Cuckoo egg in reed warbler nest, a webcam first


This 2014 video shows a young cuckoo, fed by its foster parent, an Eurasian reed warbler.

A worldwide webcam first: today, a webcam was installed in the Gelderse Poort nature reserve in Gelderland province.

The webcam shows a Eurasian reed warbler nest. In that nest, last week a female cuckoo laid an egg. If all will go as expected, then this week the young cuckoo will hatch. Female cuckoos time laying their eggs in other birds’ nests so that the cuckoo egg will hatch just before the other eggs. As a cuckoo hatchling can push reed warbler eggs out of the nest, but has a much bigger problem doing that to reed warbler hatchlings.

You can watch the webcam, where the reed warbler now sits on one reed warbler egg and one cuckoo egg, here.

Real Neat Blog Award, congratulations to 12 nominees!


Real Neat Blog Award

Late in 2014, I made this new award: the Real Neat Blog Award. There are so many bloggers whose blogs deserve more attention. So, I will try to do something about that 🙂

It is the first award that I ever made. I did some computer graphics years ago, before I started blogging; but my computer drawing had become rusty 🙂

The ‘rules’ of the Real Neat Blog Award are: (feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; or don’t accept awards; etc.):

1. Put the award logo on your blog.

2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.

4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.

5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

My seven questions are:

1. Where do most visits to your blog come from?

2. What is your favourite sport?

3. What has been a special moment for you so far in 2017?

4. What is your favourite quote?

5. What was your favourite class when still at school?

6. Anything you had wished to have learned earlier?

7. What musical instrument have you tried to play?

My nominees are:

1. Photostoriesteller

2. Living and atheism

3. LexieAnimeTravel

4. ThE CrEaTiVe wOrLd !

5. Stories

6. TravelwithIgor

7. Book Time

8. Kristen Twardowski

9. Darque Dreamer Reads

10. Festival Reviews

11. cries from an unkempt garden

12. #ADPhD

WannaCry ransomware, ‘thank you’, NSA!


This 15 May 2017 video is about WannaCry ransomware and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

By Andre Damon in the USA:

The global ransomware attack and the crimes of the US spy agencies

16 May 2017

Over the past four days, some 350,000 computers have been infected by the so-called “WannaCry” malware, including 70,000 devices such as MRI scanners, blood storage refrigerators and operating equipment used by Britain’s National Health Service. As a result of the attack, the NHS was forced to turn away emergency room patients and divert ambulances, potentially resulting in serious illnesses and even fatalities.

The worm is a piece of “ransomware” that encrypts users’ data until the creators receive a payment. It uses “exploits” developed by the US National Security Agency as just a small part of the NSA’s catalog of hacking tools.

When NSA researchers discovered the vulnerability in the Windows operating system targeted by “WannaCry,” they refused to inform Microsoft. The company found out about the existence of the vulnerability only shortly before the general public, when it was leaked by the Shadow Brokers hacker group on April 14 of this year.

On Saturday, Microsoft President Brad Smith, in a tersely worded blog post, faulted the NSA for failing to share its knowledge of the exploit. “This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem,” he wrote, adding that “this most recent attack represents a completely unintended but disconcerting link between the two most serious forms of cybersecurity threats in the world today—nation-state action and organized criminal action.”

He concluded, “We need governments to consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits.”

Microsoft is far from blameless when it comes to the NSA’s operations. It has established a standing practice of reporting bugs to the US government before they are repaired and publicly acknowledged, allowing the NSA to use these vulnerabilities to break into systems.

Regardless, Smith’s statement represents a stinging indictment of the operations of the US intelligence apparatus, implying that its actions are only once removed from those of criminals.

The hacking tools used in the “WannaCry” malware serve an even more malevolent purpose than any ransomware: illegal spying on the population of the whole world as part of a systematic practice of subversion and cyber aggression.

In May 2013, NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the US intelligence apparatus collects, processes, reads and catalogs a vast quantity of private communications, both in the United States and internationally. Snowden explained that the stated aim of the NSA, the “signals intelligence” arm of the US intelligence apparatus, is unfettered access to all private information. Its mottos are, according to a leaked internal presentation, “Collect it All,” “Process it All,” “Exploit it All, “Sniff it All” and “Know it All.”

Illegal domestic surveillance operations authorized by the Bush administration after 9/11 resulted in the vastly expanded scale of government spying that was exposed by Snowden. With the collaboration, both voluntary and coerced, of the major telecommunications companies, the US government was able to vacuum up nearly all phone conversations, email and chat messages exchanged on digital devices.

In subsequent years, common communications platforms substantially improved their security capabilities, with nearly all Internet communication systems enabling encryption by default. These developments prompted US intelligence officials to complain of the Internet “going dark” to the NSA and CIA, prompting repeated calls by politicians, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, to criminalize the use of encryption.

The NSA responded by vastly expanding its use of “Tailored Access Operations,” the arm of the NSA devoted to “computer network exploitation,” commonly known as hacking. The agency adopted the slogan, “Your data is our data, your equipment is our equipment—anytime, any place.”

The NSA worked to build up a catalog of cyber weapons, known as “exploits,” which allow it to easily break into almost any Internet-connected device. One internal NSA document from 2012 claimed that the NSA worked with the largest telecommunications and technology companies in the world to “insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems, IT systems, networks and endpoint communications devices used by targets.”

The NSA’s massive team of security researchers—the largest in the world—also worked to discover and exploit vulnerabilities within existing products, keeping these bugs a secret from manufacturers in order to allow the NSA to exploit them to gain access to computers, networks and Internet-connected devices before other researchers could discover them and recommend fixes to manufacturers.

In addition to using these tools to carry out mass surveillance, the NSA weaponized them in order to carry out cyberattacks against Washington’s geopolitical adversaries. The most notorious of these efforts was the release of the Stuxnet worm in 2010, which ruined some 1,000 Iranian nuclear centrifuges. The cyberattack was coordinated with a series of car bomb murders, attributed by the media to the US and Israel, which killed at least three Iranian nuclear physicists.

The fact that over 70 percent of the initially reported “WannaCry” infections took place in Russia raises the very real possibility that the current disaster is the result of a Stuxnet-like cyberattack by the United States. The other country disproportionately affected was China.

Speaking in Beijing on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “As for the source of these threats, Microsoft’s leadership stated this directly. They said the source of the virus was the special services of the United States.”

White House Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert declared that finding those responsible for cyberattacks is “something that sometimes eludes us. Attribution can be difficult here.”

Bossert’s statement contrasts sharply with the declaration by the director of national intelligence in October 2016 that the US spy agencies were “confident that the Russian Government directed… recent compromises” of emails related to the Clinton campaign.

That declaration was part of a vast campaign by the Democratic Party, the media and much of the political establishment aimed at demonizing Russia by claiming it had “hacked” the 2016 US elections. As part of that campaign, media outlets, led by the New York Times, sought to present Russia as a global hacking powerhouse, subverting the spotless US electoral system.

One can only imagine what would have happened if, instead of the current malware attack mainly affecting Russia and largely bypassing the US in its initial stages, the situation had been reversed. The media would be up in arms about Russian “hackers,” with demands that the Trump administration retaliate with sanctions, cyberattacks and more menacing military moves. The Democrats would be in the forefront of calls for new war-mongering resolutions in Congress.

An examination of the facts exposed by the “WannaCry” attack, however, show that the world’s biggest band of cyber criminals by far is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

The cyberattack that hit some 200,000 computers around the world last Friday, apparently using malicious software developed by the US National Security Agency, is only expected to escalate and spread with the start of the new workweek: here.

What accounts for the success of the WannaCrypt ransomware attack on Britain’s National Health Service? Here.

Microsoft blames NSA for Wannacry ransomware scandal


This video says about itself:

13 May 2017

See what NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden had to say on WannaCry ransomware cyber attack that infected servers in more than 100 countries.

After non-establishment Edward Snowden and non-establishment WikiLeaks blamed the United States NSA for the present Wannacry ransomware worldwide attacks on computers scandal, now Microsoft agrees. Microsoft, very much part of the establishment and sometimes collaborators with the NSA and other spying government agencies.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Microsoft: NSA should have reported leak earlier

Today, 09:17

The Wannacry ransomware that holds the ICT world to ransom ever since Friday actually uses a leak [in Microsoft Windows] discovered by the US secret service NSA. Microsoft confirms this. Many security investigators had already drawn that conclusion.

It is a security issue used by the NSA to hack suspects. However, because the secret service kept this secret, computers of innocent civilians and organizations continued to be vulnerable to attacks.

Leak leaked

Last month, a package of NSA digital weapons was leaked, where that leak [in Microsoft Windows] was part of. Researchers feared that malicious people would abuse that. Although Microsoft has been patching up this issue, businesses and consumers who have not updated their computers are still vulnerable.

Microsoft is not happy that the NSA has kept the leak secret. As a consequence, the security issue was not resolved earlier. “This shows the danger of governments collecting [computer] security issues.” Governments worldwide should see this as a wake up call and think better about using digital weapons, Microsoft says.

Police

In the Netherlands, the AIVD secret service also collects security issues in software to target targets. The government also wants the police to have the power to hack suspects. The Dutch House of Representatives will soon be discussing this. Critics fear that maliciously-collected leaks will also be exploited by malicious people, as happened to the NSA.

This video says about itself:

WannaCry Ransomware in Action | NSA Exploit based

13 May 2017

WannaCry or WannaCrypt0r, a new ransomware based on an NSA exploit, has been taking over several computers since the last couple of days (May, 2017). As usual it encrypts user files, and demands a ransom payment in bitcoin for decryption. Airports, businesses, govt. organizations, universities, health services (like NHS) and even the Russian Internal Affairs department are affected. Over 99 countries are under siege including Russia, Germany (most of Europe), China, US.

Make sure you have backups of important data on a separate external drive and don’t forget to patch your systems, cause the NSA vulnerability has been fixed by Microsoft via updates.

From News Line daily in Britain:

Monday, 15 May 2017

NHS held to ransom by cyber terrorists – Hunt must resign and the Tories must be sacked on June 8th!

ON FRIDAY afternoon a terrorist cyber attack was launched on the NHS in England and Scotland that brought it to a standstill in many areas, a standstill that is still continuing. The terrorists encrypted vital NHS patient information to prevent doctors having access to it so that patients’ lives were directly threatened with their operations unable to take place!

Apparently, the ransom demands were for £230 in Bitcoins, so the likelihood is that the NHS, the great gain and pride of the British people is being held to ransom by a gang of amateur robbers!

One would think that the government would die of shame at what has happened, but it marches brazenly on, as if nothing has happened except that Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has gone into hiding, and we have been warned that more of the same is ahead.

The reality is that savage Tory NHS multi-billion cuts have seen hospitals cut and closed, and hundreds of thousands of beds ‘lost’. There are billions of pounds of more savage STP reorganisation cuts ahead, leading the way to NHS privatisation. The ongoing cuts have left the NHS not only understaffed and struggling to provide the service that it was intended for, it has left it with decades-old computers, a sitting duck, for the cyber terrorists who want to endanger patients lives for a handful of Bitcoins.

Health Secretary Hunt has spent the last 18 months harrying the junior doctors and forcing them to accept an imposed contract. He told them every day that their protests and refusal to work a seven-day service were endangering patients lives and even causing patient deaths! Now we see the essence of the situation. Cameron‘s, May‘s and Hunt’s cuts have not only left the NHS unable to function, they have allowed its security systems to become so completely outdated that the NHS could be held to ransom and patients lives threatened for a handful of Bitcoins! Their refusal to properly finance and secure the NHS has handed it over to terrorists which may well result in a number of patient deaths!

Hunt is directly in charge of the NHS, and must not be allowed to escape responsibility for the crisis that his policies have created. He must be made to resign at once! In fact on June 8th the Tory government itself must be held to account for the crime of allowing the cyber terrorists to hold the NHS for ransom by being sacked by the electorate. A Labour government must be returned that can be made to to carry out a policy of developing the NHS and not destroying it.

One thing that is missing in the present situation is any attempt to blame Putin and Russian hackers for the NHS security crisis.

This is because as the whistleblower Snowden has pointed out that responsibility for the terrorists getting the tools to do the job rests with the USA. Snowden is not alone in pointing out that the US National Security Agency allowed the terrorists to use an NSA tool codenamed EternalBlue that was one of several tools leaked by the Shadow Brokers hacking gang last month.

The tool exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft’s Server Message Block which allows attackers to crash systems with a denial of service attack. After scrambling computer files, the malware demands $300 (£230) in Bitcoin to restore documents.

Edward Snowden commented that: ‘Last month, the Shadow Brokers hacking group released documents containing vulnerabilities identified by the NSA and hacking tools developed by the intelligence agency to break into Windows computers. Shadow Brokers made the exploits public after the NSA left their arsenal of hacking tools on a server “in the wild”, allowing them to be picked up by any hacker who stumbled upon them.

Snowden raised the issue of whether the NSA would be liable for any consequent hack using the tools. The Shadow Brokers’ file dump included 23 new hacking tools named OddJob, EasyBee, EternalRomance, FuzzBunch, EducatedScholar, and others.

The tools are capable of breaking into computers running versions of the Windows operating system which are earlier than the most recent Windows 10. The way to proceed is to make Hunt quit at once, then sack the Tories on June 8th and then send the clean-up bill to the USA and its NSA for payment!

POST-CYBERATTACK, MONDAY COULD BE ROUGH “U.S. and European officials scrambled to catch the culprits behind a massive ransomware worm that caused damage across the globe over the weekend, stopping car factories, hospitals, shops and schools, as Microsoft pinned blame on governments for not disclosing more software vulnerabilities.” Here’s a look into what it takes to catch a cybercriminal and what to do if you’ve been attacked. [Reuters]

NSA malware causing worlwide ransomware attacks


This video says about itself:

21 March 2017

In a captivating video interview, Edward Snowden, who revealed secrets about U.S. National Security Agency spying activities, answers questions and talks about Russia, U.S. government, cybersecurity and how to deal with the latest security news in the U.S.

By Kevin Reed:

Worldwide ransomware attack linked to hacked NSA cyberwarfare arsenal

13 May 2017

A massive global cyberattack—likely caused by the spread of malware developed by the US National Security Agency as part of its cyberwarfare arsenal—hit computers around the world on Friday and rendered them inoperable. The malicious ransomware attacked computers in 99 countries and locked down their files while demanding that system administrators pay a fee of between $300 and $600 within six hours in exchange for regained access.

The malware, known as “WannaCry” or “WanaCrypt,” rapidly infected computers of organizations internationally such as the National Health Service in the UK, the Spanish telecom firm Telefonica and the US-based delivery service FedEx. Some news outlets reported that the bulk of the cyberattack on Friday took place in Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan. It was also reported that the malware disrupted the functioning of banks, transportation systems and other mission-critical operations around the world.

According to cybersecurity experts, the malware is targeting computers running Microsoft Windows. When downloading or clicking on an infected file or application, the malware exploits a security flaw in the operating system and proceeds to encrypt the files of the target system and then demands a payment in bitcoin (electronic currency) by a specified date in exchange for restoring access.

The ransomware is also a “worm,” which means that it is engineered for self-replication as far and wide as possible and aimed at being transferred to all computers connected with the host system.

Although Microsoft released a patch to fix the OS security vulnerability in March 2017, many users had not updated their systems in time and remained vulnerable to the ransomware. Meanwhile, those users that paid the demanded ransom are reporting that—rather than having file access restored—the malware demands a greater sum of money and threatens to delete all files on the system.

The outbreak of the viral ransomware is connected to the public release in April by the hacking group calling itself Shadow Brokers of a trove of NSA and CIA cyberwarfare documents and computer code. The group published what it described as documents stolen from an NSA server housing the complete arsenal of US cyberwarfare weapons that had been left poorly protected.

In March, the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks released documents related to the malware theft in an effort to alert the cybersecurity community and the public that the software was being circulated in the black market and posed a significant threat. WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange called the theft of the cyberwarfare arsenal by hackers, “a historic act of devastating incompetence” by the US intelligence establishment.

Additionally, Assange and WikiLeaks exposed the fact that the US government was well aware that their inventory of malware, spyware, netbots, viruses and “Trojan horses”—the product of decades of CIA and NSA cyberwarfare preparations—had been stolen and did nothing to work with the computer industry or to notify the public about the theft of these items from their servers.

At that time, the corporate media around the globe also refused to warn about the dangers posed by the circulation of the malware code among hacker groups and others on the periphery of the US military-intelligence community. Rather than demand emergency action to protect the public from what is now unfolding, the subservient media continued its vilification of WikiLeaks and asserted false claims that the exposure of the criminal activity of the US government threatened national security and endangered the lives of security personnel.

Facebook censorship on women’s reproductive rights


Kim Phuc just after the bombing, photo by Nick Ut

In September 2016, Facebook censored this famous 1972 photo, of Vietnamese children burnt by napalm bombing, including Kim Phuc, then a 9-year-old badly injured girl.

Facebook deleted the photo from, eg, the Facebook page of Norwegian conservative Prime Minister Ms Erna Solberg.

Now, more Facebook antics.

By Jon Queally in the USA:

May 12, 2017

Access Denied: Facebook Blocks Abortion Pill Provider’s Page for ‘Promotion of Drug Use’

‘WTF Facebook?!’ say supporters of international group that provides reproductive health information and access to abortion pills in countries where it remains illegal

As of late Thursday night, Facebook has yet to explain why it has blocked the page of a women’s health organization that provides abortion counseling and drug access to thousands of women across the globe each day. And reproductive rights advocates from around the world are not happy about it.

News that the Facebook page operated by Women on Web, which runs a global help desk for women seeking information on ending pregnancies safely and provides access to abortion pills, was first reported by its sister organization, Women on Waves, which operates a boat that travels the world providing medical care, including abortions, in places where access to such services for women is limited, highly restricted, or banned outright.

As their Facebook page remained active, Women on Waves on Thursday morning posted a message—alongside a screenshot of the notice received from Facebook which said the page had violated terms of service—to alert people to what had happened.

“Dear all,” the post reads, “our sister organization @WomenOnWeb.IF has been unpublished by Facebook under the accusation of ‘encouragement of drug use.'”

Defending its partner, the post described how the group, which is based in Amsterdam, “provides life-saving information to thousands of women worldwide” and that its page on Facebook “publishes news, scientific information and the protocols of the World Health Organization and Women on Web has answered over half a million emails with women who needed scientific, accurate information essential for their health and life.”

Supporters of the groups who commented on the post were outraged. “What the hell?” said one in reaction. Someone else added, “WTF Facebook?!”

Another suggested it was part of a larger and more troubling trend. “I’ve seen a lot of this lately,” the person wrote. “Extreme conservatives using loopholes in the fb algorithm processes to bully various pages and groups.”

Women on Web subsequently posted this message to its Twitter account:

‘Our FB page has been unpublished under the accusation of “encouraging drug use”. WoW is a reliable source of life-saving info to thousands.’

The Independent, which first reported the story, said that a Facebook spokesperson was “investigating the incident.” Later reporting by the Guardian said the social media giant did not immediately respond to its request for comment, nor was response given to requests submitted for this article.

As of this writing, the group’s Facebook page remains unavailable …

It still was at the time of making this blog post.

As the Guardian reports, this is not the first time that Women on Web has had problems with Facebook:

In January 2012, Facebook deleted the profile photograph of the group’s founder and director, Dr Rebecca Gomperts. The image contained instructions for inducing an abortion using Misoprostol. Gomperts was locked out of her account for two days after re-posting the image, but Facebook subsequently apologized and reinstated both the image and her account.

Thursday’s incident comes amid increased worries that large social media and web platforms—which have come to dominate the way digital content is shared and monetized on the web—are having an outsized and unaccountable role in how information is managed and controlled by private, for-profit corporations.

On Wednesday, Facebook announced new protocols regarding how it plans to deal with what it deems “low-quality web page experiences.” And while all people might agree they want to see less “low-quality” material or information on the web, serious concerns about censorship and bias quickly emerge when discussion moves towards what gets classified as “low-quality” and, perhaps more importantly, who gets to decide what meets that definition.

For its part, Women on Waves said it believed Facebook would rectify the situation with its sister organization before long.

“We expect Facebook will undue this action soon enough,” the group said in its post, “as access to information is a human right.”

Meanwhile on Twitter, users of one social media platform were condemning the behavior of another platform as they demanded Facebook reinstate the Women on Web page immediately.

Facebook violates privacy, Dutch privacy watchdog says: here.

Trump has dramatically expanded the “global gag rule” on abortion.