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Beto O'Rourke. Photo: Loren Elliott/Getty Images

Beto O'Rourke, current presidential candidate, was once "Psychedelic Warlord," member of the Cult of the Dead Cow hacker group in the late 1980s, according to Joseph Menn in Reuters.

Why it matters: This is the kind of jagged edge that sticks out on a presidential candidate's resume. For instance, now-Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.) received more attention for having been a rapper during his 2018 campaign than for being a Harvard Law grad or a Rhodes Scholar.

Details: O'Rourke was a member of the Lubbock, Texas-based Cult of the Dead Cow before heading to college.

  • He acknowledges using cracked software and tricks to obtain free long distance phone calls.
  • O'Rourke's writings as Psychic Warlord are still visible online.
  • He credits Cult of the Dead Cow for his understanding of technological issues and his desire to see a free and open internet, including his stance in favor of net neutrality.

Our thought bubble: It's easy to look at membership in a hacker group as a signal O'Rourke is some kind of secret anarchist, but the hacker groups of the '80s and '90s have produced people with civic bone fides.

  • Peiter Zatko, aka Mudge, a member of both the Cult of the Dead Cow and The L0pht, a Boston group with significant overlap, advised then-President Clinton on DDoS attacks and worked at DARPA.
  • Katie Moussouris, once associated with the L0pht, helped negotiate a cybersecurity trade pact for the State Department and played a major role in the Department of Defense's bug bounty program
  • The grownup versions of late 1980s hackers ultimately founded several influential cybersecurity firms, and the L0pht testified before congress en masse on securing the internet in 1998.

Hacking in the late 1980s and early 1990s didn't just appeal to people who actively wanted to rob, steal and tear the system down. It was both a countercultural movement and, before universities started cybersecurity programs in bulk, an information sharing community many computer security enthusiasts went to in order to learn the field.

Go deeper

Updated 7 mins ago - World

Russia says it fired warning shots at British destroyer in Black Sea

The HMS Defender in the port of Odessa on Ukraine's Black Sea coast on June 18. Photo: Konstantin Sazonchik\TASS via Getty Images

Russia's defense ministry claimed Wednesday that a Russian warship and fighter jet fired "warning" shots at the British Royal Navy’s HMS Defender destroyer for encroaching on waters near Crimea in the Black Sea.

The latest: The U.K.'s ministry of defense disputed that any warning shots were fired, saying in a statement, "We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity."

Mike Allen, author of AM
Updated 32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

First look: WaPo Trump book's secret title revealed

Cover: Penguin Press

The Washington Post's Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker will be out July 20 with "I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year," Penguin Press announced.

Breaking: Axios has learned that The Wall Street Journal's Michael Bender is moving "Frankly, We Did Win the Election" up to July 20, matching Leonnig-Rucker, from his earlier pub date of Aug. 10.

Shell and GM unveil partnership on Texas power and car-charging

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

General Motors and a Shell-owned power company will unveil a partnership on Wednesday aimed at providing renewable electricity to Texas customers and free overnight charging to state residents who own GM electric cars.

Why it matters: It’s a new way for two corporate giants to expand their operations in a way that lowers emissions at the customer and supplier level.

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