Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Jeff Bezos hack could happen to anyone

A new investigation suggests that the hacking of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s phone stems from a WhatsApp account linked to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and one seemingly innocuous video file. The alleged hack shows that security online is never guaranteed, even on this very popular Facebook-owned encrypted messaging app. And that’s something to keep in mind even if you aren’t a billionaire. How Jeff Bezos allegedly got hacked, explained First reported by the Guardian and the Financial Times, the investigation found that an iPhone X belonging to Bezos was hacked after it received...

The controversy over the new immigration novel American Dirt, explained

The new novel American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, officially released on Tuesday, was anointed the biggest book of the season well before it ever came out. It sold to Flatiron Books at auction for a reported seven-figure advance. Flatiron announced a first print run of 500,000 copies. (For most authors, a print run of 20,000 is pretty good.) It received glowing blurbs from luminaries like Stephen King, John Grisham, and Sandra Cisneros. Early trade reviews were rapturous. The New York Times had it reviewed twice — once in the daily paper, once in the weekly Book Review — and also...

Exclusive: State Department cable shows plan to restrict pregnant people from...

The State Department has told US embassies across the world to deny visas to people they suspect are coming to the US to give birth, according to diplomatic cables obtained by Vox — guidance that gives broad discretion to consular officers and could prove dangerous to pregnant people seeking medical care. The cable, sent Wednesday afternoon and marked “sensitive but unclassified,” turns a suspicion among immigration restrictionists that people are trying to game America’s visa system into official US policy, starting on Friday, January 24. The apparent goal is to clamp down on foreigners giving birth to children in the...

Chief Justice John Roberts calls for decorum as impeachment devolves into...

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts issued a stern warning to the House impeachment managers and President Donald Trump’s counsel in the final hours of the first day of the Senate impeachment trial after speeches by both sides began to feature personal attacks. Both House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler and White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow called each other liars; Nadler accused senators of treachery; and Sekulow said it was Nadler who was being treacherous. “It is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the president’s counsel...

The glaring problem in Trump’s legal argument against impeachment

This weekend, while most Americans were enjoying an extra day off, the US House managers of President Trump’s impeachment and Trump himself both filed their opening briefs in the impeachment trial. The House manager’s brief is more than 100 pages long and reads, well, like a legal brief. It details, with citations to legal authorities and to the record, the evidence that Trump pressured Ukraine “help him win his own reelection by announcing investigations that were politically favorable for President Trump and designed to harm his political rival,” as well as evidence that Trump obstructed the congressional investigation into his...

San Francisco Pride voted to ban Google and YouTube from its...

Google and YouTube may no longer be welcome at one of the world’s largest LGBTQ Pride Parades. Last week, members of the organization San Francisco Pride (SF Pride) voted to ban Google from participating in future celebrations, saying that the company doesn’t do enough to protect LGBTQ persons on its platforms, particularly those who are the target of harassment and hate speech on YouTube. The move is a significant shift in attitude towards a company that historically has been regarded as a corporate leader in its support of the LGBTQ community, and is now under scrutiny for its perceived...

The Saudi crown prince reportedly hacked Jeff Bezos

It’s been a while, but remember that allegation that the Saudi government may have hacked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos? A report in the Guardian claims it wasn’t just any Saudi government hacker — it might have been Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) himself. Sources claim MBS may have personally sent Bezos a video file on May 1, 2018, via a WhatsApp chat. It’s not clear what the video contained, the Guardian says. “But a forensic technical analysis of the file has found that it is ‘highly probable’ it contained malware that penetrated Bezos’s mobile phone and exfiltrated a large...

Marc Benioff picks a new fight with Silicon Valley — over...

Marc Benioff is betting on the power of trees. Benioff, the garrulous billionaire founder of Salesforce, loves to needle other tech leaders for being insufficiently civic-minded. On Tuesday, he took his routine to Davos, Switzerland, and the World Economic Forum. That’s where he announced that he and his wife would provide the financial backing for a new platform, 1t.org, that will support an ongoing global initiative to plant, restore, or conserve 1 trillion trees over the next decade. The Trillion Trees Initiative is a novel strategy to limit the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s one that some activists are...

What to expect at Trump’s Senate impeachment trial

President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial kicks off in earnest this week, with the action on the Senate floor beginning Tuesday at 1 pm Eastern. And that means that soon, we’ll finally see the prosecution (the House impeachment managers) and the defense (Trump’s legal team) make their cases on whether Trump should be removed from office. It’s a historic moment, as it’s only the third impeachment trial in American history — yet unless something dramatic changes, Trump appears to be on the road to an acquittal, due to the chamber’s Republican majority. The first order of business for the Senate Tuesday...

AI can help find illegal opioid sellers online. And wildlife traffickers....

An estimated 130 people die from opioid-related drug overdoses each day in the United States, and 2 million people had an opioid use disorder in 2018. This public health crisis has left officials scrambling for ways to cut down on illegal sales of these controlled substances, including online sales. Now the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, is investing in an artificial intelligence-based tool to track how “digital drug dealers” and illegal internet pharmacies market and sell opioids (though online transactions are likely...