Today's BradCast offers some historic news and some chilling news. And some that may be both. [Audio link to show follows below.]
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she is directing House Democrats to move forward to draw up Articles of Impeachment against Donald J. Trump. It is only the fourth time in our nation's history for such an action. We share Pelosi's somber announcement and the history lesson that it includes, as well as the reaction from the White House, from Trump himself, and the steps that lie ahead in the House Judiciary Committee as we move toward a trial in the U.S. Senate for removal of the President.
The historic action, which reportedly may include as many as four different Articles of Impeachment --- Abuse of Power, Bribery, Obstruction of Congress (in the Ukraine affair) and Obstruction of Justice (in the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe) --- has become necessary, according to Pelosi, to save the republic in light of Trump's recently revealed attempts to undermine the 2020 election with help, once again, from a foreign nation.
Then, the Dept. of Justice on Thursday announced two indictments of Russian hackers --- whose whereabouts are currently unknown --- as part of what officials describe as one of the largest cybercrime sprees in U.S. history. The sweeping criminal conspiracy was allegedly led by the two men, who officials have tied to Russian security services. It involves malware designed to defeat anti-virus software distributed by a group named Evil Corp (seriously) and used to siphon more than $100 millions dollars from the bank accounts of companies and even school districts in at least 11 states. The malware phishing schemes reportedly even targeted a small organization of nuns in Chicago.
While that attack has been broad and ongoing over many months, a seemingly separate scheme, also tied to Russians criminals, crippled technology services to more than 100 nursing homes across the U.S. with a ransomware attack on the company that provides the tech services to those facilities. Following a successful emailed phishing attack on November 18, that someone within the company appears to have clicked on, the network of the Milwaukee-based firm was infected, leading the cybercriminals to demand $14 million for the restoration of access to at least 100 hijacked servers. Reporting over the Thanksgiving holiday suggests the company will rebuild their servers rather than pay the ransom. But, in the meantime, some of the nursing homes serviced by the company were unable to access patient records, use the internet, pay employees or order medications. AP reports that ransomware attacks of this kind have been on the rise in 2019, particularly those that target critical public services, with some 70 such attacks in the first half of the year targeting more than 50 cities.
Another victim --- and here's where it begins to get even more chilling --- was the state of Louisiana. They appear to have been attacked on the same day as the Milwaukee tech services company. What makes this attack far more unnerving is that it took place just two days after Louisiana's recent gubernatorial run-off election on November 16.
While the state was quick to stop the spread of the virus, they had to shut down vital state services at dozens of agencies, including the Office of the Governor, the Louisiana State Legislature, the Office of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Health and others, such as the Louisiana Secretary of State's office on the heels of the major runoff elections just two days earlier. Hundreds of computers were affected in the state overall, including those offering elections results to the public at the Secretary of State's website. Had the attack come just days earlier, it might have been devastating for the state's elections, which shamefully require all voters at the polls to vote on 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer voting systems. Had those been knocked out --- or the electronic pollbook systems required to use them --- chaos might have ensued in the closely watched statewide election.
Nonetheless, dozens of other states and counties around the country (many of them battlegrounds and/or highly-populated) are currently moving --- right now! -- to similar computer touchscreen voting systems that rely on working computer networks in advance of the critical 2020 elections. Those systems will be wildly vulnerable next year, where unhackable hand-marked paper ballot systems would not be. Are we insane?
Finally Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with even more chilling news. Though, in this case, it's about the warming of the globe and the GOP Senate confirming yet another lobbyist to a top Trump cabinet seat. Happily, there is a bit of good news in today's GNR as well, regarding California's ban on new fracking, and teen climate activist Greta Thunberg's safe arrival back in Europe for this year's U.N. climate conference in Spain...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)