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James Bamford: Evidence points to another Snowden at the NSA


Commentary: Evidence points to another Snowden at the NSA
Wed Aug 24, 2016 3:23am EDT
By James Bamford


Now, in the latest twist, hacking tools themselves, likely stolen from the National Security Agency, are on the digital auction block. Once again, the usual suspects start with Russia – though there seems little evidence backing up the accusation.


A more logical explanation could also be insider theft. If that’s the case, it’s one more reason to question the usefulness of an agency that secretly collects private information on millions of Americans but can’t keep its most valuable data from being stolen, or as it appears in this case, being used against us.


Rather than the NSA hacking tools being snatched as a result of a sophisticated cyber operation by Russia or some other nation, it seems more likely that an employee stole them.


Snowden’s leaks served a public good. He alerted Americans to illegal eavesdropping on their telephone records and other privacy violations, and Congress changed the law as a result. The DNC leaks exposed corrupt policies within the Democratic Party.

But we now have entered a period many have warned about, when NSA’s cyber weapons could be stolen like loose nukes and used against us. It opens the door to criminal hackers, cyber anarchists and hostile foreign governments that can use the tools to gain access to thousands of computers in order to steal data, plant malware and cause chaos.

It’s one more reason why NSA may prove to be one of Washington’s greatest liabilities rather than assets.

(James Bamford is the author of “The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America.” He is a columnist for Foreign Policy magazine.)

Gov't to use state funds for cleanup of heavily contaminated Fukushima areas


Gov't to use state funds for cleanup of heavily contaminated Fukushima areas
NATIONAL AUG. 20, 2016 - 04:00PM JST ( 19 )

TOKYO - The Japanese government plans to use state funds for radiation cleanup activities in evacuation areas most seriously contaminated by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, government sources said Friday.

It is the first government plan to decontaminate so-called difficult-to-return zones, which include a large portion of the two towns hosting the crippled nuclear complex and some areas of other nearby municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture.

The move is intended to expedite the cleanup process, but may draw criticism from the public because it will effectively reduce the financial burden for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. over one of the world’s worst nuclear crises.


Privatize the profits, socialize the costs.

China strongly warns Japan not to send SDF to South China Sea

Source: Japan Today

China strongly warned a high-level Japanese official around late June that Tokyo should not send its Self-Defense Forces to join U.S. operations that test the freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea, diplomatic sources said Saturday.

Japan will “cross a red line” if SDF vessels take part in U.S. freedom of navigation operations, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua told the Japanese official, the sources said, adding that the ambassador even hinted at military action if Japan crosses the line.


According to the sources, Cheng told the high-level Japanese official in Tokyo that Japan should not take part in a “joint military action with U.S. forces that is aimed at excluding China in the South China Sea.”

He also said China “will not concede on sovereignty issues and is not afraid of military provocations.”


Read more: http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/china-strongly-warns-japan-not-to-send-sdf-to-south-china-sea

San Diego to Spray in South Park for Mosquito That Can Carry Zika Virus

Source: NBC 7 San Diego

County vector officials began placing door hangers on about 100 homes, advising residents of plans to begin spraying some time during the day on Friday.

San Diego County officials will be spraying a two-block area of South Park after discovering the larvae from a mosquito known to be a carrier of the Zika virus, NBC 7 has learned.

County vector officials went door to door Thursday notifying residents that the spraying will take place Friday morning. The area in question is between 31st and 32nd streets and Grape and Elm streets.

NBC 7 has learned that a person who lives in South Park recently traveled abroad and did not contract the mosquito borne illness in San Diego. A county spokesperson says the case in South Park could turn out to be any number of mosquito borne illnesses, but suspect Zika or Dengue virus, because of the discovery of the Aedes larvae.

County officials want to make it clear, the Aedes larvae did not test positive for any disease, nor were any adult mosquitoes trapped nearby.

A county spokesperson says vector officials look for Aedes larvae and adult mosquitoes each time a suspected case is identified. This is the first time the county has found Aedes larvae close to a suspected case.


Read more: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/health/San-Diego-Zika-Mosquito-Spraying--390591921.html

Homer's nuclear incompetence has North Korea banning 'The Simpsons'

Source: UPI

Homer Simpson's days may be numbered in North Korea.

The animated comedy The Simpsons is one of many foreign cartoons watched illegally in the country. But a source in North Pyongan province said the Kim Jong Un regime recently imposed a ban on U.S. and South Korean animations, Radio Free Asia reported.

The cartoons, like other forms of outside media, enter the country on flash drives or memory cards, the source said.

Cartoons like The Simpsons are included on the flash drives along with other films, but according to the source, the animated series drew the ire of North Korean authorities because one episode deals with damages from radiation exposure that occur in the course of Pyongyang's nuclear development.


Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2016/08/18/Homers-nuclear-incompetence-has-North-Korea-banning-The-Simpsons/2841471537725/

China launches 'hack-proof' quantum communications satellite

Source: Reuters

China on Tuesday launched the world's first quantum satellite, which will help it establish "hack-proof" communications between space and the ground, state media said, the latest advance in an ambitious space programme.

The programme is a priority as Xi Jinping, the president, has urged China to establish itself as a space power, and apart from its civilian ambitions, it has tested anti-satellite missiles.

The Quantum Experiments at Space Scale, or QUESS, satellite, was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the remote northwestern province of Gansu in the early hours of Tuesday, the official Xinhua news agency said.

"In its two-year mission, QUESS is designed to establish 'hack-proof' quantum communications by transmitting uncrackable keys from space to the ground," it said.


Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/16/china-launches-hack-proof-quantum-communications-satellite/

An Alternative Form of Mental Health Care Gains a Foothold


An Alternative Form of Mental Health Care Gains a Foothold
AUG. 8, 2016

Caroline White at the office of the Hearing Voices Network in Holyoke, Mass. The program, which relies on members supporting one another, does not use the words “patient” or “treatment.” Ms. White, who hears voices in her head, said psychiatric therapy had made her feel “hopeless, because the drugs just made me feel worse.”

HOLYOKE, Mass. — Some of the voices inside Caroline White’s head have been a lifelong comfort, as protective as a favorite aunt. It was the others — “you’re nothing, they’re out to get you, to kill you” — that led her down a rabbit hole of failed treatments and over a decade of hospitalizations, therapy and medications, all aimed at silencing those internal threats.

At a support group here for so-called voice-hearers, however, she tried something radically different. She allowed other members of the group to address the voice, directly:


At a time when Congress is debating measures to extend the reach of mainstream psychiatry — particularly to the severely psychotic, who often end up in prison or homeless — an alternative kind of mental health care is taking root that is very much anti-mainstream. It is largely nonmedical, focused on holistic recovery rather than symptom treatment, and increasingly accessible through an assortment of in-home services, residential centers and groups like the voices network Ms. White turned to, in which members help one another understand each voice, as a metaphor, rather than try to extinguish it.


Alternative care appears to be here to stay, however. Private donations for such programs have topped $5 million, according to Virgil Stucker, the executive director of CooperRiis, a residential treatment community in North Carolina. A recently formed nonprofit, the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, has made several grants, including $160,000 to start an Open Dialogue program at Emory University and $250,000 to study the effect of HVN groups on attendees, according to Gina Nikkel, the president and CEO of the foundation. Both programs have a long track record in Europe.


In this country, there is very little collaboration. Ms. White runs a hearing voices group in the forensic psychiatry unit of a hospital in Springfield, Mass., and there is a scattering of other medical clinics that work with voices groups. But the culture gap between alternative and mainstream approaches to psychosis and other mental problem remains deep, and most psychiatrists and insurers will need to see some evidence before forming partnerships. Last month, the influential journal Psychiatric Services published the first study of the Open Dialogue program in the United States, led by Dr. Gordon and Dr. Douglas Ziedonis of the University of Massachusetts.

The results are encouraging: Nine of 14 young men and women enrolled in the program for a year after a psychotic episode were still in school or working. Four are doing well without medication; the others started or continued on anti-psychosis drugs. Insurance covered about a quarter of the overall costs.


Hackers show how they tricked a Tesla into hitting objects in its path


Hackers show how they tricked a Tesla into hitting objects in its path

Paul Szoldra
Aug. 8, 2016, 3:23 PM

LAS VEGAS — A group of researchers presenting at last week's Def Con hacker conference showed how they were able to overwhelm or deceive Tesla's sophisticated sensors to make a car hit an object it would normally detect in its path.


The group, which consisted of Chen Yan, a PhD student at Zhejiang University, Jianhao Liu, a senior security consultant at Qihoo 360, and Wenyuan Xu, a professor at Zhejiang University and The University of South Carolina, presented a variety of new findings. They discovered methods for "quieting" sensors to diminish or hide obstacles in a car's path, "spoofing" them to make an object appear farther or closer than it actually is, and jamming, which, Yan said, renders the sensor useless as it's "overwhelmed by noise."


Much of their presentation focused on the Tesla Model S, but they also successfully jammed sensors on cars from Audi, Volkswagen, and Ford.


They also used off-the-shelf lasers to defeat the onboard cameras, and, in one of the most low-tech demonstrations, they wrapped objects up in cheap black foam that rendered them invisible to the car's sensors.

"(It was the) same effect as jamming," said Yan. He told Business Insider after the talk that Tesla reacted positively when they disclosed their research, and it was researching ways to mitigate these types of attacks.

"They appreciated our work and are looking into this issue," he said.

The full presentation of their findings is available at Def Con's website.

Dog sperm quality decline is blamed on pet food chemicals

Source: New Scientist

Sperm quality in dogs has fallen rapidly over the past three decades, a trend which could help explain the purported decline in human fertility.

The finding has highlighted a potential link between environmental contaminants and fertility – after scientists discovered chemicals which had a detrimental effect on sperm function in some commercially available pet foods.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham believe that the study could help explain the reported significant decline in human semen quality.


Sperm motility declined by 2.5 per cent per year between 1988 and 1998, and then at a rate of 1.2 per cent per year from 2002 to 2014.

The researchers also found that male pups fathered by the stud dogs with declining semen quality were more prone to cryptorchidism – a condition in which the testes fail to correctly descend into the scrotum.


He said that the study “begs the question” whether a similar effect could be observed in human male fertility.


Journal reference: Scientific Reports, doi: 10.1038/srep31281

Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2100408-dog-sperm-quality-decline-is-blamed-on-pet-food-chemicals/

Technician shortage in China 'threatens nuclear plant safety'


Technician shortage in China ‘threatens nuclear plant safety’

Cover-up of a mishap in a nuclear power plant west of Hong Kong triggers concerns over a shortage of nuclear technicians, experts say

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 August, 2016, 11:52pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 August, 2016, 12:23am
Stephen Chen

A recently discovered cover-up of a mishap in a nuclear power plant about 200km west of Hong Kong has triggered concerns over a shortage of nuclear technicians that may threaten the safety of the plants, industry insiders said.


But the shortage of nuclear professionals may push plant operators to cover up incidents because imposing disciplinary action on professionals would mean means there would be fewer workers to maintain operations.


A report by China Business News said the Yangjiang incident revealed the severity of China’s nuclear labour shortage and how it threatened the safety of nuclear reactors.

Professor Ai Desheng, a nuclear expert at Tsinghua University, was quoted by the report as saying that China would need 30,000 to 40,000 additional nuclear professionals within the next decade, but the nation could only produce a few hundred nuclear power graduates each year.


To make matters worse, many experienced operators had been relocated to construction sites of new power plants, putting existing facilities like Daya Bay and Yangjiang under increasing pressure because they did not have enough senior operators. This would severely undermine the safety of nuclear energy in China, some experts warned.

Nuclear technicians worked in a restricted environment, sometimes under high pressure, with incomes that were not comparable with technical jobs in new industries such as internet companies. Ordinary plant operator took home between 8,000 to 11,000 yuan (HK$9,300 - HK$12,800) per month.

Some nuclear operators told China Business News that they were considering leaving the industry due to high work pressure and too little time to spend with their families.


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