Re: White House fails to make case that Russian hackers tampered with election

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

From: “David S. H. Rosenthal” <dshr@abitare.org>
Subject: Re: [Dewayne-Net] Re: White House fails to make case that Russian hackers tampered with election
Date: December 31, 2016 at 10:41:51 AM EST
To: dewayne@warpspeed.com

White House fails to make case that Russian hackers tampered with election
US issued JAR billed itself as an indictment that would prove Russian involvement.
By DAN GOODIN
Dec 30 2016
http://arstechnica.com/security/2016/12/did-russia-tamper-with-the-2016-election-bitter-debate-likely-to-rage-on/

And:

https://theintercept.com/2016/12/31/russia-hysteria-infects-washpost-again-false-story-about-hacking-u-s-electric-grid/

Judith Miller to the white courtesy phone …

David.

The world today looks ominously like it did before World War I

The world today looks ominously like it did before World War I
By Ana Swanson
Dec 29 2016
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/12/29/the-world-today-looks-ominously-like-it-did-before-world-war-i/

A backlash to globalization appears to be gaining strength around the world. U.S. politicians on both the right and left have called for curbing free trade deals they say benefit foreigners or the global elite. President-elect Donald Trump has championed tariffs on imports and limits on immigration, and suggested withdrawing from international alliances and trade agreements. Meanwhile, populist and nationalist governments have gained ground in Europe and Asia, and voters in Britain have elected to withdraw from the European Union.

To some, it looks ominously like another moment in history — the period leading up to World War I, which marked the end of a multi-decade expansion in global ties that many call the first era of globalization.

In a recent report, Josh Feinman, the chief global economist for Deutsche Asset Management, says that the world could see a substantial backsliding to globalization in decades to come. After all, he writes, we have seen it happen before, in the years of chaos and isolationism that encompassed the First and Second World Wars and the Great Depression.

“The first great globalization wave, in the half-century or so before WWI, sparked a populist backlash too, and ultimately came crashing down in the cataclysms of 1914 to 1945,” says Feinman.

Other economists have proposed similar theories in the past. Branko Milanovic, Dani Rodrik, Niall Ferguson, Fred Bergsten and others have argued that globalization is a cyclical process, accelerating and retrenching over decades, as global integration naturally gives rise to a backlash. Like Feinman, many see the period leading up to World War I as an illustrative example.

From the mid-19th century to 1914, advances like steamships, the telegraph, the telephone and the Suez and Panama canals dramatically shrunk distances and increased communication, and the world underwent a period of rapid globalization.

Roughly 60 million Europeans left low-wage countries in Europe for resource-rich lands in the United States, Canada, Argentina, Australia and elsewhere, Feinman says. Countries also lowered their barriers to imported goods and embraced trade. As this chart from Feinman’s report shows, merchandise exports rose as a share of the economy, evidence of globalization.

These changes spread the benefits of the Industrial Revolution around the world, Feinman says. But in some places, particularly wealthier countries, they also worsened inequality. Trade enriched some people but left others behind, triggering unrest and a political backlash.

As Feinman writes, countries gradually introduced more trade barriers and restrictions on immigration. With the support of American workers, the United States passed a law in 1921 that imposed strict quotas on immigrants, especially those who were poor or from outside of northern Europe. With the World Wars and the Great Depression, globalization collapsed, and nationalist movements and economic isolationism reigned for decades.

In the decades following World War II, the pendulum swung in the other direction. The United States led the world in creating and expanding international organizations like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the precursor to the World Trade Organization — institutions that creators believed might help make another world war impossible. Since then, the world has experienced what many think of as the second great wave of globalization.

There are many differences among these eras of globalization and retrenchment, Feinman is careful to say. The World Wars and Great Depression were not just about a rejection of globalization, and that rejection of globalization was as much a result of those events as their cause, he writes.

Yet there are some strong parallels, Feinman says. “Modern globalization has been spurred by some of the same forces that powered the pre-WWI epoch: New technologies, an open, free-trade, rules-based world economic system underpinned by the leading power of the day, and a period of general peace among major countries.”

[snip]

How Amazon innovates in ways that Google and Apple can’t

How Amazon innovates in ways that Google and Apple can’t
By Timothy B. Lee
Dec 28 2016
http://www.vox.com/new-money/2016/12/28/13889840/amazon-innovation-google-apple

The Echo, Amazon’s voice-controlled speaker, was a big hit this holiday season. Amazon is keeping specific sales figures under wraps, but the company says it sold nine times as many Echo devices during the holidays as it did a year earlier.

It’s the latest example of Amazon pioneering a new product category and then going on to dominate it. Amazon has become the leader in the e-book market on the strength of its Kindle line of e-readers. And it dominates an important segment of the cloud computing market; Amazon Web Services is expected to generate $12 billion in revenue this year.

Next year, Amazon is hoping to start doing something similar for brick-and-mortar retailing. The company recently unveiled Amazon Go, a convenience store whose no-checkout technology could revolutionize the retail sector.

In short, Amazon has shown a remarkable ability to succeed in a wide variety of different product categories. That’s a contrast to most other high-profile tech companies that are really good in one area — Google’s dominant online services or Apple’s extraordinarily profitable hardware — but struggle when the quest for growth pushes them outside their zone of core competency.

“There’s an opportunity to do innovation in big companies,” says author and startup guru Eric Ries. “But very few big companies have done this really well. Amazon is one of them.”

Amazon has figured out how to combine the entrepreneurial culture of a small company with the financial resources of a large one. And that allows it tackle problems most other companies can’t.

Most tech companies struggle outside their comfort zones
Corporate And Media Leaders Attend Allen & Company Media And Technology Conf.Google created or acquired a remarkable string of hit products during the 2000s, including Gmail, Google Maps, Google Docs, YouTube, Android, and Chrome. These products have a lot in common. Most are online services like Google’s original search engine. The two major exceptions — Android and Chrome — are software that help people access Google’s online services.

During the 2010s, Google has gotten more ambitious, funding a series of “moonshots” that aim to solve big technology problems far removed from the company’s traditional focus on online services. Indeed, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin felt so strongly about this mission that they re-organized Google itself, creating a new parent company called Alphabet to serve as an umbrella for moonshot projects.

[snip]

There Are Over 1,000 Communities Across the U.S. With 4x the Lead Poisoning of Flint, Michigan

There Are Over 1,000 Communities Across the U.S. With 4x the Lead Poisoning of Flint, Michigan
Reuters investigation finds Flint’s water contamination crisis is just the tip of a very contaminated iceberg.
By Sarah Lazare / AlterNet
Dec 29 2016
http://www.alternet.org/environment/there-are-over-1000-communities-across-us-4x-lead-poisoning-flint-michigan

Flint, Michigan’s lead-poisoned water crisis, which erupted in 2014, shined a global spotlight on the dangerous confluence of austerity, poverty and environmental racism. A new in-depth investigation by Reuters finds that Flint is far from alone, with nearly 3,000 areas nationwide facing lead poisoning rates “at least double those in Flint during the peak of that city’s contamination crisis.” In 1,100 of those communities, residents had lead levels in their blood that were four times higher than those found in Flint.

Journalists M.B. Pell and Joshua Schneyer made these determinations by examining neighborhood-level data from state health departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The poisoned places on this map stretch from Warren, Pennsylvania, a town on the Allegheny River where 36 percent of children tested had high lead levels, to a zip code on Goat Island, Texas, where a quarter of tests showed poisoning,” they wrote. “In some pockets of Baltimore, Cleveland and Philadelphia, where lead poisoning has spanned generations, the rate of elevated tests over the last decade was 40-50 percent.”

Reuters sent reporters to many of those impacted locations and they noted that “poverty remains a potent predictor of lead poisoning” but “victims span the American spectrum.” The report states that “Like Flint, many of these localities are plagued by legacy lead: crumbling paint, plumbing, or industrial waste left behind. Unlike Flint, many have received little attention or funding to combat poisoning.”

Lead poisoning can have irreversible impacts on the brain. According to the World Health Organization, “Young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous system. Lead also causes long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage. Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight, as well as minor malformations.”

The CDC notes, “No safe blood lead level in children has been identified.”

“The disparities you’ve found between different areas have stark implications,” Dr. Helen Egger, chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Child Study Center, told Reuters. “Where lead poisoning remains common, many children will have developmental delays and start out behind all the rest.”

[snip]

Americans — especially but not exclusively Trump voters — believe crazy, wrong things

Americans — especially but not exclusively Trump voters — believe crazy, wrong things
By Catherine Rampell
Dec 28 2016
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/rampage/wp/2016/12/28/americans-especially-but-not-exclusively-trump-voters-believe-crazy-wrong-things/

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump believes there’s a global conspiracy to stop him from becoming president – but it’s not the first time he’s pushed unfounded theories. (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

Many Americans believe a lot of dumb, crazy, destructive, provably wrong stuff. Lately this is especially (though not exclusively) true of Donald Trump voters, according to a new survey.

The survey, from the Economist/YouGov, was conducted in mid-December, and it finds that willingness to believe a given conspiracy theory is (surprise!) strongly related to whether that conspiracy theory supports one’s political preferences.

Remember Pizzagate? That’s the bizarre theory that Hillary Clinton was helping run a child sex slave ring out of a D.C. pizza joint, as allegedly proven by code words in hacked Democratic emails.

Lest you think this theory was espoused by only a handful of Internet nutjobs, observe that nearly half of Trump voters believe it’s true. This result is based on a poll conducted after a North Carolina man burst into the restaurant with an assault-style rifle, leaving only when he was satisfied that no child sex-slaves were harbored there.

About half of Trump voters also believe that President Obama was born in Kenya, even though their once-birther candidate has since disavowed this conspiracy theory:

[snip]

Facebook Doesn’t Tell Users Everything It Really Knows About Them

Facebook Doesn’t Tell Users Everything It Really Knows About Them
The site shows users how Facebook categorizes them. It doesn’t reveal the data it is buying about their offline lives.
By Julia Angwin, Terry Parris Jr., Surya Mattu/ ProPublica
Dec 28 2016
http://www.alternet.org/human-rights/facebook-doesnt-tell-users-everything-it-really-knows-about-them

Facebook has long let users see all sorts of things the site knows about them, like whether they enjoy soccer, have recently moved, or like Melania Trump.

But the tech giant gives users little indication that it buys far more sensitive data about them, including their income, the types of restaurants they frequent and even how many credit cards are in their wallets.

Since September, ProPublica has been encouraging Facebook users to share the categories of interest that the site has assigned to them. Users showed us everything from “Pretending to Text in Awkward Situations” to “Breastfeeding in Public.” In total, we collected more than 52,000 unique attributes that Facebook has used to classify users.

Facebook’s site says it gets information about its users “from a few different sources.”

What the page doesn’t say is that those sources include detailed dossiers obtained from commercial data brokers about users’ offline lives. Nor does Facebook show users any of the often remarkably detailed information it gets from those brokers.

“They are not being honest,” said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. “Facebook is bundling a dozen different data companies to target an individual customer, and an individual should have access to that bundle as well.”

When asked this week about the lack of disclosure, Facebook responded that it doesn’t tell users about the third-party data because it’s widely available and was not collected by Facebook.

“Our approach to controls for third-party categories is somewhat different than our approach for Facebook-specific categories,” said Steve Satterfield, a Facebook manager of privacy and public policy. “This is because the data providers we work with generally make their categories available across many different ad platforms, not just on Facebook.”

Satterfield said users who don’t want that information to be available to Facebook should contact the data brokers directly. He said users can visit a page in Facebook’s help center, which provides links to the opt-outs for six data brokers that sell personal data to Facebook.

Limiting commercial data brokers’ distribution of your personal information is no simple matter. For instance, opting out of Oracle’s Datalogix, which provides about 350 types of data to Facebook according to our analysis, requires “sending a written request, along with a copy of government-issued identification” in postal mail to Oracle’s chief privacy officer.

Users can ask data brokers to show them the information stored about them. But that can also be complicated. One Facebook broker, Acxiom, requires people to send the last four digits of their social security number to obtain their data. Facebook changes its providers from time to time so members would have to regularly visit the help center page to protect their privacy.

One of us actually tried to do what Facebook suggests. While writing a book about privacy in 2013, reporter Julia Angwin tried to opt out from as many data brokers as she could. Of the 92 brokers she identified that accepted opt-outs, 65 of them required her to submit a form of identification such as a driver’s license. In the end, she could not remove her data from the majority of providers.

[snip]

Re: White House fails to make case that Russian hackers tampered with election

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

From: “David S. H. Rosenthal” <dshr@abitare.org>
Subject: Re: [Dewayne-Net] White House fails to make case that Russian hackers tampered with election
Date: December 31, 2016 at 9:10:38 AM EST
To: dewayne@warpspeed.com

White House fails to make case that Russian hackers tampered with election
US issued JAR billed itself as an indictment that would prove Russian involvement.
By DAN GOODIN
Dec 30 2016
http://arstechnica.com/security/2016/12/did-russia-tamper-with-the-2016-election-bitter-debate-likely-to-rage-on/

See also:

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/something-about-this-russia-story-stinks-w458439

David.

Top-secret Snowden document reveals what the NSA knew about previous Russian hacking

Top-secret Snowden document reveals what the NSA knew about previous Russian hacking
By Sam Biddle
Dec 29 2016
https://theintercept.com/2016/12/29/top-secret-snowden-document-reveals-what-the-nsa-knew-about-previous-russian-hacking/

To date, the only public evidence that the Russian government was responsible for hacks of the DNC and key Democratic figures has been circumstantial and far short of conclusive, courtesy of private research firms with a financial stake in such claims. Multiple federal agencies now claim certainty about the Kremlin connection, but they have yet to make public the basis for their beliefs.

Now, a never-before-published top-secret document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden suggests the NSA has a way of collecting evidence of Russian hacks, because the agency tracked a similar hack before in the case of a prominent Russian journalist, who was also a U.S. citizen.

In 2006, longtime Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya was gunned down in her apartment, the victim of an apparent contract killing. Although five individuals, including the gunman, were convicted for the crime, whoever ordered the murder remains unknown. Information about Politkovskaya’s journalism career, murder, and the investigation of that crime was compiled by the NSA in the form of an internal wiki entry. Most of the wiki’s information is biographical, public, and unclassified, save for a brief passage marked top secret:

[snip]

How scientists use Slack

How scientists use Slack
Eight ways labs benefit from the popular workplace messaging tool.
By Jeffrey M. Perkel
Dec 29 2016
http://www.nature.com/news/how-scientists-use-slack-1.21228

When geneticist Daniel MacArthur checks into his lab, the first thing he does is fire up Slack, a workplace messaging app. In the system, he zips through the hundreds of messages and files left in different channels by the lab’s 23 scientists — some reporting on their projects, others requesting help. The lab’s members have posted more than 400,000 messages on Slack since April 2014 — a rate of nearly 500 per day. For MacArthur, who works at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the tool has rendered irrelevant many of the ways that his lab previously used to communicate about papers and projects — especially e-mail.

E-mail, says MacArthur, is “genuinely awful” and “actually disastrous for group communication”. His inbox, a jumble of vendor announcements, administration notices and other random requests, contains some 17,500 unread items. Slack, by contrast, is focused: because every post comes from a team member, the signal-to-noise ratio is high. Most days, MacArthur is able to clear all unread messages. “I have a lot more discipline making sure I am up to date,” he says.

“It’s a remarkably quick way of building consensus.”

MacArthur’s lab isn’t the only scientific group that swears by Slack, which was launched just 3 years ago, but now boasts more than 3 million active daily users worldwide, and which has rapidly become popular with media organizations and technology firms. Billed as ‘team communication for the twenty-first century’, Slack is a platform on which groups can share files, data, news and jokes, and generally track their work. It provides base-level free accounts but charges users to store more than the latest 10,000 messages. As MacArthur’s lab has done, users can set up their own invitation-only pages — say, at ‘mylab.slack.com’ — and organize conversations into searchable public or private channels. The platform lends itself to much more informal, and thus easier, communication than e-mail, notes Konrad Karczewski, a geneticist and postdoc in MacArthur’s lab. “I’m just typing whatever comes into my head, as if we were having a face-to-face conversation, but online.”

That can be especially valuable for teams that are scattered across work sites or that work different shifts. Guillaume Delbergue, a computer engineer at IMS Bordeaux in France, says he sometimes works in the lab, sometimes from home, and occasionally from another city. Another member of his lab is based in Canada. Using MatterMost— an open-source Slack alternative, which Delbergue chose in order to assuage privacy concerns — those teammates can stay in constant contact. “You can easily bridge people on the shared chat tool,” he says.

Slack doesn’t really do anything that other messenging apps cannot in part provide, MacArthur says. It has competitors such as MatterMost and Atlassian’s HipChat, as well as older messenging apps such as Google Chat. But a number of labs have fallen in love with Slack; researchers cite its simple and fluid user interface, and its ability to incorporate ‘bots’: automated scripts (also called plug-ins) that can import outside information into the platform or can launch other software if particular commands are typed.

[snip]

Amazon’s demented plans for its warehouse blimp with drone fleet

Amazon’s demented plans for its warehouse blimp with drone fleet
Giant airship will hover over your city, deploying drones for advertising and delivery.
By ANNALEE NEWITZ
Dec 29 2016
http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/12/amazons-demented-plans-for-its-warehouse-blimp-with-drone-fleet/

Amazon has just gotten a patent for an “airborne fulfillment center utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles for item delivery.” Though the patent was granted in April 2016, the plans for it have just gone public on the US Patent and Trademark Office website. What they describe sounds like something out of a Philip K. Dick novel.

Here’s how it works. First, get a very large airship and float it above a city. Then attach a giant warehouse full of Amazon items to the bottom (actually, you should probably attach this before the floating, but the patent is vague on this point). This warehouse is constantly restocked by smaller airships, which bring personnel and supplies from the ground, as well as carrying away waste. People on the ground use their computers to browse items currently floating over their heads, and order whatever they want. Then drones grab the items, hurl themselves out of the airship, and engage their rotors as they approach the ground. The human receives his or her item from the drone, and the drone ascends back up to its floating palace of boxes and workers.

Basically this is just a more insane version of Amazon’s drone delivery system, which it began testing this month in the UK. Before the company can roll out a comparable service in the US, it needs approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. So apparently while they are waiting, they’ve decided to invent an even-more-unlikely-to-be-approved airborne delivery system.

What’s interesting is that the patent includes plans for the blimps to provide advertising, too. In the patent, the inventors refer to an “advertising altitude” for the “airborne fulfillment center.” Based on a flowchart in the patent, it seems that once the airship is in advertising range, people can order whatever is being advertised and then the ads will change. Imagine the Amazon blimp flying low over your city, advertising the new Samsung phone, shooting drones out to all those impulse buyers who clicked the button on their mobiles. It’s straight out of Blade Runner (or Frederick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth’s incredible Madison Avenue dystopia The Space Merchants).

[snip]