Forest camouflage? In Afghanistan?

The U.S. government’s leading oversight authority for Afghanistan reconstruction said there is a criminal investigation into the $28 million boondoggle for forest camouflage for the Afghan army.  Yes, you heard that right, forest camo for the Afghan army.

John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR), said he opened the investigation after the Pentagon was found to have spent more than $93 million in taxpayer dollars on Afghan National Army (ANA) uniforms that used a forest camouflage pattern, despite the country’s scarcity of forests.

“This $93 million procurement demonstrates what happens when people in the government don’t follow the rules”

No shit… The Pentagon bought the 1.3 million uniforms though the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan over 10 years “without testing its effectiveness and costing up to $28 million more than needed,” Sopko said.  The SIGAR report findings, released in June, was widely panned as a major misuse of taxpayer dollars. Even Defense Secretary Jim Mattis weighed in last week, condemning the alleged waste as “cavalier” spending in a memo to Pentagon officials.

Sopko recommended fixes to the Pentagon’s personnel system, saying that such wasteful spending continues to occur because of lack of accountability and is made all the more difficult due to annual rotation requirements.

“They’re never held accountable for their screw up because they’re not around when the screw up is discovered by us,” he said. “By the time we get there – it’s like the detective show you see on TV, if we’re lucky there’s a chalk outline of the body, but usually it’s seven years old.”

Friends, take a minute and let the CSTC-A Leadership know your thoughts on the matter… Unbelievable…

SOURCE – TheHill.com

Quantum-Proof Blockchains?

Researchers in Russia say they’ve developed and tested the world’s first blockchain that won’t be vulnerable to encryption-breaking attacks from future quantum computers.  This technique could be a means of protecting fast-growing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum which are safe from today’s code-breaking methods, but could be exposed by tomorrow’s vastly more powerful quantum machines.  A team from the Russian Quantum Centre in Moscow says its quantum blockchain technology has been successfully tested with one of Russia’s largest banks, Gazprombank, and could be used as a proof of concept to underpin secure data encryption and storage methods in the future.

Blockchain what?

Blockchain is a publicly accessible, decentralized ledger of recorded information, spread across multiple computers on the internet.  This kind of distributed database is the underlying technology that makes Bitcoin possible where it maintains a list of time-stamped digital transactions that can be viewed by anyone on the platform.  The idea is that the blockchain frees users on the network from needing any kind of middleman or central authority to regulate transactions or exchanges of information.  Because all interactions are recorded in the distributed ledger, the blockchain makes everything a matter of public record, which, when it comes to Bitcoin, is what ensures that transactions are legitimate, and that units of the currency aren’t duplicated.  Check out the video below…

But there’s a problem…

When a computer conducts a transaction, the system uses digital signatures for authentication purposes and while that protection layer may offer strong enough encryption to secure those exchanges today, they won’t be able to withstand quantum computers.

“In our quantum-secure blockchain setup, we get rid of digital signatures altogether.  Instead, we utilize quantum cryptography for authentication…”

Quantum cryptography depends on entangled particles to work, and the researchers’ system used what’s called quantum key distribution, which the researchers say makes it possible to make sure nobody’s eavesdropping on private communications.

SOURCE: Sciencealert.com

California Democrats Prefer Criminals Over Legal Gun Owners…

In a move that absolutely defies the slightest semblance of logic, the Democrat controlled California State Senate passed a measure that will lower the sentences for felons who used a gun in the commission of their crimes.  Yes, you read that right.  They are reducing sentences for criminals using guns.  These are the very same Democrats that constantly create and pass stricter and stricter gun control laws, and who constantly scream, cry and whine about how guns are bad.

Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) said he introduced the bill after a 17-year-old riding in a car involved in a drive-by shooting was sentenced to 25 years in prison even though he denied shooting the gun.

A criminal denied committing the crime for which they are in prison?  Is this moron serious?  Prisons are filled with people who “didn’t do it.” The bill, SB 620, passed based solely on Democrat votes.  Not a single Republican voted for it, and even some Democrats were not stupid enough to pass this ridiculous bill.  This bill just furthers California’s continued (idiotic) approach of going soft on crime, which started with AB 109, followed by Prop 47, and most recently topped off with Prop 57.

SOURCE – DailyCaller.com

Chinese diamond experiment may help crack one of the world’s toughest codes…

An experiment in China using diamonds has put quantum code-breaking a step closer to reality, threatening to one day break the digital encryption technologies that safeguard banks, governments and the military.  In their experiment, quantum physicists in Hefei, Anhui province, reportedly broke down the number 35 into its factors – the numbers five and seven – on a new type of quantum computing device built inside a diamond.

The process, known as factorization, is the key to cracking the most popular digital algorithm used in encryption today.  The research was led by quantum physicist Professor Du Jiangfeng at the University of Science and Technology of China, and details of the results were published in the journal Physical Review Letters in March 2017.

The popular RSA algorithm, developed by Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adleman in the 1970s, uses the product of two large prime numbers to encrypt a message.  Only people who know the two prime numbers can decode the message, because it is practically impossible to factor the product of two prime numbers when they were sufficiently large.  An enormous amount of digital computing power and thousands of years would be needed to determine the prime numbers used in the RSA system.  But, in theory, a quantum computer could break a RSA code in the blink of an eye.

Professor Duan Changkui, another researcher involved in the experiment, said many technical challenges had to be overcome before the device could be used to break a code. These problems ranged from precise control of particles to better diamonds.

“The artificial diamonds must be extremely pure, and their nitrogen-vacancy centres perfectly aligned. The manufacturing process is very difficult,” he said.  “It is not easy to predict when the first practical machine could be built.”  But cryptographers were bracing for a battle…

RSA is just one type of algorithm. There are other mathematical methods of encryption that cannot be decoded by large-number factorization (like OTPSME), and these will be the second or third line of defense…

SOURCE: South China Morning Post

Scientists Store One Bit of Data on a Single Atom…

Friends, file this one under “Wow”.  IBM researchers just discovered a way to store data on a single atom.   Data storage is undergoing dramatic evolution, recently researchers successfully stored digital data — an entire operating system, a movie, an Amazon gift card, a study and a computer virus — in strands of DNA.

The IBM researchers have developed the world’s smallest magnet using a single atom and they packed it with one bit of digital data.  Currently, hard drives use about 100,000 atoms to store a single bit of information — a 1 or 0 — using traditional methods.   So, this breakthrough could allow people to store 1,000 times more information in the same amount of space in the future applications.

The discovery, which was described in the journal Nature, builds on 35 years of nanotechnology history at IBM, including their Nobel prize-winning scanning tunneling microscope (STM) that was used to build the atomic hard drive.  The scientists used a single atom of the rare earth element holmium and carefully placed it on a surface of magnesium oxide, which makes its north and south poles hold in a stable direction. The two stable magnetic orientations define the 1 and 0 of the bit.   The researchers then used a very accurate, sharp, and small, needle to pass an electrical current through the holmium atoms that flips its north and south poles, thus replicating the process of writing binary data (1s and 0s) to a traditional magnetic hard drive.

SOURCE: The Hacker News

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