Archive for February, 2011

Planet Earth ‘unrecognisable’ by 2050

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

A growing, more affluent population competing for ever scarcer resources could make for an “unrecognisable” world by 2050, warned researchers at a major US science conference.

The United Nations has predicted the global population will reach seven billion this year, and climb to nine billion by 2050, “with almost all of the growth occurring in poor countries, particularly Africa and South Asia,” said John Bongaarts of the non-profit Population Council.

To feed all those mouths, “we will need to produce as much food in the next 40 years as we have in the last 8,000,” said Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

“By 2050 we will not have a planet left that is recognisable” if current trends continue, Clay said.

– More…

John Holdren relishing Congress climate opportunity

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

– “Any objective look at what science has to say about climate change ought to be sufficient to persuade reasonable people that the climate is changing and that humans are responsible for a substantial part of that – and that these changes are doing harm and will continue to do more harm unless we start to reduce our emissions.

– Speaking to BBC News at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Washington DC, Professor John Holdren

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The US president’s chief science adviser says the nation’s current efforts to tackle climate change are insufficient in the long-term.

Speaking to BBC News at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Washington DC, Professor John Holdren said the current US Congress was unlikely to pass new legislation to put a price on CO2 emissions.

President Obama’s administration’s efforts, he said, would instead have to focus on developing cleaner technologies, expanding the use of nuclear power and improving energy efficiency.

But he admits that in the long term, these initiatives on their own will not be enough.

“Ultimately, we will have to look to a future Congress for the more comprehensive approach that climate change will require,” he said.

For the time being, Professor Holdren faces a more sceptical Congress than he would like, and one that proposes a series of congressional hearings to assess the science of climate change.

Professor Holdren says he is relishing the opportunity.

– more…

Anonymous speaks: the inside story of the HBGary hack

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

– Smashing stuff.   Absolutely top notch.  Anonymous has truly taken the stuffed shirt out of these folks.   And good on them for doing it. – dennis

– Check out the two posts previous to this one:   and as well.

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It has been an embarrassing week for security firm HBGary and its HBGary Federal offshoot. HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Barr thought he had unmasked the hacker hordes of Anonymous and was preparing to name and shame those responsible for co-ordinating the group’s actions, including the denial-of-service attacks that hit MasterCard, Visa, and other perceived enemies of WikiLeaks late last year.

When Barr told one of those he believed to be an Anonymous ringleader about his forthcoming exposé, the Anonymous response was swift and humiliating. HBGary’s servers were broken into, its e-mails pillaged and published to the world, its data destroyed, and its website defaced. As an added bonus, a second site owned and operated by Greg Hoglund, owner of HBGary, was taken offline and the user registration database published.

Over the last week, I’ve talked to some of those who participated in the HBGary hack to learn in detail how they penetrated HBGary’s defenses and gave the company such a stunning black eye—and what the HBGary example means for the rest of us mere mortals who use the Internet.

– Please, read more…

-Research thanks to Alan T.

Anonymous victim HBGary goes to ground

Friday, February 18th, 2011

– Great follow up story to my previous one.  Got to love the Anonymous folks – speaking truth to power.  – dennis

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The computer security company hacked by members of activist group Anonymous has gone to ground as further revelations about its activites leak online.

HBGary has cancelled its appearances at public events, saying that members of staff had been threatened.

It follows the release of internal documents which appear to show the firm offered to smear Wikileaks’ supporters.

HBGary officials said the online messages could have been altered prior to publication.

The company’s founder, Greg Hoglund had been scheduled to give a talk at the RSA Security conference in San Francisco this week, but pulled out at the last minute.

The company also withdrew from an associated exhibition.

“In an effort to protect our employees, customers and the RSA Conference community, HBGary has decided to remove our booth and cancel all talks,” it said in a statement posted on its website.

According to e-mails that Anonymous claims to have taken from HBGary’s servers, the company had proposed a plan to undermine Wikileaks.

At the time, the whistleblowing website was planning to release documents relating to Bank of America.

The leaked emails also suggest that HBGary had discovered evidence that US officials were attempting to monitor visitors to websites affiliated to al Qaeda.

These messages have been posted online via the Anonymous-supported site Anonleaks.ru.

– More…

Hackers find plan to attack WikiLeaks

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

– Least anyone wonder, I fully support what Assange’s done.   Governments, and I mean the U.S. especially here, keep far too much secret.   Democracy should be as transparent as it can be consistant with security but most governments err far over that mark.

– So, I applaude Anonymous and their efforts to make the control and suppresdsion of information painful for those who participate in it. – dennis

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LONDON – The computer hackers’ collective Anonymous has uncovered a proposal by a consortium of private contractors to attack and discredit WikiLeaks.

Last week Anonymous volunteers broke into the servers of HB Gary Federal, a security company that sells investigative services to companies, and posted thousands of the firm’s emails on to the internet.

The attack was in revenge for claims by the company’s chief executive Aaron Barr that he had successfully infiltrated the shadowy cyber protest network and discovered details of its leadership and structure.

Hacktivists, journalists and bloggers have since pored over the emails and discovered what appears to be a proposal that was intended to be pitched to the Bank of America to sabotage WikiLeaks and discredit journalists who are sympathetic to the whistle-blowing website.

The PowerPoint presentation claims a trio of internet security companies – HB Gary Federal, Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies – are already prepared to attack WikiLeaks which is rumoured to be getting ready to release a cache of potentially embarrassing information on the Bank of America.

– more…

Food – a growing and very dangerous problem

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

– The news is beginning to show ominous patterns on the subject of food.   Prices are rising, many countries and their populations are near the limit of what they can pay for food before serious food shortages and starvation ensue.   And, inevitably following such events will come political instability, mass migrations and increased violence and fundamentalism.   It is not a pretty picture.   And, it’s been on the approach for some time now.

Reflect on the collection of stories below.   – Dennis

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from history.com:

Sinaloa, the “Breadbasket of Mexico,” devotes over three quarters of its landmass to agricultural production. It is the country’s leading producer of rice and vegetables, and the second largest producer of wheat and beans. Fishing and livestock provide additional revenue, as does Mazatlán’s canning facility, the largest in Latin America…  Agriculture accounts for about 21 percent of the state’s economy.

from Investor Daily 2/11/11:

According to Sysco’s notice sent out this week:
“The early reports [from Sinaloa] are still coming in but most are showing losses of crops in the range of 80 to 100%. Even shade house product was hit by the extremely cold temps. It will take 7-10 days to have a clearer picture from growers and field supervisors, but these growing regions haven’t had cold like this in over half a century.”

China and Drought

China has announced $1 billion in funding to help farmers fight the country’s devastating droughts, according to The Guardian.

The country is facing its worst drought in 60 years right where it hurts the most, the wheat producing province of Shangdong.

China and Russia

The dramatic rise in the price of food commodities for some of the world’s most populous countries is hitting Russia and China hard, according to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.He points out in The Telegraph that the situation is getting worse for Russia and China, and that wheat is not the only worry.

The problem is not just the dramatic 70% rise in wheat prices due to the drought and fires around the Black Sea, but also massive Chinese imports of corn. Corn has increased in price by 40% since June due to that Chinese demand.

–  (Dennis) In addition to the above, which are just the items floating by in the news now, consider the following which I’ve commented/reported on previously:

Americans in Poverty

25 Countries on the brink

The coming Dangerous Year

One Harvest away from Chaos

Wheat Rust never sleeps

Britain and coming Food Shortages

Wheat Crop Time Bomb

Food Shortages and Civilization

–  (Dennis) There are many more similar articles out there.

– Take a look and see if you can find serious upbeat articles saying we have plenty of food capacity and that it’ll all be right in a few months or years as the world reorganizes and copes effeciently with this looming problem.

– Can’t find many?   I’m not surprised.

– Research thanks to Johnathan S. and Kael L. and others.

Privacy – not!

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

– Ever worry about your personal privacy?   Like to keep your address secret?   Love how cute your kids are but would, perhaps, not care to let the entire world know where such cute kids live?   Ever posted pics of your jewelery?    Yes?   Well, I hope you don’t shoot your pics with an iPhone because if you do, you’ve just gotten a whole bunch more to worry about in your life.

– Check out this video:  

– Wonder if such an amazing thing could be true?    It is.   I checked it out with my iPhone and every photo I’ve ever shot has the GPS coordinates of where I shot it embedded in the information that travels with the photo.   Damn!   You’d think on  feature like that, Apple would have set it to ‘off’ unless someone understood the risks and made a conscious decision to turn it “on”.

– dennis

– research thanks to Carol S.

Study reveals rapid deforestation in Malaysia

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

New satellite imagery shows Malaysia is destroying forests more than three times faster than all of Asia combined, and its carbon-rich peat soils of the Sarawak coast are being stripped even faster, according to a study released yesterday.

The report commissioned by the Netherlands-based Wetlands International says Malaysia is uprooting an average 2 percent of the rain forest a year on Sarawak, its largest state on the island of Borneo, or nearly 10 percent over the last five years. Most of it is being converted to palm oil plantations, it said.

The deforestation rate for all of Asia during the same period was 2.8 percent, it said.

In the last five years, 353,000 hectares (872,263 acres) of Malaysia’s peatlands were deforested, or one-third of the swamps which have stored carbon from decomposed plants for millions of years.

“We never knew exactly what was happening in Malaysia and Borneo,” said Wetlands spokesman Alex Kaat. “Now we see there is a huge expansion (of deforestation) with annual rates that are beyond imagination.”

– More…

Researchers say a storm is coming–the most intense solar maximum in fifty years.

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

– Let’s reflect back to an earlier post much along this same line:  

– Food for thought, eh?  – dennis

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t’s official: Solar minimum has arrived. Sunspots have all but vanished. Solar flares are nonexistent. The sun is utterly quiet.

Like the quiet before a storm.

Recently researchers announced that a storm is coming–the most intense solar maximum in fifty years. The prediction comes from a team led by Mausumi Dikpati of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). “The next sunspot cycle will be 30% to 50% stronger than the previous one,” she says. If correct, the years ahead could produce a burst of solar activity second only to the historic Solar Max of 1958.

That was a solar maximum. The Space Age was just beginning: Sputnik was launched in Oct. 1957 and Explorer 1 (the first US satellite) in Jan. 1958. In 1958 you couldn’t tell that a solar storm was underway by looking at the bars on your cell phone; cell phones didn’t exist. Even so, people knew something big was happening when Northern Lights were sighted three times in Mexico. A similar maximum now would be noticed by its effect on cell phones, GPS, weather satellites and many other modern technologies.

– More…

– research thanks to Johnathan S.