Dowd Quits

March 22, 2018 1:56 pm In Courts/Law, L'Affaire Russe, Trump & Administration
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]John Dowd has quit as the lead of Trump's legal team. Dowd's departure comes days after Trump called for an end to Robert Mueller's inquiry and days after Dowd said the investigation should end, initially claiming he was speaking for Trump before saying he was only speaking for himself. Trump's attorneys are in negotiations with the special counsel's team over a potential interview with Trump. It is not clear who will take over the legal team. Although he gave no reason for leaving, it is largely believed it has something to do with (a) the client (Trump) not listening to legal advice and/or (b) the hiring of "conspiracy theorist" attorney Joseph E. diGenova. Here's a CNN reporter tweet: Robert Bennett also said "no".[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Austin Bomber Dead – Detonated Bomb On Himself As Police Closed In

March 21, 2018 10:29 am In Crime
The suspect in a spate of bombings that terrorized residents of Austin, Texas, died early Wednesday after detonating an explosive inside his vehicle as a SWAT team tried to apprehend him on the side of a highway, officials said. Authorities had tracked the suspect — a 24-year-old white man — to a hotel in Round Rock, a city in the Austin metropolitan area, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said at a news conference. Police were able to locate Conditt using a variety of tactics, including cellphone triangulation. Surveillance footage taken at an Austin FedEx was also used to apprehend him. Authorities shared the surveillance footage showing a man believed to be Conditt entering a FedEx facility wearing what appeared to be a blonde wig and dropping off a package. Early Wednesday, police tracked Conditt's vehicle until he pulled over on Interstate 35 and "the suspect detonated a bomb inside the vehicle, knocking one of our SWAT officers back," Manley said, adding that the officer sustained minor injuries. Another member of the SWAT team fired and, as is standard practice, has been placed on administrative duty while the investigation continues, Manley said. "The suspect is deceased and has significant injuries from a blast that occurred from detonating a bomb inside his vehicle," he added. He was identified as Mark Anthony Conditt. It is unknown if he was acting alone. "This is the culmination of three very long weeks for our community," Manley said. "We don't know where the suspect has spent his last 24 hours, and therefore we still need to remain vigilant to ensure no other packages or devices have been left in the community." ATF Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski told reporters that officials were "concerned that there may still be other devices out there."

Updates On Cambridge Analytica

March 20, 2018 11:14 am In Crime, Cybersecurity, Election 2016, L'Affaire Russe, Local Interest, Social Networking, Trump & Administration
(1)  Score one for the Democrats on the House Intel Committee
The whistleblower who publicly revealed how Trump-affiliated data firm Cambridge Analytica used information mined from Facebook under false pretenses during the 2016 election cycle will give an interview to Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee as part of their investigation of Russian interference in the election, including possible ties to Donald Trump’s campaign. A lawyer for Christopher Wylie confirmed Tuesday that Wylie plans to accept the invitation from the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.). Schiff said Monday that panel Democrats want to talk to Wylie to determine where and how the Facebook data was stored and used, and whether others — including Russian operatives — had access to it. “Indeed, it may be that through Cambridge Analytica, the Trump campaign made use of illegitimately-acquired data on millions of Americans to help sway the election,” Schiff said in a statement. Democrats on the House panel vowed last week to continue to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, despite the committee’s Republican leaders announcing that they had completed a draft report about the panel’s findings. The panel is expected to approve a final version of that report Thursday, although it will not be released publicly until the intelligence community reviews it and makes any necessary redactions. House Democrats do not have independent power to subpoena witnesses to testify. But Wylie has been outspoken about how Cambridge Analytica — a company he helped build, according to a profile in the Guardian — planned to use the Facebook users’ data and an algorithm to build “psychographic” profiles that could be used to predict the political leanings of every potential American voter. Facebook gave permission to University of Cambridge psychologist Aleksandr Kogan to access information on 270,000 users of the social media site to help build a quiz app called “thisisyourdigitallife.” But the app’s reach went much further, ultimately allowing Kogan to access data on 50 million users. The information was passed on to Cambridge Analytica and Wylie, breaking the terms struck with Facebook for access to the data. Facebook found out about the events in 2015, but was told that Cambridge Analytica, Wylie and Kogan had deleted the data. Several days ago, Facebook discovered that they had not. Last year, the House Intelligence Committee spoke with Wylie’s former boss Alexander Nix — the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica — by videoconference, as Nix is located in London. Schiff stressed in his invitation to Wylie that his accounts of Cambridge Analytica’s data operations “raise serious questions about the veracity of the testimony” Nix gave to the committee.
This is gratifying for a couple of reasons. First, and most obviously, we might get some information on any Russia connection (Kogan being well-connected to Russia). Secondly, it demonstrates how the Republicans on the House Intel Committee forced a premature ending to their investigation of Trump-Russia collusion. Might the Cambridge Analytica avenue be a dead end?  Perhaps. But it needs investigating, and since the House Intel Committee already saw fit to interview Nix, then Wylie's testimony is also relevant. (2) North Carolina GOP REALLY had ties to Cambridge Analytica
The North Carolina Republican party and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) paid the controversial British data firm Cambridge Analytica $345,000 for a direct mail campaign and consulting work, the News & Observer reported Monday. Cambridge Analytica, which the Trump campaign used during the 2016 election, has recently come under fire after reports that it illegally obtained the private Facebook profiles of 50 million people, but there is no indication that the firm used any data from the breach in their work with the North Carolina Republicans. The firm consulted Tillis on his successful 2014 campaign. Dallas Woodhouse, the state’s GOP executive director, said the firm did not work on social media for the party and that the party does not plan to hire them again. Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica on Friday following reports that it had violated its privacy policy. An undercover investigation by London’s Channel 4 secretly filmed the CEO of the firm saying that he used bribes and sex workers to entrap politicians in compromising situations. Cambridge Analytica has denied using bribes, entrapment "or so-called honey-traps” and said that it did not use data harvested from Facebook profiles for the Trump campaign. The firm has also said that, contrary to reports, it deleted all the Facebook data it had accumulated.
Yup. North Carolina GOP was one of CA's biggest non-presidential race clients. In fact, the NC GOP was the only state party client of Cambridge Analytica. It was the firm's fourth-largest client in 2014.  These are the payments to CA from June 2014 to December 2016, according to FEC filings. I wish we could find out exactly what it was FOR, but given the NC GOP's penchant for minority voter suppression, I can give an educated guess.

Austin Targeted By Fifth (and Possibly Sixth) Bomb

March 20, 2018 10:19 am In Crime
Austin, Texas, which has been rocked by a series of bomb explosions in recent weeks, is still under heavy threat with two bombs found at different FedEx facilities in Texas. Overnight, there was an explosion at a FedEx facility just outside of San Antonio. A package that was to be sent to Austin transferred from one conveyor belt to another, setting it off. The package’s origin was also Austin, Texas. Via CBS:
The San Antonio Texas Fire Department said a package bomb apparently bound for Austin exploded at a FedEx distribution center in Schertz, Texas, hurting one person, a FedEx employee who apparently suffered a non-life-threatening “percussion-type” injury from the blast. An FBI agent told CBS News “it’s more than possible” the package is related to explosions that have occurred in Austin in recent days. The package exploded shortly after midnight on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a possible sixth package has also been found at a FedEx facility, this one in the Austin airport. This from the AP:
Austin police have deployed a hazardous materials squad to a FedEx shipping facility near the city’s airport to investigate reports of a suspicious package. It isn’t known yet if the suspicious package is linked to a bomb that detonated earlier Tuesday at a FedEx distribution center near San Antonio or the four bombs that have gone off in Austin this month. But the Austin Police Department says an investigation is underway.
There is no confirmation at this time whether or not the package at the city airport is actually a bomb, but local authorities are taking no chances in the wake of the previous attacks in the city. There’s also no confirmation at this time of any suspects in the bombings or any motivations whatsoever.

Another High School Shooting

March 20, 2018 10:16 am In Crime, Education, Gun Control
Initial reports of the shooting came after classes at Great Mills began at 8 a.m. ET. About 1,600 students attend the school.

More Bombs In Austin

March 19, 2018 3:00 pm In Crime, Race
What's going on?
Residents of a southwest Austin neighborhood were told to stay inside early Monday after a fourth explosion in less than a month hit Texas' capital, injuring two men and stoking fears in a city already on edge. The latest blast occurred Sunday just after 8:30 p.m. local time (9:30 p.m. ET). Two bicyclists who are believed to be in their 20s sustained injuries that were not life-threatening, officials said. The two men came across a suspicious device on the side of the road, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said during a late-night news conference. Unlike the prior explosions, the one Sunday may have been triggered by a tripwire, according to Manley. “We will not be able to send school buses into the neighborhood on Monday,” he said. “In addition to that, we're going to ask the residents in the Travis County neighborhood to stay in your homes tomorrow morning and give us the opportunity to process the scene once the sun comes up.” *** Asked Sunday whether the bombings were racially motivated, Manley said it was possible. Police believe the two earlier bombings were "meant to send a message," though Manley didn't say what that message was during a news conference earlier Sunday. The fourth explosion came just hours after officials made a direct appeal to the person responsible to contact them. In that news conference, Manley said that he hoped the bomber was watching and would "reach out to us before anyone else is injured or killed." The plea came as local and federal authorities increased the reward for information leading to a conviction to $100,000, Manley said. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was also offering $15,000. "We don't have any evidence," Manley said. "What we know for certain is: We have three victims that are victims of color, and we have three package bombs that have exploded on the east side of Austin," where many of the city's minority residents live.

Self-Driving Uber Hits And Kills Pedestrian In First-Of-Its-Kind Accident

March 19, 2018 2:18 pm In Courts/Law, Science & Technology
I had my doubts about the technology. I didn't think it is there yet, and this proves it.

Uber has halted testing of its autonomous vehicles across North America, the company announced, after a woman was struck and killed by one of its self-driving cars in Tempe, Ariz. early Monday.

The moratorium on testing includes San Francisco, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Toronto, Uber said.

The National Transportation Safety Board has opened an investigation into the crash, said Eric Weiss, a spokesman for the NTSB.

Uber issued a short statement.

“Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident,” a company spokeswoman said.

It is believed to be the first fatality in any testing program involving autonomous vehicles.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a tweet that the company was working to learn what went wrong.

Well, some reports are already specifying "what went wrong":

The 49 year-old woman, Elaine Herzberg, was crossing the road outside of a crosswalk when the Uber vehicle operating in autonomous mode under the supervision of a human safety driver, struck her, according to the Tempe Police Department. She was transferred to a local hospital where she died from her injuries. "Uber is assisting and this is still an active investigation," Liliana Duran, a Tempe police spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement.
Did you catch that? She crossing the road "outside of a crosswalk". Now, I'm saying that tongue-in-cheek that her jaywalking was "what went wrong", but I have a feeling a lot of tech geeks actually will blame HER for that. I have a degree in human factors (engineering design), and rule number one is that you design the thing to comply with NORMAL human behavior. You can't expect the public to walk between the lines of a crosswalk just because you have designed your machine to work that way.  If you know -- or SHOULD KNOW -- how humans behave, you are liable. Whoever designed this thing, is liable. Period.

Your Facebook Data, Cambridge Analytica, and Russia: Was There Collusion?

March 19, 2018 12:55 pm In Cybersecurity, L'Affaire Russe, Social Networking, Trump & Administration, Voter Suppression
During an interview on TODAY this morning, Christopher Wylie, a former employee of U.K.-based data analytics company Cambridge Analytica, revealed the company worked with two key Trump campaign aides prior to President Donald Trump’s candidacy. “Cambridge Analytica was meeting with Corey Lewandowski in 2015 before Trump had even announced and offering the services that I’m talking about right now,” Wiley said, referring to Trump’s first campaign manager. Wiley also confirmed what a New York Times investigation revealed over the weekend, that Cambridge Analytica “harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission…making it one of the largest data leaks in the social network’s history.” The data obtained through Facebook was used to microtarget specific voters in order to persuade them to vote for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. As Wylie described it Monday morning:
This data was used to create profiling algorithms that would allow us to explore mental vulnerabilities of people and then map out ways to inject information into different streams or channels of content online so that people started to see things that may or may not be true. This is a company that took fake news to the next level.
Not only was that data used for microtargeting voters, Wiley claimed, but by tracking the response to those messages in real time on social media, the firm could advise the campaign where Trump should visit and what words would resonate most with voters in the region. In fact, Steve Bannon, former chief strategist for President Donald Trump and executive chairman of Breitbart News, told Bloomberg in late October of 2016, “I wouldn’t have come aboard, even for Trump, if I hadn’t known they were building this massive Facebook and data engine. Facebook is what propelled Breitbart to a massive audience. We know its power.” Bannon previously served as Cambridge Analytica’s vice president before joining the Trump campaign. Many of its methods were exposed in a recent piece from The Guardian that profiled Wylie, who along with consulting company Strategic Communication Laboratories (which is the parent to Cambridge Analytica) and University of Cambridge professor Dr. Aleksandr Kogan had their accounts suspended by Facebook on Friday night. Facebook is also looking into the ties between one of its employees, Joseph Chancellor, and Global Science Research, a company that helped Cambridge Analytica, according to CNN. Cambridge Analytica, which is backed by billionaire conservative donor Robert Mercer, is already under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for possible connections to Russian interference in the election. It’s also under investigation by the U.K. Parliament for potential violations of data privacy and claims it did illegal work for the pro-Brexit campaign. Facebook, in an unprecedented move Saturday, moved to suspend Cambridge Analytica from the social media site following the bombshell reports about the data breach. Facebook VP and deputy general counsel Paul Grewal has accused the firm of running “a scam and a fraud,” as he described it to the Times. However, he pushed back on claims of a data breach. “The claim that this is a data breach is completely false,” Grewal said in a statement. Wiley was also banned from Facebook this weekend.
One Facebook executive, Andrew Bosworth, took to Twitter to defend his company.
The full extent of Cambridge Analytica’s role in the controversy is unlikely to be known until Mueller completes his investigation.  But the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is looking into the matter. Of note, Nancy LeTourneau at Washington Monthly reports that Cambridge Analtyica and Russian bots used the same strategy to suppress voter turnout -- What Mueller and his team of investigators will be interested in is whether or not there was a connection between this voter profiling with the kind of intrusion into social media he has already included in recent indictments of Russians. One clue that might merely be coincidence is the timing. Here is what we learn from the indictment:
Starting at least in or around 2014, Defendants and their co-conspirators began to track and study groups on U.S. social media sites dedicated to U.S. politics and social issues. In order to gauge the performance of various groups on social media sites, the ORGANIZATION tracked certain metrics like the group’s size, the frequency of content placed by the group, and the level of audience engagement with that content, such as the average number of comments or responses to a post.
According to Christopher Wylie, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower who is the main source for the article linked above, he met Steve Bannon in the fall of 2013 and by 2014 their work was underway. But there is another confluence of events that is even more interesting. Back in October 2016, just days before the election, Joshua Green and Sasha Issenberg did some reporting on the Trump campaign and the work of Cambridge Analytica in particular. Here is how they described their strategy at the time:
Instead of expanding the electorate, Bannon and his team are trying to shrink it. “We have three major voter suppression operations under way,” says a senior official. They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans… On Oct. 24, Trump’s team began placing spots on select African American radio stations. In San Antonio, a young staffer showed off a South Park-style animation he’d created of Clinton delivering the “super predator” line (using audio from her original 1996 sound bite), as cartoon text popped up around her: “Hillary Thinks African Americans are Super Predators.” The animation will be delivered to certain African American voters through Facebook “dark posts”—nonpublic posts whose viewership the campaign controls so that, as Parscale puts it, “only the people we want to see it, see it.” The aim is to depress Clinton’s vote total. “We know because we’ve modeled this,” says the official. “It will dramatically affect her ability to turn these people out.”
Those Facebook “dark posts” seem to be a favorite tool used by Parscale and the Cambridge Analytica consultants. I’d bet that we haven’t even seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of how those were used during the campaign. But compare the above to what the Mueller investigation included in their indictment of the Russian bots.
In or around the latter half of 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through their ORGANIZATION-controlled personas, began to encourage U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate.
In other words, in the final stages of the 2016 election, both the Trump campaign and the Russian bots engaged in a voter suppression strategy with core Clinton supporters. Is it possible that was merely a coincidence? You tell me. No collusion??? The good news is that the spotlight is on this. CNN reports this about Aleksandr Kogan:
The data scientist who gathered information on millions of Americans for Cambridge Analytica, the controversial data firm that worked for Donald Trump's presidential campaign, says he would be happy to testify before Congress and speak to the FBI about the work he did for the company. Aleksandr Kogan made the remarks in an email he sent to colleagues at Cambridge University this weekend that was obtained by CNN. "I've also seriously been asked if the FBI has reached out, if the two congressional committees in the United States have reached out, and if Parliament or any authorities in the UK have reached out. No one has—I suspect they realize I'm actually not a spy. Though if anyone does, I'd be more than happy to testify and speak candidly about the project," he wrote in the email. Kogan's company provided data on millions of Americans to Cambridge Analytica beginning in 2014. The data was gathered through a personality test Facebook application built by Kogan. When Facebook users took the test they gave Kogan access to their data, including demographic information about them like names, locations, ages and genders, as well as their page "likes," and some of their Facebook friends' data. Facebook says that Kogan told them he was gathering the data for academic purposes and that by providing the data to Cambridge Analytica he had breached Facebook policy. On Friday, Facebook suspended both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica from its platform. The suspension came ahead of reporting in The New York Times and The Observer in London on Saturday that alleged Cambridge Analytica may not have deleted the data when it was asked to do so by Facebook in 2015 — a claim Cambridge Analytica denies. "It's been honestly a surreal week," Kogan wrote to his colleagues, "I've been asked quite seriously by reporters from the NY Times and the Guardian if I am a Russian spy. I really tried to explain that one seems just silly. If I am Russian spy, I am the world's dumbest spy." Facebook has accused Kogan of lying about why he was collecting the data, a claim Kogan disputes in the email, writing, "we never claimed during the project that it was for academic research. In fact, we did our absolute best not to have the project have any entanglements with the University."
I'm sure we'll learn more.  And at least one guy is. Using British law, he is suing Cambridge Analytica to get information on... himself. What it is, how it was collected, etc.  See the pleading below: [embeddoc url=""]
Wonder what he will find. And finally, Channel 4 News, a British news program, went undercover as prospective clients to infiltrate Cambridge Analytica and gather evidence of some of the abuses of trust that the company was apparently perpetrating with this stolen data. That is scheduled to air in Englad at 7:00 pm GMT (or 3:00 pm EST, or about 13 minutes from now as I write this). Both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook have threatened lawsuits against Channel 4 News if they air this segment.  Channel 4 has decided to take the chance and go forward with this highly anticipated exposé.

Revealed: Stormy Daniels Wasn’t The Only One Who Signed A Non-Disclosure Agreement With Trump

March 19, 2018 12:21 pm In Constitution, Courts/Law, Trump & Administration
This weekend we learned that in the early months of the administration, at the behest of now-President Trump, who was furious over leaks from within the White House, senior White House staff members were asked to, and did, sign nondisclosure agreements vowing not to reveal confidential information and exposing them to damages for any violation. Some balked at first but, pressed by then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and the White House Counsel’s Office, ultimately complied, concluding that the agreements would likely not be enforceable in any event. A Washington Post reporter continues:
I haven’t been able to lay hands on the final agreement, but I do have a copy of a draft, and it is a doozy. It would expose violators to penalties of $10 million, payable to the federal government, for each and any unauthorized revelation of “confidential” information, defined as “all nonpublic information I learn of or gain access to in the course of my official duties in the service of the United States Government on White House staff,” including “communications . . . with members of the press” and “with employees of federal, state, and local governments.” The $10 million figure, I suspect, was watered down in the final version, because the people to whom I have spoken do not remember that jaw-dropping sum. It would prohibit revelation of this confidential information in any form — including, get this, “the publication of works of fiction that contain any mention of the operations of the White House, federal agencies, foreign governments, or other entities interacting with the United States Government that is based on confidential information.” As outlined in the document, this restriction would cover Trump aides not only during their White House service but also “at all times thereafter.” The document: “I understand that the United States Government or, upon completion of the term(s) of Mr. Donald J. Trump, an authorized representative of Mr. Trump, may seek any remedy available to enforce this Agreement including, but not limited to, application for a court order prohibiting disclosure of information in breach of this Agreement.” This is so ridiculously excessive, so laughably unconstitutional, that I doubted, when it first came my way, that anything like it was ever implemented — only to do some reporting and learn otherwise.
Public employees can’t be gagged by private agreements. These so-called NDAs are unconstitutional and unenforceable. As the article suggests, everyone knew they were unenforceable -- that's why they signed them (you have to pick your battles, I guess).  But this means that the dumbest guy in the room was the President of the United States, who either believed the NDAs were enforceable OR believed that others would believe it.  Either way, he was and is wrong. And even ASKING employees to sign these things is a problem for the administration: Another peril of taking a guy who has never done public service of any kind, and making him president.

March For Our Lives

March 15, 2018 1:49 pm In Crime, Gun Control
More than one million students all over the country staged a walkout at 10:00 am (in their respective time zones) and held vigil for the 17 students killed in Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It was, many thought, the largest student walkout since the days of the civil rights demonstration MSNBC devoted the full hour to the protest, not even breaking for commercials. CNN spent significant time on the story, interviewing students and highlighting the national nature of the movement. Fox News devoted only a couple of brief headline segments to the events. There were moments of silence, die-ins, etc. For the most part, school teachers and administrators were on board with the protest, except in the South where many schools forbid such a walkout.  In one such school, student stopped in the hallway at 10:00, gone on one knee, and prayed silently for 17 seconds.  Nice. A successful day, summed up nicely by one of the Parkland high school shooting survivors. Oh. I should have mentioned.... even younger kids took part.

The Rich Family Sues Fox

March 14, 2018 12:03 am In Courts/Law, Fake News, Right Wing and Inept Media
[embeddoc url="" download="all"]

Breaking: Package Bombs in Austin Texas

March 12, 2018 1:53 pm In Breaking News, Crime
This morning, a package exploded inside of an Austin home, killing a teenager and wounding a woman. The woman is expected to survive. Austin police believe the explosion was linked to a similar bombing on March 2, when a 39-year-old man was killed when a package exploded.  All the victims were black. As this news was coming out, yet a THIRD bomb had gone off in Austin, badly injuring a woman in her 70s. At this time, police would not connect the third bombing to the other two.... ... but something unusual is going on.

Breaking: Shots Fired At Yountvile (Napa Valley, California) Veterans’ Home; Hostages Taken

March 9, 2018 2:49 pm In Breaking News, Crime, Gun Control, Military Issues
Here we go again: The time of those tweets (2:18 pm, 2:16 pm, and 2:04 pm) are EST (my time), but it is 3 hours earlier in California where this is taking place. Here are the early details:
YOUNTVILLE (KRON) - The Veterans Home of California Yountville is on lock down Friday morning after reports of an active shooter who is holding 3 hostages. The Veterans Home tells KRON4 around 10:45 a.m. the entire facility, located at  260 California Dr., was ordered to shelter in place. This is the largest veterans home in the United States, housing about 1,100 men and women. There are preliminary reports of 30 shots fired outside the main dining area. It is unclear if the shots were live rounds, according to an official from the Veteran's Home. California Highway Patrol is on scene.
Many reports the man is acting alone and had body armor. Other reports are saying 3 hostages. Reported gunman at Veterans Home reportedly is 36-year-old man discharged from on-campus Pathway Home two weeks ago. UPDATE: After hours of trying to communicate with the gunman, police sent a robot in. The gunman was dead from a self-inflicted wound, as were the three hostages -- all employees of the Pathway Home. CNN:

The man who killed three hostages at a Northern California veterans' home suffered from bipolar disorder, various physical ailments and anger issues, sources said.

Authorities said that Albert Wong, a 36-year-old Army veteran, used to be a resident of the Pathway Home, the Yountville facility where he engaged police in a standoff Friday. The Pathway Home, which operates out of the Veterans Home of California, is a nonprofit that helps post-9/11 military veterans reintegrate into civilian life, including by counseling clients with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The ordeal ended when police stormed the building and found Wong and three of the facility's employees -- Jennifer Golick, 42, Christine Loeber, 48, and Jennifer Gonzales, 32 -- dead.

Wong had been kicked out of the program after he threatened one of the women, a law enforcement source told CNN. "Whatever happened out there, he didn't say he was going to shoot anybody," Wong's brother, Tyrone Lampkin, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. "He said he wanted to get back at them, talk to them, yell at them, not to kill them. He didn't mention that." Lampkin, who told CNN Wong was his adoptive brother, said they hadn't seen each other since 2010 but communicated via text. Records show Wong was in the Army reserves from October 1998 until December 2002 and served in active duty from May 2010 to August 2013. He was deployed to Afghanistan from April 2011 to March 2012, the records show. Lampkin told CNN Wong seemed OK after his stint in the military. "He talked to us about it, showed us pictures on Facebook, seemed happy, like nothing was wrong," said Lampkin, who lives in Minneapolis. But Wong was dogged by leg and back injuries and struggled with bipolar disorder, Lampkin said. He needed medication for his condition, Lampkin said, but complained that it was ineffective and would go off the drugs because he didn't think they were helping.

March 8, 2018 4:06 pm In Crime, Cybersecurity, Election 2018, Science & Technology, Wiretapping & Surveillance
This is torn from the blog of John Bambenek, a security analyst and Republican candidate for Illinois State Senate, about his conversations with Guccifer 2.0 (G2).  The post is entitled MY CONVERSATIONS WITH GUCCIFER 2.0 & THE SURPRISING ELECTION INFLUENCE OPERATIONS.
As attention turns to threats facing 2018's midterm elections, we're learning hard lessons from what went down in 2016. (Plus, what we can except coming up) There were many aspects to my research and human intelligence operation exploring what exactly was going on behind the scenes, but this article focuses on only one, Guccifer 2.0. So, there were lots of 2016 election related incidents. Just to name a few:
  • DNC got hacked
  • DCCC got hacked
  • John Podesta’s email got hacked
We know there were four primary election outlets, including Wikileaks, Guccifer 2.0, DC Leaks and Internet Research Agency. Quick org chart breakdown here: With these leaks, I turned my attention to Guccifer 2.0, who showed up (timely) after Guccifer 1.0 was arrested for cyber crime. Early on, G2 started dropping docs from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). As this is happening, I’m trying to wrap my head around exactly the kind of severity of threat we’re facing here. So, how do I get more info? Is it possible to now secure thousands of independent election jurisdictions? (Gave up on this, but more on that later) So, how do you collect data on a super-secret information operation? The old-fashioned way, of course. Chat them up. The Dilemma: How do you develop a fully backstopped persona on short notice to start eliciting a foreign intelligence operative? Spoiler Alert: You play on their own biases. Just like that, two months of exchanges between myself and G2 began. Normally, you wouldn’t expose your identity to the “bad guy,” but this exchange was very different. They already knew exactly who I was. Four Main Takeaways:
  1. They should have already known who I was and that I was researching election related issues.
  2. Whatever information they had, they were looking for media and, specifically, Republican officials to leak it to.
  3. My own identity was the best backdrop.
  4. No incremental risk from adversary if I was known.
Now you’re thinking, there’s no way this is going to work, right? Well, I was just as surprised as you are. Let's delve in.   With a simple Google search, it would have come up that I’ve been investigating numerous breaches. (No evidence they had any idea until two months later) They did, however, look at the domain of my email (, which is my “political” domain. Come to find out, the docs he had were worthless. G2 and WikiLeaks made no attempt to package a story. He didn’t release the same docs he sent me and started scrubbing metadata after being “caught” red handed. After All This, What Are the Key Takeaways?
  • Guccifer 2.0 didn’t have a deep political understanding, making their efforts way less effective.
  • They didn’t attempt to package or create a narrative.
  • There were no apparent relationships with friendly journalists.
  • There was no “investment” in these operations and they made simple OPSEC mistakes (in part, using an unsupervised cutout)
So, What Can You Expect Next?
  • They got better over time – 2016’s influence op was luckier than it was sophisticated.
  • The US is vulnerable because of own doing. We even undermine our own institutions.
  • In politics, if you get under their skin, you get another helping. They’ll be invested next time.
This post was the basis of a lecture he just gave at the SAS2018 (the 2018 Security Analyst Summit being held right now in Cancun) -- I'm sure his presentation was more colorful and detailed.  But it does make Guccifer 2.0 out to be a bit of a neophyte -- a person (or persons) who can hack into places but not know what he grabbed.

The Porn Star Sues The President

March 7, 2018 11:45 am In Courts/Law, Stormy Daniels Affair, Trump & Administration
Wow. [embeddoc url="" height="800px"] The first thing that jumps out at me is this: if you're going to contest a nondisclosure agreement in court, you should be filing with the court under seal so the NDA isn't breached unless/until the plaintiff—the person subject to the NDA—prevails in court. Avenatti (Stormy Daniel's lawyer) didn't do this and I am sure it was intentional. Because now, win or lose in the case, the subject matter is... disclosed!  It also goes without saying that Avenatti shouldn't be going on The Today Show confirming that Daniels and Trump had a sexual relationship, but again, that's intentional. Daniels clearly intends to disclose the breach the NDA -- or rather, admit the sexual relationship because (in her view) there is no NDA. If she does, and if Trump/Cohen are stupid enough to sue her, (a) it'll open up Trump/Cohen to new public disclosures and liabilities and (b) they may or may not be able to recoup more money than Daniels makes for breaching. So she's hoping they WON'T sue. But let's take her case on its face. Does Daniels have a case to have a judge declare her NDA null and void—clearing her to tell her story for cash without any fear of a lawsuit from Cohen or Trump? On CNN, Paul Callan and Jeffery Toobin said Daniels has no chance because a) Trump wasn't required to sign the NDA—which is Daniels' argument for it being null and void (i.e., his refusal to sign it), and b) it's common for third parties to sign contracts on another's behalf. And even if a judge finds the contract was no contract at all, Cohen sending Daniels $130,000 and Daniels accepting that money could well turn what otherwise would have been a legally infirm contract into something binding. What's the counterargument? Well, although it is true that a third party can sign on behalf of another, there still has to be -- in Contract 101 law -- "a meeting of the minds" in that both parties must know what is agreed to in the NDA. Daniels could argue that she didn't even know who she entered into an agreement with. Cohen, to obscure—or perhaps to hedge his bets about—whether he'd decide to (or had) told Trump about the "Hush Agreement," writes that the parties bound are Daniels on the one hand and, on the other, his shell corporation "and/or" Donald Trump.  What the hell does "and/or" mean? Did Daniels contract with Trump? Maybe not, per the contract. Did she contract with "EC, LLC," Cohen's shell corp? Maybe not. Should a court encourage parties to so word their contracts that there's no clarity whatsoever—indeed no force of law—as to who the contract binds? Cohen's phrasing makes for awkward interpretation. Take a look at paragraph 1.1 ("Parties") in the "Confidential Settlement Agreement": But the contract had three signature lines—Daniels, "EC, LLC," and Trump—and by "EC, LLC" signing but not Trump, it means that the "and/or" in paragraph 1.1 is automatically nullified, such that the contract is formally between "EC, LLC" and Daniels. David Dennison (or his representative) did not sign. Had Cohen signed this as Trump's lawyer, different story. But he didn't -- the DD signature is blank. If Cohen were there as Trump's lawyer, why didn't he sign that agreement at the same time he signed it as EC's lawyer? Instead of doing that, he created a corporation, then wrote a contract that makes representations on Trump's behalf and seeks to bind Trump legally although Trump is (arguably) not a party to the contract and his tie to EC LLC is zero. And THAT is a problem for Trump. But again, win or lose this case, the Stormy story is now out, and Trump is boxed in a little bit about what to do next. From the public standpoint, this is interesting titillation. But there is a serious legal issue: the lawsuit suggests that Trump was aware of the agreement and that the money was intended to influence the election’s outcome. That intimation bolsters two complaints filed with the Federal Election Commission that say the payment violated election law because it was not reported as an in-kind campaign donation. Footnote: Yes, I am aware if the "EC" initials over the "DD" in the lower right hand corner of every page. But that does not resolve the problem -- it only muddies it.  If that means that "EC" was Trump's agent, then why didn't "EC" or EC's agent (Cohen) sign the actual NDA itself?