Jasper Journal

Which Way Will We Go?

by on Aug.28, 2015, under Economy, Politics

by Scott

The last time I checked we (the U.S. and our allies) won the Cold war against the Soviet Union. We thought this proved Communism (Marxism, Leninism) was relegated to the ash heap of history. This meant that the highly centralized planning of an economy had failed. Even today the economy of socialistic Venezuela is failing. The Communist dictatorship and economic model of Cuba has strangled the creativity of that country. Castro and a small elite ruling class are wealthy and there is little to no middle class. (However, Cuba might take credit for keeping 1950s and 1960s automobiles running and may have the largest stock of valuable custom antique cars on the face of the earth). North Korea’s population is starving and living in the dark ages.

So we won the cold war and now, amazingly, there are significant numbers of liberal left politicians and citizens who think a more socialistic model (e.g.; big government and strangling regulations that take away freedom) would be a good economic model for the U.S. Socialism would supposedly care better for the downtrodden and poor by ensuring wealth redistribution. Socialism is the utopia of fairness. In truth, socialism taken to its extreme destroys people who disagree with the police-state leadership. It was Prime Minister Thatcher of Great Britain who said that the problem with socialism is that finally you run out of other people’s money.

The liberal left sees capitalism as a bad system. I wonder if they really know the difference between socialism and capitalism. I wonder what happened in our education system to bring them to those conclusions. Well, one big difference is that common sense and free-market capitalism affords ownership of private property and growth in an economy instead of over-regulation, stagnation and the destruction of entrepreneurship. Free market capitalism means growth in jobs and opportunities for people to earn a living, get raises and to better their living environment and family situations. It allows for a thriving middle class and the chance to earn wealth. In today’s civil society, capitalism is not a crushing system holding a manufacturing class in poverty and an unfair labor environment.

We are not yet a truly socialistic country, but under the current administration we are moving towards a type of big government “statism” that aims in the direction of socialism. There are progressive politicians pushing these types of policies. Most are Democrats. The President has adopted powers that go beyond what the constitution defines. The Congress has caved in to these power grabs. The president’s executive powers are backed by very powerful agencies (e.g.; the EPA, HHS, DOE, etc. which can develop their own regulations backed up by SWAT team law enforcement). I say NO to a government that gets bigger, more centralized and more powerful against its own citizens. I say NO to a highly centralized and socialistic or statist economy that enslaves people to a low quality of life. I say NO to another progressive liberal president whose policies strangle the economy and take away our freedoms.

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See Me Now or See Me Later

by on Aug.24, 2015, under Intelligence / National Security

By Scott for the Jasper Journal 24 August 2015

As we continue to debate yes or no concerning the nuclear “Deal” with Iran, I remember back to my early Navy days when I worked with a First Class Petty Officer, Marvin. Marvin built coffins in his spare time. His advertising said: “See me now or see me later.” I can’t help but see Congress’s choice to approve or not approve the “Deal” with Iran as being very similar. That is: vote no and Iran gets a nuke bomb soon. Vote yes and Iran gets a nuke bomb soon. The supposed secret part of the “Deal” between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) does not even allow IAEA personnel to do on-site inspections, but instead relies on cameras and photos to determine if Iran is cheating. Good luck on that. In my humble opinion I believe for either scenario we and other remnants of our allies will have to use force to stop the threat. The Ayatollah Khameini just said again that America is the main enemy and urged all of Islam to unite against us. So, either my generation confronts the inevitable, or, as Obama would like it, let the next president and our children’s generation to confront the problem.
The Iranians intend to get a bomb and put it on a missile that can, for starters, reach all of Israel and cities in Europe, not to mention other Middle Eastern countries they wish to bully. The so-called “Deal” does not inhibit Iranian purchase or development of such missiles. But here is what really worries me in the near term irrespective of when Iran will attempt a breakout for the bomb. Iran has its terrorist “army” called Hezbollah. I was with the Navy in the Mediterranean on October 23, 1983 when Hezbollah first appeared as a suicide truck driver for Islamic Jihad that drove a huge truck bomb into the foyer of a building used by the Marines for a barracks, and blew up and killed over 242 Marines. Within minutes the French were hit an 58 were killed. Today, Hezbollah has metastasized and is embedded in southern Lebanon as a hornet’s nest with thousands of rockets deployed for firing against Israel should the order be given. Hezbollah can be deployed to other regions should Iran want to do so. Hezbollah operatives tried to assassinate a Saudi official within the boundaries of the U.S. Hezbollah operatives have likely crossed our southern border and infiltrated as sleepers until needed. Hezbollah has tight links with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) which takes direct orders from top Iranian leadership to disperse the Hezbollah scourge.
And here’s the kicker. Iran does not need to fully develop an operational nuclear weapon sitting on top of a ballistic missile to wreak havoc in the region or far afield. Iran probably has the ability to produce a dirty bomb weapon now which might be deployable in concealed ways. The so called “Deal” will lift economic sanctions and free up 150 billion dollars to increase Iran’s flexibility to support terrorist operations such as the assembly and transport of dirty bomb material. Analysts say that freeing these funds could increase Iran’s funding of terrorism by 50%. To make a comparison, releasing 150 billion dollars to Iran is like releasing eight trillion dollars to the U.S. If the Deal is approved, the U.S. becomes the largest funder of Iranian terrorism. During all of this, the nuclear production centrifuges keep spinning.
What could Marvin say about this? “See me now. Keep Iran in the box.”

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Say it Aint So!

by on Aug.20, 2015, under Entertainment

How can it be! What is going on here? Cheating among military members on their spouses? As my friend Paul, the source of all my good quotes would remind me from Casablanca,  “Gambling, gambling, I’m shocked that there’s gambling in the casino.” So on a lighter note, unless you are involved as cheater or cheatee, I thought it was interesting all the  “dot mil ” addresses they found in the Ashley Madison audultery website hack.  But at least here, the Army is number one among cheaters. They can do more before nine in the morning than the rest of us can do all day. Perhaps not an army of one?  Anyway, an interesting look at how the military is using this site… or so it seems.

I  will be away for a week, but Paul, Pat, and Scott may decide to fill in occasionally. Be gentle with them. Have a great week and see you soon.

Users with military addresses among exposed in cheating site hack

By Erik Slavin
Stars and Stripes
Published: August 20, 2015

Thousands of registered email addresses believed to have been hacked from the cheating website Ashley Madison contain .mil domains, according to a Stars and Stripes analysis of the data.

Stars and Stripes found a full published list of the purported data released by the hacker group Impact Team. Searches on that list turned up 7,148 entries using army.mil; 3,448 using navy.mil; 616 using the Air Force’s af.mil; and, 64 using the Coast Guard’s email designation.

Hundreds of others used addresses assigned to joint commands or the Army’s newer mail.mil domain to register with Ashley Madison, whose website slogan reads, “Life is short. Have an affair.”

The Navy’s standardized addresses often include the command or ship. Anyone capable of downloading and parsing the data can, for example, see how many people aboard a specific aircraft carrier have ever registered on the site.

The data also include credit cards and home addresses associated with the site’s clients.

Even if the data are valid, as many security experts now believe it to be, some of the email addresses may not be accurate. Not all of the .mil addresses appeared to use the services’ standard formats for email addresses. Some addresses repeated, while others appeared to be alternate addresses for the same person.

Furthermore, Ashley Madison’s parent company took no steps to verify email addresses, according to the hackers.

Defense Department officials have said little so far about the breach.

“We are aware of the reporting,” Army Lt. Col. Joe Sowers, a spokesman at the Pentagon, told Military.com on Wednesday in an email. “However, we do not keep service email addresses centrally located. Confirmation of the emails would have to be handled by the services.”

According to The Associated Press, the French leak monitoring firm CybelAngel said it counted some 15,000 .gov or .mil addresses in the dump.

Using a government email to register for an adultery website may seem foolish, but CybelAngel Vice President of Operations Damien Damuseau told The AP that there was a certain logic to it. Using a professional address, he said, keeps the messages out of personal accounts “where their partner might see them.”

“It’s not that dumb,” Damuseau said.

The potential data hack also raises serious questions regarding military data security. For example, when applying for security clearances, servicemembers are routinely asked questions to determine whether they are susceptible to blackmail in exchange for government secrets.

Adultery is also considered a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

How many of the people registered with Ashley Madison actually used the site to seek sex outside their marriage is an unresolved question, according to The AP report. But whatever the final number, the breach is still a humbling moment for Ashley Madison, which had made discretion a key selling point. In a television interview last year, Chief Executive Noel Biderman described the company’s servers as “kind of untouchable.”

Brian Krebs, a blogger and journalist who originally broke the news of the hack last month, said that several sources had confirmed that their data and credit card information had been included in the dump.

“I’m sure there are millions of Ashley Madison users who wish it weren’t so, but there is every indication this dump is the real deal,” Krebs wrote on his website.

Avid Life Media, Ashley Madison’s Canada-based parent company, confirmed the hack with Krebs last month. Soon afterward, the hackers called for the site to shut down after alleging that it lied about a “full delete” service for customers wishing to leave the service site.

The hackers included a message along with the data dump claiming that few of the site’s members were actually women, while placing responsibility for the data breach on Avid Life Media.

“Find yourself in here? It was ALM that failed you and lied to you. Prosecute them and claim damages. Then move on with your life. Learn your lesson and make amends. Embarrassing now, but you’ll get over it.”

slavin.erik@stripes.com
Twitter:@eslavin_stripes

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