The Jury Talks Back

6/14/2019

African-American Lawmaker Removed From Keynote At Black Hat Cybersecurity Conference

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 5:44 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Last month I posted about the mind-boggling selection of Hillary Clinton giving the keynote speech at the 2019 Cyber Defense Summit.

Untitled

Still mind-boggling.

And now this: Just one day after it was announced that Rep. Will Hurd would be a featured keynote speaker at this year’s Black Hat cybersecurity conference, Black Hat caved to pressure, and ungraciously dumped him because he he thinks for himself, and doesn’t walk in lockstep with conference attendees and supporters:

Hurd, a former undercover CIA officer and an advocate for cybersecurity on Capitol Hill, was invited to speak at Black Hat, one of biggest cyber security conferences in the country, being held in Las Vegas in August. But Tech Crunch security editor Zach Whittaker highlighted on Thursday what he described was Hurd’s “terrible voting record on women’s rights.” It includes voting against funding for Planned Parenthood, programs supporting women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields, and his support on restricting late-term abortions.

Black Hat initially defended its decision to invite Hurd, saying in a statement “Hurd has a strong background in computer science and information security and has served as an advocate for specific cybersecurity initiatives in Congress,” adding that he will offer a “unique perspective” at the conference.

That did not, however, halt the uproar from the cybersecurity community, with some threatening to pull their involvement in the conference.

Ironically, participants were concerned about his lack of concern for women, as evidenced by his votes to protect unborn women, as well as citing his lack of support for minorities*:

One person who we asked for permission to quote said Hurd’s voting record was “simply awful” for women’s rights.

Others in tweets said the move doesn’t reflect well on companies sponsoring the event.

Kat Fitzgerald, an infosec professional and regular conference speaker, told TechCrunch that Hurd’s choosing was a “painfully poor choice” for a keynote speaker. “Simply put, in 2019 women and *minorities continue to be ignored,” she said.

Although abortion rights and cybersecurity may seem like unrelated topics, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate social issues from technology and gatherings. It’s also valid for attendees to express concern that the keynote speaker at a professional security conference opposes what many will consider a human right.

*Psst: Will Hurd is an African-American male.

Hurd’s office eloquently set the record straight in response to the decision to disinvite Hurd:

“Representative Hurd was honored to be invited and hopes that the Black Hat Conference is a success,” said Katie Thompson, Hurd’s communications director, via email.

“Congressman Hurd has always sought to engage groups of people that don’t necessarily agree with all of his votes or opinions. That’s why Rep. Hurd is one of the loudest voices for bipartisanship in Congress.”

She continued: “This Congress alone he voted for equal pay for equal work, for the Violence Against Women Act and the Equality Act.”

Hm, given the obvious lack of self-awareness, the email response may have sailed right over all the black hats involved:

Black Hat vowed that the conference is “still fully dedicated to providing an inclusive environment and apologize that this decision did not reflect that sentiment.”

Because dumping an independent, free-thinking African-American from a keynote is reflective of an inclusive environment, am I right?? Idiots. I’ll say this though: They’re absolutely right that their decision does not reflect their claimed sentiment.

–Dana

Lineup for First 2020 Democratic Debate

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 1:18 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Debate season is just about upon us. Hoo boy, anything is possible in the Thunderdome.

Of the 20 qualifying candidates, these are the top five contenders at this point in time: Biden, Sanders, Harris and Buttigieg and Warren. The two nights of debate will be held in Miami.

Here is the lineup for June 26:

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro
Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney
Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan

Here is the lineup for June 27:

Former Vice President Joe Biden
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
California Sen. Kamala Harris
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet
Author Marianne Williamson
California Rep. Eric Swalwell
Businessman Andrew Yang
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper

How disappointing that Sanders and Warren won’t be on stage together to entertainingly try and out-socialism each other. Of course, his “Americans would be delighted to pay more taxes” silliness is still fresh in people’s minds, and her American Indian issues are still making the news. They’ve got problems. Clearly front-runner Biden will be the main target of the other contenders on the second night. And boy, has he given them some stuff to work with: flip-floppingon abortion, finger-wagging condescension toward women, flip-flopping on China threat, etc. I’m surprised that “spirituality guru” Marianne Williamson made the cut while Governor Bullock of Montana didn’t. Bullock being the only candidate to win a statewide election in a state won by Trump…But then again, we’re talking California and Montana.

Here is some background on how the matchups were decided:

According to NBC, the media sponsor for the first debate, a representative from NBC News Standards & Practices conducted the drawing.

Each campaign was invited to send one representative to NBC headquarters at Rockefeller Center in New York for the noon drawing. According to people in the room, the names were drawn and then NBC determined which set of Democratic hopefuls would debate on either night.

NBC announced that candidate podium placements would be based on polling and announced closer to the debates.

Candidates had to qualify for the first debate by either receiving at least 1% support in three polls from an approved list of pollsters or received campaign contributions from 65,000 unique donors, including 200 donors each from 20 different states.
Three Democratic hopefuls — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton and Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam — did not qualify for the first contest.

Let the games begin.

–Dana


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