Sunday, January 5, 2020

Last Call For Rush (No Longer) In Roulette

Rush Limbaugh has signed on for another four years of his radio show, meaning he'll be polluting the airwaves through 2024, and apparently the person to break the news was...Donald Trump.

"The Rush Limbaugh Show" will continue well into the new decade. 
Limbaugh, whose contract was due to expire later this year, has renewed his deal, the syndication company Premiere Radio Networks confirmed to CNN Business. 
Premiere is a division of the radio giant iHeartMedia. A spokeswoman said Limbaugh renewed a "long-term agreement" and declined to comment on any specific terms, like the length of the new deal. 
But according to President Trump, it is a four-year deal. 
CNN Business inquired about Limbaugh's status after Trump blurted out the information at a rally in Miami on Friday. 
The president was there to launch an "Evangelicals for Trump" coalition. After lodging his usual complaints about news outlets that challenge him, he turned to praise some of his biggest radio and TV boosters. 
"We have great people," Trump said. "Rush just signed another four-year contract. He just wants four more years, okay. Rush, Sean Hannity, Laura -- a lot of great people -- Tucker's been great, 'Fox & Friends,' right?" 
Trump went on, listing off other supporters in the media. But the Limbaugh shout-out was curious because the host and the syndicator had not announced a new deal yet. Premiere's most recent acknowledgement about Limbaugh's contract was back in August 2016, when he re-upped. 
It turns out the president had some inside information -- perhaps from one of Limbaugh's visits to Trump's properties. 
Trump and the radio host were seen eating launch and chatting with others at Trump's West Palm Beach golf club a few days before Christmas. 
The two men have been allies for many years, pre-dating the president's run for office.

The cult of Trumpism continues to destroy America.  Hooray!

The Drums Of War, Con't

It's hard to overstate just how much Trump screwed up by assassinating Iran's Gen. Suleimani on Iraqi soil on Friday, but we're about to reap that whirlwind in an impressive way.

Lawmakers in Iraq heeded the demands of angry citizens and voted on Sunday to expel United States troops from the country, as hundreds of thousands of mourners poured into the streets of Iran to pay their respects to the slain leader of the elite Quds Force, Maj. General Qassim Suleimani.

The vote in Parliament on Sunday to oust the United States-led coalition is not final until Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi signs the draft bill. Earlier on Sunday, Mr. Mahdi indicated he would, having urged lawmakers to take action after President Trump ordered a fatal drone strike against General Suleimani in Baghdad.

The body of the general, the most powerful figure in Iran after the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was brought back early Sunday from Iraq, where he was killed on Friday near the Baghdad airport. Among the others killed in the attack was Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, which includes at least half a dozen pro-Iranian militias.

Members of Iraq’s Parliament were divided on the demands to expel American troops from the country. While factions that grew out of Shiite militia organizations have pushed hard for the expulsion, Sunni Muslim factions and the Kurds want the United States to stay.

The legal agreement between Baghdad and Washington states that American troops are in Iraq “at the invitation” of the Iraqi government. Presumably, if Baghdad withdrew that invitation, the United States would have to withdraw.

The killing of General Suleimani unleashed calls for vengeance in both Iraq and Iran, and reinforced a general solidarity among hard-liners and moderates in Iran against the United States. In Iraq, the attack was seen as a violation of the nation’s sovereignty. On Sunday, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the American ambassador in Baghdad.

In Iran, it was viewed as tantamount to an act of war. Hossein Dehghan, a military adviser to Mr. Khamenei, told CNN that Iran’s response would include an attack on “U.S. military targets.”

As the Middle East braced for Iranian retaliation, which analysts said was all but inevitable and American officials said they expected within weeks, Tehran and Washington ratcheted up the rhetoric.

We're getting kicked out of Iraq, the anti-ISIS coalition headed by the US is now all but over as troops scramble to defend themselves on the way out, and Trump has united Iran under the banner of hating his orange ass.  The miscalculations by the Trump regime on this go all the way down the line.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday defended the continued U.S. presence in Iraq even as the Iraqi parliament convened a special session to discuss expelling American troops after the U.S. killing of Iranian military commander Qasim Soleimani in Baghdad.

“The prime minister is the acting prime minister … he’s under enormous threats from the very Iranian leadership that we are pushing back against,” Pompeo said on “Fox News Sunday,” adding “we’re confident the Iraqi people want the United States to continue to be there.”

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi told the nation’s parliament on Sunday the Iraqi government must establish a timetable for the exit of all foreign troops "for the sake of our national sovereignty."

Asked by Fox’s Chris Wallace how the U.S. would respond if the Iraqi government calls for the expulsion of U.S. troops, Pompeo said “we’ll have to take a look at what we do when the Iraqi leadership and government makes a decision.”

Well, that decision was made, and it's "Yankee go home."

Or are we going to invade Iraq all over again?

At this point, who knows?  Trump's as likely to tweet that we're staying in Iraq as he is to claim getting us kicked out was his plan all along and that he's "the one who got our troops home out of Baghdad".

Trump had no plan beyond this.  That much is absolutely clear.

In the chaotic days leading to the death of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s most powerful commander, top American military officials put the option of killing him — which they viewed as the most extreme response to recent Iranian-led violence in Iraq — on the menu they presented to President Trump.

They didn’t think he would take it. In the wars waged since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Pentagon officials have often offered improbable options to presidents to make other possibilities appear more palatable

After initially rejecting the Suleimani option on Dec. 28 and authorizing airstrikes on an Iranian-backed Shia militia group instead, a few days later Mr. Trump watched, fuming, as television reports showed Iranian-backed attacks on the American Embassy in Baghdad, according to Defense Department and administration officials.

By late Thursday, the president had gone for the extreme option. Top Pentagon officials were stunned.

Here there be dragons. Once again, Trump started a war to derail his impeachment trial.  This cannot be repeated enough.  Nobody knows for sure what happens next.


Sunday Long Read: A Deeper Shade Of Gray Hat

This week's Sunday Long Read comes from Bloomberg Businessweek, the story of British/Israeli hacker Daniel "Spdrman" Kaye, a self-taught code jockey who ended up behind one of the biggest botnet attacks the world had seen, one he put together himself, for the highest bidder.

The attack against Liberia began in October 2016. More than a half-million security cameras around the world tried to connect to a handful of servers used by Lonestar Cell MTN, a local mobile phone operator, and Lonestar’s network was overwhelmed. Internet access for its 1.5 million customers slowed to a crawl, then stopped.

The technical term for this sort of assault is distributed denial of service, or DDoS. Crude but effective, a DDoS attack uses an army of commandeered machines, called a botnet, to simultaneously connect to a single point online. This botnet, though, was the biggest ever witnessed anywhere, let alone in Liberia, one of the poorest countries in Africa. The result was similar to what would happen if 500,000 extra cars joined the New Jersey Turnpike one morning at rush hour. While most DDoS attacks last only moments, the assault on Lonestar dragged on for days. And since Liberia has had virtually no landlines since the brutal civil war that ended in 2003, that meant half the country was cut off from bank transactions, farmers couldn’t check crop prices, and students couldn’t Google anything. In the capital of Monrovia, the largest hospital went offline for about a week. Infectious disease specialists dealing with the aftermath of a deadly Ebola outbreak lost contact with international health agencies.

Eugene Nagbe, Liberia’s minister for information, was in Paris on business when the crisis began. He struggled to marshal a response, unable to access his email or a reliable phone connection. Then his bank card stopped working. On Nov. 8, with hundreds of thousands of people still disconnected, Nagbe went on French radio to appeal for help. “The scale of the attack tells us that this is a matter of grave concern, not just to Liberia but to the global community that is connected to the internet,” he said. The onslaught continued. No one seemed to know why, but there was speculation that the hack was a test run for something bigger, perhaps even an act of war.

Then, on Nov. 27, Deutsche Telekom AG in Germany started getting tens of thousands of calls from its customers angry that their internet service was down. At a water treatment plant in Cologne, workers noticed the computer system was offline and had to send a technician to check each pump by hand. Deutsche Telekom discovered that a gigantic botnet, the same one targeting Liberia, was affecting its routers. The company devised and circulated a software fix within days, but the boldness and scale of the incident convinced at least one security researcher that Russia or China was to blame.

When the botnet took down the websites of two British banks, the U.K. National Crime Agency got involved, as did Germany’s BKA, with support from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. German police identified a username, which led to an email address, which led to a Skype account, which led to a Facebook page, which belonged to one Daniel Kaye, a lanky, pale, 29-year-old British citizen who’d been raised in Israel and described himself as a freelance security researcher. 
When Kaye checked in for a flight to Cyprus at London’s Luton Airport on the morning of Feb. 22, 2017, he triggered a silent alarm linked to a European arrest warrant in his name. He was in line at the gate when the cops arrived. “That’s him!” an officer said, and Kaye felt hands grab him roughly under the arms. He was taken to a secure room, where officers searched him and found $10,000 in a neat stack of $100 bills. Afterward they drove him to a nearby police station and locked him up. That was until Kaye, a severe diabetic, began nodding in and out of consciousness, then collapsed in his cell. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where two police officers stood guard outside his room just in case their prisoner managed to overcome his hypoglycemic coma and escape. 
But Kaye was no Kremlin spy or criminal mastermind, according to court filings, police reports, and interviews with law enforcement, government officials, Kaye’s associates, and Kaye himself. He was just a mercenary, and a frail one at that.

Kaye gets out of prison this year, and you can bet a whole lot of people will be watching where he goes.  Some will want him contained, some will want him hired, and some may want something far more sinister.  But these are the new rock stars of the decade: the gray hats, hackers who aren't playing good guy or bad guy, but whoever hires them gets their services.  Expect to see a lot more of them this decade.

Another Day In Gunmerica, Con't

The dangerous Second Amendment movement popping up in Virginia is no joke as local officials there are openly calling for armed resistance against anticipated gun safety legislation.

A vigorous and reactionary movement has sprung up throughout Virginia to declare cities and counties “Second Amendment sanctuaries” that will not enforce gun-control laws that the Democratic-controlled General Assembly may pass.

Generating passion, hysteria and even personal threats, the ugly movement has driven throngs of people to show up at boards of supervisors meetings. Their numbers are remarkable — 400, 800, even 2,000 in attendance.

It has prompted Scott H. Jenkins, the sheriff of Culpeper County, to offer to “deputize” thousands of county residents as a ruse to avoid compliance with future gun restrictions. He said he could deputize 5,000 concealed-weapons permit-holders and perhaps 1,000 more. Tazewell County is considering forming a “militia” that would allow residents to skirt new regulations.

By mid-December, 93 cities and counties had passed some kind of resolution opposing new gun-control rules, according to Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, an ardent anti-gun-control organization. “It’s really very simple,” he told me. “If it affects any law-abiding person, then we oppose it.”

For years, the Republican legislature has spiked any gun-control legislation despite a slew of mass shootings, such as the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech and another at a Virginia Beach municipal office building on May 31.

That is about to change. Democrats seized the House of Delegates and the state Senate in November elections. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has called for tighter rules. Among the possibilities are “red flag” laws that would require a person deemed dangerous to hand over his or her weapons, a ban on some types of assault rifles, mandatory background checks for people buying guns and restrictions such as limiting the number of rounds a magazine can have and devices that allow fast firing, such as bump stocks.

How you know this movement is about forming armed mobs in order to intimidate people with the blessing of local law enforcement and not protecting rights is the fact that this is now happening here in Kentucky, a state with zero chance of passing any new gun regulations.

Adorned in military-pattern camouflage from head to toe, David Johnson stood in front of a packed courthouse in Letcher County this week and proclaimed his support for a local resolution to designate Letcher County a “2nd Amendment Sanctuary.” 
The crowd roared in support as Johnson ended his speech, as it did for every other speaker who warned of a perceived impending threat: the federal and state governments’ incursion on gun rights. 
Letcher County is one of the latest Kentucky counties to pass such a resolution. It joined about half a dozen others, including Harlan, Leslie and Cumberland counties. Dozens of others have meetings or votes scheduled to consider making their counties Second Amendment “sanctuaries.” 
“Tonight, I feel that we the people of Letcher County, and not just Letcher County but the state of Kentucky, and not just the state of Kentucky but of these United States of America, can stand up as law abiding citizens and proclaim that we are constitutional to the bitter end,” Johnson said to the crowd.

And why are armed creeps in camouflage needed to descend upon county courthouses?  Because Kentucky Democrats want to get a red flag law passed that has no chance of making it to Gov. Beshear's desk.

So now, armed mobs are showing up to "remind" politicians of how they should vote.

This is just cosplay idiocy here in Kentucky, but in Virginia I foresee people getting hurt or killed because of these militia mobs.

Besides, if there were a dozen armed black folks carrying near a courthouse, they'd be kettled or shot within 30 minutes.  That's what really pisses me off.

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