Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday 07-31-15

Almost every year he is the top seller, or the reason for the higher sales

Gun production has doubled under Obama

Gun production has more than doubled over the course of the Obama administration, according to a new report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The manufacturing boom has come in the face of the president’s push to expand background checks and place new restrictions on guns in the wake of high-profile shootings like the recent mass-killing in Charleston, S.C., and the 2012 massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.

The numbers paint a picture of gun owners who are concerned about new restrictions on their Second Amendment rights, activists say.

“The ATF report confirms what we already know, that Barack Obama deserves the 'Gun Salesman of the Decade' award,” said Erich Pratt, spokesman for the Gun Owners of America. "People have been rushing to buy firearms because they’re afraid that Obama will take away their Second Amendment rights.”

The ATF’s annual firearms commerce report tracks the number of guns manufactured in the United States, which provides an indication of gun sales around the country.

The number of guns manufactured increased by 18 percent during the George W. Bush administration, while the Clinton administration actually saw a 9 percent reduction.

But under President Obama, gun production has spiked 140 percent to 10.8 million firearms in 2013, the most recent year for which data is available.

The year before President Obama entered office, gun manufacturers produced about 4.5 million firearms.

“President Obama has been relentless in his attacks on the Second Amendment, and it’s not shocking people are frightened and want to protect themselves,” National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said. “He’ll stop at nothing to strip people of their constitutional rights to self-protection."
The spike in gun sales stems from a “constant attack on our constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” said Joe Neville, director of political affairs at the National Association for Gun Rights.

“President Obama has made it very clear he wants to strip away our gun rights, so people are going out and purchasing more firearms and ammunition,” Neville explained.

But gun safety advocates say this is nothing more than a “scare tactic” employed by the gun industry.

“The gun lobby seizes on those fears and uses scare tactics and doomsday rhetoric in order to sell more guns,” said Mark Prentice, spokesman for Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun safety group run by former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson.

Pistols are the most popular type of gun, accounting for 4.4 million of the firearms made in 2013, according to the report. Meanwhile, gun manufacturers produced 3.9 million rifles and 1.2 million shotguns.

The number of pistols made has nearly tripled during the Obama administration, which could also reflect more people turning to firearms for personal protection, Pratt suggested.

“Even in their homes, many gun owners prefer using handguns for self-defense,” Pratt said.

Nobody was listening ten years ago, they wont listen now

Alan Greenspan: This is 'extremely dangerous'

While markets hone in on the Federal Reserve's monetary policy hints, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan sees a bigger economic irritant—government spending.
On Wednesday, Greenspan decried a rise in entitlement costs, which he contended have pressured the U.S. economy.
"To me the discussion today shouldn't even be on monetary policy it should be on how do we constrain this extraordinary rise in entitlements," he said in a CNBC "Closing Bell" interview, calling the trend "extremely dangerous."
Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman
Social expenditures in the U.S. were 19.2 percent of gross domestic product last year, up from 15.5 percent in 2005, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Still, the portion of GDP spent by the U.S. on social benefits last year was below the OECD average of 21.6 percent. The majority of member nations individually shelled out a higher percentage of GDP, as well.
Greenspan was the head of the U.S. central bank from 1987 to 2006. He declined to characterize the Fed's policy-making committee's assessment of the nation's economy after its most recent meeting Wednesday.
However, he noted that he sees a "strong and growing labor market" despite concerns about productivity growth.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thursday 07-30-15

Out of Shadows: New tech allows face recognition in utter darkness
© Jung Yeon-je
German researchers have developed a new technology that can identify a person in poor lighting or even in absolute darkness thus potentially solving one of the main issues of the modern face recognition systems.
Today’s facial recognition systems are based on matching clean and well-lit photos taken in the broad light. This poses a problem for law enforcement and security services when their object is in the shade.
However, a group of German scientists claim to have found a solution to this as they develop a new type of face-recognition system that analyzes a person’s thermal signature instead of relying on traditional methods.
As a part of the new study, Saquib Sarfraz and Rainer Stiefelhagen, two computer scientists from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany, created a system that analyzes mid- or far-infrared images and matches them with the ordinary photos thus allowing the people’s faces to be recognized.

However, such matching also poses a challenge for computer systems as connection between human appearance in visible and infrared light is highly nonlinear. The way human face emits thermal signatures when infrared images are taken is absolutely different from the way the face reflects light during a regular photo session.
Additionally, thermal emissions vary depending on the environment temperature, temperature of the skin, person’s activity level or even a change of expression.
Besides, the images taken by infrared cameras usually have much lower resolution than normal photos. All these factors make the matching of two types of images a challenging task.
The research team managed to overcome this difficulty by using the so-called deep neural network system.
Deep neural network is a computer system designed to imitate the functioning of a human brain. It can make connections and draw conclusions based on complex sets of factors provided that a large enough dataset is available for the system.

However, such smart system still needs a vast bank of both infrared and visible light images allowing it to make comparisons and “learn.” For their study, German researchers used the University of Notre Dame set that contains a significant number of both types of images, including people shot with different facial expressions, under different lightning conditions and multiple images of the same person over a certain time period.
The data set used in the study consisted of 4.585 both infrared and visible light images of 82 people. For the research, the scientists divided the set into two parts and used the images of the first 41 people to “train” their system and the images of the rest 41 people to test it.
The results of the experiment showed that the new system considerably surpasses its existing counterparts. “The presented approach improves the state-of-the-art by more than 10 percent,” Sarfraz and Stiefelhagen said as quoted by the MIT Technology Review.
Additionally, the system is capable of matching the images and recognizing a face in just 35 milliseconds. “This is therefore, very fast and capable of running in real-time at about 28 fps,” the researchers say.

However, the development of the technology is only at the initial stages so it is far from perfect as its accuracy reaches only about 80% in case when the system has many visible light images in its database to compare to the thermal image. With only one visible image available, the accuracy of the system falls to 55%.

Earth Will Only Have 12 Hours To Prepare For Massive Solar Storm

Trains will be disrupted, power will go out, satellite signals will go wonky - that’s what we have to look forward to when the sun next has a melt down, and we’re unlikely to get more than 12 hours warning. 
In a new government document, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has laid out its Space Weather Preparedness Strategy, outlining the risks of unsettled space weather as well as what it plans to do about them.
The document explains that the worst case scenario is a ‘coronal mass ejection’ - huge eruptions on the sun which cause parts of its corona to detach. The corona is the pearly glow around the sun that you can only usually see during a total solar eclipse, made up of plasma and rarefied gases. 
The worst case scenario is based on the Carrington event of 1859, which caused solar-flare related x-rays and radiation storms. In 2015, a similar event could cause the national grid to fail, satellite operations to shut down, increased radiation on flights and upset to electronic systems.
The report suggests that there are three things the country needs to do to prepare for such an event: improve alerts and warnings, update power and communication infrastructure with failsafe backups and have a plan in place to deal with the effects should they come to pass. 
As for you: the advice from the government is to prepare yourself for a solar event just as you would for any other natural hazards like floods and storms.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wednesday 07-29-15

America at an Ominous Crossroads

James Piereson on the shattering of America’s postwar consensus.
By George Melloan7.22.15
Shattered Consensus: The Rise and Decline of America’s Postwar Political Order
By James Piereson
(Encounter, 389 pages, $27.99) 

Authors of history books often design them with a unifying theme, a so-called theory of history. Henry Steele Commager, one of the most ardent promoters of liberal politics in the 20th century, once explained his partisanship by saying, “History is a jangle of accidents, blunders, surprises and absurdities, and so is our knowledge of it, but if we are to report it at all we must impose some order upon it.”
Arnold Toynbee, whose prodigious A Study of History won worldwide acclaim in the 1950s, built his structure around the theory that a common religious belief has driven the rise of civilizations. His fellow Englishman Paul Johnson, whose Modern Times won popularity in the 1980s, followed a similar theme in citing “moral relativity” with its absence of firm values and standards as the acid that dissolves civilizations.
James Piereson, one of America’s leading public intellectuals, introduces yet another interesting theory of history in his new book, Shattered Consensus. He divides American history into three periods of political consensus in which certain principles were widely agreed upon by the electorate. The first, in his view, was the long period of anti-federalism that began with Thomas Jefferson in 1800 and extended through the presidency of Andrew Jackson. It was shattered when the southern states extended the idea of states rights to an unacceptable limit by claiming a right to secede from the union. A bridge too far.
The second, he argues, was the capitalist-industrial era running from the end of the Civil War to 1930, “when the regime collapsed in the midst of the Great Depression.” The third was the postwar [World War II] welfare state that took shape in the 1930s and 1940s and extends to the present, “but is now in the process of breaking up.”
In the Piereson view, these regimes lasting approximately a lifetime, each accomplished something important and was organized by a dominant political party, the Democrats in the pre-Civil War era, the Republicans in the industrial era, and the Democrats again in the post-World War II era.
The crises that brought down the first two regimes were vastly different. The secession that brought on the Civil War was a constitutional crisis, whereas, in Mr. Piereson’s analysis, “the Great Depression was a crisis of capitalism.”
His book draws its title from the author’s belief that we are on the cusp of another shift in American opinion equivalent in magnitude to those that occurred in 1800, 1865, and 1930. The consensus that is being shattered, he avers, is the climate of approval for the welfare state and internationalism that has swayed politics since World War II.
Piereson cites an early 2015 Gallup opinion poll that purports to show that the “American public is now more divided politically than at any time in the postwar era.” That’s a rather expansive claim when you consider how much contention there has been in American politics throughout postwar history. But it gains a certain plausibility by suggesting that a major source of the division is Barack Obama and his unwillingness to seek middle ground with Republicans on major questions of policy. Gallup concluded that “Each of Obama’s six years in office ranks among the most polarized in the last 60 years,” a finding that has a certain ring of truth. That we now have a sharp split between the White House and Congress on almost everything supports Mr. Piereson’s idea that a long-standing political consensus is collapsing.
Mr. Piereson believes that unsettled periods such as those of the 1860s and 1930s mark the beginnings of a fundamental transition in American politics, which in the present case would be a move away from the welfare state politics of the last 80 years and the post-World War II internationalist consensus.
In each period an old order collapsed and a new one emerged out of the unprecedented crisis and in each case, the resolution of the crisis opened up new possibilities for growth and reform. No particular consensus or set of political arrangements can be regarded as permanent in a dynamic country like the United States.
As Commager either advised (or alibied, take your choice), Mr. Piereson imposes a certain order by neatly categorizing long periods of American history as eras of consensus. He does do in a provocative and highly readable way. But such sweeping theories of history leave an author open to nit-picking, as it did with the likes of Toynbee and Johnson, and will certainly do with Piereson.
For example, did the Welfare State consensus really begin with the New Deal? Social insurance, the initial central pillar of the Welfare State, was invented by Otto von Bismarck in 1889; Teddy Roosevelt found it to be great vote getter in 1912 and Herbert Hoover signed the $300 million Federal Relief and Construction Act, the first major federal social welfare legislation, in July of 1932, almost a year before the New Deal came into being. The 1935 Social Security Act passed with an overwhelming majority of both Republicans and Democrats. So yes there was a consensus, but maybe its beginnings predated the New Deal.
As to the Great Depression being a crisis of capitalism, that indeed was the New Deal narrative. That narrative asserts that the 1929 stock market crash brought on the Great Depression. The “capitalism failure” theme gained widespread acceptance among opinion makers in support of their radical economic interventions.
But the stock market also had crashed in 1920, and after a sharp and brief recession the economy boomed. After the 1929 Crash the market also was recovering nicely in 1930 and the economy would probably have healed itself had it not been for the manic intervention of Herbert Hoover and the Republican Congress. Their worst among many offenses was the Hawley-Smoot tariff act, which virtually shut down world trade, deepening and prolonging what could have been a routine recession. So, was the Depression a failure of capitalism or government?
The “crisis of capitalism” trope was used to justify an attempted federal takeover of the economy in 1933 by means of government-controlled cartels. Fortunately, the 1933 National Industrial Recovery Act was mercifully stomped out of its misery by the Supreme Court in 1935. Capitalism slumbered through the 1930s as New Deal experiments made investors gun-shy, but it was alive and well when its marvelous organizational and productive skills became vital for winning World War II. It emerged even stronger afterward and is still with us today, although somewhat battered by progressive interventions.
I cite these issues not to denigrate Piereson’s abilities as a scholar and author. I raise them merely to illustrate that it’s not so easy to compartmentalize human history in an entirely credible way, and particularly to divide it into distinct 60 to 80 year segments. It captures attention but is perhaps a bit too tidy.
Yet Piereson is quite plausible when he argues that we are in a period of transition. He makes an excellent case that there has been a political consensus of sorts in the U.S. since World War II in support of social programs and the concept of America as the prime defender of world peace and generator of economic and social progress. U.S. Congresses over the years have consistently devoted a major share of the government’s budgets to social programs and the maintenance of a Pax Americana.
One wonders, however, whether what we are experiencing is not a breakdown of consensus on the desirability of these two goals, but a dawning and unwelcome realization that the U.S., rich and productive as it is, can no longer afford them. Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor were pushed through a Democrat Congress by Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s as an adjunct to existing welfare programs. The cost came high, an economy crippled by inflation and price controls in the 1970s, but the productive U.S. private sector eventually managed to shoulder the burden.
Obamacare, passed in 2010, may well have been another bridge too far, just as secession was for the anti-federalists of 1861. It was poorly designed; the authors of Social Security look like geniuses when compared with builders of the massive, tottering Obamacare edifice. Falsely billed as a money saver, it is of course proving to be anything but, as its contradictions and bureaucratic overhead cause insurance premiums to soar. It was dumped on an economy that had already collapsed as a result of federal meddling with the mortgage industry. As for the Pax Americana, social spending usually trumps foreign policy in the absence of a major war. U.S. military power has been degraded and we are seeing the unhappy results as the administration appeases rogue states like Cuba and Iran.
The Federal Reserve has helped finance the government’s deficits with rock bottom interest rates that grossly penalize savers. It has bought trillions of dollars of federal debt. In short, the government can no longer depend on the tax base to support its excesses. What we may be seeing is not simply a fracturing of consensus, but an intrusion of the reality that the government is living beyond its means, and the national disquiet that results from that realization.
Mr. Piereson has written a thoughtful book that offers an opportunity to ponder these questions. What he doesn’t tell us is what comes next? But then, who can?

State mandates chicken registration

RALEIGH — A controversial decision by state agriculture officials is drawing the ire of backyard chicken owners and supporters.
The N.C. Department of Agricutlure and Consumer Services issued a statement Wednesday saying it is now requiring all poultry owners, regardless of the number of birds, to register for an NCFarmID number.
The identification program is usually voluntary, but has been made mandatory for all backyard poultry farmers.
“In planning our response for highly pathogenic avian influenza, one problem we’ve come across is that we can’t protect birds that we don’t know exist,” said State Veterinarian Doug Meckes. “We need to know where poultry are located so we can properly protect commercial and backyard flocks.”
Officials say the information used “solely for animal health purposes” and “will provide animal health officials with necessary contact information in case of an animal health concern.”
However, some state residents see the measure as nothing more than government overreach.
“They claim that it is to protect N.C. poultry from the bird flu, but it feels like they are using this as an excuse to target and track owners of backyard chickens,” said Nicole Revels, a conservative activist from Caldwell County. “There has not been a single case of the avian flu in North Carolina.”
When she heard about the registration Thursday, Revels created a Facebook page called “NO to NC Chicken Registration,” which garnered more than 350 “likes” within 36 hours.
There is also a link to a petition demanding state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler “rescind this decree and work to protect our right to do as we choose on our own property without having to ask for government permission.”
“Also there is something to be said about the fact that this measure is implemented by way of declaration of Steve Troxler rather than by a legislative process in which the people have input and representation,” Revels added. “I voted for Steve Troxler in 2012, but I never thought he would use the position to bring about this kind of action.”
According to Revels, it is already difficult enough for many people to have backyard chickens, due to local restrictions.
Several municipalities in Richmond County have such restrictions.
No fowl are permitted in the city of Hamlet, according to Zoning Coordinator Gail Strickland. Ellerbe Mayor Lee Berry said residents in that town are allowed to have up to 12 hens, but no roosters.
Revels, a homeschooling mother, said she was planning to get backyard chickens as a part of this year’s curriculum for her 7-year-old son, but now feels targeted with the implementation of a further data collection measure.
“The state stepping in with an additional compliance measure just makes it more difficult for individuals to live an independent life free from the interference of elected officials and bureaucrats,” she said.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday 07-28-15

Leaky’ vaccines could make viruses more deadly, new study suggests

The vaccines widely used by humans today -- especially those used to protect children against mumps, measles, and other potentially deadly ailments -- are what we'd call "perfect" vaccines. But new research suggests that "imperfect" or "leaky" vaccines -- ones that don't make their hosts totally immune to the disease and incapable of spreading it to others -- might have a surprising downside. For now, this so-called leakiness only exists in vaccines used to treat farm animals. But researchers warn that as humankind tackles bigger, badder diseases, we should keep the potential danger of leaky vaccines in mind.
In a study published Monday in PLOS Biology, researchers led by Andrew Read, the Evan Pugh Professor of Biology and Entomology and Eberly Professor in Biotechnology at Penn State University and Venugopal Nair, the Head of the Avian Viral Diseases program at The Pirbright Institute studied Marek's disease -- a herpes virus that infects chickens.
[Anti-vax mom changes her tune as all 7 of her children come down with whooping cough]
Highly contagious, Marek's disease didn't used to be deadly. But now chicken farmers see increasingly virulent strains in their broods. The vaccine keeps chickens from getting sick, but unvaccinated chickens are getting sicker than they used to.
Read and his colleagues don't know whether the vaccines for the disease actually caused more virulent strains of the illness to develop. It's not a clean-cut evolutionary partnership the likes of antibiotics and antibiotic resistant bacteria.
But according to their research, however those more dangerous strains have developed, it's the existence of the vaccine that allows them to continue existing.
[New class of antibiotic found in dirt could prove resistant to resistance]
Imagine for a moment a chicken with Marek's disease so viral (otherwise known as a particularly "hot" strain of the virus) that it knocks them dead within 10 days. Marek's used to be a disease that didn't kill, but lingered. It took a while to transmit from one chicken to another. Ten days simply wasn't enough time, so the hot strain would die with one or two unfortunate chickens.

Now imagine that this super-hot chicken has been vaccinated, and that this vaccine saves its life -- but doesn't keep it from spreading its supercharged Marek's. Suddenly that lucky little chicken is patient zero.
"We had laid out the mathematics in a previous paper, and suggested this might be happening," Read told The Post. To prove it, they found themselves some unvaccinated birds and put them in close quarters with infected-but-protected birds to watch the disease spread.
"The experiment shows that strains too hot to exist in an unvaccinated world can actually persist when there's a leaky vaccination," Read said.
This isn't such a big deal for the chicken industry at the moment, Read explained, since it's trivial to make sure all of your birds are vaccinated when they live on a farm. And Marek's only affects chickens.
[There’s really bad news for egg lovers]
"The problems would start if we weren't just talking about chickens," he said. If a leaky avian flu vaccine was given to chickens, for example, those chickens would still be capable of spreading hot strains to wild fowl -- like ducks and geese -- who couldn't be so easily vaccinated.
And the problem gets scarier when you ask what happens if a human gets a particularly hot strain of avian flu.
"It's just not possible to predict if a virus will get more or less nasty when it jumps species," Read said. "It's not predictable in general, and we just don't know how that works with avian flu. It's just not a good idea to create these conditions."
Read and his colleagues stress that their findings have nothing to do with the human vaccines that some parents demonize. Immunologists outside the study were quick to affirm this.
"It’s important not to interpret this study as an argument against vaccination of our children against flu or any other disease," Peter Openshaw, president of the British Society for Immunology and Professor of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College London (who wasn't involved in the study) told the Science Media Centre. "The standard vaccines that are in current use are safe and effective, and not prone to cause the emergence of more dangerous strains of viruses. Vaccines are amongst the safest and most cost-effective measures that we have to improve public health and protect from disease and it is vital that we achieve high vaccination rates to prevent the return of the many and terrible diseases that they prevent," he said.
[Vaccine deniers stick together. And now they’re ruining things for everyone.]
The authors of the new study heartily agree, but they do hope that those developing the next generation of vaccines -- ones to treat diseases like HIV and Malaria -- will proceed with caution.

Because it's basically impossible to build up a natural immunity to these diseases, it's likely that the first successful vaccines will be imperfect -- and perhaps even leaky the way the Marek's vaccine is in chickens.
But the study authors -- as well as other scientists -- stress that a leaky vaccine is better than none for many human illnesses. Because HIV, Ebola, and malaria are devastating killers, even an imperfect vaccine would be a medical breakthrough.
[FDA approves new Roche Ebola test for emergency use]
"In the future, [the findings] could apply to vaccines that we hope will be developed against generally lethal viruses (e.g. HIV, Ebola), encouraging scientists to strive towards “perfect vaccines” for them," Michael Skinner, a virologist from Imperial College London who wasn't part of the study, told the Science Media Centre. "However, these viruses are very different from [Marek's]. Without intervention, both of these are generally lethal already. Ebola, as we have so tragically seen recently, can also be effectively transmitted even after death."
So while this effect could well be seen in human diseases one day, it would probably only happen in viruses so devastating that vaccines are still the best hope. Scientists will just have to be sure they understand how the vaccine's implementation might effect the spread of the virus.
[EU regulator recommends 1st license for malaria vaccine]
"To me, it doesn't mean that we shouldn't use imperfect vaccines," Read said. "Let's say we become certain that a Malarial vaccine is going to drive the evolution of more dangerous Malarial parasites. That just means we have to be aware of how to avoid transmission."
The answer is higher vaccination rates wherever possible, Read explained -- not the abandonment of vaccines. And simple measures -- like mosquito nets -- could prevent the unvaccinated from exposure to any super-hot strains that resulted from the lifesaving injection.

950 million Android phones can be hijacked by malicious text messages

Booby-trapped MMS messages and websites exploit flaw in heart of Android.


Almost all Android mobile devices available today are susceptible to hacks that can execute malicious code when they are sent a malformed text message or the user is lured to a malicious website, a security researcher reported Monday.
The vulnerability affects about 950 million Android phones and tablets, according to Joshua Drake, vice president of platform research and exploitation at security firm Zimperium. It resides in "Stagefright," an Android code library that processes several widely used media formats. The most serious exploit scenario is the use of a specially modified text message using the multimedia message (MMS) format. All an attacker needs is the phone number of the vulnerable Android phone. From there, the malicious message will surreptitiously execute malicious code on the vulnerable device with no action required by the end user and no indication that anything is amiss.
In a blog post published Monday, Zimperium researchers wrote:
A fully weaponized successful attack could even delete the message before you see it. You will only see the notification. These vulnerabilities are extremely dangerous because they do not require that the victim take any action to be exploited. Unlike spear-phishing, where the victim needs to open a PDF file or a link sent by the attacker, this vulnerability can be triggered while you sleep. Before you wake up, the attacker will remove any signs of the device being compromised and you will continue your day as usual—with a trojaned phone.
The vulnerability can be exploited using other attack techniques, including luring targets to malicious websites. Drake will outline six or so additional techniques at next month's Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, where he's scheduled to deliver a talk titled Stagefright: Scary Code in the Heart of Android.
Drake said all versions of Android after and including 2.2 are potentially vulnerable and that it's up to each device manufacturer to patch the bug. So far, very few devices have been patched, leading him to estimate that about 95 percent of devices—or about 950 million of them—are currently susceptible. Even Google's Nexus 5 handsets, which typically receive security fixes long before most other Android handsets—remain vulnerable. Nexus 6 devices, meanwhile, were patched only recently against some but not all Stagefright attacks. Vulnerable devices running Android versions prior to 4.3 (Jelly Bean) are at the greatest risk, since earlier Android versions lack some of the more recent exploit mitigations. Fixes require an over-the-air update.

Enter Firefox

Interestingly, the Stagefright vulnerability also affects Firefox on all platforms except Linux, and that includes the Firefox OS. Firefox developers have patched the vulnerability in versions 38 and up.
"If you install Firefox 38, you can no longer get exploited directly via Firefox," Drake told Ars. "However, if I make your Firefox download the malicious video instead of trying to play it with a
SilentCircle, maker of the Blackphone Android handset, has also patched the vulnerability in its PrivatOS with the release of version 1.1.7.
Android is designed with a security sandbox that prevents most apps from being able to access data used by other apps. That goes a long way to containing the damage Stagefright and similar code-execution exploits can do. In theory, for instance, it should prevent Stagefright exploits from sniffing login credentials used by a properly designed banking app. Still, Drake warned that successful exploits at the very least provide direct access to a phone's audio and camera feeds and to the external storage. Worse still, many older phones grant elevated system privileges to Stagefright code, a design that could allow attackers access to many more device resources.

"The attacker would have remote arbitrary code execution and thus escaping the sandbox is only a small step away," Drake said. He said existing root exploits, including those known PingPongRoot, Towelroot, and put_user, would likely help an attacker break free of the sandbox and gain much wider control over a vulnerable device.
For now, there's not much end users can do to protect themselves other than to install a patch as soon as one becomes available for their specific Android device. People can also prevent MMS messages from automatically loading in Google Hangouts or other text apps. That will prevent malicious code from being automatically loaded but won't protect against other attack vectors. There's no indication that the bug is being actively exploited in the wild. Google has thanked Drake for privately reporting the vulnerability and has since made a patch available to partners. But as we all know, it can take years for security fixes to reach some models, and many devices never receive them.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday 07-27-15

Top Economic Forecaster Warns: Have Cash On Hand To Survive For Three Months: “No Institution Is Safe”


Economic forecaster Martin Armstrong, who is known for having accurately predicted major events like the Savings & Loan crash, the collapse of Japanese financial markets and the destruction of the Russian economy almost to the day, says that a major turning point is coming to the global paradigm this October. While stopping short of calling for an all out crash, Armstrong’s cyclical turning point of 2015.75 suggests that very big changes are set to take place.
But how do you prepare for the uncertainty of what’s to come?
Armstrong says you’d better have some cash on hand for short-term disruptions, just in case your financial institution shuts down like they did in Greece:
No institution is safe for all can be closed by decree, including credit unions. This is true of safe deposit boxes as well. They may not confiscate it, but they can deny access. PLAN B should be an amount of cash that is enough to live on for at least one month if not three months insofar as basic essentials, not mortgages, etc. Effectively this is food money and gas for the car. Gold coins will not help in this case, nor will silver coins, for we are not talking about trying to preserve wealth; this is the emergency stash for living purposes in case you need CASH, which is recognized by everyone. Try explaining a silver quarter to a teenage clerk who has no authority to accept a quarter for more than a quarter. Precious metals will be more of an underground economy of barter; it will not be useful at the local supermarket.
Also, keep in mind that cash could come in handy in a computer failure, whereas you cannot access a bank, exchange, etc. just to survive for there could be a scenario where not even plastic credit cards or debt cards would offer any help.
Source: Armstrong Economics
If America goes the way of Greece and the government enacts capital controls you can fully expect hours-long lines at ATM machines and banks just to get your daily allotment of $50 – $100. That, of course, is not enough for the majority of Americans to cover their most basic expenses including mortgage payments, food, and other necessary expenditures.
In such a scenario, having a one to three month reserve of cash will come in handy.
And though Armstrong says that gold and silver will likely not be accepted at your local super market, he has also previously noted that gold itself is an asset of last resort to preserve wealth in a situation where the public has lost confidence in their governing bodies. Thus, while you may not be able to hand a pre-1965 junk silver quarter to your grocery clerk in the immediate aftermath of a financial emergency, barter markets will likely emerge just like they did in Greece following the initial collapse of that country and at that point trading directly with gold, silver or other physical assets like liquor, cigarettes and food may become commonplace.
It should be clear that something is very wrong in financial markets. There is a wide body of evidence confirming this assessment, but most recently we learned that China has dumped over half a trillion in dollar-denominated assets and many of the same scenarios we saw in 2008 are playing out all over again.
While forecasters like Armstrong understand that the system under which we currently operate is set to fail, what’s difficult to predict is exactly how such a collapse may play out.
Thus, preparing for a wide range of potential scenarios is in order and that means positioning yourself to survive a short-term disruption to the regular flow of commerce, as well as longer-term scenarios that affect the credit markets and the systems that depend on them.
Should the system buckle we can expect widespread rioting, panic and confusion, something for which the government has been actively training personnel to handle on a mass scale.
Significant changes are coming. Be ready for them.

‘A New Dark Age’

By Patrick J. Buchanan
“If God does not exist, then everything is permissible.”
Ivan Karamazov’s insight came to mind while watching the video of Deborah Nucatola of Planned Parenthood describe, as she sipped wine and tasted a salad, how she harvests the organs of aborted babies for sale to select customers.
“Yesterday was the first time … people wanted lungs,” said Nucatola, “Some people want lower extremities, too, which, that’s simple. …
“I’d say a lot of people want liver. … We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”
Nucatola is describing how an unborn baby should be killed and cut up to preserve its most valuable organs for sale by its butchers.
Welcome to God’s Country, 2015.
Planned Parenthood’s image — a progressive organization that provides free birth control to women who seek to space pregnancies as they plan their families — will not easily survive these tapes.
For Nucatola sounds as though she were reading from a film script about a 1940s clinic in Nazi Germany devoted to the disposal of “useless eaters” in the Third Reich.
Watching these tapes, one name comes to mind: Mengele.
Defenders of Planned Parenthood argue that those who taped Nucatola did so surreptitiously, and they misrepresented themselves as buyers from a human biologics company. Moreover, the tapes were deceptively edited and the women undergoing abortions had agreed to donate the organs of their dead fetuses for biomedical research.
Perhaps. But even if all of that is true, the tapes have thrown the “pro-abortion rights” movement in America onto the defensive and brought calls for complete Congressional defunding of a Planned Parenthood that receives $500 million yearly from taxpayers.
Set aside the legality of what Nucatola describes. Do Americans want hundreds of millions of tax dollars provided to an organization that harvests and sells the body parts of aborted babies as a potentially lucrative sideline business? Do Americans want to be associated in any way with an organization with the moral mindset exhibited by Nucatola?
That Americans were stunned by those tapes is undeniable. People are not faking their moral revulsion. Indeed, “pro-abortion rights” Democrats are hiding in the weeds because they rightly sense that the disgust is widespread and genuine.
Yet there are questions raised by what these tapes reveal that apply to all of us.
Were we really in the dark? Were we unaware that 55 million unborn have been killed since Roe, many by such crushing methods as described by Nucatola?
Is the Black Lives Matter movement unaware that the execution rate of babies in the womb is highest among African-American women? However many black men or boys are killed in clashes with cops each year, it is not one-tenth of 1 percent of the black babies aborted in the USA?
Did we think that these abortions were almost all painless, like some sick pet being put to sleep, euthanized? Did we not know that the abortionist stabs the baby in the womb, or tears it to pieces coming out? And the more developed the baby, the greater the pain and the suffering and the bloodier the inescapable death?
But if one believes an unborn baby is not a human being, not a human life, why object to selling its body parts?
Trash haulers and garbage men find uses for what they pick up. Scrap metal collectors find folks who want to buy it. Conservation they call it. Why would we think that abortionists, who regard fetuses as human tissue, not human beings, were any different?
We have long known and praised family members of the victims in auto accidents who volunteer the organs of their loved ones to save or extend the lives of others.
What makes this tape so different, so appalling, is that, at some level, there a sense in all of us, which ideological indoctrination cannot wholly suppress, that, morally, something terrible is happening here.
Listening to that Planned Parenthood woman discourse casually on the hearts, livers, lungs and lower extremities, we know something else. While the women undergoing the abortions at Planned Parenthood may have volunteered those body parts, the butchered children had no say in the decision to be torn to pieces and have their organs put up for sale to a laboratory that was the highest bidder.
Speaking after the fall of France, at the beginning of the Battle of Britain, Winston Churchill said, “But if we fail, then the whole world … including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.”
Those phrases, “perverted science,” and “a new Dark Age,” do they not fairly describe our future if the views and values of Nucatola’s Planned Parenthood are the future of America and her people?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday 07-24-15

Obama Administration Strips Requirement to Defend The United States From Citizenship Oath

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has "clarified" requirements for individuals becoming naturalized citizens by stripping out the requirement of defending the United States through military service.
"Effective July 21, 2015, new guidance (PA-2015-001) in the USCIS Policy Manual clarifies the eligibility requirements for modifications to the Oath of Allegiance. Reciting the Oath is part of the naturalization process. Candidates for citizenship normally declare that they will “bear arms on behalf of the United States” and “perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States” when required by the law. A candidate may be eligible to exclude these two clauses based on religious training and belief or a conscientious objection," an email from USCIS clarifying the requirements states (bolding is mine).
The new guidance:
-May be eligible for modifications based on religious training and belief, or conscientious objection arising from a deeply held moral or ethical code.
-Is not required to belong to a specific church or religion, follow a particular theology or belief, or to have had religious training in order to qualify.
-May submit, but is not required to provide, an attestation from a religious or other type of organization, as well as other evidence to establish eligibility.

Although the U.S. has a voluntary military without a draft, meaning citizens are not currently required by law to serve, these new exemptions are highly alarming should the country need to call on its citizens for defense in the future. The United States has always allowed for exceptions to combat based on religious convictions, the Quakers are one example. However, Quakers have found different roles, i.e. as medics, inside the military to aid in the country's defense. This rule change allows naturalized citizens to refuse service altogether.
It should be noted the Islamic terrorist Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, who killed four Marines and a Navy sailor in Chattanooga last week, was a naturalized citizen.

Network Should ‘Throw In the Towel’ on Censorship of Ammo Company Logo

tulammoLight Heavyweight World Champion Sergey Kovalev defends his title against Nadjib Mohammedi live Saturday, July 25, on HBO. The Russian fighter has fought his way to the top with notable victories over former light heavyweight world champions Gabriel Campillo, Nathan Cleverly, Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal. Kovalev’s latest fight against Pascal pulled in 1.2 million viewers on HBO.
Now, as he prepares for his biggest fight to-date, and first in Las Vegas, his sponsors have told NSSF that HBO is demanding Kovalev remove the logo of Tulammo USA, a Round Rock, Texas-based ammo manufacturing company, from his boxing trunks. Kovalev has not made a public response, but his relationship with the company is a close one. The fighter appeared at Tulammo’s SHOT Show booth this past January.
This isn’t the first time a network has taken a punch at gun companies. Last year, Daniel Defense wasn’t allowed to purchase advertisement time during the Super Bowl despite complying with NFL policies. And again in 2012 FOX Sports Media Group banned advertisements featuring firearms and ammunition from its coverage of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events.
Now, HBO seems to have decided to use the sporting arena as stage for a political debate. TV networks are certainly free to decide what they broadcast, but the typical daily HBO fare of murder, mayhem and the glorified misuse of firearms suggests a certain degree of hypocrisy in HBO’s reported decision to ban the simple logo of a company that manufactures ammunition. It is strange that a media company such as HBO has decided to infringe on the First Amendment rights of the boxer and Tulammo by censoring what can be printed on a pair of trunks. The network is known for sometimes-violent programming such as True Detective, The Wire and The Sopranos (which coincidently featured a handgun in its logo). Would HBO have the same inclination to censor any of their show writers or their famous talking head Bill Maher. Would they dare censor their content for political reasons?
In the fight of HBO vs. Tulammo we won’t know the victor until Kovalev appears Saturday night. But a decision by HBO to ban advertisements for lawful products is, in boxing terms, ‘a low blow,’ and we suggest that the network just as soon ‘throw in the towel.’