‘Dark Tangent’ goes to work for Homeland Security

The real sign that the White House might be finally taking cyber security seriously came in an announcement that Jeff Moss, aka “Dark Tangent” and the former hacker behind the annual DefCon hacker confab in Las Vegas, has been appointed to the Department of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council (HSAC).

He was among 16 people sworn in to the council by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Former CIA Director WIlliam Webster and former FBI Director Louis Freeh are also on the council, which provides advice and recommendations to the secretary. Webster is the council chair.

Moss, who lives in Seattle, says he was really surprised when he got a call about three weeks ago inviting him to join.

“I always figured that because of my associations in the past that I would be kind of out of the running for anything like this,” he told Threat Level. “DefCon started as a hacking conference . . . and I just figured that that past, in a nontraditional beginning, people wouldn’t know how to relate to that. To me it shows that they’re really looking for fresh perspectives…”

Moss says he didn’t have a clue what the Advisory Council was when he got the call to join. But he was told that DHS was looking for outside perspectives to rejuvenate the council, which had been neglected under former Secretary Michael Chertoff. The position is voluntary and runs for a term of three years.

Good for you, dude. Glad you’re not saddled with the kind of counter-culture hangups that inhibit performing a useful service for something larger than your clan.

Hundreds at memorial service for murdered doctor George Tiller – UPDATED

This morning’s memorial service for slain abortion doctor George Tiller was a peaceful celebration of his life, which culminated when his wife of nearly 45 years, Jeanne, stood alone on the altar and, in a strong clear soprano, sang “The Lord’s Prayer,” which she dedicated to “the love of my life.”

Many in the overflow crowd at College Hill United Methodist Church wept audibly as Tiller’s widow, willowy and elegant in a lace blouse and white linen skirt and clasping a white hankie, hit several impossibly high notes. Sunday, when Tiller was shot in the vestibule of their Lutheran church, she had been preparing to sing in the choir. Tiller’s closed casket was draped in white cloth…

On the altar, a photograph of a smiling Tiller was displayed next to a large wreath with the words “Trust Women,” a favorite Tiller saying. His love of axioms and aphorisms was a leit motif of the service, during which he was eulogized by a friend of 50 years and his four adult children, two of whom are physicians. To them, and to his 10 grandchildren, he was known as “Papa.”

“Today, I will not go into any of the current political and media frenzy that we are all experiencing and living this moment, but I will say this: George’s constant challenges over these last decades have been exemplary of his brave, courageous, passionate and dedicated attitude . . . which the common man can’t even comprehend,” said Larry Borcherding, his friend of 50 years and a fraternity brother of Tiller’s at the University of Kansas…

Although security was tight at the 90-minute service, with uniformed and plainclothes law enforcement officers in abundance, the hundreds who had gathered to honor Tiller entered the sanctuary freely, and police reported no disruptive incidents. Warren Hern, one of the only other physicians in the country who provide late-term abortions, served as a pallbearer. He is under the protection of federal marshals

Fifty or more motorcycles were parked next to the church, owned by members of the Patriot Guard, war veterans who had come to honor Tiller, a Navy veteran and former flight surgeon who trained as a young doctor at Camp Pendleton.

Sure is special living in a free country. If we could only get religious nutballs to understand the part about separation of church and state. And maybe freedom of choice.

UPDATE: The religious fanatic who killed Dr. Miller has been found Guilty. May he live a very long time in his cell.

Ballmer tries extortion – to avoid paying taxes in the United States

dollar flag
The only flag Ballmer salutes

Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer has threatened to move more US jobs overseas if President Barack Obama refuses to change his stance on ending tax breaks on foreign earnings.

Big Steve told Bloomberg yesterday that US tax rates made jobs “more expensive. We’re better off taking lots of people and moving them out of the US as opposed to keeping them inside the US.”

Last month Obama put forward plans to outlaw or restrict about $190bn in tax breaks for offshore firms over the next decade.

Currently, US tax regulations allow companies to defer foreign profit payments of corporate rates by as much as 35 per cent as long as the cash remains invested overseas, but Obama wants to kybosh those rules.

Ballmer and Microsoft are accustomed to getting their way by making threats instead of constructive engagement. I guess the years of Congressional lapdogs really are coming to an end. I hope so.

Ballmer and his buddies will do whatever they wish to maximize profits regardless of American tax and fiscal policy. The subsidies his class have pocketed over the last decade for offshoring jobs haven’t increased their capability of weathering the storm of competition. Neither will a government that caves in to extortion.

Thanks, Cinaedh

Gay penguins parent adopted chick

Proud parents guard the nursery cave

Two “gay” male penguins have hatched a chick and are now rearing it as its adoptive parents, says a German zoo.

The zoo, in Bremerhaven, northern Germany, says the adult males – Z and Vielpunkt – were given an egg which was rejected by its biological parents. The couple are now happily rearing the chick, said to have reached four weeks old…

“Z and Vielpunkt, both males, gladly accepted their ‘Easter gift’ and got straight down to raising it,” said a zoo statement.

“Since the chick arrived, they have been behaving just as you would expect a heterosexual couple to do. The two happy fathers spend their days attentively protecting, caring for and feeding their adopted offspring…”

Homosexual behaviour is well documented in many different animals, but it is not understood in detail, says Professor Stuart West, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford…

“Homosexuality is nothing unusual among animals,” Bremerhaven zoo said on Wednesday.

Sex and coupling up in our world do not necessarily have anything to do with reproduction.”

That isn’t the wind you hear in the background. It’s a gasp of shock and disbelief from open mouths and closed minds.

Who’s bankrolling Pakistan insurgents? It ain’t the Afghan drug trade.

Admiral Mike Mullen, Richard Holbrooke, Pakistani FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

ISLAMABAD: The United States has said that Afghan drug trade was not a major source of funding for militancy and extremism in Pakistan. The financing came from extremists’ patrons in Gulf countries — an aspect now being scrutinised, the statement added.

‘Private individuals who support extremists bring money in through illegal means … hawala system and the area focussed is the Gulf Cooperation Council countries,’ US Special Envoy…Richard Holbrooke told a media briefing at the American Embassy.

Mr Holbrooke…said it was ‘a very big issue’ and ‘the most troubling aspect of the entire situation.’

The US, he said, had started looking into the source of financing for the extremists and would be devoting more time to investigate it. He admitted that not much work was done in the past to explore this aspect.

However, he said the much-touted drug trade was not the main financing source for extremism. ‘Even if the drug trade stops it won’t have any significant impact.’

A significant difference in public analysis by the U.S. government. No doubt the Bush administration did little to analyze funding for the Taliban in either Afghanistan or Pakistan. Especially if there was any hint that his buddies in the Persian Gulf were involved.

Holbrooke is being careful, precise enough in his choice of words to confine his statement to “private individuals” being responsible for the flow of gold to the insurgency. Though, I doubt that any significant traffic through the wahala banking system goes unscrutinized by Saudi royals or UAE sheikhs.

Regardless – this extends the range of potentially “official” enemies to reactionary thugs in Gulf oil country.

Yokels afraid of satellites, airplanes, who knows what else?

“I guess an fear!”

One is an assemblyman in California; the other a piano tuner in Pennsylvania.

But when they independently looked at online aerial imagery of nuclear power plants and other sites, they had the same reaction: They said they feared that terrorists might be doing the same thing.

Now, both have launched efforts to try to get Internet map services to remove or blur images of sensitive sites, saying the same technology that allows people to see a neighbor’s swimming pool can be used by terrorists to chose targets and plan attacks.

“It is disturbing to me that terrorists can now perform considerable surveillance without visiting the targeted site,” piano tuner and nuclear watchdog Scott Portzline wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano…

Joel Anderson, a member of the California Assembly, has more expansive goals. He has introduced a bill in the state Legislature that would prohibit “virtual globe” services from providing unblurred pictures of schools, churches and government or medical facilities in California. It also would prohibit those services from providing street-view photos of those buildings.

“It struck me that a person in a tent halfway around the world could target an attack like that with a laptop computer,” said Anderson, a Republican legislator who represents San Diego’s East County. Anderson said he doesn’t want to limit technology, but added, “There’s got to be some common sense.”

The average ignoramus always seems to think “common sense” dictates fear of every technology they peer at for the first time – even if it’s been around for decades.

I get a special chuckle over Anderson’s quivering over a terrorist in a tent halfway around the world ready to “target an attack…with a laptop computer”. This presumes a broadband connection to that tent, I guess.

This has been the mantra of every cowardly conservative inquisitor since the days of Mercator and Galileo. It’s just especially laughable coming from a local yokel who presumes expertise in terror attacks – even though he just discovered Google Earth. The overwhelming benefit and services provided by public access to the technology means nothing – to his timorous heart.

If I was a voter in Anderson’s assembly district, I’d worry more about whatever else he probably hasn’t yet discovered.