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Member since: Tue Dec 30, 2014, 06:11 PM
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How to Hack an Election

Andrés Sepúlveda rigged elections throughout Latin America for almost a decade. He tells his story for the first time.

It was just before midnight when Enrique Peña Nieto declared victory as the newly elected president of Mexico. Peña Nieto was a lawyer and a millionaire, from a family of mayors and governors. Returning the party to power on that night in July 2012, Peña Nieto vowed to tame drug violence, fight corruption, and open a more transparent era in Mexican politics.

Two thousand miles away, in an apartment in Bogotá’s upscale Chicó Navarra neighborhood, Andrés Sepúlveda sat before six computer screens. Sepúlveda is Colombian, brick-like, with a shaved head, goatee, and a tattoo of a QR code containing an encryption key on the back of his head. On his nape are the words “</head>” and “<body>” stacked atop each other, dark riffs on coding. He was watching a live feed of Peña Nieto’s victory party, waiting for an official declaration of the results.

When Peña Nieto won, Sepúlveda began destroying evidence. He shredded documents and flushed them down the toilet and erased servers in Russia and Ukraine rented anonymously with Bitcoins. He was dismantling what he says was a secret history of one of the dirtiest Latin American campaigns in recent memory.

For eight years, Sepúlveda, now 31, says he traveled the continent rigging major political campaigns. With a budget of $600,000, the Peña Nieto job was by far his most complex. He led a team of hackers that stole campaign strategies, manipulated social media to create false waves of enthusiasm and derision, and installed spyware in opposition offices, all to help Peña Nieto, a right-of-center candidate, eke out a victory.

Sepúlveda’s career began in 2005, and his first jobs were small—mostly defacing campaign websites and breaking into opponents’ donor databases. Within a few years he was assembling teams that spied, stole, and smeared on behalf of presidential campaigns across Latin America. He wasn’t cheap, but his services were extensive. For $12,000 a month, a customer hired a crew that could hack smartphones, spoof and clone Web pages, and send mass e-mails and texts. The premium package, at $20,000 a month, also included a full range of digital interception, attack, decryption, and defense. The jobs were carefully laundered through layers of middlemen and consultants. Sepúlveda says many of the candidates he helped might not even have known about his role; he says he met only a few.

His teams worked on presidential elections in Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Venezuela. Many of Sepúlveda’s efforts were unsuccessful; but he has enough wins that he might be able to claim as much influence over the political direction of modern Latin America as anyone in the 21st century.

“My job was to do actions of dirty war and psychological operations, black propaganda, rumors—the whole dark side of politics that nobody knows exists but everyone can see,” he says in Spanish, while sitting in an outdoor courtyard deep within the heavily fortified offices of Colombia’s attorney general’s office. He’s serving 10 years in prison for charges including use of malicious software, conspiracy to commit crime, violation of personal data, and espionage, related to hacking during Colombia’s 2014 presidential election.

He has agreed to tell his full story for the first time, hoping to convince the public that he’s rehabilitated—and gather support for a reduced sentence.

At: http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-how-to-hack-an-election/

Posted earlier today by berniepdx420 on GDP (http://www.democraticunderground.com/12511810858). Probably fun and games compared to what's happening here as we speak.

The data of all Filipino voters has been hacked ahead of general election.

Source: Time

A massive leak from a database containing personal details of more than 55 million registered voters in the Philippines will not compromise the May 9 national elections, officials said Friday, in the latest hacking scandal to hit the Southeast Asian nation.

Government agents late Wednesday arrested a 23-year-old suspect, a new graduate of information technology, in his home in Manila. Officials said they are hunting down his alleged accomplices.

Commission on Election spokesman James Jiménez said the automated elections will be run on a different server, not on the one that was hacked, and that experts say the polls are unlikely to be compromised.

The leaked data include voters’ names, birthdays, home addresses, email, parents’ full names and in some cases passport details and text markers of fingerprints.

Read more: http://time.com/4304476/philippines-vote-hack-election/?xid=time_socialflow_facebook

Sounds familiar...

Electricity consumption in Argentina falls by a record 9.4% in March after Macri triples rates.

The hike in utility rates decreed by the right-wing administration of Argentine President Mauricio Macri in February has led to a record 9.4% plunge in demand in March compared to the same month last year, according to the Fundelec foundation.

The drop in consumption, Fundelec noted, was registered despite the fact that temperatures in March did not vary significantly when compared to their historic March average. The report noted that the plunge in consumption contrasted sharply with record consumption levels a year ago, which had been growing at nearly 4% a year and exceeded 140 gwh for all of 2015.

The new trend was also more marked in the Buenos Aires metro area, which includes both the city of Buenos Aires and its suburbs. Electricity consumption in that region (home to one in three Argentines) was down by almost 12%, with a 12.1% drop for Edenor users and a 11.6% for Edesur clients. Consumptionn in the rest of the country fell by 8.3%.

The sudden fall in electricity use came after Energy Minister Juan José Aranguren announced a reduction in subsidies to electricity consumption, leading to a hike in rates averaging 200 to 300%. In one particularly controversial case the University of La Matanza, in suburban Buenos Aires, saw its electricity bill jump from 100,000 pesos ($11,000) in March 2015 to 700,000 pesos ($48,000) this March - a 600% hike.

Aranguren defended the decision as a bid to reduce the country's budget deficit of $25 billion in 2015, with the further goal of raising money to improve the country’s strained electrical infrastructure. He added that the new rates would mean that users "would now be more likely to ration the use of energy and put their consumption in line with the real cost of producing it."

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/212984/electricity-consumption-plunges

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.politicargentina.com/notas/201604/13353-la-universidad-de-la-matanza-pago-700-mil-pesos-de-luz-y-denuncian-que-peligra-su-funcionamiento.html&prev=search

Meanwhile, the wealthy received a $10 billion tax cut. So much for the virtues of being a deficit hawk.

Bernie Sanders discusses big brother, foreign policy, & baseball with René Pérez Joglar of Calle 13.

Argentine Central Bank's Sturzenegger & Judge Bonadío, a Macri ally, charged in dollar futures case.

Argentine Federal Prosecutor Jorge di Lello accused the President of the Central Bank, Federico Sturzenegger, and Buenos Aires Judge Claudio Bonadío, a key right-wing ally of President Mauricio Macri, of enabling the payment of dollar future contracts that resulted in a $4 billion loss for the Central Bank after the 40% devaluation ordered by Macri four months ago.

The charges range from fraud by mismanagement, abuse of authority, and violation of duties of public officials in Sturzenegger's case; to malfeasance, procedural fraud, and attempted illegal detention in the case of Bonadío.

The case stems from charges that Judge Bonadío, at Macri's request, had filed against former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and other officials in her administration over the same dollar futures contracts on March 29.

The move backfired when during subsequent testimony former President Fernández de Kirchner provided proof that numerous Macri officials and members of his inner circle had purchased millions of dollars in the same futures contracts, and personally profited when Macri devalued the peso.

These include:

* Francisco Macri, Macri's father, who purchased $8 million. The elder Macri, a developer and contractor who's faced numerous charges of defrauding the state over the last three decades, co-owned most of the offshore accounts involved in the Panamá Papers and Open Corporates leaks with President Macri and other family members.

* Nicolás Caputo: $3.6 million. Caputo, a close friend of Macri's since childhood and best man at his last wedding in 2014, faces charges related to campaign contributions to the Macri campaign while his firm received large Buenos Aires municipal contracts while Macri was mayor (which is illegal in Argentina).

* Mario Quintana, Secretary of Interministerial Coordination: $1.5 million.

* José María Torello, chief domestic adviser to President Macri and nominal head of Macri's right-wing PRO party: $800,000.

* Gustavo Lopetegui, Macri's Secretary of Public Policy Coordination: $310,000. Lopetegui has also been criticized for having Aerolíneas Argentinas discontinue a number of profitable domestic routes to benefit its chief rival LAN Argentina (in which he served as CEO until his appointment).

The futures contracts in question, which stipulated a March 2016 exchange rate of 10.65, were issued in the second half of last year and are being blamed by Macri for the $4 billion loss incurred by the Central Bank when he devalued the peso from 9.75 to nearly 14 to the dollar last December 17.

Former Economy Minister Axel Kicillof pointed out, however, that by both U.S. and Argentine law the Central Bank cannot, as Macri suggested, sell dollar future contracts in New York (the only ROFEX market offering 14 to 15 pesos per contract at the time). Former Central Bank President Alejandro Vanoli added that selling futures contracts at those values at the time would have implied a sharp devaluation in itself.

Bonadío was also accused by Kicillof of concocting "cut-and-paste" cases against Kirchner officials based solely on articles in Argentina's right-wing media. The Clarín Group and La Nación, which had been aggressively promoting the futures case in their news outlets, themselves bought $11 million and $4 million in futures, respectively.

Their support proved decisive to Macri's narrow victory last year, and both had been calling for a devaluation at the same time these futures contracts were purchased.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.ambito.com/835993-imputaron-a-sturzenegger-y-bonadio-por-pagar-los-contratos-del-dolar-futuro&prev=search

And: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.diarioregistrado.com/economia/que-es-el-dolar-futuro-y-por-que-se-trata-de-una-causa--voligoma-_a570d61b39fea936d68b8b54b&prev=search

Reporters Without Borders warns against media ownership concentration in Argentina under Macri.

The international organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) questioned Argentine President Mauricio Macri's decrees abrogating Argentina’s 2009 Audiovisual Media Law, warning that the new legislation that creates the Enacom agency “favors concentration of media ownership in the country.”

In its annual Press Freedom Index report, the Paris-based international group ranked Argentina 54th, improving its position from 57th. The report stressed, however, that the rescission of the Audiovisual Communications Services Act – passed by Congress during the Cristina Fernández de Kirhcner administration in 2009 - might "result in a higher concentration of media ownership."

“Argentina’s warring media have long been polarized between those owned by the state and those owned by the private sector. The 2009 media law, which encouraged pluralism and provided for a better distribution of frequencies between state, privately-owned and community media, was immediately modified when Mauricio Macri became president in 2015,” the report says.

“The new legislation will probably result in a greater concentration of media ownership, especially in the hands of the Clarín media group, which had to surrender some of its broadcast frequencies after a long legal battle during Cristina Kirchner’s second term as president.”

The Press Freedom Index is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by RSF based upon the organization's assessment of the countries' press freedom records in the previous year.

The 2016 Press Freedom Index has Finland at the top; 15 of the 20 countries with the most press freedoms were in Europe. In the Americas the highest ranked are Costa Rica (6th), Jamaica (10th), Canada (18th), Uruguay (20th), and Chile (31st); the United States ranked 41st. The worst ranked in the Americas were Colombia (134th), Honduras (137th), Venezuela (139th), Mexico (149th), and Cuba (171st); worldwide, the country with the least free press was, according to the report, Eritrea.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/212952/rsf-warns-against-concentration-of-media-ownership-under-new-legal-framework

Is press freedom on the decline? Reporters Without Borders says yes.

Source: Christian Science Monitor

Press freedom worsened in 2015 across every region of the globe, according to a report released Wednesday by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

"Today, it is increasingly easy for powers to appeal directly to the public through new technologies, and so there is a greater degree of violence against those who represent independent information," said RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire in a statement accompanying the report.. "Journalism worthy of the name must be defended against the increase in propaganda and media content that is made to order or sponsored by vested interests."

The World Press Freedom Index, published annually since 2002, measures "pluralism, media independence, the quality of the legal framework, and the safety of journalists in 180 countries," says the report. The data come from a questionnaire, published in 20 languages and completed by experts all over the world, combined with data on abuse and violence against journalists. Since 2013, the index has included a number representing the overall level of media oppression in each nation and region. The higher the figure, the worse the situation.

According to the 2016 report, Europe remains the region with the freest media (19.8), followed by Africa (36.9), which ranked better than the Americas (37.1) for the first time. Asia ranked third (43.8), followed by Eastern Europe/Central Asia (48.4), while North Africa/Middle East (50.8) was ranked the worst.

Finland was ranked as the country with the highest degree of press freedom, followed by the Netherlands and Norway. The United States was ranked 41st, up from 49th last year, a position that the watchdog attributed to cyber surveillance.

Eritrea ranked as the country with the worst media freedom worldwide, below Syria, China, and North Korea.

Read more: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2016/0420/Is-press-freedom-on-the-decline-Reporters-Without-Borders-says-yes

60,000 fewer Democrats in Brooklyn and no clear reason why.

Source: WNYC

As the birthplace of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Brooklyn figures into nearly every one of his stump speeches. It’s also where former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has based her national campaign headquarters.

Yet, even as the candidates lavish love on Brooklyn, a WNYC analysis of state voter enrollment statistics found that the number of active registered Democrats dropped there by 63,558 voters between November 2015 and April 2016. That translates into a 7% drop in registered Democrats in the borough. No other borough in New York City nor county in the rest of the state saw such a significant decline in active registered Democrats. In fact, only 7 of the state's 62 counties saw a drop in the number of Democrats. Everywhere else saw the numbers increase.

Despite the precipitous decline, no city or state election official could explain to WNYC why the number had dropped in a borough that’s been a hotbed of campaign activity, and has the highest population in the state, raising the perennial concern that there will be chaos at the polls on Tuesday caused in part by the very agency responsible for overseeing voter registration and election administration: the Board of Elections.

Valerie Vazquez-Diaz, a spokeswoman for the city Board of Elections, said a member of the Board’s Management Information System staff said the drop was the result of shifting some voters from active to inactive status. But even though more than 60,000 people were dropped from the list of active registered Democrats in Brooklyn, there was only an increase of roughly 10,000 inactive voters in the county. That means some 50,000 voters are unaccounted for entirely.

For a voter who believes she or he is a registered Democrat or Republican and does not appear in the poll books, New York City Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan said there is another option. “If for some reason there's a processing error and the person's name does not appear on the book, they can vote by affidavit ballot at the poll site,” said Ryan.

Affidavit, or provisional, ballots are paper and are not put through the scanner. But it still gives a person the ability to vote and those votes are counted.

Read more: http://www.wnyc.org/story/democratic-voter-rolls-drop-more-60000-brooklyn-presidential-primary/

For anyone living in New York:

If a voter experiences a problem at their poll site, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office has set up a hotline that will be staffed by attorneys in the office's Civil Rights Bureau. That number is 800-771-7755. Complaints can also be submitted through email at civil.rights@ag.ny.gov at any time between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Tuesday.

Please remember as well that, according to New York City Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan, if your name does not appear on the book, you can vote by affidavit ballot at the poll site.

More than $65 billion in orders for Argentina's first international bond offer in 15 years.

Argentina got an enthusiastic welcome back to the club of borrower nations on Monday, amassing more than $65 billion in orders for its first international bond in 15 years.

An international bond market exile since defaulting on its debt in 2001, the country clearly won over investors with a nearly $15 billion bond offer four times oversubscribed. The surge in demand for the bond, which will price on Tuesday, allowed Argentina to set pricing guidance close to its optimistic funding costs for the ground-breaking deal.

The proceeds will be divided between recent settlements with holdout bondholders ($8.5 billion) and local balance of payments deficit financing needs. Litigant bondholders who rejected the terms of Argentina's 2005-10 debt restructuring and filed suit for a better payoff will have first dibs on the proceeds of the transaction. These holdouts, led by Paul Singer's hedge fund Elliott Management (Cayman Islands) and Aurelius Capital (London), will get about 75% of what they had claimed under the agreement.

The $8 billion payout to holdouts (including $4.65 billion to four vulture funds, led by the two above) was touted by the Mauricio Macri administration as a way to put aside years of messy litigation and re-open the capital taps to help fund his ambitious overhaul of Latin America's third-largest economy.

The success of today's sovereign bond offer - the largest since Mexico's in 1996 - allowed Argentina to tighten pricing significantly across most of the four-tranche bond on the back of the order book.

It set guidance of 7.5%-7.625% on the 10-year tranche - the centerpiece of the offering - from initial price thoughts of 8%. The yield on the 30-year tightened at guidance to 8% from initial thoughts of 8.5% over the 10-year yield. At the short end of the curve, guidance on the three-year was set at 6.25%-6.50% and on the five-year at 6.875%-7.125%.

At: http://buenosairesherald.com/article/212823/more-than-us$65bn-in-orders-for-argentinas-first-international-bond-in-15-years

Brazilian congress votes to impeach president Dilma Rousseff

Source: The Guardian

Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff suffered defeat on Sunday as a hostile and corruption-tainted congress voted to impeach her.

In a rowdy session of the lower house presided over by the president’s nemesis, house speaker Eduardo Cunha, 344 of the 513 deputies backed impeachment – beyond the two-thirds majority (342) needed to advance the impeachment to the upper house..

As the outcome became clear, Jose Guimarães, the leader of the Workers party in the lower house, conceded defeat with more than 80 votes still to be counted. “The fight is now in the courts, the street and the senate,” he said.

Watched by tens of millions at home and in the streets, the vote – which was announced deputy by deputy – saw the conservative opposition comfortably secure its motion to remove the elected head of state less than halfway through her mandate. Just 127 deputies had voted against the move at the time the two-thirds majority was reached.

Once the senate agrees to consider the motion, which is likely within weeks, Rousseff will have to step aside for 180 days and the Workers party government, which has ruled Brazil since 2002, will be at least temporarily replaced by a centre-right administration led by Vice President Michel Temer.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/18/dilma-rousseff-congress-impeach-brazilian-president

A little about the ring leader behind this impeachcoup, Lower House President Eduardo Cunha:

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