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While the second Democratic debate didn’t feature any dueling Spanish or major technical difficulties like the first, it proved to be more heated as several candidates directly challenged the field’s frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Rep. Eric Swalwell said Biden should “pass the torch” to the next generation, while Sen. Kamala Harris said she was hurt by Biden’s former position on racial issues in America.

Also Read: Democratic Debate's 5 Breakout Moments: From Mic Issues to Beto and Booker's Dueling Spanish

And yet there were also some moments of levity among the candidates, particularly from the political outsiders: former tech executive Andrew Yang and author/activist Marianne Williamson. Here are five of the biggest breakout moments from the second Democratic debate.

1. Joe Biden needs to “pass the torch,” and Kamala Harris doesn’t want a “food fight”

Rep. Eric Swalwell went on the offensive early Thursday night, saying when he was just six years old, he recalled seeing then-senator Joe Biden speak at the Democratic convention and said that it was important that the politicians in Washington “pass the torch” to the next generation. “Joe Biden was right,” Swalwell said, a comment that earned a big grin and a quick response from the former VP.

“I’m still holding on to that torch,” Biden said in response to Swalwell, explaining how education is the key to the future: aiding schools in distress, tripling Title I funding, having universal pre-K and providing for post-high school education.

At 76, Biden is twice Swalwell’s age. But it was 77-year-old Bernie Sanders who downplayed the generation gap between the candidates. “As part of Joe’s generation let me respond. The issue is not generational. The issue is who has the guts to take on Wall Street? To take on the fossil fuel industry. To take on the big money interests who have unbelievable influence over the economic and political life in this country. “

Also Read: Joe Biden Refuses to Step Aside for Younger Leaders: 'I'm Still Holding On to That Torch'

It was the first instance in which the candidates all began talking over one another, a notable difference from the previous evening’s debate. Kamala Harris rose above the cross-talk with a quick one-liner: “Hey guys, America does not want to witness a food fight, they want to know how we’re going to put food on their table.”

2. Kamala Harris got “personal” about race in America

One of the most intense moments during the debate came between Biden and Harris, in which Harris took Biden to task for recent comments in which he described his success working with segregationist senators.

Also Read: Kamala Harris Gets 'Personal' With Joe Biden as Democrats Spar Over Race

“I do not believe you are a racist,” the senator from California said, directly addressing Biden. “But it was personal, it was hurtful for you to talk about the reputation of two United States senators who built their reputations and careers on segregation of race in this country.”

Harris said she was specifically affected based on his position on integration when it came to bussing students to school, though Biden called Harris’s comments a “mischaracterization” and even took a shot back, saying that he was a public defender and not a prosecutor early in his career as she was.

3. Andrew Yang was very laid back

Andrew Yang already stands out from the rest of the Democratic field as something of a political outsider, a former tech executive rather than a career politician. And many viewers heard for the first time his plan to offer $1000 to every American as part of a “trickle up” approach to the economy. But his economic policies weren’t the only thing that made Yang stand out from the crowd.

Also Read: Bernie Sanders Says 3 People Are Wealthier Than Half of All Americans. Here's Who They Are

“Yang is blazing ground here … no tie,” MSNBC’s Brian Williams said as the candidates stepped onto the debate stage for their photo-ops, in which Yang appeared without a necktie.

He was so laid back in the evening, he even casually noted that Russia must be “laughing their asses off” at their ability to hack America’s electoral process.

4. Marianne Williamson says “love will win”

The Internet meme candidate of the evening was none other than Marianne Williamson. The author/activist didn’t get much screentime during the debate, but she made it count. During her closing remarks, she described her unusual strategy to beating Donald Trump.

Also Read: Trump Calls Democratic Debate's Technical Difficulties 'Truly Unprofessional'

“I’m going to harness love for political purposes,” Williamson said. “I’m going to meet you on that field, and sir, love will win.”

But her finest moment came when the candidates were each asked to give a brief, one- to two-word response about what they would do on Day 1 of their presidency. Williamson, curiously, said she would call the President of New Zealand, who Williamson claimed previously boasted that her country was the best place in the world to raise a child.

“Girlfriend, you are so wrong, because the United States of America is the best place in the world to grow up,” Williamson said.

Also Read: 2019 Democratic Debate: Beto O'Rourke Breaks Out in Spanish, Cory Booker Follows Suit

The Internet had a ball with that answer, imagining what else she might do on her first day in office. See a few of those reactions below:

Is this Marianne Williamson pic.twitter.com/EinFVSDkoT

— chicago trash 2.0 (@kirkeskid) June 28, 2019

Marianne Williamson on day 1 pic.twitter.com/EdUywmNKGl

— Charlotte Alter (@CharlotteAlter) June 28, 2019

Moderator: Marianne Williamson, as President, what would you do on day one in office?

Marianne: Look, you better believe that if you take an elevator while eating a moon pie, there's going to be frosting on the ceiling. I don't doubt it for a minute! What did you expect, honey?

— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) June 28, 2019

Kamala Harris: Joe Biden is a racist.

Joe Biden: Kamala is police.

Marianne Williamson: The fifth Harry Potter book is really the glue that holds the entire series together. Do you recall the part where #DemDebate

— William (@weelyumeebokway) June 28, 2019

MODERATOR: In one or two words, what would your first act as President be?
BERNIE: Special interests
KAMALA: Immigration
MARIANNE WILLIAMSON: I was reading a wonderful article in GOOP about New Zealand,

— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) June 28, 2019

5. There was one technical “fake-out”

The night wasn’t without its mishaps. Though nothing was as disruptive as Wednesday’s microphone issues, in the last half-hour of the debate, moderator Rachel Maddow planned to toss to Lester Holt for an audience question, but the segment wasn’t ready.

“That was just a fake-out,” Maddow joked before quickly pivoting to another debate topic. Holt did however get in one audience question near the very end of the broadcast.

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www.thewrap.com | 6/28/19
Ahead of the 2020 elections, former Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos and his colleagues at Stanford University have unveiled a sweeping new plan to secure U.S. electoral infrastructure and combat foreign campaigns seeking to interfere in U.S. politics. As the Mueller investigation into electoral interference made clear, foreign agents from Russia (and elsewhere) engaged […]
techcrunch.com | 6/6/19

SpaceX may be approaching debris detection as a machine-learning problem in which the entire constellation, not individual satellites, is learning to avoid collisions.

SpaceX delayed last Wednesdays Starlink launch due to high winds and on Thursday they decided to do a software update and postpone the launch until next week, but they revealed significant progress in their Starlink mission press release and in tweets by and a media call with Elon Musk.

Starlink size comparison – novel packaging accommodates 60 satellites in a single launch. (Source)

The mission press release said SpaceX has significantly reduced the size and weight of their satellites. Their initial November 2016 FCC filing specified 386 kg satellites that measured 4 x 1.8 x 1.2 meters. In February 2018, they launched two Internet-service test satellites — TinTin A and B — that measured only 1.1 x .7 x .7 meters with a total mass of approximately 400 kg. The mass of the Starlink satellites will be only 227 kg, about 43% that of the test satellites. (They are still heavier than OneWeb's 147.4 kg test satellites)

As far as I know, SpaceX has not previously commented on the number of satellites that might be launched at once, but the number was generally estimated as 25-30 after considering constraints on mass, volume, and numbers of satellites per orbital plane. As shown here, they will be launching a surprising 60 flat-packed satellites. Launching 60 satellites also demonstrates continued progress in rocket capability — this will be the heaviest SpaceX payload ever.

The speed and density of satellites in
low-earth orbit increase the likelihood
of a cascading debris collision. (Source)The current and planned proliferation of low-earth orbit satellites increases the likelihood of a Kessler Syndrome event — a cascade of collisions between satellites and the ensuing debris. The press release alluded to what may be a significant advance in debris mitigation, stating that:

Each spacecraft is equipped with a Startracker navigation system that allows SpaceX to point the satellites with precision. Importantly, Starlink satellites are capable of tracking on-orbit debris and autonomously avoiding a collision.

That would be a breakthrough if feasible, but on first consideration, it seems impossible. Low-earth orbit satellites move very fast and even if a satellite had the resolution and pattern-recognition capability to "see" debris in its path, it would not be able to maneuver quickly enough to avoid a collision. That point was raised in this online discussion and a possible solution suggested — the entire constellation could dynamically pool and share data from each satellite as well as use NORAD tracking data, which Musk mentioned during the media call.

SpaceX may be approaching this as a machine-learning problem in which the entire constellation, not individual satellites, is learning to avoid collisions using its shared data as well as data from other sources like NORAD. One can imagine sharing such data with competitors like OneWeb and Telesat or even with Russia, China or India. (Elon Musk is known to read science fiction — this speculation is reminiscent of Azimov's Gaia or Teilhard de Chardin's noosphere).

The prospect of launching 60 satellites at once and a shared-data approach to collision avoidance have grabbed my attention, but Musk's tweets and media call were also highly informative — a few examples:

All that and they have yet to launch the satellites — stay tuned.

Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University

www.circleid.com | 5/17/19

The internet started to take on momentum in the 1990s. At that time many analysts, myself included, marveled at the opportunity of creating a platform that would boost grassroot democracy. There was no need for a middleman and there were few barriers to ordinary people becoming involved. This included organizing groups, discussions and events, sharing knowledge, insights and information, publishing opinions — just some of the potential attached to the internet. And for the first two decades, this basically was what happened, in a very positive and constructive way. It did disrupt several business, social and political models but that that was seen as 'a new broom sweeping clean.'

All of that is still happening — and as a matter of fact, it has only increased. However, at the same time, the ugly side of humanity has moved into this area as well. They all jumped on the bandwagon — cheats, plain criminals, misogynists, racists and bullies. This was very unfortunate, but it became serious when more organized misuse of the internet began to take place. This is undermining democracy and democratic processes; many people began to say enough is enough.

Most of the misuse is aimed at generating fake traffic that leads to extra advertising income or click income on YouTube for instance. In proportion to overall internet activity the other, serious political misuse is significantly less. It has, however, far deeper negative consequences. It is using manipulation to set people against each other. It interferes with democratic processes such as elections and undermines democratic institutions.

This criminal internet activity happens more or less in parallel with broader traditional forms of manipulations and is not limited to the internet. The fake news activities and the undermining of democratic institutions are for example carried out by President Trump without the internet. The same is happening in countries such as Britain, Turkey, Hungary, Poland and Italy, to name just a few.

There is no doubt that the internet has become an important tool to create division, hatred and conflict. This has more to do with human behaviour than with technology. Addressing only the technology element of this problem will not solve the much more serious underlying issues.

Division, lies, hatred, fake news, racism and conflict are being used by our leaders in public. It is then not difficult to understand that people perceive this as a license to do the same, with or without technology.

It is important to state that it is not the internet that is causing all of this. So far the internet has created far more positive than negative outcomes, and we need to preserve what's best about it. Most importantly, this includes the freedom for people to express themselves. Equally important is that entrepreneurs can innovate and build new business models. At the same time, we need to ensure that we protect society from broader harm.

We can look at what we have done with other tools that we use — tools like guns, cars, chemicals and drugs. All these products and services can have negatives associated with them. What we have done over the years to address this is to build elements into these products and services to limit the risk and increase safety.

This has been done through the hard work of everyone involved: the government and industry, as well as the users/consumers. As an example, look at cars in the 1970s. They killed 3 to 4 times more people than they do now, and our population has nearly doubled over that period. How did this change happen? Partly through regulation, partly through better products, and partly through human behaviour.

Have we, as a result, eliminated all the harmful elements of motor cars? No, of course not. But the risks have been reduced considerably over those years. This to such a level that the negative (e.g., death by car accidents) seems to be acceptable to most of us. Is that enough? No, it isn't. And so we are still trying to improve, through the combined efforts of government, industry and us, the people.

We will also have to begin to develop similar processes in relation to the internet. However, before we know what we need to do, we will first have to drill down to where the problems are and work out who can do what in addressing the issues.

Starting with the government, Mark Zuckerberg mentioned the need for a more active role for governments and regulators. He suggested the need for an update of the rules for the internet. In particularly in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.

In relation to the industry, he recommends starting with data manipulation aimed at defrauding the internet companies. Here the social media companies have a vested interest in tackling that problem themselves as fraud cost them money. The tools that they develop to minimize this can also be used to address other data manipulation issues — for example, interferences in elections and fake news. As Zuckerburg indicated, the government will also have to play a key role in setting up the rules for this. This will also need to be done at international levels.

It will remain a cat and mouse situation. New — more sophisticated — technologies to combat this will be developed, and they will be circumvented by criminals, and this process will continue. In the end, criminal interferences will be greatly reduced. The reason being that it simply becomes too costly for many of the groups to come up with their own tools to crack the ones developed by industry. The best hope here is for a managed situation, similar to those that have been created to manage other potentially dangerous tools, as in the motor car example.

A challenging issue here is the fact that what is harmful to one society, culture or religion is not necessarily the same for another group. A real threat — or even perhaps a reality — is that this would lead to a further regionalization of the internet. Countries such as China, Iran and North Korea have already created their own walls around the internet, and Russia is also trying to build its wall.

Another issue in relation to the industry is whether some of these companies are becoming too dominant and are showing monopolistic tendencies. A very human reaction to this is that we don't tolerate monopolies. We, therefore, need to start looking at industry legislation, be it anti-trust remedies, breaking up companies or other solutions.

Lastly, we also need to drill down on the people's side. We need to identify and address what causes the problematic behaviour of those misusing the internet before we can address these issues. Education and information at schools and elsewhere will be important. They will deliver longer-term positive outcomes.

Full-blown criminal behavior, racism, hate speech and the like are already punishable under existing laws. Our enforcement agencies, however, are still not well-equipped to address Internet-based crimes as effectively as they address similar crimes conducted in more traditional ways.

I am sometimes alerted by people who read my analyses to information or activities that are of an illegal or criminal nature. I report them to the appropriate authorities, but I have never received an answer from them. And if one goes to a police station to report internet abuse that will still too often elicit a blank look from the officer at the desk.

In order to get the people on board here, they need to be supported by well-functioning institutions. They should be able to take effective action against individuals that are crossing the line online. At the moment there is a feeling among the public that they are losing control over some of the central mechanisms of their lives. In the case of the internet, the lives of most people have been improved, and it has created lots of new economic activity. At the same time, it is also clear that the negatives of technology are such that people are not comfortable with the risks and safety issues. Comparing this with the example of motor cars, it is obvious that more work is needed. And whether we like it or not, people want action now.

So far this is resulting in some countries introducing broad and vague sweeping laws. Laws which are not implemented effectively, because it is impossible to do so while they are still being written. We clearly need to improve on that.

This will become increasingly apparent as time goes on. My colleagues in America say that the problems with the hastily introduced social media legislation will soon become evident in Australia. Other countries will learn from these mistakes and will adopt more realistic legislation to safeguard innovation, economic growth and freedom of speech. These core democratic elements seem to become the casualties of bad legislation. With a lack of effective self-regulation from the digital media giants, there is however no doubt that major changes to these negative elements in the use of the of the Internet will increasingly be regulated and legislated.

Written by Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

www.circleid.com | 4/24/19
NetDragon, a global leader in building internet communities, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on digital education with the leading Russian B2B-platform for cross-border e-commerce, Global Rus Trade, at the BRICS Business Council Midterm Meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa. Held from April 3 – 4, the conference gathers representatives from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and [&hellip

Inter-satellite laser links (source)I hope each of these companies has someone in charge of thinking about what might go wrong with a single, satellite-based network providing fast, low-cost links anywhere on the global Internet.

OneWeb, SpaceX, Telesat and Leosat all aspire to be global Internet service providers using constellations of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. Their success will require still-unproven technological innovation, but there are also political stumbling blocks.

OneWeb has already encountered significant political problems in Russia. Russia launched OneWeb's first test satellites and has a billion dollar contract for 20 additional launches, but Russian security officials are lobbying against OneWeb's offering service (see posts from Dec 27 & Oct 27, 2018) on the grounds that it might facilitate spying. When Anatoly Zak, an expert on the Soviet space program, investigated that claim, he concluded that "With the launch of the OneWeb constellation, the Russian rocket industry stands to earn millions, but the Kremlin is terrified at the prospect of unhindered access to the Internet by its citizens."

As far as I know, OneWeb is still planning to offer service in Russia, but they have had to make financial and technical concessions. They agreed to become a minority partner in the company that will market their service in Russia and, significantly, they agreed to drop the inter-satellite laser links (ISLLs) from their constellation and pass all Russian traffic through ground stations in Russia.

Dropping ISLLs, which are still unproven for this application, will simplify the design of their satellites and save development time and cost. It will also reduce satellite complexity, size, and weight and save power, but there will be costs.

OneWeb throughput simulation (source)They will need more ground stations if they offer global service without ISSLLs. OneWeb founder Greg Wyler says they will have more than 40 such gateways, each capable of "seeing" satellites up to 4,000 kilometers away. A team of MIT researchers ran a simulation of a 720-satellite OnWeb constellation and they estimate that 71 ground stations would be required to reach maximum throughput. (Anatoly Zak estimates that four to six gateways will be in Russia and speculates that hackers may be able to illegally connect to satellites in neighboring countries). Dropping ISLLs will also add latency, especially on long-distance links.

What about the other would-be global LEO projects?

Telesat will retain ISSLs, but accommodate countries on a country-by-country basis. Erwin Hudson, vice president of Telesat LEO, says we "have the flexibility in our network control system to route traffic all kinds of different ways. There are no rules that traffic has to go over the inter-satellite links."

SpaceX is going forward with ISSLs, and they are also aware of the political problems. During a recruiting talk at the opening of their Seattle satellite-design office four years ago, CEO Elon Musk said "I'm hopeful that we can structure agreements with various countries to allow communication but it is a country-by-country basis ... it's not gonna take longer than five years to do that and not all countries will agree at first ... that's fine."

Leosat is also prepared to build gateways to make accommodations. For example, CEO Mark Rigolle says they would be willing to build a gateway in China to accommodate the government; however, that would be inconsistent with their primary marketing focus of providing low-latency, secure, point-to-point links globally.

These companies are all thinking about concessions they need to make in order to operate in countries that want to surveil citizens and control their access to information, but what about guarding against aggression? I hope each of these companies has someone in charge of thinking about what might go wrong with a single, satellite-based network providing fast, low-cost links anywhere on the global Internet.

During the recruiting talk mentioned above, Elon Musk said "[the constellation design] is a really difficult technical problem to solve so that's why we need the smartest engineering talent around the world to solve the problem and, you know, to also make sure we don't create Skynet." At that time, I asked "Would global Internet service providers require unique regulation and, if so, what should it be and who has the power to do it?" and said I was "less worried about Musk creating SkyNet than creating Comcast on Steroids," but I was naive.

Follow these links for background on the four projects: SpaceX, OneWeb, Telesat and Leosat.

Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University

www.circleid.com | 4/4/19

This agreement telegraphs a change in Cuban policy — now we need the cable.

Google and ETECSA have signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to negotiate a peering agreement that would allow cost-free data exchange between their networks once an undersea cable physically connects them.

Google has worked hard to establish a relationship with ETECSA and the Cuban government. In recent years, Cuba, not the US, has limited the Cuban Internet. This agreement telegraphs a change in Cuban policy.

Today, nearly all of Cuba's Internet traffic is carried over an undersea cable at the south end of the island. A cable from the Havana area to Florida would reduce the load on their inter-city "backbone" network that today carries Internet traffic to the cable landing in the south. That would result in a faster Internet and save ETECSA money. The next generation of low-earth and medium-earth orbit satellite connectivity can have a similar effect.

ETECSA could use the savings from an undersea cable or next-generation satellites to cut prices, increase investment in infrastructure or increase profit. That would depend upon who is actually calling the shots at ETECSA.

Over three years ago, Daniel Sepulveda, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, said he knew of at least a half dozen proposals — from US and non-US companies — to construct a north-south undersea cable between the US and Cuba.

The cable has been stopped by politics, not economics or technical difficulty. It looks like Cuba is willing to relent on the politics. Trump's fighting this cable would solidify Cuba's political and commercial ties with China and Russia.

Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University

www.circleid.com | 3/28/19

Greg Wyler, Founder and Executive Chairman, OneWebOneWeb is building a large constellation of low-Earth orbit (LEO) Internet-service satellites and Via Satellite has published the "definitive 2018" interview of OneWeb CEO Greg Wyler. The following are some of the quotes that caught my eye:

  • The system has been designed. The satellites have been tested. They are going through the final stages of testing now before the launches begin. The satellites have actually performed better than expected in many ways, especially with their Radio Frequency (RF) performance which is really positive.
  • I think we will have customers up and running in 2020.
  • Whether [our satellites] are $500 thousand (the estimate in 2015) or $1 million is virtually irrelevant because what they are not is $50 million, and that is where it started.
  • The initial customers will be in the mobility and emergency services markets (paraphrase).
  • Aviation is a big [market] for us.
  • Why not let Sprint, DT, roam onto the plane? You can give the customers 4G/5G on the same devices they are used to using in their car, at the gate, or in other places.
  • The plane itself can become a Local-Area Network (LAN) party! I have been in aviation my whole life so this is always something I have been interested in.
  • OneWeb with its first constellation will be able to make a big impact on health centers and schools.
  • I would like to keep [the number of satellites up in five years time] below 1,500.

The tone of the interview was positive, but the early emphasis on emergency and mobile services (where they will have competition from other, relatively focused LEO satellite companies like Telesat and Leosat) makes me wonder whether their goal of eliminating the digital divide by 2027 might be slipping.

If I could have asked one question, it would have been about the objection to OneWeb that has been raised by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). If the FSB succeeds in stopping OneWeb in Russia, they will lose access to a potential market. Furthermore, it would jeopardize their contract for 21 launches with the Soviet space agency Roscosmos and perhaps cost and delay the project.

This has been a quick summary of a long interview — you should check out the full interview.

Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University

www.circleid.com | 11/16/18

So let me get this straight.

The wide-eyed billionaires who run Facebook previously claimed they were simply unaware of how their platform was being used by bad people to sway the U.S. presidential election, foment hate and division and contribute to ethnic cleansing abroad.

That’s what they said. But as it turns out, they were delaying. They were denying. They were — what’s the word for it? Oh yes: dishonest.

Also Read: Mark Zuckerberg 'Didn't Know' Facebook Worked With Opposition Research Firm

And they were watching their stock price — no doubt, very very carefully.

The New York Times’ five-byline, 4,000-word investigation, published on Wednesday, brings hard facts and reporting to the charade we’ve been watching for years.

“As evidence accumulated that Facebook’s power could also be exploited to disrupt elections, broadcast viral propaganda and inspire deadly campaigns of hate around the globe, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg stumbled,” the investigation concludes, referring to founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg.

“Bent on growth, the pair ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them from public view,” the Times wrote. “At critical moments over the last three years, they were distracted by personal projects, and passed off security and policy decisions to subordinates, according to current and former executives.”

Also Read: Facebook Drops Conservative Consulting Firm That Targeted Critics and Competitors

I’ve been ringing the bell about Facebook for some time, after watching in horrified silence as the platform — which once promised to create a business model to promote and support the creators of news content — turned out to be dishonest about that, too. No financial support was ever forthcoming for those who reported the news and partnered with Facebook to share it. It turned out to be the other way around — publishers have to pay Facebook to access their own subscribers — surprise!

Too bad for newsrooms being decimated quarter by quarter.

Also Read: The Confused Ethics of Mark Zuckerberg - Let's Definitely Not Judge Those Holocaust Deniers

All this rotten fruit falls from the same poisoned tree.

I always thought — and have written — that manchild-CEO Mark Zuckerberg was tone deaf about the serious responsibilities that come with creating and maintaining a platform used as a tool of mass communication among hundreds of millions of people. This summer I pointed out that his lack of a humanities education as a Harvard drop-out was a real problem. In his heart, it seems, he does not accept that his platform gives him massive responsibility. The lip service he has paid publicly was not convincing before Congress, or in interviews like the one this summer with Kara Swisher in which he defended Holocaust deniers’ right to share their lies on Facebook.

So why should we trust this latest remark? “To suggest that we weren’t interested in knowing the truth, or that we were trying to hide what we knew, or that we tried to prevent investigations is simply untrue,” he stated today on a press call about Facebook’s latest content standards.

It is also disappointing to learn that Sandberg — beloved for her empathic air, her intellectual polish, her advocacy of women’s leadership — bought into this system.

Also Read: Mark Zuckerberg Is Russia, Trump and Cambridge Analytica's Useful Idiot

According to the investigation, instead of digging into the alarming revelations of Russian meddling and fake news on the platform in 2016, she chewed out Facebook’s head of security Alex Stamos for embarrassing her in front of the board.

I am particularly offended that we learned in the article that Facebook  — shame! — lobbied “a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic,” and hired hired conservative opposition research experts to launch a counter-information campaign. Definers, the conservative group that reportedly wrote stories slamming Facebook critics, encouraged journalists to look into George Soros’s funding of those groups.

Facebook responded in a blog post: “Definers did encourage members of the press to look into the funding of ‘Freedom from Facebook,’ an anti-Facebook organization. The intention was to demonstrate that it was not simply a spontaneous grassroots campaign, as it claimed, but supported by a well-known critic of our company. To suggest that this was an anti-Semitic attack is reprehensible and untrue.”

But overall, it turns out that Facebook was more worried about appearances and stock price than fixing how the platform was being misused to undermine democracy. It seemed more worried about appearing pro-Democrat than about whether Russia had burrowed its way into our country: “If Facebook implicated Russia further, [advisor Joel] Kaplan said, Republicans would accuse the company of siding with Democrats.”

I called a Facebook spokesman who said he was offended that I said his company’s behavior and statements suggest a betrayal of public trust.

“You’re conflating things in an unhealthy and unproductive way,” Tom Reynolds, of the company’s policy and communications team, told me. “These are important issues. It’s important to be precise.”

“During the spring and summer of 2016, we found Russian hacking activity, we alerted the government, and campaign committees,” he said. “When we learned things, we tried to disclose it as much as possible. Where we can, we share as much information as we can.”

He pointed to tweets by Facebook security chief Alex Stamos spreading the blame for 2016 around to news outlets who reported on the hacked emails.

I asked: Do you think Facebook has a trust problem?

“That’s for other people to decide on,” he said. “We are working around the clock to do a better job when it comes to content moderation, reducing hate speech, reducing bullying . Reduce the bad, amplify the good.”

An admirable goal, to be sure.

www.thewrap.com | 11/15/18

President Trump picked an interesting time to go after Facebook, blasting the social network and other “biased” major tech companies on Thursday morning.

“Check out how biased Facebook, Google and Twitter are in favor of the Democrats,” Trump wrote … on Twitter.

“That’s the real Collusion!” The comment followed Trump’s skewering “highly conflicted” special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into improper Russian connections, saying the probe was being led by Mueller’s “gang of Democrat thugs.”

The only “Collusion” is that of the Democrats with Russia and many others. Why didn’t the FBI take the Server from the DNC? They still don’t have it. Check out how biased Facebook, Google and Twitter are in favor of the Democrats. That’s the real Collusion!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2018

Also Read: 'Infuriated' Mark Zuckerberg Told Facebook Staff to Use Android After Apple CEO's Diss (Report)

Trump’s Facebook barb comes a day after The New York Times reported the company used Definers, a Republican political consulting firm, to attack its critics and competitors. Definers tied Facebook protestors to financier George Soros, a longtime target of conservatives and anti-Semites for his financial contributions to left-wing causes, according to the Times.

On behalf of Facebook, Definers also posted several disparaging articles about Google and Apple on NTK Network, an outlet that’s routinely picked up by conservative sites like Breitbart. Facebook terminated its relationship with Definers on Thursday without giving a reason.

This wasn’t the first time President Trump has taken on Silicon Valley. Trump criticized Facebook and Twitter in August over their removal of Alex Jones. The online conspiracy theorist had been permanently suspended by Facebook and Google-owned YouTube that same month; Twitter later banned Jones in September for violating its “abusive behavior” policy.

Also Read: Facebook Watch Partners With Fremantle to Send Game Show 'Confetti' Global

“I won’t mention names but when they take certain people off of Twitter or Facebook and they’re making that decision, that is really a dangerous thing because that could be you tomorrow,” Trump told Reuters.

The president also tweeted last September Facebook is “always Anti-Trump.”

Despite his criticism, Trump has remained a prominent advertiser on Facebook. He was the platform’s biggest spender on political ads, a New York University study found in July.

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www.thewrap.com | 11/15/18

Much of Google's traffic yesterday appeared to be re-routed through Russia and dropped at China Telecom. The issue raises serious concerns as a possible traffic hijacking incident but later linked to a network misconfiguration by a firm in Nigeria. Reuters reports: "Nigeria's Main One Cable Co took responsibility on Tuesday for a glitch that temporarily caused some Google global traffic to be misrouted through China, saying it accidentally caused the problem during a network upgrade. ... Main One said in an email that it had caused a 74-minute glitch by misconfiguring a border gateway protocol filter used to route traffic across the internet. That resulted in some Google traffic being sent through Main One partner China Telecom, the West African firm said."

"This incident further underscores one of the fundamental weaknesses in the fabric of the Internet," says ThousandEyes' Ameet Naik. ThousandEyes, a network monitoring firm, was one of the first companies to raise the alarm on Tuesday after noticing traffic to Google was getting dropped at China Telecom. Naik writes: "BGP was designed to be a chain of trust between well-meaning ISPs and universities that blindly believe the information they receive. It hasn't evolved to reflect the complex commercial and geopolitical relationships that exist between ISPs and nations today. ... Even corporations like Google with massive resources at their disposal are not immune from this sort of BGP leak or malicious hijacks. MainOne took 74 minutes to either notice or be notified of the issue and fix it, and it took about three-quarters of an hour more for services to come back up. Most enterprises who don't have Google's reach and resources may not be able to resolve the issue as quickly, which can significantly impact business."

www.circleid.com | 11/13/18

Two months ago, the Trump White House published its National Cyber Strategy. It was followed a few days ago with the release of its draft NSTAC Cybersecurity "moonshot."

The Strategy document was basically a highly nationalistic America-First exhortation that ironically bore a resemblance to China's more global two-year-old National Cybersecurity Strategy.

However, the Moonshot draft comes across as a Public Relations gambit meant to underpin the Strategy pronouncement by borrowing on the Von Braun project pitched to President Kennedy and implemented in the 1960s as the Apollo program. Apart from the rather ludicrous comparison, the draft itself serves up little more than another cybersecurity word salad found around Washington with six "strategic pillars" sprinkled on top. We are told that these pillars achieve "a more enduringly safe and secure Internet within the next 10 years [that] will require a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach." A "word salad" rendition of the draft is attached as an image.

These kinds of documents have appeared everywhere around the world over the past decade. Perhaps not unexpectedly, they all tend to have the same salad ingredients: Technology, Human Behavior, Education, Ecosystem, Privacy, and Policy. NATO has an extensive library of them.

And, almost every regional and global organization and intergovernmental body today have their own versions. The EU has several, and nearly two hundred Nation States at the ITU Plenipotentiary at the moment, are redrafting a bundle of them.

There is not much new in the NSTAC draft except the Moonshot packaging plus potentially creating a few new mini-government bureaucracies among existing government agencies to oversee the effort and lobby for additional funding. The last point — funding — figures prominently into the recommendations even as the document plainly offers nothing substantively new.

The report places considerable faith in "U.S. Government leadership" when the historical record in creating joint efforts like SEMANTECH and MCC have been problematic at best in sectors far less abstruse. Furthermore, as opposed to the UK's NCSC, the aversion within the U.S. to supporting its most valuable expert Information Assurance assets at NSA, creates an enduring institutional dysfunction. Additionally, scores of other national government agencies and thousands of companies and institutes scattered globally are pursuing similar well-funded initiatives that are largely unknown within the U.S. government, and with no ability to discover them and bring about convergence and harmonization.

What is most unfortunate is the model itself — which suggests there is some kind of achievable endpoint of cybersecurity. The complexities and dynamics of contemporary electronic components, code, and networks — coupled with business economics, adversarial incentives, legal constraints, and human foibles — result in an ecosystem where risk management and cyber-hygiene are the necessary courses of action.

On the positive side, the draft recommendations do harken back to a period when NSTAC hosted its own R&D;expert community and regular R&D;workshops. There are, however, several faux pax. While the draft repeatedly mentions that 5G is extremely important and that it will replace existing internets, it somewhat embarrassingly in the Glossary does not know where 5G work is done (i.e., 3GPP and NFV ISG) and that it is already being rolled out. The lack of engagement by U.S. government agencies in existing 5G industry technical developments has long been endemic.

More significantly, the report continues to push the politically motivated "open internet" when NSTAC was warned two decades ago by the DARPA Director who approved the TCP/IP platform development — that the "open internet" notion was flawed and meaningful cybersecurity is fundamentally impossible with open internets. Indeed, the dangers of open internets have come vividly home to roost over the past year courtesy of Russia's FSB and GRU.

Fortunately, the legacy DARPA internets are rapidly transitioning to a world of virtually instantiated network slices under a 5G aegis. While considerable attention is being devoted to 3GPP and related venues to security, it is unclear whether unknown and unforeseen vulnerabilities and attacks will not emerge.

Written by Anthony Rutkowski, Principal, Netmagic Associates LLC

www.circleid.com | 11/8/18

Facebook said on Friday that the release of thousands of private user messages wasn’t the result of a hack of its security system, but rather due to “malicious browser extensions.”

According to a BBC report Friday, hackers were offering to sell private messages for 10 cents apiece. The hackers said they had access to 120 million accounts, but cybersecurity firm Digital Shadows, working for the BBC, was only able to confirm 81,000 profiles had been breached.

“Based on our investigation so far, we believe this information was obtained through malicious browser extensions installed off of Facebook,” Guy Rosen, vice president of Product Management, said in a statement to TheWrap. “We have contacted browser makers to ensure that known malicious extensions are no longer available to download in their stores and to share information that could help identify additional extensions that may be related.”

Also Read: Facebook Bans Right-Wing Group the Proud Boys and Founder Gavin McInnes

A Facebook rep did not name specific malicious browser extensions when asked by TheWrap, saying the company’s internal investigation was still ongoing. Browser extensions can allow hackers to view whatever a user is seeing on their screen. In other words, Facebook is saying the private messages were lifted by hackers viewing someone’s screen, rather than a direct breach of its security system.

The rep added that most of the accounts impacted were from central and eastern Europe and that Facebook has a page dedicated to helping users remove malicious extensions.

The BBC contacted five users who confirmed the hacked private messages were theirs. All five users were from Russia. One of the private messages included vacation pictures, while another discussed a Depeche Mode concert, and a third included an “intimate correspondence between two lovers,” according to the BBC.

“We encourage people to check the browser extensions they’ve installed and remove any that they don’t fully trust,” Rosen said, adding that Facebook has contacted law enforcement and “local authorities” to remove the website displaying the private messages. “As we continue to investigate, we will take action to secure people’s accounts as appropriate.”

Also Read: Facebook Hits 1 Billion Daily Stories Users, Mark Zuckerberg Warns Revenue Growth Could Slow

Facebook last month announced up to 30 million profiles were vulnerable to a breach of its security system.

The 30 million users that were hit fell into three separate groups. There were 15 million users who had their name and contact info — either their phone number, email, or both, for some users — grabbed by the attackers. Another 14 million had their names and contact info lifted, as well as their “username, gender, locale/language, relationship status, religion, hometown, self-reported current city, birthdate, device types used to access Facebook, education, work, the last 10 places they checked into or were tagged in, website, people or Pages they follow” and their “15 most recent searches,” according to Rosen. The remaining 1 million vulnerable users did not have their information compromised by the attack.

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www.thewrap.com | 11/2/18

This case illustrates the fact that political, security, and financial negotiations may be as difficult as designing satellites and rockets for a would-be global Internet service provider.

OneWeb is investing billions of dollars in a constellation of low-Earth orbit (LEO) Internet-service satellites.

In 2015 they placed launch orders for 21 Russian-made Soyuz rockets.

In 2017, they formed a joint venture with Russian LEO satellite operator Gonets to develop the project in Russia. At that time, Gonets was a subsidiary of Roscosmos, the Russian State Corporation overseeing and implementing the Russian space industry. OneWeb had a 60% interest in the joint venture.

This week Reuters reported that OneWeb is relinquishing its majority stake in the venture — Gonets intends to increase its stake to 51 percent.

I wonder why.

Speaking at a conference in Moscow, Federal Security Service (FSB) official Vladimir Sadovnikov objected to the project for security reasons. He feared that "Some of Russia's regions would become totally dependent on a foreign satellite service" and added that Moscow had not received any conclusive evidence that OneWeb's satellites would not be used for intelligence gathering.

(He also revealed his ignorance by apparently not understanding the difference between Iridium and OneWeb).

I wonder if the security concern is genuine — OneWeb has decided to forgo inter-satellite links in favor of routing all traffic through a system of 40 terrestrial gateways, allowing a nation to know the path of traffic into and out of their territory. Are they concerned about the possible detection of sources of trolling and hacking?

Sadovnikov added a political dimension saying Russia favored setting up a similar network partnering with India, China and countries which he described as non-aggressive and China has pitched a 1,000 LEO satellite project to Russia.

An unnamed source at the FSB also mentioned politics, saying "OneWeb is an important project for Roscosmos and Russia's space industry, but national security issues come first. There are many doubts regarding that project, especially because of the sanctions against us."

Frequency is another stumbling block. OneWeb's request to receive a frequency band in Russia was refused and a source at the Ministry for Digital Development and Communications said they would be given permission after legal issues regarding the joint venture were completed. Given Russia's reputation, one can't help wondering whether the hangup has something to do with payoffs.

Another possibility is convoluted economic infighting within Russia. Gonets' Wikipedia page says it began as a Russian Federal Space Agency program, but in 1996 it was privatized and operated by Gonets SatCom, which was controlled by ISS Reshetnev. In 2017 Roscosmos acquired 80% of Gonets from ISS Reshetnev. Wikipedia is not a definitive source and I know nothing of the history of these organizations, but this sounds like it could be the kind of oligarchy-creation manipulation that occurs when state property is privatized. (The ownership of Cuban ISP Etecsa raises similar questions).

Perhaps there were management problems. Initially, launches of production satellites were planned to begin last May, then the date slipped to first quarter 2018. The current schedule calls for the launch of test satellites on February 7, 2019.

Regardless of the motivation for restructuring the OneWeb/Gonets venture, there is a mismatch in the aspirations of a global ISP and nationalistic governments. This case illustrates the fact that political, security and financial negotiations may be as difficult as designing satellites and rockets for a would-be global ISP.

For background on OneWeb and other low-Earth orbit satellite Internet service projects, click here.

Gonets home page, 8/10/2018. It was removed earlier this week.
The Russian home page has also been removed. Last archived copy 4/10/18.

Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University

www.circleid.com | 10/27/18
On October 25, a court in Nizhny Novgorod will hear the case of Anatoly Moskvin. This man is known in Russia as the "doll master" - he is accused of making life-size dolls out of dead girls' bodies. Several years ago, the police found in his apartment 26 "dolls" made of mummified corpses of little girls. Moskvin, a local historian, an academic, a necropolist, a specialist on burials, remains under coercive treatment, but he is likely to be released. In September, doctors of the psychiatric hospital, where Moskvin is kept, initiated a procedure to switch him to outpatient treatment. According to them, the patient remains in a state of stable remission. An additional medical examination of the patient is to be conducted to see if Anatoly Moskvin is undangerous  for the society. Anatoly Moskvin was put on coercive treatment in 2012 after a psychiatric examination showed that the man was suffering from a mental disorder in the form of paranoid schizophrenia. In other words, psychiatrists concluded that the man could be unaware of the actual nature and social danger of his actions.His elderly parents, his lawyer and even a girlfriend have been visiting Moskvin at hospital for several years now. The girlfriend appeared after Moskvin was put under compulsory medical treatment. The woman learned about his story from the Internet, developed great interest in the man and came to Nizhny Novgorod from the Moscow region. The story of Anatoly Moskvin shocked all of Russia in 2011. In his apartment, police officers found 26 dolls made of the remains of deceased girls. Moskvin had been exhuming children's graves at various graveyards before mummifying them with a special solution of salt and soda.The man kept his dead dolls in his room. He would dress them in girls' clothes and put them on his couch where he would sit to talk to them. Sometimes, he would model certain situations, for example, tea-drinking, for his dolls: there was a set of toy cups and dishes on a table nearby. Inside the mummies, the man would place mechanisms from music boxes or music toys so that his dolls could produce sounds when he would touch them. Forensic experts found personal belongings and clothing inside some of the mummies. There was a piece of a gravestone with a girl's name inside one of the bodies. Another one contained a hospital tag stating the date and the cause of the girl's death. A dried human heart was found inside a third. Moskvin would stuff the decayed corpses with rags, wrap nylon tights around them, or attach toy heads to them. He would also insert buttons or toy eyes into the girls' eye sockets so that they could watch cartoons with him. During interrogations, the patient said that he loved his girls and cared for them as if they were alive. There were also a few dolls which he disliked and kept them in a garage. Moskvin said during interrogation that he would exhume the girls' bodies out of loneliness. The man was single and his biggest dream was to have children. Child protection services did not allow the man to adopt a child due to his low wages of a university teacher. The man came in sight of law-enforcement agencies soon after the terrorist attack at Moscow's Domodedovo airport. Moskvin went to a cemetery where he started painting over pictures of deceased Muslims without damaging anything else. The man was caught and accused of vandalism. The dolls were found when eight police officers came to search his apartment. It is hard to tell what Moskvin felt and thought after his secret life came into the public eye and attracted a lot of attention. However, the life of his elderly parents turned into hell. Everyone in the city stopped talking to them. Unidentified individuals would smash the windows in their apartment and write profanity and insults on the walls of their apartment building. After a series of interrogations and all the ensuing humiliation, Anatoly Moskvin's mother offered her husband to poison themselves with gas and die. However, the man refused to do it as such an act could cause an explosion. Anatoly Moskvin's father suffered a heart attack, while his mother developed diabetes. Update: The court decided not to release Anatoly Moskvin from hospital where he undergoes compulsory treatment. He will stay there till the next court hearing.
On October 25, a court in Nizhny Novgorod will hear the case of Anatoly Moskvin. This man is known in Russia as the "doll master" - he is accused of making life-size dolls out of dead girls' bodies. Several years ago, the police found in his apartment 26 "dolls" made of mummified corpses of little girls. Moskvin, a local historian, an academic, a necropolist, a specialist on burials, remains under coercive treatment, but he is likely to be released. In September, doctors of the psychiatric hospital, where Moskvin is kept, initiated a procedure to switch him to outpatient treatment. According to them, the patient remains in a state of stable remission. An additional medical examination of the patient is to be conducted to see if Anatoly Moskvin is undangerous  for the society. Anatoly Moskvin was put on coercive treatment in 2012 after a psychiatric examination showed that the man was suffering from a mental disorder in the form of paranoid schizophrenia. In other words, psychiatrists concluded that the man could be unaware of the actual nature and social danger of his actions.His elderly parents, his lawyer and even a girlfriend have been visiting Moskvin at hospital for several years now. The girlfriend appeared after Moskvin was put under compulsory medical treatment. The woman learned about his story from the Internet, developed great interest in the man and came to Nizhny Novgorod from the Moscow region. The story of Anatoly Moskvin shocked all of Russia in 2011. In his apartment, police officers found 26 dolls made of the remains of deceased girls. Moskvin had been exhuming children's graves at various graveyards before mummifying them with a special solution of salt and soda.The man kept his dead dolls in his room. He would dress them in girls' clothes and put them on his couch where he would sit to talk to them. Sometimes, he would model certain situations, for example, tea-drinking, for his dolls: there was a set of toy cups and dishes on a table nearby. Inside the mummies, the man would place mechanisms from music boxes or music toys so that his dolls could produce sounds when he would touch them. Forensic experts found personal belongings and clothing inside some of the mummies. There was a piece of a gravestone with a girl's name inside one of the bodies. Another one contained a hospital tag stating the date and the cause of the girl's death. A dried human heart was found inside a third. Moskvin would stuff the decayed corpses with rags, wrap nylon tights around them, or attach toy heads to them. He would also insert buttons or toy eyes into the girls' eye sockets so that they could watch cartoons with him. During interrogations, the patient said that he loved his girls and cared for them as if they were alive. There were also a few dolls which he disliked and kept them in a garage. Moskvin said during interrogation that he would exhume the girls' bodies out of loneliness. The man was single and his biggest dream was to have children. Child protection services did not allow the man to adopt a child due to his low wages of a university teacher. The man came in sight of law-enforcement agencies soon after the terrorist attack at Moscow's Domodedovo airport. Moskvin went to a cemetery where he started painting over pictures of deceased Muslims without damaging anything else. The man was caught and accused of vandalism. The dolls were found when eight police officers came to search his apartment. It is hard to tell what Moskvin felt and thought after his secret life came into the public eye and attracted a lot of attention. However, the life of his elderly parents turned into hell. Everyone in the city stopped talking to them. Unidentified individuals would smash the windows in their apartment and write profanity and insults on the walls of their apartment building. After a series of interrogations and all the ensuing humiliation, Anatoly Moskvin's mother offered her husband to poison themselves with gas and die. However, the man refused to do it as such an act could cause an explosion. Anatoly Moskvin's father suffered a heart attack, while his mother developed diabetes. Update: The court decided not to release Anatoly Moskvin from hospital where he undergoes compulsory treatment. He will stay there till the next court hearing.
Vladimir Putin said at a meeting of Valdai Discussion Club that the tragedy at the Polytechnic College in the city of Kerch was "a result of globalisation." However, he did not say who has drawn us into this globalisation."In social networks, on the Internet, we can see that whole communities being created. Everything started with well-known tragic events at schools in the United States," the President of the Russian Federation said. Well, it is easy to blame abstract "globalisation" for what happened. In fact, one may come to a completely different conclusion, and one needs to look for it in the policy of the elite, to which Mr. Putin belongs. Russia lacks youth organisations, like the ones we used to have during the Soviet times - Pioneer or Komsomol organisations. In the Soviet Union, there were no such tragedies, nor were there any security guards and metal detectors at schools - there were teachers and students instead. Sergei Komkov, President of the All-Russian Education Fund, Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences, told Pravda.Ru that the Kerch massacre came as a consequence of the educational reform which Russia had been conducting on the advice of American specialists. "We warned 15-20 years ago that a tragedy like the one that happened in Kerch would be possible in Russia by analogy with what was happening in America," the expert said. The expert referred to the book by Bel Kaufman, "Up The Down Staircase," in which the author talks about the morale at American school in the 60-70s. "I flew to the USA in the 1990s. I was observing how things were working there, and they deported me in 1997 after I told them what it would all end up with," the expert told Pravda.Ru. During the 1990s, in accordance with recommendations from Soros advisors, Russia started reforming its educational system on the American template. "They had eradicated the ideological component, the system of upbringing, and switched to the mere transfer of knowledge and skills," Sergei Komkov told Pravda.Ru.All school youth organisations were taken out of schools. In addition, on the advice of Westerners, all additional education could be received for money. The reform sharply divided the youth based on the income of their parents, Sergey Komkov said in an interview with Pravda.Ru. According to the expert, an army of hopeless children had appeared in Russia already in the late 1990s. Children did not know what to do as their parents were doing their best to try to survive during the time of the crisis," the expert told Pravda.Ru. The system of upbringing should be restored at Russian schools as well. "The first thing we need to do is to kick all Western advisers right out. One needs to close the Higher School of Economics, because this school is a nest of American and British advisers. It was them who introduced the Unified State Exam system, the testing system, the system of sex education - they are trying to prove it to us that the most important thing is the system of education, rather than upbringing.""Security guards cannot protect children. They can be protected if they get engaged in creative work, hiking trips, including to sites of military glory, if they sing in the choir, learn how to dance, how to draw, if they are busy with research activities and history studies. In this case, an idea to grab a rifle and go to school to kill other kids will not occur to them," the expert told Pravda.Ru. "We must have our own brains to do everything the Russian way and avoid the American template," Sergei Komkov told Pravda.Ru.
Vladimir Putin said at a meeting of Valdai Discussion Club that the tragedy at the Polytechnic College in the city of Kerch was "a result of globalisation." However, he did not say who has drawn us into this globalisation."In social networks, on the Internet, we can see that whole communities being created. Everything started with well-known tragic events at schools in the United States," the President of the Russian Federation said. Well, it is easy to blame abstract "globalisation" for what happened. In fact, one may come to a completely different conclusion, and one needs to look for it in the policy of the elite, to which Mr. Putin belongs. Russia lacks youth organisations, like the ones we used to have during the Soviet times - Pioneer or Komsomol organisations. In the Soviet Union, there were no such tragedies, nor were there any security guards and metal detectors at schools - there were teachers and students instead. Sergei Komkov, President of the All-Russian Education Fund, Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences, told Pravda.Ru that the Kerch massacre came as a consequence of the educational reform which Russia had been conducting on the advice of American specialists. "We warned 15-20 years ago that a tragedy like the one that happened in Kerch would be possible in Russia by analogy with what was happening in America," the expert said. The expert referred to the book by Bel Kaufman, "Up The Down Staircase," in which the author talks about the morale at American school in the 60-70s. "I flew to the USA in the 1990s. I was observing how things were working there, and they deported me in 1997 after I told them what it would all end up with," the expert told Pravda.Ru. During the 1990s, in accordance with recommendations from Soros advisors, Russia started reforming its educational system on the American template. "They had eradicated the ideological component, the system of upbringing, and switched to the mere transfer of knowledge and skills," Sergei Komkov told Pravda.Ru.All school youth organisations were taken out of schools. In addition, on the advice of Westerners, all additional education could be received for money. The reform sharply divided the youth based on the income of their parents, Sergey Komkov said in an interview with Pravda.Ru. According to the expert, an army of hopeless children had appeared in Russia already in the late 1990s. Children did not know what to do as their parents were doing their best to try to survive during the time of the crisis," the expert told Pravda.Ru. The system of upbringing should be restored at Russian schools as well. "The first thing we need to do is to kick all Western advisers right out. One needs to close the Higher School of Economics, because this school is a nest of American and British advisers. It was them who introduced the Unified State Exam system, the testing system, the system of sex education - they are trying to prove it to us that the most important thing is the system of education, rather than upbringing.""Security guards cannot protect children. They can be protected if they get engaged in creative work, hiking trips, including to sites of military glory, if they sing in the choir, learn how to dance, how to draw, if they are busy with research activities and history studies. In this case, an idea to grab a rifle and go to school to kill other kids will not occur to them," the expert told Pravda.Ru. "We must have our own brains to do everything the Russian way and avoid the American template," Sergei Komkov told Pravda.Ru.
Foreign companies will be able to access the Russian equivalent of the SWIFT payment system. The State Duma is preparing a bill designed to protect the companies that have fallen under Western sanctions in order to give them a possibility to conduct mutual settlements with foreign counterparties. Russian MPs believe that the system will function most effectively if the BRICS countries, as well as Iran and Turkey, join it. "Although they plan to use national currencies in settlements with Russia, but they do not exclude that settlements can be conducted through the Russian equivalent of SWIFT," Anatoly Aksakov, the head of the State Duma Committee on Financial Markets said. Earlier, first deputy chairman of the Central Bank, Olga Skorobogatova, said that connecting foreign companies to the financial messaging system would expand possibilities for mutual exchange of messages and settlements between sanctioned companies that do not have access to making payments through the original SWIFT system, and foreign contractors.The Russian equivalent to SWIFT is a financial messaging system known for the Russian initials as SPFS. The bill stipulates for direct messaging between both Russian and foreign legal entities.According to the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, there are more than 400 participants in the SPFS system, including banks, the federal treasury, legal entities, and corporate clients. "Inside the country, our system covers the exchange in financial messages completely," a source at the Central Bank of Russia said. "If we talk about cross-border operations, they can be implemented only on the basis of the agreement between several countries. There are such discussions happening already on the level of both the Eurasian Economic Union and BRICS."In the near future, SWIFT may have another competitor in Europe. The head of the German Foreign Ministry, Heiko Maas, said in August that the European Union was in need of its own and independent SWIFT system to protect the financial stability of European companies from US sanctions. Russia found such an intention of European partners quite natural. After the appearance of the European SWIFT system, Russia intends to offer European companies to incorporate a Russian analogue to SWIFT."The possibility to connect foreign countries to the Russian system depends on a number of factors. As for Iran, a lot depends on the volume of economic cooperation that is going to happen. So far, it has not been large at all, but there are reasons for it to grow, especially in the oil and gas sector," Nikolai Kozhanov, a researcher at the European University at St. Petersburg Energy Policy Research Center said. Turkey is already showing willingness to cooperate with the Russian SWIFT. "The Russian equivalent to SWIFT is a revolutionary innovation in the digital world. The possibility of its use by Turkish companies can provide an important development of trade relations between our countries," Mehmet Yolcu, chairman of the board of directors of FinExpertiza Turkey said.According to Dmitry Mosyakov, director of the Center for Southeast Asia, Australia and Oceania of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, China's position on the matter will depend on its relations with the United States. The worse China's relationship with the States goes, the better it is for the Russian SWIFT system. "The relations between China and the USA have been quite intense lately, but if the United States shows positive signs to China, then taking into account the volume of their trade ($500-600 billion) and China's trade volume with Russia ($100 billion as of 2018), China will demonstrate loyalty to the United States and will not connect to the Russian project," the expert said. SWIFT is an international interbank system for transmitting information and making payments. The system incorporates more than 11,000 financial institutions in 200 countries of the world. After 9/11 attacks, the United States gained access to SWIFT network in order to track possible transactions between terrorist groups. Thus, US authorities have access to information related to any payment that goes through SWIFT. Russia launched its own version of SWIFT - SPFS - for domestic financial operations in December 2014. Also read: SWIFT refuses to cut Russia off
Foreign companies will be able to access the Russian equivalent of the SWIFT payment system. The State Duma is preparing a bill designed to protect the companies that have fallen under Western sanctions in order to give them a possibility to conduct mutual settlements with foreign counterparties. Russian MPs believe that the system will function most effectively if the BRICS countries, as well as Iran and Turkey, join it. "Although they plan to use national currencies in settlements with Russia, but they do not exclude that settlements can be conducted through the Russian equivalent of SWIFT," Anatoly Aksakov, the head of the State Duma Committee on Financial Markets said. Earlier, first deputy chairman of the Central Bank, Olga Skorobogatova, said that connecting foreign companies to the financial messaging system would expand possibilities for mutual exchange of messages and settlements between sanctioned companies that do not have access to making payments through the original SWIFT system, and foreign contractors.The Russian equivalent to SWIFT is a financial messaging system known for the Russian initials as SPFS. The bill stipulates for direct messaging between both Russian and foreign legal entities.According to the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, there are more than 400 participants in the SPFS system, including banks, the federal treasury, legal entities, and corporate clients. "Inside the country, our system covers the exchange in financial messages completely," a source at the Central Bank of Russia said. "If we talk about cross-border operations, they can be implemented only on the basis of the agreement between several countries. There are such discussions happening already on the level of both the Eurasian Economic Union and BRICS."In the near future, SWIFT may have another competitor in Europe. The head of the German Foreign Ministry, Heiko Maas, said in August that the European Union was in need of its own and independent SWIFT system to protect the financial stability of European companies from US sanctions. Russia found such an intention of European partners quite natural. After the appearance of the European SWIFT system, Russia intends to offer European companies to incorporate a Russian analogue to SWIFT."The possibility to connect foreign countries to the Russian system depends on a number of factors. As for Iran, a lot depends on the volume of economic cooperation that is going to happen. So far, it has not been large at all, but there are reasons for it to grow, especially in the oil and gas sector," Nikolai Kozhanov, a researcher at the European University at St. Petersburg Energy Policy Research Center said. Turkey is already showing willingness to cooperate with the Russian SWIFT. "The Russian equivalent to SWIFT is a revolutionary innovation in the digital world. The possibility of its use by Turkish companies can provide an important development of trade relations between our countries," Mehmet Yolcu, chairman of the board of directors of FinExpertiza Turkey said.According to Dmitry Mosyakov, director of the Center for Southeast Asia, Australia and Oceania of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, China's position on the matter will depend on its relations with the United States. The worse China's relationship with the States goes, the better it is for the Russian SWIFT system. "The relations between China and the USA have been quite intense lately, but if the United States shows positive signs to China, then taking into account the volume of their trade ($500-600 billion) and China's trade volume with Russia ($100 billion as of 2018), China will demonstrate loyalty to the United States and will not connect to the Russian project," the expert said. SWIFT is an international interbank system for transmitting information and making payments. The system incorporates more than 11,000 financial institutions in 200 countries of the world. After 9/11 attacks, the United States gained access to SWIFT network in order to track possible transactions between terrorist groups. Thus, US authorities have access to information related to any payment that goes through SWIFT. Russia launched its own version of SWIFT - SPFS - for domestic financial operations in December 2014. Also read: SWIFT refuses to cut Russia off

David Hogg received a civics lesson from filmmaker Michael Moore after the teenage anti-gun crusader urged Canadians to contribute to politicians in the 2018 U.S. midterms.

“I have a question for you  guys: Who’s ready to save America?” Hogg asked the crowd at the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada on Friday. Attendees were on hand for a screening of Moore’s new film, “Fahrenheit 11/9,” and Hogg was joined by other Parkland school students on stage.

Hogg ranted about the “mass incarceration of people of color” and water crisis in Flint, Mich., and asked the crowd to act on its “shame” — by giving to left-leaning politicians running for office.

Also Read: Miss America Contestant Slams Trump During Pageant: 'He Has Caused a Lot of Division'

“I think Canadians can donate to political campaigns in the United States,” Hogg said.

Moore then shook his head while standing next to Hogg. “No, they can’t give us money,” the filmmaker told Hogg.

“They can’t?” Hogg asked. “Well, uh, vote here.”

Also Read: Watch Obama Go in on Trump and GOP: 'What Happened?' (Video)

Moore then grabbed the microphone back from Hogg.

The Federal Election Campaign Act prohibits “any contribution or donation of money or other thing of value” from foreign nationals, according to the Federal Election Commission’s website.

Hogg wasn’t silenced for long, however, grabbing the microphone later in the panel and imploring the IRS to investigate President Trump for receiving “$30 million from Russia via the NRA.”

The exchange surfaced in a video that was posted on Sunday. Watch it above.

Related stories from TheWrap:

'Fahrenheit 11/9' Review: Michael Moore's New Movie Is About a Lot More Than Donald Trump

Michael Moore Calls Trump 'Tyrant' and 'Racist' in 'Fahrenheit 11/9' Poster (Photo)

'Fahrenheit 11/9' Trailer: Michael Moore Targets Trump Ahead of 2018 Midterms (Video)

www.thewrap.com | 9/10/18
As someone who’s had a years-long front-row seat to Russia’s efforts to influence U.S. politics, former Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos has a pretty solid read on what we can expect from the 2018 midterms. Stamos left the company last month to work on cybersecurity education at Stanford. “If there’s no foreign interference during […]
techcrunch.com | 9/7/18
Russia's Yandex has taken its self-driving efforts one step further, launching an autonomous ride-hailing service in the university city of Innopolis, Russia. The company claims it's the first such service to launch in Europe. For now, there will be...
www.engadget.com | 8/28/18
The European University at St. Petersburg lost its teaching license after attacks from conservative nationalists who resent its Western orientation.
www.nytimes.com | 8/27/18

Paul Manafort’s conviction and Michael Cohen’s guilty plea have been described as a “double whammy” blow to President Donald Trump — and sparked fresh calls for his impeachment.

Former Obama ethics chief Norm Eisen described the outcomes in a tweet as “the worst hour of Trump’s entire presidency — no, make that entire life.”

Jonathan Turley, an NBC legal analyst and law professor at George Washington University, told MSNBC on Wednesday that the news “couldn’t be worse” for the president.

And ousted Trump aide of the hour Omarosa Manigault Newman declared Cohen’s guilty plea “the beginning of the end” of Trump’s presidency.

But despite these ominous predictions — and the fact that Cohen implicated the president in a federal crime — many experts say it’s unlikely that Trump will face any legal consequences while he’s still in office.

Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney and self-described “fixer,” pleaded guilty on Tuesday to eight criminal counts, including tax fraud, false statements to a bank, and campaign finance violations related to his work for Trump.

Cohen may have implicated Trump by stating that “a candidate for federal office” (which is universally understood to be Trump) directed payments prior to the 2016 presidential election to two women who claim to have had affairs with him, porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. (Trump has denied the affairs.) Cohen admitted to a federal judge that he made the payments “for the purpose of influencing the election.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Wednesday that Trump “did nothing wrong” and there are “no charges against him.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders says Trump 'did nothing wrong' after being accused of directing Michael Cohen to commit a crime pic.twitter.com/CnKvfX5274

— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) August 22, 2018

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

CNN reported that Trump is likely not in legal jeopardy, noting that special counsel Robert Mueller’s office has “apparently” told the president’s legal team that they will adhere to Justice Department regulations saying a sitting president can’t be indicted.

CNN argued that impeachment is a more likely threat to Trump.

Joshua Dressler, a law professor Ohio State University, agrees — but still believes that the president probably won’t be impeached.

Dressler tells Vox that Cohen’s admission that he made the payments ” ‘at the direction of a candidate for federal office,’ clearly implicates the president in those campaign violations.” But it may not matter.

“If he were not a sitting president this would constitute grounds for indictment on those charges,” Dressler said. “As a sitting president this constitutes, if Congress wishes to do so, impeachable offenses. But, as we know, impeachment is a political rather than a legal concept, and it would seem pretty clear that nothing will occur with the current Congress.”

Sol Wisenberg, who conducted grand jury questioning of former President Bill Clinton as deputy independent counsel during the Whitewater investigation, tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Cohen’s plea deal leads Trump “closer to ultimate impeachment proceedings, particularly if the Democrats take back the House.”

RELATED VIDEO: PEOPLE Writer Natasha Stoynoff Breaks Silence, Accuses Donald Trump of Sexual Attack

But most Democrats have been reluctant to call for Trump’s impeachment, especially those running in crucial midterm races, The Washington Post reports.

“I don’t want to see a two-year distraction,” said Susan Wild, a Democratic nominee favored to win a key Republican-held House seat in Pennsylvania tells the Post. “I think, honestly, impeachment proceedings would obviously derail getting other things done in Congress.”

The Post also reports that most Democrats have come to believe that “moral revulsion with political leaders is often only a deciding issue for voters who enjoy a level of economic security to look beyond their immediate needs” — a lesson they learned from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 tactics against Trump.

The question of what’s next for Trump also depends on what Cohen might tell special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump’s ties to Russia.

After Cohen’s guilty plea on Tuesday, his attorney, Lanny Davis, went on a media blitz in which he repeatedly suggested that Cohen has information that would be of interest to Mueller — specifically about the hacking of the Democratic National Convention during the 2016 election, and about Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr.’s mid-campaign meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.

On MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, Davis said that Cohen had “knowledge about the computer crime of hacking and whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time about that crime and even cheered it on.”

He elaborated to The Washington Post, “A conspiracy to commit a crime becomes a crime if there’s one overt act — meaning you do anything to implement the crime. If there is a conversation and a plan for there to be dirt on Hillary Clinton, and then someone knows the way you’re willing to get the dirt is a Russian agent called WikiLeaks .?.?. and then WikiLeaks hacks into an email account, which is a crime, then you have committed a crime of conspiracy.”

If Trump knew in advance about the meeting, he could be accused of having participated in a criminal conspiracy, the Post reports.

But, the newspaper adds, “It’s very unlikely Trump would be indicted on such a charge, especially given how speculative it is.”

Meanwhile, though Manafort’s conviction on eight felony counts of bank and tax fraud does not directly implicate Trump, it could strengthen the special counsel investigation and prompt Manafort to strike a deal and agree to cooperate with investigators, the Post says.

“The combination of the Manafort conviction and the guilty plea by Michael Cohen creates a legal maelstrom for the president’s lawyers, who now have to do battle on two fronts, fending off unrelated charges that both involve individuals who were at one time close to the president,” Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor who now works at the firm McCarter & English, tells the Post.

Timothy Belevetz, a former federal prosecutor now with the firm Holland & Knight, called the Manafort verdict “an important milestone” for Mueller.

“So far, the office has charged more than 30 individuals and has secured a number of guilty pleas, which is not insignificant,” he said. “This is a big win for the special counsel.”

people.com | 8/23/18
The behavior of the Russian inspector satellite, which was launched in the autumn of 2017, puzzles military officials in the United States. Yleem D.S. Poblete, assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification, and compliance, said that the behavior of the satellite in orbit raised a number of questions.Inspector satellites are the spacecraft that maneuver in orbit and interact with other satellites. According to Poblete, the Russian spacecraft does not correspond to the functions that the Russian side had announced before. The satellite, the official added, does not execute its functions, but performs some other jobs, the details of which puzzle US specialists. The US is concerned about the satellite's behavior, as well as about Russia's developments in the field of anti-space defense systems. De facto, Yleem Poblete accused Russia of deploying weapons in space. Andrei Manoilo, professor at the Moscow State University, believes that the remarks from the US official about the behavior of the Russian satellite match the general rhetoric and come in line with Washington's foreign policy. Space is a strategic direction, where one can take leading positions. The United States would like to force Russia into another arms race similar to the one we had in the 1980s as any activity to intensify the confrontation with the United States will definitely become a burden that Russia will not be able to carry, Manoilo said. This is the reason why the US considers the use of outer space for military purposes.In addition, it is profitable for US officials to intimidate the American population with the help of the "Russian threat" because the US defense complex is currently waiting for new orders to come. It is the remarks from various low-rank American officials, like Poblete, that trigger the process to lobby military spending in the United States, the expert believes.To date, international law provides an opportunity to deploy standard arms systems in space. Countries use this opportunity for their own interests. In fact, a cruise missile carrying a nuclear warhead is practically no different than other types of military missiles that carry standard weapons, the professor said. Ivan Moiseyev, the head of the Institute of Space Policy, explained that the above-mentioned inspector satellite examined near-Earth spacecraft Cosmos-2519, which was deployed in space simultaneously with the inspector satellite. Of course, it makes no sense to deny that the spacecraft is capable of carrying out combat missions, the expert added.As a result, NORAD scientists announced the restart of the Russian program known as SOI (Strategic Defense Initiative). British specialist in space technology, Robert Christy, noted that the Cosmos-2499 had its predecessors, because Russia launched three communication satellites on December 23, 2013.The USA expresses its concerned about the situation in near-Earth space, even though it was Washington that approved the National Space Policy in 2007 declaring the right to partially extend sovereignty to outer space."Thus, even if Russia establishes military control over space with the help of interceptor satellites, the US does not lag behind her.
If Oleg Sentsov wants to be pardoned, he needs to ask President Vladimir Putin personally about this. This is how the procedure goes in Russia, officials at the administration for ensuring constitutional rights of citizens under the presidential administration told Sentsov's mother in response to her petition for pardon of her son.The convict, Oleg Sentsov, will have to write a petition, but before it goes to Putin, a special committee and the head of the subject will have to approve the document. It is up to the head of state to make the final decision. Sentsov's mother was informed that her appeal was forwarded to the governor of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District, where the convict serves his sentence. Oleg Sentsov's mother appealed to the Russian president on July 13 with a request to pardon her son. In her letter to the president she wrote that her son's family was going through many problems and hardships without the father. On August 9, it became known that the letter was delivered to the pardon commission under the Russian president.We would like to recall here that there were many personal requests from a variety of public figures in Russia to pardon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Putin pardoned Khodorkovsky in 2013 on humane grounds (Khodorkovsky's mother was dying) after the entrepreneur had sent his personal petition to the president. In addition, experts and journalists note that Oleg Sentsov is not a director. "Oleg Sentsov from Simferopol was a common owner of a computer club. He did not have any cinematographic or any other type of education associated with art. At some point, his business went to the bottom, and Oleg wanted to make a film about the life of a gamer. This is the story behind his motion picture "Gamer" which was released in 2012. Oleg Sentsov was convicted in Russia for 20 years imprisonment on charges of terrorist activities. In May, the man went on a hunger strike, demanding the release of Ukrainian political prisoners. His protest lasts for more than 90 days.Russia's Federal Security Bureau arrested Oleg Sentsov, Alexander Kolchenko, Alexei Chirniya and Gennady Afanasyev on May 30, 2014. The men were suspected of organising a branch of the right-wing subversive and terrorist group Right Sector (banned in Russia) in the Crimean Republic.

There have been many news stories of late about potential attacks on the American electoral system. Which attacks are actually serious? As always, the answer depends on economics.

There are two assertions I'll make up front. First, the attacker — any attacker — is resource-limited. They may have vast resources, and in particular, they may have more resources than the defenders — but they're still limited. Why? They'll throw enough resources at the problem to solve it, i.e., to hack the election, and use anything left over for the next problem, e.g., hacking the Brexit II referendum… There's always another target.

Second, elections are a system. That is, there are multiple interacting pieces. The attacker can go after any of them; the defender has to protect them all. And protecting just one piece very well won't help; after all, "you don't go through strong security, you go around it." But again, the attacker has limited resources. Their strategy, then, is to find the greatest leverage, the point to attack that costs the defenders the most to protect.

There are many pieces to a voting system; I'll concentrate on the major ones: the voting machines, the registration system, electronic poll books, and vote-tallying software. Also note that many of these pieces can be attacked indirectly, via a supply chain attack on the vendors.

There's another point to consider: what are the attacker's goals? Some will want to change vote totals; others will be content with causing enough obvious errors that no one believes the results — and that can result in chaos.

The actual voting machines get lots of attention. That's partly a hangover from the 2000 Bush–Gore election, where myriad technological problems in Florida's voting system (e.g., the butterfly ballot in Palm Beach County and the hanging chads on the punch card voting machines) arguably cost Gore the state and hence the presidential election.

And purely computerized (DRE — Direct Recording Electronic) voting machines are indeed problematic. They make mistakes. If there's ever a real problem, there's nothing to recount. It's crystal-clear to virtually every computer scientist who has studied the issue that DRE machines are a bad idea. But: if you want to change the results of a nation-wide election or set of elections in the U.S., going after DRE machines is probably the wrong idea. Why not? Because it's too expensive.

There are many different election administrations in the U.S.: about 10,000 of them. Yes, sometimes an entire state uses the same type of machine — but each county administers its own machines. Storing the voting machines? Software updates? Done by the county. Programming the ballot? Done by the county. And if you want to attack them? Yup — you have to go to that county. And voting machines are rarely, if ever, connected to the Internet, which means that you pretty much need physical presence to do anything nasty.

Now, to be sure, if you are at the polling place you may be able to do really nasty things to some voting machines. But it's not an attack that scales well for the attacker. It may be a good way to attack a local election, but nothing larger. A single Congressional race? Maybe, but let's do a back-of-the-envelope calculation. The population of the U.S. is about 325,000,000. That means that each election area has about 32,500 people. (Yes, I know it's very non-uniform. This is a back-of-the-envelope calculation.) There are 435 representatives, so each one has about 747,000 constituents, or about 75 election districts. (Again: back of the envelope.) So: you'd need a physical presence in seven different counties, and maybe many precincts in each county to tamper with the machines there. As I said, it's not an attack that scales very well. We need to fix our voting machines — after all, think of Florida in 2000 — but for an attacker who wants to change the result of a national election, it's not the best approach.

There's one big exception: a supply chain attack might be very feasible for a nation-state attacker. There are not many vendors of voting equipment; inserting malware in just a few places could work very well. But there's a silver lining in that cloud: because there are many fewer places to defend than 50 states or 10,000 districts, defense is much less expensive and hence more possible — if we take the problem seriously.

And don't forget the chaos issue. If, say, every voting machine in a populous county of a battleground state showed a preposterous result — perhaps a 100% margin for some candidate, or 100 times as many votes cast as there are registered voters in the area — no one will believe that that result is valid. What then? Rerun the voting in just that county? Here's what the Constitution says:

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

The voter registration systems are a more promising target for an attacker. While these are, again, locally run, there is often a statewide portal to them. In fact, 38 states have or are about to have online voter registration.

In 2016, Russia allegedly attacked registration systems in a number of states. Partly, they wanted to steal voter information, but an attacker could easily delete or modify voter records, thus effectively disenfranchising people. Provisional ballots? Sure, if your polling place has enough of them, and if you and the poll workers know what to do. I've been a poll worker. Let's just say that handling exceptional cases isn't the most efficient process. And consider the public reaction if many likely supporters (based on demographics) of a given candidate are the ones who are disproportionately deleted. (Could the attackers register phony voters? Sure, but to what end? In-person voter fraud is exceedingly rare; how many times can Boris and Natasha show up to vote? Again, that doesn't scale. That's also why requiring an ID to vote is solving a non-problem.)

There's another point. Voting software is specialized; its attack surface should be low. It's possible to get that wrong, as in some now-decertified Virginia voting machines, and there's always the underlying operating system; still, if the machines aren't networked, during voting the only exposure should be via the voting interface.

A lot of registration software, though, is a more-or-less standard web platform and is, therefore, subject to all of the risks of any other web service. SQL injection, in particular, is a very real risk. So an attack on the registration system is not only more scalable, it's easier.

Before the election, voter rolls are copied to what are known as poll books. Sometimes, these are paper books; other places use electronic ones. The electronic ones are networked to each other; however, they are generally not connected to the Internet. If that networking is set up incorrectly, there can be risks; generally, though, they're networked on a LAN. That means that you have to be at the polling place to exploit them. In other words, there's some risk, but it's not much greater than the voting machines.

There's one more critical piece: the vote-tallying software. Tallies from each precinct are transmitted to the county's election board; there may be links to the state, to news media, etc. In other words, this software is networked and hence very subject to attack. However: this is used for the election night count; different procedures can be and often are used for the official canvas. And even without attacks, many things can go wrong:

In Iowa, a hard-to-read fax from Scott County caused election officials initially to give Vice President Gore an extra 2,006 votes. In Outagamie County, Wis., a typo in a tally sheet threw Mr. Bush hundreds of votes he hadn't won.

But: the ability to do a more accurate count the second time around depends on there being something different to count: paper ballots. That's what saved the day in 2000 in Bernalillo County, New Mexico. The problem: ``The paper tallies, resembling grocery-store receipts, seemed to show that many more ballots had been cast overall than were cast in individual races. For example, tallies later that night would show that, of about 38,000 early ballots cast, only 25,000 were cast for Mr. Gore or Mr. Bush.'' And the cause? Programming the vote-counting system:

As they worked, Mr. Lucero's computer screen repeatedly displayed a command window offering a pull-down menu. From the menu, the two men should have clicked on "straight party." Either they didn't make the crucial click, or they did and the software failed to work. As a result, the Accu-Vote machines counted a straight-party vote as one ballot cast, but didn't distribute any votes to each of the individual party candidates.

To illustrate: If a voter filled in the oval for straight-party Democrat, the scanner would record one ballot cast but wouldn't allocate votes to Mr. Gore and other Democratic candidates.

Crucially, though, once they fixed the programming they could re-tally those paper ballots. (By the way, programming the tallying computer can itself be complex. Bernalillo County, which had a population of 557,000 then, required 114 different ballots.)

There's a related issue: the systems that distribute votes to the world. Alaska already suffered such an attack; it could happen elsewhere, too. And it doesn't have to be via hacking; a denial of service attack could also do the job of causing chaos.

The best way to check the ballot-counting software is risk-limiting audits. A risk-limiting audit checks a random subset of the ballots cast. The closer the apparent margin, the more ballots are checked by hand. "Risk-limiting audits guarantee that if the vote tabulation system found the wrong winner, there is a large chance of a full hand count to correct the results." And it doesn't matter whether the wrong count was due to buggy software or an attack. In other words, if there is a paper trail, and if it's actually looked at, via either a full hand-count or a risk-limiting audit, the tallying software isn't a good target for an attacker. One caveat: how much chaos might there be if the official count or the recount deliver results significantly different than the election night fast count?

There's one more point: much of the election machinery, other than the voting machines themselves, are an ordinary IT installation, and hence are subject to all of the security ills that any other IT organization can be subject to. This specifically includes things like insider attacks and ransomware — and some attackers have been targeting local governments:

Attempted ransomware attacks against local governments in the United States have become unnervingly common. A 2016 survey of chief information officers for jurisdictions across the country found that obtaining ransom was the most common purpose of cyberattacks on a city or county government, accounting for nearly one-third of all attacks.

The threat of attacks has induced at least one jurisdiction to suspend online return of absentee ballots. They're wise to be cautious — and probably should have been that cautious to start.

Again, elections are complex. I've only covered the major pieces here; there are many more ways things can go wrong. But of this sample, it's pretty clear that the attackers' best target is the registration system. (Funny, the Russians seemed to know that, too.) Actual voting machines are not a great target, but the importance of risk-limiting audits (even if the only problem is a close race) means that replacing DRE voting machines with something that provides a paper trail is quite important. The vote-counting software is even less interesting if proper audits are done, though don't discount the utility to some parties of chaos and mistrust.

Acknowledgments:Many thanks to Joseph Lorenzo Hall, Avi Rubin, and Matt Blaze for many helpful comments on this blog post.

Written by Steven Bellovin, Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University

www.circleid.com | 8/8/18
Facebook announced on Tuesday that it has identified a coordinated political influence campaign, with dozens of inauthentic accounts and pages that are believed to be engaging in political activity around divisive social issues ahead of November's midterm elections. In a series of briefings on Capitol Hill this week and a public post on Tuesday, the company told lawmakers that it had detected and removed 32 pages and accounts connected to the influence campaign on Facebook and Instagram as part of its investigations into election interference. It publicly said it had been unable to tie the accounts to Russia, whose Internet Research Agency was at the center of an indictment earlier this year for interfering in the 2016 election, but company officials told Capitol Hill that Russia was possibly involved, according to two officials briefed on the matter. Facebook said that the accounts - eight Facebook pages, 17 Facebook profiles, and seven Instagram accounts - were created between March 2017 and May 2018 and first discovered two weeks ago. Those numbers may sound small, but their influence is spreading: More than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of the suspect pages, the company said.

The reach of Facebook combined with the declining US education system and dreadful media landscape makes it quite easy to influence people. It's very worrying.

osnews.com | 8/1/18

It’s easy in this era of Trump’s America — and particularly in the last couple weeks — to focus all our energies on the loud issues. Which usually revolves around whatever Donald Trump himself is doing and saying. But it’s just as important to keep track of what’s going on behind Trump, as Seth Meyers noted in a new edition of “The Check In” on Tuesday’s episode of “Late Night.”

“It is important to note that while the media focuses on Trump’s daily tweets and scandals, outbursts and distractions, the government he installed is hard at work making policy that affects our lives,” Meyers said to begin the segment. “And one of those installations, secretary of education Betsy DeVos, has been quietly overseeing a massive rollback of civil rights regulations in her department.”

“The Check In,” for those who aren’t familiar with this segment, is more of a big picture look at what’s going on than Meyers’ popular “A Closer Look,” which focuses more on the events of the past day or two. It’s kind of a “hey, remember this big, slowly developing story that you may not be paying all that much attention to but you really should” kind of thing. And the story of what Betsy DeVos has been up to is exactly that sort of thing.

Also Read: Colbert: President Trump Is 'a Racist, Horny, Old Burger Goblin Who Literally Steals Children From Poor People' (Video)

“So, within the Department of Education, there is an important office called the Office for Civil Rights. Now, for people who can’t afford a lawyer, appealing to this office is often the only way they can seek justice if they feel a civil rights violation has occurred,” Meyers said. “The problem is, it doesn’t seem like Betsy DeVos knows much about it, at least based on this exchange.”

“Late Night” then played a clip of DeVos in a hearing speaking with Democratic congresswoman Marcia Fudge about the Office of Civil Rights that went like this:

DeVos: “The Office for Civil Rights is committed to protecting the civil rights as determined under the law of this land.”
Fudge: “That’s not the mission statement. Do you know what it is?”
DeVos: “Perhaps you can share it– “
Fudge: “That’s — that’s okay.”
DeVos: “I have not memorized– “
Fudge: “No, that’s okay.”
DeVos: ” –the mission statement.”
Fudge: “Please explain for me what you would believe to be vigorous enforcement of civil rights in the context of schools today?”
DeVos: “It would be following the law and enforcing the law as stated.”
Fudge: [long pause] “Okay.”

Also Read: Kimmel: 'I Would Rather We Had a Chimpanzee As President' Instead of Trump (Video)

“She just fully gave up,” Meyers said after the clip finished. “That’s how I sound when i’m stuck on the phone with Time Warner. ‘I want an operator. No, operator! Okay. Fios it is.’

“So DeVos claims to respect the mission statement, but the reality is she’s been dismantling and defunding the civil rights office. In fact, shortly after that exchange, three civil rights organizations, including the NAACP — which, incidentally, is how Betsy DeVos spells kneecap — sued the Department of Education over new procedures that allow its Office for Civil Rights to dismiss complaints that it determines to be burdensome.”

Meyers then went in on one particularly egregious example of the shift in priorities at the Office for Civil Rights under DeVos.

Also Read: Colbert: Trump Earned a Spot in the 'Lying Hall of Fame' for His Russia Walkback (Video)

“Before DeVos, the office was obligated to review any complaint in which a civil rights violation may have occurred. But now, DeVos is using the Office for Civil Rights to investigate complaints like whether programs supporting women at Yale University and the University of Southern California violate federal law by discriminating against men,” Meyers said.

“That’s right — the civil rights office is taking up the cause of white guys trying to get into Yale. Because I believe it was Martin Luther King who said, ‘I have a dream that my bro, Chad, could be accepted to Yale with a 2.6 GPA and a letter from his dad and not be tossed aside into Dartmouth or, god forbid, Cornell.’ “

You can watch all of the “The Check In” segment from Tuesday’s episode of “Late Night With Seth Meyers” in the video embedded at the top of this post.

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www.thewrap.com | 7/25/18
One of Russia's best-known graduate schools, created to avoid a brain drain among top academics in the newly open Russia of the 1990s, has lost its state accreditation, amid fears of a wider clampdown on educational institutions with strong Western connections.
www.foxnews.com | 7/22/18

Michelle Wolf mocks the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Sunday’s episode of her Netflix show “The Break” in a sketch that compares the law enforcement agency to the terrorist organization ISIS.

The sketch shows three ICE agents talking about the values of the institution by starting off sentences with the phrase “ICE is,” but it quickly becomes clear that all of their statements also apply to ISIS.

The sketch rips ICE for the practice of deporting people for minor legal infractions and the Trump administration’s policy of separating children of immigrants from their parents when they cross the U.S. border.

Also Read: Michelle Wolf Dunks on Comedy Shows Like Hers: An Earnest Plea Is 'Easier' Than Writing Jokes (Video)

“I joined to capture those MS-13 animals who are infesting America,” one recruit said — referencing the Mexican gang — as video of an ICE agent tackling a dummy dressed as an elderly man with a walker played. “I haven’t seen any yet, but I’ve heard about them.”

Another agent argued that ICE should be abolished because the agency was founded in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks and isn’t being used to fight terrorists, as originally intended.

“We’re an age-old American tradition dating back to 2003,” one agent said. “So slightly younger than that curly haired-kid on ‘Stranger Things,’ Gaten Matarazzo.”

“That sounds Italian,” another agent added. “We’re not deporting those guys — yet.”

Also Read: Michelle Wolf: Trump 'Responsible for More Abortions Than the Invention of Back Alleys'

Playing the role of Homeland Security secretary Kristjen Nielsen, Wolf said, “It’s popular nowadays to say ICE is bad. But there’s no better representation of American values right now than ICE is. And as an equal opportunity employer, we accept all levels of experience and education, from low to very low, and actively welcome those with diagnosed anger issues.”

“Take it from me…” Wolf’s Nielsen concluded, “no organization is better than ICE is.”

Watch the sketch in the video above.

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Michelle Wolf and Seth Meyers Complain About the World Cup and Each Other (Video)

Michelle Wolf: Trump 'Responsible for More Abortions Than the Invention of Back Alleys'

www.thewrap.com | 7/21/18

After successfully using his platform to target millions of potential voters, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a secret phone call to Donald Trump following his 2016 election victory, according to a report from BuzzFeed News on Thursday.

Zuckerberg “congratulated the Trump team on its victory and successful campaign,” according to the report, which cited “three people familiar with the conversation.”

Facebook declined to comment to TheWrap. The White House did not immediately respond to our request for comment.

Also Read: Trump Is Facebook's Biggest Spender on Political Ads, Study Finds

The Trump campaign relied heavily on Facebook to win voters, spending $44 million on nearly 6 million different ads between June and November 2016, according to Bloomberg. Hillary Clinton’s camp, on the other hand, spent $28 million on 66,000 ads during the same period.

Facebook noticed how well the Trump team leveraged its platform, using the campaign to help sharpen its own approach to advertising, BuzzFeed reported. “Trump used Facebook as Facebook was meant to be used,” one former Facebook employee told BuzzFeed News.

The good will was apparently mutual on both sides. One Trump staffer told BuzzFeed News “their team showered tons of praise on our team.”

Also Read: Facebook Faces 'Challenges' in Recruiting Black and Hispanic Execs

Facebook said it did not invite Trump or Clinton campaign staffers to detail how they used the social network. “Our work with the Trump team was similar to that of any major client we have,” a Facebook rep told BN.

President Trump appears to be doubling down on his Facebook-heavy approach heading into the 2020 U.S. election as well. POTUS is the biggest spender on Facebook political advertising, according to a new New York University study, with his team dropping $274,000 on ads since early May. Those ads have hit 37 million people on Facebook so far.

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www.thewrap.com | 7/19/18
The majority of foreigners, who visited Russia during the FIFA 2018 World Cup, were thrilled with what they saw and experienced in the country. They were thrilled to see Russia that was so much different from what their media was making them to believe. The level of organization of the tournament in Russia was superb indeed: no incident was reported, not a single brawl occurred. Nikolskaya Street, where most fans gathered, became the street of global peace and the main street of the world. The goal of the organizing committee was to show foreigners Russia's best side, to make them remember their time in Russia and have unforgettable impressions. Today, one can say for certain: the goal has been achieved. The 2018 World Cup has changed Russia's imaged for the better in the whole world. The performance of the Russian football team at the tournament became an important addition to the organization of the whole event. Few in Russia could even think that the national football team could exit the group, reach the 1/8 finals and even leave Spain behind on the way. Even when Russia lost to Croatia in a series of penalty kicks, the whole nation was infinitely grateful to their footballers for their amazing achievement. Ratings of broadcasts of playoff matches with the participation of the Russian national team were comparable with the ratings of president's New Year speech. The World Cup has given Russia not only 12 stadiums that hosted the games, but also almost a hundred smaller arenas throughout the European territory of the country. They will be used for  children's sports schools.New airport terminals, renovated roads and streets, the experience of thousands of people who were involved in the organization of the world's biggest event has become the precious legacy that football has given Russia. The whole world has finally got a chance to see Russia as an open and hospitable country, and we would like to hope that many foreign fans would like to come to Russia again and bring their families along. It is worthy of note that all foreigners having FAN IDs for the 2018 World Cup will not need to get the Russian visa if they wish to visit Russia again before the end of 2018. The 2018 World Cup cost Russia more than $14 billion. The financial results of the tournament  have not been calculated yet, but one can already say that the income that Russia has received was a lot lower than the spending. However, profit is not the most important thing, and Russia did not have the goal to make as much as possible from football. Russian football fans bought the largest amount of tickets - 900,000 of 2.4 million. Surprisingly, American fans come next - they bought 89,000 tickets. The list continues with Brazil - 72,500 tickets, Colombia - 65,200, Germany - 62,500, Mexico - 60,300, Argentina - 54,000, Peru - 43,600, China - 40,300, Australia - 36,400, and England - 32,400.The number of European visitors was unexpectedly low. Having been zombified by the media, many British and French fans preferred to stay home and watch the games on TV. Yet, the number of American visitors was higher than expected. Financial results of the 2018 World Cup will follow soon, although experts say that the football tournament has contributed from 0.2 to 1 percent of GDP to the Russian economy. The infrastructure created for the competition and the subsequently growing tourist flow can bring an additional 120-180 billion rubles to Russia's GDP annually for the next five years.Given that Russia's GDP amounted to about 92 trillion rubles last year, these expected revenues will simply be invisible and fit within the error margin. The spending of 1.2 trillion rubles that Russia has incurred during seven years of preparations for the event is just as insignificant.

Education in Russia is provided predominantly by the state and is regulated by the federal Ministry of Education and Science. Regional authorities regulate education within their jurisdictions within the prevailing framework of federal laws. In 2004 state spending for education amounted to 3.6% of GDP, or 13% of consolidated state budget. Private institutions account for 1% of pre-school enrollment, 0.5% of elementary school enrollment and 17% of university-level students. Before 1990 the course of school training in Soviet Union was 10-years, but at the end of 1990 the 11-year course has been officially entered. Education in state-owned secondary schools is free; first tertiary (university level) education is free with reservations: a substantial share of students is enrolled for full pay. Male and female students have nearly equal shares in all stages of education, except tertiary education where women lead with 57%. The literacy rate in Russia, according to the 2002 census, is 99.4% (99.7% men, 99.2% women). 16.0% of population over 15 years of age (17.6 million) have tertiary (undergraduate level or higher) education; 47.7% have completed secondary education (10 or 11 years); 26.5% have completed middle school (8 or 9 years) and 8.1% have elementary education. Highest rates of tertiary education, 24.7% are recorded among women aged 35–39 years (compared to 19.5% for men of the same age bracket).


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