Hackers have recently taken over the computer systems for the City of Baltimore. Many of the City’s operations have been at a standstill for weeks as officials scramble to find a solution.
The hackers are demanding that the city pay a ransom in order to regain control of the network. The ransom started at 13 Bitcoin, which is roughly $100,000 at its current price. However, the hackers said that the city will owe an additional $10,000 for every day after the deadline.
The attack occurred at the beginning of this month, on May 7th. In a ransom note, the hackers gave a deadline of May 17th.
“We won’t talk more, all we know is MONEY! Hurry up! Tik Tak, Tik Tak, Tik Tak!” the ransom note read.
Basic Services Frozen
In the attack, the hackers managed to seize 10,000 of the city’s most vital systems. Once they had control of the network, the hackers were able to put a freeze on basic city services.
The hackers locked the city out of email and voicemail, so city employees set up Gmail accounts as an alternative. The employees were locked out of their Gmail accounts as well, since all of their addresses were marked as spam.
In a later statement, Google explained that this was a glitch in their automated systems.
“We have restored access to the Gmail accounts for the Baltimore city officials. Our automated security systems disabled the accounts due to the bulk creation of multiple consumer Gmail accounts from the same network,” the statement read.
For the past month, Baltimore residents couldn’t pay their bills, and city employees were unable to log into their accounts.
Will The City Pay The Ransom?
Baltimore Mayor Jack Young, initially said that the city is working to restore their networks. Young also said that the FBI is assisting the city in the investigation.
“The restoration efforts also require that we rebuild certain systems to make sure that when we restore business functions. We are doing so in a secure manner,” Young said.
Young initially said that the city would not consider paying the ransom under any circumstances. The mayor said that to pay the ransom would be like “rewarding bank robbers for robbing banks.”
However, it seems that now the city may be desperate and running out of options. In an interview this week, the mayor revealed that he is thinking about paying the ransom.
“To move the city forward, I might think about it,” Young said.
According to a report from the New York Times this week, the hackers carried out the attack using an NSA hacking tool. The tool is called EternalBlue and it was initially developed by the NSA before hackers leaked it to the public.
After hackers used the tools in various cyber attacks, Microsoft blamed the NSA for the crisis. Microsoft said that the agency had a practice of “stockpiling vulnerabilities,” which prevented companies from patching their software.
In a separate attack last year, Hackers shut down Baltimore’s 911 systems for an entire day. Hackers carried out a similar attack in Atlanta around the same time. In fact, this is a problem that cities all over the country are currently facing. Baltimore is just one of over 20 different cities that hackers have hit with cyber attacks in the past year.
Most of these exploits wouldn’t work on your personal computer because only older systems are vulnerable to them. The various cities that have been experiencing cyber attacks are obviously on very outdated systems.
The EternalBlue exploit targets a vulnerability in Microsoft’s Windows XP and Vista systems, which are generations behind most consumers.
According to a recent report from WeLiveSecurity, “there are currently almost a million machines in the wild using the obsolete SMB v1 protocol.”
“Poor security practices and lack of patching are likely reasons why malicious use of the EternalBlue exploit has been growing continuously since the beginning of 2017, when it was leaked online,” the report continued.
Since businesses and governments rarely update their systems, many high-profile targets are currently at risk.
Baltimore officials are currently using manual workarounds to complete real estate deals, but many of the city’s services are no longer functional.
Brad Pitt Tells “Straight Pride Parade” Organizers To Stop Using His Likeness
A Straight Pride Parade In Boston
A group of men from Boston calling themselves “Super Happy Fun America” are planning a “straight pride parade“.
The group hopes to have their parade at the end of the summer, in the city of Boston. However, there is some confusion as to whether or not this event will actually take place.
Initially, Boston officials said that they would not be granting this group a permit to hold an event. Then, the group threatened to sue the city for discrimination if they did not approve the permits.
After city officials announced that they would not approve the event, the group insisted that it was happening anyway. Group member Mark Sahady later posted to Facebook that they were “working with” city officials to make the event happen.
Who Is The Oppressed Minority?
The group’s president, a man named John Hugo, claims that “Straight people are an oppressed majority.”
Although, it is important to point out that heterosexuals still make up a majority of the global population.
Also, straight people do often face oppression, but usually at the hands of corrupt governments, not by LGBT individuals. However, this oppression is not limited to heterosexuals, and the same issues often impact the gay community tenfold. One could argue that the LGBT community has faced significant struggles when compared to the heterosexual population.
The Pride tradition is actually a response to the extreme persecution that the LGBT community has faced for generations. Even now, people still face extreme challenges because of how others perceive their sexual orientation. LGBT individuals feel that they have to keep vital aspects of their personalities secret from family members or friends. This fear is due to an extreme social pressure that is invisible for those of us in the heterosexual community.
Many people lose their families and friends after revealing their sexual orientation, even in 2019. People from the gay community often fear showing affection or holding hands in public. This is because strangers often attack gay couples for revealing their sexuality in public.
The Reason For Pride
Researchers often track the origins of the Pride tradition back to the “Stonewall riots” of June 28, 1969. The riots were a massive turning point in the history of the LGBT movement. The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in Manhattan that saw frequent harassment from police. On the night of the riot, police attempted to raid the bar, but the attendees who gathered inside fought back. In the years that followed, Pride celebrations have sprung up all over the world, and became a global tradition.
These celebrations are so important because the LGBT community needs to know they are safe and welcome in society. Many people who are ignorant of the struggles faced by this community typically misunderstand what pride is all about. A straight pride parade isn’t needed in the same way that a gay pride parade is because the heterosexual community is generally not facing social exclusion or threats of violence due to their sexual orientation.
Brad Pitt Distances Himself From The Parade
The straight pride parade campaign initially listed the actor Brad Pitt as their official mascot on their website. However, once news of the parade spread, Pitt contacted the group and demanded they stop using his name and likeness. The group quickly removed Pitt’s image and replaced it with that of right-wing provocateur, Milo Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulos will now act as both mascot and grand marshal of a proposed parade, according to the Guardian.
Who Is Behind The Parade?
While the event seems to be drawing some support from conservatives, the group only has three public members. In last years election, the group’s president, John Hugo ran for office. Hugo attempted to run for Massachusetts’ 5th Congressional District, but lost the election. Vice President Mark Sahady reportedly has ties to groups like the Proud Boys, the New Hampshire American Guard, and the Massachusetts Patriot Front.
The third member of the group, Chris Bartley, is considered the group’s “Gay Ambassador”. This is because Bartley identifies as gay, but he is also an extremely vocal conservative. On his Twitter profile, Barley says that he is also a member of “Gays For Trump.” He also says that he’s a proud American, a follower of Jesus, and a 2012 Eagle Scout.
R. Kelly Facing Decades In Prison On Sexual Assault Charges After New Indictment
R. Kelly Indicted Again
Disgraced R&B musician R. Kelly is now facing 11 new charges of sexual assault and abuse. The accusations against Kelly come from at least four victims.
Kelly is also facing additional charges for sexually assaulting four women between the years of 1998 and 2010. Two of those victims were reportedly underage at the time of the assaults.
The singer has had a rough year since the release of the documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly.”
Kelly is facing decades in prison. From the four most serious charges against him, he is looking at a possible 30-year prison sentence.
Kelly’s attorney, Steven Greenberg, said that the new charges will not impact his defense.
“They’re more serious charges, but it doesn’t change the facts. It doesn’t change how we’re going to approach the case,” Greenberg said.
#RKelly was NOT charged with a new case. He was recharged in an existing case, same alleged victim and time (a decade ago) It changes nothing
— Steve Greenberg (@SGcrimlaw) May 30, 2019
#RKelly These are the same conduct, just charged differently, same alleged victim, same time frame, same facts. We expect the same results
— Steve Greenberg (@SGcrimlaw) May 30, 2019
Victims Go Public With Accusations
Court documents identified the main accuser with the initials “J.P” to protect her identity. However, she has since gone public in the documentary, connecting herself with the case. The woman has publicly identified herself as Jerhonda Pace.
Pace says that Kelly’s fans harassed her online after court records revealed her initials.
“His fans were livid when they saw ‘J.P’ on every count. They already started bothering me,” Pace tweeted after the indictment.
According to the charges, Kelly physically and sexually assaulted Pace during an argument in January 2010. Pace also claims that Kelly threatened to kill her during the altercation.
A Notorious Sexual Predator
R. Kelly is a notorious sexual predator in the music industry. For years, Kelly’s crimes were an open secret, that even the general public knew about.
His abusive treatment of particularly young women was first exposed in the late 1990s. In fact, Kelly faced child pornography charges after recording himself in various sex acts with an underage girl. The incident was so notorious that it became the inspiration for a popular Dave Chapelle skit.
Then, during a later trial in 2008, a jury acquitted Kelly on child pornography charges yet again. In that case, prosecutors accused Kelly of filming himself having sex with his god-daughter, who was roughly 13.
The singer ultimately avoided jail time because prosecutors were unable to prove that he was the man in the video.
Kelly had a long history of abusing woman which extended far beyond that initial controversy. Prosecutors say that Kelly attempted to assault a hairdresser while he was on bond for child pornography charges in 2003.
R. Kelly’s Downfall
Despite his crimes, Kelly managed to stay under the radar until the #metoo movement began holding people like him accountable.
Large numbers of protesters have called for streaming services to remove Kelly from their platforms.
Oddly enough, Kelly’s streams have actually increased after the release of “Surviving R. Kelly.”
The singer’s Spotify streams increased by 16 percent following the release of the documentary series.
There may be significant evidence against him, but Kelly continues to deny the charges against him.
Earlier this year, after the initial arrest in the case, Kelly appeared on a televised interview for CBS This Morning. The embattled singer was incredibly erratic and aggressive during the interview.
At one point, when the questions became too invasive for Kelly, he lashed out at host Gayle King. A clip of the interview that went viral showed an enraged Kelly, standing and pounding on his chest as Gayle King remained seated and perfectly calm.
Kelly was arrested in March of this year and held at the Cook County Jail for refusal to pay child support. Cook County released the singer days later after an unnamed person paid off his remaining debts.
He has managed to avoid any serious jail time in the past, but it seems that R. Kelly’s luck may be running out.
R. Kelly was one of the best selling music artists in the United States, and has sold over 30 million albums worldwide. The singer was once extremely wealthy, with a net worth of over $150 million dollars, but his fortune is now almost entirely gone.
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