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Monday, 17 April 2017

Pence warns NKorea 'era of strategic patience is over

Mike Pence puts North Korea on warning after missile test, saying 'era of strategic patience' is over
PHOTO: US Vice President Mike Pence looks toward North Korea from inside the DMZ (Reuters: Kim Hong-Ji)
PANMUNJOM, South Korea — Viewing his adversaries in the distance, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence traveled to the tense zone dividing North and South Korea and warned Pyongyang that after years of testing the U.S. and South Korea with its nuclear ambitions, “the era of strategic patience is over.”
Pence made an unannounced visit to the Demilitarized Zone at the start of his 10-day trip to Asia in a U.S. show of force that allowed the vice president to gaze at North Korean soldiers from afar and stare directly across a border marked by razor wire. As the brown bomber jacket-clad vice president was briefed near the military demarcation line, two North Korean soldiers watched from a short distance away, one taking multiple photographs of the American visitor.
Pence told reporters near the DMZ that President Donald Trump was hopeful that China would use its “extraordinary levers” to pressure the North to abandon its weapons program, a day after the North’s failed missile launch. But Pence expressed impatience with the unwillingness of the regime to move toward ridding itself of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Pointing to the quarter-century since the United States first confronted North Korea over its attempts to build nuclear weapons, the vice president said a period of patience had followed.

“But the era of strategic patience is over,” Pence declared. “President Trump has made it clear that the patience of the United States and our allies in this region has run out and we want to see change. We want to see North Korea abandon its reckless path of the development of nuclear weapons, and also its continual use and testing of ballistic missiles is unacceptable.”
Later Monday, Pence said in a joint statement alongside South Korean Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn that the United States’ commitment to its ally is “iron-clad and immutable.” Pence reiterated that “all options are on the table” to deal with threat and said that any use of nuclear weapons by Pyongyang would be met with “an overwhelming and effective response.”
The vice president earlier visited a military installation near the DMZ, Camp Bonifas, for a briefing with military leaders. He also met with American troops stationed at the joint U.S.-South Korean military camp, which is just outside the 2.5-mile (4.02-kilometer)-wide DMZ. Under rainfall, Pence later stood a few meters from the military demarcation line outside Freedom House, gazing at the North Korean soldiers across the border.
In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaking to a parliamentary session Monday, said: “Needless to say, diplomatic effort is important to maintain peace. But dialogue for the sake of having dialogue is meaningless.”
“We need to apply pressure on North Korea so they seriously respond to a dialogue” with the international community, he said, urging China and Russia to play more constructive roles on the issue. deforested stretch of North Korea from a lookout post in the hillside.
Pence’s visit, full of Cold War symbolism, came amid increasing tensions and heated rhetoric on the Korean Peninsula. While the North did not conduct a nuclear test, the specter of a potential test and an escalated U.S. response has trailed Pence as he undertakes his Asian tour.
Trump wrote Sunday on Twitter that China was working with the United States on “the North Korea problem.” His national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said the U.S. would rely on its allies as well as Chinese leadership to resolve the issues with North Korea.
McMaster cited Trump’s recent decision to order missile strikes in Syria after a chemical attack blamed on the Assad government, as a sign that the president “is clearly comfortable making tough decisions.” But at the same time, McMaster said on “This Week” on ABC that “it’s time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully.”
Pence told reporters that the North Korean people and military “should not mistake the resolve of the United States of America to stand with our allies,” calling the alliance “iron-clad.” He said the U.S. and its allies would deal with the situation “through peaceable means or ultimately by whatever means are necessary.”
After a two-month policy review, the Trump administration settled on a policy dubbed “maximum pressure and engagement,” U.S. officials said Friday. The administration’s immediate emphasis, they said, was to be on increasing pressure on Pyongyang with the help of Beijing.
The officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the results of the policy review and requested anonymity.
Pence sought to explain the policy in meetings with South Korea Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn and other top officials in Seoul at the start of the trip, which will also include stops in Japan, Indonesia and Australia. He will aim to reassure allies in South Korea and Japan that the U.S. will take appropriate steps to defend them against North Korean aggression.
The concerns were exacerbated after a North Korean missile exploded during launch on Sunday, U.S. and South Korean officials said. The high-profile failure came as the North tried to showcase its nuclear and missile capabilities around the birth anniversary of the North’s late founder and as a U.S. aircraft carrier neared the Korean Peninsula.
The Trump administration is hoping that China will help rein in North Korea in exchange for other considerations. Last week, Trump said he would not declare China a currency manipulator, pulling back from a campaign promise, as he looked for help from Beijing, which is the North’s dominant trade partner.
“Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!” Trump tweeted on Sunday.
Along with the deployment of the U.S. aircraft carrier and other vessels into waters off the Korean Peninsula, thousands of U.S. and South Korean troops, tanks and other weaponry were deployed last month in their biggest joint military exercises. That led North Korea to issue routine threats of attacks on its rivals if they show signs of aggression.
The White House foreign policy adviser traveling with Pence told reporters that the type of missile that North Korea tried to fire on Sunday was medium-range, and that it exploded about 4 to 5 seconds after it was launched.
The North regularly launches short-range missiles, but is also developing mid-range and long-range missiles meant to target U.S. troops in Asia and, eventually, the U.S. mainland.
North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, including two last year. Recent satellite imagery suggests the country could conduct another underground nuclear test at any time.
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Sunday, 16 April 2017

OMG such a crazy cat

OMG such a crazy cat
such a crazy cat

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Still we can reverse some of the worst effects of global warming

Still we can reverse some of the worst effects of global warming

Global warming has a PR problem. “Climate change is too slow a problem to solve in time,” as one expert puts it. Emissions we put out today won’t have much effect on the world for decades to come, so the issue lacks urgency.
That may be changing. Every day, we wake up to news about damage that can be directly attributed to our pumping out ever-increasing amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
“Great Barrier Reef at terminal stage,” says one headline today. It explains how in the entire recorded history of the reef, there have been only four mass die-offs of coral: in 1998, 2002, 2016, and 2017. What’s the cause? Rising ocean temperatures caused by global warming, of course.
The good news is that there is still time to act. In a study published in Nature Climate Change, British scientists find that, if we start cutting emissions soon, we could reverse some of the worst effects of global warming.
Specifically, the researchers looked at extreme heatwaves, such as the one in India which killed more than 2,500 people in 2015 or the one in Europe which killed as many as 70,000 people in 2003. First, they calculated how often such events would occur if we did nothing to cut our emissions. Next, they considered how much emissions would need to be reduced to halve the probability of such events taking place.

Even if we don’t start cutting emissions until 2020, we can reduce the likelihood of extreme heatwaves as early as 2040, the study concludes. This is much sooner than previous predictions, which reckon that the benefits of reducing emissions do not emerge until much later in the century.
How drastic would the emissions reductions need to be to have this effect? Luckily, the goals set by the Paris climate agreement are much more aggressive than what we need to avert extreme heatwaves.
And although 2040 is a long time away, most people alive today will still be around to experience it. So although it may be too late to save the Great Barrier Reef, there is hope that action today can save countless human lives—not abstract future generations, but the people around us today.
Source: Quartz
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Scientists measure brightness of the universe with NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft

Scientists measure brightness of the universe with NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft

Scientists struggled for decades to measure how much light produced by all of the galaxies in the universe. But NASA found something unexpected during its New Horizons mission. They discovered a tool for measuring the brightness of the all the galaxies.
Talking about the discovery, an assistant professor in RIT’s School of Physics and Astronomy and member of RIT’s Center for Detectors and Future Photon Initiative, said
“Determining how much light comes from all the galaxies beyond our own Milky Way galaxy has been a stubborn challenge in observational astrophysics,”
The finding is published in the Nature Communications this week. According to the study, the latest observation could be possible with the help of New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager, or LORRI instrument. The light shining beyond the Milky Way is known as the cosmic optical background. Zemcov’s findings give an upper limit to the amount of light in the cosmic optical background.
“The study is proof that this kind of measurement is possible from the outer solar system, and that LORRI is capable of doing it,” Zemcov said.
He futher added “This result shows some of the promise of doing astronomy from the outer solar system. What we’re seeing is that the optical background is completely consistent with the light from galaxies and we don’t see a need for a lot of extra brightness; whereas previous measurements from near the Earth need a lot of extra brightness. The study is proof that this kind of measurement is possible from the outer solar system, and that LORRI is capable of doing it.”
Spacecraft in the outer solar system give scientists virtual front-row seats for observing the cosmic optical background. The faint light from distant galaxies is hard to see from the inner solar system because it is polluted by the brightness of sunlight reflected off interplanetary dust in the inner solar system.
Cosmic dust is sooty bits of rock and small debris that moved, over time, from the outer solar system toward the sun. Scientists launching experiments on sounding rockets and satellites must account for the dust that makes the Earth’s atmosphere many times brighter than the cosmic optical background.
NASA’s New Horizons mission has been funded through 2021, and Zemcov is hopeful for the chance to use Long Range Reconnaissance Imager to re-measure the brightness of the cosmic optical background.
“NASA sends missions to the outer solar system once a decade or so,” Zemcov said. “What they send is typically going to planets and the instruments onboard are designed to look at them, not to do astrophysics. Measurements could be designed to optimize this technique while LORRI is still functioning.”
Zemcov’s method harkens back to NASA’s first long distance missions Pioneer 10 and 11 in 1972 and 1974. Light detectors on the instruments measured the brightness of objects outside the Milky Way and made the first direct benchmark of the cosmic optical background.
“With a carefully designed survey, we should be able to produce a definitive measurement of the diffuse light in the local universe and a tight constraint on the light from galaxies in the optical wavebands,” Zemcov said.
Archived data from New Horizon’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager show “the power of LORRI for precise low-foreground measurements of the cosmic optical background,” Zemcov wrote in the paper.
Chi Nguyen, a Ph.D. student in RIT’s astrophysical sciences and technology program, mined data sets from New Horizons’ 2006 launch, Jupiter fly-by and cruise phase. She isolated four different spots on the sky between Jupiter and Uranus, captured in 2007, 2008 and 2010, that met their criteria: looking away from the solar system and looking out the galaxy.
Poppy Immel, an undergraduate majoring in math and computer science, generated the data cuts and determined the photometric calibration of the instrument. Other co-authors include Asantha Cooray from University of California Irvine; Carey Lisee from Johns Hopkins University; and Andrew Poppe from UC Berkeley. Zemcov is affiliated with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
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A New, More Rigorous Study Confirms: The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel

A New, More Rigorous Study Confirms: The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel

The average Facebook user spends almost an hour on the site every day, according to data provided by the company last year. A Deloitte survey found that for many smartphone users, checking social media apps are the first thing they do in the morning – often before even getting out of bed. Of course, social interaction is a healthy and necessary part of human existence. Thousands of studies have concluded that most human beings thrive when they have strong, positive relationships with other human beings. 

The challenge is that most of the work on social interaction has been conducted using “real world,” face-to-face social networks, in contrast to the types of online relationships that are increasingly common. So, while we know that old-fashioned social interaction is healthy, what about social interaction that is completely mediated through an electronic screen? When you wake up in the morning and tap on that little blue icon, what impact does it have on you? 

Prior research has shown that the use of social media may detract from face-to-face relationships, reduce investment in meaningful activities, increase sedentary behavior by encouraging more screen time, lead to internet addiction  and erode self-esteem through unfavorable social comparison. Self-comparison can be a strong influence on human behavior, and because people tend to display the most positive aspects of their lives on social media, it is possible for an individual to believe that their own life compares negatively to what they see presented by others. But some skeptics have wondered if perhaps people with lower well-being are more likely to use social media, rather than social media causing lower well-being. Moreover, other studies have found that social media use has a positive impact on well-being through increased social support and reinforcement of  real world relationships. 

We wanted to get a clearer picture of the relationship between social media use and well-being. In our study, we used three waves of data from 5,208 adults from a national longitudinal panel maintained by the Gallup organization, coupled with several different measures of Facebook usage, to see how well-being changed over time in association with Facebook use. Our measures of well-being included life satisfaction, self-reported mental health, self-reported physical health, and body-mass index (BMI). Our measures of Facebook use included liking others’ posts, creating one’s own posts, and clicking on links. We also had measures of respondents’ real-world social networks.  In each wave, respondents were asked to name up to four friends with whom they discuss important matters and up to four friends with whom they spend their free time, so that each participant could name up to a total of eight unique individuals. 

Our approach had three strengths that set it apart from most of the previous work on the topic. First, we had three waves of data for many of our respondents over a period of two years. This allowed us to track how changes in social media use were associated with changes in well-being. Most studies done to date only use one period of data, limiting interpretations of conclusions to simple associations. Second, we had objective measures of Facebook use, pulled directly from participants’ Facebook accounts, rather than measures based on a person’s self-report. Third, in addition to the Facebook data, we had information regarding the respondents’ real-world social networks, which would allow us to directly compare the two influences (face-to-face networks and online interactions). Of course, our study has limitations too, including that we could not be certain about how fully representative it was because not everyone in the Gallup sample allowed us access to their Facebook data. 

Overall, our results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being. These results were particularly strong for mental health; most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year. We found consistently that both liking others’ content and clicking links significantly predicted a subsequent reduction in self-reported physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction. 

Our models included measures of real-world networks and adjusted for baseline Facebook use. When we accounted for a person’s level of initial well-being, initial real-world networks, and initial level of Facebook use, increased use of Facebook was still associated with a likelihood of diminished future well-being. This provides some evidence that the association between Facebook use and compromised well-being is a dynamic process. 

Although we can show that Facebook use seems to lead to diminished well-being, we cannot definitively say how that occurs. We did not see much difference between the three types of activity we measured — liking, posting, and clicking links, (although liking and clicking were more consistently significant) — and the impact on the user. This was interesting, because while we expected that “liking” other people’s content would be more likely to lead to negative self-comparisons and thus decreases in well-being, updating one’s own status and clicking links seemed to have a similar effect (although the nature of status updates can ostensibly be the result of social comparison-tailoring your own Facebook image based on how others will perceive it). 

Overall our results suggests that well-being declines are also matter of quantity of use rather than only quality of use. If this is the case, our results contrast with previous research arguing that the quantity of social media interaction is irrelevant, and that only the quality of those interactions matter. 

These results then may be relevant for other forms of social media. While many platforms expose the user to the sort of polished profiles of others that can lead to negative self-comparison, the issue of quantity of usage will be an issue for any social media platform.  While screen time in general can be problematic, the tricky thing about social media is that while we are using it, we get the impression that we are engaging in meaningful social interaction. Our results suggest that the nature and quality of this sort of connection is no substitute for the real world interaction we need for a healthy life. 

The full story when it comes to online social media use is surely complex. Exposure to the carefully curated images from others’ lives leads to negative self-comparison, and the sheer quantity of social media interaction may detract from more meaningful real-life experiences.  What seems quite clear, however, is that online social interactions are no substitute for the real thing. 

Original thread: 

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Monday, 10 April 2017

Booby-trapped Word documents in the wild exploit critical Microsoft 0day. There’s currently no patch for the bug, which affects most or all versions of Word.

Booby-trapped Word documents in the wild exploit critical Microsoft 0day

There’s currently no patch for the bug, which affects most or all versions of Word.

Security experts are reporting that Microsoft will patch the vulnerability on Tuesday. In the meantime, users can block
code-execution exploits by adding the following to their Windows registry: Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Word\Security\FileBlock\RtfFiles to 2 and OpenInProtectedView to 0. What follows is the report as it was published on Saturday.
There's a new zeroday attack in the wild that's surreptitiously installing malware on fully-patched computers. It does so by exploiting a vulnerability in most or all versions of Microsoft Word.
The attack starts with an e-mail that attaches a malicious 
Word document, according to a blog post published Saturday by researchers from security firm FireEye. Once opened, exploit code concealed inside the document connects to an attacker-controlled server. It downloads a maliciousHTML application file that's disguised to look like a document created in Microsoft's Rich Text Format. Behind the scenes, the .hta file downloads additional payloads from "different well-known malware families."
The attack is notable for several reasons. First, it bypasses most exploit mitigations: This capability allows it to work even against Windows 10, which security experts widely agree is Microsoft's most secure operating system to date. Second, unlike the vast majority of the Word exploits seen in the wild over the past few years, this new attack doesn't require targets to enable macros. Last, before terminating, the exploit opens a decoy Word document in an attempt to hide any sign of the attack that just happened.
The zeroday attacks were first reported Friday evening by researchers from security firm McAfee. In a blog post, they wrote:
"The exploit connects to a remote server (controlled by the attacker), downloads a file that contains HTML application content, and executes it as an .hta file. Because .hta is executable, the attacker gains full code execution on the victim's machine. Thus, this is a logical bug [that] gives the attackers the power to bypass any memory-based mitigations developed by Microsoft. The following is a part of the communications we captured:

The successful exploit closes the bait Word document and pops up a fake one to show the victim. In the background, the malware has already been stealthily installed on the victim's system.
The root cause of the zeroday vulnerability is related to the Windows Object Linking and Embedding (OLE), an important feature of Office. (Check our Black Hat USA 2015presentation in which we examine the attack surface of this feature.)
FireEye researchers said they have been communicating with Microsoft about the vulnerability for several weeks and had agreed not to publicly disclose it pending the release of a patch. FireEye later decided to publish Saturday's blog post after McAfee disclosed vulnerability details. McAfee, meanwhile, said the earliest attack its researchers are aware of dates back to January. Microsoft's next scheduled release of security updates is this Tuesday.
Zeroday attacks are typically served only on select individuals, such as those who work for a government contractor, a government agency, or a similar organization that's attractive to nation-sponsored hackers. Still, it's not uncommon for such attacks to be visited on larger populations once the underlying zeroday vulnerability becomes public knowledge.
People should be highly suspicious of any Word document that arrives in an e-mail, even if the sender is well known. The attacks observed by McAfee are unable to work when a booby-trapped document is viewed in an Office feature known as Protected View. Those who choose to open an attached Word document should exercise extreme caution before disabling Protected View. There's no word yet if use of Microsoft's Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit prevents the exploit from working.
Original thread: 
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MADRID -- An alleged Russian hacker has been detained in Spain at the request of American authorities, an arrest that set cybersecurity circles abuzz after a Russian broadcaster raised the possibility it was linked to the U.S. presidential election.

Pyotr Levashov was arrested Friday in Barcelona on a U.S. computer crimes warrant, according to a spokeswoman for Spain's National Court, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with court rules.

Such arrests aren't unusual - American authorities typically try to nab Russian cybercrime suspects abroad because of the difficulty involved in extraditing them from Russia - but Levashov's arrest drew immediate attention after his wife told Russia's RT broadcaster that he was linked to America's 2016 election hacking.

RT quoted Maria Levashova as saying that armed police stormed into their apartment in Barcelona overnight, keeping her and her friend locked in a room for two hours while they quizzed her husband. She said that when she spoke to her husband on the phone from the police station, he told her he was told that he had created a computer virus that was "linked to Trump's election win."

Levashova didn't elaborate, and the exact nature of the allegations weren't immediately clear. Malicious software is routinely shared, reworked and repurposed, meaning that even a computer virus' creator may have little or nothing to do with how the virus is eventually used.

Levashov's name is familiar in cybercrime circles. He has been alleged to be spam kingpin Peter Severa, according to Brian Krebs, a journalist who has written extensively about the Russian cybercrime underworld, and Spamhaus , a group which polices spam.

Levashov himself couldn't immediately be reached for comment, and officials did not say whether he had a lawyer

The U.S. Embassy in Spain declined comment. Russian Embassy spokesman Vasily Nioradze confirmed the arrest but wouldn't say whether he was a programmer, as reported by RT. He wouldn't comment on the U.S. extradition order.

"As it is routine in these cases, we offer consular support to our citizen," he said.

The Spanish spokeswoman said Levashov remains in custody.
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Uber is now totally banned in all of Italy || Business

Uber is now totally banned in all of Italy -

Forget getting kicked out of Austin — Uber just got banned from an entire country. 

The ride-hailing service is now blocked in Italy after a judge ruled Friday that it created unfair competition. 

Unlike rulings in other European countries, where the use of UberX or the European version (UberPop) has been limited, Italy's ruling blocks all of Uber's services: UberBLACK, UberLUX, UberX, UberXL and UberSelect among them. 

Italy's taxi associations succeeded in winning the ruling after they brought a lawsuit against Uber to court. In addition to its ban against Uber operating, the ruling also prevents Uber from advertising in Italy at all. 

Uber didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Mashable, but the company told Reuters that they were "shocked" by the decision and planned to appeal. 

Uber's last major loss got us RideAustin — get ready for RideItaly?

WATCH: Giant robot arm mounted on a truck can build a brick house in 48 hours

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This Time Congress Is Not Helping Trump Destroy the Planet

This Time Congress Is Not Helping Trump Destroy the Planet -
With budget battles and promised tax reform ahead, President Donald Trump is running out of time to claim legislative wins. Especially since most of them have been from his rollback of environmental regulations put forward during the waning days of the Obama administration.
So far, Trump has signed 11 bills using the Congressional Review Act, a 1996 law that lets Congress overturn federal rulemaking with a simple majority vote. Republicans have been striking down Obama-era regulations that were anathema to the oil, gas, and coal industries, among them an Environmental Protection Agency rule protecting streams from coal debris, an anti-bribery rule requiring oil companies to disclose foreign payments, and an obscure Bureau of Land Management rule updating land management guidance. The White House this week celebrated its triumphs during a press call in which legislative director Marc Short insisted, "If you take in totality what we've been trying to do on the regulatory front, it is a news story."
But there is a limit for this legislative free-for-all. Use of the CRA is time-limited to 60 congressional working days, so the opportunity to use the CRA to repeal rules from the Obama administration that stretch back to mid-2016 will end around mid-May. And one environmental executive order that should have been a slam dunk is in trouble. The bill to overturn a methane regulation for public lands that has been long disliked by the oil and gas industry has stalled in the Senate. A number of moderate and Western state Republican senators have worried about the implications of permanently restricting the Interior Department's ability to regulate methane emissions.
"They feel it's important to wipe out the chance for any regulation to happen ever again."
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gasreleased by natural gas, landfill, and agricultural industries. It is far more potent (86 times) than carbon over the short term (of 20 years). By letting methane leak into the atmosphere, humans aren't just supercharging global warming or letting toxic chemicals escape; natural gas is also leaking, which means lost money for the industry and taxpayers.
The Interior Department's methane and natural gas rule limits the release of methane from oil and gas operations on public lands, a common practice of venting, leaking, and flaring the potent greenhouse gas. The rule requires oil and gas operators to phase in equipment upgrades and monitoring of methane leaks over the next five years, with a price tag that the Interior Department estimated could be up to $279 million a year. But in 2016 the Interior Department determined the cost to the industry would be outweighed by the health and economic benefits.
The bill to repeal the methane rule passed the House in February. Advocates warned it could pass the Senate as far back as February. But it hasn't, for the simple reason that in this case, Republicans don't have the votes.
The part of the CRA that worries opponents most isn't how it chips away at Obama's legacy, but that it permanently restrains the agency's ability to put forward a "substantially similar" regulation in the future. The permanent nature of the CRA means that successful bills are blocking any future updates to these rules, including limiting the ability of BLM to update its guidance on leasing and land use. That, for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), is "too blunt an instrument in this case," according to The Hill. "I think we can replace it with a better reg, rather than a CRA," he said. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who's broken with her party on energy votes before, is "leaning against" it. Multiple Western senators including Cory Gardner and Rob Portman were undecided as of late March.
"As we were here on the ranch we began to notice that each well in itself is a little pollution hub."
"If the methane rule is overturned, for example, can the BLM ever again regulate methane pollution on public lands?" Center for American Progress senior fellow Matt Lee-Ashley said. "That's an open question courts will have to figure out." The CRA is largely uncharted legal territory, so it's unclear just how the term "substantially similar" would be interpreted by courts.
Regardless, Republicans have lined up dozens of rules that could be rolled back from the Obama era, and contrary to the claims that these were "midnight" rules pushed out by Obama, many stretch back to May 2016, thanks to the peculiarities of the Senate calendar and were in the works for years before being finalized.
That's the case for the methane rule. The Western Congressional Caucus, echoing the American Petroleum Institute, described it as a "duplicative," "midnight" rule pushed out by Obama in his final days. In reality the rule was in the works since early 2014, with thousands of public comments and  public forums held around the country. Advocates of the rule argue that some conservatives might be balking because the rule is inherently moderate and polls show public support. "The idea that conservatives would be attacking a waste reduction measure is kind of bizarre," the Wilderness Society's deputy director of energy and climate, Josh Mantell, told Mother Jones.
Nevertheless, the lobbying wars over it have been fierce, and CAP cites the major oil contributions to the members who are sponsoring the resolution as one reason this has emerged as a priority early in the session. The oil industry argues it has every incentive to limit methane on its own because restraints cut down on wasted natural gas. But cheap plentiful gas has provided the industry with little incentive to upgrade equipment, and by extension, oil companies avoid paying royalties on the lost gas.
Don Schreiber, a rancher whose property stands in the center of the San Juan basin gas field, has been on edge watching Congress to see what will happen to this energy regulation some Republicans are so eager to repeal. "It's been put off and put off and put off," Schreiber told me. When I called, he was on his ranch, at the center of one of the hottest areas for oil and gas development. He could spot up to seven wells visible from his property and another 122 natural gas wells surrounding him, earning the area the distinction of being first in per capita methane emissions in the country.
He became an activist after purchasing the ranch in 1999. He had grown wary of seeing the gas flares, smelling the associated toxic chemicals, and having to calibrate the direction of the wind every day. "As we were here on the ranch, we began to notice that each well in itself is a little pollution hub," affecting wildlife, nature, and health, he said.
The Trump administration has other ways to handicap the rule, including through his recent executive order targeting regulation of the fossil fuel industry. But there is a big difference between Trump doing this through the agency and through the CRA: The agency would require a more formal process, one with public input, as opposed to a single congressional vote striking it down. Environmentalists are keeping close watch on what Trump is doing to undermine the rule, which could lead to legal action.
"There are ways to amend, to rewrite, and even repeal regulations that wouldn't tie the hands of agencies going forward," Mantell said. "But because this party—and the industry that is pushing a lot of these—is so against the idea of regulation in general, they feel it's important to wipe out the chance for any regulation to happen ever again."
As a property owner who had hoped to develop a sustainable cattle ranch in the middle of oil and gas country, Schreiber notes the importance of taking first steps to clean up methane. He's worried his home is "now infamous for the methane hot spot having a huge impact on climate change—in the wrong direction."
"The Clean Water Act didn't make all the rivers clean," he says. "It began to clean it up." By tackling methane one rule at a time, Schreiber hopes the same will happen with the oil and gas industry.

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Cyber-Attack Activates Over 150 Emergency Sirens Across Dallas

A cyber-attack reportedly set off all 156 emergency sirens across the city of Dallas, Texas, late Friday night.

According to reports, the sirens were activated more than a dozen times between approximately 11:45 p.m. and 1:20 a.m. on Saturday until engineers manually shut down the sirens’ radio system and repeaters.

Dallas’ siren warning system is used to warn citizens of tornadoes and other imminent severe weather.

“At this point, we can tell you with a good deal of confidence that this was somebody outside of our system that got in there and activated our sirens,” city Emergency Management Director Rocky Vaz told reporters.
“This is a very, very rare event,” added Vaz, while describing the cyber-attack as one of the largest ever to affect emergency siren systems, with most breaches of this kind triggering one or two alarms.

System engineers are investigating the incident and the Federal Communications Commission has been contacted, said Vaz.

City spokeswoman Sana Syed said the breach in the city of 1.6 million people is believed to have originated in the area.

“We understand that people were concerned,” said Syed. “We had people asking if we were being attacked because of what’s going on overseas.”

Meanwhile, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings assured authorities will “find and prosecute whomever is responsible.”

“This is yet another serious example of the need for us to upgrade and better safeguard our city’s technology infrastructure. It’s a costly proposition, which is why every dollar of taxpayer money must be spent with critical needs such as this in mind. Making the necessary improvements is imperative for the safety of our citizens,” said Rawlings.
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Sunday, 9 April 2017

Hacker takes control of 156 emergency sirens in Dallas

Dallas residents were in for a rude awakening – quite literally – early Saturday morning thanks to what city officials are calling nefarious activity courtesy of a hacker.
Rocky Vaz, the director of Dallas’ Office of Emergency Management, said that all 156 of the city’s emergency warning sirens were activated shortly before midnight on Friday. Officials initially though a malfunction was to blame but as the activity spilled into early Saturday morning, it became clear that such was not the case.
As The Verge highlights, the sirens were activated in 90-second cycles a total of 15 times before workers pulled the plug on the system.
Vaz said the team investigating the matter eventually found a vulnerability used by the attackers to infiltrate the system and sound the alarms. The warning system was back online and functional by Saturday night, city officials revealed on Twitter.
While Vaz conceded that identifying the attacker(s) will be like finding a needle in a haystack, Mayor Mike Rawlings affirmed that authorities will find and prosecute the party or parties responsible.
Annoyance aside, the hack shed negative light on the city’s 911 call system which was overloaded with calls during the activity. The Dallas Morning News reports that more than 4,400 calls were placed to 911 between 11:30 p.m. and 3 a.m. which is twice the number of calls usually received between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

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Tillerson, Haley issue differing statements on future of Assad in Syria

Related video: Amb. Nikki Haley: We Don't See Peace in Syria With Assad (Provided by NBC News)

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday appeared to offer differing views on the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Their comments highlight the degree to which questions remain about the nature of U.S. policy in Syria after President Trump authorized missile strikes against a government air base believed to have been involved in the deployment of chemical weapons against civilians last week.
Haley indicated in an interview on CNN's “State of the Union” that the United States does not see a peaceful political resolution for Syria's civil war as long as Assad remains in power.” We don't see a peaceful Syria with Assad in there,” Haley said.
The objective of U.S. policy, she said on NBC's “Meet the Press,” is “to defeat ISIS,” using an acronym for the Islamic State.
“I mean, we've got to do that for peace and stability in the area. It's also to get out the Iranian influence, which we think is causing so much friction and worse issues in the area,” Haley said.
“And then we’ve got to go and make sure that we actually see a leader that will protect his people. And clearly, Assad is not that person,” she added.
But speaking on ABC News' “This Week,” Tillerson said the Syrian people will eventually decide Assad's fate.
Tillerson emphasized the administration's priority in defeating Islamic State forces in Syria and said little about the United States' preference on Assad's future.
“Our priority is first the defeat of ISIS,” Tillerson said. “Once we can eliminate the battle against ISIS, conclude that, and it is going quite well, then we hope to turn our attention to cease-fire agreements between the regime and opposition forces.
“In that regard, we are hopeful that we can work with Russia and use their influence to achieve areas of stabilization throughout Syria and create the conditions for a political process through Geneva in which we can engage all of the parties on the way forward, and it is through that political process that we believe the Syrian people will lawfully be able to decide the fate of Bashar al-Assad,” he added.
The apparent dissonance did not go unnoticed. Speaking later on ABC News, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) criticized Tillerson for suggesting that the objective of defeating the Islamic State can be achieved as long as Assad remains in power.
“This idea that we’re going to get rid of ISIS and then we’ll hopefully use Assad and others to come up with a solution, it’s not going to work,” Rubio said. “There seems to be a difference between what Ambassador Haley is saying, and what she said last night that Assad really has no future, and what I heard this morning from Secretary Tillerson.
“You cannot have a stable Syria without jihadist elements on the ground with Bashar al-Assad in power,” he added. “They're two sides of the same coin.”
In a separate interview on CBS's Face the Nation, Tillerson said it was the goal of the U.S. and its allies to "navigate a political outcome in which the Syrian people in fact will determine Bashar al-Assad's fate and his legitimacy," citing in part "the United States' own founding principles are self-determination."
Host John Dickerson said critics of that posture have noted that "the Syrian people are in no position to make a determination about the president because he's bombing a lot of them, millions of them have had to flee the country, and he's created a condition where there is no institution that can remove him from power."
"It's important that we keep our priorities straight, and we believe that the first priority is the defeat of ISIS," Tillerson replied. "Once the ISIS threat has been reduced or eliminated, I think we can turn our attention directly to stabilizing the situation in Syria."
Pressed to reconcile that seeming contradiction between the positions advanced by Tillerson and Haley, national security adviser H.R. McMaster suggested in his appearance on “Fox News Sunday” that there was little daylight between the two views.
“What Ambassador Haley pointed out was, it's very difficult to figure out how a political solution could result from the continuation of the Assad regime,” McMaster said. “We're not saying that we are the ones who are going to effect that change. What we're saying is, other countries have to ask themselves some hard questions. Russia should ask themselves … why are we supporting this murderous regime that is committing mass murder of its own population and using the most heinous weapons available.
“While people are really anxious to find inconsistencies in those statements, they are in fact very consistent in terms of what is the ultimate political objective in Syria,” he added.
Pressed by host Chris Wallace pointed explain Tillerson's statements that destroying the Islamic State is the U.S. priority, McMaster responded, “That's exactly what we're saying.”
“There has to be a degree of simultaneous activity, as well as sequencing the defeat of ISIS first,” McMaster said. “What you have in Syria is a very destructive cycle of violence perpetuated by ISIS, obviously, but also by this regime and their Iranian and Russian sponsors.
“And the resolution of the conflict will entail both of the elements that you're talking about,” he continued.
But the view of Assad's future as articulated by Haley was the one praised by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a frequent critic of the Trump administration.
“Ambassador Haley just said on your program, 'You'll never end the war with Assad in power,'" Graham said. “So that means regime change is now the policy of the Trump administration. That's at least what I've heard.”
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivers remarks at the Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria on Friday in New York.© Stephanie Keith/Reuters U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivers remarks at the Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria on Friday in New York. 
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