Behind The Woodshed Blogcaster – June 12, 2016.

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Spaghetti Western Reality

  • Judge dismisses one of the gun charges against Ammon Bundy, 7 co-defendants

    A federal judge has dismissed the charge of using and carrying firearms in the course of a crime of violence against Ammon Bundy and seven co-defendants, finding the underlying conspiracy charge doesn’t meet the legal definition of a “crime of violence.”

    The ruling dismissing Count 3 in the federal indictment is the first major win for the defense in the pending case stemming from the 41-day armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

    U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown issued a 16-page written ruling Friday afternoon, finding that the umbrella charge of conspiring to impede federal officers from doing their work at the refuge through “intimidation, threats or force” doesn’t necessarily mean that the conspiracy must involve the “threatened use of physical force” against a person or property.

    She noted that the word “intimidation,” for example, could apply to threats of nonviolent harm to property.

    Further, a “threat” under the conspiracy allegation could involve the blackmailing of a federal officer to prevent the federal officer from doing his or her federal duties — a threat that doesn’t necessarily require “threatened use of physical force,” the judge wrote.

    So, if the underlying conspiracy charge isn’t restricted to a “crime of violence” but encompasses a “broader swath” of conduct, then the count that charged eight refuge occupiers with using or carrying firearms in the course of “a crime of violence” should be thrown out, the judge ruled.

    Defense lawyer Per C. Olson had argued in legal briefs and oral arguments for dismissal of Count 3 on behalf of his client, David Fry, and the others charged.

    Olson told the court that the government wrongly applied a definition of “intimidation” from a federal bank robbery charge to the conspiracy charge. He argued that prosecutors can’t “lift a definition” from another statute and “shoehorn it” into this charge without any case law to base it on.

You Know You Are An Occupied People When

  • This is Why Police Beat People — Two Police Academies Caught on Video TEACHING Excessive Force

    Not one, but two police training academies have now been suspended for what appears to be teaching the use of excessive force — as the norm — captured on video.

    After an investigation by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE), the Lower Rio Grande Development Council (LRGVDC) Regional Police Academy and the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office Training Academy have been suspended until two further investigations are concluded.

    Details surrounding the separate suspension of the Hidalgo Sheriff’s training academy have not been released.

    Though the vast majority of police training in the United States involves stress-based, paramilitary, boot camp-style indoctrination, multiple studies have proven these warrior techniques ineffective in policing.

    As the Department of Justice’s own website on American policing noted, some scholars say “that the high stress paramilitary model of training results in police practices that are contrary to democratic governance and that a structure utilizing university connections, experiential learning, and critical thinking would be significantly more effective.”

    President Obama’s official directive for law enforcement embodies ‘community policing’ — but such training courses, as evidenced in the video, are antithetical to the very idea of collaborative problem-solving, community trust-building, and integrating police into the localities in their charge.


Military Intelligence – Beyond Oxymoron

  • U.S. Deploys Two Aircraft Carriers To Mediterranean To “Send A Clear Message To Russia”

    Over the weekend Zero Hedge noted that US aircraft carrier, the USS Harry Truman, which has served as a launching point for a near-constant barrage of airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria and which since November has accounted for a little more than half of the total sorties flown over those two countries by the U.S. military, recently crossed the Suez Canal in an unplanned trip to the Mediterranean, had begun striking at various Islamic State targets from the Mediterranean Sea. This marked the first time a carrier group has launched airstrikes from the area since the 2003 invasion in Iraq.

    But it turns out the carrier strike group had another, far more important mission when it entered the Mediterranean. According to the WSJ, this 20-story-tall aircraft carrier with a crew of 5,000 made an unplanned diversion from the Gulf to the eastern Mediterranean last week: a quick pivot intended to send a clear message to Russia. A military official in Washington said the Truman’s shift was a signal to Moscow and a demonstration of the Navy’s operational flexibility and reach.

    “It provides some needed presence in the Med to check…the Russians,” the official said. “The unpredictability of what we did with Truman kind of makes them think twice.”

    Unless the Russians were planning on annexing the Mediterranean we somehow fail to see how this works. Ironically, what is meant to be a show of force, may be just as easily interpreted as a sudden onset of defensiveness. Why the sudden insecurity?

    Washington claims that the increased military presence is aimed at fighting Islamic State and balancing Russian extensive military efforts. “The presence of two carrier strike groups in the Mediterranean Sea demonstrates our commitment to safety and security in the region,” the statement read. “These forces further serve to support European allies and partners, deter potential threats and are capable of conducting operations in support of the counter-ISIL [Daesh] mission.”

    As the WSJ notes, Rear Adm. Bret Batchelder, the highest-ranking officer on the carrier, told visiting reporters this week that moving the “capital ship” of the U.S. Navy from the Gulf through the Suez Canal is a flexing of muscle meant to reassure North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies of the American commitment to maintaining the balance of naval power in the Mediterranean. “It is a demonstration of capability. That’s for sure,” he said. “There are undoubtedly folks who are watching that and this is just a graphic representation of what we’re capable of.”

    In other words, just as NATO launched Anaconda 2016, the biggest NATO drill involving tens of thousands of western troops in eastern Europe since the cold war, one meant to simulate a Russian invasion of the country, and taking place in stratgic proximity to Russia, the US felt the need to “demonstrate” US naval power too.    Ironically, moving the Truman away from the Gulf means US air strikes on ISIS will be curbed.

Data Intercepts

  • FAA Warns of GPS Outages This Month During Mysterious Tests on the West Coast

    Starting today, it appears the US military will be testing a device or devices that will potentially jam GPS signals for six hours each day. We say “appears” because officially the tests were announced by the FAA but are centered near the US Navy’s largest installation in the Mojave Desert. And the Navy won’t tell us much about what’s going on.

    The FAA issued an advisory warning pilots on Saturday that global positioning systems (GPS) could be unreliable during six different days this month, primarily in the Southwestern United States. On June 7, 9, 21, 23, 28, and 30th the GPS interference testing will be taking place between 9:30am and 3:30pm Pacific time. But if you’re on the ground, you probably won’t notice interference.

    The testing will be centered on China Lake, California—home to the Navy’s 1.1 million acre Naval Air Weapons Center in the Mojave Desert. The potentially lost signals will stretch hundreds of miles in each direction and will affect various types of GPS, reaching the furthest at higher altitudes. But the jamming will only affect aircraft above 50 feet. As you can see from the FAA map below, the jamming will almost reach the California-Oregon border at 4o,000 feet above sea level and 505 nautical miles at its greatest range.”


  • Stunning Emails Reveal How Clinton Foundation Donor Bought Seat As Hillary’s Nuclear Weapons Advisor

    Forget Hillary’s personal email server: this is what true cronyism and criminal corruption looks like, and this is the biggest threat from a Hillary presidency.

    It has been widely speculated, if not proven, that donors to the Clinton Foundation who over the years have transferred hundreds of millions of dollars to the “charitable organization”, bought political favors with the Clintons in exchange for their generosity. That has now been confirmed thanks to a stunning ABC report which reveals how a major foundation donor – one who previously had practically no experience on intellgience matters – mysteriously ended up as a nuclear weapons advisor to Hillary during her tenure as Secretary of State.

    Worse, the person in question Rajiv K. Fernando, had been the head of a high frequency trading company, Chopper Trading (recently acquired by HFT powerhouse DRW), which may explain the unprecedented pull of the HFT lobby throughout all ranks of the US political apparatus. In other words, Fernando bought a seat to not only have advance knowledge of all US foreign policy, but to directly shape it, something he could then parlay in the forms of massive policy frontrunning profits thanks to his trading company.

    In other words, the appointment qualified Fernando, a trader in the public markets, for one of the highest levels of top secret access.

    Just as shocking was the aggressive retaliation with which the State Department tried to cover up the cronyism that literally “bought” Fernando’s seat as one of Hillary’s closest political advisors, and how – as a result of ongoing media pressure – Fernando just as mysteriously resigned only days after his appointment was announced when the State Department was unable to come up with a legitimate reason for him to stay on.


  • NSA Looking to Exploit Internet of Things, Including Biomedical Devices, Official Says

    The National Security Agency is researching opportunities to collect foreign intelligence — including the possibility of exploiting internet-connected biomedical devices like pacemakers, according to a senior official.

    “We’re looking at it sort of theoretically from a research point of view right now,” Richard Ledgett, the NSA’s deputy director, said at a conference on military technology at Washington’s Newseum on Friday.

    Biomedical devices could be a new source of information for the NSA’s data hoards — “maybe a niche kind of thing … a tool in the toolbox,” he said, though he added that there are easier ways to keep track of overseas terrorists and foreign intelligence agents.

    When asked if the entire scope of the Internet of Things — billions of interconnected devices — would be “a security nightmare or a signals intelligence bonanza,” he replied, “Both.”


Robot Out-Sourcing

  • Rise of the robots: 60,000 workers culled from just one factory as China’s struggling electronics hub turns to artificial intelligence

    Thirty-five Taiwanese companies, including Apple’s supplier Foxconn, spent a total of 4 billion yuan (HK$4.74 billion) on artificial intelligence last year, according to the Kunshan government’s publicity department.

    “The Foxconn factory has reduced its employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000, thanks to the introduction of robots. It has tasted success in reduction of labour costs,” said the department’s head Xu Yulian.

    “More companies are likely to follow suit.”

    As many as 600 major companies in Kunshan have similar plans, according to a government survey.

    The job cuts do not augur well for Kunshan, which had a population of more than 2.5 million at the end of 2014, two-thirds of whom were migrant workers.

    Industrial accidents in China continue to exact high toll in lives and property

    Factories and other buildings cover about 46 per cent of the land – a figure which is far higher than the cap set by the central ­government.


  • Tesla Model S Driver Crashes Into Car, Blames Autopilot Feature

    Tesla’ s Autopilot system may be leaps and bounds ahead of anything other automakers can offer today, but it’s still far from a finished product. Two incidents in the past week have put the spotlight on the Autopilot feature as two drivers were on the receiving end of accidents that they believe were caused by malfunctions on the part of Tesla’s Autopilot feature. For its part, Tesla has denied taking any responsibility, instead shifting the blame to the drivers and their carelessness in understanding the abilities of the technology.
    The case of Arianne Simpson is the more recent of the two occurrences. Speaking with Ars Technica, Simpson detailed the trail of events that led to her Model S rear-ending a car at 40 mph. According to Simpson, the Autopilot feature on her Model S didn’t brake like it was supposed to, forcing her to slam the brakes herself. Unfortunately, her reaction came too late as the Model S crashed into the car. Simpson blames the tech for not responding on time, but according to Tesla and its data log, the blame rests on the shoulder of the driver, who it says hit the brake pedal and deactivated the car’s “autopilot and traffic aware cruise control”, thus returning the car to manual control instantly.


  • Official snared in bribery case dies in suspicious crash

    A Florida city official died in a suspicious single-vehicle crash a day before he was scheduled to surrender in a criminal corruption case involving thousands of dollars in bribes, authorities said Tuesday.

    Opa-locka city commissioner Terence Pinder, 43, died Tuesday after the city-owned vehicle he was driving crashed into a large banyan tree, officials said. The tree is located in an undeveloped part of Miami-Opa-locka Executive Airport, far from any major road and surrounded mostly by grass.

    Police say they are investigating whether the crash was deliberate and how fast Pinder was driving. He was the Chevrolet Tahoe’s lone occupant, said Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Jennifer Capote. She said the crash was discovered about 8 a.m. by a woman walking her dog.

    “It does appear he was driving inside the grassy area at the airport,” Capote said.


Affluence Lost

  • Since 2014 The US Has Added 455,000 Waiters And Bartenders, And Lost 10,000 Manufacturing Workers

    When Obama made another TV appearance earlier this week, taking credit for the Fed’s reflation of the stock market as somehow indicative of an economic “recovery” (“fiction peddlers” not allowed in the crowd), he once ignore the underlying “facts” behind said recovery: here is another way of showing the unprecedented transformation in the US labor pool: since December 2014, the US has added 455,000 waiters and bartenders, while losing 10,000 manufacturing workers.


  • Ethereum Contracts Are Going To Be Candy For Hackers

    Smart Contracts and Programming Defects

    Ethereum promises that contracts will ‘live forever’ in the default case. And, in fact, unless the contract contains a suicide clause, they are not destroyable.

    This is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the default suicide mode for a contract is to return all funds embedded in the contract to the owner; it’s clearly unworkable to have a “zero trust” system in which the owner of a contract can at will claim all money.

    So, it’s good to let people reason about the contract longevity. On the other hand, I have been reviewing some Ethereum contracts recently, and the code quality is somewhere between “optimistic as to required quality” and “terrible” for code that is supposed to run forever.

    Dan Mayer cites research showing industry average bugs per 1000 lines of code at 15-50 and Microsoft released code at 0.5 per 1000, and 0(!) defects in 500,000 lines of code for NASA, with a very expensive and time consuming process.

    Ethereum Smart Contract Bugs per Line of Code exceeds 100 per 1000

    My review of Ethereum Smart Contracts available for inspection at shows a likely error rate of something like 100 per 1000, maybe higher.

    Bug Definitions

    I categorize bugs into three categories:

    1. Security flaws: loss of money or control possible for users or owners.
    2. Doesn’t do what it claims, either in the description or code comments.
    3. Wastes gas / is inefficient.

    Before starting this quick review, I would have expected to see a fair amount of 3, and a bit of 2. I have been surprised to see some significant instances of 1, often combined with 2.

    This raises a sort of rhetorical question for me; if contracts are immutable and permanent, and error rates do not approach zero, what are people signing up for?


  • Blockchain Entrepreneur Tells Central Bankers: Get Into the Digital Thing for Control

     The direction digital currencies are headed in is real bad.
    The head of a startup, Adam Ludwin CEO of San Francisco-based Chain, was recently in Washington D.C to introduce the digital blockchain to central bankers.

    He met with central bankers from 90 countries including Federal Reserve Chair Yellen, as well as officials from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and Bank for International Settlements.

    And get this, the meeting was held at the Washington D.C. headquarters of the Federal Reserve, the notorious  Eccles Building where monetary policy meetings are held.

    Luwin’s pitch to the central bankers was about pure control, that is, the central bankers can get even more control over their monetary systems and a countries economy by going digital.

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