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This is a fascinating story about the life of a reporter who was able to unmask British eavesdropping spies and in turn was the first journalist to ever write about the NSA ECHELON program:

Newsham explained that ECHELON was an automated computer-driven system for sifting and sorting all types of international civilian communications intercepted from satellites — mainly operated by U.S. companies.

The scale of the operation she described took my breath away (this was 1988, remember). The NSA and its partners had arranged for everything we communicated to be grabbed and potentially analyzed. ECHELON was at the heart of a massive, billion-dollar expansion of global electronic surveillance for the 21st century, she explained. She feared the scale of automated surveillance. “Its immensity almost defies comprehension. … It is important for the truth to come out,” she said. “I don’t believe we should put up with being controlled by Big Brother.”

While sitting inside Building 36D at Menwith Hill Station, Newsham had been invited to listen on headphones to a live call from inside the U.S. Senate. She recognized the voice of Republican Sen. Strom Thurmond, and immediately realized the NSA had gone off track. “Constitutional laws had been broken,” she told me.

She explained how she had provided evidence to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Investigators told her they had issued subpoenas, and had asked to see plans for ECHELON. But nothing had happened.

She handed me some of the plans for ECHELON. In technical jargon, one described a basic tool kit for surveillance — the “commonality of automated data processing equipment (ADPE) in the ECHELON system.” Others described the ECHELON “Dictionary” database, the heart of the system holding target groups of keywords. “Dictionary” ran on networks of mini-computers. Newsham had managed these networks. Some plans listed equipment she had helped deploy for a secret project code-named “CARBOY II.” She did not know where CARBOY was.

I am always fascinated by intriguing Japanese history like this where a secret Japanese Navy bunker in Yokohama gives a glimpse of the finals days of WWII.

Construction of the underground tunnels began in July 1944, mobilizing troops and Korean forced laborers. A room for the chief commander, Adm. Soemu Toyota, and key departments were up and running in a few months.

Only in the chief commander’s room, cement on the walls was smoothed out, the floor was covered with tatami mats and there was a door. He climbed up and down 126 stairs between the two command centers — above and below ground. His room was slightly elevated so that the floor remained dry, and there was even a flush toilet.

The tunnel command center also had ventilation ducts, a battery room, food storage with ample stock of sake, in addition to deciphering and cable and communications departments. Marks on the ceiling remain from where overhead lights hung. The tunnels housing the command center and its facilities under the campus are 30 meters underground and stretch about 2.6 km in length.

The conditions for those leading the war contrasted with those of ordinary people, who hid in small mud shelters as firebombs rained down from the sky, Akuzawa said.

Hisanao Oshima, who was there from February to May 1945 as a communications crew monitoring Morse code, still cannot forget the moments when he lost signals from kamikaze fighters. “The sound stops, and that means he crashed. I just cannot get that out of my head,” he said in an interview with NHK.

It is really neat for this to exist so close to where I live. If a chance to take a tour of these tunnels ever came up I would surely jump on it in a heartbeat.

I know there is an entire network of underground military tunnels running all over the Kanagawa-to-Tokyo area. Tunnels can be entered in Yokosuka Naval Base and drives all the way up to multiple locations in Yokohama and other Kanagawa bases as well, such as Camp Zama, Atsugi, Yokohama North Dock, and more. While I am sure they are insect and rat infested to disturbing levels, it would be a fascinating underground – literally – look at some Japanese history we rarely read or hear about.

ValueWalk on case studies about cyber attacks, security, and terrorism has a very simple yet educational breakdown of the nuances between cyber crime and cyber war:

It is important to differentiate between organized cyber crime and cyber war. Organized cyber crime’s goal is financial gain for the hacker, either directly through illegally transferring funds or by turning the victim’s computer into a “zombie machine,” which is then used in other cyber attacks. On the other hand, cyber war’s main goal is to gain control and intimidate the target, with the target being a sovereign country’s public or private information system. Cyber terrorism is defined as the politically motivated use of computers and information technology to cause severe disruption or widespread fear.

Cyber attacks allow for small groups to have a disproportionate ability to cause damage on a large scale as even a single skilled hacker could cause serious damage. Additionally, cyber attacks are so inexpensive and hard to track that they’re likely to be used frequently, either in conjunction with conventional warfare or independently. Organizing a cyber attack is becoming increasingly easier as hackers often share corrupted codes over internet chat rooms.

The discussion on Estonia and Georgia are good reminders of the early days of nation state sponsored cyber attacks.

The Daily Beast on the double-standard of America completely ignoring Christian terrorist threats to massacre Muslims, especially the twenty-four hour news cycle and the good ole American media:

Have you heard about the Christian terrorist Robert Doggart, who was plotting a violent attack against a Muslim-American community in New York state? Probably not, because as opposed to when U.S. law enforcement officials arrest a Muslim for planning a violent assault, they didn’t send out a press release or hold a press conference publicizing Doggart’s arrest.

So let me tell you about Doggart and his deadly plan to use guns and even a machete to attack American Muslims in upstate New York. Doggart, a 63-year-old Tennessee resident, is an ordained Christian minister in the Christian National Church. In 2014, he unsuccessfully ran for Congress as an independent, espousing far right-wing views.

But don’t dismiss Doggart as some crazed wingnut howling at the moon. He served in the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, worked for 40 years in the electrical generation business, has a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from La Salle University, and claimed he had nine “committed” men working with him to carry out this attack.

Doggart may be highly educated and very intelligent but he is also extremely dangerous:

Doggart came to the FBI’s attention via postings on social media and a confidential informant. Why attack these Muslims? Doggart’s own words highlight his motive being grounded in at least partially in his view of Christianity:“Our small group will soon be faced with the fight of our lives. We will offer those lives as collateral to prove our commitment to our God.” Doggart continued, “We shall be Warriors who inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our Nation and World Peace.”

Doggart, who was also recorded via wiretaps speaking to militia members in Texas and South Carolina, didn’t mince words about his plans for the Muslims of Islamberg: “We will be cruel to them. And we will burn down their buildings [Referring to their mosque and school.] …and if anybody attempts to harm us in any way… we will take them down.”

He also detailed the weapons he would use in the attack, including an M-4 military assault rifle, armor-piercing ammunition, explosives, pistols, and a machete, because “If it gets down to the machete, we will cut them to shreds.”

Doggart expressed a hope that he would survive the terror attack, but explained, “I understand that if it’s necessary to die [in this attack] then that’s a good way to die.”

So how come nobody seems to know about this jackass, yet we hear about every little [fake] Muslim terror plot in the United States?

One big reason for the lack of media coverage was that neither the FBI nor the U.S. Attorney’s Office put out a press release about Doggart’s arrest. In contrast, the FBI office in Knoxville, the one that handled this investigation, has posted press releases for numerous other recent arrests, such as for drug crimes and robbery charges. (My calls to the FBI about this issue have not been returned.)

However, when a Muslim is arrested in a sting-type operation, as we saw recently in Brooklyn, the FBI touts that arrest to the media with a detailed press release. We have also seen U.S. attorneys hold press conferences to announce the arrest of Muslims, as we witnessed recently with the six Minnesota men charged withplanning to join ISIS. But not here.

In fact, this incident would have likely been ignored but for the local Islamberg community reaching out to the media. They even posted a powerful photograph on social media of the children of the town sitting under a big banner that asked: “Why do you want to kill us Robert Doggart?”

But here’s the reality: This will likely not be the last time we hear about a planned attack on Muslim Americans by right-wing groups. Alarmingly, a recent poll found 55 percent of Americans hold anti-Muslim views, the highest numbers ever recorded.

It is time America started giving Muslims the same type of comfort everyone else in America receives. America keeps repeating this idiotic cycle of hatred before it finally realizes the errors of its ways. If you stop to take a look you will realize how despicable America has been towards people, especially when you consider why America was founded in the first place. It all started with American slavery, then it was women’s suffrage, then it was African American civil rights, we are in the middle of the gay rights movement, and the next fight will surely Muslim civil rights. This is merely a quick summary so I am leaving out a few other movements, but the point remains the same.

Why does America always have to single out a specific group and attack them? Why is it so difficult for us to remember our past and learn from those mistakes, and realize we cannot keep repeating the same cycle of hatred over and over?

I thought this entire article explaining how Roppongi Hills is a controversial blueprint for Tokyo’s new breed of high-rise was quite interesting. The following passage was especially enlightening:

The Roppongi neighbourhood is in the heart of the Yamanote, an area of the city centre ringed by the railway line – what Tokyo historian Edward Seidensticker called the “high city”, where the “proper people” lived. Except that Roppongi wasn’t considered proper. During the pre-modern era and blessed with abundant ground water, the area was populated by samurai warriors who supplemented their measly sinecures by raising goldfish. The tradition continued: the first head of the Roppongi Hills residents’ association, Tamotsu Hara, used to breed goldfish himself before his house was condemned and he moved to a comfortable corner unit on the 41st floor.

Before the war, Roppongi was home to the Japanese military; afterwards, the Americans used it for a base that outlasted the occupation. By the high-powered 1980s it had became Tokyo’s designated exotic demimonde, famous for bars and discos frequented by foreign residents and servicemen on the prowl. It was never as respectable as the nearby neighbourhoods, but it was on the edge of the commercial district that Minoru Mori’s family was quickly filling up with tall office buildings. In 1986, he gained permission from the Tokyo prefectural government to redevelop Roppongi, the biggest such project in the city’s history.

I had no idea Roppongi used to be a military town, especially with a base, but it sure explains why it has had such a lasting impression on foreigners in Tokyo.

What has been recently built in Futako-Tamagawa – the Rise shopping center and apartment complexes in particular – seems to have taken a lot of inspiration from Roppongi Hills.