Sunday, January 29, 2012

University of East Anglia Climate Scientist Professor Bob Watson Knighted

University of East Anglia climate scientist Prof Bob Watson [above] has received a knighthood in the New Year Honours.---The University of East Anglia (1-2-2012)
According to a press release from The University of East Anglia (2012)
Prof Watson is professor of environmental sciences at UEA, director of strategic development at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, which has its headquarters at UEA, and chief scientific adviser at Defra. From 1997 to 2002, he was chair of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

On receiving the news Bob said: "I am delighted and humbled by this honour, which implicitly recognises the value of scientific knowledge in national and international environmental policy formulation. Of all the honours I have received this is very special, not only to me but also to my family and friends."

Prof Watson previously worked as chief scientist at the World Bank and environmental adviser to the Clinton White House. He has played a key role in chairing or co-chairing major international scientific assessments which have provided the scientific basis for informed national and international environmental policies. These include the IPCC, the International Ozone Assessments, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development. He also co-chaired the recently released UK National Ecosystem Assessment.

Prof Watson gained his PhD in Chemistry from London University in 1973. He has received numerous national and international awards and prizes for his contributions to science including: the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility (1993); the insignia of Honorary Companion of St Michael and St George from the British Government (2003); and the Blue Planet Prize (2010) – Japan’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize - for his roles in highlighting the influence of human activities in the depletion of the ozone layer and climate change.

UEA Vice-Chancellor Prof Edward Acton said: "I would like to offer my warmest congratulations on this latest public recognition of one of our very finest scientists. Bob Watson has made, and continues to make, an enormous contribution to the globally important field of climate science - a field in which this university is committed to playing a leading role."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Smears the Famous Writer Boris Akunin

Boris Akunin is one of Russia's most beloved writers. Here is Akunin's page at Amazon. Akunin is an expert on Japan who also writes detective novels set in pre-revolutionary Imperial Russia. The novels that feature his fictional 19th Century detective Erast Petrovich Fandorin are extremely popular in Russia. Check out Akunin's official English-language website and his Russian-language blog.

Detective novels are extremely popular in Russia, but they are usually lowbrow, vulgar pulp fiction. Akunin has taken the detective genre and transformed it into something that blends the modern Russian detective fiction with Dostoyevsky's famous detective story Crime and Punishment. The New York Times (7-13-03) reviewed Akunin's novel The Winter Queen. The reviewer Andrew Bromfield translated the novel into English.

The New York Times (11-3-12) reports that Akunin has been targeted by investigators for possibly violating Russia's vague terrorism laws because he allegedly included "extremist statements" in his novel All the World's a Stage. Sometimes, in Russia, novels provide commentary on the current political situation. Even the play Hamlet was seen as controversial in the Soviet era. The audience read a lot into Hamlet's observation that "something stinks in Denmark." 

Recently, Putin smeared Akunin by suggesting that the writer had made common cause with Putin's opposition due to his Georgian ethic heritage. Akunin described Putin's characterization of his motives as a smear and observed that Putin had learned how to smear people during his KGB training. 

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (1-19-12) reports:

Akunin, whose real name is Grigory Chkhartishvili, joined a group of cultural luminaries to form a League of Voters to assure a more transparent presidential election on March 4. 
"As far as I know, he's an ethnic Georgian," Putin said about Akunin. "I understand that he could not have accepted Russia's actions during [the] armed conflict between Georgia and Russia," Putin said.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Russian Service today, Akunin fired back:

I'm not taking this seriously. That is how he was trained in his special [KGB] school. It is his normal method of smearing an opponent. I don't feel smeared. OK, I'm Georgian, so what? There are people of many ethnicities in our country. Actually, he was hinting that since I'm an ethnic Georgian, it means I'm an enemy of Russia. That is what he meant.... 

I have a feeling that whatever action Putin takes now, it only works to his detriment. The system has degraded so much that it keeps digging its own grave. I swear to God, I have a strong feeling that Vladimir Putin's time in history is coming to an end.

See the full text of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (1-19-12 article.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Department of Justice Pulls the Plug on Megaupload File Sharing Site

"The [Mega Conspiracy] case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and the Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, Organized Crime and Gang Section, and Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section also assisted with this case.

The investigation was initiated and led by the FBI at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) [link added], with assistance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. Substantial and critical assistance was provided by the New Zealand Police, the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (OFCANZ), the Crown Law Office of New Zealand and the Office of the Solicitor General for New Zealand; Hong Kong Customs and the Hong Kong Department of Justice; the Netherlands Police Agency and the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Serious Fraud and Environmental Crime in Rotterdam; London’s Metropolitan Police Service; Germany’s Bundeskriminalamt and the German Public Prosecutors; and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police – Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Federal Enforcement Section and the Integrated Technological Crime Unit and the Canadian Department of Justice’s International Assistance Group. Authorities in the United Kingdom, Australia and the Philippines also provided assistance."---Department of Justice (1-19-12) 

The Department of Justice Criminal Division Cybercrimes and Intellectual Property Taskforce has taken down a file-sharing site called Megaupload. This action was taken after a federal grand jury studied the evidence for two years, determined that there was probable cause that felonies were/are being committed, and issued an Indictment.

A website of the U.S. Federal Courts explains the functions of the grand jury and the petit (trial) jury:

The United States attorney, the prosecutor in federal criminal cases, presents evidence to the grand jury for them to determine whether there is "probable cause" to believe that an individual has committed a crime and should be put on trial. If the grand jury decides there is enough evidence, it will issue an indictment against the defendant. Grand jury proceedings are not open for public observation.

According to page 18 of the grand jury's Indictment, 525 servers leased by Megaupload are located in Ashburn, Virginia. The computers are owned by Carpathia Hosting, a company "headquartered in Dulles and with data centers in Ashburn, Harrisonburg, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Toronto." Ashburn Patch (1-20-12). According to the Ashburn Patch (1-20-12), millions of dollars are going to a Carpathia bank account in Richmond, Virginia. Details about the financial transactions between Megaupload and Carpathia Hosting are available at the Ashburn Patch (1-20-12), but I think the same information is in the 74-page Indictment.

Seven people and two companies (Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited) were indicted, but the Indictment says that other people "known and unknown to the grand jury" were also part of the conspiracy. (See page 2 of the Indictment.) The mention of known and unknown conspirators might mean that the government has unindicted co-conspirators who are cooperating with the investigation, but nobody knows who is talking to the grand jury and/or the authorities and whom the authorities are still tracking down. According to the Indictment (page 13), Megaupload employs more than 30 people in approximately 9 countries.   

The founder of Megaupload is said to be Kim Dotcom (formerly known as Kim Schmitz), a person with a string of aliases and a long history of unethical and criminal behavior. Schmitz sounds like a cartoon villain in a Bond movie according to this colorful article titled "Inside Megaupload's Megamind" (1-20-12)

It is hard to read the FBI and DOJ sites because the hacktivists called Anonymous are taking it down with a Denial of Service attack.  Cyber criminals evidently think that there is nothing wrong with preventing the public from reading our government's websites or with making millions by selling stolen movies.

Some people parked the emails stolen from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in a file on the Megaupload site. Now the site is shut down, and global warming denialists like Virginia's oppressive Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Ashburn's ludicrous blogger "ex-CIA operative" Kent Clizbe might not be able to access these stolen emails in order to mischaracterize their contents and defame climate scientists as liars and criminals. This suits me just fine.

In order to seem like an authoritative source on the so-called "hoax" of global warming, blogger-conspiracist Kent Clizbe claims that he used to be an operative for the CIA; but Kent Clizbe fails to inform his readers that the CIA is giving climate scientists security clearances or that the CIA is studying the national security implications of climate change. If people want to know what the CIA says about climate change, perhaps they should read what Larry Kobayashi, the head of the CIA's Center for Climate Change and National Security, explained to the media in an article titled "Our Man in the Greenhouse: Why the CIA is Spying on a Changing Climate." For Kent Clizbe's unhinged disinformation campaign read "Kent Clizbe: Our Man in the Nut House."

Virginia's Attorney General Cuccinelli and Ashburn's "ex-CIA operative" Kent Clizbe might also want to read what the National Intelligence Council says about global warming and climate change. The National Intelligence Council (NIC) "is a center of strategic thinking within the US Government, reporting to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and providing the President and senior policymakers with analyses of foreign policy issues that have been reviewed and coordinated throughout the Intelligence Community." Probably they know more than Ashburn's "ex-CIA operative" and blogger-conspiracist Kent Clizbe.

The NIC does research on a variety of foreign policy and national security issues, but they are most recognized for their groundbreaking research on transnational organized crime. According to the National Intelligence Council, “Transnational criminal networks are actively targeting U.S. ... government programs.”

The NIC has posted a document called "The Impact of Climate Change to 2030." This document is a collection of research and conference reports. On June 25, 2008, Dr. Thomas Fingar, the Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis, summarized this report in Congress.

In his testimony before Congress, Dr. Fingar stated:

"Our primary source for climate science was the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report, which we augmented with other peer-reviewed analyses andcontracted research. We used the UN Panel report as our baseline because this document was reviewed and coordinated on by the US government and internationally respected by the scientific community."

The conspiracist Ashburn blogger Kent Clizbe and the abusive Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who is persecuting the world-famous climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann, might want to read "The Impact of Climate Change to 2030." In my opinion, Cuccinelli persecutes climate scientists because his father is a consultant/lobbyist for the natural gas industry. His father's company, Quest-Fore, gave $96,000 to Attorney General Cuccinelli's campaign, according to a report published on the Internet.

The mendacious Cuccinelli and his deputy W. Russell claim that Dr. Michael Mann is being investigated for fraud, not because he is one of the world's foremost climate scientists. That is a transparent lie. Dr. Mann is being hounded by operatives for the fossil-fuel industry who are operating against our national security from their outpost in the Virginia Attorney General's office.

Dr. Michael Mann earned two Ph.D.s from Yale and a Nobel Prize (2007) for his work on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report.

Dr. Mann and Dr. Kump have co-authored a book titled Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming. This book is based on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report and more recent research.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Michael Mann: The Climate Scientist Who the Deniers Have in Their Sights

"I've been the focus for attack by those who deny the reality of climate change for so long that it almost seems like forever," the professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University [Dr. Michael Mann] says. "I'm a reluctant public figure, but I have embraced the opportunity to communicate the science."...

"[The theft of the climate scientists' emails] was a very successful, well-planned smear campaign intended ... to go directly at the trust the public had in scientists," [climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann] insists. "Even though they haven't solved the crime of who actually broke in, the entire apparatus for propelling this manufactured scandal on to the world stage was completely funded by the fossil-fuel front groups."---The Independent (1-16-12)

The Independent (1-16-12) has published a fantastic account about how the powerful politicians Senator James Inhofe, Congressman Joe Barton, and Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli have unjustly vilified the famous climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann because he was the creator of the "hockey stick" graph, which demonstrates that the earth's temperature is rising rapidly.

American politicians should uphold the law, but instead these politicians hoped to help their wealthy fossil-fuel sponsors by collaborating with criminals who stole the famous climate scientists' emails in order to discredit them by mischaracterizing their correspondance. Read "Michael Mann: The climate scientist who the deniers have in their sights."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Virginia Supreme Court Justice Bernard Goodwyn Observes that Attorney General Cuccinelli Wants Carte Blanche

Last Thursday, January 12, 2012, the Virginia Supreme Court heard arguments from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the University of Virginia in connection with Cuccinelli's allegation that the famous climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann may have committed fraud against Virginia taxpayers. Cuccinelli wants to use a civil investigative demand (CID) to get Dr. Mann's emails. I am not a lawyer, but a civil investigative demand in Virginia to uncover fraud against taxpayers seems to require probable cause, just like any subpoena:

Each civil investigative demand issued under this article shall state the nature of the conduct constituting the alleged violation of a false claims law that is under investigation, and the applicable provision of law alleged to be violated.

Cuccinelli denies global warming, and his father is a lobbyist for the natural gas industry.  Cuccinelli wants the University to hand over Dr. Mann's emails without probable cause so he can mischaracterize what the emails mean and discredit climate science. The tyrant wants to abuse his power to do the same thing as the hacker-criminals who stole scientists' emails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU).

The PilotOnline (1-13-2012) reports that Supreme Court Justice S. Bernard Goodwyn told Cuccinelli's underling W. Russell“You want us, I guess, to give you carte blanche.” It seems to me that Justice Goodwyn is alluding to the fact that Cuccinelli lacks probable cause. Cuccinelli was already refused his civil investigative demand from a lower court on the grounds that he lacked probable cause.

Cuccinelli poses as a person who is defending us from a tyrannical federal government, but I think that Cuccinelli is the tyrant. Cuccinelli is so disingenuous that he even claims that his civil investigative demand is not about climate change but only about some alleged fraud. I think the only people misusing our tax dollars are the demagogue Cuccinelli and the fossil-fuel interests he serves.

Climate Crocks (12-22-11) wonders whether the CRU hacking can be "characterized as a simple cybercrime — or are there elements of cyber-terrorism involved?" Climate Crocks observes that cyber-terrorism expert Bruce Schneier notes:

What I’ve been thinking about is whether the hack was intended to intimidate, threaten or bully. Then the crime becomes an effort to stop people from doing legitimate research. So, it is not just a data theft, but has a goal of creating a chilling effect, a threat, an intimidation.

A chilling effect is what the tyrannical bully Ken Cuccinelli is no doubt trying to achieve with his lawless inquisition, but the University of Virginia and Michael Mann are not backing down.

Here is an interesting interview (12-4-09) about cyber-terrorism and cyber-crime with the FBI official Shawn Henry. Mr. Henry was appointed executive assistant director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch on September 15, 2010. In this position, he is responsible for all FBI criminal and cyber investigations worldwide, as well as international operations and critical incident response.

Network World (12-19-11) reports Shawn Henry's warning to "hacktivists":

"When anybody breaches a network and steals data and then publicizes it--whether they're from a foreign country and they're using the data to help their country's industry, they sell it as an organized crime group, or they just display it because they think the company they stole it from is acting inappropriately--the fact that the data is stolen is a violation of federal law," he says, his voice rising with conviction. "Hacktivism is no different from organized crime groups or foreign governments. It's the exact same activity, perhaps done for a different reason or purpose, and it's all still illegal." 

Hacker Julian Assange AKA "Nathanial Frank" May Face Espionage Charges in the USA

File:Julian Assange 20091117 Copenhagen 1 cropped to shoulders.jpg
Wikileaks hacker Julian Assange may face espionage charges in the US because he allegedly advised the American soldier Bradley Manning about how to hack into U.S. government computers and steal classified documents.

Assange allegedly used the alias "Nathanial Frank" when he communicated with Manning. This is a variant spelling of Nathaniel Frank, the name of the man who wrote the book Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America. This book advocates ending the policy about "don't ask don't tell" in the U.S. military.

Wired (12-19-11) has a technical account of how federal investigators uncovered the Assange-Manning chat logs. It may be that the U.S. investigators want the young Private Manning to testify against the older hacker Assange in exchange for a more lenient sentence. 

The Daily Mail (12-24-11) reports:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could face spy charges in the U.S. after a court revealed his apparent 'role' in the theft of secret military documents, it emerged today.

Lawyers have produced logs of online chats they claim show him coaching U.S. Private Bradley Manning how to break passwords to gain access to military computer networks...

The prosecutors claim Manning, 24, used the online alias of 'Nobody' while talking to 'Nathanial Frank' which they claim was an alias for Mr Assange.

In one chat, the young intelligence analyst asked 'Frank' for help cracking the password on his classified computer so he could log on anonymously. (See the full text.)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Renowned Climate Scientist Dr. Michael Mann Appears on MSNBC with Chris Hayes


Dr. Michael Mann (check out his Facebook and twitter) appears on MSNBC with Chris Hayes following the discussion about prisoners in Guantanamo. 

Monday, January 02, 2012

The Game is Afoot: U.K. Investigation of Climategate Hacker-Criminals Heats Up!

"It seems to me the authorities wouldn't have acted without some actionable intelligence," said Michael Mann, a scientist at Pennsylvania State University who specializes in climate modelling and whose messages came in for particular scrutiny in 2009. "They must know something that we don't yet know."---NYT (1-1-12)

The New York Times (1-1-12) has published an informative article about the new leads in the search for the hacker-criminals who  stole climate scientists' emails and other documents from a server at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Institute (CRU) and posted them on the Internet in 2009. The hacker-criminals posted a second tranche of stolen emails on the Internet in November 2011, and this may have given the authorities new information for their investigation. Even the U.S. Department of Justice is cooperating with the British authorities. See my previous post.

The Guardian (12-15-11) reports: 

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."