Thursday, December 15, 2011

Computers Seized in Climategate Hacking!

Full Department of Justice Criminal Division document linked here. The Request for Preservation of Records is signed by Trial Attorney Kendra R. Ervin of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section. 
"We are pleased to hear that the police are continuing to actively pursue the case following the release last month of a second tranche of hacked emails from the Climatic Research Unit. We hope this will result in the arrest of those responsible for the theft of the emails and for distorting the debate on the globally important issue of climate change."---University of East Anglia

In November 2009, one or more hacker-criminals released emails and other information they had stolen from a computer belonging to the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. The criminals released some of the scientists' stolen emails again in November 2011. This second release may have provided the authorities with some clues about the identities of the hacker-criminals.

The hackers, who call themselves FOIA, first posted the CRU emails on a server with Russian ISP and then a posted a link to these stolen emails on the comments of blogs run by climate change denialists. After denialists copied the emails, the emails disappeared from the Russian server. These blogs are now being investigated by the British authorities with the cooperation of the U.S. Department of Justice. Computer equipment in the home of a British blogger known as Tallbloke has been seized by the police.  

The Guardian (12-15-11) is reporting that computer equipment has been seized in connection with the November 2009 hacking of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU). Check the Guardian (12-15-11), Climate Progress (12-15-11), DeSmogblog (12-15-11), and ClimateCrocks (12-15-11).

No arrests have been made, but the Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard), the Norfolk Constabulary, the computer crime division, and the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division seem to be closing in on the culprits who stole the CRU emails and posted them on the Internet. There is also this Twitter feed, which is carrying a lot of hysterical raving by denialists.

According to the DOJ:

The Criminal Division develops, enforces, and supervises the application of all federal criminal laws except those specifically assigned to other divisions. The Division, and the 94 U.S. Attorneys have the responsibility for overseeing criminal matters under the more than 900 statutes as well as certain civil litigation. Criminal Division attorneys prosecute many nationally significant cases. In addition to its direct litigation responsibilities, the Division formulates and implements criminal enforcement policy and provides advice and assistance. For example, the Division approves or monitors sensitive areas of law enforcement such as participation in the Witness Security Program and the use of electronic surveillance; advises the Attorney General, Congress, the Office of Management Budget and the White House on matters of criminal law; provides legal advice and assistance to federal prosecutors and investigative agencies; and provides leadership for coordinating international as well as federal, state, and local law enforcement matters.

The Guardian (12-15-11) reports:

Police officers investigating the theft of thousands of private emails between climate scientists from a University of East Anglia server in 2009 have seized computer equipment belonging to a web content editor based at the University of Leeds.

On Wednesday, detectives from Norfolk Constabulary entered the home of Roger Tattersall, who writes a climate sceptic blog under the pseudonym TallBloke, and took away two laptops and a broadband router. A police spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday that Norfolk Constabulary had "executed a search warrant in West Yorkshire and seized computers".  She added: "No one was arrested. Investigations into the [UEA] data breach and publication [online of emails] continues. This is one line of enquiry in a Norfolk constabulary investigation which started in 2009.”...

Last month, Tattersall's blog, as well as at least four other blogs popular with climate sceptics, received a comment from a user called "FOIA" providing a link to a Russian server hosting a compressed folder containing more than 5,000 emails exchanged between climate scientists, along with a short message setting out the perpetrator's motives. The folder also contained an encrypted subfolder containing a further 220,000 emails. It was the second time such a release had occurred.

In November 2009, thousands of emails were released in a similar manner on the eve the Copenhagen climate summit. The episode prompted a series of inquiries into the working practices of climate scientists. Although these were critical of the scientists' handling of Freedom of Information Act requests and lack of openness, they did not find fault with the climate change science they had produced.

Both Tattersall and a US-based climate sceptic blogger known as Jeff Id said they had received a "formal notice" that their blogging platform WordPress had been asked by the US Department of Justice's criminal division, dated 9 December, to preserve "all stored communications, records, and other evidence in your possession" related to their own blogs as well as to Climate Audit, a climate sceptic blog run by a Canadian mining consultant called Steve McIntyre. All three blogs had received messages from "FOIA" last month pointing to the link hosting a second tranche of emails first taken from the UEA in 2009...

A spokesman for the University of East Anglia said today: "We are pleased to hear that the police are continuing to actively pursue the case following the release last month of a second tranche of hacked emails from the Climatic Research Unit. We hope this will result in the arrest of those responsible for the theft of the emails and for distorting the debate on the globally important issue of climate change."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Muscovites Protesting in the Street: Birnam Wood Comes to Dunsinane!

"I pull in resolution and begin To doubt th' equivocation of the fiend that lies like truth. “Fear not, till Birnam wood do come to Dunsinane”; and now a wood comes toward Dunsinane.—Arm, arm, and out!—If this which he avouches does appear, there is nor flying hence nor tarrying here. I 'gin to be aweary of the sun, and wish th' estate o' th' world were now undone.—Ring the alarum-bell!—Blow, wind! Come, wrack! At least we’ll die with harness on our back."---Shakespeare's MacBeth

The New York Times (12-10-11), Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty (12-10-11), the Washington Post (12-10-11), and the Guardian (12-10-11) are covering today's large, peaceful demonstrations in Moscow's Bolotnaya Square, across the river from the Kremlin.

In the past, Bolotnaya (bog) Square in Moscow's Yakimanka District was the site of public executions. Peter the Great executed Russian guardsmen called Streltsy (shooters) there in the 17th Century. The last person executed there was the peasant revolutionary Yemelyan Pugachev who was sent to Moscow in a metal cage and executed in 1775.

Well-dressed, middle-class protesters are demonstrating against the fraud and ballot-stuffing that took place on behalf of Mr. Putin's ruling party United Russia during last Sunday's Parliamentary elections. The protesters demand that the elections be annulled and are shouting "Russia without Putin!" and "New elections!"

Gennady Onischenko, the Kremlin's top doctor, warned that people who attend the demonstrations risked getting sick with the flu or another disease. RFE/RL (12-9-11) reports that Onischenko warned:

“I recommend that people don’t go to the demonstration and, considering the cold weather and forecasts saying it will get worse, this goes especially for people with chronic illnesses and endocrinic illnesses,” Onishchenko told the RIA Novosti state news agency.

“With the increase of people falling ill that we are observing at the moment, a mass gathering of people on the streets could facilitate the rapid infection of flu with ensuing consequences.”

Dr. Onischenko has a history of making health recommendations with political overtones. RFE/RL (12-9-11) reports:

Chief Health Inspector Onischchenko has gained infamy for making medical and health pronouncements that have an overtly political flavor.

At the height of souring Russian relations with Tbilisi and Chisinau, he declared that Georgian and Moldovan wines were not fit for consumption, leading to Russian trade embargos decimating the countries’ most lucrative exports.

Most recently, amid a diplomatic spat with Dushanbe when a Russian pilot was jailed in Tajikistan, Onishchenko suggested making it harder for Tajiks to enter Russia on the grounds that they have a higher incidence of HIV and tuberculosis.

Vladimir Churov, the head of the election commission is claiming that video appearing on the Internet of election violations has been fabricated. RFE/RL reports (12-9-11):

On December 9, Churov told journalists that he has appealed to police to find the people who “ordered and sponsored” this “fabricated” material, suggesting he remains unswayed by the YouTube videos after his last comments outraged many of Russia's 51 million Internet users.

“There’s a lot of rubbish on the Internet about the elections,” Churov said in an interview with the Itogi magazine ahead of the elections. “Even before polling day, I knew about several fake election polling stations in apartments where they would make videos. I think we will see this film.”

The videos, allegedly shot in apartments, appear to contain footage of multiple storey polling stations at schools, buses shuttling “carousel” voters around to cast their votes several times, and election officials signing dozens of ballot papers in favor of the ruling United Russia party.

According to media sources, the December 10, 2011 demonstration is the largest demonstration since the fall of the Soviet Union. Tens of thousands turned out; some observers claim that as many as 100,000 people are in the streets, but probably the number was about half that. There have also been smaller demonstrations in dozens of other Russian cities. The Guardian (12-10-11) are blogging about the demonstration and posting live updates.

Environmentalist Yevgenia Chirikova, the Khimki Forest defender and a key opposition leader, told RFE/RL (12-10-11):

"The first [demand] is the release of political prisoners who were jailed after the so-called elections and the second is new elections," she said. "Of course, having new elections is one of our definite demands, but there are rather a lot of conditions."

Those conditions include a call for the resignation of Central Election Commission Chairman Vladimir Churov and an investigation into his work, as well as an investigation into vote-fraud allegations, and changes to the law on registering political parties to allow all opposition parties to participate in future elections.

The organizers say they will protest again on December 24 if the government has not acceded to their demands.

The Washington Post (12-10-11) reports:

Almost no one appeared to be seeking revolution — bloggers called it the Great December Evolution, a play on the Bolsheviks’ Great October Revolution of 1917.

“We don’t want blood,” said Dmitry Raev, who works for an international law firm. “We don’t want revolution. We earn enough money to live. But the authorities need to understand we are really fed up.

Their specific demands — for good government, with new and honest elections, and the the freeing of the nearly 1,000 protesters arrested last week — are unlikely to be met, at least right away. But protesters said they suspect that Saturday marked the beginning of an inevitable change in the political culture.
The Moscow crowd was full of people like Raev: young and educated, with good jobs, but willing to stand for four hours under a gray sky and lightly falling snow to make themselves heard.
Disgust has been building for years over both the extent of corruption and the state of politics, managed so adroitly by Putin that no real political opposition exists.

“Putin appointed himself the next president,” said Viktor Melchikov, referring to the way Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev announced in September that they will be swapping positions next year. “Why didn’t anyone ask us? We hope the forces arrayed against these thieves and crooks will consolidate today and find a way out of this mess. Putin is a thief. He should be in prison.”

Paleoclimate Record Points Toward Potential Rapid Climate Changes

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) held its fall meeting in San Francisco on December 5-7, 2011. The renowned James Hansen, the Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, presented a powerpoint at a press conference titled "Paleoclimate Record Points Toward Potential Rapid Climate Changes." A video of this presentation has been posted on Youtube.

The other prominent scientists who contributed to this power point are Eelco Rohling, Professor of Ocean and Climate Change at Southhampton University (U.K.), and Ken Caldeira, Senior Scientist Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and Stanford University. 

NASA Nabs Cyber-Criminals!

Cyber Crime
“These arrests illustrate the level of cooperation needed to confront the growing worldwide threat of cyber crime.  We will continue working with our national and international colleagues to help protect Governments, U.S. agencies like NASA, businesses, and individual users of the Internet from fraud and theft.”---NASA Inspector General Paul Martin

The NASA Office of Inspector General has issued a press release (11-9-11) that describes the role they played in capturing cyber-criminals:

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, JANICE K. FEDARCYK, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and PAUL MARTIN, the Inspector General of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Office of Inspector General (“NASA OIG”), today announced charges against six Estonian nationals and one Russian national for engaging in a massive and sophisticated Internet fraud scheme that infected with malware more than four million computers located in over 100 countries.  Of the computers infected with malware, at least 500,000 were in the United States, including computers belonging to U.S. government agencies, such as NASA; educational institutions; non-profit organizations; commercial businesses; and individuals...

Six of the defendants, VLADIMIR TSASTSIN, 31, TIMUR GERASSIMENKO, 31, DMITRI JEGOROV, 33, VALERI ALEKSEJEV, 31, KONSTANTIN POLTEV, 28, and ANTON IVANOV, 26, all Estonian nationals, were arrested and taken into custody yesterday in Estonia by the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office will seek their extradition to the United States.  The seventh defendant, ANDREY TAAME, 31, a Russian national, remains at large...

NASA Inspector General PAUL MARTIN said:  “These arrests illustrate the level of cooperation needed to confront the growing worldwide threat of cyber crime.  We will continue working with our national and international colleagues to help protect Governments, U.S. agencies like NASA, businesses, and individual users of the Internet from fraud and theft.”...

Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative work of the FBI, NASA OIG, and the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board.  Mr. BHARARA also specially thanked the National High Tech Crime Unit of the Dutch National Police Agency.  The FBI and NASA OIG received assistance from multiple domestic and international private sector partners, including Georgia Tech University, Internet Systems Consortium, Mandiant, National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance, Neustar, Spamhaus, Team Cymru, Trend Micro, University of Alabama at Birmingham and members of an ad hoc group of subject matter experts known as the DNS Changer Working Group (DCG). 

Friday, December 09, 2011

Climate Scientist Dr. Alan Robock, an Expert on Climate Change and Nuclear Winter

Check out the on-line book The Encyclopedia of Earth. The lead author of the chapter on nuclear winter is the distinguished Rutgers professor of climatology Dr. Alan Robock. Check out all the on-line resources on his homepage. Check out Dr. Robock's biographical sketch. Dr. Robock is a Lead Author in Working Group I for the upcoming Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Here is a power point presentation Dr. Robock gave in Moscow titled "Smoke and Mirrors: Is Geoengineering a Solution to Global Warming." Dr. Robock was a speaker at a conference hosted by ROSHYDROMET titled "Problems of Adaptation to Climate Change" (November 7-9, 2011). The Russian site RACC 2011 has now posted information about the conference.

I haven't had a chance to read these papers yet, but the papers are linked after the welcoming speeches under the heading Plenary Presentations. The Director of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Dr. R.K. Pachauri, presented an easy-to-understand powerpoint about climate change titled "Science as the Basis for Adaptation Measures" as his welcoming speech.

The Russians are discussing ways to mitigate climate change, but they make a lot of their money selling natural gas so they don't usually address the need to move away from fossil fuels. Also, their scientists---like ours---may be targeted by the powerful fossil-fuel interests like Gazprom if they aren't careful. Gazprom is majority owned by the Russian government and pays a lot of the bills. The fossil-fuel companies own a lot of the T.V. and print media, so their political operatives can run influence operations. The big media can have a lot of influence as long as they promote the line of Putin's ruling United Russia political party.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: Separating Signal and Noise in Climate Warming

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (11-16-11) has issued the following press release:

In order to separate human-caused global warming from the "noise" of purely natural climate fluctuations, temperature records must be at least 17 years long, according to climate scientists. [See the full text.]

When reading this article from the LLNL, it is helpful to remember how BBC ambushed the CRU climate scientist Dr. Phil Jones. See my post "Media Misquotes Climatologist Phil Jones" (2-21-10).  

Anonymous "FOIA" Hacker-Criminals Release More CRU Emails

The University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU) has issued a statement about the November 22, 2011 release of more emails stolen from the CRU by an anonymous entity called "FOIA." As they did in 2009, the hackers have "cherrypicked" the emails in order to mischaracterize the larger context of the scientists' discussions. The emails were posted on a short-lived "Russian server" and quickly downloaded by collaborators and/or bloggers who were evidently notified about the new cache of emails. Most of the emails were encrypted, so only collaborators who are privy to the password would be able to read most of the emails posted by "FOIA" on the "Russian server."

Although the email file was subsequently posted elsewhere on the Internet, the mysterious "Russian server" used by "FOIA" seems to have vanished into thin air. It is possible that some denialist bloggers should have heeded that folksy advice about not buying a pig in a poke.

The U.K. Guardian has a page devoted to the hacked climate science emails. According to The Guardian (11-22-11):

One marked difference from the original 2009 release is that the person or persons responsible has included a message headed "background and context" which, for the first time, gives an insight into their motivations. Following some bullet-pointed quotes such as "Over 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day" and, "Nations must invest $37 trillion in energy technologies by 2030 to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions at sustainable levels," the message states:

Today’s decisions should be based on all the information we can get, not on hiding the decline. This archive contains some 5.000 emails picked from keyword searches. A few remarks and redactions are marked with triple brackets. The rest, some 220.000, are encrypted for various reasons. We are not planning to publicly release the passphrase. We could not read every one, but tried to cover the most relevant topics.”

For reasons known only to themselves, the hacker-criminals have posted a file that includes 5,000 emails that can be read and 22,000 encrypted emails. There are also two README files that were presumably added by the criminals. One can be read, but the second is encrypted. Perhaps the hacker who posted the most recent stolen emails put this encrypted message there for his collaborators who share the code; or perhaps he just wants to give the impression that he has collaborators. The Guardian has some speculation about the encrypted emails and the encrypted README file in the link titled hacked climate science emails.

So far, nobody claims to have used the secret code to access the encrypted emails or encrypted README file. Probably the encrypted emails aren't that interesting, but encrypting them makes them seem more exciting. Perhaps the criminals are trying to seem like they are using good judgment by avoiding the publication of personal information.

If readers click on the yellow highlighting at the bottom of the article linked below, Guardian journalist Leo Hickman speculates about the hacker’s claim that the emails are “encrypted for various reasons”:

One of the most intriguing statements. Why wouldn't the vast majority of the remaining emails be released, instead of being hidden behind a password? Wikileaks, famously, did much the same thing, but the password was inadvertently revealed months later. Is it intended as a threat? Or a future bargaining chip? Do those emails really contain anything of interest? If they do, why continue to wait rather than releasing them now, or even back in 2009? (Guardian, 11-25-11)

The truth is that these pathetic, low-life criminals really can't contend with the peer-reviewed science, as honest scientists do; rather, the dishonest culprits try to discredit the scientists by mischaracterizing the cherrypicked quotes they mine in the emails and by cloaking themselves and the encrypted emails an air of mystery.

The hackers claim they are interested in freedom of information, but they mischaracterize the climate scientists discussions and cloak themselves and their motives in secrecy. The hypocritical hackers employ the disreputable tactics of operatives who work for the fossil fuel industry and of political operatives in dictatorships who are practiced in kompromat

The Guardian (11-22-11) reports:

Norfolk police have said the new set of emails is "of interest" to their investigation to find the perpetrator of the initial email release who has not yet been identified.

The University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (11-22-11) reports:

Tue, 22 Nov 2011

While we have had only a limited opportunity to look at this latest post of 5,000 emails, we have no evidence of a recent breach of our systems.

If genuine, (the sheer volume of material makes it impossible to confirm at present that they are all genuine) these emails have the appearance of having been held back after the theft of data and emails in 2009 to be released at a time designed to cause maximum disruption to the imminent international climate talks.

This appears to be a carefully-timed attempt to reignite controversy over the science behind climate change when that science has been vindicated by three separate independent inquiries and number of studies – including, most recently, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature group.

As in 2009, extracts from emails have been taken completely out of context. Following the previous release of emails scientists highlighted by the controversy have been vindicated by independent review, and claims that their science cannot or should not be trusted are entirely unsupported. They, the University and the wider research community have stood by the science throughout, and continue to do so.

See this link for responses from Prof Phil Jones regarding a selection of the stolen emails.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Alaska Congressman Don Young Tries to Bully Dr. Douglas Brinkley

No doubt Alaska Congressman Don Young receives a lot of money from the fossil fuel industry. In 2007, it was also reported that he was the subject of a federal investigation for taking illegal money. See the article and the video from (11-22-11) that shows how the thuggish Congressman Young tries to bully the emminent historian Dr. Douglas Brinkleywho was invited to testify in Congress about preserving the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The Washington Post (11-18-11) has an article and a video, and MSNBC also describes Young's despicable treatment of Dr. Brinkley.

Congressman Young didn't attend Dr. Brinkley's presentation, but he managed to arrive late and call it "trash." Young sounds like some ranting, senile, old drunk. He is supposed to ask the professor questions; instead, this ignorant buffoon just sits up on his high table and insults the distinguished witness. He reminds me of Khrushchev pounding his shoe on the table in the United Nations.

Because evil, greedy, thieving, un-American politician-bullies like Congressman Young, Senator Inhofe, Congressman Joe Barton, and Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli hound, humiliate, and persecute our great teachers, I have started voting for the Democrats.

Here is Dr. Douglas Brinkley's page at Amazon. Many of his books are available on Kindle.