Tokyo’s Mt Gox bitcoin exchange files for bankruptcy amid missing currency

bitkoin bankruptcy japan exchange Tokyos Mt Gox bitcoin exchange files for bankruptcy amid missing currency

Mt Gox, once the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, filed for bankruptcy in a Tokyo district court on Friday, the company’s lawyer citing ‘outstanding debts of $63.2 million, after mysteriously going offline on Monday.
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Investors may have lost all of their virtual coins, as the exchange’s computer system was exposed to fraudulent transactions and technical failures.

A leaked internal Mt Gox “crisis strategy” document suggesting that the exchange site had been hacked and hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of the cryptocurrency stolen began to circulate online.

Technical glitches in February forced the trading platform to halt deposits, causing the already volatile crypto-currency to plunge 20 percent. On Friday it was listed at $565.07 on Winkdex, a New York-based bitcoin value index.

Mt Gox once claimed to host nearly 80 percent of all bitcoin transactions worldwide, and was the primary source cited for bitcoin prices.

Tokyos Mt Gox bitcoin exchange files for bankruptcy amid missing currency 2 Tokyos Mt Gox bitcoin exchange files for bankruptcy amid missing currency

 

After it the site crashed on Monday, the value of Bitcoin fell to $440, a 3-month low after the currency reached highs above $1000 at the end of November.

On Monday, Mark Karpeles, the chief executive of the now defunct exchange, resigned Mt Gox from the board of the Bitcoin Foundation ‘effective immediately’. Karpeles remained mum after the site went offline, but on Friday told a press conference that Mt Gox wants to file a criminal probe into the hacking.

Tokyos Mt Gox bitcoin exchange files for bankruptcy amid missing currency 3 Tokyos Mt Gox bitcoin exchange files for bankruptcy amid missing currency

 

Bitcoin, an alternative to traditional currencies, isn’t backed by any official government or central bank, which makes recovering losses difficult.

Central banks across the globe have begun to crackdown on the cryptocurrency, instructing financial institutions not to accept bitcoins because they have no legal status or monetary-backing, like state-backed currencies.

Source: RT

New Mexico nuclear plant workers exposed to radiation

New Mexico nuclear plant workers exposed to radiation 2 New Mexico nuclear plant workers exposed to radiation

Positive results for radiation exposure were found in 13 workers following a leak at the United States’ first underground nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad, New Mexico, an Associated Press report stated.
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Officials said that all employees were checked for external contamination before they left the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) facility the day the leak occurred, but that biological samples were also taken to test for the possibility that they were breathing in radioactive particles.

The US Department of Energy and the Nuclear Waste Partnership, which manages the plant’s daily operations, are expected to hold a press conference on Thursday to discuss the test results.

“It is important to note that these are initial sample results,” the DOE and Nuclear Waste Partnership said in a joint statement. “These employees, both federal and contractor, will be asked to provide additional samples in order to fully determine the extent of any exposure.”

According to CNN, Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) spokesman Donavan Mager said the number of people exposed to radiation could not be confirmed due to the privacy rule under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. He did say the test results suggest exposure to the synthetic, radioactive metal americium.

The preliminary test results come just days after more airborne radiation was detected in the area surrounding the plant. Earlier this month, WIPP officials noticed a sharp rise in radiation levels, which they connected to a leak inside one of its underground tunnels. The plant is one of three deep nuclear repositories around the globe, storing nuclear waste 600 meters below the earth’s surface.

Since the WIPP’s creation in 1999, this is the first time it has been known to release any radioactive material. Officials told the AP that it may take weeks to learn what caused the leak. Even before this incident, a salt truck caught fire in a separate part of the facility, but that is believed to be unrelated.

Despite the record levels of radiation detected around the area, the DOE stated the readings fall “well below” the standards outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency, and that they do not pose a public or environmental threat.

New Mexico nuclear plant workers exposed to radiation New Mexico nuclear plant workers exposed to radiation

On Monday, the DOE’s Joe Franco and the NWP’s Farok Sharif held a community meeting to ease public fear over the situation. In response to a question from a local resident, Franco said, “there is no risk from this event that would be a hazard to you or your children.”

Regardless, the AP noted that Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) will ask the EPA to send portable air monitors to Carlsbad as a precaution.

“The health and safety of the Carlsbad community and WIPP personnel are my top priority,” he said.

Source: RT

GCHQ and NSA intercepted Yahoo users’ private photographs

GCHQ and NSA intercepted Yahoo users private photographs GCHQ and NSA intercepted Yahoo users private photographs

British and American surveillance agencies teamed up to develop a system that collected millions of images from the webcams of unsuspecting and innocent internet users, new leaked documents reveal.
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This “Optic Nerve” program — administered by the UK’s GCHQ with the assistance of the National Security Agency — routinely intercepted and stored those webcam images in secret starting in 2008, according to documents disclosed by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and published by The Guardian on Thursday.

The program indiscriminately collected millions of images from people who used Yahoo’s webcam chat function, the Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman and James Ball reported, “including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications.”

According to the journalists, the GCHQ relied on Optic Nerve to experiment with facial recognition programing to monitor existing targets and search for new persons of interest.

But the GCHQ didn’t stop at targeting solely suspected terrorists, the report continues, and instead collected intelligence by seemingly anyone unfortunate enough to log-in to Yahoo’s webcam chat feature, at least between 2008 and 2012.

“Yahoo webcam is known to be used by GCHQ targets,” reads a portion of the classified documentation published by the paper.

The GCHQ did not limit their surveillance to just those target, however. According to the leaked Snowden document, 1.8 million Yahoo users had their webcam images collected by the agency during just a six-month span shortly after Optic Nerve was first rolled out.

When reached for comment by the British paper, a representative for Yahoo said the GCHQ program as explained demonstrates a “whole new level of violation of our users’ privacy.”

Elsewhere in the leaked documentation, GCHQ agents admitted that a large portion of the imagery collected contained “undesirable nudity.”

“Unfortunately … it would appear that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person,” one internal document cited by The Guardian reads.“Also, the fact that the Yahoo software allows more than one person to view a webcam stream without necessarily sending a reciprocal stream means that it appears sometimes to be used for broadcasting pornography.”

And although the program was carried out by British spies, Ackerman and Ball acknowledged that millions of Americans may have had their own likeness — clothed or not — captured in the process.

“GCHQ does not have the technical means to make sure no images of UK or US citizens are collected and stored by the system, and there are no restrictions under UK law to prevent Americans’ images being accessed by British analysts without an individual warrant,” they wrote.

But Vanee Vines, a spokesperson for the NSA, told the Guardian that the US spy agency “does not ask its foreign partners to undertake any intelligence activity that the US government would be legally prohibited from undertaking itself.”

“A key part of the protections that apply to both US persons and citizens of other countries is the mandate that information be in support of a valid foreign intelligence requirement, and comply with US Attorney General-approved procedures to protect privacy rights. Those procedures govern the acquisition, use, and retention of information about US persons,” Vines said.

In an op-ed published in The Guardian also on Thursday, acclaimed security expert and cryptographer Bruce Schneier said even safeguards in place to prevent these images being viewed by any GCHQ staffer should be questioned.

“[I]s it really okay for a computer to monitor you online, and for that data collection and analysis only to count as a potential privacy invasion when a person sees it? I say it’s not, and the latest Snowden leaks only make more clear how important this distinction is,” he wrote.

Source: RT

Florida woman forced to use city utilities instead of private solar panels, rainwater

Florida woman forced to use city utilities instead of private solar panels rainwater Florida woman forced to use city utilities instead of private solar panels, rainwater

A Cape Coral, Florida woman living “off the grid” was ordered last week by a magistrate to hook up to utilities to comply with city codes or risk eviction from her home.
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Special Magistrate Harold S. Eskin ruled Thursday that Robin Speronis violated city codes by refusing to connect to the Cape Coral’s water system. Eskin ordered Speronis to pay for water service, adding that her sewer access would be capped until she did, The News-Press reported.

“I am in compliance,” Speronis told the News-Press. “I’m in compliance of living … you may have to hook-up, but you don’t have to use it. Well, what’s the point?”

In addition, her alternative source of energy must be approved by the city, Eskin ruled. The city contends that using rainwater and solar energy violates the International Property Maintenance Code, which is used in many US and Canadian communities. It “states that properties are unsafe to live in if they do not have electricity and running water,” according to Off The Grid News, though Speronis has both electricity and water.

florida off grid utilities Florida woman forced to use city utilities instead of private solar panels, rainwater

Eskin also pointed out that several liens were placed on her home given Speronis had used drains but without paying water bills.

“This resident provided testimony at the code compliance hearing that she has been living in the home for the past year and using the city’s wastewater system without paying for the service,” said Connie Barron, a spokeswoman for Cape Coral.

Yet the Magistrate said the city abused its authority by not giving Speronis proper notice of the supposed violations. Speronis was given an eviction notice in November.

City spokeswoman Barron said the sewer would have been capped sooner, but the city decided to wait for the code hearing. The city had actually overlooked Speronis’ setup until she did an interview with a local television station regarding her living arrangements.

Eskin did admit, though, that the city’s code may be obsolete.

“Reasonableness and code requirements don’t always go hand-in-hand … given societal and technical changes (that) requires review of code ordinances,” said Eskin, who actually dropped two of three counts against Speronis.

Speronis’ attorney posited that there’s a conflict in the city’s code, given Speronis has been ordered to hook up to the water system despite city officials’ admittance that she does not have to use it.

“It was a mental fistfight,” Speronis’ attorney Todd Allen said of Eskin’s review of the case. “There’s an inherent conflict in the code.”

For her part, Speronis said she does not intend to hook up to the city’s water system, vowing to appeal the Magistrate’s ruling.

“I know how to live off the grid completely and in a sanitary way,” Speronis said in response to the city’s action, according to The News-Press. “That’s what seven months living in the woods taught me. I do have an alternative toilet from my days of living in the woods.”

The Cape Coral resident said she will dispose of waste just as dog owners do for pets. She also plans to collect wastewater in containers for use in her garden.

Speronis already collects rainwater for bathing and other uses, all while generating electricity with solar panels.

“What happens in the courtroom is much less important than touching people’s hearts and minds,” she told Off The Grid News. “I think that we are continuing to be successful in doing just that and I am so pleased — there is hope! [Friday] morning, as I took my two hour walk, there was a young man, unknown to me, who drove by me, tooted his horn and said, ‘Robin, congratulations on your victory yesterday, keep up the fight and God bless you.’ That is beautiful.”

Source: RT

Harvard research links fluoridated water to ADHD, mental disorders

water or fluoride1 Harvard research links fluoridated water to ADHD, mental disorders

A leading cause of ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and autism in children could be the hidden chemicals lurking in the foods we eat, the water we drink and the products we consume, says a new study recently published in The Lancet.
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Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) found that, among other things, the fluoride chemicals added to many public water systems in North America directly contribute to both mental and behavioral disorders in children.

Building upon earlier research published in 2006 that dubbed fluoride as a “developmental neurotoxicant,” the new review included a meta-analysis of 27 additional studies on fluoride, most of which were from China, that linked the chemical to lowered IQ in children. After thorough analysis, it was determined that fluoride obstructs proper brain development and can lead to autism spectrum disorders, dyslexia, ADHD and other health conditions, a “silent epidemic” that many mainstream health authorities continue to ignore.

According to the two main researchers involved in the study, Philippe Grandjean from HSPH and Philip Landrigan from ISMMS, incidences of chemical-related neurodevelopmental disorders have doubled over the past seven years from six to 12. The reason for this is that an increasing number of mostly untested chemicals are being approved for use without the public being told where and in what quantities such chemicals are being used.

“[S]ince 2006, the number of chemicals known to damage the human brain more generally, but that are not regulated to protect children’s health, had increased from 202 to 214,” writes Julia Medew for The Sydney Morning Herald. “The pair said this could be the tip of the iceberg because the vast majority of the more than 80,000 industrial chemicals widely used in the United States have never been tested for their toxic effects on the developing foetus or child.”

Fluoride must be immediately removed from public water supplies for child safety

While pesticides dominated the duo’s list as the most pervasive and damaging chemicals whose presence the public is largely unaware of, fluoride, which is intentionally added to public water supplies as a supposed protectant against tooth decay, is also highly problematic. It is also largely ignored by public health authorities as a possible factor in childhood development problems, even though the science is clear about its dangers.

Like lead, certain industrial solvents and crop chemicals, fluoride is known to accumulate in the human bloodstream, where it eventually deposits into bones and other bodily tissues. In pregnant women, this also includes passing through the bloodstream into the placenta, where it then accumulates in the bones and brain tissue of developing babies. The effects of this are, of course, perpetually damaging, and something that regulatory authorities need to take more seriously.

“The problem is international in scope, and the solution must therefore also be international,” stated Grandjean in a press release, calling for improved regulatory standards for common chemicals. “We have the methods in place to test industrial chemicals for harmful effects on children’s brain development — now is the time to make that testing mandatory.”

To learn more about the dangers of fluoride and the science behind why it is harmful and anything but beneficial for teeth, be sure to visit the Fluoride Action Network’s website.

You can also check out the abstract of the new study, entitled “Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity,” here:
http://www.thelancet.com.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.smh.com.au

http://www.medicaldaily.com

http://www.thelancet.com

http://fluoridealert.org

http://science.naturalnews.com

Michigan man kills himself while demonstrating gun safety

Michigan man kills himself while demonstrating gun safety Michigan man kills himself while demonstrating gun safety

A Michigan man from Independence Township accidentally killed himself after reportedly firing a gun into his head while attempting to demonstrate how safe the weapon was.
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The 36-year-old man’s girlfriend told law enforcement that he’d been drinking throughout the day when the incident occurred Sunday evening. Police told the Oakland Press that when they arrived at the home, the girlfriend was performing CPR on the man. He was declared dead at the scene.

Authorities have declined to release the names of those involved until the family has been notified. The girlfriend had been living with the man at the time with her three children, aged seven, 10, and 12.

According to the Oakland Press, the man was explaining to his girlfriend that his three guns were safe when not loaded. Police said he put two guns to his head and pulled the trigger, but when he did the same with the third gun, it discharged and a bullet went into his head.

“(The situation) is pretty unique, as I have never heard of anyone testing out the safety of a gun by pointing at their head and pulling the trigger,” Undersheriff Michael McCabe told the newspaper.

The man’s death has been ruled a suicide by the Oakland County Medical Examiner.

There have been numerous incidents related to accidental gun discharges over the last few years. Last week, a Florida man accidentally shot himself in the leg after leaving a gun safety class and manipulating his weapon in the parking lot. He was taken to a hospital and treated.

Just two months ago in Michigan, the vice president of the United Automobile Workers union, General Holiefield, mistakenly shot his wife in the stomach while cleaning a loaded gun. Fortunately, she survived the incident, and Holiefield pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges.

In August 2013, meanwhile, the instructor of a gun safety class in Ohio accidentally shot one of his students while he was demonstrating the firearm to the class. He apparently did not realize the gun was loaded, and the boy survived after being struck in his arm.

Source: RT

Apple security flaw could be a backdoor for the NSA

Apple security flaw could be a backdoor for the NSA Apple security flaw could be a backdoor for the NSA

Was the National Security Agency exploiting two just-discovered security flaws to hack into the iPhones and Apple computers of certain targets? Some skeptics are saying there is cause to be concerned about recent coincidences regarding the NSA and Apple.
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Within hours of one another over the weekend, Apple acknowledged that it had discovered critical vulnerabilities in both its iOS and OSX operating systems that, if exploited correctly, would put thought-to-be-secure communications into the hands of skilled hackers.

“An attacker with a privileged network position may capture or modify data in sessions protected by SSL/TLS,” the company announced.

Apple has since taken steps to supposedly patch up the flaw that affected mobile devices running its iOS operating system, such as iPhones, but has yet to unveil any fix for the OSX used by desktop and laptop computers. As experts investigated the issue through the weekend, though, many couldn’t help but consider the likelihood — no matter how modicum — that the United States’ secretive spy agency exploited those security flaws to conduct surveillance on targets.

On Saturday, Apple enthusiast and blogger John Gruber noted on his personal website that information contained within internal NSA documents leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden last year coincide closely with the release of the affected mobile operating system, iOS 6.

According to a NSA slideshow leaked by Mr. Snowden last June, the US government has since 2007 relied on a program named PRISM that enables the agency to collect data “directly from the servers” of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook and others. The most recent addition to that list, however, was Apple, which the NSA said it was only able to exploit using PRISM since October 2012.

The affected operating system — iOS 6.0 — was released days earlier on September 24, 2012.

These facts, Gruber blogged, “prove nothing” and are “purely circumstantial.” Nevertheless, he wrote, “the shoe fits.”

With the iOS vulnerability being blamed on a single line of erroneous code, Gruber considered a number of possibilities to explain how that happened.

Conspiratorially, one could suppose the NSA planted the bug, through an employee mole, perhaps. Innocuously, the Occam’s Razor explanation would be that this was an inadvertent error on the part of an Apple engineer,” he wrote.

Once the bug was in place, the NSA wouldn’t even have needed to find it by manually reading the source code. All they would need are automated tests using spoofed certificates that they run against each new release of every OS. Apple releases iOS, the NSA’s automated spoofed certificate testing finds the vulnerability, and boom, Apple gets ‘added’ to PRISM.

Gruber said he sees five possible scenarios, or “levels of paranoia,” as he put it:

Nothing. The NSA was not aware of this vulnerability.
The NSA knew about it, but never exploited it.
The NSA knew about it, and exploited it.
NSA itself planted it surreptitiously.
Apple, complicit with the NSA, added it.

Of course, Guber added, there is always the possibility that “this is all a coincidence.” He certainly wasn’t the only one to consider it, though.

Again, all of this is circumstantial and speculative, and Apple has come out numerous times vehemently denying its involvement in any NSA program,” iDownloadblog’s Cody Lee wrote on Monday. “But the timing is rather odd, and it makes you wonder how such a serious bug went undiscovered for over a year.”

Indeed, Apple has since the start of the Snowden leaks adamantly fended off allegations concerning a possible collusion with the NSA. On December 31, 2013, the company even issued a statement insisting “Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone.”

We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who’s behind them,” Apple said then — nearly two months after acknowledging the major security vulnerability discovered last week.

At the time, though, Apple was responding to another serious allegation that, if correct, gives much more credence to the latest accusations. The Dec. 31 statement was sent hours after security researcher Jacob Appelbaum presented previously unpublished NSA slides at a hacking conference in Germany, including some where the spy agency boasted about being able to infiltrate any iPhone owned by a targeted person.

The NSA, Appelbaum said, “literally claim that any time they target an iOS device, that it will succeed for implantation.”

“Either they have a huge collection of exploits that work against Apple products — meaning they are hoarding information about critical systems American companies product and sabotaging them — or Apple sabotages it themselves.”

Last year, RT reported that the NSA entered into a contract in 2012 with VUPEN, a French security company that sells so-called 0-day exploits to governments and agencies so that vulnerabilities and flaws can be abused before the affected product’s owner is even made aware. It’s likely just another major coincidence that fits the time frame eerily well, but that contract was signed only days before iOS 6 was released — and, coincidentally, days before the NSA boasted about being able to access Apple communications through its PRISM program.

Source: RT

GMO crops may cause major environmental risks, USDA admits

GMO crops may cause major environmental risks USDA admits GMO crops may cause major environmental risks, USDA admits

A new report published by the United States Department of Agriculture demonstrates that the vast majority of corn and soybean crops grown in America are genetically-engineered variants made to withstand certain conditions and chemicals.
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But while GMO seeds have been sowed on US soil for 15 years now, the latest USDA report reveals that Americans still have concerns about consuming custom-made, laboratory-created products, albeit nowhere near as much as in Europe.

The report was released by the USDA’s Economic Research Service and published on their website Feb. 20. And though the paper takes into consideration the trends that have shaped how scientists and agriculturists have approached genetically-modified organisms since they were first introduced in the US a decade-and-a-half ago, the consensus seems to be that no one is certain just yet about what toll the surge in GMOs will truly have.

Between 1984 and 2002, the study’s authors wrote, the number of GMO varieties approved by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, grew exponentially. Today GMO crops are found in most of America’s biggest farms, they continued, and scientists have in the last several years discovered groundbreaking new ways to make situation-specific seeds that have traits more desirable than traditional crops.

“As of September 2013, about 7,800 releases were approved for GE corn, more than 2,200 for GE soybeans, more than 1,100 for GE cotton and about 900 for GE potatoes,” the USDA affirmed.

Just last year, the agency added, GMO crops were planted on about 169 million acres of land in the US — or about half of all farmland from coast-to-coast.

Around 93 percent of all soybean crops planted in the US last year involved GMO, herbicide-tolerant (HT) variants, the USDA acknowledged, and HT corn and HT cotton constituted about 85 and 82 percent of total acreage, respectively.

“HT crops are able to tolerate certain highly effective herbicides, such as glyphosate, allowing adopters of these varieties to control pervasive weeds more effectively,” reads an excerpt from the USDA report.

As those weed-killers are dumped into more and more fields containing HT crops, however, USDA experts say it could have a major, as-yet-uncertain impact on the environment.

“Because glyphosate is significantly less toxic and less persistent than traditional herbicides,” a portion of the report reads, “…the net impact of HT crop adoption is an improvement in environmental quality and a reduction in the health risks associated with herbicide use (even if there are slight increases in the total pounds of herbicide applied). However, glyphosate resistance among weed populations in recent years may have induced farmers to raise application rates .Thus, weed resistance may be offsetting some of the economic and environmental advantages of HT crop adoption regarding herbicide use. Moreover, herbicide toxicity may soon be negatively affected (compared to glyphosate) by the introduction (estimated for 2014) of crops tolerant to the herbicides dicamba and 2,4-D.”

That chemical, as RT has reported on in the past, is a component in Agent Orange and has been linked to health risks. Should the USDA give the go-ahead for GMO companies to manufacture 2,4-D-resistant crops, then that agent could appear in alarming numbers across America’s farmland. But while anti-GMO advocates consider that just one of the reasons they oppose the influx of man-made crops being grown in exponentially large numbers across the county, the USDA said activism along those lines has been comparatively small in the US.

“Some consumers, including those in the European Union, have indicated a reluctance to consume GE products. In other countries, including the United States, expression of consumer concern is less widespread,” the report reads.

“Despite the rapid increase in adoption rates for GE corn, soybean, and cotton varieties by US farmers, some continue to raise questions regarding the potential benefits and risks of GE crops.”

But even if the jury is still out with regards to the risks of GE crops, the USDA said they are being grown in record numbers, the likes of which has prompted herbicide manufactures to experience a surge as well. Whether that’s’ good or bad, however, has yet to be determined.

“We are not characterizing them (GMO crops) as bad or good. We are just providing information,” Michael Livingston, a government agricultural economist and one of the authors of the report, told Reuters.

According to the report, herbicide use on GMO corn increased from around 1.5 pounds per planted acre in 2001 to more than 2.0 pounds per planted acre in 2010.

Source: RT

Bush cyberczar: NSA created ‘the potential for a police state’

richard clarke Bush cyberczar: NSA created ‘the potential for a police state’

The former cyber advisor under President George W. Bush had some harsh words for the United States National Security Agency during an address in California on Monday: “get out of the business of fucking with encryption standards.”
Continue reading «Bush cyberczar: NSA created ‘the potential for a police state’»

That was the recommendation that famed cyberczar Richard Clarke made while speaking earlier this week at the at the Cloud Security Alliance summit in San Francisco.

Clarke, 63, served as a counterterrorism advisor for President Bill Clinton in the 1990s and later assisted his successor, Mr. Bush, as the special advisor on cybersecurity for that administration through 2003. Most recently, though, Clarke was assigned to a five-person panel assembled by Pres. Obama late last year that was tasked with assessing the NSA’s operations in the midst of ongoing and ever-damaging leaks disclosed by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. In December, that group suggested 46 changes for the Obama administration to consider in order rein in the secretive spy agency.

Speaking during Monday’s conference, however, Clarke opened up about some of the more personal suggestions he has for the NSA, and even some insight about what the future may have in store for the agency if they continue to collect intelligence from seemingly all corners of the Earth.

“In terms of collecting intelligence, they are very good. Far better than you could imagine,” Clarke said.“But they have created, with the growth of technologies, the potential for a police state.”

“If you’re not specific, an agency that bugs phones is going to bug phones,” he added, according to the Tech Target blog, Search Security“The NSA is an organization that’s like a hammer, and everything looks like a nail.”

Even if the NSA scales back such hacking operations in the future as Pres. Obama suggested and limits who the US targets and how, Clarke said during Monday’s address that another type of interference favored by the agency — influencing and intentionally degrading encryption standards — need to be scraped.

Since June, those Snowden leaks have exposed an array of previously covert NSA operations, including programs that put the emails of foreign leaders and phone data pertaining to millions of Americans into the hands of the US government. According to Clarke, though, the NSA’s handling of encryption standards — as exposed by Snowden — has serious repercussions.

In September, leaked documents courtesy of Mr. Snowden showed the NSA has invested millions of dollars to be able to decrypt “large amounts” of supposedly secure data, an operation that spies at Britain’s GCHQ called “an aggressive, multipronged effort to break widely used Internet encryption technologies.” Then in December, further Snowden documents showed that RSA, a private company considered a staple of the computer security industry, had secretly entered into a $10 million contract with the NSA to create a government-friendly “backdoor” in its products.

Because of the NSA’s efforts, Clarke said during Monday’s event, “the trust in encryption has been greatly eroded.”

“The encryption standards need to be trusted,” he said, according to Infosecurity Magazine“The US government has to get out of the business of fucking around with encryption standards.”

“We need to rebuild the trust in encryption; we need to have the US government forced some way into ensuring this happens,” he said.

When Clarke and four other Obama-appointed experts weighed in on the NSA’s programs for the report released in December, the group said they were “unaware of any vulnerability created by the US government in generally available commercial software that puts users at risk of criminal hackers or foreign governments decrypting their data. Moreover, it appears that in the vast majority of generally used, commercially available encryption software, there is no vulnerability, or ‘backdoor,’ that makes it possible for the US government or anyone else to achieve unauthorized access.”

As part of the group’s recommendations, they advised that the NSA “not engineer vulnerabilities into the encryption algorithms that guard global commerce” and “not demand changes in any product by any vendor for the purpose of undermining the security or integrity of the product, or to ease NSA’s clandestine collection of information by users of the product.”

Source: RT

FDA RULES THREATEN ORGANIC FARMERS

Organic Produce 1024x834 FDA RULES THREATEN ORGANIC FARMERSThe Food and Drug Administration was given permission by Congress in 2010 to regulate practices on farms across the nation. Now small farms, many of whom use organic farming techniques, are finding that the methods they have been using for years, including spreading house-made fertilizers, tilling their farmland with grazing animals, and irrigating with water from open creeks, are coming under assault. 
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The 2010 act, titled the Food Safety Modernization Act, was a response to data that showed 3,000 people die every year in the U.S. from tainted food, while tens of millions are made ill from eating food that is tainted. Concerns about bioterrorism also played a role.

In 2011, 33 people died across the nation from eating tainted cantaloupes, which triggered the FDA to be more aggressive in pursuing its supervision of farms.

Dave Runsten, policy director for Community Alliance with Family Farmers in Davis, Calif., said, “They are going to drive farms out of business. The consumer groups behind this don’t understand farming. They talk out of both sides of their mouth. They demand these one-size-fits-all regulations, then say, ‘I don’t want to hurt those cute little farmers at the farmers market. I shop at the farmers market.’ It is frustrating.”

It doesn’t help the FDA’s case when they sound out-of-touch; just recently Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) chastised Michael Taylor, a deputy commissioner with the FDA, noting that one draft set of rules from the FDA wrote that kale is “never consumed raw.” She responded, “I was going to offer to make a kale salad for you. It causes you to wonder if those who are writing these rules have ever set foot on a farm.”

But Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washingtonhad a different view, saying, “We don’t believe large facilities are the only place where outbreaks are happening.” She noted that farm-to-fork growers need to see that E. coli and other bacteria are a danger to their produce just as much as they are to the produce of giant processing plants. She added, “At the end of the day, consumers will be paying a little bit more for this. But a few cents here may help avoid a severe illness.”

Meanwhile, examples abound of farms losing business as a result of the FDA’s rules; Don Bessemer, the owner of the last working farm in Akron, Ohio, which had fed locals for 117 years, gave up, and 30 workers lost their jobs. Bessemer commented to the Akron Beacon Journal that he would fight pests and even drought, but not bureaucrats.

Taylor pointed out that the FDA is softening its stance; and added that thousands of the smallest farms would be exempt from new inspections.

Source: Breitbart.com