1037: Bug Ramen

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 3m
May 27th, 2018
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Executive Producers: Ray Martin, Sir Backcountry Ranger, Robert Alter, Scott Porter

Associate Executive Producers: Dame Rachel Debt Slave Emanciaptor, Timnonymous, Sir Ron Driggs, Kevin McLaughlin, Anonymous, Dame Patricia Worthington

Cover Artist: SpookyR

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Ministry of Truthiness
''A person familiar with person X's thinking,''
Sun, 27 May 2018 14:06
So you wake up one day, get on Twitter and find everyone buzzing about some story in The New York Times or The Washington Post about some associate or friend of President Trump's who has some connection to Russia. You read the story, but not only are the sources unnamed, they are unnamed in all kinds of different ways '-- an ''intelligence source'' in paragraph three, ''administration officials'' in paragraph seven, ''people familiar with the investigation'' in the next one and ''law enforcement officials'' at the end. You understand all the words on the screen, but you don't really understand who's telling you what or why.
In the first part of our guide to unnamed sources, we laid out some general tips for making sense of these kinds of stories. In this part, we want to get more specific, to help you to essentially decode these stories. We also want you to be able to know which stories you should rely on based on the different kinds of sourcing used.
So we're going to divide anonymous sources into six general types and give the pros and cons of each, in terms of reliability. We ordered the types of unnamed sources, roughly speaking, from most reliable to least reliable (at least in my experience):
1. Organization sources
''White House officials,'' ''Justice Department officials,'' ''Pentagon officials,'' ''Clinton campaign officials,'' ''Republican leadership aides''
Why you should trust these sources: Close to 70,000 people work at the State Department, so there's a huge number of potential ''State Department officials'' to be quoted anonymously. But in reality, most beat reporters aren't talking to people up and down a department at every level. A story attributed to a large federal department and published in The Washington Post will almost certainly have been run by the department's spokesperson, giving him or her the chance to rebut it. If a story includes a line like ''State Department officials said X'' but no spokesperson is directly quoted in the story, you should generally assume that this is a disclosure authorized by the top officials in that agency. Maybe the State Department wants the secretary, Rex Tillerson, and not a spokesperson to announce a policy publicly, so the members of the press team opt to confirm the story but not use their names. An unnamed source isn't always a whistleblower or someone talking behind the boss's back.
Be wary, however, of putting too much trust in adjectives such as ''senior'' or ''high-ranking'' when applied to a source. These are organizational sources, sure. But there is no technical definition of ''senior White House official,'' so this person could be press secretary Sean Spicer or Trump himself.
Why you shouldn't trust these sources: Sometimes departments want to float ideas that a spokesperson would not want to put his or her name behind. CBS News, for example, ran a story in May in which unnamed White House officials were quoted calling the leaks about the various Russia controversies ''coordinated and timed'' to hurt Trump. Trump White House aides may think that is true. But suggesting that leaks and stories about Trump and Russia are somehow coordinated and timed by sources and journalists, as opposed to going through the normal process '-- sources giving journalists tips, reporters trying to verify them and then putting out stories after confirming the information '-- sounds a bit conspiratorial. Going unnamed allows these sources to bash the Russia coverage in a way that White House aides might not be comfortable doing with their names attached.
And as I mentioned in the first part of this series, outlets aimed at politicos '-- such as Axios and, well, Politico '-- frequently publish claims that the administration will do X or Y. Often, these are trial balloons '-- the White House or a federal agency wants to see how the press and public react to something '-- and they never come to pass.
2. ''Familiar'' people
''A person familiar with person X's thinking,'' ''sources familiar with person X's plans,'' ''associates of person X''
Why you should trust these sources: Quotes attributed to sources ''familiar with the thinking'' of a person are often quite reliable.
Why? A major newspaper like The New York Times or The Washington Post is not going to suggest that a source is familiar with someone's thinking without being pretty sure of it. This is a fairly precise term. It also puts the news organization at a clear risk, as person X can obviously deny what an article has said he or she is thinking.
Generally, these kinds of source descriptions mean that the reporter spoke either to the actual subject (meaning that ''a source familiar with the thinking of Chief Justice John Roberts'' is Roberts) or to a person designated by the subject to give his or her account to the reporter.
In the wake of Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, the ''associates of'' Comey who gave accounts of his interactions with Trump and his aides to The New York Times and other news outlets were obviously authorized by Comey and essentially telegraphing the story that he would eventually testify to publicly.
Why you shouldn't trust these sources: By going unnamed or relying on allies, the subject of these stories (say, Comey before his testimony) is unwilling to commit publicly to whatever narrative he or she is telling. So while the broader outlines are likely correct, the narrative could be exaggerated or misleading in some ways.
Secondly, this kind of sourcing has the potential for abuse. Other reporters can call the State Department to check the veracity of a story attributed to ''State Department officials.'' But it was not obvious that ''associates of Comey'' would lead to a Columbia law professor named Daniel Richman. (Comey testified that he gave a friend one of his memos describing his interactions with Trump and that the friend, a professor at Columbia law school, read some of the details of the memo to a journalist. Comey did not name the journalist. The first story about the Comey memo was written by Michael Schmidt, a New York Times reporter who has covered Comey extensively.)
Another reporter could contact Comey to confirm this kind of story, which is something, but if Comey refused to talk, there wasn't a clear second option.
Also, there is one person causing some specific problems with this kind of sourcing: Trump. The president seems to speak with a wide range of people, both inside and outside the White House. And many of these people then tell reporters that they talked to the president. That leaves a lot of people for journalists to credibly say are ''familiar with Trump's thinking,'' but that does not necessarily mean that these sources give an accurate picture of what the president will do. The constant stories about staff shake-ups at the White House may indeed come from people who have heard Trump muse about changes that he will never actually follow through on.
3. The Law
''Law enforcement officials''
Why you should trust these sources: In my experience, in national news stories, ''law enforcement sources'' usually means representatives of the Department of Justice or FBI (technically, the FBI is part of DOJ), making the general principles described in the ''organization sources'' section above applicable here too. In particular, look for the plural ''officials'' over the singular ''official.''
Why you shouldn't trust these sources: This kind of sourcing is relatively opaque. The Secret Service, the FBI, the U.S. Capitol Police, the D.C. police department, the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. attorney's office in D.C. would all count as law enforcement agencies based in Washington. If you were a reporter trying to check out a story attributed to ''law enforcement officials,'' you would need to call all these agencies.
And sometimes these agencies disagree with one another. At his Senate hearing, Comey described his discomfort (and disagreement) with the terminology that the previous attorney general, Loretta Lynch, wanted to use when publicly discussing the probe into Hillary Clinton's use of e-mail as secretary of state. (According to Comey, Lynch wanted to refer to the probe as a ''matter,'' not an ''investigation.'') So a story referring to ''law enforcement officials'' about the e-mail controversy could have had different takes, depending on whether the sources were aligned with Lynch or Comey.
4. The spies
''Intelligence officials''
Why you should trust these sources: The number of publications with intelligence community reporters is very small. You are unlikely to read a story quoting unnamed intelligence officials outside of the big papers, like the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and the major television news networks. So the general reliability of those outlets helps gives these stories credibility.
Why you shouldn't trust these sources: As is the case with law enforcement sources, ''intelligence officials'' could refer to many agencies in the U.S. government: the FBI, CIA, NSA, the intelligence departments at the Defense and State departments. The U.S. Senate and U.S. House also have intelligence committees with staffs, so those people could also be described as intelligence officials. And some reporters have sources within intelligence agencies in other nations, and they would also fall under this category. So this sourcing is opaque.
Also, even if the intelligence sources are accurately reporting their own views, the intelligence itself could be wrong or overhyped (see weapons of mass destruction in Iraq). And there is very little ability for a reporter to push back. A political reporter can travel to Ohio and look for signs that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump has a strong organization in the Buckeye State. It is much harder for an intelligence reporter to verify, outside of using his sources, Russia's hacking efforts, for example.
5. Politicians and their staffers
''Administration officials,'' ''congressional sources''
Why you should trust these sources: Generally, the term ''administration officials'' is used by journalists to refer to political appointees. So ''Trump administration officials'' means people who are aligned with the administration, not just federal workers. When sources ask for this designation, they are often trying to shield their identity more carefully (''State Department officials'' narrows down the universe of sources) or may be trying to downplay the role of their department (Treasury, State, etc.).
Why you should not trust these sources: This sourcing is opaque and has potential for errors. A White House employee, for example, could be describing something that he or she expects the State Department to do, and State may not be in line with the White House view. Or vice versa.
And Congress is, technically, a organization, like State or Defense. But Congress is really a body of 535 independent entities loosely aligned under two parties. A source in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office will have different information and a different agenda than one in the office of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. ''Congressional sources'' is better than nothing, but only barely.
6. Sourcing that tells you nothing
''People familiar with the investigation,'' ''U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports,'' ''current and former officials familiar with the investigations,'' ''one current and one former American official with knowledge of the continuing congressional and F.B.I. investigations,'' ''Republican strategist,'' ''Democratic strategist,'' ''senior Republicans''
Why you should trust these sources: The first several phrases here come from stories about the interactions that Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and adviser, has had with various Russian figures. Phrases like ''senior Republicans'' and ''Democratic strategist'' come from political coverage.
This style of sourcing has a ''just trust us'' quality to it, and the descriptions of the sources are essentially meaningless. A ''former American official'' could be anyone who ever worked in the U.S. government. ''People familiar with'' the Russia investigation could range from low-level officials at the Department of Justice to former President Barack Obama. One assumes that the lawyers, consultants and others employed by the various people being written about in Trump-Russia stories are ''familiar with the investigation.'' They could be the sources for some stories.
(The difference between ''sources familiar with Comey's thinking'' and ''sources familiar with the investigation'' is that the former is both more verifiable and more risky for the news outlet. You can contact Comey to check his thinking, and he can call the Times to say if his thinking has been described incorrectly. ''Sources familiar with the investigation,'' on the other hand, does not put anyone on the spot, and investigators rarely go on the record during an investigation '-- even to say that published accounts are wrong.)
A ''Democratic strategist'' could be anyone who worked in any Democratic campaign or on the staff of any Democratic office-holder, at any level of government. This type of sourcing is also often used by people who are not government officials at all, but political consultants.
So, why should you trust these stories? You are truly relying on the reporters and the outlets here '-- and on their records of reporting verifiable claims. Some publications and journalists have established strong reputations for trustworthiness. The Washington Post reported stories that essentially forced the resignation of Flynn earlier this year. Marty Baron, the Post's top editor, ran The Boston Globe when it broke the stories about the Catholic Church's cover-up of sexual abuse of children by priests '-- coverage featured in the movie ''Spotlight.'' Earlier this year, outlets investigating Trump/Russia stories may have appeared to be pushing forward an allegation that seemed far-fetched (some kind of direct collusion, coordination or at least general prior knowledge of the Russian hacking effort by the Trump campaign). But at this point, the Flynn firing, the Comey firing, Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Kremlin-associated lawyer and other events have validated the decisions by the Post, Times, CNN and other outlets to invest heavily in reporting on the Trump-Russia connection.
''One thing that I think really needs explaining to non-journalists is the number of people at a newspaper or network who will read an investigative story'' before it runs, said Al Cross, who was a longtime reporter at the Louisville Courier-Journal and now teaches at the University of Kentucky's Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues. ''News consumers say they get most of their news from television, which emphasizes the individual roles of the anchor and reporter and does little to remind people that journalism is a collective act.''
Why you should not trust these sources: The competition to get scoops among journalists and big papers creates pressure that could lead to the overhyping of certain stories or the use of weak sourcing that leads to inaccuracies.
CNN last month accepted the resignations of three journalists, including a top editor in charge of an investigative unit, after announcing that it could not stand behind a story it had published on the Russia controversy. The article, which has now been removed from CNN's website, relied on a single unnamed ''congressional source'' to suggest that Congress was investigating ties between a Russian investment fund and people connected to Trump. One of the Trump allies named in the CNN story, Anthony Scaramucci, publicly denied the account.
''The zeal to break news can create haste that leads to flawed reporting,'' wrote the Post's media reporter, Paul Farhi, in the wake of the CNN resignations. ''Like all major news organizations, CNN is under pressure to produce scoops that draw ratings and Web traffic, and to stay competitive with the likes of the New York Times and The Washington Post, which have been leaders on the Trump-Russia story.''
Conclusions: Caveat lector
''The whole system of anonymous sources has a flaw,'' said Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University. ''Sometimes the name that is withheld is bigger news than the news the withheld name is offering. But there is no way for the readers to know because the name is '... withheld.''
Rosen is right. But as a reader, you don't have any other options. Washington stories have always been full of unnamed sources. But now, we are in a unique era: an administration with a lot of factions, often fighting with one another; a federal bureaucracy skeptical of its boss; a Republican majority in Congress leery of Trump but often not wanting to blast him with their names attached. So there are lots of people who want to talk to the press, but also lots of incentives for them to do so without their names attached. Heck, the former FBI director was essentially acting as an unnamed source, so you can imagine that others with fewer credentials (or more to lose) are even more afraid to go on the record.
So our advice is: Read all of these vaguely sourced stories with skepticism. But if you really want to keep up with Trump's Washington, you probably don't have a choice but to read some stories with unnamed sources.
Radio presenters and journalists among top jobs for psychopaths : Radio Today
Sun, 27 May 2018 05:54
If you work in radio you are more likely to be subject to psychopathic behaviour from your co-workers, according to the findings presented in a new book by Oxford research psychologist Dr Kevin Dutton.
As B&T reports, Dr Dutton, who works at the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, has written a book called The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success.
The book details the jobs that are most likely to attract psychopaths, with journalists and media presenters taking out the second and third spots on the list respectively.
The #1 job likely to attract people with psychopathic behaviour is that of CEO, and others include public servants, police, surgeons, chefs and lawyers.
Dutton says that the key character traits to look out for are the ability to control others, and to manipulative.
He goes on to say that psychopaths generally perform well in an office environment, are often found in senior management and that the CEO is the career most suited to the personality disorder.
Top 10 List:
CEO JournalistsMedia presentersPublic servantsPoliceClergySalespeopleSurgeonsLawyersChefs
Tommy Robinson
In the European Appeasement Olympics, Who Wins?
Sun, 27 May 2018 05:33
All right, the competition is over. Britain wins.
For years I thought that Britain's long tradition of open debate and individual liberty would enable it to stand up more firmly to the encroachments of Islam than other Western European countries. I worried more about the Netherlands, where Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh were murdered, Ayaan Hirsi Ali was hounded into exile, and Geert Wilders, a member of parliament, was put on trial -- and still is on trial this week -- for criticizing Islam in public. I worried more about Denmark, where Lars Hedegaard, a serious historian, was tried for criticizing Islam in the privacy of his own home, and where the Jyllands-Posten cartoon crisis caused riots. I worried about Norway, where people at the highest levels of government conspired to force an apology out of the editor of a tiny Christian periodical who had dared to reprint the Danish cartoons. I worried about France, where the suburbs of major cities were increasingly becoming sharia enclaves, and Sweden, where a cordon sanitaire was put around the one party that dared criticize that country's own steady Islamization.
But I was wrong. It is Britain that is falling fastest to Islam. It is Britain, our mother country, home of the Magna Carta, that is most firmly betraying its own history and values. It has already banned Robert Spencer, a serious and cogent American critic of Islam, from its shores, even as it lets in the looniest of sharia preachers. More recently, three other critics of Islam '' American Brittany Pettibone, Austrian Martin Sellner, and Canadian Lauren Southern '' were turned away by British border authorities.
Now, Tommy Robinson has been arrested '' not for the first time. Born Stephen Bellon, he is a lifelong resident of Luton who helped found the English Defence League, which he left in 2013 because he disapproved of its focus on race rather than ideology; since then, he been involved with Quilliam, a reformist Muslim think tank; with the Canadian alternative-media group Rebel Media; and with Pegida UK, the British chapter of a German anti-Islam organization. Robinson has been an outspoken critic of Islam, and has been imprisoned several times, sometimes for relatively minor physical disturbances and other misdemeanors '' he has admitted that he is no saint '' and sometimes simply for speaking his mind. I have never met the man, but I have watched hours of interviews with him and other videos in which he does speak his mind, interviews others, and covers various events, and I must say that he comes off consistently as a decent man who is free of prejudice but legitimately concerned about Islam.
Tommy Robinson. His concern about Islam has made him a target of British authorities. Photo: Tommyrobinson.online.
It is his concern about Islam that has made Robinson a target of British authorities. A few years ago, knowing his public profile as a critic of Islam, they put him into a penal institution, Woodhill Prison, where they knew he would be surrounded by Muslim convicts and vulnerable to physical abuse if not jailhouse murder. Indeed, he was assaulted there, and it was apparently only thanks to intervention by Maajid Nawaz, the founder of Quilliam and a prominent Liberal Democratic Party politician, that he was moved to a safer lockup. Since his release, he has been repeatedly harassed by British police. In May of last year, after he was hired as a Rebel Media correspondent, he was arrested while reporting from outside a court in Canterbury where a Muslim rape trial was underway.
Just a few weeks ago, Robinson was the headliner at a "Day of Freedom" free-speech rally in London. Other speakers included UKIP leader Gerard Batten, YouTube celebrities Gavin McInnes and Carl Benjamin (who goes by the name "Sargon of Akkad"), Anne Marie Waters of the political party For Britain, and Milo Yiannopoulos. I watched it on YouTube. It was impressive. It gave me a bit of hope for that scepter'd (but battered) isle.
Now Robinson has been arrested again. On Friday, while livestreaming on Facebook from outside a court in Leeds, where yet another trial of Muslim child rapists was underway, he was taken into custody by a phalanx of police officers. The charge? "Breaching the peace." In fact, anyone who watches the video of his arrest can see quite clearly that he was only doing what any reporter for the BBC would have done '' standing in front of a courtroom, talking into a microphone, and being filmed by a camera. The difference is that the BBC and other mainstream media are determined to give as little coverage as possible to the mass Muslim rape of infidel girls. As for the police, they knew about these "grooming gangs" for many years (as did armies of social workers) but did nothing for fear of being labeled racist or sparking Islamic uprisings. These same cops arrested Tommy Robinson on Friday not because he did anything wrong, but because he was drawing attention to Muslim crimes that they would rather see ignored '' and drawing attention, too, by extension, to their own genuinely criminal failure to defend innocent children from what was essentially jihadist torture.
It gets worse. Within hours, according to some sources, Robinson was tried and sentenced to thirteen months in prison. To send him to a British prison, where a very high percentage of inmates are likely to be Muslim, is to condemn him to a life of brutal harassment and, very possibly, a violent death. Even in Islam-appeasing Britain, this seems inconceivable. It sounds like Soviet or Nazi "justice," not like British jurisprudence.
Make no mistake: however Tommy Robinson may have strayed from the straight and narrow over the years, he is a champion of those victimized children, a voice for freedom, and a living rebuke to the cowardice of the British media, police, social workers, and other officials and public figures who knew what was going on in flats in Rotherham, Newcastle, and elsewhere, but stayed silent. Anyone in the United Kingdom who believes in freedom, recognizes the danger of Islam, and has any self-respect should rally to Robinson's cause.
Bruce Bawer is the author of the new novel The Alhambra (Swamp Fox Editions). His book While Europe Slept (2006) was a New York Times bestseller and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. His other books include A Place at the Table (1993), Stealing Jesus (1997), Surrender (2009), and The Victims' Revolution (2012). A native New Yorker, he has lived in Europe since 1998.
(C) 2018 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
Criminal Justice Act 1925
Sun, 27 May 2018 11:40
Table of Contents Content More ResourcesChanges to legislation:There are currently no known outstanding effects for the Criminal Justice Act 1925, Section 41.
Changes to LegislationRevised legislation carried on this site may not be fully up to date. At the current time any known changes or effects made by subsequent legislation have been applied to the text of the legislation you are viewing by the editorial team. Please see 'Frequently Asked Questions' for details regarding the timescales for which new effects are identified and recorded on this site.
41 Prohibition on taking photographs, &c., in court. E+W (1) No person shall'--
(a) take or attempt to take in any court any photograph, or with a view to publication make or attempt to make in any court any portrait or sketch, of any person, being a judge of the court or a juror or a witness in or a party to any proceedings before the court, whether civil or criminal; or
(b) publish any photograph, portrait or sketch taken or made in contravention of the foregoing provisions of this section or any reproduction thereof;
and if any person acts in contravention of this section he shall, on summary conviction, be liable in respect of each offence to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds.
[ F1 (1A) See section 32 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 for power to provide for exceptions. ]
(2) For the purposes of this section'--
[ F2 (a) the expression '' court '' means any court of justice (including the court of a coroner), apart from the Supreme Court; ]
(b) the expression ''Judge '' includes . . . F3, registrar, magistrate, justice and coroner:
(c) a photograph, portrait or sketch shall be deemed to be a photograph, portrait or sketch taken or made in court if it is taken or made in the court''room or in the building or in the precincts of the building in which the court is held, or if it is a photograph, portrait or sketch taken or made of the person while he is entering or leaving the court''room or any such building or precincts as aforesaid.
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Anjem Choudary will be free by end of next year | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 27 May 2018 13:09
Notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary could be released by the end of next year, having served less than half of his sentence, it has emerged.
Choudary was jailed last September for five-and-a-half years after he was convicted of inviting support for a proscribed organisation while he lived on taxpayer handouts.
Due to the time he spent on remand awaiting sentence '' almost five months '' Choudary could be back spreading hate as soon as December 2018 and no later than the end of January 2019.
Notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary could be released by the end of next year, having served less than half of his sentence, it has emerged
The revelation could be problematic for the security services, who have disclosed they are currently handling 500 active investigations.
The extremist, who founded the group al-Muhajiroun, is believed to have inspired the 7/7 bombers and has been linked to the Westminster attacker Khalid Masood.
It is also thought that Choudary aided 110 British jihadists to travel to Syria in order to fight for Islamic State.
Despite being known to spread hate, Choudary was given a platform to speak by the BBC and controversially appeared on Newsnight in 2013.
Choudary was jailed last September for five-and-a-half years after he was convicted of inviting support for a proscribed organisation while he lived on taxpayer handouts
Then, he refused to condemn Michael Adebolajo after he killed fusilier Lee Rigby.
Hannah Stuart, author of Islamist Terrorism, a definitive analysis of UK attacks and offences, said his release would be a 'massive headache'.
She told The Telegraph: 'When Theresa May talks about longer sentences for terrorists, she will have had in mind extremists like Choudary who are accused of such offences as disseminating terrorist material and glorifying terrorism.'
Despite his ideas spawning a generation of home-grown terrorists and enraging the British public, Choudary had previously thwarted authorities by managing to stay on the right side of the law.
But a pledge of allegiance posted online provided a turning point for police who swooped to arrest British-born Choudary and his deputy Mohammed Mizanur Rahman.
Rahman, who was described as a 'hothead' by the judge, was also given a sentence of five years and six months.
The judge said both men were 'dangerous' and had shown no remorse for what they had done.
The judge described Choudary (left) as 'calculating' and Rahman (right) as a 'hothead'
Their trial heard Choudary swore an oath of allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an East London pub after the so-called 'caliphate' was declared in the Middle East.
He and his deputy then pressed upon Muslims their supposed obligation to 'make hijrah', meaning to travel to ISIS-occupied lands, the court heard.
Choudary rose to notoriety as the mouthpiece of Omar Bakri Mohammed - a Syrian extremist who founded the banned extremist group al-Muhajiroun (ALM).
Choudary courted publicity by voicing controversial views on Sharia law, while building up a following of thousands through social media, demonstrations and lectures around the world.
In one speech in March 2013, Choudary, from Ilford, north-east London, set out his ambitions for the Muslim faith to 'dominate the whole world'.
Choudary pictured with an image of Buckingham Palace imagined as a mosque
He said: 'Next time when your child is at school and the teacher says, "What do you want when you grow up? What is your ambition?", they should say,"To dominate the whole world by Islam, including Britain - that is my ambition".'
His supporters included Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, the murderers of Fusilier Lee Rigby, and suspected ISIS executioner Siddhartha Dhar.
Shortly after the announcement of the caliphate, Choudary held a meeting with his closest aides at a curry house in Mile End Road in east London to discuss it.
Before accepting it was legitimate, he also consulted his 'spiritual guide', Bakri Mohammed, currently in jail in Lebanon, and Mohammed Fachry, the head of ALM in Indonesia.
On July 7, 2014, the trio's names appeared alongside Rahman's on the oath posted on the internet, which stated the Muhajiroun had 'affirmed' the legitimacy of the 'proclaimed Islamic Caliphate State'.
Choudary, pictured in a file photo, smiled as his sentence was announced today
The defendants followed up by posting on YouTube a series of lectures on the caliphate, which Choudary promoted to more than 32,000 Twitter followers.
The married father-of-five denied encouraging his followers to back the terror group and insisted the oath had been made without his knowledge.
He said of the pledge: 'It is completely unnecessary. For the rest of the Muslims it is obedience from the heart.'
Despite protesting his innocence, he continued to express extreme views, refusing to denounce the execution of journalist James Foley by so-called Jihadi John, aka Mohammed Emwazi, in Syria in 2014.
He told the jury: 'If you took an objective view, there are circumstances where someone could be punished.'
Following the convictions, Commander Dean Haydon, head of Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command, said: 'These men have stayed just within the law for many years.
Choudary's conviction was welcomed by leading British Muslims, who condemned his 'evil' and 'hateful' views. He is pictured at the Holiday Inn in Chingford
'But there is no-one within the counter-terrorism world that has any doubts of the influence that they have had, the hate they have spread and the people that they have encouraged to join terrorist organisations.'
Commander Haydon added: 'Over and over again we have seen people on trial for the most serious offences who have attended lectures or speeches given by these men.
'The oath of allegiance was a turning point for the police - at last we had the evidence that they had stepped over the line and we could prove they supported Isis.'
Choudary's conviction was also welcomed by leading British Muslims, who condemned his 'evil' and 'hateful' views.
After his conviction, Choudary's Twitter account was removed by the social media giant.
Any Collusion?
Electoral College from Daniel Griffin
I was listening to the clapper segment on episode 1037 and I
had a dumb thought, how did the Russians influence 'voters' and meddle in the
election when the slave's votes don't even matter? Maybe I am completely
misunderstanding the conversation, when everyone says 'voters' are they
referring to the delagates and super delagates. If Hilary Clinton won, the
Russian influence conversation would make complete sense to me, she won the
popular vote.
If I was of a conspiratorial nature I would wonder if all
this talk from the very institutions that want to keep power. (goverment,
politicians, media). Would cooperate to distract from preventing a change to
the electoral college.
If it is a dumb thought, what am I missing? It won't be my
last dumb thought, lol. My apologies if this email was a waste of time,
Have a great day, thanks for your time.
Electoral College - Facts & Summary - HISTORY.com
Sun, 27 May 2018 12:14
Notwithstanding the founders' efforts, the electoral college system almost never functioned as they intended, but, as with so many constitutional provisions, the document prescribed only the system's basic elements, leaving ample room for development. As the republic evolved, so did the electoral college system, and, by the late 19 century, the th following range of constitutional, federal and state legal, and political elements of the contemporary system were in place.
Allocation of Electors and Electoral Votes
The Constitution gives each state a number of electors equal to the combined total of its Senate membership (two for each state) and House of Representatives delegation (currently ranging from one to 52, depending on population). The 23rd Amendment provides an additional three electors to the District of Columbia. The number of electoral votes per state thus currently ranges from three (for seven states and D.C.) to 54 for California, the most populous state.
The total number of electors each state gets are adjusted following each decennial census in a process called reapportionment, which reallocates the number of Members of the House of Representatives to reflect changing rates of population growth (or decline) among the states. Thus, a state may gain or lose electors following reapportionment, but it always retains its two ''senatorial'' electors, and at least one more reflecting its House delegation.Popular Election of Electors
Today, all presidential electors are chosen by the voters, but, in the early republic, more than half the states chose electors in their legislatures, thus eliminating any direct involvement by the voting public in the election. This practice changed rapidly after the turn of the nineteenth century, however, as the right to vote was extended to an ever-wider segment of the population. As the electorate continued to expand, so did the number of persons able to vote for presidential electors, to its present limit of all eligible citizens age 18 or older. The tradition that the voters choose the presidential electors thus became an early and permanent feature of the electoral college system, and, while it should be noted that states still theoretically retain the constitutional right to choose some other method, this is extremely unlikely. The existence of the presidential electors and the duties of the electoral college are so little noted in contemporary society that most American voters believe that they are voting directly for a President and Vice President on election day. Although candidates for elector may be well known persons, such as governors, state legislators, or other state and local officials, they generally do not receive public recognition as electors. In fact, in most states, the names of individual electors do not appear anywhere on the ballot; instead only those of the various candidates for President and Vice President appear, usually prefaced by the words ''electors for.'' Moreover, electoral votes are commonly referred to as having ''been awarded'' to the winning candidate, as if no human beings were involved in the process.
The Electors: Ratifying the Voter's Choice
Presidential electors in contemporary elections are expected, and, in many cases pledged, to vote for the candidates of the party that nominated them. While there is evidence that the founders assumed the electors would be independent actors, weighing the merits of competing presidential candidates, they have been regarded as agents of the public will since the first decade under the Constitution. They are expected to vote for the presidential and vice presidential candidates of the party that nominated them. Notwithstanding this expectation, individual electors have sometimes not honored their commitment, voting for a different candidate or candidates than the ones to whom they were pledged; they are known as ''faithless'' or ''unfaithful'' electors. In fact, the balance of opinion by constitutional scholars is that, once electors have been chosen, they remain constitutionally free agents, able to vote for any candidate who meets the requirements for President and Vice President. Faithless electors have, however, been few in number (in the 20 century, one each in 1948, 1956, 1960, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1988, and 2000), and have never influenced the outcome of a presidential election.
Nominating Elector-Candidates: Diverse State Procedures
Nomination of elector-candidates is another of the many aspects of this system left to state and political party preferences. Most states prescribe one of two methods: 34 states require that candidates for the office of presidential elector be nominated by state party conventions, while a further ten mandate nomination by the state party's central committee. The remaining states use a variety of methods, including nomination by the governor (on recommendation of party committees), by primary election, and by the party's presidential nominee.
Joint Tickets: One Vote for President and Vice President
General election ballots, which are regulated by state election laws and authorities, offer voters joint candidacies for President and Vice President for each political party or other group. Thus, voters cast a single vote for electors pledged to the joint ticket of the party they represent. They cannot effectively vote for a President from one party and a Vice President from another, unless their state provides for write-in votes.
General Election Day
Elections for all federal elected officials are held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even-numbered years presidential elections are held in every year divisible by four. Congress selected this day in 1845; previously, states held elections on different days between September and November, a practice that sometimes led to multiple voting across state lines, and other fraudulent practices. By tradition, November was chosen because the harvest was in, and farmers were able to take the time needed to vote. Tuesday was selected because it gave a full day's travel between Sunday, which was widely observed as a strict day of rest, and election day. Travel was also easier throughout the north during November, before winter had set in.
The Electors Convene
The 12th Amendment requires electors to meet ''in their respective states '...'' This provision was intended to deter manipulation of the election by having the state electoral colleges meet simultaneously, but keeping them separate. Congress sets the date on which the electors meet, currently the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. The electors almost always meet in the state capital, usually in the capitol building or state house itself. They vote ''by ballot'' separately for President and Vice President (at least one of the candidates must be from another state). The results are then endorsed, and copies are sent to the Vice President (in his capacity as President of the Senate); the secretary of state of their state; the Archivist of the United States; and the judge of the federal district court of the district in which the electors met. Having performed their constitutional duty, the electors adjourn, and the electoral college ceases to exist until the next presidential election.
Congress Counts and Certifies the Vote
The final step in the presidential election process (aside from the presidential inaugural on January 20) is the counting and certification of the electoral votes by Congress. The House of Representatives and Senate meet in joint session in the House chamber on January 6 of the year following the presidential election, at 1:00 pm. The Vice President, who presides in his capacity as President of the Senate, opens the electoral vote certificates from each state, in alphabetical order. He then passes the certificates to four tellers (vote counters), two appointed by each house, who announce the results. The votes are then counted, and the results are announced by the Vice President. The candidates receiving a majority of electoral votes (currently 270 of 538) are declared the winners by the Vice President, an action that constitutes ''a sufficient declaration of the persons, if any, elected President and Vice President of the States.''
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INTERCEPTED DEEP STATE PRIVATE CHAT: Rosenstein Was Blackmailed Into Appointing Mueller - Big League Politics
Fri, 25 May 2018 06:54
WASHINGTON '-- Deputy attorney general Robert Rosenstein appointed special counsel Robert Mueller because ''our friends all have stuff on him,'' according to private messages exchanged by five federal government employees on the day Mueller was appointed in May 2017.
Intelligence insiders in Washington are exchanging the messages presented below because they believe they show an accurate presentation of what the House Intelligence Committee has long known: that an inter-agency coalition of a small number of operatives including a top official at John Brennan's CIA conspired to leak negative stories and ''memos'' on General Michael Flynn. They ran an operation called ''The Limey'' to target Flynn and weaken his mental state.
Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller because ''he knows our friends have stuff on him.''
Messages on the 'Dark Web' have identified five individuals who routinely hold group chats on the Gliph secure messaging app. In the conversations, the intelligence agents clearly conspire to leak damaging information about the Trump White House.
Latest: VIDEO INTERVIEW: Trump Adviser Michael Caputo Tells BLP He Was Spied On, Fusion GPS Still Working With Mueller
A 'Dark Web' identity known as FreshCamel told Third Estate News Group that he/she picked up private Gliph conversations between five people that he/she says are intelligence agents. FreshCamel did this by getting into a top FBI official's computer through a Phishing email. FreshCamel says that the five-person group talks for 45 minutes a day about four times per week.
The handles that the Deep State operatives use are: Dooku, Severus, Huck, Roger, and Juules. Other agents are also involved in some conversations, but those are the main five, according to FreshCamel.
These messages were first posted to the website Third Estate News Group, a leaks site that is no longer in operation following this credible leak which is now preserved on Steemit and elsewhere. ''RR'' has been identified as Rod Rosenstein and ''MF'' as Michael Flynn and ''RM'' as Robert Mueller. The reference to ''company'' is a reference to the CIA:
Informant - Wikipedia
Sat, 26 May 2018 01:48
Two page totally confidential, direct and immediate letter from the Iranian Minister of Finance to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (
Hossein Fatemi) about creating a foreign information network for controlling smuggling, 15 December 1952.
An informant (also called an informer)[1] is a person who provides privileged information about a person or organization to an agency. The term is usually used within the law enforcement world, where they are officially known as confidential or criminal informants (CI), and can often refer pejoratively to the supply of information without the consent of the other parties with the intent of malicious, personal or financial gain.[2] However, the term is used in politics, industry and academia.[3][4]
Contents
Criminal informants Edit Informants are commonly found in the world of organized crime. By its very nature, organized crime involves many people who are aware of each other's guilt, in a variety of illegal activities. Quite frequently, confidential informants (or criminal informants) will provide information in order to obtain lenient treatment for themselves and provide information, over an extended period of time, in return for money or for police to overlook their own criminal activities. Quite often, someone will become an informant following their arrest.[citation needed ]
Informants are also extremely common in every-day police work, including homicide and narcotics investigations. Any citizen who provides crime related information to law enforcement by definition is an informant.[5]
The CIA has been criticized for leniency towards drug lords[6] and murderers[7] acting as paid informants, informants being allowed to engage in some crimes so that the potential informant can blend into the criminal environment without suspicion,[7] and wasting billions of dollars on dishonest sources of information.[2]
Informants are often regarded as traitors by their former criminal associates. Whatever the nature of a group, it is likely to feel strong hostility toward any known informers, regard them as threats and inflict punishments ranging from social ostracism through physical abuse and/or death. Informers are therefore generally protected, either by being segregated while in prison or, if they are not incarcerated, relocated under a new identity.
Informant motivation Edit FBI Anchorage aid for assessing confidential human sources
Informants, and especially criminal informants, can be motivated by many reasons. Many informants are not themselves aware of all of their reasons for providing information, but nonetheless do so. Many informants provide information while under stress, duress, emotion and other life factors that can impact the accuracy or veracity of information provided.
Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges and others should be aware of possible motivations so that they can properly approach, assess and verify informants' information.
Generally, informants' motivations can be broken down into self-interest, self-preservation and conscience.
A list of possible motivations includes:
Self-Interest:
Financial reward[8]Pre-trial release from custodyWithdrawal or dismissal of criminal chargesReduction of sentenceChoice of location to serve sentenceElimination of rivals or unwanted criminal associates.Elimination of competitors engaged in criminal activities.Diversion of suspicion from their own criminal activities.Revenge[9]Self-Preservation:
Fear of harm from others.Threat of arrest or charges.Threat of incarceration.Desire for witness protection program.Conscience:
Desire to go straightGuilty conscienceGenuine desire to assist law enforcement and society.[10]Labor and social movements Edit Corporations and the detective agencies that sometimes represent them have historically hired labor spies to monitor or control labor organizations and their activities.[11] Such individuals may be professionals or recruits from the workforce. They may be willing accomplices, or may be tricked into informing on their co-workers' unionization efforts.[12]
Paid informants have often been used by authorities within politically and socially oriented movements to weaken, destabilize and ultimately break them.[13]
Politics Edit A redacted version of the FBI policy manual concerning the use of informants.
Informers alert authorities regarding government officials that are corrupt. Officials may be taking bribes, or participants in a money loop also called a kickback. Informers in some countries receive a percentage of all monies recovered by their government.[citation needed ]
Lactantius described an example from ancient Rome involved the prosecution of a woman suspected to have advised a woman not to marry Maximinus II: "Neither indeed was there any accuser, until a certain Jew, one charged with other offences, was induced, through hope of pardon, to give false evidence against the innocent. The equitable and vigilant magistrate conducted him out of the city under a guard, lest the populace should have stoned him... The Jew was ordered to the torture till he should speak as he had been instructed... The innocent were condemned to die.... Nor was the promise of pardon made good to the feigned adulterer, for he was fixed to a gibbet, and then he disclosed the whole secret contrivance; and with his last breath he protested to all the beholders that the women died innocent."[14]
Criminal informant schemes have been used as cover for politically motivated intelligence offensives.[15]
Jailhouse informants Edit Jailhouse informants, who report hearsay (admissions against penal interest) which they claim to have heard while the accused is in pretrial detention, usually in exchange for sentence reductions or other inducements, have been the focus of particular controversy.[16] Some examples of their use are in connection with Stanley Williams, Cameron Todd Willingham, Gerald Stano, Thomas Silverstein, Marshall "Eddie" Conway, and a suspect in the disappearance of Etan Patz.[citation needed ]
Terminology and slang Edit Slang terms for informants include:
blabbermouth[17]cheese eater[18]canary '-- derives from the fact that canaries sing. "Singing" is underworld or street slang for providing information or talking to the police.[19]dog '-- Australian. May also refer to police who specialize in surveillance, or police generally.fink '-- this may refer to the Pinkertons who were used as plain-clothes detectives and strike-breakers.[20]grass[21] or supergrass,[22] '-- rhyming slang for grasshopper, meaning copper or shopper[23] and having additional associations with the popular song, "Whispering Grass", and the phrase snake in the grass.[24]narc '-- a member of a specialist narcotics police force.[25]nark '-- this may have come from the Romany term nak for nose or the French term narquois meaning cunning, deceitful and/or criminal.[26][27]nose[28]pentito '-- Italian term, meaning "one who repents." Usually used in reference to Mafia informants, but it has also been used to refer to informants for Italian paramilitary or terrorist organizations, such as the Red Brigades.pursuivant (archaic),[29]rat[18][30] '-- informing is commonly referred to as "ratting."snitch[31]snout[32]spotter [33]squealer[31]stool pigeon or stoolie [34]tell tale or tell-tale[35][36]tittle-tattle[34]tout '' Northern Irish slang for an informant, often one who informed on the activities of paramilitary groups during The Troubles.[37][38]trick[39]turncoat[17]weasel[17]The phrase "drop a dime" refers to an informant using a payphone to call the authorities to report information.
The term "stool pigeon" originates from the long-ago practice of tying a passenger pigeon to a stool. The bird would flap its wings in a futile attempt to escape. The sound of the wings flapping would attract other pigeons to the stool where they could be easily killed or captured.
List of famous individuals Edit Whitey Bulger, Boston organized crime boss and subject of Black MassNicholas Calabrese, the first made man to testify against the Chicago OutfitJames Carey, Irish terroristW. Mark Felt, a.k.a. "Deep Throat", former Deputy Director of the FBISammy Gravano, former underboss of the Gambino crime familyHenry Hill, Lucchese crime family associateFrank Lucas, New York City drug dealer turned informantAbe Reles, Murder, Inc. hit manFreddie Scappaticci, member of the Provisional IRAJoseph Valachi, soldier in the Genovese crime familySalvatore Vitale, former underboss of the Bonanno crime familySee also Edit References Edit ^ "informer". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Merriam-Webster . Retrieved 6 June 2016 . 2: one that informs against another; specifically : one who makes a practice especially for a financial reward of informing against others for violations of penal laws ^ a b "The Weakest Link: The Dire Consequences of a Weak Link in the Informant Handling and Covert Operations Chain-of-Command" by M Levine. Law Enforcement Executive Forum, 2009 ^ "Pursuing strategic advantage through political means: A multivariate approach" by DA Schuler, K Rehbein, RD Cramer '' Academy of Management Journal, 2002 ^ "Reading English for specialized purposes: Discourse analysis and the use of student informants" by A Cohen, H Glasman, PR Rosenbaum-Cohen, J. Tesol Quarterly, 197 ^ Palmiotto, J., Micheal. Criminal Investigation. 4th ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2013. p65-66 ^ "Kid Who Sold Crack to the President" by J Morley. Washington City Paper, 1989 ^ a b "Government Corruption and the Right of Access to Courts" by UA Kim. Michigan Law Review, 2004 ^ Lyman, D., Micheal. Criminal Investigation: The Art and the Science. 6th ed. Columbia College of Missouri. Pearson, 2010. p264 ^ Lyman, D., Micheal. Criminal Investigation: The Art and the Science. 6th ed. Columbia College of Missouri. Pearson, 2010. p264 ^ Allen, Bill Van (2011). Criminal investigation : in search of the truth (2nd ed.). Toronto: Pearson Canada. p. 217. ISBN 978-0-13-800011-0. ^ "Private detective agencies and labour discipline in the United States, 1855''1946" by RP Weiss. The Historical Journal, 2009. Cambridge Univ Press ^ "Judicial Control of Informants, Spies, Stool Pigeons, and Agent Provocateurs" by RC Donnelly '' Yale Law Journal, 1951 ^ "Thoughts on a neglected category of social movement participant: The agent provocateur and the informant" by GT Marx '' American Journal of Sociology, 1974 ^ Lactantius. "On the Deaths of the Persecutors". ^ "CIA Assets and the Rise of the Guadalajara Connection" J. Marshall '' Crime, Law and Social Change, 1991 ^ scc.lexum.umontreal.ca Archived 2010-11-10 at the Wayback Machine. ^ a b c "snitch". Thesaurus.com. ^ a b "Role of the Rat in the Prison" by HA Wilmer. Fed. Probation, 1965 ^ Orwant, Jon (May 22, 2003). Games, Diversions & Perl Culture: Best of the Perl Journal. O'Reilly Media. ^ "The Origin of fink 'informer, hired strikebreaker'" by William Sayers. A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes, and Reviews. Winter 2005 Cornell University ^ Criminal classes: offenders at school by A Devlin. 1995 ^ "The Intelligence War in Northern Ireland" by K Maguire '' International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, Volume 4, Issue 2 1990, pages 145''165 ^ "grass". Oxford English Dictionary. A spy or informer, esp. for the police ^ "Supergrasses: a study in anti-terrorist law enforcement in Northern Ireland". books.google.com. ^ Chicano intravenous drug users: The collection and interpretation of data from hidden from Hidden Populations by R Ramos. 1990 ^ Prison patter: a dictionary of prison words and slang by A Devlin. 1996 ^ "Some ethical dilemmas in the handling of police informers" by C Dunnighan, C Norris '' Public Money & Management, 1998 ^ "nose". Oxford English Dictionary. A spy or informer, esp. for the police ^ "Speaker and Structure in Donne's Satyre" by NM Bradbury. Studies in English Literature, 1500''1900, 1985. ^ "Sociology of Confinement: Assimilation and the Prison 'Rat'" by EH Johnson. The Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Police Science. 1961 ^ a b "Reflections on the role of statutory immunity in the criminal justice system" by WJ Bauer '' Journal of Criminal Law. & Criminology, 1976 ^ "snout". Oxford English Dictionary. A police informer ^ "Instigated Crime" by S Shaw '' Alta. LQ, 1938 ^ a b "Elevating the Role of the Informer: The Value of Secret Information". MW Krasilovsky. ABAJ, 1954 ^ "On Truth and Lie in a Colonial Sense: Kipling's Tales of Tale-telling" by A Hai '' ELH, 1997 ^ "Telling tales in school" by A Minister. Education 3''13, 1990 ^ McDonald, Henry (2000-10-28). "End of 'touts' in Northern Ireland" . Retrieved 2018-02-01 . ^ "The murky world of informers". BBC News. 2006-04-04 . Retrieved 2018-02-02 . ^ Prison ministry: hope behind the wall by Dennis W. Pierce '' 2006
Confidential Informant Law and Legal Definition | USLegal, Inc.
Sat, 26 May 2018 01:47
A confidential informant is a person who provides information about criminal activity to law enforcement officers. The identities of these individuals are privileged in order to protect these individuals against retribution from those involved in crime. Statements made by a confidential informant are testimonial in nature, and therefore, may not be offered by the government to establish the guilt of an accused absent an opportunity for the accused to cross-examine the informant. However, evidence that is provided merely by way of background or is offered only to explain how certain events came to pass or why the officers took the actions they did, is not offered for the truth of the matter asserted. [United States v. Warman, 578 F.3d 320 (6th Cir. Ohio 2009)]
Think Tank: Cyber Firm at Center of Russian Hacking Charges Misread Data
Sun, 27 May 2018 14:16
WASHINGTON '-- An influential British think tank and Ukraine's military are disputing a report that the U.S. cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has used to buttress its claims of Russian hacking in the presidential election.
The CrowdStrike report, released in December, asserted that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, resulting in heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine's war with Russian-backed separatists.
But the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) told VOA that CrowdStrike erroneously used IISS data as proof of the intrusion. IISS disavowed any connection to the CrowdStrike report. Ukraine's Ministry of Defense also has claimed combat losses and hacking never happened.
A CrowdStrike spokesperson told VOA that it stands by its findings, which, they say, "have been confirmed by others in the cybersecurity community.''
The challenges to CrowdStrike's credibility are significant because the firm was the first to link last year's hacks of Democratic Party computers to Russian actors, and because CrowdStrike co-founder Dimiti Alperovitch has trumpeted its Ukraine report as more evidence of Russian election tampering.
Alperovitch has said that variants of the same software were used in both hacks.
FILE - CrowdStrike co-founder and CTO Dmitri Alperovitch speaks during the Reuters Media and Technology Summit in New York, June 11, 2012.While questions about CrowdStrike's findings don't disprove allegations of Russian involvement, they do add to skepticism voiced by some cybersecurity experts and commentators about the quality of their technical evidence.
The Russian government has denied covert involvement in the election, but U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian hacks were meant to discredit Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump's campaign. An FBI and Homeland Security report also blamed Russian intelligence services.
On Monday, FBI Director James Comey confirmed at a House Intelligence Committee hearing that his agency has an ongoing investigation into the hacks of Democratic campaign computers and into contacts between Russian operatives and Trump campaign associates. The White House says there was no collusion with Russia, and other U.S. officials have said they've found no proof.
Signature malware
VOA News first reported in December that sources close to the Ukraine military and the artillery app's creator questioned CrowdStrike's finding that a Russian-linked group it named ''Fancy Bear'' had hacked the app. CrowdStrike said it found a variant of the same ''X-Agent'' malware used to attack the Democrats.
FBI Director James Comey, left, and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign, March 20, 2017.CrowdStrike said the hack allowed Ukraine's enemies to locate its artillery units. As proof of its effectiveness, the report referenced publicly reported data in which IISS had sharply reduced its estimates of Ukrainian artillery assets. IISS, based in London, publishes a highly regarded, annual reference called ''The Military Balance'' that estimates the strength of world armed forces.
''Between July and August 2014, Russian-backed forces launched some of the most-decisive attacks against Ukrainian forces, resulting in significant loss of life, weaponry and territory,'' CrowdStrike wrote in its report, explaining that the hack compromised an app used to aim Soviet-era D-30 howitzers.
''Ukrainian artillery forces have lost over 50% of their weapons in the two years of conflict and over 80% of D-30 howitzers, the highest percentage of loss of any other artillery pieces in Ukraine's arsenal,'' the report said, crediting a Russian blogger who had cited figures from IISS.
The report prompted skepticism in Ukraine.
Yaroslav Sherstyuk, maker of the Ukrainian military app in question, called the company's report ''delusional'' in a Facebook post. CrowdStrike never contacted him before or after its report was published, he told VOA.
Pavlo Narozhnyy, a technical adviser to Ukraine's military, told VOA that while it was theoretically possible the howitzer app could have been compromised, any infection would have been spotted. ''I personally know hundreds of gunmen in the war zone,'' Narozhnyy told VOA in December. ''None of them told me of D-30 losses caused by hacking or any other reason.''
VOA first contacted IISS in February to verify the alleged artillery losses. Officials there initially were unaware of the CrowdStrike assertions. After investigating, they determined that CrowdStrike misinterpreted their data and hadn't reached out beforehand for comment or clarification.
In a statement to VOA, the institute flatly rejected the assertion of artillery combat losses.
''The CrowdStrike report uses our data, but the inferences and analysis drawn from that data belong solely to the report's authors,'' the IISS said. ''The inference they make that reductions in Ukrainian D-30 artillery holdings between 2013 and 2016 were primarily the result of combat losses is not a conclusion that we have ever suggested ourselves, nor one we believe to be accurate.''
One of the IISS researchers who produced the data said that while the think tank had dramatically lowered its estimates of Ukrainian artillery assets and howitzers in 2013, it did so as part of a ''reassessment'' and reallocation of units to airborne forces.
"No, we have never attributed this reduction to combat losses," the IISS researcher said, explaining that most of the reallocation occurred prior to the two-year period that CrowdStrike cites in its report.
''The vast majority of the reduction actually occurs ... before Crimea/Donbass,'' he added, referring to the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
'Evidence flimsy'
In early January, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense issued a statement saying artillery losses from the ongoing fighting with separatists are ''several times smaller than the number reported by [CrowdStrike] and are not associated with the specified cause'' of Russian hacking.
But Ukraine's denial did not get the same attention as CrowdStrike's report. Its release was widely covered by news media reports as further evidence of Russian hacking in the U.S. election.
In interviews, Alperovitch helped foster that impression by connecting the Ukraine and Democratic campaign hacks, which CrowdStrike said involved the same Russian-linked hacking group'--Fancy Bear'--and versions of X-Agent malware the group was known to use.
''The fact that they would be tracking and helping the Russian military kill Ukrainian army personnel in eastern Ukraine and also intervening in the U.S. election is quite chilling,'' Alperovitch said in a December 22 story by The Washington Post.
The same day, Alperovitch told the PBS NewsHour: ''And when you think about, well, who would be interested in targeting Ukraine artillerymen in eastern Ukraine? Who has interest in hacking the Democratic Party? [The] Russia government comes to mind, but specifically, [it's the] Russian military that would have operational [control] over forces in the Ukraine and would target these artillerymen.''
Alperovitch, a Russian expatriate and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council policy research center in Washington, co-founded CrowdStrike in 2011. The firm has employed two former FBI heavyweights: Shawn Henry, who oversaw global cyber investigations at the agency, and Steven Chabinsky, who was the agency's top cyber lawyer and served on an Obama White House cybersecurity commission in 2016. Chabinsky left CrowdStrike last year.
CrowdStrike declined to answer VOA's written questions about the Ukraine report, and Alperovitch canceled a March 15 interview on the topic. In a December statement to VOA's Ukrainian Service, spokeswoman Ilina Dimitrova defended the company's conclusions.
''It is indisputable that the [Ukraine artillery] app has been hacked by Fancy Bear malware,'' Dimitrova wrote. ''We have published the indicators to it, and they have been confirmed by others in the cybersecurity community.''
In its report last June attributing the Democratic hacks, CrowdStrike said it was long familiar with the methods used by Fancy Bear and another group with ties to Russian intelligence nicknamed Cozy Bear. Soon after, U.S. cybersecurity firms Fidelis and Mandiant endorsed CrowdStrike's conclusions. The FBI and Homeland Security report reached the same conclusion about the two groups.
Still, some cybersecurity experts are skeptical that the election and purported Ukraine hacks are connected. Among them is Jeffrey Carr, a cyberwarfare consultant who has lectured at the U.S. Army War College, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and other government agencies.
In a January post on LinkedIn, Carr called CrowdStrike's evidence in the Ukraine ''flimsy.'' He told VOA in an interview that CrowdStrike mistakenly assumed that the X-Agent malware employed in the hacks was a reliable fingerprint for Russian actors.
''We now know that's false,'' he said, ''and that the source code has been obtained by others outside of Russia."
This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Ukrainian Service.
BUGS!
Is cockroach milk back as a superfood trend? - CBS News
Sun, 27 May 2018 12:32
Food trends like cronuts and charcoal come and go, but one bizarre "superfood" is back, two years after it first debuted: Cockroach milk.
The pesky bug is actually filled with an energy-rich milk-like substance. It's not your typical non-dairy milk alternative like almond milk, but cockroach milk is gaining popularity once again, after coming to the forefront in 2016.
In 2016, a research team based at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in India said the "milk" from the Pacific beetle cockroach could make for the next great superfood. These cockroaches possess protein-rich crystals that lactate to feed their young.
This particular type of cockroach, which is usually found on Pacific islands like Hawaii, gives birth to their babies, as opposed to laying eggs. Their "milk" is made up of protein-infused crystals reported to have three times the energy of the equivalent mass of normal dairy milk.
"The crystals are like a complete food -- they have proteins, fats and sugars. If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids," Sanchari Banerjee, one of the main researchers, told the Times of India.
Perhaps now that it's 2018, people are more daring and willing to try this somewhat baffling milk alternative. Some companies are trying to get ahead of the trend by selling the bug juice in everything from milk to ice cream, WCBS reports. South African company Gourmet Grubb is selling what they call "Entomilk" -- a milk that comes from sustainably farmed insects.
"Think of Entomilk as a sustainable, nature-friendly, nutritious, lactose free, delicious, guilt-free dairy alternative of the future," the company says on its website. Gourmet Grubb says Entomilk has a high protein content and is rich in iron, zinc, and calcium.
Some scientists and cockroach milk producers admit that it may be hard to get people on the bandwagon, but that's not the only road block for cockroach milk. Besides for its unappealing name, cockroach milk is hard to come by. Roaches aren't the easiest creatures to milk, NPR reports.
It's also still unclear if cockroach milk is safe to consume. "We have no evidence that it is actually safe for human consumption," Subramanian Ramaswamy, the lead author of the study, said 2016.
So, even though some companies are developing the milk alternative now, there are many questions that have to be answered before it becomes a world wide trend.
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Dogs are People too
Former NY Banker - NY city 40 years
How Does Whistle 3 Work? | Whistle GPS Pet Tracker
Sun, 27 May 2018 14:21
Whistle 3 uses smart technology to track your pet's location and activity. You'll know more about your pet'--and more about what they need'--for a longer, happier life together. Setup Download the app. Connect to your Wi-Fi network. Follow along with easy instructions to set Places (home, lake house, etc) for your pet. Attach It's a snap! Attach Whistle 3 to your pet's collar. Twist on and off whenever you need to charge. Get Alerts Nice try, sneaky paws! Get text, email or app alerts if your pet gets out of their safe place. Rally the troops and tell them where to look. Track Best friends love to explore. Track your pet's movements anywhere in the U.S. with continual address and location updates on a GPS map to find them fast. Check Activity Tucked in or tuckered out? Check your pet's activity and know if they need a longer walk that day, based on personalized recommendations for their age, weight and breed. Explore
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Whistle 3 tech specs Dimensions Width - 1.45" Height - 1.82" Thickness - 0.61" Weight 0.92 oz Waterproof Rated IPX7 Battery Lasts up to 7 days. Battery life is impacted by the strength of your Wi-Fi and cellular coverage. Similar to your cell phone, it depends on usage as well as your environment. We will send you a notification when your battery needs to be charged, and a full recharge only takes 2 hours! Read more about battery life here. Attachment Attaches to any collar or harness up to 1" wide Compatibility Apple iOS 10.0 or later Android 5.0 or later Service & Product Requirement ' 3G service provided by AT&T ' You will be required to select a at activation ' Subscription plans range from $6.95-$9.95 per month ' Product requires one Wi-Fi network GPS ' Uses two satellite systems (GPS and GLONASS) ' Leverages local Wi-Fi and cell tower data Wi-Fi ' Can connect to multiple Wi-Fi networks (home, office, etc.) ' Data uploads via Wi-Fi when in range (extends battery life) ' Enables power save mode when in range of a Wi-Fi safe place ' Only 2.4 GHz networks are supported Bluetooth Uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) In The Box ' Whistle 3 GPS Pet Tracker & Activity Monitor ' Collar attachment (fits collars up to 1'' wide) ' USB charging cable ' Quickstart guide 90 days to play, risk freeGet peace of mind with our 90-day money back guarantee on Whistle 3 Pet Tracker. If you or your pet don't love it, we'll take it back and give you a full refund on the purchase price.
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#MeToo
Weinstein NOT handcuffed during perp-walk
Weinstein’s trial will be bigger than OJ of televised
Harvey Weinstein turns himself in on criminal charges - ABC News
Fri, 25 May 2018 14:07
Harvey Weinstein turned himself into police in New York City this morning to face criminal charges brought by the Manhattan District Attorney's office.
Interested in Harvey Weinstein? Add Harvey Weinstein as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Harvey Weinstein news, video, and analysis from ABC News.The disgraced movie producer was carrying three books, including Todd Purdum's "Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway Revolution," as he got out of a black SUV and walked past the swarm of TV cameras and reporters and through the front door of the New York Police Department's 1st Precinct in Manhattan.
He was subsequently arrested, processed and charged with rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct for alleged incidents involving two separate women, police said.
"The NYPD thanks these brave survivors for their courage to come forward and seek justice," the NYPD said in a statement. "The arrest and ensuing charges are the result of a joint investigation between the NYPD and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office."
Mike Segar/Reuters Film producer Harvey Weinstein arrives at the 1st Precinct in Manhattan in New York, May 25, 2018.Weinstein, 66, has been accused by dozens of women of sexual misconduct and has been investigated by the New York City Police Department, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, the New York Attorney General's Office, the Los Angeles Police Department and U.K. authorities. He has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.
The criminal sex act charge stems from an allegation brought by Lucia Evans, who has said Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex during what she thought would be a casting call. The rape charge stems from an allegation by a woman who has not been publicly identified.
Evans told Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker magazine last year that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2004.
Mike Segar/Reuters Film producer Harvey Weinstein arrives at the 1st Precinct in Manhattan in New York, May 25, 2018.Consequences for Weinstein were swift and severe. Immediately after the first allegations emerged last October, he was terminated by his production company and expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
His personal life imploded too. Weinstein's wife of more than a decade, Marchesa co-founder Georgina Chapman, announced that she was leaving him. Their divorce has yet to be finalized.
Mike Segar/Reuters Film producer Harvey Weinstein leaves the 1st Precinct in Manhattan in New York, May 25, 2018.In an interview today on ABC News' "Good Morning America" with co-anchor Robin Roberts, Farrow said Weinstein's arrest was preceded by "a lot of sleepless nights" for Evans and the other accusers he spoke with.
"When I first began speaking to Harvey Weinstein's accusers, they were correctly terrified, they feared retaliation, they feared for their physical safety," Farrow said. "And now we live in a universe in which it is conceivable that survivors speak on an issue like this about someone that powerful and they're heard.''
Lucas Jackson/Reuters Film producer Harvey Weinstein leaves the 1st Precinct in Manhattan in New York, May 25, 2018.Weinstein voluntarily returned to New York to turn himself in rather than waiting for police to arrest him on their terms, in an attempt at "controlling the circus," a source familiar with the matter told ABC News.
Weinstein's legal and public relations teams realized that, in the current social and political climate, he would be indicted and arrested despite his consistent denial of nonconsensual sex, two sources told ABC News.
Later this morning, Weinstein was escorted out of the 1st Precinct with a smile on his face and his hands cuffed behind his back. He was then transported in an unmarked SUV to the New York State Supreme Court Building in Manhattan.
ABC News' Josh Margolin, Kelly McCarthy and Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.
Charged With Rape, Harvey Weinstein Posts $1 Million Bail and Surrenders Passport
Fri, 25 May 2018 16:11
Mr. Weinstein was arrested on charges that he raped one woman and forced another to perform oral sex. Published On May 25, 2018 Credit Image by Todd Heisler/The New York Times Harvey Weinstein turned himself in to New York City detectives and appeared in court on Friday on charges that he raped one woman and forced another to perform oral sex, a watershed in a monthslong sex crimes investigation and in the #MeToo movement.
Around 7:30 a.m., Mr. Weinstein walked into a police station house in Lower Manhattan, flanked by several sex crimes detectives. Toting three large books under his right arm, he looked up without saying a word as a crush of reporters and onlookers yelled, ''Harvey!''
With camera shutters clicking and reporters shouting questions, the scene was a mirror image of the red carpets where Mr. Weinstein presided for decades as a movie mogul and king of Hollywood.
But after decades of harnessing his wealth and his influence in the movie industry to buy or coerce silence from women, and after withstanding an investigation into groping allegations three years ago, Mr. Weinstein's reign ended behind bars in a police holding cell on Friday morning.
He was fingerprinted and formally booked. Then about an hour later, he was led from the First Police Precinct in TriBeCa and taken to court on Centre Street to face rape charges, his arms pinned behind him in three sets of handcuffs to accommodate his girth, a law enforcement official said.
The books he carried into the station house '-- among them ''Elia Kazan: A Biography,'' by Richard Schickel, and ''Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway Revolution,'' by Todd S. Purdum '-- were gone and he was buckled into his seat in a waiting S.U.V.
Image Mr. Weinstein was escorted into a courthouse on Centre Street in Manhattan, where he was arraigned on first- and third-degree rape charges and first-degree criminal sex act. His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said Mr. Weinstein will plead not guilty to all charges. Credit Hilary Swift for The New York Times Around 9:25 a.m., Mr. Weinstein was escorted into a courtroom in Manhattan Criminal Court by two police investigators, one holding each of his elbows. They were Sergeant Keri Thompson and Detective Nicholas DiGuadio from the department's Special Victims Division, both of whom have long been involved in tracking down Mr. Weinstein's accusers and corroborating their accounts.
At the beginning of a brief appearance before Judge Kevin McGrath, Mr. Weinstein, his arms still handcuffed, was led up to the bench.
Joan Illuzzi, the lead prosecutor on the case, read the charges against him: first-degree rape and third-degree rape in one case, and first-degree criminal sex act in another.
The criminal sex act charge stems from an encounter with Lucia Evans, who told The New Yorker and then investigators from the Manhattan district attorney's office that Mr. Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him during what she expected would be a casting meeting at the Miramax office in TriBeCa in 2004.
The victim in the rape case has not been publicly identified, but the Manhattan district attorney's office said the attack happened in 2013. Ms. Illuzzi said the charges resulted from ''months of investigation.''
''That investigation,'' she continued, ''has shown that this defendant used his money, power and position to lure young women into situations where he was able to violate them sexually.''
Ms. Illuzzi said the investigation was continuing and asked Judge McGrath to issue an order protection against Mr. Weinstein on behalf of one of the women, though Ms. Illuzzi did not name her.
Image Mr. Weinstein, center, was released on $1 million bail after his arraignment. His lawyer, Mr. Brafman, left, said the former movie producer will plead not guilty. ''Mr. Weinstein has always maintained that any sexual activity he engaged in was consensual,'' he said. Credit Pool photo by Jefferson Siegel Mr. Weinstein remained silent throughout the 10-minute proceeding. He was not required to enter a plea because he was arrested on a criminal complaint, rather than an indictment. But his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said after the hearing that Mr. Weinstein planned to enter a plea of not guilty if he is indicted. Mr. Weinstein will have to decide by Wednesday whether or not he plans to testify in front of the grand jury that is continuing to investigate his case.
Mr. Brafman said he would ''move quickly'' to dismiss the charges, calling them ''constitutionally flawed and factually unsubstantiated.''
''I anticipate that the women who have made these allegations, when subjected to cross-examination '-- in the event we get that far '-- will not be believed by 12 people,'' Mr. Brafman said. He continued, ''Assuming we get 12 fair people who are not consumed by the movement that seems to have overtaken this case.''
Mr. Brafman also drew a distinction between bad conduct and criminal conduct.
''My job is not to defend behavior '-- my job is to defend criminal behavior,'' he said. ''Mr. Weinstein did not create the casting couch in Hollywood.''
As the hearing came to an end, Mr. Brafman handed Mr. Weinstein's passport to Ms. Illuzzi and said he was ready to present a $1 million cashier's check to pay Mr. Weinstein's bail.
While reporters waited for Mr. Brafman to make remarks, Mr. Weinstein slipped out of an employee door at the back of the courthouse just before 10 a.m. and then climbed into a waiting Toyota.
The charges follow a wave of accusations against him that led women around the world, some of them famous and many of them not, to come forward with accounts of being sexually harassed and assaulted by powerful men. Those stories spawned the global #MeToo movement, and since then, the ground has shifted beneath men who for years benefited from a code of silence around their predatory behavior.
Image Mr. Brafman spoke after Mr. Weinstein's arraignment. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times Mr. Weinstein has been accused of sexually harassing and assaulting movie stars and employees of his former namesake company over the course of decades.
Mr. Weinstein reigned as one of Hollywood's top producers, known as much for his bullying and aggression as for his cinematic success. Over the years, journalists and investigators, chasing leads from a whisper network of women and a handful of complainants, tried to expose the accusations and hold him accountable, but came up empty. Mr. Weinstein's power was enormous, his and his lawyers' connections were extensive, and he was often able to buy or coerce the silence of any accusers.
Revelations in The New York Times and The New Yorker in the fall spurred official inquiries in New York, Los Angeles and London.
Prosecutors in the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., conducted dozens of interviews in New York and elsewhere and issued hundreds of subpoenas, and their inquiry is not over. An investigative grand jury, still convened, will look into other sexual assault allegations against Mr. Weinstein as well as possible financial crimes relating to how he paid women to stay silent, people familiar with the proceedings said. Among other things, the grand jury is delving into whether Mr. Weinstein used employees of his former production company to identify women for him to assault, to set up meetings with the women or to discredit them if they complained.
The First Police Precinct station house, where Mr. Weinstein was arrested, was not unfamiliar to him. . Three years ago, after an Italian model, Ambra Battilana, accused Mr. Weinstein of groping her during a meeting in his office, she spoke to detectives at the same station house, on Varick Street. While she was there, Mr. Weinstein called her and set up a meeting for the following day.
With detectives watching and recording, Mr. Weinstein and Ms. Battilana met at the TriBeCa Grand, where Mr. Weinstein acknowledged he had touched her breasts and promised not to do so again. But he was not asked about putting his hand up Ms. Battilana's skirt as she had alleged. Detectives took Mr. Weinstein to the First Police Precinct for questioning, but as soon as the groping allegation came up, he halted the interview and asked for a lawyer, the police said.
The Manhattan district attorney's office decided not to charge him in the case.
Al Baker, Nate Schweber and Sean Piccoli contributed reporting.
Morgan Freeman On Accusations: ''I Apologize To Anyone Who Felt Uncomfortable Or Disrespected'' '' Deadline
Thu, 24 May 2018 20:08
Morgan Freeman, who has been accused by multiple women of inappropriate behavior or harassment on set, at his production company and/or while marketing his movies, issued a brief statement of apology this morning, saying, ''Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected '-- that was never my intent.''
The allegations against him, first reported by CNN, include everything from unwanted touching to inappropriate comments to asking a woman if she was wearing underwear. The only woman on the record was Freeman's company co-founder, Lori McCreary, who allegedly witnessed one of the incidents.
The news about the 80 year-old actor, who was honored with the Screen Actors Guild lifetime achievement award in January, comes as the thesp is involved in roughly five high-profile and indie films around town, including Angel Has Fallen (the next installment of Olympus Has Fallen) and Disney and the Mark Gordon Co.'s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms which doesn't release until November.
Besides playing God in two films, Freeman has also done voiceover or has been a spokesman for a number of companies over the years, including Turkish Airlines, Mountain Dew and was to be the voice on the of the transit system SkyTrain in Canada this summer for VISA. He was also the voice for one of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign ads in 2016.
The Transit system was the first to step back from Freeman (see related story here), but we don't expect them to be the last.
For Corporate America, pacting with individuals to represent their brand is a known risk they are often willing to take. But companies have backed away from using real people or celebs in past to protect their brand and, instead, use animated spokespeople for this very reason: an unforeseen controversy where they will have to spend heavily to redo marketing campaigns.
Space Wars
FCC and Satellites
Hey Adam,
(If you read any of this on the show, please don't use my
name. The industry is very small and I would get calls/emails.)
We've been back and forth a bit in the past about
satellites. I worked for a satellite company that has 50+ satellites in space
right now - all about the size of a bottle of wine. Satellites in our form
factor are called CubeSats. It's actually an open standard. Anyone can build
one and get it launched provided that they have the money and license. Our
satellites are "3U" meaning they are 3 10cm units in size.
Standard: http://www.cubesat.org
The FCC controls the spectrum by which you communicate with
your satellites within the US. People forget that unless satellites satellites
are in GEO, they will orbit the ENTIRE planet and fly over multiple countries.
If you are a US company or want to use US airwaves to communicate with your
satellites (plus a whole bunch of other reasons), you have to go through the
FCC for a license.
When you file a license, the FCC checks with the folks at
other agencies like NORAD to make sure you're not filing a flight plan that
aims you at other satellites. Believe it or not, NORAD can track essentially
every object 10cm or larger in space around the planet. If anyone
objects, you don't get a license - which means you don't get to legally
communicate with your satellites so there is no point in launching it.
HOWEVER! There has never been much enforcement because most
companies don't risk it. You're risking jail time, fines in the millions of
dollars, etc. Not to mention becoming an industry pariah. It's like how not
having a driver's license doesn't stop someone from operating a vehicle.
Well, SWARM was told that their satellite (which when in
orbit would intentionally break itself into smaller pieces) was too small to be
tracked and shouldn't be launched - therefore wouldn't receive a license until
they could find a way to make their satellites trackable.
They ignored the FCC and launched anyways knowing that no
one would check (or lying when they did). This incident has set the industry
back 5-10 years in terms of goodwill with regulators. To make matters worse,
they piggybacked on an Indian rocket which is already a huge (and stupid
debate) in Washington. The military industrial complex has been looking for any
reason at all to stop US companies from using foreign launch vehicles. It's bad
enough that they have to compete with this stupid SpaceX thing.
Most of us in the industry feel pretty similarly towards
SWARM. Their actions have had a negative effect on an industry that has had to
string together small win after small win against a military industrial
complex, prove themselves to investors, and spend years developing fragile
relationships with governments (who, like it or not, control space). I am on
the record with coworkers that if someone from SWARM shows up to one of our company
sponsored events, they are shown the door. They acted disgracefully and (had
they been released in a higher orbit) could have potentially created a large
scale debris problem. Cleaning up space isn't easy (or even possible right now)
and apparently neither is cleaning up Silicon Valley.
CYBER!
FBI warns Russians hacked hundreds of thousands of routers | Reuters
Fri, 25 May 2018 23:03
(Reuters) - The FBI warned on Friday that Russian computer hackers had compromised hundreds of thousands of home and office routers and could collect user information or shut down network traffic.
FILE PHOTO: A man types on a computer keyboard in front of the displayed cyber code in this illustration picture taken on March 1, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration The U.S. law enforcement agency urged the owners of many brands of routers to turn them off and on again and download updates from the manufacturer to protect themselves.
The warning followed a court order Wednesday that allowed the FBI to seize a website that the hackers planned to use to give instructions to the routers. Though that cut off malicious communications, it still left the routers infected, and Friday's warning was aimed at cleaning up those machines.
Infections were detected in more than 50 countries, though the primary target for further actions was probably Ukraine, the site of many recent infections and a longtime cyberwarfare battleground.
In obtaining the court order, the Justice Department said the hackers involved were in a group called Sofacy that answered to the Russian government.
Sofacy, also known as APT28 and Fancy Bear, has been blamed for many of the most dramatic Russian hacks, including that of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
Earlier, Cisco Systems Inc said the hacking campaign targeted devices from Belkin International's Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear Inc, TP-Link and QNAP.
An FBI official told Reuters that the kinds of devices known to be affected by the hack were purchased by users at electronic stores or online.
However, the FBI was not ruling out the possibility that routers provided to customers by internet service companies could also be affected, the official added.
Cisco shared the technical details of its investigation with the U.S. and Ukrainian governments. Western experts say Russia has conducted a series of attacks against companies in Ukraine for more than a year amid armed hostilities between the two countries, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and at least one electricity blackout.
The Kremlin on Thursday denied the Ukrainian government's accusation that Russia was planning a cyber attack on Ukrainian state bodies and private companies ahead of the Champions League soccer final in Kiev on Saturday.
''The size and scope of the infrastructure by VPNFilter malware is significant,'' the FBI said, adding that it is capable of rendering peoples' routers ''inoperable.''
It said the malware is hard to detect, due to encryption and other tactics.
The FBI urged people to reboot their devices to temporarily disrupt the malware and help identify infected devices.
People should also consider disabling remote-management settings, changing passwords and upgrading to the latest firmware.
Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch in Washington and Joseph Menn in San Francisco; Editing by David Gregorio
Rebooting might actually activate the malware??
Cisco's Talos Intelligence Group Blog: New VPNFilter malware targets at least 500K networking devices worldwide
Sun, 27 May 2018 14:08
IntroFor several months, Talos has been working with public- and private-sector threat intelligence partners and law enforcement in researching an advanced, likely state-sponsored or state-affiliated actor's widespread use of a sophisticated modular malware system we call "VPNFilter." We have not completed our research, but recent events have convinced us that the correct way forward is to now share our findings so that affected parties can take the appropriate action to defend themselves. In particular, the code of this malware overlaps with versions of the BlackEnergy malware '-- which was responsible for multiple large-scale attacks that targeted devices in Ukraine. While this isn't definitive by any means, we have also observed VPNFilter, a potentially destructive malware, actively infecting Ukrainian hosts at an alarming rate, utilizing a command and control (C2) infrastructure dedicated to that country. Weighing these factors together, we felt it was best to publish our findings so far prior to completing our research. Publishing early means that we don't yet have all the answers '-- we may not even have all the questions '-- so this blog represents our findings as of today, and we will update our findings as we continue our investigation.
Both the scale and the capability of this operation are concerning. Working with our partners, we estimate the number of infected devices to be at least 500,000 in at least 54 countries. The known devices affected by VPNFilter are Linksys, MikroTik, NETGEAR and TP-Link networking equipment in the small and home office (SOHO) space, as well at QNAP network-attached storage (NAS) devices. No other vendors, including Cisco, have been observed as infected by VPNFilter, but our research continues. The behavior of this malware on networking equipment is particularly concerning, as components of the VPNFilter malware allows for theft of website credentials and monitoring of Modbus SCADA protocols. Lastly, the malware has a destructive capability that can render an infected device unusable, which can be triggered on individual victim machines or en masse, and has the potential of cutting off internet access for hundreds of thousands of victims worldwide.
The type of devices targeted by this actor are difficult to defend. They are frequently on the perimeter of the network, with no intrusion protection system (IPS) in place, and typically do not have an available host-based protection system such as an anti-virus (AV) package. We are unsure of the particular exploit used in any given case, but most devices targeted, particularly in older versions, have known public exploits or default credentials that make compromise relatively straightforward. All of this has contributed to the quiet growth of this threat since at least 2016.
This post provides the technical findings you would normally see in a Talos blog. In addition, we will detail some thoughts on the tradecraft behind this threat, using our findings and the background of our analysts, to discuss the possible thought process and decisions made by the actor. We will also discuss how to defend against this threat and how to handle a device that may be infected. Finally, we will share the IOCs that we have observed to this point, although we are confident there are more that we have not seen.
Brief technical breakdown
The VPNFilter malware is a multi-stage, modular platform with versatile capabilities to support both intelligence-collection and destructive cyber attack operations.
The stage 1 malware persists through a reboot, which sets it apart from most other malware that targets internet-of-things devices because malware normally does not survive a reboot of the device. The main purpose of stage 1 is to gain a persistent foothold and enable the deployment of the stage 2 malware. Stage 1 utilizes multiple redundant command and control (C2) mechanisms to discover the IP address of the current stage 2 deployment server, making this malware extremely robust and capable of dealing with unpredictable C2 infrastructure changes.
The stage 2 malware, which does not persist through a reboot, possesses capabilities that we have come to expect in a workhorse intelligence-collection platform, such as file collection, command execution, data exfiltration and device management. However, some versions of stage 2 also possess a self-destruct capability that overwrites a critical portion of the device's firmware and reboots the device, rendering it unusable. Based on the actor's demonstrated knowledge of these devices, and the existing capability in some stage 2 versions, we assess with high confidence that the actor could deploy this self-destruct command to most devices that it controls, regardless of whether the command is built into the stage 2 malware.
In addition, there are multiple stage 3 modules that serve as plugins for the stage 2 malware. These plugins provide stage 2 with additional functionality. As of this writing, we are aware of two plugin modules: a packet sniffer for collecting traffic that passes through the device, including theft of website credentials and monitoring of Modbus SCADA protocols, and a communications module that allows stage 2 to communicate over Tor. We assess with high confidence that several other plugin modules exist, but we have yet to discover them.
Tradecraft discussionWe assess with high confidence that this malware is used to create an expansive, hard-to-attribute infrastructure that can be used to serve multiple operational needs of the threat actor. Since the affected devices are legitimately owned by businesses or individuals, malicious activity conducted from infected devices could be mistakenly attributed to those who were actually victims of the actor. The capabilities built into the various stages and plugins of the malware are extremely versatile and would enable the actor to take advantage of devices in multiple ways.
Advanced threat actors, including nation-states, will try to make attribution of their cyber activities extremely difficult, unless it is in their interest for it to be openly known that they conducted a specific act. To this end, advanced threat actors use multiple techniques, including co-opting infrastructure owned by someone else to conduct their operations. The actor could easily use devices infected with this malware as hop points before connecting to their final victim in order to obfuscate their true point of origin.
The malware can also be leveraged to collect data that flows through the device. This could be for straightforward data-collection purposes, or to assess the potential value of the network that the device serves. If the network was deemed as having information of potential interest to the threat actor, they may choose to continue collecting content that passes through the device or to propagate into the connected network for data collection. At the time of this posting, we have not been able to acquire a third-stage plugin that would enable further exploitation of the network served by the device. However, we have seen indications that it does exist, and we assess that it is highly likely that such an advanced actor would naturally include that capability in malware that is this modular.
Finally, this malware could be used to conduct a large-scale destructive attack by using the "kill" command, which would render some or all of the physical devices unusable. This command is present in many of the stage 2 samples we've observed, but could also be triggered by utilizing the "exec" command available in all stage 2 samples. In most cases, this action is unrecoverable by most victims, requiring technical capabilities, know-how, or tools that no consumer should be expected to have. We are deeply concerned about this capability, and it is one of the driving reasons we have been quietly researching this threat over the past few months.
Observed activities of concern
As we have researched this threat, we have put into place monitoring and scanning to gain an understanding of the scope of this threat and the behaviors of infected devices. Our analysis has shown that this is a global, broadly deployed threat that is actively seeking to increase its footprint. While our research continues, we have also observed activity potentially associated with this actor that indicates possible data exfiltration activity.
In early May, we observed infected devices conducting TCP scans on ports 23, 80, 2000 and 8080. These ports are indicative of scanning for additional Mikrotik and QNAP NAS devices, which can be found using these ports. These scans targeted devices in more than 100 countries.
We also used our telemetry to discover potentially infected devices globally. We evaluated their collective behavior to try and identify additional features of the C2 infrastructure. Many of these victim IPs appeared to demonstrate behavior that strongly indicated data exfiltration.
Finally, on May 8, we observed a sharp spike in VPNFilter infection activity. Almost all of the newly acquired victims were located in Ukraine. Also of note, a majority of Ukrainian infections shared a separate stage 2 C2 infrastructure from the rest of the world, on IP 46.151.209[.]33. By this point, we were aware of the code overlap between BlackEnergy and VPNFilter and that the timing of previous attacks in Ukraine suggested that an attack could be imminent. Given each of these factors, and in consultation with our partners, we immediately began the process to go public before completing our research.
As we continued to move forward with the public disclosure, we observed another substantial increase in newly acquired VPNFilter victims focused in Ukraine on May 17. This continued to drive our decision to publish our research as soon as possible.
Diagram 1. New observed VPNFilter infections over time Defending against this threat
Defending against this threat is extremely difficult due to the nature of the affected devices. The majority of them are connected directly to the internet, with no security devices or services between them and the potential attackers. This challenge is augmented by the fact that most of the affected devices have publicly known vulnerabilities which are not convenient for the average user to patch. Additionally, most have no built-in anti-malware capabilities. These three facts together make this threat extremely hard to counter, resulting in extremely limited opportunities to interdict malware, remove vulnerabilities, or block threats.
Despite these challenges, Talos has released protections for this threat from multiple angles, to try to take advantage of the limited options that exist. We developed and deployed more than 100 Snort signatures for the publicly known vulnerabilities for the devices that are associated with this threat. These rules have been deployed in the public Snort set, and can be used by anyone to help defend their devices. In addition, we have done the usual blacklisting of domains/IPs as appropriate and convicting of the hashes associated with this threat to cover those who are protected by the Cisco Security ecosystem. We have reached out to Linksys, Mikrotik, Netgear, TP-Link and QNAP regarding this issue. (Note: QNAP has been aware of certain aspects of VPNFilter and previously done work to counter the threat.) Finally, we have also shared these indicators and our research with international law enforcement and our fellow members of the Cyber Threat Alliance in advance of this publication so they could move quickly to help counter this threat more broadly.
Recommendations
We recommend that:
Users of SOHO routers and/or NAS devices reset them to factory defaults and reboot them in order to remove the potentially destructive, non-persistent stage 2 and stage 3 malware. Internet service providers that provide SOHO routers to their users reboot the routers on their customers' behalf. If you have any of the devices known or suspected to be affected by this threat, it is extremely important that you work with the manufacturer to ensure that your device is up to date with the latest patch versions. If not, you should apply the updated patches immediately.ISPs work aggressively with their customers to ensure their devices are patched to the most recent firmware/software versions.Due to the potential for destructive action by the threat actor, we recommend out of an abundance of caution that these actions be taken for all SOHO or NAS devices, whether or not they are known to be affected by this threat.
Multi-Stage Technical Details
Exploitation
At the time of this publication, we do not have definitive proof on how the threat actor is exploiting the affected devices. However, all of the affected makes/models that we have uncovered had well-known, public vulnerabilities. Since advanced threat actors tend to only use the minimum resources necessary to accomplish their goals, we assess with high confidence that VPNFilter required no zero-day exploitation techniques.
Stage 1 (persistent loader)
VPNFilter's stage 1 malware infects devices running firmware based on Busybox and Linux, and is compiled for several CPU architectures. The main purpose of these first-stage binaries is to locate a server providing a more fully featured second stage, and to download and maintain persistence for this next stage on infected devices. It is capable of modifying non-volatile configuration memory (NVRAM) values and adds itself to crontab, the Linux job scheduler, to achieve persistence. This is a departure from previous IoT malware, like Mirai, which is ephemeral and disappears with a simple device reboot.
Talos analyzed samples for MIPS and x86 processors. The C2 communication and additional malware downloads occur over Tor or SSL-encrypted connections. While the binaries themselves are not obfuscated beyond being stripped, some strings are stored in an encrypted form, and are only decrypted at runtime. The decryption routine looked suspiciously similar to RC4 in the static analysis, but it looks like the malware authors got the initialization of the S-boxes wrong. During the permutation step, values are XOR'd, but not swapped. Analysis of this RC4 implementation shows that it is identical to the implementation used in BlackEnergy, which is believed by law enforcement agencies to originate with a state actor.
The RC4 initialization XORs the values in the permutation phase of the internal state initialization. As you can see in the last basic block, the code doesn't swap the values of S[i] and S[j] (compared to the RC4 pseudo code below).
Once the malware has completed initialization, it starts to download pages from the seed URLs. In the MIPS sample cache and all but one URL of the x86 sample, the URLs pointed to Photobucket.com, an image-sharing host. The malware downloads the first image from the gallery the URL is referencing, and then proceeds to extract the download server's IP address. The IP address is extracted from six integer values for GPS latitude and longitude in the EXIF information.
If stage 1 fails to connect to, download an image from, or successfully acquire an IP address via an image from Photobucket, the malware reaches out to a backup domain, toknowall[.]com, to download an image and attempt the same process.
If the attempt to the backup domain fails, stage 1 opens a listener that waits for a specific trigger packet to open a connection for the actor to connect interactively to the device. When the listener opens, it checks its public IP from api.ipify[.]org and stores it for later comparison. Then, when any packet arrives on any port, the listener performs a series of checks to identify a trigger packet. If the packet meets a predefined set of criteria, it will extract an IP address from the packet and attempt a stage 2 download.
Listener actions:Inspects all TCP/IPv4 packets with a SYN flag setChecks that the destination IP matches what it found when the listener opened (Note: if the listener failed to get an IP from api.ipify[.]org it will skip this check)Makes sure the packet has eight or more bytesScans the data for the bytes \x0c\x15\x22\x2bThe bytes directly after that 4-byte marker are interpreted as an IP so \x01\x02\x03\x04 becomes -> 1.2.3[.]4Calls out to the newly received IP as usual for stage 2Confirms that stage 2 is at least 1,001 bytes (Note: this is much smaller than the other callout methods which require the stage 2 to be 100,000 or more)
Stage 2 (non-persistent)
The stage 2 malware first sets up the working environment by creating a modules folder (/var/run/vpnfilterm) and a working directory (/var/run/vpnfilterw). Afterward, it will run in a loop, where it first reaches out to a C2 server, and then executes commands retrieved from the C2. The command names are encrypted with the same broken RC4 function as in stage 1. Fortunately, older versions of x86 stage 2 sample were very verbose, and debug printed all the steps it performed. Newer versions of the x86 stage 2 did not contain the debug prints, nor did the MIPS sample.
The x86 sample can perform the following operations:
kill: Overwrites the first 5,000 bytes of /dev/mtdblock0 with zeros, and reboots the device (effectively bricking it).exec: Executes a shell command or plugin.tor: Sets the Tor configuration flag (0 or 1).copy: Copies a file from the client to the server.seturl: Sets the URL of the current configuration panel.proxy: Sets the current proxy URL.port: Sets the current proxy port.delay: Sets the delay between main loop executions.reboot: Reboots the device if it has been up for more than 256 seconds, and the build name is specified in the parameter.download: Downloads a URL to a file. This can be applied to all devices or just a certain build name.The MIPS sample has the following additional operations:
stop: Terminate the malware process.relay: A misspelled version of the `delay` command from the x86 version.Until the Tor module is installed, stage 2 will use one or more IPs stored in its configuration as SOCKS5 proxies to Tor and attempt to communicate with a control panel also found in its configuration. Like in stage 1, the communication between the malware and the proxy will connect over a verified SSL connection. When the Tor module is installed, it will connect to .onion domains through the local SOCKS5 proxy provided by the module over plain HTTP instead. We used a fake SOCKS5 proxy, which redirects all traffic to INetSim for analysis.
An example request from the malware to the server:
{
"uq":"px(01:02:03:04:05:06)",
"pv":"pPRXi686QNAPX86",
"ad":"10.0.0.1",
"bv":"0.11.1a/0.3.9qa",
"nn":"YnVpbGRyb290",
"tn":"",
"on":"1"
}
The malware encodes this request into a JSON object, which is then base64-encoded and sent to the path /bin32/update.php in the HTTP POST parameter "me". The user agent used in the request is peculiar (Mozilla/6.1 (compatible; MSIE 9.0; Windows NT 5.3; Trident/5.0)), as a version "Windows NT 5.3" doesn't exist.
uq: A unique ID for the infected device (the MAC address of the malware's network interface).pv: The platform version the malware is running onad: The public IP address of the malware's devicebv: Version of the stage 1 loader (0.3.9qa) and the stage 2 binary (0.11.1a)nn: The node nametn: The Tor flagon: The onion flagThe server's response to the message:
{
"tr":3060,
"pxs":["217.12.202.40","94.242.222.68","91.121.109.209"],
"tor":"tor 1",
"mds":[]
}
tr: Sets the delay for the main loop.pxs: List of panels to connect to. These are the C2 servers.tor: Sets the name and version of the Tor module.mds: A list of modules to fetch. Each entry is in the format "<command_id> <module_id> <module_name> <module_args (base64-encoded)>". The malware will download the module from /bin32/update.php by setting the POST form parameter me to the module name with the architecture appended, e.g., tor_i686 for the Tor module, and execute it in each iteration. A blank list of commands (as in the example response above) will clear any existing commands by deactivating them and killing any running processes associated with them.Stage 3 (non-persistent)
We have analyzed two plugin modules for the malware, a packet sniffer and a communication plugin that allows the malware to communicate over Tor. We assess with high confidence that there are likely several more that we have not yet discovered. Among the initial samples Talos acquired, there was a plugin for the MIPS stage 2, which is a packet sniffer. It intercepts all network traffic through a raw socket and looks for strings used in HTTP basic authentications. Further, it specifically tracks Modbus TCP/IP packets. The resulting log file is placed in the stage 2 working directory, /var/run/vpnfilterw. This allows the attackers to understand, capture, and track the traffic flowing through the device.
The Tor plugin module is partially linked into stage 2, but has a separate Tor executable, which is downloaded to /var/run/tor and run in a process separate from stage 2. The Tor binary looks like the standard Tor client, in the form of a statically linked and stripped binary. It creates a configuration file in /var/run/torrc and a working directory in /var/run/tord.
Conclusion
VPNFilter is an expansive, robust, highly capable, and dangerous threat that targets devices that are challenging to defend. Its highly modular framework allows for rapid changes to the actor's operational infrastructure, serving their goals of misattribution, intelligence collection, and finding a platform to conduct attacks.
The destructive capability particularly concerns us. This shows that the actor is willing to burn users' devices to cover up their tracks, going much further than simply removing traces of the malware. If it suited their goals, this command could be executed on a broad scale, potentially rendering hundreds of thousands of devices unusable, disabling internet access for hundreds of thousands of victims worldwide or in a focused region where it suited the actor's purposes.
While the threat to IoT devices is nothing new, the fact that these devices are being used by advanced nation-state actors to conduct cyber operations, which could potentially result in the destruction of the device, has greatly increased the urgency of dealing with this issue. We call on the entire security community to join us in aggressively countering this threat.
We will continue to monitor VPNFilter and work with our partners to understand the threat as it continues to evolve in order to ensure that our customers remain protected and the public is informed.
IOCs
As stated previously, we highly suspect that there are additional IOCs and versions of this malware that we are not currently aware of. The following list of IOCs comprises what we know as of this date.
Known C2 Domains and IPs
Associated with the 1st Stage
photobucket[.]com/user/nikkireed11/library
photobucket[.]com/user/kmila302/library
photobucket[.]com/user/lisabraun87/library
photobucket[.]com/user/eva_green1/library
photobucket[.]com/user/monicabelci4/library
photobucket[.]com/user/katyperry45/library
photobucket[.]com/user/saragray1/library
photobucket[.]com/user/millerfred/library
photobucket[.]com/user/jeniferaniston1/library
photobucket[.]com/user/amandaseyfried1/library
photobucket[.]com/user/suwe8/library
photobucket[.]com/user/bob7301/library
toknowall[.]com
Associated with the 2nd Stage
91.121.109[.]209
217.12.202[.]40
94.242.222[.]68
82.118.242[.]124
46.151.209[.]33
217.79.179[.]14
91.214.203[.]144
95.211.198[.]231
195.154.180[.]60
5.149.250[.]54
91.200.13[.]76
94.185.80[.]82
62.210.180[.]229
zuh3vcyskd4gipkm[.]onion/bin32/update.php
Known File Hashes
1st Stage Malware
50ac4fcd3fbc8abcaa766449841b3a0a684b3e217fc40935f1ac22c34c58a9ec
0e0094d9bd396a6594da8e21911a3982cd737b445f591581560d766755097d92
2nd Stage Malware
9683b04123d7e9fe4c8c26c69b09c2233f7e1440f828837422ce330040782d17
d6097e942dd0fdc1fb28ec1814780e6ecc169ec6d24f9954e71954eedbc4c70e
4b03288e9e44d214426a02327223b5e516b1ea29ce72fa25a2fcef9aa65c4b0b
9eb6c779dbad1b717caa462d8e040852759436ed79cc2172692339bc62432387
37e29b0ea7a9b97597385a12f525e13c3a7d02ba4161a6946f2a7d978cc045b4
776cb9a7a9f5afbaffdd4dbd052c6420030b2c7c3058c1455e0a79df0e6f7a1d
8a20dc9538d639623878a3d3d18d88da8b635ea52e5e2d0c2cce4a8c5a703db1
0649fda8888d701eb2f91e6e0a05a2e2be714f564497c44a3813082ef8ff250b
3rd Stage Plugins
f8286e29faa67ec765ae0244862f6b7914fcdde10423f96595cb84ad5cc6b344
afd281639e26a717aead65b1886f98d6d6c258736016023b4e59de30b7348719
Self-Signed Certificate Fingerprints
d113ce61ab1e4bfcb32fb3c53bd3cdeee81108d02d3886f6e2286e0b6a006747
c52b3901a26df1680acbfb9e6184b321f0b22dd6c4bb107e5e071553d375c851
f372ebe8277b78d50c5600d0e2af3fe29b1e04b5435a7149f04edd165743c16d
be4715b029cbd3f8e2f37bc525005b2cb9cad977117a26fac94339a721e3f2a5
27af4b890db1a611d0054d5d4a7d9a36c9f52dffeb67a053be9ea03a495a9302
110da84f31e7868ad741bcb0d9f7771a0bb39c44785055e6da0ecc393598adc8
fb47ba27dceea486aab7a0f8ec5674332ca1f6af962a1724df89d658d470348f
b25336c2dd388459dec37fa8d0467cf2ac3c81a272176128338a2c1d7c083c78
cd75d3a70e3218688bdd23a0f618add964603736f7c899265b1d8386b9902526
110da84f31e7868ad741bcb0d9f7771a0bb39c44785055e6da0ecc393598adc8
909cf80d3ef4c52abc95d286df8d218462739889b6be4762a1d2fac1adb2ec2b
044bfa11ea91b5559f7502c3a504b19ee3c555e95907a98508825b4aa56294e4
c0f8bde03df3dec6e43b327378777ebc35d9ea8cfe39628f79f20b1c40c1b412
8f1d0cd5dd6585c3d5d478e18a85e7109c8a88489c46987621e01d21fab5095d
d5dec646c957305d91303a1d7931b30e7fb2f38d54a1102e14fd7a4b9f6e0806
c0f8bde03df3dec6e43b327378777ebc35d9ea8cfe39628f79f20b1c40c1b412
Known Affected DevicesThe following devices are known to be affected by this threat. Based on the scale of this research, much of our observations are remote and not on the device, so it is difficult to determine specific version numbers and models in many cases. It should be noted that all of these devices have publicly known vulnerabilities associated with them.
Given our observations with this threat, we assess with high confidence that this list is incomplete and other devices could be affected.
Linksys Devices:
E1200
E2500
WRVS4400N
Mikrotik RouterOS Versions for Cloud Core Routers:
1016
1037
1072
Netgear Devices:
DGN2200
R6400
R7000
R8000
WNR1000
WNR2000
QNAP Devices:
TS251
TS439 Pro
Other QNAP NAS devices running QTS software
TP-Link Devices:R600VPN
Coverage
Cisco customers are protected by this threat by Cisco Advanced Malware Protection (AMP), Cloud Web Security (CWS), Network Security, ThreatGrid, Umbrella, and Web Security Appliance (WSA). Additionally, StealthWatch and StealthWatch Cloud can be utilized to find devices communicating with the known C2 IP addresses and domains.
In StealthWatch, two items need to be configured to send an alert that there are communications to nefarious IP addresses.
The first step is to create a new Host Group named "VPNFilter C2" under Outside Hosts using the Java user interface. Once this is created, you will likely want to validate that there are no active communications presently occurring. This validation can be achieved by right-clicking on the recently created "VPNFilter C2" Host Group and navigating to Top -> Conversations -> Total. Once you are viewing these top conversations, you will easily be able to see if there is active traffic. In the event that there is no active traffic, an alarm can be created to generate alerts in the event that traffic to or from any of the "VPNFilter C2" hosts is observed. This alarm can be configured by creating a custom event and selecting the appropriate hosts or objects in the web user interface.
VPNFilter specific Snort detection:
45563 45564 46782 46783
Snort rules that protect against known vulnerabilities in affected devices:
25589 26276 26277 26278 26279 29830 29831 44743 46080 46081 46082 46083 46084 46085 46086 46287 46121 46122 46123 46124 41445 44971 46297 46298 46299 46300 46301 46305 46306 46307 46308 46309 46310 46315 46335 46340 46341 46342 46376 46377 37963 45555 46076 40063 44643 44790 26275 35734 41095 41096 41504 41698 41699 41700 41748 41749 41750 41751 44687 44688 44698 44699 45001 46312 46313 46314 46317 46318 46322 46323 40866 40907 45157
ClamAV Signatures:
Unix.Trojan.Vpnfilter-6425811-0
Unix.Trojan.Vpnfilter-6425812-0
Unix.Trojan.Vpnfilter-6550590-0
Unix.Trojan.Vpnfilter-6550591-0
Unix.Trojan.Vpnfilter-6550592-0
Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) | Foreign Cyber Actors Target Home and Office Routers and Networked Devices Worldwide
Sun, 27 May 2018 13:36
Foreign Cyber Actors Target Home and Office Routers and Networked Devices Worldwide SummaryThe FBI recommends any owner of small office and home office routers power cycle (reboot) the devices. Foreign cyber actors have compromised hundreds of thousands of home and office routers and other networked devices worldwide. The actors used VPNFilter malware to target small office and home office routers. The malware is able to perform multiple functions, including possible information collection, device exploitation, and blocking network traffic.
Technical DetailsThe size and scope of the infrastructure impacted by VPNFilter malware is significant. The malware targets routers produced by several manufacturers and network-attached storage devices by at least one manufacturer. The initial infection vector for this malware is currently unknown.
ThreatVPNFilter is able to render small office and home office routers inoperable. The malware can potentially also collect information passing through the router. Detection and analysis of the malware's network activity is complicated by its use of encryption and misattributable networks.
DefenseThe FBI recommends any owner of small office and home office routers reboot the devices to temporarily disrupt the malware and aid the potential identification of infected devices. Owners are advised to consider disabling remote management settings on devices and secure with strong passwords and encryption when enabled. Network devices should be upgraded to the latest available versions of firmware.
EuroLand
Spain's Rajoy Vows to See Out His Term as Rivals Plot His Ouster
Sat, 26 May 2018 04:13
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he aims to see out the rest of his four-year term after the opposition called a vote of no-confidence in his scandal-plagued administration.
''As far as it's in my power, it is evident that I want the legislature to last four years,'' Rajoy said Friday at a televised press conference in Madrid. ''That is good. It gives certainty, it gives security, it allows you to govern with a degree of calmness.''
The Socialists, the biggest opposition group, called a vote to oust Rajoy's minority administration after the National Court convicted former officials from the governing party of running a multi million-euro racket on his watch. The anti-establishment group Podemos backed the motion, while Ciudadanos said the prime minister's position has become ''unsustainable'' and demanded a snap election.
Under Spanish law, deputies can't simply vote to oust the government and hold elections. Rather, they need to agree on who the next leader should be, making it harder to get rid of an unpopular leader.
Ciudadanos, a centrist party that holds the balance of power in the Spanish Parliament, said it's also ready to back a no-confidence vote against Rajoy if he refuses to call a vote -- but not the one put forward by the Socialists.
''It's time for a democratic solution, to give the Spanish a voice and call elections,'' Ciudadanos General Secretary Jose Manuel Villegas said in a televised statement. ''If Mr. Rajoy refuses to call elections and digs in and remains in his usual paralysis, we would be willing to promote and back a no-confidence motion.''
Spain's Rajoy is Target of No-Confidence Vote: What Comes Next?
Villegas said Ciudadanos wouldn't support the Socialist motion but might propose an alternative that was more explicitly designed to trigger an election.
Mariano Rajoy
Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg
The spread between Spain's 10-year yields and German bunds jumped by 15 basis points to 107 basis points, the widest since January. The benchmark stock index, the Ibex, erased gains of 0.6 percent to trade 1.9 percent lower at 2:39 p.m. in Madrid.
While the anti-Rajoy majority has still to fully come together, Sanchez on Friday said his goal is also to take the country to a vote, eventually.
''It will be a government with a clear road map -- first to recover the political and institutional normality our country needs and secondly to regenerate its democratic life, thirdly to get a social agenda going,'' said Sanchez. ''And lastly to call elections.''
''This motion probably won't be successful but it could create the conditions for a fresh election after the summer,'' said Pablo Simon, a political science professor at Carlos III University in Madrid. ''Ciudadanos would gain most, but the Socialists and Podemos hardly can stand against it.''
Ciudadanos has been the key support of Rajoy's minority government since an inconclusive election in 2016 left the parliament split between four main groups. The liberals of Ciudadanos, the smallest of four groups, helped Rajoy take office with a confidence vote and this week allowed him to finally pass a budget for 2018.
Ciudadanos has been leading in most opinion polls in recent months after drawing voters from both Rajoy's People's Party and the Socialists with its trenchant opposition to Catalan separatism. With separatist groups signaling they are ready to support Sanchez's motion, Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera would risk turning away conservative supporters if his party lined up with the Socialists and the anti-establishment group Podemos to topple the prime minister.
''If Mr. Sanchez wants to be prime minister then he should win an election,'' PP lawmaker Alicia Sanchez-Camacho said in an interview with the state television broadcaster TVE. ''I hope Ciudadanos doesn't support a censure motion that is backed by the anti-system group Podemos and the Catalan separatists.''
We should have stayed with Britain: Shock poll reveals 60% of Jamaicans think they'd be better as a colony | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 27 May 2018 12:04
ByMail Foreign Service Updated: 20:11 EDT, 29 June 2011
Royalist: Enthusiasm for the monarchy is still widespread as this girl with a Queen's Jubilee flag and the Jamaican National Flag shows
Most Jamaicans believe they would be better off if they were still ruled by Britain, a poll shows.
In a harsh indictment of nearly 50 years of independence, 60 per cent of those surveyed hanker for the days when the country was Britain's biggest Caribbean colony.
Only 17 per cent said the crime-ridden, poverty-stricken nation would be worse off under British rule.
The depth of feeling is particularly astonishing as generations of Jamaican leaders have portrayed the British as oppressors who subjected the Caribbean to slavery.
The Queen is still Jamaica's head of state. Under the headline 'Give Us The Queen!', the Gleaner '' Jamaica's biggest newspaper '' said its poll showed how much people had become 'disillusioned' with the violent and corrupt political gangs running the island
Sixty per cent of Jamaicans would rather be living under British rule once more - the country, whose capital is Kingston, pictured - has struggled in recent decades
'As painful, and some will claim insulting, as these statistics may be to Jamaican nationalists, they are quite understandable '' and even logical,' the paper said in an editorial. 'The attitudes are formed by people's existing realities and their expectations for the future.'
These realities, it added, include living in a country 'where, for more than a generation, economic growth has averaged below 2 per cent per annum and its homicide rate is among the highest in the world'.
Prince Charles and Camilla are shown to be having a banging good time in 2008 in Jamaica, which gained independence in 1962
The newspaper also highlighted Jamaica's 'creaky' justice system, 'patchy' law and order, 'indifferent' education system and the widespread public perception of 'overwhelming' corruption.
The survey of more than 1,000 Jamaicans is embarrassing for prime minister Bruce Golding. He wants to mark next year's 50th anniversary of independence by removing the Queen as head of state and making the island a republic.
Crackdown: Security forces on the street in downtown Kingston last year as police went in to arrest gang leader and drug lord Christopher Coke
Among older Jamaicans, nostalgia for what the Gleaner called the 'good old days' under Britain may have been sharpened by the island's disastrous experiment with socialism in the 1970s. Left-wing prime minister Michael Manley introduced economically disastrous policies while publicly courting Cuba and scaring off tourists.
In recent years, violence by drug gangs has made the island one of the most dangerous places in the world.
About 25,000 Britons live in Jamaica, including 23,275 pensioners. An estimated 1.3million tourists visit the island each year, including about 185,000 Britons.
Italy president under pressure to accept euroskeptic minister
Sun, 27 May 2018 12:29
Simona Granati | Corbis | Corbis |Getty Images
Italy's would-be coalition parties turned up the pressure on President Sergio Mattarella on Saturday to endorse their euroskeptic pick as economy minister, saying the only other option may be a new election.
Mattarella has held up formation of a government, which would end more than 80 days of political deadlock, over concern about the far-right League and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement's desire to make the 81-year-old economist Paolo Savona economy minister.
Savona has been a vocal critic of the euro and the European Union, but he has distinguished credentials, including in a former role as an industry minister.
Formally, Prime Minister-designate Giuseppe Conte presents his cabinet to the president, who must endorse it. Conte, a little-known law professor with no political experiences, met the president on Friday without resolving the deadlock.
"I hope no one has already decided 'no'," League leader Matteo Salvini shouted to supporters in northern Italy.
"Either the government gets off the ground and starts working in the coming hours, or we might as well go back to elections," Salvini said.
Later 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio said he expected there to be a decision on whether the president would back the government within 24 hours.
5-Star also defended Savona's nomination.
"It is a political choice ... Blocking a ministerial choice is beyond (the president's) role," Alessandro Di Battista, a top 5-Star politician, said.
Mattarella has not spoken publicly about Savona, but through his aides he has made it clear he does not want an anti-euro economy minister and that he would not accept the "diktat" of the parties.
Savona's criticism of the euro and German economic policy has further spooked markets already concerned about the future government's willingness to reign in the massive debt, worth 1.3 times its annual output.
The League and 5-Star have said Savona should not be judged on his opinions, but on his credentials. Savona has had high-level experience at the Bank of Italy, in government as industry minister in 1993-94, and with employers' lobby Confindustria.
On his new Facebook page, Conte said he had received best wishes for his government in a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron.
European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici was not hostile when asked about Savona in an interview with France's Europe1 radio, saying he would work with whoever Italy named.
"Italians decide their own government," Moscovici said. "Italy is and should remain a country at the heart of the euro zone... What worries me is the debt, which must be contained."
DebtThe prospect of Italy's government going on a spending spree on promised tax cuts and welfare benefits roiled markets last week.
On Friday, the closely watched gap between the Italian and German 10-year bond yields, seen as a measure of political risk for the euro zone, was at its widest in four years at 215 basis points.
The chance that the new government will weaken public finances and roll back a 2011 pension reform prompted Moody's to say -- after markets had closed on Friday -- that it may downgrade the country's sovereign debt rating.
Moody's has a 'Baa2' long-term rating with a negative outlook on Italy. A downgrade to 'Baa3' would take the country's debt to just one notch above junk.
Despite the recent surge, Italian yields are well below the peaks they reached during the euro zone crisis of 2011-2012, thanks mainly to the shield provided by the European Central Bank's bond buying program.
Nukes
Security troops on US nuclear missile base took LSD
Sun, 27 May 2018 13:47
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- One airman said he felt paranoia. Another marveled at the vibrant colors. A third admitted, "I absolutely just loved altering my mind."
Meet service members entrusted with guarding nuclear missiles that are among the most powerful in America's arsenal. Air Force records obtained by The Associated Press show they bought, distributed and used the hallucinogen LSD and other mind-altering illegal drugs as part of a ring that operated undetected for months on a highly secure military base in Wyoming. After investigators closed in, one airman deserted to Mexico.
"Although this sounds like something from a movie, it isn't," said Capt. Charles Grimsley, the lead prosecutor of one of several courts martial.
A slipup on social media by one airman enabled investigators to crack the drug ring at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in March 2016, details of which are reported here for the first time. Fourteen airmen were disciplined. Six of them were convicted in courts martial of LSD use or distribution or both.
None of the airmen was accused of using drugs on duty. Yet it's another blow to the reputation of the Air Force's nuclear missile corps, which is capable of unleashing hell in the form of Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs. The corps has struggled at times with misbehavior, mismanagement and low morale.
Although seen by some as a backwater of the U.S. military, the missile force has returned to the spotlight as President Donald Trump has called for strengthening U.S. nuclear firepower and exchanged threats last year with North Korea. The administration's nuclear strategy calls for hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending in coming decades.
The service members accused of involvement in the LSD ring were from the 90th Missile Wing, which operates one-third of the 400 Minuteman 3 missiles that stand "on alert" 24/7 in underground silos scattered across the northern Great Plains.
Documents obtained by the AP over the past two years through the Freedom of Information Act tell a sordid tale of off-duty use of LSD, cocaine and other drugs in 2015 and 2016 by airmen who were supposed to be held to strict behavioral standards because of their role in securing the weapons.
"It's another black eye for the Air Force '-- for the ICBM force in particular," says Stephen Schwartz, an independent consultant and nuclear expert.
In response to AP inquiries, an Air Force spokesman, Lt. Col. Uriah L. Orland, said the drug activity took place during off-duty hours. "There are multiple checks to ensure airmen who report for duty are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs and are able to execute the mission safely, securely and effectively," he said.
Airman 1st Class Tommy N. Ashworth was among those who used LSD supplied by colleagues with connections to civilian drug dealers.
"I felt paranoia, panic" for hours after taking a hit of acid, Ashworth said under oath at his court martial. He confessed to using LSD three times while off duty. The first time, in the summer of 2015, shook him up. "I didn't know if I was going to die that night or not," he said as a witness at another airman's drug trial. Recalling another episode with LSD, he said it felt "almost as if I was going to have like a heart attack or a heat stroke."
Airman Basic Kyle S. Morrison acknowledged at his court martial that under the influence of LSD he could not have responded if recalled to duty in a nuclear security emergency.
In prosecuting the cases at F.E. Warren, the Air Force asserted that LSD users can experience "profound effects" from even small amounts. It said common psychological effects include "paranoia, fear and panic, unwanted and overwhelming feelings, unwanted life-changing spiritual experiences, and flashbacks."
It's unclear how long before being on duty any of the airmen had taken LSD, which stands for lysergic acid diethylamide. The drug became popularized as "acid" in the 1960s, and views since then have been widely split on its mental health risks. Although illegal in the U.S., it had been showing up so infrequently in drug tests across the military that in December 2006 the Pentagon eliminated LSD screening from standard drug-testing procedures. An internal Pentagon memo at the time said that over the previous three years only four positive specimens had been identified in 2.1 million specimens screened for LSD.
Yet Air Force investigators found those implicated in the F.E. Warren drug ring used LSD on base and off, at least twice at outdoor gatherings. Some also snorted cocaine and used ecstasy. Civilians joined them in the LSD use, including some who had recently left Air Force service, according to two officials with knowledge of the investigation. The Air Force declined to discuss this.
Airman 1st Class Nickolos A. Harris, said to be the leader of the drug ring, testified that he had no trouble getting LSD and other drugs from civilian sources. He pleaded guilty to using and distributing LSD and using ecstasy, cocaine and marijuana.
He acknowledged using LSD eight times and distributing LSD multiple times to fellow airmen at parties in Denver and other locations from spring 2015 to early 2016.
"I absolutely just loved altering my mind," he told the military judge, blaming his decisions to use hallucinogens and other drugs on his addictive personality.
Other airmen testified it was easy to obtain LSD in a liquid form spread on small tabs of perforated white paper. Airmen ingested at least one tab by placing it on their tongue. In one episode summarized by a military judge at Harris' court martial, he and other airmen watched YouTube videos and "then went longboarding on the streets of Denver while high on LSD."
Harris was sentenced to 12 months in jail and other penalties, but under a pretrial agreement he avoided a punitive discharge. The lead prosecutor in that case, Air Force Capt. C. Rhodes Berry, had argued Harris should be locked up for 42 months, including nine months for the "aggravating circumstance" of undercutting public trust by using hallucinogens and other drugs on a nuclear weapons base.
"I cannot think of anything more aggravating than being the ringleader of a drug ring on F.E. Warren Air Force Base," Berry said at the courts martial.
In all, the AP obtained transcripts of seven courts martial proceedings, plus related documents. They provide vivid descriptions of LSD trips.
"I'm dying!" one airman is quoted as exclaiming, followed by "When is this going to end?" during a "bad trip" on LSD in February 2016 at Curt Gowdy State Park, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Cheyenne, where F.E. Warren is located. A portion of that episode was video-recorded by one member of the group; a transcript of the audio was included in court records.
Others said they enjoyed the drug.
"Minutes felt like hours, colors seemed more vibrant and clear," Morrison testified. "In general, I felt more alive." He said he had used LSD in high school, which could have disqualified him from Air Force service; he said that his recruiter told him he should lie about it and that lying about prior drug use was "normal" in the Air Force.
At his court martial, Morrison acknowledged distributing LSD on the missile base in February 2016. A month later, when summoned for questioning by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Morrison confessed and became an informant for the agency, an arrangement the Air Force said yielded legally admissible evidence against 10 other airmen. Under a pretrial agreement, he agreed to testify against other airmen and avoided a punitive discharge. He was sentenced to five months' confinement, 15 days of hard labor and loss of $5,200 in pay.
Most of the airmen involved were members of two related security units at F.E. Warren '-- the 790th Missile Security Forces Squadron and the 90th Security Forces Squadron. Together, they are responsible for the security and defense of the nuclear weapons there as well as the missile complex.
By coincidence, the No. 2 Pentagon official at the time, Robert Work, visited F.E. Warren one month before the drug investigation became public. Accompanied by an AP reporter, he watched as airmen of the 790th Missile Security Forces Squadron '-- whose members at the time included Harris, the accused leader of the drug ring '-- demonstrated how they would force their way into and regain control of a captured missile silo.
Work, the deputy defense secretary, was there to assess progress in fixing problems in the ICBM force identified by then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who ordered an investigation after the AP reported on personnel, resource, training and leadership problems in 2013-14. Those problems included the firing of the general in charge of the entire ICBM force for inappropriate behavior the Air Force said was linked to alcohol abuse. A month later the AP revealed that an unpublished study prepared for the Air Force found "burnout" among nuclear missile launch officers and evidence of broader behavioral problems, including sexual assaults and domestic violence. Air Force officials say the force has since rebounded.
In an interview, Work said he was not aware during his visit that anything was amiss. Nor was he briefed later on the investigation. He said he wouldn't have expected to be briefed unless the Air Force found that LSD or other illegal drugs were a "systemic problem" for the nuclear force, beyond the security forces group at F.E. Warren.
Work said he had never heard of LSD use anywhere in the nuclear workforce.
For the inexperienced members of the drug ring, Harris, the ringleader, had set out several "rules" for LSD use at a gathering of several airmen in a Cheyenne apartment in late 2015 that was recorded on video. Rule No. 1: "No social media at all." He added: "No bad trips. Everybody's happy right now. Let's keep it that way."
But social media proved their undoing. In March 2016, one member posted a Snapchat video of himself smoking marijuana, setting Air Force investigators on their trail.
As the investigators closed in, one of the accused, Airman 1st Class Devin R. Hagarty, grabbed a backpack and cash, text-messaged his mother that he loved her, turned off his cellphone and fled to Mexico. "I started panicking," he told a military judge after giving himself up and being charged with desertion.
The Air Force said Hagarty was the first convicted deserter from an ICBM base since January 2013. In court, he admitted using LSD four times in 2015-16 and distributing it once, and he said he had deserted with the intention of never returning. He also admitted to using cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana multiple times. He was sentenced to 13 months in a military jail.
In all, disciplinary action was taken against 14 airmen. In addition, two accused airmen were acquitted at courts martial, and three other suspects were not charged.
Air Force Uncovered LSD Use Among Airmen Guarding Nuclear Missiles : The Two-Way : NPR
Sun, 27 May 2018 13:47
Fourteen airmen who have helped secure an Air Force missile base in Wyoming have been disciplined after investigators uncovered a drug ring operating there. Here, a mock-up of a Minuteman 3 nuclear missile is seen at F.E. Warren Air Force Base. Robert Burns/AP hide caption
toggle caption Robert Burns/AP Fourteen airmen who have helped secure an Air Force missile base in Wyoming have been disciplined after investigators uncovered a drug ring operating there. Here, a mock-up of a Minuteman 3 nuclear missile is seen at F.E. Warren Air Force Base.
Robert Burns/AP More than a dozen U.S. Air Force airmen were linked to a drug ring at a base that controls America's nuclear missiles and have faced disciplinary actions '' including courts martial, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.
Military investigators cracked the ring in 2016, after one of the service members made the mistake of posting drug-related material to social media.
Nearly half of the airmen were convicted of using or distributing LSD '-- which the Pentagon has stopped screening for in drug tests, the AP reported Thursday. Citing records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the news service reports that the drug ring operated at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, just outside of Cheyenne, Wyo.
The airmen took the drugs '-- which also included ecstasy, cocaine and marijuana '-- during their off-duty time, but at least one airman acknowledged that while under the influence of LSD, he wouldn't have been able to respond properly if he had been suddenly called to duty.
Evidence in the airmen's cases showed that they did the drugs at state parks or at parties in Denver, where a group went longboarding on the streets after taking LSD, according to the AP. It also includes quotes from some service members who recalled having "bad trips," and others who said their experiences had been positive.
"Minutes felt like hours, colors seemed more vibrant and clear," Airman Kyle S. Morrison is quoted as saying. "In general, I felt more alive."
But Air Force prosecutors had a different view, saying that taking the hallucinogenic drug can produce "paranoia, fear and panic, unwanted and overwhelming feelings, unwanted life-changing spiritual experiences, and flashbacks."
Warren is the headquarters of the 20th Air Force, which oversees three missile wings and is responsible for more than 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles that are each capable of delivering devastating nuclear blows. While the personnel there are held to a high standard because of their work securing the ICBMs, the AP notes that the assignments are sometimes seen as a "backwater."
Six of the airmen were convicted of drug offenses in courts martial. They're among 14 service members who faced disciplinary measures over the investigation '-- which came on the heels of other scandals involving the U.S. missile corps.
Those recent incidents include the reported use of narcotics by officers with launch authority, and rampant cheating on proficiency exams, which has been seen as both manipulating the promotion process and masking security lapses.
Revelations about drug use at Warren also come less than five years after the Air Force's No. 2 missile commander, Maj. Gen. Michael Carey '-- who led the 20th Air Force '-- was relieved of command over "drunken and inappropriate behavior while leading a security delegation to Moscow," according to Reuters.
Reporting on the recent drug case, the AP quotes Capt. Charles Grimsley, a lead prosecutor in some of the courts martial, saying, "Although this sounds like something from a movie, it isn't."
Shut Up Slave!
Mr. President please pardon entrepreneur and Electronics-waste recycler Eric Lundgren; his sentence is a grave injustice | We the People: Your Voice in Our Government
Fri, 25 May 2018 22:35
We the people ask the federal government to Take or explain a position on an issue or policy: Created by J.C. on May 06, 2018 Sign This PetitionNeeds 98,978 signatures by June 5, 2018 to get a response from the White House
1,022 signed
100,000 goal Eric's 15 month sentence is a loss to our country as we will lose a brilliant mind tackling an issue that impacts all Americans. His life is replete with examples of serving people and our environment. He was sentenced to prison for providing a FREE/LEGALLY available restore tool that extends the lifecycle of PCs, which slows the harm of E-Waste on our environment. Microsoft lost no revenue as the free tool only works with pre-licensed PCs. The DOJ unjustly barred Eric from contacting M-Soft, thus precluding a civil resolution. Eric is a true citizen-servant concerned for the welfare of all Americans. Mr. President, right this wrong by pardoning Eric. The people, businesses, and also environmentalists will be forever grateful as his sentence is unjust and violates the spirit of our nation.
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War on Weed
MH17
MH17 missile owned by Russian brigade, investigators say - BBC News
Fri, 25 May 2018 14:17
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption Investigators said they had evidence of the route taken by a Russian missile convoyThe missile that downed a Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine in 2014 belonged to a Russian brigade, international investigators say.
For the first time, the Dutch-led team said the missile had come from a unit based in western Russia.
All 298 people on board the Boeing 777 died when it broke apart in mid-air flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
It was hit by a missile fired from rebel-held territory in Ukraine. Russia says none of its weapons was used.
But on Thursday Wilbert Paulissen, a Dutch official from the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), told reporters: "All the vehicles in a convoy carrying the missile were part of the Russian armed forces."
He restated the JIT's conclusion that the plane had been destroyed by a Russian-made Buk missile, adding that it had been supplied by the country's 53rd anti-aircraft brigade in Kursk.
At a news conference in the Dutch city of Utrecht, the investigators also showed social media pictures which they said traced the route the missile convoy had taken to reach eastern Ukraine.
What happened to MH17?The incident occurred at the height of the conflict between government troops and pro-Russian separatists.
The plane left Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on 17 July 2014 and was due to arrive at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia on the following day.
The plane lost contact with air traffic control about 50km (30 miles) from the Russia-Ukraine border.
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption In 2015, the Dutch Safety Board released an animated video showing the flight path of the planeIt crashed in the Donetsk area, in territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists.
Footage was later released by the Ukrainian government suggesting that a Buk missile had been brought in from Russia on the day of the crash, and then taken back across the border the next day.
What has been said about the incident?In October 2015 the Dutch Safety Board concluded that the plane had indeed been hit by a Buk missile.
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption How does a Buk missile system work?In September 2016, the JIT - which includes officials from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine - reached a similar conclusion in a preliminary report.
It said it had "irrefutable evidence" that the missile had been brought in from Russian territory and fired from a field controlled by pro-Russian fighters.
The investigators simulated various trajectories of the warhead. They showed it had exploded metres above the aeroplane's nose, showering the aircraft with fragments.
On Thursday Russia restated its position that none of its forces had been involved. "Not a single anti-aircraft missile system from the Russian Federation has ever crossed the Russia-Ukraine border," the defence ministry in Moscow said.
Meanwhile Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko promised in a Facebook post (in Ukrainian) that he would "spare no effort to ensure that the actions of the Russian Federation as a state which supports terrorism get an appropriate assessment" in the International Court of Justice.
Probe: Missile that downed MH17 came from Russia-based unit
Sun, 27 May 2018 14:26
BUNNIK, Netherlands (AP) '-- The missile used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 aboard, belonged to a Russia-based military unit, an international team of investigators said Thursday after painstakingly studying video and photos of a military convoy.
The criminal investigation team "has concluded that the Buk Telar with which Flight MH17 was shot down is from the 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade from Kursk in the Russian Federation," said Wilbert Paulissen, head of the Netherlands' National Crime Squad, referring to the missile system used.
It was the clearest link yet published by the investigators to the involvement of Russian military in the deadly surface-to-air missile strike on the Boeing 777, and it echoed findings published in 2016 by the Bellingcat investigative group.
Russia has always denied involvement in the downing of Flight 17, which was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when it was blown out of the sky at 33,000 feet (about 10,000 meters) over war-ravaged eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014.
Bodies, debris and burning wreckage were strewn over a field of sunflowers near the rebel-held village of Hrabove in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian border, where fighting had been raging for months.
On Thursday, Russia criticized the Joint Investigation Team, or JIT, for relying on claims by Bellingcat.
"If the international investigative team is indeed interested in tracking down the real culprits of the MH17 catastrophe, its members would better rely on facts and witness testimony and not fakes produced by Bellingcat and Ukraine's Security Service," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also criticized the investigators for allegedly ignoring evidence provided by Russia, including radar surveillance of the airspace at the time of the flight.
"In these circumstances, we have legitimate questions about the true underlying cause of the decision of the JIT to disclose the preliminary conclusion," the Foreign Ministry statement said.
Prosecutors said they have presented their findings to Moscow and are seeking answers, but so far have not received a response. The international team running the criminal investigation appealed for help from witnesses who can testify about the involvement of the Russian military's 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade.
Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said the new conclusion raised new questions, "such as the question about how actively involved the brigade itself was in bringing down Flight MH17."
Westerbeke said the JIT is not yet ready to identify suspects, but added: "I can say that we are now entering the ... last phase of the investigation."
Prosecutors said in 2016 that the plane was shot down by a Buk 9M38 missile fired from territory controlled by Russia-backed rebels, using a mobile launcher trucked in from Russia and hastily returned there.
Thursday's presentation went a step further by identifying the exact unit allegedly involved in the transport. It showed a compilation of video and photos from social media tracing the missile brigade convoy's journey in the weeks before the incident.
"All findings from this forensic investigation confirm the earlier conclusion of the JIT that Flight MH17 was shot down by 9M38 series missile," said Jennifer Hurst of the Australian Federal Police.
Investigators displayed parts of the engine casing and exhaust system of a Buk 9M38 series missile recovered from eastern Ukraine and showed photos of its serial number, which they said demonstrated it was made in Moscow.
However, investigators said they could not yet say with certainty that it was the exact missile used to down MH17. They appealed for witnesses to come forward with more information about the missile and the role of the Russian military in transporting it.
In a statement, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said: "That a sophisticated weapon belonging to the Russian Army was dispatched and used to shoot down a civilian aircraft should be of grave international concern. We are discussing these findings with our partners and considering our options."
Ultimately, any suspects identified and charged will be prosecuted in Dutch courts '-- if they can be arrested and brought to trial.
Of the 298 people killed, 196 were Dutch, 42 were Malaysian and 27 were Australian.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in a Facebook post that he would "do everything possible to ensure that the actions of the Russian Federation as a state which supports terrorism get an appropriate assessment" in the International Court of Justice.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte cut short a visit to India so he could chair a Cabinet meeting to discuss the findings.
Piet Ploeg, a member of a foundation for victims' relatives, said the Dutch government should not consider legal steps against Russia.
Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders urged all countries to cooperate fully with the investigation "so that those responsible can be brought to justice."
___
Associated Press writer Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed.
Armageddon
Mike Meru Has $1 Million in Student Loans. How Did That Happen? - WSJ
Sun, 27 May 2018 13:49
DRAPER, Utah'--Mike Meru, a 37-year-old orthodontist, made a big investment in his education. As of Thursday, he owed $1,060,945.42 in student loans.
Mr. Meru pays only $1,589.97 a month'--not enough to cover the interest, so his debt from seven years at the University of Southern California grows by $130 a day. In two decades, his loan balance will be $2 million.
He and his wife, Melissa, have become numb to the burden, focused instead on raising their two daughters. ''If you thought about it every single day,'' Mrs. Meru said, ''you'd have a mental breakdown.''
Due to escalating tuition and easy credit, the U.S. has 101 people who owe at least $1 million in federal student loans, according to the Education Department. Five years ago, 14 people owed that much.
More could join that group. While the typical student borrower owes $17,000, the number of those who owe at least $100,000 has risen to around 2.5 million, nearly 6% of the borrowing pool, Education Department data show.
For graduate-school students especially, there is little incentive for universities to help put the brakes on big borrowing. The government essentially allows grad students to borrow any amount to cover tuition and living costs, with few guardrails on how the final sum will be repaid.
More than a third of borrowers from one of the government's main graduate school lending programs have enrolled in some form of federal loan-forgiveness plan.
''These are choices. We're not coercing,'' said Avishai Sadan, dean of USC's Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, where Mr. Meru went to school and one of the most expensive in the U.S. ''You know exactly what you're getting into.''
Even the best planners might not have anticipated the sharp increases in tuition and student-loan interest rates from 2005 to 2012, Mr. Meru's tenure as a student. While the Federal Reserve was reducing interest rates to near zero to combat the recession, rates for grad students were as high as 8.5%.
Dental school is the costliest higher-education program in the U.S. Private nonprofit schools during the 2015-2016 school year charged an average of $71,820 a year, the Urban Institute found. The USC program now costs $91,000 a year, and $137,000 when living expenses are included.
For Mr. Meru, tuition at USC first went up during his second year. Interest rates followed. Halfway through dental school, he said, he started to worry about the soaring cost of his education.
''I'm sitting here saying, 'Holy crap! Should I really be doing this?' '' Mr. Meru recalled. '' 'Should I drop out?' ''
Mrs. Meru, 35, said she and her husband decided it was too late to turn back. If he quit or transferred to a cheaper school, he still owed for the loans he had already taken.
Mr. Meru's financial records'--provided to The Wall Street Journal'--show he borrowed $601,506, a debt that swelled to more than $1 million by fees and interest.
The USC education helped Mr. Meru earn $225,000 last year working for a corporate practice in Draper, Utah, 20 minutes from Salt Lake City. That compares with a $158,000 median income for dentists, according to the Labor Department.
Mr. Meru became so frustrated with the high interest rates that he helped start a national dental-student movement to lobby Congress to lower rates on grad students. The effort went nowhere.
Some dental school educators fear that the eye-popping costs to enter the profession could dissuade good prospects from even trying.
''I don't think you'll find any dental school dean in the country who will not tell you they're concerned about the cost,'' said Dr. Sadan, of USC. ''But what's the action?''
Debt freeMr. Meru, a lean 6-foot-7, was the eldest of three boys raised in Newbury Park, Calif., an affluent suburb west of Los Angeles. His father, who didn't finish college, owns a small construction business. His mother, a college graduate, worked mostly as a secretary.
Mr. Meru found his calling while still a teenager. He was insecure over his crooked teeth and an irregular jaw line, he said: ''I was embarrassed to talk to girls. Orthodontics changed my life.''
After high school, Mr. Meru, who is Mormon, spent two years on a mission in Brazil, then returned to the U.S. to complete his undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University in Utah. He paid his college tuition with money from his parents and by waiting tables at the Old Spaghetti Factory near the school's Provo campus.
Helping pay for college was ''the agreement we made all our boys,'' his mother, Karen Meru, said. Graduate school wasn't part of the deal. ''We couldn't afford it,'' she said. ''We're middle class.''
Mr. Meru met and married his wife while at Brigham Young, and he graduated debt-free in 2005. He picked the USC dental school for its prestige and because he wanted to live closer to his parents.
Mr. Meru said the dental school's financial-aid director, Sergio Estavillo, estimated that the basic four-year program would require $400,000 to $450,000 in student debt, including interest. Mr. Estavillo said he didn't recall the conversation but had no reason to doubt its accuracy.
Mr. Meru and his wife concluded dental school was a good investment, given the salary he expected to earn.
''We're like, 'Well, we can make this work,''' Mrs. Meru said. ''There are certain things that are OK to go into debt for: a house, an education, a car.''
The newlyweds packed up for California. Mrs. Meru got a job at USC as an administrative assistant, which provided a tuition discount.
The couple's calculations were partly based on low interest rates the federal government set for students at the time. In the 2004-2005 school year, the rate for college and graduate students was 2.77%.
The following school year, Mr. Meru's first at USC, rates jumped to 4.75% for his loans. Those turned out to be the cheapest of the 50 loans he needed to finance his education. Unlike consumer loans for cars or homes, college students typically take out multiple loans each year'--often at different interest rates, depending on what is available.
USC charged tuition of $56,757 in Mr. Meru's first year, American Dental Association records show. To save on expenses, the couple lived with his parents. He drove a Buick inherited from his wife's grandmother for the hour-plus trip between Newbury Park and USC, located south of downtown Los Angeles. After his first year, and with his wife's tuition discount, he owed $43,976.
By Mr. Meru's second year, the interest rate on new student loans jumped to 6.8%, and USC raised its tuition by 6%. By the end of that school year, he had taken out a total of $115,000 in loans, which also covered a summer semester. Interest rates were roughly triple what he had planned for.
A law passed by Congress in 2001, which took effect in 2006, severed the link that tethered student-loan interest rates to Treasury rates. Lawmakers were under pressure to lower costs for undergraduates, in the form of grants and lower loan rates. They didn't provide similar relief for grad students.
During Mr. Meru's third year of dental school, USC raised its tuition another 6%, and he had accumulated about $230,000 in loans, not counting interest.
Dr. Sadan, the dean, said the USC dental school raised tuition to cover the cost of delivering a top education. ''You cannot decide you're just not raising tuition,'' he said. ''Everything that drives the operation, from salary raises to any other additional costs, have to come, for the most part, from tuition.''
Mr. Estavillo, the financial-aid director, emailed Mr. Meru a flier from a dental association in 2007 that warned of large debt balances. It encouraged students to cut back on rent and lattes.
Great Lakes Higher Education Corp., which serviced Mr. Meru's loans, sent him an email warning how quickly interest builds while in school. ''If you can afford interest payments,'' the email said, ''it's a good idea to make them.''
Giving graceMost of Mr. Meru's debt came from Grad Plus, a program created by Congress in 2005. It removed loan limits and allowed grad students to borrow for any expense, including rent and other living costs. The law, signed by President George W. Bush, was intended to ease student reliance on private banks, which had more strict repayment plans.
After living with his parents for 15 months, Mr. Meru and his wife moved to a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles with a monthly rent of $1,550. When Mrs. Meru became pregnant in 2010, the couple paid $1,800 for a two-bedroom.
One luxury was buying a used Mercedes-Benz, which carried a monthly payment of $390. Beyond that, Mr. Meru said, the couple restrained their spending. For fun, they went camping.
Mr. Meru said he spent 40 hours a week at school. He reserved evenings for studying and helping care for his young family, which left no time for a job.
By the spring of 2009, the end of his fourth year, Mr. Meru's loans had reached about $340,000, still in line with the original estimates from the financial-aid director. That would change as he chased his dream.
After graduating from dental school that spring, Mr. Meru began orthodontics. Unlike doctors, who usually are paid to perform residencies at hospitals, dental specialists often perform their residency at universities that charge tuition.
For the next three years, Mr. Meru continued his studies at USC, and continued to borrow for tuition. Of his growing debt, he said, ''I just wouldn't look. The only thing looking did was create stress.''
After finishing the orthodontics residency in 2012, Mr. Meru used a government option known as forbearance, which allows borrowers to postpone payments. Mr. Meru said he earned little his first year out of school and needed all of it to support his family. Interest continued to accrue, expanding his debt through the magic of compounding.
The couple bought a home in Draper in 2012, using a $400,000 mortgage that Mrs. Meru took out in her name. She used an inheritance from her grandmother for the down payment. Her mother cosigned the loan.
Mr. Meru then entered into a government-sponsored repayment plan based on income. He agreed to monthly payments at 10% of his discretionary income, defined as adjusted gross income minus 150% of the poverty level. Any balance remaining after 25 years is forgiven, effectively covered by taxpayers. The forgiven amount is then taxed as ordinary income.
Without the government help, Mr. Meru's monthly payment would be $10,541.91, according to an email from his loan servicer. His current monthly income, after taxes, is roughly $13,333.
Since refinancing his debt with the federal government in 2015, lowering the rate to 7.25%, Mr. Meru's balance has grown by $148,948. It will keep growing through the 25-year life of the repayment plan until it reaches $2 million. That sum will be forgiven and, at current tax rates, could cost Mr. Meru more than $700,000 in income tax payments.
By then, Mr. Meru will have paid $1.6 million. That would be about the same as repaying his $600,000 in student loans at a rate of 4% over 25 years, said Jason Delisle, a student-loan expert with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. The biggest factor in Mr. Meru's runaway debt, he said, was a high principal combined with long periods when Mr. Meru made no payments.
The government repayment plan affords the Meru family a comfortable life. Their home is on a mountain with panoramic views of the snow-capped peaks surrounding Salt Lake City. They take vacations, including a recent trip to Havana. He drives a used Tesla.
On a recent spring day he commuted to the suburb of Clinton, working out of one of his company's five offices. In a room with views of the mountains and the strip mall parking lot, he saw a procession of teenage patients. For lunch, he went to the Panda Express next door.
Write to Josh Mitchell at joshua.mitchell@wsj.com
Migrants
H2B Crab Pickers
Gents,
Long time Douchebag here looking for a bit of reprieve
from my duchebaggery in the form of information. As a native of the DelMarVa peninsula I can’t
help but have, as Adam would say, standing in the issue at question.
The crabs, Chesapeake Blue Crab, are caught in a range of
sizes above the minimum legal size. The
larger are typically sold live and whole for steaming and eating. The smaller
crabs are routed to crab houses near the docks where they are steamed and
picked onsite for packaged crab meat (think packages of jumbo lump crab meat in
grocery stores). The picked crab is used
by restaurants for crab cakes as well.
The issue at hand with the lottery is that over the last
40-50 years the employment has shifted from what my grandmother referred to as
‘nice colored ladies’ to Mexican seasonal workers. I want to believe this shift
was only to increase margins and not due to supply of local workers for the
seasonal work but I could be wrong.
Unfortunately since it has been so long since this shift happened
there really is nobody there locally ready and willing to do the very manual
but skilled task of picking crab meat.
This leaves the crab industry in a pickle because their only option with
this perishable product is to sell the smaller crabs on the whole live market
where they draw a much lower price.
Karma is coming back at them for business decisions made long ago.
-Douchebag from Delaware
Crab Picker Salary - ERI | SalaryExpert
Fri, 25 May 2018 05:53
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Maryland Needs H-2B Crab Pickers?
Fri, 25 May 2018 05:53
On May 11, 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that licensed crab processors on Maryland's Eastern Shore will be short 200 workers this year, which the paper attributes to the recent allocation of nonimmigrant H-2B visas. That there is a shortage of crab pickers in Maryland is somewhat surprising to a native Free Stater, like myself.
As the paper explained:
This year, for the first time, demand for the low-skilled, seasonal H-2B visas was so high that the U.S. government awarded them by lottery. The result is uncertainty for businesses such as crab processors in this remote corner of Maryland's Eastern Shore that have relied on the program for years.
The article focuses on two businesses in the remote corner in question, the town of Fishing Creek, which sits on a spit of land in the Chesapeake Bay. One business, G.W. Hall & Sons, the Journal reports, "won the visa lottery", while the other one (Russell Hall Seafood) "lost". The paper details the downstream effects of this so-called worker "shortage" on Hoopers Island, which sits a few miles down the road from Fishing Creek:
The unexpected worker shortage for some businesses has upended the economy. Processors that don't have pickers aren't buying crabs. Those crabbers aren't buying bait fish from local fishermen. The combination has slashed sales at the Hoopers Island General Store to its lowest level in six years, said owner Katie Doll.
The workers identified in the article at G.W. Hall & Sons are 21 women from Mexico, and it appears from the article that most of the usual workers are Mexican nationals as well. Businesses that have found themselves without Mexican nonimmigrant workers have turned to other workers with employment eligibility, the paper reports. Only two appear to have been Maryland natives; the only other identified nationality is Cambodian.
With respect to those Maryland workers, the article focuses on Lindy's Seafood on Hoopers Island, and its owner, Aubrey Vincent:
Ms. Vincent, 30, said local labor just supplements the Mexican pickers she needs. Lindy's was among the lottery losers this year, leaving the firm with 104 openings. On Hoopers Island, the company's big picking room on the banks of the broad Honga River is idle, and Ms. Vincent estimates lost sales of $20,000 a day.
The overall implication of the article is that there are few if any native local workers willing to do the job. Brian Hall, co-owner of G.W. Hall, is referenced in the article as stating that "he has had five American applicants in 20 years, none of whom showed up for an interview," and that the business has had trouble "attracting local workers" because "the jobs aren't year-round."
One other reason why these crab processors may have had trouble attracting local workers is because there are not many local workers to begin with. DATA USA states that there are 113 people living in Fishing Creek, Md., only 48 of whom are "employees". MDHomeTownLocator states that there are 440 people living on Hoopers Island, but does not identify how many of them are employed. The closest large town is Cambridge, just over a half hour's drive from Fishing Creek, and about 45 minutes from Hoopersville, on Hoopers Island. According to DATA USA, there are 12,552 people living in Cambridge, 5,629 of whom are listed as employees.
The article does not explain why it is necessary for the crab processors it identifies to run their plants in such a remote area, but proximity to the fishermen who catch crabs (known colloquially as "crabbers") is likely part of the reason. The Chesapeake Bay is a major waterway, however, so it is unclear why exactly the crabs could not be shipped to where there is a larger pool of employees to be processed, particularly for a business that is losing $20,000 a day in sales.
Accepting the fact that one of the few industries in a remote part of the state should not be uprooted, though, it is still unclear why those crab processors who are unable to access H-2B visas are not looking for workers from elsewhere in Maryland, rather than focusing strictly on Mexican laborers.
To those from areas where crabs are rare, unique, or not commonly consumed, the disassembly of a crab would appear to be complicated. In the state of Maryland, however, crab picking is a fairly common skill, as crabs are a common delicacy, and the consumption of crabs is a combination of pastime and social event for individuals from all social strata.
The pay, at least as described in the article, for crab pickers is not insignificant:
Processors legally must pay the workers at least $9.51 per hour, but most make a piece rate. At G.W. Hall that is $3.15 a pound. [A worker interviewed in the article] said her maximum is just over 40 pounds per eight-hour shift, translating to about $130 or $16.25 an hour. Mr. Hall said 30 pounds a day is more common. Workers pay U.S. taxes like American workers.
Further, housing for workers from outside the immediate area appears to be rather inexpensive, as the Journal explains:
Pickers live close to work. G.W. Hall, for example, houses them in two homes next to the picking house, charging each $40 per week, utilities included. The employees typically spend about eight months in Maryland before returning to their home country, processors say.
Thirty pounds of crab a day times 39 weeks (roughly eight months) times five days a week times $3.15 a pound equals $18,427.50. Rent would be $1,560, that is, 39 weeks times $40.00 a week. This would leave a take-home income of $16,867.50. Using the 1040EZ, it would appear that a single worker with no dependents would take home (after Social Security tax was withheld) approximately $15,449.44, or $9.90 an hour. That worker would also have an additional four months of the year, either to spend those wages or to engage in other employment.
Respectfully, for the cost and expense (and the uncertainty of obtaining visas), it would appear to make more sense for the crab processors to recruit workers from Baltimore City (which, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has an unemployment rate of 6.4 percent) or Salisbury, Md., (which has 11,400 unemployed workers, for an unemployment rate of 6.1 percent according to BLS, and which is an hour away from Fishing Creek) than to recruit them from Mexico.
If one wanted to argue that $9.90 an hour is too low a wage for an American to make, I have two responses:
One, almost $10.00 an hour is better than nothing.
Two, perhaps the wages that are being paid by the crab processors are too low. The Wall Street Journal notes that "Gibby's Seafood north of Baltimore is selling a pound of jumbo lump [crab] for $43.95." Given the fact that only $3.15 of that figure apparently represents the crab-picking itself, and even factoring in the cost of the crabs, business costs, and transportation, this would still seem to provide a healthy profit to the crab processors, money that could be spent on higher wages.
Of course, this is likely not the last word on the "shortage" of crab pickers on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. In a separate article, the Wall Street Journal reported that Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen has told members of Congress (including a Maryland representative concerned about the needs of crab processors) that her department plans to issue an additional 15,000 H-2B visas this summer.
Again, respectfully, this is a job that Marylanders would do, and will do, hundreds of thousands of times this year.
SJWBLMLGBBTQQIAAPK
Interview pitch by Ohio professor
Dear Adam
Curry,
Many of
your audience members will be wondering about the anti-bias training that will
lead to all 8,000 Starbucks in the US to close its doors on the afternoon of
May 29. Well, Starbucks just released the content of their anti-bias
training. As someone who researches cognitive biases, including their
application to racial and other forms of discrimination, I found it very
backward and totally out of line with the research on best business practices
on addressing discrimination, in essence going against human nature.
Scientific
American
will publish
my article about it, and I thought your audience might be interested in my
perspective. Some potential talking points are below:
The Starbucks training is clearly designed as a PR
initiative, and is completely out of line with research on effective
diversity training strategies – it goes against human nature
In fact, based on business research, the Starbucks
training is likely to exacerbate discrimination by using guilt and shame,
and highlighting racial divides
The Starbucks training would be much more effective if it focused instead
on the fact that discrimination is part of basic human nature due to our
evolutionary background, and just like we resist the temptation to eat
sugar for our health, we need to resist discrimination for organizational
health
This kind of training addresses both
racial and other forms of biases, and helps everyone in the workplace -
regardless of whether they are in a minority or majority - be united
together against the common problems caused by our evolutionary background
Call me at 617-460-5434 or respond to this email to talk about an
interview.
Bio:
Disaster Avoidance
Expert Dr. Gleb Tsipursky's presentations, consulting, and coaching have
helped thousands of leaders
and organizations avoid disaster through science-based
decision-making and align employee incentives with organizational priorities
through emotional and social intelligence. In addition to his extensive
experience helping businesses, nonprofits, and municipalities, his expertise
comes from his strong research
background with over two decades at the Ohio State University and the
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and dozens of peer-reviewed
publications. Gleb is proud of his civic activism as the volunteer President of
the Board of the nonprofit organization Intentional Insights,
which popularizes the research on wise decision-making and emotional and social
intelligence for a broad audience. He authored an Amazon bestseller on
decision-making, The
Truth Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide, and
was featured in CBS
News, Fast
Company, Time, Scientific
American, Psychology
Today, The
Conversation, Business
Insider, Government
Executive, and Inc.
Magazine.
Truthfully
Yours,
Gleb
Dr.
Gleb Tsipursky
- Professor,
at the Decision
Sciences Collaborative, Ohio State University
- Disaster Avoidance Expert, helping
leaders & organizations avoid business disasters via speaking& consulting on decision-making science & on
emotional & social intelligence
Rachel Dolezal hit with felony theft charge in welfare fraud case | Fox News
Sun, 27 May 2018 14:13
Rachel Dolezal, pictured here in 2009, changed her name to Nkechi Diallo in 2016. (AP Photo/Nicholas K. Geranios, File)
Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP chapter leader who resigned after her parents revealed she's not African-American, is facing a felony theft charge in Washington state after she allegedly made false statements to secure nearly $9,000 in food and childcare assistance.
The charges against Dolezal, who changed her name to Nkechi Diallo in October 2016, were first reported by KHQ-TV.
According to court documents, investigators with Washington state's Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) started looking into Dolezal's finances in March 2017 after the publication of her autobiography, "In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World."
RACHEL DOLEZAL'S NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY SPARKS MAJOR BACKLASH ON SOCIAL MEDIA
DSHS investigator Kyle Bunge said Dolezal had claimed that "her only source of income was $300.00 per month in gifts from friends." However, the department found that she had deposited nearly $84,000 in her bank account between August 2015 and September 2017 without reporting it.
According to the investigation, the money came from sales of Dolezal's autobiography as well as "the sale of her art, soaps, and handmade dolls."
Authorities say Dolezal illegally received $8,747 in food assistance and $100 in child care assistance from August 2015 through November 2017.
Dolezal did report a "change of circumstance" to the state agency, saying she did a one-time job in October 2017 worth $20,000, court documents said. The DSHS report says Dolezal told investigators in April that she had "fully disclosed her information" and declined to answer further questions.
Dolezal is also charged with perjury and making false verification for public assistance.
Dolezal resigned as head of the Spokane NAACP chapter in June 2015 after her parents told local media that she had been born white and was merely posing as a black activist. She also was fired from a police ombudsman commission and lost her job teaching African studies at Eastern Washington University.
RACHEL DOLEZAL BRAGS ABOUT SUCCESSFUL HAIR SALON ON INSTAGRAM
In 2017, Dolezal told The Associated Press that she still identifies as black, despite being "Caucasian biologically."
"People didn't seem able to consider that maybe both were true," she said at the time. "OK, I was born to white parents, but maybe I had an authentic black identity."
In addition to her autobiography, Dolezal was the subject of a Netflix documentary, "The Rachel Divide," that premiered at New York's Tribeca Film Festival last month. Fox News recently reported that Dolezal has taken to Instagram to show the apparent success of her in-house hair salon business.
Click for more from KHQ.com.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
FIRST ON KHQ: Former Spokane NAACP president Rachel Dolezal faci - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com
Sun, 27 May 2018 14:13
SPOKANE, Wash. - Former Spokane Chapter NAACP President Rachel Dolezal is now facing legal trouble that could land her behind bars. KHQ has confirmed that Dolezal, who legally changed her name to Nkechi Diallo in 2016, is accused of 1st Degree Theft by Welfare Fraud, Perjury in the 2nd Degree, and False Verification for Public Assistance. Her potential punishment under RCW 74.08.331 could include up to 15 years in prison.
Because Dolezal changed her name, we'll be referring to her as Nkechi Diallo. According to court documents, Diallo illegally received $8,747 in food assistance, and illegally received $100 in childcare assistance. Total restitution, according to the documents, is $8,847, allegedly stolen from August 2015 through November 2017.
READ IT: Newly released court documents in Nkechi A. Diallo theft case
The investigation into Diallo's alleged theft started in March 2017 when a DSHS Office of Fraud and Accountability investigator received information that Diallo had written a book that got published. The investigator said he'd heard Diallo say she was getting public assistance, but also knew that a typical publishing contract included payments of $10,000 to $20,000.
Previous Coverage: Parents of Spokane NAACP President Rachel Dolezal claim she's not black
The investigator conducted a review of Diallo's records and found she'd been reporting her income was usually less than $500 per month, in child support payments. At one point when asked as to how she was paying her bills, she reported, "Barely! With help from friends and gifts."
However, a subpoena for her self-employment records, which included copies of her bank statements from 2015 to present, tells a different story. The bank records, court documents say, showed Diallo had deposited about $83,924 into her bank account in several monthly installments between August 2015 and September 2017, without reporting the income to the Department of Social and Health Services. The money, according to the case file, had come from authoring her book, 'In Full Color,' speaking engagements, soap making, doll making, and the sale of her art.
RELATED: Rachel Dolezal steps down as President of Spokane NAACP
During the course of the investigation, Diallo did report a "change of circumstance" to the Department of Social and Health Services, saying she did a one-time job in October of 2017 worth $20,000, and Diallo voluntarily came in for an interview with fraud investigators last month. But when questioned about possible discrepancies in her income reporting, Diallo stated she "fully disclosed her information and asked, 'what discrepancies?". Diallo then told the investigator that she "did not have to answer" any more questions, since she had not waived her Miranda rights, which ended the interview.
RELATED: Baltimore Book Festival boots Rachel Dolezal after backlash
According to the court documents, "The state of Washington seeks prosecution and restitution in this matter. In addition, the Department requests Nkechi Diallo be disqualified from receiving Food Assistance for at least a 12 month period for breaking a Food Assistance rule on purpose. This is known as an Intentional Program Violation."
KHQ's Peter Maxwell went to Diallo's house to ask her about these charges on Thursday. Hear her response tonight at 5. Related coverage:
http://www.khq.com/story/35550953/baltimore-book-festival-boots-rachel-dolezal-after-backlash
http://www.khq.com/story/29327720/former-student-reflects-on-rachel-dolezals-past
http://www.khq.com/story/33332407/former-naacp-leader-rachel-dolezal-tapped-for-mlk-day-event
http://www.khq.com/story/29317969/rachel-dolezals-brother-speaks-out
http://www.khq.com/story/29348284/rachel-dolezal-i-will-not-resign
http://www.khq.com/story/29337584/rachel-dolezal-and-the-word-transracial
http://www.khq.com/story/29311298/rachel-dolezal-releases-statement-to-naacp-members
http://www.khq.com/story/29356286/city-council-votes-rachel-dolezal-off-ombudsman-commission
http://www.khq.com/story/29344766/investigation-finds-misconduct-among-three-ombudsman-commissioners-including-rachel-dolezal
http://www.khq.com/story/29322279/rachel-dolezal-steps-down-as-president-of-spokane-naacp
http://www.khq.com/story/29310398/spokane-city-council-evaluating-facts-in-rachel-dolezal-investigation
http://www.khq.com/story/29308121/timeline-rachel-dolezal-in-the-news-over-the-years
http://www.khq.com/story/29309472/spokane-police-investigation-into-rachel-dolezal-hate-mail-now-closed
http://www.khq.com/story/29331458/rachel-dolezal-tells-matt-lauer-she-has-identified-as-black-since-the-age-of-5
http://www.khq.com/story/29325564/rachel-dolezal-sued-howard-university-in-2002-claimed-african-americans-were-favored
Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor closed indefinitely Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor closed indefinitely Updated: Saturday, May 26 2018 2:33 PM EDT 2018-05-26 18:33:58 GMT
HONOLULU (AP) - Engineers say damage to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu was worse than expected and it will remain closed indefinitely. Hawaii News Now reports boat transportation to the attraction was suspended May 6 after one of the vessel operators noticed a crack on the outside of the memorial.
>> HONOLULU (AP) - Engineers say damage to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu was worse than expected and it will remain closed indefinitely. Hawaii News Now reports boat transportation to the attraction was suspended May 6 after one of the vessel operators noticed a crack on the outside of the memorial.
>> Man refused beer on American Airlines flight starts midair brawl Man refused beer on American Airlines flight starts midair brawl Updated: Saturday, May 26 2018 6:18 PM EDT 2018-05-26 22:18:39 GMT
Photo: Bill Bolduc MIAMI - An American Airlines passenger on a flight from Saint Croix to Miami caused a commotion in midair Wednesday when he was refused beer. The whole ordeal was caught on camera by a fellow passenger. The passenger, identified as Jason Felix in court documents, was on American Airlines flight 1293.
>> MIAMI - An American Airlines passenger on a flight from Saint Croix to Miami caused a commotion in midair Wednesday when he was refused beer. The whole ordeal was caught on camera by a fellow passenger. The passenger, identified as Jason Felix in court documents, was on American Airlines flight 1293.
>> Racist flyers pop up all over downtown Spokane again Racist flyers pop up all over downtown Spokane again Updated: Saturday, May 26 2018 9:33 PM EDT 2018-05-27 01:33:48 GMT
Spokane, Wash. These flyers were found once again on Saturday placed all over downtown Spokane. Back in March, a group called Identity Evropa put racist posters on Eastern Universities campus. Roberto Rodriguez was walking downtown and happened to catch a glimpse of the flyers "With these posters my thoughts on them is why are we having them up?" questioned Rodriguez. Roberto understands that groups have the right to free speech. But Roberto wants...
>> Spokane, Wash. These flyers were found once again on Saturday placed all over downtown Spokane. Back in March, a group called Identity Evropa put racist posters on Eastern Universities campus. Roberto Rodriguez was walking downtown and happened to catch a glimpse of the flyers "With these posters my thoughts on them is why are we having them up?" questioned Rodriguez. Roberto understands that groups have the right to free speech. But Roberto wants...
>> Mysterious wolf-like creature shot in Montana Mysterious wolf-like creature shot in Montana Updated: Thursday, May 24 2018 7:58 PM EDT 2018-05-24 23:58:21 GMT
Image Courtesy KXLO via KFBB Image Courtesy KXLO via KFBB DENTON, Mont. - A large wolf-like animal was shot and killed May 16 by a rancher near Denton, Montana. It now has wildlife officials and the public wondering what it was, according to KFBB. The animal came within several hundred yards of the rancher's livestock. Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) said in a statement the rancher shot it and reported it as required by law. The animal was a young, non-lactating female and a canid, a
>> DENTON, Mont. - A large wolf-like animal was shot and killed May 16 by a rancher near Denton, Montana. It now has wildlife officials and the public wondering what it was, according to KFBB. The animal came within several hundred yards of the rancher's livestock. Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) said in a statement the rancher shot it and reported it as required by law. The animal was a young, non-lactating female and a canid, a
>> FIRST ON KHQ: Former Spokane NAACP president Rachel Dolezal facing felony theft charges for welfare fraud FIRST ON KHQ: Former Spokane NAACP president Rachel Dolezal facing felony theft charges for welfare fraud Updated: Friday, May 25 2018 2:09 AM EDT 2018-05-25 06:09:50 GMT
SPOKANE, Wash. - Former Spokane Chapter NAACP President Rachel Dolezal is now facing legal trouble that could land her behind bars. KHQ has confirmed that Dolezal, who legally changed her name to Nkechi Diallo in 2016, is accused of 1st Degree Theft by Welfare Fraud, Perjury in the 2nd Degree, and False Verification for Public Assistance.
>> SPOKANE, Wash. - Former Spokane Chapter NAACP President Rachel Dolezal is now facing legal trouble that could land her behind bars. KHQ has confirmed that Dolezal, who legally changed her name to Nkechi Diallo in 2016, is accused of 1st Degree Theft by Welfare Fraud, Perjury in the 2nd Degree, and False Verification for Public Assistance. Her potential punishment under RCW 74.08.331 could include up to 15 years in prison.
>> Post Falls man killed in motorcycle crash north of Wilbur Post Falls man killed in motorcycle crash north of Wilbur Updated: Saturday, May 26 2018 8:38 PM EDT 2018-05-27 00:38:35 GMT
Spokane man dead after rollover crash in Oregon WILBUR, Wash. - Washington State Patrol reports a Post Falls man was killed in a motorcycle crash Saturday afternoon in Lincoln County. Troopers say it happened just after noon Saturday on State Route 21, about eight miles east of Wilbur. 75-year-old Larry Everett Merriman was headed northbound on the road, driving a black Yamaha XVS11AP motorcycle.
>> WILBUR, Wash. - Washington State Patrol reports a Post Falls man was killed in a motorcycle crash Saturday afternoon in Lincoln County. Troopers say it happened just after noon Saturday on State Route 21, about eight miles east of Wilbur. 75-year-old Larry Everett Merriman was headed northbound on the road, driving a black Yamaha XVS11AP motorcycle.
>> HD DOPPLER 6i Backchannel, 'Dracula' help free Utah man in Venezuela Backchannel, 'Dracula' help free Utah man in Venezuela Updated: Sunday, May 27 2018 9:56 AM EDT 2018-05-27 13:56:56 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) - A secret backchannel led by a veteran Republican Senate staffer and a flamboyant Venezuelan official nicknamed ''Dracula'' broke through hostile relations between the two governments to secure the release of American prisoner Joshua Holt, who traveled to the South American country for love and ended up in jail, without a trial, for two years.
>> WASHINGTON (AP) - A secret backchannel led by a veteran Republican Senate staffer and a flamboyant Venezuelan official nicknamed ''Dracula'' broke through hostile relations between the two governments to secure the release of American prisoner Joshua Holt, who traveled to the South American country for love and ended up in jail, without a trial, for two years.
>> US Gulf Coast braces for impact as Alberto approaches US Gulf Coast braces for impact as Alberto approaches Updated: Sunday, May 27 2018 9:53 AM EDT 2018-05-27 13:53:21 GMT
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Normally packed with vacationers over the Memorial Day weekend, beaches along the eastern U.S. Gulf Coast were largely empty Sunday as a slowly intensifying storm carrying brisk winds and heavy rain approached. Subtropical Storm Alberto - the first named storm of the 2018 hurricane season - prompted Florida, Alabama and Mississippi to launch emergency preparations Saturday.
>> ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Normally packed with vacationers over the Memorial Day weekend, beaches along the eastern U.S. Gulf Coast were largely empty Sunday as a slowly intensifying storm carrying brisk winds and heavy rain approached. Subtropical Storm Alberto - the first named storm of the 2018 hurricane season - prompted Florida, Alabama and Mississippi to launch emergency preparations Saturday.
>> Budget battle brews as Trump threatens another shutdown Budget battle brews as Trump threatens another shutdown Updated: Sunday, May 27 2018 9:44 AM EDT 2018-05-27 13:44:17 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump has warned Congress that he will never sign another foot-tall, $1 trillion-plus government-wide spending bill like the one he did in March. His message to lawmakers in both parties: Get your act together before the next budget lands on my desk. After a brief government shutdown earlier this year, Democrats and Republicans now agree on the need for budgeting day-to-day operations of government by the old-fashioned way.
>> WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump has warned Congress that he will never sign another foot-tall, $1 trillion-plus government-wide spending bill like the one he did in March. His message to lawmakers in both parties: Get your act together before the next budget lands on my desk. After a brief government shutdown earlier this year, Democrats and Republicans now agree on the need for budgeting day-to-day operations of government by the old-fashioned way.
>> Adams County woman considered "danger to children" turns herself in; child safe Adams County woman considered "danger to children" turns herself in; child safe Updated: Saturday, May 26 2018 9:47 PM EDT 2018-05-27 01:47:36 GMT
Yoci L. Godinez-Bustos RITZVILLE, Wash.- UPDATE: The Adams County Sheriff's Office says Yoci Godinez-Bustos turned herself in to authorities Saturday. Adams County deputies said on Facebook that the baby she was traveling with is safe and thanked her family members and friends who helped her decide to turn herself in.
>> RITZVILLE, Wash.- UPDATE: The Adams County Sheriff's Office says Yoci Godinez-Bustos turned herself in to authorities Saturday. Adams County deputies said on Facebook that the baby she was traveling with is safe and thanked her family members and friends who helped her decide to turn herself in.
>> Seoul: North Korea committed to US summit, denuclearization Seoul: North Korea committed to US summit, denuclearization Updated: Saturday, May 26 2018 9:35 PM EDT 2018-05-27 01:35:07 GMT
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korea's president says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un remains committed to holding a summit with President Donald Trump and to the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." South Korean President Moon Jae-in met Kim at the border on Saturday for the second time in a month to discuss how to keep Kim's summit with Trump on a track.
>> SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korea's president says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un remains committed to holding a summit with President Donald Trump and to the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." South Korean President Moon Jae-in met Kim at the border on Saturday for the second time in a month to discuss how to keep Kim's summit with Trump on a track.
>> Racist flyers pop up all over downtown Spokane again Racist flyers pop up all over downtown Spokane again Updated: Saturday, May 26 2018 9:33 PM EDT 2018-05-27 01:33:48 GMT
Spokane, Wash. These flyers were found once again on Saturday placed all over downtown Spokane. Back in March, a group called Identity Evropa put racist posters on Eastern Universities campus. Roberto Rodriguez was walking downtown and happened to catch a glimpse of the flyers "With these posters my thoughts on them is why are we having them up?" questioned Rodriguez. Roberto understands that groups have the right to free speech. But Roberto wants...
>> Spokane, Wash. These flyers were found once again on Saturday placed all over downtown Spokane. Back in March, a group called Identity Evropa put racist posters on Eastern Universities campus. Roberto Rodriguez was walking downtown and happened to catch a glimpse of the flyers "With these posters my thoughts on them is why are we having them up?" questioned Rodriguez. Roberto understands that groups have the right to free speech. But Roberto wants...
>> Trump welcomes freed American after 'ordeal' Trump welcomes freed American after 'ordeal' Updated: Saturday, May 26 2018 9:30 PM EDT 2018-05-27 01:30:17 GMT
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump has welcomed to the White House an American held for two years in a Venezuelan jail, saying the Utah man has undergone a "very tough ordeal." Twenty-six-year-old Joshua Holt and his wife arrived Saturday evening at Washington Dulles International Airport.
>> WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump has welcomed to the White House an American held for two years in a Venezuelan jail, saying the Utah man has undergone a "very tough ordeal." Twenty-six-year-old Joshua Holt and his wife arrived Saturday evening at Washington Dulles International Airport.
>> Scouts honor veterans for Memorial Day with gravesite flags Scouts honor veterans for Memorial Day with gravesite flags Updated: Saturday, May 26 2018 9:22 PM EDT 2018-05-27 01:22:16 GMT
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Thousands of scouts have placed American flags on the graves of veterans in a ceremony ahead of Memorial Day. More than 6,000 children including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts participated in the event Saturday at Los Angeles National Cemetery. Each scout placed a flag in the ground by each grave and saluted.
>> LOS ANGELES (AP) - Thousands of scouts have placed American flags on the graves of veterans in a ceremony ahead of Memorial Day. More than 6,000 children including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts participated in the event Saturday at Los Angeles National Cemetery. Each scout placed a flag in the ground by each grave and saluted.
>> Moses Lake officers help double amputee finish 5K fun run Moses Lake officers help double amputee finish 5K fun run Updated: Saturday, May 26 2018 8:55 PM EDT 2018-05-27 00:55:21 GMT
MOSES LAKE, Wash. - A Moses Lake man's fighting spirit was on full display Saturday morning during a 5K fun run in town. Double amputee Kevin Wheatcroft was running the race, par of Moses Lake's Spring Festival, when police say he had an issue with one of his prosthetic legs. Wheatcroft refused to give up though, and was escorted to the finish by Moses Lake Officers Francis and Harum.
>> MOSES LAKE, Wash. - A Moses Lake man's fighting spirit was on full display Saturday morning during a 5K fun run in town. Double amputee Kevin Wheatcroft was running the race, par of Moses Lake's Spring Festival, when police say he had an issue with one of his prosthetic legs. Wheatcroft refused to give up though, and was escorted to the finish by Moses Lake Officers Francis and Harum.
>> Post Falls man killed in motorcycle crash north of Wilbur Post Falls man killed in motorcycle crash north of Wilbur Updated: Saturday, May 26 2018 8:38 PM EDT 2018-05-27 00:38:35 GMT
Spokane man dead after rollover crash in Oregon WILBUR, Wash. - Washington State Patrol reports a Post Falls man was killed in a motorcycle crash Saturday afternoon in Lincoln County. Troopers say it happened just after noon Saturday on State Route 21, about eight miles east of Wilbur. 75-year-old Larry Everett Merriman was headed northbound on the road, driving a black Yamaha XVS11AP motorcycle.
>> WILBUR, Wash. - Washington State Patrol reports a Post Falls man was killed in a motorcycle crash Saturday afternoon in Lincoln County. Troopers say it happened just after noon Saturday on State Route 21, about eight miles east of Wilbur. 75-year-old Larry Everett Merriman was headed northbound on the road, driving a black Yamaha XVS11AP motorcycle.
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Artificial Interpretation
New Alliance Aims to Decentralize AI With Blockchain: Associations Now
Sun, 27 May 2018 14:32
By Ernie Smith / May 23, 2018 (MF3d/iStock/Getty Images Plus) The Decentralized AI Alliance, announced this week at a tech conference, looks to offer an alternative to more centralized takes on artificial intelligence being used by governments and large companies.Artificial intelligence and blockchain technology seem to be two of the buzziest tech-related topics out there, and a newly announced group promises to bring those two types of tech under a single umbrella.
The Decentralized AI Alliance (DAIA), announced this week, aims to foster work in artificial intelligence that relies on the blockchain for distribution'--with the benefit being that it would increase interoperability and transparency and push the technology away from being controlled by just a handful of companies.
The two main partners in the alliance'--the online marketplace SingularityNET, which is best known for giving the AI robot Sophia her brain, and AI Decentralized, a global initiative of the Association for Computing Machinery'--announced the collaboration at the first AI Decentralized Yearly Summit, which took place in Toronto on Tuesday.
The two organizations hope to share their knowledge in the new group, with the goal of finding new approaches to machine learning, collaborative filtering, and reputation management, among other topics.
According to Crowdfund Insider, SingularityNET CEO Ben Goertzel emphasized that the company wants to build an ecosystem around AI technology that isn't tethered to massive organizational bodies. The group is an answer of sorts to the Partnership on AI, which brought a number of tech companies and other organizational bodies together starting in 2016. Some of the firms involved in the partnership, including Facebook and Google, have since faced data scandals'--scandals that DAIA hopes to avoid, said Goertzel.
''To me, DAIA is more than just another industry organization,'' Goertzel explained in comments reported by Crowdfund Insider. ''It's a movement'--a movement by a network of adventurous technologists and entrepreneurs around the globe, aimed at wresting control of the world's AI and the data and computing power that feeds it from the handful of big tech companies and big governments that are currently threatening dominance.''
This point was echoed by Toufi Saliba, the cofounder of AI Decentralized.
''This responsibility is about knowing that the AI we create today, and that will impact the world for the next 1,000 years and beyond, may be oppressive, or it may be liberating,'' Saliba said, according to VentureBeat. ''This is why we are creating mechanisms that will financially incentivize people to create AI that will be liberating and act for the greater good.''
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BTC
Bitcoin Price Sinks Amid a New Federal Probe Into Cryptocurrency Price Manipulation
Fri, 25 May 2018 13:19
Bitcoin's price fell by more than 3% on Thursday morning following the news of a U.S. Justice Department probe into price manipulation in cryptocurrency markets.
The investigation was revealed in a Bloomberg piece that said federal prosecutors were working with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on the private review.
The investigation is reportedly focused on the possibility that some may be employing tactics such as flooding markets with fake orders, in order to manipulate prices.
It is certainly the case that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are frequently subject to wild swings that are not easily explained, so this might be why. It may also be true that not all exchanges implement strict controls to spot and stop this sort of cheating.
Bitcoin, currently at a price of just $7,380 (down 6.4% in the last 24 hours' trading), almost hit $20,000 late last year. The subsequent tumbles in its price were largely precipitated by crackdowns on exchanges.
China took the most drastic steps, first by banning initial coin offerings'--a form of fund-raising involving the issuance of cryptocurrency tokens'--and then by banning exchanges outright. New exchange regulations in South Korea and Japan also caused drops in Bitcoin's price.
The New York attorney general last month launched an initial probe into the measures that exchanges are taking to protect customers and provide transparency in their operations.
Bitcoin Price Manipulation Probe Launched By Justice Department - Bloomberg
Fri, 25 May 2018 13:21
The Justice Department has opened a criminal probe into whether traders are manipulating the price of Bitcoin and other digital currencies, dramatically ratcheting up U.S. scrutiny of red-hot markets that critics say are rife with misconduct, according to four people familiar with the matter.
The investigation is focused on illegal practices that can influence prices -- such as spoofing, or flooding the market with fake orders to trick other traders into buying or selling, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the review is private. Federal prosecutors are working with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a financial regulator that oversees derivatives tied to Bitcoin, the people said.
Authorities worry that virtual currencies are susceptible to fraud for multiple reasons: skepticism that all exchanges are actively pursuing cheaters, wild price swings that could make it easy to push valuations around and a lack of regulations like the ones that govern stocks and other assets.
Bitcoin extended its Thursday declines after Bloomberg News reported the investigation, and was down 3 percent to $7,409 as of 9:32 a.m. London time. It's down more than 20 percent since a May 4 peak.
Such concerns have prompted China to ban cryptocurrency exchanges and nations including Japan and the Philippines to regulate them, contributing to a slump that has sent Bitcoin below $8,000 this year. Still, digital coins continue to be a global investment craze, drawing legions of loyalists to industry conferences, generating celebrity endorsements and increasingly attracting the attention of Wall Street.
Traders Colluding?The illicit tactics that the Justice Department is looking into include spoofing and wash trading -- forms of cheating that regulators have spent years trying to root out of futures and equities markets, the people said. In spoofing, a trader submits a spate of orders and then cancels them once prices move in a desired direction. Wash trades involve a cheater trading with herself to give a false impression of market demand that lures other to dive in too. Coins prosecutors are examining include Bitcoin and Ether, the people said.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment and CFTC officials didn't respond to requests for comment.
Spoofing Is a Silly Name for Serious Market Rigging: QuickTake
The investigation, which the people said is in its early stages, is the U.S.'s latest effort to crack down on an industry that was initially embraced by those who were distrustful of banks and government control over monetary policy.
But Bitcoin's meteoric rise -- it surged to almost $20,000 in 2017 after starting the year below $1,000 -- has been a lure for mom-and-pop investors. That's prompted regulators to grow concerned that people are jumping into cryptocurrencies without knowing the risks. For instance, the Securities and Exchange Commission has opened dozens of investigations into initial coin offerings, in which companies sell digital tokens that can be redeemed for goods and services, due to suspicions that many are scams.
Read More: SEC Tries to Scam ICO Investors to Show Them How Easy It Is
Cryptocurrency trading is fragmented on dozens of platforms across the globe, and many aren't registered with the CFTC or SEC. As a derivatives watchdog, the CFTC doesn't regulate what's known as the spot market for digital tokens -- which is the trading of actual coins rather than futures linked to them. But if the agency finds fraud in spot markets, it does have authority to impose sanctions.
Fraud TargetThe limited oversight of crypto trading makes it a target for crooks, said John Griffin, a University of Texas finance professor who has studied manipulation, including in digital-coin markets.
''There's very little monitoring of manipulative trading, spoofing and wash trading,'' Griffin said. ''It would be easy to spoof this market.''
Signs are emerging that some crypto exchanges realize the industry's growth could be constrained if large swaths of investors conclude that trading platforms have a ''buyer beware'' approach to oversight.
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss
Photographer: David Paul Morris
The Winklevoss twins, who are known for getting rich off Facebook Inc., hired Nasdaq Inc. last month to conduct surveillance of digital coins trading on their exchange, Gemini Trust Co. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss have also urged trading platforms to band together to form a group that would serve as a self regulator for the industry.
Read More: A Crypto Giant Fights Cheating. Another Says That's Mind Control
Some market participants have alleged that crypto manipulation is rampant. Last year, a blogger flagged the actions of ''Spoofy,'' a nickname for a trader or group of traders that have allegedly placed $1 million orders without executing them.
(Updates with Bitcoin price in fourth paragraph. )
CLIPS
VIDEO - VIDEO : France: Thousands protest against President Macron's economic reforms | Euronews
Sun, 27 May 2018 14:46
Yet some of the reforms are popular polls suggest, such as at the state-owned SNCF railway company that would see an end to job-for-life contracts.
Read full article
VIDEO - Ireland overturns abortion ban in historic vote | Euronews
Sun, 27 May 2018 14:42
Ireland has voted overwhelmingly to repeal its ban on abortion in a referendum the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar described as a ''quiet revolution.''
The result was a landslide 66.4% 'yes' vote against 33.6% who voted 'no'.
Voters were asked if they wished to scrap the eighth amendment, which gives an unborn child equal rights to life as a pregnant mother.
Currently, abortion is only allowed when a woman's life is at risk, but not in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality.
Only one constituency- Donegal- voted against repealing the bill. 51.9% voted against the change.
"A quiet revolution"
Varadkar, who campaigned to repeal the laws, had called the vote a once-in-a-generation chance.
''What we see is the culmination of a quiet revolution that has been taking place in Ireland over the last couple of decades,'' said Varadkar to journalists in Dublin, who became Ireland's first openly gay prime minister last year.
Record turnout
The final result was announced at Dublin castle where many campaigners for change hugged each other and broke into tears.
Over two million people showed up to the polls on Friday, voter turnout reached 64%, which is one of the highest for a referendum in Ireland.
Tributes were also paid to Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year old Indian dentist, who died in 2012 after developing sepsis following a miscarriage. Her parents were quoted by the Irish Times newspaper as thanking their ''brothers and sisters'' in Ireland and requesting the new law be called ''Savita's law.''
Savita's name was chanted by YES campaigners at Dublin Castle, where the results were announced.
One woman was seen handing out After Eights, a mint chocolate, to people in the crowd.
Voters backed the ban by two-to-one, a far higher margin than any opinion poll in the run-up to the vote had predicted. The result allows the government to bring in legislation by the end of the year.
Anti-abortion activists conceded defeat early on Saturday as their opponents expressed astonishment at the scale of their victory. Lawmakers who campaigned for a ''No'' vote said they would not seek to block the government's legislation.
''What Irish voters did yesterday is a tragedy of historic proportions,'' the Save The 8th group said. ''However, a wrong does not become a right simply because a majority support it.''
Amnesty International, the rights group, welcomed the referendum result as "a victory for equality, for dignity, for respect and compassion." But it said Northern Ireland's abortion laws must now be relaxed.
Access to abortion is also highly restricted across the border in Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
Could the result put pressure on Northern Ireland?
The Irish vote could put the spotlight on Northern Ireland, which has highly restrictive abortion laws. Northern Ireland will soon become the only place in the UK and Ireland '' and most of Europe '' where terminations are outlawed apart from in the most exceptional circumstances.
Jim Wells, a member of Northern Ireland's socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party, said ''it is inevitable that the abortion industry based in Great Britain will set up clinics in border towns,'' he said. ''The outcome of the referendum is an extremely worrying development for the protection of the unborn child in Northern Ireland.''
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VIDEO - Mussels off the coast of Seattle test positive for opioids - CBS News
Sun, 27 May 2018 14:10
As more and more American communities grapple with opioid addiction, the human toll of the epidemic has grown in both scope and severity. And now, scientists at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have found evidence that drug's impact has literally flowed downstream to affect marine life, as well.
Specifically, they used mussels as a barometer of pollution in the waters off Seattle, and discovered that oxycodone is now present enough in the marine environment there for shellfish to test positive.
Since mussels are "filter feeders," they absorb contaminants from their environment into their tissues in a concentrated way. Scientists used cages to transplant clean mussels from an aquaculture source on Whidbey Island to 18 urbanized locations around Puget Sound. Several months later, they pulled those previously uncontaminated mussels back out of the urban waters and, together with the Puget Sound Institute, tested them again.
In three of the 18 locations, the mussels then tested positive for trace amounts of oxycodone. How, you ask?
When humans ingest opioids like oxycodone, they ultimately end up excreting traces of the drugs into the toilet. Those chemicals then end up in wastewater. And while many contaminants are filtered out of wastewater before it's released into the oceans, wastewater management systems can't entirely filter out drugs. Thus, opioids, antidepressants, the common chemotherapy drug Melphalan -- the mussels tested positive for all of them.
"What we eat and what we excrete goes into the Puget Sound," Jennifer Lanksbury, a biologist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, told CBS Seattle affiliate KIRO. "It's telling me there's a lot of people taking oxycodone in the Puget Sound area."
While mussels likely don't metabolize drugs like oxycodone, and thus wouldn't necessarily be physically harmed by the presence of it in their tissues, studies show that fish are not so lucky. In fact, scientists at the University of Utah recently discovered that, if given the opportunity, zebrafish will willingly dose themselves with opioids. Scientists say salmon and other fish might have a similar response.
The Puget Sound Institute notes that the amounts of opioids detected were thousands of times smaller than a typical human dose. And none of the mussels tested are near any commercial shellfish beds.
Still, the discovery of opioid-positive shellfish in Puget Sound is a stark new milestone in the epidemic, showing that enough humans are hooked on these life-altering drugs for the trace chemicals they excrete to register in other species in our coastal waters.
(C) 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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Sun, 27 May 2018 14:24
VIDEO - Alberto to make landfall on US Gulf Coast to end Memorial Day weekend
Sun, 27 May 2018 13:54
Flooding will remain the greatest concern across the southeastern United States as Alberto churns northward with an expected landfall at the end of the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Governors of Florida and Mississippi have declared states of emergencies ahead of the advancing subtropical storm.
Alberto is currently disorganized, but environmental conditions are expected to become more conducive for Alberto to become fully tropical and a stronger tropical storm into Monday.
While odds favor Alberto failing to do so, it is not out of the question for it to become a minimal hurricane before making landfall on the U.S. upper Gulf Coast to close out the holiday weekend.
Landfall expected between New Orleans and Tallahassee
"Landfall is expected to occur between New Orleans and Tallahassee, Florida,'' AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey said. Cities where Alberto can move onshore include Gulfport, Mississippi; Mobile, Alabama; and Pensacola and Panama City, Florida.
Alberto could make landfall as early as Monday morning or as late as Monday evening.
Rain and wind is expected to increase along the upper Gulf Coast on Memorial Day as Alberto approaches.
''Because of the expected factors that will work against [significant] strengthening, Alberto is not anticipated to have a large wind field as it approaches the Gulf Coast,'' Duffey said.
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That will result in a small area of winds that can lead to power outages and tree damage in the vicinity of where Alberto comes onshore. Weaker structures may also sustain damage.
''Gusts past 40 mph could extend as far east as the central Florida Panhandle,'' Duffey said. These wind gusts may also graze the west coast of the Florida Peninsula, including Tampa, on Sunday.
Additional damage may occur where isolated tornadoes spin up east of Alberto's track.
As the winds drive ocean water onshore, a total inundation of storm surge flooding can reach 2 to 4 feet above ground near and east of where Alberto's. The worst-case scenario will be if the peak surge coincides with high tide.
Anyone spending the Memorial Day holiday along the upper Gulf Coast is encouraged to monitor advice from government officials and heed all evacuation orders.
Flooding rain will pose the greatest and most widespread threat to lives and property. The slow-movement of Alberto can produce an excessive amount of rain along the upper Gulf Coast. Totals can range from 10-20 inches, near and east of the storm's track.
More evacuations may get issued as runoff from the torrential rain can trigger severe flooding, which may inundate some homes and communities. Roads or bridges may become flooded or damaged.
While the risk for damaging winds will lessen after Alberto makes landfall, the flood danger will expand northward into the Tennessee Valley in the days following Memorial Day.
Sharp contrast west of Alberto's track
Over a span of less than 300 miles, the weather will be dramatically different in Pensacola, Florida, than Lake Charles, Louisiana.
''Winds will be much lighter west of Alberto's track, and drier air being pulled into the storm will keep these areas largely rain-free,'' AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.
SEE ALSO: Preparing for the costliest weather disaster in the US: How to stay safe before, during and after a flood 6 ways to prepare now for hurricanes How to avoid the potentially deadly grip of a rip current What you should do if you get stuck driving in floodwaters
The western edge of the rain may be so sharp that a track over Mobile, Alabama, could allow New Orleans to escape with weather no worse than a typical summer day with thunderstorms around.
Southeastern US already enduring impacts from Alberto
While the worst of Alberto will focus on the upper Gulf Coast at the end of the holiday weekend, impacts have begun across the Southeast.
''Heavy rain and thunderstorms are already impacting far-southern Florida and Cuba and will spread northward with the storm,'' according Duffey, who also expressed concern for landslides in western Cuba.
Anyone spending the holiday weekend in Miami and Orlando, Florida; Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia; Columbia and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; the Outer Banks of North Carolina; and Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama, should remain vigilant of downpours that can cause localized flash flooding.
A downpour moving over Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday evening could delay or halt NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600.
Areas where the ground has already been left saturated from recent downpours will be most susceptible to flooding this holiday weekend.
Downpours can be most numerous and bring a greater threat for flooding along Florida's west coast, including Naples and Tampa, than at the Atlantic beaches.
As the heavy rain from Alberto spreads to the north, so will the risk for isolated tornado across Florida and into southern Georgia.
Seas will also build and become dangerous for boaters and swimmers across the eastern and central Gulf of Mexico. The danger of rip currents may also increase along the Texas coast and the Atlantic Ocean beaches of the Southeast during the holiday weekend.
The pounding seas may lead to coastal flooding along the west coast of Florida's Peninsula at high tide.
With Alberto starting the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season early, now is a good time for all residents in hurricane-prone areas to review preparedness tips.
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VIDEO - Woman says her Amazon device recorded private conversation, sent it out to random contact | KIRO-TV
Sun, 27 May 2018 13:28
");}if ($(imageDivId).length == 0) {$("#wrapper").after(contentText);} })(jQuery); A Portland family contacted Amazon to investigate after they say a private conversation in their home was recorded by Amazon's Alexa -- the voice-controlled smart speaker -- and that the recorded audio was sent to the phone of a random person in Seattle, who was in the family's contact list.
"My husband and I would joke and say I'd bet these devices are listening to what we're saying," said Danielle, who did not want us to use her last name.
[May 25 update: See an additional statement from Amazon below.]
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Every room in her family home was wired with the Amazon devices to control her home's heat, lights and security system.
But Danielle said two weeks ago their love for Alexa changed with an alarming phone call. "The person on the other line said, 'unplug your Alexa devices right now,'" she said. "'You're being hacked.'"
That person was one of her husband's employees, calling from Seattle.
"We unplugged all of them and he proceeded to tell us that he had received audio files of recordings from inside our house," she said. "At first, my husband was, like, 'no you didn't!' And the (recipient of the message) said 'You sat there talking about hardwood floors.' And we said, 'oh gosh, you really did hear us.'"
Danielle listened to the conversation when it was sent back to her, and she couldn't believe someone 176 miles away heard it too.
"I felt invaded," she said. "A total privacy invasion. Immediately I said, 'I'm never plugging that device in again, because I can't trust it.'"
Danielle says she unplugged all the devices, and she repeatedly called Amazon. She says an Alexa engineer investigated.
"They said 'our engineers went through your logs, and they saw exactly what you told us, they saw exactly what you said happened, and we're sorry.' He apologized like 15 times in a matter of 30 minutes and he said we really appreciate you bringing this to our attention, this is something we need to fix!"
But Danielle says the engineer did not provide specifics about why it happened, or if it's a widespread issue.
"He told us that the device just guessed what we were saying," she said. Danielle said the device did not audibly advise her it was preparing to send the recording, something it's programmed to do.
When KIRO 7 asked Amazon questions, they sent this response:
''Amazon takes privacy very seriously. We investigated what happened and determined this was an extremely rare occurrence. We are taking steps to avoid this from happening in the future."
Thursday afternoon, Amazon spokeswoman Shelby Lichliter sent this statement:
''Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like 'Alexa.' Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a ''send message'' request. At which point, Alexa said out loud 'To whom?' At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customer's contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, '[contact name], right?' Alexa then interpreted background conversation as 'right.' As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely.''
Amazon offered to ''de-provision'' Danielle's Alexa communications so she could keep using its Smart Home Features. But Danielle is hoping Amazon gives her a refund for her devices, which she said their representatives have been unwilling to do. She says she's curious to find out if anyone else has experienced the same issue.
"A husband and wife in the privacy of their home have conversations that they're not expecting to be sent to someone (in) their address book," she said.
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VIDEO - Morgan Freeman accused of inappropriate behavior, harassment - CNN
Thu, 24 May 2018 20:09
(CNN)A young production assistant thought she had landed the job of her dreams when, in the summer of 2015, she started work on "Going In Style," a bank heist comedy starring Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin.
But the job quickly devolved into several months of harassment, she told CNN. She alleges that Freeman subjected her to unwanted touching and comments about her figure and clothing on a near-daily basis. Freeman would rest his hand on her lower back or rub her lower back, she said.
In one incident, she said, Freeman "kept trying to lift up my skirt and asking if I was wearing underwear." He never successfully lifted her skirt, she said -- he would touch it and try to lift it, she would move away, and then he'd try again. Eventually, she said, "Alan [Arkin] made a comment telling him to stop. Morgan got freaked out and didn't know what to say."
Freeman's alleged inappropriate behavior was not limited to that one movie set, according to other sources who spoke to CNN. A woman who was a senior member of the production staff of the movie "Now You See Me" in 2012 told CNN that Freeman sexually harassed her and her female assistant on numerous occasions by making comments about their bodies.
"He did comment on our bodies... We knew that if he was coming by ... not to wear any top that would show our breasts, not to wear anything that would show our bottoms, meaning not wearing clothes that [were] fitted," she said.
At 80 years old, Freeman is one of Hollywood's biggest stars, with a movie career that spans nearly five decades. His starring roles in movies like "Driving Miss Daisy" and "Shawshank Redemption" in the late 1980s and early 1990s made him a household name. He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for 2004's "Million Dollar Baby," and has earned four other Oscar nominations. His voiceover work has also become iconic, including his narration for the Academy Award-winning documentaries "The Long Way Home" and "March of the Penguins."
In all, 16 people spoke to CNN about Freeman as part of this investigation, eight of whom said they were victims of what some called harassment and others called inappropriate behavior by Freeman. Eight said they witnessed Freeman's alleged conduct. These 16 people together described a pattern of inappropriate behavior by Freeman on set, while promoting his movies and at his production company Revelations Entertainment.
Of those 16, seven people described an environment at Revelations Entertainment that included allegations of harassment or inappropriate behavior by Freeman there, with one incident allegedly witnessed by Lori McCreary, Freeman's co-founder in the enterprise, and another in which she was the target of demeaning comments by Freeman in a public setting. One of those seven people alleged that McCreary made a discriminatory remark regarding a female candidate for a job at the Producers Guild of America, where McCreary is co-president.
Four people who worked in production capacities on movie sets with Freeman over the last ten years described him as repeatedly behaving in ways that made women feel uncomfortable at work. Two, including the production assistant on "Going in Style" whose skirt he allegedly attempted to lift, said Freeman subjected them to unwanted touching. Three said he made public comments about women's clothing or bodies. But each of them said they didn't report Freeman's behavior, with most saying it was because they feared for their jobs. Instead, some of the women -- both on movie sets and at Revelations -- said, they came up with ways to combat the alleged harassment on their own, such as by changing the way they dressed when they knew he would be around.
CNN reached out to dozens more people who worked for or with Freeman. Some praised Freeman, saying they never witnessed any questionable behavior or that he was a consummate professional on set and in the office.
Several other times during this investigation, when a CNN reporter contacted a person who had worked with Freeman to try to ask them if they had seen or been subjected to inappropriate behavior by an actor they had worked with -- not initially even naming the actor they were asking about -- the person would immediately tell them they knew exactly who the reporter had in mind: Morgan Freeman. Some of those people were sources for this investigation while others declined to comment further or did not want what they said used in this story.
The pattern of behavior described by those who spoke with CNN shows another example of the systematic problems that exist in the entertainment industry. The allegations against Freeman are not about things that happened in private; they are about things that allegedly happened in public, in front of witnesses -- even in front of cameras. Before #MeToo, many men in the industry could behave without fear of consequences, because many times when a powerful man did so, it was the victim who suffered repercussions.
CNN reached out to Freeman's spokesperson for comment and then, at his request, emailed him a detailed list of the accusations against Freeman. The spokesperson did not respond to multiple follow-ups by email seeking comment on the accusations. After this article was published, Freeman released a statement in which he said, "Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected '-- that was never my intent."
CNN also reached out to a spokesperson for McCreary, and then provided her with a detailed list of accusations regarding Freeman's alleged behavior at Revelations and details of the accusation against her as well as a number of questions for her regarding Freeman's alleged behavior at Revelations and the environment there. The spokesperson did not respond to multiple follow-ups by email seeking comment.
The allegations of inappropriate behavior by Freeman are not limited to the confines of his company or to movie sets. Three entertainment reporters who spoke to CNN said Freeman made inappropriate remarks to them during press junkets, which are publicity events for journalists who cover new films, typically attended by the movie's biggest stars.
One of the three, CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas, the co-author of this article, says she was subjected to inappropriate behavior by Freeman more than a year ago, when she interviewed him at a press junket for "Going in Style." According to Melas, who was six months pregnant at the time, Freeman, in a room full of people, including his co-stars Arkin and Caine, shook Melas' hand, not letting go while repeatedly looking her up and down and saying more than once a variation of, "I wish I was there." She says he also said to her, "You are ripe." Cameras were on and recording during one of Freeman's remarks to Melas -- "Boy, do I wish I was there" -- but not for the rest. As is common practice with such junkets, Melas was the only CNN employee there at the time.
Afterward, Melas reported what had happened to her supervisor, who instructed her to inform CNN human resources. According to Melas, she was told that CNN HR contacted their counterparts at human resources for Warner Bros., which produced and distributed the movie, and which like CNN is owned by Time Warner. Melas said she was also told that Warner Bros. HR could not corroborate the account because only one of Freeman's remarks was on video and the Warner Bros. employees present did not notice anything. Melas and her supervisor agreed that she would not cover the movie.
Asked for comment, a spokesperson for Warner Bros. confirmed that what Melas was told was accurate, but declined to comment further. A representative for Caine declined to comment. A representative for Arkin said he was not available for comment.
After the encounter with Freeman, Melas started making calls to see if other women had experienced anything similar, or whether this was an isolated incident. She soon learned that other women had similar stories -- and so she, and later her co-author, began this months-long reporting process.
Inside Revelations Entertainment
Freeman and Lori McCreary founded Revelations Entertainment in 1996. Variety reported last year that Freeman
started the company with McCreary because he was frustrated by the lack of choice roles for black actors and because he wanted to reveal the truth about serious issues -- a mission that inspired the name "Revelations."
The company's credits include a list of ambitious films about religion, apartheid, astronomy and stem cell research. Revelations also produced the film "Along Came a Spider" and the hit CBS show "Madam Secretary," both of which feature strong female leads.
But former staffers who spoke with CNN say that behind the fa§ade of a progressive and artistic agenda the company's two founders created what one called a "toxic" work environment. Six former staffers said they witnessed Freeman's questionable behavior around women, which they said included sexual comments and one said included an incident of unsolicited touching. One female former staffer said she was the target of sexual comments by Freeman.
The female former employee at Revelations told CNN that Freeman was flanked by a group of men on the set of "Through the Wormhole" when she met the actor for the first time. He "looked me up and down," she said, and then asked her, "How do you feel about sexual harassment?"
"I was stunned," she told CNN. "This is the person that I worked for, this is his company, I didn't expect it at all ... I said timidly, 'I love it' in a sarcastic way hoping to make light of the situation because I was so confused and then he turned to the guys on the crew ... and said, 'See guys, this is how you do it.'"
One woman who was a manager at Revelations told CNN that sometimes Freeman would "come over to my desk to say hi and he'd just stand there and stare at me. He would stare at my breasts."
"If I ever passed him he would stare at me in an awkward way, would look me up and down sometimes stopping and just staring," she said. "One time he stopped, looked me up and down as I walked into a room of people, and everyone burst out laughing. And I literally froze feeling very uncomfortable and one of the people in the office said, 'Don't worry, that's just Morgan.'"
"That sort of interaction was when I stopped wearing a skirt around the office when he was there," said the former manager. "I can't say it was an accident that I'd be wearing a potato sack and a ponytail on certain days when he was there and do my best to avoid him when he was in the office."
Freeman was not in the office on a daily basis, the former employees said. But when he did show up, he behaved like a "creepy uncle," in the words of a male former employee. "One time I witnessed Morgan walk up to an intern and start massaging her" shoulder, he said. "The intern got visibly red and wiggled out of his grasp, it was awkward." The incident stood out to him because Freeman was using only one hand to touch the intern, as his other was injured in a 2008 car accident that was widely covered by the press. Another former employee told CNN she was present when the male former employee told several people about this incident shortly after it occurred.
CNN spoke to two male witnesses who each saw a separate occasion in which Freeman asked women to twirl. One instance occurred at the office, while another happened at an off-site company event.
Another incident stood out to people who spoke with CNN who witnessed it. Two former staffers who were there, and a writer for the show "Madam Secretary" who also attended, each described the scene to CNN.
For his 79th birthday, Revelations threw Freeman a party in the office. According to the sources, roughly 30 people attended the party, some of whom were new to the company and had never met the actor. McCreary was among those in attendance, the sources said.
People at the party had to stand in a circle, a former executive at the company who attended the party told CNN, and tell Freeman who they were and what they did. Then, the former executive said, Freeman went up to women in the circle and would "stand maybe within an inch of their face and just look them up and down and not say anything, and then would move on to the next woman and he'd stand like within an inch of their face and look them up and down and not say anything, and it was really, really strange." The former executive added, "It was really weird and he did it to every woman but of course he didn't do it to any of the men. He didn't speak to any of the men."
The writer for "Madam Secretary" who was at the party said, "We saw Morgan go around to the girls in the circle and get really close to their faces, he didn't do it to the men. I don't know what he said but we all thought it was strange and couldn't wait to get the hell out of there. Absolutely there were sexual undertones to it." After the #MeToo movement began, the same writer said, writers on the show joked -- with that incident in mind -- "that Morgan would be the next person to be called out."
McCreary herself has also been
the subject of demeaning comments by Freeman. In front of what was reportedly an audience of 400 people at 2016's Produced By conference, Freeman described what she was wearing during their first meeting, saying, "She had on a dress cut to here."
"She wants to be thought of as serious," said Freeman of McCreary, who was on the same panel. "But you can't get away from the short dresses."
Freeman
stood by his comments when he appeared a few days later on the "Today" show and host Savannah Guthrie said some people were "surprised" by the remarks he made on the panel.
"It was just something I said in jest about when I first met her, it was more than 20 years ago," he said to Guthrie. "How is that news?"
The Hollywood Reporter reported at the time that McCreary "did not visibly react to the comment." One of the former Revelations executives told CNN that McCreary was visibly upset when she returned to the office.
"I tried to console her and she was clearly upset and I think she was surprised and found it hurtful and embarrassing," said the former executive. "She was devastated."
Five sources told CNN that there was no formal human resources department at Revelations at the time. There was a rotation of executives who served as the point of contact for HR issues, but former staffers said they did not feel comfortable talking to senior personnel about their workplace grievances. This prompted some staffers to form a "survivors club" where they gathered to vent about their experiences at Revelations, according to five sources who have been to the gatherings, which take place outside of the office.
Publicly, McCreary champions the #MeToo and Time's Up movements. Two days before January's Screen Actors Guild awards, at which Freeman accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award, McCreary released a statement on behalf of the Producers Guild of America (PGA), to say that its board ratified new anti-sexual harassment guidelines for its members. "The PGA is indebted to Time's Up as a resource in creating our protocols," she said in a press release issued with her co-president Gary Lucchesi, referring to the initiative aimed at fighting harassment and discrimination against women.
Yet the former Revelations employee who said Freeman asked her how she felt about sexual harassment also alleged that on a phone call with a member of PGA, McCreary said of a candidate vying for a position at PGA East, "she'll never be able to do a good job, she has a family."
Two former senior level Revelations employees said McCreary would openly mock women who had to leave work early for family commitments and school functions. McCreary also allegedly said that some employees couldn't handle big workloads because they had to "run home" to their families and therefore couldn't stay late at work, according to one of the sources. She openly advocated for work-life balance, that source said, but she would make "snide" remarks to those who left work early.
A spokesperson for the PGA said in a statement, "The Producers Guild of America is an Equal Opportunity Employer that does not question or consider marital or parental status in its hiring practices. As soon as CNN notified us about the allegation, we investigated the matter and have found that it has no merit. Lori McCreary is an outstanding PGA President. In all of her work with the Guild, she has been a consistent, vocal, and proactive advocate for women and all who are underrepresented in our community."
A spokesperson for McCreary did not respond to repeated follow-up requests for comment regarding the allegations against McCreary.
On set
One of the former male Revelations employees recounted to CNN what he called the "shocking" remarks that Freeman made while he was on set for a number of Freeman's movies. What he says he witnessed follows the pattern described by the women who said they were harassed by Freeman.
"[He'd say] things like 'I'd like to have an hour with her' or make vulgar and sexual comments about women," the former employee said. "He would be verbally inappropriate and it was just shocking. You're more shocked than anything because it's hard to have the wherewithal to say to him 'That's inappropriate.' You're just like 'whoa.' It's hard because on any set he is the most powerful person on it. It's weird because you just don't expect it from Morgan Freeman, someone who you respect."
The female production assistant (PA) mentioned at the beginning of this story who worked on "Going In Style" said she was in her early 20s when Freeman, then 78 years old, harassed her. She said the experience led to her decision to leave the movie industry.
"It was constant comments about the way I looked," she said, adding that Freeman often made the comments within earshot of others on the production staff. She said she frequently came home from work in tears.
The woman recalled a time when she went to the set wearing a dress with a t-shirt over it to cover her exposed back, but "Morgan said to me that I shouldn't be wearing the shirt over my dress."
Another female production assistant who witnessed this particular alleged incident told CNN that Freeman's behavior towards the younger female production staff was an unchecked and persistent issue during filming. Both women said the t-shirt incident took place in front of a group of people and that they heard at least one other woman publicly chastise Freeman for that particular comment. The behavior was discussed among the women he targeted, the female production assistant said.
A third woman who worked on a recent movie of Freeman's recalled an incident at the film's wrap party. "He was looking at my breasts, and I told him, 'My eyes are up here.' Then we went to take a group photo and he pressed himself up against me. It was inappropriate."
CNN spoke to one of the woman's colleagues on the film, who said that as soon as the photo was taken, the woman walked over and told a group of people what Freeman had done to her.
Another production assistant, who worked with Freeman on "The Dark Knight," told CNN that although she was never personally targeted by Freeman, she witnessed some inappropriate comments Freeman made to female members of the crew. She also said that female members of the crew would at times discuss how Freeman had made them feel uncomfortable.
"Morgan did things in a way that an older more established person can get away with because they have that power," she told CNN. "They can't be replaced, but you can be replaced very easily, that's just kind of the dynamic on set. PA's can be replaced, grips can be replaced, electricians can be replaced, but the actors -- once they're in, they're in. Had it been somebody else on the crew... I would feel comfortable reporting them because I wouldn't feel like my job would be in danger by reporting them, but if you report somebody like Morgan Freeman that the movie would lose a lot of money by replacing them or getting them in trouble, then you're the trouble maker and you'll get fired because you're just a PA."
With reporters
Freeman's alleged fixation on how women dressed was apparent when he hit the road to promote his films, as was his alleged pattern of looking women up and down while making sexually suggestive comments to them.
As the entertainment producer at Chicago's WGN-TV, Tyra Martin spent hours interviewing Freeman at various press junkets. Over the course of a decade, she said, she sat down with him at least nine times and grew accustomed to his comments about her appearance. But Martin made it clear in an interview with CNN that she was always "in on the joke." WGN produced videos featuring some of Freeman's remarks to Martin, describing it as him flirting with her. But Martin felt that one incident crossed a line.
"When I stood up, I pulled my skirt part of my dress down and he did say, 'Oh, don't pull it down now.'" Martin said. "That gave me pause but I never felt uncomfortable."
It is unclear whether video of that incident exists.
An entertainment reporter who is a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association said Freeman made comments about her skirt and her legs during two different junkets. Much like many of the women in this report and those who declined to go on the record, the reporter said Freeman's fame and power kept her from speaking out.
"I was just trying to do my job and I brushed it off," said the reporter, who did not want to be identified for this story because she's fearful of losing out on interviews with other celebrities.
"You don't want to put him on the spot because one, he's famous and two, it's on camera and three, you just want to do your job."
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