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Security experts: Computer attacks linked to wealthy group or nation A powerful computer code attacking industrial facilities around the world, but mainly in Iran, probably was created by experts working for a country or a well-funded private group, according to an analysis by a leading computer security company.
The malicious code, called Stuxnet, was designed to go after several "high-value targets," said Liam O Murchu, manager of security response operations at Symantec Corp. But both O Murchu and U.S. government experts say there's no proof it was developed to target nuclear plants in Iran, despite recent speculation from some researchers.
- US officials said last month that the Stuxnet was the first malicious computer code specifically created to take over systems that control the inner workings of industrial plants. A number of governments with sophisticated computer skills would have the ability to create such a code. They include China, Russia, Israel, Britain, Germany and the United States. But O Murchu said no clues have been found within the code to point to a country of origin. - Symantec's analysis of the code, O Murchu said, shows that nearly 60 percent of the computers infected with Stuxnet are in Iran. An additional 18 percent are in Indonesia. Less than 2 percent are in the U.S.
The malware has infected as many as 45,000 computer systems around the world. Siemens AG, the company that designed the system targeted by the worm, said it has infected 15 of the industrial control plants it was apparently intended to infiltrate. It's not clear what sites were infected, but they could include water filtration, oil delivery, electrical and nuclear plants. None of those infections has adversely affected the industrial systems, according to Siemens. (Associated Press)
Global ‘internet treaty’ proposed: Deal would enshrine in law the founding principles of open standards and net neutrality, and protect the web from political interference. The proposal was presented at the Internet Governance Forum in Lithuania last week, and outlined 12 “principles of internet governance”, including a commitment from countries to sustain the technological foundations that underpin the web’s infrastructure.
The draft law has been likened to the Space Treaty, signed in 1967, which stated that space exploration should be carried out for the benefit of all nations, and guaranteed “free access to all areas of celestial bodies”.
Under the proposed terms of the law, there would be cross-border co-operation between countries to identify and address security vulnerability and protect the network from possible cyber attacks or cyber terrorism.
It would also uphold rights to freedom of expression and association, and the principle of net neutrality, in which all internet traffic is treated equally across the network. (London Telegraph)
Ron Paul to Sunshine Patriots: Stop Your Demagogy About The NYC Mosque! Congressman Ron Paul today released the following statement on the controversy concerning the construction of an Islamic Center and Mosque in New York City:
Is the controversy over building a mosque near ground zero a grand distraction or a grand opportunity? Or is it, once again, grandiose demagoguery?
It has been said, “Nero fiddled while Rome burned.” Are we not overly preoccupied with this controversy, now being used in various ways by grandstanding politicians? It looks to me like the politicians are “fiddling while the economy burns.”
The debate should have provided the conservative defenders of property rights with a perfect example of how the right to own property also protects the 1st Amendment rights of assembly and religion by supporting the building of the mosque.
Instead, we hear lip service given to the property rights position while demanding that the need to be “sensitive” requires an all-out assault on the building of a mosque, several blocks from “ground zero.” (Ron Paul)
Google-Verizon Deal: The End of The Internet as We Know It The Federal Communication Commission should act swiftly to protect free access to the Internet and prevent media giants from co-opting the future of the most powerful new medium since the printing press.
Incredibly, the FCC asked the corporations who stand to profit most to write rules on how bandwidth will be divvied up. Google and Verizon floated a plan that most observers view as a roadmap to a multi-tiered system. AT&T has endorsed the Google/Verizon plan.
What's at stake is control over whose data gets transmitted, and how quickly. A wide-open field let's everyone compete. A tiered system like the one proposed by the big shots would inevitably favor them and their preferred media; some web purveyors would be relegated to second- and third-class status.
What's also at stake is freedom of speech and freedom of the press, because so many people get their news and information from the net today. Not to mention free and open access to intellectual and commercial media that power education, development and entrepreneurship.
Basically, the corporatists want to install a meter on your Internet. They whine that if they aren't allowed to nickel-and-dime us, innovation will wither. (Huffington Post)
Mainstream Media Implodes on 9/11 along with WTC 7: TV Coverage of Remarkable Building Collapse Analyzed The shocking collapse of the 47-story World Trade Center Building 7 on 9/11 caused great alarm, not only in the architectural and engineering community (among those who have become aware of it) but with mainstream media – right from day one. While Dan Rather’s commentary on the remarkable collapse (that it looked like it was knocked down by well placed dynamite) is more often quoted, Peter Jennings also had similar thoughts as he reflected on the shocking 47-story collapse shortly after the event.
Jennings showed the building coming down in slow motion. As he reflected on the enormity of it he said, “Well, there’s Building 7 coming down. When you think that part of the component of news coverage around the country every year is the excitement, the fun, that people get watching an old building being demolished, and they wire it very carefully for days. It’s a very careful operation in order to make sure a building comes down safely. I think the last one we saw was when they brought down one of the old casinos in Las Vegas. It’s just stunning to see these buildings come down...and now, number seven World Trade Center which is 47 stories tall.” (Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth)
Genetically Altered Salmon Get Closer to the Table The Food and Drug Administration is seriously considering whether to approve the first genetically engineered animal that people would eat — salmon that can grow at twice the normal rate. The developer of the salmon has been trying to get approval for a decade. But the company now seems to have submitted most or all of the data the F.D.A. needs to analyze whether the salmon are safe to eat, nutritionally equivalent to other salmon and safe for the environment, according to government and biotechnology industry officials. A public meeting to discuss the salmon may be held as early as this fall.
Some consumer and environmental groups are likely to raise objections to approval. Even within the F.D.A., there has been a debate about whether the salmon should be labeled as genetically engineered (genetically engineered crops are not labeled).
The salmon’s approval would help open a path for companies and academic scientists developing other genetically engineered animals, like cattle resistant to mad cow disease or pigs that could supply healthier bacon. Next in line behind the salmon for possible approval would probably be the “enviropig,” developed at a Canadian university, which has less phosphorus pollution in its manure.
The salmon was developed by a company called AquaBounty Technologies and would be raised in fish farms. It is an Atlantic salmon that contains a growth hormone gene from a Chinook salmon as well as a genetic on-switch from the ocean pout, a distant relative of the salmon. - Virtually all Atlantic salmon now comes from fish farms, not the wild.
The F.D.A. must also decide on the environmental risks from the salmon. Some experts have speculated that fast-growing fish could out-compete wild fish for food or mates.
Mr. Stotish said the salmon would be grown only in inland tanks or other contained facilities, not in ocean pens where they might escape into the wild. And the fish would all be female and sterile, making it impossible for them to mate.
The F.D.A. is expected to hold a public meeting of an advisory committee before deciding whether to approve the salmon. Typically at such advisory committee meetings, much of the data in support of the drug application is made public and there is some time allotted for public comment.
But Gregory Jaffe, biotechnology project director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said such meetings often do not give the public enough time to analyze the data. (New York Times)
Safety fluid was removed before oil rig exploded in Gulf In the case of the Deepwater Horizon, Scott Bickford, a lawyer for a rig worker who survived the explosions, said the mud was being extracted from the riser before the top cement cap was in place, and a statement by cementing contractor Halliburton confirmed the top cap was not installed. Mud could have averted catastrophe - But Halliburton said in a statement that it had completed pouring cement that lines the well 20 hours before the blowout. After that cement lining is done, the federal Minerals Management Service requires at least two prefabricated cement plugs to be placed at the bottom of the well and farther up, with mud packed in between. Halliburton's official statement shows there was still one more cement plug to be inserted. (The Times-Picayune)
Dial “M” for mangled – Wikipedia and Environment Canada caught with temperature data errors. As I pointed out last Saturday there’s a common reporting flaw in world meteorological stations that use the METAR weather data format to report their hourly temperatures. Just one bad report in a cold location in the Arctic or Antarctic is enough to throw off the whole month’s worth of data when averaged. And it is monthly data that is used for climate. The all time high temperature error identified below has found it’s way into Wikipedia as “factual” when it is clearly wrong. - Given the importance of this weather station as the last surviving GHCN station that far north, also used in GISS, you’d think better quality control would be done, particularly when EC has a statement about data quality on each data page. What has been found seems to point to a corrupted dataset there. (Watts Up With That)
James Lovelock on the value of sceptics and why Copenhagen was doomed The great climate science centres around the world are more than well aware how weak their science is. If you talk to them privately they're scared stiff of the fact that they don't really know what the clouds and the aerosols are doing. They could be absolutely running the show. We haven't got the physics worked out yet. - The UN was a lovely idea, but its primary objective was to make sure the British Empire was got rid of. You just can't get all those people to agree. - I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while. (London Guardian)
Metro heightens security After two suicide attacks on Moscow's subway, Metro tightened security on the rails Monday. - The exercises are funded through a $1.2 million U.S. Department of Homeland Security Urban Area Security Initiative grant. (WTOP)
Child rape charge rocks TSA Logan employee pats down air travelers at scan stations - A Transportation Security Agency worker who pats down members of the flying public was charged with multiple child sex crimes targeting an underage girl yesterday. (Boston Herald)
U.N. climate panel admits Dutch sea level flaw The U.N. panel of climate experts overstated how much of the Netherlands is below sea level, according to a preliminary report on Saturday, admitting yet another flaw after a row last month over Himalayan glacier melt. (Reuters)
'Climate-gate' review member resigns Within hours of the launch of an independent panel to investigate claims that climate scientists covered up flawed data on temperature rises, one member has been forced to resign after sceptics questioned his impartiality. (UK Channel 4)
The dam is cracking So the 40% of the world's population that relies on the seven major river systems supplied by these glaciers can sleep a little more soundly in the knowledge that their water won't run out in 25 years after all. (BBC)
The Anti-Terror Portfolio (ASEI, OSIS, FLIR, ICXT, HXL, AIR, ORB) Following the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day, various counterterrorism initiatives are in talks from Washington to Wall Street. We already covered the potential impact airport delays could have on airline stocks, but there are some companies that could benefit from increased demand amid tightened homeland security. (Ticker Spy)
How full-body scanners work For now, the process is an optional alternative to a traditional pat-down at airports across the country, including Reagan National and BWI. These are the two types of full-body imaging technology in use or on the way: (Washington Post)
Sick Nigerian Prompts Security Alert in Detroit “A passenger on today’s Northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit spent an unusually long time in the aircraft lavatory,” she said in the statement. “Due to this unusual behavior, the airline notified T.S.A. and the agency directed the flight to taxi to a remote area upon landing to be met by law enforcement and D.H.S. “The passenger in question, a Nigerian national, was removed from the flight and interviewed by the F.B.I.; indications at this time are that the individual’s behavior is due to legitimate illness, and no other suspicious behavior or materials have been found." (New York Times)
Extraordinary rendition for … white-collar criminals? Opponents of the practice of extraordinary rendition are growing increasingly vocal about the case of Raymond Azar, a Lebanese construction contractor who was picked up by the FBI on allegations of bribery, shackled, blindfolded and flown to the United States for trial (The Raw Story)
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