Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Internet

Wikipedia, ACLU sue NSA over Constitutional Violations

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, March 13, 2015:

On Tuesday Wikimedia (the foundation behind Wikipedia) joined forces with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to file suit against the National Security Agency (NSA) for violating the Constitution and exceeding authority granted to it by Congress. The lawsuit

challenges the suspicionless seizure and searching of internet traffic by the National Security Agency (NSA) on U.S. soil….

 

The NSA is seizing Americans’ communications en masse while they are in transit [in the network of high-capacity cables, switches, and routers that make up the internet], and it is searching the contents of substantially all international text-based communications – and many domestic communications as well – for tens of thousands of search terms.

 

The surveillance exceeds the scope of the authority that Congress provided in the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA) and violates the First and Fourth Amendments.

Because Wikipedia serves as an anonymous source of information for more than 500 million readers every month, and because its content is continually being updated by an estimated 75,000 contributors from around the world every month, such unrestricted and blatant invasion of privacy is having a dampening effect on Wiki and its customers, according to the lawsuit.

For example,

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Wiki Lawsuit Highlights NSA’s All-Inclusive, Unconstitutional Spying

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, March 11, 2015:

Official portrait of NSA director Keith B. Ale...

Official portrait of NSA director Keith B. Alexander

As reported by The New American on Tuesday, Wikipedia has joined forces with the ACLU in representing itself and other groups violated by the NSA’s unrestrained data collection by suing the agency.

The lawsuit holds that the NSA has — by its relentless, warrantless, and suspicionless secret acquisition of Wikipedia’s private customer information — not only infringed on the precious freedoms of those customers guaranteed in the First and Fourth Amendments, but also exceeded authority granted to it by Congress under the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act.

Early in President George W. Bush’s first term, the NSA was given essentially carte blanche to

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China’s Failing Attempts to Censor the Internet

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, February 26, 2015:

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Internet censorship czar, Lu Wei, are learning that Princess Leia was right when she said in the movie Star Wars about extending increasing totalitarian political control, “The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”

When Wei visited Silicon Valley heavyweights last December, he noted that Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, had an anthology of President Xi’s speeches on his desk. Included in that book was a speech in which Xi laid out his vision of the Chinese Internet: 

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Internet Freedom to Disappear on Thursday

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Thursday, February 26, 2015:

Ronald Reagan wearing cowboy hat at Rancho del...

Ronald Reagan was right:

Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: if it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

Tom Wheeler, the current FCC Chairman, doesn’t think that’s funny. He thinks they are his marching orders. Encouraged by his boss, Wheeler is reaching for the biggest hammer in his toolbox to bludgeon the internet into submission and turn it into a utility. On Thursday Wheeler will

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FCC to Vote on Net Neutrality Rules on Thursday

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, February 24, 2015:

Logo of the United States Federal Communicatio...

On Thursday consumers will finally be able to see and read the FCC’s (Federal Communications Commission) planned new rules to regulate the Internet. Deliberately hidden from public view, the 332-page document is expected to be passed by the FTC, as demanded by President Obama last November when he told FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to adopt the “strongest possible rules” in regulating the Internet.

Leaks from the document were inevitable, and critics have slowly pieced together the latest attack on Internet freedom.

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Russian Cyber-thieves Steal $1 Billion From Russian Banks?

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, February 16, 2015: 

A report released on Monday from Kaspersky Lab to be presented at a cyber-security conference in Cancun, Mexico, revealed a highly sophisticated, well-funded, and immensely patient plan to steal at least $300 million from banks around the world, with estimates that the real losses could exceed $1 billion.

Kaspersky Lab, the fourth largest international provider of sophisticated software to fend off malware attacks, has been tracking the band of hackers known as Anunak or Carbanak for years. The first public exposure of the plot to steal millions at first appeared in late 2013 to be a simple mistake:

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FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules are ObamaCare for the Internet

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, February 6, 2015:

If the real intentions behind the benign phrase “net neutrality” were truly exposed, the conversation would be very short. As Will Durant noted in his The Story of Philosophy:

“If you wish to converse with me,” said Voltaire, “define your terms.” How many debates would have been deflated into a paragraph if the disputants had dared to define their terms! This is the alpha and omega of logic, the heart and soul of it, that every important term in serious discourse shall be subjected to the strictest scrutiny and definition. It is difficult, and ruthlessly tests the mind; but once done it is half of any task.

Opponents in the freedom fight have for years used obfuscation and false front words to advance their cause, but none more effectively than its term “net neutrality.” How could anyone object to that?

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Obama’s FCC to Issue “Net Neutrality” Rules on Thursday

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, February 3, 2015:

net neutrality world logo

Net Neutrality world logo

Following President Obama’s lead, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will announce new rules on Thursday changing Internet providers from “information services” to “telecommunications companies” in order to impose the president’s demand for “net neutrality” rules onto them.

The Federal Communications Commission regulates telecommunications companies with a heavy hand, but five previous attempts to force Internet providers into the net neutrality category have failed, having been met with stiff resistance, especially from the courts. Now, however, major players are forcing the issue for another try.

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Internet Freedom Shrinking, Says the Freedom House

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, January 5, 2015:

Mark Twain

Mark Twain

Excitement over the positive impact the Gutenberg Press had on freedom led Mark Twain to exclaim:

What the world is today, good and bad, it owes to Gutenberg. Everything can be traced to this source, but we are bound to bring him homage … for the bad that this colossal invention has brought about is overshadowed a thousand times by the good with which mankind has been favored.

More than two hundred years later, Andrew Wile, blogging at The Daily Bell, was equally ebullient, this time about the Internet – Gutenberg 2.0 – saying:

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Putin Demands All Data About His Citizens Be Stored Inside Russia

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, January 5, 2015:

 

On December 31, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the latest version of his country’s “personal data law” that, starting September 1, 2015, will require all companies to store data about Russian users only on computer servers inside the country. That way, according to the New York Times, “it will be easier for the government to get access to it.”

Whether those companies — Facebook, Twitter, and Google, among others — will comply is an open question. When Putin’s Internet “regulator” Roskomnadzor demanded that Facebook take down a page promoting a rally in support of political activist Alexei Navalny (whom the Wall Street Journal called “the man Vladimir Putin fears most”), Facebook complied. But within hours dozens of copycat pages popped up elsewhere, creating even more publicity for the January 15 event. 

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Human Progress Is Accelerating, Says Cato

This article first appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, December 31, 2014: 

Cato Institute

The Cato Institute continues to update its Human Progress website with sources from around the world showing graphically the enormous progress human beings have made in every conceivable area of their lives, especially over the last 50 years. 

From communications to the environment, from housing to transportation, there’s a data set that shows how far the human race has come in a very short period of time. 

Cato’s primary purpose in continuing to develop its HumanProgress.org website, already remarkably robust, is to dispel the common myth that things are getting worse, and at an accelerating rate: 

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Common Core Gooses Homeschooling

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, September 10, 2014:

 

A mother and her homeschooled daughter, studyi...

A mother and her homeschooled daughter, studying in the kitchen about household chemicals and the hazard warning labels(flammability, reactivity, etc )http://www.flickr.com/photos/vr/1253261487. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This time the headline underreported the news. From the Charlotte NewsObserver came this: “Homeschooling rate Accelerates in North Carolina.” A better headline would have read: “Homeschooling goes Exponential in North Carolina.” In 1985, the year that homeschooling was legalized in the state, there were about 2,300 home-schooled students. Two years ago there were 77,300 home-schooled students, which jumped to 85,900 last year. This year the number is closing in on 100,000, a gain of 27% in just two years. At that rate there will be more than 200,000 homeschooled students in North Carolina in less than five years. That’s exponential, with a vengeance.

It’s not surprising, given the federal pressure to adopt Common Core standards and curricula across the land. The greater the pressure, the greater the desire to opt out. Said Beth Herbert, founder of Lighthouse Christian Homeschool Association, “Common Core is a big factor that I hear people talk about. They’re not happy with the work their kids are coming home with. They decided to take their children home.”

Kelly Swinney, a retired homeschool mom, was much more direct: “Common Core is bad, plain and simple. It’s a one-size-fits-all program and kids just aren’t that way.” The pressure to opt out of Common Core has reached North Carolina’s General Assembly which just voted in July to create a commission to figure out how to do it.

Similar numbers are coming in from Freedom Project Education (FPE), backed by the John Birch Society. In three years the number of students in its K-12 program, based on the Constitution and free market economics, has grown from 22 to more than 700. Alan Scholl, director of FPE, told this writer that he had to turn back 130 additional students who asked to be enrolled after the August deadline had passed. He estimates that his school will have 1,000 students next fall, a gain of 4,500% in three years.

When asked how much of that was due to people trying to escape the clutches of Common Core, Scholl said: “At least half!”

Even before Common Core entered the classroom, parents were increasingly disenchanted with what was going on in their children’s schoolrooms. They didn’t like their school’s environment, the quality of the academic teaching, the curriculum that was increasingly dumbing the kids down while leaving out critical parts of American history, the bullying, the inevitable peer pressure to conform, and the lack of moral or religious instruction. They were tired of hearing how homeschooled students were outperforming their kids in every discipline. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), the average homeschooled student outperformed his public school peer by between 30 and 38 percent across all subjects. This was confirmed by Education News, which noted that “Homeschooling statistics show that those who are independently educated typically score between the 65th and 89th percentile on the [standardized assessment] exams, while those attending traditional [public] schools average at the 50th percentile.”

And when they hit college, they outperform their peers there as well. As Dr. Michael Cogan of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota noted in 2010, homeschooled students going to college achieve a higher first-year GPA than their peers, and that advantage is retained all the way through their college experience. In addition they have a higher graduation rate when they complete their studies.

And when they graduate from college, homeschoolers are much more active and involved in their communities, such as coaching a sports team, volunteering at a school, or working with a church or neighborhood association. In addition they are much more likely to be involved in political and civic affairs and vote at a much higher percentage than their peers. According to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI): “76% of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 24 voted within the last five years, compared with only 29% of the corresponding US populace. The numbers are even greater in older age groups, with voting levels not falling below 95%, compared to the high of 53% for the corresponding US populace.”

But it’s the pressure to conform to Common Core standards that have turbocharged the homeschool movement. The Common Core standards came about when Bill and Melinda Gates first began funding their vision for national education standards with their grant to the James B. Hunt Institute. So far the Gates have given more than $27 million as seed money, which led to the development of the Common Core Standards State Initiative and the Council of Chief State School Officers, two Washington, DC-based trade organizations. As noted at the FPE website:

In brief, each of the 50 states has been bribed by the federal government to accept the copyrighted and thus unalterable Common Core standards – even though most Americans have no idea what they entail – by offering those states millions….

To date, 46 states have accepted Common Core money, ceding curricula control to the federal government and taking it away from parents, teachers, and local school boards. Beyond the educational mediocrity the Common Core standards will further enshrine in public schools, there are elaborate plans to use the required national assessments within the Common Core standards as a tool to institute massive data collection about American schoolchildren that has nothing to do with education, and everything to do about government intrusion and control.

Emile Zola put it very well:

If you shut up the truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it burst through it will blow up everything in its way.

So it is with Common Core and the exponential response from parents who are increasingly aware of the danger and who want to see that their kids get a good education. Coupled with online schooling through the Internet, these concerned parents are increasingly opting out by doing it themselves and teaching their kids at home.

—————————

Sources:

Charlotte NewsObserver: Home schooling rate accelerates in North Carolina

Daily Signal: In One State, More Children Homeschool Than Attend Private Schools. Why That Shouldn’t Shock You.

Home Schooling

Home Schooling in the US

Education News: Number of Homeschoolers Growing Nationwide

The New American: Homeschooling Continues to Grow in Popularity Nationwide

FPE: What is Common Core?

National Home Education Research Institute (NEHRI)

 

DUIs drop when Ride-Sharing Companies come to town

This article was published by the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, August 25, 2014:

Franzia, straight from the tap.

Hearty partying

As ride-sharing smartphone apps like Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar continue their inevitable expansion, additional benefits are being felt. Last June Uber announced that DUI arrests dropped 10 percent in Seattle after they entered that market. Other cities noticed similar experiences, so one of the Washington Post’s writers enlisted the help of Nate Good, a statistics expert, to prove it. They looked at Philadelphia: DUIs have been declining there ever since Uber entered the Phillie market in early 2013. The decline is especially notable for those under age 30.

In San Francisco, the birthplace of the ride-sharing phenomenon in June 2010, the results are even more remarkable:

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Russian Malware Infecting U.S. Energy Grid

This article was first published by TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, July 2, 2014:

 

English: United States Power Grid

English: United States Power Grid

An alert from software giant Symantec on Monday announced an “ongoing campaign” by Russia-based cyber-terrorists who have changed their focus from espionage to sabotage. Their primary targets are energy companies using oil and natural gas to provide electrical power to the national grid.

The infections are so powerful that not only can they disrupt internal messaging and controls but they can also disrupt the operations of the physical power plants and pipelines, according to Symantec:

An ongoing cyberespionage campaign against a range of targets, mainly in the energy sector, gave attackers the ability to mount sabotage operations against their victims.

 

The attackers, known to Symantec as Dragonfly, managed to compromise a number of strategically important organizations for spying purposes and … could have caused damage or disruption to energy supplies in [the] affected countries.

The attacks emanating from Russia target not only the United States but Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and Poland, but they are focused primarily on the United States and Spain.

Symantec said that Dragonfly is no small group of weekend hackers, either: “The Dragonfly group is technically adept and able to think strategically … the group found a “soft underbelly” … invariably smaller, less protected companies.”

According to Symantec, this a government-sponsored operation: “The Dragonfly group is well-resourced with a range of malware tools at his disposal and is capable of launching attacks through a number of different [malware protocols].”

Eric Chien, the chief researcher for Symantec, is frightened over the implications of its discoveries: “When they do have that type of access, that motivation wouldn’t be [just] for espionage. When we look at where they’re at, we’re very concerned about sabotage.”

Dragonfly has already had success in infecting “industrial control systems” (ICS) equipment providers by using “software with a remote access type Trojan.” Once installed, the software handed off control of physical plant operations to the saboteurs in Russia:

[The Trojan] caused companies to install the malware when downloading software updates [to their] computers running ICS equipment.

These infections not only gave the attackers a beachhead in the targeted organizations’ networks but also gave them the means to mount sabotage operations.

In trying to decipher the attacks for laymen reading their chilling report, it compared the Trojan malware to Stuxnet, the computer worm that targeted Iran’s nuclear power plant’s fast-spinning centrifuges. It resulted in nearly one-fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges spinning out of control, destroying themselves as a result. The big difference is that Stuxnet was focused on a very narrow target, while the latest expansion now targets entire power grids across the country and around the world.

Explained Symantec: “Dragonfly appears to have a much broader focus, with espionage … as its current objective with sabotage as an optional capability.”

Dragonfly is Symantec’s name for the operating group behind the attacks, while other observers call it the “Energetic Bear.” Its existence has been known and tracked since at least 2011, said Symantec, and its initial targets were defense and aviation companies in the United States and Canada. But it shifted its focus to the more vulnerable energy sector in the United States in early 2013.

While using arcane language in its customer alert such as “back doors” and “watering holes” — terms familiar only to computer techies and their managers — Symantec identified seven different companies targeted by the group, one of whom downloaded the infected software to 250 of its unsuspecting customers.

Symantec is not the first to discover the group masterminding the attacks, nor the first to pin the blame on government-sponsored groups in Russia. Stuart Poole-Robb, a former MI6 (British Secret Intelligence Service) agent and founder of a security consulting firm, said:

To target a whole sector like this at the level they are doing … speaks of some form of government sanction.

These are people working with FAPSI [Russia’s Spetssvyaz intelligence service], working to support mother Russia.

CrowdStrike, a California company engaged in exposing Internet adversaries, has been tracking Dragonfly for years, and in its January update, it noted that “Energetic Bear [synonymous with Dragonfly] is an adversary group with a nexus to the Russian Federation that conducts intelligence collection operations against a variety of global [targets] with a primary focus on the energy sector.”

Symantec offers Internet security software and consulting services to help companies protect themselves from such attacks but the U.S. government has also been very busy as well. Recognizing the potential disaster inherent in such potential attacks, which could destroy the energy infrastructure of the country, the United States Cyber Command was established as a part of the United States Strategic Command in 2009 in Fort Meade, Maryland. Its mission is: “To conduct full spectrum military cyberspace operations in order to … ensure US/Allied freedom of action in cyberspace and deny the same to our adversaries.”

This is being matched by similar cyber warfare units in South Korea and Great Britain.

Neither Symantec nor CrowdStrike offered any scenarios of the possible impact such attacks might have on the United States, but fiction writers such as James Wesley Rawles (author of Survivors) and William Forstchen (author of One Second After) have carefully crafted believable scenarios following successful attacks on America’s power grid. In One Second After, after an electromagnetic pulse shuts down the electric grid, no electronic appliances work, and citizens are largely forced to live an 18th-century life — hunger and die offs of people begin quickly when food storage is compromised.

What is clear from Symantec’s warning to its customers, however, is that Russia is no friend of the United States. It fully intends to extend its present advantage through its “well-resourced” efforts to gain control of America’s electric power grid, while the U.S. government and private companies such as Symantec are playing catchup ball to keep that from happening.

Google buys Skybox for its Eye-in-the-Sky Technology

SKYBOX

SKYBOX (Photo credit: ✖ Daniel Rehn)

When Google announced on Tuesday that it would buy Skybox for $500 million, it explained that it was all about updating its Google maps application:

[Skybox’s] satellites will help keep our maps accurate with up-to-date imagery.

Over time, we also hope that Skybox’s team and technology will be able to improve Internet access and disaster relief – areas Google has long been interested in.

David Cowan, a partner in the venture capital firm Bessemer Venture Partners that has invested in Skybox, was only slightly more forthcoming:

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Glenn Greenwald Catches Establishment Flak for His Book “No Place to Hide”

 

Headquarters of the NSA at Fort Meade, Marylan...

Headquarters of the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland. Español: Instalaciones generales de la NSA en Fort Meade, Maryland. Русский: Штаб-квартира АНБ, Форт-Мид, Мэриленд, США (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, May 28, 2014:

 

Back in 1975, when Idaho Senator Frank Church was running the U.S. Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence Activities (better known as the Church Committee), he warned:

The United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables [it] to monitor the messages that go through the air….

That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left. Such is their capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter.

There would be no place to hide.

When Glenn Greenwald was looking for a title for his book, what better choice than that?

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Questions Surrounding Cyber Spy Attacks on US Businesses

Flag of the Chinese Communist Party 贛語: 中國共產黨黨...

Flag of the Chinese Communist Party (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This article was first published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, May 21, 2014:

The indictments announced on Monday by Attorney General Eric Holder of six Chinese military officers for hacking into some American companies’ computer networks raised more questions than they answered. The Chinese have been spying on America since the end of the Second World War. Why, all of sudden, out of the blue, is this announcement front page news?

According to Holder:

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Playground Photo Reignites gun Control Debate

Official logo of Oconomowoc Lake, Wisconsin

Official logo of Oconomowoc Lake, Wisconsin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Heather Karenz of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, posted a photo of her son on a playground slide on Facebook and complained that the father in the background was carrying a sidearm, Police Chief David Beguhn responded by saying that a local ordinance prohibited openly carrying firearms at the Imagination Station children’s playground.

That sparked a call to the chief from Nik Clark, president of Wisconsin Carry, a gun rights group, who informed the chief that a state law prohibited any local township from enacting gun laws more strict than the state’s.

Beguhn consulted with the city’s attorney, read the state law, realized his error and retracted his warning that the local ordinance would be enforced. In fact, he now wants the city’s Common Council to

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The President’s lies are Finally Catching up with him

OOPS I THINK THE SHINE IS OFF THE PEACH .........

(Photo credit: SS&SS)

In the latest Fox News poll 37 percent of those polled think that President Obama lies “most of the time” while another 24 percent say he just lies “some of the time.” 20 percent say he lies “only now and then” while 15 percent say he never lies. Put another way, 85 percent of those polled thinks the president lies, while

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US to give up its Control of the Internet

Last Friday the Department of Commerce announced that in October 2015 it will relinquish all remaining control over the “root” of the internet to an obscure but vital private non-profit organization. That group, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), promises to create a new structure that will keep the internet

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.