Tuesday, April 7, 2015
A few months ago, Sony used a ridiculous "hacking" publicity stunt to generate some $40 million more in revenues for what would otherwise have been the latest Seth Rogen "comic" flop, in which the film agency blamed North Korea - which has about ten ultramodern 80386 computers in the entire country - for hacking its firewall, a hack which was subsequently revealed to be the result of disgruntled former employee. Fast forward to today, when moments ago CNN reported that Russian hackers which according to left "tell-tale codes and other markers that they believe point to hackers working for the Russian government", had penetrated the White House computer system.
Of course, reading beyond just the first paragraph reveals that this was anything but an actual hack: as CNN reports, "the White House has said the breach only ever affected an unclassified system." So anyone could have accessed it really. But for the sake of the second cold war let's make it seem that Vladimir Putin has nothing better to do than to sift through Obama's golfing schedule and discover what his true handicap is. Although it's clearly time to declare war on Syria's Assad in retaliation.
The humor continues:
The hackers had access to sensitive information such as real-time non-public details of the president's schedule. While such information is not classified, it is still highly sensitive and prized by foreign intelligence agencies, U.S. officials say.
It is also, well, public. It was unclear if Putin is now also in possession of Obama's real birth certificate.
It gets better.
To get to the White House, the hackers first broke into the State Department, investigators believe.The State Department computer system has been bedeviled by signs that despite efforts to lock them out, the Russian hackers have been able to reenter the system. One official says the Russian hackers have "owned" the State Department system for months and it is not clear the hackers have been fully eradicated from the system
It is settled then: clintonemail.com (and firstname.lastname@example.org) was more secure than the State Department. And to think people made fun of Hillary for taking the "less safe" route..
As in many hacks, investigators believe the White House intrusion began with a phishing email that was launched using a State Department email account that the hackers had taken over, according to the U.S. officials.
As in "click here if you want to add 7 inches to your penis..." or to download a free torrent of The Interview.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, in a speech at an FBI cyberconference in January, warned government officials and private businesses to teach employees what "spear phishing" looks like."So many times, the Chinese and others get access to our systems just by pretending to be someone else and then asking for access, and someone gives it to them," Clapper said.
So all it takes to penetrate what should be the safest, and most protected computer system in the world is a phishing email. Check.
It gets even better:
The ferocity of the Russian intrusions in recent months caught U.S. officials by surprise, leading to a reassessment of the cybersecurity threat as the U.S. and Russia increasingly confront each other over issues ranging from the Russian aggression in Ukraine to the U.S. military operations in Syria.The attacks on the State and White House systems is one reason why Clapper told a Senate hearing in February that the "Russian cyberthreat is more severe than we have previously assessed."
Yes, because only ferocious Russian hackers working directly for Vladimir Putin (according to "tell-tale" codes which experienced Russian hackers leave all the time) were capable enough of sending phushing emails to state department employees.
But the best part is that, supposedly, the evil, ferocious Russian hackers were first identified in October. Apparently it took 6 months, and a Clinton email server scandal to redirect public attention from her personal email server to that of the United States itself.
The White House in October said it noticed suspicious activity in the unclassified network that serves the executive office of the president. The system has been shut down periodically to allow for security upgrades.The FBI, Secret Service and U.S. intelligence agencies are all involved in investigating the breach, which they consider among the most sophisticated attacks ever launched against U.S. government systems. ?The intrusion was routed through computers around the world, as hackers often do to hide their tracks, but investigators found tell-tale codes and other markers that they believe point to hackers working for the Russian government. A spokesman for the National Security Council declined to comment.
And the punchline: "the Russian embassy did not respond to a request for comment."
Why, were they too busy laughing at this idiocy?
Then again, in retrospect this is par for the course for a country which is now officially preparing to blame the next market rash on, drumroll, "Russian spies."
Credit to Zero Hedge
Thomas Jefferson is credited with the following sage advice, “The central bank is an institution of the most deadly hostility existing against the Principles and form of our Constitution. I am an Enemy to all banks discounting bills or notes for anything but Coin. If the American People allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the People of all their Property until their Children will wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered.” And so it seems sometimes the answer is right in front of us all along and we just fail to see it.
We hear a lot of talk these days about inflation. For decades the western world has been misled about a necessity for inflation to grow an economy. This is entirely false. Inflation has no relevance to economic growth; inflation is a depressive force on an economy and it can only come by way of increased money supply.
The apex of the discussion is that price increase does not equate to inflation. Inflation is but one of two paths for rising prices. More specifically, prices can rise by way of supply/demand fundamentals of an asset itself and by way of supply/demand fundamentals of the currency form being used to transact the underlying asset. The prior will raise prices in all currency forms while the latter, being inflation, will raise prices only in that relevant currency.
For inflation to occur demand for a given currency must decline relative to its supply. This can happen if consumers lose faith in a currency and thus demand less of it, or by governments increasing supply without proportional increases in demand. The latter is exactly what we’ve seen over the past 100 years but to such a grotesque degree over the past 8 years that it may have actually shattered the foundation of the economy of which it was driving. This is precisely the chain reaction that Thomas Jefferson had warned us would result from a private central banking system.
Once the economy is broken an epidemic of resource misallocation leads to an immense narrowing of income distribution, ultimately paralyzing the velocity of money; the result being an income-less society save for an elite slice. This leads to mass public and consumer debt creation in an effort to stave off the collapsing natural demand that ultimately ends in deflation when the debt efforts, after a short reprise, actually hasten the collapsing demand by hammering the final nail in the budgetary coffin. At such a point deflation is essentially infinite as people are willing to trade anything for a dollar to purchase food, or inflation is infinite as people will simply circumvent dollars and barter; an interesting paradox that in practice will be a moot point given the vast majority will have nothing to trade for food or dollars because ownership is no longer a reality.
It seems then, that Jefferson’s prediction is theoretically sound, but let’s see if we can find any empirical evidence to either support or refute his cautionary message. We know that dollar inflation has been approximately 2400% since 1913, 2000% of that devaluation coming subsequent to 1971 when Nixon moved to a pure fiat currency. The reason we moved to a fiat currency is to remove the restriction on money supply that is inherent to a convertible currency. We can see in the next chart that inflation is directly linked to money supply, which has seen around 1700% increase since 1971.
This ‘easy’ money accelerated significantly around the mid 1990′s and this has led to a misallocation of resources. To see this, let’s look at the relationship between corporate fixed capital expenditures and dividends. The idea being that fixed capital expenditures are economically productive meaning they lead to economic expansion, whereas dividends divert cash off corporate balance sheets and thus detract from capital expenditures, having a contractionary force on the economy.
The above chart clearly depicts a significant change in the economy’s allocation of corporate resources at the same time money printing accelerated. Fixed capital investment was a much larger share of GDP than dividends up until the mid 1990′s when that began to reverse. Again moving to a market environment that promotes a contracting rather than expansionary economic process. We should be able to see this effect actually taking place via declining capacity utilization. As a result of that we should then see declining labour participation rate and declining incomes from slack in the labour market. Looking at the data this is exactly what we find.
Notice that all three indicators begin to trend downward around 1998, shortly after (and one could suggest as a direct result of) the resource misallocation that began a few years earlier in the mid 1990′s. The next link in this chain should be an expansion of consumer loans in an attempt to offset the resulting demand deterioration from the weakening job market conditions.
We find abundant empirical evidence in the above charts showing an acceleration of consumer debt during the mid 1990′s and again around 2009. And this is perfectly in line with our theory and so we seem to be on the right track. Now the obvious result of massive increases in consumer debt is that ownership is being replaced by indebtedness. That is, to a great extent now we rent or borrower our assets as opposed to owning them.
In the above chart we see that home ownership is now back to the level it was before we ended Bretton Woods in 1971. And it’s not just housing, today about 75% of new car sales are being financed and with longer maturities than ever before. In short, ownership of the 2 major assets typical to the traditional American family has been on a sharp decline for the past 10 years with no signs of slowing.
The American dream is built on ownership because it represents substantive progress by way of building a family’s net worth. A net worth that has declined by 40% since 2007 for all but the very top of the economic food chain. But it’s not only the American dream that is in retreat. The reality is that over the past 8 years increases in public debt have outgrown increases in GDP. The nation is borrowing more than it’s producing and spending more than it’s collecting every quarter. A trend that is to continue and to worsen each and every new year according to the CBO’s own projections.
Where does this leave America and really the rest of the western world whose data will mirror the US?
Credit to Zero Hedge
Seventeen Martial Law Characteristics
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards “are preparing for war” in the event that negotiations to turn Thursday’s framework nuclear agreement into a binding deal by June 30 collapse, an Israeli TV report said Sunday night, citing Arab intelligence agencies.
The Israeli Channel 10 report said Arab intelligence agencies have warned “France, the UK and the US” that the Revolutionary Guards fear Iran could face a military strike should the talks break down, and that the Guards are ready to close the Strait of Hormuz and take other unspecified measures. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the US was working as recently as January on improving its biggest bunker buster bombs in case they were needed for strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The Sunday Israeli TV report highlighted the major discrepancies that have emerged between the US and Iran since the framework agreement was announced on Thursday, raising the concern that the non-binding understandings reached to date will fall apart and the negotiations collapse.
A little over a month ago, the Revolutionary Guards held large-scale naval and air defense drills near the Strait of Hormuz — a strategic Gulf waterway, through which one fifth of the world’s oil passes — in which dozens of speedboats swarmed a replica of a US aircraft carrier. State TV showed footage of missiles fired from the coast and fast boats striking the mock US aircraft carrier. The late February drill also included shooting down a drone and planting undersea mines.
The Guards announced they had test-fired a “new strategic weapon” during the drill, saying the system would play a key role in any future battle against the United States.
The White House said on Friday it was “confident” that it could get the deal “in place” by June 30. But key differences have emerged between the sides on what was agreed to date, and Iranian leaders warned over the weekend that they will resume higher-level uranium enrichment and other nuclear activity if they deem that the world powers are not keeping to what they consider the terms of the agreement.
Iran “will be able to return” its nuclear program to the same level if the other side fails to honor the deal, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Saturday.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani highlighted one of the central areas of disagreement Sunday — the timing and scale of sanctions relief. While the US has made clear that economic sanctions will be lifted in phases, an official Iranian foreign ministry fact sheet provides for the immediate lifting of all sanctions as soon as a final agreement is signed. “During the negotiations, we have always planned for the termination of the economic, financial and banking sanctions and we have never negotiated on their suspension, otherwise, no understanding would be made,” Rouhani said on Sunday. “We will have a difficult path ahead in the stage of drafting the final deal,” Rouhani noted.
Sunday’s Israeli TV report also claimed that Saudi Arabia was furious with the P5+1 negotiators over aspects of the framework deal, notably clauses relating to inspection of Iranian facilities. The failure to ensure “anytime, anyplace” inspection constitutes a central flaw in potential supervision of Iranian activities, Saudi diplomats were reported to be complaining.
On Saturday night, a leading Israeli analyst highlighted six gaping areas of discrepancy between the American and Iranian accounts of what the agreement actually entails.
US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif (right). (photo credit: AFP/Brian Snyder, Pool)
Ehud Ya’ari, Middle East analyst for Israel’s Channel 2 News and an international fellow at the Washington Institute think tank, said the six discrepancies represent “very serious gaps” at the heart of the framework accord. They relate to issues as basic as when sanctions will be lifted, and how long restrictions on uranium enrichment will remain in place.
Referring to Thursday’s American-issued “Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” on the one hand, and the “fact sheet” issued Friday by the Iranian Foreign Ministry, on the other, Ya’ari noted that no deal was actually signed on Thursday, and that the leaders’ statements and the competing fact sheets were thus critical to understanding what had been agreed.
He cited gulfs on issues including the timing and extent of sanctions relief, enrichment restrictions, ongoing research on advanced centrifuges, inspections, the fate of Iran’s stockpile of lower-enriched uranium, and the possible military dimensions of the Iranian program.
Credit to Israel Times
Read more: Iran's Revolutionary Guards said 'preparing for war' in case deal collapses | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/irans-revolutionary-guards-said-preparing-for-war-in-case-deal-collapses/#ixzz3Wao5cIOp