Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Curiosity Right Over

Unlike the Russians, at least we can get our Mars missions out of Earth’s orbit.

NASA launches super-size Mars rover to red planet

The world’s biggest extraterrestrial explorer, NASA’s Curiosity rover, rocketed toward Mars on Saturday on a search for evidence that the red planet might once have been home to itsy-bitsy life.

It will take 8½ months for Curiosity to reach Mars following a journey of 354 million miles.

An unmanned Atlas V rocket hoisted the rover, officially known as Mars Science Laboratory, into a cloudy late morning sky. A Mars frenzy gripped the launch site, with more than 13,000 guests jamming the space center for NASA’s first launch to Earth’s next-door neighbor in four years, and the first send-off of a Martian rover in eight years.

See also:
NASA Rover Begins Long Cruise to Mars
For NASA’s rover Curiosity, it’s ‘Mars or Bust!’
NASA Launches Hefty Curiosity Rover to Mars
NASA launches $2.5 billion rover to Red Planet
Super-size Mars rover blasts off, biggest robotic explorer ever built to roam another planet
Launch of Nasa Curiosity Mars rover could lead to human mission by 2030
NASA launches super-size rover to Mars: ‘Go, Go!’
NASA rover launched to seek out life clues on Mars
Nasa rover begins journey in search of life on Mars
Curiosity on its way to Mars – November 26, 2011
NASA Rover to Begin Journey to Mars
Curiosity Starts Nine Month Journey to Mars
NASA’s Mars Rover Curiosity Takes Off
Will NASA’s Curiosity rover find signs of life on Mars?
Mars Science Laboratory
Mars Science Laboratory
Mars Science Laboratory

Well, so far so good, the mission is off to a good start. Of course, there’s still plenty of thing that could go wrong, the landing sequence for setting Curiosity down on the Martian surface looks to be extremely complex, like something Rube Goldberg would come up with.

/for $2.5 billion, Curiosity had better perform as advertised and discover something spectacular

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Finally Fingering The Usual Suspects

I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

Intell report says China, Russia stealing US secrets

After years of suspicions and mounting evidence, the United States has formally called out China and Russia on cyber espionage, accusing the countries of stealing U.S. economic and technology secrets. China quickly denied the accusation.

In a report, “Foreign Spies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace,” the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive also said U.S. allies have used online methods to help themselves to sensitive information, although the report does not name those countries. 

Read the report:
Foreign Spies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace 

See also:
In a world of cybertheft, U.S. names China, Russia as main culprits
Foreign cyber thieves stealing U.S. trade secrets, agency warns
China Singled Out for Cyberspying
US calls out Russia and China over hacking attacks
U.S. finally acknowledges Chinese and Russian cyberthreat
DNI Report on Economic Cyberespionage
US Report Cites Growing Economic Cyber Espionage
Report: Russia and China are top thieves of U.S. technology
Here’s The U.S. Government Report That Openly Calls Out China On Economic Cyberspying
US Official Singles Out China, Russia on Cyber-Spying
China, Russia top offenders in cyber stealing: US
US report blasts China, Russia for cybercrime
China hits back over US claims of online spying
China scorns U.S. cyber espionage charges

Gee, what have I been posting here for years now? It’s not like the massive, out of control Chinese and Russian cyberspying has been some sort of well kept secret. Oh well, I suppose better late than never, at least now the United States government is actually, publicly acknowledging the problem.

/and now I ask again, what are we going to do about the problem, can we please stop being the world’s cyberdoormat and speed bump on the superhighway to stolen intellectual property?

Yeti Yeti Oxen Free

It’s like a snipe hunt, in the snow.

Russian and US Scientists Gather to Hunt Down Yeti

Scientists from several countries, including Russia and the U.S., will gather in the Kemerova region of Siberia to hunt down the Yeti, after alleged sightings of the legendary creatures increased threefold in the area over the past 20 years.

Scientists from Russia, the U.S., Canada, Sweden, Estonia, Mongolia and China were invited to evaluate evidence of the creatures — the existence of which has never been proven — at a conference later this week, according to Russian radio station the Voice of Russia.

Alleged sightings of Yetis in Kemerovo and the neighboring Altai region, about 1,988 miles (3,200 kilometers) east of Moscow, are up three times compared to 20 years ago, with scientists estimating that there is a current population of at least several dozen in the area.

See also:
W Siberia Yeti country?
Search is on for Yeti, Russian Researchers Say
U.S. and Russian Yeti Scientists Team-Up to Find 30-strong Siberian Tribe
Bigfoot quest: Siberia drafts in the pros
International Team of Scientists will Hunt for the Yeti
Bigfoot Experts Gather in Siberia to Hunt for Hominids
Scientists set off on yeti hunt
Hunters to track down elusive yeti
Scientists set off to find the abominable snowman
Scientists Prepare to Find Yeti The Abominable Snowman
Yeti Search: BREAKING BIGFOOT NEWS – Sasquatch Hunt is On!

You know, if yetis existed, you’d think someone would have found at least a dead yeti body/skeleton or produced a clear photograph of one, especially since the advent of ubiquitous remote scouting/trail cameras.

/if you ask me, this “conference” is just an excuse for these scientists to get together for a few days, party, and get drunk

It Came From Outer Space

Life from the sky.

DNA building blocks found in meteorites

For 50 years, scientists have debated whether the components of DNA — the molecule central to all life on Earth — could spontaneously form in space. A new analysis of a dozen meteorites found in Antarctica and elsewhere presents the strongest evidence yet that the answer is yes.

Meteorites are space rocks that have fallen to the ground, and the new report bolsters the notion that heavy meteorite bombardment of the early Earth may have seeded the planet with the stuff of life.

“[M]Meteorites may have served as a molecular kit providing essential ingredients for the origin of life on Earth and possibly elsewhere,” write the authors of the report out today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

See also:
Found: A Batch of DNA Molecules That Seem To Have Originated in Space
Building Blocks of DNA Found in Meteorites From Space
NASA: Building blocks of DNA ‘can be made in space’
DNA in Meteorites Suggests Life Came from Space
DNA components confirmed to come from space
Scientists find building blocks of life in meteorites
NASA researchers find DNA building blocks can be made in space
DNA From Asteroids

Hey, if these DNA laden meteorites are showing up on Earth, they’re showing up on other planets too, thereby making the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe much more plausible.

/God works in mysterious ways

Hitting Us Where It Really Hurts

Whether or not “outside forces” were a factor in our 2008 economic meltdown, in the age of cyber warfare, the possibility of such an attack on the U.S. financial infrastructure is a scenario worth paying extremely close attention to. It’s a huge target, it’s far from invulnerable, and the potential for crippling economic damage and chaos cuts to the core of our very way of life.

Financial terrorism suspected in 2008 economic crash

Evidence outlined in a Pentagon contractor report suggests that financial subversion carried out by unknown parties, such as terrorists or hostile nations, contributed to the 2008 economic crash by covertly using vulnerabilities in the U.S. financial system.

The unclassified 2009 report “Economic Warfare: Risks and Responses” by financial analyst Kevin D. Freeman, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, states that “a three-phased attack was planned and is in the process against the United States economy.”

While economic analysts and a final report from the federal government’s Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission blame the crash on such economic factors as high-risk mortgage lending practices and poor federal regulation and supervision, the Pentagon contractor adds a new element: “outside forces,” a factor the commission did not examine.

“There is sufficient justification to question whether outside forces triggered, capitalized upon or magnified the economic difficulties of 2008,” the report says, explaining that those domestic economic factors would have caused a “normal downturn” but not the “near collapse” of the global economic system that took place.

Suspects include financial enemies in Middle Eastern states, Islamic terrorists, hostile members of the Chinese military, or government and organized crime groups in Russia, Venezuela or Iran. Chinese military officials publicly have suggested using economic warfare against the U.S.

Read the report:

Economic Warfare: Risks and Responses

See also:
Financial Terrorism Suspected in 2008 Economic Crash
Did ‘financial terrorism’ cause the economic crash?
Did China or Jihadists try to bankrupt America? Pentagon report reveals financial terrorists may have triggered economic crash
Report: Economic 9/11 May Have Taken Place
Financial terrorism suspected in 2008 economic crash
Was the U.S. a victim of an economic 9/11 in 2008?
Blame Terrorists, Not Wall Street, for the Recession?

If you think about it, there’s very little that could be called a paper trail regarding today’s financial records and transactions world wide, it’s all manipulated and stored electronically at a speed and complexity that defies human oversight.

/definitely a fertile battlespace for a sophisticated enemy looking to bring the United States down on her knees in financial pain

Night Dragon Strikes

How many intrusions by Chinese hackers does it take and how much technology data has to be stolen before U.S. companies start seriously defending themselves?

‘Sloppy’ Chinese hackers scored data-theft coup with ‘Night Dragon’

Chinese hackers who were “incredibly sloppy” still managed to steal gigabytes of data from Western energy companies, a McAfee executive said today.

“They were very unsophisticated,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, vice president of threat research at McAfee, speaking of the attackers. “They were incredibly sloppy, made mistakes and left lots of evidence.”

The attacks, which McAfee has dubbed “Night Dragon” and had tracked since November 2009, may have started two years earlier. They are still occurring.

Night Dragon targeted at least five Western oil, gas and petrochemical companies, all multinational corporations, said Alperovitch, who declined to identify the firms. Some are clients of McAfee, which was called in to investigate.

According to McAfee, the attacks infiltrated energy companies’ networks, and made off with gigabytes of proprietary information about contracts, oil- and gas-field operations, and the details on the SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems used to manage and monitor the firms’ facilities.

See also:
McAfee: Night Dragon Cyber-Attack Unsophisticated but Effective
‘Night Dragon’ Attacks From China Strike Energy Companies
Oil Firms Hit by Hackers From China, Report Says
Chinese hackers targeted energy multinationals, claims McAfee
Night dragon attacks petrol companies
China-based hackers targeted oil, energy companies in ‘Night Dragon’ cyber attacks, McAfee says
Hackers in China have hit oil and gas companies: McAfee report
Chinese hackers steal “confidential information” of five global oil companies: McAfee
Chinese Technician Denies Knowledge of Hacking
China Hacks Big Oil
Chinese hackers break into five oil multinationals
Chinese hackers ‘hit Western oil firms’

Repeat after me, China is not our friend. They don’t create innovative technology, they steal it. Hacking in China is a state-sponsored industry. Furthermore, the oil and gas industry is critical infrastructure, vital to our national security.

/these were unsophisticated attacks, meant only to steal data, and these energy companies couldn’t defend against them, what will happen when Chinese hackers unleash much more sophisticated attacks against our energy infrastructure, with the intent to inflict maximum damage and destruction?

Typical Government Efficiency

And remember, this is the FBI, they’re on our first line of defense against terrorism.

Audit Cites FBI Technology Problems

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s struggles with technology are expected to continue to eat up millions of dollars and still leave agents and analysts wanting for a seamless electronic system to manage investigations, according to a federal audit released Wednesday.

Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine said the FBI has already spent $405 million of the $451 million budgeted for its new Sentinel case-management system, but the system, as of September, was two years behind schedule and $100 million over budget.

Thomas Harrington, FBI associate deputy director, said the audit uses an outdated and “inflated cost estimate” that is “based on a worst-case scenario for a plan that we are no longer using.”

The FBI’s technology problems aren’t new, but they have potential consequences for the bureau’s efforts to prevent terrorist attacks, particularly at a time when the domestic terrorist threat is growing.

The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks exposed the FBI’s troubles with information sharing, and the bureau accelerated plans to replace its unwieldy case-management system with new software.

That technology project was called Trilogy and was supposed to deliver software called Virtual Case File that was to help FBI agents share investigative documents electronically. The inspector general called the project a fiasco and said the FBI and its contractors wasted $170 million and three years.

FBI Director Robert Mueller canceled Virtual Case File in 2005 and started a new project called Sentinel to be completed in 2009.

The system is supposed to provide agents and analysts with a secure Web-based system to search and manage evidence and get approvals for documents.

According to Mr. Fine’s audit, the system is still far from completion.

In July 2010, the FBI issued a stop-work order to contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. and decided to take over management of the completion of Sentinel.

FBI officials now say they can complete the system by September 2011, with additional spending of $20 million, according to the audit.

Mr. Fine found cause to doubt those estimates. He cited a review conducted by Mitre, a research group that is funded by the federal government, that estimates it will cost another $351 million to complete the system.

Read the report:

Status of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Implementation of the Sentinel Project,
Audit Report 11-01, October 2010

See also:
FBI Sentinel project is over budget and behind schedule, say IG auditors
FBI behind schedule, over budget on computer system
Report sharply critical of delays, costs of FBI case management system
IG report hits FBI Sentinel program
FBI Computer System Behind Schedule, Over Budget After $405 Million Spent
FBI computer system years late and way over budget
More Computer Woes at FBI, New System Late Over Budget
IG: FBI’s Sentinel program still off-track, over budget
FBI’s computer woes continue, auditors say
Report: FBI case management system still falls short
FBI’s Sentinel project $100 million over budget, 2 years behind schedule
Report Finds FBI Computer System Over Budget, Behind Schedule

Are you telling me that it takes more than five years and over a half billion dollars to design a case management system and it’s still not finished? And why is Lockheed Martin designing the software, when did they become known as software designers? Even Microsoft, as crappy as they are, could have probably put out a product that works in less time and for less money.

/if this FBI computer system disaster is an example of how the U.S. government operates in this arena, I can only shudder to think what will happen and how much it’ll cost when they decide to upgrade the homeland security and military computer networks