Friday, October 21, 2016

Nassau County Executive Is Arrested in Bribery Scheme

The Nassau County executive, Edward P. Mangano, his wife and a local town supervisor were arrested and charged on Thursday with trading government contracts and official favors for free vacations, a no-show job as a food taster and other bribes — the latest in a series of corruption scandals to embarrass New York.

The arrests capped months of looming trouble for Mr. Mangano, a powerful figure in Republican politics on Long Island and the top elected official in Nassau County. He has been dogged by reports — many published in Newsday — that he had received free gifts and vacations from a longtime friend, Harendra Singh, a Long Island restaurateur with about 30 businesses in the area and several government contracts.

Mr. Mangano’s arrest was another blow to the Republican machine in Nassau County, already weakened by the conviction last year of the former State Senate majority leader, Dean G. Skelos, on corruption charges.

This Is Why Half the Internet Shut Down Today

Twitter, Spotify and Reddit, and a huge swath of other websites were down or screwed up this morning. This was happening as hackers unleashed a large distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the servers of Dyn, a major DNS host. It’s probably safe to assume that the two situations are related.

In order to understand how one DDoS attack could take out so many websites, you have to understand how Domain Name Servers (DNS) work. Basically, they act as the Internet’s phone book and facilitate your request to go to a certain webpage and make sure you are taken to the right place. If the DNS provider that handles requests for Twitter is down, well, good luck getting to Twitter. Some websites are coming back for some users, but it doesn’t look like the problem is fully resolved.

Anonymous’ Most Notorious Hacker Is Back, and He’s Gone Legit

For the past year, Hector “Sabu” Monsegur has quietly been working as the lead penetration tester for the small Seattle security firm Rhino Security Labs, managing a six-person team that breaks into clients’ networks to demonstrate vulnerabilities and help the firms patch them. The job marks his turn to full-time cybersecurity work after a much higher profile career as the brash de facto leader of a hacktivist team breaching targets almost daily—including Sony, PBS, and Newscorp, as well as security firms like HBGary and Mantech. When he was caught, he followed that rampage with a stint as an FBI informant, helping the agency to prevent some of the same kinds of cyberattacks he’d helped orchestrate, and then spent seven months in prison after taking a plea deal. Now his new white-hat hacking position is putting to the test whether companies will allow one of the world’s most notorious hackers, reformed or not, to attack their networks—and whether the cybersecurity industry will accept as one of its own someone who not so long ago was eviscerating security firms like the one that now employs him.

The U.S. Government Wants to Read Travelers’ Tweets Before Letting Them In

Soon, foreign visitors to the United States will be expected to tell U.S. authorities about their social media accounts.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection wants to start collecting “information associated with your online presence” from travelers from countries eligible for a visa waiver, including much of Europe and a handful of other countries. Earlier this summer, the agency proposed including a field on certain customs forms for “provider/platform” and “social media identifier,” making headlines in the international press. If approved by the Office of Management and Budget, the change could take effect as soon as December.

Privacy groups in recent weeks have pushed back against the idea, saying it could chill online expression and gives DHS and CBP overbroad authority to determine what kind of online activity constitutes a “risk to the United States” or “nefarious activity.”

WIKILEAKS RELEASE: The Podesta Emails Part 14

No Agenda: Thursday (10-20-16) Episode 870 - Yeezy Squeezy

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Feds seized 50TB of data from NSA contractor suspected of theft

In a new Thursday court filing, federal prosecutors expanded their accusations against a former National Security Agency contractor. Federal investigators seized at least 50 terabytes of data from Harold Thomas Martin III, at least some of which was "national defense information." If all of this data was indeed classified, it would be the largest such heist from the NSA, far larger than what former contractor Edward Snowden took.

Prosecutors also said that Martin should remain locked up and noted that he will soon be charged with violations of the Espionage Act. That law, which dates back nearly a century, is the same law that was used to charge Chelsea Manning and Snowden, among others. If convicted, violators can face the death penalty.

United States Attorney Rod Rosenstein and two other prosecutors laid out new details in the case against Martin, whose arrest only became public earlier this month. Martin had been a contractor with Booz Allen Hamilton and possessed a top-secret clearance.

NSA Can Access More Phone Data Than Ever

One of the reforms designed to rein in the surveillance authorities of the National Security Agency has perhaps inadvertently solved a technical problem for the spy outfit and granted it potential access to much more data than before, a former top official told ABC News.

Before the signing of the USA Freedom Act in June 2015, one of the NSA's most controversial programs was the mass collection of telephonic metadata from millions of Americans — the information about calls, including the telephone numbers involved, the time and the duration but not the calls' content — under a broad interpretation of the Patriot Act's Section 215. From this large "haystack," as officials have called it, NSA analysts could get approval to run queries on specific numbers purportedly linked to international terrorism investigations.

WIKILEAKS RELEASE: The Podesta Emails Part 13

Unfilter 209 - Race To The Bottom (10-19-16)

Lawsuit Seeks to Halt New York Subsidies for Upstate Nuclear Plants

A collection of energy companies and trade associations have filed a lawsuit seeking to reverse a decision by the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to subsidize several struggling upstate nuclear plants, arguing that the state overstepped federal authority to regulate energy prices.

The suit, filed Wednesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan, comes a little more than two months after Mr. Cuomo announced a deal to provide hundreds of millions of dollars per year in subsidies to buttress the bottom lines of four upstate plants. The subsidies were included in an order from the Public Service Commission, whose chairwoman, Audrey Zibelman, is named as the lead defendant.

The suit argues that such action oversteps the federal government’s policy of allowing market forces to set wholesale energy prices, and effectively makes New York residents pay billions through higher electrical rates to prop up the plants, several of which would have failed without the governor’s plan, the suit claims.

“Unless enjoined or eliminated, these credits will result in New York’s captive ratepayers paying the owners an estimated $7.6 billion over 12 years,” the suit reads.

ACLU Wants 23 Secret Surveillance Laws Made Public

The ACLU has identified 23 legal opinions that contain new or significant interpretations of surveillance law — affecting the government’s use of malware, its attempts to compel technology companies to circumvent encryption, and the CIA’s bulk collection of financial records under the Patriot Act — all of which remain secret to this day, despite an ostensible push for greater transparency following Edward Snowden’s disclosures.

The opinions were written by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. On Wednesday, the ACLU and the Yale Law School Media Freedom Clinic filed a motion with the court requesting that those opinions be released.

“The people of this country can’t hold the government accountable for its surveillance activities unless they know what our laws allow,” said Patrick Toomey, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project. “These secret court opinions define the limits of the government’s spying powers. Their disclosure is essential for meaningful public oversight in our democracy.”

Some of the opinions identified by the ACLU offer interpretations of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a controversial provision that allows the government to conduct mass surveillance on American’s transnational communications. The authority is set to expire in December 2017.

CIA-backed surveillance software was marketed to public schools

An online surveillance tool that enabled hundreds of U.S. law enforcement agencies to track and collect information on social media users was also marketed for use in American public schools, the Daily Dot has learned.

Geofeedia sold surveillance software typically bought by police to a high school in a northern Chicago suburb, less than 50 miles from where the company was founded in 2011. An Illinois school official confirmed the purchase of the software by phone on Monday.

In the fall of 2014, the Lincolnshire-Prairie School District paid Geofeedia $10,000 to monitor the social media posts of children at Adlai E. Stevenson High School.

“We did have for one year a contract with Geofeedia,” said Jim Conrey, a spokesperson for Lincolnshire-Prairie School District. “We were mostly interested in the possibility of trying to prevent any kind of harm, either that students would do to themselves or to other students.”

Conrey said the district simply wanted to keep its students safe. “It was really just about student safety; if we could try to head off any potential dangerous situations, we thought it might be worth it,” he said.

Ultimately, the school found little use for the platform, which was operated by police liaison stationed on school grounds, and chose not to renew its subscription after the first year, citing cost and a lack of actionable information. “A lot of kids that were posting stuff that we most wanted, they weren’t doing the geo-tagging or making it public,” Conrey said. “We weren’t really seeing a lot there.”

DHS is using firefighters to spy on Americans in their own homes

DHS is using firefighters to spy on Americans in their own homes.

DHS is using the U.S. Census to ask Americans, questions about smoke detectors, so they can to give homes 'fire risk assessments'. The above video (approx. 2:30) shows how the New Orleans fire department "took it up a notch" and "went door to door, boots on the ground" entering resident's homes to install smoke detectors in people's bedrooms, kitchens etc.

According to the "City of Orleans, Analytics-Informed Smoke Alarm Outreach Program," the New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) has been going door-to-door giving homes free 'fire risk assessments' since 2015.

The NOFD is launching a door-to-door smoke alarm outreach campaign that leverages analytics to prioritize those neighborhoods that are least likely to have smoke alarms and most likely to experience fire fatalities. With this analysis, NOFD will conduct a targeted, risk-informed door-to-door smoke alarm outreach program.

Two companies sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development called the American Housing Survey and Enigma io are behind this program. Interestingly, 'Enigma io' is run by American Express, the New York Times and New Enterprise Associates a global venture capital firm.

Imagine letting a DHS agent into your home without a warrant?

That's exactly what's happening, as firefighters nationwide enter people's homes under the guise of fire safety. Click here, here & here to find out how firefighters work for DHS. Last year, I warned everyone that firefighters are being armed and trained for urban warfare. Click here, here & here to find out more.