Home Tags Associated Press

Tag: Associated Press

To save money, Kentucky Coal Museum turns to solar panels

Museum's 80 solar panels on the roof are expected to save approximately $8,000 per year.

Chicago teen reportedly gang-raped as 40 people watched on Facebook Live

Tribune: this marks at least 4 local crimes captured on Facebook Live since October.

It took less than a minute of satellite time to catch...

A small nonprofit caught these "dark" ocean vessels used for pirate fishing.

Yahoo reveals more breachiness to users victimized by forged cookies

Some accounts may have been accessed with forged cookies as recently as 2016.

Ohio man’s pacemaker data betrays him in arson, insurance fraud case

Man describes quickly packing and fleeing; heart data shows otherwise, doctor says.

Bodycam footage leaks, resisting arrest charges dropped

Girl screams: “I just recorded everything.” Police officer responds: “Me too.”

Ransomware scum infect cancer non-profit

Net scum lowers bar. Ransomware scum have hit a new low by infecting a not-for-profit cancer services organisation. Little Red Door provides cancer support services including diagnostics, treatment, and supplies to under-served people. It told the Associated Press that ransomware attackers infected its server and demanded a steep 50 bitcoin (US$44,000) payment in order to have data returned. Executive director Aimee Fant says the lion's share of the agency's data was located in unspecified cloud storage. She says the agency will be forced to take the hit and not pay the ransom since its funds are designated to helping cancer patients and their families. The agency plans to replace the affected server with a "secure cloud-based" platform and hopes to be back up and running by week's end.
It did not ask for volunteer assistance however interested readers can find the non-profit on Twitter. The attack was reported to the FBI. Many ransomware variants have been undone by white hack hackers working under the No More Ransom Alliance to find and exploit holes in the malware that allows free file decryption. The effort unifies a formerly scattered and silo-ed, but furious effort by malware researchers to waste the exploding number of ransomware forms hitting end users and enterprises. ® Sponsored: Want to know more about Privileged Access Management? Visit The Register's hub

DOJ indicts 6 Volkswagen executives, automaker will pay $4.3 billion in...

photo reader comments 23 Share this story The US Justice Department announced on Wednesday that Volkswagen would pay $4.3 billion in civil and criminal fines and plead guilty to three criminal charges pertaining to the automaker’s diesel emissions scandal.

The DOJ also announced an indictment of six high-level VW Group executives, who are charged with lying to regulators and destroying documents. Working with US Customs and Border Patrol, the DOJ brought against VW Group charges of defrauding the US government, committing wire fraud, and violating the Clean Air Act.

As part of the settlement, VW Group has agreed to submit to three years of criminal probation, which will require the German automaker to "retain an independent monitor to oversee its ethics and compliance program." It has also agreed to cooperate with the DOJ's ongoing investigations into individual executives that may have been involved with the scandal. For the past 17 months, the automaker has maintained that none of its executives were involved with the diesel scandal, in which illegal software was discovered on Volkswagens, Audis, and Porsches to alter the cars' emissions controls depending on whether the cars sensed they were under real-world driving conditions or lab conditions.
Instead, VW Group claimed, "rogue engineers" were responsible for the placement of the emissions cheating software on the cars. After the software was discovered, VW Group admitted that its cars did have mechanisms to reduce the effectiveness of the emissions controls on its so-called "Clean Diesel" cars.

Earlier this year, the Justice Department and a class-action group of consumers pursued civil penalties from VW Group, leading to historic settlements of many billions of dollars earlier this year. This new agreement repudiates VW Group's assertion that its executives were wholly innocent of tampering with the cars' emissions control systems.

The indicted VW Group executives include Richard Dorenkamp, Bernd Gottweis, Jens Hadler, Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Jürgen Peter, and Oliver Schmidt.
Schmidt, a former emissions compliance executive for VW Group, is the only executive currently in the US—he was arrested over the weekend by the FBI on charges that he knew about the cheating software and lied to federal regulators about it. Among the other five men indicted, Richard Dorenkamp, head of VW’s technical development for lowest emission engines, was suspended from VW Group in 2015; Bernd Gottweis, a retired VW Group executive, apparently warned CEO Martin Winterkorn that the company's cars could be found with defeat devices; Jens Hadler worked as executive director of powertrain development at Volkswagen in 2008; Heinz-Jakob Neusser oversaw Volkswagen research and development; and Jürgen Peter was a Volkswagen engineering executive who implored his colleagues via internal e-mail to "Come up with the story please!" when the California Air Resources Board started pressing Volkswagen on discrepancies in emissions tests that persisted after VW Group issued a "fix." So far, Volkswagen has agreed to pay $15 billion to compensate victims of the 2.0L diesel engine scandal, $1 billion to settle charges related to 3.0L diesel vehicles (although owner compensation hasn’t been decided on yet), and $1.2 billion to compensate US Volkswagen dealers, who were unaware that the cars they were selling were not in compliance with US emissions regulations. One engineer, James Liang, has pleaded guilty. According to the Associated Press, this fresh $4.3 billion settlement "is the largest ever levied by the government against an automaker, eclipsing the $1.2 billion fine against Toyota in 2014 over safety issues related to unintended acceleration." Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, speaking at the DOJ's press conference, said that VW Group executives were largely responsible for the scandal, describing a company culture where "lower-level people" expressed concerns and "higher-level people" decided to move forward with planting the illegal software.

Congress passes BOTS Act to ban ticket-buying software

Enlarge / Did they compete with the bots to get their tickets?Mat Hayward/Getty Images reader comments 94 Share this story Using software bots to buy concert tickets will soon be illegal, thanks to a bill passed by Congress yesterday. The Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act makes it illegal to bypass any computer security system designed to limit ticket sales to concerts, Broadway musicals, and other public events with a capacity of more than 200 persons. Violations will be treated as "unfair or deceptive acts" and can be prosecuted by the Federal Trade Commission or the states. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), who sponsored the bill, told The Associated Press that he intends to "level the playing field" for people buying tickets. "The need to end this growing practice is reflected in the bill's widespread support," Moran said. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent last week, and the House of Representatives voted yesterday to pass it as well.
It now proceeds to President Barack Obama for his signature. Computer programs that automatically buy tickets have been a frustration for the concert industry and fans for a few years now.

The issue had wide exposure after a 2013 New York Times story on the issue. Earlier this year, the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman completed an investigation into bots.

The New York AG's ticket sales report (PDF) found that the tens of thousands of tickets snatched up by bots were marked up by an average of 49 percent. "I want the thousands of tickets for shows, concerts, and sporting events that are now purchased by bots and resold at higher prices to go into the general market so that you have a chance to get them," wrote Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the hit musical Hamilton, in a New York Times op-ed in June. "You shouldn’t have to fight robots just to see something you love." The Senate took up the matter a few months ago, holding a September hearing at which Jeffrey Seller, the producer of Hamilton, testified.
Seller told legislators that bots quickly buy up tickets, which are then resold on platforms like StubHub and TicketsNow for big markups.

Would-be Internet weatherman star sets a wildfire to increase his viewership

Enlarge / Screengrab from Johnny Mullins' latest "weather update."Facebook reader comments 51 Share this story Johnny Mullins' Facebook page contains a mix of "Crooked Hillary" memes and "weather outlook" video updates.

For all of his talents, Mullins, alas, has attracted only 82 followers on the social network, and the wannabe Internet weatherman clearly felt like he deserved a wider audience.
So Mullins, who lives in Jenkins, Kentucky, took matters into his own hands earlier this month. According to Jenkins Police Chief James Stephens, the 21-year-old Mullins now faces a charge of second-degree arson for setting a fire in Letcher County. The chief told the Associated Press on Friday that Mullins said he started the fire he was charged with "because he enjoyed the attention he got from the Facebook stuff." During the last video Mullins posted on Facebook, on November 6, the suspected arsonist says, "Some areas are dealing with forest fires here in Eastern Kentucky also, but not here in the area where I am. Of course we hope not, but as you go through the day today you just want to be extremely careful if you're out there." Mullins offers, helpfully, that people should avoid smoke if possible. The "of course we hope not" is a common trope in meteorology that forecasters sometimes trot out when their area is threatened by bad weather.

Although credible meteorologists guard against "wishcasting," the reality is that bad weather is good for forecasters, because it magnifies attention on their work. Hurricanes, winter storms, and adverse events dramatically increase TV ratings and website clicks. Opportunistic arsonists have only increased the burden of widespread wildfires across the southeastern United States, which have been most concentrated this month in the southern Appalachia area.

Extremely dry conditions have led to the deployment of more than 5,000 firefighters to the region.

Tens of thousands of acres have burned.

Speaking from prison, incarcerated reporter maintains innocence

Enlarge / Former Reuters social media editor Matthew Keys (R), seen here with his lawyer Jay Leiderman at the federal courthouse in Sacramento in 2013.Max Whittaker / Getty Images News reader comments 6 Share this story After having served nearly three months in a federal prison camp in central California, Matthew Keys is making the best of it. In August 2016, the 29-year-old journalist began his two-year sentence in Atwater, California, about 120 miles east of San Francisco.

Earlier this year, Keys was convicted at trial under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the notorious anti-hacking federal law that dates back to the 1980s.

An effort to reform that law has languished in Congress. Keys told Ars that, even post-conviction, he did not hand over any login information that led to the 40-minute alteration of a Los Angeles Times headline in 2010. Hours before Keys’ sentencing hearing in April 2016, Ars received a letter from someone under the pseudonym “Sam Snow,” who claimed that he, and not Keys, was the one who actually handed over the login details.

This new claim by Snow will likely have no impact on Keys’ appeal, which is pending at the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals. Ars has been periodically corresponding with Keys by e-mail through CORRLINKS, the monitored e-mail system set up for federal inmates, and the following interview has been edited for clarity. We hope to be able to visit him in person in the coming months. Ars: What is your day-to-day like? Keys: I wake up around 6:30am, shower, sometimes grab breakfast or nibble on something on my way to work. Work starts around 7:30.
I'm at work until 10:10am, lunch is at 10:30am, back to work around 11am, and then usually I'm off work by 2:20pm. (except for lately, which I'll get into later).

Dinner is at 3:30pm, after which I usually wait around the dormitory until mail call (between 4 and 5pm).
If I don't have classes that day (programming classes, not "college classes," basically classes we can take to do something interesting and kill some time), I'll nap until around 8pm or I'll read the newspaper, a magazine, or a book.

TV time from 8pm until around 10pm, then I’m usually in bed. Weekends are a little different. With the rare exception of an overtime day (there have been three of those), we don’t work on the weekends. My boyfriend visits me every other Sunday, so I’m awake around 8am to get ready for his visit (from 10:30am to 3pm); otherwise the schedule is about the same.
I use weekend time to work out and catch up on reading and writing. What is your living situation like? There are two buildings at Satellite Camp Prison (SCP) Atwater: A dormitory, which is an open living area with three rows of metal bunk beds and a common area, with round tables and television sets, and another building with a visitation room, a library, a chapel, and three classrooms.

The dormitory also houses a recreation room/small gymnasium, a TV viewing room, staff offices, and lavatory with private-stall showers.

There are, at any given time, around 90 to 100 men living in the dorms (there are no cells at a satellite camp). Most people are here for one of two crimes: White collar (mostly financial fraud) or non-violent drug related offenses.

The number of drug-related offenses generally outnumbers the white collar cases. Camps have a general reputation of being "Club Fed," an easy place to do time.

But that’s wrong.

This is still prison. We might have slightly more freedom of movement, but we still have plenty of restrictions.

The system of rehabilitation here is significantly flawed in a way that almost guarantees most people here who actually committed a crime will offend again.
Very rarely is this a staff issue—most of the staff members I've met here are cordial, respectful, and helpful—it's an institutional problem.
Someone thousands of miles away is making broad decisions governing all inmates, regardless of their crime, situation, living condition, financial situation, education, or health. The problem with that is everyone's circumstance is unique and different.
Some people can’t afford medical care (we have to pay out of pocket for it), some can't afford toiletries, some (like me) have medical conditions the government refuses to acknowledge and treat.
Some people have been told they will not receive halfway house time—time meant to help rehabilitate and reintegrate a person into society—if they are unable to pay hundreds of dollars in owed fines and restitution.
Some people have been told they will spend weeks, if not months, in redundant GED classes despite having graduated with college degrees. (For a while, one of the inmates here with a doctorate in jurisprudence was told, despite his scholarly record, he would still have to attend GED classes.) Taxpayer resources are wasted in some areas, while resources that could go toward helping rehabilitate people, prepare them for reintegration into society, and encourage their success are severely lacking. Yes, this is prison.

But it seems to me if society is willing to take a person’s liberty away, society has a responsibility to ensure that person is taken care of while in custody and is well-prepared and well-informed in order to function as a constructive member of society once they are released.
I’ve only been here three months, but it’s clear to me that even at “Club Fed,” that doesn't happen.

That’s a problem that can only be fixed at the institution level. How did you spend your last few days on the outside? On the suggestion of a friend, I encouraged people to contact the White House.
I wrote a letter to a White House official and distributed the letter to a select handful in the media. POLITICO was the only news organization to write about the campaign, which both surprised me and didn’t surprise me. When I realized that our effort wasn’t getting us anywhere, I spent the last of those days with my family, my boyfriend, and a handful of close friends. Who is managing your digital accounts/devices while you’re away? Nobody. What contingency plans, if any, did you establish for re-establishing your accounts when you get back? I took steps to ensure I could access my accounts when I’m released.

Depending on when I’m released will depend on whether I’m able to re-access my accounts, I guess.
I really don’t know if something will happen or something will change between now and then—inmates in the federal prison system do not have Internet access. Is there any opportunity to do journalism from the inside, whether about the BOP, the Atwater facility, or otherwise? You mentioned to me that a lot of people are interested in criminal justice reform.

Does your experience now make you want to cover the criminal justice system more when you get out?
I’m still exploring this possibility. Officially, the Bureau of Prisons does not allow for an inmate to act as a reporter or publish under a byline while they are incarcerated. Legal material available to us here challenges that policy, suggesting it may be a constitutional issue.

There have been cases in the past where people have written columns while incarcerated—Barrett Brown, who wrote for The Intercept, and the Manhattan Madame who wrote for XOJane—though there have also been consequences for people who have exercised their constitutional rights while they’ve been incarcerated. One thing that did make me happy: I received a letter from the FCC earlier this month letting me know I had won an issue I raised on appeal two years ago, and the outcome of the appeal meant more documents would be disclosed pursuant to a [Freedom of Information Act] request I made a while back.

Another journalist, Shawn Musgrave, filed the same FOIA about a year after I did, so I’m hoping he does something with the documents that emerge, since I can’t while I’m here.
I’m glad to know, though, that the public will continue to be informed on important issues based in some small part on the work I was able to do before I arrived here. Who is Sam Snow? I don’t reveal the names of sources who have been promised confidentiality. Since you reported to Atwater, I have received a few more very short e-mails from Sam Snow.

Frankly, he seems a bit naïve as to how the legal system works. On July 26, for example, he wrote me: "no i dont plan on visiting him i'm hoping he won't have to go to prison at all!" and when I told him that this was extremely unlikely, he seemed surprised.

Can you tell me anything more about who he is and what your relationship with him is? Now that you are serving your sentence, is he worth protecting? Under what circumstances would you reveal more about him?
I would reveal more about any confidential source only if I had their permission to do so, and if I felt their decision to volunteer their identity was made of sound mind and not under duress or persuasion.

A change in my circumstance does not alter the fact that a source was offered and accepted anonymity. Do you have any regrets about not taking a plea deal? It strikes me that even if your conviction and/or sentence is overturned on appeal, you’ll have already served the bulk, if not all, of your time.
Is that price worth it? Do you have any regrets about not taking the stand at trial? You told me in Vacaville that you want to “narrow the applicability of the law so it doesn’t happen to anybody else...” Does that motivation still hold true?
No.
I am innocent.
Innocent men should, and do, fight for their liberty. My main motivation for taking this case to trial, and now to appeal, is to clear my name.

But there are other reasons for fighting this case as well.

An aggressive prosecutor is seeking to create precedent by using a broad, vague law to charge a journalist with conspiracy for committing an act of journalism.

As I’ve said before, that should frighten many people in the journalism community.

For some reason, it apparently doesn’t, because no journalistic institution came to my defense—which was more than disappointing—although a number of journalists did challenge the prosecutor’s intentions and the harshness and vagueness of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. It is well-documented, through FBI reports published on the Internet, that I was under surveillance [and] that the prosecutor in the case had personal motivations for wanting this case. He reportedly threw a fit when the lead FBI agent sought to move the case to Los Angeles, where the Times newspaper was based, because, according to the document, “he really wants to prosecute Keys.” That the Department of Justice has targeted journalists and their sources in a number of other cases (the New York Times, Fox News, the Associated Press, and others)—in some cases, threatening to jail reporters for contempt.

But here, there was no main suspect for about three years, so they couldn’t charge me with contempt.
Instead, they charged me as a conspirator. Which, as I’ve said many times before, is bullshit. What happened to me can, and almost certainly will, happen to others—to journalists, to activists and to others the government deems to be unsavory.
If we succeed on appeal—and we believe we will—it’ll prevent another person from having to go through what I’ve been through. Let’s assume for a moment that the 9th Circuit doesn’t rule in your favor, and an en banc appeal is declined. Would that change anything for you, and how you talk about your case? No. We still have the Supreme Court.

As my attorney Jay Leiderman said in one of the hearings, the Supreme Court “is bound to take up this issue, and it might as well be us” who brings the case before them.

Shadow Brokers Releases Second Trove of Spying Tools

The new leak appears to disclose NSA tactics. Shadow Brokers, a secretive online group that in August published details of hacking tools allegedly belonging to the NSA, released new leaks this week that appear to expose more of the agency's cyber strategies, as well as those from multiple foreign countries. The leak discloses NSA-style code names, including "Jackladder" and "Dewdrop," the Associated Press reports.
It also appears to offer a list of servers compromised by the Equation Group, a separate hacking organization with ties to the NSA. In a post on Medium in broken English, Shadow Brokers referenced Equation Group twice and suggested that its motivation for exposing the server information was related to the US presidential election.

The post also demands a ransom payment, although it does not suggest a specific amount of money. Named after its penchant for encryption algorithms, the Equation Group has hacked targets in more than 30 countries—including Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and China, according to security firm Kaspersky.
Its focus is on government, nuclear research, military, and nanotechnology organizations, as well as companies developing cryptographic technologies. The hackers' malware can reprogram hard drive firmware, and has been found on devices from Seagate, Western Digital, and Samsung.

The exploit, carried out via physical interceptions like infected USB drives and CD-ROMs, is undetectable and cannot be removed. It is unclear how Shadow Brokers wound up with data from Equation Group.

This week's leak also raises questions about possible ties to Harold Martin, the former NSA contractor who was arrested in August for allegedly stealing more than 50 terabytes of classified data.

Authorities are attempting to prove that the Equation Group got its information from Martin.