08/20/19

Improper Federal Payments: Anyone Care?

By: Denise Simon | Political Vanguard

Obama signed Executive Order 13520 on November 20, 2009, titled ‘Reducing Improper Payments’. Defined in this order is the purpose to examine all parts of the federal government where improper payments were made, the reasons, the amounts and how to reduce the amounts and risks. Further, the order points to the Office of Management and Budget along with the General Accounting Office to lead the mission. Required upon review is full transparency and reporting for access to members of Congress and the American people. Each agency was/is accountable for self-examination and reporting. There was/is a timeline of dates to meet for the benefit of the U.S. Treasury to take further action to reduce the financial chaos within the Federal government. Each reporting quarter required updated submissions.

If any of the requirements were not met then an Inspector General would be assigned to agencies for failure to comply to determine faults and reasons. From this ongoing effort, policy proposals would be submitted stopping all future improper payment exposures.

All sounds great eh? Except, visiting the respective webpages of the OMB and the GAO, there is no reporting. The only summary published dealt with fraud, not waste or abuse. This summary was published in 2018.

Continue reading

08/20/19

Teachers Union in Solidarity with Maduro Venezuela

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Chicago Tribune:

The recent trip to Venezuela by a group calling itself a Chicago Teachers Union delegation has upset some union members and expats who question the point of the tour and take issue with the group’s praise of the country’s disputed government.

The four travelers, who crowdfunded the July trip under the banner of the CTU, met with Venezuelan government officials and educators, visited a commune and were featured in local media.

“We Didn’t See A Single Homeless Person”: Chicago Teacher ...

They wrote online about wanting to connect with Venezuelan teachers, students and unionists, criticized U.S. economic sanctions against the South American nation and wrote admiringly of its socialism, its communes and high literacy rates.

But critics say the group glossed over Venezuela’s ongoing political and economic crises and were excessively complimentary of President Nicolás Maduro, whose administration has been accused in recent United Nations reports of “grave” human rights violations and violence against dissenters.

Continue reading

08/20/19

Sex Trafficking Ring Busts

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

This sounds really familiar. You know that case that snared Patriots owner Robert Kraft in South Florida?

Last October, the president hosted a meeting of the Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. Not only is this a domestic issue, it is worldwide. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo held a briefing on the matter.

So how about liberal media reporting some of the domestic successes? Anyone? Well, read on.

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WDHN) — A joint-investigation performed by Panama City Police and the FBI has ended with the arrest of a Pensacola man and the dismantling of a human trafficking ring.

1800 Beck Massage llc in Panama City, FL 32405 | Citysearch

The investigation began in 2017 when investigators sent a confidential informant into a massage business at 1800 Beck Avenue. Once inside, an Asian woman offered to perform sexual acts on the informant for more money, investigators wrote.

As the investigation continued, officers learned that the business was owned by 41-year-old David Williams of Pensacola.

Late last week, Williams was arrested and charged with using interstate facilities for purposes of racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the harboring of illegal aliens for commercial advantage or private financial gain.

The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Pennsylvania State Police, and Pittsburgh FBI led the investigation into the organization’s operations in Pennsylvania and, on Thursday, executed nine search warrants in Turtle Creek, Carnegie, Jeannette, Bridgeville, Erie, and McKees Rock. Agents in Florida also executed multiple federal search warrants in Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, and Gainesville.

The charges allege that Williams was exploiting undocumented women and offering sexual acts for money during massages at his parlors. The investigation originated from a tip received by the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The investigation remains ongoing.

“The defendant allegedly used his businesses to exploit women in several different states and force them into prostitution purely to line his own pockets,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Thanks to strong collaboration with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we have put an end to this criminal enterprise and are seeking justice for the defendant’s victims.”

Continue reading

08/20/19

Local/National Politicians Expanding Narcotics Crisis

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Do you realize under these programs, governments are actually buyers/customers of unlawful narcotics? State and local governments are essentially becoming a legal drug cartel. Read on to see how this works.

To Fight The Opioid Crisis, Health Experts Recommend Safe ...

A week after President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health experts and the Clinton Foundation released a report with suggestions for curbing the epidemic that’s killing 90 Americans each day.

Among the collaboration’s top recommendations was a progressive suggestion: establishing “safe consumption sites” ― centers where drug users can go to consume or inject their drugs in a medically supervised environment. More here.

Boston Globe: US Senator Bernie Sanders released a criminal justice reform plan Sunday that includes proposals to legalize marijuana, expunge past cannabis convictions, and provide for safe injection sites to combat the opioid crisis.

Continue reading

08/20/19

4 Russian Nuclear Monitor Stations, Gone Dark

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Severodvinsk is a well known Naval Testing Range and Russia is concealing data after the explosions at the missile test site.

Two Russian nuclear monitoring stations — specifically designed to detect radiation — “went silent” in the days following an explosion of what many believe was a nuclear-powered missile earlier this month during tests at a remote base, a nuclear official said in an email Sunday.

Lassina Zerbo, the head of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, told The Wall Street Journal in an email that two days after the explosion that the monitoring stations in Kirov and Dubna suffered “communication and network issues.”

There have been reports that Russia has not been fully transparent about what occurred at a military base in the far northern Arkhangelsk region. The initial report from the country’s nuclear agency said that five workers were killed in a rocket engine explosion. The Guardian reported that radiation levels in Severodvinsk, a nearby city, increased 20 times above normal for about a half-hour after the explosion. More here.

Related image

Continue reading

08/20/19

American Cities Hit by Ransomware

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

AUSTIN – The Department of Information Resources (DIR) is leading the response to a coordinated ransomware attack that has impacted at least twenty local government entities across Texas

​AUSTIN – The Department of Information Resources (DIR) is leading the response to a coordinated ransomware attack that has impacted at least twenty local government entities across Texas.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management is assisting by coordinating state agency support through the Texas State Operations Center.

Currently, DIR, the Texas Military Department, and the Texas A&M University System’s Cyberresponse and Security Operations Center teams are deploying resources to the most critically impacted jurisdictions.  Further resources will be deployed as they are requested.

Local jurisdictions who have been impacted should contact their local TDEM Disaster District Coordinator. DIR is fully committed to respond swiftly to this event and provide the necessary resources to bring these entities back online.

***

Users are then extorted for cash in order to regain access to their systems, and they are nearly always asked to pay in Bitcoin, a blockchain currency that is virtually untraceable, allowing hackers to pull off these complex operations from a single room halfway around the world.

It is unknown how much the hackers were demanding from Texas officials, which systems are currently offline and whether the impacted cities are expected to pay the ransom.

*** More than 20 Texas cities and towns have been taken ...

Continue reading

08/20/19

Historical Look at Afghanistan, US in or Out?

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

As we hear the talks with the Taliban have concluded with the United States, we have no idea just yet whether the United States will keep troops in the country in an unknown quantity. Could it be that the Taliban have truly defeated coalition nations in Afghanistan… that victory for the Taliban is real?

What could happen next if the Taliban shares the rule of the nation? More Taliban, more al Qaeda, more ISIS? Or could there be another Russian invasion? How about other major conflicts in the future that include the Tajiks, the Uzbeks or maybe the Hazaras? Or China?

In particular, the analysis cites a local media report claiming that local militias of former Tajik Mujahedeen have started to remobilizing alongside the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in Afghanistan’s Panjshir province because of an uptick in threats against the province from the Taliban. The media report, published by TOLO News, claims the area has “changed to a hub for insurgents’ activities over the past few weeks.”

Afghanistan - Comintern (SH) - for a communist Afhjanistan ...

Continue reading

08/20/19

35 North Korean Cyber Attacks In 17 Countries

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

According to a South Korean politician, last fall North Korean hackers gained access to South Korea’s Defense Integrated Data Center and stole 235 gigabytes of classified military plansMore here.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. experts say they are investigating at least 35 instances in 17 countries of North Koreans using cyberattacks to illegally raise money for weapons of mass destruction programs — and they are calling for sanctions against ships providing gasoline and diesel to the country.

Last week, The Associated Press quoted a summary of a report from the experts which said that North Korea illegally acquired as much as $2 billion from its increasingly sophisticated cyber activities against financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges.

The lengthier version of the report, recently seen by the AP, reveals that neighboring South Korea was hardest-hit, the victim of 10 North Korean cyberattacks, followed by India with three attacks, and Bangladesh and Chile with two each.

Thirteen countries suffered one attack — Costa Rica, Gambia, Guatemala, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Nigeria, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Tunisia, and Vietnam, it said.

The experts said they are investigating the reported attacks as attempted violations of U.N. sanctions, which the panel monitors.

The report cites three main ways that North Korean cyber hackers operate:

—Attacks through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication or SWIFT system used to transfer money between banks, “with bank employee computers and infrastructure accessed to send fraudulent messages and destroy evidence.”

—Theft of cryptocurrency “through attacks on both exchanges and users.”

— And “mining of cryptocurrency as a source of funds for a professional branch of the military.”

The experts stressed that implementing these increasingly sophisticated attacks “is low risk and high yield,” often requiring just a laptop computer and access to the internet.

The report to the Security Council gives details on some of the North Korean cyberattacks as well as the country’s successful efforts to evade sanctions on coal exports in addition to imports of refined petroleum products and luxury items including Mercedes Benz S-600 cars.

One Mercedes Maybach S-Class limousine and other S-600s, as well as a Toyota Land Cruiser, were transferred from North Korea to Vietnam for last February’s summit between the country’s leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, the experts said, adding that Vietnam said it asked for but was never provided a list of vehicles being brought into the country.

The panel also said it obtained information that the Taesong Department Store in Pyongyang, which reopened in April and is selling luxury goods, is part of the Taesong Group which includes two entities under U.N. sanctions and was previously linked to procurement for North Korea’s ballistic missile programs.

The panel recommended sanctions against six North Korean vessels for evading sanctions and illegally carrying out ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum products.

Under U.N. sanctions, North Korea is limited to importing 500,000 barrels of such products annually including gasoline and diesel. The U.S. and 25 other countries said North Korea exceeded the limit in the first four months of 2019.

The panel also recommended sanctions against the captain, owner, and parent company of the North Korean-flagged Wise Honest, which was detained by Indonesia in April 2018 with an illegal shipment of coal.

As for North Korea’s military cooperation with other countries, the experts said Iran rejected an unnamed country’s allegation that two North Korean entities under sanctions maintained offices in Iran — the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation known as KOMID, which is the country’s primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons, and Saeng Pil Company.

The experts said they have requested information from Rwanda on a report that North Koreans are conducting special forces training at a military camp in Gabiro. And they said they are also waiting for a response from Uganda “to multiple inquires” about reports indicating specialized training is being conducted in the country, and KOMID and North Korean workers maintain a presence.

As examples of North Korean cyberattacks, the panel said hackers in one unnamed country accessed the infrastructure managing its entire ATM system and installed malware modifying the way transactions are processed. As a result, it forced 10,000 cash distributions to individuals working for or on behalf of North Korea “across more than 20 countries in five hours.”

In Chile, the experts said, North Korean hackers demonstrated “increasing sophistication in social engineering,” by using LinkedIn to offer a job to an employee of the Chilean interbank network Redbanc, which connects the ATMs of all the country’s banks.

According to a report from one unnamed country cited by the experts, stolen funds following one cryptocurrency attack in 2018 “were transferred through at least 5,000 separate transactions and further routed to multiple countries before eventual conversion” to currency that a government has declared legal money, “making it highly difficult to track the funds.”

In South Korea, the experts said, North Korean cyber actors shifted focus in 2019 to targeting cryptocurrency exchanges, some repeatedly.

The panel said South Korea’s Bithumb, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, was reportedly attacked at least four times. It said the first two attacks in February 2017 and July 2017 each resulted in losses of approximately $7 million, while a June 2018 attack led to a $31 million loss and a March 2019 attack to a $20 million loss.

The panel said it also investigated instances of “cryptojacking” in which malware is used to infect a computer to illicitly use its resources to generate cryptocurrency. It said one report analyzed a piece of malware designed to mine the cryptocurrency Monero “and send any mined currency to servers located at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang.”