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Hackers disrupt Baltimore’s emergency call system; Atlanta still affected

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Hackers disrupted service over the weekend of a Baltimore computer network that supports emergency calls, forcing the city to resort to manual operations to handle calls, the city mayor’s office said.

A “limited breach” affecting Baltimore’s computer-assisted dispatch system, which is used to support and direct 911 and other emergency calls, was identified Sunday morning, according to Frank Johnson, Baltimore’s chief information officer.

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The disruption was the second cyber attack on a major U.S. city within the past week, coming days after Atlanta was struck by a widespread “ransomware” cyber extortion attack that interrupted bill collection services, downed the airport’s wireless internet and impeded other city services.

Some Atlanta city services remained offline for a seventh day following last Thursday’s ransomware attack.

 Atlanta police said that some parts of the department’s operations remained impacted by the attack, though its ability to respond to emergencies had not been affected.
“As teams diligently work to restore our network, it would not be prudent right now to go into specifics about police operations,” department spokeswoman Lisa Bender told Reuters. “We have begun to do some tasks manually, and continue to look for other ‘workarounds’ so that we can continue to serve the public with the same level of service they have come to expect.”

City workers turned away residents trying to pay their water bills and attend scheduled traffic court hearings, saying the cyber attack had halted work at those departments.

A senior U.S. cyber security official told Reuters there were no indications the Atlanta attack was related to the one in Baltimore.

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During the Baltimore outage, details of incoming callers seeking emergency support could not be electronically relayed to dispatchers, forcing call center staff to do so manually, Johnson said.

The impacted computer was isolated and taken offline and the computer-assisted dispatch system was fully restored by early Monday morning, he said.

“These critical services were not impacted nor disrupted at any time,” Johnson said in a statement.

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A spokesman for the mayor’s office declined to say if the city had identified any suspects behind the breach, if any data was stolen or if other city services had been recently targeted in cyber attacks.

An FBI spokesman told the Baltimore Sun that the bureau was providing technical assistance. The regional FBI office in Baltimore could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Reporting by Dustin Volz in Washington; Additional reporting by David Beasley in Atlanta; Editing by Dan Grebler and Jim Finkle


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Buffalo has a long history of protecting cops from criminal charges: report

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On Saturday, The Daily Beast documented the recent history of use of force in the Buffalo Police Department, which is reeling from controversy as two officers face assault charges for shoving a 75-year-old protester to the ground.

"As shocking as this all may be to outsiders, the shoving of demonstrator Martin Gugino and the defiant response of officers to an effort to discipline two of their own is indicative of the state of police affairs in Buffalo," wrote Jim Heaney. "Has been for a long time, not that you have to go back too far to find other episodes of brutality that have been captured on video."

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Internet disgusted after Buffalo first responders cheer cops charged with assaulting 75-year-old protester

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Commenters on Twitter expressed both contempt and disgust for Buffalo firefighters and police officers who turned out in front of Buffalo City Court to support two suspended police officers with applause and cheering.

Moments after officers Aaron Torglaski and Robert McCabe were charged with second-degree assault and then released without having to post bail, they were greeted as heroes outside the courthouse.

After a video was posted showing the celebration, commenters on Twitter vented at cops and firefighters for defending the two officers who assaulted the 75-year-old man who had to be rushed to a hospital after they shoved him to the ground where he sustained a head injury.

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Donald Trump’s lurch toward fascism is backfiring spectacularly

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

During the 2016 campaign, as Donald Trump railed against "Mexican rapists" and other "criminal aliens," pollsters found that the share of Americans who said that immigrants worked hard and made a positive contribution to our society increased significantly, and noticed a similar decline in the share who said they take citizens' jobs and burden our social safety net. After Trump was elected and began pursuing his Muslim ban, the share of respondents who held a positive view of Islam also increased pretty dramatically. I'm not aware of any polling of the general public about transgender troops serving in the military before Trump decided to discharge them, but Gallup found that 71 percent of respondents opposed his position after he did.

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