Rachel Maddow Show: Boehner resurrects debunked smear circa Romney 2012

Rachel Maddow Show: Boehner resurrects debunked smear circa Romney 2012
Jul 28 2014

Rachel Maddow reviews some of the lies and distortions produced by the Mitt Romney campaign as it became more desperate to attract white voters, and shows how one lie in particular has been re-introduced to the public discourse in a John Boehner op-ed.

Video: 14:07 min

Wanted: U.S. Ambassadors

Wanted: U.S. Ambassadors
By Steve Benen
Jul 29 2014

According to the United Nations, there are 193 nations in the world. Of that total, the United States maintains embassies in 169 countries around the globe. But on the show the other day, Rachel highlighted a striking statistic: in a fourth of those embassies, the ambassador’s office is empty, because the Senate hasn’t confirmed anyone.

There are practical consequences of this. Unaccompanied children from Guatemala, for example, are reaching the U.S./Mexico border, and officials are working on possible solutions. But there’s a limit on the amount of diplomatic work that can be done in the Central American country, since the U.S. has no ambassador to Guatemala. We don’t have an ambassador to Russia, which also happens be a pretty consequential country right now.

There are a variety of factors contributing to the problem, but there’s reason to believe our embassies may soon receive some new ambassadors after all.
There’s a chance at least some of the ambassadors caught in a legislative holding pattern might be confirmed before the August recess.

While the process of filling the diplomatic corps has been slow in the aftermath of the “nuclear option” standoff last fall, Sen. Ted Cruz said Monday that he had withdrawn his more recent objection.

The Texas Republican had placed a hold on State Department nominees…. Cruz had placed the hold because of last week’s brief Federal Aviation Administration ban on flights by U.S. carriers to Tel Aviv, Israel.

Cruz’s conspiracy theory was pretty outlandish, even for him, but as part of his tantrum, the far-right senator announced a blanket hold on all State Department nominees, regardless of merit. The Texas Republican lifted that hold yesterday.

But before any ambassadors-in-waiting start packing their bags, the Washington Postreported that regardless of Cruz’s antics, “the pace of ambassador confirmations is unlikely to quicken. Republicans still demand a cloture vote that eats up debate time and slows the process, which is akin to placing a hold on them.”

Frances Stead Sellers’ report from late last week was fascinating.


Re: Former NSA chief makes up to $1 million a month selling cybersecurity services

[Note:  This comment comes from friend David Rosenthal.  DLH]

From: “David S. H. Rosenthal” <dshr@abitare.org>
Subject: Re: [Dewayne-Net] Former NSA chief makes up to $1 million a month selling cybersecurity services
Date: July 29, 2014 at 18:02:49 EDT
To: dewayne@warpspeed.com

Former NSA chief makes up to $1 million a month selling cybersecurity services
Gen. Keith Alexander stepped down from the NSA after the Snowden leaks,
now he’s back with a new security firm related to his government work
By Carl Franzen
Jul 29 2014

This article misses the point, made by Marcy Wheeler here:


that, even supposing this snake oil worked, it would do so only if the
companies it was guarding received the data it needed to work from
the government via CISA.


Marcy Wheeler commits journalism

[Note:  This item comes from friend David Rosenthal.  DLH]

From: “David S. H. Rosenthal” <dshr@abitare.org>
Subject: Marcy Wheeler commits journalism
Date: July 29, 2014 at 18:12:17 EDT
To: dewayne@warpspeed.com

About the NSA “reform” being debated in Congress:


You don’t need to understand all the details to know that this kind
of analysis is what the press should be doing.


ISPs tell government that congestion is “not a problem,” impose data caps anyway

ISPs tell government that congestion is “not a problem,” impose data caps anyway
Shocking government research also finds Internet users don’t want data caps.
By Jon Brodkin
Jul 29 2014

After consulting focus groups of Internet customers, government researchers have come to a conclusion that should surprise no one: people don’t want data caps on home Internet service.

But customers are getting caps anyway, even though ISPs admit that congestion isn’t a problem. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released preliminary findings of research involving surveys of cellular carriers, home Internet providers, and customers.

The majority of top wireline ISPs are at least experimenting with data caps. But while cellular carriers say they impose usage-based pricing (UBP) to manage congestion on wireless networks, that’s not the case with cable, fiber, and DSL. “Some wireless ISPs told us they use UBP to manage congestion,” the GAO wrote. On the other hand, “wireline ISPs said that congestion is not currently a problem.”

Why set up data limits and charge extra when users go over them, then? “UBP can generate more revenues for ISPs to help fund network capacity upgrades as data use grows,” the GAO wrote.

The GAO said it interviewed “some experts” who think usage-based pricing “may be unnecessary because the marginal costs of data delivery are very low, [and] heavier users impose limited additional costs to ISPs.” Limiting heavy users could even “limit innovation and development of data-heavy applications,” the GAO wrote.

Customers told the GAO they don’t want data caps, at least on home Internet.

Eight focus groups of nine or 10 people each were polled about data caps on both cellular service and wireline home Internet. While they were generally accepting of limits on cellular data, most did not want any limits on home Internet usage, in part because they manage limited wireless plans by connecting mobile devices to their home Wi-Fi. The GAO wrote:

In only two groups did any participants report experience with wireline UBP [usage-based pricing]. However, in all eight groups, participants expressed strong negative reactions to UBP, including concerns about:

• The importance of the Internet in their lives and the potential effects of data allowances.
• Having to worry about data usage at home, where they are used to having unlimited access.
• Concerns that ISPs would use UBP as a way of increasing the amount they charge for Internet service.


Former NSA chief makes up to $1 million a month selling cybersecurity services

Former NSA chief makes up to $1 million a month selling cybersecurity services
Gen. Keith Alexander stepped down from the NSA after the Snowden leaks, now he’s back with a new security firm related to his government work
By Carl Franzen

Jul 29 2014

General Keith Alexander was in charge of the National Security Agency when all hell broke loose and former security contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents showing the organization was spying far beyond the extent to which most people were aware (or comfortable with). But he’s not letting that episode stop him from launching what looks to be an exceptionally lucrative private career selling…you guessed it, cybersecurity software.

As Bloomberg first reported last week, Alexander has spent the last few months since his retirement as NSA head in March giving paid talks on cybersecurity to banks and other large financial institutions. Bloomberg also noted that Alexander has charged up to $1 million a month for his services, and even co-founded his own private security firm, IronNet Cybersecurity, Inc. In a more recent interview with Foreign Policy, Alexander admitted that his firm has developed “unique” technology for detecting and fighting so-called “advanced persistent threats” — cyberattacks that can extend for months or years at a time without being noticed, and are directed against specific targets like big companies or governments.

Beyond the somewhat uncomfortable optics created by America’s leading spymaster turning his skill-set to the private security sector, there are other problems with Alexander’s new job. As Foreign Policy points out, the former NSA chief plans to file patents on his firm’s technology, patents that are “directly related to the job he had in government.” In other words, Alexander stands to profit directly off of his taxpayer-funded experience, and may do so with a competitive advantage over other competing private firms. Alexander claimed the technology he would be patenting was distinct enough from his work at the head of the NSA, but that excuse is not likely to assuage rival cybersecurity firms, nor those concerned with the revolving door between government and related private industries.

How much data can one smart home generate? About 1 GB a week.

How much data can one smart home generate? About 1 GB a week.
By Stacey Higginbotham

Jul 29 2014
The internet of things is about data. So this week’s podcast we talk to a Splunk executive who connected his home and uses the data to inform his lifestyle and purchases.

In my connected home I’ve focused mostly on automation, but Stephen Sorkin, the chief strategy officer at Splunk has decided to go a much nerdier route. He focused on data, specifically gathering data from his circuit breaker, his connected weather station and his pool. He sends that data to Splunk and has used it to make some starting conclusions — among them that his home generates about 200 MB of data a day.

In this week’s podcast Sorkin discusses how he is using data to make decisions about when to water his lawn and when to replace ol inefficient appliances. It’s one thing to guess that a new washer or dryer will save you money, but Sorkin has the data to prove it. We discuss this and why users should be in control of their data. And Kevin Tofel was on vacation this week, but my colleague Kevin Fitchard joined us to talk about the Wink hub, the connected kitchen and new networks for the internet of things. Listen up.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham
Guests: Kevin Fitchard and Stephen Sorkin of Splunk

  • A few thoughts on Wink. It has Lutron and a nice interface
  • Stop trying to push the iOS v. Android worldview on the internet of things
  • Does the internet of things need cellular networks?
  • Why open data is not just useful, but essential
  • Tips to monitor your electric meter and pool