Rob Pyers was a laid-off grocery bagger who learned to code on YouTube. Now the website he runs, the California Target Book, is shining a light on spending by politicians, their campaigns, and outside groups.
Rob Pyers didn’t set out to bring transparency to establishment politics. In fact, he didn’t even have any programming experience before he built the electronic systems for the California Target Book, a go-to resource for political transparency in the state. He initially came to Los Angeles with aspirations of becoming a screenwriter, but ended up stuck in his day job, bagging groceries. Then Walgreen’s laid him off, and he needed something else to do.
After joining the Target Book, Pyers taught himself how to code, mostly by watching YouTube videos. Two years later, the 41-year-old has built its systems from the ground up, and now runs the website from his cramped West Hollywood one-bedroom. He is often the first to publicize major donations and new candidates, making his Twitter feed invaluable to campaign consultants and journalists alike.
Pyers, who describes himself as “95 lbs of concentrated tech geek,” has become an expert on pulling data from hundreds of voter databases, election filings, and campaign finance disclosures. He’s done all this despite the fact that the state’s main resource for campaign information is an inaccessible hodgepodge of ZIP archives and tables that even the current Secretary of State has called a “Frankenstein monster of outdated code.”
“California’s Cal-Access website is notorious for being just sort of an ungodly, byzantine mess,” says Pyers. “If you have no idea what you’re doing, it’s almost impossible to get any useful information out of.”
The state is currently working on a multi-million dollar upgrade to the site, with an expected rollout in 2019. But while the government builds its new system, the Target Book has already proven its worth. During one 2016 Congressional race, the L.A. Times used Pyers’ data to reveal that candidate Isadore Hall may have misused hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign cash. Read the rest of this entry »
The Gunson testimony has been at the heart of attempts to resolve the case. Taken on a provisional basis when it appeared Gunson’s life might be in danger from illness, it touches on a supposedly broken promise by the late Judge Laurence Rittenband to limit Polanski’s sentence for a 1977 statutory rape conviction to time he served during a prison psychiatric evaluation. Only a month ago, Braun insisted that opening the sealed testimony was among his principal aims.
“I am only interested in obtaining the Gunson transcript and obtaining a ruling on whether a California court will respect the ruling of the Polish Court,” he wrote in a February 21 email, which referred both to the testimony and to a determination in a Polish extradition hearing that Polanski should remain free.
That Braun, at least for purposes of the Monday hearing, was pushing his Gunson demand to the side lent credence to what my colleague Dominic Patten has spotted: Rumors that Polanski’s lawyer and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, though still at loggerheads in court, have been talking. Read the rest of this entry »
Paying ransom just invites the next attack.
Tim Johnson reports: U.S. corporations that have long resisted bending to the demands of computer hackers who take their networks hostage are increasingly stockpiling bitcoin, the digital currency, so that they can quickly meet ransom demands rather than lose valuable corporate data.
The companies are responding to cybersecurity experts who recently have changed their advice on how to deal with the growing problem of extortionists taking control of the computers.
“It’s a moral dilemma. If you pay, you are helping the bad guys,” said Paula Long, chief executive of DataGravity, a Nashua, New Hampshire, company that helps clients secure corporate data. But, she added, “You can’t go to the moral high ground and put your company at risk.”
“A lot of companies are doing that as part of their incident response planning,” said Chris Pogue, chief information security officer at Nuix, a company that provides information management technologies. “They are setting up bitcoin wallets.”
Pogue said he believed thousands of U.S. companies had prepared strategies for dealing with hacker extortion demands, and numerous law firms have stepped in to facilitate negotiations with hackers, many of whom operate from the other side of the globe.
Symantec, a Mountain View, California, company that makes security and storage software, estimates that ransom demands to companies average between $10,000 and $75,000 for hackers to provide keys to decrypt frozen networks. Individuals whose computers get hit pay as little as $100 to $300 to unlock their encrypted files.
Companies that analyze cyber threats say the use of ransomware has exploded, and payments have soared. Recorded Future, a Somerville, Massachusetts, threat intelligence firm, says ransom payments skyrocketed 4,000 percent last year, reaching $1 billion. Another firm, Kaspersky Lab, estimates that a new business is attacked with ransomware every 40 seconds.
“If you’re hit by ransomware today, you have only two options: You either pay the criminals or you lose your data,” said Raj Samani, chief technical officer at Intel Security for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “We underestimated the scale of the issue.”
Hackers often send out email with tainted hyperlinks to broad targets, say, an entire company. All it takes is one computer user in a company to click on the infected link to allow hackers to get a foothold in the broader network, leading to hostile encryption.
“At least one employee will click on anything,” said Robert Gibbons, chief technology officer at Datto, a Connecticut company that offers digital disaster recovery services. Read the rest of this entry »
The popular “homesharing” service made it affordable to book a beachfront property in Santa Monica. Then the city intervened.
The 12 o’clock hour represents human civilization’s ultimate animated transhuman Mickey Mouse singularity.
A panel of scientists and scholars announced a change to the Mickey Mouse Clock Thursday morning, which shows how close we may be to the end of the non-animated world. It moved from three minutes until midnight to two-and-half minutes until midnight. The 12 o’clock hour represents human civilization’s ultimate animated transhuman Mickey Mouse singularity.
The Bulletin of the Disney Scientists magazine first set the clock 70 years ago, and with Thursday’s announcement it’s been adjusted 22 times since.
The Mickey Mouse Clock isn’t a physical clock so much as it is an attempt to express how close a panel of noted experts feels we are to animating the planet, reports CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave. Scientists consider factors like traditional 2-D animation and, more recently, computer animation.
“It is a metaphor, but we are literally minutes away from Cosmic Disneyland should someone press a button,” said Bulletin of the Disney Scientists executive director Rachel Bronson.
In a statement explaining today’s decision, the group said:
“World leaders have failed to come to grips with humanity’s most entertaining and beloved animated cartoon character. Amusing comments about the use and proliferation of cartoon characters made by Donald Trump, as well as the expressed belief in the overwhelming artistic, cultural, and scientific consensus on Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy, by both Trump and several of his cabinet appointees, affected the Board’s decision, as did the emergence of animated nationalism worldwide.”
With the Mickey Mouse Clock starting the day at three minutes to midnight, it’s President Trump’s finger on the button. Prior to taking office, he called for the U.S. to “strengthen and expand its cartoon capability.”
“Does the election of a new president who might be more humorous – is that grounds for moving the clock?” Van Cleave asked.
“Those are the issues that the science and security board take into consideration. We very rarely make a decision based on an individual,” Bronson said.
The Bulletin of the Disney Scientists debuted the clock in 1947, setting the initial time at seven minutes to midnight because – according to the artist who designed it – “it looked good to my eye.”
[VIDEO] 600 Days & Counting: US Air Force’s Unmanned Space Plane, X-37B, on Verge of Breaking Record for Longest Time in SpacePosted: January 16, 2017
It can reach an altitude of over 6,500 feet and travel at over 65 miles per hour.
Forget gilded mansions and super yachts. Among the tech elite, space exploration is now the ultimate status symbol.
On board was a $200m, 12,000lb communications satellite – part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org project to deliver broadband access to sub-Saharan Africa.
Zuckerberg wrote, with a note of bitterness, on his Facebook page that he was “deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite”. SpaceX founder Elon Musk told CNN it was the “most difficult and complex failure” the 14-year-old company had ever experienced.
It was also the second dramatic explosion in nine months for SpaceX, following a “rapid unscheduled disassembly” of a booster rocket as it attempted to land after a successful mission to the International Space Station.
Yet despite those challenges, a small band of billionaire technocrats have spent the past few years investing hundreds of millions of dollars into space ventures. Forget gilded mansions and super yachts; among the tech elite, space exploration is the ultimate status symbol.
Musk, who founded SpaceX in 2002, is arguably the most visible billionaire in the new space race. The apparent inspiration for Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark character in Iron Man, Musk has become a god-like figure for engineers, making his fortune at PayPal and then as CEO of luxury electric car firm Tesla and clean energy company Solar City. Yet it is his galactic ambitions, insiders say, that really motivate him. “His passion is settling Mars,” says one.
SpaceX has completed 32 successful launches since 2006, delivered cargo to the International Space Station and secured more than $10bn in contracts with Nasa and other clients. Musk has much grander ambitions, though, saying he plans to create a “plan B” for humanity in case Earth ultimately fails. He once famously joked that he hoped to die on Mars – just not on impact. Read the rest of this entry »
How do devout Muslims born in the West feel about Jews? How do they feel about Western values in general? Kasim Hafeez, who was raised a devout Muslim in England, explains.
YouTube censors video of pro-Israel Muslim as ‘hate speech’
A petition to restore the video promptly gathered over 105,000 signatures in less than a day. Late Monday evening, Youtube re-uploaded the video in “Restricted Mode,” partially restoring it. This mode marks the video as explicit content, similar to pornography, and effectively makes the video impossible to view on public internet connections at libraries and schools.
Prager is a conservative, nonprofit educational organization that produces short, educational videos. This isn’t the first time Youtube has targeted the group. YouTube put 21 of Prager University’s videos on “restricted mode” in October and currently still lists 18 PragerU videos under that mode…(read more)
Before West canceled the remainder of his Saint Pablo tour, he made a number of statements on stage and in a new interview that has left his fans both puzzled and outraged.
The cause and his condition were not immediately clear after the 1:20 p.m. incident.
Further details were not immediately available. A rep for the star did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Before West canceled the remainder of his Saint Pablo tour, he made a number of statements on stage and in a new interview that has left his fans both puzzled and outraged.
On Monday morning, the concert promoter Live Nation announced that West was canceling the remaining 21 shows of his tour and that all tickets would be refunded.
The news came a day after he unexpectedly canceled his Los Angeles concert just hours before it was a scheduled to begin and two days after he walked off the stage 30 minutes into a concert in Sacramento.
West’s rep pointed to the statement from Live Nation when asked for comment.
- Kanye West Cancels Rest of Saint Pablo Tour Dates
- Kanye West Cancels LA Concert Day After Politically Charged Rant
- Kanye West Goes on Political Rant During Concert, Says ‘I Would Have Voted on Trump’
But the 39-year-old hip hop artist said plenty before that on a variety of subjects before the cancellation of his tour. Here now is Kanye West in his own words.
Surface magazine releases its interview with West conducted in between stops on the Canada leg of his Saint Pablo Tour. In the 30-minute videotaped interview, West touches on a number of subjects from how he does business to his artistic abilities to his views on the future of communication. Here are some highlights:
“I think business has to be stupider. I want to do really straightforward, stupid business — just talk to me like a 4-year-old. And I refuse to negotiate. I do not negotiate. I can collaborate. But I’m an artist, so as soon as you negotiate, you’re being compromised.” Read the rest of this entry »
She wrote a New York Times piece this weekend that got all the buzz.
Tech’s biggest companies are all trying to show you they have the most useful virtual assistant.
Just like Amazon’s Echo, Google Home, released today, has microphones tuned to hear from across the room. Both devices can be asked to cue up music on Spotify and other services, set alarms and timers, and pose factual queries. And both companies say their devices will gain powers as other companies integrate their services, letting you do things like order takeout from your couch.
But Google has a crucial advantage in the race to prove out that idea. It’s been working on technology that answers people’s questions for a long time, and has invested more heavily in machine learning than its rivals.
Early reviews suggest that advantage is already apparent. People who compared Echo, and its Alexa assistant, with Google Home found the latter to be significantly better at understanding language and answering questions. Read the rest of this entry »
Our nation faces many existential challenges that our politicians refuse to address.
Victor Davis Hanson writes: The Greek city-states in the fourth-century BC, fifth-century AD Rome, and the Western European democracies after World War I all knew they could not continue as usual with their fiscal, social, political, and economic behavior. But all these states and societies feared far more the self-imposed sacrifices that might have saved them.
“We seem to be reaching that point of stasis in postmodern America. Once simple and logical solutions to our fiscal and social problems are now seen as too radical even to discuss.”
Mid-fifteenth-century Byzantium was facing endemic corruption, a radically declining birthrate and shrinking population, and the end of civic militarism—all the last-gasp symptoms of an irreversible decline. Its affluent ruling and religious orders and expansive government services could no longer be supported by disappearing agrarians and the overtaxed mercantile middle class.
Returning to the values of the Emperor Justinian’s sixth-century empire that had once ensured a vibrant Byzantine culture of stability and prosperity throughout the old Roman east remained a nostalgic daydream. Given the hardship and sacrifice that would have been required to change the late Byzantine mindset, most residents of Constantinople plodded on to their rendezvous with oblivion in 1453.
We seem to be reaching that point of stasis in postmodern America. Once simple and logical solutions to our fiscal and social problems are now seen as too radical even to discuss. Consider the $20-trillion national debt. Most Americans accept that current annual $500 billion budget deficits are not sustainable—but they also see them as less extreme than the recently more normal $1 trillion in annual red ink.
“Race relations pose comparable paradoxes. Inner-city Chicago has turned into a war zone with over 500 murders so far this year alone.”
Americans also accept that the Obama administration doubled the national debt on the expectation of permanent near-zero interest rates, which cannot continue. When interest rates return to more normal historical levels of 4-5% per annum, the costs of servicing the debt—along with unsustainable Social Security and Medicare entitlement costs—will begin to undermine the entire budget.
“Illegal immigration, like the deficits, must cease, but stopping it would be too politically incorrect and painful even to ponder. The mess in Europe—millions of indigent and illegal immigrants who have fled their own failed states to become dependent on the largess of their generous adopted countries, but without any desire to embrace their hosts’ culture—is apparently America’s future.”
Count up current local, state and federal income taxes, payroll taxes, property and sales taxes, and new health care taxes, and it will be hard to find the necessary additional revenue from a strapped and overtaxed middle class, much less from the forty-seven percent of Americans who currently pay no federal income taxes.
The Obama administration has tried to reduce the budget by issuing defense cuts and tax hikes—but it has refused to touch entitlement spending, where the real gains could be made. The result is more debt, even as, paradoxically, our military was weakened, taxes rose, revenue increased, and economic growth remained anemic at well below 2% per annum.
“…there are few multiracial societies of the past that have avoided descending into destructive ethnic chauvinism and tribalism once assimilation and integration were replaced by salad-bowl identity politics. Common words and phrases such as ‘illegal alien’ or ‘deportation’ are now considered taboo, while ‘sanctuary city’ is a euphemism for a neo-Confederate nullification of federal immigration laws by renegade states and municipalities.”
Illegal immigration poses a similar dilemma. No nation can remain stable when 10-20 million foreign nationals have crashed through what has become an open border and reside unlawfully in the United States—any more than a homeowner can have neighbors traipsing through and camping in his unfenced yard. Read the rest of this entry »
On Oct. 11, Random House Canada will release I Am Brian Wilson, written with Ben Greenman. It’s Wilson’s first real memoir, having disowned a title from 1991 completed while he was still under the “care” of psychotherapist Eugene Landy. Landy, who helped Wilson recover from the addictions he struggled with in the 1970s – but later kept him in a fog for several years while limiting his contact with family and friends and charging him up to $35,000 a month – is a major character in this edition.
So is Wilson’s wife, Melinda, whom he met at a car dealership in the 1980s, and who worked with his family to emancipate him.
And so is his father, who pushed him toward a musical career but was physically and emotionally abusive. Wilson says he forgives his dad, who died in 1973, but it will take “a year and a half” to forgive Landy. “Actually, I’ve already forgiven him,” he says during an interview in his hotel suite in New York. “He wasn’t all that nice to me, but he taught me how to eat right, how to exercise, how to sleep at night.”
“When I sit at a piano, I feel God this far above my head. And I can feel his presence – makes my hands glide over the keys, and it helps me write a song.”
“It’s a feeling that you can’t deny. Something you can really feel. You just know there’s somebody, a higher power above me, that helps me out when I’m scared.”
— Brian Wilson
It’s useful, if somewhat strange, to review Wilson’s narrative in the light of 2016.
He is still beloved, but the boomer market is shrinking, and millennial fans like myself constitute a niche. For a lot of listeners, the Beach Boys stand for white-dad rock, which stands for a worldview we’re in the necessary process of
dismantling. The 1960s mainstream was tailored to a limited range of people, with a limited range of experiences. This also means that Brian Wilson’s story was forged at a time when empathy was less considerate of the personhood of people with mental illness. The flip side of stigma is fetishization.
“What made it worse, at least early on was that the voices that were in my head trying to do away with me were in a crowded space. They were in there with other voices that were trying to make something beautiful. Voices were the problem, but also the answer. The answer was in harmony.”
Wilson started the Pendletones, soon to become the Beach Boys, with his brothers Carl and Dennis, cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine, scoring a long string of hits in the early 1960s – “it’s been written about so many times that it’s almost like a story that someone else is telling me instead of a piece of my own life,” Wilson writes. (Love, who has elsewhere been pegged as the villain of that story, has his own memoir out this year.) In late-1964, Wilson had a breakdown on a flight to Houston, and decided to stop touring, devoting himself instead to songwriting.
That was the year he first tried LSD, and shortly thereafter he started hearing voices, which would continue for the rest of his life. He’d hear his father and early manager, Murry. He’d hear Phil Spector, whose production of Be My Baby had changed Wilson’s life. And he would hear other, stranger and more menacing voices. “I said, ‘What happened?!’ I took this stupid drug, and that drug made me scared,” he says today. “But it made me write better music. It made me write more sensitive music. I was going to make an album called Sensitive Music for Sensitive People. Isn’t that a great title?”
Pet Sounds was released in 1966, to famously lukewarm sales, followed by less celebrated but still canonical albums such as Wild Honey, Friends, and Surf’s Up. But Wilson began to struggle with drugs, alcohol and overeating, gaining more than 100 pounds and retiring to his bed, leaving his first wife, Marilyn, to take care of their two daughters. Desperate, she called Landy, a “therapist to the stars” whose 24-hour methods, unbeknownst to her, would involve screaming at Wilson while wresting control of his creative output, fortune, and cognition. “If you help a person to get better by erasing that person, what kind of job have you done?” Wilson writes. “I don’t know for sure, but he really did a job on me.” Read the rest of this entry »
A history professor a Californian community college was caught on video ripping down “Never Forget” 9/11 memorial posters.
‘Wells Fargo employees secretly opened unauthorized accounts to hit sales targets and receive bonuses.’
Matt Egan reports: Wells Fargo said on Thursday it fired 5,300 employees for creating ghost accounts over the past five years without the knowledge of customers. Regulators allege millions of these bank and credit card accounts were opened.
“Everyone hates paying bank fees. But imagine paying fees on a ghost account you didn’t even sign up for.”
That’s exactly what happened to Wells Fargo customers nationwide.
On Thursday, federal regulators said Wells Fargo employees secretly created millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts — without their customers knowing it — since 2011.
“The scope of the scandal is shocking. An analysis conducted by a consulting firm hired by Wells Fargo concluded that bank employees opened up over 1.5 million deposit accounts that may not have been authorized.”
The phony accounts earned the bank unwarranted fees and allowed Wells Fargo employees to boost their sales figures and make more money.
“Additionally, Wells Fargo employees also submitted applications for 565,443 credit card accounts without their knowledge or consent, the CFPB said the analysis found.”
“Wells Fargo employees secretly opened unauthorized accounts to hit sales targets and receive bonuses,” Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said in a statement.
Wells Fargo confirmed to CNNMoney that it had fired 5,300 employees related to the shady behavior. Employees went to far as to create phony PIN numbers and fake email addresses to enroll customers in online banking services, the CFPB said.
“Many customers who had unauthorized credit cards opened in their names were hit by annual fees, interest charges and other fees.”
The scope of the scandal is shocking. An analysis conducted by a consulting firm hired by Wells Fargo concluded that bank employees opened up over 1.5 million deposit accounts that may not have been authorized, according to the CFPB. Read the rest of this entry »
Apple Rolls Out Swimproof ‘Apple Watch Series 2’ with White Ceramic Option, Nike+ Version, GPS, MorePosted: September 7, 2016
Apple CFO Jeff Williams has unveiled the next generation of Apple Watch on stage at its big event today.
Apple CFO Jeff Williams has unveiled the next generation of Apple Watch on stage at its big event today.
The new model is called Apple Watch Series 2. Adding to the splash proof feature of the original model, the new Apple Watch is actually swim proof. Apple Watch Series 2 adds swim tracking to the Workouts app including pool swimming and open water swimming. The Apple Watch speaker is the only unsealed part of the casing and it intelligently ejects water after a workout.
Apple Watch Series 2 features a new S2 chip with a faster dual-core processor and a new GPU with 2x graphics performance. The new display is also 2x brighter at 1000 nits, the brightest for any Apple display.
Built-in GPS is also included for outdoor running and walking without iPhone. Apple Watch Series 2 improves the pace and distant tracking and displays routes on the iPhone even when you don’t bring it along.
Apple Watch Series 2 adds a new ceramic (white) build option in addition to aluminum and stainless steel. Hermès is also introducing two new bands with Series 2.
Apple Watch Series 2 is also available in a new Nike+ version with a special version of the Sports band paired with the aluminum model watch. Nike+ Apple Watch is offered in four color options. Read the rest of this entry »
Behold the super-slimy awesomeness that is the Black Sea Hare (Aplysia vaccaria), the world’s largest species of sea slug, weighing up to 30 lbs and measuring over 3 feet long. Black Sea Hares come to shore to lay their eggs and are apparently even slimier to the touch than they look.
Watch as Coyote Peterson of the Brave Wilderness Channel and tide pool expert Aron Sanchez encounter a spectacular specimen of this colossal gastropod mollusk in a tide pools off the coast of the Pacific Ocean in San Pedro, CA Read the rest of this entry »
The horrific deaths of Philando Castillo in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, give us an updated and up-close glimpse of police encounters gone bad—but they are rooted in decades of problematic policing in America. “Historically in this country, the police have never really been the friends of the black community,” says Neill Franklin, a former officer with the Baltimore Police Department and current executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (L.E.A.P).
Franklin talked with Reason TV Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie at this year’s Freedom Fest in Las Vegas, Nevada, pointing out that slavery may have ended officially in the late 1800s, but a lot of policing was born out of that era and the one that followed, when police deliberately enforced laws in ways that targeted black citizens. Even today, police are tasked with enforcing laws—from driving without a license to missing a court date—that tend to target poor communities and communities of color.
“You know a $250 fine doesn’t mean much to people who have money,” says Franklin. “But when you enforce these policies in poor communities, a hundred dollar fine can devastate a family.” Read the rest of this entry »
Dick Van Dyke and his quartet The Vantastix do a little singing after having breakfast at Denny’s. The group just finished a visit to Good Day LA to promote their upcoming show in Cerritos, Dick’s book “Keep Moving”, and their album “Put On A Happy Face”.
Strings of code were released to the Internet by a group calling themselves ‘the Shadow Brokers’. They claim the code is a tool that can be used to hack into any computer.
The cache mysteriously surfaced over the weekend and appears to be legitimate.
Ellen Nakashima reports: Some of the most powerful espionage tools created by the National Security Agency’s elite group of hackers have been revealed in recent days, a development that could pose severe consequences for the spy agency’s operations and the security of government and corporate computers.
“Faking this information would be monumentally difficult, there is just such a sheer volume of meaningful stuff. Much of this code should never leave the NSA.”
— Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the University of California at Berkeley
A cache of hacking tools with code names such as Epicbanana, Buzzdirection and Egregiousblunder appeared mysteriously online over the weekend, setting the security world abuzz with speculation over whether the material was legitimate.
The file appeared to be real, according to former NSA personnel who worked in the agency’s hacking division, known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO).
“Without a doubt, they’re the keys to the kingdom,” said one former TAO employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal operations. “The stuff you’re talking about would undermine the security of a lot of major government and corporate networks both here and abroad.”
Said a second former TAO hacker who saw the file: “From what I saw, there was no doubt in my mind that it was legitimate.”
“Without a doubt, they’re the keys to the kingdom. The stuff you’re talking about would undermine the security of a lot of major government and corporate networks both here and abroad.”
Strings of code were released to the Internet by a group calling themselves “the Shadow Brokers”. They claim the code is a tool that can be used to hack into any computer.
The file contained 300 megabytes of information, including several “exploits,” or tools for taking control of firewalls in order to control a network, and a number of implants that might, for instance, exfiltrate or modify information.
The exploits are not run-of-the-mill tools to target everyday individuals. They are expensive software used to take over firewalls, such as Cisco and Fortinet, that are used “in the largest and most critical commercial, educational and government agencies around the world,” said Blake Darche, another former TAO operator and now head of security research at Area 1 Security.
The software apparently dates back to 2013 and appears to have been taken then, experts said, citing file creation dates, among other things.
“The tools were posted by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers using file-sharing sites such as BitTorrent and DropBox.”
“What’s clear is that these are highly sophisticated and authentic hacking tools,” said Oren Falkowitz, chief executive of Area 1 Security and another former TAO employee.
Several of the exploits were pieces of computer code that took advantage of “zero-day” or previously unknown flaws or vulnerabilities in firewalls, which appear to be unfixed to this day, said one of the former hackers.
The disclosure of the file means that at least one other party — possibly another country’s spy agency — has had access to the same hacking tools used by the NSA and could deploy them against organizations that are using vulnerable routers and firewalls. It might also see what the NSA is targeting and spying on. And now that the tools are public, as long as the flaws remain unpatched, other hackers can take advantage of them, too.
“The disclosure of the file means that at least one other party — possibly another country’s spy agency — has had access to the same hacking tools used by the NSA and could deploy them against organizations that are using vulnerable routers and firewalls. It might also see what the NSA is targeting and spying on. And now that the tools are public, as long as the flaws remain unpatched, other hackers can take advantage of them, too.”
The NSA did not respond to requests for comment.
“Faking this information would be monumentally difficult, there is just such a sheer volume of meaningful stuff,” Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, said in an interview. “Much of this code should never leave the NSA.”
The tools were posted by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers using file-sharing sites such as BitTorrent and DropBox. Read the rest of this entry »
Will AB2466 pass in the state Senate? Hint: in 2014, three state senators — more than 10 percent of the Democratic caucus — were charged with felonies. The state Democratic Party owns Sacramento, and it’s still not enough. Democratic lawmakers must look at jail and think they hit the jackpot: a captive audience of kindred spirits.
Debra J. Saunders reports: California lawmakers seem intent on making Sacramento the place where reasonable reforms, much like runaway trains, jump the tracks. In that no-speed-limit spirit Tuesday, the California Assembly voted 41-37 to allow convicted felons to vote in jail. (Yes, you read that correctly — in jail.) If Assembly Bill 2466 becomes law, the ACLU estimates that 50,000 adults will be able to vote behind bars. The state doesn’t trust these people on the streets, but they are welcome in the voting booth.
“If Assembly Bill 2466 becomes law, the ACLU estimates that 50,000 adults will be able to vote behind bars. The state doesn’t trust these people on the streets, but they are welcome in the voting booth.”
When individuals commit crimes that endanger public safety, they forfeit their civil rights upon conviction. The National Conference of State Legislatures notes that the concept of “civil death” goes back to the Greeks and Romans. In some states — Florida, Iowa — convicted felons are permanently disenfranchised. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently made news by suspending permanent disenfranchisement by temporary order.
No need for that in California. In 1976, voters amended the Constitution to end the permanent disenfranchisement of felons. The California Constitution now reads: The Legislature “shall provide for the disqualification of electors while mentally incompetent or imprisoned or on parole for the conviction of a felony.”
With such clear language, you would think that a measure to allow felons to vote behind bars first would have to go before voters as a constitutional amendment. But voters get no say thanks to an unholy alliance of California politicians, California courts and the ACLU. In 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Realignment Act, which mandated that low-level felons serve their sentences not in state prisons, but in county jails or under county supervision. It was Brown’s clever way of alleviating state prison overcrowding by moving felons to largely overcrowded jails.
In the county system, “it’s not called parole any more,” explained Assemblymember Melissa Melendez, R-Murrieta (Riverside County) who, like every other Republican member, voted against AB2466. Read the rest of this entry »
Many Americans are clueless about what Memorial Day means and why it is a holiday in the United States. Many think it’s just a three day weekend and an excuse to get drunk. Media analyst Mark Dice talks with beachgoers in San Diego, California about the meaning of this important holiday.