May 19, 2022

Pipeline Cyberattack Believed to be by Russian Criminal Group; Scarlett Johansson Slammed Golden Globes; Kentucky Derby Winner Failed Drug Test; Chicago Remembers Thompson Center Designer; 1,000 Feral Cats Used to Fight Chicago Rat Problem

Top U.S. Pipeline Cyberattack Believed to be Initiated by Russian Criminal Group

DarkSide, a criminal group originating from Russia, is believed to be the organization behind the ransomware cyberattack on a major U.S. pipeline last Friday, according to a former cybersecurity official. Colonial Pipeline Company, the operator of 5,500 miles of pipeline that carries 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supplies, halted its systems after being hit by a ransomware attack. The source said the DarkSide typically targets non-Russian-speaking countries.

Around 100 million gallons of gasoline and other fuels are transported daily by the Colonial Pipeline from Houston to the New York Harbor. It learned of the cyberattack on Friday, and it immediately paused its operations in order to contain the breach.

The White House assembled an interagency working group over the weekend to prepare for various scenarios in response to the attack. A White House official said one of the plans is taking additional steps to mitigate any potential impact on the country’s fuel supply. The interagency group is led by the Department of Energy, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security.

The Company said it is working to develop a restart plan for its pipeline system and restoring its affected I.T. systems. Its main lines are still offline, but a few smaller lines between terminals and delivery points have returned to normal operations, the Company said in an official statement on Sunday.

“Over the past 48 hours, Colonial Pipeline personnel has taken additional precautionary measures to help further monitor and protect the safety and security of its pipeline,” the latest statement said. “We will bring our full system back online only when we believe it is safe to do so and in full compliance with the approval of all federal regulations.” It added.

After a federal emergency declaration on much of the East and Gulf Coasts in response to the pipeline shutdown, tanker truck drivers will be allowed to work longer hours, the U.S. Department of Transportation said on Sunday. The exemption will be applied to transporting diesel, jet fuel, gasoline, and other refined petroleum products. 

Scarlett Johansson Slammed Golden Globes Over Diversity Issues

Scarlett Johansson joined the voice of Mark Ruffalo in calling out the Golden Globes over diversity issues. Johansson says it’s time for Hollywood to ‘step back’ from the organization behind the Golden Globes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA). Along with Mark Ruffalo, a fellow Marvel actor, she took an offensive stance against the group this weekend, joining the rising voices GLAAD, Amazon Studios, Netflix, and Hollywood PR firms.

The HFPA, a journalist body of 87 members, received a massive backlash for months for its lack of diversity, admitting in February that it has no black members. Heavy criticism was thrown at HFPA earlier this year when the Los Angeles Times highlighted the fact that not a single one of its members was Black.

Johansson slammed the HFPA as “an organization that was legitimized by the likes of Harvey Weinstein to amass momentum for Academy recognition.” She added that for someone with a movie to promote, appearing at HFPA press conferences and shows means answering sexist questions and taking remarks by HFPA members that are bordering on sexual harassment.

“Unless there is necessary fundamental reform within the organization, I believe it is time that we take a step back from the HFPA,” Johansson wrote.

Recently, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos and Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke have pledged to stay away from the HFPA until significant reforms are made.

“Honestly, as a recent winner of a Golden Globe, I cannot feel proud or happy about being a recipient of this award,” Ruffalo said in a statement, referencing his win for last year’s I Know This Much Is True. “It’s discouraging,” Ruffalo added, “To see the HFPA, which has gained prominence and profited handsomely from their involvement with filmmakers and actors, resist the change that is being asked of them from many of the groups that have been most disenfranchised by their culture of secrecy and exclusion.”

Ruffalo said that the organization’s stated plan to expand its membership rolls over the next 18 months was a little too late. His sentiment is shared by Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and many others who condemn the HFPA’s action.

Kentucky Derby Winner Failed the Drug Test After the Race

Medina Spirit, the 2021 Kentucky Derby winner, came out positive for corticosteroid betamethasone in a post-race drug test, trainer Bob Baffert revealed on Sunday. The test showed 21 picograms of the steroid in a post-race sample, which is twice the legal threshold in Kentucky racing. Churchill Downs suspended the Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, and if the results are upheld, the victory will be invalidated.

Horses trained by Baffert have failed drug tests several times, and Medina Spirit is the fifth horse to fail a drug test this year. Last year, Betamethasone became the center of a controversy when Gamine, Baffert’s third-place finisher in the Kentucky Oaks, tested positive for the corticosteroid after split tests.

Along his legal team, Baffert held a press conference denying any illegal substances being introduced to the horses. He denied any responsibility for Medina Spirit’s positive test but acknowledged a problem with doping in horse racing.

“I’m worried about our sport,” Baffert said. “Our sport, we’ve taken a lot of hits as a sport. These are pretty serious accusations here, but we’re going to get to the bottom of it and find out. We know we didn’t do it.” 

“I got the biggest gut-punch in racing for something I didn’t do. I don’t feel embarrassed; I feel like I was wronged,” Baffert added, saying that he will fully cooperate with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

“We’re going to show them everything. One thing about it in California, everything is documented every day what the horse gets. This horse was never treated with that. He’s a great horse; he doesn’t deserve this. He ran a gallant race.”

The trainer, a winner of seven Kentucky Derby, plans to launch his own investigation and fight the allegations. 

Darren Rovell of The Action Network noted that regardless of the result of the investigation, the bettors who took Medina Spirit at 12-1 odds will keep their payout. However, the purses earned by Baffert, jockey John Velazquez, and Medina Spirit’s ownership group from the Kentucky Derby will be forfeited.

Mandaloun will be named the winner of the 2021 Kentucky Derby if Medina Spirit is stripped of the title. Dancer’s Image is the only horse to be disqualified for medication after winning the Kentucky Derby in 1968.

Chicago Remembers Designer of Thompson Center, Architect Helmut Jahn

A distinguished German architect known in Chicago as the designer of the City’s Thompson Center, Helmut Jahn, was remembered Sunday for his creativity and incredible architectural designs.

Jahn, 81, was struck by two vehicles while riding a bicycle Saturday afternoon in the suburban village of Campton Hills. He was declared dead at the place of the incident. According to Campton Hills Police Chief Steven Miller in a news release, Jahn failed to yield at a stop sign in an intersection and was smacked by the two vehicles running in opposite directions.

In an official profile on his firm’s website, Jahn was born in 1940 in Germany and studied at the Technische Hochschule in Munich. He moved to Chicago to study under the legendary architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the creator of modernist architecture, in 1966.

“He was what we call a ‘Starchitect,’ or what we call a star architect, long before the term was coined. He was as much known for his persona as his buildings, but I think, unlike many star architects, he never froze in a single style but kept evolving throughout his career,” said Blair Kamin of Chicago Tribune.

“His buildings are just great places to be,” said Reed Kroloff, dean of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), College of Architecture.” They make you happy to be in them. You’re excited, and there is always something dynamic and dazzling going on around you.”

Jahn’s legacy on the IIT campus stands prominently. The housing building for the students he designed, called the State Street Village, was recognized as one of the most modern dorms in the country by the U.S. News and World Report.

Several of Jahn’s significant projects include Chicago’s McCormick Place and the United Airlines terminal at O’Hare International Airport, which features a famous walkway with gorgeous colorful lights.

“One thing I can take away from this is his bravado. He always had a command and confidence that he used,” said Stewart Hicks, a professor of architecture at the University of Illinois.

1,000 Feral Cats Used to Fight Chicago Rat Problem

Chicago has been identified as the rattiest city in America by the extermination company Orkin for six consecutive years. The Tree House Humane Society, a Chicago animal shelter, placed over 1,000 feral cats into the Chicago streets to combat this urban rodent infestation situation since 2012 through their Cats at Work Program.

The Tree House, founded in 1971, was borne out of a dream of a group of volunteers who wanted to improve the lives of homeless animals in the streets of Chicago. They are a pioneer in the field of animal welfare, and to celebrate their 50 years, they have recently opened a state-of-the-art Veterinary Wellness Center.

The shelter’s Community Cats and Cats at Work Programs have grown exponentially. During the Community Cats trap-neuter-return campaign, there are cases when the cats are not adoptable or cannot be returned to their former colonies. It can be due to various reasons, including the demolition of their former colony, or the location is dangerous for the cats. The efforts to address these special cases resulted in the creation of the Cats at Work Program.

“Cats are placed two or three at a time into residential or commercial settings in order to provide environmentally friendly rodent control,” Sarah Liss of Tree House said. “Property and business owners provide food, water, shelter, and wellness to the cats who work for them. In most cases, our Cats at Work become beloved members of the family or team, and some even have their own Instagram pages.”

“We’ve had a lot of our clients tell us that before they had cats, they would step outside their house, and rats would actually run across their feet,” Liss added.

The cats do not eat many rats in general, but when the cats are introduced to a new area, it will occasionally kill them when they first arrive. In the long run, the cats’ presence becomes a deterrent.
“They are actually deterring them with their pheromones,” Liss said. “That’s enough to keep the rats away.”

The Tree House Humane Society’s Cats at Work program is an environmentally safe alternative to poison.