…well…shit…there’s a fair chance I’m not going to get to everything I kind of want to…which is good news for folks who don’t like to scroll…but I’m not sure I’ve found much good news besides that…so I guess we could start with that pipeline being open again?
There was a sign of relief late Wednesday when the operator of the pipeline, which transports gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from Texas to New Jersey, said it had “initiated the restart” of operations. But the company, Colonial Pipeline, said supplies would take several days to return to normal.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation said the ransomware attack had been carried out by an organized crime group, DarkSide, which is believed to operate from Eastern Europe, possibly Russia. While the attack was not on the pipeline itself, Colonial shut down both its information systems and the pipeline until it was sure it could safely manage the flow of fuel.
The company has refused to say whether it had paid a ransom or was considering doing so. On Wednesday, administration officials said they believed the company was avoiding paying the ransom, at least for now. Instead, they said, the company was trying to reconstruct its systems with a patchwork of backed-up data.Gasoline Buying Fever Rages as Pipeline Company Begins Restart [NYT]
…& I guess it ought to be a good thing that they seem to be trying to do something about making a repeat performance less likely
…well…it’s a positive gesture, at least
The weaknesses have been known for years: Eighty-five percent of American critical infrastructure is owned by private companies, and few regulations govern how those companies must protect their computer networks. Criminal hackers like the ones the FBI says attacked Colonial Pipeline are given overseas sanctuary by hostile foreign governments, out of reach of American law enforcement. The vast majority of ransomware attacks originate abroad, many of them from Russia, experts say.
Against this largely foreign threat, the U.S. government leaves it to the private sector to protect itself. The National Security Agency collects intelligence about cyberattacks, the FBI investigates them after they happen and the Department of Homeland Security tries to protect government computers. But no federal agency is in charge of defending the American public against hackers, be they criminals or intelligence operatives.
The secondary role of federal agencies was on stark display Tuesday, when the acting head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a unit of DHS known as CISA, acknowledged that five days after the attack on the company was first reported, Colonial Pipeline had yet to share with his agency the technical deals of the hack. Colonial never notified CISA of the breach — the FBI did that, Acting Director Brandon Wales said.
“Right now we are waiting for additional technical information on exactly what happened at Colonial so that we can use that information to potentially protect other potential victims down the road,” he told an incredulous Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, at a hearing of the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee.
The government, Portman noted earlier, can’t even say definitively which agency is in charge of securing its own federal networks, let alone private ones that are crucial to the American economy.
While CISA’s name implies it is the main cyber defense agency, it actually plays a limited role, focusing on testing vulnerabilities and promoting best practices. CISA is not a regulatory agency.
“CISA works with FBI and other investigative agencies, but they are not the lead,” an agency official told NBC News. “CISA is not who you would call if you need immediate assistance — that would be FBI.”
President Joe Biden has plans to change some of this, including a proposed executive order that officials say would require companies that operate critical infrastructure to tell the government when they are hit by a cyberattack. But only Congress can impose comprehensive cyber regulations, and an effort to do that failed in 2012.
“The only silver lining is this is going to be a big enough deal that I believe this will be the wake-up call the government needs,” said Eric Cole, a cybersecurity expert and author.
Kelvin Coleman, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, had a different take.
“I’m tired of getting wake-up calls,” he said. “It’s time to stay awake.”Who’s in charge here? Colonial Pipeline hack exposes huge holes in U.S. cyber defenses, say experts
…but…well…sometimes you wonder what goes on in the heads of some people
The commission’s advice, seemingly obvious to many who wouldn’t consider storing a highly flammable liquid in a flimsy vessel, was shared widely on Twitter, as people wondered, “Seriously, someone needed to be told this?”
While massive emergencies like this run on gas stations can spur hoaxes online — think the image of a shark swimming down a street shared in the aftermath of hurricanes — people filling plastic bags with gasoline has happened before.
In a video captured at a Kroger gas station in December 2019, a woman wearing a white shirt and black apron can be seen double-bagging gas, as the liquid seemingly spilled out of the white plastic bags onto the ground. The clip has resurfaced this week, gaining millions of views as some speculated that panic-buying of gas would look similar to the woman with her white plastic bags.https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/05/12/gas-shortage-plastic-bag/
Another moment drawing recent attention: A March 2019 photo of a car trunk stuffed with clear garbage bags filled with gasoline, according to Mexican news outlet Noticieros Televisa. The photo was reportedly taken after two men were arrested for allegedly stealing from a gas station in Huauchinango, Mexico, about 100 miles northeast of Mexico City.
…so maybe that doesn’t count…although speaking of counting…there’s a chance this might?
Because the judge ruled there were aggravating factors in the murder of George Floyd, he is allowed to sentence Derek Chauvin to up to double the 15-year state guideline.Chauvin May Face Longer Sentence Over ‘Cruel’ Actions and Abuse of Power
…& speaking of legal consequences
The National Rifle Association’s attempt to evade a legal challenge from New York regulators was tossed out by a federal bankruptcy judge on Tuesday, in a ruling that cast further doubt on whether the group’s embattled chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, would remain at the helm after three decades in power.
The ruling was a victory for Letitia James, the New York attorney general, whose office is seeking to remove Mr. LaPierre and shut down the gun rights group amid a long-running corruption investigation.
Mr. LaPierre, the face of the American gun lobby, now battered by the N.R.A.’s internecine warfare and revelations of extravagant personal spending, had sought to end-run Ms. James by relocating to Texas and filing for bankruptcy there. But the gambit instead proved a strategic blunder: The testimony over a 12-day trial only buttressed Ms. James’s contentions of corruption, and led the judge, Harlin D. Hale, to declare, “The N.R.A. is using this bankruptcy case to address a regulatory enforcement problem, not a financial one.”
Judge Hale, the chief of the federal bankruptcy court in Dallas, also said Mr. LaPierre’s move to file for bankruptcy without telling the group’s board of directors, or his own chief counsel or chief financial officer, was “nothing less than shocking.”
And he warned that any effort to revive the case was likely to lead to another unpalatable outcome: the appointment of an outside trustee to take control of the organization and its finances.In Rebuke to N.R.A., Federal Judge Dismisses Bankruptcy Case [NYT]
…& with all due respect to those of you who are good enough to read these despite seeing this somewhat differently than I…even the complete demise of the NRA seems like too little too late from where I’m sitting
There are 39,000 gun deaths in the United States every year, about 100 a day. It is time — long past time — to treat the problem like the public health emergency it is.
Instead, reasonable gun-safety legislation languishes in the Senate because of opposition from Republicans focused on their narrow political interests. Measures that would expand and strengthen background checks for gun buyers are supported by a majority of Americans. But even as gun violence has surged, a number of Republican-led states are allowing the carrying of firearms without a permit, a background check or any kind of training; Texas seems poised to become the latest state to join in this lunacy. And in a development that has gun-safety advocates justifiably worried, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case testing how far states may go in regulating whether an individual may carry a gun outside the home. Given the more conservative makeup of the court since its ruling a decade ago guaranteeing the right to own a gun in one’s home for self-defense, the outcome could well be a ruling that restricts or bars states from regulating the carrying of guns. Just what the country needs: more guns on the street.Gun violence is surging. It’s time to treat it like a public health emergency. [WaPo]
…not that there isn’t worse stuff going on in the world
Last September, President Donald Trump was exultant. Accompanied at the White House by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior leaders from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, Trump hailed the normalization of ties between Israel and the two Gulf monarchies. The agreements were lumped under the grandiose title of the “Abraham Accords,” a nod to the promise of coexistence and shared prosperity in the birthplace of three great religions.
“We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history. After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” Trump said from the White House balcony, adding that the agreements would “serve as the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region.” In the following months, both Sudan and Morocco entered their own processes of normalization with Israel.
Then came this week’s spasm of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, triggered after weeks of unrest and clashes in Jerusalem. On Tuesday, militants in the blockaded Gaza Strip launched one of the largest salvos of rockets ever fired into Israel, killing at least three people.
“The onslaught was even fiercer in Gaza, where Israel waged one of its most intense air campaigns since a 2014 war engulfed the sides for more than a month,” my colleagues reported. “The Israeli military said it struck more than 500 targets in retaliation for the rocket attacks from Gaza. By Tuesday evening, the Palestinian Health Ministry said the strikes had killed 30 Gazans, including 10 children, and injured about 200 others.”
The escalation followed spiking tensions in Jerusalem, where recent marches of far-right Jewish supremacist groups, an Israeli push to evict Palestinian residents in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and brutal crackdowns by Israeli security forces on Palestinian protesters all laid the tinder for a far bigger spark. The unrest spread to cities outside the occupied territories, as Palestinian citizens of Israel rallied in support of their brethren.https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/05/12/israel-palestinians-abraham-accords/
There were a myriad individual triggers and turning points in the days and weeks leading up to the rapid spiral of violence now racking Jerusalem and surging outward, including heated clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in and around the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque/Temple Mount compound, rocket fire directed at Israeli cities from Hamas-controlled Gaza and retaliatory airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces.
But a more fundamental reason the world’s holiest city is once again a flashpoint for conflict is because of a power vacuum in both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, in which the former has been distracted during back-to-back-to-back-to-back inconclusive elections and the latter refuses to hold elections at all.
With Israeli and Palestinian politicians weak and focused on securing their own positions, extremists have been able to kick off another round of death, hatred and mutual recrimination. These paroxysms of violence tend to drive both Israelis and Palestinians to the right, weakening the possibilities for a peaceful resolution.[…]
For two straight years, the day-to-day governance and fraught geopolitics facing Israel have often been overlooked as its leaders angle for political advantage during an endless election loop, concentrating their remaining energies on facing down the coronavirus pandemic.
Palestinian officials have been paralyzed in the opposite way; no elections have been held in the Palestinian Authority since 2006, giving President Mahmoud Abbas and his functionaries what amounts to lifetime appointments. Just last month, Abbas again announced the delay of elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council.
The vacuum means radicals on either side can tilt the scales. Protests simmered over land disputes in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah for weeks with minimal intervention from an Israeli government that ignored the escalating protests while worrying about future coalition-forming. In the absence of a clear government response, far-right politician Itamar Ben Gvir inflamed the situation by moving into the disputed neighborhood, positioning himself and his allies as the only politicians willing to stand up to the Arab protesters and assert a Jewish presence in the neighborhood.https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/israel-violence-al-aqsa-protests-palestinian-rockets-helps-netanyahu-hamas
Hamas has been, if you will, the political sponsor of the uptick in violence on the Palestinian side. At the same time that tensions in Sheikh Jarrah were boiling up, Palestinian protesters in the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, incensed over Covid-based limitations on congregating during the holy month of Ramadan, stockpiled rocks and waved Hamas flags over the weekend, chanting “we are all Hamas” while facing off with Israeli security forces. With Hamas shut out of legislative elections, the social media-ready protests helped the opposition political party/terror group reinforce its appeal.
…so, I’ll be honest…when I hear this
Israel will not stop its military operation in Gaza until “complete quiet” has been achieved, the country’s defence minister has said, as airstrikes and rocket fire continued throughout Wednesday.Israel vows not to stop Gaza attacks until there is ‘complete quiet’ [Guardian]
…& people are seeing this
Late on Wednesday a mob of far-right Israelis dragged a man they thought was an Arab from his car and beat him until he lay on the ground motionless and bloodied.
Footage of the attack in Bat Yam, a Tel Aviv suburb, was broadcast live on television but police and emergency services did not arrive on the scene until 15 minutes later, while the victim lay motionless on his back in the middle of the street.
Those in the crowd justified the attack by saying the man was an Arab who had tried to ram the far-right nationalists, but the footage showed a motorist trying to avoid the demonstration.Live TV shows Israeli mob attack motorist they believed to be an Arab [Guardian]
Elsewhere in Bat Yam, a group of black-clad Israelis smashed the windows of an Arab-owned ice-cream shop and ultranationalists could be seen chanting: “Death to Arabs!” on live television during a standoff with border police.
…or (not) seeing this kind of thing
7amleh, a nonprofit focused on Palestinians’ access to the Internet and freedom of expression, told Reuters on Monday that it had fielded more than 200 complaints of posts being taken down or accounts being suspended.
Both Instagram and Twitter blamed the takedowns on an error made by their automated systems, and said that the posts and accounts in question had been restored. Instagram, in a statement this week also addressing content that appeared to be missing from other regions as well, apologized to those in East Jerusalem who “felt this was an intentional suppression of their voices and their stories — that was not our intent whatsoever.”
But their explanation has not satisfied digital rights groups, who say that it demonstrates why social platforms need to be more transparent about how their algorithms function.As violence in Israel and Gaza plays out on social media, activists raise concerns about tech companies’ interference [WaPo]
…it’s a long way from feeling like any part of that is headed the right way…but there is one thing it shares with a miserably large swathe of the headlines…hypocrisy…I mean…some of it comes with a side order of irony so thick it’s almost funny
Tesla has suspended the use of bitcoin to purchase its vehicles, Elon Musk said in a tweet on Wednesday, citing concerns about the use of fossil fuel for bitcoin mining.Elon Musk says Tesla will no longer accept bitcoin due to fossil fuel use
Musk said Tesla would not sell any bitcoin, and intends to use bitcoin for transactions as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy.
…I won’t get into how he just recently tanked the value of another cryptocurrency while being a bad joke on SNL…or the yet-another-cryptocurrency that claims to be less ecologically irresponsible because it burns through hard drives by the truckload instead of GPUs (it’s called chia if you want to go independently increase your chances of steam coming out of your ears) but I can’t be the only one who sometimes wonders if it wouldn’t have been better for the environment if they’d shot elon into space instead of his damn car…but – as ever – when it comes to hypocrisy…you just can’t beat the GOP
Several House Republicans on Wednesday tried to recast and downplay the events of Jan. 6, comparing the mob that breached the Capitol to tourists, railing against law enforcement for seeking to arrest them and questioning how anyone could be sure the rioters were supporters of President Donald Trump.
The comments by a handful of House Republicans came during a congressional hearing with former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, former acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller and D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III, focused understanding the security lapses that allowed the Jan. 6 attack to happen.
A handful of Republicans used their time to defend the actions of those who stormed past security barricades and broke into the Capitol with the intent of stopping the affirmation of Joe Biden’s election victory. Trump repeatedly and falsely has claimed widespread fraud resulted in a rigged election.‘Normal tourist visit’: Republicans recast deadly Jan. 6 attack by pro-Trump mob [WaPo]
A few Republicans chastised the FBI for seeking to identify and arrest everyone who breached the Capitol that day. Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) accused the Justice Department of “harassing peaceful patriots across the country.”
Another Republican suggested the rioters, who marched to the Capitol from the “Stop the Steal” rally after Trump encouraged them to go there and “fight like hell,” may not have been Trump supporters.
…I mean…fuck all the way off…& when you’re done…fuck off some more…& take this asshole with you while you’re at it
…in fact…you’re gonna need some kind of bus…maybe the one the fatuous fraud is so fond of throwing his “friends” under?
Christopher C. Miller, who was the Trump administration’s acting Pentagon chief, will defend his choices regarding the timing and manner of National Guard deployment to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, telling a congressional committee that he stands by “every decision I made that day.”
[…]“I am keenly aware of the criticism regarding the Department of Defense’s response to the January 6 events at the Capitol. I believe that this criticism is unfounded and reflects inexperience with, or a lack of understanding of, the nature of military operations or, worse, that it is simply the result of politics.”
[…]“I am keenly aware of the criticism regarding the Department of Defense’s response to the January 6 events at the Capitol. I believe that this criticism is unfounded and reflects inexperience with, or a lack of understanding of, the nature of military operations or, worse, that it is simply the result of politics.”Former Trump acting defense chief defends ‘every decision’ made on Jan. 6 [WaPo]
…& I mean…to some extent the hypocritical son of a bitch isn’t entirely wrong…the result of politics does stand a decent chance of being worse
The 2020 presidential election ended six months ago. It has dominated Republican politics ever since. As Senate Democrats mark up their version of the House’s election reform bill, supporters are sounding more anxious and desperate about the situation facing them without it, imagining “minority rule” by Republicans that they will never be in a position to reverse unless they federalize most election laws and prevent how GOP-led states can change them.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/11/trailer-2020-continued-how-post-trump-voting-laws-would-have-changed-last-election/
Democrats don’t currently have the votes to pass H.R. 1, which would eliminate or neuter the state-level laws they’re worried about. Those laws have already begun to reshape the electorate; were the 2020 election run again today, several voting practices that were allowed last year would be illegal today. In several states, the number of votes cast by methods since eliminated or banned by legislators was comparable to the final margin between Biden and Trump.
…it’s all about playing the odds, apparently
Mike DeWine announced on Wednesday that over the next five weeks, the state will draw the names of five people from its ledger of residents who have received at least one jab, and award them $1m each. The lottery scheme will be funded by federal coronavirus relief funds, DeWine said during a televised address.
…& yeah…that sounds fucking crazy…but this part actually seems like something that I’d have more trouble objecting to…even without the context of covid
In addition to the $1m lotteries, DeWine announced that to incentivize children aged 12-17 to get vaccines, the state would draw the name of one vaccinated child to receive a full, four-year college scholarship at a state university – including fees for room, board, and books.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/may/12/ohio-coronavirus-vaccine-lottery-1-million
…whereas, this…this just seems straightforwardly wrong
in the state of Idaho, new legislation signed days ago by Governor Brad Little will allow professional hunters and trappers to use helicopters, snowmobiles, ATVs, night vision equipment, snares and other means to kill roughly 90% of the state’s wolves, knocking them down from an estimated 1,500 to 150. A group of retired state, federal and tribal wildlife managers wrote to Little asking him to veto the wolf kill bill, saying statewide livestock losses to wolves have been under 1% for cattle and 3% for sheep. The group further noted that the overall elk population has actually increased since wolves were reintroduced into Idaho more than two decades ago. It made no difference.
America’s demonization and slaughter of wolves has been going on for centuries – fed by myths, fairytales, Disney films and more – and continues today, full throttle from Wisconsin to Idaho to Alaska. This is our true forever war – the war on Nature, specifically on wildness and its sinister poster child. The wolf could be out there right now, sneaking under the barbed wire, stalking our profits.
In November 2020, the Trump administration, as part of its rollback of environmental regulations, ordered the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list. Western ranchers and farmers were pleased; wildlife advocates called the decision “willful ignorance”. EcoWatch reported that the de-listing occurred “despite the enduring precarity of wolf populations throughout much of the country. According to the most recent USFWS data, there are only 108 wolves in Washington state, 158 in Oregon, and 15 in California, while wolves are ‘functionally extinct’ in Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.”
“Wisconsin’s brutal wolf hunt in late February generated outrage – and for good reason,” Jodi Habush Sinykin, an environmental attorney, and Donald Waller, an ecologist and conservation biologist, wrote in the Washington Post. “Throngs of unlicensed hunters joined those with licenses with packs of dogs, snowmobiles and GPS technology. The wolves stood no chance. This unprecedented hunt took place during the breeding season, killing pregnant females and disrupting family packs at a time critical to pup survival. A full accounting of the hunt’s biological toll is impossible, as the state declined to inspect carcasses.”
And wolf attacks on humans are so rare as to be statistically non-existent.
Over the past half-century, wildlife around the world has dropped 68%. The human race, together with our livestock, now accounts for more than 95% of all mammal biomass on Earth. Everything else – from whales to wolves to lions, tigers and bears – adds up to only 4.2%. And that percentage continues to fall.Idaho is going to kill 90% of the state’s wolves. That’s a tragedy – and bad policy [Guardian]
…not that there aren’t plenty of bad ideas we all get to live with
Chemical giants DuPont and Daikin knew the dangers of a PFAS compound widely used in food packaging since 2010, but hid them from the public and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), company studies obtained by the Guardian reveal.
The companies initially told the FDA that the compounds were safer and less likely to accumulate in humans than older types of PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals” and submitted internal studies to support that claim.
But Daikin withheld a 2009 study that indicated toxicity to lab rats’ livers and kidneys, while DuPont in 2012 did not alert the FDA or public to new internal data that indicated that the chemical stays in animals’ bodies for much longer than initially thought.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/12/chemical-giants-hid-dangers-pfas-forever-chemicals-food-packaging-dupont
Industry reports and communications among the FDA and PFAS producers between 2008 and 2020 show how a sequence of inadequate chemical safety analyses, hidden studies and lax oversight created a scenario in which Americans continue to be exposed to the dangerous compound in food packaging.
…not to be the voice of doom…but it’s mother’s milk to some people
A new study that checked American women’s breast milk for PFAS contamination detected the toxic chemical in all 50 samples tested, and at levels nearly 2,000 times higher than the level some public health advocates advise is safe for drinking water.Study finds alarming levels of ‘forever chemicals’ in US mothers’ breast milk [Guardian]
…& when it comes to killing things with abandon…there’s no shortage of volunteers