More like undead.

by baldilocks

The NSA got the Coconut Treatment.

From Business Insider:

The National Security Agency, the US’s largest and most secretive intelligence agency, has been deeply infiltrated by anonymous hackers, as detailed in a New York Times exposé published Sunday.

The NSA, which compiles massive troves of data on US citizens and organizes cyberoffensives against the US’s enemies, was deeply compromised by a group known as the Shadow Brokers, which has made headlines in the past year in connection to the breach, whose source remains unclear.

The group now posts cryptic, mocking messages pointed toward the NSA as it sells the cyberweapons, created at huge cost to US taxpayers, to any and all buyers, including US adversaries like North Korea and Russia.

“It’s a disaster on multiple levels,” Jake Williams, a cybersecurity expert who formerly worked on the NSA’s hacking group, told The Times. “It’s embarrassing that the people responsible for this have not been brought to justice.”

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a former USAF linguist. I have many longtime friends and acquaintances from that profession who have worked for what used to be sweetly called No Such Agency – as if people didn’t see NSA analysts arriving to work every day.

Many of these friends are liberals and, of that number, a significant portion rabidly and vocally despise Donald Trump, and that’s fair. But I never see them offer an opinion on this sort of thing, all of which happened during the Obama Administration and under another rabid anti-Trump personality, former DNI James Clapper. They won’t even share these types of links. Surely they read the NYT.

I realize that some of my friends are unable to legally comment on such things, but you would think that more of them would have been anti-Obama during the past eight years. But they seem to love him. Strange.

(Thanks to Richard Fernandez)

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

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My opposition to the new tax bill is selfish. It’s gonna cost me money!

As a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I live in one of the bluest cities in one of the bluer states in the country. I pay city and state taxes—both of which will no longer be deductible under the proposals.

I understand the argument that the tax bill is intended to hold the line on exorbitant government budgets. But Philadelphia and Pennsylvania are not known for their penny-pinching, and the proposed tax bill is unlikely to change that.

Keep in mind, however, that Pennsylvania voted for Trump, and it’s unlikely that I am the only one who voted for the Republicans in 2016 and will lose money.

It’s a risky scenario given the fact that Pennsylvania hadn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate in decades. Moreover, the margin of victory was only 44,000 votes out of six million cast.

Congress should look at allowing a standardized amount that people should be able to deduct for state and local income taxes—say $5,000 across the board.

Sure, the increase of the exemption for a married couple from $12,700 to $24,000 will help but not enough to swing the tax bill is my favor.

There’s more. The cap on the real estate tax exemption at $10,000 will help me but not the many Republicans in the suburbs who pay much higher taxes than I do in the city.

And there’s more. The elimination of the deductions for charitable contributions will hit my wife and me. I doubt it will cause us to give less. But it does mean we will face higher taxes here, too. The elimination of the tax credit for adoptions makes no sense to me, particularly when it probably saved the lives of some potential victims of abortion.

It appears that my deductions for my home office will disappear. I’ve had outside income for more than 20 years and have reduced the tax exposure with my expenses at home. The tax bill means that I will be unable to deduct some of the costs I spend to do research in China, which I have done over the past three years.

I understand that the GOP needs a win, and I’d be willing to help finance a bit of that. At the moment, however, the cost is simply too steep, probably in the neighborhood of several thousand dollars. Since I don’t think I’m alone in my economic and political quandary, Congress and the president need to come up with some changes to make the tax bill more palatable. Otherwise, I am afraid the plan will lose more votes than gain them.

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