Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue:
1. Hackers. A suggestion over the last months or so from Scott Adams regarding hackers and malware users who get into the ransom business. He recommends terminating them with extreme prejudice and then sending the host nation a bill for services rendered. Rationale is that any ransomware is an attack, arguably a terrorist attack, on the individual, business, utility, or government agency targeted. We have the ability to figure out who did the hack and where it came from, as everything leaves fingerprints. Treat such an attack as an Act of War, and respond in a similar fashion, creating a smoking hole where the hackers operated from. Then very publicly acknowledge the attack, release the proof, and give the government involved a bill. The billing is the most important persuasion part, suggesting that if the host nation won’t control their people, we will. This is also something congress should get involved in with grants of Letters of Marque and Reprisal, returning the privateers to the online world.
2. FBI. Tucker Carlson picked up a piece from Revolver last week suggesting that the presence of unindicted co-conspirators in 1/06 cases indicate at best federal knowledge of the festivities beforehand, and at worst that it was in no small part planned and executed by FBI agents provocateur. The three organizations now blamed for the riot (Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters) appear to have been infiltrated by some unknown number of undercover agents or confidential informants. The 5-month Senate investigation into the riot concluded that what happened was a result of an intelligence failure and placed the blame on Trump-supporting, Q-Anon believing “domestic terrorists.” But if the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies had already infiltrated the groups, they knew it was coming and the infiltrators may have had a hand in leading and planning the festivities. This would also explain House Speaker Pelosi’s refusal to increase the number of Capitol Police as requested the week before the event. It would also explain the refusal so far to release some 14,000 hours of surveillance video to the general public. It would explain to some level the shooting of Ashli Babbitt and refusal to identify the shooter or release any evidence related to the shoot. As of today, there are over 500 in custody, many without charges filed, many in solitary with some reportedly really ugly treatment by federal guards in the DC jail. And there are no small number of those involved who are neither arrested nor charged. It is these that are raising questions. If the 1/06 was really an insurrection (which it wasn’t unless you think that a bunch of people taking selfies can bring down the government of the most powerful nation on earth can actually take over the government), why didn’t law enforcement stop it? Was it in the interest of law enforcement to let the event proceed as planned (by some of them)? This event shows disturbing parallels to the reported kidnap plot aimed at Michigan governor Whitmer last year. The FBI arrested 14 people, five of whom were undercover agents and federal informants. The group also included members of the Three Percenters, also blamed for the 1/06 event. The director of the FBI field office who directed the operation in Michigan was promoted and moved to DC where he is leading the Jan 6 investigation. The so-called Michigan mastermind was described in FBI documents as a dupe who could have been easily played by undercover assets. The FBI played an integral role in the ability of the alleged plotters to execute their scheme. FBI was in leadership roles for the kidnap plot providing the explosives expert, the head of transportation, head of security, and at least two undercover FBI informants in the room when the plot was hatched in June. If we have an anti-government conspiracy where the FBI and people working for them are leading it, precisely who is the terrorist?
3. Courts. Two good rulings out of federal courts last week.
- First is a ruling that shut down the race-based loan forgiveness for farmers. The Xiden COVID relief legislation included a provision limiting farm loan forgiveness to black, American Indian, Hispanic, Asian and Pacific Islander farmers. The judge shut it down saying it illegally discriminated against white farmers. I may have written about his earlier, but it does bear repeating as it is indeed good news.
- The second is a temporary restraining order blocking the Xiden Executive Order suspending oil and gas leases nationwide. The TRO also applies nationwide. The judge wrote:
“The omission of any rational explanation in cancelling the lease sales, and in enacting the Pause, results in this Court ruling that Plaintiff States also have a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of this claim,”
The 13 states who challenged the EO argued that they had “reliance interests” on federal law that could simply not be changed at the stroke of a pen. Expect Interior to go after this ban via the rule-making route which will take a bit longer.
4. DoJ. Before I begin, there was a NRO piece over the weekend that thanked Mitch McConnell for keeping Merrick Garland off the Supreme Court in 2016. Garland is going to go down as one of the worst Attorney Generals in history should he keep on his current path. Most recent (In)Justice act was a threat to intervene in the Maricopa County AZ election audit. Garland mocked the audit. A letter from (In)Justice Civil Rights Division May 5 raised concerns that Maricopa County is no longer in control of the ballots, election systems or other materials, and that the contractor was raising voter intimidation issues. In a response last week, the AZ Attorney General sent a blistering response back to (In)Justice promising to jail anyone who interfered in their audit. There are other politics involved, as AZ Attorney General Brnovich has entered the AZ primary next year hoping to be the GOP nominee against recently elected Mark Kelly, who is well on his way to defining fecklessness in office.
5. Starlink. It is a good thing that Starlink is still in beta, as it is having problems with its ground segment. The system requires a smallish ground antenna for transmitting and receiving signal. The dish is certified to operate -22 – 104° (-30 – 40° C). It is a phased array system and has some rather complex electronics behind the dish. The problem comes in the warm part of the world, where the system will go into hours-long thermal shutdowns at higher temperatures. And if you leave something outside on a sunny day in much of the US, things will get much hotter than that. The first ARS Technica piece was a week ago. Two days later Starlink announced a couple software updates to at least address the issue. Nice to have a responsive company. One suggestion would be to go to MILSPEC temperature limits on the system, -55 – 125° C (-67 – 257° F), though this will get expensive quickly. To put this in perspective, automotive electronics are designed to operate in the -13 – 185° F (-25 – 85° C) range, though we do see modern vehicles operating below that here in Alaska. Not mentioned in the piece was cold tolerance, as those of us in the cold part of the world where there is not a lot of infrastructure regularly get temperatures colder than -22° F (-30° C). Starlink is currently selling their ground segment systems at a loss, and there is a second version in the queue as they filed an application with the FCC for an updated terminal with a smaller dish. This is thought to fall out of FCC approval for extending the current constellation of 4,000+ satellites to lower altitude operations. Perhaps they will address the temperature issues in future hardware updates.
6. Railgun. Looks like the Navy’s research into a railgun weapons system for its ships has finally been terminated. The program was a technology demonstration with the goal of deploying the system at sea. Some of what was learned has been applied to other weapons systems. Some has not. Appears the pivot to Great Power conflict with China and rowing interest in hypersonics (longer range weapons) ended the research program. A railgun is essentially a linear electric motor, where a pulse of electromagnetic energy is moved down rails from breach to end of the gun. That pulse induces a charge in the projectile which is then accelerated to some number of kilometers per second as it leaves the gun. Worst problem with the system is a lot of energy loss due to heat. Second worst problem is like directed energy or laser systems, it requires a LOT of energy. Range of railguns was on the order of 50 – 100 mi, making it primarily a defensive system. Note that the ChiComs have been working on their version of a railgun since at least 2018.
7. Putin. A masterful bit of trolling by Russian President Putin in the runup to the G7 Summit last week were some comments in an interview with NBC who asked Putin about political assassinations aimed at his opponents in Russia. Putin responded by implying that the US had assassinated Ashli Babbitt during the Capitol riot. He went on to note that that now the US and Russia are dealing with political dissent in similar ways today. He noted that 450 were arrested after showing up with political demands and are now facing 15 – 20 years in Club Fed if convicted. He didn’t mention those held without being charged, but he could have. This is trolling in near Trump levels, though the democrats are making it way too easy for him to do.
8. Arrest. Nothing like using police power to keep from being embarrassed on national TV. Michigan Attorney General Nessel suggested that a restaurant owner who was defying lockdown orders be arrested in March before she could appear on Tucker Carlson. The note was sent to her staff and obtained via a FOIA request. She asked if MI Police had any plans to pick her up and also suggested a maximum sentence. She appeared on Tucker Mar 17, was arrested on Mar 19, and released from jail on Mar 23.
9. Whale. Apparently, something like Jonah really did happen. Last week a Cape Cod lobster fisherman ended up in the mouth of a humpback whale for 30 – 40 seconds. The fisherman was checking a trap and found himself one with the whale who swam to the surface to release him. Though initial reports was a broken leg, he was released unharmed, though with a most interesting tale.
More later –