NSA Connection Has Attendees Fleeing Encryption Company's Conference

Back doorThe National Security Agency
continues to wield its commercial kiss of death, causing business
to flee from American firms that have, inadvertently or
deliberately, been involved in the snooping. Last month,
Boeing lost a multi-billion dollar contract
with Brazil over
the NSA’s shenanigans.
More billions in European business
are at risk for U.S.
companies feared as direct conduits to the spies. And now attendees
are dropping out of the cybersecurity-oriented RSA Conference after sponsoring
company, RSA Security
LLC
, was revealed to have accepted millions of dollars in
return for
building a backdoor into its encryption software
.

Just before Christmas,
DailyTech reported
:

Former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward
Snowden has brought many NSA secrets to light this year, the most
recent being a “secret” contract between the agency and security
industry leader RSA. 

According to more documents leaked by Snowden, the NSA entered
into a $10 million contract with RSA to place a flawed formula
within encryption software (which is widely used in personal
computers and other products) to obtain “back door” access to
data. 

The RSA software that contained the flawed formula was called
Bsafe, which was meant to increase security in computers. The
formula was an algorithm called Dual Elliptic Curve, and it
was created within the NSA. RSA started using it in 2004 even
before the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST)
approved it.

RSA insists it was duped and that using a flawed algorithm
supplied by the NSA was not deliberate. But the damage was done.
Now
CNet reports
:

Mikko Hypponen, chief technology officer of F-Secure with
decades under his belt as a security researcher, canceled his
annual presentation at the American-hosted RSA Conference, to be
held in San Francisco in February. …

The day before Hypponen canceled his talk in December, Josh
Thomas, the “Chief Breaking Officer” at security firm Atredis,
canceled his scheduled talk via Twitter.

Jeffrey Carr, another security industry veteran who works in
analyzing espionage and cyber warfare tactics, took his
cancellation a step further. Yesterday, he publicly called for a
boycott of the conference, saying that RSA had violated the trust
of its customers.

Other prominent cybersecurity figures have followed suit,
seeking to punish the company and, no doubt, wishing to distance
themselves from the black hole of ethical choices and commercial
opportunities that surrounds the intersection of the NSA with
anything. Expressing the sentiments of the cybersecurity
community regarding RSA’s actions, Carr said, “I can’t imagine a
worse action, short of a company’s CEO getting involved in child
porn.”

Truly, government has a magic ability to ruin everything it
touches.

If you’re going to be a back door man, this is how you do
it:

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/09/nsa-connection-has-attendees-fleeing-enc
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A.M. Links: White House Preparing For Exodus of Aides, Snowden Invited To Testify Before European Parliament, Rodman Visits North Korean Ski Resort

  • The
    White House
    is preparing for a number of longtime aides to
    leave in the next few months.
  • Dennis Rodman’s public relations firm released an apology on
    his behalf
    for his comments
    about an American currently being held in
    North Korea. The former NBA player has traveled to a
    multimillion-dollar ski resort in North Korea with Kim
    Jong-un.
  • NSA whistle-blower
    Edward Snowden
    has been invited to testify before a European
    Parliament committee via video link as part of its investigation
    into U.S. surveillance.
  • CFOs are blaming
    Obamacare
    for increases in health care costs, which they are
    passing along to employees.
  • San Francisco has outlined plans to
    tax tech companies
    such as Google and Facebook if they want to
    keep using private shuttles to transport their employees to
    work.
  • An 88-year-old German man has been charged with taking part in
    the
    Nazi massacre
    in the French village Oradour-sur-Glane.

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from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/09/am-links-white-house-preparing-for-exodu
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Andrew Napolitano: The NSA Even Spies on Congress

NSALast
week, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wrote to Gen. Keith Alexander,
director of the National Security Administration (NSA), and asked
plainly whether the NSA has been or is now spying on members of
Congress or other public officials. The NSA’s refusal to answer
Sanders’ question directly is a tacit admission, because we are all
well aware that the NSA collects identifying data on and the
content of virtually every email, text message and phone call sent
or received in the U.S. That raises a host of constitutional
questions, points out Andrew Napolitano. Under the Constitution,
Congress and the executive branch are equals. The president—for
whom the NSA works—can no more legally spy on members of Congress
without a search warrant about the members to be spied upon than
Congress can legally spy on the president.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/09/andrew-napolitano-the-nsa-even-spies-on
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Brickbat: Cracked

Julian Harris had
been visiting his family in Brisbane, Australia, and when he
returned to his car he found a police officer had ticketed him for
parking on a footway, parking on the wrong side of the street
and leaving
his window partially rolled down
. Harris said he’d only left
the window down to keep the car from getting too hot on a warm day.
But police officials say that under Queensland law if a driver is
more than three meters from his car he must park it with the engine
off, the key removed from the ignition, the parking brake engaged
and windows rolled down no more than five centimeters.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/09/brickbat-cracked
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Tonight on The Independents: Chris Christie’s Traffic Problems, Rep. Jared Polis Talks Pot Legalization, Rep. Rush Holt Talks PATRIOT Act Repeal, John Stossel Talks Income Inequality…Plus Independents Ascend, and Biggio Gets Punked

Ruh-roh! ||| Tonight’s
episode of The
Independents
, which airs on Fox Business Network live at 9
pm ET and then repeats again at midnight, starts with a discussion
of, well, independents, or at least the people who

describe themselves that way
when
Gallup asks them
to identify their politics. Conservative
Kayleigh McEnany and
liberal Steve Leser
will try to explain why the public ain’t buying what the two major
parties are selling, then they’ll react to the latest revelations
about what some are calling
retributive lane-closing
possibly engineered by members of New
Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s political team.

Rep. Jared Polis
(D-Colorado) will come on to talk about legal pot and what
Congress should do to ease the drug war
, and Rep. Rush Holt (D-New Jersey) will
talk about his efforts to
repeal the PATRIOT Act
and
protect whistleblowers like Edward Snowden
. John Stossel will
preview his Thursday night show on income
inequality
, Kmele Foster will survey
#ThingsThatOffendLiberals
, Kennedy will talk about (and maybe
demonstrate?)
drinking too much
, and I have been given exactly 30 seconds to
explain why we should care that some old sportswriter shouting at clouds

helped prevent Craig Biggio
from entering baseball’s Hall of
Fame because maybe some guy once said that he “felt” like
Biggio maybe took steroids some time.

Heckle The Independents on Twitter at @IndependentsFBN!

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/08/tonight-on-the-independents-chris-christ
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Do You Drink Too Much? Don’t Ask the CDC.


Does your doctor nag you about your drinking?
The federal government wishes he would. Yesterday the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention
noted with alarm
 that “only one in six adults [says] a
health professional has ever discussed alcohol use with them.”
Physicians’ reluctance to broach the subject is especially
worrisome, the CDC says, because “at least 38 million adults in the
United States drink too much.”

How does the CDC know at least 38 million Americans drink too
much? Because survey
data
indicate that “approximately one in six (38
million) U.S. adults binge drink.” And what counts as binge
drinking, as far as the CDC is concerned? Five or more drinks “on
an occasion” for men and four or more drinks for women. Why were
those cutoffs chosen? According to the
National Insitute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
, because
those are the amounts that typically raise a person’s blood alcohol
concentration to 0.08 percent, which corresponds to the per se
legal standard for driving while intoxicated.

What if you don’t plan to drive? It doesn’t matter. The federal
government says you should never drink that amount, period. If you
do, you are drinking too much by definition (the government’s
definition, that is). As I have noted
several

times
, the government’s notion of a binge encompasses common
patterns of social drinking that cause no measurable harm to anyone
or anything, except for the CDC’s sensibilities—e.g., an after-work
cocktail, followed by wine during dinner with friends and an
after-dinner drink. I confess I have been known to binge in this
manner from time to time. Once a month is all it takes to be
counted among the 38 million, the vast majority of whom would not
qualify for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence or even alcohol abuse
but who nevertheless need to change their ways, according to the
CDC.

Why does the CDC say “at least 38 million” Americans
drink too much? Because it maintains that
“drinking too much” includes not just so-called binge drinking but
several other categories as well. If you are a man who consumes 15
or more drinks in a week or a woman who consumes eight or more, you
drink too much. Ditto if you are pregnant or younger than 21 and
drink any amount at all. The CDC does not want to hear
about how you limit yourself to no more than two drinks every day
except Saturday, when you have three, thereby exceeding the
government’s arbitrary limit. Nor does the CDC care that you think
18-to-20-year-olds, who are legally adults in every other respect,
should be allowed to drink beer. And don’t even try to point out
the lack of
evidence
that light to moderate drinking during pregancy harms
fetuses. The CDC has decreed that all these patterns of drinking
are excessive, and its only challenge now is convincing the rest of
us.

That may be a tough sell. All together, the CDC says,
“29% of U.S. adults drink too much.” Based on data from the
National
Health Interview Survey
, that means nearly half of all
Americans who drink at all, and most (about 60 percent) of those
who drink at least once a month, drink too much. Among past-month
drinkers, according to the CDC, excessive consumption is the
norm.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/08/do-you-drink-too-much-dont-ask-the-cdc
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Do You Drink Too Much? Don't Ask the CDC.


Does your doctor nag you about your drinking?
The federal government wishes he would. Yesterday the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention
noted with alarm
 that “only one in six adults [says] a
health professional has ever discussed alcohol use with them.”
Physicians’ reluctance to broach the subject is especially
worrisome, the CDC says, because “at least 38 million adults in the
United States drink too much.”

How does the CDC know at least 38 million Americans drink too
much? Because survey
data
indicate that “approximately one in six (38
million) U.S. adults binge drink.” And what counts as binge
drinking, as far as the CDC is concerned? Five or more drinks “on
an occasion” for men and four or more drinks for women. Why were
those cutoffs chosen? According to the
National Insitute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
, because
those are the amounts that typically raise a person’s blood alcohol
concentration to 0.08 percent, which corresponds to the per se
legal standard for driving while intoxicated.

What if you don’t plan to drive? It doesn’t matter. The federal
government says you should never drink that amount, period. If you
do, you are drinking too much by definition (the government’s
definition, that is). As I have noted
several

times
, the government’s notion of a binge encompasses common
patterns of social drinking that cause no measurable harm to anyone
or anything, except for the CDC’s sensibilities—e.g., an after-work
cocktail, followed by wine during dinner with friends and an
after-dinner drink. I confess I have been known to binge in this
manner from time to time. Once a month is all it takes to be
counted among the 38 million, the vast majority of whom would not
qualify for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence or even alcohol abuse
but who nevertheless need to change their ways, according to the
CDC.

Why does the CDC say “at least 38 million” Americans
drink too much? Because it maintains that
“drinking too much” includes not just so-called binge drinking but
several other categories as well. If you are a man who consumes 15
or more drinks in a week or a woman who consumes eight or more, you
drink too much. Ditto if you are pregnant or younger than 21 and
drink any amount at all. The CDC does not want to hear
about how you limit yourself to no more than two drinks every day
except Saturday, when you have three, thereby exceeding the
government’s arbitrary limit. Nor does the CDC care that you think
18-to-20-year-olds, who are legally adults in every other respect,
should be allowed to drink beer. And don’t even try to point out
the lack of
evidence
that light to moderate drinking during pregancy harms
fetuses. The CDC has decreed that all these patterns of drinking
are excessive, and its only challenge now is convincing the rest of
us.

That may be a tough sell. All together, the CDC says,
“29% of U.S. adults drink too much.” Based on data from the
National
Health Interview Survey
, that means nearly half of all
Americans who drink at all, and most (about 60 percent) of those
who drink at least once a month, drink too much. Among past-month
drinkers, according to the CDC, excessive consumption is the
norm.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/08/do-you-drink-too-much-dont-ask-the-cdc
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Chris Christie Lays Blame on Aide for Retributive Bridge Lane Closures

Something to read on the unexpectedly long drive home.Earlier today, Ed Krayewski
noted a
growing scandal
engulfing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, about
lane closings of the extremely busy George Washington Bridge that
appeared to be a form of political retaliation against a mayor who
declined to endorse him.

This afternoon, Christie, who had previously denied his office
played any role, put out a statement acknowledging that it seems
that it had, and he’s laying the blame on an aide. The Associated
Press
reports
:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says that a top aide misled him
about her role in apparent political retribution against a town
mayor and that he knew nothing about the situation.

Emails and text messages released Wednesday link Christie aides
and political appointees to traffic jams in a town in September
that appear to have been engineered as political payback.

His full statement reads:

“What I’ve seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am
outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by
a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and
unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge. One thing is
clear: This type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not
tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This
behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any
way, and people will be held responsible for their actions.”

Follow this story and more at Reason
24/7
.

Spice up your blog or Website with Reason 24/7 news and
Reason articles. You can get the
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here
. If you have a story that would be of
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24/7 crew at 24_7@reason.com, or tweet us stories
at 
@reason247.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/08/chris-christie-lays-blame-on-aide-for-re
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Gov’t Incapable of Scrounging $6 Billion in Offsets to Extend Unemployment Benefits


So the Senate
is talking about spending
$6.4 billion
to extend long-term unemployment benefits for
people somehow left out of the recovery (which if it were true,
would of course negate the need for the extension in question).
This extension would cover about three months of the program, which
would give folks up to a total of about 50 weeks of pay of up to
$300 per week.

The problem? Republicans don’t want to go along with this unless
the same amount of dough is cut from somewhere else in the federal
budget for fiscal 2014, which will be in the neighborhood of $4
trillion (it’s a pricey part of town). Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid (D-Nev.)
said that’s a mistake
because “Each dollar that we spend on
unemployment insurance benefits increases gross domestic product by
$1.50.” If that were true, shouldn’t Reid and others be pushing for
much more such spending? Hell, if I could get that sort of
return on my investments, I’d be all in.

You may recall that not
so very long ago
, Dems and Reps got together to toss
sequestration cuts out the window and agree on spending an extra
$45 billion in 2014 plus another extra $20 on top of that in 2015.
Because, you know, nobody can get by spending the same amount of
money one year after another.

The
latest drama reminds me of the time in 2010 when basically the only
Republican in the Senate willing to insist on offsetting cuts as a
precondition for extending unemployment benefits was crazy old Jim
Bunning (R-Ky.), the Hall of Fame baseball pitcher whose
long-overdue retirement allowed Sen. Rand Paul to join the World’s
Greatest Deliberative Body. In
2010, Bunning’s insistence
that the government find savings
elsewhere was seen as just one more reason the old coot had to hang
up his cleats and go to that big dugout in the sky (or wherever
retired ballplayers and senators go).

But you know what? Bunning was right then and the Republicans
are right to insist on offsets now too. The idea that unemployment
benefits are really a super-efficient stimulus plan, a la Reid, is
a joke, and everyone knows it. ON NPR this morning, I heard Reid
channel Nancy Pelosi and claim that there’s nothing left to
cut.

If you’re going to make a humanitarian case in favor of
continually extending unemployment benefits, then make that
argument, for god’s sake. And recognize, too, that there are
legitimate reasons to be wary of infinitely extending long-term
unemployment benefits (which
have been extended
almost a dozen times since 2008). First and
foremost is a concern for displaced workers. Many economists
believe that to the extent that extended benefits dissuade people
from quickly taking jobs, they erode skills and future earnings of
the unemployed.

And if you’re the Republicans and are serious about
hunting for offsets, come up with ideas less byzantine than New
Hampshire Republican Sen.
Kelly Ayotte
‘s underwhelming plan to pay for the extension by
stopping illegal immigrants from claiming the additional child tax
credit on their income tax returns. You’re supposed to be the party
of small government. If that’s the best you can come up with in a
$4 trillion budget, just follow Jim Bunning’s lead and retire
now.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/08/govt-incapable-of-scrounging-6-billion-i
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Gov't Incapable of Scrounging $6 Billion in Offsets to Extend Unemployment Benefits


So the Senate
is talking about spending
$6.4 billion
to extend long-term unemployment benefits for
people somehow left out of the recovery (which if it were true,
would of course negate the need for the extension in question).
This extension would cover about three months of the program, which
would give folks up to a total of about 50 weeks of pay of up to
$300 per week.

The problem? Republicans don’t want to go along with this unless
the same amount of dough is cut from somewhere else in the federal
budget for fiscal 2014, which will be in the neighborhood of $4
trillion (it’s a pricey part of town). Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid (D-Nev.)
said that’s a mistake
because “Each dollar that we spend on
unemployment insurance benefits increases gross domestic product by
$1.50.” If that were true, shouldn’t Reid and others be pushing for
much more such spending? Hell, if I could get that sort of
return on my investments, I’d be all in.

You may recall that not
so very long ago
, Dems and Reps got together to toss
sequestration cuts out the window and agree on spending an extra
$45 billion in 2014 plus another extra $20 on top of that in 2015.
Because, you know, nobody can get by spending the same amount of
money one year after another.

The
latest drama reminds me of the time in 2010 when basically the only
Republican in the Senate willing to insist on offsetting cuts as a
precondition for extending unemployment benefits was crazy old Jim
Bunning (R-Ky.), the Hall of Fame baseball pitcher whose
long-overdue retirement allowed Sen. Rand Paul to join the World’s
Greatest Deliberative Body. In
2010, Bunning’s insistence
that the government find savings
elsewhere was seen as just one more reason the old coot had to hang
up his cleats and go to that big dugout in the sky (or wherever
retired ballplayers and senators go).

But you know what? Bunning was right then and the Republicans
are right to insist on offsets now too. The idea that unemployment
benefits are really a super-efficient stimulus plan, a la Reid, is
a joke, and everyone knows it. ON NPR this morning, I heard Reid
channel Nancy Pelosi and claim that there’s nothing left to
cut.

If you’re going to make a humanitarian case in favor of
continually extending unemployment benefits, then make that
argument, for god’s sake. And recognize, too, that there are
legitimate reasons to be wary of infinitely extending long-term
unemployment benefits (which
have been extended
almost a dozen times since 2008). First and
foremost is a concern for displaced workers. Many economists
believe that to the extent that extended benefits dissuade people
from quickly taking jobs, they erode skills and future earnings of
the unemployed.

And if you’re the Republicans and are serious about
hunting for offsets, come up with ideas less byzantine than New
Hampshire Republican Sen.
Kelly Ayotte
‘s underwhelming plan to pay for the extension by
stopping illegal immigrants from claiming the additional child tax
credit on their income tax returns. You’re supposed to be the party
of small government. If that’s the best you can come up with in a
$4 trillion budget, just follow Jim Bunning’s lead and retire
now.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/08/govt-incapable-of-scrounging-6-billion-i
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