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Hometown: Boston, MA
Member since: Wed May 12, 2004, 05:41 PM
Number of posts: 52,535

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Russian hackers who stole DNC emails failed at social media. WikiLeaks helped.

Related: Potemkin Pages & Personas: Assessing GRU Online Operations, 2014-2019 (Stanford Internet Observatory)


Source: Washington Post

Russian hackers who stole DNC emails failed at social media. WikiLeaks helped.

By Craig Timberg
11/12/2019, 10:19:00 p.m.

The Russian military hackers who stole tens of thousands of sensitive Democratic Party documents in 2016 struggled to disseminate their bounty online — at least until anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks joined the effort, according to a report released Tuesday night.

The report, prepared by analyzing data Facebook provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee, found that the Russian military hackers sought to publicize the documents as early as June 14 that year through a post on Facebook that said, “Check restricted documents leaked from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign staff,” and provided a link to an online trove. But despite the potentially explosive contents, the post on the “DCLeaks” page generated just 11 “likes,” 17 shares and zero comments.

Direct messages to American journalists, made through a fictitious Twitter persona called Guccifer 2.0, generated a spate of news coverage soon after. But that was modest compared to the deluge that came five weeks later, on July 22, when WikiLeaks published the documents and tweeted a link to its 3.2 million followers.

The revelations from the stolen documents, many of which were embarrassing emails showing party officials appearing to favor Clinton over her rival for the presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders, soon spread widely enough to prompt the Democratic chairwoman to resign on the eve of the party’s national convention.

The hacking campaign’s outreach efforts, executed by the Russian military intelligence agency known as the GRU, underscore how marrying stolen documents with sophisticated social media outreach can generate outsize results. It also underscored the unwitting role American journalists played in a Russian intelligence operation to interfere in a U.S. election.


Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/russian-hackers-who-stole-dnc-emails-failed-at-social-media-wikileaks-helped/2019/11/12/751690ae-0580-11ea-a5e2-fccc16fa3576_story.html

Alex Jones threatened to name a Roger Stone juror. Experts say that might be jury tampering.

Source: Washington Post

Alex Jones threatened to name a Roger Stone juror. Experts say that might be jury tampering.

By Deanna Paul
11/7/2019, 5:33:46 p.m.

On the first day of political consultant Roger Stone’s trial in federal court in Washington, D.C., on charges of false statements and witness tampering, Judge Amy Berman Jackson cautioned people in the courtroom against releasing jurors’ names.

But Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was undeterred, the Daily Beast first reported. Ignoring her warning, Jones broadcast on his show the name and face of an individual who he believed had been seated on Stone’s jury, calling the person an anti-Trump “minion” and launching a flurry of witness tampering and obstruction of justice allegations.

Although Jones held up a photo of a person who had no connection to the Stone trial, legal experts maintained the effect was the same as if the person had been a juror.

Jury tampering is an intentional effort to sway a juror’s opinion or decision in a case by communicating with him or her either directly or indirectly through an improper channel, outside of legal arguments and evidence presented in court.

It doesn’t matter whether he revealed the right or wrong name or image, according to Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York. His actions were not about a particular juror, but rather they were aimed at intimidating the others on the jury, she said.


Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/11/07/alex-jones-threatened-name-roger-stone-juror-experts-say-that-might-be-jury-tampering/

Antarctica likely to drive rapid sea-level rise under climate change

Source: Australian National University

NOVEMBER 6, 2019

Antarctica likely to drive rapid sea-level rise under climate change

by Australian National University

Scientists from The Australian National University (ANU) have shown that ice melt from Antarctica drives rapid and high sea-level rise, offering a forewarning of what to expect under human-driven climate change.

The researchers examined historical and new data from the 'last interglacial', which took place 125,000 to 118,000 years ago and saw sea levels rise up to 10 metres above current levels.

Interglacials are periods of warmer global temperatures that can last thousands of years.

The study, published in Nature Communications, shows that sea levels rose up to three metres per century, largely driven by ice loss in the Antarctic ice sheet.

Lead author, Professor Eelco Rohling, said that the last interglacial sea-rise was due to natural climate instabilities.

"These were smaller and slower than the human-caused climate disturbance of today," he said.


Read more: https://phys.org/news/2019-11-antarctica-rapid-sea-level-climate.html


Related: Asynchronous Antarctic and Greenland ice-volume contributions to the last interglacial sea-level highstand (Nature Communications)


The headlines from other outlets are much more sensational:
Scientists looked at sea levels 125,000 years in the past. The results are terrifying (The Conversation)
Scientists Study Sea Levels 125,000 Years Ago And It's a Terrifying Look at Our Future (Science Alert)

Climate change: 'Clear and unequivocal' emergency, say scientists

Source: BBC

Climate change: ‘Clear and unequivocal’ emergency, say scientists

By Matt McGrath
Environment correspondent

6 November 2019

A global group of around 11,000 scientists have endorsed research that says the world is facing a climate emergency.

The study, based on 40 years of data on a range of measures, says governments are failing to address the crisis.

Without deep and lasting changes, the world is facing "untold human suffering" the study says.

The researchers say they have a moral obligation to warn of the scale of the threat.

Released on the day that satellite data shows that last month was the warmest October on record, the new study says that that simply measuring global surface temperatures is an inadequate way of capturing the real dangers of an overheating world.


Where it differs is in showing that while things might be bad, they are not hopeless. The researchers show six areas in which immediate steps should be taken that could make a major difference.


Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-50302392


Related: World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency (BioScience)

NYT Editorial Board: The Mess at D.H.S.

Source: New York Times

The Mess at D.H.S.

The Department of Homeland Security, about to lose its fourth leader in three years, is a laboratory of Trumpian chaos.

By The Editorial Board
The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

Oct. 31, 2019, 6:57 p.m. ET

Thursday was supposed to be the last day on the job for Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The fourth person to head the department under President Trump, Mr. McAleenan tendered his resignation three weeks ago, after a brief, turbulent stint in which he — not infrequently — found himself at odds with the president’s more radical immigration policies, statements and advisers.

In announcing Mr. McAleenan’s impending departure via Twitter, the president congratulated him on “a job well done” and said he would name a new acting secretary the following week. That didn’t happen, threatening to leave rudderless the government’s third-largest department, with a portfolio ranging from border protection to disaster management to transportation safety to counterterrorism to election security. In an appearance before a House committee on Wednesday, Mr. McAleenan said that, if asked, he would stay on until a successor was found. “If necessary,” he said, “I’ll absolutely ensure a smooth transition.”

While noble, this seems overly ambitious. In the Trump administration, little at Homeland Security has gone smoothly, with high turnover, vacancies in key posts and a growing number of “acting” officials running major divisions. At D.H.S., the top jobs being filled in a temporary, unconfirmed capacity include the deputy secretary, the under secretary for management, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the head of Customs and Border Protection and the head of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. There has been feuding among senior officials, and lines of authority have become hopelessly tangled.

Mr. Trump has made clear he likes things this way; he can exert greater control over what amounts to glorified temp workers, and he doesn’t have to bother with obtaining the Senate’s approval of his appointees. But it is a lousy way to run a department — especially one so sprawling — fueling instability, eroding morale and draining vital agencies of experienced, competent leaders.


Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/31/opinion/department-homeland-security.html

Rising sea levels pose threat to homes of 300m people - study

Source: The Guardian

Rising sea levels pose threat to homes of 300m people – study

Figure based on new analysis of coastlines is more than three times previous estimate

Jonathan Watts
Tue 29 Oct 2019 16.00 GMT
Last modified on Tue 29 Oct 2019 16.38 GMT

More than three times more people are at risk from rising sea levels than previously believed, research suggests.

Land that is currently home to 300 million people will flood at least once a year by 2050 unless carbon emissions are cut significantly and coastal defences strengthened, says the study, published in Nature Communications. This is far above the previous estimate of 80 million.

The upward revision is based on a more sophisticated assessment of the topography of coastlines around the world. Previous models used satellite data that overestimated the altitude of land due to tall buildings and trees. The new study used artificial intelligence to compensate for such misreadings.

Researchers said the magnitude of difference from the previous Nasa study came as a shock. “These assessments show the potential of climate change to reshape cities, economies, coastlines and entire global regions within our lifetimes,” said Scott Kulp, the lead author of the study and a senior scientist at Climate Central.

“As the tideline rises higher than the ground people call home, nations will increasingly confront questions about whether, how much and how long coastal defences can protect them.”


Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/29/rising-sea-levels-pose-threat-to-homes-of-300m-people-study


Related: New elevation data triple estimates of global vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding (Nature Communications)

Tally of children split at border tops 5,400 in new count

Source: Associated Press

Tally of children split at border tops 5,400 in new count

October 25, 2019

SAN DIEGO (AP) — U.S. immigration authorities separated more than 1,500 children from their parents at the Mexico border early in the Trump administration, the American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday, bringing the total number of children separated since July 2017 to more than 5,400.

The ACLU said the administration told its attorneys that 1,556 children were separated from July 1, 2017, to June 26, 2018, when a federal judge in San Diego ordered that children in government custody be reunited with their parents.

Children from that period can be difficult to find because the government had inadequate tracking systems. Volunteers working with the ACLU are searching for some of them and their parents by going door-to-door in Guatemala and Honduras.

Of those separated during the 12-month period, 207 were under 5, said attorney Lee Gelernt of the ACLU, which sued to stop family separation. Five were under a year old, 26 were a year old, 40 were 2 years old, 76 were 3, and 60 were 4.

“It is shocking that 1,556 more families, including babies and toddlers, join the thousands of others already torn apart by this inhumane and illegal policy,” said Gelernt. “Families have suffered tremendously, and some may never recover.”


Read more: https://apnews.com/c654e652a4674cf19304a4a4ff599feb

David Ignatius: For U.S. soldiers, 'it's a dagger to the heart' to abandon the Kurds

Source: Washington Post

For U.S. soldiers, ‘it’s a dagger to the heart’ to abandon the Kurds

By David Ignatius
Oct. 14, 2019 at 7:26 p.m. EDT

At a gathering last Saturday night of military and intelligence veterans, one topic shrouded the room: President Trump’s decision to abandon Kurdish fighters in Syria who had fought and died to help America destroy the Islamic State.

“It’s a dagger to the heart to walk away from people who shed blood for us,” one former top CIA official who attended the black-tie dinner told me later. A retired four-star general who was there said the same thing: Trump’s retreat was an “unsound, morally indefensible act” and a “disgrace” to America and the soldiers who serve this country.

This sense of anguish was pervasive among those attending the event, several attendees said. It was an annual dinner honoring the Office of Strategic Services, the secret World War II commando group that was a forerunner of today’s CIA and Special Operations forces. The event celebrated the military alliances that have always been at the center of American power. It was a bitter anniversary this year.

It’s probably impossible for Americans to fully grasp the sense of betrayal felt by the Syrian Kurds, who suffered 11,000 dead and 24,000 wounded in a war that we asked them to fight. But perhaps we can understand the shame and outrage of the Special Operations forces who fought alongside them and now see the Kurds cast aside to face their Turkish enemies alone.

“It will go down in infamy,” said one Army officer who served in the Syria campaign. “This will go down as a stain on the American reputation for decades.” Those may sound like extreme sentiments, but they’re widely shared by those who served in the Syria mission. For these soldiers, abandoning an ally on the battlefield is about the worst thing that can happen.


Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/for-us-soldiers-its-a-dagger-to-the-heart-to-abandon-the-kurds/2019/10/14/f0a1db60-eecf-11e9-89eb-ec56cd414732_story.html

Donald Trump's Own Former National Security Officials Sign Open Letter Saying Ukraine Whistleblower

Source: Newsweek



Dozens of former national security officials—including several who once served under President Donald Trump—have signed an open letter honoring the first whistleblower to come forward in the Trump-Ukraine scandal and demanding their protection.

Signed by 90 former national security officials, the letter came as news broke that at least one other whistleblower had come forward in the case, seeking to flag concerns around Trump's July 25 phone call, in which he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

"While the identity of the whistleblower is not publicly known, we do know that he or she is an employee of the U.S. Government," the letter, signed by prominent officials, including former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, states. "As such, he or she has by law the right—and indeed the responsibility—to make known, through appropriate channels, indications of serious wrongdoing."

"That is precisely what this whistleblower did; and we applaud the whistleblower not only for living up to that responsibility but also for using precisely the channels made available by federal law for raising such concerns," it continues.

Calling for the whistleblower's protection, the letter's signatories praised their efforts, asserting that "a responsible whistleblower makes all Americans safer by ensuring that serious wrongdoing can be investigated and addressed, thus advancing the cause of national security to which we have devoted our careers."


Read more: https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-ukraine-whistleblower-open-letter-deserves-protection-1463494


Related: An Open Letter to the American People

Conservatives attacked Ocasio-Cortez over a bizarre town hall speaker. Now, a pro-Trump fringe group

Source: Washington Post

Conservatives attacked Ocasio-Cortez over a bizarre town hall speaker. Now, a pro-Trump fringe group says it planned the stunt.

By Allyson Chiu
Oct. 4, 2019 at 7:28 a.m. EDT

For most of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) Thursday town hall, the woman in a black jacket sat quietly in the third row. Then, as the event in Corona, N.Y., neared its end, the woman suddenly stood up and began yelling about climate change.

“But we’re not going to be here much long because of the climate crisis,” the woman blurted. “We got to start eating babies,” she abruptly declared, taking off her jacket to display a T-shirt that read, “Save the planet. Eat the children.”

The woman’s bizarre speech swiftly became the center of a heated Twitter fight Thursday night that pitted Ocasio-Cortez against President Trump, his son, Donald Trump Jr., and other conservatives, who suggested the woman was an example “climate change hysteria.” In response, Ocasio-Cortez chastised critics for trying to “mock or make a spectacle” of a woman who “may have been suffering from a mental condition.”

It now seems likely that the scene was carefully planned.

The woman was apparently part of an attempt by a right-wing fringe political group to embarrass the Democratic congresswoman. Late Thursday, a Twitter account belonging to the LaRouche PAC — which was founded by conspiracy theorist Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. — took credit for the stunt. A historian who has documented the organization said the woman’s outburst was “a fairly well-established tactic for them.”


Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/04/conservatives-attacked-ocasio-cortez-over-bizarre-town-hall-speaker-now-pro-trump-fringe-group-says-they-planned-stunt/
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