Cover for No Agenda Show 680: Sponsored Content
December 21st, 2014 • 2h 50m

680: Sponsored Content


Every new episode of No Agenda is accompanied by a comprehensive list of shownotes curated by Adam while preparing for the show. Clips played by the hosts during the show can also be found here.

Another MTV FaceBook Death announcement Celeste Rufo 62 WTF
Matt Hennessey from Think 41? WTF
Really want to know whay happened!
Is that how it will end now? No real ceremony? Just posts and pictures?
Smith Mundt Act - A reminder that you are living in a Smith-Mudt Act repealed media landscape
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt Act
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.[14][15][16]
Propaganda in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun, 21 Sep 2014 15:00
Propaganda in the United States is propaganda spread by government and media entities within the United States. Propaganda is information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to influence opinions. Propaganda is not only in advertising; it is also in radio, newspaper, posters, books, and anything else that might be sent out to the widespread public.
Domestic[edit]World War I[edit]The first large-scale use of propaganda by the U.S. government came during World War I. The government enlisted the help of citizens and children to help promote war bonds and stamps to help stimulate the economy. To keep the prices of war supplies down, the U.S. government produced posters that encouraged people to reduce waste and grow their own vegetables in "victory gardens." The public skepticism that was generated by the heavy-handed tactics of the Committee on Public Information would lead the postwar government to officially abandon the use of propaganda.[1]
World War II[edit]During World War II the U.S. officially had no propaganda, but the Roosevelt government used means to circumvent this official line. One such propaganda tool was the publicly owned but government funded Writers' War Board (WWB). The activities of the WWB were so extensive that it has been called the "greatest propaganda machine in history".[1]Why We Fight is a famous series of US government propaganda films made to justify US involvement in World War II.
In 1944 (lasting until 1948) prominent US policy makers launched a domestic propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the U.S. public to agree to a harsh peace for the German people, for example by removing the common view of the German people and the Nazi party as separate entities.[2] The core in this campaign was the Writers' War Board which was closely associated with the Roosevelt administration.[2]
Another means was the United States Office of War Information that Roosevelt established in June 1942, whose mandate was to promote understanding of the war policies under the director Elmer Davies. It dealt with posters, press, movies, exhibitions, and produced often slanted material conforming to US wartime purposes. Other large and influential non-governmental organizations during the war and immediate post war period were the Society for the Prevention of World War III and the Council on Books in Wartime.
Cold War[edit]During the Cold War, the U.S. government produced vast amounts of propaganda against communism and the Soviet bloc. Much of this propaganda was directed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under J. Edgar Hoover, who himself wrote the anti-communist tract Masters of Deceit. The FBI's COINTELPRO arm solicited journalists to produce fake news items discrediting communists and affiliated groups, such as H. Bruce Franklin and the Venceremos Organization.
War on Drugs[edit]The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, originally established by the National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988,[3][4] but now conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy under the Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998,[5] is a domestic propaganda campaign designed to "influence the attitudes of the public and the news media with respect to drug abuse" and for "reducing and preventing drug abuse among young people in the United States".[6][7] The Media Campaign cooperates with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and other government and non-government organizations.[8]
Iraq War[edit]In early 2002, the U.S. Department of Defense launched an information operation, colloquially referred to as the Pentagon military analyst program.[9] The goal of the operation is "to spread the administrations's talking points on Iraq by briefing ... retired commanders for network and cable television appearances," where they have been presented as independent analysts.[10] On 22 May 2008, after this program was revealed in the New York Times, the House passed an amendment that would make permanent a domestic propaganda ban that until now has been enacted annually in the military authorization bill.[11]
The Shared values initiative was a public relations campaign that was intended to sell a "new" America to Muslims around the world by showing that American Muslims were living happily and freely, without persecution, in post-9/11 America.[12] Funded by the United States Department of State, the campaign created a public relations front group known as Council of American Muslims for Understanding (CAMU). The campaign was divided in phases; the first of which consisted of five mini-documentaries for television, radio, and print with shared values messages for key Muslim countries.[13]
NDAA and Overturning of Smith-Mundt Act[edit]The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) allows for materials produced by the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to be released within U.S. borders and strikes down a long-time ban on the dissemination of such material in the country.[14][15][16]
Ad Council[edit]The Ad Council, an American non-profit organization that distributes public service announcements on behalf of various private and federal government agency sponsors, has been labeled as "little more than a domestic propaganda arm of the federal government" given the Ad Council's historically close collaboration with the President of the United States and the federal government.[17]
International[edit]Through several international broadcasting operations, the US disseminates American cultural information, official positions on international affairs, and daily summaries of international news. These operations fall under the International Broadcasting Bureau, the successor of the United States Information Agency, established in 1953. IBB's operations include Voice of America, Radio Liberty, Alhurra and other programs. They broadcast mainly to countries where the United States finds that information about international events is limited, either due to poor infrastructure or government censorship. The Smith-Mundt Act prohibits the Voice of America from disseminating information to US citizens that was produced specifically for a foreign audience.
During the Cold War the US ran covert propaganda campaigns in countries that appeared likely to become Soviet satellites, such as Italy, Afghanistan, and Chile.
Recently The Pentagon announced the creation of a new unit aimed at spreading propaganda about supposedly "inaccurate" stories being spread about the Iraq War. These "inaccuracies" have been blamed on the enemy trying to decrease support for the war. Donald Rumsfeld has been quoted as saying these stories are something that keeps him up at night.[18]
Psychological operations[edit]The US military defines psychological operations, or PSYOP, as:
planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.[19]
The Smith-Mundt Act, adopted in 1948, explicitly forbids information and psychological operations aimed at the US public.[20][21][22] Nevertheless, the current easy access to news and information from around the globe, makes it difficult to guarantee PSYOP programs do not reach the US public. Or, in the words of Army Col. James A. Treadwell, who commanded the U.S. military psyops unit in Iraq in 2003, in the Washington Post:
There's always going to be a certain amount of bleed-over with the global information environment.[23]
Agence France Presse reported on U.S. propaganda campaigns that:
The Pentagon acknowledged in a newly declassified document that the US public is increasingly exposed to propaganda disseminated overseas in psychological operations.[24]
Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the document referred to, which is titled "Information Operations Roadmap." [22][24] The document acknowledges the Smith-Mundt Act, but fails to offer any way of limiting the effect PSYOP programs have on domestic audiences.[20][21][25]
Several incidents in 2003 were documented by Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel, which he saw as information-warfare campaigns that were intended for "foreign populations and the American public." Truth from These Podia,[26] as the treatise was called, reported that the way the Iraq war was fought resembled a political campaign, stressing the message instead of the truth.[22]
See also[edit]References[edit]^ abThomas Howell, The Writers' War Board: U.S. Domestic Propaganda in World War II, Historian, Volume 59 Issue 4, Pages 795 - 813^ abSteven Casey, (2005), The Campaign to sell a harsh peace for Germany to the American public, 1944 - 1948, [online]. London: LSE Research Online. [Available online at] Originally published in History, 90 (297). pp. 62-92 (2005) Blackwell Publishing^National Narcotics Leadership Act of 1988 of the Anti''Drug Abuse Act of 1988, Pub.L. 100''690, 102 Stat. 4181, enacted November 18, 1988^Gamboa, Anthony H. (January 4, 2005), B-303495, Office of National Drug Control Policy '-- Video News Release, Government Accountability Office, footnote 6, page 3 ^Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 (Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999), Pub.L. 105''277, 112 Stat. 268, enacted October 21, 1998^Gamboa, Anthony H. (January 4, 2005), B-303495, Office of National Drug Control Policy '-- Video News Release, Government Accountability Office, pp. 9''10 ^Drug-Free Media Campaign Act of 1998 of the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999, Pub.L. 105''277, 112 Stat. 268, enacted October 21, 1998^Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2006, Pub.L. 109''469, 120 Stat. 3501, enacted December 29, 2006, codified at 21 U.S.C. § 1708^Barstow, David (2008-04-20). "Message Machine: Behind Analysts, the Pentagon's Hidden Hand". New York Times. ^Sessions, David (2008-04-20). "Onward T.V. Soldiers: The New York Times exposes a multi-armed Pentagon message machine". Slate. ^Barstow, David (2008-05-24). "2 Inquiries Set on Pentagon Publicity Effort". New York Times. ^Rampton, Sheldon (October 17, 2007). "Shared Values Revisited". Center for Media and Democracy. ^"U.S. Reaches Out to Muslim World with Shared Values Initiative". January 16, 2003.
FBI '-- Update on Sony Investigation
Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:11
FBI Mobile SiteYour search did not match any documents.
The FBI does not investigate all kinds of criminal activity. To see the categories of federal laws that the FBI does investigate, see our What We Investigate webpage.If you are looking for information about yourself or a case you are involved in, you must submit a Privacy Act request.The FBI does not comment on all current, ongoing cases. See our field press releases for public information on our investigations.The FBI is limited in the amount of information and photos it can provide on wanted fugitives and missing persons. We also do not investigate all fugitives or missing persons in the United States; many cases are handled by local authorities or other federal agenices.To find crime statistics in your area, please see our Crime Statistics webpage.The FBI does not have a national e-mail address for public questions or comments. Some of our local FBI offices, however, do have their own e-mail addresses. See our Contact Us page for more contact information.To find high resolution photos, go to our Photo Gallery.If you are looking for an FBI job application or open vacancies, go to the FBI Jobs website.If you wish to talk directly to an FBI representative, please call (202) 324-3000.
North Korea proposes a 'joint investigation' with US to prove its innocence in Sony hack | The Verge
Sat, 20 Dec 2014 16:32
North Korea is continuing to deny any involvement with the devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures. But the entire affair just got even stranger: foreign ministry officials have announced through the government's state-run news agency that "we propose a joint investigation with [the US] into this incident." The government then warned that there will be "grave consequences" if the US continues its "groundless slander" of North Korea and rejects its proposal of a joint investigation. Officials also added, "Without resorting to such tortures as were used by the CIA, we have means to prove that this incident has nothing to do with us."
The statement is the first response from North Korea since President Obama addressed the hack with the press, vowing that "we will respond, we will respond proportionally, and in a place and time that we choose." He also criticized Sony's decision to yank The Interview, saying that "We cannot have a society where some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States." President Obama's statement came yesterday just hours after the FBI announced that it had concluded that North Korea was the agent behind the hack on Sony Pictures.
I am from the future
Listen back to Show 677 @ about 1:23:26 re appropriations bill and Japan & Korea BYOB (buy your own bombs) situation. I quote: ACC: "We will see North Korea being very, very dangerous."
Sony hack, coincidence, I think not!
Sir Fudgefountain
Dude named ben [email]
It's not as easy as flicking on a switch, as I'm sure you know. The FBI and Sony - to the best of their knowledge - believe it to be NK. But read "Enemies" and I would say that book describes about as competent as I think the FBI are. I think it is NK, but I think it's also an inside job. I believe there to be a number groups involved (DNBen,HActivist, NK's $ etc), which might be involved. The true culprits will never be found. This is no simple job.
Ever since Bain Capital came in and started going after middle management this does not surprise. I even saw Bain take an long time executive directors office (which he had forever) and kicked him out just because the Bain dude liked the view. Fucked up.
Is it customary that Bain stays inside the company who's people it is trying to fire?
From a creative VFx insider [email
I have been working in the visual effects industry for over 15 years. I have been part of huge visual effects centric films, from James Bond, to a bunch of Harry Potter films, big Disney/Marvel movies and so on.
I have plenty of friends at sony
Here is the points that I reckon are worth knowing about sony and why I do agree why this could have started as as inside job, and the spinned out of control in the media manipulation machine.
- Sony Pictures Imageworks is the so called digital-division.
- due to tax credits offered by canada, they where relocating work over to Vancouver. This are tax credits for the studios, not the companies doing the work.
- lots of people lost their job and/or were asked to move to Vancouver. Think about 1000 people that have worked and invested in a place for years. With families and all.. Bad.
- SPI used to be at the forefront of this industry, winning oscars, and making kick ass technology and movies.
- the last years have been horrible. Morale was low. The movies are bad. From Smurfs to just bad Hotel Transylvania. People where losing their job and those who moved where working in bad movies.
- on of the top technology officers quit, adding fire to it all.
All this is something I have lived through the eyes of my colleagues. So it is very possible that this started in there.
Realize that the kind of work we do in VFX is at the forefront of technology. Is a strange mix of creativity and technology and though we are ultimately artists, tech is the base. Millions of R&D to make Brad Pitt look old or Angie look young, apart from all the kind of work you see (and don't notice when it's well done).
Technology is driven in the world by 3 industries. Military, medical and entertainment. What we do is used in military and what military does create, we use.
I just finished benign onset for a huge movie for next Xmas. We had drones to shoot the movie everywhere.
OVERNIGHT TECH: Obama signs cyber bills | TheHill
Sat, 20 Dec 2014 03:36
THE LEDE: President Obama on Thursday signed five cybersecurity bills into law, after an unexpected spate of legislative activity on the issue.
The five bills won't satisfy the strongest backers of tough cyber protections, but they should help many government officials beef up their networks and were cheered by supporters when they rushed through Congress in the final days of its 2014 session.
The bills largely direct various arms of government to deal in a more forceful way with cyber issues, but should also clarify current operations. The Cybersecurity Enhancement Act, for instance, allows the Commerce Department to write voluntary standards to protect critical infrastructure and tells the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a federal cyber research plan.Most of the bills are aimed at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The National Cybersecurity Protection Act establishes in law the department's national cybersecurity center, while the Federal Information Security Modernization Act updates 12-year-old federal information security laws. The Cybersecurity Workforce Assessment Act directs the DHS to build out a new strategy to recruit and hang onto the best and brightest workers in the field, and the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act allows the department to exempt some cyber staffers from normal government hiring rules.
Who's Will Hurd?: GOP Rep.-elect Will Hurd (Texas), a former CIA officer, was picked Thursday to lead the new House Oversight subcommittee on Information Technology. Hurd is the only freshman to lead one of the six subpanels on the committee. He defeated Democratic Rep. Pete Gallego in one of Texas's most competitive districts this year to take over the seat.
Hurd worked for the cybersecurity firm Fusion X for the past four years, focusing on issues related to manufactures, financial institutions, retailers and infrastructure. He previously worked as a partner for the firm Crumpton Group LLC, where he focused on managing risk for clients' intellectual and physical property.
'You don't negotiate with bad guys': During a live interview with The Texas Tribune on Thursday, Hurd said there are not enough people in Congress with a background on these issues, noting his degree is in computer science. He disagreed with Sony's decision to pull the movie "The Interview" after a cyber attack against the company and physical threats against theaters planning to show the film. He said the government had not yet outlined how to respond to purely digital attacks.
"You don't negotiate with bad guys, you don't negotiate with terrorists," he said. "And to me in this case, the North Koreans -- in my opinion, when it comes to their technical sophistication -- they are in kind of the tier two. And look, we shouldn't capitulate to these guys."
Google blasts attempt to revive SOPA: Google is "deeply concerned" about news that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has been working to revive controversial intellectual property laws through the states. Documents leaked in the massive hack at Sony Pictures indicated that the Hollywood trade group has attempted to bring back the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which major Web companies claim would lead to censorship of the Internet. In a blog post on Thursday, Google general counsel Kent Walker accused the MPAA of "trying to secretly censor the Internet."
FCC commissioners in 'untenable position'?: The head of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association reiterated his disappointment with President Obama over his call last month for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate broadband Internet as a utility. Michael Powell, a former Republican FCC chairman, said the independent agency could choose a different path, but it would be difficult.
"I have never in my career seen a president suggest so expressly the desire and outcome that he wants," Powell said on CNBC. "That puts the leadership of the commission in an untenable position in my judgment. And I think certainly they are free to make a different choice than the wishes of the president, but that comes with enormous political baggage, and I think it is quite unfortunate that the process has been politicized to such a dramatic degree."
How big of a deal are online TV rules?: The FCC is close to approving proposed rules that would allow online television services equal ability to negotiate and buy access to cable and broadcast channels, similar to cable and satellite TV companies. But research analyst Craig Moffett said the move might not be as important as others have made out.
"Truth be told, it is not a huge issue," he said in an interview for C-SPAN's "The Communicators" series set to air Saturday. "People have talked about it as if it might be some kind of a lifeline for companies like Aereo because it gives them at least a step in the direction of being able to license retransmission consent content from broadcasters. But it doesn't really give them all that much negotiating leverage there. All it says is they have to be negotiated with in good faith. That doesn't suggest that those companies have to license content to them. And I don't think that that reclassification is really going to change the world."
Adidas, L'Or(C)al, Lyft join CEA: The Consumer Electronics Association is adding a number of new members. Adidas, Lyft, New Balance, L'Or(C)al and Time are among the companies joining the more than 2,000 members of the tech trade group. In a statement, CEO Gary Shapiro said that the companies' focus on "the sharing economy" and the "Internet of things" make them natural members. "The world of consumer technologies continues to change and expand, reaching into new markets, transforming old business models and providing benefits across all aspects of consumers' lives," he said.
Microsoft sues tech support scammers: Microsoft filed a lawsuit Thursday against tech support operators it claims are scamming people. The tech giant says it has received more than 65,000 complaints about fake tech support scams since May.
Patent doc streaming online: A new industry-backed documentary pushing for targeted reforms to the nation's patent laws is now streaming online. "Inventing to Nowhere" is being pushed by the Innovation Alliance, an advocacy group, and features interviews with members of Congress and others.
Bitcoin ATM in DC: The Washington Post highlighted the arrival of the city's first bitcoin ATM, which was installed last month at a restaurant in Adams Morgan. The Post described it as one of a handful in the country, and noted only 10 transactions have taken place on its since it was installed the week of Thanksgiving. Users can purchase the virtual currency from the machine in denominations between $6 and $1,000.
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday ruled the name "Redskins" is not profane or obscene.
A group of 36 Democrats are increasing their calls for the FCC to reclassify broadband Internet as a public utility.
Theaters across the country are canceling showings of "Team America: World Police," previously scheduled to replace "The Interview" after Sony pulled the film due to security concerns.
The incoming chairman of the House Oversight Committee on Thursday announced the creation of a new information technology subpanel.
The two Republicans on the FCC are accusing the agency's chairman of refusing to let them have their say.
Please send tips and comments to Julian Hattem, and Mario Trujillo,
Follow us on Twitter: @HilliconValley, @jmhattem
Updated at 8:14 p.m. to correct the characterization of Innovation Alliance
Congress Passes Bill To Confront Rising Risks Of Cyberattack
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 04:55
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA '' The United States Congress earlier this week took an important step forward to better protect America from the increasing risks of industrial cyberattack when it approved The Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014.
The bipartisan bill'--which now goes to President Obama to be signed into law'--is designed to strengthen and protect the nation's economic and national security through public-private partnerships to improve cybersecurity and a greater reliance on cybersecurity standards; research and development; workforce development and education; and public awareness and preparedness.
Passage of the bill, which was sponsored by Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-WV) and Ranking Member John Thune (R-SD), follows years of efforts to pass federal cybersecurity legislation. An earlier cybersecurity bill, The Cybersecurity Act of 2012, was defeated in the Senate. Its demise prompted President Obama to instruct the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop the US Cybersecurity Framework, which was introduced in February of this year.
As a leading authority on industrial automation control systems (IACS) security standards and the ''Voice of Automation,'' the Automation Federation and its founding association, the International Society of Automation (ISA), have worked closely for years with lawmakers in Washington'--Senator Rockefeller, in particular'--to build support for the passage of federal cybersecurity legislation.
At the federal government's request, representatives of both the Automation Federation and ISA served as expert consultants to NIST as it coordinated the development of the US Cybersecurity Framework. In fact, long before the President called for a federal initiative on cybersecurity, Automation Federation and ISA leaders have been consulting with White House National Security Staff, US federal agency officials, and members of Congress on the critical need to establish national cybersecurity standards, guidelines and compliance testing.
IACS security standards developed by ISA (ISA99/IEC 62443) are integral components of the federal government's plans to combat cyberattack because they're designed to prevent and offset potentially devastating cyber damage to industrial plant systems and networks'--commonly used in transportation grids, power plants, water treatment facilities, and other vital industrial settings.
''The passage of this bill represents great progress toward better preparing government and private industry to meet the significant challenges and reduce the serious risks of industrial cyberattack,'' says Michael Marlowe, Managing Director and Director of Government Relations at the Automation Federation. ''We know that safeguarding America and the world from cyberattack will require a comprehensive, multi-faceted effort'--implementing standards that can prevent and mitigate security vulnerabilities; educating and training a skilled cybersecurity workforce; facilitating greater public-private collaboration; and pursuing ongoing research, development and awareness initiatives.''
Marlowe said the Automation Federation is already in discussions with NIST officials about how to implement the key provisions of The Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014 once it officially becomes law.
The Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014:
Authorizes NIST to facilitate and support the development of voluntary, industry-led cyber standards and best practices for critical infrastructure'--drawing on many of the key recommendations outlined in the US Cybersecurity Framework.Strengthens cyber research and development by building on existing research and development programs, and ensuring better coordination across the federal government.Improves the cyber workforce and cyber education by ensuring that the next generation of cyber experts are trained and prepared for the future.Increases the public's awareness of cyber risks and cybersecurity.Advances cybersecurity technical standards.''The bill and its language regarding the public-private sector partnerships using existing standards within the NIST Framework is a great testament to the hard work of the Automation Federation, the Automation Federation Government Relations Committee members and the ISA-99 Security Standards Committee members,'' says Steve Huffman, Chair of the Automation Federation's Government Relations Committee and an ISA99 Security Standards Committee member. ''Cybersecurity of industrial automation and control systems from the OT (operational technology) side was not a prominent issue in initial legislative discussions. By raising its importance among lawmakers, industrial cybersecurity became a more vital part of the legislation passed by Congress.
''The Automation Federation and its representatives,'' Huffman emphasizes, ''share with Senators Rockefeller and Thune great excitement over the passage of this bill and a vision of a safer cyber world and a workforce prepared to meet the challenges of the future.''
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Exclusive: Sony Emails Say State Department Blessed Kim Jong-Un Assassination in 'The Interview' - The Daily Beast
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 05:00
CEO Michael Lynton showed a rough cut of the movie to U.S. officials before moving ahead. Now hackers are threatening to bomb any theater that shows it.
The Daily Beast has unearthed several emails that reveal at least two U.S. government officials screened a rough cut of the Kim Jong-Un assassination comedy The Interview in late June and gave the film'--including a final scene that sees the dictator's head explode'--their blessing.
The claim that the State Department played an active role in the decision to include the film's gruesome death scene is likely to cause fury in Pyongyang. Emails between the Sony Entertainment CEO and a security consultant even appear to suggest the U.S. government may support the notion that The Interview would be useful propaganda against the North Korean regime.
Back on June 20, the first threat lobbed by North Korean officials against the holiday blockbuster seemed as empty as a North Korean villager's lunch box.
The Seth Rogen/James Franco-starrer, which centers on a TV host and his producer being tasked by the CIA with assassinating North Korean despot Kim Jong-Un, was branded ''an act of war.'' Studio executives at distributor Sony Pictures and the general public mostly laughed it off as yet another example of muscle-flexing by the rotund ruler.
But now, the controversy surrounding the political satire has gotten serious.
''Bruce '' Spoke to someone very senior in State (confidentially),'' wrote Lynton. ''He agreed with everything you have been saying. Everything. I will fill you in when we speak.''
In late November, a group that calls itself the Guardians of Peace breached Sony's company servers, and leaked several large caches of private internal data online, including the emails of several top Sony executives, Social Security numbers and private info of employees, screeners of upcoming feature films, and more. Some believe it to be the work of North Korean hackers as payback for The Interview, and while a spokesman for North Korea claimed ignorance, he added that the hack ''might be a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathizers with the DPRK in response to its appeal'' against the film. The Guardians of Peace, meanwhile, posted a message online that read, ''Stop immediately showing the movie of terrorism which can break the regional peace and cause the War.''
On Tuesday, the Guardians released what they referred to as a ''Chrsitmas gift'''--the eighth collection of hacked files consisting of the emails of Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment.
READ MORE: Sony Emails Show How the Studio Plans to Censor Kim Jong Un Assassination Comedy 'The Interview'
The leak also came with a disturbing threat:
We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places 'The Interview' be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to. Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you'd better leave.)
Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment. All the world will denounce the SONY.
Following the most recent threat, a source at Sony told Deadline that the studio is ''leaving it up to the discretion of the theater owners and chains'' as to whether or not they'll carry The Interview. Meanwhile, late Tuesday evening, Landmark Theatres announced it was canceling Thursday night's planned New York premiere of the film, which was scheduled for the Landmark Sunshine Cinema, and Carmike Cinemas, which operates 278 movie theaters in 41 states, announced it was pulling The Interview as well.
A series of leaked emails reveal that Sony enlisted the services of Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation who specializes in North Korea, to consult with them on The Interview. After he saw the film, including the gruesome ending where a giant missile hits Kim Jong-Un's helicopter in slow-mo as Katy Perry's ''Firework'' plays, and Kim's head catches on fire and explodes, Bennett gave his assessment of it in a June 25 email to Lynton, just five days after North Korea's initial threat.
READ MORE: Sony Hack Reveals Jennifer Lawrence Is Paid Less Than Her Male Co-Stars
''The North has never executed an artillery attack against the balloon launching areas. So it is very hard to tell what is pure bluster from North Korea, since they use the term 'act of war' so commonly,'' wrote Bennett. ''I also thought a bunch more about the ending. I have to admit that the only resolution I can see to the North Korean nuclear and other threats is for the North Korean regime to eventually go away.''
He added, ''In fact, when I have briefed my book on 'preparing for the possibility of a North Korean collapse' [Sept 2013], I have been clear that the assassination of Kim Jong-Un is the most likely path to a collapse of the North Korean government. Thus while toning down the ending may reduce the North Korean response, I believe that a story that talks about the removal of the Kim family regime and the creation of a new government by the North Korean people (well, at least the elites) will start some real thinking in South Korea and, I believe, in the North once the DVD leaks into the North (which it almost certainly will). So from a personal perspective, I would personally prefer to leave the ending alone.''
That same day, Lynton responded saying that a U.S. government official completely backed Bennett's assessment of the film.
''Bruce '' Spoke to someone very senior in State (confidentially),'' wrote Lynton. ''He agreed with everything you have been saying. Everything. I will fill you in when we speak.''
The following day, June 26, an email from Bennett to Lynton'--as well as several other forwarded emails'--revealed that Robert King, U.S. special envoy for North Korean human-rights issues, was helping to consult on the film as well through Bennett and addressed the June 20 threat by North Korea.
''Michael, '¨I talked with Amb. King a few minutes ago,'' wrote Bennett. ''Their office has apparently decided that this is typical North Korean bullying, likely without follow-up, but you never know with North Korea. Thus, he did not appear worried and clearly wanted to leave any decisions up to Sony.''
(A spokesman for the U.S. State Department later admitted that Daniel Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, had a conversation with Sony executives but vaguely denied having any direct influence on the creative direction of The Interview.)
Still, Sony executives felt nervous about not only the film, but also the scene depicting the murder of Kim Jong-Un. An email dated June 20 from Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, sent to Vice-Chairman of Sony Pictures Jeff Black said, ''we need sonys name off this asap everywhere,'' asking to remove the name ''Sony'' from all of the film's promotional materials and package it as a Columbia Pictures release (a subsidiary of SPE). Then, a July 9 email from Lynton to Pascal expressed the company's desire to not show the DPRK leader die.
''Yeah we cannot be cute here,'' wrote Lynton. ''What we really want is no melting face and actually not seeing him die. A look of horror as the fire approaches is probably what we need.''
Kaz Hirai, CEO of the studio's parent corporation, also expressed his concerns over the death scene, igniting a lengthy email debate between Pascal and Rogen about the ending. On Aug. 14, an email from Pascal to Lynton seemed to express the execs' frustrations with how things were going.
''Are you having a nice holiday?'' Pascal wrote to Lynton. ''Just arrived in Bali. Seth rogan [sic] is driving me nuts.''
Lynton replied, ''Yeah. Heard all about it. Feels like he will drive you nuts for awhile.''
''Till December,'' Pascal wrote back.
READ MORE: Shocking New Reveals From Sony Hack: J. Law, Pitt, Clooney, and Star Wars
On Sept. 25, Sony seemed to be winning the creative battle against Rogen and The Interview crew. In an email to Pascal, Rogen wrote, ''We will make it less gory. There are currently four burn marks on his face. We will take out three of them, leaving only one. We reduce the flaming hair by 50%'... The head explosion can't be more obscured than it is because we honestly feel that if it's any more obscured you won't be able to tell its exploding and the joke won't work. Do you think this will help? Is it enough?''
The studio seemed to be satisfied with the results'--although still opted to censor the death sequence in many foreign territories.
Rogen recently addressed the hacking situation in an interview with The New York Times, saying, ''No one has officially told me our movie, 100 percent, has proven to be the cause of any of this stuff. We're not the first people to shed light on how crazy North Korea is, the myths that exist there and the oddities of the regime.''
The Interview is still scheduled to hit U.S. theaters on Dec. 25'... although that may change in the coming days.
PIPELINE-Vladimir Putin invites Kim Jong-un to Moscow | World news | The Guardian
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 05:02
Kim Jong-un will visit Vladimir Putin in Moscow next year to mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany. AP Photograph: AP
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has invited the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, to Moscow next year to mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany in the second world war, the Kremlin's spokesman said on Friday.
It would be Kim's first foreign visit since taking the helm of the reclusive east Asian state in 2011. His personal envoy travelled to Moscow last month as part of efforts by the two Cold War-era allies to improve relations.
''Yes, such an invitation was sent,'' a Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told the state news agency, Tass. Russia marks the former Soviet Union's 1945 victory every year on 9 May.
Moscow needs North Korean cooperation to boost its natural gas exports to South Korea as Gazprom would like to build a gas pipeline through North Korea to reach its southern neighbour.
Pyongyang is also seeking support from Russia, a permanent veto-wielding member of the UN security council, against international criticism relating to accusations of human rights abuses and its nuclear programme.
A UN committee passed a resolution last month calling for the security council to consider referring North Korea to the international criminal court for alleged crimes against humanity.
The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has also said North Korea is ready to resume the stalled international talks on its nuclear programme.
North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States began talks in 2003 to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons, but they were suspended after Pyongyang tested nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009.
The Interview Is "Desperately Unfunny", "Will Flop" If Not Cancelled According To Leaked Sony Emails | Zero Hedge
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 05:11
The conspiracy theories surrounding the story of The Interview's cancellation in the aftermath of the North Korean "hacking" just keep getting stranger by the day, (and will, in 6-9, months lead to the blockbuster drama: "How 'The Interview' Got Cancelled")
First, as we previously reported, at the same time as the NYT reported that according to the US the hack "undisputedly" originated in North Korea, Wired magazine released an article explaining why it is impossible to make such a determination (see Someone is Lying). That, however, did not stop the US on its inexplicable witch hunt, and moments ago Reuters reported that according to the US, it was indeed North Korea who was responsible for the hacks (although, the report adds, North Korea may have had a little help from China so nobody really know but whatever). From Reuters:
A U.S. investigation into the hack of Sony's computer system has determined that North Korea was behind the operation with a possible Chinese link, a U.S. official said on Friday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the conclusion was to be announced later by federal authorities.
The probe into the hack found North Korea was behind it and that there may be a Chinese link either through collaboration with Chinese actors or by using Chinese servers to mask the origination of the hack, the official said.
So far so good: hardly anyone would expect more, or less, from the country that invaded Iraq due to imaginary WMDs and almost launched a war against Syria based on a doctored YouTube clip.
Where it gets downright bizarre, however, is that as Reuters also reported earlier citing leaked emails of international Sony Pictures executive, the infamous movie in question "is "desperately unfunny" and would have flopped overseas if it had not been canceled."
Wait a minute, it sounds almost as if the evil North Korean "hackers" did Sony... a favor?
It sure does. Here is more from Reuters:
... even before the cancellation of the film, Sony executives responsible for the international release of the movie were concerned the action-comedy featuring Hollywood stars Seth Rogen and James Franco would not translate to a foreign audience, the leaked e-mails show.
Reuters has not been able to verify the authenticity of the documents, although Sony has confirmed that at least some are authentic.
"The unanimous point of view here is that this (is) another misfire from the pairing," said an e-mail purportedly written by Peter Taylor, of Sony Pictures UK.
Actually judging by outside reviews it would have most certainly been a bomb, pun intended, in the US as well:
Taylor said the film was "desperately unfunny and repetitive," and "James Franco proves once again that irritation is his strong suit which is a shame because the character could have been appealing and funny out of his hands."
Taylor and other executives agreed that the first half hour of the film, which features a satirical interview with hip-hop artist Eminem, was amusing but was later overshadowed by "realistic violence that would be shocking in a horror movie".
Staff in Holland said the film was "unbalanced," and a French executive said the film went too far. "Seth Rogen's humor doesn't really translate," the executive said.
South Korean colleagues raised concerns over the potential political issues and inaccuracies in the North Korean accents used in the film, and said the leading actors were "weak".
Sony staff in Taiwan said the film "didn't stand a chance" in their market, according to the e-mails. Australian executives, however, enjoyed the film and requested lead actor Franco lead a promotional tour of the country.
British executives were less enthusiastic. "Tour-wise, our choice would be to have no one. However if this is not an option (and I suspect it isn't) then we would like the lot," Taylor said. "Not just Rogen and (writer Evan) Goldberg, but God help us Franco as well."
Ok great, it would have flopped, but as Chris Rock said, at least the American public would want "to CHOOSE" not to see the movie (or not as likely would be the case).
And now, due to what appears the most convoluted false flag affair in US history, it may be time to nuke North Korea for depriving the US public from its god-given right of seeing straight-to-DVD flops.
Average:Your rating: NoneAverage: 4.9(18 votes)
Former Employees Are Suing Sony Over 'Epic Nightmare' Hack | WIRED
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 03:14
The plot of the Sony hack drama has taken a new turn.
Two former employees of Sony Pictures Entertainment filed a class-action lawsuit against the studio giant on Monday for failing to properly secure sensitive employee data.
The recent widespread breach of Sony has resulted in the theft and release of documents exposing Social Security numbers and birth dates of employees as well as information about medical conditions. The workers say the company had not only a duty to protect their data but a strict legal responsibility to secure medical information under California law.
Calling the breach an ''epic nightmare, much better suited to a cinematic thriller than real life,'' the plaintiffs also say that Sony failed to adequately notify former workers who may have been affected by the breach.
''Put simply, Sony knew about the risks it took with its past and current employees' data,'' the plaintiffs wrote in their suit. ''Sony gambled, and its employees'--past and current'--lost.''
The two plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Michael Corona and Christina Mathis, worked at Sony from 2004 to 2007 and from 2000 to 2002 respectively. Both say their Social Security numbers were leaked, and Corona says his salary history and reason for resigning were also exposed.
Sony has been hacked before, which could help bolster the plaintiffs' claims about lax security. In 2011, members of Anonymous and LulzSec tore through the company's networks'--first going after its PlayStation Network, where they stole data pertaining to more than 75 million customers. A second breach at Sony Online Entertainment compromised an additional 25 million customers. Sony Pictures and Sony BMG were also struck. Those breaches affected customers, not employees, but they work in the plaintiffs' favor to show that Sony might have had ongoing security problems that it failed to fix.
Internal Sony documents leaked by the hackers in the current breach indicate that Sony's security was still lax despite previous hacks. The leaks include data sheets listing servers holding unencrypted Social Security numbers and passwords for employees and others, as well as emails discussing a breach the company had in February that may or may not have been part of the wider breach exposed last month.
Sony breached its duty, according to the lawsuit by ''failing to design and implement appropriate firewalls and computer systems, failing to properly and adequately encrypt data, losing control of and failing to timely re-gain control over Sony Network's cryptographic keys, and improperly storing and retaining Plaintiffs' and the other Class members' [personally identifiable information] on its inadequately protected Network.''
Breach Lawsuits Rarely SucceedIt's not unusual for companies that suffer breaches, like Sony and Target, to find themselves besieged by lawsuits, but ones filed by the individuals whose personal data is stolen rarely succeed. Generally these lawsuits have involved stolen credit cards that could result in fraudulent charges or the theft of personal information that puts the person at risk of identity theft, and courts have thrown out the suits for lack of standing. With banks assuming liability for fraudulent charges made to stolen bank card accounts, victims don't have any damages they need to recover, and unless there is actual proof of identity theft, the mere potential for harm has been insufficient in most cases to successfully sue.
There's an exception to this, however, that could help give the Sony lawsuit legs: a recent class-action suit around a breach at Adobe could prove useful for the Sony plaintiffs. In the Adobe case, a California court declined to throw out the suit, saying the plaintiffs had standing because they suffered an impending threat of harm, not merely the potential for harm, because their data had been posted online for anyone to grab and use.
''The [Adobe] case signals that the courts are ready to start '... recognizing new types of harm that security breaches and inadequate security measures cause or trigger,'' says Princeton law professor Andrea Matwyshyn. ''We're seeing courts more willing to entertain these kinds of lawsuits because the problems are real'--particularly if you have evidence of a history of known security flaws that went unfixed a court would be more likely to consider a suit by employees or other harmed parties.''
Sony employees and former employees could argue they also suffer an impending threat, since their sensitive data has already been publicly released by the hackers. They would still have an uphill battle to prove harm, if they want damages, but it would provide them with an opportunity for discovery, which could further expose Sony's bad security practices to the public.
''Sony gambled, and its employees'--past and current'--lost.''
But the Sony case may also have staying power that other cases have lacked because employers have a duty of care for their employees that goes beyond their duty to customers, Matwyshyn says.
''This is untested territory,'' says Matwyshyn, a professor with Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy, ''but employers are held to a higher standard of care with respect to the safety of their employees. Employers, for example, are responsible for providing a safe work environment of their employees and there are OSHA rules around the physical safety of employees. So it is arguably a natural extension that heightened levels of care would also extend to data management questions because of that trusted relationship.''
She's not aware of other lawsuits involving public companies that are similar to the Sony case, saying this is a new area of litigation that is bound to grow, particularly as the kinds of records stolen change. Although Social Security numbers and financial records of employees are sensitive, the medical information involved in the Sony breach raises new questions that could affect other companies involved in breaches, she says. Sony is not a health-care facility or so-called ''covered'' entity as it's defined under the federal statute HIPAA, and therefore is not subject to the same requirements for securing medical data that governs hospitals and doctors under that law, says Matwyshyn. But California has a medical records protection law that requires employers to secure employee medical records that would cover Sony. And, as an international company, Sony could also face problems in Europe where data-protection laws can be fierce.
Matwyshyn notes, also, that employees might not be Sony's only worry when it comes to litigation over its breach. Other suits could follow from Sony business partners, shareholders, celebrities and others if they claim the release of emails exposing sensitive information about business deals and private matters caused them harm.
''We're seeing the first traction of these types of embedded business relationships giving rise to data-breach litigation,'' she says. ''This will continue and that is the sort of situation that might have life [in a court].''
Sony could also face trouble with the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive trade practices, notes Brian Hall, a partner in the labor and employment department of the PorterWright law firm in Ohio. In 2012, the FTC filed a complaint against Wyndham Hotels for failing to protect consumer information.
If the FTC does get involved, it would put Sony's security practices under heavy scrutiny. ''They're definitely going to start looking at Sony's data security [practices]'' if that's the case, says Hall.
Shocking: Sony Learned No Password Lessons After The 2011 PSN Hack | Techdirt
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 03:13
The great Sony hack of 2014: what's it all about? Is it a subversive plot by North Koreans operating out of China in revenge for a film starring two guys from Freaks and Geeks? Or maybe it's simply fodder for stupid politicians to remind us that all the world's ills could be cured if only internet service providers took on the challenge of fixing all the things in all the places? No, my dear friends, no. The Sony hack of 2014 is a beautiful Christmas gift (your religious holiday may vary) of a wake-up call to anyone silly enough to think that Sony would bother to learn the lessons very recent history has tried to teach it.
To prove this, one need only review the latest file dump in the leak, which features the wonderful naivete of whatever bright minds are in charge of Sony's internal password conventions and storage policies.
In a small file titled "Bonus.rar," hackers included a folder named "Password." It's exactly what it sounds like: 140 files containing thousands upon thousands of private passwords, virtually all of them stored in plaintext documents without protection of any kind. Some seem personal in nature ("karrie's Passwords.xls") while others are wider in scope ("YouTube login passwords.xls"). Many are tied to financial accounts like American Express, while others provide access to corporate voicemail accounts or internal servers, and come conveniently paired with full names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails.
In case you're unfamiliar with the hack against Sony's Playstation Network a mere three years ago, the problem was -- you guessed it -- the exact same thing. In that case, the hack produced customer names, addresses, emails and login/password information because that information was stored in plain text, contrary to the advice of every competent network security person on the planet. Take, for instance, one security researcher quoted in the link above:
Passwords in plaintext? These guys are pretty bad - I don't think I've ever encountered this before. What's the point of using common password storage/hashing techniques if your staff is keeping all your passwords in plain text on open fileshares? Shit, why bother having locks on the doors at all?
The worst of all the problem's this hack revealed is that this question should have been answered in the wake of the events of three years ago. It's one thing to screw up. It's quite another to screw up in a manner that went public in a spectacular way and simply refuse to take measures to ensure it doesn't happen again. But that's Sony for you: long live plain text.
56 total SONY hacks in 12 years
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 03:13
Over the last two months, the multi-national Sony Corporation has come under a wide range of attacks from an even wider range of attackers. The backstory about what event prompted who to attack and why will make a mediocre made-for-TV movie someday. This article is not going to cover the brief history of hacks; readers can find details elsewhere. Instead, the following only serves to create an accurate and comprehensive timeline regarding the recent breaches, a cliff notes summary for easy reference.
Other than Steve Ragan and The Tech Herald, most recent articles about Sony make vague references to ongoing problems, but do not enumerate the full history. This is likely because the past events, while only 45 days old at most, are convoluted and confusing. The table below should serve to fix that, hopefully giving journalists and security professionals a concrete and clear history.
One thing should be noted; the attacks against Sony are not coordinated, nor are they advanced. Sony has demonstrated they have not implemented what any rational administrator or security professional would consider "the absolute basics". Storing millions of customer's personal details and passwords without using any form of encryption is reckless and ridiculous. Even security books from the '80s were adamant about encrypting passwords at the very least. Several of Sony's sites have been compromised as a result of basic SQL injection attacks, nothing elaborate or complex.
If anyone... ANYONE at all uses the term "advanced persistent threat" in describing the attacks on Sony, please hit them very hard before disregarding them as ignorant charlatans hell-bent on serving their own interests. Given the wide variety of attackers (see below), the attacks on Sony can only be described as an uncoordinated effort at best.
That said, welcome to the recently coined term, "Sownage". The state of being thoroughly "owned like Sony is".
IncidentDateSiteStockWho (allegedly)Observation2011-04-04Anonymous Engages in Sony DDoS Attacks Over GeoHot PS3 Lawsuit31.45The group Anonymous declares Sony an enemy and begins a DDoS attack against PSN over the 'GeoHot' lawsuit filed earlier in the year.2011-04-20Sony PSN Offline30.14PSN taken offline by Sony due to hack.Network World has a timeline of events related to PSN.2011-04-26PSN Outage caused by Rebug Firmware29.79Sony drops PSN Network due to problems with the 'REBUG' firmware allowing developer access, and rumors of widespread piracy. Initial speculation said the outage was the result of a second DDoS attack by Anonymous. They denied it in a press release saying "for once we didn't do it".12011-04-26PlayStation Network (PSN) Hacked29.79Anonymous (?)Sony admits attack took place between April 17 and 19, but did not disclose until around the 26th. Anonymous blamed by Sony initially, but denies involvement in hack.Records breached: 77 million names, addresses, email addresses, birthdates, PlayStation Network/Qriocity passwords and logins, handle/PSN online ID, profile data, purchase history and possibly credit cards obtained (DatalossDB Entry)2011-04-27Ars readers report credit card fraud, blame Sony29.032011-04-28Sony PSN hack triggers lawsuitSony says SOE Customer Data Safe28.3922011-05-02Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) hackedSOE Network Taken Offline28.80(unknown)Sony Press Release.Records breached: 24.6 million customer dates of birth, email addresses and phone numbers, including 12,700 non-U.S. credit or debit card numbers and expiration dates and about 10,700 direct debit records including bank account numbers (DatalossDB Entry)2011-05-03Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) issues breach notification letter28.442011-05-05Sony Brings In Forensic Experts On Data Breaches27.98"Data Forte, Guidance Software, and Protiviti will investigate who hacked into Sony's servers and how they cracked the company's defenses."2011-05-06Sony Networks Lacked Firewall, Ran Obsolete Software: Testimony28.06Gene Spafford wrote an article describing his testimony, and how many media outlets misquoted him.32011-05-07Sony succumbs to another hack leaking 2,500 "old records"n/aSonyNote: This information was available via a Sony website and indexed by Google. This was not a "hack" by any means. File originally found at (now offline)Records Breached: 2,500 names and partial addresses of 2001 Sony sweepstakes2011-05-12Lawyers take aim at Sony hack, may miss on payout28.232011-05-14Sony resuming PlayStation Network, Qriocity servicesn/aAll SOE games/services were down for a total of 24 days.42011-05-17PSN Accounts still subject to a vulnerability28.07unknownWith this vulnerability, an attacker has the ability to change a user's password using only their account's email and date of birth. Rumors suggest it was being exploited by bad guys.TNW article titled "Not so fast: Sony's PlayStation Network hacked again" is misleading.Sony blog on incident (vulnerability fixed)2011-05-18Prolexic rumored to consult with Sony on security27.80"got a call from a recruiter who swore some company called prolexic was hired to protect Sony from Anonymous"Update: Prolexic did provide services to Sony, but only for DDoS mitigation.52011-05-20Phishing site found on a Sony server27.05unknown(additional article)62011-05-21Hack on Sony-owned ISP steals $1,220 in virtual cash (So-net Entertainment Corp)n/aunknown(additional article)Records Breached: e-mail and virtual currency of 128 accounts72011-05-21Sony Music Indonesia Defaced By k4L0ng666n/ak4L0ng666No evidence of personal information being compromised.82011-05-22Sony BMG Greece the latest hacked Sony siten/ab4d_viperaApparently done via SQL Injection. Pastebin dumpRecords Breached: 8,500 usernames, email addresses, phone numbers and password hashes (DatalossDB Entry)92011-05-23LulzSec leak Sony's Japanese Websites26.59LulzSecSQL Injection in (article)Sophos says databases do "not contain names, passwords or other personally identifiable information"2011-05-23Sony forecasts a $3.1B loss for FY 2011 due to quake, PSN failurePSN breach and restoration to cost $171M, Sony estimates26.59102011-05-24Sony says hacker stole 2,000 records from Canadian site (Sony Erricson)27.90IdahcSony Ericsson Got Hacked by Idahc - Lebanese hacker via SQL InjectionIdahc dumped 1,000 of the cords to (since removed)Records Breached: Email addresses, passwords and names of 2,000 users (DatalossDB Entry)2011-05-25Sony Begins Providing ID Theft Protection for PlayStation Hack27.65112011-06-02LulzSec versus Sony Pictures26.54LulzSecSophos says 4.5 million records exposed. LulzSec initially thought to target the elderly, but clarify they dumped the database by DoB and stopped at 1943.Lulz? Sony hackers deny responsibility for misuse of leaked dataRecords breached: Over 1,000,000 users' passwords, email addresses, home addresses, dates of birth, as well as administrator login passwords. Information taken from AutoTrader users database, Summer of Restless Beauty users database, Sony Wonder coupons database, Sony Wonder music codes database, Seinfeld Del Boca Vista database (DatalossDB Entry)122011-06-02Sony BMG Belgium ( database exposed26.54LulzSecRecords Breached: Email addresses, usernames, cleartext passwords, internal release dates of records, sales reports (DatalossDB Entry)132011-06-02Sony BMG Netherlands ( database exposed26.54LulzSecRecords Breached: Usernames, cleartext passwords2011-06-02Sony, Epsilon Testify Before Congress26.54Tim Schaaff, President of Sony Network Entertainment International Witness Testimony (PDF)"Sony Network Entertainment and Sony Online Entertainment have always made concerted and substantial efforts to maintain and improve their data security systems."142011-06-03Sony Europe database leaked26.38IdahcDump of the database via SQL InjectionRecords Breached: 120 names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses (DatalossDB Entry)2011-06-05Latest Hack Shows Sony Didn't Plug Holes"Group members said their motivation was to show Sony execs weren't telling the truth when they tried to reassure customers they had revamped security to prevent the simple, almost identical exploits that allowed a range of hackers to take over one of its networks after another beginning in mid-April."152011-06-05Sony Pictures Russia ( databases leakedunknownAnother SQL injection attack. @LulzSec confirms they did not find it.Records Breached: all (?) databases of Sony Pictures Russia2011-06-06LulzSec member arrestedBased on a post to Full-Disclosure, rumors that a member of LulzSec was arrested circulated widely. This news was included in several articles that did not validate the information. LulzSec issued a statement saying the news was wrong, and that "ev0" was not a member of the group. Arik Hesseldahl actually contacted a source at the FBI to confirm this and covered the details in an article.162011-06-06LulzSec Hackers Post Sony Computer Entertainment Developer Network (SCE Devnet)25.76LulzSec(additional article #1), (additional article #2), LulzSec "press release" on incidentData Leaked: 54meg torrent of Sony Computer Entertainment Developer Network (SCE Devnet) source code172011-06-06LulzSec hits Sony BMG, leaks internal network maps>25.76LulzSecWhile @LulzSec released the data in one torrent, the group confirmed the BMG maps did not come from SCE Devnet (tweet since deleted), making this a distinct and separate compromise.Data Leaked: Sony BMG internal network maps182011-06-08Sony Portugal latest to fall to hackers25.25IdahcDump of the database. Idahc says he found SQL injection, cross-site scripting (XSS) and Iframe injection vulnerabilities in the site.Records Breached: Customer e-mail addresses (DatalossDB Entry)192011-06-08Spoofing lead to fraud via shopping coupons at Sonisutoa / My Sony Club (Google Translation)25.25unknownThrough "spoofing", an attacker used 95 accounts to exchange online shopping coupons worth 278,000 points at Sonisutoa (My Sony Club), defrauding Sony of ~ 280,000 yen (~ US$3,500). Sony cannot confirm if e-mail addresses or passwords were leaked.2011-06-11Spain Arrests 3 Suspects in Sony Hacking CaseFrom the article: "According to a police statement, the suspects are part of Anonymous.."202011-06-20SQLI on sonypictures.fr24.28Idahc and Auth3ntiqSQL injection reveals hashed passwords and e-mail addresses. Idahc announced the day before that the site was vulnerable.Records Breached: 177,172 e-mail addresses (DatalossDB Entry)2011-06-23Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Sony/SCEASuit alleges Sony fired employees in network security weeks before breach2011-06-28Sony CEO asked to step down on heels of hacking fiasco25.42".. the CEO sidestepped the request and instead pointed out that Sony is hardly the only company to face this kind of cyber assault."212011-07-06Hackers posts fake celebrity stories on Sony (Ireland) defaced to include the fake stories.2011-10-12Sony Press Release: 93,000 PSN Account Passwords Compromised20.06Note: The attack was performed using brute force guessing of accounts. The problem was due to customers using weak passwords. It could be argued that Sony should enforce a stronger password policy.Given the recent testimony from Tim Schaaff, President of Sony Network Entertainment International, one may be led to believe that Sony has been proactive in their digital security. Schaaff told the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, part of the House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee, that "Sony Network Entertainment and Sony Online Entertainment have always made concerted and substantial efforts to maintain and improve their data security systems." Looking at a brief, and very likely incomplete, history of Sony's hacking problems, this statement seems absurd.
Schaaff goes on to say "The attack on us was, we believe, unprecedented in its size and scope." With the string of recent high-profile attacks against Lockheed Martin, RSA Security, and HBGary Federal (by the same group allegedly involved in the Sony PSN hack), this comment seems disingenuous. Further, between 2001-02-05 and 2001-05-05, Sony was attacked and compromised 11 times. While this is a slightly bigger time frame than the recent activity (2011-04-17 to 2011-06-02), given the first run was in 2001 and attacks were arguably less frequent (while defacements were considered high profile and got a lot of attention), can Sony really back up this comment?
Note: This list is likely incomplete, and just represents a quick search of past Sony activity related to the insecurity of their networks. Events involving vulnerable Sony software or the manyrootkit fiascos are not included.
Jun 4 Update: Elinor Mills pointed out the 06/03 Europe database eventJun 4 Update: Kane Lightowler sent 20 legacy eventsJun 4 Update: Gene Spafford sent a link to his blog about his testimonyJun 4 Update: Several pointed out Sony rootkit drama. Updated note disclaiming scope of legacy tableJun 4 Update: @pctservices01 provided link about PS3 Hackers UnbanningJun 4 Update: Tuna informs me that Prolexic provided DDoS mitigation services onlyJun 5 Update: Peter Downey provided link about PS3 Hackers / Modern Warfare 2Jun 5 Update: Added SNE closing stock price for the day of each incident. Idea courtesy Ryan RussellJun 5 Update: @LulzSec points out two missing compromises on Jun 6Jun 5 Update: Sony Music Brazil defacement confirmed as happening ~ 2010-11-12, and remains unfixed since (thanks Kane Lightowler)Jun 6 Update: Added Network World's timeline for the PSN breachJun 6 Update: Added confirmation to Sony Russia, that @LulzSec was not responsibleJun 6 Update: Added clarification about LulzSec targeting elderly to 6/2 Sony Pictures incidentJun 6 Update: Added entry to cover the supposed news of a LulzSec member being arrestedJun 9 Update: Added link to DatalossDB for #14Jun 9 Update: Thanks to @MasafumiNegishi and @superspryte for translation helpJun 12 Update: Added original DDoS and REBUG links. Thanks Laurens Vets for REBUG info.Jun 18 Update: sent us a copy of their defacement mirror from ~ 2001. Updated the legacy list to include a lot of defacementsDec 8 2014 Update: Added new huge Sony Pictures breach as separate table, since three years later
Sony Fires Back at Obama: "We Had No Choice" But to Cancel 'The Interview' Release - The Hollywood Reporter
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 03:07
After President Obama criticized Sony for its decision to cancel The Interview's release after theater chains decided not to show the film, the studio has issued a statement elaborating on the move.
"The decision not to move forward with the December 25 theatrical release of The Interview was made as a result of the majority of the nation's theater owners choosing not to screen the film," the statement said. "This was their decision."
A source tells The Hollywood Reporter that Sony was surprised by the president's comments and did, in fact, have many conversations with the White House both before and after the movie was pulled Wednesday. That would fly in the face of President Obama's claim that the studio never approached him for advice on how to handle the threats of violence that invoked the 9/11 terror attacks. Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Michael Lynton taped an interview with CNN on Friday, and part of it was aired that reaffirmed the studio had been in contact with the White House.
"We definitely spoke to senior advisers or a senior adviser in the White House to discuss the situation," Lynton saidin the interview with CNN, adding that although he didn't directly talk to President Obama himself, "the White House was certainly aware of the situation."
During his press conference Friday, the president said he wished the studio would have "spoken to me first. I would have told them 'Do not get into a pattern in which you are intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks.' " The source insists to THR that the studio engaged in multiple conversations with the White House; however, they were not directly with the president but were with his staff.
In the press conference, Obama had sharp words for the studio. "Sony is a corporation. It suffered significant damage. There were threats against its employees. I am sympathetic to the concerns that they faced. Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake," the president said.
Read moreObama: Sony "Made a Mistake" Canceling 'The Interview' Release
The FBI confirmed earlier in the day the link between the hacking group that calls itself Guardians of Peace and the North Korean regime. The "North Korean government is responsible for these actions," the agency said of the attack, which was first noticed by the studio Nov. 24 but was likely carried out well before.
Salaries, personal data, movie budgets and more than 12,000 messages from Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal's email inbox were leaked.
Prior to the release of Seth Rogen and James Franco's The Interview, which featured the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, hackers sent threatening messages to Sony invoking the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Sony allowed theater chains to make the decision to show the film or not, and major theater chains decided against showing the film.
Sony's full statement reads:
Sony Pictures Entertainment is and always has been strongly committed to the First Amendment. For more than three weeks, despite brutal intrusions into our company and our employees' personal lives, we maintained our focus on one goal: getting the film The Interview released. Free expression should never be suppressed by threats and extortion.
The decision not to move forward with the December 25 theatrical release of The Interview was made as a result of the majority of the nation's theater owners choosing not to screen the film. This was their decision.
Let us be clear '-- the only decision that we have made with respect to release of the film was not to release it on Christmas Day in theaters, after the theater owners declined to show it. Without theaters, we could not release it in the theaters on Christmas Day. We had no choice.
After that decision, we immediately began actively surveying alternatives to enable us to release the movie on a different platform. It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so.
Sony Hack: North Korea Proposes Joint Investigation - The Hollywood Reporter
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 03:06
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) '-- North Korea on Saturday proposed a joint investigation with the U.S. into the hacking attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, warning of "serious" consequences if Washington rejects a probe that it believes would prove Pyongyang had nothing to do with the cyberattack.
The proposal was seen by analysts as a typical ploy by the North to try to show that it is sincere, even though it knows the U.S. would never accept its offer for a joint investigation.
Read more Chinese Newspaper: 'The Interview' Shows Hollywood's "Senseless Cultural Arrogance"
U.S. officials blame North Korea for the hacking, citing the tools used in the Sony attack and previous hacks linked to the North, and have vowed to respond. The break-in resulted in the disclosure of tens of thousands of confidential Sony emails and business files, and escalated to threats of terror attacks against U.S. movie theaters that caused Sony to cancel the Christmas Day release of The Interview, a comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
On Saturday, an unidentified North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman in Pyongyang proposed the joint investigation with the U.S., saying the North knows how to prove it's not responsible for the hacking. He also said Washington was slandering Pyongyang by spreading unfounded rumors.
"The U.S. should bear in mind that it will face serious consequences in case it rejects our proposal for joint investigation and presses for what it called countermeasures while finding fault with" North Korea, the spokesman said in a statement carried by Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA.
"We have a way to prove that we have nothing to do with the case without resorting to torture, as the CIA does," he said, adding that the U.S. lacks any specific evidence tying North Korea to the hacking.
The White House had no immediate comment Saturday.
Koh Yu-hwan, a professor at Seoul's Dongguk University, called the North's proposal a "typical" tactic the country has taken in similar disputes with rival countries. In 2010, North Korea proposed a joint investigation after a South Korean-led international team concluded that the North was behind a torpedo attack that killed 46 South Korean sailors, though Pyongyang denied its involvement. South Korea rejected the North's offer for the joint probe.
"They are now talking about a joint investigation because they think there is no conclusive evidence," Koh said. "But the U.S. won't accede to a joint investigation for the crime."
Read moreSony Hit With Fourth and Fifth Class-Action Lawsuits Over Stolen Data (Exclusive)
On Friday, President Barack Obama declared that Sony "made a mistake" in shelving the satirical film about a plot to assassinate the North Korean leader, and pledged that the U.S. would respond "in a place and manner and time that we choose" to the hacking attack on Sony that led to the movie's withdrawal.
"I wish they had spoken to me first. ... We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship," Obama said at a year-end news conference, speaking of executives at Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Sony said it had had no choice but to cancel distribution of the movie because theaters were refusing to show it.
U.S. options for acting against North Korea are limited. The U.S. already has severe trade sanctions in place, and there is no appetite for military action. Even if investigators could identify and prosecute the individual hackers believed responsible, there's no guarantee that any located are overseas would ever see a U.S. courtroom. Hacking back at North Korean targets by U.S. government experts could encourage further attacks against American targets.
North Korea and the U.S. remain in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. The rivals also are locked in an international standoff over the North's nuclear and missile programs and its alleged human rights abuses.
Earlier Saturday, North Korea angrily denounced a move by the United Nations to bring its human rights record before the Security Council and renewed its threat to further bolster its nuclear deterrent against what it called a hostile policy by the U.S. to topple its ruling regime.
Pyongyang "vehemently and categorically rejects" the resolution passed by the U.N. General Assembly that could open the door for its leaders, including Kim Jong Un, to be hauled before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, according to a Foreign Ministry statement carried by KCNA.
The Security Council is due to meet Monday to discuss Pyongyang's human rights situation for the first time.
The meeting caps almost a year of international pressure, and even though ally China could use its veto power to block any action against the North, the nonbinding resolution has broad support in the General Assembly and has drawn unusually strong and vitriolic protests from Pyongyang.
Sony Hackers Appear to Mock FBI in Latest Message - The Hollywood Reporter
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 03:06
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Well here we are'... It's the beginning of the cyber wars my friends. POTUS came out on stage and said that we would have a ''proportionate response'' to the hacking of Sony and that in fact the US believes that it was in fact Kim Jong Un who was behind this whole thing. Yup, time to muster the cyber troops and attack their infrastructure!
So yeah, let's take a step back here and ponder the FBI statement today on colonel mustard in the study with the laptop before we go PEW PEW PEW ok?
FBI Statement:Today, the FBI would like to provide an update on the status of our investigation into the cyber attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE). In late November, SPE confirmed that it was the victim of a cyber attack that destroyed systems and stole large quantities of personal and commercial data. A group calling itself the ''Guardians of Peace'' claimed responsibility for the attack and subsequently issued threats against SPE, its employees, and theaters that distribute its movies.
The FBI has determined that the intrusion into SPE's network consisted of the deployment of destructive malware and the theft of proprietary information as well as employees' personally identifiable information and confidential communications. The attacks also rendered thousands of SPE's computers inoperable, forced SPE to take its entire computer network offline, and significantly disrupted the company's business operations.
After discovering the intrusion into its network, SPE requested the FBI's assistance. Since then, the FBI has been working closely with the company throughout the investigation. Sony has been a great partner in the investigation, and continues to work closely with the FBI. Sony reported this incident within hours, which is what the FBI hopes all companies will do when facing a cyber attack. Sony's quick reporting facilitated the investigators' ability to do their jobs, and ultimately to identify the source of these attacks.
As a result of our investigation, and in close collaboration with other U.S. government departments and agencies, the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions. While the need to protect sensitive sources and methods precludes us from sharing all of this information, our conclusion is based, in part, on the following:
Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed. For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks.The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. government has previously linked directly to North Korea. For example, the FBI discovered that several Internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with known North Korean infrastructure communicated with IP addresses that were hardcoded into the data deletion malware used in this attack.Separately, the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyber attack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.We are deeply concerned about the destructive nature of this attack on a private sector entity and the ordinary citizens who worked there. Further, North Korea's attack on SPE reaffirms that cyber threats pose one of the gravest national security dangers to the United States. Though the FBI has seen a wide variety and increasing number of cyber intrusions, the destructive nature of this attack, coupled with its coercive nature, sets it apart. North Korea's actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves. Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior. The FBI takes seriously any attempt'--whether through cyber-enabled means, threats of violence, or otherwise'--to undermine the economic and social prosperity of our citizens.
The FBI stands ready to assist any U.S. company that is the victim of a destructive cyber attack or breach of confidential business information. Further, the FBI will continue to work closely with multiple departments and agencies as well as with domestic, foreign, and private sector partners who have played a critical role in our ability to trace this and other cyber threats to their source. Working together, the FBI will identify, pursue, and impose costs and consequences on individuals, groups, or nation states who use cyber means to threaten the United States or U.S. interests.
Parsing the language:Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed. For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks.The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. government has previously linked directly to North Korea. For example, the FBI discovered that several Internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with known North Korean infrastructure communicated with IP addresses that were hardcoded into the data deletion malware used in this attack.Separately, the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyber attack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.The language of this report is loose and very much like an FBI statement would be when they are not so sure. Remember that the FBI did not originally link all of this to DPRK. Now though, with the same data as we all had before they are definitively tentatively saying ''It's DPRK'' which makes people like me mental. So let's look at these IP's that were hard coded into the malware and take the idea to task that they are assets that ONLY the DPRK could use or has used and how that very idea has so much cognitive dissonance where ''evidence'' is concerned. Especially evidence where a nation state is going to ''respond proportionally'' to another for actions they claim they perpetrated.
The key here is to pay attention to the GEO-IP stuff they are using:
A summary of the C2 IP addresses:
IP AddressCountryPortFilename203.131.222.102Thailand8080Diskpartmg16.exeigfxtrayex.exeigfxtpers.exe217.96.33.164Poland8000Diskpartmg16.exeigfxtrayex.exe88.53.215.64Italy8000Diskpartmg16.exeigfxtrayex.exe200.87.126.116Bolivia8000File 758.185.154.99Singapore8080File 7212.31.102.100Cypress8080File 7208.105.226.235United States''igfxtpers.exe
See now all of these IP's could be used by just about anyone. They are not in country at the DPRK and they are not on Chinese soil either. In fact here is the dope on each one:
Thailand: Thailand port 8080 is a proxy: Proxy-registered route object THAMMASAT Thammasat University 2 Phrachan Road, Phranakorn, Bangkok 10200, ThailandAS37992 THAMMASAT-BORDER-AS Thammasat UniversityThailandIt has also been seen as a very dirty player in SPAM and other nefarious actions.. Not just DPRK/CN APT Activities
So really, this one could be used by anyone and everyone.
Poland: 8080: TPNET INTER-PARTS INTER-PARTS IMPORT EKSPORT WALDEMAR BACLAWSKI UL. JARZEBINOWA 4 11-034 STAWIGUDAAS5617 TPNET Orange Polska Spolka AkcyjnaOlsztyn, PolandPoland too is known to be dirty and used for SPAM and malware C&C's as well. Many different groups are using this and it too is a proxy. So once again, this does not prove out solidly that this is DPRK. It could in fact be anyone who is in the know about it's being there and use. Many of these addresses are on sites all over the web for use in this and other capacities.
In fact here is a site that has the password to the system (Chinese)
Italy 800088.53.215.64- INTERBUSINESS IT-INTERBUSINESS-20050930 Telecom Italia S.p.a.AS3269 ASN-IBSNAZ Telecom Italia S.p.a.ItalyOnce again, Italy has the same issue. It is a known dirty address/system and has been used for SPAM and Malware C&C's before. This does not mean that it is in fact solely under the control of DPRK.
Site listing the proxy as available and the qualities of the anonymity
Here's another listing:
Bolivia 8000200.87.126.116- This is a DiViNetworks customer route-object which is being exported under this origin AS6568 (origin AS). This route object was created because no existing route object with the same origin was found. Please contact if you have any questions regarding this object. BO-ESEN-LACNIC Entel S.A. '' EntelNetAS6568 ENTEL-SA-BOLIVIA ENTEL S.A. BOLIVIALa Paz, Bolivia
Here's a listing from 2012 on the Bolivian proxy (blackhat forum)
Another listing:
Starting Nmap 6.47 ( ) at 2014-12-20 05:15 ESTNmap scan report for is up (0.17s latency).Not shown: 92 closed portsPORT STATE SERVICE VERSION80/tcp open http Apache httpd 2.2.3 ((Win32))135/tcp open msrpc Microsoft Windows RPC139/tcp filtered netbios-ssn445/tcp filtered microsoft-ds1720/tcp filtered H.323/Q.9315800/tcp open vnc-http RealVNC 4.0 (resolution: 400—250; VNC TCP port: 5900)(remote auth bypass)5900/tcp open vnc RealVNC Personal (protocol 4.0)10000/tcp open http GeoVision GeoHttpServer for webcams
Singapore 808058.185.154.99- Singapore Telecommunications Ltd SINGNET-SG SingNet Pte Ltd 2 Stirling Road #03-00 Queenstown Exchange Singapore 148943AS3758 SINGNET SINGNETSingapore, Singapore
Singapore Proxy on offer online
Cyprus 8080212.31.102.100- Proxy-registered route object CYTANET PROVIDER Local RegistryAS6866 CYTA-NETWORK Cyprus Telecommunications ACyprus
USA (no port listed) RR-Route RCNYAS11351 RoadRunner RR-Binghamton-RochesterSyracuse, United States
Starting Nmap 6.47 ( ) at 2014-12-19 21:13 ESTNmap scan report for ( is up (0.070s latency).Not shown: 94 filtered portsPORT STATE SERVICE135/tcp open msrpc443/tcp open https3128/tcp closed squid-http
Hollywood Cowardice: George Clooney Explains Why Sony Stood Alone In North Korean Cyberterror Attack | Deadline
Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:29
EXCLUSIVE: As it begins to dawn on everyone in Hollywood the reality that Sony Pictures was the victim of a cyberterrorist act perpetrated by a hostile foreign nation on American soil, questions will be asked about how and why it happened, ending with Sony cancelling the theatrical release of the satirical comedy The Interview because of its depiction of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. One of those issues will be this: Why didn't anybody speak out while Sony Pictures chiefs Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton were embarrassed by emails served up by the media, bolstering the credibility of hackers for when they attached as a cover letter to Lynton's emails a threat to blow up theaters if The Interview was released?
George Clooney has the answer. The most powerful people in Hollywood were so fearful to place themselves in the cross hairs of hackers that they all refused to sign a simple petition of support that Clooney and his agent, CAA's Bryan Lourd, circulated to the top people in film, TV, records and other areas. Not a single person would sign. Here, Clooney discusses the petition and how it is just part of many frightening ramifications that we are all just coming to grips with.
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DEADLINE: How could this have happened, that terrorists achieved their aim of cancelling a major studio film? We watched it unfold, but how many people realized that Sony legitimately was under attack?GEORGE CLOONEY: A good portion of the press abdicated its real duty. They played the fiddle while Rome burned. There was a real story going on. With just a little bit of work, you could have found out that it wasn't just probably North Korea; it was North Korea. The Guardians Oof Peace is a phrase that Nixon used when he visited China. When asked why he was helping South Korea, he said it was because we are the Guardians of Peace. Here, we're talking about an actual country deciding what content we're going to have. This affects not just movies, this affects every part of business that we have. That's the truth. What happens if a newsroom decides to go with a story, and a country or an individual or corporation decides they don't like it? Forget the hacking part of it. You have someone threaten to blow up buildings, and all of a sudden everybody has to bow down. Sony didn't pull the movie because they were scared; they pulled the movie because all the theaters said they were not going to run it. And they said they were not going to run it because they talked to their lawyers and those lawyers said if somebody dies in one of these, then you're going to be responsible.
RelatedSony Hack Needs Tempered Response, White House Says
We have a new paradigm, a new reality, and we're going to have to come to real terms with it all the way down the line. This was a dumb comedy that was about to come out. With the First Amendment, you're never protecting Jefferson; it's usually protecting some guy who's burning a flag or doing something stupid. This is a silly comedy, but the truth is, what it now says about us is a whole lot. We have a responsibility to stand up against this. That's not just Sony, but all of us, including my good friends in the press who have the responsibility to be asking themselves: What was important? What was the important story to be covering here? The hacking is terrible because of the damage they did to all those people. Their medical records, that is a horrible thing, their Social Security numbers. Then, to turn around and threaten to blow people up and kill people, and just by that threat alone we change what we do for a living, that's the actual definition of terrorism.
RelatedSony Hack Deepens Rift Between Film & Television Group
DEADLINE: I've been chasing the story of the petition you were circulating for a week now. Where is it, and how were these terrorists able to isolate Sony from the herd and make them so vulnerable?CLOONEY: Here's the brilliant thing they did. You embarrass them first, so that no one gets on your side. After the Obama joke, no one was going to get on the side of Amy, and so suddenly, everyone ran for the hills. Look, I can't make an excuse for that joke, it is what it is, a terrible mistake. Having said that, it was used as a weapon of fear, not only for everyone to disassociate themselves from Amy but also to feel the fear themselves. They know what they themselves have written in their emails, and they're afraid.
Related'The Interview' Faces Uncertain Future Internationally
DEADLINE: What happened when you sent the petition, and who did you ask to sign it?CLOONEY: It was a large number of people. It was sent to basically the heads of every place. They told Bryan Lourd, ''I can't sign this.'' What? How can you not sign this? I'm not going to name anyone, that's not what I'm here to do, but nobody signed the letter, which I'll read to you right now.
On November 24 of this year, Sony Pictures was notified that it was the victim of a cyber attack, the effects of which is the most chilling and devastating of any cyber attack in the history of our country. Personal information including Social Security numbers, email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers and the full texts of emails of tens of thousands of Sony employees was leaked online in an effort to scare and terrorize these workers. The hackers have made both demands and threats. The demand that Sony halt the release of its upcoming comedy The Interview, a satirical film about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Their threats vary from personal'--you better behave wisely'--to threatening physical harm'--not only you but your family is in danger. North Korea has not claimed credit for the attack but has praised the act, calling it a righteous deed and promising merciless measures if the film is released. Meanwhile the hackers insist in their statement that what they've done so far is only a small part of our further plan. This is not just an attack on Sony. It involves every studio, every network, every business and every individual in this country. That is why we fully support Sony's decision not to submit to these hackers' demands. We know that to give in to these criminals now will open the door for any group that would threaten freedom of expression, privacy and personal liberty. We hope these hackers are brought to justice but until they are, we will not stand in fear. We will stand together.
DEADLINE: That doesn't sound like a hard paper to sign.CLOONEY: All that it is basically saying is, we're not going to give in to a ransom. As we watched one group be completely vilified, nobody stood up. Nobody took that stand. Now, I say this is a situation we are going to have to come to terms with, a new paradigm and a new way of handling our business. Because this could happen to an electric company, a car company, a newsroom. It could happen to anybody.
RelatedSony Hacks, Amy Pascal & Scott Rudin's E-mails: Whose News Is It Anyway?
DEADLINE: You said you won't name names, but how many people were asked and refused to sign? CLOONEY: It was a fairly large number. Having put together telethons where you have to get all the networks on board to do the telethon at the same time, the truth is once you get one or two, then everybody gets on board. It is a natural progression. So here, you get the first couple of people to sign it and '... well, nobody wanted to be the first to sign on. Now, this isn't finger-pointing on that. This is just where we are right now, how scared this industry has been made. Quite honestly, this would happen in any industry. I don't know what the answer is, but what happened here is part of a much larger deal. A huge deal. And people are still talking about dumb emails. Understand what is going on right now, because the world just changed on your watch, and you weren't even paying attention.
RelatedSony Has ''No Further Release Plans'' For 'The Interview' On VOD Or Elsewhere
DEADLINE: What kind of constraints will this put on storytellers that want to shine a critical light on a place like Russia, for instance, with something like a movie about the polonium poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, the KGB officer who left and became an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin?CLOONEY: What's going to happen is, you're going to have trouble finding distribution. In general, when you're doing films like that, the ones that are critical, those aren't going to be studio films anyway. Most of the movies that got us in trouble, we started out by raising the money independently. But to distribute, you've got to go to a studio, because they're the ones that distribute movies. The truth is, you're going to have a much harder time finding distribution now. And that's a chilling effect. We should be in the position right now of going on offense with this. I just talked to Amy an hour ago. She wants to put that movie out. What do I do? My partner Grant Heslov and I had the conversation with her this morning. Bryan and I had the conversation with her last night. Stick it online. Do whatever you can to get this movie out. Not because everybody has to see the movie, but because I'm not going to be told we can't see the movie. That's the most important part. We cannot be told we can't see something by Kim Jong-un, of all f*cking people.
RelatedAl Sharpton Meets With Amy Pascal: Will Work To Address Hollywood's ''Cultural Blindness''
DEADLINE: Some have pointed fingers at the media that feasted on these tawdry emails. Were they culpable in giving the terrorists a foothold, as Aaron Sorkin has said?CLOONEY: I do know something about the news world. I was sitting on the floors of newsrooms since I was seven years old, and I've been around them my whole life. I understand that someone looks at a story with famous people in it and you want to put it out. OK. It's a drag, and it's lame. But there's not much you can do about it. You can't legislate good taste. The problem is that what happened was, while all of that was going on, there was a huge news story that no one was really tracking. They were just enjoying all the salacious sh*t instead of saying, ''Wait a minute, is this really North Korea? And if it is, are we really going to bow to that?'' You could point fingers at Sony pulling the film, but they didn't have any theaters, they all pulled out. By the way, the other studios were probably very happy because they had movies of their own going in for Christmas at the same cineplexes. There's this constant circle, this feeding frenzy. What I'm concerned about is content. I'm concerned that content now is constantly going to be judged on a different level. And that's a terrible thing to do. What we don't need happening in any of our industries is censorship. The FBI guys said this could have happened to our government. That's how good these guys were. It's a serious moment in time that needs to be addressed seriously, as opposed to frivolously. That's what is most important here.
RelatedJapan-North Korea Talks Seen Unaffected By Sony Hack Attack Revelations
DEADLINE: As Amy and Michael took their turn in the barrel because of these emails, some questioned why they'd approve a movie that ends with the death of a standing dictator in a hostile foreign country. Others have said she should be able to make any film she wants. It's a satire. What do you think?CLOONEY: The South Park guys did it. They blew up his father's head. The truth of the matter is, of course you should be able to make any movie you want. And, you should take the ramifications for it. Meaning, people can boycott the movie and not go see your film. They can say they'll never see a Sony movie again. That's all fine. That's the risk you take for the decision you make. But to say we're going to make you pull it. We're going to censor you. That's a whole other game. That is playing in some serious waters and it's a very dangerous pool.
RelatedHollywood Hits Twitter To Vent Anger About 'The Interview' Being Pulled
DEADLINE: You mentioned Team America. Some theaters wanted to show it on Christmas after The Interview was pulled as a show of defiance and Paramount pulled it back. They too are afraid of being in the hacker cross hairs.CLOONEY: Everybody is looking at this from self interest and they are right in this sense. I'm a movie theater and I say, ''OK, there's been a threat. Not really a credible threat, but there's a threat, and my lawyers call and tell me, ''Well, you run the movie and you could be liable.'' And all the other movies around it are going to have their business hurt. I understand that, and it makes complete sense. But that's where we really need to figure what the real response should be. I don't know what that is yet. We should be talking about that and not pointing fingers at people right now. Right now, it's not just our community but a lot of communities. We need to figure out, what are we going to do now '-- when we know the cyberattacks are real, and they're state-sponsored.
RelatedGore Verbinski On Cancellation Of North Korea-Based Steve Carell Film
DEADLINE: Knowing what we do now, what does the government owe Sony?CLOONEY: I've seen statements they've put out and what the president said and what the response is. The truth is, it's all new territory and nobody knows how to handle it. I don't think anyone was prepared for it. So now we'll be prepared for it, hopefully. Everybody was doing their jobs, but somehow, we have allowed North Korea to dictate content, and that is just insane.
DEADLINE: You said everyone acts based on self interest. What's yours?CLOONEY: I wanted to have the conversation because I'm worried about content. Frankly, I'm at an age where I'm not doing action films or romantic comedies. The movies we make are the ones with challenging content, and I don't want to see it all just be superhero movies. Nothing wrong with them, but it's nice for people to have other films out there.
Death of a President (2006) - IMDb
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 02:00
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Aspect Ratio:1.85 : 1
See full technical specs >>EditDid You Know?TriviaPreexisting footage of President George W. Bush and CGI effects help to create the scenes of his assassination. See more >>GoofsThe archive footage meant to depict President Bush greeting people on the rope line outside a speech to the Economic Club of Chicago was actually taken from an event at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. While the speech in the movie takes place in the evening, President Bush greets one of the people on the rope line by saying "Good morning." See more >>Quotes[end title cards]Title card: One year after his conviction, Jamal Abu Zikri has still not been granted leave to appeal.Title card: He remains on death row in Statevill Correctional Center.Title card: Since recording the interview for this film Robert H Maguire has resigned as Head of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI.Title card: USA PATRIOT III, introduced in the days after the assassination, has since been turned into permanent law.Title card: It has granted investigators unprecedented powers of detention and surveillance, and further expanded ...See more >>
CNN & NPR Refuse to Run Ads for 'Death Of A Prez'; Major Papers See No Problem | Deadline
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 03:40
Neither CNN nor NPR will run ads for Newmarket Films' Death of a President opening this weekend on October 27th, a press release issued by the film's PR rep said today. Already, two major American cinema chains '-- Regal Entertainment Group, the No. 1 U.S. cinema operator with more than 6,300 screens in 40 states, and Cinemark USA, which operates roughly 2,500 screens in 34 states '-- have said they will not show a controversial new movie that depicts the assassination of President George W. Bush. The hugely controversial political thriller from director Gabriel Range, about the fictional assassination of President George W. Bush, became one of the most talked-about films at the Toronto Film festival in September. Since then, the 93-minute pic's subject matter has led to many protests against even the fictional idea of a movie about the killing a U.S. president, much less a sitting U.S. president. Others, however, believe the documentary-style film has an anti-violence message. Range has said he has received death threats since it screened at Toronto, where it won the Prize of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize). (The jury of international film critics cited the film ''for the audacity with which it distorts reality to reveal a larger truth.'') Because of its subject matter, the pic had a hard time finding a U.S. distributor until Newmarket stepped forward. Today's PR release helps the film get publicity before it opens this weekend in mostly art houses and regional venues. Even though both print and electronic ads for the pic have been approved by the Motion Picture Association of America, Newmarket Films said it was told by CNN in an email today that the news organization ''has decided not to take the ads because of the extreme nature of the movie's subject matter.'' NPR cited similar reasons in refusing to run sponsorship announcements on behalf of Death of a President, according to the distributor. Other advertising platforms aren't objecting: people connected with the film say broadcast and digital ads for the movie have been accepted by MSNBC,, and, among others, and print ads have already appeared in major newspapers, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and Philadelphia Inquirer. ''To refuse to accept ads for a movie is tantamount to saying it shouldn't be seen, and this runs counter to everything we are supposed to believe in as a free society,'' Newmarket co-founder Chris Ball said in a news release today. ''What we find especially troubling is that these decisions are being made by people who we believe have not seen even seen the movie. This rush to judgment tramples on the basic American values of fairness and free expression.'' The director, who also co-wrote the film, uses archive footage of Bush to create the scenes that lead up to the president being shot. Digital effects are used to superimpose his head onto an actor for the assassination scene.
US theatres refuse to screen 'Death of a President' | Zee News
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 03:40
Washington, Oct 8: Most of the biggest theatre chains in the US have reportedly refused to screen the controversial film 'Death of a President', which depicts a fictional assassination of President George W. Bush.The R-rated film sparked controversy when it was premiered last month at the Toronto Film Festival, where it won the International Critics Prize and scored a U.S. distribution deal with Newmarket Films.
Mike Campbell, CEO of Regal Entertainment Group says that portrayal of the future assassination of a sitting President is a big turn off for them, as they don't consider it to be an appropriate subject matter for a film.
"We would not be inclined to program this film. We feel it is inappropriate to portray the future assassination of a sitting President, regardless of political affiliation," E!online quoted him as telling Hollywood Reporter.
Set in 2007, after the passage of the so-called Patriot Act 3, Death of a President plays out like a typical TV documentary, but its writer-director Gabriel Range has used digitally blended archival footage of President Bush with staged scenes to depict his murder, and its aftermath.
The film focuses more on the FBI`s hunt for Bush`s killer, and whether a Syrian-born suspect is really the triggerman.
Bureau Report with ANI inputs
Iranian Hackers Hit Sheldon Adelson's Sands Casino in Las Vegas - Businessweek
Sat, 20 Dec 2014 17:04
Most gamblers were still asleep, and the gondoliers had yet to pole their way down the ersatz canal in front of the Venetian casino on the Las Vegas Strip. But early on the chilly morning of Feb. 10, just above the casino floor, the offices of the world's largest gaming company were gripped by chaos. Computers were flatlining, e-mail was down, most phones didn't work, and several of the technology systems that help run the $14 billion operation had sputtered to a halt.
Computer engineers at Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) raced to figure out what was happening. Within an hour, they had a diagnosis: Sands was under a withering cyber attack. PCs and servers were shutting down in a cascading IT catastrophe, with many of their hard drives wiped clean. The company's technical staff had never seen anything like it.
''This isn't the kind of business you can get into in Iran without the government knowing''
The people who make the company work, from accountants to marketing managers, were staring at blank screens. ''Hundreds of people were calling IT to tell them their computers weren't working,'' says James Pfeiffer, who worked in Sands' risk-management department in Las Vegas at the time. Most people, he recalls, switched over to their cell phones and personal e-mail accounts to communicate with co-workers. Numerous systems were felled, including those that run the loyalty rewards plans for Sands customers; programs that monitor the performance and payout of slot machines and table games at Sands' U.S. casinos; and a multimillion-dollar storage system.
In an effort to save as many machines as they could, IT staffers scrambled across the casino floors of Sands' Vegas properties'--the Venetian and its sister hotel, the Palazzo'--ripping network cords out of every functioning computer they could find, including PCs used by pit bosses to track gamblers and kiosks where slots players cash in their tickets.
This was no Ocean's Eleven. The hackers were not trying to empty a vault of cash, nor were they after customer credit card data, as in recent attacks on Target (TGT), Neiman Marcus, and Home Depot (HD). This was personal. The perpetrators wanted to punish the company, or, more precisely, its chief executive officer and majority owner, the billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Although confirming their conjectures would take some time, executives suspected almost immediately the assault was coming from Iran.
This was new. Other countries have spied on American companies, and they have stolen from them, but this is likely the first time'--occurring months before the late November attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment (SNE)'--that a foreign player simply sought to destroy American corporate infrastructure on such a scale. Both hacks may represent the beginning of a geopolitically confusing, and potentially devastating, phase of digital conflict. Experts worry that America's rivals may have found the sweet spot of cyberwar'--strikes that are serious enough to wound American companies but below the threshold that would trigger a forceful government response. More remarkable still, Sands has managed to keep the full extent of the hack secret for 10 months. In October 2013, Adelson, one of Israel's most hawkish supporters in the U.S., arrived on Yeshiva University's Manhattan campus for a panel titled ''Will Jews Exist?'' Among the speakers that night were a famous rabbi and a columnist from the Wall Street Journal, but the real draw for the crowd in the smallish auditorium was Adelson, a slightly slumped 81-year-old man with pallid jowls and thinning hair who had to be helped onto the stage by assistants. With a net worth of $27.4 billion, Adelson is the 22nd-wealthiest person in the world, thanks mostly to his 52 percent stake in Las Vegas Sands. He has built the most lucrative gaming empire on earth by launching casinos in Singapore and China whose profits now dwarf those coming from Las Vegas. An owner of three news outlets in Israel and a friend of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Adelson also spends large sums of money to support conservative politicians in the U.S.; he may be best known for contributing some $100 million in a failed attempt to unseat President Obama and elect Republicans to Congress in the 2012 election.
At Yeshiva he described how he'd handle talks with Iran about its ongoing nuclear program. ''What are we going to negotiate about?'' Adelson asked. ''What I would say is, 'Listen. You see that desert out there? I want to show you something.''Š'' He would detonate an American warhead in the sand, he said, where it ''doesn't hurt a soul. Maybe a couple of rattlesnakes and scorpions or whatever.'' The message: The next mushroom cloud would rise over Tehran unless the government scrapped any plans to create its own nukes. ''You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position,'' Adelson said, to light applause. It took only a few hours for his remarks to be posted on YouTube (GOOG) and ricochet around the Internet. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded two weeks later, according to the country's semiofficial Fars News Agency, saying America ''should slap these prating people in the mouth and crush their mouths.''
Physically, Adelson and Sands are well protected. He appears in public with a phalanx of armed bodyguards, said to be former agents of the U.S. Secret Service and Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency. Sands paid almost $3.3 million to protect Adelson and his family last year, according to a company filing. That's on top of what Sands spends on vaults, security cameras, biometric screening devices, and one of the largest private police forces of any U.S. company, all to safeguard the millions of dollars of cash and chips that flow through its operations every day.
But the company has been slow to adapt to digital threats. Two years ago it had a cybersecurity staff of five people protecting 25,000 computers, according to a former executive. The board authorized a major upgrade of tools and personnel in 2013, but the project was slated to be rolled out over 18 months, and it was in its infancy as Adelson mused about nuclear strikes at Yeshiva. Unbeknownst to Sands, one month after Khamenei's fiery speech, hackers began to poke around the perimeter of its computer networks, looking for weaknesses. Only later, after the attack, were investigators able to sift through computer logs and reconstruct their movements. These details appear in internal documents describing ''Yellowstone 1,'' the company's code name for the incident, and have been corroborated in interviews with a half-dozen people familiar with the breach and its aftermath. Ron Reese, a spokesman for Sands, declined to answer specific questions about the attack or to make Adelson available.
By Jan. 8, 2014, the hackers were focused on Sands Bethlehem, a 3,000-slot-machine casino and resort in Bethlehem, Pa., which has its own website and computer network. It's a minor outpost in the company's empire, but going after the weak link in the security chain is a well-worn hacker trick. That day, the hackers launched a first, hourlong attack to try to break into the Sands Bethlehem virtual private network, or VPN, which gives employees access to their files from home or on the road.
The hackers used software that cracks password logins by systematically trying as many as several thousand letter combinations per minute; the software keeps going until it either guesses right or runs out of permutations. It's a brute-force method, sort of like the safecracking tools in movies that spin through every possible combination to find the correct set of numbers.
The hackers redoubled their efforts on Jan. 21 and 26, again throwing hourslong attacks at the Bethlehem Sands network. Later, investigators would detect the work of at least two different hackers or teams trying different ways to get in. At the time, IT managers in Bethlehem, alarmed at the sudden surge in failed login attempts, began a conference call with Sands security managers in Las Vegas. But brute-force attempts are common'--almost half of all companies experience them, according to Alert Logic, a Houston security firm'--and the casino staff wasn't overly concerned. They put another layer of security on the accounts that were being attacked, so that entering the network would require more than just a password.
It was of little use: Five days later, on Feb. 1, the hackers found a weakness in a Web development server used by Sands Bethlehem to review and test Web pages before they went live. Once inside, the pace of the attack quickly escalated. Hackers used a tool called Mimikatz to reveal passwords used previously to log in to a computer or server. Collecting passwords as they went, the hackers gained access to almost every Sands file in Bethlehem, according to three people familiar with the incident. But the Bethlehem computer system was a box'--and what they were really after was the key that would let them out.
Sometime before Feb. 9, they found it: the login credentials of a senior computer systems engineer who normally worked at company headquarters but whose password had been used in Bethlehem during a recent trip. Those credentials got the hackers into the gaming company's servers in Las Vegas. As they rifled through the master network, the attackers readied a malware bomb. Typing from a Sony (SNE) VAIO computer, they compiled a small piece of code, only about 150 lines long, in the Visual Basic programming language. The program proved potent. Not only does it wipe the data stored on computers and servers, but it also automatically reboots them, a clever trick that exposes data that's untouchable while a machine is still running. Even worse, the script writes over the erased hard drives with a random pattern of ones and zeros, making data so difficult to recover that it is more cost-effective to buy new machines and toss the hacked ones in the trash. Investigators from Dell SecureWorks working for Sands have concluded that the February attack was likely the work of ''hacktivists'' based in Iran, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg Businessweek. The security team couldn't determine if Iran's government played a role, but it's unlikely that any hackers inside the country could pull off an attack of that scope without its knowledge, given the close scrutiny of Internet use within its borders. ''This isn't the kind of business you can get into in Iran without the government knowing,'' says James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Hamid Babaei, a spokesman for Iran's Permanent Mission to the United Nations, didn't return several phone calls and e-mails.
The perpetrators released their malware early in the morning on Monday, Feb. 10. It spread through the company's networks, laying waste to thousands of servers, desktop PCs, and laptops. By the afternoon, Sands security staffers noticed logs showing that the hackers had been compressing batches of sensitive files. This meant that they may have downloaded'--or were preparing to download'--vast numbers of private documents, from credit checks on high-roller customers to detailed diagrams and inventories of global computer systems. Michael Leven, the president of Sands, decided to sever the company entirely from the Internet.
It was a drastic step in an age when most business functions, from hotel reservations to procurement, are handled online. But Sands was able to keep many core operations functioning'--the hackers weren't able to access an IBM (IBM) mainframe that's key to running certain parts of the business. Hotel guests could still swipe their keycards to get into their rooms. Elevators ran. Gamblers could still drop coins into slot machines or place bets at blackjack tables. Customers strolling the casino floors or watching the gondolas glide by on the canal in front of the Venetian had no idea anything was amiss.
Photograph by Paul Hilton/EPA/CorbisAdelson at the Venetian Macau
Leven's team quickly realized that they'd caught a major break. The Iranians had made a mistake. Among the first targets of the wiper software were the company's Active Directory servers, which help manage network security and create a trusted link to systems abroad. If the hackers had waited before attacking these machines, the malware would have made it to Sands' extensive properties in Singapore and China. Instead, the damage was confined to the U.S.
The next day, the hackers took aim at the company's websites, which were hosted by a third party and still running. The hackers defaced them, posting a photograph of Adelson chumming around with Netanyahu, as well as images of flames on a map of Sands' U.S. casinos. At one point, they posted an admonition: ''Encouraging the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction, UNDER ANY CONDITION, is a Crime,'' signing it ''Anti WMD Team.'' The hackers left messages for Adelson himself. One read, ''Damn A, Don't let your tongue cut your throat.'' They also included a scrolling list of information about Sands Bethlehem employees that had been stolen in the breach, including names, titles, Social Security numbers, and e-mail addresses.
In the days after the hack, Sands initially told the press only that its websites had been vandalized and that some office productivity systems, including e-mail, weren't working. Apparently angered that their attack was being minimized, the hackers took to YouTube, posting an 11-minute video set to the music of Carl Orff's pulsing cantata O Fortuna. It began by scrolling through a news article that highlighted Adelson's comments about nuking Iran. Then it showed a computer screen packed with thousands of files and folders, with names such as IT Passwords and Casino Credit, which had been pilfered from Sands.
In the video, which was removed within hours by law enforcement, an unseen hacker clicks into a disk drive titled ''Damn A'' and enters a folder containing almost a terabyte of data. A text box appears: ''Do you really think that only your mail server has been taken down?!! Like hell it has!!'' Three people familiar with the Sands hack confirmed the files seen in the video were genuine.
The company is still tallying the damage. Documents and interviews with people involved in Yellowstone 1 show that the hackers' malicious payload wiped out about three-quarters of the company's Las Vegas computer servers. Leven, in a brief interview last month before a private event, estimated that recovering data and building new systems could cost the company $40 million or more. For years, U.S. officials have warned of the threat of destructive digital attacks against American companies by foreign parties. The latest alarm came on Nov. 20, from National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers, as he testified before the House Intelligence Committee. Pointing to a 2012 attack on Saudi Aramco that wiped out 30,000 of the oil company's computers, Rogers suggested that corporate America so far has been lucky. He kept mum about Sands, even though the attack has been studied and discussed by U.S. national security officials since February.
Months after the Sands fiasco, and just days after Rogers's comments, hackers broke into Sony Pictures Entertainment, crippling the studio's e-mail, payroll, and other systems and leaking gigabytes of company secrets, including full-length cuts of five major holiday films and the Social Security numbers of 47,000 employees and contractors, including Sylvester Stallone and Judd Apatow. Sony hasn't publicly said who's responsible, but according to two people familiar with the incident, FireEye security experts the company hired have connected the attack to a group of hackers known as DarkSeoul, which South Korean and U.S. officials believe works for the North Korean government. The regime denies responsibility, but in June, after learning of the Sony project The Interview'--a comedy about an assassination plot against leader Kim Jong Un'--a government spokesman said North Korea would ''mercilessly destroy anyone who dares hurt or attack the supreme leadership of the country, even a bit.''
This is the next frontier of cyberwarfare. If an enemy of the U.S. were to digitally target the country's electrical grid or natural gas pipelines, the president would consider a range of powerful responses, including military options, according to leaked descriptions of two executive orders signed by President Obama. But Las Vegas casinos don't deliver essential services to the U.S. population, apart from Cirque du Soleil addicts. Nor do movie studios. Even months of nuisance attacks on the websites of major American banks in 2012 and 2013, which U.S. intelligence officials connected to Iran's Republican Guard, didn't meet the threshold. The damage wasn't serious enough.
''If this would have come across my desk when I was in government, I would have just put it in the outbox,'' Michael Hayden, former director of both the CIA and the NSA, says of the Sands attack. The U.S. government will help find who did it, but it won't hit back. That leaves most companies pretty much on their own to face a growing cast of global antagonists wielding devastating digital weapons, he says. ''If there is a physical Chinese attack coming up the Houston Ship Channel, I know who to call,'' Hayden says. ''If there is a cyber Chinese attack coming up the fiber-optic cable in the Houston Ship Channel, what does U.S. law say the U.S. government should do? I think what we're finding is there isn't a real robust answer.''
''Do you really think that only your mail server has been taken down?!! Like hell it has!!''
As early as 2008, military planners were at work on a series of briefing papers about deterrence in cyberspace, examining whether the same principles that kept the Cold War cold could be applied to the coming generation of digital conflict. The answer, they concluded, was no. It's a lot easier to tell who fired a nuclear weapon than a digital one, which is simple to acquire and hard to trace. States often outsource hacking to proxies, including groups that behave a lot like the ones that officially took credit for both Sands (the ''Anti WMD Team'') and Sony (the ''Guardians of Peace'').
In the Sony hack, the first big upload of stolen data was made from Thailand, using the Wi-Fi network of the St. Regis Bangkok, a luxury hotel. Internet functionality in North Korea is so limited that hackers working for the country's military have set up satellite offices in China, Syria, and other countries. But the attackers could also be hired guns. While denying involvement in the hack, a spokesman for the National Defense Commission in Pyongyang praised it as a ''righteous deed.'' The spokesman suggested the perpetrators might have been upset over The Interview, ''a film abetting a terrorist act while hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership.'' FireEye investigators initially prepared a blog post linking DarkSeoul to the attack, but during a meeting on Dec. 3, Sony's general counsel squelched it, perhaps unwilling to poke the hornet's nest again. A Sony spokesman said the company's investigation is ongoing. Similarly, Dell SecureWorks submitted an incident brief to Sands stating that the ''attack was in response to CEO comments regarding Iran.'' Sands executives made their displeasure known, and the next internal report from Dell, about a month later, omitted that page. Dell spokeswoman Elizabeth Clarke declined to comment.
Courtesy Las Vegas Sands CorporationThe Venetian, on the Strip
A growing number of experts, including former national security officials who've seen the problem from the inside, say the next escalation may be companies doing what the U.S. government won't. If states can hire hackers to do damage, why can't their victims defend themselves using the same techniques? The topic, discussed often at panels and conferences, is among the options U.S. officials have considered'--and rejected'--as a response to growing cyberthreats against companies. Hayden, the former NSA director, calls it the digital equivalent of the ''stand your ground'' laws that allow citizens of some states to defend themselves with lethal force. To critics, it's a path to a digital Wild West.
Federal law would have to be changed first, and the Department of Justice has signaled that companies trying to ''hack back'' would be subject to criminal penalties under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, among other statutes. Nations that are already a headache for Obama and his national security team seem to understand this and are turning to low-level digital skirmishing to wreak havoc in the computers of American companies.
It's not the cyberwar many predicted, yet it's devastating in its own way. ''Maybe we never get to a digital Pearl Harbor everyone is always talking about, where it all happens at once, and trillions of dollars in value is wiped out,'' says Jason Syversen, founder of Siege Technologies, which provides cyberwarfare tools to the U.S. government. ''Maybe it's just going to go like this'--death by a thousand cuts.''
AKB48-AP News : Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 02:20
By TOMOKO A. HOSAKAPublished: TodayJapan's biggest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, featured a story about Sony Corp. on its website Friday. It wasn't about hacking. It was about the company's struggling tablet business.
Over at newswire Kyodo News, just after the FBI formally blamed North Korea for the cyberattack, mega pop group AKB48 topped headlines online instead.
While American journalists have extensively covered the fallout from the unprecedented Sony hacking attack, it hasn't exactly been massive news in Japan. Stories certainly surfaced after President Barack Obama weighed in on the issue at his year-end press conference Friday. But overall it has received relatively modest attention, mostly in short stories on the inside pages of Japan's major newspapers.
This might all be perplexing to the rest of the world since Sony is one of Japan's most iconic global brands. Here are a few reasons why the story hasn't gotten major play in Japan's mainstream media:
While Sony Pictures is technically part of the Sony empire, it has long been run as an entirely separate U.S. company. So far, the Japanese media seems to view the hack as an American problem rather than a domestic one. Indeed, at Sony headquarters itself, officials have refused all comment and referred questions about Sony Pictures to the movie division's headquarters in Culver City, California.
"This is seen mainly as an attack on Hollywood," Damian Thong, a senior analyst at Macquarie Capital Securities in Tokyo, said earlier this week. "I feel they want to clean it up as fast they can and just get on with life."
The studio shelved the Christmas Day release of the North Korea spoof movie "The Interview" after the hackers threatened to attack theaters that showed the film. But for Japan, the movie's demise hardly matters. Sony Pictures never planned to show the film there.
Japan's newspapers, which have the highest daily circulations in the world, are inclined to avoid news that is technologically complex. Like hacking. Nobuyuki Hayashi, a veteran freelance tech journalist and consultant based in Tokyo, said the tendency stems from reporters and editors who often don't have a deep understanding of technology. And neither do their aging readers.
"If you are technically savvy and need information (about the Sony hack), you will get it from the Web news media," Hayashi said. "Some technically-savvy people subscribe to a printed newspaper as well, but that's only to read other kinds of news."
It has been a newsy December in Japan, especially with national elections last weekend. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party locked up a solid majority in the lower house and reaffirmed his hold on power for up to four more years. In addition to politics, the national chatter was focused on a big blizzard that hit the northern island of Hokkaido this week, dumping heavy snow, derailing trains and killing several people.
AP Business Writer Elaine Kurtenbach contributed to this report.
Our History | Regional News Network
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 04:14
RNN is a privately owned enterprise based in Rye Brook, NY. In 1993 the current ownership purchased a single broadcast station in New York's Hudson Valley reaching less than a quarter million homes. Now our independent network reaches more than six million homes throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. We have spent years building an experienced management team and cutting-edge technological infrastructure. We deliver reliability and professionalism to the news and content production businesses and air diverse programming with regional, national and international content partners. The company owns and operates WRNN-TV, a full-power television station in the New York DMA, and RISE Television. RISE is a cable network distributed on Time Warner, Verizon FiOS and over the air on WRNN-TV DT2. RNN owns, operates, produces or master controls nine channels from its facilities in Rye Brook. RNN and its affiliates produce two 24-hour news channels in the New York DMA and two content channels in the Washington D.C. region for its partners. RNN recently built a new state-of-the-art multi-platform content hub based around the philosophy of finding efficiencies by producing content in a centralized model with the latest technology. It is a scalable and dynamic facility.
Ash Carter's Asia Plans - Defense One
Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:48
The nomination of Ashton Carter to replace Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is rumored to be in part due to Hagel's objections to the White House plan for the Islamic State and the Middle East. But Carter's true impact may actually be felt most in the Pacific, where he has a record worth examining as U.S. security efforts expand to new, inclusive partnerships.
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AuthorAdam Tiffen is a member of the Truman National Security Project's Defense Council and a veteran of three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently works in frontier and emerging markets. Views expressed are his own. Full Bio
Carter knows the Obama administration's intentions for the pivot to Asia. He gave a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies last year where he echoed the oft-repeated talking point that the pivot was primarily an economic matter with security repercussions. The economic focus on Asia is timely; just last week, the International Monetary Fund announced that China had surpassed the United States as the largest economy in the world. As China continues its astonishing economic growth, its influence expands not just in the Pacific but to long-entrenched economic interests in Africa. These economic interests will almost certainly translate into political influence over trading partners as China seeks to reshape the foundations of the international system to reflect its growing portfolio.
Carter also knows Asia. He has been an advocate for the prioritization of Asia since the late 1990s. He wrote a proposal with former Defense Secretary Bill Perry, under President Clinton, that advocated the United States develop strategic military relationships in places like Asia to prevent future regional conflicts. Make no mistake: The Department of Defense is already taking notice.
Last year, the Army resuscitated the Jungle Operations Training Course'--last conducted in 1999'--to prepare soldiers, joint services and military partners to conduct operations in a jungle environment, and an effort is underway to update the Army's 1982 Jungle Doctrine. Additionally, the Marine Corps is also now in the process of stationing a 2,000-strong Marine Expeditionary Unit in Darwin, Australia. And under Obama, DOD officials have secured or are securing rights for U.S. troops to use bases and ports across the region, including in Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia. While these moves are far from conclusive evidence that U.S. defense officials anticipate or seek a fight in the neighborhood, they do signal that the U.S. military is thinking broadly about strategic challenges it could face down the road.
The key to securing America's interests in Asia, however, will require more than just revised training, force structure and basing. The United States, under Carter's leadership, will have to grant assurances that it is prepared to defend the interests of its economic and political allies in the region. In developing and affirming U.S. military alliances with countries such as India, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia, the United States is going to have to take a careful approach. China already warily sees itself as the main target of the pivot, actively advancing an alternative vision with itself at the center of Asia's future. Complicating issues is the ever-unpredictable North Korea. On that issue, Carter is something of a hawk; in 2006, Carter advocated that if necessary, the United States should conduct a preemptive attack on North Korea's Taepodong long-range missile.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TTP, a U.S.-led trade agreement, is the most obvious embodiment of the pivot to Asia. Bringing together 11 member states in the region, the TPP will allow the United States to reach new markets in some of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Whether China ends up joining or not, the TPP is in essence an argument for the international system as defined by the United States. Its passage will go a long way in solidifying the U.S. position in the region, providing a concrete commitment to engagement and leadership.
Carter's attention to the Pacific is welcome, but it is essential that he demonstrate a willingness to embrace multilateralism as the way forward for U.S. policy in a critical region. Rising superpowers like China and rogue states like North Korea simply cannot be contained by one country alone. Few believe Asian countries will ever form their own NATO, but regional players willing to check China's military growth must work through historical differences and disagreements with the United States as an honest broker and strong leader. That will require new agreements, which likely will emerge from Carter's desk, if he is confirmed as defense secretary, over the next two years. For new security arrangements will be essential as America works to ensure allies that its presence in the region will be a force for security and prosperity '' no matter China.
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AuthorAdam Tiffen is a member of the Truman National Security Project's Defense Council and a veteran of three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently works in frontier and emerging markets. Views expressed are his own. Full Bio
Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 (1996; 104th Congress H.R. 927) -
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 04:32
Expresses the sense of the Congress that:
(1) the acts of the Castro government, including systematic human rights violations, are a threat to international peace;
(2) the President should instruct the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations to seek within the Security Council a mandatory international embargo against the Cuban Government;
(3) efforts by any independent state of the former Soviet Union to make operational any nuclear facility in Cuba, and any continuation by such state of intelligence activities from Cuba targeted at the United States and its citizens, will have a detrimental impact on U.S. assistance to such state; and
(4) the completion of any nuclear facility, or the political manipulation of the desire of Cubans to escape that results in mass migration to the United States, will be considered an act of aggression against the United States which will be met with an appropriate response.
Section102 -
Reaffirms a provision of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 that states that the President should encourage foreign countries to restrict trade and credit relations with Cuba. Urges the President to take steps to apply sanctions described by such Act against countries assisting Cuba. Requires the President to instruct the Secretary of the Treasury and the Attorney General to enforce the Cuban Assets Control Regulations. Amends the Trading with the Enemy Act to repeal the exemption from its civil penalties for news gathering, research, export and import of informational materials, certain educational or religious activities, and certain activities of human rights organizations.
Expresses the sense of the Congress that the President should instruct the Secretary of State and the Attorney General to enforce existing regulations that deny visas to Cuban Government employees or Cuban members of the Communist Party of Cuba. Amends the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, with respect to sanctions against a country that provides assistance to Cuba, to include as such assistance any exchange, reduction, or forgiveness of Cuban debt owed to a country in return for a grant of an equity interest in a property, investment, or operation of the Cuban Government or a Cuban national (debt-for-equity swap).
Declares that nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize investment (including donations and loans) by any U.S. person in the domestic telecommunications network in Cuba. Requires the President to report semiannually to the Congress with respect to payments made to Cuba by any U.S. person as a result of the provision of telecommunications services.
Section103 -
Prohibits any U.S. national, permanent resident alien, or U.S. agency from knowingly extending any loan or other financing to any person in order to finance transactions involving property confiscated by the Cuban Government, the claim to which is owned by a U.S. national.
Excepts from this prohibition any financing by the owner of the claim for a transaction permitted by U.S. law.
Authorizes the President to terminate such prohibition upon:
(1) installation of a transition government in Cuba; or
(2) termination of the economic embargo of Cuba. Sets forth penalties for violation of such prohibition.
Section104 -
Directs the Secretary to instruct the U.S. executive directors of the international financial institutions to oppose the admission of Cuba as a member of such institutions until the President determines that a democratically-elected government is in power in Cuba. Urges the President to support Cuba's application for membership in such institutions during the period that a transition government is in power, subject to the membership's taking effect after a democratically-elected government is in power.
Authorizes the Secretary to instruct the U.S. executive directors of the international financial institutions to support loans or other assistance to Cuba only if it will contribute to a stable foundation for a democratically-elected government there.
Requires the Secretary to withhold U.S. payments for specified portions of the increase in their capital stock from institutions that approve assistance to Cuba over U.S. opposition.
Section105 -
Urges the President to instruct the U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) to oppose and vote against any termination of the suspension of Cuba from the OAS until the President determines that a democratically-elected government is in power there.
Section106 -
Directs the President to report to the appropriate congressional committees on progress towards the withdrawal of personnel of any independent state of the former Soviet Union from the Cienfuegos nuclear facility.
Amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to make ineligible for assistance (except assistance under the secondary school exchange program administered by the United States Information Agency (USIA)) any independent state that is providing assistance for, or engaging in nonmarket based trade with, Cuba. Expresses strong disapproval of Russia's extension of credits equivalent to $200 million in support of the intelligence facility at Lourdes, Cuba. Directs the President to withhold from assistance provided for an independent state of the former Soviet Union an amount equal to the assistance and credits provided by such state in support of intelligence facilities in Cuba, including the one at Lourdes. Authorizes the President to waive the requirement to withhold such assistance if specified conditions are met, including certification that the Russian Government is not sharing with the Cuban Government intelligence data collected at Lourdes. Requires the President to report to the appropriate congressional committees on the intelligence activities of Russia in Cuba.
Section107 -
Requires the Director of the USIA to convert television broadcasting to Cuba under the Television Marti Service to ultra high frequency (UHF) broadcasting. Repeals the Television Broadcasting to Cuba Act and the Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act upon the election of a democratically-elected government in Cuba.
Section108 -
Directs the President to report annually to the appropriate congressional committees on commerce with, and assistance to, Cuba from other foreign countries.
Section109 -
Authorizes the President to furnish assistance and other support for individuals and independent nongovernmental organizations to support democracy-building efforts for Cuba. Directs the President to take steps to encourage the OAS to create a special emergency fund for the purpose of deploying human rights observers, election support, and election observation in Cuba. Urges the President to instruct the U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS to encourage other OAS member states to join in calling for the Cuban Government to allow the immediate deployment of independent OAS human rights monitors throughout Cuba and on-site visits to Cuba by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Urges the President to provide not less than $5 million of the U.S. voluntary contribution to the OAS solely for the purposes of the special fund.
Requires the President to ensure that no assistance be provided to the Cuban Government.
Section110 -
Declares that the Congress notes:
(1) the prohibition on the entry of, and dealings outside the United States in, Cuban-origin merchandise;
(2) that the U.S. accession to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) does not alter the U.S. sanctions against Cuba; and
(3) that the Food Security Act of 1985 requires the President not to allocate any of the sugar import quota to a country that is a net importer of sugar unless that country can verify to the President that it does not import Cuban sugar for re- export to the United States.
Section111 -
Directs the President to withhold the allocation of assistance, with specified exceptions, for any country in an amount equal to the sum of assistance and credits, if any, provided by such country in support of the completion of the Cuban nuclear facility at Juragua, near Cienfuegos, Cuba.
Section112 -
Expresses the sense of the Congress with respect to conditions for the reinstitution of general licenses for family remittances and travel to Cuba.
Section113 -
Directs the President to instruct all U.S. Government officials who engage in official contacts with the Cuban Government to raise on a regular basis the extradition of or rendering to the United States all persons residing in Cuba who are sought by the U.S. Department of Justice for crimes committed in the United States.
Section114 -
Authorizes the President to establish an exchange of news bureaus between the United States and Cuba if certain conditions exist.
Section115 -
Declares that nothing in this Act prohibits any lawfully authorized investigation, protective, or intelligence activity of a U.S. law enforcement agency or intelligence agency.
Section116 -
Condemns the act of terrorism by the Castro Regime in shooting down the Brothers to the Rescue aircraft on February 24, 1996. Extends Congress' condolences to the victims' families. Urges the President to seek an indictment in the International Court of Justice for this act of terrorism by Fidel Castro.
Cuba's Christmas surprise for Caracas '-- The Tico Times
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 02:27
In a terse statement from Havana this week, Cuban President Raºl Castro announced the start of a new era of cautious rapprochement with the United States. Castro's speech was notably lacking in the usual fiery tirades against imperialism: he graciously thanked President Barack Obama, the Vatican, and the government of Canada (the U.S.' frequent go-between when dealing with unfriendly states) for making the breakthrough possible. Raºl took the occasion to claim that his brother Fidel has often expressed, both publicly and privately, his desire for closer ties with the U.S.
Many Cubans were thrilled by the news. But the announcement was a cold shower for Venezuelan President Nicols Maduro, the Cuban government's longtime financial benefactor and a staunch ''anti-imperialist'' in his own right. Despite the unusually close diplomatic ties between Caracas and Havana (even their intelligence services are interlinked), Maduro appears to have been caught completely off guard. Although the news of the Castros' deal with Obama had already spread around the world by Wednesday morning, the Venezuelan regime's tightly controlled state media apparatus neglected to mention it until many hours later, patiently awaiting a cue from Maduro rather than risk reporting the story without a pre-approved editorial line.
When the Venezuelan president eventually did issue a statement, speaking from a regional summit in Argentina, he focused entirely on the freeing of the Cuban prisoners, calling it ''the most important 'gesture' of Obama's presidency.'' The restoration of diplomatic ties and the possible easing of the 64-year-old embargo were passed over with nary a word. After briefly complimenting the Cuban people on their deeply principled and independent spirit, he began to banter with Argentine president Cristina Kirchner about it being the birthday of Pope Francis. Soon after that, as if on cue, reports about the shift in U.S.-Cuba relations began cropping up on Venezuelan state media '' but only about the prisoner exchange. It wasn't until evening that the broader diplomatic aspects of the deal were touched upon, gingerly.
For Maduro, this is a particularly awkward moment for his country's closest regional ally to be making nice with his country's greatest foe, the much-maligned ''Northern Empire.'' The United States serves as his perennial bogeyman, blamed for everything from Venezuela's poor credit rating and the collapsing price of international crude to his own recent cold and the death of his hallowed predecessor Hugo Chvez from cancer last year. Maduro's own relations with Washington recently reached a low point, exemplified by last week's decision by the U.S. Congress to pass sanctions targeting Venezuelan officials implicated in ''significant acts of violence or serious human rights abuses'' during a rash of country-wide protests and barricades that paralyzed much of the country earlier this year.
Argentine President Cristina Kirchner and Venezuelan President Nicols Maduro speak during the 47th Mercosur Summit, in Parana, Entre R­os, Argentina, on Dec. 17, 2014.
Juan Mabromata/AFP
Maduro, with typical bombast, has told the U.S. State Department, quite literally, where they could stick their visas. (The irony that Cuban officials will likely soon be eligible for U.S. visas has certainly not been lost on many Venezuelans.) Maduro's many numerous passionate diatribes against ''Yankee insolence'' during this last week, which included appeals to Venezuelans to burn their own U.S. visas in solidarity as well as a lavish state-sponsored ''march against imperialism'' staged in Caracas, now stand in stark contrast to Cuba's own willingness to consider diplomatic ties with Washington.
Despite years of grandiose socialist rhetoric, mutual promises, and more than a decade of close personal friendship between Chvez and Fidel, the regime in Havana has clearly figured out that it's time to adapt to a changed world. Having remained dependent economically on the generosity of ideological allies for decades, Cuba was caught off guard by the sudden collapse of its long-time benefactor, the Soviet Union. That mistake led to a multiyear period of harrowing shortages and widespread poverty, punctuated by acute periods of outright famine, until Chvez stepped in as new benefactor during the early 2000s. Since that time, Cuba has received substantial financial largesse, estimated at around $5 billion dollars annually. In recent years, Havana's resale of excess oil received from Venezuela has become a crucial source of foreign currency. In exchange, Cuba provides revolutionary credibility, national camaraderie, doctors to replace Venezuela's fleeing professional class, and the services of ''advisors'' to train military intelligence and security forces.
This was an excellent deal for the Cuban regime while it lasted, but the timing of the Castros' new arrangement with the U.S. coincides with a perception that their client relationship with Venezuela has entered a period of diminishing returns. Caracas has already slashed funding for Petrocaribe, the program through which Venezuela gives subsidized oil to its other friends in the region, and the liquidity-strapped regime has even gone so far as to sell off the outstanding debts from program recipients to U.S. investment banks, who are likely to be far less forgiving in pursuing repayment. Though Cuba's own (much larger) aid package from the Venezuelans remains opaque, one regime insider recently told me that it, too, has been hard hit, cut by around 20 percent over the last few months. Despite Maduro's self-serving rhetoric, future U.S. tourism dollars, increased remittances, and access to foreign markets could easily replace the resale value of Venezuelan oil. Cuba's wily leaders have made it clear that they're more willing to offend Maduro than to risk being left standing when the salsa stops.
Cuban President Raºl Castro attends a ceremony to mark the 118th anniversary of the fall in combat of Gen. Antonio Maceo and his assistant Panchito G"mez Toro and the 25th anniversary of Operation Tribute, on Dec. 7, 2014.
Yamil Lage/AFP
This week several prominent figures from within the pro-Chvez movement have taken to social media in an effort to spin Havana's shift as anything but a sign of lost confidence in Venezuela. These commentators try to argue that the U.S. has finally been brought to heel, and that the wisdom of Hugo Chvez is almost certainly responsible for the triumph. While the role of Hugo Chvez's wisdom may be debatable, his death was clearly a factor. The U.S. and Cuba apparently began their secret talks in June 2013, mere weeks after Chvez's death and the inauguration of Maduro as president.
That the Cubans aimed to hedge their bets so early in his administration hardly comes across as a vote of confidence in Maduro. The Castros may have been slightly ahead of the curve in this respect, but Chvez's handpicked heir now faces a clear crisis of confidence across the board. His approval rating is languishing in the mid 20s, other party leaders are showing increased assertiveness and visibility, and international markets see imminent risk of a sovereign default. It is clear that few observers believe Maduro to be the man to adapt Venezuela's collapsing economy to this strange new world of sub-$60 oil '' one in which Havana may soon have its own ambassador in Washington, while Caracas does not.
Lansberg-Rodr­guez teaches on Latin America at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and is a weekly columnist for the Venezuelan daily newspaper El Nacional. His Twitter handle is @Dlansberg.
Read more of our Cuba coverage here
Read more of our Venezuela coverage here
(C) 2014, Foreign Policy
US Congress approves fresh sanctions on Venezuela '-- The Tico Times
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 02:27
Venezuelan President Nicols Maduro, center, First Lady Cilia Flores and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino L"pez attend the 190-year commemoration of the Battle of Ayacucho and grade promotion ceremony of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces at the National Pantheon in Caracas, on Dec. 9, 2014.
WASHINGTON, D.C. '' The U.S. Congress gave its final approval Wednesday to new sanctions against Venezuelan officials accused of violating the human rights of anti-government protesters this year.
Thousands of activists were arrested and more than 43 people were killed during mass demonstrations against the government of President Nicols Maduro, the elected successor of late strongman Hugo Chvez, which raged from February to May.
The U.S. hit Venezuelan government officials with travel bans in July, but lawmakers said they did not receive White House support for a sanctions bill against Caracas.
But failed efforts from Latin American allies to reform the government in Venezuela led President Barack Obama to switch his stance on increased sanctions, the White House said in November.
The sanctions, passed by the Senate on Tuesday before being approved by unanimous voice vote in the House of Representatives Wednesday, freeze assets and deny visas to Venezuelan authorities responsible for violence and political detentions triggered by the protests.
''Venezuelans deserve serious reforms, reforms they fought for peacefully earlier this year,'' House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce said.
''With the passage of today's legislation, the U.S. sends a strong message of support for all Venezuelans who yearn for freedom, democracy and the rule of law.''
House Democrat Juan Vargas said the sanctions would not hurt everyday Venezuelans.
''These sanctions won't touch the oil sectors or other vital parts of the economy, only those [officials] responsible for the crackdown,'' he said on the House floor.
Senator Robert Menendez, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate, said that ''when this bill becomes law, a spotlight will shine on Venezuela's abusers.''
The bill now heads to Obama's desk.
Despite the death of longtime Washington adversary Chvez, Maduro on several occasions has accused the United States of fomenting the protests and seeking to overthrow and even assassinate him.
On Saturday Maduro said he was reassessing diplomatic relations with Washington.
On the Origin of the 'Name' DAESH '' The Islamic State in Iraq and as-Shām pietervanostaeyen
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 06:25
On the origin of the name DAESH
It seems more and more Western media are using the derogatory DAESH when they're talking about the Islamic State in Iraq and as-Shām (commonly known as ISIS).
As nobody seems to have the faintest idea what DAESH stands for, here's an attempt to explain.
The capitals in the word DAESH point out it is an acronym of some sort. And indeed if we single out the beginning letters of the Arabic name for ISIS : اÙدÙÙØ(C) اÙاØ"ÙاميØ(C) في اÙعراق ÙاÙشام
we get the Arabic: داعش
د = Dawlat (Nation)ا = (al-) Islāmiyyaع= (fÄ'l-) 'IrāqØ´ = (wa's-) Shām (Greater Syria or the Levant)
So, roughly transcribed to the Latin alphabet that leaves us with DAESH. (The E stands for the 'ayn in 'Iraq)
At first the name DAESH was merely an acronym indeed. Activists and more moderate rebel coalitions used it as referral to Dawlat al-Islāmiyya fÄ al-Irāq wa s-Shām. But it didn't take long before all kinds of interpretations arose.
In se the Arabic word داعش doesn't even exist. But if we look at the tone of voice within circles (opposing ISIS) ever since they introduced the acronym, we might conclude the acronym has a double meaning.
Most likely ISIS opponents are referring to the Arabic verb دعØ", meaning : to thread underfoot, trample down, crush (see The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, p. 325 and 326)
Another theory is that the name refers to the Jāhiliyya (pre-Islamic) strife between two Arab tribes on the Arabian peninsula : داحØ" ÙاÙغبراØ
Dāhis wa'l-Ghabrā' can be literary translated as 'felon and dust' (seeداحØ"_ÙاÙØºØ¨Ø±Ø§Ø ). This referral seems to have a more theological background yet it seems unlikely all sources using this would have in depth knowledge of the Jāhiliyya.
Which ever theory suits best, it is quite clear that the acronym DAESH (داعش) is mostly, if not only, used by opponents of ISIS in Syria.
An example of anti ISIS propaganda using the acronym داعش
A cartoon about ISIS (original upload here) by @ibrahem_swaid
All comments welcome at @p_vanostaeyen and @SimNasr
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1,000 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne headed to Iraq - U.S. - Stripes
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 04:27
WASHINGTON '-- Approximately 1,000 paratroopers from the Army's famed 82nd Airborne Division will deploy to Iraq early next year to help the Iraqi security forces take on the Islamic State, the Pentagon announced Friday.
The soldiers from the 82nd's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Bragg, N.C., will begin to deploy in late January to train, advise and assist the ISF, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters.
Their mission is part of the coalition effort to build up the Iraqi army and Kurdish peshmerga so that they can recapture territory from Islamic State militants.
The paratroopers are preparing for a nine-month deployment, according to a spokeswoman for the 82nd Airborne.
Approximately 300 troops from other Army, Air Force and Marine Corps units will also deploy to provide ''enabler'' support in areas such as counterintelligence, logistics, and signals, Kirby said.
Last month, President Barack Obama authorized an additional 1,500 troops to deploy to Iraq to participate in the train, advise and assist mission. The deployment of elements of the 82nd Airborne is part of that initiative.
On Thursday, Lt. Gen. James Terry, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, told reporters that other countries in the coalition are expected to contribute to another 1,500-strong force for the capacity-building effort.
''The key to success out there will be increasing the capabilities of Iraqi security forces,'' Terry said.
Iraqi officials are reportedly eager to go on the offensive and retake places such as Mosul, but the U.S. military thinks the ISF aren't ready.
Terry said the training effort ''takes some patience,'' and it will take ''a minimum of three years'' to fully build the capabilities of Iraqi forces.
U.S. troops already in Iraq are laying the groundwork for the training program. But on Tuesday, Kirby said it will be ''several months'' before the formal training effort gets under way.
The plan is to train nine Iraqi army brigades and three peshmerga brigades at four training sites throughout Iraq. On Friday, Kirby declined to identify the location of the sites, saying that force protection measures are still being put in place. The additional advisers will be in Anbar province and areas north of Baghdad, according to Kirby.
He said the training and advising will take place at bases and higher headquarters, not near the front lines of the fighting.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the American military spent years and billions of dollars training and equipping the ISF to take on insurgents. Many of those units collapsed in the face of Islamic State attacks. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that about half of the Iraqi security forces that were in place before the Islamic State launched its offensives earlier this year, are ineffective.
harper.jon@stripes.comTwitter: @JHarperStripes
Foreign Fighters Bill: expanded counter-terrorism laws encroach on human rights | Human Rights in Australia | Right Now
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 06:48
Published December 17, 2014
Articles / Fair Trial Rights / Terrorism
By Rhys Ryan
The Federal Government recently made the most significant changes to Australia's counter-terrorism laws in over a decade. The changes were introduced by the Coalition under the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014 (Cth), which, with the support of Labor, was passed into law on 30 October 2014.
The new laws extend the operation of Australia's existing counter-terrorism regimes, create new criminal offences relating to terrorism, and introduce other restrictive measures and executive powers to strengthen national security. The stated purpose of the changes is to address the security threat posed by so-called ''foreign fighters'' '' people who return to Australia after participating in foreign conflicts or training with extremist groups. But many of the changes are not tailored to address this particular threat and, in practice, are likely to have a much broader application than the stated purpose.
Given the extent of the changes and the inherent impact of counter-terrorism laws on individuals' rights, it is concerning that the Foreign Fighters Bill was pushed through Parliament in an expedited timeframe. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security only allowed seven business days for public submissions to its inquiry into the Bill, prompting 43 academics and NGOs to release a joint statement expressing concern at the limited public consultation. Their concern was not unfounded, especially given the Bill's serious encroachment on fundamental human rights.
Extension of counter-terrorism regimes
Australia's current counter-terrorism laws comprise four legislative regimes introduced under the Howard administration:
control orders which are designed to control the behaviour of a person where it is considered necessary to prevent a terrorist act;preventative detention orders which allow police to detain a person for up to 14 days if there are reasonable grounds to suspect he or she is planning or will engage in a terrorist act;stop, search and seizure powers which allow police to stop and search persons, vehicles and premises and seize items that could be used in a terrorist offence; andquestioning and detention warrants which allow ASIO to immediately detain a person for questioning in connection with a possible terrorist offence.''The four counter-terrorism regimes seriously encroach on
rights to freedom of movement and freedom from arbitrary detention,
as well as rights to family, employment and education.''
Before the introduction of the Bill, these four regimes were each subject to a ten-year ''sunset clause'', meaning that the regimes were due to expire in 2015 or 2016 unless extended by a legislative amendment. The sunset clause on each regime has now been extended, such that they will continue to operate until September 2018. Before this date, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security must review the regimes to assess their operation, effectiveness and implications.
The four counter-terrorism regimes seriously encroach on rights to freedom of movement and freedom from arbitrary detention, as well as rights to family, employment and education.
The Independent National Security Legislation Monitor has previously recommended that three of the regimes be repealed on the grounds that other legislation adequately equips law enforcement agencies to combat terrorism and that the existing regimes have been underused since their introduction. In fact, only two control orders have ever been issued, preventative detention orders have only been made with respect to three people '' all during the Brisbane and Sydney terror raids in September this year '' and public records indicate that no questioning and detention warrants have ever been sought by ASIO.
Ironically, the Bill obliges the new Monitor to conduct a further review of the four regimes by 2017.
New offence for travelling to a ''declared area''
The Bill introduced a crime, punishable by up to ten years' imprisonment, for a person to travel to an area in a foreign country that has been declared by the Australian Government to be one where a listed terrorist organisation is engaging in hostile activity. Already the Government has exercised this power, with the Foreign Minister declaring Syria's al-Raqqa province '' Islamic State's de facto capital '' to be a ''declared area''.
A person suspected of travelling to a declared area may rely on a defence if their travel was for a prescribed ''legitimate purpose'' '' defined to include delivering humanitarian aid, reporting as a journalist, visiting a family member and performing official duties. The list of legitimate purposes is very narrow and does not, for example, cover business trips or visiting friends.
Of greater concern, however, is that this new offence effectively reverses the onus of proof by requiring an accused person to prove their legitimate purpose of travel. This places an unreasonable burden on a defendant and undermines the right to a fair trial.
New offence for advocating terrorism
The second offence introduced by the Bill makes it a crime for a person to intentionally advocate the doing of a terrorist act or the commission of a terrorism offence where he or she is reckless as to whether another person will actually do the act or commit the offence.
This new offence will capture a wide '' and possibly unintended '' range of conduct, and risks criminalising legitimate expressions of free speech. This is because the new concept of ''advocate'' and existing concepts of ''terrorist act'' and ''terrorism offence'' are very widely defined. For example, under the new laws, a person who recklessly promotes or encourages the threat of a terrorist act by posting a comment or video on social media in support of anti-government rebels in a foreign country, but does not actually advocate for the doing of a terrorist act, will be guilty of a crime punishable by up to five years' imprisonment.
Other restrictive measures and executive powers
The Bill has also introduced a range of restrictive measures and executive powers designed to strengthen Australia's national security:
The Foreign Affairs Minister can now suspend a person's passport for a period of 14 days if ASIO suspects on reasonable grounds that the person may leave Australia to engage in conduct that might prejudice the security of Australia or a foreign country.The Immigration Minister must now cancel a person's temporary or permanent visa if ASIO forms a reasonable suspicion that the visa holder might be, directly or indirectly, a risk to security. If the risk is confirmed, the visa holder's family members may, at the Minister's discretion, also have their visas cancelled.Customs officers now have the power to detain persons suspected of committing any federal offence that is punishable by imprisonment of 12 months or more '' greatly extending officers' previous power to only detain for offences relating to specified subject matters and punishable by imprisonment of three years or more.These new executive powers raise a number of human rights concerns. The power to suspend passports and cancel visas places a disproportionate restriction on the right to freedom of movement in circumstances where the threshold for ASIO invoking the power is very low. Giving Customs officers greater power to detain persons without charge risks infringing the right to freedom from arbitrary detention.
Protection from threats to national security is an important responsibility of the Australian Government, and human rights can be limited for this purpose. But these limitations must be absolutely necessary, proportionate and rationally connected to the threat posed.
There is a real concern that the new laws introduced by the Foreign Fighters Bill do not comply with these principles.
Rhys Ryan is a practising solicitor at a commercial law firm in Melbourne. He is a file lawyer with Justice Connect's Homeless Law clinic and recently completed a secondment to the Human Rights Law Centre.
Rectal Feeding
Kidnapped, tortured Canadian engineer rendered through Bangor | Pollways
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 04:43
Maher Arar l Photo: (by Bill Grimshaw) via The Rendition Project
Imagine you're an engineer with a degree from McGill University in Montreal.
You're on your way home from a family trip abroad and you stop at JFK Airport in New York. Suddenly your life changes.
You're seized by the CIA and shuttled about, eventually ending up in in Syria where you are tortured and ''imprisoned for nearly a year in an underground cell the size of a grave.''
In a powerful piece worth reading, journalist Marie Tessier, a Bangor resident, notes that the plane carrying Arar came through Bangor International Airport.
The plane with the tail number N829MG was a corporate-style jet with leather seats and a screen read-out to illustrate the plane's location as it hopped its way from Bangor to Rome, then the Middle East. It carried federal agents who had boarded at Dulles Airport near Washington, and Mr. Arar, a prisoner of the U.S. government.
Though he is a Canadian citizen who worked for years in the United States without incident, and the only evidence against him was that he has Canadian friends from Syria, he was a prisoner, without right of counsel or hearing.. . His wife, Monia, tending his 5-year-old daughter and 7-month-old son, knew only that he disappeared en route to Canada. [source]
After being rendered through Bangor, Arar eventually ended up in Syria, where he was held for over ten months.
This is how this completely innocent man described his initial treatment in Syria:
The beating started that day and was very intense for a week, and then less intense for another week. That second and the third days were the worst. I could hear other prisoners being tortured, and screaming and screaming. Interrogations are carried out in different rooms.One tactic they use is to question prisoners for two hours, and then put them in a waiting room, so they can hear the others screaming, and then bring them back to continue the interrogation.The cable is a black electrical cable, about two inches thick. They hit me with it everywhere on my body. They mostly aimed for my palms, but sometimes missed and hit my wrists they were sore and red for three weeks. They also struck me on my hips, and lower back. Interrogators constantly threatened me with the metal chair, tire and electric shocks. . .They used the cable on the second and third day, and after that mostly beat me with their hands, hitting me in the stomach and on the back of my neck, and slapping me on the face. Where they hit me with the cables, my skin turned blue for two or three weeks, but there was no bleeding. At the end of the day they told me tomorrow would be worse. So I could not sleep. [source]
Like many people who are tortured, Arar gave a false confession.
Arar had moved to Canada from Syria with his family in 1987 when he was 17. In 1991, at age 21, he became a Canadian citizen. Arar earned bachelors and masters degrees in Canada. He was a telecommunications engineer when this rendition happened.
Eventually he got out of this horrible situation due to the efforts of a Canadian consular official.
When I wrote about the interrogation report earlier this week, in a piece that noted that a substantial number of those tortured were innocent (one of whom died due to his treatment), some commenters said the program was necessary.
The Senate report and many others, such as Sen. John McCain, say that torture does not yield useful information. People, whether innocent or guilty, make false confessions.
Those waste intelligence agencies' time '-- like the ''wild-goose chase for black Muslim Al Qaeda operatives in Montana'' mentioned in reporter Jane Mayer's devastating piece on CIA failures.
One thing that's unquestionable is that torturing innocent people does not keep anyone safe.
Without safeguards to ensure people are those one wants to interrogate (and, if this is legal, that means without torturing them), innocent people will suffer.
Defenders of torture and rendition disdain those legal safeguards, which have long been part of our traditions and which we tout to other nations. Yet those protect us from government taking people's freedom and inflicting punishment without some sort of due process.
As you can see below, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper personally apologized to Mr. Arar. The Canadian government also gave him $10 million in compensation.
The U.S. government has neither apologized to or compensated Arar for this nightmare. We can only hope that some day President Obama will follow Harper's example. It took decades for the U.S. government to provide some justice to the Japanese-Americans interned during World War II.
Addendum: Another item worth reading is this paper's 2006 editorial about Arar's experience, which called for the state barring renditions through Maine.
Uganada [email]
ITM from your humble producer living in Uganda. After the Ebola scare the president said that not shaking hands was the new norm. And a couple of Sundays have passed since going to mass so I don't know when they went from shaking hands, kissing cheeks and wishing peace to your neighbors has turned to wiggling your fingers in a show of peace like a high five across the room, but it is now the new norm as well.
Tourism has taken a bloody nose in that security threats from Kenya, the anti homosexual act and the western African Ebola outbreak . None are which taking seriously. But what can you do, especially with the absence of a counter measure. Odd that I find myself wishing for propaganda.
NA-Tech News
Allowing acceptable ads in Adblock Plus - Agreements
Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:35
Why are agreements necessary?We have to add filters to allow ads that aren't intrusive. This cannot be an automatic process. However, this is far from trivial - the same advertising network might serve non-intrusive advertisements on some websites and intrusive ones on others. But even if all the ads meet our criteria now, there is no guarantee that things will stay that way.
To solve this problem we decided to work out agreements with websites and advertising networks that want to participate. They provide us with their ads that are deemed non-intrusive. They then have to guarantee that these ads will continue to abide by our criteria. Finally, they are required to notify us in case of any changes.
How do you verify that a company meets the requirements?Right now this is a manual process. We are working on the right tools, and we hope that our community will help us by reporting violations of our policies.
Do companies pay you for being added to the list?Whitelisting is free for all small- and medium websites and blogs. However, managing this list requires significant effort on our side and this task cannot be completely taken over by volunteers as it happens with common filter lists. That's why we are being paid by some larger properties that serve non-intrusive advertisements that want to participate in the Acceptable Ads initiative.
JLENS-Billion Dollar Surveillance Blimp to Launch over Maryland - The Intercept
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 02:15
In just a few days, the Army will launch the first of two massive blimps over Maryland, the last gasp of an 18-year-long $2.8-billion Army project intended to use giant airships to defend against cruise missiles.
And while the blimps may never stave off a barrage of enemy missiles, their ability to spot and track cars, trucks and boats hundreds of miles away is raising serious privacy concerns.
The project is called JLENS '' or ''Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System.'' And you couldn't come up with a better metaphor for wildly inflated defense contracts, a ponderous Pentagon bureaucracy, and the U.S. surveillance leviathan all in one.
Built by the Raytheon Company, the JLENS blimps operate as a pair. One provides omnipresent high-resolution 360-degree radar coverage up to 340 miles in any direction; the other can focus on specific threats and provide targeting information.
Technically considered aerostats, since they are tethered to mooring stations, these lighter-than-air vehicles will hover at a height of 10,000 feet just off Interstate 95, about 45 miles northeast of Washington, D.C., and about 20 miles from Baltimore. That means they can watch what's happening from North Carolina to Boston, or an area the size of Texas.
At one point, there were supposed to be nearly three dozen blimps. But after a series of operational failures and massive cost overruns, the program was dramatically scaled back to the two existing prototypes that the Army plans to keep flying continuously above the Aberdeen Proving Ground for three years, except for maintenance and foul weather.
As soon the blimps are up, if you're driving on the interstate north of Baltimore, you won't be able to miss them. They are 80 yards long and their total volume is somewhere around 600,000 cubic feet. That's about the size of three Goodyear blimps. Or over 3,500 white elephants
''There's something inherently suspect for the public to look up in the sky and see this surveillance device hanging there,'' says Ginger McCall, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), an advocacy group. ''It's the definition of persistent surveillance.''
Army officials claim they have no interest in monitoring anything other than missiles, or maybe boats. But JLENS can detect plenty more than that.
''A lot of people may hear radar and they picture a fuzzy green screen with little blips. But today's radar is significantly more sophisticated than that and is in some ways akin to a camera,'' warns Jay Stanley, a privacy expert for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Raytheon promotional material touts a recent test, when the JLENS radar ''simultaneously detected and tracked double-digit swarming boats, hundreds of cars and trucks, non-swarming boats and manned and unmanned aircraft.''
Aerostats like JLENS aren't limited to radar. If equipped with extremely high-resolution video cameras, they can see and record everything for miles, with extraordinary detail. In Kabul, for example, residents are used to seeing the U.S. military's tethered aerostat'--called the Persistent Ground Surveillance system'--hovering above the city, capturing video of daily life below.
The Army insists that there will be no cameras on JLENS for now. In a test last year, however, Raytheon equipped one of the blimps with an MTS-B Multi-Spectral Targeting System that provides both day and night imaging, laser designation, and laser illumination capabilities.
The result: JLENS operators could ''watch live feed of trucks, trains and cars from dozens of miles away.'' They also watched Raytheon employees ''simulate planting a roadside improvised explosive device.''
Maj.Beth Smith, the spokesperson for the JLENS program, says the Army isn't planning to spy on anyone. JLENS ''has no cameras, it has no video, nor is it tracking any people,'' she says. ''It does not possess the capability to see people.''
And while it can see cars, ''for the purposes of this test, we have no intent to track any vehicles. Well, any civilian vehicles.''
Back in 2005, the Army planned to have Raytheon build 32 blimps at a cost of about $180 million each. But growing doubts and hemorrhaging costs, along with the destruction of one blimp in a collision, led the Pentagon to hit the brakes in 2012. There would be no more new blimps, just testing for the prototypes that had already been constructed.
That brings the price tag for the two remaining blimps to around $1.4 billion each, if development costs are counted. (Technically, there's another duo mothballed in storage in the Utah desert, but there are no current plans to use them.) That's serious money, even by federal government standards.
Raytheon trumpets the results of several successful tests of the system, including an August 2013 demonstration in which JLENS helped an F-15 knock a mock cruise missile out of the sky. But a blistering analysis from the Pentagon's Operational Test & Evaluation office for fiscal year 2013 found that testing had been inadequate and that JLENS needed improvement in critical areas, including ''non-cooperative target recognition, friendly aircraft identification capabilities, and target track consistency'' '' i.e. telling the difference between friends and enemies.
The testing report found JLENS failed to meet its goals for reliability, because of both software and hardware problems, that it was too dependent on good weather, and that it ''did not demonstrate the ability to survive in its intended operational environment.''
Indeed, one blimp got totaled at its manufacturing and test facility in North Carolina in September 2010 after it was struck by a different dirigible moored nearby that had broken loose in a storm. The Army and Raytheon sat on the news for more than six months, until saw a mention of the collision in a GAO report.
The crash cost the Army another $168 million.
And the money keeps on flowing. Just two weeks ago, the Army awarded Raytheon another contract, this one for $12 million simply to keep the blimps maintained for the next six months
Raytheon has tried to assuage privacy concerns in a few of the ''Frequently Asked Questions'' from its promotional material, which insists that JLENS cannot be used to track individual people.
''Radars can tell that something is moving, but because of the way radars work, they simply can't determine identifying characteristics of cars, such as make, model or color,'' Raytheon says. ''Along similar lines, they can't tell who is driving the vehicle or see a license plate.''
Maj. Nelson insists that ''JLENS is an elevated radar system and has no task to monitor ground targets. It does not organically store any radar data.''
Even so, radar can track hundreds of square miles of traffic, and the real question is what the Army will do with that data.
Extensive redactions in the hundreds of pages of contracting documents related to JLENS in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by EPIC leave the true scope of the project unclear.
One EPIC researcher poring through the documents found an alarming passage. The Army's contract with Raytheon, it said, will be evaluated based on its ''potential to grow to accommodate new and/or alternative missions.''
Talk to blimp experts, and they'll tell you what blimps are good for.
''They're wonderful for staring at things,'' says Ed Herlik, a former Air Force officer and technology analyst with a particular interest in airships. ''That's what the Israelis use them for.''
And it's not just their ability to document what they see that's so valuable; it's the psychological effect. ''If you put a camera in a sky over an area where you expect a lot of unrest, the area will calm down,'' he says.
The ACLU's Jay Stanley says the Army's promises are not enough.
''I'm sure that the people who are giving us these assurances mean everything they say, but the nature of government programs and government agencies is that things tend to expand and privacy protections tend to shrink.''
What the program needs, according to Stanley, is oversight and it doesn't have that now. ''If we're going to have massive blimps hovering over civilian areas, or within radar-shot of civilian areas, then we need some very ironclad checks and balances that will provide confidence that there's no domestic surveillance going on,'' Stanley says.
Federal privacy regulations currently don't apply. ''JLENS does not operate under privacy rules,'' Smith, the spokesperson for JLENS, explains. ''It is a military radar and as such carries no electro-optical or infrared cameras, nor does it have acoustic or electronic surveillance capability. There is no ability to 'listen' to cellular or radio traffic, nor can it optically 'see' any ground objects.''
For now, the closest thing to public oversight will be a media day at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds on Wednesday, where the Army will give reporters a chance to ooh and ah during an up-close look at one of the blimps, fully inflated with enough helium to fill about two million nine-inch latex party balloons.
But even this blimp isn't ready for its much-delayed launch. And the other one isn't even inflated yet.
Photos: Raytheon
JLENS-Raytheon: Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS)
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 02:15
Airplanes, drones and cruise missiles pose a significant threat to people, population centers, key infrastructure and our military. That's where JLENS, a blimp-borne radar system made by Raytheon, comes in.
JLENS, which is short for Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, is a system of two aerostats, or tethered airships, that float 10,000 feet in the air. The helium filled aerostats, each nearly as long as a football field, carry powerful radars that can protect a territory roughly the size of Texas from airborne threats.
JLENS: Taking Defense to New HeightsJLENS provides 360-degrees of defensive radar coverage and can detect and track objects like missiles, and manned and unmanned aircraft from up to 340 miles away. JLENS can also remain aloft and operational for up to 30 days at a time. This potent combination of persistence and capability give defenders more time and more distance to:
Identify potential threatsMake critical decisionsConduct crucial notificationsJLENS allows the military to safeguard hundreds of miles of territory at a fraction of the cost of fixed wing aircraft, and it can integrate with defensive systems including:
One JLENS system, known as an orbit, can provide the same 24/7 coverage for a 30-day period that 4-5 fixed wing surveillance aircraft (AWACS, JSTARS or E-2C) can provide.
Depending on the kind of aircraft used, a fixed-wing surveillance aircraft is 500-700% more expensive to operate than a JLENS during that same time period because of manpower, maintenance and fuel costs.A JLENS orbit uses less than 50% of the manpower it requires to fly a fixed wing aircraft.
South Sudan Hires Ex-Blackwater Chief to Restore War-Damaged Oil Facilities - Bloomberg
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 02:39
The former head of U.S. security company Blackwater USA, Erik Prince, was hired by South Sudan to help repair damaged oil facilities and boost output cut by a year of civil war.
Prince's Frontier Services Group Ltd. (500), a Hong Kong-listed logistics and transportation company, is being paid 18.7 million euros ($23.3 million) by South Sudan's Ministry of Petroleum to transport supplies and perform maintenance on production facilities at the oil fields, Chief Executive Officer Gregg Smith said by phone from New York yesterday. About 30 employees including pilots, engineers and logistics technicians have been using helicopters and airplanes to reach South Sudan's oil fields since September, Smith said.
''This is not supporting the army,'' Smith said. ''The contract is clearly with the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining to support the oil field services and to make sure the production of oil keeps flowing.''
South Sudan's oil output, which provides almost all the government's revenue, has fallen by at least a third to about 160,000 barrels per day since fighting erupted last December when a power struggle within the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement turned violent. Petroleum Ministry spokesman Nicodemus Ajak Bior didn't return e-mails requesting comment and couldn't be reached by phone.
''We have no security contract, we have no training contract, it is purely logistic support, largely aviation based,'' Smith said. ''Our men are not armed, our security is provided by the government of South Sudan.''
Crude ProducersArmy commanders rebelled in three states, including crude-producing Unity and Upper Nile, after President Salva Kiir arrested rivals for allegedly plotting a coup. Members of the Nuer community accused Dinka soldiers loyal to the president of targeting them.
Tens of thousands of people have died in the fighting, while almost 2 million others have fled their homes, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this week. Clashes between rebels and government forces have continued even after representatives signed a series of agreements to cease hostilities.
China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and India's Oil & Natural Gas Corp. produce most of South Sudan's crude. The companies evacuated some staff from the country because of the conflict.
Rebel ThreatsUpper Nile is the only region still producing oil after wells were shut down last December because of the violence. Frontier Resource Group, a private equity company also founded by Prince, in May said it had suspended plans to build an oil refinery in the country's north.
Rebels in March vowed to target oil fields still controlled by the army to starve the government of revenue. In April they temporarily seized Unity's state capital and demanded oil companies in government-held territory leave within a week. Insurgents later withdrew from the city.
Prince ran Blackwater from 1997 to 2010, when the company earned an estimated $1 billion in U.S. government contracts. Now he's the chairman of Frontier Services, which is investing in Africa using cash from Asian investors including Citic Group, China's largest state-owned group of companies.
The company is looking to fill a niche in South Sudan and is one of only a few international companies willing to take the risk in Upper Nile and Unity, said Luke Patey, an oil researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies.
'Gutsy Move'''It's a pretty gutsy move,'' he said by phone from Copenhagen. ''Rebel forces, militias, all operate in those areas and they will have a new target that is basically transporting the means to the oil fields that allows the South Sudanese government to arm itself.''
A 45 percent slump in oil prices this year has taken its toll on South Sudan's oil-reliant economy, Patey said. ''They need to increase production to make up the gap and maybe they're willing to take these risks.''
Smith said Frontier Services has had ''preliminary discussions'' with Chinese oil companies and their partners that are struggling because of intense fighting near their oil facilities.
''We have not agreed to do anything for them,'' he said. ''No one has settled on anything yet because the situation up there is pretty bad.''
Global Witness, a London-based corruption watchdog, said South Sudan's oil industry is becoming ''increasingly secretive.''
'Huge Influence'''Combined with his contract to build a refinery, this deal gives Prince a huge amount of influence in the world's newest state,'' the group's South Sudan campaigner, Emma Vickers, said by e-mail.
''The government must fulfill on its commitment to transparency and take steps to ensure its population that their relationship with him is proper,'' she said.
Smith said Frontier Services hopes to progress from contracting for South Sudan's government to becoming a service provider as companies return to full production.
Chinese and Malaysian oil companies may be open to Frontier's help now, Patey said. That may not be the case once fighting ends, he said.
''Post-conflict they may be somewhat wary of letting someone into their terrain, into their market,'' he said.
South Sudan seceded from neighboring Sudan in July 2011 and took three-quarters of the formerly united country's oil output. The landlocked country currently exports all its crude through pipelines across Sudan.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ilya Gridneff in Nairobi at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at Michael Gunn, Karl Maier
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Russian news: Why the Western Media Will Never Show Putin's Three Hour Press Conference - Russia Insider
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 03:48
Could President Obama speak in front of hundreds of journalists for over three hours, unscripted and without a teleprompter? Highly doubtful.
How about Hillary? Can Mrs. Clinton take on the local and international press in an honest, nothing off limits, press Q & A'....once again for over three hours and no teleprompter to assist. No chance.
What about John McCain. Could Senator McCain field intelligent questions for over three hours (let alone 15 minutes) without resorting to name calling, warmongering or regime change rhetoric? Please!
Cameron, Hollande, Merkel' way. European leaders are puppets to US policy and could probably not even string together thirty minutes of independent thought, let alone three hours of live debate.
What we saw today, for the 10th time, is about as transparent as any world leader can get'...and western man stream media hates Putin, and Russia for this.
Putin's tenth annual press conference format, length, and total transparency are all the facts any sane, brain functioning human being needs in order to easily deduce that all the western leader rants and main stream media propaganda about Russian aggression, Hitler comparisons, and dictator aspirations are all flat out lies.
Their is not one dictator on the planet, not one ruler alive today, not one President or Prime Minister in power, who has the balls and guts to sit in front of so many local and international journalists and answer every single question thrown at him or her with just a pen and paper handy.
Putin took questions from Ukrainian journalists, the BBC, Reuters, FT'...just about every news outlet that crudely crucifies him on a daily basis, he engaged with in an open and honest debate in front of the whole entire world to see.
Nothing was hidden, and man was it refreshing to watch. If only my President was this open and forthcoming.
What we saw today was exactly why America, Europe, and the entire main stream media cabal despises Vladimir Putin.
The last thing any of the western nations want is transparency and public debate. They prefer to operate in the shadows, keep their citizens fully zombified. They would never expose their leaders to unscripted events like this tenth annual press conference.
The closest thing western countries have to what we saw today in Moscow is Jen Psaki's State Department press briefings, which are more stand up comedy, than intelligent discussion.
The west can hate on Putin all they want'...until I see Obama, Cameron, or Merkel pull off what this man just did (for the tenth consecutive year in a row) then step off. 'Haters gonna hate.'
PIPELINE-Vladimir Putin invites Kim Jong-un to Moscow | World news | The Guardian
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 05:02
Kim Jong-un will visit Vladimir Putin in Moscow next year to mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany. AP Photograph: AP
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has invited the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, to Moscow next year to mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany in the second world war, the Kremlin's spokesman said on Friday.
It would be Kim's first foreign visit since taking the helm of the reclusive east Asian state in 2011. His personal envoy travelled to Moscow last month as part of efforts by the two Cold War-era allies to improve relations.
''Yes, such an invitation was sent,'' a Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told the state news agency, Tass. Russia marks the former Soviet Union's 1945 victory every year on 9 May.
Moscow needs North Korean cooperation to boost its natural gas exports to South Korea as Gazprom would like to build a gas pipeline through North Korea to reach its southern neighbour.
Pyongyang is also seeking support from Russia, a permanent veto-wielding member of the UN security council, against international criticism relating to accusations of human rights abuses and its nuclear programme.
A UN committee passed a resolution last month calling for the security council to consider referring North Korea to the international criminal court for alleged crimes against humanity.
The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has also said North Korea is ready to resume the stalled international talks on its nuclear programme.
North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States began talks in 2003 to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons, but they were suspended after Pyongyang tested nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009.
De Blasio, Sharpton 'Have Blood on Their Hands' | Live Trading News
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 14:24
Posted by: : Paul EbelingPosted on: December 20, 2014De Blasio, Sharpton 'Have Blood on Their Hands'
Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said that Saturday's execution-style shooting of 2 uniformed police officers was encouraged by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Rev. Al Sharpton, and ''they have blood on their hands.''
''de Blasio, Sharpton and all those who encouraged this anti-cop, racist mentality all have blood on their hands,'' he said. ''They have blood on their hands.''
The 2 police officers were shot about 3 p EST, while sitting in their marked car in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn by a man identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley.
He wounded his girlfriend in a shooting in Baltimore before driving to New York and ambushing the officers, according to the the media.
Mr. Brinsley, who reportedly belonged to a gang, later killed himself on a crowded Brooklyn subway platform as police closed in on him. He bragged on his Instagram page just hours before that he wanted to kill police officers, according to the reports.
Investigators said that Mr. Brinsley was avenging the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown by killing the officers.
Mr. Kerik said in an interview, that the officers' deaths resulted from a climate created by Messrs de Blasio, Sharpton and other New York City officials.
''This guy's intent '-- based on that Instagram post '-- was retribution for Eric Garner and Michael Brown,'' he said. ''The people who encouraged these protests, you had peaceful protesters who were screaming 'kill the cops' the so-called peaceful protesters.
The Bigg Q: Who was encouraging these protesters?
Messrs De Blasio, Sharpton and other elected officials and community leaders. They encouraged this mentality. They encouraged this behavior.
''They encouraged it '-- and these 2 cops are dead because of people like them,'' Mr. Kerik said. ''They don't owe the cops an apology. An apology isn't good enough. They have blood on their hands.''
Later, mr. Kerik called for peaceful citizen demonstrations over the deaths of the NYC police officers.
''What I want to see is a day of outrage, I want to see protests for the 2 cops that are lying dead tonight.''
Stay tuned'...
Paul Ebeling
The following two tabs change content below.Paul Ebeling is best known for his work as writer and publisher of ''The Red Roadmaster's Technical Report'' on the US Major Market Indices', a highly-regarded, weekly financial market letter, where he enjoys an international audience among opinion makers, business leaders, and respected organizations. Something of a pioneer in online stock market and commodities discussion and analysis, Ebeling has been online since 1994. He has studied and worked in the global financial and stock markets since 1984.
Ministry of Truth
Sponsored content, advertisement features and content supported by foundations | Info | The Guardian
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 14:15
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'Sponsored by' is used to describe editorially independent content. We accept funding from sponsors both for content we are already producing, where using funds from a sponsor allows us to provide more in depth coverage, and for new projects.
Before sponsorship is agreed with a client, relevant senior editors are consulted about its suitability and the editor-in-chief has the final say on whether a sponsorship deal is accepted.
A sponsor whose branding appears on editorial content may have a role in suggesting what kind of topics are covered, but the commissioning editor is not obliged to accept ideas from the sponsor. The content is written and edited by Guardian and Observer journalists, or those approved by GNM, to the same standards expected in all of our journalism. GNM will not show copy to sponsors for approval.
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'Brought to you by' is used to describe advertisement features that are paid for and controlled by the advertiser rather than the publisher and are subject to regulation by the Advertising Standards Authority. This content is produced by commercial departments and does not involve GNM staff journalists.
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'Supported by' is used to describe editorially independent content that the Guardian has produced with funding from foundations around the world who support specific projects.
Examples of foundation funding include:
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' This article was updated on 24 September 2014
Agenda 21
Ebay joins Google and others in dumping Alec over climate stance | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 14:18
Ebay is the latest tech firm to leave the right wing lobby group Alec over climate change issues. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA
Ebay announced on Thursday it's severing ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) because of the lobbying group's views on climate change. The online marketplace is the latest technology firm to part ways with the rightwing organization over environmental concerns.
''After our annual review of eBay's memberships in trade associations and third-party organizations, we've decided not to renew our membership with Alec,'' an eBay spokesperson said.
In September, Eric Schmidt announced Google would be leaving Alec because ''they're just literally lying'' about climate change. This prompted a wave of departures from other tech companies, including Facebook and Yelp, over similar concerns. Microsoft had previously left Alec in July.
The current exodus from Alec marks a change from a previous round of departures, in which companies left Alec over concerns about its stance on ''stand your ground'' legislation.
Environmental activists welcomed eBay's move. ''This is a major victory for those of us who have continued to pressure eBay executives to drop Alec,'' said Ryan Canney, senior campaigner from the NGO Forecast the Facts.
Nick Surgey, director of research at the Center for Media and Democracy, said: ''[Nearly] Alec's entire tech membership has abandoned them over climate denial.''
Remaining Alec members include tobacco, telecommunications and fossil fuel companies, prompting the question of whether Alec will move away from tech issues and focus on the interests of its remaining members.
''You have to question whether Alec will continue to even work on tech issues,'' Surgey said.
Jonah Sachs, co-founder and CEO of Free Range, said that beneath the surface of the decision to leave the conservative group might be a concern over the economics of tackling climate change. ''Some of these companies are having to deal with the issue of whether completely free, unregulated markets can deal with the problem of climate change,'' Sachs said.
Canney added: ''With eBay out, we're looking to AT&T, Verizon, FedEx and UPS to follow suit and distance themselves from Alec's extreme climate denial agenda. If they choose to stay with Alec, we'll be taking the issue to their customers, shareholders and employees.''
Alec wasn't immediately available to respond to requests for comment as its communications team is ''home for the holidays'', according to multiple automated email replies.
Update: This article has been updated to include more comments.
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VIDEO-Megatron is Not a Fan of Selfies
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 15:00
Universal Studios in Hollywood recently offered guests a photo op with a performer dressed very impressively as Megatron, one of the main baddies in Transformers. It turns out Megatron is not a fan of selfies.
When Alexandra Trew walked up and tried to snap one, she ended up capturing this video of the villain ranting about selfies and arguing how people need to learn to live in the moment.Here are the strangely eloquent words spoken by the giant robot:
You will not receive a selfie so long as you stand before me with your ridiculous furred hoodie! When will you learn that your status updates mean zero-to-nothing to anyone, ever! It doesn't matter which social network you post it on '-- worthless! Use your mind, create new memories, interact, don't just add it to a library of forgotten photographs! Ugh, how disappointing your generation is.
It seems like Megatron is pretty consistent about his ''no selfie'' policy with all the visitors to the studio. Here's another ''selfie block'' captured on camera:
(H/T Laughing Squid)
VIDEO- CIA Torture Report - Former CIA employee Says Torture Is Not The Answer - YouTube
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 04:12
VIDEO-President Park ancitipates ASEAN'²s role in her inter-Korean unification drive - YouTube
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 04:00
VIDEO-Psaki Denies Sony Email Claim That State Dept Approved Kim Jong Un Assassination Scene - YouTube
Sun, 21 Dec 2014 03:52
VIDEO-Sony exec fires back at President Obama - Dec. 19, 2014
Sat, 20 Dec 2014 16:56
In an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, Lynton also reopened the door to a future release of the controversial comedy, saying the company is considering some sort of release on the Internet.
Sony followed up on Lynton's remarks with a statement that read, in part, "It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so."
The company declined to comment on whether any distributors have agreed to help the company with that.
In his CNN interview, Lynton said "the president, the press and the public are mistaken" about what actually led to Sony's decision to shelve the "The Interview."
"We do not own movie theaters," Lynton said. "We cannot determine whether or not a movie will be played in movie theaters." (Watch the entire interview on "Fareed Zakaria GPS" Sunday at 10 am or 1 pm.)
Lynton said he would be "fibbing" to say he "wasn't disappointed" in Obama's remarks.
"I don't know exactly whether he understands the sequence of events that led up to the movie not being shown in the movie theaters," Lynton said. "Therefore I would disagree with the notion that it was a mistake."
Lynton's response came just hours after a White House press conference where Obama criticized Sony's decision.
The president said that pulling the film could set a dangerous precedent.
"We cannot have a society in which some dictators someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States," Obama said. "Imagine what they start doing once they see a documentary that they don't like or news reports that they don't like."
The press conference came after the FBI confirmed Friday that North Korea was behind last month's cyberattack that caused a devastating breach of Sony's data.
Earlier this week, Sony canceled the film's Christmas Day release after major movie chains pulled out one day after a threat by the hackers invoking September 11th. The hackers then sent a message to Sony executives saying they had made a "very wise" decision not to show the movie.
In Friday's CNN interview, Lynton went on to say that Sony had not "caved" to the hackers.
"We have not given in. And we have not backed down. We have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie," Lynton said.
Since the cancellation on Wednesday, many have speculated that Sony could release the film online. The company owns an online video site called Crackle, though it is only ad-supported and does not have the capability to charge subscriptions, an option Sony almost certainly wants so that it can recoup some of the costs of the movie.
Lynton told CNN that Sony had "a number of options open to us and we have considered those and are considering them."
But he also said that no "major video on demand distributor" has been "willing to distribute" the film. "We don't have that direct interface with the American public, so we need to go through an intermediary to do that."
Lynton's comments were the first public confirmation that Sony had, indeed, pursued a digital release.
Sony's statement later on Friday said that after the theaters rejected the film, "we immediately began actively surveying alternatives to enable us to release the movie on a different platform."
"It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so," the statement said.
Netflix, one obvious possibility, declined to comment on any talks with Sony on Friday afternoon.
Other potential distributors did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
First Published: December 19, 2014: 3:53 PM ET
VIDEO-North Korea responds to allegations of Sony cyberattack -
Sat, 20 Dec 2014 16:50
By Holly Yan and Kyung Lah, CNN
updated 11:26 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
North Korea warns of "serious consequences" if the U.S. keeps tying it to the attack"We will not tolerate the people who are willing to insult our supreme leader," it says"But even when we retaliate, we will not conduct terror against innocent moviegoers"Sony Pictures canceled the release of "The Interview" after a cyberattack blamed on North Korea(CNN) -- North Korea slammed U.S. claims that the regime is responsible for a cyberattack on Sony Pictures -- and then proposed the two countries work together.
"Whoever is going to frame our country for a crime should present concrete evidence," the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Saturday.
"America's childish investigation result and its attempt to frame us for this crime shows their hostile tendency towards us."
But in a rare move, the North Korean regime said both countries should work together.
"While America has been criticized by its own public and continues to point the finger at us, we suggest mutual investigation with America on this case," KCNA said.
"If America refuses our proposal of mutual investigation, continues to link us to this case, and talk about actions in response, they (America) will be met with serious consequences."
FBI pinpoints North Korea
The FBI announced Monday North Korea is responsible for the cyberattack on Sony Pictures. An FBI investigation linked the malware, infrastructure and techniques used by a group of hackers called "Guardians of Peace" in the Sony attack to previous North Korean cyberattacks.
How the Sony hack unfolded
Sony Hack Timeline
The hackers broke into Sony's servers, published private emails and information, and threatened to attack movie theaters screening "The Interview," a comedy film about an assassination plot on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday that Sony Pictures made a mistake in canceling the release of the movie.
"I am sympathetic to the concerns that they face," Obama said Friday. "Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake. Let's not get into that way of doing business."
North Korea rejected the notion that it would attack "innocent moviegoers."
"We will not tolerate the people who are willing to insult our supreme leader, but even when we retaliate, we will not conduct terror against innocent moviegoers," KCNA said.
"The retaliation will target the ones who are responsible and the originators of the insults. Our army has the intention and ability to do (so)."
Analyst: We underestimated North Korea
The show maygo on
Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton rebuffed Obama's criticism in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, saying his company did not make a mistake.
He said the decision to pull back from the planned December 25 release was based on major movie theater companies telling Sony that they would not screen the film.
"We have not caved. We have not given in," Lynton said. "We have persevered, and we have not backed down. We have always had the desire to have the American public see this movie."
And despite enduring what he called "the worst cyberattack in American history," Lynton said his studios would make the movie again. But in retrospect, he may have "done some things slightly differently."
A defiant Sony scrambles to find a way out for 'The Interview'
CNN's Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto and Jeremy Diamond and journalist Yoonjung Seo contributed to this report.
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