What we really know about North Korea , cyber attacks and ‘Lazarus’

FILE - In this Monday, May 15, 2017, file photo, employees watch electronic boards monitoring possible ransomware cyberattacks at the Korea Internet and Security Agency in Seoul, South Korea. Beyond the frequently used shorthand that North Korea was

FILE – In this Monday, May 15, 2017, file photo, employees watch electronic boards monitoring possible ransomware cyberattacks at the Korea Internet and Security Agency in Seoul, South Korea. Beyond the frequently used shorthand that North Korea was behind the “WannaCry” ransomware attack lies a more complicated and enlightening story: the rise of an infamous group of workaholic hackers, collectively known as “Lazarus,” who may be using secret lairs in northeast China and have created a virtual “malware factory” that could wreak a lot more havoc in the future. (Yun Dong-jin/Yonhap via AP, File)

 

 

 

With the dust now settling after “WannaCry”, the biggest ransomware attack in history, cybersecurity experts are taking a deep dive into how it was carried out, what can be done to protect computers from future breaches and, trickiest of all, who is really to blame.

For many, it seems that last question has already been solved: It was North Korea.

But beyond the frequently used shorthand that North Korea was likely behind the attack lies a more complicated — and enlightening — story: the rise of an infamous group of workaholic hackers, collectively known as “Lazarus,” who may be using secret lairs in northeast China and have created a virtual “malware factory” that could wreak a lot more havoc in the future.

Big caveat here: Lazarus doesn’t reveal much about itself. What little is known about the group is speculative.

Nevertheless, extensive forensic research into its activities dating back almost a decade paints a fascinating, if chilling, picture of a hacker collective that is mercenary, tenacious and motivated by what appears to be a mixture of political and financial objectives.

Their fingerprints are all over WannaCry.

So who, then, are they?

———

OPERATION BLOCKBUSTER

On Dec. 19, 2014, just one month after a devastating hack hobbled Sony Pictures Entertainment, the FBI’s field office in San Diego issued a press release stating North Korea was the culprit and saying such cyberattacks pose “one of the gravest national security dangers” to the United States.

“The destructive nature of this attack, coupled with its coercive nature, sets it apart,” the statement said. “North Korea’s actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves. Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior.”

The FBI listed similarities in specific lines of code, encryption algorithms, data deletion methods and compromised networks for its determination. It said there was a significant overlap between the infrastructure used in the attack and other cyberactivity it had previously linked directly to North Korea, including several internet protocol addresses hardcoded into the data deletion malware.

Its claim that North Korea was to blame has since been widely disputed.

In an attempt to analyze the Sony Hack, an industry consortium led by Novetta launched “Operation Blockbuster,” which in 2016 released the most detailed public report to date on the attack. Its findings lined up with the FBI’s conclusion that the tactics, tools and capabilities strongly indicated the work of a “structured, resourced and motivated organization,” but said its analysis could not support the direct attribution of a nation-state.

Instead, it determined the attack “was carried out by a single group, or potentially very closely linked groups, sharing technical resources, infrastructure and even tasking.”

It named the group Lazarus.

Operation Blockbuster traced the first inklings of Lazarus activity to 2009, or possibly to 2007, with large-scale denial of service attacks on U.S. and South Korean websites. That was followed by the “Operation Troy” cyberespionage campaign that lasted from 2009 to 2013; “Ten Days of Rain,” which used compromised computers for denial of service attacks on South Korean media and financial institutions and U.S. military facilities; and “DarkSeoul,” an attack on South Korean broadcasting companies and banks.

“This is a determined adversary with the resources to develop unique, mission-oriented malware tools,” the 100-page report concluded.

———

NORTH KOREAN HACKERS OR CYBER-MERCENARIES?

Researchers at cybersecurity giant Kaspersky Labs, which also participated in Operation Blockbuster, analyzed timestamps on accounts suspected of being linked to Lazarus to create a profile of its hackers.

They surmised the attackers are probably located in a time zone eight or nine hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time — which would include China, Malaysia and parts of Indonesia, among other places — because they seem to start working at around midnight GMT and break for lunch three hours later.

They even claimed the hackers get roughly 6-7 hours of sleep per night.

“This indicates a very hard-working team, possibly more hard working than any other Advanced Persistent Threat group we’ve analyzed,” it said. It also said the reference sample of suspected Lazarus activity indicated at least one resource in the Korean language on a majority of the computers being used.

“The group rapidly develops, mutates and evolves malware through the extensive use of a ‘malware factory,'” said James Scott, a senior fellow at the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, a Washington-based think tank. “Essentially, it is believed that they subcontract or outsource the rapid development of new malware and malware variants to numerous external threat actors.”

Scott said any connections between Lazarus and North Korea remain unclear, but four possibilities exist:

— Lazarus is affiliated with North Korea;

— it is an independent side operation of persons affiliated with North Korea;

— it is entirely independent of North Korea;

— it is a cyber-mercenary collective that occasionally works on behalf of North Korea.

“There is no conclusive evidence that Lazarus is state-sponsored,” Scott said, adding that it has instead “always exhibited the characteristics of a well-resourced and organized cybercriminal or cyber-mercenary collective.”

Jon Condra, director of Asia-Pacific research at the cybersecurity firm Flashpoint, cautiously noted the theory that at least some Lazarus Group hackers are likely working out of China and that they may include North Koreans. Flashpoint analyzed the WannaCry ransom notes posted in 28 languages and determined all but three were created using translation software — suggesting its authors include human members who are native in Chinese and fluent but not perfect in English.

“It is widely believed that at least some North Korean hacking units operate out of Northeastern China — the city of Shenyang, in particular — but hard evidence is scant,” he said. “It is entirely possible that the Lazarus Group is not entirely made up of North Korean actors, but may also have Chinese members.”

Even that, he added, is speculative: “We really do not have a clear picture of the composition of the Lazarus Group.”

———

AN EVER-MORPHING ADVERSARY

Kaspersky took another look into Lazarus after the attempted heist of $900 million from the central bank of Bangladesh in February last year. It found Lazarus is both accelerating its activities and morphing rapidly.

According to Kaspersky, the Lazarus Group now has its own cybercrime subgroup, dubbed BlueNoroff, to help finance its operations through attacks on banks, casinos, financial institutions and traders.

“The scale of Lazarus operations is shocking,” its report said. “It’s something that requires strict organization and control at all stages of the operation. … Such a process requires a lot of money to keep running the business.”

The disruptive and “asymmetric” nature of cyber warfare clearly makes it a weapon North Korea can be assumed to want to exploit against its much more powerful adversaries in a military conflict.

Cybercrime would also seem to be extremely attractive to North Korea.

It’s hard to trace, can be done on the cheap and, for those who can master the technological expertise, the opportunities seem to be everywhere. It would also seem to be a less risky means of procuring illicit income than other activities the North Korean regime has been accused of in the past, like drug trafficking and counterfeiting U.S. $100 bills.

Washington, Seoul and defectors from North Korea all claim the North is working hard to train an army of cyber warriors, mainly within its primary intelligence agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau. South Korea said North Korea’s cyber army consisted of 6,800 hackers in 2015.

But independent experts tend not to take such claims too literally.

Scott and Condra caution that much of what is reported about North Korea’s cyber army comes from defectors or rival governments with a spin motive and is amplified by partisan or attention-seeking media. Defectors’ insights are valuable, yes. But even if they’re not politically motivated, they are limited by the scope of their access and inside knowledge — and are usually significantly out of date.

———

STILL-MISSING LINKS

The U.S. government has not blamed WannaCry on North Korea.

“We know North Korea possesses the capability of doing this kind of thing but we are still assessing what the source is,” National Intelligence Director Dan Coats told a congressional hearing last week. Coats added, however, that cyberattacks are possibly “the most significant threat to the United States at this time.”

Pinning a cybercrime to a cybercriminal is a Sisyphean task. A known group might claim responsibility. It might use a traceable internet protocol address, or a unique code. Its methods and tools may reveal a pattern. Often, it will do all of the above and more in an attempt to lead investigators down a false path.

Determining the role of a nation-state can be even more difficult.

Some campaigns that have been attributed to the Lazarus Group suggest a lower-skilled adversary than one might expect from one with full state backing — a factor that Beau Woods, the deputy director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council, says is indicative of “a blurred line” between state and non-state actors.

“Many countries allow, or at least tolerate, non-state actors that are doing things that are ideologically aligned,” he said. “With North Korea, it appears to be the case that they rely very heavily on this kind of criminal element-amateurs-professionals. It’s a predominance of question marks.”

“The big lesson we learned from WannaCry, no matter who did it, is just how vulnerable, prone and exposed some of our critical pieces of infrastructure are,” he said. “When the stakes are so high, we owe it more diligence than what we have seen so far.”

 

Google is taking another shot at budget Android phones with Android Go

Google is attempting again to make a budget Android platform for developing markets with Android Go, a program that seems similar to Google’s Android One strategy, to create a version of Android for lower-powered devices.

Android Go will be focused around building a version of Android for phones with less memory, with the System UI and kernel able to run with as little as 512MB of memory. Apps will be optimized for low bandwidth and memory, with a version of Play Store designed for those markets that will highlight these apps. Google is also launching a new program called “Building for Billions” to help developers create these new optimized apps. We’ve already seen some of these efforts with Google’s YouTube Go beta, which launched earlier this year in India.

Android devices with less than 1GB of RAM will automatically get Android Go starting with Android O. Google is also committing to releasing an Android Go variant for all future Android versions going forward.

Announced at Google I/O in 2014, the Android One initiative was an interesting attempt from the company to win over what it calls “the next billion” — typically referring to non-smartphone users in developing countries. Android One phones tend to be low-cost devices with less powerful hardware than traditional flagship smartphones, with promises of regular OS updates keeping users on the latest version of Android — something that most major hardware companies struggle with.

While Android One hasn’t been the dramatic, world-changing success that Google hoped for when it was first announced, Android Go could still be an important area for the company. After all, more Android phones with owners who are using the latest Google services instead of relying on whatever preloaded skins and software comes with a device can only be a good thing for expanding Google’s influence.

Trump says China has turned back N. Korean coal ships, lauds it as ‘big step’

  • Trump praised China for refusing N. Korean coal this week, saying it was a “big step”
  • A spokesman for Chinese Customs said all coal imports were banned from February 18

Washington (CNN)US President Donald Trump says China has turned a fleet of coal-carrying cargo ships back to North Korea this week, describing it as a “big step” towards cracking down on the rogue state.

China banned all imports of coal from North Korea in mid-February, soon after Pyongyang tested a new intermediate-range missile.
Almost all coal shipments to the Chinese city of Dandong, on the North Korean border, since February have been turned back, a source with knowledge of North Korean government operations in Dandong told CNN.
The ban followed strict, new sanctions imposed in November by the United Nations on North Korean coal exports, which China helped to draft and pass
Coal accounted for a third of all official North Korean exports in 2015, making up a large part of their income. China is by far North Korea’s largest trading partner.
North Korea reacted furiously to China’s February ban, saying they were “dancing to the tune of the US” and describing the cutting of imports as “inhumane.”
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Chinese Customs spokesman Huang Songping confirmed that China stopped all North Korean coal imports after February 18.
Huang said that from January 1 until that cut-off date, China had imported 2.67 million tons of coal from North Korea, 51.6% less than the same quarter in 2016.
But despite the drop off in coal, the value of North Korea imports to China rose 18.4% in the first three months of 2017 compared to a year earlier.
He didn’t provide a breakdown of trade, leaving it unclear how the gap was made up.

Trump, Xi call ‘very productive’

Trump’s statement comes days after he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. The two then spoke on what the White House called a “very productive” phone call Tuesday night.

China cuts coal imports from North Korea

China cuts coal imports from North Korea 01:45
Trump praised reports of China turning away North Korean coal during a joint news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
“We have a very big problem in North Korea. And, as I said, I really think that China is going to try very hard, and has already started,” Trump said.
“A lot of the coal boats have already been turned back — you saw that yesterday and today — they’ve been turned back,” he said. “The vast amount of coal that comes out of North Korea going to China, they’ve turned back the boats. That’s a big step, and they have many other steps that I know about.”
When asked at a daily press briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said turning back coal ships from North Korea was part of China “strictly carrying out our international obligations.”
“This also isn’t something new — it’s been our consistent policy,” he said.

China proving it follows sanctions

The new measures are designed to appease international critics who have argued China doesn’t enforce UN sanctions against North Korea, CNN Beijing Correspondent Matt Rivers said.
“(It) gives them a clear rebuttal to the Trump administration’s argument that China isn’t doing its part,” he said. “That could lead to greater leverage in future negotiations on other issues like trade.”
But although China has shown some willingness to follow the US line, they would never push sanctions far enough to collapse Kim Jong Un’s regime.
“It fears a united Korea under South Korean leadership, which could lead to US troops on China’s border. A collapse could also lead to a refugee crisis,” Rivers said.
Trump also signaled a willingness for the US to play a more confrontational role with North Korea, adding: “So we’ll see what happens. It may be effective, it may not be effective. If it’s not effective, we will be effective, I can promise you that.”
Reuters, which first reported that the North Korean ships had turned back to their home port of Nampo, citing its Thomson Reuters Eikon financial information and analytics platform, also reported that China is increasing coal orders from the United States.
North Korea sanctions
  • China bans all coal imports from North Korea
  • Why China’s coal ban isn’t likely to stop North Korea’s weapons
  • No US coal was shipped to China between late 2014 and 2016, but 400,000 tons had been shipped there from the United States by late February, Reuters reported.
    At Wednesday’s news conference, Trump said Xi “wants to do the right thing.”
    “We had a very good bonding. I think we had a very good chemistry together. I think he wants to help us with North Korea,” Trump said.
    He also said the United States is willing to strike a trade deal with friendlier conditions for China if the country plays a role in deterring North Korea’s nuclear program.
    “I said, ‘The way you’re going to make a good trade deal is to help us with North Korea. Otherwise we’re just going to go it alone,'” Trump said. “That’ll be all right too — but going it alone means going with lots of other nations.”

    Google’s AI will take on the world’s top Go player next month

    19-year-old Ke Jie takes on AlphaGo in a best of three matches in May

     

    It’s been a busy year for Google Deepmind. You might remember AlphaGo resoundingly beating Go grandmaster Lee Sedol by four games to one and secretly schooling some of the world’s best Go players online, but the team has also found time to help Britain’s national health service treat patients and arm its computer with new tricks to help it learn faster and “remember” previous knowledge.

    AlphaGo can now justifiably be considered one of the world’s best Go players, but the Deepmind team can’t make a bonafide claim until its AI has beaten the world number one: 19-year-old Chinese player Ke Jie. Deepmind co-founder and CEO Demis Hassabis has now confirmed that after months of speculation, the match is on.

     

     

     

    At the Future of Go Summit between May 23rd to May 27th, Google and the China Go Association (with help from the Chinese government) will bring together AlphaGo and some of the world’s best Go players and AI experts to “explore the mysteries” of the ancient board game.

    There will be a variety of games on offer including Pair Go, where Chinese professionals will face off against each other but alternate moves with an AlphaGo teammate. The Team Go match, on the other hand, will see AlphaGo battle a five-player team of Chinese pros in a bid to test “creativity and adaptability.” Ke Jie vs AlphaGo will, of course, be the main focus. It’ll be a best of three match that Deepmind hopes will push AlphaGo to its absolute limit.

    The event makes for an interesting spectacle, especially considering Ke once said he didn’t want to sit down with AlphaGo because it would learn his playing style. However, when Deepmind convincingly beat Lee Sedol, the 9th dan professional quickly changed his tune.

    “Instead of diminishing the game, as some feared, artificial intelligence (A.I.) has actually made human players stronger and more creative,” said Hassabis. “It’s humbling to see how pros and amateurs alike, who have pored over every detail of AlphaGo’s innovative game play, have actually learned new knowledge and strategies about perhaps the most studied and contemplated game in history.”

    HUD Releases $1.6 Billion in Flood Recovery Funds

    April 10, 2017

    Baton Rouge – Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officially released the $1.6 billion in flood recovery funds appropriated in 2016. In an email to the Office of Community Development, HUD indicated that the state can immediately begin to withdraw funds for flood recovery. The state will immediately begin to use the funds to conduct environmental reviews based on survey responses that began from flood victims. As of today, more than 4,200 homeowners had completed the survey.

    The process for drawing down the flood recovery funds is long and sometimes overly burdensome,” said Gov. Edwards. “While it is often frustrating that we can’t get assistance to homeowners quicker, we are able to immediately move forward with our recovery plans. The fact that these funds were secured at such a record pace is a testament to what we can accomplish when we all – the Louisiana congressional delegation and myself – work together for the people of our state. I look forward to continuing that effort as we seek an additional $2 billion to provide assistance to even more homeowners across the state.”

    In October, Gov. Edwards requested that HUD work with the state to reduce or eliminate the need for costly individual environmental reviews on single family homes eligible for federal repair grants – a request that could save Louisiana more than $105 million dollars in disaster assistance and expedite the rebuilding process for homeowners. While that waiver has not been granted, and until legislation is proposed to solve this problem, the state will immediately begin conducting these reviews.

    Why Kansas Matters Nationally.

    (CNN)On its face, a special House election in Kansas should be a walkover for Republicans.

    Kansas Republicans control both U.S. Senate seats, all four House districts and the governor’s mansion and have massive majorities in the state House and Senate. It’s one of the most conservative states in the country and has been for a very long time. (The last time a Democrat represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate was 1938!)
    And yet today’s special election in Kansas’ 4th district — where Donald Trump won by 27 points last November — is causing Republicans real concern. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz campaigned on behalf of Republican nominee Ron Estes on Monday and both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have recorded phone messages urging Republicans to turn out and vote. And the House Republican campaign committee dropped $100,000 on TV ads in the district late last week.
    Why the concern? A few reasons.
    1) This is a special election. It’s April of the year after a presidential election. Turnout is virtually certain to be extremely low, meaning that if one side is more able to get their base out, it could swing the election. “These are first specials of 2017-2018 with a volatile electorate and motivated opposition, [and] we gotta make sure our bases are covered,” one Republican strategist closely watching the race told me.
    2) The Democratic base is very motivated right now. The election of Trump and his subsequent actions — from the travel ban to the attempted overhaul of healthcare — has energized liberal Democrats beyond belief. They will turn out to vote today — no matter what. Meanwhile, the Republican base is less excited, the by-product of winning everything last fall. That’s why conservative stars like Cruz and Pence are all over the district in the final days of the race; they are desperately trying to gin up GOP excitement and turnout.
    3) Sam Brownback. The outgoing Republican governor — he’s term limited out of office in 2018 — is very, very unpopular in the state. Brownback’s signature tax reform measures are being rejected even by many Republicans in the state and his six-year attempt at a grand conservative experiment has tarnished the party’s brand in the state. Estes, who is the sitting state Treasurer, is struggling to distance himself from Brownback. (Democratic nominee James Thompson has taken to referring to Estes as “Brownbacker Ron Estes.)
    4) Trump. Yes, the President carried this Wichita-based seat by nearly 30 points in November. But, this is the first chance any voters in the country have to offer their say at the ballot box since Trump won. If voters — even Republican voters — want to send a message to the boss in Washington that what he’s doing isn’t exactly what they want him to be doing, this is their first chance.
    The race was clearly moving in Democrats’ favor over its final days. Noted nonpartisan political handicapping site The Cook Political Report moved the race from “Solid Republican” to “Lean Republican on Monday. “Republicans familiar with recent polling describe extremely high Democratic intensity and very low GOP enthusiasm in what is likely to be a very low turnout special,” wrote Cook House analyst David Wasserman.
    A loss here would be a huge problem for Republicans — especially considering that they appear to be no better than an even-money bet to hold Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s now-vacant seat in another special election next Tuesday in Georgia’s 6th district.
    Even a narrow defeat for Democrats in Kansas would likely rev up the party base — and its small-dollar (and big dollar) donors — in the stretch run in Georgia.
    What national Republicans are hoping their spending and attention over the last week will yield is a clear victory for Estes that will tamp down any sort of momentum Democrats are hoping to build heading into Georgia. Democrats, on the other hand, see the Kansas special election as a launching pad for the more winnable seat in Georgia in seven days time.
    In short: Kansas, somewhat remarkably, matters to the national political picture.

    Russian arrested in Spain for allegedly hacking US election

    Reports suggest the arrest may have been carried out on an international warrant issued by the US government.

    gettyimages-633192986.jpg

    The US is pointing fingers at Russia in connection with hacking the presidential election that put Donald Trump in office.

     

    Spanish police arrested a Russian citizen on Friday for allegedly playing a part in hacking the US presidential election last year.

    The Russian embassy in Madrid on Sunday confirmed to Reuters the arrest of computer programmer Pyotr Levashov, who has been remanded in custody, although it did not say on what grounds.

    Russian television station RT said that Levashov was subject to an international arrest warrant issued by the US government, while a “legal source” told AFP that he was subject to a US extradition order.

    Suspicions have floated for months that Russia attempted to sway the 2016 presidential race. In January, US intelligence and security agencies said in a declassified report that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered hacking attacks and propaganda campaigns in the run-up to the November election. The breaches included hacking of emails from the Democratic National Committee, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, John Podesta.

    The FBI confirmed last month that it was investigating claims that Russian hackers had links to President Donald Trump‘s election team.

    Meanwhile, both houses of the US Congress are conducting their own investigations into potential influence peddling by Russia.

    Security blogger Brian Krebs identified Levashov as an alleged spam king and distributor of malware.

    The US Department of Justice and the Russian Embassy in Madrid did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

    Internet inventor: Make tech accessibility better already

    Vint Cerf

    Both Vint Cerf, known as a “father of the Internet,” and his wife have hearing disabilities.

     

    This is part of CNET’s “Tech Enabled” series about the role technology plays in helping the disability community.

    Vint Cerf is often called the “father of the internet.” Consider him a pretty stern papa.

    Cerf, who is hearing-impaired, played an integral part in the invention of some of the most crucial technologies of the last half century, including the internet and email. But as quickly as he’ll extol how tech can advance society, he won’t mince words about its track record accommodating people with disabilities.

    Accessibility shouldn’t be a “pixie dust” designers sprinkle on as an afterthought, he said.

    “It’s a crime that the most versatile device on the planet, the computer, has not adapted well to people who need help, who need assistive technology,” he said in an interview last month. “It’s almost criminal that programmers have not had their feet held to the fire to build interfaces that are accommodating for people with vision problems or hearing problems or motor problems.”

    Cerf is best known as one of the designers of the architecture for the internet in the early 1970s, helping to shape the rules that dictate where internet traffic goes and, about a decade later, helping to deliver the first commercial email system. Today he is Google‘s “chief internet evangelist” and contributes to the People Centered Internet, a group he cofounded to advance connectivity worldwide. His own disability, and the disabilities of people close to him, shaped his approach to tech, he said.

    Email, for one, brought Cerf more than the typical benefit of posting and interacting on your own timeline.

    “Because I’m hearing-impaired, emails are a tremendously valuable tool because of the precision that you get,” he said, sitting on a hotel couch in his trademark three-piece suit before a SXSW keynote organized by engineering trade organization IEEE. (On this occasion it was grey pinstripe with a blue shirt.) “I can read what’s typed as opposed to straining to hear what’s being said.”

    He’s not alone in needing an assist from technology. About 360 million people worldwide have a hearing disability, roughly 5 percent of all the people on Earth, according to the World Health Organization. Then factor in those with vision, motor or other impairments. In the US alone, more than one in three households has a member who identifies as having a disability, according to panel research by Nielsen last year.

    President George W. Bush presented Cerf with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civil award, in 2005.Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

    Email and the internet were also crucial to his wife’s adaptation to her own disability, even though Cerf teases her for being uninterested in email for more than two decades after he began playing with network mail in the early ’70s.

    Sigrid Cerf, who became deaf as a 3-year-old because of spinal meningitis, finally took the plunge onto the net in the mid ’90s to learn about cochlear implants: surgically embedded devices that bypass the ear and send the brain signals it interprets as sound.

    She learned about the technology — and the doctors specializing in it at Johns Hopkins Hospital — by surfing the web. “She couldn’t get anybody’s attention at Johns Hopkins until somebody in Israel put her in touch by an email exchange,” he said. Even as an inventor of the internet, Cerf said he was amazed by the role email and the net played in so fundamentally changing his wife’s relationship with her disability.

    Cerf’s awareness of disability also sharpens his criticism of tech’s shortcomings.

    “It can’t be a pixie dust that you sprinkle on top of the program and suddenly make it accessible, which is the behavior pattern in the past,” he said. Accessibility should be a design choice that is rewarded, “something a lot of companies have not stepped up to,” he added.

    But he believes awareness among engineers and designers is improving. For people with hearing impairments, speech-to-text products are growing more sophisticated, like automatic closed captioning on YouTube. Voice-command technologies, like those in Amazon’s Alexa, Apple‘s Siri and Google Assistant, are more commonplace. And most recently, neural networks — a programming technique based loosely on how the human brain learns — are advancing speech synthesis, to make it more natural for people with vision or physical disabilities to interact with technology.

    Perhaps most encouraging, he said, is a growing recognition in the tech community that accessibility is important.

    “We need to build in these things from the beginning,” he said. “That’s very powerful stuff.”

    HOW THE USA-PATRIOT ACT EXPANDS LAW ENFORCEMENT “SNEAK AND PEEK” WARRANT

    I was wondering since congress recently passed a law stripping away privacy laws on the internet how this would affect information from a legal viewpoint and abuses of power could or eventually would erode our civil liberties so here is the ACLU’s article on the patriot act.

    Kansas City Announces Veterans Id as Bus Pass Program

     

    Monday March 20th marks a life-changing day for Kansas City area Veterans without consistent transportation.

    Three months ago a Marine Corps veteran noticed an opportunity to aid struggling veterans working to improve their lives. Many of those who served, lacked dependable transportation. Mandatory appointments require veterans to be present, even when meeting/appointments are miles apart. This was a more difficult challenge for our veterans with disabilities. The V.A. compensates veterans only after the appointment, and bus passes require special permission and extra time to acquire.

    A program was presented that allows veterans to use their veterans ID’s as bus passes. The idea was handed over to The Veterans admiration division. They completed the initiative, which will be announced this Monday March 20th at 10:00 am at the World War I Veterans Memorial, located at 2 Memorial Drive, Kansas City MO 64108.

    The hope is this program will spread nationwide. The mayor of Monroe Louisiana has already been contacted about helping our veterans. Calls are scheduled with New York , Atlanta, Chicago, Miami and Los Angles in the forthcoming months. This is a universal win and blessing for all Veterans.

    For more information about bringing this program to your city contact: editor@thepagenews.com

    #KCATA #VeteransAdministration #Vets #ThePageNews #Memorial #DisabledVet# Congress # Mayor #Military #Congressman # Universal #Terrell #Page# 1# Bus #Help# $1# 411# Guild#Free #Pass # Buspass #1unitedstates #Unitedstates # Tpn# T# P# N# News# Kansascity# Sly# Missouri # Cleaver# James# World# War# 1# The# Newyork# Miami# Chicago# Losangles# Atlanta# God# Blessing# Hope# Go# Stop# Jobs# Medical# President# Top#

    Here and Now!

    The Time for growth maturity and change is here and now! Let there be peace, from the tops of the mountains to the deepest valley let it stretch to the inner city as a calming breeze. Let every man, woman and child experience the awesome power of unity defeating bias, prejudice and petty jealousy and anger. Let there be peace with a purpose a clear intent to build each other up so we as a people can rise together as a team not fight like children. Let there be humility, peace, honor and amongst those that serve the people for service is a privilege not a right the politicians and rule makers, judges ,decision makers put yourself in the shoes of those who work for the least make rules that apply to those with the least for they cannot protect themselves they depend on you for guidance and protection .To countries and nations and people who desire to work with us in a peaceful, honest and honorable manner so be it. Set aside differences for a greater good be better for tomorrow’s generation and for our nation. Be that “one nation under God Indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

    Strawberries remain at top of pesticide list, report says.

     

    • Every year, the Environmental Working Group publishes its <a href="http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php" target="_blank">Dirty Dozen</a> list, naming the fruits and vegetables that rank highest in pesticide residue. This year, strawberries remained at the top of the list; a single sample of strawberries showed 20 pesticides.The Environmental Working Group released its annual “Dirty Dozen” list
    • Spinach had the second highest concentration of pesticide residue, up from eighth
    • Pears and potatoes joined the list; cherry tomatoes and cucumbers are no longer on it

    (CNN)An annual report by the Environmental Working Group found that nearly 70% of samples of 48 types of conventionally grown produce were contaminated with pesticide residues. That’s down 6.6 percentage points from last year.

    The EWG Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, released Wednesday, ranks pesticide contamination of popular fruits and vegetables based on more than 36,000 samples of produce tested by the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.
    This year, strawberries remained at the top of the list of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides, while sweet corn and avocados were ranked as having the lowest concentration.

    What are pesticides?

    Pesticides are widely used in producing food to control pests such as insects, rodents, weeds, bacteria, mold and fungus. In addition to their uses in agriculture, pesticides are used to protect public health by controlling organisms that carry tropical diseases, such as mosquitoes.
    Pesticides are potentially toxic to humans, according to the World Health Organization. They may have negative effects on reproduction, immune or nervous systems, cause cancer and lead to other problems.
    Pesticide residue can remain on fruits and vegetables even after they are washed and, in some cases, peeled, according to the report.
    However, a report by the USDA in 2014 found that “overall pesticide chemical residues on foods tested were at levels below the tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency” and were not a safety concern to consumers.

    The Dirty Dozen

    Produce that tested positive for various pesticides and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce is featured on the list, known as the “Dirty Dozen.”
    Starting with the highest amounts of pesticide residue, the list features strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and potatoes.
    Strawberries remained at the top of the list with at least 20 pesticides, while spinach jumped into the second spot with twice as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.
    Americans eat nearly 8 pounds of fresh strawberries per person each year, and even when they are rinsed in the field and washed before eating, they are still most likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue, according to the Environmental Working Group.
    In 2016, spinach was ranked eighth, but the latest numbers from the USDA showed a sharp increase in pesticide residues on non-organic spinach since the crop was last tested eight years ago.
    The pesticides responsible for the residues included three fungicides and one insecticide called permethrin, which has been linked to tremors and seizures in the nervous systems of animals and insects.
    The newest additions to the list were pears and potatoes, which replaced cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from last year.

    The Clean Fifteen

    Produce that had relatively fewer pesticides and lower total concentrations of pesticide residues was placed on the group’s “Clean Fifteen” list.
    This list included, in order, sweet corn (including corn on the cob and frozen corn), avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papaya, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.
    Only 1% of samples showed any detectable pesticides in avocados and sweet corn, which were deemed the cleanest produce.
    More than 80% of pineapples, papaya, asparagus, onions and cabbage that were sampled showed no pesticide residue.

    Methodology

    The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy group, analyzed more than 36,000 samples taken by personnel at the USDA and the FDA who mimicked consumer practices by first washing or peeling the produce.
    To compare the fruits and vegetables, the group came up with a composite score for each type of produce based on six measures of contamination. Some of the measures include the percent of the sample tested with detectable pesticides and the average number of pesticides found on a single sample.

    Shopping smart

    Nutrition experts support the findings and even use the list to make recommendations to their own patients.
    Join the conversation

    See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

    “I believe that this is an important source of information,” said Corinne Bush, a clinical nutritionist who was not part of the research.
    Bush warns that some pesticides that do not exceed thresholds established by the EPA can stil lbe very harmful, since low-level exposure over time can have extremely damaging effects.
    The Environmental Working Group recommends buying organic produce whenever possible to reduce exposure to pesticides.
    “If you don’t want to feed your family food contaminated with pesticides, the EWG Shopper’s Guide helps you make smart choices, whether you’re buying conventional or organic produce,” Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the group, said in a news release.
    “Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential no matter how they’re grown, but for the items with the heaviest pesticide loads, we urge shoppers to buy organic. If you can’t buy organic, the Shopper’s Guide will steer you to conventionally grown produce that is the lowest in pesticides.
    en_USEnglish