Hackers had the power to cause blackouts, Symantec says. And yes, most signs point to Russia.
Andy Greenberg writes: In an era of hacker attacks on critical infrastructure, even a run-of-the-mill malware infection on an electric utility’s network is enough to raise alarm bells. But the latest collection of power grid penetrations went far deeper: Security firm Symantec is warning that a series of recent hacker attacks not only compromised energy companies in the US and Europe but also resulted in the intruders gaining hands-on access to power grid operations—enough control that they could have induced blackouts on American soil at will.
Symantec on Wednesday revealed a new campaign of attacks by a group it is calling Dragonfly 2.0, which it says targeted dozens of energy companies in the spring and summer of this year. In more than 20 cases, Symantec says the hackers successfully gained access to the target companies’ networks. And at a handful of US power firms and at least one company in Turkey—none of which Symantec will name—their forensic analysis found that the hackers obtained what they call operational access: control of the interfaces power company engineers use to send actual commands to equipment like circuit breakers, giving them the ability to stop the flow of electricity into US homes and businesses.
“There’s a difference between being a step away from conducting sabotage and actually being in a position to conduct sabotage … being able to flip the switch on power generation,” says Eric Chien, a Symantec security analyst. “We’re now talking about on-the-ground technical evidence this could happen in the US, and there’s nothing left standing in the way except the motivation of some actor out in the world.”
Never before have hackers been shown to have that level of control of American power company systems, Chien notes. The only comparable situations, he says, have been the repeated hacker attacks on the Ukrainian grid that twice caused power outages in the country in late 2015 and 2016, the first known hacker-induced blackouts.
The Usual Suspects
Security firms like FireEye and Dragos have pinned those Ukrainian attacks on a hacker group known as Sandworm, believed to be based in Russia. But Symantec stopped short of blaming the more recent attacks on any country or even trying to explain the hackers’ motives. Chien says the company has found no connections between Sandworm and the intrusions it has tracked. Nor has it directly connected the Dragonfly 2.0 campaign to the string of hacker intrusions at US power companies—including a Kansas nuclear facility—known as Palmetto Fusion, which unnamed officials revealed in July and later tied to Russia.
Chien does note, however, that the timing and public descriptions of the Palmetto Fusion hacking campaigns match up with its Dragonfly findings. “It’s highly unlikely this is just coincidental,” Chien says. But he adds that while the Palmetto Fusion intrusions included a breach of a nuclear power plant, the most serious DragonFly intrusions Symantec tracked penetrated only non-nuclear energy companies, which have less strict separations of their internet-connected IT networks and operational controls. Read the rest of this entry »
Exoneration First, Investigation Later: Comey Under Fire Over Draft Clearing Clinton Written Before Interviewing Key WitnessesPosted: September 4, 2017
Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the recent news about Comey drafting a statement declining to charge Hillary Clinton or her staff before key witnesses were interviewed or evidence reviewed. The question is why Comey pursued the investigation if he felt comfortable months in advance in drafting the statement. I do not share the President’s view that this draft shows a “rigged process,” though some FBI agents have objected to the drafting of the statement in this context. I take Comey at his word that he did not make up his mind until after all of the evidence was reviewed. However, the draft does show a markedly different approach to the investigation of the Clinton emails and the Special Counsel investigation of the Trump Administration.
Here is the column:
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Left-wing nonprofit pays lucrative six-figure salaries to top management.
The Red York Times: First in Fake News.
Michelle Malkin writes: Newsflash from The New York Times: Women may have starved under socialist regimes, but their orgasms were out of this world!
That’s the creepy gist of one of the Grey Lady’s recent essays this summer hailing the “Red Century.” The paper’s ongoing series explores “the history and legacy of Communism, 100 years after the Russian Revolution.” When its essayists aren’t busy championing the great sex that oppressed women enjoyed in miserable Eastern Bloc countries, they’re extolling Lenin’s fantabulous conservationist programs and pimping “Communism for Kids” propaganda.
Since this is back-to-school season, it’s the perfect time to teach your children about faux journalism at the Fishwrap of Record. As the publication’s pretentious own new slogan asserts, “The truth is more important than ever.”
While the Times hyperventilates about the dangers of President Trump’s “art of fabrication” and “Russian collusion,” this is the same organization whose famed correspondent in Russia, Walter Duranty, won a Pulitzer Prize for spreading fake news denying Joseph Stalin‘s Ukrainian genocide.
An estimated 10 million men, women and children starved in the Stalin-engineered silent massacre between 1932-1933, also known as the Holodomor. Stalin had implemented his “Five Year Plan” of agricultural collectivization — confiscating land and livestock, evicting farmers, and imposing impossible grain production quotas. At the peak of the famine, about 30,000 Ukrainian citizens a day were dying. Untold numbers resorted to cannibalism. Read the rest of this entry »
Former Obama Aide Ben Rhodes Now a Person of Interest in House Intelligence Committee Unmasking InvestigationPosted: August 1, 2017
Sara A. Carter reports: Former Obama White House National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes is now an emerging as a person of interest in the House Intelligence Committee’s unmasking investigation, according to a letter sent Tuesday by the committee to the National Security Agency (NSA). This adds Rhodes to the growing list of top Obama government officials who may have improperly unmasked Americans in communications intercepted overseas by the NSA, Circa has confirmed.
The House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-CA, sent the letter to the National Security Agency requesting the number of unmaskings made by Rhodes from Jan. 1, 2016 to Jan. 20, 2017, according to congressional sources who spoke with Circa. Rhodes, who worked closely with former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and was a former deputy national security adviser for strategic communications for President Obama, became a focus of the committee during its review of classified information to assess whether laws were broken regarding NSA intercepted communications of President Trump, members of his administration and other Americans before and after the election, according to congressional officials. The committee is requesting that the NSA deliver the information on Rhodes by August, 21.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, Rice and former CIA Director John Brennan have all been named in the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the unmasking of Americans. A letter sent last week from Nunes to Dan Coats, the director of National Intelligence, suggested that top Obama aides made hundreds of unmasking requests during the 2016 presidential elections. The story, which was first reported by The Hill last week, stated that the requests were made without specific justifications as to why the unmasking was necessary. Rice and Brennan have confirmed they sought the unredacted names of Americans in NSA-sourced intelligence reports but insisted their requests were routine parts of their work and had no nefarious intentions. Power also has legal authority to unmask officials, though the practice has not reportedly been common for someone in her position. Rhodes also had legal authority to unmask Americans in NSA-source intelligence reports. But intelligence and congressional sources question the extent of the unmasking.
Nunes told Coats in a letter last week that the committee has “found evidence that current and former government officials had easy access to U.S. person information and that it is possible that they used this information to achieve partisan political purposes, including the selective, anonymous leaking of such information.”
Multiple federal law enforcement and intelligence officials told Circa, that requesting an unmasking for intelligence and analytical purposes is something that is done only when the information is absolutely necessary to analyze a specific threat or for other national security purposes. An intelligence source, with direct knowledge of the type of requests made by the Obama aides, said “it’s like hell and high water to fill out and gain approval for these types of unmaskings. It’s something analysts take seriously and could entail filling out 80 pages of paperwork to prove there is a need to unmask. If top officials were unmasking without oversight it’s something everyone should be concerned about and it puts our intelligence community in a very bad place.” Read the rest of this entry »
Democrats don’t want you to find out—and that ought to be a scandal of its own.
Kimberley A. Strassel reports: It has been 10 days since Democrats received the glorious news that Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley would require Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort to explain their meeting with Russian operators at Trump Tower last year. The left was salivating at the prospect of watching two Trump insiders being grilled about Russian “collusion” under the klieg lights.
Yet Democrats now have meekly and noiselessly retreated, agreeing to let both men speak to the committee in private. Why would they so suddenly be willing to let go of this moment of political opportunity?
Fusion GPS. That’s the oppo-research outfit behind the infamous and discredited “Trump dossier,” ginned up by a former British spook. Read the rest of this entry »
Wasserman Schultz kept paying tech expert suspected of stealing House computers.
Alex Daugherty and Amy Sherman report: When a computer expert who worked for congressional Democrats was accused of stealing computers and data systems in February, members of Congress cut him loose within days, leaving Imran Awan with no supporters five months later.
Except for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
The Weston Democrat has not explained in detail why she continued to employ Awan until Tuesday when she fired him — after he was arrested on bank-fraud charges at Dulles International Airport in Virginia attempting to board a flight to Pakistan.
“After details of the investigation were reviewed with us, my office was provided no evidence to indicate that laws had been broken, which over time, raised troubling concerns about due process, fair treatment and potential ethnic and religious profiling. Upon learning of his arrest, he was terminated.”
— Wasserman Schultz, in a statement
And she has not elaborated on what work Awan did for her after he lost access to the House computer network.
[ALSO SEE – ROGER SIMON: Imran Awan Case Needs Special Counsel 100X More than Russiagate]
She declined to answer questions about Awan in Washington on Wednesday, and her spokesman, David Damron, accompanied her to the House floor while instructing a reporter that Wasserman Schultz would not take questions about her former employee.
Wednesday evening, Wasserman Schultz released a statement:
“After details of the investigation were reviewed with us, my office was provided no evidence to indicate that laws had been broken, which over time, raised troubling concerns about due process, fair treatment and potential ethnic and religious profiling,” she said. “Upon learning of his arrest, he was terminated.”
Damron told the Miami Herald that Awan was still working for Wasserman Schultz in an advisory role until Monday, and was fired Tuesday. Wasserman Schultz was one of more than two dozen Democrats in Congress who employed Awan, 37, and four other information-technology staffers accused in February of stealing computer systems.
But months after Awan was fired by everyone else, Wasserman Schultz grilled Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa in May over why computer equipment was confiscated from her office as part of the investigation into Awan even though she was not under investigation. Read the rest of this entry »
Newly released footage shows the moment that police killed 27-year-old Antoquan T. Watson during a dramatic shootout. Watson had led police on a dangerous chase that ended with him leaving his vehicle and pointing a gun at responding officers. He was shot 45 times, and the officers were found not guilty of any wrongdoing.
For decades, conservatives have been complaining about bias in the media, but that wasn’t quantified until now. CNN’s fake news does more than get them ratings — its libel undermines the very nature of our democratic republic. In this Firewall, Bill Whittle lambasts the mainstream media for its toxic politicizing of the news and exposes the influence of media bias on elections.
W. James Antle III writes: It’s impossible in some quarters to discuss Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a shady Russian lawyer without being quizzed about similar bad things politicians from the opposing party have done.
This bit of rhetorical judo has become so common in our politics that it even has a name: “whataboutism.” Naturally, its origins have been traced back to the Russians, if not even further back. The Economist‘s Edward Luce described it as an attempt to “match every Soviet crime with a real or imagined Western one.”
More recently, the tactic has been deployed by diehard supporters of President Trump, as well as by his more removed “anti-anti-Trumpist” backers.
And you know what? Trump’s supporters are not wrong to urge us all to truly examine historical precedents. Because all too often, Trump’s fiercest critics declare his every utterance and action unprecedented without bothering to thoughtfully consider the precedents.
Now, when “whataboutism” is used to defend the indefensible, it is obviously wrong. But not every historical comparison can be dismissed as simple “whataboutism.” And there are good reasons why “What about … ” questions have so frequently been raised under this president. The case against Trump is not simply that he does things that are wrong or bad, but that he is bad in ways that are unprecedented and represent a sharp break from important political norms.
If we are going to chastise Trump for norm violations, shouldn’t we first establish how normal or abnormal his actions in a given area really are? If we are going to say he is guilty of doing the unprecedented, shouldn’t we look to see if there are in fact any precedents? Read the rest of this entry »
Bradford Richardson reports: CNN has come under fire for suggesting it will publish the identity of a private citizen if he behaves in a way that displeases the network.
Andrew Kaczynski, senior editor of CNN’s KFile, discovered the identity of the Reddit user who made a short video of President Trump tackling a man with CNN’s logo superimposed on his face to the ground.
CNN is withholding the man’s identity “because he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology, showed his remorse by saying he has taken down all his offending posts, and because he said he is not going to repeat this ugly behavior on social media again,” Mr. Kaczynski wrote in an article published Tuesday night.
“CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change,” he continued.
Source: Washington Times
Lisa de Moraes reports: If you too guessed the Redditor who had boasted he originated the CNN-bashing GIF used by President Donald Trump suddenly apologized for same because he found out CNN knew who he was — congratulations!
And, if you also guessed “HanA**holeSolo” has pleaded with CNN not to reveal his identity because he’s scared for his personal safety, and because it would embarrass him to be outed as the person behind the GIF and various anti-Semitic and racist Reddit rants – go to the head of the class.
CNN reported Tuesday night it has agreed not to reveal the guy’s name, but reserves the right to do so should he ever repeat his “ugly behavior on social media.”
“HanA**holeSolo” initially boasted he originated the GIF behind Trump’s tweet in which Trump is seen pounding on the head of a man whose face has been swapped for the CNN logo.
HAS first shared the GIF last Wednesday; CNN reports it could find no earlier instance of the GIF that subsequently was edited to add sound before being tweeted by Trump on Sunday.
After Trump’s tweet, “HanA**holeSolo” took a victory lap, via Reddit:
“Holy s—!! I wake up and have my morning coffee and who retweets my s—post but the MAGA EMPORER himself!!! I am honored!!”
CNN reports its KFile identified the man, using information he had posted on Reddit and Facebook. On Monday, KFile reached out to the man by email and phone, but he did not respond. Read the rest of this entry »
Nick Givas reports: Host of the Fox Business show “Mornings With Maria” Maria Bartiromo interviewed John Podesta Wednesday, saying she believed that his ties to Russia are even greater than those of President Donald Trump’s.
“Do you find it odd that there’s been so much attention on the Trump campaign and the Trump associates and potential collusion with the Russians, when it’s really the Democrats who have deeper and stronger ties to Russia?”
Podesta’s emails were hacked during the 2016 presidential race when he was the campaign manager of former candidate Hillary Clinton, and many of his opinions and private political agendas were leaked to the public. Many experts later said that this scandal damaged Clinton’s chances at obtaining the White House.
Bartiromo began by asking about Podesta’s recent meeting with the House intelligence panel, but moved to press Podesta as to why Democrats’ ties to Russia were ignored despite being more prevalent than those of the Republican Party. Read the rest of this entry »
Czech Republic Votes To Put Gun Rights In Constitution.
‘In reaction to the recent increase of security threats’
The European Commission passed stricter gun laws in December in response to a growing terror threat. The Czech Republic was one of three countries to oppose the changes, and it is now about to make it legal for citizens to use firearms to protect the security of the country.
“This constitutional bill is in reaction to the recent increase of security threats, especially the danger of violent acts such as isolated terrorist attacks … active attackers or other violent hybrid threats,” a draft of the bill reads.
Source: Covers | New York Post
Multiple people were shot by a man wearing a doctor’s coat inside a New York City hospital Friday afternoon, sources say, and the shooter is deceased, police said.
The rifle-wielding gunman at Bronx Lebanon Hospital was dressed in a white doctor’s-type coat when he shot at least three people shortly before 3 p.m., sources tell News 4.
The suspect is dead, NYPD spokesman J. Peter Donald said in a tweet around 4 p.m. Multiple senior NYPD officials tells NBC News the suspect is a former employee at Bronx Lebanon.
Police response remains heavy and cautious as authorities make sure he was a lone actor.
A sea of police cars line the street outside Bronx Lebanon Hospital Friday amid reports of shots fired within the hospital.
As members of the NYPD’s most-armed units responded to the then-active shooter situation, a sea of patrol and tactical vehicles gridlocked the streets around the hospital on Grand Concourse, and police surveyed the roof of the building with their guns drawn, Chopper 4 over the scene shows.
A staff member at the hospital tells News 4 it was under lockdown as police helped to bring people out floor by floor. Read the rest of this entry »
The spy group axed several contractors after it discovered they had stolen $3,314.40 in eats from compromised vending machines between fall 2012 and March 2013, according to a report obtained by BuzzFeed News.
When nosh began going missing from agency vending machines, the CIA did what it does best — it put up cameras and started spying on the break room, according to the report.
“Video footage recovered from the surveillance cameras captured numerous perpetrators engaged in the … theft scheme, all of whom were readily identifiable as agency contract personnel,” the report states. Read the rest of this entry »
‘What Do They Want, a Cookie?’ CNN Didn’t DECIDE to Retract the Fake Russia Story, They Were FORCED ToPosted: June 28, 2017
CNN faced $100M lawsuit over botched Russia story
Emily Smith reports: The specter of a $100 million libel suit scared CNN into retracting a poorly reported story that slimed an ally of President Trump’s — and forcing out the staffers responsible for it, The Post has learned.
The cable network’s coverage of Trump transition team member Anthony Scaramucci came amid federal scrutiny of corporate parent Time Warner’s pending purchase by AT&T — and the widespread belief among media execs that CNN President Jeff Zucker can’t survive a merger.
CNN immediately caved after Scaramucci, a financier and frequent network guest, cried foul and threatened to take legal action, sources said Tuesday.
— Mark Krikorian (@MarkSKrikorian) June 28, 2017
Scaramucci got an unusual public apology but still hired a top Manhattan lawyer to put further pressure on CNN and “look after [his] interests in this matter,” one source said.
“They called them in and said they’d pay out their contracts, but they should leave immediately,” one source said.
Zucker was afraid of facing a high-profile suit from Scaramucci while the US Justice Department weighs the proposed $85.4 billion media merger.
Meanwhile, a CNN insider said staffers are furious at “having lost the moral high ground because of this story.” Sources said Zucker tried to rally his staff during a Tuesday morning conference call.
“Zucker stressed that this issue was a ‘lapse in editorial standards’ and said it was a lesson to all reporters and editors to continue to strive for strong, accurate reporting,” a source said. Read the rest of this entry »
When the flawed story broke, the investigations editor was out of town.
While Haris was away, his group published a story on CNN.com that reported — citing a single anonymous source — that Senate investigators were looking into a meeting between a member of President Trump’s transition team, Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci, and an executive of a Russian investment fund before Trump took office. The story seemed to advance the narrative of ties between Trump campaign officials and people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
One problem: When challenged on the particulars of the story, CNN acknowledged that it couldn’t stand by it. It retracted it and apologized to Scaramucci on Saturday. On Monday, Haris and the editor and reporter of the piece, Eric Lichtblau and Thomas Frank, resigned from CNN.
The sequence of events led Trump to take a kind of victory lap on Tuesday. He turned to Twitter to bash CNN and other media outlets (including The Washington Post) that have aggressively reported on his associates’ connections to Russian officials during the 2016 campaign and pre-inaugural period.
“Wow, CNN had to retract big story on “Russia,” with 3 employees forced to resign. What about all the other phony stories they do? FAKE NEWS!” Trump tweeted. He added later, “Fake News CNN is looking at big management changes now that they got caught falsely pushing their phony Russian stories. Ratings way down!”
In fact, CNN isn’t looking at “big management changes,” according to senior executives at the network. But Trump — long resistant to admitting his own falsehoods— is unlikely to correct his tweet anytime soon. He has also been silent about errors committed by other news organizations, such as Fox News, that he deems to be friendly. Read the rest of this entry »
Another widespread cyber attack is causing massive problems across Europe Tuesday.
Ukraine has been hit particularly hard as government and company officials have reported serious intrusions across the Ukrainian power grid, banks and government offices. The country’s prime minister says that the cyber attack affecting his country is “unprecedented,” but “vital systems haven’t been affected.”
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Pavlo Rozenko on Tuesday posted a picture of a darkened computer screen to Twitter, saying that the computer system at the government’s headquarters has been shut down.
There’s very little information about who might be behind the disruption, but technology experts who examined screenshots circulating on social media said it bears the hallmarks of ransomware, the name given to programs that hold data hostage by scrambling it until a payment is made.
“A massive ransomware campaign is currently unfolding worldwide,” said Romanian cybersecurity company Bitdefender. In a telephone interview, Bitdefender analyst Bogdan Botezatu said that he had examined samples of the program and that it appeared to be nearly identical to GoldenEye, one of a family of hostage-taking programs that has been circulating for months. Read the rest of this entry »
The decision came after the network deleted and retracted a post on Friday.
Jon Passantino reports: CNN is imposing strict new publishing restrictions for online articles involving Russia after the network deleted a story and then issued a retraction late Friday, according to an internal email obtained by BuzzFeed News.
The email went out at 11:21 a.m. on Saturday from Rich Barbieri, the CNNMoney executive editor, saying “No one should publish any content involving Russia without coming to me and Jason,” a CNN vice president.
“This applied to social, video, editorial, and MoneyStream. No exceptions,” the email added. “I will lay out a workflow Monday.”
The new restrictions also apply to other areas of the network — not just CNNMoney, which wasn’t involved with the article that was deleted and retracted. Read the rest of this entry »
A police officer has been stabbed in the back and neck at an airport in Michigan, police say.
The officer is in hospital recovering. “Please keep the officer in your prayers,” said Michigan State Police on Twitter.
The Bishop International Airport in Flint has been evacuated and additional officers have been stationed at city hall, officials say.
The officer appears to have been targeted, police tell local media.
Local media report that the officer is Lieutenant Jeff Neville, who is now in a stable condition.
One suspect is in custody.
The incident took place shortly after 09:00 local time on Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry »
For many weeks, I questioned the need for a Special Counsel in the Russian investigation because it seems like a coverup in search of a crime. I still do not see the evidence of a crime and simply saying “collusion” does not supply an actual crime. However, when President Donald Trump fired James Comey, I supported the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate obstruction of justice, even though I remained skeptical of the basis for an actual obstruction charge. I still fail to see the compelling basis for an obstruction case without stretching the criminal code to the breaking point. Nevertheless, I continue to support the need for an independent investigation.
The investigation of a sitting American president however must itself be beyond question as to any bias or influence. For that reason, I have been questioning the propriety of Rod Rosenstein to continue in his current position…
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If you end the rule of law, you begin the rule of power, and the rule of power means the folks with the most guns rule.
Kurt Schlichter writes: You have to wonder how liberals think this works. So, a manifestly conflicted special counsel leading a pack of maxed-out Democrat donors decides Donald Trump has to be kicked out of office for “obstructing justice” regarding a cynical lie about him cavorting with the Kremlin and…then what? President Pence, until they do the same thing to him? Or do we just skip right to President Felonia von Pantsuit, shrug our shoulders, and give up on our foolish dream of having a say in our own governance?
Straightforward from here is…chaos.
Because normal Americans are woke to the scam. No, the affidavits of a zillion DC/NY establishment types attesting to Robert Mueller’s impeccable integrity – ever notice how the guy trying to hose us always has the establishment’s “impeccable integrity” merit badge – are not going to make us unsee the fact that he’s carrying water for an establishment that thinks we need to just shut up and obey.
Now, pulling off the soft coup is going to be harder than they think. The establishment has not thought this out. They sort of assume that if they squelch Trump then everything somehow just goes back to them being in unchallenged control. Wrong.
Mueller can’t indict Trump – that stupid Constitution, always getting in the way! No, the goal is for Mueller and his crack team of committed liberal activist lawyers to generate some head-shaking, tsk-tsk, more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger, report claiming Trump “obstructed” the probe into Hillary’s Trump/Russia collusion lie that even the liberals reluctantly acknowledge never happened.
But their problem is that impeachment is a purely political act – this isn’t going to get tried before some leftist DC judge and a 96% Democrat DC jury. No, they have to convince the Republican members of the House of Representatives to impeach and, well, have you taken a look at a political map of the US lately? It’s as red as a baseball field full of conservatives after a Bernie Bro shows up with a rifle. Read the rest of this entry »
Dade Hayes reports:
… The driver of the vehicle, a large white van, was arrested on the scene. While police have not released his identity, he was described in numerous accounts as being a white man. The Financial Times cited witnesses who counted at least a dozen people injured. The newspaper also said the driver “looked happy” and was waving to onlookers as he was arrested. Another witness told BuzzFeed that the driver said he was going to “kill all Muslims.”
Police have thus far declined to say whether they are labeling the incident in a neighborhood popular with immigrants as a terrorist attack. Read the rest of this entry »