Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7515 on: Oct 24th, 2012, 09:53am »
Washington (CNN) By Elise Labott CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter updated 9:44 AM EDT, Wed October 24, 2012
-- Two hours after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the White House, the State Department and the FBI were told that an Islamist group had claimed credit, government e-mails obtained by CNN show.
One of the e-mails -- sent from a State Department address to various government agencies -- specifically identifies Ansar al-Sharia as claiming responsibility for the attack on its Facebook page and on Twitter.
The e-mails raise further questions about the seeming confusion on the part of the Obama administration to determine the nature of the September attack and those who planned it.
The attack left U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.
New Benghazi documents emerge The day after it took place, President Barack Obama labeled the incident an "act of terror."
But in the days following the attack, White House spokesman Jay Carney maintained there was no evidence suggesting the attack was "planned or imminent."
In attack aftermath, disagreement over how it began
The administration also suggested that an anti-Muslim video produced in the United States likely fueled a spontaneous demonstration in Benghazi as it had in Cairo, where the U.S. Embassy also was attacked.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland and Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, all cited the video as a motivating factor in the attack.
On September 13, a senior U.S. official told CNN that the violence in Libya was not the work of "an innocent mob."
"The video or 9/11 made a handy excuse and could be fortuitous from their perspective, but this was a clearly planned military-type attack," the official said.
But it wasn't until September 19 that the administration began to call the attack the work of terrorists.
The e-mails provide additional insight into the Benghazi attack.
The first one, sent at 4:05 p.m. ET, or 10:05 p.m. in Libya, describes a diplomatic mission under attack.
"Approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well," the e-mail says. Stevens and four other mission staff are in the compound safe haven, it added.
Less than an hour later at 4:54 p.m. ET, another e-mail reports "firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi has stopped and the compound has been cleared." It says a search was underway for consulate personnel.
The final e-mail, from 6:07 p.m., notes the claim of responsibility for the attack.
The subject line reads: "Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack."
The email says: "Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli.
The Facebook claim of involvement was subsequently denied by the group at a news conference in the following days, but not very convincingly.
"We are saluting our people for this zeal in protecting their religion, to grant victory to the prophet," a spokesman for Ansar al-Sharia said at the time. "The response has to be firm."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7516 on: Oct 24th, 2012, 09:56am »
Ex-Goldman director Gupta awaits sentence in insider case
By Basil Katz Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:18am EDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The sentencing on Wednesday of fallen Wall Street titan Rajat Gupta for insider trading could come down to whether a judge agrees that his lifetime of charity counts against sending him to prison.
The former Goldman Sachs Group Inc board member was convicted in June of leaking boardroom secrets to hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, his friend and former business associate, at the height of the financial crisis.
Gupta, 63, is to be sentenced by Manhattan U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who oversaw the four-week trial. The former Goldman director, who also once ran the McKinsey & Co consulting firm and sat on the boards of Procter & Gamble Co and American Airlines, is the most influential corporate figure to be convicted in the recent crackdown on insider trading.
Indian-born Gupta had moved in elite business and philanthropic circles for decades until he became ensnared in the Rajaratnam case.
Gupta's lawyers have requested that he be spared prison, citing his work with groups such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on fighting disease in developing countries. Bill Gates, Microsoft Corp's co-founder, and former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan are among the luminaries who have urged Rakoff to be lenient.
As one alternative to prison, the defense proposed "a less orthodox" plan in which Gupta would live and work with Rwandan government officials to help fight HIV/AIDS and malaria in rural districts, court papers said.
Federal prosecutors, however, argue that Gupta should serve eight to 10 years in prison. Gupta repeatedly flouted the law and abused his position as a corporate board member, they said.
Legal experts say Rakoff is unlikely to grant Gupta's request to avoid prison. The leaks of sensitive information at the heart of his case involved serious breaches of trust, said JaneAnne Murray, a white-collar defense attorney and professor at the University of Minnesota Law School.
"Balanced against that will be the breadth of his philanthropy," she said. "These extremes give this sentencing Shakespearean overtones."
Rakoff is considered by many defense attorneys to be less harsh in sentencing than some of his peers, but he has imposed significant prison terms in other insider-trading cases.
In 2011, for example, Rakoff sentenced technology consultant Winifred Jiau to four years in prison on similar insider-trading charges. Another judge sentenced Rajaratnam, who was convicted of securities fraud and conspiracy in May 2011, to 11 years.
Gupta was found guilty of three counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy. The maximum sentence is 20 years for securities fraud and five years for conspiracy.
He was cleared of divulging P&G's quarterly earnings in January 2009. He was also found not guilty of illegally telling Rajaratnam about Goldman's quarterly earnings after a March 12, 2007, board meeting.
Part of the prosecution's evidence was that within a minute of disconnecting from a September 2008 board call approving a $5 billion investment in Goldman by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc, Gupta called Rajaratnam. Rajaratnam then hurriedly ordered his traders to buy as much as $40 million in Goldman stock, prosecutors said.
The case is USA v Gupta, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 11-cr-907.
(Reporting by Basil Katz; Editing by Martha Graybow and Matthew Lewis)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7517 on: Oct 24th, 2012, 10:01am »
How a Google Headhunter’s E-Mail Unraveled a Massive Net Security Hole
By Kim Zetter 10.24.126:30 AM
It was a strange e-mail, coming from a job recruiter at Google, asking Zachary Harris if he was interested in a position as a site-reliability engineer.
“You obviously have a passion for Linux and programming,” the e-mail from the Google recruiter read. “I wanted to see if you are open to confidentially exploring opportunities with Google?”
Harris was intrigued, but skeptical. The e-mail had come to him last December completely out of the blue, and as a mathematician, he didn’t seem the likeliest candidate for the job Google was pitching.
So he wondered if the e-mail might have been spoofed – something sent from a scammer to appear to come from the search giant. But when Harris examined the e-mail’s header information, it all seemed legitimate.
Then he noticed something strange. Google was using a weak cryptographic key to certify to recipients that its correspondence came from a legitimate Google corporate domain. Anyone who cracked the key could use it to impersonate an e-mail sender from Google, including Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
The problem lay with the DKIM key (DomainKeys Identified Mail) Google used for its google.com e-mails. DKIM involves a cryptographic key that domains use to sign e-mail originating from them – or passing through them – to validate to a recipient that the header information on an e-mail is correct and that the correspondence indeed came from the stated domain. When e-mail arrives at its destination, the receiving server can look up the public key through the sender’s DNS records and verify the validity of the signature.
For security reasons, the DKIM standard calls for using keys that are at least 1,024 bits in length. But Google was using a 512-bit key – which could be easily cracked with a little cloud-computing help.
Harris thought there was no way Google would be so careless, so he concluded it must be a sly recruiting test to see if job applicants would spot the vulnerability. Perhaps the recruiter was in on the game; or perhaps it was set up by Google’s tech team behind the scenes, with recruiters as unwitting accomplices.
Harris wasn’t interested in the job at Google, but he decided to crack the key and send an e-mail to Google founders Brin and Page, as each other, just to show them that he was onto their game.
“I love factoring numbers,” Harris says. “So I thought this was fun. I really wanted to solve their puzzle and prove I could do it.”
In the e-mail, he plugged his personal website:
Here’s an interesting idea still being developed in its infancy:
I think we should look into whether Google could get involved with this guy in some way. What do you think?
Harris made sure the return path for the e-mails went to his own e-mail account, so that Brin and Page could ask him how he’d cracked their puzzle. But Harris never got a response from the Google founders. Instead, two days later, he noticed that Google’s cryptographic key had suddenly changed to 2,048 bits. And he got a lot of sudden hits to his web site from Google IP addresses.
Oops, Harris thought, it was a real vulnerability he’d found.
“I assumed the e-mail got to some influential tech person who looked at it and said, ‘Wait a second, how is this obviously spoofed e-mail getting through?’ And they apparently figured it out on their own,” he says.
Harris started exploring other sites and noticed the same problem with the DKIM keys used by PayPal, Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, Apple, Dell, LinkedIn, Twitter, SBCGlobal, US Bank, HP, Match.com and HSBC. Send an e-mail as firstname.lastname@example.org? No problem. Spoof email@example.com? Piece of cake.
Spoofing e-mail is one of the methods that attackers use in phishing attacks that trick users into opening malicious e-mails that appear to be legitimate messages from PayPal, eBay or a bank, in order to trick users into disclosing their account login credentials.
Moreover, some of the most high-profile attacks in recent years — against Google, RSA and others — have used spear-phishing attacks that involve targeting specific people at a company by sending them a malicious e-mail that appears to come from a trusted colleague or source, in order to trick the recipient into visiting a compromised website where malware is downloaded to their machine. A spoofed e-mail that is actually signed with a company’s DKIM key can help attackers get their phishing attacks past filters set up to detect them.
Finding the vulnerability in Google’s own domain was ironic, since Google makes concerted efforts to block e-mails sent to Gmail users from other spoofed domains.
A Google spokeswoman told Wired that the company took the problem very seriously and instituted a fix as soon as it became aware of the issue. She said the company has revoked the keys for all of its affected domains and re-issued new ones that are greater than 1,024 bits.
Harris found three classes of key lengths used by vulnerable domains – 384 bits, 512 bits, and 768 bits.
“A 384-bit key I can factor on my laptop in 24 hours,” he says. “The 512-bit keys I can factor in about 72 hours using Amazon Web Services for $75. And I did do a number of those. Then there are the 768-bit keys. Those are not factorable by a normal person like me with my resources alone. But the government of Iran probably could, or a large group with sufficient computing resources could pull it off.”
In addition to Google, he found that eBay, Yahoo, Twitter and Amazon were all using 512-bit keys. PayPal, LinkedIn, US Bank and HSBC were using 768-bit keys.
“It was good that PayPal and the banks were in the 768 category, but still, for domains that are as heavily phished as PayPal, 768 is really not okay,” Harris says. “They really should have been at 1024, and they have heeded the message and said they really should have had stronger keys all along.”
Most of the companies Harris contacted over the last few months have fixed their keys, though some are still dragging their feet, he notes. After contacting CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University to report the vulnerability in August, Harris decided to go public to warn other domains about the need to check their DKIM keys. Michael Orlando, vulnerability analyst with CERT, said his group planned to release an announcement about the issue this week to spread the word.
The fix is an easy one – companies simply need to generate a new key at the stronger length and place it in their DNS records. But they also need to remember to revoke their old key, Harris says.
“As long as the old one is still in the DNS record, even if you’re not using it, an attacker can still use it,” he says.
Harris thinks the problem is that many companies set their keys once and then forget about them, despite advances in cryptographic breakthroughs that make their keys obsolete.
“People who use cryptographic tools need to realize that local configurations need to be maintained just like software updates need to be maintained,” he says. “In 1998 it was an academic breakthrough of great concerted effort to crack a 512 bit key. Today little old me can do it by myself in 72 hours on AWS. The field of cryptography keeps developing and breaking new ground just like everything else, and you can’t just install a private key, or select a hash algorithm, and expect it to be good forever.”
But Harris says the problem isn’t just with the sender domains; he found that receiving domains also created vulnerabilities by accepting DKIM keys that were clearly marked as tests. In some cases, sender domains had generated test keys when they set up their systems, but never revoked them. Although Harris found keys that were clearly flagged as being test keys, recipient domains that saw these flags accepted the emails as being verified instead of considering them unsigned, as they should have done.
“So that’s a problem on both sides; the senders are having these testing keys that they’re leaving in DNS records long after the period of testing is completed, and then the verifiers are ignoring the testing flag.” he says.
Harris isn’t a security researcher, and he didn’t even known what DKIM was before he started investigating the authenticity of the Google email he received.
“The fact that I went into this not knowing what a DKIM header was illustrates that somebody with enough technical background can figure this out as they go along,” he says.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7518 on: Oct 24th, 2012, 10:10am »
Barnes & Noble Does Damage Control After “Sophisticated” Crooks Hack Customer Data
By DAVID LIEBERMAN, Executive Editor Wednesday October 24, 2012 @ 8:59am EDT Tags: Barnes & Noble
The “sophisticated criminal effort” captured consumers’ credit and debit card numbers after conspirators planted bugs in PIN pads at 63 Barnes & Noble stores, the company says this morning. The scheme didn’t affect Barnes & Noble’s Nook tablets or mobile apps, the chain’s member database, or any Barnes & Noble College Bookstores. B&N says it caught the problem in mid-September, and that it’s safe now to use credit and debit cards at its stores. It pulled all of the PIN pads in nearly 700 outlets. Still, the company urges consumers at the stores that were hit — listed in the press release below — to change their PIN numbers and check their accounts to be sure that they don’ t include phony transactions.
Here’s the release:
October 24, 2012; New York – Barnes & Noble has detected tampering with PIN pad devices used in 63 of its stores. Upon detecting evidence of tampering, which was limited to one compromised PIN pad in each of the affected stores, Barnes & Noble discontinued use of all PIN pads in its nearly 700 stores nationwide. The company also notified federal law enforcement authorities, and has been supporting a federal government investigation into the matter.
Barnes & Noble has completed an internal investigation that involved the inspection and validation of every PIN pad in every store. The tampering, which affected fewer than 1% of PIN pads in Barnes & Noble stores, was a sophisticated criminal effort to steal credit card information, debit card information, and debit card PIN numbers from customers who swiped their cards through PIN pads when they made purchases. This situation involved only purchases in which a customer swiped a credit or debit card in a store using one of the compromised PIN pads.
The company emphasized that its customer database is secure. Purchases on Barnes & Noble.com, NOOK and NOOK mobile apps were not affected. The member database was also not affected. None of the affected PIN pads was discovered at Barnes & Noble College Bookstores.
Barnes & Noble is continuing to assist federal law enforcement authorities in this matter. In addition, the company is working with banks, payment card brands and issuers to identify accounts that may have been compromised, so banks and issuers can employ enhanced fraud security measures on potentially impacted accounts.
The criminals planted bugs in the tampered PIN pad devices, allowing for the capture of credit card and PIN numbers. Barnes & Noble disconnected all PIN pads from its stores nationwide by close of business September 14, and customers can securely shop with credit cards through the company’s cash registers. Barnes & Noble said it is committed to providing customers with a safe shopping environment.
Tampered PIN pads were discovered from stores in the following states: CA, CT, FL, IL, MA, NJ, NY, PA, RI. A complete list of specific stores follows.
Store Address City State Zip 4735 Commons Way Calabasas CA 91302 2470 Tuscany Street Suite 101 Corona CA 92881 2015 Birch Road Suite 700 Chula Vista CA 91915 313 Corte Madera Town Center Corte Madera CA 94925 5604 Bay Street Emeryville CA 94608 810 West Valley Parkway Escondido CA 92025 1315 E. Gladstone Street Glendora CA 91740 5183 Montclair Plaza Lane Montclair CA 91763 894 Marsh St Bldg G San Luis Obispo CA 93401 2615 Vista Way Oceanside CA 92054 72-840 Highway 111 Suite 425 Palm Desert CA 92260 27460 West Lugonia Ave Redlands CA 92374 1150 El Camino Real Space 277 San Bruno CA 94066 10775 Westview Parkway San Diego CA 92126 3600 Stevens Creek Blvd San Jose CA 95117 11 West Hillsdale Blvd. San Mateo CA 94403 9938 Mission Gorge Road Santee CA 92071 40570 Winchester Rd Temecula CA 92591 4820 Telephone Road Ventura CA 93003 1149 S. Main St. Walnut Creek CA 94596 470 Universal Drive North North Haven CT 06473 100 Greyrock Place Suite H009 Stamford CT 06901 60 Isham Road W. Hartford CT 06107 18711 NE Biscayne Blvd Aventura FL 33180 333 N. Congress Avenue Boynton Beach FL 33436 152 Miracle Mile Coral Gables FL 33134 1900 W International Spdway Daytona Beach FL 32114 2051 N. Federal Highway Fort Lauderdale FL 33305 12405 N Kendall Drive Miami FL 33186 11380 Legacy Ave Palm Beach Gardens FL 33410 14572 SW 5th St Suite 10140 Pembroke Pines FL 33027 11820 Pines Blvd Pembroke Pines FL 33026 5701 Sunset Drive Suite 196 S. Miami FL 33143 700 Rosemary Ave Unit #104 West Palm Beach FL 33401 1441 West Webster Avenue Chicago IL 60614 1130 North State Street Chicago IL 60610 5380 Route 14 Crystal Lake IL 60014 20600 North Rand Road Deer Park IL 60010 728 North Waukegan Road Deerfield IL 60015 1630 Sherman Avenue Evanston IL 60201 1468 Springhill Mall Blvd W. Dundee IL 60118 170 Boylston Street Chestnut Hill MA 02467 96 Derby Street Suite 300 Hingham MA 02043 82 Providence Highway East Walpole MA 02032 395 Route 3 East Clifton NJ 07014 55 Parsonage Road Edison NJ 08837 2134 State Highway 35 Holmdel NJ 07733 4831 US Hwy 9 Howell NJ 07731 23-80 Bell Blvd. Bayside NY 11360 176-60 Union Turnpike Fresh Meadows NY 11366 1542 Northern Blvd Manhasset NY 11030 160 E 54th Street (Citicorp) New York NY 10022 2289 Broadway New York NY 10024 33 East 17th Street (Union Square) New York NY 10003 555 Fifth Ave New York NY 10017 2245 Richmond Avenue Staten Island NY 10314 230 Main St White Plains NY 10601 97 Warren Street New York NY 10007 100 West Bridge Street Homestead PA 15120 800 Settlers Ridge Center Drive Pittsburgh PA 15205 1311 West Main Road Middleton RI 02842 371 Putnam Pike Suite 330 Smithfield RI 02917 1350-B Bald Hill Rd Warwick RI 02886
Debit Card Users:As a precaution, customers and employees who have swiped their cards at any of the Barnes & Noble stores with affected PIN pads should take the following steps:
Change the PIN numbers on their debit cards
Review their accounts for unauthorized transactions
Notify their banks immediately if they discover any unauthorized purchases or withdrawals
Credit Card Users:
Review their statements for any unauthorized transactions
Notify their card-issuing banks if they discover any unauthorized purchases or cash advances
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7519 on: Oct 24th, 2012, 8:40pm »
Ty Woods Memorial Fund
Retired Senior Chief Ty Woods led a distinguished Navy SEAL career for over 20 years. After retiring from the military Ty continued to serve his country in a different line of duty that included several deployments to various parts of the world for our national interests.
In his final moments, he lived and fought as he always did. Ty responded to the attack on the Benghazi consulate on September 11, 2012. He fought his way through the enemy and into the compound to defend State Department personnel from attack. Setting up a defensive position, Ty and his colleagues helped evacuate dozens of Americans from the consulate and to a safer position while continuing to defend against the onslaught.
Fighting until his last breath, Ty did what he always had; he inspired, led, helped and fought for the defenseless, for our country, and for us. Ty died as he would have wanted - with his sword in his hand. Ty leaves behind a wife and his young child.
The purpose of the memorial account is to fill the benefit gap his child would have received if Ty still had been an active duty SEAL. Because Ty was not an active duty SEAL but still performing special operations for his country, we are duty bound to give his child all the resources (counseling, survivor camps, educational assistance etc.) he needs to help him grow up without a father and understand that he is not alone and why Ty had to leave us early. To defend freedom.
Please note that we are currently only accepting donations online, thanks for your support.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7520 on: Oct 25th, 2012, 10:49am »
With ‘Safe Haven,’ Desktop Weaponeers Resume Work on 3D-Printed Guns
By Robert Beckhusen October 25, 2012 | 6:30 am Categories: Gadgets and Gear
Three weeks after a group of desktop gunsmiths had its leaded 3D printer seized by the digital manufacturing firm that owned it, the weaponeers have quietly restarted plans to build a gun entirely of printed parts. The group has also begun expanding their operation with outside help, including space for ballistics testing provided by a mysterious firm involved in the defense industry.
Cody Wilson, founder of the Wiki Weapon project, tells Danger Room that the unnamed company’s owner “wanted to offer me a safe haven, basically.” Wilson describes the company as a “private defense firm” in San Antonio, Texas, but the company’s owner is wary of negative publicity and Wilson doesn’t want to reveal the firm’s name without consent.
“We’ve got basically a space where we can do experiments. Ballistics, basically. So it’s not quite a range — we’ve got a range — but we’ve got floor space where we can literally test the guns and set up instrumentation,” Wilson says.
A second unnamed company has also stepped in to volunteer manufacturing space. That company works with 3D printers and is based in a light industrial district in nearby Austin, where Wilson lives.
But the new assistance wouldn’t have happened had Wiki Weapon not first run into trouble acquiring a 3D desktop printer — which use layers of heated materials to create everyday objects. At the low-end, they can be used to print everything from silverware and jewelry to Warhammer miniatures. At the high-end, the printers are used in industries ranging from dentistry to aerospace. But Wiki Weapon intended to go much further by producing a working pistol.
The group was stymied in late September after a printer leased from desktop manufacturer Stratasys was seized by the company over fears the group was preparing an illegal and unlicensed gun undetectable by airport security scanners. The federal law Stratasys alleged Wilson intended to break – the Undetectable Firearms Act – provides an exemption for plastic gun prototypes made by licensed manufacturers. Within days after his printer was taken away, Wilson was also questioned after visiting a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms office in Austin. The group is now seeking a license from the agency.
Later, Wilson was approached by a licensed gun manufacturer who was apparently willing to let the group use his personal 3D printer. “But he got cold feet, so we walked away from it,” Wilson says.
The desktop gunsmiths are also forming a slew of corporations to protect Wiki Weapon against potential lawsuits. The online collective overseeing the project, called Defense Distributed, is being turned into a nonprofit 501(c)(3) engaged in “charitable pubic interest publishing,” Wilson says, which will distribute weapons blueprints online for free. A new research and development company created by the group called Liberty Laboratories is being incorporated in Texas and will be responsible for printing, testing and firing the guns. The group plans to start a third company for raising and protecting its private assets.
It’s not hard to see why. An early attempt at fundraising over Indiegogo was blocked until the group raised $20,000 over the online currency network Bitcoin. But the amount raised so far is fairly limited, and Wilson says the move is necessary to raise private capital.
Adding a sense of legitimacy to the project may also be a way to shield the group from some criticism. Ever since the group had its first printer taken, a raging debate has been carried out online over questions of gun control and the potential dangers regarding a future where anyone could potentially download a gun off the internet.
Gun control advocates slammed Wilson. Josh Horwitz, the executive director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, called Wilson an “extremist” involved in a “blatant, undisguised attempt to radically alter our system of government.” Backing up Wilson and Wiki Weapon were a loose coalition of gun enthusiasts, techies, libertarians and Reddit geeks.
At the same time, however, hobbyists have continued to experiment with printed gun parts. Earlier this month, one at-home manufacturer produced a working fire control group — the component which handles a gun’s trigger motion — for an AK-47 rifle. The debate will likely resume if or when Wiki Weapon produces a fully printed gun. “We have a printer on standby right now,” Wilson says. But he added that the group is looking at another five to six weeks at minimum before they’re ready, and that’s a big maybe. When (or if) the group receives a firearms license is still indeterminate.
“We want to prototype a few things first,” he says. “I think there’s no rush for me to go ahead and get into renting an Objet printer or something more high-end until one of these first few prototypes shows it has a promise.”
The good news for the group is that they’ve found companies willing to associate with DIY gun makers. It hasn’t been easy, so far. But don’t say isn’t easy isn’t impossible either.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7522 on: Oct 25th, 2012, 12:39pm »
Daytona Beach News-Journal Online
Local UFO expert tracks Flatwoods Monster case
By Rick de Yampert ENTERTAINMENT WRITER
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 5:30 a.m. Last Modified: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 6:10 p.m.
The amazing headline that day in 1952 wasn't from Amazing Stories, that science fiction magazine.
Instead the headline — "Saucer Talk in 4 States" — appeared on Page 2 in the Sept. 13, 1952 edition of the Daytona Beach Evening News.
The Associated Press story, datelined Baltimore, reported that "a fiery object that streaked through the night sky with a 'great greenish white light' stirred 'flying saucer' talk among residents of four states from Maryland to Tennessee last night ... Persons throughout Virginia saw what they variously described as 'a big star,' 'a flying saucer' and something 'like a flaming jet plane.' "
The AP story also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and dozens of other newspapers.
But the story was about to get more amazing, even downright weird.
When some kids in tiny Flatwoods, W. Va., witnessed a meteor — or fireball or something — seemingly crash that night on nearby farmland, they rushed home and told their mom, and the group got a flashlight to go check out the mystery object. The party included Kathleen May, her 13-year-old son Edison and 11-year-old son Freddie, their 18-year-old cousin Gene Lemon and others.
There in the woods — in the dusk amid a mist, a sulfurous smell and a hissing sound like "the frying of bacon," Kathleen May later said — the group encountered what Lemon described as "a 10-foot monster with a blood-red face and a green body that seemed to glow."
"Flatwoods Folks See Monster," reported The Braxton Democrat newspaper on Sept. 19, 1952.
Over succeeding years, some investigators of the "Flatwoods Monster," also called the "Braxton County Monster," would note that the meteor was real enough. But that beastie those eyewitnesses had encountered? A product of mass hysteria, some said. A barn owl, perched on a tree with underbrush giving the illusion of a massive, alien monster, others said.
Not so, says Port Orange UFO investigator Frank Feschino Jr., who has spent 21 years researching the case.
A full-time "ufologist" who has lectured and appeared on radio programs across the nation, Feschino has visited Flatwoods and interviewed Freddie May, Kathleen May before her death and other eyewitnesses. Feschino recently published his 317-page book, "The Braxton County Monster — Revised Edition — The Cover-Up of the Flatwoods Monster Revealed."
Feschino will discuss the incident as one of the presenters at the 13th Annual Night of the Paranormal on Friday at the Museum of Arts & Sciences in Daytona Beach.
So, Feschino believes the May family and others encountered an extraterrestrial visitor that night in Virginia?
"There's no doubt in my mind," he says.
But that close encounter of the third kind (that's ufologist parlance for a sighting of an alien) isn't the complete story, Feschino says.
"There were 21 sustained hours of UFO sightings" that day in 1952, Feschino says. "I pinpointed 102 locations over nine eastern states. There were 25 different craft. The biggest flap in American history — and everybody missed it. It's all documented with my sources."
Those sources, Feschino says, include not only his interviews of eyewitnesses, but also 35 pudgy binders of newspaper clippings, information from Project Blue Book files (the official UFO investigations conducted by the U.S. Air Force), and other materials which he keeps in a warehouse.
While UFO skeptics are quick to dismiss eyewitness accounts as human misperceptions, Feschino found the Flatwoods witnesses and others to be credible.
"These things were flying at tree-top level and crashing," he says. "Out of the 25 UFOs we have here, there were four damaged ones. They made repeated landings. They were crashing, puddle-jumping, burning tree tops."
Kathleen May, in her account of the Flatwoods Monster incident in Feschino's book, said: "We got close enough to it so I could see exactly what it was, and we all saw the same thing. I was as close to it as the length of a car."
And, May said, "I turned on my flashlight and it lit up like a Christmas tree ... It was just kind of floating. It was about a foot to a foot and a half off the ground, but it didn't have any kind of feet or anything that we could see."
Joe Nickell, writing in the book "The Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters," says the Flatwoods Monster was merely a startled barn owl, which cried out and swooped past the humans that had unexpectedly intruded upon its woodsy space.
"The witnesses were led to expect an alien being" by mistaking the meteor for an otherworldly craft, Nickell writes. "The brief glimpse, at night, of a being that suddenly swept at them — coupled with its strange 'ghastly' appearance and shrill frightening cry — would have been disconcerting to virtually anyone ... .
"And so a spooked barn owl in turn spooked the interlopers, and a monster was born. A 'windy' newspaperman and paranormal writers hyped the incident, favoring sensational explanations for more prosaic ones. Such is often the case with paranormal claims."
Such skeptics, Feschino says, don't challenge him directly on his conclusions: "The skeptics have backed off from me. They don't say anything. I have too much evidence."
Skeptics and many media accounts "made fools out of the locals" in the aftermath of the incident, Feschino says. "Everybody was making a big joke about the Mays and the kids, so they just shut up for years.
"When I was walking around different towns up there — Sutton, Gassaway, Flatwoods — when you would bring up the Flatwoods Monster, they took a step back. I was even told, 'We don't talk about the monster up here no more, boy.' They didn't want to talk about it."
The incident "got run off into a folklore story that a bunch a kids saw an owl in a tree and the underbrush gave the impression of a monster," Feschino says. "That's how it was written off, until I started working with the people and they saw I was dead serious. It took me all of these years to put this story together."
(For more information, go online to flatwoodsmonster.com. Click on the book cover to purchase Feschino's work.)
If You Go
WHAT: 13th Annual Night of the Paranormal
WHEN: 5-10 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Museum of Arts & Sciences, 352 S. Nova Road, Daytona Beach
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7523 on: Oct 25th, 2012, 12:43pm »
Monster Galaxy May Have Been Stirred Up by Black-Hole Mischief
ScienceDaily (Oct. 25, 2012)
— Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have obtained a remarkable new view of a whopper of an elliptical galaxy that may have been puffed up by the actions of one or more black holes in its core.
Spanning a little more than one million light-years, the galaxy is about 10 times the diameter of our Milky Way galaxy. The bloated galaxy is a member of an unusual class of galaxies with a diffuse core filled with a fog of starlight where there would normally be a concentrated peak of light around a central black hole. Viewing the core is like seeing a city with no downtown, just houses sprinkled across a vast landscape.
Astronomers used Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera 3 to measure the amount of starlight across the galaxy, dubbed A2261-BCG. The Hubble observations revealed that the galaxy's puffy core, measuring about 10,000 light-years, is the largest yet seen.
A galaxy's core size typically is correlated to the dimensions of its host galaxy, but in this case, the central region is much larger than astronomers would expect for the galaxy's size. In fact, the bloated core is more than three times larger than the center of other very luminous galaxies. Located three billion light-years away, the galaxy is the most massive and brightest galaxy in the Abell 2261 cluster.
Astronomers have proposed two possibilities for the puffy core. One scenario is that a pair of merging black holes gravitationally stirred up and scattered the stars. Another idea is that the merging black holes were ejected from the core. Left without an anchor, the stars began spreading out even more, creating the puffy-looking core.
Previous Hubble observations have revealed that supermassive black holes, weighing millions or billions times more than the Sun, reside at the centers of nearly all galaxies and may play a role in shaping those central regions.
"Expecting to find a black hole in every galaxy is sort of like expecting to find a pit inside a peach," explained astronomer Tod Lauer of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Ariz., a co-author of the Hubble study. "With this Hubble observation, we cut into the biggest peach and we can't find the pit. We don't know for sure that the black hole is not there, but Hubble shows that there's no concentration of stars in the core."
Team leader Marc Postman of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., said the galaxy stood out in the Hubble image. "When I first saw the image of this galaxy, I knew right away it was unusual," Postman explained. "The core was very diffuse and very large. The challenge was then to make sense of all the data, given what we knew from previous Hubble observations, and come up with a plausible explanation for the intriguing nature of this particular galaxy."
The paper describing the results appeared in the Sept. 10 issue of The Astrophysical Journal. The astronomers expected to see a slight cusp of light in the galaxy's center, marking the location of the black hole and attendant stars. Instead, the starlight's intensity remained fairly even across the galaxy.
One possibility for the puffy core may be due to two central black holes orbiting each other. These black holes collectively could have been as massive as several billion suns. Though one of the black holes would be native to the galaxy, a second black hole could have been added from a smaller galaxy that was gobbled up by the massive elliptical.
In this scenario, stars circling in the giant galaxy's center came close to the twin black holes. The stars were then given a gravitational boot out of the core. Each gravitational slingshot robbed the black holes of momentum, moving the pair ever closer together, until finally they merged, forming one supermassive black hole that still resides in the galaxy's center.
Another related possibility is that the black-hole merger created gravity waves, which are ripples in the fabric of space. According to the theory of general relativity, a pair of merging black holes produce ripples of gravity that radiate away. If the black holes are of unequal mass, then some of the energy may radiate more strongly in one direction, producing the equivalent of a rocket thrust. The imbalance of forces would have ejected the merged black hole from the center at speeds of millions of miles an hour, resulting in the rarity of a galaxy without a central black hole. "The black hole is the anchor for the stars," Lauer explained. "If you take it out, all of a sudden you have a lot less mass. The stars don't get held down very well and they expand out, enlarging the core even more."
The team admits that the ejected black-hole scenario may sound far-fetched, "but that's what makes observing the universe so intriguing -- sometimes you find the unexpected," said Postman.
Added Lauer: "This is a system that's interesting enough that it pushes against a lot of questions. We have thought an awful lot about what black holes do. But we haven't been able to test our theories. This is an interesting place where a lot of the ideas we've had can come together and can be tested, fairly exotic ideas about how black holes may interact with each other dynamically and how they would affect the surrounding stellar population."
The team is now conducting follow-up observations with the Very Large Array radio telescope (VLA) in New Mexico. The astronomers expect material falling onto a black hole to emit radio waves, among other types of radiation. They will compare the VLA data with the Hubble images to more precisely pin down the location of the black hole, if it indeed exists.
The Abell 2261 cluster is part of a multi-wavelength survey, led by Postman, called the Cluster Lensing And Supernova survey with Hubble (CLASH). The survey probes the distribution of dark matter in 25 massive galaxy clusters.
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md., conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7524 on: Oct 25th, 2012, 12:46pm »
Spike TV Offering Largest Prize in Reality TV History With 'Big Foot' Series
10:24 AM PDT 10/25/2012 by Michael O'Connell
If Big Foot does exist, proof of that just got very lucrative.
Spike TV announced Thursday a 10-episode pickup for 10 Million Dollar Big Foot Bounty, a new reality competition that's offering what would be the largest cash prize in TV history. The only catch is that the titular $10 million, backed by insurers of the bizarre at Lloyd's of London, can only be awarded to a contestant that provides irrefutable evidence that that Big Foot exists.
Scientists, zoologists, trackers and actual Big Foot hunters are among the competitors the series is lining up, with casting already underway. Teams will present their evidence to Big Foot "experts" in attempt to win the prize. And of the 10 episodes will follow different teams tackling the search with different methods.
Production will take place at locations across the U.S.
The one-hour series comes from Charlie Corwin’s Original Media (Swamp People) with Corwin, Michael Riley and Jon Kroll (The Amazing Race) serving as EPs.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7526 on: Oct 26th, 2012, 09:12am »
Belgian prosecutors study murder of Exxon executive
By Robert-Jan Bartunek Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:36am EDT
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgian prosecutors are investigating the murder of a British oil executive who was shot and killed in unexplained circumstances in front of his wife as they walked to their car after dinner at an Italian restaurant in Brussels.
Nicholas Mockford, who worked for U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil, was shot on October 14 after an evening meal, but prosecutors declined to say if they were investigating the case as a possible contract killing.
A woman who lived opposite where the couple had parked their car told Reuters she had heard three shots and then called the police. When she went out to investigate, she recognized Mockford's wife as a customer of her husband's hairdresser.
"She was clearly shocked and she said that they had demanded money, money, car, car. Those were the words she heard. One would imagine it was a car-jacking," she said.
Police initially suspected Mockford had been killed in a failed car hijacking, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters, though the couple's Lexus sports utility vehicle had not been taken after the shooting.
Marcello Minacapelli, the owner of the Italian restaurant, said the couple, who were not regulars, had left at about 10 p.m. on the Sunday evening, but he had not seen the incident.
Brussels prosecutors said they were not prepared to comment further on the details or circumstances of the case until the perpetrators were caught.
Mockford, 59, was a manager within the chemicals arm of ExxonMobil and had worked over a period of 38 years in Britain, Belgium and Singapore.
ExxonMobil Belgium confirmed he had worked as a department head at its office in Machelen, on the outskirts of Brussels.
"Of course we are all shocked," a company spokesman said. "There is no indication that the incident was work-related."
No one was willing to comment when Reuters called Mockford's family home in Grimbergen, an affluent town just north of the capital Brussels.
Britain's Foreign Office confirmed that a British national had been killed and that it was providing consular assistance.
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Rex Merrifield and Giles Elgood)
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7527 on: Oct 26th, 2012, 09:20am »
150 Years of Great American Trains By Keith Barry 10.26.12 6:20 AM
150 years ago, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln made an attempt to bind a fractured nation by signing the Pacific Railroad Act. Two companies -- the Union Pacific Railroad and Central Pacific Railroad -- were tasked with building a rail line from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean, linking both coasts of the United States. Between 1862 and 1869, the two companies would take full advantage of government financing, cheap labor and a nation distracted by war. Though corners were cut and scandals were numerous, the achievement was tremendous: What once was a harrowing journey of six months now took just one week.
While passenger rail travel in the U.S. now lags behind the high-speed railways of Europe and Asia, the train was king for most of the 19th and early 20th centuries. In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Pacific Railway Act, we take a look back at 10 great American passenger trains, from steam engines to streamliners.
Union Pacific 119
On May 10, 1869, Central Pacific Railroad chief Leland Stanford used a golden hammer to pound a single golden spike into the ground, joining the tracks of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads in Promontory Summit, Utah. Beside Stanford were two trains -- the Central Pacific's Jupiter, and the Union Pacific's 119. It was pressed into service by accident: Another locomotive was planned for the ceremony, but it couldn't make it to Promontory Summit after some bridge supports washed away in Colorado. No. 119 just happened to be the closest nearby train, and became part of history. That's a replica shown above: 119 was scrapped unceremoniously after pulling freight for more than 40 years.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7528 on: Oct 26th, 2012, 09:28am »
Universal and Jason Blum to Bring Stephen King Tale to the Screen
8:42 PM PDT 10/25/2012 by Gregg Kilday
Universal Pictures and Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions are joining forces on the fantasy-horror tale Mercy, an adaptation of Stephen King’s short story Gramma.
British actress Frances O’Connor will star in the project, to be directed by Peter Cornwell from a script by Matt Greenberg. Blum will produce with Wonderland Sound and Vision’s McG and Mary Viola.
The tale, which King first published in 1984 in Wierdbook magazine and which was then published in his 1985 short story collection Skeleton Key, concerns a mother, played by O’Connor, with two young sons who come to discover their ailing grandmother, Mercy, is a witch.
Blum, repped by CAA, has a first-look deal to produce low-budget genre pics for Universal. The producer currently has two horror hits playing theaters: Paranormal Activity 4 and Sinister.
O’Connor, repped by Gersh and Wishlab, has appeared in A.I. Artificial Intelligence and, most recently, The Hunter.
McG, who last directed This Means War and exec produces Supernatural, is repped by WME, Management 360 and Slone, Offer, Weber and Dern.
Cornwell, repped by ICM Partners, the Gotham Group and Felker Toczek Gellman Suddleson, directed 2009’s The Haunting in Connecticut.
Greenberg, repped by UTA, Magnolia Entertainment and Sloane, Offer, Weber and Dern, previously adapted another King short story, 1408, into the 2007 feature of the same name.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #7529 on: Oct 26th, 2012, 09:32am »
Texas sparks international row with election observers
By Julian Pecquet 10/25/12 03:04 PM ET
Texas authorities have threatened to arrest international election observers, prompting a furious response from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
“The threat of criminal sanctions against [international] observers is unacceptable,” Janez Lenarčič, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), said in a statement. “The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite ODIHR observers to observe its elections.”
Lawmakers from the group of 56 European and Central Asian nations have been observing U.S. elections since 2002, without incident. Their presence has become a flashpoint this year, however, as Republicans accuse Democrats of voter fraud while Democrats counter that GOP-inspired voter ID laws aim to disenfranchise minority voters.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott further fueled the controversy on Tuesday when he sent a letter to the OSCE warning the organization that its representatives “are not authorized by Texas law to enter a polling place” and that it “may be a criminal offense for OSCE’s representatives to maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place's entrance.”