Thursday, June 29, 2017

WannaCry Thursday

See: WannaCry Wednesday

Today's world coverage, according to the Globe, draws the same reaction:

"Ransomware Attack Raises Concerns Over Future Assaults" by Mark Scott New York Times  June 28, 2017

(Blog editor lets out a sob)

NEW YORK — The worldwide cyberattack, which began and was most prevalent in Ukraine, has raised concerns that similar attempts will become more widespread as hackers mimic the techniques.

Experts said that the most recent attack was less severe than a similar hacking in May, yet as law enforcement, governments, and companies from the United States to India assessed the damage of the new attack, many cautioned that people should be prepared for such events to become a regular danger as criminals worldwide look to take advantage of vulnerabilities in organizations’ digital infrastructure.

“It’s pretty clear that this attack was inspired by WannaCry,” said Gavin O’Gorman, an intelligence analyst at Symantec, a cybersecurity company. “We’ll likely see more of these types of attacks in the future.”

Like the WannaCry attack last month, computers struck by the virus displayed a message that their data had been encrypted and demanded a ransom — in this case, $300 — to decrypt it.

Experts initially said the malware that began to strike computers on Tuesday was similar to a virus called Petya, first identified last year. But Kaspersky Lab, a cybersecurity firm based in Moscow, later said that it was a type of ransomware that had never been seen before.

They are some sort of Russian spy outfit if you read my pre$$ everyday like I do.

The scope of the attack underlines the power of a cache of National Security Agency hacking tools that were leaked to the public. Hackers made use of the same NSA tools that were used during the WannaCry episode, along with two other methods to promote its spread, according to Symantec.

The use of the word leaked is an interesting tell. Stuff wasn't stolen or hacked, it was leaked. By who, NYT?

The reason the cyberattack was less widespread was not immediately clear, though experts expressed doubt that the world had learned its lesson and prepared properly. So far, the hacking has generated more than $10,000 in ransom payments, a figure that is likely to rise.

That's all? That's about one-fifth of the last reported haul.

Security researchers said the attack originated in Ukraine. While law enforcement officials struggled to determine who was behind the attack, Microsoft said the assailants initially focused on supply-chain software run by M.E.Doc, a Ukrainian company specializing in tax accountancy. In a Facebook post, M.E.Doc denied it was the source of the attack.....


I don't really care what's cooking over at the NYT, but what I do know is one man stood against government trapdoors. Whatever happened to him, anyway?

You know, I've mentioned from time to time how Venezuela has dropped off their radar screen, and now it appears with this?

"Venezuelan manhunt underway for helicopter attacker" by Joshua Goodman Associated Press  June 28, 2017

CARACAS, Venezuela — Oscar Perez is a cop, pilot, action movie star, and dog trainer. He’s now also a fugitive, accused of strafing two key Venezuelan government buildings from a helicopter in a quixotic attempt to set off a revolt against President Nicolas Maduro.

Authorities on Wednesday conducted a nationwide manhunt for Perez a day after the government charged that he stole the police chopper and directed grenades and gunfire against the Supreme Court and Interior Ministry in what Maduro called a ‘‘terrorist attack.’’

No one was injured, and there was no sign of damage at the buildings. But the episode added another layer of intrigue to a 3-month-old political crisis that has left at least 75 people dead and hundreds more jailed or injured in clashes between security forces and protesters seeking Maduro’s removal.

Did Perez act alone? Are other military uprisings in the works? Or was it an elaborate ruse clumsily orchestrated by the government to distract public attention or justify a tougher crackdown on the opposition? 

Since when did the pre$$ ask so many questions?

National Assembly President Julio Borges expressed doubts about Maduro’s version of events but cautioned that he and the rest of the opposition were still analyzing what happened.

‘‘There are people who say it was a government-staged hoax, others who say it was real,’’ he said in a radio interview. ‘‘Whatever it was, it all points in the same direction: that the situation in Venezuela is unsustainable.’’

(Blog editor starts wailing. The over-the-top, jump-the-shark insults have gone too far)

Little is known about Perez.

On his Instagram account, he notes his job as a police investigator and tactical helicopter pilot and says his passion is Venezuela.

In 2015, he starred in a film called ‘‘Suspended Death,” and several photos show him in fatigues, bearing assault rifles, skydiving, and standing in action poses with a German shepherd by his side.

Sometime Tuesday, he posted on his Instagram account a video in which he read a manifesto calling for rebellion. He claimed to speak on behalf of a coalition of renegade members of the security forces.

Eyewitness accounts say the helicopter had hanging from its side a large banner referring to Article 350 of Venezuela’s constitution, which empowers Venezuelans to disobey any regime that violates human rights.

‘‘We have two choices: be judged tomorrow by our conscience and the people or begin today to free ourselves from this corrupt government,’’ Perez said while reading from the manifesto in front of four figures dressed in fatigues and ski masks and carrying assault rifles.

The government accused Perez and others in the helicopter of firing 15 shots at the Interior Ministry as a reception was taking place for 80 people. It then flew a short distance to the court, which was in session, and dropped grenades, two of them against national guardsmen protecting the building.

The helicopter was later found near the coast in Vargas state not far from Caracas, and elite special forces were deployed there to press the hunt, Vice President Tareck El Aissami said.

Photos of the pilot standing in front of the US Capitol in Washington and a US Coast Guard helicopter were shown on state television to bolster the government’s case that he was taking instructions from the CIA and the US Embassy.

They are both the same these days, the station and the embassy.

‘‘The magistrates of the Supreme Court and other judges of the nation are under a terrorist threat, for which we will request the appropriate measures to safeguard our integrity and that of our institutions,’’ the high court said in a statement read by Maikel Moreno, the tribunal’s president.

As the drama was unfolding outside the court, inside magistrates were issuing a number of rulings further blocking the opposition.

One broadened the powers of staunchly progovernment ombudsman Tarek William Saab, allowing him to carry out criminal investigations that are the exclusive prerogative of Maduro’s most powerful critic, chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz.

A defiant Ortega accused Maduro of carrying out ‘‘state terrorism’’ and said she won’t recognize three new rulings she portrayed as a brazen attempt to eliminate her position as the country’s top law enforcement official.

‘‘These rulings are giving the power to investigate human rights abuses to people who possibly are violating those rights,’’ she said in her strongest remarks since breaking with Maduro over a ruling stripping the opposition-controlled legislature of its last powers.

In Washington, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley warned that that the situation in Venezuela is spinning out of control.

Maduro ‘‘is blaming the protesters for trying to overthrow his government when all they want is true democracy,’’ she told a congressional committee.



"Six Are Charged in 1989 Hillsborough Stadium Disaster in England" by Dan Bilefsky New York Times  June 29, 2017

LONDON — Decades after the deadliest stadium disaster in English soccer history, British prosecutors charged six people on Wednesday, including four former senior police officials, in the deaths of 96 people crushed and trampled to death at Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield in 1989.

The catastrophe transformed how the sport is viewed in the country, and the decision is a long-awaited vindication for the families of the victims, including 37 teenagers, who were fatally crushed or trampled.

The victims suffocated at an FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest after police opened a gate in an effort to relieve congestion outside the stadium before the game. That resulted in fans outside flooding in, trampling some and crushing others against steel fencing. After the disaster, some senior law enforcement officials and members of the media, particularly at The Sun, initially pointed fingers at the victims for abetting their own deaths, saying they had been drunk and unruly.

The decades-long struggle to find out what really happened on the day of the match dragged as authorities sought to obfuscate and blame the fans for the disaster. The 1989 Taylor Inquiry blamed a “failure of police control” and found that police had wrongly tried to shift blame onto the fans, but a 1991 coroner’s inquest judged the deaths to be accidental, and no criminal charges were filed. Grieving families waged a lengthy campaign that eventually shifted the prevailing narrative in the case — which has raised issues of class, institutional accountability, and justice — away from the behavior of the fans to the failure of law enforcement.

In 2012, an independent panel concluded that there had been an elaborate police coverup, the government apologized to the victims, and a court overturned the finding that the deaths were accidental. That prompted the new inquest, which began in 2014.

And yet we are to believe authority at every turn now. Wow.

On Wednesday, families expressed relief at the prosecution service’s decision.....

I cried about this yesterday, and those are the people I care about. Their stories are moving.


Meanwhile, "the number of people killed or presumed dead in the London high-rise fire has inched up to 80, but the final death toll may not be known for months, British police said Wednesday....."

Thankfully, no one died in Dorchester:

"Fire guts nearly finished Dorchester building" by Tim Logan, Travis Andersen and John R. Ellement Globe Staff  June 28, 2017

The $45 million apartment building that was gutted by a six-alarm fire in the Ashmont section of Dorchester on Wednesday is precisely the sort of housing that many in Boston’s development community say the city needs more of: mid-rise, mixed-income, near the T.

And built almost entirely out of wood.

The building was nearly finished, with the first 17 residents of affordable apartments set to move in next month. The sprinkler system was installed but not yet active, with inspections planned for later this week. Now Trinity — which said it has insurance on the project – will likely have to start over.


As this sort of wood-frame development has become more popular around the country, concerns have grown about fires during construction, before sprinklers and other safety systems are fully operational.

Dozens of similar buildings have burned down over the last few years, according to data tracked by a concrete industry trade group pushing for more stringent fire-protection rules. They include a huge apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles in late 2014 and a Raleigh, N.C., project that was incinerated in March in one that biggest fires in that city’s history.

In the wake of Grenfell we have been told U.S. fire codes are a standard for the world


The problem isn’t so much the wood as it is human error, said Allan Fraser, senior building code specialist with the Quincy-based National Fire Protection Association. Developers and contractors are pushing to build housing fast, and at the lowest-possible cost. That can lead to mistakes, he said. But in a nearly built building, a small mistake can cause a big fire.

So what are you saying, developers are cutting corners when it comes to poor people's housing?

“If you don’t have the fireproofing, you don’t have the standpipes, you don’t have the sprinklers, you can start a small fire and it doesn’t take long for stuff to go up in flames,” he said.

When asked if builders at Treadmark had followed proper procedures, Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn said the project was “well permitted.”

The blaze, which began at about 2:30 p.m., appears to have started on the top floor, Finn said, but it was too early Wednesday evening to pinpoint a cause. It moved fast through the building, Finn said, and heavy air conditioning units on the roof buckled, making it unstable and forcing fire crews to back off the building.

“Because of the lightweight construction [materials] the building started to collapse,” said Finn, who termed it a “very dangerous building” for firefighters and said more collapses could come Wednesday night.

The intensity of the blaze struck neighbors as they watched from nearby.

“It was like an inferno, when you blow out the candles and the candles light back up,” said Selena Penix, who lives around the corner. “Unbelievable.” 


One construction worker was treated for chest pains, but no one else was hurt.....

Did someone say sabotage or in$urance fraud?


RelatedQuincy firefighters make dramatic rescues at rooming-house blaze

Also seeBravo, Europe! Google needed to be taken down a peg

They still have your credit card number.


"North Korea vows to execute former South Korean president" Associated Press  June 28, 2017

SEOUL — North Korea on Wednesday vowed to execute South Korea’s former president and her spy director, accusing them of planning to assassinate its supreme leadership.

The official Korean Central News Agency said North Korea will impose a ‘‘death penalty’’ on ousted South Korean president Park Geun-hye and former spy chief Lee Byoung Ho, and they could receive a ‘‘miserable dog’s death any time, at any place, and by whatever methods from this moment.’’

Meaning they will be framed like the last time.

It accused Park of pushing forward a secret operation to ‘‘replace the supreme leadership’’ of the North beginning in late 2015 in a plan spearheaded by the South’s National Intelligence Service that included an assassination plot.

It said the plan was automatically scrapped when lawmakers impeached Park last December over a corruption scandal.

North Korea also demanded that South Korea hand over Park and Lee under ‘‘international convention’’ because they committed ‘‘state-sponsored terrorism.’’

An official from the South’s National Intelligence Agency said the allegations were untrue.


Yeah, turns out I was way wrong about her. 

Look, I call them as I see them. I'm a lone man up against a ma$$ive propaganda operation trying to offer independent insights and analysis. I'm not an omnipotent being that knows all.

"Kenya 1st in Africa to use generic of current AIDS drug" Associated Press  June 28, 2017

NAIROBI — Kenya is the first country in Africa to introduce a generic version of the current drug of choice for people living with HIV, officials said Wednesday.

Kenya’s government and the global health initiative Unitaid announced that the East African nation will make the generic version of dolutegravir available for routine use. They said Nigeria and Uganda will introduce the drug later this year.

The move is part of efforts to make such drugs that are widely used in developed countries more accessible to impoverished ones. It can take more than a decade for new drugs to be introduced in lower-income countries, Unitaid said.

The World Health Organization says the region most affected by HIV is sub-Saharan Africa, which has two-thirds of the world’s new HIV infections.

In 2015, more than 25 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were living with HIV, according to WHO.

Kenya’s health ministry says it will give the drug initially to 27,000 people living with HIV who can’t tolerate the current drug of choice used in the country, efavirenz. It will be distributed free of charge as part of the country’s free antiretroviral program in public hospitals, officials said.


No disrespect intended to the countries and peoples above; however, note what is missing from my war pre$$: nothing about Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Philippines, etc, and only a token honor for the vets (although we did hear from the Israeli sector.)

Was something about Russia, though:

"In praise of leverage and back channels in Russia policy" by Christopher Smart   June 28, 2017

We have reached an absurd moment in which even talks about talks with Russia raise suspicion. Anyone who has crossed paths with the prickly Russian ambassador draws suspicious looks. Of course murky meetings between Jared Kushner and a Russian banker need to be explained. Yet, the list of thorny issues that divide Moscow and Washington is getting longer, and political hostilities in both capitals make even limited outreach impossible.

A legitimate back channel can prove invaluable, especially when there is so much political emotion on both sides. The president’s relatives may not be the right choice, but senior officials at the State Department or the National Security Council should be cultivating their Russian counterparts, if only to have someone to call when the next crisis arises. It could be a miscalculation over NATO air patrols near the Baltic states, but it’s more likely to be something we cannot foresee.

If the United States can find a path to lower the risks of a confrontation, it can then resume the devilish task of managing what will always be a difficult relationship. While Russia is not strong enough to advance its own agenda, it is always up to the task of frustrating the US agenda. On global issues like climate change, energy policy, or nuclear proliferation, there are no solutions without Russian participation. And the first steps in that direction require negotiating leverage and quiet communication.



Also seeTrump Interrupts Call to Compliment Female Reporter’s ‘Nice Smile’

A journalist for an Irish news organization caught his eye, and the exchange drew criticism about how Trump treats women.


"The Deep State is still at war with Donald Trump. They’ve gotten most of what they want from him, yet the destabilization campaign lingers on. And now the Russia collusion bullshit is done with (at least for now) they are CLEARLY working on the “unfit for office” attack....

See: Seymour Hersh’s CIA Whitewash Story “Trump’s Red Line” is Pure Mockingbird Propaganda On Par with Buzzfeed

I'm done reading the Globe for today.

UPDATE: Republicans hammer Trump over attack on MSNBC host

Will someone please take his damn phone away?