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Massive fire ravages Notre-Dame cathedral

A ma­jor fire has en­gulfed the me­dieval cathe­dral of Notre-Dame in Paris, one of France’s most fa­mous land­marks.

The 850-year-old Gothic build­ing’s spire and roof have col­lapsed but the main struc­ture, in­clud­ing the two bell tow­ers, has been saved, of­fi­cials say.

Firefighters are still work­ing to con­tain the blaze as teams try to sal­vage the art­work stored in­side.

President Emmanuel Macron called it a terrible tragedy”. The cause of the fire is not yet clear.

Officials say it could be linked to the ren­o­va­tion work that be­gan af­ter cracks ap­peared in the stone, spark­ing fears the struc­ture could be­come un­sta­ble.

Paris pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice said it had opened an in­quiry into accidental de­struc­tion by fire”. A fire­fighter was se­ri­ously in­jured while tack­ling the blaze.

Visibly emo­tional, Mr Macron said the worst had been avoided” and vowed to launch an in­ter­na­tional fundrais­ing scheme to re­build the cathe­dral.

The fire be­gan at around 18:30 (16:30 GMT) and quickly reached the roof of the cathe­dral, de­stroy­ing its stained-glass win­dows and the wooden in­te­rior be­fore top­pling the spire.

Some 500 fire­fight­ers worked to pre­vent one of the bell tow­ers from col­laps­ing. More than four hours later, fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet said the main struc­ture had been saved and pre­served” from to­tal de­struc­tion.

Sections of the cathe­dral were un­der scaf­fold­ing as part of the ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tions and 16 cop­per stat­ues had been re­moved last week.

Deputy Paris Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said the build­ing had suf­fered colossal dam­ages”, and teams were work­ing to save the cathe­dral’s re­main­ing art­work.

Historian Camille Pascal told French broad­caster BFMTV that invaluable her­itage” had been de­stroyed, adding: Happy and un­for­tu­nate events for cen­turies have been marked by the bells of Notre-Dame. We can be only hor­ri­fied by what we see”.

Thousands of peo­ple gath­ered in the streets around the cathe­dral, ob­serv­ing the flames in si­lence. Some could be seen openly weep­ing, while oth­ers sang hymns or said prayers.

Several churches around Paris rang their bells in re­sponse to the blaze, which hap­pened as Catholics cel­e­brate Holy Week.

Because of the fire, Mr Macron can­celled a speech on TV in which he was due to ad­dress the street protests that have rocked France for months.

Visiting the scene, the pres­i­dent said the cathe­dral was a build­ing for all French peo­ple”, in­clud­ing those who had never been there.

We’ll re­build Notre-Dame to­gether”, he said as he praised the extreme courage” and professionalism” of the fire­fight­ers.

No other site rep­re­sents France quite like Notre-Dame. Its main ri­val as a na­tional sym­bol, the Eiffel Tower, is lit­tle more than a cen­tury old. Notre-Dame has stood tall above Paris since the 1200s.

It has given its name to one of the coun­try’s lit­er­ary mas­ter­pieces. Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is known to the French sim­ply as Notre-Dame de Paris.

The last time the cathe­dral suf­fered ma­jor dam­age was dur­ing the French Revolution. It sur­vived two world wars largely un­scathed.

Watching such an em­bod­i­ment of the per­ma­nence of a na­tion burn and its spire col­lapse is pro­foundly shock­ing to any French per­son.

* The church re­ceives al­most 13 mil­lion vis­i­tors each year, more than the Eiffel Tower

* A Unesco World Heritage site, it was built in the 12th and 13th cen­turies

* Several stat­ues of the fa­cade of the Catholic cathe­dral were re­moved for ren­o­va­tion

* The roof, which has been de­stroyed by the blaze, was made mostly of wood

* Read more about the trea­sures of the cathe­dral

The Vatican ex­pressed shock and sad­ness,” adding that it was pray­ing for the French fire ser­vices.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has of­fered her sup­port to the peo­ple of France, call­ing Notre-Dame a symbol of French and European cul­ture”.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said in a tweet: My thoughts are with the peo­ple of France tonight and with the emer­gency ser­vices who are fight­ing the ter­ri­ble blaze at Notre-Dame cathe­dral”.

Also on Twitter, US President Donald Trump said it was horrible to watch” the fire and sug­gested that flying wa­ter tankers” could be used to ex­tin­guish the blaze.

In an ap­par­ent re­sponse, the French Civil Security ser­vice said that was not an op­tion as it might re­sult in the col­lapse of the en­tire build­ing.

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Mass Gains of Antarctic Ice Sheet Greater than Losses

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'Coffee not essential for life'

The Swiss gov­ern­ment wants to put an end to its emer­gency stock­pile of cof­fee af­ter de­clar­ing that it is not es­sen­tial” for hu­man sur­vival.

Switzerland be­gan stor­ing emer­gency re­serves of cof­fee be­tween World War One and World War Two in prepa­ra­tion for po­ten­tial short­ages.

It con­tin­ued in sub­se­quent decades to com­bat short­ages sparked by war, nat­ural dis­as­ters or epi­demics.

It now hopes to end the prac­tice by late 2022. But op­po­si­tion is mount­ing.

It cur­rently has 15,300 tonnes saved up - that’s enough to last the coun­try three months.

The gov­ern­ment now says cof­fee is not es­sen­tial for life” so does­n’t need to be in­cluded in the emer­gency re­serves.

Coffee con­tains al­most no calo­ries and there­fore does not con­tribute, from the phys­i­o­log­i­cal per­spec­tive, to safe­guard­ing nu­tri­tion,” the Federal Office for National Economic Supply said (in German).

The plan has now been re­leased for pub­lic com­ment with a fi­nal de­ci­sion ex­pected in November.

But not every­one is happy about it.

Reservesuisse, which over­sees Switzerland’s food stock­piles, says 12 of 15 com­pa­nies that stock­pile cof­fee in the coun­try want to con­tinue do­ing so.

In a let­ter seen by Reuters, it says the weighting of calo­ries as the main cri­te­ria for a vi­tal sta­ple did not do jus­tice to cof­fee”.

The Swiss are big fans of cof­fee, con­sum­ing about 9kg (20lb) per per­son per year, ac­cord­ing to the International Coffee Organization.

This is al­most triple that con­sumed in Britain, where 3.3kg per per­son per year is con­sumed.

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An MIT economist says the US has regressed to a developing nation status

US has re­gressed to de­vel­op­ing na­tion sta­tus, MIT econ­o­mist warns

Peter Temin says 80 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion is bur­dened with debt and anx­ious about job se­cu­rity

Skid Row in down­town Los Angeles. Skid Row has LAs largest con­cen­tra­tion of home­less peo­ple who reg­u­larly camp on the side­walks in tents and card­board boxes

America is re­gress­ing to have the eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal struc­ture of a de­vel­op­ing na­tion, an MIT econ­o­mist has warned.

Peter Temin says the world’s’ largest econ­omy has roads and bridges that look more like those in Thailand and Venezuela than those in parts of Europe.

In his new book, The Vanishing Middle Class”, re­viewed by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Mr Temin says the frac­ture of US so­ci­ety is lead­ing the mid­dle class to dis­ap­pear.

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a day, more ex­clu­sives, analy­sis and ex­tras.

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The econ­o­mist de­scribes a two-track econ­omy with on the one hand 20 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion that is ed­u­cated and en­joys good jobs and sup­port­ive so­cial net­works.

On the other hand, the re­main­ing 80 per cent, he said, are part of the US low-wage sec­tor, where the world of pos­si­bil­ity has shrunk and peo­ple are bur­dened with debts and anx­ious about job se­cu­rity.

Mr Temin used a model, which was cre­ated by Nobel Prize win­ner Arthur Lewis and de­signed to un­der­stand de­vel­op­ing na­tions, to de­scribe how far in­equal­i­ties have pro­gressed in the US.

When ap­plied to the US, Mr Temin said that the Lewis model ac­tu­ally works”.

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He found that much of the low-wage sec­tor had lit­tle in­flu­ence over pub­lic pol­icy, the high-in­come sec­tor was keep­ing wages down to pro­vide cheap labour, so­cial con­trol was used to pre­vent sub­sis­tence work­ers from chal­leng­ing ex­ist­ing poli­cies and so­cial mo­bil­ity was low.

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An Alexandra town­ship res­i­dent ges­tures and they part is clashes with the Johannesburg Metro Police, South Africa dur­ing a to­tal shut­down of the town­ship due to protest against the lack of ser­vice de­liv­ery or ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties such as ac­cess to wa­ter and elec­tric­ity, hous­ing dif­fi­cul­ties and lack of pub­lic road main­te­nance.

Children eat next to the de­bris of dam­aged homes at Purainiya vil­lage in Nepal’s south­ern Bara dis­trict near Birgunj, fol­low­ing a rare spring storm. The freak storm tore down houses and over­turned cars and trucks as it swept across south­ern Nepal killing at least 27 peo­ple and leav­ing more than 600 in­jured

A foren­sic ex­pert works next to the re­mains of a small plane that crashed near Erzhausen, Germany. Natalia Fileva, chair­woman and co-owner of Russia’s sec­ond largest air­line S7, died when a pri­vate jet she was in crashed near Frankfurt on Sunday, the com­pany said

Ukrainian comic ac­tor and pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Volodymyr Zelenskiy de­liv­ers a speech fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment of the first exit poll in a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion at his cam­paign head­quar­ters in Kiev, Ukraine

Catalan pro-in­de­pen­dence pro­test­ers throw rocks dur­ing a counter-demon­stra­tion against a protest called by Spanish far-right party Vox against the Catalan in­de­pen­dence push in Barcelona. Polls sug­gest Vox, which cam­paigns against il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and radical” fem­i­nism, will be­come the first far-right party to win seats in the Spanish par­lia­ment since the late 70s and could emerge as a king­maker in Spain’s in­creas­ingly frag­mented po­lit­i­cal land­scape

Protests against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika con­tinue in Algeria de­spite the an­nounce­ment on 11 March that he will not run for a fifth Presidential term and post­pone­ment of pres­i­den­tial elec­tions pre­vi­ously sched­uled for 18 April 2019 un­til fur­ther no­tice

Firefighters on lad­ders work to ex­tin­guish a blaze in an of­fice build­ing in Dhaka af­ter a huge fire tore through it, killing at least five peo­ple with many oth­ers feared trapped in the lat­est ma­jor fire to hit the Bangladesh cap­i­tal

A Palestinian pro­tester moves a burn­ing tire dur­ing clashes with Israeli troops near the Jewish set­tle­ment of Beit El, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank

Palestinians sis­ters girls look at a de­stroyed Hamas site close their fam­i­ly’s de­stroyed house af­ter an Israeli air strike in Gaza City. According to re­ports, Israel con­tin­ued to launch air strikes on the Gaza Strip overnight af­ter a rocket al­legedly fired hit a house near Tel Aviv in cen­tral Israel in­jur­ing at least seven peo­ple

US President Donald Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold up a procla­ma­tion recog­nis­ing Israel’s sov­er­eignty over the Golan Heights as Netanyahu ex­its the White House

Abounded ves­sel Hagland Captain in an­chor in the same area as the cruise ship Viking Sky, which had prob­lems on March 23 dur­ing the storm over the west coast of Norway at Hustadvika near Romsdal

Chris Pratt gets slimed while ac­cept­ing the Best Butt-Kicker award for Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom” at the Kids Choice Awards

An aer­ial view shows dam­aged build­ings af­ter an ex­plo­sion at a chem­i­cal plant in Yancheng in China’s east­ern Jiangsu province. Chinese President Xi Jinping or­dered lo­cal gov­ern­ments to pre­vent any more in­dus­trial dis­as­ters af­ter a chem­i­cal plant blast left 47 peo­ple dead, in­jured hun­dreds and flat­tened an in­dus­trial park in the lat­est such cat­a­stro­phe to hit the coun­try

A child is trans­ported on a fridge dur­ing floods af­ter Cyclone Idai, in Buzi, out­side Beira, Mozambique

Indian Hindu devo­tees are sprayed with coloured wa­ter as they cel­e­brate the Holi fes­ti­val at the Kalupur Swaminarayan Temple, in Ahmedabad. Holi, the pop­u­lar Hindu spring fes­ti­val of colours is ob­served in India at the end of the win­ter sea­son on the last full moon of the lu­nar month

Shards of ice pile up on Lake Michigan along the South Haven Pier

Emergency ser­vices stand at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht where a shoot­ing took place. Several peo­ple were wounded on a tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht, with lo­cal me­dia re­port­ing counter-ter­ror­ism po­lice at the scene. Shooting in­ci­dent… Several in­jured peo­ple re­ported. Assistance started,” the Utrecht po­lice Twitter ac­count said. It is a shoot­ing in­ci­dent in a tram. Several trauma he­li­copters have been de­ployed to pro­vide help.”

Coffins of vic­tims of the crashed ac­ci­dent of Ethiopian Airlines are gath­ered dur­ing the mass fu­neral at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The crash of Flight ET 302 min­utes into its flight to Nairobi on March 10 killed 157 peo­ple on­board and caused the world­wide ground­ing of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 air­craft model in­volved in the dis­as­ter

Brenton Tarrant, the man charged in re­la­tion to the Christchurch mas­sacre, makes a sign to the cam­era dur­ing his ap­pear­ance in the Christchurch District Court. A right-wing ex­trem­ist who filmed him­self ram­pag­ing through two mosques in the quiet New Zealand city of Christchurch killing 49 wor­ship­pers ap­peared in court on a mur­der charge. Australian-born 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant ap­peared in the dock wear­ing hand­cuffs and a white prison shirt, sit­ting im­pas­sively as the judge read a sin­gle mur­der charge against him. A raft of fur­ther charges are ex­pected

An in­jured per­son is loaded into an am­bu­lance fol­low­ing a shoot­ing at the Al Noor mosque in New Zealand. At least 49 peo­ple have been killed and dozens more are se­ri­ously in­jured af­ter shoot­ings took place at two mosques in Christchurch. Police have ar­rested an Australian cit­i­zen — a 28-year-old man — and an­other three peo­ple, fol­low­ing the sec­ond shoot­ing

Relatives of crash vic­tims mourn and grieve at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly af­ter take­off on Sunday killing all 157 on board, south-east of Addis Ababa. The French air ac­ci­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion au­thor­ity said that it will han­dle the analy­sis of the black boxes re­trieved from the crash site and they have al­ready ar­rived in France but gave no time frame on how long the analy­sis could take

Men carry a child who was res­cued at the site of a col­lapsed build­ing con­tain­ing a school in Lagos, Nigeria

A crab stuck in plas­tic in Verde Island Passage, Philippines. According to data from the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Filipinos dis­pose 163 mil­lion pieces of sin­gle-use plas­tic sa­chets daily. An un­der­wa­ter ex­plo­ration con­ducted by Greenpeace in Batangas, found sin­gle-use plas­tic sa­chets be­tween, be­neath, and on the corals and seabed of Verde Island Passage, the epi­cen­ter of ma­rine bio­di­ver­sity in the world

Representatives of be­reaved fam­i­lies from the af­fected pre­fec­ture of­fer flow­ers at an al­tar for vic­tims of the 2011 earth­quake and tsunami dis­as­ter dur­ing the 8th na­tional memo­r­ial ser­vice in Tokyo on. On March 11, 2011 a dev­as­tat­ing 9.0-magnitude quake struck un­der the Pacific Ocean and the re­sult­ing tsunami caused wide­spread dam­age and claimed thou­sands of lives.

Activists of Ukrainian na­tion­al­ist par­ties scuf­fle with po­lice of­fi­cers dur­ing a rally to de­mand an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the cor­rup­tion of Ukraine’s armed forces of­fi­cials, in Kiev

Algerian pro­test­ers demon­strate against their ail­ing pres­i­den­t’s bid for a fifth term in power, in Algiers

French gen­darmes ar­rive for evac­u­a­tion as prison guards block the en­trance to the pen­i­ten­tiary cen­ter of Alencon, in Conde-sur-Sarthe, north­west­ern France, two days af­ter a prison in­mate se­ri­ously wounded two guards in a knife at­tack be­fore be­ing de­tained in a po­lice raid. - The prison of Alencon / Conde-sur-Sarthe, where two guards were se­ri­ously stabbed on March 5 by a rad­i­cal­ized de­tainee, was blocked again on March 7 by about a hun­dred prison guards.

Hindu devo­tees par­tic­i­pate in a tra­di­tional ac­tiv­ity known lo­cally as Perang Api” or fire war one day ahead of Nyepi in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara. Devotees in Indonesia will cel­e­brate Nyepi day or the Day of Silence” on March 7, the first day of the Saka Lunar cal­en­dar

...

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5 ☆ 110,563 shares, 2,873 trendiness, 743 words and 7 minutes reading time

DNA reveals origin of Stonehenge builders

The an­ces­tors of the peo­ple who built Stonehenge trav­elled west across the Mediterranean be­fore reach­ing Britain, a study has shown.

Researchers com­pared DNA ex­tracted from Neolithic hu­man re­mains found across Britain with that of peo­ple alive at the same time in Europe.

The Neolithic in­hab­i­tants ap­pear to have trav­elled from Anatolia (modern Turkey) to Iberia be­fore wind­ing their way north.

They reached Britain in about 4,000BC.

Details have been pub­lished in the jour­nal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

The mi­gra­tion to Britain was just one part of a gen­eral, mas­sive ex­pan­sion of peo­ple out of Anatolia in 6,000BC that in­tro­duced farm­ing to Europe.

Before that, Europe was pop­u­lated by small, trav­el­ling groups which hunted an­i­mals and gath­ered wild plants and shell­fish.

One group of early farm­ers fol­lowed the river Danube up into Central Europe, but an­other group trav­elled west across the Mediterranean.

DNA re­veals that Neolithic Britons were largely de­scended from groups who took the Mediterranean route, ei­ther hug­ging the coast or hop­ping from is­land-to-is­land on boats. Some British groups had a mi­nor amount of an­ces­try from groups that fol­lowed the Danube route.

When the re­searchers analysed the DNA of early British farm­ers, they found they most closely re­sem­bled Neolithic peo­ple from Iberia (modern Spain and Portugal). These Iberian farm­ers were de­scended from peo­ple who had jour­neyed across the Mediterranean.

From Iberia, or some­where close, the Mediterranean farm­ers trav­elled north through France. They might have en­tered Britain from the west, through Wales or south-west England. Indeed, ra­dio­car­bon dates sug­gest that Neolithic peo­ple ar­rived mar­gin­ally ear­lier in the west, but this re­mains a topic for fu­ture work.

In ad­di­tion to farm­ing, the Neolithic mi­grants to Britain ap­pear to have in­tro­duced the tra­di­tion of build­ing mon­u­ments us­ing large stones known as mega­liths. Stonehenge in Wiltshire was part of this tra­di­tion.

Although Britain was in­hab­ited by groups of western hunter-gath­er­ers” when the farm­ers ar­rived in about 4,000BC, DNA shows that the two groups did not mix very much at all.

The British hunter-gath­er­ers were al­most com­pletely re­placed by the Neolithic farm­ers, apart from one group in west­ern Scotland, where the Neolithic in­hab­i­tants had el­e­vated lo­cal an­ces­try. This could have come down to the farmer groups sim­ply hav­ing greater num­bers.

We don’t find any de­tectable ev­i­dence at all for the lo­cal British west­ern hunter-gath­erer an­ces­try in the Neolithic farm­ers af­ter they ar­rive,” said co-au­thor Dr Tom Booth, a spe­cial­ist in an­cient DNA from the Natural History Museum in London.

That does­n’t mean they don’t mix at all, it just means that maybe their pop­u­la­tion sizes were too small to have left any kind of ge­netic legacy.”

Co-author Professor Mark Thomas, from UCL, said he also favoured a num­bers game ex­pla­na­tion”.

Professor Thomas said the Neolithic farm­ers had prob­a­bly had to adapt their prac­tices to dif­fer­ent cli­matic con­di­tions as they moved across Europe. But by the time they reached Britain they were al­ready tooled up” and well-pre­pared for grow­ing crops in a north-west European cli­mate.

The study also analysed DNA from these British hunter-gath­er­ers. One of the skele­tons analysed was that of Cheddar Man, whose skele­tal re­mains have been dated to 7,100BC.

He was the sub­ject of a re­con­struc­tion un­veiled at the Natural History Museum last year. DNA sug­gests that, like most other European hunter-gath­er­ers of the time, he had dark skin com­bined with blue eyes.

Genetic analy­sis shows that the Neolithic farm­ers, by con­trast, were paler-skinned with brown eyes and black or dark-brown hair.

Towards the end of the Neolithic, in about 2,450BC, the de­scen­dents of the first farm­ers were them­selves al­most en­tirely re­placed when a new pop­u­la­tion - called the Bell Beaker peo­ple - mi­grated from main­land Europe. So Britain saw two ex­treme ge­netic shifts in the space of a few thou­sand years.

Prof Thomas said that this later event hap­pened af­ter the Neolithic pop­u­la­tion had been in de­cline for some time, both in Britain and across Europe. He cau­tioned against sim­plis­tic ex­pla­na­tions in­vok­ing con­flict, and said the shifts ul­ti­mately came down to economic” fac­tors, about which lifestyles were best suited to ex­ploit the land­scape.

Dr Booth ex­plained: It’s dif­fi­cult to see whether the two [genetic shifts] could have any­thing in com­mon - they’re two very dif­fer­ent kinds of change. There’s spec­u­la­tion that they’re to some ex­tent pop­u­la­tion col­lapses. But the rea­sons sug­gested for those two col­lapses are dif­fer­ent, so it could just be co­in­ci­dence.”

...

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6 ☆ 58,541 shares, 1,907 trendiness, 1292 words and 19 minutes reading time

DHS, FBI say election systems in all 50 states were targeted in 2016

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The cut of their jib —

DHS, FBI say elec­tion sys­tems in all 50 states were tar­geted in 2016

Joint Intelligence Bulletin is­sued in March says Russian hack­ing ef­forts were wide-rang­ing.

Enlarge Voter reg­is­tra­tion data was one of the tar­gets of Russian hack­ing ef­forts in the run-up to the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion—which DHS and FBI an­a­lysts now say went af­ter sys­tems in every state.

A joint in­tel­li­gence bul­letin (JIB) has been is­sued by the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation to state and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties re­gard­ing Russian hack­ing ac­tiv­i­ties dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. While the bul­letin con­tains no new tech­ni­cal in­for­ma­tion, it is the first of­fi­cial re­port to con­firm that the Russian re­con­nais­sance and hack­ing ef­forts in ad­vance of the elec­tion went well be­yond the 21 states con­firmed in pre­vi­ous re­ports.

How they did it (and will likely try again): GRU hack­ers vs. US elec­tions

As reported by the in­tel­li­gence newslet­ter OODA Loop, the JIB stated that, while the FBI and DHS previously ob­served sus­pi­cious or ma­li­cious cy­ber ac­tiv­ity against gov­ern­ment net­works in 21 states that we as­sessed was a Russian cam­paign seek­ing vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and ac­cess to elec­tion in­fra­struc­ture,” new in­for­ma­tion ob­tained by the agen­cies indicates that Russian gov­ern­ment cy­ber ac­tors en­gaged in re­search on—as well as di­rect vis­its to—elec­tion web­sites and net­works in the ma­jor­ity of US states.” While not pro­vid­ing spe­cific de­tails, the bul­letin con­tin­ued, The FBI and DHS as­sess that Russian gov­ern­ment cy­ber ac­tors prob­a­bly con­ducted re­search and re­con­nais­sance against all US states’ elec­tion net­works lead­ing up to the 2016 Presidential elec­tions.”

Further ReadingRussia struck at elec­tion sys­tems and data of 39 US states

DHS-FBI JIBs are un­clas­si­fied doc­u­ments, but they’re usu­ally marked FOUO (for of­fi­cial use only) and are shared through the DHS state and ma­jor met­ro­pol­i­tan Fusion Centers with state and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. The de­tails within the re­port are mostly well-known. The in­for­ma­tion con­tained in this bul­letin is con­sis­tent with what we have said pub­licly and what we have briefed to elec­tion of­fi­cials on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions,” a DHS spokesper­son told Ars. We as­sume the Russian gov­ern­ment re­searched and in some cases tar­geted elec­tion in­fra­struc­ture in all 50 states in an at­tempt to sow dis­cord and in­flu­ence the 2016 elec­tion.”

In fact, DHS Assistant Secretary Jeanette Manfra told the Senate Homeland Security Committee in April of 2018 that Russia had likely at least per­formed re­con­nais­sance on elec­tion in­fra­struc­ture in all 50 states. The bul­letin raises the con­fi­dence in that es­ti­mate, how­ever, say­ing:

Russian cy­ber ac­tors in the sum­mer of 2016 con­ducted on­line re­search and re­con­nais­sance to iden­tify vul­ner­a­ble data­bases, user­names, and pass­words in web­pages of a broader num­ber of state and lo­cal web­sites than pre­vi­ously iden­ti­fied, bring­ing the num­ber of states known to be re­searched by Russian ac­tors to greater than 40. Despite gaps in our data where some states ap­pear to be un­touched by Russian ac­tiv­i­ties, we have mod­er­ate con­fi­dence that Russian ac­tors likely con­ducted at least re­con­nais­sance against all US states based on the me­thod­i­cal na­ture of their re­search. This newly avail­able in­for­ma­tion cor­rob­o­rates our pre­vi­ous as­sess­ment and en­hances our un­der­stand­ing of the scale and scope of Russian op­er­a­tions to un­der­stand and ex­ploit state and lo­cal elec­tion net­works.

The DHS and the FBI have been crit­i­cized in the past for the lack of in­for­ma­tion made pub­licly avail­able about elec­tion-fo­cused hack­ing and in­for­ma­tion op­er­a­tions. In December of 2016, the DHS and the FBI re­leased a joint analy­sis re­port de­tail­ing broad Russian ma­li­cious cy­ber ac­tiv­ity” that the agen­cies re­ferred to as Grizzly Steppe,” which largely con­sisted of re­stat­ing pri­vate sec­tor re­search find­ings. An enhanced analy­sis” of that ac­tiv­ity was re­leased in February of 2017, but it did lit­tle to im­prove on the orig­i­nal other than giv­ing some ad­di­tional in­tru­sion de­tec­tion sys­tem rules to watch for sim­i­lar hack­ing at­tempts. The sec­ond draft re­ported that the DHS had observed net­work scan­ning ac­tiv­ity that is known as re­con­nais­sance” prior to the 2016 elec­tion; it also in­cluded some generic in­for­ma­tion about com­mon re­con­nais­sance and mal­ware de­liv­ery tech­niques.

While the lat­est JIB does­n’t pro­vide any more real tech­ni­cal in­for­ma­tion about how sys­tems were at­tacked in 2016, it does go into some de­tail in de­scrib­ing the me­thod­i­cal re­con­nais­sance ap­proach Russian gov­ern­ment cy­ber ac­tors” took in prob­ing for po­ten­tial vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in elec­tion sys­tems. Between June and October of 2016, the group as­so­ci­ated with the elec­tion hack­ing researched web­sites and in­for­ma­tion re­lated to elec­tions in at least 39 states and ter­ri­to­ries, ac­cord­ing to newly avail­able FBI in­for­ma­tion,” the bul­letin states. The same ac­tors also di­rectly vis­ited web­sites in at least 30 states, mostly elec­tion-re­lated gov­ern­ment sites at both the state and lo­cal level—some of which over­lap with the 39 re­searched states.”

The actors” per­formed their re­search in al­pha­bet­i­cal or­der by state name,” the bul­letin states, suggesting that at least the ini­tial re­search was not tar­geted at spe­cific states.” The re­search fo­cused on Secretary of State voter reg­is­tra­tion and elec­tion re­sults sites, but it also drilled down on some lo­cal elec­tion of­fi­cials’ web­pages. As they ac­cessed sites, ac­tors regularly at­tempted to iden­tify and ex­ploit SQL data­base vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in web­servers and data­bases.”

The FBI and DHS an­a­lysts who au­thored the JIB noted that they had no in­for­ma­tion on how many of those at­tempts were suc­cess­ful, aside from two in­stances when Russian gov­ern­ment op­er­a­tors in June 2016 ac­cessed voter reg­is­tra­tion files and a sam­ple bal­lot from a US county web­site.”

The new in­for­ma­tion that spurred this JIB did not, how­ever, pro­vide any ad­di­tional in­sight into the Russian group’s at­tempts to scan for vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in, and hack into, the net­works of gov­ern­ment agen­cies in at least 21 states,” as the bul­letin notes. Some of the de­tails of that ef­fort were pro­vided in the in­dict­ment of Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of­fi­cers de­liv­ered by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe—at least one state had voter data stolen, though there was no in­di­ca­tion that data was tam­pered with.

The bul­letin in­cluded no new tech­ni­cal data for de­fend­ers to use. But its pur­pose is fairly clear—it was meant to get of­fi­cials in every state on board to pre­pare for the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tions now. Since 2016,” the DHS spokesper­son said, we have built re­la­tion­ships and im­proved threat in­for­ma­tion shar­ing at every level—we are work­ing with all 50 states and more than 1,400 lo­cal ju­ris­dic­tions, and are dou­bling down on these ef­forts as we work with elec­tion of­fi­cials to pro­tect 2020.”

Much of the re­spon­si­bil­ity for that co­or­di­na­tion is placed on DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which is, ac­cord­ing to re­cent com­ments by its di­rec­tor, Chris Krebs, ramp­ing up elec­tion se­cu­rity ef­forts in ad­vance of the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cy­cle. The agency got an ad­di­tional bud­get of $33 mil­lion for Fiscal Year 2019 from Congress specif­i­cally for elec­tion se­cu­rity ef­forts. Krebs told re­porters in February that the agency is institutionalizing our elec­tion se­cu­rity ef­forts” and that as our work­force con­tin­ues to grow, and it will, our num­bers head­ing up to the 2020 elec­tion will only grow,” NextGov’s Frank Konkel re­ported.

As far as ac­tive mea­sures go, the JIBs au­thors ad­vised state and lo­cal of­fi­cials to fo­cus on bet­ter op­er­a­tional se­cu­rity and ba­sic web­site se­cu­rity prac­tices. In an­tic­i­pa­tion of the 2020 US Presidential Election,” the DHS and FBI bul­letin au­thors warned, states should limit the avail­abil­ity of in­for­ma­tion about elec­toral sys­tems or ad­min­is­tra­tive processes and se­cure their web­sites and data­bases which could be ex­ploited by ma­li­cious ac­tors.”

Sean Gallagher

Sean is Ars Technica’s IT and National Security Editor. A for­mer Navy of­fi­cer, sys­tems ad­min­is­tra­tor, and net­work sys­tems in­te­gra­tor with 20 years of IT jour­nal­ism ex­pe­ri­ence, he lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland.

...

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7 57,679 shares, 4 trendiness, 43 words and 1 minutes reading time

An actress lived for decades in this New York City apartment -- for $28 a month

New York City is hugely ex­pen­sive. But un­til March of this year, one woman was lucky enough to oc­cupy a two-bed­room apart­ment in Greenwich Village — one of the city’s most de­sir­able neigh­bor­hoods — for the as­ton­ish­ing rent of $28.43 a month.

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8 56,535 shares, 177 trendiness, 305 words and 3 minutes reading time

LeBron James Opened a School That Was Considered an Experiment. It’s Showing Promise.

The aca­d­e­mic re­sults are early, and at 240, the sam­ple size of stu­dents is small, but the in­au­gural classes of third and fourth graders at I Promise posted ex­tra­or­di­nary re­sults in their first set of dis­trict as­sess­ments. Ninety per­cent met or ex­ceeded in­di­vid­ual growth goals in read­ing and math, out­pac­ing their peers across the dis­trict.

These kids are do­ing an un­be­liev­able job, bet­ter than we all ex­pected,” Mr. James said in a tele­phone in­ter­view hours be­fore a game in Los Angeles for the Lakers. When we first started, peo­ple knew I was open­ing a school for kids. Now peo­ple are go­ing to re­ally un­der­stand the lack of ed­u­ca­tion they had be­fore they came to our school. People are go­ing to fi­nally un­der­stand what goes on be­hind our doors.”

Unlike other schools con­nected to celebri­ties, I Promise is not a char­ter school run by a pri­vate op­er­a­tor but a pub­lic school op­er­ated by the dis­trict. Its pop­u­la­tion is 60 per­cent black, 15 per­cent English-language learn­ers and 29 per­cent spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion stu­dents. Three-quarters of its fam­i­lies meet the low-in­come thresh­old to re­ceive help from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The school’s $2 mil­lion bud­get is funded by the dis­trict, roughly the same amount per pupil that it spends in other schools. But Mr. James’s foun­da­tion has pro­vided about $600,000 in fi­nan­cial sup­port for ad­di­tional teach­ing staff to help re­duce class sizes, and an ad­di­tional hour of af­ter-school pro­gram­ming and tu­tors.

The school is un­usual in the re­sources and at­ten­tion it de­votes to par­ents, which ed­u­ca­tors con­sider a key to its suc­cess. Mr. James’s foun­da­tion cov­ers the cost of all ex­penses in the school’s fam­ily re­source cen­ter, which pro­vides par­ents with G. E.D. prepa­ra­tion, work ad­vice, health and le­gal ser­vices, and even a quar­terly bar­ber­shop.

...

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9 55,149 shares, 12 trendiness, 389 words and 3 minutes reading time

How to Tell a Raven From a Crow

How to Tell a Raven From a Crow

Get to Know These 15 Common Birds

This au­dio story is brought to you by Bird­Note, a part­ner of The National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on pub­lic ra­dio sta­tions na­tion­wide.

You’re out­side, en­joy­ing a sunny day when a shadow at your feet causes you to look up. A large, black bird flies over and lands in a nearby tree. You won­der: is that a crow or a raven?

These two species, Common Ravens and American Crows, over­lap widely through­out North America, and they look quite sim­i­lar. But with a bit of prac­tice, you can tell them apart.

You prob­a­bly know that ravens are larger, the size of a Red-tailed Hawk. Ravens of­ten travel in pairs, while crows are seen in larger groups. Also, watch the bird’s tail as it flies over­head. The crow’s tail feath­ers are ba­si­cally the same length, so when the bird spreads its tail, it opens like a fan. Ravens, how­ever, have longer mid­dle feath­ers in their tails, so their tail ap­pears wedge-shaped when open.

Listen closely to the birds’ calls. Crows give a caw­ing sound. But ravens pro­duce a lower croak­ing sound.

We’re back look­ing up at that tree. Now can you tell? Is this an American Crow or a Common Raven?

That’s a raven. The bird calls you hear on BirdNote come from the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. To hear them again, be­gin with a visit to our web­site, Bird­Note.org.

Common Ravens are much less com­mon than American Crows in the Eastern United States. Out West, it’s a toss up. (Chihuahuan Ravens and Fish Crows are com­mon in west­ern states, but they’re a whole dif­fer­ent ID headache.) Look for ravens for­ag­ing in pairs; crows are highly so­cia­ble and will hang out in mur­ders and com­mu­nal roosts.

Podcast cred­its:

Adapted by Dennis Paulson from a script writ­ten by Frances Wood.

Calls pro­vided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Ambient track American Raven recorded by R. S. Little, American Crow recorded by G.A. Keller.

Forest am­bi­ent and fea­tured raven recorded by C. Peterson

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

© 2012 Tune In to Nature.org     September 2012     Narrator: Michael Stein

...

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132,562 Cases Reported In The Public Way Since 2008

By many mea­sures, San Francisco is a world-class city. It’s a tourist mecca that boasts 25 mil­lion vis­i­tors each year. It’s home to won­ders of the mod­ern world — the Golden Gate Bridge and its iconic ca­ble cars — as well as pow­er­ful pro­gres­sive politi­cians, in­clud­ing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Governor Gavin Newsom, and U. S. Senator (and pres­i­den­tial hope­ful) Kamala Harris.

The broader San Francisco Bay Area can also claim Silicon Valley and its boom­ing econ­omy.

But the city it­self is in trou­ble. Today, San Francisco hosts an es­ti­mated home­less pop­u­la­tion of 7,500 peo­ple. Affluent sec­tions of the city have be­come dan­ger­ous with open-air drug use, tens of thou­sands of dis­carded nee­dles, and, sadly, hu­man fe­ces.

Since 2011, there have been at least 118,352 re­ported in­stances of hu­man fe­cal mat­ter on city streets.

New mayor, London Breed, won elec­tion by promis­ing to clean things up. However, con­di­tions are the same or worse. Last year, the num­ber of re­ports spiked to an all-time high at 28,084. In first quar­ter 2019, the pace con­tin­ued with 6,676 in­stances of hu­man waste in the pub­lic way.

We reached out to San Francisco Mayor London Breed for com­ment re­gard­ing our find­ings and the con­tin­ued tra­jec­tory of the hu­man waste prob­lem. This col­umn will be up­dated with any re­sponse or com­ment.

Our au­di­tors at OpenTheBooks.com plot­ted all re­ports of hu­man waste since 2011 us­ing lat­i­tude and lon­gi­tude ad­dress co­or­di­nates of all cases closed by the San Francisco Department of Public Works.

Using our in­ter­ac­tive map, just click a pin and scroll down to re­view the re­sults (all closed cases by neigh­bor­hood) ren­dered in the chart be­neath the map. Available data is the re­sult of res­i­dent re­port­ing to the city’s 311 dis­patch­ers dur­ing the years 2011-2019.

There were 118 city neigh­bor­hoods af­fected. However, 72-percent of all cases since 2008 were re­ported in just ten neigh­bor­hoods: 1. Tenderloin (30,863); 2. South of Market (23,599); 3. Mission (19,150); 4. Civic Center (6,232); 5. Mission Dolores (4,096); 6. Lower Nob Hill (3,654); 7. Potrero Hill (2,489); 8. Showplace Square (2,022); 9. North Beach (1,826); and 10. Financial District (1,810).

Thirty ZIP codes in the city were af­fected. However, just four lo­ca­tions had the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of hu­man fe­ces — be­tween 10,000 and 23,000 events each.

Since 2008, over 23,800 cases of hu­man waste were re­ported in the heart of San Francisco. There were 13 re­ports of hu­man fe­ces in front of City Hall; 17 events at the U. S. Marshals of­fice; and 67 re­ports at the Tenderloin po­lice sta­tion on Eddy Street.

Affected neigh­bor­hoods in­clude Civic Center, Hayes Valley, Tenderloin, Cathedral Hill, Lower Haight, and Downtown/ Union Square. Avoid the in­ter­sec­tion of Eddy Street and Jones Street — this ad­dress was the third all-time with 366 cases.

Human waste was re­ported 19,275 times within this promi­nent San Francisco ZIP code. Roughly one in every three cases city­wide oc­curred in the two ZIP codes of 94102 and 94103 — they bor­der each other. Neighborhoods af­fected in­clude Mission, South of Market, Mission Dolores, Showplace Square, and Mint Hill. Avoid the ad­dress 786 Minna Street, as it ranked sixth all-time with nearly 300 events since 2008.

Since 2008, there were 13,450 in­stances of hu­man waste re­ported. That’s an av­er­age of 135 re­ports per month for the last 99 months in this area. Neighborhoods af­fected in­clude Noe Valley, Peralta Heights, Mission, Potrero Hill, Dolores Heights, and Bernal Heights. The in­ter­sec­tion of Mission Street and Sycamore Street was the all-time high­est ad­dress with over 930 events — and 20 Sycamore Street was sec­ond all-time with an­other 450 cases.

A pres­ti­gious area home to such land­marks as the San Francisco Maritime National Park, Great American Music Hall, The Regency Ballroom, and the Liholiho Yacht Club. There were 11,287 in­stances of hu­man waste within this ZIP code. Neighborhoods af­fected in­clude Tenderloin, Cathedral Hill, Lower Nob Hill, Polk Gulch, Russian Hill, and Pacific Heights.

The city has taken steps to crack down on the cri­sis. Over the last year, the Department of Public Works in­sti­tuted what the San Francisco Chronicle called a Poop Patrol.” Consisting of five team­mates, the Chronicle es­ti­mated each em­ployee earned a hefty $184,000 in pay, perquisites and pen­sion ben­e­fits.

Using this pay­roll in­for­ma­tion, we quan­ti­fied the tax­payer cost of each hu­man waste case last year: $32.75. And that’s not in­clud­ing the sunk costs in trucks, fuel, and equip­ment such as the steam clean­ing unit.

At the turn of the 20th cen­tury, San Francisco was called The Paris of the West.” Locals were more hum­ble and self-ti­tled San Francisco as the Golden City. Pardon the ex­pres­sion, but lately there has been a brownout in the Bay Area.

San Francisco politi­cians have been among the most vo­cal pro­po­nents of re­duc­ing in­equal­ity across the na­tion. That’s a no­ble en­deavor, but per­haps, their strug­gle should start closer to home.

...

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