Friday, October 19, 2018

Boy, 11, hacks voting website, changes results in 10 minutes at Las Vegas convention

This year's highlight of the DEFCON hacker conference was the voting village. The event created nearly real scenarios where people hacked into voting machines, changed results and hacked into replicas of state voting websites.

The event culminated in a group of kids, ages eight to 16 hacking into and changing election results on a replica of a state voting website. Emmett Brewer, 11, hacked the site in less than 10 minutes. An eight-year-old girl also did it, in 15 minutes.

Jake Braun, Executive Director of Cyber Policy initiative at the University of Chicago said he doesn't understand why people are not taking the threat against our elections seriously. Braun is also the co-founder of the Voting Village at DEFCON.

"[President] Trump's czar of cyber security was there, and he said, 'I'm glad you guys are doing this because we know our adversaries are doing this same thing.'"

When the children broke into the election websites, they were able to change party names, candidate names and change vote tallies. One hacker changed the name of a candidate to 'Bob da Builder' and gave him 12 billion votes.

Braun said since the 2016 elections, Congress has done nothing to safeguard our election process.

"[The Voting Village] is something we need to be working on every day of every year, not just once a year for a few days at a conference."

To protect elections, Braun said polling places need to first be using paper ballots. Second, he said there needs to be a way to monitor websites to see if they have been hacked. Braun also said the country needs to be investing around $5 billion to safeguard voting systems if elections going to be using them.

While the Voting Village highlighted a lot of problems, Braun said it also highlighted an encouraging future.

"When you walk around DEFCON it's very male-dominated, but almost half of the kid hackers were girls. I hope it's a sign the future of our industry is changing for the better."

The National Association of Secretaries of State disagreed with the findings from DEFCON's Voting Village. We are also concerned that creating “mock” election office networks and voter registration databases for participants to defend and/or hack is also unrealistic. It would be extremely difficult to replicate these systems since many states utilize unique networks and custom-built databases with new and updated security protocols. The NASS also said it would be willing to work with civic-minded hackers on the problem.



Dem Operative Arrested in Nevada After Assaulting Female GOP Staffer

The Minnesota Democratic Party has suspended a spokesman for calling for violence against Republicans even as two GOP candidates have been assaulted in suspected politically motivated attacks.

The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party has suspended communications staffer William Davis for one week without pay after making a Facebook post joking that Democrats would "bring [Republicans] to the guillotine" on Nov. 7, the day after the midterm elections.

Minnesota Republican Party chairman Jennifer Carnahan said the suspension was not enough, calling for his immediate firing in the aftermath of separate attacks against Republican candidates. She said she has been subjected to numerous death threats during her tenure as the state party leader and that death threats are no laughing matter.

"The overt hatred and violence that has become prevalent from many Democrats towards Republicans in recent times is unlawful, unacceptable, and downright scary," she said in an email. "Yes, we have free speech and the right to peacefully assemble, but these words and actions by the left have gone too far. … He should have been terminated immediately."

DFL officials did not respond to request for comment.

The suspension came days after Minnesota state representative Sarah Anderson was punched in the arm after spotting a man destroying Republican yard signs. She said the attack left her scared, and her attacker only desisted when she fled to her car and threw it in reverse.

"It was just insane. He was charging at me, saying, ‘Why don't you go kill yourself?'" Anderson told the Washington Free Beacon. "To have someone physically coming after you and attacking you is just disheartening."

The Plymouth Police Department investigation into Rep. Anderson's alleged assault remains ongoing. A spokeswoman confirmed the department had identified a suspect, but declined further comment.

Anderson was not the only GOP candidate attacked. First-time state representative candidate Shane Mekeland suffered a concussion after getting sucker punched while speaking with constituents at a restaurant in Benton County. Mekeland told the Free Beacon he has suffered memory loss—forgetting Rep. Anderson's name at one point in the interview—and doctors tell him he will have a four-to-six week recovery time ahead of him. He said he was cold cocked while sitting at a high top table at a local eatery and hit his head on the floor.

"I was so overtaken by surprise and shock and if this is the new norm, this is not what I signed up for," he said.

Benton County Sheriff Troy Heck told the Free Beacon that his department has interviewed the alleged assailant. Investigators are awaiting medical records about the extent of Mekeland's injuries before referring the case to the local district attorney's office. He expects those results to come in the next week.

Mekeland said he was disappointed that he had not seen Democrats condemn the attack against him, but was floored to see the party take such a light approach to Davis's comments. "He's a political staffer so you'd think if anybody should know boundaries, I think that'd be it," he said.

Anderson was equally harsh about the DFL's response, calling it "incredibly irresponsible."

"This is exactly what incites people to violence. … It's why you have somebody who goes and attacks me on Sunday just because we have different political beliefs," she said.

The alleged assaults have both candidates weighing changes in their approach to campaigning in closing days of the race. Mekeland was unable to leave the house to knock on doors due to his sensitivity to sunlight on Tuesday. He said he and his volunteers will only travel in pairs for the rest of the campaign to ensure they are not alone during such visits, which will limit the ground they cover. Anderson said she has gotten offers from her husband and other volunteers to escort her around the district. She pledged to keep knocking on doors until Election Day.

"I refuse to be bullied and intimidated," she said. "You can’t let this stop you from reaching out and talking to voters."



A Revolution Is Under Way in America

By Tucker Carlson 

The aftermath of the 2016 election is recognizable to any parent who has argued with a child. Everything’s fine until the kid loses interest in what you think. Once it becomes clear the child really doesn’t care about your stupid rules, you lose it and start screaming. The less control you have, the more hysterical you become.

Dying regimes are the same way. They get more repressive as they fade. As their power ebbs, rulers lash out against dissent and disobedience. Deposed Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceau┼čescu barked orders at his guards as they led him to the firing squad.

Our leaders understood Donald Trump’s election as a direct challenge to their power. They’ve been fretting about his authoritarian tendencies ever since. Because they lack self-awareness, they don’t perceive this as projection. They can’t see that they’re actually talking about themselves.

Let’s say you were an authoritarian who sought to weaken American democracy. How would you go about doing that? You’d probably start by trying to control what people say and think. If citizens dissented from the mandated orthodoxy, or dared to consider unauthorized ideas, then you’d hurt them. You’d shame them on social media. You’d shout them down in public. You’d get them fired from their jobs. You’d make sure everyone was afraid to disagree with you.

After that, you’d work to disarm the population: You’d take away their guns. That way, they would be entirely dependent on you for safety, not to mention unable to resist your plans for them. Then, just to make sure you’d quelled all opposition, you’d systematically target any institution that might oppose or put brakes on your power. You’d be especially concerned about churches, the family and independent businesses. You’d be sure to undermine and crush those, using laws and relentless propaganda.

If, despite all this, election results still didn’t go your way, you’d use an unelected bureaucracy to neuter any leader you hadn’t handpicked yourself. But you’d be shaken by an election like that. You’d resolve never to allow one again. To make sure of that, you’d work tirelessly to replace the old and ungrateful population with a new and more obedient one. That’s what you’d do.

Sound familiar? For all of his many faults, Trump isn’t doing any of that. Our ruling class is.

It’s probably a fruitless exercise on their part. The status quo is over. A revolution is on the way.

Hopefully, it’ll be the kind of low-grade revolution where everybody learns something and nobody gets hurt. But it will be wrenching either way, because revolutions always are. This used to be a placid country. It’s not anymore, and won’t be for a while.

What went wrong?

The disaster began when almost everyone in power joined the same team. You used to hear debates between Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, on issues that mattered to the rest of the country. That’s over. Our public debates are mostly symbolic. They are sideshows designed to divert attention from the fact that those who make the essential decisions, about the economy and the government and war, have reached consensus on the fundamentals. They agree with each other.

They just don’t agree with the population they govern.

Left and right are no longer meaningful categories in America. The rift is between those who benefit from the status quo and those who don’t. That’s rarely acknowledged in public, which is convenient for those who are benefiting. The people in charge are free to pursue policies that are disconnected from the public good but that have, not coincidentally, made them richer, more powerful and much more self-satisfied.

But not more impressive. Our leaders are fools, unaware that they are captains of a sinking ship.



Jeff Sessions rips federal judges over anti-Trump bias

Attorney General Jeff Sessions unleashed a blistering assault on federal judges Monday, saying anti-Trump bias has led some to abandon their role as legal referees and become “political actors” erecting roadblocks to the president’s policies.

In unusually stark language, Mr. Sessions suggested judges could soon face “calls for their replacement” if they don’t cool it.

He blasted one judge who called the president’s policy toward illegal immigrants “heartless,” and said another judge put “the inner workings of a Cabinet secretary’s mind” on trial to pave a path to block the government from asking about citizenship on the 2020 census.

“Once we go down this road in American government, there is no turning back,” Mr. Sessions said in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation. “We are seeing it in case after case. When a hot-button policy issue ends up in litigation, judges are starting to believe their role is to examine the entire process that led to the policy decision — to redo the entire political debate in their courtrooms.

Just ahead of the speech Mr. Sessions told The Washington Times that he saw anti-Trump resistance at play in some of the judges’ moves.

“I have to say I think some of it is,” he said. “I regret saying that, but I’m afraid it’s true in some of these cases and if so, it’s very wrong.”

He added that unfair intervention from judges has left the administration in legal tangles, forcing the president to fight senseless and distracting cases.

“He has monumental responsibilities and no court without serious cause should interrupt the function of government. It takes untold hours and time to deal with these things. It slows up multiple agencies of government,” the attorney general told The Times.

Judges have been divided in their approach to Mr. Trump.

Some have delved into his Twitter account or looked back at statements he made during the campaign, citing them as evidence that justifies halting policy decisions made by Cabinet secretaries elsewhere in government.

Others, including a majority of justices on the Supreme Court in this year’s ruling upholding the president’s travel limits, looked chiefly at the policies themselves, saying that’s the crux of their judiciary’s role in the government overall.

In that case the majority in the 5-4 ruling said Mr. Trump was on firm national security grounds. The dissenters disagreed, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor saying the president overstepped security powers and illegally targeted Muslims.

Mr. Sessions didn’t mention that case, but most of the ones he did single out Monday stemmed from immigration-related fights.

He chided one judge who earlier this month issued an injunction blocking Homeland Security from phasing out special Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of migrants from El Salvador, Haiti and elsewhere.

Federal law says the Homeland Security secretary’s TPS decisions cannot be reviewed by courts, but the judge ruled he was reviewing the process by which the secretary reached the decision, not the decision itself.

One crux of his decision was Mr. Trump’s reported use of an insult to describe El Salvador and some African countries during a closed-door immigration meeting earlier this year, which U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen, an Obama appointee, said showed “animus” that could have poisoned the administration’s entire decision-making process.

In his speech Monday, Mr. Sessions also criticized U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who last year during a hearing told a Justice Department he couldn’t defend a policy “that is so heartless.”

Mr. Sessions criticized the judge at the time, telling him to stick to rulings on the law, not to opine about his political beliefs. The judge fired back, saying Mr. Sessions seemed “to think the courts cannot have an opinion.”

The attorney general replied Monday evening that “of course a judge can have political and policy opinions. But they should decide legal questions based on the law and the facts — not their policy preferences.”

Mr. Sessions said that when Congress fails to act, that is a decision. And courts cannot step in to do what Congress has decided not to do.

He called that “judicial encroachment,” and said it has become so bad that judges are trying to rehash the full decision-making of administrative actors in their courtrooms.

As part of that, judges are increasingly allowing intrusive legal “discovery” — the process of delving into records and decision-making to let judges review not just the final decision, but the way it was made.

Mr. Sessions said demanding handwritten notes from Cabinet secretaries or, in a case now before the Supreme Court, ordering the Commerce secretary to be deposed in the Census citizenship question case, goes too far.

“The Census question — which has appeared in one form or another on the Census for over a hundred years — is either legal or illegal,” the attorney general said. “The words on the page don’t have a motive; they are either permitted or they are not. But the judge has decided to hold a trial over the inner workings of a Cabinet secretary’s mind.”

He said it would be the equivalent of forcing judges to reveal their conversations with their law clerks when they were deciding what to write in their opinions, or forcing members of Congress to divulge their discussions with their staffers.

“Subjecting the executive branch to this kind of discovery is unacceptable. We intend to fight this and we intend to win,” Mr. Sessions said.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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