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Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
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Was a Trump Server Communicating With Russia?

This spring, a group of computer scientists set out to determine whether hackers were interfering with the Trump campaign. They found something they weren’t expecting.

The greatest miracle of the Internet is that it exists—the second greatest is that it persists. Every so often we’re reminded that bad actors wield great skill and have little conscience about the harm they inflict on the world’s digital nervous system. They invent viruses, botnets, and sundry species of malware. There’s good money to be made deflecting these incursions. But a small, tightly-knit community of computer scientists who pursue such work—some at cyber-security firms, some in academia, some with close ties to three-letter federal agencies—is also spurred by a sense of shared idealism and considers itself the benevolent posse that chases off the rogues and rogue states that try to purloin sensitive data and infect the Internet with their bugs. “We’re the Union of Concerned Nerds,” in the wry formulation of the Indiana University computer scientist L. Jean Camp.

In late spring, this community of malware hunters placed itself in a high state of alarm. Word arrived that Russian hackers had infiltrated the servers of the Democratic National Committee, an attack persuasively detailed by the respected cyber-security firm CrowdStrike. The computer scientists posited a logical hypothesis, which they set out to rigorously test: If the Russians were worming their way into the DNC, they might very well be attacking other entities central to the presidential campaign, including Donald Trump’s many servers. “We wanted to help defend both campaigns, because we wanted to preserve the integrity of the election,” says one of the academics, who works at a university that asked him not to speak with reporters because of the sensitive nature of his work.


In late July, one of these scientists—who asked to be referred to as Tea Leaves, a pseudonym that would protect his relationship with the networks and banks that employ him to sift their data—found what looked like malware emanating from Russia. The destination domain had Trump in its name, which of course attracted Tea Leaves’ attention. But his discovery of the data was pure happenstance—a surprising needle in a large haystack of DNS lookups on his screen. “I have an outlier here that connects to Russia in a strange way,” he wrote in his notes. He couldn’t quite figure it out at first. But what he saw was a bank in Moscow that kept irregularly pinging a server registered to the Trump Organization on Fifth Avenue.


The researchers quickly dismissed their initial fear that the logs represented a malware attack. The communication wasn’t the work of bots. The irregular pattern of server lookups actually resembled the pattern of human conversation—conversations that began during office hours in New York and continued during office hours in Moscow. It dawned on the researchers that this wasn’t an attack, but a sustained relationship between a server registered to the Trump organization and two servers registered to an entity called Alfa Bank.


Britain Is Becoming an Emerging Market

With a plunging pound and deep economic uncertainty, one of Europe’s most robust markets is now looking a lot like the developing world.

Breaking up is hard to do — especially after a 43-year marriage. Which is why the notion that the United Kingdom might engineer a “soft Brexit” from the European Union, the innocent hope of many investors and some Brits, was always a delusion. Instead, Britain’s plunging pound, which has swooned to a staggering 168-year low against a benchmark of other major currencies, is just a taste of the economic deterioration to come.

Instead of the pro-Brexit camp’s promise that the vote was a push for independence from European red tape, the drive for sovereignty has turned into a quixotic exercise in isolationism that shows few signs of ending well. In effect, the United Kingdom has abdicated its chief source of economic and political clout — its close association with the European Union, the world’s largest economy. In so doing, Britain may be on the way to looking more like an emerging market, where suddenly political risk, currency volatility, and uncertainty about the future are the new normal. And if you’re thinking that long-term investment and private spending might suffer as a result, you’re bloody well right.

Despite a raft of warnings, Brexiteers were quick to claim victory in the months following the momentous June referendum. “To me, Brexit is easy,” said a confident Nigel Farage, leader of the pro-Brexit UK Independence Party. Sure, the pound was falling a tad rapidly. But, hey, the economic data didn’t fall off a cliff, and the stock market even hit a new record. But that was the summer sun talking.

The arrival of autumn has brought the onset of reality. One leaked government report estimated the mere cost of the process at an eye-popping $22 billion. That’s substantially more than the U.K.’s yearly contribution to the EU budget, which was supposed to be a source of savings post-Brexit.


FBI's Comey opposed naming Russians, citing election timing: Source

Source: CNBC

FBI Director James Comey argued privately that it was too close to Election Day for the United States government to name Russia as meddling in the U.S. election and ultimately ensured that the FBI's name was not on the document that the U.S. government put out, a former FBI official tells CNBC.

The official said some government insiders are perplexed as to why Comey would have election timing concerns with the Russian disclosure but not with the Huma Abedin email discovery disclosure he made Friday.

In the end, the Department of Homeland Security and The Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued the statement on Oct. 7, saying "The U.S. intelligence community is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of emails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations…These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process."


According to the former official, Comey agreed with the conclusion the intelligence community came to: "A foreign power was trying to undermine the election. He believed it to be true, but was against putting it out before the election." Comey's position, this official said, was "if it is said, it shouldn't come from the FBI, which as you'll recall it did not."

Read more: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/31/fbis-comey-opposed-naming-russians-citing-election-timing-source.html

Donald Trump is refusing to pay his campaign pollster three-quarters of a million dollars

Source: The Washington Post

Donald Trump's hiring of pollster Tony Fabrizio in May was viewed as a sign that the real estate mogul was finally bringing seasoned operatives into his insurgent operation.

But the Republican presidential nominee appears to have taken issue with some of the services provided by the veteran GOP strategist, who has advised candidates from 1996 GOP nominee Bob Dole to Florida Gov. Rick Scott. The Trump campaign's latest Federal Election Commission report shows that it is disputing nearly $767,000 that Fabrizio's firm says it is still owed for polling.

Trump campaign officials declined to provide details about the reason the campaign has declined to pay the sum to Fabrizio Lee, the pollster's Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based firm. “This is an administrative issue that we're resolving internally,” said senior communications adviser Jason Miller. Fabrizio did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Fabrizio was an ally of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who persuaded a skeptical Trump in the spring that he needed a professional pollster. The abrupt departure of Manafort in August and Trump's hiring of pollster Kellyanne Conway to be his campaign manager raised questions about whether Fabrizio would stay on. There have also been multiple reports that Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner have rejected Fabrizio's advice.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/10/31/donald-trump-is-refusing-to-pay-his-campaign-pollster-nearly-three-quarters-of-a-million-dollars/

Donald Trump's Companies Destroyed Emails in Defiance of Court Orders

Source: Newsweek

Over the course of decades, Donald Trump’s companies have systematically destroyed or hidden thousands of emails, digital records and paper documents demanded in official proceedings, often in defiance of court orders. These tactics—exposed by a Newsweek review of thousands of pages of court filings, judicial orders and affidavits from an array of court cases—have enraged judges, prosecutors, opposing lawyers and the many ordinary citizens entangled in litigation with Trump. In each instance, Trump and entities he controlled also erected numerous hurdles that made lawsuits drag on for years, forcing courtroom opponents to spend huge sums of money in legal fees as they struggled—sometimes in vain—to obtain records.

This behavior is of particular import given Trump’s frequent condemnations of Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent, for having deleted more than 30,000 emails from a server she used during her time as secretary of state. While Clinton and her lawyers have said all of those emails were personal, Trump has suggested repeatedly on the campaign trail that they were government documents Clinton was trying to hide and that destroying them constituted a crime. The allegation—which the FBI concluded was not supported by any evidence—is a crowd-pleaser at Trump rallies, often greeted by supporters chanting, “Lock her up!”

Trump’s use of deception and untruthful affidavits, as well as the hiding or improper destruction of documents, dates back to at least 1973, when the Republican nominee, his father and their real estate company battled the federal government over civil charges that they refused to rent apartments to African-Americans. The Trump strategy was simple: deny, impede and delay, while destroying documents the court had ordered them to hand over.

Shortly after the government filed its case in October, Trump attacked: He falsely declared to reporters that the feds had no evidence he and his father discriminated against minorities, but instead were attempting to force them to lease to welfare recipients who couldn’t pay their rent.

Read more: http://europe.newsweek.com/donald-trump-companies-destroyed-emails-documents-515120

Nissan warned government on fate of Sunderland without deal

Nissan warned the British government that the carmaker would wind down UK operations if it was not guaranteed competitive trading conditions with Europe, according to two people involved in negotiations over future investment in its Sunderland plant.

During talks that led to a meeting between Theresa May and Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn, the Japanese carmaker said it was prepared to shift production to its Spanish and French factories in a move that would lead to the closure of its British plant and other UK sites.

Government assurances offered to Nissan led to its decision this week to locate two new cars at the plant from 2019, safeguarding more than 30,000 jobs at the site and in its supply chain.


Rival carmakers are now demanding the same assurances offered to Nissan to shield them from the impact of Brexit. While technology and pharmaceuticals companies are prioritising visas for skilled workers, other exporters including chemicals manufacturers have set tariff-free access to the EU as a priority.


And so it begins.

The government (whatever arm of it we're talking about here, as communication and co-ordination between the various departments so far has seemed particularly ineffective - No. 10 currently denies that May and Ghosn discussed the potential closure at their meeting, which beggars belief) has apparently made some pretty rash, desperate promises to Nissan: "the carmaker would face no change in its trading conditions following Britain’s exit from the EU".

Either this is bullshit, or May's willing, despite all the bluster, to eventually settle for any deal with the EU that will fulfil these conditions (a far softer Brexit than has been hinted at so far), or she's willing to throw however much money and other inducements at them as ends up being necessary to keep them sweet and on British soil (which would require some nifty accounting to avoid falling foul of WTO and other trading bloc rules).

The FT article speculates that Nissan deciding to leave the UK "would have ... set a precedent for other carmakers to locate future work outside Britain", and other major employers might have followed in their wake. Now instead, May's set another precedent, and every significant industry that could relocate will be after its own preferential treatment.

Maybe we should all join the queue with our caps in hand. If enough if us can get these assurances, it'll be as if we never left ...

Tony Blair's call to mobilise against Brexit sparks mixed response

Tony Blair has received a predictably dismissive government response to his call for remain voters to organise their opposition to Brexit, with No 10 saying there would be no second referendum.


In his first major intervention on Brexit since the referendum campaign, Blair called for a new movement born from the 48% of the electorate who wanted to remain in the EU, saying: “We have to build the capability to mobilise and to organise.”

Writing in the New European, Blair said: “The issue is not whether we ignore the will of the people, but whether, as information becomes available, and facts take the place of claims, the ‘will’ of the people shifts. Maybe it won’t, in which case people like me will have to accept it.

“But surely we are entitled to try to persuade, to make the argument, and not to be whipped into line to support a decision we genuinely believe is a catastrophe for the country we love.”


(Largely) the right message, wrong messenger, I fear.

Still, it keeps the idea alive that we Brexitsceptics needn't heed the predictable calls from some of the wannabe neofascist media: "Just fuck off and go and live in Europe if you love it so much."

What Theresa May really thinks about Brexit shown in leaked recording

Theresa May privately warned that companies would leave the UK if the country voted for Brexit during a secret audience with investment bankers a month before the EU referendum.


Speaking at the bank in London on 26 May, the then home secretary appeared to go further than her public remarks to explain more clearly the economic benefits of staying in the EU. She told staff it was time the UK took a lead in Europe, and that she hoped voters would look to the future rather than the past.


“I think the economic arguments are clear,” she said. “I think being part of a 500-million trading bloc is significant for us. I think, as I was saying to you a little earlier, that one of the issues is that a lot of people will invest here in the UK because it is the UK in Europe.

“If we were not in Europe, I think there would be firms and companies who would be looking to say, do they need to develop a mainland Europe presence rather than a UK presence? So I think there are definite benefits for us in economic terms.”


Commentary on above: The Goldman Sachs tape shows May is not leading on Brexit, but following

I'm white and working class. I'm sick of Brexiters saying they speak for me

Phil McDuff

"Ordinary hard-working people have genuine concerns about immigration, and to ignore immigration is to undemocratically ignore their needs." Other than the resurgent importance of jam, this is the clearest message we are supposed to take out of Brexit.

So concerned are we that the government’s hands are tied that it must send all the doctors back where they came from. It must crack down on students coming here to get educated in our universities in exchange for money. It must check teenagers’ teeth lest we accidentally extend compassion to a Syrian adult.

Who are “ordinary hard-working people” though? It seems the consensus following Brexit is that they’re the marginalised white working class; the people who have been left behind by modernity, who feel alienated by the “liberal metropolitan elite”. I’m a white man from the north-east, living in strongly Brexit-voting Middlesbrough, so you might expect me to tell you all off for looking down on us from your ivory towers. But the truth is that this outbreak of “the poor proles can’t help it” is both incorrect and patronising.

The working class mostly lack our own voices in the media. Instead, we are reported on. This reporting seems, even now, to believe that the true working-class identity is, as Kelvin MacKenzie put it in the 1980s, “a right old fascist”. Culturally insular, not interested in or smart enough to understand real news, generally afraid of people not like him (it’s always a him).


Meet Fancy Bear, the Russian Group Hacking the Election

SAN FRANCISCO — On the morning of March 10, nine days after Hillary Clinton had won big on Super Tuesday and all but clinched the Democratic nomination, a series of emails were sent to the most senior members of her campaign.

At a glance, they looked like a standard message from Google, asking that users click a link to review recent suspicious activity on their Gmail accounts. Clicking on them would lead to a page that looked nearly identical to Gmail’s password reset page with a prompt to sign in. Unless they were looking closely at the URL in their address bar, there was very little to set off alarm bells.

From the moment those emails were opened, senior members in Clinton’s campaign were falling into a trap set by one of the most aggressive and notorious groups of hackers working on behalf of the Russian state. The same group would shortly target the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). It was an orchestrated attack that — in the midst of one of the most surreal US presidential races in recent memory — sought to influence and sow chaos on Election Day.

The hack first came to light on June 15, when the Washington Post published a story based on a report by the CrowdStrike cybersecurity firm alleging that a group of Russian hackers had breached the email servers of the DNC. Countries have spied on one another’s online communications in the midst of an election season for as long as spies could be taught to use computers — but what happened next, the mass leaking of emails that sought to embarrass and ultimately derail a nominee for president, had no precedent in the United States. Thousands of emails — some embarrassing, others punishing — were available for public perusal while the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, congratulated Russia on the hack and invited it to keep going to “find the 30,000 emails that are missing” from Clinton’s private email server. It was an attack that would edge the US and Russia closer to the brink of a cyberwar that has been simmering for the better part of a decade.

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