Category Archives: News and politics

Wikileaks publishes DNC emails

Yesterday, Wikileaks published almost 20,000 emails that were purloined from the Democratic National Committee. You may search the emails on this page.

Overnight, evidence was discovered within these emails of

  • a conspiracy within the DNC to hinder presidential candidate Bernie Sanders;
  • a close relationship between DNC and the mainstream media.

Twitter is jumping with revelations from these emails. Apparently Hillary Clinton and the DNC are taking legal action to plug this leak. Of course, it’s too late.

Election hacking

A 2016 HBO documentary, Hacking Democracy, discusses voting irregularities and the ease of hacking the results of electronic voting systems:

It introduces Bev Harris, a 52 year old grandmother who stumbled upon evidence of vote tampering. She went on to create Black Box Voting, a nonpartisan investigative reporting and public education organization for elections.

Apparently these Diebold machines employ a Windows NT operating system.  Here’s an excerpt from a Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine: “Simply put, many computer scientists doubt that paperless DREs [Direct Recording Electronic voting systems] can be made reliable and secure, and they expect that any failures of such systems would likely go undetected.”

Despite these problems, we believe that it is possible, at reasonable cost, to build a DRE-based voting system—including hardware, software, and election procedures—that is suitably secure and reliable. Such a system would require not only a voting machine designed with more care and attention to security, but also an array of safeguards, including a well-designed voter-verifiable paper audit trail system, random audits and forensic analyses, and truly independent security review.

In this video, Clint Curtis, a Florida-based computer programmer testifies to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee about vote tampering in software:

It’s much easier to audit a paper ballot system. Computers are faster than paper, but, to at least some degree, vulnerable to hacking.

Mark Steyn on multiculturalism

I like Mr. Steyn’s witty observations in this video and his skillful use of language. I agree; multiculturalism is a denial of reality.

Update, in the wake of the bombings in Brussels: In his March 25 2016 article, Mr. Steyn highlights the stupidity of the EU’s suicidal immigration policies (if you can call them that): “Europe would rather destroy itself than retreat from the delusions of multiculturalism.”

Garry Kasparov on innovation

I’ve admired retired world chess champion Garry Kasparov for his mastery of the game of chess. Mr. Kasparov broke multiple chess records and met (and lost) a challenge from IBM’s Deep Blue. He’s also an anti-Putin activist, eloquent writer, and thoughtful political analyst.

I thought that Kasparov confined his commentary to the former Soviet Union, but he just published a thoughtful DailyBeast article titled Hey Bernie don’t lecture me about socialism. I lived through it. He’s seen both capitalism and socialism from their insides and I respect his opinion of both. He argues that only capitalism encourages innovation, which enriches everyone.

What happened in Chicago?

When I was a young teenager, listening to shortwave radio broadcasts from many countries taught me that the news that’s presented by what’s now called mainstream media (MSM) is rarely the whole story.

Thanks to Twitter, YouTube, and other Internet based outlets, now we can hear firsthand accounts from eyewitnesses without the MSM filters. Here’s one firsthand report on reddit: What really happened at the Chicago rally

Hillary’s I.T. guy

image

Bryan Pagliano, the I.T. specialist who apparently was paid by Hillary Clinton to set up her email server, has been granted immunity from prosecution by the Department of Justice. A lawyer friend tells me that this means that a grand jury is reviewing evidence and that Mr. Pagliano will be testifying as the Department of Justice prosecutes someone. Is that Hillary Clinton? Probably. Maybe others.

imageit seems that the DOJ had a strong case against Mr. Pagliano for multiple counts of conspiracy to violate federal records preservation regulations and the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), as well as restrictions on “moonlighting” while employed by the State Department. To avoid prosecution, he struck a deal. Now he’s the DOJ’s witness against whomever.

I don’t yet know the details of either Hillary’s private mail server or that of the State Department, but it seems likely that Hillary may have given Mr. Pagliano her login credentials. My guess is that this is a serious violation of State Department regulations.

Reportedly the FBI has two teams of investigators looking into Mrs. Clinton’s private mail server and the Clinton Foundation’s quid pro quo arrangements with Mrs. Clinton while she was Secretary of State. It’s rumored that the FBI will recommend that criminal charges of violating the Espionage Act be brought against her.

In view of the number of disappearances of witnesses in the Clintons’ past, I hope that Mr. Pagliano has a full-time bodyguard. I want to hear his story.

Lighten up on global warming

I was amazed when Barack Obama declared that climate change is the nation’s biggest enemy. Forget ISIS, Iran, al-Qaeda, murders of citizens by illegal aliens, uncontrolled immigration, jobs outsourcing, factories moving offshore . . . etc.  No, Mr. Obama’s delusions convince him that global warming is more important.

Maybe George Carlin can bring some sanity to this:

We need more CO2

Next week, the Paris Climate Change Conference begins. It’s basically a waste of time and money because anthropogenic global warming is an imaginary problem. One hidden agenda is the transfer of wealth from developed nations to less developed nations. Another is the transfer of wealth into the pockets of scam artists such as Al Gore. I wish that the conference would listen to, among others, Patrick Moore and Freeman Dyson.

Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, spoke last month about climate change. Here’s YouTube’s video record of his presentation:

Dr. Moore argues that the earth’s climate has ALWAYS changed, and that carbon dioxide is good for all life on our planet. Broadly speaking, his argument agrees with that of eminent mathematician and physicist Freeman Dyson, who’s studied global climate since the 1970s, while a professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

I don’t know much about Dr. Moore, but I’ve long admired the independent thought of Freeman Dyson. When he speaks, I listen (and watch):

Freeman Dyson’s observations:

  • “CO2 is so beneficial . . . it would be crazy to try to reduce it.”
  • “Probably it does us good; the Earth will get greener as a result.”
  • “The climate models are no good for prediction.”

In a discussion about global warming stupidity, Professor Dyson confesses,

E-Mail 4/9/15
Dear Norman Page,

Thank you for your message and for the blog. That all makes sense.

I wish I knew how to get important people to listen to you. But there is not much that I can do. I have zero credibility as an expert on climate. I am just a theoretical physicist, 91 years old and obviously out of touch with the real world. I do what I can, writing reviews and giving talks, but important people are not listening to me. They will listen when the glaciers start growing in Kentucky, but I will not be around then.

With all good wishes, yours ever,
Freeman Dyson.

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

“He’s a child.”

Vladimir Putin, overheard in conversation with colleagues at the recent G20 meeting, referred to an image of Barack Obama on a video screen and laughed, “He’s a child . . . he’s a child!”

Barack ObamaIndeed.  West Africans use a simplified version of English that includes nouns that succinctly describe personalities.  I’ve already identified Mr. Obama as a confusionist.  Another apt west African tag is small boy.  (In contrast, a true leader is a big man.)

I was puzzled at first by Obama’s refusal to utter the phrase “radical Islam”, his seeming lack of empathy for the victims of Friday’s massacre in Paris by ISIS, and his insistence that the US accept tens or hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees from Syria.   It does though make sense when we listen to his own words:

The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam.

The sweetest sound I know is the Muslim call to prayer.

We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over the centuries to shape the world — including in my own country.

As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam.

Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.

. . . etcetera

Putin has it right.  Obama’s reign of error is that of a child — a narcissistic small boy avenging his father.  Such a neurotic character served Shakespeare well, but is unfit to be president.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Hillary Clinton-approved email server

I love this parody.  It’s a humorous advertisement for your own mail server:

Do you run a government agency but hate complying with the law?  Then you need DC Matic, the Hillary Clinton-approved email server!

credit: Written and performed by Remy.  Video directed and edited by Meredith Bragg

What’s Hillary hiding?  Classified emails?  Sure.  Evidence of her negligence in Benghazi that led to the murders of US citizens?  Of course.  Security breaches via assistant Huma Abedin’s Muslim Brotherhood connections?  Probably.  No, the ticking time bomb in this server is bribery.  Maybe treason as well.  She’s hiding written evidence of her deals that traded State Department help in exchange for large donations to the Clinton Foundation and large fees for speaking engagements by Bill Clinton.

Putney Swope and Barack Obama

Today’s laughably corrupt Obama regime is life imitating art. Which art? Cinema. Whacked-out cinema. Farce. Namely, 1969’s Putney Swope:

Both Swope and Obama were elected to office by fools who suffer from chronic white guilt.

In 1969, Putney Swope announced:

The changes I’m gonna make will be minimal. I’m not gonna rock the boat. Rockin’ the boat’s a drag. What you do is sink the boat.

In 2008, Barack Obama bragged:

. . . we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.

Mr. Obama is trying to transform America, alright. Transform it from a prosperous capitalist economy governed by a constitutional republic to a bankrupt socialist economy governed by a corrupt tyrannical dictatorship. Barack is following Putney’s credo, “What you do is sink the boat.”

Lady MacClinton’s emails

Lady Macbeth
Lady Macbeth
The new improved Clinton lie:

I did not have textual relations with that server.

Yesterday, the FBI took possession of Hillary Clinton’s private mail server. It provided mail services for the clintonemail.com domain. She, using the hdr22@clintonemail.com mailbox, apparently used it for official email while she was Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. This is a violation of US federal regulations on preservation of government records.

Hillary ClintonIt’s clear that Hillary set up this server specifically to circumvent these regulations. While Secretary of State she set up a tollbooth which collected payments from business and government leaders in exchange for favors from her department and friends. The payments were deposited in the Clinton Foundation slush fund. Of course she didn’t want records kept in the federal archive.

I don’t know the details of this server. Microsoft Exchange is popular, but a pain to configure and maintain. A Linux-based mailserver is also a pain to configure but requires less maintenance. In either case outside I.T. support is required. That party will have worthwhile information.

Server contents

In March, Hillary claimed,

The server contains personal communications from my husband and me, and I believe I have met all of my responsibilities and the server will remain private.

Her dopey husband accidentally contradicted her twice when he denied ever sending any emails to anyone, ever.

Unencrypted classified emails?

You've got mailApparently her clintonemail.com server had no authentication certificate for its first three months of operation. This means that all traffic in and out of that server would have been unencrypted. Chances are good that the Chinese, Russian, or Ukraine government read some of those emails.

I’m curious to see what’s on the server’s backup system’s archived media.

Lady MacClinton’s been skating on thin legal ice for years. Maybe this time she’ll not skate away.

Details: The Spy Satellite Secrets in Hillary’s Emails

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

YouTube subtitle humor

Here’s a funny video that’s supposedly an Iranian negotiator recounting the stupidity of Messrs Obama and Kerry:

The sardonic subtitles were added by Madison McQueen. (She apparently is the granddaughter of actor Steve McQueen.)

The best line:

I’ve had tougher negotiations over a falafel sandwich!

I first saw this sort of humor in a video clip taken from a biography of Hitler: United broke Hitler’s guitar, too!.

I like this sort of humorous subtitling. And I like its message: Obama and Kerry are fools.

OPM data breach

In June we were told by the federal OPM (Office of Personnel Management) that as many as four million personal records of government employees who hold security clearances had been compromised by what appeared to be Chinese hackers. We’ve since learned that fourteen million — no, wait — at least twenty-four million records were compromised.

A congressional hearing sounds like a cure for insomnia, but I was fascinated by the hours-long video record of the June 24 hearing by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The OPM’s director, CIO, US-CERT representative, Inspector General, and OPM contractors responded to questions by the committee. It’s a long hearing, but filled with revealing glimpses into a bureaucracy that spent over five hundred million dollars on I.T. since 2008. And still failed.

It sounds like OPM has three insecure areas:

  • the records within its files aren’t encrypted;
  • its perimeter security is vulnerable;
  • its management of vendors’ security policies is weak.

Unencrypted records stored in COBOL files

I gather that OPM stores these records in files that were created by applications that were written in COBOL. Apparently over a million records include fingerprints stored as unencrypted graphics images. It’s likely that these COBOL files are ISAM (Indexed Sequential Access Method) files or derivatives. Fields — even numeric fields — within ISAM files are stored as ASCII characters. It’s inefficient, but very easy to read.

COBOL code
Typical COBOL code

As far as I know, COBOL lacks the ability to encrypt fields. I’ve managed a legacy COBOL ERP system that was compiled with MicroFocus COBOL and used the Btrieve record management system. It worked nicely. The underlying Btrieve record manager would allow fields to be encrypted and supplemental indexes added without the permission of the overlying COBOL program. The original COBOL code remained intact, unaware that Btrieve was adding indexes, encrypting, decrypting, etc. Similar adaptations of legacy COBOL programs to Oracle RDBMS exist.

My guess is that the OPM data files are read by more than one application. If the record layouts of these files were changed, all applications that read them would need to be changed. This could be a major task.

I can’t comment on the OPM’s perimeter vulnerability. Their supervision of contractors was inadequate, since poor user management at contractor KeyPoint Government Solutions opened a door to attackers. (Details: Contractor breach gave hackers keys to OPM data).

Data security ain’t easy.

I’m happy to learn that the OPM director and CIO were fired after this hearing. They were clearly in over their heads. It is, though, like closing the barn door after the horses (or data) have fled.

Non-technical people should not attempt to manage technical enterprises. They simply can’t manage processes that they don’t understand. It’s too easy to fool a non-technical person with smoke and mirrors. Case in point: Steve Ballmer, a salesman who mis-managed Microsoft for a decade.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

President Obama endorses net neutrality

Yesterday, Reuters reported a piece of good news: Obama pressures FCC for strong net neutrality rules. They quote from Mr. Obama’s speech:

Simply put: No service should be stuck in a ‘slow lane’ because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gate keeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth.

I’m puzzled. If Mr. Obama favors net neutrality, why did he appoint cable TV and cellular phone industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler as FCC chairman last year? In May, predictably, FCC Chairman Wheeler Proposes Net Partiality, which he couched in terms of “net neutrality”. Curiouser and curiouser.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Nation’s new cyber security chief just another windbag

President Obama recently appointed Michael Daniel to the position of “cybersecurity czar”. Michael Daniel official photoWho’s he? Techdirt reported that White House’s Cybersecurity Guy Proud Of His Lack Of Cybersecurity Knowledge Or Skills. Cybersecurity analyst Robert Lee, writing in Forbes, points out that It Does Matter That The White House Cybersecurity Czar Lacks Technical Chops. I agree. This supposedly high-tech administration is over-run with MBAs and lawyers who are dilettantes in technical matters. They don’t understand even the fundamentals of technology, so they can’t see through shuck.

Exhibit A is FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, who was a lobbyist for both the cable TV and cell phone industries(!). He was also a major Obama political campaign consolidator.

Click for Obama windbag video
image by Politizoid

Then there’s the IRS, whose managers and IT staff seem to have no clue about disaster recovery planning or routine data recovery procedures. Or are they merely trying to hide evidence of criminal behavior?

For an administration that boasts of its techno-hipness, the appointment of one more windbag to a position that requires technical expertise is pathetic.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Look! Up in the sky!

Greenpeace airship over NSA image
Photo by Greenpeace

It’s the Greenpeace / EFF / TAC airship, flying above NSA’s new enormous data center in Utah. They were protesting the NSA’s illegal snooping and seizure of citizens’ electronic personal effects. EFF reported the event on their website:

Greenpeace flew its 135-foot-long thermal airship over the Bluffdale, UT, data center early Friday morning, carrying the message: “NSA Illegal Spying Below” along with a link steering people to a new web site, StandAgainstSpying.org, which the three groups launched with the support of a separate, diverse coalition of over 20 grassroots advocacy groups and Internet companies. The site grades members of Congress on what they have done, or often not done, to rein in the NSA.

The Guardian published a full story on this event.

While the NSA is in the spotlight, when will James Clapper be indicted for lying to Congress about NSA’s capture of domestic telephone records?

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

FCC’s Mr. Wheeler replies

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler replied to my emailed request that he act responsibly regarding net neutrality during the upcoming FCC meeting on May 15. His reply:

Thank you very much for contacting us about the ongoing Open Internet proceeding. We’re hoping to hear from as many people as possible about this critical issue, and so I’m very glad that we can include your thoughts and opinions.

I’m a strong supporter of the Open Internet, and I will fight to keep the internet open. Thanks again for sharing your views with me.

Tom Wheeler Chairman Federal Communications Commission    —-

—  Original Message  ——- 
From:     rb@russbellew.com  
Subject:   Define ISPs as common carriers

Do the right thing, not what Mr. Wheeler’s former employers desire. Do what US citizens desire: define ISPs as common carriers.

Ref https://rbellew.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/fcc-chairman-wheeler-proposes-net-partiality /

Regards,
Russ Bellew
rb@russbellew.com
website: http://russbellew.com blog: https://rbellew.wordpress.com
954 873-4695


Mind you, Mr. Wheeler is a lawyer and industry lobbyist — just the latest one at the FCC. It’s a corrupt revolving door agency whose board members shuttle between the FCC and the industry it’s supposed to regulate.

Before its May 15 meeting, tell the FCC what you think about the importance of a level Internet playing field. Send email to openinternet@fcc.gov.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

FCC Chairman Wheeler proposes net partiality

If you read my article about Tom Wheeler last year, you know that I disapprove of his appointment to the chairmanship of the FCC. Why? He’s a long-time lobbyist for both the cellular phone and cable TV industries. The fox is now guarding the hen house.

Tom WheelerOn Thursday, Chairman Wheeler published Setting the Record Straight on the FCC’s Open Internet Rules. His article proposes

That ISPs may not act in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity.

Translation: ISPs may sell preferential access to the highest bidder.

This is exactly what Mr. Wheeler’s former employers want him to propose, and it will stifle innovation and creativity that depend upon a level Internet playing field.

In January, the Washington D.C. Court of Appeals told the FCC what it must do to ensure net neutrality: it must re-classify broadband service as a public utility. (Verge article: The wrong words: how the FCC lost net neutrality and could kill the internet)

Barbara van Schewick, writing in Stanford Law School’s blog, published a thoughtful discussion: The FCC changed course on network neutrality. Here is why you should care. She proposes:

The FCC can reclassify Internet service as a telecommunications service and adopt network neutrality rules under Title II of the Telecommunications Act – rules that are unencumbered by the restrictions imposed by Section 706. To ensure that reclassification does not result in onerous regulation, the FCC should immediately forbear from applying those Title II provisions that are not necessary to protect consumers.

Dan Gillmor, writing in The Guardian, summarizes Mr. Wheeler’s proposal in The FCC is about to axe-murder net neutrality. Don’t get mad – get even:

The sky hasn’t fallen with today’s FCC announcements. Let’s not panic. But if we don’t start getting serious about this, as a public, we will lose the most important medium in human history. That would be worse than tragic.

The Verge has prepared an excellent 90-second video that summarizes Mr. Wheeler’s net partiality. Watch it.


Tell the FCC what you think about the importance of a level Internet playing field. Send email to openinternet@fcc.gov.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

EU Net Neutrality

image

The European Union will soon enforce meaningful net neutrality policies on european ISPs. (European Union vote clears the way to end roaming charges, enforce net neutrality)

The EU telecoms package also included strong protections for net neutrality, making it illegal for network providers to block or impose speed restrictions on data based on the sender or recipient.

Coupled with strict enforcement of privacy policies, EU Internet users enjoy a better online environment than American Internet users.

Why would I expect more from the American government, since it’s devolved into a corporatocracy?

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Verizon beats FCC in court

This Verge article explains in simple language how profoundly yesterday’s ruling will affect us, and how badly the FCC has regulated (if you can call it that) the Internet service providers — for decades. I don’t expect the FCC’s new chairman, Tom Wheeler, former lobbyist for the cable AND cellular industries, to be the consumers’ friend.

The FCC has been a playground for ambitious lawyers, not engineers. You’d have thought that at least they’d have used the right words — their only stock in trade — but they screwed even that up. It’s time to replace the FCC’s lawyers with engineers.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Lavabit CEO discusses his surveillance nightmare

ListenLeo Laporte yesterday aired a live audio interview with Ladar Levison, CEO and founder of Lavabit.

Ladar-Levison-FacebookLast month, Mr. Levison made the headlines when he shut down his Dallas-based secure email service immediately after providing his company’s SSL keys (effectively, the company’s master keys) to the FBI in compliance with a federal court order. He posted this message on Lavabit’s home page:

I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people or walk away from nearly ten years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit.

Levison expects his case to eventually reach the Supreme Court. Some snippets from yeesterday’s interview:

Law enforcement is necessary. It’s a difficult job. Surveillance is supposed to be difficult. When it’s easy, we have a police state.

I’m not anti-government. I’m pro-freedom.

Lavabit defense fund

Exodus from U.S. web services begins

Web services that are based outside the U.S. are touting their immunity from NSA searches. Startpage is a Dutch search engine that boasts of its concern for user privacy. startpage.com front pageIt defaults to communicating via Secure Sockets Layer (https), so there’s a prayer that even a US-based user will be able to search the web without the NSA looking over his or her shoulder. The European Union has much better computer user privacy laws than America.

This is the start of an exodus from U.S.-based web services of all kinds. Governments and corporations around the world are beginning to reduce their exposure to overzealous U.S. federal government snooping.

I don’t blame them.

Traffic via TOR (The Onion Router — a service that anonymizes users) has increased 500 percent since Mr. Snowden’s NSA snooping revelations.

Before Microsoft bought Skype, Skype conversations were private. Microsoft caved in to federal government demands for a Skype back door. Now that the extent of the NSA’s snooping has been revealed, US corporations that caved, such as Microsoft, will pay a price as they lose business to non-US competitors.

How about iPhone sales or Windows sales?

How will the NSA’s snooping and acquiescence by American corporations affect international sales of American products such as Apple iPhones, Cisco routers, etc.? How about Microsoft Windows? Microsoft is known to have cooperated with the NSA. What guarantees that its products — both software and hardware — don’t contain back doors?

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695