The Department of Justice today announced the unsealing of a federal indictment charging four men with hacking several game developers, including Microsoft, and the United States Army, and stealing intellectual property worth $100 million. Included in the property stolen was info on training tech for the Apache attack helicopter, and source codes for the video games Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Gears of War 3.
The four defendants, from Maryland, New Jersey, Indiana, and Canada, are facing 18 counts, including conspiracies to commit wire fraud, computer fraud, copyright infringement, mail fraud, identity theft, and theft of trade secrets, as well as individual counts of aggravated identity theft, unauthorized computer access, copyright infringement, and wire fraud.
The game developers affected were Epic Games, Valve, and Zombie Studios. The information stolen, which included source code, trade secrets, and financial data, was then sold to as yet unnamed third parties. Total damages are estimated to be over $200 million.
I understand the crimes committed, and the charges filed, but just for a second, stop and consider that at a basic level, the source codes for a Call of Duty game and U.S. military secrets are equivalent in value?
Now, this is just me, just throwing this out there and seeing what happens. Would there be an announcement of the unsealing of a federal indictment if the games involved were My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, or Barbie Jet, Set & Style?
Better yet, what if you developed something minor, like an app to store and catalog your expansive collection of "discreet" camel toe shots, and innocently get caught up? Would it necessarily hurt your feelings if they kinda left you out of the gory details? I mean, supposedly there's no such thing as bad publicity...
Wrist surgery update
Seems like it was time for one of these articles to pop up. With the mid-term elections drawing near, Jonathon Martin writes in the New Tork Times about the possibility of third-party candidates playing spoiler in races across the country.
Because of course. Martin's article is the equivalent of that relative that still wants to watch Rudy every holiday season. Despite all of the procedural obstacles, tactics, dick moves, and dirty tricks to keep third-party candidates out of debates and off ballots, every election cycle, we get the obligatory "could people start leaning third-party?" pieces.
Since the public-at-large had grown increasingly and consistently disgusted with government-as-usual, the rate at which these articles pop up is bound to increase.
When you get articles like Martin's Long Shots Loom as Spoilers in Tight November Races Across Nation, you will get the equally obligatory quote from a mainstream politician. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said, presumably with a straight face, "If people don't like their choices with the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate, then you're going to see a spurt in third-party candidates, so they can definitely affect outcomes.
I always like it when a member of the two-party problem admits that third-parties can be problematic. Not that it matters much, but I do like it, nonetheless.
Then again, Martin gives us examples of how politics-as-usual is addressing potential third-party problems. Democratic pollsters are making more room for third-party and independent pages in their strategy guides, and Republicans are putting Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) out on the road to try and draw votes back to candidates in danger from Libertarian challengers.
Naturally, both mainstream parties are keeping their noses to the grindstone, as dissatisfaction with Congress is going to result in a likely bump for the Republicans, as these conditions don't historically bode well for a president's party at a mid-term.
Martin's article helpfully points out that historical trend, as well as poll numbers from the New York Times/CBS News over Sept 12-15, in which 5% of voters said most members of Congress did not deserve reelection, and 87% said it was time for new people.
That's right where the article veered off the rails for me. Whenever I see poll numbers like that, it immediately reminds me of why poll numbers are usually bullshit, the moist kind, ideal for spreading.
Every time I see a poll saying "87% of voters think it's time for new people, I strain to find the rest of the sentence, the part that says "but won't go so far as to actually fucking do something about it." This is why we have the reality we have, and the system we have running that reality for us. The reality is incumbents have a reelection rate in the high 90s, which is why the system we have running things is on autopilot, no course set. This is also why it's particularly newsworthy (usually called an upset) when an incumbent loses. Even then, the third-party involvement, if any, only gets the token mention in passing.
When people truly get sick of the thinly-veiled money grab mainstream politics has become, they will seriously start leaning third-party and independent, but not this year. Not any time soon. Count up the incumbents, see I'm right, then start researching and getting involved in third-party politics. We need educated numbers, not inflamed passions or passing fancies every two to four years.
Press Release: Clarksville, Indiana- Sept. 6, 2014
Thomas Keister has, with the assistance of the United States Marijuana Party, established the U.S. Marijuana Party of Indiana (USMjP-IN), the ninth and newest state chapter for the twelve-year-old political party
Keister took advantage of a chance social media encounter with USMjP Organizer and Kentucky Chair Sheree Krider to point out there was not, at the time, an Indiana chapter, and offered to take the lead in getting one off the ground. By the end of the conversation, the USMjP-IN was taking shape, with the chapter launching through a new Facebook group earlier this afternoon.
"I'm excited for this opportunity," Keister commented, "it gives me a chance to address a particular topic of interest politically and take the reins with a new political organization, to possibly sharpen skill sets for my continued work with the Libertarian Party down here in southern Indiana. Marijuana is not a pressing issue for the Libertarian Party chapters down here at the moment, and that is for the best. Dividing my work will be a nice collaboration of efforts, and allow me to focus on what I consider to be an important topic and allow a little separation for the LPCC." Keister has served as Communications Director of the Libertarian Party of Clark County since March 2012.
For 90 days, the USMjP-IN will be considered a "reporting chapter," joining Hawaii and Virginia on probationary status, before being promoted to full chapter status. Keister will serve as administrator of the reporting chapter, and then assume the state chairmanship when the chapter becomes official later this year. Keister is already working on establishing a website and social media presence for the chapter.
To find the U.S. Marijuana Party of Indiana group, search "USMjPartyIN" on Facebook.
Art imitating common sense
This. This right here. A Massachusetts state trooper was probably thinking the same thing when she pulled over the car sporting this snazzy DIY license plate. As far as dumbass shit like this goes, I'll have to be kind of generous and grant a B-. The design concept was in line with the original. Maybe if the red ink had been a little bit darker...
Normally, when a story along these lines comes along (admittedly, I can't say for sure what normal would be), I would have figured the artwork would be more in line with a child, or maybe a recovering traumatic brain injury patient. Instead, neither the artist behind the knock-off nor the 20-year-old woman that was charged with driving with a suspended license and attaching false plates was identified.
Now, bring me someone who tried to pull off a hand-drawn driver's license, then we got something!
Banking on cronyism
Although it has not exactly hit mainstream status as a hot-button political issue, the United States Export-Import Bank has taken a ponderous course to perhaps emerging as a prime sleeper subject coming into election season.
The bank, which provides government loans and loan guarantees to foreign customers of American exporters, will see its charter expire on September 30 if not reauthorized by a vote of Congress. This vote, sadly like a lot of business in Washington, has become a routine motion gone through every couple of years over the 80 year history of the institution.
As to whether or not Ex-Im, as it is universally known, should be allowed to expire, that's increasingly becoming a question of the moment, popping up in senate and congressional races in Iowa, North Carolina, and Louisiana. Surprisingly enough, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is against renewal of Ex-Im, in spite of his endorsement by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (which is heavily in favor of renewal).
But even in the face of growing criticism, and questions of accountability after four Ex-Im officials were removed following an investigation into corruption, the bank still has its defenders, with President Obama a surprising head of the list.
That the President is at the head of the list is surprising because before he was for it, he was against it. As a candidate in September 2008, Obama said:
There are some programs that have been duplicated by other programs that we just need to cut back, like waste at the Economic Development Agency and the Export-Import Bank that's become little more than a fund for corporate welfare.
So how, in a mere six years, did Barack Obama go from railing against Ex-Im to holding hands with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, hardly a typical Obama ally? Whole bunch of good questions, right there.
Winner, The Blogitzer
(Best Overall Writing)
2011 Blogger's Choice Awards