Friday, September 29, 2017

September's Natural and Unnatural Disasters

Texas, Florida, Mexico and Puerto Rico--all hard hit by severe
natural disasters, all except Mexico may be partly caused by
climate change. So much heartache and damage in one
month is just too much. It is encouraging, though, to see
so many rush to help the stricken in these unfortunate places,
kudos to them.

Now on to the unnatural disasters: Equifax, Trump and Un,
all three of them holding all our lives in their irresponsible,
incompetent hands. Equifax should be sued and outlawed
out of existence, Trump and Un deposed for all their
sabre rattling warmongering, replete with military menace.
Think of the vast improvement that might bring!

I'm not certain what each of us can do to ameliorate
these threats, but whatever we can, we must.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Where Was their Encryption? Equifax Was Lax

Equifax Had Patch, Didn't Install It, according to USA Today/
Chicago Sun-Times, 09/15/2017. The fix was available
MONTHS before hackers stole info from the credit-reporting
agency. An industry group discovered the vulnerability, shared
a fix for it, but Equifax never installed it. For four months or more
Equifax neglected to inform authorities and the public about the
biggest hack in U.S. history--to their account holders. Why did
they wait and what sort of safeguards had they employed? The
usual technique is encryption, which is often very effective
but not always impregnable.

The policies of the three main credit reporting agencies and
the banks bear heightened scrutiny, holding our most sensitive
and important information. Some banks have contacted
customers in the wake of the Equifax fracas, others are
staying silent. Lawsuits are in the offing, senators also
threatening official congressional consequences.

Equifax and the other two agencies boast very unfriendly
customer practices and restrictions. Why shouldn't we
check our credit every day if we want to? Try that and
see what  happens to your rating. No penalty should
attach to a customer account simply because the account
holder, whose information IT IS, wishes to check it.

Perhaps some good will eventually result from this dangerous
chaos--policy corrections customers can benefit from, and

Until then, we can all see that Equifax was lax.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Bombs and Missiles and Threats, Oh My! End the Korean War NOW

Mr. Un set off a hydrogen bomb recently, to the horror and
consternation of the world outside the DPRK. Not particularly
concerned with life or limb or even his legacy, he inches us all
ever closer to WWIII. Simultaneously, Mr. Trump equals Un's
saber rattling in intensity, threats and military exercises off
the Korean peninsula escalating the madness.

Let's delve into these egotistical crazies to see how they
are even their own worst enemies, to say nothing of ours:
if we are brought to war, their legacies will be unalterably
forever trashed. It is difficult to see how either of them
could be pleased by such  an outcome, but I have a
certain solution destined to favorably enshrine them in
the annals of history: Negotiate an end to the Korean War
which dates back to 1953.

North and South Korea are armed to the teeth just
outside the DMZ. There has never been a peace
treaty between these countries or the United States,
merely an armistice or truce. None of these nations
has seriously attempted to end this dangerous state
of affairs, irresponsible and incompetent leaders
apparently content to allow tensions and ill will
to continue for lo these many decades.

This just won't do; do your jobs, leaders
and diplomats, end this ridiculous war NOW
...and bring some sorely needed peace to the

September 11, 2001 and the Three Who Knew: Nobody Listened

FBI incompetence and personal politics heavily contributed to
the World Trade Center 911 tragedy. Al Qaeda had attacked
the Center previously in 1993, but little follow up allowed the
much  more deadly and ambitious plan to succeed eight years

FBI professionals in three offices, New York City, Minneapolis
and Phoenix reported troubling information that never reached
the highest levels. If the three reports had been put together
we might have saved the over three thousand lives we lost
that early Fall day back in 2001.

Who were the three who knew? In the NYC FBI office,
John O'Neill had warned Al Qaeda might try to finish the
job at the Trade Center it began in 1993. O'Neill had
political enemies at the Bureau who eventually engineered
his firing; he became head of security at the World Trade
Center, dying there on 911. He told friends something
big was coming soon, based on his six years of tracking
terrorists like bin Laden. But at FBI HQ, he was ignored
due to personality conflicts and a few mistakes (leaving
an FBI cell and briefcase unsupervised).

In Minneapolis, Coleen Rowley had good intel regarding
extremist Moussaoui, also ignored. She was an FBI
attorney who had worked in the field for the FBI.
Just three weeks before 911 her office discovered
Moussaoui paid $8,000 for flight school instruction,
specifically, commercial airline plane training. They
arrested him but superiors refused requests to
investigate his laptop. An agent in the Phoenix FBI
office urged his supervisors to investigate Middle
Eastern men who had enrolled at American flight
schools and might be connected to bin Laden...
to no effect.

Think what it may have meant to coordinate
the intel from these THREE offices: flight school
admission policy changed to deny students who
asked for instruction merely to fly large planes
without takeoff and landing training, background
screening stepped up.

Again, it may have meant three thousand lives saved
if the right people had heeded and acted. Since
then, Ms. Rowley has appeared before the Senate,
her testimony resulting in policies and practices
being tightened at the FBI.

Will workers in the field be heard in future? I
wonder: jealousy and incompetence can't be
rooted out by a few policy alterations.

This September 11th marks 16 years of relative
national security since 911...maybe someone IS
finally listening.