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Adam Black
Sarcasm, ScienceFuturism, & SuckerPunching Nazis
Sarcasm, ScienceFuturism, & SuckerPunching Nazis


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Resistance School starts tonight

4 sessions in April, Free online Education in Fighting #theTrumpocalypse .

Graduates of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and former Democratic Staffers teach ...

4 nights in April


Here’s the session schedule:

Wednesday, April 5, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m . EST: Communicating our values in political advocacy, featuring Tim McCarthy

Signup here!

Session1 Syllabus>>>

Wednesday, April 12, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. EST: Mobilizing and organizing our communities, featuring Sara El-Amine

Thursday, April 20, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. EST: Structuring and building capacity for action, featuring Marshall Ganz

Thursday April 27, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. EST: Sustaining the resistance long-term, featuring Michael Blake

Sign up below to register your group and we’ll follow up with you with information on logistics and next steps, including the livestream link, detailed instructions for even the least tech-savvy resistors, and a syllabus of suggested readings.

Resistance School is about community. We’re asking you to convene a group to watch together and work as a community to take action - both locally and nationally. During our sessions, we’ll connect members of the Resistance to one another through a nationwide classroom and real-time conversation.

Speakers will provide interactive breakout sessions to allow your group to practice skills and develop plans that fit your local context. We’ll feed questions from the virtual audience back to the speaker to tailor our syllabus to your needs. Convening live across the country, we’ll build the energy we need to move forward together.

After each session, we encourage your group to spend time as a community: stay and chat, plan your action, grab a bite, and build the relationships we need to take back America.

Have questions or suggestions during the session? Send us an email. Tweet us. We’d love to hear from you.


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+Zak Starlord​ Bust out the Batlube

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Boston Solidarity Rally: Saturday August 19, 2017

40,000 + People

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Unvetted article on Amygdala cells as active stem cells for neurogenesis

The adult brain can regenerate neurons in an unexpected area, says new study
Scientists have discovered for the first time that adult mouse brains produce new cells in the amygdala, a finding that could eventually lead to better treatments for conditions like anxiety and depression, as well as a better understanding of the brain overall.
The amygdala handles a lot of our emotional responses, especially those relating to fear, and broken connections inside it can lead to anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
If the brain is capable of regenerating neurons in the amygdala, then that's potentially one way of fighting back against these mental health issues, according to the team from the University of Queensland in Australia.
"While it was previously known that new neurons are produced in the adult brain, excitingly this is the first time that new cells have been discovered in the amygdala," says one of the team, Pankaj Sah from the Queensland Brain Institute.
"Our discovery has enormous implications for understanding the amygdala's role in regulating fear and fearful memories."
Before now, neurogenesis – the process of producing new neurons – had only been spotted in human adults in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that handles long-term memory and also deals with emotional responses, and the striatum.
Adult neurogenesis was first recognised in the 1960s, but was more widely accepted in the 1990s, thanks in part to the discovery of stem cells in adult mice brains – cells that can divide and develop into other types of cells.
That discovery was made by another team from the Queensland Brain Institute, and since then, scientists have confirmed the same process happens in humans.
Now it looks like it's happening elsewhere too: based on new studies of mice, the researchers found evidence for the same stem cells in the amygdala, cells that could turn into genuine, fully functioning neurons. Now the task is to find the same results in humans.
Right now it's not clear what those new neurons do, or how the brain uses them, but their location is interesting and worthy of further study.
There's so much we still don't know about the brain, though its secrets are slowly being unlocked. As far as neurogenesis goes, for example, we know that a session on the booze slows down the process, though giving up the drink reverses the process.
Meanwhile, a study published in July found that implanting stem cells into the brain can help to extend the lifespan of mice, and it's possible that a similar approach here could also have a positive effect.
"Finding ways of stimulating the production of new brain cells in the amygdala could give us new avenues for treating disorders of fear processing, which include anxiety, PTSD and depression," says one of the team, Dhanisha Jhaveri.
The research has been published in Molecular Psychiatry.
#brain #neuron #neuroscience #neurobiology #dendrites #cells #DendriticSpines #HumanBrain #plasticity #neurology #DNA #interaction #learning #memory #memories #discovery #synapses #SynapticTransmission #BrainCells #research

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Bridge over Danube #hungary
#BTPCityscapePro – +BTP Cityscape Pro . owned by +Nancy Dempsey , curated by +Dmitry Jurkov
#hqsparchitecture #landscapephotography

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Russiagate: Why we know what we know, Seeing past Russian CounterPropaganda

From +Andreas Schou​​​​
< I added formatting minor edits and succinct conclusions. To keep flow together -+Adam Black >

This article is terrible. Let's recap why we think that Russia was involved:

(1) We currently have a Ukrainian hacker in custody who believes he was working for the Russian government on that hack.

It would be peculiar for him to turn himself in if everyone involved was in the US.
( He wrote the malware used by fancy bear,)

(2) The same malware implant was used in the Ukrainian election hack of 2014, the Bundestag hack in 2014, and a variety of other hacks against Ukrainian civil society organizations, US and Ukrainian military officers, US defense contractors, Russian journalists, and State Department officials.

(3) The documents released by Guccifer 2.0 were accessed by a role account named after Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Russian intelligence services.
Preserved error messages in some Excel files indicate that the computer's language was set to Russian.

(4) DNC server logs indicate that the attackers, whomever they were, worked from 9 to 5 in Moscow's timezone.

(5) Guccifer 2.0 claims to be Romanian. The few short utterances he produced in Romanian dropped articles and misused prepositions in a way which indicates that the speaker probably speaks a Slavic language.

(6) There appears to be a great deal of SIGINT indicating that people in the Russian government were trying to find the "33,000 deleted emails" at Flynn's request.

(7) The Podesta emails,
which could not have been leaked (they're from a private account) appear to have passed through the same channels as the emails now alleged to have been leaked. I have no reason to believe that the media narrative around these emails is false, and I implicitly trust the people who would have reviewed the forensic evidence. (They came from a gmail account, and while I have no specific knowledge of literally anything involved, suspected sovereign hacks are treated with special attention by a dedicated team.)

(8) Three independent outside reviews -- ThreatConnect, Mandiant, and CrowdStrike -- concur, on the basis of forensic evidence from the server logs, with the more elaborate review done by US intelligence agencies and law enforcement.

This article is largely incoherent from a technical perspective, and as someone who's worked in computer security and is now the privacy lead for a lot of people who do computer security, I really couldn't make heads or tails of it. "But here's why it's so utterly uncompelling*.

(1) The people writing the "report," and I'm going to get into them later, didn't actually have access to any of the malware samples, server logs, or disk images which were used in the hack.

(2) What they did have, however, was the original zip file which Guccifer 2.0 used to distribute a bunch of stolen DNC files.

The files inside the ZIP are timestamped at an interval which implies a transfer rate of 22 MB/s, which is extremely high for a consumer-grade Internet connection. (It's also not the usual way you'd measure network speed, which is generally measured in Mbs rather than MBs, but... well... there's a reason for that.)

(3) This is not particularly important because neither the DNC nor the FSB nor the GRU would be operating on consumer-grade Internet connections. They'd be operating on fat commercial connections instead, which can easily reach that speed .

(4) Okay, but maybe it couldn't get to Russia at that speed. This is kind of a legit criticism, because transpacific capacity is actually bad enough that Google sometimes has problems with it. And of course there would be some latency. But this article confuses latency ("how long it takes to get there") with bandwidth ("how much gets there at the same time").

If you've got dedicated, leased fiber, of course you could get it to RU at that speed

(5) Anyway, that doesn't matter. There are good reasons to exfil in a burst transmission from a staging server rather than exfiltrating in one step. The NSA operates network logs of data leaving and entering the US. If you send your data from the DNC to RU in one stage, that might attract some attention. If you first move the data to a staging server on a rack somewhere in the US, pause, and later burst-transmit it to Russia, it looks like a US --> US network transaction, and then an unrelated US --> RU network transaction.

(6) But that doesn't even matter, because it gets worse: while I can think of some reasons why those timestamps might correspond to a network speed, they probably don't: unless you're doing some Windows copying to a remote disk, it's going to preserve the same timestamp.

You know what that speed does correspond to? It's a little slow for a disk from five years ago (which you might expect to be in the ~80-100 MB/s range), but it really does look like roughly the speed that a slightly out-of-date computer might write to a ZIP file.

Which would change the timestamps.

So why did this article happen:?

Personae / Experts :

< Adams opinions A pile of out of work , ashamed, unfairly burnt NSA agents playing at Jockey; with incomplete tools and information . Some have the highest integrity, some have none. All have axxes to grind. >

(1) There are some mostly-decent people in VIPS. Drake and Binney were both utterly humiliated by NSA's overreach, and Ray McGovern is a lefty activist

But Tice is insane -- I do not mean this in a metaphorical sense; he was dismissed for mental illness -- and

Johnson is a serial fabricator who is responsible for the 2008 "whitey tape" rumors: Hersh's unpublishable story about us not really killing Bin Laden, and the Seth Rich murder conspiracy theory.

Also, Binney's primary source of income is Russian state media. So. Uh.

(2) You know who "Forensicator" is?!!

-A blog obfuscating screenshots from /r/the_donald, not a computer security researcher at all

( : an altRight Social Media Reddit Blogging Bullshit/ wannbe hacker /Journalist, but is a a PR Flunky )

There is no reason to believe they have any idea what they're talking about. ,!!!

(3) Patrick Lawrence is a pen name for _Patrick L. Smith__ ..., used _when he wants to obfuscate his own prior work for Russian state media. ( Ahem )

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Fancy Bear Malware writer (used in DNC hack) Turns states evidence to FBI

The Noose gets tighter....


In Ukraine, a Malware Expert Who Could Blow the Whistle on Russian Hacking - The New York Times


Kiev’s main thoroughfare. Ukraine has been used for years by Russia as a testing ground for politicized cyberoperations that later cropped up in other countries. Credit Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

KIEV, Ukraine — The hacker, known only by his online alias “Profexer,” kept a low profile. He wrote computer code alone in an apartment and quietly sold his handiwork on the anonymous portion of the internet known as the dark web. Last winter, he suddenly went dark entirely.

#Profexer’s posts, already accessible only to a small band of fellow hackers and cybercriminals looking for software tips, blinked out in January — just days after American intelligence agencies publicly identified a program he had written as one tool used in Russian hacking in the United States. American intelligence agencies have determined Russian hackers were behind the electronic break-in of the Democratic National Committee.

But while Profexer’s online persona vanished, a flesh-and-blood person has emerged: a fearful man who the Ukrainian police said turned himself in early this year, and has now become a witness for the F.B.I.

“I don’t know what will happen,” he wrote in one of his last messages posted on a restricted-access website before going to the police. “It won’t be pleasant. But I’m still alive.”

It is the first known instance of a living witness emerging from the arid mass of technical detail that has so far shaped the investigation into the election hacking and the heated debate it has stirred. The Ukrainian police declined to divulge the man’s name or other details, other than that he is living in Ukraine and has not been arrested.
Continue reading the main story

There is no evidence that Profexer worked, at least knowingly, for Russia’s intelligence services, but his malware apparently did.

That a hacking operation that Washington is convinced was orchestrated by Moscow would obtain malware from a source in Ukraine — perhaps the Kremlin’s most bitter enemy — sheds considerable light on the Russian security services’ modus operandi in what Western intelligence agencies say is their clandestine cyberwar against the United States and Europe.

It does not suggest a compact team of government employees who write all their own code and carry out attacks during office hours in Moscow or St. Petersburg, but rather a far looser enterprise that draws on talent and hacking tools wherever they can be found.

Also emerging from Ukraine is a sharper picture of what the United States believes is a Russian government hacking group known as Advanced Persistent Threat 28 or Fancy Bear. It is this group, which American intelligence agencies believe is operated by Russian military intelligence, that has been blamed, along with a second Russian outfit known as Cozy Bear, for the D.N.C. intrusion.

Rather than training, arming and deploying hackers to carry out a specific mission like just another military unit, Fancy Bear and its twin Cozy Bear have operated more as centers for organization and financing; much of the hard work like coding is outsourced to private and often crime-tainted vendors.
Watching Ukrainian election results in Kiev 2014. Russia has tested certain types of computer intrusions in Ukraine. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
Russia’s Testing Ground

In more than a decade of tracking suspected Russian-directed cyberattacks against a host of targets in the West and in former Soviet territories — NATO, electrical grids, research groups, journalists critical of Russia and political parties, to name a few — security services around the world have identified only a handful of people who are directly involved in either carrying out such attacks or providing the cyberweapons that were used.

This absence of reliable witnesses has left ample room for President Trump and others to raise doubts about whether Russia really was involved in the D.N.C. hack.

“There is not now and never has been a single piece of technical evidence produced that connects the malware used in the D.N.C. attack to the G.R.U., F.S.B. or any agency of the Russian government,” said Jeffrey Carr, the author of a book on cyberwarfare. The G.R.U. is Russia’s military intelligence agency, and the F.S.B. its federal security service.

United States intelligence agencies, however, have been unequivocal in pointing a finger at Russia.

Seeking a path out of this fog, cybersecurity researchers and Western law enforcement officers have turned to Ukraine, a country that Russia has used for years as a laboratory for a range of politicized operations that later cropped up elsewhere, including electoral hacking in the United States.

In several instances, certain types of computer intrusions, like the use of malware to knock out crucial infrastructure or to pilfer email messages later released to tilt public opinion, occurred in Ukraine first. Only later were the same techniques used in Western Europe and the United States.

So, not surprisingly, those studying cyberwar in Ukraine are now turning up clues in the investigation of the D.N.C. break-in and related hacking, including the discovery of a rare witness.

Security experts were initially left scratching their heads when the Department of Homeland Security on Dec. 29 released technical evidence of Russian hacking that seemed to point not to Russia, but rather to Ukraine.

In this initial report, the department released only one sample of malware said to be an indicator of Russian state-sponsored hacking, though outside experts said a variety of malicious programs were used in Russian electoral hacking.

The sample pointed to a malware program, called the P.A.S. web shell, a hacking tool advertised on Russian-language dark web forums and used by cybercriminals throughout the former Soviet Union. The author, Profexer, is a well-regarded technical expert among hackers, spoken about with awe and respect in Kiev.

He had made it available to download, free, from a website that asked only for donations, ranging from $3 to $250. The real money was made by selling customized versions and by guiding his hacker clients in its effective use. It remains unclear how extensively he interacted with the Russian hacking team.

After the Department of Homeland Security identified his creation, he quickly shut down his website and posted on a closed forum for hackers, called Exploit, that “I’m not interested in excessive attention to me personally.”

Soon, a hint of panic appeared, and he posted a note saying that, six days on, he was still alive.

Another hacker, with the nickname Zloi Santa, or Bad Santa, suggested the Americans would certainly find him, and place him under arrest, perhaps during a layover at an airport.

“It could be, or it could not be, it depends only on politics,” Profexer responded. “If U.S. law enforcement wants to take me down, they will not wait for me in some country’s airport. Relations between our countries are so tight I would be arrested in my kitchen, at the first request.”

In fact, Serhiy Demediuk, chief of the Ukrainian Cyber Police, said in an interview that Profexer went to the authorities himself. As the cooperation began, Profexer went dark on hacker forums. He last posted online on Jan. 9. Mr. Demediuk said he had made the witness available to the F.B.I., which has posted a full-time cybersecurity expert in Kiev as one of four bureau agents stationed at the United States Embassy there. The F.B.I. declined to comment.

Profexer was not arrested because his activities fell in a legal gray zone, as an author but not a user of malware, the Ukrainian police say. But he did know the users, at least by their online handles. “He told us he didn’t create it to be used in the way it was,” Mr. Demediuk said.

A member of Ukraine’s Parliament with close ties to the security services, Anton Gerashchenko, said that the interaction was online or by phone and that the Ukrainian programmer had been paid to write customized malware without knowing its purpose, only later learning it was used in Russian hacking.

Mr. Gerashchenko described the author only in broad strokes, to protect his safety, as a young man from a provincial Ukrainian city. He confirmed that the author turned himself in to the police and was cooperating as a witness in the D.N.C. investigation. “He was a freelancer and now he is a valuable witness,” Mr. Gerashchenko said.

It is not clear whether the specific malware the programmer created was used to hack the D.N.C. servers, but it was identified in other Russian hacking efforts in the United States.
The headquarters of the F.S.B. in Moscow. The Americans believe Russian military intelligence operates Advanced Persistent Threat 28, or Fancy Bear. Credit Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press
A Bear’s Lair

While it is not known what Profexer has told Ukrainian investigators and the F.B.I. about Russia’s hacking efforts, evidence emanating from Ukraine has again provided some of the clearest pictures yet about Fancy Bear, or Advanced Persistent Threat 28, which is run by the G.R.U.

Fancy Bear has been identified mostly by what it does, not by who does it. One of its recurring features has been the theft of emails and its close collaboration with the Russian state news media.

Tracking the bear to its lair, however, has so far proved impossible, not least because many experts believe that no such single place exists.

Even for a sophisticated tech company like Microsoft, singling out individuals in the digital miasma has proved just about impossible. To curtail the damage to clients’ operating systems, the company filed a complaint against Fancy Bear last year with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia but found itself boxing with shadows.

As Microsoft lawyers reported to the court, “because defendants used fake contact information, anonymous Bitcoin and prepaid credit cards and false identities, and sophisticated technical means to conceal their identities, when setting up and using the relevant internet domains, defendants’ true identities remain unknown.”

Nevertheless, Ukrainian officials, though wary of upsetting the Trump administration, have been quietly cooperating with American investigators to try to figure out who stands behind all the disguises.

Included in this sharing of information were copies of the server hard drives of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission, which were targeted during a presidential election in May 2014. That the F.B.I. had obtained evidence of this earlier, Russian-linked electoral hack has not been previously reported.
A polling station outside Kiev during the 2014 Ukrainian election. The server hard drives of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission were targeted by a cyberattack. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

Traces of the same malicious code, this time a program called Sofacy, were seen in the 2014 attack in Ukraine and later in the D.N.C. intrusion in the United States.

Intriguingly, in the cyberattack during the Ukrainian election, what appears to have been a bungle by Channel 1, a Russian state television station, inadvertently implicated the government authorities in Moscow.

Hackers had loaded onto a Ukrainian election commission server a graphic mimicking the page for displaying results. This phony page showed a shocker of an outcome: an election win for a fiercely anti-Russian, ultraright candidate, Dmytro Yarosh. Mr. Yarosh in reality received less than 1 percent of the vote.

The false result would have played into a Russian propaganda narrative that Ukraine today is ruled by hard-right, even fascist, figures.

The fake image was programmed to display when polls closed, at 8 p.m., but a Ukrainian cybersecurity company, InfoSafe, discovered it just minutes earlier and unplugged the server.

State television in Russia nevertheless reported that Mr. Yarosh had won and broadcast the fake graphic, citing the election commission’s website, even though the image had never appeared there. The hacker had clearly provided Channel 1 with the same image in advance, but the reporters had failed to check that the hack actually worked.

“For me, this is an obvious link between the hackers and Russian officials,” said Victor Zhora, director of InfoSafe, the cybersecurity company that first found the fake graphic.

A Ukrainian government researcher who studied the hack, Nikolai Koval, published his findings in a 2015 book, “Cyberwar in Perspective,” and identified the Sofacy malware on the server.

The mirror of the hard drive went to the F.B.I., which had this forensic sample when the cybersecurity company CrowdStrike identified the same malware two years later, on the D.N.C. servers.

“It was the first strike,” Mr. Zhora said of the earlier hack of Ukraine’s electoral computers. Ukraine’s Cyber Police have also provided the F.B.I. with copies of server hard drives showing the possible origins of some phishing emails targeting the Democratic Party during the election.

In 2016, two years after the election hack in Ukraine, hackers using some of the same techniques plundered the email system of the World Anti-Doping Agency, or WADA, which had accused Russian athletes of systematic drug use.
A website announced that WADA had been hacked by a group calling itself the “Fancy Bears’ Hack Team.” Credit Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press

That raid, too, seems to have been closely coordinated with Russian state television, which began airing well-prepared reports about WADA’s hacked emails just minutes after they were made public. The emails appeared on a website that announced that WADA had been hacked by a group calling itself the “Fancy Bears’ Hack Team.”

It was the first time Fancy Bear had broken cover.

#FancyBear remains extraordinarily elusive, however. To throw investigators off its scent, the group has undergone various makeovers, restocking its arsenal of malware and sometimes hiding under different guises. One of its alter egos, cyberexperts believe, is Cyber Berkut, an outfit supposedly set up in Ukraine by supporters of the country’s pro-Russian president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, who was ousted in 2014.

After lying dormant for many months, Cyber Berkut jumped back into action this summer just as multiple investigations in Washington into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow shifted into high gear. Cyber Berkut released stolen emails that it and Russian state news media said had exposed the real story: Hillary Clinton had colluded with Ukraine.
Correction: August 16, 2017

An earlier version of this article misstated how a type of malware known as P.A.S. was used in Russian hacking efforts in the United States that included the electronic break-in at the Democratic National Committee. The agencies identified the malware as a tool used in #Russianhacking, but they did not specify in which attacks it was used.

A version of this article appears in print on August 17, 2017, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Code Writer in Ukraine Could Blow Whistle on Russian Hacking.

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A Disease that steals your language: Primary Progressive Aphasia
Interesting. Never heard of PPA before now. "[Joanne] Douglas has primary progressive aphasia (PPA)—a brain disorder that robs people of their language skills. Unlike other aphasias (language impairments) caused by trauma or stroke, PPA is degenerative: It gets worse, slowly and inexorably. But unlike other degenerative conditions, like Alzheimer’s dementia, it leaves most of a patient’s mental faculties untouched. People can still plan, reason, and multi-task. Their memories stay healthy and their personalities remain unchanged, at least at first.

But their blooming inability to write, read, speak, and comprehend can leave them locked inside their own heads, responsive but unable to respond, thoughtful but unable to share those thoughts. “It can be a truly devastating condition,” says Joseph Duffy from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. “It sucks our humanity, or what makes us uniquely human, from us.
It’s as if she has a daily quota of words—currently around half an hour of talking time, and less for writing. The disorder has progressed to the point when she can’t “have a significant conversation and produce a piece of high-quality writing on the same day.” And once the quota depletes, speech becomes hard and sentences start to look strange. Then, she lapses into silence and puts away any text, allowing herself to rebuild her cognitive resources.

So, Douglas carefully prioritizes when and how to use up her quota. “I’m always looking for quality rather than quantity, making the absolute best use of what I have, and not frittering away my very precious coterie of words,” she tells me. “I try to store up my reserves of language so they’re available for optimum use when I want to. And I spend most of my time alone fairly quietly.”
“My goal is always to be grateful for the abilities I have and use them to the best of what I can,” Douglas tells me. “The diagnosis makes all the difference to how I can approach the disorder.””

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