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Education

White House Silence Seems To Confirm $4 Billion 'Computer Science For All' K-12 Initiative Is No More 263

theodp writes: "2016 as a year of action builds on a decade of national, state, and grassroots activity to revitalize K-12 computer science education," reads the upbeat White House blog post kicking off Computer Science Education Week. But conspicuous by its absence in the accompanying fact sheet for A Year of Action Supporting Computer Science for All is any mention of the status of President Obama's proposed $4 billion Computer Science For All initiative, which enjoyed support from the likes of Microsoft, Facebook, and Google. On Friday, tech-backed Code.org posted An Update on Computer Science Education and Federal Funding, which explained that Congress's passage of a 'continuing resolution' extending the current budget into 2017 spelled curtains for federal funding for the program in 2016 and beyond. "We don't have any direct feedback yet about the next administration's support for K-12 CS," wrote CEO Hadi Partovi and Govt. Affairs VP Cameron Wilson, "other than a promise to expand 'vocational and technical education' as part of Trump's 100-day plan which was published in late October. I am hopeful that this language may translate into support for funding K-12 computer science at a federal level. However, we should assume that it will not."
United States

Trump Will Get Power To Send Unblockable Mass Text Messages To All Americans (nymag.com) 554

President-elect Donald Trump will have access to a system which can send unblockable texts to every phone in the United States once he becomes the president. From a report on NYMag: These 90-character messages, known as Wireless Emergency Alerts (or WEAs), are part of a program put in place after Congress passed the Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act, in 2006. WEAs allow for targeted messages to be sent to every cell phone getting a signal from certain geographically relevant cell towers (or, in a national emergency, all of them). While it'd be a true nightmare to get screeching alerts from your phone that "Loser Senate Democrats still won't confirm great man Peter Thiel to Supreme Court. Sad!", there are some checks and balances on this. While President-elect Trump hasn't shown much impulse control when it comes to his favorite mass-messaging service, Twitter, the process for issuing a WEA isn't as simple as typing out a 90-character alert from a presidential smartphone and hitting "Send." All WEAs must be issued through FEMA's Integrated Public Alert Warning System, meaning that an emergency alert from the president still has at least one layer to pass through before being issued. While FEMA is under control of the executive branch (the head of FEMA is selected by the president, and reports to the Department of Homeland Security), the agency would have a vested interest in not seeing their alert system bent toward, uh, non-emergency ends.
Government

EPA Increases Amount of Renewable Fuel To Be Blended Into Gasoline (arstechnica.com) 351

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Last week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its final renewable fuel standards for 2017, requiring that fuel suppliers blend an additional 1.2 billion gallons of renewable fuel into U.S. gas and diesel from 2016 levels. The rule breaks down the requirements to include quotas for cellulosic biofuels, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and traditional renewable fuel. Reuters points out that the aggressive new biofuel standards will create a dilemma for an incoming Trump administration, given that his campaign courted both the gas and corn industries. While the EPA under the Obama administration has continually increased so-called renewable fuel standards (RFS), the standards were first adopted by a majority-Republican Congress in 2005 and then bolstered in 2007 with a requirement to incorporate 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel into the fuel supply by 2022, barring "a determination that implementation of the program is causing severe economic or environmental harm," as the EPA writes. Some biofuels are controversial not just for oil and gas suppliers but for some wildlife advocates as well. Collin O'Mara, CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said in a statement that the corn ethanol industry that most stands to benefit from the EPA's expansion of the renewable fuel standards "is responsible for the destruction of millions of acres of wildlife habitat and degradation of water quality." Still, the EPA contends that biofuels made from corn and other regenerating plants offer reductions in overall fuel emissions, if the processes used to make and transport the fuels are included. "Advanced biofuels" will offer "50 percent lifecycle carbon emissions reductions," and their share of the new standards will grow by 700 million gallons in 2017 from 2016 requirements, the EPA says. Cellulosic biofuel will be increased by 81 million gallons and biomass-based diesel will be increased by 100 million gallons. "Non-advanced or 'conventional' renewable fuel" will be increased to 19.28 billion gallons from 18.11 billion gallons in 2016. Conventional renewable fuel "typically refers to ethanol derived from corn starch and must meet a 20 percent lifecycle GHG [greenhouse gas] reduction threshold," according to EPA guidelines. Other kinds of renewable fuels include sugarcane-based ethanol, cellulosic ethanol derived from the stalks, leaves, and cobs leftover from a corn harvest, and compressed natural gas gleaned from wastewater facilities.
Government

Lawrence Lessig Calls For The Electoral College to Choose Clinton Over Trump (washingtonpost.com) 1426

Lawrence Lessig's new op-ed in the Washington Post argues against the idea "that the person who lost the popular vote this year must nonetheless become our president." (Paywalled version here, free version here.) Lessig points out that the electoral college results have already been ignored twice in U.S. history -- in 1824 and 1876. The Constitution says nothing about "winner take all." It says nothing to suggest that electors' freedom should be constrained in any way...They were to be citizens exercising judgment, not cogs turning a wheel.
Complaining that the electoral college weights the votes in Wyoming roughly four times as heavily as the votes in Michigan, Lessig argues that the popular vote should be respected, and that the authors of the U.S. Constitution "left the electors free to choose. They should exercise that choice by leaving the election as the people decided it: in Clinton's favor."

Meanwhile, Politico is reporting that six electors, "mostly former Bernie Sanders supporters who hail from Washington state and Colorado," are already urging electors pledged to Clinton and Trump to instead coalesce around "a consensus pick like Mitt Romney or John Kasich." And the ethics lawyers for both President Obama and President Bush both told one liberal site "that if Trump continues to retain ownership over his sprawling business interests by the time the electors meet on December 19, they should reject Trump." Finally, from the original submission:
Even Donald Trump has called the Electoral College a "total sham." Is it time for the Electoral College to reflect the popular vote?
Democrats

Russian Hacker Conspiracy Theory is Weak, But the Case For Paper Ballots is Strong (facebook.com) 286

On Wednesday, J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan's Center for Computer Security & Society and a respected voice in computer science and information society, said that the Clinton Campaign should ask for a recount of the vote for the U.S. Presidential election. Later he wrote, "Were this year's deviations from pre-election polls the results of a cyberattack? Probably not. I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong, rather than that the election was hacked. But I don't believe that either one of these seemingly unlikely explanations is overwhelmingly more likely than the other." The Outline, a new publication by a dozen of respected journalists, has published a post (on Facebook for now, since their website is still in the works), in which former Motherboard's reporter Adrianne Jeffries makes it clear that we still don't have concrete evidence that the vote was tampered with, but why still the case for paper ballots is strong. From the article: Halderman also repeats the erroneous claim that federal agencies have publicly said that senior officials in Russia commissioned attacks on voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. In October, federal agencies attributed the Democratic National Committee email hack to Russia, but specifically said they could not attribute the state hacks. Claims to the contrary seem to have spread due to anonymous sourcing and the conflation of Russian hackers with Russian state-sponsored hackers. Unfortunately, the Russia-hacked-us meme is spreading fast on social media and among disaffected Clinton voters. "It's just ignorance," said the cybersecurity consultant Jeffrey Carr, who published his own response to Halderman on Medium. "It's fear and ignorance that's fueling that." The urgency comes from deadlines for recount petitions, which start kicking in on Friday in Wisconsin, Monday in Pennsylvania, and the following Wednesday in Michigan. There is disagreement about how likely it is that the Russian government interfered with election results. There is little disagreement, however, that our voting system could be more robust -- namely, by requiring paper ballot backups for electronic voting and mandating that all results be audited, as they already are in some states including California. Despite the 150,000 signatures collected on a Change.org petition, what happens next really comes down to the Clinton team's decision.
Privacy

President Obama Says He Can't Pardon Snowden (arstechnica.com) 534

Joe Mullin, writing for Ars Technica:A campaign to pardon NSA leaker Edward Snowden, launched in combination with a fawning Oliver Stone film about him, hasn't made any headway. The request spurred the entire membership of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, 13 Republicans and nine Democrats, to send a letter to President Barack Obama urging against a pardon. "He is a criminal," they stated flatly. Obama weighed in on the matter on Friday. During his European tour, he was interviewed by Der Spiegel -- the largest newspaper in Germany, a country where Snowden is particularly popular. After discussing a wide range of issues, he was asked: Are you going to pardon Edward Snowden? Obama replied: "I can't pardon somebody who hasn't gone before a court and presented themselves, so that's not something that I would comment on at this point." He continued: I think that Mr. Snowden raised some legitimate concerns. How he did it was something that did not follow the procedures and practices of our intelligence community. If everybody took the approach that I make my own decisions about these issues, then it would be very hard to have an organized government or any kind of national security system. At the point at which Mr. Snowden wants to present himself before the legal authorities and make his arguments or have his lawyers make his arguments, then I think those issues come into play. Until that time, what I've tried to suggest -- both to the American people, but also to the world -- is that we do have to balance this issue of privacy and security.
Censorship

WikiLeaks Calls for Pardons From President Obama -- Or President Trump (wikileaks.org) 445

"President Obama has a political moment to pardon Manning & Snowden," WikiLeaks tweeted on Friday, adding "If not, he hands a Trump presidency the freedom to take his prize." And a new online petition is also calling for a pardon of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, saying Assange is "a hero and must be honoured as such," attracting over 10,000 supporters in just a few days. An anonymous reader writes: Monday WikiLeaks also announced, "irrespective of the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, the real victor is the U.S. public which is better informed as a result of our work." Addressing complaints that they specifically targeted Hillary Clinton's campaign, the group said "To date, we have not received information on Donald Trump's campaign, or Jill Stein's campaign, or Gary Johnson's campaign or any of the other candidates that fulfills our stated editorial criteria." But they also objected to the way their supporters were portrayed during the U.S. election, arguing that Trump and others "were painted with a broad, red brush. The Clinton campaign, when they were not spreading obvious untruths, pointed to unnamed sources or to speculative and vague statements from the intelligence community to suggest a nefarious allegiance with Russia. The campaign was unable to invoke evidence about our publications -- because none exists."
Thursday a WikiLeaks representative expressed surprise that, despite the end of the U.S. election, Julian Assange's internet connection in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London has not yet been restored.
Republicans

Silicon Valley Investors Call For California To Secede From the US After Trump Win (theguardian.com) 1368

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: As Donald Trump's shock election victory reverberated around Silicon Valley late on Tuesday night, some high-profile technologists were already calling for California to secede from the United States. The broader west coast is a stronghold for the Democrats, and significantly more politically progressive and racially diverse than large swathes of central U.S. California is also the biggest economy in the U.S. and the sixth largest in the world with a gross state product of $2.496 trillion for 2015, according to the IMF. The campaign for independence -- variously dubbed Calexit, Califrexit and Caleavefornia -- has been regarded as a fringe movement. But support was revitalized by influential Uber investor and Hyperloop co-founder Shervin Pishevar, in a series of tweets announcing his plans to fund a "legitimate campaign for California to become its own nation" -- posted even before the full results were in. A few hours later, Hillary Clinton conceded the election to Trump, and Pishevar told CNBC that he was serious about Calexit. "It's the most patriotic thing I can do," he said, adding that the resulting nation would be called New California. "We can re-enter the union after California becomes a nation. As the sixth largest economy in the world, the economic engine of the nation and provider of a large percentage of the federal budget, California carries a lot of weight," he said. Pishevar was supported by others in Silicon Valley. Angel investor Jason Calacanis said that California succession would be simple in the wake of both Brexit and a Trump win. Evan Low, a Democrat serving in the California state assembly, said that he'd support the introduction of a bill to start the independence process. The proposal illustrates the technology industry's frustration with Trump over his repeated criticisms of Silicon Valley companies. Trump has said in the past that he would make Apple build computers in the U.S. He also thinks Amazon CEO "Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post to exert political power and avoid paying taxes, and claimed that Mark Zuckerberg's push for specialist immigration would actually decrease opportunities for American women and minorities." In July, 145 technology leaders wrote in an open letter about how "Trump would be a disaster for innovation."
Government

Slashdot Asks: Should The US Abolish The Electoral College? 1081

Last night as votes were still being counted, statistician and editor-in-chief for FiveThirtyEight Nate Silver pointed out that while Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States, "it's possible, perhaps even likely, that [Hillary Clinton] will eventually win the popular vote as more votes come in from California." We now know that she has indeed won the popular vote by a slim margin. American journalist Carl Bialik adds via Silver's blog: Hillary Clinton could still conceivably win the election -- or she could lose the national popular vote. But since both outcomes look unlikely, we should start preparing ourselves for the possibility of the second split between the national popular vote and the electoral vote in the last five presidential elections. A coalition of 11 sates with 165 electoral votes between them has agreed to an interstate compact that, once signed by states with a combined 270 or more electoral votes, would bind their electors to vote for the winner of the national popular vote -- in effect ending the Electoral College. New York just joined this week. It wasn't enough to affect this election, but maybe today's result will spur more states to join. The results of this election echo the 2000 results, where Democrat Al Gore narrowly won the popular vote, but George W. Bush won the White House. It brings into question whether or not the Electoral College should be abolished in favor of the popular vote. As a refresher, the Electoral College is comprised of electors that cast their votes for president. Each state has a set number of electors that is based on the state's population -- the candidate who wins the state's popular vote gets those electors. Technically, on Election Day, the American people are electing the electors who elect the president. The New York Times has a lengthy article describing how the Electoral College works, which you can view here.
Google

Google Will Display Election Results As Soon As Polls Close (techcrunch.com) 174

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Google has been highly involved with connecting U.S. voters to timely information throughout this election cycle, by offering everything from voter registration assistance to polling place information in its search result pages. Today, the company announced plans to display the results of the U.S. election directly in search, in over 30 languages, as soon as the polls close. Web searchers who query for "election results" will be able to view detailed information on the Presidential, Senatorial, Congressional, Gubernatorial races as well as state-level referenda and ballot propositions, says Google. The results will be updated continuously -- every 30 seconds, as indicated by a screenshot shared by the company on its official blog post detailing the new features. Tabs across the top will let you switch to between the various races, like President, House, and Senate, for example. The results will also include information like how many more electoral votes a presidential candidate needs to win, how many seats are up for grabs in the House and Senate, and how many Gubernatorial races are underway, among other things. This data is presented in an easy-to-read format, with Democrats in blue, Republicans in red, and simple graphs, alongside the key numbers.
Power

White House, 35 States To Boost Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (cnbc.com) 72

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The White House said on Thursday it will establish 48 national electric-vehicle (EV) charging networks on nearly 25,000 miles of highways in 35 U.S. states. The Obama administration said 28 states, utilities and vehicle manufactures, including General Motors, BMW and Nissan Motor, and EV charging firms have agreed to work together to jump-start the additional charging stations. The corridors were required to be established by December under a 2015 highway law. The White House said 24 state and local governments have agreed to buy hundreds of additional electric vehicles for government fleets and add new EV charging stations. California will buy at least 150 zero-emission vehicles and provide EV charging at a minimum of 5 percent of state-owned parking spaces by 2020. The city of Atlanta will add 300 charging stations at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport by the end of 2017. Los Angeles agreed to nearly triple the city's current plug-in electric fleet to 555 vehicles from about 200 by the end of 2017. Of those, 200 will be for the police department. The city is also adding another 500 stations by 2017. One hurdle to the mass adoption of EVs has been the difficulty in finding places to recharge vehicles. In July, the White House said it was expanding a federal loan guarantee program to include companies building EV charging stations. The U.S. Energy Department said in July that charging facilities are now an eligible technology for the program that can provide up to $4.5 billion in loan guarantees.
Democrats

Newly Published WikiLeaks Emails Show Clinton Campaign Communicated With State Department (go.com) 454

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: A State Department official appeared to coordinate with Hillary Clinton's nascent presidential campaign hours before the former secretary of state's exclusive use of private emails was first detailed in a news account last year, newly released hacked emails show. Emails from the files of Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta show that the department official provided Clinton aides with the agency's official response to a New York Times reporter in advance of the newspaper's March 2015 report that Clinton had used a private email account to conduct all of her work-related business as secretary. The stolen emails were released Wednesday by WikiLeaks, part of a massive trove of emails released by the document-leaking group on a daily basis since last month. WikiLeaks has indicated it intends to leak emails stolen from Podesta's account every day through the election. In a March 1, 2015 email, State Department press aide Lauren Hickey told Clinton's spokesman Nick Merrill and two other advisers that then-State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki had "just cleared" a reply to the Times. Hickey provided the agency's response to the Clinton aides and also appeared to agree to a change requested by the campaign, saying: "Yes on your point re records -- done below." It is not clear what specific change was requested and made. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that the department would not comment on alleged leaked documents. But he said the department's effort to "provide accurate information to the media" about Clinton's tenure at the agency has "at times required communicating with her representatives to ensure accuracy."
Democrats

Apple Shared User Data With Governments, Says WikiLeaks Email (dailydot.com) 106

"Please know that Apple will continue its work with law enforcement," reads an email from Apple's vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, who reports directly to CEO Tim Cook, according to new documents this week on WikiLeaks. An anonymous reader writes: In the email the Apple executive writes "we work closely with authorities to comply with legal requests for data that have helped solve complex crimes. Thousands of times every month, we give governments information about Apple customers and devices, in response to warrants and other forms of legal process. We have a team that responds to those requests 24 hours a day." The email was addressed to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

But the context is missing, and could show a larger attempt to soften Hillary Clinton's position on encryption. While Jackson writes that at Apple, "We share law enforcement's concerns about the threat to citizens," she later writes "Strong encryption does not eliminate Apple's ability to give law enforcement meta-data or any of a number of other very useful categories of data."

The email also compliments Clinton for her "principled and nuanced stance" on encryption in a December debate against Bernie Sanders. Clinton had said "maybe the backdoor is the wrong door, and I understand what Apple and others are saying about that. But I also understand, when a law enforcement official charged with the responsibility of preventing attack...well, if we can't know what someone is planning, we are going to have to rely on the neighbor... I just think there's got to be a way, and I would hope that our tech companies would work with government to figure that out."
Government

WikiLeaks: Ecuador Cut Off Assange's Internet Access (bbc.com) 315

Following a report from WikiLeaks claiming that its co-founder's internet service was intentionally cut off by a state actor, the anti-secrecy organization released a statement confirming the state actor was Ecuador. WikiLeaks tweeted: "We can confirm Ecuador cut off Assange's internet access Saturday, 5pm GMT, shortly after publication of Clinton's Goldman Sachs speechs." BBC reports: There was no way to immediately verify if he had been knocked offline, and if so, what was Ecuador's motivation. The anti-secrecy organization did not return calls and emails on Monday, though it said in a tweet: "We have activated the appropriate contingency plans." A woman who picked up the phone at the Ecuadorean embassy said: "I cannot disclose any information." The Wikileaks claim follows the latest emails it disclosed from a hack of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails. It released three transcripts on Saturday of Mrs Clinton's paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, which her campaign had long refused to release. The scrips reveal her bantering relationship with the investment bank's executives, which is unlikely to allay fears among liberal Democrats that she is too cosy with Wall Street.
United States

Report: Russian Hackers Phished The DNC And Clinton Campaign Using Fake Gmail Forms (buzzfeed.com) 435

Citing a report from SecureWorks, BuzzFeed is reporting that Russian hackers "used emails disguised to look as Gmail security updates to hack into the computers of the Democratic National Committee and members of Hillary Clinton's top campaign staff": The emails were sent to 108 members of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign and 20 people clicked on them, at least four people clicking more than once, Secureworks' research found. The emails were sent to another 16 people from the DNC and four people clicked on them, the report said.

Researchers found the emails by tracing the malicious URLs set up by [state-sponsored hacking group] Fancy Bear using Bitly, a link shortening service... "We were monitoring bit.ly and saw the accounts being created in real time," said Phil Burdette, a senior security researcher at SecureWorks, explaining how they stumbled upon the the URLs set up by Fancy Bear.

The URL apparently resolved to accounts-google.com (rather than accounts.google.com), and Burdette says "They did a great job with capturing the look and feel of Google."
United States

Transcripts of Clinton's Wall Street Talks Released in New Wikileaks Dump (reuters.com) 394

Emily Stephenson and Luciana Lopez, reporting for Reuters: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's full remarks to several Wall Street audiences appeared to become public on Saturday when the controversial transparency group Wikileaks dumped its latest batch of hacked emails. The documents showed comments by Clinton during question-and-answer sessions with Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and Tim O'Neill, the bank's head of investment management, at three separate events in 2013 in Arizona, New York and South Carolina. Some excerpts of Clinton's speeches had already been released. For more than a week, Wikileaks has published in stages what it says are hacked emails from the account of John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman. Clinton came under fire for months for not releasing full details of her paid speeches to big business audiences, as opponents accused her of a cozy relationship with bankers and other members of the U.S. financial system.
Democrats

Top Democrats Request FBI Investigation of Trump Campaign Ties To Russia Over Hacking (politico.com) 493

As the Trump campaign refuses to point blame at Russia for the DNC hacks, top democrats on four House committees are questioning possible connections between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russia. They have formally asked the FBI to investigate the matter, citing new comments from a Trump confidant. Politico reports: "Troubling new evidence appears to show that the Trump campaign not only was aware of cyber attacks against Secretary [Hillary] Clinton's campaign chairman, but was openly bragging about it as far back as August," said Reps. Elijah Cummings from Government Affairs, John Conyers from Judiciary, Eliot Engel from Foreign Affairs and Bennie Thompson from Homeland Security. "For months, we have been asking the FBI to examine links between the Trump campaign and illegal Russian efforts to affect our election, including interviewing Trump advisor Roger Stone," they said. "In light of this new evidence -- and these exceptional circumstances -- we call on the FBI to fully investigate and explain to the American people what steps it is taking to disrupt this ongoing criminal activity." Earlier this week Stone said that "I do have a back-channel communication with Assange," referring to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, whose organization has been dropping documents online from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, and has been unloading documents from other Democrats as well. U.S. intelligence agencies last week declared that a connection exists between Russia and allegedly hacked documents leaked by WikiLeaks and others.
Iphone

4Chan Hackers Claim To Have Remotely Wiped John Podesta's iPhone and iPad (gizmodo.com) 269

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Gizmodo: For the past several days, WikiLeaks has been publishing thousands of emails belonging to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta -- and the leaks are starting to cause some serious damage. Gizmodo reports: "Many of the leaked emails contained contact info, cell phone numbers, and account data, none of which was redacted by Wikileaks before being posted. With this information accessible to anyone with the time and energy to read through it all, users on 4chan's /pol/ (politically incorrect) board were able to gain access to Podesta's Twitter account, tweeting a message in support of Trump. Imageboard posters also stumbled on an email containing Podesta's Apple ID -- and appear to have exploited it. 'iPad/iPhone info and data wiped out,' a post on Endchan claimed, show screenshots of what seems to be the hacker gaining access to Find My iPhone using Podesta's credentials. If Podesta's Apple ID was compromised, it stands to reason that his iCloud account was similarly vulnerable. And sure enough, Redditor's on r/The_Donald claim Podesta's iCloud data was downloaded. A hacker known as CyberZeist also appears to have uncovered the passwords to dozens of senators' email addresses, as well as social security numbers and credit card info for many Democrats including Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and acting Chair of the DNC Donna Brazile. The information was posted to pastebin.
Government

Senator Wants Nationwide, All-Mail Voting To Counter Election Hacks (arstechnica.com) 454

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In the wake of the Obama administration's announcement that the Russian government directed hacks on the Democratic National Committee and other institutions to influence U.S. elections, a senator from Oregon says the nation should conduct its elections like his home state does: all-mail voting. In an e-mail, Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat, told Ars: "We should not underestimate how dangerous... attacks on election systems could be. If a foreign state were to eliminate registration records for a particular group of Americans immediately before an election, they could very likely disenfranchise those Americans and swing the results of an election. Recent efforts by some states to make it more difficult to vote only serves to increase the danger of such attacks. This is why I have proposed taking Oregon's unique vote-by-mail system nationwide to protect our democratic process against foreign and domestic attacks." The only states to hold all elections entirely by mail are Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than a dozen others have various provisions for mail voting. The National Conference of State Legislatures has a breakdown here on how Americans cast their votes across the union. Wyden co-sponsored the Vote By Mail Act in July, and he did so for reasons at the time that were unconnected to cybersecurity. Instead, the measure was originally proposed to help minorities and others cast ballots. The plan requires the U.S. Postal Service to deliver ballots to all registered voters. Voters could also register to vote when applying for driver's licenses, too. The measure fell on deaf ears this year and didn't even get a committee vote. A Wyden spokesperson said the proposal will have a "better chance" next year if Democrats win a majority of Senate seats.
Democrats

WikiLeaks Publishes Cryptic UFO Emails Sent To Clinton Campaign From Former Blink 182 Singer (gizmodo.com) 205

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: The former lead singer of Blink 182, Tom DeLonge, has publicly admitted to his obsession with UFOs -- but that still doesn't explain why he was sending two cryptic messages about alien spacecrafts to Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta, as the Wall Street Journal reported earlier today. The former rockstar's UFO emails became public in the latest Wikleaks dump, published earlier this month. DeLonge, who is best known for his shitty guitar riffs and vocals in songs like "What's My Age Again," emailed Podesta at least twice from his personal account, urging him to meet in person so he could introduce Podesta to high-level officials (presumably with info about UFOs). Here's a small taste of one of the messages: "I would like to bring two very 'important' people out to meet you in DC. I think you will find them very interesting, as they were principal leadership relating to our sensitive topic. Both were in charge of most fragile divisions, as it relates to Classified Science and DOD topics. Other words, these are A-Level officials. Worth our time, and as well the investment to bring all the way out to you. I just need 2 hours from you." In another email, DeLonge said he's been working with someone named General McCasland, and explained some of the General's public comments. The email is rather strange, given that there's no specific request made or really any context at all for the message: "He mentioned he's a 'skeptic,' he's not.... He just has to say that out loud, but he is very, very aware -- as he was in charge of all of the stuff. When Roswell crashed, they shipped it to the laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. General McCasland was in charge of that exact laboratory up to a couple years ago." It's unclear if Podesta ever responded to the messages, but he has shown interest in UFOs in the past. When he stepped down from his role as a senior advisor to President Barack Obama, Podesta tweeted, "Finally, my biggest failure of 2014: Once again not securing the #disclosure of the UFO files. #thetruthisstilloutthere cc: @NYTimesDowd." The famous tweet now appears under the name of Obama's new senior advisor Brian Deese.

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