Russian Man Indicted for Hacking 117 Million LinkedIn Passwords
A federal grand jury indicted a Russian man this week in connection with hacking LinkedIn and stealing 117 million passwords.
Czech police arrested Yevgeniy Aleksandrovich Nikulin, 29, Wednesday in Prague. Nikulin allegedly hacked LinkedIn in March 2012. Prosecutors also alleged Nikulin hacked social media site Formspring and file sharing site Dropbox. He now faces nine criminal counts after his Thursday indictment.
In court papers, federal agents aren't clear about what exactly Nikulin stole -- or how he planned to profit from their sale online. But the government claims Nikulin worked with at least two others in the attempt to make the business deals.
His arrest is the latest chapter in growing cyber tensions between the U.S. and Russia. While there is no indication that these hacks were sanctioned by the Russian government, federal authorities have pinned other hacks on the Kremlin.
NFL Kicker Placed on Paid Leave After Abuse Revelation
Josh Brown, the New York Giants kicker who admitted to domestic abuse against his then-wife, has been placed on paid leave by the NFL.
While the league investigates these recent revelations, the NFL put Brown on the commissioner’s exempt list, ESPN reports. Brown cannot play or attend games but, with the team’s permission, he is allowed to work out and receive treatment at the team’s facility. A player may be on the exempt list indefinitely.
In a letter sent Friday, Adolpho Birch, a senior vice president for the NFL, told Brown the league will investigate documents released earlier this week from the King County Sheriff’s Office in Washington, which revealed a history of domestic violence and details surrounding a 2015 arrest.
In those documents, Brown referred to himself as a “physically, mentally, emotionally and verbally... repulsive man.” In one entry, he said that he viewed himself as “God” and his then-wife, Molly, as “my slave.”
Brown’s tenure with the Giants is likely over, and it’s unclear if any teams will sign him in the future. The Giants signed another kicker, Robbie Gould, to fill the current void left by Brown.
In the meantime, Giants head coach Ben McAdoo offered his support to Brown, saying Friday, “We’re not going to turn our back on Josh.”
Facebook says it’s relaxing its rules on explicit posts after feedback from our community and partners.
Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global public policy, and Justin Osofsky, the company’s vice president of global operations and media partnerships, wrote in a blog post that in “the weeks ahead, we’re going to begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest—even if they might otherwise violate our standards.”
The move follows two recent controversies about posts that Facebook pulled because they apparently violated its Community Standards. One of those posts was Nick Ut’s iconic, Pulitzer Prize-winning black-and-white photograph of a naked girl, wailing in pain in the aftermath of a napalm attack during the Vietnam War. Then this week, a video posted by the Swedish Cancer Society to promote breast-cancer awareness didn’t make it past Facebook’s censors. The company apologized and reversed itself in both cases.
Canada’s Prospects of a Trade Deal With the EU Appear Dead
Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s trade minister, walked out of talks Friday in Belgium, declaring the European Union incapable of ratifying a long-discussed trans-Atlantic free-trade deal.
All 28 EU governments support the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), but the agreement was held up because one of Belgium’s five subdivisions has not signed off. Without French-speaking Wallonia’s affirmation, Belgium cannot give assent to CETA. Walloon lawmakers are concerned that CETA, and a stalled plan for a similar deal with the United States, risk degrading consumer, labor, and environmental protections, while granting excessive power to multinational corporations. But supporters say the agreement could increase trade by 20 percent.
“Canada has worked, and I personally have worked, very hard,” Freeland, who was a visibly distraught after the talks, said. “But it is now evident to me, evident to Canada, that the European Union is incapable of reaching an agreement.”
CETA was set to be signed at an EU-Canada summit next Thursday in the presence of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
This issue could serve as an ominous forecast for future EU economic deals, including with the UK, which voted over the summer to leave the bloc and is still unsure about the shape of trade relations with it.
Chemical Spill at Kansas Food Plant Sends 54 to Hospital
Updated at 4:06 p.m. ET
A chemical spill Friday at an Atchison, Kansas, food-processing plant sent a thick fog into the air and a chlorine-like smell, spurring evacuations and warnings from emergency officials.
Fifty-four people have been admitted to Atchison Hospital for upper-respiratory discomfort, including one into the intensive-care unit, TC Roberts, the hospital’s marketing and public relations director, said in an interview. Two of the women were pregnant and being monitored, Roberts said. The hospital was following poison-control protocol.
The spill occurred at 8:02 a.m. at MGP Ingredients, a food-and-alcohol plant, Atchison City Manager Trey Cocking said. Citing city officials, the Kansas CIty Star reports the reaction was caused after two chemicals were inadvertently mixed together.
The Kansas Department of Transportation confirmed that the two chemicals were sodium hypochlorite—a salt-based chemical mainly used for bleaching—and sulphuric acid, according to public-affairs manager, Kimberly Qualls. Exposure to sodium hypochlorite can cause upper respiratory issues due to the corrosive effects of chlorine. The city would not confirm which chemicals were mixed.
Atchison city officials said shortly before 11 a.m. that the situation was under control and all-clear was being given.
Shortly after the spill, Atchison County emergency officials urged people to stay out of town.
Residents of Atchison who live north of the plant were being told to stay inside with their doors and windows shut.
Atchison is located in northeast Kansas, about 40 miles from Kansas City.
Images from social media showed a thick gray plume clouding the air.
The European Space Agency (ESA) said Friday its experimental Mars lander, Schiaparelli, may have exploded in a crash landing on the planet’s surface.
“Estimates are that Schiaparelli dropped from a height of between 2 and 4 kilometres, therefore impacting at a considerable speed, greater than 300 km/h,” the ESA said in a statement. “It is also possible that the lander exploded on impact, as its thruster propellant tanks were likely still full. These preliminary interpretations will be refined following further analysis.”
As my colleague Marina Koren previously reported, Schiaparelli was scheduled to touch down on the red planet Wednesday after a seven-month journey. The mission, conducted jointly between the ESA and Russian space agency Roscosmos, lost contact with the lander shortly after it began its descent. Now, the ESA believes the lander suffered issues during the last 50 seconds of its descent through Mars’s atmosphere, prompting the possible crash.
As I told you earlier this week, we have begun an extensive review of operations as part of a broader transformation program. There will be, unfortunately, an impact on news department staff in this process. In order to limit the number of involuntary layoffs, we will be offering all news employees around the world - management and non-management - the option to elect to take an enhanced voluntary severance benefit. The terms are described in the attached FAQ.
We are seeking a substantial number of employees to elect this benefit, but we reserve the right to reject a volunteer based on business considerations. Employees will be required to sign a separation agreement and release of claims in a form provided by the Company in exchange for the accompanying severance benefits.
I regret of course the need for such a move and I appreciate deeply the dedication all of you continue to show through challenging times. Thanks to your hard work, the news department continues to produce world-class journalism every day and I'm confident this process is the right one to set us on the right footing for renewed growth in the years ahead.
Sydney Ember, The New York Times’s media reporter, pointed out on Twitter that the FAQ section of the memo says “there are no current plans for future buyouts.”
Earlier this week, the newspaper reported that Dow Jones & Co., the Journal’s parent company, “launched a broader review of operations to cut costs in response to a significant decline in print advertising.” More:
The memo didn’t lay out specifics, but people familiar with the situation said one element of the plan involves combining the “Business & Tech” and “Money & Investing” sections. That would be aimed at reducing production costs, and wouldn’t signal a cutback in coverage in those core areas, one of the people said.
The newspaper’s report quoted unnamed sources as saying the revamp “could include a reduction of head count.”
Looks like whoever launched this morning’s attack on the internet is at it again, shutting down access to Twitter, Reddit, Netflix, and other sites. Around noon ET, domain name server company Dyn said hackers had once again targeted them with a distributed denial of service attack, flooding their servers with nonsense and hampering their ability to properly direct internet traffic.
This time, the U.S. reports of outages appear more closely centered on the northeast states, with sizable gridlock also seen in Japan, the U.K., and France, according to downdetector.com.
Hundreds of police officers marched in Paris and other French cities Thursday for the fourth night of protests against their working conditions, Agence France-Presse reports.
The officers, who say they are ill-equipped to defend themselves on the job, protested against an increasing workload, bureaucracy, and outdated equipment. They also called on the government to implement fixed minimum sentences for attacks against officers. The demonstrations follow several attacks on police in recent months, including a Molotov cocktail thrown on a patrol car and the killing of a French officer and his partner in June by a man who pledged allegiance to ISIS .
The demonstrations come amid a nationwide state of emergency—which has been in place since last November’s attacks—and will likely play a role in the country’s presidential election in six months. Many of the presidential candidates have used the opportunity to criticize President François Hollande, including Alain Juppé, the center-right candidate, and Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate.
In a statement to police Friday, Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister, said: “You are asking for respect, we owe you that. You are asking for resources, we’ll give you them. You are asking for support, you’ve earned it.”
There Is Nothing Funny About Exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Sticky Bombs
It seems Samsung has little sense of humor when it comes to its combustible Galaxy Note 7 cellphone. The company recalled the Note 7 last month because its lithium-ion batteries can burst into flames. It’s banned by some airlines, and become the butt of a presidential wisecrack. But the joke Samsung didn’t find funny was made this week by video-game enthusiasts.
A gamer who uses the screen name HitmanNiko wrote a code that players can download—called a “mod”—for Grand Theft Auto V that replaces sticky bombs with Samsung’s pyrotechnics-friendly cellphone. Gamers then posted videos to YouTube of their digital character using the phone to blow up people, cars, and helicopters.
Some owners of those YouTube accounts then received copyright-infringement notices, and their videos were removed. One U.S. gamer, who goes by the screen name DoctorGTA, said in a YouTube video his livestream account was suspended after he got an infringement notice from Samsung Electronics America Inc.
So far, Samsung has done a bad job of damage control. This latest move to silence jibes from gamers seems only to have raised more notice that Samsung produced millions of phones that can potentially catch fire.
Here's an example of the sticky-bomb Samsung videos (fast forward to 45 seconds):
America’s Latest Whiskey Rebellion May Be Coming to an End
Jim Beam workers in Kentucky, on strike for the past six days to protest long work hours, were offered a new contract Thursday that includes a company pledge to hire more workers, according to the Associated Press.
About 250 union workers are scheduled to vote on the new contract Friday, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union said.
Workers walked out last Saturday from distilleries at Clermont and Boston, Kentucky, over working hours. Jim Beam workers said they were often forced to work 60-80 hours per week in order to meet the demands of the global bourbon boom.
Clarkson Hine, a company spokesman, said Thursday the company was encouraged by the tentative deal reached with union leaders.
Bourbon, Kentucky’s golden commodity, is a $3 billion a year industry. Ninety-five percent of the world’s bourbon is produced in the state.
Jim Beam is owned by Suntory Holdings Ltd., the Japanese beverage giant. Suntory bought the classic American whisky brand for $16 billion in 2014. In the first six months of 2016, Suntory’s alcohol profits rose 24 percent due to the popularity of its American spirit sales.
ISIS fighters attacked the Iraqi city of Kirkuk Friday, killing at least 19 people, even as Iraqi forces were closing in on Mosul, the group’s last major stronghold in Iraq.
The battle in Kirkuk appears to be ongoing, and there are various versions of what’s exactly happening there. The BBC reported that ISIS fighters attacked government buildings, killing at least six police officers. They also targeted a power station that’s under construction and killed 13 workers. Twelve ISIS fighters were also reportedly killed. Images on social media posted by a Kurdish news site showed Kirkuk residents had hanged at least one suspected ISIS fighter.
The attack is a reminder that while ISIS is losing territory in Iraq and neighboring Syria, it still remains a force to be reckoned with in the region. The attack in Kirkuk comes as Iraqi forces, Kurdish Peshmerga, and their allies—backed by U.S. airstrikes—are trying to retake Mosul, which is about 100 miles northwest of Kirkuk.
About 5,000 ISIS fighters are reportedly still in Mosul, the group’s last major stronghold in Iraq, along with 1.5 million people.
Double-Oh No: Pierce Brosnan Wants Out of Indian Ad Campaign
Pierce Brosnan, the former James Bond star, endorsed what he thought was breath-freshening, tooth-whitening mint. He appeared in Indian newspapers, with his lush beard and arched eyebrow, holding a tin of Pan Bahar. A minute-long TV commercial shows the former 007 cooly waltzing into a fancy hotel, disarming men, women, and a pack of ninjas with his good looks—and a can of Pan Bahar.
But Brosnan is upset now because Pan Bahar is associated in India with addictive forms of chewing tobacco. Those products, which are made from a mixture of nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, and tobacco, are used by millions of Indians and have been linked to cancer. Pan Bahar’s manufacturer, Ashok & Co., told the BBC the public has misconceived their product and there’s neither nicotine or tobacco in it.
In a statement to People magazine, Brosnan said: “As a man who has spent decades championing women’s healthcare and environmental protection, I was distressed to learn of Pan Bahar’s unauthorized and deceptive use of my image to endorse their range of pan masala products. I would never have entered into an agreement to promote a product in India that is dangerous to one’s health.”
Brosnan demanded the company remove his image from all of the company’s products. Here’s a video of the commercial:
Update 9:45 a.m. ET: Dyn, a large domain name service company, reports that it was attacked by a distributed denial-of-service attack around 7 a.m. ET, shutting down access to a number of popular internet sites. As of 9:20 a.m. ET, it had restored service to normal.
Dyn is one of several companies that essentially maintains a master list of websites, translating “CNN.com” into the string of numbers that actually directs readers to the news network’s servers. It appears they were flooded with targeted traffic by an unknown party with the intention of shutting down access to these sites.
Our original post below:
If your internet connection seems slow this morning—especially if you live in the U.S. Northeast—you’re not imagining it. Internet-monitoring service downrightnow.com says Twitter is experiencing a serious outage, and crowd-sourced downdetector.com reports trouble at a slew of popular sites, including CNN, Amazon, Netflix, and Reddit.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, and Donald Trump, her GOP rival, paused their contentious campaign for the presidency for an evening of what was supposed to be light-hearted ribbing and self-effacing humor.
But as my colleague Megan Garber noted, the evening at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner was going according to plan “until Trump decided it was time to tease his opponent a little more sharply.” Trump’s remarks, she said, “went full stream-of-consciousness [and] on the attack.” The crowd, at various points in the night, gasped, booed, booed some more, and then some.
South Africa Says It's Leaving the International Criminal Court
South Africa said Friday it notified the UN on October 19 that it is leaving The Hague-based International Criminal Court.
Michael Masutha, the justice minister, said at a news conference South Africa didn’t want to carry out the ICC’s arrest warrants, which would lead to “regime change.” Masutha said the government would introduce legislation in parliament to withdraw the country from the ICC.
Last year, the government didn’t arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who was in the country despite an ICC warrant against him for his alleged actions in the Darfur region. A South African court criticized the government for that failure.
Human-rights groups condemned Friday’s announcement, and experts predict it will trigger similar decisions by other African nations, many of which believe the ICC is biased against African leaders. The UN declined to comment.
The gap between soaring cases and falling deaths is being weaponized by the right to claim a hollow victory in the face of shameless failure. What’s really going on?
Updated at 1:40 p.m. ET on July 9, 2020.
For the past few weeks, I have been obsessed with a mystery emerging in the national COVID-19 data.
Cases have soared to terrifying levels since June. Yesterday, the U.S. had 62,000 confirmed cases, an all-time high—and about five times more than the entire continent of Europe. Several U.S. states, including Arizona and Florida, currently have more confirmed cases per capita than any other country in the world.
But average daily deaths are down 75 percent from their April peak. Despite higher death counts on Tuesday and Wednesday, the weekly average has largely plateaued in the past two weeks.
The gap between spiking cases and falling-then-flatlining deaths has become the latest partisan flashpoint. President Donald Trump has brushed off the coronavirus surge by emphasizing the lower death rate, saying that “99 percent of [COVID-19 cases] are totally harmless.” On Tuesday, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned Americans against “[taking] comfort in the lower rate of death” just hours before Trump tweeted triumphantly: “Death Rate from Coronavirus is down tenfold!”
The president may eventually face legal liability, but he will not face a public reckoning for his actions before November.
The Supreme Court rebuked Donald Trump, the arrogant president. The Supreme Court has prepared a world of trouble for Donald Trump, the dirty businessman. But the Supreme Court has done a tremendous favor to Donald Trump, the candidate for reelection.
Trump’s legal arguments to protect his business records from subpoena were always miserably flimsy, when not actively crazy. On Trump’s behalf, the Department of Justice urged the Supreme Court to junk precedents dating back to the 1880s. Government lawyers proposed that the Court invent a fantastical new system of judicial oversight of subpoenas of the president. Those arguments were always bound to lose, and in a pair of decisions on Thursday, the Court rejected them.
Their fates are wholly entwined: “You get the Trump stink on you, it’s hard to get it off.”
In private moments, Donald Trump has told aides that he rescued Mike Pence from a potentially embarrassing defeat by pulling him out of a tough reelection bid in the 2016 Indiana governor’s race and putting him on the ticket, a former White House official told me. Now it’s Vice President Pence’s turn to see what, if anything, he can do to rescue Trump from a more momentous loss—and keep alive a long-held ambition to win the presidency in his own right.
Their fates, at this point, are wholly entwined. Pence would have trouble winning in 2024 if voters repudiate Trump in November. Yet even if he runs after a second Trump term, he’d surely be tarnished by the rolling tragedies of 2020. For three years, Pence largely sidestepped Trump’s unending dramas. Not so with the pandemic. Trump pulled Pence from the bubble wrap and plunked him into a crisis, making him the head of the coronavirus task force overwhelmed by COVID-19’s relentless spread. Now Pence is forever tied to the government’s botched response. And that’s something he’ll need to defend and explain as the current campaign ramps up, and if he ever runs for the higher office he’s long prized.
Many American public-health specialists are at risk of burning out as the coronavirus surges back.
Saskia Popescu’s phone buzzes throughout the night, waking her up. It had already buzzed 99 times before I interviewed her at 9:15 a.m. ET last Monday. It buzzed three times during the first 15 minutes of our call. Whenever a COVID-19 case is confirmed at her hospital system, Popescu gets an email, and her phone buzzes. She cannot silence it. An epidemiologist at the University of Arizona, Popescu works to prepare hospitals for outbreaks of emerging diseases. Her phone is now a miserable metronome, ticking out the rhythm of the pandemic ever more rapidly as Arizona’s cases climb. “It has almost become white noise,” she told me.
For many Americans, the coronavirus pandemic has become white noise—old news that has faded into the background of their lives. But the crisis is far from over. Arizona is one of the pandemic’s new hot spots, with 24,000 confirmed cases over the past week and rising hospitalizations and deaths. Popescu saw the surge coming, “but to actually see it play out is heartbreaking,” she said. “It didn’t have to be this way.”
From his financial disclosures to his tax returns to impeachment, the president is finding that stonewalling pays off.
Fifty-five days ago, President Donald Trump was supposed to file his annual personal financial disclosures, which give a broad snapshot of his money situation. The White House gave its employees 45 extra days to file the report, citing the coronavirus pandemic, making the new deadline June 29.
That was 10 days ago, and Trump still hasn’t released the disclosures. The White House told The New YorkTimesthat the president had been given another 45 days, again because of the pandemic, but that he “intends to file as soon as possible.”
Don’t hold your breath, and don’t place any big bets on seeing the documents before November 3. The Trump White House has perfected the art of foot-dragging, producing a regime in which the president is ostensibly required to do certain things as a matter of transparency and accountability—but in reality has wide leeway to avoid them. In theory, rule of law stands. In practice, where it stands is outside the door, rapping fiercely but fruitlessly to come in.
Taste the Nation is breezy in tone, but it exposes the betrayals at the heart of “American” cuisine.
Food, at its essence, is sustenance; that much is simple. Where things get complicated is in all the manifold ways it sustains us. Consider the burrito. In the first episode of Padma Lakshmi’s new Hulu show, Taste the Nation, the food writer and longtime Top Chef host travels to El Paso, Texas, where she attempts to isolate all the different ingredients in one of America’s favorite dishes. At the Jalisco Cafe, a chef griddling oozy eggs with beans on a stovetop tells her that the perfect burrito comes down to an attention to detail. The dish, another interviewee tells Lakshmi, is pure practical convenience: It’s quick to assemble and eat on the way to work. It can also signify a mother’s love, a whole meal swaddled in a pillowy tortilla and tucked into a child’s pocket before the day begins. And, in a city where the hum of helicopters surveying the border adds ambient foreboding to every interaction, burritos also represent the essence of American food: cuisine from one culture cloaked in the imposed ingredients of another (in this case, wheat flour). “A burrito,” Lakshmi observes, “is tradition wrapped in colonization.”
He’s trying to assemble a winning coalition with a dwindling number of sympathetic white voters.
Donald Trump is running for the presidency of an America that no longer exists.
Trump in recent weeks has repeatedly reprised two of Richard Nixon’s most memorable rallying cries, promising to deliver “law and order” for the “silent majority.” But in almost every meaningful way, America today is a radically different country than it was when Nixon rode those arguments to win the presidency in 1968 amid widespread anti-war protests, massive civil unrest following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., white flight from major cities, and rising crime rates. Trump’s attempt to emulate that strategy may only prove how much the country has changed since it succeeded.
Americans today are far more racially diverse, less Christian, better educated, more urbanized, and less likely to be married. In polls, they are more tolerant of interracial and same-sex relationships, more likely to acknowledge the existence of racial discrimination, and less concerned about crime.
If we move too fast, ignore science, or reopen without careful planning, this will backfire.
In any other July, millions of American schoolchildren, their families, and their teachers would be eagerly anticipating, or perhaps dreading, the start of a new school year. This year is different. With coronavirus case counts increasing rapidly in many states, it’s natural to wonder whether there will be school at all.
The pandemic has already taken a toll on the careers of those with young children—particularly mothers.
Child care is the immovable object around which so much else in family life orbits, and when the usual child-care options disappear, something else has to give. During the pandemic, with schools and day-care centers closed or operating at reduced capacity, many parents’ careers—particularly mothers’ careers—are getting deprioritized.
When Salpy Kabaklian-Slentz left her job in April because her family was moving to Southern California, she thought she’d be able to devote her days to job searching and then start working again soon enough. Three months later, she’s struggled to find any open positions similar to the one she gave up, as a local-government attorney.
Her main task these days is looking after her and her husband’s boys, two “bundles of energy” ages 6 and 4. Kabaklian-Slentz’s husband, also a lawyer, has mostly been going into the office, but when he works from home, he’s protective of his time. “He’s not only locked the office door but barricaded the sofa in front of it to get stuff done,” she told me. “Otherwise the kids pop in every two seconds.”
It takes a special kind of inattention to human suffering to not notice how unfortunate it is that people have been left to face death alone.
Of all the wrongdoings of this pandemic, the one that haunts me most is how people are left to die alone. Health-care workers have been heroic throughout all this, but they do not replace the loved ones whom the dying need to be with, and speak with, even if only one last time.
A hallmark of COVID-19 has been the speed with which some patients have crashed, going from feeling only a little sick to being unable to breathe, sometimes in the space of a few hours. Such a crash often necessitates intubation, a process that then renders one incapable of speaking. Many people on ventilators are also heavily sedated and unconscious, to keep them from pulling out the invasive tubes going down their throat. Thus, sometimes with little warning, all communication is lost, and more often than not, a patient is without family or loved ones when this happens.