DHS Warns of Russian Cyberattack On US If It Responds To Ukraine Invasion

As tensions rise in the standoff over Ukraine, the Department of Homeland Security has warned that the U.S. response to a possible Russian invasion could result in a cyberattack launched against the U.S. by the Russian government or its proxies. ABC News reports: "We assess that Russia would consider initiating a cyber attack against the Homeland if it perceived a US or NATO response to a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine threatened its long-term national security," a DHS Intelligence and Analysis bulletin sent to law enforcement agencies around the country and obtained by ABC News said. The bulletin was dated Jan. 23, 2022. Russia, DHS said, has a "range of offensive cyber tools that it could employ against US networks," and the attacks could range from a low level denial of service attack, to "destructive" attacks targeting critical infrastructure. "We assess that Russia's threshold for conducting disruptive or destructive cyber attacks in the Homeland probably remains very high and we have not observed Moscow directly employ these types of cyber attacks against US critical infrastructure -- notwithstanding cyber espionage and potential prepositioning operations in the past," the bulletin said. Last year, Russian cybercriminals launched a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, shutting down operations and causing widespread outages across the country. Meat supplier JBS also had its operations shutdown due to Russian based hackers.

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Twitter Suspends Wordle-Ruining Bot

Twitter has banned @wordlinator, a bot that replied to people's Wordle posts with rude messages that include spoilers for the next day's game. The Verge reports: The account's spoilers appeared to be accurate (the key is easily accessible in the game's code, so it's not necessarily a surprise), which could end up ruining the game for anyone who sees them. [...] Given that the game is about guessing a word, knowing what the next one will be can ruin the entire point. It's also one of those things that's almost impossible to put out of your head -- when you've seen what the next word is, you probably won't be able to forget it no matter how hard you try. Further reading: Wordle Is a Love Story

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The crazies are in the room

Republican officials are now mainstreaming the anti-vaxx extremists. This is quite disturbing

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These people are truly cracked. How many of them are there?

INVESTIGATE CLARENCE THOMAS RELENTLESSLY, BUT DON’T IMPEACH HIM

At The New Republic, Michael Tomasky argues for impeaching Clarence Thomas.
In a sane world, Jane Mayer’s excellent piece on Ginni Thomas in The New Yorker would set off a series of events that would lead to her husband Clarence Thomas’s impeachment and removal from the Supreme Court. Ginni is involved with numerous far-right organizations and schemes that take very public positions on court decisions across a range of social and political issues, such as last week’s 8–1 holding that Donald Trump could not block the release of documents related to the January 6, 2021, insurrection.

Thomas was the lone dissenter in that case. His wife sat on the advisory board of a group that sent busloads of insurrectionists to Washington on January 6. In addition, she cheered the insurrection on Facebook. It’s just the most recent example where she has been involved in activities that directly or indirectly place her activism before the court, and her husband does not care how corrupt it looks.

They’ve been doing this for years. This first occasion was back in 2000, in a case Mayer doesn’t even go into, when it was revealed after that election that as a Heritage Foundation staffer, Ginni was screening résumés for the incoming Bush administration while the nation awaited a ruling from the court on the Florida recount. There was pressure then on Thomas to recuse himself.

A decade later, when the first major Obamacare case came before the court, it was widely noted that Ginni’s group, Liberty Central, called the law a “disaster” and urged repeal. Again, there were calls for Thomas to recuse.

He didn’t do so in either case. And in the first one, he was part of the 5–4 majority in Bush v. Gore, one of the most self-discrediting decisions in the court’s history.
Tomasky has more. He makes an excellent case for an intense focus on the Thomases, in Congress and in Democrats' day-to-day public statements. Democrats should always highlight Republican extremism. They should work hard to turn GOP extremists into suspicious characters.

But Tomasky loses me when he says Thomas should be impeached. He's certain Republicans would do it in a hypothetical situation in which the parties were reversed and a liberal justice were.
If there were a liberal justice on the court with a spouse who was involved in every major ideological battle of our time ... [t]hey probably would have impeached the justice, knowing that it would fail in the Senate but would tarnish said justice and any precedent of which he or she was a part.
But impeachment doesn't inevitably tarnish its target. Bill Clinton's poll numbers went up as a result of impeachment, and he left office a widely admired president. Surviving his first impeachment made Donald Trump seem like a conquering hero to Republican voters, and after his second impeachment he's the odds-on favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 (and he appears to be the favorite to win the general election).

Tomasky writes:
If the Republicans retake the House this November, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee is going to be Jim Jordan. He’s probably going to lead an impeachment of Joe Biden. Think he’ll be cowed because it’s hugely controversial?
He won't be cowed because it's controversial, but I think he'll be dissuaded because (a) impeachment will inspire Democrats to rally around Biden and (b) the inevitable Senate acquittal -- there's no way Republicans will get 67 votes in the Senate -- would make Republicans look like losers.

This doesn't mean that Republicans won't investigate the bejeezus out of Biden. They will. That's what worked for them in the run-up to 2016. Notice that they didn't impeach Barack Obama, even though their voter base would have been over the moon if they'd done it. Instead, they had hearing after hearing on Benghazi and other issues, and did everything they could to tarnish both Obama and likely presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (whom they couldn't impeach). It was a successful strategy. Impeaching Obama would have been a failure.

An impeachment of Clarence Thomas will make Democrats look like failures. If they succeed in the House, they won't get more than 50 votes in the Senate. (The upper limit is probably 48, for reasons that should be obvious.) But drawing the public's attention to the Thomases' radicalism is a worthy endeavor. It should have been done years ago, or at least as soon as this Congress was sworn in.

Tesla Now Runs the Most Productive Auto Factory In America

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Elon Musk has a very specific vision for the ideal factory: densely packed, vertically integrated and unusually massive. During Tesla's early days of mass production, he was chided for what was perceived as hubris. Now, Tesla's original California factory has achieved a brag-worthy title: the most productive auto plant in North America. Last year Tesla's factory in Fremont, California, produced an average of 8,550 cars a week. That's more than Toyota's juggernaut in Georgetown, Kentucky (8,427 cars a week), BMW AG's Spartanburg hub in South Carolina (8,343) or Ford's iconic truck plant in Dearborn, Michigan (5,564), according to a Bloomberg analysis of production data from more than 70 manufacturing facilities. In a year when auto production around the world was stifled by supply-chain shortages, Tesla expanded its global production by 83% over 2020 levels. Its other auto factory, in Shanghai, tripled output to nearly 486,000. In the coming weeks, Tesla is expected to announce the start of production at two new factories -- Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg, its first in Europe, and Gigafactory Texas in Austin. Musk said in October that he plans to further increase production in Fremont and Shanghai by 50%. [...] Once Tesla flips the switch on two new factories, what comes next? Musk has a longstanding target to increase vehicle deliveries by roughly 50% a year. To continue such growth, Tesla will need to either open more factories or make the facilities even more productive. Musk said in October that he's working on both. Site selection for the next Gigafactories begins this year.

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Monday Evening Open Thread: Peter Doocy Has His Epitaph

… and nobody could be more pleased about it than Young Peter, I’m thinking.

The post Monday Evening Open Thread: Peter Doocy Has His Epitaph appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Hacktivists Say They Hacked Belarus Rail System To Stop Russian Military Buildup

Hacktivists in Belarus said on Monday they had infected the network of the country's state-run railroad system with ransomware and would provide the decryption key only if Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko stopped aiding Russian troops ahead of a possible invasion of Ukraine. Ars Technica reports: Referring to the Belarus Railway, a group calling itself Cyber Partisans wrote on Telegram: "BelZhD, at the command of the terrorist Lukashenko, these days allows the occupying troops to enter our land. As part of the 'Peklo' cyber campaign, we encrypted the bulk of the servers, databases and workstations of the BelZhD in order to slow down and disrupt the operation of the road. The backups have been destroyed [...]." The group also announced the attack on Twitter. A representative from the group said in a direct message that the Peklo cyber campaign targets specific entities and government-run companies with the goal of pressuring the Belarus government to release political prisoners and stop Russian troops from entering Belarus to use its ground for the attacks on Ukraine. "The government continues to suppress the free will of Belarusians, imprison innocent people, they continue to unlawfully keep... thousands of political prisoners," the representative wrote. "The major goal is to overthrow Lukashenko's regime, keep the sovereignty and build a democratic state with the rule of law, independent institutions and protection of human rights." At the time this post went live, several services on the railway's website were unavailable. Online ticket purchases, for instance, weren't working [...]. The representative said that besides ticketing and scheduling being disrupted, the cyberattack also affected freight trains. According to reports, Russia has been sending military equipment and personnel by rail into Belarus, which shares a border with Ukraine. @belzhd_live, a group of Belarus Railway workers that tracks activity on the 5,512-km railway, said on Friday that in a week's time, more than 33 Russian military trains loaded with equipment and troops had arrived in Belarus for joint strategic exercises there. The worker group said at the time that it expected a total of 200 so-called echelons to arrive in the coming days.

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“I’d Like You To Do Me A Favor though …”

Hey former White House Trumpers. If you want some help with your legal fees all you have to do is follow Dear Leader’s orders:

Former President Donald Trump‘s team has been involved in discussions about a legal defense fund created to support aides targeted by the House panel investigating January 6, sources tell CNN.While declining to use his own war chest to cover the sky-high legal bills that some of his current and former aides are facing, Trump’s team has instead been working with American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp to determine which individuals subpoenaed by the select committee should receive help from Schlapp’s “First Amendment Fund,” which is run by the ACU’s nonprofit arm.

The January 6 committee formed 6 months ago. Here’s what it’s uncovered.Schlapp told CNN that he is “in communication with [Trump’s] team” about who can and cannot take advantage of the legal fund, which he said has raised “over seven figures” from donors. While Schlapp has not yet rejected any requests, he acknowledged that there will likely come a point where he “will have to make choices on who to fund.”

One of the deciding factors could be how an individual who is seeking financial assistance views the committee.

“We are certainly not going to assist anyone who agrees with the mission of the committee and is aiding and abetting the committee,” Schlapp said. He noted that the fund withholds “the right to make decisions over whether someone gets assistance or doesn’t.”

“I am in communication with [Trump’s] team about those decisions,” he said.Another person familiar with the situation described Trump as “more than aware of this fund,” adding that the former president has been “telling people to take advantage of the Schlapp fund.” […]

The behind-the-scenes coordination between Trump’s team and Schlapp further illustrates how the former President is helping allies navigate congressional investigators, including by connecting them to relief funds depending on the extent of their cooperation and their loyalty to him. Attorneys for the former President previously urged some of his top aides and allies not to comply with the select committee, arguing in an October letter that they were not obliged to submit records or provide testimony related to January 6 because of “executive and other privileges.”

“Aiding and abetting the committee” was previously known as “telling the truth under oath” but I guess that’s just another “norm” that’s been retired.

What I’d like to know is how this isn’t considered witness tampering? Aren’t they basically bribing these people to lie on behalf of Trump?

Google Gets Hit With a New Lawsuit Over ‘Deceptive’ Location Tracking

Washington DC, Texas, Washington state and Indiana announced the latest lawsuit against Big Tech Monday, alleging that Google deceived users by collecting their location data even when they believed that kind of tracking was disabled. TechCrunch reports: "Google falsely led consumers to believe that changing their account and device settings would allow customers to protect their privacy and control what personal data the company could access," DC Attorney General Karl Racine said. "The truth is that contrary to Google's representations it continues to systematically surveil customers and profit from customer data." Racine described Google's privacy practices as "bold misrepresentations" that undermine consumer privacy. His office began investigating how Google handles user location data after reporting from the Associated Press in 2018 found that many Google apps across iOS and Android recorded location data even when users have chosen privacy options that explicitly say they won't. The AP coordinated with computer science researchers at Princeton to verify its findings. The lawsuit argues that Google created a location tracking system that's impossible for users to opt out of and that it misled users about how privacy settings could protect their data within apps and at the device level on Android. It also accuses Google of relying on deceptive dark pattern design to force users into making choices counter to their own interests. Racine's office is pursuing an injunction against Google as well as seeking to force the company to pay out profits that it made from user data collected by misleading consumers about their privacy.

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Meta Unveils New AI Supercomputer

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Meta said Monday that its research team built a new artificial intelligence supercomputer that the company maintains will soon be the fastest in the world. The supercomputer, the AI Research SuperCluster, was the result of nearly two years of work, often conducted remotely during the height of the pandemic, and led by the Facebook parent's AI and infrastructure teams. Several hundred people, including researchers from partners Nvidia, Penguin Computing and Pure Storage, were involved in the project, the company said. Meta, which announced the news in a blog post Monday, said its research team currently is using the supercomputer to train AI models in natural-language processing and computer vision for research. The aim is to boost capabilities to one day train models with more than a trillion parameters on data sets as large as an exabyte, which is roughly equivalent to 36,000 years of high-quality video. "The experiences we're building for the metaverse require enormous compute powerand RSC will enable new AI models that can learn from trillions of examples, understand hundreds of languages, and more," Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement provided to The Wall Street Journal. Meta's AI supercomputer houses 6,080 Nvidia graphics-processing units, putting it fifth among the fastest supercomputers in the world, according to Meta. By mid-summer, when the AI Research SuperCluster is fully built, it will house some 16,000 GPUs, becoming the fastest AI supercomputer in the world, Meta said. The company declined to comment on the location of the facility or the cost. [...] Eventually the supercomputer will help Meta's researchers build AI models that can work across hundreds of languages, analyze text, images and video together and develop augmented reality tools, the company said. The technology also will help Meta more easily identify harmful content and will aim to help Meta researchers develop artificial-intelligence models that think like the human brain and support rich, multidimensional experiences in the metaverse. "In the metaverse, it's one hundred percent of the time, a 3-D multi-sensorial experience, and you need to create artificial-intelligence agents in that environment that are relevant to you," said Jerome Pesenti, vice president of AI at Meta.

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