LBN – Special Report – Saturday, May 13th, 2017

*Nearly 100 Countries Hit in Massive Cyberattack

A large-scale cyberattack, believed to have been implemented with malicious software stolen from the National Security Agency, caused chaos in hospitals and government institutions in nearly 100 countries on Friday. The attack was first reported in the United Kingdom, where British authorities said hospitals were forced to send patients away. Late Friday, dozens of other countries reported falling victim to the same cyberattack. The attack targeted hospitals, educational institutions, and government institutions by locking computers and demanding a ransom of between $300 and $400 to restore access, Reuters reported. Hackers carried out the attack by tricking people into opening malicious software disguised as work invoices, job offers, security warnings and other seemingly important emails. Anti-virus maker Avast said they had recorded 57,000 infections in 99 countries, including countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Russia and Ukraine were reported to be among the hardest hit by the attack. China reported that several of its educational institutions came under attack, while South Korea said it was aware of a university hospital being affected. In Russia, the attack hit the Interior Ministry and the Emergency Situations Ministry, as well as Sberbank, the country’s largest bank. Experts say the full extent of the damage may not be felt until Monday, because some companies and institutions may not yet be aware of the attack.

*Comey Won’t Testify to Senate Intelligence Committee

Former FBI Director James Comey has offered to testify in public after declining an invitation to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed hearing next Tuesday. The committee is investigating possible ties between Trumpassociates and Russian operatives. “He is not going to be testifying on Tuesday, but it is our hope in the not-too-distant future that we can find a time for him to come in and talk to our committee,” Sen. Mark Warner, the committee’s vice chairman, said Friday afternoon on MSNBC. A close associate was later cited by The New York Times saying Comey is willing to testify but wants to do it in public. The ousted FBI director’s offer to testify publicly comes after President Trump appeared to threaten him in a Twitter tirade on Friday, saying he’d release “tapes” of the pair’s conversations if Comey talks to the press. Trump abruptly fired Comey earlier this week, saying he’d lost confidence after receiving negative feedback from Comey’s superiors. But he later contradicted his own administration’s reasoning for the dismissal, saying he was going to fire Comey “regardless” of what Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosensteinwrote in his memo urging Trump to fire the FBI chief. Comey’s dismissal has caused alarm among many lawmakers, as it came just as the FBI was reportedly planning to expand its probe into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin.

*Trump Hopes to Choose New FBI Director by Friday

President Trump on Saturday hinted at a “fast decision” in choosing a new FBI director, with interviews already underway. Speaking to reporters on board Air Force One, Trump said the candidates for the position “are very well known, highly respected, really talented people,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “They’ve been vetted over their lifetime, essentially,” he said. A decision could be made by as early as Friday, when he’s due to depart for Saudi Arabia, he said. Justice Department officials were expected to begin interviewing at least four candidates on Saturday. Acting FBI Director James McCabe, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, former assistant attorney general Alice Fisher, and JudgeMichael J. Garcia are thought to be the four candidates being interviewed.

*Costa Concordia Captain Sentenced to 16 Years

An Italian court upheld a 16-year jail sentence for Francesco Schettino, the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship that crashed on the Italian coast in January 2012, killing 32 people. Schettino was accused of abandoning the ship before all passengers were able to get to safety. He was sentenced in 2015 after being found guilty of manslaughter. The January 2012 incident occurred off the Tuscan island of Giglio. In addition to the 33 fatalities, 64 people were injured. Friday’s decision means Schettino’s final appeal of his conviction has ended in defeat.

*British Foreign Minister Fears Russian Election Interference

Britain’s foreign secretary has said he believes there’s a “realistic possibility” the Kremlin will meddle in U.K. elections next month. Boris Johnson made the comments in an interview with The Telegraph published Saturday, saying Russia’s President Vladimir Putin would “rejoice” if the Labour Party wins the June 8 vote. “Clearly we think that is what he did in America, it’s blatantly obvious that’s what he did in France [where incoming president Emmanuel Macron’s emails were hacked], in the western Balkans he is up to all sorts of sordid enterprises, so we have to be vigilant,” Johnson said. He went on to say Putin wants “to undermine faith in democracy altogether and to discredit the whole democratic process.” Even as the U.S. continues to experience the fallout of the Kremlin’s alleged election meddling last year, France became the latest victim of pre-election hacks earlier this month. On the eve of the vote, Macron said a “massive” computer hack dumped his campaign emails online, an attack in which many saw the hand of Moscow.


*North Korea Says Would Be Open to Talks With Trump Administration

North Korea has said it would be willing to sit down and talk with the U.S. “if the conditions were right,” South Korean media reported Saturday. Choe Son-hui, a North Korean official who has previously been involved in nuclear talks, made the comments after meeting with former U.S. officials in Oslo. Choe provided no further details on what the conditions would be, but Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions would likely be a primary focus of any talks. Tensions have escalated in recent weeks as U.S. officials threatened to take action against North Korea’s ongoing missile tests. U.S. President Donald Trump warned of the possibility of a “major war” after Pyongyang’s missile testing last month, and the White House repeatedly hinted at military action. But Trump changed his tune earlier this month, saying he’d be “honored” to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

*Former L.A. Sheriff Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison

Former Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca was hit with a three-year prison sentence on Friday for scheming to derail a federal investigation. Baca, who stepped down in 2014 amid growing scandal, tried to sabotage an FBI investigation into corruption and abuse in his jails by keeping investigators away from a key witness, prosecutors said. He had previously dodged a conviction in the case last December, when a jury became deadlocked in his trial. After prosecutors retried the case in March, however, the jury found him guilty on the charge of obstructing justice in less than two days. In addition to the prison sentence, 74-year-old Baca was ordered by JudgePercy Anderson of the United States District Court to pay a $7,500 fine. The judge concluded that Baca “knew what he was doing was wrong” and “had no problem using his office to further his own agenda,” the Justice Department said in a statement. Baca is due to begin serving his sentence on July 25.


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*LBN-THIS DAY IN HISTORY: 1830 – Republic of Ecuador is founded, with Juan Jose Flores as president.

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