US Counterintel Chief: Russian Government Will Hack Your Phone When You Visit The World Cup

If you’re planning on traveling to Russia for the World Cup, you might want to think twice about bringing a personal device, according to William Evanina, an FBI agent and director of the US Counterintelligence and Security Center. That’s because malicious actors (either the Russian government or Russian cybercriminals) will likely be able to access the information stored on your devices – possibly gleaning sensitive personal data like the password to your online banking account.

And Evanina isn’t the only one: Another US official who asked Reuters not to be named confirmed that the UK’s intelligence community – including employees from the British version of the NSA – has issued a similar warning to the UK public, as well as members of England’s football team, according to Reuters.

If you must bring an electronic device like a phone or laptop, consider leaving your personal device at home and bringing a “burner” – that is, a phone or computer that hasn’t been previously used and can be easily disposed of upon return to the US or UK – instead. Importantly, it doesn’t matter who you are: Even if travelers believe they are “relatively insignificant”, they could still be targeted.

Russia

The warnings, of course, come as Special Counsel Robert Mueller is trudging ahead with his investigation into purported Russian interference – including hacking – in the 2016 election, and just after his office scrambled to ask a federal judge to prevent lawyers for accused Russian nationals from Concord Management – one of the firms indicted by Mueller – from participating in discovery that could’ve possibly exposed the indictments as political stunts. Earlier this week, the Treasury Department sanctioned another five Russian firms for orchestrating cyberhacks and abetting the country’s intelligence agencies. 

“If you’re planning on taking a mobile phone, laptop, PDA, or other electronic device with you – make no mistake – any data on those devices (especially your personally identifiable information) may be accessed by the Russian government or cyber criminals,” he said.

“Corporate and government officials are most at risk, but don’t assume you’re too insignificant to be targeted,” Evanina added. “If you can do without the device, don’t take it. If you must take one, take a different device from your usual one and remove the battery when not in use.”

[…]

In a statement, Britain’s National Cyber Security Center said it was “providing expert cyber security advice to the (UK) Football Association ahead of their departure to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.”

Meanwhile, cyber security expert Patrick Wardle said that he follows this advice whenever he travels to Russia: “When I travel to Russia, I bring burner devices, so if they get hacked, it doesn’t really matter.” US agencies have issued similar warnings before other major international sporting events.

Of course, the most secure option would be to simply refuse to attend, an option that several European left-wingers – including a member of Germany’s green party – have urged people to consider.

Here’s What Would Happen If A Nuclear Bomb Was Detonated On The Ground In NYC

Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,

After the meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump seemed to end on an optimistic note, one may have hoped that our fears of a nuclear attack would subside. Not so, according to The New Yorker, who published an article entitled, “This Is What a Nuclear Attack on New York Would Look LIke.”

While the timing may seem odd, it’s important to note that feelings are mixed about the North Korea-US summit.  Some are pleased and feel that a great deal was accomplished, while others are unhappy – even angry – that Trump made nice with a brutal dictator.

It’s tough for many folks to separate their feelings about Trump, whether those feelings are animosity or support, and it shows in their assessment of the conversation. And this isn’t unique. People had the same difficulties with President Obama. Supporters thought everything he did was great, while detractors thought he was the Anti-Christ. We’d all be wise to try to separate our feelings from our take on current events, as difficult as that might be. However, that isn’t what this article is about.

What would the nuclear threat look like?

The  New Yorker piece is prefaced with the opinion that the potential nuke won’t be from the sources most of us have been worrying about. “If America is attacked, the strike probably won’t come from North Korea. And it will be even scarier than we imagine.”

The intro is a political diatribe with some legitimate facts that are overshadowed by a blatant bias. But Ferris Jabr is an experienced science journalist who is a contributing writer for Scientific American and has been published in Wired, Foreign Policy, Aeon, Hakai, New Scientist, and Quanta, to name just a few outlets.  Don’t be too put off by the first couple of paragraphs to read the very credible information he provides in the rest of the article. The author discusses a distinct, chilling possibility that has quite a bit of merit.

…a nuclear attack on the United States could well come not from the skies but from the streets. Experts warn that it would be relatively easy for terrorists to build an “improvised nuclear bomb” and smuggle it into America. Building a ten-kiloton bomb nearly as destructive as the one dropped on Hiroshima would require little more than some technical expertise and 46 kilograms of highly enriched uranium — a quantity about the size of a bowling ball.

This is absolutely not outside the realm of possibility.

Last month, some weapons-grade plutonium went missing from a university in Idaho. While the amount taken wasn’t enough to make a giant nuke, it was certainly enough to make a dirty bomb. I was unable to find any indication that the plutonium was ever recovered, and if any readers know, please post your links in the comments so I can update this article. This isn’t the first time that nuclear materials have gone missing – far from it. In 2013, the Washington Post published an unsettling map that showed dozens of thefts or losses of the ingredients required to cook up a dirty bomb or worse.

The New Yorker article posits that the bomb would likely be assembled elsewhere and then smuggled into the United States but we can’t overlook the possibility that it could be just as easily assembled right here at home, should such an event occur. The article explains how a crude 10-kiloton bomb could be made and smuggled in (and it’s quite thorough to my untrained eye)

Once terrorists obtained the uranium, they would need only a small team of sympathetic engineers and physicists to build what is known as a gun-type nuclear bomb, like the one dropped on Hiroshima. A gun-type nuke uses traditional explosives to fire a slug of uranium through a tube directly into another chunk of uranium, fracturing huge numbers of atoms and unleashing a massive amount of energy…

…The last step in the process — smuggling the weapon into the United States — would be even easier. A ten-kiloton bomb, which would release as much energy as 10,000 tons of TNT, would be only seven feet long and weigh about 1,000 pounds. It would be simple to transport such a device to America aboard a container ship, just another unseen object in a giant metal box among millions of other metal boxes floating on the ocean. Even a moderate amount of shielding would be enough to hide its radioactive signature from most detectors at shipping hubs. Given all the naturally radioactive items that frequently trigger false alarms — bananas, ceramics, Brazil nuts, pet deodorizers — a terrorist group could even bury the bomb in bags of Fresh Step or Tidy Cats to fool inspectors if a security sensor was tripped.

Jabr then suggests that the shipment could reach port in Newark, New Jersey, after which a route through the Lincoln Tunnel into Times Square might be the likely course.

What would happen when the nuke detonated?

Keep in mind that this article is specific to New York City. Anyone who lives there or has traveled there will finish reading it with a clear picture in their minds of the landmarks mentioned. But even if you never set foot in the Big Apple, the information delivered in such a relatable way is priceless.

I’ve written a great deal about the survivability of a nuclear strike if one doesn’t happen to be at Ground Zero, and it seems that the author of this piece agrees. Here’s an excerpt:

A ten-kiloton nuclear bomb detonated on the ground in Times Square would explode with a white flash brighter than the sun. It would be seen for hundreds of miles, briefly blinding people as far away as Queens and Newark. In the same moment, a wave of searing heat would radiate outward from the explosion, followed by a massive fireball, the core of which would reach tens of millions of degrees, as hot as the center of the sun.

When such a bomb explodes, everyone within 100 feet of ground zero is instantaneously reduced to a spray of atoms…Near the center of the blast, the suffering and devastation most closely conform to the fictional apocalypse of our imaginations…Within a half-mile radius of the blast, there would be few survivors…

As the fireball travels outward from the blast, people, buildings, and trees within a one-mile radius would be severely burned or charred. Metal, fabric, plastic, and clay would ignite, melt, or blister. The intense heat would set gas lines, fuel tanks, and power lines on fire, and an electromagnetic pulse created by the explosion would knock out most computers, cell phones, and communication towers within several miles.

Traveling much farther than the fireball, a colossal pressure wave would hurtle forth faster than the speed of sound, generating winds up to 500 miles per hour. The shock wave would demolish the flimsiest buildings and strip the walls and roofs off stronger structures, leaving only their naked and warped scaffolding. It would snap utility poles like toothpicks and rip through trees, fling people through the air, and turn brick, glass, wood, and metal into deadly projectiles. A blast in Times Square, combined with the fireball, would carve a crater 50 feet deep at the center of the explosion. The shock wave would reach a diameter of nearly 3.2 miles, shattering windows as far as Gramercy Park and the American Museum of Natural History.

All this would happen within a few seconds.

As this pulse of radiation surges through the bodies of everyone who is outside, or in weakly insulated buildings, it wreaks biological havoc at the molecular level…Within minutes to hours, most people exposed in these areas would begin to show signs of acute radiation syndrome…

The article is well worth reading to get a clear, horrifyingly detailed picture of the reality of a nuclear attack for those closest to Ground Zero. It continues to explain what would happen to those within a few miles in the hours and first days after the attack, and has some excellent advice on how to protect yourself should you find yourself in close proximity to a strike. The author concludes:

A terrorist-built nuclear bomb detonated in Times Square would injure 300,000 people and kill 250,000 — 20 times more deaths than in any natural disaster or act of terrorism in America’s history. More than 500,000 would eventually be killed or injured by the radioactive fallout…

…Overall, a nuclear missile detonated in the air over New York City would be more destructive and deadlier than a ground explosion, because it would generate a larger blast wave and fireball. By contrast, a nuclear bomb detonated on the ground loses some of its destructive power, because the energy is absorbed by the ground itself, but kicks up more dirt and debris, producing a much larger amount of radioactive fallout and causing a higher proportion of deaths from radiation sickness and cancer.

Really, it seems to me that this scenario of a crude nuclear bomb detonated on the ground in a populated area is a whole lot more likely than a missile strike from across the ocean.

You need to learn to protect yourself against all types of nuclear threats.

By understanding exactly how this would affect Ground Zero and the area around it, we give ourselves a much greater opportunity for survival. Clearly, in a localized event, the entire country would not turn into a nuclear wasteland like the setting of The Road, but this is a common misconception that leaves people paralyzed in fear.

It would be centered around the blast area, but the radiation and plume would travel. Being prepared for this possibility is far wiser than saying, “I’ll just take my chances and die. Who would want to live after that?”

The unfortunate thing for those who deliberately choose the option of remaining unprepared is that you probably won’t just die in the blast. You will die a horrific, lingering death, in agony as your skin peels off, your organs shut down one by one, and your loved ones suffer beside you.

Learn how to create a survival shelter in your home. Even if you aren’t at home when something terrible happens, that information could save your life. Knowledge is power.

Trump Facing Renewed Pressure To Sit For Mueller Interview After Kim Summit

Now that President Donald Trump’s historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has come and gone, his legal team’s focus is shifting back toward Special Counsel Robert Mueller. And as Bloomberg reports, Mueller – who is pushing to wrap up the investigation as quickly as possible – is mounting one last push to convince Trump and his legal team to voluntarily sit for an interview. While Mueller has suffered the slings and arrows of Trump’s wrath – Trump’s allies have hurled vitriol at the special counsel on both twitter and cable news – his determination to interview the president remains unshaken.

Trump

So, now the two sides must either find common ground – or gear up for a legal battle that would likely need to be resolved by the Supreme Court.

Now, Mueller is intent on quickly resolving a central issue with Trump’s legal team: whether the president will sit voluntarily for an interview in the probe of Russian election meddling, according to current and former U.S. officials. After months of negotiations, the two sides must find common ground or gear up for an unprecedented legal fight likely to go all the way to the Supreme Court.

“It’s a little bit of a game,” said Harry Sandick, a former federal prosecutor who’s now a partner with law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler. “Mueller could subpoena the president but probably doesn’t want to. He faces some litigation risk. Trump could fight the subpoena, but he also faces a political risk.”

During their push to turn public opinion against Mueller, Trump’s lawyers, led by Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani, have engaged in selective leaking, including back in early May when they leaked a list of 49 questions purportedly turned. As one lawyer who spoke with Bloomberg pointed out, the ongoing negotiations have turned into “a bit of a game.” Others have claimed that the leak was intended to pressure Mueller into killing the interview (of course, we all know how that turned out).

“It’s a little bit of a game,” said Harry Sandick, a former federal prosecutor who’s now a partner with law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler. “Mueller could subpoena the president but probably doesn’t want to. He faces some litigation risk. Trump could fight the subpoena, but he also faces a political risk.”

The interview is key to Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump or any of his associates helped Russia interfere in the 2016 U.S. election and whether Trump acted to obstruct the probe, one official said.

Meanwhile, Giuliani claimed late last month that he and Trump have already been rehearsing for an in-person interview with Mueller after the special counsel summarily rejected the Trump legal team’s request to conduct some of the interview in a written format.

However, since FBI agents raided Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s home, office and hotel room and are reportedly preparing to charge him with a crime, the president has grown increasingly wary of an interview.

One problem for Trump, though, is that if Mueller wins at the Supreme Court, he could compel Trump to sit for a Grand Jury for as long as he wants, and subject Trump to questions on a range of topics without providing any advanced warning.

“I think the Supreme Court will rule in Mueller’s favor, but we don’t really know,” Sandick said. “If Mueller wins, he can actually put Trump in the grand jury without his lawyer for as long as he wants and ask about any subject he wants.”

Furthermore, if Trump chooses the court battle route, Mueller’s probe would encounter further delays, as the ruling likely wouldn’t arrive until October at the earliest, after the Court returns from its summer recess. That would mean the investigation likely wouldn’t wrap up until late this year – or early next year – at the very earliest. It also would open the Republican Party up to a high degree of political risk, because the Court’s final ruling could arrive just before the midterms.

But since the beginning of the probe, the biggest obstacle to a direct interview is Trump. The president’s legal team came within a hair’s breadth of an agreement back in January. But as Trump got cold feet, his team sent Mueller a 20-page letter arguing that Trump isn’t entitled to answer Mueller’s questions as they invoked Trump’s executive privilege.

Regardless of whether the interview happens, Mueller has told Trump’s team that he will prepare a report summarizing his findings that will be turned over to the DOJ and, eventually, Congress. Then it will be up to Congress whether to release the report.

That will ultimately depend on the outcome of the midterm vote.

Judge Blocks “Assault Weapons” Ban From Going Into Effect In Illinois Town

Authored by Kerry Picket via The Daily Caller,

A circuit court judge in Lake County, Illinois granted an injunction Tuesday that blocked the Chicago suburb of Deerfield from enforcing a ban on so-called “assault weapons.”

The injunction was granted 24 hours before that ban was to go into effect.

According to a press statement, the Second Amendment Foundation, the Illinois State Rifle Association and Deerfield resident Daniel Easterday filed a lawsuit against the local prohibition on the basis that it violates the state’s preemption law that was adopted in 2013.

The law amended the state statute to say, “the regulation of the possession or ownership of assault weapons are exclusive powers and functions of this State. Any ordinance or regulation, or portion of that ordinance or regulation, that purports to regulate the possession or ownership of assault weapons in a manner that is inconsistent with this Act, shall be invalid…”

Following the passage of the law, Illinois municipalities had a period of time in which to alter or adopt their gun laws, and Deerfield argued its ban was simply an amendment to prior ordinance that regulated firearms and became the first municipality to ban assault weapons following the Parkland high school shooting.

If the ban went into effect, any person found to have what the town considered to be an “assault weapon” after Wednesday, July 13, would have faced a penalty of up to $1,000 per day.

“We moved swiftly to challenge this gun ban because it flew in the face of state law,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The village tried to disguise its extremism as an amendment to an existing ordinance. The ordinance bans possession of legally-owned semi-auto firearms, with no exception for guns previously owned, or any provision for self-defense.”

“Worse, still,” he added, “the ordinance also provided for confiscation and destruction of such firearms and their original capacity magazines. It was outrageous that the ban would levy fines of up to $1,000 a day against anyone who refused to turn in their gun and magazines or move them out of the village. This certainly puts the lie to claims by anti-gunners that ‘nobody is coming to take your guns.’”

Furious Canadians Threaten US Boycott…Except Coke, iPhones, Nikes, Starbucks…

Canadian publications and citizens groups are calling for a boycott of US goods in response to President Trump and members of his administration’s attacks on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

But as Reuters reports, a consumer boycott of the US is much easier said than done. Still, the boycott push has gained momentum since Canada’s Parliament on Monday condemned Trump for his treatment of Trudeau. Trudeau himself has “kept a low profile” since the end of the G-7 summit, which Trudeau hosted in Quebec over the weekend. Publications like the Toronto Star have suggested a campaign of “empty hotel rooms and campsites.”

All kinds of targets have been suggested in opinion columns and postings on social media, from companies that sell goods associated with Trump or his family to a broader ban on U.S. vacations. The suggestions come not only in response to the attacks on Trudeau by Trump and his aides, but to the threat of a trade war that could hurt Canada’s economy and sideswipe jobs.

“So, if this president insists on punching you in the nose and eating your lunch, why would you continue to pretend he’s still a great neighbor and go over to his place to spend your time and money?” implored an opinion piece in the Toronto Star.

As Reuters reminds us, Canada is the biggest market for US goods. The country imports a total of $90 billion during the first four months of this year alone. For 35 US states, Canada is the top export market. As a whole, Canada is the destination for 18.3% of US exports – putting it ahead of China and Mexico.

Canada

When it comes to tourism, Canadians also comprise a significant proportion of visitors to the US. Hundreds of thousands of Canadian retirees winter in the sun belt – a region that stretches across the southeastern and southwestern US. But as much as Canadians love to boast about their beef, beer and maple syrup, it’s difficult to imagine a countrywide boycott of Pepi, Coca-Cola and other iconic US brands (how about the iPhone? Nike sneakers? Or Starbucks?) ever getting off the ground. Why? Because, at the end of the day, Canadians love US brands.

“To suggest Canadians are going to stop drinking Coke and Pepsi is a bit of a stretch, given we are so enmeshed in U.S. consumer culture. A bottom line impact is not likely to occur,” said pollster Nik Nanos.

“That said, this is going to be a massive headache for U.S. companies doing business in Canada, both from a public relations and consumer relations perspective.”

While Trump has largely been the target of Canadians’ ire, Trump advisor Peter Navarro on Tuesday apologized for unleashing “verbal hell” on Trudeau during a Fox News interview.

“I own that,” Navarro said during an appearance at The Wall Street Journal’s CFO conference.

Yellowstone Supervolcano: The Steamboat Geyser Just Went Off Again!

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

As scientists continue to tell the public not to worry, the largest geyser in Yellowstone has just gone off for the ninth time. Normally, this geyser is quiet for years at a time, but scientists are now saying this is the new normal.

Over the past few months, the Steamboat geyser has sprung to life and now seems to be erupting somewhat on a predictable schedule, at least for the moment. According to Forbes, just after 1 a.m. Monday it sent boiling water hundreds of feet into the air for the ninth time this year. Before this recent string of eruptions, Steamboat had been dormant since 2014.

“Major eruptions over the past several weeks have been occurring with surprising regularity (every 6 to 8 days),” wrote Jamie Farrell, Chief Seismologist of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO).

This news comes as the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii continues to erupt sending lava flows into the ocean and Guatemalan volcano erupted sent pyroclastic flows into a townkilling at least 100 people. 

Are the world’s volcanoes waking up?  Not if you ask scientists.

According to Ed Venzke, who manages the database of Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program, the concern is understandable. “If it’s not part of people’s daily lives and suddenly it’s in the news, people sort of freak out a bit,” Venzke told Newsweek. But he indicated that there’s no real need to worry about the volcanoes. At any given time, there are almost always at least 20 eruptions unfolding on earth, and so far this year 49 volcanoes have erupted at some point. Venzke said that puts us on track for a pretty standard annual tally compared to recent years.

Annual totals since 2000 have varied from 63 to 80 eruptions, which means that 49 by mid-June may feel higher than average. But that overlooks a major factor in these statistics, which is the duration of each individual eruption. In this case, an eruption is considered to be ongoing until a volcano has been quiet for three months, this year’s tally was already at 37 on January 1. –Newsweek

“We don’t see any increase in eruptions, we see an increase in reported eruptions,” Venzke said. “It’s not a real increase, it’s just an increase in our knowledge of what’s going on. You have to know the history of a place to plan and take precautions for the future,” he added.