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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Lots of stuff: The "development" theory develops, the NSA uses radio, net neutrality and more...

The "development" theory of bridge-gate is not just for the irresponsible scoundrels of Blogworld any longer. Here's the Washington Post...
Councilman Joseph L. Cervieri Jr. said the mayor discussed the possibility of endorsing Christie late last spring or in the early summer and quickly dismissed it.

“The whole conversation was maybe a two-minute conversation,” Cervieri said. That such a minor slight could trigger such a major retaliation months later, as the governor was heading for a landslide victory, is “a possibility — but what is the probability?”
Loretta Weinberg, quoted below, is the leading Democrat in the State senate...
Still other conjecture swirls around a billion-dollar redevelopment project that is underway at the foot of the George Washington Bridge.

“Part of the marketing is easy access to the George Washington Bridge,” Weinberg said.
Meanwhile, Christie's office is blasting those awful, awful conspiracy theorists. But that commonly-heard slam won't prove effective in this case, because everyone agrees that there really was a conspiracy. The only questions: What was the motive? And did Christie know?
In a short statement to CNN on Tuesday, Christie spokesman Colin Reed blasted the theories, including those that posit the closures, which tied up traffic for days in Fort Lee, N.J., were to get revenge on rivals or possibly linked to a local real estate development.

"We're not commenting on every wild-eyed conspiracy theory that's originating on left-wing blogs," Reed told the cable news network.
It's not just blogs on the left who are talking about this. The speculation has spread because the standard "vengeance" explanation doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

"Look, Ma! No wires!" Using radio, the NSA can read your computer even if you don't have it plugged into the internet.
The secret technology uses covert radio waves transmitted from small circuit boards and USB cards clandestinely inserted into targeted computers, The New York Times reported. The waves can then be sent to a briefcase-sized relay station intelligence agencies can set up just miles away, according to NSA documents, computer experts and US officials.

The radio frequency technology - which often needs to be physically inserted by a spy, manufacturer or unwitting user - has helped US spies access computers that global adversaries have gone to great lengths to protect from surveillance or cyber-attack.
More details, please. Just how is the RF thingie inserted into our system by an unwitting user? Obviously, we are talking either USB sticks or computer parts. Has the NSA made secret deals with the makers of motherboards? In a previous post, I scoffed at that suggestion -- but maybe I scoffed prematurely. Here's more:
The National Security Agency has implanted software in about 100,000 computers around the world, allowing the United States to surveil those machines while creating a trail that can be used to launch cyber-attacks.

Though most of the software is installed by gaining access to computer networks, the NSA can also employ technology that enters computers and alters data without needing internet access.

The secret technology uses covert radio waves transmitted from small circuit boards and USB cards clandestinely inserted into targeted computers, The New York Times reported.

The waves can then be sent to a briefcase-sized relay station intelligence agencies can set up just miles away, according to NSA documents, computer experts and US officials.
Spooking lawmakers: The NSA can't come right and say that they've been spying on politicians, but neither can they deny it.
The National Security Agency said it is lawfully unable to search its database to determine if it has swept up phone records from members of Congress or other elected officials.

NSA Director Keith Alexander said, however, nothing the agency does can be fairly described as “spying on Members of Congress” or U.S. politicians, according to a letter dated Jan. 10.

The director said the agency could not cull its database because it can only access records that are reasonably suspected to be linked to a foreign terrorist group.

“For that reason, NSA cannot lawfully search to determine if any records NSA has received under the program have included metadata of the phone calls of any member of Congress, other American elected officials, or any other American without that predicate,” Alexander said.
We've known for a while -- from Russell Tice and others -- that the NSA collects and stores everything on everyone, including content. That's the thing no-one wants to talk about. The data is not considered "intercepted" unless human eyes look at it. Sure, machines can look at those words -- but until human beings read those words, the NSA believes that spying has not occurred.

Obviously, congressfolk have had their private chats stored within the dark confines of some supercomputer. Alexander is using the law as his catch-all excuse for not confessing how the system works.

The argument over metadata is important, but it is also kind of a distraction. The big, dark secret that the Agency hopes to keep undiscussed is the mass collection of all communications.

Net Neutrality: GET ANGRY! Notice how few people are talking about yesterday's Appeals Court ruling? But the conservatives, tellingly, are crowing about it. Get ready to lose your lunch as you read this bit from the American Spectator...
Net Neutrality, as with so many leftist proposals, is Orwellian in name: it represents little more than the theft of property rights of companies that have invested billions of dollars in Internet infrastructure.
Orwellian? If George Orwell were alive today, I think he would say that misuse of the term "Orwellian" has itself become the most Orwellian tactic in modern rhetoric.

Net neutrality is not a "proposal." It's not a new regulatory measure. Anyone who implies otherwise is lying to you.

Net neutrality is what we have had from the birth of the internet until now.

Far from being Orwellian, net neutrality has guaranteed true freedom of expression. It means that you and I -- little people -- have have a chance to be heard, that we cannot be shouted down by the billionaires.

Let's go back to that Spectator article:
It is “neutral” in the sense that the regulations would force providers of Internet bandwidth to treat all content providers the same way. That is no more reasonable than saying that a stadium can’t sell better seats for higher prices or limit access to the Club level or tell you that you can’t bring in your own beer.
No. Our communications infrastructure is not like a visit to a privately-owned stadium. The better analogy would go to your phone calls. How would you like it if your telephone company had the right to prevent your calls from going through -- or to make your calls less audible -- based on your political beliefs or private habits? How would you like it if an electric company could prevent you from getting juice if you expressed the "wrong" opinions?

That's the kind of power Verizon and Comcast now have, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Inequality always translates into less freedom. This is closer to the truth:
Net neutrality is dead. Bow to Comcast and Verizon, your overlords
"AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast will be able to deliver some sites and services more quickly and reliably than others for any reason," telecommunications lawyer Marvin Ammori (he's the man quoted above) observed even before the ruling came down. "Whim. Envy. Ignorance. Competition. Vengeance. Whatever. Or, no reason at all."
Let's drive it home: It is now legal for your ISP to block your access to Cannonfire. Or to any of the other sites you visit.

Libertarians will offer abstruse arguments that your ISPs won't do that, or that the magic of the free market will somehow prevent the worst from happening. But all such arguments are pure casuistry. We all know how it works: If the law allows an outrage, that outrage will occur. And you may not even know about that outrage, because you will be denied access to the information. You will also be denied access to the forums in which you can discuss a plan of counter-action.

And consider this: If net neutrality had been abolished years ago, a then-flush for-pay chat service like AOL could have forked over the dough needed to crush free chat services like Yahoo and IRC.

Net neutrality insures innovation. Net neutrality drives down prices.

Net neutrality also insures that the small businessman can compete with the Big Guns. In a previous post, I confessed my (admittedly kind of weird) interest in the history of artist's materials. There are a few tiny shops -- one-or-two-man operations -- that sell hand-made oil paints: Doak, Blue Ridge and RGH. These businesses encourage you to communicate directly with the guy who mulls your paint. Small businesses of this sort could not easily thrive in the days before the internet, because the web allows them to stand toe-to-toe with the large manufacturers. Without an equal-access internet, these craftsmen might not have found loyal customers all over the world.

Will the workshop craftsman now be unable to compete on the web with the huge concerns? We don't yet know. But we do know this: It's now legal for the big guys to pay to lock out the little guys.
This wouldn't be as much of a threat to the open Internet if there were genuine competition among providers, so you could take your business elsewhere if your ISP was turning the public Web into its own private garden. In the U.S., there's no practical competition. The vast majority of households essentially have a single broadband option, their local cable provider.
What to do? Marvin Ammori, writing in Slate, has some suggestions:
Finally, Google, Netflix, Mozilla, eBay, IAC, and other tech companies that have long supported network neutrality seem to have lost a bit of their appetite for a fight. (I advise several technology companies but am not speaking for any of them here.)

The only people who remain completely committed to network neutrality and energized to defend it are consumer groups and average Americans who love the Internet. On Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter, people are asking how to reverse the decision and preserve Internet freedom. In Washington, though, having the American public on your side might not be enough to stare down the hundreds of telecom and cable lobbyists. That’s where the consumer groups come in. For many years, organizations like Free Press, the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, and others have been active on this issue. (Disclosure: I’m affiliated with or have donated to all of them.) Now, they need to rebuild the coalition with tech companies serving millions of network neutrality supporters and organize the public for a fight—something that’s possible so long as Verizon and AT&T don’t exercise their newfound right to block any website they choose.
In other words, this is a grass-roots battle. We have to tell our congressfolk that this issue is a deal-breaker. Send them all a message:

"No votes and no money for you unless you are willing to back legislation to restore net neutrality. The job can be done easily: Transform service providers into common carriers. Nothing you can say can turn me around on this issue, so don't try. Just DO AS I DEMAND or I will do everything I can to remove you from your seat."
Yes, I read that it was as simple as demanding our congress reps declare the ISPs common carriers. But I've yet to see any petitions floating around, and I only saw three friends even comment on this news yesterday. Odd.

Regarding the bit about radio waves: "Obviously, we are talking either USB sticks or computer parts."
would this be something you're thinking can be manufactured in? And couldn't anyone reverse engineer the parts to prove they are there?

"Just DO AS I DEMAND or I will do everything I can to remove you from your seat."
The first priority is to gain back a Democratic majority in the House and to increase the Democratic majority in the Senate. Only then can you use you DEMAND.
Here is the problems: 1, We have a two party system so if you remove a Democrat you install a Republican and if the Republicans are in the majority we are all screwed. 2, If your elected official publicly supports net neutrality, millions will be spent against him and he will lose. 3. When 90% of the people support gun control and the bill still loses your threat maybe meaningless.
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