March 5, 2015 archive

Rahm Under Pressure

Other titles suggest themselves, but I’m trying to work not Blue.

Rahm Snaps at Mental-Health Advocates: ‘You’re Gonna Respect Me!’

by Justin Glawe, Daily Beast


They say old Rahm Emanuel came out last night-or maybe it was the real one hiding in plain sight all the time: a sneering, aggressive pol who went “nose-to-nose” with a mental-health advocate demanding, “You’re gonna respect me!”

The alleged exchange took place off-camera between Chicago’s mayor and Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle, a member of Mental Health Movement, a group that has been fighting the mayor over the closure of six mental health clinics across the city. Behind a door that separated the mayor from a roomful of constituents at a campaign stop in the Wicker Park neighborhood, Ginsberg-Jaeckle says, he got Rahmbo’d.

Debbie Delgado, another member of the group, interrupted Emanuel, prompting the behind-closed-doors altercation.

“She told of losing her son to gun violence,” Ginsberg-Jaeckle wrote. “She told [Emanuel] how her other son was holding him as he died. She told about how the city’s Northwest Mental Health Clinic in Logan Square saved their lives, helped her and her son deal with the PTSD and depression. Then she asked why he took that clinic away from her.”

Rahm said he would speak with the pair, and Ginsberg-Jaeckle said they then left the room for a private conversation. That’s when Emanuel allegedly shouted: “You’re gonna respect me!”

(Emanuel spokesperson Chloe) Rasmas said that, because the event was for Rahm’s re-election campaign, now in run-off mode, the mayor’s office wouldn’t comment on what happened behind closed doors. Apparently there is an official distinction to be made between Mayor Rahm and Candidate Rahm.

Emanuel’s temper is notorious. In 1992, he was Bill Clinton’s chief fundraiser. After Bubba won the White House, it’s said that Rahm went DeNiro in The Untouchables on the people who had opposed them. “Dead!” Rahm screamed while plunging a steak knife into a table. ”Nat Landow! Dead! Cliff Jackson! Dead! Bill Schaefer! Dead!” Rahm’s rage-fueled drive later propelled him to a seat in Congress and the position of White House chief of staff under President Obama.

The toughest political fight of Rahmbo’s career though is winning a second term as mayor. Emanuel is facing an April run-off against Jesus “Chuy” Garcia after the failing to secure more than 50 percent of the vote in last month’s Democratic primary.. Among the contentious issues consuming Chicago politics are the mayor’s decision to close several public schools, install controversial red-light cameras, fail to stamp out gun violence and, for some like Ginsberg-Jaeckle, closing of six mental-health clinics.

For years Ginsberg-Jaeckle, Debbie Delgado and other members of the group have been trying to meet with Rahm. First, to convince him not to close the six mental health clinics that were eventually shut down. Then it was to re-open the clinics, which provide services Ginsberg-Jaeckle and Delgado say are badly needed in neighborhoods plagued by violence and poverty. The closures created enemies for the mayor, the members of Mental Health Movement among them.

“I found it to be inappropriate,” said Ronda Locke of Rahm’s response. Locke, a former city council candidate, snapped a photo during the exchange. In her campaign for first ward alderwoman, Locke advocated for keeping the clinics open, but said she attended the meeting Wednesday night only as a resident of the area.

“I thought, initially, he handled it very well,” Locke said of the interruption prompted by Ginsberg-Jaeckle and Delgado. “But as (Rahm) was leaving the room, he said something to the effect of ‘Please excuse my special guests.’

It’s unclear if Rahm was making a play on the word special, or was just being a smart-ass, Locke said. Either way he came off smarmy.

Locke speculated that Rahm’s attempt to put on a smooth public face was the result of a new, more cuddly, campaign strategy. But it just didn’t work very well Wednesday night. And it doesn’t really matter how nice the mayor is in public if, behind closed doors, he’s screaming at people and getting in their faces.

What are you, you thin skinned bastard?  Mr. Mayor 1%?  F@#king Retarded?

(h/t Atrios)

Just another round of Clinton bashing.

Now don’t get me wrong.  There are lots of reasons to not like the Clintons, Bill or Hil, including Bill’s disastrous economic policy and pandering to Republicans and Hillary’s war hawk foreign policy and her Billionaire bootlicking.  They are conservative, Blue Dog, DLC, Third Way Democrats hardly deserving of the party moniker.

But of all the things to get riled about why do the Villagers choose the most petty and technical.  You know, it’s not illegal to get a blowjob, even from someone who is not your wife.  Yeah, it’s pretty skeevy and reprehensible especially given the power relationship between a boss and an intern, but not illegal.

Benghazi?  There is simply no there there.  If someone picked up the phone and called the very second things started going pear shaped there is simply no way the cavalry could have arrived in time to make any difference at all in how dead those people were without breaking the laws of physics which as Scottie points out, “Ya canna do Captain.”

And just so the e-mail scandal.

You see, it’s not even a technical violation of the policy at the time.

Hillary’s emails ‘not technically illegal’

By Julian Hattem, The Hill

03/03/15 04:16 PM EST

Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of a personal email account to conduct official business as secretary of State caused seems to have stayed within the law, experts say.

“What she did was not technically illegal,” said Patrice McDermott, a former National Archives staffer and the head of the Open The Government coalition, a transparency group.

A Clinton spokesman defended the practice as routine and said that the former first lady obeyed “both the letter and spirit of the rules.”

“Like secretaries of State before her, she used her own email account when engaging with any department officials,” spokesman Nick Merrill said in a statement. “For government business, she emailed them on their department accounts, with every expectation they would be retained.”

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that the Obama administration had given “very specific guidance” telling all agencies that staffers should use their official email accounts when conducting official business, and that any business conducted through personal email accounts be “preserved consistent with the Federal Records Act.”

Last November, Obama signed into law a bill requiring government emails dealing with an official matter sent from a personal account to be forwarded to an official email account within 20 days. That law and previous guidance issued by the National Archives have attempted to clarify the rules, but it was never expressly mandated that top-level officials use government-issued accounts.

“There was no prohibition on using a account for official business as long as it was preserved,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Tuesday.

You have no idea how much it bugs me to go on the record supporting Hillary, but it is what it is.

I think I’ll have a nice long shower.


The Breakfast Club (FREAK Out)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgWell, I had hoped for a nice quiet discussion of wave/particle duality again because there are new developments that are worthy of note or perhaps a good chuckle at Homer Simpson predicting the GeV of the Higgs Boson to within experimental error because I’m just a sucker for the intricacies of Quantum Physics, BUT…

The big news of the day is on the technology front and particularly NSA v. Encryption.

Now I’ll take it as a given that you know thanks to Ed Snowden and Thomas Drake and subsequent public testimony that the NSA is obsessed as an organization by collecting every communication you have.  What you may not know is how far back that goal goes and why it compromises all of our security.

Way back in the days of the Big Dog when all we had to worry our pretty little heads about was blowjobs and blue dresses the Internet started gaining steam as a place to buy things.  People were rightly concerned about personal information and credit card numbers falling into the hands of thieves (though I’ll tell you quite frankly that you’re in much more danger from your food server if you’re a bad tipper because they have plenty of time alone with your card to write down all your imprint numbers as well as the ones that are just printed which is sufficient for ruining your credit by telephone, let alone computer).

Anyhow the major Internet Retailers and the companies that served them started demanding an encryption scheme to bolster public confidence that it was safe to buy things.  Thus Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

Even this paltry (and believe me it is, though I recommend the study of The Reichenbach Fall because not everything is complicated and mysterious) level of security was deemed by the NSA “too dangerous for export” so they made an even weaker one with 40 bits of encryption instead of 128 (too hard, my brain hurts) for use overseas.

Well, Moore’s Law and all, and today even 128 bit encryption is somewhat passe and 40 bit can be cracked in 7 hours using Amazon Cloud computers.

The reason this is important is because websites, in order to be compatable globally, are designed to accept ‘export’ keys as valid along with ‘domestic’ keys.  A switch in the site software allows them to be forced into ‘export’ key mode via a third party who is not a valid client and once that is done it’s easy to conduct man-in-the-middle attacks that compromise the connection by appearing as the host site to the client and a valid client to the host.

Now I’ve been very careful to try and make it clear that this is not a bug or a flaw.  The NSA deliberately influenced the design of the standard to make this possible.

Since then there have been new standards adopted that are not subject to this type of spoofing, but adoption inertia being what it is over a third of websites worldwide are vulnerable including the NSA’s.

So what is the solution?  For a user nothing much, browsers are rightly designed to be compatible with as many sites as possible.  If you are paranoid enough you can get software plugins that ‘protect’ you from vulnerable sites, but ‘protect’ in this case means you can’t use them.  Secure browsers like Tor already do this and as I’ve said before what’s notable about them in action is how many things you used to do that you can’t anymore.

For sites there is a minor code fix that won’t allow a third party to force ‘export’ mode and we will see a rush of them implementing it.

What makes it interesting politically is context.  In recent months tech companies have been forced by public demand to implement more secure encryption schemes.  The NSA in turn has been petulantly stamping its feet and holding its breath in a tantrum insisting that these be designed with backdoors that can be accessed by State Spy Services.  They claim that this can be done so that only ‘responsible’ parties acting under the rule of law will have these abilities.

There are at least 2 problems with this.  First, a backdoor is a backdoor and anyone can use it.  It doesn’t care if you’re a White or a Black Hat, it’s just a door.  Second, other governments are demanding the same thing.  Governments like China.  If you’re the NSA it’s pretty hard to make the case that our computer communications should be less secure so that China can spy on them.

In the long run either our Representatives will put a stop to this or Engineers will make it technically impossible.  Mr. Market will be served.  In a positive sign this will happen the NSA was forced to give up crypto restrictions in 2000 because it was ruining the export business of the tech titans.  Given what we are aware of today I don’t think it will be nearly that long before the blowback begins.

FREAK: Another day, another serious SSL security hole

by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, ZDNet

March 3, 2015 — 22:19 GMT

It seemed like such a good idea in the early 90s. Secure-Socket Layer (SSL) encryption was brand new and the National Security Agency (NSA) wanted to make sure that they could read “secured” web traffic by foreign nationals. So, the NSA got Netscape to agree to deploy 40-bit cryptography in its International Edition while saving the more secure 128-bit version for the US version. By 2000, the rules changed and any browser could use higher security SSL. But that old insecure code was still being used and, fifteen years later, it’s come back to bite us.

The Washington Post reported today that cryptographers from IMDEA, a European Union research group; INRIA, a French research company; and Microsoft Research have found out that “They could force browsers to use the old export-grade encryption then crack it over the course of just a few hours. Once cracked, hackers could steal passwords and other personal information and potentially launch a broader attack on the Websites themselves by taking over elements on a page, such as a Facebook ‘Like’ button.”

Nadia Heninger, a University of Pennsylvania cryptographer, told the Post, “This is basically a zombie from the ’90s… I don’t think anybody really realized anybody was still supporting these export suites.”

Heninger, who has been working on cracking the obsolete 40 to 512-bit RSA encryption keys, found that “she could crack the export-grade encryption key in about seven hours, using computers on Amazon Web services.” Once done, this enables hackers to easily make “man-in-the-middle” attacks on the cracked websites.

Guess what? Over a third of “encrypted” websites, according to tests made by University of Michigan researchers J. Alex Halderman and Zakir Durumeric, are open to FREAK attacks. Specifically, OpenSSL and Apple TLS/SSL clients such as the Safari Web browser are vulnerable to FREAK. When using these programs, it’s relatively simple to downgrade their “secure” connections from “strong” RSA to the easy-to-break “export-grade” RSA.

All of this has happened because as Matthew Green, a cryptographer and research professor at Johns Hopkins University, succinctly put it, the NSA made sure that the early “SSL protocol itself was deliberately designed to be broken.”

And, now, it has been. It’s just that it’s now open to being broken by anyone with basic code-breaking smarts and easily available computer resources. The key problem is that OpenSSL and Safari both contain bugs that cause them to accept “RSA export-grade keys even when the client didn’t ask for export-grade RSA.”

Websites, generally speaking only create a single export-grade RSA key per session. They, like Apache with mod_ssl, will then re-use that key until the web server is rebooted. Thus, if you break a site once, chances are you’ve broken into it for days, weeks, even months.

Many of the websites that are “FREAKable” seem to be on Content Delivery Networks (CDN)s such as Akamai. That’s the reason why, for example, the NSA site is vulnerable. Akamai is working on fixing its web servers.

Encryption Backdoors Will Always Turn Around And Bite You In The Ass

by Mike Masnick, Tech Dirt

Wed, Mar 4th 2015 10:50am

As you may have heard, the law enforcement and intelligence communities have been pushing strongly for backdoors in encryption. They talk about ridiculous things like “golden keys,” pretending that it’s somehow possible to create something that only the good guys can use. Many in the security community have been pointing out that this is flat-out impossible. The second you introduce a backdoor, there is no way to say that only “the good guys” can use it.

As if to prove that, an old “golden key” from the 90s came back to bite a whole bunch of the internet this week… including the NSA. Some researchers discovered a problem which is being called FREAK for “Factoring RSA Export Keys.” The background story is fairly involved and complex, but here’s a short version (that leaves out a lot of details): back during the first “cryptowars” when Netscape was creating SSL (mainly to protect the early e-commerce market), the US still considered exporting strong crypto to be a crime. To deal with this, RSA offered “export grade encryption” that was deliberately weak (very, very weak) that could be used abroad. As security researcher Matthew Green explains, in order to deal with the fact that SSL-enabled websites had to deal with both strong crypto and weak “export grade” crypto, — the “golden key” — there was a system that would try to determine which type of encryption to use on each connection. If you were in the US, it should go to strong encryption. Outside the US? Downgrade to “export grade.”

(T)he lesson of the story: backdoors, golden keys, magic surveillance leprechauns, whatever you want to call it create vulnerabilities that will be exploited and not just by the good guys.

Whether it’s creating vulnerabilities that come back to undermine security on the internet decades later, or merely giving cover to foreign nations to undermine strong encryption, backdoors are a terrible idea which should be relegated to the dustbin of history.

The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)

Science News and Blogs

Science Oriented Video

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

On This Day In History March 5

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

March 5 is the 64th day of the year (65th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 301 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1770, a mob of angry colonists gathers at the Customs House in Boston and begins tossing snowballs and rocks at the lone British soldier guarding the building. The protesters opposed the occupation of their city by British troops, who were sent to Boston in 1768 to enforce unpopular taxation measures passed by a British parliament without direct American representation.

The Incident

The event began on King Street, today known as State Street, in the early evening of March 5, in front of Private Hugh White, a British sentry, as he stood duty outside the Custom house. A young wigmaker’s apprentice named Edward Gerrish called out to a British officer, Captain Lieutenant John Goldfinch, that Goldfinch had not paid the bill of Gerrish’s master. Goldfinch had in fact settled his account and ignored the insult. Gerrish departed, but returned a couple of hours later with companions. He continued his complaints, and the civilians began throwing rocks at Goldfinch. Gerrish exchanged insults with Private White, who left his post, challenged the boy, and struck him on the side of the head with a musket. As Gerrish cried in pain, one of his companions, Bartholomew Broaders, began to argue with White. This attracted a larger crowd.

As the evening progressed, the crowd grew larger and more boisterous. The mob grew in size and continued harassing Private White. As bells, which usually signified a fire, rang out from the surrounding steeples, the crowd of Bostonians grew larger and more threatening. Over fifty of the Bostonian townsmen gathered and provoked White and Goldfinch into fight. As the crowd began to get larger, the British soldiers realized that the situation was about to explode. Private White left his sentry box and retreated to the Custom House stairs with his back to a locked door. Nearby, from the Main Guard, the Officer of the Day, Captain Thomas Preston, watched this situation escalate and, according to his account, dispatched a non-commissioned officer and seven or eight soldiers of the 29th Regiment of Foot, with fixed bayonets, to relieve White. He and his subordinate, James Basset, followed soon afterward. Among these soldiers were Corporal William Wemms (apparently the non-commissioned officer mentioned in Preston’s report), Hugh Montgomery, John Carroll, James Hartigan, William McCauley, William Warren and Matthew Kilroy. As this relief column moved forward to the now empty sentry box, the crowd pressed around them. When they reached this point they loaded their muskets and joined with Private White at the custom house stairs. As the crowd, estimated at 300 to 400, pressed about them, they formed a semicircular perimeter.

The crowd continued to harass the soldiers and began to throw snow balls and other small objects at the soldiers. Private Hugh Montgomery was struck down onto the ground by a club wielded by Richard Holmes, a local tavernkeeper. When he recovered to his feet, he fired his musket, later admitting to one of his defense attorneys that he had yelled “Damn you, fire!” It is presumed that Captain Preston would not have told the soldiers to fire, as he was standing in front of the guns, between his men and the crowd of protesters. However, the protesters in the crowd were taunting the soldiers by yelling “Fire”. There was a pause of indefinite length; the soldiers then fired into the crowd. Their uneven bursts hit eleven men. Three Americans – ropemaker Samuel Gray, mariner James Caldwell, and a mixed race sailor named Crispus Attucks – died instantly. Seventeen-year-old Samuel Maverick, struck by a ricocheting musket ball at the back of the crowd, died a few hours later, in the early morning of the next day. Thirty-year-old Irish immigrant Patrick Carr died two weeks later. To keep the peace, the next day royal authorities agreed to remove all troops from the centre of town to a fort on Castle Island in Boston Harbor. On March 27 the soldiers, Captain Preston and four men who were in the Customs House and alleged to have fired shots, were indicted for murder.

The Trial of the Soldiers

At the request of Captain Preston and in the interest that the trial be fair, John Adams, a leading Boston Patriot and future President, took the case defending the British soldiers.

In the trial of the soldiers, which opened November 27, 1770, Adams argued that if the soldiers were endangered by the mob, which he called “a motley rabble of saucy boys, negroes, and molattoes, Irish teagues and outlandish jack tarrs,” they had the legal right to fight back, and so were innocent. If they were provoked but not endangered, he argued, they were at most guilty of manslaughter. The jury agreed with Adams and acquitted six of the soldiers. Two of the soldiers were found guilty of manslaughter because there was overwhelming evidence that they fired directly into the crowd, however Adams invoked Benefit of clergy in their favor: by proving to the judge that they could read by having them read aloud from the Bible, he had their punishment, which would have been a death sentence, reduced to branding of the thumb in open court. The jury’s decisions suggest that they believed the soldiers had felt threatened by the crowd. Patrick Carr, the fifth victim, corroborated this with a deathbed testimony delivered to his doctor.

Three years later in 1773, on the third anniversary of the incident, John Adams made this entry in his diary:

The Part I took in Defence of Cptn. Preston and the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety, and Obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country. Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently. As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right.

“This however is no Reason why the Town should not call the Action of that Night a Massacre, nor is it any Argument in favour of the Governor or Minister, who caused them to be sent here. But it is the strongest Proofs of the Danger of Standing Armies.

Late Night Karaoke

The Daily/Nightly Show (Drugs are bad. Mmmk?)

Shooting Hitler would have done no good and might just have prolonged WW II or (worst case) led to a bad outcome.

One of the defining features of the Third Reich was Hitler’s poor Generalship and the inefficiency of his Administration which were responsible for things like the failure of the initial Soviet invasion (at least arguable, Russia BIG and not particularly wedded to Moscow as a capital so maybe inconclusive even if it is captured), Stalingrad (no arguing on that one), delays in the development and deployment of Jet propulsion, flaws in the allocation of Naval resources to strategic goals (Doenitz never had enough subs in the Battle of the Atlantic), etc.  I mean his Military tried to put together a couple of coups he was so bad.

We’d be living in a different world today if Hitler had been competent.

What’s not arguable is that given the punitive sanctions of the Versailles Treaty and collapse of the economy in the Depression, Germany was a failed state and likely to have fallen under the sway of one Dictator or another, so Hitler didn’t really matter that much.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Virulent anti-Semitism.  Look, virulent anti-Semitism was popular and pervasive throughout Europe so I’m not sure many Jews would have been saved.

Shoot, shiv, or shout?  I’d have shouted a little louder and not at Hitler who was already a hopeless psychotic by 1920, but at the Allied governments about the potential threat of Germany and their own stupid economic and moral (did I mention pervasive anti-Semitism?) policies.

Now, if you’d have shot him after 1942 when the war was clearly lost…

Tonight we talk about marijuana legalization, but probably not about the racism and tobacco and alcohol monopolism that led to its prohibition.  Most likely it will be a bunch of sophomoric stoner jokes.


Admiral Zhao

This Week’s Guests-

Viacheslav Fetisov is one of Russia’s most recognized Hockey players and did several years with the New Jersey Devils and the Detroit Red Wings, returning to the Devils as an Assistant Coach.  He’s one of 4 people to win the “Grand Slam” of Hockey (Stanley Cup, World Ice Hockey Championship, Winter Olympics, World Ice Hockey Junior Championship, and Canada/World Cup Championship).  He was head of the Russian organizing committee for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and currently serves in the Russian Parliament as a Representative from the Vladivostock area.  In 2009 he became president of HC CSKA Moscow and after injuries to many key defensive players took the ice himself at the age of 51 after an 11 year layoff.

The real news below.