Bot sends email with U.S. News links. Wut?

I got this unsolicited email two days ago from someone purportedly from U.S. News and World Report, asking if I would post some links to their site. The links provided appear to be legit and the message headers do, too. The one thing that looks out of place is the date of the domain registration for usnewsmoney.com, which is a recent May 2017.

The link the email goes to a post of a Mitt Romney story in Rolling Stone to which I added exactly zero of my own commentary. Hardly anything that would “really stand out!” So, it appears a keyword search found the word debt in my post (or title) and that’s why this post was chosen.

Ashley McNamara does not appear in other Internet searches, nor on LinkedIn as far as I can tell. Oh, and there was never any “email sent a few weeks ago.” There never is.

I checked my webserver logs back to the start of the month and the only thing that’s touched that link since Christmas are bots: mostly Google, but ones called Semrush (www.semrush.com), BLEXbot (webmeup-crawler.com), CommonCrawl (commoncrawl.org), and AwarioRssBot (awario.com), too.

Guessing this email came from a bot of some sort but I’m not sure of the endgame. What do y’all think? What’s the hustle here?

Hi Mark,

I wanted to follow up with you about an email I had sent a few weeks ago, did you get a chance to review it? It’s attached below just in case you needed it again. Let me know if you have any questions!
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Russian agents pollute social media

A few weeks ago, I shared my long-held skepticism about the effectiveness of influenza vaccines and was pleased to see a friend chime in in agreement. My skepticism of flu shots is based on science – that the effectiveness of the mass-produced vaccine is abysmal and has been for years. My friend’s skepticism is based on something less reliable, it seems, because she shared a post from the dubious news site, YourNewsWire.com. It quotes an unnamed CDC doctor:

A CDC doctor has warned this year’s “disastrous” flu shot may be responsible for the deadly flu epidemic sweeping the country.

“Some of the patients I’ve administered the flu shot to this year have died,” the doctor said, adding “I don’t care who you are, this scares the crap out of me.”

“We have seen people dying across the country of the flu, and one thing nearly all of them have in common is they got the flu shot.”

Scientists were worried this year’s flu season was going to be rough and their fears have been proven well founded. The flu season is off to a record-breaking start, with the CDC reporting widespread flu activity from coast to coast. Many health officials believe that 2018 will ultimately be the worst flu outbreak that we have experienced since 1918.

The CDC doctor’s experience of patients dying of the flu after receiving the flu shot is sadly not uncommon. Eight Santa Barbara County residents have died from the flu in the last fortnight. Seven of them had the flu shot.

This seemed like a pretty radical claim, so I searched the Internet for it and … nothing. The unnamed doctor obviously does not exist. YourNewsWire is the place Russian trolls work to perfect their craft.
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Amazon won’t say if it hands your Echo data to the government | ZDNet

Amazon has a transparency problem.Three years ago, the retail giant became the last major tech company to reveal how many subpoenas, search warrants, and court orders it received for customer data in a half-year period. While every other tech giant had regularly published its government request figures for years, spurred on by accusations of participation in government surveillance, Amazon had been largely forgotten.

Eventually, people noticed and Amazon acquiesced. Since then, Amazon’s business has expanded. By its quarterly revenue, it’s no longer a retail company — it’s a cloud giant and a device maker. The company’s flagship Echo, an “always listening” speaker, collects vast amounts of customer data that’s openly up for grabs by the government.

But Amazon’s bi-annual transparency figures don’t want you to know that.

Source: Amazon won’t say if it hands your Echo data to the government | ZDNet

The Space Review: A NEMESIS in the sky: PAN, MENTOR 4, and close encounters of the SIGINT kind

PAN/NEMESIS satellite

Here’s an interesting story from 2016 about spy satellites. Amateur satellite spotters determined that the “PAN” satellite of the U.S. Government were tiptoeing up next to geostationary commercial communications satellites so they could vacuum up the signals being relayed through them. Speculation is that PAN was able to triangulate the position of satellite phones used by terrorists, enabling drone strikes.

This would make a fun new hobby.

After launch, the enigma became even bigger. PAN was placed in a geostationary orbit and observations by amateur satellite trackers (including this author) from Europe and South Africa revealed very unusual behavior. Every few months—usually once every six months—PAN moved to a new position. In a mere four years time, it moved at least nine times to various longitudes scattering between 33 and 52.5 degrees east (see my blog post “Imaging Geostationary satellites, and PAN’s past relocations”). This costs fuel, and it is something you normally do not do with a geostationary satellite, as liberally spending fuel drastically shortens the satellite’s operational lifetime. In late 2013, the relocations suddenly stopped and PAN has remained at longitude 47.7 degrees east. This active stationkeeping at this longitude means it must still be operational, although the satellite obviously has ended its previous roving state. All very mysterious! What was this spacecraft doing?

Source: The Space Review: A NEMESIS in the sky: PAN, MENTOR 4, and close encounters of the SIGINT kind

Tom Dundon, king of subprime auto loans

Tom Dundon

The local paper is singing the praises of the new owner of the Carolina Hurricanes, Tom Dundon. WRAL Sports Fan The News and Observer’s Luke DeCock and Chip Alexander lauded the “self-made billionaire” in an adoring story today:

Dundon, 46, has no background in professional sports but knows how to operate a successful business and already has analyzed much of the Hurricanes’ organization and operation. He also likes to win.

Let’s talk about this “self-made billionaire” who “knows how to operate a successful business.” Dundon’s successful business was Santander Consumer Holdings USA, the subprime auto lending arm of the Spanish bank, Santander. Dundon founded the business and ran it until July 2015, when he stepped down just as the regulatory heat was being turned up on Santander. Santander Consumer is in the subprime auto loan business, making what some say is 1 out of every 5 loans. For those of you who didn’t see the film The Big Short or slept through the 2008 recession, America’s economy was nearly ruined by the kind of loans lenders like Santander made.
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Got Robocalled? Don’t Get Mad; Get Busy. — Krebs on Security

Several times a week my cell phone receives the telephonic equivalent of spam: A robocall. On each occasion the call seems to come from a local number, but when I answer there is that telltale pause followed by an automated voice pitching some product or service. So when I heard from a reader who chose to hang on the line and see where one of these robocalls led him, I decided to dig deeper. This is the story of that investigation. Hopefully, it will inspire readers to do their own digging and help bury this annoying and intrusive practice.

Source: Got Robocalled? Don’t Get Mad; Get Busy. — Krebs on Security

Burglars enter her home. Cops take an hour to get there.

Imagine being on your own with these guys for almost an hour

Yesterday evening one of my neighbors found herself in a terrifying situation. Three would-be burglars had targeted her home and two of them had just quietly entered through her back door – while she was home! If her very large dogs hadn’t alerted her and scared them off she could’ve found herself face to face with these young men.

She did what any panicked homeowner would do – she called 911 and waited for help to arrive.

And she waited. And waited. And waited.

Two strangers had just entered her home while she was inside and the first Raleigh police officer did not arrive until a full fifty minutes later. By that time the intruders trail had gone cold, too cold for the K9 unit to track them. Officers were apologetic, telling her the department is understaffed.

My neighbor said later that the dispatcher misclassified the break-in as a “Level 2” incident, meaning the officers didn’t even get dispatched until 20 minutes after the incident. Even so, if it takes 30 minutes to round up enough officers to respond to a B&E that is far too long.

No one should have to wait this long for assistance in a life-threatening emergency. This is completely unacceptable. If the Raleigh Police Department is this understaffed then the City of Raleigh needs to get this fixed.

I know the Council recently approved raises for our first responders. Has that boosted recruitment? Why or why not? What else can the city do to ensure the safety of its citizens?

I can’t imagine what I would’ve done had this happened to me. The City of Raleigh needs to do whatever it takes to get more officers in the Raleigh Police Department and to keep happy the ones who are there now. What we have now puts everyone’s safety at risk.

Neighbors will be asking the Raleigh City Council next month to allocate more resources towards our police.