Rolls-Royce Cullinan configurator delivers a near-bespoke experience

Earlier this month we configured a McLaren Senna with the assistance of two representatives of McLaren Special Operations. In that piece we wrote about few chances there are for the online “shopper” to get a feel for the coachbuilt experience; the Ferrari …

Read more from Rolls-Royce Cullinan…

Is the FBI Trying to Bolster Its War on Cryptography?

Christopher WrayIf you were to take law enforcement at its word, you would believe that the encryption techniques that secure our data actually end up serving criminals who would do us harm. For the past few years, the FBI and other authorities have revived the “War on Crypto” because they say it prevents them from accessing devices that they need to bring killers and terrorists to justice.

FBI director Christopher Wray has been fond of claiming that the Bureau was locked out of some 7,775 devices last year. In January, he argued that “being unable to access nearly 7,800 devices in a single year is a major public safety issue.”

It turns out that the FBI wildly inflated those figures, according to the Washington Post. The Bureau still doesn’t know the exact number of devices that have apparently been so central in the miscarriage of justice. If previous numbers are to be believed—which have hovered around 700 to 800 devices—the true number is probably closer to 1,000.

The FBI told the Post that “programming errors” were responsible for the over-counting, since they were apparently pulling their numbers from three separate databases. But that excuse seems awfully convenient, given the agency’s recent antagonism towards security technologies.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) issued a scathing letter to the FBI in response to their admission of error, chiding that because the FBI is “struggling with basic arithmetic” it should “not be in the business of dictating the design of advanced cryptographic algorithms.” He pointedly noted that such a major miscalculation could either be the product of “sloppy work” or something more nefarious: “pushing a legislative agenda.”

Could this “accidental miscounting” have been a purposeful ploy to undermine strong encryption? A review of the FBI’s recent public and behind-the-scenes activities certainly makes it look that way. The agency has been engaged in an all-out public war on encryption using emotional rhetoric to push for the access into our devices they have long sought.

Encryption technologies have been a chief bugaboo of America’s top feds for about as long as these security technologies have been available to the public, which is to say for most of you and I’s experiences on the internet. In the 90’s, authorities argued that strong encryption techniques were a kind of munition, and tried to prevent computer scientists from deploying security measures. Thankfully, the computer scientists won the previous battles over public-key encryption.

But the question of device encryption has taken on a new political urgency following the high-profile attacks in San Bernardino in December of 2015. With the so-called “Going Dark” problem, authorities argue that the measures that keep our phones secure can prevent them from accessing critical data in an investigation. Thus, they want technology companies to build special government access into our phones, called a “backdoor.”

It is easy to sympathize with investigators who work to bring criminals to justice. But unfortunately, with the San Bernardino incident, it looks like FBI leadership was more motivated by a general antipathy to encryption than a specific need to access particular data.

Consider the specifics of the case. Authorities could have discreetly and respectfully approached engineers for solutions to access suspected terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook’s locked iPhone. After all, the FBI was eventually able to access the phone through a technical tool purchased by a private vendor. No across-the-board security-limiting technology changes needed.

But that’s not what the FBI did. Instead, it engaged in a public-relations blitz against Apple to argue that government operatives needed a backdoor into all of our devices so that they could access data at their leisure. The feds pushed this issue all the way through the courts, attempting to litigate a backdoor, until it eventually turned tail when it was able to access the data without it.

An inspector general’s report from March finds that the FBI “may not have been interested in researching all possible solutions” and “[delayed seeking] and obtaining vendor assistance that ultimately proved fruitful.” One Bureau employee told the IG that the San Bernardino case was viewed as a “poster child” for the Going Dark crusade. As Sen. Wyden’s letter points out, the report suggests that “the FBI was more interested in establishing a powerful legal precedent than gaining access to the terrorist’s iPhone.”

Other evidence corroborates the theory that the intelligence community used Apple as a convenient foil to promote their crusade against encryption as well. In August of 2015, a top lawyer for US intelligence urged authorities to wait for “a terrorist attack of criminal event where strong encryption can be shown to have hindered law enforcement.” Officials could then take advantage of that tragedy to pull on America’s heart strings and put pressure on legislators to finally mandate the backdoors for which they have long salivated. Just a few months later, San Bernardino presented a perfect opportunity.

Thankfully, there has not been another “San Bernardino” that authorities could exploit to promote their political ends. Perhaps this is why the FBI turned to numbers, instead. Without a newsworthy event to point to, FBI director Wray may have found the sky-high number of reported locked phones to be a convenient rhetorical fallback.

But even the lower figure deserves our scrutiny. The mere presence of a locked device in some investigation on its own is not very compelling. Perhaps there is no relevant information on the device. Maybe the device belonged to some suspect who was later cleared. And how many devices are associated with a single case? The lower figure that the FBI provided likely contains many such instances.

What we need to know is how many investigations were significantly hindered because authorities could not access specific data on a specific device. It’s relatively rare for people to solely store data on their phone, given the rise of cloud computing. Much inference can be gleaned from metadata, which is often unencrypted. And perhaps the evidence on any particular device is redundant with other evidence, anyway.

Wyden demanded answers to these and related questions in his blistering rebuke to the FBI. Until we have more information on how many cases fall into this narrower and relevant bucket, we should take the FBI’s figures with a grain a salt.

The FBI should not have inflated the number of devices that they say they cannot access. This egregious error would be especially contemptible if it was a naked lie in pursuit of a policy goal. But even if those figures were true, it wouldn’t really change the Going Dark debate. Undermining encryption would make us all less secure, no matter what the justification for doing this. The FBI’s recent “miscalculations” and behind-the-scenes antagonism toward security technologies suggest that the agency is unfortunately far from internalizing these truths.

Read more from Reason.com…

An Overdose Is Not a Murder

A couple of years ago at a motel in Columbus, a young woman shared a bag of heroin with her father. Both of them nodded off. Because she woke up and he did not, she was sentenced to three years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

That arbitrary outcome encapsulates the senseless cruelty of a strategy that in recent years has gained favor among prosecutors across the country: treating opioid-related deaths as homicides, regardless of intent. The resulting prosecutions not only are manifestly unjust but could make fatal overdoses more likely by discouraging bystanders from seeking help.

A recent New York Times investigation identified more than 1,000 arrests or prosecutions related to accidental opioid deaths in 15 states from 2015 through 2017, a period when the annual number of cases almost doubled. According to a 2017 report from the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), annual press mentions of such prosecutions more than tripled between 2011 and 2016, from 363 to 1,178. DPA found examples in all but four states.

Twenty states have laws that specifically address drug-induced homicide, DPA senior staff attorney Lindsay LaSalle notes in the report, while others “charge the offense of drug delivery resulting in death under various felony-murder, depraved heart, or involuntary or voluntary manslaughter laws.” Possible prison sentences range from two years to life. Under federal law, drug distribution resulting in death or serious injury is punishable by 20 years to life.

Although legislators and prosecutors may portray such cases as a way to punish callous, death-dealing drug traffickers, the defendant is usually someone close to the decedent. As a practical matter, that makes sense, because the higher up you go in the distribution chain, the harder it is to prove a connection between the defendant and a particular consumer.

The upshot is that a defendant’s role in “distributing” a drug may be limited to buying it for someone else, arranging a purchase, or sharing a stash. When money changes hands, the dealers are often selling just enough to finance their own habits.

Looking at cases in Pennsylvania during the first half of 2017, the Times found that three-quarters of the defendants were themselves drug users. Last year WITI, the Fox station in Milwaukee, reviewed the 100 most recent prosecutions for drug-induced homicide in Wisconsin and found that “just 11 defendants were higher-level drug dealers,” while the rest were friends, relatives, or “low-level street dealers.”

A woman in Minnesota got four years for sharing a fentanyl patch with her fiancé. A New York woman got six years for mailing a friend some heroin at his request while he was on a business trip in Chicago. A Louisiana man got a life sentence for using heroin with his girlfriend.

“Many law enforcement officers hope that the cases act as a deterrent,” the Times notes. But it may not be the kind of deterrent they have in mind.

Because prompt medical attention is crucial in saving people from potentially fatal opioid overdoses, 40 states and the District Columbia have enacted “911 Good Samaritan” laws that shield bystanders from some drug-related charges when they call for help. But those laws do not apply to homicide charges.

A 2002 analysis of drug-induced homicide prosecutions in New Jersey found that most of the defendants were friends of the decedents and “in some cases the people who sought emergency care for them.” A Minnesota woman is serving a six-year prison sentence because she let her husband take methadone prescribed for her, even though she called 911 and tried to save his life. A woman who was charged with drug-induced homicide in Illinois because she helped her husband buy heroin was the person who called 911 when he overdosed.

“The most common reason people cite for not calling 911 in the event of an overdose is fear of police involvement,” DPA’s LaSalle notes. “The only behavior that is deterred by drug-induced homicide prosecutions is the seeking of life-saving medical assistance.”

© Copyright 2018 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

Read more from Reason.com…

Russia faces UN criticism over role in downing of Malaysian jet

Russia faced harsh criticism at the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday for its role in the 2014 downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet and for its continuing involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.

Days after an investigation by Australia and the Netherlands found that a Russian missile struck the plane carrying 298 people, many of them Dutch citizens, Stef Blok, the Netherlands’ minister of foreign affairs, said that Russia was continuing to “spread impossible alternative theories” about the crash and should acknowledge its role.

“No state has the right to remain silent,” Blok said. “Quite the contrary, it has a duty to cooperate constructively, to shed light on the truth, not to obscure it with continuous mist. I call on the Russian Federation to take its responsibility.”

Echoing comments made by President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg last week, Russia’s U.N. envoy, Vasily Nebenzya, said his country could only trust investigations in which it is a “fully fledged participant.”

Putin rejected accusations that the Russian military bears responsibility for the crash, despite findings that the plane was brought down by a Buk missile belonging to an anti-aircraft missile brigade of the Russian army based in the western city of Kursk. Russia backs separatists in eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea in 2014.

“There are different versions of this tragedy, but no one takes them into account,” Putin told the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said his country and Australia, which also lost many of its citizens on the flight, would pursue Russia over its violation of international law, adding that he expects Moscow to “fully cooperate” with the investigation.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was flying over eastern Ukraine en route to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, when it was shot down. The episode sparked Western sanctions on Russia for its support of the separatists. The results of the investigation are fueling tensions with Europe in the wake of a nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russian spy in England.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the U.S. supports Australia and the Netherlands in their findings and called on Russia to withdraw from Crimea.

“Until Russia ends its outrageous actions in Ukraine, the position of the United States will not waver,” she said. “U.S. sanctions related to the invasion of Crimea will continue.”

———

(With assistance from Henry Meyer and Joost Akkermans.)

———

© 2018 Bloomberg News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Read more from American Military News…

Pizza Place Employee Defends Himself From Mask Wearing Attacker

A lot of businesses have policies against their employees being armed. Yes, I know there are a lot of reasons for these policies, but the reality is that they don’t do much except disarm those employees and prevent them from defending themselves.

As a result, a lot of employees ignore those laws. They figure their life is more important than their job, an argument I wouldn’t be able to disagree with even if I were so inclined, which I’m not.

I’m not sure whether the Little Caesars in Holly Hill, Florida has such a policy, but at least one employee was glad he was armed.

The Little Caesars employee was closing up shop when a man in a bloody demon mask approached and attacked him. The masked man repeatedly hit the employee with a large piece of wood, knocked him to ground, and attempted to stab him. During the assault, the employee managed to draw his legally concealed firearm shoot the masked man.

The employee then called police and requested medical assistance for himself and his attacker.

“Please help me,” the employee told a 911 dispatcher. “He tried to stab me with a pair of scissors. He hit me in the face with a big piece of wood. I’m bleeding all over the place.”

Police arrived a few minutes later and rushed the masked man to Halifax Health Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. Holly Hill police Chief Steve Aldrich praised the employee for being able to effectively defend himself.

“As soon as he exited the building, he was immediately attacked by an individual that was wearing a scary clown mask and brandishing a wooden stick,” Aldrich told WFTV. “Even though he’s being attacked he’s able to pull out a concealed firearm he has and fires multiple rounds at the suspect. I’m glad that he was able to defend himself and that he’s OK. It’s just unfortunate that this whole episode occurred.”

There are no charges pending against the employee, thankfully, and the bad guy is dead as a doornail.

However, it appears they still don’t know who the attacker is or what exactly his motivation for the attack was. There’s no indication that robbery was the motive, nor does it appear to have been someone the victim knew. It’s just kind of a bizarre, brutal attack that was cut short by a citizen carrying a firearm.

Funny how that shakes out, isn’t it?

There has been no mention of the employee being fired over carrying a gun, so that’s a bit of good news. I get angry when businesses fire people who defend their own lives in spite of a store policy that would have gotten them killed. Again, I understand the reasons many of those businesses have those policies, but that doesn’t make them any less stupid.

Cases like this illustrate just why they’re dumb. Here is a man who would have been murdered in a brutal attack had he been disarmed by store policy. Instead, he’s alive and recovering from the attack while his attacker…well, not so much.

Folks, it can’t be said any clearer: guns save lives.

The post Pizza Place Employee Defends Himself From Mask Wearing Attacker appeared first on Bearing Arms.

Read more from Bearing Arm…

Army veteran reunited with service dog stolen in Downey and found in Anaheim

Apolonio Munoz III was elated when police officers called him Tuesday morning and said someone reported seeing his 10-year-old pitbull mix, Marcee, running around in an Anaheim park. A Downey police officer drove to Anaheim and, with the assistance of an …

Read more from Someone Reported…

Spicy Weekend

Friday

A great day. I used to go to Mr Chow constantly, but then I stopped because it was too loud. I didn’t go for years. Then I happened to be slouching by on Thursday and went into the bar for a Diet Coke. The bartender was friendly. The captains were super-friendly. Theo, the dean of waiters, was ultra-friendly and hugged me. So tonight I came back and had one of the tastiest dinners of my life. Spicy. But magnificent. Spicy fried beef. Spicy ribs. Spicy candied walnuts. Spicy chicken with cashews. Or maybe walnuts again.

I was in heaven. It was still fantastically noisy but I was happy. I drove home, which is only a five-minute ride from Mr Chow. At the corner of Rodeo and Carmelita, some drunken jerk ran the stop sign and came within inches of crashing into me. He was in an immense white Lexus.

I swerved and avoided him but that was too close. Thank you God for sparing me once again. When I count the number of times God has spared me, it’s almost infinite. In fact it is infinite. I never had to get shot at like my pal, hero Larry Lissitzyn.

When I got home, wifey and I watched an incredibly creepy and scary noir story about a conspiracy in 1928 Weimar Berlin. Every single person in the story was crazy one way or another. And killers. But the atmosphere was compelling. Lots of shiny wood and people turning to crime to support themselves.

Then popcorn and then sleep. I dreamed I was at dinner with a charming friend who has the most voracious appetite of any person I have ever known. He eating all of my Mr Chow ribs. I was really upset. Then I dreamed I was in an old age home with my brilliant friend, the law scholar Arthur Best. We were both depressed as hell but Arthur was making jokes about it.

He’s a funny guy. We’ve been friends since 1962.

Saturday

Dinner again at Mr Chow. This time with a hilarious friend trying to explain block chains to me. It was as if he were talking about flying saucers. It was better than lunch today though. There I dined with a tall, charming woman whose mother had died 24 hours earlier. She was in shock. It’s too cruel to lose the ones we love.

The food tonight was ultra-spicy. Afterwards, I drove home very carefully. Beverly Hills is a beautiful neighborhood but has the worst drivers in the world. Why? Because they feel too entitled to obey the law. It’s that simple.

Wifey and I watched the end of the endless series about Weimar Berlin. It’s called “Babylon Berlin.” With all my heart, I recommend you not watch it. Too depressing. Too long. The plot is a thousand times too complex. But the people who made the sets should all get Oscars or Emmys or something. Still, don’t waste your time.

Monday

Memorial Day. I swam and thanked God for the brave men and women who were shot out of the sky, who got malaria, who got blown to pieces by mines, who were eaten by sharks, who were worked to death by the Japanese. I thanked God for my Grandfather Dave who fought in the Philippines where capture meant death. For my Silver and Bronze Star father in law, Dale Denman, Jr., hero of Germany and Vietnam. For my uncle Bob Denman, who fought hand to hand at Cho-Sin. For the families of those who died or came home wounded badly or crazed. How many have been in terror so I could swim in my pool every day? How many so I can vote? How many so I can say Kaddish in Hebrew for my parents? How many so that the media can whine and bitch all day and night? What can we ever do to thank them? I’m going to my checkbook to write a check to Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. TAPS. That’s what I’m doing. TAPS.ORG.

God bless the families of those who died for us bums back home.

LOVE TO THEM ALL.

 

The post Spicy Weekend appeared first on The American Spectator.

Read more from The American Spectator…