Jan 20 2017

Korea Appoints Trump Twitter Officer, Chicago Torture, & More Fake News

CNN was caught using a screenshot from Fallout 4 in a report about Russian hacking this week. The shot of the hacking mini-game that’s actually only a word puzzle aired on December 28th in a segment about Obama’s new sanctions against Russia due to alleged election interference. CNN ran the footage while speaking about the dangers of Russian hacking and failed to give any credit to Bethesda. CNN quickly became the butt of fake-news jokes and refused to comment, but did take the clip off their website. Even the official Twitter account for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation joined in on the roast. In their report, CNN was also able to confirm that the Russian hackers had Level 5 Science and that John Podesta’s email password was “shoe.”

Speaking of fake news, the Washington Post is in the news AGAIN for carelessly throwing misleading and false headlines against the wall to see what sticks. Their most recent blunder was courtesy of the headline “Russian hackers penetrated US electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, US officials say.” The December 30th article warned that the sky was falling because a coding signature associated with the hacking groups thought to be responsible for the DNC and Podesta hacks was found laying dormant in the electrical grid, ready to shut down the entire country any moment. The article quickly drew parallels to an attack on Ukraine’s electrical grid in 2015, also thought to be the work of Russian hackers.

However, there are only two major utilities in Vermont, which the article DID acknowledge – but the writers decided actually contacting either of the utilities was unnecessary. Again, the information in the 8-paragraph article was the confession of “anonymous officials.” The DHS declined to comment.

In a matter of two hours, sans editor’s notes or updates to the time stamp, the article grew from 8 paragraphs to 18, adding new claims that multiple computers at the utility had been breached and that there was a frantic investigation to determine how and when the electric grid had been hacked. Again, the hacking was presented as part of the broader DNC and Podesta email hacks.

Still, no one from the Post contacted either of Vermont’s major electric companies.

At 9:37pm, a mere hour and a half after the Post’s article began to go viral, Burlington Electric Department released a statement that, no, in fact, the electrical grid was NOT compromised. There were not multiple computer breaches. ONE work laptop, NOT connected to the grid, was infected with Malware – Malware that, while associated with the Russian hacks, can be bought online, picked up from any malicious website, and is not special to Russian hackers in any way.

Even after the statement, the Washington Post amended their story, but only slightly – the article, with the now updated time stamp of 10:30pm and still no editor’s note, still claimed that a Russian operation hacked a Vermont utility and suggested that Russia was actively trying to hack the US electrical grid. The new report mentioned the one laptop with malware, but still claimed multiple computers had been breached. When an editor’s note DID appear, stating that the previous article had been erroneous, the note was tucked in at the bottom of the article. However, the note only appeared after several other news outlets called them out on their mistakes.

The article still was pumping the gas of hysteria, with quotes from the governor calling for a full investigation, and end to “Russian meddling,” and the statement that, “Vermonters and all Americans should be both alarmed and outraged that one of the world’s leading thugs, Vladimir Putin, has been attempting to hack our electric grid.” Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy said he was briefed by the state police and was quoted as saying that the “hack” was a direct threat to Vermont and that Russia was trying to “manipulate the grid and shut it down in the middle of winter.” The headline, which is what only 60% of people will ever read, still states that Russians hacked a Vermont utility and that the electrical grid is at risk, though the editor’s note has now been moved to the top of the article and has been inserted into the caption under the main photograph.

Some good did come of it, though – there are now some fantastic 1984 references to the Ministry of Truth on Burlington Electric’s Facebook page.

Four people have been arrested in Chicago after livestreaming a Facebook video showing a group of people torturing an 18-year-old mentally disabled man. The captors, all black, are shown hitting and kicking the man, who was white, as well as cutting his clothes, hair, and scalp with a knife while he is bound and gagged. The video also showed him being forced to drink water from a toilet and being ordered to curse Trump at knife-point. Several times during the videos, the captors yell “Fuck Trump” and “Fuck white people.” When a neighbor complained about the noise, the two women involved allegedly went to the neighbor and kicked down their door.

According to police, current reports indicate that the man met with some acquaintances who then drove him to an apartment in a stolen vehicle, where he was then held and tortured for several hours. He was later released and was found wandering down the street in a state of shock. The man’s parents reported him missing on Monday, telling police they had not heard from him since New Years Eve, which he was supposed to be spending with classmate and suspect Jordan Hill.

The suspects, all aged 18 and 24, have been charged with a hate crime, felony aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Three of them are also facing burglary charges.

A new report from 538 claims that what REALLY cost Hillary the election was all the registered voters who stayed home on election day, as they were mostly democratic leaning. In fact, according to the report, out of a survey of 100,000, roughly 35% of registered Democrats didn’t vote. Younger, non-white voters were also more likely to stay home.

Representative Thomas Massie has relaunched the Congressional Second Amendment Caucus and announced on Thursday the re-introduction of an old Ron Paul bill to repeal gun-free zones at schools. HR 34, also called the Safe Students Act, would repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990.
The bill has already received support from the NRA, Gun Owners of America, and the National Association for Gun Rights.

Massie and Senator Rand Paul have also re-introduced legislation to Audit the Fed and subject the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy to outside scrutiny by the Government Accountability Office. Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen has been very vocal against an audit, but supporters of the bill say it now may have the best chance of passing as both chambers of Congress are now controlled by Republicans who have been critical of the Federal Reserve and its policies. The proposal has support on both sides of the aisle and has passed the House several times in the past, only to die in the Senate.

The South Korean government has appointed a new Twitter officer to monitor Donald Trump’s tweets. Korean news outlets reported this week that the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ North American Affairs Bureau has assigned an officer to screen Trump’s Twitter account for tweets related to Korea and northeast Asia. The report pointed out that much of the world has little insight into Trump’s plans for foreign policy, and his Tweets are currently the most information most foreign governments have. On Monday, Trump tweeted about both China and North Korea. In the past, the Korean Embassy in Washington would write reports on statements and policies and send them back to Seoul. Instead, all Asia-related tweets are now reported directly to the Korean Foreign Minister.

Mere hours after declaring that prosecutors in Florida could not seek the death penalty under existing state law, the state’s Supreme Court rescinded the order on Wednesday, claiming it had been posted due to “human error.” Spokesman Craig Waters said the statement had not been ready for publication as it references current, ongoing cases. He did not say whether or not the ruling would be changed.

In a 5-2 ruling, the Court rejected a request to let prosecutors seek the death penalty, so long as the jury had voted unanimously. The justices stated that such a request was unconstitutional and cannot be applied to future cases.

But the decision was rescinded for a second reason – it contained a typo that referenced a statute that does not actually exist.

The National Park Service proposed revisions to the regulations around smoking in national parks this week. The proposed revisions would also ban vaping in all public parks by changing the definition of smoking to include the use of e-cigarettes and electronic nicotine delivery systems. It would also allow the service to close off any area, building, or structure to vaping when the service feels it is necessary in order to protect public health. The rules would also make permanent previous orders that banned e-cigarettes anywhere where smoking tobacco was already restricted.

Philadelphia residents are now feeling the effects of a new soda tax that went into affect on January 1st. The new tax rate is 1.5 cents per ounce – making the tax 24 times more expensive than the city’s tax on beer. The new tax has caused many sugary drinks to double in price. One receipt showing over $3 in tax on a $5.99 12 pack on sports drinks went viral after being posted to social media. The price of a 12 pack of Propel is now more than a cheap 12 pack of beer.

City officials told local news that the tax was intended to hit distributors, and seem to be shocked that the cost is being passed on to customers. Already, small businesses are complaining of decreased sales as customers are flooding to restaurants and grocery stores outside city limits, as the tax is also being applied to soda fountains. The new tax requires more paperwork and the city is planning to hire more tax collectors to track compliance.

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