How We Learned to Kill, NSA’S FIRMWARE HACKING, sex becomes a chore, More

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How We Learned to Kill

THE voice on the other end of the radio said: “There are two people digging by the side of the road. Can we shoot them?”

It was the middle of the night during my first week in Afghanistan in 2010, on the northern edge of American operations in Helmand Province, and they were directing the question to me. Were the men in their sights irrigating their farmland or planting a roadside bomb? The Marines reported seeing them digging and what appeared to be packages in their possession. Farmers in the valley work from sunrise to sundown, and seeing anyone out after dark was largely unheard-of.

My initial reaction was to ask the question to someone higher up the chain of command. I looked around our combat operations center for someone more senior and all I saw were young Marines looking back at me to see what I would do.

I wanted confirmation from a higher authority to do the abhorrent, something I’d spent my entire life believing was evil. With no higher power around, I realized it was my role as an officer to provide that validation to the Marine on the other end who would pull the trigger.

“Take the shot,” I responded. It was dialogue from the movies that I’d grown up with, but I spoke the words without irony. I summarily ordered the killing of two men. I wanted the Marine on the other end to give me a reason to change my decision, but the only sound I heard was the radio affirmative for an understood order: “Roger, out.” Shots rang out across the narrow river. A part of me wanted the rounds to miss their target, but they struck flesh and the men fell dead.

When I originally became an infantry officer, increasing my Marines’ ability to kill was my mission, and it was my primary focus as I led them to Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, as a young lieutenant, I had faith in my Marines; I trusted them and looked up to them. But in the back of my mind, I always wondered whether they would follow my orders in the moment of truth. As the echoes of gunfire reverberated and faded, I received my answer. Yes, they would follow me. I also received affirmation to a more sinister question: Yes, I could kill.

Much more on this subject found HERE.

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When sex becomes a chore

Procreation can have unexpected consequences on your sex life. Here are a few pitfalls — and how to avoid them.

When I saw the play Giant Box of Porn last summer at Capital Fringe, it hit home for me. I walked out with one thought blaring through my baby-fevered mind: Don’t shake a rattle during sex. Yes, that actually happens as the main couple in the play navigate their sex life, with Kate eager to get pregnant, while husband Ron is not quite so gung ho.

After she shakes the rattle, Ron is distracted, admitting to her, “It’s just hard to shift gears,” followed by, “I’m so used to hoping you don’t get pregnant. How is this not weird to you?”

Since this is an issue I’ve been dealing with in my own life (minus the rattle, thank you very much), for this column, I wanted to explore what changes when the motive for sex moves from pleasure to procreation for male-female couples. According to Giant Box of Porn playwright Patrick Flynn, this is something many couples go through, but these characters have trouble talking about this major step they’re embarking on. “Kate is very focused on their scheduled relationship goals. They’ve been married for a year so she believes she is ready to have a baby. Ron has been going along with everything so far but when he’s faced with the actual prospect right in front of him, he can’t go through with it.” Flynn doesn’t see Ron’s reaction to unprotected sex as unusual, but one that may have snuck up on Ron. “I think it’s something a lot of straight men don’t realize they’ll feel different about until they’re there.”

Flynn calls this emblematic of the way our culture tells straight men they should behave. “American media trains young boys that they are supposed to be promiscuous as long as they ‘get serious’ one day, settle down, and marry,” Flynn says. “But they’re also trained to be perpetual children with caves so they can hide from their wives who just want to make them grow up. It’s Peter Pan syndrome. Sex for procreation is one of those few moments where men find themselves facing a clear line between childhood and adulthood. They have to grow up in that moment. They may not chose to be grownups after the child comes but, for a moment, they have to act like adults.”

Read all of this HERE.

hear you speak

HOW THE NSA’S FIRMWARE HACKING WORKS AND WHY IT’S SO UNSETTLING

ONE OF THE most shocking parts of the recently discovered spying network Equation Group is its mysterious module designed to reprogram or reflash a computer hard drive’s firmware with malicious code. The Kaspersky researchers who uncovered this said its ability to subvert hard drive firmware—the guts of any computer—“surpasses anything else” they had ever seen.

The hacking tool, believed to be a product of the NSA, is significant because subverting the firmware gives the attackers God-like control of the system in a way that is stealthy and persistent even through software updates. The module, named “nls_933w.dll”, is the first of its kind found in the wild and is used with both the EquationDrug and GrayFish spy platforms Kaspersky uncovered.

It also has another capability: to create invisible storage space on the hard drive to hide data stolen from the system so the attackers can retrieve it later. This lets spies like the Equation Group bypass disk encryption by secreting documents they want to seize in areas that don’t get encrypted.

Kaspersky has so far uncovered 500 victims of the Equation Group, but only five of these had the firmware-flashing module on their systems. The flasher module is likely reserved for significant systems that present special surveillance challenges. Costin Raiu, director of Kaspersky’s Global Research and Analysis Team, believes these are high-value computers that are not connected to the internet and are protected with disk encryption.

Here’s what we know about the firmware-flashing module.

How It Works

Hard drive disks have a controller, essentially a mini-computer, that includes a memory chip or flash ROM where the firmware code for operating the hard drive resides.

When a machine is infected with EquationDrug or GrayFish, the firmware flasher module gets deposited onto the system and reaches out to a command server to obtain payload code that it then flashes to the firmware, replacing the existing firmware with a malicious one. The researchers uncovered two versions of the flasher module: one that appears to have been compiled in 2010 and is used with EquatinoDrug and one with a 2013 compilation date that is used with GrayFish.

Much more to read HERE/

What happens when you pour water on hot oil….watch this video!

Obama “Very Interested” In Raising Taxes Through Executive Action

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest confirmed Monday that President Obama is “very interested” in the idea of raising taxes through unilateral executive action.

“The president certainly has not indicated any reticence in using his executive authority to try and advance an agenda that benefits middle class Americans,” Earnest said in response to a question about Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) calling on Obama to raise more than $100 billion in taxes through IRS executive action.

“Now I don’t want to leave you with the impression that there is some imminent announcement, there is not, at least that I know of,” Earnest continued. “But the president has asked his team to examine the array of executive authorities that are available to him to try to make progress on his goals. So I am not in a position to talk in any detail at this point, but the president is very interested in this avenue generally,” Earnest finished.

Sanders sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew Friday identifying a number of executive actions he believes the IRS could take, without any input from Congress, that would close loopholes currently used by corporations. In the past, IRS lawyers have been hesitant to use executive actions to raise significant amounts of revenue, but that same calculation has change in other federal agencies since Obama became president.

Obama’s preferred option would be for Congress to pass a corporate tax hike that would fund liberal infrastructure projects like mass transit. But if Congress fails to do as Obama wishes, just as Congress has failed to pass the immigration reforms that Obama prefers, Obama could take actions unilaterally instead. This past November, for example, Obama gave work permits, Social Security Numbers, and drivers licenses to approximately 4 million illegal immigrants.

Those immigration actions, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will raise federal deficits by $8.8 billion over the next ten years.

More and video found HERE.

mr-sincerity

From Earl of Taint.

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