US Civil War? Blame Russia!

By Finian Cunningham

October 31, 2020 “Information Clearing House” – As America heads into a torrid presidential election next week there are widespread fears of violence breaking out. Some pundits are even concerned that the violence could turn into a civil war.

It’s a perfect storm. Partisan hostilities are at boiling point. President Donald Trump and his Republican supporters are oozing with contempt for Democrat rival Joe Biden and his so-called “liberal” followers. The latter likewise despise Trump and his “deplorable” base.

The distortions speak of frenzied misapprehensions. The “soul of the nation” is at stake, so they claim. The most absurd distortion is Trump telling his base that Biden is a “socialist” who will unleash a Marxist revolution. It really demonstrates how misinformed Americans are and how dangerous ignorance can be. If only Americans really did have a genuine socialist choice to vote for then the country might find a way out of its collapsing state.

Then there is incendiary issue of the election’s legitimacy. Trump has already undermined the credibility of the ballot, calling it “rigged” and the “most corrupt ever”. So if he loses, as polls suggest, millions of his supporters won’t accept Biden as the next president. Trump has already threatened he won’t consent to a peaceful transfer of power.

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And if Trump manages to pull off a surprise victory, there will be millions of Democrats who won’t accept his legitimacy, claiming that the incumbent suppressed mail-in votes and other high jinks.

Added to the sharp tensions is the anticipated confusion over final results. The tally of mail-in votes could take days to complete and each of the 50 states have different rules about when to close the counting. It is therefore possible that both candidates could simultaneously claim to be the winner citing different ways to compute the votes.Still more alarming are reports that gun sales in the US are off the charts, with 17 million firearms having been bought so far this year – a record. Analysts point to the ongoing anxieties from months of street protests against police brutality and shooting of black people. Those tensions again fall along partisan lines, with Republicans accusing Democrats of fomenting protests. The antagonism has already led to deadly shootings.

Another factor boosting gun sales is the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump supporters in particular believe the pandemic is a cover for federal government quashing civil liberties. This has prompted armed militia to prepare for insurrection. The discovery of a plot by 13 militia members to kidnap and execute a Democrat governor is typical of the sinister underground networks in the US which can be expected to react to a disputed election.

civil war is thus not a far-fetched scenario. Or at least an eruption of massive gun violence among heavily armed factions or between these factions and law-enforcement agencies.

What is derisory, however, is the media effort to blame Russia for the chaos.

It is an article-of-faith among media networks and pundits that Russia is interfering in the US election, in the same way, it is claimed (again without evidence) that Russia allegedly meddled in the 2016 election. Moscow has repeatedly dismissed these claims as ridiculous.

Former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats this week in an interview with CBS News took the false narrative up a sinister notch by linking alleged Russian interference with the anticipated post-election violence.

“The nightmare scenario is that on election night, people will draw conclusions or days after will draw conclusions that their candidate has been denied a victory and that public riots will result and violence might result from that,” said Coats. And he added that Russia is fomenting this violence.

“They’re [Russia] going after us. They’re the New England Patriots of messing with elections,” commented Coats using a corny football metaphor.

So there you have it. American politics and society is a mess from its own inherent problems. Those problems are in danger of exploding into large-scale violence, if not a civil war-like conflict. Yet American media and supposed “intelligence” figures are striving to lay the blame for this dystopia on Russia.

That’s why the US is in such an irreversible mess. Because it is in denial about how bankrupt its supposed democracy has become. Instead of facing up to how Americans are living in an oppressive oligarchy that runs a puppet show every four years, the political class seeks distraction by scapegoating Russia and other “foreign enemies”.

America’s political class is delusional and in denial. That’s why they are facing terminal dysfunction. It is the antithesis of “democracy” because the politicians and media are never held to account by the people for the warmongering, poverty and inequality. That’s part of the perfect storm for violence in the US. Falsely, disingenuously blaming others for their own inherent disorder only makes for more disorder. It’s a downward spiral.

Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent.

Calling this “our democracy” is like slaves referring to “our plantation”

By Frank Scott

October 31, 2020 “Information Clearing House” –  While Americans are re-programmed every four years for the most important desperately crucial national emergency election since the last one, which will assure that Wall Street, the Pentagon, Israel and billionaires maintain power and control over everything that matters, most eligible voters will choose neither of the ruling power’s candidates and in a sense exercise democratic values by refusing to act as majority puppets.  

Meanwhile the people of Bolivia and Chile recently went to the polls and in dramatic contrast to America actually voted on substantial issues that could radically change their country’s futures. Bolivia chose returning to the socialist government that had been overthrown by a U.S. aided capitalist -fascist coup and Chile voted to   dump its U.S. influenced fascist-capitalist constitution in favor of a new one to guarantee the rights of all and not just some of their people. However things turn out for them what they did comes far closer to what America needs and democracy can create but what we’ll get is the same system with possibly slightly different actions by the crew of our national model of the Titanic. Escape lifeboats will still be available only to the upper income groups while the rest of us can drown. Sorry, we’re in the “real” world and still being convinced that having a new CEO of a petroleum firm who is a transsexual of color or a bi-polar Semite or a Picasso person with seven eyes and eight breasts is more important than ending dependence on fossil fuels and demanding alternate power sources for the future of our nation and our planet. 

With manufactured fears of this multi-billion dollar electoral market being sold as democracy but allegedly threatened by Russia, China, Iran, Cuba, Mexico, Disneyland, Lower Slobovia or other fictional scapegoats, the financial fiasco that grows more criminal and psychotic every day supposedly guarantees freedom to the homeless, the poor, the debtors, the millions without health care and the rest of us to whom everything nature’s corporate capitalism offers is available provided we’ve the market force to buy it. Those of us able to buy are a group getting smaller by the minute with plastic replacing money at a faster clip than ever with debt in the trillions and the only hope of paying it off being prayer, drugs or mass murder. The bread and circuses of a past empire has its present version in the moral pornography of a rich nation with people living on the street, under highways and bridges and being stepped over by good folks on their way to rescue a dog or cat while massive political fund raising assures the richest minority maintains   control of the entire political process. All of this is sanctified by the law of the land, a constitution written by the original 1% to assure that the other 99% would never threaten their power and control, only allowing supposed revolutionary amendments that allow a greater professional servant class and guarantee that the overwhelming majority continue to react to the spectacle of a variety show that passes for an electoral process, as people are convinced that the right to vote is the essence of democracy, with little or no consideration about what there is to vote for.

With fears of fascism being charged every minute and attributing that threat to the rich if honest simpleton in the white house, there is also the veneration in the minds of the people that the act of voting is the be all end all of fictional democracy. Pssst: the popular depiction of the archfiend fascists of Nazism and Hitler leaves out the fact that they took power through the sacred democratic process of voting, and Germany was generally considered the foremost intellectual and artistic culture of the continent.  Past American dominance of the world was never dependent on our exceeding Canada and Mexico in thought and creativity except when it came to making and using weapons to slaughter millions while proclaiming love for mankind, democracy and other good stuff. The point being that fascism is an aspect of capitalism at an extremely critical crisis during which the most repressive among the ruling class take power and make life better for some and worse for others but in a fashion beyond the usual fake manner which calls attention to poverty, war and social degeneracy as aspects of awful “other” social formations. This is currently the expression of the alleged fascist putz in the white house while his alleged liberal foes engage in the most repressive reactionary politics in the usual guise of democracy in America: Our evil is lesser than their evil. Vote for polio or you’ll get cancer! 

Before we were struck by the pandemic spread by market forces, more than half a million Americans were homeless. More than 8 million have since descended into poverty while the billionaire class has expanded its wealth to even more outrageous extremes than before. And while our national situation disintegrates under the moral assault on life and nature called the free market, no less than the World Bank warns of the titanic debt threatening the globe with the poorest countries already facing hardship beyond anything previously experienced in trying to approach paying off debts they owe to richer nations which often got rich by stealing their national wealth through colonialist oppression. The bank warns against global collapse unless the world does something about the fact that the richest 2 thousand people own more wealth than four and a half billion humans combined.   

 These are not among the issues brought before the American public this election season when Trump’s personal tax figures and sex life take precedence over the fact that his open adoration of Israel and Netanyahu exceeds that of the entire American congress which all but publicly buried its face in his crotch when he spoke to the assembled recipients of Israeli lobby wealth for their political campaigns. Trump openly says he doesn’t need the Israeli lobby’s money so his passion is accepted as sincere where as much of congress and past white house occupants gleefully accept the much needed millions to “democratically” treat the last colonial nation in the world as some divine aspect of humanity. 

The outcome of the election may not be known for hours, days or weeks after its conclusion due to the conditions brought about by the pandemic alongside other breakdowns in our political economy. Speculations about whether the post office will sell our ballots to Russia or China or Trump’s family will use them to gain more credit at Amazon or that fascism or civil war will take place are beside the point. Feverish fears or realistic panic, the fact is that Wall Street, the Pentagon, Israel and Billionaires will remain in control of the nation and future acceptance of the lie that this represents democracy will not just make things worse, but much worse than ever before. This needs to be the last vote that accepts the lie of national democracy and must lead to the creation of a new national political party to represent the majority of Americans currently having our lives bargained at a corrupt market and equally corrupt political process over which we exercise no control.  

Social conditions may become more dreadful in the short term after this hopefully last exercise of fake democracy. Whatever the lesser evil outcome of the ruling class owned and controlled exercise of the present moment, we need immediate action on the part of the people being bled physically, mentally and spiritually for fictional nonsense we are always fed, never more than during this latest outburst of truly fake democracy. We need the real thing and we need it fast. That struggle has already begun and it needs to take on much greater speed after November 3, 2020.

Frank blogs at

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How to Prevent Pwned and Reused Passwords in Your Active Directory

November 02, 2020 The Hacker News

password security

Many businesses are currently looking at how to bolster security across their organization as the pandemic and remote work situation continues to progress towards the end of the year. As organizations continue to implement security measures to protect business-critical data, there is an extremely important area of security that often gets overlooked – passwords.

Weak passwords have long been a security nightmare for your business. This includes reused and pwned passwords. What are these? What tools are available to help protect against their use in your environment?

Different types of dangerous passwords

There are many different types of dangerous passwords that can expose your organization to tremendous risk. One way that cybercriminals compromise environments is by making use of breached password data. This allows launching password spraying attacks on your environment.

Password spraying involves trying only a few passwords against a large number of end-users. In a password spraying attack, cybercriminals will often use databases of breached passwords, a.k.a pwned passwords, to effectively try these passwords against user accounts in your environment.

The philosophy here is that across many different organizations, users tend to think in very similar ways when it comes to creating passwords they can remember. Often passwords exposed in other breaches will be passwords that other users are using in totally different environments. This, of course, increases risk since any compromise of the password will expose not a single account but multiple accounts if used across different systems.

Pwned passwords are dangerous and can expose your organization to the risks of compromise, ransomware, and data breach threats. What types of tools are available to help discover and mitigate these types of password risks in your environment?

Tools Available to help with password security

There are a few tools available that can help with password security in your environment by way of API calls as well as utilizing cloud tools, both on-premises or in cloud environments. Let’s look at a couple of these.

  • “Have I Been Pwned” (HIBP) API
  • Azure AD Password Protection – can be used on-premises as well

“Have I Been Pwned” (HIBP) API

The Have I Been Pwned website, operated by security expert Troy Hunt, is a valuable resource for the security community. Troy Hunt has provided a number of resources on the site that allow organizations to make use of and gain awareness of various security threats that exist on the scene today.

The HIBP site was developed in response to data breach events that often happen when user credentials are exposed over and over again with the same passwords. Using HIBP, organizations can discern if passwords in their environment have previously been exposed to data breach events.

Troy Hunt has provided an HIBP API that is freely available and allows making real-time API calls from various software applications to the HIBP API to check passwords used across multiple software forms and many other purposes. Some of the API calls and information that can be returned include the following:

  • Getting all breaches for an account
  • Getting all breached sites in the system
  • Getting a single breached site
  • Getting all data classes

Hats off to Troy for providing an excellent resource for the community that can be consumed and used freely to help bolster the security of passwords in their environments.

To properly consume the HIBP API, it does require that organizations have some development skills in-house to make use of the resource. This may be a blocker for many organizations that would like to make use of the resource.

Azure AD Password Protection

Microsoft has provided a tool called Azure AD Password Protection that detects and blocks known weak passwords and their variants. It can also block terms that are specific to your environment, such as blocking passwords that may contain the company name as an example.

The tool can also be deployed on-premises as well and uses the same lists of passwords, including global and custom banned passwords, that are configured in Azure to protect on-premises accounts. Using Azure AD Password Protection employs a mechanism that checks passwords during the password change event for a user to prevent users from configuring weak or otherwise blocked passwords.

password security

Using the Azure AD Password Protection tool provides decent protection, over and above the default protection that you get by simply using Active Directory password policies. However, there are a number of less than desirable aspects to Azure AD Password Protection, including the following:

  • It does not include breached passwords – As discussed, breached or pwned passwords are extremely dangerous. There is a chance that some in your organization are using passwords that have been exposed in a previous breach. Azure AD Password Protection has no check for these.
  • Custom banned passwords have limits – The currently banned passwords can only contain 1000 words or less and must be (4) characters or more long.
  • No control over end-user experience – There is no control over the message that end-users receive when a banned password is rejected with Azure AD Password Protection. They simply see the normal Windows error that the “password did not meet the requirements” error.

Easily protect against pwned passwords

Any protection that can be provided against weak passwords and certain types of banned passwords is better than the alternative of no protection above default password policies. However, there is a tool that can easily shed light on both password reuse and also pwned or breached passwords in your environment.

Specops Password Auditor is a free tool currently offered by Specopssoft that provides IT admins with the ability to scan their environment for many different types of password risks. It helps to overcome the challenges of the aforementioned tools and others that are available.

With Password Auditor, you can find:

  • Blank passwords
  • Breached passwords
  • Identical passwords
  • Expiring passwords
  • Expired Passwords
  • Password policies
  • Admin accounts
  • Password not required
  • Password never expires
  • Stale admin accounts

The great thing about the Specops Password Auditor tool is that it continually pulls the latest breached password lists from the Specops’ online database so that you are always checking your environment with the latest security information available.

In addition, the tool is an easy Windows installation with no developer skills required to query APIs and provides great visibility to the many different forms of password risks in your environment. This allows mitigating these appropriately.

In addition, organizations can make use of Specops Password Policy, which allows proactively mitigating password risks in the environment. Using Specops Password Policy, you can create custom and leaked password lists and password hash dictionaries based on Specops more than 2 billion leaked passwords. You can also effectively block popular character substitutions and keyboard patterns.

Concluding Thoughts

Finding breached passwords in your environment should be a priority as part of your overall security plan to bolster end-user security and protect business-critical data. While there are tools available from various sources to help find and block weak passwords, there is generally a barrier of entry to using many of those available for consumption.

Specops provides a really great combination of tools that allows effectively finding breached passwords along with proactively blocking and enforcing password policies that actively check to see if current passwords are found on lists of passwords collected from previous breaches.

By giving due attention to password security in your environment, you make the job of cybercriminals much more difficult. They will not have an easy way into your environment by finding weak passwords.