In almost every developed nation in the world, 12 people being killed in a mass shooting would make that incident the deadliest in years. In some nations it would be the deadliest ever. But in the United States, they happen so often, with such ferocity and carnage, that when we learn about the next one, we hardly skip a beat. Indeed, 2018 was by far the most violent year ever measured for school shootings in the United States and 2017 was the deadliest year in at least a half-century for gun deaths altogether in this country – with an astounding 40,000 people killed by guns. That’s 110 people per day. We couldn’t keep up if we tried.
Virginia election officials have decertified an electronic voting system after determining that it was possible for even unskilled people to surreptitiously hack into it and tamper with vote counts.
The AVS WINVote, made by Advanced Voting Solutions, passed necessary voting systems standards and has been used in Virginia and, until recently, in Pennsylvania and Mississippi. It used the easy-to-crack passwords of “admin,” “abcde,” and “shoup” to lock down its Windows administrator account, Wi-Fi network, and voting results database respectively, according to a scathing security review published Tuesday by the Virginia Information Technologies Agency. The agency conducted the audit after one Virginia precinct reported that some of the devices displayed errors that interfered with vote counting during last November’s elections.
The weak passwords—which are hard-coded and can’t be changed—were only one item on a long list of critical defects uncovered by the review. The Wi-Fi network the machines use is encrypted with wired equivalent privacy, an algorithm so weak that it takes as little as 10 minutes for attackers to break a network’s encryption key. The shortcomings of WEP have been so well-known that it was banished in 2004 by the IEEE, the world’s largest association of technical professionals. What’s more, the WINVote runs a version of Windows XP Embedded that hasn’t received a security patch since 2004, making it vulnerable to scores of known exploits that completely hijack the underlying machine. Making matters worse, the machine uses no firewall and exposes several important Internet ports.
In the wake of the now-famous 2012 raid, the U.S. government has done everything in its power to deny Kim Dotcom access to the assets of his former Megaupload empire. Millions were seized, setting the basis for a legal battle that has dragged on for more than three years.
In a July 2014 complaint submitted at a federal court in Virginia, the Department of Justice asked for forfeiture of the bank accounts, cars and other seized possessions, claiming they were obtained through copyright and money laundering crimes.
“Kim Dotcom and Megaupload will vigorously oppose the US Department of Justice’s civil forfeiture action,” Dotcom lawyer Ira Rothken told TF at the time.
But in the final days of last month Dotcom received a blow when a ruling from the United States barred him from fighting the seizure. A Federal Court in Virginia found that Dotcom was not entitled to contest the forfeiture because he is viewed as a “fugitive” facing extradition.
“We think this is not offensive to just Kim Dotcom’s rights, but the rights of all Kiwis,” Rothken said.
Wasting no time, yesterday the United States went in for the kill. In a filing in the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the Department of Justice requested an entry of default against the assets of Kim Dotcom plus co-defendants Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk, Finn Batato, Julius Bencko, and Sven Echternach.
The targets for forfeiture are six bank accounts held in Hong Kong in the names of Ortmann, der Kolk, Echternach, Bencko and Batato. New Zealand based assets include an ANZ National Bank account in the name of Megastuff Limited, an HSBC account held by der Kolk and a Cleaver Richards Limited Trust Account for Megastuff Limited held at the Bank of New Zealand. Two Mercedes-Benz vehicles (an A170 and an ML500) plus their license plates complete the claim.
The request for default judgment was entered soon after.
Red Bull has filed a complaint with the United States Patent and Trademark Office against a small brewery in Virginia called Old Ox Brewery for the using a male cow in its name and logo. “An ‘ox’ and a ‘bull’ both fall within the same class of ‘bovine’ animals and are virtually indistinguishable to most consumers. In addition, an ox is a castrated bull,” Red Bull said in the lawsuit. “Applicant’s Old Ox marks so much resemble Red Bull so as to cause confusion, mistake or deception among purchasers, users and the public, thereby damaging Red Bull.”