Thursday, June 22, 2017

TrumpCare Crisis

With the healthcare crisis looming I decided to share my story on twitter so people would understand how deeply personal this issue is for me. 

I got this lovely response and would like to share it with you all:

https://twitter.com/chilliehpenguin/status/877525406508863488

Holy shit dunno how I missed this thread… Reading your story made me realise just what a deadbeat I am. You've been through hell and back with trophies! Words can't express the respect I have for you right now.

Sometimes I can't help but wonder what I did to deserve being born relatively healthy and privileged, and living my life without death or rape threats. I bet the world would be a much better place if the gender roles were reversed and 95% politicians were female.

OK a bit off track… What I'm trying to say is: Elyssa, it's an honour to, um, tweet with you and you have officially become my motivation! https://twitter.com/ChilliehPenguin/status/877525406508863488

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Russian Cyber Hacks on U.S. Electoral System Far Wider Than Previously Known

Russian Cyber Hacks on U.S. Electoral System Far Wider Than Previously Known - Bloomberg
That's what I heard MONTHS ago. Let's move this along already.

Russian Cyber Hacks on U.S. Electoral System Far Wider Than Previously Known

Russia's cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump's election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported.

In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said.

The scope and sophistication so concerned Obama administration officials that they took an unprecedented step -- complaining directly to Moscow over a modern-day "red phone." In October, two of the people said, the White House contacted the Kremlin on the back channel to offer detailed documents of what it said was Russia's role in election meddling and to warn that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict.

Unwinding the Twists, Turns in Trump-Russia Probe: QuickTake Q&A

The new details, buttressed by a classified National Security Agency document recently disclosed by the Intercept, show the scope of alleged hacking that federal investigators are scrutinizing as they look into whether Trump campaign officials may have colluded in the efforts. But they also paint a worrisome picture for future elections: The newest portrayal of potentially deep vulnerabilities in the U.S.'s patchwork of voting technologies comes less than a week after former FBI Director James Comey warned Congress that Moscow isn't done meddling.

"They're coming after America," Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the election. "They will be back."

A spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington declined to comment on the agency's probe.

Kremlin Denials

Russian officials have publicly denied any role in cyber attacks connected to the U.S. elections, including a massive "spear phishing" effort that compromised Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee, among hundreds of other groups. President Vladimir Putin said in recent comments to reporters that criminals inside the country could have been involved without having been sanctioned by the Russian government.

One of the mysteries about the 2016 presidential election is why Russian intelligence, after gaining access to state and local systems, didn't try to disrupt the vote. One possibility is that the American warning was effective. Another former senior U.S. official, who asked for anonymity to discuss the classified U.S. probe into pre-election hacking, said a more likely explanation is that several months of hacking failed to give the attackers the access they needed to master America's disparate voting systems spread across more than 7,000 local jurisdictions.

How to See If Russia Meddled With Your Vote

How to See If Russia Meddled With Your Vote

How to See If Russia Meddled With Your Vote

Such operations need not change votes to be effective. In fact, the Obama administration believed that the Russians were possibly preparing to delete voter registration information or slow vote tallying in order to undermine confidence in the election. That effort went far beyond the carefully timed release of private communications by individuals and parties.

One former senior U.S. official expressed concern that the Russians now have three years to build on their knowledge of U.S. voting systems before the next presidential election, and there is every reason to believe they will use what they have learned in future attacks.

Secure Channel

As the first test of a communication system designed to de-escalate cyber conflict between the two countries, the cyber "red phone" -- not a phone, in fact, but a secure messaging channel for sending urgent messages and documents -- didn't quite work as the White House had hoped. NBC News first reported that use of the red phone by the White House last December.

The White House provided evidence gathered on Russia's hacking efforts and reasons why the U.S. considered it dangerously aggressive. Russia responded by asking for more information and providing assurances that it would look into the matter even as the hacking continued, according to the two people familiar with the response.

"Last year, as we detected intrusions into websites managed by election officials around the country, the administration worked relentlessly to protect our election infrastructure," said Eric Schultz, a spokesman for former President Barack Obama. "Given that our election systems are so decentralized, that effort meant working with Democratic and Republican election administrators from all across the country to bolster their cyber defenses."

Illinois Database

Illinois, which was among the states that gave the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security almost full access to investigate its systems, provides a window into the hackers' successes and failures.

In early July 2016, a contractor who works two or three days a week at the state board of elections detected unauthorized data leaving the network, according to Ken Menzel, general counsel for the Illinois board of elections. The hackers had gained access to the state's voter database, which contained information such as names, dates of birth, genders, driver's licenses and partial Social Security numbers on 15 million people, half of whom were active voters. As many as 90,000 records were ultimately compromised.

But even if the entire database had been deleted, it might not have affected the election, according to Menzel. Counties upload records to the state, not the other way around, and no data moves from the database back to the counties, which run the elections. The hackers had no way of knowing that when they attacked the state database, Menzel said.

The state does, however, process online voter registration applications that are sent to the counties for approval, Menzel said. When voters are added to the county rolls, that information is then sent back to the state and added to the central database. This process, which is common across states, does present an opportunity for attackers to manipulate records at their inception.

Patient Zero

Illinois became Patient Zero in the government's probe, eventually leading investigators to a hacking pandemic that touched four out of every five U.S. states.

Using evidence from the Illinois computer banks, federal agents were able to develop digital "signatures" -- among them, Internet Protocol addresses used by the attackers -- to spot the hackers at work.

The signatures were then sent through Homeland Security alerts and other means to every state. Thirty-seven states reported finding traces of the hackers in various systems, according to one of the people familiar with the probe. In two others -- Florida and California -- those traces were found in systems run by a private contractor managing critical election systems.

(An NSA document reportedly leaked by Reality Winner, the 25-year-old government contract worker arrested last week, identifies the Florida contractor as VR Systems, which makes an electronic voter identification system used by poll workers.)

In Illinois, investigators also found evidence that the hackers tried but failed to alter or delete some information in the database, an attempt that wasn't previously reported. That suggested more than a mere spying mission and potentially a test run for a disruptive attack, according to the people familiar with the continuing U.S. counterintelligence inquiry.

States' Response

That idea would obsess the Obama White House throughout the summer and fall of 2016, outweighing worries over the DNC hack and private Democratic campaign emails given to Wikileaks and other outlets, according to one of the people familiar with those conversations. The Homeland Security Department dispatched special teams to help states strengthen their cyber defenses, and some states hired private security companies to augment those efforts.

In many states, the extent of the Russian infiltration remains unclear. The federal government had no direct authority over state election systems, and some states offered limited cooperation. When then-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said last August that the department wanted to declare the systems as national critical infrastructure -- a designation that gives the federal government broader powers to intervene -- Republicans balked. Only after the election did the two sides eventually reach a deal to make the designation.

Relations with Russia remain strained. The cyber red phone was announced in 2011 as a provision in the countries' Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers to allow urgent communication to defuse a possible cyber conflict. In 2008, what started during the Cold War as a teletype messaging system became a secure system for transferring messages and documents over fiber-optic lines.

After the Obama administration transmitted its documents and Russia asked for more information, the hackers' work continued. According to the leaked NSA document, hackers working for Russian military intelligence were trying to take over the computers of 122 local election officials just days before the Nov. 8 election.

While some inside the Obama administration pressed at the time to make the full scope of the Russian activity public, the White House was ultimately unwilling to risk public confidence in the election's integrity, people familiar with those discussions said.

Watch Next: How to See If Russia Meddled With Your Vote



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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Your Secrets Are Weighing You Down

Your Secrets Are Weighing You Down


Your Secrets Are Weighing You Down

Research finds the experience of keeping a secret is akin to carrying a physical weight, diminishing motivation and performance.

Illustration by James Steinberg

You "carry" a secret. You feel "burdened" by a secret. Your secret "weighs" on you.

Secrecy may be an abstract concept, but there's a reason we talk about it in these concrete terms. New research from Michael Slepian found that keeping a secret is akin to being encumbered by a physical weight. And that weight may be holding you back at work.

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"The more you feel preoccupied by a secret and are thinking about it, the more you are using your personal resources — cognitive and motivational — the less energy you feel you have available to pursue other tasks," Slepian says. "You see things around you as more challenging. It's the same outcome as when you are carrying a heavy burden."

In our personal lives, this dynamic can lead us to withdraw from people, activities, and relationships. In the workplace, it can result in decreased productivity and engagement — which spells trouble for employees and employers alike. "Being preoccupied by a secret at work can be demotivating," Slepian says. "And we know if you are less motivated, you perform less well."

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In a series of studies, Slepian, along with co-researchers Nicholas Camp of Stanford University and E.J. Masicampo of Wake Forest University, asked participants to think of either a "preoccupying" secret or a "non-preoccupying" secret and then to judge the steepness of a hill. Individuals' perception of "hill slant," as this test is known, has been shown to vary depending on whether subjects are carrying additional weight. The results were consistent: those participants who were asked to recall a preoccupying secret judged the hill to be steeper, and therefore more forbidding, just as if they were lugging a heavy load.

Preoccupying secrets can take many forms, from sexual orientation, infidelities, and money troubles to benign bad habits and personal quirks, Slepian says. But because one person's major skeleton-in-the-closet might be another person's peccadillo, the troubling nature of secrets is subjective. Couple that with the inherent complications of sharing personal information at the office, and workers might be at a loss as to how to handle their private concerns.

For workers pinned down under the weight of their secrets, the best solution is simply to get them off their chests. "Sometimes people feel like the right thing to do is to keep the secret," Slepian explains. "But by doing that, you may set yourself up for negative consequences."

Slepian urges those burdened by their secrets to talk to a real, live person if possible — but only someone they trust, someone who can keep their secret and who does not have control over any potential spillover effects of the revelation. In the workplace, that might be a colleague in another department or even a friend in a different industry. For those without a confidant, anonymous hotlines offer individuals a way to talk about their secrets without revealing their identities.

Even if divulging your secret out loud isn't a possibility, there are still ways to reduce your preoccupation with it. One way to do that is to write it down, whether that means posting it to an online message board or forum, sending it to a website like PostSecret, which shares submissions confidentially, or just jotting it down in a personal journal.  Getting the secret out there, even in written form, "tends to make people very relieved," Slepian says.

Not only does the sheer act of talking about your secret relieve the pressure of keeping it, by explaining and acknowledging your feelings about your secret to another person, you can begin to move forward and regain your productivity. "When you talk about your secret," Slepian says "you start thinking about it constructively — processing it, making sense of it, learning how to cope with it — reducing your preoccupation with that secret and taking you off the path of burden."

About the researcher

Michael Slepian

Michael Slepian is Assistant Professor in the Management Division of Columbia Business School. His program of research examines secrecy and trust. He studies the...

Read more.


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Monday, June 5, 2017

DailyDDoSe: June 5, 2017: More on Far Right Extremism

This is the reality. Far right extremists pose a far greater risk to our safety than Muslims.

No "Travel" (Muslim) Ban or Wall will solve that problem and Trump is too busy trolling and harassing the Mayor of London to even take notice of ANOTHER mass shooting unfolding in Florida this mourning. (Spelling intentional)



 
He continues to incite violence and troll the planet with his insanity on Twitter and through ridiculous speeches making Whitehouse press statements through Alex Jones and Infowars. 



 


 

Far right extremists and White Supremacists don't realize they have been played by Trump any more than Trump realizes he was played by Putin.

All I know right now is that the truth is Comey-ing. 

Thursday will have the highest ratings EVER. More people are going to be watching Comey than the OJ Simpson trial. 

The Whitehouse has a serious credibility problem. Trump took Mayor Sadiq's statement completely out of context. 

While most leaders would know the best way to handle a crisis is to reassure the public that measures are being taken to assure their safety, instead, Trump is using the tragedy for political gain. 

Trump has launched a personal attack on Mayor Sadiq inciting violence against Muslims and further appealing to disenfranchised youth who are vulnerable towards being radicalized by ISIS or White Supremacist Cults. Imagine if the Prime Minister did something so heinous after 9/11 of the Orlando shooting. 

This is truly dreadful. He's an opportunist and is a very sick and twisted man.

Sending light and love to my friends in the U.K. and solidarity to my friends in Portland. I stand with you. 

That's your DailyDDoSe from Chilleh Penguin © Elyssa D. Durant 2017

image1.JPG

Homegrown Terrorism and Why the Threat of Right-Wing Extremism Is Rising in America

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The murder in College Park, Maryland of Richard Collins III, an African-American student who had recently been commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and was days away from his graduation from Bowie State University, underscores the violence of America’s far-right wing. Sean Urbanski, the University of Maryland student who allegedly stabbed Collins to death, belongs to a racist Facebook group called Alt-Reich: Nation.

It makes sense that the FBI is helping the police investigate this incident as a suspected hate crime. But my 15 years experience of studying violent extremism in Western societies has taught me that dealing effectively with far-right violence requires something more: treating its manifestations as domestic terrorism.

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While attacks such as the recent suicide bombing in Manchester that left 22 people dead and several dozen injured will probably continue to garner more headlines, this growing domestic menace deserves more attention than it’s getting.

Domestic terrorism

Terrorism is a form of psychological warfare. Most terrorist groups lack the resources, expertise and manpower to defeat state actors. Instead, they promote their agenda through violence that shapes perceptions of political and social issues.

Collins’ murder, if it was motivated by racist sentiments, should be treated as an act of domestic terrorism, which I define here as the use of violence in a political and social context that aims to send a message to a broader target audience. Like lynching, cross-burning and vandalizing religious sites, incidents of this kind deliberately aim to terrorize people of color and non-Christians.

I consider domestic terrorism a more significant threat than the foreign-masterminded variety in part because it is more common in terms of the number of attacks on U.S. soil. For example, my report published by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point identified hundreds of domestic terror incidents per year between 2008 and 2012.

Another report initially published in 2014 by New America Foundation on domestic incidents of extremist violence shows that excluding the Orlando nightclub massacre, between 2002-2016, far-right affiliated perpetrators conducted 18 attacks that killed 48 people in the United States, while terrorists motivated by al-Qaida’s or the Islamic State’s ideology killed 45 people in nine attacks.

The Orlando mass shooting, given its mix of apparent motives, is hard to categorize.

A spontaneous appearance

In briefings with law enforcement and policymakers, I have sometimes encountered a tendency to see U.S. right-wing extremists as a monolith. But traditional Ku Klux Klan chapters operate differently than skinhead groups, as do anti-government “patriot” and militia groups and anti-abortion extremistsChristian Identity groups, which believe Anglo-Saxons and other people of Northern European descent are a chosen people, are distinct too.

Certainly, there is some overlap. But these groups also differ significantly in terms of their methods of violence, recruitment styles and ideologies. Across the board, undermining the threat they pose requires a more sophisticated approach than investigating their criminal acts as suspected hate crimes.

In an ongoing study I’m conducting at the University of Massachusetts Lowell with several students, we have determined that, as apparently occurred with Collins’ recent murder in Maryland, many attacks inspired by racist or xenophobic sentiments may appear spontaneous. That is, no one plans them in advance or targets the victim ahead of time. Instead, chance encounters that enrage the perpetrators trigger these incidents.

Sporadic attacks with high numbers of casualties that are plotted in advance, such as Dylann Roof’s murder of nine African-Americans in a Charleston, South Carolina church, are always big news. More typical incidents of far-right violence tend to draw less attention.

The fatal stabbing of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche and Ricky John Best aboard a train in Portland, Oregon on May 26 seems to be emerging as an exception. The alleged killer of these two white men, Jeremy Joseph Christian, attacked them with a knife after they stood up to him for haranguing two young women who appeared to be Muslim, police said. A third injured passenger is expected to survive. Much of the media coverage is focused on Christian’s violent and racist background.

Given the spontaneous nature of so much far-right violence, U.S. counterterrorism policies should, in my view, target the dissemination of white supremacist ideology, rather than just identifying planned attacks and monitoring established white supremacy groups.

An iceberg theory

The number of violent attacks on U.S. soil inspired by far-right ideology has spiked since the beginning of this century, rising from a yearly avarage of 70 attacks in the 1990s to a yearly avarage of more than 300 since 2001. These incidents have grown even more common since President Donald Trump’s election.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that researches U.S. extremism, reported 900 bias-related incidents against minorities in the first 10 days after Trump’s election—compared to several dozen in a normal week—and the group found that many of the harassers invoked the then-president-elect’s name. Similarly, the Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit that tracks anti-Semitism, recorded an 86 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the first three months of 2017.

Beyond the terror that victimized communities are experiencing, I would argue that this trend reflects a deeper social change in American society.

The iceberg model of political extremism, initially developed by Ehud Shprinzak, an Israeli political scientist, can illuminate these dynamics.

Murders and other violent attacks perpetrated by U.S. far-right extremists compose the visible tip of an iceberg. The rest of this iceberg is under water and out of sight. It includes hundreds of attacks every year that damage property and intimidate communities, such as the recent attempted burning of an African-American family’s garage in Schodack, New York. The garage was also defaced with racist graffiti.

Data my team collected at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point show that the significant growth in far-right violence in recent years is happening at the base of the iceberg. While the main reasons for that are still not clear, it is important to remember that changes in societal norms are usually reflected in behavioral changes. Hence, it is more than reasonable to suspect that extremist individuals engage in such activities because they sense that their views are enjoying growing social legitimacy and acceptance, which is emboldening them to act on their bigotry.

Budget cuts

Despite an uptick in far-right violence and the Trump administration’s plan to increase the Department of Homeland Security budget by 6.7 percent to US$44.1 billion in 2018, the White House wants to cut spending for programs that fight non-Muslim domestic terrorism.

The federal government has also frozen $10 million in grants aimed at countering domestic violent extremism. This approach is bound to weaken the authorities’ power to monitor far-right groups, undercutting public safety.

How many more innocent people like Richard Collins III—and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche and Ricky John Best—have to die before the U.S. government starts taking the threat posed by violent white supremacists more seriously?

Arie Perliger is Director of Security Studies and a professor at University of Massachusetts Lowell.



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