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Fri, 28 Jan 2022
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US: Madoff: Banks 'had to know'

© UPI Photo/Monika Graff
Ponzi-scheme financier Bernard Madoff
Bernard Madoff, in a prison interview Tuesday, told The New York Times his family knew nothing of his schemes but the banks he dealt with "had to know." The interview was Madoff's first since he was charged with running a multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme in December 2008. The Times said he spent 2 hours with a reporter in a visitor's room at the prison in Butner, N.C.

Madoff said he did not realize how the tumbling of his financial house of cards would destroy his family. His son, Mark, hanged himself in December, and neither Mark Madoff nor Bernard Madoff's surviving son had spoken to either of their parents since their father's arrest. While the whole family worked for Bernard Madoff's company, he said Ruth Madoff and his sons did not realize what he was up to. But he said the funds that steered their clients' money to him and the banks and hedge funds had information from regulatory filings and other sources to figure it out.


Gates, Rumsfeld Sued Over U.S. Military's Rape Epidemic

© Unknown
A landmark lawsuit filed Tuesday against Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, alleges that the military's repeated failures to take action in rape cases created a culture where violence against women was tolerated, violating the plaintiffs' Constitutional rights.

"There are three types of women in the Army," says Rebecca Havrilla, a former sergeant and explosive-ordnance-disposal technician. "Bitch, dyke, and whore." During the four years that Havrilla was on active duty, she was called all three - by fellow soldiers, team leaders, even unit commanders. Once, during a sexual-assault prevention training, the 28-year-old South Carolina native claims, she watched a fellow soldier - male - strip naked and dance on top of a table as the rest of the team laughed. While deployed in Afghanistan, Havrilla spent four months working under a man she alleges bit her neck, pulled her into his bed, and grabbed her butt and waist - on a daily basis. When, on the last day of her deployment, she alleges she was raped by a soldier she considered a friend, it was, she says, "the icing on the cake."


Anonymous hack reveals HBGary plan to destroy WikiLeaks

© V3
Data released as part of a hacking attack by the Anonymous group has shown what appears to be a corporate plan to destroy WikiLeaks.

Aaron Barr, head of security services firm HBGary Federal, claimed last week to have infiltrated the Anonymous hacking group's leadership and to have identified key players.

Less than 24 hours later the group attacked HBGary Federal's servers and posted their content on file sharing sites.

An analysis of the content revealed what appears to be a proposal, written for leading US legal firm Hunton & Williams by HBGary Federal, on how to bring down WikiLeaks (PDF) through a combination of hacking and disinformation.

It was prepared in conjunction with data analysis firm Palantir Technologies and consultants Berico Technologies

The document suggests a campaign of misinformation involving feeding false documents into WikiLeaks and exposing them to discredit the site's output. Hacking attacks against the central WikiLeaks document server in Sweden were also suggested.

The presentation recommended researching the backgrounds of those involved in WikiLeaks to identify "risky behavior", and a media campaign which would " create concern and doubt among moderates".


Anonymous speaks: the inside story of the HBGary hack

© Arstechnica
It has been an embarrassing week for security firm HBGary and its HBGary Federal offshoot. HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Barr thought he had unmasked the hacker hordes of Anonymous and was preparing to name and shame those responsible for co-ordinating the group's actions, including the denial-of-service attacks that hit MasterCard, Visa, and other perceived enemies of WikiLeaks late last year.

When Barr told one of those he believed to be an Anonymous ringleader about his forthcoming exposé, the Anonymous response was swift and humiliating. HBGary's servers were broken into, its e-mails pillaged and published to the world, its data destroyed, and its website defaced. As an added bonus, a second site owned and operated by Greg Hoglund, owner of HBGary, was taken offline and the user registration database published.

Over the last week, I've talked to some of those who participated in the HBGary hack to learn in detail how they penetrated HBGary's defenses and gave the company such a stunning black eye - and what the HBGary example means for the rest of us mere mortals who use the Internet.


Tunisian government is using password capture techniques to entrap dissenters through Facebook, Gmail & Yahoo!

We have mentioned Facebook plenty of times, they have had their fair share of security issues and we have mentioned Tunisia once way back in regards to Internet Repression.

It seems like the government of Tunisia have been basically phishing their users with fake versions of login pages for Facebook, Gmail and Yahoo!. It only works for users that aren't using the https:// AKA SSL version of the sites, but then again who knows how much coverage FireSheep got in the Tunisian media.

It seems Tunisia has their own version of the Great Firewall of China to censor the content served up to its citizens and this system was used to inject the malicious JavaScript.
Malicious code injected into Tunisian versions of Facebook, Gmail, and Yahoo! stole login credentials of users critical of the North African nation's authoritarian government, according to security experts and news reports.

The rogue JavaScript, which was individually customized to steal passwords for each site, worked when users tried to login without availing themselves of the secure sockets layer protection designed to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks. It was found injected into Tunisian versions of Facebook, Gmail, and Yahoo! in late December, around the same time that protestors began demanding the ouster of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, the president who ruled the country from 1987 until his ouster 10 days ago.

Danny O'Brien, internet advocacy coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, told The Register that the script was most likely planted using an internet censorship system that's long been in place to control which pages Tunisian citizens can view. Under this theory, people inside Tunisian borders were led to pages that were perfect facsimiles of the targeted sites except that they included about 40 extra lines that siphoned users' login credentials.

Eye 2

Tea Party Crashes: The Most UnPatriotic Act

Patriot act
© Horsbey
9/11 Whistleblower indicted on the Patriot Act

I confess that since November I've been holding my breath, watching the clock for how long Tea Party newcomers could hold out against the entrenched Republican elite on Capitol Hill. Collapse was inevitable, however I admit to feeling bitterly surprised at how rapidly they have thrown in the towel.

For the record, most of the Tea Party quit their principles of liberty on February 14, 2011 - 20 days into the new Congress - when Tea Party leaders abruptly abandoned their opposition to the Patriot Act and voted to extend intrusive domestic surveillance, wire tapping and warrantless searches of American citizens. In so doing, they exposed the fraud of their soaring campaign promises to defend the liberty of ordinary Americans, and fight government intrusions on freedom. All those wide eyed speeches that flowed with such thrilling devotions, all of it proved to be self-aggrandizing lies.

The Tea Party didn't even put up a fight. Briefly they rejected a sneak attack to renew three surveillance clauses of the Patriot Act on a suspension vote. That filled my heart with hope. One push from the Republican elite, however and they went down with a loud thud.

My disappointment is particularly acute. Rather notoriously, I am distinguished as the second non-Arab American to face indictment on the Patriot Act, after Jose Padilla.

My status was pretty close to an enemy non-combatant. One would presume that I must have joined some terrorist conspiracy? Or engaged in some brutal act of sedition, such as stock piling weapons and munitions to overthrow those crooks in Congress?

You would be wrong. I got indicted for protesting the War in Iraq. My crime was delivering a warm-hearted letter to my second cousin White House Chief of Staff, Andy Card, which correctly outlined the consequences of War. Suspiciously, I had been one of the very few Assets covering the Iraqi Embassy at the United Nations for seven years. Thus, I was personally acquainted with the truth about Pre-War Intelligence, which differs remarkably from the story invented by GOP leaders on Capitol Hill.


Egypt: Army orders last protesters out of Cairo square

Egyptian protester
Egyptian demonstrators protest in Cairo's main square square during the biggest anti-government protests in three decades in a bid to topple the government President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Egypt on January 31, 2011.
A few dozen Egyptian protesters who have held out in Cairo's Tahrir Square were cordoned by military police and soldiers on Monday, and they said they had been told by the army to leave or face arrest.

Traffic flowed relatively unhindered through the square, the hub of the mass uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak on Friday.

"We have half an hour left, we are cordoned by military police. We don't know what to do. We are discussing what to do now," one of the protesters, Yahya Saqr, told Reuters, adding that a senior officer "told us we have one hour to empty the square or we will be arrested".

Military police in red berets surrounded the protesters, who numbered about 40. The head of the military police was at the scene. Activists said two protesters had been detained.

Most of the anti-Mubarak banners which had adorned the square had been removed. Images of young Egyptians killed in the unrest, hailed as "martyrs of the revolution", still hung from lampposts.


Panel Casts Doubt on FBI Scientific Evidence in Anthrax Case

anthrax spores
© unknown
Anthrax spores
An independent panel of scientists has determined that the FBI did not have enough scientific evidence to produce a conviction in the case of the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people.

The National Academies of Sciences released a review Tuesday of the science used in the investigation. The $1.1 million report, which was commissioned by the FBI, concluded that the man accused in the case, Bruce Ivins, could have carried out the attacks, but the science alone did not prove it.

In October and September of 2001, letters containing anthrax killed five people and infected 17 others. Recipients included NBC News, The New York Post, Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

Even after over 600,000 investigator work hours spent by the FBI's "Amerithrax Task Force," the case against Ivins was largely circumstantial.

Ivins killed himself in 2008 just as the government was prepared to indict him. The Justice Department closed the case last year, concluding Ivins had acted alone in stealing the spores from the government lab where he worked.

The report released Tuesday questioned the link between a flask of anthrax found in Ivins' office and the letters.


Feds Approve Monsanto Herbicide-Resistant Crops

© Ian Hayhurst / Jared Rodriguez
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved plantings of three genetically engineered (GE) crops in as many weeks, including Monsanto Co.'s Roundup Ready sugar beets and alfalfa that are engineered to tolerate Roundup Ready weed-killing herbicide.

The USDA on February 11 also legalized, without restriction, the world's first GE corn crop meant for biofuel production. Biotech giant Syngenta's Event 3272 seed corn will simplify ethanol production and is not meant to feed animals or humans.

The approvals flew in the face of legal and regulatory challenges posed by GE crop opponents and members of the agricultural industry. Opponents fear the GE crop varieties could contaminate conventional food crops and promote the overuse of herbicides like the glyphosate-based Roundup and more toxic chemicals used to kill glyphosate-resistant weeds.

Monsanto won a victory on February 4 when the USDA partially deregulated Roundup Ready sugar beets. A federal court in August 2010 temporarily banned the beets and ordered the USDA to re-review the environmental impacts of the Roundup Ready sugar beets as the result of a lawsuit filed by farmers and environmental groups.

Plaintiff attorney Paul Achitoff from the environmental group Earthjustice said the USDA's decision to allow plantings of the sugar beets under "lax conditions" violates federal law. However, the USDA said the beets pose no "plant pest risk" and farmers can start planting them before a final Environmental Impact Statement is issued in 2012.


US: Deficit is Biggest as Share of Economy Since 1945

Obama budget
© AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Copies of President Obama's 2012 budget are delivered to the Senate Budget Committee by staff member Dylan Morris, Monday, Feb. 14, 2011, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Not since World War II has the federal budget deficit made up such a big chunk of the U.S. economy. And within two or three years, economists fear the result could be sharply higher interest rates that would slow economic growth.

The budget plan President Barack Obama sent Congress on Monday foresees a record deficit of $1.65 trillion this year. That would be just under 11 percent of the $14 trillion economy -- the largest proportion since 1945, when wartime spending swelled the deficit to 21.5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

The danger is that a persistently large gap in the budget could threaten the economy. Investors would see lending their money to the U.S. as riskier. So they'd demand higher returns to do it. Or they'd simply put their cash elsewhere. Interest rates on mortgages and other debt would rise as a result.

And if borrowing turned more expensive, people and businesses might scale back their spending. That would weaken an economy still struggling to lower unemployment, revive real estate prices and restore corporate and consumer confidence.

So far, it hasn't happened. It's still cheap for the government to borrow money and finance deficits. But economists fear the domino effect if all that changes.