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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 11:12 AM
Number of posts: 60,364

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Latest Docs Show Financial Ties Between NSA and Internet Companies


The material provides the first evidence of a financial relationship between the tech companies and the NSA.

Latest Docs Show Financial Ties Between NSA and Internet Companies
Published on Friday, August 23, 2013 by Common Dreams
- Jon Queally, staff writer

Newly released NSA documents, along with fresh reporting from the Guardian on Friday, show that not only were large internet companies in the U.S.—including Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Facebook—aware of massive surveillance operations by the intelligence agency but were receiving payment from the government in order to cover financial costs incurred by their compliance with the measures.

As the Guardian's Ewan MacAskill reports:

The disclosure that taxpayers' money was used to cover the companies' compliance costs raises new questions over the relationship between Silicon Valley and the NSA. Since the existence of the program was first revealed by the Guardian and the Washington Post on June 6, the companies have repeatedly denied all knowledge of it and insisted they only hand over user data in response to specific legal requests from the authorities.

The reporting by MacAskill utilized internal NSA memos about the agency's 'Prism' program provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden and coupled them with recent declassified information about a 2011 ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) which ruled that aspects of certain surveillance programs were unconstitutional.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Aug 24, 2013, 07:00 AM (1 replies)

NSA abuses include Stalking ex-Girlfriends


NSA abuses include Stalking ex-Girlfriends
Posted on 08/24/2013 by Juan Cole

We have HUMINT, or human intelligence gathered from agents. We have SIGINT or signals intelligence. And now we have LOVEINT or NSA analysts occasionally reading the emails of ex-lovers. It doesn’t happen a lot, the NSA told the WSJ, but often enough that there is a word for it.

The NSA only admitted this abuse to the Senate Intelligence committee a few days ago.

The NSA has dealt with the spying scandal with the classic techniques of government manipulation of the public: Deny for as long as possible, then make few gradual small admissions, so when the big abuses come out the press views the story as stale and is unconcerned about the new scale of abuse coming out.


Yet to come: revelations that the British GCHQ, having been paid $150 million to do it, spies on Americans for the NSA & then shares the info
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Aug 24, 2013, 06:44 AM (17 replies)

9/11 trial lawyer: CIA had its finger on Guantánamo’s mute button


9/11 trial lawyer: CIA had its finger on Guantánamo’s mute button
Posted on Thursday, 08.22.13

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- Mystery solved, if there was any doubt: It was the CIA that hit the mute button in the war court earlier this year when a defense lawyer for the accused 9/11 mastermind began talking about the CIA’s secret overseas prisons, the lawyer said Monday.

The Jan. 28 episode so embarrassed Army Col. James Pohl, the judge in the Sept. 11 terror case, that he ordered the kill switch unplugged, an order the agency apparently honored because no outside entity has censored the court since.

Prosecutors had only allowed the kill-switch operator to be identified by the codename “OCA,” short for Original Classification Authority.

But Monday, attorney David Nevin, representing Khalid Sheik Mohammed, whom the CIA waterboarded 183 times, unmasked the OCA in open court while describing to the judge the slow pace of discovery in a Defense Department investigation of whether anyone else has the power to listen in on the war court, specifically their confidential attorney-client conversations.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Aug 23, 2013, 11:16 AM (0 replies)

Marines Put F-35B Flight Costs 17 Percent Lower Than OSD


Marines Put F-35B Flight Costs 17 Percent Lower Than OSD
By Colin Clark on August 21, 2013 at 4:14 PM

PENTAGON: By combing through the assumptions — some of them deeply questionable — undergirding the Defense Department’s official cost estimates for the F-35B and refining them, the Marines say the plane should cost 16.6 percent less per flight hour than the current estimate. Since the F-35B is the most expensive plane to operate, lowering these cost estimates for the Joint Strike Fighter’s Marine version would have a substantial impact on the program’s overall costs.


Anyone who has watched the Harrier or the F-35B knows that Marines pilots rely sparingly on STOVL mode. It’s only used for a limited set of tactical moves and, usually, for taking off or landing the aircraft. The great majority of the plane’s flight time — could it be as much as 80 percent? — would be spent flying without using the lift fan and STOVL.

The current CAPE estimate assumes $41,000 an hour for the F-35B a senior defense official said they will eventually bring the costs down to $30,000 per hour, with an interim figure of about $37,000. Schmidle also notes that the F-35B’s cost figures were extrapolated from the costs of the much older AV-8B Harrier.

Overall, once the F-35 replaces the three Marine aircraft — F-18, EA-6B, Harrier — it is designed to supplant the Marines will save an estimated $520 million a year in operations and maintenance costs in 2012 dollars, Schmidle says.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Aug 23, 2013, 11:06 AM (0 replies)

All Hail Hungary: Country Bravely Destroys All Monsanto GMO Corn - AGAIN


All Hail Hungary: Country Bravely Destroys All Monsanto GMO Corn - AGAIN
Christina Sarich
NationofChange / News Report
Published: Thursday 22 August 2013

More than 1000 acres found to have been planted with genetically altered maize crops have been destroyed in Hungary. Standing up to the biotech giants of Monsanto, Dow, and BASF, the country has boldly banned GMO seed. Peru has passed a ban for at least ten years on GM foods, along with Italy, Portugal, Greece, Spain and Austria with their own bans, as well as many other countries. We can only hope more will follow soon.

Hungary’s Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development, Lajos Bognar, has made sure that the genetically modified crops don’t spread – he says that ‘the crops have been ploughed under but pollen has not spread form the maize.’

When checking the fields for GM crops, Hungary found Pioneer Monsanto seed among crops. Many farmers did not even know they were using GMO seed, so the search and destroy will likely continue. It is not surprising that so much seed is being planted without farmer awareness since Monsanto’s acquisition of Seminis way back in 2005 allowed them to corner more than 40% of the seed market. They now own many seeds and seed varieties.

In late May of this year another 500 hectares (more than 1200 acres) of GM crops were burned after their discovery in Hungary. The aggressive manner in which this country is trying to derail Monsanto’s plans to overtake even organic crops with hybridization due to pollen spread by wind and pollinators including bees and butterflies is not only necessary but valiant. This isn’t the first few times that GMO crops have been destroyed. They have also been burned in previous years when found out.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Aug 23, 2013, 10:18 AM (2 replies)

Cost of F-35 stealth fighters could soon hit (Canadian) defence spending cap, report shows


The full cost of the F-35s has been pegged at $45 billion, but only $9 billion of that is for actually buying the planes. The remaining $36 billion is for development, maintenance, operating costs and disposal when the aircraft reach the end of their usefulness, expected around 2052.

Cost of F-35 stealth fighters could soon hit defence spending cap, report shows
By Lee Berthiaume, Postmedia News August 22, 2013

OTTAWA — The military’s dream of buying a fleet of F-35s appears to be in growing danger of bumping against a hard spending cap imposed by the Conservative government.

A new Defence Department report shows the anticipated cost per plane has increased since December, which combined with others factors has left very little room for error if Canada is to buy 65 of the stealth fighters for $9 billion.

That number is politically important because the government has stated it will not pay more than $9 billion to buy a replacement for Canada’s aging fleet of CF-18s.

(The full cost of the F-35s has been pegged at $45 billion, but only $9 billion of that is for actually buying the planes. The remaining $36 billion is for development, maintenance, operating costs and disposal when the aircraft reach the end of their usefulness, expected around 2052.)

unhappycamper comment: Nine billion dollars will only buy 36 F-35s.

Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Aug 23, 2013, 09:42 AM (0 replies)

Evidently Things Are Better Than The Dod Tells Us

This thread is about the sequestration of military funding.

We are hearing all the apocalyptic warnings about the lack of funding and the ubiquitous DoD whines. Generals and Admirals tell us every day that sequestration will force us to cut things we don't want to. "We've cut everything to the bone."

Not quite.


First all-military parade in five decades comes to Tacoma on Saturday
Published: August 22, 2013
By KARI PLOG — Staff writer

The Daffodil Festival is hosting Tacoma’s first all-military parade in five decades Saturday.

The inaugural Celebrating Military Service Parade will feature active-duty, reserve and retired military personnel as well as many military vehicles, according to a festival news release. The grand marshal is Col. Joe Jackson, 90, who won the Medal of Honor in 1969.

Daffodil Festival royalty will give up their seats on the queen’s float for 24 wounded or injured soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Warrior Transition Battalion.

The parade will begin at South 13th Street and Pacific Avenue at 6 p.m. Before it starts, the 56th Army Band will perform in Tollefson Plaza at 5 p.m. Affiliated organizations will be represented, such as United Way and military recruiters, the release says.


I thought the military dropped (advertizing) funding for NASCAR. Nope again (Junior was running this one last Sunday) :

If they have enough pork to spread around for things like this, perhaps we should reduce their budget by another five or ten percent.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Aug 23, 2013, 08:46 AM (5 replies)

New oil tax rules drawing complaints from industry over defining "new oil"


New oil tax rules drawing complaints from industry over defining "new oil"
Published: August 22, 2013 Updated 4 hours ago

State revenue officials struggling to implement Alaska's new oil tax law are getting complaints from the industry that their proposed new rules are both bewildering and too demanding .

While the overall effective date was Monday, the big oil tax changes, including a flat tax on oil profits, become law on Jan. 1. As the Parnell administration tries to craft rules to implement the controversial law, Democrats who fought it all along are launching fresh attacks on it.

The oil companies want the broadest possible definition of "new oil" because new production will be entitled to the biggest tax breaks. That is intended as an incentive for the companies to invest and produce oil that wouldn't have been produced otherwise.

The Parnell administration insists it's not going to give the tax breaks freely and proposes that in some cases the flow of oil be metered from individual wells to prove that new oil is being produced. But industry officials are protesting, saying such metering is impractical.
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Aug 23, 2013, 08:16 AM (0 replies)

Did Mueller Jump on the Thought Police Bandwagon?


Mueller leaves behind an FBI more focused on national security
Posted on Thursday, August 22, 2013
By Michael Doyle | McClatchy Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Robert S. Mueller III is leaving behind a different FBI from the one he joined.


“It took me a while to fully understand that the training I had, which was principally to investigate criminal acts after they had occurred, was not going to be the paradigm for the future,” Mueller said.

Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Aug 23, 2013, 08:00 AM (1 replies)

The drone that may never have to land


These long-endurance 'atmospheric satellites' could continuously fly for up to five years, monitor traffic and patrol borders.

The drone that may never have to land
August 23, 2013: 5:00 AM ET
By Clay Dillow

FORTUNE -- While much of the nascent civilian unmanned aircraft industry looks at ways to optimize small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for specific tasks such facility security, infrastructure inspection, or precision agriculture, a New Mexico-based aerospace startup is thinking bigger and longer-term.

Titan Aerospace, a one-year-old venture-backed aircraft designer, last week unveiled its Solara 50 and Solara 60 unmanned aircraft. These are two massive solar-powered, high-altitude vehicles the company plans to send aloft for weeks, months, and eventually years at a time without ever having to land.

Titan doesn't refer to these concept aircraft as "drones" or by the industry-preferred "unmanned aerial system," but instead calls them "atmospheric satellites" for their ability to remain aloft for extended periods of time just as orbital satellites do. The company hopes to provide a sub-$2 million platform that governments, private industry, and research institutions can put high into the atmosphere for extended periods of time for a fraction of the cost of a space satellite.

The idea is that an atmospheric satellite can conduct most of the same operations as an orbital one: atmospheric observation and weather monitoring, communications relay, oceanographic research, and earth imaging. Other operations are impractical for space satellites, such as border security, maritime traffic monitoring and anti-piracy operations, disaster response, or agricultural observation. And with continuous flight time of up to five years, Solara's aircraft would have endurance on par with many small satellites, making them a more attractive option for a range of these applications (not to mention that if a sensor or instrument goes down, you can land and relaunch).
Posted by unhappycamper | Fri Aug 23, 2013, 07:40 AM (2 replies)
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