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Ukrainians shocked as politicians declare vast wealth

Source: Reuters

An anti-corruption reform requiring senior Ukrainian officials to declare their wealth online has exposed a vast difference between the fortunes of politicians and those they represent.

Some declared millions of dollars in cash. Others said they owned fleets of luxury cars, expensive Swiss watches, diamond jewelry and large tracts of land - revelations that could further hit public confidence in the authorities in Ukraine, where the average salary is just over $200 per month.

Officials had until Sunday to upload details of their assets and income in 2015 to a publicly searchable database, part of an International Monetary Fund-backed drive to boost transparency and modernize Ukraine's recession-hit economy.


The online declaration system is intended to represent a show of good faith that officials are willing to open their finances up to public scrutiny, to be held accountable, and to move away from a culture that tacitly allowed bureaucrats to amass wealth through cronyism and graft.

However, the public reaction has been one of shocked dismay at the extravagant lifestyles conjured up by many of the disclosures.


Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-crisis-corruption-idUSKBN12V1EN

Elon Musk just unveiled Tesla's solar roof and new Tesla Energy products

Source: Business Insider

Behold, Tesla's solar roof:

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the solar roof at Universal Studios in Los Angeles on Friday night. Musk has been hyping the solar roof ahead of its shareholder vote for a SolarCity merger that's scheduled for November 17, calling it a "fundamental part of achieving differentiated product strategy."

The solar roofs that Musk showed off were installed on houses on Universal Studio's famous backlot, which recreates a suburban environment. In his presentation, Musk showcases a variety of roofing designs, ranging from traditional to modern a Tuscan tile application, all constructed of glass solar panels that look unlike solar panels have ever looked before.


Musk also showed off the new version of its at-home battery, Powerwall 2.0, that will sell for $5,500. The first version of Tesla's Powerwall stored 6.4 kWh worth of energy and was priced at $3,500.

The new Powerwall will have twice the storage and twice the energy, Musk said, 14 kWh of energy and 5 kWh of continuous power, but improved to 7 kWh at peak. Translation: it's an incrementally improved battery, just as Tesla's cars have been improved as the years have passed, gaining range and performance.


Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/tesla-solar-roof-photos-features-2016-10

UN votes to start negotiating treaty to ban nuclear weapons

Source: Guardian

United Nations member states have voted overwhelmingly to start negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, despite strong opposition from nuclear-armed nations and their allies.

In the vote in the UN disarmament and international security committee on Thursday, 123 nations were in favour of the resolution, 38 opposed and 16 abstained.


Professor Tilman Ruff, founding chair of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, said the vote was a “historic step” for the world that “heralds an end to two decades of paralysis in multilateral nuclear disarmament”.

“The numbers are especially encouraging given the ferocious pressure on countries to vote no by the nuclear-armed states, who see that this will fundamentally challenge their continued possession of nuclear weapons,” he said.


Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/28/un-votes-to-start-negotiating-treaty-to-ban-nuclear-weapons

San Diego 2016 Progressive Voter Guide


San Diego 2016 Progressive Voter Guide


The editors of the San Diego Free Press and OB Rag are pleased to present our 2016 General Election Progressive Voter Guide.


The ballot this year is long and complicated. Not everything is as it seems. Practitioners of deception have deliberately crafted personas and propositions in a manner to trick people into voting against their best interests. There are an equal number of voting decisions to be made on less-than-perfect candidates and causes.


We endorsed (or didn’t) contests where editors and contributors had some working knowledge of the issues and the personalities involved. There were some races where we just opted to show the candidates with codes indicating who else had endorsed them.

Thus, out of the 638 candidates appearing on various ballots throughout San Diego County and City, we only weighed in on 130+ of them, plus the thirty odd propositions and measures.


(Psst! There’s a little spooky something all the way at the end of this story.)

Here’s a link to a pdf version with working links more suitable for viewing on some mobile devices.


Scientists are bewildered by Zika's path across Latin America


Scientists are bewildered by Zika’s path across Latin America
By Dom Phillips and Nick Miroff
October 25

RIO DE JANEIRO — Nearly nine months after Zika was declared a global health emergency, the virus has infected at least 650,000 people in Latin America and the Caribbean, including tens of thousands of expectant mothers.

But to the great bewilderment of scientists, the epidemic has not produced the wave of fetal deformities so widely feared when the images of misshapen infants first emerged from Brazil.

Instead, Zika has left a puzzling and distinctly uneven pattern of damage across the Americas. According to the latest U.N. figures, of the 2,175 babies born in the past year with undersize heads or other congenital neurological damage linked to Zika, more than 75 percent have been clustered in a single region: northeastern Brazil.

The pattern is so confounding that health officials and scientists have turned their attention back to northeastern ­Brazil to understand why Zika’s toll has been so much heavier there. They suspect that other, underlying causes may be to blame, such as the presence of another ­mosquito-borne virus like chikungunya or dengue. Or that environmental, genetic or immunological factors combined with Zika to put mothers in the area at greater risk.


California Nurses Association - Endorsements for 2016 election

They generally have the best analysis and endorsements.

Government alleges former NSA contractor stole 'astonishing quantity' of classified data over 20 yea

Source: Washington Post

Federal prosecutors in Baltimore on Thursday said they will charge a former National Security Agency contractor with violating the Espionage Act, alleging that he made off with “an astonishing quantity” of classified digital and other data over 20 years in what is thought to be the largest theft of classified government material ever.

In a 12-page memo, U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein and two other prosecutors laid out a much more far-reaching case against Harold T. Martin III than was previously outlined. They say he took at least 50 terabytes of data and “six full banker’s boxes worth of documents,” with many lying open in his home office or kept on his car’s back seat and in the trunk. Other material was stored in a shed on his property.


He had access to classified data beginning in 1996, when he was with the Navy Reserve, and that access continued through his employment with seven private government contractors.

The government alleged that Martin was able to defeat “myriad, expensive controls placed” on classified information.


In August, a cache of highly sensitive NSA hacking tools mysteriously appeared online. Although investigators have not found conclusive evidence that he was responsible for that, he is the prime suspect, said U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. That is the event that set off the search that turned up Martin, the officials said.


Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/government-alleges-massive-theft-by-nsa-contractor/2016/10/20/e021c380-96cc-11e6-bb29-bf2701dbe0a3_story.html

This seems to confirm what James Bamford explained in August, that the leaks being blamed on Russia were more likely from "another Snowden":



Commentary: Evidence points to another Snowden at the NSA
Wed Aug 24, 2016 3:23am EDT
By James Bamford


Now, in the latest twist, hacking tools themselves, likely stolen from the National Security Agency, are on the digital auction block. Once again, the usual suspects start with Russia – though there seems little evidence backing up the accusation.


A more logical explanation could also be insider theft. If that’s the case, it’s one more reason to question the usefulness of an agency that secretly collects private information on millions of Americans but can’t keep its most valuable data from being stolen, or as it appears in this case, being used against us.


Rather than the NSA hacking tools being snatched as a result of a sophisticated cyber operation by Russia or some other nation, it seems more likely that an employee stole them.


Snowden’s leaks served a public good. He alerted Americans to illegal eavesdropping on their telephone records and other privacy violations, and Congress changed the law as a result. The DNC leaks exposed corrupt policies within the Democratic Party.

But we now have entered a period many have warned about, when NSA’s cyber weapons could be stolen like loose nukes and used against us. It opens the door to criminal hackers, cyber anarchists and hostile foreign governments that can use the tools to gain access to thousands of computers in order to steal data, plant malware and cause chaos.

It’s one more reason why NSA may prove to be one of Washington’s greatest liabilities rather than assets.

(James Bamford is the author of “The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America.” He is a columnist for Foreign Policy magazine.)

Taking a break from Windows Update


Taking a break from Windows Update
By Michael Horowitz
Computerworld | Oct 9, 2016 9:46 PM PT

Now would be a great time for windows 7 and 8.1 users to run Windows Update. By "now" I mean before Microsoft releases the October 2016 bug fixes on the 11th.

Run it, and run it again, to make sure your computer has all the currently available fixes. Or, maybe, all but the telemetry/spying patch that Microsoft released on October 4th.

I say this because Microsoft is rolling out a new procedure for Windows Update, one that mimics the scheme used by Windows 10, and I don't trust them. Microsoft has shown themselves to be incompetent, both at deciding what to do (think Windows 10 rollout) and in implementing things (think Windows Update taking hours to run on Windows 7).

After installing the currently available bug fixes, I suggest turning off Windows Update.



The Defensive Computing approach is to be wary of any change in procedures. But this change especially scares me because the Windows 10 patch delivery system is already buggy.


Via http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r31028141-Taking-a-break-from-Windows-Update

Britain's Nuclear Cover-Up


Britain’s Nuclear Cover-Up
OCT. 10, 2016


Hinkley ... only makes sense if one considers its connection to Britain’s military projects ...


A painstaking study of obscure British military policy documents, released last month by the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, demonstrates that the government and some of its partners in the defense industry, like Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems, think a robust civilian nuclear industry is essential to revamping Britain’s nuclear submarine program.

For proponents of Trident, civilian nuclear projects are a way of “masking” the high costs of developing a new fleet of nuclear submarines, according to the report. Merging programs like research and development or skills training across civilian and military sectors helps cut back on military spending. It also helps maintain the talent pool for nuclear specialists. And given the long lead times and life spans of most nuclear projects, connections between civilian and military programs give companies more incentives to make the major investments required.


Hiding the true costs of a project like Trident by promoting a questionable and ruinous project like Hinkley Point C distorts the economics of both the defense and the civilian energy sectors. It also skews energy policy itself.

If Britain’s energy policy were solely about energy, rather than also about defense, the nuclear sector would be forced to stand on its own two feet. And the government would have to acknowledge the growing benefits of renewable energy and make hard-nosed comparisons about cost, implementation, environmental benefits and safety.

Britain’s defense policy should not be allowed to undermine the country’s energy policy: That, too, is about national security.
Peter Wynn Kirby is a nuclear and environmental specialist at the University of Oxford.

IAEA chief: Nuclear power plant was disrupted by cyber attack

Source: Reuters

A nuclear power plant became the target of a disruptive cyber attack two to three years ago, and there is a serious threat of militant attacks on such plants, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog said on Monday.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director Yukiya Amano also cited a case in which an individual tried to smuggle a small amount of highly enriched uranium about four years ago that could have been used to build a so-called "dirty bomb".


He said he had not previously discussed the cyber attack in public.


In April, German utility RWE increased its security after its Gundremmingen nuclear power plant was found to be infected with computer viruses.


Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-nuclear-cyber-idUSKCN12A1OC
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