Category Archives: Infrastructure

Russian hacking of U.S. elections more extensive and is ongoing

First, an aside to a related matter, Justice Department: No evidence Obama wiretapped Trump Tower:

There is no evidence to support President Donald Trump’s claim that Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign, the Justice Department said in a new court filing.

The DOJ made the statement in a motion for summary judgment filed Friday in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the watchdog group American Oversight.

“Both FBI and NSD confirm that they have no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017 tweets,” the government said, referring to the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

This confirms that pathological liar Donald Trump lied to fabricate a media distraction at the time, but then, we already knew this. Actual fake news!

The New York Times reported last week about the genuine hacking scandal, Russian Election Hacking Efforts, Wider Than Previously Known, Draw Little Scrutiny:

[Months after the election disruptions involving electronic poll books in Durham, North Carolina], for Ms. Greenhalgh, other election security experts and some state officials, questions still linger about what happened that day in Durham as well as other counties in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Arizona.

After a presidential campaign scarred by Russian meddling, local, state and federal agencies have conducted little of the type of digital forensic investigation required to assess the impact, if any, on voting in at least 21 states whose election systems were targeted by Russian hackers, according to interviews with nearly two dozen national security and state officials and election technology specialists.

The assaults on the vast back-end election apparatus — voter-registration operations, state and local election databases, e-poll books and other equipment — have received far less attention than other aspects of the Russian interference, such as the hacking of Democratic emails and spreading of false or damaging information about Mrs. Clinton. Yet the hacking of electoral systems was more extensive than previously disclosed, The New York Times found.

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Our lawless TeaPublican legislature seeks to avoid accountabiity for failing to adequately fund the capital needs of school districts

I posted about the latest school funding lawsuit against our lawless TeaPublican legislature and governor back in April. The other show drops: Lawsuit against our lawless Tea-Publican legislature for unconstitutionally underfunding capital needs of school districts.

This case is back in the news this week. Our lawless TeaPublican legislature and governor are asking the court to dismiss this lawsuit, arguing that the plaintiffs have no standing to sue to hold them accountable for their unconstitutional underfunding of the capital needs of Arizona school districts.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports State asks judge to dismiss legal challenge to school finance scheme:

Saying challengers have no right to sue, lawyers for the state want a judge to throw out a challenge to the state’s school funding scheme.

In legal papers filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, attorney Brett Johnson does not directly address the contention by education officials, taxpayers and others that the lack of cash from the governor and Legislature has left schools with hundreds of millions of dollars of unmet construction, maintenance and equipment needs.

Instead, Johnson is telling Judge Connie Contes she has no authority to decide if the state is providing enough money. He said whatever they decide to provide in cash is a “political question” beyond the powers of the courts.

“Whether and how much money can be paid out of the state treasury is clearly committed by our constitution to those acting in a legislative capacity,” he wrote.

This “political question” doctrine defense is complete bullshit. The present lawsuit arises out of a prior lawsuit, and alleges that the state of Arizona is in violation of its previous settlement agreement in the long-running school capital funding case of Roosevelt Elem. School Dist. No. 66  v. Bishop (No. CV-93-0168 1994), in which the Arizona Supreme Court held that the statutory financing scheme for public education violated the Arizona Constitution, Article XI, § 1.

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12 days in September: a potential disaster-in-the-making

Congress has scheduled only 12 working days in September. The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman recently laid out the disaster-in-the-making that the month of September may bring. Republicans are heading for a hellish month. Trump will only make it worse.

Republicans are facing an extraordinary period on Capitol Hill, one which will require work, skill, care and luck to navigate successfully.

Even in the best of circumstances, it would be an incredibly difficult challenge. But it will be made even harder by the fact that the person who should be their greatest asset — the president — is in fact their greatest impediment.

Here’s a quick list of what Republicans are facing over the next six weeks:

  • If Congress doesn’t pass a budget bill by the end of September, the government will shut down.
  • If Congress doesn’t pass an increase in the debt ceiling by the end of September, the United States will default on its debts, potentially triggering a global financial crisis.
  • The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which insures about 9 million children, needs to be reauthorized by the end of September.
  • The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) needs to be reauthorized by the end of September.
  • Republicans want to pass sweeping tax reform as soon as possible.
  • The White House still wants to pass an infrastructure bill.
  • Many Republicans in Congress still want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and conservatives in the House are attempting to force a vote on full repeal, reigniting the debate that was so disastrous for them.

How is President Trump confronting this set of challenges?

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The ‘Infrastructure Week’ that wasn’t

So how about that “Infrastructure Week” that wasn’t?

Trump’s ‘Infrastructure Week’ collapsed around him. “It was a given from the moment Donald Trump opened his mouth to defend rallying white supremacists and Nazi groups in Charlottesville that the administration’s “Infrastructure Week” was going to be a hot, molten mess.”

It also resulted in the collapse of his would-be Advisory Council on Infrastructure before it managed even a single meeting.

Infrastructure remains stuck near the rear of the legislative line, according to two dozen administration officials, legislators and labor leaders involved in coming up with a concrete proposal. Trump’s ‘Great National Infrastructure Program’? Stalled.

“It awaits the resolution of tough negotiations over the budget, the debt ceiling, a tax overhaul, a new push to toughen immigration laws — and the enervating slog to enact a replacement for the Affordable Care Act.”

Mr. Trump’s team has yet to produce the detailed plan he has promised to deliver “very soon.”

It’s just not going to happen.

The troubled liberation of Mosul

The forces of the Islamic State overran Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in a stunningly swift victory in June 2014. After a nine month long offensive to retake the city, Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, recently declared that Mosul had been liberated. During the struggle to retake the city, it is estimated that thousands of civilians were killed. The exact number may never be known because many of the bodies lie buried in the rubble of wrecked buildings.

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Georgia’s vulnerabe election system: why election systems are designated ‘critical infrastructure’

There is a special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District on Tuesday, between Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff and Republican candidate Karen Handel. Georgia is one of only five states that use electronic voting without any “paper trail” available for verification of the vote. (h/t Ballotpedia).

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That’s bad enough, but wait, it gets worse. Kim Zetter at Politico Magazine had an in-depth report this week about just how unsecure the voting system in Georgia is. Will the Georgia Special Election Get Hacked?:

Last August, when the FBI reported that hackers were probing voter registration databases in more than a dozen states, prompting concerns about the integrity of the looming presidential election, Logan Lamb decided he wanted to get his hands on a voting machine.

A 29-year-old former cybersecurity researcher with the federal government’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, Lamb, who now works for a private internet security firm in Georgia, wanted to assess the security of the state’s voting systems. When he learned that Kennesaw State University’s Center for Election Systems tests and programs voting machines for the entire state of Georgia, he searched the center’s website.

“I was just looking for PDFs or documents,” he recalls, hoping to find anything that might give him a little more sense of the center’s work. But his curiosity turned to alarm when he encountered a number of files, arranged by county, that looked like they could be used to hack an election. Lamb wrote an automated script to scrape the site and see what was there, then went off to lunch while the program did its work. When he returned, he discovered that the script had downloaded 15 gigabytes of data.

“I was like whoa, whoa. … I did not mean to do that. … I was absolutely stunned, just the sheer quantity of files I had acquired,” he tells Politico Magazine in his first interview since discovering the massive security breach.

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