Author Archive | Matt Staggs

NSA Exploited Heartbleed Bug for Years

PROBLEM?

PROBLEM?

Bloomberg reports that the NSA used the heartbleed bug to capture sensitive data for at least a couple of years.

Via Bloomberg:

The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.

The NSA’s decision to keep the bug secret in pursuit of national security interests threatens to renew the rancorous debate over the role of the government’s top computer experts.

Heartbleed appears to be one of the biggest glitches in the Internet’s history, a flaw in the basic security of as many as two-thirds of the world’s websites. Its discovery and the creation of a fix by researchers five days ago prompted consumers to change their passwords, the Canadian government to suspend electronic tax filing and computer companies including Cisco Systems Inc.

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No, The Internet Is Not Ruining Your Ability to Read Deeply

PIC: PD

PIC: PD

The Guardian’s Steven Poole turns a critical eye to an alarmist piece that claimed the internet was damaging our ability to digest challenging literature. (An unusual claim given the number of litbloggers online, but I digress…)

Via The Guardian:

As it happens, I value deep reading – and so, perhaps, do you. And so, quite obviously, do all the youngish people I see everyday on London transport reading 700-page printed books such as the Game of Thrones series, 50 Shades of Grey or the new Donna Tartt. Stuart Jeffries has written persuasively about the popularity of such doorstops, as well as complex modern TV series. This might be a culture not of attention deficit but of “a wealth of attention focused more readily on the things that warrant it”.

Of course the internet can be distracting – you’re reading this, after all. It’s true that skimming is tempting, that being overwhelmed with information is in some quarters worn perversely as a badge of pride; and that the request to express the “take-away” (or, as some say, the “tl;dr”) of a lengthy piece of writing bespeaks a philistine data-age instrumentalism, according to which the only possible function of writing is to transmit bite-sized facts.

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Behind the CIA’s Mission to Secretly Retrieve a Soviet Sub From the Bottom of the Ocean

PIC: The Hughes Glomar (PD)

PIC: The Hughes Glomar Explorer (PD)

IO9′s Charles Strauss has written a great overview of Project AZORIAN: The CIA’s covert plan to retrieve a sunken Soviet nuclear submarine. If you’ve never heard about it before, then I think you’ll find this all pretty interesting. Incidentally, I first became aware of it through Charles Stross’s wonderful Cold War spies vs. Cthulhu mythos series The Laundry Files. AZORIAN becomes a major plot point in the second novel The Jennifer Morgue after negotiations between the Deep Ones and the UK government start to fray over the sub’s retrieval.

Anyway, I particularly like the use of the term “Glomarization” in Strauss’s piece:

Via IO9:

The submarine, if recovered, would be a treasure trove for the intelligence community. Not only could U.S. officials examine the design of Soviet nuclear warheads, they could obtain cryptographic equipment that would allow them to decipher Soviet naval codes. And so began Project AZORIAN.

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Satanic Panic History Lessons Continue At BBC and IO9

PIC: AussieGall (CC)

PIC: AussieGall (CC)

A growing number of influential publications have offered their own takes on the 1980s Satanic Panic since the March 21st publication of our history of our own (“Mazes, Monsters, Charlatans, Satan and Suicide: A Short History of the Satanic Panic“). It’s been amazing to see the Panic become the topic du jour, especially at large, popular websites like IO9 and the BBC. All I can say is that there must be something in the air besides pollen and the sweet, minty fresh smell of chemtrails for so many sites to tackle the same, relatively obscure topic in such a short amount of time! Whatever signal is in the air, clearly we’re all receiving it loud and clear. Must be one of those “Hundredth Monkey” things. Good that more people are hearing about the panic, no matter where they hear it from, but cheers to you, Disinfonauts, for getting the story here first.… Read the rest

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Thinking About Becoming Minority Population Leads Whites Toward Conservative Politics

Fear of a black planet?

PIC: PD

PIC: PD

Via the Association for Psychological Science:

Facing the prospect of racial minority groups becoming the overall majority in the United States leads White Americans to lean more toward the conservative end of the political spectrum, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The findings suggest that increased diversity in the United States could actually lead to a wider partisan divide, with more White Americans expressing support for conservative policies.

Psychological scientists Maureen Craig and Jennifer Richeson of Northwestern University noticed a substantial amount of media attention when predictions were made that the “majority-minority” population shift would happen in 2050 or sooner.

“We wondered how this kind of ‘us-vs-them’ framing would be perceived by members of the current majority,” says Craig.

Craig and Richeson first examined data from 369 White participants who had described themselves as politically unaffiliated in a national Pew Research survey.

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Former ‘Best Mom’ Schemed To Have Woman Raped After Losing Bid On Dream Home

PIC: David Smith (CC)

PIC: David Smith (CC)

A woman recognized in 2006 by Time-Warner as one of San Diego’s “50 Best Moms” has a dark side. After losing a bid on what was described as her “dream home”, 52 year-old Kathy Rowe began embarked on a campaign of revenge against the couple who won. Rowe started with minor, annoying pranks like signing the couple up for visits from religious groups, and then escalated into criminal behavior. Rowe came to the attention of the authorities after it was discovered that she had posted ads online in the wife’s name that stated she had a rape fantasy that she wanted to be fulfilled.

The ads encouraged men who were interested to force their way into the home and rape her, and noted that they should ignore her pleas to stop. The ads were accompanied by the woman’s photo and address, and Rowe had very explicit conversations with the men who responded.… Read the rest

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Moroccan Mentally Ill Imprisoned At Mausoleum To Await Cure from ‘Demons’

PIC: (CC)

PIC: (CC)

Being diagnosed with a mental illness is stigmatizing just about anywhere in the world (The United States only got around to forcing insurance companies to cover mental health treatment less than two decades ago.) but some places are worse than others. In Morocco, the belief that the mentally ill and drug addicted are possessed by evil spirits is a fairly common one. The Bouya Omar mausoleum is a particularly heinous last stop for families looking for spiritual cures for their loved ones’ psychiatric illnesses. The residents are chained, beaten, robbed and left to the mercy of a small group of religious acolytes who supposedly run the place.

Via Yahoo! News:

…A thin mist hangs in the air as a handful of troubled souls wander aimlessly around the Bouya Omar mausoleum in central Morocco, the occasional chilling cry rising from behind its walls.

These are Morocco’s “possessed” — from violent schizophrenics to hard drug users — who are believed to be tormented by evil spirits and whose relatives bring them here to await deliverance.

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Priest Charged with Raping and Torturing Schoolteachers During ‘Exorcisms’

Pic: Seal of the SSPX (PD)

Pic: Seal of the SSPX (PD)

An unnamed priest affiliated with the breakaway Catholic sect The Society of St. Pius X has been charged with the 2010 rape and torture of three French schoolteachers during an “exorcism”. Authorities will not name the priest’s name for fear that doing so may identify the victims.

The Society of St. Pius X is a radical traditionalist Catholic splinter group and is not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. Its members, in turn, reject the authority of the Pope. The Society has faced much criticism over the years from people who consider its teachings anti-Semitic and reactionary: Founder Marcel Lefebvre was vocal in his praise of France’s Vichy government and advocacy for the return of absolute monarchy.

Via RT:

Police say the priest raped three women in the autumn of 2010 after he met them at the private religious school Ecole Notre-Dame-de-la Sablonniere in Goussonville, west of Paris, which he was running at the time, according to French media reports.

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How The CIA Used ‘Dr. Zhivago’ As A Cold War Propaganda Tool

PIC: CIA (PD)

PIC: CIA (PD)

Note to self: Convince CIA to serve as book distributor for next Disinformation Company title.

Via Christian Science Monitor:

CIA officials had rave reviews for Boris Pasternak’s classic Russian novel “Doctor Zhivago” — not for its literary merit but as a propaganda weapon in the Cold War, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.
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The US intelligence agency saw the book as a challenge to Communism and a way to make Soviet citizens question why their government was suppressing one of their greatest writers, according to newly declassified CIA documents that detail the agency’s involvement in the book’s printing, the Post said.

The Soviet government had banned the novel and British intelligence first recognized its propaganda value in 1958, sending the CIA two rolls of film of its pages and suggesting it be spread through the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

Keep reading at the Christian Science Monitor.Read the rest

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