Obama proves that Hope doesn’t include Trust

An Obama administration working group has explored four possible approaches tech companies might use that would allow law enforcement to unlock encrypted communications — access that some tech firms say their systems are not set up to provide.

The group concluded that the solutions were “technically feasible,” but all had drawbacks as well.

The approaches were analyzed as part of a months-long government discussion about how to deal with the growing use of encryption in which no one but the user can see the information. Law enforcement officials have argued that armed with a warrant they should be able to obtain communications, such as e-mails and text messages, from companies in terrorism and criminal cases.

Senior officials do not intend to advance the solutions as “administration proposals” — or even want them shared outside the government, according to a draft memo obtained by The Washington Post.

Why? — They’re afraid Americans still believe our government should protect our privacy.

“Rather than sparking more discussion, government-proposed technical approaches would almost certainly be perceived as proposals to introduce ‘backdoors’ or vulnerabilities in technology products and services and increase tensions rather [than] build cooperation,” the memo said.

…National Security Council spokesman Mark Stroh stated in an e-mail that “these proposals are not being pursued.”

And we’re supposed to believe him…after the Obama White House spent a month trying to figure out how to get away with achieving these proposals.

Instead of offering technical solutions, the working group drew up a set of principles to guide engagement with the private sector. They include: no bulk collection of information and no “golden keys” for the government to gain access to data.

All of which were suggested by assorted government experts in the Obama administration.

All four approaches amount to what most cryptography experts call a “backdoor” because they would require developers to alter their systems by adding a surreptitious mechanism for accessing encrypted content, according to Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy & Technology…

Technologists have said such approaches weaken the security of encryption by adding layers of complexity that might hide bugs and creating new potential targets for hackers.

In general, creating an “aftermarket solution” instead of designing a solution into the platform from the start “brings in additional vulnerabilities” that could be exploited, the law enforcement official acknowledged.

These are some of the reasons why federal officials say they want the companies themselves to craft solutions based on their own systems.

A number of encryption solutions are built by groups of open-source developers, who make the software available for free on the Internet. The open-source nature of the code makes it harder to hide a backdoor. And because the developers are often dispersed among different countries and volunteers who are not working for any company, it is impractical for law enforcement to serve an order on one that’s enforceable on all.

“These challenges mean that inaccessible encryption will always be available to malicious actors,” the memo said…And to individuals who still think their privacy trumps a government run to satisfy police above all else..


The company behind California’s methane disaster knew the well leaked 24 years ago

Last fall, a 7-inch injection well pipe ruptured 500 feet below the surface of Los Angeles, after ferrying natural gas for six decades. The resulting methane leak is now being called one of the largest environmental disasters since the BP oil spill, has pushed thousands of people out of their homes, and has quickly become the single biggest contributor to climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions in California. But it’s not the first time this well sprang a leak—and Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), which owns and operates the well, knew it…

So who’s to blame for a leak that cannot be stopped? Aging natural gas equipment may have contributed. According to documents filed with the California Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources, this particular well, referred to as Standard Sesnon 25, was originally drilled in 1953, and showed signs of leakage 24 years ago, in 1992. Inspectors reported that they could hear the leak through borehole microphones.

Gene Nelson, a professor of physical science at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California who has seen the document, said that he found it “appalling that SoCalGas did not identify this as a well to shut off,” after receiving this feedback.

There have been other problems documented at this facility before. And in 2014, inspectors at the wells documented corrosion and negative integrity trends…

Other safety issues have been pointed out recently, too. Earlier this month, The LA Times reported that attorneys representing some of the 1,000 residents suing SoCalGas over the leak claim the company failed to replace an important safety valve that was removed in 1979 — a valve that could have stopped the current leak in its tracks. The plaintiffs also allege that the company again identified leaks at the site five years ago, but never implemented plans to fix them…

So far, some 2,300 homes have voluntarily evacuated and several schools have been closed, with many residents complaining of headaches and nosebleeds from the foul-smelling chemical additives. These include radon, hydrogen sulfide, and an odorant called mercaptan, which is added to the gas both before and after it leaves the storage field.

The well, which funnels natural gas to 22 million customers in the Los Angeles Basin, is expected to take another three months to plug. O’Connor says that the disaster is a telling sign about the viability of natural gas in a country of aging infrastructure.

The methane released into the air will take about 10 years to convert to slightly less of a danger to the climate. Just one more example of crap infrastructure – private and public – crippling the economic and environmental life of our nation. Infrastructure our elected officials refuse to regulate or repair.

Freedom Industries chemical tanks ordered removed

Click to enlargeAP Photo/Steve Helber

The company whose storage tank spilled a chemical that tainted the water supply of 300,000 people in West Virginia must begin removing its above-ground storage tanks by March 15, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ordered on Saturday.

Freedom Industries must dismantle and remove 17 tanks and related equipment at its coal processing plant in Charleston, West Virginia, under Tomblin’s directive, part of a consent order signed by the company’s president and the state’s Department of Environmental Protection…

A January 9 spill of the 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or crude MCHM, into the Elk River prompted the state to impose a ban on the use of tap water for 300,000 people in the Charleston region. The ban lasted as long as 10 days for some residents…

Tomblin declared a state of emergency while the chemical, used in coal processing, was flushed out of the water system.

Three of the 17 tanks at the Freedom Industries facility contained crude MCHM and the chemical PPH, and all three tanks are now empty, according to Tomblin’s statement. Material in the remaining 14 tanks contain calcium chloride and glycerin, the statement said.

It is criminal in this day and age to confront an interlocking directorate of politics and poisonous industries leftover from the 19th Century. In West Virginia, in most parts of the United States where extractive industries provide the only employment – you generally find a population never educated to look for better, work for anyone better. The opportunity to broaden, grow and modernize an economy hasn’t arrived on its own and local politicians couldn’t care less.

Mine owners pick up the tab for their elections along with additional out-of-state support from the sources you’d expect to back primitive working and living conditions: US Chamber of Commerce, chemical industry associations, fossil fuel speculators. The politics stink. The jobs stink. The earth and water stink!

Former high-ranking US general under investigation for leaks

General Cartwright and his boss

One of the highest ranking military officers in the US is under investigation for allegedly leaking top secret information about a cyber attack on Iran’s nuclear programme…

NBC news channel reported…that retired General James Cartwright, a former second-highest-ranking officer, was under investigation for leaking information on a covert computer virus, called Stuxnet.

The virus was used in 2010 to temporarily disable 1,000 centrifuges used for enriching uranium by Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Cartwright, who was the number two person in the joint chiefs of staff from 2007 to 2011, was instrumental in the development of Stuxnet, and his role was publicised in a New York Times article published last year.

The article exposed that the virus was the Obama administration’s key weapon against Iran’s nuclear weapons programme.

President Barack Obama responded to the article sternly: “My attitude has been zero tolerance for these kinds of leaks. These are criminal acts when they release information like this.”

Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washington DC, said that there was ongoing speculation about Cartwright’s motive behind the leaks.

“It’s simply a stunning development when you consider that the Obama administration has always said that ‘people who leak are going to be prosecuted if we figure out who they are.'”

Will Cartwright be treated as cruelly as Bradley Manning? Will he be prosecuted for espionage the way Ed Snowden is threatened by scumbags like Dick Cheney and Peter King?

I need a new pair of rubber boots if I’m to wade through Obama’s hypocrisy. So much of his ideology is typical Democrat Cold War crappola. He authorizes a criminal attack on another nation – then, villainizes a participant for leaking the tale.

As much of an historic event was his election, that doesn’t change the fact that the core of his politics remains the same old barely useful and timid pragmatism we’re accustomed to from Democrats since Truman. It’s all we’re allowed by our tired TweedleDeeDumb two old parties.

Top CIA spy pulled from Pakistan after terror threats

The CIA has recalled its top spy in Pakistan out of concern for his safety after terrorist threats against him, a U.S. intelligence official said.

The station chief, the highest-ranking U.S. intelligence officer in Pakistan, operates covertly and his identity is considered classified. He had recently been named in a lawsuit filed by a Pakistani man seeking $500 million for the death of his son and brother, who the man alleges were killed in a U.S. drone strike. The spy’s name then appeared in Pakistani media stories about the lawsuit.

The threats “were of such a serious nature that it would be imprudent not to act,” the intelligence official said, describing the decision to pull him from the country…

“Our station chiefs routinely encounter major risk as they work to keep America safe, and they’ve been targeted by terrorists in the past,” CIA spokesman George Little said. “Their security is obviously a top priority for the CIA, especially when there’s an imminent threat.”

The station chief oversees all intelligence operations in Pakistan including managing the drone program, which the U.S. government does not publicly acknowedge, and coordinates with the country’s intelligence office.

Of course, every Pakistan official who has been queried about the leak denies any culpability, any way that bureaucrats under their control may have released the station chief’s name.


Toyota recalls 1.5 million cars – mostly in the U.S. and Japan

Yes, I miss my old Toyota Cressida

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, will call back about 750,000 cars in North America, and 599,000 cars in Japan, mostly models made from 2004 to 2006, the automaker said. About 140,000 cars in the rest of Asia and Australia, and 50,000 cars in Europe, also are being recalled…

The president of the company, Akio Toyoda, subsequently promised to improve quality and customer service, including paying more attention to customer complaints and speeding up recall decisions. In February, the automaker set up a special global committee to oversee quality, led by Mr. Toyoda.

“Every time we announce a recall, that is a step toward increasing quality,” a spokesman for Toyota in Tokyo, Paul Nolasco, said Thursday. The pedal-related recalls had “brought it home to Toyota that we need to refocus on quality,” he said.

Most of vehicles in Thursday’s recall need to be fixed for a problem in the brakes’ master cylinder, Mr. Nolasco said. The cylinder, which contains brake fluid, could leak under certain circumstances, causing a loss in braking power.

Toyota has also found an electrical fault with the fuel pump that could cause the engine to stall, Mr. Nolasco said. That defect was concentrated in models sold in Japan.

The automaker is not aware of any accidents linked to these problems, he said…

Owners will be notified by mailings beginning early next month, and dealers will replace part of the brake’s master cylinder free of charge, Toyota said.

The recall apparently is another reflection of Toyota losing their way, trying to get to GM’s historic size without considering GM’s historic quality problems.

I haven’t researched the fuel pump problems; but, it seems clear the brake cylinder leaking is strictly a beancounter problem. Someone figured out how to save a fraction of a penny on one small part or other – and diminished quality and life of the master cylinder. Typical of the breed. Didn’t used to be typical of Toyota.

Oil now leaking from Gulf disaster piping – UPDATED

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Oil appears not to be flowing from a sunken drilling rig and damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico, but hope was dimming as search continued for 11 workers missing in the disaster, said the U.S. Coast Guard.

“As of right now, the spill is not growing,” a U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman said.

A remotely operated unmanned submarine sent down Thursday to inspect the scene found no oil leaking from the sunken Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and no oil flowing from the well, reducing the risk of a major spill, a spokeswoman said…

But 11 workers remained missing despite an intensive search and it was feared they were unable to escape the blast.

The Transocean Deepwater Horizon sank Thursday after burning since Tuesday following an explosion while trying to temporarily cap a new well drilled for BP 42 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana.

The blast occurred about 10 p.m. CDT Tuesday as the rig was capping a discovery well pending production, company officials said. Some 115 of the 126 workers on board at the time of the explosion were rescued.

I’m truly glad to see that the blowout protection systems appear to be working.

Obviously not as designed – for that would have prevented the explosion and resulting fire, loss of life and the rig. But, one of the critical portions of such systems is closing the wellhead and preventing an oil spill.

Folks will still need to get down to the bottom and properly cap the well. No doubt the process will include drilling an ancillary well to access the original production holes.

UPDATE: Capping the well acquires a higher priority now that risers and drill pipe from the wellhead are leaking oil at a rate approximated at 1000 barrels a day.

This is a serious rate – and although the blowout protection system did its job, the drill rig components failed as a result of the explosion and mechanical forces exerted on the drilling system.