America’s Transportation Security Administration says a 20-pound (9-kilogram) live lobster has been found in a passenger’s luggage at Boston’s Logan International Airport.
TSA spokesman Michael McCarthy says the lobster found on Sunday in the passenger’s checked luggage at the airport’s Terminal C is the largest he’s ever seen.
Credit: Transportation Security Administration via AP
McCarthy says the TSA doesn’t prohibit transporting lobsters. Its website says a live lobster will be allowed through security but must be transported in a “clear, plastic, spill-proof container.”
McCarthy says the lobster is now in a cooler and “co-operated quite nicely with the screening process.”
He shared a picture of a TSA agent holding up the crustacean on social media.
For weeks, U.S. Sen. Angus King has been telling anyone who ll listen that the biggest, most worrisome thing about Russian interference in the 2016 election isn t getting enough attention and has nothing to do with President Trump.
King has warned in congressional hearings, television appearances and interviews with reporters that Moscow tried and is still trying to compromise American voting systems and that if nothing s done it might very well change the results of an election.
Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with Democrats, listens as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., asks a question during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 7. King says meddling by Russia in the 2016 U.S. election isn’t getting enough scrutiny. Associated Press/Susan Walsh
Unfortunately I don t think there s a wide realization of this threat, King said in an interview with the Maine Sunday Telegram. They were probing and experimenting and learning where there are vulnerabilities, and they ll be back. This month the issue finally got on the national radar, as King and his colleagues on the Senate Intelligence Committee heard testimony from cybersecurity experts and national security officials about the seriousness of the situation, and news outlets digested the implications of a Bloomberg News report alleging that the Russians had infiltrated voter registration systems in 39 states. While intelligence officials say there is no evidence that vote counts were changed last November, a leading expert on security threats to voting machines said this possibility cannot be excluded without a forensic audit of the results. Even voting and vote counting machines that are not connected to the internet can be and could have been compromised when they received software programming them to display or recognize this year s ballots, said J. Alex Halderman, director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society.
I am more pessimistic than the Department of Homeland Security officials who (testified) about whether they would have been able to detect such an attack were it carried out, Halderman said after testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which both King and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, sit on. The most direct and scientific way to establish that there had not been interference in our election would be to look at the physical evidence and to perform computer forensics on the voting machines and other election equipment.
KING PROPOSES TWO-STEP SOLUTION
Halderman said his team has successfully hacked widely used voting machines during security tests and has been able to reprogram them to spread software from machine to machine that allowed them to change vote counts undetected. Russia could introduce such code to devices by infecting pre-election programming. In Michigan, he said, 75 percent of counties outsource this programming to just two companies, emailing them the ballot design to load into the machines. It s a path sophisticated hackers like Russia might well exploit, he said, adding that the malware could be passed from machine to machine via the thumb drives and memory cards their software patches are delivered on. While 70 percent of U.S. votes are made with paper ballots or backups, five states and jurisdictions in nine more do not, according to Verified Voting, a nonprofit in Carlsbad, California, that focuses on electoral security. In those jurisdictions, the group says, it is impossible to conduct a post-election audit to detect a hack or software error.
King on May 9 asked his colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee to have Washington devote $160 million to execute a two-step quick fix that would ensure the integrity of future elections. The money would be used to replace voting machines that do not have paper ballots or backups with ones that do and to fund post-election audits that would detect any discrepancies between automated vote counts and the paper evidence. Halderman endorsed this approach. Those two steps taken together would allow states with a very high confidence to be able to detect any kind of cyberattacks, he said. Asked whether his proposal had garnered any champions in Congress, King said it hadn t because people were still waking to the threat and because some Republicans viewed it as an attack on Trump. Somehow we need to make everyone understand that this is not a partisan issue, he said. We have got to get it through to people that the next time, the shoe could be on the other foot.
MAINE AMONG LEAST VULNERABLE STATES
King also said he was not at liberty to say whether Maine was among the states whose election systems Moscow had infiltrated in 2016, as any information he has came from classified briefings. All I can say is that the Russians went after a number of states, but I can t confirm the details, he said. Experts say Maine is one of the least vulnerable states because all polling stations use paper ballots which enable non-hackable hand recounts in the event of uncertainty and same-day voter registration, which removes the possibility that people would be prevented from voting if the state s central voter registration databases were compromised.
In Maine we just have tabulators that just make optical scans of the paper ballots, and you still have those ballots, says Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, whose office oversees Maine s elections. If there is any question, you just have a recount. You don t even have to do audits. Dunlap said that in order to minimize the effects of any hack of the state s centralized voter registration database, his office had advised Maine s 500 local clerks to back up their constituency s registration information daily on a thumb drive. That way if someone from Ukraine or Vladivostok puts a worm into our CVR, they still have their database and it s no longer than a day out of date, he said. We figured even if an outside malevolent force were able to shut down our CVR, we d still have Election Day.
I M GOING TO KEEP POUNDING ON THIS
In such a scenario, however, one group of voters might be prevented from casting ballots: overseas residents and military personnel, some of whom rely on the central database to cast same-day ballots from abroad. These overseas votes would be out in the cold, Dunlap said, but added that despite high turnout in November 2016 there were fewer than 5,000 such voters, probably not enough to sway anything but a razor-thin contest for a seat in the state Legislature. Dunlap also said the thumb drives containing the pre-election programming for Maine s tabulating machines were sent by post, not the internet, making them impossible to hack remotely. Dunlap and his counterpart in New Hampshire, Bill Gardner, both serve on a presidential commission charged with investigating alleged voter fraud. On Thursday, both men who are Democrats called on the commission to also explore Russian hacking of state election systems, and the commission s vice chairman, Republican Kris Kobach of Kansas, said he had no objection.
In his interview with the Maine Sunday Telegram, King also expressed concern that Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have shown little interest in the issue, as evidenced by Trump s tweets and congressional testimony by Sessions and former FBI Director James Comey.
If you re under attack and the commander in chief and the nation s chief law enforcement officer both say, Attack, what attack? how do you prepare and respond? he said. I m going to keep pounding on this because we have to do something.
Colin Woodard can be contacted at:
Unfortunately, there was no lack of pain on display in Lake County Circuit Court last week as three men were sentenced in local murder cases. As Circuit Judge Daniel Shanes said during one of the sentencing hearings Wednesday, “There is no joy here.”
Each case, as usual, brought two sets of friends and relatives to the polished wooden benches of felony court. Often sitting on opposite sides of the benches, one group is mourning the loss of a family member a father, a son, a cousin, a spouse. A special friend. Nothing will bring that person back, but usually loved ones will bear numerous hearings and trial appearances before a sentence is determined. They may or may not hear an apology from the defendant.
The second group is there to see how long a friend or family member will be spending in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Calculating the months, years and sometimes decades that will pass before, if ever, their son, daughter, father, friend, will come home. Often, soft crying can be heard from members of both groups, sometimes the painful emotions can’t be contained and lead to outbursts, inevitably followed by someone leaving on their own or being escorted out of the courtroom. There is no joy here.
Charged with maintaining order among tragedy are the court security officers, who increase in numbers with the severity of the case. Before a murder sentencing Monday, a security officer addressed the audience with a plea for restraint. “We know this will be an emotional hearing,” he said, and asked those in attendance to remember that despite the tragic subject matter, order and quiet must be preserved in the courtroom. He asked in advance that those who may feel themselves losing control of emotions to leave the court at that point.
“We’re all human,” he said. “We all have emotions.”
One onlooker followed those instructions after the hearing started, leaving as her crying increased to sobs. Sgt. Erwin Drummond of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Court Security Division said security officers are trained to handle all aspects of possible problems in court. Whether confronted by sadness or anger, their job is to “preserve the process,” he said.
Drummond said goal number one is to ensure the safety of everyone in the court, from the judge, to attorneys, witnesses, defendants and observers. He said in some cases in which previous hearings have involved disruptions, or intelligence has been gained that there may be problems, staffing is increased. Officers are trained to respond with compassion when the situation calls for it, as well as enforcement duties when needed.
“We need to make sure everyone is safe and the judicial process doesn’t get disrupted,” Drummond said. In court, even following the most extreme disruptions, order will win out.
But during some busy weeks, one thing is also clear. Some observers may leave the courtroom with a measure of satisfaction or the feeling that justice has been done. But joy is nowhere to be found.
Nerheim hits top honors again
For the second time in four years, Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim has been named State’s Attorney of the Year by the Illinois State Crime Commission. Nerheim received this year’s honor at a Crime Commission award ceremony Wednesday. He said Thursday he was surprised to claim the award a second time.
“I can’t believe it. It’s humbling,” Nerheim said. He first took the honor in 2014 for his efforts with initiatives to reduce heroin and opioid deaths and the supply and demand for illicit drugs, as well as the unlawful use of prescription drugs.
In announcing Nerheim as State’s Attorney of the Year for 2017, officials again cited his work on addressing the opioid epidemic as well as battling human trafficking, often involving minors.
“State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim has been a national leader in the battle against the opioid and heroin epidemic,” Illinois State Crime Commission Executive Director Jerry Elsner said in announcing the award. “In addition, he has been a leader in combating child sex trafficking, thereby saving families from the despicable horror of their children being exploited.”
Nerheim, who was first elected state’s attorney in 2012, cofounded the Lake County Opioid Initiative that same year. The group has partnered with other agencies and law enforcement to equip police, often the first responders to an overdose call, with Naloxone, a heroin and opioid antidote credited with saving 167 lives in Lake County since Christmas Day 2014. In addition, The Illinois Crime Commission credited Nerheim for collaborating with task forces that focus on the battle against child sex trafficking and exploitation, from Internet sex crimes to prostitution.
“I am extremely honored to receive this award by the Illinois State Crime Commission for the second time since taking office,” Nerheim said. “The award is a testament to the exceptional team of prosecutors, investigators, victim coordinators and staff members at the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office who go to work every day committed to seeking justice and serving our community.”
Nerheim also credited local law enforcement and community agencies and partners who help advance the local initiatives.