Google and Yahoo! privacy measures regularly infiltrated by NSA.


Image representing Edward Snowden as depicted ...

Image by None via CrunchBase

Your Christmas newsletter in Google Docs is now being proofread by NSA contractors

It should come as no surprise that encryption has become a very topical news item which has been appearing with increasing frequency. Yesterday the Washington Post revealed exactly what was going on by publishing these news stories:

The opening line of the first news report says it all:

The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials.

One of the more interesting tidbits from the Washington Post’s story was this item:

In an NSA presentation slide on “Google Cloud Exploitation,” however, a sketch shows where the “Public Internet” meets the internal “Google Cloud” where their data reside. In hand-printed letters, the drawing notes that encryption is “added and removed here!” The artist adds a smiley face, a cheeky celebration of victory over Google security.

Two engineers with close ties to Google exploded in profanity when they saw the drawing. “I hope you publish this,” one of them said.

The question becomes what did Google know and when did they know it. Fortunately the news reports establish a chronology for the events describe by the Washington Post. On or about 2013-09-06 stories began to appear that Google had embarked on an extensive effort to encrypt all the data passing between its datacenters worldwide but there were not too many details as to why other than a distrust of the NSA. Apparently Google had become aware that their networks had been hacked in early September based on these stories which suddenly began to appear about that date.

This was a joint project between the governments of the United States and Great Britain and is clearly illegal under the laws of both nations. This makes Watergate look like a Sunday Social. Clearly corporations need to expand their security perimeters into areas which were previously believed to be secure. All data in motion must be encrypted, even on internal networks!

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Mormonism and American Exceptionalism


As a follow-up to “Why Mormons Make the Best Presidents”, here is my take on why Mormonism and American Exceptionalism go hand-in-hand.

First, you have to understand that Mormons get their name from a man they consider a prophet of God. The man—named Mormon, of course—lived on the American continent between A.D. 321 and A.D. 385. He was the editor and compiler of the ancient scriptural record called “The Book of Mormon”, which he put together as a spiritual record of his fallen people who were destroyed in a bloody internecine war.

And, he did wrote it as a prophetic warning to us for exactly this time in our history. He saw our day in a vision from God and compiled the book according to what he observed in the vision. This book is written for us and we would all do well to read it at least once.

Throughout the Book of Mormon you will find many mentions of how America is an exceptional and special place. The book tells us that it was hidden from the rest of the world as a “promised land” that could only be possessed by those who served “the God of the land”, which is Jesus Christ. The righteous could live there indefinitely while the wicked would be “swept off the face of the land”. It was to be a place of freedom and liberty to those who accept Christ and keep God’s commandments.

Centrally, the record focuses on the visit by the resurrected Christ to “other sheep” whom he said to those in Jerusalem “are not of this fold”. Christ’s appearance to those people resulted in their passing along the experience to their descendants with such conviction that they could not help but have 200 years of peace in that part of the land.

Mormons believe this record is true, even if others do not. It gives us great hope when personal storms arise, or when national tempests, such as this election, threaten to destroy everything. We believe God’s promises to the inhabitants of this land, that if the majority of its inhabitants are faithful and believe in God, they will be free.

So, quite naturally, we Mormons get a little excited when, during the most defining moment in our nation’s history, where we are on the precipice of choosing socialism’s slavery or Constitutional freedom, one of our own, Mitt Romney, is so close to being elected as the President of the United States of America.  We don’t believe Romney is anything more than a man, with liabilities like anyone else might have (and in spite of the disputable, non-doctrinal LDS “White Horse Prophecy”). But, we do have hope that what he was taught in his home and in church settings about this blessed land will have an influence on his term(s) in office, should he be elected.

You see, this election comes down to the answer to a single question: Is America exceptional, or should it be brought down to the level of other nations in the world?

Our current president is on the record as stating that he only believes America is exceptional in the sense that Greeks believe that Greece is exceptional or that the British believe that Britain is exceptional. He finished that thought by saying that “in order for us to work collectively, all parties have to compromise and that includes us.”

The present occupant of the White House believes that America needs to compromise its values and principles to conform to the notions of governance that other nations adhere to. This presumably (because of his choice of the word “collectively”) includes implementing, under pressure or threat by other nations, principles of Socialism and Communism into the American experiment.

Mormons don’t vote in a bloc. Believe it or not, we’re not all white Republicans and we don’t all vote straight ticket conservative. There are Mormons who subscribe to the Democrat party platform, the Libertarian party, the Constitution party, and just about every other type of party. There are even Mormons who subscribe to the principles of the Communist party (however misguided that association might be). The Church is politically neutral, allows its members to vote privately for whomever the individual wishes, and does not discipline or excommunicate people on the basis of their political beliefs.

However, it is undeniable that the majority of American Mormons do vote in line with conservative principles (if not always on party lines). That is because, by and large, the principles found in their scriptures and revealed doctrines are overwhelmingly conservative in contrast to the increasingly permissive and “progressive” worldview promulgated by American popular culture.

As might be expected of a church that was founded in America, Mormons believe strongly in the First Amendment guarantee to worship freely.

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

In our meetings, whenever the subject of discussion is what we call “free agency” (the unalienable right of every person to choose his own path in life), we often reflect with gratitude on the blessings of liberty granted to us under the Constitution. We remark on the many miracles that accompanied the founding of this nation and we marvel at how undeniably God’s Hand was in all of it.

When we pray, we thank God that we live in a country and political system where we are (still) free to worship and establish Christ’s Kingdom. We pray for our troops, who protect us, and we pray that our leaders, from the local to the federal level, will be inspired with wisdom and righteousness so that the country can prosper.

We pray this way because we take seriously the warnings left to us in the Book of Mormon. Here is the summarized list of those warnings.

  • We are to watch our leaders for their participation in “secret combinations” (lies, frauds, and conspiracies) and not let such things “get above” us or escape our notice. Apathy is the enemy of freedom.
  • We are to defend our lands, our families, and our freedom to worship, and to prioritize personal and national sovereignty and its defense so as to avoid physical slavery at the hands of those seeking power over mankind.
  • We are to avoid contentions and internal strife so that we will not be weak upon enemy attack. We are to be united in righteousness.

Because these concepts are threaded throughout the entire book, thus making it particularly difficult to adequately call out properly contextualized examples, and because it is partially my goal to encourage more people to read this uniquely pro-American book of scripture, I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to find these treasures of wisdom. You can start here with the story of a family who, seeking to escape societal collapse and Babylonian captivity, fled Jerusalem near 600 B.C. and were led to America’s promised lands.

In closing, I leave you with the following video montage to help encapsulate the concept of “free agency” as it is understood by Mormons.

Are these not the very principles upon which America was founded? Is not American exceptionalism, at its root, a belief that rights come from God, and not from government? Is that not worth fighting for with every vote and with every conversation we have between now and Election Day?

Any questions? Just ask me in the comments, or on Twitter @proud2b4family.

Please think about what you’ve read here as you cast your ballot on Tuesday.

Secret Service scandal reveals more about Obama’s character than it does about the Secret Service


United States Secret Service EOC COOP Desk
United States Secret Service EOC COOP Desk (Photo credit: martymadrid)

You can learn a lot about the king by watching the king’s guards.

via Secret Service scandal broadens; more military personnel might have been involved in misconduct.

Three comments and then I believe nothing more needs be said by me that would add any substance:

1. Haven’t these Secret Service officers ever seen a James Bond film? The girl is always going to bring you more trouble than you bargained for.

2. Would any of this have happened under GWB’s presidency? I know it didn’t only because the left-stream media would have been all over that.

3. Obama has only himself to blame. The most narcissistic president in United States history has ridden into the White House with the support of acolytes, enablers, and puppetmasters whose political culture requires them to navel-gazingly reject decency and traditional moral values at every turn. I suppose it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to find that this toxic culture has seeped even into the ranks of the President’s closest protectors.

Delta Airlines: A link between tolerance of in-flight porn and private sponsorship of extra-security feel-ups?


Two disturbing incidents involving Delta Airlines converge today on this blog.

English: Arrival Gate of Kotoka International ...

Arrival Gate of Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana

Story One: Delta sponsors additional, needless security checks just because they can.

My family and I traveled to Ghana last June to meet a boy we were working to adopt. The only reason I haven’t told this story until now is that we wanted our adoption, and his citizenship, to be complete before rocking the boat in Ghana, especially with their airport. Now that he is home and officially ours, I feel more free to speak out about this incident.

First, a description of the first layer of security at Accra. After our visit with our son-to-be, we went to the airport for our flight home. Keep in mind that Accra airport security is much better than anything you’ll see here in the United States because it was a launching point for the Underwear Bomber‘s failed attempt to bring down an airplane over Detroit. We had been in Ghana just prior to that attempt and so we have perspective on what security used to be compared to what it is now. It is markedly different and much more secure.

At several checkpoints as you enter the airport, get your boarding passes, check your luggage, etc., there are security guards who actually look you in the eye, and several ask to see your passport, then interrogate you on your travel intentions. You could tell they were profiling. They were actively looking for tell-tale body language that would out someone as not being completely honest about where they were going, what they were carrying, and their return plans.

Next you go through the usual metal detector routine. In my case, one of my bags (my work backpack) had a metal dining fork in one of the pockets from a week prior when I had forgotten to take it out at home after eating lunch at my desk that day. Now, I’m in Accra going to the U.S. so it is now obvious to all that U.S. security completely missed the fork and let me sail on through security with it. Only in Accra…a 3rd world country…did security detect this potentially dangerous object.

And its discovery was not pretty. Two or three other guards converged on the bag and began to interrogate me as to why I had this potentially dangerous object in my bag. I finally convinced them it was an honest mistake and told them to keep it.

SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 12:  Delta Airlines lu...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

This time, the pat-down was even more invasive than the first. They didn’t use the metal detector wands on us at all. Just went straight for the pat-down. They did things to me, my wife, and my kids that, if a stranger outside of a security context had tried, I would have sent him to his Maker for doing.Finally through security, invasive pat-downs and all, we walked through the corridors past various shops to our waiting area for our flight. The waiting area is a sealed off, 3/4 glass room with Delta logos on the fourth and only solid wall inside. At the entrance was another checkpoint complete with metal detectors, guards holding metal detecting wands, and another pat-down. I commented to my wife, “What could they possibly be securing at this point? There were no other entrances that I could see that would compromise security in the last 40 meters. Why do they need to check us twice?”

The rest was a blur. We took our seats, embarrassed and nervous for what we’d gone through again–at a second security checkpoint and wondering if we were in for a third nasty experience. Out of indignation, I grabbed my handheld video camera and made the following video, which pretty much speaks for itself.

(Note: I use very strong words to describe how we felt about this experience. There is no small amount of debate on whether invasive, extreme pat-downs and rape can be equated to each other. What I do know is that, to my wife, my kids, and me, it felt like a violation, which word is often used to describe rape. I’m not here to debate semantics, just to describe how it affected us personally.)

English: TSA insignia

Image via Wikipedia

Unfortunately, I was not able to capture video of my second confrontation with a different agent. As I found out from this second agent, who was a security consultant, privately hired by Delta to manage this checkpoint, my initial understanding of how things worked in the Accra airport was mistaken. I had assumed that the two checkpoints were purely Ghana and TSA operated. As explained to me by the second agent, though, all of the second checkpoint was 100% Delta sponsored and mandated, using TSA guidelines as their approach to security, but that they were not under obligation by the TSA or by Accra airport to provide it. His claim was that Delta was simply ensuring the safety of their passengers in an airport they didn’t consider safe.

I disagree.

Story Two: Anti-Pornography advocate on a Delta flight gets an eyeful of passenger’s violent kiddie-porn. Crew does nothing.

Are you, dear reader, okay with either of these situations?

I’m not.

Why not rig our drones to explode?


“We all feel drunk [with happiness] now,” says the Iranian engineer. “Have you ever had a new laptop? Imagine that excitement multiplied many-fold.” When the Revolutionary Guard first recovered the drone, they were aware it might be rigged to self-destruct, but they “were so excited they could not stay away.”

via Exclusive: Iran hijacked US drone, says Iranian engineer – CSMonitor.com.

Iran is definitely working on electronic warfare techniques. EMP attacks are certainly on their list of things to experiment with and possibly deploy against the U.S.

Also, why don’t we have a self-destruct sequence that kicks in whenever our drones land? Even if the GPS data is faulty, a failsafe might be a timer rigged to wait for an encrypted broadcast that it is indeed unique to friendly forces. If it doesn’t hear that, it just explodes.

Is that really so hard? Maybe it is. What do you think?

Blinded by the LightSquared: Obama’s revved up for another pay-for-play scandal


lightsquared.spectrum2
Image by sam_churchill via Flickr

First it was Operation Gun Runner (a.k.a. Fast and Furious), then it was Solyndra, and now a rotten deal with LightSquared that has extremely dangerous implication for national defense, general and commercial aviation, and, of course, finding the closest Starbucks. Most people will really only care if that last one becomes a problem.

Now the Pentagon has been raising concerns about a new wireless project by a satellite broadband company in Virginia called LightSquared, whose majority owner is an investment fund run by Democratic donor Philip Falcone. [Air Force] Gen. [William] Shelton was originally scheduled to testify Aug. 3 to a House committee that the project would interfere with the military’s sensitive Global Positioning Satellite capabilities, which control automated driving directions and missile targeting, among other things.

According to officials familiar with the situation, Shelton’s prepared testimony was leaked in advance to the company. And the White House asked the general to alter the testimony to add two points: that the general supported the White House policy to add more broadband for commercial use; and that the Pentagon would try to resolve the questions around LightSquared with testing in just 90 days. Shelton chafed at the intervention, which seemed to soften the Pentagon’s position and might be viewed as helping the company as it tries to get the project launched, the officials said.

via Michelle Malkin » LightSquared: The next Obama pay-for-play morass?.

I never want to hear another Progressive friend or acquaintance hurl that old canard about how only Republicans are corporate prostitutes. As screenwriter Robert Towne astutely put it, “Of course I’m respectable. I’m old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.”  Except Obama’s missing out on the “respectable” part as he nears the end of his first term. And his reign might just be cut too short to get respectability.

Review & Outlook: The Road to a Downgrade – WSJ.com


Folks, I just can’t say it any better than this.

Review & Outlook: The Road to a Downgrade – WSJ.com.

Then came Mr. Obama, arguably the most spendthrift president in history. He inherited a recession and responded by blowing up the U.S. balance sheet. Spending as a share of GDP in the last three years is higher than at any time since 1946. In three years the debt has increased by more than $4 trillion thanks to stimulus, cash for clunkers, mortgage modification programs, 99 weeks of jobless benefits, record expansions in Medicaid, and more.

The forecast is for $8 trillion to $10 trillion more in red ink through 2021. Mr. Obama hinted in a press conference earlier this month that if it weren’t for Republicans, he’d want another stimulus. Scary thought: None of this includes the ObamaCare entitlement that will place 30 million more Americans on government health rolls.

 

Let’s put it this way. If you have a chunk of money to invest, or at least keep from losing, who are you going to trust? The financial experts with skin in the game at WSJ, or the Obama sycophants at HuffyPost?