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Monday, March 31, 2014


Pillar to Post image creative by Ivan Brafford, Carlsbad, CA.
Editor’s note:  This article was reposted from its original source: New America Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy think tank that shares its editorial with the blogging community with proper credit.

GUEST BLOGBy Shane Harris at New America Foundation--This week, the Obama administration unveiled its plans to put an end to the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of millions of Americans phone records. That’s a first step towards shutting down the most controversial of all the NSA programs revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden. While important details remain to be ironed out, and the plan still needs to be reconciled with a proposed bill in the House of Representatives, it now seems all but certain that the NSA will have to go to phone companies and ask for access to Americans’ data, rather than hold onto the records itself.

Settling that thorny issue may come as welcome news for Adm. Michael Rogers, whom President Barack Obama tapped in January to be the next director of the NSA and the next commander of U.S. Cyber Command, two of the most prominent and powerful positions in all of American intelligence. It wasn’t a surprise pick.

Indeed, Rogers had been groomed to become the next head of the NSA, the nation’s largest intelligence agency and its primary gatherer of signals intelligence–phone calls, emails, and other electronic communications. The Chicago native was already the head of signals intelligence for the Navy, and in his 30-year military career has worked in that field as well as cryptology, the other pillar of the NSA’s mission.

It will fall to Rogers to restore the agency’s credibility and manage the stream of leaks that shows no signs of abating.

But Rogers is also in charge of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, the Navy’s cyber defense and warfare group. As such, he is both the Navy’s chief electronic spy and its top cyber warrior. That made him rarely suited among senior military officers to take over from Army Gen. Keith Alexander, who currently serves as both the NSA director and the head of Cyber Command. Both organizations work in tandem to penetrate foreign computer systems, steal information, and lay the groundwork for cyber attacks, which only the president, or, in rare cases, the secretary of defense, can authorize. They also work to protect U.S. computer systems from penetration by foreign governments and hackers.

Numerous experts, including President Obama’s own NSA review panel which was established to investigate programs revealed Snowden, have recommended that the NSA and Cyber Command be run by different people, arguing that this “dual-hatted” position gives too much power and authority to one person. Alexander became the first Cyber Command chief in 2010, after he’d been running the NSA for five years. Supporters for keeping the two positions linked say Cyber Command needs the NSA’s manpower – more than 30,000 employees worldwide – and its technical expertise in defending computer networks and launching computer attacks.

To make both organizations work smoothly together, they need a single leader. That argument won out, and Obama rejected calls to have the NSA and Cyber Command run by separate people. If Cyber Command matures in the next few years and builds up enough staff and expertise to stand on its own, Rogers may be the last person to serve in both roles. But for now, he wears both hats, and will arguably be the most influential and important intelligence official in the U.S. government once he is confirmed.

Rogers’ confirmation is all but guaranteed. But prior to the hearing held earlier this month, the big unanswered question was how he would navigate the tricky political waters in which the NSA finds itself now. The agency has never faced such intense public scrutiny or criticism of its normally secret activities. It will fall to Rogers to restore the agency’s credibility and manage the stream of leaks that shows no signs of abating. He will have some help in that regard from his new deputy director, Rick Ledgett, an NSA veteran who most recently led the agency’s task force investigating the Snowden leaks and assessing what damage they may have caused.

For now, [Rogers] wears both hats, and will arguably be the most influential and important intelligence official in the U.S. government once he is confirmed.
“The United States government … still [has] no idea what documents were provided to the journalists, what they have, what they don’t have,” Rogers told senators, striking a cautious, somewhat non-committal tone. Snowden’s disclosures have given U.S. adversaries “greater insights into what we [the U.S. military and intelligence agencies] do and how we did it,” Rogers said. But he didn’t say how or what particular operations had been compromised. And asked whether he considered Snowden a “traitor,” Rogers sidestepped. “I don’t know that I would use the word ‘traitor,’ but I do not consider him a hero.

Rogers held his own in the hearing, and at least partly answered the question of whether he’s up for the political challenge of running the NSA in the affirmative. But there are still big operational challenges to come. Assuming Rogers is confirmed soon, it will fall to him to manage the plan for reforming the phone records program. He’ll also have to work hard to repair the agency’s relationship with U.S. technology companies and foreign governments, who have protested NSA’s spying on foreign leaders. There’s a cost to the revelations, both in terms of lost business and damaged reputations for the companies, and diplomatic strains with allies. Rogers can’t fix those problems on his own, but if he can defend the agency at the same time demonstrate that he’s listening to critics, he will start to repair the damage.

Those who know him have predicted that Rogers will come through unscathed. “He’s just a steady hand. You never saw a ruffled feather,” said retired Admiral Gary Roughead, who was the chief of naval operations when Rogers was the Navy’s intelligence director, a position that has been a stepping stone to the NSA. “As he has approached all things, he’ll do [the job] in a very thoughtful, principled way.”


Shane Harris is a Future Tense Fellow at New America, and a senior writer at Foreign Policy magazine, where he covers national security, intelligence, and cyber security. He is writing a book on cyber warfare. He is the recipient of the 2010 Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense.

The New America Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States.

New America emphasizes work that is responsive to the changing conditions and problems of our 21st Century information-age economy -- an era shaped by transforming innovation and wealth creation, but also by shortened job tenures, longer life spans, mobile capital, financial imbalances and rising inequality.

The foundation's mission is animated by the American ideal that each generation will live better than the last. That ideal is today under strain. Our education and health care systems are struggling with problems of quality, cost and access. The country requires creative means to address its fiscal challenges and pay for needed public, social and environmental investments. Abroad, the United States has yet to fashion sustainable foreign and defense policies that will protect its citizens and interests in a rapidly integrating world.

Too often, these challenges have proven impervious to conventional party politics and incremental proposals. With an emphasis on big ideas, impartial analysis and pragmatic solutions, New America invests in outstanding individuals whose ability to communicate to wide and influential audiences can change the country's policy discourse in critical areas, bringing promising new ideas and debates to the fore.

Launched in 1999, the foundation was guided through a period of rapid growth by founding president Ted Halstead. The institute is now led by President Anne-Marie Slaughter and an outstanding Board of Directors, chaired by Eric Schmidt.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


FINE ART OF WORDSMITHING-- Robert Wilson, Sudip Bose, Bruce Falconer, Allen Freeman, and Margaret Foster, who are editors at American Scholar magazine, came up with the idea to discuss the best sentences from world literature.  It was one of those “over the water cooler” ideas that produced the following (in their opinion) the ten best.  The magazine in its blog had the sentences listed top to bottom as Fitzgerald, Joyce, Hersey, Morrison, Austen, Didion, Hemingway, Dickens, O’Brien, Nabokov with Capote as a bonus.

Uninvited, Pillar to Post crashes this worthy celebration by rearranging the order of the above list into our version of the American Scholar list.  The following is what Pillar to Post believes is a better order: Morrison, Capote, Joyce, O’Brien, Hemingway, Dickens, Austen, Hersey, Didion, Nabokov and as a bonus Fitzgerald.

Make your own list.  And, maybe tomorrow it can be a topic over the water cooler.


It was a fine cry—loud and long—but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow.—Toni Morrison, Sula

Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there.—Truman Capote, In Cold Blood

I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.—James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
In many ways he was like America itself, big and strong, full of good intentions, a roll of fat jiggling at his belly, slow of foot but always plodding along, always there when you needed him, a believer in the virtues of simplicity and directness and hard labor.—Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

Anger was washed away in the river along with any obligation.—Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

There are many pleasant fictions of the law in constant operation, but there is not one so pleasant or practically humorous as that which supposes every man to be of equal value in its impartial eye, and the benefits of all laws to be equally attainable by all men, without the smallest reference to the furniture of their pockets.—Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby

Jane Austen
For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?—Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

This private estate was far enough away from the explosion so that its bamboos, pines, laurel, and maples were still alive, and the green place invited refugees—partly because they believed that if the Americans came back, they would bomb only buildings; partly because the foliage seemed a center of coolness and life, and the estate’s exquisitely precise rock gardens, with their quiet pools and arching bridges, were very Japanese, normal, secure; and also partly (according to some who were there) because of an irresistible, atavistic urge to hide under leaves.—John Hersey, Hiroshima

It was the United States of America in the cold late spring of 1967, and the market was steady and the G.N.P. high and a great many articulate people seemed to have a sense of high social purpose and it might have been a spring of brave hopes and national promise, but it was not, and more and more people had the uneasy apprehension that it was not.—Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

There is nothing more atrociously cruel than an adored child.--Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

And a bonus:
Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Book covers were added by Pillar to Post.

Friday, March 28, 2014


BANKERS HILL EVENT--Bankers Hill Art & Craft Beer Fest
Art and Craft Beer Festival to be held TONIGHT at The Abbey, one of the most historic venues in Bankers Hill, San Diego.

The party is happening at 2825 5th Avenue. Tickets $35 each at the door.
Featuring San Diego's finest craft breweries, art installations from world renowned Bankers Hill artists & food from some of the most well recognized Chef's and restaurants in San Diego.

-Ballast Point
-AleSmith Brewing Company
-Rock Bottom Brewery
-Stone Brewing Company
-Green Flash
-Thorn Street Brewery
-Aztec Brewery
-Gordon Biersch
-Pizza Port Brewing Company
-Coronado Brewing Company
-Helms Brewing Company
-Lightning Brewery
-Karl Strauss
-Hillcrest Brewing Company

-Barrio Star
-Croce's Park West
-Jimmy Carter's Mexican Cafe

-Gustaf Anders Rooth
-Eric Wixon
-Benjamin Lavender
-Keith Greene
-Dia Basset
-Mike Payneankers Hill Art & Craft Beer Fest

SOURCE: Via West Coaster craft beer magazine.  Download this month’s edition for free:

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Breaking brew news: Fresco discovered in tomb of ancient Egyptian
beer maker Khonso Em Heb
SUDS CHRONICLES, PART 3--If you like making beer at home you share something in common with the ancient Egyptians.  CNN reported this week that a multi-national archeological dig has uncovered a fairly in tact 3200-year old tomb of the royal beer maker back in the day.

Khonso Em Heb was described by Egypt’s antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim as the chief maker of beer for gods of the dead.  Mr. Heb headed the royal warehouses during the Ramesside pharaohs operating between 1,292 to 1,069 BC.  He was also tasked with being the royal brewer.

A Japanese team of archaeologists headed by Jiro Kondo of Waseda University found the tomb near Luxor, Egypt.

Commenting on news of the discovery, Poo Mun Chou, an Egyptologist at Hong Kong’s Chinese University told CNN that “alcohol in ancient Egypt was very important—not just in the terms of daily consumption but also as an offering to the deities.”   Poo says beer was very important to the gods. (Folks, we’re not making any of this up).

Poo adds beer during the millennium before Christ was very cheap compared with wines of the day.  “Beer was a very popular drink for people of all social strata.”

While the appeal of beer across all social classes remains to this day, Professor Poo says the modern drinker might struggle to recognize the barley or millet-based beverage of ancient times.

"While it's a close cousin to modern beer, it's manufacture was more primitive and they had to use a tube to extract the liquid from below which would have had a fermented layer of substance floating on the top of the jar," he said.
"It would have had bubbles," he added.