Hacking Hacking Everywhere

by: the Common Constitutionalist

Recently Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke at an international security conference in Singapore. During his speech he said: “The United States has expressed our concerns about the growing threat of cyber intrusions.”

He was speaking of the cyber attacks on our military by the Chinese government. For quite some time China has been hacking U.S. computer networks, stealing data, both government and corporate.

Hagel continued: “The key is for the differences to be addressed on the basis of a continuous and respectful dialogue. The two nations must build trust in order to avoid military miscalculations.”

Well isn’t this the Wok calling the kettle black or vice versa. Or maybe it’s some sort of sick poetic justice.

Why, whatever do you mean, you might say?

Is this not virtually the same thing our government is doing to us, particularly to those on the right?

Yet while China says almost nothing about their hacking and data mining, our president mockingly states in a speech about a month ago that the right wing fear mongers (my words, not his) will constantly “warn that tyranny is right around the corner”.

Well, I’m here to say he’s wrong. It’s not right around the corner; it’s all up in our grill (a little street lingo).

Hagel pledged that: “The U.S. is determined to work closely with China and other nations to establish appropriate standards for behavior in cyberspace.”

How sweet that we want to make nice and work with the Chinese while our own anti-constitutional government collects so much data on us it would make Orwell blush.

Data on potentially everyone in the country via the NSA’s “PRISM” program, all housed in a massive new 1 million square-foot storage facility in Utah.

What China is doing is abhorrent, but is it really that much different than what the Obama team is perpetrating on us?

The NSA has direct access to the servers of nine major Internet companies. They can now track every e-mail, photograph, every video as well as all other forms of electronic communication.

It’s funny (not ha ha) that our “leaders” are all about the spread of freedom and democracy throughout the globe. They pontificate against totalitarian regimes in foreign lands, yet call us alarmists when we see the same things happening here.

Obama stated that you can’t have 100% freedom and 100% security. I agree, but I wasn’t aware freedom is a zero-sum game.

Rare Snow Leopard Shots

 

Rare close-up footage of   the snow leopard, one of the world’s most  endangered species, has emerged.

Taken using a hidden camera, the footage  shows a snow leopard in the mountains of Qinghai Province, China.

The images were captured on infrared cameras  by wildlife photographer Matse Rangja, who has only  managed to film the leopard once before in eight years.

Scroll down for  video

 
The rare footage, showing a snow leopard up-close and personal has emerged to delight nature enthusiasts
The rare footage, showing a snow leopard up-close and  personal has emerged to delight nature enthusiasts

 

 
The footage was taken in the mountains of Qinghai Province, China
The footage was taken in the mountains of Qinghai  Province, China

Rangja hide the infrared camera between two  rocks, so he could be out of sight and not scare the animal away.

The video shows a curious snow leopard  sniffing around the rock and then walking over to the camera to check it out.

Snow leopards are rarely seen by humans and  are listed on the International Union for the Conservation  of Nature’s red list of threatened species.

It is estimated the total worldwide  population is only around the 5,000 mark.

 
What's this? The inquisitive snow leopard takes a closer look at the camera
What’s this? The inquisitive snow leopard takes a closer  look at the camera

 

 
The camera was hidden in some rocks so as not to scare the snow leopard away
The camera was hidden in some rocks so as not to scare  the snow leopard away

 

 
The camera, hidden between two rocks, has captured the intimate images
The camera, hidden between two rocks, has captured the  intimate images

 

 
It is believed there are only 5,000 snow leopards left in the world
It is believed there are only 5,000 snow leopards left  in the world

 

Attribution: Paul Milligan, Mail Online

Baby On Board?

Chinese woman used fake baby bump

 

A Chinese woman who wore a fake baby bump to  trick subway passengers into offer her a seat tried to land the manufacturer in  trouble after it fell out on a crowded train.

The Beijing woman complained about the  quality of the silicone belly after being left red-faced and has been branded a  ‘disgrace’ and ‘shameless’.

The woman, named by local media as Zhang,  told the Liyuan Industrial and Commercial Bureau that the belt tying the bump to  her waist had come loose, leaving her ‘found out and mocked’.

Trick: An Chinese advert for a silicone baby bump, similar to the one used by a woman to get a subway seat
A Chinese advert for a silicone baby bump,  similar to the one used by a woman to get a subway seat

Zhang complained that the belly had cost her 300 yuan ($53) and was advertised as ‘very realistic’.

But the bureau has thrown out her complaint because she had not ‘purchased or used commodities, or received services, as a consumer should for daily use’.

More than 2.1 million people use the subway in the Chinese city, and popular opinion is firmly against the woman’s stunt.

The People’s Daily asked ‘who exactly shows the poor quality’, while a report in Want China Times bemoaned the fact such  pregnancy bellies are big online sellers.

It added: ‘Shoppers use the items – among  other reasons – for faking a pregnancy before adopting a child to avoid being laid off at work, and to enjoy privileges to which pregnant women are  accustomed.

Growing problem: Reports of Chinese woman the silicone bellies are becoming more common
 Reports of Chinese woman the silicone  bellies are becoming more common

‘Those products are priced at 400-1,200 yuan  (USA$65-$190) and are available in various sizes according to the length of the  pregnancy.

‘Sizes include approximations to a belly at two to four months, five to seven months, and eight to 10  months.’

The newspaper also reported a woman spending  1,300 yuan ($210) on a set of fake bellies to help her and her husband’s plan to adopt a baby and claim it was their own.

It also said a woman at a marketing  firm in Chongqing used fake bellies to cover up her ‘lackadaisical  business performance’ but was fired when her boss found out.

 

Attribution: Mail Online

Danger, VERY Wide Loads

 Chinese drivers push their vehicles to the limit with hilariously huge cargoes

It is surely a recipe for disaster, but many  Chinese motorists cannot resist the urge to pile their tricycles and trucks as  high as they possibly can while they move their goods – and families – across  town.

Seemingly relaxed, these pictures show  drivers on Chinese roads going about their daily business with alarming volumes  of precarious cargo tottering above their heads.

Pictures from across China show  ridiculously heavy trucks leaning at unusual angles, and tractors  stacked  15-foot-high with recycled bottles and plastic negotiating roads full of  traffic.

These motorists give the term “wide load” a  whole new meaning.

HAI'AN, CHINA
 This truck is clearly battling with  its load as it veers along a national highway in Hai’an, China but it looks as  though it would have a soft landing if it did keel over
NANCHANG, CHINA
 A truck driver keeps his precarious  logs in place, but has to stop to explain to a traffic police officer in  Nanchang, China

 

A fearless bike rider has his goods and family piled above his head as he pedals hard down the street
 A fearless bike rider has his goods and  family piled above his head as he pedals hard down the street
A mound of polystyrene boxes on a street in Xi'an
 A mound of polystyrene boxes on a  street in Xi’an
This pair look unperturbed by the bag towering above their motorcycle in Nanjing
This pair look unperturbed by the bag  towering above their motorcycle in Nanjing
A collector pushes a tricycle carrying bags of recyclable waste in Shanghai
 A collector pushes a tricycle carrying bags  of recyclable waste in Shanghai

 

 A fellow cyclist laughs at her the collector with his enormous baggage in Shanghai
 A fellow cyclist laughs at her the collector  with his enormous baggage in Shanghai

 

A collector of recyclable waste in pushes along his enormous plastic bottle collection in Shanghai
 A collector of recyclable waste in  pushes along his enormous plastic bottle collection in Shanghai

 

Bundled up polystyrene boxes in Xi'an make it difficult for other motorists to get around without causing an accident
Bundled up polystyrene boxes in Xi’an  make it difficult for other motorists to get around without causing an  accident

 

A family squeezes under mounds of plastic bags that are nearly scraping the ground in Taiyuan
A family squeezes under mounds  of plastic bags that are nearly scraping the ground in Taiyuan

The images that were taken from across  China, including cities such as Shanghai, Shouguang as-well-as rural  Huai-an,  show that fellow road-users have to be very weary of these  heavy loaders – there could be disastrous cases of lost-loads and  accidents clogging up the  roads. could strike in the form of a giant  lost-load.

Chinese photographer An Fu, 44, explained  what it was like to witness real-life bulk carriers at their most  laden.

‘These carriers are dangerous,’ said  An.

‘Sometimes they fall over into the road or  the driver is stopped by the police because they’re overloaded.’

‘Drivers load their vehicles with so many  goods because they need to carry as many goods as possible to save money and  time.’

There have been several recent high profile  accidents because of this overloading problem.

Last year, a Chinese driver whose truck was  so heavy the bridge he drove on collapsed was sent the nearly £16m bill for the  repair work.

A collector rides a motor tricycle carrying bags of recyclable waste in Yuyao, China
A rubbish collector battles along the  road in Yuyao, China
An motor tricycle negotiates a main road in Guiyang with coils of wound-up household materials
An motor tricycle negotiates  a main road in Guiyang with coils of wound-up household materials

 the motor tricycle in Guiyang has coils of plastic spilling out both right and left
 the motor tricycle in Guiyang  has coils of plastic spilling out both right and left

 

 A man and his companion ride a tricycle engulfed by bags of plastic foam
 A man and his companion ride a  tricycle engulfed by bags of plastic foam

 

The woman in Shanghai with all her boxes on her bike does not have a hope of seeing traffic coming behind her
The woman in Shanghai with all her  boxes on her bike does not have a hope of seeing traffic coming behind  her

The authorities are serious about clamping  down on the tradition, however cost-effective it is.

‘They always need to cut the costs of fuel  from multiple trips and like the rest of us time is money for these  hard-workers,’ An said.

‘Many drivers don’t have the best vehicles to  distribute recycling and other goods they need to transport.’

‘So they make the best of what they  have.’

An electric tricycle moves slowly through Zhuji
Not just piling it up, but piling it back: An electric  tricycle moves slowly through Zhuji
A man drives a tractor carrying bags of paddy in Huai'an, China
 A driver smokes a cigarette  while his tractor lugs bags of paddy rice in Huai’an, China

 

This man in Beijing looks worryingly close to be being squashed under the load above his head
 This man in Beijing looks worryingly  close to be being squashed under the load above his head

 

a truck comes to a standstill on a national highway in Hai'an
 A truck comes to a  standstill on a national highway in Hai’an

 

An orderly though huge stack of bags in Shouguang
 An orderly though huge stack of bags in  Shouguang

Attribution: Olivia Williams, Daily Mail

A Tricycle Built for Home

The house built on a TRICYCLE for those who can’t afford their own place

As the populations of the world’s major cities continue to grow, accommodation will become an increasingly sought-after commodity.

Now designers in China, which itself has more than one billion inhabitants, have come up with a potential solution.

It’s a mobile home called the Tricycle House that has been created for people who cannot afford their own home. It is equipped with an integrated water tank, bath tub and a stove.

 
A true mobile home: Chinese architects have designed a house on the back of a tricycle in a bid to address the world's population boom
A true mobile home: Chinese architects have designed a  house on the back of a tricycle in a bid to address the world’s population  boom

 

 
Addressing housing crisis: The Tricycle House has been created for people who cannot afford their own home
Addressing housing crisis: The Tricycle House has been  created for people who cannot afford their own home
 
The Tricycle Home even comes with a bath and shower
The Tricycle Home
The Tricycle Home even comes with its  own bath and shower as well as kitchen facilities

The bed transforms into a dining table or a bench to make the interior versatile and suitable for any occasions.

Modular design allows for expansion and  interconnection between units.

The unit itself is made of translucent plastic which lets in natural light during the day and the glow from street lamps at night.

The house is fitted onto the frame of a tricycle and so can be taken just about anywhere.

 

 
The bed transforms into a dining table
The bed turns into a dining table and vice versa
The bed transforms into a dining table or a  bench to make the interior suitable for any occasions
 
All the mod cons: The home is equipped with a dining table, integrated water tank and bath tub
The home is equipped with a dining  table, integrated water tank and bath tub
 

It has been created by the People’s Industrial Design and People’s Architecture Office based in the Chinese capital of Beijing.

The Tricycle House was made for the 2012 “Get It Louder “Exhibition in Beijing.

A spokesman explained: ‘Private ownership of  land in China does not exist.

‘The Tricycle House suggests a future embrace of the temporary relationship between people and the land they occupy.’

‘In a crowded Chinese city single family  homes can be affordable and sustainable, parking lots are used at night, and traffic jams are acceptable.

 
On the move: The until itself is made of translucent plastic which lets in natural light during the day and the glow from street lamps at night
The unit itself is made of translucent  plastic which lets in natural light during the day and the glow from street  lamps at night
 
Nomadic: The house is fitted onto the frame of a tricycle and so can be taken just about anywhere
The house is fitted onto the frame of a  tricycle and so can be taken just about anywhere

‘As a construction method we experimented with folded plastic. Each piece of the house is cut with a CNC router, scored, folded and welded into shape.

‘The plastic, polypropylene, can be folded without losing its strength.’

‘Therefore the house can open up to the  outside, expand like an accordion for more space, and connect to other  houses.’

‘The plastic is translucent allowing the  interior to be lit by the sun during the day or street lamps at night.’

‘The Tricycle House is man-powered and operates off-the-grid.

‘Facilities in the house include a sink and stove, a bathtub, a water tank, and furniture that can transform from a bed to a dining table and bench to a bench and counter top.

‘The sink, stove, and bathtub can collapse  into the front wall of the house.’

Attribution: Simon Tomlinson, Daily Mail

 

Are We Running Out?

China’s rare earth reserves account for approximately 23 percent of the world’s total – but are being excessively exploited, the Chinese government claims.

Although 23 per cent doesn’t appear to be a high percentage for one nation to possess, China supplies over 90 percent of rare earth products on the global market.

We need the raw materials – chemicals such as yttrium, which is used in TVs, or lanthanum, used for camera lenses – for the modern tools we use everyday.

There is a risk that if China starts reducing its output, we may see spiralling prices for our modern accessories – or even simply be able to produce them in the first place.

According to the white paper titled ‘Situation and Policies of China’s Rare Earth Industry’, the country has ‘paid a big price’ for problems in its rare earth industry like excessive exploitation, environmental damages, unhealthy industrial structure, under-rated prices and rampant smuggling.

The white paper said China has seen declining rare earth reserves in major mining areas, with the reserve-extraction ratio of ion-absorption rare earth mines in southern provinces slumping to 15 from 50 two decades ago.

In North China’s Baotou city, only one-third of the original volume of rare earth resources is still available in the main mining areas, it added.

Meanwhile, outdated production processes and techniques have severely damaged the environment. The paper noted that excessive mining has resulted in landslides and pollution emergencies and even major disasters in some places.

The industry is also plagued by over-capacity in low-end product manufacturing and the fact that prices of rare earth products fail to reflect their value and scarcity despite a gradual rise since the second half of 2010, according to the white paper.

Rising demand for rare earth products has fueled smuggling, with the volume of rare earth products imported from China calculated by foreign customs reaching 1.2 times the export volume counted by the Chinese customs in 2011, added the white paper.

China is the world’s largest producer of rare earths, a group of 17 metals vital for manufacturing products ranging from smart phones, wind turbines, electric car batteries to missiles.

 SO WHAT ARE RARE EARTH MATERIALS?

Rare Earth materials, as there name implies, are found on Earth. They may not necessarily be rare, but they can be tough to harvest as they can be spread throughout the earth’s crust.

This is a list of rare earth materials, many of which are mined and sold in China.

  • Scandium – used for aerospace components, and an additive in Mercury lamps
  • Yttrium – used in TVs, high-temperature superconductors, and microwave filters
  • Lanthanum used for battery-electrodes, camera lenses, and in the oil industry
  • Cerium – used as polishing powder, yellow colors in glass and ceramics, self-cleaning ovens, and the flints in lighters
  • Praseodymium – used for certain magnets, lasers, carbon arc lighting, and as a colorant in glasses and enamels
  • Neodymium – used in magnets, lasers, violet colors in glass and ceramics, and ceramic capacitors
  • Promethium – used in nuclear batteries
  • Samarium – used in lasers, neutron capture, masers
  • Europium – used in lasers and mercury lamps
  • Gadolinium – used in lasers, X-ray tubes, computer memories, neutron capture, and MRI machines
  • Terbium – used in fluorescent lamps
  • Dysprosium – used in magnets and lasers
  • Holmium – used in lasers
  • Erbium – used in lasers
  • Thulium – used in some X-ray machines
  • Ytterbium – used in infrared lasers and chemical research
  • Lutetium – used in PET Scan detectors and high refractive index glass

Attribution: Mail Online

You Just Got Cut

The makers of Men in Black 3 might not have realized that setting parts of the film in New York’s Chinatown would cause such a stir on the other side of the world.

But the Chinese government apparently saw plenty of political resonance in one scene where Will Smith, playing a US secret agent, erases the memories of a group of Chinese bystanders.

“This could have been a hint on the use of internet censorship to maintain social stability,” commented China’s Southern Daily newspaper.

Meanwhile two other scenes, where unsavory aliens disguise themselves as Chinese restaurant workers, were also judged to have cast China in a bad light.

Such micromanagement by the government is not new. Scenes showing a Chinese pirate in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End were cut on the mainland.

“I remember watching Mission Impossible here and they garbled some of the dialogue,” said Dan Mintz, the head of DMG, a Beijing production company that is shooting the next Iron Man movie in China later this year.

Iron Man 3 is the largest movie to be co-produced in China to date, as Hollywood wakes up to the potential of the Chinese market.

However, given the Communist party’s determination to make sure China is always shown in a good light, filmmakers are facing serious hurdles in getting movies past the censors.

“Unless there is a flattering image of Chinese people, you are going to run into a challenge from the State Administration of Film, Television and Radio (SARFT),” said Robert Cain, a partner in Pacific Bridge Pictures, which specializes in Chinese productions.

“The list of taboos is so long it is very often too difficult to make anything entertaining,” he added. “I had a friend submit a script and the censors asked him to change the name of one of the characters. He could not understand why so he asked them and they said it was the pet name that Deng Xiaoping (China’s former paramount leader) used for his granddaughter.”

However, Mr Cain said there is room for negotiation with the censors, particularly if a film is more nuanced and if there is a balance between good and bad Chinese characters.

Mr Mintz said the situation has improved in the past two years: previously Chinese censors would simply block films they did not like from entering the market.

Salt, a thriller which opened in a prison in North Korea, China’s close ally, was denied entry. MGM is still said to be suffering from a decision to remake Red Dawn, an anti-Communist action film, even though Chinese villains were substituted in the film for North Koreans.

“We are still in transition from propaganda to entertainment,” said Mr Mintz, while adding that Chinese censors were sympathetic if characters were more nuanced, and that their demands were part of a chorus of other hurdles facing filmmakers.

Attribution: UK Telegraph

The Groundscraper

For most hotels the key selling point is a room with a view, particularly if it towers over a bustling cityscape or sprawling countryside.

But designers behind this new luxury resort have gone in the completely opposite direction to attract customers – by creating a ‘groundscraper’ hotel built 16 floors beneath the earth’s surface.

The hugely ambitious underground hotel project will see a 19-storey, 380-room structure chiselled out of a giant quarry in Songjiang, near Shanghai.

Designers have set aside a site about 30 miles from the city of Shanghai, in an abandoned quarry at the foot of Tianmashan Mountain.

While towering skyscrapers boast of rooftop restaurants and penthouse luxury, the InterContinental Shimao Shanghai Wonderland’s bottom two floors will include an underwater restaurant, athletic complex for water sports and 10-meter deep aquarium.

Surrounding the unique hotel will be a 428,000 square-meter theme park, complete with room for bungee jumping and rock climbing overlooking the descending 16 floors.

Project developers Shimao Property Group worked with British engineering firm Atkins to design the imaginative hotel, which they hope to complete in late 2014 or early 2015.

It is thought the vast project will cost at least $555 million, with nightly rooms starting at around $320.

Attribution: Mail Online

But You Owe Me; Entitlement America

From The Cleveland Current:

In what is sure to inspire some serious ire among all those who once believed Ronald Reagan, that it was the USSR that was the “Evil Empire”, Wyatt Emmerich

analyzes disposable income and economic benefits among several key income classes and comes to the stunning (and verifiable) conclusion.

That is, “a one-parent family of three making $14,500 a year (minimum wage) has more disposable income than a family making $60,000 a year.”

And that excludes benefits from Supplemental Security Income disability (SSI). America is now a country which punishes those people who not only try to work hard, but avoid scamming the system.

Not surprisingly, we only here of the richest and most audacious thieves, but it is also the penny scammers at the very bottom of the economic ladder that rip us off each and every day, courtesy
of the world’s most generous entitlement system.

The chart tells the story. You can do as well working at minimum wage as you can working $60,000-a-year, full-time, high-stress job:

Stunned? Try it yourself.

Almost all welfare programs have Web sites where you can call up “benefits calculators.” Just plug in your income and family size and, presto, your benefits are automatically calculated.

And if this isn’t enough, here is one that will blow your mind:

If the family provider works only one week a month at minimum wage, he or she makes 92 percent as much as a provider grossing $60,000 a year.

First of all, working one week a month, saves big-time on child care. But the real big-ticket item is Medicaid, which has minimal deductibles and copays. By working only one week a month at a minimum wage job, a provider is able to get total medical coverage for next to nothing.

Compare this to the family provider making $60,000 a year. For a typical Mississippi family, coverage would cost around $12,000. Adding deductibles and copays adds an additional $4,500 or so to the bill. That’s a huge hit.

There is a reason why
a full time worker may not be too excited to learn there is little to show for doing the “right thing.”

The full-time $60,000-a-year job is going to be much more demanding than woring one week a month at minimu wage. Presumably, the low-income parent will have more energy to attend to the various stresses of managing a household.

It gets even scarier if one assumes a little dishonesty is throwin in the equation.

If the one-week-a-month worker maintains an unreported cash-only job on the side, the deal gets better than a regular $60,000-a-year job. In this scenario, you maintain a reportable, payroll deductible, low-income job for federal tax purposes. This allows you to easily establish your qualification for all these welfare programs. Then your black-market job gives
you additional cash without interfering with your benefits. Some economists estimate there is one trillion in unreported income each year in the United States.

This really got me thinking. Just how much money could I get if I set out to deliberately scam the system? Getting a low-paying minimum wage job would set the stage for far more welfare benefits than you could earn in a real job, if you were willing to cheat. Even if you don’t cheat, you could do almost as well working one week a month at minimum wage than busting a gut at a $60,000-a-year job.

Now where it gets plainly out of control is if one throws in Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

SSI pays $8,088 per year for each “disabled” family member. A person can be deemed “disabled” if they are totally lacking in the cultural and educational skills needed to be employable in the workforce.

If you add $24,262 a year for three disability checks, the lowest paid welfare family would now have far more take-home income than the $60,000-a-year family.

Best of all: being on welfare does not judge you, even if you are stupid enough to take drugs all day.

Most private workplaces require drug testing, but there is no drug testing to get welfare checks.

The welfare system in communist China is far stingier. Those people actually have to work to eat.

Now we finally know that the very bottom of the entitlement food chain makes out like a bandit while us idiot Americans actually work and pay our taxes.