The first asteroid we’ve seen from outside our Solar System is totally bizarre

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE VERGE’ SCIENCE MAGAZINE)

 

The first asteroid we’ve seen from outside our Solar System is totally bizarre

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The first distant visitor we’ve ever observed

An artist’s impression of the first interstellar asteroid, `Oumuamua.
 European Southern Observatory

Astronomers have confirmed that an object that recently passed by our planet is from outside our Solar System — the first interstellar asteroid that’s ever been observed. And it doesn’t look like any object we’ve ever seen in our cosmic neighborhood before.

Follow-up observations, detailed today in Nature, have found that the asteroid is dark and reddish, similar to the objects in the outer Solar System. It doesn’t have any gas or dust surrounding it like comets do, and it’s stretched long and skinny, looking a bit like an oddly shaped pen. It’s thought to be about a quarter-mile long, and about 10 times longer than it is wide. That makes it unlike any asteroids seen in our Solar System, none of which are so elongated.

Astronomers also think this object — nicknamed `Oumuamua, Hawaiian for “a messenger from afar arriving first”— traveled for millions of years before stumbling upon our Solar System. It seems to have come from the direction of the constellation Lyra, but the asteroid’s exact origin is still unknown. More answers might come soon, as NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is observing `Oumuamua this week. “Our plan is to look at it through the end of the year, so we can get the very best pass possible and figure out where it came from,” Karen Meech, lead author of the study at the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Astronomy, tells The Verge.

`Oumuamua was first spotted on October 19th by astronomers working on the Pan STARRS telescope in Hawaii. The telescope is used to scan the sky for objects orbiting near Earth, looking for any that might pose a threat to our planet. But one of the rocks in the latest observations looked as if it might not belong in our neck of the Universe.

The team at Pan STARRS continued observing the object over the next couple of days. Based on their measurements, they were fairly certain that they were watching the first ever interstellar asteroid. Up until then, such a distant visitor had never been seen before, so observatories all over the world started following the object, too, in order to calculate its path and figure out its shape.

Interstellar asteroids are thought to be rejects from other planetary systems. When our Solar System first formed, for instance, the giant planets tossed around all the smaller bits of material circulating around the Sun, some of which landed in the outer edges of the Solar System while others were ejected from our neighborhood completely. These outcasts then traveled through interstellar space, possibly passing by other stars. Conceivably, ejected material from other planetary systems must make their way to our Solar System once in a while, says Meech.

Such interstellar objects are thought to pass through our Solar System pretty frequently, but they’re usually moving too fast, and they’re usually too faint to see. With `Oumuamua, astronomers got lucky: the asteroid entered our Solar System at an angle, coming in close by the Sun, and then passed by Earth on its way out of the Solar System. That gave astronomers the chance to catch it with ground-based telescopes. “I think it’s really neat that we had this visitor, however briefly, and we had a chance to look at it up close,” says Meech.

This diagram shows the orbit of the interstellar asteroid ‘Oumuamua as it passes through the Solar System. Unlike all other asteroids and comets observed before, this body is not bound by gravity to the Sun. It has come from interstellar space and will return there after its brief encounter with our star system. Its hyperbolic orbit is highly inclined and it does not appear to have come close to any other Solar System body on its way in.
`Oumuamua’s trajectory through the Solar System.
 Image: European Southern Observatory

After it was first spotted, dozens of observatories all over the world continued to follow it over the next week and a half. Speed was crucial, since `Oumuamua is getting progressively farther away and growing fainter every day. “We had about a window of 10 days or two weeks to do anything practical,” says Meech. Through those quick observations, astronomers found that `Oumuamua had large fluctuations in brightness, indicating an unusually elongated, spinning object that makes one complete rotation every 7.3 hours.

Now, `Oumuamua is 124 million miles from Earth, zooming away at 85,700 miles per hour. It passed by Mars’ orbit on November 1st, and will reach Jupiter’s orbit sometime in 2018. Soon, it’ll be too hard to track, even with Hubble. “It’s really getting much too faint to do anything at all,” says Meech.

But in the next few years, we may be able to spot more interstellar objects like `Oumuamua. Once bigger telescopes start to come online, like the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope that’s being built in Chile, astronomers will be able to see even more visiting rocks. “I predict there will be a lot of these detected in the future,” says Meech.

Mystery Object May Be Our First Visitor From Another Solar System

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

This mystery object may be our first visitor from another solar system

(CNN)Astronomers around the world are trying to track down a small, fast-moving object that is zipping through our solar system.

Is a comet? An asteroid? NASA’s not sure. The space agency doesn’t even know where it came from, but it’s not behaving like the local space rocks and that means it may not be from our solar system.
If that’s confirmed, NASA says “it would be the first interstellar object to be observed and confirmed by astronomers.”
“We have been waiting for this day for decades,” Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, said in a NASA news release. “It’s long been theorized that such objects exist — asteroids or comets moving around between the stars and occasionally passing through our solar system — but this is the first such detection. So far, everything indicates this is likely an interstellar object, but more data would help to confirm it.”
NASA says astronomers are pointing telescopes on the ground and in space at the object to get that data.
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For now, the object is being called A/2017 U1. Experts think it’s less than a quarter-mile (400 meters) in diameter and it’s racing through space at 15.8 miles (25.5 kilometers) per second.
It was discovered October 19 by the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS 1 telescope on Haleakala, Hawaii.
Rob Weryk, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, was the first to identify the object and immediately realized there was something different about it.
“Its motion could not be explained using either a normal solar system asteroid or comet orbit,” he said. “This object came from outside our solar system.”
Whatever “it” is, the object isn’t a threat to Earth.
NASA say that on October 14, it safely passed our home world at a distance of about 15 million miles (24 million kilometers) — that’s about 60 times the distance to the moon.
Where’s it going? Scientists think the object is heading toward the constellation Pegasus and is on its way out of our solar system.
“This is the most extreme orbit I have ever seen,” said Davide Farnocchia, a scientist at the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies. “It is going extremely fast and on such a trajectory that we can say with confidence that this object is on its way out of the solar system and not coming back.”
“It” may eventually get a better name than A/2017 U1, but since the object is the first of its kind, the International Astronomical Union will have to come up with new rules for naming the object.

2 Women Lost at Sea for 5 Months Survived Shark Attacks and Storms

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

‘Horrific.’ 2 Women Lost at Sea for 5 Months Survived Shark Attacks and Storms

7:41 AM ET

Two American women and their dogs were rescued this week by the United States Navy, after being adrift in the Pacific Ocean for five months.

Their engine had failed while attempting to sail from Hawaii to Tahiti. The women endured two separate shark attacks, with their boat surrounded at one point by seven sharks slapping their tails against the hull, they told reporters Thursday night on a conference call, in remarks reported by ABC NewsThe Guardian and other news outlets.

“We thought it was lights out, and they were horrific,” one of the mariners, Jennifer Appel, said of the shark attacks after being rescued Wednesday.

They also said they survived two major storms, the first of which lasted for two days, with 25-foot waves and hurricane force winds flooding the boat’s engine leaving the two of them to rely on the boat’s sail alone for the next five months. They had packed enough dried food for a year, but had another close call when Appel fixed their broken water purifier with only a gallon of clean water left on the boat.

Appel, an experienced sailor, was accompanied on the trip by her friend Natasha Fuiava, a sailing novice, and their dogs, Valentine and Zeus. The women, both from Honolulu, Hawaii, were spotted 900 miles south-east of Japan by a Taiwanese fishing vessel, which alerted Guam’s coastguard.

They were rescued by the USS Ashland the following day. “They saved our lives,” Appel said. “The pride and smiles we had when we saw [them] on the horizon was pure relief.”

The Navy said the women had received medical attention and would remain on the USS Ashland until its next port of call.

“The U.S. Navy is postured to assist any distressed mariner of any nationality during any type of situation,” Commander Steven Wasson, the Ashland’s commanding officer, said in a statement.

U.S. Federal Judges And Their Power Over Law Makers

U.S. Federal Judges And Their Power Over Law Makers

 

Last evening I read a couple of articles concerning issues that some other writers have about U.S. Federal Judges power/authority over our politicians, including the President. The writers were not, are not, happy about a Federal Judge in Hawaii named Derrick Watson who put a freeze on President Trumps latest ‘travel ban’. By the list of Nations on this ban it does appear that the President is trying to block entry into our country by Islamic fundamentalists. The only Nation on this list that isn’t primarily Islamic is North Korea. Even though I believe that our current President is the biggest idiot to ever step foot into the Oval Office there are still a few, very few, things that I agree with him on, this ban is one of them.

 

The President has made many ignorant statements about Federal Judges and even the States they are from many times in the past. Evidently the President doesn’t believe that the Judges who live in Hawaii should be allowed to press their Constitutional legal authority when it comes to the Presidents wishes. As we all know, this President would prefer to rule like President Putin of Russia or President Xi Jinping of China by simply issuing ‘Executive Orders’ to fulfill his personal agenda, regardless of what the U.S. Constitution says. Mr. President, this is not Russia or China, or even North Korea as you will find out when it is the Law’s of this country that will remove you from Office, and hopefully imprison you for the rest of your life along with several members of your family.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court has the responsibility of making sure that laws enacted by the politicians are Constitutionally legal. The Federal Judges in our Nation are also saddled with this very important responsibility also, making sure that the laws made are ‘legal’ laws. One of the articles I read last evening was titled “Stop The Madness”, the meaning of the article was about stopping these Federal Judges from having the authority to stop a Presidents Executive Actions. If I have the figure correct there are 864 Federal Judges within the United States right now. This would be an average of about 17 per State. Much to the obvious disbelief of this President all of these Federal Judges whether they were appointed by former Republican or Democratic Presidents have the same authority, no matter what State they reside in, even States like Hawaii and Alaska. Mr. President, I personally agree with you on this issue concerning allowing people from certain Nations to enter our Country, BUT, do it legally. Mr. President, you have a whole team of lawyers at the White House at your disposal, use them!

President’s Of China-Russia Want North Korea To Nuke U.S.

President’s Of China-Russia Want North Korea To Nuke U.S.

 

I am aware that this title is a pretty brash statement yet if I did not believe that it is the truth I would not have used it. When I say that the governments of China and Russia and their current Presidents want the crazy mass murderer in North Korea, Kim Jong Un to nuke the U.S. I am referring to our military bases in the Pacific. It is no secret that the leaders of China and Russia do not want the U.S. military to be in the Pacific Ocean. We have bases in southern Japan, Hawaii and Guam as well as ports of call in South Korea and the Philippines and lets not forget the Naval Base at Long Beach California.

 

As most of you are aware, China under their Dictator President Xi Jinping has decided that all of the ‘South China Sea’ belongs to them. China is making an unprecedented push to take away all of the Sea, Air and Land rights of all of the other Nations in South East Asia. The only other nation with the ability to say no we will not allow this to happen is the U.S.. China is also making major land claims to their southwest, west and northwest. What China is trying to do is to create a situation where they control all chemical and mineral deposits in all of these regions. They also are trying to create a situation where no freight or air travel is allowed in ‘their’ region without their approval. I personally also believe that once China has secured this power that they will then insist on a ‘toll’ system where no freight or air travel is allowed without paying China’s ‘fee’s.’ If you think that what I am saying is a stretch, China’s debt to income ratio is currently at 328%. Economists have told us for years that once a country passes 100% debt to income ratio that the country is in danger of financial collapse.

 

China and Russia’s President Putin would love nothing more than for the U.S. to leave the Pacific. They both complain about the military drills each year that the U.S. and South Korea hold off of the east coast of South Korea yet China and Russia hold their own combined drills off the coast of North Korea. Yesterday in Beijing the Communist Ruling elite gave President Xi Jinping unprecedented authority making it to where if a person says any thing against their President that in doing so you have committed a crime against the Communist Party which in almost all cases will get you life in prison with hard labor or simply hung or shot. The main thing that seems to hold the alliance of Russia with China is Russia’s President Putin’s hate of Democracy and that right now Russia is selling China a lot of Russian oil. Economics and power folks, economics and power.

 

China with the help of billions of dollars from Wal-Mart each year has been spending a huge part of their GDP each year under Xi Jinping on their military buildup. Russia and North Korea have been doing the same thing, minus Wal-Mart’s help. Russia and North Korea have been starving their own people for many years in order to use that money for their leaders personal gains (the Pentagon says that Putin has salted away about $200 billion dollars for himself), I haven’t heard or read any comments on how much wealth Kim Jong Un as stolen from the North Korean people, as he starves them.

 

The Pentagon says that they believe North Korea has about 8-10 Nukes at this present time. We have the ability to shoot down many missiles in all of the regions where we have Pacific military groupings yet reality is that a missile here or there could possibly get through our defenses. Even if we are successful at shooting down every missile in doing so would cause and EMP which will knockout all electronics for many miles around in every direction. My question to our government/military is, if North Korea fires a nuke at a location, lets say Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and we shoot it down thus causing an EMP, if another missile is following 5 or 10 minutes later, will we be able to shoot it down? Will the EMP kill our defense systems leaving us wide open for a second or third missile?

 

President Trump keeps saying that he wants China to do more to pressure North Korea to stop and to dismantle their nuclear program and yes, I do believe that President Xi Jinping could easily do this if it was in his interest to do so, but it is not! If you think that President Xi Jinping or Russia’s President Putin care at all about the people of North Korea you are being delusional. China has made it very clear to the United States government that they will never allow a non-Communist government to be in place in North Korea. They have also made it very clear that if the U.S. or any of our allies do a preemptive strike again North Korea that China will come to their defense. One would think that all parties involved know that if North Korea fires a Nuke at us or our allies that we would then totally destroy North Korea. Yet if this event happened at the same time the U.S. military bases in their area of the globe were destroyed, China’s government as well as Russia’s would be more that willing to except those results.

Jeff Sessions: If a Judge In Hawaii Shouldn’t Count Should A Idiotic Former Federal Judges Opinion From Deep South Alabama Mean Anything?

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said this week he was amazed that a judge in Hawaii could block President Donald Trump’s executive order halting immigration from several majority Muslim countries.

Sessions made the comments in an interview with “The Mark Levin Show” Tuesday evening that was put online Wednesday.
“We’ve got cases moving in the very, very liberal Ninth Circuit, who, they’ve been hostile to the order,” Sessions said. “We won a case in Virginia recently that was a nicely-written order that just demolished, I thought, all the arguments that some of the other people have been making. We are confident that the President will prevail on appeal and particularly in the Supreme Court, if not the Ninth Circuit. So this is a huge matter. I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power.”
Last month, a federal judge in Hawaii, Judge Derrick Watson, issued an order that blocked Trump’s ban on travelers from several Muslim-majority countries. The Department of Justice is currently appealing the decision.
In tweets on Thursday, both Senators from Hawaii responded to Sessions’ comments.
Justice Department spokesperson Ian D. Prior clarified Sessions’ remarks in a statement on Thursday.
“Hawaii is, in fact, an island in the Pacific — a beautiful one where the Attorney General’s granddaughter was born,” he said. “The point, however, is that there is a problem when a flawed opinion by a single judge can block the President’s lawful exercise of authority to keep the entire country safe.”
In the interview on Tuesday, Sessions also added that judges shouldn’t “psychoanalyze” Trump when he was asked about potential judges Trump would appoint.
“I think our President, having seen some of these really weird interpretations of the executive orders that he’s put out, I think he’s more understanding now that we need judges who follow the law, not make law,” Sessions said.
“The judges don’t get to psychoanalyze the President to see if the order he issues is lawful. It’s either lawful or it’s not. I think that it will be real important for America to have judges in the model of Judge (Neil) Gorsuch and (the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin) Scalia, people who serve under the law, under the Constitution, not above it, and they are faithful to the law. They honor it and don’t try to remake it as they’d like it to be.”
Tal Kopan contributed reporting to this story.

Massive lava stream exploding into ocean in Hawaii

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MIAMI HERALD)

Massive lava stream exploding into ocean in Hawaii

The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

WASHINGTON — When Special Agent Adrian Hawkins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation called the Democratic National Committee in September 2015 to pass along some troubling news about its computer network, he was transferred, naturally, to the help desk.

His message was brief, if alarming. At least one computer system belonging to the D.N.C. had been compromised by hackers federal investigators had named “the Dukes,” a cyberespionage team linked to the Russian government.

The F.B.I. knew it well: The bureau had spent the last few years trying to kick the Dukes out of the unclassified email systems of the White House, the State Department and even the Joint Chiefs of Staff, one of the government’s best-protected networks.

Yared Tamene, the tech-support contractor at the D.N.C. who fielded the call, was no expert in cyberattacks. His first moves were to check Google for “the Dukes” and conduct a cursory search of the D.N.C. computer system logs to look for hints of such a cyberintrusion. By his own account, he did not look too hard even after Special Agent Hawkins called back repeatedly over the next several weeks — in part because he wasn’t certain the caller was a real F.B.I. agent and not an impostor.

Continue reading the main story

“I had no way of differentiating the call I just received from a prank call,” Mr. Tamene wrote in an internal memo, obtained by The New York Times, that detailed his contact with the F.B.I.

It was the cryptic first sign of a cyberespionage and information-warfare campaign devised to disrupt the 2016 presidential election, the first such attempt by a foreign power in American history. What started as an information-gathering operation, intelligence officials believe, ultimately morphed into an effort to harm one candidate, Hillary Clinton, and tip the election to her opponent, Donald J. Trump.

Like another famous American election scandal, it started with a break-in at the D.N.C. The first time, 44 years ago at the committee’s old offices in the Watergate complex, the burglars planted listening devices and jimmied a filing cabinet. This time, the burglary was conducted from afar, directed by the Kremlin, with spear-phishing emails and zeros and ones.

What is phishing?

Phishing uses an innocent-looking email to entice unwary recipients to click on a deceptive link, giving hackers access to their information or a network. In “spear-phishing,” the email is tailored to fool a specific person.

An examination by The Times of the Russian operation — based on interviews with dozens of players targeted in the attack, intelligence officials who investigated it and Obama administration officials who deliberated over the best response — reveals a series of missed signals, slow responses and a continuing underestimation of the seriousness of the cyberattack.

The D.N.C.’s fumbling encounter with the F.B.I. meant the best chance to halt the Russian intrusion was lost. The failure to grasp the scope of the attacks undercut efforts to minimize their impact. And the White House’s reluctance to respond forcefully meant the Russians have not paid a heavy price for their actions, a decision that could prove critical in deterring future cyberattacks.

The low-key approach of the F.B.I. meant that Russian hackers could roam freely through the committee’s network for nearly seven months before top D.N.C. officials were alerted to the attack and hired cyberexperts to protect their systems. In the meantime, the hackers moved on to targets outside the D.N.C., including Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta, whose private email account was hacked months later.

Even Mr. Podesta, a savvy Washington insider who had written a 2014 report on cyberprivacy for President Obama, did not truly understand the gravity of the hacking.

Photo

Charles Delavan, a Clinton campaign aide, incorrectly legitimized a phishing email sent to the personal account of John D. Podesta, the campaign chairman.

By last summer, Democrats watched in helpless fury as their private emails and confidential documents appeared online day after day — procured by Russian intelligence agents, posted on WikiLeaks and other websites, then eagerly reported on by the American media, including The Times. Mr. Trump gleefully cited many of the purloined emails on the campaign trail.

The fallout included the resignations of Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the chairwoman of the D.N.C., and most of her top party aides. Leading Democrats were sidelined at the height of the campaign, silenced by revelations of embarrassing emails or consumed by the scramble to deal with the hacking. Though little-noticed by the public, confidential documents taken by the Russian hackers from the D.N.C.’s sister organization, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, turned up in congressional races in a dozen states, tainting some of them with accusations of scandal.

In recent days, a skeptical president-elect, the nation’s intelligence agencies and the two major parties have become embroiled in an extraordinary public dispute over what evidence exists that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia moved beyond mere espionage to deliberately try to subvert American democracy and pick the winner of the presidential election.

Many of Mrs. Clinton’s closest aides believe that the Russian assault had a profound impact on the election, while conceding that other factors — Mrs. Clinton’s weaknesses as a candidate; her private email server; the public statements of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, about her handling of classified information — were also important.

While there’s no way to be certain of the ultimate impact of the hack, this much is clear: A low-cost, high-impact weapon that Russia had test-fired in elections from Ukraine to Europe was trained on the United States, with devastating effectiveness. For Russia, with an enfeebled economy and a nuclear arsenal it cannot use short of all-out war, cyberpower proved the perfect weapon: cheap, hard to see coming, hard to trace.

GRAPHIC

Following the Links From Russian Hackers to the U.S. Election

The Central Intelligence Agency concluded that the Russian government deployed computer hackers to help elect Donald J. Trump.

OPEN GRAPHIC

“There shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s mind,” Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency and commander of United States Cyber Command, said at a postelection conference. “This was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance, this was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily,” he said. “This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”

For the people whose emails were stolen, this new form of political sabotage has left a trail of shock and professional damage. Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and a key Clinton supporter, recalls walking into the busy Clinton transition offices, humiliated to see her face on television screens as pundits discussed a leaked email in which she had called Mrs. Clinton’s instincts “suboptimal.”

“It was just a sucker punch to the gut every day,” Ms. Tanden said. “It was the worst professional experience of my life.”

The United States, too, has carried out cyberattacks, and in decades past the C.I.A. tried to subvert foreign elections. But the Russian attack is increasingly understood across the political spectrum as an ominous historic landmark — with one notable exception: Mr. Trump has rejected the findings of the intelligence agencies he will soon oversee as “ridiculous,” insisting that the hacker may be American, or Chinese, but that “they have no idea.”

Mr. Trump cited the reported disagreements between the agencies about whether Mr. Putin intended to help elect him. On Tuesday, a Russian government spokesman echoed Mr. Trump’s scorn.

“This tale of ‘hacks’ resembles a banal brawl between American security officials over spheres of influence,” Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, wrote on Facebook.

Democratic House Candidates Were Also Targets of Russian Hacking

Over the weekend, four prominent senators — two Republicans and two Democrats — joined forces to pledge an investigation while pointedly ignoring Mr. Trump’s skeptical claims.

“Democrats and Republicans must work together, and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further cyberattacks,” said Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Schumer and Jack Reed.

“This cannot become a partisan issue,” they said. “The stakes are too high for our country.”

A Target for Break-Ins

Sitting in the basement of the Democratic National Committee headquarters, below a wall-size 2012 portrait of a smiling Barack Obama, is a 1960s-era filing cabinet missing the handle on the bottom drawer. Only a framed newspaper story hanging on the wall hints at the importance of this aged piece of office furniture.

“GOP Security Aide Among 5 Arrested in Bugging Affair,” reads the headline from the front page of The Washington Post on June 19, 1972, with the bylines of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Andrew Brown, 37, the technology director at the D.N.C., was born after that famous break-in. But as he began to plan for this year’s election cycle, he was well aware that the D.N.C. could become a break-in target again.

There were aspirations to ensure that the D.N.C. was well protected against cyberintruders — and then there was the reality, Mr. Brown and his bosses at the organization acknowledged: The D.N.C. was a nonprofit group, dependent on donations, with a fraction of the security budget that a corporation its size would have.

“There was never enough money to do everything we needed to do,” Mr. Brown said.

The D.N.C. had a standard email spam-filtering service, intended to block phishing attacks and malware created to resemble legitimate email. But when Russian hackers started in on the D.N.C., the committee did not have the most advanced systems in place to track suspicious traffic, internal D.N.C. memos show.

Mr. Tamene, who reports to Mr. Brown and fielded the call from the F.B.I. agent, was not a full-time D.N.C. employee; he works for a Chicago-based contracting firm called The MIS Department. He was left to figure out, largely on his own, how to respond — and even whether the man who had called in to the D.N.C. switchboard was really an F.B.I. agent.

“The F.B.I. thinks the D.N.C. has at least one compromised computer on its network and the F.B.I. wanted to know if the D.N.C. is aware, and if so, what the D.N.C. is doing about it,” Mr. Tamene wrote in an internal memo about his contacts with the F.B.I. He added that “the Special Agent told me to look for a specific type of malware dubbed ‘Dukes’ by the U.S. intelligence community and in cybersecurity circles.”

Part of the problem was that Special Agent Hawkins did not show up in person at the D.N.C. Nor could he email anyone there, as that risked alerting the hackers that the F.B.I. knew they were in the system.

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An internal memo by Yared Tamene, a tech-support contractor at the D.N.C., expressed uncertainty about the identity of Special Agent Adrian Hawkins of the F.B.I., who called to inform him of the breach.

Mr. Tamene’s initial scan of the D.N.C. system — using his less-than-optimal tools and incomplete targeting information from the F.B.I. — found nothing. So when Special Agent Hawkins called repeatedly in October, leaving voice mail messages for Mr. Tamene, urging him to call back, “I did not return his calls, as I had nothing to report,” Mr. Tamene explained in his memo.

In November, Special Agent Hawkins called with more ominous news. A D.N.C. computer was “calling home, where home meant Russia,” Mr. Tamene’s memo says, referring to software sending information to Moscow. “SA Hawkins added that the F.B.I. thinks that this calling home behavior could be the result of a state-sponsored attack.”

Mr. Brown knew that Mr. Tamene, who declined to comment, was fielding calls from the F.B.I. But he was tied up on a different problem: evidence suggesting that the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Mrs. Clinton’s main Democratic opponent, had improperly gained access to her campaign data.

Ms. Wasserman Schultz, then the D.N.C.’s chairwoman, and Amy Dacey, then its chief executive, said in interviews that neither of them was notified about the early reports that the committee’s system had likely been compromised.

Shawn Henry, who once led the F.B.I.’s cyber division and is now president of CrowdStrike Services, the cybersecurity firm retained by the D.N.C. in April, said he was baffled that the F.B.I. did not call a more senior official at the D.N.C. or send an agent in person to the party headquarters to try to force a more vigorous response.

“We are not talking about an office that is in the middle of the woods of Montana,” Mr. Henry said. “We are talking about an office that is half a mile from the F.B.I. office that is getting the notification.”

“This is not a mom-and-pop delicatessen or a local library. This is a critical piece of the U.S. infrastructure because it relates to our electoral process, our elected officials, our legislative process, our executive process,” he added. “To me it is a high-level, serious issue, and if after a couple of months you don’t see any results, somebody ought to raise that to a higher level.”

The F.B.I. declined to comment on the agency’s handling of the hack. “The F.B.I. takes very seriously any compromise of public and private sector systems,” it said in a statement, adding that agents “will continue to share information” to help targets “safeguard their systems against the actions of persistent cybercriminals.”

By March, Mr. Tamene and his team had met at least twice in person with the F.B.I. and concluded that Agent Hawkins was really a federal employee. But then the situation took a dire turn.

A second team of Russian-affiliated hackers began to target the D.N.C. and other players in the political world, particularly Democrats. Billy Rinehart, a former D.N.C. regional field director who was then working for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, got an odd email warning from Google.

“Someone just used your password to try to sign into your Google account,” the March 22 email said, adding that the sign-in attempt had occurred in Ukraine. “Google stopped this sign-in attempt. You should change your password immediately.”

Mr. Rinehart was in Hawaii at the time. He remembers checking his email at 4 a.m. for messages from East Coast associates. Without thinking much about the notification, he clicked on the “change password” button and half asleep, as best he can remember, he typed in a new password.

Tsunami hits Japan after 7.4 quake, Fukushima nuclear plant ops affected

(THIS ARTICLE IS FROM THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS PAPER)

Tsunami hits Japan after 7.4 quake, Fukushima nuclear plant ops affected

  • Reuters, Tokyo
  • |

  • Updated: Nov 22, 2016 07:25 IST
Passengers crowd at Sendai Station in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan on Tuesday after train services are suspended following an earthquake. Coastal residents in Japan were ordered to flee to higher ground on Tuesday after a strong earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima prefecture. (AP Photo)

A powerful earthquake rocked northern Japan on Tuesday, briefly disrupting cooling functions at a nuclear plant and generating a tsunami that hit the same region devastated by a massive quake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011.

The earthquake, which was felt in Tokyo, had a magnitude of 7.4, the Japan Meteorological Service said, and was centred off the coast of Fukushima prefecture at a depth of about 10km.

There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries several hours after the quake hit at 5:59 am (2059 GMT Monday).

A tsunami of up to 1.4 metres (4.5 feet) had been observed around Sendai, about 70km north of Fukushima, with smaller waves hitting ports elsewhere along the coast, public broadcaster NHK said.

Television footage showed ships moving out to sea from harbours as tsunami warning signals wailed, after warnings of waves of up to 3 metres (10 feet) were issued.

“We saw high waves but nothing that went over the tidal barriers,” a man in the city of Iwaki told NTV television network.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said the tsunami threat had now largely passed.

“Sea level fluctuations may continue along some coasts of Japan over the next few hours,” it said.

The US Geological Survey measured Tuesday’s quake at magnitude 6.9, down from an initial 7.3.

All Japan’s nuclear power plants on the coast threatened by the tsunami are shut down in the wake of the March 2011 disaster, which knocked out Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, spilling radiation into the air and sea.

A spokesperson for Tokyo Electric Power, known as Tepco, said the cooling system for a storage pool for spent nuclear fuel at the reactor at its Fukushima Daini Plant had been halted. A spokesman said the cooling system had restarted soon after.

No other damage from the quake has been confirmed at any of its power plants, although there have been blackouts in some areas, the spokesperson said.

Only two reactors are operating in Japan, both in the southwest. Even when in shutdown, nuclear plants need cooling systems operating to keep spent fuel cool.

Tohoku Electric Power Co <9506.T> said there was no damage to its Onagawa nuclear plant, while the Kyodo news agency reported there were no irregularities at the Tokai Daini nuclear plant in Ibaraki prefecture.

An aerial view shows Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant in Naraha town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo on Tuesday. (Reuters via Kyodo)

Coast evacuated

One woman suffered cuts to her head from falling dishes, Kyodo news agency reported, citing fire department officials. Japanese Minister for Disaster Management Jun Matsumoto told reporters about three hours after the quake that there had been no reports of significant injuries so far.

NHK showed footage of residents of Ishinomaki, a city badly hit in 2011, standing on a hill dressed in hats and heavy coats, staring down at the ocean. Several thousand people along the coast evacuated or were told to evacuate.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world’s most seismically active areas. Japan accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

The March 11, 2011, quake was magnitude 9, the strongest quake in Japan on record. The massive tsunami it triggered caused the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl a quarter of a century earlier.

Nissan Motor Co said it would suspend work at its engine factory in Fukushima at least until the latest tsunami warning was lifted. A spokesman said there were no injuries or damage at the plant, which was badly damaged in the 2011 disaster.

Separately, Toyota Motor Corp said all its factories in northeastern Japan were operating as usual.

An Iwaki city fire department official said there was smoke or fire at Kureha’s research centre in a petrochemical complex in Iwaki city at 6:17 am (2117 GMT Monday) but it was extinguished soon after. Other details were not clear, he said, but no other major damage had been reported in the city so far.

Japan’s famous Shinkansen bullet trains were halted along one stretch of track and some other train lines were also stopped.

One hotel in Ofunato, also badly hit by the 2011 quake, initially told guests to stay in the facility but later bussed them to higher ground.

Japanese financial markets were little affected, with Nikkei futures <NKc1> recovering after a brief fall and the yen up a touch against the US dollar, although still near a five-month low hit earlier in the session.

Was It Honest And Fair That The U.S. Ladies Relay Team Got A Redo?

 

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News Paper)

Chinese Netizens Fury Over Outrageous US Women’s Solo Run in Relay Heats

2016/08/19
Chen Xiaoli
 (I am an American yet I agree with the Chinese ladies being upset with this decision. I only wish honesty in all things and I do not feel that this was a fair decision.)

The United States controversially qualified for the women’s 4x100m relay final at the Rio Olympics, recording the fastest time in the semifinals after being granted a re-run and competing alone. The result meant China missed out on the final next day after qualifying eighth fastest, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The reigning Olympic champion dropped the baton during the second exchange between Allyson Felix and English Gardner in the second heat.

The Americans protested, claiming Brazilian Franciela Krasucki bumped Felix before the handover.

Race officials then ruled that the Americans must run again, in a highly unusual solo-flying lap — to beat China’s eighth fastest qualifying time of 42.70sec.

Most of the American netizens were happy at this unusual development. A netizen called silkkyfingazz said, “It was a fair and just decision. Fair is fair if it was Jamaica we would have wanted the same opportunity. Justice has been done. Well done by the IOC.”

A netizen from Colorado said, “Trying not to be biased. I think the officials got this one right.”

A netizen from Hawaii also commented, “She was bumped. Glad they got the redo.”

But one poster from Illinois saw it differently. “Do you believe any other country would get a second chance in this situation? Especially Russians? US would be screaming ‘bloody murder’ first. Hypocrites!”

However, the decision angered Chinese officials and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) dismissed their protest.

Chinese athlete Liang Xiaojing questioned, “Where is the pure sport?”

CCTV commentator Yang Jian said on Weibo, “The decision was made against the regularity in relay races and even in all athletic contests.”


Chinese social media users were outraged by the development.

One of them said: “The US team shouldn’t re-run, but Brazil should be disqualified. Otherwise, all the teams should compete again and not just the US alone. What a weird competition!”

“Take pity on our girls. Be strong!”

“The Olympic spirit disappeared. So sad!”

“This is an insult to the athletes. It’s unfair!”

Chinese Athletics Team also said on its official Weibo account, “We refuse to accept the result, but we obey the rules. That is the tolerance of Chinese track and field athletes! Cheer up, Chinese team, Chinese athletics. Girls, we feel proud of you!” It also posted a picture saying, “We don’t re-run, but we’ll re-start. See you in Tokyo!”