Three Things: Mas Gas, Las Vegas and Sass

I’m not even going to touch the massive stream of news out of Washington over the last 24 hours, from the Washington Post piece featuring ‘leaked’ transcripts of Trump’s whack doodle conversations with Mexico’s and Australia’s presidents to the impaneled grand jury and subpoenas. Plenty of other material not getting adequate air time.

Speaking of air time, hope you have a chance to catch Marcy on Democracy Now. She spoke with Amy Goodman about the confirmation of Chris Wray as FBI Director as well as former Fox News contributor Rod Wheeler’s lawsuit against Fox News.

Onward…

~ 3 ~

Venezuela’s state-run oil producer PDVSA is cutting oil sales to U.S. refining unit Citgo Petroleum. At the same time it is increasing shipments of oil to Russia’s largest oil producer, Rosneft. Venezuela is using its oil to pay down a $1.6 billion loan extended to PDVSA last year. Rosneft has loaned an even larger sum of money in the not-too-distant past, but the terms aren’t known; payments in oil as well as a hefty minority stake in Citgo were believed to be included in negotiations.

The threat to U.S. gasoline supply: though at lower levels than a decade ago, Venezuela is the third largest supplier of oil to the U.S.

Citgo has, however, been shifting its purchasing wider afield than just PDVSA:

Citgo last year started sending gasoline and other fuels to Venezuela in exchange for a portion of its crude supply. But Citgo has increased the volume of U.S. oil it refines, and has also has also expanded its crude import sources.
[…]
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has promised strong economic sanctions against Venezuela’s government after a Constituent Assembly was elected last week in what United States called a “sham” vote. The new body will have power to rewrite the constitution and abolish the opposition-led Congress.

If those sanctions were to constrain Venezuela’s oil shipments to the United States, Citgo could be ahead of its competitors in finding new supply sources.

The public will feel at the pump whatever happens to Citgo and other gasoline producers. Gasoline prices are already $0.16-0.24 per gallon higher than they were last year.

Who is profiting from this?

~ 2 ~

I’ve been thinking about the tagline, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” right about now after the arrest of Marcus Hutchins, a.k.a. MalwareTechBlog following Defcon’s end in Las Vegas. You’ve probably read Marcy’s piece already (catch up if you didn’t); since she published her post the information security community has been digging into Hutchins’ past and stewing about why/what/how.

Some speculate this was an aggressive recruitment effort; this might explain why the U.K. didn’t arrest him before he left for Defcon. Or did the U.K. and the U.S. agree not to spook any Defcon attendees by stopping Hutchins before he arrived in Vegas? Responses by U.K. authorities are annoyingly banal:

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are in touch with local authorities in Las Vegas following reports of a British man being arrested.”

The UK’s National Crime Agency said: “We are aware a UK national has been arrested but it’s a matter for the authorities in the US.”

Others speculate he was framed as the target of revenge by someone caught up in Alphabay’s seizure. How does shutting down WannaCry fit into this scenario?

I don’t have a favorite theory right now. All I know is that WannaCry’s heat map sticks in my craw.

One thing which should come out of this situation is a dialog about coding, malware, and intent; the infosec community is having that discussion now, but it needs to be wider. If a white hat codes malware in part or whole to investigate capabilities, they are only separated from criminal malware producers/sellers/distributors by intent. How does law enforcement determine intent?

~ 1 ~

Your opinion is constantly shaped by the media you consume. Some consumers aren’t conscious of this shaping; neither are some producers.

And some producers know it but are just plain jerks.

A very important way in which opinion is shaped is by the perspective presenting a viewpoint. If only the members of one-half of the population ever gets a chance to present a perspective, consumers’ opinions are narrowed by that same factor. This is why gender equity in media is critical; if you’re only hearing men you’re not getting but part of the picture.

WIRED magazine knows that gender equity in content is important, but their last issue contained only male-written content. As a twisted tribute to the women who helped produce the issue, WIRED stuck a colophon listing important females.

Including a dog.

Really? The women of WIRED are on the same footing as a pet?

Somebody/ies at WIRED need a kick in the sass; I don’t give a fig if half the staff is female if the content itself is all-male. I’m going to do my best this next month not to cite WIRED.

Don’t think for a moment this is just WIRED, either. The VIDA Count measures annually gender equity in literary arts. There’s progress though slow.

~ 0 ~

That’s a wrap on this open thread. Let’s hope with Tiny Hands McGolfer on vacation that news slows a bit as we enter this weekend. I’m not holding my breath though. Behave.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

19 replies
  1. bloopie2 says:

    Yep, Wired blew it royally there.

    But speaking of royalty, is gender equity happening in Denmark (see below, per the Guardian)?  Maybe I’m just thick, but I’m not following this.  Methinks he just got tired of her (and of her not doing anything about it) after 50 years.

    Is it spite/frustration, like Trump calling the White House a dump because he really doesn’t want to be there?  Should Henrik be criticized for being passive for 50 years before turning aggressive?

    “Prince Henrik of Denmark has announced that he does not wish to be buried next to his wife, Queen Margrethe of Denmark, saying he is unhappy he was never acknowledged as her equal. Henrik, 83, married Queen Margrethe in 1967 and was later named prince consort. But he has repeatedly said he would have liked to be named king consort. “For the prince, the decision not to buried beside the queen is the natural consequence of not having been treated equally to his spouse – by not having the title and role he has desired.”

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t know enough about Denmark’s monarchy other than 1) it’s constitutional, not absolute; 2) Henrik’s title is the same as that of U.K.’s Queen Elizabeth’s spouse, Prince Philip (also a constitutional monarchy); and 3) IIRC, Henrik was a commoner and not a peer or royal before he married Margrethe, which might affect titles in Denmark’s system of succession.

      He’s also been having a temper tantrum for years about this, even bailed out of the country 15 years ago because of his title. If the Danish government had appreciated his point, they would have changed the constitution for him. I suspect there’s a lot more going on here than most of us in the U.S. can appreciate — including the possibility this has been a marriage gone sour and he’s simply acting out. IMO, if you marry into monarchy, you should know upfront what you’re signing on for, including public scrutiny and the limitations of the role. I’m sure Princess Diana knew marrying Prince Charles that she would likely never be Queen consort, just as their daughter-in-law Kate Middleton knows the same.

      (p.s. I cleaned up the spacing in your comment because it did bizarre things in my mobile device.)

  2. lefty665 says:

    Jeez, you asked questions and I answered them in what you described as an “open thread” and you deleted them. What’s wrong with you?

    You might also try “Science News”. It is a woman run operation from beginning to end.  We subscribe to the print edition for the news and to support them.

  3. Rugger9 says:

    One of the ideas floated in the previous thread was that this was a beta test, for lack of a better description.  The government wanted to see that the white hats really did follow through on preventing damage when given the opportunity of  a unreported malware code.  With that as the scenario, why arrest the guy for doing what you wanted him to do?  Was it to give him some hacker credibility?

    On the Danish Prince Consort: geez, what a snowflake to bitch about a meaningless title.  I don’t think the Danes are favorably impressed in the least, and this is the kind of thing Caesar Disgustus would do.  Oh, and the Queen still lives so I’m sure she’s going to be very willing to give him his wish.

    Gas prices are always rapidly rising on rumors but slowly falling when forced by the market.  It appears to me, however, that any sanctions on Venezuela will be back-filled by Rosneft (and who does own that 20%, Rexxon?) so I’m not sure what net effect C.D.’s pompous bloviation will actually have.  Even though they are up, gas prices are still well below their peak values in the Shrub administration, both in then-current and indexed dollars.  This I think is the effect of the renewable vehicles, combined with the apparent inability of OPEC to maintain production discipline where the supply glut is still there.  It’s also vacation time, so until Labor Day we’ll get gouged, no doubt.

    The transcripts (and the blow by blow analysis) will make entertaining reading, but I see them as a distraction to direct attention away from Mueller’s DC grand jury, so it seems something reasonably big is coming.  Will someone like Jared or Don Junior (or Manafort, who apparently has his own GJ somewhere) or even Sessions get hauled in for a chat?

    Sessions / Coats presser was interesting, in that they seem to equate classified information with embarrassing-to-the-WH information and they promised a crackdown (“Don’t do it”).  However, actual classified information is formally defined with the procedures and authority to classify and de-classify enshrined into law already.  Look back to the Plame outing by Scooter Libby for Darth Cheney’s attempts to construct a fourth-branch instant-declassification process apparently involving pixie dust to dodge the fact that he outed a CIA NOC agent for purely political reasons and should have been sent to Leavenworth for life making little rocks out of big ones.  Very little has changed about who has the authority to classify (including why and when it is permitted) and who has the authority to de-classify (usually the author’s department and up the org chart).  So, aside from this bluster, we all know that most of the leaks aren’t from IC malcontents, they are from the WH itself including POTUS*.  Let he without sin cast the first stone, JeffBo.

  4. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Election Officials Still Haven’t Got Clearance to View Russian Hacking Info

    https://motherboard.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/qvky9b/election-officials-still-havent-got-clearance-to-view-russian-hacking-info

    In January, the Department of Homeland Security designated voting machines, voter databases, and polling places as parts of critical infrastructure, in the same sort of vein as drinking water or the power grid. But despite election security supposedly being a priority for the US government, eight months after that DHS announcement, state election officials have still not received any security clearances to review classified information on Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 US election, according to officials and documents.

    [Maybe because DHS only cares about making sure that ‘security’ is only for deepstate at that point?]

    • Rugger9 says:

      Or, if they dig they would find more than the Trump WH wants us to see.  Greg Palast may be slightly addicted to tinfoil in his rhetoric, but the DefCon hackfest makes it clear he does have a valid point to make.

      For fun:

  5. greengiant says:

    With Mooch’s departure,  Trump’s ghost twitterer du jour  has changed voices in largest segway seen to date.  Trump channels Ali’s rope a dope,  lie all the time,  disrupt all the time,  all publicity is good ( Ray Cohn ),  amoral is the method,  gets supporter rage and blood lust while distracting opposition.

  6. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Fake News story about ‘fake news’? Or not?

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/04/politics/election-day-cyber-threat-fbi-monitoring/index.html

    Tne Obama White House official responded to the messages of congratulations with the opposite view, saying the US government response to the Russian operation was “a failure of imagination.”
    “Are you kidding?” that official recalled saying to others at the White House as they celebrated a successful election. “What they did worked!”

  7. Hieronymus Howard says:

    How does one make a normal-looking double hard return in LibreOffice Writer?  This newfangled Linux stuff is tough for an old Windows guy.

    The transcripts were based on records kept by White House note-takers who monitored Trump’s calls.  Known as a “memorandum of conversation,” such documents are commonly circulated to White House staffers and senior policymakers.

    How does that work, exactly?  The snippets read like verbatim.  Note-takers?  Are we supposed to believe they blithely jotted down every word in Gregg shorthand?  Perhaps these “note-takers” operate the modern equivalent of what used to be known as a tape recorder & make a transcript from a digital recording later.  Why doesn’t the article say that?

    Does the transcript as circulated in‑house appear on paper in a Q & A format? There’s a full PDF available somewhere, I gather?  & why would Trumpeian (rhymes with plebeian) want to share the content of such phone calls with anyone?

    Would leaking such a document to WaPo be considered a felony?  You don’t suppose the CIA had anything to do with it, do you?  WaPo is their baby, after all.  Just wondering.

    • Rayne says:

      I can’t answer your questions about the transcript, sorry, but I can suggest drafting your comment in a text editor like Lime Text or Kate depending on the Linux distro you’re using if you are having problems with LibreOffice. I would try editing as a plain text or HTML document and remove all non-breaking space as they do funky things in comments. Just an empty line between paragraphs will work.

      I took the liberty of stripping out your extra non-breaking spaces for readability. Also assume the blockquote you feature is from WaPo’s piece, Trump urged Mexican president to end his public defiance on border wall, transcript reveals, dd. August 3rd.

      Anybody else know how the White House is creating these “memorandum of conversation”?

      • Hieronymus Howard says:

        Thanks for fixing those paragraph breaks.  That’s the look I was going for to begin with.

  8. greengiant says:

    Miller is said to be in consideration for Mooch’s position, renamed to “director of fakenews”, said to channel Donald well,  lying, racist, narcissistic, pyschopath,  “this deal really makes me look bad” sales spiel.  Attempts Trumpian mind control,  “you cannot deny” my lies.  Vulnerable to one line knockout punches but there is no debate when Miller only has anal leakage to pass as discourse.   Hey Stephen,  have you found any bus drivers who did that run to New Hampshire yet?  How many fake votes cast you turn up so far?   This may be genius,  fastest way to get Miller out of the WH.

    The Faux base maybe happy with administration “plan” for immigration ignoring that Congress is the legislature.  Been a long time if ever since they saw the competition between an immigrant working for their life and a citizen.  Trump and his business ilk know the difference,  they hire the lowest cost vendor every time.

  9. Hieronymus Howard says:

    Please ignore and/or delete this test:

    Is this an m-dash?  word—word—word

    Is this an n-dash?  word–word–word

     

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