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Pakistani IT consultant Sohaib Athar has effectively obliterated my little corner of Twitter history by live-tweeting the assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound – which resulted in the terrorist leader’s death – without even knowing it. Under the Twitter handle @ReallyVirtual, Athar’s historic tweets began innocuously enough with this observation: “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event),” and jokingly threatening to take out his “giant swatter.” (h/t Shoq)

The 33 year-old Athar certainly knows about it now, but at the time, the acerbic geek-squadder just wanted some peace and quiet. His Twitter bio says, simply, “An IT consultant taking a break from the rat-race by hiding in the mountains with his laptops,” and his first several tweets bear that sentiment out, as he just seems relieved when the noise stops.

As if any further evidence was needed that Twitter has more than come of age, Athar’s feed offers a compelling, at times funny (he even creates a running gag about his copter-swatter), window that didn’t exist when bin Laden first took flight, and one which history may record as the first of its kind. Imagine a tweet from a cranky theatergoer in 1865 that read, “Trying to enjoy play, some knucklehead making racket in balcony. #usherfail.”

Update: Here’s a link to a compilation of tweets from the region.

Hilarious! Growing up without a cell phone 
   If you are 35, or older, you might think this is hilarious!

When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking twenty-five miles to school every morning…. Uphill… Barefoot… BOTH ways…yadda, yadda, yadda

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they’ve got it!
But now that I’m over the ripe old age of forty, I can’t help but look around and notice the youth of today.  You’ve got it so easy!  I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia!  And I hate to say it, but you kids today, you don’t know how good you’ve got it!

1) I mean, when I was a kid we didn’t have the Internet.  If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!! 

2) There was no email!!  We had to actually write somebody a letter – with a pen!  Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox, and it would take like a week to get there!  Stamps were 10 cents!

3) Child Protective Services didn’t care if our parents beat us.  As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our ass! Nowhere was safe! 4) There were no MP3’s or Napsters or iTunes!  If you wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the record store and shoplift it yourself!

5) Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio, and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and @#*% it all up!  There were no CD players!  We had tape decks in our car.  We’d play our favorite tape and “eject” it when finished, and then the tape would come undone rendering it useless.  Cause, hey, that’s how we rolled, Baby!  Dig?

6) We didn’t have fancy crap like Call Waiting!  If you were on the phone and somebody else called, they got a busy signal, that’s it! 7) There weren’t any freakin’ cell phones either. If you left the house, you just didn’t make a damn call or receive one. You actually had to be out of touch with your “friends”. OH MY GOSH !!!  Think of the horror… not being in touch with someone 24/7!!!  And then there’s TEXTING.  Yeah, right.  Please!  You kids have no idea how annoying you are. 8) And we didn’t have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was!  It could be your school, your parents, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, the collection agent. you just didn’t know!!!  You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister! 9) We didn’t have any fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics!  We had the Atari 2600!  With games like ‘Space Invaders’ and ‘Asteroids’.  Your screen guy was a little square!  You actually had to use your imagination!!!  And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen.. Forever!  And you could never win.  The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died!  Just like LIFE! 10) You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! You were screwed when it came to channel surfing!  You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel!!!  NO REMOTES!!!  Oh, no, what’s the world coming to?!?!11) There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning.  Do you hear what I’m saying? We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-bastards!12) And we didn’t have microwaves.  If we wanted to heat something up, we had to use the stove!  Imagine that!   
13) And our parents told us to stay outside and play… all day long.  Oh, no, no electronics to soothe and comfort.  And if you came back inside… you were doing chores! 
      And car seats – oh, please!  Mom threw you in the back seat and you hung on.  If you were lucky, you got the “safety arm” across the chest at the last moment if she had to stop suddenly, and if your head hit the dashboard, well that was your fault for calling “shot gun” in the first place! 

      See!  That’s exactly what I’m talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You’re spoiled rotten!  You guys wouldn’t have lasted five minutes back in 1970   or any time before!Regards,
The Over 40 Crowd

Just Briefed By VERY Senior Retired CIA Officer. “Egypt Is Possible/Probable Disaster For US”
Old proven source | Friends and Fiends

Posted on Friday, January 28, 2011 6:01:22 PM by MindBender26

As many of you know, am old network TV newsie. Just tapped former proven source, retired VERY senior CIA officer. No Hq paper-pusher type, he is the real deal, a highly successful very senior ME field operator. Retired as ES-4.

From an intel assesment stanspoint, he is a proven source, with access to information, extensive field work in the area, no reason to lie and has always given good data in past.

His assessment (in shorthand:)

1. If Egypt falls, disaster for US. Put succinctly; “the horse we bet all our life savings on may be about to drop dead in the backstretch.”

2. If Egypt gmvt falls, radical Muslim Brotherhood will be the new power, totally.

3. If Egypt falls, Jordan and Saudi are in trouble, but not necessarily gone. Even Syria is not safe.

4. Although Muslim Brotherhood would take over, the cause of revolt is not religion but the lack of jobs, horrible standard of living. Saudi and Jordan citizens have somewhat better conditions, so might be saved.

5. Egyptian Army is the absolute key. If Army stays local, Mubarak may be safe. If they falter, he is absolute toast.

6. Problem is, Army does not like Mubarak. They loved Sadat, he was one of them, but they do not like Hosni.

7. If Egypt falls, biggest winners are Iran and Russia. Iran becomes big kid on block. Russia desperately needs crude oil prices to go up to help economy. They prosper at $90 barrel crude. This could create $220, $250 a barrel crude oil prices

8. Big loser? Surprisingly not Israel. Just more enemies… who all know Israel will take war nuc if necessary to save self…. but due to US aid, Egyptian Army has great American equipment.

9. Biggest loser #2; Western Europe

10. Biggest loser #1; USA. Oil prices cripple economy. Even worse, word in every diplomatic circle becomes “See what happens to America’s friends.”

Bottom line; possible/probable disaster for US

     Claiming the regulations are needed to protect the free and open nature of the Internet, the FCC today voted, 3-2, to implement regulations that will control the websites on the Internet. Republicans had warned the FCC that the Commission lacked the authority with regard to the measure, while others, like Sen. Al Franken, claim the FCC’s actions are too weak, and do not go far enough.

        Congress has the power to, in an oversight role, vote to overturn the regulations, and that action has not been ruled out.

The FCC Again Resumes its Unauthorized Internet Agenda
The Washington Examiner, By Seton Motley

The estimable John Eggerton of Broadcasting & Cable reports: The (Federal Communications Commission-FCC) is issuing a public notice to “improve the FCC’s understanding of business broadband needs,” calling it the “next step” advancing the FCC’s small business broadband agenda.

Only one problem with this FCC assertion. They’re not supposed to have a small business broadband agenda. Or a broadband agenda. Or any sort of Internet agenda at all.

      These types of speeches are being given to give fuel to the “need” to control the Internet:

The deluge of information available on the Web has made the country ungovernable, according to Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Perry Barlow.

“The political system is broken partly because of Internet,” Barlow said. “It’s made it impossible to govern anything the size of the nation-state. We’re going back to the city-state. The nation-state is ungovernably information-rich.”

Speaking at Personal Democracy Forum in New York on Thursday, Barlow said there is too much going on at every level in Washington, D.C., for the government to effectively handle everything on its plate. Instead, he advocated citizens organizing around the issues most important to them.

Barlow also said that President Barack Obama’s election, driven largely by small donations, has fundamentally changed American politics. He said a similar bottom-up structure is needed for governing as well.

“It’s not the second coming, everything won’t get better overnight, but that made it possible to see a future where it wasn’t simply a matter of money to define who won these things,” Barlow said. “The government could finally start belonging to people eventually.”

The full article:

Bill would give president emergency control of Internet

Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.

They’re not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.

For full story:

NOTE: Sounds like controls in North Korea and China!!!

Forthcoming legislation would wrest cybersecurity responsibilities from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and transfer them to the White House, a proposed move that likely will draw objections from industry groups and some conservatives.

CNET News has obtained a summary of a proposal from Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) that would create an Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor, part of the Executive Office of the President. That office would receive the power to disconnect, if it believes they’re at risk of a cyberattack, “critical” computer networks from the Internet.

“I regard this as a profoundly and deeply troubling problem to which we are not paying much attention,” Rockefeller said a hearing this week, referring to cybersecurity.

Giving the White House cybersecurity responsibility was one of the top recommendations of a commission that produced a report last year to advise President Obama on cybersecurity issues. However, the Homeland Security Department, which currently has jurisdiction over cybersecurity, has insisted the reshuffling of duties is not needed.

Given the enormity of cybersecurity threats, the responsibility is a natural fit for the White House, said James Lewis, a director and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which issued last year’s commission report.

“The Obama administration has an adviser on energy and climate change, and that’s good and important,” Lewis said, “but we’re still in the mode that cyber is less important.”

While the bill is still in draft form and thereby subject to change, it would put the White House National Cybersecurity Advisor in charge of coordinating cyber efforts within the intelligence community and within civilian agencies, as well as coordinating the public sector’s cooperation with the private sector. The adviser would have the authority to disconnect from the Internet any federal infrastructure networks–or other networks deemed to be “critical”–if found to be at risk of a cyberattack.

The private sector will certainly speak out if this provision is included in the final draft of the bill, a representative of the technology industry who spoke on condition of anonymity said.

“You can be assured that if that idea is put into legislation we would certainly have views on it,” he said. “It’s not trivial.”

While the person did not take a stance on whether the White House is the appropriate place to put cybersecurity jurisdiction, he said, “cybersecurity is a cross-cutting issue, across all government agencies, so leadership at the top is useful.”

The bill could also make the proposed cyber adviser responsible for conducting a quadrennial review of the country’s cybersecurity program, as well as for working with the State Department to develop international standards for improving cybersecurity.

The draft version of the bill also establishes a clearinghouse for the public and private sectors to share information about cyberthreats and vulnerabilities. It also creates a Cybersecurity Advisory Panel consisting of outside experts from industry, academia, and nonprofit groups to advise the president.

Because many federal contracting officers do not currently include security provisions into federal procurements, the bill could also establish a “Secure Products and Services Acquisitions Board” to review and approve all federal acquisitions.

At Thursday’s hearing, Edward Amoroso, AT&T’s senior vice president and chief security officer, said the federal procurement process “needs to be upgraded to implement sufficient security protections.”

Some industry groups are warning, however, that adding customized requirements to the government’s procurement process may inhibit the government’s ability to take advantage of the innovations and cost benefits available from commercial technology.

“Simply put, the government cannot reach its security goals by compromising its access to commercial solutions and processes, nor can it technologically or financially afford it,” the Business Software Alliance wrote in a memo to Melissa Hathaway, the acting senior director for cyberspace at the White House National and Homeland Security Councils, who is conducting a 60-day review of cybersecurity programs for President Obama. “Rather than imposing overbroad security requirements, government needs to be selective and limit them to high-criticality systems.”

The bill may also subject both government and private sector networks to cybersecurity standards established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It may also provide for a professional licensing and certification program for cybersecurity professionals.

The senators also want to create greater general awareness of the importance of cybersecurity, so the legislation would expand scholarships for students studying cybersecurity, create an annual cybersecurity competition and prize for students, and initiate a cybersecurity awareness campaign. It would also increase cybersecurity research and development funding for the National Science Foundation.

Lewis said he is very pleased with the Senate’s work on this bill so far.

“Having a knowledgeable and powerful group of senators that are willing to pick up the ball and run with it is really encouraging,” he said.

Given the broad nature of the legislation–which spans intelligence and homeland security issues, as well as commerce issues–Rockefeller may have to work with the leaders of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and other leaders in the Senate to shape the final version.

An industry representative said, though, that Rockefeller’s previous experience chairing the Select Committee on Intelligence will improve the bill’s chances of advancing.

“His personal credibility and experience allow him to play a role that another chairman might necessarily have been able to play,” the industry representative said.




Obama aboard Marine One
Obama aboard Marine One

Posted: 5:03 pm
March 1, 2009

Blueprints for the President’s helicopter along with its engineering and communications information were discovered on an Iranian internet address in a potentially alarming security breach, it was reported last night.

“We found a file containing entire blueprints and avionics package for Marine One, which is the President’s helicopter,” said Bob Boback, CEO of Tiversa, a Pittsburgh-based software company that discovered the security breach, according to WPXI-NBC.

Company officials believe the secret information about the ultra high-tech Marine One was exchanged through a peer-to-peer file-sharing program that was downloaded by a defense contractor in Bethesda, Md.

The program reportedly allowed a hacker in Tehran to access the plans.

“When you are downloading one of these file-sharing programs, you are effectively allowing others around the world to access your hard drive,” Boback told the television station.

The government was immediately notified of the violation, but Boback cautioned that Iranians weren’t the only ones downloading the sensitive material.

“We’ve noticed it out of Pakistan, Yemen, Qatar and China. They are actively searching for information that is disclosed in this fashion because it is a great source of intelligence.”


So. Secret Service, do we still think that it is agood idea for President Obama to keep his Blackberry?

President Obama's first flight in Marine One.