Category Archives: Science & technology

Number affected by hack soars to 18M, agency head says nobody ‘personally responsible’

responsible

Fox News: Fox News has learned that the number of victims of a pair of massive cyberattacks on U.S. government personnel files has soared to at least 18 million — but the head of the hacked Office of Personnel Management refuses to blame anyone in her agency.

Archuleta: No one is to blame, of course!

Archuleta: No one is to blame, of course!

“I don’t believe anyone is personally responsible,” OPM Director Katherine Archuleta said Tuesday.

The statement came during tense Capitol Hill testimony on a breach that seems to be growing wider by the day. Archuleta, who faced tough questioning at a House hearing last week, likewise faced angry senators on Tuesday before a Senate appropriations subcommittee.

Grilled on whether anyone takes responsibility, Archuleta said only the perpetrators should be blamed — she said current failures result from decades of meager investment in security systems, but said changes are being made and in fact helped detect the latest breaches.

Still, the assurances are unlikely to ease concerns on Capitol Hill and among those who may have been affected. The web has expanded to include not just current and former government workers, but also those who may have applied for a government job. 

The Office of Personnel Management initially estimated about 4 million current and former government workers were affected by one of the hacks. But Fox News is told by multiple sources that lawmakers have been informed the number will grow to at least 18 million — and could, according to one source, soar to as high as 30 million.

During the Senate committee hearing on Tuesday, Archuleta testified that a second hack indeed exposed more individuals, though she said its “scope” and “impact” have not yet been determined. 

She said this separate incident has affected files related to background investigations for “current, former and prospective government employees.” Amid concerns that those affected have been left in the dark, Archuleta said the government would be notifying those whose information may have been compromised “as soon as practicable.” 

Meanwhile, she said a hacker also gained access to the agency’s records with a credential used by a federal contractor. Archuleta told the Senate hearing on Tuesday that an “adversary” somehow obtained a user credential used by KeyPoint Government Solutions, a contractor based in Colorado. She didn’t say specifically when that occurred or if it was related to the two cyberbreaches being discussed.

It was reported earlier that officials, in the second hack, were concerned information may have been stolen from a document known as Standard Form 86, which requires applicants to fill out deeply personal information about mental illnesses, drug and alcohol use, past arrests and bankruptcies. They also require the listing of contacts and relatives, potentially exposing any foreign relatives of U.S. intelligence employees to coercion. Both the applicant’s Social Security number and that of his or her cohabitant is required.

Some officials have implicated China in at least one of the breaches. The new revelations and Tuesday’s hearing come during an awkwardly timed U.S.-China economic dialogue in Washington, where Secretary of State John Kerry is participating.

There are about 2.6 million executive branch civilians, so the majority of the records exposed relate to former employees. Contractor information also has been stolen, officials have said.

Earlier, a major union said it believes the hackers stole Social Security numbers, military records and veterans’ status information, addresses, birth dates, job and pay histories; health insurance, life insurance and pension information; and age, gender and race data.

DCG

New research finds Earth’s core to be mostly sulphur, aka brimstone

Did you know that Jesus preached three times more about Hell than Heaven?

And yet a 2009 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that only 59% of Americans believe in hell, compared with 74% who believe in heaven. That same year, a Barna poll found that 6 out of 10 American Christians did not believe that Satan is real.

Now, new research by an international team of scientists found that our Earth’s core is mainly composed of sulfur, which is a modern word for what used to be called brimstone. Perhaps there is truth in old myths about the underworld or hell reeking of fire and brimstone.

Inside Earth

Space Daily reports, June 22, 2015, that new research published in the peer-reviewed journal, Geochemical Perspectives Letters, shows Earth’s core contains 90% of our planet’s sulfur, estimated to be up to 8.5 x 1018 tons, which is about 10 times the amount of sulfur in the rest of the Earth.

Lead researcher Dr. Paul Savage (Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University, UK) said, “Scientists have suspected that there is sulphur in the core for some time, but this is the first time we have solid geochemical evidence to support the idea.”

For a long time it has been known that the Earth’s core is too light to be made only of iron and nickel, and it was assumed that the core contained other lighter elements, such as sulphur, silicon, oxygen and carbon. However, the Earth’s core begins 2900 km (or 1802 miles) beneath our feet, so it is impossible to investigate directly.

But the international group of researchers were able to develop indirect geochemical methods to show core composition.

Scientists believe that our Moon was formed by a cataclysmic event in the distant past when Earth collided with a large, planet-sized body, tearing off a part which became our Moon. Researchers believe that the impact of the collision melted the Earth’s mantle, allowing a sulfur-rich liquid to form in Earth’s mantle, the vast middle layer between the core and the crust. Some of the sulfurous liquid was probably lost into space, but some remained and sank back into the core.

Because of variability in mantle composition, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions from measuring sulfur directly, so the researchers instead analysed copper from the Earth’s mantle and crust because copper is often bound to sulfur.

The research’s senior author Professor Frederic Moynier (Institut de Physique du Globe, Paris) explains: “We chose copper, because it is a chalcophile element, which means it prefers to be in sulphide-rich material – so is a good element to trace the fate of sulphur on Earth. Generally, where there is copper, there is sulphur; copper gives us a proxy measurement for sulphur.”

Dr. Savage said, “This study is the first to show clear geochemical evidence that a sulphide liquid must have separated from the mantle early on in Earth’s history – which most likely entered the core. We estimate that the quantity of sulphur in the core is vast, around 8.5 x 1018 tonnes, which to give an idea of scale, is around 10% of the mass of the Moon. In addition, the work adds weight to the theory that the Moon was formed via a collision between the Earth and another body. In a way, we can also say that we have life imitating art. For millennia, tales have been told of the underworld being awash with fire and brimstone. Now at least, we can be sure of the brimstone.

See also “Archeologists find evidence of the obliteration of Sodom-Gomorrah.”

~Éowyn

UK Telegraph: Pope Francis is delusional about climate change

The Telegraph is the online version of the award-winning UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph, founded in 1855.

In an op/ed on June 20, 2015, Telegraph columnist Christopher Booker calls Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change symptomatic of the pope living “in a sad world of make-believe.”

In the encyclical, Francis asserts that climate change — the new PC term for global warming — is primarily man-made and a threat to the world, and calls for a “new” supranational “global authority” to combat climate change and redistribute wealth to the poorer countries. Obama has praised the encyclical.

pope-between-pos-lurch

Booker writes:

…the last desperate throw by the EU and the US to achieve a world agreement next December to “halt climate change” is not going to succeed, not just because the “science” on which it is based is so increasingly questionable, but because the emerging powers of the East, led by India and China, are simply not prepared to go along with it. If the West wishes to commit economic suicide, so be it. In their [the East’s] own national interest, they are not willing to follow.

In fact, what we are seeing here is a geopolitical shift of huge proportions.So lost is the West in its bubbles of self-deceiving fantasy that the hegemony it so long exercised over the rest of the world is passing to the world outside it, to India and China, even, in its own way, to Russia….

How forlorn in light of all this looks that would-be well-meaning 300-page document in which the Pope, under the spell of his chief scientific adviser, a fanatical German climate activist called Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, calls for an end to use of the very fossil fuels which keep the Vatican’s own lights on. In asking us to pray for that global climate treaty, Pope Francis solemnly trots out all those familiar plaints about “melting polar ice caps”, “rising sea levels”, unprecedented droughts, “extreme weather events” and the rest of that greenie litany which has no basis in honest science whatever.

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

Meanwhile, the pope is so hellbent on man-made climate change global warming that a skeptic was disinvited from a climate change summit at the Vatican.

As reported by The Washington Post on June 20, 2015, Frenchman Philippe de Larminat, who authored a book arguing that solar activity — not greenhouse gases — was driving global warming, had sought a spot at a climate summit in April sponsored by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Nobel laureates would be there. So would U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. economist Jeffrey Sachs and others calling for dramatic steps to curb carbon emissions.

Phillipe-de-Larminat

After securing a high-level meeting at the Vatican, de Larminat was told that, space permitting, he could join. He bought a plane ticket from Paris to Rome. But five days before the April 28 summit, de Larminat said he received an e-mail saying there was no space left. It came after other scientists — as well as the powerful Vatican bureaucrat in charge of the academy — insisted he had no business being there. “They did not want to hear an off note,” de Larminat said.

The scientific method is about empiricism: all truth claims depend on the testimony of factual, real-world evidence. If Pope Francis and man-made climate change proponents really believe they have science on their side, they would be confident, instead of take the cowardly road by silencing dissenters via ostracism.

See also:

~Éowyn

Documents challenge Clinton claim no classified intel on personal emails

Hillary Clinton what difference does it make

Fox News: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used her personal email account to handle high level negotiations in 2011 for a no-fly zone to help topple Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, according to a series of emails obtained by Fox News, challenging her claim the private server did not hold classified information.

The emails, linked here, conflict with Clinton’s statement that she did not put national security at risk by using a personal account.

“I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material,” Clinton, now a candidate for president, told reporters in March. “I’m certainly well-aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.”

That claim was hard to test because emails released by the State Department are heavily blacked out. But an email chain from March 23, 2011 — with virtually no redactions — shows a message for senior administration staff including then Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough, then-Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Michele Flournoy among others.  It goes point by point, explaining what Turkey, France and Britain will likely accept in the deal.

“I think the information in the email is clearly classified. If I were engaged in the negotiation on that subject reporting back to Washington, my reporting cable would be classified,” former UN Ambassador and Fox News contributor John Bolton said after reading the un-redacted emails.

“They’re dealing with the possible U.S. military operation, sensitive negotiations among NATO partners, talking about U.S. objectives and political arrangements and possible objections to the deal from key partners so all of these at secretary of state level is extraordinarily sensitive.”

The email chain also contains exchanges with Clinton aide Jake Sullivan who writes “I will forward you (Clinton) the Turkish proposal momentarily.”  Clinton responds “I’m worried that FR (France) and/or the UK know about the Turks idea and want to derail it.”

As the negotiations for a no-fly zone continue, Sullivan notifies Clinton that then-deputy chief of mission Christopher Stevens, who was later killed in the 2012 Benghazi attack, was moving into eastern Libya.

“At that time of course, the country was in chaos, so the situation was very dangerous. His mission was quite sensitive to link up to the opposition,” Bolton said.  “And just having that information floating around …would obviously expose Stevens and others to great peril.”

While the first email in the chain is marked “UNCLASSIFIED,” based on his experience as ambassador to the UN, Bolton said he suspects a lot of intelligence was pushed out as unclassified to accommodate her separate, private system.

“It’s not simply the effect on Secretary Clinton’s own email. It’s pervasive throughout the higher levels of the department, which simply magnifies the risk.” Bolton added.

DCG

This Boeing Dreamliner takeoff is pretty cool!

I’m not a big fan of flying – AT ALL. Yet I can truly appreciate this fine piece of machinery produced by Boeing. This is a promo video for the Paris Air Show coming up soon.

What amazing technology to produce a beast that can maneuver with such finesse! To read more about the Boeing Dreamliner, go here.

DCG

Government bureaucracy: Labor Department employee surfed porn on his government computer for hours every day and it took 15 WEEKS to fire him

messed up

Daily Mail: A U.S. Department of Labor employee admitted last that he downloaded pornography on his government computer every day for months while on the job, but it took the cabinet-level agency 15 weeks to fire him. Documents obtained by Daily Mail Online through a Freedom Of Information Act request show that the unnamed staffer was terminated in December, nearly four months after a co-worker blew the whistle on him with a formal complaint.

Investigators with the agency’s Office of Inspector General seized his hard drive and learned he had ‘visited pornographic sites for several hours a day’ in the first eight months of 2014. The man claimed he started feeding his habit by searching for pictures of actress Alyssa Milano on his work computer.

The Labor Department reports are heavily redacted to mask the identity of the man, who said he was ‘addicted’ to porn. His accuser initially suspected he was viewing child pornography, but a forensic analysis of his hard drive determined that wasn’t the case. Still, investigators found that he had ‘downloaded a voluminous amount of adult pornographic movies and images.’

The man also admitted he had been fired from another job in the past for ‘accessing sites with women wearing little clothing,’ according to a report of his October 2014 interview.

The department’s inspector general sends a report to Congress twice each year. The most recent one, issued May 29, said the investigation focused on ‘a Grade 14 employee.’  That’s a reference to the federal government’s salary scale for non-executive employees, which spans 15 grades. Together with a nearly 25 per cent boost for the cost of living in Washington, D.C., his salary was between $107,325 and $139,523, depending on his responsibilities and seniority.

The report said the man told investigators that during a two-week period when the agency was migrating to cloud computing, he ‘entered the name of actress Alyssa Milano on [his] computer and pornographic sites appeared,’ according to a report of his interview. Milano, the child actress co-star of the 1980s TV comedy ‘Who’s the Boss?,’ broke into movie roles in her twenties and was known for fearlessly shooting nude scenes.

The porn-surfing employee told investigators that Microsoft’s Bing search engine also helped him feed his addiction, since he learned he could use it on a government network to find pornography.

A FOIA officer from the Office of Inspector General informed Daily Mail Online Wednesday in a letter that her office ‘would not be providing copies of the pornography-related evidence’ in the case along with the documents. Because the Labor Department did not specify its criteria for determining that no child pornography was involved, Daily Mail Online is appealing that decision.

In 2013 a Health and Human Services acting director of cyber security expert was kept on the job for eight months after his indictment on child pornography charges. He spent seven of those months in federal custody, but remained on the government payroll. Timothy DeFoggi was ultimately convicted of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, conspiring to advertise and distribute child pornography, and accessing a computer with the intent to view child pornography.

The OIG did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the 2014 investigation, specifically about whether the fired employee was placed on administrative leave during the investigation.

DCG

Editors of world’s most prestigious medical journals say much of scientific literature may be false

Dr. Eowyn:

We are awash in corruption, not just in politics and culture, but also in science, esp. medical science that is utterly corrupted by the pharmaceutical industry.

Did you know that as many as 20% of Americans (1 out of every 5) are on psychoactive or mood-altering drugs for depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder and the like?

Bottom line: Any prescription medication is serious stuff and should be taken with caution. Talk to a trusted physician. With the ubiquity of information on the Internet, do your research. And, most important of all, take charge of your health by eating right, exercising, and eschewing vices. See our Health, Finance, Security page for tips.

Originally posted on Consortium of Defense Analysts:

Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine are the two most prestigious medical journals in the world. Stunningly, their chief editors admit that corruption is “endemic” in science, and that much of the scientific literature may simply be lies.

The Lancet first issueIn the April 11, 2015 issue of The Lancet, its Editor in Chief Dr. Richard Horton writes:

A lot of what is published is incorrect.” …much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness…. The Academy of Medical Sciences, Medical Research Council, and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council have now put their reputational weight behind an investigation into these questionable research practices. The apparent endemicity of bad research…

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