Tags: Reuters

How the NSA Paid Security Firm $10 Million to Promote Flawed Encryption

Stories documenting the NSA’s intentional attempt to weaken encryption standards have been floating around for months now, but Reuters put out a story Friday that documents just how far the out of control agency has gone to weaken security for hundreds of millions of computer users.

RSA has been a leader in cryptography ever since it revolutionized the field after its genesis in the 1970s from three MIT professors. The company actually provided a lot of successful pushback against the NSA and the Clinton Administration’s push to introduce the Clipper Chip in the 1990’s, but has completely sold out in recent years as it became more corporatized and many of the technology leaders left. If it is true that the only received $10 million from the NSA, they sold out the American public very cheaply. RSA is now owned by EMC

From Reuters:

Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the NSA created and promulgated a flawed formula for generating random numbers to create a “back door” in encryption products, the New York Times reported in September. Reuters later reported that RSA became the most important distributor of that formula by rolling it into a software tool called Bsafe that is used to enhance security in personal computers and many other products.

Undisclosed until now was that RSA received $10 million in a deal that set the NSA formula as the preferred, or default, method for number generation in the BSafe software, according to two sources familiar with the contract. Although that sum might seem paltry, it represented more than a third of the revenue that the relevant division at RSA had taken in during the entire previous year, securities filings show.

The earlier disclosures of RSA’s entanglement with the NSA already had shocked some in the close-knit world of computer security experts. The company had a long history of championing privacy and security, and it played a leading role in blocking a 1990s effort by the NSA to require a special chip to enable spying on a wide range of computer and communications products.

Started by MIT professors in the 1970s and led for years by ex-Marine Jim Bidzos, RSA and its core algorithm were both named for the last initials of the three founders, who revolutionized cryptography. Little known to the public, RSA’s encryption tools have been licensed by most large technology companies, which in turn use them to protect computers used by hundreds of millions of people.

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Gold Supplies in India Disappear Despite Continued Record Premiums

I first reported on record high gold premiums in India a couple of weeks ago. Since then, the story has become even more interesting as Reuters reports that gold supplies have completely dried up just ahead of major gold buying festivals and despite continued record premiums. While it is clear that Indians are finding a way to buy gold anyway via black markets, this is still a very interesting story to keep an eye on.

More from Reuters:

India has imposed several restrictions on imports of gold, the biggest non-essential import item, to curb a record trade deficit. Gold imports in September fell to 7 tonnes from 162 tonnes in May.

Of course, if additional demand wasn’t being met via black markets the price of gold would be far lower than it is.

“Still gold is not available, and they are charging $120-130 (an ounce) of premiums,” said Bachhraj Bamalwa, director with the All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation.

Most of the demand is being met by recycled gold or through unofficial or illegal supply channels, traders said.

“Sales have dropped by 50 percent… and everything is happening according to the wishes of the government,” said Harshad Ajmera, proprietor of Kolkata-based wholesaler JJ Gold House.

I’m sure this will all work out just as the government anticipates…

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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Gold Premiums Double in India as Demand Outstrips Supply

WAR IS PEACE.

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY.

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

From Reuters:

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Gold premiums doubled in India on Wednesday as suppliers struggled to meet surging demand after a ban on consignment imports, but futures prices fell to their lowest in more than a month as international gold prices fell due to a strong dollar.

India, the world’s biggest buyer of gold, now requires importers to pay upfront for inventory, making it difficult for smaller jewelers with lower working capital to source supplies. The government also raised the import duty to 8 percent in May to keep a lid on the surging current account deficit.

“There may be some demand from jewelers for raw material,” said Bachhraj Bamalwa, former chairman of All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation, adding that premiums charged on London prices shot to $20 an ounce on Wednesday from $8-$10 on Tuesday.

“We are unable to supply, though there is demand … we give deliveries after 2-3 days,” said Harshad Ajmera, proprietor of wholesaler JJ Gold House in Kolkata.

Enjoy the gold crash comrades.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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Las Vegas Housing: 8% of Single Family Homes Vacant, Yet New Construction Permits Up 50%

If there is any market that demonstrates the complete and total misallocation of capital that results from Banana Ben Bernanke’s money printing and artificially low interest rate policy, it the latest phony American housing bubble. With a record numbers of citizens on the food stamp electronic breadline, with unemployment stubbornly high no matter what data you use, billionaire financial oligarchs are running around bidding up “homes for rent” and pricing out the random average person that actually has the capacity or desire to bid. I just read an excellent article that demonstrates the degree of insanity that has now been unleashed upon the streets of Las Vegas.

As the title of the post mentions, a study from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas show some 40,000 homes are vacant, or 8% of the metropolitan area’s single-family housing stock.  So it would seem that this would provide plenty of good deals for investors right?  Certainly there doesn’t seem to be a need for new home construction.  Well think again!  In their QE-forever induced delirium, homebuilders have gone Chinese and in Las Vegas “permits for new home construction are up 50 percent, twice the national average.”

My favorite line in the entire article comes at the end when a prospective buyer explains what happens when an actual citizen attempts to purchase a home to actually live in:

“We know there is a minute chance we get anything,” she says. “The most frustrating part of all this is how home prices keep going up and up, yet you have so many empty homes.”

Oh and it seems Oaktree has followed Och Ziff’s lead and pulled back from the “buy to rent” insanity.  Soon all that will be left are the dumb money and homebuilders, who should start thinking about what kind of bailout they will lobby for when this entire thing unravels.  From Reuters:

These big investors and a handful of others have bought at least 55,000 single-family homes across the U.S. in the past year. In the Vegas area alone, they have accounted for at least 10 percent of the homes sold since January 2012, according to a Reuters analysis of housing transactions.

That added firepower helps explain why home prices in this metropolitan area of 2 million people are up 30 percent over a year ago, far more than the national average of 10 percent. Permits for new home construction are up 50 percent, twice the national average.

Las Vegas would seem a highly unlikely locale for a new housing bubble. There are at least 20,000 homes in some stage of foreclosure, and the jobless rate hovers near 10 percent, some two points above the U.S. average. A healthy housing market depends on people having good-paying jobs so they can accumulate down payments and finance their mortgages.

Healthy markets?  That’s so last century!

Cracks are showing in Vegas and beyond. Here, rents on single-family homes were down an average of 1.9 percent in March from a year ago. In other regions targeted by institutional buyers, such as Phoenix, Southern California, Atlanta and Florida, rents are either falling or flat, according to online real estate service Trulia.

Industry insiders estimate that roughly half of the more than 55,000 homes acquired by institutions over the past year in the U.S. have yet to be rented.

In Oceania, that is a market signal for build more homes.

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HSBC Faces More Money Laundering Accusations

I’m shocked.  Shocked, appalled, horrified and betrayed.  Actually, I’d be shocked if this didn’t happen.  From Reuters:

BUENOS AIRES, March 18 (Reuters) – Argentina’s tax agency said on Monday it has uncovered 392 million pesos ($77 million) in fraudulent transactions by HSBC Holdings Plc and said it has asked the judicial system to probe the European bank for alleged tax evasion and money laundering.

HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, was fined $1.9 billion last year for similar irregularities in Mexico and the United States.

“On the basis of what’s been investigated so far, in six months we’ve recorded 392 million pesos in fraudulent transactions, generated by evasion and money laundering,” Echegaray told a news conference.

Echegaray said HSBC executives had secured fake receipts from local businesses, allowing illicit transactions to be made.

HSBC said the AFIP’s allegations were of “great concern.”

“Great concern” huh?  Concerned about what exactly?  A tiny slap on the wrist?  What a menace to society these big banks have become.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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Federal Judge: Texas School Can Force Teenager to Wear Locator Chip

I covered this case a couple of months ago in my post The “Electronic Concentration Camp” – Girl Expelled from School for Refusing RFID Chip.  It seems we now finally have a ruling.  Chalk this one up for the fascists.  The answer to such absurdity seems to be homeschooling.  Public schools don’t seem to be teaching our kids much anyway and now they want to track them like animals.  Enough is enough.  From Reuters:

(Reuters) – A public school district in Texas can require students to wear locator chips when they are on school property, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday in a case raising technology-driven privacy concerns among liberal and conservative groups alike.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia said the San Antonio Northside School District had the right to expel sophomore Andrea Hernandez, 15, from a magnet school at Jay High School, because she refused to wear the device, which is required of all students.

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Coming to America…Biotech Salmon!

The FDA always has your back.  This government agency, which is well known for corruption (watch the movie Burzynski), seems to be inching closer toward approving a biotech salmon product called AquAdvantage Atlantic salmon egg.  Sounds tasty!  From Reuters:

(Reuters) – A controversial genetically engineered salmon has moved a step closer to the consumer’s dining table after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday the fish didn’t appear likely to pose a threat to the environment or to humans who eat it.

AquaBounty officials said they were caught by surprise by the news that its product was a step closer to approval as years of controversy had followed the company’s application for a go-ahead from the regulator.

Hahaha.  Even the company itself was surprised its product could get approved so easily!

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Food Banks in the U.S. Running Low on Supplies…Ominous Sign for 2013

This is a very interesting yet ominous article from Reuters about the current food bank situation in these United States.  As a result of the drought this summer the Federal government ended up buying less food than normal, and because this excess food is used to provide assistance to the poor in many cases, there simply may not be enough to go around.  This sets up a potentially tragic situation as we head into 2013, and is likely to bring heightened social unrest to our shores as I outlined in my recent article The Global Spring.

From Reuters:

The worst U.S. drought in more than half a century has weakened the safety net for the 50 million Americans who struggle to get enough to eat, and the nation’s food banks are raising the alarm as the holiday season gets into full swing.

Executives at major food banks across the United States worry they will not be able to keep pace with demand, which they don’t expect to ease until more Americans find better paying jobs. In a sign of how stressed the budgets of many Americans are, a record 47.1 million people used food stamps in August 2012, up from 45.8 million the year earlier.

With such pressures at work,on-hand supplies at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank have fallen from a peak of about 3.3 weeks in 2010 to less than two weeks – the lowest in recent history, according to its president and CEO, Michael Flood.

Tightening food supplies last summer forced the food bank to start a waiting list because it does not have enough inventory to expand beyond the 640 agencies it already supplies with food. There are now 565 nonprofits on the waiting list, Flood said.

Government commodities once made up 28 percent of the food flowing through the Feeding America network, which includes about 90 percent of U.S. food banks and provides food for about 37 million people during the year. This year those commodities account for 17 percent, Feeding America said.

The Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina has seen its monthly supplies of TEFAP products plummet by roughly two-thirds to about 170,000 pounds from 500,000 pounds. At the same time, state budget cuts have slashed its annual funding by about half to $500,000, Executive Director Clyde Fitzgerald said.

This is a development we must all keep a close eye on.

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Mike

Harvard Study Finds Fluoride Lowers IQ

Good thing they put fluoride in the water supply all over the United States of America, including here in Boulder where I live.  In a study published July 20 online in Environmental Health Perspectives, a US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ journal, the researchers found, amongst other things that:

The children in high fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ than those who lived in low fluoride areas.

Fluoride readily crosses the placenta. Fluoride exposure to the developing brain, which is much more susceptible to injury caused by toxicants than is the mature brain, may possibly lead to damage of a permanent nature.

Another key quote from the Reuters article on the subject:

“It’s senseless to keep subjecting our children to this ongoing fluoridation experiment to satisfy the political agenda of special-interest groups,” says attorney Paul Beeber, NYSCOF President.  “Even if fluoridation reduced cavities, is tooth health more important than brain health? It’s time to put politics aside and stop artificial fluoridation everywhere, says Beeber.”

Nothing to see here folks.  Keep watching American Idol.  Stay dumb and obedient little sheeple.  The government wants your teeth to be shiny and clean because they love you.

Full article here.