Security expert Bruce Schneier has a good article today about threats to your computer (hint: Sony is one):
There are all sorts of interests vying for control of your computer. There are media companies that want to control what you can do with the music and videos they sell you. There are companies that use software as a conduit to collect marketing information, deliver advertising or do whatever it is their real owners require. And there are software companies that are trying to make money by pleasing not only their customers, but other companies they ally themselves with. All these companies want to own your computer.
This essay originally appeared on Wired.com.
NHPR reported this morning that today is Moose Appreciation Day in New Hampshire. The event has outraged squirrels, who encounter cars far more often than moose with significantly worse results.
The New York Times editorial page today reminded everyone who values the Internet to call their representatives in Congress and demand continued net neutrality:
One of the Internet's great strengths is that a single blogger or a small political group can inexpensively create a Web page that is just as accessible to the world as Microsoft's home page. But this democratic Internet would be in danger if the companies that deliver Internet service changed the rules so that Web sites that pay them money would be easily accessible, while little-guy sites would be harder to access, and slower to navigate. Providers could also block access to sites they do not like.
And over on Huffington, Adam Green has some things to say about Mike McCurry's activities helping the big telcos:
Mike McCurry knows that the free and open Internet most Americans think is the "status quo" is actually GONE in 3 months. So it's more than a little bit deceptive when McCurry asks, "What service is being degraded? What is not right with the Internet that you are trying to cure?" McCurry is implying the exact opposite of what he knows to be true.That's a lie, and it's a genuinely sad sight for those who once admired him.
It's possible that, in three months, not only will Iraq be shattered, but also the Internet. Then Iran? Maybe India? Anyone for Indiana? Why does the Administration (993 days, 21 hours) hate things that start with "I?"
Daily Kos has the complete transcript. Unbelievable.
So, Mr. President, please, pay no attention to the people that say the glass is half full. 32% means the glass -- it's important to set up your jokes properly, sir. Sir, pay no attention to the people who say the glass is half empty, because 32% means it's 2/3 empty. There's still some liquid in that glass is my point, but I wouldn't drink it. The last third is usually backwash. Okay, look, folks, my point is that I don't believe this is a low point in this presidency. I believe it is just a lull before a comeback.
He's funny. And he's biting. And if it were Nixon's White House...
The New Hampshire legislature is about to reject the Federal Real ID Act, which was passed to "close the kinds of loopholes that allowed the 9/11 hijackers to get valid ID cards," according to its principal sponsor, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). New Hampshire would become the first of possibly many states to refuse to implement the law, and given New Hampshire's history and character, that's not surprising:
"The war on our civil liberties is actually begun," New Hampshire state Rep. Neal M. Kurk (R) told his colleagues recently, borrowing from Henry's famous "Liberty or Death" speech to condemn the license plan and the U.S. government in place of the British crown. He continued: "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?"
...Emboldened by that success, groups opposed to Real ID staged a rally in late April in front of the statehouse where, according to a report in the Concord Monitor, some wore "666" on their foreheads—indicating their belief that a national system of rules for driver's licenses is a step toward the "mark of the beast" prophesied in the Book of Revelation.
I'm not sure about the last part, but I am sure that Real ID doesn't actually solve the security problems it's meant to solve. Security expert Bruce Schneier weighs in:
The REAL ID Act requires driver's licenses to include a "common machine-readable technology." This will, of course, make identity theft easier. Assume that this information will be collected by bars and other businesses, and that it will be resold to companies like ChoicePoint and Acxiom. It actually doesn't matter how well the states and federal government protect the data on driver's licenses, as there will be parallel commercial databases with the same information.
Even worse, the same specification for RFID chips embedded in passports includes details about embedding RFID chips in driver's licenses. I expect the federal government will require states to do this, with all of the associated security problems (e.g., surreptitious access).
REAL ID requires that driver's licenses contain actual addresses, and no post office boxes. There are no exceptions made for judges or police -- even undercover police officers. This seems like a major unnecessary security risk.
REAL ID also prohibits states from issuing driver's licenses to illegal aliens. This makes no sense, and will only result in these illegal aliens driving without licenses -- which isn't going to help anyone's security. (This is an interesting insecurity, and is a direct result of trying to take a document that is a specific permission to drive an automobile, and turning it into a general identification device.)
REAL ID is expensive. It's an unfunded mandate: the federal government is forcing the states to spend their own money to comply with the act. I've seen estimates that the cost to the states of complying with REAL ID will be $120 million. That's $120 million that can't be spent on actual security.
And the wackiest thing is that none of this is required.
So while I think the protests in New Hampshire might have been a little over the top, I agree that REAL ID is a bad idea. That said, I believe New Hampshire's action might cause yet another Federalism problem on top of all the other splits between the states we've seen during this Administration (995 days, 3 hours left).
Update: The Electronic Privacy Information Center has a brief brief article and long list of links about REAL ID.
Visiting New York this weekend allowed me to read the Sunday New York Times in its native form, ink on paper, something I rarely do. So I was able to see, on page 21, a story I might not have found on-line: "Welcome to our town, or maybe not." Apparently, residents of Kanab, Utah, are up-in-arms about little "Everyone's Welcome" stickers that shops display:
...which sounds pretty tame until you get to the little rainbow-colored people beneath the text.
Are those little people gay?
Terril Honey, for one, is convinced that they are. "The rainbow colors are their symbol," said Mr. Honey, a member of the City Council and owner of Honey's Jubilee, a grocery store.
At first I thought it was a satire: I mean, some dude named Honey is afraid people will think he likes dudes because he put a welcome sticker in his store window. Oh, Honey, stay out of Wrigleyville and you'll be just fine.
Near the end of the article one resident neatly sums up the entire "gay" debate in this country, demonstrating the collision between our "core" values and our core values:
Kortney Stirland, a pharmacist who describes himself as a conservative Republican and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, displays the sticker and opposes the natural family resolution, which he has twice asked the council to rescind. He says he has also been offended by people in the community who have told him that a person cannot oppose the resolution, as he does, and still believe in traditional values.
"Originally it was a religious issue, then it became a gay and lesbian issue, but for me now, it's economic," Mr. Stirland said.
My prediction: In ten years, Kanab will be fabulous!
The House narrowly passed a GOP-drafted ethics bill, 213 to 207:
The bill would require lobbyists to file quarterly instead of semiannual disclosures, and to include in those reports the donations they give to federal candidates and political action committees. Lobbyists would also have to make public the value of any gift that they give to lawmakers or congressional aides. In addition, appropriations bills would have to list any earmarks that they contain, as well as the sponsors of those projects. Ethics training would become mandatory for House employees under the legislation.
...[Christopher Shays (R-CT)] called the bill "pathetic." On the House floor, he added: "We're losing our moral authority to lead this place."
If by "we" he meant the Republican Party, then he's late to the game, as I'm pretty sure the Republicans lost whatever moral authority they had long before Mitch Wade opened a brothel for GOP Congressmen.
Paul Krugman (sub.req.) offers a hypothesis about the Administration's hiring policies:
The U.S. government is being stalked by an invisible bandit, the Crony Fairy, who visits key agencies by dead of night, snatches away qualified people and replaces them with unqualified political appointees. There's no way to catch or stop the Crony Fairy, so our only hope is to change the agencies' names. That way she might get confused, and leave our government able to function.
That, at least, is how I interpret the report on responses to Hurricane Katrina that was just released by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
The report points out that the Federal Emergency Management Agency "had been operating at a more than 15 percent staff-vacancy rate for over a year before Katrina struck"—that means many of the people who knew what they were doing had left. And it adds that "FEMA's senior political appointees...had little or no prior relevant emergency-management experience."
Does anyone think Gore would have let this happen? Anyone at all?
Well, this is interesting. Ten states and two cities today filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency seeking enforcement of the Clean Air Act to force cuts in greenhouse gas emissions:
The states, led by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer [quel surprise—ed.], want the government to require tighter pollution controls on the newest generation of power plants.
In July 2005, a three-judge panel in the same court upheld the EPA's decision not to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from cars and trucks under the Clean Air Act. The agency argues the law does not authorize them to regulate emissions to reduce global warming, and maintains there is not enough scientific data to support such a move.
Not enough data? Tell that to Kiribati and Nunavut.
(Found first on Dr. Heidi Cullen's blog at weather.com