National: Flame: Massive cyber-attack discovered, researchers say | BBC A complex targeted cyber-attack that collected private data from countries such as Israel and Iran has been uncovered, researchers have said. Russian security firm Kaspersky Labs told the BBC they believed the malware, known as Flame, had been operating since August 2010. The company said it believed the…
A complex targeted cyber-attack that collected private data from countries such as Israel and Iran has been uncovered, researchers have said. Russian security firm Kaspersky Labs told the BBC they believed the malware, known as Flame, had been operating since August 2010. The company said it believed the attack was state-sponsored, but could not be sure of its exact origins. They described Flame as “one of the most complex threats ever discovered”. Research into the attack was carried out in conjunction with the UN’s International Telecommunication Union. They had been investigating another malware threat, known as Wiper, which was reportedly deleting data on machines in western Asia. In the past, targeted malware – such as Stuxnet – has targeted nuclear infrastructure in Iran. Others like Duqu have sought to infiltrate networks in order to steal data. This new threat appears not to cause physical damage, but to collect huge amounts of sensitive information, said Kaspersky’s chief malware expert Vitaly Kamluk.
Voters who click on President Barack Obama’s campaign website are likely to start seeing display ads promoting his re-election bid on their Facebook pages and other sites they visit. Voters searching Google for information about Mitt Romney may notice a 15-second ad promoting the Republican presidential hopeful the next time they watch a video online. The 2012 election could be decided by which campaign is best at exploiting voters’ Internet data. The Romney and Obama campaigns are spending heavily on television ads and other traditional tools to convey their messages. But strategists say the most important breakthrough this year is the campaigns’ use of online data to raise money, share information and persuade supporters to vote. The practice, known as “microtargeting,’’ has been a staple of product marketing. Now it’s facing the greatest test of its political impact in the race for the White House. “The story of this presidential campaign will be how both sides are using data and algorithms and personalization and math in their marketing,’’ said Adam Berke, president of the digital retargeting company AdRoll. “The promise and beauty of it is that it’s highly measurable — it’s easy to collect data and see what’s resonating and not resonating with voters.’’
The financial firepower that fueled the rise of a network of conservative advocacy groups now pummeling Democrats with television ads can be traced, in part, to Box 72465 in the Boulder Hills post office, on a desert road on the northern outskirts of Phoenix. That’s the address for the Center to Protect Patient Rights, an organization with ties to Charles and David H. Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankroll a number of conservative organizations. During the 2010 midterm election, the center sent more than $55 million to 26 GOP-allied groups, tax filings show, funding opaque outfits such as American Future Fund, 60 Plus and Americans for Job Security that were behind a coordinated campaign against Democratic congressional candidates. The money from the center provided a sizable share of the war chest for those attacks, which included mailers in California, robo-calls in Florida and TV ads that inundated a pocket of northeastern Iowa. The organizations it financed poured at least $46 million into election-related communications in the 2010 cycle, among other expenditures.
By again tinkering with Pennsylvania’s two-month-old voter-ID law, Gov. Corbett’s administration only makes it more obvious that the hastily imposed statute is as flawed as it is unwarranted. Each time state officials relax requirements for voters to document their identity — as they did last week, for the second time — they call into question the paper-thin reasoning of Corbett and Republican legislators who say they supported the law to thwart a specific type of voter fraud that they could not prove. The governor and his aides, including state elections chief Carol Aichele, insist that the requirement to show government-issued photo identification is needed to prevent what is a virtually nonexistent problem in the state — voter impersonation. Yet there they were last week, announcing that the state would waive the mandate that voters must present a birth certificate when applying for a nondriver state ID card to comply with the voter-ID rules. Won’t that just make it easier for their supposed legion of phantom vote-fraud perpetrators to do their dirty work?
Norma Lester with the Shelby County Election Commission says the commission chair requested an investigation into recent allegations of thousands of county voter histories being purged, according to a letter FOX 13 obtained. Blogger Bev Harris with Black Box Voting originally said her research showed that 488 lifelong voters, mainly African American and democratic voters, were missing in the Shelby County registry. People on this list include political figures like Darrick Harris and Edmund Ford. “There’s 600,000 voters on the Shelby County voter list and for it just to happen to African Americans in one particular district who vote democrat is certainly not just random chance,” says Harris. Harris says after continuing her research, she found that not just 488 but 13,000 voter histories have been erased from the Shelby County voter registry. … Congressman Steve Cohen says the missing records go even deeper. The Congressman announced on Sunday that he’s contacted U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder about 40,000 missing voter histories, which Cohen says is the precursor to purging. He says he noticed the discrepancy in Dec. 2011 when he pulled records from Aug. 2010 for his election mailings.
Texas: Texas-style redistricting vexes voters, puts map boundaries in perpetual motion | The Washington Post
More than in any other state in the union, the redrawing of congressional district lines in Texas is a partisan blood feud that turns the once-a-decade event of redistricting into a protracted, almost continuous, political and legal battle, sometimes with dire consequences. Take the small example of Tuesday’s Democratic primary in the new 35th House District. Sylvia Romo, the tax collector in Bexar County, has had trouble convincing voters here that she really is in a primary contest against the nine-term Democratic incumbent, Rep. Lloyd Doggett. As far as many of these voters are concerned, Doggett is not their congressman — he’s the guy from Austin, 80 miles away. But the primary race here is, in fact, between the congressman from Austin and the tax collector from San Antonio. “This has been a weird election, the timing, the confusion,” said Romo, tracing her hands along the strange map of the new congressional district. “It is so weird the way this thing just kind of developed. What were they drinking?” But weirdness and confusion are the hallmarks of redistricting in Texas.
One is a black real estate agent and the other a white millionaire. For two new districts created to reflect Texas’ soaring Hispanic population, they might be the representatives elected to Congress. That’s not exactly what Hispanic leaders pictured, and some are disheartened. The number of Hispanics in Texas grew by 2.8 million in the last decade – second only to California – and drove a population boom that rewarded the state with a total of four new U.S. House seats. Yet in Tuesday’s primaries, Texas voters may put no more Hispanics on the path to Congress than the six the state has sent since 1997. The reasons illustrate why more population doesn’t necessarily mean more political power in an ethnically diverse state. In this case, the way the new districts were mapped by a Republican-controlled legislature, combined with the natural advantages enjoyed by political veterans who already are well established, has left a group of eager Hispanic candidates facing formidable opponents from other races.
An independent political action committee and a group of potential donors are suing West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and the state’s prosecuting attorneys, arguing that some of the state’s election laws and policies violate their First Amendment rights. Stay the Course West Virginia, an unaffiliated independent expenditure PAC; David Bailey, chairman and treasurer of Stay the Course; Pineville Lumber Inc., a West Virginia company and potential donor; and Thomas Stephen Bailey, a resident and potential donor, filed their complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia Wednesday. In addition to Tennant, the plaintiffs name Scott Ash, prosecuting attorney for Mercer County, as a defendant in the suit. He is being sued as the representative of class of 55 prosecuting attorneys in the state, who are responsible for enforcing the criminal penalties associated with the state’s Election Code.
As Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin faces a well deserved recall votenext month after stripping public unions of their bargaining rights, voters are discovering the generosity of Diane Hendricks. Ms. Hendricks, the billionaire chairwoman of the nation’s largest roofing and siding wholesaler, wrote a check for $500,000 last month to help defend Governor Walker, a Republican, against his Democratic challenger, Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee. The eye-popping donation was made possible by a quirk in the state law for recall campaigns. And Ms. Hendricks has never been shy about what she wants. A newly released piece of documentary video shows her running into Governor Walker two weeks after he took office in 2011. In what was presumed to have been a private discussion, Ms. Hendricks asked, “Any chance we’ll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions and become a right to work” state?
On a day when mail carriers didn’t deliver and mourners packed cemeteries for solemn tributes to the dead, hundreds of others stood in long lines outside the Madison city clerk’s office, showing that in this hypercharged election season voting takes no holiday. “I’m amazed,” said voter Allan Wessel of Madison of the turnout, which hit 379 people in four hours and produced 45-minute waits. “We thought there might be a short little line.” The clerk’s office took the unusual step of opening for a half-day on Memorial Day, a federal holiday, to allow people to cast early ballots for the June 5 gubernatorial recall election, the first in state history. The line snaked around the corner to the City Hall entrance and, at times, got so long it turned again at the Parks Department office, creating a J-shaped line of voters who weren’t prepared for the wait.
More than 60 lawmakers walked out of the inaugural session of parliament in Algeria, in protest at alleged fraud in recent elections. The MPs, mostly from a Islamist coalition, waved banners that said “Say ‘no’ to fraud”, before leaving after a roll call of new members. The party claims the polls two weeks ago were fixed in favour of the ruling FLN party and its coalition partners. Algeria was one of the few states in the region to avoid unrest last year.
Egyptian officials have confirmed that Mohammed Mursi and Ahmed Shafiq will advance to a second round presidential runoff in June. But several other prominent candidates dispute the results of the first round. Egypt’s electoral commission confirmed on Monday that the Muslim Brotherhood will face off against Hosni Mubarak’s final prime minister in the second round of the presidential election scheduled for June 16-17. Electoral commission chief Farouq Sultan told a televised news conference in Cairo that no candidate managed to receive a majority during the two days of voting on May 23-24.
The secretary general of the Presidential Elections Commission has denied rumors that Ahmed Shafiq garnered the most votes in the first round of the election held last week. “The counting is not yet complete,” Hatem Bagato told the website of the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram on Sunday, saying that the final results would not be announced before considering the five appeals submitted by presidential candidates. On Sunday, the election commission began to review the complaints over the poll, which has left Egyptians with a runoff choice between an Islamist apparatchik, Mohamed Morsy, and throwback candidate from the Hosni Mubarak era, Ahmed Shafiq. Both contenders seek to claim the mantle of the 25 January revolution, and are appealing to the many Egyptians who voted for more centrist figures in the first round.
Hundreds of rival supporters packed out Maseru’s Manthabiseng Convention Centre on Monday, waiting (mostly) patiently to hear the final results of Lesotho’s general elections held on Saturday. Their waiting was in vain, however; official results will only be announced on Tuesday morning at the earliest, and that is only if the bad weather clears up and the helicopters are able to land in remote areas to collect the ballots. However, the result of the election is an open secret amongst party leaders and officials from Lesotho’s independent electoral commission, who told the Daily Maverick that Prime Minister Mosisili had edged his main opponent, Thomas Thabane, by just one constituency seat. This is based on the vote counts conducted in each constituency, which have yet to be verified or announced, but are unlikely to change.
Nepal’s prime minister has called elections, after years of deadlock in which political parties have failed to agree a new constitution. Parliament has been extended four times since 2008 while a special assembly has struggled to reach consensus. When the latest deadline was missed, Baburam Bhattarai said there was “no alternative” but polls in six months. Political parties disagree on the issue of whether states in a new federal system should be along ethnic lines.
The Palestinian Authority and Hamas on Monday took steps toward holding elections more than a year after signing an agreement that was supposed to end five years of internal strife and division. Hanna Nasser, the chairman of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission, met in the Gaza Strip with Hamas leader there, Ismail Haniyeh, and later said the panel will immediately begin work on updating its Gaza voter registry. The effort will take at least six weeks to complete, he said. Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since its troops defeated forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in June 2007, agreed last week to allow the West Bank-based commission to start work on updating the Gaza voter registry. At the same time, the Palestinian Authority president is expected to start consultations with Hamas on forming a new government headed by Abbas, which is expected to be announced in 10 days when he meets with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Cairo. They also are expected to announce a date for the long-overdue presidential and legislative elections in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, which are expected to take place in six months.
They’ve been a colorful part of California’s political landscape for decades — Greens, Libertarians, American Independents and members of the Peace and Freedom Party. But after Tuesday’s election, most of them will be all but invisible — and perhaps on their way to extinction. In past years, minor parties held their own primary elections to choose nominees who would go on to compete with Democratic and Republican nominees in general elections. But that’s no longer the case under California’s new “top two” primary system, in which all voters choose from among all candidates of all parties — and only the two candidates who get the most votes advance to November, regardless of party. Because minor party candidates rarely finish in the top two, and it’s now harder for their candidates to get on the primary ballot in the first place, the parties will have little or no presence on the general-election ballot. And in politics, invisibility means oblivion. “It could spell the end of the Peace and Freedom Party,” said party chairman C.T. Weber, 71, of Sacramento. “It’s a shame that democracy is being undermined by this, but that’s the reality if we’re not able to overturn the law.”