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Member since: Fri Nov 6, 2015, 07:20 AM
Number of posts: 2,352

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So much for Bio-Metrics! Passport Security: America is to tighten its visa-waiver programme

..Biometric passports are not fail-safe. They still depend on the vigilance of those checking them and well-maintained databases. And they are not impossible to counterfeit. Malaysia was one of the first countries to introduce them, yet two passengers on flight MH370, which went missing a year ago and has never been recovered, boarded the plane with stolen European passports, one of which contained biometric information. (No one has proved that the people travelling on the pilfered documents had anything to do with the disappearance of the plane.) And not all biometric technologies seem equal: chips that contain information about the holder’s iris, and which are then checked by an electronic reader at immigration, are better bets than those using fingerprint technology (as the one on the Malaysian plane did). Although, according to Bloomberg, even those are possible to circumvent:

‘Iris hacking, though more difficult, can be done by scanning the iris and printing it on a glass eye,′ said Hector Hoyos, chief executive officer of New York-based Hoyos Labs, which develops authentication technology. ‘In China, there are mail-order services that can replicate a person’s print or iris and courier it back to the purchaser in 48 hours. It really is a brave new world.′

Still, requiring biometric passports seems a sensible additional layer of security. It is important not to overreact to the terrorist threat; countries should not cut themselves off from the outside world unnecessarily. Things that are easy and effective, though, should be welcomed.

more at link http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2015/12/sensible-security

Tokyo's solution to rogue drones? Drones with nets


The only thing that stops a bad guy with a drone, is a good guy with a drone.

Law enforcement agencies the world over are worried about the power of drones, and how nefarious types could use them for evil. Tokyo has decided that there's only one thing to be done about the problem, which is to form an anti-drone squad that'll apprehend rogue fliers in the air. Rather than using a dragnet on the ground, the anti-drone drone will use an actual net* to scoop up suspects and carry them away to safety. That may sound like it's being done for the LOLs, but it's deadly serious -- officers found a drone carrying radioactive material on the roof of the country's prime minister back in April.

If our eyes are to be believed, it looks as if the police are using a DJI Spreading Wings 900 with a large 3 x 2 meter square of net tied to its feet. When a rogue drone is spotted in the air, the police unit will fly overhead, scooping up the smaller craft and dragging it away to safety. It's an elegant solution, and one that'll be tested by a single drone this month, with a full fleet of 10 guarding significant government buildings going into operation next February.

It's not the first country to look into dealing with the potential threats that UAVs pose since they can get about pretty much anywhere. Earlier this year, France launched its own anti-drone drone that chases down and triangulates the identity and location of the pilot, directing law enforcement officers straight to 'em. Man, just when there's a whole host of desirable drones hitting the market, the feds start building ways to snatch 'em away from you.

*Wait, a net in the sky is called a... SkyNet, right? Viene Tormenta!

Josh Uretsky: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know


The national data director for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has been fired after improperly accessing proprietary data from the Hillary Clinton campaign in a Democratic National Committee system, the New York Times reports. The staffer was identified as Josh Uretsky by Bloomberg Politics. The information that was improperly accessed included confidential voter information added to a Democratic party database by Clinton’s campaign, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the breach.

Here’s what you need to know about Uretsky and the allegations against the Sanders campaign:

1. The DNC Has Temporarily Blocked the Sanders Campaign From Viewing Any Voter Data
(since lifted under pending lawsuit threat)

...The DNC is in charge of maintaing a master voter list, which it rents to national and state campaigns. They can then add their own proprietary information obtained by field workers and volunteers, according to the Post.

“Firewalls are supposed to prevent campaigns from viewing data gathered by their rivals,” the Post writes.

The New York Times reports that the database includes information from voters nationwide and is used by campaigns to set strategy.

2. The Sanders Campaign & the DNC Blamed a Software Vendor for a Glitch That Allowed Access to the Data

The Sanders campaign said in a statement that the firewall was down because of a glitch in the system, which is run by a vendor for the DNC, NGP VAN. Campaign spokesman Michael Briggs said:

On more than one occasion, the vendor has dropped the firewall between the data of different Democratic campaigns. Our campaign months ago alerted the DNC to the fact that campaign data was being made available to other campaigns. At that time our campaign did not run to the media, relying instead on assurances from the vendor.

Unfortunately, yesterday, the vendor once again dropped the firewall between the campaigns for some data,After discussion with the DNC, it became clear that one of our staffers accessed some modeling data from another campaign. That behavior is unacceptable and that staffer was immediately fired.

“The DNC places a high priority on maintaining the security of our system and protecting the data on it,” said its communications director, Luis Miranda, in a statement. “We are working with our campaigns and the vendor to have full clarity on the extent of the breach, ensure that this isolated incident does not happen again, and to enable our campaigns to continue engaging voters on the issues that matter most to them and their families.”

3. Uretsky Was Hired By the Sanders Campaign in September

Uretsky, 39, was hired by the Sanders campaign in September, according to his LinkedIn profile. He writes that his role is to provide “support administer VAN for campaign teams,” and to “provide data driven insight and strategy.” While Uretsky was the only staffer fired, (two more have since been "suspended" the New York Times reports that four user accounts from the Sanders campaign ran searches in the system while the firewall blocking access to Clinton’s data was down.

Uretsky, of Philadelphia, could not immediately be reached for comment.

4. He Has Been Involved in Politics for Several Years

Uretsky has been involved in Democratic politics for several years, his LinkedIn profile shows. He worked as a staffer on Patrick Murphy’s Congressional campaign in 2006. From 2007 to 2008 he was a “grassroots leader for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign in Philadelphia,” serving as a co-chair of Philadelphia for Obama. He has also worked on local Pennsylvania campaigns, and was the Pennsylvania Data and Targeting Manager for America Votes from 2011 until he was hired by the Sanders campaign.

“Prepared and presented data driven analysis of partisan political opportunities and needs using SQL, VAN, GIS and other tools. Determined key regions for electoral program and competitive districts,” he wrote of his role with America Votes. “Managed voter file access for partner organizations and their consultants including administration, security, training and technical assistance. Managed deputy staff.”

5. He Graduated from Cal-Berkeley & Has Also Worked as a Computer Programmer

Point #4 is the most troubling...could he have been a trouble-maker, working for DNC/HRC?

‘Member of the 1%’ shocks Reddit: ‘I’m voting for Bernie Sanders. Here’s why’


A self-described member of the 1 percent shocked the Reddit community on Wednesday with an explanation of why he was voting for the presidential candidate who has made higher taxes for the wealthy a tenet of his campaign.

In a wildly popular Reddit post, a user named thunderd11 announced: “I’m a member of the 1% and I’m voting for Bernie Sanders.”

The user who described himself as a “white male in my 30s” said that he grew up “fairly poor,” and then started a successful consulting firm after nearly a decade in the military, earning him “membership in the 1% by pretty much any definition of the phrase.”

He argued that Sanders’ plan to raise taxes on the wealthy was the right way to address income inequality.

“After all the write offs, business expenses, mortgage interest deductions etc… My Taxable Income is less than half of my Gross Income,” the 1 percenter noted. “Add in my capital gains earnings at their super low tax rate even though my gross income is well over the top tax bracket my effective tax rate is usually around 17-18% every year and could actually be quite a bit lower if I put actual effort into (legal) tax avoidance strategies.”

“This gives me a slightly lower effective tax rate than my housekeeper.”

And according to the business owner, returning to the higher a 90 percent rate would take his effective tax rate to “33% instead of an effective 18%.”

“So please don’t let the ‘91% top tax bracket’ fool you. The rich will still be PLENTY rich. My standard of living will change exactly 0%,” he insisted. “I’ll still drive an expensive car and go on nice vacations and pay my employees and buy the same things I always bought.”

Agreeing with Sanders on the issue of income inequality, he predicted that doubling the minimum wage would be “wonderful for business.”

“Feel free to look up all the studies of how very little product prices would have to increase to support doubling the minimum wage and still maintain profit margins. It’s laughable,” he wrote. “I pay every one of my employees above market rates cutting into my own profit margins and here’s the result. I have a cult following.”


Glowing ABC report on Bernie!

this appeared before the debate


Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders: The Two Big Phenomena of This Election By Matthew Dowd

... the real story of that (Democratic nomination) race is the support and energy surrounding Sanders.

We all have talked about Trump ad infinitum and the anti-establishment support he is getting among the GOP, but we haven't focused enough on Sanders and the anti-establishment grassroots he has highlighted. Let us review a few key points:

1) Sanders is probably the most authentic candidate in the entire race. He has fought for his issues for years. His thoughts, words and actions are in total alignment. And though you might disagree with his prescription, he is genuine in his concern for the poor and what has happened to the middle class in America the last thirty years.

2) He has by far more grassroots/small dollar contributors than any other candidate that has run for president at this point. This week Sanders' campaign announced that it has more than two million contributions with an average contribution of around $30. Truly impressive.

3) Though not covered with the same intensity or time, the crowds that Sanders has gathered around the country are nearly as big and are definitely as energetic as followers of Trump. Though coming from a totally different side of populism as Trump, Sanders "people" power is just as impressive.

4) When you look at Sanders' percentage in the national polls and what that represents among Democrats (which is a larger pool than GOP voters), he actually has more raw support than Trump. In fact, in polls done this past fall, Sanders actually bested Trump by a larger margin than Clinton did in a general election.

5) Though Clinton is heavily favored and will likely win the nomination, Sanders has a better chance of being elected president than at least 10 of the Republicans running. There are many in the GOP race who have no real chance of winning any single caucus or primary state. Right now, Sanders is not that far behind in Iowa, and today looks like he will win the Democratic primary in New Hampshire. And none of that can be said for Bush, Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, or any of the others, except for Trump.

As we head to the Democratic debate in the very near future, we should give consideration to the enthusiasm and atmosphere around not only Trump, but the movement Sanders has touched in America as well. Both these candidates have shown, in very different ways, the frustration and anger at our status quo politics and the party establishment in both parties. There are many in America who are tired of the current duopoly...

I think it's too late for sacrifice--the great God of Public Opinion will not be appeased so easily

and since Debbie and Hillary are like Siamese twins, it would be futile to try to just 'sacrifice" the one. The other would be mortally wounded, as well.

No, it's not a pretty situation for Hillary, even if she had nothing to do with it. And Bill cannot save her, Bernie sure won't stretch out a helping hand any more, and who else does she have to depend upon? Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago fiasco staring indictment down? Warren Buffett?--he's not that kind of "friend". Blankfein, Summers, Geithner, Soros?

No, the 1% will not be riding to the rescue. Nor will the 99%, whose muddled opinions are not that muddled when it comes to ethics. The foreigners will not touch it, either.

I predict a huge increase in the Unfavorable ratings! The rest will fall out as it may. Debbie and Hillary are both rock-hard stubborn, so they will do it the most painful way possible, the way sure to leave indelible marks, on them and on public opinion.

Very clever of Obama to duck out to Hawaii...out of the crossfire!

Weekend Economists Celebrate the Season! December 18-20, 2015

And boy, do we have lots to celebrate!

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates .25% and didn't crash the global economy.
Snow is accumulating in the West and North and Rockies again.
And the DNC has just given Bernie the opportunity of a lifetime for a career firebrand.

So, lower the lights, pour the drinks, nibble some cheese and crackers, and enjoy!

This tune was used to great effect in the first Home Alone flick which got Macaulay Culkin his phenomenal stardom.

Then, there's that other classic Xmas flick: Die Hard! which brought Brit actor Alan Rickman to the attention of millions of fan girls (to the regret of Bruce Willis, no doubt).

And the piece de resistance, the WWII Xmas nostalgia of Monuments Men:

So, Bernie's not a REAL Democrat--that's the underlying complaint

see http://www.democraticunderground.com/1251911030#post1

The Shrillaries (a lovely title that I've stolen, thank you, Creator of this perfectly descriptive nickname!) are so down on Bernie because:

he's not a real Democrat

(gasps of shock and dismay)

I think the BEST way to determine which party a man belongs to is to look at how the People perceive him. And from everything I've seen, Bernie's more of a Democrat (meaning more support from People and from Democrats as a subset of the People) than Hillary ever was or will be. Especially going forward from this point. Hillary's chosen woman, Debbie Wasserman Schulz, has betrayed the very principles that underlie the Democratic Party's reason for existing.

I can see Hillary being forced to do a Lieberman. Maybe the two of them can get together and form their own American Likud Party...

The first Rule of Holes: When you find yourself standing in a hole, stop digging!

I have to wonder how many mental breaks will follow when the Hillary bunch are forced to admit that they have a loser on their hands.

Their over-the-top poisoning of the DU well will probably destroy this website, as well.

Of course, they could all be bad-tempered trolls, giving vent to their dark sides for pay, but I don't think so. Even trolls wouldn't behave like some of those with their fly-swatting GIFs and terrorist alerts and bans and tombstonings.

I don't want to give anyone the impression that I actually care what happens to such people--they have lost all semblance of humanity in my eyes, not to mention rationality and brother or sisterhood. But I do care about the rest of us, captives to this theater of the absurd.

At least we have each other, and a great leader to take us out of this morass into a rebirth of the America we would love to live in. Feel the Bern!

Bernie Sanders Isn't Too Impressed By The Historic Climate Agreement


Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Saturday criticized the global climate change accord adopted after two weeks of negotiations among diplomats in Paris, saying the agreement goes "nowhere near far enough."

The landmark 31-page agreement includes a pledge to curb climate change by reducing carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, calling on countries to support each other in adapting to the environmental challenges resulting from climate change, such as devastating droughts and rising sea levels.

Sanders said he didn't think the accord went far enough to demand action from those countries to lower carbon emissions.

"While this is a step forward it goes nowhere near far enough. The planet is in crisis. We need bold action in the very near future and this does not provide that,” Sanders said in the statement...

he's being polite and diplomatic. this agreement goes nowhere, full stop. it means nothing, but there's lots more of it at the link
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