XIAM007

Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why did the director of the American cybersecurity arm of the DHS abruptly resign? -

Why did the director of the American cybersecurity arm of the DHS abruptly resign? - 


Why did the director of the agency tasked with protecting the American government from cybersecurity threats resign so abruptly at such a crucial time?
Is this related to the many attacks on federal networks and affiliates under the banner of the LulzSec-Anonymous Operation AntiSec?
Unfortunately, neither of these questions can be answered with any amount of certainty at this point.
What we do know is that Randy Vickers, former director of the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, or US-CERT, has resigned as of Friday, effective immediately.
US-CERT controls and defends the federal governments networks while cooperating with state and local governments and the private sector in their efforts to suppress breaches of critical or confidential information in America.
InformationWeek obtained an e-mail that was sent to US-CERT personnel by acting assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications, Bobbie Stempfley, revealing this resignation.
The veracity of the e-mail was confirmed by a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security.
However, the Department of Homeland Security failed to provide any explanations or reasons behind Vickers’ unexpected move.
The anonymous spokesperson for the DHS quoted by InformationWeek would not discuss the matter in any detail.
Until a successor for Vickers is appointed by the DHS, Deputy Director of US-CERT Lee Rock will hold the position. Stempfley related in the e-mail that they are “confident that [US-CERT] will continue its strong performance under his leadership.”
The timing of Vickers’ departure brings up a lot of questions. One of the most important, in my opinion, is if this is at all related to the relatively recent breach of Pentagon networks, supposedly by a foreign nation that resulted in 24,000 confidential documents being compromised.
It is equally likely that Vickers was just unhappy with his job and decided to leave, but the coincidental timing should raise a few questions among the public.
One other possibility is that Vickers resigned in protest of the lack of security or the decrepit systems used by the federal government.
This speculation has some basis in established fact, most prominent being that the United States Marine Corps General and vice chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James Cartwright has openly criticized the Department of Defense’s IT systems.
Cartwright said, “Quite frankly, my feeling is – at least being a never satisfied person – the department is pretty much in the Stone Age as far as IT is concerned.”
Could Vickers’ resignation be an effort to protest these backwards systems? Or was he just sick of working for the DHS?
Until we know more, only speculation is possible. However, the timing is quite noteworthy. Stay tuned for more information in the coming days.


Read more -
http://www.blacklistednews.com/Why_did_the_director_of_the_American_cybersecurity_arm_of_the_DHS_abruptly_resign%3F/14896/0/38/38/Y/M.html

Police use pepper spray on kangaroo attacking elderly woman... -

Police use pepper spray on kangaroo attacking elderly woman... - 


Two Australian police officers used pepper spray to fight off a rogue kangaroo that had attacked an elderly woman in her backyard in an Outback town, an official said.
Kangaroos rarely attack humans. 

Senior-Sergeant Stephen Perkins, head of police in the Queensland state town of Charleville, said he had never before heard of police using pepper spray against one - but that the tactic worked. "It did subdue the animal and drew its attention away for the officers, so it worked," Snr Sgt Perkins said.

The 94-year-old victim, Phyllis Johnson, was taken to a hospital for treatment for cuts and bruises after the attack.

She told The Courier Mail newspaper that she tried unsuccessfully to fight the kangaroo off with a broom after it attacked her while she was hanging her laundry.

"I thought it was going to kill me," she told the newspaper from her bed in Charleville Hospital. "It was taller than me and it just ploughed through the clothes on the washing line straight for me."

She said the kangaroo knocked her to the ground before she crawled to her house, where her son called police.

Snr Sgt Perkins said the first police officer to reach the backyard was forced to spray the kangaroo to avoid being injured. "The animal jumped away, then saw another officer at the back of the police car and went for that officer, and he also had to deploy his capsicum spray - so the roo had to get sprayed twice," he said. "After that, it hopped away from the scene, but police could still monitor its location - it didn't go too far."

Wildlife rangers trapped the kangaroo, Snr Sgt Perkins said. State wildlife authorities could not be immediately contacted for comment on its fate.

Snr Sgt Perkins said it was described as a male red kangaroo, the world's largest marsupial. Red kangaroos, named for their ginger fur, can stand as tall as a man and usually weigh around 90 kilograms.
Read more -

Kate Middleton Wears Pair of Princess Diana's Favorite Earrings -

Kate Middleton Wears Pair of Princess Diana's Favorite Earrings - 


Princess Diana at 50: Magazine Digitally Ages Beloved Royal


Kate Middleton, the newlywed bride of England's Prince William, displays the sapphire and diamond earrings that match her 19-carat engagement ring, both heirlooms from her husband's late mother, Princess Diana, princess of Wales. The earrings were thought to be among Diana's favorite and most precious jewels. Kate, the duchess of Cambridge, had the studs remodeled into drop earrings. She first wore them at Wimbledon in June and was spotted in them again this month during the couple's official visit to Canada and California.


Read more -
 http://abcnews.go.com/International/Royal_Wedding/slideshow/kate-middleton-fashion-princess-diana-earrings-13454490

Housing prices improved for the second straight month - However Housing Market Still Faces Danger of Drop -

Housing prices improved for the second straight month - However Housing Market Still Faces Danger of Drop - 


Housing prices improved for the second straight month, according to figures released on Tuesday from the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. However, in a live Web chat conducted at HousingViews.com, Dr. David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee, said that the seasonal effect appeared to be increasing.
During the chat, Robert Shiller, professor of economics at Yale University, said he was still concerned about a further drop in housing prices for the rest of the year. In February he had predicted the possibility of a substantial additional drop of 10% to 25% over the next five years. While he said that recent data lowered the chance of that a bit, it had not eliminated the risk.
Asked for the three most vital factors to consider in determining the future of the housing market, Shiller cited recent data first. Other important factors, he said, are employment data and survey measures of home buyer confidence, “such as the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index or the data that Karl Case and I have been collecting about home buyer attitudes.”
As a whole, he said, the economy is “at a turning point and there is much uncertainty now.”
Blitzer pointed out additional trouble spots: the current difficulty prospective home buyers have in qualifying for mortgages, the coming reduction in size of conforming mortgages by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in October, and poor consumer sentiment overall.
Karl Case, professor of economics emeritus at Wellesley College, pointed out an additional factor that could affect the housing market for some years to come. Prior to 2000, he said, each downturn was marked by rising interest rates to combat inflation and a fall in demand. Because the housing market, unlike most markets, generally does not see a proportional fall in prices in response to lack of demand, production of new homes falls and households increase until the situation stabilizes.
Read more - http://www.advisorone.com/2011/07/26/robert-shiller-housing-market-still-faces-danger-o

IRS’ Secret Crackdown on Real Estate Gifts - Quiet probe focuses on failure to report property transfers exceeding $13K -

IRS’ Secret Crackdown on Real Estate Gifts - Quiet probe focuses on failure to report property transfers exceeding $13K - 


It’s the little omissions that can trip you up—like not filing certain tax reports. The IRS gets annoyed about missing reports, and sometimes goes to considerable lengths to find delinquents.
Consider: The IRS has been in stealth mode for the past 18 months, searching for unreported gifts of real estate valued at more than the $13,000 per year filing threshold for individual gifts. Its activities blipped onto practioners’ radar in December when the Justice Department filed a petition in federal court on the agency’s behalf seeking permission to serve a so-called John Doe summons on the California Board of Equalization, a taxing body.
As described in several publications and analyzed in a number of law firm blogs and client alerts, the summons would require the board to turn over records of real property transfers by state taxpayers between 2005 and 2010. The California petition related to a “compliance initiative” launched by the IRS in early 2010 to investigate taxpayers who have failed to file Form 709 U.S. Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return.
California turned down the IRS request on May 20.
The most interesting aspect of the California proceeding was an affidavit filed in support of the Justice Department’s petition by Josephine Bonaffini, a licensed Boston attorney and the federal/state coordinator for the IRS Estate and Gift Tax Program.
Bonaffini reported that she had been working with IRS teams across the country to examine taxpayers who have transferred real property to related family members for little or no consideration and who have failed to file Form 709. So far, the IRS has received information about such transfers from 15 states, she said.
Read more - 

Hispanics Suffer Most in Wealth Decline - Recession, housing bubble collapse drive minority households down -

Hispanics Suffer Most in Wealth Decline - Recession, housing bubble collapse drive minority households down - 


Household wealth fell far more sharply among minorities than in white households, according to data analyzed by the Pew Research Center, with Hispanics taking the brunt of the losses.
In the analysis released Tuesday of newly available government data from 2009, Pew Research found that from 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth among Hispanic households fell by 66%, Asian households by 54%, and black households by 53%. In white households, wealth fell by only 16%.
These are the largest gaps since the government began publishing its data 25 years ago, and also approximately double the size of the ratios that were present among the three groups for the 20 years prior to the end of the Great Recession in 2009.
Thanks to the decline, while white households had a typical wealth level (assets minus debts) of $113,149, black households had $5,677 and Hispanic households $6,325. Also in 2009, approximately a third of Hispanic households (31%) and black households (35%) had zero or negative net worth, compared with white households at 15%. In 2005, before anything collapsed, black households were at 29%; Hispanic households were at 23%; and white households were at 11%.
According to a New York Times report, the data also reveal that approximately a quarter of all black and Hispanic households owned nothing but a car in 2009. Only 6% of whites and 8% of Asians found themselves in similar circumstances.
The data analyzed by Pew Research came from the Survey of Income and Program Participation(SIPP), which is distributed by the Census Bureau to thousands of homes periodically. It presents comprehensive data, by race and ethnicity, about wealth in the U.S. The two most recent surveys were in 2005 and 2009, and the 2009 data has only recently been released to researchers.
Read more - 

Boehner Hailed for Bringing 'Potty Parity' to House Floor -

Boehner Hailed for Bringing 'Potty Parity' to House Floor -




Capitol Hill has taken one small step for women's equality by reducing the number of steps congresswomen have to take to get to a restroom in the U.S. House.
Though there are far fewer women in the congressional chamber than men, their football field-length walk across a public hall inspired a four-year effort to bring ladies rooms closer to the House floor.
That effort achieved its goal last week when a new bathroom for female lawmakers opened, after Speaker John Boehner told the Architect of the Capitol to make it happen.

In achieving potty parity, the architect converted the Office of the Parliamentarian's space into a women's restroom. The parliamentarian moved across the hall into the Speaker's Ceremonial Office.
"House Speaker John A. Boehner is to be congratulated for directing the Architect of the Capitol to follow through on one of the options to create an easily accessible restroom for female members but the process started long before he became speaker," said John Banzhaf, a professor at George Washington University Law School and self-described "father of potty parity."
Banzhaf filed the first federal complaint when he began working on the issue in the 1990s, arguing that the lack of women's restrooms amounted to illegal gender discrimination and violated the constitutional right of Equal Protection.
The "Potty Parity Act," legislation first introduced last year in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, seeks to address the unequal number of restroom facilities for women in federal buildings by requiring at least a one-to-one ratio for toilets, including urinals, in women's and men's restrooms.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/07/26/congresswomen-get-closer-restroom-in-nod-to-potty-parity/?test=latestnews

Man attempts surgery on his hernia with butter knife, police say -

Man attempts surgery on his hernia with butter knife, police say - 


A 63-year-old Glendale man was in stable condition after he attempted surgery on himself with a six-inch butter knife to remove a protruding hernia from his stomach, police said Tuesday.
When police arrived at the man’s home on the 1000 block of Columbus Avenue on Sunday evening, they saw the man lying naked outside on a lounge chair with what appeared to be the handle of a knife protruding from his stomach, Sgt. Tom Lorenz of the Glendale Police Department told the Glendale News-Press.

As police waited for paramedics to arrive, Lorenz said the man pulled out the knife and shoved a cigarette he was smoking inside the open wound.
The man, whose name was not released, was immediately placed on a psychiatric hold and taken to a hospital, Lorenz said. The man’s wife had reportedly notified police that her husband had become upset about the hernia and wanted to take it out.

“It is absolutely impossible for someone to fix their own hernia,” said Sam Carvajal, a surgeon at Glendale Adventist Medical Center.
Read more - 

Debt Drama Blocks Out Big Picture on Credit - typical to always to warn that Armageddon is coming -

Debt Drama Blocks Out Big Picture on Credit - typical to always to warn that Armageddon is coming - 


As Washington continues to debate a debt deal, the Obama administration has been preparing the country for the worst, with officials essentially saying the sky is about to fall.
But so far, oddly enough, nothing has happened. Despite warnings that a deal would need to be brokered by Sunday night before the Asian markets opened, stocks merely stumbled on Monday — the type of weakness usually associated with soft corporate earnings instead of an economic apocalypse.
Wall Street’s blasé response presents a serious challenge for the administration. The government has been ringing the alarm bells of an impending catastrophe to add urgency to its efforts to get Republicans to hash out a compromise.
President Obama, in his address on Monday night, again warned of dire consequences if a deal is not reached.
“We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis, this one caused almost entirely by Washington,” he said.
While the sky indeed may fall if the sides cannot compromise, the fact that the market has been calm has served only to deepen the resistance to a deal. People who perhaps should be worried don’t seem to be, and worse, appear to have stopped listening to the warnings.
How did it come to this?
The administration may have made a strategic mistake in warning too soon that the market would react negatively. It ultimately undercuts the government’s negotiating position because the doomsday scenario has not played out, even though the deadline is fast approaching.
Read more - 

Study: Antibiotics beat cranberries at fighting bladder infections -

Study: Antibiotics beat cranberries at fighting bladder infections - 


Many women and doctors both swear by cranberry juice and capsules to treat reoccurring bladder infections, but a new Dutch study reveals that antibiotics may be more effective even if they contribute to a greater risk for antibiotic resistance.
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About half of all women experience urinary tract infections (UTIs) during their lifetime, and roughly 30 percent will develop recurrent UTIs. A great deal of women are also concerned about the resistance problem associated with taking antibiotics for a long period.
The study found that women who just took cranberry capsules were more likely to develop at least systematic UTI compared with their counterparts who received antibiotics.
Cranberries have long been used as a natural remedy to treat bladder infections and many doctors say they still have a role in in preventing UTIs. Dr. Carol Dean, a naturopathic physician in Maui, HI, told USA Today, "We have been using cranberry juice and extract for a long time, It stops adhesion of bacteria to the bladder wall."


Read more: http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/90055340?Study:%20Antibiotics%20beat%20cranberries%20at%20fighting%20bladder%20infections#ixzz1TDgQ3T6k

A priceless win at the Supreme Court? No, it has a price - costs somewhere north of $1,144,602.64 -

A priceless win at the Supreme Court? No, it has a price - costs somewhere north of $1,144,602.64 - 



That’s what the video game industry spent to convince the court that California’s law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to minors violated the First Amendment. And it asked the court Monday to make the state pay the legal cost of the case, most of which went to the law firm of Jenner & Block.
Two industry trade groups — the Entertainment Merchants Association and Entertainment Software Association — relied on civil rights laws in asking for the fees. Federal law allows the prevailing parties in such cases to collect their costs from the losing side.
In Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association , according to the motion, the industry “vindicated important First Amendment rights and enjoined enforcement of an unconstitutional law.” The court voted 7 to 2 to strike down the law, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing that the Constitution does not give a state a “free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed.”
Read more - 

China Completes Record Dive - 5,057 meters (16,591 feet), surpassing current U.S. capabilities and setting a milestone -

China Completes Record Dive - 5,057 meters (16,591 feet), surpassing current U.S. capabilities and setting a milestone - 


China's first manned deep-sea submersible completed a Pacific Ocean dive to 5,057 meters (16,591 feet), surpassing current U.S. capabilities and setting a milestone in a race to explore for potentially vast resources in the deepest parts of the world's oceans.
The Jiaolong set the Chinese record at 6:17 a.m. Beijing time Tuesday in the northeastern Pacific, between Hawaii and the North American mainland, according to a statement on the website of the State Oceanic Administration.
The three-person vessel carried out various tests, including landing on the seabed several times, and took photographs of sea creatures during the operation, which lasted almost six hours and was the second of four planned dives, according to the statement.
The dive means that the Jiaolong—named after a mythical Chinese sea dragon—is capable of reaching 70% of the ocean floor, the state-run Xinhua news agency said, adding that the vessel was expected to attempt a dive to 7,000 meters—the maximum it is designed to withstand—in 2012.
If that dive is successful, it would allow the Jiaolong to explore 99.8% of the seabed and put it at the top of a list of just five manned submersibles capable of diving below 3,500 meters, where many rich mineral deposits are thought to reside.
Japan's Shinkai can go down to 6,500 meters, Russia's Mir and France's Nautile to 6,000 meters, and the U.S.'s Alvin to 4,500 meters, although an upgraded version of the Alvin, designed to reach 6,500 meters, is scheduled to be ready by 2015.
The capability of such vessels is significant as rising commodity prices mean there is growing interest among state-run and private mining companies in exploiting mineral resources under the oceans, which cover about 70% of the Earth's surface.
The British journal Nature Geoscience published a paper this month in which Japanese researchers claimed to have discovered vast deposits of rare-earth minerals—used in a variety of high-tech products—on the ocean floor east and west of Hawaii at depths ranging from 3,500 meters to 6,000 meters.
Chinese officials have said the Jiaolong is designed to explore for valuable mineral resources on the ocean floor.
The Jiaolong is diving at the site in the Pacific because China was granted rights to explore for minerals there in 2001 by the International Seabed Authority, a U.N. body that oversees mining in international waters.
Read more - 

Broke! 10 Facts About The Financial Condition Of American Families That Will Blow Your Mind -

Broke! 10 Facts About The Financial Condition Of American Families That Will Blow Your Mind - 


The crumbling U.S. economy is putting an extraordinary amount of financial stress on American families.  For many Americans, "flat broke" has become a permanent condition.  Today, over half of all American families live paycheck to paycheck.  Unemployment is rampant and those that do actually have jobs are finding that their wages are rising much more slowly than prices are.  The financial condition of average American families continues to decline and this is showing up in all of the recent surveys.  For example, according to anew Gallup poll, "lack of money/low wages" is the number one financial concern for American families.  To make ends meet, many American families are going into even more debt and more American families than ever are turning to government assistance.  Right now, more Americans than at any other point since World War II are flat broke and have lost hope.  Until this changes, the frustration level in this country is going to continue to grow.
The following are 10 facts about the financial condition of American families that will blow your mind.....
#1 Only 58 percent of Americans have a job right now.
#2 Only 56 percent of Americans are currently covered by employer-provided health insurance.
#3 The median yearly wage in the United States is $26,261.
#4 The average American household is carrying $75,600 in debt.
#5 Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
#6 At this point, American families are approximately 7.7 trillion dollars poorer than they were back in early 2007.
#7 The poorest 50% of all Americans now own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.
#8 According to one study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United Stateswere living below the poverty line in 2010.
#9 Today, there are more than 44 million Americans on food stamps, and nearly half of them are children.
#10 According to Newsweek, close to 20 percent of all American men between the ages of 25 and 54 do not have a job at the moment.
So what is causing all of this?
Where in the world did all of the good jobs go?
Well, the truth is that millions of them have been shipped overseas.
Our politicians promised us that merging our economy with the economies of other nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages to workers would not create more unemployment inside America.
They were dead wrong.
Now we are being told that we just need to accept a lower standard of living.
For example, billionaire Howard Marks says that it is time for all of us to just accept that the standard of living of American workers is inevitably going to decline to the level of the rest of the world....
"In addition to balancing the budget and growing the economy, I think we have to accept that the coming decades are likely to see U.S. standards of living decline relative to the rest of the world. Unless our goods offer a better cost/benefit bargain, there’s no reason why American workers should continue to enjoy the same lifestyle advantage over workers in other countries. I just don’t expect to hear many politicians own up to this reality on the stump."
Are you willing to accept that?
Well, most Americans appear to be willing to accept this "new reality" because they keep sending most of the exact same bozos back to Washington D.C.
Meanwhile, the job losses continue to get worse.  As I wrote about the other day, as the U.S. economy has started to slow down again we are starting to see another huge wave oflayoffs all over America.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out where all of our jobs are going.  But unfortunately, most Americans don't understand what is happening because neither the mainstream media nor our politicians are telling them the truth.
For much more on how millions of our good jobs are being shipped out of the country, please see another article I recently published entitled "How Globalism Has Destroyed Our Jobs, Businesses And National Wealth In 10 Easy Steps".
But it is not just the globalization of the economy that is destroying our jobs.
The federal government bureaucracy has become so oppressive that it is amazing that anyone is still willing to hire workers in this day and age.
Hiring workers has become so complicated and so expensive that many small business owners want to avoid it at all cost.


Read more - 
http://www.blacklistednews.com/Broke%21_10_Facts_About_The_Financial_Condition_Of_American_Families_That_Will_Blow_Your_Mind/14885/0/38/38/Y/M.html