Weaponizing sound: Could sonic devices have injured diplomats in Cuba?

Another story of the mystery Cuban sonic weapon. This story focuses more on the auditory effects but neglects the apparent concussions that also seems to be a symptom.

A mysterious illness has been striking people associated with the US Embassy in Cuba — and a secret sonic weapon is rumored to be the source. Over the past year, diplomats in Cuba have experienced an unusual collection of symptoms that range from hearing loss, vertigo, and nausea to concussions, CBS News reported.Yesterday, the mystery grew even more complex when the Associated Press reported that the number of US victims has climbed to 21 people. Canadian diplomatic households were affected as well, the AP says. The Cuban government has denied involvement, and no “piece of equipment” that might be causing the symptoms has been discovered yet, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters.

Source: Weaponizing sound: Could sonic devices have injured diplomats in Cuba?

Facebook handed Russia-linked ads over to Mueller under search warrant – Sep. 15, 2017

Remember the 2012 election when I was tracking all the fake Facebook likes for Mitt Romney? Could this have also been an effort by Russia to influence the American Election by manipulating Facebook?

Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team are now in possession of Russian-linked ads run on Facebook during the presidential election, after they obtained a search warrant for the information.

Facebook gave Mueller and his team copies of ads and related information it discovered on its site linked to a Russian troll farm, as well as detailed information about the accounts that bought the ads and the way the ads were targeted at American Facebook users, a source with knowledge of the matter told CNN.

The disclosure, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, may give Mueller’s office a fuller picture of who was behind the ad buys and how the ads may have influenced voter sentiment during the 2016 election.

Source: Facebook handed Russia-linked ads over to Mueller under search warrant – Sep. 15, 2017

Cuba mystery grows: New details on what befell US diplomats

Quite a mystery.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The blaring, grinding noise jolted the American diplomat from his bed in a Havana hotel. He moved just a few feet, and there was silence. He climbed back into bed. Inexplicably, the agonizing sound hit him again. It was as if he’d walked through some invisible wall cutting straight through his room.

Soon came the hearing loss, and the speech problems, symptoms both similar and altogether different from others among at least 21 U.S. victims in an astonishing international mystery still unfolding in Cuba. The top U.S. diplomat has called them “health attacks.” New details learned by The Associated Press indicate at least some of the incidents were confined to specific rooms or even parts of rooms with laser-like specificity, baffling U.S. officials who say the facts and the physics don’t add up.

“None of this has a reasonable explanation,” said Fulton Armstrong, a former CIA official who served in Havana long before America re-opened an embassy there. “It’s just mystery after mystery after mystery.”

Source: Cuba mystery grows: New details on what befell US diplomats

Hacking. Still relevant after 164 years.

Rudimentary Treatise on the Construction of Door Locks for Commercial and Domestic Purposes


A book from 1853 seems like an unlikely place to find wisdom about the need for hacking culture, yet these words are still true today. An excerpt from “Rudimentary Treatise on the Construction of Locks” by Charles Tomlinson:

A commercial, and in some respects a social, doubt has been started within the last year or two, whether or not it is right to discuss so openly the security or insecurity of locks. Many well-meaning persons suppose that the discussion respecting the means for baffling the supposed safety of locks offers a premium for dishonesty, by showing others how to be dishonest. This is a fallacy. Rogues are very keen in their profession, and already know much more than we can teach them respecting their several kinds of roguery. Rogues knew a good deal about lockpicking long before locksmiths discussed it among themselves, as they have lately done. If a lock — let it have been made in whatever country, or by whatever maker — is not so inviolable as it has hitherto been deemed to be, surely it is in the interest of honest persons to know this fact, because the dishonest are tolerably certain to be the first to apply the knowledge practically; and the spread of knowledge is necessary to give fair play to those who might suffer by ignorance. It cannot be too earnestly urged, that an acquintance with real facts will, in the end, be better for all parties.
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Read the Full Text of Bill Browder’s Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee – The Atlantic

Bill Browder explains how Putin became the biggest crook in the world.

For a time, this naming and shaming campaign worked remarkably well and led to less corruption and increased share prices in the companies we invested in. Why? Because President Vladimir Putin and I shared the same set of enemies. When Putin was first elected in 2000, he found that the oligarchs had misappropriated much of the president’s power as well. They stole power from him while stealing money from my investors. In Russia, your enemy’s enemy is your friend, and even though I’ve never met Putin, he would often step into my battles with the oligarchs and crack down on them.

That all changed in July 2003, when Putin arrested Russia’s biggest oligarch and richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Putin grabbed Khodorkovsky off his private jet, took him back to Moscow, put him on trial, and allowed television cameras to film Khodorkovsky sitting in a cage right in the middle of the courtroom. That image was extremely powerful, because none of the other oligarchs wanted to be in the same position. After Khodorkovsky’s conviction, the other oligarchs went to Putin and asked him what they needed to do to avoid sitting in the same cage as Khodorkovsky. From what followed, it appeared that Putin’s answer was, “Fifty percent.” He wasn’t saying 50 percent for the Russian government or the presidential administration of Russia, but 50 percent for Vladimir Putin personally. From that moment on, Putin became the biggest oligarch in Russia and the richest man in the world, and my anti-corruption activities would no longer be tolerated.

Source: Read the Full Text of Bill Browder’s Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee – The Atlantic

Trump’s Russian Laundromat | New Republic

This story and the links in it offer a very detailed look at Trump’s troubling connections to Russian organized crime.

In 1984, a Russian émigré named David Bogatin went shopping for apartments in New York City. The 38-year-old had arrived in America seven years before, with just $3 in his pocket. But for a former pilot in the Soviet Army—his specialty had been shooting down Americans over North Vietnam—he had clearly done quite well for himself. Bogatin wasn’t hunting for a place in Brighton Beach, the Brooklyn enclave known as “Little Odessa” for its large population of immigrants from the Soviet Union. Instead, he was fixated on the glitziest apartment building on Fifth Avenue, a gaudy, 58-story edifice with gold-plated fixtures and a pink-marble atrium: Trump Tower.

A monument to celebrity and conspicuous consumption, the tower was home to the likes of Johnny Carson, Steven Spielberg, and Sophia Loren. Its brash, 38-year-old developer was something of a tabloid celebrity himself. Donald Trump was just coming into his own as a serious player in Manhattan real estate, and Trump Tower was the crown jewel of his growing empire. From the day it opened, the building was a hit—all but a few dozen of its 263 units had sold in the first few months. But Bogatin wasn’t deterred by the limited availability or the sky-high prices. The Russian plunked down $6 million to buy not one or two, but five luxury condos.

Source: Trump’s Russian Laundromat | New Republic

At the Crossroads

Dark money headquarters


I couldn’t end another visit to Warrenton without visiting the belly of the beast. On the first floor of this nondescript office building, tucked behind a small bank on a quiet Warrenton street, is the law firm of Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky. This is where billionaires go to buy elections. Hundreds of millions of dollars in dark money have passed through these doors on their way to skewing elections towards conservative candidates across the nation.

Forty-Five N. Hill Drive is the legal address of Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS PAC, American Crossroads, and several other right-leaning advocacy groups. Crossroads GPS, if you’ll recall, contributed nearly 99 percent of the funding to Dallas Woodhouse’s CarolinaRising group, which in turn spent 97 percent of its money to get Thom Tillis elected to the Senate. This appears to play fast and loose with IRS and election laws though as of yet regulators have taken no action. HVJT was also instrumental in filing voter challenges during McCrory’s failed reelection attempt. Several voters falsely accused of fraud have filed suit against a McCrory campaign official.

I plan to learn more about HVJT and the ways of bleeding edge campaign finance and law because what’s being done here undermines democracy.