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Thought for the day
"Organized Christianity has probably done more to retard the ideals that were its founder's than any other agency in the world." -- Richard Le Gallienne
The US Department of Homeland Security is warning of vulnerabilities in the nation’s emergency broadcast network that makes it possible for hackers to issue bogus warnings over radio and TV stations.
“We recently became aware of certain vulnerabilities in EAS encoder/decoder devices that, if not updated to most recent software versions, could allow an actor to issue EAS alerts over the host infrastructure (TV, radio, cable network),” the DHS's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) warned. “This exploit was successfully demonstrated by Ken Pyle, a security researcher at CYBIR.com, and may be presented as a proof of concept at the upcoming DEFCON 2022 conference in Las Vegas, August 11-14.”
Pyle told reporters at CNN and Bleeping Computer that the vulnerabilities reside in the Monroe Electronics R189 One-Net DASDEC EAS, an Emergency Alert System encoder and decoder. TV and radio stations use the equipment to transmit emergency alerts. The researcher told Bleeping Computer that “multiple vulnerabilities and issues (confirmed by other researchers) haven't been patched for several years and snowballed into a huge flaw.”
“When asked what can be done after successful exploitation, Pyle said: ‘I can easily obtain access to the credentials, certs, devices, exploit the web server, send fake alerts via crafts message, have them valid / pre-empting signals at will. I can also lock legitimate users out when I do, neutralizing or disabling a response,’” Bleeping Computer added.
Webmaster addition: Vaccident?
British foreign minister Liz Truss clashed over the future of the economy with former finance minister Rishi Sunak on Thursday as the two contenders to be Britain's next prime minister debated the Bank of England's warnings of a long recession.
Truss is up against Sunak to win the votes of 200,000 members of the Conservative Party who will by Sept. 5 choose a replacement for Boris Johnson, who was forced to resign after a series of scandals.
The Bank of England said on Thursday that Britain faces a protracted recession as energy price-driven inflation squeezes household budgets. Tackling that crisis in the economy will fall to Truss or Sunak in a month's time.
Truss, the frontrunner in the leadership contest, said the central bank's prediction can be changed by cutting taxes. She said the government's decision to raise the tax burden to the highest level since the 1950s was to blame for pushing the economy towards a recession.
The former governor of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vázquez, has been arrested on bribery charges.
She was arrested and charged on Thursday, the Department of Justice said in a press release.
“The alleged bribery scheme rose to the highest levels of the Puerto Rican government, threatening public trust in our electoral processes and institutions of governance,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. said. “The Department of Justice is committed to holding accountable those who wrongly believe there is one rule of law for the powerful and another for the powerless. No one is above the rule of law.”
“According to the indictment, from December 2019 through June 2020, then-Governor of Puerto Rico Wanda Vazquez Garced, 62, of San Juan, allegedly engaged in a bribery scheme with various individuals, including Julio Martin Herrera Velutini, Frances Diaz, Mark Rossini, and John Blakeman to finance Vazquez Garced’s 2020 gubernatorial election campaign,” the DOJ said.
Ballot papers for the leadership of the Conservative and Unionist Party arrive in the post this week, and they do so at a defining moment for Britain.
We face immense challenges at home, with a cost of living crisis, sclerotic economic growth, the highest tax burden in 70 years, and sections of our society that are determined to talk down Britain and erode free speech.
Abroad, the free world is facing a belligerent Russia and emboldened China, which is testing our collective resolve in a way we have not seen since the Cold War.
I have put myself forward for the leadership of our great party and to be the next prime minister, because I believe I am the right person to tackle these challenges head on and lead Britain through turbulent times, and into a new era of success and prosperity.
In a bid to solve delays in the country’s airports, Germany is to do what it does best: bring in more migrants, mostly from Turkey.
Germany is looking to employ its solution of import more migrants again in the coming weeks, with state authorities this time seeing the prospect of bringing in foreign labour as the way of solving delays at the country’s airports.
Likely to be in the country sometime around mid-August, the number of new arrivals will pale in comparison to the amount some ministers aim to bring in over the coming months and years, with one Minister having previously demanded that the country “immediately” allow in as many migrants as possible who are willing and able to work.
According to a report by Der Spiegel, around 250 migrants, mainly sourced from Turkey, are to be brought in to the country to man posts in Nuremberg, Munich and Frankfurt airport, all of which have seen travellers beset with significant delays.
Japanese leaders' recent actions on Taiwan question are not friendly and have disappointed China very much, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press conference on Friday, noting that some countries are making groundless accusations against China and spreading disinformation and Japan is among those taking "very wrong actions."
On Friday, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a meeting with the Japanese leader Fumio Kishida, during which Kishida strongly criticized China's military drills for it "threatened Japan" and "impacted peace and stability" of the region, Kyodo News reported.
At Friday's press conference, Kyodo News asked Hua about State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's leaving his seat with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as Japan criticized China's military drills and Russia's conflict with Ukraine on a ministerial meeting with ASEAN in Phnom Penh on Friday.
Hua noted that certain countries made groundless accusations against China during the ministerial meeting with ASEAN members, while the majority of countries expressed understanding on China. Wang refuted disinformation and defended justice at the site.
Chinese officials summoned U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns in the middle of the night for a meeting to protest Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip to Taiwan.
Burns was summoned to appear by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng, who is specifically in charge of managing China's relationship with the United States.
In the summons, Xie stressed the 'nature of Pelosi's visit is extremely vicious and the consequence is very grave. The Chinese side will not sit idly by,' Chinese state media reported.
Xie said President Joe Biden's government should have 'restrained Pelosi's unscrupulous move and prevented her from going against the historical trend but instead indulged her and colluded with her.'
'China will take necessary and resolute countermeasures and we mean what we say,' Xie said.
This is the summer before the storm. Make no mistake, with energy prices set to rise to unprecedented highs, we are approaching one of the biggest geopolitical earthquake in decades. The ensuing convulsions are likely to be of a far greater order of magnitude than those that followed the 2008 financial crash, which sparked protests culminating in the Occupy Movement and the Arab Spring.
The gathering crisis could prove even more catastrophic than the oil shock of the 1970s, which wrecked the administrations of three British prime ministers, presaged 40 years of American entanglement in the Middle East, and (due to the oil glut that followed) ultimately triggered the Soviet Union’s collapse.
Carnage has already arrived in the developing world, with power outages from Cuba to South Africa. Sri Lanka is just one of a cascade of low-income countries where leaders face being driven out of power in an ignominious blaze of petrol droughts and loan defaults.
But the West is not going to escape this Armageddon. In fact, in many ways, it looks set to be its epicentre – and Britain, its Ground Zero.
The Defense Department wiped the phones of top departing DOD and Army officials at the end of the Trump administration, deleting any texts from key witnesses to events surrounding the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, according to court filings.
The acknowledgment that the phones from the Pentagon officials had been wiped was first revealed in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit American Oversight brought against the Defense Department and the Army. The watchdog group is seeking January 6 records from former acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, former chief of staff Kash Patel, and former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, among other prominent Pentagon officials – having filed initial FOIA requests just a few days after the Capitol attack.
Miller, Patel and McCarthy have all been viewed as crucial witnesses for understanding government’s response to the January 6 Capitol assault and former President Donald Trump’s reaction to the breach. All three were involved in the Defense Department’s response to sending National Guard troops to the US Capitol as the riot was unfolding. There is no suggestion that the officials themselves erased the records.
The government’s assertion in the filings that the officials’ text messages from that day were not preserved is the latest blow to the efforts to bring transparency to the events of January 6. It comes as the Department of Homeland Security is also under fire for the apparent loss of messages from the Secret Service that day.
The US and Russia have indicated they are ready to hold talks over a prisoner swap, a day after basketball star Brittney Griner was convicted of drug smuggling and sentenced to nine years in prison for carrying less than a gram of cannabis oil through a Moscow airport.
Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters in Cambodia that the Kremlin is “ready to discuss this topic, but within the framework of the channel that has been agreed by the presidents,” state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
“There is a specified channel that has been agreed upon by [Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden], and no matter what anyone says publicly, this channel will remain in effect,” Lavrov reportedly said Friday at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.
Shortly later, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the same summit that the US will “pursue” talks with Russia.
The killing of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri by the United States may prompt al Qaeda supporters to target U.S. facilities or citizens with the potential for more anti-American violence, the State Department warned on Tuesday.
"Following al-Zawahiri’s death, supporters of al- Qa’ida, or its affiliated terrorist organizations, may seek to attack U.S. facilities, personnel, or citizens," the State Department said in a Worldwide Caution Update. "The Department of State believes there is a higher potential for anti-American violence given the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri on July 31, 2022."
Webmaster addition: Given that Zawahiri was already dead, this may be propaganda for a coming false-flag attack!
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has furiously lashed out at Amnesty International after it accused his forces of violating international law and endangering civilians in their defence against Russia's on-going invasion.
In a report on Thursday, Amnesty listed incidents in 19 cities and towns in which Ukrainian forces appeared to have put civilians in harm's way by establishing bases in residential areas - findings Zelensky equated to victim blaming.
The rights group, he said, had sought to offer 'amnesty (to) the terrorist state and shift the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim'.
Small business confidence has hit a new low, according to the results of a new survey released jointly by CNBC and Survey Monkey Wednesday.
The third-quarter survey found 57% of small business owners believe the United States is already in a recession, while another 14% believe the country's economy will be in a recession by the end of this year.
Continually-rising inflation was a major concern for business owners. Of those surveyed, 77% expect inflation to continue to rise, and just 26% have confidence in the Federal Reserve's ability to control inflation.
Inflation is the biggest risk to their business right now, according to 43% of those surveyed. That figure is up from 38% in the second quarter and represents a new high-water mark over the past year.
The U.S. is running out of time to prevent a cataclysmic war in the Western Pacific. While the world has been focused on Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, Xi Jinping appears to be preparing for an even more consequential onslaught against Taiwan. Mr. Xi’s China is fueled by a dangerous mix of strength and weakness: Faced with profound economic, demographic and strategic problems, it will be tempted to use its burgeoning military power to transform the existing order while it still has the opportunity.
This peaking-power syndrome—the tendency for rising states to become more aggressive as they become more fearful of impending decline—has caused some of the bloodiest wars in history. Unless the U.S. and its allies act quickly, it could trigger a conflict that would make the war in Ukraine look minor by comparison.
A jury in Austin, Texas, ordered Alex Jones to pay $4.1 million in compensatory damages to the parents who lost children in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School who sued the InfoWars host for defamation.
Jurors must still decide how much in punitive damages is owed to Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, who died in the attack, according to the Associated Press.
Jones was sued by the parents after the radio host and conspiracy theorist said the Sandy Hook massacre, the deadliest mass shooting at a U.S. elementary school, was “completely fake” and a “giant hoax” during a 2017 radio show. Opening statements and testimony for the trial began last week, and the jury broke for deliberations on Wednesday.
Hardline Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban received a hero's welcome at a major conservative conference in Texas on Thursday, as he urged the American right to learn from his multiple election successes.
He implored his audience not to pull their punches in a culture war with globalizing liberals.
And he described how Hungarian state institutions defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
But he made no mention of the racism controversy that followed him to the U.S., after he promised to prevent Hungary becoming a 'mixed race' nation.
Instead he said supporters needed to trust their Judeo-Christian tradition and face down criticism from opponents in uncompromising style.
'We have to be brave enough to address even the most sensitive questions, migration, gender and the clash of civilizations,' he told the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas.
'Don't worry, a Christian politician cannot be racist.
Plant-based Beyond Meat is facing major headwinds - despite curiosity from some people looking for a meat alternative amid the Covid pandemic's meat packing plant shutdowns.
Multiple industry analysts are sounding warning bells of impending disaster as the company comes off a $100 million net loss in May and sees multi-year partnerships with brands like McDonald's and Taco Bell prompt lackluster enthusiasm - as its stock has dropped 74 percent in the last year.
May’s report was just the latest admission that Beyond Meat isn’t meeting the lofty expectations it set just a few years ago. The company acknowledged it has 'a history of losses, and we may be unable to achieve or sustain profitability' for the foreseeable future in its latest report.
More New York City families are foregoing traditional public schools in favor of homeschooling, state data analyzed by The Post shows.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Big Apple homeschool students has more than doubled, to roughly 12,900 kids, according to the data.
The surge in city parents opting to homeschool coincides with a nationwide trend sparked by the pandemic — one that has continued even with the return of in-person classes.
“I like being engaged and involved in their lives,” said Julie Kvyatkovsky, a single mom of 9 year old twin daughters in Brooklyn, who shifted to homeschool after a disastrous foray into remote learning.
In April of this year, the US government started the largest wildfire in New Mexico’s history. The fires were set by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) — ironically to reduce wildfire risk — but having the opposite of their intended effect.
Thanks to several acts of incompetence, neglect, and ignorance, the controlled burn morphed into a catastrophic blaze that engulfed over 530 square miles of mostly privately owned forests and meadows, while destroying 432 homes as well. Now, after burning down their homes and land, the state is demanding the victims pay for the damage themselves — despite previous reassurances that they would be given support.
“Today I’m announcing the federal government’s covering 100% of the cost,” President Joe Biden said after he visited the state in June. But, like so many words uttered from the mounts of US presidents, that was not true.
FEMA has so far granted $4.2 million to the 1,164 fire survivors, marking an average payout of $3,600. To one of the hundreds of folks who lost their home, this is a kick in the teeth.
Daniel Hale, dressed in a khaki uniform, his hair cut short and sporting a long, neatly groomed brown beard, is seated behind a plexiglass screen, speaking into a telephone receiver at the federal prison in Marion, Illinois.
I hold a receiver on the other side of the plexiglass and listen as he describes his journey from working for the National Security Agency and the Joint Special Operations Task Force at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to becoming federal prisoner 26069-075.
Hale, a 34-year-old former Air Force signals intelligence analyst, is serving a 45-month prison sentence, following his conviction under the Espionage Act for disclosing classified documents about the U.S. military’s drone assassination program and its high civilian death toll.
The documents are believed to be the source material for “The Drone Papers” published by The Intercept, on Oct. 15, 2015.
These documents revealed that between January 2012 and February 2013, U.S. special operations drone airstrikes killed more than 200 people — of which only 35 were the intended targets. According to the documents, over one five-month period of the operation, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. The civilian dead, usually innocent bystanders, were routinely classified as “enemies killed in action.”
Beijing has cancelled a bilateral meeting between the Chinese and the Japanese foreign ministers in Phnom Penh over a G7 joint statement on Taiwan, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing on Thursday.
"China is no longer planning to hold a meeting in Phnom Penh between the foreign ministers of China and Japan after the Japanese side published a statement jointly with its G7 and EU partners to express ungrounded criticism. The facts are distorted in the statement, besides, it justifies US moves in violation of China’s sovereignty. The people of China are highly displeased with this," she said.
On Wednesday, the Group of Seven foreign ministers expressed their concern about China’s recent moves, in particular about the country’s military drills around Taiwan. This risks increasing tensions, G7 warned.
In May, Rand Paul, the junior senator from Kentucky, held up a vote on a bill which sought to approve some $40 billion in aid for Ukraine. Paul wanted language inserted into the bill, without a vote, that would have an inspector general scrutinize the new spending.
“This would be the inspector general that’s been overseeing the waste in Afghanistan,” Paul said, “and has done a great job.”
“[w]hile much attention has been placed on Paul holding up the aid legislation, the more important issue is why are so many senators against ensuring that billions of taxpayer dollars aren’t being misused?”
One of the senators who took umbrage over Paul’s actions was the senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer. Speaking from the floor of the Senate chamber, the senior senator from New York declared that “it is repugnant that one member of the other side, the junior senator from Kentucky, chose to make a show and obstruct Ukraine funding.”
Schumer added that Paul’s actions served to “strengthen [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s hand.”
What Schumer didn’t say was that an inspector general, mandated to oversee how U.S. taxpayer money authorized under the bill in question (the Additional Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2022, which became Public Law 117-128 on May 21), would have exposed the role that U.S. funds played to exact political revenge on the man who tried to inject a modicum of accountability into how monies appropriated by Congress are spent, namely Rand Paul.
On August 4, the People’s Militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic reported that more than 300 shells, including those equipped with PMF-1 (Lepestok) anti-personnel mines, were fired from the Ukrainian side on the territory of the Republic.
As of 9 p.m. on August 4, 20 civilians suffered from the explosions on PFM mines. One of the injured died in hospital as a result of the injury.
On August 4, the AFU shelled the center of the city of Donetsk. One of the attacks targeted the drama theater, where the farewell to the colonel of the People’s Militia of the DPR Olga Kachura (known by the call sign Korsa) took place. She was killed a day before in Gorlovka.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IED) have announced the reactivation of the Israeli Air Force 144th Phoenix Squadron, revealing that it will operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) and deploy new and advanced technologies focused on intelligence collection.
The original Phoenix squadron was established in 1972 as a combat squadron that flew Kfir and F-16 fighter jets over the years. In 2005 the squadron was closed. Now re-established as an RPAS squadron, it will operate out of the Hazor base in northern Israel.
The Phoenix squadron will be the first to operate the “Spark,” a new and advanced aircraft, which is a part of the “Storm Clouds” array that will be established in the IDF. The exact nature of these systems remains classified.
During a launching ceremony on August 1, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Col. Aviv Kochavi said the new squadron is “more innovative in all its forms of operation, as a squadron has never been established in the Air Force for multi-armed needs.”