Kurt Niland

4355 posts

Kurt Niland has been a professional editor and writer for 15 years. He is the author of four books and a number of articles for trade journals, newspapers, magazines, and web blogs. He attended New Mexico State University, the University of New Mexico, and Auburn University Montgomery, where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English. His lifelong interests in geography, anthropology, political science, literature, and religion fuel his writing and inspire him to travel at every opportunity. Originally from Connecticut, Kurt has resided in Montgomery, Alabama since 1991.

Equifax Was Hacked in March, Months Before Disclosed Data Breach


New information about the Equifax data breach that exposed 143 million Americans to potential identity theft and financial loss calls into question the credit-reporting agency’s response to serious security issues. According to Bloomberg, inside sources say that Equifax learned of a major breach of its computer systems in March – months earlier than it previously admitted to. Although the relationship between the two data breaches is unclear, one of Bloomberg’s sources said they involved the same hackers. Both times, the intruders appeared to have exploited a weakness in the Apache Struts web server software that Equifax had patched on some of its ... Read More

Judge Files Whistleblower Complaint Accusing California Regulators of Retaliation

whistleblower retaliation

The former chief administrative law judge at the California Public Utilities Commission is filing a whistleblower complaint against the utility regulator, alleging she was fired for cooperating with federal investigators probing the Commission’s lax oversight of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). According to The Mercury News, Judge Karen Valentina Clopton claims the Utilities Commission dismissed her from her top-ranking judicial position in August in retaliation for her cooperation with federal investigators probing the 2010 natural gas explosion that destroyed a San Bruno, California neighborhood. The explosion occurred when an old 30-inch natural gas pipeline ruptured underneath a suburban neighborhood just ... Read More

Frontier Hit With $1.5 Million DOT Fine for Too-Long Tarmac Delays

Frontier airlines plane on runway - Wikimedia Commons

U.S. transportation regulators hit Frontier Airlines with a near-record fine of $1.5 million for violating a federal law prohibiting passenger planes from excessively long tarmac delays. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, an investigation led by the agency’s Aviation Enforcement Office found that from Dec. 16-18, 2016, Frontier allowed a dozen of its domestic flights to remain on the tarmac at Denver International Airport for more than three hours without allowing passengers an opportunity to deplane. The long tarmac delays on these 12 flights occurred during and after a large snowstorm. Federal transportation rules prohibit U.S. airlines from allowing ... Read More

NTSB Reports on Deadly Tesla ‘Autopilot’ Crash

Tesla automobile

A semi-autonomous Tesla Model S that crashed in Florida last year, killing its driver, had “operational limits” that played a major role in the accident, federal investigators said. The main shortcomings of Tesla’s semi-autonomous technology involved the vehicle’s inability to monitor and ensure driver attention, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found. Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, died when his semi-autonomous Tesla car failed to apply its brakes as a tractor-trailer turned left in front of it. The May 7 crash occurred on a divided highway in Williston, Florida. Mr. Brown’s death was the first death to occur in a self-driving ... Read More

Equifax Data Breach Prompts Consumer Protection Bills


Several Democratic senators have introduced consumer-protection bills aimed at preventing another cyberattack like the Equifax data breach that compromised the financial data and other sensitive information of 143 million U.S. consumers. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz introduced the “Freedom from Equifax Exploitation” (FREE) Act to give control over credit and other personal information back to consumers. Sen. Warren’s office said the Equifax hack highlighted just how little control consumers have over the collection, use, and sale of their highly sensitive personal data. “Credit reporting agencies like Equifax make billions of dollars collecting and selling personal data ... Read More

Plane Crash That Killed Couple Featured on HGTV Under Investigation

HGTV renovation graphic

Federal investigators said that a full review of a plane crash that killed three people near Savannah, Georgia, Aug. 28 is underway but the probe could take more than a year to conclude. The plane crash killed pilot Randy Hunter and his passengers Byron and Catherine Cocke, who were featured on an episode of HGTV’s My Big Amazing Renovation, which followed the renovation of their family home. The episode, titled “Going Big in Georgia,” aired in 2011. Mr. Hunter, 39, took off from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport about 8:30 a.m. with the Cockes aboard. Shortly after takeoff, Mr. Hunter reported ... Read More

If Equifax Calls You, Hang up. It’s A Scam.


The Equifax data breach has caused millions of U.S. consumers anxiety over the potential risk of identity theft. But whether you were personally affected by the Equifax hack, U.S. regulators want you to be aware of other potential scams arising from the breach. The first thing to note is that Equifax is not going to call you, so if you get a call and someone on the other end says, “This is Equifax calling to verify your account information,” don’t tell them anything and hang up. Other scammers may try to trick you into giving sensitive personal information over the ... Read More

Carnage, destruction after Tour Bus crashes into city bus in Queens

bus crash, New York, Queens, tour bus - surveillance camera photo via NY Daily News

A tour bus speeding through New York City streets crashed into a city bus Monday morning, killing three people and injuring 16 others. “We’ve had a really tragic morning here in Flushing, Queens,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told the press. “It’s just shocking to see the scene over there. Hard to compare it to anything I’ve ever seen — the sheer destruction from the impact of the collision.” Authorities have just started an investigation of the bus crash, but evidence shows that “an enormous amount of speed” contributed to the accident, the Associated Press reported, citing Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman ... Read More

Movie Producers Seek Indemnity In Fatal Airplane-Crash Suits

Tom Cruise - Wikimedia Commons

An airplane crash that killed two men and seriously injured a third while filming the Tom Cruise movie American Made in 2015 has spawned multiple lawsuits, including one filed Sept. 8 by four production companies seeking indemnity for damages awarded against them in other lawsuits. The lawsuit, filed in California, seeks to hold S&S Aviation, a Georgia company responsible for maintaining the airplane that crashed, at least partly responsible for any damages and lawyer fees resulting from the wrongful death and personal injury claims the production companies face. The movie “American Made” is set to be released later this month. It ... Read More

Medicare Issuing New Cards To Curb Identity Theft

Medicare card - Wikimedia Commons

To guard against identity theft and other forms of fraud that harm Medicare and its beneficiaries, the U.S. government will be issuing new Medicare cards that no longer show the beneficiary’s social security number. The new cards will display a new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) that will be used for billing and for checking the eligibility and claim status. Just as importantly, these new cards will be issued automatically, without the need to give anyone any additional information, for any reason. “Having your Social Security number removed from your Medicare card helps fight medical identity theft and protects your medical ... Read More