Jul 18 2018

The Breakfast Club (Imagination)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

The Spanish Civil War begins; Sen. Ted Kennedy’s passenger dies when he drives his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island; South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and musician Ricky Skaggs born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

I learned a long time ago that reality was much weirder than anyone’s imagination.

Hunter S. Thompson

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Jul 17 2018

A Hacker’s Guide to the GRU Indictment

It’s true I work with computers but that encompasses a lot of things, some of which I know quite a bit about and others almost nothing.

I must admit that the intricacies of networking and “cloud” computing fall in the latter category, mostly because I have a pronounced philosophical preference for strong peer computing (a model where each individual terminal has a lot of native resources independent of other units and can accomplish any relevant task without assistance) as opposed thin client computing (where local resources are sufficient to connect to centralized, shared devices only).

So I find this interesting from a technical standpoint as it illuminates areas in which I am weak, though I don’t doubt for a moment these feats are possible and plausible. It represents a different paradigm than the one I choose to work in.

What Mueller Knows About the DNC Hack—And Trump Doesn’t
By THOMAS RID, Politico
July 17, 2018

(Friday) Robert Mueller published an indictment of 12 officers from the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election, including by hacking into the DNC. The indictment is historically unprecedented in scope and detail. The FBI named-and-shamed two specific GRU units, their commanding officers and 10 subordinate officers while revealing stunning details of Russia’s hacking tradecraft. And a close read of it all shows why Trump’s “DNC didn’t give the server to the FBI” conspiracy theory makes no sense.

First off, CrowdStrike, the company the DNC brought in to initially investigate and remediate the hack, actually shared images of the DNC servers with the FBI. For the purposes of an investigation of this type, images are much more useful than handing over metal and hardware, because they are bit-by-bit copies of a crime scene taken while the crime was going on. Live hard drive and memory snapshots of blinking, powered-on machines in a network reveal significantly more forensic data than some powered-off server removed from a network. It’s the difference between watching a house over time, carefully noting down who comes and goes and when and how, versus handing over a key to a lonely boarded-up building. By physically handing over a server to the FBI as Trump suggested, the DNC would in fact have destroyed evidence. (Besides, there wasn’t just one server, but 140.)

An advanced investigation of an advanced hacking operation requires significantly more than just access to servers. Investigators want access to the attack infrastructure—the equivalent to a chain of getaway cars of a team of burglars. And the latest indictments are rich with details that likely come from intercepting command-and-control boxes (in effect, bugging those getaway cars) and have nothing to do with physical access to the DNC’s servers.

The FBI and Robert Mueller’s investigators discovered when and how specific Russian military officers logged into a control panel on a leased machine in Arizona. They found that the GRU officers secretly surveiled an empoyee of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee all day in real time, including spying on “her individual banking information and other personal topics.” They showed that “Guccifer 2.0,” the supposed lone hacker behind the DNC hack, was in fact managed by a specific GRU unit, and even reconstructed the internet searches made within that unit while a GRU officer with shoddy English skills was drafting the first post as Guccifer 2.0. None of this information could have possibly come from any DNC server.

With help from the broader intelligence community, the FBI was able to piece all these details together into the bigger picture of the GRU’s vast hacking effort. The complexity of high-tempo, high-volume hacking campaigns means that attackers can make myriad mistakes; Mueller’s latest indictments reveal just how successful American investigators have been at exploiting those repeated errors and uncovering more and more information about what Russia did.

The Russian spies, for example, reused a specific account for a virtual private network (a purportedly secure communication link) to register deceptive internet domains for the DNC hack, as well as to post stolen material online under the Guccifer 2.0 front. Cryptocurrency payments—the kind the Russians used to pay for registering the DCLeaks.com site and their VPN—were neither as anonymous nor as secure as the GRU thought they would be. Third-party platforms including Google, Twitter and the link-shortening service Bitly were convenient and reliable for Russian hackers, but they could also be subpoenaed. Mueller’s team did exactly that, reconstructing how, when and how frequently Russian intelligence officers communicated with WikiLeaks, which they used as an outlet for the stolen material. The Russians weren’t even particularly careful: WikiLeaks and the Russians officers, in a major cock-up, encrypted the hacked emails, but did not encrypt the details of their collaboration. And in using a Bitly account to automate the shortened links sent out to targets of their email-phishing scheme, the GRU left an investigative gold mine: a vast target list of more than 10,000 potential victims’ email addresses.

American spies could even watch the Russian spies trying, in vain, to cover their tracks, likely in real time. Indeed, the Russian officers made so many mistakes that it is almost surprising the GRU even tried to be stealthy. The U.S. intelligence community has stunning visibility into GRU hacking operations—not just against the DNC, but against the Hillary Clinton campaign, the DCCC and state election infrastructure. The notion that all this high-resolution visibility hinges on physical access to “the DNC server” defies logic or even a basic understanding of what is actually happening.

The Mueller indictment of GRU officers is so detailed and comprehensive that it represents a major humiliation for what used to be one of the world’s most respected intelligence agencies. One can imagine laughter over at FSB and SVR, Russia’s other intelligence agencies, which are traditionally fierce rivals of GRU.

But in Helsinki, that laughter found a new target, as the president missed Mueller’s brilliant pass and turned it into a major American own goal. Donald Trump managed to bend what should have been an embarrassment for Russia and a firing offense for clumsy spies into an embarrassment for the United States and a punch in the gut of America’s intelligence community.

Jul 17 2018

Impeach!

I’m sorry but I just can’t understand why all the “Very Serious” people in D.C. are saying very serious things about how appallingly serious, and unexpected, and confusing, and WHY DO YOU KEEP WASTING MY TIME PRETENDING THIS IS “NEW” AND DIFFERENT!”

It’s the same impeachable offenses it was January 21st, 2017. Emoluments Clause, High Crimes and Misdemeanors, now we add Treason as if that wasn’t obvious from the beginning. It’s like having a very dim Watson.

Even Rachel engages but soon enough she gets to a summary of developments in the Russian Fraud Against The United States case since the release of Friday’s indictment.

And this is Monday’s venture that has everyone so upset.

Unexpected? I think the reaction is vastly overblown. He didn’t publicly turn over Syria. He’s not sending arms to Ukranian separatists. Technically speaking it’s not a patch on the damage he did just this weekend while helping a little old lady walk her Corgis. If you want a prime example of appalling how about the torpedo he put into the side of May (who had a very bad week indeed) by ignorantly hammerIng her new ‘softer’ Brexit policy.

Or maybe it was declaring War on NATO.

Jul 17 2018

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Michelle Goldberg: Trump Shows the World He’s Putin’s Lackey

No matter how low your expectations for the summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin on Monday, it was hard not to be staggered by the American president’s slavish and toadying performance.

On Friday, the Justice Department indicted 12 members of Russia’s military intelligence service for a criminal conspiracy to interfere with the 2016 election and hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The same day, Trump’s director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, gave a speech about America’s vulnerability to cyberattacks, particularly from Russia. “I’m here to say, the warning lights are blinking red again,” he said, comparing the threat to the one that preceded Sept. 11.

But standing beside Putin in Helsinki on Monday, Trump sided with the Russian president against American intelligence agencies while spewing lies and conspiracy theories. [..]

While I was as shocked as everyone else, I shouldn’t have been. Trump’s behavior on Monday recalled his outburst at Trump Tower after the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, when he insisted there were “very fine people” among the racist demonstrators. Both times, everything Trump said was in keeping with things he’d said before. The shocking part was his frankness. Then, as now, it forced, if just for a moment, a collective apprehension of just what a repulsive abomination this presidency is.

Eugene Robinson: Trump is a Putin fanboy. Someday we’ll know why.

President Trump is succeeding wildly in one clear, if unannounced, objective: to Make Russia Great Again.

Trump’s summit in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin went a long way toward achieving Putin’s most cherished goal, which is to return his vast and complicated nation to the exalted geopolitical status it long enjoyed as part of the Soviet Union. [..]

Look at what Trump “accomplished” — and I use the word ironically — in a brief foreign trip. He weakened the NATO alliance, bashing other member countries at a contentious meeting in Brussels. He undermined British Prime Minister Theresa May, saying she was taking the wrong approach to Britain’s exit from the European Union. He showed up late for tea with Queen Elizabeth II. He parroted and amplified the racist anti-immigration views of the European far right. He described the E.U. as a geopolitical “foe.”

It was fitting, then, that he ended his journey by kowtowing to Putin. It is not paranoia to point out that no world leader benefits more from Trump’s foreign policy. Someday, and I hope it’s soon, we will learn why.

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Jul 17 2018

The Breakfast Club (Broken Dreams)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

TWA Flight 800 explodes; Russia’s royal family executed; Disneyland opens; Nicaragua’s Somoza goes into exile; Apollo and Soyuz link up in space; Baseball’s Ty Cobb and jazz great John Coltrane die.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Hatred, racism, and extremism have no place in this country.

Angela Merkel

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Jul 16 2018

A Good Day For Dinosaur News

Is today a good day for dinosaur news? Every day is a good day for dinosaur news. They lived then to make us happy now.

In case you don’t quite get the reference, for some years there was a moderately popular chain of Gas Stations owned by Sinclair Oil. Their logo was an Apatosaurus. I’m not sure there is any connection (and am much too lazy to look it up) but broadcast Television is likewise an extinct reptile of enormous size with two pea sized brains because the main one didn’t have the processing power to run the back legs.

If you have spent the last 200 Million years or so liquifying under a rock you might have missed the fact that Sinclair Broadcasting is to TV what IHeartRadio (Clear Channel) is to Radio. They own over 170 local stations covering about 2 thirds of all households in the United States.

Since 2017 they have formally been trying to acquire Tribune Media which only has 42 stations, but many are in metropolitan areas like Chicago and New York City Sinclair doesn’t already have service in.

As if rising from a 66% to 75% monopoly were not enough reason to be alarmed, Sinclair has a Teabagger/Trump Republican editorial policy which includes deliberately broadcasting “Fake News” out of the mouths of hitherto trusted (at least to be attacked by animals and stand outside in bad weather) local newscasters.

The “Fake News” must be covered. There are no exceptions to the policy.

But ek, you said it was a good day!

That’s because it probably won’t happen.

FCC sends Sinclair mega-deal to likely doom
By MARGARET HARDING MCGILL, Politico
07/16/2018

As originally proposed in May 2017, the $3.9 billion deal would see conservative-leaning Sinclair, already the largest U.S. TV station owner, gobble up 42 Tribune stations in key markets like New York and Chicago, adding to its existing footprint of more than 170 stations and giving the company access to nearly three-quarters of U.S. households.

But the regulatory review dragged on for more than a year, as Sinclair revised the deal several times, offering to sell off 21 stations in an effort to gain government approval. Critics took issue with some of the proposed sales, which were so-called sidecar arrangements that would allow Sinclair to keep a stake in the revenue and programming of the spun-off stations, as POLITICO reported on May 30. Another two of the sales would have been to a company with close ties to Sinclair.

Pai said “certain proposed divestitures” were a sticking point for the agency.

“Based on a thorough review of the record, I have serious concerns about the Sinclair/Tribune transaction,” the chairman said in the statement. “The evidence we’ve received suggests that certain station divestitures that have been proposed to the FCC would allow Sinclair to control those stations in practice, even if not in name, in violation of the law.”

FCC officials said one problematic deal was the plan to sell Chicago station WGN to Steven Fader, a Maryland business associate of Sinclair Executive Chairman David Smith who oversees car dealerships. Others that raised alarm were the deals to sell stations in Dallas and Houston to Cunningham Broadcasting, a company with close ties to the Smith family.

The FCC’s decision is a significant blow for Sinclair, which has been been a frequent target for Democrats and liberal groups disturbed by reports that it favors President Donald Trump in its coverage via “must-run” segments pumped to its network of stations.

The Washington Post reported Sinclair “gave a disproportionate amount of neutral or favorable coverage to Trump during the campaign” while airing negative stories on Hillary Clinton. That followed POLITICO’s reporting on a boast by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner that the president’s campaign had struck a deal with the broadcast group for better media coverage. Sinclair disputed the characterization, saying it was an arrangement for extended sit-down interviews that was offered to both candidates.

Sinclair has also drawn fire for mandating its stations carry conservative content, including regular commentary from former Trump campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn. Earlier this year, the company faced heavy criticism from Democratic lawmakers and others for directing local anchors to read a script on the threat of “fake news,” widely seen as a Trump-style broadside aimed at mainstream press outlets.

Critics ranging from congressional Democrats to Sinclair’s conservative media rivals like Newsmax have warned the Sinclair-Tribune merger would give too much power to a single company to control the airwaves. But Sinclair argued that broadcasters must get bigger to effectively compete in the modern media ecosystem.

Further complicating the merger’s prospects was the legal challenge to the FCC’s decision to reinstate the UHF discount. The discount gives broadcast companies the ability to reach up to 78 percent of U.S. television households without technically violating the 39 percent cap. Judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals expressed skepticism about the decision to bring back the loophole during oral arguments in April.

A simple tie-up would have seen the combined companies reach more than 72 percent of TV households. Under the deal structure Sinclair proposed most recently, with the 21 station sell-offs, the post-merger company would have reached about 59 percent of American TV households before factoring in the UHF discount. Critics said even that scaled-down deal would have given Sinclair an unfairly broad reach in light of the sidecar arrangements freeing the company to maintain close ties with certain divested stations.

Jul 16 2018

Sabraw Strikes Again

Judge will temporarily halt deportations of reunited families
By TED HESSON, Politico
07/16/2018

A federal judge on Monday said he will issue a temporary halt to deportations of migrant parents who are reunited with their children.

U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw said during court proceedings in San Diego that he will stay deportations pending resolution of the issue.

Justice Department attorney Scott Stewart said in court Monday that the Trump administration opposes delaying deportations and will file a briefing in response by July 23.

Sarah Fabian, another DOJ attorney in the case, suggested the stay of deportations could affect the process of reunifying families due to limited immigration detention space, but Sabraw rejected that idea.

“That’s not an option,” the judge said. “If space is an issue, then the government will have to make space.”

Sabraw excoriated the administration last week for its execution of his order to reunify migrant families who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Trump administration faced a July 10 deadline to reunite 102 children under age 5 with their parents, but failed to reconnect 46 children due to security concerns and other logistical hurdles. Under Sabraw’s order, the administration must reunite a broader pool of more than 2,500 separated children by July 26.

Sabraw on Friday complained that HHS officials seemed to be using safety concerns as “cover” to avoid meeting the late-July deadline.

In a filing Friday, (Chris) Meekins (Deputy Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response for HHS) argued a streamlined reunification process ordered by Sabraw “materially increases the risk of harm to children.”

Sabraw on Monday called the declaration “deeply troubling” and said it seemed to ignore that children had been separated from parents at the border and instead treated them as typical unaccompanied minors who arrived alone.

“Mr. Meekins, apparently, wants to hold children for months,” Sabraw said, calling such a decision “not in the best interest of children.”

During his court testimony Monday, (Jonathan) White (Deputy Director for Children’s Programs at the Office of Refugee Resettlement) said that ORR had identified 2,551 separated children in its custody ages 5 to 17. Of those, the refugee office has matched 2,480 to parents, which leaves the parentage of 71 still undetermined.

According to White, 1,609 parents of those children remain in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He said 1,317 have cleared ORR parentage and security checks.

ICE is conducting its own security checks after ORR, according to White. As of this morning, 918 parents had completed the ICE process, he said.

Fifty-one parents failed the ICE check and 348 have pending clearances, White said.

In its filing Monday, the ACLU argued that the situation of migrant parents has grown more complex in recent weeks, which required the judge to halt deportations.

In June, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued an immigration law decision that restricts asylum eligibility for victims of “private violence,” including domestic violence and gang violence.

“As a result of the Attorney General’s (patently unlawful) asylum decision, it will be that much more difficult to advise families about whether a child will ultimately prevail in his or her asylum claim,” the ACLU said in the filing, “or instead will spend years by themselves in the United States fighting their case in the immigration courts, only to be removed at the end of the day.”

Jul 16 2018

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: Benefits, Work, and Poverty

Back in 2014 Paul Ryan declared that the War on Poverty had failed, so it was time to slash spending on anti-poverty programs. Last week the Trump Council of Economic Advisers declared not only that the War on Poverty has in fact substantially reduced poverty – which is what progressives have been saying all along – but that poverty is “largely over”. (Do these people ever visit the real world?)

And because poverty is over, they say, we should impose lots of work requirements on Medicaid and food stamps, which would have the effect of slashing spending on these programs. Somehow a completely opposite reading of the facts leads to the same policy conclusion. Funny how that works.

But are benefits like Medicaid and food stamps really discouraging a lot of people from working? One way to answer that question is to look at who is receiving benefits without working. The White House analysis claims that many of those non-working adults could work; but I put a lot more trust in the Kaiser Family Foundation, which finds only a small number of potential workers among benefit recipients.

Charles M. Blow: Trump, Treasonous Traitor

Put aside whatever suspicions you may have about whether Donald Trump will be directly implicated in the Russia investigation.

Trump is right now, before our eyes and those of the world, committing an unbelievable and unforgivable crime against this country. It is his failure to defend.

The intelligence community long ago concluded that Russia attacked our election in 2016 with the express intention of damaging Hillary Clinton and assisting Trump.

And it was not only the spreading of inflammatory fake news over social media. As a May report from the Republican-run Senate Intelligence Committee pointed out: {..}

And this is not simply a thing that happened once. This is a thing that is still happening and will continue to happen. As Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the committee in February, “Persistent and disruptive cyberoperations will continue against the United States and our European allies using elections as opportunities to undermine democracy.” As he put it, “Frankly, the United States is under attack.”

The Robert Mueller investigation is looking into this, trying to figure out what exactly happened in 2016, who all was involved, which laws where broken and who will be charged and tried.

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Jul 16 2018

the Breakfast Club (Men of Principle)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

Test of the world’s first nuclear weapon; President Richard Nixon’s White House taping system revealed; John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife and her sister die in a plane crash; Apollo 11 lifts off for Moon.

Breakfast Tunes

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Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle.

Alexis de Tocqueville

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Jul 15 2018

The Breakfast Club (Ascutney! Gott segne dich!)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo 807561379_e6771a7c8e_zps7668d00e.jpg

AP’s Today in History for July 16th

Test of the world’s first nuclear weapon; President Richard Nixon’s White House taping system revealed; John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife and her sister die in a plane crash; Apollo 11 lifts off for Moon.

Breakfast Tune Stray Cats – Foggy Moutain Breakdown (Banjo Time)

 
 

Something to think about, Breakfast News & Blogs below

Paychecks Lag as Profits Soar, and Prices Erode Wage Gains
Patricia Cohen, NY Times

Corporate profits have rarely swept up a bigger share of the nation’s wealth, and workers have rarely shared a smaller one.

The lopsided split is especially pronounced given how low the official unemployment rate has sunk. Throughout the recession and much of its aftermath, when many Americans were grateful to receive a paycheck instead of a pink slip, jobs and raises were in short supply. Now, complaints of labor shortages are as common as tweets. For the first time in a long while, workers have some leverage to push for more.

Yet many are far from making up all the lost ground. Hourly earnings have moved forward at a crawl, with higher prices giving workers less buying power than they had last summer. Last-minute scheduling, no-poaching and noncompete clauses, and the use of independent contractors are popular tactics that put workers at a disadvantage. Threats to move operations overseas, where labor is cheaper, continue to loom.

And in the background, the nation’s central bankers stand poised to raise interest rates and deliberately rein in growth if wages climb too rapidly. Workers, understandably, are asking whether they are getting a raw deal.

 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Something to think about over coffee prozac

State board to consider changing mountain’s made-up name

WINDSOR, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont state board plans to hear a man’s request to change the name of Mount Ascutney (ah-SKUT’-nee) because it’s a made-up name.

Hartland resident Rob Hutchins says he recently discovered the name Ascutney is made up and the original name of the summit was Kaskadenak, which means “wide mountain” in the Abenaki (a-behn-AHK’-ee) language.

Hutchins tells Vermont Public Radio he always thought the mountain’s name was a Native American name but the current name doesn’t actually have meaning.

Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation Chief Paul Bunnell worked with Hutchins to help track down the proper spelling and pronunciation of Kaskadenak.

The State of Vermont Board of Libraries has statutory authority to rename mountains and has scheduled a special hearing July 17 to consider the name change.

 
I always thought it was the Abenaki word for broken leg.

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