Friend feared Capitol gyrocopter pilot would get shot down
By TAMARA LUSH Apr. 16, 2015 4:28 AM EDT
A member of a bomb squad checks the small helicopter
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A Florida postal worker who piloted a gyrocopter onto the U.S. Capitol lawn to call attention to his belief that campaign finance laws are too weak is "a patriot" who first came up with the idea about a year ago, a friend said.
Doug Hughes, 61, called his friend Mike Shanahan on Wednesday and said he was in the D.C. area and ready to take off, Shanahan was quoted by The Tampa Bay Times as saying. Shanahan said he feared law enforcement would shoot down the small aircraft emblazoned with the Postal Service logo, so he alerted the U.S. Secret Service. The gyrocopter landed about half a city block from the Capitol building.
"I was scared to death they were going to kill him," Shanahan said.
Hughes steered his tiny aircraft onto the Capitol's West Lawn after flying through restricted airspace around the National Mall, police said. A Senate aide told The Associated Press the Capitol Police knew of the plan shortly before Hughes took off. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because the aide was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the investigation.
Hughes is a married father of four who wanted to "spotlight corruption in DC and more importantly, to present the solution(s) to the institutional graft," reads a statement on his website, The Democracy Club. He lives in the Tampa Bay area community of Ruskin.
In an interview with the Times before his flight, Hughes told the paper he sees himself as a showman patriot — a mix of Paul Revere and legendary circus owner P.T. Barnum.
The stunt, which led to breathless reports on national cable TV networks, involved delivering letters to all 535 members of Congress to draw attention to campaign finance corruption.
His website talks of "bi-partisan corruption" and urges readers not to focus on him.
"Let's keep the discussion focused on reform - not me - I'm just delivering the mail," he wrote.
According to his website, Hughes was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California, where his first job was at a McDonald's. Upon graduating from high school, he joined the Navy, he wrote, and then worked in restaurant management on the West Coast. He lived in North Carolina and then moved to Florida following a divorce.
He's worked for the Postal Service for 11 years.
"As I have informed the authorities, I have no violent inclinations or intent," Hughes wrote. "An ultralight aircraft poses no major physical threat — it may present a political threat to graft. I hope so. There's no need to worry — I'm just delivering the mail."
He said he told the Times about his stunt because he feared being hurt or arrested. He also said he kept his Russian-born wife and 12-year-old daughter in the dark about his plan.
Hughes has three other children, including one son who took his own life by driving his car head-on into another vehicle, killing both himself and the other driver nearly three years ago. Hughes said his son's suicide was a catalyst for him.
"He paid far too high a price for an unimportant issue," Hughes told the paper. "But if you're willing to take a risk, the ultimate risk, to draw attention to something that does have significance, it's worth doing."
About two hours after Hughes landed, police announced that a bomb squad had cleared his gyrocopter and nothing hazardous had been found. The authorities then moved it off the Capitol lawn to a secure location.
House Homeland Security panel Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said Hughes landed on his own, but authorities were prepared to shoot him down if he had made it much closer to the Capitol. "Had it gotten any closer to the speaker's balcony, they have long guns to take it down, but it didn't. It landed right in front," McCaul said.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the pilot had not been in contact with air traffic controllers and the FAA didn't authorize him to enter restricted airspace.
Airspace security rules that cover the Capitol and the District of Columbia prohibit private aircraft flights without prior coordination and permission. Violators can face civil and criminal penalties.
The White House said President Barack Obama had been briefed on the situation.
Witnesses said the craft approached the Capitol from the west, flying low over the National Mall and the Capitol reflecting pool across the street from the building. It barely cleared a row of trees and a statue of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.
John Jewell, 72, a tourist from Statesville, North Carolina, said the craft landed hard and bounced. An officer was already there with a gun drawn. "He didn't get out until police officers told him to get out. He had his hands up" and was quickly led away by the police, Jewell said. "They snatched him pretty fast."
Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor, Alan Fram and Joan Lowy in Washington contributed to this report.
Iran Is Raising Sophistication and Frequency of Cyberattacks, Study Says
By DAVID E. SANGER and NICOLE PERLROTH APRIL 15, 2015
WASHINGTON — In February, a year after the Las Vegas Sands was hit by a devastating cyberattack that ruined many of the computers running its casino and hotel operations, the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., publicly told Congress what seemed obvious: Iranian hackers were behind the attack.
Sheldon G. Adelson, the billionaire chief executive of Sands, who is a major supporter of Israel and an ardent opponent of negotiating with Tehran, had suggested an approach to the Iran problem a few months before the attack that no public figure had ever uttered in front of cameras.
“What I would say is: ‘Listen. You see that desert out there? I want to show you something,’ ” Mr. Adelson said at Yeshiva University in Manhattan in October 2013. He then argued for detonating an American nuclear weapon where it would not “hurt a soul,” except “rattlesnakes and scorpions or whatever,” before adding, “Then you say, ‘See, the next one is in the middle of Tehran.’ ”
Instead, Tehran directed an attack at the desert of Nevada. Now a new study of Iran’s cyberactivities, to be released by Norse, a cybersecurity firm, and the American Enterprise Institute, concludes that beyond the Sands attack, Iran has greatly increased the frequency and skill of its cyberattacks, even while negotiating with world powers over limits on its nuclear capabilities.
“Cyber gives them a usable weapon, in ways nuclear technology does not,” said Frederick W. Kagan, who directs the institute’s Critical Threats Project and is beginning a larger effort to track Iranian cyberactivity. “And it has a degree of plausible deniability that is attractive to many countries.”
Mr. Kagan argues that if sanctions against Iran are suspended under the proposed nuclear accord, Iran will be able to devote the revenue from improved oil exports to cyberweapons. But it is far from clear that that is what Iran would do.
When Mr. Clapper named Iran in the Sands attack, it was one of the few instances in which American intelligence agencies had identified a specific country that it believed was using such attacks for political purposes. The first came in December, when President Obama accused North Korea of launching a cyberattack on Sony Pictures. Other United States officials have said that Iran attacked American banks in retaliation for sanctions and that it destroyed computers at the oil giant Saudi Aramco in retaliation for the close Saudi ties with the United States.
The evidence from the Norse report, along with analyses by American intelligence agencies, strongly suggests that Iran has made much greater use of cyberweapons over the past year, despite international sanctions. The attacks have mostly involved espionage, but a few, like the Sands attack, have been for destructive purposes.
In the report, to be released Friday, Norse — which, like other cybersecurity firms, has an interest in portraying a world of cyberthreats but presumably little incentive in linking them to any particular country — traced thousands of attacks against American targets to hackers inside Iran.
The report, and a similar one from Cylance, another cybersecurity firm, make clear that Iranian hackers are moving from ostentatious cyberattacks in which they deface websites or simply knock them offline to much quieter reconnaissance. In some cases, they appear to be probing for critical infrastructure systems that could provide opportunities for more dangerous and destructive attacks.
But Norse and Cylance differ on the question of whether the Iranian attacks have accelerated in recent months, or whether Tehran may be pulling back during a critical point in the nuclear negotiations.
Norse, which says it maintains thousands of sensors across the Internet to collect intelligence on attackers’ methods, insists that Iranian hackers have shown no signs of letting up. Between January 2014 and last month, the Norse report said, its sensors picked up a 115 percent increase in attacks launched from Iranian Internet protocol, or I.P., addresses. Norse said that its sensors had detected more than 900 attacks, on average, every day in the first half of March.
Cylance came to a different conclusion, at least for Iran’s activities in the past few months, as negotiations have come to a head. Stuart McClure, the chief executive and founder of Cylance, which has been tracking Iranian hacking groups, said that there had been a notable drop in activity over the past few months, and that the groups were now largely quiet.
American intelligence agencies also monitor the groups, but they do not publicly publish assessments of the activity. Classified National Intelligence Estimates over the past five years have identified Russia and China as the United States’ most sophisticated, and prolific, adversaries in cyberspace.
However, American officials have said that Iran and North Korea concern them the most, not for their sophistication, but because their attacks are aimed more at destruction, as was the case with the attack on Sony Pictures. In addition to the Sands attack last year — about which Mr. Clapper gave no detail in public — Iran has been identified as the source of the 2012 attack on Saudi Aramco, in which hackers wiped out data on 30,000 computers, replacing it with an image of a burning American flag.
American intelligence officials say Iran’s most sophisticated hackers are limited in number, but work for both front companies and the government. The officials are concerned that as destructive attacks become more frequent, the temptation will rise to launch attacks on what the government calls “critical infrastructure,” like railways, power grids or water supplies.
Cylance researchers, for example, noted that Iranian hackers were using tools to spy on and potentially shut down critical control systems and computer networks in the United States, as well as in Canada, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and a handful of other countries. Their targets have included a network that connects Marines and civilians across the United States, as well as networks of oil companies and major airlines and airports.
Norse’s researchers also noted attacks from Iran that were directed at so-called Scada systems — short for supervisory control and data acquisition systems — like the kind that the United States and Israel attacked at Iran’s nuclear enrichment center in Natanz, using code that caused about 1,000 centrifuges to self-destruct.
That strike, often referred to as the Stuxnet attack, may have inspired the Iranians to begin a cycle of retaliation, a recently disclosed memo from Edward J. Snowden’s trove of National Security Agency documents indicates. Norse says it saw evidence that Iranian hackers probed the network of Telvent, a company now owned by Schneider Electric that designs software to allow energy companies and power grid operators to control their valves and switches from afar.
The company’s systems were breached by Chinese military hackers in 2012. Two years later, Norse said, it witnessed 62 attacks, in a span of 10 minutes, from an I.P. address in Iran on a Telvent system that provides the foundation for all of the company’s Scada infrastructure.
“This activity,” Norse researchers wrote, “might be interpreted as an Iranian effort to establish cyberbeachheads in crucial U.S. infrastructure systems — malware that is dormant for now but would allow Iran to damage and destroy those systems if it chose to do so later.”
David E. Sanger reported from Washington, and Nicole Perlroth from San Francisco.
From PNP Pilot Peter Tobin: "This is Duke. He was featured on "America's Heroes." His fellow soldier lost his life in service in Afghanistan. Pilots N Paws stepped up to the plate and delivered Duke to the soldier's mother. It was my honor to fly him on the 2nd leg of a 3-leg flight."
Based on the newsflow in the last few weeks, Americans must increasingly consider themselves lucky just to avoid getting shot in the back or being run over by trigger-happy, heavily armed officers of the law. Unfortunately while we (hope we) mostly jest, the reality is that America has quietly turned into a heavily weaponized police state right under everyone's noses. A police state in which one doesn't have to be considered even a remote threat by the authorities to suffer. Consider the completely innocuous act of feeding the homeless, with a permit, which as San Antonio philanthropist Joan Cheever, founder of the nonprofit food truck, the Chow Train, discovered last week was enough to get her ticketed and fined $2000 for feeding the homeless. http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2015/04/chow%20train%201.jpg
What is strange is that neither was this the first time she had acted generously toward the homeless, nor the first time the local police were aware of her actions: for the past 10 years, Cheever has devoted her Tuesday nights to providing hot, restaurant-quality meals to homeless people in the downtown area. SAPD officers would routinely pass by and wave. Often, she jokingly asked if they planned to arrest her, and they laughed. She was profiled on Rachel Ray's cooking show for her charitable efforts.
But everything changed last Tuesday when he got a citation which carries a fine up to $2000 issued by four San Antonio Police Department bike-patrol officers.
According to the San Antonio Express News, while Cheever was in Maverick Park serving a meal that included lamb meatballs, spaghetti, a garden salad and a vegetable soup, SAPD officers cited her for violating the city code, because she transported the food to the park in a vehicle other than the mobile truck for which she has a food permit.
"I told the officer that we cook dinner in the truck and then we put it in health-department-approved catering equipment, like every caterer or restaurant-delivery service in this town, and then serve it. And he said, 'You can’t do that.’"
David Martin Davies, host of “The Source” on Texas Public Radio, witnessed and recorded Cheever’s Tuesday night encounter with the police officers.
“She seemed aware going into it that there was a change in the way the police were acting, and something like this might be coming,” Davies said, adding, “She’s unabashed. She’s not going to back down.” Cheever is scheduled to go before Municipal Court on June 23, but she remained defiant after receiving the citation, arguing that under the 1999 Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, she has a right to serve food to the homeless because she considers it a free exercise of her religion.
"This is how I pray," she told the local NBC affiliate, "when I cook this food and deliver it to the people who are less fortunate."
The Chow Train founder will be holding a candlelight vigil at Maverick Park Tuesday night to raise awareness about the incident, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.
credit Zero hedge
« Last Edit: Apr 17th, 2015, 9:09pm by Sys_Config »
That is beyond sad when you can't feed the homeless without getting a ticket!
Good morning all
Scientists find key to 'turbo-charging' immune system to kill all cancers
By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor 7:00PM BST 16 Apr 2015
A protein which ‘turbo-charges’ the immune system so that it can fight off any cancer or virus has been discovered by scientists.
In a breakthrough described as a ‘game-changer’ for cancer treatment, researchers at Imperial College found a previously unknown molecule which boosts the body’s ability to fight off chronic illnesses.
Scientists at Imperial College London, who led the study, are now developing a gene therapy based on the protein and hope to begin human trials in three years.
“This is exciting because we have found a completely different way to use the immune system to fight cancer,” said Professor Philip Ashton-Rickardt, from the Section of Immunobiology in the Department of Medicine at Imperial, who led the study.
“It could be a game-changer for treating a number of different cancers and viruses.
“This is a completely unknown protein. Nobody had ever seen it before or was even aware that it existed. It looks and acts like no other protein.”
The protein – named lymphocyte expansion molecule, or LEM, promotes the spread of cancer killing ‘T cells’ by generating large amounts of energy.
Normally when the immune system detects cancer it goes into overdrive trying to fight the disease, flooding the body with T cells. But it quickly runs out of steam.
However the new protein causes a massive energy boost which makes T cells in such great numbers that the cancer cannot fight them off.
It also causes a boost of immune memory cells which are able to recognise tumours and viruses they have encountered previously so there is less chance that they will return.
The team made the discovery while screening mice with genetic mutations. They found one type produced ten times the number of cancer-fighting T cells, suppressing infections and becoming resistant to cancer.
Researchers found that the mice with enhanced immunity produced high levels of the unknown protein which is also found in humans.
They are hoping to produce a gene therapy whereby T cells of cancer patients could be enhanced with the protein and then injected back into the body. It could end the need for harsh chemotherapies as the body itself would be fighting the disease, rather than toxic drugs.
Japan’s maglev train sets world speed record at 590 kph
Kyodo Apr 16, 2015
KOFU, YAMANASHI PREF. – A magnetic levitation train run by Central Japan Railway Co. set a world speed record of 590 kph on Thursday during a manned test run on an experimental track, the railway company said.
The train operator broke the previous world record of 581 km per hour set by itself in December 2003 and plans to try to run its maglev train as fast as 600 km per hour next week.
The seven-car maglev train ran at the top speed for 19 seconds during the test using new LO-series cars on the track between Uenohara and Fuefuki in Yamanashi Prefecture, west of Tokyo, the company said.
The new record comes just a few days after JR Central made a world single-day running distance record of 4,064 km, far exceeding the previous record of 2,876 km it set in 2003.
All the world records have been achieved as the company is stepping up preparations to start its maglev train services in 2027 to connect Tokyo’s Shinagawa Station with Nagoya, which are 286 km apart, in 40 minutes. That will be less than half the time existing bullet trains take to make the trip.
The company plans to conduct another test run as soon as next Tuesday to run its maglev at a top speed of about 600 kph.
Certainly, being the wealthiest member of the original Obama administration did not hurt: in 2009 the Wasingtonian reported his net assets as being between $15,533,000 and $61,745,000. We take the higher number. To be sure, he had been paid well at Goldman and now had a duty to his former employer: to keep Goldman (or any other Wall Street bank) off the hook of any regulatory investigation.
Overnight, this speculation was confirmed, and further explained why Gensler handled his former Wall Street colleagues with silk gloves: according to Bloomberg, "Hillary Clinton is planning to name Gary Gensler... as the chief financial officer of her campaign, according to a Democrat familiar with the decision." And as hard as we try when reading the Bloomberg assertion that Gensler was "a strong advocate for strict Wall Street rules", we can't help but burst in laughter.
The humorous spin continues:
For Clinton, who has been fighting her left flank’s concern that she is too cozy with Wall Street, Gensler is a notable hire. He became known as someone with sharp elbows —even during his negotiations within the Obama administration—in his push for tighter regulation. Actually, the only thing he became known for is avoiding any notable charges against any banks that involved more than a wrist slap, and certainly against Goldman: the same Goldman which alongside JPMorgan tried and almost succeeded to corner the physical aluminum (and countless other markets) and become a commodity cartel, a charge Wall Street's banks are currently fighting in court.
« Last Edit: Apr 17th, 2015, 6:07pm by Sys_Config »
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange said: "This archive shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation. It is newsworthy and at the centre of a geo-political conflict. It belongs in the public domain. WikiLeaks will ensure it stays there."
Sony is a member of the MPAA and a strong lobbyist on issues around internet policy, piracy, trade agreements and copyright issues. The emails show the back and forth on lobbying and political efforts, not only with the MPAA but with politicians directly. In November 2013 WikiLeaks published a secret draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) IP Chapter. The Sony Archives show SPE's internal reactions, including discussing the impact with Michael Froman, the US Trade Representative. It also references the case against Megaupload and the extradition of its founder Kim DotCom from New Zealand as part of SPE's war on piracy.
The connections and alignments between Sony Pictures Entertainment and the US Democratic Party are detailed through the archives, including SPE's CEO Lynton attending dinner with President Obama at Martha's Vineyard and Sony employees being part of fundraising dinners for the Democratic Party. There are emails setting up a collective within the corporation to get around the 5,000 USD limit on corporate campaign donations to give 50,000 USD to get the Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo elected as "Thanks to Governor Cuomo, we have a great production incentive environment in NY and a strong piracy advocate that’s actually done more than talk about our problems."
Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton is on the board of trustees of RAND Corporation, an organisation specialising in research and development for the United States military and intelligence sector. The Sony Archives show the flow of contacts and information between these two major US industries, whether it is RAND wanting to invite George Clooney and Kevin Spacey to events, or Lynton offering contact to Valerie Jarrett (a close advisor to Obama) or RAND desiring a partnership with IMAX for digital archiving. With this close tie to the military-industrial complex it is no surprise that Sony reached out to RAND for advice regarding its North Korea film The Interview. RAND provided an analyst specialised in North Korea and suggested Sony reach out to the State Department and the NSA regarding North Korea's complaints about the upcoming film. The Sony documents also show Sony being in possession of a brochure for an NSA-evaluated online cloud security set-up called INTEGRITY.
The archives also detail SPE's development of its own films and collecting "intelligence" on rival pictures, for example documents in the archive reveal the budget breakdown for Oliver Stone's rival picture Snowden, which is currently in production. The budget reveals the rights spend: 700,000 USD to the Guardian's Luke Harding, 600,000 USD to Oliver Stone for his work on the script and 1,000,000 USD to Snowden's Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena.
« Last Edit: Apr 17th, 2015, 9:10pm by Sys_Config »
I SAW THIS AND REFLECTED BACK TO A MOST INTERACTIVE TOPIC ~ SUCH ADDRESSED WHERE RELIGION WOULD BE WITHOUT GOD (AND I'M QUITE SURE THERE ARE COUNTLESS DENOTAIONS/CONNOTATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH THE AFOREMENTION - LET'S NOT TRIP OVER SUCH) ~ AND HAVING SAID THE AFOREMENTION ~ THERE ARE OTHER IMAGINATIVE WAYS OF PONDERING SUCH PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS...
GREAT SPIRITS ALWAYS ENCOUNTER THE MOST VIOLENT OPPOSITION FROM MEDIOCRE MINDS E=MC2
Khamenei says Iran nuclear weapons are a U.S. 'myth'
(Reuters) - Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told military commanders on Sunday the United States had created the "myth" of nuclear weapons to portray Iran as a threat, hardening his rhetoric before nuclear negotiations resume this week.
Khamenei, the highest authority in Iran, has supported the talks but continues to express deep mistrust of the United States.
"They created the myth of nuclear weapons so they could say the Islamic Republic is a source of threat. No, the source of threat is America itself, with its unrestrained, destabilizing interventions," Khamenei said in a televised address to a hall of several hundred military commanders.
"The other side is methodically and shamelessly threatening us militarily ... even if they did not make these overt threats, we would have to be prepared," he said.
Iran and six world powers including the United States reached a framework accord on Iran's disputed nuclear program this month and will resume negotiations in Vienna this week, aiming to reach final deal by the end of June.
The accord was a step towards a settlement that would allay Western fears that Iran could build an atomic bomb, with economic sanctions on Tehran being lifted in return.
Despite significant progress, the two sides still disagree on several issues, including how quickly international sanctions would be lifted under a final deal.
Earlier this month, Khamenei insisted that all sanctions be lifted immediately on a deal being reached, a condition that the U.S. State Department dismissed. He warned of the "devilish" intentions of the United States, even as he reaffirmed his support for Iran's negotiating team.
Khamenei also criticized U.S. support for a Saudi-led offensive in Yemen, where a coalition of Arab countries is bombing Iran-allied Houthi rebels who seized the capital Sanaa last year and took control of other parts of the country.
"Today these tragic events are happening in Yemen and the Americans are supporting the oppressor," he said.
The four-week old campaign, in which Iran and Western countries have backed opposite sides, began during the last round of nuclear talks. Growing civilian casualties and Western suspicions that Iran is arming the Houthis have added to tensions.
(Reporting by Sam Wilkin; Editing by Jane Merriman)