My FDL
User Picture

Embarrassing the USA: Contrast Corporate MSM Coverage of ISIS in Iraq With Gaza

By: TuffsNotEnuff Thursday July 31, 2014 6:44 pm
ISIS flag

Corporate media pretend that ISIS got there on their own.

The obvious omissions with corporate MSM start with their failures to criticize years and years of ignorant Republican policy statements. “Arm the Syrian rebels” has been Republican dogma since 2010. They all want a piece of this issue, fantasizing that they will be the next Senator Bob Dole getting an extra $100-million in materials for the Afghan rebels (from back in 1978 for the war against Russia.)

White House actions have gone to budget talk. $500-million in talk. A proposal to spend more to train and equip anti-ISIS-anti-Assad “rebels.” But little for action. Really, nothing.

[In Gaza Terry Moran rode in an IDF armored car into Gaza. We get first-person eye witness reporting.]

No one on the Democratic side claims that President Obama is going to put tanks and missiles and artillery up for grabs inside Syria. Enough already. About a tenth of George Bush’s gifts of military hardware to Iraq have gone over to ISIS. We don’t need to do more of that in Syria.

The GOP’s heavyweights have lined up for years, demanding that the U.S. send heavy weapons to their friends, the anti-Assad “Moderate Rebels.” They think they invented that phrase “Moderate Rebel.” They continue to claim, today, that the majority of anti-Assad Syrians fit the label.

Unfortunately for the GOP there is no evidence that these “Moderate Rebels” exist in-country among the Syrian Arabs.

WSJ and the CIA

The closest to that description in Syria is local militia in northwest Syria and the Kurds in three border areas. There’s also a couple dozen middle-aged Sunni Syrian guys taking CIA money and living in Turkey. There’s enough of a Sunni Front going to make a photo op for John McCain. Not enough of a force to control a city, or even a village when you get away from the Turkish border.

Another tag “Free Syrian Army” has circulated in the West. That existed briefly, serving as a way station for Sunni soldiers coming out of the Syrian Army, which is now a Shia force with support from Hezb Allah and the Iranian Qods Force.

McCain & buds

McCain with FSA and ISIS fighters.

Plain fact: there is no “Third Way” inside Syria.

“Free Syrian Army” units in central and eastern Syria went over to the Islamists in 2012. Iran’s Qods Force sent a full commando battalion to Damascus, in 2012, at which point the most of FSA that remained active melted into the Islamist ISIS and JTND organizations.

At worst the Big Republicans get used by Salafi terrorists. The guy on McCain’s far left is Mouaz Moustafa. He supported Hamas during the Egyptian Arab Spring and has ties to the political wing of the Arab Brotherhood. Her also turned up in Libya. It is possible that CIA considers Moustafa an asset. If so, this would not be their first blunder.

McCain and the GOP got their notion of Moderate Rebels from a Moustafa confederate named “Dr.” Elizabeth O’Bagy. She is the gal who got fired from WSJ for a claim that she had a Ph.D. from Georgetown University.

O’Bagy works for an operation called the Syrian Emergency Task Force. SETF gets its money from the Syrian rebels in Turkey. They get their money from the CIA. That’s the CIA who have their own standards where it comes to perpetrating disinformation inside the United States. “Contrary to many media accounts, the war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al-Qaida die-hards,” — the baggy-pants Party Line. That is what O’Bagy wrote for WSJ (August 30, 2013); McCain and our benighted SoS John Kerry have quoted her.

 

Documents: Cheniere Fuels ALEC’s New Push for Fracked Gas Exports

By: Steve Horn Thursday July 31, 2014 7:18 pm

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Two LNG storage tanks, one labelled with Cheniere logo

Cheniere is pushing ALEC to encourage exporting of fracked gas.

Today, legislative and lobbyist members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) voted on model legislation promoting both exports of gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG).

Dubbed a “corporate bill mill” by its critics, ALEC is heavily engaged in a state-level effort to attack renewable energy and grease the skids for exports of U.S. oil and gas. Today’s bills up for a vote — as conveyed in an ALEC mailer sent out on June 25 by ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force — are titled “Resolution In Support of Expanded Liquefied Natural Gas Exports“ and “Weights and Measures and Standards for Dispensing CNG and LNG Motor Fuels.”

An exclusive investigation conducted by DeSmogBlog reveals that Cheniere — the first U.S. company to receive a final liquefied natural gas (LNG) export permit by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) — has acted as the lead corporate backer of the LNG exports model resolution.

Further, Clean Energy Fuels Corporation, owned by energy baron T. Boone Pickens, of Pickens Plan fame, and trade associations it is a member of, served as the main pusher of the CNG model resolution.

ALEC has served as a key vehicle through which the fracking industry has curried favor and pushed for policies favorable to their bottom lines in statehouses nationwide. Now ALEC and its corporate backers have upped the ante, pushing policies that will lock in downstream demand for fracked gas for years to come.

With Cheniere becoming an ALEC dues-paying member in May 2013 and with America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) — the fracking industry’s tour de force — crowned an ALEC member in August 2013, it looks like many more fracking-friendly model bills could arise out of ALEC in the months and years ahead.

According to a document obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy, top ALEC 2014 Annual Meeting sponsors in Dallas include ANGA, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Devon Energy, and TransCanada, among others.

LNG exports will serve as the focus for part one of this series, while CNG vehicles will serve as the focus for part two.

“LNG Day”

The genesis of the Cheniere-backed model bill is tied to a March 26 “LNG Day” reception put together in Baton Rouge, La. on March 26 by the influential lobbying firm, The Picard Group.

“LNG Day gives Legislators the opportunity to learn more about the benefits of natural gas,” exclaimed a press release featuring a photo of the event taken by Dawn Cole of The Picard Group. “Attendance was great and the day was successful.”

That release was disseminated by the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, of which Cheniere is a member. Among The Picard Group’s clients: Cheniere, which it is registered to lobby for in Louisiana.

Emails obtained by DeSmogBlog under Louisiana Public Records Act reveal that Laura MacDiarmid, who works as a government and environmental affairs analyst for Cheniere, was copied on email outreach by The Picard Group to Louisiana state representatives inviting them to participate in LNG Day.

Further, “Our Energy Moment“ — the gas industry-funded propaganda campaign promoting LNG exports — put out a release of its own promoting “LNG Day.”

That release featured a quote from Jason French, listed only as a “spokesperson for the Our Energy Moment coalition” in the release. In reality, French serves as director of government and public affairs for Cheniere.

French wrote an article published in the July/August 2013 edition of “Inside ALEC” titled, “LNG Exports – A Story of American Innovation and Economic Opportunity” and also gave a presentation on LNG exports at ALEC’s 2013 Annual Meeting held in Chicago, Ill.

Via email, French confirmed with DeSmogBlog that he will also be giving a presentation at this year’s ALEC meeting in Dallas on LNG exports immediately before the model resolution promoting them receives a vote by ALEC member legislators and corporate lobbyists.

LNG Day, though, was more than a gas industry-manufactured media event. Out of it arose House Concurrent Resolution 29, co-sponsored by Speaker of The House, Rep. Chuck Kleckley and Sen. John A. Alario, Jr. (an ALEC member).

Alario, Jr. has taken significant campaign money from LNG exporters, such as ExxonMobil, Energy Transfer Partners and Sempra.

After HCR 29 passed the House under suspended rules, it also passed unanimously in a 36-0 vote in the Senate on March 25. The next evening after the lights went off on the day-time LNG Day festivities, lobbyists and legislators convened for a corporate-sponsored reception at the Jimmie Davis House.

Among the sponsors — a copy of the invitation obtained via Louisiana Public Records Act shows — were those set to benefit most from a policy of plentiful LNG exports: the frackers and the LNG exporters, such as Chesapeake Energy, ANGA, Our Energy Moment, Cheniere, Trunkline LNG, Magnolia LNG and Sempra LNG and others.

Guessing at Numbers and Figures

The language found within HCR 29 mirrors that found within the ALEC model resolution.

Should Israel Teach the Holocaust Less?

By: David Swanson Thursday June 9, 2011 5:35 pm

Humans almost invariably imagine humans to be far more imaginative and original than they are. But most of our ideas come from (often imperfect and improvised) imitation. And even more powerful than our tendency to imitate is our inability to refrain from imitating, to shake an idea out of our heads once it’s there, to “not think of an elephant.”

An Israeli High School

Does an emphasis on teaching the holocaust lead to Israel’s violence?

Anthropologists have found cultures whose members cannot conceive of killing. “Why won’t you shoot an arrow at those slave raiders?” “Because it would kill them.”

In Western culture, children hear of killing in fairy tales, cartoons, Harry Potter books, video games, the TV news, the newspaper, the games played in the park. It’s everywhere. Usually it’s frowned upon, although often a distinction is made between bad killing by bad guys and good killing by good guys, or inexplicable random killing and killing justified and sanctified by bitter revenge.

But even when a behavior is frowned upon, the listener or viewer has now heard of that behavior. There have been studies of children’s responses to stories and television dramas in which fictional children misbehave for three-quarters of the episode and then learn an important moral lesson at the end. Guess what? Kids don’t retroactively view the whole story as a package and wipe the bad behavior out of their minds. Instead they display a tendency to try out the behavior demonstrated to them in so many of the isolated moments that they lived while watching or listening to the story.

Humans also almost invariably imagine humans to be far kinder and far more selfless than they are. Most of us very much want others to be kind to us, and we try our best to be kind to others. So, when we see behaviors and institutions that cause horrendous suffering, we like to imagine there is a rational cause, a greater good, or that the explanation is incompetence or stupidity — anything other than the most obvious explanation: vicious, evil sadism.

We are often encouraged to picture vicious cruelty and irrational evil in certain foreign groups of humans. But usually this perspective is intended to help us avoid seeing cruelty in those who are supposedly like ourselves.

These thoughts arise as I’m confronted by the polling showing that 95% of Israelis deem the slaughter of Gazans to be just, and the realization that for many in Israel “just” is a rather disgusting euphemism for “satisfyingly sadistic.” People are sitting on hills watching the missiles hit the homes, some of them telling cameras they want everyone killed, and then explaining that their thoughts are “a little bit fascist.”

This week we’ll be remembering Harry Truman’s bombing of Japan with nuclear weapons, and we’ll be told that he must have believed those acts of mass murder would help end the war, even though the evidence shows he knew otherwise. Truman had earlier advocated aiding the Russians or the Germans, whoever was losing, so that as many people as possible would die, he said. Top U.S. military officials wanted Japan cleansed of all human life. The most likely explanation for the nukes, namely that Truman viewed killing lots of Japanese as an advantage to be weighed along with impressing the Russians and so forth, is too ugly, so we turn away. We even have to turn away from his own statement on the occasion, which justified the bombing in terms of revenge, not in terms of ending the war.

Also this week we’ll mark 50 years since the Gulf of Tonkin fraud. We like to imagine such incidents, even when they result in the deaths of 4 million foreigners, as misunderstandings. But during the course of the savagery that followed, how was progress gauged? That’s right: by body counts.

Examples of evil policies, in one’s own or other parts of the world, flood in the moment you begin to look for them. The evidence is clear that locking kids up in juvenile prisons makes them more likely, not less likely, to grow into criminals. But we just go on locking them up for other motives we don’t care to examine too closely. We’ve learned what it’s impolite to mention. Support for wars in Afghanistan or Iraq is discussed on television in terms of “strategic interests” and other such blather, but the counter-demonstrators across the street from a peace rally sometimes have different desires, including the death of foreigners — and of the peace activists with them.

Courageous peace activists in Israel have been facing hostile counter-demonstrations from those in their society who have moved in a different direction.

Governor Walker’s Guidance Gives Hints of What’s to come in Wisconsin’s Next Budget

By: WI Budget Project Thursday July 31, 2014 9:45 am
Gov Scott Walker

Walker’s budget guidelines show more austerity on the way in Wisconsin.

Governor Walker has given state agencies guidance on how to develop their proposals for Wisconsin’s next budget, giving some glimpses into what the state’s 2015-17 budget might bring.

Wisconsin has a two-year budget. The budget process starts in the summer of even numbered years – like now — when the Governor instructs agencies in how to develop budget requests. Agencies submit their requests to the executive branch by September 15, and the Governor takes the requests into consideration when developing his own budget proposal to submit to the Legislature. The Governor is expected to release his budget proposal in the early part of 2015. For more about the Wisconsin state budget cycle, check the Wisconsin Budget Project’s Budget Toolkit.

For the upcoming budget, Governor Walker recently instructed agencies to assume there will be zero growth in General Purpose Revenue (GPR) appropriations in each fiscal year. In other words, he wants agencies to submit budget requests that are not any higher their budgets were two years ago, even though inflation and other factors have pushed costs up.

The Governor does carve out some exceptions to his zero-growth policy, including ones for:

  • State support for K-12 schools. An increase for schools could help ease some of the very deep cuts that Wisconsin has made in education funding. The state budget provided 15% less resources per student in 2014 than in 2008. Only six states made deeper cuts to education over this period.
  • Entitlement and related assistance programs in the Department of Health Services, including Medicaid. Medicaid, like other entitlements, has routinely been exempted from spending freezes because there is typically growth in caseloads and increases in the cost per participant. Another factor in boosting Medicaid spending in the next budget is the much higher than expected enrollment of childless adults in recent months, which will create a large shortfall in the BadgerCare budget (unless state policymakers reconsider their decision to reject federal funding that would pay the full cost of newly eligible adults). Of course, just because there isn’t a hard spending freeze doesn’t mean that DHS and the Governor won’t propose policy changes to reduce costs.
  • State-level efforts to make sure children are safe in their own homes, or placed in safe foster or adoptive homes. This effort includes the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, which is run by the state, and has been in the news recently for caseload backlogs and high turnover of employees.
  • Employment services for people with disabilities. In the last budget, Wisconsin did not provide the state funding for these services at the level necessary to receive the full federal matching amount. Later in 2013, the legislature backtracked and provided additional state funding, thereby maximizing the federal match for these services. The inclusion of these services on the list of programs exempted from the zero-growth policy may mean that  this time around, the Governor favors providing the full amount of state match for the federal dollars in the budget; and
  • Basic cost-to-continue needs for the state’s institutions at the Department of Corrections and the Department of Health Services.

The Governor’s budget instructions also note that “the state has a goal of increasing the ongoing receipt of federal funds where the use of federal funding is consistent with state program goals.” This is an interesting choice of words, given that the Walker administration has made several high-profile decisions to turn down federal money, including funding for improving BadgerCare and for building a high-speed rail line.

by Tamarine Cornelius

One Call To SBA’s Terry Sutherland Could Lead To A Pulitzer Prize

By: Lloyd Chapman
Portrait of Terry Sutherland

Journalists: Call Terry Sutherland for a chance to win valuable prizes.

You think stories about the Small Business Administration (SBA) are beneath you and trivial. Would a story about over a trillion dollars in federal contracting fraud that involves every federal agency and the Pentagon’s largest prime contractors interest you? I suggest you take five minutes and make one phone call and see what happens.

Call Terry Sutherland at the Small Business Administration Press Office and ask him if the SBA is including any Fortune 500 firms or their subsidiaries in the SBA’s latest small business contracting statistics. See what happens.

See if you can just call Terry Sutherland up and get him to answer questions on why the SBA has included billions of dollars in federal contracts to Fortune 500 firms in their small business contracting data every year since 2000.

See if you can just give him a call and talk with him without having to make an appointment with him and several people all at once on a conference call. (They love those conference calls) Tell him you just want to talk to him one on one. See what happens.

If I’m just a conspiracy nut like the SBA has been telling journalist for over a decade there shouldn’t be any problem getting Terry Sutherland to answer extemporaneous questions on why Fortune 500 firms have been receiving billions of dollars in federal small business contracts for 15 years.

Listen to him tell you it’s the result of miscoding, anomalies, computer glitches and simple human error. Then ask him why these random errors always divert federal business contracts to Fortune 500 firms and other large businesses and never the other way around.

Random, unintentional errors would have a random pattern of distribution like flipping a coin. Heads or tails or in the case of federal contracting, big or small. Ask him to explain why for every billion dollars in federal contracts to a large business that was miscoded as a small business contract there isn’t a billion dollars in contracts to small businesses that have been miscoded as large business contracts.

Ask him why according to the latest data from the Federal Procurement Data System, 175 Fortune 500 firms received small businesses contracts in FY 2013.

When he tells you it’s the result of big companies purchasing small ones, remind him under federal law that as soon as a big business buys a small one that firms is legally no longer a small business.

Ask Terry Sutherland if he will release all his phone records and emails. See what happens. Ask Terry Sutherland why the SBA Office of Inspector General has named the diversion of federal small business contracts to large businesses as the number one problem at the SBA every year since 2005 and yet the SBA has never even proposed any policies to stop it.

Ask Terry Sutherland why the SBA is now taking public comment on a new SBA policy that will create a “safe harbor from fraud penalties” for large businesses that have misrepresented themselves as small businesses and illegally landed federal small business contracts.

When he gives you some baloney about protecting firms that have “acted in good faith” ask him if the SBA Office of Inspector General has ever issued a report that found too many firms that “acted in good faith” were being prosecuted for contracting fraud.

The SBA has vehemently denied there is any fraud in federal small business contracting since 2002. Ask Terry Sutherland why the SBA is taking public comment on a policy to create a “safe harbor” for fraud when they have consistently denied any evidence of fraud in federal small business contracting.

When you see the reaction to some of these questions you might begin to wonder what is really going on here. You might even ask yourself why one of the Pentagon’s most senior spokesmen suddenly showed up at the teeny tiny Small Business Administration. Ask him how he went from handling issues like the possibility of a nuclear missile strike on the U.S. by China to miscoding and anomalies at the SBA.

When Terry wants to talk to you off the record, say no. When he starts trash talking me tell him you are not interested in talking about Lloyd Chapman. Tell him you just want to stick to the facts and leave me out of it. Do me a favor, when he starts trash talking me, ask him how he feels as a veteran about the Government Accountability Office essentially accusing the SBA of encouraging fraud in the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business program in GAO Reports 10-108 and DOD OIG Report DODIG-2012-059. Imagine the color draining from his face as he nervously begins looking at his watch.

Gaza Conflict: 72-Hour Ceasefire Fails; 1451 Palestinians, 59 Israelis Dead

By: fairleft Monday May 30, 2011 8:24 am

According to Al Jazeera, “Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip, Sami Abu Zuhri, tells AJE that Hamas and all factions in Gaza agree to the United Nations ceasefire for 72 hours starting from 05GMT [midnight ET], as long as the other side abides to it.” Earlier: “UN and US say humanitarian truce in Gaza has been agreed by all sides as Israeli and Palestinian delegations on way to Cairo.” You can read more here.

As for the casualties:

At least 1,441 Palestinians have been killed, three-quarters of them civilians, since hostilities began on July 8, according to Gaza health officials — surpassing the at least 1,410 Palestinians killed in 2009, according to Palestinian rights groups.

Israel says 56 soldiers, two Israeli civilians and a Thai agricultural worker have died — also far more than the 13 Israeli deaths in the previous campaign.

As I’ve done in earlier posts, I’ve added the ten Palestinians that Israel killed in West Bank Gaza-solidarity protests. Gaza’s emergency services reports more than 8,100 wounded in Gaza during the conflict/assault/massacre.

By the way, about those “terror tunnels,” hyped by the U.S. mainstream media in coordination with Israel’s propaganda services:

Media Hype and Gaza’s ‘Terror’ Tunnels
By Peter Hart
July 29, 2014

Coincidentally or not, there’s been a noticeable increase in media attention to the tunnels in Gaza, many of which lead to Israel and are used by Hamas militants for attacks. The Israeli government has said that destroying the tunnels is one of the rationales for the war.

… the only thing missing from these nightmarish scenarios of terrorists emerging from the ground to kill innocents is any evidence that anything like this has ever happened. The Times story quotes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying the ‘sole purpose’ of the tunnels ‘is the destruction of our civilians and the killing of our children.’ But have there been any such attacks?

Journalist and media critic Greg Mitchell has posed this question on his blog (Pressing Issues, 7/29/14), where he reports that CNN’s Jake Tapper responded to his queries on Twitter by noting that all of the the tunnel deaths he was aware of have been Israeli military.

Palestinian deaths, military and civilian (Intercept) Glenn Greenwald (Intercept, 7/29/14) notes that Israel –- often credited in US media with taking great care to avoid civilian casualties -– has actually killed three noncombatant for every ‘militant.’ Meanwhile, only 5 percent of the much smaller number of deaths caused by Palestinian fighters have been civilians, even though Hamas’s disregard for innocent life is taken for granted by US journalists.

Over Easy: Watching You, Watching Me!

By: msmolly

Flickr - law keven - Watching you...watching me....

Watching you…watching me…

I’ve posted here at Over Easy about companies that track our travels on the Web to display ads customized to our interests. They often use cookies, so if you price out an upscale cruise or golf club on one site, ads for cruises or golf clubs follow you around the Web. There are other tracking tools, too, and it is a running battle to stay ahead of them. They’re getting even more intrusive and personal, and it is unsettling to comprehend their reach.

More and more online marketers attempt to track us offline too, by collecting data about our daily lives and habits. According to a fascinating Wall Street Journal investigation, one of the fastest-growing businesses on the Internet is the business of spying on consumers. NOTE: To avoid the paywall to the WSJ article, Google “The Web’s New Gold Mine” and click on the link to the article, which should be the top hit. (Also see the note at the end of this post.) LATE DAY UPDATE: The article no longer can be accessed via Google as I described. It is now thoroughly locked down. Sorry!

Here’s but one way this works — there are many others as the technology gets more sophisticated.

  • A retailer collects the email addresses of its customers. It’s why stores keep asking for our email, and sometimes offer a small freebie to entice us to provide it. They especially like to get email addresses of their big spending customers.
  • A digital marketing firm locates customers online when they use their email address to log into a website that has a relationship with the marketing firm. This website allows the firm to put a tracker — a long string of letters and numbers — on the the customer’s computer.
  • When the customer goes online to the retailer’s website, they see a customized version of the site that shows offerings especially tailored for their (high-spending) interests.

Tracking people using their real names is known as “onboarding,” and it’s not used only for retail activity. (“Onboarding” is more commonly a term for integrating a newly hired employee into a work environment. In this context it is data onboarding.) According to LiveRamp, a major provider of data onboarding recently purchased by our old friend Acxiom (remember them??),

Our customers send us large ‘offline’ datasets of user records for us to deliver anonymized versions of these records to an ‘online’ destination, such as an ad network or data management platform. By ‘online,’ we mean that the data record is anonymized and associated with a browser or device, enabling the customer to run ad campaigns that retarget their audience, or to measure offline conversions in response to an online campaign.

In 2012, ProPublica documented how Microsoft and Yahoo sell politicians access to us. Back then, Google and Facebook told ProPublica they don’t offer these political matching services. But since then, Facebook and Twitter started offering onboarding services that allow advertisers (presumably including politicians) to find their customers online.

Another firm in the “onboarding” space is Lotame. According to the WSJ investigation, this is how it works:

Hidden inside Ashley Hayes-Beaty’s computer, a tiny file helps gather personal details about her, all to be put up for sale for a tenth of a penny.

The file consists of a single code— 4c812db292272995e5416a323e79bd37—that secretly identifies her as a 26-year-old female in Nashville, Tenn.

The code knows that her favorite movies include ‘The Princess Bride,’ ’50 First Dates’ and ’10 Things I Hate About You.’ It knows she enjoys the ‘Sex and the City’ series. It knows she browses entertainment news and likes to take quizzes. [snip] Lotame uses sophisticated software called a ‘beacon’ to capture what people are typing on a website—their comments on movies, say, or their interest in parenting and pregnancy. Lotame packages that data into profiles about individuals, without determining a person’s name, and sells the profiles to companies seeking customers.

The WSJ’s investigation revealed that:

Thursday Watercooler

By: Kit OConnell Thursday July 31, 2014 8:27 pm

 

A USB drive designed to look like a sushi roll

USB powered sushi — and everything else using the USB standard — is vulnerable to hidden malware.

In tonight’s video, a small-scale cocoa bean farmer and his workers get to taste the end result of their work — chocolate — for the first time in their lives!

Farmer N’Da Alphonse grows cocao and has never seen the finished product. ‘To be honest I do not know what they make of my beans,’ says farmer N’Da Alphonse. ‘I’ve heard they’re used as flavoring in cooking, but I’ve never seen it. I do not even know if it’s true.’

Thanks to MyFDL’s KateCA for suggesting this video.

Be careful what you put in your computer. According to an article in Wired’s Threat Level, the security of USB devices is fundamentally broken.

Computer users pass around USB sticks like silicon business cards. Although we know they often carry malware infections, we depend on antivirus scans and the occasional reformatting to keep our thumbdrives from becoming the carrier for the next digital epidemic. But the security problems with USB devices run deeper than you think: Their risk isn’t just in what they carry, it’s built into the core of how they work.

That’s the takeaway from findings security researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell plan to present next week, demonstrating a collection of proof-of-concept malicious software that highlights how the security of USB devices has long been fundamentally broken. The malware they created, called BadUSB, can be installed on a USB device to completely take over a PC, invisibly alter files installed from the memory stick, or even redirect the user’s internet traffic. Because BadUSB resides not in the flash memory storage of USB devices, but in the firmware that controls their basic functions, the attack code can remain hidden long after the contents of the device’s memory would appear to the average user to be deleted. And the two researchers say there’s no easy fix: The kind of compromise they’re demonstrating is nearly impossible to counter without banning the sharing of USB devices or filling your port with superglue.

‘These problems can’t be patched,’ says Nohl, who will join Lell in presenting the research at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. ‘We’re exploiting the very way that USB is designed.’

[...] They spent months reverse engineering the firmware that runs the basic communication functions of USB devices—the controller chips that allow the devices to communicate with a PC and let users move files on and off of them. Their central finding is that USB firmware, which exists in varying forms in all USB devices, can be reprogrammed to hide attack code. ‘You can give it to your IT security people, they scan it, delete some files, and give it back to you telling you it’s “clean,”‘ says Nohl. But unless the IT guy has the reverse engineering skills to find and analyze that firmware, ‘the cleaning process doesn’t even touch the files we’re talking about.’

Bonus: Samuel Beckett Motivational Cat Posters via Dangerous Minds

Housekeeping notes:

  • Please review our About Us page if you need a refresher on site rules, and
  • We encourage you to use our flag system — if you see an abusive comment, user or post, please flag it rather than replying. We review every flag and take the best action available to us.
  • If you have questions or concerns about Firedoglake-specific issues, please limit their discussion to Watercooler posts rather than starting new posts or making off-topic comments in others. But remember,
  • Firedoglake editors and staff are not allowed to comment on any moderation decisions.

The Watercooler is an open conversation. Ask questions, share links and your thoughts.