Monday, December 14, 2020

Last Call For Russian To Judgement, Con't

So very odd how that weeks after Trump fires the nation's top cybersecurity expert because he won't sign off on Trump's "election fraud" lunacy and leaves the country rudderless on the defending the internet, the US Treasury immediately gets hit by a massive cyberattack that compromised our entire internet infrastructure.  I'll give you three guesses as to who's behind this, and the first seven don't count. 

The Russian government hackers who breached a top cybersecurity firm are behind a global espionage campaign that also compromised the Treasury and Commerce departments and other government agencies, according to people familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The FBI is investigating the campaign by a hacking group working for the Russian foreign intelligence service, SVR. The group, known among private-sector security firms as APT29 or Cozy Bear, also hacked the State Department and the White House during the Obama administration.

It is not clear what information was accessed.

Reuters first reported the hacks of the Treasury and Commerce agencies Sunday, saying they were carried out by a foreign government-backed group. The SVR link to the broader campaign is previously unreported.

The matter was so serious it prompted an emergency National Security Council meeting on Saturday, Reuters reported.

“The United States government is aware of these reports and we are taking all necessary steps to identify and remedy any possible issues related to this situation,” said NSC spokesman John Ullyot. He would not comment on the country or group responsible.

APT29 has been linked to several has attempted to steal coronavirus vaccine research.

The Washington Post reported last week that the Russian hacking group, APT29, breached the cybersecurity firm, FireEye, according to sources familiar with the report.

At Commerce, the Russians targeted the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency that handles internet and telecommunications policy, Reuters reported.

The campaign is said to be quite broad, encompassing an array of targets, including government agencies in the United States and other countries. It has been running for months, one person said.

So to recap, the Russians most likely have the entire set of keys to the US internet infrastructure, and now have the ability to manipulate it as they see fit. Even Trump is scared enough to have an emergency national security meeting over this.

Just in time for basically all the previously secure internet communications in the US to now be open to Moscow and Putin to do whatever he wants to the Biden administration.

BREAKING: He's Done, Barr None

Attorney General William Barr resigned on Monday, ending a tenure in which the President Donald Trump loyalist carried the administration's "law and order" message but ultimately dealt the most credible blow to Trump's unfounded claims that the 2020 election was littered with fraud. 
"Just had a very nice meeting with Attorney General Bill Barr at the White House. Our relationship has been a very good one, he has done an outstanding job! As per letter, Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family," Trump tweeted, announcing the news. 
"Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, an outstanding person, will become Acting Attorney General. Highly respected Richard Donoghue will be taking over the duties of Deputy Attorney General. Thank you to all!" 
Barr repeatedly and unapologetically prioritized Trump's political goals while furthering his own vision of expansive presidential power. In his most notorious move, Barr delivered a misleading summary of special counsel Robert Mueller's report, essentially clearing Trump in the Russia probe, which drew a sharp rebuke from Mueller himself. 
He remained steadfast in his support of the President heading into Election Day, including by launching various operations across the country to combat violence and drug trafficking and reiterating Trump's message not to participate in mail-in voting prior to the presidential election. He also appointed a special counsel to continue investigating one of Trump's longtime infatuations, that intelligence and law enforcement violated the law in investigating the 2016 Trump campaign. 
But the decision from the former attorney general to rebuke the President's false claims of widespread fraud in his loss to Democrat Joe Biden represented a final failure of Trump's often successful attempt to weaponize the Justice Department as a personal and potent political weapon.
Whatever villainy Trump is planning next, Bill Barr doesn't want any part of it. And Trump fired Barr specifically today in order to kill the news that Joe Biden got the required 270 electoral college votes today and will be sworn in on January 20.

Fighting Back Against The Viral

Around the US and here in Kentucky, the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are arriving in hospitals and in senior care facilities to help those on the front lines and those most vulnerable to the virus.

The first vaccines against COVID-19 arrived Sunday in Kentucky, and Gov. Andy Beshear said that some Kentuckians may be vaccinated as early as Monday morning.

A “significant” shipment of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine landed at the UPS Worldport in Louisville on Sunday. The vaccine was the first to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is believed to be 95 percent effective.

“Kentucky is going to play a major role in getting this vaccine to people all over the eastern United States through UPS’ Worldport,” Beshear said in his announcement Sunday. “We in the commonwealth are excited to be a big part of defeating this virus all over this country. We now believe that the first individuals will be vaccinated here in the commonwealth tomorrow morning. We are less than 24 hours away from the beginning of the end of this virus.”

The fight against COVID-19 will continue for months, but in his release Beshear said this development was a historic milestone to be celebrated.

Shipments made to Kentucky are expected to include 12,675 vials of the vaccine that will be sent to 11 hospitals in Lexington, Louisville, Pikeville, Corbin, Bowling Green, Paducah and Edgewood, according to the announcement Sunday by Beshear’s office. An additional 25,350 vials will be sent to CVS and Walgreens, and those vaccines will go to long-term care facilities in the state.

With the expected approval of another effective vaccine from Moderna, Beshear’s office expects Kentucky could get as many as 150,000 doses of vaccine in December.

The initial rounds of vaccinations will include hospitals and long-term care facilities, and the specifics will be announced based on guidelines from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, according to Beshear’s office. Health care staff are being prioritized.

With 66 percent of COVID-19 deaths coming from long-term care facilities, vaccines to such facilities are expected to help reduce Kentucky’s COVID-19 death toll significantly, according to Beshear’s office.

The vaccination plan and phases are still being determined, but local health departments have been working with the state to prepare for the distribution of the vaccines, according to Beshear’s office.

“Our community doctors and nurses, as well as long-term care residents and staff, are preparing to do their part first,” Beshear said in Sunday’s release. “We will all get a turn. When it is your turn, I strongly encourage you to get vaccinated so you can do your part to protect yourself, your family and our entire state.”
It's been a long time coming, and it's important that the vaccine go to the people who need it the most. I don't foresee problems with that, I foresee problems with 35-40% of Americans still refusing the vaccine at this point. I hope they will change their minds, but frankly I expect the rest of the world is going to move quickly over the months ahead on "get vaccinated or else".

Among all the tools that health agencies have developed over the years to fight epidemics, at least one has remained a constant for more than a century: paper vaccination certificates.

In the 1880s, in response to smallpox outbreaks, some public schools began requiring students and teachers to show vaccination cards. In the 1960s, amid yellow fever epidemics, the World Health Organization introduced an international travel document, known informally as the yellow card. Even now, travelers from certain regions are required to show a version of the card at airports.

But now, just as the United States is preparing to distribute the first vaccines for the virus, the entry ticket to the nation’s reopening is set to come largely in the form of a digital health credential.

In the coming weeks, major airlines including United, JetBlue and Lufthansa plan to introduce a health passport app, called CommonPass, that aims to verify passengers’ virus test results — and soon, vaccinations. The app will then issue confirmation codes enabling passengers to board certain international flights. It is just the start of a push for digital Covid-19 credentials that could soon be embraced by employers, schools, summer camps and entertainment venues.

“This is likely to be a new normal need that we’re going to have to deal with to control and contain this pandemic,” said Dr. Brad Perkins, the chief medical officer at the Commons Project Foundation, a nonprofit in Geneva that developed the CommonPass app.

The advent of electronic vaccination credentials could have a profound effect on efforts to control the coronavirus and restore the economy. They could prompt more employers and college campuses to reopen. They may also give some consumers peace of mind, developers say, by creating an easy way for movie theaters, cruise ships and sports arenas to admit only those with documented coronavirus vaccinations.

But the digital passes also raise the specter of a society split into health pass haves and have-nots, particularly if venues begin requiring the apps as entry tickets. The apps could make it difficult for people with limited access to vaccines or online verification tools to work or visit popular destinations. Civil liberties experts also warn that the technology could create an invasive system of social control, akin to the heightened surveillance that China adopted during the pandemic — only instead of federal or state governments, private actors like employers and restaurants would determine who can and cannot access services.

“Protecting public health has historically been used as a proxy for discrimination,” said Professor Michele Goodwin, a law professor who directs the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy at the University of California, Irvine. “That is the real concern — the potential to use these apps as proxies for keeping certain people away and out."
There are legitimate civil liberties and racial justice concerns here, and we're going to need to deal with them now. That's the next big fight in American society, and it will define 2021 as much as the virus defined 2020. 

We have a long road to travel here. As I've said constantly, electing Joe Biden, keeping the House and (hopefully) winning back the Senate are just the start of years of grueling work ahead of us as a country, as a people, and as a planet.


Another #MeToo Moment, Con't

And this one is big: NY Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is publicly being accused of years of sexual harassment by his former economic adviser Lindsey Boylan.
Lindsey Boylan, a Democratic candidate for Manhattan Borough president, accused New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, of sexual harassment during the time she worked as an adviser to him.

Boylan served as Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and Special Advisor in the Cuomo administration from March 2015 until October 2018. She then unsuccessfully challenged New York Representative Jerrold Nadler in the 2020 Democratic primary.

Last Saturday, Boylan posted a series of tweets alleging that the work environment in Cuomo's administration was "toxic." Then on Sunday, she alleged that she'd been sexually harassed by the governor.

"Yes, @NYGovCuomo sexually harassed me for years. Many saw it, and watched," the former Cuomo administration official tweeted Sunday. "I could never anticipate what to expect: would I be grilled on my work (which was very good) or harassed about my looks. Or would it be both in the same conversation? This was the way for years."

Boylan alleged that she was not the only woman to experience harassment: "Not knowing what to expect what's the most upsetting part aside from knowing that no one would do a damn thing even when they saw it. No one."

"I'm angry to be put in this situation at all. That because I am a woman, I can work hard my whole life to better myself and help others and yet still fall victim as countless women over generations have. Mostly silently," she wrote. "I hate that some men, like @NYGovCuomo abuse their power."
Cuomo's name came up late last week as a possibly candidate for US Attorney General in the Biden administration, something that was floated before the election back in October. Needless to say, Cuomo's name was removed from this list just before these accusations were made on Sunday, as Biden's list by Friday night was down to Doug Jones and Sally Yates, with former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick as the long shot, with Biden no longer considering Cuomo or DC Chief Justice and former Supreme Court pick Merrick Garland.

In other words, Cuomo's goose got cooked right fast, and now we know why. 

Tish James should have a little conversation I think with him.


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