North Korean Internet Outage Probably Caused By Hackers, Not US Government

Dec 23, 2014 | 7:06 PM

December 23, 2014 - North Korea's internet was disrupted over the weekend, and finally went down completely on Monday. It came back online, but then it went down two more times. And tonight, reports Yonhap News Agency, "some major North Korean websites remained blocked Wednesday [Korea time] for the second straight day amid growing speculation over cyber warfare between Washington and Pyongyang. Since going down Monday evening, the website of the North's main propaganda organ, Uriminzokkiri, remained inaccessible as of early Wednesday."

Was it the work of the United States, seeking revenge for the cyber attack on Sony Pictures? Some security experts "say the attack that temporarily knocked the isolated nation offline looks more like the work of hacker pranksters than a vengeful U.S. government," says

Poster for "The Interview"
The network was not down very long (about 10 hours), which indicates that the outages were probably not the retaliation promised by President Obama as for the devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures on November 24.  Sure, it seems the outages are continuing, and it seems impressive that an entire nation's internet access was taken down. Right? Well, no, not really. Read on to find out why that's not true in the strange case of North Korea.

The FBI and Obama have blamed North Korea for penetrating Sony's computer system, stealing massive amounts of information, and then rendering the computers useless. Many in the info security business are skeptical of the accusations against North Korea, however, and some even say it might have been in inside job.

The mainstream assumption is that a film called "The Interview" pissed off North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un by - among other things - depicting him as a douchebag and dying in a fiery explosion. Some say that the depiction of Kim in the film could have caused damage to his prestige if any of his generals or other privileged persons were able to access it, say on a black market DVD or even on the Internet.

On December 19, Obama vowed that the U.S. "will respond proportionally" against North Korea. If the most recent outage/s was caused by an Obama-authorized cyber attack on North Korea's interwebs, then it's a lame response. It certainly was not a proportionate response, considering the enormous, yet to be fully determined, financial losses of Sony Pictures. After all, to simply cause a disruption of less than 24 hours to a very few elite North Koreans probably did not cause any great hardships or damage.

I think most of us are wishing for Obama to order up the crippling of Pyongyang's power grid. That would not only deny the North Koreans access to the Internet (no power, no computers), it would also force the artificially privileged of the capital city to live in the same desperate poverty that the rest of the country suffers. A simple EMP blast in the sky over Pyongyang ought to do the trick. Of course, that would cause more public relations problems than it's probably worth.

"North Korea's circle of internet users is so small that the country has only 1,024 IP addresses for 25 million people," reports Vox, "whereas the US has billions of IP addresses for 316 million people. While it's impossible to infer a specific number of internet-connected devices from this, it is safe to say that the number is very, very small." Kim Jong-un's regime has turned Internet access into "something that exists almost purely to cement his government's rule and to reward himself."

North Korea's Kim Jong-un, digital dictator
"The internet in North Korea is not a public good, nor even a good that the public is aware of," notes Vox. " It is purely and solely used as a government tool, for serving such ends as propaganda and hacking, and as a luxury good for the elites who run the government." The biggest inconvenience that an Internet outage might cause for North Korea would be the inability of their professional hackers and propagandists to operate.

This could pose a threat to Kim Jong-un's prestige. Who cares if the peasants never hear of "The Interview?" Theoretically, the elites could stream the film via their unfiltered Internet access or obtain the film on DVD.

If the elite watch "The Interview," it could hurt Kim's prestige and damage respect for the little dictator. It wouldn't change things immediately, says Rand Corporation senior defense analyst Bruce Bennett, "but the elite in North Korea aren’t happy with Kim Jong Un." Bennett says Kim is "purging people right and left, in far extreme of what his father did. He’s inducing instability in the country…You never know what’s going to change things."

Dyn Research in March 2013 that "the four networks of North Korea are routed by a single Internet service provider, Star JV (AS 131279), which has two international Internet service providers: China Unicom (AS 4837) and Intelsat (AS 22351)."

Taking down North Korea's access to the Internet for a few hours would be an inconvenience for Pyongyang and Kim Jong-un. But it would not impart any proportional damage (relative to the Sony losses) unless it also fried all of the computers connected to it. (There are other computers in North Korea, such as in schools, but they are connected to the state-run intranet, not to the internet. And so headlines referring to "Massive North Korea Internet Outages" are amusing because there is nothing "massive" about Internet access in North Korea.)

Then again, taking it down for a prolonged period of time (a very, very long time measured in years) would cripple North Korea's hacking program, which they use as a substitute for their weak military. A 62-year old defector from North Korea told Aljazeera that there are five reasons why Pyongyang loves cyber warfare, which can all be summed up briefly this way: Cyber warfare can be highly effective, low risk and relatively inexpensive.

While this recent outage could be an attack [by the U.S.], Dyn Research notes that "it’s also consistent with more common causes, such as power problems. Point causes such as breaks in fiberoptic cables, or deliberate upstream provider disconnections, seem less likely because they don’t generate prolonged instability before a total failure. We can only guess. The data themselves don’t speak to motivations, or distinguish human factors from physical infrastructure problems."

It shouldn't be surprising to learn that North Korea has had Internet outages in the past, and they've been on the receiving end of cyber attacks too: Uriminzokkiri, for example, was hacked back in April, 2013. North Korea has blamed those past outages and attacks on the U.S. But they were more likely the symptoms of a lousy infrastructure. And the actions of playful hackers.

Also See:
Did North Korea Hack Sony? Bruce W. Bennett, Rand
The Sony saga: 10 reasons why the FBI is wrong IT Pro Portal
Obama Vows a Response to Cyberattack on Sony New York Times
It's Alarmingly Easy To Take North Korea's Internet Offline Business Insider UK
How North Korea, one of the world's poorest countries, got so good at hacking Vox
7:06 PM | 0 comments | Read More

FBI Blames North Korea for Sony Cyber Attack

Dec 19, 2014 | 2:16 PM

December 19, 2014 - The FBI announced today that North Korea is to blame for the unprecedented computer hacking attack of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) in late November.

The attack was spurred by Sony's film "The Interview," which depicts a fictional CIA-sponsored assassination of N. Korea's young dictator Kim Jong-un. In the film, Kim dies when a missile hits his helicopter, and it is probably that "Kim Jung-un death scene" that has North Korea's little dictator so upset. The film was originally scheduled to be released to theaters on Christmas, but threats of terrorism caused Sony to pull the film's release, perhaps permanently.

Kim Jong Un 'death scene' from The Interview
- MirrorNinja (watch video)
The attack on Sony was devastating. In it's statement today, the FBI said that "the destructive nature of this attack, coupled with its coercive nature, sets it apart." The statement said that the FBI is confident that the North Korean government "is responsible for these actions."

From today's FBI press release:

Today, the FBI would like to provide an update on the status of our investigation into the cyber attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE). In late November, SPE confirmed that it was the victim of a cyber attack that destroyed systems and stole large quantities of personal and commercial data. A group calling itself the “Guardians of Peace” claimed responsibility for the attack and subsequently issued threats against SPE, its employees, and theaters that distribute its movies.

....The attacks also rendered thousands of SPE’s computers inoperable, forced SPE to take its entire computer network offline, and significantly disrupted the company’s business operations.
....Sony’s quick reporting facilitated the investigators’ ability to do their jobs, and ultimately to identify the source of these attacks.
....the FBI now has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions. While the need to protect sensitive sources and methods precludes us from sharing all of this information, our conclusion is based, in part, on the following:

- Technical analysis of the data deletion malware used in this attack revealed links to other malware that the FBI knows North Korean actors previously developed. For example, there were similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods, and compromised networks.

- The FBI also observed significant overlap between the infrastructure used in this attack and other malicious cyber activity the U.S. government has previously linked directly to North Korea. For example, the FBI discovered that several Internet protocol (IP) addresses associated with known North Korean infrastructure communicated with IP addresses that were hardcoded into the data deletion malware used in this attack.
- Separately, the tools used in the SPE attack have similarities to a cyber attack in March of last year against South Korean banks and media outlets, which was carried out by North Korea.

....the destructive nature of this attack, coupled with its coercive nature, sets it apart. North Korea’s actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves. Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior.... 
(Full press release here.)

Also See:
Hackers Make New Demands On Sony Pictures TMZ
Obama pledges proportional response to Sony hack AP/Watertown Public Opinion
Hack Attack Spurs Call For More North Korea Sanctions AP/Atlanta Daily World
Watch the Kim Jong-un Death Scene from The Interview MirrorNinja
Sony Pictures hack: Timeline of revelations from unprecedented cyber-attack IBTimes
Sony Pictures proves Hollywood is a land of cowards New York Post
George Clooney: Hollywood must push for release of The Interview  The Telegraph (UK)
Hollywood Outraged At Sony’s Decision To Pull The Interview From Theaters Gossip & Gab
2:16 PM | 0 comments | Read More

Obama Calls Himself a Dictator. Or King. Or Emperor.

Nov 18, 2014 | 12:51 PM

November 18, 2014 - Barack Obama once said that preventing deportation of illegal immigrants without the involvement of Congress would be dictatorial. Western Journalism's Norvell Rose notes that even Obama's natural allies in the liberal media are serving up scathing criticism of his tendencies to act more like a king than president.

Dictator Obama, Heir to Stalin
Obama, heir to Stalin
Rose wrote that the New York Times "aptly points out" Obama has said on multiple occasions that acting on his own to curb the deportation of millions of illegals without an act of Congress "would amount to nothing less than the dictates of a king, not a president." 

A better analogy might be that Obama's penchant for acting without the peoples' elected representatives in Congress amounts more closely to the dictates of a despotic tyrant. There have been, after all, kings who have been more cooperative with their parliaments or congresses than Obama has been.

WJ's Rose gives us three examples from the NYT piece, "Using Executive Order on Immigration, Obama Would Reverse Long-Held Stance" of  "Obama’s own, very clear and specific words to explain that a president cannot simply move forward on this kind of domestic front without congressional authority," and they are damning:

  • In a Telemundo interview in September 2013, Mr. Obama said…I’ll be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally,” Mr. Obama told Jose Diaz-Balart in the interview. “So that’s not an option.”
  • …during a Google Hangout in February 2013…“This is something that I have struggled with throughout my presidency,” Mr. Obama said. “The problem is, is that I’m the president of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.”
  • In an immigration speech in San Francisco last November…Mr. Obama…insisted that only Congress had the authority to do what they [immigration protestors] wanted. “The easy way out is to try to yell and pretend like I can do something by violating our laws,” he said.

The NYT is not the only leftist newspaper of note to sling Obama's words back at him. Two editorials in The Washington Post point out Obama's hypocrisy and willingness to sabotage democracy: "In Mr. Obama’s own words, acting alone is ‘not how our democracy functions" on November 17, and from August 5, "Frustration over stalled immigration action doesn’t mean Obama can act unilaterally."

Also See:
Even the Democrats Want Obama to Slow Down on Immigration Executive Action PJ Media
Dems press Obama to wait on immigration The Hill
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Apple's New iPad Air 2: Slimmer, More Powerful

Oct 16, 2014 | 9:46 PM

October 16, 2014 - Apple's iPad Air 2 tablet (also known as the iPad 6) looks familiar but has a thinner body than last year's iPad Air. Needless to say, Apple added new features and updated most of the others. And because size does matter, the iPad Air 2 is only 6.1mm thick, less than half the thickness of the original iPad. It's thin enough that Apple calls it the world's thinnest tablet.

Apple's iPad Air 2
iPad Air 2 from Apple (click to enlarge)
Nice price: Although it's got lots of improvements, the iPad Air 2 price is the same as its predecessor. "The iPad Air 2 starts at $500 for the 16GB version," writes reviewer Eric Limer at Gizmodo today, "the same price the original Air debuted at. Bigger storage sizes come in $100 increments up to 64GB, with an additional $130 premium for LTE versions. Meanwhile the original Air is getting $100 lopped off its price, and now starts at $400."

The Verge's Jacob Kastrenakes writes that the tablet will be offered in gold, silver, and gray beginning at $499 for a 16GB, Wi-Fi only model. Apple is also offering models with additional storage, selling 64GB for $599 and 128GB for $699. A version of the tablet with LTE is also available, with each model being sold at a $130 premium to the Wi-Fi version."

Check out the video review from Mashable, below. More after the video..... 

The iPad Air 2 has an exciting new camera, too. It's now got an 8 megapixel sensor with 1.12 micron pixels and a lens with an f2.4 aperture, reports The Verge.  "It's able to record 1080p video and slow-motion video, camera panoramas, take photos in burst mode or time lapse mode — all of which have been previously introduced on iPhones. The front camera has a new sensor too and a larger aperture of f2.2."

Another exciting new feature: The touch ID fingerprint sensor. It seems that it will allow authentication of your identity only for online purchasing and cannot be used in brick-and-mortar stores. It can also be used to lock your iPad Air 2, sign in to secure apps, approve purchases from iTunes, iBooks, and the App Store, and more.

Pre-orders for the iPad Air 2 begin tomorrow (October 17), and will begin shipping out next week.

Also See:
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 camera shootout versus iPhone 6 Plus, LG G3 CNET
Apple fields iPad Air 2 to breathe new life into tablet sales CNET
iPad Air 2 Vs iPad Air: What's The Difference? Forbes
9:46 PM | 0 comments | Read More

Dutch Motorcycle Gang Members Join Kurds Against ISIS

October 16, 2014 - The Netherlands, also known as Holland, has some bad-ass biker dudes. One of them, a notorious band of brothers called "No Surrender," has already branched out internationally. The Dutch bikers (citizens of Holland are called Dutch, for those of you who don't know) are just itching to bash ISIS and bring some tough justice to Syria and Iraq.

Posted to Twitter by @KoerdenNL, October 9
Three members of  No Surrender who have military backgrounds already went to Iraq and Syria last week to help Kurdish troops fight Islamic State (IS). That would have been illegal just days ago, but their government has given them a green light. This is not an official No Surrender action, however.

BBC News reports that No Surrender's leader, Klaas Otto, says the men went to fight on their own, independently of their club. 

Otto told Dutch broadcaster Omroep Brabant, "They are trained guys with lots of experience - with foreign missions," and that the three volunteer fighters "are extremely disciplined. They don't drink any alcohol, not even on club evenings." Of their motivation, he said, "They wanted to do something when they saw the pictures of the beheadings."

"The story emerged after photos began circulating on social media," says BBC (see photo above,  video below). "One shows a man dressed in green military fatigues, clutching a Kalashnikov, sitting alongside a Kurdish fighter."

AFP reports that Holland's public prosecutor spokesman Wim de Bruin said, "Joining a foreign armed force was previously punishable, now it's no longer forbidden," public prosecutor spokesman Wim de Bruin told AFP
Klaas Otto, No Surrender

"You just can't join a fight against the Netherlands," he told AFP after reports emerged that Dutch bikers from the No Surrender gang were fighting IS insurgents alongside Kurds in northern Iraq.
The head of No Surrender, Klaas Otto, told state broadcaster NOS that three members who traveled to near Mosul in northern Iraq were from Dutch cities Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Breda.

It's illegal for citizens of Holland to join ISIS (Islamic State) because it's considered to be a terrorist organization. And it is still against the law for Dutch citizens to join the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) because it's considered to be a terrorist organization by Holland and many other countries. De Bruin pointed out that Dutch citizens fighting on the Kurdish side could still be in serious legal trouble if they commit crimes such as torture or rape. "But this is also happening a long way away and so it'll be very difficult to prove," said De Bruin. (Wink, wink.)

No Surrender is not the first motorcycle club whose members have fought against ISIS in Syria, however. 

Also See: 
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CDC Lets Feverish Ebola Nurse Board Commercial Flight From Cleveland to Dallas

From Caretaker to Patient: Nurse Amber Vinson
Ebola Nurse and Victim:
Amber Vinson
October 16, 2014 - Nurse Amber Vinson, 29, the second nurse to contract Ebola in Dallas, TX was told by a federal health staffer that it was okay to board a commercial in Cleveland on October 13. Vinson told the staffer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that she was running a fever of 99.5 Fahrenheit.  The CDC staffer considered that to be non-threatening.

According to WSBTV Atlanta, CDC spokesman David Daigle said that Vinson spoke with a CDC official responsible for monitoring her health before she boarded the flight Monday. In other words, the CDC person that Vinson spoke to knew that she was one of the people who had cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola eight days ago at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.  

Reuters reports that "a federal source" said that Vinson "was not told not to fly" because her slight fever was below 100.4F, the CDC's temperature threshold that would indicated infectious Ebola. But CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. John LaPook reports that Vinson called the CDC several times before boarding the plane concerned about her fever. "Nurse Vinson,  did in fact call the CDC several times before taking that flight and said she has a temperature, a fever of 99.5, and the person at the CDC looked at a chart and because her temperature wasn’t 100.4 or higher she didn’t officially fall into the category of high risk," said Dr. LaPook on the CBS Evening News.

How could the CDC not consider Vinson to be high risk, knowing that she'd had close contact with a man who just days ago died of Ebola -- and one of her own co-workers had also contracted the virus? It makes us wonder just how incompetent the CDC actually is. The CDC is now trying to contact all of the passengers who flew with Vinson on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on Monday evening.

Fine, but why did the CDC let Vinson travel out of Dallas in the first place? Should she, and her coworkers at the Dallas hospital, have been told to not travel and been monitored during the 21-day Ebola incubation period just in case they did become infected? Which, of course, at least two did. Nina Pham, another nurse at the Dallas hospital, is currently being treated for Ebola after helping care for Duncan.

"While in Ohio," reports CBS, "Vinson visited relatives, who are employees at Kent State University.  The university is now asking Vinson’s three relatives stay off campus and self-monitor per CDC protocol for the next 21 days out of an 'abundance of caution'."

If the CDC had followed it's own  protocol, they would not now be frantically hunting down the potentially hundreds of people (the 132 on Flight 1143 plus those in airport terminals, etc.) who came in contact with Vinson  while she had a "slight fever." The CDC official displayed anything but an abundance of caution. For that matter, Nurse Vinson acted recklessly as a healthcare professional who should have acted more responsibly.

Click to enlarge
About that fever: It's a symptom of infection. The CDC official should have told Vinson to report to the nearest suitable hospital for isolation and observation. The media, in their usual, sloppy way, are reporting that Vinson boarded Frontier flight 1143 "before she became symptomatic" even as they note her fever. But fever is a symptom, so she was already symptomatic on Monday when she boarded the plane in Ohio.

NBC News reports that the CDC staffer who spoke with Vinson "looked on the agency's website for guidance," according to a spokesperson. "The category for 'uncertain risk' had guidance saying that a person could fly commercially if they did not meet the threshold of a temperature of 100.4." The spokesperson also told NBC that, "These two nurses who are infected as well as the others who cared for Duncan but were wearing protective gear — a lot of them are falling into the category of 'uncertain risk'", the spokesperson said. "She represents uncharted water for us ... She did not fall into a clear category." 

Say what? "Uncertain risk?" Not a "clear category?" A nurse, who just days ago was caring for a man dying of Ebola, projectile vomiting and highly contagious says she has a fever, but THAT'S not a "clear category?" "Medical records provided to The Associated Press by Duncan's family show Vinson inserted catheters, drew blood, and dealt with Duncan's body fluids before he died last week," says WLTX Atlanta. "It's not clear how she contracted the virus."

The Director of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden, said that Vinson should not have gotten on Flight 1143. CNN reports that he said, "The CDC guidance in this setting outlines the need for what is called controlled movement. That can include a charter plane, a car, but it does not include public transport," and, "We will from this moment forward ensure that no other individual who is being monitored for exposure undergoes travel in any way other than controlled movement."

A suggestion for Dr. Frieden: From this moment forward, please ensure that your staff -- and every damned hospital in America -- understands those guidelines. Frieden on Wednesday said because she had been exposed to the virus and had a low fever, she shouldn’t have boarded the flight. "So by both of those criteria, she should not have been on that plane," he said. True, but by other criteria all CDC staffers should have known this before Amber Vinson was given permission to get on that plane.  

CDC news conference, October 12, 2014

But here's the real kicker: Frieden himself is somewhat guilty of incompetence. On Sunday, the day before feverish Amber Vinson got CDC permission to fly on a commercial flight, Frieden said that the CDC "is deeply concerned" to learn that "a breach in protocol" at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas resulted in nurse Nina Pham becoming sick with Ebola. Frieden referred to "a breach in protocol," but it seems there were multiple breaches at Presbyterian.

"At some point, there was a breach in protocol," Dr. Frieden said at an Atlanta press conference on Monday. "And that breach in protocol resulted in [Nina Pham's] infection." Yes, Dr. Frieden, and your breaches have resulted in another infected nurse from that hospital getting on a plane with 132 passengers. "It is possible that other individuals were exposed," Frieden said. That was Monday. Amber Vinson flew on Monday evening. (Watch the full Oct. 12 Frieden CDC press conference.)

Knowing that the Dallas hospital violated protocol, why did Frieden not make certain that all CDC staff were up to speed on that protocol? Why did CDC not immediately track down and isolate all 50 people who known to have had contact with Duncan from the time of his first ER visit and while he was symptomatic. "There were seven other patients in the ER at Presbyterian Hospital when Duncan was first examined that are now under observation," reports "Normal hygiene and good fortune may have prevented any of these people from contracting Ebola."

Amber Vinson was flown from Dallas to Atlanta on Wednesday evening for treatment at Emory University Hospital. Pray for Vinson that the staff at Emory is more competent than the fools at Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas, which should probably be renamed "Texas Breaches of Protocol." While we're at it, let's rename the CDC the "Competence Deficiency Center."

Also See:
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Second Ebola Case In Dallas: Nurse Who Wore Full Protective Gear

Oct 12, 2014 | 10:47 AM

October 12, 2014 - Another case of Ebola in the US: The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that an unidentified nurse who helped care for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national who died of Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas last Wednesday, has tested positive for the virus in a preliminary test in Austin, which will be double-checked by the Centers for Disease Control.

UPDATE, October 16, 2014: CDC official told feverish Ebola nurse Amber Vinson that she could take a commercial flight from Cleveland to she did.

A report by The Verge says that a hospital official said the nurse was "following full CDC precautions," including a mask, gloves, gown, and face shield while caring for Duncan when he arrived at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital's emergency room on September 28th. At a press conference in Atlanta this morning, CDC director Tom Frieden said that "clearly, there was a breach in protocol," adding that the agency will "undertake a thorough investigation to understand how this may have happened." 

"The newly diagnosed patient was one of the nurses involved in his treatment," reports ArsTechnica. "According to the BBC, the nurse wore standard protective gear during the treatment: gown, gloves, respiratory mask, and face shield. Nevertheless, the individual began experiencing a low-grade fever, and checked into the same hospital where he or she works; the patient has been kept in isolation since. Authorities are currently preventing anyone from entering the individual's apartment pending a decontamination."
“We knew a second case could be a reality, and we’ve been preparing for this possibility.”

A news release this morning from the Texas Department of State Health Services states the following:

A health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who provided care for the Ebola patient hospitalized there has tested positive for Ebola in a preliminary test at the state public health laboratory in Austin. Confirmatory testing will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The health care worker reported a low grade fever Friday night and was isolated and referred for testing. The preliminary ​test result was received late Saturday.

"We knew a second case could be a reality, and we've been preparing for this possibility," said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. "We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread."

Health officials have interviewed the patient and are identifying any contacts or potential exposures. People who had contact with the health care worker after symptoms emerged will be monitored based on the nature of their interactions and the potential they were exposed to the virus.

"Federal and state health officials have been tracking 48 people identified as having close or possible contact with Mr. Duncan," adds WSJ. "The number included at least seven health-care workers who had close contact with him. It wasn’t immediately clear if the ill health-care worker was one of those seven."
Also See:
Ebola: Health care worker tests positive at Texas hospital BBC News
U.S. lacks a single standard for Ebola response USA Today
Ebola screening starts at New York's JFK airport  Reuters
Congressmen Call For Enhanced Ebola Screening At Texas Airports CBS-DFW
Majority of Americans Want Flights Banned From Ebola Countries: Survey NBC News
Ebola virus is 'mutating rapidly', experts warn Daily Mail UK
Exposing the five myths about Ebola Gulf News
10:47 AM | 0 comments | Read More


Sep 30, 2014 | 10:24 PM

September 30, 2014 - The worst Ebola outbreak in recorded history has officially killed more than 3,000 people in several African nations since it erupted six months ago in Guinea. Today it was confirmed that a patient with Ebola is being treated in isolation at a Dallas, Texas hospital.  The adult male entered the U.S. from Liberia 10 days ago, then checked into a hospital on Sept. 26. In a frightening turn of events, the man was sent home and not admitted until Sept. 28.  In addition, reports CBS Dallas, "the EMS crew and ambulance that was used to transport a patient now confirmed to have the Ebola virus in Dallas has been isolated."

From Fox News (emphasis added):
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed on Tuesday that a patient being treated at a Dallas hospital has tested positive for Ebola, the first case diagnosed in the United States.

The patient left Liberia on September 19 and arrived in the United States on September 20, CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters at a press conference Tuesday. It’s the first patient to be diagnosed with this particular strain of Ebola outside of Africa.

“[The patient] had no symptoms when departing Liberia or entering this country. But four or five days later on the 24th of September, he began to develop symptoms,” said Frieden.

Ebola virus
The patient, visiting family in Texas, initially sought care on September 26, but was sent home and was not admitted until two days later. He was placed in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, where he remains critically ill, according to Frieden.

“The next steps are basically threefold,” said Frieden.  “First, to care for the patient … to provide the most effective care possible as safely as possible to keep to an absolute minimum the likelihood or possibility that anyone would become affected, and second, to maximize the chances that the patient might recover,” said Frieden.

Frieden said the CDC and Texas health officials were working to identify and monitor anyone who may have come in contact with the patient.

“It's only someone who's sick with Ebola who can spread the disease,” said Frieden. “ Once those contacts are all identified, they're all monitored for 21 days after exposure to see if they develop a fever.”

CDC's 2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa - Outbreak Distribution Map
2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa Distribution Map
Source: Centers for Disease Control
Ebola FAQs: Early this evening, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital's parent company tweeted that they had posted a "Frequently Asked Questions about Ebola Virus" page on their website.

"The current Ebola epidemic is the largest, most severe and most complex outbreak of the disease in the history of the virus," write Kaisa Stucke and Bill O'Grady in a must-read article.

"More cases have been diagnosed and more people have died than in all the prior outbreaks combined....The countries that are most affected by the virus are Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, but Nigeria and Senegal have also experienced cases. Liberia has been the hardest hit, with more than half the fatalities occurring in this country."

Excerpts from Fox News:
  • [Dr.] Frieden added that while it is possible that someone who had contact with the patient could develop Ebola in the coming weeks, he has no doubt the infection will be contained. At this point, he said, there is zero risk of transmission to anyone on the flight with the patient because he was not showing any symptoms at the time of travel.
  • Dr. Edward Goodman, epidemiologist at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas said the hospital has had a plan in place for some time now in the event that a traveler brought Ebola to the United States, noting that the team had a crisis preparedness meeting a week before the patient arrived at their facility.
  • Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas officials said in a statement Monday that an unnamed patient was being tested for Ebola and had been placed in "strict isolation" due to the patient's symptoms and recent travel history, and that the facility was taking measures to keep its doctors, staff and patients safe....
  • People boarding planes in the outbreak zone are checked for fever, but symptoms can begin up to 21 days after exposure. Ebola isn't contagious until symptoms begin, and it takes close contact with bodily fluids to spread.

As the Ebola outbreak grew more rapidly than expected last summer, U.S. health officials began preparing "for the possibility that an individual traveler could unknowingly arrive with the infection. Health authorities have advised hospitals on how to prevent the virus from spreading within their facilities," reports ABC7 Chicago. "People boarding planes in the outbreak zone are checked for fever, but that does not guarantee that an infected person won't get through. Ebola is not contagious until symptoms begin, and it takes close contact with bodily fluids to spread."

The Centers for Disease Control calls this the "first imported case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States." CDC notes that over the past 10 years "the United States had 5 imported cases of Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) diseases similar to Ebola (1 Marburg, 4 Lassa). None resulted in any transmission in the United States."

Also See:
10:24 PM | 0 comments | Read More

Videos Show How To Annihilate Your iPhone 6

Sep 24, 2014 | 5:10 PM

September 24, 2014 - Has your iPhone 6 bent yet? If so, you should consider totally destroying Apple's new, flimsy smartphone. Don't get mad, get even. Here are several creative ways to annihilate your iPhone 6. A dip in liquid nitrogen, shoot it with a 50-caliber bullet, or burn it up with thermite, or throw it into a blender. The videos below, by YouTuber RatedRR, will give you some ideas and, we hope, relieve some of your iPhone 6 buyer's remorse.

Also See:
iPhone 6 receives its own ‘bend test,’ is ‘far more durable’ than iPhone 6 Plus iPhone Hacks
5:10 PM | 0 comments | Read More

Apple's Unintentionally Bendable iPhone 6

Unbox Therapy: Bending Apples on YouTube
September 24, 2014 - Apple's new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are prone to bending and even cracking, according to numerous reports and experimentation.

"The latest ultra-slim iPhone 6 can be warped as some owners are finding out after carrying the sleek aluminum phones in their pants pockets. Apple reports selling 10 million new phones in the three days since the devices debuted last Friday," reports New York Daily News. "

It's not just a rumor, and #BendGate is a hot topic on Twitter.

"#Bendgate is the predictable term that has flooded social media over the last 24 hours," reports Forbes today. "It comes after a video from Unbox Therapy [left] went viral after demonstrating that it was relatively easy to bend the iPhone 6 Plus. The video itself was a response to scattered reports of the iPhone 6 Plus bending in owners’ front and back pockets."

"This started a flame war between Apple fans and haters," continued Forbes, "and a number of defences were written including ‘Duh: Of Course the iPhone 6 Plus Can Bend in Your Pocket’ on Wired. Unbox Therapy then poured petrol on these flames with a second video (below) showing not only that trying to straighten a bent iPhone 6 Plus can shatter the screen, but that under the same tests a Galaxy Note 3 was fine."

Some, including Apple, have tried to blame tight jeans for the bending. Engadget points out that it's really "an issue of building materials."  Both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have an aluminum chassis "spread over a wider area than any previous iPhone" and "with enough pressure and leverage, it's going to bend, and some owners reported similar issues with the iPhone 5"

If your new iPhone 6 has already bent or cracked, you might want to just destroy it completely. Think of the emotional satisfaction you'll get. See  "Videos Show How To Annihilate Your iPhone 6."

Also See:
Even BlackBerry is making fun of the bendable iPhone 6 CNET
Samsung acts on Apple threat, launches Galaxy Note 4 earlier GMSArena
iPhone 6 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 3: Aesthetics and design CNET
iPhone 6 receives its own ‘bend test,’ is ‘far more durable’ than iPhone 6 Plus iPhone Hacks
5:08 PM | 0 comments | Read More

Egypt Getting 10 Boeing Apache AH-64 Helicopters

Sep 22, 2014 | 5:49 PM

Apache AH-64 Helicopter - Photo: Boeing
Sept. 22, 2014 - The long-delayed delivery of Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to Egypt will finally happen. The Apaches are intended to help Egypt's anti-terror efforts in the Sinai.

"The United States has reaffirmed its commitment to supply Egypt with 10 Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters that have been withheld since the military took control of the country in July 2013," reported IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has asked the U.S. for assistance in its fight against Islamist terror groups. In May, Sisi told Reuters, "The Egyptian army is undertaking major operations in the Sinai so it is not transformed into a base for terrorism that will threaten its neighbors and make Egypt unstable. If Egypt is unstable then the entire region is unstable."

Islamic State "called on insurgents in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Monday to press ahead with attacks against Egyptian security forces and continue beheadings," reports Jerusalem Post today.  An ISIS spokesman, in an online statement, said, "Rig the roads with explosives for them. Attack their bases. Raid their homes. Cut off their heads. Do not let them feel secure."

Also See:
US approves Apache deal and military cooperation with Egypt Daily News Egypt
US military aid to Egypt again halted; C295 deliveries continue (May 2014) IHS Jane's Defence
Egypt seeking Russian arms after US aid cut (Nov 2013) IHS Jane's Defence
Islamic State takes aim at Egypt through Sinai terror group Jerusalem Post
US DLA awards long-term logistics support contract to Boeing AirForce Technology
5:49 PM | 0 comments | Read More


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