Author Archives: Hognose

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

Saturday Matinee 2015 26: Red Tails (2012)

Red Tails opens with a morality play of sorts, set in the sky over Europe in 1943. A few German fighters draw off the P-51 escorts from a bomber raid, and the main German force, led by a lean, hungry fellow in a plane with a yellow nose, falls on the olive-drab B-17s. “Show no mercy!” the German leader intones melodramatically, and the Bf109s don’t, shredding the column. “Where are our escorts?” the helpless bomber crews cry as they die in droves.

red_tails_action

Obviously, they need something better.

That something better comes along as the Red Tails, the 332nd Fighter Group, a segregated unit with black pilots and ground personnel. They prove their worth with obsolete P-40s, then get the real star of the movie, the P-51D Mustang.

red_tails_p-51s

Ultimately they overcome Nazis and racism, but mostly racism, to be the Best Fighter Unit Ever. Music up, roll titles.

This is not the first movie telling the story — or part of the story — of the Tuskegee Airmen, or, at least, the 332nd Fighter Group (there were also Tuskegee B-25 medium bomber units, but they didn’t go overseas). The first movie was in 1945 and was narrated by some B-movie actor named Ronald. The best is probably the 1995 The Tuskegee Airmen, but it can’t hold a candle to the budget, dramatic fighting scenes and enormously improved CGI of Red Tails. It just tells the story better and less crudely.

Acting and Production

The actors are generally very good — a lot better than the script, anyway. They do their best to sell characters who are, unfortunately, just black versions of the Standard Hollywood Combat Squad. The Doomed Religious Guy, the Guy Who Falls In Love With a War Bride, the Guy Who’s Too Insubordinate For His Own Good, The Guy Whose Fear Drives Him To Drink — all, Now Available in Black! It’s not the actors’ fault. They have a piss-poor, not to mention stone-cold-dead, script to bring to life, and they’re just good actors, not Dr. von Frankenstein.

All he was missing was the Rebel flag.

All he was missing was the Rebel flag.

Bryan Cranston’s substantial talents are wasted in a cartoon-villain role as the White Man who’s Keepin’ The Brotherman Down. In general, white Americans are the real enemy and the Germans are just business.

The script probably has its moments, although we can’t remember any. What we remember are over-the-top action scenes and moribund dialogue.

One rather interesting choice the producers made was to have the Germans speak German — without subtitles. This risk works; there’s no problem for a non-German-speaker understanding the gist of their communication, and it adds to the sense that you are on one side, not the other, in this war.

The action sequences are visually and audibly exciting, as long as they keep the music down. But even those scenes break the suspension of disbelief when, in an early combat with Me109s, the green 332nd pilots tearing into a phalanx of the Luftwaffe’s elite, somehow drugged into suicidal zombie mooks by an overdose of Scriptium. It’s hard to be excited by something that has telegraphed that there will be no subtlety or surprise. The producer, Steven Spielberg of all people, apparently has lost faith in his audiences and believes they must be conditioned like Pavlov’s dogs. We hope that he is wrong.

We often mention the score when it displays conspicuous merit, or adds something to the film. In this case, let’s not.

Finally, at about two hours, the movie is somewhere between a half hour and two hours too long.

Accuracy and Weapons

In the 1950s and 1960s, little effort was taken to depict the weapons and war machines accurately or even realistically, in detail. Instead producers concentrated on characters and script. Today, the production values are reversed, with detail minutiae often nailed down painstakingly while the characters are shallow and wooden, and the dialog a pastiche of some other movies’ tropes and clichés.

Because the good guys are the good guys, they’re nearly immune to enemy fire. As mentioned above, on their first encounter with seasoned German fighter pilots, they shoot down a half-dozen without serious loss to themselves, despite flying an obsolete and outclassed airplane at the time (P-40E or F).

The actions of the characters are often ridiculous. At one point, after noting that they’re just about out of fuel and would be violating orders to do it, several of the men follow a damaged (burning, actually) German back to his base, because, otherwise, who would know where that base was? Apparently, whatever they taught a fighter pilot in 1944 it did not include anything about the existence of air or air-order-of-battle intelligence.

Moreover, the story’s point that the way to defeat the Germans was to stick close to the bombers, regardless, flies in the face of all that was known in 1944 about fighter escort tactics.

The CGI is in places brilliant, and in a few places crude.

It’s 2014, and bad guys still wear the equivalent of black hats. So that you know that the one German bad guy is really a bad guy, almost as bad as the white American officers, he has a specially painted plane. In fact, his Me109G bears the black-green/dark-green camouflage of the Bf109E of the Battle of Britain period, with a yellow nose lifted from the “Abbeville boys” or Eastern Front practice.

red_tails_yellow_nose_109

That’s not all. There’s also a broad yellow stripe on the tail because the producers assume you’re a purblind idiot who didn’t see the enormous yellow schnoz on this thing.

red_tails_me109

The CGI made us wonder if the movie industry is picking up some technology from the more-advanced game industry. Unfortunately, they’re still getting their scripts from the less-advanced comic-book industry.

The bottom line

Red Tails is not really bad. As we said, the actors put their heart into it, and the CGI, sets, props, and costumes were done with care. The photography is sometimes beautiful. But the story is weak as water, and given that they started with a great story of World War II that is proven to put heinies in theater seats, what they did here is just disappointing. So we recommend the ’95 one with Laurence Fishburne, despite the ’12 one’s good performance by Cuba Gooding Jr.

For more information

These sites relate to this particular film.

  • Amazon.com DVD page:

http://www.amazon.com/Red-Tails-Cuba-Gooding-Jr/dp/B005LAIGN2/

  • IMDB page:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0485985/

  • IMFDB page (there are some great screen shots and comments here. The flare gun used to launch the fighters is a German one — we missed that):

http://www.imfdb.org/wiki/Red_Tails

  • Rotten Tomatoes review page:

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/red-tails/

  • Wikipedia  page:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Tails

When Guns Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have 1970s Meat

propaganda-poster-communist-chinaIn China, where guns really are outlawed, and where fraud is the national pastime1, the New York Times’s Dan Levine and Crystal Tse note a national fraud scandal that has legs… and wings, and ribs, and briskets. Really old ones. Levine & Tse (alternative Google search if you’re paywalled out):

From rat meat masquerading as lamb to tainted milk to exploding watermelons, Chinese consumers have become inured to stomach-churning food scandals. But on Tuesday, countless people were forced to ponder the benefits of vegetarianism after news reports emerged that unscrupulous meat traders had been peddling tons of beef, pork and chicken wings that in some cases had been frozen for 40 years.

The Chinese news media announced that the authorities had seized nearly half a billion dollars’ worth of smuggled frozen meat this month across China, some of it dating to the 1970s. The caches of beef, pork and chicken wings, worth up to 3 billion renminbi, or $483 million, were discovered in a nationwide crackdown that spanned 14 provinces and regions, the state news agency Xinhua reported.

Well, at least it wasn’t dog. In this case2.

The article delivers punch after punch, interspersed with punchline after punchline, some of them very sly (emphasis ours):

[T]he news of 40-year-old frozen meat being sold to consumers has left even the most seasoned experts in shock.

As annoying as the Times is 99% of the time, this is the 1% that shows they have talented people who could do actual journalism, if only it was a newsroom value. Do go Read The Whole Thing™.

It’s a pity the Chinese didn’t get along better with the Japanese, because they could stand to learn a lot about just-in-time logistics and lean inventory. If your meat supply is backed up a couple of generations (of people, not chickens!), you’re doing it wrong.

Notes

  1. There’s an old SF saying which has to be an old Chinese proverb: “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’. If you get caught, you’re tryin’ too hard.” Of course, in China, if you get caught in a big fraud case, you have a date with a 7.62 x 39 to the back of the neck, not a stint in Club Fed made easy by your millions. Advantage, China.
  2. When someone offers you a “chow puppy,” note that that is a very different thing than a Chow puppy!

We had a post for this time…

Hey, it worked for the Carthaginians.

Hey, it worked for the Carthaginians.

…based on our reaction to the sanguinary sacraments of Mohammedanism that were acted out joyfully in France, Kuwait, Somalia and Tunisia yesterday.

We have decided to hold it for twenty-four hours’ cooling-off.

For those of you seeking amusement, look up the statements of a State Department spokesman, who continues in that positions Harf-wit tradition by being utterly befuddled as to what might have motivated all that mischief, occurring as it did on the holy day of the week, in the holy month of the year, as perceived by a certain religious tradition that is quite foreign to American and Western traditions and values.

May it go the way of its closest cousin, the adoration of Baal as practiced by people of the empire of Carthage, whose erasure from the timeline of history was one of the great gifts bestowed on modernity by the ancients.

If they keep trying they’re going to make us angry. They’re not going to like it.

The Best is the Enemy of the Good, and the Bren X

The Bren X or Bren 10 was a Jeff Cooper brainstorm at the peak of the old Colonel’s celebrity (and his powers). It was based on what Cooper considered the best designed and executed service pistol of the era, but updated for a new round he considered perfect (instead of the stock 9mm, which he disdained). The gun was made with care in a US factory, of the materials Cooper insisted on (Steel and Stainless Steel, none of those lightweight alloys).

It received fawning reviews in every corner of the gun press, except where the reviews crossed the line from “fawning” into “slobbering.” And commercially? It failed. Royally. Resoundingly. Resonatingly. It failed like the Edsel, New Coke, and John Carter. Actually, it failed worse than those: Ford, Coca-Cola, and Disney are still with us, but the Bren Ten killed Dornaus & Dixon, the company that cut the metal to make real Cooper’s conceptual design.

But unlike the Edsel, New Coke and John Carter, the Bren Ten didn’t suck. Now that it’s no longer the cutting-edgiest thing out there, but a period piece, here’s Larry A. Vickers giving the rundown on the gun’s development, versions, and strengths — and weaknesses.

And yeah, there are still Bren 10s around (or Bren Xs to spell it as D&D did) with no magazine! (Mec-Gar or a forerunner made the mags… but somebody botched the Italian export paperwork and for all we know they’re still in a bonded warehouse somewhere in Lombardy).

But the gun didn’t die because it was bad. If anything, too many sincere guys worked too hard to make it the Absolute Best at Everything that they forgot that logistics count even for the individual gun buyer. He has to find ammo, holsters, and yeah, spare magazines. Or his firearm is not a defensive tool but an awkward and oily paperweight.

A lot of things have changed since 1983. (For one thing, more effective defensive ammo has rendered the “puny” 9mm respectable again). As Larry points out, modern polymer, striker-fired guns have diminished the wonder of an SA/DA gun that can be carried cocked-and-locked (Condition One for you old Cooperites). We still like our CZ — the model for the Bren Ten — but we’re no longer riding the crest of the Cool Guy wave. (We’re old, and stout… hey… like Larry). It’s a fact that the hot gun of today becomes the museum piece of tomorrow and the forgotten weapon of the year after that.

But if you’re going to call yourself educated, you owe it to yourself to learn about all those has-been hot guns, as well as today’s hot numbers. Maybe the Bren Ten is only playing on the gun equivalent of oldies stations, but it still has a catchy hook.

Live Free, or Live In Massachusetts, No. 32.

People's Republic of MassachusettsSo once a month the venerable OED adds new words (and less publicly, sometimes prunes dormant ones). The June 2015 update is described like this:

Around 500 new words, phrases, and senses have entered the Oxford English Dictionary in this quarter’s update. Additions this June include twerk, FLOTUS, yarn-bombing, and crowdfund. You can read more about the new and revised words and meanings in this article by Katherine Connor Martin, Head of US Dictionaries.

via June 2015 update | Oxford English Dictionary.

As anyone who’s had to deal with Massachusetts statism or gun laws (sides of one coin, perhaps) knows, the residents of the state have long been known by a particular crude portmanteau: Massholes. Yes, Masshole, “a term of contempt for a native or inhabitant of Massachusetts,”  is now it;s own entry in the OED.

masshole_definition

The OED traces the word to 1989, and notes that other 1980s words that have made it to the OED are gangsta, stank, and yuppie. Do we see a pattern emerging?

The gangsta wrinkled his nose. Usually it was too numbed by Bolivian marching powder to scent much, but this aroma was beyond ignoring. “What is that stank?” he thought. It could only be the worst of all worlds — a yuppie Masshole. He eyed his Glock cautiously. In all the excitement, he’d lost count. Did he fire 16 shots, or all 17?

We hope all you trust-fund kids dreaming of “common sense gun laws” like confiscation are happy, now that you’re famous. You Massholes.

Fix My Breakup or The Little Red Hen Gets It!

"It's dead, Jim."

“It’s dead, Jim.”

That seems to have been the ultimatum a young Alabama man gave his mother. She didn’t do what he wanted, and he began killing a hostage every fifteen minutes.

The hostages? Her flock of chickens. Haden Smith had bumped off an hour and a half’s worth of fowl bargaining chips before deputies arrived. He had threatened to kill them, but they either were a tougher egg to crack… or he just chickened out.

Romeo Montague Haden Smith. Sorry easy mistake, right?

Romeo Montague Haden Smith. Sorry! Easy mistake, right?

Haden Smith, 18, was arrested Thursday and charged with domestic violence third degree and criminal mischief. Deputies say the situation started when Smith texted his mother, threatening to kill one of her chickens every 15 minutes until she contacted his girlfriend’s parents and attempted to mend their broken relationship.

Deputies claim Smith gave his mother a deadline of noon before he started to kill the chickens. They also say he threatened to burn his mother’s house down, kill any deputies that arrived on the scene, and kill himself.

He then began sending his mother picture messages of each chicken he killed at 15-minute intervals, killing six in total before he was arrested, deputies say.

As we’ve noted before, Huntsville, Alabama has quite a few pukka rocket scientists there, but the rural areas in the WHNT broadcast area may include some, er, more traditionally Alabaman newsmakers. Do Read The Whole Thing™, but we do want to share the WHNT producer’s perfect ending with you:

There’s no word on Smith’s current relationship status.

Boom.

How are we going to top that?

"Hmmmm... tastes like chicken!"

“Hmmmm… tastes like chicken!”

Somehow we doubt that Suzy is weeping over Haden’s mugshot, going, “He does love me… he was willing to slay chickens for me.”

Rangerette Micro-Update

RangerTabRAP week is over. The two LTs and one MAJ have passed it for a second time. RAP week includes all the events that weed out the completely unprepared: PT test, a minimal swim test, various water events, a laughable land nav course that still produces over 10% failures, Ranger runs and a rucksack march. The women, like most of their male peers, passed these tests to standard.

Off to Darby again, where these three officers have performed well enough in the past that Brigade Commander COL David Fivecoat (an avid supporter of the women in Ranger School initiative) expects them to finally pass some patrols.

These officers have received generally positive peer reports, but none of them has passed a single graded patrol.

Ranger students must pass one patrol in each phase, at least four patrols overall, and at least half of their assigned graded patrol leadership positions. Recycles get their counter reset to zero.

An interesting thing is happening. The attrition of the men serving alongside these women is higher than it is usually in all-male classes. Higher enough to be noticeable, but not completely out of range of Ranger School experience (which is decently well documented over a longitudinal span of some 65 years). There’s not enough data yet to suggest whether this result was a one-class anomaly or whether it will be the norm with women students on board.

We may have some observations on the psychological and behavioral differences that instructors have observed, later this week.

Industry News Roundup

It’s a day when things are moving and shaking in the industry, some up, some down. Two of the most interesting are Colt and PTR Industries.

Colt

Colt’s Chapter 11 filing is proceeding, and the court seems willing to leave the looters the current management in charge. As this management appears to be more interested in operating the company to allow more and greater opportunities to load it with debt and pocket the cash, and the company right now is at 100% debt saturation, the debt will have to be erased or at least significantly diminished by the court for Colt to emerge from Chapter 11.

colt_bankruptcy_banner

A hearing was held Wednesday in which at least some bond holders tried to challenge the Colt proceedings (agenda here; pdf) but there does not seem to have been any significant result.

The company is unlikely to be able to make a true recovery as long as the Sciens Capital hedgies are in charge. But a true recovery doesn’t really appear to be their objective.

Don’t read too much into news that, “Colt has secured financing.” Read this press release, not yet on Colt’s website, and you’ll see that this is simply debtor-in-possession financing that’s a pretty normal and usual feature of Chapter 11 reorganization. This loan will have priority for payoff, but it’s there to provide the necessary cash to support ongoing operations.

Colt’s official filings in the case will be here.

http://www.kccllc.net/coltdefense

That site is operated by Kurtzman Carson Consultants, one of a small army of consultants, advisors, facilitators, and personified transaction-costs that pigpile on debtors in bankruptcy cases; think of them as opportunistic infections.

PTR Industries

From Horry County, SC, comes the unhappy news that PTR Industries, the Connecticut transplant, is having a hard time paying its rent and has been since 2014.

ptrindustries

It’s just been put on notice by the county (which owns its building) for the second time (the first was six months ago).

County officials sent a default notice to PTR on June 10 stating that the company had 30 days to pay its rent or the county would retake the building the company leases in the Cool Springs Business Park.

“We’ve come to a point in time where we’ve actually put them on notice that we’re looking at exercising our rights under the lease agreement to recover those arrearages,” said Arrigo Carotti, county attorney.

The letter states that county officials have tried to work out a payment plan with the company but haven’t received any payments since March 23. Horry leaders remain open to negotiating a repayment plan, but the notice stresses that the company must address the matter quickly.

“So it’s come to a point in time where we need some definitive action taken on their part,” Carotti said, adding PTR has responded to the county’s letter, but would not get into detail about the letter because it deals with contractual matters. “The county is not at the point of saying we’re going to evict you and that’s it. If the county could work something out with PTR, that would probably be our preference.”

It sounds as if PTR is struggling to make the payments arranged in a payment plan worked out after the January notice. Rent is not the only problem the company’s having, with some suppliers also complaining of arrears and missing payments. Do Read The Whole Thing at the Myrtle Beach Sun-News. Hat tip, Nathan S. at TFB.

Other Firms?

TFB also has news of layoffs at Surefire due to declining military sales. We’ve heard a local rumor of possible layoffs at SIG-Sauer but nothing in the news yet.

Publicly held firearms firms are doing well. Sturm, Ruger NYSE: RGR), which fell from its January 2014 peak of over $80 a share all the year long and bottomed at $34.50, has risen back to $57 largely on the strength of the market in general; Smith and Wesson (SWHC), normally much more volatile than Ruger, declined less in 2014, proportionately, and is trading at nearly $17, a five year high. It filed some statements with the SEC today and the directors have authorized a buyback of $50 million in stock. (A buyback is often a management vote of confidence in the future of the firm, and tends to support the price of the stock).

(Sorry for the delay in getting this post put up. Delays may continue all day Friday and into Saturday; stuff in the analog world keeps rescheduling our days – Ed.).

Five Depressing Developments on the OPM Data Compromise

1: How Did It Happen? Well, Why Did Your Car With The Top Down, Keys In, Parked in Da Hood Get Stolen?

The OPM Logo: an eagle being stretched on a rack, or maybe drawn and quartered.

The OPM Logo: an eagle being stretched on a rack, or maybe drawn and quartered.

First, here’s Charlie Martin on why it happened:

Someone, somewhere, decided that they didn’t want to spend the money: undoubtedly they had budget constraints.

So the sensitivity of the data wasn’t properly identified, passwords were used instead of a stronger scheme, the systems involved had “superuser” or “root” accounts that by definition have access to everything, and the users who had access to those root accounts were Chinese nationals in China, who — I think we can fairly say — didn’t meet the U.S. government’s standards for computer security.

Perhaps the biggest issue of all is that the government had centralized the collection of that data into a single web-based system, e-QIP, which means that all this data was collected in one place.

I would bet money that each of these decisions came down to someone saying: “Oh, that’s too hard,” “Hiring offshore workers is cheaper,” “That’s too inconvenient.”

At each of those steps, some security was lost because someone decided it was easier to relax the requirements than to get the more expensive and annoying solution. And while the inspector general was calling out the hazards, no one was willing to rock the boat.

It’s worth it to Read The Whole Thing™ — Charlie’s been around long enough to see a Death March software project or two — but the bottom line seems to be, because OPM secured it like the Last Guy Still Using AOL® secured his cute-kitten .jpg files.

2: Nobody Knows How Big The Numbers Are — Because Execs Are Lying

Second, there are some new numbers, and we’re expecting the release of even larger numbers Friday (too late for the evening news). We’ve seen the numbers build from 2.9 to 4 to 14 to 18 to 29 to 32 Million. It gets hazy fast. For instance:

  • OPM Director Katharine (“Fat, Incompetent and Stupid is so a way to go through life”) Archuleta, selected for that job by the usual process of Washington racial/ethnic/sex beancounting, insisted that the agency’s final number was 4.2 million. At the same hearing, an FBI officer, Acting Assistant Director for Cyber James Trainor, stood by the Bureau’s 18 million estimate, briefed earlier to Senators by FBI Director James Comey. Trainor, unlike Archuleta, showed his work: an OPM memo, exposing Archuleta as either an incomptent, a liar, or (the smart money says) an incompetent liar.
  • House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, brought up the 32 million number. However, that’s just the cleared personnel and applicants that OPM has mishandled data for; each person’s 150-page questionnaire or electronic equivalent also exposes the data of numerous other persons (references, employers and supervisors, family members, foreign friends) and, more alarmingly yet, the threads that form the skein of relationships of all those people have also been exposed to a hostile intelligence service.

Of course, their defense is, they’re not lying, they’re just so wrapped up in their own red tape they can’t generate diddly.

what OPM usually does

But the bottom line is this: if you have completed an SF 86 paper security questionnaire or the replacement Electronic Personnel Security Questionnaire (EPSQ) on e-QIP at any time since the early or mid-1980s, you had best assume your secrets are secrets no more.

OPM did not investigate all DOE clearances, so if you had a nuclear clearance but not a DOD one,  your information may be safe.

3: They Say They’re Not Lying Now; Forget Lie They Got Caught In Already

Third, the data was exposed as early as 2013 and the OPM senior executives cooperated, de facto, with the hostile intelligence service by minimizing and concealing the extent and seriousness of the breach then. CNN again (emphasis ours):

The roots of the recent OPM breach could be traced to an earlier 2013 OPM breach, investigators now believe. At the time, OPM officials minimized what was taken by hackers, who are believed to be the same responsible for the latest breach. But it turned out what was taken provided blueprints to the OPM network, valuable information for future intruders.

At Wednesday’s House Oversight hearing, Donna Seymour, the agency’s chief information officer, said that in the 2013 breach, hackers took “some manuals about our systems.”

Asked if those manuals were akin to blueprints of OPM’s computer systems, Seymour answered, “It would be fair to say that would give you enough information that you could learn about the platform, the infrastructure of our system, yes.”

Seymour called it a breach of security.

But that contrasts with earlier statements by OPM officials.

What do you think… are they lying now, or were they lying then? Does what we should do with them change based on the answer to this question? (What should we do with them? And should it involve tar, feathers, fire, a trebuchet, and easy assembly instructions?)

In a 2014 interview with WJLA-TV in Washington about the 2013 breach, Archuleta minimized the damage.

“I can tell you the most important piece: No personal identification information was compromised,” she said. “That’s the most important thing. That happened because of the good work and dedication of our employees.”

About the 2013 breach, Archuleta added: “Again, we did not have a breach in security. There was no information that was lost. We were confident as we worked through this that we would be able to protect the data.”

She’s right about one thing: this has happened because of the good work and dedication of her and her employees. Although we’re not sure what the adjective “good” is doing in there.

But it now looks like they didn’t just minimize the response. They deliberately misrepresented the scope and scale of the compromise, according to the Wall Street Journal (requisite Google Search if you’re paywalled out).

The Obama administration for more than a week avoided disclosing the severity of an intrusion into federal computers by defining it as two breaches but divulging just one, said people familiar with the matter.

But:

An OPM spokeswoman said the agency had been “completely consistent’’ in its accounting of the data breach.

Well, yeah, she and her agency have been completely consistent. They’ve consistently lied. Example? Here’s one from that same article:

A day after the public announcement, an OPM spokesman said there was “no evidence to suggest that information other than what is normally found in a personnel file has been exposed.’’ By that time, the FBI already knew—and told OPM—that security-clearance forms had been tapped, officials said.

You can tell when Archuleta and Co. lie. Their lips move.

4: Did You Hear The One About The Screwed-Up Response?

Fourth, when the OPM went to notify even the initial 4.2 million victims they admit having, they botched it all over again, using a wildly insecure and unverified email system. (Hardly a surprise. Most key OPM systems were and are running with no or self-generated encryption and signing certificates). According to Navy Live (an official DOD site):

OPM began conducting notifications to affected individuals using email and/or USPS First Class mail on June 8, 2015. Recognizing the inherent security concerns in this methodology, with OPM and CSID support, DoD suspended notifications to employees on June 11, 2015, until an improved, more secure notification and response process is in place. Late June 15, 2015, OPM advised that email notification resumed. Email notifications should be complete by June 22, 2015. U.S. Postal mail notifications will take longer.

By the way, here’s what an email fraud alert for the crapola lowest-bidder “credit monitoring” service OPM bought no-bid from some crony and is force-feeding to victims looks like:

hacker_insurance_alert

Yeah, just like a Nigerian scam!

Are that company’s servers as secure as OPM’s (which is to say, not terribly?) Or do you just get hacked yourself if you’re dumb enough to click the Log In Now button in a shady-smelling email like this? Click that red button and you may just find out. (Not here of course. Here it is just a harmless picture. We think).

5: FLEOA’s Recommendation Doesn’t Work

Fifth, here is what is happening when federal Special Agents, intelligence agency staff and contractors, and other cleared personnel call up the credit bureaux about their records, they’re getting blown off. As one disillusioned Fed put it to us:

The credit companies have so many calls from government employees for fraud alerts that they want you to go online and do it. They do not want your call.

At first, the staff at Experian, TransUnion, etc., may have fielded the calls personally, but soon the party line was “Don’t waste time on Federal employees and contractors.” Those unfortunates should not expect personal service; after all, the credit resellers aren’t getting paid for helping victims of enemies foreign (hackers) and domestic (OPM brass). Instead, some outfit you never heard of got a huge no-bid contract to further surveil you. (Wonder if there’s a kickback to the OPM panjandrums).

“Hang up and order a credit report online.” Click.

Soon, the firms’ initial voicemail menus were changed to cut hack victims off before even getting to that point. When you dial in, before you get the voice menu, you’re told not to bother calling the telephone line, if you’re an OPM victim. They can’t stop you from getting your one statutory credit report per year, but they can make it as difficult as they like — and they do.

The Bottom Line

OPM, after doing just about everything they could do to give away the security data, now is finger-pointing, to the extent it’s doing anything. (Hey, you can’t interfere with the 10 AM-3 PM Federal workday with a two-hour lunch. That’s an entitlement for these drones). They haven’t even updated their own data breach information page since the 23rd — two full days ago.

Director Archuleta seems to think that these so-called “workers” are more useful to the taxpayers than the same number of empty chairs. Where’s the evidence for that proposition?

She also thinks that OPM has been a good steward of secret and sensitive information. On which planet, in which galaxy, does this remarkable condition obtain? Not, we submit, on ours.

She has decided, to the extent this idle bag of suet decides anything, that what the OPM really needs to recover from this Grand Slam of Beltway hackery is to hire another Beltway tusker, to be called a “Cybersecurity Advisor.”

Sounds like a job for Jamie Gorelick.

When Guns Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Knives and Axes

These are not the crime weapons. In fact, they're handmade tools from the Contemporary Makers blog; we just liked the picture.

These are not the crime weapons. In fact, they’re handmade tools from the Contemporary Makers blog; we just liked the picture.

A dual-wielding Briton (for some values of Briton, which include the right to abuse your arranged-marriage bride from the old country), Mohammed Zaman, managed to execute the other kind of sharia-compliant divorce last year, and is on trial now, because Leicester Crown Court doesn’t apparently take that kind of thing with the breezy nonchalance of Pakistani jurists.

[Witness Tariq] Hussain told a jury: “He looked like a devil. He had blood on the palm of his right hand.

“He said he had drunk something so I called the police and an ambulance.”

Dafydd Enoch QC prosecuting told Leicester Crown Court: “The defendant admits he killed his wife. But he has pleaded not guilty to murder.”

Mr Enoch said: “He is claiming loss of control. But we say the defendant committed “a brutal and premeditated murder.”

What, you didn’t kill her, Mohammed, it was that other guy “Mister Hyde”?

He said that early on January 8, 2014 Zaman (45) started beating his wife Sameena.

Mr Enoch added: “He then hit her with an axe on the head and shoulder.

“There were defensive wounds on her arms.

“He then stabbed her in the neck with a knife. He punctured a major artery and she bled to death.”

He said that the arranged marriage was in difficulties and neighbours told police they often saw bruises on Sameena’s arms. They also heard them quarrelling and Zaman appeared to be controlling. The court heard they also had money problems.

Mr Enoch said police had examined Zaman’s phone and his computer.

Gee. Did they find, like, evidence? What do you think?

He said that for a year Zaman had been accessing sites including: “How to kill a wife with an axe” and “How bad is it in jail UK?”

via Wife killed by husband in a ‘frenzied axe and knife attack’ at their Leicester home | Leicester Mercury.

Our guess is that he’s going to be able to answer the second of his questions quite thoroughly before they’re done with him.