Obama Strikes Back. Trump Remains Calm. Putin Remains Calm. Scott Adams on Climate Change; A Long History of Hacking

Friday, December 30, 2016


Happy New Year


firewk-blue    firewk-grn


“Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Immigration without assimilation is invasion.



Debbie Reynolds, longtime America’s sweetheart, died of a broken heart; if there were ever any doubts about that being a legitimate diagnosis, those doubts should be expelled now. I met her a couple of times in Los Vegas when she owned a hotel there; she would come down to the lobby and talk with people standing in line, or just staying there. She wouldn’t have remembered me, but she was hard to forget. I remember being in love with her as a young man; of course I had never met her and never thought I would. RIP


Someone has gone mad. It may be me, but I don’t think so. President Obama seems to be doing his best to alienate Israel, cause problems – possibly even war – with Russia, import more unvetted migrants from dangerous parts of the world, and more; and to do all this in the last few days he is in office. Actually he’s not even in office. He’s playing golf and swimming in Hawaii.


The intelligence people say – or some of them say – that they have proof that the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee with the intention of gathering embarrassing documents that, if leaked, would aid Trump against Hillary. They have presented no evidence for this statement; of course, being the CIA, they could have good reason for withholding evidence if it would endanger sources or compromise techniques. What is known about the hacks and what evidence is available to the public is summarized here:

Here’s the Public Evidence Russia Hacked the DNC — It’s Not Enough

Sam Biddle

December 14 2016, 8:30 a.m.

There are some good reasons to believe Russians had something to do with the breaches into email accounts belonging to members of the Democratic party, which proved varyingly embarrassing or disruptive for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. But “good” doesn’t necessarily mean good enough to indict Russia’s head of state for sabotaging our democracy.[snip]


Presumably acting on classified information that is more convincing than what is available to the public, President Obama acted.

Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking


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WASHINGTON — President Obama struck back at Russia on Thursday for its efforts to influence the 2016 election, ejecting 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives from the United States and imposing sanctions on Russia’s two leading intelligence services.

The administration also penalized four top officers of one of those services, the powerful military intelligence unit known as the G.R.U.[snip]

This is the most severe diplomatic action President Obama has ever taken, and he has done it in the his last days in office. Apparently it was not enough for the neocons, who seem determined to get us into a shooting war with Russia.

Obama’s Russia Sanctions Put Trump, Hill GOP on Collision Course

Putin punishment among list of clashes Trump could have with own party

– See more at: http://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/obamas-russia-sanctions-put-trump-hill-gop-collision-course#sthash.R9Agofcg.dpuf




President-elect Donald Trump’s opposition to President Barack Obama’s retaliation against Russia for trying to influence the U.S. election will immediately pit him against the hawkish wing of the Republican party. And it soon could force him to veto additional penalties supported by his own party.

The White House on Thursday revealed a set of economic sanctions and other penalties intended to squeeze Russian leaders for backing and — as Obama administration officials have acknowledged — being directly involved in hacking email servers designed to help Trump defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The Obama administration announced that it has imposed sanctions on Russia over its hacking during the U.S. election. The punitive measures target nine entities and individuals: two Russian intelligence services, four intelligence officers and three companies that provide support to Russian cyber operations.

The administration is also expelling 35 Russian officials stationed either at the embassy in Washington or the consulate in San Francisco. The individuals and their families have been given 72 hours to leave the U.S. And a senior administration official told reporters those actions are not the lone ones Washington implemented, signaling covert retaliation, as well.

But the senior official said Obama’s moves came via executive actions, meaning Trump could reverse any or all of the moves after he is sworn in on Jan. 20.[snip]

Fortunately, Mr. Trump has called for calm.

Mr. Putin may or may not wait to see what Trump will do before he orders retaliation. Exactly what Putin will do is unclear, but he is as aware of the real world as Mr. Trump is. All nations listen in on each other’s telephone calls – we were recently caught tapping the Brazilian President’s phone, and during the Cold War we even dug a tunnel under The Wall into the basement of the East Berlin Stasi headquarters to enhance our abilities to listen in on their calls to Moscow – and hacking goes on in all nations against all other nations all the time, as did telephone tapping and bugging before hacking was possible.

When I was Co-Director of Sam Yorty’s third campaign for Mayor of Los Angeles (we won) we rented offices in a suite on Wilshire Blvd. that had long been used as campaign headquarters for various offices and by both parties. I had a sweep done of my office, and found 21 bugs, some old carbon microphones that must have been in there for 20 years. We cleared them all out, but I couldn’t be sure we had them all. This is not an uncommon story.

In 1929 Secretary of State Henry Stimson shut down the Army’s Black Chamber (founded by poker expert Herbert Yardley) on the grounds that “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail”; but those days are long gone. Code breaking – hacking – was common by all major powers and the US breaking of the Japanese military code (the code name was Purple) had a great effect on war operations including our decisive victory at Midway. Every government hacks every other government, and everyone involved knows it. The more skilled hackers don’t leave many clues behind; the most skilled don’t leave any evidence that they were successful, or even tried. You may assume that both NSA (the direct successor to Yardley’s Black Chamber) and the GRU employ highly skilled hackers, who left little or no direct evidence of their identity, or even that they have been in each other’s servers.

It can be assumed that (1) the Russians hacked government computers, possibly including the Democratic National Committee’s computer; and (2) they left no solid evidence behind. The President has expelled 35 Russian diplomats three weeks before he leaves office, and he has done so without consulting the incoming President.

He has also changed our historic policy toward Israel without any warning; and Mr. Trump has been castigated for commenting on it since we have only one President at a time. True; but in the past lame duck Presidents did not change major foreign policies a few days before leaving office.

Trump and outrageous
In a recent post, you ruminated on the observation that Trump’s staff was not prone to making outrageous comments, and that this suggested something about his personnel selection. From that comment, I’m tempted to conclude that you would agree that Mr. Trump himself is prone to making outrageous remarks.
It is obvious that this habit did not hurt him enough to cost him the election, and might have even been viewed positively by some of his supporters. I wonder if you think this habit will serve him well, or poorly, once he is actually President?


The neocons want war. Apparently the President is willing to help them get it. Mr. Trump is the voice of calm.

2205 Friday, Dec. 30:

Vladimir Putin Won’t Expel U.S. Diplomats as Russian Foreign Minister Urged


MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia announced Friday that he would not retaliate against President Obama’s decision to expel Russian diplomats and impose new sanctions — only hours after his foreign minister recommended doing just that.

Mr. Putin, betting on improved relations with the next American president, said he would not eject 35 diplomats or close any diplomatic facilities, rejecting a tit-for-tat response to the actions taken on Thursday by the Obama administration.

The switch was remarkable, given that Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, had just recommended the retaliation in remarks broadcast live on national television. He called for punitive measures mirroring the ones imposed by the Obama administration, which accuses Russia of intimidating American diplomats and hacking institutions like the Democratic National Committee to influence the 2016 election. [snip]

Apparently. Mr. Putin remains calm as well. We do not what further provocations Mr. Obama plans, but he cannot be pleased by this response.

It is widely believed in Russia that the CIA interfered in the Ukrainian elections, and probably in the Russian Presidential elections as well.  I have not seen their evidence, but my information about the beliefs is reasonably well founded.




Congressional Cybersecurity Leader Demolishes Obama’s Hacking Case Against Russia

All that’s left of the Russian hacking case is the emotional hype about what turns out to be a non issue.


Jim Himes, a Congressional leader in the oversight of the National Security Agency and US cybersecurity, has just torpedoed Obama’s case against Russia.
Obama has revealed his intentions to attack Russia in retaliation for alleged hacking of Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails. He’s offered no substantiation for his accusations. The evidence he and others have cited does not check out. What’s more the allegations have never been addressed by the UN or any other competent international security agency.
But the lack of substantiation is actually beside the point. The primary issue is that countries covertly gathering information from other countries is nothing new, and is certainly not unique to Russia.
The US, for example, was caught hacking telephone conversations of the German Chancellor and the president of Brazil.
The other part of Obama’s allegation is that Russia has interfered with the US process of selecting political leadership. I don’t know whether that’s true or not. But so what. How does that matter? There are plenty of examples available of America’s insinuating itself decisively into leadership issues of other countries. There’s nothing new or unique here either.
Himes’ torpedo of Obama’s case against Putin came this morning when he was interviewed on MSNBC about the Russian hacking. Himes clearly asserted, “We’re better than them in hacking into networks.” Bingo. There’s the admission. Let me repeat what he said, “We’re better than them in hacking into networks.”
Obama himself admitted at today’s press conference that “there is hacking going on every single day,” and went on to explain that the United States has offensive capabilities, not simply defensive ones.[snip]


Interesting “take” on climate change debate…


“I don’t know the underlying truth of climate science. But I do know a lot about persuasion. And I can say with complete confidence that if you are a non-scientist, and you have certainty about your opinion on climate science, you are hallucinating about the capacity of your own brain.”

Charles Brumbelow

I pretty well agree with Scott Adams on this.

And then there’s this…

100% Of US ‘Warming’ Is Due To NOAA Data Tampering.



Roland Dobbins

Long, complex, but pretty well makes the case that we don’t really know…


Russian hacking

Dear Dr. Pournelle,

Happy New Year! I’m glad to see you and Robert have survived the 2016 celebrity massacre!

At any rate, the FBI has released this report which is being hyped by huffpo.


I think it’s an interesting look into Russian tradecraft , but I don’t see anything obviously earthshaking about it. Russian intelligence agencies steal data, color me surprised. Still interesting from a technical perspective.


Brian P.


Engineering shortage or cost?

Dr. Pournelle,
As a >50 year old, white, unemployed engineer in a country with our history of H1B hiring, I am skeptical of any claimed shortage of engineers. Subjectively, it seems to me that the real “failure” is in the HR sub-industry, in which the more experienced (and therefore more expensive) are eliminated from consideration. In my own job hunting and on those occasions that I’ve been a part of an interview team for engineering positions, I’ve observed jobs going unfilled because of corporate red tape and personnel office complications.
Just this past October, before the election, my demographic was reported to have a very high and unreported unemployment rate, mostly because many have stopped looking for work and are not counted in the official statistics. I don’t know how many of the age group are engineers.
I’ve also witnessed gross inefficiencies in engineering departments, causing me to question the real severity of the need.
All very subjective, of course.
I am very happy to read about Roberta’s continuing recovery. Happy New Year to you and yours.

The half-life of an engineer used to be about seven years.  What is it now?

That is probably still correct.  I am probably not typical, but in my second career I worked as a systems and test engineer for about 13 years, then had about a 9 month return to work after 18 months off (and swearing, twice now, that I’d never go back).  So your half-life figure is pretty close.  I’ve worked with others whose engineering experience was similar.

Human resources, recruiting, and personnel departments are essential, yet if there were no open staff positions, how much HR would we really need?    Perhaps a shortage of qualified technical personnel is useful to keeping a large number of HR and recruiting personnel employed.


There is no STEM Employee Shortage

There is, in general, no shortage of engineers in the US. The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers looked into it a few years ago. http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/education/the-stem-crisis-is-a-myth
Two key facts from the article.
1. Each year about 277,000 STEM jobs come open. However, we graduate 252,000 with Bachelor’s degrees, 80,000 Master’s. and 20,000 PhDs, 40,000 Associates, and bring in 50,000 H1B visa holders. As a result, there are 11.4 million people with STEM degrees that work outside STEM.
2. Despite the “shortages”, compensation for engineers has lagged behind non-STEM fields. If there were shortages, wages would be growing faster than average. (Not to say there are some fields that had real shortages and growing pay – until the crash in oil prices, there was a shortage of petroleum engineers. Now they are being laid off as half the oil companies in the US are technically bankrupt.)
Combine this with the blatant age discrimination in many companies, especially IT. If you get laid off when a project ends and are over 40, it can impossible to find a job. I had friends laid off from aerospace jobs before the 2007 crash that took two to three years to find a job. Many are out of STEM.


But the half life of an engineer is about seven years; after that half of what was taught to engineers became obsolete… and that was in good times. Of course the various “studies” courses remain unchanged.


Secularism: Everyone Wants to Get Rid of It

by Yves Mamou
December 30, 2016 at 5:30 am


  • Now, after more than a century of separation of powers between church and state, an intolerant and extremist Islam is disrupting the rules of the game, invading public spaces, schools, universities and companies with the veil, halal food and open violence.
  • “By making the public space empty of everything that brings us together… Islamists are eager to fill it, especially in disillusioned, brainless and uprooted young heads”. — François Fillon, a former Prime Minister of France, who is running for president in the 2017 election.
  • “Secularism is just becoming a religion opposed to all other religions”, said Tariq Ramadan, a prominent figure of the Muslim Brotherhood in Switzerland and France. He congratulated mayors on Christmas nativity scenes probably because he sees it as an opening for Islamic opportunities in the public sphere. “We need a Republic authorizing the visibility of diversity and not a Republic of neutrality,” he said.

Can a French municipality erect a statue of the Virgin Mary in a public park? The answer is No. France’s Administrative Court has given the mayor of Publier, in eastern France (population 6500), three months to comply with the ban on religious symbols in public spaces and to remove the statue. If the municipality fails to do so, it will be fined €100 ($105) a day. Mayor Gaston Lacroix said he will try to relocate the marble statue on private land.

France’s 1905 Law on the Separation of the Churches and the State (Article 2) states that “The Republic does not recognize, pay or subsidize any religious sect”; article 28 prohibits any religious symbol on public monuments.

The Virgin May statue in Publier, on the bottom of which is inscribed “Our Lady of Geneva Lake watch over your children”, has a long story. It was installed in the town park in August 2011, without debate. The statue was acquired with taxpayer money: €23,700 (USD $26,000). Acknowledging at the time that he had “joked a little with the 1905 law” on the separation of church and the state, the mayor had to sell the statue to a local religious association.

Now, the mayor has to remove the statue from the public park. He tried to privatize the piece of land where the statue is erected, but the land-sale project was rejected by the court.[snip]



Westinghouse Science Fair could do Em Drive if….

Westinghouse Science Fair could do Em Drive if we had Westinghouse Science Fairs like the old ones.


Good point. Alas.


Navy Accepts Delivery of ‘Not Combat Survivable’ USS Gabrielle Giffords



Alas. Maybe they need some guns.


“Then I grabbed the AK… and started muzzle thumping him in the head with it”  Dr. P,

It appears that a group of U.S. soldiers on vacation in France, aided by a balding British ally, have proved that the Turkish Method still works:

Alek Skarlatos, on holiday in Europe with fellow serviceman Spencer Stone and student Anthony Sadler, said he and his companions heard a gunshot and breaking glass while on their Thalys train at around 3.45pm on Friday.

“I saw a guy entering the carriage with an AK and a handgun, at that point I ducked down and my friend Spencer, next to me, ducked down and I just looked over at Spencer and said: ‘Let’s go’,” Mr Skalatos told Sky News from his hotel room in Arras, northern France.

The 22-year-old National Guardsman from Rosenburg, Oregan, and Mr Stone charged the unidentified 26-year-old man, believed to be of Moroccan origin, down the narrow carriage.

“Then I grabbed the AK (assault rifle), which was at his feet, and started muzzle thumping him in the head with it,” Mr Skarlatos added.

Mr Sadler, a senior at Sacramento State University, told The Associated Press of his friends’ exploits: “Spencer makes first contact, he tackles the guy, Alek wrestles the gun away from him, and the gunman pulls out a boxcutter and slices Spencer a few times.

“And the three of us beat him until he was unconscious…

Airman Mr Stone, who was injured himself in the hand during the tussle, performed first aid on the unidentified passenger.

Mr Sadler continued: “Spencer, who has some paramedics training, just clogged up his neck so he wouldn’t die. This is all in the midst of Spencer bleeding profusely himself.”

“It was just really heroic of him to do something like that.”

Mr Skarlatos added: “We just did what we had to do. You either run away or fight. We chose to fight and got lucky and didn’t die.”



    Bill Clardy
“The faster I runs, the behinder I gets…” – Pogo


Upcoming Leap Second

at 20161231-23:59:60Z

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It will only affect the live countdown in London…


and happy New Year…




Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.



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