Sunday, February 28, 2016

PNN - February Fun & Fumes



PNN - February Fun & Fume
RWS
Meredith Ockman
Frank Day

1. Hacked Mid-Air While Writing an Apple-FBI Story
By Steven Petrow, USA Today
25 February 16

I don’t really need to worry about online privacy,” I used to think. “I’ve got nothing to hide. And who would want to know what I’m up to, anyway?”
Sure, I’m a journalist, but I’m not an investigative reporter, not a political radical, not of much interest to anyone, really.
That was last week, when the standoff between the FBI and Apple seemed much more about principle than practice to me. That’s when I thought I’d write a column on whether this legal fight matters to regular folk — people like my mother, a retired social worker; my best friend, who works in retail; or even my 20-year-old niece in college. That was before I found out — in a chillingly personal way — just why it does matter. To all of us.
Just before midnight last Friday, my plane touched down in Raleigh after a three-hour flight from Dallas. As usual, I’d spent much of the flight working, using American Airlines Gogo in-flight Internet connection to send and answer emails. As I was putting on my jacket, a fellow in the row behind me, someone I hadn’t even noticed before, said: “I need to talk to you.” A bit taken aback, I replied, “It’s late … need to get home.”
“You’re a reporter, right?”
“Um, yes.”
“Wait for me at the gate.”
[I didn’t answer, but I did wait.]
“How did you know I was a reporter?” I asked while we started walking.
“Are you interested in the Apple/FBI story?” he responded, ignoring my question.
“Kind of. Why are you asking me that?” I thought he was some kind of creepy mind reader.
Then he dropped the bombshell.
“I hacked your email on the plane and read everything you sent and received. I did it to most people on the flight.” He had verbatim detail of a long email that he repeated back to me essentially word for word.
In fact, as Steve Nolan, Gogo’s vice president of communications, told me, the service is “public” and “operates in the same ways as most open Wi-Fi hotspots on the ground.” He cautioned against “accessing sensitive materials while in flight.”
Gogo recommends that anyone sending sensitive information over any public WiFi network, including Gogo, use a virtual private network, or VPN, to protect their data, said CEO Michael Small.
One of my emails was pretty explicit about the focus of my story and I had emailed Bruce Schneier, a security expert who had previously written in the Washington Post about this very issue.
"The current case is about a single iPhone 5c, but the precedent it sets will apply to all smartphones, computers, cars and everything the Internet of Things promises," Schneier wrote.
The danger is that the court’s demands will pave the way to the FBI forcing Apple and others to reduce the security levels of their smart phones and computers, as well as the security of cars, medical devices, homes, and everything else that will soon be computerized. The FBI may be targeting the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter, but its actions imperil us all."
That’s what my privacy-busting stranger had read. Back to my conversation:
“That’s how I know you’re interested in the Apple story,” he continued. “Imagine if you had been doing a financial transaction. What if you were making a date to see a whore?” My mind raced: What about my health records? My legal documents? My Facebook messages?
And then the kicker:
“That’s why this story is so important to everyone,” he told me. “It’s about everyone’s privacy.”
Then he headed down the escalator and I headed out the front door. I may have been wearing my jacket, but I felt as exposed as if I’d been stark naked.
With a newfound personal interest in the topic, the following day I called Alex Abdo, an attorney in the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, to talk about why ordinary Americans should care about the Apple case. At first he told me some of what I knew. If the government wins it would set a “dangerous legal precedent … that would force companies to build back doors into their products. It will be used hundreds and hundreds of times if it becomes lawful.”
Abdo made it clear why this matters to ordinary consumers like me — to all of us. “The risk is that it makes it more likely that individuals’ devices with no connection to any investigation will become less secure because companies will have established back doors …. that will fall into the wrong hands.” For emphasis, he added: “No back door is secure.”
But really, I pushed him, who is in actual danger here? The answer, apparently, is pretty much all of us. “Anyone who relies on the security of their devices,” he told me.
It should be up to each of us to decide what to make public, and what to keep private, he continued. For me, I felt as though the stranger on the plane had robbed me of my privacy—as was explicitly his intent. He took the decision of what to share out of my hands. He went in through the back door of the Gogo connection.
The Takeaway:
I asked Abdo what we could to do protect our privacy. This is what he told me:
  1. Call your representatives in Congress and on a statewide level and express your support for Apple in this case. Here’s a list of all U.S. members of the House and Senate.https://www.congress.gov/members
  2. Make sure your devices are using their built-in encryption features. That’s FileVault for Apple devices and BitLocker on Windows products.
  3. Use a password manager to help you create and store different — and strong — passwords for all your accounts. Don’t use the same password repeatedly, and don’t ever use passwords like “password” or “123456.” Some popular ones include DashLane, LastPass, and Sticky Password.
  4. Download WhatsApp, Telegram, or Signal, messaging apps that go great distances inencrypting voice and electronic messages. Keep in mind that even they are not 100% secure
2. More Than 100 Scientists Ask Leading Science Association to Cut Ties With Exxon
By Natasha Geiling, ThinkProgress
25 February 16

More than a hundred scientists have sent a letter to the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the largest association of earth and space scientists in the world, asking it to cut financial ties with Exxon in light of allegations that the fossil fuel company willfully misled the public about climate change for decades.
The letter was initially crafted by three early career scientists from MIT and Harvard, but has since garnered signatures from over 100 prominent scientists, including names like James Hansen, Naomi Oreskes, and Michael Mann.
“Our intention is to help rebut the climate misinformation that has been put out, especially by ExxonMobil, by asking the AGU to reject sponsorship from Exxon for its conferences,” Ben Scandella, a PhD candidate at MIT and one of the letter’s original authors, told ThinkProgress. “We’re concerned that by accepting sponsorship from Exxon, AGU is engaging in a serious conflict of interest because it is lending its institutional license to a company that is working publicly to undermine the consensus about anthropogenic climate change that a number of AGU members have worked hard to establish.”
The AGU, which was created to promote the geophysical sciences, claims among its members a number of climate scientists. Of the roughly 104 scientists that have signed the letter, 70 are AGU members.
Posted Monday morning on the science website The Natural History Museum, the letter specifically asks that the AGU reconsider Exxon’s sponsorship of the society’s fall meetings. Exxon has been a primary sponsor of the meeting for years, but has come under increased scrutiny in recent months due to a series of investigations into Exxon’s climate policies published by both InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times earlier this year.
The investigations found that Exxon’s own scientists knew about the dangers associated with climate change as early as 1977, and yet continued to fund misinformation campaigns that questioned the scientific consensus around climate change. In light of the investigations, lawmakers have called for the Department of Justice to launch a formal investigation into Exxon, and several state attorneys general have already initiated criminal investigations. Last week, three lawmakers also asked the Department of Justice to begin investigating Shell, citing a growing body of evidence that suggests there could be “a conspiracy between Shell, ExxonMobil and potentially other companies in the fossil fuel industry.”
The AGU, in its own Organizational Support Policy, states that it will “not accept funding from organizational partners that promote and/or disseminate misinformation of science, or that fund organizations that publicly promote misinformation of science.” That policy was established in the summer of 2015, just months before the allegations against Exxon became public.
“Exxon’s track record, with respect to climate science, is long and troubling and entirely inconsistent with [the AGU’s] policy and the society’s climate statement, which is clear and unequivocal about supporting deep reductions in emissions,” Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, who also signed the letter, told ThinkProgress. “We set up a policy. We need to implement in a clear way, and we need to have a conversation about Exxon and other companies that misinform in order to avoid regulation with regard to climate.”
Margaret Leinen, AGU president, responded to the questions about the society’s relationship with Exxon in a blog post published on the AGU website, saying that “ExxonMobil’s current public statements and activities were not inconsistent with AGU’s positions and the scientific consensus.” In light of the recent letter, however, Leinen updated the post to add that the AGU Board of Directors will look closely into the matter during an upcoming April meeting.
To be truly reflective of Exxon’s policies, however, many argue that the AGU would need to go beyond public statements and consider the private actions the company has taken to fuel public misinformation.
“If you’re looking at public statements, it’s hard to find because they are funneling their misinformation campaigns through dark money organizations,” Scandella said.
In a study published last November, Yale University sociologist Justin Farrell found a strong connection between the private funding actions of companies like Exxon and the overall polarization of climate change as a topic in the United States. According to Farrell’s research, groups that accepted money from Exxon were more likely to produce texts stressing things like the idea that climate change is a long-term cycle or that carbon dioxide is in fact good for the planet, key tenets of a climate misinformation campaign.
According to both Scandella and Frumhoff, it’s that misinformation — not the fact that Exxon is a fossil fuel company — that has led scientists to voice concerns with the company’s role in funding the AGU’s meetings. Fossil fuels have had a long relationship with earth and geosciences, Frumhoff explained, pointing to petroleum geology as an example. The concern, he added, is that by allowing Exxon to support the AGU’s meetings, the AGU is lending an air of credibility to the company. It’s a public relations tactic known as “greenwashing,” where organizations publicly fund campaigns or events that run counter to their private actions or interests.
“The letter isn’t about saying that Exxon scientists or Exxon-funded scientists have no place in society. The letter is about saying we shouldn’t be advertising Exxon as a good corporate citizen by accepting their funding when their behavior is so unequivocally inconsistent with scientific integrity and our commitment to address climate change,” Frumhoff said.

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3. GENETIC PRIVACY
Apple’s ongoing feud with the FBI, which has requested that the tech giant build custom software to let them open and access a suspect’s iPhone, has brought the issue of privacy on electronic devices into the public limelight. The polarizing issue has drawn battle lines in Silicon Valley, with such personalities as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates lining up on opposing sides.
But the concerns over electronic privacy that the issue has raised are overwhelming compared to the lackluster concern on genetic privacy.
Companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe invite people to submit their DNA for genealogy tracing and medical diagnostic tests. Privacy advocates voiced concerns over the creation ofgiant genetic databases that could be used against participants by law enforcement. Many criminal cases involve the use of DNA as an instrument for establishing a suspect’s guilt or lack thereof.
Nowadays, with both 23andMe and Ancestry.com having over a million customers, these concerns are once again surfacing. A Wired article discusses a case in which filmmaker Michael Usry became a suspect in an unsolved murder case after cops performed a familial genetic search using semen collected in 1996. By using an Ancestry.com database, the cops were able to obtain a familial match to a saliva sample Usry’s father had given earlier. He was eventually found innocent and the Electronic Frontier Foundation called it a “wild goose chase,” noting that the case represents the threat posed by genetic databases.
When the Wired article warned, “Your relative’s DNA could turn you into a suspect,” it seems that they were recognizing how big of a problem these databases—whether private or public—pose to privacy and civil liberties.
For example, the FBI maintains a national genetic database with samples from convicts and arrested persons, yet it is not precluded from utilizing private genetic databases to locate a suspect nor compelling such genetic database holders to cooperate. While the scenario above is only the most public example of cops relying on private databases, it puts at risk people who have submitted genetic samples for reasons of health or simple curiosity.
While both Ancestry.com and 23andMe have privacy policies that lay out to what extent and how they turn over information to law enforcement, the end result is a chilling effect on their business model and on individuals who may now forfeit DNA testing in fear of inadvertently ending up in a genetic line-up of criminal suspects. 23andMe has previously stated that so far it has successfully resisted requests from state law enforcement and the FBI.
transparency report from 23andMe shows that it has released a total of four requests from the United States for genetic information related to five individuals. “In the event we are required by law to make a disclosure, we will notify the affected customer through the contact information provided to us, unless doing so would violate the law or a court order,” said 23andMe privacy officer Kate Black.
Ancestry.com has not released a similar transparency report but has released a statement regarding the Usry case. The local law enforcement was able to search through a formerly online public database that Ancestry hosted. Police came to Ancestry.com with a warrant to get the name that matched the DNA.
“On occasion when required by law to do so, and in this instance we were, we have cooperated with law enforcement and the courts to provide only the specific information requested but we don’t comment on the specifics of cases,” said a spokesperson for the company.
While both Ancestry.com and 23andMe offer options to delete your information from their sites, the fact that a user could opt to do so due to concerns over privacy seemed to be a repudiation of genetic databases.
It’s a grim reminder of the dangers of that brave new world we’re all entering. It’s likely the customers never imagined that they, or their family members for that matter, could become genetic criminal suspects when they initially signed up for services that, on the face of it, seemed nothing more than harmless novelties.

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4. FRACKING OUT - FRACKING IN
Floridians Against Fracking issues statement following the Appropriations Committee hearing on Bill 318.
Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted down Senate Bill 318, the pro-fracking regulatory bill. While we are pleased with this success, and with the deliberativeness with which the Senate is approaching this topic, we acknowledge that Senator Benacquisto could bring the bill up again for a vote We urge Senator Benacquisto to refrain from doing so, however if she chooses to bring the bill for a revote, against the wishes of her constitents, we urge the Appropriations Committee to vote it down.
Floridians Against Fracking has come a long way in the year that we’ve been working on this issue as a formal coalition, but that is primarily because the citizens and local governments recognize the foolishness of allowing fracking in Florida, and also recognize the bill’s intent is to pave the way for fracking in Florida in the future. The bill allows fracking chemicals to remain secret, a situation that is unacceptable to the citizens of Florida. Senator Latvala recognized the tap dance that the Department of Environmental Protection did around this issue. The definition of fracking still doesn’t cover all forms of fracking, even with an amendment today by Senator Simmons, and the bill continues to preempt home rule, which cities and counties across the state object to.
This movement is a people’s movement, and we urge the citizens of Florida to continue to let their Senators know that this bill is not acceptable, and to thank those who voted No.

Kim Ross
President
ReThink Energy Florida
850-888-2565

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5. Judge confirms what many suspected the Feds hired Carnegie Mellon to break TOR

A federal judge in Washington has now confirmed what has been strongly suspected: that Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers at its Software Engineering Institute were hired by the federal government to do research into breaking Tor in 2014. The judge also made a notable statement in his court order that "Tor users clearly lack a reasonable expectation of privacy in their IP addresses while using the Tor network."
However, some of the details that Tor alleged previously seem to be wrong: the research was funded by the Department of Defense, not the FBI. Tor Project Director Shari Steele told Ars earlier this year that the organization still couldn't get straight answers from CMU. According to the judge, that research was then subpoenaed by federal investigators.

The Tor Project did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment. Meanwhile, Kenneth Walters, a CMU spokesman, refused to answer Ars' questions, referring us only to the university's last statement, from November 2015, which hinted that the university was served with a subpoena.

FURTHER READING


FBI: “THE ALLEGATION THAT WE PAID CMU $1M TO HACK INTO TOR IS INACCURATE”
Revelation raises more questions than it answers, Carnegie Mellon still silent.
The revelation, which was first reported by Vice Motherboard, came out as part of the ongoing criminal case against Brian Farrell, allegedly one of Silk Road 2.0’s top administrators. CMU's research enabled investigators to find him. Farrell was arrested over a year ago in Washington state—his trial is scheduled for April 25, 2016, to be held in federal court in Seattle.

The Tuesday court order by US District Judge Richard Jones was in response to a still-sealed motion to compel discovery filed by Farrell. According to Judge Jones, "the defendant seeks to compel disclosure of additional material pertaining to the relationship between SEI and federal law enforcement and the methods used by SEI to identify the defendant’s IP address."

In the order, the judge seems to suggest that even though Farrell took measures to protect his privacy, his actual IP address—which was what betrayed him and made it trivial for law enforcement to find him—was not in and of itself private.

JUDGE JONES WROTE:
In the instant case, it is the Court’s understanding that in order for a prospective user to use the Tor network they must disclose information, including their IP addresses, to unknown individuals running Tor nodes, so that their communications can be directed toward their destinations. Under such a system, an individual would necessarily be disclosing his identifying information to complete strangers. Again, according to the parties’ submissions, such a submission is made despite the understanding communicated by the Tor Project that the Tor network has vulnerabilities and that users might not remain anonymous. Under these circumstances Tor users clearly lack a reasonable expectation of privacy in their IP addresses while using the Tor network. In other words, they are taking a significant gamble on any real expectation of privacy under these circumstances.

The paper shredder precedent?

Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University, told Ars that the court’s analysis here is "right, although the application of that idea depends on how the surveillance occurred."

FURTHER READING


DID FEDS MOUNT A SUSTAINED ATTACK ON TOR TO DECLOAK CRIME SUSPECTS?
Court doc suggests investigators spent six months last year exploiting anonymity bug.
He suggested that Ars examine a 1992 case decided in the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that just because someone takes steps to protect privacy, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they continue to have a "reasonable expectation of privacy."
That case, US v. Scott, involved a man suspected of tax fraud by the Internal Revenue Service. The man used a paper shredder to destroy some documents, which were then picked up as garbage by investigators, "which when painstakingly pieced together produced incriminating evidence."

Scott challenged the collection of his trash, arguing that because he had "manifested an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the shredded remnants" that the evidence should be suppressed. He won on this argument at the district court level but then lost on appeal.

The 1st Circuit found in that case:

What we have here is a failed attempt at secrecy by reason of underestimation of police resourcefulness, not invasion of constitutionally protected privacy. There is no constitutional protection from police scrutiny as to information received from a failed attempt at secrecy.

Appellee here thought that reducing the documents to 5/32 inch pieces made them undecipherable. It turned out he was wrong. He is in no better position than the citizen who merely tears up a document by hand and discards the pieces into the sidewalk. Can there be any doubt that the police are allowed to pick up the pieces from the sidewalk for use of the contents against that person? Should the mere use of more sophisticated "higher" technology in attempting destruction of the pieces of paper grant higher constitutional protection to this failed attempt at secrecy? We think not. There is no constitutional requirement that police techniques in the detection of crime must remain stagnant while those intent on keeping their nefarious activities secret have the benefit of new knowledge.
However, not all legal scholars agree on this point.

Neil Richards, a law professor at Washington University in St Louis, said that this "reasonable expectation of privacy" for Internet users is "an open one." The so-called third-party doctrine, which stemmed from the 1979 Supreme Court decision Smith v. Maryland, found that telephone users do not have a privacy interest in the phone numbers that they dial, as the phone company has access to them.

"Law enforcement have argued that this sharing rationale applies to all Internet and digital data held by third parties—ISPs, e-mail providers, fitness trackers, cloud storage providers, etc," Richards told Ars. "The strong form of this argument is nonsense. Law enforcement in the past also argued that they didn’t need warrants to open mail or tap telephones, and ultimately lost on both counts. The Supreme Court hasn’t ruled on e-mail yet, but lower courts require a warrant for e-mail, and the Supreme Court has made clear in recent cases that a majority of Justices are very concerned about digital privacy and are eager to extend the Fourth Amendment to that, just like they did for telephone calls in the 1960s."

Mark Rumold, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, concurred.

"The expectation of privacy analysis has to change when someone is using Tor," he said. "Rotely applying precedent leads to bad results, like courts finding that someone 'clearly' lacks a privacy interest in their IP address, even though they're using technology specifically designed to protect that privacy interest."

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6. Criminal Charges in Flint, MI?

Todd Flood, special counsel to the Michigan Attorney General’s office as it investigates what really happened in Flint, dropped something of a bombshell on Tuesday, telling reporters that criminal charges against government officials involved in the decisions that resulted in Flint’s poisoned tap water are not being ruled out.
In addition to 8,657 children under age six that are now expected to have lifelong medical needs from the damage caused by exposure to high levels of lead in the drinking water, there is a suspected connection between the improperly treated water in the Flint River and an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Genesee County. At least 87 cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported in the last 17 months there, and nine people have died from it. Those deaths could very well be the trigger for the manslaughter charges.

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7.  By Federal Court - 4 B.C. residents challenged legislation introduced by the previous Conservative government
Vancouver, BC – A Federal Court judge has struck down federal regulations restricting the rights of medical marijuana patients to grow their own cannabis and given the Liberal government six months to come up with new rules.
Judge Michael Phelan ruled Wednesday in Vancouver that the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations were an infringement on charter rights and declared they have no force and effect.
But the judge also suspended his declaration for six months to give the federal government time to come up with new rules.
Read the full decision (PDF)
The judge was careful to point out that the ruling does not change other laws that make it illegal for Canadians to use marijuana recreationally.
The judge also ordered that an earlier injunction remains in effect, allowing thousands of Canadians with prior authorization to use medical marijuana to continue to grow it at home.
‘Some fell through the cracks’
Lawyer John Conroy, who co-represented the plaintiffs in the case, noted the ruling did not automatically include all medical marijuana users.
He said the ruling applied only to about 28,000 Canadians who had the proper licences in place at the time of the injunction.
And he noted there remain thousands of other medical users not covered by the original injunction, who will still have to wait six months to legally grow their own medical marijuana themselves.
“We will be heading back to court to fine-tune that injunction,” said Conroy on Wednesday afternoon in Vancouver.
In addition, many people who had to change the address of their production site no longer have valid licences registered with Health Canada, and that issue needs to be addressed, he said.
He also cautioned users who have possession licences to make sure they are updated.
“Hopefully within six months we’ll have a reasonably regulated system in place that solves the problems for everyone,” he said.
Conroy noted that if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wanted to move quickly on the issue, cabinet could simply issue an order-in-council that would remove marijuana from Schedule 2 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
“The next fight is making sure the dispensaries are legal,” he said.
‘It was a complete victory’
Lawyer Kirk Tousaw, the co-counsel for Neil Allard, who launched the court challenge, was clearly pleased with the decision.
“Basically we won, and it was a complete victory,” said Tousaw, shortly after reading the decision. “[The Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations] were declared to be unconstitutional and violate the charter rights of medical cannabis patients.”
Medical Marijuana
A Federal Court threw out a ban Wednesday on medical marijuana users growing their own supply. (Getty Images)
Tousaw said it will now be up to the Liberal government to come up with new rules.
“The ball is in the federal government’s court. Mr. Trudeau and the justice minister have six months to respond to the court’s ruling and come up with a system of medical cannabis regulation in this country that doesn’t impact and negatively take away the charter rights of medical cannabis patients and their providers.”
He believes the ruling will have implications for those who wish to grow their own pot for recreational use.
“We proved that growing medical cannabis can be perfectly safe, and can be done completely in compliance with the law and people ought to have a right to do that without fear of being arrested and locked in cages for that activity.”
“The lessons I think are pretty obvious. If you can grow cannabis for yourself for medical purposes safely and with no risk for the public, surely, you can grow cannabis for yourself for non-medical purposes safely and with no risk to the public,” Tousaw said.
The federal Liberal government has committed to regulating and legalizing recreational marijuana but has yet to introduce any legislation.
‘Most egregious example’
In his decision, the judge noted that “many ‘expert’ witnesses were so imbued with a belief for or against marijuana — almost a religious fervour — that the court had to approach such evidence with a significant degree of caution and skepticism.”
In particular, he called one RCMP witness for the Crown, Cpl. Shane Homequist, “the most egregious example of the so-called expert.
“He possessed none of the qualifications of usual expert witnesses. His assumptions and analysis were shown to be flawed. His methodologies were not shown to be accepted by those working in his field. The factual basis of his various options was uncovered as inaccurate,” he wrote.
“I can give this evidence little or no weight,” the judge concluded.
Phelan also dismissed many of the federal government’s arguments concerning the risks home grow-ops could pose to homes, noting mould, fire, break-ins and insurance concerns can be addressed within existing laws and regulations.
He found the rules which “limited a patient to a single government-approved contractor and eliminated the ability to grow one’s own marijuana or choose one’s own supplier” were an untenable restriction on the plaintiffs’ liberties.
Homegrown supply banned in 2013

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8. RICK SNYDER NOW HIGH IN THE SADDLE at MSNBC
According to Breitbart News GOP presidential Sen. Ted Cruz asked his Communications Director Rick Tyler to resign. On Sunday, Tyler posted a story on Facebook falsely accusing (using subtitles) Cruz’s rival Sen.Marco Rubio of telling a Cruz staffer that there are “not many answers” in the Bible.

In actuality Rubio apparently said, “all of the answers” are in the Bible.
Tyler deleted the post on and published an apology on Facebook today.
“I want to apologize to Senator Marco Rubio for posting an inaccurate story about him here earlier today,” Tylersaid. “The story showed a video of the Senator walking past a Ted Cruz staffer seated in the lobby of a hotel reading his Bible. The story misquoted a remark the Senator made to the staffer. I assumed wrongly that the story was correct. According to the Cruz staffer, the Senator made a friendly and appropriate remark.”
But the apology wasn’t enough for Rubio.

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8a. Fired & Hired 

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has fired his communication director, Rick Tyler, for peddling a video that falsely claims Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was mocking the Bible, upon encountering one of his campaign staffers, along with his father, Rafael, at a Hampton Inn in South Carolina (via Politico):

Rubio ran into Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, and a staffer in South Carolina on Saturday at a Hampton Inn. According to the Daily Pennsylvanian, which posted the video, the blog also had staffers present during the encounter.

The website reported that Rubio suggested that the Bible did “[n]ot have many answers in it.”
Cruz communications director Rick Tyler posted the story on Facebook but later deleted it and apologized after a Cruz staffer said Rubio didn’t make any such comment.
“I want to apologize to Senator Marco Rubio for posting an inaccurate story about him here earlier today,” Tyler said. “The story showed a video of the Senator walking past a Ted Cruz staffer seated in the lobby of a hotel reading his Bible. The story misquoted a remark the Senator made to the staffer. I assumed wrongly that the story was correct. According to the Cruz staffer, the Senator made a friendly and appropriate remark.”
[…]
In the clip, Rubio tells the staffer he has “a good book there.” “All the answers are in there,” he added. “Especially in that one.”

Earlier this afternoon, Sen. Cruz announced that he had asked for Tyler’s resignation:

Tyler posted the story on Facebook but later deleted it and apologized after a Cruz staffer said Rubio didn’t make any such comment.

But Cruz decided greater action was needed.
"Our campaign should not have sent it. That’s why I’ve asked for Rick Tyler’s resignation,” Cruz said about the social media posting about the Daily Pennsylvanian article.

He said he spent the morning investigating before coming to his conclusion. He added, “I have made clear in this campaign that we will conduct this campaign with the very highest standards of integrity.”

Tyler’s exit comes as the Cruz campaign has been under increased fire from his rivals, who have accused him of running a dirty campaign.
Prior to his termination, Sarah Rumpf at IJ Review contacted Tyler, saying that he backtracked on the false claim about the bible incident once the staffer in the video, named Collins, backed the Rubio campaign’s version of events:

Tyler told Independent Journal Review that he called Collins, the Cruz staffer who was reading the Bible in the video, and asked him about the incident. According to Tyler, Collins backed up the Rubio campaign’s version of the Senator’s words. “No, no, no, he was very nice to me,” Collins reportedly said about Rubio.

“I realized that the story got it wrong, so I deleted the post,” said Tyler. “When he [meaning Collins] told me it was wrong, I pulled it down.” When asked about the reason for the several hours delay in deleting the Facebook post, Tyler said he “forgot” he had the Facebook post until another colleague on the campaign called him and told him, and then he deleted it.

rubies people - let tyler off the hook - RWS

The Rubio campaign responded by saying that Tyler was a good man, who had the “unenviable task” of working with a candidate who would “do or say anything to get elected.” As Allahpundit noted, this firing had to come, given how South Carolinians thought Cruz ran an unfair campaign, and that Cruz needs to make sure that he a) doesn’t look as if he “smeared Rubio to death” should he win b) he needs this Rubio-Cruz battle to be won fair and square should he draw Rubio’s former supporters into his tent.

from rubio campaign
“rick is a really good spokesman who had the inevitable task of working for a candidate willing to do or sa”


Prior to Tyler’s dismissal, Erick Erickson noted that it’s become almost a fact on the campaign trail that Cruz is running a dirty presidential bid. This firing might have been an attempt to quell that narrative, but the damage is already done.

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9. Zombie Fracking Bill
A divided Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted 10-9 to reject a controversial bill to give state regulators the framework to authorize fracking for oil and gas reserves in Florida but, because of a parliamentary maneuver kept the issue alive, but limping.
A divided Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted 10-9 to reject a controversial bill to give state regulators the framework to authorize fracking for oil and gas reserves in Florida but, because of a parliamentary maneuver kept the issue alive, but limping.
The bill, SB 318, by Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, imposes a temporary moratorium on fracking permits until a study of Florida's hydrology is completed to determine what potential impact the operations will have on the state’s geology and fragile water supply.
The study will then be used to inform regulations by the Department of Environmental Protection by March 2018, and the proposed rules must come back for legislative approval. The House passed a similar bill, HB 191, by a 73-45 vote with seven Republicans joining Democrats to oppose the measure.
Richter agreed to modify the bill to expand the fracking technologies that would be regulated, an effort to address concerns by environmentalists, but several senators suggested they would prefer to see a ban on fracking or called for changes that require the disclosure of chemicals used in the process. 
"The people of the State of Florida don't want fracking,'' said Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, comparing the potential damage in Florida to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and the Love Canal tragedy, in which a toxic waste site contaminated the ground and water in Niagara Falls."When we start messing with the aquifer and not noticing what's going on, then things start happening to people."
Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said she opposed the bill because there remained "too many unanswered questions as to what does fracking mean for our environment.
"Are all these risks worth what we would be getting in return?,'' she asked. "The answer for me is no."
Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, sided with Richter who argued that without the bill to create a regulatory framework for fracking the state is in a more vulnerable position than without out it. 
"Doing nothing is not a solution,'' he said. 
Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, asked officials from Department of Environmental Protection how they could agree to a provision in the bill that allows companies to use the state's trade secret exemption from disclosing to the public the chemicals it is using in the fracking process. 
"I've questioned a lot witnesses...most importantly I've raised teenagers,'' he said. "I don't think a better tap dance than what the DEP did today on the subject of trade secrets and the disclosure these chemicals and until I get comfortable on this issue, I'm a no on this bill."
The committee adopted an amendment offered by Simmons, which changes the definition of fracking to include all forms of well-stimulation to tap hydrocarbons. It excludes procedures used for cleaning the fracking well bore.
"There is no moratorium on fracking in the State of Florida now,'' Richter said, acknowledging the public's opposition. "I wish I was on a bill that was 40-0 and out the door -- scoop of vanilla ice cream only."
Richter said the fierce opposition by community groups, environmentalists, and some local officials "have become extremely emotional" and, while he thanked them "for staying engaged," he added that "when debate becomes emotional, it magnifies the controversy."
That included the appearance of the fifth grade class of the Cornerstone Learning Community, whose students each arrived with a speech to urge the committee to oppose fracking but had one student, Jenna Caskey, speak on their behalf. 
Richter told them that without his bill, fracking would still be allowed. 
The bill bans the high pressure well stimulation until the study determines what potential impact the operations will have on the state’s geology and fragile water supply and it also prohibits local governments from imposing their own bans or regulations. 
Richter said he sponsored the bill because in 2013 the Dan. A. Hughes Company began a fracking operation near his hometown of Collier County, and it "drew tremendous concern" from the community. He said he now believes "this bill may be the most important bill I have to do for the citizens I represent" because without it there is no regulatory framework.
He said that when Dan. A. Hughes Company asked for the fracking permit, the Department of Environmental Regulation's "hands were tied" when Hughes started its fracking operations because they didn't have the power to revoke the fracking permit unless it can determine it is harmful to citizens so the agency ordered the company to determine what impact it had on the aquifers.  
DEP now can only assess minimal fines of $1,000 a day, and could impose only $1 million in bonding requirements. Richter said that today DEP cannot force disclosure of any chemicals that a company is offering and the agency may not research the "bad actors" in the industry.
He said he and Rep. Ray Rodriques, R-Estero, the House sponsor of a similar bill for the last four years, "had a passion for creating a responsible regulatory activity" and "we wanted to untie the hands of the regulators." 
"The bill we have in front of you is a very collaborative effort between local governments, environmental groups,'' he said, noting that many modifications have been made to accommodate the concerns of environmental groups and local governments.
"Many well-intended, mis-informed people are going to testify for this bill,'' Richter said. "I have great respect for these people. It's my hope. It's my desire you will listen to why this bill is good for the State of Florida."
David Mica, director of the Florida Petroleum Council, said his organization supports the bill "because my industry needs to use the most modern technology that is available to us to provide products to Americans."
Rich Templin of the AFL-CIO said the state's 1 million union members voted to oppose bringing fracking technologies to Florida, and noted that 40 percent of the membership are registered Republicans.
"People's opposition to this is being under-noticed,'' Templin said. "A group of fifth graders was just told you won't be able to stop fracking unless this bill passes. Why then is oil and gas industry here in support of it?"
Voting in favor of the bill were Sens. Thad Altman, R-Melbourne, Don Gaetz, R-Crestview, Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, Richter, Simmons and Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon. 
Voting against the bill were Sens. Flores, Dorothy Hukill, R-Ormond Beach, Joyner, Latvala, Joe Negron, R-Stuart, Gwen Margolis, D-Miami, Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, Jeremy Ring, D-Margate, Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, and Lisbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers. 
Benacquisto moved to reconsider her no vote, allowing the bill to return to the committee at a later time. 


10.Radioactive waste from Hanford Nuclear Reservation spread across Washington highway--Fall windstorm spread radioactive contamination across Route 4 north of Richland | 21 Feb 2016 | The Environmental Protection Agency has called the uncontrolled spread of small [?] amounts of radioactive waste at Hanford Nuclear Reservation "alarming" after a Nov. 17 windstorm. Surveys six miles north of Richland after the winds subsided found specks of [radioactive] contamination had spread beyond Route 4, the public highway from Richland out to the Wye Barricade secure entrance to Hanford. The contamination had blown from the 618-10 Burial Ground, which is being cleaned on the west side of the highway. The search also turned up previously undiscovered specks of radioactive waste believed to have been spread by plants or animals outside known contaminated areas.

10. Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan leaking radioactive water amid nationwide restart --34 liters of radioactive water - about 64,000 becquerels of radioactive waste - spilled. | 21 Feb 2015 | A nuclear power station in Japan is leaking, this time the Takahama plant, about 380km west of Tokyo. The radioactive water leak comes amid a nationwide push to restart reactors after the catastrophic meltdown[s] at Fukushima five years ago...The push by the government and utility companies came amid protests across Japan against the continued reliance on nuclear energy, prompted by failures to get the Fukushima crisis under control. Now Kansai Electric Power says about 34 liters of radioactive water have escaped the plant's reactor No. 4. An investigation is underway.


12. HOW CITIZEN SCIENCE CHANGED THE WAY FUKUSHIMA RADIATION IS REPORTED

It appears the world-changing event didn’t change anything, and it’s disappointing,”said Pieter Franken, a researcher at Keio University in Japan (Wide Project), the MIT Media Lab (Civic Media Centre), and co-founder of Safecast, a citizen-science network dedicated to the measurement and distribution of accurate levels of radiation around the world, especially in Fukushima. “There was a chance after the disaster for humanity to innovate our thinking about energy, and that doesn’t seem like it’s happened.  But what we can change is the way we measure the environment around us.”
Franken and his founding partners found a way to turn their email chain, spurred by the tsunami, into Safecast; an open-source network that allows everyday people to contribute to radiation-monitoring.
“We literally started the day after the earthquake happened,” revealed Pieter. “A friend of mine, Joi Ito, the director of MIT Media Lab, and I were basically talking about what Geiger counter to get. He was in Boston at the time and I was here in Tokyo, and like the rest of the world, we were worried, but we couldn’t get our hands on anything. There’s something happening here, we thought. Very quickly as the disaster developed, we wondered how to get the information out. People were looking for information, so we saw that there was a need. Our plan became: get information, put it together and deseminate it.”
An e-mail thread between Franken, Ito, and Sean Bonner, (co-founder of CRASH Space, a group that bills itself as Los Angeles’ first hackerspace), evolved into a network of minds, including members of Tokyo Hackerspace, Dan Sythe, who produced high-quality Geiger counters, and Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s former Chief Technical Officer. On April 15, the group that was to become Safecast sat down together for the first time. Ozzie conceived the plan to strap a Geiger counter to a car and somehow log measurements in motion. This would became the bGeigie, Safecast’s future model of the do-it-yourself Geiger counter kit.
Armed with a few Geiger counters donated by Sythe, the newly formed team retrofitted their radiation-measuring devices to the outside of a car.  Safecast’s first volunteers drove up to the city of Koriyama in Fukushima Prefecture, and took their own readings around all of the schools. Franken explained, “If we measured all of the schools, we covered all the communities; because communities surround schools. It was very granular, the readings changed a lot, and the levels were far from academic, but it was our start. This was April 24, 6 weeks after the disaster. Our thinking changed quite a bit through this process.”
Since their first tour of Koriyama, with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign, Safecast’s team of volunteers have developed the bGeigie handheld radiation monitor, that anyone can buy on Amazon.com and construct with suggested instructions available online. So far over 350 users have contributed 41 million readings, using around a thousand fixed, mobile, and crowd-sourced devices.
According to Franken, “We’re working with communities to install these sensors in people’s neighborhoods. We’re financed by donations only. We get donations so we put together a plan, volunteers provide space, and Internet access, and agree that the data collected are public.
“What we’ve come to determine in Fukushima is that radiation levels are spotty. They can vary from street corner to street corner. We’ve also been able to determine that the levels over the last five years have reduced, partly because of half life of cesium, and because of environmental factors. We’ve also seen an increase in official government data being released in a similar style to Safecast’s drive-by method versus spot checking.”
According to Franken, “There is no safe dose of radiation as it’s debated by scientists; the higher the level, the higher the risk is that it will trigger a cancer. Though, at low levels the risk is much smaller, it is not zero. However, irrespectively of what we do, we will all be exposed to naturally occurring radiation. This varies worldwide a little, but in general you could say that if you’re exposed to those levels you’re not worse off than anywhere else. That level,” he says, “is somewhere between .05-.3 uSv/hr.”
“When Fukushima happened all of my education led to this moment,” said Joe Moross, a Tokyo-based radiation and environmental sensor engineer with 35 years of experience in radiation and environmental sensing in the U.S. and Japan. He has voluntarily driven and measured over 50,000 km [31,000 miles]. “I fit in this crisis better than I have ever before. Being trained in nuclear physics, and sensor technology, this is what I’ve been made for. One of the biggest problems in Fukushima is the anxiety and the uncertainty that people are suffering from the incident. I think what were doing is trying to alleviate that by giving them ways to educate themselves about the problem and giving them solutions where they can be empowered to do something about it, as a opposed to just going along with the current of the crisis.”


PNN - February Fun and FUMES!
News Director Rick Spisak, welcomes Associate Producer Brook Hines who will give us an updates on a variety of Progressive Issues, from Florida and beyond. 
Then we welcome a long time friend of the show, Ms Meredith Ockman a long time progressive leader and Womens Rights Advocate. She has been SE Regional Director for NOW and active in a wide range of Human Rights Fronts. 
We will also have a special guest from N. Florida Progressive Democrat Frank Day long time party activist and progressive leader in the Panhandle.
TUNE IN LIVE SUNDAY 7pm Eastern
or Anytime

Solidarity & Peace

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/newmercurymedia/2016/02/29/pnn--february-fun
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