September 10th, 2010
By Jeremy A. Kaplan & Jana Winter
(FOXNEWS) Here you have … one heck of a mess.
The virus, called “Here You Have” or VBMania, is a simple Trojan Horse: An e-mail arrives in your inbox with the suggestive subject line “here you have.” The body reads “This is The Document I told you about, you can find it Here” or “This is The Free Download Sex Movies, you can find it Here.”
Click the link in the message and you launch a program that spams the same Trojan Horse out to everyone in your address book, flooding and crippling e-mail servers.
This particular virus is especially challenging to monitor, noted McAfee’s experts, since it seems to be replicating in several forms.
“It looks like multiple variants may be spreading and may take some time to work through them all to paint a clearer picture,” warned Craig Schmugar on the company’s Threat Response page.
In addition to a variety of major corporations, the virus appeared to take down internal servers at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Thursday. Numerous sources told FoxNews.com that some DHS agencies that run on the Immigration and Customs Enforcement server crashed and were mostly disabled throughout Thursday.
But U.S. officials denied that issues with its servers were related to the virus, telling FoxNews.com that “neither DHS nor ICE were agencies that were affected.”
“It’s a phishing attack -- when you click on the link in an e-mail it goes into the address book. It was clogging a bunch of e-mail and that’s it,” officials told FoxNews.com. “It’s too early to say how sophisticated it was, but a number of companies and agencies were affected.”
DHS spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said that Homeland Security’s experts were investigating the situation. She explained the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team -- US-CERT, the agency tasked with preventing cyber attacks against the government -- was actively sharing its expertise with departments and agencies that had been affected, as well as private companies.
“US-CERT has received multiple reports from a number of federal agencies and private sector entities experiencing an email worm. A full assessment is being conducted – US-CERT is in the process of collecting and analyzing samples of the malware and has developed and disseminated mitigation strategies.”
“Basic cyber security practices and hygiene are essential to maintaining the security of networks and individual computers,” Kudwa advised.
Hopefully , that advice makes its way back to NASA, where employees were hampered throughout the day -- and took to Twitter to complain about the problem.
September 10th, 2010
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across Afghanistan over plans, now on hold, by a small Florida church to burn copies of the Koran.
Three people were shot when a protest near a Nato base in the north-east of the country turned violent.
President Hamid Karzai said the stunt had been an insult to Islam, while Indonesia's president said it threatened world peace.
Pastor Terry Jones told US breakfast TV he currently had no plans to do it.
President Barack Obama had warned it would be an al-Qaeda "recruitment bonanza", while Defence Secretary Robert Gates asked the pastor to cancel the protest.
Many of Friday's protests in Afghanistan were held after worshippers emerged from mosques, following Eid prayers marking the end of Ramadan.
Demonstrators burned a US flag and chanted "Death to Christians".
In Badakhshan's provincial capital Faizabad, 1,500 people took to the streets, the police chief told the BBC.
" How come an extremist planning a book-burning that would disgrace any time after the Middle Ages has some of the top politicians in the West jerking around like puppets on a string ?”
About 150 people took part in another protest in the city, throwing rocks and attempting to climb the walls of a Nato facility where German soldiers are based.
Private security guards opened fire wounding three people, said the police chief.
Rallies were also held in Nimruz's provincial capital Zaranj; the province of Kunar, in Khas Kunar district; Nangarhar province, in the Khewa district; and the Tagab district of Parwan province, just north of Kabul.
Demonstrations were reported, too, on Friday in the northern provinces of Baghlan, Kunduz and Balkh. Afghanistan has 34 provinces. There have also been major rallies in Kabul over the past week.
Witnesses said the protesters voiced anger that the US government had not banned the Koran bonfire.
Mr Jones, pastor of the previously little-known Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, announced on Thursday that he was putting on hold his plan for an International Burn a Koran Day.
In an Eid message, President Karzai said: "We have heard that in the US, a pastor has decided to insult Korans. Now although we have heard that they are not doing this, we tell them they should not even think of it.
"By burning the Koran, they cannot harm it. The Koran is in the hearts and minds of one-and-a-half billion people. Insulting the Koran is an insult to nations."
The president of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, warned in a nationally televised address on Friday that Mr Jones's plan threatened world peace.
In a speech marking the end of Ramadan, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said: "I'm of course aware of the reported cancellation of the deplorable act by Terry Jones. However, none of us can be complacent until such a despicable idea is totally extinguished."
On Thursday, Mr Jones told reporters he had spent days waiting for a sign from God to cancel his Koran burning.
This had come, he said, in the form of a deal with a Florida imam to relocate a controversial Islamic cultural centre due to be built near Ground Zero in New York.
But those behind the cultural centre denied that they had ever spoken to the Orlando-based imam or Mr Jones, who then accused the cleric of having lied.
Imam Muhammad Musri, from the Islamic Society of Central Florida, said he had only agreed to fly to New York with Mr Jones on Saturday and speak with the leaders of the Islamic centre project.
Mr Jones - whose plan has been widely condemned by religious and political leaders worldwide - was visited by the FBI a number of times on Thursday.
The top US general in Afghanistan, Gen David Petraeus, warned earlier this week that the lives of Americans serving abroad would be endangered if the Koran burning went ahead.
September 9th, 2010
On August 24th, we published a news article which dealt with a phenomenon, which we have heard talked about more and more of late, occurring on the social networking site Facebook. In the article, we explained how Conservative Journalist Jane Jamison's entire network of friends and contacts, built up over a number of years, was expunged from Facebook for no clear reason.
When Jane requested a reason, she was pretty much given the cold shoulder by Facebook. Knowing that the Digital World can often be a haphazard thing at best, a number of individuals might say as a result, "well, that happens all the time--no big deal--grow up." However, the mystery deepens when another Conservative activist with a respectable web presence was also deleted without so much as a warning or " buh-bye." This, just a scant few weeks before, and even worse, that Conservative was me.
Having a legion of friends and contacts built up over years, unceremoniously swept out of your life leaves you wondering: How am I going to piece all of these friends and affiliations back together again? What am I going to do to fix this? The answer; not much can be done.
Between Jane Jamison and my network of contacts, the both of us have lost over 8,000 friends and contacts which had been built up over a number of years. No small thing, as one can see. My "unfortunate occurrence" just so happens to have occurred right at the time of publishing my first book, A Perfect Liberal Storm, which is admittedly "heavily dismissive" of those currently in power in Washington and specifically documents why. Jane's "bad stroke of luck" occurred right after she had published an article which was stringently critical of a local and very well-known California Democrat, Jerry Brown, for a number of documented reasons.
Is all of this a coincidence? Maybe.
As a good friend has always maintained, "there are no coincidences," which should lead many to stop and think.
The Facebook News Article and the Telltale Comments by Readers
When the news article titled "Facebook shutting down Conservatives? Identities being deleted without notice" was released--this website--which was re-released on a high-volume server back in June due to traffic increases, actually groaned just a bit for the first time--such was the volume of traffic. The article was picked up by Conservatives all over Facebook and the web and continues to spark conversations about biased censorship due to political affiliation.
The comments that have been published with the article mentioned above detail many instances of right-wingers' profiles being unceremoniously dumped without warning. However there is much, much more.
There are many comments that both Jane and I have received that were sent to us via our "new Facebook identities" as a result of the article. One young and very upset lady, whose name is Marix, wrote me a heartfelt letter in which she desperately needed her extensive Facebook contact list back so that she could carry on with her work raising awareness of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Here is a link to her site, for those who might have lost contact with her. I could only commiserate with her angst. Facebook leaves few, if any, options for most to actually communicate with them in any meaningful manner. Marix appears to be an ardent defender of her faith in Christianity, while not seeming to offend others through her discussion of her beliefs.
In other instances, we have heard of the dirty tricks that our ideological opposites play on unsuspecting Conservatives. In one scenario a gaggle of Facebook Liberals acted in concert in order to have Conservatives removed who often espoused an effective viewpoint by "reporting them" to the Facebook administration, which will often result in the Facebook powers-that-be wiping that individual's profile from the planet, due process be damned. In other scenarios we have learned that it's not just Conservatives, but rather there are also a number of Christians who have had their comments and even profiles deleted for putting forth their religious points of view in an effective manner. When we checked into those particular assertions, we found, among them, a Muslim Facebook site--which a member kindly sent to us--where the founders crowed "they are skared of us"...seeming to mock Americans. Jane also received a number of messages from "certain politicians" who have also had their profiles deleted.
We saw other reports of Facebook freezing profiles for a length time, ostensibly as a result of the posting of Conservative links and stories--almost as punishment much like the temporary sting of a "ruler thrashing" across the palm of the hand--which some of us suffered as children.
We even saw a number of suggestions that a "Conservative Networking" site be established so that people could post, speak and otherwise interact freely without fear of being expunged.
In other accounts we heard of individuals being messaged that they must provide a cell phone number or Driver's License in order to confirm one's identity in order to post further.
We read a number of accounts where, upon being deleted, the offenders were messaged by Facebook as much as six weeks later, which warned that threatening or abusive actions would not be tolerated and deletion would occur. Oh, gee... thanks for the warning.
One particularly memorable message wryly noted to Jane that it was ironic that Facebook required a birth certificate from a member in order to even consider re-instating their account when no such requirement was made for Obama to become President of the United States (no less.) Good Point!
Another message was from a member who had created a page which was titled "No to Ground Zero Mosque" and reported having 107,000 members. That page was apparently deleted by Facebook. When the member tried to recreate the page, she was rewarded with a message from Facebook stating, "New Pages titled No Ground Zero Mosque" will no longer be allowed. Free speech we can believe in, no doubt. We do note, in this case, the recent report of an AP released directive to reporters ( most likely originating from the White House) which indicated that "Ground Zero" would be removed from any further news article references to the proposed Mosque. Hmm...
Of Jews and Trolls and Liberal Goals
And yet other Facebook sites, which disparage Israel and say nasty things about those of the Jewish faith, are slow, if ever to be deleted by Facebook according to accounts from a number of members. Still other comments focused on what are known as Facebook trolls who are sub-individuals whom pass themselves off as being Conservative in order to create havoc in various ways as members of a group later on. To These we could only recommend "getting a life" --who in the world has the time or worse, the inclination for such time-burning nonsense?
The comments which we received ran the gamut from calling for a class-action lawsuit to trying divergence-type tricks in order to get a particular message across.
So the next logical question becomes: "Are Liberals treated in the same way?"
The answer from everything we could find was a resounding "NO."
When researching this possibility, in order to discern if it was happening to ideologues from either camp, we could find no clear indication that the same sort of "purging" is being done to Liberals or Democrats. In fact, if you conduct a Google search on Liberals being deleted from Facebook, you will mostly come up with either pieces pointing to our earlier article or instances of various posts being deleted, but nothing identifying a vast Right-Wing conspiracy against the Left such as what we Conservatives might be experiencing from the Leftward.
The next logical question then becomes, why? Noting that most of the members of Facebook would, no doubt, mimic the overall political leanings of the Nation as a whole, it would seem that Facebook is made up of a preponderance of center-right political affiliations--just as is the Nation--especially now. So, hypothetically, why would Facebook risk angering better than half of their members when they could be jeopardizing their standing based on political ideology? The answer might be easier to surmise than one might think.
When we dig into the subject a bit further, we find that the Facebook Chief Operatives seem to have an ideological leaning which supports Obama and the Liberals and Democrats. In fact, Chris Kelly, the former Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook, is a well-known California Democratic political operative. In a report from Opensecrets.org, a particular article by Michael Beckel states that Kelly has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic Party causes or campaigns over the last several years.
The article further states that Kelly has donated at least $21,000 to Democratic causes since January 2009. Opensecrets goes on to detail a number of donations to various individuals, but then further states that Kelly donated to both Clinton and then later Obama in the 2008 Presidential campaign. While we have also learned from the article that Facebook has been in extensive contact with members of both the Congress and the Senate, we find that Facebook lobbying with regard to privacy issues has approached nearly a third of a million dollars, if not more, over the past two years.
The Facebook - Obama Connection
We have also learned that during Obama's campaign, Facebook was specifically utilized as a means to further the President's message via social networking. In fact, Obama was the first Presidential Candidate to utilize Facebook "extensively" as a campaign medium, which attracted an estimated six million younger voters. The Obama Campaign actually brought onboard Chris Hughs, one of the three original Facebook founders, who was enamored of Obama in being a Candidate who could take advantage of Facebook's social networking while, apparently, feeding Hughs' ideological persuasion. Hughs then started a highly successful website called mybarackobama.com, which is an online community dedicated to furthering Obama's ideology in all things.
Hughs, a native of North Carolina, decided early in life that Conservative Hickory, NC was not for him and decided to take a boarding at prestigious Andover prep School, unbeknownst to his parents. According to a fascinating story published on the website Fast Company, what Hughs learned while at Andover was that he was Gay and he wasn't religious. From there, his life led him to Harvard and into the birthing of Facebook, along with Harvard dorm-mates Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz.
Hughs is credited in many circles with being the frontman responsible for Obama's election. While Facebook was just moving into the throes of being a huge and money making hit for its founders, Hughs was actually pulled away from Facebook by the Obama campaign to the chagrin of Zuckerberg. Hughs has, throughout, apparently maintained his contacts with Facebook and is still close friends with Zuckerberg.
Another interesting fact detailed by the website Social Beat, indicates that Facebook was the only consumer internet company to actually lobby Federal Intelligence Agencies in 2009--including the CIA. This in comparison to Internet giants such as Google, Amazon and Apple--among others--who seemingly stayed away from such agencies. Facebook was the only one--but better yet, why again?
According to Kim-Mai Cutler, most of Facebook's D.C. "experiences" center around helping Legislators and otherwise utilize Facebook's social networking potential with regard to campaigns, etc.; however, a further note of interest would have to be Facebook's 2009 hiring of Tim Sparapani of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is a Liberal bastion of Left-Wing-think, despite Facebook's burgeoning use as a law enforcement tool which would seem to go against Civil liberties issues--at least in the past.
The ultimate test for Facebook bias would have to be the overall ideological set of both its members and its employees who control the actions of Facebook members. Since 2007, Facebook employees, as a whole, have donated over 97% of all of their political funding to the Democrats and Democratically-connected causes. A veritable smoking gun if you will.
The Ties That Blind
The Chief Officer of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, has a reported net worth of $4 Billion dollars as a result of his Facebook operations, while Facebook earnings have been estimated to approach over $ 800 Million in 2010. Most of Facebook's income is derived from ads placed by members, as well as advertisements from various companies, including Microsoft--which outlaid over $50 Million to Facebook in 2009. Microsoft also owns 1.6 % of Facebook to date, however, we expect that number to most likely increase in the future. Facebook is currently owned by shareholders who trade in a private market only, and its employees own much of the shares of the company which was most recently estimated to have a value of $22 Billion in the private market. There have been reports that detail an IPO of Facebook in late 2011 or 2012.
When we look at all of these facts tied in together, we find that a strong case could be made regarding Facebook's seeming soft-attack on Conservatives, Libertarians and Republicans--and even certain Christians as details continue to emerge. The reports that we have informally received from various members do seem to indicate an ideological persecution of certain members who actively engage in supporting their various causes which are of a Conservative nature.
We can further confirm a number of deep-rooted ties to the Obama Administration and Facebook company officials, noting that Zuckerberg indicates himself only as an Independent and an Atheist while being an outspoken opponent of privacy issues--which puts him squarely in the camp opposing Constitutional Conservative principles.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we could find essentially no ties whatsoever which would indicate any Facebook affinity or connection whatsoever with those of the Right-Wing--beyond one tiny donation by one Facebook official to Republican Carly Fiorina of HP fame.
Ultimately, we must each be our own judge of what is happening between Facebook and the Conservatives who utilize the site, but the question we, both at Conservative Refocus and Uncoverage.net initially put forth, has certainly been strengthened by the available information uncovered through our research. The other ironic fact is simply that what we may be seeing in these ideological deletions could be the recognition by Facebook of the fact that Conservatives are using these same powerful social networking tools to meaningfully connect, organize and interact across the country in much the same way as the Obama Facebook members successfully used for the President to gain power and eventually win the Presidency.
Obama's Facebook being used by Conservatives in a Saul Alinsky-like turnabout? This would be yet another observed case of "live by the sword, die by the sword" ideological retribution would it not?
A simple word of caution. Please remember: Every time you sign onto Facebook, your IP address is logged along with your exact location. So imagine, if you will, what might be next for Conservatives and dissidents who oppose those in power while using a social network with designs that could be plotting against its own Users behind the scenes.
September 9th, 2010
The outburst by Sha Zukang at a retreat for top UN officials in the Austrian ski resort of Alpbach left senior UN officials cringing in embarrassment as others tried to convince him to put down the microphone, according to Washington-based Foreign Policy magazine.
"I know you never liked me Mr. Secretary-General – well, I never liked you, either," said Mr Sha as Mr Ban looked on, smiling and nodding awkwardly during the 15-minute toast attended by the UN's top brass.
Mr Sha, who was appointed the UN undersecretary general for Economic and Social Affairs in 2007, also made no secret of his fractious relationship with Mr Ban, although did say he'd grown to respect the South Korean.
"You've been trying to get rid of me," said 62-year-old Mr Sha according to the senior UN official present, "You can fire me anytime, you can fire me today."
Later in his impromptu speech Mr Sha turned to an American colleague, singling out Bob Orr, from the executive office of the secretary-general.
"I really don't like him: he's an American and I really don't like Americans," he said.
A second senior UN official who was at the dinner said: "It went on for about ten or fifteen minutes but it felt like an hour."
Officials present at the dinner suggested that Mr Sha might have been the victim of a misguided attempt at humour.
The next morning Mr Sha requested a meeting with Mr Ban during which he was "deeply apologetic" according to Farhan Haq, the acting deputy UN spokesman.
Mr Farhan said: "Mr Sha told the Secretary General that he realised that the way that he spoke, coming as it did after he had had a few drinks, was inappropriate, as it went too far. He was also aware that his statements had embarrassed and irritated other senior advisers."
It is not the first time that Mr Sha, a career diplomat, has let the mask of diplomacy slip. In a BBC interview in 2006 he was goaded into a furious, shrieking attack on American criticisms of China's rapidly growing defence budget.
"It is much better for [America] to shut up, keep quiet. Are you the number one? Is it true that the US has almost 50 per cent of the world's military budget?"
The Chinese population is five or six times bigger.
"Why blame China? Forget it. It's high time to shut up. It's America's sovereign right to do whatever is good for them. But don't tell us what is good for China."