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Fascism for liberals: “RoboCop” at 30 and the problem with prescience

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Very interesting column by John Semley in Salon:

We have become obsessed with prescience. Or rather, a kind of reverse-prescience that sees old books (from Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” to Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” to Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism” and Radiohead’s “OK Computer”) invested with a new vitality. These works, and their authors, are hailed for their farsightedness and acute judiciousness, for their ability to “speak to our troubled times.” But more often than not, it’s a case of too little, way too late.

Reading the Stalinist parable “Nineteen Eighty-Four” to make sense of Trumpism feels about as useful as scanning the instructions on a bottle of bear spray while your torso’s already half-digested by a savage Kodiak. Still, we laud the old works and the old masters for their seeming ability to forecast the present, even if they do so in hazy, generalizing terms. The esteemed quality of prescience thus reveals itself as conservative, keeping us fixed on the past, lost in our fantasies of foregone foresight. Damn, if only we could have seen it coming back then.

Few pop-cultural objects carry this burden of prescience like “RoboCop,” Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi satire/Detroit dystopia/Christian allegory, which turns 30 this summer. Set in a near-future Motor City beset by corporate greed, with slums being rebuilt as privatized skyscraper communities and public services seized by profiteering private contractors, much of “RoboCop’s” critical legacy hinges on its seemingly spooky ability to predict the future: from the militarization of American police forces, to the collapse (and rebirth) of Detroit, to the way in which politics has become increasingly beholden to private money.

Never mind that all these things were already happening when “RoboCop” was released theatrically at the ass-end of the Reagan administration. What matters is how the film is regarded as effectively anticipating what’s happening now. Problem is: claims of the film’s prescience aren’t just overstated. They’re fundamentally incorrect. And if we’re to believe — as many seem to — that “RoboCop’s” near future is meant to be our present, then we must reckon with one of its greatest oversights: its depiction of business-suited capitalists as crass, corporatist, unfeeling heels. What “RoboCop” got wrong was its depiction of the bad guys — of those greedy corporate profiteers looking to razz Detroit’s crumbling ghettos, quarterback private police militias and trap the hearts and minds of good, honest, working men inside hulking robotic exoskeletons.

***

On the commentary track bundled with Criterion’s now out-of-print 1998 home video release of “RoboCop,” producer Jon Davison summed up the movie’s message. He called it “fascism for liberals.” As Davison puts it: “The picture is extremely violent, but it has a nice, tongue-in-cheek, we’re-just-kiddin’ quality.” Indeed, “RoboCop,” like many of Dutch expat Paul Verhoeven’s other films (“The Fourth Man,” “Starship Troopers,” “Basic Instinct,” “Showgirls,” even the recent “Elle”) function through this sort of deeply embedded irony; this “we’re-just-kiddin’ quality.” The sex, the violence, the way they flirt with ideological reprehensibility — Verhoeven’s films are calibrated to invite reaction, even disgust. And yet that’s never the end in itself.

When a heavy artillery “urban pacification” tank shoots up a boardroom meeting early in “RoboCop,” in one of the film’s most legendarily over-the-top sequences, the joke isn’t the display of gore itself, but rather the reaction. When the scowling CEO of Omni Consumer Products (referred to with mock-affection as “The Old Man,” and played by Dan O’Herlihy) witnesses the wanton display of machine-on-man violence and mutters to sniveling underling Dick Jones (Ronny Cox), “I’m very disappointed in you,” that’s the joke — a critique of the corporate world’s utter disdain for human life, packaged in a parody of Reagan-era paternalist condescension. This, presumably, is what Davison is talking about. “RoboCop” offers visions of violence, of top-down, totalitarian corporate control, and the crumbling of the American Dream itself that proves fundamentally comforting in its cheekiness and ironic distance. Yes, the world it depicts is bad. But we know it’s bad. And that’s good.

Yet this idea — fascism for liberals — runs even deeper into the movie’s DNA. What its capitalist parody doesn’t anticipate is the current entanglements of corporatism and politics. While the ascent of celebrity capitalist Donald Trump may play like something out of a direct-to-video “RoboCop” sequel, the film fails to address the more pressing threat of smiling, do-gooder philanthrocapitalists: guys like Michael Bloomberg or Mark Zuckerberg who increasingly set the agendas of American (and global) politics, while retaining the image of selfless saviors. These are the people who, increasingly, represent the corporatization of everyday life, albeit in a way that “RoboCop”-style corporate villainy can’t account for.

When Donald Trump announced that America would be backing out of the Paris Climate Agreement, ex-NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg promised to pick up the tab with his private money. Likewise, before Amazon’s Jeff Bezos announced he was buying the Whole Foods supermarket chain last week — a move that boosted Bezos’s stock while sapping that of competitors like Wal-Mart and Target — he canvassed Twitter for ideas on charities to which he could donate money. This is the face of modern consumerist capitalism: lead with a benign-seeming charitable gesture, follow through with a massive, bottom line-boosting buyout.

The fundamental weakness of ’’80s-era, “RoboCop”-ian businessman bad guys is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 June 2017 at 4:17 pm

The problem with living in an information bubble: On Fox News, the first rule of the Senate health care bill is not to talk about it

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You can see the reason that Trump supporters are fed a constant stream of instructions—to avoid mainstream media, don’t read mainstream media, mainstream media lies, you can’t trust what you read in mainstream media, you can only trust Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, Alex Jones, Fox News, your eyes are growing heavy, and you feel sleepy, ….

So with the GOP Senate healthcare bills that cuts Medicaid, which exists to help the poor with their medical expenses, a cut made purely so that the very wealthy can have even more money, the people most affected are kept in the dark, locked in the basement by the instructions never to look at or trust any other source of information.

It’s amazingly blatant, and it works, and it’s changing the country—for the worse, IMO.

Jeff Guo writes at Vox:

How do you defend an effort like the Senate’s new health care bill, which neither repeals nor replaces Obamacare, but merely loots it to deliver tax breaks to the rich? By the president’s own standards, the bill fails to deliver: There would be higher, not lower premiums, and cuts to Medicaid. Instead of “insurance for everybody” there would be insurance for millions of fewer Americans — many of them the same people who elected the president.

So how do you spin a bill that seems un-spinnable? The answer, if you’re Fox News, is that you don’t. You deflect, you distract, and if necessary, you bend the truth. Above all, you hope that people care more about the politics than the policy.

According to the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of Trump voters named Fox News as their primary source of information about current events. But if you were watching Fox News last night, you wouldn’t have learned much at all about an impending piece of legislation that could upend your life. You wouldn’t understand anything about it expect that liberals hate it and the president sees it as a victory.

Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity could scarcely find time to discuss this major piece of legislation in between segments on Nancy Pelosi, Chinese dog meat, and “leftist rage.” When they did get around to talking about health care, they spent more time reviewing their complaints about Obamacare than discussing the new bill.

Hannity chatted briefly with Health Secretary Tom Price, who described the bill as offering “greater choices” for patients before pivoting to the demerits of Obamacare — a visibly more comfortable subject. Carlson did not discuss the bill at all. Instead he played a 90-second clipof Trump describing Obamacare as “virtually out of business.”

On The Five, a roundtable talk show, the pundits did devote a substantial amount of time — 10 minutes — to what they described as the “SENATE HEALTH CARE SHOWDOWN.” But the framing was entirely political. Instead of talking about what the bill would do, they talked about the bill’s chances of making it through Congress.

“Democrats won’t even come to the table,” said Jesse Watters.

Greg Gutfeld complained about the group of disabled protesters who were arrested outside Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s office yesterday. “They’re staging these die-ins” he exclaimed. “Because ‘Republicans kill people’ — that’s what we do. Isn’t that the inflammatory language we were talking about,” he said, referencing the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise last Thursday. (Nobody remembered that the GOP used the specter of “death panels” to rally resistance to Obamacare.)

The crew then began to fantasize about what it would mean for the president if this bill were to pass.

“Health care passes, tax reform gets teed up, the economy starts jamming again,” Watters mused. “This could be a turning point.”

“Yes, in theory, you could actually get there” said Dana Perino, a former press secretary for President George W. Bush. “But the next two weeks, they are not going to be smooth.”

Juan Williams, the token liberal, was the only person who brought up substantive details about the new Republican bill. “This is going to drive the premiums and costs for working people who come to the hospital,” he said. “What about the elderly, Jesse? The people we all have sympathy for?”

“They are all going to die, according to the liberals,” Gutfeld mocked.

“You forgot the children dying of cancer,” deadpanned Kimberly Guilfoyle, who was at one point rumored to be a possible replacement for Sean Spicer as the president’s press secretary.

A simple way to distinguish the press from public relations is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 June 2017 at 2:32 pm

Odd times bring odd problems: How ‘Gay’ Should a Gay Bar Be?

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And I’m not denigrating the problem in the least. It is a problem, and the evolution of social memes in the new directions still lacks a clear winner. Jim Farber reports in the NY Times:

The website for the Abbey touts its role as a two-time winner of Logo’s “Best Gay Bar in the World” award. But how gay is it? Some of the regulars believe the increasing number of straight people who go there has diluted its reason for being.

“My older gay clientele were saying, ‘Gosh, there are so many straight people in here,’” said David Cooley, the bar’s owner. “My argument was, we’ve been fighting for equality for all these years. We can’t reverse-discriminate and say: ‘You’re straight. You can’t come in here.’”

The Abbey, in West Hollywood, Calif., is not alone among gay bars in facing an identity crisis. In this time of increasing acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, gay establishments across the country are grappling with an influx of new visitors.

The newly diverse crowd at these formerly exclusive environments has set off a debate within the community about the meaning and purpose of such bars today. Something that seems to come up a lot in the discussion are the groups of straight women who consider gay bars as the perfect setting for bachelorette parties.

“They use the space to become ‘wild girls,’” said Chris McKenzie, a 35-year-old computer programmer in West Hollywood. “It’s not at all in concert with what the gay men are there for.”

Continue reading the main story

Some men feel the women stereotype them. “They think of us as ‘fun’ and ‘free,’” said Vin Testa, a 27-year-old educator in Washington, D.C. “It seems like they’re coming in to find their next accessory, like a new handbag.”

Straight men enter these environs less frequently, it seems. Those who do come, regular patrons of gay bars said, tend not to draw much attention to themselves.

The debate over the evolution in the clientele touches on not only the role and history of gay bars, but also on the struggle to weigh the concerns of inclusivity with the need to retain L.G.B.T. spaces. It even begs existential questions: What does it mean to be a gay bar in the age of sexual fluidity? With the mainstreaming of L.G.B.T. people, and the wider variety of people identifying with “queer” issues, who rightfully owns a space once simply called “gay”? . . .

Continue reading.

Any bar would struggle if it suddenly acquired a large clientele of people who were not in tune with the bar’s character but do enjoy each other’s company. What if jazz fans suddenly became a large proportion of the clientele at a country & western bar? What happens when a large number of bicyclists becoming patrons of a sports bar that mostly has a football crowd? Cops becoming patrons at a biker bar?

Written by LeisureGuy

24 June 2017 at 11:44 am

Posted in Daily life, Business, Memes

Trump appointee is a Saudi government lobbyist

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Filling the swamp. Carrie Levine writes at the Center for Public Integrity:

One of President Donald Trump’s newest appointees is a registered agent of Saudi Arabia earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby on the kingdom’s behalf, according to U.S. Department of Justice records reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity.

Since January, the Saudi Arabian foreign ministry has paid longtime Republican lobbyist Richard Hohlt about $430,000 in exchange for “advice on legislative and public affairs strategies.”

Trump’s decision to appoint a registered foreign agent to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships clashes with the president’s vow to clean up Washington and limit the influence of special interests.

Trump singled out lobbyists for foreign governments for special criticism, saying they shouldn’t be permitted to contribute to political campaigns. Hohlt is himself a Trump donor, though his contributions came before he registered to represent Saudi Arabia.

“I will issue a lifetime ban against senior executive branch officials lobbying on behalf of a FOREIGN GOVERNMENT! #DrainTheSwamp,” he tweeted in October.

Key advisory body

The commission is essentially a part-time advisory body responsible for making final recommendations to the president of candidates for the prestigious White House fellowships, which President Lyndon B. Johnson created in 1964.

The candidates are usually accomplished professionals with sterling resumes. Fellows are typically given jobs in the White House and federal agencies. Past White House fellows include Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas and CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta.

Hohlt said he is one of 19 commissioners who met over a weekend this month to interview the fellowship candidates — the commission’s only formal duty annually.

Hohlt stresses he has never lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of Saudi Arabia, which has aggressively courted Trump since he became president in January.

“That is not my role,” Hohlt said.

What role, then, does he play?

According to Hohlt’s disclosures with the Department of Justice, he registered to lobby for Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry in October and “provides them with advice on legislative and public affairs strategies.” He disclosed no direct contacts with government officials on the Saudis’ behalf as of April 30, the date covered by the latest Department of Justice report.

Hohlt said he was largely brought in to offer advice on overarching strategy and how the legislative process works.

He did directly contact some congressional offices in late May and June regarding an arms sale, he said, and those contacts will be disclosed in his next disclosure report, as required. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 June 2017 at 2:06 pm

Uber being the scum they are: “My Uber driver robbed me, so i took Uber to court and won”

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A very interesting and detailed account of an Uber driver robbing a passenger and Uber doing everything it could to ignore the problem and fight giving any compensation to the victim. Uber really does seem to be a scum company. I don’t know that simply getting Travis Kalanick kicked out as CEO will do any good since (a) he remains on the board and (b) the scum and the scum culture he created seem to be intact. (The firing of the 20 worst will have little effect once the culture’s been established.)

His account begins:

know this is not typical on a business blog, but I want to share what happened to potentially help someone in a similar situation.

If you have followed my twitter account since December, you might know that I was robbed by my Uber driver.  He intentionally drove off with my backpack containing my brand new $2,000 laptop, a bunch of marketing stuff, my medicine, second cell phone, some clothes, and pretty much everything important I owned. Seven months later, the situation has finally been resolved.  I wanted to give everyone on the internet a rundown of what happened so they can hopefully prevent this happening to them, and if so you will know the steps I took to get back what was taken from me (kind of).

Also as this has to do with legal proceedings I tried to be thorough and detailed and the end result is kind of long. :/

To the story!

If you didn’t know, FYM Hot Sauce was the first sponsor for the professional DotA 2 team, “Team NP.”  If you are not familiar with DotA 2, it is a team video game that can be compared to action chess.  DotA 2 has had tournaments since its inception where more than $120,000,000 has been given away in tournament winnings.  Needless to say it is a pretty big deal as many of the players are now millionaires.  Every year there are 3 major tournaments, two smaller ones with a prize pool of $3,000,000, and the championship with a prize pool of over $20,000,000.  When Team NP (who had never qualified for a major tournament) made it to the their first major tournament, held in Boston I decided to go and support them.

The community had really rallied around NP and I wanted to give back to the fans, so why not give away a bunch of hot sauce?  From Portland, Oregon I flew Southwest which allows you 2 free checked bags.  I filled up 2 suitcases with hot sauce to the max of 50 pounds each.  I also filled my backpack with a bunch of sample sauces that I could carry on, as well as other merchandise like hats, stickers, and shirts.  All of this stuff was for giving away to the fans that supported the team.  Without fans, NP would have had one heck of a time getting where they did.

When I landed for my layover in Kansas City I got a call from my father.  He owns an accounting firm, and his internet died.  Before my hot sauce set a record on Kickstarter, I was an IT consultant for small and medium businesses.  I still do work for my father’s office and I do some volunteer IT work for a locaI women’s shelter.  We went through the process of calling Comcast together, and we ended up getting everything up and running again during my two-hour layover.  I was able to use my laptop from my phone hotspot to remote into the servers and make sure everything was hunky-dory before my flight to Boston took off.

My flights were awesome.  No turbulence, and I had a whole row to myself.  I was able to stretch my legs out and watch movies on my phone in comfort.  I thought it was so cool all the space that I had that I took a picture to post on Twitter.  While not a great image, you could definitely see my backpack under the seat.

I landed in Boston around 11 PM EST on Monday, December 5th, 2016, and went to get my checked bags.  Luckily there were no leaking hot sauce bottles.   I went to wikitravel to see the best way of traveling from the airport.  I was warned that cab drivers will frequently rip people off and charge them $50 from the airport, when it should not take more than $20.  I decided to call an Uber from my phone, the first time that I had ever used the service.  While wearing my heavy backpack, I carried my two heavy bags out to the limo pick up area to wait.

When my driver arrived in his hybrid Toyota Camry, I put my two suitcases into his trunk and carried my backpack into the backseat with me.  Since I had a good 20 minutes of driving, I decided to pull out my laptop and make sure that everything was still working at my dad’s office.  I was able to connect to the server and everything seemed to be running smooth.

As we arrived at my AirBNB I slid my laptop back into my bag and looked up instructions on how to check in.  When we pulled up to the location we stopped in the middle of an uphill street, right next to another car.  It was a tight fit getting out of the backseat.   I looked around the unfamiliar street and told the driver that I would unload the suitcases to the curb then I would come back for the backpack in the backseat.

Why did I make that decision?  My bag had about $4,000 worth of stuff in it, and it was heavy.  I don’t know who is walking up and down the streets in Boston in the middle of the night, but I figured that it would be safer in the car with the driver, whom I had all their information in the Uber app.  If someone tried to run off with a bag full of hot sauce in one of my other suitcases it would be awkward and ultimately not a huge deal; it was just hot sauce.  Who knows, maybe that thief would have been a customer one day.  A backpack is easy to grab and run off with while no one is looking.

When I grabbed the suitcases out of the trunk I had to close the door so I could get them past the cars to the curb.  I had to take them to the curb as I was on the aforementioned hill, and with 4 wheels that don’t have locks I have to make sure they were not going to roll away.  There would have been no way to fit through the small opening walking sideways with the backpack on.  I was already shuffling with the heavy suitcases.

As I was bringing the cases to the curb, unknown to me, my driver took off.  I did not hear him take off as his electric car was near silent.  I set my bags to the curb and when I turned around he was gone.

I took a look around and assumed he mistakenly left with my backpack despite me having told him I would be back for it.  This was my first Uber ride, and so I took a minute and tried to figure out how to message the driver to come back.  I had to Google what to do as I am a noobie.  I went to the lost item section in the app and submitted my info, and soon after the automated robot lady called me and told me she would connect me with the driver.  The phone went right to voicemail, so I left a message.  I took my remaining bags into my room then walked downstairs to wait for the driver to return.  After 20 minutes it was clear he wasn’t returning.

I called several more times that night and left several more messages. . .

Continue reading.

Later:

They were a company that shows blatant disrespect to authority, operating illegally in cities and using technology to intentionally avoid law enforcement. . . I have no intention of ever using Uber again.  There are many competitors including public transportation, Lyft, Curb, ReachNow, Juno, Via, and the list keeps growing.  I can’t in good faith support a company that has such a blatant disregard for not only its clients, but also its employees.  While I am happy that Uber spawned a revolution in the transportation industry, they have proven themselves to be just as bad if not worse than the companies they sought to replace. . .

Written by LeisureGuy

23 June 2017 at 1:25 pm

California invested heavily in solar power. Now there’s so much that other states are sometimes paid to take it

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Something’s awry in California, and it seems to be dueling bureaucracies, with some incentivized to push generating electricity from fossil fuels, which is the opposite of what we want. Rather than sell surplus solar-generated electricity, shut down some of the fossil-fuel plants. Ivan Penn reports in the LA Times:

On 14 days during March, Arizona utilities got a gift from California: free solar power.

Well, actually better than free. California produced so much solar power on those days that it paid Arizona to take excess electricity its residents weren’t using to avoid overloading its own power lines.

It happened on eight days in January and nine in February as well. All told, those transactions helped save Arizona electricity customers millions of dollars this year, though grid operators declined to say exactly how much.And California also has paid other states to take power.

The number of days that California dumped its unused solar electricity would have been even higher if the state hadn’t ordered some solar plants to reduce production — even as natural gas power plants, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, continued generating electricity.

Solar and wind power production was curtailed a relatively small amount — about 3% in the first quarter of 2017 — but that’s more than double the same period last year. And the surge in solar power could push the number even higher in the future.

Why doesn’t California, a champion of renewable energy, use all the solar power it can generate?

The answer, in part, is that the state has achieved dramatic success in increasing renewable energy production in recent years. But it also reflects sharp conflicts among major energy players in the state over the best way to weave these new electricity sources into a system still dominated by fossil-fuel-generated power.

No single entity is in charge of energy policy in California. This has led to a two-track approach that has created an ever-increasing glut of power and is proving costly for electricity users. Rates have risen faster here than in the rest of the U.S., and Californians now pay about 50% more than the national average.

Perhaps the most glaring example: The California Legislature has mandated that one-half of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030; today it’s about one-fourth. That goal once was considered wildly optimistic. But solar panels have become much more efficient and less expensive. So solar power is now often the same price or cheaper than most other types of electricity, and production has soared so much that the target now looks laughably easy to achieve.

At the same time, however, state regulators — who act independently of the Legislature — until recently have continued to greenlight utility company proposals to build more natural gas power plants. [That is insane. – LG]

These conflicting energy agendas have frustrated state Senate Leader Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), who opposes more fossil fuel plants. He has introduced legislation that would require the state to meet its goal of 50% of its electricity from renewable sources five years earlier, by 2025. Even more ambitiously, he recently proposed legislation to require 100% of the state’s power to come from renewable energy sources by 2045.

“I want to make sure we don’t have two different pathways,” de Leon said. Expanding clean energy production and also building natural gas plants, he added, is “a bad investment.”

Environmental groups are even more critical. They contend that building more fossil fuel plants at the same time that solar production is being curtailed shows that utilities — with the support of regulators — are putting higher profits ahead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“California and others have just been getting it wrong,” said Leia Guccione, an expert in renewable energy at the Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado, a clean power advocate. “The way [utilities] earn revenue is building stuff. When they see a need, they are perversely [incentivized] to come up with a solution like a gas plant.” . . .

Continue reading.

 

Written by LeisureGuy

23 June 2017 at 1:00 pm

It’s worse than we thought: A Cyberattack ‘the World Isn’t Ready For’

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Nicole Perlroth has a frightening report in the NY Times:

There have been times over the last two months when Golan Ben-Oni has felt like a voice in the wilderness.

On April 29, someone hit his employer, IDT Corporation, with two cyberweapons that had been stolen from the National Security Agency. Mr. Ben-Oni, the global chief information officer at IDT, was able to fend them off, but the attack left him distraught.

In 22 years of dealing with hackers of every sort, he had never seen anything like it. Who was behind it? How did they evade all of his defenses? How many others had been attacked but did not know it?

Since then, Mr. Ben-Oni has been sounding alarm bells, calling anyone who will listen at the White House, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New Jersey attorney general’s office and the top cybersecurity companies in the country to warn them about an attack that may still be invisibly striking victims undetected around the world.

(p>And he is determined to track down whoever did it.

“I don’t pursue every attacker, just the ones that piss me off,” Mr. Ben-Oni told me recently over lentils in his office, which was strewn with empty Red Bull cans. “This pissed me off and, more importantly, it pissed my wife off, which is the real litmus test.”

Two weeks after IDT was hit, the cyberattack known as WannaCry ravaged computers at hospitals in England, universities in China, rail systems in Germany, even auto plants in Japan. No doubt it was destructive. But what Mr. Ben-Oni had witnessed was much worse, and with all eyes on the WannaCry destruction, few seemed to be paying attention to the attack on IDT’s systems — and most likely others around the world.

The strike on IDT, a conglomerate with headquarters in a nondescript gray building here with views of the Manhattan skyline 15 miles away, was similar to WannaCry in one way: Hackers locked up IDT data and demanded a ransom to unlock it.

But the ransom demand was just a smoke screen for a far more invasive attack that stole employee credentials. With those credentials in hand, hackers could have run free through the company’s computer network, taking confidential information or destroying machines.

Worse, the assault, which has never been reported before, was not spotted by some of the nation’s leading cybersecurity products, the top security engineers at its biggest tech companies, government intelligence analysts or the F.B.I., which remains consumed with the WannaCry attack.

Were it not for a digital black box that recorded everything on IDT’s network, along with Mr. Ben-Oni’s tenacity, the attack might have gone unnoticed.

Scans for the two hacking tools used against IDT indicate that the company is not alone. In fact, tens of thousands of computer systems all over the world have been “backdoored” by the same N.S.A. weapons. Mr. Ben-Oni and other security researchers worry that many of those other infected computers are connected to transportation networks, hospitals, water treatment plants and other utilities.

An attack on those systems, they warn, could put lives at risk. And Mr. Ben-Oni, fortified with adrenaline, Red Bull and the house beats of Deadmau5, the Canadian record producer, said he would not stop until the attacks had been shut down and those responsible were behind bars.

“The world is burning about WannaCry, but this is a nuclear bomb compared to WannaCry,” Mr. Ben-Oni said. “This is different. It’s a lot worse. It steals credentials. You can’t catch it, and it’s happening right under our noses.”

And, he added, “The world isn’t ready for this.”

Targeting the Nerve Center . . .

Continue reading.

It gets worse. Later:

. . , No one he has spoken to knows whether they have been hit, but just this month, restaurants across the United States reported being hit with similar attacks that were undetected by antivirus systems. There are now YouTube videos showing criminals how to attack systems using the very same N.S.A. tools used against IDT, and Metasploit, an automated hacking tool, now allows anyone to carry out these attacks with the click of a button.

Worse still, Mr. Ben-Oni said, “No one is running point on this.” . . .

Later:

. . . Last month, he personally briefed the F.B.I. analyst in charge of investigating the WannaCry attack. He was told that the agency had been specifically tasked with WannaCry, and that even though the attack on his company was more invasive and sophisticated, it was still technically something else, and therefore the F.B.I. could not take on his case.

The F.B.I. did not respond to requests for comment. . .

The US will be destroyed because of bureaucratic turf issues.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 June 2017 at 8:37 pm

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