Tell McDonald’s: We’re not lovin’ poverty wages

Workers just announced the largest ever fast-food strike in U.S. history is happening April 15.

Tens of thousands of people will take to the streets to demand that hugely profitable corporations like McDonald’s pay their workers a wage that meets basic needs.

Guess what happened right after the announcement? McDonald’s said they’d raise workers’ pay – just $1. Under their plan one million McDonald’s workers wouldn’t see any raise at all. And almost every worker would still be paid under $10 an hour – not nearly enough to get by on.

For a company with $5.6 billion in profits, McDonald’s plan is shameful.

Click here to tell McDonald’s they need to do better. Pledge to stand with workers fighting for a $15 minimum wage and the right to unionize.

Across New York, people are working harder than ever before to make ends meet, but wages have been stuck in place for decades. And it’s getting worse: All of the income growth since 2009 has gone to the richest 1 percent.

But working families – not the 1 percent – are the bedrock of our economy. When we have good jobs, we can educate our kids, care for our families, afford health care, shop in our own neighborhoods and retire in security. We move the economy forward.

Tell McDonald’s a $1 raise isn’t enough to boost up working families.

There are actions planned on April 15 in New York City, Albany, Rochester, Buffalo and other communities across the state. Find the one nearest you

Thanks for all that you do,

Karen Scharff
Executive Director
Citizen Action of New York

Has your router been hacked? Find out with this free tool!

Has your router been hacked? Find out with this free tool!

Has your router been hacked? You may not have a single clue on how to answer this question, fortunately for you, there is an easy, fast and free way to find out.

Why would you care to check if you’re running a router that has fallen prey to hackers? Because routers aren’t immune to criminals and the device transfers a lot of sensitive data. Most people don’t pay attention to their routers, nonetheless care to check if its been hacked or even know how, the router is just that little black box right? No, its much more. The router is what all your devices connect too, where all your traffic is sent through, where everything related to your internet directs through.

A compromised router is a huge security risk. One of cybercriminals favorite methods of router hacking is DNS hijacking, which is known to cause a variety of problems. It often leads to malicious advertising and pointing real domains towards phishing sites aimed at stealing your banking, email and social network credentials. Which criminals can later abuse for profit, scams and to infect more.

Want to find out if your router has been hijacked? Drum roll please… the router checker tool is here to save the day.

Check if your Router has been hijacked

Security experts over at F-Secure just announced their latest project dubbed Router Checker, a tool that can tell you if your routers DNS has been hijacked. In one click you can find if your router has been hacked, no downloads or installs required, just click start now, let the test run and you’re done. Current versions of Internet Explorer, FireFox, Chrome, Safari and Opera are all supported by the router checking webpage.

To run a test against your router to see if it has been hacked, click the big colorful start now in the middle of the webpage. Router checker will then run a test to see if DNS requests sent from your device are being routed properly or if they’re being hijacked by a third-party.

Running the test on our desktop using our default DNS, Google DNS and a VPN router all passed with no issues. Running the test on our smartphone and tablet under the same conditions including LTE returned the same results, safe and secure. Though some users have reported running into issues with their smartphone, where F-Secure notes the configured servers are not widely used, commonly occurs with ISP’s. Most have noted that seeing a yellow warning tab does not mean to panic, instead, proceed with caution til you accurately asses the risk.

My router has been hacked, what do I do?

If your router does appear to be hacked, you need to asses the situation immediately and treat it as a severe attack. First you will want to go ahead and dig into the “details of your DNS server’s IP address” portion of the tool. To do so, click the large plus sign which should open an additional panel with lots of details. Don’t worry, this is common when working with DNS tools, lots of numbers and locations.

While using this tool we were running Private Internet Access VPN on our router, appearing in the United States on a California server. The following details were returned:

Router Checker DNS Details

Looking over your details, if on a basic home router with no VPN or third-party DNS servers setup, the details should spit out your ISP name along with your designated IP address. If the DNS servers are routing elsewhere, such as other states or countries, your router is likely hacked. To fix the issue, you will need to start by logging in to the routers administrator panel. If you do not know how to do this on your current setup, it might be worth calling your ISP and asking for assistance to gain access to the router, or you can follow the guide below.

Fixing the Hijacked Router

If you’re using a Windows machine click the start button and type CMD then hit enter. A small black command prompt should appear, where you will then type the words “ipconfig” without the quotes obviously. From there the command prompt should bring up a long list of items. Scroll up until you see “Default Gateway” where you should see a 198.168.xx.x address or similar. Copy the address and paste it into your browser.

CMD IPConfig Scan

If you’re on Mac OS X click the Apple icon on the top left corner. From there click “System Preferences”. Next, click “Network”. This should open a small panel, make sure on the left side you are on Ethernet or whatever wireless card you’re using and look for the router section. It should contain a set of numbers that you can paste into your browser.

Paste the numbers into your browser, from there it should bring a popup asking for your username and password credentials. Now if you’re using a third-party router, now would be a good time to go grab the old dusty box it came in off the shelf and see if it has any username and password credentials or setup guides. If you’re using a stock ISP router the credentials could be anything from your last name on the ISP account to the password being a phone number, last name, router brand, credentials you setup or something out of the blue. The credentials could also be “admin” for both the username and password. Again, you may need to contact your ISP here or do a quick online search for “what are my [brand name]router login credentials.”

Once you’re inside the routers admin panel, your panel may differ from ours, so bare will us. Check for anything labeled, network, DNS, tools or basic. Depending on your router, while navigating through the panels, keep an eye out for the word DNS. Now in our Tomato router panel, our DNS settings were under Basic > Network. From there we had clear access to 3 DNS servers we could choose to setup. Seeing as we wanted to use the default VPN DNS, we chose to leave our panels on the default settings. If your router is hacked, you may find a third-party DNS occupying the space you did not allow. Remove the numbers and either leave the panel blank or whatever the default is for the router, likely or similar.

Change Router DNS Settings

Now click save and power cycle (reset) the router by either unplugging it or resetting it from the admin panel itself. Give it a few minutes depending on your router and run the test once again. The test should come up clean. If not, your computer’s DNS could be hijacked too.

The router is clean, but the test still says I’m infected?

In the rare event that you cleaned your router off and the test still claims your infected, it could be an issue stemming directly from the PC itself.

On a Windows you will need to navigate to your DNS settings. On Windows 7 and earlier machines you can click the start button and navigate to “Control Panel” on the upper right side. Under the “Network and Internet” tab click “View network status and tasks”. From there you can click “Change adapter settings”. Find your wifi card or Ethernet switch, click on it, then right click and hit properties. Scroll down to IPv4 where you will again click properties. You will then want to assure the DNS is set to “Obtain DNS server address automatically” or whatever desired DNS you would like. You can use Google DNS at if you would like.

On a Mac, you will navigate to the same panel you did earlier, click the Apple logo on the top left, System Preferences > Network. Below the router area there should be a “DNS Server” section in which you can edit accordingly.

You may want to clear your browser cache or reset your computer before running the test again. Once that’s done, the test should return the reassuring words “no issues were found.” If not, then the system may be compromised with malware, where you may wish to scan for malware and viruses with tools like Malwarebytes, SpyBot,SuperAntiSpyware and Eset Online Scanner.

After you run the malware and virus cleanup you can once again clear your browser cache, reset your system and try once again. If the issue persists, try it on a number of devices. If the issue continues to persist, your router may directly be infected with malware, meaning you need to contact your ISP, grab a new one from the store or flash it with open source firmware.


F-Secure’s router checker tool is not a definite way to ensure your router hasn’t been hacked, it simply checks if the DNS has changed and if the servers are malicious or unknown. There are many ways routers can be hacked, and the only definite way to ensure your router is not hacked is to sniff the traffic, or alternatively flash the router with open source firmware. But for 99% of regular internet users, F-Secure’s router checker should be a good starter test and leave you with peace of mind.

Router checker is a nice tool to bookmark and pull up every once and a while or while on the go at hotspots or other locations. You might want to pop open the tool next time you’re at a coffee shop, or airport and find out the networks health.


Brandon Stosh is the founder and CEO of Stosh is a cyber security activist and malware analyst (in training) who strives to provide reliable news on cyber-security based topics.

The Biggest Outrage in Atlanta’s Crazy Teacher Cheating Case

Source: The Fiscal Times

The Fiscal Times

The Biggest Outrage in Atlanta’s Crazy Teacher Cheating Case

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The Biggest Outrage in Atlanta’s Crazy Teacher Cheating Case

One of the defining issues of this millennium has been the bifurcation of the criminal justice system, with one set of rules for ordinary people and another for elites. We’ve learned that justice is a commodity to be purchased rather than a universal value delivered without prejudice.

That’s the proper backdrop to the news of convictions in the Atlanta test cheating case. Eleven educators were found guilty of racketeering charges — something typically reserved for organized crime — for feeding students answers to standardized tests, or changing test sheets after they were turned in.

If you don’t remember these kinds of creative prosecution strategies during the financial crisis, that’s probably because no prosecutor ever used them. Teachers ordered to falsify tests and the superiors who demanded it, amid desperation to save schools from destruction, deserve no mercy from the court. Bankers who ran a criminal enterprise to engage in the largest consumer and investing fraud in world history deserve our thanks.

Related: The Government Is Finally Cracking Down on Legal Loan Sharks

The eleven educators convicted — middle-school teachers, a principal and school administrators — were among 35 initially charged; many copped a plea. But the initial state investigation found this to be a widespread practice in the district, involving 44 schools and almost 180 education personnel. And Atlanta was not alone: There have been stories of cheating in 40 different states across the country.

We can debate the reasons why. Federal money from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law has been tied to standardized testing. Schools that fail to meet performance levels can be shut down. Atlanta’s school superintendent implemented even more rigorous rules than the feds: Any principal not meeting achievement targets within three years would get fired, and teacher evaluations, along with bonuses, were based in part on test scores.

Many view those standards as unrealistic and utopian. In high-poverty areas with at-risk kids disinclined to performing well on standardized tests, the drive to hit those benchmarks and pressure from administrators creates huge temptations to cheat. And we’re seeing it everywhere.

As recounted by The New Yorker, at one middle school, the principal informed teachers they had to cheat to keep the school above the NCLB threshold. Dissenters were transferred to other schools or placed on a track to be terminated. The cheating became routinized, with teachers tearing open sealed test sheets with razor blades and fixing the answers. They justified it to themselves as doing it for the school, for the children even. The tests didn’t properly evaluate student performance in their view, and the kids needed stability, not upheaval through shifting schools every couple years.

None of this excuses the misconduct, it sets a context for it. And it matches almost precisely what went on at every level of the mortgage market before, during and after the housing bubble. Mortgage brokers used Wite-Out and exacto knives to falsify income tax data for unqualified borrowers to get them into loans. They employed Coke vending machines as light boards to trace forgeries, putting people into garbage loans they didn’t purchase. The loans got sold to Wall Street banks, which routinely lied to investors, who purchased bundles of mortgages packaged into securities, by telling them that the loan quality exceeded underwriting standards.

Related: DOJ Is Still More Bark Than Bite When It Comes to Corporate Crime

When the loans predictably defaulted, mortgage servicing company employees were instructed to lieto customers, claim to have lost loan modification applications when they actually shredded them, and push customers into foreclosure, which maximized servicer fees. One set of workers at Bank of America testified that they received Target gift cards as bonuses for causing foreclosures among customers.

In the foreclosure process, these same companies, with help from “default services” specialists and “foreclosure mill” law firms, fabricated and forged the legal documents required to enforce the terms of the mortgage, because all that documentation was either lost or never recorded. Workers would sign each other’s names, use each other’s notary stamps, pretend to work for other companies, and assign mortgages from the company they didn’t work for to the one they did.

The job pressures faced by the Atlanta educators differed little from the job pressures faced by line-level workers at mortgage origination, securitization, servicing, foreclosure mill and default services shops across the country. In both cases, the workers performed their jobs under threat of termination. Supervisors watched everyone to ensure compliance. The fraud became institutionalized. And after a while, people stopped asking whether what they were doing was in any way legal.

Related: Risky New Mortgage Rules Could Take Us Back to 2008 

So let’s see how the justice system dealt with these two cases. When mostly African-American educators at poor schools in Atlanta cheat on tests, they get the book thrown at them. Ten of the 11 convicted on Thursday went directly to jail while they awaited sentencing; Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter only spared the eleventh because of her imminent pregnancy. They each face up to 20 years. With Baxter quoted as saying “they have made their bed and they’re going to have to lie in it,” it’s difficult to expect much leniency. Even higher-ups got drawn into the criminal justice net; the former Atlanta School Superintendent, Beverly Hall, only avoided conviction for looking the other way at obvious fraud because she was too sick to stand trial. She died of breast cancer earlier this year.

As for the entire housing market, top to bottom, you can count the number of people who went to jail on one finger. Lorraine O’Reilly Brown was the CEO of a default services company called DocX, which filed over 1 million false documents in courts and county offices from 2003 to 2009. This was industry practice, but only Brown went to jail for it, with the claim that she committed a conspiracy of one, allegedly defrauding banks by concealing the fraudulent document scheme. Apparently when banks contracted DocX to create documents they should have legally already had in their possession, they never expected them to be fake.

Outside of Brown, nobody who authorized any falsification, no superiors at DocX parent company Lender Processing Services (now Black Knight), nobody at a major mortgage servicer, no mortgage origination manager, and certainly no executive of any Wall Street bank ever faced the full wrath of Judge Jerry Baxter or any other authority figure forcing them to don a jumpsuit and spend 10 to 20 thinking about what they did. Despite the clear criminality of the enterprise, nobody thought to use a RICO statute on banks and their affiliates, or do anything beyond settle for cash.

Related: How a Twisted Double Standard Saved Citigroup Millions

The darkly amusing part of all this is that the harsh sentence in the Atlanta case is seen as a necessary counter to the temptation to cheat caused by the testing regime. So prosecutors devote huge amounts of resources (the district attorney called it the most complex case of his career) and judges dole out long sentences, all to keep teachers in line. No similar deterrent has been created for the industry that sells Americans the most important financial product of their entire lives. We send messages to teachers; we send bailouts to bankers.

You don’t have to consider the Atlanta teachers innocent to know something has gone terribly awry in the country when filling in bubbles on Scan-Tron sheets can get you 20 years, but stealing people’s homes and defrauding pension funds can’t get you indicted. The only way you could see what the justice system has granted bankers as in any way commensurate with what it does to ordinary people is if you grade on a curve.

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