Thursday, May 25, 2017

Top Hacker Conference to Target Voting Machines


Hackers will target American Voting Machines as a Public Service, to prove how Vulnerable they are. When over 25,000 of them descend on Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, July 27-30 2017, for DEFCON 2017, the World’s Largest Hacking Conference, organizers are planning to have waiting what they call “a Village” of different opportunities to Test how easily Voting Machines can be Manipulated.

Some will let people go after the Network Software remotely, some will be broken apart to let people Dig into the Hardware, and some will be set up to see how a prepared Hacker could fiddle with Individual Machines on Site in a Polling Place through a combination of Physical and Virtual Attacks.

With all the attention on Russia’s apparent Attempts to Meddle in American Elections, former President Obama and Aides have made many accusations toward Moscow, but insisted that there’s no evidence of actual Vote Tampering of Voting Machines were an obvious next target, said DEFCON Founder Jeff Moss. Imagine, he said, what a concerted effort out of Russia or anywhere else could do. “That’s the point: we’re only going to play with them for a couple of days, but bad guys can play with them for weeks or years,” Moss said. Moss, also known as Dark Tangent, is a former Member of Obama’s Homeland Security Advisory Council. He said he’s concerned that no one has proven where the Soft Spots are, and the Combination of Non-Disclosure Agreements and Private Contracts have allowed misinformation to take root. “Pretty much, just like everything else, it’s time for hackers to come in and tell you what’s possible and what’s not,” Moss said.

Moss and other Organizers are at the Early Stages of Planning, Locating used Voting Machines on eBay and elsewhere, and they’re already anticipating the Excuses that any success they have Hacking will be Dismissed by the Companies as not being up to date with their Systems.

“Election machines used in USA really do not have security standards - the voluntary voting system standard addresses air humidity and shock resistance, but not security. This means that the old systems which were designed with no security consciousness are not being replaced with responsibly designed successors,” said Harri Hursti, a Finnish Computer Programmer who has worked on Election-related issues in Finland, the United Kingdom, Estonia, Argentina, and the United States. “Also, vendors are frequently blatantly mispresenting the specifications and the properties of the equipment they sell to the jurisdictions.”

Jake Braun, a White House Liaison to the Department of Homeland Security under Obama, and currently a Cybersecurity Lecturer at the University of Chicago and CEO of Cambridge Global, said he’s hoping the Event helps produce a Report for DHS and Congress about the problems. “Up until now, the voting machines companies keep telling us everything is totally secure, when everyone in cybersecurity knows there’s nothing that’s totally secure, it’s all just a matter of risk mitigation,” Braun said. “It’ll be good to get some independent folks who don’t have an ax to grind one way or the other.” He laughs at the Voting Machine Companies which insist there’s nothing to worry about. “That answer in and of itself shows a total lack of sophistication in cyber security,” Braun said. "Anybody who says they’re un-hackable just doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”

Moss said he’d be happy to have the Voting Machine Companies be Actively involved, bring their latest Voting Machines, and help learn from the Event. “You’re getting something that would be hard to pay for – why not embrace it?” he said. He doesn’t expect the notoriously Secretive Companies will take him up on the offer. “I think,” he said, “they’re going to freak out.”

CLICK HERE for more information about DEFCON 2017.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
Digg! StumbleUpon

Modernizing the Office of Government Ethics

In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal involving President Richard Nixon, Congress established the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) in 1978 to provide Oversight of the Executive Branch and Prevent and Resolve, Conflicts of Interest. The Agency was eventually made Independent in 1989 and currently Oversees Ethics Standards for 2.7 million Civilian Employees in more than 130 Executive Agencies and the White House.

Since that time, the OGE has rarely been more than a footnote in a President’s legacy. But President Trump’s Refusal to work within the confines of long-standing tradition to Protect against Real and Potential Conflicts of Interest have brought unprecedented attention to OGE. Now, its Mission and its work are daily, front-page news.

Consider that in just one week:

- The Trump Administration rebuffed OGE’s request for Copies of the Waivers that have been Granted to former Lobbyists who now work for the White House or other federal Agencies.

- The President’s son-in-law and special Adviser, Jared Kushner, still owns 90% of the assets within his vast Real estate Empire. A conflict of Interest while he serves in the Trump Administration is inevitable, but the White House refuses to release the Ethics Agreement he signed with OGE.

- President Trump’s Attorneys urged him to submit a Financial Disclosure without Certifying that the Information was True. OGE reminded the President that such a course of action was unacceptable. If the Information in the Certified Disclosure statement is Not True, OGE has the Power to impose Administrative Fines or to refer the Case to the Justice Department.

The following Recommendations for potential Statutory Reforms would strengthen the OGE:

- Specify in Legislation that the Director of OGE may only be Terminated for Cause.

- Authorize OGE to serve as a Central Clearinghouse for all Ethics Actions taken by Designated Agency Ethics Offices.

- Authorize OGE to Publish Recusal Agreements of High-Ranking Senior Executive Service Employees.

- Authorize OGE to impose Specific Standards for Ethics Training and Mandate Ethics Training for all High-Level Executive Branch Officials within a certain amount of time after joining an Administration

- Authorize OGE to Investigate Allegations of Ethics Violations for High-Ranking Employees. Presidential Appointments with and without Senate Confirmation, SES, and Schedule C.

- Clarify that the Director of OGE has the Authority to Conduct Investigations, Subpoena Witnesses, Compel Production of Documents, and Issue Civil Penalties for Violations for High-Ranking Officials

- Authorize and require OGE to Standardize and Codify an Ethics Executive Order.

The Nation can ill afford such a weak Watchdog of our Ethical Standards, those that are at the bedrock of the Public’s Faith in our Government.

Congressional Action to address the Long-Established Statutory Weaknesses and Failures of the OGE is long Overdue.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
Digg! StumbleUpon

Trump Group Says Donating Profit from Foreign Officials is Complicated

As Trump prepared to assume the Presidency, he unveiled an Ethics Plan promising that his company would Donate to the United States Treasury “All Profits” from foreign Government patronage of his Hotels. Several months later, the Trump Organization is finding that Pledge daunting to keep.

The Company told Congress in a recent submission that it was all but impossible to Identify every Foreign Government Official who walked through the doors of its Hotels. And investigating all its patrons, the Organization argued, would interfere with its business and ask too much of customers. “To fully and completely identify all patronage at our properties by customer type is impractical in the service industry,” the Company wrote in a nine-page pamphlet outlining its policy. “Putting forth a policy that requires all guests to identify themselves would impede upon personal privacy and diminish the guest experience of our brand.”

The Trump Organization shared the document this month with Members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in response to a request for information about how the Policy would be put into effect. The Committee’s top Democrat, Elijah E. Cummings, released the document publicly on Wednesday, along with a letter to the Trump Organization in which he said he had “grave concerns” about the policy, and “deficiencies in this approach are obvious.”

The Public disclosure of the document has now set off new questions about whether the President could potentially run afoul of the Foreign Emoluments Clause, which essentially prohibits Federal Government Officials from accepting Gifts from Foreign Governments. But included in the Clause, Congress can Waiver each Gift. The Clause has become a cudgel for Trump’s critics, who argue that the Presidency of a Businessman, who still maintains ownership of his Properties, raises a host of potential Conflicts of Interest, leading some Groups to Sue. “Complying with the United States Constitution is not an optional exercise, but a requirement for serving as our nation’s president,” Mr. Cummings wrote in a letter to George Sorial, the Trump Organization’s Chief Compliance Counsel. “If President Trump believes that identifying all of the prohibited foreign emoluments he is currently receiving would be too challenging or would harm his business ventures, his options are to divest his ownership or submit a proposal to Congress to ask for our consent.”

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization said: “We have received and are in the process of reviewing the letter. We take these matters seriously and are fully committed to complying with all of our legal and ethical obligations.”

Later on Wednesday, the top House Judiciary Committee Democrats sent a letter to the President himself, asking that he provide a “Full Accounting” of all possible Foreign Emoluments he had received.

One Legal Case over these Profits is Pending in Federal District Court in Manhattan, where Trump’s first formal response, being handled by the Justice Department, is due on June 9th. By Donating all profits paid by Foreign Government Officials to the Trump Organization, the Company could potentially eliminate vulnerability to at least part of the Claim that the President and his family were benefiting Financially from Payments by Foreign entities.

For their part, the Trump Organization and Trump’s Lawyers say the Emoluments Clause does not apply to his business Empire, a range of Hotels, Golf Courses, and Real Estate across the Globe. They argue that a Hotel Guest paying Market Rate for a room does not amount to a Gift or Payment. Even so, Trump’s Lawyer, Sheri A. Dillon, said he had voluntarily adopted the Profit Donation policy “to put to rest any concerns.”

The Company Plans to Donate the Foreign Government Profits to the Treasury in a Lump Sum at the end of the Fiscal Year. The Company also said it was Calculating the Profits based on the Lodging industry’s Accounting Standards. But if they accumulate the Foreign Profit in a separate Interest barring Account, will the keep or add the interest amount to the Donation?

In a letter that Mr. Sorial sent the Committee this month, he declined to answer a question from Lawmakers about whether Trump planned to Claim the Profit Donations as a Tax Deduction. Mr. Sorial said it was “premature to respond at this time.”

As part of the broader Ethics plans, Trump handed the Management of his business, but not the Ownership, over to his oldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, and other Executives. He also instituted a Ban on new deals in Foreign Countries during his Presidency. To compensate the Business, the Trump Organization will open two new Hotel chains in the U.S. This will then bring the Domestic Emoluments Clause into play. This Clause, Congress can not be Waiver.

From the beginning, the Profit Donation Policy appeared to be a difficult undertaking. It may not be feasible to Identify every person who sits at a Trump Hotel Bar or Eats in one of his Restaurants. “It is not customary in the hospitality industry to identify and calculate profits from a particular customer group,” the Company’s Policy said.

In the Submission to Congress, the Trump Organization laid out its Plans to Track and Identify Foreign Government Customers. In essence, the Plan hinges on whether the Customer self-identifies as a Foreign Government Official.

The Policy, the Company said, does not “attempt to identify individual travelers who have not specifically identified themselves as being a representative of a foreign government entity.” The Company said it intended to “make commercially reasonable efforts” to identify when a Trump Property has received Revenue from a Foreign Government Entity or Customers Representing a Foreign Government. But looking at their Passport would indicate if they were a Foreign Government Employee.

That effort will include Tracking “all direct billings from the property to a foreign government,” as well as all banquet and catering business that the company received from a foreign government. The company also plans to identify any checks or electronic wire transfers “from a reasonably identifiable foreign government entity.”

These Entities include a foreign Government Agency, Embassy, Political Party, Members of a Royal Family or a sovereign Wealth Fund. In countries where the Government Controls the Corporations, the Company said that Government Officials “may not be reasonably identifiable”.

Andy Grewal, a Law Professor at the University of Iowa, who has Disputed the notion that Trump is in danger of Violating the Foreign Emoluments Clause because his Hotels accept certain Payments, said, “The Trump Organization plan strikes me as a reasonable approach.” He said that it was unreasonable for Mr. Cummings to expect more and that he was essentially demanding that “when anyone who walks into the Trump Tower grill and orders a taco bowl, they should be asked if they are a member of a foreign government.”

Norman Eisen, the top White House Ethics Lawyer in the first years of the Obama Administration and an outspoken critic of Trump’s Ethics Plan, said that the measures being taken always seemed “woefully inadequate” and that the process of Donating the Profits from Foreign Government sources lacked Feasibility. Mr. Eisen said the new information revealed on Wednesday “demonstrates that the plan is full of loopholes” and falls short of the original pledge. “Frankly, it doesn’t seem like Trump is even trying,” he said.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
Digg! StumbleUpon

New York State of Resistance


Last night, I attend an event called State of the Resistance, an update from the Frontliners with New York Attorney General (AG) Eric T. Schneiderman (D) and New York State Senator Liz Krueger (D-28th District), my State Senator, introduced by New York City Council Member Dan Garodnick (D-4th District), my Councilman.

The event took place at the CUNY Graduate Center, Porshanksy Auditorium, Manhattan. The site was full of Activist and filled the Auditorium to capacity.

The conversation between Krueger and Schneiderman included an AG update about his efforts to protect New Yorkers from the regressive actions of the Trump Administration

New York Attorney General (AG) Eric Schneiderman (D) was Elected the 65th AG on November 2nd, 2010. Since November of2016, Eric has led the fight to protect New Yorkers from the most harmful policies of the Trump Administration. He successfully sued, along with other State AG's, to block the President's Unconstitutional and Un-American Muslim Ban. He leads a coalition defending the Clean Power Plan, our Country's historic effort to limit Carbon pollution from Power Plants. He's taking the Trump Administration to Court over its illegal delay of Cost-Saving, Pollution-Cutting Energy Efficiency Standards. He's defending the right for Cities to determine their own law enforcement priorities deportation agenda. He's worked with Law Enforcement and School Administrators on guidance making clear that Discrimination and Hate have no place in New York.

Exercising his power to introduce Legislation, Eric put forth progressive Bills to tackle some of our most important challenges. On the eve of President Trump's inauguration, Eric introduced Legislation that would protect and enhance New Yorkers' access to cost-free contraception currently provided under the Affordable Care Act and threatened by Congress. He proposed Reforms that would expand Voting Rights for all New Yorkers, with provisions including Automatic and Same-Day Registration. And to fundamentally Reform the State Government, rooting out Corruption, Eric authored the most sweeping Ethics Bill in State history.

New York State Senator Liz Krueger (D-28th District) - was first Elected to the New York State Senate in 2002, after Eric suggested she run. I have carried her Ballot Petitions until 2014. She is the Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Finance Committee. A Champion of Woman's Rights, she is the Co-Founder of the NYS Bipartisan Pro-Choice Legislature Caucus. She is a strong Advocate for Tenants' Rights, Affordable Housing, Improved Access to Health Care, Social Services, Environmental Sustainability, and more Equitable Funding for Public Education. She has made Reforming and Modernizing New York State's Governmental Processes, Electorial System, and Tax Policy Central Goals of her Legislature Agenda.

New York City Council Member Dan Garodnick (D-4th District) - is the author of New York City's first Green Energy Code, the Tenant Protection Act, and 48 other Bills passed into Law over the course of his eleven year tenure. I have carried his Ballot Petitions until 2014. Dan's term ends this year under our Term Limits system. In 2015, Dan negotiated the biggest Housing Preservation deal in New York City's history, 5,000 Middle Class Housing units in Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, where he grew-up, and still lives in that neighborhood with his family. He recently delivered an unprecedented $220 million to improve Mass Transit in and around Grand Central, seizing the opportunity to Rezone the Vanderbilt Avenue corridor of East Midtown to not only promote growth but also to Improve Subway Service. He has been praised for his Independent streak and a fighter for increasing funding for the City's Public School Students.

A Lawyer with a background in Civil Rights, Dan has represented Same-Sex couples seeking Marriage Equality, the Partnership for New York City in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity Lawsuit, and directed the New York Civil Rights Coalition's Unlearning Stereotypes: Civil Rights and Race Relations Program in 42 New York City Public Schools. Dan has raised a considerable Campaign War Chest for a potential Statewide run. “I’m term limited and keeping my options open for now,” Garodnick said when asked about future plans. Campaign Finance Rules allow City Funds to be easily transferred to a state Account, and could help Garodnick finance a potential statewide run for in 2017. Both Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli are expected to seek Re-Election unless Governor Andrew Cuomo decides to not Run for a Third Term, opening the field for either Democrat to possibly succeed him and clearing the way for Garodnick’s run for either position.

After taking questions from Liz and from the Audience cards, he explained that Voting wasn't the end of a Citizen's Civic Duty. Especially in these times, we have to become Pro-Active to let our Representatives know how we feel about Issues and supporting our preferred Candidates with Get-Out-the-Vote efforts.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
Digg! StumbleUpon

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

NYC Will Remind You Whether You’ve Voted Lately

A new Law set to pass the City Council this afternoon will require the Campaign Finance Board (CFB) to send Registered Voters a four-year Record of their Appearance at the Polls, in hopes that the notice will jolt Citizens out of drooping Participation in the Electoral process.

Every four years, the CFB mails out a Voter Guide for Local Elections, providing background information on the Candidates seeking Council seats and the offices of Mayor, Public Advocate and City Comptroller. The Legislation sponsored by Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres will obligate the CFB to coordinate with the City Board of Elections (BOE) to send each Recipient of the Guide a History of all Ballots they have Cast in the intervening Party Primaries and General Elections for State and Federal office.

“Alerting people to their voter history will encourage more people to vote,” Torres said. “Voting is what breathes life into our democracy; the decline in voting is what will kill it.”

The Councilman’s office noted that 62% of Voters in the Five Boroughs turned out for last Fall’s Presidential Election, but a mere 35% showed up to support a Candidate in the April Primary, even though 79% are Affiliated with one of the two Major Parties. And in 2013, Voter participation dropped below 25%, its lowest mark in more than half a Century.

The Councilman acknowledged that part of his Bill’s intent is to Embarrass Voters into making more frequent pilgrimages to their Polling place. “None us want to be reminded of our failure to fulfill our most basic civic duty,” he said.

The Measure will take effect after this Fall’s Local Elections, meaning Delinquent Voters will have until 2021 to improve their Attendance.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
Digg! StumbleUpon

WI Seeks Stay as Back-Up Plan in Partisan Gerrymandering Case

In March, the State of Wisconsin asked the Supreme Court to review a Decision by a Three-Judge Court striking down the Redistricting Map that the Republican-controlled Legislature created after the 2010 Census. The three-Judge Court concluded that the Map was the result of Partisan Gerrymandering, that is, purposely Drawing District Lines to favor one Party and put another at a disadvantage. The Justices will consider the Case at their June 8th Conference, but yesterday Wisconsin added a new request to the Case, asking the Supreme Court to Block a Court Order requiring the State Legislature to create a new Plan by the Fall.

The issue of Partisan Gerrymandering has deeply divided the Supreme Court. In 2004, the Justices considered a challenge to Pennsylvania’s Redistricting Plan and issued a Split Ruling that resolved little. Four Justices believed that Courts should never review Partisan Gerrymandering Claims, reasoning that it is too hard to come with a manageable Test to determine when Politics plays too influential a role. Four other Justices believed that Courts should be able to review Partisan Gerrymandering Claims. Justice Anthony Kennedy provided the crucial vote in the Case: He agreed that the Supreme Court should stay out of the Pennsylvania Case, but he left open the door for Courts to have a role in reviewing Partisan Gerrymandering Cases in the future if a workable Standard could be found.

In this filing, Wisconsin officials argued that the Lower Court’s decision Striking Down the Redistricting Plan was so “Fundamentally Flawed” that the Justices should consider Reversing it without even asking for additional Briefing or Oral Argument. If the Court were take that route by the end of June, the State explained, there would be no need for the Justices to put the Lower Court’s Order on Hold.

But if the Supreme Court instead opts to Review the Case on the Merits, with Oral Argument in the Fall, the State continued, then it should spare the State from having to Comply with the Lower Court’s Deadline. Blocking the Order would save the State the trouble of creating a New Map until the Supreme Court can Rule on the validity of the old Plan, the State claims. And if the state ultimately prevails, as it believes it will, it can simply continue to use the old Plan. Moreover, even if the Supreme Court were to agree with the Challengers that the Plan must go, the Court’s eventual Opinion will provide “significant guidance” for the State to use in drafting a new Redistricting Plan. “It would be a serious intrusion,” the State concludes, on the State’s “sovereign resources to force it to redraw a map half-blind, guided by only an indisputably-flawed district court opinion.”

The State has asked the Justices to consider its new request “contemporaneously” with its brief seeking Review of the Lower Court’s decision, so the Court likely will not Act on the Request until after June 8th. However, the Court could ask the Challengers to Respond to the request before then.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
Digg! StumbleUpon

The Centrist Project First 2018 Endorsement

The Centrist Project’s first Candidate Endorsement of the 2018 Election cycle is Terry Hayes, and she’s running for Governor of Maine as an Independent.

She currently serves as Maine’s first Independent State Treasurer. Terry previously served eight years in the Maine State House, where she proved herself as a problem solver.

Maine is also one of the States where the Centrist Project aims to Elect Candidates to the State House and state Senate, as a Coalition of just five or fewer Independents could control the balance of power between both Parties in both Chambers. This is called the “Fulcrum Strategy”.

The Centrist Project is proud to announce a new Partnership with Maine Independents. This new organization is working to Recruit and Train State Legislative Candidates in Maine, and the Centrist Project will pitch in with Organizational Support, Financial Resources, and Campaign Infrastructure.

A new Centrist Project Chapter just launched in Portland, ME and held their first meetup last week. Like other Chapters across the Country, volunteers will be focused on building the Centrist Project Community and mobilizing it to support their Candidates. As chapter Leader David McConnell said, “I’m ready to get behind leaders who have the courage to buck the two-party system that is failing our state and our country.”

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Centrist Project.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
Digg! StumbleUpon