Information security and warfare metaphors: a toxic mix made in hell

I once found myself staying in a small hotel with a "State Department" family whose members clearly all worked for some kind of three letter agency (the family patriarch had been with USAID with the tanks rolled into Budapest) and I had some of the weirdest discussions of my life with them. Read the rest

Semper Fur: fursuit technician improves military cooling vest and troops are into it

Furry fans sometimes use cooling vests to make hot fursuits comfortable to wear. Soldiers also have need for such garments. And now a Dutch fursuit maker has improved the state of the art.

Tired of overheating in his own fursuit, Pepeyn Langedijk adapted a military cooling vest to his own ends to create the EZ Cooldown vest. Langedijk, a resident of the Netherlands, goes by “EZ Wolf” in lupine costume and named his invention after his character.

Langedijk and his husband Tom live in Amsterdam and run the EZ Cooldown business together full-time. They met during Elfia, a medieval fantasy reenactment fair, and their hobbies led them to test their product on themselves. The team told The Daily Beast that they sold more than a thousand vests in 2018, which each retail for $215, packs included. Roughly 80 percent of the company’s sales are to U.S. customers.

The pair don’t have official military contracts, but they told The Daily Beast that a small group of U.S. Navy troops in Japan reached out to EZ Cooldown three years ago to ask if the company could ship to military bases. The service members ended up buying 10 vests, then their friends bought 20, then 30, Langedijk said. He still doesn’t know how they heard of his product.

Read the rest

Security researcher cracks high-security lock used for ATMs, Air Force One, military bases

At this year's Defcon Lock Picking Village, Ioactive's Mike Davis will present a method for cracking high-security locks made by Dormakaba Holding, a Swiss company. The locks are used in very high-stake applications, from security ATMs to Air Force One, as well as guarding classified and sensitive materials on US military bases. Read the rest

Live mortar shell turns up at Goodwill

Someone dropped donated a live mortar shell to Goodwill in Placerville, Califonia. While the shell, thought to be leftover from World War II, would likely have fetched more than the usual bric-à-brac on offer, the organization is clear that they don't accept donations of live ammunition. From CBS Sacramento:

Goodwill says people often drop off items in boxes that haven’t been looked through, and sometimes the donations are from a deceased war veteran...

“As we sort through those things we often find war memorabilia, grenades, it’s rare that we find a live grenade or any live ammunition, but when we do we have protocols in place to make sure that we dispose of it safely,” said Richard Abrusci, President and CEO of Goodwill Sacramento.

In the case of this potentially explosive mortar, the bomb squad came in to take it away and disposed of it at Travis Air Force Base.

Read the rest

Texas' new cannabis laws screw PTSD sufferers. Again.

Back in 2015, the great state of Texas passed The Compassionate Use Act, making the use of cannabis for medical purposes totally cool... in a small number of instances. Only those with epilepsy are allowed to use the plant's properties to ease their symptoms and the cannabis that they're allowed to use must contain minuscule amounts of THC. This left Texans who'd like to turn to cannabis to help ease their way out of opioid use or deal with chronic pain, to saddle up and move to a less restrictive state or risk being arrested. Recently, the state's lawmakers looked to reforming the restrictive act, Once again, too small a group of folks wound up being told that they're cool to roll with a bit of cannabis in their lives. One of the biggest groups excluded: individuals suffering from PTSD.

From The Texas Observer:

Activists say opposition to cannabis reform is partially based on fearmongering over alleged dangers of marijuana by Republicans and law enforcement officials, a powerful group at the Lege. False claims and junk science often go unchallenged in a vacuum created by the lack of research into cannabis. (Marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug is a significant barrier to studying the plant’s uses.) For three sessions, the Rural Sheriffs Association of Texas has peddled its report that falsely claims pot lowers IQ scores, is addictive and increases criminality. In March, Plano Police Sergeant Terence Holway told lawmakers in a committee hearing that “all drug addicts … started with marijuana.”

Brian Birdwell, a GOP state senator and Desert Storm Army veteran, spoke about his “highly guarded sense of danger” about marijuana for more than 20 minutes during the Senate debate of HB 3703.

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America can only go to war against Iran if it reinstates the draft

Gil Barndollar -- a Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan, the Republic of Georgia, Guantanamo Bay and Bahrain, who also holds a PhD in History from Cambridge -- writes in USA Today about what a US regime change effort in Iran would mean, logistically speaking. Read the rest

Leaked UK military "Extreme Right Wing" checklist: "using the term 'Islamofascism'", adding "-istan" to place names

The UK Ministry of Defense has confirmed the authenticity of a leaked copy of its 2017 leaflet, "Extreme Right Wing (XRW) Indicators & Warnings," provided to senior defense staff to help them identify and root out far-right extremists in the ranks. Read the rest

Arizona sky penis

Again with the military and the sky penises. Last time I posted about this, it was Navy pilots pulling a prank over the state of Washington. This week, it was Air Force fighter jets over Arizona's Luke Air Force Base and the official statement is that it was an "accident." From CNN:

"We've seen the photos that have been circulating online from Tuesday afternoon. 56th Fighter Wing senior leadership reviewed the training tapes from the flight and confirmed that F-35s conducting standard fighter training maneuvers ... resulted in the creation of the contrails," an Air Force spokesperson told CNN. "There was no nefarious or inappropriate behavior during the training flight." Read the rest

Navy: Service members in "Make Aircrews Great Again" patches during Trump Japan visit may have violated regulations

The Navy is reviewing whether service members violated Defense Department regulations by wearing "Make Aircrew Great Again" uniform patches during President Trump's visit to their ship in Japan, reports the Associated Press. Read the rest

Under Trump, immigrants who serve in the armed forces are finding it harder to attain citizenship than those who do not serve

Serving in the US military has long been a path to citizenship for immigrants to the USA, but after a suite of reforms instituted by the Trump regime, immigrants who serve in the US military are less likely to attain citizenship than immigrants who don't serve. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren calls for a zero-emissions military, serviced by zero-emissions contractors

In her latest detailed policy proposal, would-be 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Elizabeth Warren sets out a Green New Deal for the US military, whose own policy analysts have identified climate change and energy independence as serious risks to US security. Read the rest

Hilarious cockpit transcript of the Navy pilots who drew a giant penis in the sky over Washington

On November 16, 2017, the crew of a Navy EA-18G Growler jet delighted sixth graders, launched a meme, and pissed off prudes everywhere by drawing a penis in the sky with their engine exhaust over the state of Washington. Their prank caused quite a stir in the Navy, even leading to an "official information dispatch" to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. It's still unknown how much trouble the pilots got themselves into but the Navy Times has just received a copy of the full report thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request. The cockpit transcripts are fantastic. From the Navy Times:

“You should totally try to draw a penis,” the (pilot's cockpit partner, an electronic warfare office [EWO]) advised.

“I could definitely draw one, that would be easy,” the pilot boasted. “I could basically draw a figure eight and turn around and come back. I’m gonna go down, grab some speed and hopefully get out of the contrail layer so they’re not connected to each other....”

“Balls are going to be a little lopsided,” the pilot advised.

“Balls are complete,” he reported moments later. “I just gotta navigate a little bit over here for the shaft.”

“Which way is the shaft going?” the EWO asked.

“The shaft will go to the left,” the pilot answered.

“It’s gonna be a wide shaft,” the EWO noted.

“I don’t wanna make it just like 3 balls,” the pilot said.

“Let’s do it,” the EWO said. “Oh, the head of that penis is going to be thick.”

Read the rest

John Bolton has always been at war with Iran, soon America will be too

Anyone else getting Iraq déjà vu?

Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry gave 6 secret authorizations to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia

U.S. Department Of Energy Secretary Rick Perry gave “six secret authorizations by companies to sell nuclear power technology and assistance to Saudi Arabia,” Reuters reports, based on a copy of a document seen by reporters on Wednesday. Read the rest

Pentagon reassures public that its autonomous robotic tank adheres to "legal and ethical standards" for AI-driven killbots

The Pentagon is seeking bids to improve its Advanced Targeting and Lethality Automated System (ATLAS) so that it can "acquire, identify, and engage targets at least 3X faster than the current manual process." Read the rest

Pentagon Inspector General reveals widespread retaliation against whistleblowers with impunity for the retaliators and the wrongdoers

Last November, the Pentagon's Inspector General presented Congress with a "little-noticed" report on whistleblowing in the US military, revealing that those who come forward with claims of misconduct including sexual harassment and safety problems face a "culture of retaliation" including black marks on their service records, demotion, and suspension of security clearance; the IG also reported that in nearly every case, the officers who retaliated against whistleblowers faced no consequences for their actions. Read the rest

US Air Force proposal: pause the Earth's rotation so nukes would miss targets

In 1960, the US Air Force asked the RAND Corporation to evaluate the possibility of using stationary rockets to pause the Earth's rotation in the event of a nuclear attack. Called "Project Retro," the idea was that the "a huge rectangular array of one thousand first-stage Atlas engines... (would) be fastened securely to the earth in a horizontal position." As missiles approached, the rockets would fire, stopping the Earth's rotation just enough for the nukes to overshoot their targets. In the book The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Daniel Ellsberg, who assessed the problematic proposal, wrote that everything “that wasn’t nailed down, and most of what was as well, would be gone with the wind, which would itself be flying at super-hurricane force everywhere at once." Not only that, he says, but the plan would actually require one million billion rockets:

If you do the maths, that’s about 2.6 x 1021 kilograms of propellant – or to put it another way, that’s about 500 times the mass of the Earth’s atmosphere.

So even assuming you could build that many engines, once you fired them for the time that was needed to change the Earth’s rotation, you would have put 500 times as much gas into the atmosphere, and this would all be incredibly hot combustion products.

So even if your targets were to survive the nuclear war, everyone would then be incinerated by all the exhaust gases spreading around the planet.

"That Time the U.s. Air Force Proposed Using Rockets to Stop the Earth’s Rotation" (Daily Grail)

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg (Amazon)

For even more on Project Retro and RAND, listen to my old friend Ken Hollings's excellent 2008 BBC radio documentary "RAND: All Your Tomorrows Today"

(image: detail of "Wernher von Braun with the F-1 engines of the Saturn V first stage at the U.S. Read the rest

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