more at the link but there are links peppered throughout it, so worth a visit. (hat-tip to kulkke for the post on Reddit)

Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial system.

My oh my.


Fucking scary: Indiana State Police tracking cellphones - but won't say how or why

Dude. Check this shit out:

Indiana State Police tracking cellphones but won't say how or why:
This year, the Indiana State Police paid $373,995 for a device that law enforcement personnel have described as a powerful tool in the fight against crime and terrorism. It could allow investigators in a surveillance vehicle to park in a crowded area and track the movements of anyone nearby with a cellphone and capture the numbers of people’s incoming and outgoing calls and text messages.

All of which concerns civil liberties and open-government groups.

They worry that the technology could be used to violate innocent Hoosiers’ constitutionally protected rights to privacy if proper checks and balances aren’t in place.

But officials at Indiana’s largest police agency aren’t saying what they do with the technology; they’re mum on whose data they’ve collected so far; and they’re not talking about what steps they take to safeguard the data.

Citing concerns that releasing any information would endanger public safety by hindering the agency’s ability to fight crime and combat terrorism, they won’t even say whether they ask a judge for a search warrant before they turn the equipment on.

Ah, as the Big Brother (Federal) does, so does the Little Brother (State).

But if your metaphorical balls aren't in your throat about it yet, a sidebar on the article describes how it works:
Often installed in a surveillance vehicle, the suitcase-size Stingrays trick all cellphones in a set distance — sometimes exceeding a mile, depending on the terrain and antennas — into connecting to it as if it were a real cellphone tower.

This article from USA Today, published just a few minutes ago has an interactive infographic showing you how the Stingray system works.


Pay attention: U.S. gov busted pirating $250M in software, settles out of court for fraction of that

U.S. Government Caught Pirating Military Software, Settles For $50 Million
For years the U.S. military operated pirated copies of logistics software that was used to protect soldiers and shipments in critical missions. Apptricity, the makers of the software, accused the military of willful copyright infringement and sued the Government for nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in unpaid licenses. In a settlement just announced, the Obama administration has agreed to pay $50 million to settle the dispute.

In recent years the U.S. Government has taken an aggressive stance towards copyright infringement, both at home and abroad.


In 2004 Apptricity signed a contract with the U.S. Army to license enterprise software that manages troop and supply movements. The deal allowed the Government to use the software on five servers and 150 standalone devices, and since then it has been used in critical missions all over the world.


While Apptricity was happy to have the Government as a client, the company was shocked to find out that the army had secretly installed thousands of unlicensed copies of the software. This unauthorized use was discovered by accident during Strategic Capabilities Planning 2009, when the U.S. Army Program Director stated that thousands of devices used Apptricity software.

As it turned out, the army had installed pirated copies of the software on 93 servers and more than 9,000 standalone devices. With license fees of $1.35 million per server and $5,000 per device, Apptricity calculated that the Government owed the company $224 million in unpaid fees.

You can read more at the link. Two points not to miss. The first is, of course, that while the government was using almost a quarter of a billion dollars in unlicensed software, it settled for only $50 million in fines. The second, and something worth noting, is that Apptricity was suing for the absolute minimum possible- merely the difference in licensing fees, not damages, which can run up to $200,000 per infringement.

Now, I'm sure you're familiar with the government settling out of court with big companies who commit grievous crimes against large corporation, often for relatively small percentages of the full fines incurred by such crimes according to law. Here's an example of it working the other way.

So who are these copyright laws designed to really keep in line? You.

The government and the corporations only hurt themselves if they truly go after one another.

It's you that's for dinner. You're their bread and butter.


USA Today: Nazi-fighting 'Night Witch' dead at 91

Nazi-fighting 'Night Witch' dead at 91:
There can't be too many World War II heroes with a better nickname than this: The "Night Witches" were a group of Russian women who piloted bomb-laden crop dusters over the invading German army, and their story is getting a fresh look in the wake of the death of one of the first and most celebrated women to join their ranks. Nadezhda Popova, who died in Moscow on July 8 at age 91, can claim 852 of the 30,000 missions the women flew in a 4-year span. (PRI's The Worldshares this amazing counterpoint: U.S. bomber pilots were generally "rotated out" of combat after completing 25 missions.) During that time the "Night Witches" unleashed 23,000 tons of bombs on the Nazis, helping push them out of Russia.

They got their name from the Germans, who likened what the New York Times calls the "whooshing" of their planes to the sound a witch's broomstick might make; the Washington Post explains they killed their engines right before unloading their bombs to up the surprise factor. And they were good at what they did, so much so that Germans spewed rumors that the women relied on pills and injections that gave them cat-like night vision.


I'm just in love with that second paragraph. Look, life doesn't go on forever and we all have to die sometime. But when you've lived a life which includes an obituarial anecdote that your combat against the Nazis was so fierce they thought you had supernatural powers? You had a very good run.


It's good to see a smooth transition from ruling class to leisure class. It can be taxing I'm told.


NYT: In unexpected bid for coveted prize, US gov't makes move Tuesday to "out dick" rest of world


NYT: In surprise bid for coveted prize, US makes move Tuesday to "out dick" rest of world:

New York - Tuesday began like any other hot July day but by noon there were already whispers among the nation's top newspaper editors that the U.S. government appeared to be making a bold bid for "World's Biggest Dickhead" award for 2013. Affectionately referred to as the 'Dickie', the award was originally created in 1996 to recognize Oasis band member Liam Gallagher's historic dickheadedness and has only been awarded to individuals thus far. An unnamed Obama administration source expressed the belief that "After today we're going to be the frontrunner for this year's prize and the runner-up won't be within a country mile."

It began with a press release from the Treasury Department that the Obama administration had chosen to delay, for a full year, enforcement requiring businesses to provide workers health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Shortly thereafter followed news that US director of national intelligence, James Clapper, flat-out admitted he lied to Senator Ron Wyden and all of congress when questioned about allegations of snooping illegally on innocent Americans with an as yet mostly secret network of telephone and internet bugging devices- some of which famously came to light through leaks by security whistle-blower Edward Snowden. And as Tuesday concluded, New York time, major news and social media were ablaze with reports that Bolivian President Evo Morales' presidential jet had been denied overflight privileges over several countries at the request of the United States on the belief that whistle-blower Snowden was aboard.

It was later revealed that Snowden was not aboard president Morales' jet.


"This is a huge play for the prize this year." said a source close to the 'Dickie' prize voting committee. "The judges are going to find it tough not to look at what the United States has achieved in a single 24 hour period today and just go 'Fuck, what epic goddamned dickheads!'"

More at the link!





Flowers on Cyberpunk's grave. Hardcore Nowpunk. Bring your goggles for real. nt


LOL! Dude, you just gave me the "Don't go out with a black girl" speech my mom did when I was 17

First, I wanna be up front- what you said has nothing to do with race or anything like that. I'm not claiming that. But that, what you said, I'll forever know that as the "Don't go out with a black girl" speech my mom gave me when I was a junior in high school, because there was this black girl I was thinking about dating.

"Mom loves you. You know that. I'm sure you like this girl and I'm sure she likes you too. And I'm sure she's pretty. Isn't she? I bet she is. (pause, head tilt) But if you go out with this girl...there's going to be all sorts of problems. Problems you didn't expect. People will cause problems, maybe big problems, for you and her around here. I know I can't change your mind if that's what you want to do. But I'm asking you, because I love you, not to go out with this girl.

It's just...going...to...cause...all...kind...of...problems."

That's not quite it but close enough. It's been forever.

Arley, I think I speak for all of us when I say we're real glad and all that you don't want us to mistakenly support a putch against a duly-elected Democratic official.

We don't want that either.

We're going to have opinions that're different from yours or, maybe, the exact same. But let's all remember that we can have different opinions and not be, ahem, on the wrong side of history...eh?


Rachel Jeantel, witness at Zimmerman trial, can't read or write in cursive. Is that a big deal?

Today I was on Reddit and came across an article about today's developments in the Zimmerman trial.

George Zimmerman Witness Can't Read Letter She 'Wrote' About Shooting:
A teenage friend of Trayvon Martin was forced to admit today in the George Zimmerman murder trial that she did not write a letter that was sent to Martin's mother describing what she allegedly heard on a phone call with Martin moments before he was shot.

In a painfully embarrassing moment, Rachel Jeantel was asked to read the letter out loud in court.

"Are you able to read that at all?" defense attorney Don West asked.

Jeantel, head bowed, eyes averted whispered into the court microphone, "Some but not all. I don't read cursive."

It sent a hush through the packed courtroom.

I found this immediately disturbing and was profoundly sorry that the young lady had to admit such a thing, in open court, and in such a notorious and publicized trial. It made me sad and then angry. And while I was doing what I usually do when I'm angry about something, composing a post in order to inflict it on all of you here at DU, another much simpler thought occurred to me. I walked into the other room where my 11 year old was studying the periodic table -just kidding, he was playing LEGO Lord of the Rings- and asked him if he knew how to read and write cursive and other questions about the teaching of it in school. I also got out a ballpoint pen and a pad and had him read a couple of things I wrote and write a couple of things for me, as well.

Thankfully, he could read and write it but couldn't do the capitals very well- didn't know them all- and although he's moving into 6th grade when school starts up again, he said they only covered cursive in fourth grade but not fifth. I asked him if he hadn't had any writing assignments this year which had to be turned in, in cursive, and he said he hadn't.

Is...this...a...big...deal? Or maybe I should ask, isn't this a big deal?

I realize we live in the digital age and all but I was exploring why I found the whole issue so upsetting. First, for me cursive is the writing style adults use. When learning to write, moving from printed block letter to cursive was a signifier that I was becoming an adult, writing as one.

Is this a universal view or is it just me?

Second, I was surprised to find another more persistent thought bothering me: How can you write a decent love letter if you don't do it in cursive? How can you properly lasso a heart without letters fashioned from dreamy curves and loops? I imagine a love poem printed out in block letters and it strikes me as something out of Flowers for Algernon.

Is this only a big deal to me or is...America "moving on" or something?


Obama On Snowden: U.S. Won't 'Be Scrambling Jets To Get A 29-Year-Old "Hacker"

I applaud the wise choice by President Obama not to personally contact presidents Jinping, Putin in this situation.

After all, can you imagine how those conversations might go?

"Hello, President Jinping? President Obama of the United States, here. I just wanted to take a moment and personally request-"

"We have documents showing our fiber optic cables have been compromised and-"

"I welcome the discussion as always Xi, but my leg just started...It feels like a charley horse. I think I need to-"

"These are very serious allegations, Mr. President, we-"

"Wow, really need to get a banana or something! My leg...just flopping around now. It's freaking out Bo."

"Mr. President, your National Security Agency is-"

"Okay, just kicked over a potted plant. Really, gotta jet! As I said, I welcome the discussion and SoS Kerry will be giving you a followup call a little later. Okaybye!"


------ (sometime later) ------

"Hello, President Putin? President Obama of the United States, here. I just wanted to take a moment and personally request-"

"We've already seen the documents and don't try the banana trick."

(lifting sheaf of papers off the desk, waving them by the phone's receiver) "Whoa! Can't hear you! Strong wind over here all of a sudden. I welcome the discussion, but I'm going to have to..."

"Mr. President, this isn't amusing. NATO already has-"

(ruffling papers harder) "...I'm going to have to close a bunch of windows in here, stuff's just blowing around everywhere! As I said, I welcome the discussion and SoS Kerry will be giving you a followup call a little later. Okaybye!"


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