Let's Fix This Country
climate

Time to Face Facts: The World Is Not Going to Stop Climate Change

Two major reports in recent days tell us that unless we take immediate action to slow climate change, the consequences will be dire. But the world has waited so long to take that action, that there is a growing dread that it's too late. The parameters have to be so severe at this late hour that there is no political will to force drastic changes nor would humans be willing to endure them.

Just as the reports came out — from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the National Climate Assessment that is mandated
by Congress every four years — and just as representatives from the 197 nations that signed onto the Paris climate accord were about to meet in Poland for the U.N.'s 24th climate conference, out came bad news. Instead of the reduction in emissions that all these nations had pledged, the year 2018 is registering an increase of between 1.8% and 3.7% in greenhouse gases emissions. Following an encouraging three-year 2014-2016 trend of flat emissions, the new record high of 37.1 billion metric tons is the second straight year of increase. Mostly, the causes were India with a 6% rise and China with 5%, both heavy users of coal. Even United States emissions were up 2.5%, after declines in seven of the last ten years.

The members had asked the IPCC what needed to be done in order to hold temperature rise to 1.5° centigrade (2.7° Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, a notch below an increase of 2.0° centigrade (3.6° Fahrenheit) generally agreed to be a threshold beyond which planetary changes would be catastrophic. The report's answer was that emissions must be cut 50% by 2030 and driven to net…

national security

China’s Stealth Hack on Supply Chain Is Worst of All

There's no better tale to demonstrate the threat of China's sinister deceit than what Bloomberg Businessweek magazine brought to light in an October article.

Amazon's Web Services division (AWS, their data storage "cloud") was in 2015 looking to buy Elemental Technologies of Portland, Oregon, which develops software to compress massive video files and conform them to different devices
for faster transmission. Elemental uses servers assembled by Supermicro Computer in San Jose, California, one of the world’s biggest suppliers of server motherboards. It has these manufactured by subcontractors in China.

As part of due diligence, Amazon sent a server to an outfit in Ontario that securitizes such devices. It found a tiny microchip on the motherboard that wasn't a part of the original board's design. It was hardly bigger than a grain of rice.

Investigators have been able to deduce that the chips, present in all Supermicro boards, were inserted by the Chinese subcontractors, most likely required to do so by the Chinese government or the People's Liberation Army, and that their function is to open a door for an attacker to pass through into any network to which the server is attacked. Hardware attacks are about access, access to whatever sensitive and secret data was on that network — corporate, government, military, whatever. The infiltration of the tiny saboteur chip is looked upon as the most significant supply chain attack known to have been carried out against American companies.

Hardware hacks are a magnitude more difficult to pull off than software implants, "like witnessing a unicorn jumping over a rainbow" said one hardware hacker. It's "like black magic". Engineers who have analyzed the chip say it appears to alter bits of code on their way to the CPU telling the device to communicate…

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Autocracies Soon Wealthier Than Democracies

Within five years, non-Democratic nations such as China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia will be collectively richer than the liberal democracies of the West, reports Axios. By 2022, more than 1.5 billion people will live in autocratic states with fully mature economies, up from a mere 34 million or so in 1995.

national security

Trump Slamming the Door on Chinese Tech Invaders

Tariffs get the headlines in Donald Trump's war with China. An increasingly vigorous campaign by his administration to block Chinese acquisition of American companies, to ban the sale of certain of their products into the U.S., and to combat espionage and outright theft of trade secrets should get greater notice. At issue is the perceived threat to national security.

Two-or-so decades back, China decided it was entitled to become a world power. It would count the West's naïve belief that countries act ethically and live up to agreements. When the U.S. complained of counterfeited goods, pirated software and films, and outright theft of technology, China would assure Washington of crackdowns and make token efforts, but only to distract U.S. attention while the thievery went on. Agreements were made to be broken. An accord signed by President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping three years ago offers example. Both pledged that neither country would thenceforward engage in economic espionage. How did that turn out? This November the National Security Agency announced that Chinese hacking of U.S. companies to steal proprietary technology has gone "well beyond the bounds of the agreement".

The U.S. had paid little heed to what was coming. A 2011 report to Congress two years in the making by America's intelligence agencies warned of cyber spying against U.S. companies, bluntly stating that "Chinese actors are the world's most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage". Richard Clarke, cybersecurity adviser to George W. Bush, stated at the time that "the Obama… Read More »

corruption

When Trump Took Control of His Own Investigation

Pieces are in place to end the Mueller probe

There's never been a mention that Donald Trump plays chess, but after a midterm House victory put him in check, the president countered with a move that puts the government in check. He has installed a Trump-besotted sycophant
Jeff Sessions deposed

as acting attorney general and only mere weeks after installing as Supreme Court justice who has said sitting presidents cannot be indicted or even subpoenaed.

Suddenly, the landscape has changed, and could keep changing day-to-day at Trump's whim. We try here to outline the possible scenarios.

The new interim head of the Justice Department, Matthew Whitaker, has made it something of a campaign to denigrate the Mueller investigation, which he now will oversee, calling it a "witch hunt", approvingly re-tweeting an article that called it the "Mueller lynch mob", filling airwaves and cables with assaults designed to attract the notice of the administration and hopefully Trump himself. He left a long trail, much of in interviews on obscure radio programs that the media impressively dug Character witness:  The owner of the consumer complaint website RippoffReport.com says that in 2015 Whitaker threatened, "using a lot of foul language", to "ruin my business if I didn't remove" all negative comments about World Patent Marketing Inc, with which Whitaker was associated as this article covers below. Whitaker, "would have the government shut me down under some homeland security law".
    

up within hours of his appointment. On one he said in June of last year, "There's not a single piece of evidence that demonstrates that the Trump campaign… Read More »

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