IT40 News for 01/17/2019

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#1 FBI records, emails, Social Security numbers exposed in massive data leak, security experts say

© Yuri Gripas/Reuters
The Federal Bureau of Investigation seal is seen at FBI headquarters in Washington, June 14, 2018.

A massive data leak has been discovered at the Oklahoma Securities Commission, in which millions of records -- including files related to sensitive FBI investigations over the last seven years, emails dating back 17 years and thousands of Social Security numbers -- have been exposed.

The breach was uncovered last month by Greg Pollock, a cybersecurity researcher at UpGuard, who claims the millions of files were publicly available on an online server and didn’t require any password to access them.

“It represents a compromise of the entire integrity of the Oklahoma Department of Securities’ network,” UpGuard’s Chris Vickery told Forbes, the first outlet that reported the breach. “It affects an entire state level agency. … It’s massively noteworthy.”

The Oklahoma agency is in charge of all financial securities business in the state and is tasked with regulation and enforcement of the business.

Vickery told Forbes that the exposed FBI files included “all sorts of archive enforcement actions” from the last seven years. The records also contained documents with agent-filled timelines of interviews related to investigations, bank transaction histories and emails from parties related to cases.

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#2 Floods, mudslides, wind, blizzards: Thursday will be another wild weather day in California

California will see one more day of wild weather Thursday before a calmer pattern settles in.

The National Weather Service had issued a slew of weather warnings and alerts throughout the state by late Wednesday. High winds, rough surf, floods, mudslides, heavy snow, avalanches and blizzards were all in the forecast.  

On Wednesday, a mudslide on a freeway near San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge snarled morning traffic. Crashes were also reported in Southern California, one of which included 19 vehicles and injured 35 people on Cajon Pass near Victorville.

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday night that rock slides near Malibu had closed Malibu Canyon Road, one of the area's primary roadways.

A day earlier, an accident on a rain-slicked road in Placerville, 130 miles east of San Francisco, killed three people.

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#3 Cohen Hired IT Firm to Rig Early CNBC, Drudge Polls to Favor Trump

© AP Photo/Mary Altaffer/File
In a Monday, April 16, 2018 file photo, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, center, leaves federal court, in New York.

In early 2015, a man who runs a small technology company showed up at Trump Tower to collect $50,000 for having helped Michael Cohen, then Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, try to rig online polls in his boss’s favor before the presidential campaign.

In his Trump Organization office, Mr. Cohen surprised the man, John Gauger, by giving him a blue Walmart bag containing between $12,000 and $13,000 in cash and, randomly, a boxing glove that Mr. Cohen said had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter, Mr. Gauger said.

Mr. Cohen disputed that he handed over a bag of cash. “All monies paid to Mr. Gauger were by check,” he said, offering no further comment on his ties to the consultant.

Mr. Gauger owns RedFinch Solutions LLC and is chief information officer at Liberty University in Virginia, where Jerry Falwell Jr., an evangelical leader and fervent Trump supporter, is president.

Mr. Gauger said he never got the rest of what he claimed he was owed. But Mr. Cohen in early 2017 still asked for — and received — a $50,000 reimbursement from Mr. Trump and his company for the work by RedFinch, according to a government document and a person familiar with the matter. The reimbursement — made on the sole basis of a handwritten note from Mr. Cohen and paid largely out of Mr. Trump’s personal account — demonstrates the level of trust the lawyer once had within the Trump Organization, whose officials arranged the repayment.

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#4 “Super blood wolf moon” will light up the sky Sunday

A rare lunar eclipse will unfold Sunday night — and it'll be hard to miss if you stay up. As long as the weather cooperates, the "super blood wolf moon" will be visible across the U.S., Europe and parts of Africa and Russia.

According to, this will be the first total lunar eclipse that will be visible before midnight from start to finish in the majority of the U.S. in 19 years. It's also the first total lunar eclipse visible in North America in three years.

The super blood wolf moon is combination of three lunar events at once. A supermoon is when the moon is closest to Earth in its orbit during its full phase, making it appear bigger. Wolf moon is a Native American name for the first full moon of the year. A blood moon occurs with a total lunar eclipse when the sun, Earth and moon all line up and the shadow of the Earth casts a reddish glow on its lone natural satellite.

The lunar event will last about five hours, beginning at 9:36 p.m ET Sunday, Jan. 20 and ending about 1:50 a.m. ET Monday, Jan. 21. The beginning of the total eclipse phase will occur at 11:41 p.m. ET, according to NASA. The duration of totality will be 62 minutes.

Unlike a solar eclipse, which you need special protective glasses to view safely, it's perfectly safe to look up at a lunar eclipse with the naked eye.

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#6 SMILF creator Frankie Shaw discusses misconduct allegations with Seth Meyers

Following allegations of misconduct against Showtime’s SMILF and its creator and star Frankie Shaw, the showrunner tells Seth Meyers she’s course correcting moving forward.

“I would say I’ve learned so much, there’s so many lessons,” she told Meyers during an appearance on Late Night that aired Wednesday. “I went from making short films in my basement to running a crew of over 215 people and there are a lot of lessons along the way. I’m right now thinking of a better structure for communication and how to delegate more and have a team around me and thinking about how everyone can feel seen and heard, essentially.”

Meyers commented that, after reading about the claims, he thought about how there aren’t courses for new showrunners to learn how to manage. “I hope all networks take this as an opportunity to be like, ‘Oh, we have to make sure that people who are in charge understand that responsibility,” he said.

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#8 Airports, customs, trade: Europe preps for a chaotic Brexit

PARIS — One by one, European Union nations are spending millions, hiring thousands of workers and issuing emergency decrees to cope with the increasingly likely possibility that Britain will leave the bloc on March 29 without a plan.

A no-deal Brexit would shake up the rest of the continent in ways that many Europeans haven't even fathomed.

France is spending 50 million euros ($57 million) to beef up security at airports and the Eurotunnel and hiring hundreds of extra customs officers.

Portugal is opening special airport lanes for British travelers, the nation's main source of tourists. Germany is fast-tracking a debate on solving bureaucratic problems if there is no Brexit deal.

Governments from the Netherlands to Romania and the Czech Republic are preparing rules for British citizens to live and work in their countries once they no longer enjoy EU residency rights — and expecting that Britain is doing the same for their citizens.

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#9 German tourist Monika Billen found dead in Australian outback

The body of missing German tourist Monika Billen has been found in Australia's far north, Northern Territory police said in a statement.

The 62-year-old had been reported missing on January 9 after she failed to return to her accommodation in Alice Springs, a rural town in the center of Australia.

Police said at the time it was believed Billen had been interested in walking a number of local bush trails. She was last seen in person by hotel staff on January 1.

The body was discovered Wednesday 2.9 kilometers (1.8 miles) west of Emily Gap, close to Alice Springs, off a track and under a tree, police said.

"It is deeply upsetting that we have to tell her family this sad news, but we are relieved to be able to provide them with answers," Superintendent Pauline Vicary of the Alice Springs Division said in a statement.

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#10 Theresa May, Britain’s Lady of Perpetual Crisis

LONDON — It’s Wednesday morning. Theresa May’s career is over, as a glance at the morning papers will confirm.

Her Brexit deal, the product of two and a half years of agonizing negotiation, has been rejected by a margin of 230 votes, in the worst defeat in British history. “No Deal … No Hope … No Clue … No Confidence,” declares the Mirror. The Sun photoshops her face onto the body of a dodo.

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Now it’s Wednesday afternoon. Hey! She’s back!

The Labour Party is making a bid to dissolve the government. Leaping to Mrs. May’s defense like gallant knights are fellow Tories, among them many who have spent the last few months plotting to remove her.

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#11 North Korean official reportedly heading to US for talks

BEIJING — A senior North Korean official arrived in Beijing on Thursday, reportedly en route to the United States for talks ahead of a possible second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Kim Yong Chol, a former spy chief, arrived at Beijing's airport and was booked to leave on a flight for Washington with two other North Korean officials later in the day, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said.

A motorcade that included the North Korean ambassador's car and a Chinese car with a sign reading "state guest" could be seen departing from a VIP area at the airport.

Neither the U.S. nor North Korea has announced any meetings.

Kim Yong Chol has been holding talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on North Korea's nuclear weapons program and related issues.

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#12 Venezuela children left behind as parents flee to find work abroad

CARACAS (Reuters) — Yusneiker and Anthonella have been living with their grandmother since their father left Venezuela and its collapsing economy last year for Peru, to try and earn enough to feed them. Two years earlier, their mother fled for the Dominican Republic for the same reason.

Yusneiker, 12, and Anthonella, 8, are eating better thanks to hard currency remittances from their parents, according to their grandmother Aura Orozco, who is grateful for the dollars that offer a reprieve from Venezuela's annual inflation of nearly 2 million percent.

Still, she said, they miss their parents.

When they fall sick, they clamor for their mother. Though Yusneiker has adapted, Anthonella's grades have slipped. The dark-eyed, curly-haired girl has clammed up and often answers her grandmother by simply nodding or shaking her head.

"To this day, she will lay down and if you ask her 'what is wrong?' she will say 'I miss my mommy,'" said Orozco, 48, in her home in the hillside Caracas slum of Cota 905.

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#13 Anti-China Feelings Have Reached ‘Hysteria’ Level

A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry has said that anti-Chinese feelings have reached a level of “hysteria” in the United States, while state-run media have compared the growing sentiments in Washington to “McCarthyism.”

Hua Chunying responded on behalf of the Chinese government to news that a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. had proposed legislation that would ban the sale of chips and other components to Chinese telecom companies Huawei and ZTE.

“I believe the action of these few representatives are an expression of extreme arrogance and an extreme lack of self-confidence,” Hua said, Reuters reported on Thursday. She argued that “the real intent of the United States is to employ its state apparatus in every conceivable way to suppress and block out China’s high-tech companies.”

The Wall Street Journal also reported on Wednesday that Huawei was being targeted in a U.S. criminal probe over the alleged theft of trade secrets from American competitors, such as T-Mobile. Huawei and ZTE have previously been accused by Washington of being linked directly to China’s communist government, with U.S. intelligence officials and politicians warning that the companies could use their products and services for espionage in service of Beijing.

The Global Times , a Chinese state-run English-language newspaper, published an editorial on Thursday slamming the the U.S. response to the companies as “high-tech McCarthyism.”

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#14 Jason Spindler, U.S. businessman killed in Nairobi terrorist attack, had survived 9/11

An American businessman who died in a terrorist attack on a luxury hotel in Nairobi had missed by only minutes being at his office in the World Trade Center on 9/11, according to his father.

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Jason Spindler of Houston was among 21 people killed Tuesday when gunmen attacked the DustitD2 complex in the Kenyan capital, the State Department confirmed Thursday. Five militants died in the assault.

The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group, which carried out an attack five years ago on another hotel in Nairobi that killed 67 people, has claimed responsibility for the latest deadly assault.

"These craven attacks are a stark reminder of why the United States remains resolved in our fight to defeat terrorism," Robert Palladino, deputy spokesman at the State Department. said late Wednesday. "We stand with the Kenyan government and people as they confront violent extremism and work to bring the perpetrators to justice."

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#15 With Town Halls, Venezuela Opposition Regroups to Take on Maduro

(Bloomberg) -- Small, hastily organized town hall meetings are popping up all across Venezuela as the country’s opposition regroups around a new leader and works up plans to try to break President Nicolas Maduro’s hold on power.

Largely dormant since a government crackdown in mid-2017, the opposition is coalescing once more and may have found a new leader in Juan Guaido, the freshly minted National Assembly president, who’s galvanized support by asserting that the constitution provides the lawful means to end Maduro’s strongman rule and establish a caretaker government.

Fellow lawmakers and activists are fanning out to industrial cities and coastal towns to explain the idea and fire up a nation worn down by a collapsing economy and government oppression. On Wednesday, assemblies were held simultaneously in the capital and at least two other states, drawing crowds that numbered in the hundreds.

Juan Guaido

Guaido, 35, told residents in a southeast Caracas middle-class neighborhood Wednesday evening that the road ahead would be long and depended on the support of the international community and the military, long seen as a crucial power broker in Venezuela.

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#16 How the U.S. Is Quietly Winning the Hypersonic Arms Race

The United States, Russia, and China all tested new super-fast “hypersonic” munitions in 2018, escalating a global competition for weaponry that can strike farther and harder than ever before and potentially defeat existing defenses.

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The Russian and Chinese hypersonics tests were the most dramatic. But the much quieter American trial pointed toward a much more immediate and widespread transformation of military capabilities than the Russians or Chinese are likely to achieve.

The world's armies have long eyed faster munitions, especially faster munitions that also are maneuverable. Swifter, nimbler rockets could strike with less warning and evade missile-defense systems. Speedier, more streamlined artillery shells could travel farther and impact with greater destructive force.

Most experts agree: If a weapon can travel at least five times the speed of sound, it's hypersonic—although some say the munition must be maneuverable, too, to be effective.

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#17 China’s first plant to grow on the moon is already dead

The first plant to be grown on the moon by humans is likely dead already, Chinese scientists said Thursday.

Just days after China revealed a cotton seed had sprouted on a lunar lander and become what was possibly the first plant life to grow on Earth's nearest neighbor, scientists ended the experiment when they shut down power remotely.

The seeds were contained inside a special container situated in China's Chang'e 4 probe, which became the first successful mission to the far side of the moon on January 3.

Activated on landing, the self-contained biosphere was designed to raise seeds and hatch fruit fly eggs in an attempt to create a tiny ecosystem and assess how it reacted to the high-radiation, low-gravity environment.

Chinese scientists hoped the experiment might help inform future moon colonists' attempts to cultivate food on the desolate body.

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#18 New migrant caravan has left Honduras bound for the US amid government shutdown

A new caravan of migrants headed for the United States has left San Pedro Sula, the same city in Honduras where a large caravan left in October and arrived at the United States' southern border in November.

The earlier caravan ballooned to more than 5,000 people before traveling through Guatemala and Mexico and then reaching Tijuana, along the way prompting President Donald Trump to deploy thousands of military troops to the southern border.

The latest caravan is part of a growing wave of Central Americans, among them many families with children and children unaccompanied by parents, arriving at the southern border and requesting asylum, amid a government shutdown now in its fourth week over a dispute over border wall funding between Trump and congressional Democrats.  

More: Central American migrants keep heading toward USA, even as Trump focuses on stopping caravans

Trump says additional border barriers are needed to stop the wave of migrants from Central America from coming, most of whom he claims do not qualify for asylum.

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#19 Colombia’s lesser known rebel group still delivers violence and wreaks havoc

BOGOTA, Colombia — The Colombian rebel group known as the National Liberation Army delivered an unwelcome new year message, exploding two bombs on the Cano Limon-to-Covenas oil pipeline in the eastern province of Arauca.

The Jan. 9 attacks disrupted delivery of crude to the Andean country's major export harbor and caused nasty spills. Though no deaths were reported, the bombings illustrated how the nation remains plagued by insurgent violence that stunts economic development and wreaks havoc in rural areas despite the government's peace agreement in late 2016 with the 14,000-member Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

The National Liberation Army, better known as ELN, the initials for its name in Spanish, Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional, has grown in strength since the FARC demobilized, adding about 1,000 members to the 1,500 fighters it had before the peace deal, said Orlando Hernandez, a former officer with the Colombian National Police and now a security expert with the Agora Consulting risk analysis firm in Medellin. Many of the newer ELN members are former FARC fighters who declined to disarm, he said.

The violent means the ELN uses to pursue its social justice goals for poor or oppressed people have left it with slight public support. The government blames it for 5,700 kidnappings since 1996, and the group is believed to be holding about 250 people hostage. Officials also say the ELN has perpetrated 328 pipeline bombings since 2012, causing numerous oil spills and the loss of more than a million barrels of crude since the start of 2017.

On and off peace negotiations between the government and ELN since 2015 have been inconclusive. Near-term chances of a deal seem remote with new Colombian President Ivan Duque having criticized the FARC accord forged by his predecessor, Juan Manuel Santos, as too generous.

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#20 A new migrant caravan has left Honduras bound for the U.S. amid government shutdown

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#21 Visa Overstays Exceed Illegal Border Crossings: Study

As President Donald Trump fights to get his long-promised border wall built, bringing the country into its 27th day of the ongoing partial government shutdown, a new study has highlighted the fact that visa overstays far exceed unauthorized border crossings in the U.S.–and have done for the past seven years. 

The study, released on Wednesday by the Center for Migration Studies, found that from 2016 to 2017 people overstaying their visas made up about 62 percent of new undocumented immigrants in the country, compared to just 38 percent who crossed the border outside of designated ports of entry. 

Read more: Trump's military border mission could cost U.S. $470 million in Fiscal Year 2019 alone

The findings lend support to critics of Trump's border wall bid, who argue that building a barrier between the U.S. and Mexico would do little to address illegal immigration. 

"It is clear from our research that persons who overstay their visas add to the U.S. undocumented population at a higher rate than border crossers. This is not a blip, but a trend which has become the norm," CMS Executive Director Donald Kerwin said in a statement published online.

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#22 This is what Cardi B has to say about the government shutdown

By Faith Karimi, CNN

Updated 7:24 AM ET, Thu January 17, 2019

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#23 Germs bassist Lorna Doom dead at 61

Lorna Doom at the 2008 Vans Warped Tour in Los Angeles, Calif. Doom's cause of death was not immediately clear.

The bassist for the punk rock band The Germs, Lorna Doom, has died. She was 61.

Doom's bandmate, drummer Don Bolles, confirmed the sad news on Facebook Wednesday.

“She left this mortal coil today around 1," Bolles commented on his Facebook post, where he simply shared Lorna's name.

Doom's cause of death was not immediately clear.

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#24 Lorna Doom, bassist with cult Los Angeles punk band Germs, dies

Lorna Doom, the bassist with cult Los Angeles punk band Germs, has died. Born Teresa Ryan, her age and cause of death is unknown, her death made public when the band’s drummer Don Bolles posted on Facebook: “She left this mortal coil today [Wednesday] around 1.”

Tributes have been paid by punk musician Laura Jane Grace, who tweeted: “I can still see the ‘Germs burn’ on my wrist from when I was 14 years old. Few bands had as big of an impact on me.” Katy Goodman of indie-rock group Vivian Girls wrote: “RIP Lorna Doom. The germs burn on my wrist originated from you.” The “germs burn” was a cigarette burn by which fans showed allegiance to the band.

Formed in 1976, Germs were one of the earliest and most influential west coast punk bands, helping to usher in the high-speed hardcore punk style. Their only album, (GI), was produced by Joan Jett and released in 1979. Belinda Carlisle had a short stint as a drummer, while their guitarist Pat Smear would go on to join Nirvana as a touring guitarist and then Foo Fighters. The band’s singer Darby Crash killed himself in 1980, aged 22, shortly after the band had split.

Germs featured heavily in Penelope Spheeris’s 1981 documentary of the LA punk scene, The Decline of Western Civilization, and their story was later told in the 2007 biopic What We Do Is Secret.

Following the release of the film, Germs reformed with Shane West, who played Crash in the film, as frontman. Doom said of her life following Crash’s death: “I moved to New York and was married. I did various things. I guess I was waiting for Shane to be born and to grow up and resume the position … this is the craziest thing that has ever happened to me; that this little group you thought you would never see or playing again, is now performing again. it’s about as crazy as you can get. It’s a good crazy.”

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#25 Initial US assessment says ISIS behind Syria bombing

By Ryan Browne and Zachary Cohen, CNN

Updated 11:50 AM ET, Thu January 17, 2019

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#27 Michael Cohen says he paid tech firm to rig online polls ‘at the direction of’ Trump

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#28 Michael Cohen offered Liberty University CIO $50,000 to rig two online polls for Trump, report says

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump's former fixer and personal attorney Michael Cohen paid a technology expert to rig online polls in Trump's favor, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

John Gauger, the owner of Red Finch Solutions and chief information officer at Liberty University, said Cohen offered him $50,000 to manipulate two news sites' polls, the Journal reported Thursday, citing a government document and a person familiar with the matter. 

Gauger said Cohen handed him a Walmart bag loaded with about $12,000 in cash during a 2015 meeting at Cohen's Trump Organization office. Cohen also threw in a boxing glove he said was once worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter.But he never paid Gauger the remainder of the promised $50,000, the Journal said. 

Cohen did not deny the report in a tweet Thursday morning, saying, "What I did was at the direction of and for the sole benefit of" Trump.

"I truly regret my blind loyalty to a man who doesn't deserve it," wrote the man who once said he would "take a bullet" for the president.  

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#29 In sharp reversal, Giuliani now claims: ‘I never said there was no collusion between the campaign’ and Russia

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#30 Rudy Giuliani just totally contradicted 18 months of ‘no collusion’ talk from Donald Trump

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

Updated 2:20 PM ET, Thu January 17, 2019

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