Heartbleed: What It Is And How To Avoid It

Recently an emergency security advisory from the OpeSSL project was issued warning about a bug known as “Heartbleed” which revealed an encryption flaw that was quickly labeled as one of the biggest security threats the Internet has ever seen — despite the fact that the National Security Agency (NSA) has known about and allegedly exploited it since it was discovered (link: http://rt.com/usa/nsa-knew-heartbleed-hacking-years-004/) — that has affected an unknown number of popular websites and services, many of which you might use everyday like Gmail and Facebook. Visiting the breached sites may have quietly exposed your passwords and credit card numbers to those exploiting the vulnerability over the past two years.

The “Heartbleed” label sounds a little melodramatic, and was originally reported as having the potential to live up to the hype. The bug was reportedly named by an engineer at Codenomicon, a Cyber-security company with offices in Finland and Silicon Valley. Heartbleed was discovered separately and simultaneously by Google security researchers and engineers at Codenomicon. Both teams found that OpenSSL, an open-sourced security encryption program used by an estimated 66% of Internet servers, contained a flaw that allows any hacker using a simple script to gain access to treasure troves of personal information on those affected servers.

OpenSSL contains an extension called Heartbeat, which, when affected by the bug, bleeds out the important information from the memory. By running the exploit, a hacker could download countless emails, passwords, user IDs and loads of other personal information in a matter of seconds. An updated version of OpenSSL has been released so sites can use it to fix the bug, but in addition to updating OpenSSL, affected sites will need to update other pieces of their security protocols known as keys and certificates used to help them confirm the identity of their users. Companies relying on OpenSSL to safeguard consumer data are scrambling to fix the gaping hole that was reported on last week.

What hasn’t been clear since it was reported was which sites have been affected. Mashable and Github have compiled sites which appear to have been compromised. The Heartbleed bug has been known about for more than two years but it’s still not clear how long it has existed or how many sites are actually affected regardless of the doomsday scenarios that keep making headlines. In fact, it appears that the Heartbleed security flaw may not be as dangerous as thought.

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CA Law Enforcement Using Invasive Surveillance Technology

You can add the Northern CA Bay Area to the growing list of U.S. citizens falling victim to America’s ever-growing — more-likely-than-not illegal — surveillance state. Newly released documents obtained through multiple Freedom of Information Act requests reportedly reveal the widespread use of so-called StringRay devices in California by 9 law enforcement agencies across the Bay area allowing them to gather everyone’s cell phone data in dragnet fashion.

The StingRay device, manufactured by the Harris Corporation, is a troubling tracking device that mimics cell phone towers by tricking wireless tools on the same network and making the tools communicate with the StingRay device, allowing law enforcement agencies to collect data on innocent third parties in a certain radius that are not subject to any investigation. The documents, originally obtained by Sacramento News 10, reveal that the devices are capable of pinpointing targets of investigations with extreme precision, even when they are inside their homes.

Some agencies provided documentation to Sacramento News 10, but none would provide details on how StringRays work or admit to having them, but records show that at least seven Northern CA agencies have the technology and two more have received grants to buy them in 2014. The San Jose Police Department responded to Sacramento News 10′s request with documentation revealing insight into what agencies have the technology and why they want it. San Jose PD requested feedback from other agencies that were already using StingRay when a 2012 grant to the Bay Area Urban Shield initiative (UASI) was approved.

JUSTIFYING DRAGNET SURVEILLANCE AS FIGHTING TERRORISM

Unsurprisingly, terrorism was used as the primary justification for acquiring the StingRay technology in every grant application obtained by Sacramento News 10 because it could allegedly be used to track and disrupt terrorist networks and protect critical infrastructure, but documents obtained also reveal the “mission creep” – an extremely common phenomenon that occurs when one purpose is offered to justify the collection of data on everyone in the surrounding radius that is used for a myriad of other purposes than fighting terror – is prevalent and normal.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reported that the StingRay devices, which were reported by the Wall Street Journal as being used by the Federal government in 2011, are highly obtrusive and completely unregulated and once again we are seeing the proliferations of powerful new surveillance tools without any rules on constraints on their use. Making matters worse is the fact that the acquisition of the StingRay devices by local Bay Area law enforcement agencies is shrouded in secrecy and driven by federal grant money, which undermines any local democratic oversight. Despite the fallacious claims that these devices are being used to “fight terrorism,” local law enforcement agencies appear to be using them for ordinary criminal law enforcement.

Some of the devices sold to law enforcement agencies are allegedly not configured to capture all the communications of everyone, but many of them can be used for illegally eavesdropping on everyone in violation of their privacy and there are real questions as to whether or not the devices can ever be used in a constitutional fashion because they are the equivalent of dragnet “general searches” which are prohibited by the Fourth Amendment. Of course there is very little Case Law on the subject that specifically addresses how and under what circumstances StingRays can be used and currently there are no statutes or regulations addressing their use.

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Ukrainian Propaganda Charades American Style

In its typical fashion after major crimes against humanity have been committed by Washington and its crooked cronies, America’s illusory Corporate press corps is busily pushing propaganda as fact while neglecting to mention the major discrepancies in the official story or mention of fact or both sides of the story. The latest example of this journalistic malpractice is evident in the coverage of the Ukrainian “crisis” that came about due to Washington’s latest imperialistic endeavors in its quest for world domination.

On February 23 of this year the U.S., in collusion with the European Union and NATO, orchestrated a coup d’état in Kiev to overthrow the democratically elected — albeit obscenely corrupt — regime of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to appoint a pro-Western puppet government in Ukraine to force austerity on its unsuspecting populace and open the floodgates for Western plunderage. Also in typical fashion– after using neo-Nazi fascists to perpetrate the apparently successful coup — no one in Washington bothered to think things through. When Russia put its foot down and sent its military to Ukraine, America’s illusory press corps had a field day spinning Washington’s fairy tales as truth without bothering to tell the whole story.

The stakes are high in Ukraine after Washington successfully orchestrated regime change as Crimea quickly annexed itself from Ukraine to seek a union with Russia which obviously isn’t too pleased with a fascist takeover of Ukraine because the majority of Crimea’s population are Russian whose loyalties lie with Russia. The American public isn’t hearing both sides of the story regarding the Russian military on Crimea’s border which isn’t surprising since propaganda has ruled the News since George W. Bush’s appointment to the White House in 2000.

WASHINGTON’S BLOVIATIONS RIDDLED WITH HYPOCRISY

This time around with the coup in Ukraine, the U.S. may have gone too far. Russia President Vladimir Putin’s responses to the overblown Ukrainian “crisis” have been well choreographed and there are no signs of his backing down any time soon as he appears to be willing to use force if necessary to counter Washington’s attempts to use economic enticement and subversive incitement to protect Crimea. Unfortunately for Washington, there is more than sufficient evidence revealing that the U.S. was largely responsible for the violence in Kiev and may have broken international law by overthrowing the Ukrainian government. Russia — and everyone else not entrenched is Washington’s corruption — is profoundly aware of this.

There are a multitude of strategic implications and intentions for the premeditated U.S-European coup in Ukraine against its elected government. one of which involves the planned removal of the Black Sea base of the Russian Navy which is currently being used to supply and defend Syria. Russia has had an agreement with Crimea to keep part of their military there for decades. A U.S. takeover of that Russian base would also lead to a takeover of the local Crimean government. In December 2013 it was revealed that the U.S. and its EU allies have been planning a Crimean takeover and the Governmental Intelligence of Turkey trained jihadists for the premeditated U.S.-EU-NATO Ukrainian coup.

As usual, the delusional statements coming out of Washington are riddled with hypocrisy but America’s illusory press corps escalates Washington’s propaganda offensive without question. Americans continue being fed overblown propaganda about what is happening in Ukraine to serve the interest of Washington and its criminal allies so most of what you hear about Ukraine isn’t true. I say the Ukrainian “crisis” is overblown because America’s illusory corporate press corps claims that Russia has invaded Crimea when in reality, both the Russian and U.S. militaries are in Crimea. Russia’s military is there to protect Crimea. American soldiers — “military advisors” undoubtedly tied to Academi’s (formerly BlackWater’s) private army are there to patrol Kiev and try to suppress the revolt in Donetsk. These “military advisors” were officially “invited” by their newly installed pro-Western Ukrainian regime to spearhead the U.S. invasion while trying to prop up their puppets and break down all resistance. You won’t find that information in the U.S. press.

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Bill’s Links and More Site Update

Those of you familiar with the old Bill’s Links and More site will notice a recent change. Because the old site hadn’t been updated in quite a while and was in fact compromised, I decided to make the blog the main site and add the link pages to it for now. I may eventually republish something similar to the old site, but for the time being I will be recreating much of it here.

Checking more than 4 thousand links can be daunting, but it is necessary. I have so far completed a few of the old links pages and will be adding them to this blog as individual pages for you to peruse. The old links are being double checked and removed if they take too long to load or are obsolete. As time allows, more links pages will be added.

You’ll notice that the blog itself hasn’t been updated in quite a while either as I’ve been doing most of my writing elsewhere. That too will change and articles as well as links about a myriad of subjects will be published on the main page of this blog on a more regular basis. I will also be adding a contact me page and some other things to improve the functionality of the blog and make it easier to share and contact me for link additions or removals. Dead links will now be removed more quickly.

See you soon.

The FBI Orchestrates Most US Terror Plots

A recent Russia Today report reveals that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) employs upwards of 15,000 undercover agents today, which is ten time more than they employed back in 1975. The FBI has built a massive network of spies – allegedly to prevent another domestic attack — but that network of spies actually orchestrates most US terror plots.

Aside from having a few spies too many, some of which are earning as much as much as $100,000 per assignment, you don’t have to dig too deep to see their accomplishments. Some of the FBI agents have pulled off terrorist stings that have stopped major attacks from happening since 9/11 on US soil. But here in the real world, the FBI has taken pages out of the CIA’s playbook. Many of these agents are responsible for plotting the very “terrorist” schemes that have been stopped.

In recent years the FBI has trained informants to snitch on suspected terrorists that they have set up from the get go. Mother Jones and the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of CA Berkeley found striking statistics regarding the role of FBI informants in terrorism cases that the FBI has targeted since 9/11. One former top-level FBI official told Mother Jones that for every informant officially employed by the FBI, there are up to three unofficial agents working undercover.

The FBI Infiltrates Communities Where “Suspected” Terrorists Regularly Meet

According to the report, the FBI infiltrates communities where “suspected” terrorists regularly meet with others. When the FBI infiltrates these “suspected” terrorist communities, they encourage them and provide weapons, funds, and a plan, then bust them before the attacks happen. This method utilizes what amounts to nothing less than entrapment, not to mention participating in creating homegrown terrorism.

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How many times does Osama bin Laden have to die before he’s dead?

Recently President Obama announced that the U.S. had killed Osama Bin Laden (OBL), despite releasing no evidence supporting those claims. While some orchestrated groups were shown celebrating the President’s announcement, many more met his announcement with skepticism and laughter. There are many reasons to question President Obama’s announcement, primarily the fact that OBL was reported as dead almost 10 years ago. President Obama and the Democrats will benefit politically from Washington’s quickly unraveling OBL fairy tale much the way George W. Bush benefitted every time OBL miraculously popped up when Bush needed to shore up support to condone his illegal actions. The state propaganda machine has propped up OBL’s ghost for almost a decade, albeit quite poorly and this doesn’t appear to be any different.

OBL had a well-documented Kidney problem which required a constant need for dialysis. Because of the health problems that are evident in the last known OBL video from late 2001, several heads of state and counterterrorism officials have opined that OBL has been dead since December 2001, and many reports on OBL’s death from that same time frame seem to confirm that. One of the many problems with Washington’s story, which only took 48 hours before unraveling, is that a dialysis machine is nowhere to be found in any of the pictures of the purported OBL’s compound released by the U.S.

According to French Intelligence Sources, OBL was flown to an American hospital in Dubai for 10 days of treatment. In Dubai, OBL was met by the local CIA attaché who was recalled to Washington after he bragged to his friends about meeting OBL. In fact, there were other OBL Dubai witnesses too. On September 10, 2001, OBL was in a Pakistani Military hospital for treatment where he remained under the watchful eyes of Pakistani intelligence, which has deep ties to the CIA. Naturally, when information about the CIA knowing the whereabouts of the terrorist mastermind it created was released, Washington denied it, but as I’ve said many times before, Washington has a major aversion to the truth.

An October 2001 videotape featured a visibly pale and gaunt OBL wearing Army fatigues and Islamic headdress. Two months later, in December 2001, another videotape featuring a seriously ill looking OBL who appeared unable to move his left arm appeared. The December 2001 videotape appears to be the last authentic video of OBL. All the ones presented by the CIA as proof that OBL was still alive turned out to be not real. The newest tapes alleging to be of OBL released by the CIA – the leader of the state propaganda parade – with no sound may or may not be authentic. That remains to be seen.

On December 26, 2001, Fox News reported on a Pakistan Observer story that OBL had died a peaceful death due to an untreated lung complication, citing a Taliban leader who allegedly attended OBL’s funeral. According to the source in the report, OBL died in mid-December, and the U.S. coalition would never find his body because it was buried honorably in an unmarked grave was made per OBL’s Wahibi belief. 30 close associates of OBL attended that funeral, including his family members.

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The time for public financing of elections has come

The information below is from the “Public financing of elections: an idea whose time has come” article from Citizen VOX:

Talk about an idea whose time has come.

Today, the Fair Elections Now Act is being re-introduced. It would help candidates remain free from corporate interests by providing public money for their campaigns if they raise a certain amount of small-dollar contributions from voters.

The grip that corporations have over our elections and our lawmakers is unprecedented, thanks in no small part to the U.S. Supreme Court’s January 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That’s the decision that gave corporations the green light to spend as much money as they want on elections.

What does that decision mean for you? It means that lawmakers are even more beholden to wealthy corporate interests — oil and coal companies, financial giants, agribusiness mega-companies and so forth — and even less likely to act in your interests. After all, those corporations are looking out for their bottom lines and have no problem rolling over citizens to boost profits. They want public policies that advance that goal. They give money to lawmakers so they can ask for favors later.

We saw the effect of the Citizens United decision on the midterm elections: spending by outside groups jumped to $294.2 million in the 2010 election cycle from just $68.9 million in the 2006 cycle. Nearly half of the money spent came from just 10 groups. Two groups formed by Republican strategist Karl Rove combined to spend $38.2 million, more than any single group. Next was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Today, Public Citizen sent a letter (PDF) to Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), who introduced the measure. The letter said:

“At no time in history has a strong congressional public financing program been so sorely needed – and so demanded by the American public. Poll after poll shows that wide majorities of Americans are stunned with the Court’s decision opening the floodgates of unlimited corporate money in elections. Just as many Americans are infuriated with the primacy of money in elections, as well as all the time and resources officeholders spend cozying up to campaign contributors.

Americans are demanding far more accountability from Congress. One of the best ways to achieve this accountability is to replace big money with public funds and small donations from average Americans. This is precisely what the Fair Elections Now Act would do.”

Do you want public financing of elections? Let your members of Congress know.

And learn more about the Citizens United decision and how to overturn it. Public financing of elections will help, but ultimately we need to overturn the decision with a constitutional amendment. Get involved now.

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Wisconsin Scholar targeted by GOP for revealing their agenda

William Cronon, author and professor of history, geography and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is taking flak from Republicans for revealing the actions of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and their involvement in Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker and his legislature’s illicit agenda that has fired up the nation because he published an op-ed in the New York Times titled “Wisconsin’s Radical Break,” in which he suggested Walker has turned his back on the state’s long tradition of “neighborliness, decency and mutual respect,” and then published an even more eviscerating post describing who is really behind the GOP agenda on his blog.

Prof. Cronon pointed out that it’s important to understand that events at the state level don’t always originate in the state where they occur. Indeed, far from it. To find out more about these corporate lobbyists and organizations who have been trying to destroy workers, the poor population, and Senior citizens, there are many places online that track them, such as Right Wing Watch, Source Watch, and Open Secrets.

So who does Prof. Cronon really believe is behind the Republican attack on workers, the poor population, and Senior citizens while rewarding the rich, large non-taxpaying corporations who own many politicians in the many State and Federal Governments? He doesn’t believe the Koch brothers are the only driving force behind the illicit GOP agenda. He’s been trying to discover the deeper networks from whence the legislation came, and he appears to have found them.

The most important group mentioned by Prof. Cronon is The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which was founded in 1973 by Henry Hyde, Lou Barnett, and Paul Weyrich — the figurehead of the New Right and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation among others. For forty years ALEC’s goal has been to draft “model bills” that conservative legislators can introduce in the 50 states. Your State legislators are paid well by these lobbyists and organizations for being told what to do by ALEC at your expense.

ALEC’s Partners Play an Important Role in Wisconsin and Other States

ALEC’s website claims that in each legislative cycle, its members introduce 1000 pieces of legislation based on its work, and that roughly 18% of these bills are enacted into law. ALEC was responsible for Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration law that passed last year. It’s necessary to start paying more attention to ALEC and the bills its promoting, as well as the politicians it owns, including Scott Walker and company. A visit to the “About” menu on ALEC’s website will give you a sense of the organization’s history, its current members, and its funders. But to get to the true depths of collusive corruption, you need to visit the site’s “model legislation” page, the gateway to all the bills ALEC has drafted. Unsurprisingly, you can’t view that legislation unless you’re a member.

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The GOP’s costly Wisconsin Koch binge is a wake-up call

The GOP’s Koch-driven declaration of war on Wisconsin workers – coming soon to a state near you — and the deceptive passage of controversial union-busting legislation is a wake-up call that is sparking outrage and igniting a recall movement.

The Wisconsin debut of the GOP’s latest preconceived war on the American people has hit a snag and awakened the American population. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his Republican cohorts have revealed themselves as the incorrigible Koch (pronounced Coke) whores they are by surreptitiously passing Walker’s “budget repair” bill aimed at destroying union workers and collective bargaining, fueling protests and a growing recall movement that could result in political suicide.

After meeting for hours behind closed doors, the “budget repair” bill was hurriedly passed using illicit parliamentary procedures with Democrats absent and without debate. Wisconsin Democrats will ask the State Attorney General to intervene because they say the rushed proceedings violate the state’s open meetings law. A document (PDF) from The State of Wisconsin Department of Justice (DoJ) appears to confirm that, but we’ll have to wait and see if Wisconsin’s DoJ is as corrupt as the U.S. DoJ.

David Dayen from Fire Dog Lake has outlined a thumb nail sketch on where the fight in Wisconsin is heading. It will include legal challenges, labor strikes and recalls. Protests in Wisconsin are growing in wake of the Wisconsin Assembly voting on and passing Walker’s bill. What’s happening in Wisconsin will soon be coming to Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — who all have Republican Governors.

Wisconsin has several problems with its political leadership. During his term as Milwaukee’s county executive, Walker illegally attempted to kill the union. Walker has lied repeatedly about who really pays for the pension and benefits of public employees in Wisconsin from the start. Details of the agreements (PDF) between the State of Wisconsin and its employees can be found here. To a significant degree, much of Wisconsin’s — and most other states — deficits are due to poor policy choices and a major lack of discipline. Like many other politicians with an aversion to the truth, Walker claims to be following God’s orders. At least three of the Wisconsin State Senate Republicans demanding that public workers sacrifice benefits, wages, and collective bargaining rights to fix the budget have reportedly applied for and received hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal farm subsidies.

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IVAW Issues a Call for Accountability Over Iraq War Logs

The  information below is a statement in response to the Iraq War Logs that were recently released by Wikileaks from Iraq Veterans Againt the War.

A Call For Accountability

The latest release by Wikileaks of the Iraq War Logs is the largest leak in U.S. history and reveals in extensive detail what Iraq Veterans Against the War has been saying since our founding in 2004.  The U.S. has presided over a bloody occupation for seven years where war crimes are a common offense, civilian casualties have been grossly under-reported, and corporate contractors run amok.  See our official statement on the Iraq War Logs below.

IVAW Statement on the Iraq War Logs – A Call for Accountability

The recent Wikileaks release–The Iraq War Logs–has shed important light on the high rate of civilian death and widespread atrocities, including torture, that are endemic to the war in Iraq. As veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are outraged that the U.S. government sought to hide this information from the U.S. public, instead presenting a sanitized and deceptive version of war, and we think it is vital for this and further information to get out. Members of IVAW have experienced firsthand the realities of war on the ground, and since our inception we have spoken out about similar atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are asking the U.S. public to join us in calling on our government to end the occupations and bring our brothers and sisters home.

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