STATESIDE STORIES: Hack Attack, American Words

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Malware infection


by Mary Foran



Cybersecurity is a continuing challenge. Here’s the latest:


The Chinese are being blamed for a recent cyberattack on the databases of the Federal Office of Personnel Management in the United States. Names, birth dates, social security numbers and personnel records of all Federal employees have been compromised by the attack, including former employees and retirees.

Samuel Schumach, an OPM spokesman said that “for security reasons, we will not discuss specifics of the information that might have been compromised.”

“Plan X” program of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), a foundational cyberwarfare program*

U.S. intelligence officials say China, like the U.S., spies for national security advantage. Unlike the U.S., they say, China also engages in large-scale theft of corporate secrets for the benefit of state-sponsored enterprises that compete with Western companies. Nearly every major U.S. company has been hacked from China, they say.

In the Senate this week, Democrats blocked a Republican effort to add a cybersecurity bill to a sweeping defense measure. The vote was four votes short of the number necessary. President Barack Obama had threatened to veto the legislation over budget changes by the Republicans.

Senator Chris Coons, D-Del, said that “the issue of cybersecurity is simply too important to be used as a political chit and tucked away in separate legislation.”

So, if you thought your personnel records were safe, think again. The breach is more damaging than acknowledged by the President, officials say.


Featured image by Blogtrepreneur, CC BY2.0, Flickr (This is a 2016 photo, used here in an update.)
DARPA photo/DARPA, US Department of Defense (*Plan X is a “foundational cyberwarfare program to develop platforms for the Department of Defense to plan for, conduct, and assess cyberwarfare in a manner similar to kinetic warfare.”)




HACK ATTACK - American Words yankee-doodle



‘Americans’ referred to the original inhabitants of the continent. But after making it their home, New Englanders adopted the term for themselves to distinguish them from the British

Americans have gotten used to being called “Yankees” for a long time now, but the term has an interesting history, starting in 1765, when it was applied to describe inhabitants of the New England area, and not as a compliment. by the inhabitants of the South.

The British liked to use the epithet for the New England provincials too, and they set it to music in the song”Yankee Doodle” which was said to have been composed by a British army surgeon “in derision of the provincial troops.”

But the American Revolution turned the term around: what had been an insult turned into a boast. As they fought the British, Americans used the term for themselves proudly and “Yankee Doodle” became the marching song of the upstarts.

Southerners, however, still wanted a derisive term for Northerners, so they added “damned Yankee” to their insults. During the World Wars, however, when you heard “the Yanks are coming” it meant American fighting men were on their way.

And as for the term “American”, that has its own controversial history. It started on July 4th, 1776 when the new country was called “the United States of America” and our forefathers added an “n” to the last word of the mouthful name to designate its inhabitants. Canada and Mexico objected of course, since they were “Americans” as well, were they not? But somehow, United Statesians didn’t have the proper ring to it, and “Americans” stuck for the duration.

Hack Attack - American Words“America” became the name of the continent after the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller designated it after the explorer and navigator Amerigo Vespucci in 1507. At first, the term “Americans” referred to the original inhabitants of the continent. But after making it their home, New Englanders adopted the term for themselves to distinguish them from the British.

“Columbia” almost was adopted as the name of the new country, which is why the term was used in the naming of the capital of America, Washington, District of Columbia.

Notes based on the research of David K. Barnhart and Allan A. Metcalf in their fascinating book America in so Many Words: Words that Have Shaped America,  copyright 1997, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, New York.


Movie poster and the official seal of Washington, D.C.: PD