Leaked FBI memo warns banks of looming "unlimited ATM cashout"

When scammers get inside of the networks of financial institutions, they sometimes stage "cashouts" where they recruit confederates around the world to all hit ATMs at the same time with cards tied to hacked accounts and withdraw the maximum the ATMs will allow; but the wilier criminals first disable the anti-fraud and withdrawal maximum features in the banks' systems, enabling confederates to drain ATMs of all the cash they contain. This is called an "unlimited cashout." (more…)

This is the way to sell bananas - a pack with a spectrum of ripeness levels

T.K. of the AskAKorean Twitter account says: "Genius at work. E-mart in Korea is now selling the 'One a Day Banana' pack, containing several bananas of different ripeness so that you can eat them over several days.

How politics became our identity

Dinner parties used to be where you avoided politics. Now talking about politics at dinner parties is the norm.

Years ago, we avoided politics because we assumed the people at our table had diverse political identities, and we didn’t want to introduce a topic that might lead to an argument. Today, we assume our guests share a single identity, after all, why else would we have invited them?

Something has changed in the United States, and for many of us, it’s only at Thanksgiving dinner, a gathering where we don’t get to sort ourselves by political tribe, that we must face people who see the world differently than ourselves.

In this episode, we spend time with political scientist Lilliana Mason who discusses this in her new book, Uncivil Agreement, in which she says we actually agree about most things, and strangely, “our conflicts are over who we think we are, rather than reasoned differences of opinion.”

As Mason explains, “Our opinions can be very fluid, so fluid that if we wanted to come to a compromise we could, if there were not these pesky identities in the way. We can’t come to a compromise because our identities are making us want to take positions as far away from the other side as possible. What that means is that we are trying to look like we disagree in order to defend our identity and our sense of difference from other people.”

As an example, Mason says that six months ago 99 percent of Americans would have said that, of course, children should not be separated from their parents. Now that the issue is politicized, people claim to feel differently, but in reality, it’s only tribal signaling at play. If their party were to ask them to express their true feelings, they would. They’ve become trapped by tribe.

“Our actual opinions, our levels of agreement, are different than what we are willing to accept our government to do because we don’t want to feel like our party is losing,” explains Mason in the show.

Lilliana Mason is professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland where she researches partisan identity, partisan bias, social sorting, and American social polarization. She is the author of Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity, and her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and National Public Radio.

Her book outlines how we’ve moved away from issue-based polarization and entered a new realm of identity-based polarization. As long as the identity divide is maintained, we will behave more like warring tribes than a unified nation of people who have different values and ideas about what policies should be enacted.

According to Mason, “Right now, we’re telling ourselves a story about a war that’s going on in our country, and it’s only making the war worse.”

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Trump campaign going after Omarosa for millions of dollars

Get the popcorn.

The Trump campaign organization has filed for arbitration against Omarosa Manigault-Newman, claiming she violated a 2016 non-disclosure agreement. The former reality show contestant/White House staffer has been blanketing the media with secret recordings she made during the 2016 campaign and while she worked in the Oval Office.

From The Washington Examiner:

In a statement, a campaign official said, “Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. has filed an arbitration against Omarosa Manigault-Newman, with the American Arbitration Association in New York City, for breach of her 2016 confidentiality agreement with the Trump Campaign.”

The official added, “President Trump is well known for giving people opportunities to advance in their careers and lives over the decades, but wrong is wrong, and a direct violation of an agreement must be addressed and the violator must be held accountable,” added the official.

Things have become increasingly nasty between the President and Manigault-Newman, with Trump praising General Kelly, his chief-of-staff for "firing that dog."

Image: CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

Lyft charges man $150 for vomit clean-up, his wife proves it's a fraud

Vomit fraud is when a Lyft or Uber driver fraudulently charges a passenger $100 or more to clean up puke (or other body fluids). Lyft and Uber have a low burden of proof a driver -- they only require a photo of the vomit, which is easily faked with some kind of gloppy food.

WDAY AM radio in North Dakota has a story about a man who was scammed by a vomit fraud Lyft driver and how his wife did some amateur sleuthing to prove the driver was crooked.

Ricky Marquart took a 13-minute Lyft ride home early one morning. The bill was for $9.01, plus $150 for "Lyft Damage." There was no other explanation. Marquart assured his wife, Tiffany, that he didn't cause any damage to the car. She contacted Lyft, which sent her three photos of what the driver claimed was vomit.

She told WDAY: "I looked at the pictures closely and said, 'That looks like nacho cheese sauce on the outside and puff popcorn and something else on the inside,'"Tiffany said. "I asked Ricky again, 'Are you sure you didn't eat anything on the ride home?' He said he didn't."

Tiffany studied the photos and recognized the part of town where the photos were taken. It was a Holiday Stationstore. She called the manager and asked if he could view the security video at 2:50 a.m. Sunday morning, and tell her what he saw. The manager told WDAY what he saw on the video:

"It was easy since she had the time narrowed down. So I started looking and almost immediately I see the vehicle pull up to the store. The driver gets out, comes in and buys nachos, puff popcorn and Mott's applesauce. He goes back out and, it gets tougher to see what he's doing because of the camera angle, but you can see him moving around, making motions. Then flashes go off, like he's taking pictures. He opens the door to the back seat and same thing, some flashes go off. He has an unlimited car wash pass, which he showed when he bought the items. So he gets in the vehicle and goes through the car wash. It's all there on tape."

When Tiffany emailed Lyft to tell them what happened, it did not reply. Tiffany then reached out to WDAY's Mike McFeely, who contacted Lyft. A spokeswoman for Lyft, Kate Margolis, doubled down on its insistence that Ricky threw up in and on the Lyft driver's car:

"Lyft's support team thoroughly investigates damage incidents, and makes a determination based on the available evidence on a case by case basis. Our support team gathers and reviews evidence — which can include statements from all parties, photographs, prior feedback, and more. We make a determination based on the evidence provided."

But shortly after this defiant response, the Marquarts got an email from Lyft that took a different tone:

"This sort of behavior by a driver is a violation of our Terms of Service and is something we absolutely do not tolerate in the Lyft community. I have ensured that you were promptly refunded for the $150 fee. Please know that the concerns brought to our attention have been investigated, and that I followed up with this driver to take the appropriate and necessary actions."

To sum up:

Ricky Marquart: no vomit

Lyft Driver: Vomitous human being

Lyft: Vomitous customer service

Tiffany Marquart: American hero

Image: Fun Inc. Whoops Fake Vomit

In his quest to make a camera from scratch, this guy extracted silver from ore

Andy from How to Make Everything is on a mission to make a photograph from scratch. What that means is that he is going to make a camera and a photographic plate from raw materials (like wood, minerals, and ore) that he's gathered. In this video, Andy extracts five grams of silver from ore he collected, which can be used as the light-sensitive coating for a photographic plate.

English and Welsh local governments use "terrorism" as the excuse to block publication of commercial vacancies

Gavin Chait is an "economist, engineer, data scientist and author" who created a website called Pikhaya where UK entrepreneurs can get lists of vacant commercial properties, their advertised rents, and the history of the businesses that had previously been located in those spaces -- whether they thrived, grew and moved on, or went bust (maybe because they had a terrible location). (more…)

11-year-old hacks replica of Florida's state election website in less than ten minutes

Can we please have paper ballots nationwide?

Last week at DEFCON 26 in Las Vegas, eleven-year-old Emmett Brewer hacked into a replica of Florida's state election site and changed the voting results. That's scary enough. What's even scarier is that it took him less than ten minutes. An eleven-year-old girl was able to hack into the same site in about fifteen minutes. And more than THIRTY kids were able to hack into replicas of other states' sites in less than half an hour.

That is straight up alarming and you'd think the folks in charge of our state and federal elections would be concerned about this and want to take immediate action. That would be the normal reaction. But we're a long way from normal.

In a statement regarding the event, the National Association of Secretaries of State said it is “ready to work with civic-minded members of the DEFCON community wanting to become part of a proactive team effort to secure our elections.” But the organization expressed skepticism over the hackers’ abilities to access the actual state websites.

“It would be extremely difficult to replicate these systems since many states utilize unique networks and custom-built databases with new and updated security protocols,” it read. “While it is undeniable websites are vulnerable to hackers, election night reporting websites are only used to publish preliminary, unofficial results for the public and the media. The sites are not connected to vote counting equipment and could never change actual election results.”’

I'm sure we'll be fine, though. Congress is hard at work to protect the sanctity of our elections to ensure we don't have a repeat of 2016.

Oh, wait. No, they're not.

An 11-year-old changed election results on a replica Florida state website in under 10 minutes [Michael D. Regan/PBS][Image: Pixabay]

Tourist families feud over selfie spot at Rome's Trevi Fountain

An American woman (44) and a Dutch woman (19) started fighting over a prime selfie spot at Rome's Trevi Fountain. Their families sooned joined the melee, battering and screaming at one another in outraged indignation. Police intervened but as you can see in this video, were unable to control the louts.

From the KOOT NITI news channel:

Eight people were reportedly charged over violence that involved minor bruising. This came days after officials announced plans to make tourists walk past the monument on a designated pathway to address overcrowding.

The story of one man's obsessive search for the lost treasure of Cocos Island

Cocos Island, in the eastern Pacific, was rumored to hold buried treasure worth millions of dollars, but centuries of treasure seekers had failed to find it. That didn’t deter August Gissler, who arrived in 1889 with a borrowed map and an iron determination. In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll follow Gissler’s obsessive hunt for the Treasure of Lima.

We’ll also marvel at the complexity of names and puzzle over an undead corpse.

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