Julia Angwin / Hello World:
Q&A with AI Now Institute's Shazeda Ahmed on how the US-China “tech Cold War” narrative allows Big Tech to avoid regulation and how it informs US policy — There is a narrative in Washington, D.C., that we are in the midst of a tech cold war with China.
Q&A with AI Now Institute's Shazeda Ahmed on how the US-China "tech Cold War" narrative allows Big Tech to avoid regulation and how it informs US policy (Julia Angwin/Hello World)
Julia Angwin / Hello World:
The Leonardo DRS AC²ES Assured Position, Navigation, and Timing solution is driven by the power of the MFoCS system already installed in most tactical vehicles. Photo courtesy of Leonardo DRS.
In this Q&A with William Guyan, senior vice president and general manager of Leonardo DRS Land Electronics, we discuss how AC²ES (A-PNT Converged Computer-Embedded and Scalable) can provide immediate A-PNT capabilities through the Mounted Family of Computer Systems (MFoCS).
Breaking Defense: What’s driving the need for Assured PNT?
William Guyan, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Land Electronics. Photo courtesy of Leonardo DRS.
Guyan: All international forces have become network enabled and GPS dependent. Along with the benefit of using GPS for management of forces and using the timing that comes with GPS in order to synchronize defense systems, comes the downside that someone can take those away from you, as well. Just as there are many systems that enable GPS and networks, now there are new systems that can deny those and create an environment that jams or spoofs GPS signals. Systems that are dependent upon position data or the timing that comes from a GPS satellite network can now be fooled or disabled by an adversary.
Breaking Defense: Are we seeing that happening now, like we’re experiencing on the network side with constant cybersecurity attacks?
Guyan: We’re aware of the capability that our adversaries have, and I think they’ve demonstrated a willingness to use it. It only makes sense, given our dependency on the capabilities that GPS provides, to level the playing field in an area where we have great advantage.
Taking away our ability to know where we are and our ability to synchronize forces using modern systems is something that any adversary would try to do. Because of that, the Army identified this as one of its critical modernization objectives—the need to identify and field an Assured Position, Navigation, and Timing capability, or A-PNT. In fact, one of the cross-functional teams that the Army formed to address key capability gaps and modernization challenges is the A-PNT/Space CFT. So, in addition to having a program of record that’s already delivering A-PNT capability, the Army also has a cross-functional team charged with continuing to identify new ways of fielding new, innovative, and more cost effective capabilities across the force.
Breaking Defense: How is PNT presently supported by MFoCS and how might it evolve with AC²ES?
Guyan: MFOCS is the acronym for the Mounted Family of Computing Systems, the computer and displays systems used by PM Mission Command to enable Joint Battle Command Platform (JBCP) and Mounted Mission Command capabilities. Most of the MFoCS systems that are delivered today are delivered with an embedded anti-spoofing GPS, or a SAASM GPS. There’s a next generation of GPS called an M-Code GPS that is in the pipeline and could be an easy drop-in addition to the MFoCS system to provide for a more resilient, jam-resistant, spoof-resistant capability.
But there are also a whole series of additional capabilities that can be found in the A-PNT toolbox. That’s what we have done with AC²ES, which is a Swiss Army knife of capabilities that will allow a customer to match up their risk profile and their affordability profile with a spectrum of capability choices that best match their needs.
Right now the Army has two choices: standard GPS and the higher-end solution called MAPS (Mounted Assured Precision Navigation and Timing System), which is the Army’s program of record for A-PNT. MAPS works; MAPS is being fielded and it will do the job.
The issue is that MAPS is not going to be immediately, nor affordably, available for all of the systems where we need to have resilient A-PNT. The Army needs additional complementary solutions in addition to MAPS, tier two and tier three solutions, if you will, that allows them to pull left the capability fielding of A-PNT, within budget constraints because you can find a GPS, one or more, on almost every platform, almost every complex system that the Army has. Every one of those systems could be disrupted by an enemy that chooses to do so.
So, in order to be able to fight the way we want to fight – and be able to depend upon the systems that we rely on now, A-PNT at different levels of capability has to be fielded across the force in order to give the enemy reason to be concerned about the effectiveness of their jamming efforts. That may cause them to change the way they fight and, importantly, will also give our soldiers increased assurance and confidence that their systems will work even in non-permissive environments.
Breaking Defense: Does AC²ES provide a different or better capability than MAPS?
Guyan: The AC²ES capability is, we believe, complementary to the capability that the Army already has in the pipeline under the MAPS program. It doesn’t replace MAPS, it doesn’t challenge MAPS. But as a complement to MAPS, it can address the need to field additional systems more quickly and affordably. It provides a spectrum or menu of capability choices that the user can pick from in order to match up how much they need to spend with the risk that they’re trying to avoid.
One way to help the Army and the Marine Corps in pulling this capability left – and doing it affordably – is to allow them the opportunity to reuse the investment they’ve already made in MFoCS hardware. Although AC²ES can be implemented inside of MFoCS hardware as an upgrade, it’s not currently part of the MFoCS program.
More than a billion dollars worth of MFoCS computers have been purchased by the services. We can take the computing power that’s already resident in these installed systems and upgrade them to provide assured position, navigation, and timing capability for Mission Command/Blue Force Tracking, and also distribute the A-PNT data to other systems systems, to make them better protected against the risk of enemy jamming or spoofing.
Breaking Defense: And you funded this with our internal research and development dollars?
Guyan: Yes, we have a very aggressive, self-funded capability development effort inside of Leonardo DRS. This is one of the areas where we saw the customer expressing a need for a capability, and us having the potential for filling that need in a way that adds value. For some customers and certain applications, we saw the opportunity to add capability, save them money, and allow them to deliver the capability more quickly.
In some cases, the customer’s major constraint is not necessarily cost. It could be size, weight, or power. The MFoCS system already has a footprint on most platforms. It already has power and has a space claim, so we’re not adding another box or an installation kit.
We demonstrated AC²ES at the second annual PNT Assessment Exercise (PNTAX) last year and we’ll be demonstrating it again later this month at this year’s PNTAX event, validating its capability at White Sands Missile Range in all of the different capability levels that that we’re trying to offer.
Breaking Defense: What are some of the results and performance that you’ve seen so far?
Guyan: We received very encouraging results from the participation in the last PNTAX, results that were encouraging enough to get the attention of, I think, the CFT and representatives both inside the Army and Marine Corps.
The PNTAX event that we’re doing this year is a more extensive set of testing. It’s being monitored by those customers, who have demonstrated or expressed interest in the product. We see it as a kick-the-tire event for our capability. In addition to being able to evaluate our capability, customers are going to be able to evaluate our capability versus other capabilities and the cost trade-offs associated with them.
One of the interesting things that we are able to do with the AC²ES solution—in addition to bringing capability to the left and saving cost in the fielding—is that we’re also able to combine the A-PNT capability with the computing power that’s resident inside of the MFoCS platform.
This allows us to lean on a wider range of potential solutions for dealing with impaired PNT. One of them is a solution called vision navigation. This is the ability to match up what sensors see on a platform with a one-world-map database to confirm or deny that the positional location coming from the system matches up with what the sensors are seeing. So, it’s a fallback safety to the system because you’re actually matching what the position navigation system is telling you against what the sensors are seeing on the ground.
Again, it’s one further way to check that the GPS data that’s being received is accurate. We’re making good progress in that area and seeing high fidelity. That’s a capability that wasn’t originally designed for AC²ES but because we have the computing power and a very high-end processor that is inside of the MFoCS processor unit, we’ve been able to demonstrate that capability, as well.
That’s one area where we’re demonstrating a capability that MAPS was never asked to demonstrate, but points the way to enhanced capabilities for A-PNT going forward.
Just three days ago, we reported that Neiman Marcus - aka "Needless Markups" - was on the cusp of striking a deal with creditors for financing that would help tide it over through bankruptcy.
Well, it looks like the big day has finally arrived. Bloomberg reports that Neiman Marcus Group has officially entered into a Restructuring Support Agreement with a significant majority of its creditors to undergo a financial restructuring and file for "voluntary prearranged" bankruptcy protection.
Here's a summary of the deal (courtesy of BBG):
- Secures $675 million debtor-in-possession loan and commitment to fulfill $750m exit financing package from creditors
- Commences voluntary prearranged Chapter 11 proceedings
- Sees to emerge from process in early fall 2020
- Creditors have committed to fulfill a $750m exit financing package that would fully refinance the DIP financing and provide additional liquidity for the business
- Commences voluntary prearranged Chapter 11 proceedings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division
- Upon emergence, planned capital structure is seen to be long dated with no near-term maturities and to eliminate approximately $4b of its existing debt
- CEO says pandemic has placed “inexorable pressure” on the business
- Company says transaction is supported by existing holders and, pursuant to the agreement, creditors participating in the RSA will become majority owners
Of course, NM is just the latest retail name to go under. And like many of its peers, its cashflows have been swallowed up by the company's enormous debt load, most of which was acquired thanks to two LBOs.
The latest weekly report on the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits showed that more than 30 million jobs have now been destroyed thanks to the outbreak.
And as we noted earlier, the looming wave of bankruptcies - caused by a confluence of the virus, low oil prices, prevailing recessionary conditions, and a massive overhang of corporate debt that will soon lead to a tidal wave of downgrades, bankruptcies and liquidations.
It goes without saying that job losses are likely only just ramping up.
And just like that - another name gets crossed off "the list".
As expected, the bonds are getting hammered.
Will JCPenney be next?
With the markets screaming for more federal fiscal stimulus to help cushion what will almost certainly become an extremely deep, but potentially short-lived, recession, the administration has unleashed headlines claiming that the third economic package will include $850 billion (more than 100x the $8.3 billion included in the first package).
The headline hit earlier this morning, with a barebones report in Politico's 'Playbook' newsletter, which frequently publishes administration scoops.
NEW … PLAYBOOK: MNUCHIN seeking $850 billion from Congress …— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) March 17, 2020
… @united CEO: “The financial impact of this crisis on our industry is much worse than the stark downturn that we saw in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.”https://t.co/BQ70UXWH1G
Then, the Washington Post followed up that initial report with a lengthier story offering more details: The package would be mostly devoted to flooding the economy with cash, through a payroll tax cut or other mechanism, two of the officials said, with some $50 billion directed specifically to helping the airline industry.
Roughly 30 minutes after the Washington Post report, an administration official confirmed the story.
Mnuchin is reportedly planning to introduce the package to the Republic-controlled Senate on Tuesday, and would like to see the package pass the upper chamber of Congress by the end of the week, he told senators during a Monday evening call.
This comes after Larry Kudlow hinted at helicopter money yesterday, and Mitt Romney called for 'Andrew Yang-style' cash injections for every American adult.
Some $50 billion in aid directed specifically for the airlines has also been earmarked, according to Sen. Marco Rubio.
"I think the assumption’s going to be that we’re going to do something, it should be big. Because we can’t assume that we’re just going to keep coming back," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Monday night leaving a meeting with Mnuchin and other administration officials.
Rubio said aid to airlines was likely to be included. "We still need to get people around the country. I have no doubt that’s going to be a major feature of the next step."
Earlier this month Congress approved $8.3 billion in emergency spending for public health programs, and last week the House passed a package with paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, money for food stamps, free coronavirus testing and more, the Senate made modifications to the House package over the weekend that were billed as "technical corrections" but really scaled back the sick leave section of the bill's benefits.
With America's screeching to a halt, the intervention may need to be faster and even more extreme than the action taken during the financial crisis. In 2008, Congress passed the now-infamous $700 billion TARP package to bail out the banks. This time around, Trump is clearly hoping to make a statement by spending $850 billion - a larger number than TARP - to bail out Main Street.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
[LPT] You DO NOT need to give answers to questions that HAVE NOT been asked. Stop the need to explain yourself before someone asks you to. Keep it Simple. Over explaining all of the time can be seen as a sign of weakness. It can get you into unnecessary situations that could have been avoided.
This applies is any situation whether it's in the workplace, with family, with the law. Of course, there are situations that you might need to explain yourself before asked, if it's going to affect your life, job, or freedom but ultimately you don't owe anyone anything. Over explaining all of the time can be seen as a sign of weakness. It can also get you into unnecessary and avoidable situations.
Approximately 600 computers in Iceland used to mine bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were stolen from data centers in what has been dubbed the "Big Bitcoin Heist." Eleven people including a security guard were arrested following four separate heists, according to Fortune. Two of the suspects were ordered to remain in custody by a Reykjanes District Court judge while the rest were released. The name of the company involved in the thefts have not been reported.
Three of the burglaries happened last December, and the fourth occurred in January. Authorities kept the incidents under wraps while their investigation was ongoing.
The computers are worth nearly $2 million - however the potential value of the untraceable cryptocurrencies they could produce makes the heist quite a bit more lucrative.
"This is a grand theft on a scale unseen before," said police commissioner Olafur Helgi Kjartansson. Two of the burglaries took place in his district on the southwestern Reykjanes peninsula. "Everything points to this being a highly organized crime."
Cryptocurrency mining in Iceland has boomed in the last several years - so much that the "mining industry" is projected to use approximately the same 100 mW in 2018 as the entire 334,000 population of the island nation.
Low electricity costs in the North Atlantic from and abundance of renewable energy along with naturally icy temperatures that keep GPUs cranking along at peak efficiency make Iceland an attractive location to mine cryptocurrencies.
Although expensive, mining hardware must be kept cool so as to prevent overheating. Utilising Icelands natural elements, the exteriors of mining facilities are deliberately only partially constructed; providing huge financial savings. -cryptocoinspy.com
Iceland police has called on local ISPs, electricians and storage space owners to report any unusual requests for power.
Whenever The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart had to report on a tragedy like Friday’s terrorist attacks on Paris, he would temporarily drop the jokes and speak candidly. Serious Jon was a little jarring to watch, at least the first couple of times, and that successfully conveyed the gravity of situation.
But Jon Stewart was on Comedy Central. John Oliver is on premium fucking cable, which gives him access to high-quality HBO-level cusses. So fuck it, he can say what he wants: The Paris attackers were fucking assholes.
Alphabet Prepares to Spend More On Its Riskiest Projects: Google’s new parent company, Alphabet, warns investors it will invest more in long-term “bets” on breakthrough technologies.
Pornography users found to be more supportive of women and hold less sexist views than nonusers in representative US sample
Walking alone at night can be dangerous, but with an app like Companion, you can use your smartphone to stay a little safer.
ABC News reports that at least 25 million people were affected by the recent Office of Personnel Management hack—more than six times the number originally reported by authorities.
The government’s apparent explanation for the wildly disparate reports is that they counted the breach as two hacks, the larger of which they considered to be a “separate but related” issue that was still “under investigation” at the time. Via ABC:http://gawker.com/cool-the-gover...
At the time, OPM only disclosed that the personnel records of 4.2 million current and former federal employees had been compromised.
But there was little doubt — at least privately –- that the universe of victims was vastly bigger because the hackers had access to far more than personnel records, including files associated with background investigations and information on government workers’ families.
In fact, the hackers allegedly rummaged through various OPM databases for more than a year — and lawmakers and U.S. officials alike have described the breach as a significant threat to national security.
It’s still unclear how many Americans were actually affected (most reports cite anonymous sources) but Politico says it’s actually more like 21.5 million because some identities were essentially hacked twice. Either way, it’s clear the government drastically underreported the extent of the damage.
And it wasn’t just basic information—the hackers got away with highly sensitive documents that include “military records and veterans’ status information, address, birth date, job and pay history, health insurance, life insurance, and pension information; age, gender, race data,” plus reportedly unencrypted social security numbers.http://gawker.com/ap-every-singl...
The breach reportedly began in 2013 when hackers obtained credentials through an employee of a government contractor, KeyPoint Government Solutions. It wasn’t detected until April, ABC reports.
Contact the author at email@example.com.
Hacking Team, the company now equally known for selling intrusive spyware to governments and getting royally hacked, has words for people who disagree with its habit of peddling powerful cyberweapons to regimes with terrible human rights records: What’s a “repressive” regime, anyway?
I asked Hacking Team if someone would speak directly to its reputation for selling its remote access spyware—which lets law enforcement and governments turn on webcams, record phone calls, steal files, and track messages—to repressive regimes. US spokesperson Eric Rabe informed me that it’s all relative:
This issue may appear to be simple. In reality it is a complicated one for several reasons. For one thing, some have labeled certain long-time allies of the West “repressive.” Furthermore, it happens that governments change, and, therefore they become more or less criticized over time.
Hacking Team’s excuse for its eccentric roster of clients basically boils down to “you say terrorist, I say freedom fighter, nothing matters lol.” Just because some fuddy-duddy activist group like the UN puts LABELS on a government doesn’t mean it’s necessarily “repressive,” you hippie. Which explains why Hacking Team decided to sell spyware to Sudan’s intelligence service in 2012, even though UN sanctions prohibited the sale of weapons, including digital weapons, at that time.
(The leaked emails show that Hacking Team halted sales to Sudan in 2014, after pressure from a UN panel monitoring the implementation of weapons sanctions in Sudan.)
But wait, there is more excuse:
Finally, even some governments that are deeply criticized by some activists may have a very legitimate need for our technology. For example, such a state, though the focus of activist anger, may also be a breeding ground for terrorists. The technology provided by HackingTeam is particularly useful in detecting and prosecuting terrorists.
Ah, gotcha, cool cool. So when Hacking Team decided to renew its license with Ethiopia’s Information Network Security Agency even after the INSA was discovered to be using the software to spy on journalists, it was because INSA also wanted it to fight terrorists...except INSA categorized the journalists as terrorists...
This muddled official excuse is similar to the line of thinking Hacking Team CEO and co-founder David Vincenzetti put forth in one of his leaked emails to a colleague, where he complains about the negative press Hacking Team receives for its clientele:
“I have a question for you all: PLEASE NAME a single really ‘democratic’ country, a country which does not violate anybody’s rights and has a TOTALLY clean human rights record,” he wrote.
If you’re looking for more gems like that, a non-profit called Transparency Toolkit has made the entire trove of leaked data available online for download. We’ll be combing through over the next few days, but if you find anything worth checking out, let me know in the comments, or email me.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Today, the FCC officially announced that it will vote on whether to classify the internet as a utility under Title II regulations. Here's what that mess of jargon means and how it affects you.
FCC: Blocking Wi-Fi in hotels is prohibited: Marriott asked the FCC to please let it block Wi-Fi. The hotel gets a firm answer -- "Persons or businesses causing intentional interference to Wi-Fi hotspots are subject to enforcement action"
Last night, after Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) publicly apologized for snogging, on surveillance video, in his congressional office, a staffer who was not his wife, he received a text from a stranger: "Hey bro. How's your day goin." For some inexplicable reason, he replied—at length.